Commentator and author Eric Alterman discusses whether Barack Obama is a progressive realist or a conservative with The Real News analyst Pepe Escobar.

ALTERMAN: If you want to lose. I have so little patience for the romanticism of left-wing romanticism with defeat. I want to win. I want to do the world some good. Let the other side blame themselves for being impure. Politics is about compromise. If you don’t want to compromise, you don’t want to do what’s necessary to get power, do something else.

ESCOBAR: So what you’re saying is that Barack at the moment is holding his cards very close to his chest. Is it?


ESCOBAR: Yeah. That’s it.

ALTERMAN: Well, yeah. I mean, you know, if Barack Obama is saying, “I’m a person of good values and good judgment who is broadly progressive, and I can win.” That’s a pretty good deal. Look what this country’s been doing for eight years. Look at what this country’s been doing since the election of Jimmy Carter, who didn’t work out very well. He’s the most progressive—he’s certainly running the most progressive campaign since Jimmy Carter, you know, as a Democrat nominee. And I think he’ll be the most effective president, if he wins, since Franklyn [sic] Roosevelt. So if he’s got to say a few things that I wish he didn’t feel he had to say, first of all he’s smarter than I am. He knows what he has to do and what [inaudible] better than I can figure it out. But I’m just so sick of saying, you know, “We’re pure and they won.” You know?

ESCOBAR: Yeah, sure.

Let’s see. In just the past week, among the “few things” Obama’s said was that the FISA bill with telecom immunity was more or less OK by him, that he thought Gen. Wesley Clark was wrong when he said that Sen. John McCain’s war record didn’t automatically qualify him for the White House, and that he might just keep Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on in his own cabinet.

I Should Have Parked Closer For the Photo

Xebra and Smart

I’ve had a soft spot in my heart for ZAP, an electric car company that worked for years to get the smart car into the US (despite the best efforts of smart GMBH and parent company DaimlerChrysler) only to have the rug pulled out from under its conversion market by the announcement of an official smart car launch this year.

ZAP saw the potential of the smart car in the US more than five years ago, in the halcyon days when gas was still in the $2 range. I followed their news releases assiduously, and if I’d been able to afford the price of the converted 450 model smart while they were selling them (and if I’d been able to get one) I’d have been driving it for a lot longer.

I’ve been seeing a lot of these little three-wheel, four passenger (sort of), electric Xebra sedans around. This one’s from today’s grocery shopping trip at the Grocery Outlet in the Hollywood district. Just under $12K. 98% fewer pollutants than gas cars (counting power plant emissions, they say). More power to ZAP!

NOTE: The links I had here to ZAPworld are dead, but there’s some history about the years following this post here.

My Five Minutes Are Up

I was a little excited over the weekend because I’d gotten an email Thursday from a reporter at The New York Times about a little something I’d done back at the end of February.

Tired of the implication that Barack Obama’s middle name of Hussein was somehow a bad thing, I posted a short Spartacus-inspired video on YouTube in which I stated by name was Darrel Hussein Plant, then linked it here, to an iamhussein blog I set up, and at Daily Kos.

Apparently, while I was doing that, a number of other folks had come up with the same idea and after I posted mine I saw a couple of others, which I acknowledged.

And then I more or less forgot about it until Thursday, when one of the Times’ political reporters — Jodi Kantor — wrote me a note saying she was doing a piece on Obama supporters who were using Hussein as a middle name. I called her back, answered questions to the best of my recollection, and actually went back to look at what had sparked it for me (which she recounted, although I don’t know if I was the only source for it) buuuuuut she didn’t use my name.

Interestingly, however, I did find out that someone just set up today (according to the whois record), and apparently they put my Daily Kos posting on the front page along with the Times article.

You Can Say Those Words On the Internet

The late George Carlin on the first Gulf War, discusses how American foreign policy is often described in the sexual terminology of thirteen-year-olds with terms like “pulling out” and “going all the way.” He ends with the admonition:

If you want to know what happened in the Persian Gulf, just remember the names of the two “men” who were running that war: Dick Cheney and Colin Powell.

The Horde

Prosecutors are trying to restrict the leader of the Oregon chapter of the Mongols Motorcycle Club from associating with his membership, based on his recent reckless driving and misdemeanor conviction. His lawyer cries foul:

[Justin “Mooch”] DeLoretto’s lawyer, Kelly Beckley, said he would fight to protect his client’s right to free association.

“The state’s attempt to vilify everybody associated with the Oregon Mongols, and to make them sound like some sort of a vicious outlaw motorcycle gang, is just wrong,” he said.

Of course, the name doesn’t help with that perception, either.

smart Sightings

After two-and-a-half months of seeing only one other smart on the road (except for the ones from the dealership), I thought we’d broken the string yesterday when we were driving back from the coast and pulled off of Highway 26 at the Sylvan exit behind an all-black hardtop. We were headed the same way, up to Barnes Road and down into town on West Burnside. When we pulled up next to it, it turned out the driver was Massimo Orsini from smart Center Portland, who’d sold us the car. So that didn’t count.

Finally, today, as I picked up Barbara from work, we ran across two. Both black hardtops. The first was crossing our path at SW Third and Madison on our way to the Hawthorne Bridge; the other was waiting to make a left turn across SE Hawthorne going the other way around 35th.

Greetings to our smart Portland comrades.

Mama Warned You About Things Like This

Dinged By A G-String?

Woman, 52, sues Victoria’s Secret, claims injury from defective thong

JUNE 17–As she was attempting to put on a Victoria’s Secret thong, a Los Angeles woman claims that a decorative metallic piece flew off the garment and struck her in the eye, causing injuries and a new product liability lawsuit against the underwear giant.

I wish I could claim credit for this comment from

Yep, thongs are all fun and games until somebody loses an eye.