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31 May 2010

The Muppets Do Memorial Day



Ah, Sam The Eagle. One of my favorite Muppets.

Memorial Day



I hope that you have a great day today. But, please do remember what the day is all about...

My humble thanks to all of those who have served, and those who continue to serve.

30 May 2010

Sunday Morning Music




Okay, so it's Sunday Afternoon Music today. Unless you are in Hawaii. It's still morning there... aloha.

Today's music is courtesy of Curtis Mayfield, arguably most well-known for his work on the movie Superfly. This particular Mayfield song may sound somewhat familiar. "Move On Up" was used as a sample in -- and essentially the basis for -- Kanye West's 2006 hit "Touch The Sky".

I don't feel that I'm going too far out on the proverbial limb when I tell you that Mayfield's version is much better.

Also, if you are looking for a more mellow arrangement, the French group The Dynamics give it a go. Very smoooooth.

29 May 2010

Tweekend

A new-ish element has made an appearance here on the blog.

For the past few months (ever since my failed attempt at a new 'featured' section), I've noticed that the featured post scrollie-thingie works only on occasion. It has been inconsistent in its operation.

So, I scrapped it in favor of a more simplistic idea: a magazine styled feature content section. The good news is that this new element requires no Javascript, so it will always appear correctly. Nice.

Comments and compliments are welcome, as always.

Oh, and after waiting far too long to do so, I have updated my portion of the 'about' page.

Saturday Morning Cartoon

Finish up your Wheaties -- it's cartoon time!

28 May 2010

The Sestak Saga, Ctd.


From the Department of Reason and Moderation we have Mona Charen, writing at The Corner:
FWIW, I think these hunts for criminal wrongdoing are excessive and unhealthy. The Democrats do it incessantly to Republican office holders. That much having been said, this administration explanation seems quite lawyerly. And what can Sestak do, deny it? If he does, he thoroughly alienates himself from the Obama White House as well as many loyal Democrats. He answered a question honestly once and it's caused no end of trouble.
You won't get any argument from me.

'Knight And Day'



I have a strong dislike for Tom Cruise. However, I must admit that this flick looks pretty cool.

... though I have been wrong before ...

Quote Of The Day (UPDATED)



“I'll tell you this — if you do build a mosque, I hope somebody blows it up. I hope the mosque isn't built, and if it is, I hope it's blown up, and I mean that.” -Houston radio host Michael Berry on his show Wednesday on KPRC-950 AM, advocating for the destruction of a yet-to-be built mosque near Ground Zero in New York City.

You read correctly, this... err... gentleman is calling for religious violence against a house of worship that hasn't even been built, much less approved for construction.

I don't care where the proposal is for this thing, it is completely abhorrent that a presumably rational person would suggest something like this... on. the. air. I understand that emotions surrounding this debate are/will be high -- hell, I'm not even sure that I agree with anything being built at Ground Zero -- but what Berry and others like him are suggesting is pure poppycock.

And while Mr. Berry doesn't have nearly the audience of someone like Glenn Beck, the principles involved are still the same. See our previous discussion.

UPDATE:: Mr. Berry has now apologized:
While I stand by my disagreement of the building of the mosque on the site, I SHOULD NOT have said “I hope someone blows it up.” That was dumb, and beneath me. I was trying to show “Tony” how much I opposed his opinion, but I went too far. For that, I apologize to my listeners.
My hat is off to Berry for doing the right thing. At least he had the cojones to admit his stupidity.

Birther Watch, Ctd.

Check please:
Obama, according to Manning and his fellow conspiracy wonks, never attended Columbia, despite the university’s claim that he graduated in 1983. Obama was working as a CIA operative in Pakistan at the time, Manning claims.

Manning dropped the more serious treason and sedition charges against Obama, because they can result in a death sentence. That would have made it harder to get a conviction if any of the 13 jurors was squeamish at the thought of the president being executed.

Among the witnesses that Manning presented was former Libertarian Party vice presidential candidate Wayne Allyn Root, who repeated the less-than-stunning revelation — made earlier in a magazine story — that he attended Columbia at the same as Obama and had the same major but had never heard of Obama. No one else he knew from that era at Columbia had heard of him either.

Not called as a witness, however, was Phil Boerner, who told The New York Times last year that he was Obama’s roommate at Columbia and went to breakfast, bars, museums and bookstores with him. The nonpartisan FactCheck.org points out that Obama had an article published in the university’s magazine in 1983, the year he graduated.

As for Obama being a onetime CIA operative, Manning’s said that he received a letter from a former KGB agent (who was also a double agent for the CIA) stating that Obama worked for the spy agency in Pakistan from 1981 to 1985. Manning also claimed that the CIA was going to kill him last year, but rescinded the hit.
It gets more and more bizarre as the days/weeks/months progress. Someone needs to get these folks some medication... pronto.

Head nod: LGF

The Case Against Linda McMahon

Nancy Scola at TechPresident asks a great question: will Richard Blumenthal be able to get traction with the videos that Rob Simmons left behind in his primary race against Linda McMahon?

Videos like this one:



I know that B-Diddy is a big Linda McMahon supporter (if for no other reason than she is married to WWE legend Vince McMahon), but I haven't been following the Connecticut senatorial race much at all. Any thoughts out there (other than Blumenthal should avoid talking about military service)?

The Sestak Saga

First there was:
Rep. Joe Sestak (D., Pa.) said yesterday that the White House offered him a federal job in an effort to dissuade him from challenging Sen. Arlen Specter in the state's Democratic primary.

The disclosure came during an afternoon taping of Larry Kane: Voice of Reason, a Sunday news-analysis show on the Comcast Network. Sestak would not elaborate on the circumstances and seemed chagrined after blurting out "yes" to veteran news anchor Kane's direct question.
Then the White House says:
Administration officials engaged in no improper conduct as part of alleged efforts to dissuade Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak from launching a primary challenge against Sen. Arlen Specter, White House Legal Counsel Robert Bauer asserted Friday in publicly-released memorandum.

According to Bauer, Sestak was offered a high-level but unpaid position. Sestak turned the offer down, and ended up scoring an upset victory over Specter in last week's Pennsylvania primary. The White House was instrumental in last year's switch by Specter from the GOP to the Democratic party. It backed him in his bid for a sixth term in the Senate, and was eager to clear the field of any primary opponents.
Now Sestak says:
Last summer, I received a phone call from President Clinton. During the course of the conversation, he expressed concern over my prospects if I were to enter the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate and the value of having me stay in the House of Representatives because of my military background. He said that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel had spoken with him about my being on a Presidential Board while remaining in the House of Representatives. I said no. I told President Clinton that my only consideration in getting into the Senate race or not was whether it was the right thing to do for Pennsylvania working families and not any offer. The former President said he knew I'd say that, and the conversation moved on to other subjects.

There are many important challenges facing Pennsylvania and the rest of the country. I intend to remain focused on those issues and continue my fight on behalf of working families.
Okay, are we done now?

No, probably definitely not.

Iron Baby



It would make a f**king good feature film. Maybe.

Head nod: GeekTyrant

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Is Repealed By The House

Finally, our enlisted men and women will no longer have to hide in plain sight:
WASHINGTON — The House voted Thursday to let the Defense Department repeal the ban on gay and bisexual people from serving openly in the military, a major step toward dismantling the 1993 law widely known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

The provision would allow military commanders to repeal the ban. The repeal would permit gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the military for the first time.

It was adopted as an amendment to the annual Pentagon policy bill, which the House is expected to vote on Friday. The repeal would be allowed 60 days after a Pentagon report is completed on the ramifications of allowing openly gay service members, and military leaders certify that it would not be disruptive. The report is due by Dec. 1.

The House vote was 234 to 194, with 229 Democrats and 5 Republicans in favor, after an emotionally charged debate. Opposed were 168 Republicans and 26 Democrats.
Said the President:
I am pleased that both the House of Representatives and the Senate Armed Services Committee took important bipartisan steps toward repeal tonight… Our military is made up of the best and bravest men and women in our nation, and my greatest honor is leading them as Commander-in-Chief. This legislation will help make our Armed Forces even stronger and more inclusive by allowing gay and lesbian soldiers to serve honestly and with integrity.
Here, here.

Vast, I'll be awaiting your commentary. =)

27 May 2010

If You Are Gay, Get Out Of America


So, if you are gay, the Family Research Council wants you to be deported.

Is this really something to which the conservative movement wants to hitch it's wagon? Deportation of homosexuals? Really?!

I know that I'll probably get a lot of mail from conservatives saying that they don't agree with this type of thinking -- but remember that the Family Research Council is a mainstream group. They host the Values Voters Summit every year and can hardly be labeled as a fringe organization.

You Decide


Jam band fan -- or Taliban?

Find out here.

Why Glenn Beck Could Be Dangerous

When you say things like this:
That's the way a soft revolution happens. If somebody starts to turn on them, or they can't get everyone to silence, that's when the arrests come, or that's when they start a hard revolution. That's when they start just shooting people. I hope we don't get to that point. I pray that we don't get to that point, but I never thought this country would get to the point where we are today.
...to millions of listeners, you are going to work some folks into a frenzy and then things like this happen.

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Photo: Ted Axelrod

Quote Of The Day


"I didn't serve in Vietnam. I don't want to make a Blumenthal mistake here -- our attorney general from Connecticut, God love him." -Vice President Joseph R. Biden, at a barbeque for wounded vets and their families.

Heh.

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Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

26 May 2010

Porno or Art?

The mixture of sex and art has been prolific through out the whole of human history, from our earliest tribal times when our ancient ancestors made fertility idols out of clay to the modern age with images of masturbation wrapped in paintings. Society has created a very thin and movable line between what is porn and what is art and like many of the social conflicts of our society, they occasionally boil over.

Like for instance a recent event at the Wright Elementary School in Des Moines (IA).

Art teacher, Karen Maresh, decided to show this YouTube video containing images of several paintings by artist Keith Haring. Many of the images are sexual and homoerotic in nature. One of the students then went home to their mother and told her that their teacher had made them watch a video that was “gross.” The mother then notified the police. The teacher is on paid administrative leave while the situation is being investigated.

This of course has stirred up the local right wing pot.

Star Wars: Battle Of Hoth



In honor of the 30th anniversary of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, I give you "Star Wars: Battle of Hoth" -- a mockumentary in the style of Ken Burns. Priceless.

Leaf: Going, Going, Gone


...for pre-orders, at least:
If you aren't already on the list to purchase a 2011 Nissan Leaf, you're officially out of luck. During a speech to the Detroit Economic Club today, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn announced that the U.S. market allotment for the first year's production of Leafs is already sold out more than six months before the EV even goes on sale. Nissan has now received 13,000 orders for the $32,780 electric car – quite impressive for a vehicle almost no one's driven.

So far, the orders are comprised of refundable $99 deposits, so it will be interesting to see how sales and orders hold up once people begin getting calls from dealers. Prior to going on sale in 2008, the Smart ForTwo also received thousands of orders before deliveries began – and we all know how well that turned out. While the Leaf will undoubtedly be a much more pleasant and practical car to drive than the Smart, it remains to be seen how customers will react once they get used to the real world electric range.
I would consider buying a Leaf, after I've driven one. I don't understand the notion of buying a car before you have ever even seen it in person.

Quote Of The Day



"I don't know what they're doing at Fox News, but they should stop smoking it and get back to reporting the facts." -Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Oh), upset by Fox News' characterization of his support for a bill currently before Congress.

GOP meets WWW


When your trying to take control of the House and the Senate it generally helps to have a plan of some sort for what you want to do once you get into office. Simply being the party of No and not having any real counterproposals to your opponents isn’t going to get you very far. So when you haven’t got a clue what should you do and you’ve spent the last decade becoming the twin of your opponents where should you turn to?

How about the Internet. That sounds like a great idea, which is exactly what the GOP did with their new web site… America Speaking Out

So I guess we could start seeing some of the following suggestions show up in the GOP’s agenda…

Require all Muslims in the U.S. to wear ankle bracelet transponders so we know where the terrorists are at all times.

all leaders should proclaim faith in Jesus Christ. anyone who does not, like muslims and atheists should be removed from office.

A 'teacher' told my child in class that dolphins were mammals and not fish! And the same thing about whales! We need TRADITIONAL VALUES in all areas of education. If it swims in the water, it is a FISH. Period! End of Story

End Child Labor Laws, We coddle children too much. They need to spend their youth in the factories

Build a castle-style wall along the border, there is plenty of stone laying around about there

I oppose the Hispanicization of America, These are not patriotic people

English is are official langauge. Anybody who ain't speak it the RIGHT way should kicked out

This misspelling in that last one was left as it was posted intentionally.

Hitting JD Hayworth. Hard.



It's going to be tough for Hayworth to come back from that one.

...but he deserves it. Come on man -- this is basic American history stuff here!

Head nod: Doug Mataconis

Photo Of The Day


One last touchdown for Atlantis:
After 120 million miles and 25 years in orbit, the space shuttle Atlantis is ready for retirement.

Just before 9 a.m. EST, Atlantis touched down in Florida, ending a week-long mission to the International Space Station in which astronauts brought a fresh batch of supplies and installed new equipment during a series of space walks. The mission was Atlantis’s 32nd. The shuttle blasted off for the first time in 1975.
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Photo: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

Criticism In Anything The President Does (Or Doesn't)

As Memorial Day approaches, conservative pundits and bloggers are frothing at the mouth because President Obama will not be laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. David Corn counters:
Obama is not retreating on Memorial Day. (What president would?) Instead of visiting Arlington cemetery, Obama and the first lady will participate in a Memorial Day ceremony at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, Ill., about 50 miles south of Chicago. Moreover, not every president has spent Memorial Day at Arlington. In 1983, President Reagan was at a summit meeting, and the deputy secretary of defense -- not even the veep! -- placed the wreath. Nine years later, President George H.W. Bush passed off the wreath to Vice President Dan Quayle (who had used family connections to get a slot in the National Guard during the days of the Vietnam War draft). And in 2007, Vice President Dick Cheney took on the wreath mission, while President George W. Bush was in Texas, perhaps clearing brush.
Corm raises a good point here: why are some conservatives choosing this as an argument when "their guys" have done the same? Moreover, who cares? It seems to me that Obama is leading the military the precise way that these conservatives would like; after all, our troops are still in Iraq, no?

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Photo: President Barack Obama lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns, Monday, May 25, 2009, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Tweet Of The Day


"Life must be easier blindly following political parties and politicians instead of having to reason through individual issues and policies."

"Unfortunately, blind loyalty to political parties and politicians is bad for America." @JoeNBC

25 May 2010

Hard Wuerk



-M.Wuerker, Wuerking Drawings

Rush Limbaugh Is In A League Of His Own

So, Keith Olbermann is not the only person who is referring to Bill O'Reilly as "Ted Baxter":
In a new biography on sale Tuesday, Rush Limbaugh calls fellow conservative talk show host Bill O’Reilly a “Ted Baxter” — after the fictional character on the “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” who was portrayed as a vain, shallow, buffoonish TV newsman.

“Sorry but somebody’s gotta say it,” Limbaugh is quoted as saying in Rush Limbaugh: An Army of One by Zev Chafets. At press time, O’Reilly had yet to respond to the comment.

But it wasn’t just Bill-O who took grief from Big Rush. Limbaugh said he doesn’t consider any of his fellow conservative talk show hosts to be in his league.
“Sean Hannity and Mark Levin are protégés,” writes Chafets, “and [Limbaugh] has defended Glenn Beck.”

But Limbaugh “doesn’t really consider them, or anyone else, in his league.”

Also on Limbaugh’s hit list is CNN’s Larry King, whom Limbaugh “really doesn’t like.”
Next up: Rush Limbaugh trashes Ann Coulter because she is too thin...

On Rand Paul



What arguably got the most play on the Interwebs and Twittersphere (as well as main-stream cable news) at the end of the week last week were Rand Paul's comments on the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

I guess that the over-arching theme in the story regarding Paul The Younger is "welcome to the big leagues". It seems to me that Paul is not a racist, or someone who (if given the opportunity) would have voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Rather, he is a small-government conservative who truly believes that private businesses should be allowed to discriminate, if they so choose. His exact comments on the Rachel Maddow Show:
If you decide that restaurants are publicly owned and not privately owned, then do you say that you should have the right to bring your gun into a restaurant even though the owner of the restaurant says 'well no, we don't want to have guns in here' the bar says 'we don't want to have guns in here because people might drink and start fighting and shoot each-other.' Does the owner of the restaurant own his restaurant? Or does the government own his restaurant?
I understand Paul's viewpoint here and, while I think that it is abhorrent, I don't think that he has reached that position from a racial viewpoint.

Let me explain.

Rand Paul (and many, many small 'L' libertarians like him) believe that the government should be as small as possible. Essentially, the job of the government should be to protect our nation -- and that's about it. Much of what the federal government does, by their rationale, could be/should be delegated to state and local governments. This would eliminate much of the bureaucracy of the federal government and lower citizen's federal taxes as the same time. Sounds great, right?

But, as Michael Steele so aptly put it, Paul is mixing philosophy with reality -- and I completely agree.

In theory, Paul's assertion makes sense. Doug Mataconis makes a strong argument on that point:
I believe, at least in the abstract, that people should be free to do business or not do business with whoever they want, for whatever reason they want.
But, racism and discrimination do not live in the abstract. They are very real. Rand Paul should have done a better job articulating this.

Think of it another way. Without government intervention, slavery might very well still exist and be in practice today. Okay, I would hope not, but the point is that it was the big, bad government that stepped in to end the morally reprehensible act that was the enslavement of an entire race of human beings (an act that was legalized by the very same governemnt). Julian Sanchez gets it:
Anyone who values freedom of association should also recognize the real tradeoff that antidiscrimination law involves. In a free society, Americans have long believed, even people with repulsive views have a right to express them, and to join with like-minded bigots in private clubs and informal gatherings. It is not crazy to imagine that in a more just world, an ideally just world, respect for that freedom would lead us to countenance—legally, if not personally—the few cranks who sought to congregate in their monochrome cafés and diners.

Yet that's precisely why Paul's 1.0 argument breaks down on its own terms: at the scene of a four-century crime against humanity—the kidnap, torture, enslavement, and legal oppression of African-Americans—ideal theory fails. We libertarians, never burdened with an excess of governing power, have always had a utopian streak, a penchant for imagining what rich organic order would bubble up from the choices of free and equal citizens governed by a lean state enforcing a few simple rules. We tend to envision societies that, if not perfect, are at least consistently libertarian.

Unfortunately, history happened. Rules for utopia can deal with individual crimes—the mugger and the killer and the vandal—but they stumble in the face of societywide injustice. They tell us the state shouldn't sanction the brutal enslavement or humiliating legal subordination of a people; they have less to say about what to do once we have. They tell us to respect the sanctity of the property rights that would arise as free people tamed the wilderness in John Locke's state of nature. They have less to say about the sanctity of property built on generations of slave sweat and blood.
Indeed.

I'm not going to get into the moral ins-and-outs of the federal government as that is a discussion for a different day. I think that there can be a volley of arguments supporting the idea that the federal government should not regulate morality (i.e. gay marriage).

However, on the issue of discrimination I feel that the government is justified in mandating that employers, both public and private, do not discriminate with employees or customers. To put it yet another way, Brink Lindsey equates the whole mess to an episode of "Seinfeld":
Paul’s grievous error is to ignore the larger context in which individual private decisions to exclude blacks were made. In my view, at least, truly individual, idiosyncratic discrimination ought to be legally permitted; for example, the “Soup Nazi” from Seinfeld ought to be free to deny soup to anybody no matter how crazy his reasons (they didn’t ask nicely, they mispronounced the soup, etc.). But the exclusion of blacks from public accommodations wasn’t like that — not even close.
So, I would agree that a business-owner should be able to discriminate based on superficial factors like the Soup Nazi -- rudeness, ignorance, "no shirt-no shoes-no service" kinds of things. But, when discrimination begins to take place based on factors that a person is born with -- skin color, ability, nationality, heritage, sexuality -- it's just plain wrong.

No soup for you.

Full circle. Rand Paul does not strike me as someone who wants to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964 -- far from it. But, he did a strong disservice to himself and much of the libertarian movement when he engaged in abstract political philosophy. When it comes to talking about race in politics, you have to keep it, well, real.

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Cartoon: Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Photo: Joe Imel/Bowling Green Daily News/AP photo

Quote Of The Day


"Plug the damn hole." -President Barack Obama, quoted by an unnamed aid, during a discussion in the Oval Office about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Poll: Majority Support Gays In The Military


Honestly, not really that surprising:
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday indicates that 78 percent of the public supports allowing openly gay people to serve in the military, with one in five opposed.

"Support is widespread, even among Republicans. Nearly six in ten Republicans favor allowing openly gay individuals to serve in the military," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "There is a gender gap, with 85 percent of women and 71 percent of men favoring the change, but support remains high among both groups."
Let gays serve openly. Or closeted. It only makes sense to let someone live however they want to live.

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Cartoon: Chan Lowe, The Sun-Sentinel

David Byrne Suing Charlie Crist

...over copyright infringement for use of one of his songs in a Crist political ad:
Add David Byrne to the growing list of musicians who are suing politicians for using their music without permission on the campaign trail. The Talking Heads frontman is taking legal action against Charlie Crist after the Florida governor used the group's 1985 hit "Road to Nowhere" in a campaign ad slamming then-Republican primary candidate Marco Rubio, Billboard reports. In the lawsuit filed today in Tampa, Florida, Byrne claims Crist didn't ask for or receive permission from either Byrne or Talking Heads' label Warner Bros to use the song; Byrne also asserts that such use wrongfully insinuates Byrne's endorsement of Crist's candidacy. The singer is seeking $1 million in damages.

"I was pretty upset by that," Byrne told Billboard. Even though Warner Bros has managed to get the campaign ad pulled, Byrne says that "the damage had already been done by it being out there. People that I knew had seen [the ad] so it had gotten around. It's about copyright and about the fact that it does imply that I would have licensed it and endorsed him and whatever he stands for." Byrne is suing for $1 million because it's the amount he's typically offered for use of his songs in commercials.
I wonder if Democrats ever have any trouble getting licenses to play songs in commercials or at political events?

24 May 2010

Reaction To Arizona's Immigration Legislation

Well, what did Republicans expect, a party in their honor? Hardly:
Hispanics in the Mountain West are leaning much more strongly toward the Democrats since the Arizona law was passed. The big question then becomes whether there are white voters who are going to go Republican this fall who wouldn't have if that bill hadn't been passed. We don't see any evidence of that happening yet.
Head nod: Taegan Goddard

Quote Of The Day

Republicans are planning on running a World Wrestling Entertainment "impresario" against Blumenthal. Yes, in Connecticut ... a state that is among the wealthiest and most highly educated in the nation ... a state that isn't Minnesota. The average Nutmegger doesn't even know what a turnbuckle is, and that includes me.

Republicans could run Rob Simmons, a Connecticut legislator with a distinguished record of service in the House of Representatives, the CIA, and as a Yale political science professor -- who actually did serve in Vietnam, winning two Bronze Stars and retiring as a colonel. But defeat is so close! Republicans can almost taste the bitterness of yet another crushing loss! -Ann Coulter, expressing her frustration with the GOP.

Reading Is Fun!


A good point. A terrible puppeteer.

Via Huffpo.

The Cost Of Higher Education



-Jeff Stahler, The Columbus Dispatch

Last Week Wrap-Up (Sort Of)

So, I didn't get a chance to post at all last week. If you follow me on The Twitters, you know that I was out for a few days at a conference for work (at which, much beer was consumed).

As a result of said absence, I never had the opportunity to comment on the much-commented news stories of the week; chiefly Rand Paul's comments and the Pennsylvania primary election results.

Two words: Sestak won. Need I say more? (okay, I will)

I still cannot believe that Joe Sestak beat-out aging perpetual party-switcher Arlen Specter. Specter had the support of the Democratic party machine, including but not limited to the President of the United States. But, despite having the backing of the party elite, Specter could not combat the 'he switched parties to save his own job' line of attack.

Now Sestak will face Pat Toomey in the general election in November. An election that could prove to be a real barn-burner. Earlier in the year, I predicted that Sestak would not be able to beat Toomey simply because of their difference in name recognition (Toomey had a much higher profile at the time). But, since his primary win, Sestak may prove to be a formidable opponent for the Republican candidate.

I will touch on Rand Paul's comments in a later post...

Citizenship Test Questions


Hmmm.... interesting. Here is another version of the test. I only got one question wrong (which I'll divulge in the comments, if anyone is interested). How'd you do?

Head nod: Doug Mataconis

Chart: National Debt By President And Congress


Interesting.

Head nod: @FollowSven

23 May 2010

Sunday Morning Music

Since I missed Stevie Wonder's birthday last week (I should be ashamed), here is "I Wish", one of my favorite songs of his:


22 May 2010

Saturday Morning Cartoon

Finish up your chocolate chip pancakes -- it's cartoon time!

17 May 2010

Trey Grayson Whines: Fox News Is Biased

And, he's a Republican! *gasp*

Dave Weigel analyzes Grayson's line-of-attack:
Let's step away from the question of whether it is ever, ever a good idea to do a "funny" voice in the presence of a reporter and home in on the more important question. Does Grayson seriously think it's a bigger advantage to be the son of a presidential candidate who scored a whopping 6.7 percent of the vote in the 2008 Kentucky primary than it is to be the candidate endorsed by the state's senior senator, the minority leader of his party? Because I've been covering Paul and his network since 2007, and I have seen many, many people try to use their connections to him in campaigns and get nowhere. Look at Peter Schiff, an economist who appears frequently on Fox News and Fox Business, who brought Paul backing into his race for U.S. Senate in Connecticut and who has gone nowhere.

[snip]

Lots of conservatives get softballs on Fox News. Few have the hustle to run a serious Senate race. At the 11th hour, it's like Grayson still doesn't take Paul seriously.
Grayson never took Rand Paul's candidacy seriously (neither did much of the GOP establishment), and therein lies the source of his downfall.

Are Evangelicals Embracing Mormons?

Jason Arvak at TMV points-out a story about which I was unaware: that Glenn Beck gave the commencement address at Liberty University. Then, Arvak asks some good questions about Liberty -- and the Evangelical movement in general:
Liberty University, the flagship of Christian fundamentalism, just welcomed a Mormon to give their commencement address. Coming so soon after 2008 Republican presidential candidate (and probable 2012 Republican presidential candidate as well) Mike Huckabee openly appealed to anti-Mormon prejudices among Christian fundamentalists as a core part of his strategy to take down Mitt Romney, this heretical embrace of a high-profile Latter-Day Saint by Liberty University is to [sic] much a reversal of course not to note.

It could be merely that Liberty considers the current partisan political campaign against President Obama — within which Beck is a vocal leader of the most hysteria-driven components — simply a higher priority that enforcing religious orthodoxy about what does and does not constitute a “Christian”. (Note: many Christian fundamentalists consider Mormons a “cult”, though their operational definition of that term appears to be merely “a religion I don’t like,” so it’s a pretty highly-inclusive category.) Or perhaps Liberty has come to a belated decision to move towards a “big tent” definition of “Christianity”.
Now, I don't care what faith some is (or is not), but it is interesting to see that Liberty University is (possibly) encouraging some religious diversity in its invitation to Glenn Beck.

Or, perhaps they simply didn't know that Beck is a Mormon...

Dale Peterson Wants You To Listen Up...



Taegan Goddard describes this political advertisement as 'Best Political Ad Yet?'. I would have to agree.

The Flood


Yes. I have gone far too long without comment regarding the flooding in Tennessee. That ends now -- with some very interesting commentary by a hockey blogger from Nashville:
What I am about to write has absolutely nothing to do with hockey.

If you live outside of Nashville, you may not be aware, but our city was hit by a 500-year flood over the last few days. The national news coverage gave us 15 minutes, but went back to focusing on a failed car bomb and an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. While both are clearly important stories, was that any reason to ignore our story? It may not be as terror-sexy as a failed car bomb or as eco-sexy as an oil spill, but that’s no reason to be ignored.

The Cumberland River crested at its highest level in over 80 years. Nashville had its highest rainfall totals since records began. People drowned. Billions of dollars in damage occurred. It is the single largest disaster to hit Middle Tennessee since the Civil War. And yet…no one knows about it.

Does it really matter? Eventually, it will…as I mentioned, there are billions of dollars in damage. It seems bizarre that no one seems to be aware that we just experienced what is quite possibly the costliest non-hurricane disaster in American history. The funds to rebuild will have to come from somewhere, which is why people need to know. It’s hard to believe that we will receive much relief if there isn’t a perception that we need it.

But let’s look at the other side of the coin for a moment. A large part of the reason that we are being ignored is because of who we are. Think about that for just a second. Did you hear about looting? Did you hear about crime sprees? No…you didn’t. You heard about people pulling their neighbors off of rooftops. You saw a group of people trying to move two horses to higher ground. No…we didn’t loot. Our biggest warning was, “Don’t play in the floodwater.” When you think about it…that speaks a lot for our city. A large portion of why we were being ignored was that we weren’t doing anything to draw attention to ourselves. We were handling it on our own.
Hit up this link for more information on how to help out.

------
Photo: The Grand Ole Opry House, the multi-leveled building on the lower right, is surrounded by flood water in Nashville, Tenn., on Monday, May 3, 2010. Behind the Opry House is the Opry Mills shopping complex. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

16 May 2010

Sunday Morning Music

With a gracious head nod to Stan at TYWKIWDBI, this is Eric Whitacre's Lux Aurumque, a beautifully haunting choral work. I have seen this piece performed live by a choir, but this is the first time that I've seen a "virtual" choir -- and thusly thought it was worth a SMM post. As Stan says:
Even if you don't like choral music, you should watch a couple minutes of this video to see what can be done with webcams, microphones, and a healthy dollop of imagination.
Beauty is in the ear of the beholder -- and I think that this is a perfect example of aural beauty.

Enjoy.

15 May 2010

Tweet Of The Weekend

A weekender double-shot:

Me: "RT @dmataconis: @ThePajamaPundit Here's a good overview of recent polls http://bit.ly/a25pUj || Nerd fodder. =)"

Doug's response:

"@ThePajamaPundit Nerd fodder ? RCP, Pollster and @fivethirtyeight are porn for political junkies ! :)"

Heh.

Department Of Really Cool Sh*t

This mash-up video will take the place of your regularly scheduled Saturday Morning Cartoon.



Creepiest. Toy Story. Ever.

via io9

14 May 2010

Smod Troopers

A fantastic promotional poster by artist Todd Slater for the Kevin Smith/Scott Mosier venture known as SModcast. This particular one is advertising the Billings, MT/San Francisco, CA SModcast Live Tour.

If you don't know what a SModcast is, hit the link above. Be warned, most content is NSFW... but funny as hell.

Quote Of The Day


"Glenn Beck thinks playing the Nazi card is going too far. Glenn Beck! This is a guy who uses more swastika props and video of the Nuremberg rally than the History Channel." -Lewis Black on The Daily Show.

The Oil Catastrophe

Ugh.
Steven Wereley, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University, analyzed videotape of the seafloor gusher using a technique called particle image velocimetry.

A computer program simply tracks particles and calculates how fast they are moving. Wereley put the BP video of the gusher into his computer. He made a few simple calculations and came up with an astonishing value for the rate of the oil spill: 70,000 barrels a day — much higher than the official estimate of 5,000 barrels a day.

The method is accurate to a degree of plus or minus 20 percent.

Given that uncertainty, the amount of material spewing from the pipe could range from 56,000 barrels to 84,000 barrels a day. It is important to note that it's not all oil. The short video BP released starts out with a shot of methane, but at the end it seems to be mostly oil.

"There's potentially some fluctuation back and forth between methane and oil," Wereley said.

But assuming that the lion's share of the material coming out of the pipe is oil, Wereley's calculations show that the official estimates are too low.

"We're talking more than a factor-of-10 difference between what I calculate and the number that's being thrown around," he said.
Video and the rest of the story at the link.

Ugh.

------
Photo: NASA/The Associated Press

Facebook – Your Profile for Sale

Not too long ago Facebook changed it’s privacy policy yet again, implementing an new feature that was designed to automatically share your profile information with third-party websites like Pandora. This, along with the fact that this is sharing is turned on by default for every user, has once again put Facebook under the gun from critics.

A recent New York Times report states that there nearly 50 settings and 170 different options that you have to manage in order to properly control who gets to see your information. At 5830 words, the 2010 privacy statement is longer than the US Constitution (not including amendments), and the more in depth Privacy FAQ that Facebook offers tops in at over 45,000 words. In comparison the Privacy policy for Twitter is only 1203 words.

This hash of cryptic privacy settings and options that would almost take a Harvard law professor to understand, has prompted a growing chorus of sites offering “how to…” guides and videos for controlling your privacy settings or even how to quit Facebook all together, like this video from the Huffington Post.

NJ Governor Christie: 'This Is Who I Am'



I've not been a huge fan of Chris Christie. While I did not necessarily support Corzine's re-election in New Jersey, there was something about Christie that always rubbed me the wrong way.

That said, I love this monologue by the Republican governor of The Garden State.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all about civility in discourse, but for anyone to think that there won't be disagreements in government -- especially in our current politically charged climate -- is just ludicrous. As long as the heated debate stays focused on the topic at hand, whether it be healthcare, global warming, the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, gay marriage, etc., things will be fine. It's when politicians and pundits start in with personal attacks that really bothers me.

Chris Christie's stock just rose, as fas I'm concerned.

Tweet Of The Day



"WARNING: This video will make you stupider." @daveweigel

13 May 2010

The Comedic Justices

She'll be here for the rest of her life... try the veal:
Solicitor General Elena Kagan, nominated to the high court this week by President Barack Obama, has argued six cases before the high court since September, and has both zinged and been zinged by her potential future colleagues. She has shown an easy and conversational manner with the court, which might not have been expected since she had never previously argued a case before any court.

Kagan and Justice Antonin Scalia in particular have had their comedic duo moments.
But, but, if she's gay -- that's not funny, right? She plays softball after all!

Ugh.

Hit the link and there are some court transcripts of her cutting up with the justices...

Birther Doc Chats With Anderson Cooper

Well, kind of:

12 May 2010

Audit the Fed

In what is one of the rarest events to occur in the Senate, a unanimous, bi-partisan vote of 96-0 passed the Sanders amendment S.Amdt.3738 to the Financial Reform bill, S.3217.

The Sanders amendment is different than the version of in the house, in that instead of having an ongoing process of auditing the Fed, which I have come around to support as something that needs to happen, it’s a one time audit and deals primarily with the actions the Fed has taken during the financial crisis that we are still struggling to recover from. It’s better than nothing I suppose, and we will finally get to see who the Fed has been lending our tax dollars to over the last year, which could very well expose some serious conflicts of interest.

08 May 2010

Saturday Morning Cartoon

Well, it's not really a cartoon -- but it's a great show nonetheless! Yaaaaay!!!

07 May 2010

We Are ND



I can't say that I'm surprised that this video has prompted something of a backlash from Notre Dame graduates and fans. It's pretty awful.

Joe Sestak Catches Arlen Specter

Given the new political ad that Joe Sestak has released, this new polling information really isn't all that shocking:
Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) waited for months to hit Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) for his Republican past on television. And now that he’s finally played the GOP card, airing a spot tying the party-switching senator to former President Bush and Sarah Palin, his message seems to be getting traction.

The daily Muhlenberg College tracking poll of the Pennsylvania Senate race showed Sestak tied with Specter at 43 percent Friday after trailing the senator by nine points just four days ago. Eleven percent of Pennsylvania Democrats say they’re undecided.
So, this now begs a new question: if Sestak beats Specter in the Democratic primary election on May 18th -- what happens in November? The conventional wisdom used to be that Arlen Specter would win the primary and then go on to victory by a slim margin over Pat Toomey.

It looks as though nothing about this election is conventional anymore...

Happy Birthday Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

One of my favorite pieces by the classical master, The Year 1812, Festival Overture in E flat major, Op. 49 (more commonly known as "1812 Overture"), ably performed by the Leningrad Philarmonic and The Leningrad Militar Orchestras and conducted by Yuri Temirkanov.

Part I:



Part II:



It is indeed a long composition, but well worth your Friday afternoon.

David Boaz: 'Sarah Palin Needs New Glasses'

Zing!
Palin is way off base, though, when she writes:
I support Carly as she fights through a tough primary against a liberal member of the GOP who seems to bear almost no difference to Boxer, one of the most leftwing members of the Senate.
Ignoring conservative Chuck DeVore, who probably has the support of a lot of Palin fans, Palin is taking aim at frontrunning former congressman Tom Campbell. But if her aim was that far off on a moose hunt, she’d come back empty-handed. Tom Campbell is often described as a moderate Republican, and sometimes as a (moderately) libertarian Republican. But he’s certainly no liberal, and it’s just nuts to say that he’s no different from Barbara Boxer.

[snip]

Campbell’s record isn’t perfect from either a conservative or a libertarian perspective. But anybody who can look at the respective records of Tom Campbell and Barbara Boxer and see “almost no difference” needs new glasses.
This would not be the first time that Sarah Palin was wrong...

UPDATE:: ...and there is more blowback...

On The Tea Party Idea

One of Andrew Sullivan's readers does not hide their feelings regarding the Tea Party movement:
[Those in the Tea Party] are thoroughgoing frauds - a bunch of right-wing victim-mongers whining about something they have no actual ideas about confronting. They are not something new. They are the decaying stench of the Republican corpse. If they get into power somehow, it will be Weekend At Bernie's for conservatism.
Ouch. Burrrrn.

But, slow down there Chachi. I agree, but only to a certain point. I think that there are definitely folks out there who know about that which they are talking/writing.

For example, longtime blogger, libertarian, friend-of-this-blog and general man about town Doug Mataconis is a smart feller. He knows his stuff and can criticize the government and it's minions in any way shape or form (whether it is led by Democrats or Republicans), and back up his criticism with these things called facts. Although I hesitate mentioning him in a post that primarily focuses on the Tea Party...

But, my point is that you cannot lump independent folks like Doug in with other, err, voices in the Tea Party movement. Not every libertarian-minded person is out there calling Obama and Pelosi 'socialists' while wearing a three-cornered hat and waving the Gadsden Flag. Sullivan's reader is painting with far too broad of strokes.

However! I will concede that there is definitely some stupidity to go around. Lots of misinformation (and straight-up lies) to justify a certain point-of-view is not unheard of with the Tea Party crowd (or any political movement for that matter). Sullivan himself points to a particularly painful on-line chat in the Washington Post with Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips:
Maryland: ... I am a hard-working middle class American and I don't agree with anything you are saying, and I have a right not agree with you. But you splitting the citizenry into classes of "elites/political class/Washington insiders/liberals" vs "real Americans" is just plain wrong! and that's the problem with your movement.

Liberals are just as American as you are and you and your movement has no right to question people's patriotism or Americanness just because they disagree with you.

Judson Phillips: Yes we do. You folks in the left do far worse. Patriotism is not something that cannot be measured. It can be. And you folks on the left, as a general rule are not patriotic. You do not love this country. You are embarrassed by us.

I hate to tell you this, but those of us in fly over country are the real Americans.
Ugh. Really? The 'us versus them' mentality? 'Real Americans'? Where have I heard that before?

[note: Phillips also asserts that moderates are not worthy of the Tea Parties: "I'm not trying attract moderates. Moderates are just those who have no core beliefs. I have a lot more respect for liberals than I do moderates. I'll disagree with liberals but they have core beliefs." Ugh.]

While I do sympathize which many views of the Tea Party movement (lower taxes, less government intrusion, et al), this is the type of thinking that makes me want to run as fast as I can from the Tea Partiers. The adoption of the 'if you are a liberal/progressive/Democrat, then you hate America' meme is something that I was hoping to avoid with the emergence of a (seemingly) viable third party.

Lastly, where was all of the Tea Party's anger when President George W. Bush was running up our national debt? I know that President Obama is the focus of 99% of their energy, but it was on Bush 43's watch that we got TARP, warrantless wiretapping, the Patriot Act, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hardly examples of fiscal conservatism and small government at their finest.

I'm just sayin'.

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06 May 2010

Ironic


-Joe Heller, the Green Bay Press-Gazette

I Feel Bad For The Hawai'i State Department Of Health

Fortunately for them, the state's legislature feels the same way:
A bill heading toward the desk of Republican Gov. Linda Lingle lets any Hawai'i department ignore repeated requests for information from the same person — if the department already has responded within a year.

[snip]

Although the bill was supported by other state agencies, Espero aimed it specifically at the Health Department and the continuing demand for Obama's birth records from Mainland residents who question whether the president was born in the United States.

"This had to do with an issue that's gone national," said Espero, D-20th, ('Ewa Beach, Waipahu).

"Because of that national interest, there were dozens — hundreds — of requests coming from the Mainland. And that's highly unusual for your typical workweek, for any department or agency."

The Health Department even created a special page on its website devoted to the issue of Obama's birth certificate and who is eligible to get the records.
I can only imagine what it would be like to have to deal with -- on a daily basis -- an army of tinfoil-hat-wearing-Orly-Taitz-wannabes. Kudos to the state legislature for recognizing the Birthers as a problem.

Joe Sestak's New Ad



Wow. Nailed it.

Now the question is, can Sestak get this into every Democratic household in the Keystone State?

Prince: 'My Enemies Are Al Qaeda, Taliban and Liberals'

That's right folks, liberals, progressives and Democrats are all the same as al Quaeda and the Taliban:
Erik Prince, owner of Blackwater, received a standing ovation in his hometown Wednesday and was praised by supporters for "put[ting] God first" after delivering a 30 minute speech that media outlets were banned from recording. As Prince spoke, about 80 people protested outside the DeVos Fieldhouse in Holland. As the local paper, The Holland Sentinel, reported, Prince told the crowd of 700 that the "worth of a warrior is not best defined by his deeds, but by his enemies" and "described his own enemies as Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and 'noisy leftists.'"
Classy. Pitting Americans against Americans.

What a dick.

Quote Of The Day




"He is a citizen of the United States, so I say we uphold the laws and the Constitution on citizens. If you are a citizen, you obey the law and follow the Constitution. [Faisal Shahzad -- the accused Times Square bomber] has all the rights under the Constitution. We don't shred the Constitution when it is popular. We do the right thing." -Glenn Beck on Fox and Friends.

I'm tough on Beck -- anyone who is a regular reader knows this. BUT, when the guy is right, he's right. Anyone who says that Faisal Shahzad should not have been Mirandized, or is trying to work around the Miranda laws, is crazy. If a citizen of the United States is not read their Miranda rights, the judge in their trial can throw the case out of court.

Glenn Beck is absolutely correct; if you are an American, you are guaranteed the protection of the Constitution, regardless of the crimes you might be accused of committing.

05 May 2010

Advice For The Tea Party

... from a guy who is bona fide. The CATO Institute's John Samples lays out some sound advice:
1. Republicans aren’t always your friends.

2. Some tea partiers like big government.

3. Democrats aren’t always your enemies.

4. Smaller government demands restraint abroad.

5. Leave social issues to the states.
Check it out:



The question remains, will Tea Partiers listen?

Happy Cinco De Mayo!



What better way to celebrate Mexican Independence Day a day of Mexican heritage and pride than by eating a truckload of tacos.

I'm going to see if I can convince TPW to have tacos for dinner tonight.

Blame Everyone But Yourselves

Give. Me. A. Break. Seriously? We're going to blame the bad actions of current college kids on Mister Rogers?
Don Chance, a finance professor at Louisiana State University, says it dawned on him last spring. The semester was ending, and as usual, students were making a pilgrimage to his office, asking for the extra points needed to lift their grades to A's.

"They felt so entitled," he recalls, "and it just hit me. We can blame Mr. Rogers."

Fred Rogers, the late TV icon, told several generations of children that they were "special" just for being whoever they were. He meant well, and he was a sterling role model in many ways. But what often got lost in his self-esteem-building patter was the idea that being special comes from working hard and having high expectations for yourself.

Now Mr. Rogers, like Dr. Spock before him, has been targeted for re-evaluation. And he's not the only one. As educators and researchers struggle to define the new parameters of parenting, circa 2007, some are revisiting the language of child ego-boosting. What are the downsides of telling kids they're special? Is it a mistake to have children call us by our first names? When we focus all conversations on our children's lives, are we denying them the insights found when adults talk about adult things?

Some are calling for a recalibration of the mind-sets and catch-phrases that have taken hold in recent decades. Among the expressions now being challenged:

"You're special." On the Yahoo Answers Web site, a discussion thread about Mr. Rogers begins with this posting: "Mr. Rogers spent years telling little creeps that he liked them just the way they were. He should have been telling them there was a lot of room for improvement. ... Nice as he was, and as good as his intentions may have been, he did a disservice."

Signs of narcissism among college students have been rising for 25 years, according to a recent study led by a San Diego State University psychologist. Obviously, Mr. Rogers alone can't be blamed for this. But as Prof. Chance sees it, "he's representative of a culture of excessive doting."
No. You tweed-jacket-wearing-asshats are wrong.

Mister Rogers' Neighborhood was a great show. The guy was a staple of the Children's Television Workshop for as long as I can remember. He didn't breed narcissism and bad attitudes with his positive rhetoric. I don't care what these eggheaded professor-types say, it is up to the parents to raise their kids properly.

For example, I'm raising my kids to refer to other adults as "Mister So-and-so" or "Mrs So-and-so". That's just how I roll. My parents taught me to respect my elders, and that's what I'm doing with my kids. This is not a judgment on parents who choose to allow their kids to refer to adults by their first names -- that is their prerogative. But, as a parent I think that it is paramount that my kids understand the level of respect that is commanded by an adult, regardless of their relationship to my kids -- particularly if the adult is a senior citizen.

My point is that this complaint should not be filed with Mister Rogers or any other 'warm and fuzzy' television program (I'm looking at you, Romper Room). Rather, this criticism should be filed with lazy parents who give their kids whatever they want, whenever they want it.

It's called personal responsibility folks. Look it up.

04 May 2010

Happy Stars Wars Day!



May The Fourth be with you.

[click photo to embiggen]

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