Archive for July, 2008

The Campaign Finance Iceberg

Everything above the waterline is illegal.  Everything below the waterline is legal.  But it’s all the same iceberg.

Also, it’s made of money.

15 comments July 31st, 2008 at 10:57pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Politics

How Do You Define Obstructionism?

I’m wondering which definition will apply here.

Old Definition: Filibustering, vetoing, or otherwise blocking every piece of legislation your opposition introduces.

New Definition: Insisting on introducing legislation that you know your opposition will filibuster, veto, or otherwise block.

1 comment July 31st, 2008 at 10:37pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Democrats,Energy,Iraq,Politics,Republicans

Casus Belli Dancing

Hey, remember when we learned that before the Iraqupation, Dubya suggested painting a U2 spyplane with UN colors and trying to bait Saddam into shooting at it, thus providing a clear-cut case for war? (Never mind the fact that the UN would be well aware that it wasn’t their plane that got shot out – remember who we’re talking about here.)

Well, now Seymour Hersh says that Cheney’s staff talked about going him one better to start his much-coveted war with Iran.  Not satisfied to rely on Iran to be foolish enough to fire the first shot, this plan required no Iranian participation whatsoever!

There was a dozen ideas proffered about how to trigger a war. The one that interested me the most was why don’t we build — we in our shipyard — build four or five boats that look like Iranian PT boats. Put Navy seals on them with a lot of arms. And next time one of our boats goes to the Straits of Hormuz, start a shoot-up. Might cost some lives.

(…)

Look, is it high school? Yeah. Are we playing high school with you know 5,000 nuclear warheads in our arsenal? Yeah we are. We’re playing, you know, who’s the first guy to run off the highway with us and Iran.

Actually, I’m pretty sure that the game of Chicken requires two willing participants.

And, of course, as Drum points out in referring back to the U2 plane plan:

In the end, of course, we didn’t do this. We just didn’t bother with any pretext at all.

Pretext is for sissies.

July 31st, 2008 at 09:48pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Cheney,Iran,Iraq,Republicans,Wankers,War

Subpoena Shrinkage

The BushCo. rationales for defying subpoenas and blocking oversight just keep getting weaker and weaker.  First they used executive privilege to shield conversations with the president (or vice president, as with the secret energy task force), because he needs to be able to receive “unvarnished” advice.

Next they used executive privilege to shield conversations by anyone who worked for the president, even if the president was not involved in said conversations.

Next they breezily claimed “absolute immunity” on the grounds of, well, no-one seems to be sure what, exactly. (And how’s that working out?)

But now, apparently, BushCo. has been so emboldened by their ability to stonewall congressional subpoenas with no consequences that they don’t even feel obligated to give any reason at all:

Subcommittee Chairman Tierney and Full Committee Chairman Waxman threaten Michael Dominguez, Principal Deputy Undersecretary for Defense, with contempt after he reveals that he has ordered Dr. Kaye Whitley of the DOD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office to defy a subpoena to appear:

Chairman Waxman: “Do we have to subpoena the Secretary to get people in the Department to come before us? We subpoenaed her, you’ve denied her the opportunity to come and testify and put her in a situation where we have to contemplate putting her in contempt. I don’t even know if we can hold you in contempt because you haven’t been issued a subpoena. Mr. Chairman, the Department of Defense has a history of covering up sexual offense problems….. I don’t know if we need to subpoena the Secretary and then hold him in contempt… Those are better options to me than to hold her in contempt when she’s put in this untenable position when her line of command instructs her not to comply with a subpoena of the United States Congress. I don’t know who you think elected you to defy the Congress of the United States, we’re an independent branch of government…”

Wouldn’t Whitley be required to refuse an unlawful order, which this certainly was?  Or does that obligation only apply to uniformed personnel?

In any case, it’s telling that this Dominguez asshat thinks that a subpoena is some kind of optional thing that you can just order someone to ignore.  Monkey see, monkey do, I guess.

1 comment July 31st, 2008 at 08:55pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Republicans,Sexism,Wankers

More Proof That We’re A Nation Of Whiners

“Moderate Republican” Chuck Grassley totally proves Phil Gramm’s point:

So I don’t want anybody telling me that we have to offset a disaster relief package for the Midwest where people are hurting, when we didn’t do it for New Orleans. Why the double standard? Is it because people aren’t on rooftops complaining for helicopters to rescue them, and you see it on television too much? We aren’t doing that in Iowa. We are trying to help ourselves in Iowa. We have a can-do attitude. It doesn’t show up on television like it did in New Orleans for 2 months.

At least Grassley does offer us a slim ray of hope.  After all, not all Americans are whiners.  The ones in the Midwest, for example, are stoic and noble, God bless ‘em.

7 comments July 31st, 2008 at 08:23pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Katrina,Politics,Quotes,Republicans,Wankers

Headline Of The Day

In today’s NYT:

McCain Tries to Define Obama as Out of Touch

This has to be a joke, right?  This is the same McCain who said, “Well, basically, it’s a Google”? The one who is “aware of the internet” and only just now learning to use a computer (if at all)? The one who doesn’t know or care how much gas costs? And he’s going to call Obama out of touch?

Wow.  Just wow.  I’m sure that couldn’t possibly backfire at all.

1 comment July 31st, 2008 at 11:34am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,McCain,Media,Obama,Politics,Republicans

Gore-Al Ensures That The Human Race Will Live On

This may well be The Greatest Onion Story Ever:

EARTH—Former vice president Al Gore—who for the past three decades has unsuccessfully attempted to warn humanity of the coming destruction of our planet, only to be mocked and derided by the very people he has tried to save—launched his infant son into space Monday in the faint hope that his only child would reach the safety of another world.

“I tried to warn them, but the Elders of this planet would not listen,” said Gore, who in 2000 was nearly banished to a featureless realm of nonexistence for promoting his unpopular message. “They called me foolish and laughed at my predictions. Yet even now, the Midwest is flooded, the ice caps are melting, and the cities are rocked with tremors, just as I foretold. Fools! Why didn’t they heed me before it was too late?”

Al Gore—or, as he is known in his own language, Gore-Al—placed his son, Kal-Al, gently in the one-passenger rocket ship, his brow furrowed by the great weight he carried in preserving the sole survivor of humanity’s hubristic folly.

(…)

As the rocket soared through the Gore estate’s retractable solar-paneled roof… the onetime presidential candidate and his wife, Tipper, stood arm-in-arm, nobly facing their end while gazing up in stoic dignity at the receding rocket, the ecosystem already beginning to collapse around them.

(…)

Despite the child’s humble beginnings, experts predict the intergalactic journey may have some extraordinary effects on Kal-Al’s physique, eyesight, and, potentially, his powers of quiet, sensible persuasion.

Read the whole thing.  It’s really super.

(h/t Ian)

6 comments July 31st, 2008 at 07:17am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Environment,Gore

The High Ground Express

McCain Campaign Director Rick Davis memo to campaign leadership, March 11, 2008:

It is critical, as we prepare to face off with whomever the Democrats select as their nominee, that we all follow John’s lead and run a respectful campaign focused on the issues and values that are important to the American people.

Throughout the primary election we saw John McCain reject the type of politics that degrade our civics, and this will not change as he prepares to run head-to-head against the Democratic nominee.

(…)

Overheated rhetoric and personal attacks on our opponents distract from the big differences between John McCain’s vision for the future of our nation and the Democrats’….

Throughout his life John McCain has held himself to the highest standards and he will continue to run a respectful campaign based on the issues. We expect that all supporters, surrogates and staff will hold themselves to similarly high standards when they are representing the campaign.

Cindy McCain, May 8, 2008:

What you’re going to see is a great debate. Which is what the American public deserves. None of this negative stuff, though. You won’t see it come out of our side at all.

NYT lead editorial, July 30, 2008:

On July 3, news reports said Senator John McCain, worried that he might lose the election before it truly started, opened his doors to disciples of Karl Rove from the 2004 campaign and the Bush White House. Less than a month later, the results are on full display. The candidate who started out talking about high-minded, civil debate has wholeheartedly adopted Mr. Rove’s low-minded and uncivil playbook.

(…)

Almost immediately, the McCain campaign was using Mr. Rove’s well-honed tactics, starting with an attempt to widen this nation’s damaging ideological divide by painting Mr. Obama as a far-left kook. On July 18, Mr. McCain even suggested that Mr. Obama is a socialist to the left of the Senate’s only avowed socialist: Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

(…)

Taking a page straight from Mr. Bush and Mr. Rove, Mr. McCain has been trying to distract voters from his support for an unending war in Iraq by portraying Mr. Obama as unpatriotic and weak….

Mr. McCain repeatedly said Mr. Obama “would rather lose a war to win a political campaign” and that he “does not understand” what is at stake in Iraq. He also accused Mr. Obama of canceling a visit to wounded American troops in a German military hospital because news cameras were not allowed. That’s a false account of what occurred — and Mr. McCain ignored Mr. Obama’s unheralded visit to a combat hospital in Baghdad.

Like Mr. Bush, Mr. McCain confuses opposition to an unnecessary war with a lack of spine and an unwillingness to use force when the nation is truly in danger….

And now we have this new McCain ad which juxtaposes Obama with Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, which is suggesting either that he’s a frivolous airhead, or that he’s a Black Man Who Will Take Our White Women OMG, or both.

McCain has sold what little honor he had left in his desperate pursuit of Dubya’s third term, and he either doesn’t care who knows it, or trusts that the supposedly pro-Obama media won’t mention it.

5 comments July 30th, 2008 at 10:42pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,McCain,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

Image Of The Week

“No Joke,” by Drew Friedman in Vanity Fair. Wow.

(f/t Attaturk)

2 comments July 30th, 2008 at 09:36pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Art/Architecture,Bush,Coolness

More Republican Family Values

For those of you who think the GOP can’t possibly top itself… meet Pete Sessions (R-Champagne Room):

From MarketPlace we learn that family-values conservative GOP Congressman Pete Sessions (R-TX) has been holding fundraisers at a strip club in Vegas. Sessions was publicly livid over Janet Jackson’s “liberal values” when she bared her covered boobs during the SuperBowl a few years back (Pete Sessions… scolded Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake for forcing “their liberal values upon the rest of the country”…). Sessions was less upset about the boobs shown at his fundraisers at a Vegas strip joint. Here is how Sessions described the affair to the media…. It’s priceless:

Sessions: That’s right, we do a Las Vegas fundraiser every year and not only raise money, but see Las Vegas. It’s a beautiful town.

Henn: Forty Deuce is a strip club.

Sessions: You know, I’ve never seen that. It is what I would call a burlesque show where there’s a woman who comes out and has a dress on… Uh, she never get’s naked. There’s no nudity, there’s no nudity in there.

This is how the club’s owner, Ivan Kane, describes his brand of burlesque.

Ivan Kane: The key component would be to have girls who were dancers taking their clothes off, not just girls taking their clothes off.

Sessions spent more than $5,000 at Kane’s club that night in March, according to federal disclosures. Those reports show Sessions spent another $2,100 on his hotel.

Check out the link for more Very Tasteful Burlesque Photos.  Especially the ones with American flags – As John points out, Sessions co-sponsored a constitutional amendment to criminalize flag desecration…

4 comments July 30th, 2008 at 08:23pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

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


Try it for yourself!

I think now we know why the appeals court threw out the $550,000 fine for Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction”:

(By Vickie York)

Jiggly Janet Jackson’s antics at the Super Bowl half-time show enraged many Americans.  But she’s won the gratitude of thousands of people worldwide, who claim they were cured of disease after watching her exposed breast on TV – or simply touching a photograph of it!

Sports fans who tuned into the game and inadvertently got an eyeful of Janet’s bare boob have flooded health departments with letters stating that the sight cured them of a host of medical woes, ranging from cancer to zits.

Perhaps even more incredibly, hundreds of others who only saw the censored image when it was replayed ad nauseum on TV – or touched a still picture in their morning newspaper the next day – also claim to have received miracle cures.

And while angry FCC honchos are investigating Janet and MTV, which produced the half-time show, for possible violation of federal decency rules, folks whose health was restored by the naughty display are begging the agency to give the miracle songbird a break.

“When Justin Timberlake tore Janet’s costume and her breast popped out, I felt a shock go through me,” says 85-year-old Edith F. of Paterson, N.J., who had been confined to a wheel chair due to crippling arthritis since 1993.

“I was so disgusted, I stood up, crossed the room and turned off the TV.  Then I realized what I’d done – I’d walked for the first time in 11 years.  There’s no pain in my legs anymore.  My arthritis has been cured.  Janet’s miracle boob healed me.

“She should be rewarded, not punished.  And they should rebroadcast that moment every chance they get.”

Other amazing accounts:

o A 56-year-old brain cancer patient in Tulsa, Okla., says his tumors vanished overnight after he saw the “accidental” boob-baring episode replayed on Good Morning, America.

o A 24-year-old Shreveport, La., man who suffered from acne for a decade claims viewing the half-time show cleared up his complexion.

o A 35-year-old Topeka, Kan., housewife plagued by hemorrhoids says the condition went away after she touched a censored newspaper photo of the boob-flash.  “I was covering up the picture so my son wouldn’t see it, and the very next time I used the bathroom everything was completely clear.”

While most experts are skeptical, some say it’s conceivable that the shocking event really has medical miracles busting out all over:

“We’ve known for decades now that a shock to the system can sometimes jolt the body back to health,” explains Dr. John Wilson.  “Shocking images can jump-start the body’s own healing mechanisms.”

This would not be the first time that breasts have been shown to possess therapeutic powers in addition to their many other positive qualities.

July 30th, 2008 at 11:46am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Weekly World News

Ted Stevens’ Corruption AOK With AK Republicans

Stevens primary opponent, Dave Cuddy:

Asked if he would call on Sen. Stevens to either pledge to run in the general election or bow out before the primary, Cuddy said: “I don’t want to presume to tell Ted what to do. There’s so much going on. … I can’t even begin to presume what he needs to do to put himself in the best bargaining position [legally].”

Ted’s buddy David Dittman has a truly hilarious take on the situation:

“Uncle Ted, he frankly doesn’t have a dishonest bone in his body,” Dittman said. “It’s the appearance that’s so damning. The last thing he would do is to behave improperly.”

Dittman went on to hypothesize that the suspected corruption, in which Stevens is accused of receiving a preferable rate on a home renovations from a business that he also lobbied for in the Senate, was more innocent than it may appear.

“If someone asked me to watch their yard while they’re out of town, and I happened to notice their grass was growing too long and I cut it — say they came back and brought me a pie. I wouldn’t turn it down, and I wouldn’t say that I [did the favor] in order to get that reward. I think in this case, the [company] doing renovations on the Senator’s house simply appreciated what he’s done for Alaska, and decided to surprise him and do something for him. [Maybe] they put in a refrigerator. … At the time, it was probably much more innocent. … Knowing the Senator, that’s just the way I see it.”

Yeah, that’s right – VECO just installed a $250,000 refrigerator solely out of gratitude for Ted’s service to Alaska, just like you would bake a pie for a neighbor who mowed your lawn.  I’m sure that’s it.

Is it any wonder the GOP is awash in corruption?  They can excuse or explain away anything.

6 comments July 30th, 2008 at 06:46am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Elections,Politics,Republicans

This Just In: Environmentalists Hate Minorities And Poor People!

So say, um, a pair of GOP/Exxon operatives pretending to be anti-poverty black activists:

A gathering led by Niger Innis of the Congress of Racial Equality, Bishop Harry Jackson of the High Impact Leadership Coalition, and the new group Americans for American Energy held a press conference yesterday demanding increased “American Energy” production.  Their contentions were twofold: that high energy costs disproportionately harm low-income families, and that increased domestic oil drilling would solve the problem.  Standing in the way: the “elitist Volvo-driving” environmentalists. Watch:

Although CORE was once a prominent civil rights group, after Niger Innis’s father, Roy, took control in 1968, he led it to the far right, honoring Karl Rove at its Martin Luther King dinner, backing extreme Bush judges, and defending oil companies. According to a Mother Jones article, “Innis has been accused by founder James Farmer and other black leaders of renting out CORE’s historic reputation to corporations like Monsanto and ExxonMobil. (CORE even mounted a counterprotest to environmentalists picketing an ExxonMobil shareholders’ meeting.)”

For CORE, this event was no different. Niger Innis proclaimed his coalition to open up domestic drilling to be “very much like the civil rights revolution in its diversity and in its moral passion.”

Early in the press conference, Harry Jackson defined the enemy: “The fact is that we have environmental groups who are basically elitist, they are trying to dramatically change our lives, they are basically saying that they want to have a wholesale transformation of our culture and society.” Limiting drilling in ANWR, he said, is “a huge problem.”

While he once again claimed to be a Democratic voter, Jackson is a frequent spokesman for groups and causes on the Religious Right, and he’s apparently expanding his portfolio to issues of the economic Right. Jackson took the time yesterday to hawk the new book he co-wrote with Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, which included a chapter on anti-environmentalism as a “faith” issue.

A long series of Congressional Republicans followed, extolling the virtues of American energy, gleefully leading the crowd in chants of “Stop the War on the Poor,” and continuing the assault on environmentalists. A representative of Americans for American Energy, Colorado State Sen. Bill Cadman, called out the “environmental racists, environmental terrorists.” Democrats were also a favorite target.

Well, I sure am glad to see that someone is looking out for the poor, even if it’s only Republicans and oil companies.

As GOP Senate candidate Steve Pearce says, “At a time when we’re facing $4 gasoline, I think that you need people who’ve been in the energy industry to tell us what to do.”  So true, Steve.  So true.

4 comments July 29th, 2008 at 10:11pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Uncategorized

A Blackberry Is Not A Truck.

YouTube Preview Image

Episode #513 of Republicans Vs. Technology:

The Iranians are still exporting the most lethal explosive devices across the Iraqi border and into Iraq and killing brave, young Americans and Iran is still supporting terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas. So, if they want to communicate with us and we want to communicate with them, fine. We all have blackberries. It’s fine.

Awesome.  John McCain is totally “with it”, as the kids say these days.

Also worth noting from the video: A banana is not a poll.

10 comments July 29th, 2008 at 09:20pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,Iran,Iraq,McCain,Media,Politics,Quotes,Republicans,Technology

And Yet Still More B&W Demolition Photoblogging

Yes, there are rather a lot of these.  And I’m even trying to be selective.

Pink Crane

This is an appalling waste of incongruous pinkness, but it really does look better in black & white. Also, just to brag on my camera a little: On the original full-size image, that warning label is very clearly readable.

Building Demolition 27

I liked the shapes, but I couldn’t get the walls and ceiling as white as I would have liked. Also, if I had a really powerful telephoto, I could have done something with the cool distorted reflections of the ruined building in the light fixture. (Yes, I’m bragging on my camera again…)

Building Demolition 28

Apparently it’s important to keep the building wet while it’s being demolished. Who knew.

1 comment July 29th, 2008 at 11:16am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging,Pittsburgh

I Realize That… Now.

This just in: Military action not the best way to combat terrorism:

The United States can defeat al-Qaida if it relies less on force and more on policing and intelligence to root out the terror group’s leaders, a new study contends.

“Keep in mind that terrorist groups are not eradicated overnight,” said the study by the federally funded Rand research center, an organization that counsels the Pentagon.

Its report said that the use of military force by the United States or other countries should be reserved for quelling large, well-armed and well-organized insurgencies, and that American officials should stop using the term “war on terror” and replace it with “counterterrorism.”

Wow, no kidding.  I seem to recall John Kerry being ridiculed for saying this in 2004, and I seem to recall Bill Clinton being ridiculed for practicing it prior to 2001.

So how’s Dubya’s completely-ignore-terrorism-then-start-invading-people strategy working out for us, then?

(h//t Phoenix Woman)

1 comment July 29th, 2008 at 07:11am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Blogosphere,Bush,Iraq,Republicans,Terrorism,Wankers,War

Guns Don’t Kill People. Insane Wingnuts Kill People… With Guns.

Very very sad.  Bad enough that some right-wing madman hopped up on Savage, Hannity, and O’Reilly walked into a Unitarian Universalist church and started killing people, but once again, the hardcore nuts have concluded that Crazy Person On A Shooting Spree = Why We Need More Guns.

For all that professional martyr-bullies like Bill O’Reilly whine that liberal blogs like Daily Kos are hate sites, worse than the KKK, it sure does seem like most, if not all, of the truly violent, murderous, and hate-filled rhetoric comes from conservatives rather than progressives.  When was the last time a DKos reader went on a killing spree?  How many domestic bombers and terrorists over the last 20 years have been liberals, versus how many have been conservatives?

Also, this sure does look like rather unfortunate timing for Doc “my compassion – let me show you it” Savage.  My bet is that he’ll explain that Adkisson was a ticking time bomb because his mental condition was misdiagnosed… thus proving his point about autism.

2 comments July 28th, 2008 at 07:41pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Blogosphere,Media,Religion,Republicans

B&W Demolition Photoblogging

More B&W demolition photos:

Building Demolition 18

Building Demolition 19

Building Demolition 21

1 comment July 28th, 2008 at 11:18am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging,Pittsburgh

Monday Media Blogging – Robot Edition

YouTube Preview Image

The gut-clenching terror of the twins scene of The Shining, re-enacted with WowWee robots.  Eeek!

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2949093547034908878

Fan-dancing Sony QRIO robots.  You heard me.

(h/t Engadget and Oddee)

July 28th, 2008 at 07:44am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Monday Media Blogging

Yo, Joe!

My advisor and one of my favorite profs at Stanford, Joe Corn, got interviewed by Matt Novak, the Paleo-Future blogger, about his book, Yesterday’s Tomorrows (which I have just ordered) and the concept of “future shock”:

Matt Novak: Have you ever read Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock?

Joseph Corn: I did. I so vividly remember reading it in a campground in the Redwoods in Northern California.

MN: What did you think of it then and what do you think of his ideas now?

JC: [long pause] They deserve re-examination now, the concept of future shock. At the time of his writing . . . I didn’t really find it that persuasive. People talk as if future shock is a major syndrome that deserves Medicare treatment today, and I sort of feel that way. The pace at which software changes and technology generally, although it is still filling in . . . Filling in the cracks is not the right metaphor . . . I’ve had a personal computer now for 25 years and it is so different. The web, plus wireless, plus speed, plus miniaturization in the laptop form makes it something different. As we carry these things around with us when we couldn’t with an IBM PC.

MN: Do you think that all this technological change that you’ve seen recently, is that harming us? Because that seems to be the main thesis of his . . .

JC: I don’t buy that. As a historian I’m very skeptical. I think we’re trained professionally to be skeptical of . . . you might put it, in terms of the Golden Age fallacy. There was a moment when things were better and everything’s been done since. I just can’t buy that. One could worry and yet, I don’t. I just see it as different. As fascinatingly different. I just don’t see civilization going to hell in a handbasket. [long pause] At least I don’t want to.

Joe Corn was (and presumably still is) indefatigably interested and enthusiastic about everything, particularly the co-evolution of technology and culture.  I read one of his earlier books, The Winged Gospel, for one of his courses, and thoroughly enjoyed it.  It was a fascinating study of the early days of aviation, when there were all kinds of extravagant claims about how flight would fundamentally change human nature.  And I don’t mean the impact of being able to travel virtually anywhere, but stuff about how being physically closer to Heaven and the angels would make us more angel-like, or that we would end up living in the air and not require any other sustenance.

Fun stuff.  A year or two after I graduated, I caught up with him on a visit to campus, and he was all excited about this new course he was teaching, on the history of technical manuals.  I know, that sounds like it would be the most boring class ever, but he started talking about how they made the propagation and popularization of technology possible, and it started sounding pretty good to me.  Had I still been a student, I’m sure I would have signed up for it and had a blast.

Thanks, Joe.  Teachers like you were what made learning worthwhile.

July 27th, 2008 at 05:58pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Blogosphere,Books,Coolness,Education,Technology

Raise Your Hand If You’re Surprised

Liberal media strikes again:

The Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University, where researchers have tracked network news content for two decades, found that ABC, NBC and CBS were tougher on Obama than on Republican John McCain during the first six weeks of the general-election campaign.

You read it right: tougher on the Democrat.

During the evening news, the majority of statements from reporters and anchors on all three networks are neutral, the center found. And when network news people ventured opinions in recent weeks, 28% of the statements were positive for Obama and 72% negative.

Network reporting also tilted against McCain, but far less dramatically, with 43% of the statements positive and 57% negative, according to the Washington-based media center.

(…)

It might be tempting to discount the latest findings by [Robert] Lichter’s researchers. But this guy is anything but a liberal toady.

In 2006, conservative cable showmen Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly had Lichter, a onetime Fox News contributor, on their programs. They heralded his findings in the congressional midterm election: that the networks were giving far more positive coverage to the Democrats.

(…)

Repeated assertions that the networks are in the tank for Democrats represent not only an article of faith on Fox, but a crucial piece of branding. On Thursday night, O’Reilly and his trusty lieutenant Bernard Goldberg worked themselves into righteous indignation — again — about the liberal bias they knew was lurking.

Goldberg seemed gleeful beyond measure in saying that “they’re fiddling while their ratings are burning.”

O’Reilly assured viewers that “the folks” — whom he claims to treasure far more than effete network executives do — “understand what’s happening.”

(…)

There’s plenty of room for questioning the networks’ performance and watching closely for symptoms of Obamamania.

But could we at least remain focused on what ABC, NBC and CBS actually put on the air, rather than illusions that their critics create to puff themselves up?

Kudos to Lichter and Rainey for some rare and much-needed truth-telling.  The bizarro myth of “liberal bias” in the media must be destroyed, and I’m perpetually amazed that it doesn’t just collapse under its own absurdity.

July 27th, 2008 at 03:05pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,McCain,Media,Obama,Politics,Wankers

The Most Critical Component Of The Surge

Time travel:

Let’s review:

* McCain said the surge started in 2007, after the Anbar Awakening that began in 2006.

* On Wednesday, McCain shifted gears and said the surge started in 2006, before the Anbar Awakening.

* On Thursday, McCain shifted gears again and said everyone except him is confused about what the surge is, and defined it as “a counterinsurgency strategy” that was launched before the troop escalation and the Anbar Awakening.

* And on Friday, McCain shifted gears again and re-embraced the original meaning of the word “surge,” which he now believes was launched shortly after the “birth” of the Anbar Awakening.

Just for fun, let’s not lose sight of the fact that McCain held all four of these competing and contradictory positions over the course of a single week.

And McCain is nevertheless basing his entire presidential campaign on his unrivaled expertise on, and support for, Bush’s Iraq policy.

It’s as if the McCain campaign is premised on the hope that voters aren’t paying any attention.

Well, not that voters aren’t paying any attention, so much as that the media won’t actually point any of this out.  It’s very easy to make that case that McCain’s foreign policy and war-making expertise are nonexistent, but no-one outside of the liberal blogosphere or the Obama campaign is making it.  I do hope that Obama puts out some nice aggressive “McCain Vs. McCain” ads this fall.

5 comments July 26th, 2008 at 01:18pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,Iraq,McCain,Politics,Republicans

Retroactive “Context,” Also Known As “Spin”

In my last Doc Savage/Weiner post, I did not mention Talk Radio Network’s plea to check out savageonautism.com for additional context to show how deeply he cares about autistic and disabled people, and the deadly scourge that is false positive diagnoses.  I looked at the listing and was completely unimpressed, so I left it out.

Well, Media Matters dug a little deeper, and looky what they found:

Responding to the firestorm surrounding Michael Savage’s July 16 comments about autism, Talk Radio Network, which syndicates his show, posted on a website a statement asserting that Savage’s comments had been taken “out of context” and purporting to provide “true context” for Savage’s “views” on autism. The website — savageonautism.com — features “20 audio clips of Michael Savage’s comments on Autism,” which the accompanying statement describes as “a representative sampling of Dr. Savage’s views, as well as the applicable issues, in true context.” In fact, all 20 of those audio clips are from the July 21 and 22 broadcasts of Savage’s show, during which Savage misrepresented his July 16 remarks; they are not — as Talk Radio Network suggests — “context” for the July 16 remarks. In addition, missing from the “representative sampling” of Savage’s “views” is Savage’s prior acknowledgment that he had called autism “a phony disease.” Savage made this acknowledgment in a previous show that re-aired July 9 (portions of which were previously included in a YouTube clip posted on June 30) — that is, before Savage’s July 16 comments, as opposed to the after-the-fact “context” offered by Talk Radio Network.

Media Matters for America has reviewed each of the 20 audio clips posted as “context” on savageonautism.com and has confirmed that each of them was aired on July 21 or 22.

(…)

…[S]ince all of the audio clips come from Savage’s July 21 and 22 broadcasts, none provide any support for Savage’s and Talk Radio Network’s discredited claim that Savage’s comments were taken “out of context.”

In other words, they were not taken “out of context” because the context had not been manufactured yet.

July 25th, 2008 at 08:30pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Media,Republicans,Wankers

How Tennis Works

When they say that becoming a great tennis player requires a lot of sacrifice, they actually mean it literally.

(from Married To The Sea)

July 25th, 2008 at 11:25am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Comics,Sports

Friday Quote & Peacock Blogging

This week’s quote is from the Bela Lugosi voodoo classic, White Zombie:

We stopped to talk to some men. But our driver said they weren’t men at all. He said they were corpses.

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

Peacock 1

This one was actually running around free. I could have petted him if I wanted to.

July 25th, 2008 at 07:23am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Friday Quote & Cat Blogging,La Jolla/San Diego,Photoblogging

Defending The Indefensible Defender Of The Defenseless

Oy.  First Michael Savage/Weiner calls autistic kids brats, then he tells Larry King Glenn Beck that he’s “a man who has spent his entire life defending the defenseless, mainly children,” and now Talk Radio Network gives us this:

Promptly after the Network’s management learned of the comments in issue, the Network commenced an investigation into the particulars and the circumstances of those comments. This investigation began with the Network’s CEO, Mark Masters, personally contacting Dr. Savage to address the concerns and obtain an explanation of the comments directly from Dr. Savage.

In that conversation, and other subsequent conversations between Mr. Masters and Dr. Savage, Dr. Savage explained the circumstances and intent of his statements in considerable detail. The Network also carefully monitored subsequent broadcasts of the Show, on Monday, July 21st and Tuesday, July 22nd, which were devoted to the subject of autism and further explanations by Dr. Savage of his views on the subject.

Dr. Savage has clarified that his July 16th statements concerning autism were not directed at those who are in fact challenged by this horrible affliction, but were instead addressing efforts to broaden the concept of autism beyond those who truly are autistic to a broader “autistic spectrum” of behavioral symptoms which are also manifested by persons who do not suffer from autism, and his concern that many children are being misdiagnosed as autistic due to the subjective nature of autism diagnosis (due to the lack of known biomedical indicators, such as blood tests, to definitively confirm or deny the actual existence of autism). Dr. Savage has also explained his belief that there have been efforts by certain professionals and professional organizations to expand diagnoses of autism more broadly, for various reasons, and his concern that this victimizes and stigmatizes children who are misdiagnosed as autistic. On multiple other occasions Dr. Savage has expressed his concerns that other conditions, such as ADD and ADHD, are overdiagnosed and result in improper medication of young children, which Dr. Savage regards as abusive.

In the context of his broader concerns, it is clear that Dr. Savage’s comments were intended to suggest his opinion that, in the vast majority of cases, most children throwing tantrums, or refusing to communicate, are not autistic. Unfortunately, by condensing his multifaceted concerns into 84 seconds of commentary, the necessary context for his remarks was not apparent, and the few words he used to express his concerns were, in this instance, inartfully phrased.

As a result, Dr. Savage’s comments did facially appear to be directed at children who suffer from autism, and clearly could be perceived as such. This has, in turn, caused understandable pain and distress to those who have a child or family member who is challenged by autism. This was not Dr. Savage’s intent, and, on behalf of the Network and all persons associated with the Network, we wish to note that our hearts go out to all families who are forced to face the realities of autism every day of their lives, and to sincerely apologize to these families for any increase in these burdens resulting from inartful commentary appearing in the Network’s programming.

While the phrasing of Dr. Savage’s remarks was inartful, after the aforementioned investigation, as well as personal knowledge of Dr. Savage’s strongly held views towards children and those dealing with special challenges, the Network is satisfied that he did not mean any disrespect to autistic children or their families but was instead reiterating his longstanding concerns on public health issues.

If you read the whole thing, you will see the words “Dr. Savage” 21 times – including twice in the same sentence four times (bolded) – and “84 seconds” six times.  In other words, Michael Savage/Weiner is a Very Learned Medical Man Who Knows A Lot About Autism by virtue of his PhD (not MD) in Epidemiology and Nutritional Science, and his comments where he said that “In 99 percent of the cases [of autism], it’s a brat who hasn’t been told to cut the act out” were taken out of the context of his tremendously compassionate body of work.  Oh, and he’s a Doctor.  Of, uh, some sort.

It’s just so unfair that so many people would jump to the conclusion that Doc Savage actually meant that 99% of autistic kids were really just brats with lousy parents, based on 84 seconds of Doc Savage saying it over and over again.  That poor man.

Hey, did you know that 99% of conservative talk radio hosts are bigoted psychopaths whose management never told them to cut the act out?

July 24th, 2008 at 10:07pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Media,Republicans,Wankers

Those Poor, Poor Conservatives…

How will they ever get their message out?

The right is engaged in the business of opining while the left features sites that offer a more reportorial model.

At first glance, these divergent approaches might not seem consequential. But as the 2008 campaign progresses, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the absence of any websites on the right devoted to reporting — as opposed to just commenting on the news — is proving politically costly to Republicans.

While conservatives are devoting much of their Internet energy to analysis, their counterparts on the left are taking advantage of the rise of new media to create new institutions devoted to unearthing stories, putting new information into circulation and generally crowding the space traditionally taken by traditional media. And it almost always comes at the expense of GOP politicians.

(…)

But the left isn’t simply promoting its own version of the news — it’s also breaking it.

Deploying writers with backgrounds grounded in journalism rather than politics, The Huffington Post and Talking Points Memo, in particular, have already become a persistent problem for McCain’s campaign, regularly posting negative opposition research and embarrassing videos in addition to advancing damaging story lines against the GOP nominee.

There is simply no equivalent on the right to these two liberal-leaning websites.

(…)

In some cases, the stories incrementally move the anti-McCain message forward (by flagging an off-message Iraq statement by a McCain surrogate, for example). In others, the reporting scores broadside hits that inflict notable damage (such as posting controversial audio of the Rev. John Hagee that would prompt McCain to finally renounce the pastor).

Add in the increasingly aggressive online efforts of liberal think tanks such as the Center for American Progress, and it leaves the right at a severe disadvantage in the high-stakes business of distributing information about favored candidates and the opposition.

(…)

“It’s fair to say that the mainstream media…was increasingly either neutral or effectively browbeaten by the right,” says Josh Marshall, the founder and editor of Talking Points Memo.

The powerful presence of Limbaugh on the radio airwaves and the ascendance of Fox News on cable television energized liberals, Marshall says.

“People on the center-left, especially in the lead-up to the Iraq war and after the 2000 recount, realized that there was nothing on that side of equation,” he adds.

The result was the emergence of TPM and HuffPo, along with the opinion- and organizing-centered Daily Kos.

“Republicans haven’t developed a lot of that infrastructure because they haven’t been forced to,” says Michael Turk, a former ecampaign director at the RNC.

That’s the key right there.  Online conservatives don’t need to do right-oriented reporting because they have Fox News and the rest of the corporate media to do it for them.  Online progressives have to do their own reporting because that’s the only way those stories will ever get told.

July 24th, 2008 at 09:02pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Blogosphere,Democrats,Media,Politics,Republicans

Castro Still The Boogeyman

He’s not even in charge anymore…

The McCain campaign has a new web ad out placing Barack Obama, for the second time, side-by-side with a foreign dictator. This time, it’s Fidel Castro.

A Democrat in south Florida alerted the Huffington Post to the image, which shows Obama and Castro, profiled side-by-side, above a quote from the Cuban leader praising the Illinois Democrat as “the most advanced candidate.”

….Early in June, McCain’s campaign launched a web ad placing Obama beside Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad underneath the caption: “Is it OK to unconditionally meet with anti-American foreign leaders?”

Unlike that spot, the Castro advertisement actually uses the foreign leader’s words against Obama. But the quote is misleading in regards to the actual political dynamics in play. For starters, since Obama became the de facto nominee, Castro has been critical of his candidacy, arguing that he has not called for serious alterations to U.S.-Cuban relations and would willingly allow the island nation to suffer from hunger. Obama, meanwhile, has criticized Castro as a repeated abuser of human rights and a tyrant whose time has passed.

(…)

For now, it seems the McCain camp is using its Castro ad on sites catering to South Florida – obviously a politically important geographic region. An email to McCain staffers went unanswered, but if readers have any more information, please send us tips.

I guess Castro still gets ‘em worked up in Florida.  It’s such a stilted and strangely phrased compliment, though – what does “the most advanced candidate” even mean?

July 24th, 2008 at 11:18am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,McCain,Obama,Politics

…And Don’t You Forget It.

YouTube Preview Image

I’m sensitive like Iggy.

Why doesn’t anyone believe me?

Men are stereotyped as immature, insensitive and noncommittal, but deep down inside most guys are blubbering romantics dreaming of finding a soul mate, an online survey reveals.

The AskMen.com “Great Male Survey” shatters the myth some women have of the knuckle-dragging opposite sex, said James Bassil, the Web site’s editor-in-chief.

“These survey results will be pleasantly surprising to many women, most of whom have a completely different perspective of what the average man thinks and feels,” Bassil said.

More than 70,000 men took the 150-question survey probing the psyche of the modern male. Among the he-man debunking results are:

- More than 75% believe they have a soul mate.

- At least 64% make an effort to be romantic regularly.

- Up to 77% look for girlfriends with “wife potential.”

- A whopping 94% say “real men” cry, and 75% admit to shedding tears over a woman.

- And 92% say they wouldn’t mind being in a relationship with a woman who earned more money.

So there!  Now can we get a little more respect, please?  That insensitive caveman stuff really hurts my feelings.

July 24th, 2008 at 07:09am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Polls

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

Weekly World News you can use:

SIGNS YOUR TOILET IS A GATEWAY TO ANOTHER DIMENSION

1. Your toilet bowl seems to get dirty unusually fast. You clean and disinfect, but before you know it, there’s a nasty ring inside again.  This grime may be coming from an extra-dimensional source.

2. When you flush, the water goes down clockwise. This is unnatural, and indicates the influence of malign entities.

3. When sitting on your toilet, you occasionally feel a gentle breeze on your bottom. Other dimensions send reconnaissance “soldiers” into the pipes to search for innocent prey.  When they sense movement, they gently glide out of the water to check it out and naturally take a few breaths.  That’s what you feel.

4. After a bout of stomach ailments or diarrhea, you suffer from a sudden onset of sadness or depression. This may be the result of spending an inordinate time near a spiritually infested toilet bowl.  You may be the victim of happiness-robbing vibrations coming from other dimensions.

5. You flush and leave the bathroom, only to return awhile later and notice the toilet is still running. This is the worst sign of all.  It’s a signal that the evil spirits have broken through the complex space-time continuum and entered into the earthly dimension.  Bar the bathroom door immediately and leave the house.

I cannot emphasize enough how serious this is.  WWN had a pair of companion stories about the dramatic upswing in trans-dimensional Toilet Disappearances, so the consequences of ignoring these warning signs can be very very dire.

3 comments July 23rd, 2008 at 08:34pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Weekly World News

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