Friday, July 31, 2009

Asymmetrical warfare

Keith Olbermann attacks Bill O'Reilly.

Bill O'Reilly attacks the business of Keith Olbermann's bosses.

MSNBC sues for peace.

Fox is ideologically aligned with O'Reilly.

MSBNC is ideologically aligned with ... profits.

There is no journalistic alignment between liberal management and liberal content that matches Fox's alignment of conservative management and conservative content.

The New York Times? Don't make me laugh. Here's the pussy-footed way the Times characterizes O'Reilly: "conservative-leaning".

Yes, I'm aware that O'Reilly characterizes himself that way, but he's obviously a full-on wingnut propagandist, and only the modern big media could sweep that fact under the tattered, bullshit-stained rug of so-called balance.


If anyone knows how to game the fundraising system, it's Newtie. He made his bones playing fast and loose with campaign finance. He will find a way to convert tax-deductible contributions to a "non-partisan" bullshit "charity" into political funds. It's second nature for him.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cracking the Times

New York Times moderators have not been my friend. I think they're bending over backward to avoid my clear liberal bias. Today, however, I got through the filter once!

Still, my more substantive comment on another Krugman item hasn't been moderated yet, which means it's doomed, doomed I tell ya. So, in the interest of sweeping up every phrase I've ever written into the sausage of a blog, here it is, ripped untimely from its context:

Scott (#19) doesn't understand percentages. If a premium rises by 9.9% for a family of four, it rises by an average of 9.9% for each beneficiary. If Medicare expenditures rise by 8.8% for each beneficiary, that's obviously a comparable number.

The skeptics here do have a fact that their media sources (Fox?) are using to confuse them. Total Medicare expenditures have risen faster - because the number of beneficiaries has increased. But the ratio is still the right number to analyze.

Here's another proof of poor analysis from amdahlj (#5): "we would expect the rate of spending growth to be higher in the group that has a larger percentage of young people." Maybe this is satire, since it's a completely glaring fact that Medicare beneficiaries are older, sicker, and need more care than the general population. They have to be older than average; there's a minimum age.
Italics added here.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

All Internet traditions

Now's a good time to remember the glory days of Media Whores Online, which in its time was an island of snarky sanity in a Water World of horseshit. Of course, the busted reporter has allegedly graduated to pimping.

Why we're doomed

Our culture is drowning in bullshit.

We're actually spending precious time disserting on what beer our President is drinking. We're doing man-in-the-street interviews about Gov. Deval Patrick's black lab puppy's trips to the corner office on Beacon Hill. We're listening to job-hunting advice that puts personal branding above, you know, ability.

None of this is about the important questions we face. Health care? The economy? Boring.

This is why we're a culture in decline. Asia deserves to be ascendant.

Vitter on values

David Vitter watch, day 748. On this auspicious day, Vitter (R-Bordello) lectures caucus-mate George Voinovich on adherence to conservative values:

"I'm on the side of conservatives getting back to core conservative values," Vitter told the Washington Times. "There are a lot of us from the South who hold those values, which I think the party is supposed to be about. We strayed from them in the past few years, and that's why we performed so badly in the national elections."
Strayed! He used the word strayed. The Senator with the hookers in his closet - more than once - thinks Voinovich is the problem for his party.

I couldn't in good conscience put bullshit like this into fiction - too ridiculously unrealistic. If Vitter had a conscience, this sort of topic would shame him into silence.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Reaping what we've sown

Three cheers for bipartisan bullshit!

Uh, no way.

Click image for full Steve Artley cartoon.

Wasting asset

You figure out which one is the wasting asset.

Click image for full Joel Pett/Lexington Herald-Leader cartoon.

Monday, July 27, 2009


The problem: Nearly all Republicans and many blue dog Democrats are opposed to health care reform. They are unwilling to do anything that might provide universal health care. The Republicans' opposition stems from the fear that people might actually like the public option. The conservative Democrats' from the fear that their constituents might vote them out of office before they find out they like it.

This loose coalition of conservatives can't come right out and say they oppose reform, but their every behavior shows it. Without a real public option, anything labelled health care reform is fakery. Mitch McConnell knows what he's doing. So does Jim DeMint.

As Nancy Pelosi says, insurance companies have had long enough. They have provided no progress toward universal coverage at all. Paul Krugman argues that the market fundamentally cannot provide universal coverage (although you'll notice he does not say that market mechanisms are completely useless).

Unfortunately, the prognosis is starting to look grim. There doesn't seem to be a working majority for any significant reform, so we may get a few portability fixes and big giveaways for the insurance industry.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Did you want on the ark?

Click image for full Tom Toles/Washington Post cartoon.

Smelling salts, Jeeves!

Click image for full Bruce Beattie/Daytona Beach News-Journal cartoon.

Upside down

Click image for full Peter Dunlap-Shohl cartoon.

Financial innovation

Click image for full Elena Steier cartoon.

Hey Boo-boo

The most fascinating fact in this fascinating report on Eastern Black Bear intelligence is:

[Yellow-yellow] now appears to have apprentices; campers have reported seeing other bears getting into their BearVaults.
While this speculation is not proven, it's very credible that bears learn from each other. They are very intelligent creatures. Yellow-yellow may not actually need to teach other bears. Upon seeing her succeed, the other bears learn that it's possible to open a bear canister, and that knowledge alone is a powerful goad to keep trying.

Nature is filled with highly adaptive species. We should never think we're the only ones who think.

Seven and a half years

This story of the experience of Marines in Afghanistan is high-quality, fact-based journalism. It's not the first good story in seven and a half years, but I'm still hungry for more well-delivered reality. To the big media: This is what you can do that no one else can do.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Yo mama Pyongs her yang

Hillary Clinton makes a few mildly derisive comments about North Korea:

"small children and unruly teenagers and people who are demanding attention."
The PRK, which could teach even Rush Limbaugh a thing or two about incendiary bullshit, responds with ironclad proof that Hillary is spot on:

At a meeting of southeast Asian nations in Phuket, Thailand, a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman blasted Clinton for what he called a "spate of vulgar remarks unbecoming for her position everywhere she went since she was sworn in," according to the state-run KCNA news agency.

The spokesman called Clinton "by no means intelligent" and a "funny lady."

"Sometimes she looks like a primary schoolgirl and sometimes a pensioner going shopping," the statement said.
There are lots of possible rejoinders appropriate for middle school. How's that sticks and grass diet working out? Gooood haircut - you still using the Flowbee? Pointing and giggling would also be fun.

But, alas, we're the grown-ups here. Hillary can't even laugh and say, "At least they didn't call me a bitch."

It might be reasonable to mention that this sort of behavior is why we don't want them holding nukes. North Korea, putting the MAD back into nuclear policy! Socialist workers paradise? I'd hate to see hell.

Politicizing the undeniable

President Obama says it was stupid to arrest Henry Gates in his own home after he proved it was his. Can anyone in full possession of the facts and faculties deny this?

Well, the Republicans can, but they may not be in full possession. After all, they politicize the issue and yet:

While [National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesshill Brian] Walsh said the NRSC is not seeking to politicize the issue, it does ask people to donate to the NRSC. And it is an opportunity for the NRSC to collect email addresses for future political undertakings such as fundraising.
Update: By the way, I certainly don't mean to imply that stupidity is the exclusive province of the Cambridge Police. Gates has his own escalation to answer for. He could have kept himself out of jail. But arresting someone in his own home on the bullshit charge of disorderly conduct because he yelled at a policeman? Yelled at! Too much...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Occam's Razor

Now, everything makes sense!

Click image for full Ruben Bolling/Salon cartoon.

Tooling along

The road to hell is paved with bad intentions, too. But at least the private sector can make some money off those.

Click image for full Joe Heller/Green Bay Press-Gazette cartoon.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Evidence of political perversion

Bank lobbyists don't automatically have a vote in Congress, yet the expectation of media - rational to be sure - is a contest between those lobbyists and the overwhelming majority party. The New York Times headline over a Reuters story:

Dems Vow Fight With Banks on Consumer Agency
Democrats need to man up and tell the bank lobbyists to shut up and go away. It's all they have to do.

How can this not be a walkover? How can it even be controversial to protect consumers and taxpayers from the rape and pillage of financial abuses?

Just sign the damn check

This bullshit, Bushist signing statement by Barack Obama is completely wrong and unconstitutional. Here is the Constitution's actual view of the power of the purse:

The Congress shall have Power ...

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
This is not even slightly gray. Congress has the power to specify how its appropriations are used. Otherwise, why bother with budgets - just give the executive all the money.

Maybe Republicans will now understand why these self-exemptions from lawful acts of Congress are so corrosive of the rule of law. Nah, after keeping silent about Duhbya's similar and much more wide-ranging abuses, they'll just use it for unprincipled political advantage.

The only people in Washington who have consistently objected to this Presidential imperialism are liberals.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Party animals

Click image for full Abell Smith cartoon.

Follow the nose

Click image for full Signe Wilkinson cartoon.

Devil take the hindmost

Conservatism in many cases is not just an ideology; it's a personality. Many conservatives are bitter, angry, fearful misanthropes. (Yes, of course, I know conservatives who are not this way.)

For the unemployed, they have no sympathy, only blame. (By the way, unemployment benefits max out around $33,000 a year.) For bright young hikers who survived on their wits, they have resentment.

At the extreme, for them there is no us, just a me, and everyone else is undeserving.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Why liberals think Republicans harbor racists

Because they do.

See what sticks

GOP to health care reform: Drop dead!

Joe Conason is right on when he says bipartisanship is for suckers:

Individual Republicans in both the House and the Senate may well share the concerns of Democrats about the rising costs and diminishing accessibility of health insurance, but as a matter of policy, their party is bluntly opposed to any real reform. ...

Listening to Republicans and their pet pundits on Fox News, CNBC and talk radio, it quickly becomes clear that the conservative objective is not to fashion a solution acceptable to both parties, but to obstruct. ...

So much for bipartisanship, a vanishingly rare commodity that is of no value to the Republicans, who know that voters will credit the Democratic majority for reform whether the minority offers support or not. What the Democrats need to understand is that there can be no cooperation without sincere partners. Among the opposition on Capitol Hill there are no such partners. ...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Friendly takeover

See Andy Borowitz on important Wall St. liaisons.

Point of privilege

Click image for full Signe Wilkinson cartoon.

Thrust to wait

Of what use is a newborn babe?

Click image for full Nate Beeler/Washington Examiner cartoon.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Party crashers

Any political coalition large enough to elect a President has internecine conflicts. While the Democrats' differences have been starkly visible for all of the past fifty years (remember when the House wanted a veto-proof majority against Jimmy Carter?), Republicans have been better at closing ranks and presenting a unified front to the world.

Remarkably, despite their thorough beatings the last two election cycles, Congressional Republicans are still united in fealty to discredited economic ideology (low taxation of the wealthy solves all problems) and to anti-sex social conservatism. Sure, there have been prominent dissenters from the GOP party line in the Senate, but the hold of Delayism over the party is choking and almost complete even with John Boehner running it.

Outside Congress in the semi-real world, however, Republican electoral losses have turned the smug self-satisfaction of 2004 into wild unpredictable panic. Who's going to run the party? Surely not Rush Limbaugh, although the wealthy owners of the GOP believe he's still in their camp and know they can't afford to offend him.

Michael Steele is certainly not going to run the GOP. Since he lacks a national constituency, he never was. He was a seat-warmer from the beginning, a way of kicking the can down the road while the factions prepared for their confrontation.

Sarah Palin, who as a world class narcissist is a couple of standard deviations beyond even the commonly narcissistic run of politicians, thinks she should be in charge. That would be hysterical if it weren't so scary.

Palin looks like a threat to take her "gun-toting, churchgoing, working-class whites" and go to a new party, uh, vanity candidacy. I've often advocated a new conservative party to supplant the Republican Party, which I view as irredeemable, but Palin's loose coalition of Idiocrats is not the responsible center-right counterbalance I hope for. A successful Palin party would end the United States (not that I think its success would be likely).

The GOP elites that Rick Perlstein reports on in Newsweek are not the elites that matter. What matters is funding, and Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, and David Brooks are recipients of funding, not nearly so much originators of it. They disagree about Palin, and that's fun to watch, but that's more about the media and general election politics than it is about internal power struggles.

What we're really seeing is the tension that was always there between the three major factions of the GOP. The policies that have really mattered to the party have benefited the wealthies. The bullies and the fundies have had to do with table scraps, and they've noticed again that they don't get the respect they believe they deserve. As always, Grover Norquist's anti-tax management faction has to find a way to pacify the Republican rank and file, who are full of people who don't benefit from Republican economic policies.

Conservative so-called intellectuals don't actually matter in this fight. They are tools to shoehorn propaganda into the media. Perlstein gives them outsize importance.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Who's gonna stand up for a white fellow?

This is really, really funny.

(h/t John on Eschaton)

Principled conservatives

Convictions for sale! We rationalize ideology for money!

No media outlet should ever again accept an opinion piece from the American Conservative Union or David Keene.

But they happily will.

(h/t Atrios)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Illegitimi non carborundum

Mocking mock Latin while mocking the Senate's confirmation follies. Yeah!

Click image for full Matt Wuerker/Politico cartoon.

Health care bill - How bad is it?

Fair and balanced headline courtesy Fox TV. They really don't even try anymore.

Since I've already thoroughly discounted the chance of ever getting an unbiased fact from Fox, why did I see this headline? The TV in the cafeteria at work was busy stove-piping the propaganda.


I was all set to defend Republican Senator Tom Coburn. Sure, he's way out there on everything, but the first clip I saw of his Ricky Ricardo moment when questioning Sonia Sotomayor seemed to be discussing a hypothetical and legally suspect response by someone other than Sotomayor to a less than immediate threat. I was all set to take the media to task for trimming the quote to make it worse.

Uh, no. He did indeed direct his comment at Sotomayor.

Of course, it was bad enough even when I thought he only happened to retreat to stereotype.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


On health care, the Republicans want to do nothing:

Republicans on the panel, who voted unanimously against the measure, described the idea of a new public insurance option as a deal-breaker.
The lack of a public option would be the deal-breaker for health care reform.

Update (7/18): Barack has my back...

Number one sign

Number one sign your blogger is getting lazy: Lots of links and slender reeds of commentary.

This does not mean your blogger is going away. See also Atrios.

But after two years of one-person blogging, management and labor have agreed across the corpus callosum to cut each other some slack around here.

Of course, tomorrow there might be a story so interesting I have to spend 1000 words on it.

See figure 1

Click image to see figure 1 rendered in a Pat Bagley/Salt Lake Tribune cartoon.


Make my funk the P-Funk!

Click image for full Matt Bors cartoon.

Why is Fred Thompson spamming me?

Fred, I'm not interested, never have been. I know you need something to keep you busy in your retirement. Did you ever consider needlepoint? Star of MP3 - isn't that quite a comedown?

I'm going to try the unsubscribe link, see if that gets yet another yammerhead out of my inbox.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Talk to the invisible hand

Click image for full Tom Tomorrow/Salon cartoon.

Why not brag about it

The Bushists, led by Darth, had a plan to kill Osama bin Laden, and they didn't want to crow about it, even to a handful from Congress? Uh, right. That totally makes sense.

More likely - though of course sheer speculation on my part - this is the cover story to quiet inquiries into the real secrets.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Bipartisanship is conservative

Click image for full Jimmy Margulies cartoon.

CIA/media follies

This Time report is what is technically known as wild-ass guessing. The program Darth Cheney reportedly protected was either assassination or it was domestic surveillance. Or it was unworkable and cancelled in 2008, I mean 2004, no biggie, move along, nothing to see.

Anyone can guess: How about enough resolution in satellite imagery to do facial recognition? (Why look straight down? Enemy of the State showed the problems with that.)

C'mon, give it a try! It's fun and easy, and there's no accountability for being wrong.

Enough bullshit! What we need from the media is not to print every goddamned unverified superficial rumor they hear. What we need is research, reporting, sourcing, and truth.

A bit of memory wouldn't hurt either. Could this "new" story relate to the unpursued Bob Woodward rhetorical bombshell of September 2008? Yes, at the time, I leaned to technology, too, since Woodward likened it to the Manhattan Project.

In any case, we still don't know.

Hall of mirrors

CNN pimps for Liz Cheney. How else to explain this recycled item?

Here's the two-month-old rendition:

Look closely. It's the same story by the same author, both based on watching Fox, but today's item refers to the May item in both structure and content.

Lauren Kornreich is clearly a hack. Neither of these stories is worthwhile, neither has any rationale for Cheney as a candidate rather than an appointee, and neither has any response whatsoever from anyone who might raise such doubts. I've got to give this to Kornreich: She got paid twice for the same flaccid piece of writing.

Click images to see full original stories. Original. I crack myself up.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Timing Matalin would accept


That would be good timing for the Bushists. Till then? No investigations of Darth Cheney arrogating to himself the power to abridge the Constitution.

More a commie vegan

Well, the geniuses in big media have exercised their right to keep me from sending them links that actually work, so I'm sending my loyal (and disloyal) readers off to the Washington Post comics page for the last time. Pity, that. You'll have to search for the July 12, 2009, "Get Fuzzy". Trust me, it's funny.

Click image for the frustrating chore of searching for a full Darby Conley cartoon that would otherwise be a source of ad revenue at your destination. Oh, well.

Update: Here, on the other hand, is the opportunity to embed the entire strip. Go figure.

Get Fuzzy

Remorse by the numbers

Waiting for David Vitter...

Click image for full Dan Wasserman/Boston Globe cartoon.

Plantation mentality

A plantation is a place where crops are planted. Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, yes, did have slavery, as did the entirety of the colonies, including Massachusetts. It's not just my favorite Virginian, Thomas Jefferson, who was a hypocrite on human bondage.

To change a name because someone is ignorantly offended, even a 90-year-old man who has suffered real offenses, would be to accede to the triumph of feelings over reality. Could we just change the name because the long form is no longer useful, instead of from some trumped up word association game?

Operation Blackbriar

We don't know what this program was. They tell us it wasn't waterboarding or the other torture methods. (You do realize that "harsh interrogation methods" is a euphemism worthy of the Nazis or the Soviets, right?) They tell us it wasn't the massive surveillance that essentially rendered the Fourth Amendment so much empty language.

They also tell us that it was never an "operational" program, even after nearly eight years. Oh, bullshit. To believe that, you'd have to have your head buried so far up your ass that it would be looking out your navel.

Dick Cheney, the true power of Duhbya's maladministration, ordered this program kept secret from Congress, kept immune from the oversight of democracy. He explicitly evaded the rule of law. (Again!) This was - and still is - the canonical impeachable offense. It's also a violation of his oath of office.

There is no way that Darth Cheney would have been interested enough in "planning and some training that took place off and on from 2001 until this year" to suppress disclosure of it. The New York Times is playing along to even print such nonsense.

Note: In all the wingnut foofaraw about Nancy Pelosi accusing Leon Panetta of lying about the CIA's legal obligations to brief Congress is the most obvious bullshit. Panetta did not say the CIA always briefed Congress in compliance with its legal obligations. He said that it was not the CIA's policy to withhold legally required briefings. Is everyone in the media too dense - or too happy to play along with the inside game - to notice this?

(h/t Boston Globe, where I first read the Times report on this)

Saturday, July 11, 2009


The common thread of Bill Kristol's advocacy: A completely incompetent politician is the perfect Republican figurehead. J. Danforth Quayle, Duhbya, Sarah Palin.

A truth that deeply needs repeating: There is no reason, not the slightest breath of a reason, to believe any position whatsoever that Bill Kristol advocates. He is a proven and virtually uninterrupted purveyor of frumious bullshit.

Talk to the hand

The Chinese government is an authoritarian government. It may have abjured the command economy, but it's sticking with the command polity.

The open society is better for its citizens.

Click image for Signe Wilkinson/Philadelphia Daily News cartoon.

Republican policy wonk

No, not Newt Gingrich. Newt's strength is marketing the same old right-wing nostrums as if they might be something new. He's not going to move off of tax cuts as the be-all and end-all of the conservative movement. He's just going to dress that particular limp dick in edible underwear.

Charlie Baker (R-Swampscott) is the policy wonk of the hour, and he's going to get a lot less anonymous now that he has announced for governor of Massachusetts. There are a lot of idiots in the Republican Party (and in politics in general). He's not one of them.

I haven't talked to Charlie in a full thirty years - and if memory serves, we were probably talking about intramural volleyball. I didn't agree with his politics then and I don't now, but it's not stupid.

So, who loses from Baker jumping into the governor's race? Not Deval Patrick. He was already in trouble, and this doesn't make it worse.

The big loser is Tim Cahill. His political career is over. He split from the Democratic Party, aiming for a coalition of conservative Dems, independents, and centrist Republicans that are Baker's natural constituency. Cahill's best option now is to offer Baker his statewide network in exchange for ... what? I don't know. In any case, Cahill's network of conservative Democrats (by Massachusetts standards) might go independent, but GOP is an ideological bridge too far.

Christy Mihos loses, too. He still has money, so he can still run, but the GOP apparatus, such as it is, will rally behind Baker, since his pedigree is unassailable. If Mihos really has a jones to run again, he may be back in the independent column.

Kicking the can

I'm with Glenn Greenwald on war crimes. Punishing them deserves a lot more than lip service, which is all we're getting from President Obama.

My guess is that Obama decided he could have his political agenda or he could have legal accountability for the prolific crimes of Duhbya's administration, and he decided to work his agenda. Unfortunately, he seems to be getting neither.

For me, the rule of law is what the United States is about. We've tried before to welcome Republicans back to the straight and narrow, but they've repeatedly interpreted the lack of prison time as exoneration - Watergate and its associated abuses, Iran-Contra, and now all the megalomaniacal abuses of the Constitution of the Cheney years. If some of these people don't do hard time, they'll be back the next time the Republicans hold power.

Meanwhile, Democratic abuses that aren't even close to official crimes, even low ones, bring impeachment. Yet any attempt to investigate, try, and hopefully convict and punish Republican abscesses in the core of our legal system is roundly decried by media and Republicans alike as "criminalizing policy disputes." The absurdity of that claim is breath-taking.

(h/t Jay Ackroyd at Atrios)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Country songs

There have got to be at least a hunderd country songs in this sad little dust-up, starting with "Everybody Dies Famous in Wasilla". Unfortunately, they won't be good country songs. Miranda Lambert wouldn't sing this crap, much less write it.

Update: I really have to slap myself about this. Never mind the big media. What the hell are bloggers going to do without fish in a barrel like Sarah Palin? Seriously, it's Friday happy hour and there's nothing analytical to say. What am I going to do without lovely Sarah to kick around any more?

Of course, in a few weeks, she's going to be hosting an hour or two on Fox, making a million dollars a year (and bringing in numbers in the key demographic that make Bill O'Reilly apoplectic with jilted jealousy). They'll have her reenacting the bogus Stars and Stripes bikini pose with the rifle, and the 18 to 54 male share will go, schwing, through the roof. For wingnuts, anyway.

So I guess bloggers won't have to worry for long...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Bumper crop

Because I don't have time or energy to comment (today) on the Charlie Baker announcement, a cartoon...

Click image for full Bruce Beattie/Daytona Beach News-Journal cartoon.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

No Bushist affirmative action

It's a puzzle that the Bushists haven't taken care of Alberto Gonzales better than letting him work a public job in support of affirmative action! Usually they're very attentive to keeping their own fat and happy.

It's a good thing he's not teaching Constitutional law, anyway.

Next up, Michele Bachmann

Click image for full Tom Tomorrow/Salon cartoon.

He's gotta have it

... or I can't support his health plan.

Click image for full Pat Bagley/Salt Lake Tribune cartoon.

Missing the story

CNN reports that, ho hum, the Sarah Palin resignation circus left 70% of voters with the same opinion of her:

"Many Americans have deeply-held opinions about Palin as a result of the national campaign in 2008," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
Well, duh. Of course this is true. She's the most over-exposed media personality this side of the Michael Jackson funeral circus. (I guess there was a two-for-one special in burials this week.)

But Holland misses the point of his own poll. After ten months of intense coverage, Sarah being Sarah and trying incoherently and vacuously to explain her flight from office as something noble and self-sacrificing led 30% of voters to reconsider their opinions.

A poll that focused on that third of the electorate would have been much more interesting. Did they buy her pity party or not? Alas, CNN didn't ask and can't tell, although the totals suggest they didn't.

(As a matter of craven political self-interest, I'd also like to understand the 17% of so-called Democrats who would support Palin. Who the hell are they?)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Day late dollar short

Since I did Saturday's post yesterday, it seem only fair that I deliver Sunday funnies on Monday.

Click image for full Matt Bors cartoon.

How it works

I don't expect hagiography from straight news biographies of new Senators. I expect some attempt to measure the person fairly, and that has to include negatives. No one is an angel, not even Al Franken (as if).

Read this Franken bio on CNN, though, and you'll see that it is composed of two streams:

  • Straight narrative
  • and Republican talking points, shoehorned into the story by a stenographer
The Republicans' spot attacking Franken's comedy career? No rebuttal, not even an evaluation of its claims. Republican attacks over the "Porn-O-Rama" satire? No rebuttal, no context, no evaluation. Hey, it was in Playboy, it must be bad.

Finally, there's a Republican quote that needles Franken as the left's answer to Rush Limbaugh, as if Franken's opposition to Limbaugh necessitated symmetrical extremism. Nope, no response from a liberal. No context. Nothing.

This is how the big media thrust Republican propaganda.

The truth is this: The big media have accepted conservatives' bullshit working of the refs so that verifiable facts have to be "balanced" with Republican screeds. That explains a lot about conservative detachment from reality, but it's perilous for the country.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Just powers from the consent of the governed

Had I been within range of the Internet yesterday, I would have published this as a reminder of the Declaration of Independence.

These men, had they failed, would have been executed for treason. Instead, they despoiled the divine right of kings.

Click image for public domain notice.

Sound and fury

When a public figure has her attorney issue a press release about actionable defamation (PDF), everyone in the media knows it's just blustering bullshit, signifying nothing. New York Times v. Sullivan made sure of that in 1964 - actual malice in the form of knowing publication of falsehoods or reckless disregard of truth is hard to prove.

Maybe Sarah Palin is hoping the current activist right-wing Supreme Court will make law on her behalf. After all, it worked for Duhbya.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Beating the hell out of WaPo

I'm looking for journalism that's a few steps up from mere transcription of official remarks. The Washington Post seems to be having a lot of trouble with that lately.

I once was confident the Post would survive the current vicious shakeout. Now I'm not so sure. With

the Post is a hollow shell of its former self - and you don't even have to consider the neocon dominance that makes its editorial and op-ed pages irrelevant in the real world.

Here's one more small example in the death of a thousand cuts.

This CNN report on the Air France Airbus 330 crash over the South Atlantic is far clearer about what we know and what we don't know than this reprinted Washington Post story. The Post story, which is supposed to be straight news, is more concerned about reassurance than facts:
[T]he 216 passengers and 16 crew on AF447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris were probably unaware during their final minutes that they were speeding from 35,000 feet toward the deadly crash.
Even if the investigator implied this, which I doubt, it's bullshit. You can't fall that far without noticing that something is very wrong. I can't understand how any writer could fail to know this. He's a foreign correspondent, so he's been on a plane before. Surely he's noticed the tremendously more subtle but still plain-as-day moment when a plane starts its controlled descent.

The CNN story, although labelled an analysis, is factual and evinces the writer's prior knowledge:
Not only did the passengers have no reason to expect to ditch, but with the aircraft out of control it may have been impossible for them to reach them due to high G-forces.
What neither of them reports, presumably because the facts are still unknown or unproven, is what trajectory the aircraft took to its ditching point and whether it had any forward airspeed.

The one scenario I'm aware of that is consistent with what little we know is an uncontrollable flat spin to a pancake crash. My reasoning:
  • Landing belly down means the plane was not ballistic.
  • Vertical crushing means vertical speed dominated over forward speed.
Yeah, it's not much, and I don't know much about this subject, which is why I'd like to hear more from Kieran Daly. The Post? How is it relevant?

Browse this

Does Firefox run away on you? Happens to me all the time, and it's very frustrating. CPU spikes up to 99%, mouse clicks take 30 seconds to take effect, the fan runs high to disperse the smoke coming off the processor. Meanwhile, my laptop is unusable.

The culprit? Not Windows (except for its architectural - and false - assumption that processes are well-behaved). is the problem, usually in reaction to any of the Windows sleep modes that come after inactivity. Kill the tab that CNN occupies, and everything goes back to normal. You can even bring CNN back up.

Getting to the bottom of why, I leave to someone who knows more than I do.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Get behind Michele Bachmann

The wingiest of wingnuts, including Michele Bachmann and G. Gordon Liddy, are threatening to boycott the 2010 census because they received the long form or just because they believe in massive resistance to all government questions or maybe even because ACORN will apparently supply census workers. Never mind that this census will be the 22nd, dating back to 1790. Never mind that the detailed questions of the long form have several decades of precedent without any significant problems. Never mind that ACORN won't be canvassing wingnut neighborhoods.

Well, I'm all for the wingnut boycott. Best way I can see for Massachusetts to keep its delegation of ten at least reasonably liberal Representatives is for wingnuts everywhere to disappear themselves from the census rolls.

Full disclosure: A friend of mine has trained to be a census worker, though not through ACORN. [/snark]

Millions for slot machines, not a penny for tribute

Bill Bennett is betting on a GOP without Mark Sanford. But he ought to know how strong the conservative culture of self-forgiveness is.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Bunk and debunk

I'm all for casting a gimlet eye at popular myths and calling bullshit. But sometimes the skeptics replace one load of bullshit with another. (Yes, even me.) The life lesson is to read carefully always.

Here's a case where self-appointed bullshit detectors may not effect a net reduction in bullshit. Eleven myths? Let's see how these doctors did.

  1. Everyone with half a brain knows that viruses cause colds, but here's another repetition of medicine's favored myth: Maybe cold season is a result of people staying indoors in close quarters. Uh, bullshit! We're inside all the time year round. There's no doubt that the correlation of cold, damp weather with colds and flu is real. Medical science has no satisfactory explanation for that fact. Besides, if medicine had to give up correlation as a proxy, however poor, for causation, hardly any drugs could be deemed proven.
  2. Lack of efficacy of antibiotics against a green-mucus symptom doesn't speak one way or another to the existence of a sinus infection.
  3. When your feet are cold, put on your hat - one of my favorite maxims. It's still true, even if the 30% number deserves skepticism. Lots of people go bareheaded in winter. We also know that the brain is an energy-intensive organ.
  4. O.K. Milk makes you acutely phlegmy, but a little water should take care of that.
  5. Yep, well-known debunking.
  6. Hey, I never heard that one. Of course, the authors make a value judgement, and it's important to distinguish that from their evidence.
  7. O.K., fine. But married people who aren't having sex still can make a rational choice to try single sex again. No one faces this decision as a decision about aggregates. On average, I'm happy? Yeah, sure, I reason that way about my life.
  8. Kids are wild without the help of sugar-hype. Who knew!
  9. The desirability of bowel regularity is a half-truth because it's not required by a medical definition. That's as circular as a draining toilet.
  10. Physicians are very defensive about germ theory. People don't double dip because they think it's hygienic. They do it because they think they can get away with it. Mostly, they can (though, please don't).
  11. The study of the 5 second rule in fact showed that the faster you pick up your morsel, the less contaminated it is. An intelligent judgement should be relative: What's the threshold above which a reasonable immune system can't handle those bacteria? How much does a cleanish floor differ from a cleanish countertop? But no one who drops a cookie in the bathroom should eat it.
I won't pretend to score this up or down. The devil's in the details.