Archive for March 21st, 2007

This Can Only Be Good For Republicans

ABC would be hard-pressed to find someone worse:

Mark Halperin, political director at ABC and overseer of its The Note — a popular daily Web tip sheet widely read by reporters — will give up his top position and become an analyst there. David Chalian of ABC replaces him.

A memo by ABC News President David L. Westin today attributes the move to Halperin wanting “more time to pursue writing.”

How can Chalian ever replace Hugh Hewitt’s BFF?

(h/t Josh Marshall)

4 comments March 21st, 2007 at 08:31pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Media,Politics,Republicans,TV,Wankers


This is probably worth mentioning, since I didn’t realize this about the chronology when I posted on the subject earlier today:

As Josh noted and The Politico reported last night, there appeared to be an 18-day gap in the emails released by the Justice Department Monday night, a gap right after Alberto Gonzales’ chief of staff Kyle Sampson said that they should run the purge plan by the White House and Karl Rove in particular.

In other words, there are no (well, almost no) e-mails from the time period where Rove would have been providing feedback to the purge list. Those would be very interesting indeed, if they haven’t been “accidentally” deleted. Maybe Rove said something about how happy Foggo and Wilkes and Lewis would be to get Carol Lam off their backs?

2 comments March 21st, 2007 at 06:42pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Corruption/Cronyism,Politics,Republicans,Rove

You’ve Been Served

It’s ON.

Senate committee vote is tomorrow.

1 comment March 21st, 2007 at 11:58am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Politics,Republicans,Rove

Gappily Ever After

I think it’s safe to assume that the 18-day gap in the DOJ document dump was intended to cover up something damning. As Josh points out, the gap almost precisely covers the pivotal timeframe between when the US Attorneys were originally to be fired, and when they were actually fired. Perhaps some last-minute adjustments before the final “product rollout”?

I wonder how the White House and DOJ will respond to this. They have to either claim it was just an innocent oversight (“I left them in my other server”) and cough the missing docs up, or else claim that that entire timeframe is somehow covered by Executive Privilege, which is the same as admitting to a coverup.

My guess is an “Oops, my bad,” followed by a very selective release of material from that timeframe. It’ll probably just be administrative housekeeping, lunch invites, and Carol Lam jokes.

5 comments March 21st, 2007 at 11:33am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Corruption/Cronyism,Republicans

Chimps: So Unlike Us

Fascinating story in yesterday’s NYT Science Times about primate morality:

Some animals are surprisingly sensitive to the plight of others. Chimpanzees, who cannot swim, have drowned in zoo moats trying to save others. Given the chance to get food by pulling a chain that would also deliver an electric shock to a companion, rhesus monkeys will starve themselves for several days.

Biologists argue that these and other social behaviors are the precursors of human morality. They further believe that if morality grew out of behavioral rules shaped by evolution, it is for biologists, not philosophers or theologians, to say what these rules are.


Last year Marc Hauser, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard, proposed in his book “Moral Minds” that the brain has a genetically shaped mechanism for acquiring moral rules, a universal moral grammar similar to the neural machinery for learning language. In another recent book, “Primates and Philosophers,” the primatologist Frans de Waal defends against philosopher critics his view that the roots of morality can be seen in the social behavior of monkeys and apes.

Dr. de Waal, who is director of the Living Links Center at Emory University, argues that all social animals have had to constrain or alter their behavior in various ways for group living to be worthwhile. These constraints, evident in monkeys and even more so in chimpanzees, are part of human inheritance, too, and in his view form the set of behaviors from which human morality has been shaped.

Many philosophers find it hard to think of animals as moral beings, and indeed Dr. de Waal does not contend that even chimpanzees possess morality. But he argues that human morality would be impossible without certain emotional building blocks that are clearly at work in chimp and monkey societies.

Dr. de Waal’s views are based on years of observing nonhuman primates, starting with work on aggression in the 1960s. He noticed then that after fights between two combatants, other chimpanzees would console the loser….He found that consolation was universal among the great apes…. To console another, Dr. de Waal argues, requires empathy and a level of self-awareness that only apes and humans seem to possess. And consideration of empathy quickly led him to explore the conditions for morality.


Social living requires empathy, which is especially evident in chimpanzees, as well as ways of bringing internal hostilities to an end. Every species of ape and monkey has its own protocol for reconciliation after fights, Dr. de Waal has found. If two males fail to make up, female chimpanzees will often bring the rivals together, as if sensing that discord makes their community worse off and more vulnerable to attack by neighbors. Or they will head off a fight by taking stones out of the males’ hands.

Dr. de Waal believes that these actions are undertaken for the greater good of the community, as distinct from person-to-person relationships, and are a significant precursor of morality in human societies.

There’s rather a lot of intriguing philosophical discussion about the nature of morality, and whether other primates truly possess it. One of the things the story reminds me of is the human tendency to utterly dismiss animals’ capacity for emotion, which makes it easier for us to treat them as, well, animals, and not worthy of any special consideration. So we can neglect, mistreat, torture, and slaughter them as much as we like, and it’s okay because they don’t have the sensitivities to feel things like we do. I personally think this is self-serving bullshit. I can go along with the idea that most animals don’t have morality as we know it, but I think their capacity for emotion, empathy, and altruism is considerably (and deliberately) underrated.

3 comments March 21st, 2007 at 11:24am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Science

Tom Friedman Makes A Funny

Today’s NYT column:

Because the Republicans controlled the House and Senate, and because many conservatives sat in mute silence the last four years, the administration could too easily ignore its critics and drag out policies in Iraq that were not working. With the Democrats back in Congressional control, that is no longer possible.


Yeah, because Dubya is sooo deferential to the will of Congress.

Friedman’s theory (or at least part of it) is that Petraeus will be able to use the Democratic opposition to bluff the Iraqis into getting their act together, by warning them that the Democrats could force us to withdraw at any moment. Unfortunately, this theory assumes that the Iraqis don’t read any American blogs or newspapers…

It also assumes that the Iraqis getting their act together so we can declare victory and leave is really Bush’s objective. Remember when he cleverly “bluffed” Saddam into letting inspectors in? Only it turned out it wasn’t really a bluff, and that inspections were actually the opposite of what Bush wanted… and which he went ahead and did anyway. In other words, the Iraqis could patch up all their differences and install an America-friendly democratic government, and Dubya would just scowl petulantly and ask Karl for another macho-sounding excuse to stay put.

I recommend “We’re protecting democracy over there so we don’t have to protect it over here.”

4 comments March 21st, 2007 at 07:45am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Democrats,Iraq,Media,Politics,Republicans,War

Wednesday Why-I-Love-The-Weekly-World-News Blogging

Yet another idea whose time has come:

GRAND WAZOO, Calif. — Nuclear physicists announced the world’s most energetic collision of musical styles today, in a new reactor powered entirely by Jazz Fusion.

“We derive our energy from a rapid succession of smash hits and super critical reactions,” said the project’s frontman, Doc Wackerman.

“And our only waste products are traces of Funk which collect around the pipes in the rhythm section.”

Despite the efficiency and dynamism of the new power source, some experts worry about Wackerman’s achievement. “Jazz Fusion’s popularity risks making this potent new power dangerously accessible,” said a spokesman for the Vishnu Orchestra. “I want to state that for the record. And I will, in fact, on my own next record The Dangers of Anti-Mridangam.”Nevertheless, Fusion is set to electrify much of the West Coast by summer, leaving Wackerman to focus on new challenges in Jazz Physics.

The scientist’s next project, a high-speed train running exclusively on Smooth Jazz, will coast frictionlessly into stations across America next year.

*snaps fingers appreciatively*

March 21st, 2007 at 06:56am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Weekly World News

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