The Heartland Dissident –

Earlier today…

McCain was an early enthusiast for the war in Iraq, Hagel an early skeptic. Could he imagine the co-chairman of his first national race having a place on a McCain ticket or in a McCain administration? I asked. "I’d be honored to have Chuck with me in any capacity," McCain replied. "He’d make a great secretary of state."

The Heartland Dissident –

Bush Still Doesn’t Like McCain

Not sure if this changes anything, but amusing nonetheless:

Bush-McCain-celebrate Katrina.png

George W. Bush’s bombastic return to the world stage has reminded me of my favourite Bush anecdote, which for various reasons we couldn’t publish at the time. Some of the witnesses still dine out on it.

The venue was the Oval Office. A group of British dignitaries, including Gordon Brown, were paying a visit. It was at the height of the 2008 presidential election campaign, not long after Bush publicly endorsed John McCain as his successor.

Naturally the election came up in conversation. Trying to be even-handed and polite, the Brits said something diplomatic about McCain’s campaign, expecting Bush to express some warm words of support for the Republican candidate.

Not a chance. “I probably won’t even vote for the guy,” Bush told the group, according to two people present.“I had to endorse him. But I’d have endorsed Obama if they’d asked me.”

Endorse Obama? Cue dumbfounded look from British officials, followed by some awkward remarks about the Washington weather. Even Gordon Brown’s poker face gave way to a flash of astonishment.

(click to continue reading Bush: “I probably won’t even vote for McCain” | Westminster Blog: The latest on UK politics |


Media, Hillary and Sarah Palin

“Why Obama Won: The Making of a President 2008” (Greg Mitchell)

I thought this was a big turning point in the 2008 election as well:

worst mccain photo

Greg Mitchell writes:

But I believe that a true turning point — though rarely noted — actually came in the summer, at the Democratic convention in Denver. No, it was not the general good vibes about Obama, the ringing speeches by Teddy, Michelle, Bill and Hill, and by the candidate himself.

Rather, it was the electronic media’s overblown coverage of the allegedly widespread threat by female Hillary delegates, and other Clinton fans, to bolt Obama in favor of McCain.

As you recall, the dissidents, known as “PUMAS,” got massive face time on TV and, it was said, they represented just the tip of the iceberg. And it was said (by commentators, not just by the new pro-Hillary media stars), that women, particularly older ones and suburban/blue-collar types who had voted for Hillary in the primaries, would likely abandon the Democrats in November.

There was no firm evidence for this, of course – and few pundits, on TV and in print, seemed to notice that the same few disgruntled Hillary delegates appeared on all of the shows. No matter. Obama’s possible defeat because of the possible defections was widely predicted.

Why did this matter, since the mass defections never happened? Especially since here and elsewhere at liberal political blogs no one ever took the threats seriously?

Because John McCain and his people bought it, hook, line and sinker, as I explain in my book Why Obama Won. This explains the sudden (though often ill-explained) rise of Sarah Palin to the top of their VP list. The McCainites saw an opening – which really wasn’t there – and went completely overboard. Not only did a female VP suddenly look like a great idea, but one who would have extra appeal to the particular type of Hillary primary voters so hyped by the media.

[Click to continue reading Greg Mitchell: One Year Ago, A Turning Point in 2008 Campaign: The Media, Hillary and Sarah Palin]

Too busy/lazy to look right now, but while the television yammers were seemingly fixated on the Public-Unity-My-Ass story, the blogs were a lot more skeptical of the Hillary-brigade.

Reading Around on July 13th

Some additional reading July 13th from 11:10 to 19:39:

  • Unscientific America and those awful atheists : Pharyngula – Mooney and Kirshenbaum are busily carping at these ghastly “New Atheists” for imagined transgressions against reason and the appropriate application of science, but what do they have to say about Christians who believe that crackers turn into Jesus in their mouths, or that a magical ensoulment occurs at fertilization to turn a zygote into a fully human being, or that children should be kept in ignorance about sex, or that woman’s role is as subservient breeder, or that using condoms to prevent disease is a violation of a divine dictate that the only purpose of sex is to have babies, or that people who love other people of the same sex deserve stoning…? Compared to the “New Atheist” insistence that remarkable claims about magic sky fairies ought to be regarded as patent nonsense, those can be rather destructive to society…and also negatively affect the acceptance of science. Rick Warren surely deserves as much condemnation as Richard Dawkins.
  • Baglione

  • Unscientific America, the gift that keeps on giving : Pharyngula – “Ultimately, this whole exchange illustrates the failure of Mooney/Kirshenbaum’s arguments. The demotion of Pluto, the rise of the “New Atheism”, PZ Myers, and blogging are all recent phenomena — they do not deal with the causes of the disconnect between society and science, and treating them is a distraction from dealing with the real problems. This book is more like a collection of poor rationalizations for complaining about stuff they don’t like than a serious and scholarly attempt to address a significant social problem. To useless, I must also add the adjective lightweight.”
  • Atheist

  • Greetings in a Taxi – “A raised hand generates an irresistible magnetic pull on a taxi driver. After some years the mind is trained to seek it out to the point of forming light-poles, reflections in parked cars, weaving tree branches, and on a slow night, just about any shape into that desired sign, the symbol of time not spent in vain. Depending on the time of day or night, what follows that hopeful hand will vary from absolute silence to aggressive and usually unwanted camaraderie, but in every case it always begins with some sort of greeting..”
  • Palin’s Long March to a Short-Notice Resignation – – Oh, boo fucking hoo. Her acid tongue was able to destroy her base all on its own.

    “Lawmakers who had supported her signature effort to develop a natural gas pipeline turned into uncooperative critics.

    Ethics complaints mounted, and legal bills followed. At home Ms. Palin was dealing with a teenage daughter who had given birth to a son and broken up with the infant’s father, a baby of her own with special needs and a national news media that was eager to cover it all.

    Friends worried that she appeared anxious and underweight. Her hair had thinned to the point where she needed emergency help from her hairdresser ”

eat a bag of dicks

Reading Around on July 3rd

Some additional reading July 3rd from 14:02 to 18:15:

  • Photos of Sarah Palin from – “I used to joke around with John McCain during the campaign about coming jogging with me. And once I asked him what his favorite exercise was, and he said, ‘I go wading.’ Wading. He lives on a creek in Arizona, so he goes wading. That cracked me up.”
  • Matt Taibbi – Taibblog – Goldman Sachs is reeling under public pressure – True/Slant – That a company as rich and powerful as Goldman would stoop to peering through the web version of a locker-room peephole to make a few extra pennies either front-running random trades or somehow using visitor data “not for their benefit” shows how completely and utterly morally absent this company is. There is not an ill-gotten dollar they will not chase, no matter how small or insignificant the sums might be.

    Word should be spread about this and anyone who used the Goldman 360 portral for trading should seriously investigate this situation, as it is entirely possible you’ve been ripped off …

    More to the point, the fact that Goldman is getting enough public pressure that it feels it has to respond to these queries shows that the company is reeling. And the fact that their public statements have been so hilariously transparent and clumsy shows that they’re rattled and don’t know how to handle this kind of heat, which they’re not used to getting

  • Email Full-resolution Photos From the iPhone 3G S | Geek stuff – “What I found was, the photos contained in the email were full-resolution 2048×1536 photos, not the puny 800×600 photos that get sent via the “Share” method.”
    basically, use copy/paste

Reading Around on June 30th through July 1st

A few interesting links collected June 30th through July 1st:

  • MenuPages Blog :: Chicago: Feasting on Flickr – Aren't those pictures up there pretty? They're from our new Flickr pool, and they are, from left, a luscious-looking burger from Feed taken by ehfisher, some New Tokyo takeout from D. Majette, and a spinach salad at Mia Francesca by Swanksalot
  • One in four U.S. Internet users 'snacked' on entertainment news in May | Technology | Los Angeles Times – Snacking on celebrity gossip online is on the rise. Credit: swanksalot via Flickr.
  • Todd S. Purdum on Sarah Palin | – In dozens of conversations during a recent visit to Alaska, it was easy to learn that there has always been a counter-narrative about Palin, and indeed it has become the dominant one. It is the story of a political novice with an intuitive feel for the temper of her times, a woman who saw her opportunities and coolly seized them. In every job, she surrounded herself with an insular coterie of trusted friends, took disagreements personally, discarded people who were no longer useful, and swiftly dealt vengeance on enemies, real or perceived. “Remember,” says Lyda Green, a former Republican state senator who once represented Palin’s home district, and who over the years went from being a supporter of Palin’s to a bitter foe, “her nickname in high school was ‘Barracuda.’ I was never called Barracuda. Were you? There’s a certain instinct there that you go for the jugular.”
  • Create spoken caller ID ringtones for iPhone via AppleScript – This AppleScript will generate a spoken name file, optionally looking for first, last, and nicknames, for selected Address Book Contacts. For example, "Jennifer Frickin' Connelly is calling….". It will optionally add a traditional (or other) ringtone of your choice to either the beginning …

Reading Around on June 15th

Some additional reading June 15th from 18:15 to 19:26:

  • Iran’s Disputed Election – The Big Picture – – re Iran’s Presidential Election, Tehran and other cities have seen the largest street protests and rioting since the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Supporters of reform candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, upset at their announced loss and suspicions of voter fraud, took to the streets both peacefully and, in some cases, violently to vent their frustrations. Iranian security forces and hardline volunteer militia members responded with force and arrests, attempting to stamp out the protests – meanwhile, thousands of Iranians who were happy with the election outcome staged their own victory demonstrations. Mousavi himself has been encouraging peaceful demonstrations, and called for calm at a large demonstration today (held in defiance of an official ban), as Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has just called for an official inquiry into accusations of election irregularities. (Update: several photos of injuries from gunshots at today’s rally added below)
  • The Fiery Judge | Mother Jones – comparing the substance and tone of her questions with those of his male colleagues and his own questions.

    “And I must say I found no difference at all. So I concluded that all that was going on was that there were some male lawyers who couldn’t stand being questioned toughly by a woman,” Calabresi says. “It was sexism in its most obvious form.”

    And what if such criticism came from a woman lawyer? Well, says Calabresi, women can be just as sexist as men in their expectations of how a woman judge should act.

    NPR played a couple of snippets of Sotomayor in its piece so listeners could judge for themselves. Ann did: “Listening to the clips, Sotomayor sounds an awful lot like John Roberts — who did not face any concerns about his ‘fiery temperament’ during his confirmation hearings. Totenberg exposes this talking point for what it is: straight-up sexism, with some racism mixed in for good measure.”

  • Daily Kos: Obama: Iranian people “should be heard and respected” – “What I would say to those people who put so much hope and energy and optimism into the political process, I would say to them that the world is watching and inspired by their participation, regardless of what the ultimate outcome of the election was. And they should know that the world is watching.And particularly to the youth of Iran, I want them to know that we in the United States do not want to make any decisions for the Iranians, but we do believe that the Iranian people and their voices should be heard and respected.”
  • Twitter Blog: Down Time Rescheduled – A critical network upgrade must be performed to ensure continued operation of Twitter. In coordination with Twitter, our network host had planned this upgrade for tonight. However, our network partners at NTT America recognize the role Twitter is currently playing as an important communication tool in Iran
  • Competition For Dummies by digby Just think. This… – “Sadly, this is the result of misguided American exceptionalism (and years of convenient Republican gibberish.) Even people who by all rights should be well informed about the issues of the day just simply can’t wrap their minds around the fact that our health care system is not only bad by our own measurements but that it is far worse than the systems in other industrialized countries. Foreigners cannot possibly have better health care than America. This is the greatest country the world has ever known or ever will know! It’s impossible!

    Except it’s true.”

Reading Around on March 30th

Some additional reading March 30th from 14:16 to 19:48:

  • jimmy's cocktail hour: Whiskey for the People. – "Pikesville Rye is widely distributed, and is usually available for around $11.99. Some parts of the country get it for $9.99. Let's call it $12. This is good rye at a bargain price. If you have a bottle of bitters on hand, you're all set. "
  • Cocktail Hacker » Blog Archive » MxMo XXXVI: Recession Gin and Tonic – So how hard is this cocktail going to hit your wallet? It’s not going to hit it hard at all. It’s going to be like a kitten falling on a pile of pillows.

    Burnett’s Gin (1.75 L) $15.99 -> 2 oz $0.54
    Realime (15 oz) $3.09 -> 1 tsp $0.04
    C-Dry Tonic (6×12 oz) $2.99 -> 6 oz $0.25
    Total Cost Per Drink $0.83
    Eighty three cents. Try to wrap your head around that number. That’s cheaper than a soft drink nearly anywhere. It’s cheaper than a crappy cup of coffee from the vending machine in my office.

  • The Cocktail Chronicles » MxMo Hard Times: Drink Like a King(sley) – Need to read this book!
    "Vital requirement: prepare pre- and post-dinner drinks in some undiscoverable pantry or broom-cupboard well away from the main scene. This will not only screen your niggardliness; it will also make the fetching of each successive round look like a slight burden, and will cast an unfavorable limelight on any individual determined to wrest additional drinks out of you. Sit in a specially deep easy-chair, and practise getting out of it with a mild effort and, later in the evening, a just-audible groan, though beware of overdoing this."
  • Twitter Blog: Replies Are Now Mentions – Seems like this should pick up on re-tweets too (RT @swanksalot for instance). Good tweak to the API.
  • The Art of Sampling | – "Sometime late last year, I was looking through the new releases when I came across a sincere tragedy. Hilary Duff was back, and THIS time, it was personal… “Personal Jesus”-personal. It seemed that, for her “Best Of” album, she needed a new song and thus decided to sample Depeche Mode’s 1989 hit “Personal Jesus” for her single, “Reach Out.”

    At first I couldn’t believe it because I consider Depeche Mode music sacred ground, but then I found a link to the music video and decided to see if it was true. For those of you that have been lucky enough to miss this, consider yourself very unlucky right now"

  • The Washington Monthly -IF IT'S SUNDAY, IT'S JOHN MCCAIN – John McCain has appeared on Meet the Press – just one of the multiple Sunday morning talk shows – 54 times, and I would guess that most of them have come in the years since announcing for President in 1999, since before that he was a more obscure figure in Washington. I can't imagine there's anyone else even close to that number. And yet McCain is an easy guy to find on the Rolodex and get to appear on your show. It points to a staleness in the official discourse.

Reading Around on March 4th

Some additional reading March 4th from 16:15 to 19:51:

McCain First, Second, And Always

John McCain could have been expelled from the Senate for ethics violations, but was able to quash and obfuscate the investigations, at least until the statute of limitations expired. Sahil Mahtani has an extensively researched article in The New Republic

Yet the Ethics Committee’s was not the only investigation into the scandal. There were two other probes at the time that got barely any public attention–both of which largely focused on McCain himself. These were probes into illicit leaks about the proceedings of the Ethics Committee–leaks that repeatedly benefited McCain and hurt his Keating Five colleagues. One of those senators described the leaks at the time as a “violation of ethical behavior at least as serious as anything of which we senators have been accused.”

The leaks, if they were coming from a senator, were also illegal. All five senators–including McCain–had testified under oath and under the U.S. penal code that the leaks did not come from their camps. The leaks were also prohibited by rules of the Senate Ethics Committee; according to the rules of the Senate, anyone caught leaking such information could face expulsion from the body. These, then, were not the usual Washington disclosures: Discovered, they could have stopped the career of any Washington politician in his tracks.

The two investigations into the leaks suggested McCain’s involvement but were officially inconclusive. New evidence, obtained in recent weeks, again points back to the McCain camp. The investigator of those leaks now says that he does not doubt that they came from McCain or his team. A reporter who possessed evidence in the Keating case now says he believes that McCain was the source and got away with it. Finally, a senator who has emerged as a key backer of McCain’s presidential campaign turns out to have authored a letter stating flatly that McCain was the source of the damning leaks. Put together, a large record of evidence now points in the direction of Senator McCain. Far from McCain’s reputation of putting “country first,” these leaks depict a formidable politician willing to go through great lengths to maintain his standing. More than McCain’s relationship with Keating, it is the story of the Keating investigation leaks that voters should know.

[From McCain First, Second, And Always]

McCain leaked to incriminate the other four Senators, and exonerate himself. Classy.

The Senate Ethics investigation into the Keating Five scandal would last over a year, between 1989 and 1991. But before the actual hearings even began, carefully timed leaks featuring information from Committee deliberations–which were secret–began to appear. Committee members were privy to the information that was ending up in the leaks, but so were the five senators and their staffs, who received Committee documents in order to safeguard their due process rights.

The leaks had instant impact. One source close to the case described them as “backfires lit in the beltway press and in the states where the five senators were from.” There were nine in all, some correct, some incorrect. Almost all of them–eight to be precise–either exonerated McCain or implicated the other senators.

Essentially, the leaks deflected public attention away from McCain and toward his colleagues. One leak, the week of DeConcini and Riegle’s appearances before the Committee in October, 1990, described the probe against them as having “broadened,” and accused Riegle, then Banking Committee chairman, of improper regulatory intervention. Neither part was true, yet the leak ricocheted in the press instantly. One headline from the Washington Post blared, “Panel Reveals Riegle-Keating Meetings; Senator Said to Have Maintained Contact After Start of S&L Probe,” and another from the Los Angeles Times read, “Panel Action is Seen as Prelude to a Full-Scale Investigation of Sens. Cranston, DeConcini and Riegle.” Meanwhile, approval ratings for Riegle and DeConcini began to tank in their home states. Later on, the leaks investigation would conclude that the leak “[could] only be described” as an attempt to “influence the deliberations on DeConcini and Riegle.”

Read more

Rashid Khalidi and modern-day McCarthyism

Eric Alterman discusses the latest McCain smear: namely that Obama and Rashid Khalidi were at a dinner party, five years ago. Terrifying news I know, but what else does McCain have to run on? Not much apparently.

This pathetic effort should, in a normal world, be laughed off the airwaves and news pages. First and most importantly, Khalidi is not someone that anyone should be ashamed to know. He is a noted and well-respected Palestinian scholar. Michael Hudson, director of the Centre for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown, describes Khalidi as pre-eminent in his field, a courageous scholar and public figure. John McCain apparently thought so too at one point, since the International Republican Institute, with McCain at the helm, gave Khalidi’s Centre for Palestine Research and Studies a $448,000 grant in the late 1990s.

No concrete offence of Khalidi’s has actually been alleged, so far as I’m aware, except that he once served as spokesman for the PLO, which Khalidi denies. Still, McCain made this stunning comparison on Wednesday: “If there was a tape of John McCain in a neo-Nazi outfit, I think the treatment of the issue would be slightly different,” he said in an interview with Hispanic radio stations.

This modern-day McCarthyism seems to rely much more on the fact that Rashid Khalidi’s name is Rashid Khalidi than any concrete allegations of wrongdoing. And the haphazard insinuation that maybe Ayers was there too is a transparent attempt to bait the Times into releasing the tape. The McCain people must know that a journalist cannot and will not burn a source. “The Los Angeles Times did not publish the videotape because it was provided to us by a confidential source who did so on the condition that we not release it,” said the newspaper’s editor, Russ Stanton. “The Times keeps its promises to sources.”

Perhaps Sarah Palin is actually ignorant enough about journalism to believe the foolish charge she utters when complaining: “It must be nice for a candidate to have major news organisations looking out for their best interests like that. Politicians would love to have a pet newspaper of their very own.” But surely Goldfarb, who left the Weekly Standard to join McCain’s campaign, knows better, and is playing the dim bulb for purely political purposes.

[From Eric Alterman: McCain’s attacks on Obama and Rashid Khalidi is modern-day McCarthyism ]

Way to keep it classy, John.

Charles Barkley for Governor!

Charley Barkley doesn’t need my financial support, obviously, nor would I ever consider moving to Alabama to vote for him, but I sincerely hope Mr. Barkley does run for Governor of Alabama in 2014. Alabama, and the nation, could use the Round Mound of Rebound.

Campbell Brown: Uh, do you think…do you think that John McCain, do you think the Republican Party has used race as an issue in this race?

Charles Barkley: Oh, no question, and they’ve used cold1 words like welfare and things like that. When people pick on welfare, first of all when they use the word welfare, that is really swaying, trying to use that as a minority thing, because people assume — if they really knew anything about the numbers. There seven times as many white people on welfare as black. Because there’s more white people in America. But when I see a story on welfare on television, they only show black people. But most white people don’t know that sometimes there’s as many whites on welfare as black people. And they just use cold2 words, they use the terrorist thing now. You know, they try to use the Muslims thing. Those are racial innuendos, of course, and I’ve said it from the beginning, the only way with the economy in the situation it is — we’ve had eight terrible years under the Bush’s administration, with the war in Iraq — I’ve said it from the beginning. The only way they can win this election is make it about race. That’s the only way they can win. I wrote a chapter in one of my books about what happens in a race, when things are going bad, everybody kind of goes with their own tribe and the only way the Republican party can make this thing work is they get their tribe to get together and of course they use racial innuendo.

[From Transcript: Charles Barkley tells Brown ‘racism is a cancer’ –]

and Barkley echoes a frequently made point about the Christian Taliban aka fake Christians:

Brown: You, there has been a lot of polarizing rhetoric on both sides, frankly throughout this campaign. You yourself have called the evangelical base of the GOP fake Christians.

Barkley: Well, because they are so judgmental. And you know what is really interesting about that? I was actually defending John McCain when I said that, because they were saying when he first got nominated that he is not part of the evangelicals. You got to respect Sen. McCain. What I meant by that and I still stick by it — my idea of religion is we are supposed to encourage people to love other people. I am a big pro-choice guy. I am a big gay marriage guy and they are so divisive and that is not my idea of religion. My idea of religion is we are supposed to bring people together. We are not supposed to judge other people.

Brown: But aren’t you judging them?

Barkley: They judge me. First of all the notion that you would vote for a president because he is against abortion or against gay marriage is absurd. I think politicians have three jobs.

No. 1 they should fix our public school system, they should make sure our neighborhoods are safe and they should give people economic opportunity. I don’t care who is gay, I don’t care who is pro-choice. I really think that is the only three jobs that our government and our elected officials should have and we obviously got to do something about the health care and this situation. But to elect a president and vote for a president just because he is against abortion and against gay marriage is absurd.

  1. obviously a typo: should be code []
  2. sic. s/b code []

Rouged Rogue

Let the finger pointing begin! McCain’s team is starting to implode, probably because their internal poll numbers look as bad as the aggregate poll numbers from sites like RealClearPolitics or Electoral Another example of John McCain’s shoot-from-the-hip mentality, in other words, and another example why McCain should not be president.

Several McCain advisers have suggested to CNN that they have become increasingly frustrated with what one aide described as Palin “going rogue.”

But two sources, one Palin associate and one McCain adviser, defended the decision to keep her press interaction limited after she was picked, both saying flatly that she was not ready and that the missteps could have been a lot worse.

They insisted that she needed time to be briefed on national and international issues and on McCain’s record.

“Her lack of fundamental understanding of some key issues was dramatic,” said another McCain source with direct knowledge of the process to prepare Palin after she was picked. The source said it was probably the “hardest” to get her “up to speed than any candidate in history.”

[From Palin’s ‘going rogue,’ McCain aide says –]

Another Poppy in Sitka

[some sort of poppy, Sitka, Alaska]

and so forth:

McCain sources say Palin has gone off-message several times, and they privately wonder whether the incidents were deliberate. They cited an instance in which she labeled robocalls — recorded messages often used to attack a candidate’s opponent — “irritating” even as the campaign defended their use. Also, they pointed to her telling reporters she disagreed with the campaign’s decision to pull out of Michigan.

A second McCain source says she appears to be looking out for herself more than the McCain campaign.

“She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone,” said this McCain adviser. “She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else.

“Also, she is playing for her own future and sees herself as the next leader of the party. Remember: Divas trust only unto themselves, as they see themselves as the beginning and end of all wisdom.”

A Palin associate defended her, saying that she is “not good at process questions” and that her comments on Michigan and the robocalls were answers to process questions.

The same McCain sources also vented to Politico, eager to affix blame on each other. Bwha-ha-ha!
Even McCain’s BFF, and preferred VP1 is looking to reposition himself again.

  1. if McCain had any Maverick in him, Lieberman would have been McCain’s VP, no matter what. But McCain long ago ceded that argument []

How John McCain came to pick Sarah Palin

Jane Mayer has an interesting piece of reporting, covering how two boatloads of conservative pundits made the trek up to visit with Sarah Palin in 2007. John McCain shouldn’t have listened to them, especially since so many conservatives now have second thoughts about Palin’s competence.

Amsterdam in Sitka

The selection of Palin thrilled the Republican base, and the pundits who met with her in Juneau have remained unflagging in their support. But a surprising number of conservative thinkers have declared her unfit for the Vice-Presidency. Peggy Noonan, the Wall Street Journal columnist, recently wrote, “The Palin candidacy is a symptom and expression of a new vulgarization in American politics. It’s no good, not for conservatism and not for the country. And yes, it is a mark against John McCain.” David Brooks, the Times columnist, has called Palin “a fatal cancer to the Republican Party.” Christopher Buckley, the son of National Review’s late founder, defected to the Obama camp two weeks ago, in part because of his dismay over Palin. Matthew Dowd, the former Bush campaign strategist turned critic of the President, said recently that McCain “knows in his gut” that Palin isn’t qualified for the job, “and when this race is over, that is something he will have to live with. . . . He put the country at risk.”

Palin initially provided the McCain campaign with a boost, but polls now suggest that she has become a liability. A top Republican close to the campaign said that McCain’s aides have largely kept faith with Palin. They have been impressed by her work ethic, and by what a quick study she is. According to the Republican close to the campaign, she has sometimes discomfited advisers by travelling with a big family entourage. “It kind of changes the dynamic of a meeting to have them all in the room,” he told me. John McCain’s comfort level with Palin is harder to gauge. In the view of the longtime McCain friend, “John’s personal comfort level is low with everyone right now. He’s angry. But it was his choice.”

[From How John McCain came to pick Sarah Palin.: The Insiders: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker]

Well worth reading the entire article

War Dead Project

My aunt Michelle writes:

My husband Bob, who is an artist, a poet, a veteran, a registered Republican and something of a nut, decided last spring that he wanted to create something that would express his deep feelings about the Iraq war. Starting in August he began to write, with a black sharpie, the names of the more than 4,000 soldiers who were killed in the war. He pasted the names written on wallpaper liner to the wall in front of our house which faces the Pacific ocean and a busy pedestrian walk. Above the list he wrote: “These Are the Brave Men and Women Our Government Sent to Die in Iraq.” It took about a month to complete the project and he added a statement at the end of the list. As more die he adds their names to the list.

He placed a spiral notebook near the project and urged people to write down their reactions and thoughts. Passing walkers from several countries and varied political persuasions have left dozens of their ideas in the notebook.

[From War Dead Project]

Robert Contemplative
[a photo I took of Bob last summer, somewhere off the coast of Alaska]

If you don’t get a chance to stroll by, reflect, and add your own comments, here is Bob’s statement:

Dear Neighbors,I honor these dead, the over 30,000 American wounded, and the hundreds of thousands who have served during this war. A veteran myself I understand some of their sacrifice, and understand that U.S. Troops do not choose their missions. The government chooses the war, and we the people choose the government.

These deaths are doubly sad because in Iraq our government ordered an attack, invasion and now occupation against the will of its people*of a country smaller than California* which did not threaten us, did not attack us,* and was an enemy of both Iran and Al Qaeda. this war insults our American tradition that every nation (starting with our own, in 1776) has the right to choose its own government, a tradition which has made us a beacon for freedom. We do not bully small nations. We justly act when strong nations – Nazi German, the USSR and Iraq in 1991 for examples – invade weaker ones.

Yes, al Qaeda earned our wrath on 9/11. Iraq, though, had nothing to do with 9/11,* yet we spill our soldier’s blood and rain terror in Iraq. Terror? Consider: our war (not our troops, but our war) has killed over 87,000 Iraqi civilians,* meaning that, per capital, it has killed more Iraqi civilians every week for 5 years than we lost on 9/11. * Whether you call that “shock and awe” or terrorism, it is unworthy of America.This doesn’t diminish the valor of our men and women. They have properly done their duty to follow the orders of the government we elected. But if we support freedom, if we support America’s principles, we will now do our duty and choose a government that will end this war without pursuing a “victory” which could further disgrace us by killing or cowing those Iraqis who don’t support the government George Bush or John McCain* impose.On November 4, please vote to save our lives, our treasure and our sacred honor by demanding an end to this immoral war.

* You can check these facts. See the “Sources and Calculations” page in the comments book (see below)

*”over 30,000 american wounded”: see . the names on the wall are only of the dead, but their numbers match the official ones.
*”against the will of its people”: see reporting several polls over a long time for the BBC, ABC and other. This March’s, for example, showed 72% of all Iraqis (including Kurds) oppose continued occupation and 61% think our forces make their country less secure.

*”smaller than California”: See CIA Fact Book (you can google it) The CIA estimates Iraq’s present population at 28,221,180. California’s in 2000 was over33,000,000 and has grown since.
*”didn’t attack us”: See The 9/11 Commission, at “A Pentagon Study of 600,000 Iraqi Documents Finds No Link Between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.”

President Bush also acknowledged this:

“Q What did Iraq have to do with that?

THE PRESIDENT: What did Iraq have to do with what?

Q The attack on the World Trade Center?

THE PRESIDENT: Nothing except for it’ part of —and nobody has ever suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack. Iraq was a—the lesson of September the 11th is, take threats before they fully materialize, Ken. Nobody has even suggested that the attacks of September the 11th were ordered by Iraq.”

*”starting with our own,in 1776”: see the Declaration of Independence
*”We were so menaced on 9/11 but not by Iraq.” See “didn’t attack us”, above
*Over 87,000 Iraqi civilians”: See This is a very conservative number. Most estimates are much higher, but does not do estimates at all. It only counts verifiable violent deaths of noncombatants that are reported in the press or official reports, and cross checks those.
*”per capita, our war has killed more Iraqi civilians every week for five years than we lost on 9/11.” Here’s the calculation: On the five-year anniversary of our attack, March 20, 2008, the numbers were: The U.S. population was 301,139,947 (source CIA factbook). 2998 people (including military but not the terrorists) died in the 9/11 attacks (source Wikipedia), or .000996% of our population.Iraq’s population was 27,499,638 (source CIA factbook). (Those population numbers have grown slightly since then, in both countries). At that time, iraqbodycount had counted 81,874 Iraqi civilians killed. that’s .2977% of their population. Divide that by 5 years and again by 52 weeks per year and you bet .001145%, a greater per capita loss each week that we suffered on 9/11. Since March 18, over 5,000 more civilians have been killed, so if you repeat the math using today’s numbers you’ll find we have now inflicted a 9/11 a week for nearly 5 and a half year.
*”victory…John McCain”: See where Senator McCain clarifies his “100 years” in Iraq statements to the effect that he would be in favor of continuing to occupy Iraq that long, though he does not favor 100 years of American losses. See also Senator McCain’s web site,
*”our lives, our treasure and our sacred honor”: See the Declaration of Independence.

Michelle has been typing up people’s handwritten comments to the War Dead Project, and adding them to the blog. Check it out.