Sports! Robots!

The WaPo provides linked-ness, this morning:


Friday Roundup

Krugman SMASH!




Eric Alterman can be annoying, can be self-righteous, can be annoyingly self-righteous. Especially when he talks about Israel.

But the man is pretty perceptive, a great writer, and sometimes just hits on things with bell-ringing clarity:
One weakness of liberals is our inability to credit right-wingers with a sufficient degree of malevolence.
This is a mistake I used to make, but no longer. Time and again, the most paranoid conspiracy theories - the scenarios that assume the absolute worst imaginable from this junta - have proven, a few years, months, or weeks later, to be not just true but in fact woefully inadequate in describing the true awfulness of these people and their actions.

Please remember, as a starting point, that this administration had a chance, in 2002, to take out Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi - currently chief terrorist and organizer of terrorists in Iraq, killer of hundreds [each] of American soldiers, Iraqi civilians, Iraqi police, Iraqi security forces - but did not, as it would have undermined the case for war with Iraq.

Libruls' Fault

Yet another soul-searching, liberal-indicting Op-Ed today, this from Paul Starr in the NYT. Key passage:
...liberal Democrats ought to ask themselves a big question: are they better off as the dominant force in an ideologically pure minority party, or as one of several influences in an ideologically varied party that can win at the polls? The latter, it seems clear, is the better choice.
Yes, since over the last 25 years liberals have really been driving the agenda of the Democratic Party, and losing presidential elections with their preferred candidates.

Oh wait, that's not true at all. Over the last 25 years, liberals' preferred candidates have gotten smacked down by the establishment/moderate/etc. wings' candidates in the primaries every single time.

1980: Ted Kennedy
1984: Gary Hart
1988: Jesse Jackson (no guff about Dukakis actually being a liberal - he was not)
1992: Tom Harkin/Bob Kerrey/Paul Tsongas/etc.
2000: Bill Bradley
2004: Howard Dean

Not that all of those guys were liberals, but those were the candidates who got liberals' support in the primaries. And none of them were the nominee. Instead, each time (though perhaps not quite enough in 2000), liberals fell into line as they loyal foot-soldiers of the Democratic Party, burying their own issues in pursuit of the election of the Party's candidate.

I'm not saying we need to nominate liberals. What I am saying is: REST OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY, STOP FUCKING BLAMING US FOR FUCKING EVERYTHING UP, OKAY?

Thank you, please come again.


Kuttner v. WSJ: Fight!

Bob Kuttner, in his typical style, concisely and devastatingly destroys the idiocy of his target. Today, it's the WSJ editorial page (though what he says applies to pretty much the entirety of the inner circle of plutocrats they represent and defend):
It's clear that these people are without honor or shame
That's pretty much all you ever need to know about the WSJ editorialists, and today's Right more generally, but read the whole thing (like I said, it's concise [short]).

Nigerians to Banda Aceh

Never ones to lose an opportunity to cash in on human tragedy, the Nigerian scammers have started directing appeals based on tsunami relief:

Date Mon, 24 Jan 2005 10:00 AM ( 1 day 23 hours ago )
From qin_wang-1961@handbag.com
To undisclosed-recipients@, @
Dear Sir

My name is Mr.Wang Qin,a native of Banda Aceh, Indonesia.I got your information while browsing the internet in search of a reliable person that will assist me because of the problem my family have during the EarthQuake in Tsunami on December 2004.

My family were killed during the Asian Tsunami Disaster on 26 December 2004 and right now i am at Australian Military Hospital in Banda Aceh seek for your assitance for my father,s waelth because as soon as i get well from the hospital, i will not like to stay or live in asia any more as i don,t have any family here,This is because after the death of my family,I inherited all my father buisness and wealth.I was a Gold dealer in Deira "GOLD SOUK"meaning gold market in Sri Lanka.

At present, I am suffering from a long-time cancer of the brain and from all indications, my condition is realy deteriorating because doctor'e report shows that i may not live beyond six months from now. So, I now decided to divide part of this wealth,by contributing to the well being of the less privileged and handicapped around the world.

This mission, which no doubt is very tasking had made me to recently relocate from my family house to Sri Lanka where I live at present so i can avoid pressure and distraction from the shock. I selected you for this Purpose and prayed over it.At first, i did not know how to put up this request for asistance because I have been recieving scam mails from AFRICA.

However I feel I can trust you and I am willing to donate the sum of $7,800,000.00 Million US Dollars to you for the development and well being of the handicapped and less privileged around your country.I have also decided to map out $500,000.00 for your own personal expenses in the course of this work.

Please note that, this fund is currently deposited with a Finance organisation,But I can ask my Attorney to help file an immediate application for the transfer of the money in your name.

Futheremore, if you are willing to assit me on this request, Please kindly reply to me on this E-Mial Address(wang-qin-chow@execs.com) where my Lawyer will be in controll of our transection, Secondly,do not reply me if you have the intention of using this fund for personal use,other that what is mearnt for.

Lastly, I want you/family home to be praying for me as regards my entire life and my health because I have come to find out since my spiritual birth lately that wealth acquisition with out God, one's life is vanity upon vanity.

I await your urgent reply


Mr.Wang Qin.


What's truly remarkable - I never stop being amazed by this - is that these scams work.

Also note that - as with most internet scams (e.g., spyware advertising itself as anti-spyware software) - this scam attempts to innoculate itself by acknowledging the previous scams and distancing itself from them - "At first, i did not know how to put up this request for asistance because I have been recieving scam mails from AFRICA."


Cognitive Dissidents

The following sentence is such an unbelievable combination of words and meanings, that I am having real trouble believing I am actually about to type it, but here goes: There's a very perceptive column in today's Washington Times by Douglas MacKinnon, former press secretary to Sen. Bob Dole. The conceit is so simple, the logic so clear, and yet - if I were to write the same thing I would be dismissed as the crank loon that I am. [Ed. note - for the duration of this post, I will refrain from making the obvious comments about the Washington Times or the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, or cognitive dissonance/brain explosion of any sort, as they be necessary as a clause after pretty much every word].

So, here goes - keep in mind that this is Douglas MacKinnon, former press secretary to Sen. Bob Dole, and not me:
While all political eyes have recently and rightfully focused on CBS News and its blatantly biased reporting against George W. Bush, the media itself has been running from a potentially more damaging story to its reputation — a story that clearly shows that, instead of covering the Democratic primaries last year, the media altered their very outcome, and in the process, made John Kerry the Democratic nominee.
How? By systematically destroying the Dean campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire.
That was - just to be clear - Douglas MacKinnon, former press secretary to Sen. Bob Dole. Who then goes on to make the same point even more clearly, with a very ambiguous clause tacked on the end.
The media, not the voters, chose the winner of the 2004 Democratic primaries. Not only was this action unprofessional and completely unethical, but it had a direct impact on the general election.
What, exactly, are we to make of the phrase "direct impact on the general election"? Clearly, I've got some - well, one - idea(s), but I'll leave it to you, dear readers, to ponder what implications this might have.

Stuever on a Roll

The thing is, most of the best writing today still happens in newspapers. And most of the good writing in newspapers still happens in the few big papers - NYT, WaPo, LATimes.

A great example of this is the work of Hank Stuever, who I think is really emerging as one of the finer chroniclers of the current zeitgeist. Yeah, yeah, shaddup.

In the last week, he's done two absolutely amazing articles - one on the inauguration itself, and one on the more general police-state that Washington, D.C. has become. From the latter:
Since Sept. 11, 2001, people who don't live here have asked you what it's like: What's it been like in Washington? With the recount? With the attacks? With the war? With the election? With the protests? What's it like in Washington?

Usually you could shrug, and answer: Washington is like it always was, which meant that it never got the best of you. But high security made the city ugly and that's what got the best of you. It made people ugly, too. It shunned dissent and, in the name of freedom, restricted freedom. Badges, tags, tickets, identification papers. You started referring to the city as a police state, ha-ha. You turned your back, made plans to leave. The safer it gets, the grayer it feels.

And the former:

...near the Willard hotel on 14th Street, whiffs of pepper spray and breathless reports of a flag-burning. This is at once horrible and deliriously exciting, and the kind of thing you'd pay good money to be in the middle of.

And something else happens out here on the inaugural streets, something that never quite translates on TV: It's not the shouting so much as it's the muttering. The way the patriots make jokes about the hippies, but only barely audibly. The way someone throws a snowball at a cowboy near 10th Street, and then won't own it. It's the weariness of the great American divide. The bored teenager forced to walk around with her dad and his giant dead-fetus poster; the peacenik nibbling glumly at her whole-grain bagel.

The streets of mutual disdain -- a 21st-century set piece. Over there, on the other side of the fence, you hear the parade announcer say something about one nation under God, but you'd swear it's much better out here, on this side of the fence, where things aren't quite so clear. The motorcade finally passes, or what you can see of it. The protesters turn their backs on Bush, but really it was about everybody turning his back on something, someone, some other American's unacceptable ideas.

I rode home on the Metro the night of January 19, which was both the one-year anniversary of the Iowa caucuses (and, yes, The Scream) and the eve of the inauguration. Which meant it was the night of the Black Tie and Boots Ball. Stetsons, smug smiles, and dead animal in many different way were de rigeur. One friend loudly verbally assaulted the Texas flag tie-and-cumberbund wearers, the women in unimaginable amounts of fur; another friend and I loudly discussed our childhood in Russia (appropriately accented, much to the amusement of at least the young woman sitting in front of us) and the not-really-manly American cowboy who came to visit; another friend puked right before our stop.

His reaction, really, was the correct one.

Welcome to Russia, Where Things are Always Getting Worse!

AP sez:

MOSCOW -- A group of nationalist Russian lawmakers called Monday for a sweeping investigation aimed at outlawing all Jewish organizations and punishing officials who support them, accusing Jews of fomenting ethnic hatred and saying they provoke anti-Semitism.
Echoing anti-Semitic tracts of the Czarist era, the letter's authors accuse Jews of working against the interests of the countries where they live and of monopolizing power worldwide. They say the United States "has become an instrument for achieving the global aims of Judaism."

"It is possible to say that the entire democratic world today is under the monetary and political control of international Judaism, which high-profile bankers are openly proud of," the letter says.




Long-time readers of this blog (both of you) will know already that I'm a big fan of Joel Achenbach. Which is why I was very excited last week when I found out that he now has a blog, chat and column, all of which debuted in the last few weeks.

I was, however, dismayed by his column Sunday (linked above), and told him so in no uncertain terms. He was gracious and wrote back addressing my concerns - as he had done the one other time I had written him, worked up in a fine lather over somesuch thing. But, read the column for yourselves, and see what you think.


On Language

I was just listening to "Talk of the Nation," and the head of the Dallas NAACP was on as a guest. In talking about the NAACP's relations with the Bush administration, he used the phrase, "call a spade a spade."

Am I the only one who finds it just a little bit, y'know, strange that that particular person used that particular phrase?


And in dinosaur-related news...

...as it turns out, mammals ate dinos. True story.
Way to go, mammals!


Shrum Retiring; NYT Too Generous

How so? In describing his record as "mixed"? No - here:
If he had stuck with Jimmy Carter in 1976, he would have had one victory under his belt. But he grew disenchanted with Mr. Carter and quit just nine days after joining his campaign.
That's really underestimating Shrum's unGolden touch - it's entirely possible that had he stuck with Carter, Jimmah would still be making mortgage payments on the peanut farm and not answering to "President."


Something Else to Read

via Alterman, is Ron Sider's latest article at ChristianityToday.com. Truly. The article is "The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience," and while it's tempting to get up on a high horse about pious hypocrites, it's nice to see a reasoned - and clearly pained - investigation of that hypocrisy from within the evangelical community (Sider is the President of Evangelicals for Social Action).

Not incidentally, in a previous work circumstance I had the pleasure of meeting and hearing the very well-reasoned opinions of Mr. Sider, and found him to be an admirably - and accurately described as - Christian man.


Do not read MyDD today. Perhaps you weren't planning on it - stick to that plan. Otherwise - just don't read it. I will not discuss why, I will not link to what you shouldn't read.

If you're getting itchy already, just go read James Wolcott's archives, 'cause I know you haven't been keeping up.


"Caught off guard"

via MyDD:
"We were caught off guard by this perennial Republican attack-dog mentality," says Bill Richardson, the governor of New Mexico and a potential 2008 presidential candidate, reflecting on 2004. "We've got to find ways to develop our own."
I'm sorry, but CAUGHT OFF GUARD?!? Jeez, Bill, and I liked you. Just when, exactly, were you "cuaght off guard" by it? 1968? How about 1972? Or perhaps 1980? Or '84? I mean, I can go on here, and I will - how about 1988? Maybe 1992? And 1996, were you caught off guard in 1996? Then in 2000, also? And, incredibly - I mean, if I'm catching your meaning here, Bill, and correct me if I'm wrong - you were also caught "off guard" in 2004?!?

I really and truly just cannot believe he said that - and, apparently, means it. What do you need, Bill - do you need Karl Rove to come to your house, personally, and kill your pets, while telling you that he's doing it, and having a notary present to certify in a legally binding document - to be prepared for "this perennial Republican attack-dog mentality", and not be "caught off guard." Or would, you know, paying attention a little do it?

Don't answer that question.


Schaedenfr...Aw, Screw It, This is Just AWESOME!

The AP reports:


Social Security: All You Need to Know

As this post over at TAPPED says in a lot more words, what the Bush administration is proposing is pretty simple: benefit cuts combined with higher taxes for the middle class. That's it. Well, no, that's not it - it gets a lot worse, even (e.g., enormous borrowing), but that's all you really need to say about what the Bushies are doing - higher taxes on the middle class, combined with lower benefits. Doesn't seem to make a lot of sense, does it? Well, it does if your agenda is to destroy people's faith that the government can do anything (good) for them.


"With It"

I have no really good way of introducing this, but here's "The List" from the WaPo:

The List

Notice anything weird? Yeah. There's no designation of what's "In" and what's "Out", so reading it becomes either an exercise in pop culture awareness or a Dadaesque poetry recital.

There's also a Web-enhanced version, which of course makes a heckuva lot more sense, parrotting as it does the look and feel of the actual print version.

My question is - whey do they even bother with the plain-text version of what is almost exclusively a graphically-based feature?

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