Wednesday, August 27, 2008

MONA CHAREN touts Eric Cantor for McCain's veep: "Pick Eric Cantor. Very conservative Va congressman. Chief Deputy Whip. Smart. Articulate. Pro-life."

I'd also add that Cantor looks (and sounds) like Matthew McConaughey, if Matthew McConaughey were a Jewish Republican Congressman with a sound grasp of fiscal policy. So a Cantor pick would be alright, alright, alright with me.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

MICKEY KAUS reports promising news from the Democratic convention:
I went to the Ed Challenge for Change event mainly to schmooze. I almost didn't stay for the panels, being in no mood for what I expected would, even among these reformers, be an hour of vague EdBlob talk about "change" and "accountability" and "resources" that would tactfully ignore the elephant in the room, namely the teachers' unions. I was so wrong. . . . Cory Booker of Newark attacked teachers unions specifically--and there was applause. In a room of 500 people at the Democratic convention! "The politics are so vicious," Booker complained, remembering how he'd been told his political career would be over if he kept pushing school choice, how early on he'd gotten help from Republicans rather than from Democrats. The party would "have to admit as Democrats we have been wrong on education." Loud applause! Mayor Adrian Fenty of D.C. joined in, describing the AFT's attempt to block the proposed pathbreaking D.C. teacher contract. Booker denounced "insane work rules," and Groff talked about doing the bidding of "those folks who are giving money [for campaigns], and you know who I'm talking about." Yes, they did!
If the policy-making mood inside the party is really shifting against the teachers' unions, that is huge, huge news. You have to wonder what's behind the shift, though, since the unions and their members presumably still make up a large part of the Democrats' base and activists. (Has anyone reported on the percentage of Democratic delegates at the convention this year who are teachers' union members? It's historically been large).

Two guesses: (1) the unions' organizing and money has become less important in the netrootsy, online-fundraising environment, and (2) the leadership of the unions is less likely to punish pols for dissenting, possibly because they recognize their waning power and possibly because they actually care a little bit about educational outcomes.

Monday, August 25, 2008

OBSERVATIONS from Patrick Ruffini about the mood in Denver:
The Clinton chatter is dominant. The Clintons will get two nights in Denver -- Hillary Tuesday, and Bill Wednesday. The coverage on the cables so far this morning has been all about the Clintons. High-profile Clinton surrogates complaining about the lack of VP vetting with the RNC/McCain capitalizing, Bill being upset about his speech topic, Hillary jerking her delegates around, effectively telling them "Nevermind" after making a show about the "catharsis" of the roll call a couple of weeks ago. If the Clintons really wanted to screw with Obama's chances, setting up Hillary 2012, this would be the week to do it. And this is what they seem to be doing.
(Via WS.)
Quote of the Day:
"The older I grow, the less important the comma becomes. Let the reader catch his own breath."
~ Elizabeth Clarkson Zwart

Song of the Day:
Elvis Costello, "Almost Blue"

Happy Birthday:
Sean Connery
Elvis Costello
Billy Ray Cyrus
Regis Philbin
Rachel Ray
MARGARET THATCHER has struggled with dementia since at least 2000, her daughter reveals.

Also, controversy over whether Thatcher will be the first PM since Winston Churchill to have a state funeral.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Quote of the Day:
“You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”
~ Mark Twain

Song of the Day:

Tori Amos, "A Sorta Fairytale"

Happy Birthday:
Tori Amos
Claude Debussy
Dorothy Parker

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A GROUP OF college presidents (including Duke's Dick Brodhead) wants policymakers to consider lowering the legal drinking age:

A culture of dangerous, clandestine “binge-drinking”—often conducted off-campus—has developed.

Alcohol education that mandates abstinence as the only legal option has not resulted in significant constructive behavioral change among our students.

Adults under 21 are deemed capable of voting, signing contracts, serving on juries and enlisting in the military, but are told they are not mature enough to have a beer.

One problem with the culture of binge-drinking is that now that it has developed, it won't necessarily go away as soon as you lower the drinking age. The clandestine part may change, but that's different from the binge-drinking -- and the binge-drinking is the big problem. Still, it's nice to see these folks embracing something a bit different from the counterproductive crack-down mentality of the past couple of decades.

(Via H&R.)
Quote of the Day:
“When I woke up this morning my girlfriend asked me, ‘Did you sleep good?’ I said ‘No, I made a few mistakes.’”
~ Steven Wright

Song of the Day:

ABBA, "Our Last Summer"

Happy Birthday:
Kim Cattrall
Wilt Chamberlain
Kenny Rogers

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL has a few observations on Obama's gratuitous slam about Clarence Thomas as not "a strong enough jurist or legal thinker."
So let's see. By the time he was nominated, Clarence Thomas had worked in the Missouri Attorney General's office, served as an Assistant Secretary of Education, run the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and sat for a year on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the nation's second most prominent court. Since his "elevation" to the High Court in 1991, he has also shown himself to be a principled and scholarly jurist.

Meanwhile, as he bids to be America's Commander in Chief, Mr. Obama isn't yet four years out of the Illinois state Senate, has never held a hearing of note of his U.S. Senate subcommittee, and had an unremarkable record as both a "community organizer" and law school lecturer. Justice Thomas's judicial credentials compare favorably to Mr. Obama's Presidential résumé by any measure. And when it comes to rising from difficult circumstances, Justice Thomas's rural Georgian upbringing makes Mr. Obama's story look like easy street.

Glenn Loury called Obama's remarks "a disaster."

As others have noted, what's remarkable is that Obama didn't have to "go there." He could have merely said he believed that Thomas' jurisprudence was bad for the country, and nobody would have thought twice about his answer. Instead he created an opportunity for critics to go after his own thin record.

Quote of the Day:
"It's better to be a pirate than to join the Navy."
~ Steve Jobs

Song of the Day:

Badly Drawn Boy, "Something to Talk About"

Happy Birthday:
Connie Chung
Fred Durst
Benjamin Harrison
Al Roker

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

LAURA McKENNA is peeved at NBC:

I'm getting rather steamed up about the complete silence by the perky staff on the Today Show about the fact that China is an authoritarian government that has a spotty record on human rights and lacks free elections and a free press. Instead, we getting dreamy montages of the Chinese culture and loving descriptions of the Bird Nest stadium. All that is fine. But right after they show a reporter wolfing down roasted bugs in the markets of Beijing, they should also mention that China has denied visas to athletes who have dared protest China's position on Darfur.

Who gagged our media? Is NBC so afraid of getting kicked out of China that they happily serve up dishes of cultural puff pieces and can't even mention that China has refused to allow its citizens to protest?

I share her frustration. In a perfect world, every time the Western press showed Tiananmen Square, they would mention that apart from whatever Olympic hoopla is going there at the moment, it's where this happened. Every single time.

I will say that Bob Costas did a decent job of highlighting China's human rights abuses in his interview with the President on opening weekend. Costas also won me over with his delightful low-key chest-thumping after the Americans won gold in Michael Phelps' first relay.

Of course I, like much of America, have switched away from NBC and the Olympics now that Phelps has done his thing.

MORE ON THE RECENT charges against John McCain, from Dean Barnett:
By all means, let’s focus more attention on McCain’s stint at the Hanoi Hilton. Maybe the Obama campaign will offer up as a counterpoint Obama’s supremely courageous opposition to the Iraq War while on the front lines of the Illinois state legislature.
And more on the state of the race.
Quote of the Day:
"Unto us all our days are love's anniversaries, each one
In turn hath ripen’d something of our happiness."
~ Robert Bridges

Song of the Day:
Chris Knox, "It's Love"

Happy Birthday:
Bill Clinton
Matthew Perry
John Stamos
Orville Wright

Monday, August 18, 2008

THE NEW YORK SUN editorializes on "Obama's War on Women," which according to the editors was declared by Jason Furman and Austan Goolsbee in a Wall Street Journal op-ed:
Meanwhile, the most astonishing sentence in the op-ed is this one: "His plan would not raise any taxes on couples making less than $250,000 a year, nor on any single person with income under $200,000." It amounts to a declaration of war on two-income families, a marriage penalty of punitive proportions. If those two single persons with income just under $200,000 get married, Mr. Obama is going to hammer them with a huge tax increase. If the second earner, who in many cases is the woman, is going to have to give 54% of what she earns to the government, she might as well stay home with the children.
If this is a war on anything, it seems like less a war on women than a war on marriage.

Note that both halves of the couple don't have to be high earners for them to get hit. If the man makes $230,000 as an accountant and the woman makes $60,000 as a teacher, half her income would be taxed at the 54% marginal rate. The couple's net income from her job would barely cover child care in some cities.
BACK TO BLOGGING: As I hinted last month, I'm waking the Kitchen Cabinet from its year-long slumber. I'm not totally sure what I want this blog to be, but I know that I miss blogging when I'm not doing it. I have the time now to do it, so I'm back. Stay tuned.
Mickey Kaus on the revelation that John Edwards played the cancer card to keep any mention of the affair rumors out of the News and Observer last fall:
The story of the Edwards Coverup, which has only begun to trickle out, is certainly providing a useful civic education in how powerful pols actually go about attempting to influence the MSM. It's one of those situations where unsophisticated people probably think the candidate himself calls the top editor directly to baldly influence coverage, while more sophisticated people know there are institutional procedures in place to protect against that sort of crude personal lobbying. Meanwhile, the really sophisticated people know the candidate himself calls the top editor directly to baldly influence coverage.
The N&O's editor spills the beans here.
Vice President Biden? Signs are pointing that way, according to some. Jonathan Cohn approves:
If Biden is the choice, I think it would speak well of Obama's judgment. Biden has a deep and impressive resume: Not only is he the guy who orchestrated the defeat of Robert Bork back in the 1980s, but he can also claim among his legislative accomplishments the Violence Against Women's Act, which is no small feat. He's smart, articulate, and is a bona fide expert on foreign policy: In other words, he's certainly capable of assuming the presidency in an emergency, which is really the most important criteria of all.

Biden's record is not without blemishes: He supported that awful Republican bankruptcy bill--most likely out of parochialism, since Delaware is home to the credit card industry. His performance in the Clarence Thomas hearings was as bad as his performance in the Bork hearings was good. Still, Biden has shown genuine foresight and courage in his career, perhaps most memorably as an early advocate for American intervention in the Balkans. Overall, his voting record is strongly progressive.

The other downsides to Biden are primarily political: He has a habit of straying off message and making impolitic comments, like the time he referred to Obama as "articulate" and "clean." Anita Dunn, Dan Pfeiffer, and the rest of the communicaitons team had better keep antacid handy. But that implusiveness is also one of Biden's strengths: He speaks directly and bluntly, giving him an undeniable air of authenticity.
Undeniable? I could think of a few ways to deny Biden's air of authenticity. From WaPo:
Democratic presidential candidate Joseph R. Biden Jr., a U.S. senator from Delaware, was driven from the nomination battle after delivering, without attribution, passages from a speech by British Labor party leader Neil Kinnock. A barrage of subsidiary revelations by the press also contributed to Biden's withdrawal: a serious plagiarism incident involving Biden during his law school years; the senator's boastful exaggerations of his academic record at a New Hampshire campaign event; and the discovery of other quotations in Biden's speeches pilfered from past Democratic politicians.
All these incidents will, of course, be chewed over yet again if Biden is the choice.
Megan McArdle senses a bit of panic in Obama Nation:
This spring, it was bizarre accusations against Barack Obama: he's a closet muslim, his wife is a black nationalist, etc. Now, suddenly, the Democrats are the one frantically hunting for buried treasure.
She cites this and this.

Elsewhere: "Is Obama Blowing It?"
Quote of the Day:
"It is our choices . . . that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."
~ J. K. Rowling

Song of the Day:
Brandi Carlile, "The Story"

Happy Birthday:
Meriwether Lewis
Edward Norton
Robert Redford
Patrick Swayze

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Quote of the Day:
"Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian; wine and tarragon make it French. Sour cream makes it Russian; lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy sauce makes it Chinese; garlic makes it good."
~ Alice May Brock

Song of the Day:
Prince, "7"

Happy Birthday:
Robert De Niro
Sean Penn
Mae West
Flashback from June 5, 1989: Claudia Rosset's report from Beijing for the WSJ.