Saturday, October 02, 2004

You envy our 40-pound sack!  

Tomorrow afternoon Lovely, Colicky and I are gonna meet friends B & T (+ lil S!) at KevMart's place, and we'll be charbroiling fresh oysters all afternoon. They're direct from Empire LA, and I can hardly wait.

For those who haven't dined at Drago's or heard about "charbroiled oysters", you're missing something scrumptious. We're talking "slap yer momma" levels of goodness, here. This is what you do:

Get some big Louisiana oysters, shuck'em fresh, drizzle with garlic butter, and then grill them over an open flame until the juices in the shell boil. When ready, shave some fresh parmesan cheese on top, and (this is crucial) serve with dipping bread!


Spending an uptown afternoon telling funny stories, gulping beer, cheering Saints, fussing over babies, eating delicious bivalves... not so miserable a prospect.
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We're almost there! 

MLK in Memphis:
I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.

Luckily, a wonderful president has brought the rest of us to similarly lofty peaks. Bush in Miami:
We've climbed the mighty mountain. I see the valley below, and it's a valley of peace. By being steadfast and resolute and strong, by keeping our word, by supporting our troops, we can achieve the peace we all want.

Liberals' inherent lack of trust in Bush blinds them to his far-sighted wisdom, and his infallible choices. When liberals ask why this divinely-intoxicated man doesn't attend church, it only reveals their myopia. As an instrument of God he doesn't need to share a pew with the hoi polloi-- prophets have more important things to do.

Trust Bush with Iraq as you would trust Moses' tablets or the Nazarene's sermon. March with him to war against evil if you wish to enjoy that promised land, the valley of peace.

---
More at Approximately Perfect.
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Friday, October 01, 2004

...If it comes back to you, it's yours. If it doesn't, it never was.  

I'm pleased with the debate, but won't bore you with unoriginal analysis. I'll just note that Kerry stood taller, and remind you of this (revealing?) moment of levity.

KERRY: ...And so I acknowledge that his daughters -- I've watched them-- I've chuckled a few times at some of their comments.

(LAUGHTER)

And...

BUSH: I'm trying to put a leash on them.

(LAUGHTER)

KERRY: Well, I know. I've learned not to do that.

(LAUGHTER)


---
One father is still trying to "leash" his adult daughters even after they've graduated college. The other father made the same mistake, recognized it, and decided on a different approach. Hmmm...

As the economist John Maynard Keynes said: "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"
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Thursday, September 30, 2004

How will we decorate this autumn without Martha? 

Here's one idea:


Carve a new reality




Thanks to kelly at yer mom an'dem
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Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Yeah you right again! 

Juan Cole:
The thing that most worries me is not when a politician's thinking evolves on a subject and he changes his mind. It is when a politician refuses even to consider changing his mind. Such inflexibility is almost always a sign of rigidity, which can be catastrophic in the most powerful man in the world.

So Bush vowed not to retreat in Iraq.

Bush has been refusing to retreat, or even to reconsider, for a long time now. At a news conference in the spring, Bush was asked if he had made any errors, and he replied that he could not think of any. Yesterday he said he did not regret his "mission accomplished" speech aboard an aircraft carrier on May 1, 2003, in which he declared the Iraq war over. Bush keeps saying that there are 100,000 fully trained Iraqi security personnel, and seems to think that there are hundreds of UN election workers on the ground in Iraq.

This kind of single-mindedness and refusal to even think about altering course reminds me of Lyndon Johnson in the Vietnam War.

Jeremy Lott:
A better model is the 1968 election if Johnson hadn't dropped out of the race. LBJ's major accomplishments were three: tax cuts, an explosion in social spending on new programs, and war. It happens that that broad outline is a good match for Bush's record.
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"The sun don't shine on the same dog's ass all the time." 


Bet your bottom dollar it will come out for Big John


In the ridiculously constricted "debate" tomorrow, Senator Kerry will have the (last best?) opportunity to explain himself, and connect as a leader. His campaign history indicates that he closes strong. Time to do it man, do it!

A selection from today's campaign email indicates that Kerry understands the stakes (my emph):

Bush and Cheney may believe that they can hide their failures and get away without acknowledging their costly mistakes for 34 more days. But you and I know better. We know that the truth is catching up with them.

So today, tomorrow, and every day to follow, we are going to put it all on the line. We are going to make the final month of this campaign one of the most memorable months in American history. We are going to wage an unrelenting grassroots campaign that will sweep aside all of the false attacks and un-American appeals to fear that are the driving force of our opponents' efforts.

I know how much this election means to you. And I know how much you are counting on me. I am counting on you too... Let us work side-by-side and win.

---
(Hat tip to Rising Hegemon for the pic, and to the late Catfish Hunter for the title.)
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It wouldn't pain me more to bury you rich, than to bury you poor 


Is that your best JC pose?


From Da Paper:

A gay-rights organization Tuesday asked the IRS to review the tax-exempt status of Jimmy Swaggart Ministries after the televangelist said two weeks ago that if a gay man ever looked at him romantically he would "kill him and tell God he died."
...
"We think the tax laws of the United States were never, ever intended to promote a shelter for violence against others," [Joseph Traigle, co-chair of the Capital Area Alliance] said. "He should not be enjoying a tax-free living to make these hateful comments."

Perhaps all this is a bit quixotic, but I admire the "hit'em where it hurts" response. Also, Michael from Musing's musings has a cartoon you gotta see.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Spam consultant 

I advised the Nigerian who keeps sending me "investment proposals" to contact the Chinese fellow who keeps emailing me about his enhanced penis formula. Perhaps they'll trade product lines.


Just doing my part to grease the wheels of international commerce...
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Monday, September 27, 2004

Ye of little faith... 

From today's Wall Street Journal (sub req) there's an alarming story entitled "Iraq Sees Christian Exodus" by Yochi Dreazen. It's about how Iraq's small but significant Christian community is fleeing the country in the face of escalating harrassment and violence. I'll quote a selection from the print edition:

In a demographic change with enormous political and cultural repercussions, Iraq's Christian community is steadily dissipating, driven out by a campaign of violence and intimidation targeting their homes, offices and places of worship. Precise numbers aren't available, but Iraq government and church officials estimate as many as 30,000 Christians have left since a string of church bombings in August, with hundreds more families leaving each week. Iraq's Christian population is estimated at about 850,000, a sharp drop from the one million it numbered before the war and the 1.4 million recorded in a 1987 census.

The mass exodus, the largest of its kind since Iraq's Jewish community fled the country in the 1950s and 1960s, is robbing Iraq of a politically moderate, socially liberal, and largely pro-Western population at a crucial juncture: With elections just months away, the diminution of the Christian community raises the risk that Iraq's next government will be dominated by fundamentalist political parties that support policies-- from the imposition of Islamic law to the continued existence of well-armed sectarian militias-- that could be a recipe for further violence and political instability.

(snip)

"We have a proverb, 'After Saturday comes Sunday,' which means that countries that kick out their Jews eventually come after their Christians, too," [Iraqi Christian Salim Hasan] says. "I worry that Iraq's Sunday has already begun."

Reflect on this for a moment: thousands of Christians who spent a lifetime under Saddam Hussein now find conditions in Iraq unendurable. Since passports are still "difficult to obtain legally", the exodus is not merely the result of eased travel strictures.

Apparently these Iraqi Christians disagree with the Good News proclaimed by Messrs. Bush and Allawi. Don't these doubting Thomases know that the Almighty's gift of freedom reigns?! And shouldn't neocons be criticizing these Iraqi families for deciding to "cut and run", precisely when democracy is blooming?


---
More up-is-downism analysis at 2 Millionth and Empire Notes.


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Yet again, the Pelican State must pierce its breast  

There's a great article in this week's Gambit about how Louisiana is getting shafted with Federal disaster prevention monies, due to Bush's shortsighted penny-pinching and cronyism. I'll transcribe a few quotes (emph mine), but be sure to read the whole thing at some point. In light of Ivan's near miss, LA politicians should be discussing these outrageous allocations:

The Federal Emergency Management Agency shook up the way of distributing disaster preparedness money when it introduced its Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) grant program in 2002. Given the program's criteria, Louisiana appeared to have been a shoo-in for federal dollars for 2003, the first year the program began awarding money. Instead, Louisiana got nothing.

(snip)

...last year, the nearly $60 million pot of federal PDM money went to 31 other states and Puerto Rico. Texas received the biggest share, more than $8.8 million, followed by California ($6.1 million) and Florida ($5.3 million).

(snip)

It looks like Jefferson parish, and possibly other Louisiana parishes, likely won't get a chance for PDM money for 2004 either, [flood zone mgr Tom] Rodrigue says. "We haven't heard anything about PDM in fiscal year 2004. We haven't been notified that we can even compete for PDM money, and fiscal year 2004 is over at the end of the month."

(snip)

"In a sense, Louisiana is the floodplain of the nation," noted a 2002 FEMA report. "Louisiana waterways drain two-thirds of the continental United States. Precipitation in New York, the Dakotas, even Idaho and the Province of Alberta, finds its way to Louisiana's coastline." As a result, --flooding is a constant threat, and the state has an estimated 18,000 buildings that have been repeatedly damaged by flood waters-- the highest number of any state. And yet, this summer FEMA denied Louisiana communities' pre-disaster mitigation funding requests.
Of course, a few million bucks is only a drop in the bucket compared to our needs, but we should certainly complain when getting shortchanged. Memo to Democrats: this is a political hammer. Strike while the iron's hot, and make the easy connections to coastal erosion and needed highway monies... etc. Is there really a counterargument to federal neglect of the "gret stet's" many vulnerabilities?

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Yeah you right!! 

Bob Herbert cites a galactically important quote in today's NYT column (my emphs):

At home, Americans seem to have forgotten what an ill-advised war can do to the United States. More than three decades after it was published, David Halberstam's "The Best and the Brightest" should still be required reading. Lyndon Johnson had hoped Vietnam would be a short war, Mr. Halberstam wrote, and he was afraid of the political consequences if the true economic costs became visible:

"The result was that his economic planning was a living lie, and his administration took us into economic chaos: the Great Society programs were passed but never funded on any large scale; the war itself ran into severe budgetary problems (the decision in 1968 to put a ceiling on the American troops was as much economic as political); and the most important, the failure to finance the war honestly would inspire a virulent inflationary spiral which helped defeat Johnson himself. Seven years after the commitment of combat troops, that inflation was still very much alive and was forcing a successor Administration into radical, desperate economic measures in order to restore some financial balance."

We've been there, done that, and now we're doing it again.


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Sunday, September 26, 2004

Sucker punch 

David Asman is a former WSJ opinion page editor and current Fox news talking head who should be watched only for his ability to promote the freshest GOP talking points. What's the newest one, you ask? Read his introductory preview to Saturday's Forbes on Fox show, and see if you can guess:
The War in Iraq. Looks like Kerry's going to be bashing it nonstop from now until election day. Is this a slap in the face to our troops and a gut punch to your stocks? [Asman physically punctuates final phrase with a lower uppercut into the air.]
That's right. The "comfort to the enemy" line has already been well-established, but gloomy Kerry bringing down "your stocks" is new. As the outstanding James Picerno notes, things are pretty weird in the markets right now. Bonds and stocks had been out of synch, implying markedly different outlooks on the economy. Now that the stock market is falling precipitously, it seems to agree with pessimistic bond traders who worry the so-called "soft patch" is nastier and deeper than the Fed is letting on.

You don't have to be a technical analyst well-versed in candlesticks and "head and shoulders " patterns to see where stocks are likely trending:


Downward channel in light blue (h/t Big Picture)

Even a child can see how the 2004 highs and lows seem locked in a downward trend: each "top" crests successively lower, while the bottoms keep dropping further downwards. In short, Asman (and others) are trying to blame Kerry for impending market slides-- especially prior to the "investor class" receiving their quarterly 401k statements next month. The prospect of an October short-term market bottom has to be eating away at Karl Rove's copious insides.

Why are even relatively minor stock moves so politically important? E.S. Browning explained in last Monday's WSJ article (9/20/04):
In recent weeks, a chart of President Bush's re-election chances based on TradeSports odds has looked surprisingly like the chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The two have been moving more or less in tandem for months... The interpretation seems obvious: When investors think Mr. Bush is going to win, stocks tend to rise. When the market sees Democratic challenger John Kerry's chances rising, it tends to fret.... Yet, historically, stocks have done better under Democratic presidents...
There may be a chicken/egg relationship between polls and markets right now, but the bottom line is this: the GOP is going to try and de-link Bush from falling markets, and yap about how Kerry's rhetoric is the depressing factor. Fortunately, this tactic is unlikely to persuade undecideds concerned mostly with pocketbook issues.


Dare I even mention the final pre-election jobs report? Mebbe later.

---
Addendum: Last year JMM brought widespread attention to David Asman's Fox interview with Wes Clark, when he tried to pull the same old "criticism of Bush hurts our troops" linkage. Clark caught it early, and blasted Asman with both barrels. I wish the video was still available, since it was truly an electric moment as the General yelled into the camera. Here's a selection from it (commentary and emphasis mine):

Asman: ... While our men and women are dying in Iraq is it proper to call it a sideshow?

Clark: Our men and women in Iraq are doing a fabulous job. They're doing a great job. I love them. I respect them and I honor them and. My problem is with the president of the united states. He's the one responsible for this. As he told us. He was going to make the decision when to go to war. He did. Our men and women are doing everything their country has asked them to do. But for the war on terror it's not the right thing that we should ask them to do. Don't you dare twist words into disrespect for the men and women in uniform. I love those men and women. I gave 34 years of my life to them. You better take my words the right way...

Asman: [interrupting] General I'm just repeating your own words to you.
Bullshit! You added misleading context!

Clark: [continuing]... This is about the president of the united states and [unintelligble] Leadership.

Asman: [interrupting] Didn't you say that Iraq was a Sideshow?

Clark: No sir, you are not. You are playing politics.
Damn straight he was! That's what he does.

Asman: [interrupting] [unintelligible]

Clark: [continuing] No, sir. No, sir. You are playing politics with the men and women in uniform. You are sir.

Asman: [interrupting] I just read back your own statement. General...

Bullshit! You added misleading context!

Clark: [continuing] Take it straight. You take it straight!

I'm still proud to have worked on the General's campaign, and my adrenaline still pumps when I read that exchange. It was really great TV. Interestingly, Kerry has fully adopted Clark's Iraq-as-strategic-blunder argument, and I hope he continues forcefully articulating it. I've always thought Clark and Bob Graham's critique (which is to the right of Bush!) was the most powerful case against the misadventure in Iraq.

Here's a complete unofficial transript. Please post the vid link in the comments if anyone can find it.
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We had to destroy the democracy in order to promote it. 

Many liberal bloggers are familiar with this oft-quoted gem from Teddy Roosevelt:
To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.

However, my favorite quote on this topic has received less attention. It was made by the fiery Arkansas Senator William Fulbright during the Vietnam war. Its timeliness should be apparent:

Criticism is more than a right; it is an act of patriotism-- a higher form of patriotism, I believe, than the familiar ritual of national adulation. All of us have the responsibility to act upon the higher patriotism, which is to love our country less for what it is than for what we would like it to be.
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In the pages of a blue boy mailing... 

...
"Have you ever seen a grown man wear so much blue?"


I'm not sure if there are plans to release a commemorative 15 year anniversary Problem Child DVD, but the above quote from Junior (the mischievous red headed kid) might nicely encapsulate your reaction should you receive one of David Vitter's mailings. I mean-- WOW. If nothing else is made clear, Vitter's commitment to indigo is stead-freakin-fast! For example, in the obligatory family picture, the Senate candidate's wife and four children are outfitted entirely in blues... though his infant son dares to break the schema with gold shorts. One wonders: a rebellious streak, or was there an unfortunate diaper malfunction at the photo shoot?

I swear, the color was so pervasive in Vitter's campaign literature that I'm reminded of that profound Eiffel 65 song from several years ago:

I have a blue house with a blue window
Blue is the color of all that I wear
Blue are the streets and all the trees are too
I have a girlfriend and she is so blue
Blue are the people here that walk around
Blue like my Corvette it's standing outside
Blue are the words I say and what I think
Blue are the feelings that live inside me

I'm blue (da ba dee da ba di da ba dee da ba di da ba dee ...)
I'm blue (da ba dee da ba di da ba dee da ba di da ba dee ...)
---
Last year a staunch republican aide who works on Capitol Hill told me there was "no way" Vitter would win a Senate seat because he just wasn't enough of a folksy backslapper. I was shocked at how pessimistic he was about the V-man's chances. Then the aide recalled the following candid exchange he had in D.C.:

Aide: "I bet you're looking forward to seeing your friends back in Louisiana."

Vitter (matter of factly): "No, I don't have any friends."

Yikes. That's a statement that always bodes well.

---
For insiders wondering when certain political atomics will be deployed ...that's a damn good question. When and if, I'll be riding it down like Slim Pickens.


Waaaaa Hoooo!!
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