Monday, July 31, 2006

The Bitch That Is Karma

Heh heh heh...
The state Republican Party bluntly told Rep. Katherine Harris (news, bio, voting record) that she couldn't win this fall's Senate election and that the party wouldn't support her campaign, a letter obtained Monday by The Associated Press shows.

Party Chairman Carole Jean Jordan made a last-ditch attempt in the confidential May 7 letter to force Harris out of the race for the nomination to challenge Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson (news, bio, voting record). But the next day, Harris turned in paperwork to get her name on the Sept. 5 Republican primary ballot.


"Katherine, though it causes us much anguish, we have determined that your campaign faces irreparable damage," the letter said. "We feel that we have no other choice but to revoke our support."

"The polls tell us that no matter how you run this race, you will not be successful in beating Bill Nelson, who would otherwise be a vulnerable incumbent if forced to face a stronger candidate," it said.

Let us not forget that Katherine Harris was only in a position to run for Senate because of her willingness to subvert the democratic process in order to secure Florida's electoral votes for George W. Bush in 2000. And now their chance to take Bill Nelson's Senate seat has imploded spectacularly, largely because of her character issues. Wow, who could have seen that coming?

(Hat tip to Holden)

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Monday Media Blogging

The greatest Barry Gibb talk show parody ever.

I especially like how Barry Gibb thinks he's some kind of scary kung-fu badass.

In other news, my blog is on the second page of search results for images to prove that some of the media is demonic...

Sunday Softball Blogging

Well, the baseball kids showed up again, so once again we had more players than we could handle. I ended up sitting out some defensive half-innings, which would have been great for bonus picture-taking if it hadn't been raining... Despite facing a five-man outfield alignment, I went 4-for-4 with a sharp double, a long home run to center, 3 runs, and an RBI. Not much action in the outfield, since I only played left field for 2-3 innings and then sat out or played, um, right-right-center.

2006 Stats:
15 games, .620 BA (57-92), 1.033 SLG, 13 2B, 2 3B, 7 HR, 35 runs, 28 RBI.

Career Stats: 42 games, .589 BA (169-287), .798 SLG, 30 2B, 3 3B, 8 HR, 96 runs, 68 RBI.

Off-balance throw...

And I thought my leg-kick was extreme...

Nice over-the-shoulder catch.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Not-So-Liberal Media

I have been insisting for quite some time now that the so-called "liberal media" is nothing of the sort - the media's corporate ownership has resulted in a consistently pro-Republican bias in both stories and narrative. Even worse, this bias has begun to spread into entertainment programming, such as Fox's popular series "24", which has legitimized both torture and the use of the word "nukular." I just looked at this fall's lineup of new shows, and the trend is clearly accelerating. See for yourself:

Everybody Loves Lee Raymond
CSI: Taxachusetts
Survivor: DC, hosted by Steve King
Big Brother

Triumph Of The Will & Grace
The (Oval) Office
Fear Factor

Extreme Makeover: Iraqi Hospital Edition
According To George
NSA's Funniest Home Videos
Hope & Faith

Family Values Guy
So You Think You Can President
Malcolm In The Middle East
King Of The Hill

Afghanistan's Next Top Model
Kill More Girls
Veronica Mars, Bitches!

Mostly B&W Convention Center Photoblogging

Time for me to see what my new 10-20mm ultra-wide zoom lens can do. Here are some already-taken photos in the meantime - see if you can spot the theme.

Inside the bowels of the Convention Center.

Looking out from the bowels of the Convention Center.

Sort of, um, off to the side of the bowels of the Convention Center.

The back of a sign for parking near the bowels of the Convention Center.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Buggin' Out

Those silly liberal bloggers are getting all worked up about how Joe Lieberman's latest campaign button is missing a union "bug." This is just further proof that those latte-sipping elitists think of the proud American working man as nothing more than an insect, to be crushed under their Birkenstocks as they emerge from their limousines and sushi bars.

Joe Lieberman understands that the best way to honor the American worker is to ignore his existence completely, so that he can do his job without any silly distractions. Joe Lieberman considerately steers well clear of these proud Americans so that he won't accidentally step on one.

Three cheers for Joe Lieberman, a real American hero and patriot!

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand... Something.

This is my one-thousandth post. I started Multi Medium 525 days ago on 2/18/05, so that works out to 1.9 posts per day.


Top-Secret Environmental Information

This is bad. Very bad.
With New Yorkers already fuming about reports that the feds downplayed the danger of Ground Zero dust, the White House gave EPA chief Christie Whitman the power to bury embarrassing documents by classifying them "secret."

"I hereby designate the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to classify information originally as 'Secret,'" states the executive order, which was signed by President Bush on May 6, 2002.

Although the stated reason for Bush's directive is to keep "national security information" from falling into enemy hands, advocates for thousands of ailing Ground Zero heroes are convinced there's a more sinister motive.

"I think the rationale behind this was to not let people know what they were potentially exposed to," said Joel Kupferman of the New York Environmental Law and Justice Project. "They're using the secrecy thing to cover up their malfeasance and past deceptions."


Whitman, who resigned as EPA chief in May 2003, could not be reached for comment yesterday. In a Newsweek interview that year, she said the White House never told her to lie about the air quality.

However, Whitman conceded that she did not object when words of caution were edited out of her public statements.

"We didn't want to scare people," she said.


Two days after the Sept. 11 attacks, Whitman declared, "There appear to be no significant levels of asbestos dust in the air in New York City." Then on Sept. 21, Whitman reported that "a host of potential contaminants are either not detectable" or at a level the EPA considered safe.

But on Oct. 26, 2001, the Daily News slapped "Toxic Zone" on the front page and warned that "toxic chemicals and metals" were poisoning lower Manhattan.

So... what kind of "national security information" would the EPA have, exactly? I think Christie resigned about 20 months too late.

Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

This week's quote is from Homegrown, a lame marijuana comedy/thriller with an intriguing cast.

"Your head is hollow, and yet you walk around, and say things, and frolic in it."

And, of course, there'll be other people's cats...

Gollum again. He really loves rolling around on the pavement. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 27, 2006

"He's From Barcelona..."

This is pretty cool:
In 1886, the Buffalo Bisons, a top minor league baseball team, signed a versatile infielder from Massachusetts named Frank Grant. The next day, a local newspaper announced Grant’s arrival by describing him as “a Spaniard.”

Grant was in fact one of five African-Americans playing in the otherwise all-white minor leagues that year, on teams from Kansas to Connecticut. Their presence was accepted if not widely acknowledged in the 1880’s, passed off with a wink and a nod, a dodge that labeled players like Grant as Spaniards, Portuguese or Arabs.

The ruse did not hide what historians now concede, that some 60 years before Jackie Robinson famously broke organized baseball’s color barrier, integrated teams of white and black athletes played hundreds of professional games. African-Americans even played in the major leagues.


The recently documented life stories of Grant and White, 19th-century pioneers who dared not be recognized as such, have helped complete the chronicle of the African-American baseball experience. Theirs are the forgotten tales of men rushing to play at the highest professional tier, aware that their immediate offspring would probably be prohibited such an opportunity.

“They are the players who just vanished from baseball’s narrative, like a secret no one talks about,” said the baseball historian Jim Overmyer, who specializes in black baseball. “But it is important to know that they are the beginning of baseball desegregation. Somebody had to do the early heavy lifting, and even if few people know it, these guys were there first.”


“It complicates our understanding of race relations in sports to realize that the color barrier was not a natural outcome of mixing races after the Civil War,” [baseball historian Greg] Bond said. “The fact is there were a lot of blacks on mostly white teams. The color barrier became a choice people made at the expense of people like Grant and White, who then disappeared.”
More good stuff than I can quote, so read the whole thing. Also be sure to check out the slide show. My votes:

Best Photo: Jose Mendez, Louis Santop.

Best Face: Cristobal Torriente.

Best Name: Mule Suttles.

Worst Name: Cum Posey.

Hillary Is Teh Sexy!

Oh my:
Sharon Stone may think Hillary Clinton has too much "sexual power" to be a viable candidate for President. But her womanly charms have earned her a place in New York's Museum of Sex.

In March, Stone declared that it was "too soon" for New York's junior senator to enter the White House race because "a woman should be past her sexuality when she runs. Hillary still has sexual power, and I don't think people will accept that. It's too threatening."

Sculptor Daniel Edwards begs to differ. Edwards, who courted controversy in April with his life-size nude of Britney Spears giving birth on a bearskin rug, has now come forth with his "Presidential Bust of Hillary Rodham Clinton."

The startling sculpture shows an armless-but-bountifully-bosomed Hillary atop a pedestal declaring her "The First Woman President of the United States of America."


Edwards believes his work, which portrays HRC in a plunging evening gown, is anatomically correct.

"It's hard to find many images of her [breasts]," the Connecticut artist tells us. "She usually covers herself up in a professional way. But there are beach photos of her."

Look on the bright side: It could have been a sculpture of Hillary giving birth on a bearskin rug...

Final Reflections On The Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix

Well, what kind of reflections were you expecting?

It's the horn of plenty... of cool reflections!

Getting a bit dizzy...

Some lovely orange-and-blue sky.

Not a reflection, but I really dug the dice valve-cap. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Define "Support."

Just a quick post before I run out to softball. Jane at FDL has posted a letter from a CT Dem serving in Afghanistan:
As some readers may have heard, in January my battalion was issued substandard equipment for our deployment to Afghanistan. Originally, we were issued M-16s rather than M-4 carbines, rifles with shorter barrels and collapsible butt stocks. As a politcally active member of the battalion, I began to get in touch with Representative DeLauro and Representative Simmons, who both responded quickly and enthusiastically. Senator Dodd also responded quickly and gave me prompts on how to further validate my request for weapons.

However, I did not receive a response from Senator Lieberman’s office. I continued to leave messages for both him and his military aide, now senior counselor, Fred Downey, who reprsented Sen. Lieberman at the Battalion’s send off ceremony on Jan. 4. After several messages, I finally received a return phone call. However, I was not met with the same enthusiams expressed by other legislators; I was immediately confronted with an inquisition that seemed to have the purpose of dispelling the belief that the battalion was ill equipped. Rather than listen to our specific concerns, the “benefits” of the M16 were highlighted and teh advantages of the M4 were downplayed.

Lieberman’s office left the impression that they believed we had the equipment we needed, despite the contrasting beliefs of soldiers in my battalion, some who have been on as many as five deployments. The others in Washington were not so quick to abandon us…

Lieberman has never hesitated to voice his support for the war, and recently voted against pulling troops out of Iraq, so where was he when over 500 of his own constituents were being sent overseas to fight on behalf of his great country? It appears the senator was so concerned with climbing the political ladder, he forget what his job is really about: the people…

This letter highlights perfectly what infuriates me about the Republicans, and the message I want to see the Democratic Party shouting from the rooftops:

Supporting the war DOES NOT EQUAL supporting the troops. Opposing the war DOES NOT EQUAL opposing the troops.

You know what "supporting the troops" means? It means wanting them to have the best equipment and armor available, so they have a better chance of coming home in one piece. It means wanting to keep them out of harm's way unless absolutely necessary.

You know what "opposing the troops" means? It means shortchanging the soldiers in the field with inadequate equipment and armor, and the veterans back home with inadequate benefits and medical care. It means inflaming the Muslim world to ensure that the troops have enormous bullseyes on their backs whenever they venture out of their heavily shielded bases. It means keeping them in a dangerous war zone for no good reason, long after even the faintest chance of success has died.

I think yon letter-writer has made it very clear that he would happily trade all the war cheerleaders back home for a few hundred M-4 carbines.

Wednesday Why-I-Love-The-Weekly-World-News Blogging

When life hands you demons, make demonade!
HAVE demons been talking to you lately? Don't panic! You can learn loads of valuable information from the chatty minions of Satan -- including tidbits about future business trends you can use to get rich!

That's the claim of a controversial Bible scholar, who suggests that before phoning an exorcist, you milk demons for all they're worth.

"About 95 percent of what demons say should be ignored -- for example, if they tell you to drown your children," explains Albert Wiltex, author of the upcoming book, How to Use Demonic Chatter to Improve Your Life.

"But 5 percent is news you can use. Remember, demons exist outside of normal time -- they know a lot about the past as well as the future.

"If you skillfully manipulate them, you can get them to slip up and reveal information you can use to become rich, learn what your neighbors are up to and uncover potential family problems."


"Most of what the demons said was blasphemous gibberish," he reveals. "But I also found intriguing nuggets of information -- including the names of hot companies like Microsoft long before they existed."

Here, are some tips on tricking demons into spilling the beans:

1 STRING THE DEMON ALONG -- If the evil entity asks you to sell your soul to Satan, feign interest to keep it talking as long as possible.

2 FOLLOW UP ON CLUES -- If the demon promises that surrendering to Lucifer will make you the richest person in the world in 10 years, nonchalantly ask who the second richest will be then.

"Later do an Internet search for the name," suggests Wiltex. "If you find it's a young entrepreneur, invest in his fledgling business."

3 PRAISE FOLKS YOU WANT TO SNOOP ON -- If you tell the demon your boss is an "upstanding Christian" who says the Devil is full of lies, the demon might shoot back, "He's boinking Judy in accounting" -- a useful fact to have in your pocket next time you ask for a raise.


4 ALWAYS CORROBORATE -- "If the demon says your wife is cheating on you, don't take it as gospel," says Wiltex. "Before you go for your shotgun, hire a private detective to make sure."


"Demons are irrational, hatred-driven spirits almost incapable of logic," he points out. "It's not hard to outsmart them."
That sounds awesome! Where I can find an inorcist?

(On a side note: Multi Medium is the number one search result for warning i am stud next to a ringtone wanker - so consider yourselves warned)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Please Reconsider, Mr. Soros.

Well, the highlight of my weekend (aside from making a perfect throw from left field to home plate on the fly) was the firedoglake book salon with our paymaster, George Soros himself. Those of us who read his new book, The Age of Fallibility: Consequence of the War on Terror. Those of us who *cough* didn't asked him why he hasn't sunk any of his stupefying wealth into developing a liberal or at least objective media empire to counter Fox News and... almost everyone else.

He was... nonplussed to say the least. His first response was to say that if he built a liberal version of Fox, he "would be no better than Murdoch." Okay, I can see that. Lies and propaganda do not become more noble simply because they're on our side. But since it's not every day I get to argue with a gazillionaire (and, quite frankly, my blogging paychecks have been pretty light lately), I pressed on:

Can you elaborate on this? What if you owned a network *different* from Fox, with controls in place to ensure fair and accurate (but aggressive) reporting? Even a nonpartisan, objective news network would be a powerful counterweight to Fox and all the rest, and I don’t think it would cost you your soul.

Or do you believe that such a beast is simply impossible to create?

His response (not just to me, there were a lot of people asking him about this):

I don’t have an answer to the many questions on the media but I know for sure that my owning media is not the answer.

I pretty much dropped the question at this point, as it seemed clear to me that he had given the idea some serious thought, had rejected it, and really did not care to discuss the matter any further. I'm not sure if he thinks media ownership is inherently dirty, or he simply believes his own involvement would be counterproductive or excruciating (i.e., that he would either suck at it, or make himself an even bigger target of the right-wing noise-and-harassment machine).

I know it's hopeless, but I am hoping that Mr. Soros will think about it some more. Firstly, the need is too great to ignore. As I have harped on repeatedly, the media effectively control reality and even history for the large segment of the population that does not approach them skeptically or seek out alternatives. There are limits to how much they can shade the truth and muddy the waters without losing their all-important credibility (which is why Bush's approval rating is down around 35%), but they have done a very effective job of blunting the impact of all of the Republicans' incompetence, greed, and outright criminality.

And standing against them, we have... what? Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Keith Olbermann on the TV side (most important, IMO), Air America on the radio side, and a handful of reporters, columnists, and editorial pages on the newspaper side. And the liberal blogs, which are numerous and excellent (present company excepted), but simply not widely read by the general population.

Secondly, I think this is a wide-open market niche, just waiting to be filled. Consider all the stories that have gone underreported or misreported, like the dodgy pre-Iraq intelligence, the Plame case, shady election shenanigans, illegal wiretapping, straight hookers, gay hookers, corruption, corruption, corruption, just to name the ones I can think of off the top of my head. Now imagine a news network that aggressively investigates and reports on all of these stories. Think about how many people would say "Wow! I had no idea this was going on! Tell me more!" Imagine a network that balances conservatives with genuine, articulate progressives and lets them have their say. Imagine a network or newspaper that doesn't uncritically repeat Republican talking points in the name of false balance. Not only would such a media enterprise get more information and liberal viewpoints widely disseminated, but it would also put a well-deserved dent in the credibility of the corporate media.

Please note that I am not advocating a liberal network, just a network that invites real liberals instead of moderates, fake liberals, and inarticulate milquetoasts to fill the left side of its talking head discussions. Reality is already kryptonite for Republicans, so why go overboard? The mechanisms for maintaining objectivity in reporting will be tricky, however: I'm envisioning a nonpartisan or bipartisan review panel, stocked with experienced, high-integrity journalists or journalism profs, and maybe some online media critics. The character of these individuals would be essential to the success of the enterprise.

Thirdly, Soros would not have to become a hands-on media mogul like a Murdoch or a Moon or a Scaife. If someone can come up with a workable business plan that just lacks money, Soros could infuse it with the needed cash to get it off the ground quickly, but distance himself from the actual operation - a silent partner, in other words. Perhaps this is easier said than done, but my suspicion is that there are a lot of smart people who are up to the job. (Question: I know there are liberal media projects out there; are there any objective ones?)

Granted, the logistical hurdles of getting Objective News Network off the ground are pretty daunting, but I don't think they're insurmountable; and given what's at stake, I can't think of any use of a few billion dollars that would have a more beneficial effect on democracy in this country. Well, okay, maybe establishing a massive "Endowment For Clean Elections" that provides competitive no-strings-attached financing to any legitimate candidate who agrees to forgo all other campaign contributions (or matching funds to candidates who spurn corporate money). Or perhaps a media fund to buy commercial airtime for candidates who agree to accept only individual contributions. Both would be dependent on FEC approval, of course...

So what do you say, Mr. Soros? Are you ready to help Reality reclaim its rightful place in American discourse? If some smart liberals (or non-liberals; I'm not picky) can concoct a workable plan for a nonpartisan, objective media entity, will you back it?

More MyDDiagnosis

Chris Bowers continues the explanation of why Democrats lose:
The habit of the Democratic Party to kill itself via self-referential meta-talk was on full display at the DLC meeting yesterday. Tell me if you can find what is wrong with the message coming out of the conference. From the Mercury News:
Sen. Clinton said the council's initiative can "unite Democrats and elect Democrats.''
Now, when you preface your policy proposals by indicating that said proposals are intended to win elections and unite your party, you have already pretty much ended any chance that people will think you making said proposals because you believe in those proposals. This is because, well, you just said that the purpose of these proposals was to win elections. Americans love it when politicians admit in public that their legislative proposals are designed to win elections.

More brilliant messaging from the same article:
Stone said the council's centrist approach has been the only proven success for Democrats in the past 25 years.
While this is not a direct quote, it is a widely held sentiment in some Democratic circles. It is also utterly self-defeating, since it strongly gives the impression that the only reason Democrats are moving to the center is because they think it will help them to win elections. Not only does this tacitly admit that Republicans have the right ideas and Democrats must move toward those ideas in order to win, it also is a pretty direct implication that Democrats don't believe in anything, but that they are moving to the center solely for the purpose of winning elections.
It's also completely wrong. Clinton won in spite of the DLC's centrism because he's a brilliant campaigner. The DLC's approach has produced an unbroken string of underachieving failure ever since.
The bizarre Democratic need, found most often within DLC-type conferences, to preface any proposal with a public claim that the coming proposal will help Democrats win elections is a major factor in the national belief that Democrats do not stand for anything. If you tell the country that your ideas are designed to win elections, then they won't think you stand for anything except winning elections. And then, well, you probably won't win many elections, because Americans don't like politicians who only stand for winning elections. If you want to do something, then just do it. Throwing the "this will get us elected" qualifier in front of your statements just makes us all look like spineless jackasses who are trying to pull one over on the electorate. If you want to talk faith, or be a centrist, or be a hawk, or stand on principles, then just go for it. Stop wasting our time and making us all look bad by telling us you are doing it in order to win elections.
My take on this is that it's a sales job. The DLC centrists know that their strategies are out of synch with core Democratic values, so they have to claim that they're sure-fire election winners, and thus well worth sacrificing principle and integrity for. Of course, as Bowers points out, they seem to be forgetting that the microphone is on, and just how bad this kind of talk sounds to us Great Unwashed. On the other hand, if Stoller is correct that failure is actually their goal (see below), then that part of it makes sense too...

As an aside, for those of you left hanging by Matt Stoller's comment under my earlier post, Stoller finally did answer my question under his original MyDD post about the anti-progressive, and apparently pro-failure machine within the Democratic party:
My Post: Matt Stoller rocks! Why do the Democrats keep hiring losers? (I'm paraphrasing a tiny bit here)

Matt Stoller: Insider Democrats don't win because they are paid to lose. That's the point of this parallel machine. Who do you think funds third way? (Hint: It's not left-wingers....)

Me: I don't disagree with your comment that losing is actually the insider Dems' objective, but I still don't understand why the congressional Dems (and presidential aspirants, for that matter) would hire professional losers.

Do they not actually want to win, or are they just completely blind to reality?

Matt Stoller: Depends on the politician. Lots of them are insecure divas who desperately want the approval of the Broders, etc. Some are going to become lobbyists and don't want to jeopardize their job prospects. Some want to gain power and don't see how they can do that without having these third way people on their side (Evan Bayh, cough cough). Some just won by marketing themselves as moderates and can't see any other way of winning.
We're doomed.

Vintage Grand Prix Photoblogging IV

And yet still more from the Pittsburgh Grand Prix...

Not sure where the rest of it is...

Rolls Royce!

I love this driver; he is so into it.

Two cars!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Matt Stoller Explains It All To You

Why we lose:
...[W]hile we often talk about the right-wing machine and its structure of think tanks, magazines, etc, we often don't spend enough time understanding that there is a parallel machine within the Democratic Party that wields real power, and fights progressives at every step of the way.... The DLC is part of this machine, and so is Mike McCurry, Steve Elmendorf, Carter Eskew, Joe Lieberman, and Dewey Square.

I'm reminded of this because of a post I read on the Washington Post's blog 'The Fix', by Chris Cillizza, on a newish group trying to put itself in the center of 2008 called The Third Way. ...[H]e interviews prominent Beltway operatives. These operatives are prominent mostly because they've been around for a long time and have relationships with journalists, politicians, and corporate donors.

I find Cillizza's series fascinating, because the people he interviews are basically the institutional memory of the Democratic Party. And if you read what they say, you get a sense of why we've been losing for so long.


Third Way is a total disaster in every conceivable way; the President, Jonathan Cowan, was an advocate for privatizing Social Security. Cowan wasn't just an advocate, he went to the mat for Bush's scheme, going so far as to say that "this entire discussion is really a discussion that's at the heart of whether there's a future for the Democratic Party."...

But back to Matt Bennett, who is today's featured insider. Bennett has basically been a disaster in every role he's ever taken. He was the Communications Director for the Wesley Clark campaign in 2004, and effectively took a powerful netroots driven movement campaign and destroyed it through incoherent corporate-driven messaging. Bennett's triangulating group Americans for Gun Safety was formed in 2000, and its foolish strategies undercut traditional gun rights groups and allowed the NRA to completely destroy Democrats on the gun issue. Bennett is such a loser that he started his career as an advance man for Michael Dukakis, and keeps the jumpsuit from the tank moment in his closet as a souvenir.


This is about the strategy of triangulation, which is in today's world another word for appeasement of extremists. The legacy of Tony Coelho and Bill Clinton is the legacy of triangulation and compromise, only their descendants don't really get what this legacy really meant. Clinton and Coelho were successful with this strategy, pushing progressive policies through a right-wing Congress.... Only, their political heirs don't get that compromise only works with extremists if you are negotiating from a position of strength. You can't triangulate from a position of weakness. And you can't triangulate if your base is corporate money, though you can make a lot of cash and get a lot of quotes in the newspaper while progressives loses.

And that's ultimately the problem with these 'insiders'; they lose and take progressives with them, and learn nothing. Bennett doesn't care that he's screwed up everything he's ever touched. Read the interview; Bennett sees himself as being in the center of the 2008 Presidential debate on the Democratic side even though he's pursuing the same strategies he's always pursued, and has done nothing but lose. So why would he see himself as being in the center of the 2008 debate? Well, I guess because he was on the advance team for Dukakis and Clinton, and he knows some corporate donors willing to fund his next failed center of bipartisan and incrementalist bullshit.

Arrrgh. I can understand why such wankers exist. I just can't understand why Democrats ever listen to them when they are proven losers. Clinton didn't just succeed because he was dealing from a position of strength (was he dealing from a "position of strength" in '92?); he succeeded because he is a brilliant and charismatic politician who gave the Democratic Party an appealing face.

The most charitable explanation I can come up with, other than the uncanny persuasive powers of Al Fromsputin, is aversion to risk (or "cowardice," if you want to be a little less charitable). In other words, the incumbents have calculated that it's better to play it safe and hang onto their own seats and hope the Republicans continue shooting themselves in the foot, than to stick their necks out in an attempt to win big. The Republicans might call them un-American and say all kinds of mean things about them, after all.

The most plausible explanation I can think of is that they don't just want a strategy that wins elections - they want a strategy that wins elections and keeps their corporate sponsors happy, and they refuse to admit to themselves that there isn't one. Or they don't really care one way or the other, so long as that corporate money keeps pouring in so they can hang onto their own seats.

Hmm, come to think of it, both of those explanations sound pretty similar: Incumbency and ass-covering trump all other considerations.

Monday Media Blogging - Emo Philips Glass

I stumbled across this while looking for something else entirely...

It has Emo Philips, Philip Glass, interpretive dance, and ninjas. What's not to like?

Sunday Softball Blogging

Well, our usual problem of lack of players was unexpectedly solved when a bunch of kids who normally play baseball on the same field on Saturdays showed up. I think we ended up 10-on-10 or more, with some people rotating sitting out. I had a pretty good day at the plate, 5-for-5 with 2 doubles, 2 runs, and an RBI. My defense was pretty solid, and I made some of my best throws ever in the early innings - strong, accurate, hitting the catcher on the fly. My accuracy got a little shaky as the game wore on, though.

Current Stats: 14 games, .602 BA (53-88), .989SLG, 12 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 32 runs, 27 RBI.

Career Stats: 41 games, .583 BA (165-283), .781 SLG, 29 2B, 3 3B, 7 HR, 93 runs, 67 RBI.

I love the symmetry. It almost looks like it should be set to music or something.

Also kind of symmetrical. And yes, she does have two legs, in case anyone was wondering.

I'm a happy guy, 'cuz I just rocked an opposite field double. Not sure what the defense is happy about.

Just another lucky day at the ol' ballfield.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Dances With Polls

Well, Quinnipiac's July poll on the CT races finally came out, and it's been so chock full of interesting stuff that I've had a hard time digesting it into anything even halfway resembling a coherent post. But what the hell, I'll try anyway, it's not like coherence is any kind of gold standard for me...

Of course, the two most important numbers are Lamont vs. Lieberman head-to-head for the primary, and Lamont vs. Lieberman vs. Some Republican Guy for the general election. The other numbers are useful for trying to understand where the headline numbers are coming from, and where they might be going.

To the Bulletpointmobile!

o The primary numbers are now 51-47 in favor of Lamont among likely CT voters, way up from 55-40 Lieberman last month. The three-way numbers are 51-27-9 in favor of Lieberman, which is not so hot. Bear in mind, however, that last month it was 56-18-8, Lamont has three months to keep improving, and Lieberman has three months to continue imploding.

o In the three-way election scenario, a narrow 46-44 majority of Dem voters chose Lamont, while Reps and Indies went for Lieberman 58-7 and 54-22, respectively (yes, Joe handily outpolled the Republican candidate among CT Republicans, 58-24).

o The percentage of CT voters who "haven't heard enough about" Lamont to have an opinion of him has dropped from 76 to 51. This is still Lamont's biggest hurdle, but he's making great strides here (it was 90% in May, and 93% in Feb.). It is worth noting that Lamont's other numbers are improving as this number improves - the more CT knows about Ned, the more they prefer him to Joe. Even with what I'm loosely calling "name recognition" at less than 50% (65% among likely primary voters), Lamont is already positioned to beat Lieberman in the primary, which buys him another 3 months of general election campaigning to make himself known to the rest of Connecticut.

o Only 24% of CT voters think Lamont has "the right kind of experience to be a United States Senator," with 39% Nos and 37% Don't Knows. Among CT Dems, it's 31-33-36, and among likely primary voters, it's 37-37-26. This is easily Lamont's biggest hurdle, convincing voters that his resume translates to the Senate. Fortunately, Lieberman's staff has been too clueless to make this a campaign issue... yet. Ned will need to counter this effectively if/when it comes up.

o CT voters think Lieberman "deserves to be reelected," 56-31. It's 68-23 among CT Republicans (this is not as bizarre as it sounds - if you look at approval ratings in the poll, you will see that CT Republicans actually like Lieberman better than Bush), but only 51-37 among CT Dems, and 46-45 among likely primary voters.

o Of the 31% of CT voters who don't think Lieberman deserves to be reelected, 42% chose some variation of "supported the war/not a real Democrat" as their main reason. Among likely primary voters, that number climbs to 56% (surprisingly, Joe's announcement that he would run as an Independent if he lost the primary barely registers: 1% among CT general population and Dems, 2% among Repubs, and 3% among likely primary voters). This is Lieberman's biggest hurdle, convincing Democratic voters that he's not a Republican in Democrat's clothing. I don't think he can do it; his record speaks for itself.

o When asked whether their primary vote would be for their guy or against the other guy, 63% of likely Lamont voters said they were voting against Lieberman, while only 11% of likely Lieberman voters said they were voting against Lamont. This is helping to blunt the effects of Lamont's low name-recognition: Everyone in Connecticut knows who Lieberman is, and an awful lot of them can't stand him.

Overall, I think Ned's in very good shape. All he has to do is stay the course and let Joe continue to make an ass of himself, and he should take the primary. The general election will be more challenging, as he will have to contend with the Republican and Independent votes, as well as a sizable chunk of the Democratic vote. I'm hoping that Joe being a colossal sore loser will hurt him among Dems and Indies, but I don't think Ned can count on that. Ned will have to get himself out there and make sure everyone in CT knows who he is, what he stands for, and that he's qualified to represent Connecticut in the Senate. He'll have three months after the primary - I think he can do it.

I'm Sticking With Photography...

Necessity is the mother of M&M art:
The morning after the opening of a show of his recent work, the artist was in his studio, a concrete cell in the Pelican Bay State Prison, where he is serving three life terms in solitary confinement for murder and for slashing a prison guard’s throat. He was checking his supplies, taking inventory.

His paintbrush, made of plastic wrap, foil and strands of his own hair, lay on the lower bunk. So did his paints, leached from M&M’s and sitting in little white plastic containers that once held packets of grape jelly. Next to them was a stack of the blank postcards that are his canvases.

On Friday night, more than 500 people had jammed into a gallery in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, to assess 25 of Donny Johnson’s small, intense works.... By evening’s end, six of the postcard paintings had sold, for $500 each.


Most prison art, the kind created in crafts classes and sold in gift shops, tends toward kitsch and caricature. But there are no classes or art supplies where Mr. Johnson is held, and his powerful, largely abstract paintings are something different. They reflect the sensory deprivation and diminished depth perception of someone held in a windowless cell for almost two decades.

They pulse, some artists on the outside say, with memory and longing and madness....


He orders his supplies from the prison commissary once a month. The M&M’s are 60 cents a pack, and he gets 10 packs at a time. He puts from one to five of the candies in each of the jelly containers, drizzles a little water in and later fishes out the chocolate cores, leaving liquid of various colors, which get stronger if they sit for a couple of days.

He has tried other candy, but there are perils. “It’s the same process with Skittles,” he said, “but I end up eating them all.”

Sometimes he experiments with other materials. “Grape Kool-Aid in red M&M color makes a kind of purple,” he wrote in a letter to a reporter not long ago. “Coffee mixed with yellow makes a light brown. Tropical punch Kool-Aid granules can be made into a syrup and used as a paint wash of sorts. But it’s a bear to work with and it’s super-sticky and it never dries.”


“I’m not really responding to it aesthetically,” said Brooke Anderson, director and curator of the Contemporary Center at the American Folk Art Museum, “but I’m totally responding from its place of origin. It kind of reminds me of spin art. It feels very psychedelic, like the 1970’s hippie culture.”

Mr. Johnson is working in a rich tradition of art produced in prisons and asylums, Ms. Anderson continued.

“Time and the availability of time,” she said, “has an awful lot to do with an explosion of expression.”
I'm not entirely clear on why the prison won't let him have real art supplies; I guess there's some kind of message here about how Art will always find a way.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


Chris Bowers has some very intriguing CT numbers from Rasmussen, the most pro-Bush of pollsters:
Rasmussen shows Lamont with a solid 51-41 lead (currently, the poll is only available to subscribers to Rasmussen). The previous Rasmussen poll, conducted in mid-June, showed Liberman ahead 46-40.

Rasmussen has consistently shown better results for Lamont than the homegrown Q-poll. The reason, as Mystery Pollster notes, is that this race is very difficult to poll. Clearly, they are using different models for likely voters. Because this is such an unusual race, no one knows what the best model would be right now. It is possible that all polls are off.

In a three way race, Rasmussen shows Lamont and Lieberman tied at 40% each, with the Republican at 13%. It is pretty amusing to see just how hapless Republicans are in this race.
Please let Rasmussen actually be right this time...

Earth? Who Cares?

This surprises... no-one:

From 2002 until this year, NASA’s mission statement, prominently featured in its budget and planning documents, read: “To understand and protect our home planet; to explore the universe and search for life; to inspire the next generation of explorers ... as only NASA can.”

In early February, the statement was quietly altered, with the phrase “to understand and protect our home planet” deleted. In this year’s budget and planning documents, the agency’s mission is “to pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research.”

David E. Steitz, a spokesman for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, said the aim was to square the statement with President Bush’s goal of pursuing human spaceflight to the Moon and Mars.

But the change comes as an unwelcome surprise to many NASA scientists, who say the “understand and protect” phrase was not merely window dressing but actively influenced the shaping and execution of research priorities. Without it, these scientists say, there will be far less incentive to pursue projects to improve understanding of terrestrial problems like climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions.

“We refer to the mission statement in all our research proposals that go out for peer review, whenever we have strategy meetings,” said Philip B. Russell, a 25-year NASA veteran who is an atmospheric chemist at the Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. “As civil servants, we’re paid to carry out NASA’s mission. When there was that very easy-to-understand statement that our job is to protect the planet, that made it much easier to justify this kind of work.”


Dr. Hansen said the change might reflect White House eagerness to shift the spotlight away from global warming.

“They’re making it clear that they have the authority to make this change, that the president sets the objectives for NASA, and that they prefer that NASA work on something that’s not causing them a problem,” he said.

The home planet can get bent. I suspected that starving/de-emphasizing inconvenient climate research (as well as offering up false hope of being able to escape if we trash the plane beyond repair) was the goal all along when Bush made his "Mars, Bitches!" State Of The Union address; I never thought he really gave a rat's ass about space exploration, unless there was oil to be found.

Also, I wonder how long before they add "To boldly go where no man has gone before..."

The Value Of Money

An educational music video of sorts, provided by Atrios the economist.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Sacred Hamburgers

I'll Have A Big MacGuffin With Cheese, Please.

Pseudo-Adrienne's comment about life ending at birth, under my post about President Bush valuing embryos over actual human beings in Lebanon, reminded me of a thought which I've posted pieces of here & there, but never as an actual post of its own; basically about the Republicans' shamelessly insincere use of props and symbols.

Consider all of the sacred entities that the Republicans claim to be defending:

Babies. Republicans speak of embryos and fetuses as though they are actual babies (as long as they're not fertility clinic surplus, of course) They are ineffably precious and must be protected at all costs... until they're born. Once a potential baby becomes an actual baby, all that reverence and compassion and Culture Of Life goes away, and Mommy and Baby are on their own. When was the last time you saw Republicans advocating for more paid maternity leave, or better postnatal care, or financial assistance for poor single mothers?

Troops. Our Brave Young Men In Harm's Way must always be supported, but for Republicans, that support is strictly non-material. Instead of pressing for more and better armor and equipment to protect the troops from physical attack, Republicans seek only to crush dissent at home to prevent the troops from being somehow demoralized. (I would love to see a pollster ask the troops which they would prefer, an end to antiwar talk, or more armor.)

But even the Republicans' patronizing concern for troop morale rings hollow, as they have no problem with using stop-loss programs to keep troops in Iraq for extended tours against their will, or supplementing them with unaccountable mercenaries who make 10-20 times as much money, or putting them in position to do monstrous, soul-killing things.

And as with fetuses, once a troop transforms from an active-duty soldier to a veteran, the Republicans completely turn their back on him.

Marriage. Marriage is very important to Americans, so much so that the Republicans want to pass a constitutional amendment to protect it... from gay marriage. Not from adultery or divorce, which have obvious adverse effects on marriage (although I'm not advocating the criminalization of either), but from The Wrong Sort Of People getting married. In other words, cheating on your spouse doesn't devalue marriage, but letting queers into the exclusive married-people club does. This is naked homophobia masquerading as family values.

Security. This has been the Republicans trump card since 9/12/01, that they are the only party dedicated to keeping America safe from terrorists, but in fact most of their efforts have been dedicated to the exact opposite. They invaded Afghanistan and defeated the Taliban, yes, but they also let Osama bin Laden escape at Tora Bora, failed to secure the country against a Taliban resurgence, and then invaded a country with no ties to al Qaeda, destabilizing the region, tying up military resources, and creating countless new terrorists. And on the home front, they have dragged their feet on securing Soviet nuclear materials, consistently opposed legislation to improve port and plant security, or to route hazardous material traffic away from major population centers. Even their supposed attempts to improve intelligence via torture and illegal surveillance have led to resources wasted chasing down false leads.

Democracy. What could be better than democracy? Republicans love democracy so much that they want to spread it all over the whole world. Free speech, free press, separation of church and state, free and fair elections, civil liberties, rule of law - all that good stuff. Unfortunately, the very values they claim to be fighting for in Iraq and Afghanistan are the very same values that they are fighting against in this country. And with far more commitment and success, I might add.

These are the most pernicious and high-profile examples I could think of, but I'm sure there are hundreds more. The Republicans have managed to cynically and dishonestly position themselves as the heroic defenders of Babies, Troops, Marriage, Security, and Democracy, when in reality they are indifferent to them at best, and actively hostile at worst. Worse yet, they have successfully painted Democrats as the dastardly enemies of all these things Americans hold dear. This is yet another example of why the media is so very important, and why the Democrats need to be more savvy and aggressive, calling bullshit on the Republican framing and spin every chance they get.

Friday Quote & Dog Blogging

This week's quote is from the Russ Meyer-Roger Ebert camp classic, Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls:

"See how she gives her body to the ritual. Delicious."

And, of course, there'll be other people's dogs...

Just chillin' at the Vintage Grand Prix. Dogs love cars, as we all know.

Oh My.

George Harrison singing The Pirate Song. Wow.

From pharyngula by way of Atrios.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


So... President Bush exercises his veto power for the first time ever in five and a half years, to protect those poor defenseless fertility clinic embryos from being plundered for stem cell research instead of just getting, um... flushed down the toilet or something.

But, on the other hand, he apparently can't be bothered to do much of anything for all the post-embryonic Lebanese and Americans that Israel is raining explosives on.

Okay. Just so long as we're clear.

(Note to Israel: Do not bomb any Lebanese fertility clinics, or you'll be sorry.)

Vintage Grand Prix Photoblogging III

Well, I've completely bogged down in my attempt to analyze the new Quinnipiac poll results, so for now I'll just post the Vintage Grand Prix photos that I couldn't put up this morning.

Hope y'all like reflections and blur.

Sweet rims! They're... um...

I'm completely out of my element.

It looks like it has funky stripes, but it's actually under a tent.

More fun with reflections!

I deliberately took some shots with longer exposures, hoping to convey a sense of speed. This was about as good as it got.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Brief Thoughts

1) Atrios sez: "Joe sez he won't run as a Republican."

Eli sez: Joe won't admit to being a Republican.

2) It would be damn funny if Bush's determination to make the presidency all-powerful ended up delivering said presidency to the Democrats. President Gore could really use some extraordinary powers if he's going to clean up the Republicans' mess...

3) I hope the shadowy and mysterious Codename V. has not been eaten by krill.

Wednesday Why-I-Love-The-Weekly-World-News Blogging

This week, the WWN explores the frontiers of psychiatry:
SEXPOT psychiatrist Dr. Cynthia Mesner turns timid and tittering geeks into swaggering studs with an exciting new psychiatric technique that relies on the Freud-like power of her 38-DD breasts!

"Deep-trance modification therapy with mammary adjunct" -- or "nip-notism," as the unorthodox doctor herself prefers to call the technique -- "is useful" in lulling nerds, Weird Harolds and other girl-shy guys into an altered state.

As they continue to stare helplessly at her fully-exposed fun bags -- that's right, she works topless -- Mesner breathlessly whispers a series of "post nip-notic" suggestions that her patients will obey long after she's snapped them out of their trance.

"I tell them they're 'hunky' and 'stud muffins' and say that everywhere they go, they'll drive women wild with desire," Mesner, of Columbia, S.C., told Weekly World News exclusively.

"The technique is far more effective than conventional hypnotherapy. Just getting these young men to look at my chest after I pop the buttons on my blouse is a major accomplishment.


The curvy 32-year-old doctor and former Watermelon Queen says she developed nip-nosis after noticing that men who asked for help with women often couldn't bring themselves to make eye contact with her.

"One morning I was counseling a young man who wouldn't stop staring at the floor so I walked around my desk and lifted his head up with my right hand and forced him look at me," she recalls.

"He was fighting to turn away, so I ripped off my blouse and bra with my left hand and screamed at him, 'Look! Look! They're shirt puppies, yes -- but they won't bite you!'

"He calmed down instantly and, believe it or not, his voice dropped two octaves, from a tittering falsetto to a rich baritone.

"I knew then and there I was on to something.

"So I went to work to develop the full nip-notic technique that I'm using today, which is a marriage of otherwise conventional hypnotherapy, psychoanalysis and 'tough love' techniques."

The sizzling psychiatrist charges $250 an hour for her services and there's a wait of up to six months for an appointment. She accepts insurance and, amazingly, most companies pay for nip-notic sessions.

"Dr. Cynthia took me from dud to stud in just one session," testifies one ex-nerd.

"At the age of 24, I was a virgin who'd never even been out on a date. And now, just six weeks after she nip-notised me, I've got 18 'babe notches' in the headboard over my bed."
Dammit, where was Dr. Cynthia when I was in high school???
(Oh. Right. Grade school. Nevermind.)

Bonus Video Fun

Found on YouTube while looking for music videos.

Human Pong:

Chad Vader, Day Shift Manager:


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I'll take "Things I Will Never Buy" for $400, Alex.

NO. Just... NO.

Be sure to read the product reviews...

Drawing Nearer...

Just a refresher on something I posted a couple of months ago. The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that the Republicans are going to make an absolutely huge deal out of the fifth anniversary of 9/11 as part of their campaign strategy.

Something along the lines of, "On this day five years ago, our proud nation was attacked by cowardly evil men who hate our freedoms. President Bush had the courage and resolve to take the fight to these terrorist criminals, and pour the sweet nectar of freedom over the hornet's nest of the Middle East. The Republican Party has heeded the President's call to arms, and we stand with him proudly to keep America safe from those who seek to destroy her. This November, vote for the party that stands tall, not the party that cowers in fear, seeking only to appease those who hate us."

Okay, maybe not the nectar thing. And the reality will probably be much, much worse than I can possibly imagine, with all kinds of flag-waving and chest-thumping and tearful rhetoric about courage and sacrifice and how we cannot falter in this all-out war on Evil [with the unspoken message that we must not even let the Constitution stand in our way].

Democrats, are you ready? I recommend pointing out just how little the Republicans have actually done to make us safer. If Republicans want to play the fear card, then Democrats should do the same.

Tell the voters how wide open our ports are (and Dubai Ports World apparently still controls 22 of them).

Tell the voters how the Republicans have been resisting any legislation to harden chemical or nuclear plants, or to reroute trucks and trains with hazardous chemicals around population centers.

Tell the voters how much unsecured Soviet nuclear material is still out there.

Tell the voters about how the Taliban is making a comeback in Afghanistan.

Tell the voters about how the war in Iraq has been a recruiting and training bonanza for Islamic terrorists.

Tell the voters about how FBI resources have been wasted on false leads generated by indiscriminate wiretapping and torture.

Remind the voters that Osama is still out there, and why.

The Democrats are under no obligation to reassure the American people that everything is just fine and there's nothing to worry about. Quite the opposite.

Vintage Grand Prix Photoblogging II

More fun from the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix.

Someone walked off the bus with my Treo because I'm a moron, so I won't be around during the day until it's returned or replaced. Sigh.

The interior of, um, something. All I know is that I was in the American Car section...

A Studebaker induces me to relax my "Never appear in my own photos" rule. Oh well.

One of Tucker's less well-known and less successful innovations was to graft a crude compound eye onto all of his engines. He was unable to explain what purpose this served, beyond mumbling something about "flies are cool."

In many ways, our cars are a reflection of ourselves. Posted by Picasa

President George W. Badtouch

Oh. My. God. And you thought swearing with his mouth full was bad, how about sexually harassing a head of state? Photos courtesy of Mash, by way of Taylor Marsh, by way of Digby. I have helpfully added an unofficial transcript.

" 'Sup, Angie? You're looking mighty foxy today."

"A little tense, though. You look like you could use a backrub."

"No, No, I am fine, Mr. President, I- Oh, mein Gott."

"That's it, Angie-baby. Just relaaaax and enjoy it. Ohhh yeah, that's nice..."

"Ah, yes, danke, Mr. President, that was most refreshingpleasegetthefuckoffofme!"

"Well, I guess I'd best be moseying along and see if anyone else needs to be relaxified. I'm the relaxer, heh-heh."

I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.

UPDATE: Siun in FDL comments found a link to the actual video on the Bild website. Merkel looks really, really pissed.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Oh, For The Love Of-

Here I am, happily semi-watching ESPNews, when I see this commercial for, a travel company. A travel company, mind you.

On the other hand, there's also this:

And this:


Monday Media Blogging

Godzilla Vs. Disco Lando.

Very low-rent, but one of my personal favorites.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Return Of Sunday Softball Blogging

After a long hiatus due to weather, vacation, holidays, and insufficient players, we finally got an actul game going this weekend... barely. We started out 5-on-5, and then progressed to 6-on-6. My team lost 13-10, which was pretty respectable considering the other team had all the power hitters. I went 6-for-11 with a double, 3 runs, and an RBI, and just missed a home run. My defense was shaky around the fence, but I made a nice running catch on a shallow pop fly, and made some nice throws. No photos - in a 6-on-6 game, there just isn't time.

Current Stats: 13 games, .578 BA (48-83), .964 SLG, 10 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 30 runs, 26 RBI.

Career Stats: 40 games, .576 BA (160-278), .770 SLG, 27 2B, 3 3B, 7 HR, 91 runs, 66 RBI.

Vintage Grand Prix Photoblogging I

I spent a good chunk of Saturday afternoon wandering around, getting sunburned, and taking pictures of beautiful old cars at the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix. For sustenance, I had a corn dog, teriyaki-chicken-on-a-stick, a scoop of cherry ice cream, and some lemonade, all for a mere $17! Nutritious and economical! I did have a good time, even though I'm only a "car person" in the photographic sense.

I would have liked to see some Duesenbergs or Bugattis, though.

Pretty sure this is a Jag engine.

Quite possibly the most terrifying warning label I have ever seen.

Vroom! Vintage racers taking practice laps.

The most challenging thing for me about photographing vintage cars is keeping my own reflection out of the shot.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Happy Happy Joy Joy

Scout prime just posted this great video at First Draft. It's quite silly, but full of irrepressible joy.

I'm not sure if this guy is incredibly dorky or incredibly cool. Probably both.

Is Ned Enough?

First off, let me restate that I believe a Ned Lamont victory in the CT primary or, better yet, general election would be a hugely great and important thing, because it would establish the importance of the netroots as a force to be reckoned with in its own right, and not just a giant piggybank and pool of cheap labor. I believe that this realization is necessary for the salvation of the Democratic Party's soul. But I'm not sure that it is sufficient.

The Democratic Party's disdain for and fear of the netroots is a symptom of a larger problem, one that I will call "the DLC myth." This myth began when Bill Clinton defeated George Bush I in 1992. Instead of drawing the trivially obvious conclusion that a charismatic and politically brilliant outsider can defeat an unpopular, out-of-touch incumbent, the Democratic cargo cult instead concluded that Clinton's centrism was the secret to his success, and that a triangulating, Run-DLC strategy would secure Democratic supremacy until the end of time.

Obviously, it didn't work out that way. Democrats-who-are-not-Bill-Clinton have suffered a steady string of humiliating electoral defeats against a Republican party that is inept, corrupt, and quite often nakedly evil. And yet, the Democrats, with the eager encouragement of the right-wing commentariat, not only cling stubbornly to the DLC myth, but actually see their losses as a vindication of it. Surely, they think, they are not losing because their opposition to godawful Republican policies and nominees has been intermittent and half-assed. No, they are losing because they can't make all those salt-of-the-earth, middle American swing voters forget about Crazy Michael Moore and Cindy Sheehan and all those other unhinged Bush-hating lefties who want to hug terrorists and and ban Jesus and force everyone's kids to marry gay people. Surely, if they could just run to the center and appease the Republicans a little more, and convince Ma & Pa American Gothic that the barking mad hippie moonbats don't speak for the Democratic Party, they would really start to get the votes in truckloads.

Personally, I think this is just stupid. Failure to consistently oppose Republican policies and nominees stamps the Democrats as spineless and unprincipled, not bipartisan and noble, and it costs them votes all the way across the political spectrum. But hey, what do I know? I'm not a highly-paid political consultant with a proven track record of losing elections.

So, to return to the subject at hand (Ned Lamont - I can't blame you if you've forgotten by now): Would a Lamont victory do anything to expose the falsity of the DLC myth? Alas, I don't believe it would. The same factors that work in Ned's favor (solidly blue state, no Republican candidate to speak of) are the same factors that make his campaign a poor test case for progressive strategy overall. In other words, it doesn't really prove anything to the Democratic leadership if a progressive Democrat beats a fake Democrat in a blue state. Now, if progressive Dems start winning in purple or even red states and districts, then the Democrats as a whole might just jump on progressivism like the 70s jumped on bellbottoms. They might even start to embrace the netroots willingly as partners, rather than grudgingly as yet another power base to be appeased. Caveat: This all assumes that the Democrats have embraced centrism because they sincerely want to win, and are just misguided. If they have embraced centrism as a cover story for doing the bidding of big corporate donors, then nothing will change.

My point is not that a Lamont win wouldn't be the best thing to happen to the progressive movement in a long long time; it would. My point is that I have come to realize that it's only part of the puzzle, and I need to pay more attention to the lower-profile progressive campaigns and candidates around the country, who may ultimately send an even broader and more important message than Ned can. Not just "The netroots are important," but "Progressives can win." And with the Republicans perhaps as unpopular as they have ever been, this may be the best opportunity progressives will have for decades. Unless, of course, Iraq and America continue to free-fall - but what are the odds of that, eh?

Question to ponder: If the progressive/oppositional candidates consistently overachieve in November, and the centrist/appeasing candidates consistently underachieve, will the Democratic leadership notice? And if not, how can we make them? How do we rub their noses in the reality of what works and what doesn't? (Assuming that I'm right about what works, of course)

Saturday I-Got-Nothin' Car Blogging

Well, my political muse appears to have abandoned me so far this weekend, so I'll just post some car pictures before I head out and take some more.

It's a hood ornament! And, um, lots of negative space.

That's... lovely.

A view of the sky in Car-Reflection Bizarro World. Posted by Picasa