Please visit the new home of Majikthise at bigthink.com/blogs/focal-point.

« April 2008 | Main | June 2008 »

72 posts from May 2008

May 25, 2008

Karl Rove is an informal McCain advisor

Thank you, George Stephanopoulos:

On ABC’s This Week today, host George Stephanopoulos introduced Karl Rove as “President Bush’s former deputy chief of staff and political strategist, an informal adviser to John McCain’s campaign.” But Rove immediately objected to this characterization, saying “I wouldn’t even go that far, informal adviser, no way.”

Stephanopoulos pressed Rove on his relationship:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, you pass on information to them, you give them advice.

ROVE: Chit-chat.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Chit-chat, ok. Well I think that that justifies, that that qualifies as informal, but let’s move on.

Think Progress has the video.

Last week Rove received a subpoena to testify before the House Judiciary Committee about his role in the alleged political prosecution of Alabama's former Republican Governor Don Siegelman.

May 24, 2008

Let's not and say we did: John McCain's medical records

After a long delay, John McCain finally allowed a hand-picked group of journalists very limited access to a small portion of his medical records. The campaign is spinning the event as a release, but it's no such thing. McCain hosting a game of telephone and congratulating himself for transparency.

The LA Times got the real story behind the so-called release: all the strings attached. Campaign staffers told the paper that the chosen reporters would be given only three hours to view about 400 pages of documents from 2000 to 2008. They wouldn't even allowed to make photocopies for their own reference, or to show to experts.

Curiously, this year's crop of journalists were not given access to the records that McCain released to an equally select group during his last presidential bid. The last batch of records covered McCain's lifetime medical history through 1999.

The favored news outlets are the Washington Post, the Arizona Republic, Bloomberg, Reuters, and the Associated Press.  All other media will have to make due with a pool report generated by the elect, a 90-minute conference call with McCain's doctors and campaign-produced summaries to be posted online.

McCain let a group of hand picked lay-people view an incomplete set of medical records for a ridiculously short period of time. Their access was so limited as to render their opinions worthless.

This so-called release was a clever bit of media manipulation. The campaign made its hand-picked journos complicit in the records charade. Friendly media got a scoop. With that scoop came a vested interest in downplaying the ridiculous restrictions placed on them. If the public understood the conditions under which their were reporting, their coverage wouldn't seem impressive at all.

The campaign is forcing the press to base their coverage off whatever notes they managed to scribble during the three hour window. We wouldn't expect a medical doctor or an expert witness in a court case to form an opinion under these conditions. Why would we expect journalists to glean anything worthwhile from this silly eyes-only exercise?

This is not an environment conducive to quality reporting on complicated material. I wouldn't expect the press to be able to form an intelligent opinion about McCain's health under these conditions. Given the incredibly limited access, I wouldn't expect the press to pick up anything less obvious than "HAS CANCER, GOING TO DIE!!!" scrawled on the chart in Magic Marker.

If they expect to be taken seriously, the McCain camp should at least let its pet reporters show the actual documents to independent experts. 

If McCain doesn't want to release his medical records, fine. If he values his personal privacy over his political viability, that's his choice to make--but he should be forthright about that decision. 

McCain's game of records peekaboo is an insult to the intelligence of the press and the public. At the end of the day, we don't know anything more about McCain's health than we did before the dog and pony show.

McCain's a 71-year-old politician on the campaign trail who has survived four bouts of cancer. He says, "Trust me, I'm fine." So far, that's all we have to go on. That's not enough for most voters and the McCain camp knows it. 

The only question is whether the press will continue to participate in the charade.

May 23, 2008

Bush tours once-squalid latrine

How nice...

Bush Tourts Once-Squalid Latrine FORT BRAGG, N.C., May 22 -- President Bush toured a spic-and-span latrine Thursday that appeared vastly improved from a month ago, when an Internet video showed raw sewage and peeling paint in barracks used to house U.S. troops returning from Afghanistan.

U.S. Army officials said $3 million has been spent since then on improvements to the Korean War-era barracks, which will eventually be replaced as part of a massive military infrastructure plan.

"These buildings are coming down," Bush said after a tour of the restroom, which was freshly painted and devoid of mold, peeling paint or other shortcomings shown in the video. "And I know you appreciate it. The soldiers appreciate it." [WaPo]

You know what else soldiers will appreciate, the GI bill that Bush has threatened to veto.

The bill was carried by bipartisan majorities in the House and the Senate.

John McCain opposes the veteran's benefits package, but he didn't dare vote against it. McCain was one of only 3 senators to miss the vote on the GI Bill 2008.

Of the three absentee senators: Tom Coburn was called away for funeral, Ted Kennedy was sidelined with a recently-diagnosed brain tumor, and John McCain had no excuse.

Both Obama and Clinton voted for the GI bill.

Red Velvet Cakes


Red Velvet Cakes , originally uploaded by Lindsay Beyerstein.

Thanks to all the readers who sent in their favorite recipes for Red Velvet
Cake. I'm looking forward to trying them all.

For tonight's party, I went with this recipe recommended by voxy.

Hobo Matters

Hobos and lava, hobos and lava...

[HT:Kieran Healy]

Problem pastor purge: John McCain rejects Parsley and Hagee

John McCain has rejected the support of mega-church pastor and Ohio Republican power broker Rod Parsley. McCain was for Parsley before he was against him. McCain praised Parsley stage at a Cincinnati campaign rally as a moral compass, a spiritual guide, and one of the greatest leaders in America.

Brave New Films and Mother Jones deserve the credit for McCain's reversal. They co-produced this wildly popular video juxtaposing John McCain's effusive praise for Parsley with footage of Parsley calling for war on Islam.

McCain's rejection of Parsley is a big deal. McCain sought him out in the first place because he's a big political player in Ohio.

McCain also kicked Pastor John Hagee to the curb this week as part of his ongoing purge of prejudiced pastors. McCain aggressively courted the endorsement of the high-profile homophobe, prominent anti-Semite, and noted Catholic-basher. McCain would probably still be basking in Hagee's selective Christian love if the news hadn't come out that Hagee had praised the Holocaust and Hitler.

Not to be outdone, Pastor Hagee withdrew his endorsement of McCain.

May 22, 2008

Nixonland Book Party


Nixonland Book Party, originally uploaded by Lindsay Beyerstein.

Brooklyn, NY.

The drink menu from the launch party for Rick Perlstein's new book Nixonland.

Celebrity sighting: Ira Glass from This American Life.

Cyanide ice cream?

This recipe for cherry pit ice cream sounds profoundly ill-advised. You're supposed to pulverize the pits with a hammer and steep the "noyau" in cream before freezing.

The recipe calls for 1.5 cups of smashed cherry pits heated in 4 cups of dairy and steeped for 1-2 hours. As you strain the steeped mixture, you press the cherry pits against the sieve to extract even more flavor from the kernels.

The fact that the end product is described as tasting like marzipan or bitter almonds is not confidence-inspiring.

Cherry pits contain cyanide.

ISO Red Velvet Cake recipe


red-velvet-cake-slice, originally uploaded by food_in_mouth.

Can anyone recommend a recipe for bright red Red Velvet Cake?

Darcy requested an RVC for his birthday and I've never made one before.

John McCain miscellaney

-Michael Tomasky reviews three new McCain biographies. [HT: echidne]

-Karl Rove's protege Tim Griffin steps down as acting US Attorney and joins McCain 2008.