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»  May 31, 2008


Veep Thoughts: Over at Blue Oregon, Kari Chisolm's got a list of 50 picks for Obama's VP, and people keep piping up with names like former GOP Senator Lincoln Chaffee, Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE), and Senator Jim Webb (D-VA), who served in the Reagan administration's Defense Department.

Kari liked the Chaffee suggestion.

You know, that Lincoln Chaffee pick is a fascinating idea.
Why the hell are people fascinated with the idea of putting Republicans or former Republicans on a Democratic ticket? Do they really think the Democratic brand is so bankrupt that they can't persuade people to vote for a ticket made up of two actual Democrats? Why not just nominate Joe Lieberman again? He worked out well.

Or maybe that nice bipartisan Gordon Smith.

There are reasons people self-identify as Republicans. It's not because they believe in whatever amalgam of ideas the Democratic party has accreted to itself. People like Chaffee or Hagel could have switched to the Democratic party any time in their careers if they felt that their party wasn't the ideal place for them to be, just like Ben Nighthorse-Campbell, Jim Jeffords, or Wayne Morse. But they didn't. Instead, they continued to play along with the system. Scott McClellan at least had the threat of losing his job if he blew the whistle, but that's not the case for a senator. Sure, some of them have tried to gather a patina of independence to themselves, but one of those GOP "mavericks" is running against Barack Obama right now.

If Obama is serious about effecting "change," he's going to require some severe modifications to the current way of doing business, and that's going to take help from someone who isn't just going along to get along. He needs to wrench the wheel back from the hard right turn this administration (and the Bush 41 administration, and the Reagan administration) locked it into, and that's not going to happen with a VP who was happy with the previous system or is considerably more conservative than he is.


»  May 30, 2008


Suck On Joan of Arc:

In addition to National Suck On This Day, today is also the 577th anniversary of the day Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. I promise next year to get my annual barbecue re-instated. The image is of the Joan of Arc memorial to the soldiers of World War I in Coe Circle at NE 39th & Glisan here in Portland.



'Intelligence' Group Duped By Game...Again:

'Fallout 3' nuked Capitol

I wonder if Ron Wyden -- a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence -- will look into how much the US government is paying these idiots.

The SITE Intelligence Group said that the image, showing a ruined Capitol Building in Washington, was created by extremists as part of discussions about the feasibility of nuclear strikes against the US and Britain.

The images appeared in a video, called Nuclear Jihad: The Ultimate Terror, posted on two password-protected websites, al-Ekhlass and al-Hesbah, believed to be affiliated with al-Qa’eda.


However, it has transpired that far from being a detailed simulation created by terrorist masterminds, the apocalyptic vision is in fact lifted from the computer game Fallout 3, by US game designers Bethesda Softworks.

It was May 2006 when a different third-party intelligence company funded by US tax dollars made a similar stupid claim.

In other news from the Telegraph, John Lydon's "fat" and 50.


»  May 28, 2008


Trillin: Someday, I will find the tape I made of my incredibly lame interview with Calvin Trillin that was supposed to appear in the never-published sixth issue of Plant's Review of Books. Meanwhile, the man's been chugging along.


»  May 26, 2008


Political Memories: My campaign ad in the last issue of Plant's Review of Books, back when I ran for state representative in Southeast Portland in the 1994 Democratic primary. I hadn't really thought about it for a while until last Tuesday night when Steve Novick was giving his concession speech and talking about how there was a place for humor in politics. Well, at least I thought it was funny.

1994 Darrel Plant campaign ad: 'Too Smart for His Own Good. Put Him to Work for Yours'


»  May 21, 2008


More Turnout: There were over 15,000 votes cast Tuesday in the Democratic primary for Oregon House District 42 (Jules Kopel-Bailey won just over 40% in a four-way race). Back in 1994 — which, admittedly, was not a presidential election year — when I ran in the Democratic primary for District 14 (42's pre-redistricting predecessor) only about 4,000 votes were cast.


»  May 19, 2008


Turnout: Wally Edge at PolitickerOR thinks that the Obama campaign's get out the vote drive may have accomplished nothing:

Despite the vast efforts of the Barack Obama campaign to register over 30,000 new voters prior to the recent deadline and despite the alleged "huge projected" voter turnout in the Portland area, Oregon is only six percentage points ahead of where we were four years ago.

When John Kerry had the Democratic nomination locked up back in May 2004, the Oregon primary participation totaled 46% of registered voters. Even with the ongoing duel between Obama and Hillary Clinton we are still at a meager 29% as of last Friday. Here's hoping the next 24 hours can bring in at least another 20%.

Wally may want to rethink his numbers.

At the time of the 2004 primary, there were 729,233 registered Democrats (the kind of voter who would be voting for Kerry in the primary); that number has risen in 4 years to 866,568. That's an 18% increase in the number of registered Democrats in a period when the number of registered voters has risen by 8.5% (1,862,919 to 2,021,884).

As of 3:20pm Monday afternoon, the number of Democrats (the kind of voters Obama was trying to reach in the primary season) who had turned in their ballots was 52%. That's six percentage points ahead (for Democrats, the kind Obama needs to get to vote in Oregon's closed primary) of the final overall percentage from 2004. And it's only 2% under the 54% of Democrats who actually voted in primary in 2004.

That 52% of ballots turned in by this afternoon represents 453,479 Democratic ballots. Only 394,439 were cast in 2004. Comparing raw numbers of ballots cast, that's over 59,000 more Democratic voters a day before the polls close, a 15% increase in volume, nearly twice the percentage increase in the number of registered voters.


»  May 18, 2008


The Larch:

Tiny cones on snow

Not having read in the paper (as everyone else seems to have) that it was still not fully open, Barbara and I decided to take a little drive up to Larch Mountain, with its "incredible 5 mountain view" (according to the map from the Friends of Multnomah Falls).

So we turned off of the mother lode of cars travelling the Historic Columbia River Highway just past Corbett and followed a Porche most of the way up to the 8-mile post where — instead of the 100° temperatures we were stewing in at home — there was so much snow that the road was several feet deep, all sorts of trees had been knocked down, and we were forced to turn around and go back to the heat below 2000'.

Barbara at Crown Point


»  May 14, 2008

What the...?  

Comfort and Joy: It's spring, and that means a nation's thoughts turn to ice cream.

Just last week, Jerome Robbins, one of the founders of the Baskin-Robbins ice cream chain died at 90.

This week, as the temperatures rise, the New York Times reports on a skirmish between Mr. Softee and Good Humor truck drivers on the Upper West Side, mentioning some previous incidents.

There have been harsh words, hurt feelings and even bloodshed between competitors. In 2004, a couple in their 60s who owned and operated two ice cream trucks were ambushed in the Bronx and beaten with an oversized wrench. The motive, the police said, was the couple’s ice cream route. A rival ice cream salesman was charged with assault and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
It's the wrong season for it, but there's never a bad time to watch Bill Forsyth's Comfort and Joy.



Rice Approves of Black Panthers: After the months of chatter over Rev. Jeremiah Wright's "outrageous" comments on race, and Sen. Barack Obama's supposed traffic with a former member of the Weather Underground, isn't it about time to look into the tacit approval Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice gave to the Black Panther Party three years ago?

Rice says gun rights are as important as right to free speech and religion

By Barry Schweid

6:03 p.m. May 11, 2005

WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, recalling how her father took up arms to defend fellow blacks from racist whites in the segregated South, said Wednesday the constitutional right of Americans to own guns is as important as their rights to free speech and religion.

In an interview on CNN's "Larry King Live," Rice said she came to that view from personal experience. She said her father, a black minister, and his friends armed themselves to defend the black community in Birmingham, Ala., against the White Knight Riders in 1962 and 1963. She said if local authorities had had lists of registered weapons, she did not think her father and other blacks would have been able to defend themselves.

Armed self-defense was the rationale behind the inception of the Black Panther national organization, based in Oakland, California.

Given the rather tenuous nature of the issues Obama's been pressed to address, perhaps someone could ask Rice why she gives the Panthers the thumbs up.



S.O.R.R.Y.: Barbara and I saw The Proclaimers at the Aladdin Theater (acknowledged on its own site as the former "number one exhibitor of the X-rated classic" Deep Throat) last night. Their songs tend to cluster around three topics, not necessarily in this order: Scottish nationalism and anti-royalism, love, and Christianity. They often have a good dose of humor in them, which sets them apart from the usual religiously-influenced "rock" group. For those of you only familiar with their early-'80s anthem "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)", check out "Lady Luck", "The Light", and "What Makes You Cry?" It's a complicated relationship, but they sing great harmonies. Still, Barbara and I were a little overwhelmed by the crowd of handwaving fans at the show, who seemed to range in age from teenagers to septuagenarians. A bit different experience than the last time when we saw them downtown at Dante's, and a guy about ten years younger than either of us tried to pick a fight with Barbara.

One of the songs off their most recent album — Life With You — definitely caught my ear. Here's a bit of an interview they did with the Sunday Herald:

Let's talk about S.O.R.R.Y

Craig: That song is about the number of armchair warriors, the press especially, who were very keen to get us into Afghanistan and, more recently, Iraq. The whole thing has gone tits up and is quite obviously a disaster and the people who put the troops in there will be very harshly judged by history. A lot of people have said yes, I supported it for this reason. But now I don't but there are quite a few clinging to the idea that this was a good idea. And I think they can't say that little word the greatest issue since the second world war, and they were on the wrong side.

When Tony Blair was challenged about it, he said he was answerable to God

Charlie: That will wash in the United States but it won't wash here.

Craig: I can't think of any British prime minister who would have dared bring God into it. People don't like that. Right-wingers have always avoided using it because they understand it's not a good thing to mix your own spiritual beliefs with the actual governance of a country.


Your prose is elegant
As you demonstrate contempt — it's true
And the targets you attack
Mostly deserve a whack from you
Yes you're entertaining
You fill up the page
Fill it up with your rage

But now there's a doubt
Over the wisdom you hand out — in spades
Please tell us which you think
Is the country we should next help invade
What a bloody carnage
You cheered us into
And the others like you

Who never wore a uniform
Unless it was a uniform
Of a school or youth organisation
But for whom watching others do
What they would never do
Holds a sad fascination

And now I'm reminded
By feelings so strong
Of Bernie Taupin's lyric
To Sir Elton's song
Can you say the hardest word?

You demand apologies
From public figures on their knees
As you invite them to say "So long"
So let's hear your rendition
Of words of contrition
For getting it so wrong

Would you like to say something?
Would you like to say "sorry"?
Sorry, Sorry
That's S.O.R.R.Y.

©2007 by The Proclaimers.


»  May 13, 2008


Randy Girls: From an On the Media interview with a former Ayn Rand enthusiast who wrote an article about why some teenage girls are drawn to Rand's work:

BROOKE GLADSTONE: As research for her piece, Benfer wrote to book editors she knew, trolling for opinions about Rand.

AMY BENFER: One book editor wrote back to me and said, I avoided reading Ayn Rand until I was 22. And after I finished The Fountainhead, I felt I had discovered something very important - never date a boy who is reading The Fountainhead.


»  May 12, 2008


Silly: Via Jay Ackroyd, writing at Eschaton, We see that TIME Magazine's Joe Klein is claiming that his Pentagon sources aren't tainted by the propaganda scandal unearthed by the New York Times a few weeks back.

First of all, the vast majority of my military and intelligence sources have never been on television. Most are active duty military. Several of them took real career risks, especially during the Rumsfeld era, to get out the truth about a war they saw going terribly wrong.
Of course, the Times only focused on the best-known TV generals for their piece. Just because Klein's sources didn't show up on that list doesn't clear them. That's the whole insidious threat of programs like the Sock Generals.

I also liked this bit of Klein's self-defense:

In recent months, I've emphasized my fear--and that of some of my sources, but not others--that the U.S. is trying to establish long-term bases in Iraq.
Wow. "Recent months"? It hardly seems that sources were necessary to have come to that conclusion years ago.


»  May 11, 2008

What the...?  

1,000 Miles: No, nothing's wrong, I just haven't gotten around to posting anything for a week-and-a-half, which I admit is unusual. Thanks, Judy and Jon, for checking in to make sure everything was OK.

It's not that I haven't wanted to say anything, just that I've spent time commenting elsewhere, and that the topics I have wanted to write about would have just sucked up more time than I felt I could additionally spare. I did go to the zoo and watch the elephants part of one afternoon, I spent a morning canvassing for Steve Novick's senate campaign (as well as attend his fundraiser in Portland last week), and some other things. Went to see Iron Man.

In smart car related news, we passed the 1,000 mile mark yesterday, driving out to the Hood River orchard of my cousin Jason, to see his sister Carrie, my aunt Juliana and uncle Keith, and Carrie's new baby. Oh, and my exuberant first cousin, once-removed Gregory, seen here just before we went zooming over the byways around the orchard.


»  May 1, 2008