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E Pluribus Unum

It means "From Many, One" or as I like to put it: "We're all in this thing together."

Last Build Date: Fri, 25 Jul 2008 09:29:38 -0600

Copyright: Copyright 2008

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Who Are These One Percenters?

Sun, 20 Jul 2008 15:00:11 -0600

Rasmussen Reports

Forty-two percent (42%) of Americans say that if Israel launches an attack against Iran, the United States should help Israel. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 46% believe the United States should do nothing while just 1% believe the U.S. should help Iran.
I have a feeling, based on nothing more than my own silly notions, that the one-percent is made up of half ethnic Iranians and the other half are people that have actually read and understand our international obligations under the UN Charter to come to the aid of member nations who are victims of an otherwise unprovoked attacked by a rogue nation acting outside of the the rule of law.

I'm not saying what we should do, although even if we just stand by and watch Israel do everybody else's dirty work when it comes to Iran's nuclear aspirational goals, it's certain that we could be counted on to veto any interference by the UN against our closest Middle Eastern ally.

However, it's interesting that less than one percent of Americans even care what the UN obligates us to do.

Cults Of Wingnuts

Sun, 20 Jul 2008 01:35:13 -0600

I've had my fair share of run-ins with wingnuts, but I was reminded of one in particular while reading Daniel De Groot's rendition of the counter-conference Malkin and company were holding to bolster their lagging self-confidence in the shadow of Netroots Nation in Austin. I was physically accosted and called a commie for supporting Reagan. Anyone really want to make the case that conservativism is anything more than a set of shallow authoritarian personality cults to rationalize socially destructive behaviour? All they have is Reagan. And only their posthumous fictional version of him to boot. The one in office pissed them off by making nuclear arms reduction agreements with the Soviets. I remember the Reykjavik conference, the one Reagan ended up walking out on, leaving most of us who were against wasting more money on more missiles and more nukes slapping our skulls and wondering how a geriatric moron could ever become president. (Some things never change.) They had a special kind of lapel bling going around then that had both the Soviet and American flags crossed, and I got a hold of some as well as some stickers with both flags together. I was in law school at the time, and involved in running the Cleveland National Model United Nations Conference. See boys and girls, way back when before the scary Muslamonazis threatened our very existence with dime-store box cutters, there was this guy named Gorbechev who had at his disposal thousands of nuke-u-ler missiles aimed at every square mile of this land-o-plenty on hair trigger release. And what did the great Saint Ronny Ray-gun do about this monstrous threat? He sat down and held face-to-face talks with him so we wouldn't soot our missiles at them if they didn't shoot theirs at us -- and maybe they thought they might get rid of some of them since they promised not to use them anyway. President Ronald Reagan and Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev entered into an unprecedented dialogue regarding their desire to eliminate their countries' nuclear weapons. "It would be fine with me if we eliminated all nuclear weapons," Reagan said. Gorbachev replied, "We can do that." That was the theory, the "aspirational goal horizon" if you will. Of course Saint Ronny thought the best way to get an agreement for fewer missiles was to build more. The usual counter-intuitive wingnut nonsense. But the idea that the two leaders would talk face-to-face, that Reagan would meet with the head of what he labeled the "Evil Empire" was music to the ears of us lefties. Together they worked to keep the peace, just as the logo symbolized with each flag's "pole" merged into the other, neither on top. Neither dominating the other. So I was wearing one of these pins with both superpowers' flags, using it as a tie-tac actually, and handing out the stickers to anyone in our lobby who might be interested in the Model UN conference. Then this huge guy came by to rain on my parade, calling me pinko scum and assorted other nasty things having to do with my heritage and politics because he saw the USSR flag. I asked him if he knew what the logo symbolized, tried to explain what it was about, but he literally stuck his chest in my face, hollering and refusing to let me get a word in edgewise about his hero approving the pin, that it came from out own State Department. He didn't care. He just "saw red," and chest-thumped me a couple of times, trying to get me to throw the first punch -- and I was tempted despite his six inch reach advantage. I walked away to the taunts of liberals all being cowards and his buddies led him out of the lobby. This bully was a college grad. I know that since you have to be "educated" before accepted to law schoolm and he was indeed a fellow student. When it came flag pins and talking with our rivals he had no desire to be further educated. His mind long since closed. No, you'll never hear from me how there's more to conservatism than belonging to a tribal culture who spit on the very idea tha[...]

How I Happened to Meet Howard Dean

Sat, 19 Jul 2008 20:47:21 -0600

My son is a huge fan of Hillary Clinton and took it pretty hard when she lost to Barack Obama. He's even threatened to vote for John McCain. Well, Saturday the DNC and Howard Dean brought their cross-country "Register for Change" bus tour to Baton Rouge. So we attended.

On the way there Miss Julie had an idea.

"Wouldn't it be cool if you got Howard Dean to make a personal appeal to Michael to vote for Barack Obama?" I laughed at the thought. But she had something there. Below is the video of what happened next:


I emailed Michael the video.

"How did you get Howard Dean to do this?" he shouted, laughing, on the phone 3 minutes later. "At first I thought it was some sort of promotion," -- imagine Dean making a series of videos naming every single name in the book like those "personalized" coffee cups and key chains you see in souvenir shops -- "but then I heard your voice."

"So," I say, "is that enough or what? You gonna vote for Obama now?"

"I'm still thinking about it, but I'm getting closer. This helps."

There's still hope.

P.S. First Rove, now Dean. Who's got the mojo, baby?

Time Horizons?

Sat, 19 Jul 2008 02:42:33 -0600

Yeah, I know it sounds either like a neo-con version of the Rocky Horror Picture Show's Time Warp, or there has been a really big shoe drop with the PrezNitWit accepting even the notion of the word "time" to be associated in any way with his Iraq War final solution.

Never fear my pretties. The administration indeed keeps faithful to it's roots in Orwellian double-speak by "agreeing" to sometime down the road, maybe, talking about negotiating an agreement in a statement so vague and meaningless it's announcement can only have one possible effect -- put an annoying speed bump in Barack Obama's triumphant sprint to the White House.

The statement, if you can call it that since usually those imply some sort of declarative sentence, speaks of inclusion of a "general time horizon for meeting aspirational goals."

Aspirational goals. Say that with me one more time.

Go ahead. No one's listening.

Aspirational goals. Not just goals. You know, things that you aspire to, but Aspirational goals.

After all these years of Bush Speak, I still marvel that they can confound and confuse me again and again. Not over what they are trying to sell us, which is the usual bar-b-qued defecation, but that I still can't figure out whether I should be resentful they treat us like children or horrified they are working at the intellectual level of a second grader.

Sometime, almost out of sight down on that horizon somewhere, maybe, hopefully, if we're all good boys and girls and click our heels together they might actually agree that the Iraqis will stand up so we can stand the fuck down. Useless bureaucratic, power-mad morons.

If we haven't kicked enough ass over there by now so that the guys we've been training for five frickin' years can at least handle the mop-up operation, they're hopeless, and so are we.

The Third Way

Fri, 18 Jul 2008 16:25:17 -0600

Dissatisfaction with John McCain among the GOP faithful is legion, and there is steadfast resentment among the netroots over Obama's about-face on FISA, leaving many ready to explore a third-party option.

Third Party Watch (via) notes that a Rueters poll indicating a 7 point lead by Obama over McCain at this point, when Ralph Nader and Bob Barr are added to the mix, Obama's lead jumps to 10 points, nearly all of the defectors to the protest candidates coming from McCain supporters.

The big winner is the Green Party, sort of. For the first time since 1980 (also via), the Marxist-Leninist Workers World Party is not fielding a presidential candidate, but has endorsed the Green's Girl, Cynthia McKinney.

I watched C-SPAN last Sunday when they replayed an interview with Libertarian candidate Bob Barr* and covered the acceptance speeches by the Green Party vice-presidential candidate and presidential nominee McKinney. Barr is hoping to cash in on the Ron Paul Blimpies phenomenon. The Greens were quoting Kanye West**.

*Note to Bob Barr: Ayn Rand wrote fiction, not text books. (Anyone who cites Atlas Shrugged as the guiding influence on their political philosophy loses every ounce of credibility in my opinion.)

**Note to Cynthia McKinney: Double that when it comes to rappers, or any musicians not named Bob Dylan.

Taking Matters Into Our Hands

Fri, 18 Jul 2008 03:46:03 -0600

I have my doubts about this nation after reading a couple of seemingly unconnected stories that probably wouldn't have been written if we had a functional federal government. I have no doubt whatsoever that if a McCain administration is sworn in next January, all hope for justice in this country is lost. I'm not too sure an Obama administration will have the cojones to do the right thing either, even if John Edwards is appointed Attorney General -- but that would be a good start. I absolutely agree with John Cole's observation that Congress is a "Joke." Their decision to put on a useless "charade" by holding impeachment hearings (or should that read, "impeachment" ) while electing not to vote on any findings they may make is the epitome of "farce." That so many spineless men and women could be gathered together, all sworn to uphold the Constitution they so casually disregard on a daily basis, is simply astounding. No wonder they have such a pathetic and historically low approval rating. To put it in perspective, with Congress at 14% the Worst President Ever is twice as popular as Congress -- with good reason. They are Teh Suck! It's embarrassing enough that if I were Dennis Kucinich, the Ohio Congressman who submitted the Articles of Impeachment against President Bush, I would withdraw them and go on a spree of of the most disruptive procedural nonsense to ever hit a legislative body since the Albanian U.N. delegation would read the complete text of "new" speeches by their fearless leader, Enver Hoxha, into the record of the General Assembly three full years after the dictator had died -- even though they didn't tell anyone. Of course, a useless protest is simply useless, and America really doesn't care much about what Kucinich does, and expects the bizarre from him. (When the wacko right goes off the deep end, they get a good-looking guy like Rick Santorum to do it, not some twerp like Dennis the Menace, but that's another story.) Since the the White House still is a sanctuary for felons and Congress has abdicated it's moral and legal authority, as long as we wish to stay within the system we as citizens have no other recourse than the (other) last bastion against tyranny -- the courts. Here in Ohio, the best efforts of one of our Representatives to call the administration into account having been thwarted, again, we're turning to the judiciary, with Karl Rove at the top of the list of people to indict. With cooperation from the Ohio Attorney General and John Conyer's (useless) Judiciary Committee, Cliff Arnebeck, lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the case of King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell, is proceeding with a suit and commencing "targeted discovery" to prove that the 2004 election was stolen, and they're looking for heads to role as the Ohio Attorney General took the leash off the litigators. One of the more delightful and interesting quotes comes from Arnebeck, concerning what he expects to discover as the stay is lifted: "[W]e anticipate Mr. Rove will be identified as having engaged in a corrupt, ongoing pattern of corrupt activities specifically affecting the situation here in Ohio"... [snip] Arnebeck said that the Attorney General's office said they were ready to begin the investigation of the 2004 presidential election in Ohio, and Arnebeck said he submitted a great deal of material to them, including "Bob's [Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman's] book on what happened in Ohio, documentation of the exit poll discrepancy, [and] John Conyers' report to the Congress which was the factual basis for the challenge to the electoral votes of the Ohio vote in January of 2005."About a month later, the Attorney General's office contacted Arnebeck and asked him, "Who do you want to indict?"Arnebeck explained that the AG's "concept of looking at this from a criminal standpoint was not to convene a grand jury and c[...]

The Joke Is On Us

Fri, 18 Jul 2008 02:40:07 -0600

Somehow you just know there's a monumental disconnect (and far too many hypersensitive folks out there) when the predominant meme throughout the media and blogosphere the last several days is the nature of satire.
How far can we go in mocking Obama?  Can we get away with mocking McCain more brutally or is he just running a clownish campaign?  Can we explain why McCain and Bush just aren't funny when they try (too hard, too often), but they offer a goldmine of comic material?  As Brad and Gavin try to document, the wingnuttosphere has been a study of parody itself lately.

Here's the deal folks.  McCain is a bumbling buffoon who wants to succeed a complete idiot.  It's not that we aren't allowed to make fun of Obama.  It's that he's not an asshole. 

If a mentally disabled person acted the way the leaders of the GOP do, it would be tasteless to make fun of them.  But since they act like "tards," yet insist they aren't and likewise are not cynically treating the American public like they're mentally challenged, all bets are off.

That said, I'll leave you with one I heard bar-tending the other night.  Warning: this is tasteless, includes a casual racist attitude and all sorts of other bad stuff, but I'm sharing anyway.  One of my customers said the economy is so badly "nigger-rigged," Obama is probably the only one who can fix it.

I told him to take it back, that he knew better, but even the black guy with him giggled, then groaned.

Humor is in the ear of the beholder, and so much of it depends on knowing the intent (if possible) of the person telling the so-called joke.  The joke-teller must also have a keen appreciation for audience sensibilities.  One thing that helps is not caring. 

Politicians care a great deal how they are perceived.  A comic is not so restrained, which is why George Carlin could and Carlos Mencia still does walk up to that line and dance across it.  Their attitude is of course, "screw 'em if they can't take a joke."  Their audience knows that, expects it, and everyone knows that there's room enough for everyone to be offended.

Odds & Sods #59: Blowin' in the Wind Edition

Thu, 17 Jul 2008 13:12:44 -0600

Half Wit

Mon, 14 Jul 2008 20:58:49 -0600

It’s hard to know what was in the head of the illustrator who drew Barack Obama as a sly-looking Muslim terrorist (with Osama bin Laden’s visage hung over the mantle) and Michelle Obama as a gun-toting, camo-clad, fist-bumping, smirking radical with the American flag roasting in the fireplace – artists are strange people – but The New Yorker’s editors must have known that to be satire, it must expose ludicrousness.

American Heritage Dictionary - sat·ire (sāt'īr') n.
1. a A literary work in which human vice or folly is attacked through irony, derision, or wit.
b The branch of literature constituting such works. See Synonyms at caricature.
2. Irony, sarcasm, or caustic wit used to attack or expose folly, vice, or stupidity.

Or, as BagNews Notes puts it more succinctly:

“…satire isn't satire if it has to be labeled as such.”

New Yorker editor David Remnick reveals his understanding of the genre:

What I think it does is hold up a mirror to the prejudice and dark imaginings about Barack Obama's — both Obamas' — past, and their politics. I can't speak for anyone else's interpretations, all I can say is that it combines a number of images that have been propagated, not by everyone on the right but by some, about Obama's supposed "lack of patriotism" or his being "soft on terrorism" or the idiotic notion that somehow Michelle Obama is the second coming of the Weathermen or most violent Black Panthers. That somehow all this is going to come to the Oval Office.

The idea that we would publish a cover saying these things literally, I think, is just not in the vocabulary of what we do and who we are...

It is now, dipshit. How do you suppose that the 12% of knuckle-dragging American cretins who believe that Obama is a practicing Muslim and the prominent neoconservative bedwetters who insist that Obama was a practicing Muslim will get the satire? And what about the many Americans who are simply oblivious to the entire story? For them, these smears will not be “misinterpreted or taken out of context,” because you didn’t provide any context at all, you just repeated the smears.

Ohhhh, I get it. It’s not about Obama and the right-wing smear machine at all. It’s about the context-free, valueless “journalism” practiced by you and your colleagues in the establishment press. Too clever Mr. Remnick…by about half.

UPDATE: Speaking of knuckle-draggers, here's how G Gordon Liddy appreciated the "satire" on air: "Yeah, I don't suppose you've, by any chance, have seen the cover of the latest issue of The New Yorker magazine, which is, you know, a huge thing. It's got Obama in his Muslim dress with a turban, and he's there with his wife. His wife has a "mad at the world" afro, circa 1968, she -- she's got bandoliers and an assault weapon, and there in their fireplace is burning the American flag. The New Yorker finally got it right."

Heckuva job, Remmy.

[Cross-posted at Dispassionate Liberal]

New Yorker Obama Cover: “A Satire of a Misperception?” (UPDATED)

Mon, 14 Jul 2008 20:15:28 -0600

Yeah, you heard that right: “a satire of a misperception.” I heard someone this evening give that pretty nuanced explanation of the (now infamous) political cartoon on the cover of this week's New Yorker magazine. And I "get" it -- the cartoon is clever, smart and biting.

But for the 30% of Americans who tell pollsters that they believe that Obama is an angry, unpatriotic, secret black Panther Muslim terrorist sympathizer, it's quite a bit more straightforward: it simply confirms their belief that he's just no good.

After all, if even his friends are talking about it, there must be some truth to it.

Lastly, of course, it also confirms the view of the traditional media that Obama has a fundamental problem with white working class Americans. Or, as Stephen Colbert is wont to say after he shows (yet again) the video of Rev. Wright: "Why won't this story die?"

Speaking of Stephen Colbert, he is also a work of art that satirizes the misperceptions of the moonbat-class. As is Dave Chapelle (but not, when you get right down to it, Don Imus). Should we be unhappy with them as well? I can tell you that I heard Chapelle once say that he quit television because he realized much of his audience didn't get the nuance and was simply laughing at his caricatures of black people. He felt that he was somehow contributing to their ignorance. Colbert, too, has had some awkward moments with his audience but he hung in there and now it's pretty clear what the joke is all about when he goes on the air every night -- and that doesn't make his satire any less biting or on-point.

But the bottom line is this: there's a lot more at stake in the case of Obama. We've been through this in the last two election cycles and we'd like to avoid this kind of nonsense.

UPDATE: Then again, maybe I'm taking this personally and it's just business. Gary Kamiya has a point.

As bad as things are today...

Mon, 14 Jul 2008 13:23:21 -0600

...some day I'll look back on these times and will be unable to remember them.

Bush Is So Not Funny

Fri, 11 Jul 2008 14:05:17 -0600

Not to be outdone by the wisecracking McJokester McCain and his McReference to killing all Iranians via lethal injection of Marlboros, Still President Bush is again indulging in his morbid brand of humor upon leaving the G8 summit.

"Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter." He then punched the air while grinning widely, as the rest of those present including Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy looked on in shock.

Where's the Daily Show when you need them? Oh, right here, mocking Bush's decision not to do a damn thing about the environment.
I can understand that. They've got six months left; why would they want to screw up a perfect score of zero for 3,726 in siding with citizens over corporate buddies? That would just be stupid.

Look, George Bush knows his baseball. So, he knows that when you've got this kind of a streak going, you don't make any changes to your routine.

They may be on vacation, but they still have access to their blog, thank goodness.

Not Recommended Reading

Fri, 11 Jul 2008 12:58:10 -0600

Some time ago I made the mistake of signing up for the Wingnut newsletter from Human Events, mainly to keep track of what crap Ann Coultergeist was spewing and to document the fall of her book prices to a buck.  Long since relegated to my junk mail spam filters, I checked it out today and saw Pat Buchanan's latest column being promoted. There's always been something peculiar about dear old Pat's xenophobic world-view, and when he's doing his thing live as a regular at MSNBC, he can appear quite rational, albeit bellicose if you're not paying attention.  But in print, he's really something to behold. Today, Buchanan makes the case that Britain and Poland were responsible for the horrors of World War II and the Soviet gulags.  No really: On March 31, 1939, Britain gave a blank check to Poland in its dispute with Germany over Danzig, a town of 350,000 Germans. Should war come, Britain would fight on Poland's side. Poland refused to negotiate, Adolf Hitler attacked, and Britain declared war. After six years, the British Empire collapsed. Germany was burnt to ashes. Poland entered the slave quarters of Joseph Stalin's empire. Really Pat?  Are you really blaming Poland for WWII? Pat's trying to make the case that we've given a similar "blank check" to Israel!  His proof?  They blew up a suspected nuclear facility in Syria last year and practiced come military exercises that could be interpreted as a dry run on Iran's nuke sites.  From this he concludes in a feat of illogical paranoia only the truly self-absorbed could manage that we would defend Israel from becoming a victim of a war they started themselves with or without our approval. I know . . . crazy.  The problem is, that pretty close to reality. Pat's worried that Israel might suck us into a war we don't want with Iran and that they need to be told not to start something we would have to finish.  Leave alone the fact that we don't have a mutual defense pact with Israel like the one that sucked Germany into Austria's war on Serbia which precipitated WW One, or made the specific commitments Britain gave Poland just prior to the beginning to WWII -- given as a deterrent that unfortunately failed.  The only recent US official who said an attack on Israel would be met with a devastating US response was candidate Hillary Clinton, and what Pat's considering is just the reverse, an attack by Israel on Iran just like the one's it made on Syria last year and Iraq over a decade ago. And of course Buchanan presumes that unlike the previous surgical strikes that did not bring about a regional conflagration, this one would. Sure, no doubt the white House green lighted Israel's moves against its neighbors in those prior incidents, and presumably would do so again.  And whether or not we approve of a move by Israel on Iran in the future, if they do it we'll be blamed.  That, and everybody knows Clinton was stating highly UN-official policy, yet accurately nonetheless. So my question to Pat is, what frickin' difference would it make if we publicly told the Israelis "in unequivocal terms that the United States opposes any Israeli pre-emptive strike on Iran, and will not assist but denounce any such attack."  They  don't necessarily have to listen to us, and we might be saying something completely different in private -- and no one will believe us anyway if the shit hits the fan.  Besides, we already set the precedent for "preventive" war when we conquered Iraq. Geez, half the administration is Jonesin' for another fight before they're thrown out of Washington.  Cheney and his minions make it clear they want to attack Iran sooner rather than later.&n[...]

One more word on Obama & FISA

Fri, 11 Jul 2008 11:00:25 -0600

From Kevin at American Street:

We are being robbed of our liberties. And Obama and McCain are equals in that theft. Both deserve to lose for their failure to defend the very essence of our country.

Well, yes, but … tomorrow is another day.

In other words liberty, and the fight for it, is an ongoing process. Soon, the ACLU will sue to overturn the legislation and it will wind it’s way through the courts. Maybe we’ll luck out and the SCOTUS will strike it down. Stranger things have happened — even with this version of the court.

Better yet: Obama will (hopefully) win and the next Congress may have an opportunity to reverse the legislation as well.

Then there’s the prospect of Atty Gen. Edwards prosecuting every single one of the telcos on criminal charges.

So it’s never “over.”

One thing for sure: FIRST, you need to win the freaking election, or most of what I just said is flushed down the toilet.