Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hear you ask, "Falconer, what does the crew of the Starship Enterprise have to be thankful for?"

If they're wearing gold or blue, a whole lot.

If they've got red shirts on, not so much, unless they've got an amusing accent or they're pretty.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Upper Class Scion Makes Good

This is a story of one man's struggle to overcome a system that was keeping him down. He only had a four-year college education and a bachelor's degree in science from a small private college in the centre of Kentucky. They said he couldn't work in NOAA. He proved them wrong.

In one recent example, Todd Harding -- a 30-year-old political appointee at the Energy Department -- applied for and won a post this month at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. There, he told colleagues in a Nov. 12 e-mail, he will work on "space-based science using satellites for geostationary and meteorological data." Harding earned a bachelor's degree in government from Kentucky's Centre College, where he also chaired the Kentucky Federation of College Republicans.

That's from a Washington Post article on "burrowing," which I learned about at Pharyngula.

I believe that I was acquainted with Todd Harding while I was at Centre. I think I can recall what he looks like. We didn't interact much, of course; our courses were completely different. But it looks like he was able to schmooze his position in College Republicans into a post that may prove troublesome for Obama.

I'm afraid I am very distressed over this. It can be good to recognize someone in government -- "Hey! It's that guy! I remember a vaguely embarrassing incident in which he was peripherally involved! ... Get me the newspaper's number!" -- but I didn't think anyone I knew at Centre would have gotten into a position that could potentially harm the country in even the slightest way.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Son of Them What Brung Ya

Okay, Obama, Wes Clark is a retired general. He worked tirelessly on your behalf during the general campaign. He was skeptical of the war in Iraq for a very long time, although I'm not sure if he initially supported it or not.

Jim Jones, on the other hand, no, not that Jim Jones, General James Jones, supported John McCain. I'm not sure of his position on Iraq.

And who is it rumor has it is your pick for cabinet? Jim Jones!

Was Wes Clark busy or something? Did he not return your calls? What?

Seriously, Wes Clark is like the Rodney Dangerfield of Democratic retired service people: No respect at all.

Happier Times

I wonder if that desk is still there.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Friday, November 21, 2008

Heads Exploding

Via the incomparable Bob Somerby, here's David Broder, and it is David this time, as quoted by Chris Matthews on MSNBC, regarding Hillary as Secretary of State:

What Obama needs in the person running the State Department is a diplomat who will carry out his foreign policy. He does not need someone who will tell him how to approach the world or be his mentor in international relations. One of the principal reasons he was elected was that, relying on his instincts, he came to the correct conclusion that war in Iraq was not in American interest. He was more right about that than most of us in Washington, including Hillary Clinton.

Emphasis mine.

Just a short point about that second bold passage, and then on to the meat of the first.

So Obama decided, on his own, that war in Iraq is not in our best interests. That makes me qualified to be a better president than most. Hell, I'd be a better president than Obama because I don't think it's in our best interests to rattle our sabers at Iran until they do something preemptive, or to transfer our soldiers from Iraq to Afghanistan, both of which Obama is either implying he'll do or outright stating we ought to do. In short, being right on Iraq is not, IMO, sole qualification and justification for being President; we have to consider everything else. But the AUMF vote has been made the Golden Rule of who's fit to be President, or even a decent person, and who isn't.

All right. Deep breath.

I kind of see David Broder's point. Obama doesn't need Hillary Clinton to advise him on foreign policy. After all, that's one of the reasons he picked Joe Biden as VP: to cover what could be perceived as a weakness on foreign policy. So he doesn't need Hillary telling him about the world as well as Joe.

And what ego! Presuming to tell the President about foreign policy! Why, you'd almost think that's what the Secretary of State is for! But we were mistaken, of course. Obama doesn't need advice or consent, because he is all-knowing! He's Black Jesus! It must take ego to presume to tell Him what to do. After all, he hasn't even completed his first term as Illinois Senator! And then he won the Presidency! We are dealing with an intellect, quite clearly, vast and cool. What can Hillary, who after all was merely First Lady for eight years, and the junior Senator from New York for eight after that, possibly have to tell Black Jesus? He will wrestle with the problems of the world and break them like twigs!

ABOVE: Black Jesus, only, you know, kind of Caucasian, wrestling with the problems of the world.

Give Someone An Excuse

And they'll take it.

They say Obama is considering Dennis Ross for Special Envoy to Iran. According to that link, Ross has spent the past I don't know how many years lobbying Washington for Israel. He's currently backing a paper on "Iranian Nuclear Development" that's being billed as bipartisan but was in fact written by a couple of people who were instrumental in ginning up war with Iraq: Michael Makovsky (in the Pentagon) and Michael Rubin (with Don Rumsfeld). Ross has also been implicated in sabotaging our previous talks with Iran at Camp David II and the 2000 talks in Geneva.

If we want to soothe relations with Iran, appointing an Israel-flogging lobbyist who obviously doesn't want peace in the Middle East is not the way to go about it.

I can understand Obama having to walk big and wave the stick around during the elections; Iran has been a perennial bugbear and they still attacked him with lies about "no preconditions."

But is it wise to appoint someone who's looking for a fight as a special envoy to a country with whom our relations are strained? Isn't that like sending pugnacious emails to someone you've had lots of arguments with recently?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Be Kind; Unwind!

Because the video store doesn't like it when you return your videos all wound up. They'll charge you $5 to destress that copy of Mary Poppins you just handed them.

So sit 'em all down before you take 'em back and let 'em watch this:

Clinton's Big Fault Is He Didn't Fail Upwards

Paul Krugman, via Mom:

Everywhere you look, there’s stuff about Bill Clinton’s donors and all that, often with the implication that there must inherently be something dirty going on, because, well, just because.

But I guess that’s just the way things are. After all, do you remember all the grief President Bush got over his family’s questionable business ties?

Neither do I.

Of course there wasn't any grief. Don't you know Monica changed everything?

(There's also the Whitewater non-issue; a crummy land deal in which the Clintons lost money was part of the national discourse for a couple years, and has ever since irrevocably stained Bill's record. I guess the story here is mostly that Clinton somehow didn't profit from losing all that money, while W made profiting from losing money his career, and thrived at it.)

Holder For Attorney General

Go read Glenn Greenwald if you've got 20 minutes or so.

For those who don't care to click through: Eric Holder has publicly condemned Gitmo, rendition, torture, and indefinite detention; he has said "we let fear take precedence over the rule of law," which is a very good thing to say, I think.

Back in 2002, Holder argued that "given the way in which they ["War on Terror" detainees] have conducted themselves, however, that they are not, in fact, people entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention." Then, after the 2006 Supreme Court ruling that stated the detainees had to be considered eligible under the Geneva Convention and treated accordingly, he said "it was disgraceful that the Supreme Court 'had to order the president to treat detainees in accord with the Geneva Convention.'" So which is it, Eric? Eligible or not?

Eric Holder's hard on marijuana and a staunch supporter of mandatory sentencing. Glenn says it's harder to be harsher on drug offenses than Joe Biden, and Joe's going to be Vice President. He may also have been involved in extraditing Elian Gonzalez.

So, maybe he's going to close Gitmo and stop torturing. If we can sort out whether he thinks our detainees are covered by the Geneva Convention first, maybe we ought to focus on his other problems after we've paid some attention to restoring our good name.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Return of Them What Brung Ya

Via Lambert at Corrente, who had it from Emptywheel at Firedoglake, I see that Greg Craig has been named White House Counsel. Mr. Craig is "a Washington lawyer who advises the Obama campaign."

Mr. Craig supported Obama's vote for warrantless wiretapping by saying this:

But he concluded that with FISA expiring, that it was better to get a compromise than letting the law expire.

But FISA was not expiring. The Protect America Act was expiring. That was what we had to rush through before Congress recessed, so W could go on presidentin' without check or balance.

So, either Mr. Craig a) confused PAA with FISA; or b) lied.

Which do you prefer for White House Counsel, a crappy $450/hr. lawyer or a mendacious $450/hr. lawyer?

As Liss at Shakesville has said [length and blub warning], we can't make a whole lot of progress if we're stuck in the primary. I'm going to make an effort to look forward. Part of that includes criticizing and applauding Obama's appointments. I don't trust anybody not to abuse their power, and I want to strip the Imperial Presidency of the powers it has assumed against the Constitution. The appointment of Mr. Craig doesn't seem to be a step in that direction.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


George W. Bush poses with the Men's and Women's Track Teams of Arizona U.

And they're all flashing an obscene hand gesture. I'd link to its entry on Urban Dictionary, but all the euphemisms for it almost made me reacquainted with breakfast.

For those who are blissfully ignorant, prepare to eat of the apple. It is called the Shocker and it is a sexual gesture aimed at one of the genders. It is a favorite of frat boys who want to "get crap past the radar," like all those boys on my high school's soccer teams who posed for the yearbook with one particular finger on the ball.

And these guys got W. to do it. I don't know whether to laugh or to cry.

Bad national disgrace, or worst national disgrace? as Stephen Colbert might ask.

Photo stolen from Pandagon.

In Which I Go On A Bit

I just found this column from David John Broder from the end of January, 2007.

Because behind the curve is what we do here at the Falcon's Gyre.

So anyway, we all know David John Broder has an agenda, but he's talking up Obama like he's Black Jesus, gonna end all our troubles, and you know who's the source of all of our troubles? Hippies. Protesters. Equal Rights marchers. You know, the cast of Hair.

In short, the parents of Generation X, of which I think myself part of the trailing edge. My parents.

They just won't let go of the issues of their youth, Broder says, all concerned for the mental well being of people his age. Don't we know by now that the Vietnam War is over? That Bob Dylan is a has-been? These things don't matter to America anymore!

Of particular gall is this part of the first page:

Modern presidential campaigns are essentially character tests, and for 20 years or longer the cultural and political divides of the 60s served as presumed signposts to a candidate’s character. Did he protest the war, trip to Hendrix, march in solidarity with women? Or enroll in R.O.T.C., rush a fraternity, join a church? As a young man, Mr. Obama did not have to make many of those choices, and he now has an opportunity to define himself on his own terms and not be instantly caricatured based on personal decisions he made four decades ago.

No, I guess Obama didn't have to make many of those choices. Of course, all of the choices he didn't have to make are those that Broder positions on the Hippie side of the equation: protest the (Vietnam) war, take drugs at Woodstock, march for equal rights. Those things, Broder would have us believe, are over and done with. Gone.

Except they aren't. We're still protesting wars, only these are in the hills of Iraq instead of the jungles of Nam. Drugs are still a problem, and you can still buy Hendrix albums (so you could potentially trip out to Hendrix, a weak point, I will grant you). Do you honestly think women were the only people marching in the 60s? There were a couple other marches, I seem to recall, about skin color or something.

And those on the Square side of the equation are still with us. I knew members of ROTC in college. I knew frat boys. Hell, I went to a couple frat parties but I soon learned that they liked their music turned up to 20 and their houses were too small for that, so I stopped going. Not to mention it was all just an excuse to get drunk. Oh, and churches are still there.

Obama is a member of a church. That's a choice he made. He did not join ROTC. That's a choice he made. As far as I know, he did not rush a fraternity. That's a choice he made. Were there no war protests in the 80s? Were there no drug-addled rock concerts? Were there no marches for equality? What, not even for gays and lesbians, transgendered individuals and fellow travelers? In the midst of AIDS? None?

So all of these choices that Broder says Obama did not have to make seem to position Obama in the Square column, and not in the Hippie column. Just the sort of person who's going to solve the problems of the 60s by ignoring them, right?

Broder does, of course, ignore that the 70s and the 80s -- Obama's adolescence and young adulthood -- had their own problems. Vietnam was not confined to the 60s. Nixon and Watergate. Oil troubles. Jimmy Carter's rabbit run-in, which Pat Oliphant seems to have decided defined the Carter administration. Oh, and the hostage crisis.

David John Broder seems to be suggesting that Obama has no pet issues to bring to Washington, which is swamped with the fights of the 60s. Of course, this column is almost 2 whole years old, and Obama is on his way to the White House. But I don't believe that the fights of the 60s are done with yet, even though we've elected a mixed-race president. And I don't believe Obama has no pet issues. This was obviously a great step in the right direction, but it doesn't mean that my parents have to shut up now.

Of course, it would make David John Broder's job a lot easier if we all did.

EDIT: I am informed by a reliable source in comments that this column is by John Broder, not David Broder. That's what I get for going off half-cocked, I suppose. Sorry for the error.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Africa? What Continent Is That On?

So I'm sure by now you've all heard that Sarah Palin didn't know Africa was a continent blah blah blah.

Well, now Martin Eisenstadt has come forward and admitted that he was Fox News' anonymous source on that.

But Wait! yells the entire Intarwebs. Martin Eisenstadt, you luscious chunk of manliness, you're all lies! And we know this because, as yummy as you are, there is one man against whom you have no chance, and that man is William K. Wolfrum! He has your number!

And he also has the clarity of insight to remind us that even though Martin Eisenstadt is a hoax, that does not invalidate the whole Africagate flap.

So, to sum up, just because someone claims responsibility for something, and later turns out to be a fraud, does not mean the thing he's claiming responsibility for is a fraud.

I reserve judgment on Africagate. It's too pat, too much of a blonde joke for me to accept at face value. Important, if true; aggravating, if false. Important, because it would show how ill-prepared Palin was. Aggravating, because it is yet another example of "Pin the Blame on the Jackass!" that the McCain camp has been playing for the last week, in some sort of effort to come out of this election smelling like roses.

It is a poor workman blames his tools. Likewise, it is a poor adult who shoves his or her colleagues out in front of an oncoming blame storm.

In Which I Am All, Like, Queen Victoria

That is to say, not amused.

New York Times Special Edition Video News Release - Nov. 12, 2008 from H Schweppes on Vimeo.

Except that it isn't over and Bush hasn't been convicted and education still isn't free and hand me a tissue I think I may cry.

So who printed that? It's obviously false and full of practical jokes.

Oh, yes, playing with people's emotions like that: ha. ha. Stop it. You're killing me.

And this, the day after Veteran's Day. (Okay, yes, well, obviously not today, when I'm posting this, I mean the prank.)


(I will say, kudos to whomever it was who yelled out "Judith Miller!" to that blowhard from the actual Times. Good on yer!)

Via Echidne of the Snakes.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Them What Brung Ya

Ya gotta dance with 'em.

One of the people what brung Obama to the White House is named Robert Gibbs. He worked as a press secretary for several people in Congress, and served (briefly) as the same for John Kerry, before he ended up at a 527 group that was smearing Howard Dean in an effort to get Kerry nominated.

Well, this year he went to work for Obama. After bringing the smear magic that helped to destroy Hillary's image in the primary, Gibbs has now been named as Obama's first White House press secretary.

This is a man who has shown little compunction about smearing fellow Democrats. As soon as they became inconvenient, he's the one to slip in the knife. Is he going to keep this up after the inauguration? Will he serve as Obama's attack dog? Are Nan and Hal* safe from his slavering fangs?

I can't wait to find out!

*That's Pelosi and Reid to us mere mortals.

One Grandfather, and One Great-Uncle, May They Rest In Peace

Everyone's posting In Flander's Field today. I can't ever read it the same way since the Iraq War and the administration's arguments for it.

The first part is the same as it always has been:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

It's the last part that I now have trouble with:

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

It's not John McCrae's fault (although it always has been full of jingo), it's the fault of all the Bush toadies who argued that we couldn't abandon the Iraq War because too many people had been killed. Do you recall that? I can't help but remember it whenever I happen to read this poem. That was a self-serving argument that exploited all the pain and suffering that we exacerbated with a short-sighted, selfish invasion, and it has ruined for me what was otherwise a serviceable poem.

I suppose all the foregoing rant is moot, because I wasn't going to post Flander's Field today; I think that's well covered by the rest of the Internets.

I was going to post this all along:

Watch at YouTube. Except nothing visual happens, so I guess you can just press Play and go on with your other work.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Do You Agree With Gay Marriage Bans? has a web poll up -- Do You Agree With Gay Marriage Bans? -- and No is currently leading, 56-42 percent.

It's also showing the top comment by state. Presumably people from outside the USA who vote -- and I don't know if it bans you by region, because I'm inside the USA and it would let me through automatically -- can go jump in a lake (why don't you play a little solitaire to pass the time?).

So, currently, my state of TN is showing Yes, (we few, we asshole few!) but my home state of KY is showing No, and FL, where I've got close family, is also showing No.

Even California is showing No, and they just passed Prop. 8 banning gay marriage! What happened on Election Day, then? I guess all those "Yes" voters haven't wandered by recently.

Sometimes I despair of my country. Sometimes I'm very proud of it. Sometimes I think it's crazy.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Klan, Incorporated

Ku Klux Klan LLC?!!


They're incorporated?!

Man, do they have some big brass ones!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Smith/Jones '08

Are you unhappy with the current lineup of presidential candidates?

Do you think it comes down to a choice between an old aggressive thing and an aggressive old thing?

Are the official third-party choices not doing anything for you?

There is a solution:

Write in a candidate of your choice!

You can vote for anybody!

Just make sure to follow all the directions carefully!

This post won't make much sense unless you click through the link.