Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Quote of the day.

Former Republican Congressman Wayne Gilchrest
I hate to say this, but ignorance, arrogance and dogma are pervasive in the world, and they certainly are pervasive in the Republican Party.

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Dear First Read…

If your lede is "RNC Chairman Michael Steele said today…", you're writing the wrong story.

Unless, of course, he said "I quit."


Upper Left

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Sir Charles...
(Michael) Moore is a visceral rather than analytical thinker, which means that for every direct hit he scores, there is a dud or at best a glancing blow struck.
He is also, I am informed, larger than average in a fashion that makes his weight disproportionate to his height. Still, I still can't wait to see the new movie.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Not a great gridiron weekend...

...for the hometown teams, making it a bit more gratifying to get home from the salt mine perfect tavern to find that my fantasy team remains undefeated despite a bit of a Monday night comeback by this weeks opponent. Makes me first in my division, fourth in the league.

Yeah, I'm a bit obsessed with this stuff. I'll try not too be too self-indulgent here, but there are bound to be updates.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

It's time for...

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Saturday Night Huskies!

Your University of Washington Huskies face off against Stanford for the top of the pile in the PAC 10 tonight. Bold prediction time - they break the tie for first with a 24-13 victory.

Go Dawgs!

First quarter update: Well, I blew the 13 part of the prediction. C'mon Huskies, sic 'em!

And then the end. Darn. Oh well, go get 'em next week, Huskies!

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From the "What he said" file.

Unemployment Is Our Measurement Device
Or, as I always say sometimes, if it's jobless, it isn't a recovery.

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All I want is loving you...

...and music, music, music. Another random ten. I'm kind of pleased with the range here...
Susan & The Surftones - Bitchin'
The Specials - The Man With No Name
The Dimensions - Penny
Crazy Mary - Brian Jones
Joan Osborne - Shake The Devil
Johnny Cash - I Never Picked Cotton
The Stray Cats - Please Don't Touch
Buck Owens - Loose Talk
Don Williams - Listen To The Radio
Odetta - Joshua

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A timely reminder…

…in the wake of the ACORN video entrapments...
Remember: if you represent a Democratic group or organization, in the age of YouTube and cell phone video you’re basically on camera all the time.
Sage counsel no matter who you represent, or don't. These days it's best to assume you're being filmed - in the store, on the street, at the gas station, on the job.

James Vega has more good advice for activists in the new media era here.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Five more reasons…

...that the right way in Afghanistan is out. AP via NYT...
The military says five U.S. troops have died in attacks in southern Afghanistan, where American and NATO forces have ramped up operations against the Taliban.

And no, it's not over in the other over there, either.

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From the "When you put it that way…" file.

NYT-CBS News poll
"Would you favor or oppose the government offering everyone a government administered health insurance plan -- something like the Medicare coverage that people 65 and older get -- that would compete with private health insurance plans?"

Favor 65%
Oppose 26%

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

RE: United States Code Title 36 Chapter 10

Chuck Norris, scofflaw...
(If you insist on posting a modern USA flag, too, then get one that is tea-stained to show your solidarity with our Founders.)
What, deliberately stain the Flag? For display? There oughta be a law!

Oh, wait...

Hat tip to Steve Benen.

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I just hate it…

…when I think Republicans are right. From The Washington Independent (my emphasis)...
The ruckus began last week when the federal Medicare agency announced an investigation into Humana for letters the insurance giant had mailed to seniors warning that the Democrats’ health reform plans were threatening their private insurance coverage, called Medicare Advantage. The letters urged the seniors to contact their lawmakers opposing the legislation.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services claim those letters represent a breach of contract, because CMS requires MA sponsors to screen such mailings through the agency. CMS has barred all MA sponsors from sending similar messages to their customers. Republicans, though, say the First Amendment trumps the CMS guidelines.
I don't think blocking HHS confirmations is the best way to establish Constitutional principles, but a political gag order as a condition of a government contract sounds like a pretty cut and dried violation of 1st Amendment.

The civil libertarian in me is pretty sure that "no law" means no law, regulation, compact or clause. I'd like to think there are other Democrats who agree, and I hope we hear from them soon.

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Happy birthday, Arthur!

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

From the "Since you asked…" file.

David Brooks and Gail Collins show a total disregard for the value of pixels by using some to ask
Why can’t the Democrats and the Republicans find common ground on such an important issue?
…but since they asked, because the Republicans don't want to.


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From the "If you lie, we will call you out" file.

PG&E Chairman and CEO Peter Darbee in a letter announcing the company's resignation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce...
We find it dismaying that the Chamber neglects the indisputable fact that a decisive majority of experts have said the data on global warming are compelling and point to a threat that cannot be ignored. In our opinion, an intellectually honest argument over the best policy response to the challenges of climate change is one thing; disingenuous attempts to diminish or distort the reality of these challenges are quite another.
Hat tip to Under The Influence.

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Cantor Surrenders.

The Minority Whip admits...
“All of us know the ascendancy of our party is going to be premised on whether people really believe that we’re deserving of leadership again, not that we’re just here throwing bombs or obstructing, that we’re thoughtful, responsible.”
Well, then, they might as well pack it in. It seems that even Eric Cantor agrees...

Hat tip to Brad at Where's Eric Cantor?

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The NYT...
WASHINGTON — President Obama is exploring alternatives to a major troop increase in Afghanistan, including a plan advocated by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to scale back American forces and focus more on rooting out Al Qaeda there and in Pakistan, officials said Tuesday.
The Biden plan sounds like a decent first step on the road out. Go with Joe, Barry.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

From the "If wishes were horses…" file.

David Brooks (emphasis mine)...
The one danger -- the main danger of all this, the Glenn and the Rush and all that -- they're not going to take over the country. But they are taking over the Republican Party.

And so if the Republican Party is sane, they will say no to these people. But every single elected leader in the Republican Party is afraid to take on Rush and Glenn Beck.
As if.

Hat tip to David Neiwert.

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From the "Since you asked…" file.

Goldy wonders...
So could it be that the type of public podium-rattling many of us progressives demand, just isn’t a good fit to Cantwell’s wonkish personality, or to the brand of quiet, insider leadership she seems to prefer? And do we make a mistake by assuming she’s less progressive than she really is?
Since you asked, yes.

I've known Maria for twenty five years now, and I'd say her personality and political style is more informed by her Indiana upbringing than her ideology. The bottom line with Maria, the reason I'm an unqualified fan despite occasional disagreement, is that I've always found her to have a bedrock integrity - she may not be doing what I think is the right thing on some issue, but she's doing it for what she thinks are the right reasons for her constituents and her country, and under those reasons you'll find a solidly liberal foundation.

Sometimes she turns out to be right when I was wrong, too.

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And as usual…

what digby said, too.
"Escalation is a bad idea. The Democrats backed themselves into defending the idea of Afghanistan being The Good War because they felt they needed to prove their macho bonafides when they called for withdrawal from Iraq. Nobody asked too many questions sat the time, including me. But none of us should forget that it was a political strategy, not a serious foreign policy. There have been many campaign promises 'adjusted' since the election. There is no reason that the administration should feel any more bound to what they said about this than all the other committments it has blithely turned aside in the interest of 'pragmatism.'"
Have I mentioned that the right way in Afghanistan is out?

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What she said.

Glenn Beck, Keep Your Grubby Paws of Yom Kippur

Madeleine Begun Kane

Mr. Beck, you are bad to the bone,
So it’s time that you start to atone.
And stop trying to steal
Jewish holy days. Heel!
Kindly leave all my people alone.

The Bible thumpers can stow those Israeli flags, too.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

From the Department of Redundancy Department.

Pentagon wants more troops...

...for Afghanistan this time, but pretty much everywhere, historically or eventually. It's arguable that the Pentagon's job is to want more troops, and more of everything that goes with them.

That's why we have civilian control of the military.

And the right way in Afghanistan is still out.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

It's time for...

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Map of the day.

AP, via Yahoo News...

If it's jobless, it isn't a recovery.

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Washington stuns No. 3 USC 16-13

Bow down to Washington,
Bow down to Washington,
Mighty are the men
Who wear the purple and the gold,
Joyfully we welcome them
Within the victors fold.
We will carve their names (names!)
In the Hall of Fame (fame!)
To preserve the memory of our devotion.
So heaven help the foes of Washington;
They're trembling at the feet
Of mighty Washington,
Our boys are there with bells (bells!),
Their fighting blood excels (excels!),
It's harder to push them over the line
Than pass the Dardanelles.
So victory's the cry of Washington
Our leather lungs together
With a Rah! Rah! Rah!
And o'er the land
The loyal band
Will sing the glory
Of Washington forever.

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Oh, by the way…


...and Shona Tova me hearties.

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Happy Husky Day!

Rainy Saturdays suck, except when USC's in town. Rain makes Trojans cry.

Go Dawgs!

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100% random…

…and 40% 'kicker cuts. About right…
Hoyt Axton - Less Than A Song
Merle Haggard - Hungry Eyes
Joni Mitchell - Edith And The Kingpin
Tolo Marton - It's Getting Late
Big Bill Broonzy - Terrible Operation Blues
The Mercy Boys - Mercy Mercy
Woody Guthrie - I Ain't Got No Home
Buck Owens - Streets Of Bakersfield
Townes Van Zandt - Tecumseh Valley
Groove Armada - Love Box

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Good question…

...from Paul Krugman...
How bad does a bill have to be to make it too bad to vote for?
The subject, of course, is health insurance reform, which is problematic to begin with. Nobody's really talking about health care at this point. That discussion would be about a single payer or national health plan. For folks like me, who believe that the private health insurance industry is a, if not the, central problem with our system today, all of the bills under serious consideration are "bad" bills to the degree that their central focus is preserving the private health insurance industry's profitability.

Perhaps an even better question is how good does a bill have to be to make it good enough to vote for? If the eventual bad bill includes elimination of pre-existing condition exclusions, lifetime maximums and cost-driven cancellations, it would be, at the least, a better than nothing bill. If the same bill includes a personal mandate without a public option, would it still be good enough, for the time being, at least, to vote for?

Probably. As an uninsured worker still seven years away from our current single payer for seniors health care system, I don't really expect to get any personal benefit from anything under current discussion. Any premium I might be able to afford, publicly or privately administered, would almost certainly include deductibles and co-pays that would make it essentially worthless to me. While some fret about the healthy young who would duck insurance costs without a mandate, the simple fact is that most of us who live without health insurance or health care do so simply because at the end of the month there's no money left for health expenses.

Sill, while I'm an advocate for replacement, rather than reform, of the current system, there's no doubt that even elementary reforms like those mentioned above would be a benefit to millions, if not to me.

So how bad does a bill have to be to make it too bad to vote for?

Worse than most anything we're hearing about so far, I'm afraid.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dear New York Times…

...if your lede is "Senator Olympia Snowe talks about her views on the latest health care bills…" you're writing the wrong story.


Upper Left

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...& Mary, RIP.

Mary Travers

November 9, 1936 – September 16, 2009

She knew what to sing and how to sing it.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Across the Cascade Curtain…

…the current occupant of Tom Foley's seat polishes up her wingnut credentials...
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Surrounded by a group of parents clutching pictures of their special needs children, two Republican members of Congress stood in front of the Capitol on Tuesday and warned that President Obama's proposed health care system will lead to a rationing of care for children with disabilities.
Yep, that was Cathy McMorris-Rodgers up there with Arizona's Trent Franks, playing the Palin card, and like Palin, they lied…
McMorris-Rodgers could not point to any specific language in the legislation currently before Congress that would deny health care to disabled children, but she said she and the families were worried that a government-run health insurance plan would give power to a government bureaucrat who would be able to decide whether or not "certain procedures or certain devices" would be covered for individuals.

The independent fact-checker PolitiFact wrote last month that there "is no panel in any version of the health care bills in Congress that judges a person's 'level of productivity in society' to determine whether they are 'worthy' of health care."
McMorris-Rodgers not only joins Palin in politically exploiting her own Downs Syndrome child, but like her apparent new role model from the north, she does it with a lie made up out of whole cloth.

McMorris-Rodgers likes to project a moderate image, but this move puts her squarely in the ranks of the tactical extremists in her party who will say or do anything to obstruct progress and to instill and exploit the climate of fear that their radical, fundamentally un-American ideology requires for survival.

Hat tip to Steve Benen.

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Riddle me a riddle.

What grows five times faster than your paycheck?
Magpie has the answer over at Pacific Views.

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Times change…

…but sometimes the players don't. Ed Kilgore notes the growing influence, via the promotional efforts of Glenn Beck, of the venerable crank W. Cleon Skousen, who provides...
...a sort of intellectual framework for the highly paranoid worldview of the Tea Party movement that Beck has done so much to promote. In his very colorful career, which earned him a big fat "dangerous extremist" file with his former employers at the FBI, Skousen gained most notice in the early 60s as a fellow traveler and stout defender of the John Birch Society (after Birch founder Robert Welch had been read out of the conservative movement for contending that Dwight D. Eisenhower was a communist).
Yep, they're the people our parents warned us about, people our parents thought they'd dealt with.

Another thing hasn't changed. Eternal vigilance is still the price of liberty.

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Quote of the day.

Neil Gabler on the 21st century G.O.P…
Let’s not mince words here: We now have an entire political party that is not only dedicated to the mediocre. It is dedicated to the nearly deranged.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

From the "Like rain on your wedding day" file.

Goldy, on the the County Exec race…
Kinda ironic for Hutchison to lose the Chamber of Commerce’s endorsement when a central theme of her campaign has been her promise to declare the county “open for business.”

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From the "Encouraging words" file.

Foreign via Howie
House defense spending cardinal John Murtha, an early bellwether of congressional opposition to the Iraq war, has made his strongest comments yet opposing more U.S. troops for the war in Afghanistan.
Murtha's dissent comes at a critical juncture, with the Washington debate heating up and public support for the war effort dropping. The Pennsylvania congressman is only the latest senior Democratic lawmaker to come out against a troop increase, following similar statements last week by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin.
Word seems to be getting around - the right way in Afghanistan is out.

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The 9/12 marchers were right!

No, not those 9/12 marchers. These 9/12 marchers...

Health care reform supporters march up Chestneet Street in Bellingham Friday, Sept. 12

Seems to me that single payer's still the only health care solution that can bring supporters into the streets, and no matter what kind of insurance reform Congress eventually passes, there are folks who will only see it as an incremental victory in the long fight for universal care, as opposed to insurance, an idea that was rejected out of hand in this round.

Yep, I'm one of those folks.

Hat tip to Sam Taylor.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

RE: United States Code Title 36 Chapter 10‎

TPM Reader AG from the 9/12 to-do...
Interestingly not a lot of American flags but a lot of other flags...
Guess you had to look down to see 'em. Oliver was there with a camera...

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You've got to be taught... hate and fear
You've got to be taught from year to year
It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made
And people whose skin is a different shade
You've got to be carefully taught

You've got to be taught before it's too late
Before you are six or seven or eight
To hate all the people your relatives hate
You've got to be carefully taught
You've got to be carefully taught

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein

Photo via Ron Chusid.

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From the "Slightly bowdlerized" file.

Tbogg on the teabagging seniors, slightly bowdlerized...
If they didn't burn their Medicare cards,
they're just a bunch of f*cking posers.
Or if they did, for that matter.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

It's time for...

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Whatever you may have heard... didn't come from ABC News...
At no time did ABC News, or its affiliates, report a number anywhere near as large. reported an approximate figure of 60,000 to 70,000 protesters, attributed to the Washington, D.C., fire department. In its reports, ABC News Radio described the crowd as "tens of thousands."

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A fine mess...

...or a nice mix. It's all a matter of perspective...
Big Bill Broonzy - I'm Woke Up Now
Rotary Connection - I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun
Tolo Marton - My Place Is Close To You
The Seeds - Can't Seem To Make You Mine
The Sonics - Maintaining My Cool
The Delfonics - Ready Or Not Here I Come
Baja Marimba Band - Brasilia
Oingo Boingo - On The Outside
Demented Are Go - Rubber Rock
Tony Bennett - The Way You Look Tonight

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Pike '12 Watch…

Via Sam Taylor...
CNN grabs Glenn Beck/Jon Stewart city key story
Feel the Danmentum.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

From the "Slightly bowdlerized" file.

Thers, slightly Bowdlerized...
The point is, Wilson is a piece of sh*t; that he is a rude piece of sh*t, is not very important.
In other words, the point is that Wilson is a Republican, and just another example of why, though he's nothing more than an ineffectual, if somewhat noisy, backbencher…

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Yes, but…

Steve Benen, on the Census Department's report of increasing poverty and declining incomes...
The economy simply didn't function as it's supposed to during the Bush era.
Yes, but I suspect it functioned the way they intended it to.

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The truth…

…and nothing but from DougJ...
There is no question, at this point, that the defining feature of today’s politics is the complete craziness of the Republican party.

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Quote of the Speech.

President Obama, citing a letter from the late Senator Kennedy in his address to the tonight's joint session of Congress...
“What we face is above all a moral issue; at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.”

Found the transcript at Americablog first.

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Maybe, but…

Gallup, via Political Wire
Sixty-one percent of Americans approve and 28% disapprove of the job the Supreme Court is doing.
Maybe, but it's hard to believe that 61% of Americans have any idea what the Supreme Court is doing, let alone how they're doing it.

Or 28%, for that matter.

Just sayin'.

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Chart of the day.

Via Nick Beaudrot at Donkeylicious...

If you click it big enough, you can just about see that blue line.

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Another reason…

…that the right way in Afghanistan is out. From Fixer
The British called them "Colonial Governors". We call him "Karzai".

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From the "Dan Pike for Governor" file.

Via Sam Taylor at the Bellingham Herald
September 4, 2009

Jon Stewart
c/o The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
733 11th Avenue
New York, NY 10019-5051

Dear Mr. Stewart and Daily Show Producers:

My name is Dan Pike, and I am the Mayor of Bellingham, Washington. I also went to Lawrence High School, Jon Stewart’s alma mater, a few years ahead of him (Class of 1975), though I never knew him and doubt he ever knew me.

I am writing because I am currently the Mayor of Bellingham, Washington, a community of about 80,000 between Vancouver, BC and Seattle, WA. The next city south of us on I-5, Mount Vernon (pop. 30,000), has just announced they are giving the keys to that city to Glenn Beck, a native son. The news got me to thinking that if they could give Beck a key simply for being born there, perhaps Bellingham could provide a key to Mr. Stewart for the better reasons of providing cogent yet comedic analysis of news events and personalities on a daily basis, as well as being an alumnus of the same high school as Bellingham’s Mayor. I was particularly moved and informed by the Daily Show’s recent analysis of the evolution of Glenn Beck’s feelings about the US healthcare system over the past couple of years.

We are bigger and better than Mount Vernon, and so are interested in a bigger, better star to receive our key. As an added bonus, should Mr. Stewart accept, we would try to track down Stephen, the eagle from the Colbert Report who frequently lives in our county, so Jon could have a personal sighting. If Mr. Colbert would like to receive a key to Bellingham, too, he is also welcome. If Mr. Stewart cannot come to Bellingham to accept, perhaps I could deliver it at some time in the months ahead, when I come to Lawrenceville to visit my mother.

While this is a joke of sorts, intended as a counterpoint to the Beck event in Mount Vernon, the offer is serious.

I may be contacted through my office at (360) 778-8100, on my cell phone at (redacted), or via email at

Thanks for your consideration; keep up the great work!

Dan Pike,
City of Bellingham, Washington
Dan Pike. 2012. You heard it here first.

And yes, Bellingham, home to the Brilliant and Beautiful Bride of Upper Left's alma mater, is better than Mount Vernon, but, hey, feint praise that.

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Monday, September 07, 2009

Happy Labor Day!

I'll be working, but if you're not (heck, even if you are too), it's a good day to remember those who wish they were, and that America needs EFCA.

If you're nearby, drop in to the perfect tavern and I'll try to make your day a bit happier (or at least a bit more, ahem, spirited).

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Sunday, September 06, 2009

It's time for...

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Saturday, September 05, 2009

Chart of the day.

Via Brad DeLong...

Click it bigger? Absolutely!

No matter how good the news may sound, or even be, if it's jobless, it isn't a recovery.

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It feels like fall.

The ground is wet this morning, the breeze is crisp, and a few miles south of me the University of Washington Huskies are in the midst of their pre-game rituals as they prepare to do battle with L.S.U. on the shores of Lake Washington.

At least I hope it's a battle. I mean, it's L.S.U., ya' know? Tough starter. But hell, GO DAWGS!

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Though I'm not on Facebook...

...this still sums up my status pretty well…
No one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick.
No one. Not in America.

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I'm not over it yet…

…I guess. This one got to me. Clay Bennett of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, via Laura at Can't Keep Quiet...

Sure, click it bigger.

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Random enough, I reckon.

A little garage popping up this time. Nice break from the same old…
Country Joe McDonald - Quiet Days In Clichy, Pt II
The Bards - Light Of Love
Buck Owens - Gonna Have Love
The Impressions - We're A Winner
New Riders Of The Purple Sage - La Bamba
Billy Walker - Cross The Brazos At Waco
Stew - Bermuda Love Triangle
Emily Lord - Hey Joe
Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys - New San Antonio Rose
The Barbarians - Moulty

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Friday, September 04, 2009

Good question…

…from Robert Reich.
Why aren't we hearing more about the worst job and wage situation since the Great Depression?

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From the "Just the facts…" file.

A fact from Brad DeLong...
It's a fact that the economists who make a living by selling their analyses of the economy to manufacturing firms that need information about demand and to financial firms that need information about profits are overwhelmingly assessing that the Obama short-run deficit-spending program has been and is being and will be effective. It's only those economists who make a living by pleasing Republican politicians who are skeptical.
.Which is all very nice, but more jobs, faster would be even more so.

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Don't just stand there...

Gates open to more troops in Afghanistan
…close 'em!

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

WA state state GOP executive board member Nansen Malin
“We want everyone to have quality healthcare, but I am against universal health care.”
Right. I mean, America is all that and everything, but even we can't cover the whole dang universe. Let's start with our whole dang country, and then work our way around the world (though we're kind of late to the barn raising, as it were) before we tackle the universe.

You think that's what she meant?

Hat tip to Jon DeVore.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

From the "Me too" file.

The DNC sez…
"Dick Cheney, wrong then, wrong now."
Me too, but they bought airtime.

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OK, be clear…

…but you'll have to try again, because clarity seems to have eluded you this time. Adam Bink writes at Open Left…
Let me be clear: I'm for having the necessary amount of troops on the ground to win the war, within reason. My problem is with the Administration's refusal to lay out what is victory and how we will achieve it.
Of course, it's not really fair to pick on Mr. Bink. It wouldn't take long to come up with a list of similar expressions, but his is both timely and exemplary. It's based, I think, on the longstanding progressive critique of the Bush/Rumsfeld administration's abandonment of the "good" war in Afghanistan in favor if the Iraqi adventure. It's a critique that President Obama himself advanced during his campaign, and has been the base of his policy in office. As the conditions on the ground have changed over a period of eight years, though, it's led too many to the kind of self-contradiction expressed above.

How, I wonder, can you be in favor of having any force, necessary and/or reasonable, if you don't first know what victory is and how we will achieve it. Isn't the size of the force, it's need and rationality, dependent on the goal, the definition of victory?

They say the memory is the second thing to go, and I'm getting on, but as I remember we entered Afghanistan with three identifiable and arguably defensible goals. The first was to destroy it's capacity as a training and operational base for Al Qaeda. We accomplished that swiftly and handily. The second was to punish the Taliban government that had given them safe harbor by deposing them. That, too, was the matter of a brief and decisive battle. Finally, in the wake of an unconscionable attack on American sovereign territory and the death and destruction attendant to those attacks, we set out to kill or capture as much of the Al Qaeda high command as possible, and in particular their spokesman, strategist and financier, Osama Bin Laden.

The second goal, though apparently swiftly achieved, continues to be a stumbling block for adherents of the disgraced former Secretary of State Colin Powell's "Pottery Barn rule." The rule fails in Afghanistan, though, because we didn't break it. It's been broken for centuries, and centuries of outside interference have caused the debris to spread far beyond Afghani borders. Some of it spilled into ours, and we swept it out of our path. If Afghanistan were to organize itself in such a way that it could accept and distribute humanitarian aid, it would certainly be a candidate with other countries that receive American largesse, whether publicly or privately provided. The level of American military force that would be required in order to effect and enforce such an organization of Afghanistan, though, in time, treasure and blood, would defy any possible conception of "within reason." Its impossibility, by the same token, renders its need moot. We didn't break it. We needn't buy it. And we're only making it worse.

Still there's concern. AT Vet Voice, Richard Smith expresses some of the resulting frustration, writing that…
...the status quo is unacceptable, and allowing a Taliban faction which would again allow al-Qaeda free operation is as as well.
Smith's hardly the only one concerned that the Taliban are the most, or the only, likely candidate to fill the vacuum of an allied withdrawal. Less often mentioned, it seems, is what that says about the prospects for any "victory" that would produce a Taliban-free Afghanistan. Why anyone, especially the Taliban themselves, who have been the direct targets of the shock and awe of American brute force, would imagine that they would, or could, "again allow al-Qaeda free operation" particularly puzzles me. Any Afghani government should by now be very aware that.

Finally, there's Osama. The missed and missing target. The guy Bush let go when he went after Saddam. While killing or capturing Bin Laden and his leadership cadre wouldn't address any of the actual causes of international fundamentalist terror, it would produce the promised pony that so many Americans have shoveled so much manure in search of. The problem with the search for Osama et al is that it's no longer an Afghani problem, but a Pakistani problem, and his presence in Pakistan, ostensibly an American ally, presents a different, and in some ways more difficult, set of problems. None of those problems can be solved by sending more Americans to kill more Afghanis who will in turn kill more Americans.

The "necessary" number of troops approximates zero. Victory seems to looks just like withdrawal.

The right way in Afghanistan is out.

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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

From the "Me neither" file.

Dave Freiboth, Executive Secretary of the King County Labor Council, on the prospects of a last minute write-in campaign for Seattle Mayor by State Senator Ed Murray…
"It's kind of saying, 'you voters are so damn emotional, do you know what you did?' That's kind of patronizing. As a voter, I don't want to be treated like that."
Me neither.

By and large, Ed Murray's one of the good guys, but this sounds like a bad idea.

And isn't there a referendum on one of his bills that he should be focused on?

Update: The Senator, apparently, agrees.

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From the "Me too" file.

Juan Cole has yet another reason that the right way in Afghanistan is out...
I doubt the US & NATO have the sheer resources to put down the guerrillas in Afghanistan.
Me too.

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