Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Cameras are not George Allen's Friends

Wow. Wow wow wow wow wow wow wow.


Lowell at Raising Kaine has a story about an article in The Nation which recounts George Allens connections to a white supremacist group.

Here they are being white with Charlton Heston. (This made me re-think the meaning of "Damn dirty Apes!!!!")

So, we should be in for quite the string of apologies and political acrobatics from the Allen Campaign. And, if the best they could come up with for the M-word was "mohawk" or "$#!#head", the excuses for this could make our heads explode.

This could be the end.

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This is George Allen's America: Disgusting

Newly released Census data show that 1 in 8 Americans and 1 in 4 blacks live in poverty:
"The survey also showed 15.9 percent of the population, or 46.6 million, had no health insurance, up from 15.6 percent in 2004 and the fifth increase in a row."

"It was the first year since President George W. Bush took office in 2001 that the poverty rate did not increase."

"In all, some 37 million Americans lived below the poverty line, defined as having an annual income below around $10,000 for an individual or $20,000 for a family of four."

"The last decline in poverty was in 2000, the final year of Bill Clinton's presidency, when it fell to 11.3 percent."

"'Among African Americans the problem correlates primarily to the inner-city and single mothers,' said Tanner, adding that blacks also suffer disproportionately from poor education and lower quality jobs."

"Some 17.6 percent of children under 18 and one in five of those under 6 were in poverty, higher than for any other age group."

"Real median household income rose by 1.1 percent between to $46,326 from $45,817 -- its first increase since 1999."

That's right, in the greatest and wealthiest country in human history, 20% of children under 6 live in poverty.

All this coupled with massive tax cuts for the ultra-rich, continued underfunding of education and training programs, and continued rejection of an increase in the minimum wage.

By marching in lockstep with the Bush administration, George Allen has neglected and exacerbated the problems of America's poor.

Are these the Christian values that the Senator claims to believe? The Bible talks about the poor countless times but rarely do people like Senator Allen heed its admonishions. They would rather use the Bible to tell others how to act rather than use it as guide for their own actions.

Jim Webb will work to raise the minimum wage, increase quality education and healthcare for all our citizens.

Help this country get back to giving a helping hand to those who need it so they can improve their lives and, by doing so, increase the greatness of our country.

Vote for Jim Webb.

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Monday, August 28, 2006

Two Days of Bombings Rock Turkey

Turkish resorts have been bombed for two consecutive days now. Here are two reports on the incidents, one from Turkish media and one from Kurdish media. (Compare the last paragraphs of each of these articles to illustrate how these groups feel about each other.)

No group has taken responsibility as of yet. However, it is assumed that the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) is responsible.

This continues to stoke tensions between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan, where many PKK members are located. (For more background see here.)

There may be a drastic change in Turkey's response to PKK aggression both from inside and outside Turkey because on Tuesday the Turkish Armed Forces will have a new Chief of Staff, a hard liner who may try to increase the intensity of the response. This co-incides with the US naming a State Department co-ordinator to deal with the PKK/Turkey issue.

Turkey remains skeptical and if they don't see results soon (especially in light of these recent bombings) they may follow Iran's lead and start attacking Northern Iraq. This would further destabilize Iraqi Kurdistan (following attacks in Kirkuk) and, by extension, Iraq as a whole.

Update: Juan Cole has an update this morning:
"Meanwhile, bombings rocked Turkey on Monday. A radical Kurdish group claimed credit, indicating it was trying to sabotage one of Turkey's major industry's, tourism.

The bombings are encouraging Turkey to step up its shelling of northern Iraq, where US-backed Kurdish politicians are harboring the terrorist PKK or Kurdish Workers' Party.

Bombings stretched from Istanbul to southern Iraq on Monday, in a new arc of crisis. This isn't going very well."

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George Allen Keeps Slipping, Webb Keeps Advancing

By now we have all seen the new Wall Street Journal poll showing Jim Webb 47.9% George Allen 46.6%.


Webb's numbers keep going up and Allen's keep going down as Allen et al can't seem to put the M-Word behind them. Even "Meet the Press" took a shot at Allen yesterday. Even if attention to this story dies down,expect it rear up again during the Webb v. Allen debate on "Meet the Press" on September 17th. This equals more (free) exposure and name recognition for Webb and a rehashing of Allen's racially questionable past. On national TV.

We still have to keep pushing to get the message out. George Allen is vulnerable and we need to press the advantage.

Some people have called for Allen to start "going negative" on Webb in response to his recent freefall. My answer to that is: PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE GO NEGATIVE! Is the best strategy for trying todispel the perception that you are a mean spirited bully to put out mean spirited bullying commercials? Probably not, but it is a good way to reinforce that perception, increase Webb's name recognition, and deplete campaign funds.

So, if Allen campaign manager Dick Wadhams holds true to (bungling) form, I'm sure we'll see ads attacking a decorated war hero any day now. That should sit well, particularly with all the active and retired military in Virginia.

(Seriously, people compare Wadhams to Rove. Did Wadhams also commit some act of treason of which I'm unaware?)

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Sunday, August 27, 2006

"Meet the Press" Moment

Robert Novak on Democrats chances of taking control of the Senate on today's "Meet the Press":
"It's hard for them in the Senate to pick up the six seats. You can even count the five and not get to six but Senator George Allen of Virginia is doing his best to try to make that sixth seat reliable for a Democratic win."
Eugene Robinson (Washington Post) used the M-word as a throw-away line.

When you're a (Bush administration rubber-stamp) Republican and (Bush administration shill) Bob Novak calls you an ass, you've got problems. Especially when he's mentioning your stupid gaffe on national television.

Keep it going guys!

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Friday, August 25, 2006

The Ban on Federal Funding of Embryonic Stem Cell Research Does not Have a Leg to Stand on

Yesterday saw the advent of a new era in embryonic stem (ES) cell research. Researchers at a private company in Boston have found a way to generate ES cell lines by removing a single cell from a two-day old embryo. Removing this cell does not reduce the viability of the embryo.

Incredible. Amazing. Ethical crises averted. Last one out, turn out the lights…

…(sigh) if only.

The President still opposes this line of research. People say he has a tin ear but this is maddening. Why is he still opposing it? Because right wing conservatives have decided (if you can decide something without even considering anything) that they still oppose it.

All of the benefits, none of their concerns. What more do they want?

These embryos have a cell removed, then they go into a liquid nitrogen freezer right next to the other 400,000+ IVF embryos that will never, ever see the light of day again. That is reality and (with the exception of the Catholic Church) no one ever says a damn word about it. I’ve written about this hypocrisy before.

Candidates should immediately call for a rescinding of the executive order that denies federal monies to ES cell research. DO NOT ACCEDE TO THE ASSERTION THAT ES CELL RESEARCH TAKES LIFE! (Aside from the fact that this claim is dubious at best, to not strongly make this point would undermine all previous assertions to the contrary.)

Despite the fact that traditional ES cell research is not immoral, researchers have gone to the trouble of finding a way to assuage the fears of a vocal minority (despite not sharing those fears). It must be pointed out that, despite this attempt by scientists to address the ethical concerns of hard-right conservatives, the hard-right conservatives are still unwilling to let the research move forward. This, in the face of the great benefit to humanity that ES cell derived treatments will be, is unacceptable and should be treated as such. The intractableness of the religious right on this issue will either label candidates who stand with them as wildly out of touch with mainstream America (2/3 of whom approved of ES cell research before this new discovery) or, for those who reject it, alienate them from their base.


The best part? Maybe, just maybe we can move out of the black hole that stymied ES cell research and begin to catch up with the rest of the world

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The M-Word: Day 12

I didn't want to but this just keeps going.

Big story on SR Siddarth the Indian-American Virginia native who was the target of the M-word/Welcome to America comments. More from The Post.

Between stories about how much they love Ned Lamont and ubiquitous ads for the return of "Real Time with Bill Maher" (who is neither funny nor insightful and who's hair makes him look like Sam Francisco from "Alien Nation") the Huffington Post has a commentary about George Allen. This puts their coverage of this at only slightly pathetic.

Brendan Nyhan has another good post on this today.

Oh, and BTW, the approval of OTC "Plan B" - the contraceptive that all true right-wing conservatives hate - will make George Allen's stock in the company that makes it go up. No hipocrisy there.

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V: The Stem Cell Soap Opera Continues

Guest Blogger V is back with the latest on the embryonic stem (ES) cell issue:
Human stem cell lines can now be established from single cells removed from 8-cell embryos. This news is significant, but it is neither surprising nor unanticipated. This was done with mouse embryos last year and there have been some recent rumblings that a report of similar success with human embryos was imminent. Well, its here. More significantly however, this technological achievement (while commendable) does not really affect the core ethical issues with human ES cells. I submit that while this method is technically superior, it is not necessarily ethically better than what is already prevalent. In fact, making the claim that it is ethically better will damage the pro-stem cell movement in the long-term--- it will be falling into the trap of drawing arbitrary lines, making implicit concessions and opening up debates where none are necessary. Because, folks, even this technological advance still relies on IVF embryos. So one does not have to destroy the IVF embryo while establishing a stem cell line. But then what? What happens to the embryo from which the cell was taken? Is each such embryo always transferred into a mother in an IVF pregnancy attempt? And then what are its chances? Or does it go into a freezer like the 400,000 others and get destroyed eventually? Robb has written about the hypocrisy attendant to this. So, at the end of the day the embryo is still not actually better off than any other IVF embryo---so what’s really different? In my opinion, calling this new technique ‘ethically better’ is playing feel-good semantics.

The new reports also talk about possibly hitching this stem cell derivation procedure to PGD (pre-implantation genetic diagnosis). This brings about an issue that I have been tempted to raise on prior occasions and will now. The administration’s stance on the PGD issue is as fraught with hypocrisy as its stance on the IVF issue. Why do people perform PGD? Well, PGD is done to detect genetic defects that can lead to diseases like cystic fibrosis in IVF embryos before implantation. And what do you think people do with embryos that are shown to carry faulty genes? No one attempts to implant them; rather these embryos are destroyed. So if, as this administration claims, these embryos are ‘human life’, how is the selective destruction of these embryos conscionable? How is that acceptable over the destruction of any other IVF embryo? Moreover, is it OK then to destroy a newborn child who is diagnosed with an undesirable medical condition? (I know that sounds really harsh and extreme, but I’m following their logic here---After all, according to the administration’s ‘human life’ stance there should be no difference in value between that genetically defective pre-implantation embryo and that genetically defective newborn child, correct?) And why has the administration not embarked on a crusade to outlaw PGD since the day it took office? It has had plenty of time to do so, and clearly it claims to value human life soooooo much. Once again, you can clearly see the administration’s hypocrisy here. Hey, if you believe that pre-implantation embryos are ‘human life’, then march in the streets and urge the administration to outlaw IVF, PGD etc. And if you believe otherwise, urge them to make stem cell research fully legal and fundable. Enough of the politically expedient horse manure from the ignorant or the manipulative. Let us force them to take a position and have the integrity to back it up. As Robb pointed out in his original article only the Catholic Church has been really consistent on this issue---and so while I disagree with their view, it is hard for me not to respect the consistency in their stance. The administration’s stance merits no such respect.
Anyways, let us please return the focus of the human stem cell debate to the key issues: (1) The fact that ‘potential’ is vastly different from ‘inevitable potential’ and (2) Consequently that (as I’ve argued before) the idea of pre-implantation embryos being ‘human life’ is flawed.
And that, to quote Forrest Gump, is all I’m gonna say about that.
For now anyways.
I'd also like to point you to Darksyde over at Daily Kos who discusses the 5-year anniversary of the Bush administration's ban on federal funding for ES cell research. I'll be back with more on ES cells later today.

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

This is Why They Hate Us

"I'd like to thank my invisible friend for being here today."

"Can I get a shorter podium?"

"This is what I do when I want to make a right turn on my bike."

"What do you mean 'What's with your arm'?"

"Does this jacket look OK? I mean, I liked it in the catalog but now...I don't know."

"Look at my hand! Don't look at the giant picture of my broken Easter egg!"

"I hate the Great Satan thiiiiiiis much!"

Please, join in...

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Do You Want A Draft in 2007? Decide Now

Juan Cole makes the point this morning that the call up of 2500 marine reservists is one step closer to overextending the volunteer military and one step closer to reinstituting the draft.

I think this is something that should get more attention now, because there is, obviously, no way a draft will be instituted before the November 7th election. It would be political suicide for those in power. A draft would be the death knell of the remaining support for the war. That is why people need to be aware of the possibility now while they can still do something: vote.
"This was the plan in 1973: Dump the draft. Count on volunteers. When something big comes up, rely on the reserves and National Guard.

A special commission had told Richard Nixon the country could suffice with a smaller all-volunteer, active-duty military unless something really big came up.

Only in the case of a long-term, large-scale foreign deployment — define that as more than six months and 100,000 troops — would there be any need to bother with a draft again."
We have gone significantly past 6 months and 100,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan (remember Afghanistan?). President Bush reiterated this week that we would not pull out of Iraq while he is President which is another almost 2 1/2 years. This is obviously untenable as we have been in Iraq for 3 1/2 years and so-called "backdoor" drafts are already necessary. This isn't a question of "cut and run" v. "stay the course" (neither of which are actual policies, BTW unlike Joe Biden's proposal, which is at least worth discussing) it is a simple question of numbers.

People need to make a decision: for the war or against it. And if we are for the war then the American people need to be made to realize that continuing it will require real sacrifice. WWII type sacrifice. That may mean rationing (particularly of gasoline), that may mean travel restriction, that may mean higher taxes, it sure as hell will mean more casualties. It will mean more than simply deciding which color "Support the Troops" ribbon to put on our cars. It will mean more than just being good little consumers.

These sacrifices have been acceptable to Americans in the past. In fact, they have often been worn as a badge of honor by a country united against a common enemy. Our political leadership has failed to prepare us for this sacrifice, or even to ask for it. Instead we act as if changing our lifestyle in anyway is a tacit declaration of surrender to our enemies.

War requires sacrifice. If we think the Iraq war is not worth sacrificing for (and judging by recent polls, most Americans do not) then we should end it in due course rather than put all the sacrifice on our overstretched military (and those who will subsequently be drafted into it).

The worst part is, to effectively fight the war on terror, we will need the support of the people because it will be a long battle. Losing support for conflict when conflict is necessary will be a difficult way to fight an extended and complex war.

November 7th is your chance to decide.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Pics From Today's President Bush Breeze By, Part 2

More pics from today:

Heartwarming bipartisan sharing of the shoulder (with the happiest cop in the world)

All in all it was good to see people come out who care enough to take the time to do this sort of thing (even though they know the President won't pay any attention).

Keep up the good work everybody!

Oh, and here is my favorite picture from the entire event:

Inconvenienced rich people!

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Pics From Today's President Bush Breeze By, Part 1

Well, The President may not have slowed down for long enough to read any of the signs or register any of the opinions of the people who came out to greet him on his way to former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie's house for a George Allen fundraiser, but they were there all the same.

First off, my two favorite signs:

Ah, gay cowboy jokes, will they ever get old?

The classics never really go out of style.

Secondly, bored children who were told by there parents that they support George Allen:

Way to be ready with the camera, Robb (at least the batteries didn't die this time):

Secret Service SUV

Ambulance? Did Cheney come too?

Most importantly, the Webb folks outnumbered the Allen supporters 2 to 1.

To be continued...

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A Rare Opportunity

Here is the "Letter to the Editor" I wrote to the WaPo last week. I figured since they aren't publishing it, I might as well.
I commend you for "George Allen’s America" [page A12, Aug. 15]. However, it is important to remember that George Allen's comments are just another in a long list of reasons why Virginians should vote for Jim Webb on November 7th. This year, instead of having to choose between the lesser of two evils, Virginia voters have the unique opportunity to greatly improve the quality of our Senator. The choice between Jim Webb and George Allen is crystal clear:

George Allen believes that Insurance and Drug companies should be able to charge Virginians whatever they want for healthcare, he blindly follows the President's policy on stem cell research (along with everything else), and has voted against raising the minimum wage four times. Not to mention that he avoided military service in Vietnam yet fully supports the Iraq war now.

By contrast, Jim Webb believes that "affordable healthcare is a right all Virginians should have", he supports ethical stem cell research to provide cures for some of the world’s worst diseases (including Alzheimer's, diabetes, and cancer), and wants to raise the minimum wage, a measure that is long overdue. Also, Jim Webb is a decorated Vietnam vet who has opposed the Iraq war from the beginning and has a plan to get us out.

Virginians are the luckiest voters in the country this fall because we have a rare opportunity to pick a qualified leader to represent us instead of an embarrassment of a rubber-stamp politician.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Turkey v. PKK Update: 8.23.2006

Here is the summary from Turkish and Kurdish media concerning the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) for the last couple of days:

The PKK has been sabotaging natural gas pipelines in Turkey.

PKK members have been captured in Iran.

Turkey is not happy with the way the US is dealing with the PKK in Kurdistan. A handshake deal between the US and Turkey seems to be uneasily holding things together.

The New Anatolian tries to explain the problems the Iraqi Kurds are having dealing with the PKK.

Turkey sees a double standard in the way the US allowed Israel to attack Lebanon to get at Hizbullah but won't let Ankara respond in kind to the PKK in Iraqi Kurdistan. They also reject an IRA or ETA-esque disarmament followed by political dialogue.

Another opinion piece sites a poll in which 90% of Turkish Kurds don't want an independant Kurdistan (I guarantee you wouldn't get that result in Iraqi Kurdistan - I mean, its right there in the name).

Here's something fun: Sean Connery is going to star in a historical movie telling the story of a Kurdish tribe. This could be a rallying point for Kurdish nationalism. Don't laugh. Remember "Braveheart"? That movely led, in part, to the creation of an independent Scottish Parliment. So, you never know.

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I Just Got Back From Phone Banking at Webb HQ

[For those of you who are unfamiliar with this, when you talk to a caller who supports your candidate, you ring a bell.] There were a heckuva lot more bells ringing today than when I was there a week ago.


In other news, today saw the first YouTube campaign ad for Jim Webb.

It starts out a little goofy but it makes it's point. My favorite part was the stem cell bit with the words "stem cells" flying around. I guess showing a cell-culture dish with some stem cells in it isn't as impactful as a destroyed humvee or hurricane damage.

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Come Tell The President What You Think of His Support for George Allen

Raising Kaine has the details of a fundraiser President Bush will be attending for George Allen in NOVA.

Details are also included on a rally to show the President what Virginians think of his support for Allen. Come out and let him know what you think.

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Nyhan with More on Allen

Brendan Nyhan has another post this morning on George Allen.

He cites op-eds from the L.A. Times and the Wall Street Journal.

The L.A. Times isn't a big surprise but, when the WSJ editorial staff starts taking shots at him, you have to wonder how many friends Allen has left.

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Another Reason I Love TiVo

Interesting AP article this morning talks about how DVRs are making it easier for people to avoid political ads on TV. This makes actual newscasts (which are often watched live and, thus, no commercial skipping) more important for political advertizing. Not to mention the importance of free exposure on newscasts (I think we all know what I'm talking about here).

So, things like the "Welcome to America" incident, televised debates (particularly nationally televised debates like the upcoming "Meet the Press" debate between Webb and Allen on September 17th) will be even more important than before.

This may have the additional effect of negating some of the advantage a much more well-funded candidate may have (for example, I know I fast forwarded through those George Allen commercials that were on TNT about a month ago - money well spent).

Challengers like Webb need to find more innovative (or even more traditional) strategies than throwing money at TV to get name and message out to people.

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Monday, August 21, 2006

More Fantastic News

NLS has more crazy good news: A new SurveyUSA poll has Allen 48% Webb 45% (which is within the margin of error for the poll).

On top of that, NLS breaks down the undecided voters and shows a clear advantage for Webb.

The upshot is: the race is a dead heat. So, now is the time to push! See below to donate or go here to volunteer. This is going to happen but we all need to pitch in.

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Jim Webb Stands For: Ethical Stem Cell Research

As I said this morning, I am tired of the M-word story. Hopefully, it opened a lot of people's eyes and will continue to open people's eyes. However, if Jim Webb wants to win this race he needs to get his ideas out to the public so that they can vote for him rather than just against Allen. So, today I will begin the first in a series of posts discussing what Jim Webb is for and how his positions differ with those of George Allen.

So, for the first entry in this series, I am going to cover an issue on which I have some expertise: stem cell research. [Brief background: I worked with mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells in graduate school. For previous posts on stem cells, see here.]

Jim Webb recognizes the incredible potential of ES cell research.
Diseases that could potentially be treated or cured using ES cell-derived treatments: diabetes, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, some forms of cancer, multiple sclerosis, cardiovascular disease, paralysis. Not to mention the possibility of regenerating entire organs from a patients own tissue, rendering transplant rejection a thing of the past.
Chances are most of us know someone who has been afflicted with at least one of these diseases.

Jim Webb supports the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act which was passed (finally) by Congress earlier this year. This act would allow federal funds to again be used on a broader array of stem cell lines (in other words, it would have helped move the science forward). George Allen voted against it and, after President Bush vetoed the bill, George Allen voted to uphold the veto.

What are the consequences of this policy? Well, for one thing, countries like Singapore and South Korea (where stem cell reseach is unencumbered) are moving ahead of the US in this field. As a friend of mine put it:
"[I]f a Korean group makes a breakthrough and figures out a way to cure Parkinson's or diabetes or cardiovascular disease using ES cells, flights to Korea would be sold out for years."
(For more on the business and political aspects of the US falling behind in this research, see here. ) To summarize: if we let other countries get out in front of us on this technology we lose control of it. We do so at our own peril.

Furthermore, on a point I have covered before, voting against the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act means that the vast majority of the 400,000+ embryos in this country that are the excess by product of in vitro fertilization will be destroyed. That's right, destroyed. No snowflake babies, just embryos that were unwanted or unsuitable for implantation. As a direct result of the Bush Administration's stem cell policy (which is fully supported by George Allen), these embryos will be destroyed rather than used for potentially life-saving research (which means fully formed people will die).

Does that sound representative of the "culture of life" of which George Allen consideres himself an ardent defender?

This one is simple:

A vote for Jim Webb is a vote for ethical stem cell research, where the US remains a leader in Science & Technology and where people with horrible afflictions are given new hope.

A vote for George Allen is a vote for a world where the US falls behind in a frontier technology and our citizens suffer the consequences medically, and economically.

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The M-Word: Day 8


First off, the name change. I was listening to the inagural Bearing Drift podcast yesterday (pretty solid all around - lots of good commentary - I only cringed a couple of times) and they made the point that if George Allen's slur was analogous to the N-word than why are people saying it all the time? Point taken. So, its the M-word from now on.

The M-word has dropped off the Technorati Top Searches after briefly surging back to #7 last night.

Govenor Kaine mentioned Allen's remarks to the Indian Association of Virginia.

Also, there was some video of George Allen dressed as a Confederate General and singing about Southern rights in the movie "Gods & Generals". Some people tried to throw this on the pile with the rest of Allen's questionable racial baggage. Look, it was in a movie. Big deal. In my mind the more striking thing is that Allen likes to rip on California (despite being a native Californian and raising a ton of money in the state) and Hollywood specifically. But I guess Hollywood is OK if the "moguls" (BTW, has anybody used that word since the '30s?) are putting you in a movie. It speaks more to hipocrisy than anything else.

Oh, and its hard to blame him for taking the role as this was the only time he's ever gotten close to wearing a uniform.

Update 11:15 AM: The LA Times has an editorial castigating Allen's comments.

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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Macaca: Day 7

Day 7, seriously? OK, here we go...

Technorati Top Searches: #12 Macaca

The Washington Post has a story about George Allen and how his remarks have effected his relationship with Indian-American groups.

Nothing on "Meet the Press". David Gregory (filling in for Tim Russert) asked John McCain about the campaigning he is doing around the country, but left out the fact that McCain stumped for George Allen this last week. Weak. Nothing (in what I saw) on "This Week". I haven't seen "Face the Nation" yet.

Also, this is a good piece on what we need going forward.

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Macaca: Day 6

Wow, I never thought there would be a day 6.

Technorati Top Searches: Macaca rebounded to #13 after dropping off last night, George Allen is still long gone.

Yet another front page Washington Post story sums up the current reaction: Jim Webb is up, George Allen is down. Another Post article re-caps Allen's previous racial problems and compares him (unfavorably) to George W. Bush.

The Daily Press talks about the damage this incident has done to Allen at the polls, while a letter to the editor from another Virginia-born Indian-American wonders why Allen "hasn't welcomed me".

Also, if you missed it, "The Newshour" talked about Allen last night.

Finally, someone at the Huffington Post has gotten around to weighing in on Webb v. Allen.

Can't wait for the Sunday talk shows.

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Here's My Outrage

From on High is wondering where the outrage from the people who have been pounding on George Allen all week is regarding the (also) obviously bigoted remarks made by former Atlanta Mayor and UN Ambassador Andrew Young. Who, earlier this week, said:
"Well, I think they should; they ran the mom-and-pop stores out of my neighborhood.

"But you see, those are the people who have been overcharging us, selling us stale bread and bad meat and wilted vegetables. And they sold out and moved to Florida. I think they've ripped off our communities enough.

"First it was Jews, then it was Koreans and now it's Arabs; very few black people own these stores."
First of all, I'm not sure why bloggers in Virginia should be so up in arms about statements by a guy who is not and has never been an elected official in this state but, From on High, if it makes you feel any better: These are idiotic, racist statements and it is deplorable that Young has not been held to account for them.

Oh, wait...

Actually, Young has resigned (or was forced to resign) from Wal-Mart because of these remarks. That would be what is known as accountability. Young is taking (or being forced to take) responsibility for his stupidity. He also gave a real apology:
"I retract those comments," he said in a statement. "And I ask for the forgiveness of those I have offended."
Not an "I'm sorry if he was offended by it" apology.

Let me know when George Allen takes responsibility for his remarks by resigning, or is held to account by being forced to resign (or actually apologizes).

So, to re-cap: Andrew Young and George Allen both made racially insensitive statements this week, but only one of them took responsibility for it (Young) and only one of them still has a job (Allen).

There's some outrage for you.

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Friday, August 18, 2006

YSK: I Amuse Myself

OK, I'm kind of a jerk.

I posted a critique of some "humor" on Hampton Roads Politics. Political views aside, if we as a people can't ridicule each other in actually humorous ways, what do we have left?

So, I offered the following responses to "Insider's" Top Ten Ways Jim Webb Can Win:

10. Stay in California
I'm sorry, who's from California?
8. Change the Allen-tailing volunteer to a woman - C'mon, Jim! Democrats gotta call people racists AND sexists to win. Ya missed a whole special interest group!
I didn't realize "women" were a special interest group, I thought they were 51% of the population.
7. Change his campaign theme to "Hakuna Macaca"
"Hakuna macaca"? Seriously? Apologies to "Family Guy" but are there any "Titanic" jokes you wanna make while we're catching these cultural phenomena at the height of their popularity?
4. In every debate, whenever Allen says something, respond with "That's a bunch of macaca."
This one is pretty good.
3. Every time a terror plot is thwarted, change the subject to Allen's race relations.
Yes, do that every time George Allen tries to claim some reflected glory in being tangentially related to the Bush administration who were occasionally briefed on a British foiled terror plot. (Again, comedy gold.)
and the number 1 way Jim Webb can win

1. Get a mohawk!
Mohawks are sweet!

No comment on the rest because they are simply not funny. They don't even walk up to funny to nervously ask it if it comes here often. Yakov Smirnoff wouldn't wipe his @$$ with this stuff.

I covet your scorn.

Then he replied to me:
Criticize "catching these cultural phenomena at the height of their popularity" and then bring up Yakov Smirnoff?


Touche, however I'm not sure if he zinged me or proved my point.

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"The Newshour" Finishes off the Week in Style

Just to make sure the macaca incident did not go gently into that good weekend, PBS's "The Newshour" had a nice re-airing of the video so everyone can remember.

The best part? David Brooks was "away" and whoever did they find to replace him? Ramesh Ponnuru, Senior editor of National Review, water carrier for the conservative agenda and...wait for it...INDIAN AMERICAN. How will he resolve the obvious conflict between shilling for Republicans and an insult that may well have been directed at him. Watch him dance, watch him twist, watch him be...totally, completely sensible about it (after a half-hearted attempt to conflate this remark with similar idiotic comments by Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton:
MARGARET WARNER: Now, the person George Allen was welcoming to America, talking to and about, was S.R. Sidarth. He's an American of Indian descent, a lifelong Virginian. He's now a University of Virginia student and a volunteer for Allen's Democratic opponent, James Webb.

And, Ramesh, the blogosphere went wild over this. Legitimately so?

RAMESH PONNURU: Well, I think so. You know, partly it's because George Allen is considered a presidential hopeful for 2008, and partly because of just the weirdness of the entire incident and the fact that it was captured on tape. I mean, Indian-Americans, we've really been taking it on the chin from senators lately, between Joe Biden talking about the 7-Elevens, and Hillary Clinton about Gandhi having run a gas station. I don't know what it is with the senators these days.

MARGARET WARNER: So do you think it was a racist remark?

RAMESH PONNURU: I think at the very least it indicates a certain lack of political judgment on the part of George Allen and a certain kind of vindictiveness. To go after a 20-year-old, you know, who's working for the other campaign, just it makes you wonder whether this guy is really ready for primetime...

...MARK SHIELDS: I know. I mean, Macaca, he said, was a term that meant "Mohawk" haircut. And you saw the fellow's haircut. It was not a Mohawk haircut. Macaca and Mohawk have nothing there at all. Then he meant nothing, then if he did mean to hurt anybody feelings, he pleaded no malice, then ignorance.

And it was really a bizarre -- and at one human level, it really bothered me, and that was you've got 100 Caucasian faces in the room and there's one non-Caucasian there. And he singles him out. I mean, it was a bullying tactic; it was not appealing human way of treating somebody else.

He tried to isolate and humiliate another person, and especially a younger person who obviously didn't have the same resources of confidence and stature that Allen did.

MARGARET WARNER: And it's -- well, go ahead, Ramesh.

RAMESH PONNURU: Well, I mean, you know, George Allen wants to position himself as the Reaganite candidate in the 2008 race. Reagan would never have done anything like that.

MARK SHIELDS: That's absolutely true...

...MARGARET WARNER: Now, there were some defenders of Allen who noted, as you did, that other senators have made remarks about Indian-Americans, about African-Americans, but that southerners are held to a different standard. Do you think that's the case?

RAMESH PONNURU: Southerners are held to a different standard. Republicans are held to a different standard. Presidential candidates are held to a different standard. I mean, so what? I mean, George Allen ought to know these things if he, you know, wants to be the kind of public leader that he's trying to be.

MARGARET WARNER: Do you think southerners are held to a different standard?

MARK SHIELDS: Probably so, I mean, especially a southerner like George Allen, who, as Trent Lott made the terrible mistake of saying at Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday the country would have been better off if, in 1948, as an arch-segregationist for segregation of the races, that Strom Thurmond had won the presidency.

And George Allen initially defended him, then turned on him. And his sister reports in the book she wrote of the family -- not a particularly flattering portrait -- that he was addicted to all sorts of -- even though he grew up in southern California, all sorts of Confederate memorabilia, and pins, and in his lapel, and all the rest of it. So there were questions already raised...

MARGARET WARNER: It's not just that he's a southerner, you're saying? There's a history there.

MARK SHIELDS: So I think Tom Rath, the respected Republican operative in New Hampshire, said, "It is not a way you want to be introduced to the national political stage."

Thanks PBS!

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YSK: Iran and Turkey Shell PKK in Iraqi Kurdistan

I have to apologize for neglecting this story of late. I have been so caught up with other things that I haven't kept a very close eye on the situation between Turkey and the Kurds (although I have been putting together a pretty long piece on what I think the outcome of this conflict will be - that should be up soon).

Unfortunately, things seem to be heating up. Via Daily Kos: Iraqi Kurdistan is being shelled by Iran and Turkey (mostly Iran). They are, of course, trying to hit the PKK which has been performing guerilla incursions into each country as well as providing material support to indigenous Turkish and Iranian PKK separatists.

The joint nature of this attack is bad news for the Bush administration. If the Turks acted alone, the administration could try and smooth this over between the Kurds and Ankara (which might mean moving more coalition troops into Northern Iraq - not something the US wants to do given the state of the rest of Iraq). If Iran acted alone it could be pretense for what many suspect, i.e. that the US wants an excuse to attack Iran. However, since both countries are aiding each other in this fight, the US might not know which way to jump.

As I've said earlier, this whole situation has the potential of pushing one of our only Middle Eastern allies (Turkey) closer to one of our biggest adversaries (Iran).

The Peshmerga (Iraqi Kurdish militia) could deal with the PKK if they really wanted to. The US needs to make sure that this situation is dealt with immediately and decisively before it opens up a new front in the region.

(I thought it was funny that the poster at Kos was wondering why he hadn't heard of this - because you didn't come here.)

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Macaca: Day 5

Well, its friday. Friday is the day that stories traditionally die. If people want something to be forgotten they announce it on Friday afternoon (remember Porter Goss's resignation?). So, lets see if macaca will make it through everyone's booze addled weekend (I'm looking at you Russert, Stephanopoulos, and Schieffer).

For now anyway...

Technorati top searches: #7 macaca, and "George Allen" has fallen out of the top 15. (But really, what can compete with "Snakes on a Plane"?)

Via Virginia Progressive: Op-eds in the Washington Post and the Richmond Times-Dispatch as well as a Letter to the Editor in The Free Lance-Star are not kind to the Senator.

My general sense is that people think this is going to get worse for Allen before it gets better (if it gets better). National money is starting to come in for Webb because people are seeing that he really does have a chance.

There's also an interesting article in the Christian Science Monitor about how YouTube is effecting this year's elections, and it starts with Allen.

More great press for the junior Senator here, here, and here.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Fantastic News

The word is that the Rasmussen Reports poll (first poll post-macaca) that is coming out tomorrow shows:

George Allen: 47%
James Webb: 42%

The previous Rasmussen poll was Allen 51% Webb 41%. Also a Survey USA poll (via NLS shows that the macaca incident is hurting Allen and - strikingly - 44% had not yet heard of the incident. So, there are a lot of people that may still be turned off by Allen.

Also, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is raising money for Webb.

Jim Webb is going to campaign in SWVA despite the fact that, according to Allen, he has never been there and won't go there (except that he has and he is). BTW, here is Jim Webb's response to Allen's assertion that he won't go to SWVA:

Lastly, Bill Clinton is coming to fundraise for Jim Webb. Whatever you may think about Clinton, he will put money in the bank for Webb.

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Jim Webb on Real National Security, Part 2

Here is a summary of Jim Webb's speech from yesterday on National Security. Some highlights:
"National security policy under the Bush-Cheney Administration is in total disarray. There is no end in sight to the conflict in Iraq, the Middle East is out of control, Al Qaeda is stronger today than 5 years ago, and homeland security is being neglected. These difficulties have come about, in large part, because those who are leading us lack the kind of strategic vision that has served our country so well in past eras. George Allen, by blindly following the Bush administration and neglecting his constitutional duty as a Senator, bears great amount of responsibility for the state of American foreign policy."

"Issues in the Middle East are closely connected to matters across the globe to which we need strategic solutions. For instance, China has been developing closer ties with the exact Middle Eastern countries that pose challenges to the US. This is a dangerous and neglected alliance that we need to address."

"First and foremost is Iraq...America needs – and deserves – a real debate: about all these issues, and about our strategy in Iraq itself."

"For more than two years, Jim Webb has been proposing a formula that might lead to the end of our occupation of Iraq. The first step would be for this Administration to say unequivocally that our country has no desire to occupy Iraq in the long term. It has not done so...We should not build permanent bases in Iraq. If we’re leaving, we don’t need them, and it sends the wrong message. In the short term, we could move our troops out of the country but within the region – strong possibilities could be Jordan and Kuwait. This would give us the ability to contain the terrorist threat within Iraq without continuing our occupation. From there, we could then bring them home when we’re sure the withdrawal is working."

"The second step would be for us to begin immediate discussions with those countries that are culturally and historically invested in Iraq, and arguably aligned with us, to become overtly involved in a diplomatic solution, taking responsibility at some level for future stability among Iraq’s competing factions. This is do-able...As you might recall, during the first days of that action, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Bahrain all condemned Hezbollah, as did the Beirut government, for inciting the Israeli attacks. By not taking advantage of those gestures, we lost a great opportunity to bring some long-term stability in both situations. But, we should continue to pursue these sorts of solutions, just as we should work to break Syria apart from its unnatural alliance with Iran through direct discussions – something this Administration, with the strong support of George Allen, as refused to do."

"Senator Allen has made it clear that, no matter how things are going, he will not question, let alone review and re-examine, the policies of the Bush Administration. Jim Webb, in contrast, has the experience – both on the battlefield and off – as well as the willingness and, most importantly, a strategic vision for doing so."

"We must forego the slash and burn political tactics that have marked the last six years, and reach for a true solution to the war in Iraq and the chaos in the Middle East."

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