Friday, February 29, 2008

Neologism of the Month: 2008-02

(Updated below)

Jonanism. Bow down to ThePoorman! (h/t: Instaputz)

Disclaimer: The fact that no other neologisms have been nominated on this blog during this month, and the fact that only about three more hours remain in this month, despite this month's having an extra day, should in no way be construed as a diminishing of the magnitude of the appreciation of this blog's author.

On a related note, Michael Tomasky, though a little late to the game, more than makes up for his tardiness. Free content from TNR, no less!

[Added] My bad for missing this one when it came out: Alterman takes a whack.


2008-03-01 13:37

Attribution correction, thanks to sfaw: Originator of term is believed to be "calling all toasters," not ThePoorman. We still bow down, but now in a different direction. Details in the comments.


Hard to believe a man who goes by the handle of The Exterminator once had another nickname. Or, now that I think about it, maybe not.

At any rate, go read his memory of riding the bus with his grandmother. Outstanding.

We Are The Ones

The latest from

This is our America.

In related news, I am considering changing my middle name to Hussein.

[Added 2008-04-01] Another! Note the tagline in litbrit's header.

(Better quality video here)

What Would Jesus Do?

People who know my feelings about religion often ask me if I am troubled by this aspect of Barack Obama's character. I am not, and often reply to the effect that, while he may be more of a church-goer than I am, his thinking does not seemed to be swamped by dogma.

Now, add to that, "... or intolerance."

CC: Letter to Adam Nagourney

The following is a copy of a letter that I sent to Adam Nagourney of the NY Times.

(Update: AN reply in the Comments)

Mr. Nagourney:

I just finished reading your piece, "For Obama, a Taste of What a Long Battle Would Hold."

It was a good overview, I thought, but omitted one key element that we have already seen deployed: It is clear that an ongoing strategy by the Republican Party will be to use surrogates like, most recently, Bill Hobbs, Bill Cunningham, and Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), to sling the mud, while John McCain remains above the fray and even gets to pick up bonus points for "condemning" these attacks.

Hobbs, you probably recall, was the Tennessee GOP media consultant responsible for the material later removed from that organization's web site. Cunningham was the conservative talk show host who introduced John McCain at a recent event, while managing to say "Hussein" early and often. Kingston's latest effort was to question Obama's patriotism, on MSNBC and elsewhere, because the Senator does not wear a flag lapel pin.

I am not claiming that these tactics are done at McCain's direction. They don't need to be, any more than the Swiftboaters needed daily marching orders from Karl Rove to carry out their attacks on John Kerry. It's clear to all involved how the game is played. Therefore, we can expect a steady stream of obnoxious statements, misleading images, and emails containing outright lies about Obama to spew forth, all while McCain jumps in front of cameras to distance himself, or at best, to issue the occasional "tut tut."

Admittedly, the blogosphere has been all over most of the recent slurs. On the other hand, I expect that you are writing for different readers, many of whom rely upon the Times as a principle or sole news source. I imagine that you are aware of the tactics I have described, but might be hesitant to print them, since finding sources who will confirm the implicit connections is difficult. On the other hand, there is no shortage of reporting, in the Times and other respectable media channels, about the content of the attacks themselves. If such events are considered reportable, then it seems equally reasonable to mention the phenomenon that I have outlined. It also seems reasonable to acknowledge that McCain will look to benefit -- in two ways -- from the gutter politics played by surrogates. To fail to mention this in a political analysis piece is disingenuous.

Meanwhile, Back at the "Ranch"

What with all the recent buzz about John McCain's lobbyist connections and shenanigans involving public funds for his campaign, we tend to forget about his fellow Republicans, still in residence.


GOP Halts Effort to Retrieve White House E-Mails

John Cole says, "This should not surprise anyone." He's mostly right, although the sheer audacity at blatant cover-ups by Bush & Co. still never fails to amaze me.

Not Available Yet

(Updated below: correction)

But it damned well ought to be, and soon. Great for a bumper sticker or T-shirt, don't you think?


Get on over to slag's place and demand your right to buy.

And have a look around the rest of the site, including the Shameless Commerce link. Great stuff.


2008-02-29 11:27

Turns out it is, in fact, available. See here and here.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

For the Record

Just posted a couple of comments on PWConservative, a blog with the tagline:

After Obama becomes President, All of us good people should move to Tanzania and elect Bush as our President for Life

Seems PWC is in a tizzy about the appearance of Eric Balfour in the "Yes I Can" music video. The really bad part, according to PWC, as noted by careful reader Jon Swift, is that Balfour has also appeared in Lie With Me, "One of the only modern films to contain unstimulated sexual material."

In case my comments get deleted, here's what I said:

Are you equally troubled by the support of George W. Bush by James Dale Guckert, aka Jeff Gannon?

Or that Mark Kulkis and Mary Carey paid $5000 to dine with the same president?

And what about frequent contributor to the RNC, Nicholas T. Boyias?


I have another question: How did you recognize this guy in the first place?

Heh. That was fast. First comment already deleted. Also, "unstimulated" has been changed, possibly in reaction to another comment, by Amy:

It's 'unsimulated' sex, you reactionary Bozo!

Unstimulated sex -- that would be what you have with your wife.

New Rules Provoke Wingnut Pity Party. Again.

(Updated below)

Kind of an awkward sentence, but I guess ol' Timmers was trying to type with one hand while knuckling away angry tears with the other:

That underlines the "mainstream" mistake – that whatever the reigning liberal sensibilities are in our news template, often defined by minority journalist groups, are defined as "neutral."

What's the problem this time? Seems the new executive editor at the Moonie Washington Times, John Solomon, has issued some updates to the paper's style guide. Among the horrors: use illegal immigrants instead of illegal aliens, and no more scare quotes around gay marriage. Oh, and from now on, "Clinton will be the headline word for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton."

I can never decide what's most amazing about the far-right "media watchdogs:" the amount of hate they can bring every day, that they can't grasp that their viewpoint isn't the mainstream, or that they think things like this are funny. (Featured link on the Timmers post, in case you missed it.)

(h/t: Roy Edroso)


2008-02-29 02:24

More Roy, on another wingnut feeling sorry for himself because the mean liberals are always picking on him:

The maudlin note of persecution just makes the KICK ME sign easier to read.

Boy can bring it.

Farrakhan This

Glenn Greenwald has a nice piece on a radical pastor who has just announced his support for … McCain!

Anybody want to bet Tim Russert will be grilling St. John about this any time soon? Anybody want to bet McCain will be required to denounce and reject this support?

Didn't think so.

And whatever happened to His Holy Maverickness and his straight talk about the agents of intolerance? That is soooo last campaign, I guess.

(h/t: Matthew Yglesias)

McCain: "Situational Ethicist"

George Will punctures another tire in the bus formerly known as the "Straight Talk Express." Harsh. And delightful, especially as the dart comes from the right.

(h/t: Matthew Yglesias)

Thought For the Day: 2008-02-28

Should Barack Obama end up winning his party's nomination, he will give his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Denver on August 28 -- 45 years to the day [after] Martin Luther King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
-- Arianna Huffington

By the way, if you've never seen the whole thing, watch it here.

No Bling! Zing!

Q: Who is the guy on the right?
A: Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA)

Q: What is he doing on TV?
A: Criticizing Barack Obama for not wearing a flag lapel pin.

Q: What is missing from Kingston's lapel?

Jack Kingston, sans bling.  Zinged!

Nice work, Josh.

File this one, once again, under IOIYAR. Gonna need some new cabinets pretty soon.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

He's Back!

One of the great losses for the blogosphere occurred a little more than a year ago, when Michael Bérubé decided to hang up his spikes.

I am happy to note that he has started popping up again. Of particular enjoyment: he has resurrected his Answer Man persona in a couple of recent posts on TPM. Here's all you need to know about political correctness and Barack Obama's failure during last night's debate.

More posts and links here, here, and here. Great to see you back in action, Michael.

The Right Stuff?

In the spirit of trying to stay out of the echo chamber, I put out one of my semi-periodic calls for recommendations for good conservative blogs on the forums.

What do I mean by a "good conservative blog?" It's hard to say precisely, but loosely, I mean a place where I can find viewpoints different from mine that are not just the same old liberal-bashing talking points, nor are they the ones dominated by venom, xenophobia, war-cheerleading, and general shallowness of thought. As examples of the non-good, the following come to mind: Ace, Althouse, Confederate Yankee, Instapundit, LGF, Malkin, Powerline, Townhall, and the Weekly Standard. Possible additions to this list, although I don't know them as well, include Captain's Quarters, Hot Air, and Redstate.

I already regularly read Ross Douthat, Balloon Juice, and Andrew Sullivan, although it's arguable that the latter two have been expelled for heresy by the rest of the True Conservatives.

I got back some helpful suggestions, especially from AemJeff and Piscivorous:

Anyone have any other recommendations and/or any feelings about the ones listed?

Of course, the go-to reasonable conservative remains the incomparable Jon Swift.

Eerie coincidence: Just as I was double-checking my links prior to publishing this post, I saw that The Corner's most recent entry is a report of the death of William Buckley, Jr. Sort of the canonical thinking conservative, at least to some.

Thunderbird Patch Released

This takes you to version Five bugs addressed, one rated critical. (Details.)

If you have automatic updates turned on, you might already know about this. If not, the usual Help -> Check for Updates drill should get you squared away.

The patch, for me, was about 600 KB, and downloaded and installed with the usual minimum of fuss.

By the way, Mozilla has formed a separate entity to manage Thunderbird. Visit if you'd like to offer input on the next version or find out what else is new. You can get the current version of Thunderbird by following the obvious link on the home page. For the moment, the download is still hosted by

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Congratulations, Josh!

Josh Marshall has just won a George Polk award, the first blogger ever to do so. The NYT has a nice write-up.

You do read TalkingPointsMemo and watch Veracifier every day, don't you? Good. That's what I thought.

While double-checking the TPM link, I saw that the latest entry was this marvel of brevity:

Tale of the Tape

CBS News/NYT national poll:

Jan 13: Clinton 42%, Obama 27%
Feb 3: Clinton 41%, Obama 41%
Feb 25: Obama 54%, Clinton 38%

Hard not to copy that one.

Monday, February 25, 2008

New Poll: Reacting to Ralph

Probably I'm the only person on the planet to have thought of polling on this question, right? Go over to the sidebar and vote!

Poll closes 3 March 2008, at 6:35 PM EST.

[Added] Just realized I didn't offer much of a choice for non-U.S. readers. Sorry about that. Please think in terms of a vote from the heart.

The results from the last poll (multiple selections were permitted):

Q: Which columnist(s) would you like to see banished from the NY Times OpEd page? Please prefer staleness to ideology as your criterion.

1. Maureen Dowd:   42%
2. Bob Herbert:   28%
2. Paul Krugman:   28%
4. Roger Cohen:   14%
4. Gail Collins:   14%
4. Nicholas D. Kristof:   14%
4. Frank Rich:   14%
4. I never read the NYT OpEds: 14%
9. David Brooks:   0%
9. Thomas L. Friedman:   0%
9. Keep them all!:   0%

Note I omitted Bill Kristol from the choices on purpose. Review the question.

Thanks for voting!

Hate the restrictions of multiple-choice questions? Please feel free to expand upon your vote in the Comments.

Thought Experiment

(Shamelessly promoted to the front page from my own remarks in the comments)

As a test of ego, imagine the following: Bloomberg says he wants to run, he'll pay all the bills, adopt every plank in Nader's program, and he wants Nader to be his VP. Think Ralph would accept?

- - - - -

On a related note, see John Ridley's take on Nader. Great lede:

What do you do when those pesky peaceniks come around to your house long after dark, ringing the doorbell, wanting you to sign a petition to save the spotted salamander or something? If you're anything like me you dial up your private security company, grab a bowl of cheddar cheese popcorn and wait for the fun that only independent contractors with badges can deliver.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Let's Get Scared!

Via Josh Marshall, the latest in "Republican attack ads:"

I love the "paid for" line at the end.

(alt. video link)

Inside Joke

(alt. video link)

The above is an example of a lighter moment on It is not otherwise of significance, although it still makes me laugh. This post is mostly a test of embedding a dingalink.

NB: Clicking the "More Stuff Like This …" button may trigger your browser's pop-up blocker. The only thing that button does, or is supposed to do, is to open a new window and take you to

[Update 2012-02-11 10:39] New embed code. Old embed code no longer works.

Oh, Ralph

(Updated below)

ridiculous ralphI watched Ralph Nader announce his candidacy for the presidency on Meet the Press this morning. I have to admit, there is some merit to the complaints he has. It is true that many concerns that are not being addressed by either party, and it is true that absent a hard push from the far left, the Democrats have lately had a tendency to drift too far to the right. There's also a lot of truth to his assertion that if the Democrats can't win the White House in a landslide this time around, even with him in the race, they really ought to pack it up.

But really. It's clear from what else Nader had to say that he strongly prefers that the Republicans be booted out of the White House. So I say to him …

Ralph: There is a time and place for everything, and the time and place for fighting over the direction of the Democratic Party is not during the general election. It is, among other times and places, during the primaries. If you want me to respect you, you'd do much better to participate in the slugfests that are Iowa and New Hampshire and the early debates. The way you've chosen to go about things the past three elections makes me think you're either stroking your own ego or you're just plain delusional. In either case, your approach makes me doubt that you truly have the best interests of the country at heart.

(Photo source: Doug Quick)


2008-02-24 19:38

MattY has a sharper tongue than mine.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Math is Hard Wacked

Just saw that my main man made it 11 in a row yesterday, after winning the primary called "Democrats Abroad."

Apparently, Obama won the popular vote by a 2-to-1 margin. However:

The overseas Democrats were allocating a small number of delegates … under a proportional system that allotted 2.5 to Obama and 2 to Clinton.

Once the dust settles from this election, I say we teach the DLC basic fractions:

(Subject) Line of the Day: 2008-02-22

This was not spam, believe it or not:

Subject: UFOs, Chuck Norris...and global warming?

Turned out to be bacn from Working Assests, trying to rally the masses to urge talking heads to ask more meaningful questions at upcoming debates. A worthy enough sentiment, although good luck with that is the only reaction I am able to muster.

The less cynical among you may wish to visit this page.

A Love Story in Three Pictures

Via email from KK and El Deb:

love story in 3 pix

(click pic to enlarge)

Blogosphere Expands By a Good One

A friend from the forums, Abu Noor Al-Irlandee, has just started a blog. He raised the possibility a while ago, I encouraged him, and he has just gone live.

Abu Noor is an American who has converted to Islam. He always adds an interesting perspective to the forum discussions, and I expect you'll find the same on his own pages. Drop by and show him some love. Or argue with him -- he's a good debater.

Does It Get Worse? Oh, Yes. It Gets Worse.

Following a heads-up from commenter Eastwest in the forums discussing the diavlog I recommended in my previous post, I learned this disturbing news: The Discovery Channel purchased the television rights to Taxi to the Dark Side from director Alex Gibney, telling him they were committed to giving it a prominent airing. They then decided the film was "too controversial," and, claiming to be worried about an upcoming public offering of their stock, told Gibney they would not be airing it after all.

Think Progress posted a good summary of this on 8 February, along with a short interview with Gibney. Audio and partial transcript available here.

Of particular note during this interview: Gibney points out the incongruity of Americans' simultaneous love for dramatic torture porn epitomized by 24 and their resistance to learning about the real thing.

Democracy Now aired an interview with Gibney on 12 February, in which he and Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, talked about this crass and craven decision by The Discovery Channel. Video, audio, and transcript available here.

Money quote from Warren, describing the Bush Administration:

They admit what they can't deny, and they deny what they can't admit.

I looked around a little more, and came upon another interview with Gibney on this same topic. This one, also posted 12 February, is hosted by The Center for American Progress. Listen, read, and follow some useful links, all here.

Small amount of good news from that last page:

Update 2/21/08: HBO Documentary Films announced that they have acquired the domestic television rights for "Taxi to the Dark Side." The film will debut on HBO in September, 2008.

HBO doesn't have the penetration into households that The Discovery Channel does, but it's a start. Go YouTube, and go BitTorrent, I say.

To return to the Discovery Channel, we really need to figure out a way to punish them for their behavior. The idea that they would buy a film and then suppress it is just appalling. It is a powerful symbol of the complicity of the corporate mindset with the worst actions of our government. If ever a film needed to be aired during a presidential campaign year -- a year, I remind you, in which one of the candidates has just voted in favor of torture -- this is it.

You might also have a look at the official site for the film. There's a good trailer to watch, along with help on finding a theater in which the film will be shown, among other things.

Must Watch

The latest diavlog on is something every American should watch. It's an interview of Alex Gibney by film critic David Edelstein. Gibney's film, Taxi to the Dark Side, has been nominated for an Oscar, as you may or may not know. It's a documentary that looks at the culture of torture created by the Bush Administration after 9/11.

Maybe you've decided not to see Taxi to the Dark Side, for whatever reason. I know that despite my early sympathy for the film, I have put off seeing it, figuring it would just be more preaching to my choir. After watching the diavlog, both Gibney's matter-of-fact reporting and Edelstein's obvious positive reaction to having seen the film have compelled me to change my mind.

Streaming video, and downloadable video and audio of the interview, all available here. Running time about 48 minutes. Please give this one a shot. And then go see the movie, if you think you'll be able to bear it.

[Added] If you're viewing just this individual post, have a look at my next one, too, please.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

We Hit It. I Think.

The claim is, the missile hit the satellite. But we won't know for 24 hours whether the hit was effective.

Many have been speculating that this shootdown of a satellite in a decaying orbit was motivated by eagerness to play with Star Wars toys, something that I am ever more convinced is at least part of the thinking that went into this. And the fact that no one knows after firing the missile whether it did any good only adds to my deep skepticism about the worthiness of this boondoggle of a program.

I think Gail Collins has it about right:

Before it fired at the satellite Wednesday night, the military was hesitating about making a shot, citing the possibility of “choppy seas.” Cynics who asked whether this means the nation’s quadrillion-dollar missile defense system only works when the weather is calm were told to stop being ridiculous.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lawrence Lessing on Why He's For Obama

Via Farhad Manjoo, here's Lawrence Lessig making the case for Obama:

The video is about twenty minutes long, but if you're still on the fence about this, it's probably worth your time.

(alt. video link)

Elementary (now) for dear Watson

You may have heard about the moment of cringe on Tuesday, when Texas State Senator Kirk Watson, appearing as an Obama supporter during the coverage of the Wisconsin and Hawaii primaries, could not answer Chris Matthews's question about Obama's legislative achievements.

In the better late than never department, Watson has posted a short bit on his own web site. Call it damage control, or be more charitable, but it's pretty good.

Hat tip to Hilzoy, guest-blogging on Andrew Sullivan's site. Hilzoy's post is worth reading, as well.

And h/t to BlogginNoggin, for pointing out Hilzoy's post.

This doesn't excuse Watson, who should have been better prepared, but quick, without Googling, name Hillary Clinton's legislative accomplishments. For me, the only thing that comes to mind is a lot of noise in favor of outlawing flag-burning and a decidedly dumb pro-war vote.

Hey Nineteen

If approval rates were ages, Bush's would no longer be legal to drink.

19% approval rating.

Forget the Mendoza Line. He's approaching Cheney territory.

(h/t: Jonathan Chait)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Lede of the Day: 2008-02-19

I have a framed New Yorker cartoon depicting two proper gentlemen in suits, eyeglasses and hats presenting themselves to the guard booth in front of the White House. The caption reads: “We’re from the Far Right. We’re here to be mollified.”

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Attention: Upgrade Your Tinfoil Helmet

From the What Could Possibly Go Wrong Department:

U.S. Officials Say Broken Satellite Will Be Shot Down

Hard to say if it'd be better to let the whole thing come down by itself -- earlier reports have indicated that it's too big to burn up completely in the atmosphere, and there are some toxic chemicals aboard to worry about, even if it doesn't land on someone's head. But there is danger from the debris to consider, even if the missile hits as planned, and you do have to wonder about the odds of one intact lump landing in a problem area, compared to many pieces being scattered.

I do hope the experts truly think this is the best thing to do, and it's not a case of politicians insisting that something be done because they are worried about the chance of being blamed for not doing something. Not that this Administration has any history of meddling or anything.

PopPeeper v3.1: Minor Hiccups

(Updated below -- read that first)

I've long been a fan of PopPeeper, a tiny program that lets you manage your email accounts without having to fire up your email program or surf to your various web mail account sites. You can monitor the arrival of new mail, delete unwanted messages, preview potentially worrisome messages in a sanitized fashion, and so on. As an added line of defense in keeping malware off your Windows machine, it's invaluable. If you're on a slow connection, it's quite handy -- you can postpone downloading giant messages and look at just the shorter, more time-critical, ones.

The new version just became available, and I had to fiddle with it a bit to get the connection to GMail working (again -- it worked in the previous versions). Here's what I learned, in terse form. Let me know if you want any details.

  • Make sure to enable SSL. When you're installing PopPeeper, make sure to check this option -- it's not checked by default. If you've already installed the new version and didn't check this option, it's probably easiest just to re-download and reinstall. That's what I did, and the second time around didn't wipe out my other earlier settings.

  • When you set up your GMail account, the Server Type might be set to "GMail," especially if you let the account creation wizard do its thing. Select the GMail account (in the Normal View mode), do Account -> Edit, and change the Server Type to "POP3." In the dropdown box to the right of this entry, change "No SSL" to "SSL," and make sure that the port is set to 995.

  • I don't use PopPeeper to send mail, but there may be some more fiddling to be done in this area, as well, if you want to use this functionality.

You'll also need to have set up your GMail account to enable POP3 access. Again, ask me if you want details -- either in the Comments or via email.

One other minor thing: Upon installation of the new version, I got a message saying there was a new version available: v3.1.0.3007. I was asked if I wanted to update, I clicked "yes," and I got sent to the appropriate page. However, the version served up, as of this writing, is still v3.1.0.0. PopPeeper's Help -> About shows the same notice and results in the same behavior. Presumably, this will be addressed soon enough, since v3.1 was just posted to today. I'll try to remember to make a note of it when the update really becomes available.

Keywords for Googling fellow sufferers: poppeeper gmail problems, poppeeper can't access gmail, poppeeper can't connect to gmail, poppeeper gmail error, poppeeper gmail unknown error try again later


2008-02-15 06:19

That was fast!

Turns out the problem was that GMail changed its configuration. PopPeeper's internal Message of the Day (from late yesterday, actually):

GMail (webmail) made a change and has been fixed in webmail v3.1.0.1

If you have "Auto-update Webmail plugin" checked (see Help -> About), kill PopPeeper and restart it to get the update. If not, visit this page.

This seems to fix the problem -- I can now access GMail with Server Type GMail (and Server Type POP3 with SSL still works). Good job, PopPeeper People.

Final note: the Help -> About dialog box no longer says that the latest program version is That's been changed (back) to -- only the Webmail plugin is new (

The Inconvenient Truths

Via email from Aidan: "What you don’t know can hurt us."

This might strike the better-informed as more of the same -- the Bush Administration hiding yet more data that demonstrates its utter failure at running the country. Still, Steve Benen deserves a shout-out for documenting the specifics. Be sure, also, to follow the TPM link at the end of his post.

The Irish who raised me always warned against wishing time away, but I tell you, I cannot wait for 20 Jan 2009.

Fish Bait

KK sent me a copy of "A Calumny a Day To Keep Hillary Away." Warning: Due to the number of comments, that page will take some time to load, which may make you think your browser is frozen. Just keep clicking the "stop" icon or hammering on the Escape key to stop the page from loading.

Anyway, here is my response.

Thanks for sending.

I saw this piece when it first appeared, as well as the preceding one that inspired it, and I didn't really make it through either. Stanley Fish used to raise the occasional interesting thought, but lately, he seems to me either out of touch (remember his Starbucks column?) or laboring under the misapprehension that musing without thesis or conclusion counts as thoughtful contemplation.

Upon re-reading what you sent, I guess he doesn't particularly deserve either criticism in this case. However, I still didn't much care for it.

I grant that there is no shortage of irrational hatred for Hillary Clinton, and that a non-trivial element of sexism pervades coverage of her. However, the backlash is becoming just as bad. It is nearly impossible in some circles to express my dislike for Clinton or to try to articulate why I feel this way without getting branded as a sexist or lumped in with the people who still obsess over the "murder" of Vince Foster.

Why is it okay to label Mitt Romney "robotic" or "phony," or to say that Bush's speechifying grates on my nerves, or to call Giuliani's laugh "creepy," but not okay to say any of these things about Clinton?

Why is it okay, in short, to have a negative visceral response to any other candidate, but not her?

On the intellectual side, there are certainly plenty of reasons to prefer that Clinton not be the Democratic nominee -- her bad call on the Iraq invasion and continued refusal to acknowledge the mistake, a Senate history of pandering on idiotic issues like flag burning and video games, her secretive and disastrous handling of the national health care initiative the first time around, the hints of a willingness to go cutthroat on the campaign trail, to name but a few -- but again, if I raise any of these points, the response is all too often, "You're just a Clinton-hater, and you hate her because she's a woman."

Fish's Fred MacMurray allusion worked for me a little bit. It's true: part of the reason I hope she doesn't win is my fear of rousing the rabble on the right. It struck me as legitimate for Fish to say that this attitude can be seen as giving into them. But after thinking about it for a moment, I don't really buy it. The best chance the Republicans have to win is by running against Hillary, not to mention Bill. And even if she does win, she goes into office with nearly half of the population hating her, and virtually none of those people will ever let go of that feeling. Her presence alone will obviate the possibility of working together on problems that demand at least a little bit of unity, like Iraq, health care, an irresponsible tax structure, and global warming. If you thought Congressional Republicans' loyalty to every cockamamie Bush proposal seemed lockstep beyond any glimmer of reason, you ain't seen nothing yet.

If she wins the nomination, will I vote for her? Of course. If she wins the general, will I support her? Yes -- if a knife fight is the only game in town, I won't retreat to the sidelines. But I'd really like to try a different approach. Maintaining an attitude of us-vs-them over the past sixteen years has led to nothing but an inflation of the power of the radical right and endless delays in addressing our real problems. This is a good time to prefer a fresh face, to drop the cynical response to a call to work together, and to take a chance on hope.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Heartfelt Reminder

You know what tomorrow is. You might get e-greeting cards in the next day or two. Don't open them, even if you think you know who sent them. If you open one inadvertently, don't click any links in it.

More here and here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

"There's where the birds warble sweet in the springwinter-time."

Two interesting things to notice about the Virginia results:

1. With 95% of the votes counted, Obama's total beats Clinton's plus McCain's.

2. Look at the geographic correlation between counties voting for Clinton and counties voting for Huckabee (apologies to the color-blind readers):

VA counties/primary results/NYTimes

(click pic to enlarge)

The data and images are from the NYT -- go have a look -- their original map has nice rollover features.

The results for Maryland and D.C. are still coming in, but everybody appears to have called both of these races for Obama, too.

Obamamentum. Yes we can.

More Sexist Attacks On Hillary Sen. Clinton!!!

Whose head will roll for this one?

From Time's "The Page" blog as of about 7:53 PM EST (emph. added), here's a partial screen capture:

oops - no N

(click pic to enlarge)

Pardon my juvenile humor, but I've about had it with the oversensitivity; e.g. …

PTuesday Reminder

Not only is it Potomac Tuesday, it's Patch Tuesday. If you use a Windows machine and don't have Automatic Updates turned on, fire up Internet Explorer and visit this page. Potentially lots of patches, depending on your version of Windows and what Office software you have installed. If you're keeping score at home, six were applicable to me, and everything went smoothly.

This is a good post, if you want to read about the details. NB: If you use Excel, I definitely recommend you have a look. Microsoft elected to leave a known hole unpatched, saying the fix wasn't brought up to snuff by the deadline.

Maybe somebody had ptomaine poisoning?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

(He said sarcastically.)

The headline:

Army Buried Study Faulting Iraq Planning

The story.

(h/t: John Cole)

You Can Tell a Leopard By Its Patches

Apple has just made available eleven patches to close up some security holes in OS X 10.5 (Leopard). Some of them also pertain to OS X 10.4 (Tiger). Running Software Update should take care of you. Details here, if you want 'em.

(h/t: Larry Dignan & George Ou, whose definition of "ten" differs from mine)

Yes We Can John He Is

Via MoveOn:

More info on the associated YouTube page.

Maine-lining Happiness, But ...

Congrats to Obama! And thanks to all those tough Yankees who waited outside yesterday to vote. A great weekend for the good guys.

Cold slaps of reality, though: the SecDef floats the trial balloon of stalling on the planned withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Less headline-grabbing but even more alarming: Bush's budget calls for de-funding the position of ombudsman for FOIA matters.

I guess it makes sense, though. The savings on the latter will pay for the former, and it's not like this Administration has anything to hide, right?

Saturday, February 09, 2008

More Good News

Mister Leonard Pierce has delivered the final installments of his CPAC coverage. See the bottom of this post for links.

Oh, and Obama went 3 for 3 today: Louisiana comfortably, and Nebraska and Washington (state), both by better than 2:1. Not hugely unexpected (although the margins surprised me a little), but quite pleasant nonetheless.

They Didn't Laugh When He Sat Down At The Keyboard

(Updated: footnote added)

One of the recurring dilemmas that keeps me awake at nights is imagining what I would do if invited to the Bush White House.

Now, this is never going to happen, of course. It is a measure of the ridiculousness of my mind that I would think of such a thing once, let alone fret about it repeatedly.* On the other hand, it's important to keep in mind one word, and as the second-dumbest person ever to set foot in the White House once said, "that one word is 'to be prepared'."

Fortunately, I now have some excellent guidelines for how to act, courtesy of Leon Fleisher. All kidding aside, this is an excellent essay.

(h/t: Roger Ailes)

* Evidently, I am not the only one suffering from this condition.


Via email (thanks, Anne Marie!):

The Pope took a couple of days off to visit the mountains of Alaska for some sight-seeing. He was cruising along the campground in the Popemobile when there was a frantic commotion just at the edge of the woods.

A helpless Democrat, wearing sandals, shorts, a "Save the Whales" hat, and a "To Hell with Bush" T-shirt, was screaming while struggling frantically, thrashing around trying to free himself from the grasp of a 10 foot grizzly bear.

As the Pope watched horrified, a group of Republican loggers came racing up.

One quickly fired a .44 magnum into the bear's chest. The other two reached up and pulled the bleeding, semiconscious Democrat from the bear's grasp, and then, using long clubs, the three loggers finished off the bear and two of them threw it onto the bed of their truck while the third tenderly placed the injured Democrat in the back seat.

As they prepared to leave, the Pope summoned them to come over. "I give you my blessing for your brave actions!" he told them. "I had heard that there was a bitter hatred between Republican loggers and Democratic Environmental Activists, but now I've seen with my own eyes that this is not true."

As the Pope drove off, one of the loggers asked his buddies "Who was that guy?"

"It was the Pope," another replied. "He's in direct contact with heaven and has access to all wisdom."

"Well," the logger said, "he may have access to all wisdom but he sure don't know anything about bear hunting! Is the bait holding up, or do we need to go back to Massachusetts and get another one?"

MLP Update (Ch. 11 now available)

Mister Leonard Pierce's coverage of CPAC continues. See the bottom of this post for links.

This latest report covers Ann Coulter's speech.

Friday, February 08, 2008

MLP Update (Chs. 7-10 now available)

Mister Leonard Pierce's coverage of CPAC continues. See the bottom of this post for links.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Still More Security News: Firefox and MS Heads-Up

Firefox just offered me the latest patch, which I accepted. Quick and painless. If you don't get the same offer, try pulling down the Help menu and clicking "Check for Updates." Bug details here, if you want them.

What's that? Still haven't gotten Firefox? Go here now.

Also, word 'round the campfire is that this coming Patch Tuesday will be a big one. If you don't have Windows Update turned on, remember to check in manually.

Or the terrorists win.

More On Mitt

TBogg's take:

Shorter Mitt Romney withdrawal speech:

Our country, our world, our culture, our existence face enormous threats. I quit.

Let's Get Scared

Joel Achenbach preys on my liberal paranoia:

Scalia to Determine Democratic Nominee

I gotta admit, he makes it sound plausible.

More CPAC Love

Video from Veracifier -- Mitt's quit and Dr. Laura dissing St. John:

To be fair about it, Veracifier has played with the time sequence: Dr. Laura was introducing Mitt's speech, but she appears second in Veracifier's report. But that just makes it more delicious.

And let's not forget who taught us all about quoting out of context for purposes of political gain, right?

So, what else is happening at CPAC?

(Updated several times: added chapters)

(Updated later: typo fix)

Besides the cutting and running, I mean?

Mister Leonard Pierce describes [Ch. 6] the reception McCain received during his big speech:

He goes on to say the word “conservative” about eleventy seven billion more times, but honestly, he goes over like a lead balloon encased in a lead safe that has been thrown out of a lead airplane while someone plays Led Zepplein III.

MLP has been filing detailed coverage of the big Conservative Political Action Committee 2008 whoopdeedoo [Ch. 3] …

Here’s a description of Hell they never give you: a huge room full of all the people you hate most, and they’re all having a wonderful time.

... and it is great stuff. So far available:

Security Updates: QuickTime

If you're running OS X Leopard, Tiger, or Panther, or Windows Vista or XP SP2, go get the latest version of QuickTime: version 7.4.1. This patch fixes a security hole which could allow a malicious web site to do, um, malicious things, it sez here.

Mac users can also get the patch via Software Update. I don't know about Windows boxes -- Apple no longer issues QT updates for Win2K.

Willard Won't

Willard "Mitt" Romney, Tuesday:

We're going to keep on battling. We're going to go all the way to the convention, we're going to win this thing, and we're going to get in to the White House.

Willard "Mitt" Romney, Thursday:

... I feel I have to now stand aside ...

A flip-flopper to the very end. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Security Updates: Adobe Reader, iPhoto, Internet Explorer/Social Networks

If you use Adobe Reader to view PDF files, go get the latest version (8.1.2). This version includes many bug fixes and patches for several security holes. If you use iPhoto (Mac people only), make sure to run Software Update to get the latest version -- there's a security hole that needs fixing. Brian Krebs has the details.

Larry Dignan says that Adobe Reader should be prompting you to update when you run it. I can't say for sure -- I uninstalled Adobe Reader long ago.


If you use Adobe Reader, I do have to ask why. I run FoxIt. It's much smaller to download and way faster to start up. It renders every PDF file I've ever looked at without a glitch.

One hiccup: if you like clicking on PDF links while surfing, and reading the files right in your browser, FoxIt doesn't do this very well. For that purpose, I recommend the Firefox add-on somewhat confusingly called PDF Download. It does do downloads, if you want, but it does a lot more. Click on a PDF link and the add-on will pop up a window offering various ways to handle the file. The feature I usually use is "convert to HTML." This option converts the PDF file on the fly, right in your browser. It doesn't always work perfectly, but it usually does a good enough job for reading text and seeing most graphics. If the result is unsatisfactory, you can always download the file and use FoxIt to look at it. These two bits of free software are much better than Adobe Reader, IMNSHO.

If you use Internet Explorer, I really have to ask why. Just don't. Get Firefox. Or any other browser. Reserve IE exclusively for doing Windows Updates.


Where was I? Oh, yeah. There have been a number of security holes published lately that describe how to make life miserable for people who use IE to upload photos to Facebook, MySpace, and other social networking sites, as well as those who use Yahoo! Jukebox. Microsoft has not yet issued a patch to address this problem, but Krebs has details and info on a workaround for those who insist on using IE. More gory details (slightly older) here and here on the TrendLabs Malware Blog.


What is Salon saying here? That Mike Huckabee serves as his own caricature?

candidate caricatures

(click pic to enlarge)

Mid-Winter Slump: Fun at a Phase Transition Boundary

Sometimes the phrase "snow mixed with rain" can mean something beautiful. I failed to capture completely what my eyes could see -- Kyklops I'm not -- but have a look, anyway.

(Click pics to enlarge.)

snow slump

snow slump

A little earlier this morning, I tried taking the same picture. I was surprised when the flash went off (must be looking on the bright side at the moment). Amazing off-axis reflectivity:

snow slump

snow slump

Can't help but think of that old Richard Pryor line about being "a license-plate-making motherfucker."

By the way ... For all you Internet stalkers: that's not my license plate. That's not even my car. I don't even live in New York.

Delegate Notes

The NYT has a short handy article explaining some aspects of the delegates process. If you want to know numbers and what is meant by "super delegates," check it out.

Short version: The Reps will have 2380 delegates, meaning a candidate needs 1191 to win. As of this moment, McCain is about halfway there, with a big lead.

The Dems will have a total of 4049 delegates, meaning Obama a candidate needs 2025 to win. Right now, Clinton is slightly ahead, but not even close to halfway to the magic number.

No two news organizations count the running totals of committed delegates the same way, although there's less variance for the Republican counts.

Dems only: Of their 4049 delegates, 796 are "unpledged" or "super" delegates -- they aren't bound by any state's popular vote and don't have to say how they'll vote until the convention. Super delegates "include all of the members of the Democratic National Committee and elected officials such as members of Congress and governors."

Some states, like Florida and Michigan, have (ostensibly) been penalized by the respective parties for holding their primaries too early. Depending on how this plays out, the delegate counts could change.

Gonna be some serious dealing in the proverbial smoke-filled rooms, I'd imagine. Given the change in social mores, I wonder what they'll use in lieu of tobacco.

Looking Ahead

Here are the next primaries, through March, courtesy of Project Vote Smart:

09 Feb Guam (R only)
Kansas (R only)
Nebraska (D only)
Virgin Islands (D only)
Washington (D only)
10 Feb Maine (D only)
12 Feb District of Columbia
19 Feb Hawaii (D only)
Washington (R only)
23 Feb American Samoa (R only)
Virgin Islands (R only)
24 Feb Puerto Rico (R only)
04 Mar Ohio
Rhode Island
08 Mar Wyoming (D only)
11 Mar Mississippi

What shall we call March 4th? Superette Tuesday?

Early Morning Numbers

I ran out of gas before the late results came in last night. I'm just waking up now. (Come on, coffee.)

One thing I've noticed from a quick look at the data: Where Obama won, he often won big: +25 in North Dakota, +31 in Illinois, +35 in Georgia, +48 in Kansas, +49 in Alaska, and +62 in Idaho. By contrast, Clinton only won two states with a cushion of more than 20: +24 in Oklahoma and +42 in Arkansas.

Obama won fourteen states yesterday, Clinton won eight. Clinton did get the big ones: New York (+17), New Jersey (+10), and California (also +10). (Open question: how much did early voting by mail hurt Obama in California?) It's too soon to say much about the delegate count, given the various proportional allotment schemes for the Democratic primaries, but it appears that Clinton has a slight edge at the moment. [Update: The Boston Globe has the current delegate count at 582 to 562, Clinton. This is an entertaining page -- note, for example, how many people were on the ballots in Arizona.]

Another plus for Obama: convincing wins in Georgia, Alabama (O! 'Bama!), and South Carolina (earlier, on 26 Jan) tells me that he doesn't have to worry about "balancing" the ticket with a Southern running mate. Which reminds me: I heard some interesting speculation yesterday from Daniel Drezner: what about Gov. Janet Napolitano of Arizona or Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas as a running mate for Obama? My take: Either one brings geographic diversity, some conservative cred to attract the undecideds, and could diffuse feminist resentment that might linger from a Clinton defeat. Okay, we're getting ahead of ourselves here.

First surprise from a quick look at the GOP results: Romney carried seven states yesterday: Alaska, Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and Utah. (He just squeaked out that last one, with a margin of +84. Wonder why.) That's better than I expected. Add in five states for Huckabee (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, and West Virginia), and maybe it's not over yet for the Republicans. However, McCain did win nine states, including the biggies California, New York, and New Jersey. Adding to that the fact that most of the states are winner-take-all for the Republican primaries, it's probably not as close as a count of states won suggests. But at least neither Huckabee nor Romney seems likely to drop out yet. [Update 2: The same Globe page has the delegate count as 511-176-147, McCain-Romney-Huckabee.]

I note that Romney won Colorado by a margin of +40. Interesting. Wonder how much of that is due to the Mormon vote (Colorado is next door to Utah, remember). Or is it a Midwestern thing against McCain? McCain squeaked out wins in Missouri (+1) and Oklahoma (+3); Romney won handily in Utah and Colorado, as already noted, as well as North Dakota (+13), Montana (+14), and Minnesota (+22). McCain did win Illinois by a lot (+19), but the county-by-county returns show that he did best in the areas near the big cities. Maybe it's a rural thing?

Another piece of evidence to support this last guess: McCain didn't make the top three in Alaska (Romney: 44%, Huckabee: 22%, Paul: 17%). For a delightful in-depth analysis by a resident of this state, see d's post. Here's how it starts:

The Only Caucus that Ever Mattered

In response to the least-asked question of the primary season -- "So what the hell is happening in Alaska?" -- the answer is clear.

People in Alaska are still rug-chomping crazy.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Another Shot of Wackiness

Yesterday was Superbowl Sunday, so Pa Baldwin and I spent the afternoon as so many fathers and sons do around the nation: gathered in front of the big screen TV, drinking beer, and thrilling to the emotional rollercoaster that is Sophie's Choice.
-- Matthew Baldwin

First Whacked Result

Joel already noted Huckabee's win in West Virginia. That's not so weird. Here's the weird part: According to the NYT, McCain got 1% of the vote.

One percent?!?

Ah, smell that? That's Republican unity, baby!

Pins and Needles: Temporary Relief


Super Tuesday Map In The Brain

3: p.m.

Here in DC, just about every conversation begins with a single word:


In about an hour that will change, to "Heard any exits?"

You're required to have a prognostication of some kind, or else face immediate social exile and/or public stoning. You can't just say, "We'll see what the voters decide," as that's the moral equivalent of giving up. If you can't speculate recklessly, THEY WIN.

A good all-purpose response is, "Don't overlook the Ron Paul factor." You can also impress with a highly specific, but incomprehensible answer, such as, "I'm struck by how well Romney's doing in California's 48th congressional."

There is, however, a data point that we can examine at this hour. It's the result from West Virginia, and it is portentous. According to the website of the West Virginia Republican Convention, "Because West Virginia will know its results by midday, it gives West Virginia an enormous impact on the presidential race in 2008. "

The result: Huckaboom 2.

Yes, Mike Huckabee is back, and with his West Virginia momentum he's unstoppable. He hadn't won so much as a game of Minesweeper since the Jan. 3 Iowa Caucuses, but today he edged out Mitt Romney, and won the entire slate of 18 delegates, at some sort of convention in Charleston. The West Virginians picked Huckabee even though Romney left Long Beach after midnight and flew all through the wee hours of the morning in order to speak to them at breakfast time. Romney shoulda stayed wheels-down in Long Beach.

The rest.

We're All Hoping, But ...

... a curious layout choice, don't you think?

(click pic to enlarge)

Monday, February 04, 2008

Price Cut!

Wonder how long this link will last?

It takes a madman to find something like this. (I mean that in a good way, Scott.)

Screen shot, just in case.

Yes We Can. Sing It!

Lots more to see on the original video page.

Here's the original version of the speech, if you missed it. The good part starts at about ten minutes in:

Related: a reaction to the (music) video from a regular old commenter who goes by the handle "williamyard:" Great find, Instaputz.

At the risk of beating this one to death ...

Today is almost as cool as those other days.

For one minute this afternoon, it will be: 02/04/08 16:32.

(Our friends across the pond will once again have to wait for April to be able to say this, of course.)

Your Moment of Cute

To wash away the bad taste of the previous post, this might be just the ticket: a video of a polar bear cub and his first encounter with a mirror.

Warning: An annoyingly loud 15-second commercial starts things off. Be sure to turn the sound back up afterwards -- the little grunts, snuffles, and squeaks could melt even Dick Cheney's heart.

If he had one, I mean.

Mamas, make sure your daughters see this one

Here's the short version: Somehow, the proprietors of got hold of one of the "before" pictures of the Redbook cover shot of Faith Hill. They put it together with the actual cover, in an animated GIF that cycles back and forth between the two images. Their brilliant title? Photoshop of Horrors.

I'm sure I'm not telling you anything new by noting that magazines retouch their cover photos, but this is a great illustration of fashion fascists and their twisted beliefs about female beauty. The changes to Faith's eyes and mouth erase her humanity, and the changes to her arm are flat-out disgusting. Be sure to follow the "update" links below the picture, as well. The "numerically-annotated" sidebar is a marvel of righteous satire.

The one good thing about this: The longer you watch the image toggling, the more appealing you find the "before" picture. I believe I speak for all straight men on this one.

What's that? Women have other things on their minds besides making themselves attractive to me? Ah, g'wan.

Nice work, Jezebel.

Three More Reasons

1. Rosa Brooks Endorses Obama: Okay, this is not news if you read her regularly, or if you watch her on But her column from a few days ago is a good read. In particular, she does a really nice job debunking the "experience" question.

2. Scott Rosenberg Endorses Obama: Hey, co-founder of Salon and one of the very few people to provoke me into attempting a book review. How much more cred do you want?

3. The Dead Reunite for Obama: No word on whether Jerry will make it, but don't forget what Rosa said in this short clip. (h/t: Tim Dickinson)

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Climb Aboard!

I endorse Obama I just joined my first Facebook group. Hard to think of a better cause. If you'd like to join, too, click here.

This is an effort put together by, who recently held a straw poll among its registered members. They said that they would endorse a candidate if one received at least two-thirds of the vote. Barack Obama got 70% of the vote.

Yes We Can!

Here's an email I sent to some of my friends. In case you weren't on the list, or your spam filter ate it because it had too many people on the TO list, here it is again:

Hi, everybody,

In case you missed my recent blog posting to this effect, I'm writing to ask you to support Barack Obama for President.

This is the first time in a long time that I've ever wanted to vote *for* somebody, as opposed to voting for the lesser of two weevils.

Maybe I'm caught up in the hype and the hope. If so, so be it, but I really don't think that's the whole story. I've been following this race closely for a long time now, even though I swore "never again" after 2004. I don't agree with him on every last detail of every last issue, but overall, he's far and away the best choice.

I believe Obama when I hear him speak, and I believe he'll be good for the country.

Many of you live in a state that will hold its primary this Tuesday. Please vote for Obama.



Once Again, The Irish Are Saving Civilization

A truly happy story. Excerpt:

In 2002, Ireland passed a tax on plastic bags; customers who want them must now pay 33 cents per bag at the register. There was an advertising awareness campaign. And then something happened that was bigger than the sum of these parts.

Within weeks, plastic bag use dropped 94 percent.

Hard to believe this story took six years to cross the pond. It's even harder to believe we can't have such a policy in this country. Who knew the plastic bag manufacturing lobby had so much clout?

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Really, Just Say No

What's worse than having Microsoft offer to buy your company?

How about being Hillary Clinton, and having Ann Coulter say she'll campaign for you? True story.

This part will come as no surprise: I came across the Coulter bit by following a "related" link under a fine post by John Ridley, in which he observes, among other things, "[C]onservative talk has devolved into self parody."

Friday, February 01, 2008

Move Over, Jumbo Shrimp

A new species has been discovered, and it's "a type of giant elephant shrew."

a new elephant shrew

Okay, okay, elephant shrews are no longer believed to be shrews. But they are related to elephants. But they are pretty small. But saying "new elephant shrew" is kind of fun. And who ever thought it was necessary to say "giant elephant shrew," anyway?

The page whence I swiped this image has a short video of the animal, and it really does remind you of an elephant when you watch it move.

Just Say No

The headline:

Microsoft Bids $44.6 Billion for Yahoo

Unless Yahoo thinks they're going to die anyway, this would be the worst thing they could do.