Archive for March, 2008

Reassurance From Kung Fu Monkey

For those of us who were starting to feel a twinge of concern:

Attention, Fellow White People:

There seems to be some cultural panic initiated by the recent Rev. Wright controversy. One e-mail sent to us recently asked :“I don’t understand! We let between two to three hundred black people become incredibly rich in professional sports and pop music! Why are some of them still so angry?!”

We sympathize with your confusion, but wish to clarify —

If Senator Obama becomes President, we will still run everything.

Everything.

Please remain calm and return to your assigned duties. Thank you.

Phew! That’s a relief! I was pretty worried for a while there.

3 comments March 23rd, 2008 at 09:35pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Blogosphere,Elections,Obama,Racism

More Downtown Photoblogging

Just some more pics from downtown:

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Still not sure if I’m satisfied with how the D300 handles this kind of light.

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The bricks of Robert Morris College University, where I used to take MBA classes.

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Robert Morris from a different angle, with some reflections.

March 23rd, 2008 at 07:50pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging,Pittsburgh

Eli’s Obsession With The Google

Multi Medium is the #1 search result for rupert murdoch naked eating bugs.

I’m not so surprised by the search itself as by the fact that my blog would be the first to come up.

UPDATE: Also on the first page of search results for rogaine on vagina. Eep.

March 23rd, 2008 at 02:49pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Eli's Obsession With The Google

Obama Denounced By Expert On Intolerance

Oh, this is just beautiful.  The opening paragraphs of a Guardian hit piece on how Rev. Wright has thoroughly destroyed Barack Obama’s political career:

Listen for a few minutes to Joey Vento, owner of a south Philadelphia institution that serves gut-busting sandwiches through a takeaway hatch, and the scale of Barack Obama’s problems become apparent. Obama is having the worst week of his campaign. It is, some believe, a week that threatens his chances of becoming president.

“That minister, that was terrible, all his sayings. He’s preaching hatred,” Vento said. “The thing I didn’t like about Obama; you’re telling me for 20 years you been going to that church and you never heard that?”

Vento, 68, was speaking about Obama’s former pastor and spiritual adviser, Jeremiah Wright, whose sermons have been aired repeatedly on US television denouncing the US as racist.

Joey Vento, Joey Vento… cheesesteaks… Now why does that sound so familiar? Oh wait, now I remember:

The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations held a public hearing Friday to address a controversial sign at the popular Geno’s Steaks that has garnered worldwide attention.

The hearing was scheduled after allegations were made accusing Geno’s Steaks of discrimination for posting a sign that reads: “This Is America. When Ordering Speak English.”

Geno’s owner Joey Vento said it is “free speech” and defended his policy during Friday’s hearing.

“This country is a melting pot, but what makes it work is the English language,” Vento told the commission during a hearing that lasted more than six hours….

Oh yeah, he’s the perfect guy to interview about hate speech.

1 comment March 22nd, 2008 at 08:51pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,Immigration,Media,Obama,Politics,Racism,Republicans,Wankers

Dick McCain

In an attempt to elevate the discourse here at Multi Medium, I offer up for you some of my favorite excerpts from John McCain’s Dickipedia entry:

In the late 1980’s, McCain became one of the “Keating Five.” Some have noted that this sounds like a band. And to the extent that taking payoffs from corrupt savings and loans officials, passing legislation that deregulated the industry and destroyed thousands of lives, and intervening in the investigation of said corrupt savings and loan officials is like playing music, then, yes, they were a band. A very good one.

(…)

According to one classmate, “being on liberty with John McCain was like being in a train wreck.” It is unclear what being with McCain during his presidency would be like for the nation. Unfortunately, America has no direct experience from which to draw with a president who was a temperamental son of a distinguished military man and who in college was a temperamental fuckup who liked to party. What could possibly be so dangerous about that?

(…)

But in February of 2007, even though he had become the presumptive GOP nominee for president, McCain had still not secured the enthusiastic support of right-wing goons and thugs whose sexual inadequacy has manifested in an extreme love of torture. This group is also sometimes referred to as “The Republican Party.”

Therefore, when an Intelligence Authorization Bill came to the Senate floor that would require the intelligence community to abide by the same standards contained in the Army Field Manual, which bans waterboarding, McCain was faced with a choice: make a principled stand consistent with his avowed opposition to torture, or cowardly choose to abandon his principles and suck-up to the right-wing goons and thugs who sexual inadequacy has manifested in an extreme love of torture. McCain chose the latter.

As many whose views of foreign policy are not influenced by sexual inadequacy have noted, aside from the moral reason to not engage in torture, another is the reasonable conclusion that making practices like waterboarding legal also makes it much more likely that other countries will engage in the same practices on American prisoners of war. McCain’s son Jimmy is, in fact, in the Marine Corps. On February 14th, 2007, Jimmy returned from Iraq, meaning that McCain’s son is now safe from the increased danger of being tortured that McCain’s cowardice has placed other U.S. troops under.

(Interesting timing there, eh?)

The saddest part of the entire [Keating Five] situation, even more sad than the 21,000 mostly elderly people who had their entire life savings completely wiped out, was that it brought the appearance of conflict upon Senator McCain. As McCain said, “The appearance of it was wrong. It’s a wrong appearance when a group of senators appear in a meeting with a group of regulators, because it conveys the impression of undue and improper influence.”

And what a terrible impression that can be. Almost as terrible as working your ass off your entire life, little by little putting enough money away for retirement, and then right before retirement finding out your life savings has been robbed from you and instead of working to try to get your money back, your own senator is busy trying to quash the investigation.

(…)

Rightly sensing that he had disgraced himself in the Keating Five scandal and that this would hinder his chances to fuck up the country as a hotheaded, dangerously unstable, pandering, angry, very old president, McCain set out to launder his reputation. Since the Keating Five scandal had shown him to be a financially sleazy insider, the way McCain chose to rehabilitate himself was campaign finance.

(…)

The [McCain-Feingold] effort paid off for McCain, and in just a few years the press corps, whose short-term memory falls somewhere between that of a household cat and the Rhesus Macaque monkey (Macaca mulatta), native to Afghanistan, northern India, and southern China, hailed McCain as a good government and campaign finance reformer.

How effective was the act in reducing the influence of money in politics? The answer can be found in a simple experiment that anybody can do. Try it yourself: just say the following phrase out loud: “Hey money, I want you to stop influencing politics!” There, you have now had more influence in diminishing the influence of money in politics than the “Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002…”

(…)

Most Washington journalists have a deeply internalized sense of self-loathing. They see themselves as cowardly, flaccid, ineffectual, impotent wimps. In this, they’re not entirely wrong. They have always secretly admired the asshole jocks who used to push them around in high school. The journalists would console themselves with the soothing affirmation that the assholes were not as smart as they were. They were right, of course, but still, deep down the journalists secretly admired the assholes.

Along comes John McCain — an asshole, but an asshole who is nice to them, an asshole who comes to back of the plane and jokes around with them and doesn’t make them feel unmanly. Why, sometimes, it seemed as if McCain really liked them. A few years of this, and suddenly McCain’s not a temperamental, dangerously unstable asshole, he’s a “maverick.”

(…)

McCain spent the years of the first and second Bush administrations making self-congratulatory shows of “independence” from the Republican party and cultivating the weakling press to keep up his image as a “maverick.” It was in these years that McCain laid the groundwork for what would be the classic McCain pattern: speak out against bad people when it doesn’t matter, cowardly cave in when it does matter.

(…)

McCain considers “national security” to be one his strengths. Given the fact that he has yet to be right about any single fact regarding Iraq when it counted, this should tell you something about his prowess in domestic matters….

…McCain was asked about possible military action against Iran. His response was to sing Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran to the melody of the Beach Boys’ song “Barbara Ann.” Though this was widely criticized at the time, it should be noted, however, that deciding foreign policy based on punning lyrics to Beach Boys songs could not, at least, result in a worse situation than the one the United States finds itself in today.

(…)

The fact that McCain, an unstable, angry old asshole, would find himself coasting to the nomination says much about the rest of the field he was facing. His two main rivals were Mitt Romney, a comically soulless toady whose religion, Mormonism, was once thought to be his weakness but turned out to be the only consistent fact about him, and Rudy Giuliani, who is, according to scientific studies, the most dangerous and insane man ever to run for president.

Those are just the highlights. There’s lots more good stuff in there, believe me.

4 comments March 22nd, 2008 at 06:12pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: McCain

Another Republican Who Speaks For Me

First Lincoln Chafee, now Mickey Edwards:

I do not blame Dick Cheney for George W. Bush’s transgressions; the president needs no prompting to wrap himself in the cloak of a modern-day king. Nor do I believe that the vice president so enthusiastically supports the Iraq war out of a loyalty to the oil industry that his former employer serves. By all accounts, Cheney’s belief in “the military option” and the principle of president-as-decider predates his affiliation with Halliburton.

What, then, is the straw that causes me to finally consign a man I served with in the House Republican leadership to the category of “those about whom we should be greatly concerned”?

It is Cheney’s all-too-revealing conversation this week with ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz. On Wednesday, reminded of the public’s disapproval of the war in Iraq, now five years old, the vice president shrugged off that fact (and thus, the people themselves) with a one-word answer: “So?”

“So,” Mr. Vice President?

Policy, Cheney went on to say, should not be tailored to fit fluctuations in the public attitudes. If there is one thing public attitudes have not been doing, however, it is fluctuating: Resistance to the Bush administration’s Iraq policy has been widespread, entrenched and consistent. Whether public opinion is right or wrong, it is not to be cavalierly dismissed.

(…) The decision to go to war… — to send young Americans off to battle, knowing that some will die — is the single most difficult choice any public official can be called upon to make. That is precisely why the nation’s Founders, aware of the deadly wars of Europe, deliberately withheld from the executive branch the power to engage in war unless such action was expressly approved by the people themselves, through their representatives in Congress.

Cheney told Raddatz that American war policy should not be affected by the views of the people. But that is precisely whose views should matter: It is the people who should decide whether the nation shall go to war. That is not a radical, or liberal, or unpatriotic idea. It is the very heart of America’s constitutional system.

In Europe, before America’s founding, there were rulers and their subjects. The Founders decided that in the United States there would be not subjects but citizens. Rulers tell their subjects what to do, but citizens tell their government what to do.

If Dick Cheney believes, as he obviously does, that the war in Iraq is vital to American interests, it is his job, and that of President Bush, to make the case with sufficient proof to win the necessary public support.

That is the difference between a strong president (one who leads) and a strong presidency (one in which ultimate power resides in the hands of a single person). Bush is officially America’s “head of state,” but he is not the head of government; he is the head of one branch of our government, and it’s not the branch that decides on war and peace.

When the vice president dismisses public opposition to war with a simple “So?” he violates the single most important element in the American system of government: Here, the people rule.

Amen to that. Bush and Cheney have completely forgotten – or completely dismissed – the Constitution’s fundamental premise, which is that the president is not the king or the boss of all Americans, but rather the other way ’round. And look at how well that’s worked out for us.

(h/t dakine)

3 comments March 22nd, 2008 at 04:05pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Cheney,Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Iraq,Politics,Polls,Republicans,War

Americans Tell Cheney To Go Cheney Himself

Well, this is not exactly a surprise:

In contrast to Vice President Dick Cheney’s dismissive attitude toward Americans’ dissatisfaction with the Iraq war, a recent World Public Opinion poll found that 81 percent of Americans believe that “when making ‘an important decision,’ government leaders ’should pay attention to public opinion polls because this will help them get a sense of the public’s views.’” Moreover, in a sharp rebuke to White House press secretary Dana Perino’s recent claim that Americans only “have input every four years” regarding policy matters, the poll also found that “94 percent say that government leaders should pay attention to the views of the public between elections.”

Dick Cheney’s response: “So?”

March 22nd, 2008 at 03:12pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Cheney,Iraq,Politics,Polls,Wankers,War

Universe Commemorates Arthur C. Clarke’s Passing

This is pretty incredible timing:

NASA has detected the brightest cosmic explosion ever recorded — a massive burst of energy 7.5 billion light years away that could be seen with the naked eye from Earth, the space agency said.

The explosion, a gamma ray burst older than Earth itself, was monitored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Swift satellite and shattered the record for the most distant object seen without visual aid.

“No other known object or type of explosion could be seen by the naked eye at such an immense distance,” said Swift team member Stephen Holland of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

“If someone just happened to be looking at the right place at the right time, they saw the most distant object ever seen by human eyes without optical aid.”

Gamma ray bursts are among the most violent phenomenon produced in the universe. NASA described them as the most luminous explosions since the “Big Bang.”

(…)

The explosion seen Wednesday “blows away every gamma ray burst we’ve seen so far,” said Neil Gehrels of Goddard Space Flight Center.

Gamma ray bursts occur when huge stars use up all their fuel and their core collapses, forming black holes or neutron stars that release bursts of gamma rays, ejecting particles into space at nearly the speed of light and generating afterglows.

The burst, named GRB 080319B, was among a record four bursts detected by Swift on Wednesday, the same day of the death of prolific science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke who wrote “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

“Coincidentally, the passing of Arthur C. Clarke seems to have set the universe ablaze with gamma ray bursts,” said Swift team member Judith Racusin of Penn State University.

Even the universe mourns Arthur C. Clarke’s death, by catastrophically blowing up four stars at just the right time so their gamma rays would reach Earth on the same day Clarke died. That is a lot awesome.

3 comments March 22nd, 2008 at 02:05pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Books,Coolness,Science

Delayed Regret

What a strange, sad story:

A 64-year-old French and German mystery now has a sprinkling of Greek tragedy: An ace Nazi World War II pilot learned that one of his 28 kills was also his favorite writer.

Horst Rippert, now 88, says he only just found out that the P-38 he says he shot down on July 31, 1944, over the Mediterranean was piloted by Antoine de Saint Exupery, best known as the author of the classic “The Little Prince.”

“If I had known it was Saint Exupery, I would never have shot him down,” Rippert told the Daily Mail. “I loved his books. He was probably my favorite author at the time.

“I am shocked and sorry. Who knows what other great books he would have gone on to write?”

(…)

The opening scenes of “The Little Prince” were drawn from his experiences after he crashed a plane in the Sahara desert and wandered lost for three days before a Bedouin on a camel spotted and rescued him.

But after three years in New York and on Long Island he returned to France to fly for the Free French. On July 31, 1944, he took off in the P-38, a B-list plane, to do reconnaissance for the upcoming Allied invasion.

He was never seen again, though it was always suspected that the unidentifiable body of a French flyer, recovered several days later, could have been Saint Exupery.

In 1998, a French fisherman found jewelry identified as Saint Exupery’s and in 2000 a P-38 wreck was located on the Mediterranean floor. Three years later it was brought up and identified as the one he was flying six decades earlier.

I can’t really add anything to that…

March 21st, 2008 at 10:40pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Books,War,Weirdness

Eli’s Obsession With The Google

I think this is one of my new favorites. I’m the #1 search result for Dana Perino Turing test.

I wonder if she passed…

March 21st, 2008 at 09:05pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Eli's Obsession With The Google

More B&W Power Station Or Whatever Photoblogging

More B&W photos from that power station or natural gas station or I dunno. Whatever it is, it’s got a lot of pipes, and from certain angles it looks a bit like the Eagle shuttlecraft from Space: 1999…

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March 21st, 2008 at 05:35pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging,Pittsburgh

Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

This week’s quote is from the very peculiar Alex Winter (the one who wasn’t Keanu Reeves in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure) vehicle, Freaked. Did I mention that Mr. T plays The Bearded Lady?

We repeat: The flying gimp has been destroyed. You may now return to your homes.

And, of course, there’ll be other people’s cats…


The shadowy and mysterious Codename B. gets all abstract.

3 comments March 21st, 2008 at 11:39am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

Monster Of The Week

This is absolutely terrible:

No problems so far, the immigration agent told the American citizen and his 22-year-old Colombian wife at her green card interview in December. After he stapled one of their wedding photos to her application for legal permanent residency, he had just one more question: What was her cellphone number?

The calls from the agent started three days later. He hinted, she said, at his power to derail her life and deport her relatives, alluding to a brush she had with the law before her marriage. He summoned her to a private meeting. And at noon on Dec. 21, in a parked car on Queens Boulevard, he named his price — not realizing that she was recording everything on the digital camera in her purse.

“I want sex,” he said on the recording. “One or two times. That’s all. You get your green card. You won’t have to see me anymore.”

She reluctantly agreed to a future meeting. But when she tried to leave his car, he demanded oral sex “now,” to “know that you’re serious.” And despite her protests, she said, he got his way.

The 16-minute recording, which the woman first took to The New York Times and then to the Queens district attorney, suggests the vast power of low-level immigration law enforcers, and a growing desperation on the part of immigrants seeking legal status. The aftermath, which included the arrest of an immigration agent last week, underscores the difficulty and danger of making a complaint, even in the rare case when abuse of power may have been caught on tape.

The story goes on to provide all the sordid details, as well as a bunch of other examples of predatory immigration officials extorting sex from desperate, helpless immigrant women. In this particular case, the woman’s husband found out and left her, and she still doesn’t have a green card.

Someone really needs to go through La Migra with a firehose and clean all the scum out, and I don’t think it’ll be Dubya or McCain. How about it, Barack? Hillary?

March 21st, 2008 at 07:18am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Immigration,Wankers

Like Father, Like Son

Bad apples in both their State Departments ran the exact same dirty trick against a Democratic candidate:

Watching Oberman right now, and they’re running a story that has just broken that two employees at the Department of State have been fired for breaching Barack Obama’s passport file. This happened to Bill Clinton’s passport file when he was running for President in 1991, and a special counsel was appointed to investigate George Bush Sr.’s administration. This is very big news. Stay tuned.

Wow, what an amazing coincidence that is, eh? Not sure if it’s a Bush family thing, or just a Republican thing.

More from MSNBC:

Two contract employees of the State Department were fired and a third person was disciplined for accessing passport records of Sen. Barack Obama “without a need to do so,” State Department officials confirmed to NBC News.

The three people who had access to Obama’s passport records were contract employees of the department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, NBC News has learned. The unauthorized activity concerning Obama’s passport information occurred in January.

“A monitoring system was tripped when an employee accessed the records of a high-profile individual,” a department official told NBC News. “When the monitoring system is tripped, we immediately seek an explanation for the records access. If the explanation is not satisfactory, the supervisor is notified.”

I suppose it could just be a few random idiots, but it’s very hard not to expect the worst of an administration so very willing to use the machinery of the federal government for purely political ends.

Oh, and here’s the story of when it happened to Clinton.

(h/t Zappatero, Jan Frel, & Oliver Willis)

March 20th, 2008 at 09:42pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Corruption/Cronyism,Elections,Obama,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

Rupert Murdoch’s Hate Sites

Hey, remember when Bill O’Reilly called Daily Kos a hate site, and said it was the KKK(!)? Like, repeatedly? Well, um, about that…

[Rupert] Murdoch owns FOX, for whom O’Reilly works. Murdoch also owns MySpace.com. Therein lies the problem. An astute observer pointed us to some of the users of Mr. Murdoch’s site. There are numerous users of MySpace.com in states that sponsor terrorism, like Iran, Syria and Sudan. That alone should warrant intervention from O’Reilly using his own standards for doing business with terrorist nations. But, that’s not the biggest problem. It’s the Web sites honoring terrorist organizations that give us pause:

There is the self-described “Offical Hezbollah MySpace” page.

There’s a page for Hamas

There’s also a Death to Israel” site.

There are many other similar sites on MySpace, like this one that honors Ayatollah Khomeini and contains a number of other troubling-looking videos….

O’Reilly has a very strict standard for accountability from others, even when they’re not really responsible for the hate that may appear on their Web sites. Let’s see if Bill O’Reilly and FOX News hold Murdoch’s MySpace to that same standard of accountability.

Too much of a reach? Okay, how about some filth from Fox News itself:

The Factor has turned their attention away from attacking Daily Kos over and over again so that Bill O’Reilly could embark on a sick crusade against the Huffington Post over anonymous comments posted on Arianna’s blog. BillO had his team of producers harassing her at the Take Back America conference yesterday before she went on a panel. You know, coming after her, yelling, “why do you allow these to appear on the HuffPo?” Well, with billions of dollars at NewsCorp’s disposal, what’s Ruppert Murdoch’s excuse for these kind of posts to find their home on FOX, Bill? From this post:

Comment by THayne843

March 19th, 2008 at 5:57 pm

Wow! Jan L. nailed it right on the head! Reparations? I’m waiting for my thank you! You blacks would be naked and eating bugs if it weren’t for white people. Name ONE successful society started by blacks. Any sign of civilization in Africa was started by Europeans. Any city in America with predominately black leaders is a cesspool. Look at New Orleans, Philadelphia, D.C., Detroit�

Comment by David Tucker
March 19th, 2008 at 5:47 pm

I am sooo tired of hearing how the black man has been mistreated since he was shipped over here to help build America! All I hear is them groveling over being victims. They are the ones making themselves the victims with their attitude that whites owe them something for bringing their ancestors to the best country that has ever existed. All my life I have only witnessed the blacks with their hands out to the government expecting it to give them everything they want and shouting racist if they don’t get it! No wonder most whites have the opinion that blacks are worthless, lazy sloths who know only how to make more babies and steal everything not nailed down. Barak Lenin Obama, the big eared Muslim, is only fostering this “wo is me” attitude with his obvious prejudices. I, for one, like my white race over that of any other, so does that make me a racist? I don’t thing so. The black man will not break free from his self-imposed shackles until he picks himself up, dusts himself off and begins to provide for himself just like every other race has done who came to this country. Before the blacks can do this, however, they have to rid themselves of the likes of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Farakan, and the good reverend Wright.

Pretty insane comments. H/t to Mike who alerted me to this and as he pointed out from FOX’s rules:

please note that all comments are moderated and therefore may not appear immediately after submission.

So these were deemed acceptable? Most liberal bloggers with open comments try their best to weed out horrible anonymous comments, but we miss some. If we had millions of dollars at our fingertips to hire a huge staff to make sure outrageous stuff never appeared then they probably wouldn’t. Now that FOX News is sanctioning them, I guess the media will consider it a non-issue. What say you, BillO?

Jebus. That sure looks like “hate site” material to me. But the Fox mods don’t seem to mind. Worth noting the “may not appear immediately after submission,” which suggests that their mods have to actually release comments before they appear. So did someone at Fox News actually read those two comments above and said, “Okay, yeah, this totally meets Fox News’ exacting standards of discourse”? Or is it more of a filtered deal, where only comments containing certain key words go to the moderation queue?

Even so, shouldn’t someone have read those comments at some point? Anyone have any stories of liberal comments being instantly pulled by Fox mods? If they’re hypervigilant against liberals and laissez-faire towards racists, that makes the “hate site” case against Fox a slam-dunk.

March 20th, 2008 at 08:07pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Blogosphere,Media,Racism,Republicans,Wankers

Quote Of The Day

Nicholas Kristof on Obama’s speech on race and Jeremiah Wright:

All of this demonstrates that a national dialogue on race is painful, awkward and essential. And that dialogue needs to focus not on clips from old sermons by Mr. Wright but on far more urgent challenges – for example, that about half of black males do not graduate from high school with their class.

That’s pretty much the crux in a nutshell. The Republicans and their pet media want to talk about how Jeremiah Wright is a Crazy Angry Black Man and therefore so is Barack Obama, when the real story is what Wright and Obama are actually talking about. If you dismiss Wright and/or Obama as Crazy Angry Black Men, then you never have to worry about whether maybe, just maybe, people of color in this country have legitimate grievances and genuine disadvantages.

My personal belief is that America has succeeded in almost completely eliminating racism… on paper. Now we just have to eliminate it everywhere else.

March 20th, 2008 at 06:09pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Media,Obama,Politics,Quotes,Racism

Any Day Now…

Fired

(from Married To The Sea)

March 20th, 2008 at 11:11am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Uncategorized

B&W Power Photoblogging

I took some photos around an electrical power station (at least that’s what I think it was – I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong); here’s the first batch:

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There sure are a lot of pipes. Maybe it has something to do with natural gas instead.

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Fake owl. I think it’s for deterrence rather than decoration.

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Nearby power cables.

March 20th, 2008 at 07:07am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging,Pittsburgh

The Power Of Narrative

[H]ad Clinton or Obama done something like this, this would have been played on a loop, over and over.
CNN Political Director Chuck Todd, talking about John McCain’s recent multiple references to Iran supporting al Qaeda

Chuck Todd is exactly right, but it’s not all due to Mad John’s Big Media BBQ, or their longstanding love for his crazy-in-straight-talk’s-clothing. The media are thoroughly invested in a narrative that says that Republicans in general, and John McCain in particular, are Strong On Foreign Policy, while Democrats are Weak.

The end result is that any time McCain or another Republican screws up on foreign policy, it’s dismissed as an aberration, a one-time fluke occurrence. But if a Democrat makes a similar error, the media seize upon it as proof that the domestic-minded mommy Democrats just don’t understand foreign policy, and that’s why only the pragmatic, worldly Republicans can keep us safe from the bad scary people.

Of course, foreign policy is not the only example, not by a long shot. Consider the persistence of such laughable narratives as “Republicans are the party of moral values”; “Republicans are the party of personal responsibility”; “George W. Bush is a resolute man of conviction and Al Gore/John Kerry is a flip-flopping phony,” none of which have a basis in any reality other than the Republicans’ self-declared one. The media have perpetuated them in the exact same way, by downplaying stories that conflict with the narrative, and emphasizing the ones that reinforce it.

As Peter Daou said, way back in his pre-Hillary days:

These narratives are woven so deeply into the fabric of news coverage that they have become second nature and have permeated the public psyche and are regurgitated in polls. (The polls are then used to strengthen the narratives.) They are delivered as affirmative statements, interrogatives, hypotheticals; they are discussed as fact and accepted as conventional wisdom; they are twisted, turned, shaped, reshaped, and fed to the American public in millions of little soundbites, captions, articles, editorials, news stories, and opinion pieces. They are inserted into the national dialogue as contagious memes that imprint the idea of Bush=strong/Dems=weak. And they are false.

What’s so dumbfounding to progressive netroots activists, who clearly see the role of the traditional media in perpetuating these storylines – and are taking concrete action (here, here, and here) to remedy the problem – is that Democratic politicians, strategists, and surrogates have internalized these narratives and play into them, publicly wringing their hands over how to fix their “muddled” message, how to deal with Bush’s “strength” on national security, how to talk about “values.” It’s become a self-fulfilling cycle, with Democrats reinforcing anti-Dem myths because they can’t imagine any other explanation for the apparent lack of resonance of their message. Out of desperation, they resort to hackneyed, focus-grouped slogans in a vain attempt to break through the filter.

It’s simple: if your core values and beliefs and positions, no matter how reasonable, how mainstream, how correct, how ethical, are filtered to the public through the lens of a media that has inoculated the public against your message, and if the media is the public’s primary source of information, then NOTHING you say is going to break through and change that dynamic. Which explains, in large measure, the Dems’ sorry electoral failures.

Until Democrats and progressives can either develop their own media, or de-Foxify the existing media, they will always be held to a much higher standard than Republicans, and every election will be an uphill battle against the Republicans and the media.

March 19th, 2008 at 09:27pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Iran,Iraq,McCain,Media,Politics,Terrorism,War

More Urban Photoblogging & Hax0r Update

Good news – the hosting company did have a backup of all my files, so all my ad-hoc images are whole again, and everything else should be back to normal pretty soon. W00t!

Here are some more urban photos to commemorate this joyous (or at least relieved) occasion:

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March 19th, 2008 at 05:51pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging,Pittsburgh

The Obama Speech

It took me a while, on account of distractions, but I finally got a chance to read all of Obama’s instantly-famous speech on race. It’s good stuff, and he makes some very important points that I was really glad to see. Specifically:

o He makes the point that while working-class whites and minorities are in competition for jobs, neither is primarily responsible for the other’s lack of opportunities. The real problem is the corrupt economic system which has been gamed by the wealthy to their own advantage at the expense of everyone else.

o His fundamental message on racism is, essentially, “I know Americans are better than this.” That won’t move the hardcore racists who flat-out hate minorities, but I think it will resonate with the milder racists who think in racial stereotypes and maybe feel a little guilty about it.

o Even more importantly, he explicitly calls out conservatives and Republicans for using racism as an electoral strategy. Combine this with the previous point, and and he’s basically saying, “Republicans think Americans are all bigots, but I know we can rise above that.” Hopefully this will stay in the back of everyone’s mind if he wins the nomination and the inevitable Republican race-baiting attacks begin in earnest.

o He emphasizes the importance of education and healthcare and opportunities; not just for minorities, but for everyone. He doesn’t explicitly address it, but the local funding of schools is one of this country’s greatest injustices, and an excellent strategy for keeping the poor poor, and the rich rich.

That’s by no means a comprehensive inventory, just the stuff that jumped out at me. And given my early-morning grogginess, probably not even a comprehensive inventory of that.

March 19th, 2008 at 07:35am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Obama,Politics,Racism

Distracted-By-Hax0ring Urban Photoblogging

Can’t really concentrate just yet since my blog status is still kinda up in the air (dunno whether my ad-hoc image files are backed up, and there’s a whole bunch of ’em), so here are some more photos:

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Birds on a wire.

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I was attracted by the deep blue color, but I think it’s really more about the shapes and the shadows.

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Pipes on the side of a parking garage.

March 18th, 2008 at 10:42pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging,Pittsburgh

NOOOOOOOO!!!!

RIP, Arthur C. Clarke.

I remember Rama.

1 comment March 18th, 2008 at 07:30pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Books

Hax0red

Just in case y’all were wondering what happened to Multi Medium, it got hacked and taken over last night, and everything in my main folder got wiped out (but not the database with my posts, thankfully).

As I understand it, there aren’t any super-current backups, so the look and feel might be a little off, and some images may be missing until I have time to re-upload them.

Fun times, fun times.

6 comments March 18th, 2008 at 03:14pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Uncategorized

The Magic Is Over

No kidding:

Bernard Kouchner, the foreign minister of France and a longtime humanitarian, diplomatic and political activist, said this week that whoever succeeds President Bush might restore something of the United States’ battered image and standing overseas but that “the magic is over.”

(…)

Asked whether the United States could repair the damage it had suffered to its reputation during the Bush presidency and especially since the 2003 American-led invasion of Iraq, Mr. Kouchner replied, “It will never be as it was before.”

I believe that the 2004 election was the turning point. In 2000, most Americans had no idea what kind of malignant, dangerous psychopaths Bush and Cheney were (are), but by 2004 they had revealed their true colors for all to see… and we still re-elected them. I think that was the moment in which we became willing accessories to all of their crimes, and there’s really no way to take that back.

(h/t All-Seeing Eye Of Froomkin)

March 17th, 2008 at 10:31pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Iraq,Terrorism,Torture,War

Democracy, Who Needs It?

The always-delightful Stanley Fish explains all about how democracy is bad because people are stupid, and that’s why it’s perfectly okay if the Democratic superdelegates decide to vote however they damn well please:

In my last column I said in an aside that there are no ethical issues in the controversy about the superdelegates to the Democratic convention. This is the not the view of media pundits who keep asking the question, “What is the right thing for the superdelegates to do?” — and then, more often than not, answering it by saying (as Time magazine editor Richard Stengel did in the Feb. 25th issue) that the superdelegates should follow the will of the majorities in their districts and their states, because to do otherwise would be undemocratic.

This is nonsense….

(…)

[T]he founding fathers… were more fearful of democracy in 1787 than the Democratic elders are today.  James Madison complained in Federalist 10 that “measures are too often decided . . . by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority.” Democracies, he continued, have ever been “spectacles of turbulence and contention.”

Alexander Hamilton was even harsher in his judgment. Replying to the assertion that “pure democracy” would be “the most perfect government,” he declared, “no position is politics is more false” because “the ancient democracies, in which the people themselves deliberated, never possessed one feature of good government.” Indeed, he concluded, “their very character is tyranny.”

In saying such things, Madison and Hamilton continue a long tradition in which fear of the demos (often called “the mob”) informed a preference either for monarchy or for representative government, that is, government by a class of professional politicians who were presumed to be cooler and wiser heads, less swayed than the people by the passions of the moment.

In such a form of government, the more prestigious the office, the less the office holder is responsible or responsive to the mass of citizens. House members must face the voters every two years, and as a result they campaign perpetually and always have at least one eye on public opinion. Senators serve terms of six years and are relatively insulated from the pressure to react immediately to their constituents’ demands. In fact, until 1913 and the ratification of the 17th amendment, senators did not have to worry that much about their constituents at all, because they were elected by state legislatures. Only a few years ago, retiring Senator Zell Miller said that popular election of senators was a bad idea and that the 17th amendment should be repealed.

Oh, well, if Zell Miller thinks so, then it must be so…

Anti-democratic elements are everywhere in our political system. The presidential veto is undemocratic. The rules governing filibusters and the closing off of debate are undemocratic. The procedural devices by means of which floor leaders or committee chairmen can prevent issues from coming to a vote are undemocratic. The fact that Rhode Island and California have two senators each is undemocratic. The appointment of senators by governors in the wake of a death or a resignation is undemocratic. The presidential line of succession is undemocratic. The fact that a vice president who has not been elected to the senate presides over it and can cast a deciding vote is undemocratic. Judicial review – the practice by which the Supreme Court invalidates laws passed by the people’s representatives – is undemocratic….

So whatever your view of the superdelegates may be – whether you regard them as counterweights to popular frenzy or as a paternalistic imposition by a bunch of old guys (and gals) – it can’t be said that their very existence is an affront to the workings of democracy, for large parts of this democracy work in just the way the superdelegates were intended to.

What does this tell us about what the superdelegtaes should do in the present situation? Not much. In fact there is no “should” – no sense of moral obligation – in the equation. By definition, they can do what they like. One could say that they should exercise political judgment but, given that they are political and not moral agents, that would be tautological. In this case, political judgment can go in any number of directions. A superdelegate might ask himself or herself, “Who do I think would make the best president?” or “Who do I think will be the best general election candidate?” or “Whose policy views are closest to mine?” or “With whom do I have a history of cordial and profitable interactions?” or “With whom am I more likely to have more influence?” or “Who is more likely to be friendly to my state or region?”

Any of these questions is an appropriate political question, and depending on the answer (or perhaps combination of answers) the nod might go either to Clinton or Obama. It would also be appropriate, but not morally obligatory, to ask, “What would be the effects if we superdelegates were to tip the balance in favor of the candidate who got fewer votes and/or won fewer delegates?” And if it were judged (again an empirical not a philosophical judgment) that the effects would be harmful – a victory in the general election might be imperiled – a vote for Obama would probably be in order (although that might change depending on what, if anything, happens in Michigan and Florida). As an analyst, rather than as a voter, I could live with any of these outcomes, as long as it was a genuinely political outcome, and not one based on principle.

So there you have it.  Backscratching and political self-interest are more important than, y’know, the actual preferences of Democratic voters.  The possibility of tearing the party apart and undermining the nominee’s legitimacy is barely worthy of consideration.

Maybe I’m goofy, but my understanding of representative government has always been that we elect our leaders to govern for us, and if we don’t like the job they’re doing, we replace them in the next election.  But we still ultimately decide who represents us.  The mob may not rule directly, but it decides who does.

Also, it sure was news to me that the Democratic Party is part of the government and therefore subject to the same undemocracy that Fish sees there.  I had always thought that the Democratic Party was supposed to go along with the will of the Democratic voters, not thwart it.

(Yes, I know that the Electoral College can deny victory to the popular vote winner, but the outcome still boils down to individual voters, with no at-large bloc of supervoters who can reverse the outcome.  Unless you count the Supreme Court.)

1 comment March 17th, 2008 at 09:35pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,Media,Politics,Wankers

More Like This, Please.

Consequences!

In a shocking deal reached on Sunday to save Bear Stearns, JPMorgan Chase agreed to pay a mere $2 a share to buy all of Bear — less than one-tenth the firm’s market price on Friday.

(…)

Reflecting Bear’s dire straits, JPMorgan agreed to pay only about $270 million in stock for the firm, which had run up big losses on investments linked to mortgages.

JPMorgan is buying Bear, which has 14,000 employees, for a third the price at which the smaller firm went public in 1985. Only a year ago, Bear’s shares sold for $170. The sale price includes Bear Stearns’s soaring Madison Avenue headquarters.

(…)

James E. Cayne, Bear Stearns’s former chief executive and one of its largest individual shareholders, will most likely walk away with a little more than $13.4 million, the value of his Bear stock holdings, according to James F. Redda & Associates. Those would have been worth $1.2 billion in January 2007, when Bear’s stock was trading at a $171.51….

Awesome. His company was reckless and stupid, and he actually paid a huge financial price for it. Of course, he’s probably still richer than God, but losing $1.2 billion in a little over a year is a pretty huge kick in the nuts. I wish all incompetent CEOs had to take this kind of hit.

(h/t Stoller)

2 comments March 17th, 2008 at 08:37pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Economy,Wankers

Eli’s Obsession With The Google

I’m on the first page of search results for pediatric autoimmune long island pandas.

Wow. Talk about specific.

March 17th, 2008 at 07:38pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Eli's Obsession With The Google

More Mostly Demolition Photoblogging

A few more photos from the demolition site:

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Everything around the church is being demolished, but not the church itself, which I think is a Historical Landmark. I’m pretty sure every building in Pittsburgh over 60 years old is a Historical Landmark.

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A better view of the demolishee’s innards.

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Mmm… construction equipment… This one looks rather alien and sinister.

March 17th, 2008 at 11:46am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging,Pittsburgh

Monday Media Blogging

Hey, did you ever wonder what it would look like if the guy who did the opening title sequences for It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World and Anatomy Of A Murder did the credits for Star Wars too? I mean, who hasn’t?

http://youtube.com/watch?v=z25t-PQDn5A

Awesome. And if that’s not cool enough, there’s even a Special Digitally Remastered Version!

It’s Hutt-tastic!

(h/t Dan Vera)

March 17th, 2008 at 07:39am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Monday Media Blogging

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