21 July 2009

Bookcase Coffin

I'm going to build one someday. So cool.

17 July 2009

Amazing Story from Terrible Politico

I still think they suck, but Politico is breaking an amazing exclusive story about the American Conservative Union, which apparently brazenly sold their endorsement in the FedEx/UPS labor fight (detailed here if it's news to you).

The lede on the story tells it all:
The American Conservative Union asked FedEx for a $2 million check in return for the group’s endorsement in a bitter legislative dispute, then flipped and sided with UPS after FedEx refused to pay. In return for the $2 million, ACU offered a range of services that included: “Producing op-eds and articles written by ACU’s Chairman David Keene and / or other members of the ACU’s board of directors. (Note that Mr. Keene writes a weekly column that appears in The Hill.)” The conservative group’s remarkable demand — black-and-white proof of the longtime Washington practice known as “pay for play” — was contained in a private letter to FedEx that was provided to POLITICO.

The American Conservative Union is the oldest conservative group in America- they're the ones who put together CPAC every year, one of the biggest political conservative gatherings. Also on the letterhead: Americans for Tax Reform, Citizen Outreach, and four other conservative groups.

Ouch. Doesn't look very good.

14 July 2009


In this MSNBC clip (in which, incidentally, a firedoglake blogger says the word "blowjob") we see a good summary of one of the arguments against investigation of the Cheney/Bush assassination policies. Says Matt Lewis of politicsdaily.com and townhall.com and rampagingasshole.com (I may have made that last one up):
I think the intervening sort-of problem with that is the unprecedented nature of looking back at a past administration, and there I think there is a danger of politicizing it and setting a precedent that every administration that makes decisions based on life and death will have somebody investigate them.

There's some other nonsense added in at times (Lewis in the clip goes on a bit about "separation of powers" concerns) but they're generally red herrings. This above is the main problem for a lot of conservatives (mostly the neocon variety): they don't want to set a precedent that it's okay for future administrations to investigate the possibly-illegal actions of previous administrations, when those actions were taken under stress.

There are several false assumptions inherent in this protest:
  • This is something new. That's actually far from clear. The main previous example we have of items of this grotesque nature might be Nixon, and he got a pardon from his Vice President before the hammer could really fall. But isn't that pardon and the associated public scorn essentially an admission of wrongdoing by that previous administration?
  • That stress and "life or death circumstances" exonerate wrongdoing. Any child can tell you that being in a bad situation doesn't justify all actions: when someone takes your toy, you can't hit them. While certainly mitigating circumstances should be taken into account, they're not a magical blanket that allows you to enact secret assassination programs without congressional approval possibly in defiance of the Constitution. Do the neocons think that the people are so stupid as to be unable to recognize the circumstances and judge accordingly?
  • That succeeding administrative investigations are a bad thing. The vast majority of malfeasance and nonfeasance in our political system is publicized by an opponent in a political environment. Things are set up in a competitive way for just that purpose: it's the best incentive for honesty. Watchdogs are most alert and scrupulous when it's for their own gain, and you are most careful and moral when it's in your own interest.
Really, think about it. If a President (or Vice-President) can set up secret programs to do whatever he wants, even if it may be illegal, and believes he needs no approval from the other branches of government, then how the hell could he ever be held accountable if the Executive doesn't do it once he's gone? Who's going to uncover crimes - the judges and congresspeople who don't even know the programs exist?

12 July 2009

Long Story Short on Warrantless Wiretapping

The Inspectors General (it's NOT Inspector Generals people!) of the Justice Department, Department of Defense, CIA, NSA, and National Intelligence have put out a report on the warrantless wiretapping program of the Bush administration. You can read it for yourself for some interesting things, but long story short:
  • It didn't work very well.
  • It was pretty much illegal, and Yoo (author of the memos certifying the legality of the program) was full of crap.

Roger Simon Is Still Terrible

This guy is Politico's Chief Political Columnist. And he is majestically and magnificently terrible. His awfulness is hard to believe, soaring mightily over the poorness of lesser cretins. Like a powerful eagle, he leaves his rivals in idiocy far below. And while I've talked about how terrible he is before (and how terrible Politico has become), his hits just keep coming.

Politico's Chief Political Columnist is quite interested in giving Sarah Palin appallingly bad advice (some of which she appears to have mistakenly followed, to expected results). But that's not all he has to say about Palin!

Here he is talking about the "Sins of Sarah Palin." As one might expect, this is pretty much a phoned-in piece of crap about how Palin offended the elites by being a rebel. When a conservative does something that looks incredibly stupid to everyone, of course it's just that they're being persecuted. It's not possible that they just made a completely stupid decision, right?

Sarah Palin is a sinner. She has violated several commandments and thoroughly deserves the savage beating that she is now getting from political mandarins and media elites.

If it were not for one simple fact, I would say she was through in politics. And that fact is that if the Republicans were picking a nominee today, they would pick Sarah Palin.

This guy writes about politics, don't forget. He's Politico's Chief Political Columnist. So when he notes her incredible popularity among the Republican base, it's kind of unforgivable that he doesn't bother to note that she is viewed ever-more-negatively by independents, the people who would make up a large proportion of any majority that could vote her into an actual office. Palin might have a future in broadcasting, but in politics it is important that you appeal to the majority, not just the 34% who call themselves Republicans.
Thou shalt not surprise the media.

Palin announces she is quitting her job as governor of Alaska, and she catches everybody by surprise. What is up with that?

Where were the leaks and the trial balloons? Why weren’t the media alerted so they could have predicted it?

Yeah. The media sure hates surprising and dramatic political moves.
Today, it is hard to see who the next guy in line is, but the party mandarins, the pooh-bahs, are agreed on one thing: Sarah Palin ain’t it.

She is a dumb hick, a nobody from nowhere. She hunts moose with a chainsaw from the back of a snowmobile or something. Just listen to her resignation speech. It was not slick or polished or written by somebody else. She appeared to deliver it off the top of her head as if she were a real person. What a doofus!

Doesn’t she know that the highest form of political communication today is to exactly regurgitate a speech written for you by a speechwriter who has crafted, vetted and polled every phrase, line and word?

It might be a little different if the speech had been good or made sense. No one would have given her crap for not having a perfectly polished speech if that were the case. But can anyone who actually watched the speech or read it really tell me it should be the effort of a career politician who is seriously considering a White House run? It was delivered breathlessly and almost too quickly to understand at times, and its content was bizarre and meandering. It was a resignation speech that didn't actually explain the reasons for resigning - which is why people have spent days trying to figure out why she left.

Politico's Chief Political Columnist talks of Palin's speech as if it were a raw but powerful statement from a leader; he calls her "plain-spoken." But obfuscating sports metaphors and poor quality don't make one "plain-spoken." But sometimes rough and stumbling isn't homey and humble, it's just bad. And this was a bad speech.

Simon has another recent column called "Political junkies, the doctor is in," which is a fake little "ask Dr. Politics" thing. It is also terrible. Roger Simon is terrible and awful.

His imaginary commentator asks why he praised Palin for quitting but attacked Sanford for quitting. Politico's Chief Political Columnist says that:
Sarah Palin, on the other hand, is giving up her state paycheck rather than rip off the taxpayers while she jets around the nation speaking at political dinners or taking trips to exotic locations to “encourage trade,” which is what governors usually do. Sure, she will make a bundle, but she won’t make it off the people of Alaska anymore.

So it's okay that she quit because she would have been a terrible governor anyway, jetting around and making money.

It does not seem to occur to Politico's Chief Political Columnist that an interesting alternative might have been Palin doing her job. I don't see why her only two alternatives were to quit or defraud the taxpayers. If I quit my job, can I explain by saying that I either had to quit or else steal office supplies?

Politico's Chief Political Columnist. Honest.

Weekly Standard sticks by their candidate

The Weekly Standard gives Palin a big sloppy BJ.
Palin's unconventionality and authenticity is the key to her appeal. She may move contrariwise to elite opinion in Washington and New York, but doing so strengthens her bond with conservative Republicans across the country. The things that make liberals flip-out at the first mention of Palin are exactly the ones that rally conservatives to her side. Liberals view Palin's resignation as a sign of weakness. Conservatives view it as attractive nonconformity. "To her credit," Dittman said, "she just didn't tip off a few people and go through the motions for a year and a half."

Why is Palin leaving? At this writing, there is no reason to doubt her stated position: Her enemies' concerted efforts to tear her down have caused her family financial stress and distracted her from her duties as governor. Since she returned to Alaska in November 2008, she has been hemmed in. Ethics complaints, insults, invective, undue attention, and legal bills have been all-consuming. "I can't fight for what's right when I'm shackled to the governor's seat," Palin said. For the last seven months the governor's office has been a ward. A trap. She is breaking free.

Look at that MAVERICK governor defy the LIBERALS who wanted to break her down, serving the people of Alaska like a GOOD CONSERVATIVE by quitting that TRAP.

What a hero.

09 July 2009


I have long been a fervent advocate for the solar grand plan. One of its major flaws, however, is that it assumes technological advancement. This is a just criticism. But lo and behold, even without the level of investment the plan would have brought, the much lower current funding for research has yielded much, much cheaper solar cells that will soon be just as efficient (~20%) as the expensive current silicon ones. The copper-indium-diselinide cells don't need to be vacuum-processed and just just poured and baked (essentially). In a few months, their efficiency has improved from 1% to 9%, and the researchers are optimistic (reasonably so) that the cells will hit 20% within a few years.

A Few Things

I have read the whole internet and here are some things.

Bradford Plumer at TNR about cap-and-trade and how it's worked in Europe.

Gerard Magliocco at Concurring Opinions on different "canonical statutes" that are considered sacrosanct.

Daniel Indiviglio at Atlantic Business on how the unemployment stats are quite off, and how it will spike quite high when matters improve (deceptively). Look for it as an empirical sign of an improving economy.

David Kahane at the National Review is sickeningly filled with hatred for liberals. It's a disgusting bile-filled slab of venom prompted by what he sees as unjust attacks on good ol' Palin by the elitest media. I am not exaggerating.

Stanley Fish (an epic name and a legend in his own time) points out in the Times that the stumbling and shocking nature of the Sanford passionate interview and the Palin stuttering resignation are prompted by genuine emotion, and that shouldn't be overlooked.

Google is releasing an operating system, and the Atlantic Business does a pair of gimmicky posts for both pro and con, and neither one is actually insightful or worth reading. Read the Opinionator about it instead, since it's as good as the Opinionator usually is.

Wonkette mocks Brian Kilmeade from Fox and Friends for accidentally being a hilarious eugenicist

Only one guy voted against a bill in Congress designed to commemorate slave labor's role in the creation of the Capitol, Steve King (R-IA). He says he voted against it to protect our "Judeo-Christian heritage." He goes with Bachmann in the crazy hyperchristian category, a populous segment of politicians.

06 July 2009

Conservative Reactions to Palin Resignation

Jonah Goldberg (author of Liberal Fascism and asshole) thinks it's maybe his fault because of his advice to her earlier that day (that seems to mostly just be a rehash of Roger Simon's Politico piece), but still doesn't understand.
Well, aside from my timing being impeccable, the best I can say is I'm flabbergasted.

Not running again could make sense as a pre-presidential move. Resigning strikes me as very strange.

Mark Steyn of the National Review thinks it was stupid.
As a political move for anything other than the 2010 Senate race, today's announcement is a disaster. And I'm not sure it's a plus for the Senate - and, even if it were, the manner and timing suggest it was not a professionally planned event and therefore is unlikely to have any grand strategy behind it.

Bill Kristol of the Sarah Palin Fan Club thinks it's great.
After all, she's freeing herself from the duties of the governorship. Now she can do her book, give speeches, travel the country and the world, campaign for others, meet people, get more educated on the issues - and without being criticized for neglecting her duties in Alaska. I suppose she'll take a hit for leaving the governorship early - but how much of one? She's probably accomplished most of what she was going to get done as governor, and is leaving a sympatico lieutenant governor in charge.

Kellyanne Conway of WomanTrend, a polling company, thinks it's about protecting her family and it's swell.
But, as a private citizen, Governor Palin can unbind her hands, quit swallowing hard, and respond. She can also make a boatload of money with a bestseller or two, a spot on the speaking circuit, and a steady media gig. Palin can steep herself in foreign policy, become an advocate for issues that people actually care about — like special-needs children, a cause for which savaging her would be difficult — and help a national Republican party that is in no position to turn away any volunteers, let alone one for whom thousands cheer at events.

Mary Matalin, noted political consultant and lich, hates Barack Obama and forgot to say anything about Palin.
As we have been saying for decades, elections have consequences, and we are now experiencing the scariest consequence of an election in decades. This president is reordering, at warp speed, the relationship between lawmakers and citizens; he is reshaping the role and scope of a constitutional order two centuries in the making.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) thinks Palin sucks.
I am deeply disappointed that the Governor has decided to abandon the State and her constituents before her term has concluded.

05 July 2009

Palin Resigned

Sarah Palin resigned. No one knows why. It surprised everyone in the local Republican party, her spokesperson, her Lieutenant Governor (soon to be Governor), and pretty much the nation. She wasn't under investigation, so this wasn't damage control.

It seems to me that this is pretty obviously her crazy impulsiveness. She quit her job as mayor of Wasilla before she finished, and she quit from the state petroleum board - it's pretty clear that when she sees a bigger goal possible, she is inclined to drop her responsibilities and go for it. She'll certainly make a lot of money and she can spin it enough with her fanatical base so that she'll be okay politically. But I think she has again miscalculated badly: this ends her 2012 hopes, if she still harbors them.

02 July 2009

Sanford's Victimization by teh Gayz, Palin Infighting, and Glenn Beck

Let's just let this stand alone and appreciate it. Rush Limbaugh claims that Mark Sanford cheated on his wife with a hot piece of Argentina because gay marriage is legal:
“It’s finally happened,” said Rush Limbaugh, conservative radio personality. “America, I’ve been warning you for years that gay marriage would destroy the American family and look… there they are, a husband, wife, and four children — destroyed. When is this going to stop America? When will the liberals be satisfied? When all the marriages break up? This wasn’t Mark Sanford’s fault, this was Ted Kennedy’s fault. Sanford didn’t cheapen the value of marriage, he was victimized by the cheapening of marriage.”

Hm. Moving on...

Everyone is abuzz over the Pardum piece on Sarah Palin in the current Vanity Faire. And for good reason: it's amazing.
What does it say about the nature of modern American politics that a public official who often seems proud of what she does not know is not only accepted but applauded? What does her prominence say about the importance of having (or lacking) a record of achievement in public life? Why did so many skilled veterans of the Republican Party—long regarded as the more adroit team in presidential politics—keep loyally working for her election even after they privately realized she was casual about the truth and totally unfit for the vice-presidency? Perhaps most painful, how could John McCain, one of the cagiest survivors in contemporary politics—with a fine appreciation of life’s injustices and absurdities, a love for the sweep of history, and an overdeveloped sense of his own integrity and honor—ever have picked a person whose utter shortage of qualification for her proposed job all but disqualified him for his?

Politico has an exceptionally poorly-written article about how this has sparked a lot of infighting, but better is this tidbit from conservative blog RedState, where the Republican enforcement squad is pretty well exampled:
Since everybody else is piling on, let me add my own comment to the fray. If you were one of the people who participated in that Vanity Fair hit piece, and we find out your name, you will be a net drag on any national campaign for the rest of your professional career. Not because you helped the Left go after Governor Palin, but because you are an untrustworthy sneak who is dedicated to propping up the elitist system in DC, not fixing it. Any candidate that hires you will have to overcome the base’s natural reluctance to work with a campaign that would hire someone like you.

Finally, Glenn Beck has written a new book. Beck emerged onto the media scene in my hometown of Tampa Bay, Florida, where he started off as a radio host doing pretty standard crap. He then got a show on CNN Headline News, where he basically just did his radio show while pointing at the camera a lot and putting up bad photoshops. And now of course he is at Fox News, having steadily migrated ideologically. Back in the day, he declared that he didn't follow politics. Then on CNN, he was a hawkish libertarian. Now on Fox, he still calls himself a libertarian, but it's that trendy kind of libertarianism that basically is identical with being a neocon but sounds less mainstream.

He's done a lot of unbelievably hackneyed nonsense, including his 9/12 project, which claims to set out the nine values embraced by America immediately after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Among them are "I believe in God and He is the center of my life." Yeah, since of course that directly opposes the mindset of the radical Muslim attackers. If there's one thing we need, it sure is more people who devote their lives (and deaths) to their deity! It seems like Beck's thoughts after 9/11 were pretty much just "Goddamn do I love the Republican party, let me imagine some of their talking points!"

Beck has written a new book called "Common Sense." The fact that Beck has the gall to crib the title of one of the most influential pamphlets in Revolutionary American history is unbelievable. But far worse is the content.

It is almost without exception the most contemptible pile of regurgitated tripe I have ever seen, because it essentially is what Beck thinks is "common sense." His solutions to things are facile and thoughtless. In most cases, it boils down to "spend less" and "tax cuts." What a new tune.

Random Nutjob: "The only chance we have as a country right now is for Osama bin Laden to deploy and detonate a major weapon in the United States. ..."