Sunday, November 30, 2008

McCaffrey: Gotta Get Paid

Barry McCaffreyDavid Barstow has a long investigative piece profiling Barry McCaffrey in yesterday's NY Times: "One Man’s Military-Industrial-Media Complex."

The piece is in some ways so distressing that after I read it yesterday morning, I couldn't think of anything to say after copying and pasting the URL. I still don't have much to offer beyond thinking that it's required reading for anyone who wants a glimpse at how things too often work when it comes to "informing the public."

Barstow's piece recalls another one of his that I noted back in April, which looked at the problem of retired generals on TV and their undisclosed conflicts of interest as a widespread phenomenon. This new one concentrates on the guy who I guess could be called the epitome since I don't think many people would be happy if I just called him the biggest scumbag of them all.

The problem is, it appears that McCaffery (and the other retired generals) don't seem to have broken any laws. I suppose one could argue that they were accomplices in conducting psywar or at least propagandizing their own fellow citizens. McCaffrey would like to claim he was a critic, not a cheerleader, and I'll grant that he was less consistently onerous in this regard than some of the others -- he seems to have been more motivated by making money than in snowing the public about how swimmingly things were going in Iraq.

The media outlets who have these guys on are also due a lot of chastising. I found Steve Capus, the president of NBC News, to be just as distasteful as McCaffrey in his refusal to acknowledge how wrong it is for his organization not to have found out or disclosed the conflicts of interests.

Barstow's article brought to mind so many other things that depress me about my country -- how bloated the defense budget is, how well-greased the revolving door between government service and the private sector is, how naively reverent we are of those in uniform, how profit-driven and ethics-free the TV news biz has become now that they're just subsidiaries of giant corporate conglomerates … ahhh, this isn't doing much to encourage you to read the article, is it?

Forget what I said. Just go read it. And don't miss the many sidebar features, particularly the narrated slideshow that Barstow assembled back in April to accompany his earlier piece (direct link).

Shoutout to Barstow for the work he put in and the details he dug up. Long live real newspapers and real reporters.

(pic. source)

Ryan Tate at Gawker notes the piece, too. He makes a point that occurred to me, too: just as with the April article, there's the feeling that Barstow's efforts will likely be for naught. Not enough people will feel the same amount of outrage as we do, and in any case, how are we poor slobs going to effect change on this whole rotten system?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A New Role Model

Given the onslaught of conflict-of-interest stories leaking from every orifice of the news biz (et tu, NPR?), I think we should all bow down to John Holbo and hope that all in the media do, too.

Why? Glad you asked. Here's what he appended to a post discussing the question of Bush as worst president ever:

Full disclosure: I’m married to a woman who is descended from James Buchanan, so it may be that I am over-eager to see the mantle of ‘worst’ pass to another family line, freeing my offspring from the stain of shame.

A Guide to Mumbai

If you're like me and feel like reading the newspapers' accounts of the recent events in Mumbai, India, leaves you wishing for context, here's a diavlog from that will help quite a bit: Henry Farrell interviewing Sumit Ganguly. It was recorded yesterday, so they're a little behind on specific events, but you'll learn a lot about the bigger picture.

(alt. video link)

If you'd rather not sit through this video here, you can follow the "alt. video link" and download either a video (WMV) or audio (MP3) file for your offline enjoyment and edification.

Refs: Sumit's bio | Henry's bio | Henry's blog

Friday, November 28, 2008


Obama, Barack Obama:  Stirred, not shaken

Swiped from bartcop.

House of Worship

house of worship

I swiped this from page 41 of Ed Krebs's H.E.R.B. Cartoon Archive, which is billed as:

The Best Anti-Theocracy, Anti-Religion, and Anti-Bush Regime cartoons collected from the Internet since the Bush 'Re-election' of 2004.

The pages are presented in reverse order, so page 41 is page 2, as it were. I have a feeling I'm going to be there for a while. Plenty of good quotes, too.

I should note that this collection appears to be more of a hobby, and that it appears that Ed Krebs also has a job. That he's good at.

Thanks to Piraro for the starting link.

Others that caught my eye (so far): here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Everybody Loves a Parade. And I Mean Everybody.

(alt. video link)

Andrew Sullivan calls this "very 2008," but I wonder: Has this guy taken a page from the Shatner playbook; i.e., willingness to self-mock as a path to career rejuvenation?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Lame Fuck

I keep seeing stories about Bush's last minute shenanigans, but I haven't been able to bring myself to note them. The tendency is to be happy that Obama won, won cleanly, won convincingly, and that he's shown every sign of being more than ready to lead on day one. The temptation is just to watch (urge!) the clock run out on the worst presidency ever, perhaps daring to believe at this point that even he (and Cheney) might not do anything else dreadful, like bombing Iran, over the next two months.

However, the thing to remember about Bush, even more important than the sudden fondness he developed for playing Commander in Chief guy, is that his primary goal in office has always been to make things ever more cushy for his corporate and country club pals. Ryan Avent puts it succinctly :

You know, president Bush had absolutely nothing to lose in the lame duck session. Not a thing. His reputation is already tarnished beyond repair. His legacy — economic disaster, thousands of lives lost to questionable ends, torture, domestic surveillance, complete inaction on the dire threat of climate change — is set. His future in politics and business is non-existent. There is basically no reason that he couldn’t do whatever he wanted to do with his last few months.

He very easily could have asked Congress to send him a stimulus bill, even a modest one, amid an intensification of what will likely be the worst recession in thirty years, if not longer. It would have made a difference. It would have made the season a little more bearable for the growing numbers of unemployed, and it would have made Obama’s task a little less daunting.

Instead, he’s spending his waning days weakening environmental rules, helping his cronies get jobs in the professional bureacracy, and preparing his pardons. What a stupid, despicable man. History can’t judge him too cruelly

Matt Yglesias quotes part of the above, piles on, and adds some thoughts that spread some of the blame to the so-called "movement conservatives."

In a way, this offers some hope of retribution, at least in an abstract sense. While we'll never be able to punish Bush for anything he's done, nor can we even hope that his conscience will ever overcome his self-delusion and the certain circle of fawners he'll be surrounding himself with for the rest of his life, it does help to think that his atrocious behavior has put a huge black mark on ConservatismTM. This, combined with Obama, gives me long term hope.

But viscerally, I like to picture Bush a few years from now, half-drunk, still without a book deal, sitting in an easy chair in some richly appointed parlor, when the sycophants have momentarily left the room and their chants of praise have faded, suddenly having a really bad moment.

I can only hope there will be plenty of pretzels within reach.

Idealism Tempered By Reality

Ad for a T-shirt, showing, once again, that the kids are all right:

Make awkward sexual advances not war

L'Chaim To All, And To All A Good Night

George W. Bush: I'm with stupidStill Doin' a Heckuva Job Department: George and Laura Bush send out a Hanukkah card featuring a Christmas tree.

The message reads that the couple "requests the pleasure of your company at a Hanukkah reception," written beneath an image of a Clydesdale horse hauling a Christmas fir along the snow-dappled drive to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

And, no, it is not a Hanukkah bush. A close look at the wagon reveals the message "White House Christmas Tree 2008."

In the background, the White House windows are festooned with Christmas wreaths.

Remember when cluelessness about these little differences wasn't quite so funny?

(h/t: Wonkette | pic. source)

[Added] Also from Wonkette, headline of the day:

Much Like Republicans, Al Qaeda Whines About Pro-Obama Media Bias

Wingnut Watch

Just in case you thought I was being too dismissive of The Corner earlier …

Apparently, Mark Steyn thinks Rosa Parks is a wart of (on?) American history.

(h/t: Jon Swift)


Jinnet's latest post contains a disparaging link to yet another thumbsucker on "the death of irony." I started to post a comment and noticed the CAPTCHA. It was so ironic I feel compelled to repeat my comment here:

Thank you for saying "umpteenth." I'm hard-pressed to name a type more annoying than those tightasses who feel entitled to project their own onset of humorlessness onto everyone else.

Heh. The CAPTCHA for this comment seems like a perfect word for such people: CRITCH.

Bonus: there appears to be an existing definition for this word, also curiously relevant.

Secular Right

Via Andrew Sullivan, I just came across a group blog called Secular Right. It appears to have launched less than a week ago. From my initial visit, I'd say this is a good one to watch, if for no other reason than the feeling of relief provoked by seeing hardcore conservatives making every effort to separate themselves from the fundies. Also, this seems like a good place to go to check the pulse of the thoughtful Right, a much more substantive alternative to what passes for thinking from the likes of Bill Kristol, Rush Limbaugh, Jonah Goldberg, Bill O'Reilly, and most of the cretins on The Corner.

Several of the recent posts feature some of the site's bloggers outing themselves; i.e., after having begun blogging under pseudonyms, they have revealed their meatspace identities. I don't know why, but there it is. In any case, we can now say that among the group are Walter Olson, Razib Khan (aka David Hume), and John Derbyshire (aka Bradlaugh).

Derb also outed himself in a different venue, by announcing the launch of Secular Right on The Corner. Derb posted, on Secular Right, some of the reactions to this announcement. I liked this exchange:

Reader C:

Dear John — Is your blog limited to atheists and agnostics or will it take in believers who think God is more worried about the next world than how government should work in this one?

[Me]  That’s nicely said. As usual with enterprises of this sort, we haven’t really worked out the limits yet. We are definitely hospitable to apatheists (i.e. no opinion about God & couldn’t care less) as well as agnostics (not sure) and atheists (sure not).

Here's a good post to get you started: Derb dissing Dinesh D'Souza, an endeavor I'd like to see happening far more often.

Here's a link from the blog's second post: a letter to David Frum, penned by James Charles Wilson, a mechanical engineering professor at the University of Denver. Well worth reading.

These cherry-picked recommendations notwithstanding, I don't expect that I'll always agree with these guys. In fact, I expect not to agree with them much of the time. And that's a good thing.

I'll be adding Secular Right to my blogroll momentarily (hope their servers are up for it!). And while I'm at it, I'll be adding Daniel Larison's Eunomia and Andrew Sullivan's The Daily Dish. (oops -- already there, under T -ed.) I hope Jon Swift won't be too upset that he's no longer the sole reasonable conservative listed.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Listening Recommendation

I've mentioned Poli-Sci-Fi Radio before. It's one of my favorite podcasts. This week's episode is especially good. Two of the highlights: Steve gives a detailed wrap-up of Obama's likely Cabinet officials and Bill nerdgasses over the trailer for the new Star Trek movie. Also of interest: the political gamesmanship involved in Joe Biden's resignation from the Senate, brief reflections on Lieberman's slap on the wrist, a look at the recent indictment of Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzales, Bill's report on the first meeting he attended as a new board member for the Vermont chapter of the ACLU, worrying about the possible death of the Sarah Connor Chronicles, more nerdgassing over Firefly, and a possible call to action to bring Netflix to its knees. Bonus: Discussion of Sarah Palin comprises two sentences total. Good times. Stream or download the MP3 at the above link, or subscribe (for free) via iTunes by clicking this direct link.

And congratulations to PSFR on their one-year anniversary (official celebration next week).

Historical Tidbit

Today's New York Times has an interesting op-ed by Kenneth C. Davis that tells a story I've never heard before: there was a French settlement in what would eventually become the United States long before the Mayflower landed -- half a century earlier, as a matter of fact.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Blogroll Update

Dan Weston is now blogging at a new address. No more Rantings of a Crazed Lunatic. Long live Zo Kwe Zo.

The old content from ROACL is now at the new site, including the comments.

Dan's first post on Zo Kwe Zo explains the thinking behind the move. Drop by and wish him luck, and don't forget to change your bookmarks and feeds. I'll leave the ROACL link in the blogroll for a little while, just in case.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Go read bitchphd's Dear "Conservative" Students.

There. Don't you feel better?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Look at Little Sister

Candace Gingrich tells big brother Newt what for. Scathing, and properly so.

(h/t: John Cole)

"The Bush Legacy: War on the Press"

Eric Alterman and George Zornick have posted the first of a promised series of columns detailing the myriad of ways that the Bush Administration has shut down the flow of information.

You probably already have a general sense of this problem. -- I'm sure the phrases "missing White House emails," "secure undisclosed," "man-sized safe," and "redacted" have by this point become taglines in your jokes. Alterman and Zornick's piece lays out a number of the specific problem areas.

I'll try to note when the next pieces come out. [update: see here and here] You can do this, too, by tracking Altercation, Eric Alterman's blog.

On a related note, via Altercation, check out Eric Boehlert's column forecasting how the press will treat the Obama Administration. He compares the MSM's treatment of the Clinton and Bush administrations, and guess what his prediction is? Hint: think about how much screaming the rightwing noise machine has already been doing about the media being "in the tank for Obama."

[Added] On a related related note: see this quick bit from John Cole on Mark Halperin.

[Added] More on Halperin from Bob Cesca.

Another nugget picked up from Altercation: (most of) one of Alterman's books, Why We're Liberals: A Political Handbook for Post-Bush America appears to be available for viewing online.

Obama's Weekly Address: 2008-11-21

(alt. video link)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fun With Doughy

From World O' Crap:

Jonah Goldberg

Go see. They have words, too.

The Right's Stuff

Far be it from me to proclaim the death of the GOP, or even to chortle over their lack of standard bearers moving forward. I will just note that I followed NoMoMrNB's link to the latest Hugh Hewitt piece over on, and this is the top ad they were running right next to it:

Wingnut T-shirt

Partial screenshot (click to enlarge):

Clownhall screenshot

I've Got Your Pork Right Here

If you're tired of the endless speculation/soap opera involving Obama's possible picks for various Cabinet and other staff positions, here's something more meaty for you: Cernig at NewsHoggers has posted a serious article on defense spending that's well worth a read: "You And What 44 Other Armies?"

I had not heard the new slogan "Four Percent for Freedom" before. Sounds suspiciously resonant, doesn't it?

(h/t: Sadly, No!)


A horrifying cacophony of meaningless noise, screeching, and unintelligible vocalizations.

You get the feeling that the turkeys were fighting to be next in line just to escape her voice.

Guess who TBogg is talking about.

Second Ship

And speaking of coincidences, I just read a second piece with the same title: "Ship of Fools."

This one describes last year's wingnut wankfest, aka the National Review cruise, and it is alternately horrifying and wonderful.

Link via teh Sadlys, who have kicked off their coverage of this year's cruise, which appears to have finished just recently. Their title? "Jonah Ark." Also awesome.

[Added] I hadn't heard of Johann Hari, the author of the "Ship of Fools" piece, so I Googled him. Here's the last paragraph from his own site's About page:

Since he began work as a journalist, Johann has been attacked in print by the National Review, the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail, John Pilger, Daniel Craig, Peter Oborne, Private Eye, the Socialist Worker, Cristina Odone, Jon Gaunt, the Spectator, Andrew Neil, Mark Steyn, the British National Party, Medialens, al Muhajaroun and Richard Littlejohn. 'Prince' Turki Al-Faisal, the Saudi Ambassador to Britain, has accused Johann of "waging a private jihad against the House of Saud". (He's right). Johann has been called 'Maoist' by Nick Cohen, "Stalinist" by Noam Chomsky, 'Horrible Hari' by Niall Ferguson, "an uppity little queer" by Bruce Anderson, 'a drug addict' by George Galloway, "fat" by the Dalai Lama and "a cunt" by Busted.

To which can only add that this little pissant has no business accomplishing so much more than I have, especially at his unadvanced age. See his latest column for another example. And the one before that. And the one before that.

Would You Believe ...

... Snoop Dogg on Martha Stewart's show? It's actually pretty entertaining, and I say that as someone who ordinarily can't stand Martha Stewart.

F. A.

It was an obvious joke, but I did make it, and now it has come to pass: Bill Ayers has been interviewed by Terry Gross. It's quite good. Even if you read the Salon interview I recommended a few days ago, there's more to be had.

I particularly like the way he refuses to take the easy way out, dismissing the shallowness and meaninglessness of our current "age of apology." At the same time, the interview makes clear how stupid it is to call him "unrepentant," let alone a "terrorist." Things just aren't that simple.

Set aside 45 minutes and go listen.

(If the thought of sitting at your computer for that length of time seems unbearable, you can subscribe to the Fresh Air podcast, and download it for offline listening. More info here.)

(h/t: Twin, via email; reminded by Ta-Nehisi Coates)

We Like Beer

The King of Beers, once served in splendid isolation at many bars, is now surrounded by motley bottles with ridiculous names, like jesters at a Renaissance fair: SkullSplitter, Old Leghumper, Slam Dunkel, Troll Porter, Moose Drool, Power Tool, He’brew, and Ale Mary Full of Taste.

Just one of the many, many great lines from a great article on craft brewing by Burkhard Bilger in The New Yorker. It's centered on Sam Calagione, the founder of Doghouse Head brewery, but it takes looks at the bigger picture as well. An absolute delight to read.

(h/t: Ta-Nehisi Coates)

(post title stolen, too)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"Ship of fools"

Can you guess the publication? Recent commentary begins:

Political parties die from the head down

JOHN STUART MILL once dismissed the British Conservative Party as the stupid party. Today the Conservative Party is run by Oxford-educated high-fliers who have been busy reinventing conservatism for a new era. As Lexington sees it, the title of the “stupid party” now belongs to the Tories’ transatlantic cousins, the Republicans.

There are any number of reasons for the Republican Party’s defeat on November 4th. But high on the list is the fact that the party lost the battle for brains. Barack Obama won college graduates by two points, a group that George Bush won by six points four years ago. He won voters with postgraduate degrees by 18 points. And he won voters with a household income of more than $200,000—many of whom will get thumped by his tax increases—by six points. John McCain did best among uneducated voters in Appalachia and the South.

The Republicans lost the battle of ideas even more comprehensively than they lost the battle for educated votes, marching into the election armed with nothing more than slogans. Energy? Just drill, baby, drill. Global warming? Crack a joke about Ozone Al. Immigration? Send the bums home. Torture and Guantánamo? Wear a T-shirt saying you would rather be water-boarding. Ha ha. During the primary debates, three out of ten Republican candidates admitted that they did not believe in evolution.

From that bastion of the far left ...

(h/t: Andrew Sullivan)

While Waiting for the Economy to Rebound

Or, as John Wilkins more positively puts it: "Internet justifies itself at last!"

(alt. video link)

Oh, yeah. It's real:

Shorter of the Day: 2008-11-20

Shorter Madison: Where fundamental rights are concerned, the popular will can pound sand.
-- Jiminy Jilliker

That's Madison, James Madison, JJ's talking about. Do read the whole thing, even though I just stepped on his punchline.

Line of the Day: 2008-11-20

Reacting to wingnut reactions to yesterday's Kathleen Parker column, here's Kevin Drum (his picture, too):

Wingnuts for BushOK, maybe "oogedy-boogedy" wasn't the most felicitous phrase to use. Sway to the music all you want and no one will mind. But I think conservatives do themselves a disservice if they pretend not to know what Parker is talking about.

There will always be plenty of votes for a culturally conservative party. That's not the problem. The problem is the venomous, spittle-flecked, hardcore cultural conservatism that's become the public face of the evangelical wing of the GOP. It's the wing that doesn't just support more stringent immigration laws, but that turns the issue into a hate fest against La Raza, losing 3 million Latino votes in the process. It's the wing that isn't just a little skittish about gay marriage, but that turns homophobia into a virtual litmus test, losing 6 million young voters in the process. It's the wing that isn't just religious, but that treats belief as a precondition to righteousness, losing 2 million secular voters in the process. It's the wing that isn't just nostalgic for old traditions, but that fetishizes the heartland as the only real America, losing 7 million urban voters in the process. It's the wing that goes into a legislative frenzy over Terry Schiavo but six months later can barely rouse itself into more than a yawn over the destruction of New Orleans.

(h/t: Instaputz)

Rushmore Dap

Rushmore dap

(swiped from Chez Pazienza)

If You've Got a Busy Day Ahead ...

... stop reading this post now.

If not, then head on over to the start page where Google is hosting a LIFE magazine photo archive that spans more than a century. It's browsable, has some taxonomy, and of course it's searchable, too.

The search functionality can be used from the main Google Image Search page, too (NB: not the main Google page). Just add the string source:life to your search terms, and the results return will be exclusively from this hosted archive.

Hank AaronFor example, if you wanted to search on a boyhood hero whose uniform number has some current significance, enter

   "hank aaron" source:life

to obtain these results.

The source:life bit can be placed before or after the search keywords.

Link via Julianne Dalcanton of Cosmic Variance, who used the archive to put together a very nice post featuring pictures of old astronomers.

[Added] Sean finds another, with a funny twist.

Thunderbird Update

Mozilla has released a patch for their Thunderbird email client, bringing the latest version to This version closes several security holes. (details)

If you don't have automatic updates turned on, do Help → Check for Updates from within Thunderbird.

The patch is so small I wasn't able to see its size in bytes. Download, automatic install and restart took less than a minute, so there's no reason to put it off.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"All over but the lying"

Jamison Foser has an excellent column on the immediate counterspin that the Villagers and the right wing noise machine launched right after Election Day. He posted it on 7 November, but it hasn't gone the slightest bit stale.

The lede:

On Tuesday, Americans chose as their next president an African-American named Barack Obama who campaigned on a near-universal health-care plan, allowing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy to expire, and a move away from the belligerent foreign policy of the past eight years. Republicans, and some journalists, had spent months (falsely) saying Obama is the single most liberal member of the U.S. Senate -- and maybe even a socialist. The American people responded by electing him in a landslide.

This, naturally, is very good news for the Republicans, according to many pundits. It proves once again that America remains a "center-right" nation.

The rest.

Scrollin', Scrollin', Scrollin' ...

Click the link, look away, and let the page load to completion: The Burj Dubai.

Obama Slideshow

Scout Tufankjian has a book coming out soon that collects the photography she did, following Obama around since December 2006. Lots of the pictures are available for viewing on her website right now and it's definitely worth a look. She has a real eye for off-angle shots and finding a distinctive face in a crowd. But first, read Kevin K.'s introduction.

Way, Way off the Reservation

Kathleen Parker unloads both barrels in the direction of the wingnut branch of the GOP. A great read, and not just from the perspective of us popcorn-eaters.

If you've forgotten who Kathleen Parker is, she's a conservative columnist who wrote a harsh column in late September, calling on Sarah Palin to step down as John McCain's running mate. This caused some blowback, which may have provoked the tone of today's piece.


As Republicans sort out the reasons for their defeat, they likely will overlook or dismiss the gorilla in the pulpit.

Three little letters, great big problem: G-O-D.

I'm bathing in holy water as I type.

To be more specific, the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn't soon cometh.


Suffice it to say, the Republican Party is largely comprised of white, married Christians. Anyone watching the two conventions last summer can't have missed the stark differences: One party was brimming with energy, youth and diversity; the other felt like an annual Depends sales meeting.

With the exception of Miss Alaska, of course.

Even Sarah Palin has blamed Bush policies for the GOP loss. She's not entirely wrong, but she's also part of the problem. Her recent conjecture about whether to run for president in 2012 (does anyone really doubt she will?) speaks for itself:

"I'm like, okay, God, if there is an open door for me somewhere, this is what I always pray, I'm like, don't let me miss the open door. Show me where the open door is.... And if there is an open door in (20)12 or four years later, and if it's something that is going to be good for my family, for my state, for my nation, an opportunity for me, then I'll plow through that door."

Let's do pray that God shows Alaska's governor the door.

Read the whole thing. Seriously. There are many other great bits.

(h/t: John Cole)

[Added] Nugget. (via)

What Bill Said

(Updated several times, at bottom.)

Here's Bill Maher being interviewed by Arianna Huffington (guest-hosting The Rachel Maddow Show):

(alt. video link)

I've been feeling a lot of what Maher said here. There are any number of lefties online moaning about Lieberman, or Hillary Clinton, or Rahm Emanuel, or Eric Holder, or whom- or whatever, and I confess to being unable to share their outrage. As Maher says, every time in the past year someone fretted about a choice Obama made, it turned out that he was right and the fretter wrong. So, while I worry about the media frenzy that starts every time a Clinton's name is mentioned, and still have trouble getting over my visceral wish to wreak vengeance on Holy Joe, and I don't plan to be a unquestioning fanboy for the next four years, for the moment, I really think this says it all:

Obama: everybody chill, I got this

No More Mister Nice Blog has some similar thoughts.

[Added] So does Kevin K. at Rumproast, and Thers at Whiskey Fire adds tactical considerations.

[Added 2] See also BAGnewsNotes.

[Added 3] See also Lee Stranahan.

[Added 4] See also Bob Cesca.

[Added 5] See also Ezra Klein (via).

(pic. source)

Happy Birthday, Ted!

Heh, heh, heh.

Perhaps someone will buy you a new suit.

Line of the Day: 2008-11-19

Oh, Bill Kristol, he's ever so busy, almost as much as his New York Times fact-checker. His contract is nearly up with the Times, will he stay?

"I'm ambivalent. It's been fun. It's a lot of work. I have a lot of things going on. But I haven't really focused on it."

If it did not include the word "ambivalent", I'd swear this was a George Bush quote.
-- attaturk

George Packer has a detailed argument against Kristol being rehired that's well worth reading, and with which I agree with wholeheartedly, especially the part about the Kristol's laziness and utter lack of anything new to say.

You may recall that I've had a thing or two to say about Kristol over the past year.

John Cole wants to see Kristol replaced by Daniel Larison, and I second that. I'd also be happy with James Poulos or Reihan Salam, and I'm sure there are plenty of other conservatives who are far more worthy of the space.

Cole resignedly expects that David Frum will end up getting the slot, assuming Kristol gets the boot, to which I say, yeah, maybe, and please, no. That'd be an improvement, but only a tiny one. Apart from being honest enough to admit that Sarah Palin is an unqualified clown, Frum is no different from Kristol -- a straight-up party hack who hasn't said anything new in years.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Straight Talk from Obama

Here's a video that was put together for today's meeting of the Governors Global Climate Summit:

(alt. video link)

I can't express how happy I am to hear the next president delivering such an unambiguous statement about the reality and urgency of the problem, and by implication, an acceptance of science.

(h/t: TPM)

Oh, The Irony

From the NYT (emph. added):

“They are arguably the most transparent former first couple in history,” said one Democratic official, who declined to be identified because the talks are confidential.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Frum Leaving National Review

I gave David Frum a little bit of credit for being honest about Sarah Palin back in late September, but you know … I still pretty much can't stand him. That goes double for the rest of his soon to be erstwhile colleagues, which is why it gives me great pleasure to steer you to Wonkette's take. I wish I had the mean gene to write snark like this.

[Added 2008-11-19 11:17] Frum has a post up on NRO, talking about his reasons for leaving and his plans for the future -- he's launching a web site! My heart's going a mile a minute!

Tip for DF: Never mention the URL of your new website until you get at least a "Coming Soon" landing page up. Fail.

The Eyes Have It

Obama cat

(swiped from litbrit)

There is Nothing Wrong With Your Monitor

I changed the fonts a little bit. Let me know if you hate it, love it, or have other suggestions, please.

Fresh Ayers

Salon's Walter Shapiro interviews William Ayers. It's a very good interview. I started blockquoting bits that I especially liked, and it got to be ridiculous, so I deleted what I had and I'll just urge you to go read it.

Salon also offers a brief video of some of the highlights of the interview, embedded here for your viewing pleasure:

(alt. video link)

I'll make a prediction: What will jump out at the wingnutosphere, assuming they can bear to let the evil liberal pages of Salon shine into their basements, is the last sentence of Shapiro's introduction:

The following interview, conducted in Shapiro's apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, has been edited for length.


The Obamas on 60 Minutes

About forty minutes long. Some commercials -- sorry about that.

(alt. video link)

(h/t: Twin, in Comments)

Blimp Update

Came across another variation on a lament. Not sure why this pun tickles me, but it does.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Time to Come Around

Be honest. How many times did you complain about the "endless campaign?"

Turns out the length may have been a good thing, at least for some people. Anecdotal, to be sure, but still something to think about. If some people can come around in a few months, what might four years yield? Or eight?

A Nice Coincidence

Not long after noting the article on rightwing hate radio, I came across this great moment from The West Wing on Bob Cesca's Goddamn Awesome Blog! Go!, posted in support of those marching against Prop H8.

Attention Twin: If you haven't broken open the box set yet, count this as a spoiler alert.

(alt. video link)

Which, of course, sent me on the hunt for this (same warning, Twin):

(alt. video link)

Your Second Moment of Awww

Don McArthur has the original LOLcat.

"Secrets of Talk Radio"

You might be tempted to file this one under "only confirms what I've suspected for years," but it's worth reading anyway. It's an article by a guy who was program manager for ten years at a radio station that featured rightwing ranters, who for a long time was happy in his work, until the penny dropped during a crisis moment three years ago.

And yeah, they really do get their talking points emailed to them every day, "from the Bush White House, the Republican National Committee and, during election years, GOP campaign operations."

(h/t: Steve Benen)

[Added] Steve got this from digby, who's got some interesting commentary on it.

Your Moment of Awww -- Dap Edition

Click for much larger:

Obama giving little kid dap

I give it another four hours before the wingnuts post this with the caption "Obama teaching terrorist fist jab to children!!!1! And he's not fooling us with that Wall Street Journal either -- you know he has the New York Slimes hidden inside!!1!"

(h/t: KK via email. He suggested it was a candidate for "Awe of the Day," which if it isn't a typo is subtly good)

[Added] The above reminded me of a political cartoon by Joel Pett that I saw a few days ago. Long as we got a theme going on …

Obama and Lincoln fist bump by Joel Pett

Click pick to enlarge. More Joel Pett here. This one is brilliant (bear in mind his home state).

The Return of the Fearness Doctrine

I've noted a couple of times in the past the bugaboo that the Fairness Doctrine represents among the denizens of Wingnuttia. Panties have been at full twist since late November 4th -- when the mouthbreathers aren't running out to buy more guns and ammo before President-for-Life B Hussein X wipes out the Second Amendment and surrenders to Castro, they're fretting in their online echo chambers about the horrific possibility that, as Blue Texan hilariously observes, Rush Limbaugh will be silenced!!1!

I have to say, I still can't take seriously the idea that the leaders of the Right actually believe that there's any chance at all that the Fairness Doctrine will be reinstated. I am inclined to think it's a prod for them to use on their cattle, in this case, to get out the vote for Saxby Chambliss, and in general, to sustain the levels of paranoia among those who self-identify -- with pride -- as "dittoheads."

Schumer evil grin Still, I do like to imagine Chuck Schumer (and look at all those trackbacks!) and Nancy Pelosi sitting in a dark Washington bar, cackling with delight, toasting each other, plotting when next to let slip on camera that this is "an idea worth considering."

As far as I'm concerned, the longer the wingnuts obsess over shiny objects like this, the better off we'll be. It's fashionable to say that we need a healthy opposition party lest the Democrats go off the rails, and in the long run I agree, but for the next few years, I'm happy to have the hyperactive children distracted while the grownups clean up the mess.

[Added] Looks like the PUMArhoids are dropping all pretense that they're just disgruntled Democrats.

Sympathetic Twinge

My inner geek feels your pain, Mr. President-elect.

A Less Appealing Rodent

I have now seen the hamster on a piano vid [1] on more than two blogs, so, in the journalistic spirit that says three times is a trend, I now propose a new political catchphrase, to be used and overused like thrown under the bus.

Consider the plight of the sanctimonious little prick whom Rachel Maddow has called "my single favorite Senator from the Connecticut for Lieberman Party." [2]  While he awaits the results of the voting at this coming week's meeting of the Senate Democratic caucus -- will he be stripped of his DHS committee chairmanship? -- there isn't much that he can do. In some sense, he's a powerful figure, if you buy into the idea that he might be number 60 come the next vote for cloture. In another sense, he's entirely impotent -- he really has no way to affect his fate beyond going on TV, squeaking and nibbling, and he is at the mercy of the giant hand pushing him where it will.

In other words: Until he knows the outcome of this week's caucus vote, Joe Lieberman is the hamster on the piano.

The eating popcorn part goes without saying, since these are the best of times, at least in that sense.

[1] If you haven't already seen it, voici:

(alt. video link)

[2] The whole thing is well worth watching, especially the closing thirty seconds:

(alt. video link | alt. alt. video link)

(h/t: watertiger )

Shove Your Cynicism

I don't care what the snarkers at Indecision2008 say, I like these people (sorry about the lead-in commercial):

Happy Feet!

Head on over to TRex's place. He's got great music -- Ted Stevens mashup! -- and related reasons to dance: outside-the-Beltway thinking, and a strong shot in the arm for network neutrality!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Circular Firing Squad Reaches Highest Circles

We have to be honest, and there's a lot of blame to go around, but I have to mention George Bush, and I have to mention Ted Stevens, and I'm afraid I even have to mention John McCain.
-- Sen. Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina)

In related news, the stock price for Orville Redenbacher soared.

The First Weekly Address From Barack Obama


For the first time, the weekly Democratic address has been released as a web video. It will also continue to air on the radio.

President-elect Obama plans to to publish these weekly updates through the Transition and then from the White House.

Today's address from the President-elect concerns the current economic crisis:

(alt. video link | transcript and hi-res version available here)

(h/t: HuffPo)

A Monkey On His Back, But In A Good Way

That little face says a lot about the situation, doesn't it? Click to see it considerably larger.

Monkey on soldier's back

A monkey rides on the back of a U.S. Army soldier October 23, 2008 at combat outpost Dallas in the Kunar Province of eastern Afghanistan. The monkey went along as a temporary mascot with soldiers who were switching out with comrades who had been in the remote outpost for a week. (John Moore/Getty Images) #

The above is the eighth in the series titled Afghanistan's Korengal Valley, the 12 November edition of a new daily feature on The Boston Globe's website called The Big Picture. It's amazingly good, day after day -- ten to thirty pictures on a theme, available for your scrolling pleasure, no annoying slideshow packaging. Bookmark or subscribe to the feed posthaste.

Some other recent standouts:

The most recent, yesterday's, is Peering into the microworld, which may bug some of you out.

[Added] Not for the first time, I see Don McArthur beat me to the recommendation.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Molly Ivins on Camille Paglia

Scott Lemieux noted the latest bit of drivel from Camille Paglia over on LGM. He, like me, is mystified that Salon thinks Paglia qualifies for inclusion on a site that would very much like you to pay for its content. As a measure of the good taste of LGM readers, his shorters verbatims caused gleeful piling on in the comments. Among those: a link from galnoir, pointing to a 1991 essay by the late, great Molly Ivins on Paglia.

For those who find monospace fonts unappealing (or who, like me, can never get enough Molly), I came across a PDF version* of the same piece, on an archive page* that offers a sampling of the work Molly originally published in Mother Jones.

* [Update 2009-03-11] The recent MoJo site redesign appears to have broken this link. Here's a version of the old page in the Wayback Machine. And here's an alternate link for the specific PDF file, if the one above won't open properly.

[Update 2010-06-28] Try also here: PDF.

Light Bytes

• No More Mister Nice Blog -- three-line post of the month

• Bob Cesca makes me slap my head -- in my morbid obsession of tracking unhinged Obama-haters, how could I have forgotten to keep an eye on Conservapedia?

• Oliver Willis -- another awesome caption

• Wonkette has the video title of the day

• Possibly the only time I've thought dressing up as Darth Vader was appropriate

• Umbrage-takers alert -- Indecision2008 reports:

Last African-American in the Senate forced to give up seat. Way to go, America.

Further Proof Of Google's Liberal Bias
Marxist Homosexual Agenda

Just went to leave a comment on a blog hosted by Blogger (owned by Google of course!) and what do you suppose the CAPTCHA was?


And of course it's in oh-so-Politically Correct Green.

Paging K-Lo ...

By the way, the post is worth reading, if, like me, you're a fussbudget about language. (h/t: Sully)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

There is no one who grumbles ...

... as well as Doghouse Riley. Go read Why We Fight.

Two Mirrors: Four Years and One Day Apart

Browsing a collection (via) of newspaper front pages from last week, I was reminded of another image squirreled away on my hard drive. Click to enlarge.

5 November 2008:

Daily Mirror 5 November 2008

4 November 2004:

Daily Mirror 4 November 2004

VLC Media Player Update (and Reminders)

VLC Media Player is now at version 0.9.6. If you're using anything earlier, you're advised to upgrade as soon as possible -- the latest version closes "highly critical" security holes. (details)

Depending on what version you have, there may or may not be a way to upgrade from within the program itself. Newer versions may have a Help → Check for Updates option; I had version 0.8.6, and it did not.

I just went to VLC's web site,, downloaded the new version, and let it install over the old one. No problems.

The new version looks like it has added bells and whistles, compared to v.0.8.6, the most interesting of which appears to be support for podcast management. I haven't played around with this feature yet, but given that iTunes stopped shipping patches for Windows 2000 a while ago, I'll certainly be checking it out soon.


Update to my last computer security post: If you haven't already done so, it's looking like more imperative that you update Adobe Reader right away -- active exploits are reported to be in the wild. Don't let an evil PDF file ruin your whole day! Get the latest version of Adobe Reader now (handy link and caveat in that post).

Reminder: I said in that last post that the Flash update should be done right away. If you're not at version, do the upgrade. Check your version of Flash here, and get a newer version, if necessary, by following the download link on that same page.

Sad, But Not Bitter

My good friend Dan Weston reflects on Prop. 8. Even if you've read other essays on this topic, don't miss this one.

In Which I Pass Along Malicious Gossip, Guilt-Free

From the Page Six of the NY Post, via the HuffPo:

"Laura is interviewing publishers who are bidding on her memoirs," one biographer told Page Six. "The publishers are coming to the White House to meet with her and discuss the book."

Those same literary poobahs see George W. Bush as literary poison for now. "Dubya is going to have to wait about five years," a top publishing insider said. "He's so unpopular at this point that there's no market for any book by him. "

Yeah, I know he'll be able to do all the speaking gigs he wants at $100K a whack, but at least he's not going to be able to follow in Bill Clinton's steps and collect a multimillion-dollar advance on the 21st of this coming January. Plus, he won't be able to contribute to the revisionist history effort, already underway.

Firefox Update (and others from the recent past)

Firefox version 3.0.4 is now available. This release fixes nine security bugs -- four rated "critical" -- and several other odds and ends (details).

If you don't have automatic updates enabled, do Help → Check for Updates. That's what I did. The patch less than 2 MB, and it installed without a problem.

And, in case you forgot, this past Tuesday was the one week anniversary of the best election ever Patch Tuesday. Windows users: if you don't have Windows Updates set to run automatically, you know what to do.

It occurs to me that I've been remiss in noting software updates lately. Sorry about that. Here are posts (with useful links) from Brian Krebs on three other recent ones that you should check, most critical first: Flash, Abode Reader, and Java.

NB: Be careful of the Adobe Reader update -- it will install the Yahoo toolbar to your browser if you don't uncheck the box during the installation process. It's not particularly hidden. Just don't keep blindly clicking "Next."

And remember, you have a better choice for reading PDF files.

Let me know if you want more details on any of these.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Newt Gingrich and friends

Above: Newt Gingrich, pictured with everyone who wants to listen to his ideas

(pic. source | cross-posted at


Catching up on some older posts in my feed-reader …

The following appeared on CNN's website last month, 22 October 2008:

FINDLAY, Ohio (CNN) –- In an interview posted online Wednesday, Sarah Palin told Dr. James Dobson of “Focus on the Family” that she is confident God will do “the right thing for America” on Nov. 4.

The above via Sean at Cosmic Variance, posting that same day, who offered it as supporting evidence for his own Q and A:

Q: Why is fundamentalist Christianity better than string theory?

A: Because it makes testable predictions.

On a perhaps not unrelated note, it never occurred to me until just now that in addition to pronouncing this post's title presh-uhns, one could also say pre-science.

Late News: A Tie!

Sorry, Oliver. You'll have to share the prize for Caption of the Week:

TPM Reader DG: "I can't believe Obama is already sitting down with an unpopular, aggressive world leader without preconditions."


Map of the Day

From Gerry Canavan:

Caption of the Week

The always spot-on Oliver Willis:

Obama and Bush in the Oval Office, caption by Oliver Willis

Sunday, November 09, 2008


I don't doubt that the wankers of Wingnuttia will fail to see the humor:

(alt. video link)

Love the new flag part.

(h/t: res ipsa loquitur)

[Update 2009-01-09 08:37] New embedded video and alt. video link -- earlier version evidently removed from YouTube.

[Update 2010-12-04 00:04] Another embed and alt. link. If it fails again, check the collection of "Get Your War On" videos on creator David Rees's site and look for "'New World Order' (11/6/08)."

Saturday, November 08, 2008

In Case You Didn't Know

Matt Taibbi now has a dedicated blog on Rolling Stone's site. It's got an RSS feed and everything!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Line of the Day: 2008-11-07

And there's Jim Manzi ... He's identified as being a contributing editor of the National Review, meaning we still don't know just how many teats a sow can have.
-- Doghouse Riley

Nice to See

Looks like New York City might join other advanced societies: the NYT says that Mayor Bloomberg is looking to push through a fee on plastic grocery bags.

This is one of those areas where an irrational aspect of humanity confounds economics, it seems to me. People will, at least initially, make a big fuss about paying a few cents for a bag (while, say, showing no compunction about paying a premium for brand-name goods that will go into that bag). If Ireland is any indicator, this fee could radically change their habits once they see their protests are to no avail, which I suppose is Econ 101 -- here's an instance of a highly elastic demand curve.

Seems like a winner of a policy, no matter what -- either the use of plastic bags goes way down, or the city collects a nice piece of change from those who are part of the problem, and have every opportunity to address it.

Fired Up! Ready To Go!

Read Krugman!

Two bits:

... this year’s presidential election was a clear referendum on political philosophies — and the progressive philosophy won.

... Mr. Obama ran on a platform of guaranteed health care and tax breaks for the middle class, paid for with higher taxes on the affluent. John McCain denounced his opponent as a socialist and a “redistributor,” but America voted for him anyway. That’s a real mandate.

Unity Watch

Ann Coulter and I agree on something!

And we're all winners because we will never again have to hear McCain say, "my friends."

The above is from her 5 November 2008 "column," which you can probably find easily enough. No real reason to -- the rest is just a witch promising a witch hunt and saying "B. Hussein Obama" over and over again.

Wingnuts in a Nutshell


A baseless smear, no attempt to check the facts, deletion of a comment that seeks to clarify, and so far, no correction or update to the original post. You go, RedState wankers.

[Added 2008-11-07 12:36] RedState appears now to have deleted the post. More classic.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Our Man in Juneau

Dave Noon reports on barhopping in the Alaska state capital on Election Night. A great read.

Dave also blogs at LGM, if you didn't already know.


(alt. video link)

(h/t: TPM)

Important Symbol

I see that North Carolina has been called for Obama. Shoutout to him for believing and investing in the state, to all those who made up his ground game there, and what I touched on earlier earlier and Kevin K. at Rumproast said better.

It's just EV icing on the cake, in some ways, at this point, but it's also great to see the old patterns being disrupted.

Two Words

Hard to believe that one of Rove's acolyte's didn't reserve this domain name just so it wasn't available. Are they slipping, or am I just too cynical?

(h/t: Allen, via email)

(Okay, so if you say it out loud, it sounds like three. Don't make me come over there and give you a wedgie.)


I was eating a pretzel when I saw this TBogg headline. Almost pulled a W.

(If you don't share my taste in movies, this may help.)


Running a campaign based on fear has another downside exposed: just an anecdote, to be sure, but it's a good one. From Susan of Texas:

In "Why McCain Lost " by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, there is a quote from a friend of the authors that cracked me up.

He added that all the talk about Obama’s links to terror, to Islam, to bombers has also had the effect of intimidating elderly Republicans from even putting McCain/Palin signs in their yards.


(NB: Link modified in blockquote, for specificity)

P.S. Just recently happened across Susan of Texas's blog, The Hunting of the Snark. Among other things, it appears that she reads McMegan, and Doughy and friends, so we don't have to. Good stuff. A recent favorite here.

Surge! Purge!

Watching the wingnutosphere these days is getting better and better. Erick Erickson goes apostatic:

RedState is pleased to announce it is engaging in a special project: Operation Leper.

(More here.)

And, after months of gleefully passing along every rumor and emailed smear about Obama they could get their hands on, Hot Air suddenly embraces skepticism regarding anonymous sources … when they're sniping about Sarah, natch:

... a tasty pile of shinola straight from the stovetop of disgruntled McCain staffers. It’s too cute by half, as is the detail about NAFTA; they might as well have tossed in a story about her having to guess who’s buried in Grant’s tomb.

Ditto CPAC Blogger o' the Year, Ace o' Spades. Headline:

Anti-Palin McCain Staffers Begin Full-Scale Kneecapping of Sarah Palin
Update: Bullshit Video of Bullshit Claims Now Available for Your Bullshit Enjoyment

(starting point: Roy Edroso)

He's Not a Curmudgeon, But He Plays One on the Blogosphere

Doghouse Riley's headline for yesterday:

Dewy Defeats Grumpy

Apropos of Nothing ...

... except maybe as a palate cleanser after the last post, here's something else I happened across on the YouTubes:

(alt. video link)

New Band Name

Thinking back on that vile element present at most GOP rallies down the stretch of the recent campaign, especially the ones headlined by the VP nominee, I am unable to stop thinking the phrase Palin and the Pig People.

As to genre, I'm thinking … Christian death metal?

[Added] Via a random hop on YouTube, came across an obvious choice for background vocalist: Hate Queen Malkin.

Supporting free speech costs a lot, sometimes.

More Dish

Following up from earlier, updates on the prank call (cf.), etc., from the NYT(!):

As a top adviser in Senator John McCain’s now-imploded campaign tells the story, it was bad enough that Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska unwittingly scheduled, and then took, a prank telephone call from a Canadian comedian posing as the president of France. Far worse, the adviser said, she failed to inform her ticketmate about her rogue diplomacy.

As a senior adviser in the Palin campaign tells the story, the charge is absurd. The call had been on Ms. Palin’s schedule for three days and she should not have been faulted if the McCain campaign was too clueless to notice.

Whatever the truth, one thing is certain. Ms. Palin, who laughingly told the prankster that she could be president “maybe in eight years,” was the catalyst for a civil war between her campaign and Mr. McCain’s that raged from mid-September up until moments before Mr. McCain’s concession speech on Tuesday night. By then, Ms. Palin was in only infrequent contact with Mr. McCain, top advisers said.


The disputes between the campaigns centered in large part on the Republican National Committee’s $150,000 wardrobe for Ms. Palin and her family, but also on what McCain advisers considered Ms. Palin’s lack of preparation for her disastrous interview with Katie Couric of CBS News and her refusal to take advice from Mr. McCain’s campaign.

But behind those episodes may be a greater subtext: anger within the McCain camp that Ms. Palin harbored political ambitions beyond 2008.

As late as Tuesday night, a McCain adviser said, Ms. Palin was pushing to deliver her own speech just before Mr. McCain’s concession speech, even though vice-presidential nominees do not traditionally speak on election night. But Ms. Palin met up with Mr. McCain with text in hand. She was told no by Mark Salter, one of Mr. McCain’s closest advisers, and Steve Schmidt, Mr. McCain’s top strategist.


The advisers described the McCain campaign as incredulous about the shopping spree and said Republican National Committee lawyers were likely to go to Alaska to conduct an inventory and try to account for all that was spent.


Whatever the permutations, the advisers said they strongly believed that Mr. Scheunemann [allegedly fired campaign aide] was disclosing, as one put it, “a constant stream of poison” to William Kristol, the editor of the conservative Weekly Standard and a columnist for The New York Times.