Posted by Brad @ 7:30 pm on April 30th 2011

Music Video of the Week

An earworm that’s been growing on me.

Diamond Nights – The Girl’s Attractive

Posted by Rojas @ 4:45 pm on April 29th 2011

The Big Winner of the Royal Wedding

Cthulhu, naturally.

Posted by Brad @ 2:42 pm on April 29th 2011

It Occurs to Me…

That with not a single post about the royal wedding, our sitename and presumed hook of being about the connections between England and America looks even more lame and head-scratchingly not-relevant-to-the-site than usual.

Posted by Brad @ 2:00 pm on April 29th 2011

Headline of the Day

US intel: No evidence of Viagra as weapon in Libya

This is contrary to claims that Susan Rice has been making at the U.N., apparently.

Posted by Brad @ 11:57 am on April 28th 2011

Quote of the Day II

On news of Katie Couric’s departure from CBS:

“Right. Yes, I think I read that in a newspaper, one of many newspapers that I read.”

—Sarah Palin

Heh. Point, Palin.

Posted by Brad @ 10:57 am on April 28th 2011

Quote of the Day

We hear a lot about that evil Congress holding the government hostage to force the hand of the President. But let’s also remember that one of the biggest drivers for the implosion of the concept of civil liberties in America today is, in fact, a legislative branch that is less recalcitrant than in its entire history, and certainly less than the system was designed to not only accommodate, but to encourage.

“The three branches have been battling one another throughout our history. It’s like rock paper scissors. And it’s sort of like the scissors have decided they don’t want to play anymore.”

—Michael W. Macleod-Ball, Chief of Staff of the ACLU, D.C. Office, in an interview with Conor Friedersdorf

Posted by Brad @ 9:22 am on April 28th 2011

Ron Paul on Abortion

Interesting excerpt from his book Liberty Defined. For our social liberal friends, it’s probably at least worth reading his argument on the issue – which is much more thoughtful and in depth than most any politician on either side – before immediately dismissing him as a Christianist fascist. I happen to still disagree with him, but, again, it’s worth reading.

H/T: Reason, who have a similar take.

Posted by Brad @ 3:45 pm on April 27th 2011

Headline of the Day

8 Horses Killed in Possible Anti-Gay Attack.

Posted by Brad @ 10:12 am on April 27th 2011

Baseball Talk – April

Since it’s my blog, and I have no one to talk baseball to in Philly (being a Blue Jays fan), I’m going to put up a baseball thread every month. And you’re just going to have to like it. Alternatively, not read it.

April’s about in the books, how’s it going?

Posted by Brad @ 9:43 am on April 27th 2011

Today’s Bernanke Press Conference

The Wall Street Journal gives a brief primer of what to listen for.

Posted by Brad @ 9:06 am on April 27th 2011

The End of Birtherism?

In a surprise announcement, Obama asked his lawyers to request a special exception to Hawaii’s rules, and to ask that they release the long form birth certificate – not the “certificate of live birth” that had previously been released. And so they did. And here it is.

Remember, the certificate of live birth is the legal standard, but the long form is what the attending physician of the birth signs (and which is then used to draw up the certificate of live birth, which is for government purposes). I’m actually a little shocked that they hadn’t done this until now – it was my impression that they simply didn’t know if the long form even still existed. But, either way, here it is.

What was the difference? Donald Trump. As the WH Communications Director said:

White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said the decision to release the document came because “the president was struck by how this was crowding out the debate” on the budget.” He added that “it became an issue that transcended” the Internet and conspiracy theorists and had moved into the mainstream.

And, I have to say, in a weird way I think this gets more previously unwilling-to-denounce-Birtherism politicos off the hook, presuming they NOW shut the door on it. The “I’m just asking questions” defense works, and they can say “See? We asked enough questions that we finally got a transparent answer. Good for us.” And they’re kind of right.

Posted by Adam @ 6:52 am on April 27th 2011

Petraeus to CIA, Panetta to DoD

Finally, Bob Gates’ delayed departure is happening, according to the ticker on the BBC news website, to be replaced by CIA chief Leon Panetta, with Panetta to be replaced by Gen. David Petraeus.

I wonder if moving Petaeus is partly motivated by getting him out of the Afghanistan command, where his popularity would make life really hard for team Obama if they try to draw down in Afghanistan against his recommendations. CIA Chief is safely away from the limelight, normally, and solves Obama’s problem of having a senior commander more trusted with matters military (and probably more admired) than he is.

Gates seems to have done a very good job. If only he’d been appointed by Bush sooner.

Posted by Rojas @ 4:47 pm on April 26th 2011

For the child who has everything and won’t shut the hell up about it

In the proud tradition of “Our Angry Alphabet” and “The Man Who Kept Christmas Up His Ass”, here’s a new children’s book that will not be winning the Caldecott medal any time soon.

Posted by Brad @ 1:17 pm on April 26th 2011

Music Video of the They Might Be Giants Awareness Day

(because that’s today)

While this one’s my favorite, and this one the most burned in my memory, this is the one I wind up singing to myself the most, probably once a week for the last ten years (really!)(close second).

Posted by Brad @ 12:56 pm on April 26th 2011

Why Ron’s Running

I’d been perplexed as to why Ron Paul might run given the likely (now certain) entry of Gary Johnson, an almost tailor-made torch-bearer for the movement that Paul created. It seems not only like a dick move, and an uncharacteristically self-aggrandizing one, but also as perhaps a counter-productive one if your ultimate end is the mainstreaming of a movement and the popularizing/normalizing of an ideology. I don’t begrudge him running, precisely – even though, although there are certainly positives to have two libertarian candidates in the Republican field, the prospect of extra debate time doesn’t, to me, outweigh the problem of essentially knee-capping the possibility of either campaign consolidating small-l libertarian voters to the extent that they would then be able to reach out to “the middle”. There isn’t, by the numbers, a large enough contingent of hardcore small-l libertarian voters to themselves carry a candidate to anywhere but respectable fundraising totals, quasi-celebrity, and maybe some okay also-run vote totals when it’s all said and done that never approached anywhere near a level that would actually threaten the first tier candidates and move the candidate into a realm of “contender” that would REALLY begin normalizing thier ideas. And so to me the job of the small-l candidate this cycle would be to shore up Ron’s voters in the previous campaign, to keep those people in the bag, and then quickly move beyond. Instead, I think Ron’s decision forecloses on that possibility, as the challenge for both Paul and Johnson now will be to merely win a decisive amount of Ron’s supporters from the LAST campaign.

And if you want a few previews of how that might go in the trenches, remember all those Reason-LewRockwell flamewars from the last Paul campaign indicated or the problems created when Ron’s endorsement press conference – wherein he endorsed “anybody but the main two party candidates” rather than any one specifically, creating widespread resentment and virtually ensuring that his voters would dissipate for the cycle rather than get behind any general election candidate? My guess is the Paul-Johnson split winds up darn near 50-50 (although adjusted for Ron’s relative celebrity it might go closer to 75-25), and I also guess it’s probably going to be a bit more contentious than we’d like to think (though not from the candidates themselves, I’d imagine).

To put it another way, instead of seeing Ron’s ideas go mainstream – instead of liberty-inclined voters getting behind a candidate and following them towards a new level of respectability and a new place at the Republican table – I fear we now get to be treated to the inner fissures of the liberty movement (and the incumbent purity dick-size competitions) that LP voters regularly get to enjoy. So much energy is going to be wasted on small-l voters trying to decide which candidate to back, and the candidates’ teams trying to render contrasts (and Jack, here, at last, is where Ron’s relative right-wingness on things like abortion and immigration is going to finally be live), that I think it’s going to essentially nullify any possibility for momentum for either candidate to get BEYOND the already built-in (thanks to 2008) liberty base.

Point being, I think Ron’s decision here is, as far as the liberty movement is concerned, an inherently limiting, rather than expansive, move. But, in pondering this, I now think that that’s part of the point. To wit the most germane question might be, presuming again that Ron isn’t merely out for self-aggrandizement (which I think he is almost incapable of doing): Cui bono?

(more…)

Posted by Brad @ 11:13 am on April 26th 2011

Where are the Republicans Denouncing Birtherism?

Well, here’s one:

“Well, you know, it seems to me that we have talked about this issue now going on probably two years, and that I believe that most people have reached out and they did their investigations, and it’s become such a huge distraction. I for one, I believe that what I have seen, and after speaking with governor — or the prior governor of Hawaii — that indeed he [Obama] was born in Hawaii.

It’s just something that I think is leading our country down a path of destruction, and it just is not serving any good purpose.

And I think we just really need to move on. Everybody’s had two years to prove, if they wanted to, that he was not born in Hawaii. They haven’t come up with any of that kind of proof.

So, it just seems to me that it’s more political rhetoric, and that it takes the ball off the kinds of subjects that we all ought to be discussing, and that would be jobs and the economy.”

I can’t tell what it says about anything that the voice of reason and, god help us, political courage in this case, is Jan Brewer.

Posted by Cameron @ 12:02 am on April 26th 2011

Third time’s the charm?

Somehow I’m not too optimistic, nevertheless, Ron Paul is in.

Posted by Brad @ 4:15 pm on April 25th 2011

Your Smart Phone is Smarter Than You Think

And it’s not just GPS coordinates it stores. Alexis Madrigal goes through a quick and dirty forensic analysis of his phone – the kind kind of thing more and more police departments are doing to criminal or even just stopped suspects – and does a 180 on his previous position of “relax”.

I plugged my phone into my computer and opened an application called Lantern, a forensics program for investigating iPhones and iPads. Ten minutes later, I’m staring at everything my iPhone knows about me. About 14,000 text messages, 1,350 words in my personal dictionary, 1,450 Facebook contacts, tens of thousands of locations pings, every website I’ve ever visited, what locations I’ve mapped, my emails going back a month, my photos with geolocation data attached and how many times I checked my email on March 24 or any day for that matter. Want to reconstruct a night? Lantern has a time line that combines all my communications and photos in one neat interface. While most of it is invisible during normal operations, there is a record of every single thing I’ve done with this phone, which also happens to form a pretty good record of my life.

Figuring that I’ve got nothing to hide or steal, I’d always privileged convenience over any privacy and security protocols. Not anymore. Immediately after trying out Lantern, I enabled the iPhone’s passcode and set it to erase all data on the phone after 10 failed attempts. This thing remembers more about where I’ve been and what I’ve said than I do, and I’m damn sure I don’t want it falling into anyone’s hands.

More here.

Posted by Brad @ 4:06 pm on April 25th 2011

Op-Ed Flub of the Day

“Barack Obama is facing a financial emergency on a grander scale. Yet his approach has been to engage in one of the biggest peacetime spending binges in American history.”

—Mitt Romney, Manchester Union Leader

Dailykos pounces.

Posted by Brad @ 3:39 pm on April 25th 2011

Dark Horse Watch: Haley Barbour Out

He will not be joining the band of Merry Pranksters in seeking the Republican nomination.

Full statement:

“I will not be a candidate for president next year. This has been a difficult, personal decision, and I am very grateful to my family for their total support of my going forward, had that been what I decided.

“Hundreds of people have encouraged me to run and offered both to give and raise money for a presidential campaign. Many volunteers have organized events in support of my pursuing the race. Some have dedicated virtually full time to setting up preliminary organizations in critical, early states and to helping plan what has been several months of intensive activity.

“I greatly appreciate each and every one of them and all their outstanding efforts. If I have disappointed any of them in this decision, I sincerely regret it.

“A candidate for president today is embracing a ten-year commitment to an all-consuming effort, to the virtual exclusion of all else. His (or her) supporters expect and deserve no less than absolute fire in the belly from their candidate. I cannot offer that with certainty, and total certainty is required.

“This decision means I will continue my job as Governor of Mississippi, my role in the Republican Governors Association and my efforts to elect a new Republican president in 2012, as the stakes for the nation require that effort to be successful.”

As the Corner notes, the good news here is it might push Mitch Daniels in. He’s a good friend of Barbour’s.

In fairness to FreedomDemocrat, I will only make this a minor data point in my ongoing argument that Republican pols who look (and act) the part of the Southern racist have incredible difficult gaining traction, not an advantage in doing so as would hold according to a lot of liberal cw.

Posted by Brad @ 1:53 pm on April 25th 2011

The Andrew Sullivan Justification for Retaining Gitmo

Sully sez, by way of whitewashing poor ole Obama having his hands tied on Gitmo, point to the example of a former detainee, released by the Bush administration, “rejoining the battlefield”:

“Imagine if that happened under Obama. The GOP would go off its rocker (even as they uttered not a peep when it happened under Bush).”

While I understand that’s meant more as a mitigation than a justification, what’s so striking (to me) is that I can’t figure out, the second those words leave your lips, how you don’t realize that your calculus is even MORE cowardly than the Bush justification for Gitmo.

Bush/Cheney doctrine: We can’t release them because they might attack us, and that would be bad.

Obama/Sullivan doctrine: We can’t release them because they might attack us, and that would hurt Obama politically, and that would be bad.

I mean, really?

Posted by Brad @ 1:13 pm on April 25th 2011

WikiLeaks Continues Committing Egregious Acts of Journalism Against the United States

I think the best read on the Gitmo dump that WikiLeaks did last week is Amy Davidson’s quick-read.

I am at a point now where I will no longer argue Gitmo or our treatment of detainees with supporters (of what I’m not sure) who chose to remain ignorant about the facts of it. Because the facts of Gitmo – it really is the keystone cops of terrorist intelligence gathering – are so radically different than the popular mythologizing of it on the right (the “worst of the worst”, battle-hardened Al Queda commandos grabbed on the battlefield armed to the teeth and firing at Americans, and now, after years of tense interrogations, giving up vital information terrorist operations) that I just don’t have the energy required to educate them on it, and the truth is they don’t really care to be educated anyway.

But the document dump today just further adds to the picture that Gitmo, now an American institution, was really just a place where we did things when we had no idea what we were doing but figured we ought to be doing something.

“It is undetermined as to why the detainee was transferred to GTMO,” the base commander wrote in a report on one of “three hapless Tajiks,” as the Guardian described them, who had been shipped there after being rounded up with others—not on what supporters of Guantánamo like to call the battlefield, but in the library at the University of Karachi, in Pakistan. They were held for two years.

And the Al Jazeera journalist, a Sudanese cameraman named Sami al-Hajj, was held for six years. There were vague allegations that he was helping Al Qaeda help the Chechens (he denied them and, indeed, he was released by the Bush Administration without charges against him), but his lawyer has said that his interrogators were just interested in Al Jazeera. And, indeed, one of the “reasons for transfer” to Guantánamo in his file is to “provide information on”

The al-Jazeera News Network’s training program, telecommunications equipment, and newsgathering operations in Chechnya, Kosovo, and Afghanistan, including the network’s acquisition of a video of [Osama bin Laden] and subsequent interview with [bin Laden].

Is that what Guantánamo is for? Every journalist should wonder what information he or she might have that the government could find useful. (The file also says that among the items al-Hajj had on him when he was arrested were “several photos of an infant.”)

Posted by Brad @ 12:06 pm on April 25th 2011

Another Incredible Prison Escape in Afghanistan

This time, over 400 prisoners escaping via tunnel. I’m not even sure how that’s possible, but it is.

A few years ago 1100 prisoners escaped in what might be the most incredible prison assault I’ve ever heard described, and it seems about once a year a story like that pops up. I swear there’s a movie about Afghanistan prison escapes in here somewhere.

Posted by Brad @ 11:55 am on April 25th 2011

Abandoned at the Altar

King & Spalding, the firm retained to defend DOMA in lieu of the justice department, has dropped the case, ostensibly because they got quite a lot of blowback from it and decided, at the end of the day, it was bad for business.

This is, apparently, an outrageous act of intimidation on behalf of gay marriage advocates. It’s ironic for conservatives to be crying foul on outrage-fueled boycott attempts, of the sort they seem to attempt quite often anytime, for instance, a major company or institution tries to redefine domestic partner benefits or in any way help “normalize” gayness (and that’s just on gay marriage issues – I won’t even go into campaigns to intimidate and pressure, say, the lawyers and firms tasked with defending terror suspects). Of course, this whole thing is ironic all the way through, as conservatives have suddenly adopted a profound reverence for the judicial process that was notably absent in every other same-sex marriage fight.

Paul Clement, a major partner and former solicitor general, just resigned from the firm due to the decision.

Posted by Brad @ 11:45 am on April 25th 2011

Joe Arpaio is a Symtom of the Problem, Not the Problem

More outrageous behavior from a powerful sheriff who may well wind up a Senator. It’s almost pointless by now to point out what a disgrace he is, because the same behavior that gets such a visceral negative reaction from me is precisely the core of his appeal. And I think there are two root causes for this. The first is, politically, I think there is a substantial swath of the (mostly right-leaning) electorate who isn’t even ideologically driven. They just want to find the most dickish political figure possible. Dick Cheney, Sarah Palin, Fred Thompson, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Donald Trump – if there’s one lesson you can start gleaning from the conservative electorate in this country, it’s that ideas don’t matter so much as attitude. If you drive liberals crazy, you stand a good chance of becoming a conservative celebrity, almost regardless of what you actually believe or propose.

The second is of course that it doesn’t offend a certain portion of the public when you dehumanize criminals. It is, in fact, a huge plus. We’re now a country where about half of the population believes not only that torture isn’t bad, but that there ought to be more of it. Think about that for a second. Sometimes (most times) I get despondent that we’ve already passed the point of no return on becoming something akin to a police state – where you are guilty until proven innocent, where once dropped down the incarceration hole the odds are stacked against you to an almost Kafka-esque degree, where the societal answer to a huge swath of social problems is not to address causes, but to just try to rip entire swaths of people out of the social fabric entirely (Mexicans, muslims, sex offenders, violently mentally ill, hardcore drug addicts, etc.). Where the most important fact about a suspect is not necessarily whether they are guilty or not in the old-fashioned sense of the word, but whether they are undesirable or not, and to what degree.

When I would get in arguments ten years ago about my fear for a police state, I often felt like I wasn’t registering with the person to whom I was speaking because, in their mind, a police state is some nefarious central authority swooping in and subjugating an entire population overnight and against their will. But that’s not what I fear. What I fear is that no subjugation is necessary. That we slide to a point where we not only ALLOW the total dehumanization of entire segments of the population – we demand it. Where the rule of law is seen not only as an inconvenience, but as itself a violation of justice. Where, indeed, Joe Arpaio isn’t seen as a problem, or a betrayal, but rather a solution, and representative of a promise kept. Here’s a guy who chains pregnant ladies in labor to beds, uses tanks to bust people for possession, and runs HotorNot contests for his mentally ill prisoners. And not only is a plurality of the voting public out there not calling for his immediate dismissal – they’re calling for him to take his ideas and personality national.

I think we probably are past the point of no return on this, to be honest. I think the civil libertarian concepts that have guided this country since its inception exist now in name only – that the hull integrity has been irreparably breached and we’re now in a state of decompression. I think we’ve reached critical mass, and it’s all downhill from here.

Or, maybe it’s just Monday.

Posted by Rojas @ 10:30 pm on April 23rd 2011

“Ron Paul without the gold obsession and the racist newsletter baggage.”

Gary Johnson is officially in the race, and Conor Friedersdorf dares to dream:

As yet, I’m unsure whether I’ll cast my ballot for him or not. But I’d I’d love to see what happened if an honest man with executive experience, an aversion to wars of choice, and a soft spot for civil liberties took the White House.

Is anyone else going to offer me that chance?

I believe I’ll donate.

Posted by Cameron @ 9:49 pm on April 22nd 2011

Music Video

Price on Your Head – Johnny Polygon

Posted by Brad @ 11:43 am on April 22nd 2011

Poll Result of the Day

Somebody asks, in poll form, the correct question: not if we should cut X, Y, or Z, but rather which to cut of X, Y, or Z.

So, in addition to finding that Americans want a smaller government providing fewer services by a margin of 55-33 and they would rather reduce spending than raise taxes by a margin of 58-29, what’s the answer as to where to cut?

44. As you may know, the largest items in the federal budget are Medicare, the government health insurance program for seniors, Social Security and the military. If you HAD to choose ONE, which of the following programs would you be willing to change in order to cut government spending – Medicare, Social Security or the military?

Medicare 21%
Social Security 17%
Military 45%

And that’s actually down 10 points since January.

Posted by Brad @ 1:10 pm on April 21st 2011

Polling Libya

Not to put too fine a point on it, but support for current American involvement in Libya is polling between 32 and 42 percent. That’s before any escalation, which is coming.

Posted by Brad @ 1:04 pm on April 21st 2011

And For God’s Sake, Don’t Run, Donald

Although it’s increasingly sounding like he actually will, and is willing to plug his own money into the process. Which I greatly resent because it will then force me to write about him (I think this is officially our first Donald Trump post). What’s his platform?

“I’m not for doing anything at all negative to senior citizens,” Trump said.

Got that?

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