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Archive for July 6th, 2008

The Beach

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 6th, 2008 4:41 am by HL

The Beach
I don’t remember arriving at my Grandmother’s for the first time. By counting down the years I know I was about five years old at the time, a tiny blond child with cornflower blue eyes. My Grandmother lived in a house on the shore. From the living room on the second floor one could look down past the sea wall, a concrete walkway about the height of a man, to the to the beach. I have never returned to that beach, nor will I.

I don’t remember arriving at my Grandmother’s for the first time. By counting down the years I know I was about five years old at the time, a tiny blond child with cornflower blue eyes. My Grandmother lived in a house on the shore. From the living room on the second floor one could look down past the sea wall, a concrete walkway about the height of a man, to the beach. It was white sand with a scattering of driftwood, framed to the east and west by black rocks glistening with seaweed, scrapey with barnacles and clusters of mussels, gleaming wet and hot rock dry. Those rocks were to become one of my favourite places. For a five year old child they were the perfect playground. The barnacles and the height made them seem dangerous and their secret valleys contained odd creatures left by the retreating tide: crabs, molluscs, strange eel like creatures, and tiny fish darting through pools of water cradled by stone.

And the beach always changed. It changed with the season, from summer swarms of strangely fleshy adults lying passively like crusty bread on their multicoloured towels, to the fall driftwood pickers in their black and yellow rubber, to winter’s crashing storms which would smash against the sea wall and send spray into the sky. Just at the edge of my vision, near the horizon, was a series of small islands. To me those islands were fantastic and faraway places, the Tir-na-Nog of my childhood, places where strange creatures lived, where wondrous magic was to be found, places which could only be seen: never reached. In the winter I would often stare at them for hours, nose pressed against the living room window, spinning stories of the Sea Queens and Kings who lived upon them; of the robots who were their knights; of a thousand things. And I would see the ships, huge freighters mainly, like massive castles, which would steam by and I would wonder where they had been, what they had seen. I never thought of them as machines, but rather as huge beasts with a life of their own, creatures to be tamed that they might bear you away to dreams.

Perhaps my favourite change of all was simply the tides. Low tide was the best: as the sea withdrew it would reveal a wonderland of sand bars, troughs of water and a trove of sea shells and small darting creatures caught in the pools it left. I would intrepidly investigate. During the winter months on went the gum boots, in summer I splashed about in trunks. The tide was my test, too, for it was jealous of its treasures, always coming to cover them again, and I took great pleasure in outsmarting it and the currents as the tide came back in. With a practiced eye I watched the gulf between my sandbars and the shore and like an eel I took to the water to make my passage back when the sea’s return could be ignored no longer.

The beach was my preserve, others came on it, but it always seemed somehow mine . . . mine and the seagulls. There are those who dislike seagulls, but I have always had a deep fondness for them. My grandmother loved them and I learned that love as well. Sometimes I would feed them, stale crusts of bread tossed on the wind, a whirlwind of seagulls, their strident cries ringing out, descending upon me. Other times I would just watch them, the spiral of their flight lovely in itself. Their squabbling and sudden flight, their long swooping glide with that final tilt as they landed, their sharp eyes as they watched me. The beach was their fief, and mine, for they allowed me on—perhaps in pity for this big flightless graceless thing who could never feel the wind lift him, who could never look down on the sparkle of the sea, who could never fly a wingspan above, watching it flash beneath.

I have never returned to that beach, nor will I.


On Flip Flops And Contrast

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 6th, 2008 4:40 am by HL

On Flip Flops And Contrast

Both Barack Obama and John McCain have a closetful of flip flops on issues. What is interesting about the flip flops is McCain has flip flopped towards the right – on the Bush tax cuts, on torture, on immigration, on everything. There is no moving to the “middle” for McCain. There is only moving to the far right. He is really running for Bush’s third term. Obama’s flip flops have him moving to the right as well, aligning him closer to Bush’s third term, instead of making clear he will be a break from the extremism of the Bush years.

It is as if Obama has an inner Dick Morris he is listening to. McCain playing to his base will not be covered as pandering. Obama should consider that for a moment. That perhaps honoring his own base will be seen as a moment of strength for him. In Nigel Hamilton’s book on Bill Clinton, “Mastering the Presidency”, Hamilton describes the inner cowardice of Morris, who advised Clinton to cave in to Newt Gingrich even though Morris’ own polling told him that Clinton was winning that battle in political terms:

The [1995] budget showdown was permitting the President’s somewhat blurry presidential image to become clear – at last. “Bill Clinton’s image had not come into sharp focus for most Americans,” even his press secretary Mike McCurry, later admitted. “Who is this guy? Where is he on the political spectrum?” How does he relate to me and my needs? [The government shutdown battle] was the moment in which they finally said, ‘He’s fighting for these things I care about. He’s fighting against these Republicans in Congress who want to take the country in a direction I don’t believe in.'”

Dick Morris . . . was now hoist on his own petard. A coward by nature, he hated the shutdown of the government, which he feared might backfire politically. Yet Morris’ own polls suggested the President should hold firm rather than give in. Day by day the President’s approval improved as those of the Republican leaders dropped. By mid-November [1995], Bill Clinton’s overall approval rating as President was over 52% – his highest for 18 months. Gingrich’s favorability rating, by contrast, had dropped to 25%.

(Emphasis supplied.) Bill Clinton had appeared strong by standing up to the Republicans. He looked as if he stood for something, and he explained what that something was. It amazes me that Democrat have never understood the political significance of what happened in that episode.

Obama’s inner Dick Morris is leading him down a terrible path politically. Yesterday, the NYTimes Ed Board wrote:

We are not shocked when a candidate moves to the center for the general election. But Mr. Obama’s shifts are striking because he was the candidate who proposed to change the face of politics, the man of passionate convictions who did not play old political games.

There are still vital differences between Mr. Obama and Senator John McCain on issues like the war in Iraq, taxes, health care and Supreme Court nominations. We don’t want any “redefining” on these big questions. This country needs change it can believe in.

What is unstated in the editorial is the lack of confidence that there will not be changes regarding those “vital differences.” Obama now appears a “finger in the wind” pol (forget whether he is or not.) He does not appear ready to stand for anything. And that is a dangerous image for a pol. Indeed, it is the typical image of the Dem running for President. Bill Clinton helped himself overcome that image by standing strong on the government shutdown against Newt Gingrich.

Obama needs to overcome his inner Dick Morris, or he could find a way to lose this unloseable election – which would make him the biggest Dem loser of all time.

By Big Tent Democrat, speaking for me only


Wingnuttery

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 6th, 2008 4:39 am by HL

Wingnuttery
The incoherent rage-filled non sequiturs always bring a tear to my eye.

Defense Solutions
I’m sure nothing he did while he was a member of Congress made the transition to this job easy.

Former congressman Curt Weldon is helping broker deals between Russian and Ukranian weapons suppliers and the Iraqi and Libyan governments as part of his new job with a private American defense consulting firm, Wired.com has learned.

Weldon, who is currently being investigated by the FBI over alleged corruption during his time in office, visited Libya in March to discuss a possible military deal, according to a letter describing the trip from Weldon to Defense Solutions CEO Timothy Ringgold. In May, Weldon, together with Ringgold and another company representative, traveled to Moscow to discuss working with Russia’s weapons-export agency on arms sales to the Middle East.


France Offers Europe an ‘Inhuman’ Model for Immigration

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 6th, 2008 4:38 am by HL

France Offers Europe an ‘Inhuman’ Model for Immigration
French PM Nicolas Sarkozy wants to use France’s turn in the EU’s rotating presdiency to “harmonize” European immigration policy.


Obama: Mental Distress Shouldn’t Qualify As Exception For Late-Term Abortion

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 6th, 2008 4:37 am by HL

Obama: Mental Distress Shouldn’t Qualify As Exception For Late-Term Abortion
In a sign that he wants to reach out to pro-life voters, Barack Obama has told a Christian magazine that he would be against overly-broad exceptions to the prohibition on late-term abortions. “Now, I don’t think that ‘mental distress’ qualifies…


Jesse Helms Dead at 86

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 6th, 2008 4:36 am by HL

Jesse Helms Dead at 86
The conservative firebrand who represented North Carolina in the Senate for five terms until his retirement in 2003 passed away early this morning. More here….


The LiberalOasis Radio Show: SCOTUS Wrap Up Edition

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 6th, 2008 4:35 am by HL

The LiberalOasis Radio Show: SCOTUS Wrap Up Edition

Today at 10 AM ET, The LiberalOasis Radio Show was broadcast on WHMP-AM in Western MA. My special guest was Scott Lemieux of The American Prospect’s blog TAPPED and Lawyers, Guns and Money, who gave us an in-depth analysis of the 2007-2008 term of the Supreme Court.

The audio podcast for the show is here: (iTunes / XML feed / MP3). Video of the opening monologue, about how the presidential candidates are moving left in order to win, is below.


Military directly censored journalist

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 6th, 2008 4:33 am by HL

Military directly censored journalist
Embedded photographer censored, kicked out for Fallujah pics.


America?s unhappy birthday.

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 6th, 2008 4:32 am by HL

America?s unhappy birthday.
As the nation celebrated its 232nd birthday, people across America were more worried about how much is “wrong right now.” The AP writes, “The nation’s psyche is battered and bruised, the sense of pessimism palpable.” An example in its report from the Optimist Club in Gilbert, AZ: They use words such as “terrified,” “disgusted” and […]

As the nation celebrated its 232nd birthday, people across America were more worried about how much is “wrong right now.” The AP writes, “The nation’s psyche is battered and bruised, the sense of pessimism palpable.” An example in its report from the Optimist Club in Gilbert, AZ:

They use words such as “terrified,” “disgusted” and “scary” to describe what one calls “this mess” we Americans find ourselves in. … One member’s son is serving his second tour in Iraq. Another speaks of a daughter who’s lost her job in the mortgage industry and a son in construction whose salary was slashed. Still another mentions a friend who can barely afford gas.

Joanne Kontak, 60, an elementary school lunch aid inducted just this day as an Optimist, sums things up like this: “There’s just entirely too much wrong right now.”

Happy birthday, America? This year, we’re not so sure.

A May Washington Post-ABC News poll found that nearly “seven in 10 Americans are worried about maintaining their standard of living,” and a separate ABC poll showed economic anxiety at its “highest level on record since 1981.”


DEA Holding Some Mighty Fine Cards

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 6th, 2008 4:31 am by HL

DEA Holding Some Mighty Fine Cards
Searching for a 1909 Ty Cobb baseball card, part of the rare T206 series printed by the Sweet Caporal Cigarettes company? How about a 1938 Goudey card featuring Joe DiMaggio?