Saturday, January 31, 2009

Fight Back Against The NFL-Industrial-Carnivore Complex!

The following is a commercial supposedly banned by the Superbowl Powers That Be. I've seen it said somewhere that the plan all along was to get rejected, not have to pay to air the ad, and then get free publicity from saps like me.

Well, hey, if this is the new message, and it means I'll be hearing less about sea kittens, then sap I am, gladly.

(alt. video link)

You go, PETA.

(h/t: marindenver/Rumproast)




[Update 2011-11-12] New embed. Old one was broken.

... With A Whimper (Lots of Them)

I see by Scott Lemieux at LGM that Pajamas Media is closing down its blog advertising network. This was announced by head honcho Roger L. Simon (aka themanwhocreatedmoseswine) in an email that led with their glowing plans to concentrate on their new online TV thing, which so far has featured a small handful of wingnuts talking to each other and the sending of "Joe" the "Plumber" to Israel to be their hot new Mideast correspondent. TBogg has posted a copy of the email from Simon and added comments.

Reactions from the dependents and others on the periphery seem uniform (no one could have predicted!), accepting the loss of revenue fairly stoically, while expressing skepticism, with varying degrees of bitterness, about the idea of PJTV.

Serr8d, posting on Tennesseefree, is typical:

As if anyone wants to watch TV on the internet. Sheesh.

Oh, instead of watching some grumpy old farts lost in their Cosmic Sea, scoot over to YouTube and listen to this..at least you’ll stay awake.

Dalton McCallum at The American Pundit is a calm one, but bemoans the loss of citizen kerners, um, journalism:

PM seems to be restricting its “sending the mainstream media down the river…” operation to sanctioned writers on its official news website and talking heads, mostly mainstream, on its official video website.

AJStrata of the eponymous Sphere agrees:

It seem Pajama Media is kicking out the small fry so they can have more $$$ for themselves.

He then offers an explanation, which is nothing if not delightfully self-contradictory:

But the fact is traffic is down since the election - way down. [...]

I hope these wonderful voices are not silenced, especially in this time of conservative and GOP renewal.

Donald Douglas at American Power tries to be optimistic:

As for future of conservative media like Pajamas? Well, Andrew Breitbart just started Big Hollywood …

That sound you just heard was the entire leftosphere falling off its collective chair laughing.

The more severely deluded, like Pam of Atlas Shrugs, do not miss the opportunity to give voice to their favorite conspiracy theory:

I was one of the original pajama bloggers. I thought PJM was going to rival AP, UPI, Reuters. Finally, a news portal of citizen bloggers and journalists that would counter the Pali stringers and left wing biased journalists of the news gathering agencies. But PJM went off the rails. Simon decided to chase big names for big money, but to what end? Who needed another NRO or WSJ Best of the Web? And unlike the left, where Soros, Hollywood libtards and Google-type asshats embarrassingly fund the leftwing sites vis a vis Moveon.org et al, the right has none of that. None. We live on fumes. G-d bless our small advertisers and our readers who contribute.

Dan Collins at Protein Wisdom echoes:

It’s just that there’s no “conservative” equivalent of a Sorosugardaddy to fund the media on “our side.”

Not sure why "conservative" has to be in quotes, let alone "our side," but then there's a lot I don't understand about wingnuts. I'm also a little puzzled to hear Dan claim that there are no rich guys willing to fund rightwing media. This would probably come as a shock to those expecting to cash their next paychecks at the Weekly Standard, National Review, and my two favorite Orwellians, the Media Research Center and Accuracy in Media.

Moving along, Dan has a plan, and it involves more of his own special reality:

The Right needs to get its shit together, and perhaps even to influence a national candidate. That latter’s a lofty ideal from such humble origins as I propose, but if not us, then who? If we had ten Ric Lockes and ten Dan Collins each influencing ten apiece and so on, you can see that while this would take the next two presidential terms to develop, it’d still at some point grow to great substance. I continue to insist that the Left can have no such organic intellectual basis because it is based on parasitic theory and action and cannot therefore reveal itself, assuming it’s even self-conscious enough to do so, which is clearly debatable.

I maintain that only the classic Right can pin it’s anti-government, anti-corruption message to proven theoretical, moral, political, and even human principles. The Left is just where liars and thieves go. We need to take advantage of this.

He then goes on to describe building a new website, attracting Ace of Spades (CPAC Blogger of the Year!) and twenty other unnamed bloggers, wonders about "gain[ing] critical mass" (Must. Resist. Cheetos-loving. Rightblogger. Joke), copying something out of Wikipedia onto the site, and … I don't know. It gets strange. It begins to sound as though someone else has taken control of the keyboard, because though there is no blockquoting or other indication, the sentences are addressed to him; e.g.,

I have no idea how this would go over, Dan, but it strikes me …

Plagiarism? Multiple personality disorder? Just mumbling to himself? Who can say? [UPDATE: I see from Dan chastising other bloggers that apparently his co-blogger jumped in and added the later thoughts.]

Oddly enough, his co-blogger Jeff Goldstein says just three posts earlier:

What this means is that as of April 1, I am officially out of work. So save going to a pay model, this site will likely have to shut down.

Tools of Renewal is harsher than most about the new online video thing:

PJM’s new hope is PJTV, a pay video site. Where you can pay to watch Glenn and Helen Reynolds. This is not unlike asking people to pay to be punched in the face. It will fail.

... passes along rumor:

The blogger who told me about the end of PJM’s blog network theorizes that the GOP is making PJM its main Internet outlet. That is highly plausible, in view of the unbelievably stupid things the GOP has done over the last few years.

... indulges in more of the same conspiracy-tinged victimology:

The left owns the web, and the web demonstrated its power by getting the left’s bizarre, whining, empty-suit President elected.

... before bringing the real crazy. You see, this is all part of a larger picture, according to Tools:

I used to see the PJ fiasco as the result of greed, treachery, foolishness, and dishonesty. These days I see it more as the evidence of a curse. The US is declining very quickly. We’re not going to be the world’s leading nation any more. The economy may have a dead-cat bounce left in it, but we’re going into a recession which will never end. We’re going to settle permanently at a lower level of prosperity and power, and we may experience a near-depression on the way to that level. The self-destruction of conservatism is probably just one of the tools that will be used to work this judgment on America. Conservatism is right and natural and healthy, and it makes nations strong, so it has to be diminished in order for us to decay. The right’s mismanagement and abandonment of the Internet are just instruments of the right’s downfall.

I believe that when people persist in really stupid behavior, and the stupidity of the behavior is obvious to anyone with a grain of common sense, and the behavior is easily avoided, the behavior probably has a supernatural origin. That explains the mortgage mess. It explains Obamamania. And it explains PJM.

Whoa. If he didn't bring it back to PJM there, I'd really have been concerned that the last strand had snapped.

Rusty Shackleford at The Jawa Report is more phlegmatic:

Don't worry, the Jawa will remain. But I was just kind of getting used to the idea that people were going to pay me to surf jihadi websites and write stuff about it.

Also, to talk about Angelina Jolie's lesbian escapades.

Ah, the fantasies one dreams up in Mom's basement, eh, Rusty?

Althouse, though not a member, nonetheless feel compelled to add her two cents, or two thousand cents, more like, and inevitably works her discussion around to breasts. (Chorus? No one could have predicted!)

Last word from Roger L. Simon himself:

Actually that part of our business has been losing money from the beginning, so the people getting their quarterly checks from PJM were getting a form of stipend from us in the hopes that advertisers would start to cotton to blogs and we could possibly make a profit. Didn’t happen. No wonder those people are kicking and screaming now that they are off the dole. I might too.

As 3letterjon observed in TBogg's comments: Wingnut Welfare Reform! Hurrah!

P.S. More leftosnark from TS at Instaputz, Kevin K. at Rumproast, and Roger Ailes.

[Added] P.P.S. And more here.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Find!

Just came across a link to something from the Dark Ages ("Last update: 11/10/03.")

If you're fond of words, and especially if you often find yourself arguing with members of the hand-tightenable threaded mechanical fastener community, you must go look at the collection of coinages gleaned from Atrios's comment threads.

(h/t: Instaputz)

Juxtaposition of the Day

The winner is Jill from Feministe.us.

(h/t: watertiger)

"Right on cue ..."

"... the White House press awakens from its Bush slumber."

Shoutout to Eric Boehlert for making the effort in the face of almost certain failure to change anything. But if you read it, you'll be that much more aware, and maybe you'll pass it on to somebody else, too.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

All Right, I Admit It

I am now officially in the tank for Facebook. Nothing like being tracked down by an old friend.

Great to see you, Dana.

Optimistic Outlook of the Day

Our correspondent from the Great Lakes State reports:

Summer's almost here in Michigan...we can now see the deer moving around.

Yep, won't be long.

(enlarge image)

A Victory for Decency

Following up on the earlier TftD, here's video of the signing ceremony of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Nice remarks by Obama and a good feeling in the room that comes right through the screen.

(alt. video link)

Video swiped from Kevin K. at Rumproast, who titles his post, "This is what a feminist looks like." Kevin also supplies a link to FDL for the full text of the President's remarks at FDL. Here's a part I liked:

So in signing this bill today, I intend to send a clear message: That making our economy work means making sure it works for everyone. That there are no second class citizens in our workplaces, and that it’s not just unfair and illegal – but bad for business – to pay someone less because of their gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion or disability. And that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory, or footnote in a casebook – it’s about how our laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives: their ability to make a living and care for their families and achieve their goals.

Ultimately, though, equal pay isn’t just an economic issue for millions of Americans and their families, it’s a question of who we are – and whether we’re truly living up to our fundamental ideals. Whether we’ll do our part, as generations before us, to ensure those words put to paper more than 200 years ago really mean something – to breathe new life into them with the more enlightened understandings of our time.

Since I am a political obsessive, I also could not help but note the turn of phrase later on, where Obama is saluting Ledbetter for her persistence:

In the end, that’s why Lilly stayed the course.

Take that, George W. Bush, and pass it along to your appointed cronies on the Supreme Court.

Good For You, Mr. President

Commenting on the recent news that Wall Street bankers paid themselves $18.4 billion dollars in bonuses for their magnificent work during 2008:

“That is the height of irresponsibility,” Mr. Obama said angrily. “It is shameful, and part of what we’re going to need is for folks on Wall Street who are asking for help to show some restraint and show some discipline and show some sense of responsibility.

It'll be nice if the bully pulpit keeps getting used for reasons beyond, say, urging today's youth to pull up their pants.

Thought for the Day: 2009-01-29

In her column today, Gail Collins reflects on Obama's signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, observing that Ledbetter:

... won’t get any restitution of her lost wages; her case can’t be retried. She’s now part of a long line of working women who went to court and changed a little bit of the world in fights that often brought them minimal personal benefit.

Another was Eulalie Cooper, a flight attendant who sued Delta Air Lines in the mid-’60s when she was fired for being married. Not only did a Louisiana judge uphold the airline industry’s bizarre rules requiring stewardesses to be young and single, Cooper was denied unemployment benefits on the grounds that by getting married she left her job “voluntarily.”

But she began a pattern of litigation that eventually ended the industry’s insistence that women needed to look like sex objects in order to properly care for passengers on airplanes. Next time you talk about US Airways Flight 1549’s spectacular landing on the Hudson River, remember that the three flight attendants who kept calm in the ditched plane were all women in their 50s and give a nod to people like Eulalie Cooper.

Attn: Lefties Who Don't Give A Crap About The Super Bowl

Like me, I mean.

Two words: Go, Steelers.

The power of political correctness compels you.

Graph of the Day

Swiped from Steve Benen, who observes:

When Republicans were in the majority, and controlled the White House, Senate, and House, it was important to air the GOP perspective. Now that Democrats are in control, it's still apparently paramount to let Americans know what Republicans are thinking.

(enlarge image)

That Eric Alterman sure knows what he's talking about.

Peace Out: It's Not A Typo

While we're on that word power thing, I'm reminded that I came across another new-to-me one a couple of days ago, in a Daniel Larison post [emph. added, obvs.]:

… it means that President Obama was serious when he made irenic remarks in his Inaugural directed to Muslims …

It was obvious from context that Larison didn't mean to have typed ironic, but still, the word was so unfamiliar to me, it just looked wrong. I had to go scurrying for the dictionary Google. Turns out it means "promoting or conducive to peace."

That's a good word to add to anybody's vocabulary. Thanks, Daniel.

Oh, and by the way, you're not fooling me later on: I know controverial is a demonstration of your bad typing, although I have to admit, it almost looks like it should mean someone opposed to flight. Or car antennae.

Living Language Watch

John McWhorter, one of my favorite students of language (I admire him for other reasons as well), says:

Upon his first sight of St. Paul's Cathedral, James II registered his approval by designating it amusing, awful, and artificial: All of these words were compliments in his day.

I did not know that. I guess I could see it: awful from awe-full, and artificial from artifice; i.e., something made by humans being more of an unqualified good a few centuries ago. No guesses as to how amusing has since acquired a derogatory tone, though.

This is part of an argument about the evolving meaning of words, and why, therefore, he believes the effort to "reclaim" liberal is doomed. I claim this is all driven by his frustration at having long been tagged as a conservative.

Anyway, it's an interesting piece, even if I ain't buyin' his thesis, so I guess I should call it an amusing read.

[Aside to RL: John's also against finger-wagging over split infinitives, you'll be happy to hear.]

The O'Reilly XX Factor

Jessica Alba, FTW.

And don't forget to read the words, too.

These No Longer Go To 11

Managing Editor Joe Carter, in an interview posted 5 September 2008:

Culture11 is a new online magazine/social network for "cultural conservatives." We launched the site last week with the goal of building a community around 11 key areas of culture: arts, commerce, community, education, faith, family, ideas, leisure, media, politics, and technology.

Bill Bennett, David Kuo, and David Gelernter started the project because they wanted to create an online destination where cultural conservatives--conservative people who think culture is more important than politics--could find both engaging content and a vibrant community.

David Kuo, in a post dated 28 January 2009:

Sometimes there are simple stories. Culture11’s is one of them. We raised a certain amount of money last year predicated on the assumption we would raise more money last year. Then the Fall’s fall occurred and we stretched money as long and far as we could without incurring any debts. With no new money in the door the board decided the most prudent thing to do was suspend business operations.

While I'm not cheering more people losing their jobs, especially as Culture11 seemed an outpost of comparatively sane conservatives, I will observe that this is another example of the Right's attempt to create a grassroots movement from the top down.

That failed.



[Added] Roger Ailes has a harsher take.

Line of the Day: 2009-01-29

Here is a useful bit of information that we might reflect upon during the next four years: Barack Obama is the President, not the host of Soul Train.
-- Jelani Cobb

Long time ago, I saw some sitcom about which I can only remember one scene. A lesbian couple had a stopped-up kitchen sink, and were having no luck, restricting themselves to choices available through the Gay Yellow Pages, trying to get a plumber who could actually fix the problem. They finally hired a straight one, and had to go through no end of contortions to prevent being exiled by the rest of their community.

That was the first thing that came to mind when I found out about the "Negro Nitpicking Sweepstakes."

(h/t: Ta-Nehisi Coates)

Beat This

It's not quite "Howl," but you might.

Here's "Storm" by Tim Minchin.

(alt. video audio link)

(h/t: PZ)

The Missiles Aren't Flying. Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

Another win for Obama, by doing the exact opposite of Bush.

(title: cf.)

Myth Watch: "Voter Fraud!!!1!"

The GOP bogeyman of voter fraud, lately represented by their ongoing attempts to demonize ACORN (e.g.), is a subject I touched on a few times during the last campaign. Unfortunately, interest in this issue goes away as soon as the election happens. I should say, more precisely, that interest in debunking the myth goes away; the wingnuts, by contrast, seem perpetually happy to parrot their talking lying points every day of the year.

Anyway, please enjoy John Cole's recent post on the matter.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Who Wants Talking Points?

We all do!

Especially given the latest creationist nonsense in Texas.

TC sent me a link to a Nature article (PDF) right about the same time as I was bookmarking a post on Pharyngula. The latter points to the same article, and helpfully adds an overview of it in bullet point form, with additional hyperlinks for further reading. Either way, have a look at "15 Evolutionary Gems," by Henry Gee, Rory Howlett and Philip Campbell.

Particularly if you are beset on all sides by the iniquities of the fundies and the tyranny of their closed minds.

Obama to D.C.: Toughen Up

How long until the wingnuts find some reason to be outraged over this clip?

(alt. video link)

I predict at least one will attempt to compare it to Phil Gramm's "mental recession" gaffes.

(Swiped from Oliver Willis.)

[Added] Looks like I was right about the wingnuts. Special Ed:

Spoken like a true Hawaiian.

[...]

And this is the man who wants to tell us what the weather means and why we have to completely revamp our energy production because some years are hotter than others?

Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

See what happens when you go to work for Malkin? Everything turns into a source for outrage.

Dreams

I would like to believe that for once, George W. Bush had a moment of clarity, and what he's thinking here is, "My God, what have I done to this country?"

(enlarge)

Nah.

(pic. source, via)

Every Little Bit Helps

Of dissension in the GOP, I mean.

John Weaver, a former senior aide to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), said that Republicans must be careful not to allow their Democratic rivals to paint them all with the brush of Limbaugh.

"The Democrats and the far left will do all they can to grab electoral turf," said Weaver. "And one sure way to do it is take some of the most controversial voices on the extreme right -- like Limbaugh and [Alaska Gov. Sarah] Palin -- and try to insist they speak for all members of the center/right movement."

(h/t: Greg Sargent/The Plum Line)

Wingnut Takedowns of the Day

Roy Edroso on Michael Goldfarb.

James Wolcott on some xenophobic yahoo named Francis W. Porretto.

That's how it's done.

Fiddy

A bit of good news I missed until Steve Benen brought it up on this week's Poli-Sci-Fi Radio:

The fifty-state strategy is now and forever what Democrats do!

Those words, and plenty more good ones, from Tim Kaine, the new DNC chair.

You may remember I touched on this a couple of weeks ago. There was some worry that Kaine was going to abandon the Dean strategy. Thanks for signing the petition, if you did.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Putting Country First!

From the annals of Republicans who put love of the USA! USA! USA! before anything else: Director of National Intelligence, Bush appointee Mike McConnell, has abruptly quit. His replacement, Dennis Blair, has not yet been confirmed by the Senate.

Blair's confirmation is expected to be smooth, and there is an acting director for the interim, but still. McConnell couldn't do his job until his successor was confirmed?

What's that charming little phrase the wingnuts used to love so much? Cutting and running?

(h/t: Wonkette and Spencer Ackerman)

Seasonally Inappropriate

Probably you heard: John Updike died.

I haven't read much of his stuff. I tried a couple of times to get through the first of his Rabbit books, and couldn't. I have a vague memory of liking Hugging the Shore. Terrorist was worth reading once, I thought -- I appear to have liked it better than most critics I saw.

Joel Achenbach has a pretty good post up about him, and nicely links to an article Updike wrote almost fifty years ago for The New Yorker. It may not be my favorite baseball story ever, but it's up there, and it is without a doubt my favorite baseball story title.

Yeah, I know: Probably a nameless staffer at The New Yorker came up with it. But I try not to think about things like that sometimes.

Where is Conservapedia?

[Update 2009-01-27 20:03] Looks like I put the whammy on things. The site appears to be coming back up, slowly. See the Comments.

As of this moment, Conservapedia, the "Trustworthy" (i.e., wingnut) version of Wikipedia, is missing from the Web. I'm not just getting a "site busy" or "server taking too long to respond" message; I'm getting a message saying that the name itself is unknown. (Try it.)

Would it be irresponsible to speculate? As those who might favor Conservapedia would say: It would be irresponsible not to speculate!

Tony Sidaway and The Pagan Temple both think it has to do with the posting on Conservapedia of a hit list of Democratic Senators, first reported by Wonkette.

Total Drek, after detailed analysis, thinks the site owner (yes, Phyllis's son) is trying to turn back the clock to better days:

Folks, there is only one possible conclusion: Andrew Schlafly is attempting to go back in time to when Barack Obama was not president and conservatives* had not been utterly repudiated by the masses. My best guess at this point is that he'll keep going until Reagan is in office.

A backup site, conservativeencyclopedia.com, supposedly containing a static (non-editable) version of Conservapedia, appears at this moment to have vanished, too. That URL now only shows a generic parked page, as though hosting bills have not been paid.

There's a timeline of recent events on the watchdog site, RationalWiki.

Developing ...

Never Mind the Black Holes Created by the LHC ...

... what's really going to swallow up the Earth is infinite recursion.

Now available on Wikipedia: Wikipedia: The Missing Manual. And yes, you may vandalize edit it.

It actually looks pretty handy, although as with all things related to Wikipedia, it's riddled with liberal bias.

[Whoops. Looks like site is down. (More on this in the next post.) Meantime, I've replaced the above link with the Google cached version of the same page. Original link: liberal bias.]

[Update 2009-01-27 20:10] Looks like the site is coming back up, slowly. Here's an alternate link to the page I had in mind. (Thanks, Twin).

(h/t: Mashable, via Buzz Out Loud)

Wan Williams

I think we can move Juan Williams to the full-bore wingnut list. How depressing is it to realize that in a conversation, Bill O'Reilly is the more reasonable one?

(h/t: Oliver Willis)

Joementum

The NYT article, "Coffee Linked to Lower Dementia Risk," has been on the Top 10 Emailed Articles list since it was published this past Friday.

You have to wonder how many people have forgotten they already sent it once.

Obama Talks To Terrorist TV!!!1!

Some wingnut reactions to Obama's interview with Al Arabiya:

American Networks Securely in the Tank, Obama Now Does Al-Arabiya Interview
-- JammieWearingFool

This borders on treasonous.
-- Wake Up America

Dear Leader may get us all killed yet.
-- Gateway Pundit

Do you see a pattern here? It's kinda clear. Obama is taking a stand: He's on the side of the Islamic world and is signaling that to them, by honoring them with prominent firsts of his administration.

This isn't just symbolism. It's policy. It's gonna be a long and painful 4-8 years of pandering to the Islamic world. It was bad enough with Bush, but we ain't seen nothin' yet.
-- Debbie Schlussel

... the larger issue is what the region's dictators and royals make of him. I suspect they'll write him off as a bloviating dandy without the sand to engage in any meaningful deterrence in the region.

Sadly, I'm afraid that they are probably spot-on with that assessment, though only time will tell.
-- Confederate Yankee

OBAMA IS APPEASING THE UMMAH, IN FULL DHIMMI-MODE. (THAT IS "DHIMMI" IF HE IS TRULY A NON-MUSLIM AS HE MAINTAINS.)
-- The Astute Bloggers

It's worse than we thought and we are in ............. and President Hussein is in week one. Much of the interview was spent defining the new approach that the United States would implement in that region: respectfulness over divisiveness, listening over dictating, engagement over militarism. So the war on Islamic jihad is over, essentially... and the US lost.
-- Atlas Shrugs

[Added] Steve M. catches another.

Bedwetter Watch 2

Following up from an earlier note: Shocking! Fox "News" Channel is keeping up a steady drumbeat of fear! And showing scary pictures of scary people in scary turbans!

What were the odds of that?

(h/t: Oliver Willis)

A Great Farewell Poorly Note

On the occasion of Kristol's demise, see Doghouse Riley. (And be sure to follow his link to Scott C.'s post, too.)

Also, somewhere under one of the Wonkette posts I referred to below, a commenter calls our Billy Kristol Meh.

Heh. Indeed.

Where Is Comment-Spammer "Ted" Now?

In the case of Gail Lightfoot, et al., v. Debra Bowen, California Secretary of State; i.e., yet another one of those attempts to claim that Barack Obama is not a citizen, the final line in the Supreme Court's docket for the case reads:

Jan 26 2009  Application (08A524) denied by the Court.

High-fives to the reality-based community.

For previous coverage of these most wingnutty of wingnuts, click the "Cult of the COLB" link below. You'll see Ted's CTRL-v'ed screeds in the Comments under a couple of the posts.

"... conservatives aren't going through anything like the grief/angst/outrage ..."

Plenty more lulz where that came from: Roy Edroso wraps up Wingnuttia's reaction to the Inauguration. As usual with Roy, it's outstanding.

Who Should Be The Next NYT Columnist?

Pretty interesting ideas bandied about here by Henry Farrell and Daniel Drezner:

(alt. video links: this segment | entire diavlog)

A lot does depend on what the NYT brass want for the position, of course. If they want to toss a bone to the Right, or check a box, or stir up controversy, that's one thing. But if they do want someone who has new ideas and can write, that's another. The two sets of criteria are not perfectly mutually exclusive, of course, but different priorities do shuffle the lists of candidates a lot.

I'm hoping, of course, that the NYT is looking less for buzz and more for quality, and to that end, I thought the distinction Dan drew between Safire and Kristol was smart -- as with any other hire, you have to keep in mind what the employee's longer-term goals are, and how they may conflict with performance in the here and now.

[In the case of Kristol specifically, there are of course other complaints -- he's not much of a writer, and his column strongly indicated laziness, both intellectual and otherwise. Bill Safire on his worst day was way better than Kristol, who is so mediocre, I refuse to say that he had a best day.]

And speaking of the here and now, the whole conversation between Henry and Dan is quite good. Other topics covered:

  • Obama’s foreign policy advisors get stuck in a tunnel of doom
  • The Obama administration’s first diplomatic gaffes
  • Geithner accuses China of currency manipulation
  • Did the “Israel Lobby” help or hurt its authors’ careers?
  • Dan dares young social scientists to be bolder

Click the "entire diavlog" link above to stream or download it.

(The gist of the above cross-posted on the BH.tv forums)

Clenched Fist Salute

To Dennis Overbye, for his essay in yesterday's NYT.

The lede:

All right, I was weeping too.

To be honest, the restoration of science was the least of it, but when Barack Obama proclaimed during his Inaugural Address that he would “restore science to its rightful place,” you could feel a dark cloud lifting like a sigh from the shoulders of the scientific community in this country.

Some excerpts:

Science is not a monument of received Truth but something that people do to look for truth.

That endeavor, which has transformed the world in the last few centuries, does indeed teach values. Those values, among others, are honesty, doubt, respect for evidence, openness, accountability and tolerance and indeed hunger for opposing points of view. These are the unabashedly pragmatic working principles that guide the buzzing, testing, poking, probing, argumentative, gossiping, gadgety, joking, dreaming and tendentious cloud of activity — the writer and biologist Lewis Thomas once likened it to an anthill — that is slowly and thoroughly penetrating every nook and cranny of the world.

Nobody appeared in a cloud of smoke and taught scientists these virtues. This behavior simply evolved because it worked.

It is no coincidence that these are the same qualities that make for democracy and that they arose as a collective behavior about the same time that parliamentary democracies were appearing. If there is anything democracy requires and thrives on, it is the willingness to embrace debate and respect one another and the freedom to shun received wisdom. Science and democracy have always been twins.

I urge you to read the whole thing. Even if you already agree with Overbye's argument, it's worth it for the way he delivers it.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Kristol Tonic

Still irritated that Bill Kristol got a new job the same day he got fired from his last?

Then head on over to Wonkette. Ken Layne has a post up that's filled with links to pieces they've done on him over the past year. They also include a link to another story, which I'll repeat so you don't miss it, and because Matt Damon continues to be a good guy.

[Added] More good Wonkettery on the same topic is now available.

You Know, I Don't Usually Long For The Death of a Major Newspaper ...

... but after the happy news I passed along this morning, this puts me 98% of the way there for the WaPo:

UPDATE: Kristol emails that he'll be an occasional contributor to the Washington Post's online feature,"Post Partisan," in addition to a monthly print column.

And this just makes me hurl:

... editorial page editor Fred Hiatt discussed why he's now bringing the Weekly Standard editor to the Washington Post.

"I think he’s a very smart, plugged-in guy," Hiatt told Politico …

Just to be clear, this has nothing to do with Kristol's political leanings. It has everything to do with how lame his columns are, how stale his sloganeering is, and how he so often gets things wrong.

As much as I like to stereotype the Right as being unanimously bereft of ideas, I actually do believe there are conservatives worth reading. Why not give Daniel Larison, Reihan Salam, or James Poulos a shot, just to name three?

Ah, the hell with it. As long as he's out of the Times, I'm happy. I almost never visit the WaPo's opinion section anymore, anyway. Too much chance of coming across the way-past-sell-by-date blatherings of David Broder, Richard Cohen, and Charles Krauthammer. Come to that, I guess Kristol will fit right in.

(h/t: Steve Benen and Attaturk)

Intern Scandal Rocks Obama White House!!!1!

flashing lightflashing light


Even worse: her name is Ali! Has to be Muslim!!!1!

Bye Bye Billy

Best line in the whole paper:

This is William Kristol’s last column.

And boy, talk about going out with a whimper. That is one suck-ass column.

Nick Vujicic Makes Me Think. But Not Very Productively.

TC sent me a link to the following clip. It's a little schmaltzy, what with the added music, but it's not worthless.

(alt. video link)

TC sent along a second link and added the comment:

Unfortunately it turns out Nick is making a testimony for Christ and spoils the whole thing:

[link]

Maybe it gives him some comfort. The best you can say about religious experience.

Obviously, I agree. I couldn't be bothered to sit through more than a few minutes of the second one.

This is the tough part about dealing with religion: there's no doubt that it provides a ready-made framework that people like Nick can use to keep themselves going. So far, it's the best commonly-known such framework that we as a species have come up with, and it's hard to argue with the results in select cases like Nick. It's also not surprising that he gets in a dig against abortion -- it is, after all, not considered well-adjusted for someone alive and (comparatively) well to wish he hadn't been born.

I sometimes think that for atheism to flourish, we'll need to come up with a succinct philosophy that provides what makes most people turn to religion; e.g., comfort and quick answers to moral dilemmas and scary existential questions. But then I think that any such philosophy would probably quickly morph into something indistinguishable from religion, and we'd be right back where we started from.

I suppose that could be seen as less bad, if the new religion were, say, less homophobic and xenophobic than the Abrahamic brands tend to be in the hands of their less thoughtful adherents. Maybe that will be one route out of childhood for humanity -- a series of religions replacing each other, with the succeeding ones better in terms of increased tolerance. Arguably, that's already been the case -- at least the mainstream versions of the dominant religions have cut down on things like regularly scheduled human sacrifice, and they do have some good things to say about treating others kindly and so forth.

Still, it's not at all clear that human progress can be viewed as a monotonically increasing function. For example, my impression of Scientology, from what little I know, suggests that it was started based on a belief that it would be a better prescription for living than other religions, but quickly degraded into a mindset that is just as corrupted by irrationality and paranoia regarding outsiders as any other sect.

So, I guess, can that idea.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Blasts From The Past: Limbaugh Edition

If you've ever wondered why Rush Limbaugh doesn't work in front of a live studio audience unless they're known DittoheadsTM, here's one reason why.

From 1990. About ten minutes long.

(alt. video link)

Nothing better than watching a bully get his ass kicked. (And to add to his horror: by a girl!)

(h/t: mimi, in the Comments at Rumproast)

The Case For Proper Sex Ed

Click to enlarge (heh, heh):

Abstinence Only

(Swiped from Chez)

Yes, We Have No Files

Update from two posts ago: from hilzoy.

Great Moment of TV

Paul Krugman: That's not quite right, actually.

Sam Donaldson: Am I close enough for government work?

[Other Villagers on set twitter appreciatively.]

Paul Krugman: No, actually.

Blue Texan has more, including the vid.

No Files On You

The next time some wingnut starts babbling about Obama "stalling" on Gitmo or "going back on his campaign pledge," your correct response is four words long: There are no files.

Is there no end to the secrecy and incompetence of the Bush Administration?

Yeah, I know. Stupid question.

(h/t: Atrios)

Bedwetter Watch

Jim Geraghty: Already hiding in his basementWhat? We're closing Gitmo and moving the prisoners here???

We're gonna need a bigger truckload of Depends.

(h/t: Michael Bérubé)

(pic. source)

Windbag Watch

James Wolcott calls attention to a screed in The American Conservative by Bill's baby brother, Reid Buckley. At first glance, it looks like a fun read, of the sort that would tempt me to send up a signal flare for the Red State Trike Force, warning them of this latest apostate who Must Be Purged. There are nuggets like this:

But scanning the editorial pages of the WSJ or papers from the several erudite conservative and libertarian fonts, I often feel that I can play the old game: I can foretell from the first couple of sentences where that editorial or op-ed or conservative think-tank essay is going—what tried and true and trite right-wing lessons can be gleaned from it. Reading the National Review and American Spectator issues on the electoral defeat this past fall impresses one with how so many good, well-meaning, and intelligent commentators are able to miss the point.

What have conservatives to hurl at these urgent historic challenges other than the same bromides? For 40 years, smug, snide right-wingers have made merry mocking Greenpeace fanatics and ecological doomsayers without learning a blessed thing about the precariousness of the ecology and the effect of human action (not to speak of avarice) on it, as when we promiscuously exfoliate the rain forests or condemn yet one more green acre on the southeastern shore of New Jersey to the desolation of heedless urban development. We conservatives are so self-satisfied that we have incapacitated ourselves from peering beneath the antics of idiots and the wild exaggerations of scruffy environmentalist kooks to the gathering of real dangers that their hysterical rhetoric obscures.

But within the hysteria and exaggeration of political activists, mostly of the Left, …  there is often a kernel of legitimate concern, be it economical, sociological, aesthetic, or environmental. We conservatives have shut our ears.

Are we not perhaps talking too much to ourselves? Are we not writing too much for the applause of our fellows? Is any of us—with few exceptions—saying anything that we have not heard before, and are we not—all of us—submitting intellectually to conservative political correctness and the inertia of the modern super state?

I wonder—I am nagged by the doubt—has the disheartening failure of the conservative movement on the domestic front … been anywhere sufficiently acknowledged or analyzed by our great conservative institutions of scholarly learning?

Brrrrrringggg! That's a warning bell.

"Great conservative institutions of scholarly learning?"

Honkie, please.

Oh, wait. What's his day job again?

I see.

Once alerted, you pick a little more carefully through the pomposity (and really, just how many bucking Buckleys are there, anyway?), and in the end, it is to snicker. For all of his ranting against stale thinking, sloganeering, clinging to ideology, and lack of new ideas, here are his prescriptions and values:

Embrace small government. Be a deficit hawk. Social Security is teh suck. The sexual revolution ruined our country.

"Athwart history!" "Hayek!" "WOLVERINES!!!1!" [Okay, I threw that last one in.]

We should get prayer back into schools. God save teh fetus. Murrika is a Christian nation and we should amend the Constitution to reflect that. [Srsly.]

George Will says a lot of smart things. I like Charles Krauthammer, too. And that Bell Curve guy. And Brent Bozell. [And never mind that I'm not telling you that he's my brother-in-law.] Ronald Reagan is like Jesus, only better.

And last but not least:

"I am a temperamental maverick"

Mmmm, just smell the freshness.

"Ted Haggard Is Completely Heterosexual"

I'm pretty much aligned with John Cole when it comes to feelings about Ted Haggard: now that he's been knocked out of power, I mostly just pity him. The latest revelations about his indulging his pay for play tastes in young men, spilled by the guy who took over his megachurch perch, make me think of three things.

First, and obviously, this is yet another in an endless series of examples of the Christianists practicing the exact opposite of the message preached by the guy they claim to revere.

Second, and just about as obviously, it's a damned shame that Haggard had to be raised in a culture that makes it so hard for him to to be himself.

Third, however, I'm still inclined to think poorly of Haggard himself. He's a grown man and he has to take the responsibility for his own actions. Continuing to live in denial, and worse, trying to cash in by playing a martyr on TV, is contemptible. As Perry Farrell said in another context, "Ted, Just Admit It."

Be yourself, Ted. The reality-based community stands ready to embrace you as soon as you embrace who you really are. And if you must continue to believe in Jesus, at least make the effort to understand his real philosophy. Until then, you remain worthy of mockery.

And in any case, Roy Zimmerman's song is too funny not to post.

(alt. video link)

(h/t: Sadly, No!)

Another Sign of Hope

It appears that al-Qaeda is panicking about Barack Obama. His consistent focus on working together and finding common ground, not to mention significant concrete steps already taken in his first week in office, represent huge potential to a world looking to the US to be a better global partner. This, of course, is a threat to those who thrive on divisiveness and fear of The Other. Consequently, they're ramping up a smear campaign against him.

Steve M. has details over at No More Mister Nice Blog.

Happy as this news is, here's the first question that pops into my mind: Can an alignment between al-Qaeda and our own rightwing blowhards be far behind?

You laugh?

As Far As Tamping Down The "Messiah" Talk Goes, This Isn't Helping

I'm frequently annoyed when the results of a scientific study are played up in the press before undergoing peer review. However, it's easy to understand how hard it would be to keep this under your hat:

Now researchers have documented what they call an Obama effect, showing that a performance gap between African-Americans and whites on a 20-question test administered before Mr. Obama’s nomination all but disappeared when the exam was administered after his acceptance speech and again after the presidential election.

[...]

Researchers in the last decade assembled university students with identical SAT scores and administered tests to them, discovering that blacks performed significantly poorer when asked at the start to fill out a form identifying themselves by race. The researchers attributed those results to anxiety that caused them to tighten up during exams in which they risked confirming a racial stereotype.

In the study made public on Thursday, Dr. Friedman and his colleagues compiled a brief test, drawing 20 questions from the verbal sections of the Graduate Record Exam, and administering it four times to about 120 white and black test-takers during last year’s presidential campaign.

In total, 472 Americans — 84 blacks and 388 whites — took the exam. Both white and black test-takers ranged in age from 18 to 63, and their educational attainment ranged from high school dropout to Ph.D.

On the initial test last summer, whites on average correctly answered about 12 of 20 questions, compared with about 8.5 correct answers for blacks, Dr. Friedman said. But on the tests administered immediately after Mr. Obama’s nomination acceptance speech, and just after his election victory, black performance improved, rendering the white-black gap “statistically nonsignificant,” he said.

If there was ever a study that cried out for immediate efforts at replication, this is it. Could it really be that societal-reinforced poor self-image and consequent test-taking anxiety are all we need to explain demographic differences on standardized tests? This is like catnip to bleeding heart liberals like me, so we have to be doubly skeptical, await the results of peer review, and see if other workers can produce similar results independently.

But man, what if?

__________


Hat tip to DougJ at Balloon Juice and Sean Carroll at Cosmic Variance, both of whom add thoughts worth reading.

No One Could Have Predicted

On Thursday, I passed along Righteous Bubba's notice that Michael Crook had announced he was going on a hunger strike until Barack Obama resigned, "because a country with a colored president simply isn’t worth living in."

At this point, I will only consume minimal liquids, until one of two things happens: either he does the right thing and resigns, or I die of hunger.

No, I am not whistling Dixie, and no I am not fibbing. I will post video journals as this progresses to either his resignation or my death.

Apparently, I am the only right-thinking White brother who has the balls to put his life on the line for his race. Pity, that.

Shame that it took Michael freaking Crook to stand up and do what’s right. What’s right for the White race, and what’s right for America, although the former is much more important.

And blah, blah, blah.

ArtSparker made what seemed like the right call in the Comments here:

I think there's something children do to scare their parents, holding their breath until their faces turn blue...

To pick up the story, let's go back to the source.

Update one (Friday evening):

It’s been almost three days….I’m dizzy, tired, and feel as if I could eat a horse, but this is a sacrifice I am happily making for my race.

You must resign, Barack Hussein Obama.

Update two (Saturday morning):

Just like yesterday, I remain on hunger strike, as I have since a little after 9pm local time on Tuesday.

I remain dizzy, and headaches, blurred vision, and extreme fatigue are the orders of the day. Yet, I am cheered by the fact that I am making the ultimate sacrifice for my race.

Update three (Saturday, a few minutes after noon):

Sometimes you have to make choices. With the purchase of an extra value meal at around 11 this morning, I ended my hunger strike, which lasted three days. Might I say that a Big Extra value meal at McDonald’s never tasted so good.

I think Matt Dinniman's artwork sums it up best:

Michael Crook, huffer not-so-extraordinaireMichael Crook: I'll huff and I'll puff ...


Looks like ArtSparker got everything right except the color.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Moving From Gray To Green

Cool! McAfee SiteAdvisor finally got around to checking this blog and I got a clean bill of health!

Which, if you're reading this and have no idea what I'm talking about, you probably could not be more bored to learn.

But, if you're still awake, here's the short version. McAfee SiteAdvisor is a service that checks websites for malware, spamming, and other bad behavior and maintains a database of the findings. You can visit the SiteAdvisor home page and check what they think of a site by typing a URL into the box labeled "Look up a site report."

Much more conveniently, they offer a free browser add-on for Firefox and Internet Explorer (and maybe some other others). The add-on does two main things. First, it displays a little button in the lower right corner of your browser's status bar:

McAfee SiteAdvisor button in browser status bar


This button turns green when you surf to a site that SiteAdvisor deems safe, yellow for risky, red for dangerous, and gray for no-frickin'-clue -- i.e., McAfee's robots haven't scanned the site yet.

Second, the SiteAdvisor add-on adds icons to search engine results, using the same color coding scheme. Here's a shot of my sexy new green check mark on a Google results page:

McAfee SiteAdvisor icon on Google results page


No more drab gray circle with a question mark!

It's hard to say, from the user point of view, whether the SiteAdvisor add-on is much more than a security blanket, at least with my surfing habits. It does tend to err on the side of caution, meaning a few "Danger Will Robinson!" false positives, but it seems lightweight enough to feel like it's worth having. I've occasionally link-hopped to a new site, seen the status bar button turn red, and been happy to leave right away. I've also been happy to avoid clicking on certain results returned by Google -- depending on what you search for, it's possible to get a red site on the first page (e.g.), or in the ads that get displayed on the search results page.

It's not a guarantee of safety, of course. A site could turn bad in between visits from McAfee's robot crawlers, for example, or existing bad behavior could go undetected. But, it seems better than nothing to me -- galoshes to go with the umbrella of antivirus software, perhaps, and also, a little more info about which sites I can feel comfortable giving my email address to.

If you're interested in the browser add-on, visit the SiteAdvisor home page, their Download page, and/or their Learn More page.

Finally, for bloggers and other site owners: If you're interested in making sure your site is okay in SiteAdvisor's eyes, visit their resources page. If they haven't already scanned your site, you can register for an account (free) and go through a fairly painless site ownership verification process. Let me know if you want details that you can't figure out from them.

Farewell Kisses From George W. Bush

The lede:

President Barack Obama has promised change for America, but when it comes to environmental regulations, he's still in the grip of yesterday. In his last few months in office, former President George W. Bush's Administration pushed through over 150 "midnight regulations," many of them weakening existing environmental protections. Although Obama is now in charge, most of Bush's new rules are on the books, and changing them will take time and effort from an already burdened White House. "The Obama Administration will be saddled with reversing harmful Bush rules at the same time that Obama wants to enact his own agenda," says John Walke, a senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Some of the rules can be stopped or countermanded fairly easily (and already have been), where the Bushies missed a key deadline on getting the paperwork in order. Most, though, not so much. Among the ones that'll have to be dug out:

They include regulations that allow mountaintop-removal mining projects to pollute streambeds with leftover dirt, and a Bush move to begin to permit drilling for oil and gas on the Outer Continental Shelf. Worse, they also include a drastic weakening of the Endangered Species Act, allowing federal agencies to bypass expert advice from federal scientists on whether proposed projects would have an impact on endangered species, essentially cutting the heart out of the act. "The number of regulations where the Bush Administration succeeded far outnumbered the ones where they failed," says Walke.

The rest.

Your Moment of Awesome

You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done.
-- President Barack Obama, speaking to GOP leaders

(h/t: No More Mister Nice Blog)

More Popcorn, Please

Remember yesterday, when I pointed you to TBogg's account of Erick Erickson's angry wadding up of his Cheetos bag?

Now another member of the Red State Trike Force has piled on. The post title is "Cleansing the Party." It was written by someone named James Richardson, who claims, "I served as the Republican National Committee’s Online Communications Manager for the 2008 Presidential cycle." Among other delights to be found in his screed, he links to a story on FoxNews.com to support a claim of "Governor Palin’s soaring popularity with base supporters." The article mentions Palin exactly nowhere. You can't make this stuff up.

And David Frum has fired back. Among other things, he complains about politicos, their word games, how they dance around the truth, and how they resort, finally, to attacking the reporter and questioning motives. Srsly.

It's 10° outside right now, but I'm feeling all warm inside.

(h/t: Instaputz)

Can I Get This In Poster Size? Please?

Via email from Don McArthur. Click it to see it in all its wholiness.

Warning Poster Against Crotchety Old Atheists

(alt. pic. source)

Gotta love that they picked a goat as the personification -- gave 'em the excuse to show the horns.

Slowly He Learns

Former Bush supporter John Cole reacts to news of the CBO non-report report:

I promised to myself that never again would I be as gullible as I was during the Bush years, but I really don’t know what the appropriate level of skeptical is for Republicans right now. Even after losing their asses in the last two elections, facing numerous crises, here they are just flat-out making shit up on arguably the most important topic of the day.

From now on, anything the Republicans say I am just going to have to assume is a lie, until proven otherwise. I don’t know how else to handle this, as they simply can not be trusted to tell the truth or do the right thing, regardless what the stakes are.

I am not trying to say I told you so. Happy to have you aboard, John, happy that you've been aboard for the past couple of years, and happy to see that you're still open to realizing that no matter how bad you thought they were before, yes, the Republicans who hold the most clout really are even worse than that.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Purging Will Continue Until The Membership Goes To Zero

Erick Erickson, the Grand High Exalted Mystic Ruler of the Red State Trike Force, calls New Majority a "left wing website."

New Majority ("Building a conservatism that can win again") is run by David Frum, last seen writing "Axis of Evil" speeches for George W. Bush when not busy denying that the West Bank is an occupied territory.

Whatever could be the problem?

Oh. NM just blogged about Sarah Palin's campaign wardrobe. Yes, that. Again. Still. Also. [Update: Twice!]

TBogg reports from the War Room.

Line of the Day: 2009-01-23

Pretty much every redblue-blooded lefty has already taken a swipe at that Forbes list, "The 25 Most Influential Liberals In The U.S. Media."

Rather than focusing on the dubiousness of many of those included, one of my favorite bloggers notes an omission, and once again, Roy Edroso wins the Internet:

It is believed ... that the whole thing was conceived as a dis to Keith Olbermann.

Tom Sawyer's Got Nothing on Him

Ta-Nehisi Coates had a bad moment earlier today. He found out one of the hidden costs of blogging for The Man. He was directed to … write a mission statement for his blog.

Can you imagine.

Pretending for a moment that I would ever be good enough that The Atlantic would pay me to blog, I'm sure I would have blown the job right there. However, Ta-Nehisi kept his cool and came up with the brilliant idea of challenging his commenters to see who could write the best one.

Smartest move since Google came up with Image Labeler.

Make It So

Short and sweet. For my buds John Evo and The Exterminator. Maybe this will inspire them to pick up the blogo-pen again.

(alt. video link)

(h/t: Dennis DiClaudio)

A Quick Salute ...

... to Tom Hilton, one of the IIRTZers, for careful reading.

The prison at Guantánamo Bay is recruiting gold for al Qaeda and others who would like to emulate them. If you can't admit that, you're probably a wingnut. Good for Obama for moving to shut it down, and best wishes to him and his Administration for speedy resolution of the details. We Americans will be able to hold our heads a little higher and we'll be safer.

Something Else That Never Goes Away

What? Wingnuts trying once again to force creationism into the science classroom? Who woulda thunk?

This time, instead of Kansas or Dover, PA, the scene is Texas, a state best known lately for its Village Idiot-in-Chief. As the old saying goes, however, there's no such thing as just one, and evidence in support of this may be found in the person of Chairman of the Texas State Board of Education:

Dr. Don McLeroy, a dentist, pushed in 2003 for a more skeptical version of evolution to be presented in the state’s textbooks, but could not get a majority to vote with him. Dr. McLeroy has said he does not believe in Darwin’s theory and thinks that Earth’s appearance is a recent geologic event, thousands of years old, not 4.5 billion as scientists contend.

I'm not going to go on at length about the stupidity of equating religious myths with scientific theories or the sliminess of the wingnuts' "teach the controversy" and "it's all about free speech" sloganeering. Presumably, you know this already. Still, I did want to mention this latest infestation, because even if it sometimes feels hopeless that we'll ever rid ourselves of these cockroaches, we have to keep shining the light, so that we can at least keep them in huddled in the dank cracks where they belong.

(h/t: Steve Benen)

They're Like Cockroaches

We'll never be rid of the Bushies. In addition to the already ongoing revisionist history effort known as the Bush Legacy Project and the cover-ups and obfuscation of the historical record exemplified in my previous post, it's clear that another tactic will be distraction through hysterical attacks on the new Administration.

Case in point: former chief Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen. Yesterday, he penned an op-ed in the WaPo that amounted to rooting for another terrorist attack on the US so that Obama could be blamed for his new policies banning torture. Today, in the NRO, he follows up:

It’s not even the end of inauguration week, and Obama is already proving to be the most dangerous man ever to occupy the Oval Office.

Seriously. Re-read that statement and think about just how insane it really is.

I know it's hard -- we've become inured by the relentlessness of the rightwing noise machine that's been in overdrive since at least the early days of the Clinton Administration. The tactic is to trot out an amoral wingnut to say something even further over the top than what was said the day before. This has two purposes. First, it gives fresh talking points for reinforcing the calcified mindset of people who get their "news" from Fox and AM radio. Second, it causes the MSM to react to a perceived new goalpost by redefining the "middle," as in "the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle."

And, of course, if the MSM doesn't move far enough, fast enough, or uncritically enough, the playbook calls for trotting out another wingnut to claim that "the liberal media is in the tank," which the choir will eagerly echo.

Never mind that, in reality, the MSM is filled with chin-strokers who appear unable to decide whether their favorite topic is how the Obama Administration has failed to deliver or how destructive it would be to investigate the Bush Administration; the whole point is to keep the spineless quivering. The constant, underlying drumbeat is fear, fear, fear.

You watch. The ugliness has only just begun.



[Added] More revisionism. More denial of reality. And another ineradicable cockroach.

Lost Found Lost in the Shuffle

Here's something that escaped my notice last week: During the flurry of the final days of the Bush Administration, those millions of missing White House email messages (remember those?) were apparently found.

A Justice Department lawyer told a federal judge yesterday that the Bush administration will meet its legal requirement to transfer e-mails to the National Archives after spending more than $10 million to locate 14 million e-mails reported missing four years ago from White House computer files.

Or not.

The emails at issue are from periods that will be crucial in assessing the Bush legacy, including the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, and Pat Fitzgerald's probe of the Valerie plame leak. We'll know more about just how much has been preserved by next Tuesday or Wednesday, when the records will be transferred to the National Archives.

But it doesn't sound like we'll get everything. The new email system that the White House switched to four years ago allowed all staff members to access storage files and delete messages -- unlike the previous system, which was designed to preserve all messages containing official business. Fuchs said that the White House has still declined to make a forensic copy of the records, so any emails that were deleted likely won't be recovered. And since we're talking about millions of emails, it may be impossible to know what we don't have.

The National Security Archive has a comprehensive timeline of this whole mess, with tons of links. Among the highlights:

Late 2001 to early 2002: White House dismantles the Automated Records Management System (ARMS) put in place by Clinton Administration to archive e-mails.

January 3, 2003: Start date of period of missing e-mails.

July 28, 2005: Last day listed in 2005 Report with either zero e-mail (“Red Days"), or suspiciously low e-mail tallies (“Yellow Days”) within the day’s e-mail archive.

October 2005: Office of Administration discovers that some e-mail may not have been archived properly. OA’s detailed analysis later revealed hundreds of days between January 3, 2003, and July 28, 2005, when e-mails were missing for one or more EOP components, totaling approximately 5 million.

The next three years on the timeline are filled with an exhausting list of FOIA requests and lawsuits filed by the National Security Archive and the watchdog group CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington), as well as Congressional subpoenas, all of which the Bush White House responded to by stalling, filing motions to dismiss, or flat-out ignoring. Bush spokespeople variously deny any emails have been lost, or assert that there's no way to recover them, or say that they could possibly be recovered, but it's going to take a lot of time and money. This goes on until last week, whereupon the Bushies insist that they have delivered tapes containing "all" of the email messages to the National Security Archive.

Long story short: the Bush Administration appears to have committed crimes to cover up the commission of other crimes, and when caught out in the end, delivered a giant field filled with haystacks, all of them riddled with needles, challenging anyone who cares about accountability and the historical record to find the few that aren't there. By their standards, they no doubt count this as a success.

(Thanks for the links to Dan Tynan, whose blog post was the first thing I came across when it popped into my heads to check Google to see if there was any recent news on this whole sordid affair.)

Fox News and Rush Limbaugh: Putting Country First

(alt. video link)

(h/t: TPM)

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