Palin jokes about Biden's age as McCain says Venezuela is in the Middle East

There's a one in four chance that John McCain, if elected, wouldn't live long enough to fill out a second term, leaving Sarah Palin as president. Yet, Palin bizarrely suggests that it's McCain's junior, Joe Biden, who might be too old for the job. Still, I'd worry more about McCain, who today emphasized the importance of "ensuring that America is secure, and not dependent on oil from people like Hugo Chavez or other parts of the Middle East which is, we know, could be destabilized under certain sets of circumstances."

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Military Muse: Does the "Solider's Face" project mimic Brancusi?

Artworks from Suzane Opton's "Soldier's Face" billboard project are now on view at LA's Stephen Cohen Gallery. The series was scheduled to appear in the Twin Cities to coincide with the Republican National Convention, but the local billboard company pulled the plug, fearing viewers might think the boards show dead soldiers (my colleague Chris Steller reports that one version was ultimately produced here). The LA Times' Christopher Knight offers an (ahem) dead-on explanation of the vulnerable, horizontal heads Opton features: They derive from Brancusi's emblematic "Sleeping Muse" sculptures. Beautifully, Knight writes that Opton's "vulnerable images depict the always shocking youth of soldiers who, like the Greek Titan who stole fire from the gods in Brancusi's title, have witnessed devastating power up close. They seem almost shell-shocked, caught between the fragile beauty of youth and the desperate gravity of adulthood."

From Centerpoints, the Walker blog feature I'm guest-writing for a few more weeks.

UPDATED: Chelsea museum pulls plug on terror show, curator resigns in protest


Paddy Johnson at the Brooklyn art blog Art Fag City reports that the Chelsea Art Museum has cancelled its November opening of The Aesthetics of Terror and its chief curator has resigned in protest. Museum president Dorothea Keeser reportedly felt the exhibition -- which was to include artists like Jenny Holzer, Harun Farocki, Martha Rosler and the Chapman brothers -- “glorified terrorism and showed disrespect for its victims," according to Josh Azzarella, one of the show's artists. CAM chief curator Manon Slome has, according to Johnson, left over the cancellation.

The museum has deleted mention of the exhibition, which was to run Nov. 21 though Jan. 31, but a cached version (with the title The Dialectics of Terror) is still available. I posted it in full at Off-Center.

Update: The Chelsea Museum of Art has released a statement, which contradicts the above. In part, the press release [pdf] reads: "Upon resigning, [chief curator Manon Slome] unilaterally decided to cancel the exhibition The Dialectics of Terror (formerly The Aesthetics of Terror) and informed all the participating artists without prior discussion with Dorothea Keeser, Chelsea Art Museum’s Founder and President, or any Museum personnel."

pogacean-cristi-the-abd.jpgReached by email on Friday, Keeser said that the exhibition will go on, but likely not at her museum. “As the show is ready to be installed and the catalogue is ready, it surely will be shown somewhere,”she said. “For the time being, we are too hurt to show it here after what happened and was said about us.”

Josh Azzarella. Untitled #23 (''Lynndied''), 2006
Cristi Pogacean. The Abduction from the Seraglio, 2006


Lowbrow Thomas Struth? Tourists at Pisa doing their thing.

New American currency


Video: Hüsker Dü does daytime TV (1986)

Max forwards this amazing(ly odd) appearance by Hüsker Dü on a Twin Cities afternoon show -- KSTP's Good Company with Steve Edelman and Sharon Anderson, according to commenter Laurel Krahn (thanks!) -- in 1986. Like good Minnesotans, the women in the audience politely clap and smile (although I noted a few shifting eyes) after their scorching performance.

Letterman on McCain

David Letterman absolutely nails John McCain for the ruse of suspending his campaign to deal with a "cratering" economy. McCain canceled his Letterman appearance, just as he's aiming to cancel Friday's debate with Barack Obama. But is he jetting off to D.C.? Not quite: Letterman gets a live feed as McCain gets made up for his Katie Couric interview and asks: "Hey John, you need a ride to the airport?!" (The entire 9:11 clip is definitely worth watching.)

Andy Birkey has more.


A historic first: Army Combat Team assigned to domestic "civil unrest"

Starting in October, the US Army will station active-duty troops inside the US for the first time, Democracy Now reports. Here's what the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team may be up to:
The Army Times reports this new mission marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to Northern Command. The paper says the Army unit may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control. The soldiers are learning to use so-called nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals and crowds.
Clarification: Never before has an active unit has been given “a dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities,” the paper reports.

More on this from MnIndy.

GOP platform opposes bailouts

Taegan Goddard points out a salient nugget from the GOP's official platform, inked in sunny St. Paul just weeks ago. It states:
"We do not support government bailouts of private institutions. Government interference in the markets exacerbates problems in the marketplace and causes the free market to take longer to correct itself."

McCain's $5k American Idol makeover

Ha. John McCain's "celebrity" epithet against Obama never had much credibility, but this entirely sinks it:

According to FEC reports, he paid more than $5,500 to American Idol makeup artist Tifanie White for services rendered.


By William Lamson. Via PlaceboKatz.


Ventian Gondoliers for Obama

I appreciate the sentiment, but... To the tune of "Volare"? Shudder.


McCain on arts funding

I suppose this should come as no surprise:
"I have opposed federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts because I believe it is not proper to use tax dollars for what many Americans feel are the obscene and inappropriate projects this organization has supported. I support providing federal block grants to the states for arts education and artistic endeavors pursued by state and local authorities, while assuring that federal tax dollars are not spent on obscene or offensive material."

—John McCain, 1999

Video: Natasha's Story

Rick Smolan tells a wonderful story about how, as a TIME photographer in the '70s, he met Insuk, an Amerasian girl (she has a Korean mother and an American GI father who didn't stay with the family), and helped arrange her adoption with an American family in Atlanta. From TED2007, it's really worth watching the whole thing: now named Natasha, she's married with children of her own -- and was in the audience as Smolan told of meeting her as a young girl in Korea.


Regular (non-élite, unblinking) gal Palin

Sarah the Hunter by Zina Saunders

The New Yorker's George Saunders on Sarah Palin:
...Where was I? Ah, yes: I hate Élites. Which is why, whenever I am having brain surgery, or eye surgery, which is sometimes necessary due to all my non-blinking, I always hire some random Regular guy, with shaking hands if possible, who is also a drunk, scared of the sight of blood, and harbors a secret dislike for me.


In summary: Because my candidate, unlike your winking/blinking Vice-Presidential candidate, who, though, yes, he did run as the running mate when the one asking him to run did ask him to run, which that I admire, one thing he did not do, with his bare hands or otherwise, is, did he ever kill a moose? No, but ours did. And I would. Please bring a moose to me, over by me, and down that moose will go, and, if I had a kid, I would take a picture of me showing my kid that dead moose, going, like, Uh, sweetie, no, he is not resting, he is dead, due to I shot him, and now I am going to eat him, and so are you, oh yes you are, which is responsible, as God put this moose here for us to shoot and eat and take a photo of, although I did not, at that time, know why God did, but in years to come, God’s will was revealed, which is: Hey, that is a cool photo for hunters about to vote to see, plus what an honor for that moose, to be on the Internet.

How does the moose feel about it? Who knows? Probably not great. But do you know what the difference is between a dead moose with lipstick on and a dead moose without lipstick?


Think about it.

Moose are, truth be told, Élites. They are big and fast and sort of rule the forest. Sarah took that one down a notch. Who’s Élite now, Bullwinkle?

Not Sarah.

She’s just Regular as heck.
Thanks, Taylor.


Obama ad: On McCain's "Deception"

Youch. Finally an Obama ad with some bite.


Church of England to Darwin: Uh, sorry about that.

This is actually kind of refreshing:
...Charles Darwin: 200 years from your birth, the Church of England owes you an apology for misunderstanding you and, by getting our first reaction wrong, encouraging others to misunderstand you still. We try to practice the old virtues of 'faith seeking understanding' and hope that makes some amends. But the struggle for your reputation is not over yet, and the problem is not just your religious opponents but those who falsely claim you in support of their own interests. Good religion needs to work constructively with good science – and I dare to suggest that the opposite may be true as well.

Comic presidential candidates

With the presidential campaign turning downright comic, TMZ's series of presidential lookalikes has one standout category: Cartoon characters who look like the candidates. Click to see Sarah Palin as the spitting image of Peggy Hill, Barack Obama as Panthro of the Thundercats, and John McCain as an array of cartoon geezers, from Elmer Fudd to Grandpa Simpson, and others.

After being blasted by pepper spray, RNC protester not angry at Minneapolis cops

One of the more disturbing clips, of way too many, from the Republican National Convention, is this one showing Leah Lane being repeatedly blasted with pepperspray by Minneapolis police officers who knock her down with their bikes. Yesterday, Fox 9, which got the riveting original footage, talks to her -- and finds that, unlike me, she's not angry at the cops, although she does liken them -- appropriately, in my experience -- to schoolyard bullies.

Note, also, how Fox's Trish Van Pilsum gets hassled by police for filming, even though she was standing on the median strip, well behind the police line. An officer is heard shooting pepperspray at Van Pilsum's feet and saying, "Let's go. I know who you are." More proof that police knowingly targeted journalists. Minneapolis' police chief says he'll look into Lane's treatment and arrest.


Comparing tax plans: Obama would increase taxes for the ultra-wealthy, McCain would give big tax cuts to top earners

John McCain's assertion that Barack Obama is going to raise taxes is, no surprise, false. Here's a comparison of the candidates' tax plans, created by the Tax Policy Center. As the Washington Post says, "Obama's plan gives the biggest cuts to those who make the least, while McCain would give the largest cuts to the very wealthy. For the approximately 147,000 families that make up the top 0.1 percent of the income scale, the difference between the two plans is stark. While McCain offers a $269,364 tax cut, Obama would raise their taxes, on average, by $701,885 - a difference of nearly $1 million."

Click to enlarge image:
Calculate your Obama tax cut amount using this calculator.

And: The Tax Policy Center does a side-by-side comparison of the plans.


Absurdist Hurricane Ike moment

As Hurricane Ike "bears" down on Galveston "some clown" in a furry costume -- in a newscaster's words -- shows up behind the TV news crew.

Palin and McCain inadvertently slam each other


Sarah Palin, Jan. 2, 2008:
“On that Republican ticket, though, there does have to be some kind of diversity, though. A couple of rich, old white men trying to represent a party, much less the nation: I don’t think that’s gonna cut it.”
John McCain, Oct. 21, 2007 (discrediting the experience of former NYC mayor Giuliani and former Massachussets Gov. Mitt Romney):
“I need no on-the-job training. I wasn’t a mayor for a short period of time. I wasn’t a governor for a short period of time.”

McCain's "Campaign of lies and disgrace"

The St. Petersberg Times:
...McCain's straight talk has become a toxic mix of lies and double-speak. It is leaving a permanent stain on his reputation for integrity, and it is a short-term strategy that eventually will backfire with the very types of independent-thinking voters that were so attracted to him.


As mayor, Palin's Wasila charged victims for rape kits

When Sarah Palin was mayor of Wasila, Alaska, the city charged rape victims for the kits used to gather evidence about whether a sexual assault occurred, a cost that can run from $300 to $1200. In 2000, such charges were deemed illegal. While some argue Palin had nothing to do with the fees, she in fact was mayor at the time and has a history of hands-on management of every aspect of city governance. Update: The AP chimes in.

Crotch Rockets for Obama?

Talk about niche marketing.

42 journalists detained or arrested at RNC

At least 42 journalists or media staffers were arrested or detained at last week's RNC, from Democracy Now's Amy Goodman to reporters, editors and photographers for the AP, WCCO, Minnesota Independent, Variety and others. Got a name to add to the list?


Tased, beaten, shot with rubber bullets: RNC protesters show their scars

My co-worker Chris Steller offers video of testimony by journalists and protesters who were tased, beaten and shot with rubber bullets at the Republican National Convention. One man says police left the metal Taser prongs embedded in his hip for an hour and a half after his arrest, while another says he was praying to God, only to hear an officer say, "There's no God here; we're all devils."

Voices of the RNC: Iraq Veterans Against the War


RNC post mortem: 50 million questions

The Republican National Convention is over and the event, and how law enforcement dealt with it, sparks a million questions -- or as my colleague Jeff Severns Guntzel writes, 50 million questions (a reference to the $50 million security budget for the four-day affair). Like me, he gathered a collection of projectiles fired at him during the protests, from "direct-impact rounds" to "Triple Chaser" tear gas grenades, and many of his questions revolve around what would've happened had any of these crowd-control tools -- many of which, the manufacturers warn, could result in death -- hit a protester or one of the countless media representatives or average joes ensnared on their way home from work. A definite must-read.

Guntzel is asking for your feedback -- what questions do you have? -- in comments at MnIndy. He makes this fine point:
There is also a more broad line of questioning. How should the deployment of any of these weapons be judged? There were clear incidents of violence by a small handful full of the many thousands of protesters who visited St. Paul, most of those incidents isolated to Monday’s protests (among these incidents: store windows were smashed, a delegate bus was hit with a brick, and at least one counter-protester was aggressively handled). But in each of the separate incidents I witnessed where Triple Chasers, pepper spray, or impact rounds were used, there were no evident acts of violence on the part of protesters.


"Proud Bush-McCain Republicans"?

Say what?

Update: The video is by Lobbyists for McCain, formerly Billionaires for Bush, and a new version of the video identifies as much.

Update: The Washington Post picks up on the video.

Obama Waffles

This pair of white guys can't understand why "Obama Waffles," with Aunt Jemima-esque packaging details, a caricature of Obama in a Muslim head wrap and a sombrero, and a "Point box toward Mecca for tastier waffles" directive might be considered bad taste.

RNC Updates

My experiences in St. Paul covering the RNC have been dumbfounding, exciting and deeply saddening, at times, with only rare moments of optimism. In case you're not following us at the Minnesota Independent, here are a few key pieces by our staff.

Youth in iconic RNC protest photo was later beaten by police, according to his mother

Boot print on his back: Photographs, video of 17-year-old RNC protester after run-in with police

RNC Day One Diary: All roads lead to Kellogg Boulevard

RNC Day Two Diary (part I): Huck and me; on the convention floor

RNC Day Two Diary (Part II): Armies of the night

Also, thanks to small-minded trolls, comments here are now being moderated.

Photo: Jeff Severns Guntzel

RNC Video: Peace activists on federal watch list detained at gunpoint

Full story here.

RNC Video: Lobbyists for McCain

At St. Paul's Mears Park Tuesday afternoon, shortly after police rounded up protesters and with the din of helicopters hovering overhead, I ran into Buddy O'Bush and Johnny Notindebt of Lobbyists for McCain. Here, we discuss Ferragamo loafers, their desire to run Halliburton as a candidate for public office ("because corporations are people too"), and their hopes for "Four More Years" of the same.


RNC vid: Protest puppy

A lighter take on the RNC...

The Battle in St. Paul: RNC Day One

No time to say much about it, but suffice it to say, Day One of the RNC was insane. It's shocking to see a normally sleepy town -- home of A Prairie Home Companion, no less -- clouded by teargas and black-clad riot police. I'm proud of the way the Minnesota Independent is covering it and encourage you to drop by and see our coverage -- from the overwhelming number of peaceful demonstrators to the handful of violent "anarchist" protesters to the startlingly large army of cops who wield billy clubs, teargas cannisters, rubber bullets and pepper spray. These shots were taken by my colleague Jeff Severns Guntzel, whose coverage for us is unsurpassed. His rundown of Day One.