December, 2008

Christmas Memories

Remember when Rudy Giulianni was going to be the next president? How about when Fred Thompson was going to save the Republican party? Ha!

I can't wait until I have kids old enough to tell them the story of Sarah Palin! It's a good thing there's plenty of video, or they'd never believe me.

Enjoy the holidays. Our first meeting next term will be January 11th, location TBD.

Hyper-Timid Accommodationist Bullshit

Over the weekend Matt Yglesias went and criticized the Sheinhardt Wig Company, and late last night his CAP overlord popped onto his blog to disavow the sentiments.

Now, besides being a remarkably tone deaf PR move, and a gross violation of all internet traditions, it struck me as a bit stupid. Does this now mean that CAP implicitly endorses Matt's blog posts? Sure, he's writing for himself only, but when some posts rise to the level of late-night blog-intruding disavowals, and others don't, doesn't that create an editorial distinction?

The incident has already generated more comments on Matt's blog then I've ever seen before, and it's generating a quite a bit of discussion around the blogosphere. If it's accomplished anything at all, it's cemented the phrase "hyper-timid incrementalist bullshit" as the slogan of the Third Way.

PR accomplished!

Lazy, Transparent Propaganda

Booman already covered most of what needed to be said about this ridiculous piece of propaganda from (surprise) Fox News, but I just wanted to add my two cents. First, the techniques of propaganda are classic, and the claims are rebuted by Booman and the experts at Real Climate. I was more interested in the identities of the "scientists" interviewed by the propagandist, and how they came in contact.

An article like this doesn't just write itself in the same way that, say, covering an event would. The Fox News propagandist had to decide to do a story on the AP article, and then go out and find people to quote for it. So who to quote? Did he/she read up on the climate change literature and go to often cited authors? Did he/she go to some respected scientific organization (like the National Academy of Sciences and ask to be referred to an expert in good standing? Or did the propagandist just google around for other climate change denying propaganda and go get the same "experts?"

It looks like the latter route won out. As I read the Fox News piece I immdeiatly figured, "I bet this isn't the first climate change denial article these folks have been quoted for." And I was right!

Let's briefly touch on each "expert;"

David Deming

Short Seth Williams Video

The short video shown at Seth's announcement for DA has been put on YouTube, so for those of you who didn't go, here it is. You can find Seth on the web at, and the deadline for 2008 donations is December 31st, so if you want your donation to be included in the next filing, make it soon.

I must say, it's a fine video, but I think someone got a little carried away with the screen wipes!

(As it says at the bottom of this site, these views are my own and not neccisarily representative of the Drexel College Democrats. The Drexel Dems have not voted to endorse anyone yet in the DA race. I am a co-chair of Philly Students for Seth Williams.)

Save the Libraries

We've been called out for ignoring the proposed cuts to the Free Library of Philadelphia, so I thought I'd say a few words about it. I've been following the story (not terribly closely), but refrained from speaking about it because it didn't seem as simple an issue as was being portrayed. In addition, I think some of the library advocates have been too quick to assume bad faith on the part of city officials, and that only complicates things.

It's not an easy situation. Philadelphia really is looking at a $100 million budget gap this year. Our city really has gone from over 2 million people in 1950 to fewer than 1.5 million today. We just voted to approve a $400 million dollar bond issue for the water system, and without federal or state (unlikely) assistance, cuts really will have to be made. The amount of money that can be saved by cutting useless or extraneous programs, or just "tightening the belt," really won't do the trick. So from the start, reducing services in the libraries isn't a totally crazy idea.

I've been convinced, though, that it is in the end a bad idea. Libraries are an investment in the city in ways many other programs aren't. Swimming pools are important community centers (and I'll be very upset to see so many go), but libraries are crucial to even begin to improve equality of opportunity to impoverished citizens.

No Thanks, Chris Matthews

There's been a lot of chatter these last few weeks about Chris Matthews, of MSNBC's ironically named Hardball, running for senate here in PA, and though I haven't said anything about it on this blog, I have been discussed it with some people. On that note, let me just say that I was ahead of the bandwagon (Digby, Atrios, Booman), despite the lack of evidence.

My thoughts on this are obviously not set in stone, and intervening events in the next two years will certainly be very important, but if the election were held tomorrow instead of 2010, I would probably vote for Arlen Specter over Chris Matthews.

I'm not even a fan of Specter. He's long on bipartisan wind, but short on substance. Despite some of his more moderate views, he has done next to nothing in stopping or moderating his party as they dismantled what they could of our government. When it really mattered, he was soft on torture, civil liberties, and renewable energy, despite his expressed positions. I'm just saying that I'm not particularly persuaded so much by Specter's "bipartisanship" as I much as I am repelled by the idea of Senator Matthews.

With Specter, he has the seat for surely only one more term. He is ill, and I wish him well, but realistically he won't be holding the seat for the next thirty years. Chris Matthews, OTOH, would. I can live with a mildly obstructionist Specter more than a wildly erratic Matthews.

And Another Thing...

Regarding the Bush/shoe-throwing incident, I want to point out that I was one of the very few people who managed to avoid making any of the hundreds of possible puns derived from the several shoe-terms that have homonyms and multiple meanings. Of course, I'm just too straight-laced to enjoy puns.

Relatedly, I was also struck by how every bit of news coverage made a point of saying how in Arab cultures throwing ones show was an insult. Noz and Boing Boing reacted similarly to the ubiquitous expression of the obvious, but perhaps we all overestimate American understanding of Arab culture. After all, they hate us for our freedom, right?


An Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at Bush as he yelled "“This is a gift from the Iraqis; this is the farewell kiss, you dog.”

I suppose that's the rare criticism that penetrates Bush's bubble. I've sometimes wondered what year Bush finally learned that the war wasn't going according to plan. My own guess is 2005.

(Via Rumproast)

History Is Interesting

Jeffery Toobin reminds us (or in my case, informed me) of the former Governor of Illinois, Otto Kerner Jr., whose corruption came to light when somebody tried to deduct a bride they paid him from their taxes. Cost of doing business and all.

Otto Kerner, Jr., is usually remembered, if he is at all, as the leader of the Kerner Commission, in 1968, which evaluated the riots and other unrest that was then rocking American cities. He was governor of Illinois at the time, and went on to serve as a federal appeals court judge, but his later claim to fame may be of greater historical note. In 1969, he was charged in a corruption case where he and a subordinate received bribes from a racetrack owner in return for an expanded racing schedule. That particular scandal came to light because the owner tried to deduct the value of the bribes on her taxes. Paying bribes to the governor was, in her view, an ordinary business expense in Illinois in the late nineteen-sixties.

I don't know nearly enough history to have any perspective on the prevalence of public corruption now vis-a-vis the rest of American history.

On the one hand, it seems that political machines and party bosses have had their power drasctically curtailed since the days of Tammany Hall with the rise of media and technology (television, tape-recording, phone-taps, blogs). On the other hand, perhaps that's naive and the corruption has just become more sophisticated (Gov. Blagojevich noteably excepted).

Does anyone have any other, possibly more informed, thoughts on the matter?

Smelling Like Roses

This is a pretty fascinating story of corruption, if only for the sheer audacity of Blagojevich. It was common knowledge that he was the subject of a rigorous corruption investigation, his predecessor is currently in prison, and the eyes of the nation were watching what he would do with the Obama senate seat, and what does he do? He goes about trying to sell it to the highest bidder!

Fortunately, Obama is not only not implicated, but he actually comes out of this looking pretty good. It seems Obama's people wanted Valerie Jarret to be appointed to fill Obama's seat, but according to transcripts of taped Blagojevich calls, Obama wasn't willing to offer Balgovich anything in exchange for it.

ROD BLAGOJEVICH said that the consultants (Advisor B and another consultant are believed to be on the call at that time) are telling him that he has to "suck it up" for two years and do nothing and give this "motherfucker [the President-elect] his senator. Fuck him. For nothing? Fuck him." ROD BLAGOJEVICH states that he will put "[Senate Candidate 4]" in the Senate "before I just give fucking [Senate Candidate 1] a fucking Senate seat and I don't get anything." (Senate Candidate 4 is a Deputy Governor of the State of Illinois). ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that he needs to find a way to take the "financial stress" off of his family and that his wife is as qualified or more qualified than another specifically named individual to sit on corporate boards.

I love the picture of Blagojevich calling Obama a "motherfucker" for being unwilling to offer Blagojevich a bribe.