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Archives for September, 2008

September 29, 2008

See you next year

Daniel Radosh


September 29, 2008

I'm bailing out too

Daniel Radosh

I'm gonna shoehorn in one last post before the holidays. I'm on deadline so you're not gonna get links, or my trademark coherence, or even a tangentially related picture of a scantily clad female.

I haven't posted much about the bailout because despite my faithful downloading of NPR's Planet Money podcast (spun off of that This American Life show about the mortgage crisis), I still only barely understand the whole thing. I go back and forth on whether the bailout bill was the least bad option or just a bad option. It does seem to me that even if we're facing an imminent crisis, there are other plans out there (I've seen them from Greider, Galbraith, Sirota etc) that should probably have been explored first.

But let me stick to the politics of this, which I have somewhat better grasp on. It seems to me that if the ineffectual Democratic Congress sticks to its usual game plan, the House Republicans will come out of this stronger. They're the ones who torpedoed the bill, so they're the ones who need to be placated in order to get it passed. As a result, we'll end up with something even worse than what got shot down today.

Noah Millman (look, a link!) has what's clearly a better idea: Since the Democrats met the Republicans half way and have nothing to show for it, they should introduce their own bill, based entirely on Democratic principles and not merely tweaking Paulson's plan. They can "pass it on a party-line vote, and dare the Administration to veto."

Meanwhile, Obama should have hit harder (and still can) on a valuable theme: Yes, this bailout is terribly unfair and shouldn't be necessary. But if it needs to be done to save us all an even worse fate, the important thing is to use this opportunity fix the entire system from the ground up so that we don't need another bailout in six more months. I'm all for stuff like caps on CEO compensation, but that's basically feel-good trimming. The Democrats should push harder for substantive reform while they can.

Update: Krugman answers my basic questions. In his view, immediate action is necessary and the Swedish model sorry, the Swedish model is the best approach but "politically untenable." Did someone mention ineffectual Democrats?

Related: Powerline 2005:

It must be depressing to be Paul Krugman. No matter how well the economy performs, Krugman's bitter vendetta against the Bush administration requires him to hunt for the black lining in a sky full of silvery clouds. With the economy now booming, what can Krugman possibly have to complain about? In today's column, titled That Hissing Sound, Krugman says there is a housing bubble, and it's about to burst.

September 29, 2008

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #163

Daniel Radosh

Submit the worst possible caption for this New Yorker cartoon. Click here for details. Click here for last week's results.


"I'm debating you. Go to your podium, bitch!" —njtotx

"Psst..Alice. I stuffed eleven cuts of veal up my sleeve on my way back from the bathroom. Psst..Alice? Aw crap, is this mike on?" —mort drucker

"Hey, we're in luck. I found another menu over here at the hostess stand." —Steve_O

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #163" »

September 27, 2008

Why not Bil Keane?

Daniel Radosh

September 26, 2008

Ok, but I'm great at Shofar Hero III on the Xbox

Daniel Radosh

The Jewish Channel, a cool new cable outfit, has a new limited-run series called Holy Dazed modeled on Best Week Ever and I Love the 80s. They were kind enough to ask me to be one of the talking heads, along with other Jew York media and entertainment personalities. This clip features a bunch of us -- all familiar names to anyone who reads Gawker and no one else -- attempting to blow the shofar to ring in Rosh Hashana.

I get more screen time in this segment on the all-important topic of apples and honey. (I'm against it.)

Scroll down for two clips from the Yom Kippur show. I'm not in the fourth one at all, but it may be my favorite.

The Jewish Channel has an au courant 100% on-demand platform. Pay the $7.99 a month and you can watch all the programming at your own schedule. Such a bargain!

September 26, 2008

Might as well

Daniel Radosh


Just sloppy, or has self-censorship moved from the media to the masses?

September 26, 2008

Just like there's general agreement that Wolf Blitzer is the most insightful newsman of his generation or just another camera-ready hack

Daniel Radosh

This clip is making the rounds because it features Jeff Toobin correctly chastising CNN and the media for gullibly repeating John McCain's false claim that he "suspended" his campaign. But what amuses me is Wolf Blitzer's bold intro: "Whether or not you agree with what Senator John McCain did and is doing, there is general agreement on this: it could help or hurt his presidential hopes."

Well, as long as we all agree.

September 25, 2008

Sarah Palin makes us igry

Daniel Radosh

A Sullivan reader compares Sarah Palin's latest interview to a Ricky Gervais show. "You almost want to look away but can't. [I] half cover my eyes or wince, while laughing, as pathetically unqualified characters try to fake their way through life."

I just wanted to remind everybody that our own Francis Heaney helped coin a word for that feeling of acute embarrassment on behalf of someone else.

Also, when I first watched the amazing clip below, in which Palin sputters about Putin rearing his head in Alaska, it was preceded by an ad for a CBS sitcom called Worst Week that began with the voiceover, "Think you're having a bad week?"

Sheer poetry. CBS is in the tank.

September 25, 2008

Let 'em fail?

Daniel Radosh

The man-on-the-street (as opposed to Washington elite) conventional wisdom is pretty clear: Taxpayers shouldn't have to pay $700 billion for a no-strings-attached plan to bail out people who got themselves into a disastrous mess through their own damn fault — people who should have known that everything was bound to head south, but stuck their heads in the sand and carried on with their own inept, misguided, poorly judged plans.

Speaking of which, the Iraq war has already cost taxpayers about $700 billion and is likely to end up costing us anywhere from $1 to $4 trillion.

Assuming there is a foreign policy debate on Saturday, Obama should take the opportunity to draw connections between the mismanagement of the war and the economy. Forget apple pies, if we hadn't gone to war, we could have gotten the bailout free and had some left over for a party. With apple pies!

Jokes aside, Americans have been thinking a lot this week about what $700 billion could buy, including college educations for 5.4 million people and a year's worth of social security benefits for all Americans with $120 billion to spare. McCain wants to continue the war indefinitely. Now more than ever, Obama should make financing it part of the calculus.

September 24, 2008

Sorry, Mr. Ahmadinajad but could you postpone wiping Israel off the map? Wall Street is having a bad week

Daniel Radosh

Seriously, John McCain can't walk and chew gum at the same time? Oh I get that this is a ploy to look presidential and above the fray, as well as a head fake to throw Obama off his game. But doesn't it also play just a little bit inept?

My hunch is that McCain's real goal isn't a postponement but a compromise to change the topic of the first debate from foreign policy to the economy. Having the foreign policy debate first was one of the concessions the Obama camp won in the negotiations (while the McCain camp fought to keep Sarah Palin relatively protected from vigorous questioning). The Obama spin was that he was eager to show that he's strong on foreign affairs, but clearly his goal was to have the economy debate as the last one on people's minds before they went to the polls. If McCain can get the order switched he gets the economy out of the way in a week that he's already lost anyway and can hope that things are settled enough three weeks from now for people to start thinking about terrorism again.

But Obama's response seems like a no brainer: "I'm happy to sit down immediately with John McCain and other Senate leaders to work on this bill. We can go through Friday afternoon and pick up again Saturday morning if necessary. But national security is too important to be set aside for a more convienient moment. There are important differences between us that the American people deserve to hear. I trust that with Senator McCain's 60 years of experience in Washington he is more than capable of focusing on both of these vital tasks, as am I."

September 22, 2008

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #162

Daniel Radosh

Submit the worst possible caption for this New Yorker cartoon. Click here for details. Click here for last week's results.


"...yeah, so if my daughter turns up let me know." —Trotman

"on the internet, no one knows you're a snake. well, except for the slow typing and lack of capitalization."—therblig

"What are you talking about? I’m out walking my miniature Yorkie. OH HOLY MOTHER OF CHRIST! I loved that dog! And now he’s gone! Oh, wait, you’re right. I did have a pet snake." — Mork

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #162" »

September 20, 2008

Finally someone's talking about the real issues

Daniel Radosh

Maybe you saw this item about an Obama speech being interrupted by a group identifying themselves as Blacks Against Obama. So who are these folks? Economic conservatives who value lower taxes above racial identity? Social conservatives who object to Obama's pro-choice policies? Or wack-jobs whose primary objection seems to be that Obama was endorsed by Oprah Winfrey, who they believe is the demon Lilith, a manifestation of Satan?

You guessed it, didn't you?

Miami New Times has more. And here's an excerpt from the group's manifesto.

WOMEN TOOK OVER IN AMERICA When America gave women the right to vote. How? Because they out number men 40 to 1, women have the voting power in numbers, the majority. There are two hundred and sixty million people in America. Black LILITH has a thirty million person block vote. Other nations of people consist of two hundred million people but they are separated. Ex. There are five million Irish, seven million Germans, eight million Scots etc. They all vote against each other, then LILITH the evil woman takes her thirty million block vote and join on to the women of other nations of the two hundred million voters under so called women issues, out numbering men completely. When she is grown 6+6+6=18. She takes the power of 666 in Rev. 13:18 being the majority in America. She takes her numbers and vote her men in who will do her will, and make the laws in her favor. Ex. Deut.19: 15-20 says you must have two witnesses to bring charges against anybody but now look at America. One woman can say you said something sexually negative to her eight years ago and destroy you. Rom 1:25 says who changed GODS TRUTH into a LIE to worship the creature (LILITH) instead of GOD. But fret not for Dan. 7:9 says, “I beheld till the thrones were cast down (LILITH’s MEN that she put in power through her majority mob rule votes).”

This totally gonna help rally the PUMA vote.

September 18, 2008

McCain on Spain is mainly in pain

Daniel Radosh

20060814032138-zapatero-osama.jpg Yesterday I would not have had much to say about John McCain's confusion over whether Spain is either a U.S. ally or a European nation (he seemed to suggest the answer was neither). Clearly, as most bloggers suspected, he simply misheard or misunderstood the question.

Then came today's explanation: Yes, McCain knows Spain is in Europe. No, he does not necessarily consider it an ally.

"The questioner asked several times about Senator McCain's willingness to meet Zapatero (and id'd him in the question so there is no doubt Senator McCain knew exactly to whom the question referred. Senator McCain refused to commit to a White House meeting with President Zapatero in this interview... If elected, he will meet with a wide range of allies in a wide variety of venues but is not going to spell out scheduling and meeting location specifics in advance. He also is not going to make reckless promises to meet America's adversaries. It's called keeping your options open, unlike Senator Obama, who has publicly committed to meeting some of the world's worst dictators unconditionally in his first year in office."

So Zapatero might (or -- to be fair! -- might not) be as bad as some of the world's worst dictators? A follow-up, if I may: If Spain is invaded, would John McCain commit America to defend it? As, you know, the NATO charter requires? Or is he going to leave that option open too? As even Joe Klein can see, "putting a chill in the relationship with one of our NATO allies simply because McCain misheard a question is going a bit far."

So the question is why the campaign chose this bizarre defense, rather than admitting McCain misheard. One possibility is that they are truly terrified of the perception that McCain is a deaf, confused old man. I don't think this incident reveals that, but it could be spun that way, and they'd rather have him perceived as an ultra-hardline neocon.

Another, or perhaps a concomitant, fear is that the campaign is aware that McCain is not actually all that strong on his supposed strong suit, foreign policy. If they were truly confident that nobody would ever think that John McCain doesn't really know who the president of Spain is and whether he's an ally, it wouldn't harm them to say he misheard. But with his history of foreign policy gaffes, they may think he's actually vulnerable on that front -- as he should be.

Continue reading "McCain on Spain is mainly in pain" »

September 18, 2008

Actually, I could get behind a ban on the word "tweet"

Daniel Radosh

Self-censorship 2.0? When Rocky Mountain News microblogged the Democratic Convention last month, one reporter unthinkingly used the word "fucker," Westworld reports.

...but unlike a blog, which allows users to simply delete passages, Twitter is a live feed. As a result, Rocky techies decided that the fastest and most effective way to get rid of the "fucker" would be to have other staffers start sending in "tweets," as individual Twitter posts are called, until the new entries physically pushed the problematic term off the screen. One person reports that a Twitterer told to text something ASAP responded by sending the word "something."

September 18, 2008

Obama finds his groove

Daniel Radosh

chillout.jpg After a few weeks of posts suggesting that the blogosphere had a better sense of how Obama should campaign than Obama did, I'm happy to note that today the reverse is true.

Yesterday when John McCain defended his economic bona fides by saying he is chairman of the Commerce Committee, "that oversights every part of our economy," bloggers responded by noting that the Commerce Committee does no such thing.

That's true, and fits the McCain is an out-of-touch liar narrative, but Obama saw a bigger opening and drove a truck right through it:

Proceeding through a litany of what he perceives to be McCain missteps, Obama mentioned that McCain had recently "bragged about how, as chairman of the Commerce Committee in the Senate, he had oversight of every part of the economy. Well, all I can say to Sen. McCain is nice job."

Obama then hit the "mental recession" buzzer, which he's done before, and followed with a pitch-perfect moment of political jujitsu:

So, then yesterday, Sen. McCain’s big solution to the crisis we’re facing is -- put on your seatbelts -- a commission," Obama said. "A commission! Well, that’s Washington-speak for 'We’ll get back to you later.'

Calling for a 9/11 style commission on the economy was one of the stupidest things McCain could have done this week, and it's nice to see that Obama is still hammering him for it. And that's not the only front he's attacking on. Two days ago, HuffPo's John Neffinger made the strong point that Obama's top talking point this week should be that if John McCain had his way, all that money being flushed down the toilet on Wall St. would include your Social Security savings too. Turns out Obama has been quietly running tough ads making exactly that point in key markets.

Keep in mind that all these attacks come along with an epic two-minute ad of Obama speaking directly to the camera about what his plan for the economy is, giving heft to his line that we don't need to study the problem, we need leadership to get us out it.

September 17, 2008

Only really it'll be Bristol's

Daniel Radosh

"Let me tell you, I know a little bit about energy. That's gonna be my baby when I get to Washington, D.C." —Sarah Palin

September 17, 2008

Campaign Flashback: 1968

Daniel Radosh

On first viewing, the dichotomy between these two 1968 campaign ads seems to be fear vs. hope. But really it's a distinction between framing the debate and fighting back within the other guy's frame. That's why even though both ads are compelling, visceral, and expertly executed, Nixon's wins. Humphrey's ad is smarter (and his policy proposals sound), but it begins from the premise that crime is Nixon's issue and Nixon has the solution. Humphrey's message — don't worry, I'll do everything Nixon will and a little more — is defensive and, except on an intellectual level, unpersuasive.

Lessons for 2008...?

Ads via The Living Room Candidate, an amazing new resource from the Museum of the Moving Image.

September 16, 2008

Are you experienced?

Daniel Radosh

Hang on a second, why exactly are we trusting Carly Fiorina on whether anyone is fit to run a major company?

[h/t Tim C]

September 16, 2008

Baked Alaska

Daniel Radosh


The LA Times DIsh Rag blog crafts the perfect lede for the story that Sarah Palin installed a tanning bed in the Alaska governor's mansion at a price of up to $35,000: "What's the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? A tanning bed!"

It's impressive that in just one day the story has already jumped from something called Narco News to Politico, Us, and a few other sites. Now we'll see if it gains real traction.

Should it? In one sense, no. It tells us nothing important about Palin's qualifications for office. But that's completely beside the point, seeing as how the mainstream media spent several months of 2007 justifying their extensive coverage of John Edwards' $400 haircuts.

It's not a perfect analogy. The Edwards haircut was first reported because he paid for it with campaign funds (before reimbursing the campaign). But that's not why it blew up, as Roger Simon explained in Politico.

The cost of the haircut was the issue... because no normal person -- man or woman -- could possibly pay $400 for a haircut. And even though the American people are used to rich people running for office, when a person is that extravagant, it turns off voters... [one voter wrote]: "Spending $400 for a haircut shows a lack of judgment. I don't care how wealthy he is, Edwards cannot be expected to carefully steward the public purse when he obviously cannot control his own spending."

The News & Observer also turned to a reader to justify its coverage: "A man who claims to be of common stock with deep mill-town roots gets haircuts costing more than his old country barber made in a week and lives in a gaudy manse that would have made that mill owner green with envy."

There's a lot more like that out there. You'll also find the excuse that Edwards opened himself up to this criticism by positioning himself as a champion of the poor. Now it's absolutely true that there's no indication whatsoever that Sarah Palin gives a shit about poor people, so she's off the hook there. But this line of argument against Edwards was almost always paired with the one about him having, in the words of the AP's Ron Fournier an "everyman image."

Sarah Palin's everywoman image -- including her alleged "frugality" -- is pretty much the entire justification for her spot on the ticket. That makes the tanning bed story fair game, especially in combination with the per deims and other things that have bubbled up. (Speaking of those per diems, why did Palin buy a tanning bed for a house she rarely stayed at? Doesn't that make this even more outrageous? Does she have a second tanning bed in Wasilla?) Really, there's no excuse for this not to be all over the cable news today. Especially since, as this very post makes clear, it lends itself really well to cheap puns and exploitative visuals. And I haven't even mentioned John McCain's medical history.

Lastly, there was one more angle on the Edwards story that is worth noting here. Susan Estrich put it this way.

In high school, when you call someone a "pretty boy," it’s not a compliment. Unfortunately for Edwards, the same is true in politics. The reason his haircut has stuck, where Bill Clinton’s fancy one didn’t, is because it captures the flip side of Edwards’ boyish good looks. The flip side is the pretty boy, which is not what a country focused on terrorism and looking for toughness wants in a candidate.

Eric Alterman translated: "the haircut obsession is designed to feminize the candidate and thereby undermine his credentials as macho-man for President--which are, by the way, those deemed to be the most important by the media. Ann Coulter calls him a "faggot." Maureen Dowd, Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough, among many others, use the term "Breck Girl." The wording is more polite, but the effect is the same."

Now we're in a tricky spot: It's OK to demean a man by calling him girly, but if you call a woman girly, that's sexist. Seriously, watch for this argument by Palin apologists, including ones who were among those calling Edwards girly a year ago.

I did a very quick Google search to prepare this post, but I know there's a lot more out there that can make the case for pushing tanning bed-gate overwhelming. Readers are encouraged to find examples pundits and right wing bloggers attacking Edwards using language that should apply equally to Palin.

September 15, 2008

I know more about campaign ads than probably anyone else in America

Daniel Radosh

Y'know, people sometimes ask me, "Where do you get off, Radosh, holding forth on the effectiveness of campaign messaging like you're some kind of authority?"

Well, I don't like to boast about my credentials any more than John McCain likes to dredge up all that ancient history about the POW camps, but the fact is, I learned everything I need to know at age 14 by virtue of my proximity to one of the most widely-admired political media campaigns in modern history. Much the way Sarah Palin became an expert on Russia.

I'm talking, of course, about Harold Washington's history-making campaign for mayor of Chicago, the campaign that David Axelrod, Obama's chief media strategist, credits with inspiring him to get into the business (Axelrod later ran Washington's re-election campaign).

Here's a still from one of the campaign's most famous spots, which you can watch after the jump. Take away the dorky haircut and add a dorky smile. Look familiar?


Dirty Politics: Deception, Distraction, and Democracy by Kathleen Hall Jamieson, provides the history.

In 1983, Republican Bernard Epton faced Democrat Harold Washington in the Chicago mayoral contest. Epton was white, Washington black. Among other things, Epton's radio ads falsely accused Washington of being a "convicted felon" and of having been "disbarred." An unsigned leaflet alleged that Washington had once been arrested on a morals charge. Epton's slogan, widely criticized as "racist," was "Before It's Too Late."

Continue reading "I know more about campaign ads than probably anyone else in America" »

September 15, 2008

The most depressing political ad you'll see all day

Daniel Radosh

So that's what Kaus means by "a total loser strategy."

[Via Salon]

September 15, 2008

The way of the worldview

Daniel Radosh

A theologically-trained friend writes in about my recent post on Sarah Palin's seemingly left-field use of the word worldview. Long but worth it:

Very nice column on "worldview," informed and witty as always. But probably you know from your travels among the Evangelicals that the reason we say "world view" a lot and "Weltanschauung" not so much has to do with one Francis Schaeffer, a bearded, turtlenecked Christian sub- or pseudophilosophical writer who was popular especially in the 1970s. (He went by Dr Francis Schaeffer, but Wikipedia, in a worthwhile article, says it was just an honorary D.Div.) Francis Schaeffer, not to be confused with son Franky Schaeffer, was a prolific writer on, and doer of, Christian apologetics, Protestant division. The distinctive part of his apologetic shtick was to reject certain epistemological, aesthetic and logical doctrines (or let's say his caricatures of such doctrines) that he regarded as preventing meaningful theological faith. He seemed less strongly opposed to atheistic positivism than to relativistic doctrines that promote neo-orthodox fideism, because neo-orthodox fideism quietly voids faith while pretending to espouse it. This made the notion of a world view (dropping the scare quotes now, okay?) important to him, and thus important to people he influenced, because he created a narrative about world views that was meant to explain why Jesus is having such a hard time getting through to you. He pushed a decline-and-fall account of philosophical or ideological history under which world views pervade cultures and, in our Western culture, began to make us all hopelessly irrationalist at a certain point during one of Hegel's more catastrophic lectures on logic. Or something like that. Schaeffer used the term "below the line" (never mind why) to designate people and eras and cultures and works of art judged to have suffered such irrationalist degradation. He suggested that Christian faith may be logically voided if held within the framework of these irrationalist world views. (Kierkegaard, for example, might not really have been a Christian, in spite of all he ever said on the subject, because he had an inadequate view of truth, one not sufficiently stringent to make his faith meaningful.) Therefore, having a "Christian world view" (sorry, getting hard to breathe in here, need my scare quotes back) in our modern world apparently may require exposing and rooting out some basic elements of our thinking that are not objectionable for any specifically theological reasons, but rather because they undermine the Law of the Excluded Middle, or do something equally disastrous to our asserting-and-denying mechanism.

Continue reading "The way of the worldview" »

September 15, 2008

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #161

Daniel Radosh

Submit the worst possible caption for this New Yorker cartoon. Click here for details. Click here for last week's results.


"I'm sorry, we were looking for a more normal-sized lobster." —Francis

"I'm very sorry, but you're overqualified -- we're looking for something more in the realm of plankton, or a Penn State grad." —LK

"Do you know anything about Gail in accounting getting hit in the back of the head with two gigantic rubber bands?" —Damon

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #161" »

September 14, 2008

Why not Bil Keane?

Daniel Radosh

dfw.gif By the time I put down the January, 1996 issue of Harpers, I wanted to be David Foster Wallace. I know, you have probably heard from countless other bloggers today that Shipping Out, the Wallace essay that later became the title story of the brilliant collection A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, was a transformative moment in their journalistic careers, or ambitions, or at least imaginations. It doesn't bother me to be just another voice saying, "me too" to that. Among a certain contingent, DFW's impact can hardly be overstated.

I admit that I could never get through Infinite Jest. And some of Wallace's later work was a little baroque for my tastes. But his reporting and critical essays took hold of me like almost nothing else I read in the 1990s. It took me a little while to come to terms with the fact that the guy was a certifiable genius, so it was OK if I was never going to be able to write even remotely like that.

(Except, perhaps in very small bursts, like this one-paragraph parody of DFW blurbing Harry Potter as written by Dave Eggers. The picture here is Pat's parody of an Eggers' drawing of DFW. It's hard to believe Modern Humorist didn't catch on like College Humor, huh?)

Of the essays available free online, I have to point you to Tense Present, DFW's thoroughly engrossing take on the language wars.

DFW's latest book is McCain's Promise, a reprint of an essay from 2000, and reflecting a context that, DFW said recently, "seems a long, long, long time ago." I haven't read it, but plan to now, if only to be reminded of David Foster Wallace's promise, both fulfilled and tragically not so.

September 14, 2008

The Palin Doctrine

Daniel Radosh

Desperate McCain supporters are pushing an explanation for why Sarah Palin didn't know what Charles Gibson meant by "the Bush Doctrine." The problem, they say, is that Palin actually knows more than most people about foreign policy. She's well-informed enough to be aware that there have been several policies described by that phrase, and she merely wanted to know which one Gibson was referring to!

This nonsense has been pushed most forcefully by Charles Krauthammer, who avers that "I know something about the subject because, as the Wikipedia entry on the Bush doctrine notes, I was the first to use the term." What Krauthammer doesn't mention is that Wikipedia didn't cite him as such an authority until after the Palin interview. It turns out that up until September 8, Wikipedia was pretty clear: while the phrase has been applied to "various" policies, it is almost entirely associated with the one Gibson was asking about, preventative war. After the Palin interview aired, the Wikipedia entry was changed more than 100 times, as Palin apologists literally rewrote the definition to retroactively make their candidate look less ignorant.

Even if you couldn't tell from her entire affect that Palin's hesitancy was not from an excess of knowledge, the story is tissue thin. After all, Gibson's response to Palin's question about what he meant was "what do you interpret it to be?" That's the point at which Palin could have said, "Well, of the various policies given that name, the one I agree with most is..." What she actually said was, "His worldview?"

But even if you still want to contend that Palin was somehow using worldview to mean "there's more than one foreign policy doctrine by that name," the entire argument falls apart. Because look how Krauthammer himself frames it: "If I were in any public foreign policy debate today, and my adversary were to raise the Bush doctrine, both I and the audience would assume -- unless my interlocutor annotated the reference otherwise -- that he was speaking about the grandly proclaimed (and widely attacked) freedom agenda of the Bush administration." [emphasis added]

But Gibson did annotate the reference otherwise! Seeing Palin's confusion he made clear that he meant, "the Bush doctrine, enunciated September 2002, before the Iraq war" And Palin still had no idea what he was talking about. Indeed, even after he spelled it out for her, she didn't understand it. She gave an answer about "imminent strikes," when the whole point of the Bush Doctrine was that troublesome countries must be attacked before a strike can become imminent.

Palin's defenders know all this. They just don't care. John McCain's fundamental dishonesty and lack of integrity has infected his entire party.

September 12, 2008

So I'm saying Palin is a dog?

Daniel Radosh

Much hay is being made over Sarah Palin's disastrous answer to the Bush Doctrine question. Here's what most people missed. When Palin first attempts to figure out what Gibson could possibly mean by this obscure phrase, she asks if he means "his worldview."

In case you're wondering how she came up with that, it's Christianese. Sure, the word "worldview" isn't exclusively Christian. But American evangelicals use it constantly. A lot more than anyone else, except perhaps philosophy students. I heard it more during the year I spent researching my book than I had in my entire life. Christians hold worldview weekends, write worldview books, host worldview web sites, and run worldview workshops. In 2005, the creationist organization Answers in Genesis took note of the growing ubiquity of worldview-speak in Christian circles.

Rick Warren used this buzzword several times in his forum with McCain and Obama. He framed one set of questions with it this way: "Everybody’s got a world view, a Buddhist, a Baptist, a secularist, an atheist, everybody’s got a world view."

On its face, this is a benign sentiment that's hard to argue against. But in Christian circles it is almost always used to contrast a Biblical worldview with a selfish, immoral, or ignorant one. Here's Warren, speaking to a Christian audience, on six worldviews you're competing against: The one with the most toys wins, I’ve got to think of me first, Do what feels good, Whatever works for you, God doesn’t exist, You are your own God.

Hardly as neutral as he made it sound at the candidates forum. The CreationWiki entry on worldview drives the point home further.

I'm not trying to argue that Palin meant to blow a dog whistle for the religious right by using code language. If anything, she heard a whistle that no one was blowing. Unable to process "Bush Doctrine" her mind, steeped in evangelical shibboleths, translated to "worldview."

What does this tell us? Probably not much, except that she really is a true believer, and not another Rovian cynic. David Kuo suggests that Palin sold out her faith yesterday by backpedaling on whether the war in Iraq is part of God's plan. I wouldn't put it that way. More likely, she got lucky in that Gibson chose a specific question that she could answer at least somewhat honestly. OK, it's probably bullshit that she was thinking of Lincoln when she said it, but I agree with Steven Waldman that her prayer about Iraq was "a totally appropriate desire for a Christian." The lie came a few seconds later when Palin said she would "never presume to know God's will or speak God's words." Because we know she thinks God wants an Alaska pipeline, a statement Waldman flagged as "far over the line." Also, readers of this site must have gotten a good laugh when Sarah Your Heavenly Father Palin said she would never presume to speak God's words. Maybe e-mail isn't technically "speaking."

By the way, according to this Christian test, my own worldview is "socialist." Of course, the other choices are "strong biblical," "moderate biblical," "secular humanist," and "Marxist." I probably would have gotten secular humanist, except I strongly agreed that "God had no beginning and has no end." Though not for the reasons they probably had in mind.

September 12, 2008

McCain slips up in death-bed interview

Daniel Radosh

In a shameless attempt to delude America into believing that he is not a very, very old man who is at death's door, John McCain yesterday said his latest alleged clean bill of health from his dermatologist came out of a routine office visit, and that he did not make the appointment in a panic because he could see the Reaper on his tail.

Fair enough! But he perhaps used an unfortunate way to express that: "Like most Americans, I go see my doctor fairly frequently."

Ah, to live in John McCain's America. According to a new report, "Nearly a quarter of Americans have reduced the number of times they see their doctor because they want to save money in these tough economic times... Eleven percent of those surveyed also said they had cut back the number of prescription drugs they take or the dosage of those medications to make the prescription last longer." (Of course, cutting back on prescription drugs isn't always a bad idea!)

But don't worry, America. As long as you already have good health insurance, John McCain will help you out by taxing it. Wait, what?

To be fair — I'm nothing if not fair — John is correct that the average really, really old American sees his doctor 7.4 times a year. People who are not decaying before our eyes or infants, however, average three or four visits a year, which, sure, could be considered "fairly frequently," though keep in mind that this counts emergency room visits.

Of course, as one of McCain's now former health care advisers suggests, being able to go to the ER is pretty much the same as having insurance.

September 12, 2008

Keep creepy Uncle John away from your kids

Daniel Radosh

Harsh, but fair, especially with the "anything to get elected" kicker. McCain picked this fight himself.

September 11, 2008

OMG! Sarah Palin gets her vivaciousness by sucking the remaining life out of John McCain!

Daniel Radosh

AMERICAblog posted this video of John McCain attempting to dodge questions about Sarah Palin from a local newscaster. It is, as Steve Benen notes at CBSnews.com, "embarrassingly incoherent." But set aside for a moment that McCain's answers are a mess of poorly delivered lies, evasions and half truths. Instead, just watch for the horror of how creepy John McCain has become. Pay special attention to the way he sucks in saliva at the beginning of every sentence.

For comparison, here's McCain four and a half years ago on the Daily Show. What happened to that guy? Is it just because he's younger, or is it that he's saying stuff he actually believes?

September 11, 2008

Oink oink

Daniel Radosh

original.jpgSarah Palin, March, 2008:

I am not among those who have said "earmarks are nothing more than pork projects being shoveled home by an overeager congressional delegation." ...My D.C. office meets with dozens of local governments and others requesting earmarks and this interaction has always been cooperative and cordial... My role at the federal level is simply to submit the most well-conceived earmark requests we can.... The federal budget, in its various manifestations, is incredibly important to us, and congressional earmarks are one aspect of this relationship.

Politico notes that many of Palin's incredibly important earmark requests

are of exactly the sort that McCain has made a career of mocking—like animal research.

“We’re not going to spend $3 million of your tax dollars to study the DNA of bears in Montana,” McCain has said during this year’s campaign, referring to a study he’s mocked for years of whether grizzlies need to keep their status as an endangered species.

Palin, meanwhile, has requested $3.2 million to be spent in part researching the “genetics of harbor seals,” in one of the state’s many requests for federal funding of research into Alaska’s fauna.

$3.2 million for seal DNA. Talk about your soundbites. Hell, that's practically a ringtone.

Speaking of soundbites, I get that "she was for the bridge to nowhere before she was against it" is catchy. But it gives Palin way too much credit. It sounds like she flipped on the issue, and eventually ended up opposing it on principle, as she should have done from the start. That's not the case.

While it's technically true that Palin abandoned plans to build a $400 million bridge from Ketchikan to an island with 50 residents and an airport, it's completely misleading to portray Palin as a "crusader for the thrifty use of tax dollars" and claim, as the Alaska governor did in her convention speech last week, that she "told the Congress 'thanks but no thanks' for that Bridge to Nowhere." Ultimately, Palin's decision to pull the plug on the project had nothing to do with principle. In fact, she supported the remote project--with some reservations--while running for governor in 2006, telling her potential constituents that she would "not allow the spinmeisters to turn this project or any other into something that’s so negative." It was only when people like John McCain succeeding in convincing Congress that the project was a waste of money--and Congress subsequently killed its funding--that Palin decided to quit. As Palin said last year when ordering state transportation officials to ditch the bridge, "it's clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge between Ketchikan and Gravina Island." In other words, McCain's new running mate nixed the project--which, again, she originally supported--because the politics were untenable and not because she was against earmarks (she subsequently spent the money on other transportation projects). "Both Presidential candidates have both confirmed that they will work towards earmark reforms," she said in July. "So, just recognizing that, seeing the writing on the wall, and dealing with it is where I am."

Bonus: Obama apology cards.

September 10, 2008

The pig that got away

Daniel Radosh

lipstickpigmccain.jpg For months, Barack Obama told us he was prepared for below-the-belt attacks and that he wouldn't let himself be Swift Boated. Well now the attacks have started, and how did Obama respond? He raised his voice and declared, I will not let myself be Swift Boated!

Seriously, dude?

Look, I have four-year-old twins. Periodically they get into that thing where one of them starts repeating everything the other one says. Inevitably the victim gets fed up with it and shouts, "Stop doing that!"

What they don't get yet, because they're only four years old, is that once you say, "Stop doing that," you've already lost. It's a statement that the tormenting is getting to you and an invitation for the tormenter to repeat, "Stop doing that" right back at you. What you have to say instead, as any eight-year-old can tell you, is, "I'm a poopy-head." Now you've trapped the bully. He either has to say "I'm a poopy-head" about himself (ha!), or he has to stop the attack.

The problem with Obama's "this is a made up controversy" response is that, in addition to keeping him on the defensive, it doesn't help him even if it works. At the very best it stops the debate about whether Obama is sexist and initiates a debate about whether the stupid distraction is nothing more than a stupid distraction. What still doesn't get debated is whether John McCain is putting lipstick on a fucking pig — and that's where Obama wants the focus to be.

This morning I proposed a version of the poopy-head maneuver for Obama. Josh Marshall added a nice little visual. At the urging of dozens of HuffPo readers I passed the idea on to a friend with connections to Obama's communication team. It would have been great if Obama had used it today instead of making clumsy attempts to explain, rather than amplify, his attacks. But it's probably not too late for him to use it tomorrow. Except, uh oh, tomorrow is Official Non-Partisan Day. And by Friday, Obama can't bring it up again without looking like he's the bad guy, not to mention slow on the uptake.

So instead, watch for Obama to never use that line again, even though it perfectly conveys his message and already has media traction.

Obama can still go on the attack over other things. Numerous people have pointed out a way in which he could essentially accuse McCain of siding with pedophiles over parents. But while that might throw McCain off his stride, it's as silly and phony as anything McCain himself is doing, and won't focus attention on issues that work in Obama's favor. No, lipstick on a pig was his big opening, and he blew it. Let's hope it doesn't happen again.

September 10, 2008

When life gives you pigs with lipstick, make sexy bacon

Daniel Radosh

Glenn Greenwald is understandably apoplectic that the chattering classes are wasting any of our precious time talking about whether Obama was making a sexist remark about Sarah Palin when he used a phrase no one has ever heard before, "You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig."

Greenwald writes: "The only actual story here is how brazenly deceitful and cynical the McCain campaign is, and what helpful and easily manipulated allies the establishment media is in all of that. The efforts of a few isolated reporters to debunk the story won't end up mattering much because, once injected into the Freak Show stew with the help of Jake Tapper, AP and MSNBC, it festers."

Mmmm! Festering stew! Greenwald is right up to a point. But he's missing something that I sincerely hope the Obama camp does not, which is that Obama can make this idiotic non-story work for him by repeating the line over and over again. As Mickey Kaus muses, in the extremely unlikely possibility that Obama intended people to think of Sarah Palin, the quip is deviously "brilliant" in "memorably undermining three of her central virtues at once... 1) Attractive 2) Anti-pork 3) Non-Bush anti-Washington reformer." And I'll add a more important 4) this may be the best opportunity Obama has to get the media talking about which candidate really does offer a change.

Think about it. All Obama needs to say is, "Recently I compared John McCain's ideas about changing Washington to putting lipstick on a pig. John got all upset by this. Apparently he thinks putting lipstick on a pig is enough. I've tried to look at it from his perspective, but I'm sorry, all I'm still seeing is a pig. Now, if he wants to argue that you can put lipstick on a pig and make it not a pig, that's a debate I'm happy to have."

The folksy, self-parodying language is important, because it communicates to voters that Obama thinks this is a big joke, and he's having fun with it, while still making a real point. If McCain and Palin respond to that by whining again about sexism, they're going to look like thin-skinned, humorless, and cynical. Obama's surrogates could hammer that home: "The idea that this has anything to do with women is ridiculous. Hillary Clinton is a tough leader. When John McCain used the exact same phrase about her, she didn't throw a tantrum."

Sensing that they're losing traction, the McCain camp will have to shut up and move on. But Obama won't let them. He'll use the line every opportunity he gets, forcing the media to make "he's still saying it" part of the story. And since the sexist angle will already have played out, maybe they'll start arguing about whether McCain really is putting metaphorical lipstick on a metaphorical pig. Regardless of what they conclude, the fact that it's been repeated over and over again on the news will trigger an automatic response in voters minds: When John McCain says "change" think "lipstick on a pig."

Update: Argh! Obama plays right into their hands. If an outrage is phony then don't get outraged about it. Come on, people, get your head in the game.

September 9, 2008

Now if only we can get another 20,000 people hooked

Daniel Radosh

pn106435.f3.gif Blogger Tenacious V writes about her Ambien blackouts:

Anyway, a couple days ago I checked my e-mail at work and discovered two books had been ordered from my Amazon.com account. They were books I wanted, but I wasn't willing to dole out for the hardback versions. I didn't remember placing any order. But the time stamp on the e-mail said the night before at 1:14. Several hours after I "fell asleep" courtesy of my little chemical music box. My husband wasn't home, and unless we have some hacker who courteously buys, with my own credit card, books I want but am too tightwad to purchase, and is careful to spend just enough to earn the Super Saver Shipping, I am pretty sure my friend Ambien bought them after I asked her over to play her pretty music and make me go to sleep.

I'm not particularly sorry over it. The books were both enjoyable, especially "Rapture Ready!" by Daniel Radosh.

Ka-ching! I knew my long-shot sales strategy would pay off.

By the way, the other book? Mein Kampf.

September 9, 2008

Ten reasons not to watch the Gibson interview of Sarah Palin

Daniel Radosh

Because he won't ask a single one of Jack Shafer's questions, at least not in the right way. The Anchorage Daily News also had some decent suggestions, but Shafer really nails it.

Sadly, FDL's lineup is more realistic.

Obviously, I'd want Gibson to ask if she really pees in the woods. And a follow up: since we can't trust a word out of your "bridge to nowhere" mouth, prove it for the camera.


September 9, 2008

And if you believe that, she's got a bridge to sell you. On eBay.

Daniel Radosh

Update: Joseph Romm explains what's wrong with the official Obama ad on the same theme:

Why does Obama's new ad use the word [maverick] 5 times?... You can't debunk a myth by verbally repeating it. This is basic stuff, so it is surprising that neither Obama nor his team understand it. It's why linguist George Lakoff titled his book, Don't think of an elephant. If I say that to you, you will think of an elephant. Negatives carry little rhetorical weight.

On the other hand, the Daily Show managed to pull it off.

September 9, 2008

Lou Dobbs, call your office

Daniel Radosh

Los Angeles "has brought in a herd of 100 goats to clear the thick and tangled weeds from a hillside lot next to the historic Angels Flight railway. Leaders of the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency which brought in the animals say the goats are cheaper and more environmentally friendly than humans with gas-powered machines."

Damn goats! Always taking good jobs away from Mexicans.

September 9, 2008

Palin's plane wreck

Daniel Radosh

Somerby demolishes the "Palin sold Alaska's plane on eBay" myth.

Palin didn’t “sell” the jet on eBay—and she didn’t make a profit. Indeed, she lost money for the state of Alaska when she tried to sell the jet on eBay—a procedure that had long been the norm when the state sold its assets.

In short, the eBay story is basically bogus, like the tale of the Bridge to Nowhere. But these stories exist for an obvious reason; they exist to define Palin as “a woman with a lot of guts”—with a ton of hockey-mom savvy. These stories are effective politics—but then too, they’re basically lies.

Somerby's catalog of the mindless repetitions of this bullshit in the press is breathtaking. (Scroll down to "Sold Through eBay.") If the Obama camp can relocate its balls, it should hit hard on a parallel narrative that's taking form as new facts emerge: Palin has a long history of wasting taxpayer money. And now she and John McCain are lying about this to win an election.

Update: In Palin's defense, she does not always waste taxpayer money. Under her leadership, Wasilla took the maverick step of charging sexual assault victims for their own rape kits. Wait... what?

Fuck, I'd (subterraneously) hit Palin on the Alaska Independence Party too. The flamboyant appeals to patriotism, paired with lies about Obama's supposed lack thereof, make this a legitimate issue. Hypothetical push-poll question for Republican voters: If Michelle Obama belonged to an avowedly anti-American organization, and Barack Obama had twice addressed that organization in his capacity as an elected official, urging it to "keep up the good work," would that make you more or less likely to vote for Obama?

So how can you not be troubled by the Palins' involvement with the Alaksa Independence Organization? Other than that they're not Muslim — as far as I know.

September 8, 2008

At least McCain won't have to worry about India

Daniel Radosh

The Associated Press's list of "challenges that Pakistan's new president will face":

Economic problems
Nuclear proliferation
Staying alive

September 8, 2008

Bow down before the one you serve

Daniel Radosh

“Trig’s Creator, Your Heavenly Father.” That's how Sarah Palin signed an e-mail announcing her son's birth. She wrote it to help her friends make sense of "this mixed-up world you live in down there on Earth."

In case your brain is having trouble processing this before your morning caffeine: Sarah Palin writes e-mails in the voice of God.

And Obama is presumptuous?

Obama caught flack from the religious right, or whatever they're calling themselves these days, for saying that the question of when life begins is "above my pay grade." Yesterday he was obliged to apologize for being "flip," adding, "All I meant to communicate was that I don’t presume to be able to answer these kinds of theological questions."

And Obama calls himself a Christian?! Show me where in the Bible it says, "How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, who has been his counselor?" Real Christians like Sarah Palin and George Bush not only know the mind of the Lord, they speak in his voice.

Robert McElvaine calls these people Jesus thieves. But few have been quite as brazen about it as Sarah "Your Heavenly Father" Palin.

The MSM continues to perpetuate the entirely GOP-invented meme about the Temple of Obama. Let's see if an actual e-mail from a candidate who thinks she is God gets remotely similar traction.

September 8, 2008

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #160

Daniel Radosh

Submit the worst possible caption for this New Yorker cartoon. Click here for details. Click here for last week's results.


"The devil you can get rid of; it's cat piss that never goes away." — Weller

"The worst part is that Jesus is hiding in the closet, masturbating." —louis lewis

"No, Hell on earth is not really a metaphor when it comes to mortgages and the banking system. With fractional reserve lending your bank only needs to have 10% of your mortgage loan on deposit. It creates the other 90% out of thin air. You on the other hand must pay back the entire principle plus interest with money that represents actual labor.

Worse yet, to meet fractional reserve requirements your bank borrows "money" from the Federal Reserve, which creates 100% of it out of thin air as it has no reserves whatsoever.
Even worse, the US government also borrows "money" from the Federal Reserve, which it pays back with interest from the proceeds of the personal income tax.

Worse still, the US Constitution states the government should simply create money on its own -- no mention of borrowing it at interest from some self-appointed private central bank. Lincoln tried that, as did Kennedy. I guess we know what happened to them. The people controlling the central banks own everything, including most world leaders." —J.D.

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #160" »

September 5, 2008

Yes, but does she slather it on like a trollop?

Daniel Radosh

“That’s an Alaska woman for you. She can pee in the woods, then put on lipstick and go out to dinner.”Adele Morgan, friend of Sarah Palin.

September 5, 2008

But does he support the troops at West Beverly High?

Daniel Radosh


I usually like to avoid "what if the other side had done this?" formulations... but ferreals, can you imagine if Barack Obama had given the most important speech of his campaign in front of an image that he thought was Walter Reed Medical Center and it turned out to be Walter Reed Middle School in North Hollywood? The right-wing echo chamber would eat him alive, with able assistance by the mainstream media.

It's another example of how wedded the media is to its narratives. This gaffe in Obama's hands would supposedly highlight his inexperience in military matters. Since McCain's experience is taken for granted, it's less likely to get the same kind of traction (though in fact there's a strong case to be made for McCain's profound ignorance on important national security matters).

But there is a negative narrative about McCain that this fuck up might feed into nicely: his ineptitude. As one TPM reader puts it: did anyone vet this image?

At a minimum, it's another green screen for the Colbert Nation.

September 5, 2008

Is that a pig on your head or are you just happy to see me?

Daniel Radosh

loriberknerpenis.jpg Faithful readers may remember my (now dimmed) fascination with Laurie Berkner, Noggin's toddler-pop superstar. Today, Gina forwarded me this profile of Berkner from New York Parents magazine that features the most unfortunate photograph of any woman ever to appear in any publication.

Now I understand why four-year-old boys relate to her so well.

Close up after the jump, because when you can see clearly what's going on it's even worse.

Continue reading "Is that a pig on your head or are you just happy to see me?" »

September 5, 2008

OK, that would be a reason to move to Canada

Daniel Radosh

“Actually, in the Lohan/Spears/Hilton administration, teenage sexual behavior has gotten more responsible." —Bill Albert of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen & Unplanned Pregnancy, quoted in Politico

September 4, 2008

Oh sure, he'll follow it to the gates of hell

Daniel Radosh

"John McCain... vowed Thursday night to vanquish the 'constant partisan rancor' plaguing the nation as he launched his fall campaign for the White House." —Associated Press

Selections from this week's major GOP convention speeches:

Mitt Romney: "We need change all right — change from a liberal Washington to a conservative Washington... Did you hear any Democrats talk last week about the threat from radical, violent jihad? Republicans believe that there is good and evil in the world... Republicans prefer straight talk to politically correct talk... And we will never allow America to retreat in the face of evil extremism!"

Rudy Giuliani: "For four days in Denver, the Democrats were afraid to use the words "Islamic terrorism."... The Democratic Party had given up on Iraq. And I believe, ladies and gentlemen, when they gave up on Iraq, they had given up on America."

Fred Thompson: "He is the most liberal, most inexperienced nominee to ever run for president. Apparently they believe that he would match up well with the history-making, Democrat-controlled Congress. History-making because it's the least accomplished and most unpopular Congress in our nation's history."

George W. Bush: "The Democrats had taken control of Congress and were threatening to cut off funds for our troops."

September 4, 2008

Palin comparison

Daniel Radosh

I'm a little confused about Sarah Palin. Apparently one of her chief qualifications for office is that she's a "hockey mom." The Republicans seem to bring it up every time they mention her name. Of the first 45 words of Palin's convention speech, the only ones that weren't "thank" or "you" or "so much" were, yes, "hockey" and "moms."

But don't dare ask who she's a hockey mom of. That's Off Limits.

So let's stick to the issues. Today's call to arms from Palin is, "The misinformation and flat-out lies must be corrected." Fine. Here's a good start. Oh, but that doesn't count, because that's the Media doing the correcting and the media is sexist and biased. (By the way, Karl, Wasilla isn't exactly the second largest city in Alaska. It's fourth. Which I know still sounds impressive, until you see a drop off of about 30,000 after #3. Also, it's only just recently edged out Sitka, which has genuine cachet as the setting of the Yiddish Policeman's Union and the place where I worked fish the summer before my senior year.)

Amazingly, Republicans have settled on the experience argument as their defense of Palin. So give them credit for balls, which, it has to be admitted, is more than can be said for Democrats. Even McCain himself spouted the National Guard=national security experience lie. Of course, we now know that Palin may not want to take credit for running the Alaska Guard. But I'm sure that's just another unfair, what do you call it, fact.

Yesterday I showed why the Palin pick didn't actually burnish McCain's maverick credentials, but that still seemed to me a more effective narrative than this one. Indeed, the more Palin and her consorts (and make no mistake, she's at the top of the ticket now) hype the experience line, the more ridiculous they look. I'm having an optimistic day, so here's how I see it: Once the initial glow from the utterly predictable and meaningless praise wears off — she's been in the public eye less than a week, remember — the electorate isn't likely to believe that Sarah Palin has the necessary experience to run the country. But they are likely to believe that anyone who says so is a cynical fraud.

September 3, 2008

Boy the way Glenn Miller played...

Daniel Radosh

Here's a quaint headline from a more innocent time.

10 Things You Didn't Know About Sarah Palin

Oh, look, her favorite meal is moose stew. Anything else we need to know, oh voice from the distant past?

Bonus: Can this be real?


September 3, 2008

The 36th Chamber of Palin

Daniel Radosh

foreignaffairs_sarahpalin.jpg The CW about Sarah Palin has gelled: every new revelation about her is important because the real issue is McCain's rash decision. The McCain camp today essentially acknowledged that it's been stung by this line of attack when it declared it be "nonsense" and promised to have "no further comment."

I'm with the CW, both because it's effective and because it's true. And despite the pronouncements from on high, it's not going away for a few reasons.

1. Bristol's pregnancy is getting attention not just because of the human drama, but because it's symbolic of a long list of things McCain apparently didn't know before he tapped Palin. And the Bristol issue can't be filed away strictly as a private matter because (among other reasons we'll get to soon) it's the one that most obviously caught McCain by surprised. McCain claims that he knew about it in advance, but that's almost certainly a lie. If the campaign was aware of this, it would have included it in the official first day press release. Not prominently or anything. They'd have buried it in the last third of the bio, framed it as part of the whole pro-life thing, as they're attempting to do now, and then made clear that it was a private matter about a child that no one would discuss. Framed that way, Bristol would barely have been mentioned. That's political inoculation 101. The fact that it leaked out instead proves that McCain had no idea it was coming. If I'm wrong, and I doubt it, then McCain should certainly fire his entire media team immediately.

2. Compounding the error of point 1 (poor preparation), McCain's denial constitutes lying to the public to cover his ass. Now, my analysis isn't proof that he lied, but it's certainly enough to keep the media asking questions in an attempt to catch him in that lie.

3. The media will keep asking questions because McCain just pissed them off big time. Retaliating against CNN (with poor, doddering old Larry King as the innocent bystander) for doing its most basic job for a change is not going to fly. After all, Brown wasn't digging up personal dirt, she was appropriately testing an official campaign line: that running the Alaska National Guard counts as executive experience. Of course, some Palin apologists go as far as to say that this counts as foreign policy experience, which is simply false. The new McCain suggestion is that Palin, by virtue of having any executive experience at all, is more prepared than Obama, who has none. By that token, she is also more prepared than John McCain.

4. McCain's chief VP vetter now says that everything that had come up as a possible red flag is now out in the open. Which means that if anything else comes out McCain can't turn around and say, "well, we knew about that too." Which means that the press will have to try to find out if there is anything else there, to test claims that the vetting process was thorough. Does anyone seriously think there's not at least one more skeleton waiting to emerge from Palin's grave and go on a deadly rampage?

But let's step back a minute and point out that even the supposed upside of McCain's choice of Palin -- that it shows he's a maverick who likes to take bold chances and won't be reined in by the rules of politics -- is total fucking lie. It's been reported over and over that Palin was McCain's third choice. He wanted to name Lieberman or Ridge, but caved to the pressure of the religious right. Instead of naming the person he thought would be the best partner to help him govern the country (though what kind of man thinks Lieberman or Ridge is that person?) he went with the one calculated to help him win an election. And badly calculated at that. When the chips were down, McCain crumbled. Even if you like Palin you have to admit that.

Finally, let's dispose of this nonsense that Bristol's "condition" is out of bounds.

Continue reading "The 36th Chamber of Palin" »

September 2, 2008

I believe that's exactly the kit they suggest on Ready.gov

Daniel Radosh

A hardened few choose to stay and ride out Gustav

Hattie Callan, 36, weaved her way down the street Sunday, a vodka drink already in her hand and it only 9:20 in the morning. She was staying behind to watch over several houses, and she wasn't worried.

"I've got liquor, cash, food, ammo and weed," she said as she floated out of sight.

September 2, 2008

Would I lie to you?

Daniel Radosh

Evangelical pollster George Barna finds that evangelicals are the most totally moral people in America.

Among his findings: when asked if they've engaged in a list of immoral behaviors in the previous week, only 1 percent of evangelicals reported that they had lied! Nope, I can't see any problem with that statistic.

Another behavior on the list: premarital sex. Oops. That's suddenly off-message. As of yesterday, the evangelical line is that premarital sex makes you an average American who people can relate to. As long as you eventually get married and don't abort the baby, it's not a moral problem at all.

Naturally, atheists and liberals report having premarital sex far more often than traditional Christians. What good Christian girl is going to admit that to a pollster? Or, you know, a vice-presidential vetting team.

September 2, 2008

Bronze medal for cluelessness

Daniel Radosh

Last week, The New Yorker published its second of two Olympic dispatches by film critic Anthony Lane. Sending a writer outside his comfort zone is one of those thrilling risks that magazines sometimes indulge in, like John McCain selecting a running-mate. The writer's lack of expertise becomes part of the fun, as Lane gleefully confesses to knowing almost nothing about fencing, the shot put, handball, archery, and so on.

But then comes this moment:

The other mystery weapon in Lyon’s quiver was Phil Towle, a performance coach back in the States, whose online messages had been an inspiration. “He’s also been a psychologist for Metallica,” Ryan said, as if to justify the gentleman. I had to steady myself against a passing volunteer. Metallica has a psychologist? What, exactly, is it repressing in its sylvan melodies?

Now, I don't expect Lane to be a huge Metallica fan, but Some Kind of Monster, the film about Towle's work with the band, was one of the most crtically acclaimed documentaries of 2004. I'll bet even passersby in Beijing could have told him that.

September 2, 2008

It's all downhill from here

Daniel Radosh

What a treat to come back home and find that the subletters have actually left the place nicer than they found it. I can't think enough my stellar team of guest bloggers. I hope you kept up with the site over the last couple of weeks, 'cause there was a lot of great stuff here. David and Deborah's Family Circus made me laugh out loud (not just type LOL). Guilfoile's history of the Jaws of Life was so fascinating I still can't believe it appeared here, rather than the NYT op-ed page. TG Gibbon gave us the complete undead covers of Dark Mysteries (and all-around the best post title). Vance nailed a political meme that I hope will not go away just because Bristol Palin got knocked up. Simsburybear had an actual scoop with Monica Goodling's wedding registery. And Dave provided an awesome soundtrack for the whole thing.

Thanks again everyone. You can take a break until the next time I take a break.

September 2, 2008

Name Your Children...the American Way!



I resisted the urge to fulfill some of my schadenfreude/morning coffee jitters by image bombing the site with pics of Jamie Lynn Spears...BUT I do think it's high time to start a PALIN MEME of my very own.

Name your children! The Palin way! Todd Palin sez: "Sarah's parents were coaches and the whole family was involved in track and I was an athlete in high school, so with our first-born, I was, like, 'Track!'"

I didn't realize it was that easy! So, your kids' names are:
(1) your favorite sport (Track)
(2) the city body of water near where you grew up (Bristol)
(3) the city in which or nearby where you currently live (Willow)
(4) cool name, of which there are not many (Piper)
(5) something out of Norse mythology (or favorite school subject) (Trig)

My five children's names are: Trick Pool, Annapolis Chesapeake, Philly, Cyclone, and Ragnarok. (Ragnarok's terrible two's are gonna be rough.)

September 1, 2008

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #159


Submit the worst possible caption for this New Yorker cartoon. Click here for details. Click here for last week's results.


"So who wants abortions in their coffee? I know, I know, not Steve! Because [girly voice] 'Steve's not a monster anymore!' Hey, if he's not a monster anymore that musta been me raping my kids last night!" —TG Gibbon

"I knew I'd regret giving that Claes Oldenberg the secretary job...eh, but he gives good head." —LK

"I've heard of a large cup of coffee, BUT THIS IS RIDICULOUS!!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!" —Trotman

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #159" »

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