Posted by Brad @ 3:00 pm on December 31st 2010

12 Days of Music Video of the Week

All that said, whaddya gonna do? Cee Lo Green is the soul machine, and this immediately – immediately – became one of my favorite songs of all time, from an artist that absolutely deserves it. That is all.

1. Cee-Lo Green – Fuck You

Happy New Year!

(2009, 2008, 2007)

Posted by Brad @ 3:00 pm on December 30th 2010

12 Days of Music Video of the Week

Rojas seemed to think I was insane for even considering any other number one besides the obvious. Well, I still don’t feel good about it, considering that the #2 band is, inarguably, the masters of the music video, and the two they released this year alone have to rate as individually being in the top ten music videos of all time (when OK Go probably has two OTHER videos on that list already).

I love this band. Love love love. The music videos are, of course, the calling card – and what a calling card – but even without the visuals, OK Go produces a kind of joyous power pop that’s really hard to stick the landing on, and they seem to stick it effortlessly, every time. If anything, the videos may have actually worked against them, as the music alone would, I think, have gotten them to Monster Pop Band status prior to the internet killing the music industry. But, you work with what you got, and OK Go’s solution was…well:

2. OK Go – This Too Shall Pass (Rube Goldberg Machine version)

They had two entries this year, and I’ll give the honor to what may be the best music video of all time, but, below the jump, their other entry, which is a better song.

(more…)

Posted by Brad @ 3:00 pm on December 29th 2010

12 Days of Music Video of the Week

3. Brett Domino – Justin Timberlake Medley

This is one of those videos that I am literally incapable of watching without tapping my feet and having a big idiot grin on my face for. Like the Gregory Brothers, Justin Domino is such a creation of the YouTube era, but he also happens to probably be some kind of musical genius prodigy.

(2009, 2008, 2007)

Posted by Brad @ 3:00 pm on December 28th 2010

12 Days of Music Video of the Week

4. Electric Six – Danger! High Voltage!

So I somehow missed Electric Six when they hit in 2006. I made up for that this year. These are, in many ways, the best songs (and videos!) which also happen to be ridiculously dumb that I’ve ever heard and, frankly, their dumbness is absolutely an integral part of their charm, which is, appropriately, electric.

Also, bonus points for coming in twice as the Music Video of the Week, a feat replicated by two acts this year, and so, bonus after the jump:

(more…)

Posted by Brad @ 5:21 pm on December 27th 2010

Mission Creep of the Day

The Wisconsin Supreme Court looks at the case of a 17-year-old boy who forced another 17-year-old boy to accompany him as he went to collect a debt. The boy was charged with falsely imprisoning a minor, and in Wisconsin that’s classed, automatically, as a sex crime, despite the fact that in this case there was no sex involved anywhere. So, when the boy failed to register as a sex offender, making the pretty reasonable assumption that that designation didn’t apply to him, he was arrested again. The court reviewing this arrest took a rational basis approach, and concluded that the purpose of sex offender registration isn’t really about sex – it’s about protecting the public and assisting law enforcement. In this case, even though the boy didn’t commit any sexual crimes, if the law putting him on the sex offender registry might concievably protect children from him, it’s kosher.

So, there you have it. Sex offender registries: not just for sex offenders anymore.

I always think of this thing when I hear about the ticking time bomb scenarios and things that fall under the rubric of “protecting our security”. Like “thinking of the children”, “protecting our security” winds up meaning different things to different people, usually defaulting, as time goes on, to a more and more expansive definition. But nobody wants to be seen as protecting child molesters and terrorists, so we refuse to impose strict definitions and limits and, before you know it, teen thugs are classed as sex offenders and journalists critical of the United States and who publish classified documents wind up being classed as terrorists. Because think of the children/security.

Posted by Brad @ 3:00 pm on December 27th 2010

12 Days of Music Video of the Week

Any one of my top five I could have justified as the number 1 this year.

5. Regina Spektor – On the Radio

I adore…adore…adore Regina Spektor, and if this song/video doesn’t make you fall in love with her too (on a few levels), you have a heart of stone say I. Any musician who can’t help but sing along to their own back beat has something special.

(2009, 2008, 2007)

Posted by Brad @ 3:00 pm on December 26th 2010

12 Days of Music Video of the Week

6. The Be Good Tanyas – the Littlest Birds

(2009, 2008, 2007)

Posted by Brad @ 3:00 pm on December 25th 2010

12 Days of Music Video of the Week

7. Iron & Wine – Boy With a Coin

Happy Christmas. Here’s seven gypsies dancing*.

(2009, 2008, 2007)

*plus, like, two more.

Posted by Cameron @ 2:21 am on December 25th 2010

Young Me Now Me

Ze Frank has a pretty cool project where people submit current photos of themselves, recreating shots from years past. There are quite a few charming recreations and it’s worth a few minutes flipping through the best-of blog. As an intro to the project, this is one of the better ones with costumes and facial expressions dead on:

But…

The one that took my breath away actually breaks the rules a bit. Which is why it is so awesome. The associated explanation, courtesy of the original post:

I had wanted to take a photo of my son standing on my hand just the way I had stood on my dad’s hand as a baby. My wife snapped the photo and we were amazed at how much I resembled my dad in pose in that 40 year time warp. I will note that although my dad was holding me up in the air outside along the side of a road, I was holding my son, Warren, over a soft bed!

Instead of awkwardly recreating the pose with man being held by an aged father (like some), they adapted it and stumbled into the realm of art. In doing so, they’ve started a tradition that I sincerely hope is continued.

I love the resemblance between father and father. The pose is awesome. The execution is perfect. I’d pay for a print of these two photos in my home.

Posted by Brad @ 3:28 pm on December 24th 2010

The Christian Right Gives up the Ghost on Marijuana Criminalization

His press agents have since walked it back a bit, but he joins others like Sarah Palin who have given hearty “meh”s to the Drug War. I think, for the most part, the social conservatives and even the Tough on Crime conservatives have all come to believe too that the Drug War is, largely, ineffective and even counterproductive. Who’s the last constituency for it then*? Parents?

*Well, The State, of course.

Posted by Brad @ 3:00 pm on December 24th 2010

12 Days of Music Video of the Week

8. Ingrid Michaelson – The Way I Am (rap remix)

Did I mention I love me some white girls?

(2009, 2008, 2007 (>:/))

Posted by Brad @ 3:00 pm on December 23rd 2010

12 Days of Music Video of the Week

9. Jonathan Coulton – Code Monkey

The first-ever 12 Days entry not posted originally by me (credit here goes to Cameron)? Might be. Still, I love me some Jonathan Coulton, and this is like the ultimate fan-community vid.

(2009, 2008, 2007)

Posted by Brad @ 3:00 pm on December 22nd 2010

12 Days of Music Video of the Week

10. Sufjan Stevens – Futile Devices

This track is vastly different from the rest of the album (underrated), which is by the way vastly different live, but it’s a near-perfect encapsulation of the core Sufjan appeal, and just such a pretty little thing.

(2009, 2008, 2007)

Posted by Brad @ 2:54 pm on December 22nd 2010

Audit the Fed Results Beginning to Leak Out…

Unless I missed something, these revelations are stunning.

Rolling Stone gives all the credit to Bernie Sanders, natch, but in a blog post preluding a long-form article later, Matt Taibbi writes:

I was in Washington last week and visited Bernie in his office, mainly to talk about the incredible results of the Federal Reserve audit, about which I’ll be writing more in the upcoming weeks and after the New Year. The audit of the Fed was undertaken because Bernie and a few other members of congress fought very hard during the Dodd-Frank regulatory reform debate to force open Ben Bernanke’s books, and as a result we now know the staggering details of the secret bailout era. We know that Citigroup received $1.6 trillion in loans, and Morgan Stanley $2 trillion, and Goldman Sachs – the same Goldman Sachs that bragged about how quickly it paid back its $10 billion TARP bailout – over $600 billion. We know that hedge fund billionaires who moved their corporate addresses to the Cayman Islands to avoid U.S. taxes were rewarded by their buddies in government with huge Fed loans; we know that the U.S. government likewise has been extending massive loans to a variety of Japanese car companies at a time when many American auto workers in Detroit have seen their wages cut in half, to $14 an hour.

TARP, in this case, was nothing. The real action was happening in private negotiations between the Fed and the banks, and it was of an order of magnitude far, far greater than what was made public.

Posted by Brad @ 2:21 pm on December 22nd 2010

When McCain Was Almost a Democrat

While we all ponder the fall of John McCain, Joshua Green has us all beat – he wrote a cover story for the Washington Monthly back in 2002 arguing that McCain ought to switch to the Democratic party. And it was both a strong case, and seemed mighty plausible at the time. Re-reading it, I’m reminded of why I was such a strong McCain supporter in 2000 (even knocked on doors on his behalf during the Maine Republican primary – the only New England primary he wound up losing) and why, had he gone down a different path, his legacy would be vastly, vastly different today.

As a war hero who’s hawkish on foreign policy, he more than matches Bush on the military front. As a reform-minded foe of corporate welfare, Big Tobacco, and the Republican right, he is peerless. McCain is Bush’s most vociferous critic, voted against the president’s tax cut, forced his hand on campaign finance reform, and federalized airport security in the face of White House opposition. He has co-sponsored numerous bills with Democrats–many of them in the presidential-aspirant class–requiring background checks at gun shows (Lieberman), a patients’ bill of rights (Edwards), better fuel-efficiency standards in cars and SUVs (Kerry), and expanded national service programs (Bayh). He is even drafting a bill with Lieberman to reduce greenhouse gasses and mitigate global warming.

Joshua’s question now is – does he still holds a single one of those positions?

It’s clear that, around the run-up to the Iraq war, at some point he decided his future was in the Republican party. And once he chose that path, he remade himself in the image of what his perception of a successful Republican party man looked like – an image that he was fairly contemptuous of, so it has become a sort of caricature at this point. My own personal take is that McCain, at this point, has no real idea what he’s doing. He has no over-arching anything, including principles. He’s more like one of Shakespeare’s more untethered characters, seemingly bouncing around and creating machinations more so he can feel some sense of agency than for any other real purpose, and where there was once steely resolve in service to a strong moral core, now there’s simply seemingly entirely random but nevertheless single-minded stubbornness with no real grounding; villainy not even for personal gain so much as for its own sake, to let the world know he exists. He’s gone from being Othello to Iago in less than a decade. Still, Green’s article is an interesting blast from the past. RIP, Good McCain.

Posted by Brad @ 2:00 pm on December 22nd 2010

But Meanwhile…

The Obama administration has also released a Kingly Degree to the Peasants that the Supreme Law of the Land will now be indefinite detention subject only to executive review for Gitmo detainees.

[T]he order establishes indefinite detention as a long-term Obama administration policy and makes clear that the White House alone will manage a review process for those it chooses to hold without charge or trial.

Merry Christmas!

Posted by Brad @ 1:31 pm on December 22nd 2010

Obama: After DADT, DOMA Should be the Next Thing to Go

Maybe I haven’t been paying attention, but that seems an uncharacteristically strong position for Obama to take given his opposition to gay marriage. But, he tells The Advocate – his first sit-down with an LGBT publication btw – that it ought to be repealed.

It’s a really interesting interview, and worth your time. It’s centered around DADT, of course, but the long digression into DOMA is what jumps out at me.

Remember, of course, that DOJ lawyers are right now defending DOMA in court, as they were DADT. But Obama says his gameplan with DOMA is the same. Leave the judicial fight to the lawyers and the judiciary, and wage a long-view campaign to get the real done through the legislature. His time frame on that is 3-4 years.

“Repealing DOMA, getting ENDA [a bill to protect LGBT people from discrimination] done, those are things that should be done. I think those are natural next steps legislatively. I’ll be frank with you, I think that’s not going to get done in two years. We’re on a three- or four-year time frame unless there’s a real transformation of attitudes within the Republican caucus.”[]

“I have a whole bunch of really smart lawyers who are looking at a whole range of options,” Obama said. “My preference wherever possible is to get things done legislatively because I think it gains a legitimacy, even among people who don’t like the change, that is valuable.”

“So with ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ I have such great confidence in the effective implementation of this law because it was repealed [legislatively]. We would have gotten to the same place if the court order had made it happen, but I think it would have engendered resistance,” he added. “So I’m always looking for a way to get it done if possible through our elected representatives. That may not be possible in DOMA’s case. That’s something that I think we have to strategize on over the next several months.”

As to his own views on gay marriage, he reiterated that he’s very comfortable with his position that civil union is the baseline, i.e. the minimum. But he also indicated his own views on not letting that extent to marriage-in-name are softening. “I’m wrestling with this. My attitudes are evolving on this.”

Two weeks ago I’d have called this cynical bullshit, but given that he was more-or-less good on his word with DADT, and given that DOMA is absolutely going to be the next big battleground for gay rights, Obama coming out early in favor of the notion is a surprise, and welcome.

Posted by Jerrod @ 7:08 am on December 22nd 2010

It’s the end of the Internet as we know it…

So now that the FCC has adopted rules that they call “net neutrality” yet oddly do not adhere to the premise of it, what can we expect? If you guess higher rates for “preferred content” and greater profits for ISPs to the detriment of innovation and free speech, you win!

As upset as I am by this blatantly business-oriented policy at the cost to the citizenry, it’s the language of it that serves as the salt in my wounds. It doesn’t preserve an open internet (especially in the wireless spectrum) and it doesn’t benefit anyone except profit seekers (which by definition hurts the consumers). Even though it looks like “paid prioritization” is prohibited, there seems to be plenty of wiggle room in the language that is disappointing. A clear and unambiguous statement would have been much preferred.

Get ready for the internets to cost more and offer less. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Posted by Brad @ 7:18 pm on December 21st 2010

Senate Breaks START Filibuster

67-28.

You know, it’s starting to seem to me that maybe the GOP opposition of late is having it both ways. They DO seem to be interested in governance – they just aren’t interested in looking like they’re interested in governance.

Posted by Rojas @ 4:39 pm on December 21st 2010

Treat all leaks alike

Gregg Easterbrook:

Last week, this New York Times Page 1 story reported that the Obama administration “plans to further step up attacks on al-Qaeda and Taliban insurgents in the tribal areas of Pakistan.”

Maybe that’s a good idea; maybe it’s not. But as an item of information, the Times story is far more explosive than anything so far in WikiLeaks disclosures, most of which contain trivia and statements of the obvious. The Times story tells al-Qaeda and Taliban factions in tribal Pakistan that raids and air strikes will increase. The story is a warning of something about to happen rather than a retrospective on prior events. And the story is sourced to unnamed “administration officials.” That is — the information was leaked by the White House or Pentagon.

Perhaps the purpose of the leak was to make the president sound tough at a time when his poll numbers are fluttering. Perhaps the purpose was to make the U.S. military sound powerful at a time when a $725 billion Pentagon budget request was awaiting approval in Congress. The purpose cannot have been to help American soldiers and air crew in the field. Their chances would be best if U.S. forces struck al-Qaeda and Taliban targets without warning, with nothing said by the White House or Pentagon until after the operation was over.

I don’t question the Times’ decision to run the story. What I question is White House and Defense Department officials denouncing Julian Assange when he publishes leaks that embarrass the powerful — then merrily using leaks themselves when they think the powerful will benefit. If revealing government information is, on its face, an offense, White House and Pentagon officials who leak to reporters should be chased across the world and prosecuted just as vigorously as Assange.

Posted by Brad @ 3:25 pm on December 21st 2010

Census 2010

The Census results are officially out now, and it’s much as would have been expected, save the news is worse for Democrats than they might have hoped.

Topline: our population is 308,745,538, up 9.7% from 2000, which is actually a slower growth rate than in the previous few decades.

Only a single state lost population, gross, in the last ten years: Michigan. Fastest growing state, as you might have known, as Nevada, up 35%, although the state that added the most people was Texas.

More detailed breakdowns.

So, let’s get to Congress. From biggest gain to biggest loss:

Texas +4
Florida +2
Arizona +1
Georgia +1
South Carolina +1
Utah +1
Washington +1
Nevada +1

Illinois -1
Iowa -1
Louisiana -1
Massachussetts -1
Michigan -1
Missouri -1
New Jersey -1
Pennsylvania -1
New York -2
Ohio -2

You can see where that fits historically with this cool table.

Of the states gaining seats, all but two (WA and NV) are controlled by Republicans. Of the states losing seats, only IL and MA are squarely in Dem control (MI, OH, and PA are Republican controlled). In most of the losing states, as David Weigel aptly puts it, “the Democratic caucus in the House is about to see internal warfare in the rust belt and northeast, as their members are forced into Thunderdome battle for the diminished number of seats.”

And, it has to be said, the next GOP candidate gets essentially 6 free extra electoral votes from solid red states. They essentially get Kansas, twice.

For much more in depth analysis, here is Nate Silver’s take.

For a short version, here is mind: the Democrats are going to get hosed here.

Posted by Brad @ 3:00 pm on December 21st 2010

12 Days of Music Video of the Week

11. Sara Bareilles – Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay

I loved me some white girl soul this year. This is just a phenomenal stripped down vocal performance.

(2009, 2008, 2007)

Posted by Brad @ 12:45 pm on December 21st 2010

Perhaps I Should Rethink My Stance on Jury Nullification

Still seems to me wrong, and corrosive to the rule of law. Although, if one is going to overrule the rule of law, I’d sure rather it be the citizenry then the government. And, as an act of civil disobedience, maybe there’s something to it.

A funny thing happened on the way to a trial in Missoula County District Court last week.

Jurors – well, potential jurors – staged a revolt.

They took the law into their own hands, as it were, and made it clear they weren’t about to convict anybody for having a couple of buds of marijuana. Never mind that the defendant in question also faced a felony charge of criminal distribution of dangerous drugs.

The tiny amount of marijuana police found while searching Touray Cornell’s home on April 23 became a huge issue for some members of the jury panel.

No, they said, one after the other. No way would they convict somebody for having a 16th of an ounce.

In fact, one juror wondered why the county was wasting time and money prosecuting the case at all, said a flummoxed Deputy Missoula County Attorney Andrew Paul.

District Judge Dusty Deschamps took a quick poll as to who might agree. Of the 27 potential jurors before him, maybe five raised their hands. A couple of others had already been excused because of their philosophical objections.

“I thought, ‘Geez, I don’t know if we can seat a jury,’ ” said Deschamps, who called a recess.

And he didn’t.

During the recess, Paul and defense attorney Martin Elison worked out a plea agreement. That was on Thursday.

On Friday, Cornell entered an Alford plea, in which he didn’t admit guilt. He briefly held his infant daughter in his manacled hands, and walked smiling out of the courtroom.

“Public opinion, as revealed by the reaction of a substantial portion of the members of the jury called to try the charges on Dec. 16, 2010, is not supportive of the state’s marijuana law and appeared to prevent any conviction from being obtained simply because an unbiased jury did not appear available under any circumstances,” according to the plea memorandum filed by his attorney.

“A mutiny,” said Paul.

Posted by Brad @ 11:55 am on December 21st 2010

The Economic Value of Good, Bad Teachers

Turns out, a teacher with one standard deviation of effectiveness above the mean generates about $400,000 worth of quantifiable value per class (of 20 students).

Meanwhile, the bottom 5-8% of teachers, as a whole, cost us about 100 trillion dollars.

Posted by Brad @ 11:53 am on December 21st 2010

The New York Times and Washington Post Should be Tried for Treason and Shot

There is a great piece of investigative journalism at the New York Times today, with Mark Mazzetti and Dexter Filkins filing the story “U.S. Military Seeks to Expand Raids in Pakistan”, in which they publish the news that the United States is secretly preparing to escalate our on-the-ground military operations in Pakistan, an ostensible ally with whom we are theoretically not at war. This is, needless to say, not being done with Pakistani permission – the United States is just taking the gamble that the Pakistani government won’t notice or will be incentivized to sweep it under the rug themselves. It is also, of course, Top Secret information, which Mazzetti and Filkins got as all investigative journalists do – by convincing people with access to that information to leak it to them.

In the Washington Post, Dana Priest and William M. Arkin continue their series “Monitoring America” with an account of how, after 911, local law enforcement agencies were suddenly flooded with money and, in the absence of terror threats in, say, Memphis, they just funneled those resources into surveillance equipment that they then turned on their citizens in the pursuit of just garden variety crime. They also detail the massive database the FBI is compiling on “suspicious activity” amongst the citizenry – anything from buying a bad book to picking up fertilizer to attending a Ron Paul rally. That activity is then documented, attached to your identity, and warehoused. All of this information, is, of course, if not Top Secret than certainly classified.

Both interesting items in their own rights, but it also begs the question…

Posted by Brad @ 5:20 pm on December 20th 2010

The Return of ROTC to Harvard et al?

An interesting footnote to the DADT repeal – it now removes the single remaining objection most universities which exclude the ROTC had to its presence on campus. One would half-expect them to find new, mushier objections to supersede the old ones (which began with objections to the Vietnam War and have since morphed into the (perfectly legitimate) objection that they aren’t allowed to let discriminatory orgs operate on campus), but no….Harvard and Yale at least promise to honor their word and allow the ROTC back for the first time since 1969, and other Ivys like Columbia promise to reconsider once the next semester convenes.

Posted by Rojas @ 5:01 pm on December 20th 2010

12 Days of Music Video of Right Now

11.5. Todd Snider — Beer Run

Posted by Brad @ 3:00 pm on December 20th 2010

12 Days of Music Video of the Week

12. Madeleine Peyroux – I’m All Right

The charms of Madeleine Peyroux are subtle and relaxed, but they’re there alright. Love this song – as dialed down as an anthem can get.

(as always, I’ll be appending the videos from previous years that came in at the corresponding spot, at the bottom of the posts).

(2009, 2008, 2007)

Posted by Brad @ 11:16 am on December 20th 2010

As DADT Goes…

So goes DOMA?

Posted by Brad @ 11:12 am on December 20th 2010

Dark Horse Watch

I am on record saying I don’t think Sarah Palin will run for President, and that Mitt Romney cannot win. Sully keeps asking, if Palin runs, who beats her? My short answer is: probably somebody not even really on your radar right now.

David Weigel points to one potential candidate, who at the very least will almost certainly be running, and is already a rock star with the hardcore Tea Party set: Herman Cain, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO and current talk radio host. Bonus: he’s black, with very strong social conservative bonafides that, in the style of Mike Huckabee, tend to come off as more down-home, non-threatening, and sincerely held, rather than either the sheep’s clothing style of Mitt Romney or the club-to-beat-you-over-the-head-with of others.

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