Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The New Obama Ad

Being shown in Indiana and North Carolina:

(alt. video link)

100 Years! 100 Years! 100 Years! has a new ad out that beats on the McCain "100 years" meme. For some reason, they don't want to allow it to be embedded, but it is up on YouTube. Watch here.

Update: They've removed the no-embed restriction. Here it is:

Elitism Update

Paul Krugman has a funny post related to one of the reasons real Americans hate us elites so much, trying to make the case that there's nothing wrong with liking arugula.

I posted a comment in response and noticed that the spell-checker built into Firefox did not recognize the word arugula. This struck me as funny, since I am of the impression that only bitter people cling to Internet Explorer. You'd think those elitist open-source DFHs at Mozilla would be all over this word.

In any case, I have added it to my personal spell-checker dictionary. I expect the RNC to be running a response ad momentarily, to show how this once again indicates how out of touch I am.

By the way -- best way to eat arugula? Wilted, on top of baked yams. Thanks to my sister MK, who introduced me to this delight.

My comment on PK's post didn't pass the censor (or maybe just hasn't been approved yet). For the record, I told him that his protestations were useless, since knowing what the British call arugula is even more elitist.

And let's be honest. In real life, he probably really says the word in French.

Caught On Tape: Clinton Campaign Push Polling

Ben Smith has some audio posted of a Clinton campaign push poll, recorded by the man who received the call and emailed it in to Politico. The sound is a little crappy at the beginning, but it clears up soon.

Shades of W in 2000, and other desperate, despicable, and dishonest politicians, I say.

(h/t: Mark Nickolas)

Maybe I Should Hook My TV Back Up

Swiped from bean, who says:

No, no one would *ever* address our Supreme Court this way, nor would the Court let her or him. But, hey, a law student can dream.

Can't we all, bean. Can't we all.

(alt. video link)

How Come I Never Get Any of These Emails?

Defective Yeti Matthew Baldwin has gathered up some Snopes links that address claims made about Barack Obama, usually by chain email. Among the more eyebrow-raising:

According to the Book of Revelations the anti-christ is: The anti-christ will be a man, in his 40s, of MUSLIM descent, who will deceive the nations with persuassive [sic] language, and have a MASSIVE Christ-like appeal.... the prophecy says that people will flock to him and he will promise false hope and world peace, and when he is in power, will destory [sic] everything. Is it OBAMA??

Amazing, Matthew notes, that the B of R was able to predict the religion of Islam half a millennium in advance.

I, for one, wonder if Obama's sinister plan to "destory" everything means book-burnings loom.

Goodnight, Moon.

Rev. Wright Mercenary Watch

Nope, I didn't hear about these hearings, either.

Thanks for keeping me informed, Balloon Juice.

Two posts in a row with links to conservative blogs! What is this country coming to? gether?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Forbidden Fruit?

Following a link from Eponym in the Comments for another post, I saw this ad, right there on the National Review Online site:

ad from NRO to meet single Arabs

(click pic to enlarge)

Given the mindset most of the NRO types have about "those people," I cannot think of any other explanation for the placement. Well, maybe money-grubbing.

Or, I suppose, it could be a sign of hope.

[added] The same ad doesn't necessarily show up on repeat visits, but it's well worth following the link anyway -- it's a short article by John Derbyshire, reacting to the movie Expelled, musing on what makes the IDiots such lying liars who lie, and basically ripping Ben Stein a sorely needed new one.

The Cognitive Surplus

Bill Simmon has an excerpt from a Clay Shirky talk about, among other things, the number of person-hours required to create Wikipedia, compared to the number of person-hours spent watching TV. Before you visit, try to guess how much TV would have to be given up to make Wikipedia, from scratch to what it is today. Fascinating stuff.

Bill's post has links to the video and transcript of Clay's talk.

[added] Just watched the video. It's about 15 minutes long, and it's quite good.

And if you like that video, you might also like this interview of Clay by Will Wilkinson, which focuses mostly on Clay's new book, Here Comes Everybody. Also recommended.

I'll Take Iraq for 100, Alex

According to Marc Ambinder*, the party that usually professes to hate "trial lawyers" is threatening legal action to stop the airing of this ad, produced by the DNC:

(alt. video link)

To be clear, the legal action has to do with alleged coordination between the DNC and one of the candidates, not the content. But it's obvious that they're trying anything they can think of to stop this one precisely because of the unforgettable quote.

The GOP's wailing and gnashing of teeth over "being quoted out of context" is nothing short of delicious. The fact that they can't beat this one down is even better.

* Permalink to the specific post is broken. Visit the home page of Marc's blog and scroll down to the post with the timestamp of 28 Apr 2008 02:07 pm.

The Kids Are All Right

Swiped from Marc Ambinder:

More details and analysis on Marc's blog.

And to all you undecided superdelegates lurking on this blog: When you start considering the "electability" question when Hillary Clinton brings it up for the 4000th time, bear in mind the wrath of alienated youth. Play this one gift of the Bush legacy right, and you've got a whole new generation to fix the country with.

McCain to Russia, China: You Kids Get the Hell off My Lawn

Fareed Zakaria reflects on John McCain's foreign policy proposals. Excerpt:

On March 26, McCain gave a speech on foreign policy in Los Angeles that was billed as his most comprehensive statement on the subject. It contained within it the most radical idea put forward by a major candidate for the presidency in 25 years. Yet almost no one noticed.

In his speech McCain proposed that the United States expel Russia from the G8, the group of advanced industrial countries. Moscow was included in this body in the 1990s to recognize and reward it for peacefully ending the cold war on Western terms, dismantling the Soviet empire and withdrawing from large chunks of the old Russian Empire as well. McCain also proposed that the United States should expand the G8 by taking in India and Brazil—but pointedly excluded China from the councils of power.

We have spent months debating Barack Obama's suggestion that he might, under some circumstances, meet with Iranians and Venezuelans. It is a sign of what is wrong with the foreign-policy debate that this idea is treated as a revolution in U.S. policy while McCain's proposal has barely registered. What McCain has announced is momentous—that the United States should adopt a policy of active exclusion and hostility toward two major global powers. It would reverse a decades-old bipartisan American policy of integrating these two countries into the global order, a policy that began under Richard Nixon (with Beijing) and continued under Ronald Reagan (with Moscow). It is a policy that would alienate many countries in Europe and Asia who would see it as an attempt by Washington to begin a new cold war.

One of these months, the Democrats will pick a nominee, so we can start paying attention to just how dumb and dangerous John McCain's ideas are.

(h/t: Matthew Yglesias)

Not for the Quaint of Heart

Andrew Sullivan asks: "Is The US Now A Non-Geneva State?"

Here's the lede:

The manner in which free societies lose their moral compass is always incremental. Step by step by step, certain core values are whittled away. There is rarely a moment at which a government stands up, and asks its people if they wish to abandon such "quaint" notions as the Geneva Conventions, the rule of law, humane interrogation or habeas corpus. These things are abandoned incrementally or secretly, slice by slice, euphemism by euphemism, the chronology always clearer in retrospect than at the time. And each incremental step is always portrayed as a small but essential temporary sacrifice for the sake of security in a time of great and imminent peril.

How's Mrs. Schlafly's Son's Little Project Coming Along?

Via PZ, here's the beginning of a recent entry:

Professor values refer to the common value system embraced by a large percentage of professors, just as Hollywood values refers to the common value system of many in Hollywood.

An extremely high percentage of professors disagree with conservative principles.[1][2] Professors' common value system typically includes atheism,[3] censorship, socialism, unjustified claims of expertise and knowledge (for example, the dogmatic promotion of the theory of evolution),[4] liberal beliefs,[5] liberal grading, liberal bias,[6] anti-patriotism, lack of productivity, bullying or discouraging conservative students (for example, homeschoolers),[7][8] and promotion of sexual immorality.[9][10]

Bonus sections include "Crimes by Professors" and "Immoral, Unethical or Bizarre Behavior."

What? You want more?

And, if you're not in a bad mood, the Wingnut World Book entry on Barack Obama is just jaw-dropping.

Happy Duke Ellington's Birthday

Passing along greetings from Sean, whose got some rare videos of the Duke posted over at his place, visible after a bit of scrolling down.

Line of the Day: 2008-04-29

We think of these crises [Wright, lapel pin] as a test for Obama, but as things are currently playing out, they strike me as more of a test of our politics -- that is, of whether we are so fatally addicted to sideshows that we can't have a national election about even the most pressing national issues.
-- Roy Edroso

Sadly, I'm pretty sure we've already failed the test. For like the nineteenth time.

Monday, April 28, 2008

"The Empty Talk Express"

Reed Hundt offers a well-document case against John McCain, centered around this thesis:

John McCain is setting a remarkable record: he is the major party Presidential nominee with the skimpiest policy platform since Warren Harding or perhaps Calvin Coolidge. He's making George Bush's year 2000 policy work look encyclopedic by comparison.


The large truth well-known to mainstream media in Washington and to the candidate's colleagues is that John McCain has a well-established record of intemperate opinions, inadequately thought-through positions, and ill-considered views.

Hundt focuses mostly on McCain's views, or more accurately, the lack of them, in the areas of high tech, telecommunications, and alternative energy. Well worth reading.

Good for you, Barack

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton lined up with Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, in endorsing a plan to suspend the federal excise tax on gasoline, 18.4 cents a gallon, for the summer travel season. But Senator Barack Obama, Mrs. Clinton’s Democratic rival, spoke out firmly against the proposal, saying it would save consumers little and do nothing to curtail oil consumption and imports.


At a meeting with voters in North Carolina on Monday, Mr. Obama said lifting the gas tax for three months would save the average consumer no more than $30, a figure confirmed by Congressional analysts. Mr. Obama has previously dismissed Mr. McCain’s proposal as a “scheme.”

“Half a tank of gas,” Mr. Obama told his audience. “That’s his big solution.”


Mr. McCain and Mrs. Clinton propose to suspend the tax from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the peak driving season, which would lower tax receipts by roughly $9 billion and potentially cost 300,000 highway construction jobs, according to state highway officials.


Once again, the correct and responsible call by Obama, while Clinton joins McCain in trumpeting a feel-good measure that offers little real benefit and extracts real costs.

On the Internet, It Turns Out, Everybody Knows You're a Dog

This is just priceless.

Eric Kleefeld of TPM passes along this from Mark Nickolas: Terry McAuliffe, who is now the Clinton campaign's chairman, wrote a book that came out last year. One section has him bragging about talking tough to Michigan senator Carl Levin back in 2004, when McAuliffe was the DNC's chairman and Levin wanted to move his state's primary forward. Plus ça change, non?

Here's McAuliffe, speaking in the first person, with my emphasis added.

"You won't deny us seats at the convention," he said.

"Carl, take it to the bank," I said. "They will not get a credential. The closest they'll get to Boston will be watching it on television. I will not let you break this entire nominating process for one state. The rules are the rules. If you want to call my bluff, Carl, you go ahead and do it."

We glared at each other some more, but there was nothing much left to say. I was holding all the cards and Levin knew it.

Longer excerpt on Mark's blog.

(h/t: Oliver Willis)

Race to the Bottom

File this under blatantly obvious: Hillary Clinton sews up the all-important Bill Kristol endorsement. Of course he and his fellow wingnuts want to run against her, and now he's openly begging. Compared to him, Rush Limbaugh is a master of subtlety.

File this under new kid trying to make his contrarian bones: Apparently, someone at Slate let an intern fool with one of the computers. Out popped the bright idea is that Barack Obama should drop out of the race, which will (I am not making this up) then guarantee him the election in 2012. Why? Because he'll have "restored his messiah creds." And yes, he pluralized that last word, just in case you weren't convinced of his stupidity by the first three words. It does not seem to have occurred to this genius that within one second of such an announcement, the word "quitter" would instantly become the most heavily-used word in the English language. I don't think even Mark Penn would have been able to propose this with a straight face. Why Suellentrop thought this was worth linking to passes all understanding.

No. No direct links for either. Even low standards must be maintained. Visit the NYT op-ed home page and look around, if you must.

Putting on Ayers

Stanley Fish has a nice post up the Obama/Ayers fake controversy. This'll give you the flavor:

Now, in 2008, after a primary season increasingly marked by dirty pool and low blows, “McCarthyism” and “Swiftboating” have come together in a particularly lethal and despicable form. I refer to the startling revelation — proclaimed from the housetops by both the Clinton and McCain campaigns — that Barack Obama ate dinner at William Ayers’s house, served with him on a board and was the honored guest at a reception he organized.

Confession time. I too have eaten dinner at Bill Ayers’s house …

Hey, Buddy ... Can You Spare $5 Trillion?

Paul Krugman's latest column, "Bush Made Permanent," looks at John McCain's tax plan. Never was the name McSame more appropriate.

What with all the excitement over lapel pins and bowling scores, you probably don't have much more than a vague sense that this plan would be a disaster sufficient to give Grover Norquist wet dreams. Let Prof. Krugman lay out the specifics for you, in a mere 700 words. I was going to give the money quote, but that pretty much would have meant copying the whole thing.

Remember that PK was among the first to see through W's fiscal smoke and mirrors, way back there in 2000. Please don't ignore him this time around. We can't afford it.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Theocracy on the March, Part II

The National Day of Prayer has been around in the US in various forms since the beginning of the country. The latest incarnation stems from 1988, when Ronald Reagan signed into law a bill designating the first Thursday in May as the official NDOP.

Those of us who interpret the Constitution's freedom of religion clause to include freedom from religion aren't particularly enamored of such legislation, obviously. The original spirit appeared harmless enough: most people who paid attention to the NDOP saw it as a way to promote ecumenicalism. Recent developments, however, demonstrate why it's always a good idea to oppose such mixing of church and state from the start.

Last Thursday's MojoBlog reports the following. Shirley Dobson, the wife of James Dobson, has been designated chairperson of something called the National Day of Prayer Task Force. James Dobson, whom I've described before, is the head of Focus on the Family, a politically powerful organization of fundamentalist evangelical Christians. It is no stretch to call them The American Taliban.

Shirley Dobson and her task force are basically a subsidiary of Focus on the Family. They work out of the same offices. Lately, they have been portraying themselves as officially in charge of the National Day of Prayer. How's that's working out? About the way you'd expect:

According to Jay Keller, national field director of the Interfaith Alliance, Dobson has made a point of "excluding Jews, Muslims, Catholics, Buddhists, and even mainline Christians" from the National Day of Prayer.

Thanks to Dobson, this year's task force volunteers are required to sign pledges, stating: "I commit that NDP activities I serve with will be conducted solely by Christians while those of differing beliefs are welcome to attend." Volunteers must also affirm that they "believe that the Holy Bible is the inerrant Word of The Living God" and that "Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the only One by which I can obtain salvation and have an ongoing relationship with God."

Keller is not exaggerating. Here's the full text of the pledge section, copied from the application posted on the task force's web site.

Statement of Belief:

I believe that the Holy Bible is the inerrant Word of The Living God. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the only One by which I can obtain salvation and have an ongoing relationship with God. I believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, his virgin birth, his sinless life, his miracles, the atoning work of his shed blood, his resurrection and ascension, his intercession and his coming return to power and glory. I believe that those who follow Jesus are family and there should be unity among all who claim his name.

Here is an excerpt from the application's "Coordinator Qualifications:"

I agree to utilize and follow copyright usage of the NDP Task Force promotional materials to 1) perpetuate the annual theme and national media opportunities and 2) ensure a strong, consistent Christian message throughout the nation. I commit that NDP activities I serve with will be conducted solely by Christians while those with differing beliefs are welcome to attend.

Note also, in the same application, this additional bit of smarminess:

Official Policy Statement on Participation of "Non-Judeo-Christian" groups in the National Day of Prayer:

The National Day of Prayer Task Force was a creation of the National Prayer Committee for the expressed purpose of organizing and promoting prayer observances conforming to a Judeo-Christian system of values. People with other theological and philosophical views are, of course, free to organize and participate in activities that are consistent with their own beliefs. This diversity is what Congress intended when it designated the Day of Prayer, not that every faith and creed would be homogenized, but that all who sought to pray for this nation would be encouraged to do so in any way deemed appropriate. It is that broad invitation to the American people that led, in our case, to the creation of the Task Force and the Judeo-Christian principles on which it is based.

There may be an upside to this. Most people of faith tend not to confront extremists like Dobson. This has been a problem, since it has allowed the wingnuts to grow unfettered. On the other hand, their increased prominence brings into the spotlight their exclusivity and intolerance. It may not be an empty hope to think that it's getting to the point where the wingnuts will provoke active revulsion not just in people like me, but among those religious people who have stayed silent for too long.

USA Today, The Carpetbagger Report, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State have more.

Theocracy on the March

Via Instaputz and LGM, I came across an article in the NYT describing religious discrimination in the US armed forces. The piece starts by describing a particular incident:

When Specialist Jeremy Hall held a meeting last July for atheists and freethinkers at Camp Speicher in Iraq, he was excited, he said, to see an officer attending.

But minutes into the talk, the officer, Maj. Freddy J. Welborn, began to berate Specialist Hall and another soldier about atheism, Specialist Hall wrote in a sworn statement. “People like you are not holding up the Constitution and are going against what the founding fathers, who were Christians, wanted for America!” Major Welborn said, according to the statement.

Major Welborn told the soldiers he might bar them from re-enlistment and bring charges against them, according to the statement.

Last month, Specialist Hall and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an advocacy group, filed suit in federal court in Kansas, alleging that Specialist Hall’s right to be free from state endorsement of religion under the First Amendment had been violated and that he had faced retaliation for his views. In November, he was sent home early from Iraq because of threats from fellow soldiers.


... Timothy Feary, the other soldier at the meeting, said in an e-mail message: “Jeremy is telling the truth. I was there and witnessed everything.”

The article tries to get at the larger problem. The official word offers statistics to imply the problem is not widespread:

There are 1.36 million active duty service members, according to the Pentagon, and since 2005, it has received 50 formal complaints of religious discrimination, [Defense Department spokeswoman Eileen] Lainez said.

On the other hand:

... Mikey Weinstein, a retired Air Force judge advocate general and founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said the official statistics masked the great number of those who do not report violations for fear of retribution. Since the Air Force Academy scandal began in 2004, Mr. Weinstein said, he has been contacted by more than 5,500 service members and, occasionally, military families about incidents of religious discrimination. He said 96 percent of the complainants were Christians, and the majority of those were Protestants.

Complaints include prayers “in Jesus’ name” at mandatory functions, which violates military regulations, and officers proselytizing subordinates to be “born again.” After getting the complainants’ unit and command information, Mr. Weinstein said, he calls his contacts in the military to try to correct the situation.

“Religion is inextricably intertwined with their jobs,” Mr. Weinstein said. “You’re promoted by who you pray with.”

Two things to note about Weinstein's report: First, it's hardly surprising that most soldiers are reluctant to make complaints through official channels, especially in a combat zone, especially if they perceive most of their superior officers to be part of the problem.

Second, it's amazing how many of the complaints were sent in by soldiers self-identifying as Christians. This suggests the messages provoking the complaints must be particularly noxious.

Oh, and by the way? Maj. Welborn, the officer accused at the start of the article with threatening persecution, refused to be interviewed for the article, beyond saying:

I’d love to tell my side of the story because it’s such a false story.

I'm pretty sure how my fellow godless heathens will interpret that line. Probably just as well for him that he stopped there.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Rich Thoughts

Frank Rich tells Dems to calm down in his column this week, and among other points, makes an observation about the PA primary that I hadn't thought of:

... few noticed that on this same day in Pennsylvania, 27 percent of Republican primary voters didn’t just tell pollsters they would defect from their party’s standard-bearer; they went to the polls, gas prices be damned, to vote against Mr. McCain. Though ignored by every channel I surfed, there actually was a G.O.P. primary on Tuesday, open only to registered Republicans. And while it was superfluous in determining that party’s nominee, 220,000 Pennsylvania Republicans (out of their total turnout of 807,000) were moved to cast ballots for Mike Huckabee or, more numerously, Ron Paul. That’s more voters than the margin (215,000) that separated Hillary Clinton and Mr. Obama.


Those antiwar Paul voters are all potential defectors to the Democrats in November. Mr. Huckabee’s religious conservatives, who rejected Mr. McCain throughout the primary season, might also bolt or stay home. Given that the Democratic ticket beat Bush-Cheney in Pennsylvania by 205,000 votes in 2000 and 144,000 votes in 2004, these are 220,000 voters the G.O.P. can ill-afford to lose. Especially since there are now a million more registered Democrats than Republicans in Pennsylvania. (These figures don’t even include independents, who couldn’t vote in either primary on Tuesday and have been migrating toward the Democrats since 2006.)

The whole thing also includes some funny lines about McCain.

What You Don't Know

This week's On the Media starts off with an interview with Maj. Robert Bevelacqua. Bevelacqua was one of the sources quoted in the recent NYT exposé of the cozy relationship among TV military "analysts," the Pentagon, the Bush Administration, and defense contractors. If you didn't make it through the whole NYT article, this interview gives a good introduction to the goings-on. If you did make it through the whole article, you might get some additional sense of how it all worked by listening to Bevelacqua.

The second segment is an interview with Kevin Phillips, who describes how the government has, for several decades at least, been misleading the public in the way it measures and reports statistics like the unemployment rate and the GDP.

The rest of the segments are not quite as bleak. You may feel a need for them after the first two. The whole show is outstanding, in any case.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

One Point

Hillary Clinton won the primary in Pennsylvania, which might be news if you're just returning to this planet. With 99% of the vote counted, she has 54.7% of the popular vote and Obama has 45.3%.

Those of you trained in subtraction will notice that her margin of victory is 9.4%, or, rounding to whole numbers, 9%. However, I predict the Clinton campaign will round 54.7% up to 55% and 45.3% down to 45%, and then trumpet their "double-digit win."

Not that I'm saying she's dishonest. As far as I know.

In other campaign news that you might actually have missed, John McCain has been outed for a series of dubious pay-for-play transactions. There's probably a joke to be made about Diamond and the rough, but hanged if I can come up with it.

New To Me: Momentarily

Just started listening to this week's podcast of Poli-Sci-Fi Radio. Host Bill Simmon said, while making last minute tweaks, that we'd be hearing the show in "just a moment." Not, he stressed, "momentarily."

Bill claims that momentarily means "for a moment," and not "in a moment." This drives him particularly batty on airplanes, when flight attendants say, "We'll be taking off momentarily."

This concern is not his alone, apparently.

Co-host Steve Benen cracked up (NB: laughed, didn't go crazy) and said in response, "That train has left the station," meaning enough people make this mistake that it's futile to insist upon correcting it. I sure didn't know that this usage was incorrect.

Ruh roh. Time to scour everything I've written on the Web?

This gripe of Bill's calls to mind hopefully, which used to mean only "filled with hoped," but has since become accepted, also, to mean "it is to be hoped" or "I hope." I think even Safire surrendered on this one, after fighting for the distinction most of his life.

I feel your pain, though, Bill.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Neologism of the Day: 2008-04-22

Coined by Andrew Sullivan, to describe the baseless smears against Barack Obama: McTruthyism.

Uncommon Sense

From Brando, musing about music, specifically, the songs that have been most significant in his life:

I was also not a liberal until late in life, as it took me a long time to divorce the conservative beliefs I inherited. Nothing sped up that process like the events after 9/11, when I watched terrorists use murder to supposedly promote freedom, and then watched our government squash freedom to ostensibly fight terror.

The song that provoked this epiphany?

"(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding."

Java Update

Brian Krebs reports that Sun has released a new version of Java, which includes several bug fixes and a patch for "at least one security vulnerability." He also notes, and good for him, that Sun's usual method of notifying home users lags behind their releases, and that the page Sun offers to verify that you have the latest version is typically a little behind.

Depending on what part of Sun's site you want to believe, this is either version 1, release 6, or version 6, release 6. The important part is "release 6." The confusion in the major version number (1 or 6) is something to do with a never-ending battle between marketroids and developers. 'Nuff said.

If you're paranoid like me and you want the latest version, getting it is not particularly hard. Assuming that you just want the basic hunk of Java that lets your browser do its thing, visit this page and scroll down to where it says "Java Runtime Environment (JRE) 6 Update 6." Click the corresponding "Download" button. On the next page, choose your operating system. (Windows people: don't pick "Windows x64" unless that's what you really have. Just pick "Windows.") Check the box that says you agree to the license blah blah. Click "Continue."

On the next page, look for the section headed "Windows Offline Installation." Right-click the link labeled jre-6u6-windows-i586-p.exe and from the pop-up context menu, choose Save link as …. The file dialog box pops up. Save the file to your desktop. (Some of the latter details will differ if you're using a different operating system, obviously.)

After the file has finished downloading, double-click its icon to install. Accept all defaults. Close your browser and restart it. For a moment of irony, revisit the verification page to confirm that you have the latest version installed. (You will see that the new version is listed: 1.6.0_6.) Delete the file that you downloaded to your desktop.

As Krebs also reminds us, Sun is still unable to remove previous versions as part of the process of installing upgrades, so if you're as fastidious as me, use Windows's Add/Remove Programs to uninstall the old versions. Make sure not to delete the latest -- which will appear as "Java(TM) 6 Update 6."

What if you don't want to go through this? I suppose you could wait until Sun's update mechanisms notify you in the usual way, and trust to your otherwise safe surfing habits. It's probably not that big a deal.

Of course, while you're dilly-dallying, the terrorists will have won.

Monday, April 21, 2008

FT says about HRC: "Too many course corrections, not enough course."

The Financial Times, the world's largest financial newspaper, has endorsed Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination, acknowledging the similarities in policy proposals, and basing their recommendation mostly on his character and the evidence he has displayed in running a better campaign.


Mr Obama has fought a brilliant campaign, out-organising his opponent, raising more money, and convincing undecided Democrats as well as the country at large that he was more likeable, more straightforward and more worthy of trust.

On form, he is a spell-binding orator and holds arena-sized audiences in thrall. He is given to airy exhortations, it is true, but genuinely seeks consensus and has cross-party appeal.

Mrs Clinton’s campaign, in contrast, has been a shambles. She and her team expected to have it all sewn up long ago; they made no plans for a long struggle, ran short of money and had to reorganise on the run.

Her speaking style is pedestrian, when it is not actually grating. Those who dislike her tend to do so with a passion: her disapproval ratings started high and after months of campaigning are climbing still. It is a tribute to her tenacity and to the loyalty she commands in the party that her fate was not sealed weeks ago.

How much the way that a campaign is run tells you about a candidate’s fitness to be president is debatable – but it does tell you something, especially if the candidate with the misfiring strategy is running on a claim of management expertise.

On a related note, Hillary Clinton released an ad today that features Osama bin Laden. Desperate and despicable, I'd call it.

(h/t: astral66/TPM)

Pass Over This Column

Shorter Bill Kristol:

I liked John McCain's Passover card better than the ones from those two dirty smelly liberals. Therefore, he will be the best president ever.

Oh, and I like guns (because I'm not an elitist).

In defense of the son-of-an-Irving, there are no corrections attached to this week's column.


A Boy Not on the Bus

Nice to see at least one member of the MSM isn't suffering from The Crush:

[McCain's economic] plan’s incoherent smorgasbord of items includes a cut from 35 percent to 25 percent in the corporate tax rate. For noncorporate taxpayers, Mr. McCain offers such thin gruel as a battle against federal pork (the notorious Alaskan “bridge to nowhere,” earmarked for $223 million in federal highway money, costs less than a day of the war in Iraq) and a temporary suspension of the federal gas tax (a saving of some $2.75 per 15-gallon tank). Now there’s a reason for voters to be bitter — assuming bloviators start publicizing and parsing Mr. McCain’s words as relentlessly as they do the Democrats’.

That may be a big assumption. At an Associated Press luncheon for newspaper editors in Washington last week, Mr. McCain was given a standing ovation. (The other candidate who appeared, Mr. Obama, was not.) Cindy McCain, whose tax returns remain under wraps, has not received remotely the same scrutiny as Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton, except for her plagiarized recipes. The most damning proof of the press’s tilt toward Mr. McCain, though, is the lack of clamor for his complete health records, especially in the wake of his baffling serial factual confusions about Iraq, his No. 1 issue.
-- Frank Rich

Where Do We Sign Up to Resume Our Colonial Status?

If this is how they're thinking over there, I, for one, would welcome back our Imperial overlords.

A CHARITY set up by an ardent Christian to fight slavery and the opium trade has identified a new social evil of the 21st century - religion.

A poll by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation uncovered a widespread belief that faith - not just in its extreme form - was intolerant, irrational and used to justify persecution.

Pollsters asked 3,500 people what they considered to be the worst blights on modern society, updating a list drawn up by Rowntree, a Quaker, 104 years ago.

The responses may well have dismayed him. The researchers found that the “dominant opinion” was that religion was a “social evil”.

Many participants said religion divided society, fuelled intolerance and spawned “irrational” educational and other policies.

(h/t: PZ)

Jeopardy Time

Here’s the list:

Washington Post — One (and it was less than 400 words)

New York Times — Zero

Los Angeles Times — Zero

Boston Globe — Zero

Chicago Tribune — Zero

USA Today — Zero

Wall Street Journal — Zero

Can you guess the question?

Give up?

Okay, here it is:

How many of the nation’s largest daily newspapers ran stand-alone news articles about the revelations concerning the White House, the “Principals,” and the torture discussions?

This is from a post on The Carpetbagger Report. Bonus for visiting: a video of the most detailed coverage of the scandal so far.

Yup. From Jon Stewart.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Temper? Fugit.


About that McCain tendency to ...

Does he get angry? Yes. But it's never been enough to blur his judgment. . . . If anything, his passion and occasional bursts of anger have made him more effective.

Oh, good. I mean, if you can't trust Joe Lieberman, who can you trust?

Weirdly, it takes the WaPo five pages to list all the people who disagree.

(h/t: Steve Benen)

(pic. source)

Bitter Bikers for Obama

Real Time's Real Reporter Jeremy Scahill reports from some small towns in Pennsylvania. Anecdotal to be sure, but intriguing nonetheless:

The above is the sixth of nine segments from the 18 April 2008 show, all of which may be viewed by following the links on this page. (If you're visiting this page more than a week after this post was published, you may have to click the "See all videos" link.)

Line of the Day: 2008-04-20

Roy on that cover:

That the people who dig so deep to find offense are the same ones who constantly bitch that "political correctness" limits free speech would qualify as a irony if irony still existed.

Had It With the Current Slate?

Forget Nader. The Exterminator is running for president. Here's his elevator pitch:

I combine the doddering old age of McCain, the inexperience of Obama, and the sheer obnoxious of Clinton.

Nearly true fact-like claim: he participated in last Wednesday's debate and has a plausible explanation for why that failed to generate notice. Read all about it.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Military-Industrial-Media Complex

The New York Times has a long article up, headlined "Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand." It's a stellar piece of investigative journalism, based on a mountain of documentation not previously available, that details the relationships between the Pentagon, the White House, military contractors, lobbyists, and all those retired generals you always see on TV. The article describes the development and maintenance of an enormous message machine, and how it has been used in efforts such as the selling of the invasion of Iraq, the masking of the horrors of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, and promoting an ongoing, rosy outlook of The SurgeTM.

Most likely, you already have a sense that a lot of these talking brass hats have agendas and conflicts of interest that make their "analysis" more than a little suspect. The NYT's article, however, will not fail to astonish you with the extent of the organization, the amount of money involved, and the one-sidedness of the messages to be promulgated. Ditto the failure of media outlets to understand the ties that bind those whom they hire to opine on all matters military. Ditto the purging and banishing of those who strayed off message. It's well worth a look. If nothing else, it will give you an understanding of why so many liberals were initially snowed, and how people who get their information exclusively from Fox News are still so convinced of the wonderfulness of our excellent adventures in war.

Line of the Day II: 2008-04-19

About that Time magazine cover and the ensuing outrage:

It's one thing to rightly defend a truly monumental event in U.S. history from the whims of a cleverly ironic board of magazine editors, but it's another thing entirely to then up the irony yourself by dismissing the importance of an issue you don't know a damn thing about, nor do you care to investigate. No offense, but it makes it seem as if you fought in the Pacific for nothing more than the right to ignore anything you don't understand. Behold, the Fox News Channel's prime demographic.
-- Chez Pazienza

Line of the Day: 2008-04-19

(Actually, from two days ago.)

All you need to know about Wednesday's ABC debate, from Jon Stewart:

The first hour of last night's debate was a sixty-minute master class in questions that elevate out of context remarks and trivial, insipid miscues into subjects of national discourse … which is MY job.

[Added] This letter of protest is pretty good. The first comment, under the list of signatories, is great.

10-Second Geek Test

Does this make you laugh?

If yes, you are.

If no, see here and here for clarification.

Maybe There's Hope

Hard as this may be to believe, John Derbyshire has a good post up on The Corner. It's a succinct dismissal of the Creationist trope Darwin = Hitler, and it's as pointed as one could ask, especially considering where it's posted. Bonus points: Derbyshire is responding to an article published elsewhere on his own site!

(h/t: John Cole)

Your Moment of Awww

Swiped from Jinnet, a cat encounters a theremin. Worth watching till the end (only about 35 seconds), just to see the second cat.

(alt. video link)

That face, huh?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Your Moment of Mean

This is the artwork that accompanies Matt Taibbi's piece in Rolling Stone from a couple of months ago, "The New Nixon."

Taibbi's article was written back when Nevada was the key primary. (Remember that?) Given the events of the past month or two, it's remarkably prescient.

(h/t: look)

How Soon Till We Hear About "Traitorgate?"

(Updated below)

Robert Reich has endorsed Barack Obama for president. This is nice to hear, although not hugely surprising to some of us.

Reich, you may recall, was Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton from 1993-1997. You might also recall that another Clinton Cabinet official, Bill Richardson, has also recently endorsed Obama.

Reich begins his endorsement as follows:

The formal act of endorsing a candidate is generally (and properly) limited to editorial pages and elected officials whose constituents might be influenced by their choice. The rest of us shouldn't assume anyone cares. My avoidance of offering a formal endorsement until now has also been affected by the pull of old friendships and my reluctance as a teacher and commentator to be openly partisan. But my conscience won't let me be silent any longer.

I believe that Barack Obama should be elected President of the United States.

The full text of Reich's endorsement appears on his blog.

(h/t: Wonderment)


2008-04-19 01:35

Via John Cole, here's Robert Reich speaking to a reporter for New York magazine shortly after he posted his endorsement:

"I saw the ads" -- the negative man-on-street commercials that the Clinton campaign put up in Pennsylvania in the wake of Obama's bitter/cling comments a week ago -- "and I was appalled, frankly. I thought it represented the nadir of mean-spirited, negative politics. And also of the politics of distraction, of gotcha politics. It's the worst of all worlds. We have three terrible traditions that we've developed in American campaigns. One is outright meanness and negativity. The second is taking out of context something your opponent said, maybe inartfully, and blowing it up into something your opponent doesn't possibly believe and doesn't possibly represent. And third is a kind of tradition of distraction, of getting off the big subject with sideshows that have nothing to do with what matters. And these three aspects of the old politics I've seen growing in Hillary's campaign. And I've come to the point, after seeing those ads, where I can't in good conscience not say out loud what I believe about who should be president. Those ads are nothing but Republicanism. They're lending legitimacy to a Republican message that's wrong to begin with, and they harken back to the past twenty years of demagoguery on guns and religion. It's old politics at its worst — and old Republican politics, not even old Democratic politics. It's just so deeply cynical."

Why I Still Run Windows 2000

Via Luis, who blogs from a different dimension, a few minutes of validation for Apple and penguin lovers, and few minutes of commiseration for those still absorbed by the Borg:

(alt. video link)

Bitter Testaments

Three good reads, courtesy of James Wolcott.

All I know is, I didn't renew my online crossword puzzle subscription this past January, either

This just in:

The New York Times Company, the parent of The New York Times, posted a $335,000 loss in the first quarter -- one of the worst periods the company and the newspaper industry have seen -- falling far short of both analysts' expectations and its $23.9 million profit in the quarter a year earlier.

William KristolHmmm. What else happened one quarter ago? Oh, yeah.

Coincidence? I think not.

Just sayin', NYTpeeps: For the cost of one pink slip, you'd have $40 in cold hard cash coming from me the very next day.

And in addition to the boost in income, there are some cost savings to be had, I hear.

(pic. source)

Attn: PA

Hi, all you Pennsylvania people. In case you missed the Philadelphia Daily News today, they had this to say:


Even if you live in one of the unimportant 49 other states, you really should read their endorsement. I tried to pick an excerpt, but I ended up wanting to copy the whole thing.

(h/t: John Cole)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Firefox has released version The new version includes a patch to close one security hole, rated critical.

I just did the upgrade. No problems. Do Help -> Check for updates if you have automatic updates turned off.

Mozilla says the same patch is to be applied to Thunderbird and SeaMonkey as well. At this writing, the new version of Thunderbird is not yet available. I'll try to note, here, when it is. I don't use SeaMonkey, so I don't know about that.

Has "Farfallegate" Doomed The McCain Candidacy?

Cindy McCainCindy McCain, the (second, so far) wife of presumptive Republican nominee John McCain, has been implicated in a plagiarism scandal that has many observers speculating that Sen. McCain's chances to win the presidency are doomed.

According to the New York Times, the story was broken on The Huffington Post by David Weiner, acting on a tip from concerned citizen and environmental defense lawyer, Lauren E. Handel. Handel discovered that a recipe posted on the official McCain campaign web site in a section purported to be a listing of Cindy McCain's "family recipes" was, in fact, copied verbatim from the Food Network website. Further investigations revealed that several other recipes had also been copied, word for word, from the Food Network's site, and posted as "Cindy's Recipes" without attribution or acknowledgment.

The McCain campaign acted quickly after the scandal emerged, blaming an irresponsible intern for the plagiarism. Tucker "Out of" Bounds, one of McCain's chief spokesman said, ominously, "The intern has been dealt with," according to the Times. The Times also reports that Bounds refused to provide any more details.

Questions were immediately raised, however. The website, run by respected political reporter Perez Hilton noted, with a heavy tone of irony, "Always blame the intern." It will be hard not to draw eerie parallels between the McCain campaign's attempt to place all the blame on one lowly staff member and the Bush Administration's attempt to paint individual low-ranking soldiers as solely responsible for the widespread torture at Abu Ghraib. "Can you say scapegoat?" one political commentator wondered aloud.

The recipes have since been removed from the campaign's website. Veteran observers note, however, that the response by the McCain campaign may have only worsened the problem, saying it changes the perception of what might have been passed off as a mistake into a scenario involving a conspiracy to defraud the American public and an ill-considered attempt to cover up the activites only after they had been exposed.

The McCain campaign is already reeling from revelations about other aspects of Cindy McCain's dubious history, including her admission that she maintained her drug habit by stealing medications meant for poor people, and documented reports that her vast fortune comes from a family business focused on dealing other controlled substances. Some of this fortune has been used to purchase eight houses, raising numerous eyebrows about the hypocrisy of the McCain campaign labeling its opponent as "elitist."

Whispers are growing into murmurs concerning the fitness of Cindy McCain to be First Lady. Some observers also wonder whether the scandal-plagued wife indicates a propensity for poor judgment by John McCain when it comes to selecting close advisors. "What did Sen. McCain know, and when did he know it?" is sure to be a question on many minds in the coming days.

Some wonder if this is the final blow to Sen. McCain's erstwhile reputation as a "straight talker," pointing also to the questions raised about the candidate's financial shenanigans in dealing with public campaign funds, his refusal, despite numerous promises, to release his medical records, his continued unwillingness to make public the tax returns filed by him and his wife, and his recent stealthy conversion from one religion to another.

So far, the other Republican candidates have not issued official statements concerning the latest blow to the McCain campaign. However, a source familiar with the Romney campaign, who was granted anonymity because of fear of repercussions, said, "The important thing to remember is, Mitt Romney never actually withdrew from the race. He only 'suspended his campaign.' He could jump right back in at any time." Numerous prominent political bloggers have also remarked upon the new website launched just yesterday by Mike Huckabee.

Neither Sen. McCain nor Mrs. McCain has contacted this reporter to comment on this, their latest scandal.

In case you haven't already figured it out, the above is my sense of how a typical "news" story would read, had the recipe kerfuffle been connected instead with Michelle Obama.

(pic. source 1, pic. source 2)

Snark of the Day: 2008-04-16

When one analyzes [post-modernist and deconstruction] writings, one often finds radical-sounding assertions whose meaning is ambiguous and that can be given two alternative readings: one as interesting, radical, and grossly false; the other as boring and trivially true.
-- Alan Sokal, via Massimo Pigliucci

Conservatives Playing The Victim Card

Not exactly a news flash, I know. But Eve Fairbanks has a funny post on this evergreen. Part of it describes a National Review article whining about Wikipedia's "liberal bias."



To prove the existence of an anti-conservative cabal on Wikipedia, Miller cites two pieces of evidence:

1. David Vitter's sex scandal is mentioned in an earlier sentence on his Wikipedia page than Eliot Spitzer's is.

2. Jon Henke, George Allen's "new-media coordinator" during his 2006 campaign, feels that "on Wikipedia, we got our brains beat out" while, as Miller writes, "the [page] on Allen's Democratic opponent, Jim Webb, didn't suffer the same kind of treatment. 'His profile was glowing,' says Henke. In the end," Miller notes ominously, "Webb narrowly defeated Allen."

The National Review article is behind a pay wall. Probably just as well.


This is just amazing: Waxy has a collection links pointing to "Every" montages; e.g., every utterance of "dude" in The Big Lebowski and every utterance of "fuck" in Casino (two that I particularly enjoyed, as you might have guessed).

If nothing else, it's always nice to be reminded that you aren't the most obsessive person on the planet.

(h/t: Alan Jacobs)

Line of the Day: 2008-04-16

... one can’t help but notice that Michael Ledeen’s doctrine that “Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall” is taking on rather a new meaning these days; just as every kid has to touch a hot stove and everyone with a computer has to lose their files before they learn to back up, every generation of policymakers appears to have to learn by doing, at someone else’s expense, the limits of offensive war as a tool of foreign policy.
-- Daniel Davies

McSame As It Ever Was

Via TPM, here's the first anti-McCain ad from Progressive Media USA:

(alt. video link)

Keep 'em coming, I say.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Okay, This is Really The Last Word on Elitism

From Aidan via email: All politics is talking down to people, at least I have the integrity to tell them that I'm doing it.

Count on Hillary and the rest of the GOP attack dogs to denounce Obama for this.

Last Word on Elitism

From Jon Stewart (who better?):

(h/t: John Cole)

Better Know A Wingnut

[Update 2008-10-20 13:38 EDT: Link fix]

Roy Edroso, who usually delivers the goods at alicublog, has elsewhere published a must-read: "A confederacy of dunces", a.k.a. "The Official Village Voice Election-Season Guide to the Right-Wing Blogosphere."

If you've never read any of the people he describes, you'll pat yourself on the back for your precognition.

If I had any criticism to offer about Roy's guide, I'd say he's perhaps a little too kind. Other than that, it's a delight. I especially like the "Stupid/Evil Ratio" given for each.

Warning: Clear mouth of all fluids before beginning to read.

(h/t to you-know-who for the inspiration of this post's title)

Gun Nutty

Today's NYT has a story about gun control legislation at the state level. The headline and the lede suggest that the pendulum is swinging in the other direction: after a decade in which gun advocacy seemed to dominate, 38 states are considering some bills that feature some measure of increased control. Most of the efforts are on the edges; e.g., cutting off access to those with criminal records or a history of mental illness, and enhancing measures that would help trace guns used in crimes.

I used to be fairly extreme in my anti-gun attitude, thinking that apart from hunting rifles, they should all be banned. In one version of my ideal world, I still feel this way. But back here in reality, I've softened my stance. Pragmatically, I think the cat's out of the bag on this one -- given the amount of guns out there and the strength of the pro-gun lobby, it strikes me as a lost cause, and I'd rather see efforts focused elsewhere. I remain in favor of more localized efforts, but nationally, pushing for sweeping gun control a waste of time and political capital. So, I'm happy about the thrust of the NYT story.

I have also softened my stance in less cynical ways. The truth is, I now buy a lot of the arguments that pro-gun people put forth. The tipping point for me came when I was reading one of John Sandford's Kidd novels. Kidd, if you don't already know, is a genius computer hacker who is a force for good, but who often operates outside the law. At one point, Kidd is ruminating on a situation in which Congress is getting all bent out of shape about federal computers being broken into. He frets that there will be an irrational overreaction, paraphrased as, "Mothers Against Computers marching on Washington, and politicians saying, 'Why do these kids need these powerful computers, anyway? Only engineers and architects need them.' " And like that. And then it occurs to him that the same arguments all apply to guns -- the large majority of people who own and use them responsibly get tarred by the few who don't.

It's a bit of a specious argument, to be sure. It's slightly harder to kill people with a computer than with a gun, for one thing. But nonetheless, it was the last piece required to get me to reconsider the whole issue.

However, there's a sidebar to this NYT story. In addition to the recent spate of bills in favor of control, nine states are considering legislation that would allow students, teachers, and visitors, or some subset of those, to carry guns on college campuses. This brings back my old kneejerk inclinations in a rush. This strikes me as an idea for which the term boneheaded was invented.

On a related note, nine states (some different from those above) are considering legislation that would disallow property owners and employers to prohibit guns being brought onto their property. Calcified cranium, op. cit.

If I really stretch, I can see an argument that says if I'm allowed to carry a gun everywhere else I go, why should I be hampered by having to check my gun when I go to school or work?

But really? No.

The latter seems a violation of the rights of private property -- a man's home is his castle and all that. More to the point, both ideas just seem to be asking for trouble. Despite the sturm und drang that explodes when guys like Seung-Hui Cho crack, I am unable to believe that any sane person thinks everyone else packing heat is the appropriate countermeasure to forestall future similar events. And when I consider how often tempers flare in class or the workplace … let's just say that I expect the body count to go up. Way up.

Adam L and I have argued about gun control before, so he might have something to say that will make me think about this in another light, but for the moment, I'm going to put on Jane's Addiction, and turn the volume all the way up, and play one track until I feel better: Idiots Rule.

"So, you want to be a McCain Democrat?"

... asks Dan Payne, who then goes on to explain how dumb you are if you say yes. Payne makes me glad I have (so far) resisted the temptation to pledge not to vote for Hillary Clinton, no matter how much I hate her. It could, as he reminds us, be much worse.

(h/t: Instaputz)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Security Checklist

Brian Krebs has a nice post up. (He calls it a pop quiz, a clear sign that he needs editing help from me.) His checklist itemizes the latest versions of a dozen of the most popular software packages. All have recently been upgraded, and almost all have included patches to close potential security holes, so it's probably worth taking a look.

I give myself three geek points for scoring 100% up-to-date on all the applicable possibilities (I don't use every program he lists).

Krebs also points to a site called Secunia, where you can run a Java applet to verify the up-to-date status of a bunch of programs. Be aware that the site tries, mildly, to entice you into downloading other applications, which you may or may not want.

The application took a little over a minute to run for me, and it seems pretty good, as far as popular applications go. It incorrectly stated that I am behind the latest version on two applications, but noted farther down in the list of results that I do, in fact, have the latest versions. This is due to these applications -- Flash and the Java Runtime Edition -- not removing older versions when updating.

Krebs notes this exact result, and offers remedies which I just followed successfully:

  • Older versions of the JRE can be removed via Add/Remove Programs in the Windows Control Panel (careful not to remove the latest!).

  • The only way to remove older versions of Flash, it appears, is a marvel of kludgery: You download from Adobe a program to uninstall all versions of Flash, close your browser, run the program, fire up your browser again, re-download and reinstall the latest version of Flash, close your browser again, run the installation program, relaunch your browser, and verify the final result.

    Why the uninstaller program isn't included in the installer program remains a mystery to me -- it's not like either program is that big or takes that long to run.

    Anyway, it's easy enough to do, and doesn't take that much time, so if you're as paranoid and obsessive about these things as I am, you may want to do it. If you aren't, there are probably worse things you could neglect. The important thing is to be sure that you're running the latest version.

Josh: Not Bitter

Josh Marshall has a cool-headed reaction to the nonsense. I urge you to read the whole thing, but if you're pressed for time, here's his conclusion:

With the Wright business and now with this, the more nuanced version of the Clinton line has been that what 'we' think is not really the point. It's what Republicans will do with it in the fall. And that's a real concern that I definitely have. I won't deny it. I've never thought Obama was a perfect candidate. But as we get deeper into the primary calendar, increasingly so, this 'what the Republicans will do' line has become more of a simulacrum, or a license, if you will, to do what Republicans actually do do. That is to say, to grab for political advantage by peddling stereotypes about Democrats and liberals that are really no less offensive than the ones we're talking about about Americans from small town and rural America.

And seeing Hillary go on about how Obama has contempt for folks in small town America, how he's elitist, well ... no, it's not because I think she's either. I never have. But after seeing her hit unfairly with just the same stuff for years, it just encapsulates the last three-plus months of her campaign which I can only describe as a furious descent into nonsense and self-parody. Part of it makes me want to cry. But at this point all I can really do is laugh.


Looks like John McCain is still trying to keep the "elitist" meme alive.

I don't know whether I'm being part of the problem by responding to it, but I am unable to resist giving vent to my annoyance that the NY Times, as usual, blandly reports what McCain says about this, but fails to note that McCain is worth about $100 million, owns eight houses, dumped his first wife for a younger model, has based his recent self-promotion tour largely on his lineage ("the son and grandson of admirals!"), has been in the US Senate for two decades, and strongly favors Bush's tax cuts for the rich.

Even stenographers should know how to type incongruous.

Back to Business as Usual

Okay, we're done talking about how being bad at bowling means you hate people who go to church in small towns, right? It's time to return to …

Republicans Gone Wild!!!

Bruce Barclay, a Republican county commissioner in Pennsylvania, was exonerated of a charge of rape four days ago. The key to getting off (pun sort of intended)? Turns out he had secretly made a videotape showing himself having consensual sex with his 20-year-old accuser.

Unfortunately for his political career, he had also made other tapes of his other encounters with other partners. Hundreds of them. All filmed with surveillance cameras he had hidden in his home and office. Barclay admitted he had never obtained permission to film any of these encounters. And yeah, some of those were with prostitutes, for a while hired on a weekly basis.

In his defense, no women were filmed during the making of these films.

Math Quiz

How much significant progress can be achieved during one Friedman Unit?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

John Archibald Wheeler, RIP

One of the greatest physicists you maybe never heard of, John Archibald Wheeler, died this morning. He was 96.

The NY Times has a good obit that, among other things, contains this fine measure of his worth:

In 1973, Dr. Wheeler and two former students, Dr. Misner and Kip Thorne, of the California Institute of Technology, published "Gravitation," a 1,279-page book whose witty style and accessibility -- it is chockablock with sidebars and personality sketches of physicists -- belies its heft and weighty subject. It has never been out of print.

Even better, however, is the remembrance by a former student, Daniel Holz.

Politician Tells Truth. Nation Loses Mind.

Over the past couple days, I have watched no TV, listened to no radio, and done very little surfing. And still, I am unable to escape the latest in the Clinton-GOP campaign to destroy America.

Seriously, Obama remarked that some people are bitter about not having their concerns addressed by their own government, and this means he's "elitist?" And this means he's a bad candidate?

I don't want to comment any further on the amount of repugnance I feel for Hillary Clinton at this point. If you want a sense of my mood, head on over to Balloon Juice. John Cole feels about the same as I do, except he's being way more polite than I would. You can start with any of these.

[Added] More bitterness about "bitterness," by driftglass. A top-notch screed.

[Added] Robert Reich takes a calmer approach.

Polite "No" of the Day: 2008-04-13

From the best story I've read in days, how one guy characterized his firm's response to a certain someone seeking a job:

"I wouldn’t say 'rebuffed.' I would say 'not taken up.' "

Iraq? Yawn.

Frank Rich has a really good column in today's NYT. Fans like me need no prodding to read Frank Rich, but if you're disinclined to read him for some reason, I urge you to give this one a chance, anyway. The piece is not so much a hyperpartisan screed as it is a hard look at the inescapable truth of Americans' unwillingness to pay attention to what's going on.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

No Principles Radio

Yet another reason not to renew my NPR membership:

An In-Joke Goes Mainstream

Screen grab of an image of the back of Matthew Yglesias's new book. Click to enlarge, and note the first blurb:

Yglesias: Heads in the Sand (back cover)

What, you no know this phrase?

[Added] Bonus MattY line, from another post:

Certainly I look forward to when rescuing holders of Iraqi bonds from default becomes the rationale for why we can't leave Iraq.

Bill Clinton: Dumb, Senile, or Already Still in The Bubble?

In "explaining" the Bosnia "under sniper fire" misspeak, the husband of the woman who wants you to think she's the best one to be answering the phone at 3 a.m. says:

And some of them when they're 60 they'll forget something when they're tired at 11 o'clock at night, too.

Hard to believe that I ever thought this guy was a good politician. Even harder to believe: on reading the whole thing, I actually felt a pang of sympathy for Hillary. Momentary, nay, fleeting, but there it was.

Friday, April 11, 2008

"Screw Hillary"

What John Cole said.

And be sure to follow John's link to the post by Oliver Willis (or just click that one, which I swiped).

Oh, and via Instaputz, you might also see this.

The campaign has been too long, and there have been too many periods with nothing of substance for anyone to write about, and I get that Hillary knows what her base is, but seriously, the Clinton campaign has long been acting no better than, and no different from, what we seek to replace.

[Added] Further context, via Tim Dickinson:

(alt. video link)

[Added] Still more context, from TPM, here and here.

Cavett. Just Cavett.

Go read "Memo to Petraeus & Crocker: More Laughs, Please." You'll be glad you did.

Forget the cherry blossoms ...

... now there's a real reason to go to Washington, D.C.

I have one quibble with the reporter's reaction:

I doubt that I would have felt these transformations with the same force had I just tried to read the faded ink on Jefferson's rough draft of the Declaration of Independence, protected behind glass at the Library of Congress.

Glass or no glass, there is magic in the seeing the old works in the original. I still remember vividly trips to the National Archive and the Huntington Library, and one other place whose name I've forgotten, but which had a first printing of the Principia.*

Still, the new electronic displays sound like a lot of fun, and hyperlinking is always nice to have available.

I could not agree more with this:

I'm not keen on the name it has given its project: "The Library of Congress Experience."

Yes. That word should have been banned as a proper noun once Jimi departed.

* Which, careful long-time readers will know, I am now delighted to pronounce as prin-KIP-ee-uh. Hard Cs rule.

John McCain: Dumb, Senile, or Already in The Bubble?

John McCainGreg Sargent has two posts up on TPM, describing yet another McCain Moment.

It seems the campaign just sent out a new fundraising letter based mostly on attacking George Soros. No surprise there -- the image of Soros is more of a bogeyman for the wingnuts than a hot tub full of Clintons and Hollywood elites.

However, it turns out that John McCain has a history of accepting Soros's money. So far, the count is up to $450,000.

(pic. source)

Something to Gnaw Over

The Dean of UC Berkeley's law school, Christopher Edley, Jr., has posted a statement arguing why he is not inclined to dismiss John Yoo from the faculty.

Viscerally, of course, I think John Yoo should be wrapped in manacles and a hood, flown around the world chained to the floor of a cargo plane, and subjected to a few years of the medicine he helped prescribe. But Edley makes a good case for there being insufficient grounds for firing Yoo according to official university policy. He also raises an emotional point which resonates with me: that rights like academic freedom mean nothing unless they also apply to unpopular points of view.

I'm still of the opinion that a larger "law" applies in this particular case, because I think Yoo failed to do his job as a counselor to the White House to a degree which I'd call criminally negligent, de facto if not de jure. It was not his job to act like a common criminal defense lawyer, looking for a technicality through which he could exonerate his client. It was his duty to represent the intention of United States law fairly, and he did the exact opposite. So, I'd still vote to dismiss Yoo* if it were up to me, but I do think Edley's argument is worth considering.

(h/t: Paul Kiel/TPM)

* I almost typed "to can Yoo," but that would have been silly. Besides, I couldn't figure out how to get "who" in there.

Looking on the Bright Side

My impotent frustration over the ongoing mass-emailing smear campaigns targeted against Barack Obama has been momentarily assuaged.

According to TrendLabs:

A new spam run that TrendLabs Content Security has recently come across features spammed e-mail messages that entice readers to click a link, which supposedly has a video of Obama’s confessions regarding “his transsexual affairs.” The links lead to the download of the file Barack_Obama-videostream.v182.exe, which Trend Micro detects as BKDR_AGENT.ABTQ.

I can only hope the wingnuts eagerly forward this one to all their friends.

Cliché Breakdown

(Updated below)

Via email from AMP, a case where Better late than never is certainly not true:

Beneath the photo from the REAGAN DIARIES is an actual quote that Reagan wrote about George "W" in his diaries, recently edited by author Doug Brinkley and published by Harper Collins:

Young chimp in background

"A moment I've been dreading. George brought his n'er-do-well son around this morning and asked me to find the kid a job. Not the political one who lives in Florida; the one who hangs around here all the time looking shiftless. This so-called kid is already almost 40 and has never had a real job. Maybe I'll call Kinsley over at The New Republic and see if they'll hire him as a contributing editor or something. That looks like easy work."

I'm a little suspicious that this is an urban legend. Anyone know? But if true, it's a damned shame this didn't come out in 1999.

[Added] Oops. Just noticed that KK sent a similar email, too. H/T, KK.


2008-04-11 14:55

Eponym notes in the Comments that this is indeed an urban legend, at least, according to Snopes. Thanks, Eponym.