Posted by Brad @ 9:17 pm on November 30th 2009

Coming to a Theater Near You, November 2011

Based on the success of New Moon, one imagines the Twilight series of books is now instantly franchisable. How could they not be made into movies? The third one is already filming.

Only there are four books in the series. And CHUD dares them—dares them—to adapt Breaking Dawn, the culmination of the quadrilogy.

Liz already did an able job of summarizing it in another thread, but with much less profanity than Devin Faraci.

Even though New Moon has made a bazillion dollars and even though the third Twilight book, Eclipse, is already filming, Summit has declined to announce the fourth and final Twilight book as a movie. There’s a good reason for this: Breaking Dawn is completely fucking insane.

And he follows that with an excellent plot summary, ending with:

There’s more in Breaking Dawn – the Volturi come back, for one thing – but these are the main amazing events that demand this book to be turned into a film. I will not rest until I have seen a movie in which a werewolf falls in love with a baby. Hell, once I’ve seen a werewolf fall in love with a baby I may quit movie watching – I will have seen the ultimate culmination of a century of cinema. The entire film of Breaking Dawn would play like the weirdest exploitation film since Doris Wishman died – brutal sex, bizarre body horror, unbelievable pedophilia.

A werewolf falling in love with a baby. This is why Thomas Edison invented this shit in the first place. So we could see a werewolf fall in love with a baby.

Posted by Brad @ 5:58 pm on November 30th 2009

Incorrect Citation of the Day

HuffingtonPost, about Sarah Palin’s book:

Perhaps the most embarrassing gaffe so far is her mis-attributed quote to UCLA basketball legend John Wooden. As the epigram to Chapter Three, “Drill, Baby, Drill,” Palin assigns the following remarks to the Hall of Fame hoops coach:

Our land is everything to us… I will tell you one of the things we remember on our land. We remember our grandfathers paid for it–with their lives.

Only the quote wasn’t by John Wooden. It was written by a Native American activist named John Wooden Legs in an essay entitled “Back on the War Ponies,” which appeared in a left-wing anthology, We Are the People: Voices from the Other Side of American History, edited by Nathaniel May, Clint Willis, and James W. Loewen.

Those connotations are pretty different.

Posted by Brad @ 1:38 pm on November 30th 2009

Graph of the Day

I’m a little suspicious of this, but it’s startling enough to pass on. It represents the cabinet positions for which private sector experience might be significant (so secretaries of State, Commerce, Treasury, Agriculture, Interior, Labor, Transportation, Energy, and Housing & Urban Development, but not Postmaster General, Navy, War, Health, Education & Welfare, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security), and, of the 432 cabinet members since 1900 included, what percentage of them have significant private sector experience (how that determination is made is unclear). In the general population, public sector employment has ranged from only 15 to 19% roughly since 1950 or so.

From Nick Schulz.

Posted by Brad @ 12:29 pm on November 30th 2009

Forget the Horserace Baselines

This is the number to look at if you’re trying to bring the potential 2010 picture into focus.

QUESTION: In the 2010 Congressional elections will you definitely vote, probably vote, not likely vote, or definitely will not vote?

Voter Intensity: Definitely + Probably Voting/Not Likely + Not Voting

Republican Voters: 81/14
Independent Voters: 65/23
Democratic voters: 56/40

Posted by Brad @ 12:23 pm on November 30th 2009

All’s Fair…

The Obama team leaked the tip about John Edwards’ $400 haircuts. And 10 other things learned from David Plouffe’s “The Audacity to Win”.

Posted by Brad @ 12:14 pm on November 30th 2009

Someone Sounds Worried

Ben Bernake tries to go on the counter-offense against the growing choir for more transparency.

After Ron Paul-led anti-Fed efforts were roundly mocked and laughed at last year, we are now officially on to the “then they fight you” part of the Gandhi quote.

Bernake was, however, just named the #1 Most Important Thinker in the World for 2009, by Foreign Policy.

Posted by Brad @ 12:01 pm on November 30th 2009

Andrew Sullivan on the Surges

Sullivan has a thoughtful post up about the Iraqi surge. It has long been trumpeted as a success, and yet its stated aim was to provide enough of a security window to enable a political reconciliation and, presumably, allow us to leave. But despite a temporarily improved security situation in Iraq the last few years, progress, however you might define it, has not just been elusive been not even spotted. Sullivan’s fears is that the surge was sold as a way to potentially get us out of Iraq but, in fact, has just mired us deeper while the theoretical goalposts are just as far away as they ever were. And Obama appears to be taking the shallow conventional wisdom of the Iraqi surge and applying it to Afghanistan. We’ve now spent “six years of occupation, tens of thousands of dead Iraqis, 5,000 dead Americans, countless wounded and disabled vets, and up to $3 trillion in taxpayers’ money”, and the ultimate goals of both wars seem as far away as ever.

The surge was sold by many on the right who aren’t necessarily neocons but who do like to kick dust on national security (McCain, for example), as a necessarily evil, a temporary stopgap that would serve to give us just enough more time for the situation to reach some kind of self-sustaining equilibrium which would afford us the opportunity to extract ourselves without the country sliding into full blown civil war. Many of us, at the time, thought that was a polite fiction, and that if we held to the idea that the risk of destabilization upon our extraction was in itself unacceptable, what we were actually doing was continuing to lay down a foundation for a permanent outpost, a client state of the United States for which we would forever be responsible and which would forever suck our resources, time, and energies. A colony, in other words, except one which is in a constant state of insurgency and for which our strategic interests (and the value of pursuing them versus the cost) remain unclear. Even the soft version of that position—that we at least ought to define a realistic set of conditions that we could term “victory” (or “acceptable”), that we ought to at least begin to set benchmarks which would at least begin the process of extraction or at least insantiate, on a policy level, that such was our ultimate goal—was more or less shouted down and never amounted to much, even from the Democrats.

And so we are in a situation where very few people consciously want us to remain in Iraq forever, and yet have created a political and policy framework where every option of withdraw has been taken off the table. We don’t want to stay, in other words, but we categorically refuse to leave. Success, or the notion of acceptable conditions for leaving, have been defined in such a way so as to make the entire venture like a dog track, with a mechanical rabbit speeding on ahead of us, and we, the dogs, never figuring out why, no matter how fast we go, we never seem to gain on it. Except on this track there is no finish line when the officials end the exercise and the trainers mercifully leash us and lead us away. There is only the never-ending run, and the possibility—actually, inevitability—of collapse. We can’t catch up to the rabbit, but we can’t outlast it either. But stopping the whole futile endeavor mid-track never seriously occurs to us. Maybe, as with the dog, we’re just incapable of doing so. Our minds just don’t work that way.

Sully sez:

You want empire? Then say so and get on with it – with far more forces, and massive cuts in domestic spending to rebuild thankless Muslim population centers thousands of miles from home for decades into the future.

You do not want empire? Then leave.

Those are the presidential level choices.

And neither Bush nor, it seems, Obama has the strength to make them.

What Andrew is not allowing for is the possibility that those in power have already made that decision. Whether consciously or not, government expansion, as it always does, has an inertia all its own. And so the rabbit runs on.

Posted by Adam @ 7:49 pm on November 29th 2009

Killer Campaigning — a good idea for a blog

Non-partisan campaign advice. Young blog so obviously watch that space, but I’m jealous of the schtick.

UPDATE: Blog is now politicalcampaigningtips.com (previous link now dead).

Posted by Cameron @ 3:18 am on November 29th 2009

Photo of the day

From the most recent entry of Boston Globe’s Big Picture blog:


Link to high resolution version

Posted by Rojas @ 11:25 pm on November 25th 2009

Quote of the Day

“There are days when I’m reminded of why I ran for this office. And then there are days like this, where I pardon a turkey and send it to Disneyland.”

-Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States

Posted by Adam @ 3:01 pm on November 25th 2009

¡Hola Lou Dobbs!

As Brad recounts, Lou Dobs is courting Latinos. While Lou is not my favourite person what he’s saying now actually makes some sort of sense.

His problem, of course, is that what he’s been saying for the last few years doesn’t make any sense. Whilst pivoting on positions when you are considering a Presidential run has a long noble history — our very own President, Jesus Christ Barack Obama, used to support single-payer healthcare — it’ll be a neat trick if Dobbs can convince Latinos he’s actually on their side. Unlike some other immigrants who may want the door slammed shut behind them, such as my favourite gloom-monger Derb*, it seems that many Latinos, legal or otherwise, are happy for more of their countrymen to enter the US even before we consider the racial aspects that enter much of the anti-illegal immigration debate which impact them all, legal or not.

However, it’s a bold move. His appeal will be strongest in the South-West because that’s where large numbers of Latinos from Central and South America end up — so he can appeal to the people there that aren’t best pleased about it — but at the same time, that’s where large numbers of Latinos live and vote. He has to find a way to court some of them or he’ll lose (well, he’ll lose anyhow, but he’ll lose worse). I have no idea how you court them at the same time as courting people that like Joe Arpaio, however. It’ll be interesting to watch.

*I say that with affection. I love Derb.

Posted by Brad @ 12:33 pm on November 25th 2009

Is “Mandatory Tip” an Oxymoron?

Discuss.

Posted by Brad @ 10:27 am on November 25th 2009

Dear Kip Esquire

What the hell is wrong with your site? Why is it always down? I need my Twitter dispatches without having to actually follow Twitter.

Posted by Brad @ 10:24 am on November 25th 2009

Lou Dobbs Pledges Amenesty Support in Effort to Woo Latinos

Really!

Former CNN anchor Lou Dobbs, pondering a future in politics, is trying to wipe away his image as an enemy of Latino immigrants by positioning himself as a champion of that fast-growing ethnic bloc.

Mr. Dobbs, who left the network last week, has said in recent days that he is considering a third-party run for a New Jersey Senate seat in 2012, or possibly for president. Polls show voters unhappy with both parties, and strategists believe Mr. Dobbs could tap populist anger over economy issues just as Ross Perot did in the 1990s.

First, though, Mr. Dobbs is working to repair what a spokesman conceded is a glaring flaw: His reputation for antipathy toward Latino immigrants. In a little-noticed interview Friday, Mr. Dobbs told Spanish-language network Telemundo he now supports a plan to legalize millions of undocumented workers, a stance he long lambasted as an unfair “amnesty.”

“Whatever you have thought of me in the past, I can tell you right now that I am one of your greatest friends and I mean for us to work together,” he said in a live interview with Telemundo’s Maria Celeste. “I hope that will begin with Maria and me and Telemundo and other media organizations and others in this national debate that we should turn into a solution rather than a continuing debate and factional contest.”

Mr. Dobbs twice mentioned a possible legalization plan for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., saying at one point that “we need the ability to legalize illegal immigrants under certain conditions.”

Mr. Dobbs couldn’t be reached Tuesday. Spokesman Bob Dilenschneider said Mr. Dobbs draws a distinction between illegal immigrants who have committed crimes since arriving in the U.S. and those who are “living upright, positive and constructive lives” who should be “integrated” into society. He said Mr. Dobbs recognizes the political importance of Latinos and is “smoothing the water and clearing the air.”

Oh! It’s just illegal immigrants who have committed crimes that he doesn’t like! And here it’s us, America, who have been so shallowly mistaken as to his political thoughts these last years.

I have to say I’ve been rather bearish that Dobbs would run. If that interview becomes any more than a one-off and marks instead a concerted effort to thread that particular needle, I’m almost certain he won’t run—of if he does, he’ll make an, at best, Fred Thompson splash-to-nowhere. His entire viability as a protest candidate rests on being a hard turn away from globalization, but the most cogent expression of that is his anti-immigrant stance. The thing is, nobody who isn’t already behind him because of his immigration stance are going to look to moves like these as anything but craven (unless there is a “I would totally vote for Lou Dobbs were it not for his stance on immigration” electorate out there I’m missing). And as for his supporters—he whip up nationalistic frenzy at your own peril, and I can’t imagine they’re going to be happy to hear any iteration of “legalization of undocumented workers”.

Posted by Brad @ 8:41 pm on November 24th 2009

Chuztpah of the Day

I told you a few weeks ago of Senator Webb’s act to open a commission that will look at the criminal justice system and prison-industrial complex as a whole and report back to Congress their findings. I also reported that Chuck Grassley included an amendment to the bill which would expressly prohibit it from discussing anything having to do with drug policy.

Grassley has understandably caught some heat for this, and in an op-ed in the Des Moines Register today, explains his amendment…as an attempt on his part to create a debate on drug policy.

Listen to this.

Finally, I put forward an amendment to address the issue of decriminalization and legalization of any controlled substance. I filed this amendment in an effort to start a debate on this important issue. The members of the Judiciary Committee need to discuss the policy in the open. I continue to believe that decriminalization and legalization of dangerous drugs is not the right course. I’ve spoken to hundreds of Iowans who have had their families devastated by drugs. To simply allow this commission to be passed by the committee without addressing decriminalization or legalization will do nothing to tackle the issue and raise the stories of families impacted by drugs or the crime that occurs because of drug use. We need to make sure that whatever Congress decides, children and young people know that drugs are dangerous and that drug use is a serious issue.

Asking the tough questions may not always be popular, but it’s the right thing to do.

Hahaha. I almost have to take my hat off to him for the sheer balls that response takes.

Either balls, or a perception that your constituents are simpering knuckle-dragging morons.

Posted by Brad @ 5:36 pm on November 24th 2009

T-Shirt Takedown of the Day

Ouch.

Posted by Brad @ 5:32 pm on November 24th 2009

A Winner is…Murdoch?

Interesting development.

If you’ll remember, Rupert Murdoch has been cawing for months about disappearing his media holdings from Google search engine results on the grounds that (their free publicity engine) steals his content and provides it to people for free. And we all kind of laughed at him.

Well, now he looks to be striking a deal with the devil Microsoft, in which Microsoft will pay a flat licensing fee for exclusive rights to Fox content for their search engine, Bing.

And, as Douglas Rushkoff outlines, that just might work. Murdoch will almost certainly lose eyeballs in the deal, but he will be paid for his loss (and eyeballs, remember, are just means to an end, which is profit), and Bing, meanwhile, Microsoft’s sad sack search engine that offers precisely nothing that Google doesn’t provide better, suddenly has competitive leverage. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer if reportedly moving forward to begin to offer this deal to other media outlets. If a few of the major ones take him up on it—New York Times would be a good candidate, LA Times, who knows who else—well hell, that starts to sound like a competitive business model to me.

It will be annoying to have to consult multiple search engines in the future to make sure you get a comprehensive trawl of the interwebs, but I can hardly blame them this effort. Seems perfectly reasonable to me.

If I were Google, I would start getting worried right about now.

Posted by Brad @ 4:36 pm on November 24th 2009

Weird But Strangely Fitting Career Jump of the Day

Ari Fleischer Communications, a sports public relations firm headed by the former press secretary for President George W. Bush, has been hired by BCS officials to help remodel the tattered image of college football’s postseason system.

H/T: Brad Warbiany.

Posted by Brad @ 3:14 pm on November 24th 2009

Threat of Biological Warfare Looms as New Zealand Stockpile is Stolen

Some kiwi potential terrorist has nicked over a million bees.

Thieves have rustled more than million bees from a Matamata beekeeper.

John Tyler lost 28 hives, and their 1.125 million industrious inhabitants, in the November 7 or 8 robbery from a Te Poi farm paddock, the Matamata Chronicle reported.

Each hive contained about 50,000 bees, weighed 25 kilograms and was worth about $7500.

The robbery of his winged workers, requiring at least two men and a truck, has left a bitter taste in Mr Tyler’s mouth.

The hives were not insured.

“(I’m) stunned, I suppose. I’m pretty upset,” he told the newspaper.

If you’re wondering, that’s a black market value of a nickel a bee.

Posted by Rojas @ 12:23 pm on November 24th 2009

Sausage-making

Speculating about the elimination of the public option from the health care bill, Jay Cost discovers an implication that hadn’t occurred to me:

And there might be one more innovation in the offing: the elimination of the public option. This would produce an extraordinary policy, one you would not expect to come from the Party of Jackson.

Why? Because there will presumably still be an individual mandate in the bill. Keeping the individual mandate but dropping the public option means that the Democratic Party will force many individuals to engage in commerce with private businesses that would intend to make a profit from such interactions.

Posted by Brad @ 12:20 am on November 24th 2009

Quote of the Day

“It’s hard to be more conservative than I am on issues — though there are different ways stylistically to communicate that — I’m pro-life, I’m pro-gun, I’m pro-family, and I’m anti tax. … I don’t know what else you’re supposed to be, except maybe angry too.”

Charlie Crist

Posted by Brad @ 4:33 pm on November 23rd 2009

Worst Person in the World

There are few public figures in America I dislike more than Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who bills himself as “America’s toughest sheriff” and loves to play for the cameras by toeing the line (or waltzing right over) into abusive, mean-spirited, highly judgmental and politicized law enforcement (particularly as it pertains to illegal immigrants). I usually don’t pass along (or even read) most of the crap that comes out from Maricopa County about him, but I happened to run across two of them today that, in conjunction, are worth passing on.

The first, via Reason, concerns a Mexican woman pulled over and then jailed for her undocumented status and a few misdemeanor warrants:

The most recent atrocity committed by the self-proclaimed “America’s Toughest Sheriff” involves a woman who was detained while 9-months pregnant. Alma Minerva Chacon’s case has been receiving media attention due to the brutality with which she was treated. The very same night of her arrest, Chacon went into labor and found herself afraid and alone, being rushed to a local hospital with her hands and legs chained in shackles.

Once she reached the hospital, nurses repeatedly begged the Sheriff’s staff to allow them to unchain the mother, but they refused and Chacon was forced to give birth while still shackled to the bed. At one point, the nurse asked for them to release her so that she could be escorted to the bathroom for a urinalysis, but even that request was denied. But the worst came once Chacon gave birth to her baby girl.

Still chained to the bed, Arpaio’s police staff refused to allow Chacon to hold her newborn baby and then warned her that if no one came to pick up the child within 72 hours, she would be turned over into state custody.

The second item?

A new Rasmussen poll of Arizona finds that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is known nationally for his hard-line stance against illegal immigration, would be the strongest possible Republican candidate for governor in next year’s election.

Democratic state Attorney General Terry Goddard, the likely Dem nominee for governor, was tested against three Republicans. Goddard leads incumbent Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, who succeeded to the office after Dem Gov. Janet Napolitano was appointed Secretary of Homeland Security, by 44%-35%. Goddard edges state Treasurer Dean Martin by 40%-38%, within the ±3% margin of error.

Arpaio, however, leads Goddard by a convincing margin of 51%-39%. He is not currently a candidate, but that could change with numbers like these.

The new Rasmussen primary poll has Arpaio as the heavy favorite for to the Republican nomination: Arpaio 47%, Martin 22%, Brewer 10%, and others in the single digits.

Posted by Brad @ 4:13 pm on November 23rd 2009

Geography Fail

National Geographic asked all 100 U.S. Senators to draw their states from memory and label at least three important places. The results are posted on their webpages, though they didn’t get a lot of responses, but they’re still fun to look through.

Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) meanwhile, appears to have drawn Mississippi. And his third label was a rectangle labeled “mountains”.

(H/t: Wonkette)

Posted by Brad @ 3:55 pm on November 23rd 2009

Music Video of the Week – Best Music of the Decade Edition

Screw you, I’m playing it.

Joanna Newsom – Sawdust and Diamonds

(more…)

Posted by Brad @ 3:45 pm on November 23rd 2009

The Nativist Tax

Timothy Noah has a nice writeup in Slate about the latest paean to anti-immigration crusaders. Joe Wilson and the like have forced into the health care bill the now-regular inclusion to any bill providing a government service the adjoiner “…but illegal immigrants absolutely positively can’t have it.”

Which is curious for two reasons. The first is because, being a government service, it would seem as sort of a given.

The second is that illegal immigrants do cost us a lot of money through the health care they receive, for the same reason anyone who doesn’t have insurance does. Namely, the costs of treating them are dispersed elsewhere, either through higher premiums when insurance companies have to foot the bill, or in higher taxes when government does. Although it’s unlikely that illegal immigrants were going to risk deportation to sign on to the government-run exchanges, it’s weird to think that the Joe Wilson’s of the world gain satisfaction by making it impossible for an illegal immigrant to pay for their own health care. Noah:

The larger point remains: Through some combination of higher taxes and higher premiums, the rest of us end up paying for the uninsured—either $43 billion in higher premiums or $43 billion in higher taxes.

Illegal immigrants represent about 15 percent of the uninsured, but for various reasons (they’re younger, they lack access to government programs) they don’t represent 15 percent of uncompensated care; it’s more like 10 percent, according to a study by the Center for Immigration Studies, a nonprofit research group. Using the Kaiser data, the center calculates that providing uncompensated care to illegal immigrants costs taxpayers $4.3 billion annually. Had the center used the Families USA data, it would have calculated that providing uncompensated care to illegal immigrants costs policyholders $4.3 billion annually. That comes to either $31 for the average taxpayer or $100 for the average policyholder.

By excluding illegal immigrants from the new health insurance exchanges, the Senate health care bill passes up an opportunity to relieve taxpayers and/or policyholders of this cost. They are literally denying uninsured illegal immigrants the opportunity to pay for their own health care by purchasing health insurance. Wilson’s nativism has added $4.3 billion to the cost of health care reform.

That’s a little misleading, as really it just keeps the 4.3 billion cost we have now that comes from treating illegal immigrants. Although the real point is that the only way to STOP that cost from happening is to institute a policy of denying all medical care to illegal immigrants, and that would include by far the two major types of medical care illegals use—emergency and maternal. But unless anti-immigration folks want to step up and advocate that doctors don’t treat an illegal with a burst appendix or who is in the process of giving birth, it seems to me that maybe we should act like adults, recognize that this strain on the system will exist, and figure out the best way to pay for it. Rather than posturing and pretending it won’t occur if we act tough enough.

Posted by Brad @ 1:10 pm on November 23rd 2009

Music Video of the Week

If you’ve never gotten into Joanna Newsom (who I’ve posted many times in the past, and who for my money was tied for best artist of the decade and best album), you might try this. A cover of her song “Bridges and Balloons” by the Decemberists’ Colin Meloy.

Posted by Rojas @ 12:52 pm on November 23rd 2009

Impending madness in KS-3

The third congressional district of Kansas encompasses large portions of suburban Kansas City, most notably Johnson County, which is among America’s most prosperous counties, and Wyandotte County, which is largely minority and has historically been prominent Democratic terrain. Republican registrations outnumber Democratic ones by a reasonable margin.

The district’s Congressman for the last several terms has been blue dog Democrat Dennis Moore, a pretty authentic centrist who has held his seat largely because the local Republicans insist on nominating Christianist wack-jobs. Most of the elections have been close; in 2008 Moore rode Obama’s coattails to a sixteen point blowout.

Now, with Obama facing monster resentment over multiple issues (including, sadly, the prospect of hosing Guantanamo inmates at Fort Leavenworth), Moore has elected to retire in 2010 rather than face what might have been a losing political fight. And it looks like more or less every person in the area who’s ever held an office higher than dogcatcher is jockeying for position.

This SHOULD be a safe seat for a Republican club-for-growth sort with moderate views on social issues. But that ain’t who they tend to nominate around here. I forsee one of the most interesting Congressional races in America. Watch this space for updates.

Posted by Adam @ 10:19 am on November 23rd 2009

Ebert of the Day

The last part of the Roger Ebert review of “The Twilight Saga: New Moon”

…sitting through this experience is like driving a tractor in low gear though a sullen sea of Brylcreem

He didn’t like the movie very much, which suggests to me that he has seen it.

Posted by Brad @ 3:44 pm on November 21st 2009

More on Audit the Fed

A nice run down / round up from The Atlantic.

Posted by Cameron @ 5:48 pm on November 20th 2009

Africa’s EU

There was some exciting news out of Africa yesterday. The East African Community appears to be moving forward at a remarkable pace towards a common market. The four countries, comprised of Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda, are attempting to abolish almost all restrictions to the free movement of labor, goods and services across their borders in an attempt to create a larger and more enticing and globally competitive entity. The group is actually a ten year old recreation of a similar group that disintegrated in the 70s. Their future plans are actually amazingly ambitious. Beyond the effective elimination of tariffs and borders, there’s talk of a single currency and even the formation of a confederation.

Next Page »