Monday, July 23, 2007
I'd also recommend for James' beach bag the finest trilogy of prison diaries ever written by a British peer, namely, A Prison Diary (Vols. 1-3) of Lord Jeffrey Archer. (Excerpts from Volume II are here.) Archer tells the inspiring tale of an honourable man forced to share a television with his cellmate, ration his Cadbury Fruit and Nut Bars and Evian, and undergo the humiliation of being called Jeff by the entire prison populations. The writing's no better than in most of Jeff's fiction, but they're more informative and the subject matter is infinitely more pleasant.
The thing I love about Howie Kurtz's little chit-chats is that he posts good questions and then pretends to answer them without actually answering them:
San Francisco: Your article concerning allegations of false war reporting by a psuedonymous solider in the pages of The New Republic was interesting. The New Republic has a history of publishing plagiarists and fakers, including Stephen Glass and Ruth Shalit. I note, however, that you quoted critics of the TNR pieces who have their own questionable histories. Surely you are aware that Michael Yon, a right-wing blogger, has been reporting that al-Qaeda is engaging in forced cannibalism in Iraq. Quoting directly from Yon: "The boy had been baked. Al Qaeda served the boy to his family." (National Review Online, July 6) National Review Online and other right-wing blogs have been repeating these stories as the truth; progressive bloggers have challenged these assertions, which are inherently incredible. Why no mention of those challenged reports from Iraq?
Howard Kurtz: I made clear, and the editor of the New Republic made clear, that these challenges are coming from the right and might have an ideological motivation. That doesn't make them wrong, however, at least in this instance. Right-wing bloggers went after Dan Rather on the Memogate fiasco and left-wing bloggers went after White House correspondent Jeff Gannon. Sometimes the truth emerges from these attacks, and sometimes not.
So Howie doesn't know whether The New Republic is right or wrong, but he's supremely uninterested in the accuracy and veracity of those challenging The New Republic. If he's not going to investigate the TNR story himself, you'd think he'd want to at least look at the respective credibility of both sides.
Live Dumbass Blogging
Elderly breast fetishist Ann Althouse regurgitates some stale Kool-Aid while watching tonight's debate:
"Dodd wants to take us down to a 55 mile an hour speed limit, Jimmy Carter-style."
It's never wise to mix alcohol with "I used to consider myself a Democrat, but thanks to 9/11 I’m outraged by Chappaquiddick."* I hope I never get so old I can't remember what happened to me when I was in my forties.
* Quote appears courtesy of Michael Berube.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Harry Potter Live Blogging
Eh, I'm going to bed.
Spoiler Follows (Scroll over to read)
Over the summer, Harry reads Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion, and rejects the supernatural. During the term, Harry learns that Ron Weasley has scored with Hermonie. Twenty years later, Harry, a loud alcoholic, swears out an affidavit accusing Ron, a Lib Dem M.P., of obstruction of justice. Thirty years later, he demands that the U.K. bomb Iran, based on a speech to the U.N. General Assembly given by a talking hat.
Hey, it's the best I can do. I haven't read the books. And it's past midnight. You're lucky I could do the Scroll Over to Read thing.
Friday, July 20, 2007
Hannity was seen consorting with notorious whore hound Dick Morris as recently as two weeks ago and, a week from now, K-Lo will be playing shuffleboard with Morris on a National Review Cruise. So they're happy to party with notorious law-breaking johns, but they don't want one representing Louisiana in the Senate?
I'd be happy to see Vitter disappear, but he should at least have the decency to take Hannity, Lopez and Morris with him.
Lord Conrad Black's dogsbody, David Frum, is back from his tour of Old Europe and ready to speak truth to power:
Prosecutors convicted my friend and former employer on four of 13 counts. They lost on their accusations of "racketeering" and on their claims of a scheme of a vast fraud involving tens of millions of dollars. They won on charges involving smaller transactions worth a total of some $3.5 million, plus one count of obstruction justice [sic]. The obstruction charge was based on videotape of Black removing boxes of papers from his Toronto office after he lost entry to those offices. Prosecutors had not yet served Black with notice to leave the papers - and nobody has ever suggested that anything in them related to this trial - but the grainy security camera footage sure looked bad.
These convictions represent bad news for Conrad Black, obviously, but something less than a resounding victory for the prosecution. Now comes sentencing and appeal.
And notice something: although the prosecution lost on 9 counts, they are asking that Conrad Black be sentenced as if they had won.
[Long-ass quote from The Star which doesn't remotely suggest that prosecutors are asking that Connie be sentenced for any count on which he wasn't convicted. The article points out that Black faces up to 35 years on the four counts he was convicted of, and the United States is only seeking 30.]
Same thing as was done to Scooter Libby: win on one thing - then demand that the judge act as if you had won on everything. Here's my question: If (as seems more than possible) Black defeats the remaining fraud counts on appeal, will a US judge really contemplate sending him to prison to punish him for removing from his office personal papers of no ultimate relevance to a criminal case?
I realize Frum is just a dumb Canuck, but even he should understand that fraud and obstruction of justice aren't "one thing." Likewise, Scooter Libby was convicted of three different things: two counts of perjury, one count of obstruction of justice in a grand jury investigation and one count of making false statements to federal investigators.
Frum also seems to believe that the judge will be sentencing Connie after his appeal is concluded, and thus will be contemplating a sentence based solely on the obstruction verdict. Doesn't work that way, Davey. (Frum's reasoning also suggests that he believes Black's conviction for obstruction will stand.)
Also amusing is Frum's apparent belief that Black's not such a bad guy because he only defrauded Hollinger shareholders of $3.5 million instead of "tens of millions" of dollars. By Frum's reasoning, a murderer should go free if the state fails to prove he's a serial killer.
We are entering in a new era, one in which conservatives consistently cry that the American justice system is biased against wealthy, well-connected white men who can actually afford a level playing field against the power of the state. In reality, the playing field isn't even level, given Bush Justice's illegal efforts to give the rich and Republican the home court advatage.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
I think that Yang needs a strategy to take Yahoo into the distributed web and away from the old-media model or he will fail. It's not about convincing people to come to Yahoo. It's about finding the ways to take Yahoo to the people. In other words, the question isn't whether I Yahoo. The question is whether Yahoo Jarvises.
Of course, Jarvis doesn't have any idea of how to take anything to the people, or else he'd be doing that with daylife. Or, as it's known by most people, "What?"
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Shite Said Fred, Part II
Remember the heady days of July 16, 2008, when wingnuts were hoping and praying Fred Thompson wasn't just a lobbyist whore, but was really and truly ONE OF THEM? Here's some particularly humorous prose from that bygone era from one wordy Pollyanna:
The National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association claimed that Thompson had lobbied the White House on its behalf in 1991. Thompson denied the charge, and John Sununu, who was White House chief of staff at the time, backed up Thompson.
Only time will tell which side eventually turns out to be perceived as being truthful by the electorate. But regardless of the truth of the allegation, its presence is remarkable at this stage of the race.
Memory does not produce a similar case where an interest group tied to one of the major political parties sought so overtly to influence the debate and outcome of the other parties' nomination fight, especially before a candidate even formally announced.
Think how unusual it would be if, for instance, a conservative group opposed to immigration reform that would allow any legalization of those here illegally claimed that Sen. Barack Obama, before he was in the Senate, had been active in anti-Hispanic activities.
Billing records show that former Senator Fred Thompson spent nearly 20 hours working as a lobbyist on behalf of a group seeking to ease restrictive federal rules on abortion counseling in the 1990s, even though he recently said he did not recall doing any work for the organization.
According to records from Arent Fox, the law firm based in Washington where Mr. Thompson worked part-time from 1991 to 1994, he charged the organization, the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, about $5,000 for work he did in 1991 and 1992. The records show that Mr. Thompson, a probable Republican candidate for president in 2008, spent much of that time in telephone conferences with the president of the group, and on three occasions he reported lobbying administration officials on its behalf.
Mr. Thompson's work for the family planning agency has become an issue because he is positioning himself as a faithful conservative who is opposed to abortion.
Earlier this month, Mr. Thompson disputed accounts by the group’s former president and others, saying through a spokesman that he had "no recollection" of doing anything to aid the group's efforts to overturn a rule banning federally financed clinics from dispensing information about abortion to pregnant women. At most, said Mr. Thompson's spokesman, Mark Corallo, he "may have been consulted by one of the firm's partners who represented this group."
In an order to restore his fictitious credibility, Thompson called the Kerning Keystone Kops at Powerline to prove the billing records were bogus.
Oh, wait. No he didn't. Fred appeared on Powerline to assert attorney-client privilege concerning conversations with the abortion rights client he couldn't recall representing. Memory does not produce a similar case where an undelcared presidential candidate was so dependent on shitty bloggers to explain away his rank dishonesty.
By the way, Fred's going rate to sell out his most cherished principles was $250.00 per hour (cheap!) in the early to mid 90s. Given inflation, Fred's current reputation for veracity and the sorts of bloggers he hangs out with, it's now selling at twenty.
Update: Geez, Captain Ed's been hung out to dry by his Powertool pals. He definitely didn't get the talking points from the 'Tools, was spun by his "source," and he's now got blastocyst all over his face. I almost feel sorry for him.
Update 2: Shorter Captain Ed's Update: "Lobbying for the baby-killers is okay if you do it for a friend and don't make a living off of it." ESCEU: "I'll swallow anything for a bit of access."
A Senator recieves a Standing O from his colleagues:
Senator David Vitter, the Louisiana Republican who admitted that his phone number was in the records of a business identified as an escort service, returned to Washington and apologized to fellow Republican colleagues at their closed-door lunch. Their applause was heard outside the room. And as he arrived on the Senate floor, several Republicans extended their hands.
It doesn't take much to get a better reception than Bush, does it?
Datelie NBCChris Hansen and Dateline NBC, the sleazy geniuses behind To Catch A Predator who made pedophilia fun for the entire family as well as lucrative for their corporate masters, don't want you to know the whole story about why their hidden camera hijinx are more about ratings than law enforcement. On the Today show this morning, Hansen claimed that Texas county officials refused to prosecute following NBC's latest extravaganza because of jurisdictional issues. What Hansen didn't mention was this:
Over four days in November, 24 men were arrested at a two-story home in one of Murphy's newer neighborhoods after allegedly arranging to meet boys or girls there.
Then, last month, Collin County District Attorney John Roach dropped all charges. He said that in 16 of the cases, he had no jurisdiction, since neither the suspects nor the decoys were in the county during the online chats.
As for the rest of the cases, he said neither police nor NBC could guarantee the chat logs were authentic and complete.
As details of the suicide [of one target] emerged, Murphy's mayor, City Council and most of its residents learned that potential molesters were being lured to their city. Many were furious.
"They can chase predators all they want, but they shouldn't do it in a populated area with children, two blocks from an elementary school, " said Lisa Watson, 33, who lives down the road from the sting house.
It's a fair assumption that Hansen and NBC couldn't guarantee the authenticity of any of the transcripts, but D.A. Roach didn't even look into that issue for the allegations where no jurisdiction existed. But Hansen failed to tell his fans jurisdiction was not the only problem with his home videos. Which isn't surprising since the series was always more about voyeurism (call it Srangers with Candy Camera) than the protection of children.
Fans the of freak show needn't worry, however. Hansen has brought his women with little girl voices to New Jersey for more creepy fun, and MSNBC has enough outtakes, bloopers and practical jokes to keep the thigh-rubbing public drooling for years to come.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Puppetry of The Penises
Lord Convict Black has fallen on hard times. He no longer afford to David Frum and Mark Steyn and has to act as his own puppet:
Other chief executives have found their sock puppetry coming back to haunt them. At the criminal fraud trial of Hollinger International's chief executive, Conrad M. Black, prosecutors introduced evidence that the former press baron had once proposed joining a Yahoo Finance chat room to blame short sellers for his company's stock performance.
When his chief of investor relations declined to post the message because of securities rules, Mr. Black wrote in an e-mail message, "don't be so strait-laced ... Get our story out." Prosecutors alleged that Mr. Black then posted the message himself, using the name "nspector."
Mr. Black was found guilty Friday of mail fraud and obstruction of justice, and he faces a maximum of 35 years in prison.
The article includes reference to Lee "Sprezzatura" Siegel but sadly omits mention of the Queen of All Sock Puppets, Mary Rosh.
Update: The article facilitates a meeting of two of America's most respected bloggers. Get a room, you two.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Our Man In Cabana
The Wedding Singer, March 2007:
Imagine a family of four living on $20,000 a year. The United States could do with a new immersion in egalitarianism. This is still said to be an animating idea of contemporary liberalism. But it's not at all clear to me how much this idea really does animate liberalism's high priests and priestesses, especially those from Hollywood.
The Wedding Singer, July 2007:
I've been staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel for the last few days, a truly elegant hotel with staff that is attentive (without being stiff), tasteful and capacious rooms, an atmosphere very much old Hollywood and other accoutrements, big and small, that assure you that the establishment is not owned by Ian Schrager. When I arrived in my room, I found a bottle of splendid champagne. Who was it from?
Now imagine a family of four living on $20,000 staying at The Beverly Hills Hotel. Or, more likely, attending to Marty without being stiff.
I don't believe that a wealthy pol or pundit can't be a sincere or effective advocate for economic fairness and justice. But, of course, citing egalitarianism to bash ideological foes doesn't make you a sincere advocate for economic justice in the first place. (Although I'm sure the working poor just adore Marty's catty digs at Ian Schrager.)
By the way, I don't for a minute think Marty's flaunting his wealth or angling for a discount on his room rate with his recent post. His approach is much more subtle than that.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
There Is Nothing New Under The Moon
Of course, Lord Conrad Black isn't the first foreign publishing magnate to do hard time for fraud. Connie has some quite large prison sneakers to fill.
WASHINGTON [(May 14, 1984)] -- The Supreme Court yesterday refused to review the tax-fraud conviction of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the Unification Church leader who faces 18 months' imprisonment beginning June 18 and a $25,000 fine.
The court, without dissent, rejected Moon's appeal despite an extraordinary high-powered campaign to convince the justices that the sentence raised fundamental questions of religious freedom.
The case, which stemmed from Moon's failure to pay taxes on the interest earned on more than $1.7 million, involved a "massive" and systematic effort to defraud the government and obstruct justice, including the manufacturing and backdating of documents, the government told the court.
Moon founded the Unification Church in Korea 30 years ago as a Christian revivalist religion and now claims a worldwide membership of 3 million, a US membership 30,000 and substantial business interests worth millions of dollars.
Moon and an associate, Takeru Kamiyama, were convicted by a jury in July 1982 of intentionally failing to pay taxes on the interest earned from more than $1.7 million in personal fraud.
Perhaps the Reverend Moon can give Connie some tips on how the keep his nose clean in stir.
Sundays In Hell
On today's Reliable Putzes with Howard Kurtz, fraudster Conrad Black's conviction recieved about 20 seconds worth of coverage, less time than the non-media story about Miss New Jersey's psuedo-sleazy photos.
Based on searches of Google and the washingtonpost.com, it appears that the Putz never covered the Conrad Black trial in the Washington Post, except for one mention at the end of an online column in March, when he reported on how Lady Black called a newspaper reporter covering the trial a a slut.
I'm not surprised by these facts. I'm just posting this for easy reference next time the Putz fakes outrage about the media's failure to cover substantive news in favor of celebrities and t-and-a.
Meanwhile over at the La Brea Tar Pits of punditry, also known as Meet the Press, Tim Russert had another one of his geriatric white man circle jerks, complete with a 10 minute plug of Bob Novak's latest lie-all book, The Prince of Darkness. Fellow fossil Al Hunt was happy to pimp Novak's tome, and Tim gave Novak the opportunity to repeat his lies about the Plame outing (again without mentioning his own role). Bob Shrum and Mike Murphy apparently wandered away from their caretakers and were allowed to occupy the set until someone came to retrieve them.
If it's covered with liver spots, it's Meet the Press.
Update: I rest my case:
MR. RUSSERT: Yeah. But he got to know you on, got to know you on the campaign trail. You talked about politics, sports. Then you went to a dinner party in 1981, both got drunk and had a knock-down, drag-out battle about tax policy.
MR. HUNT: Yeah.
MR. RUSSERT: You know, where I come from, we argue about women, football.
MR. HUNT: Yeah.
MR. RUSSERT: Tax policy?
Friday, July 13, 2007
Steyn In Vain
Mark Steyn sees all his dreams come tumbling down/He won't be happy without Connie around.
"It's not the crime, it's the demolishing of Conrad's life's work," said friend and columnist Mark Steyn.Why do we even let these criminal immigrants in the country in the first place?
"It's the knowledge that the first draft of history is going to be written by all your enemies, by all these kinds of jackals from Fleet Street who skipped the last four months but flew in here for the walk to the scaffold."
Steyn, who has known Black for 12 years and covered the trial for Maclean's magazine, said ahead of the verdict that a defeat would be "particularly devastating" to Black's wife Barbara Amiel Black.
Unlike her husband, she has found it difficult to remain optimistic throughout the trial and was subjected to intense media scrutiny for lashing out at reporters early on, calling them "vermin" and dismissing one female journalist as a "slut."
Meanwhile, the New York Times says Connie could "could face up to 35 years in prison." As he's age 63, that seems pretty optimistic.
Grand Old Police Blotter: Back In Black Edition
Lord Conrad Black has been convicted on four three counts of fraud and one count of Scooter Libby:
July 13 (Bloomberg) -- Conrad Black, former chief executive officer of Hollinger International Inc., was found guilty of defrauding the newspaper publisher, becoming the last CEO convicted in a five-year U.S. crackdown on corporate crime.
Black, 62, was found guilty of three fraud charges and obstruction of justice. Jurors found him not guilty of nine charges. All three codefendants were convicted of the same fraud counts.
Black and two other men were accused of stealing $60 million from Hollinger, once the world's third-largest publisher of English-language newspapers. Prosecutors said the money was disguised as fees the men got for not competing with buyers of about $3 billion of newspapers Hollinger sold.
For those who don't know the convicted neo-con conman, he's sort of a rich man's Jeffrey Archer:
Black, 6 feet, 1 inch tall, silver-haired and barrel- chested, was raised in Toronto's wealthy Bridle Path neighborhood and owned homes in Toronto, London, New York and Palm Beach. He wielded power as a wealthy media owner and member of Britain's House of Lords as Lord Black of Crossharbour. He renounced his Canadian citizenship to become a British peer.
Black, who holds a master's degree in history from Montreal's McGill University and a law degree from Laval University in Quebec, wrote well-reviewed biographies of former U.S. presidents Nixon and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Yes, I'm in a bang
With a gang
They've got to catch me if they want me to hang
Cause I'm back on the track
And I'm beatin' the flack
Nobody's gonna get me on another rap
So look at me now
I'm just makin' my play
Don't try to push your luck, just get out of my way
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Shite Said Fred
Hoping to pull the wool over the eyes of the morons in the Republican Party, Fred Thompson and his pals, the Powerline Twits, attempt to justify Fred's pro-choice lobbying activities with this cynical bit of flackery:
A lawyer who is a candidate or a prospective candidate for office finds himself in an interesting position because of the nature of the legal profession and the practice of law. This is true when the practice was as varied as mine, and it's especially true when the office being considered is the Presidency of the United States.
The easiest and most generally used tactic when running against a lawyer is to trade off a general perception that most people dislike lawyers. Goodness knows that a lot of lawyers have earned disfavor but, as it turns out, folks understand our system better than a lot of politicians think they do. In my first run for the Senate, my opponent tried the old demagoguery route "He has even represented criminals!" to no avail.
A first cousin of this ploy is to associate the lawyer with the views of his client. Now-United States Chief Justice John Roberts addressed this notion during his confirmation hearings. "[I]t's a tradition of the American Bar that goes back before the founding of the country that lawyers are not identified with the positions of their clients. The most famous example probably was John Adams, who represented the British soldiers charged in the Boston Massacre."
Roberts pointed out that Adams was actually vindicating the rule of law. Every person, unpopular or not, is entitled to representation. He further said, "That principle that you don't identify the lawyer with the particular views of the client or the views that the lawyer advances on behalf of the client, is critical to the fair administration of justice."
That's just super, 'cept for one thing. Huckleberry Hound was acting as a lobbyist for pro-choice groups, not as their lawyer. Yes, he was working for a law firm when he conducted his lobbying activities. But that doesn't mean he was acting as a lawyer then, any more than he was acting as a lawyer for John Hughes when he appeared in "Curly Sue" and "Baby's Day Out."
It doesn't matter whether Huckleberry believed in reproductive rights when he was paid to advance that cause, any more than it matters whether Larry King really loves Ester-C and Welch's Grape Juice. The "best" you can say for Fred is that he hates abortion rights until someone pays him enough to love them. Or, more bluntly, that the only difference between Fred and Representative Bob Allen (R-FL) is the amount of the retainer.
And, as hard as it may be for chuzzlewits like John Hindraker and "Mister Ed" Morrisey to understand, an attorney representing a criminal defendant isn't supporting her client's "position" or "view" that murder, rape or robbery is a good thing. (Except in cases where the defendant is challenging the legality or the meaning of the law as written, the defendant's position ordinarily is that he didn't commit the crime.) The defense attorney is supporting the position that it a bad thing for a state to deprive someone of life or property without providing that person the legal process necessary to ensure, beyond reasonable doubt, that the state has a justification for imposing such a penalty.
When Fred says "Every person, unpopular or not, is entitled to representation," he surely doesn't mean that he has any obligation to provide representation for anyone who asks. Just show up at his next rally and demand that he lobby for your pet cause. Perhaps he'll represent the thugs who break your arm as they escort you from the hall.
Thompson's position on abortion rights is the same as Willard Romney's -- "What's in it for me?" And when Assrocket and Mister Ed stop pretending otherwise, maybe someone will take them seriously.
Grand Old Police Blotter: Bob, Meet John Edition
Another Republican allegedly has been caught illegally soliciting campaign contributions in a public building.
Man, this stuff writes itself:
Rep. Bob Allen
District 32 [-] Republican
City of Residence: Merritt Island
Occupation: Economic Development/Education
Education: Valencia Community College, A.A.
Religious Affiliation: Protestant
Recreational Interest: water sports
Representative Allen denies the charges.
Update: The police report says the money was offered by Allen, not requested by him.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
The least surprising news of the last 24 hours:
WASHINGTON, July 10 — Former Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona told a Congressional panel Tuesday that top Bush administration officials repeatedly tried to weaken or suppress important public health reports because of political considerations.
Skip to next paragraph The administration, Dr. Carmona said, would not allow him to speak or issue reports about stem cells, emergency contraception, sex education, or prison, mental and global health issues. Top officials delayed for years and tried to "water down" a landmark report on secondhand smoke, he said. Released last year, the report concluded that even brief exposure to cigarette smoke could cause immediate harm.
Dr. Carmona said he was ordered to mention President Bush three times on every page of his speeches. He also said he was asked to make speeches to support Republican political candidates and to attend political briefings.
And administration officials even discouraged him from attending the Special Olympics because, he said, of that charitable organization's longtime ties to a "prominent family" that he refused to name.
"I was specifically told by a senior person, 'Why would you want to help those people?'" Dr. Carmona said.
The article also mentions that Dr. David Satcher was told by the Clinton Administration not to release a report on the public health benefits of needle exchange programs, and many may recall the shoddy treatment of Jocelyn Elders. The Office of Surgeon General has long been politicized, but never has it been so blatantly anti-scientific.
Saint John Flames Out
Saint John McCain can spend money like a drunken Naval officer in support of an immoral and failed war, because it's someone else's money. Apparently, though, the Saint is a little more tight-fisted when its his own cash on the line:
An angry McCain reportedly confronted Weaver and Nelson about the campaign's operations, particularly the amount of money that was being spent even when it was clear funds were tight. The final confrontation, coming after McCain returned from a visit to Iraq over the weekend, ultimately led to their departures, according to sources.
Weaver and Nelson admitted a week ago that the campaign's assumption that McCain could raise at least $100 million this year had been badly flawed. That McCain would fall far short of that goal was apparent months ago, but the campaign reportedly was slow in making the necessary adjustments to prevent continued hemorrhaging of money in the second quarter of the year.
McCain has lost ground throughout the year, falling behind former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani in national polls and challenged by former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson, still an unannounced candidate. In Iowa and New Hampshire, McCain invested heavily in building organizations, but has been outflanked in both states by former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
McCain would have to launder money for the Coalition Provisional Authority for his campaign to see $100 million... ever.
This is the beginning of the end for the McCain myth. The corporate media groupies are moving on to prop up other G.O.P. frauds, like Muff Romney and Fred Thompson. If they can't sell the occupation, they surely can't sell the Saint.
Grand Old Police Blotter: A Vitter Pol to Swallow Edition
As we await the reveal of the identity of conservative think tank head who employed the services of Deborah Palfrey's PayPals, we must make do with news of a lesser john: David Vitter, a Republican United States Senator who, along with "his wife Wendy live[s] in Metairie with their four children, ages 13 and under, and are lectors at St. Francis Xavier Church."
Lector? I nearly swallowed 'er!
"For his work in Congress, David has received numerous awards from leading organizations such as Americans for Tax Reform, the 60 + Association, and the Family Research Council." Americans for Tax Reform? The Family Research Council? You don't suppose....
Nah, it must be a coincidence.
Vitter issued a press release claiming his activities were "a very serious sin in my past," thereby ending speculation as to whether he was banging a hooker even as he dictated the press release. In addition to his Beltway area hookers, Vitter also reportedly received constituent services from a home state ho. He refuses to consort with Mexican prostitutes, however, asserting that he is living proof that there's no job Americans won't do.
Monday, July 09, 2007
Sunday, July 08, 2007
The Last Word On Libby
During my vacation I was offline except for a few minutes to deal with flight arrangements. I read the paper versions of the various news websites, but didn't watch much news on the telly. I was however watching a local newscast when the anchor broke the Scooter Libby pardon story -- commutation, my ass -- and she even seemed to know who Libby was, even though Scooter wasn't waiting on line for an iPhone, driving through a submerged underpass or eating ribs.
Unsurprisingly, national television coverage was uniformly dismal, always giving equal time to the lies (Plame wasn't covert, Armitage was the real leaker, etc.) and the facts without bother to identify which were which. I suspect Olbermann was an exception, but didn't get to see him. The Clenis was invoked robotically, and often. The Sun-Times' coverage was dismal, as would be expected from Bob "Douchebag" Novak's home bunker. The paper lived up to its insipid motto, "Let's Not Get Into It."
Of course, no one should be surprised about the pardon, given the Administration's employment of Elliot Abrams and John Poindexter. The only surprise is that Bush hasn't given office space to the maggots who consumed Cap Weinberger's foul flesh.
Color Commentary Of The Day
"Whenever Vita Sackville-West is mentioned, the name of Virginia Woolf is never far away." -- From the July 8 coverage of the Tour de France, Stage One on the Versus Network
Saturday, July 07, 2007
Friday, July 06, 2007
The Remainder of the Day
Many have been goofing on the change of subtitle in J. Jonah Pantsload's forthcoming tome, Spank Me, Adolf. The new subtit. is now "The Totalitarian Temptation from Hegel to Whole Foods."
Sure, the publisher's long-standing description of the book said nothing about pricey, elitist organic grocery stores and their relationship to totalitarianism, but as the Pantload always says, they haven't read the book so they're in no position to critique it. And who can question Goldberg's marketing brilliance in referencing a philosopher almost noone's read and a grocery chain most have never visited.
What no one* seems to have noticed, as far as I can tell, is amazon.com's strange description of the book:
"Liberal Fascism: The Totalitarian Temptation from Hegel to Whole Foods (Foam Book)
by Jonah Goldberg (Colorist)" (Emphasis added.)
It's not clear what this means. Does each copy come pre-flecked with Goldberg's own spittle? Are the pages saturated with nonoxyno-9, or do they double as floatation devices? Perhaps it's printed on recycled packing peanuts.
And is the Pantload supplementing his income by maintaining Tommy Thompson's auburn highlights?
I expect it means that someone at amazon or Doubleday has read the book and is duly impressed.
Oh, and it also appears to have increased in size:
Foam Book: 496 pages
That's just throwing good money after bad.
* Except this blogger
Grand Old Police Blotter: Hoosier Daddy's Boy Edition
I have a fair amount of understanding for the plight of teens who encounter the police while intoxicated or occupying a vehicle in which dope is hidden. And not all of us at that age have the ability to keep our heads about us and avoid detection and/or punishment. But I don't understand the arrogance of some who see persecution in such mundane events.
Take one David Wichlinski, the future of the Grand Old Party:
David Wichlinski, the 18-year-old Porter Township Board member, was silent Monday, less than 24 hours after his arrest for underage drinking and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Wichlinski was taken into custody about 8 p.m. Sunday by Valparaiso police after he and a friend were stopped near the McDonald's restaurant on Calumet Avenue in Valparaiso.
It's the third time in four months Wichlinski, a recent Boone Grove High School graduate and son of former Porter Township Trustee Robert Wichlinski, has had a brush with the law.
David Wichlinski avoided charges in February after he was accused of giving the middle finger to two police officers and again in April when police found a marijuana seed in his truck.
On Sunday, police were called to the McDonald's restaurant after receiving a complaint of an intoxicated driver at the restaurant's drive-through.
Police arrived and noticed a red Ford Mustang as it reversed into the restaurant parking lot and parked in a handicap parking spot.
Police stopped and talked with the driver, Ryan Kubal, 20, of Valparaiso, but David Wichlinski exited the vehicle and walked away. According to the police report, Wichlinski ignored requests to stop and acted as if he were talking on a cell phone.
Wichlinski crossed Calumet Avenue and police attempted to stop him at the Arby's restaurant, where police said he was stumbling in circles, before finally stopping him in the Premier Grill parking lot.
Wichlinski then asked the police officer why he was being stopped. The officer said he immediately smelled alcohol on Wichlinski's breath and asked him why he didn't stop, but received no answer.
Wichlinski denied drinking, but a portable breath test registered 0.050 percent.
Police searched Kubal's vehicle and found a glass smoking pipe in the glove compartment with residue of what police said smelled like burnt marijuana. Kubal told police it belonged to Wichlinski. Kubal also told police that Wichlinski had been drinking beer at a graduation party.
Wichlinski, a Republican, was elected to the Porter Township Board in November and was touted as one of the youngest, if not the youngest, elected officials in the state.
So far, no problem. Just party smarter. But young Master Davey isn't just any spotty-faced three-time loser; he's a victim. Upon resigning from his Board seat a day after the story broke, Davey stated:
I apologize to everyone whom I have disappointed and embarrassed including my family, friends, the Republican Party, our Township Board and the citizens of Porter Township.
I think it's fair to say that the press went a little hard on me, but that goes with the territory. I clearly was not prepared for such merciless scrutiny, but I guess I should have expected it given my age and my last name.
As far as I can tell from Google News, the story quoted above is the only "merciless scrutiny" that Davey's bust got before his resignation -- and it's a straightforward recounting of the arresting officer's allegations (likely taken directly from the arrest report), along with a recitation of Davey's failure to respond to requests for his comment. Davey's delusions of importance, and sense of persecution, are quite advanced for a whiny little drunk and (alleged) pothead with a do-nothing political job.
But Davey's daddy's sense of injury is even loftier. Says Robert Wichlinski:
It's apparently true that, 'people are more interested in reading about and believing the bad stuff.' Not once did anyone mention what a fine job David was doing on the Township Board, or that he graduated with honors from Boone Grove and was inducted into the academic Hall of Fame ... not even once. How disappointing is that?
Democracy in America remains an experiment; this is simply one test that did not yield positive results, but it should in no way diminish our resolve to improve and continue to innovate.
Don't worry. I'm sure Davey's tests by his probation officer will yield positive results. And we won't let your punk kid's inept partying destroy our faith in democracy.
Not even once.
How disappointing is that, Bob?
Thursday, July 05, 2007
In Memory of James M. Capozzola, Proprietor of The Rittenhouse Review
Like many other of Jim's admirers, I never met him, I received encouraging e-mails from him, and I envied his admirable gifts as a writer. His posts were elegant and free of profanity, and they were also pointed and fierce. Take, for example, "Land of Airheads & Steriodal Jerks," in honor of the California recall election. His eviscerations of Camile Paglia and Norah Vincent and Ruth Shalit and Dumber Andy Sullivan were rollicking fun. He wrote about his interests and his dinner companions and his bulldog, that is, about what interested him rather than just what dominated the political blogosphere at the time.
As Anothony mentioned, Jim generously paid for the permanent removal of the banner ad from this site back when those ads appeared above all the blogs hosted on BlogSpot. That act kept me encouraged when this blog was small and unknown. It is an act of kindness I'll never forget, for as long as I can remember.
P.S. Susie Madrak shares memories of Jim here.
I'd like to thank Julia of Sisyphus Shrugged, Anthony Cartouche of Yazoo Street Scandal and Tom Hilton of If I Ran The Zoo for posting here while I was on vacation. Your kindnesses are much appreciated.
I'd also like to extend an apology to the bloggers who offered to fill in but were unable to participate because I screwed up their Blogger invites.
I'll be back to posting later today. I hope to include some thoughts about the untimely passing of the graceful Jim Capozzola.
Wednesday, Bloody WednesdayIt was a rootin', tootin', shootin' and stabbin' Independence Day in Cleveland, my home town.
The major story is this one:
Three people were killed and two injured during a shooting on Sky Lane Drive in Cleveland at 12:10 a.m.
Police said a Cleveland firefighter was arrested.
Officers said 35-year-old Terrance Hough was a neighbor who had asked the victims to keep the noise down as they were setting off fireworks. When they didn't stop, police said, he took out a gun and opened fire.
I guess that'll teach them a sharp lesson.
The online edition of Cleveland's best and only daily newspaper, The Plain Dealer, reports that there were three other separate shootings, two of which took place at or outside bars, with three victims near death. And as if that wasn't enough, there was also an incident of a woman found stabbed to death inside her apartment.
This year's was the kind of Fourth of July that makes me regard this one with nostalgia.
(Cross-posted at Yazoo Street Scandal.)
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
James Capozzola, 1962-2007You've probably already heard the news by now: Jim Capozzola, the man behind the Rittenhouse Review, died yesterday. He had been ill for a while. After he'd recovered enough to plan to return to his job, he fell and hit his head, suffering a brain hemorrhage.
Jim's friend Suzie at Suburban Guerrilla has more, including a list of links to a virtual Irish wake.
As a guest blogger at this site, it's probably presumptuous of me to speak for Roger, who will return from vacation any minute now, but I know that he always regarded Jim with affection and respect. Notice the blogroll on the right side of this page: Jim's two blogs are at the top of the list. When Blogger first arrived on the scene, they used to run ads at the top of the page of your blog, unless you paid them enough money to make the ad go away. Jim paid to have the ad removed from this blog (scroll down).
In the early days of lefty blogging, there were about four heavyweights whom I used to read daily, and I suspect that Roger read them daily too: the late, lamented Media Whores Online, BartCop, Atrios's Eschaton, and the Rittenhouse Review.
It's been said that not too many people bought the first two Velvet Underground LPs upon their release, but that everybody who DID buy them went on to form a band. It's not overstating the case by much to say that nearly everyone who was moved by one of those four blogs went on to start their own. Jim wrote with style, wit, and grace, and he will be missed, here and elsewhere.
Monday, July 02, 2007
Bush cut Libby loose
President Bush Monday spared former vice presidential aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby from going to prison for 2 1/2 years for obstructing the CIA leak investigation, a White House official said.
The official said Bush "has commuted the prison sentence ... leaving intact the probation and fines handed down by the court."
"That means he is not going to jail," the official said.
Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, was sentenced to prison for lying and obstructing an investigation into who blew the cover of a CIA agent whose husband criticized the Iraq war.
You gotta wonder what the bad options were if the one Our Fearless Leader chose was pissing off the 7 out of 10 americans who want Libby to serve his sentence while simultaneously pissing off the conservatives who want him without a felony conviction on his record which will keep him from practicing law.
The Editors point out how Our Fearless Leader's boundless compassion played out when he had the chance to commute the sentences of 152 death row prisoners
I don’t believe my role [as governor] is to replace the verdict of a jury with my own, unless there are new facts or evidence of which a jury was unaware, or evidence that the trial was somehow unfair.Remember the rule of law?
from Senator Reid's office
Washington, DC — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today after President Bush commuted the prison sentence of former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby for obstruction of justice:
"The President's decision to commute Mr. Libby's sentence is disgraceful. Libby's conviction was the one faint glimmer of accountability for White House efforts to manipulate intelligence and silence critics of the Iraq War. Now, even that small bit of justice has been undone. Judge Walton correctly determined that Libby deserved to be imprisoned for lying about a matter of national security. The Constitution gives President Bush the power to commute sentences, but history will judge him harshly for using that power to benefit his own Vice President's Chief of Staff who was convicted of such a serious violation of law."
"The President's commutation of Scooter Libby's prison sentence does not serve justice, condones criminal conduct, and is a betrayal of trust of the American people.
"The President said he would hold accountable anyone involved in the Valerie Plame leak case. By his action today, the President shows his word is not to be believed. He has abandoned all sense of fairness when it comes to justice, he has failed to uphold the rule of law, and he has failed to hold his Administration accountable."
What's Shakin' on the HillWhen last we checked in on our good friends at Shakesville, Melissa McEwan and company were trying to deal with a denial of service attack from parties unknown. Well, today they are back at their home site, full of grit, moxie, and attitude, and more determined than ever to provide intelligent commentary, free drinks at the best virtual pub on t3h 1n+arw3bz, and—I quote—"more feminazi cooter than you can shake a stick at." That's a program I can heartily endorse!
Ever the pithy wordsmith, Melissa has crafted a two-word message to the people who tried to shut her down (spoiler alert: the first word is "Fuck").
Visit the site. And why not take that money you were going to spend on the new Toby Keith CD and put it in the Shakesville tip jar instead? You'll be glad you did.
Wingnutty GoodnessOver the weekend, Mister Leonard Pierce, one of the cadre of intrepid bloggers at Sadly, No!, went slumming and found an especially choice example of the kind of basement-dwelling Cheetos-munching warblogger whose mission in life is to save us from the perils of Islamofascism from behind a keyboard: Foehammer's Anvil. Tuff talk, a ridiculously busy and inane page layout, and an unearned sense of intellectual superiority and moral courage—our boy Foehammer's got it all.
Were he and Atlas Juggs to make a baby, I have no doubt that said child would be the GOP nominee for president in the year 2044.
Saturday, June 30, 2007
the chinese government, in the wake of the melamine food-adulteration scandal, closes 180 "errant" food-processing factories for offenses against food safety and mounts a PR offensive to communicate to the US press how comparatively safe chinese food imports are
In response, the Chinese government reacted at first with defiance and denial. It charged that U.S. authorities were exaggerating the risks, even suggesting that American authorities may be playing up the dangers to fan a backlash against China's imports because of trade disputes between the two nations.
But this week China shifted course by acknowledging problems and cracking down on errant factories, 180 of which were shuttered. At the same time, the Chinese government began to push back in more-sophisticated and nuanced ways, both in Beijing and in Washington.
In Washington, China's team of diplomats -- bulked up in recent years -- has been making almost daily trips to Capitol Hill to try to tamp down growing food-safety concerns and to push back against proposed legislation to pressure Beijing over its trade surplus with the U.S. Chinese diplomats also have begun briefing reporters and distributing fact sheets to try to argue that tainted Chinese products represent only a tiny portion of the country's sales to the U.S., and that the risks shouldn't be overblown.
"In certain quarters, people are trying to create a panic about Chinese products," a senior Chinese official said Thursday, during an unusual discussion with a small group of reporters.
Chinese officials used the occasion to pass around a three-page fact sheet, entitled "Chinese Food Exports Are Safe." The paper stated that last year, the Food and Drug Administration turned away less than 1% of the food shipments sent to the U.S. from China, a figure it said was slightly less than the Chinese refusal rate last year of food shipments from the U.S. "The quality rate of Chinese food exports are above 99%," the report said.
Well, that's a comfort, yes?
Just 1.3% of imported fish, vegetables, fruit and other foods are inspected — yet those government inspections regularly reveal food unfit for human consumption.
With only a minuscule percentage of shipments inspected, they say the nation is vulnerable to harm from abroad, where rules and regulations governing food production are often more lax than they are at home.
"FDA doesn't have enough resources or control over this situation presently," said Mike Doyle, director of the University of Georgia's Center for Food Safety, which works with industry to improve safety.
Last month alone, FDA detained nearly 850 shipments of grains, fish, vegetables, nuts, spice, oils and other imported foods for issues ranging from filth to unsafe food coloring to contamination with pesticides to salmonella.
And that's with just 1.3% of the imports inspected. As for the other 98.7%, it's not inspected, much less detained, and goes to feed the nation's growing appetite for imported foods.
FDA inspections focus on foods known to be at risk for contamination, including fish, shellfish, fruit and vegetables. Food from countries or producers previously shown to be problematic also are flagged for a closer look.
Last year, inspectors sampled just 20,662 shipments out of more than 8.9 million that arrived at American ports. China, which in one decade has become the third-largest exporter of food, by value, to the United States, sent 199,000 shipments, of which less than 2 percent were sampled, former officials with the agency said.
Less than 2% of a specific subset of food imported from China was inspected last year.
1% of total chinese food imports were turned back.
I leave as an exercise for the reader how confident they should feel about the other 99 percent.
Amused: the WSJ article on this is accompanied by an online poll
Do you check the country origin when making everyday purchases? Share your thoughts.
Why this is amusing
Meat packers and other agribusinesses have formed a new lobbying coalition to block the U.S. Department of Agriculture from requiring meat to be packaged with a country-of-origin label.
The group — the Meat Promotion Coalition — has hired a lobbying firm that specializes in agricultural issues to make the case on Capitol Hill that country-of-origin labeling is too costly to implement.
Cargill, Tyson Food, the National Cattlemen’s Association and the National Pork Producers Council are among the nine members of the new coalition, which hired the firm Lesher & Russell.
In a twist, the American Farm Bureau Federation, which had supported mandatory country-of-origin labeling, or COOL, is now part of the coalition.
Critics already succeeded in delaying the implementation of the labeling rule — which would enable consumers to see whether their meat was 100 percent homegrown — by attaching an amendment to an omnibus appropriations measure in 2003.
Meat packers and large agribusinesses oppose the rule because they want continued access to imported meat, which is often cheaper, without facing any potential penalty in the marketplace from consumers who may think American meat is safer, said Tom Buis, the chief lobbyist for the National Farmers Union, a group of 300,000 farm and ranch families that wants mandatory country-of-origin labeling.
That was 2005. This is now
Unless the law is changed, or eliminated, country-of-origin labeling (COOL) will be enforced on beef and pork sometime this fall. The law has been on the books since the implementation of the 2002 farm bill. Forces that fear its implications have managed to delay it and are now making a last push to kill the program and have Congress start over. No one is going to get out of this unscathed, from producer to packer, as we are witnessing another "good idea" in concept that ends up in a "regulatory quagmire" that may not really benefit anyone.
Guess the WSJ hasn't heard. They don't really keep up with import and regulation issues.
Friday, June 29, 2007
Nostalgia Just Ain't What It Used to BeMany years ago, when I was in college, some friends who ran the college humor/literary 'magazine' (it was mimeographed, which tells you how long ago this was) did an issue with an enormous FUCK YOU on the cover. The provost, a preening martinet who was later forced to resign for misappropriating funds, confiscated all the copies. My friends went to a local ACLU lawyer, a veteran of the '60s, whose reaction was: "this is great--I haven't seen a FUCK YOU cover in years!"
On Wednesday, some guy who calls himself Mac Ranger--one of the dumbest wingnuts I've seen in a long time (seriously: he manages to misuse both rein and reign)--applauded Giuliani's flip-flop on Clinton, throwing in this bit of anachronistic idiocy:
Of course Clinton will beg to differ saying that his administration was actively trying to pork Monica, er, kill, Vince - er, Ron Brown…..hang on I’m thinking.Yes, that's right: he actually linked to the 'Clinton Body Count'. Vince Foster...Monica Lewinsky...good times.
Well anyway during his administration they were killing a lot of things, just not Al Qaeda.
A lot of us are (reasonably) nostalgic for the '90s. So are the wingnuts, in their own way. It's impressive how many of the '9/11 changed everything' brigade think the '90s never ended.
[And with that, I'm signing off to go on my own vacation. Thanks again to Roger for the opportunity to post here...my compliments to my fellow guest-bloggers...and for the rest of you, if you're in the neighborhood be sure to check out If I Ran the Zoo]
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Whiner of the Day: Ann CoulterWatch the video.
John Aravosis is right:
She walks around calling people "fags," mocking their dead children, wishing that they were murdered, then when people respond by saying "uh, you're kind of mean," Ann flips out over the level of venom that's directed against her.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Dumbass du JourYes, it's Jonah Goldberg again:
Why do I like Dick Cheney? Because at a time when everybody talks a big game about how they don't like people-pleasing politicians who live by the polls, Cheney is pretty much the only guy out there who walks the walk. He truly doesn't care what people think about him. I love that.Right. Because not giving a shit what the people think is really important in a democratic state.
In particular, I like his stance toward the media. His view of the Fourth Estate is a bit like that of a bull elephant annoyed by varmints shnuffling around his feet: He's not bothered enough to squish 'em ... yet.And Jonah will be right there applauding him when he does.
Jonah does, however, manage this tepid criticism:
Cheney's approach to government is ultimately counterproductive.Ouch! That's gotta hurt.
But the contempt for the public? The exterminationist fantasies about the press (yes, that's Jonah's speculation, but we know he's right)?
Those are the things Jonah likes about Cheney.
Update: in other
[Cross-posted at If I Ran the Zoo]
A Field Guide to Several Men Named Beck
Con: Appeared on "American Idol" with Kelly Clarkson.
Con: Belongs to some weird-ass cult religion.
Con: Dead, unfortunately.
Con: Inexplicably has both television and radio shows; is an unctuous preening asshole.
(Cross-posted at Yazoo Street Scandal.)
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
The Ultimate "Get"No, it's not Paris Hilton on the Larry King show—that's just sad. Dennis Perrin, whose blog you should bookmark right now (go ahead and do it, I'll wait) and read every day, somehow used his connections and powers of persuasion to land a rare and exclusive interview with God over at the Huffington Post.
And while Dennis never asked the question most of you want to know the answer to—boxers or briefs?—I think it's safe to say that they probably do quite a bit of free-ballin' up there in the celestial kingdom. Wouldn't you?
Still Incoherent After All These YearsOkay...try and make some sense out of this Richard Cohen column:
There are two ways to predict the winner of the 2008 presidential race: Check the polls or read some history....The history I have in mind is 1972....Just as it is hard to understand how the British ousted Winston Churchill after he had led them to victory in Europe in World War II, so it may be hard now to appreciate how Nixon won such a landslide while presiding over such a dismal war. In the first place, he was the incumbent, with all its advantages and with enormous amounts of money at his disposal. In the second place, back then the Vietnam War was not as unpopular as you might think -- or, for that matter, as the Iraq war is now. In 1972, almost 60 percent of Americans approved of the way Nixon was handling the war.Wh-huh? So 2008 is exactly like 1972, except for...y'know...every single detail being different?
On the other hand, it's not like the difference between 60% approval and 67% disapproval is significant enough to affect an election.
Cohen does go on to explain why the Republicans are going to win (and, implicitly, why 1972); it's all about the dirty fucking hippies:
Maybe more to the point, most Americans did not endorse the way the Democrats would handle the war -- nor the way the antiwar movement was behaving.Shorter Richard Cohen: the Democrats can't possibly win if they adopt the majority position on Iraq instead of the consensus position among centrist Beltway columnists.
Look, I'm no Democratic triumphalist. There are about a dozen ways the Republicans could win in 2008--and if you want to understand them, forget Richard Cohen and read what Steve M has to say.
Anyway, Roger's old friend Frank Luntz is back, and PBS has got him
According to an April 4 press release, Republican pollster Frank Luntz will participate in the Public Broadcasting Service's coverage of the June 28 Democratic presidential forum, which will be televised live and moderated by PBS host Tavis Smiley: "Immediate public feedback on the performance of the candidates will be conducted by noted pollster Frank Luntz, who will also appear on 'Tavis Smiley' on PBS the following evening to discuss his findings." Fellow pollsters have criticized Luntz, a longtime Republican strategist, for mischaracterizing the results of his research, as Media Matters for America has noted. The PBS press release does not mention Luntz's Republican ties, repeating a pattern in the media identified by Media Matters.Media Matters also points out that Luntz has professional issues of his own
As Media Matters has documented, Luntz's credibility has been a recurring issue. In 1997, the American Association for Public Opinion Research reprimanded Luntz for comments he made to the media regarding his polling work on the Contract with America, according to a 2000 Salon.com article. Similarly, Washington Post polling director Richard Morin reported in 2000 that the National Council on Public Polls "censured pollster Frank Luntz for allegedly mischaracterizing on MSNBC the results of focus groups he conducted during the  Republican Convention."Which is bad enough as far as it goes, but there's something else interesting about Mr. Luntz' "allegedly" non-representative focus groups which Mr. Morin for some reason chose not to mention in his story*
In a two-pronged assault on its own credibility NBC is reporting results of focus groups conducted by Republican pollster and consultant, Frank Luntz. On opening night of the convention he called the focus group’s utterances "representative" opinion...Hint:
While focus groups are useful for supplying context and nuance about a variety of issues or topics they are not a reliable gauge of public opinion on these subjects. Conclusions about what percentage of the general public holds a particular view, or any generalizations about the public, cannot be made from a focus group. Luntz talks about Republicans’, Democrats’ and independents’ opinions as though they applied to all members of those groups in the general public. In fact, those are only the opinions of those in his focus group. There is nothing scientific about these focus groups. They are more akin to a parlor game than to a public opinion poll.While many news organizations have their news polling conducted by non-partisan pollsters (or a bi- partisan pairing) Luntz is widely known for his work in behalf of Republicans. YROCK.com, a Web site and Internet service run by the National Young Republicans, sponsors the Luntz focus group.
helpfully advising us on effective political communications strategy in the Huffington Post, shared with us that Obama is childish and unserious, Boxer is crude, Pelosi is callous, Kennedy is flippant, Democrats are knife-wielding sound bite addicts who are vindictive and don't care about saving lives, and partisan rudeness is counterproductive**
*shorter Mr. Morin: That's a nice professional organization you people got there. Shame if something happened to it.
**He also promises no lines at the Nancy Pelosi kissing booth
Our Long National Nightmare Is OverChampagne and—why not?—cocaine for breakfast! Paris Hilton is free at last!
Or until the next time she gets arrested, that is.
In comments, readers are invited to submit their favorite anagram for the name of the Diva of Duh, with or without the aid of this gizmo. I can't decide which of these is my favorite, "Or Plain Shit" or "Hi Slit Apron."
Update: In comments, the redoubtable R. Porrofatto recommends using her full name, Paris Whitney Hilton. Cybelle takes that ball and runs with it, coming up with some good ones. I modified one of her suggestions to obtain "Nail this hot pro, plain sir."
Monday, June 25, 2007
Great Moments in JurisprudenceABC News reports:
A divided Supreme Court ruled Monday that schools can punish a student--without violating his First Amendment rights--when he promotes illegal drug use at a school event.The full story is here.
Writing for a 5-4 majority, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote: "We hold that schools may take steps to safeguard those entrusted to their care from speech that can reasonably be regarded as encouraging illegal drug use."
Despite repeated entreaties, Jesus could not be reached for comment.
(Cross-posted at Yazoo Street Scandal.)
ChronWatch WatchAs the old saying goes, there is no wingnut angrier than a wingnut living in the Bay area. Thus we have ChronWatch.
ChronWatch is the brainch...well, the creation of a particularly right-wing specimen named Jim Sparkman (and yes, he does live in San Ramon--how did you know?), who, after spending every waking minute of the last 30 years writing letters to the editor and getting maybe three of them published, discovered that thanks to the miracle of the intertubes he could become a Media Critic instead of just an embittered old crank.
And so he founded ChronWatch, to document and combat pervasive left-wing bias in the San Francisco Chronicle ("ChronWatch.com is a counter force to the liberal advocacy that is so dominant in today's media. The San Francisco Chronicle is critiqued as a prime example of media dedication to the liberal cause."). It's a really classy site--and by 'classy', I mean they have a 'Miracle pill halts disease!' ad smack in the middle of the front page.
It's too bad Sparky doesn't seem to be doing any writing for ChronWatch lately, because his columns are truly an experience. To read a piece by Sparky is to picture him in bathrobe and slippers drinking coffee and reading the Chronicle with cartoon steam coming out his ears, every section chock full of outrages, every page a fresh affront to his worldview. His work is full of adjective and insult and very little else; his logic, such as it is, is implicit rather than explicit and generally boils down to 'because I said so'. His ideological dedication was breathtaking: he could read a Pickleresque smear on the Democrats and declare it left-wing socialist propaganda. (For a sample of Sparkman's wit, see here.)
Sparky's absence, however, is filled by a stable of writers who apparently couldn't make the cut at Clownhall and so decided that Clownhall is just too liberal. We're talking the dregs of the dregs here, folks--writers who are hopelessly crazy and entertainingly inept.
At ChronWatch, you can find articles like What Is It With Jews and Guns? ("If liberals had their way and the Second Amendment was repealed, the only people in America with guns would be cops, criminals, and the military. Interestingly, of those particular groups, criminals are the ones liberals hate the least.") and Mrs. Clinton Discovers the Women with Needs Vote ("My guess is what many find alluring is her enthusiasm for redistribution of wealth schemes."). I guess Women Without Needs are all voting Republican?
There's Prove to Us That You're Still on Our Side, which despite its title is not about the Democrats and Iraq; no, it's about immigration ("Those elected to office need to prove to the American people that they are at least "on our side." A good way to do that is to immediately and successfully secure the borders."). As, less surprisingly, are quite a few of the pieces there--xenophobia being a staple for them as for better-known wingnuts.
They're not afraid to take on popular culture, as in The Price is Wrong, Rosie ("Rosie O'Donnell as emcee is a big step down for CBS: from Bob Barker's grandfatherly manner and superb business sense to Rosie's extremism and grandstanding."). Do they figure she'll hector contestants about gay marriage and 9/11 conspiracies? And what about the 'business sense' bit--do they think she'll put all the wrong prices on things? Read it and...well, still wonder about the latter.
My favorite, though, is a piece called Can America Survive Evolutionary Humanism?, which warns us that "Evolutionary Humanism is the most dangerous delusion thus far in history." Apparently 'secular humanism' has lost its shock value, so they had to re-brand; either that, or the Evolutionary Humanists are much more dangerous than the Secular Humanists who believe in biblical creation.
This one has it all: apocalyptic rhetoric ("If not stopped, as history warns us, this rapidly escalating downward process leads inevitably to totalitarianism, enslavement, and eventually mass murder"); a pseudo-rational classification system ("The primary denominations of Evolutionary Humanism are Cultural Marxism/Communism, Secular Humanism, Postmodernism, and Spiritual Communism"1); and pseudo-scholarly footnotes ("'The Black Book of Communism,' p. 752"); all in service of the proposition that
America, the "moral force that defeated communism" is on the verge of completely rejecting God, the natural order, and moral absolutes, and instead, embracing the godless religion of evolution, amorality, and the unnatural.Best of all, it has the Platonic ideal of batshit crazy wingnut non sequiturs:
Jeffrey Dahmer, a psychopath who cannibalized his victims, acted on Darwin's advice.It just doesn't get any better than this.
(More ChronWatch hijinks here.)
1The offshoots of these are among others, New Age/green environmentalism/Gaia, socialism, progressivism, liberalism, multiculturalism, and atheism. Now you know.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
When Idiots AttackThe good people at Shakesville have been hit with a denial of service attack for the past three or four days.
I'm sure it's just a coincidence that this attack came shortly after Melissa McEwan, Shakesville's founder and chief blogger, wrote a post making fun of some weird-ass cult religion that claims a few bad actors among its adherents. Yeah, probably no connection there at all.
Posting at Shakespeare's Sister, her former site, Melissa says that the Shakesville crew are trying to move their operation to a dedicated server, which should fix the problem. What she didn't say is that the fees associated with such a server will be substantial. If you can afford to, please consider showing her some financial love via her Amazon Honor System PayPage.
Once a Concern Troll, Always a Concern Troll
[Tom Hilton here, from If I Ran the Zoo. Many thanks to Roger for the opportunity to post here in his absence.]
Melinda Henneberger has some advice for the Democrats. Lots of it, in fact:
The standard response from Democratic leaders has been that anyone lost to them over [abortion] is not coming back — and that regrettable as that might be, there is nothing to be done. But that is not what I heard from these voters.10/5/05
Many of them, Catholic women in particular, are liberal, deep-in-their-heart Democrats who support social spending, who opposed the war from the start and who cross their arms over their chests reflexively when they say the word “Republican.” Some could fairly be described as desperate to find a way home. And if the party they’d prefer doesn’t send a car for them, with a really polite driver, it will have only itself to blame.
What would it take to win them back? Respect, for starters...As it turns out, you cannot call people extremists and expect them to vote for you....
Again and again, these voters said Democrats are too unwilling to tolerate dissent on abortion. It is a point of orthodoxy no more open to debate within the party than the ordination of women is in Rome.
And will Democrats ever get wise to the way Republicans, instead of imposing self-defeating litmus tests, manage to have it both ways on [abortion]? Even less likely.9/24/04
The Democrats are likely to lose the Catholic vote in November—and John Kerry could well lose the election as a result. It’s about abortion, stupid. And “choice,” make no mistake, is killing the Democratic Party.10/1/04:
When it comes to deciding when inconveniently comatose spouses or brutal murderers should be 'terminated,' both major political parties are inconsistent and hypocritical.Yup...the Democrats' opposition to state interference in the Schiavo case was just as hypocritical as Bill Frist's grandstanding on the Senate floor. Of course.
But the real punchline comes in a post-Katrina column in which she says:
Christian morality should be about responding to the wretched and loving the unlovable—not about other people’s sex lives.Right. Hence the obsession with abortion.
What a sap.