Last month, ThinkProgress noted that a bar owner in Georgia was selling t-shirts comparing Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) to Curious George; last week, the Black Congressional Caucus Foundation received a t-shirt in the mail featuring a similar image. Continuing this racially-charged theme, a stuffed monkey toy called “The Sock Obama” has now been made available online:
TheSockObama is made with high quality knit materials to capture the nostalgic look of the Sock Monkey that we all know and love. Staying true to his root, he is hand stuffed with just enough filling to give him a firm, but huggable feel. The removable suit jacket offers two looks for this future President – All Business or Hands On.
Kyle E. Moore at Comments from Left Field explains the racial connotation: “Simian depiction and derision of black people is nothing new. But the specific mechanics as to why it is such an abhorrent racist practice should be lost on no one. In the universal present sense, it’s a matter of subjugation through dehumanization.” (HT: Hoffmania)
I just got off the phone with a Congressional staffer, who couldn’t quite focus on the issue we were supposed to discuss because she is working overtime on the floods in the Midwest. So I turned on cable news, and found out that the floods are plastered all over, much as the wildfires in California were in October of 2007. And just like 2007, the major environmental groups are AWOL on the most covered climate event of the year so far.
As ThinkProgress noted, Senate conservatives deployed obscure parliamentary maneuvers to interrupt two Senate Judiciary Committee hearings this week, one on torture and one on consumer and worker protections. American News Project happened to be filming both hearings, and caught the disruptions on tape. Watch it:
With his testimony cut off short, a witness in Wednesday’s hearing quipped: “The era of good feeling hasn’t yet begun.”
The Hill reports this morning that “at least 14 Republican members of Congress have refused to endorse or publicly support Sen. John McCain for president,” adding that “more than a dozen others declined to answer whether they back the Arizona senator.” Though some lawmakers “declined to detail” why they wouldn’t support McCain, others cited “major concerns” about McCain’s policies on energy and Iraq.
Republican members who have not endorsed or publicly backed McCain include Sens. Chuck Hagel (Neb.) and Jeff Sessions (Ala.) and Reps. Jones, Peterson, John Doolittle (Calif.), Randy Forbes (Va.), Wayne Gilchrest (Md.), Virgil Goode (Va.), Tim Murphy (Pa.), Ron Paul (Texas), Ted Poe (Texas), Todd Tiahrt (Kan.), Dave Weldon (Fla.) and Frank Wolf (Va.).
Additionally, a “handful” of other GOP lawmakers have made a distinction between “endorsing” and “supporting,” saying that while they won’t endorse McCain, they will vote for him in November.
Asked yesterday by Fox News’s Neil Cavuto if he was “willing now to endorse John McCain,” Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) deflected the question, saying “it’s been nice talking to you.” “I’m probably going to vote for John McCain, that’s as far as I’m going to go,” allowed Tancredo. Watch it:
One of the most prominent conservatives withholding support from McCain is Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE).
“I never understand how anyone in any realm of civilized discourse could sort through the big issues and challenges and threats and figure out how to deal with those without engaging in some way….”
Hagel then offered a wry tweak of his GOP colleague. “I am confident that if Obama is elected president that is the approach we will take. And my friend John McCain said some other things about that. We’ll see, but in my opinion it has to be done. It is essential.”
McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds dismissed The Hill’s tally, saying that “John McCain has strong support among Republicans and even some others in the Congress for taking principled stands.”
As I wrote yesterday, I think the anger among McCain supporters over McCain’s “it’s not too important when the troops come home” gaffe is less about McCain’s statement being taken out of context, and more about people no longer interpreting McCain’s incoherent answers in the most charitable way possible.
This is not true of MNBC’s Andrea Mitchell and Lee Cowan, however, who begin their segment yesterday by throwing a block down for McCain. Watch it:
Marc Ambinder also had this odd defense of McCain against unfavorable interpretations of his remark:
The context makes it clear that McCain is reiterating his position that the presence of troops isn’t the issue; instead, it’s the casualties they receive. The differences between McCain and Obama are clear enough; Obama wants a bare-bones U.S. presence in Iraq, and McCain is willing to tolerate a much larger one; Obama believes that the presence of U.S. troops exacerbates the tension and gives Iraqis a crutch to delay political reconcilliation. McCain does not. One would think that those differences are a sufficient basis upon which to launch a political attack.
Leaving aside why Ambinder feels the need to certify this or that difference as a “sufficient basis” for political attacks, I would argue that McCain’s dismissive attitude about when the troops come home from Iraq is obviously fair game. Most Americans want the troops drawn down within one to two years; McCain wants them to stay in Iraq until he feels that “victory” has been achieved, which is just a cut-rate Churchillian way of saying that he wants them to stay indefinitely.
Whether McCain personally appreciates the troops’ sacrifice isn’t particularly relevant. What is relevant is that McCain’s policies would require the troops and their families and communities to sacrifice more and more and more, until some unknown time when the disastrous decision to invade Iraq is judged to have been sufficiently redeemed, and the reputations of its architects and advocates rehabilitated.
McCain and assorted flacks suggest that, since Al Qaeda wants us to leave Iraq — a questionable assertion, given that keeping the U.S. in Iraq in order to bleed its resources is one of AQ’s stated goals — we must therefore stay, lest the terrorists win, the terrorists apparently being defined as everyone who wants us to leave Iraq.
This is the catch-22 of the U.S. presence in Iraq: For that presence to be legal and legitimate, it must be it must be under an agreement by the Iraqi government. But it is extremely unlikely that any Iraqi government that agrees to an extended U.S. presence — especially on the terms the U.S. is currently demanding — will be viewed as legitimate by the Iraqi people. And around and around we go.
It’s common knowledge that Vice President Dick Cheney had a less-than-stellar record at Yale, where he left — or was kicked out — after two years. Today, Cheney revealed on Chaz and A.J. in the Morning’s radio show that he attended two kindergartens because “I got kicked out of one school and had to go to the other one.” Cheney’s interviewer retorted, “Well, you showed them, huh?”
For months the deniers have been extolling the fact that the Arctic sea saw record refreezing last fall. And they have been claiming that this somehow fits into the (absurd) claim that the planet is now in a major cooling trend.
But back in the real world the planet keeps warming, and the Arctic is taking the worst of it, which could lead to potentially catastrophic methane emissions from the tundra, as noted here. The National Snow and Ice Data Center just reported (here):
Arctic sea ice still on track for extreme melt
Arctic sea ice extent has declined through the month of May as summer approaches. Daily ice extents in May continued to be below the long-term average and approached the low levels seen at this time last year. As discussed in our last posting, the spring ice cover is thin. One sign of thin and fairly weak ice is the formation of several polynyas in the ice pack.
No surprise that a recent survey of leading experts with the international Arctic science community found they expect a “continuation of the recent trend of sea ice loss” this summer. How exactly does this year’s sea ice extent compare with last year and with the 1979-2000 average? NSIDC has a great figure (click to enlarge):
Although ice extent is slightly greater than this time last year, the average decline rate through the month of May was 8 thousand square kilometers per day (3 thousand square miles per day) faster than last May. Ice extent as the month closed approached last May’s value.
Okay so the ice area is shrinking fast. What about thickness — an equally important determinant of how fast the ice will disappear?
A new Pew poll surveying 24 countries finds that there is “a widespread belief that U.S. foreign policy ‘will change for the better‘ after the inauguration of a new American president next year”:
People around the world who have been paying attention to the American election express more confidence in Barack Obama than in John McCain to do the right thing regarding world affairs. McCain is rated lower than Obama in every country surveyed, except for the United States where his rating matches Obama’s, as well as in Jordan and Pakistan where few people have confidence in either candidate.
Today, however, Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi said that he has a “personal preference” for McCain because he “would no longer be the oldest person at the upcoming (Group of Eight summits).” McCain is a month older than the 71-year-old Berlusconi.
Maybe I’m just out of touch or something, but I haven’t heard much of anything about Death Cab for Cutie’s newish album Narrow Stairs that they released last month. Indeed, I didn’t even realize it had been released at all until about a week ago when a friend offered me a ticket to their show earlier this week at Merriweather. Well, I got the album, I went to the show, and it all makes you recall that Death Cab is a really band!
Pitchfork, in full-on hater mode, gives it a 6.0 and makes remarks worthy of ninth grade like “surely Death Cab’s awkward position as one of the few indie rock groups with a platinum record would be enough to drive anyone to drink” but it’s a good record. I promise! One doubts anything here will convert non-fans, but decent folk will like it fine. “Bixby Canyon Bridge” is the best, the extended intro to “I Will Possess Your Heart” was annoying to watch live but, to me, works on the album.