Friday, April 02, 2004

McCain Disses the GOP: Will he or won't he? There's no reason to think McCain might not be the Democratic nominee when he says things like this:

"'I believe my party has gone astray,' McCain said, criticizing GOP stands on environmental and minority issues. 'I think the Democratic Party is a fine party, and I have no problems with it, in their views and their philosophy,' he said.

Wow! Please let it be true. Please! What a country so divided needs is moderate, bipartisan leadership. (Also: Busy blogging day today, isn't it?)

- Marc
Stop the Presses: From conservative UK newspaper the Independent:

A former translator for the FBI with top-secret security clearance says she has provided information to the panel investigating the 11 September attacks which proves senior officials knew of al-Qa'ida's plans to attack the US with aircraft months before the strikes happened.

More details as they develop.

- Marc

UPDATE: Even the far-right Reverend Moon's Washington Times has run this story. Let's hope the "liberal media" follow up on it.
The Billion Dollar Question: Kevin Drum lays it out for you:

If they [the Bushies] have nothing to hide, why is their first instinct in practically every case to look as guilty as possible? Either (a) they really are guilty or (b) they're insane. Take your pick.

- Marc
Bad News for Bush: A new CBS poll shows Dick Clarke's charges are starting to resonate. The end result?

(Among registered voters)


Bring it on, indeed.

- Marc
Bush's Genital Warts Still Burn: In the latest sign that our President's priorities are out of whack, the AP provides the following report:

That tiny bit of print on a condom packet is at the center of a raging debate now that President George W. Bush has asked the Food and Drug Administration to modify the current warning to include information about human papillomavirus, commonly called HPV or genital warts.

A quote from the director of "Project Reality, an Illinois-based group that teaches public school students about abstinence" shows that "reality" is something Bush doesn't understand.

Perhaps he confused "HPV" with "WMDs"?

- Marc
Pitchfork's Latest Howler: The cred-conscious goons at Pitchfork reached a new level of vapidity today in their review of Snow Patrol's Final Straw. A glistening pop record with simple lyrics, Final Straw seems like everything singer/songwriter Gary Lightbody would want. Of course, that's not what Pitchfork wants. Glistening pop isn't something Pitchfork approves of unless it's 30 years old and unjustly obscure, produced by pimple-scarred geeks. The reviewer can't find much to criticize: Lightbody's lyrics "don't say much," he notes, but they are "dramatic and compelling." So the reviewer, not wanting to praise an album so catchy his 13-year-old sister might like it, launches the most idiotic attack in the history of music, the one on which Pitchfork has earned its readership:

The pristine quality of Snow Patrol's music and Garret Lee's production, however, belies the rawness of Lightbody's words, and too often, the songs suffer from the contrast. It's not that there aren't bursts of noisy feedback or filtered vocals or the occasional programmed beats; it's that each one sounds perfectly placed, too tidy, so overthought and foreordained that the songs sound staid and stolid.

In other words, this CD sounds TOO PERFECT!!! That never bothers them with Pet Sounds or Loveless, but if a pop record sounds perfect, it must be bad. Especially if the lyrics are downcast. Because of course, the Smiths, Blur, Elvis Costello and countless other greats never managed to cloak dark sentiments in pitch-perfect pop music. Some might argue, that's what pop is all about! Take Smokey Robinson's "Tears of a Clown," for example, one of the happiest sad songs ever.

I haven't made up my mind yet about Final Straw as an album, although some of the lyrics seem more problematic to me than the lush music. But when Pitchfork resorts to criticizing an album for being too good, it reveals its own worthlessness. Get back to publishing Lester Bangs-inspired mumbo-jumbo, Comic Book Store Guy!

- Marc

Thursday, April 01, 2004

O'Reilly Heils Hitler: Via Atrios:

O'REILLY: General, how do you see it?

VALLELY: Well, we've got to do it together. We've go to do it quickly. We've got to sanitize that whole city. And keep in mind, Bill, you set an example when you go in there to do that. And when do you that, you get respect. And that's why you go to be tough.

O'REILLY: All right, general, is there any.


O'REILLY: .you know it, the colonel knows it. The colonel and I are disagreeing on the tactics, but we know what the final solution should be. Why hasn't the U.S. command done this? And why do they continue to absorb the level of terror that is coming out of -- this isn't a big town. We're not talking about Cincinnati here. Right? It's not a big town?

The Final Solution, eh? Finally, the right-wing pundits have begun to use the Nazi language to express their proto-fascist leanings. Mr. O'Reilly proposes we destroy an entire town for opposing us -- a town we invaded. Perhaps we should bomb them all back to the stone age -- that's what they get for not wanting to be American. I'm not saying their atrocities weren't horrible, but that's war. That's what Bush signed us up for. He signed us up for "liberating" a people who don't all want to be "liberated" by us. And, according to the Nazis who control your public discourse, the proper response is to, in the words of political pundits Metallica, "Kill 'Em All." Maybe we should have sought international consensus from the Germans, after all... I bet they could loan us their gas chambers.

Vietnam parallels are too easy: "We had to bomb the village in order to save it." Of course, Bush wouldn't know.

We can't cut and run. Kerry must come out in favor of establishing a free, sovereign Iraq. But we must do that by establishing law and order. And the way to do that is not by committing mass murder. Even the Nazis eventually lost.

- Marc
You gotta be kidding me. This article shows commitment to a joke that is truly impressive.

Here's a couple:

Later this year, the administration plans to put into operation the first phase of a system to intercept and destroy incoming ballistic missiles....

Top officials continued that public focus right up to the eve of the al Qaeda attacks. On Aug. 2, 2001, Cheney emphasized the bold new U.S. plan for a 21st century approach to security. "We're fundamentally transforming the U.S. strategic relationship around the world as we look at missile defenses and modifications to our offensive strategic arms," he said at a news conference with Republican congressional leaders on Capitol Hill.

And two days before Sept. 11, appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," Rice said the administration was ready "to get serious about the business of dealing with this emergent threat. Ballistic missiles are ubiquitous now."

--This is ridiculous! Everyone knows that what we really need is some tax cuts for the fabulously wealthy to combat Al-Qaeda. Oh, and all the plebians can have $250 for their troubles.


Wednesday, March 31, 2004

War Is Hell: The news today from Fallujah, Iraq, is horrifying. The pictures tell the story.

Myth: "They will welcome us as liberators." - Dick Cheney
Reality: Yahoo News Search results for Fallujah

Why are we in Iraq again? It's not because of weapons of mass destruction, because even Bush makes jokes about those. It's not because Saddam Hussein had a connection with 9/11, because even Bush has said he didn't. So... why?

That's not a rhetorical question.

- Marc
Et Tu, Etc.? The New Republic's Noam Scheiber, whose blog Etc. I greatly admire, joins the chorus of support for an admitted inventor of "rings-true" facts, David Brooks. In an apparent attempt to prove his moderate political stance, one of my favorite fellow John Edwards supporters describes the recent Brooks expose:

This, as should by now be apparent, is an exceedingly lame and tedious exercise.

His main quibble with Issenberg's "takedown," in other words, is that it is SUCH A DRAG, MAN. He then proceeds to take down this Issenberg character, who, last time I checked, is not a columnist for the nation's paper of record. Who cares if Issenberg's report was sloppy if his main thrust was correct? Scheiber concedes as much:

It misses the broader point that Brooks does tend to be a little careless, and that he takes frequent liberties with his descriptions.

Scheiber then accuses his fellow journalists of jealousy. "I get the impression that journalists like me are perpetually annoyed that Brooks has, in a sense, been a highly successful journalistic entrepreneur," he muses loftily. Granted, as a 22-year-old journalist on the verge of unemployment, I am jealous of both Brooks and Schreiber. But again, what does that have to do with anything?

The question remains: Has a major columnist for the nation's paper of record shown a history of peddling stereotypes as facts? Has he called them "jokes" only when criticized? That's certainly the Ann Coulter approach. And it's the David Brooks approach, too. Even Scheiber notes, "Come to think of it, my hunch is that Brooks was batting above .500 in the original NPR/Doris Kearns Goodwin/socially conscious-investing example." Above .500? This isn't baseball! This is a prominent piece in the Atlantic Monthly! If you're pulling near-fiction out of your ass like a crazier Hunter Thompson, you'd better not posit yourself as a public intellectual.

How does Scheiber, whose publication brought us master scribe Stephen Glass, feel about fabrication? He doesn't say. He'd rather seize a chance to establish his moderate cred by defending a conservative sleazeball. Next week, he'll be writing in defense of Limbaugh.

Brooksy, Whopundit awaits your e-mail.

- Marc
The Sweet Sound of Reason: Air America debuts today. (Here's hoping this Google-bomb works. And that you click the link.)

- Marc

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Demonstrators Swarm Around Rove's Home

Palacios said that Rove was "very upset" and was "yelling in our faces" and that Rove told them "he hoped we were proud to make his 14-year-old and 10-year-old cry."

A White House spokesman said one of the children was a neighbor.

Man, Dick Clarke really rattled them. They can't get any stories straight.


UPDATE: Didn't Karl Rove go to the University of Utah? I'm just sayin' that in Utah, sometimes your neighbors are your children.

Monday, March 29, 2004

It's the Fabrication, Stupid: One of my favorite bloggers, Kevin Drum (the former Calpundit) has come out on the side of my fearsome rival, the dark lord David Brooks. "Oh hell, someone has to defend David Brooks," he writes, perhaps under the influence of Guatemalan insanity peppers. Furthermore, he finds that Brooks' premises are completely correct (not, as my girlfriend observed when I tried to explain the piece to her, "stupid") and that Issenberg uncovered only one factual error.

To wit, my rebuttal:

So it's OK to just publish stereotypes as facts, and anyone who points out that you're just coming up with facts out of your ass is merely being humorless and pedantic? AND the article only found one factual error?

I'm sorry, but no journalist should just sit at home and make stuff up.

Let's do a CAP-style takedown of Mr. Brooks...

Myth: (from Brooks) In Blue America we have NPR, Doris Kearns Goodwin, and socially conscious investing.

Fact: (from Philadelphia mag) According to sales data, one of Goodwin's strongest markets has been deep-Red McAllen, Texas.

Myth: In Red America they have QVC

Fact: "I would guess our audience would skew toward Blue areas of the country," says Doug Rose, the network's vice president of merchandising and brand development

Myth: When it comes to yard work, they have rider mowers; we have illegal aliens

Fact: Actually, six of the top 10 states in terms of illegal-alien population are Red

Myth: We in the coastal metro Blue areas read more books

Fact: A 2003 University of Wisconsin-Whitewater study of America's most literate cities doesn't necessarily agree. Among the study's criteria was the presence of bookstores and libraries; 20 of the 30 most literate cities were in Red states

Myth: "Very few of us," Brooks wrote of his fellow Blue Americans, "could name even five nascar drivers, although stock-car races are the best-attended sporting events in the country"

Fact: He might want to take his name-recognition test to the streets of the 2002 nascar Winston Cup Series's highest-rated television markets -- three of the top five were in Blue states. (Philadelphia was fifth nationally.)

Myth: In Montgomery County we have Saks Fifth Avenue, Cartier, Anthropologie, Brooks Brothers. In Franklin County they have Dollar General and Value City, along with a plethora of secondhand stores

Fact: In fact, while Franklin has 14 stores with the word "dollar" in their name -- plus one Value City -- Montgomery County, Maryland, has 34, including one that's within walking distance of an Anthropologie in Rockville.

Myth: "On my journeys to Franklin County, I set a goal: I was going to spend $20 on a restaurant meal. But although I ordered the most expensive thing on the menu -- steak au jus, slippery beef pot pie,' or whatever -- I always failed. [NOTE USE OF WORD "ALWAYS," WHICH INDICATES THERE SHOULD BE NO OR FEW EXCEPTIONS IF HE ACTUALLY DID THIS] I began asking people to direct me to the most expensive places in town. They would send me to Red Lobster or Applebee's," he wrote. "I'd scan the menu and realize that I'd been beaten once again. I went through great vats of chipped beef and ?seafood delight' trying to drop $20. I waded through enough surf-and-turfs and enough creamed corn to last a lifetime. I could not do it."

Fact: Taking Brooks's cue, I lunched at the Chambersburg Red Lobster and quickly realized that he could not have waded through much surf-and-turf at all. The "Steak and Lobster" combination with grilled center-cut New York strip is the most expensive thing on the menu. It costs $28.75. "Most of our checks are over $20," said Becka, my waitress. "There are a lot of ways to spend over $20."

...And so on. Note that Issenberg says, "The basic premises of Brooks's articles aren't necessarily wrong." It's the fabrication, stupid.

Again, I challenge Brooksy. Is an old-style Alexander Hamilton duel more your cup of double-whipped foam latte than a rap battle? I'm not down for this Republican, knife-in-the-back stuff, so that's off the table. Maybe a spelling bee?

- Marc

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