Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Eclectic Jukebox 11/27/08

The Beatles - "Two of Us"

This seemed like a good pick for Thanksgiving, although Dido's "Thank You" still works well.

Eclectic Jukebox

Advice to My Son

I've liked this poem ever since I was introduced to it back in high school. (For a class presentation on it, two other guys and I did a little skit riffing on Polonius' advice to Laertes from Hamlet and a Reeses' Peanut Butter Cup ad. It worked surprisingly well.) In any case, this seemed like a good pick for the season.

Advice to My Son
By J. Peter Meinke

The trick is, to live your day
as if each one may be your last

(for they go fast, and young men lose their lives
in strange and unimaginable ways)
but at the same time, plan long range
(for they go slow; if you survive
the shattered windshield and the bursting shell
you will arrive
at our approximation here below
of heaven or hell)

To be specific, between the peony and the rose
plant squash and spinach, turnips and tomatoes;
beauty is nectar
and nectar, in the desert, saves –
but the stomach craves stronger sustenance
than the honied vine.

Therefore, marry a pretty girl
after seeing her mother;
show your soul to one man,
work with another;
and always serve bread with your wine.

But, son,
Always serve wine.

(Cross-posted at The Blue Herald)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Regulation Showdown

I have a new post up at the Campaign for America's Future giving an overview of the Bush administration's last-minute efforts to strip safety and oversight regulations.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Eclectic Jukebox 11/20/08

Michael Franti and Spearhead - "Say Hey (I Love You)"

Eclectic Jukebox

Right-Wing Cartoon Watch #33 (9/26/08 – 11/21/08)

Head on over to the overdue, over-sized 33rd installment of RWCW, covering eight weeks of important economic developments and a historic campaign. Who among our usual gang would rise to the occasion? Who would flirt with reality-based satire? And who would stand athwart history saying, “Stop! Everything is the Democrats’ fault”…?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Eclectic Jukebox 11/13/08

Tom Paxton – "I'm Changing My Name to Fannie Mae"

Tom updates his classic. Boy, some things don't change, do they? Will Rogers made jokes about "trickle down" economics... Meanwhile, here's a good fan video of Arlo Guthrie on Precious Friend covering Tom's original:

Eclectic Jukebox

Maya Angelou on Obama

Jezebel has a great clip of Maya Angelou talking about Barack Obama's win (via TRex). Jezebel's clip skips the intro (and is lower-res) than the full segment below, but still has the good stuff. I'll just add that was a real treat to hear Maya Angelou speak at my college years back, and I always love to hear her talk. But let's turn it over to the poet herself:

(Cross-posted at The Blue Herald)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

11/11 Armistice Day 2008

The eleventh day of the eleventh month has always seemed to me to be special. Even if the reason for it fell apart as the years went on, it was a symbol of something close to the high part of the heart. Perhaps a life that stretches through two or three wars takes its first war rather seriously, but I still think we should have kept the name "Armistice Day." Its implications were a little more profound, a little more hopeful.

- Walt Kelly

In earlier years, I've featured Kelly's words and one of his 11/11 Pogo strips. I've also previously highlighted some of Wilfred Owen's poetry. World War I remains one of the most horrific of any wars, and is the reason 11/11 (Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, Veterans' Day) is observed. I continue to wish it was studied more. Owen, who fought in WWI, is still probably my favorite war poet, but his friend, fellow soldier and war poet Siegfried Sassoon possessed a dark, biting wit. Their friendship has been depicted in several fictionalized accounts, including the award-winning novel Regeneration. Here's a selection of Sassoon's work.

The Effort
By Siegfried Sassoon

"The effect of our bombardment was terrific. One man told me he had
never seen so many dead before." --War Correspondent.
"HE'D never seen so many dead before."
They sprawled in yellow daylight while he swore
And gasped and lugged his everlasting load
Of bombs along what once had been a road.
"How peaceful are the dead."
Who put that silly gag in some one's head?

"He'd never seen so many dead before."
The lilting words danced up and down his brain,
While corpses jumped and capered in the rain.
No, no; he wouldn't count them any more...
The dead have done with pain:
They've choked; they can't come back to life again.

When Dick was killed last week he looked like that,
Flapping along the fire-step like a fish,
After the blazing crump had knocked him flat...
"How many dead? As many as ever you wish.
Don't count 'em; they're too many.
Who'll buy my nice fresh corpses, two a penny?"

One of the common themes in WWI memoirs such as Robert Graves' Good-Bye to All That is how terrible trench warfare is and how cloistered the public back home is from its dread realities. Sassoon focused a fair amount on this dynamic:

Editorial Impressions
By Siegfried Sassoon

He seemed so certain ‘all was going well’,
As he discussed the glorious time he’d had
While visiting the trenches.
‘One can tell
You’ve gathered big impressions!’ grinned the lad
Who’d been severely wounded in the back
In some wiped-out impossible Attack.
‘Impressions? Yes, most vivid! I am writing
A little book called Europe on the Rack,
Based on notes made while witnessing the fighting.
I hope I’ve caught the feeling of “the Line”,
And the amazing spirit of the troops.
By Jove, those flying-chaps of ours are fine!
I watched one daring beggar looping loops,
Soaring and diving like some bird of prey.
And through it all I felt that splendour shine
Which makes us win.’
The soldier sipped his wine.
‘Ah, yes, but it’s the Press that leads the way!

Even more acidly:

Suicide In The Trenches
By Siegfried Sassoon

I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.

In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you'll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.

In Good-Bye to All That, Graves relates the story of a soldier shot for going AWOL. The man hadn't been trying to desert, and was in fact set on fighting, but just couldn't take the waiting. Air bombings, especially with sirens affixed to plane wings, played havoc with troop nerves in the trenches. A faceless enemy could seemingly kill them at any time, with life and death a matter of random chance. Any possibility at direct retribution for a buddy's death was similarly unlikely against a faceless foe. Studies of PTSD and general troop morale show that anyone will break eventually if given no respite. And even if given some rest, or if one makes it all the way home, there's still the question of what awaits there:

Does It Matter?
By Siegfried Sassoon

Does it matter? - losing your legs?...
For people will always be kind,
And you need not show that you mind
When others come in after hunting
To gobble their muffins and eggs.

Does it matter? - losing your sight?...
There’s such splendid work for the blind;
And people will always be kind,
As you sit on the terrace remembering
And turning your face to the light.

Do they matter - those dreams from the pit?...
You can drink and forget and be glad,
And people won't say that you’re mad;
For they know that you've fought for your country,
And no one will worry a bit.

After publicly protesting the war, Sassoon was sent to Craiglockhart War Hospital to be treated for shell shock. He was fortunate to be treated by Dr. W. H. R. Rivers, who practiced a more humane form of treatment than was often the case at the time. PTSD or shell shock was generally seen as a failure of nerve, as cowardice. (Mrs. Dalloway provides a memorable fictional depiction of this attitude.) The following poem and a Rivers paper (that makes for striking reading) share a title:

Repression of War Experience
By Siegfried Sassoon

Now light the candles; one; two; there’s a moth;
What silly beggars they are to blunder in
And scorch their wings with glory, liquid flame -
No, no, not that, - it’s bad to think of war,
When thoughts you’ve gagged all day come back to scare you;
And it’s been proved that soldiers don’t go mad
Unless they lose control of ugly thoughts
That drive them out to jabber among the trees.

Now light your pipe; look, what a steady hand.
Draw a deep breath; stop thinking; count fifteen,
And you’re as right as rain...
Why won’t it rain?...
I wish there’d be a thunder-storm to-night,
With bucketsful of water to sluice the dark,
And make the roses hang their dripping heads.
Books; what a jolly company they are,
Standing so quiet and patient on their shelves,
Dressed in dim brown, and black, and white, and green,
And every kind of colour. Which will you read?
Come on; O do read something; they’re so wise.
I tell you all the wisdom of the world
Is waiting for you on those shelves; and yet
You sit and gnaw your nails, and let your pipe out,
And listen to the silence: on the ceiling
There’s one big, dizzy moth that bumps and flutters;
And in the breathless air outside the house
The garden waits for something that delays.
There must be crowds of ghosts among the trees, -
Not people killed in battle, - they’re in France, -
But horrible shapes in shrouds - old men who died
Slow, natural deaths, - old men with ugly souls,
Who wore their bodies out with nasty sins.

You’re quiet and peaceful, summering safe at home;
You’d never think there was a bloody war on!...
O yes, you would ... why, you can hear the guns.
Hark! Thud, thud, thud, - quite soft ... they never cease -
Those whispering guns - O Christ, I want to go out
And screech at them to stop - I’m going crazy;
I’m going stark, staring mad because of the guns.

This piece is far less sardonic and more sincere than some of the earlier selections:

By Siegfried Sassoon

When I was young my heart and head were light,
And I was gay and feckless as a colt
Out in the fields, with morning in the may,
Wind on the grass, wings in the orchard bloom.
O thrilling sweet, my joy, when life was free
And all the paths led on from hawthorn-time
Across the carolling meadows into June.

But now my heart is heavy-laden. I sit
Burning my dreams away beside the fire:
For death has made me wise and bitter and strong;
And I am rich in all that I have lost.
O starshine on the fields of long-ago,
Bring me the darkness and the nightingale;
Dim wealds of vanished summer, peace of home,
and silence; and the faces of my friends.

This last selection may be the most appropriate for 11/11:

By Siegfried Sassoon

Have you forgotten yet? ...
For the world's events have rumbled on since those gagged days,
Like traffic checked while at the crossing of city-ways:
And the haunted gap in your mind has filled with thoughts that flow
Like clouds in the lit heaven of life; and you're a man reprieved to go,
Taking your peaceful share of Time, with joy to spare.
But the past is just the same - and War's a bloody game ...
Have you forgotten yet? ...
Look down, and swear by the slain of the War that you'll never forget.

Do you remember the dark months you held the sector at Mametz -
The nights you watched and wired and dug and piled sandbags on parapets?
Do you remember the rats; and the stench
of corpses rotting in front of the front-line trench -
And dawn coming, dirty-white, and chill with a hopeless rain?
Do you ever stop and ask, "Is it all going to happen again?"
Do you remember the hour of din before the attack -
And the anger, the blind compassion that seized and shook you
As you peered at the doomed and haggard faces of your men?
Do you remember the stretcher-cases lurching back
With dying eyes and lolling heads - those ashen-grey
Masks of the lads who once were keen and kind and gay?

Have you forgotten yet? ...
Look up, and swear by the green of the spring that you'll never forget.

(Cross-posted at The Blue Herald)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Using Justice Against Us

I have a new post up at the Campaign for America's Future about Guantánamo, John Yoo and the Bush administration. I've been kicking around this one for an embarrassingly long time, actually. But if dissecting the deceptive rhetoric used to sell monstrous villainy is your thing, it might be worth checking out.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Eclectic Jukebox 11/6/08

Marvin Gaye – "His Eye Is On the Sparrow"

This version is the one from Marvin Gaye: A Musical Testament 1964-1984. There's another version out there that's better known and smoother. It's great too, but I like the rawer edge to Marvin's vocal in this version. To me, it's always expressed the fervent yearning of someone desperate to believe, but plagued by doubt. He's trying to convince himself. Identity is often not a static thing, but defined by tensions like that. Societies and political movements can be like that, too. Here's to all that yearning and striving, and to one hell of a week.

Eclectic Jukebox

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I Just Realized...

All seven of the states I've lived in went for Obama.

Two of them went for Bush in both 2000 and 2004.

(Wisconsin, Virginia, Maine, Minnesota, Florida, Connecticut, California)

A Joyful Blue Note From Chicago

Mrs. Tarantino: Are you the police?

Elwood: No, ma'am. We're musicians.

We're putting a band together.

You in?

Plenty of new band mates, lots of new blood, and all of that's good. We're putting together a hot playlist. Just for starters, there's…

"A Liberal Shock Doctrine" by Rick Perlstein

Take the Bold Progressive Pledge

…and there's much more already out there, with still more on the way. We need a New New Deal. You may have your own ideas. Share your best stuff. We've got some great policies, but we're not afraid to keep exploring to find something better. For instance, there may be creative alternatives to solve the energy crisis:

Donald 'Duck' Dunn: We had a band powerful enough to turn goat piss into gasoline.

Keep those ideas comin'! Democracy is a rock 'n' roll anthem, but it won't play itself.

(Cross-posted at The Blue Herald)

What It Was Like (Election Night)

What It Was. What It Is. And What It Will Be.

(I'm sorry to see the great civil rights photo version of this last one has been yanked, but the song remains astounding.)

(Cross-posted at The Blue Herald)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Game On!

To get in the mood:

If you feel a duty to vote, but also occasionally feel disgusted with your fellow Americans (ahem), this video is for you. (Via Blue Gal.)

Meanwhile, as a general rule, the folks with the better music have better policies and are much cooler. True enough!

Here's an extended, updated version of a video I featured before, Obama Reggaeton:

And since I am in California, let me keep 'em coming - Viva Obama 2008 (Mariachi):

Viva Obama (Norteño):

I linked this one before, but via FranIAm, here's Obama Zydeco:

And remember this one?

Some other tunes are waiting in the wings, depending on the outcome of the presidential race and a few other contests...

(Cross-posted at The Blue Herald)

Election Predictions 2008

Feel free to make you election predictions in the comments. What will be the electoral vote count? What will the popular vote percentages be? How many Senate or House pickups will there be? Any ballot proposition predictions?

CNN allows you to make your own map (some other sites freeze up).

Slate has spreadsheets you can use to track your picks as well for a weighted contest (extra points for picking battleground states correctly, etc.).

Five Thirty Eight's projections show the most common results are 311, 338, 378, 353, and 291 for Obama.

FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver has a very good piece in Newsweek on what to watch for in the election returns.

The yellow states on CNN's map plus Pennsylvania and Nevada are those that have or will likely see the most voter suppression or dirty tricks. Democracy Now and Brad Blog have more details.

The number of true battleground states varies from source to source, but we'll go with these 15 (the CNN map lists abbreviations if you need them):


Some people would add AR, ME and WV to that list. Add anything you like. In any case, feel free to make any predictions in the thread. Mine are in the comments below.

(I'll probably spend more time over at the Blue Herald version of this post, but feel free to leave comments here, if you prefer.)

Another Look at No on 8

We've already taken a pretty detailed look at Prop. 8, which attempts to outlaw gay marriage, but the vote is going to be close. A number of new ads have also cropped up.

If Yes on 8 succeeds, it will be largely because of outright lies. As we examined before, Prop. 8 seeks to change the state's Constitution, and has nothing to do with education. California has broad opt-out laws, and parents who object to parts of sex ed, for example, can have their kid pulled out of those classes. Defeating Prop. 8 is important not just for California, but the nation.

I received a "Yes on 8" flyer last week with some interesting spin. The language to "Protect Marriage" is intentionally deceptive, as are the pitches that "A 'Yes' Vote Restores Traditional Marriage" and "A 'No' Vote Means Gay Marriage is Still Mandated." The language implies that "traditional marriage" has somehow gone away, and that people have been forced into gay marriages. It's ridiculous, but this sort of prejudicial language is typical of the right-wing, and it's a deliberately irrational appeal.

But perhaps they have a point. After all, we can all look back to when interracial marriages were made legal. Remember that? Suddenly, whites were no longer able to marry other whites! And who can forget how all those whites who were already married saw their marriages cheapened and sullied, because other people were allowed to marry! Imagine, other people marrying, and without their permission. And sure, they wouldn’t have given their permission, but that's beside the point. Arranging an interracial marriage was terribly rude. Didn't any of those people engaging in unnatural unions think of the children? Especially the impressionable white children, who might get the awful notion that such things were all right? Surely we can all remember how America fell apart from that travesty, never to recover. And that is why gay marriage is the greatest threat our nation has ever faced. (Even worse than that Negro devil music, rock and roll.)

Let's start with a look at the Yes on 8 ads.

"Have You Thought About It?" ad:

Why yes. Yes, we have thought about it. And many of these claims are illogical or false. As we've previously examined, there are churches who support gay marriage, and no church is forced to perform a gay marriage. If there's any conflict with "religious freedoms," it's the Yes on 8 campaign's attempts to ban gay marriage, stopping gay-friendly churches from performing gay weddings. Domestic partners do not have all the same rights as married couples. Your little moppet won't be taught that gay marriage exists if you chose to object – although you're free to teach her it exists and it's evil, evil, evil at home if you want.

I stumbled upon this on YouTube. "Marriage, It's Simple":

So here, your happy, heterosexual white daughter will have her childhood innocence destroyed by gay marriage, will turn into a lesbian, or even worse, play with same-sex dolls. Or, as Blue Gal puts it, "The rationale of this ad is, if we let the homos win, we are denying little blonde girls their natural inclination to play wedding with Ken and Barbie." Oh, for more innocent times, when teen girls practiced kissing. And lost their virginity on their wedding nights to their husbands, who always knew best.

Let's turn to this New York Times account now on Prop. 8:

“This vote on whether we stop the gay-marriage juggernaut in California is Armageddon,” said Charles W. Colson, the founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries and an eminent evangelical voice, speaking to pastors in a video promoting Proposition 8. “We lose this, we are going to lose in a lot of other ways, including freedom of religion.”

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian lobby based in Washington, said in an interview, “It’s more important than the presidential election.”

“We’ve picked bad presidents before, and we’ve survived as a nation,” said Mr. Perkins, who has made two trips to California in the last six weeks. “But we will not survive if we lose the institution of marriage.”

That would be convicted Nixon felon Chuck Colson. I'd have more respect for him if he wasn't lying here. His freedom of religion isn't infringed upon in any way by gay marriage. He just doesn't like it, and he wants to dictate to other people – and other churches – what they can do. He's happy to attack others' civil rights, and if we adopt his framing, their freedom of religion. Colson either doesn't acknowledge, or doesn't understand, that there are Christians who support gay marriage, and that he has no exclusive claim on piety or godliness.

As for Tony Perkins, his statement is hyperbole as well as illogical. Since gay marriage is (duh) marriage, it cannot erode "the institution of marriage." It just offends Perkins' conception of it. It's extraordinary he would claim that gay marriage is more important than the presidency, and that somehow, equal treatment for gays will destroy America. Of course, the cries of religious persecution are particularly silly:

“The idea that we would be forced as clergy to perform a marriage that was against our conscience, or that a church would lose its tax-exempt status, is ridiculous,” said the Rev. Karen Sapio, the minister of Claremont Presbyterian Church in Southern California. “If you look dispassionately at the record, there are a lot of churches with policies that are at odds with civil law.”

She continued, “I have not heard of a single Catholic church forced to marry someone who has been divorced, or a rabbi forced to perform an interfaith marriage or an evangelical church forced to marry a couple who has been living together.”

Then there's these guys:

Preachers from other parts of the country have dropped everything and moved to California in recent months. Lou Engle, who leads TheCall, a charismatic prayer ministry in Washington and Kansas City, Mo., with a large following among youth, moved with his seven children to California in September. He is holding large prayer rallies up and down the state, urging people to pray and fast for the 40 days leading up to the election. Some people are giving up solid foods; others are giving up clothes shopping or their favorite television shows.

Here's their web spot, via Digby:

Yikes. It goes well with Colson's Armageddon rhetoric and Perkins' survival of the nation blather, doesn't it? Somehow, I find this ad scarier than gays marrying.

Over to the No on 8 crew now. Incertus has a good spot posted making the interracial marriage comparison, and Balloon Juice has video of the Republican Mayor of San Diego giving an emotional speech against Prop. 8. Happily, some of the No on 8 ads I posted before that I'd only seen online have aired on TV now, including the Latino and one of the Mac-PC type ads. Meanwhile, these two ads have also run quite a bit.

While I'm not a big fan of Dianne Feinstein, this is a good spot:

And Samuel L. Jackson really brings it home, in an ad that's been running often:

Make sure to vote!

(Cross-posted at The Blue Herald)

Monday, November 03, 2008

Take the GOP Talking Point Quiz!

You've seen Howard Kurtz cheerlead "the Surge" in defiance of the facts. You've seen him cover for Michelle Malkin's campaign of hatred against a severely-injured 12-year old boy. You've seen him quote Malkin to push a false equivalency about hatred on the left and continue to ignore the eliminationist rhetoric commonplace on the right. You've seen him write a puff piece on Malkin. Oh, then there's all the Obama non-scandal scandals that could have been made into a bigger deal. So here's a little quiz. How many right-wing talking points can you spot in his write-up on Barack Obama's infomercial?

It was like a well-produced "60 Minutes" report on the struggling middle class, if those who are struggling all happened to live in swing states. Call it "30 Minutes."

Obama did the voice-over, playing the role of correspondent, and the goal, of course, was to intertwine his personal story with the difficulties and aspirations of ordinary Americans whose votes he needs to put him over the top.

The Obama infomercial last night began in a faux Oval Office -- the desk, the tree behind the windows, the flag pin on the man who once disdained them -- that to my eye seemed a tad presumptuous. It was, naturally, designed to get you to envision him as the 44th president.

The mini-portraits -- the injured tire worker in Missouri, the retired railroad worker in Ohio, the widow with two jobs in New Mexico, the teacher in Colorado, the auto worker in Kentucky -- were polished and, at times, quite moving. Obama wants it known that he is fighting for them.

What also worked was depicting Barack in people's living rooms, talking about what he wants to do for them. (Although how did the tax cuts suddenly move down from people earning $250,000 to those at 200K?)

What didn't work were the brief tributes by senators and governors -- who might as well have been touting the slice-o-matic -- and the snippets of Obama's Greek column convention speech. We've already seen that, and it was out of sync with the tone of the ad.

Which brings me to the final three minutes. The idea of moving from the safety of a videotape to a live event was inspired. But doing it in a cheering Florida stadium with Obama going to the overblown rhetoric and vowing to "change the world," not so much. The whole idea of the show was to bring Obama down from the clouds and into the street. The big rally came close to canceling out the man-of-the-people image so carefully constructed in the previous 27 minutes.

Still, the show was on CBS, NBC, Fox and four other networks -- the biggest such splash since Ross Perot's pie charts -- and it probably helped at the margins. Even if it didn't, I don't get some of the advance criticism that the show would boomerang because of its excessive nature. No one had to watch. They could always switch over to "Pushing Daisies" on ABC.

If the press were inclined to hammer the Democratic nominee for buying the election after blowing off public financing, the infomercial would be Exhibit A. But the press is giving him a pass on the issue.

One other observation: Has Obama been watching too many Palin speeches? He kept talking about "workin' families" and was in full g-dropping mode.

How many GOP talking points did you spot? I see at least four. In paragraph 3, Kurtz writes about a "faux Oval Office." Other commentators did as well, which I suppose is fine, although you'll notice it's all brown wood versus the white of the Oval Office, and I don't think appearing in an office is the slightest bit remarkable for a political ad. But Kurtz calls this move "a tad presumptuous." Gosh, we've never heard that one before, have we? It's awfully "presumptuous" for Obama to think he might actually be elected somehow? Kurtz also accuses Obama of 'disdaining' wearing a flag pin. This is a common right-wing talking point, and Kurtz repeating it is unconscionable bullshit. After the flag pin idiocy was finally pretty much dead back in July, Kurtz repeated the smear by agreeing with a disingenuous National Review piece that resurrected it yet again. At the time, rather than blogging about it, I actually wrote Kurtz a detailed e-mail with links (such as this one) debunking the claims. He never replied, and that's fine. But he really, really should know better. At best, it's a contentious charge that shouldn't be presented as fact, but the truth is it's an ugly smear. Yet he clearly has no compunctions about tossing it off, facts be damned.

In paragraph 5, Kurtz expresses confusion about Obama's tax plan. I'm sure it's just a coincidence that Sarah Palin and other McCain surrogates have been making this attack for the past week or so. Seriously, how can Kurtz possibly be ignorant on this subject? Biden did make a misstatement within the past two weeks his critics seized upon, but the campaign immediately corrected it, and it's not as if Obama's tax policies are some big secret. Obama's described them in at least two debates, and his nomination speech, among other places. (Update: Per CNN, Biden didn't even really misspeak, unless we define "misspeak" as "saying something accurate that an opponent can quote in misleading way." McCain's just lying.) Here's one chart that explains the Obama-McCain differences, and a Hilzoy post that goes in more depth. Basically, Obama is raising taxes on folks making over $250,000 a year. Those making between $200,000 and $250,000 will not see their tax rate move much at all. Those making less than $200,000 will see a tax break – and it's a larger break under Obama than McCain, who is giving bigger breaks to the wealthiest Americans (like his wife) than even George Bush did. Thus, as Obama has often said, roughly 95% of Americans will not see their taxes go up under an Obama presidency, and most of that number will see a tax break. Seriously, how could Kurtz not know this, or not research it to refresh his memory? Does Kurtz just have a crappy memory, does he not want to do research to solve his confusion, or does he just take most of his cues from Republicans attacking Obama?

In paragraph 6, I'd say Obama's decision to cut to his nomination speech was an effective choice. It reminded people of the power of the speech, and it reinforced that he's been saying this stuff for a while now. Kurtz is free to disagree on that. But mentioning the Greek columns is just pathetic. As you may remember, right-wing blogs were obsessed with this, even though Bush accepted his nomination in 2004 in front of Greek columns. Apparently Kurtz missed the many mentions of that hypocrisy on liberal blogs and establishment outlets such as The Politico, or the terms "nomination speech" or "convention speech" just didn't appeal to him.

As to the public financing charge, while it's a conservative talking point, it's a fair criticism up to a point. Still, Kurtz has never to my knowledge pointed out that McCain has violated campaign finance laws (Talking Points Memo, a blog Kurtz typically reads, has done numerous posts and at least one video on this subject). I don't remember Kurtz hammering the Republican Party for its massive spending advantage in 2004, or criticizing how the GOP hit Kerry with the Swift-Boat ads at a point in the campaign cycle when Kerry's funds were curtailed by finance laws. Kurtz buds Mark Halperin and John Harris wrote a whole book extolling the virtue of Rove's sleazy, win-at-any-cost, bigger war chest brand of politics. Now, Kurtz isn't too blame for their book, of course, but he shares many of their views, and the whole gang are pretty selective when it comes to fairness.
Kurtz is entitled to his other opinions. The Florida rally wasn't live out here in California, so its special nature was lost on me. I don't have an issue with the old speeches and the new rally being intercut with the informercial stuff, which also intercut Obama speaking directly to the American people, mini-docs on families, and Obama listening to and talking to American citizens. But hey, Kurtz is free to feel differently.

All that said, if Kurtz isn't aware of what he's shilling, boy, he's been duped, and if he is aware, it's even more shameful. I think it's a mixture of both. In any case, while Kurtz has his moments, his blog's main virtue is as a conservative blog round-up, but Kurtz still affects a persona of being fair and balanced, ample evidence to the contrary. Once again, he's adopted a right-wing framing and legitimizes bullshit.

(Oh, and Pushing Daisies is a good show, but I don't think even Ned could resurrect McCain's campaign at this point.)

(Cross-posted at The Blue Herald)