Archive for July, 2007

July 20, 2007

This shouldn’t be terribly surprising. And not just because of the Vitter thing, either. Giuliani’s been getting kind of a free pass on national press coverage for the past six years because of 9/11, but that went away the moment he decided to run for president.

What’s interesting is that with presumptive savior of the GOP McCain having fallen, and new presumptive savior of the GOP Giuliani getting pretty thoroughly McCained, I don’t think anyone can predict who would be able to step in and fill in for him. GOP base support is so fractured, and their level of enthusiasm for one candidate specifically so low that not only is the primary still anyone’s game but I can’t imagine any candidate emerging unscathed, much less with the base of their own party totally locked up.

But is that really much worse than what’s happening on the Democratic side? Look at who our presumptive nominee is.


What a movement looks like
July 19, 2007

A bunch of people who really like keychains and bumper stickers.

Coming soon: volunteering for the campaign by attending rallies, watching rallies on TV, telling your friends to vote for Obama or being polite to him that one time you ran into him.

July 18, 2007

Senate Republicans may have (temporarily) successfully blocked a vote on the Reed-Levin amendment, but I don’t see this as a loss. The all-night session did exactly what it was supposed to – it was a dramatic move that drew attention to the fact that the GOP is blocking any attempt to withdraw from Iraq.

Basically it alerted America and the media to what Greg Sargent points out:

What this means in a nutshell is this: While a majority of the U.S. Senate favors withdrawal from Iraq, the Senate can’t vote on a measure that would accomplish this — because the GOP Senate leadership won’t allow it.

Exactly. And it’s important that everyone understand that.

July 18, 2007

Continuing the Harry Potter-bashing vs. Harry Potter-bashing-bashing thing from yesterday, one of my biggest complaints with the series was how ineptly Rowling writes teenage angst. She’s got to have a pretty low opinion of people in my age bracket if she really believes we’re the bipolar, petulant, emotionally-unstable emo brats that she describes us as.

Then of course there’s the whole thing about all the kids at the school being clean-mouthed straight-edge kids, but that’s just an inevitable byproduct of the need for the book to reach an audience whose parents don’t want them reading about drinking, cursing and sex.

Still, it’s aggravating and that’s why every once in a while it’s nice to read a book like Small Town Punk, which I started last night. You get the impression that not only does the writer, John Sheppard, know real-life teenagers, but he also might have been one at some point in his life.

Image courtesy of

July 17, 2007

Unlike either of the two Matts, I’m actually inclined to be a little sympathetic to Ron Charles’ argument. There is something a little awry when intelligent, literate people read only Harry Potter and not other books that are not only better, but that they might actually enjoy more.

That being said, Matt (the older one) has a point. Even if you agree with Charles’ basic thesis, there’s no reason to be a dick about it. Instead, it’s better to take a positive approach and recommend some good books.

So I’m going to take this opportunity to strongly recommend three other book series. All three are sci-fi or fantasy and all three are, like Harry Potter, quick, addictive reads.

The first one is pretty light fair, but if you’re reading Harry Potter I’m going to go ahead and assume that you’re not a snob about reading popcorn literature. The Harry Dresden Files by Jim Butcher have been called Harry Potter for grown-ups a lot, but the tone is too different for that title to really fit – it’s a lot more film noir and with a sharper sense of humor. Still, it’s got the quick pace, convoluted mythology and addictive quality of the best Harry Potter books – just with a noir twist, a bit more of a wink and nudge, and much better characterization. Just don’t watch the awful Sci-Fi channel adaptation.

For dark fantasy with a little bit more meat on its bones (and some political undertones that any liberal blogger would appreciate) you can’t get much better than China Miéville’s books about the twisted steampunk landscape of Bas-Lag, starting with Perdido Street Station. For people who find Rowling’s fantasy creations a little too derivative this is a demented, inventive acid trip.

Richard K Morgan also writes some of the best politically themed speculative fiction out there. Altered Carbon, Broken Angels and Woken Furies are gritty, bloody, furious future noir masterpieces. Like Miéville, Morgan’s got a particular interest in leftist politics – his book Market Forces is what would happen if Noam Chomsky wrote the script for Mad Max.

July 16, 2007

Alan Dershowitz certainly shows a remarkable aptitude for political clichés, even if actual insight is lacking.

But let’s take his argument at face value. Let’s assume that the Democratic primary voters are a bunch of extremists whose views are completely out of touch with the average voter and that the 2006 election proved that Americans just love themselves some centrism.

Even if you buy all of that, why is this article even necessary? Who are these Democratic presidential candidates that he’s worried are pandering to the Hard Left (proper noun, according to Dershowitz)? Is he really all the concerned about what could happen if Kucinich wins the primary?

July 16, 2007

Josh Marshall takes the words out of my mouth. Enough of this “gentleman’s agreement” crap. Announcing your attention to filibuster means you should actually follow through with it and accept the political consequences if you want to prevent a straight up-or-down vote.

This is a dramatic move and I hope it gets some coverage. It’s important that everyone sees that some members of Congress aren’t interested in sitting quietly until September.

My Endorsement for 2008
July 16, 2007

John Edwards Vows To End All Bad Things By 2011

The Onion

John Edwards Vows To End All Bad Things By 2011

DES MOINES, IA—Edwards’ "Good Things for All" initiative builds on previous efforts to end bad things, like skinned knees, curse words, and splinters.

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The tone of Edwards’ campaign is vastly superior to Senator Clinton’s slogan: “Maybe we should have a conversation about doing something about all these bad things at some point in the future.”

Or Obama’s: “Cynicism is a bad thing because good things are awesome.”

That must have been a really boring debate
July 15, 2007

Image courtesy of the Detroit News

The exact reason for why this happened still eludes me. I don’t see a whole lot of political benefit in all of the Republican candidates excusing themselves from an NAACP event, but this isn’t a new thing for Republicans in general. Anyone remember this?

Amanda Marcotte argues that the candidates are appealing to a racist Republican base. Although I don’t doubt that there are racists among the far-right base of the party, I’m still not sure that I buy that full-out racists make up a significant enough portion of the base to be worth openly courting like this.

But on the other hand, I don’t see this getting much press outside of the news junkies on either side, the people who wouldn’t vote for a Republican candidate no matter what anyway, and the people who are voting in the Republican primary.

Now that I think about it, some of this may have to do with a perception in the Republican Party of the NAACP as a leftist organization – in other words, the candidates could rationalize it by arguing that they’re not attending the debate for the same reason Democratic candidates refused to attend a FOX News debate. But that goes back to some of the racist undertones in the Republican Party – as in, if you believe that the NAACP is an adversary of the Republican Party, why is that?

Your mouth says no but your lack of a stable infrastructure says yes
July 15, 2007

This is actually kind of funny, to the extent that any humor can be wrung out a tragic situation like the Iraq War.

“We say with confidence that we are capable, God willing, of taking full responsibility for the security file if the international forces withdraw in any time they wish,” Mr. Maliki said.

How diplomatic! It’s like the United States military is the last guess at a party that started winding down long ago and it doesn’t get the repeated hints the host is throwing that maybe it’s time to live.

Maliki: Man, I’m really tired. That was some party though.

Bush: Yeah, it is.

Maliki: I’ve got to clean up and everything to. I should probably get started on that right now.

Bush: Okay.


Maliki: You know, I’ve got work in the morning.

Bush: Me too.



Like with any oblivious guest, these hints are going to be completely ignored until the US damn well feels like leaving. Because as Frank Rich points out elsewhere in today’s NYT:

The White House’s game is to create a new fictional story line to keep the war going until President Bush can dump it on his successor.

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