Corporate Secrecy Sucks

Lately, I've been doing some work on expanding the Some of Nothing empire into other areas. One thing I'm trying to do is go predominantly organic and open a store on, thereby capitalizing on Amazon's currently well-traveled marketplace and getting Some of Nothing Designs in front of more eyes. However, I've heard some negative things about Amazon Corp in the past, so I've been hesitant.

One thing I've heard (via, which is now defunct) is that Amazon donates heavily to the Republican Party. Since part of Some of Nothing's mission statement is to build an empire on the backs of Republicans, it would be counterproductive of us to be helping the Republican Party in the process. So, I decided to email Amazon and ask whether or not they do, in fact, donate heavily to Republicans.

The response I received:

Please note that who donates funds to is internal information and not available to the public, nor is our department given this information.
It's true that I received this response within hours of my inquiry, so from a customer service perspective, I guess we could give Amazon Corp a tiny plus there. But as far as information transparency is concerned, what is a consumer/empire builder to do?

Contributions from this [Amazon] PAC to federal candidates (61% to Democrats, 39% to Republicans)
Doesn't it seem like, if corporations are allowed to donate to political campaigns, they should have to tell us what they're doing with our money? Neocons tend to complain heavily about how the government uses their money (especially when they think it's being mean to Jesus). But the only way they know how their money is spent is that the law requires quite a bit of governmental transparency--except in the case of National Defense. Not so much for corporations. So, if neocons can get all bent out of shape over how the government uses their money, why don't they care to know how corporations use it?

Just askin.

Nothing New byslag at 4:03 PM 4 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Rachel Maddow v. Joe Scarborough: A Template

I've inadvertently discovered the template for nearly every discussion between Rachel Maddow and Joe Scarborough about any issue:

Maddow: This [insert issue here] is stupid. We need to change it.
Scarborough: This is the way it is.
Maddow: I understand this is the way it is. It's stupid. We should change it to [insert amendment to issue here].
Scarborough: This is the way it is. If you were as smart and experienced as I am, you would know this is the way it is.
Maddow: I understand this is the way it is! But--
[insert interruption by debate moderator here, and begin banging head against wall]

Coincidentally, I think this template works for almost any conversation between a liberal and a conservative.

/public service announcement

Nothing New byslag at 3:07 PM 4 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Obama's Geek Appeal: Economists are now hip?

First, it was technology geeks--well-known early adopters--that took a liking to Obama. Now, it's economics geeks (h/t BryAnn again):

Is Obama's economic street cred part of his electoral appeal among the youngsters? From the WaPo:

Election after election, when all the obvious story lines are exhausted, the media tend to turn to an oldie but goody: "Will this be the race where young people finally start voting?" Youth vote advocates insist that young people are more dialed in than ever this year, while political hacks who have been in the business for decades roll their eyes at the notion.

Given that, The Fix recognizes the danger in making the following statement: The youth vote will matter in 2008. A look back over the last few months shows a massive increase in youth (people ages 18 through 29) voting; the number of young people voting quadrupled in Tennessee and tripled in states such as Iowa, Missouri and Texas, according to a new study by Harvard University's Institute of Politics.

The report goes on to say that the growth in young people's participation in the electoral process is not a "one-time phenomenon" but, rather, represents a "civic reawakening of a new generation."


The economy was by far the most important issue to the [young voter] group -- a noteworthy development that suggests the concerns of young voters are not so different from the worries of the older electorate. [emphasis mine]
I'm not an economics geek myself, so I find high-level (mostly theoretical) discussions on the subject fairly useful. That's why I enjoy reading Paul Krugman's musings on the subject. Since Krugman is a straight-up Hillary man (once Edwards dropped), it is sometimes a challenge to read his columns without irritation. But the economy is bigger than politics. And for those who know very little on the subject--such as myself and John McCain--it helps to get a variety of perspectives. Glad to see some big economic names come out for Obama and glad to see the youngsters getting hip to both the economy and politics (and possibly by extension, to Obama).

Nothing New byslag at 10:59 AM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Can Obama Help Us Break Free from the Matrix?

I've mentioned before how those of us who want to start being treated like adults by politicians and the media have a vested interest in Obama's success this election. Reading about Obama's rebellion against a purely pandering gas tax holiday proposal reconfirms my sentiments (from the Boston Globe):

Barack Obama is not backing down in his opposition to a so-called gas tax holiday this summer. If anything, he's becoming more vocal in calling it a bad idea and slamming John McCain and Hillary Clinton for proposing it.

He told voters in Winston-Salem, N.C., this afternoon that suspending the 18.4-cent-a-gallon federal gas tax between Memorial Day and Labor Day would save them only about $25 to $30.

Some economists, he said, believe the proposal could backfire and actually raise prices by increasing demand. "We don't know that the oil companies will actually pass on the savings," he added.

And by taking revenue away from the Highway Trust Fund, which finances road and bridge repairs, the gas tax holiday could delay badly needed improvements and cost thousands of construction jobs, including 7,000 in North Carolina, he told voters.

"This is the problem with Washington," Obama declared. "We're arguing over a gimmick that will save you half a tank of gas. It's not an idea to get you through the summer. It's an idea to get them through an election."
The Clinton and McCain strategy here is to placate voters by pretending that a gas tax holiday will solve a problem when it won't. They know this, and we know this. And McCain and Clinton are relying on the willingness of voters to be lied to while knowing they're being lied to. This type of politics--transactional politics--is exactly what's on trial in this election. Are we going to continue telling politicians that we're stupid by validating their behavior toward us? That we are happy to continue being pandered to? That we accept their kind of politics as "just the way it is"?

Or are we going to choose a kind of politics--transformational politics--that is about washing away the pretense and getting to the root of our problems? Obama has had moments of proving that he thinks higher of us than others do. He has had moments of speaking to us in a way that challenges us to be better than we're used to being treated. Sometimes--like before the Pennsylvania primary--he has shown signs of doubt. Either unsure about our ability to live up to expectations or unsure about his own ability to help us live up to them. Sloughing off the old politics is scary and tough. So, we need to be committed and know to our bones that it's possible.

This gas tax holiday proposal may seem like a minor issue--unworthy of this big debate. But the real questions in this election are much bigger. Can Obama help us help ourselves out of this fake reality in which we are confined by pretense and distraction? Can we prove ourselves worthy of a president who doesn't try to cajole us with lapel pins, jello molds, and phony legislation? Can Obama prove himself worthy of an electorate who is going to challenge his ideas and force him to be secure in himself and in us? Fighting back on the little issues is a necessary step toward fighting back on the big ones. And by fighting back on the gas tax holiday, Obama is reminding us why he has gotten as far as he has in this election.

Deep down, people crave the red pill.

Donate to Obama's campaign to get yourself a new kind of politics!

UPDATE: Here's someone who agrees (h/t BryAnn and via the Kos):

UPDATE 2: Here's a not entirely new video clip of George Stephanoupolis agreeing as well:

Old is new again.

Nothing New byslag at 9:36 PM 4 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Economy, Environment, War: Are they still relevant?

My biggest problem with the massive scale of the Jeremiah Wright "controversy" is that conventional wisdom suggests that personal attack politics depresses voter turnout. Especially among the youngsters. And when voter turnout is depressed, Democrats lose. So, when either Democratic candidate engages in this nonsense (eg, "he wouldn't be my pastor" or "she's pretending to be Annie Oakley"), only one person wins. That person is John McCain. Well, him and "his base," the US press corps.

With that in mind, it's time to discuss a few actual and real, non-personal destruction-dependent, issues of note right now that a handful of members of the press are actually looking into. And, strangely enough, those issues are intricately connected. So, without further ado:
1. Gas prices are out of control and some presidential candidates are considering lifting the weak-assed gas tax temporarily as a means to ease the pain. Most people say that's a stupid idea. But stupidity is what pandering politicians thrive on, so that puts it squarely on the table. Here's what Krugman says about it:

Why doesn't cutting the gas tax this summer make sense? It's Econ 101 tax incidence theory: if the supply of a good is more or less unresponsive to the price, the price to consumers will always rise until the quantity demanded falls to match the quantity supplied. Cut taxes, and all that happens is that the pretax price rises by the same amount.
Here's to hoping some sense gets injected into the silly season.

2. The Decider wants to reopen the ANWR issue as a way to reduce gas prices. The problem is most people say that's a stupid idea (where have I heard that before?):
"I would say under the best of circumstances it would take approximately 10 years" for any ANWR oil to make it into the market, said Philip Budzik, an EIA analyst.

"Even if oil was flowing, it would be too small amount to reduce the price" of crude or gasoline, said Daniel Weiss, energy expert at the Center for American Progress, a think tank in Washington.

"President Bush's claim ignores the primary causes behind record high oil prices: a cheap dollar, high demand from China and India, and speculators driving the price up. Drilling and sullying the Arctic would not address any of these causes of high oil prices," said Weiss.
There's no point in hoping some sense gets injected into the strategerizer-in-chief.

3. People are still dying in Iraq:
BAGHDAD (AP) — Bombardments by suspected militants killed four U.S. soldiers Monday as troops tried to push Shiite fighters farther from the U.S.-protected Green Zone and out of range of their rockets and mortars.

At least 44 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq in April, making it the deadliest month for U.S. forces since September.
What's the point of this war again?

Well, now that we've done our part to actually improve voter turnout by discussing the real issues, I'm the one that's depressed. Oil, economy, environment, war. Who knew those could be such downers? If only a mildly crazy pastor were here to cheer me up. Oh wait! Here he is.

Nothing New byslag at 6:13 PM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

John McCain Loves America's Lawyers (for now)

John McCain is none too happy with this ad from the DNC:

Apparently, using his own words against him is not one of McCain's American values. Luckily, however, John McCain does find some value in this country in the form of its legal system:

The RNC is ginning up the threat of legal action to give weight to their criticism of the ad's content. [RNC lawyer Sean] Cairncross would not say whether the party will sue CNN or MSNBC, the two cable networks airing the ad, if they refuse to kill it.

The RNC's content charge is not black and white. The DNC wrote the ad carefully. Nowhere does the narrator or any chyron state that McCain is fine with the Iraqi war persisting for 100 years. The visuals -- explosions, bloodied troops -- take care of that association.
Wait a second! I thought Democrats were the only ones who liked to sue people. And wait a second! I thought the war was a winning issue for McCain.

So, lawyers are generally bad except when John McCain needs them to prevent the airing of a commercial that shows McCain--himself--talking about his position on an issue that he thinks he can win on. No wonder we can't discuss any meaningful issues this election. These little things are all so confusing.

And of course, the press gives McCain a helping hand here:

The AP article lede reads:

"The Republican National Committee demanded Monday that television networks stop running a television ad by the Democratic Party that falsely suggests John McCain wants a 100-year war in Iraq."

So, as you can see, the AP begins by stating as fact the McCain camp's claim that the ad is false. Then it actually directly misstates what the ad says.

In other words: what atrios said.

PS Wasn't the reason that John McCain opposed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act because it would give those crafty trial lawyers more business? I guess fair pay for everyone isn't nearly as important as John McCain winning the presidency. Who knew?

Nothing New byslag at 12:09 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

The Press Corps Fiddles

Much of the press corps kissed their Decider goodbye this weekend at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner with celebrities and marching bands and champaign and everything:

The lasting image of President Bush at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner may be this: bouncing slightly off-beat with a gleeful smile on his face and a baton in his hand last night as he conducted "The President's Own" U.S. Marine Band through a medley of patriotic songs.

Leave it to Bush to shake up an event that, after 93 years, has become as traditional, perhaps even formulaic, in its trappings as a recipe: Start with Hollywood glamour. Add heaping spoonfuls of bona fide Beltway celebrity, and stir. Top with the president of the United States. Place in an overly warm hotel ballroom for several hours, then serve.
Oh! The frivolity! Martha Stewart and Colin Powell in the same room? Maybe they chatted over the details of the Pottery Barn rule. Such fun and whimsy to be had! And imagine their glee getting back to "work" just to spend hours and hours and inches and inches drooling over how a mildly controversial pastor, Jeremiah Wright, "goes to war". Apparently, Chris Matthews was right, after all: this is Obama's Iraq. I guess it would be too much to ask of this bunch of superficial airheads, who heartily laughs at "No WMD over here" jokes, to consider toning things down a bit in this time of actual war. We know that the last seven years have taught them nothing, but watching them unabashedly bathe in self-congratulation and cronyism is a bit much to take.

Luckily, it looks like Elizabeth Edwards is appalled by their triviality as well and has told them so:
I’m not the only one who noticed this shallow news coverage. A report by the Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy found that during the early months of the 2008 presidential campaign, 63 percent of the campaign stories focused on political strategy while only 15 percent discussed the candidates’ ideas and proposals. [emphasis mine]
These shocking numbers mean little to people who can't be bothered to cover the well-documented New York Times story about the war propaganda to which we've been subjected for the last seven years. And as for the New York Times, who boycotted the dinner because "[t]hese events can create a false perception that reporters and their sources are pals, and that perception could cloud our credibility," they were called "sanctimonious whining jerks". Well, count me among the "sanctimonious whining jerks" crowd because I support their boycott wholeheartedly. And I will be subscribing to the Sunday edition of the NYT, as a result.

We miss you, Stephen Colbert:

Nothing New byslag at 3:45 PM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Obama Passes Basic Commander-in-Chief Test

While Hillary has been busy taking her Commander-in-Chief cues from the Cold War, Obama has been reminding us what the Commander-in-Chief is actually supposed to do:

I will listen to Gen Petraeus given the experience he has accumulated over the last several years. It would be stupid of me to ignore what he has to say. But it is my job as President, it would be my job as Commander in Chief to set the mission. To make the strategic decision in light of the problems we’re having in Afghanistan, in light of the problems we’re having in Pakistan, the fact that al-Qaeda is strengthening as our national intelligence estimates have indicated and I have a whole host of tasks and I have to worry about the military has no strategic reserve right now…
It would be super swell if someone would be kind enough to keep repeating Obama's observation to every single member of the establishment press and the current Commander-in-Chief who keep implying that it's the military who is actually in charge here. Last I checked, the US wasn't a military dictatorship. I wish more people who love America so very much would remember that fact.

Nothing New byslag at 1:44 PM 1 dispenses karmic justice! (or just comments here)

Friday Cat Blogging (Literally)

My cat blogs (h/t Gye Greene)

Nothing New byslag at 6:03 PM 4 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Other People's Genius: The Daily Show Edition

For being one of the few people on TV to care enough about the pentagon's infiltration of television "journalism" to actually cite documentation, Jon Stewart gets his own edition of Other People's Genius (all video courtesy of Crooks and Liars).

* First up, Jon Stewart hilariously outs the pentagon's "Message Force Multipliers":


* Then, Jon Stewart mocks the media's reaction to Clinton's 9.2% win in Pennsylvania and the evolution of Hillary's opinion of Democratic voters:


* Finally, Jon Stewart observes how John McCain responds to the endorsement of a God-damning-America pastor:


Glad to see Jon Stewart's not going soft after all (now, if only his team could find a better way to post their videos...). Happy other people's genius Friday!

Nothing New byslag at 3:47 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Pure Cable News Jackassery

I read it in the comments at Balloon Juice but had to see it for myself. On Hardball, Chris Matthews talks about Obama's relationship with Reverend Jeremiah Wright and actually says...really actually says..."This is his Iraq...This is his Iraq."

Un-f*&@ing believable! Are you serious? Like seriously, are you serious? Raising Obama's relationship with a mildly controversial pastor to the level of Bush's waging a pre-emptive war that has claimed thousands of American lives and untold Iraqi lives and billions of dollars? Not to mention the torture, the lies about torture, and the strategic failures included therein. You can't be serious!

Chris Matthews: This is his Iraq...This is his Iraq.
I guess you're serious. Is there any better example of the problems with cable news today than Matthews' horrifically telling statement? If Chris Matthews thinks that I care as much about Obama's pastor as I do about the Iraq War, he has no sense of what the "common folk" are thinking. He needs to stop pretending to. They all do. This is outrageous, and these people need to learn what it's like out here in the real world. Where we care about real things. Like...I don't know...people dying needlessly, exacerbating a threat to our own lives, losing our civil know, petty bourgeois stuff like that.


And have I mentioned that you should sign this f'ing petition telling the media they suck?

Nothing New byslag at 8:51 AM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

The Tao of Pugilism

Ever since my dreaded illness, I've been bemoaning a change in my daily rhythm. During the week or so I was sick, my sleep cycle got totally screwed, and from there, my morning exercise regimen has been nearly nonexistent. Going to sleep late means getting up late, and getting up late means no time to work out, and no workout means low energy, and low energy get the idea. Subsequently, I've been noticing how hard it has been to get that rhythm back and have even tried drugging myself to sleep early in the hopes of breaking it. Sadly, no luck. The rhythm I had is gone, and I'm compelled to work much harder to get it back again.

Conversely, at the church of pugilism on Sunday, I was hitting the speed bag (real boxers call this working the speed bag, but I'm not a real boxer nor do I play one on the internets), and I noticed that my rhythm there has hardly changed over what seems like years. Slow, and methodical, 1-1-2-2-1-1-2-2-1-1-2-2, my sluggish raps of the bag made me realize that I needed to try to pick up the pace a bit. I was in a speed bag rut and, in order to raise my skill-level, I was going to have to willfully shake up my rhythm.

Cue the 30-second clock.

Generally, at the church of pugilism, our circuit is based on 3-minute rounds. Three minutes of one heavy bag, three minutes of another, three minutes of the speed bag, and so forth. However, once in a while, those 3-minute rounds are divided up by the 30-second clock in order to induce some sort of change. Such as, 30 seconds hard punches, 30 seconds light punches, 30 seconds hard...until the 3 minutes is up. And in some cases, such as when you're on the speed bag, the 30-second clock can either be ignored or it can be used however you want it. In my case, the 30-second clock gave me a measured opportunity to fluctuate my rhythm on the speed bag in the hopes of making it faster over time.

To me (and many others, I'm sure), it's, mentally, much easier to change a behavior for 30 seconds than it is for three minutes. In life, three minutes generally isn't all that long, but on the eighth round of a seemingly brutal circuit, three minutes can feel like an eternity. So, focusing intensely on a different rhythm for 30 seconds works much better for me than even contemplating doing it for three whole minutes. And even though the 30-second clock does break up my rhythm, periodically, my rhythm could use a little breaking up. Like when I get too comfortable with what I'm doing, and consequently, I'm not getting any better at it. Other times, like when I'm in a good rhythm, having it broken makes it all the more difficult to improve. Rhythm is a nuisance.

Nonetheless, it would seem that, in order to get my sleep and exercise cycles back to where I want them, I'm going to need to find something that works like the 30-second clock to help me change my behaviors. Some sort of disciplinary tool I can use to induce a change. I'm guessing that either reward-based or punishment-based would work equally well. It seems the trick is to make it relatively short-term and direct. So, I'm going to go for reward-based (who wouldn't?) to get me back on track. After three weeks of resuming my workout schedule, I'm going to do something nice for myself. Maybe a relaxing weekend. Maybe a pleasant massage. Either one would be waaaaay zen.

Nothing New byslag at 9:09 AM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Reason to Hope

Obama's Pennsylvania speech last night reminded me of one of his better qualities--he can be taught. First, he dutifully acknowledged Clinton's win: "I want to thank all of you who are here tonight, but I want to start tonight by congratulating Senator Clinton on her victory this evening...". He essentially 'fessed up to running a lame campaign lately:

After 14 long months, it's easy to forget — after 14 long months, it's easy to forget what this campaign's about from time to time, to lose sight of the fierce urgency of this moment.

It's easy to get caught up in the distractions and the silliness and the tit-for-tat that consumes our politics, the bickering that none of us are entirely immune to, and it trivializes the profound issues: two wars, an economy in recession, a planet in peril, issues that confront our nation.

That kind of politics is not why we are here tonight. It's not why I'm here, and it's not why you're here.
And then, he immediately turned on McCain:
We already know what we're getting out of the other party's nominee. John McCain has offered this country a lifetime of service, and we respect that. But what he's not offering is any meaningful change from the policies of George W. Bush.

John McCain believes that George Bush's Iraq policy is a success, so he's offering four more years of a war with no exit strategy, a war that's sending our troops on their third tour, and their fourth tour, and their fifth tour of duty, a war that's cost us billions of dollars and thousands of lives, thousands more grievously injured, a war that has not made us more safe, but has distracted us from the task at hand in Afghanistan ... a war that should have never been authorized and should have never been waged.

John McCain said that — John McCain said that George Bush's economic policies have led to, and I quote, 'great progress' over the last seven years. And so he's promising four more years of tax cuts for CEOs and corporations who didn't need them and weren't asking for them, tax cuts that he once voted against because he said they offended his conscience.

Well, they may have stopped offending John McCain's conscience somewhere along the road to the White House, but George Bush's economic policies still offend my conscience, and they still offend yours.

That's exactly what he's needed to do for a while now. Bring on the change!

Plus, to make matters even more hopeful, the New York Times editorial board has started making sense:

The Pennsylvania campaign, which produced yet another inconclusive result on Tuesday, was even meaner, more vacuous, more desperate, and more filled with pandering than the mean, vacuous, desperate, pander-filled contests that preceded it.

Voters are getting tired of it; it is demeaning the political process; and it does not work. It is past time for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to acknowledge that the negativity, for which she is mostly responsible, does nothing but harm to her, her opponent, her party and the 2008 election.

Maybe, next, the NYT will set its sights on the vacuously mean columns of Maureen Dowd and Gail Collins. We can only hope.

UPDATE: Melissa McEwan at Shakesville makes the case for mean, vacuous, desperate pandering. Takes all kinds, I guess.

Nothing New byslag at 7:28 AM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Earth to Obama

Earth Day is no longer relevant; Obama lost Pennsylvania after running an idiotic campaign there; season four of Battlestar Galactica is on the verge of jumping all the sharks on the planet. Is the rapture here yet?

Nothing New byslag at 8:27 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

La La Laaaa La La

When did Daria go commercial?

The last time I had TV, Daria was still on the air.

Creative Commons + Interwebs = True Love Always

Nothing New byslag at 7:54 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

A New Symbolic Issue for ABC to Ask Obama About

Something tells me that neocons may be pushing the boundaries of even George Stephanopoulos' puerility by trying to take down Lawrence Lessig, Google, net neutrality, and Barack Obama all in one, what David Brooks would call, "symbolic issue":

Barack Obama's campaign has regularly cited Lessig as a key supporter on technology issues (see here too) and made sure Lessig was quoted when listing Obama's technology endorsers.

Obama's campaign has also used Lessig to reach out to journalists writing about Obama's tech positions.

It's no secret that the Obama campaign does not want to be tied too directly to Lessig. In addition to happily showing off blasphemous images of Christ, Lessig is also known as a digital communist (read the linked article for the substance of why he's called that) Lessig believes there should be no such thing as intellectual property rights -- patents and copyrights should be tossed. Lessig's anti-property theories give businesses and a lot of regular folks the heebie-jeebies. After all, if the government can strip you of your intellectual property, why can't it take away your real property?
Yes, "it's no secret" that Obama avoids Lessig like the plague. That's why Obama's campaign "has regularly cited" him as a key technology issues supporter.

What do the tea leaves tell you, neocons? Please let ABC know so that they can be sure to devote the next hour they get with the candidates to Obama's Lessig-Google-Techno-Pagan-Marxist-Fascism.


Those who really want to know what Lawrence Lessig actually talks about should check out his presentation at TED:

And listen to him on the Sam Seder Show:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Nothing New byslag at 2:10 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Pentagon Arms Analysts Instead of Soldiers

The web is all a flutter due to information revealed in the recent New York Times article about how the US government is shaping coverage of the war by arming supposed independent analysts with Pentagon talking points. As several have noted, the article is a definite must-read, but if nothing else, remember this the next time you see a retired military general on the teevee giving his expert "objective" opinion:

Five years into the Iraq war, most details of the architecture and execution of the Pentagon’s [propaganda] campaign have never been disclosed. But The Times successfully sued the Defense Department to gain access to 8,000 pages of e-mail messages, transcripts and records describing years of private briefings, trips to Iraq and Guantánamo and an extensive Pentagon talking points operation.

These records reveal a symbiotic relationship where the usual dividing lines between government and journalism have been obliterated.
(Score one for the judiciary! And, grudgingly, the New York Times.) Nonetheless, to add insult to injury, the irony meter goes to eleven with this little ditty:
Again and again, records show, the administration has enlisted analysts as a rapid reaction force to rebut what it viewed as critical news coverage, some of it by the networks’ own Pentagon correspondents. For example, when news articles revealed that troops in Iraq were dying because of inadequate body armor, a senior Pentagon official wrote to his colleagues: “I think our analysts — properly armed — can push back in that arena.” [emphasis mine]
Well, at least they were arming someone in this war. "Sorry troops; no armor for you. We've got to arm our analysts with talking points to explain why you aren't getting armor. Just learn to duck. Fast!"

Everyone's been talking about the dearth of anti-war perspectives in the news, and coincidentally, I was just re-reading this post from back in March about CNN's Pentagon correspondentmouthpiece supposedly countering pro-war Michael O'Hanlon's point-of-view and keeping him "honest" in their discussion of the war. The notion that the disinformation campaign discussed in the NYT article is restricted to supposed independent analysts is, in my mind, silly. But how far it seeps into a TV network's own internal analytical coverage of the war may be hard to measure. Seems to me that CNN's Barbara Starr's coverage should get a deeper look-see.

I'm certain there will be more to discuss on this later, but just to twist the knife, here are two disturbing videos brought back from the days of yore:
1. Rupert Murdoch admits to Charlie Rose that his "news" outlets intentionally try to shape opinion about Bush's war (h/t Four-Tower):

2. Amy Goodman interviews that one Centcom guy who talks about the massive theater set they constructed to pretend to be Centcom for the benefit of the viewing public:

(Score 2 for the interwebs!) I won't bring back the video from Katie Couric's "we're kind of not making it kinda dramatic enough, you know?" Iranian speedboat coverage,'s the weekend, and who needs to see that on the weekend? But the larger question remains (as always): What more can we do to make every single US citizen aware of these kinds of propaganda techniques and how they are used to influence our opinions?

Nothing New byslag at 11:34 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

It's Official: Hillary Clinton is Not Your Friend

Hillary Clinton explains why she's lost this primary:

We have been less successful in caucuses because it brings out the activist base of the Democratic Party. MoveOn didn't even want us to go into Afghanistan. I mean, that's what we're dealing with. And you know they turn out in great numbers. And they are very driven by their view of our positions, and it's primarily national security and foreign policy that drives them. I don't agree with them. They know I don't agree with them. So they flood into these caucuses and dominate them and really intimidate people who actually show up to support me.
Yes, Hillary. We know you don't agree with us. But are your supporters really so easily swayed? Are they threatened with bodily harm? Are the crazy peace activists who don't support you putting a gun to the heads of your real supporters? And why are you lying about MoveOn and Afghanistan? Would you call that Rovian, by chance?

Quick! We need another debate so that we can find out why Obama won't reject/denounce his lunatic peace-nik supporters who are threatening violence toward Hillary's voters!

UPDATE: Matthew Yglesias makes a substantive point about why Hillary's statement reflects a larger problem with her strategy:
The Clintons, and many of their key supporters, come out of a school of political analysis which holds that the problem with the Democratic Party in the United States is that progressive institutions are too strong. Only by curbing the influence of these institutions, the theory goes, can Democratic Party politicians engage in the tactical repositioning necessary to win elections.

Whether or not that was true in 1988-92 or, indeed, whether or not it remains true today, this is clearly not a long-term strategy for progressive politics. This "crush the left, move to the right" theory of electoral political may or may not work for politicians in the short run, but to create big change you need to strengthen progressive institutions and move the entire spectrum to the left.
Yglesias' argument essentially sums up many of my problems with Hillary's entire campaign (and even several parts of Obama's, as I've mentioned before).

Nothing New byslag at 6:42 PM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Other People's Genius: Real Issues Edition

* Crooks and Liars has been working with the ACLU to fight torture:

I got word that we’ve sent 80,127 letters to Congress so far. That’s amazing in such a short time. Thank you for you participation. And I want to thank all the bloggers that joined in also. Barack Obama just came out on the latest Bush/torture revelations—saying that he would consider asking his “new Attorney General and his deputies to “immediately review the information that’s already there” and determine if an inquiry is warranted.”

This is excellent news. I still need your help in two ways. I’ve been emailing ABC News to ask them to have Charles Gibson bring up the torture issue during Wednesday’s debate since ABC actually broke the news.
If only Charles had listened to John! (Ironically, just before the "debate", I had planned a blog post praising ABC on their torture story). I submitted my letter to Congress. Have you?

* Glenn Greenwald continues to correct the record as far as Attorney General Mukasey's lies about FISA and terrorism are concerned:
There are several updates in the ongoing fallout from Michael Mukasey's patently false claims made in the speech he delivered several weeks ago in San Francisco regarding FISA and the 9/11 attacks. This week, Mukasey responded to a letter he received from John Conyers and two other Subcommittee Chair in which Mukasey acknowledged (because he was forced to) that the call he claimed originated from an "Afghan safe house" into the U.S. was fictitious, but he nonetheless vaguely asserted that his underlying point -- that FISA unduly restricted pre-9/11 eavesdropping and prevented detection of those attacks -- was somehow still accurate.

In the reply sent on Mukasey's behalf (.pdf), the DOJ claimed that the telephone call did not originate from Afghanistan but from another country he refused to identify, and further claimed that the call Mukasey was referencing was discussed in the Joint Inquiry Report -- which, as I noted when I first received the same explanation from the DOJ, reached the opposite conclusion of the one Mukasey was trying to advance: namely, that Report concluded that the Bush administration had all the authority it needed under FISA to intercept and investigate any such calls, and its failure to do so had nothing to do with any supposedly excessive constraints imposed by law.
Where I come from, there are penalties when an Attorney General lies.

* Tristero discusses the "major debacle" of the Iraq War:
For years I have said that any serious plan to confront the catastrophe created by Bush's utterly immoral invasion, conquest, and occupation of Iraq must acknowledge the unavoidable step one: Bush must leave office and a sensible president of the United States must be elected. In short there is nothing anyone can do but wait.

I realize that is a horrible plan, not much better than strengthening interagency planning. But it has the virtue of being honest and of not pretending anything can be done now that has a hope of mitigating the disaster.
The fact is that people are anxious to move beyond the Bush years and look ahead to A New Hope. But we know we need to keep on top of the guy who The Daily Show has termed "Still President Bush". He's up to stuff, whether we like it or not.

Happy (ominous) other people's genius Friday!

Nothing New byslag at 4:20 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Petition Party

MoveOn has a petition deriding ABC's coverage and--more importantly--linking it to the larger concerns about reporting, in general. They're a little late to the game here since we've already got a petition of our own out saying the same thing (only with more words because more is always better).

Even though there's now some competition in the "tell the media they suck" petition marketplace, I think ours is still super important. It's a good thing that MoveOn has decided to dedicate time and resources to this issue because it's an indication that they, a national organization, see some value in it. And, given the amount of resources they have, they're more likely to get some serious traction out of it. However, our petition is still necessary because it's people-powered and shows that, even though we don't have the resources of MoveOn, we are concerned enough to spend what little time and energy we have on it ourselves. Plus, our petition removes some of the political motivation out of it. We're not making a name. We're making a point. That's important (read: sign our petition!).

The point we're making is that we, the real people the media often claims to speak for, don't like the stuff they think we like. The media uses their web stats to justify their choices to spew irrelevance because those stats apparently indicate that people click more on the irrelevant, frivolous stories. Even if I weren't skeptical about those statistics, I would argue that people mostly choose to read the stories that the media actually does well. And most often, it's the stupid crap that they actually do well rather than the more complex issue-driven stories. They can't do the complex stuff well enough to make it relevant to people's lives, so they do the stupid stuff and say that's what we want. As I've mentioned before, they can't seem to figure out that their readership/viewership is shrinking because they're not giving us what we want. Trying to out-sleaze Fox "News" and steal their viewership is a losing strategery. They need to start appealing to us.

Or as Jon Stewart explained to them:

Stop hurting America.

Added Bonus
The Daily Show covers the ABC debate (from Crooks and Liars):
(Why is it that Comedy Central can revise its website like a hundred times but still can't figure out a better way to deliver its video? Just wonderin.)

PS I once whined that I wanted people to start being less single-issue focused and more systemic-problem focused. Gye Greene responded by asking what the systemic problems were. I think how our media and government work together to make us stupid is an example of a systemic problem.

Nothing New byslag at 10:24 AM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)


Happy days are here again:

Jet Skis

Nothing New byslag at 9:13 AM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Paul Is Dead*

[blogger is sucking big time right now, so you'll just have to imagine a sarcastic image here]

David Brooks fancies himself Nancy Drew:

First, Democrats, and especially Obama supporters, are going to jump all over ABC for the choice of topics: too many gaffe questions, not enough policy questions.

I understand the complaints, but I thought the questions were excellent. The journalist’s job is to make politicians uncomfortable, to explore evasions, contradictions and vulnerabilities. Almost every question tonight did that. The candidates each looked foolish at times, but that’s their own fault.

We may not like it, but issues like Jeremiah Wright, flag lapels and the Tuzla airport will be important in the fall. Remember how George H.W. Bush toured flag factories to expose Michael Dukakis. It’s legitimate to see how the candidates will respond to these sorts of symbolic issues. [emphasis moi]

Yes, these "issues" are quite "symbolic". Get out your decoder rings, people. We've got some serious detective work to do.

First, did you know Jeremiah Wright is an anagram for "harm rightie jew"? Why has Obama been keeping this anagram of his pastor's name from the American people? Exactly what is he hiding? Whether or not this means Obama is out to destroy Israel is still not entirely clear. But the sequence of these letters certainly raises questions. It's about time that our liberal media starts asking about these sorts of symbolic issues. Somebody get George Stephanopoulos on the phone.


Nothing New byslag at 8:36 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

ABC's Debate Was Only a Symptom

How many times have we heard the statement, "This is just politics", made during some of the lowest points of this election? The people who make it act as if there is some immutable law of nature at work. That we have no control over how we're talked to/at. That we have to suffer being regularly pandered to and lied to and pushed to the sidelines as if we have no control over how these things play out. John Edwards gets a $400 haircut; Hillary Clinton was in the White House with a blue dress; Barack Obama went to a school in Indonesia. All the while, the media plays on tire swings at John McCain's "cabin" in Arizona. Is this all really necessary?

After last night's debate, I'm saying "no more!". With feedback from Kos readers, I created a petition telling the news media that we want a new kind of politics. The petition is intentionally general in scope because I, like many, saw last night's debate as a symptom rather than the entire problem. I'm tired of hearing "this is politics" as an excuse for having my intelligence and my integrity insulted on a regular basis. This is politics because we let it be politics. And we need to change that!

If you agree, please sign and help promote this petition:

Let the media know that we, the people, determine what's politics!

(sorry for the high horse...if only they didn't make me so angry!)

Nothing New byslag at 9:48 AM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Open Letter to the US News Media

Dear Press Corps,
We, The People, demand a new kind of political reporting. One that goes beyond theatrics and "gotcha" questions and answers. We want political reporting that isn't composed mostly of innuendo and simplistic narratives but, instead, is educational, analytical, and thought-provoking. You seem to think that real political issues are boring and impersonal. We think that these issues deeply impact us. And it's not the issues that are banal but it's the way they're often reported that makes them seem so. They're reported as if they have no relevant impact. As if they're only footballs being tossed back and forth between two teams and as if the only winners and losers are those that are directly playing the game. The American people are being treated as cheerleaders and observers, but the reality is that, at this point, we are the real losers of this game. So, we want it to end.

We want the egregious personality-based politics that were exemplified by the first half of the recent ABC presidential debate to be replaced with a politics that directly connects someone's positions with his/her principles. Rather than observing how well presidential candidates can spin their ways out of superficial conflicts, we want to see how well they can explicate their approaches to meaningful issues. We want fewer opportunities for talking points and more opportunities for logical and in-depth explanations (the word "why?", for example, can be quite useful once in a while). Thinking and explaining takes time; we know that. So, we want you to replace the time you take covering our reactions to controversies created by you with coverage of thoughtful responses to complex questions. Many of us are actually smarter than you think. Now, you need to prove that you are actually smarter than we think.

The People

UPDATE: I am getting petition-happy these days (so many issues, so little time). If we get some signatures, I'll submit this letter to major media outlets.
Sign here! And pass it along.

Nothing New byslag at 8:02 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Yo Mama is a Marxist

Anyone who has spent any amount of time with neocons is well aware of their extreme dependence on rumor, innuendo, and presumed guilt-by-association to help them explain their world view. If you don't know any neocons and want to find out for yourself whether they have this dependence, turn on the Fox "News" channel for about 10 minutes. For a group of people who are so strident in their claims that they judge people as individuals and not as groups, the contradiction here is self-evident. But, as we have already seen this election, being internally contradictory doesn't seem to stop them.

For instance, we've all been privy to the whispering campaigns about Obama's presumed Christo-Muslim-Atheism. Then, we learned about Obama's Native American Fascist tendencies. And, for a while now, we've been hearing all about Obama's Marxism as is found in "the kind of environment from which he came ideologically", according to Joe Lieberman. And now comes the revelation that his father wrote a paper titled (gasp) "Problems Facing Our Socialism". Stop the presses:

The article, with a loaded term in the title and a casual discussion of socialism, communism and nationalization, has raised the hackles of some anti-Obama conservatives who have been discussing it online.

Greg Ransom, a blogger who unearthed the journal at the University of California, Los Angeles, library, calls the article "the Rosebud" that provides the missing key to Obama's memoir. Ransom wrote about the article's contents recently in a posting with the provocative headline "Obama Hid His Father's Socialist and Anti-Western Convictions From His Readers."

Lest Greg Ransom claim that I'm hiding something from you, I should probably take this opportunity to divulge the Neocon-ist and Anti-Intellectual Convictions of my entire immediate family. That's right. Should I ever run for president someday, my entire family will be used to explain how I'm secretly working with Republicans to invade Iraq, bomb Iran, eliminate the Bill of Rights, and run up the national debt. And yet, I claim to be a femi-eco-tax-and-spend-nazi who's out to force you to marry gay people and kill your unborn babies! Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

It's official. This election will amount to one long "yo mama" joke.

Nothing New byslag at 10:08 AM 1 dispenses karmic justice! (or just comments here)

Welcome to America. Population: Nixon.

So, let's recap what we've learned about real Americans over the last few weeks of this primary. We've learned that Americans aren't bad at bowling. That Americans aren't non-drinkers. That Americans aren't people who don't shoot things. That Americans aren't Jesus-less. And, of course, that Americans aren't Democrats.

We better be careful, because at this rate, the only person who won't end up having his US citizenship revoked is this guy:And he's already bowled his last strike.

Don't worry, candidates. There's no way I'd be bitter about how this historic election is shaping up. No. Way.

Nothing New byslag at 7:36 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Stuff I'd Pay to Find Out

The US press has no shortage of complaints about how people aren't supporting the news media with their dollars anymore. Well, Some of Nothing is here to help with our new series titled "Stuff I'd Pay to Find Out", the goal of which is to help out news media market researchers by telling them exactly the types of "Stuff I'd Pay to Find Out". And we'll do so in a language they can (like totally) understand:

* Word on the street is that there's been some wicked Executive Branch overreach, torturing, lying, and other stuff going on. And that there are even people trying to like stop it and whatever. Even though the George Bush presidency is all just a total bummer, I'd still pay to find out more about that stuff.

* I hear that John McCain, who is apparently some sort of candidate for something, is like wanting American taxpayers to pay for his campaign and that Barack Obama's like a total loser and whathaveyou for not. But didn't McCain break some kind of...what do you call it? (duh! I'm such an airhead!) by spending major ducats on his campaign already? Even though breaking laws is like waaaaaay boring, I'd still pay to find out more about that.

* That guy, what's-his-name-Joe-Lieberman, who luuuuuuuuvs John McCain and goes with him everywhere said this about Barack Obama: "he’s got some positions that are far to the left of me and I think mainstream America". I really luuuuuuuuv gossip (especially if it's about some extreme "positions"), so I'd be curious to find out exactly which positions Obama is into that get Joe so excited.

Looking forward to paying to find this stuff out soon!

Nothing New byslag at 4:43 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Math and Taxes

Up until 2am doing the Mr.'s taxes, I was reminded of two important mathematical realities:
1. For some reason, I'm much better at certain types of math when I'm really, really tired;
2. This country will make much more sense when we can get people as excited about paying their taxes as they are about buying their flag lapel pins and waging expensive wars.
Carry on.

Nothing New byslag at 12:18 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

It Ain't Easy Blogging Green

Paradoxically, the reason I was less than enthusiastic about going to the eviro-orgy known as the Green Festival this weekend is the same as my reason for generally not wanting to go to that environmentalist's nightmare known as the mall. I don't like crowds. All those unpredictable elements--aka people--in one giant room is one thing, but the additional challenge of navigating them while trying to achieve my own goals is a little disorienting. Plus, I'm always skeptical of these things in that it's sometimes hard to tell how much they're really about building an environmentally sustainable world rather than just greenwashing the one we already have. However, my most excellent boss at my volunteer gig was kind enough to get me free tickets, and the thought of turning away at the chance to learn (and whine about) something new was irresistible. So, I went, I saw, I'm blogging.

First up, I was impressed with overall content of the festival and its relative enviro-friendliness. We all know that many neo-conservatives take an all-or-nothing approach to the environment as an easy excuse for them to do nothing: "What??? You eat food, wear clothes, and live in a home! And you claim to be an environmentalist! HYPOCRITE! Who are you to complain about my Hummer?". And something like the Green Festival fits right in there because it requires a vast amount of disposable items: passes, brocures, food plates and whatnot; it brings a lot of people in from around the area and uses a good amount of energy for lights and electronic media, thereby upping the carbon output; and a lot of it is about pushing products for sale: clothing, electronics, paper goods, etc.

With these concerns in mind, I was impressed with how green the Green Festival actually was. It managed its waste goods by making almost all of them out of recyclable or compostable materials and having many clearly marked receptacles for them; it asked for attendees' addresses as a way to offset the travel carbon costs (probably through purchasing carbon credits, which is better than nothing); some of the energy required for the festival was human-generated (those in the Discovery Channel booth rode bicycles to power their PCs and televisions); and the products and services it was pushing seemed fairly well-chosen for their green bonafides. The Mr. and I challenged the knowledge of several product pushers and were pleased to see that their commitments clearly went deeper than the dollar. And the fact that, just to get into the festival, the exhibitors had to pass the Co-op America screening process spoke well of them. In other words, after years of witnessing spotted owl standoffs, I was pleased to see the Green Festival as another example of how the environmental movement is growing up.

Secondly, organization-wise, the festival was fairly well-structured. The layout was such that moving among the crowds was at least doable (even if not entirely pleasant) and finding the events and speakers was fairly straightforward. And it was handy to have well-marked question answerers roaming through the crowd. With that said, Amy Goodman's appearance (and possibly others as well) was over-filled, and it would have been nice to have an ante-room where her talk could be broadcast to those who couldn't get in. Also, I would have preferred to see the start and end times of the festival on the admission ticket I had and the event programs available in more prominent locations.

While the layout was good overall, the Mr. and I were talking about how we would have liked to have seen more realistic eco-friendly options that met everyday needs than those specialty items that are still all about intentional environmentalism rather than accidental environmentalism. That is, I, as a relatively normal person, am more likely to purchase a little tool that helps me easily monitor my energy usage than I am to install expensive solar panels on my roof. Some of the exhibitors (mostly those from the city and state) did bring simple solutions to every day problems, such as compact fluorescents and basic shower timers. And these exhibitors were well-equipped with the knowledge they needed to explain how their eco options were better than the originals and worth their materials and production environmental costs. However, I wanted to see more exhibitors like that and fewer of the specialty folks.

I don't know if the composition of the Green Festival simply reflected the state of the art and there still aren't enough simple, affordable environmentally friendly everyday products to fill a convention hall or if those products are mostly just too passe to be of interest to hardcore enviro-geeks. But on the other side of the coin, I would have also liked to have seen more futuristic solutions to environmental issues among the exhibitors, as well. Specifically, I would have been interested in seeing more about the technical side of capturing energy passively, or water filtration, or fuel creation as exhibits instead of being just sidelined into the speakers arena. That said, there's only so much space, time, and money available, so putting together events such as the Green Festival is all about tradeoffs. So, all things considered, I was impressed with the festival and felt it was worth braving the crowds for a little while.


Amy Goodman:
Bicyclists creating energy to run PCs in Discovery Channel booth:

Exhibitors that I found most interesting/helpful

* is an alternative media version of MySpace and Facebook. It's better than those two because it's not owned by Rupert Murdoch or in cahoots with Microsoft. That's all I need to know.

* Betterworld Club is a more politically-correct version of AAA. AAA is known as a highway lobbiest group/auto club. Betterworld Club is an environmental lobbiest group/auto club. Discounts available for hybrid owners and they offer roadside assistance to bicyclists. We'll be switching as soon as our AAA expires.

* Wiser Earth is a green resources site that highlights green NGOs.

Nothing New byslag at 9:31 AM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Obama Tells the Truth. Clinton Channels Bush.

I've mentioned before how pleased I am with the fact that the media actually sometimes does its job when Obama comes under attack. Well, here we are again with members of CNN telling the truth about how Clinton and McCain are working together to distort Obama's message (via Daily Kos):

One of my favorite parts of this CNN video, for once, doesn't involve Jack Cafferty (although he is his own ray of sunshine). It's Hillary Clinton claiming that people haven't been embittered by tough economic hardships. She channels George W Bush's "uniquely American" attitude when talking about how people are proving their Puritan American values by suffering hardships with a song in their hearts. Your job in life is to suffer, people. And smile while you're doing it, why dontcha?

Yes, the media likes Obama for some of the same reasons the rest of us do. He says things that politicians aren't generally willing to say. And they happen to be true! I don't know how the Clinton camp can claim that she's more electable in one breath and complain about media bias against her in another. If we've learned one thing from Edwards' candidacy it's that media bias affects electability. I love that sometimes the media actually gets it right with Obama. It makes me feel better about him going up against McCain than I do about Hillary.

Of course, there is absolutely no excuse for a stupid and sexist news media. But we all know that not all bias against Hillary comes from stupid sexism. Instead, it comes from some of the stupid things Hillary says. Such as when Hillary makes almost the exact same argument as George W Bush does. Hillary = woman; George W Bush = man; obliquely claiming that suffering with a smile is a virtue = obtuse. There's no gender in this equation. It is what it is. Honestly, I don't know exactly where we can draw the line between stupid sexism and dislike of Hillary's politics. But I think we should start by calling out the blatant misogyny and work our way in from there. There's plenty of it to be found. Just not when she's being criticized simply for being wrong.

PS While I don't know how this post turned into a discussion of sexism in the media, I'm not going to change it for three reasons: 1. I am lazy and have other things to do today; 2. This is a blog and not The New Yorker (obviously); 3. I'm trying to tease out some of these issues myself so it helps to have someplace to start. In other words: it is what it is.

PPS Can I just say that I don't have half of the economic hardships that some people have, and I'm bitter as hell!

UPDATE: Jeff Fecke at Shakesville has more on this issue.

Nothing New byslag at 10:19 AM 4 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

In McCain World, No One Cares What You Have to Say

I'm sure many of us have had the pleasure of seeing some of the McCain Girls' music videos. They include such clever titles as "It's Rainin' McCain" and "Here Comes McCain Again" and have received much play on progressive sites for their inadvertent funniness. Because--unlike John McCain--I don't believe in cruel and unusual punishment, I won't play them or link to them here. However, there is one McCain Girls' video that I wanted to show you because it is also inadvertently funny but won't actually make you want to saw your own ears off. It seems that the McCain Girls have received some criticism for their lack of talent so have crafted a thoughtful, articulate, well-reasoned response:

Apparently, some of McCain's supporters take a position on their expressions of love for their candidate that's similar to McCain's position on Americans' lack of love for the plan of occupying Iraq: "no one gives a crap about half, one-eighth of what the f*&% you say." All's fair in love and war in McCain's World.

Nothing New byslag at 7:11 AM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Other People's Genius: Blogroll Edition

I often neglect the blogs in the SoN blogroll when posting other people's genius because I don't want anyone to think I'm playing favorites. But I'm playing favorites.

* A Whole New G inspired me to dip into the blogroll for today's genius when she wrote this post about the trials American women are facing in Iraq:

Our armed forces are not only made up of men, but of women as well. Although women are not supposed to be serving in forward combat units the reality of Iraq is that there aren’t any safe zones, every soldier there is a combat soldier. This week, while Generals and Ambassadors speak with Congressmen and Senators about the war our soldiers will continue fighting and dying in Iraq, our veterans will continue suffering physical and psychological pain that most of those in the upper echelons cannot comprehend and that the rest of us don’t want to. In the shadows of all of this, away from the morning news and the hour-long investigative reports female soldiers are being raped and violently harassed in record breaking numbers.

These women are putting their lives on the line alongside men, they are leaving their families behind to wait and worry alongside men, and they are performing their duties alongside men. Each night as darkness falls in the barracks, on the bases where our soldiers are supposed to be safe these women are being savagely attacked in record numbers. Their attackers are not being court-martialed and many times these women have to continue serving daily with men who have brutally raped them. There is nowhere for them to turn. There is no justice.
This cannot stand. If we can’t help them then what are they fighting for?
Here, wng takes on a topic that I have intentionally avoided's deeply disturbing. But no more. You'll be reading more about these issues here thanks to wng's influence. You can complain to her here.

* Kiko's House kindly offers this reminder that there are, in fact, laws Bush actually can't break:
While it is unlikely that Newton noticed it the day he famously observed that apple falling to the ground, like gravity there is another immutable law of nature that goes something like this:

What goes around comes around.

And so it is with George Bush, who finds himself in the awkward if familiar position of having no moral gravitas, in this instance when it comes to condemning the People's Republic of China for its latest violent crackdown on dissent in Tibet.
Karmic justice can come from unlikely sources.

* Finally, ROTUS posts this video de-constructing global warming arguments:

I've heard risk management arguments on global warming before (Sam Seder, Al Gore, etc), but I like this dude. Anyone who takes the time to teach people how to think critically gets extra cred in my book.

Happy other people's genius Friday!

Nothing New byslag at 6:58 PM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Sam Seder: Not-for-Morons Liberal Talk Radio

Air America Radio host Randi Rhodes quit this week after she was suspended for making extremely inappropriate comments about Hillary Clinton and Geraldine Ferraro. Sam Seder fans were hoping that he'd get Randi's time slot. But apparently, Air America management thinks the word "celebrity" still means something because that's who will be Randi's replacement. Not one celebrity, but several. Throughout the month, and starting with someone named Richard Belzer (who I had to look up). Which begs the question: Am I the only one who sees the reliance on celebrity as a step in the exact wrong direction?

Having watched Sam Seder over the last few years grow into a brilliantly innovative host, I can't help but see this situation as yet another example of a huge generational divide. Sam has been on the leading edge of, not just liberal talk radio, but of strategic liberal community building. I've blogged before about Sam's engagement with the netroots and author communities. And his use of technology--including the Sammy Cam, IMs, and the Samsedershow blog--indicates that he knows who his listeners are, what they want, and how to give it to them. Not starting out with a lot of celebrity name cache, Sam has been forced to prove himself by continually honing his skills and building his knowledge base. And he's brought his listeners along for the ride. So, if we see Seder as leading by example, he's teaching us that being clever, insightful, knowledgeable, diligent, and innovative is the best way to prove your liberal values.

On the other hand, Air America's management seems to think that liberal talk radio listeners don't really appreciate those qualities after all. While it's possible that some members of the celebrity lineup that management has in mind for Seder's slot have some of the better characteristics that Sam has displayed, it's highly unlikely that we, as listeners, are going to be privy to them within a week. And it's also highly unlikely that any of the celebrities that show up in Seder's slot will be able to teach his listeners anything about liberal politics and policy that we don't already know. This move by Air America management indicates to me that they, like the establishment media in general, think that their audience is composed of morons. That we care more about flashy names (whoever they are) than we do about liberal values and strategic community building. Or maybe they think that flashy names are liberal values. Either way, I think they're wrong.

If you think they're wrong too, email to let AAR management know that Sam should get a regular weekly timeslot.

UPDATE: Per Barack's comment, I set up a petition on Care2 urging AAR to give Sam a daily show. Sign it, if you like!

Nothing New byslag at 8:22 AM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Wuv...Twuuu Wuv...And Maawiage

Every now and again, someone asks me a perfectly reasonable personal question: "Hey slag, when are you and your favorite person in the world finally going to get hitched already?". And since My Favorite Person (MFP) has been My Favorite Person (MFP) for many, many moons, I have been asked this question a lot. Yet my answer has always stayed roughly the same: "Not anytime soon, if ever." Of course, their follow-up questions have been vast and varied, but they can pretty much be summed up as: "Why the heck not?". Well, there are lots of reasons.

I won't go into the boring details of how marriage has been--and still is in many ways--a sexist institution and has traditionally treated women as either children or property, and since I'm neither of those, the reasons for my ambivalence should be self-evident. I know we've all heard those arguments before and anyone who has ever had her father actually give her away at her wedding clearly isn't all that concerned about these issues anyway. Nonetheless, there are some practical benefits of marriage that do sometimes make it a point of consideration from time-to-time, in spite of all of these objections. For instance, it would be nice for both of us to have firmer legal standing should we ever come to need it. However, with the state of the nation being what it is, there is one thing that would prevent me from getting married indefinitely. That one thing is the fact that marriage is not available to everyone, and therefore, is discriminatory in nature.

In my view, getting married in this day and age is akin to joining a country club that discriminates against people based on race. Willfully acquiring privileges for myself that aren't available to everyone because of innate characteristics simply goes against the grain. In truth, it affects me not if any of my gay neighbors choose to get married. But the fact that they aren't even allowed to affects me greatly. Groucho Marx used to joke: "I would never belong to a club that would have someone like me as a member." But more accurately, I would never belong to a club that would have someone like me--and not someone like them--as a member. It's that simple.

In summary, the day my gay neighbor is able to get married is the day I am able to get married. Until then, no need to ask.

Nothing New byslag at 11:53 AM 5 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Things I Can't Get Excited About

* Hillary Clinton fundraiser visits the WSJ editorial page to complain about Obama's "Wright problem" in the same week that Clinton fan blogger complains about Obama's supporters being too much like the right wing media. In other words, irony is now as dead as Clinton's campaign.

* Bush uses dead Navy SEAL as Iraq War prop today and shows off some emoting tips he recently picked up from Attorney General Mukasey. Our real national pass-time apparently now includes crying.

* Charlton Heston died this week. The news of Heston's death was surprising only in that we had forgotten he was still alive.

* I almost forgot. Olympic torch draws protests from people concerned about China's human rights violations. While I do get excited about human rights, my excitement about this is canceled out by my Olympic-sized level of ennui surrounding sports, in general. And is this the first time that protests have involved trying to extinguish a fire rather than start one?

Nothing New byslag at 9:37 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

When Evils Collide

Apparently, that loud sucking sound you've been hearing isn't all in your mind:

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation is in talks with Microsoft about joining in its contested bid for Yahoo, according to people involved in the discussions. The combination, which would join Yahoo, Microsoft’s MSN and News Corporation’s MySpace, would create a behemoth that would upend the Internet landscape.
At least there would be no shortage of pop-ups offering games of whack-a-mole featuring Bill O'Reilly's head.

Help us, Eric Schmidt. You're our only hope.

PS Apologies for the massive geek-out of late. It will end soonly.

Nothing New byslag at 8:28 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Wash and Wear Ipod Nano

I was traumatized when I opened up the clothes dryer on Sunday and watched my Ipod Nano come tumbling out of it. For someone who spends as much time wandering by pes as I do, the Ipod is nigh indispensable. And having just dealt with the demise of a beloved laptop, I was unprepared to say goodbye to yet another technological appendage. Since pressing its power button did nothing to reassure me that life still breathed within the Nano, I rushed to the interwebs for some resuscitation advice. My very first hit was less than encouraging. But on the second, I found reason to hope. In spite of my concern of a possible battery short, I plugged the Ipod of Love (yes, that's its name) into my laptop, and held my breath while staring at its screen. After what seemed like minutes, my IoL lit up. And after a full charging, it was ready to rock again. Huzzah!

I remember reading years ago about Ars Technica having put the Ipod through its paces and thinking their testing was a bit excessive. However, at the time, I didn't have one so didn't really put much thought into the daily trials an average Ipod would face. Often, when people have issues with their technology, they tend to blame themselves. If they don't know how to change the time on their VCR or how to program their cell phones, they think it reflects badly on them rather than on their appliances. And when I realized I had left my Ipod of Love (IoL) in my pocket, I immediately felt stupid. But when I went online and saw how many others had done the same thing, I realized that the size and shape of the Ipod make its likelihood of a run through the rinse cycle very high. So, should Apple have developed the Ipod to be as washing machine-friendly as possible? I think so. And by many accounts, it seems that they have.

The particulars: Loosely buttoned into a cargo pants pocket, my IoL--including headphones--endured the delicate cycle of a front-load washer with Biokleen soap and over an hour on the delicate cycle in the dryer. No visible damage anywhere, including no water in the screen, which seems to be a common side-effect.

Nothing New byslag at 4:28 PM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Rachel Maddow: Dispenser of Karmic Justice

* has posted a well-organized series of videos of Rachel's gig anchoring Countdown for the first time last night.

* Also, here's the JedReport video of Rachel using reality as a weapon against Joe Scarborough's claim that McCain "dances to his own drummer":

One of the funniest parts of the video is that guy who replaced Tucker Carlson in the background egging Scarborough on: "right", "yep", "right". It's great that, in spite of the passive-aggressive high-fiving between the two, Rachel Maddow--completely undaunted--charges through just to get the facts out there.

* And here's Rachel discussing the politics of fear with Keith Olbermann:

As Rachel indicates, fear is just as hideous of a campaign tactic when used by Democrats as it when used by Republicans.

* Finally, Rachel's back with that guy who replaced Tucker Carlson to discuss Obama's speech on race:

In the process, she reiterates Obama's challenge to the media directly to the faces of some of the members of the media.

Classic karmic justice dispensing at its finest! Way to go, Rachel!

Nothing New byslag at 12:19 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Saturday Laptop Blogging

For those of you have been following the saga of my errant laptop, I have news. There's a new Air in town, and it's looking good:
Normally, I'm pretty critical of my technology (and every thing else), but like my little PowerBook, the Air was an amazingly generous gift from my favorite person in the world. So, you will not read anything negative about it here. However, for those looking to purchase a new laptop, I do have some general comments to make.

I'm of the (not uncommon) opinion that a laptop is a personal item, and a laptop recommendation often says less about the laptop itself and more about the person recommending it. For instance, I fall into the quintessential Macintosh demographic because I care more about simplicity of design, usability, and reliability than I do about customizability and whatever else it is that PC users care about. While it's true that the availability of software for Macs is traditionally more limited, I find what is available to be better, overall, than the comparable PC software. And like any good Mac user, I blame Microsoft for the volatile and often intrusive qualities of much PC software. That said, some software--certain statistical packages and database and accounting applications--is either not available for Mac at all or is inferior on Macs. So, as with anything else, laptop preferences depend on individual priorities and needs.

All that said, since my laptops were both gifts, my appreciation of them is also strongly influenced by my feelings about the circumstances in which they were given. They aren't simply products of well-researched, highly analytical purchases but, also, are symbols of spontaneity, thoughtfulness, and extreme generosity. And while they were given to me by someone who thoroughly understands my priorities and needs, I can't intellectually separate the laptops from the person who gave them to me so as to be able to provide a highly objective analysis of pros and cons. Nor would I ever want to, really.

And if you're curious about how the Air came to town: Since my PowerBook was dead, I called My Favorite Person (MFP) to get a phone number for a place where I might be able to pick up a new hard drive to see if that would bring it back. The place didn't have one, but when MFP got home, he said he picked one up for me. After dinner, he took it out of the bag and said that the only hard drives they had were wrapped in computers, so he just picked up one of those. Yes, he's a freak. And as you can see, the Giant Fluffy Cat (GFC) and Tiny Squeaky Cat (TSC) seem to like the new laptop as well. Even though it doesn't heat up as much as the PowerBook (which is still around, of course, yet is currently dormant), they still like to lay on it when they get the chance. They're freaks too.

Are you happy now, Gye Greene?

Nothing New byslag at 9:48 AM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Other People's Genius: Kick-Ass Women's Edition

Having been extremely disappointed, of late, in some of our famously female role models (see Rhodes, Ferraro, Clinton, for starters), today's Other People's Genius is dedicated to the women who are still kicking ass (outside of the mud).

* First up, the venerable Digby actually manages to put a tiny bit of fresh perspective on MLK, Jr. today:

One of the things I think people may not completely grok about us loathsome and reviled baby boomers is that our politically formative years were a little bit unusual --- when we were young our leaders and heroes kept getting assassinated. You can imagine how that might shape a person's view of politics. Fortunately that hasn't happened in a long time, which is something we should be grateful for. But for a while, in the 60s, it seemed to kids like me that this was normal.

Martin Luther King's assassination felt inevitable --- especially to him. In his last speech, he famously said:
Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life — longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over, and I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. So I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything, I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.
I doubt that anyone in that audience thought he was being dramatic. America was in a violent period. Everyone knew it.
Honestly, I've never really contemplated this aspect of the generational divide before. It can be difficult to conceptualize all of the cultural elements at work shaping our personal intellectual landscapes (let alone to determine what they all mean), so Digby's perspective here gives me pause.

* Second up, earlier this week, Rachel Maddow (who guest-hosted for Olbermann for the first time tonight) puts the smackdown on Mukasey for lying about FISA:

Warning to sensitive readers: In the clip, Rachel uses the word bullpucky (sp?) to describe Mukasey's claims. I think that's putting it kindly (see Rhodes again).

* A Whole New G was kindsmart enough to give li'l ol' Some of Nothing a blog award. Since AWNG is a kick-ass woman in her own right, my birth month gift to her is a clip of CJ Cregg from the West Wing:

Unreal kick-ass women often inspire real ones.

Happy Other People's Genius Friday!

UPDATE: A Rachel Maddow hosting Countdown video is up at YouTube. Go watch!

Nothing New byslag at 11:55 AM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Taking the Hint

Wednesday: Woke up fatigued and listless. Went to the gym, overcompensated, and carried on about my day.

Thursday: Woke up fatigued, listless, with a sore throat. Took some allergy drugs and carried on about my day.

Today: Woke up fatigued, listless, with my sore throat, a runny nose, and a cloudy head. Finally realized: "Hey--I must have a cold. That sucks!"

Not any smarter than a monkey today (or really any day this week, for that matter).

Nothing New byslag at 10:34 AM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

The Treachery of Representation

If you're not reading Glenn Greenwald regularly, you should be. In fact, if you have to choose between reading Some of Nothing or Glenn Greenwald (gasp!), it's my opinion that you should read Glenn Greenwald. That's because one of the primary fronts in the "war on terror" is in and around the courtrooms where the ACLU and people such as Glenn Greenwald and the folks at Firedoglake are working feverishly to protect the US Constitution. Since our entire country is founded on this document, it would seem that, if being "American" means anything at all, it means caring about and standing up for the principles embedded in the Constitution. We may have some varying views of what that means, but that doesn't make the work any less important. So, when Greenwald helps to beat back illegal wiretapping and executive branch overreach, he's really, truly fighting for our freedom.

Case in point, Glenn writes about the ACLU and a Deputy Assistant Attorney General whose job was representing America (the country):

Yet again, the ACLU has performed the function which Congress and the media are intended to perform but do not. As the result of a FOIA lawsuit the ACLU filed and then prosecuted for several years, numerous documents relating to the Bush administration's torture regime that have long been baselessly kept secret were released yesterday, including an 81-page memorandum (.pdf) issued in 2003 by then-Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo (currently a Berkeley Law Professor) which asserted that the President's war powers entitle him to ignore multiple laws which criminalized the use of torture:
If a government defendant were to harm an enemy combatant during an interrogation in a manner that might arguably violate a criminal prohibition, he would be doing so in order to prevent further attacks on the United States by the al Qaeda terrorist network. In that case, we believe that he could argue that the executive branch's constitutional authority to protect the nation from attack justified his actions.
As Jane Mayer reported two years ago in The New Yorker -- in which she quoted former Navy General Counsel Alberto Mora as saying that "the memo espoused an extreme and virtually unlimited theory of the extent of the President's Commander-in-Chief authority" -- it was precisely Yoo's torture-justifying theories, ultimately endorsed by Donald Rumsfeld, that were communicated to Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the commander of both Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib at the time of the most severe detainee abuses (the ones that are known).
What does the phrase "protect the nation" even mean when we're using it to justify breaking the nation's laws? What is "the nation" at that point? A bunch of people who happen to have been born in the same general vicinity and like to eat at McDonald's? Or a Surrealist's nightmare come true? Clearly, this isn't the work of the reality-based community. And to make matters worse, EFF finds this little tidbit in Yoo's memo (h/t Four-Tower goodness):

While the newly released memo focuses on "asserting that federal laws prohibiting assault, maiming and other crimes did not apply to military interrogators," it contains a footnote referencing another Administration memo that caught our eye:

... our Office recently concluded that the Fourth Amendment had no application to domestic military operations. See Memorandum for Alberto R. Gonzales, Counsel to the President, and William J. Haynes, II, General Counsel, Department of Defense, from John C. Yoo, Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Robert J. Delahunty, Special Counsel, Re: Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities Within the United States at 25 (Oct 23, 2001). (emphasis added)

This earlier memo has not been publicly released, though Senator Leahy and Rep. Conyers have asked to see it.

Does this mean that the Administration's lawyers believed that it could spy on Americans with impunity and face no Fourth Amendment claim? It may, and based on the thinnest of legal claims -- that Congress unintentionally allowed mass surveillance of Americans when it passed the Authorization of Use of Military Force in October 2001.

Quoi? Ceci n'est pas une union.

Nothing New byslag at 4:31 PM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Kids These Days

Because of this election, these kids are starting to think they could be president one day:

Obama is inspiring learning, community engagement, civic responsibility, and even...hope! Clearly, no good can come of this.

Nothing New byslag at 4:20 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

ShooFly Pie

Head down and tucked between the shoulders, shoulders hunched forward, a tense face that scrunches up more and more with each punch of the bag, and feet glued to the floor. All are indications of the one question that is flitting back and forth through my mind: Am I doing this right?

My pugilism coach's patience and ingenuity are unparalleled. She sees this question in my head as clearly as if it were written in bold on the back of my shirt. And every time she comes over to help me adjust--some people call this "relax"--she takes a new angle. "It might help if you imagine..." or "Can you feel these muscles here?" or "What you're trying to get to is...". My gratitude for this kindness often manifests in pity for her and in frustration at myself. Since when am I the kid in class that constantly tests the teacher's patience by asking the same patently stupid question every day? Over and over again.

Almost always, the answer to my question is the same. Just my asking the question probably means no, I'm not "doing this right." Because, generally speaking, boxers are better off actually doing instead of asking questions about doing. While it is true that form and function often work together, when someone's coming at you in the ring, hitting and ducking most likely take priority over wondering whether your shoulders are aligned squarely over your hips. At least they would for me, I think. So, if I have an answer to my question, why do I keep asking it?

I don't know. But I know that the reason I keep asking the question at the gym is probably the same reason that I keep asking it everywhere else. When blogging: Am I doing this right? When designing: Am I doing this right? When choosing the next building blocks for my empire: Am I doing this right? No. No. No. And quit asking.

Sometimes I wonder if the only reason I ask this question over and over again is that I'm worried that one day I'll forget it. People tend to talk about self-assuredness as if it's an inherently good thing. But as our Decider-in-Chief shows us, self-assuredness may be just a few malapropisms shy of hubris. So, where's the line between fatuously self-defeating hyper-analysis and straightforward constructive analysis? It depends on who you ask, I guess.

Maybe it's the capriciousness of the question that keeps me asking. What does "right" mean? Will "right" mean the same thing tomorrow as it does today? Who determines what's "right"? Apparently, constantly asking an inconstant question doesn't necessarily lead to a better answer. Or any meaningful answer at all. Go figure.

At any rate, having this question constantly buzz around my ears like a gregarious housefly certainly doesn't help my boxing. And it doesn't help my blogging or empire-building either. Instead, it often does the reverse. It can be stifling. Preventing me from making the progress I know I should be making. Sticking me to the floor like molasses and giving me nothing more to show for my effort than a tense jaw and a mind full of lethargy.

Which simply begs the rhetorical question: What am I doing wrong?

(c'mon--you had to have seen it coming)

Nothing New byslag at 9:26 AM 3 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

Pedestrian Politics

Hello-My name is slag, and I'm a pedestrian.

Park your car in front of me on the sidewalk; blow your cigarette smoke in my face; try to run over me in the crosswalk. I don't care. You're only making me stronger.

Thank you for your utter lack of support.

Nothing New byslag at 9:53 PM 2 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

That's Just Good PR

George W Bush humor...Get it while it lasts:

Nothing New byslag at 8:55 PM 0 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here)

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