Friday, February 29, 2008


Ben Stein is playing at being a sort of right wing Michael Moore in Expelled, a film that whines because, in effect, people don't want their children to be taught creationism. Obviously marketed to the religious set (I like the not-so-subtle bleeding cross for the X) the film doesn't have to have a wide release to make money. It can be shown in churches and the like, and the DVD release will probably do well. The success of the Left Behind books and Passion Of Christ demonstrated the existence of a huge market for something like this.

As or the film itself, the hallmarks of modern conservatism are all there: carefully crafted propaganda that refuses to deal with the actual issues (arguing creationism is a sure loser, so they argue for "free speech" instead); casting themselves as victims of some powerful, elitist organization ("Big Science" actually sounds funny when you look at it, especially considering that "Big Science" is all but entirely owned by Big Industry, but Big Industry has Big Money Friends, and so is sacrosanct in a right wing film); and a core angry irrationality that wouldn't look twice at genuine reason if you plated it in gold and crusted it with diamonds. But they don't have to be reasonable to make this film and make money out of it -- that's the beauty of it all. They have a target audience that wants to be told certain things whether those things are true or not, that wants, as all of us do, to have its world view affirmed, and is willing to pay for it. And so this film. And there will almost certainly be more like it, made to appeal to different segments of the conservative public, more clearly defining the boundaries of their own world, a world that is 10,000 years old, a world that was created in six days, and so on.

I'm reminded of George Orwell's words to the effect that technology, far from bringing people closer together, actually puts up barriers between us. More people are made ignorant by the radio, for example, than are educated by it; I can find more palpable lies in the average issue of Time than I can verifiable truths. We're beginning to use sophisticated technology to shut our borders down; cable television is becoming a screaming contest between the deranged and the greedy; and of course, our military has become so powerful that we don't really need to talk to other peoples. All this isolates, isolates both the country from the rest of the world, and different sub-populations within the country from each other. You can talk to a devout Christian of a certain type and wonder if you grew up on the same planet, let alone in the same country, so different are the basic beliefs groups live by, and films like Expelled are going to exacerbate -- are made to exacerbate -- that situation. It isn't 1936 in this country yet, but when I look around me, I don't feel we're all that far away, either. The world Orwell was writing about eventually recovered its sanity, but only after many millions of lives were lost. We seem to be losing that sanity again, and given that the world we're in now has atomic weapons (another example of technology driving wedges between people) this recovery could be expensive indeed.

The WSJ does it -- again.

Not in Time, or Newsweek, or the NYT. Nope, only the Wall Street Journal talks about stuff like this:

Given McCain’s reputation for reaching across the aisle and his daily pledge to treat Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton with respect, Washington Wire was a little surprised to hear McCain using the same language.

“One thing I’m not any good at predicting is the outcome of Democrat elections,” he said Tuesday aboard his bus, dubbed the Straight Talk Express. A day earlier, he had mentioned his “Democrat friends” to a Cleveland-area audience.

Asked aboard his bus about the “ic,” he replied, “I’m sorry, I usually say Democratic. They prefer Democratic, so I try to say Democratic… It offends some members of their party, so I’ll say Democratic if that’s what makes them feel better.”

Yep, it's minor stuff in one way, but it really should be talked about for several reasons, not the least of which is McCain's claim about what a straight-shooting standup guy he is. And of course, it highlights the death grip that wingnuttery has on conservative political discourse: a sitting president went around the country pulling that childish stunt in a desperate attempt to score votes, and now McCain thinks it's a winning play as well.

Now that Murdoch is running the WSJ, I wonder how long you'll be able to see things like this anywhere. Because of the insanity of its editorial pages, the Journal enjoyed the status of a right-wing bastion. This gave it cover against the charge of "liberal media," and along with the commitment of the Bancroft family to maintaining the paper's tradition of excellence, allowed the actual reporting it did to be the best in the country -- honest and fearless in a way that no other national publication has been in almost 20 years. Murdoch doesn't do, or tolerate, honest and fearless. I'm really going to miss that paper.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

A bunch of kooks

We aren't a bunch of kooks! We aren't, we aren't! At least so says Jonah Goldberg:

In the next few days, there will be a wave of liberals — Frank Rich comes particularly to mind — who will use WFB's memory to beat up on today's conservatives. Ramesh and I wrote a piece about this tendency last year. Liberals today bemoan how wonderful the conservatives of yesteryear were solely to lament how terrible they are today. The recent bout of Goldwater nostalgia on the left was a perfect example. The strange new respect liberals have for Ronald Reagan would be another. And you can be sure they will use Buckley to that effect too.

A quick point about Goldberg's -- all too typical -- word choice: the mean liberals are going to "beat up" on the poor, hapless "conservatives." Not attack, not compare unfavorably, not try to beat up -- they're just going to go out there and do it, by printing a few words in a column. And poor Jonah is just going to have to take it. Maybe if Jonah cries harder and louder (is it possible?), the mean bully Frank Rich will leave him enough money to buy a cookie for lunch.

But what interests me is the overall lack of a real argument here. Goldberg doesn't say exactly how the liberals are going to "beat him up" using Buckley. That the movement he's a part of is radically different from the one Buckley helped to create, that Buckley abjured the parts of that movement -- bombing Muslims -- nearest and dearest to Goldberg's heart can't be discussed; neither can the fact that Goldwater himself said the Republicans had been taken over by a "bunch of kooks". Or at least, these things can't be discussed by Goldberg, who wants that particular carton of rotten eggs left unopened. Anyone who does discuss them is waved away with the phrase "beating up conservatives."

Had Jonah been serious about this he would have explained why thoughtful criticisms of modern conservatism using Buckley as a foil are wrong, or even that they just overstate the case. But he didn't (couldn't?). Instead, he ignores all that. What he does say is Buckley was an "American hero" who faced "vicious criticism from the left" but in the end, succeeded anyway, despite "unrelenting opposition." It's pretty obvious that this is how Goldberg sees himself: a victim -- he's always the victim -- of "unrelenting opposition" from the "vicious left" who nonetheless perseveres and will, in 30 years, be seen as an "American hero", just like Buckley, and Reagan, and Goldwater before him. And maybe he's right. I just don't remember any of those men crying all the time.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Words fail...

Proof that the NFL doesn't place a high premium on Wonderlic scores:

I've sat through some pretty awful job interviews, and this one ranks right down there. "I'm a hard worker, I have a good work ethic." Apparently he's not a hard enough worker to put at least a few rote answers to obvious questions in place before announcing his campaign. I guess we don't have to worry about his commitment to the job, or his understanding of how important a job being a U.S. Representative is. Hey, the founders wanted citizen legislators....

Too much information

This is an unfortunate side-effect of the electronic dissemination of information, particularly in a decentralized environment like the internet:

This analysis, passed along by GWU's John Sides, confirms what we've been hearing anecdotally: Early voting in Texas does not bode well for Hillary Clinton.

When you had only two media (TV and radio) capable of instantly broadcasting information, like an exit poll, you could install gatekeepers. And in fact, once the networks realized they could be impacting elections, they made it a policy not to release the information until voting was concluded. Now we have stuff like this, somebody's speculation about some data a week before the actual vote, and -- thanks to the internet -- it's out there just as if Walter Cronkite had announced it on the evening news. Maybe not to as many people, but that's coming, too. How do you install gatekeepers among the entire population of computer users? You can't. Obviously, you're going to have to tighten controls over the gatherers of this information, if you decide to do something about it at all -- which I'm in favor of. Let people vote, then count the votes. This stuff -- predicting an electoral outcome using someone's rough analysis of a rough collection of data -- is absurd.

I don't understand why nobody in the print world had thought about this and formulated some kind of policy. Or maybe they did, and this was the result of their decision. Either way, it's the sort of thing that deserves public debate, and I ain't seen any public debate about it.

*Addendum. Now that I think about it, I think it was people in West Coast states complaining about exit polls cheapening the value of their votes that made the networks adopt this policy. So another way of looking at it is a market-based restraint of trade self correction. Adam Smith would be proud. Anyway, the overall point still stands about the internet being too efficient a distributor sometimes, because people in California can complain all they want, and people in New Jersey are still going to publish what they please, as long as they have the information in the first place. Just don't give it to them. I can't think of any reason the number of absentee ballots/pre-votes cast needs to be released before the actual election.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

How long before McCain realizes he isn't subject to the Clinton rules, and can indulge in whatever slams and cheap shots he likes without repercussion? My own guess is he'll publicly decry the nastiness, but essentially shrug and say he can't do anything about it, and be lauded for his principled impotence. It'll be easy for him to do, since this sort of stuff is the absolute staple of a major part of the Republican base, and would go on with him or without him -- but he could still do something about it, if he chose. But he won't choose. If he starts getting his ass handed to him he'll even get nasty himself, and maybe -- maybe -- then he'll be criticized some, but only because he's getting his ass handed to him -- journalists are pack animals, and love piling on the loser in a fight like this.

Monday, February 25, 2008


I have this "Chimpomatic" thing on my home page; it randomly displays a Bushism whenever the page is loaded. It's there not because I like making fun of Bush -- never that -- but because it actually gives insight, I think, into the man himself:

You can take the words and actions of almost any public figure you want out of context and make him or her look like an idiot, and in fact, that's exactly what's happening with lots of the "Bushisms." What interests me about them, though, is that I think they reveal something about the man himself. Cull the ones that happen when he's searching for the right words and picks the wrong words instead, from the ones where he simply screws up, and the former sound like they come from an actor who's forgotten the script, and can't continue because he doesn't really feel the part. Here's an example, taken (almost) at random:

"I think it's important for those of us in a position of responsibility to be firm in sharing our experiences, to understand that the babies out of wedlock is a very difficult chore for mom and baby alike. ... I believe we ought to say there is a different alternative than the culture that is proposed by people like Miss Wolf in society. ... And, you know, hopefully, condoms will work, but it hasn't worked."—Meet the Press, Nov. 21, 1999

No one who actually cared about the issue of teen and accidental pregnancy, or the broader issue of abortion, would talk like this. Even if you slipped up and lost your train of thought, which happens to all of us at times, you would still have thought about the issue enough so that you had a sort of private script to call on -- the right, or at least rightish, words would come out naturally because they, or the sentiments they express, are genuinely your own. With Bush, they aren't really his own sentiments (and keep in mind that abortion is supposed to be an issue that the Christian Bush cares about deeply) , so he ends up blurting out nonsense, with a complete absurdity -- probably a half-remembered bit of preparation ("Remember to say that condoms don't work, George") -- tacked on at the end. I doubt Bush is all that stupid, but he isn't all that bright, either, and he clearly isn't bright enough to overcome a lack of belief in the principles and values of the movement he is supposed to lead. The result is stuff like the Chimp-o-matic, and a country that has lost its way after seven years of political, not just verbal, Bushisms.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Reading a review of Redacted, and started thinking about controversial wars and the films they spawn. There have already been several films about Iraq; in addition to Redacted there are In The Valley Of Elah; Rendition; Lions For Lambs, and probably one or two I'm forgetting. All of them have been bombs at the box office, although Redacted, which is getting a lot of negative publicity, might end up doing some business when it is released. All of them got at least decent reviews, except Lions, and I wonder how much the reviews of that film were influenced by Tom Cruise backlash. Then I started thinking about Vietnam, and couldn't think of a single movie about it that was released when it was actually going on, except the jingoistic Green Berets. All those great films we think of with regards to Vietnam -- Full Metal Jacket; Platoon; Apocalypse Now; Go Tell The Spartans; The Deer Hunter; along with the lesser films like Coming Home and so on, weren't made until after the war was over (M*A*S*H is a special case, as it ostensibly wasn't about Vietnam, and further disguised its subversiveness behind a shiny veneer of comedy).

Why are there films, thoughtful, critical films, about Iraq rolling out now, when the war is still going on, when Hollywood waited until after Vietnam was over with to start making similar films about that war? It doesn't surprise me now, and shouldn't have surprised the Hollywood people, that these films have been box office flops, so why did they make them anyway? Genuine alarm about the direction of the country (my bet)? Bush hatred? Lack of other material to spend money on? Did other social movements, like the civil rights struggle, suck up all the liberal energy of the Vietnam era? Has Hollywood itself changed, become more liberal, more socialistic and America hating? Has Hollywood simply become more courageous? Did the success of Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 fool producers into thinking there was a market out there that didn't actually exist? It really makes me wonder. These are important films, discussing important topics, and in future years will probably be viewed as such, I just don't understand why they came out now, as opposed to in a few years.


And since we're on the subject of films, I see that Marion Cotillard won best actress for La Vie En Rose. It was well deserved, and in fact, I thought Rose was the best film I saw in 2007. It deserved its win for makeup as well, as Cotillard's transformation from waif to wreck of a middle-aged woman was a stunning achievement, but it was simply a brilliant film from start to finish, Kane without the grandiosity and murkiness, albeit without, also, the innovation and ambition. I would put it on my list of 10 best films I've ever seen. Of the ones actually nominated, I'll go with Atonement, although I didn't see Juno, so who knows. Javier Bardem was good in No Country, but I wonder how much of that was him acting, as opposed to him just being himself. I thought Tom Wilkinson, next to Cotillard, turned in the best acting performance I saw in '07. Swinton was excellent, but she usually is; I liked Ruby Dee in this slot, who reminded me of some aunts on my father's side. In the Best Actor category, Daniel Day-Lewis just reprised his role as Bill The Butcher; I didn't see anything spectacular. I kept expecting him to tap his glass eye with a knife. Clooney was very good, but nowhere near the best. Viggo Mortensen surprised me in Eastern Promises just by taking a role like that, but he was no better than Clooney overall, I thought, although both were certainly fine. I'll go with Tommy Lee Jones, an old guy who is only now doing his best work.

Make way for Ralphie!

Here he comes again. As always, he manages to reinforce every Republican talking point against the Democrats in his "crusade against the corporations." There is simply no slimier person on the political scene today, anywhere, than Ralph Nader. He exists to attack Democrats and enable Republicans -- that's all he does, and outside of whatever consumer work he did, all he ever has done.

The fascinating thing is that the media are always eager to give this crackpot copious amounts of coverage. No other marginal third party candidate gets anywhere near the attention he gets. In this case, he gets to announce on Meet The Press, and his announcement is spread on every news outlet in America. Despite all this attention, and despite outspending him 4-1, in 2004 he barely outpolled the Libertarian candidate, Mike Bednarik, .38% - .32%. I'm willing to bet that not one person in 100 could tell you anything about Badnarik, and yet, as Ron Paul's campaign this year demonstrates, there is a vibrant Libertarian movement out there, which is, however, virtually ignored. Nader, now, a foolish old man who has done more to hurt the cause he claims to support than anyone outside of the Beltway, is big news.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Here's an interesting, and typical, anti- trial lawyer rant. Now, Greenspun is one of the smartest people you will find anywhere; he also has a long track record of doing public-spirited stuff. But as soon as he starts talking about politics all his intellect turns to mush, and he becomes indistinguishable from some drunk arguing in a bar:

A couple of guys in Florida went out for a night training flight in 1999 in a Cessna 150, produced between 1958 and 1977, which is probably the very cheapest training airplane available (this one had 12,878 hours total time; the NTSB did not report the number of hours since the engine was overhauled). Flight schools in Florida are renowned for skimping on maintenance. An exhaust valve stuck open, taking the rest of the engine with it. They crashed on a road and were injured. A trial lawyer managed to convince a jury that the design of the carburetor was defective, leading to overly rich fuel/air mixture, and causing valves to stick. Precision argued that this carburetor design dated from the 1930s and was installed in tens of thousands of airplanes, many of which were flying at flight schools all day every day. The jury sided with the badly injured pilots and awarded $38 million against Precision, a 43-employee company (story).

He goes on to admit being a "layperson," but blames the whole thing on the "trial lawyers" anyway. That a judge and jury were involved and actually made the decision that Greenspun finds so reprehensible doesn't matter; neither does the fact that the other side had their own lawyers defending them. Nope, it was the greedy, conniving, all-powerful trial lawyers. To finish off his "it's all the trial lawyers' fault" argument, he links to a page written by ... yep, an aircraft manufacturer's organization.

It seems to me that when someone of Greenspun's abilities chooses to "argue" in this fashion, they are displaying an essential contempt for politics. If this were a debate about, say, the potential role of computers in improving education in the inner cities, there is no way that Greenspun would argue this flaccidly. But it's politics, so it's perfectly OK to turn off your intellect and let your id take over. Politics deserves the best of us, but we give it our worst, and I don't know why that is.


Here's some more Greenspun-inspired typing. How could a fish like this escape the net of men? Either there's more to that fish than that description lets on, or us men is dumb. I know from personal experience and self observation that when someone is single past a certain age there's generally a good reason for it. Besides being attractive, educated, 37, and single, another obvious warning sign is her choice of advertizing venues. Greenspun is a wealthy geek, and so, I would imagine, are the vast majority of people who read his blog. My guess is "Clarissa" isn't as unmercenary as she claims in her ad. There are, after all, far more traditional places where you can put yourself out there. But if you're looking for a certain kind of man, Greenspun's (wealthy ex-entrepreneur who indulges in expensive pasttimes like photography and aviation) audience is a damn good place to troll.

Friday, February 22, 2008


Rummaging through a box of CDs, and found my Chieftains CDs. Several years ago I heard a beautiful, haunting piece on the radio the announcer called "Napoleon's Retreat" by The Chieftains. Much more flush with cash then than I am now, I bought, online, every Chieftain's CD I could find in's catalogue. The song wasn't on any of them, and I promptly stored the CDs away, never to be played again, until now, when I was looking through that box for something else and found them, instead. I burned them onto my Zune, and am playing them now, and what do you know? I like that kind of music. And remembering the song itself, I just did another search, and think I found the album it's on, which I've just ordered. If the song turns out to be on that album, it will be one bit of unfinished business I've actually managed to finish.

Some other CDs in that box: Foreigner's Agent Provocateur; 90125 by Yes (the first CD I ever bought), and a few other titles I'd as soon not type out, along with a bunch of classical and jazz stuff I don't listen to anymore. Memory from youth: listening to the first movement of Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto over and over and over. I realized then, and still know now that there was genius in that music that comes along once a generation, if that often, that Beethoven had cut his way to the very soul of at least part of what it is to be human in a way that maybe a handful of people throughout all of history have been able to. And yet I haven't listened to it myself in over a year, and then only because it played on the radio.

Turning worms

It seems McCain is experiencing a rough patch in his relationship with the media. Brooks not flattering him today, the NYT article, and some pieces in local papers around the country are actually attacking not worshipping him; while he has apparently put some barriers between himself and the fanboys who cover his campaign, a first, from what I can tell. It will be interesting to see if this state of affairs lasts, or if the media creatures are only hitting him now to appear "balanced," with the intention of going back to heaping praise on the straighttalkingmaverickmoderatecourageousAmericanwarhero once the real campaigning starts. My guess is the media people themselves don't know what's going on for sure; they're like a herd that is just running with no clear direction, no real idea of even what it is they're running from. Obamamania, McCain's near-certain defeat in the fall, McCain Worship Exhaustion Syndrome, ridicule from the blogosphere and even other journalists, and maybe just a breakout of plain decency have combined to destroy their once laser-like focus on extolling the virtues of this Great Man.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

McCain's brain, indeed.

Fresh from the electronic pages of Fortune, here is McCain's "health care plan":

For McCain and Gramm, the problem with our healthcare system - and the reason why over 47 million Americans are uninsured - is that it's excessively, scandalously expensive. The solution, they say, is to let Americans shop for healthcare with their own money. McCain advocates giving tax rebates of $2500 per individual or $5000 per family. With that money, families could purchase policies on their own. What's truly radical about the plan is that it eliminates the tax exclusion for healthcare benefits offered by companies to their employees, and replaces it with the $2500 to $5000 rebates.

Consumers could then use that cash to buy their own insurance in what Gramm foresees as a vibrant, consumer-driven marketplace for healthcare packages.

By contrast, Clinton and Obama want to leave the employer-based system in place; Clinton would make big companies either fund gold-plated packages for workers, or pay a stiff tax to support a new Medicare-like system. The Democrats wouldn't allow insurers to charge lower rates for young workers who cost far less than older Americans. McCain favors allowing insurers to charge rates based on actual cost. Gramm adamantly supports that policy allowing insurers to tailor their premiums, and their packages, to their customers. Says Gramm: "Most people without coverage are young and healthy. We shouldn't penalize them by forcing them to pay for someone else's coverage."

The plan as it is outlined on his website is pretty much as it is described in the Fortune article.

The idea is to somehow "reduce cost," apparently through the magic of the marketplace -- exactly how it will do so isn't discussed. Give people a few thousand dollars a year in tax credits, and somehow costs will come down. No mention of what will happen with older people who aren't yet old enough for Medicare, whose premiums could be far more than $5,000 when they can get policies at all; no mention of people with pre-existing conditions or who are otherwise poor risks for insurance companies. The idea seems to be to "reduce cost" by simply excluding the old and the sick from the healthcare system entirely, or else to stick them on Medicaid, which is already falling apart at the seams, and which has strict income requirements. In other words, the plan does nothing to solve the problems of our current system.

Such a plan has no chance of passing anywhere. As soon as older people -- a tremendously powerful voting bloc -- saw what could happen to them under this plan even Republicans would run away from it. The plan actually exists to say "I've got a plan, too" and to provide a contrasting basis for attacking any Democratic plan along the usual lines of "big government/socialized medicine/nanny state/tax and spend" lines. It exists to perpetuate the status quo. And McCain will get away with it, because no one will call his hand. The Dem plans have been examined and debated and yelled at since before they had even rolled them out; this is the first time I've seen a single word about McCain's, or any Republican's. And I'm willing to bet an insurance premium or two it will be one of the last.

Another day, another dol-- maybe not.

Oil prices hitting new records; inflation higher than it's been in years; and the economy is slowing down. Can any Dem lose in the fall? Will Bush leave office with approval ratings higher than Nixon's?

Besides the partisan political stuff, this is not looking good. With both inflation and unemployment climbing the Fed ends up boxed, unable to move interest rates much because of inflation, but needing to do something because of unemployment. Of course, with interest rates this low, and old-fashioned fiscal stimulus being political poison (Nanny state bad! Big government bad!), there isn't much room to maneuver, anyway. It looks like the 20-odd year run of circumstantially strong economies is coming to an end -- the benefits of bringing all those Eastern European countries online, with their cheap, well educated labor pools, has about been used up. The free ride is about to end with a bump. Let's hope it's a small one.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

With a(nother) whimper

No matter how many times I think it won't happen again, they still find a way to astonish me with their stupidity and unprofessionalism. And she doesn't apologize, barely admits she was wrong, just goes blithely on her way, as stupid and oblivious as yesterday, and the day before. And Time is at the top of these sorts of magazines -- presumably they have their choice of talent, and they keep picking people like Cox, and that other one whose name I can't be assed to look up, but who has the vocabulary of a 10th grader . These people, from the top down, just can't seem to act like their jobs carry more responsibility than someone who is charged with getting somebody's order right at a drive thru. "Oh well, I made a mistake". And you get George W. Bush. "Oh well, I made a mistake." Iraq War. And so on.


Just did a news search for "Obama cult", and on the first page found a dozen defences of Obama's not-a-cult, and maybe two attacks. So much for the Obama backlash, and so much for the idea that the media always "rough up the frontrunner." They attack the frontrunner when they don't like them; otherwise it's kiss, kiss, kiss. They never attacked McCain when he became the frontrunner, and they aren't doing it now.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Republican Affirmative Action

Digby asks

Can someone explain to me why Republican presidential candidates are always saying completely brain dead things like this?

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I do not believe in mandates. I believe that every American should have affordable and available health care and I'd like to talk just an additional minute about that. But I'm not going to mandate that they do. I want every American to have affordable and available education. But I'm not going to mandate that they do.

The answer is simple: for years, Republicans have been able to say anything they want, with almost no comment from the press. Live long enough in an environment with little accountability, and things just spiral out of control. "Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran"? No problem. "Cutting taxes reduces the federal deficit"? OK. The Republicans have had political potty mouths for years, but no one ever tells them to watch their language, so they keep it up. Ann Coulter did not happen in a vacuum -- she happened because everyone in the media politely agreed to ignore her more obscene statements. It's kind of like they're at a social gathering, and someone cuts loose with a real rip snorter of a fart, which everyone ignores as a sign of good manners. Sometimes, they even laugh along with her, and assure everyone that she's just such a kidder. The media, in effect, practice affirmative action with Republicans. Crazy statements by Republicans are ignored; equally crazy -- many not even close, in fact -- from the Democrats instantly hit the talking head circuit. Whatever else happens, the media people have got to prove they aren't part of the "liberal media."

This is one of the reasons I think the Republicans are in trouble in the presidential election. The media can hide that sort of thing when no one is looking, but in the glare of a presidential election, they are going to have a lot tougher job of it covering up for McCain when he says something stupid, which he does all the time. Or, he'll say something stupid during a slow time for the news, somebody is going to decide "what the hell, just this once I'll talk about it, and besides I got a deadline", and the dam will start cracking. Once that happens, there are plenty of other weak spots in the McCain dam waiting to spring a leak.