Saturday, May 31, 2008

Presented Without Comment:

On McLelland...

He partially wrote his book to cash in, yes. But I'm with Yglesias... there's a far more lucrative career awaiting "Bushies" in the Wingnut Welfare circuit.

Even if it's hardly a perfect mea culpa, and seeing him in interviews makes me angry, he still did more to rehabilitate himself than, say, Rumsfeld or Fleischer. So there's that.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Oh, and Speaking of Whatzisname...

He's now so peeved at Jason Cherniak, for daring to point out that he's a paid lobbyist for an oil-and-gas front organization, and has been about as reliable a supporter of the federal Liberals as Stephen Harper himself that he's posting private email. From 2006. Looksie:

There's more, but some of us actually have jobs, and have to work. Yawn.

-----Original Message-----
From: Jason Cherniak []
Sent: August 8, 2006 3:09 PM
To: Warren Kinsella
Subject: Iggy scared to debate?

Word has it that iggy has cancelled his appearance at a debate in Quebec tomorrow because he has been convinced to not go up against Dion in french.
I can't post on it because nobody would believe me, but I think it would be cool if you could do something. I would suggest you confirm that he is not attending first, though, since my only info comes from the Dion campaign.

Sent from my wireless Blackberry
I guess people who expect discretion from email recipients should look elsewhere.

Funny thing is? This is clearly supposed to prove that Cherniak thought Kinsella was a Liberal back in August of 2006. Even if that WERE true...

...and it doesn't seem to be: he's leaking info to a fellow blogger, but it could just as easily been any non-partisan who'd be interested in a story about Iggy backing out of a debate...

...that was almost TWO YEARS AGO. Yes, Whatzisname has been gleefully kneeling at Harper's throne since before the last federal election, but even if that weren't the case, he's certainly been a staunch supporter since.

Sure, it's probably out of some misguided belief that it's the only way he can keep Ontario leader Dalton McGuinty in power. "Federal" and "Provincial" are different, I've figured that out.

But come ON. Whatzisname is no federal Liberal supporter, and his identification as some key Liberal blogger does nobody any good. He's more popular than Jason, which is probably why he's counting on that popularity to protect him from the damage this sort of stunt would normally cause, but popularity is a fleeting thing.


Looking North of the border again, it looks like Dion has finally become a "leader" on something. Appropriately enough, it's an environmental issue.

He's backing a carbon tax.

He was originally against carbon taxes, but changed his mind. Fine: leaders do that. Well, good leaders, anyway; we've seen what happens when a leader doesn't change his mind, and it's gruesome. He also hasn't pushed a complete policy prescription, but more of a trial balloon.

That isn't the fun part. The fun part is the reactions, which are showing how it's actually pretty good politics.

(Whatzisname argues otherwise. Whatzisname is wrong. He does that. Even when he's not playing the paid flack for oil companies--and I'm not saying he is here--he's built his political career on running AGAINST novelty and innovation. Right or wrong, that's kind of his thing.)

The Conservatives are against it, of course, but they're in a bit of a tight spot. Sure, they can castigate it as "yet another tax", but Dion is pledging income tax cuts in order to turn the carbon "tax" into a carbon "shift". But people aren't necessarily unwilling to pay for things they believe in; if that weren't true, Canada wouldn't have all those vaunted social programs in the first place. And yet it's a policy that the Cons simply can't co-opt; their Climate Change-denying, tax-hating base would go absolutely bananas. They HAVE to be against it, whether it's popular or not.

Plus, they've got other problems right now, as their weak front bench ends up even weaker.

The NDP are against it too, but that's not helping them much either. It's pushed the most famous environmentalist in Canada (maybe even the world, after Al Gore), David Suzuki, squarely into the Liberal camp. And while conservatives might ignore Suzuki as some sort of commie symp, he still has a big and loyal following among Canadian small "l" liberals and progressives. That's a big issue. But they can't go against it either; they're running against the Liberals, not the Tories, and know that their union base is going to be against this.

As for the Greens, they're already foursquare behind it. They have to be. It's a signature issue of theirs, and they face irrelevance if they oppose it.

(They might anyway; if Liberal/Green/NDP splits threaten the carbon tax happening, some kind of "red shift" is quite likely.)

Besides, they're friendly with the Liberals; Elizabeth May is clearly hoping for a cabinet position with the Libs if she gets into Parliament and they get into Government, and it's a safe bet.

The best part is the media's reaction, though, both "old" and "new". A lot of Dion critics are caught up short by this, and are reduced to nonsense about whether or not it's politically saleable. They assume it isn't, but polls are suggesting that Canadians are open to the idea.

So now, all of a sudden, things have changed. Dion's in the driver's seat: his policy will be the talk of the country throughout the entire summer. Any announcement on specific aspects of the policy will be front-page news, ensuring that any time Dion wants to get onto the front pages, he just needs to mention the words "carbon tax" and they'll light up. Harper is reduced to reacting, while his drifting, aimless government looks all the worse in comparison. And Dion's Quebec opponents are in trouble as well; attacks on him for his lack of nationalism will be old news, wheres the carbon tax--which is VERY popular in Quebec--will be the new hotness.

And if an election comes in the fall? Well, now all of a sudden we know what it's going to be an election on.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Keith, Bobby, and Hillary.

So, yeah, as we see over at Americablog, Olbermann got off to a big ol' rant about Clinton.

And here it is:

A bit over-the-top, but it gets to the essential problem here. It took her "anything-can-happen" justification for staying in the race and just made it ominous. It really sounds like she's saying that although she's not assuming that the man gets shot, she certainly isn't discounting it, and is preparing for that possibility.

Which is disturbing and creepy.

Though maybe that isn't the greatest problem. Maybe the greatest problem is that she didn't really apologize. She gave a weaselly little line about it, saying:

I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation, particularly for the Kennedy family was in any way offensive, I certainly had no intention of that whatsoever...
...but come on. Keith's right, this isn't even remotely close to a real apology, especially considering that she didn't even breath the word "Obama" when it was HIS DEATH SHE WAS TALKING ABOUT!

That's what kills me (heh) about her campaign. She's running on experience and competence. Yet we've seen none of that from either the campaign or the candidate. Her Senatorial record is something she's had to run away from, even though she's clearly been running for president since 2000. Her claims of "fighting for you against the Republicans", in light of her open triangulation, is way goofier than any of that "change" stuff from the Obama crew. She's run a campaign so poor that it managed to vaporize the kind of frontrunner advantage that the party has never seen in its history, leaving only the delusions of grandeur and inevitability in its wake.

Aside from a slightly better health care plan, and an army of middle-aged women who desperately (and understandably) finally want one of their own to become pres, she still hasn't answered the basic question of why the hell Americans should support her.

She's done a much better job of showing why they shouldn't, and Keith's right in that she's never done a better job than she did with this Bushian comment.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


David Brooks writes about "nerds and geeks", is apparently trapped in 1998!

No wonder he still thinks all that "Bobo" crap is relevant. Or the Republican party, for that matter.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Ted Kennedy Has a Brain Tumor


527 Follow-up to That Last Post

There's been a lot going around about how Obama's trying to stamp out independent organizations, especially 527s. (Good bit on it in the Washington Post.)

I don't think I need to tell you that this ain't gonna work. Progressive 527s don't just exist to get Dems elected, but to threaten to not help Dems get elected unless they act, well, progressive. Of course Obama's going to be against that, when he's got a fundraising machine of his very own.

But his fundraising machine won't be useful when you're trying to put the squeeze on him. That requires time, money, and personnel, all of which he ain't gonna pony up the dough for.

Plus, let's be honest: negative campaigning WILL happen. When it does, Obama doesn't want to be directly tied to it. He CERTAINLY doesn't want to have fundraised for it. McCain's just going through the motions; he'll be setting the dogs loose just as soon as Obama's the official nominee. If the Dems need to respond in kind, they'll need to let the "B-B-B-BUT SAMANTHA POWER GOT FIRED!" reaction go, and start doing some comparisons. And if it can't be on Obama's dime? Then it'll have to be on someone else's.

Agonist: Obama's Anti-Blogginess?

Interesting bit on The Agonist by Ian Welsh about how Obama doesn't really care about blogs, but how that kind of makes sense because they didn't deliver anything to him.

Clinton and McCain have always been more blog-friendly, which is probably part of the reason why Clinton has managed to survive as long as she has; Clinton-backing blogs get a LOT of campaign support, even when the fix is undoubtedly in.

Anyway, Ian:

Progressive national bloggers as a group did not go pro-Obama until Edwards dropped out. Also, in most cases the readers were pro-Obama first, not the other way around. Obama reached our audience without going through us, and sees no reason to bother with outreach to us. Bloggers who now support Obama do so despite the fact that Obama can't be bothered to do blogger outreach.

Obama only works with groups who can deliver votes he can't easily get on his own. So SEIU has a voice. We do not because we did not deliver our readers, he got them on his own.

The two things we can do for Obama that matters are media pushback and atacking McCain. But we will do those things whether he's nice to us or not, and he may not even appreciate us attacking McCain, since he very clearly wants top-down control over message with no freelancers.

There is zero ROI on spending any time on us, for Obama, at least in the short term. Therefore Obama doesn't spend any time on us. He also, personally, finds us boring, and has said so.

This will come back to bite Obama if or when he's president and the bloom is off, and he finds he has few real friends amongst bloggers and thus amongst those who have some influence with the base. But that's a year and a half to two years down the road. I doubt he's thinking it through that far, or he may think that his charisma and skill is such that he can keep his followers so happy that they will scream us under if we dare criticize him when he, say, leaves a huge residual force in Iraq (or whatever.) I doubt it, because most bloggers will really only turn on Obama when the base starts being disillusioned. But, as I say, that's a long way out and is irrelevant to him right now.
Yeah, I find this a bit counterproductive as well, if only because bloggers have become really good at focusing resources on key races and (in some cases) making the primary campaigns of "Blue Dogs" really, really dicey.

Now, Welsh seems peeved, but it's still kind of makes sense. Obama isn't building on a blog model so much as a social networking model. He doesn't NEED DailyKos, becuase he has to serve as his hub, and it's based more on a Facebook-style online networking model than a Kos-style blog community model. People on his campaign can serve as the kingmakers, rather than the bloggers. Bloggers just aren't key to the process.

It shouldn't be a surprise, either. It's been the case from the beginning. Obama has always been pretty clear that he's not a big fan of the enormous partisanship of bloggers. While I thoroughly disagree with him on that, it's certainly consistent. It's Obama, not Edwards. Nonsense about the National Journal aside, he's by no means the most liberal leader in the Democratic party.

But Ian is very much right about the possible consequences. The real story coming out of this election is not, because that's a lightning strike that's unlikely to happen again. The real story is the importance of small donations, and the utter irrelevance of the big DLC-style donors that were the lifeblood of the Clinton campaign. While Obama is likely to become president, the true shocker is that Clinton didn't win in the first place; that the machine backing her lost so badly.

As I said a while back, bloggers will benefit enormously from that machine's decline. Obama can't replace it; no single president could. No, that will be resolved on a much bigger scale, and the successes that American bloggers HAVE had will put them in a good position to take advantage of the situation.

And once the sheen is off the president, he'll need to draw on the bloggers' resources. And all this benign neglect now is only going to increase the asking price when it matters.

Friday, May 16, 2008

On the Broader "Engagement" Issue...

The question here is absurdly simple. Do you want to conquer Iran or not?

If you don't, you must acknowledge that you will eventually have to talk to them.

If you do, then you can legitimately claim that talking with them is unnecessary "appeasement", stirring up the ghosts of WWII, because you desire the same conclusion.

Everybody knows this, even if they don't say it.

So the question then becomes: what are the "no talking" people really saying?

Well, it's pretty clear, isn't it?

"What'd He Do, Kevin? What'd He Do?"

I don't praise Tweety often. I can barely stand to watch Tweety most of the time.

But, honestly, I'll give Chris Matthew credit here. This, right here:

Was an absolutely beautiful smackdown. An ignorant little Republican troll who exists only to feed raw meat to other ignorant Republicans got his ass absolutely handed to him, and rightly so. He hadn't the faintest idea what WWII was about beyond his talking points. When somebody doesn't even know what Chamberlain did, but just knows to label him an "appeaser", you know you need not waste your time with this waste of flesh.

But you know what? The real idiot here isn't Kevin James. It's the guy who pays him. Why does he have a radio show? He doesn't give good Radio Voice, he's not smart enough to be honestly controversial, and he doesn't appear to have an especially impressive background. He's just a jumped-up lawyer, and probably not even a good one at that. A good lawyer would be able to BS this.

Hat tip: TPM

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Haloperidol is an Anti-Psychotic

It's used in order to calm persistent aggressiveness and hallucination in those with truly severe psychiatric disorders. A normal dosage is 0.5 twice a day; a maximal dose is 5 milligrams, three times daily. A hospital will only use up to 10 milligrams in an emergency situation.

The Department of Homeland Security is Injecting 30 to 40-- IN HEALTHY, COMPLIANT, NON-AGGRESSIVE DEPORTEES.

Well, that and a cocktail of other powerful drugs.

Here's what happened to one deportee:

Even some people who had been violent in the past proved peaceful the day they were sent home. "Dt calm at this time," says the first entry, using shorthand for "detainee," in the log for the January 2007 deportation of Yousif Nageib to his native Sudan. In requesting drugs for his deportation, an immigration officer had noted that Nageib, 40, had once fled to Canada to avoid an assault charge and had helped instigate a detainee uprising while in custody. But on the morning of his departure, the log says, he "is handcuffed and states he will do what we say." Still, he was injected in his right buttock with a three-drug cocktail.

In one printout of Nageib's medical log, next to the entry saying he was calm, is a handwritten asterisk. It was put there by Timothy T. Shack, then medical director of the immigration health division, as he reviewed last year's sedation cases. Next to the asterisk, in his neat, looping handwriting, Shack placed a single word: "Problem."

He suffered from no mental illness, and was perfectly compliant. He wasn't even supposed to be deported yet: his case was still under appeal.

When he landed in Lagos, Nigeria, Afolabi Ade was unable to talk.

"Every time I tried to force myself to speak, I couldn't, because my tongue was . . . twisted. . . . I thought I was going to swallow it," Ade, 33, recalled in an interview. "I was nauseous. I was dizzy."

As he was being flown back to Africa, his American wife alerted his parents there that he was on his way. His father was waiting at the Lagos airport. It was the first time in three years that they had seen one another. Shocked by how woozy the young man was, his father decided not to take him home and frighten the rest of the family. Instead, he checked his son into a hotel.

Ade was in the hotel for four days before the effects of the drugs began to abate.

Citizens of the United States of America, meet your Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency. Your tax dollars hard at work.

(They have a lovely careers page if you'd like to sign up. Apparently it's Where Leaders Go to Work!)

Edit: Fixed some quotation issues.

Ollie North, Novelist-Hero

I didn't think Seth McFarlane was this funny anymore, but check it out:


Good stuff.

Einstein an Athiest?

Maybe, maybe not, but he did call the bible 'pretty childish' at one point.

The letter up for sale, written to philosopher Eric Gutkind in January 1954, suggests his views on religion did not mellow with age.

In it, Einstein said that "the word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish."

"For me," he added, "the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions."

Addressing the idea that the Jews are God's chosen people, Einstein wrote that "the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are also no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything 'chosen' about them."

Bloomsbury spokesman Richard Caton said the auction house was "100 percent certain" of the letter's authenticity. It is being offered at auction for the first time, by a private vendor.
That said, it's quite possible he's not an atheist. There are a few indicators that he's more of a Deist- someone who believes that God may have build the machinery of the universe, but doesn't tinker with it. That's the God that a lot of enlightenment figures (and American Founding Fathers) believed in, and certainly not the personal Savior of, say, modern evangelicalism.

It probably won't change the battle between hardline theism and the increasingly strident "bright" atheist movement much, but it does provide a bit of context, and a reaction to the "chosen people" concept in Judaism that you don't see aired much in the western world. Interesting stuff.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

"Traitors to the cause of economics as a whole"

Over on Crooked Timber, Kathy G. is finding out via the minimum wage debate what many of us have known for years, and which is going to cause a lot of heartache among Obama supporters who think his staff are "non-ideological pragmatists":

Yes, Virginia, economists can be ideologues.

(Especially at the University of Chicago.)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Quake Kills Thousands in Western China

What the New York Times said.

The earthquake was the worst to hit China since the Tangshan earthquake of 1976 when more than 240,000 people died.

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit in Sichuan Province on Monday afternoon, and the death toll steadily increased throughout the evening, raising concerns that the number could go far higher.

By 11.40 p.m. local time, the state news agency Xinhua quoted local authorities as saying that the number of dead had risen to 8,533 in Sichuan Province alone. Provincial disaster relief officials said that 3,000 to 5,000 people were feared dead in Beichuan County where roughly 80 percent of the buildings were reportedly destroyed.

Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, who arrived in the earthquake region on Monday night, described the situation as a “severe disaster” and called for “calm, confidence, courage and efficient organization.”

President Hu Jintao ordered an “all out” effort to aid people in the region and soldiers were dispatched for disaster relief efforts. Minutes after the western temblor, a second, smaller quake struck hundreds of miles away, in an outer district of Beijing. Thousands of office workers were evacuated, but no damage was reported in the city, which is preparing to play host to the Olympics in August.

Sorry, nothing pithy for this.

Skewin' Right

Well, this is cute. Doug Schoen has a bushel of advice for Obama in an editorial in the WSJ. Since it is the WSJ, though, every bit of it is advice that would be well-suited for a Republican.

I mean, look at this:

First, and obviously symbolically, he must start wearing the flag lapel pin. He simply cannot afford to raise doubts about his patriotism.

More substantively, he must also unabashedly support measures that reflect and emphasize his commitment to traditional American values.

For example, he should commit to enhancing and strengthening the earned income tax credit, to provide tax relief to the working poor and to continue transferring people from welfare to work. This will demonstrate his preference for hard work and initiative as opposed to entitlement programs.

Mr. Obama must also demonstrate concretely that he is sympathetic to the victims of crime -- in ways that go beyond the abstract rhetoric of his March 18 speech on race relations in Philadelphia. He needs to make clear, in no uncertain terms, that he understands American concerns about law and order, and that he puts public safety at the top of his priorities. To be sure, there is an increasing role for rehabilitation in the criminal justice system. But Mr. Obama must emphasize first and foremost that he is on the side of law-abiding people.

To win southwestern states such as Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico, he must demonstrate his intention to secure our borders, and to integrate those immigrants who are here into American society with a clear path to citizenship. Mr. Obama should also reemphasize his support for the rights of gun owners to hunt and use firearms safely and responsibly.

On foreign policy, Mr. Obama must refute the presumption that he is not fully committed to the war on terror, or that he believes every problem can be solved by negotiating with the leaders of rogue nations. He must reassure people that he understands diplomacy has its limits. Part of this reassurance should consist of a speech that Mr. Obama should give on the subject of what Ronald Reagan called "American exceptionalism" -- still a core value for most Americans, and particularly swing voters. Our role in the world, and our unique democratic experience, make us a nation that has to be prepared to stand alone if absolutely necessary.

So the politician who is supposed to transcend old politics should prove himself by...acting exactly like a moderate Republican?

I mean, look at the stuff I bolded. "secure our borders"? "committed to the war on terror"? "On the side of law-abiding people?" "Traditional American values?"


You must be joking.

Yes, buddy, I'm aware that you (barely) won Tennessee for Clinton in 1996. Guess what? It isn't 1996. Triangulation doesn't work anymore. It never did, really, which is why your ilk kept getting beaten over and over and over again in Congressional elections across the country, and why your chosen president is best remembered for enacting policies that make Republicans far happier than Democrats.

(Which is one of the under-discussed reasons why his wife got smoked by Obama, but I digress.)

And for the comedy coup d'etat, I give you the last paragraph:

If Barack Obama is going to win the election, he needs to be able to fight the contest on the core economic issues that clearly work to the Democrats' advantage -- such as job creation, expanding access to health care, and providing relief to homeowners who have trouble paying their mortgages. But unless he is able to present himself as being part of the mainstream on core cultural and values issues, the Republican attack machine will be able to make this election about issues having little to do with the economy and our role in the world.
Ah yes. The siren call of DLC-style triangulation. I've asked before, I'll ask again. Does this ever work?


When the candidate isn't already possessing enough advantages that he probably doesn't need to pull this in the first place?

Is anybody, in 2008, still naive enough to think that positioning yourself in the middle of the field won't cause the Republicans to run the goalposts past you and attack you from the new middle? I didn't figure they were. It certainly didn't explain 2006, and by even trying it, you're guaranteed to piss off the online supporters that form the bedrock of 21st century fundraising.

I don't know, maybe this guy is a former Hillary supporter that's trying to sabotage Obama's campaign, although I can't see Axelrod, Plouffe et al being this dumb. I certainly hope not, anyway.

Edit: Oh, crap, that's where I know the name from. He's the strategist at Mark Penn's outfit. He's also the guy who said, in the Washington Post, that Clinton should keep on hammering Obama with as many negative attacks as possible, while repeating that "most liberal member" nonsense!

I'd be surprised if Obama's people even acknowledge his existence.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

"But Whitey Loves Me!"

When your campaign is reduced to barely concealed race baiting, you need to stop, Sen. Clinton.

Edit: I should probably add to this; it's a big story.

But, honestly, what else is left to say? Clinton's done, the nation is dismissing her, and she's been reduced to trolling the media. She probably doesn't even care if she's called racist, now, because at least it'll keep her name in the headlines. Which is the last thing anybody needs. It's over.

Symbolism, Eh?

The Victory Fund.

That's what the Canadian Liberals are calling their new donation scheme, where you sign up to have ten or twenty or however-many dollars pulled out of your bank account per month. It's a nice idea; people sign up for this sort of thing and then benignly forget about it, like a subscription to an old MMO that you used to play, but can't be bothered to cancel.

But don't think about that. Think about the name. "The Victory Fund."

What does it conjure up?

It conjures up images of WWII. Of sacrifice and victory against terrible, maniacal, mad fascist dictators. Of a glorious struggle, perhaps the last truly glorious struggle the world has ever known.

And they're using it as a weapon against the most secretive and all-controlling Prime Minister Canada has ever known; one who (possibly) cheated his way to victory, cloaks himself in an image of "the common man", and who has nothing but contempt for those who disagree with him.

God DAMN, these guys might be better at messaging than I thought.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Somebody Find a Fork

North Carolina was a blowout for Obama, and Indiana is, at best, a squeaker for Clinton. (And it's still theoretically possible that Obama could win it)

Clinton's pretty much done. She needed a split decision to go on, and a pair of wins to be a credible nominee. That isn't what happened. And post-Wright, Obama can credibly say that he's thoroughly "vetted" and has overcome the worst that can be thrown at him.

Yes, she'll win West Virginia, but that just doesn't matter. Obama achieved almost everything he could have hoped for tonight, and broke her short streak.

(Gave a good speech, too.)

She's probably frantically calling superdelegates pleading her case, but I imagine she's getting one response: "end it before you ruin your Senatorial career." It was a hell of a run, but the Change guy won.

Edit: From Ambinder:


Tonight's victory in Indiana was close, and a margin that narrow means just one thing: every single thing you did to help us win in Indiana helped make the difference.

Every call you made, every friend you spoke to about our campaign, every dollar you contributed made tonight's victory possible. And I couldn't be more thankful for your hard work.

Every time we've celebrated a victory, we've celebrated it together. And tonight is no exception. This victory is your victory, this campaign is your campaign, and your support has been the difference between winning and losing.

Thank you so much for making this campaign possible. Let's keep making history together.


Hillary Rodham Clinton

The entire thing is in the past tense, except for "let's keep making history together." And there's no call for more donations.

Yeah, this doesn't sound like a nominee. It sounds like a eulogy.

Re-Edit: CNN projected Clinton in Indiana by a hair. Doesn't change much, though. Her bragging rights were all about the margin, and there' s no margin there.

Plus, let's be honest: If you subtract the Dittoheads, Obama probably won.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Clinton Wants to Try to Break up OPEC

Good luck with that.

Whining about how OPEC has "a monopoly" is just silly; American anti-monopoly laws don't have much effect on other countries for obvious reasons, and there's just no way that yelling about "monopoly" will affect states that have nationalized their oil production. The reaction to the accusation of monopoly will be "yeah? And? So?" Or some variation thereof.

Between this and the gas tax holiday, I really get the sense that Hillary knows that Wright isn't a winning issue, and wants to ride the gas price issue all the way to Denver. The problem is that she's being dumb about it; instead of using it as a springboard for interesting renewable energy proposals, she's pulling out proposals that every expert in the country says will have no positive effect whatsoever. She's just as tired as Obama, but it's coming out in a different way; her actual ideas are slipping, instead of her delivery.

Or maybe she's just desperate. Either way.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Little Brother

Just finished reading Cory Doctorow's "Little Brother." I might have more on it later, but right now I just want to echo this: bit from Neil Gaiman

But I'd recommend Little Brother over pretty much any book I've read this year, and I'd want to get it into the hands of as many smart 13 year olds, male and female, as I can.

Because I think it'll change lives. Because some kids, maybe just a few, won't be the same after they've read it. Maybe they'll change politically, maybe technologically. Maybe it'll just be the first book they loved or that spoke to their inner geek. Maybe they'll want to argue about it and disagree with it. Maybe they'll want to open their computer and see what's in there. I don't know. It made me want to be 13 again right now and reading it for the first time, and then go out and make the world better or stranger or odder. It's a wonderful, important book, in a way that renders its flaws pretty much meaningless.
Funny thing; I thought the only weakness was that "don't trust anybody over 25" tagline, which makes sense for a YA novel. What Doctorow's book does is vital for anybody who's heavily engaged in social networking, which is pretty much everyone under 30 or so: it shows why control over your information is important. The oppression that the kids in Doctorow's books face is not only plausible, but a lot of it strikes me as inevitable, and I think a lot of people don't really see what's on the way.

There is a massive and worrisome trend of gleefully jettisoning any concern about privacy or information control of any sort within the popular culture of the past few years, especially among the young; Doctorow's book reminds us of how incredibly disastrous this sort of thing can be.

(I'd link to the book, but I'll just wait until it shows up on his website; Cory releases all his books online under a creative commons license. )

Gaiman said that "I'd want to get it into the hands of as many smart 13-year-olds as I can." I agree and disagree. I agree that it should get into as many teenagers' hands as possible, but I'd go far farther: I'd say that people should agitate to have it put on reading lists. This book should be required reading; I know that's death for the popularity of books among teens, but there are parts of it that absolutely everybody should know about. The bit about "the paradox of the false positive" alone is such a powerful correctional to people's complacency about governmental (and private-sector) surveillance that I honestly don't think kids should be able to graduate junior high without having read it.

Plus, since it's Creative Commons, it's not like it'll be especially costly if you don't want it to be.

(Oh, and Iron Man was great too.)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

A Tip for Hillary, in the Name of Balance:

When they're praising you for being such a "fighter?"

They're setting you up for something else entirely.

I'm not going to say what it is, but here's a tip: do a google blog search for Huma Abedin, and think about how these things percolate.

And think about how the Republicans set it up so that even if there's no proof for an allegation, they've defined your character to the point where it's just plausible enough that they can get away with it.

Senator, they are not your friends.

What'd I Tell You, Barack?

I can appreciate the thought, but buddy, this ain't gonna help.

Yes, you did grow up less privileged than your counterparts. Hell, you're the only one of them who hasn't been a Republican at some point.

But that isn't why they're calling you "elitist". It has nothing to do with privilege, which the media and Washington both fall over themselves to adore.

It has to do with the fact that you're a tall, well dressed, well groomed, good looking, slender man who speaks well. That doesn't signal "privileged" in these people's minds. It signals something else.

They're calling you queer, Barack. They're calling you gay, Barack. They're calling you a fag, Barack. When Brooks goes on and on about "bobo"? Gay. When O'Reilly is railing against your comments? Gay. When Candy Crowley is saying "the people think he's an elitist?" Gay.

Gay, gay, gay.

But they know they can't get away with that overtly, so they're using proxy terms like "elitist", which they've invested in all this effete baggage over the years, and which now have a dual meaning.

That dual meaning makes it wonderfully flexible, too. They can use terms that actually signal elitism, and make them serve a dual purpose. Intellectual elites are more likely to be secular than the common man, so secularity is tied to a certain brand of elitism. So if you're secular? Gay. Elites go to Ivy League schools, though generally because of their families, an advantage you didn't have. So if you went to a Ivy League school? Gay. And so on.

(Of course, Republicans of various stripes are definitely elitists, and they seem to be turning up in hot tubs and airport washrooms on a regular basis getting their "not-hetero" on. But they're Republicans, so obviously they aren't gay, because not-gay people vote for them!)

So, yeah, they can get away with it. It helps that the Dems are so relatively gay-friendly, but it has more to do with their weak and womanish views towards helping the less fortunate and saving the environment and whatnot. REAL men (read: hetero) would never stand for it. Let 'em die in a gutter whilst guzzling domestic beer and eating raw meat, that's what real men do!

Points for effort. And were this a serious question of elitism, it might even help. But talking about being underprivileged won't help you, because it's not about privilege. It's about exploiting the carefully-crafted confusion in American society between signifiers of status and signifiers of homosexuality in order to turn your real best strength (your charisma) into a weakness (lol ur a fag). Nothing more.

It's, well, perverted, but it's the truth.

Attention, People of London:

If you vote for Boris Johnson, you're a prat.

(Not that Livingstone is much better, but at least he's not a gimmick dripping with racism.)

That is all.