Tuesday, September 30, 2008

what is up with these McTies?

(M. Lyons, Getty)

Honestly, would you trust this guy to. . . well, to do much of anything? The eye rolling and sarcasm, the angry, whiny tone and manic behavior, that would be enough, but those ties! I previously decried Friday’s hypnotastic disaster, but I think Monday’s choice in neckwear may be worse. It looks like he forgot to pack a tie, so he just grabbed a tablecloth from that little Italian place on the corner and wrapped it around his throat.

The gingham check is bad, but the width is even worse. It is not completely obvious in this picture, but this tie is HUGE! It looked on TV like it’s five inches wide! Dare I suggest this was one he had leftover from his first campaign?

You know the joke “I’ve got neckties older than that”? Well, no one has ties older than John McCain, but, clearly, John McCain has ties older than many voters.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

for whom the cow bell tolls. . .

I grew up a Dodgers fan, and I still am, first and foremost, a Dodgers fan, but, having lived all of my adult life in New York City, I have seen many more games at Shea Stadium than at my beloved Chavez Ravine. I only came to this realization on Sunday as I took in one last game from Section 21, Row C, Seat 14—my summer Sunday home for the last decade. Here are a few random moments from my day.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

McCain’s Gerald Ford moment

Looking back on 1976, many historians and casual observers alike will tell you that if President Gerald Ford ever had a chance against challenger Jimmy Carter, that chance disappeared when, during a debate, the president forcefully declared, “There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.”

Ford was given a chance to correct his assertion in a follow-up, but he stuck to his guns, even underscoring the point by saying that Yugoslavia, Romania, and Poland were “independent” and “autonomous.”

Here’s what Time magazine had to say about what they called “The Blooper Heard Round the World” back in October of 1976:

Thus, in his second debate with Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford made what could well be the most damaging statement of his career. For any politician, calling Eastern Europe free would be an amazing gaffe. For a President, especially one who is running partly on a campaign theme of experience in foreign policy, the mistake reawakened many voters' suspicions that Ford is a bumbier [sic].

Fast-forward 32 years, and a candidate who is, yes, “running partly on a campaign theme of experience in foreign policy” makes a mistake that is possibly a bigger fo-pol faux pas than Ford’s.

You heard that right, John McCain called the Pakistan of the late 1990s a “failed state.” To quote Max Bergmann, that is simply “not true.”

McCain just badly misstated the history of Pakistan. For someone claiming extensive foreign policy knowledge, this is simply not acceptable.

[emphasis added]

Darn, if that don’t sound familiar. Here (again, courtesy of Bergmann) is what really happened:

Musharraf took power in a military coup in 1999 when he deposed Nawaz Sharif - who recently participated in the latest election. The coup followed the 1999 war in Kashmir with India and was due to a power struggle with Sharif, not due to Pakistan being a "failed state." The United States did not welcome the Musharraf coup. Instead the government of the United States imposed sanctions against this action.

Remember Pakistan had nuclear weapons in 1999. Did McCain believe that there was a failed state that possessed nuclear weapons? If he did he showed no concern at the time.

And I do think that McCain’s blunder is bigger than Ford’s. While Gerald Ford made the mistake of garbling his talking points on whether the Soviets had gotten the better of a 1975 trade pact—and then, rather than correcting his error, tried instead to look more sure and presidential—John McCain seemed to believe his contention that Pakistan was a failed state prior to the military coup that elevated General Pervez Musharraf.

Either that, or McCain was just vamping—which, given the import of the office he seeks and the delicate nature of US-Pakistani relations, is probably worse.

One might say that such behavior is erratic or unstable. To paraphrase Time: it might even have reawakened many voters’ suspicions that McCain is dangerous.

Will such a dangerous gaffe hurt McCain the way Ford’s big-league bumble derailed his campaign? Claiming that Poland was not under Soviet control is thought to have swung votes in crucial northern states with large Polish-American populations. Whether Pakistani-Americans in this cycle’s swing states will take similar offense at McCain’s slight (or whether voters of any stripe will be more basically appalled) remains to be seen.

(h/t Rachel Maddow)

(cross-posted on capitoilette, The Seminal, and Daily Kos)

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Friday, September 26, 2008

and the winner of tonight’s presidential debate is. . .

John McCain’s tie!

Not because I liked it, but because its not-safe-for-TV stripe pattern grabbed most of the attention.

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but it just amazes me that Team McCain keeps making TV production gaffs. From the primary night in front of the “green screen of death” to the Walter Reed Jr. High lawn and blue screen of death at the RNC—and now to his moiré triggering tie—the McCain campaign keeps staging things terribly for television.

I expect to have a more, shall we say, substantive set of observations later. . . tune in tomorrow.

* Again, the TIE won, not McCain.

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McCain: still crazy after all these years

Well, if I said once, I’ve said it a thousand times: once an asshole, always an asshole.

No wonder John McCain "suspended" his presidential campaign Wednesday to focus in a bipartisan manner on a grave national crisis -- he's been pulling the same stunt for nearly a decade now, boosting his poll ratings by pretending not to care about them.

You probably remember his suspension of the Republican National Convention's first day of business in order to raise funds and awareness for the victims of Hurricane Gustav (a move that, besides allowing umpteen convention speakers to praise McCain's selfless patriotism, neatly airbrushed the unpopular sitting president and vice president from the proceedings).

But McCain first used the tactic to spectacular effect way back in March 1999, when -- even though his White House run had been chugging along for five months -- he postponed the "official announcement" of his candidacy so that the nation could focus as one on the week-old war in Kosovo. "It's not appropriate at this time," the somber senator said then, "to launch a political campaign."

How did that play out? As McCain's sympathetic first biographer, Robert Timberg, wrote, "His decision amounted to a masterful political stroke."

This, of course, confirms a couple of things for us. First, it goes to show that this idea that there once lived a good and principled McCain that was replaced somewhere during the last eight years with this cynical, pandering model is nothing but another McMyth. The Arizona Republican was an angry, unstable, self-absorbed, preening asshole the day he landed in Washington, and he is just the same today. Second, the “suspension,” if not abundantly clear already, was never intended to be anything more than a campaign stunt.

But there is something different about this post—the above quote is from a column by Matt Welch, editor of Reason. It is not often that you are going to find me singing the praises of a prominent libertarian. Well, get your cameras ready; I am about to do it some more.

But if McCain's latest "country-first" outburst is a mostly empty symbol in terms of actual campaigning, it's a meaningful one in other ways. By taking what was originally Obama's behind-the-scenes initiative of cobbling together a joint candidate statement on the bailout package and opportunistically turning that into yet another chance to portray his patriotism as shinier than his opponent's, McCain is ripping what little facade remains over his campaign. This is not an election about ideas or policy; it's an election about a Great Man, facing down an interloper.

The upside to running a Great Man campaign against Obama is obvious: The Illinois senator is untested and comparatively unvetted at a time of war. . . .

And, in general, the more of the next few weeks that can be used up stressing vague issues of patriotism and "cleaning up Wall Street," the better McCain's chances of continuing to avoid any talk of the elements of his record that key parts of his GOP coalition despise. . . .

But as many Great Men come to learn, there is a colossal downside built into running a campaign on outsized personal virtue. The line between stoic, honorable service and showy moral vanity is oftentimes difficult to maintain.

And when a candidate confuses his own political ambitions with the fortunes of his country, that's when Great Men turn into self- parodies.

"I have craved distinction in my life," McCain wrote in his 2002 political memoir, "Worth the Fighting For." "I have wanted renown and influence for their own sake. That is, of course, the great temptation of public life. ... I have never been able to conquer it permanently, but I have tried."

Don't say he didn't warn us.

Welch has spent years chronicling the dick circus that McCain calls his career, and I think that perspective has paid off here. I am, myself, a little embarrassed at how much space I have expended on McSame’s shenanigans, rather than the real issues of the day. But McCain and Palin are like that proverbial car wreck—and you can’t help but rubberneck. The difference here is that rather than driving by that wreck, in the case of these characters, the wreck is heading straight at us—so, even if it’s hypnotizing to watch, it’s still probably a good idea to sound the horn.

Interested in more honking? Click on over to capitoilette. . . .

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

sounds like an asshole I used to know

Senator Barack Obama quietly reaches out to Senator John McCain, McCain says "I’ll get back to you on that," Obama waits, and then McCain goes public with a self-serving, grandstanding statement.

Does that sound familiar? It sure did to me.

From a post I wrote on February 7, 2006:

On a weekend when his party was air-testing the “Hillary Clinton is too angry to be president” message, Republican presidential hopeful John McCain publicly rebuked Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) in what Matt Stoller called “the single most bitter, nasty letter I have ever seen from any Senator.”

Obama had approached the Senator from Arizona about working together on ethics legislation, and then sent a letter asking if McCain would think about co-sponsoring a plan drafted by moderate Democrats.

"I would like to apologize to you for assuming that your private assurances to me regarding your desire to cooperate in our efforts to negotiate bipartisan lobbying reform were sincere," McCain writes.

When you approached me and insisted that despite your leadership's preference to use the issue to gain a political advantage in the 2006 elections, you were personally committed to achieving a result that would reflect credit on the entire Senate and offer the country a better example of political leadership, I concluded your professed concern for the institution and the public interest was genuine and admirable. Thank you for disabusing me of such notions with your letter. . . . I'm embarrassed to admit that after all these years in politics I failed to interpret your previous assurances as typical rhetorical gloss routinely used in politics to make self-interested partisan posturing appear more noble. Again, sorry for the confusion, but please be assured I won't make the same mistake again.

And just to make sure Obama really, really understood how he felt, McCain closed with:

I understand how important the opportunity to lead your party's effort to exploit this issue must seem to a freshman Senator, and I hold no hard feelings over your earlier disingenuousness. Again, I have been around long enough to appreciate that in politics the public interest isn't always a priority for every one of us. Good luck to you, Senator.

And McCain’s motivation in breaking with the time-honored tradition of not publicly criticizing other members of the millionaire’s club? Atrios puts it this way:

The real subtext of this story is that McCain wants an opportunity to preen in front of the cameras and an adoring media as he waxes nonsensically about ‘reform’ for months as we head into the presidential primary season. Oh, and that McCain is pretty much an asshole.

Pretty much.

I had pretty much backed off using the McAsshole epithet in recent months in an effort to concentrate on the epic failures that are McCain’s policy positions, but when you read about the events of Wednesday—September 24, 2008—I really have to call a. . . well, I have to call an asshole an asshole.

It seems pretty clear now that the Obama campaign reached out to McCain first about issuing a joint statement on the economic crisis and bailout. While team Obama waited, either for a response from the McCain camp or for language to further negotiations, McCain unilaterally contacted the press to announce that he was “suspending” his campaign and returning to Washington to. . . actually, not sure what he plans to do except parachute into an institution that he hasn’t visited since April and, um, preen in front of the cameras.

That this move was anything but a political tactic, an attempt to reverse course on a really bad ten days on the Good Ship McCain, has been belied by the day’s events, the fact that nothing changed in the financial markets or on Capitol Hill between Monday and Wednesday, the 52% showing for Obama in Wednesday’s WaPo poll (along with many other bad numbers for McCain), the continued front-page focus on McCain’s lies about campaign manager/lobbyist Rick Davis’s ties to Freddie Mac, revelations that McCain hadn’t spent enough time prepping for Friday’s debate, Johnny Mac’s meeting with rich backer Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, Chris Dodd’s comments to Rachel Maddow that the Connecticut Senator had heard from Obama “numerous times,” but had “never heard from McCain on the issue” of the economic crisis, the comedy-rich cancellation of McCain’s appearance on David Letterman (only to be caught using the time to sit down with Katie Couric), and the fact that McCain is, as of this writing, still in New York, likely on his way to shake a few hands at the meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, before he finds his way to DC for what has now become a White House photo op.

And, of course, there was that accidentally leaked memo telling McCain surrogates how to spin this “suspension” to the press.

One’s gotta ask, “Just what does ‘suspend the campaign’ mean?”

Oh, wait, let me rephrase that: “Just what does ‘suspend the campaign’ mean, asshole?

(cross-posted on The Seminal and Daily Kos)

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

country club first

By now most of you know about McCain’s call to suspend the campaign, as well as Friday’s debate, in order to concentrate on fixing the Bush-McCain-Gramm financial crisis. That’s supposed to make him look all presidential, above the fray, putting, as they love to belabor, “country first.”

But the timing of this—and the timeline of McCain’s Wednesday behavior—tells quite a different story.

The day started with Team Obama contacting the McCain campaign to draft a joint statement detailing what both presidential candidates could agree upon moving forward on this week’s bailout debate. While Obama’s people were waiting for a response, however, McCain was exercising his leadership skills by taking a private meeting with Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, the superrich international financier who once supported the campaign of Sen. Hillary Clinton, but recently tried to make a big deal of her switch to McCain because she believed that Barack Obama was. . . wait for it. . . “elitist.”

So, to recap: Obama takes the lead by trying to hammer out a joint statement, McCain leaves Obama hanging while he rubs elbows with a rich backer, and then McCain announces he is “suspending” his campaign.

The Obama folks are still waiting on McCain to get back to them about the statement.

(h/t Gem Spa)

Just Breaking: Still President Bush has now weighed in with a McCain bailout plan (that would be a plan to bailout Sen. McCain, not any actual plan to fix the crisis that could have been authored by the Arizona blowhard), inviting both presidential candidates to the a White House powwow with other congressional leaders on Thursday. Obama has already accepted.

And Now Breaking: The two campaigns have finally released that “Joint Statement.” When I find the text, I will post a link.

The American people are facing a moment of economic crisis. No matter how this began, we all have a responsibility to work through it and restore confidence in our economy. The jobs, savings, and prosperity of the American people are at stake.

“Now is a time to come together – Democrats and Republicans – in a spirit of cooperation for the sake of the American people. The plan that has been submitted to Congress by the Bush Administration is flawed, but the effort to protect the American economy must not fail.

This is a time to rise above politics for the good of the country. We cannot risk an economic catastrophe. Now is our chance to come together to prove that Washington is once again capable of leading this country.

But, Obama wanted to say more. . . . Quoting the official Obama-Biden blog:

Speaking for himself, Senator Obama outlined the following principles that he calls on Senator McCain to support:

I believe that several core principles should guide this legislation.

First, there must be oversight. We should not hand over a blank check to the discretion of one man. We support an independent, bipartisan board to ensure accountability and complete transparency.

Second, we need to protect taxpayers. There should be a path for taxpayers to recover their money, and to turn a profit if Wall Street prospers.

Third, no Wall Street executive should profit from taxpayer dollars. This plan cannot be a welfare program for CEOs whose greed and irresponsibility has contributed to this crisis.

Fourth, we must help families who are struggling to stay in their homes. We cannot bail out Wall Street without helping millions of families facing foreclosure on Main Street.

Fifth, we both agree that this financial rescue package should move on its own without any earmarks or other measures. We have different views about the need for other action, but this must be a clean bill.

This is a time to rise above politics for the good of the country. We cannot risk an economic catastrophe. This is not a Democratic problem or a Republican problem – this is an American problem. Now, we must find an American solution.

To me, this reads as if the first paragraph was hammered out pretty easily, early in the day—it’s really hard to disagree with much there—but Sen. Obama wanted to go further, and was waiting for feedback from McCain. After a day of waiting while McCain suspended his campaign by talking to a wealthy campaign contributor, and later to CBS anchor Katie Couric, and then holing up in New York with his soul running mate, with events moving forward, the Obama team decided to just agree to release what they had and reiterate the additional points, the ones that the Illinois Democrat has been stressing all week.

(cross-posted on The Seminal)

MORE on Wednesday's campaign antics now up on capitoilette. . . .

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Monday, September 22, 2008

damn yankees: Steinbrenner. . . and Paulson!

Who would of thought that the connection between the end of Yankee Stadium and the end of capitalism as we know it was anything more than metaphorical?

I was surprised, too.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

McCain attacks ally once floated as his possible vp

Attempts to eat his own; winds up putting foot in mouth.

Republican presidential wannabe John McCain, desperate to find his footing on the US economic crisis, chose to attack Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox in a speech in Cedar Rapids, IA, today.

“The primary regulator of Wall Street, the Securities and Exchange Commission, kept in place trading rules that let speculators and hedge funds turn our markets into a casino,” McCain said.

“The chairman of the SEC serves at the appointment of the president and in my view, has betrayed the public's trust. If I were president today, I would fire him.”

McCain has been trying to find a way to distance himself from the Bush-era deregulation that he has consistently supported, and Cox was likely seen as the low hanging fruit—problem is, he’s not low-hanging enough. As ABC News has noted (h/t Sam Stein), “while the president nominates and the Senate confirms the SEC chair, a commissioner of an independent regulatory commission cannot be removed by the president.”

But that’s not the only absurd angle on McCain’s latest attempt to dance away from his record as a supporter of the system that has created the current economic crisis. McCain was part of the Senate that unanimously confirmed Cox in 2005, and the Arizona senator has said little about Cox since. And, as noted today by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), McCain has actually been to the right of Cox on regulatory issues.

How simpatico are Chris Cox and Johnny-Mac? Well, it was only this spring that Cox was considered one of the frontrunners for the Vice Presidential slot on the Republican ticket. Here’s Quin Hillyer writing for the uber-conservative American Spectator:

Chris Cox: The best choice [for VP], bar none. This thoughtful and reform-minded chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission made his name for 16 years as the brainiest and perhaps most principled Reaganite conservative in Congress, as well as one of the best on TV. In a brilliant column two weeks ago at this site, Lisa Fabrizio laid out the full argument in Cox's favor. Other columnists have also written that he would make a good Veep choice, among them Lisa Schiffren of National Review Online, Jack Kelly of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics, and the reviewer for Exurbanleague.com, which is the top-ranked conservative blog in McCain's home state of Arizona. Ditto for an article yesterday in the Financial Times and a column yesterday by John Gizzi of Human Events.

Cox is well thought of by just about every conservative columnist around, and respected by the David Broder institutionalists for his brains, diligence, and decency. He could probably help at least a little in Minnesota, where he grew up, and of course he is a favorite of the Californians he represented in Congress. Of great significance, perhaps, McCain himself was asked two Fridays ago at a bloggers' briefing which states he thought he might be able to move from the Democratic to the Republican column, and his first answer, the one he focused most on, was California. And McCain is sure to appreciate Cox's grit in coming back from a horrendous off-road vehicle accident three decades ago that left him partially paralyzed for a while.

Two days ago, McCain proposed “a 9-11 style commission” to look into the causes of our economic crisis—I believe that was the same day that John Boy boasted that as chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, he oversaw every aspect of the US economy (heckuva job, Johnny, btw). Today, the senator says that after he becomes president—in four months—he will fire a regulator he helped confirm (even though he can’t actually fire him and, as is being reported, Cox will likely step down at the end of the Bush Administration, anyway). The economic ship is taking on water and listing heavily, and McCain is still rearranging the deckchairs. Sad enough on its face, but infuriating (and the height of dishonesty, really) when you realize that John McCain was not only one of the builders of this boat, he helped drive it headlong into the iceberg.

(cross-posted on The Seminal)

More economic news and musings today over on capitoilette.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

through the legal looking glass

By this late date, it is not news that the Bush Administration has played fast and loose with the law—burying their wrongdoing in a mirror maze of official obfuscation, tortured logic, and secret legal opinions. What apparently is news is that flouting the law and not telling anyone isn’t technically illegal.

WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Brad Miller wants the Department of Justice to come out of the dark and embrace the sunlight.

Miller, a Raleigh Democrat, introduced legislation today that would force the Justice agency to give more information to Congress about what he calls “secret law.”

Such secrecy has been used in the past, as in a memo by legal counsel John Woo in 2003 that allowed for extreme interrogation techniques, according to Miller.

The bill would require the U.S. Attorney General to tell Congress whenever the executive branch decides it is not bound by federal law.

Coming as it did on Constitution Day—the 221st anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution—this one really has to make your head spin. We actually need to pass legislation to compel the Attorney General of the United States to report to the legislative branch when the executive branch plans to ignore violate federal law.

There is apparently some sort of loophole here? That’s what the very brief article tells us, but, seriously, folks, what are we talking about: is the loophole that the White House is allowed to violate the law, or just that they aren’t somehow required to tell anyone when they do?

While I certainly support any legislation that provides for more sunlight in such matters, when the President, the Vice President, the Attorney General, or any of a number of executive branch employees unilaterally decide that some laws were made to be broken, taking them to task for not telling you seems a terribly small first step.

By all means, make the executive declare openly which laws they plan to ignore violate—and then haul them before Congress when they do.

And then punish them for their crimes.

It’s a way of doing things best summed up by the phrase “A government of laws; not a government of men.” I don’t know how they roll in Wonderland, but that’s how we handle it in the United States. . . or at least used to.

(cross-posted on The Seminal and Daily Kos)

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

omg! it’s older than John McCain!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

wah tf?

Walking on the always delightful Doyers Street this weekend, I was horrified to find yellow DOH stickers on the window of my favorite dim sum joint, Nom Wah Tea Parlor. It is my favorite not so much for the food, which is fine, but for the decor and atmosphere—seemingly unchanged in 50 years. . . or more. There is never a crowd, and there is pretty much always a card game in back.

On Saturday night, the card game was still going behind those citrine warnings; let's hope that the rest of us get to play again soon.

(Nom Wah almond cookies – photo by me, 2003)

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Friday, September 12, 2008

the view to a kill?

Is it possible that the women of The View are the members of the establishment media with enough credibility and independence to call out Mr. Straight Talk, John McCain, for his never-ending string of lies?

Just maybe. . . .

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

so, what, it’s 9/11 week now?

I first noticed it on Sunday night. . . that would be Sunday, 9/7. . . and have seen it every following night this week. Here is my photo from September 10th, 2008.

I have generally been a supporter of this “Tribute in Light,” as it is called. I like the concept, even if the execution looks a bit half-assed (the columns are too thin and too close together, and they move around a bit from year to year, rather than consistently approximating the position of the World Trade Center in the New York skyline). And, questions about what kind of fuel is used to generate the electricity needed for that long night’s journey into day do leave me with an uneasy feeling about the lights being a symbol of some of the problems that lead to the attacks as much as it is a tribute to the victims. But, all that aside, I thought the lights were a relatively elegant and fairly solemn commemoration of the attacks and the lives lost on 9/11/2001.

Relatively elegant and fairly solemn compared to so much of the political opportunism and grand guignol that typically surround remembrances of the attacks; relatively elegant and fairly solemn if the columns of light appear on 9/11, on the exact anniversary, and are not trotted out every now and then, popping up here and there, until they become little more than Vegas-style spectacle, stripped of the majority of their meaning.

Which is why seeing the towers of light on September 7th. . . and 8th. . . and 9th. . . and 10th disturbs me.

It has, obviously, been the case that our country’s “leadership” has used the memory and images of the attacks for personal and political gain almost form the very second of impact, but it was somewhat heartening to believe that New York, and New Yorkers, having felt the impact of the attacks more personally, having lost friends and colleagues, having inhaled and tasted the dust of the collapsed towers, still considered the events of the day, and the day itself, basically sacrosanct.

But, living as I do in New York, I am beginning to see a shift. “Nine-eleven,” the event, and “ground zero,” the scene of the event, have become, for better or worse, a kind of tourist attraction—and I think that New York City, the government entity (rather than the community), has noticed.

Seven years removed from the carnage of 2001, people still come from every part of the country and every corner of the globe to catch a glimpse of “ground zero” (or, these days, to catch a glimpse of the fence around the construction site that used to be ground zero). I am sure that many of those that visit do so with the utmost respect, but one need only take a gander at the tee-shirts, crystal figurines, and snow globes sold all around lower Manhattan to know that something other than solemn tribute is also at play here.

As a resident, I shouldn’t complain about tourists coming to my city and spending money—and generally, I don’t—but ground zero isn’t the Statue of Liberty or the Bronx Zoo, and 9/11 isn’t President’s Day or the Fourth of July. There is nothing fun about gazing on the site where thousands died, and the anniversary of the attack is nothing to celebrate.

But the city has trotted out some extra World Trade Center artifacts this week, and a pair of rusted beams from the destroyed towers are on display today and tomorrow in Battery Park (visitors are being allowed to sign these beams or write their own tributes—make of that what you will)—and now the Tribute in Light is a weeklong feature in the night sky. Can it be long before “9/11 weekend” is a blackout day for the airlines, travel agents offer ground zero package tours, or Macy’s offers special September 11th savings?

Someday (someday, and I am not holding my breath, nor am I really in any hurry) New York will have a permanent 9/11 memorial structured around the original WTC footprint. And that memorial will be surrounded by overly tall and mostly ugly buildings that will likely require so much security as to render the entire area less a place of remembrance and quiet contemplation than a zone of tedious inconvenience and harried hurly-burly. Until then, especially in this electoral year where we have the chance to cast out the opportunistic leaders that have dishonored the memories of the 9/11 dead, perhaps we can use this day to contemplate how far we’ve come and all that we’ve managed to accomplish in seven years. . .

. . . uh, yeah, well, on second thought, those columns of light sure do look pretty cool out there.

(cross-posted on capitoilette, The Seminal, and Daily Kos)

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

hey, McCain, get the hell off my lawn!

I’ll admit that I missed it, mesmerized as I was by the soaring rhetoric that Republican Senator John McCain used to inspire the thousands of mostly male white people assembled in the Xcell Energy Center last Thursday night; apparently, there was some talk about the background. . . .

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Friday, September 05, 2008

what's in a name?

Even in a misspelled one, the answer is: not much.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

more of McSame

Many suspected it, and Wednesday night served as proof; John McCain picked a running mate that is able to do something that he can’t: read a teleprompter.

The bar was set very low for the small-town mayor turned small-state governor turned last-minute Republican VP pick, so it should surprise no one that Sarah Palin was able to meet and in some ways exceed expectations. Still, Palin, who is reported to have practiced this speech for over six hours, was an impressive mouthpiece for a litany of Republican attacks—especially impressive when you consider that the McCain team wrote most of the speech for someone else.

And since the speech was supposedly drafted for another mouth, it is not surprising that Palin’s primetime coming out party did little to introduce the McVeep to American voters. (And why would you want to spend any more time talking about a woman, Palin, under investigation for possible abuse of gubernatorial power, a woman with close ties to oil lobbyists and to indicted Republican Sen. Ted Stevens, a woman who has fought hard for the boondoggle earmarks that McCain says he’s against, a woman that is opposed to reproductive choice, even in cases of rape and incest, a woman who has ties to a party that advocates Alaskan secession—through violence, if necessary—a woman who demanded personal loyalty oaths from public officials, tried to ban books from the public library, and raised taxes as mayor and as governor?) It did, however, remind all of us why the last decade of Republican domination has been such an abject failure.

For Sarah Palin chose neither to provide a substantive defense of the Bush-Cheney policies that she and McCain plan to continue, or offer any examples of what another four years of Republican “leadership” might do differently. Instead, Palin offered better than a half-hour of partisan, Karl Rove-style attacks—as rife with flat-out lies as they were with snide, cynical jokes.

Palin lied about her support for the “Bridge to Nowhere” (she was for it before she was against it). Palin lied about Obama’s record as a legislator (Obama has authored or helped pass ethics reform, healthcare expansion, aid for wounded vets, incentives for alternative energy, safeguards against “loose nukes,” and a system to put federal funding details in a searchable database). And Palin joined with other Republican speakers on Wednesday night to belittle the hard and important work of community organizers everywhere (community organizing is not only noble work, often for no or low pay, that requires a day-in-day-out connection with people not privileged enough to have private jets to sell on eBay, community organizing was hailed by none other than President George H.W. Bush).

Indeed, it was perhaps most stunning that a woman billed (ad nauseam) as a “Hockey Mom” and as “relate-able” spent so much time acting just like all the other millionaires and billionaires who took the Xcel Center stage before her. (The combined worth of Meg Whitman, Mitt Romney, Carly Fiorina, and Rudolph Giuliani currently tops $4 billion—more than the gross national product of any of over a third of the world’s countries.) For, while Palin’s choreographed sniping might have won her cheers from the diehard Republicans inside the hall, it only helped accentuate the distance between her and the America she hopes to help govern. Wednesday night thus served to demonstrate not that Sarah Palin is fit to lead us into the future, but that she, like her soul mate, John McCain, is closely aligned with the failed Bush-era politics of division and destruction. Sarah, like John, is more of McSame.

Perhaps, then, it should come as no surprise that Palin did such a good job mouthing Republican insiders’ boilerplate rhetoric. No surprise at all.

(cross-posted on capitoilette, The Seminal, and Daily Kos)

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

open mike night at the RNC: Murphy calls Palin pick cynical; Noonan declares race over for McCain

Earlier today, former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan and Republican strategist Mark Murphy finished a segment with MSNBC host Chuck Todd. . . and then kept talking:

What the live mikes catch is truly something to behold. Noonan says of the presidential race, “It’s over,” as in it’s over for McCain. Murphy calls McCain’s pick of Palin “Cynical.” (transcript below)

Earlier today, Noonan’s Wall Street Journal column declared:

Gut: The Sarah Palin choice is really going to work, or really not going to work. It's not going to be a little successful or a little not; it's not going to be a wash. She is either going to be magic or one of history's accidents. She is either going to be brilliant and groundbreaking, or will soon be the target of unattributed quotes by bitter staffers shifting blame in all the Making of the President 2008 books.

Peggy plays it coy for the sake of journalistic “balance.” If we are to believe Noonan’s gut AND mouth, then her verdict is already clear: the Palin pick is NOT going to work.

And, it seems, we won’t have to wait till after the election to hear those sniping quotes—and, it seems that they won’t be “unattributed,” either.

Transcript (taken from the YouTube audio):

Murphy: You know, because I come out of the blue swing-state governor world. Engler, Whitman, Tommy Thompson, Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush. And these guys, this is all about how you win a Texas race. You know, just run it up. And it's not gonna work.

Noonan: It's over.

Murphy: Still, McCain can give a version of the Lieberman speech to do himself some good.

Todd: Don’t you think that the Palin pick is insulting to Kay Bailey Hutchinson?

Noonan: I saw Kay this morning

Todd: Yeah, she's never looked comfortable about it.

Murphy: All bummed out.

Todd: I mean, is she really the most qualified woman they could have turned to?

Noonan: The most qualified? No. I think they went for this, excuse me, political bullshit about narratives and (inaudible) the picture.

Murphy: Yeah, but what's the narrative?

Noonan: Every time the Republicans do that because that's not where they live and it's not what they're good at and they blow it.

Murphy: You know what's really the worst thing about it? The greatness of McCain is no cynicism and this is cynical.

Todd: This is cynical, and, as you called it, “gimmicky.” Thanks guys.

UPDATE: Perhaps I was also being a little coy. C&L says what I feel:

Will the media start asking conservative scribes if they really feel like Murphy and Noonan do about McCain’s pick of Palin? Honesty is out in front right now as we just witnessed. Are they all just lying to our faces and not being called out about it by our talking heads sitting right next to them? We just witnessed the real deal and not the dog and pony show Republicans are so good at.

(cross-posted on The Seminal)

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