Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Must be because we're a Center-Right Nation™

Missed this in all the Thanksgiving excitement last week:

Fox News Refuses To Run Ad In Favor Of Ending DADT, Despite Public Support For Repeal

And by public support, we mean a lopsided majority the likes of which you almost never see in this country, where a 60-40 vote is called a landslide. The overwhelming majority -- 70-plus percent at least -- of the country, and the same overwhelming majority of the armed forces personnel, either favor letting gays and lesbians serve or think it makes no difference. The brass is down with it: that study that got leaked two weeks ago is officially out no pun intended, and even a maximally hedging headline from the MSM puts it this way:

Pentagon study finds few drawbacks to dropping 'don't ask, don't tell'

Flying H. Spaghetti Monster, just repeal this stupid policy and be done with it, right? Isn't that what we're all thinking? But no. The Republicans don't want to be Handing Obama A Victory, and so of course FoxNews will keep marching in lockstep, committed to the same petty end, and civil rights, military readiness, and taking care of the rest of the problems facing the country? Blow it all to hell, as far as Fox and the GOP care. They got an election to win, and there's still that base to stroke. Gotta raise those campaign funds, and nothing sells to the mouth-breathers like fear and hate, amirite?

They Just Never Stop With The Dog Whistles, Do They?

That fucking Steve King.

Not to mention Bachmann and Breitbart. An unholy trinity if there ever was one.

Bloglines Update: "Here to stay"

I mentioned before that it looked like the online feed-reader service Bloglines was going to shut down. Apparently, an outfit called MerchantCircle.com has taken over the service from Ask.com, and they pledge to keep it going.

According to a blog post on their site, there will be somewhat of a transition process, "[b]eginning around December 1st, when you log in to your Bloglines account …" They say they this will be an "almost-automatic migration process." And?

And no, it won't be IDENTICAL to the old Bloglines experience. We are going to provide better, more stable reader technology, with a wider range of user features, but some minimally used features in need of expensive updates didn't make the cut. Instead, we've included some helpful new resources that you didn't have before; and we'll continue to incorporate as many features as possible.

Since MerchantCircle.com describes itself as "the largest online network of local business owners, combining social networking features with free marketing tools to connect local business owners with their communities," I dread can only imagine what the "helpful new resources" might be, but maybe I won't surrender to cynicism completely, and will at least give them a chance. Ping me if I haven't reported on it by early next month, if you care to know what my impressions are.

For the moment, things look the way they used to, except for an announcement message when you first log in. You might want to visit Bloglines before 1 December and download a list of your feeds, just to be safe, if you haven't already. (It's easy, and more details are in an earlier post, if you want them.)

You might also find it useful to track @bloglines on the Twitter.

(h/t: KK, via email)

Where Julian Assange is coming from, maybe

If you're interested in the guy in charge of Wikileaks, I'd recommend these three things: an analysis by zunguzungu of some of Assange's earlier writing, a long interview of Assange conducted on 11 Nov 2010 by Forbes's Andy Greenberg, and the accompanying Forbes cover story, also by Greenberg.

I've excerpted and commented a bit on these and my sense of Assange more generally in the Bloggingheads forums. If that notion doesn't send you fleeing or induce narcolepsy, start here, here, and here. The short version is: I find zunguzungu's analysis interesting though not conclusive, since I think Assange has evolved since then. I also find myself in strong agreement with quite a bit of what Assange had to say to Greenberg.

(h/t: @mattyglesias for retweeting @willwilkinson's link to zunguzungu, and h/t to zz for the link to the interview)

A sign of the times? Or should I be honest and just say "phew?"

According to Science, y'all:

Headline: Narcissism No Longer a Psychiatric Disorder

Let us now celebrate the edginess of Time magazine, four years ahead of the DSM.

[Added] Headline in related story is pretty good, too.

[Update] Stop the presses.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Some perspectives on the latest Wikileaks-induced hysteria

John Cole notes an added irony of the furor over this latest disclosure: "I have a hard time getting worked up about it - a government that views none of my personal correspondence as confidential really can’t bitch when this sort of thing happens." Note how quickly the "if-you've-done-nothing-wrong-then-you-have-nothing-to-hide" mentality disappears when it's their privacy and communications being invaded rather than yours.

I'd note an added irony: many of the same people who supported the invasion of Iraq and/or who support the war in Afghanistan, drone strikes and assassination programs -- on the ground that the massive civilians deaths which result are justifiable "collateral damage" -- are those objecting most vehemently to WikiLeaks' disclosure on the ground that it may lead to the death of innocent people. For them, the moral framework suddenly becomes that if an act causes the deaths of any innocent person, that is proof that it is not only unjustifiable but morally repellent regardless of what it achieves. How glaringly selective is their alleged belief in that moral framework.

The above from Glennzilla's latest post.

Also from him, via his Twitter feed:

John Kampfner | The Independent: "Wikileaks shows up our media for their docility at the feet of authority"

Nancy A. Youssef | McClatchy Newspapers: "Officials may be overstating the danger from WikiLeaks"

Simon Jenkins | The Guardian: "US embassy cables: The job of the media is not to protect the powerful from embarrassment/It is for governments – not journalists – to guard public secrets, and there is no national jeopardy in WikiLeaks' revelations"


Sunday, November 28, 2010

No, sorry. Turns out Peggy Noonan is not actually looking to hire anyone for her staff.

Still, I think everyone should call up the WSJ's opinion section and ask where to send a resumé anyway.

Peggy Noonan op-ed headline: 'The Special Assistant for Reality'

Wikileaks -- Diplomatic cables

Currently dominating the front page of nytimes.com:

Cables Obtained by WikiLeaks Shine Light Into Secret Diplomatic Channels

WASHINGTON — A cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables, most of them from the past three years, provides an unprecedented look at backroom bargaining by embassies around the world, brutally candid views of foreign leaders and frank assessments of nuclear and terrorist threats.

Some of the cables, made available to The New York Times and several other news organizations, were written as recently as late February, revealing the Obama administration’s exchanges over crises and conflicts. The material was originally obtained by WikiLeaks, an organization devoted to revealing secret documents. WikiLeaks intends to make the archive public on its Web site in batches, beginning Sunday.

The anticipated disclosure of the cables is already sending shudders through the diplomatic establishment, and could conceivably strain relations with some countries, influencing international affairs in ways that are impossible to predict.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and American ambassadors around the world have been contacting foreign officials in recent days to alert them to the expected disclosures. A statement from the White House on Sunday said: “We condemn in the strongest terms the unauthorized disclosure of classified documents and sensitive national security information.”


The cables, a huge sampling of the daily traffic between the State Department and some 270 embassies and consulates, amount to a secret chronicle of the United States’ relations with the world in an age of war and terrorism. Among their revelations, to be detailed in The Times in coming days:

Read the rest.

Note in the sidebar:

State's Secrets

Day 1 of 9

It looks like this might be the NYT's index page for the series.

As you might imagine, wikileaks dot org is swamped by traffic right now.

Or 4chan has been hired by the striped pants brigade to run a DDoS attack. One of those two. [Update: Oops. Might have made a joke in poor taste there. Wikileaks claimed they were under DDoS attack five hours ago.]


[Added] Here's a place to start for the Guardian's coverage: "US embassy cables leak sparks global diplomatic crisis."

[Added2: Guardian liveblog here. (h/t: @PoliticallyBrit)]

@wikileaks and others are using the hashtag #cablegate, because originality is dead, or for some other reason. (Reporterbaitgate?)


Christopher Hitchens Debates Tony Blair

The official starting point: "Be it resolved, religion is a force of good for the world." Spoiler alert: Blair argues the pro side.

This was one of a series of Munk Debates. It was held in Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto, Canada, on 26 November 2010, in front of an audience of about 2700 people. Apparently, scalpers had a field day.

Assuming the Munk people do not force YouTube to take them down, here are links to the nine segments of the debate: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9. The links will open in new tabs (or windows, depending on your browser).

The first eight segments are each about fourteen minutes long and the ninth is about seven minutes long. Total running time is thus about 23 ten-millionths of a century, which proves that two hours is effectively instantaneous.

I have also embedded these nine video segments below the fold, if you'd prefer that.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Yeah, but ain't that America

I feel your pain, Phil Plait:

I’d love to see a Feynman quarter, or an Einstein dollar coin. If something like inspired a kid to look at it and think, I wonder who that is and why they’re on a coin, then it would be worth it.

Lobbying While The World Burns

“In early 2009,” writes Bill McKibben in a soon-to-be-published new book, “just as Obama was getting set to unveil his energy plans, word came that 2,340 lobbyists had registered to work on climate change on Capitol Hill (that’s about six per congressman), 85 percent of them devoted to slowing down progress.” By early 2010, you can see the results of such efforts, multiplied many times over by the staggering levels of support available for anti-climate-change work from the richest industry on the planet: the energy business. All this was not helped, of course, by the much hyped “climate-gate” which proved that climate-change scientists were fallible human beings and not simply extraterrestrial super-brains. These “scandals” were, in turn, blown up to proportions that seemed to blot out the very image of the disappearing Arctic icepack.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, the latest poll on the American public’s attitude toward climate change shows startling drops in the belief in the very existence of climate change, in humanity's role in causing it, and in its import for the planet: a 14-point drop since October 2008 in Americans who believe climate change is happening at all (to 57%), a 10-point drop in those who believe that human activity is at the root of the problem (to 47%), and a 13-point drop in those who claim to be “somewhat” or “very” worried about the problem (to 50%).

The above is from the introduction to a piece by Bill McKibben titled "The Attack on Climate-Change Science: Why It’s the O.J. Moment of the Twenty-First Century." I got there from Juan Cole's "Advice to Climate Scientists on how to Avoid being Swift-boated and how to become Public Intellectuals. Both are well worth reading.

(h/t: El Niño via Cosma Shalizi)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Seasonally Inappropriate Music

Happy facing out massively day!

(alt. video link)

Th' fuck made him think of that tune?
Trust me, you're better off not knowing.
Oh, whatever. Lay it on me.
Well, erm, it all starts with von Mises stresses … 
You were right.

Still, sad that some things never made it to the Internet, isn't it?
Agreed. Steven (Stephen?) comics ruled. But … 
Yeah. Providence, Rhode Island. In the '80s.
Yup. Not yet out enough to be in. Or something?

But! Maybe it's just about time! Palin/Cianci 2012!
Nah. Christie totally has that demographic locked up.
Yeah. Okay. But maybe we can be the first ones on the Internet to (re)type
the sensitive trees of Norway, glistening, glistening … 

Dude, you can't put song lyrics in italics if you want people to be able to imagine there's more than one person talking here.
Good point. Sorry.

What? You want more family music? Happy to oblige. Let's march.

(alt. video link)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Very Serious Person Is Mad That President Obama Isn't Unserious Enough

I guess we have a new leading contender to take over the Ann Althouse Chair of Never Mind What The Video Shows I Will Make Up My Own Subtext. Let us hope that Susan Milligan spends the next year known only for this.

Googlebombers are go!

(pic. source)

Hey, Lewis D'Vorkin: ScienceBlogs and Pepsi. Google That.

Lewis D'Vorkin BlingeeOh, of course he won't. I'd guess he knows. And doesn't care.

Following up on an earlier post, just because it's good to help get these things out there to remind people that there are (gasp) other forms of bias in the media besides Librul:

But with questions about the real value of its aggressive traffic growth and with its investors unhappy about the site’s financial returns, Forbes.com is radically reinventing itself.

Last week, the site ran its first ad under AdVoice, a new program that lets advertisers run their own blogs that appear alongside Forbes’ regular editorial contributors. SAP was the first to take up Forbes on the offer.

Emph. added. (Also: "last week" is now actually about three weeks ago.)

And ask yourself when the last time was you heard something this shameless.

As Dvorkin has explained it, the approach recognizes consumers’ desire to be on an equal footing with journalists and marketers’ demand to reach consumers more effectively.

Oh, and about those Forbes journalists:

Meanwhile, editors have been pressured to increasingly rely on nonpaid contributors for the Web, with the goal, as one former editor put it, “of not paying anything for content.”

Michael Learmonth of AdAge.com reminds us further aspects that might not immediately come to mind:

Marketers will try AdVoice, although they'll have to consider whether to invest in hiring bloggers, retraining PR staff or, well, just outsourcing it to Forbes to make it effective, said Chris Perry, CEO of digital at PR giant Weber Shandwick.


Then there's the question of how Forbes AdVoice posts appear in search. While brand websites tend to appear prominently in natural search results, their ads don't. Forbes is nothing if not expert at optimizing content for search, and now advertising or corporate blog posts could benefit from that. Think press releases with as many links and Google juice as a Forbes article. Mr. Gentzel said the labeling for the posts would extend to search.

(Mr. Gentzel is Forbes's Chief Revenue Officer Kevin Gentzel.)

Let's hear from himself again:

"For the last however many decades of traditional media, you're a reader so your stuff can only go here," Mr. DVorkin said, starting to get animated. "You're an advertiser so stuff can only go here. And our stuff? It goes right here. But there's a flow of content that's contextual. Anything can appear in any place as long as it's contextual -- that's the web and we are bringing that sensibility to the magazine."

So, when the above bad goes to even worse, say, when one of those unpaid bloggers is approached by one of the "equal footing" "content" providers and offered a little consideration in return for a little consideration, if you know what I mean and I think you do, who will call attention to that? An ombudsman? Who also just happens to work for the PR division of SAP?

In conclusion, Lewis D'Vorkin continues to bolster his reputation as a truly slanted capitalist tool.

(h/t: a D'Vorkin watcher, via email)


A short while ago, I called attention elsewhere to "[a] post with some good links and righteous commentary," as a way of augmenting my previous complaints about the immorality of Lyin' Jon Kyl and how idiotically the MSM has been covering this story of Republican obstructionism. Probably should have cross-posted them here, but let's just pick it up from this related note, also cross-posted:

On a related note, how many people, even considering only those who have been paying some attention to this story, knew about this aspect of the Republican Party's wish to Keep America Safe (From Anything That Could Be Seen As A Success By The Obama Administration) by refusing to sign the treaty?

Let's start with START, the proposed nuclear pact with Russia that Senate Republicans such as Jon Kyl (Ariz.) are attempting to derail, at least until the next Congress. Since the expiration of the previous START treaty last December, there have been no U.S. inspectors in Russia to keep an eye on the country's thousands of nuclear warheads. If the Senate doesn't come up with the 67 votes needed for ratification, says Travis Sharp of the Center for a New American Security, there's a risk Russia will retaliate by removing its logistical support for the U.S. war in Afghanistan, abandoning its cooperation in preventing nuclear proliferation, and thwarting U.S. efforts to keep Iran from gaining nuclear weapons.

But don't take his word for it. Listen to Richard Lugar, top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations committee and one man who still puts the national interest above political considerations. "We're talking today about the national security of the United States of America," he pleaded on Wednesday. "[T]his treaty must be ratified and be ratified in this session of the Congress.... We're talking about thousands of warheads that are still there, an existential problem for our country. To temporize at this point I think is inexcusable."

Or listen to Bob Gates, the Bush/Obama defense secretary. "The new START treaty has the unanimous support of America's military leadership," he wrote in the Wall Street Journal, calling for a strong bipartisan majority to support the treaty because of "the security it provides to the American people."

To borrow Bush's phrase, are Republicans not interested in the security of the American people?

(source | via)

Making Sense

Can't we just appoint Ta-Nehisi Coates and Chris Rock to be the Twin Czars of Propriety on Race-Related Matters and be done with it?

Damn Straight

Justin Elliot takes the NYT, the LAT, the AP, the WaPoo, the Boston Globe, and CNN (and by implication, among others) to task for shameless stenography:

Now, there are legitimate uses for anonymity in journalism. But it's hard to see how granting an administration official anonymity to advance an entirely self-serving argument -- thus removing the risk that the official can be challenged on what he or she said in the present or later on -- serves any defensible purpose.

And what self-serving argument are we talking about? The first label for this blog post may give you a hint.

[Added] Related: Fallows, "More on 'Destroy the Town'."

The Hack 30

Pareene is just about through counting down "Our definitive list of the worst pundits in America."

Because I are a full-service blog, I will now give you links to each of the entries.

30. David Brooks The milquetoast New York Times conservative never has anything to say

29. Matt Bai The political reporter who doesn't believe in political science

28. Andrew Malcolm The Drudge-baiting conservative L.A. Times news blogger

27. Pat Caddell The pollster and ultimate Fox Democrat

26. Jeffrey Goldberg His inaccurate Iraq stories helped pave the way for war

25. Mickey Kaus The longtime blogger pioneered pointless contrarianism

24. Dana Milbank The Washington Post columnist combines horrible puns with cheerful sexism

23. Howard Kurtz The longtime media reporter and walking conflict of interest

22. Tucker Carlson The former cable pundit has a history of thin-skinned hypocrisy

21. S.E. Cupp This young pundit would like you to know that liberals are sissies and she totally loves shooting animals

20. Howard Fineman The Huffington Post's newest hire has spent years repeating conventional wisdom

19. Joe Klein The Time contributor may not always know what he's talking about, but he knows politics was cooler in the '60s

18. Tina Brown Newsweek's new editor just ran into someone impossibly fabulous at a dinner last month ...

17. Bill Kristol The second-generation neocon is the world's laziest propagandist

16. Michael Barone He's got an encyclopedic knowledge of politics, but nothing interesting to say

15. Mort Zuckerman The billionaire buys magazines just so they'll print his columns

14. David Ignatius The Washington Post columnist distinguishable only by his deep respect for warmongering senators

13. Roger Simon The Politico columnist heard someone unexpected is planning a 2012 run!

12. John Fund The Wall Street Journal columnist is a longtime liar

11. George Will The bow-tied pundit is as slimy and amoral as a spitball

10. Peggy Noonan The dotty old Reagan speechwriter longs for a simpler time, when America was a misty cliché

9. Laura Ingraham The former hot new thing in conservative punditry shows that ignorant bomb-throwers will be with us always

8. Maureen Dowd The New York Times columnist recycles gender stereotypes and movie quotes

7. Jonah Goldberg He'd like to be taken seriously as a public intellectual. He got the public part right

6. Marc Thiessen For promoting torture, he was rewarded with a newspaper column

5. Marty Peretz The New Republic's owner and editor in chief combines perfervid prose with unrepentant bigotry

4. David Broder "The Dean" never met a problem that couldn't be solved by more serious calls for bipartisanship

3. Thomas Friedman The flat-earther and metaphor-mangler pollutes the minds of our CEOs

2. Mark Halperin The Drudge-loving political analyst who gets everything wrong

1. Richard Cohen The looooongtime Washington Post columnist is the hackiest pundit in America

I'll fill in the bronze, silver, and gold medalists when they become available. Meanwhile, make your best guesses!

About the list: I wonder how Andrew Malcom and Tucker Carlson didn't place higher, but I suppose if Pareene was weighting pure hackishness with significance, that could explain it.

Excerpt from "Griftopia" available

You can now read a bit of Matt Taibbi's new book on Rolling Stone's site.

It takes "pay at the pump" to places you probably couldn't have imagined. Here's an excerpt from the excerpt:

I dropped my fork. "The Pennsylvania Turnpike is for sale?"

He nodded. "Yeah," he said. "We didn't do the deal, though. But, you know, there are some other deals that have gotten done. Or didn't you know about this?"

As it turns out, the Pennsylvania Turnpike deal almost went through, only to be killed by the state legislature, but there were others just like it that did go through, most notably the sale of all the parking meters in Chicago to a consortium that included the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, from the United Arab Emirates.

There were others: A toll highway in Indiana. The Chicago Skyway. A stretch of highway in Florida. Parking meters in Nashville, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, and other cities. A port in Virginia. And a whole bevy of Californian public infrastructure projects, all either already leased or set to be leased for fifty or seventy-five years or more in exchange for one-off lump sum payments of a few billion bucks at best, usually just to help patch a hole or two in a single budget year.

America is quite literally for sale, at rock-bottom prices, and the buyers increasingly are the very people who scored big in the oil bubble. Thanks to Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley and the other investment banks that artificially jacked up the price of gasoline over the course of the last decade, Americans delivered a lot of their excess cash into the coffers of sovereign wealth funds like the Qatar Investment Authority, the Libyan Investment Authority, Saudi Arabia's SAMA Foreign Holdings, and the UAE's Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

Here's yet another diabolic cycle for ordinary Americans, engineered by the grifter class. A Pennsylvanian like Robert Lukens sees his business decline thanks to soaring oil prices that have been jacked up by a handful of banks that paid off a few politicians to hand them the right to manipulate the market. Lukens has no say in this; he pays what he has to pay. Some of that money of his goes into the pockets of the banks that disenfranchise him politically, and the rest of it goes increasingly into the pockets of Middle Eastern oil companies. And since he's making less money now, Lukens is paying less in taxes to the state of Pennsylvania, leaving the state in a budget shortfall. Next thing you know, Governor Ed Rendell is traveling to the Middle East, trying to sell the Pennsylvania Turnpike to the same oil states who've been pocketing Bob Lukens's gas dollars. It's an almost frictionless machine for stripping wealth out of the heart of the country, one that perfectly encapsulates where we are as a nation.

Far be it from us to add a little tax to gasoline and use that to invest in research for alternate energy sources, though. That would socialism. Not to mention America-hatin'.

Crime Scene Clean-Up

If you can take a true horror story, you should have a look at Matt Taibbi's new article for Rolling Stone, "Courts Helping Banks Screw Over Homeowners." Here's how it starts:

The foreclosure lawyers down in Jacksonville had warned me, but I was skeptical. They told me the state of Florida had created a special super-high-speed housing court with a specific mandate to rubber-stamp the legally dicey foreclosures by corporate mortgage pushers like Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan Chase. This "rocket docket," as it is called in town, is presided over by retired judges who seem to have no clue about the insanely complex financial instruments they are ruling on — securitized mortgages and laby­rinthine derivative deals of a type that didn't even exist when most of them were active members of the bench. Their stated mission isn't to decide right and wrong, but to clear cases and blast human beings out of their homes with ultimate velocity. They certainly have no incentive to penetrate the profound criminal mysteries of the great American mortgage bubble of the 2000s, perhaps the most complex Ponzi scheme in human history — an epic mountain range of corporate fraud in which Wall Street megabanks conspired first to collect huge numbers of subprime mortgages, then to unload them on unsuspecting third parties like pensions, trade unions and insurance companies (and, ultimately, you and me, as taxpayers) in the guise of AAA-rated investments. Selling lead as gold, shit as Chanel No. 5, was the essence of the booming international fraud scheme that created most all of these now-failing home mortgages.

The rocket docket wasn't created to investigate any of that. It exists to launder the crime and bury the evidence by speeding thousands of fraudulent and predatory loans to the ends of their life cycles, so that the houses attached to them can be sold again with clean paperwork. The judges, in fact, openly admit that their primary mission is not justice but speed. One Jacksonville judge, the Honorable A.C. Soud, even told a local newspaper that his goal is to resolve 25 cases per hour. Given the way the system is rigged, that means His Honor could well be throwing one ass on the street every 2.4 minutes.

Foreclosure lawyers told me one other thing about the rocket docket. The hearings, they said, aren't exactly public. "The judges might give you a hard time about watching," one lawyer warned. "They're not exactly anxious for people to know about this stuff." Inwardly, I laughed at this — it sounded like typical activist paranoia. The notion that a judge would try to prevent any citizen, much less a member of the media, from watching an open civil hearing sounded ridiculous. Fucked-up as everyone knows the state of Florida is, it couldn't be that bad. It isn't Indonesia. Right?

The rest. A real nightmare.

(h/t: Molly Ivors)

Just when you thought the WaPoo couldn't sink any lower

The beginning and the end:

The Washington Post has hired Commentary's Jennifer Rubin to fill its Ben Domenech Chair for Wingnut Blogging. I said in August that Rubin was "fast becoming the worst hack on the internet." I like to think this was what clinched it for Rubin.


In short, the woman's so full of shit I'm surprised she doesn't explode. Her fans across wingnuttia will enjoy reading her as they scream about how they can't trust the WaPo.

Read the parts in between.

(h/t: exactly right, Thers)


P.S. I see by Pareene ("Finally, the Beltway's paper has someone to make the case for war with Iran") that Frequent Occupant of Slate's Mickey Kaus Chair For Bashing Liberals Only Dave Weigel approves of the Rubin hire. And does he miss the opportunity to fluff a couple of other wingnut bloggers, too? You have to ask?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Republican Party Declares War On Christmas

Now for sale at GOPStore.com, your "Official Store of the Republican National Committee," this delightful bobble bauble:

Only forty bucks to make Bill O'Reilly blow a gasket! Cheap at twice the price.

(h/t: Jack Stuef)

Nine years in, and we still don't even know who to BRIBE?

Taliban Leader in Secret Talks Was an Impostor

KABUL, Afghanistan — For months, the secret talks unfolding between Taliban and Afghan leaders to end the war appeared to be showing promise, if only because of the appearance of a certain insurgent leader at one end of the table: Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, one of the most senior commanders in the Taliban movement.

But now, it turns out, Mr. Mansour was apparently not Mr. Mansour at all. In an episode that could have been lifted from a spy novel, United States and Afghan officials now say the Afghan man was an impostor, and high-level discussions conducted with the assistance of NATO appear to have achieved little.

“It’s not him,” said a Western diplomat in Kabul intimately involved in the discussions. “And we gave him a lot of money.”

NYT via Wonkette.

This is even better than the story about the "Mission Accomplished" banner

Funny at first glance, yes ...

... but take a second look.

His legamacy is secure.

Swiped from Frontburner, via The Awl, via email from Jinnet. Thanks everybody! Made my day.

(title: cf.)

Monday, November 22, 2010

News (and pix) from Alaska

As has been my wont since the second day of this month, I surfed on over to ADN.com to catch the latest on Joe Miller showing that being a wingnut means never backing down in the face of rationality.

Which led me to news that Pastor DeMint is fully on board that crazy train, too.

In fairness to him, he probably doesn't actually think this is a winnable thing, but instead, sees it as yet another opportunity to fleece the true believers.

And speaking of fleece, not to mention grifters, ADN also has a pretty nice slide show of Dall sheep, who are getting randy, this being their time of year.

Hey, any time you can look at fifteen pictures taken in Alaska that don't have Sarah Palin in them, go for it, I say.

PZ Slash Garcia

Yeah, Prof. Myers, I like the top hats, too.


Also via PZ: some college science nerd's blog. By which I mean, gonza275 brings tears to my eyes at the thought that the kids are, in fact, all right, and that for among other reasons, we have good teachers to thank.

Doghouse give me turkee

We're coming up on that time in America where we celebrate our ancestral invaders being welcomed with the 17th century equivalent of candy and flowers, and so to that end, I direct your attention to the prep work of our Mr. Riley, and I also recommend an earlier classic from him on the liquid portion of the meal.

(title: Atrios, of course, of course)

Here is an email worth forwarding

Not sure about the date mentioned, so check your local listings, as they say.

Please Tune in Tonight at 8 PM EST to Watch CMD's Wendell Potter on MSNBC Discussing the Insurance Industry's Campaign against Michael Moore's SiCKO and Health Reform

Monday, November 29 8:00 PM EST MSNBC

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Parenthetical Aside of the Day

In a post that went up last week, about deaths caused by the CIA’s Predator drone bombing campaign, this useful reminder from Charli Carpenter:

(Never mind the fact that as civilians, CIA agents are not entitled to wage war and would have to be considered ‘unlawful combatants’ if brought to justice.)

Of course, she's a university professor, so by definition, she's rooting for the terrorists.

P.S.  Did you know that you can keep your body count of those accidentally killed by high explosives dropped from robot airplanes Collateral Damage™ down if you simply redefine all males over 13 as non-civilians?

"Seething Over the Economy"

Please read Kevin Drum's righteous post.

(h/t: Don Zeko)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

We are not here to create disorder. We are here to preserve disorder.

Paul Tait/Reuters reports:

KABUL — Afghans in two crucial southern provinces are almost completely unaware of the September 11 attacks on the United States and don't know they precipitated the foreign intervention now in its 10th year, a new report showed on Friday.


Few Afghans in Helmand and Kandahar provinces, Taliban strongholds where fighting remains fiercest, know why foreign troops are in Afghanistan, says the "Afghanistan Transition: Missing Variables" report to be released later on Friday.

The report by The International Council on Security and Development (ICOS) policy think-tank showed 92 percent of 1,000 Afghan men surveyed in Helmand and Kandahar know nothing of the hijacked airliner attacks on U.S. targets in 2001.

"The lack of awareness of why we are there contributes to the high levels of negativity toward the NATO military operations and made the job of the Taliban easier," ICOS President Norine MacDonald told Reuters from Washington.

Ya think?

"We need to explain to the Afghan people why we are here, and both convince them and show them that their future is better with us than the Taliban," MacDonald said.

Yep. But, really, no hurry. Any decade now.

Full ICOS report available here.

(h/t: John Cole, Michael Crowley | title: Hizzoner)

Watching the WaPoo Liberals™

Remember Doug Schoen and Pat Caddell, the dynamic duo who wrote that op-ed saying that as Serious Democrats, they advised President Obama to announce immediately that he wouldn't seek a second term, because that "would grant him much greater leverage with Republicans," etc.?

Guess what they're planning to do this weekend.

(h/t: Right Wing Watch)

Friday, November 19, 2010

What's that I smell? I smell trial balloons.

No One Could Have Predicted. (Except everyone who read this.)

Meanwhile, the Defense Department said Thursday Afghans may not be ready to assume full responsibility for security in their country by the target date of 2014 and some U.S. forces may need to remain beyond that date.

(source | via)

As Ye Sow, So Shall Ye Reap

Hey America, want to see what you brought upon yourself by putting the Republicans in charge of the House? Stephen Colbert presents Joe Barton (R-Texas) and John Shimkus (R-Illinois), who will be big players in deciding energy and environmental policy for at least the next two years.

Did you know that wind energy would be bad, because turbines slow down the wind that cools the planet? But that we don't have to worry about global warming because God promised Noah "never again?"

(alt. video link)

(h/t: Ocean | x-posted)

Taibbi on your teevee (and in print)

If by some chance you missed the Parker/Spitzer show last week, Matt Taibbi was on. Here's a seven-minute clip that's worth watching.

(alt. video link)

CNN embedded videos are sometimes slow to start playing, so just hang in there. Or try the alt. video link.

Transcript for this show also available.

If you're curious about the source: Parker at one point quotes Taibbi as calling Sarah Palin a "narcissistic, money-grubbing hack." That lines comes from his new book, Griftopia. (I are a full-service blog.)

Want more Taibbi? Of course you do! See Rolling Stone's round table discussion about the election we just had (yes, we really had one) between him and a couple standard-issue Beltway insiders. Makes for some entertaining reading, and there may be some insights as well.

Hat tip to TBogg, who's got a choice excerpt, plus the added value of words and pictures as only he can bring.

Cyberwar? Or just cyberespionage?

Seymour Hersch has a longish article in the New Yorker that I recommend, especially in light of the recent reappearance in the news of the Stuxnet worm. Looks like not a few outlets have taken this news peg as an excuse to talk about how we're all going to die, because Chinese hackers, etc.

And it's not just media hype. Hersch makes a good case that we should be aware of three things: why "cyberwar" is often the wrong term to use; how making it a "war" has been a conscious choice by people hoping to gain prestige and clout, not to mention sweet government contracts; and most worrisomely, how this supposed looming "war" risks letting the military intrude further into domestic civilian affairs. (The NSA is part of the military, and the guy in charge sounds at times as though he'd be right at home on the set of Dr. Strangelove.)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Eric Alterman reviews "Hitch-22"

Well, nominally, at least. In any case, I enjoyed it, quite a lot.

At least one person appears not to have made it past the first paragraph. Such is blogging, as I think they say at the Atlantic?

Or maybe it's just personality clashes from the past. I don't much care, probably because I am far enough removed to be able to admire and think fondly of this guy Hitch without feeling the need to agree with all his views (probably logically impossible) or even admire all of his life choices and mannerisms. Alterman's description of Hitchens the man, itself mostly fond, or at least fond exasperation, makes you understand why people are attracted to him, and I think his criticisms of both the man and the book are legitimate. (Or in the cases where I don't know enough about the particulars, at least seem to be.)

Snarkers Are Go!

Title of McMegan's latest post: "The Central Importance of Statistics."

It might be a sign of hope ...

... at first glance ...

Nov. 17 (Bloomberg) -- American Media Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer and Star supermarket tabloids, filed for bankruptcy protection with a previously negotiated reorganization plan.

The Boca Raton, Florida-based publisher listed assets of less than $50,000 and debt of as much as $1 billion in its Chapter 11 filing today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan. A separate petition of operating subsidiary American Media Operations Inc.’s lists assets of $100 million to $500 million and debt of more than $1 billion.

... but you also have to wonder what would fill the niche if the time they buy with this filing doesn't end up saving their checkout line rags. Something put out by Philip Anschutz, maybe?

(h/t: Chief reporter for dubious reports of Palin pregnancies. Besides Andrew Sullivan, I mean.)

The Fading Continues

There's tossing a bone to the other side, and then there's stuff like this. (via)

Somehow, Well, Not As Bad As His Son seems an insufficiently high standard to meet to make one eligible for "the nation’s highest civilian honor."


Line of the Day: 2010-11-17

It's the maverick way -- spend a year studying whether soldiers deserve full civil rights, and a half an hour deciding who will be your presidential running mate.
    -- Jon Stewart

Okay, so I stepped on one of the punchlines. But only one! So here is a five-minute clip that you will still enjoy, courtesy of TPM and Mr. Snaps.

(alt. video link)


No wonder Sarah has a crush on him

I mean, this is some serious refudiatin' to the lamestream gotcha media:

"Obviously, I am less cautiously optimistic than I was before."
    -- Joe Not Yet Aware of the Fork In Him Miller

About that fork: anyone who reads, uh, all of them should have seen these headlines in Alaska's largest newspaper:

Murkowski claims victory in Senate race

Alaska GOP asks Miller to end campaign



Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Well, thank the FSM for small favors

A better headline than I've seen in a while:

headline: House Democracts stick with Pelosi and defiant liberalism

A rare instance of incomplete capitulation is the new defiant!

Fierce Creatures. (Or not.)

(alt. video link)

Bonus: Comment by dorminjake.

(h/t: Twin)

Do Not Adjust Your Sets

If the bumper sticker over there at the top of the sidebar looks a little faded … well, good-bye to all that, as the man once wrote.

Looks like it's back to choosing between the lesser of two evils. Such is the lot of the liberal in these United States.

(h/t: Riley Waggaman | x-posted)

[Update] Also.

[Update] Also too.

[Update] Also also too.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Teabag the Liberal Dems Before They Teabag Your ...

... teevee show? Really?

Forget everything I've ever said before about America having reached the nadir of Reality Teevee Nation. This is just. so. sad.

(h/t: Jack Stuef | title: cf. | x-posted)

Keith Olbermann on The False God of Objectivity

Here is a thirteen-minute commentary from KO, written in response to an op-ed Ted Koppel wrote for the WaPoo. It makes a nice follow-on to the Maddow-Stewart discussion posted earlier.

If you're the sort of person who does not care for KO's presentation style, try to get past that at least this once. He's got a really solid case, and I thoroughly endorse his views on how to report the news and what it means to do a good job at it. Yeah, I too could stand if he dialed it down one notch in a couple of places and let the same words carry the ball, but so what. Call this 99% good:

(alt. video link)

(h/t: Twin)

Rachel Maddow and Jon Stewart

Here is a fifty-minute conversation that I highly recommend. It was recorded and aired late last week. It begins as a follow-up discussion to some of the issues raised by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's late October rally in Washington, DC, and some of the criticism they received because of that. It then moves into a larger discussion of news media -- the cable teevee kind, mostly -- and what Stewart sees as its big problems.

I had many thoughts while watching this. Some of them appear below the fold.

I really do encourage you to watch this. This is not a schmoozefest. Maddow has a distinctly different point of view and doesn't hesitate to make it clear.

(alt. video link)

(h/t: Twin)

The past two years in a microcosm

Leaving aside the terrible headline by the NYT, which makes it look to the casual reader as though Harry Reid is to blame, this bullet to the back of the head to hopes of passing the START treaty is just so typical of how the past two years have gone.

... a Senate Republican leader moved to block a vote in what could be a devastating blow to the president’s most tangible foreign policy achievement.


The announcement shocked and angered the White House, which learned about it from the news media. Both parties had considered Mr. Kyl the make-or-break voice on the pact, with Republicans essentially deputizing him to work out a deal that would secure tens of billions of dollars to modernize the nation’s nuclear weapons complex in exchange for approval of the treaty. After months of negotiations and the addition of even more money in recent days, the White House thought it had given Mr. Kyl what he wanted.

They ask for concessions and the proverbial seat at the table while whining on Fox that they're being "shut out of the process" and having things "rammed down their throats," and no one of significance ever calls them on this bullshit while it's happening. Meanwhile, they actually do get what they ask for, they stall as long as they can, and then when they finally have to act, they go all Lucy on Charlie Brown once again.

Because who cares what's good for the country and good for the world? The only way these people are capable of seeing things is "let's make sure we deny Obama a victory."

(h/t: Wonderment | x-posted)

Good, say Republicans. That other thing sounds gay.

Americans overwhelmingly say that the midterm election results that gave Republicans control of the House represented a rejection of the Democrats and not a mandate for the GOP, according to a CNN/Opinion Research poll conducted Nov. 11-14. (Story; Poll data).


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thanks, Liberal Media!

Over on Fred Hiatt's WaPoo op-ed page, they take a quick break from global warming denialism, Krauthammer warporn, and whatever you call that stuff Richard Cohen dribbles out to run a piece by two "Democrats" insisting that if Obama were to pledge right now to be a one-term preznit, "it would grant him much greater leverage with Republicans" and besides, this is "The only way" he can "lead."

Really, the only thing to do in a situation like this is to refer you to Tintin.

Who knew it was possible that anyone could write a worse op-ed than Evan Bayh? (Anyone not admitting to being a Republican, I mean.)

Of course, I say that, and I've probably just guaranteed that Joe Lieberman will be up tomorrow.

Let Your Inner Nerd Say Awww

Another tale of physicists tromping into the biology department:

It has taken four highly qualified engineers and a bunch of integral equations to figure it out, but we now know how cats drink. The answer is: very elegantly, and not at all the way you might suppose.


The five-minute sidebar video is delightfully dorky. And there's a great bit at the end about how they got more data.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sharing quotes with myself about liars

A nice line, in and of itself, separate from its context, on the SCLM:

Meanwhile, feckless Democrats continue to act as if they're waiting for the so-called mainstream media to save them: the same worthies that gave us eight years of bogus Clinton scandals, sold Saddam Hussein's imaginary WMD like breakfast cereal, championed invading Iraq as if it were the world's biggest Boy Scout Jamboree, then reacted with horror last year when the Obama White House suggested that Fox News might not be a proper news organization.

I just happened across a reference on Down With Tyranny to Rick Perlstein.

Great line:

When one side breaks the social contract, and the other side makes a virtue of never calling them out on it, the liar always wins. When it becomes 'uncivil' to call out liars, lying becomes free.

Say it again:

When one side breaks the social contract, and the other side makes a virtue of never calling them out on it, the liar always wins. When it becomes 'uncivil' to call out liars, lying becomes free.

Read Rick's piece "How Obama Enables Rush."


Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I love it.

McCain hugs Bush, ultimately, to no avail

Click pic to read the actual post.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Rachel Maddow On Keith Olbermann's Suspension

This seven-minute clip is well worth your time, especially the concluding couple of minutes.

Next time people say to you, "Eh, MSNBC is just the liberal version of Fox," point them here.

(alt. video link)

Minor glitch: the audio and video drop out for about five seconds at about 5:50. Just let it go; they will come back.

(h/t: Twin)

Damn that Daniel Davies

Except for my usual emotional plea of "sure it's only a choice of the lesser of two evils, but less evil is still less evil," I am unable to rebut any of D2's argument.

Given that the Senate did not come out as bad as it seemed like it might, I can only say that I am glad I did not happen across it before the election.

Someday I will belong to a party that thinks paying attention to its (ostensible) base is worth doing on a consistent basis. After the Rapture, most likely.

On the other hand, there is Timothy Egan's "How Obama Saved Capitalism and Lost the Midterms," which if you haven't already heard from me through other channels that you should read, you should.

So ... when do the impeachment hearings start? That seemed to work surprisingly well for the forces of rationality last time.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Rockstar Attitude Needs a Little Work

One of the members of Super Duper writes to brag (?) that in a recent contest, they finished …

… dead last in the category of "most boring" band in Los Angeles.