Posted by Brad @ 12:48 pm on January 31st 2012

The Canadians Have Won the Lego Space Wars

Posted by James @ 10:01 pm on January 30th 2012

Meanwhile, which candidate will be wearing Bean Boots through the Florida swamp?

Yeah, him.

Linda Bean, an heiress to famed Maine outfitter L.L. Bean, came out in support of Ron Paul on Saturday as the candidate made a campaign swing through the state.

Bean, who is a part owner of her family’s company and sits on its board, said she is a longtime supporter of the Texas congressman. She backed his 2008 presidential bid, but hasn’t made a public endorsement in the current race until now.

“I’ve been for Ron Paul for years,” Bean said. “I watched his House races in Texas, and he’s just true blue. He doesn’t waver from the Constitution and I like that very much.”

Bean made her endorsement at the lobster restaurant she owns in Freeport, situated across the road from L.L. Bean’s large flagship store. She singled out Paul’s appeal across the political spectrum as a reason for her support.

“He’s very electable, he crosses all ideological lines because of his strong message,” Bean said. “He’s for the gold standard. I think people want stability in this country. He’s for helping America domestically, and staying out of aggressive wars. We’re just spending ourselves down the drain in these countries year after year with occupation.”

When asked why she wasn’t supporting fellow New Englander Mitt Romney, Bean said, “I’ve always been for Ron Paul.”

H/T Jack Hunter

Posted by Brad @ 5:27 pm on January 30th 2012

The Perfect Illustration of the State of American Journalism

Economists weigh in on Ron Paul
Speaking to five economists about the presidential candidate’s economic policies.

Posted by Brad @ 5:20 pm on January 30th 2012

Pop Culture News Item of the Day

In addition to Cracked, the other website that cracks me up on a daily basis is the AV Club. Purely because of the writing and tone. A perfect sample:

Newswire NBC yanks donkey semen out of Fear Factor

by Sean O’Neal January 30, 2012

The line separating the sort of gross-out stunt typical of NBC’s Fear Factor and an extreme violation of broadcast and human decency has at last been drawn, and that line has been drawn with donkey semen. TMZ first revealed last week that an upcoming episode would force its contestants to drink an unspecified amount of donkey semen—“Let’s just say it’s an ass-load,” host Joe Rogan could have said, if only he took our calls—all in return for $50,000, or enough money to buy a new car with tinted windows, so no one will see you on the street and yell, “Hey, it’s that guy who drank donkey semen!” But after the subsequent uproar and a screening for NBC president Bob Greenblatt (whose screenings in general we imagine as being a lot like George C. Scott in Hardcore), the network today opted to pull the episode and replace it with a repeat in which contestants put maggots in their ears or gobble horse cock, or something normal like that. Meanwhile, the contestants who already drank the donkey semen don’t get to be on television, but at least they’ll always have the memories.

Bonus: this site is now optimized to get in on the “donkey semen” search traffic.

Posted by Brad @ 11:23 am on January 30th 2012

By Far the Question People Want President Obama to Answer the Most

In the President’s State of the Union speech, he solicited Americans to submit, via YouTube, questions for the President. 133,230 did, and this one was the far-and-away winner:

In every single “Ask the President” sort of thing, a variant of this question invariably generates by far the most support/interest. In fact, it usually happens that out of the top 10 user-submitted questions, at least 6 of them tend to be related to drug policy. One could argue that this is a function of the medium – like Ron Paul winning online polls, something that measures a very particular audience and rewards a particular kind of enthusiasm. But, of course, Ron Paul’s strength in this arena bore out, in that his online register wound up, before the media or polling or establishment attention ever did, correctly divining what appears to be a lasting and significant movement (at least relative to what also-ran Presidential campaigns ever normally generate).

Regardless, as the man notes, MOST Americans appear to now support some find of marijuana legalization, the base of support for the notion appears to be both deeper than is commonly accepted as well as more enthusiastic, and yet it remains an issue which almost the entirety of American polity refuses to even address as a question worth answering (I have no doubt the White House staff will parse the user-submitted questions into a list of questions relating to what the political establishment have deemed the “real” issues). I still can’t believe that, for all kinds of electoral challengers across America, this isn’t an automatic gimme sleeper issue on which to distinguish yourself. It remains the great untapped potential in American politics. As it stands now, it appears almost to be more a marker: those who choose to even regularly address it become, by definition, outside “the mainstream” and thus shut out of American political discourse.

To wit, I’ll answer Mr. Downing’s question:

Q: What do you say to this growing voter constituency that wants more changes to drug policy than you have delivered in your first term?

A: Gary Johnson 2012.

Posted by Brad @ 2:02 pm on January 27th 2012

In response to Ta-Nehisi Coates:

“I acknowledge this newsletter incident is ugly, indefensible and, above all, cynical. I don’t think it is all that matters in the remarkable late career of congressman Paul. And that hunting for heretics rather than celebrating converts is a losing political strategy.”

Andrew Sullivan

I have to say Coates’ blog has become pretty much unreadable since he decided to merge two areas of his current interest where his own estimation of his expertise and perspective (the Civil War and Ron Paul) seem to me to far exceed how valuable his insights actually are. That in this election, in this spot in American history, Coates has decided that the rip-roaring conversation we ought to be having in this election is Ron Paul’s historical opinion on the causes of the Civil War and how that proves…I’ve no idea what…is so far down the rabbit hole of hunting for heretics that it’s not even something I can constructively engage with anymore, even as a reader. I just find it exceedingly dull and irrelevant.

But, if it gets his rocks off and makes him feel all warmly professorial, more power to him I guess. But it is entirely unclear to me what Mr. Coates thinks he’s proving, means to prove, is proving, or why even I, a civil rights minded Ron Paul supporter, should give two shits.

Posted by Brad @ 2:12 pm on January 26th 2012

Bob Dole on Newt Gingrich

Having followed Dole closely for many years, I find this hilarious. It’s perfectly Doleish in every respect. In a statement released by the Romney campaign this morning:

I have not been critical of Newt Gingrich but it is now time to take a stand before it is too late. If Gingrich is the nominee it will have an adverse impact on Republican candidates running for county, state, and federal offices. Hardly anyone who served with Newt in Congress has endorsed him and that fact speaks for itself. He was a one-man-band who rarely took advice. It was his way or the highway.

Gingrich served as Speaker from 1995 to 1999 and had trouble within his own party. Already in 1997 a number of House members wanted to throw him out as Speaker. But he hung on until after the 1998 elections when the writing was on the wall. His mounting ethics problems caused him to resign in early 1999. I know whereof I speak as I helped establish a line of credit of $150,000 to help Newt pay off the fine for his ethics violations. In the end, he paid the fine with money from other sources.

Gingrich had a new idea every minute and most of them were off the wall. He loved picking a fight with Bill Clinton because he knew this would get the attention of the press. This and a myriad of other specifics helped to topple Gingrich in 1998.

In my run for the presidency in 1996 the Democrats greeted me with a number of negative TV ads and in every one of them Newt was in the ad. He was very unpopular and I am not only certain that this did not help me, but that it also cost House seats that year. Newt would show up at the campaign headquarters with an empty ice-bucket in his hand — that was a symbol of some sort for him — and I never did know what he was doing or why he was doing it.

In my opinion if we want to avoid an Obama landslide in November, Republicans should nominate Governor Romney as our standard bearer. He has the requisite experience in the public and private sectors. He would be a president we could have confidence in.

Posted by Brad @ 12:07 pm on January 26th 2012

Great Moments in Local Governance

I’m not really sure how to summarize, or what headline I’d use.

An Oklahoma Republican is pushing a bill to outlaw the use of human fetuses in food, because, as he says, “there is a potential that there are companies that are using aborted human babies in their research and development of basically enhancing flavor for artificial flavors.”

State Sen. Ralph Shortey introduced a bill on Tuesday “prohibiting the sale or manufacture of food or products which contain aborted human fetuses.”

Though he has allowed that he is not aware of this occurring in Oklahoma, or anywhere for that matter, Shortey cited research he did on the internet that claimed that some companies use embryonic stem cells to help develop artificial flavoring. […]

“You may think it’s ethical to kill a child in the womb,” he said. “But the question now before us is: is it ethical to then use that aborted child for research and development to enhance flavors in food?”

Posted by Brad @ 3:24 pm on January 25th 2012

Political Intrigue of the Day

So, I was originally going to post this just to make fun of it:

Nancy Pelosi told CNN last night that Newt Gingrich would definitely not become president, whether he was the GOP nominee or not.

“He’s not going to be president of the United States,” Pelosi said. “That’s not going to happen. Let me just make my prediction and stand by it. It isn’t going to happen.”

Asked why she was so certain by CNN host John King, Pelosi said, “There’s something I know,” but did not elaborate on what she was referring to.

Because…come on.

But Romney’s suggestion that Pelosi might be referring to ethics issues while Gingrich was at the House gives me pause:

Asked about Pelosi’s comments on Fox News this morning, Mitt Romney used the comments as a way to call on Gingrich to ask Congress to release more of the documents related to his ethics investigation.

“I wish I knew what that was,” Romney said about Pelosi’s remark. “I’d tell people what it is right now. That’s one of the reasons why I’m saying that all of the records that were part of the ethics investigation, all of the transcripts, all of the records have to be made public. Not just the final white-washed report, but the full record, the reason that 88 percent of the Republicans in the House voted to reprimand their own speaker, the first time in American history that’s happened.

“We need to understand why that is,” Romney added, “and those records need to be released because you know that if Nancy Pelosi knows those things right now, she will hand them to Barack Obama’s campaign if Speaker Gingrich were our nominee.”

And now I’m thinking that’s a promising line of attach for Romney. I think Romney’s tax returns will effectively end that line of attack (they’re pretty inoffensive, and just underscore that he’s rich), and this is a nice counter-strike, if he can sell it. Because I have no real trouble believing that of all the interviews and background research the House did on Gingrich in pursuance of that investigation, much of it could very easily be slapped together out of context (as well as in) and make Gingrich look pretty horrible. Which is to say, I have no real trouble believing that Gingrich was probably pretty horrible.

Posted by Rojas @ 9:52 pm on January 24th 2012

State of the Union Liveblog

Too quiet around here lately. My excuse is that I’m dedicating all my free time and resources to the creation of a competitive Quidditch team; what’s yours?

Posted by Rojas @ 12:05 pm on January 23rd 2012

Senator Rand Paul detained by TSA

…at the Nashville airport. So reports his father Ron Paul via social media. Further bulletins as events warrant. This should be good…

EDIT: Full-body scanner detected an anomoly; he was denied permission to walk through the scanner again, and refused a subsequent full-body pat-down.

This is probably going to be a major problem, because the actions of TSA in this case are in open, brazen defiance of Article I, Section 6 of the Constitution: “They (Congresspersons) shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.” As Senator Paul was attempting to board a flight to DC for this afternoon’s Senate session, this would not appear to be in any way an ambiguous matter legally.

Posted by Rojas @ 3:04 pm on January 20th 2012

The inevitable torpedo

Gary Johnson is polling at between 8 and 10 percent in some states, drawing largely from Republican support. He’s virtually certain to draw off almost all Republican Paulites unless Rand is on the ticket. At that point the only scenario in which the Republican candidate wins the Presidency is if Europe tanks badly enough to take the US down with it.

This is probably the single most under-covered aspect of the Presidential election at the moment. I doubt it will stay that way.

Posted by Brad @ 12:26 pm on January 20th 2012

Music Video Clip of the Campaign

Man, just a few bars, but you gotta admit he kind of kills it at this fundraiser at the Apollo.

Posted by Brad @ 4:22 pm on January 19th 2012

You Don’t Have to Love America’s Enemies to Appreciate Well-Executed Assholery

The Iranian government, which captured a U.S. stealth drone in December, has agreed to give the top-secret spy craft back, but with a catch.

Instead of the original RQ-170 Sentinel drone, the Islamic Republic said Tuesday that it will send President Obama a tiny toy replica of the plane.

Iranian state radio said that the toy model will be 1/80th the size of the real thing. Iranian citizens can also buy their own toy copies of the drone, which will be available in stores for the equivalent of $4.

Buy yours today!*

*(actually don’t, because that would put you in violation of several American and international statutes**)

**(and serious ones too, unlike the ones preventing you from legally purchasing a fine, fine, Cuban cigar)

Posted by Brad @ 12:54 pm on January 18th 2012

Why Critics of Obama’s Dumb Critics Are Making a Dumb Criticism

Former Dishtern Conor Friedersdorf makes the forest-instead-of-trees reply that Andrew Sullivan’s Time cover story demands.

Posted by Brad @ 12:48 pm on January 18th 2012

Sarah Palin Endorse Newt Gingrich Kind of

And nobody cares.

I have to admit, as an evangelist of Sarah Palin’s lack of party influence and relative unimportance in national politics (pushing back against the Andrew Sullivananian idea that “OMG the Republicans are the party of Palin and she rules 40% of the electorate in this country and is the leader of the Tea Party movement!”), even I’ve been pretty surprised as just HOW unimportant she actually is. I predicated, in making the case in 2010 that there’s no way she would run for President (still waiting for Sullivan’s mea culpa on that one), that she would instead lord her endorsement over the candidates and her involvement in the campaign would win up being a month of Sarah Palin – kingmaker.

Nope. It really does look like Sarah Palin’s 15 minutes of fame – certainly as a political figure, but now even as a tabloid/media figure – is pretty much up. Thank God.

Posted by Brad @ 3:29 pm on January 16th 2012

Music Video of the Week

Sam Cooke – Don’t Get Around Much Anymore

In the pantheon of songs I’m always singing (I sing to myself a lot), this one probably gets the most rotation. Love the slow, subtle crescendo of it. And I say again: Sam Cooke is the greatest singer of all time.

Posted by Brad @ 3:24 pm on January 16th 2012

Quote of the Day

“While each new national security power Washington has embraced was controversial when enacted, they are often discussed in isolation. But they don’t operate in isolation. They form a mosaic of powers under which our country could be considered, at least in part, authoritarian. Americans often proclaim our nation as a symbol of freedom to the world while dismissing nations such as Cuba and China as categorically unfree. Yet, objectively, we may be only half right. Those countries do lack basic individual rights such as due process, placing them outside any reasonable definition of ‘free,’ but the United States now has much more in common with such regimes than anyone may like to admit.[…]

An authoritarian nation is defined not just by the use of authoritarian powers, but by the ability to use them. If a president can take away your freedom or your life on his own authority, all rights become little more than a discretionary grant subject to executive will.”

Jonathan Turley, “10 reasons the U.S. is no longer the land of the free”

Posted by Brad @ 10:54 am on January 16th 2012

Huntsman Out

That’s the report from this weekend, that he’s dropping out and endorsing Mitt Romney.

Kind of a curious move, timing-wise, as it was, for the first time, starting to look like he was getting a serious look (and just got a key SC endorsement) and might in fact be the last non-Ron Paul non-Romney standing. But my guess is that his team looked at it, and decided that this was the highest note they were likely to have the opportunity to go out on, leaving the race at least not looking like a loser and maybe getting some party brownie points for being the first to consolidate behind the nominee, besides.

All of which strongly suspects Huntsman is angling for something, be it a job in the Romney administration, or, short of that, being positioned for 2016.

Posted by Brad @ 2:16 pm on January 13th 2012

New York Times Casually Asks: “So, should we start telling you if something we report is false? Is that something you guys would be into?”

A rather incredible question, asked completely honestly and earnestly and with no real sense of how far down the toilet mainstream journalism in this country has gone.

Oh, and I say “asked completely honestly and earnestly,” but I should point out that the public editor is not actually saying they might start doing this – he’s more engaging in the intellectual exercise.

Hey, kudos to the editor for at least having the balls to point out that, as a rule, they don’t currently – they merely transcribe what public figures tell them without comment. Still, I can’t think of a better finger-on-the-dying-pulse-of-American-journalism.

Posted by Rojas @ 10:32 am on January 13th 2012

Image of the day

Posted by Rojas @ 9:26 pm on January 11th 2012

The overwhelmingly obvious Republican VP choice…

…is Senator Rand Paul.

At a stroke, Romney ensures the full support of the Paulites, who would otherwise overwhelmingly defect to Gary Johnson in November; indeed, he likely cements them to the Republican Party for a generation. He brings any possibility of a third-party campaign by Ron Paul to a screeching, immediate halt, and resolves any possible convention dispute by giving Ron Paul a Thursday night speech in which he introduces his son–a platform on which Ron will promote the ticket rather than his own pet causes. He enhances his candidacy in an otherwise loseable state and region and bucks up otherwise questionable support among independent libertarian centrists AND tea partiers.

Meanwhile, he adds to the ticket a candidate with much of the appeal of Ron Paul but none of the baggage, racist or otherwise. Rand Paul is a critic of defense spending but otherwise very much on the wagon with the party on foreign policy. On domestic policy his views on the drug war might be fractious but his credentials on federal spending and against Obamacare are unmatched.

Finally, if the ticket wins, the vacated Kentucky Senate seat is very winnable for the GOP.

What’s not to like?

Posted by Brad @ 3:30 pm on January 11th 2012

Happy Ten Year Anniversay of Guantanamo Bay

To celebrate, you owe it to yourselves to read these two op-eds from actual Gitmo detainees.

My Guantanamo Nightmare
Notes from a Guantanamo Survivor

And, in doing so, note two things:

1. These two stories are hardly exceptions: indeed, they are probably closer to the norm than the popular image of 24-style terrorist mastermind or AK-47 wielding guerrilla fight attacking American soldiers. Remember, since 10 years ago today, more than 80% of these “worst of the worst” detainees to have gone to Gitmo were eventually released or deported without charge, even in the tribunal system weighted laughably in the government’s favor. Scott Horton’s (very good) Gitmo-anniversary post reiterates this point, that the political realm is plainly, falsifiably lying to you on this matter, and has since the beginning.

The second underreported lesson of Gitmo relates to the poisonous effect of partisan politics. No one expected matters as deeply felt as 9/11 to remain entirely outside of partisan politics, but the idea of Gitmo was cast soon after the attack, amid a political campaign. Republicans made it an issue in the midterm elections of 2002, marketing it as a “robust” or “proactive” approach to defending the nation against terrorists. The message worked marvelously, scoring enormous gains for the G.O.P.

Unknown to most Americans, though, just before the fall vote, representatives of the CIA and FBI went to the White House to break the bad news: Gitmo had been filled not with dangerous Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders, but with a bunch of nobodies. Political considerations plainly dictated the response. The government would not review the prisoners’ cases or grant releases, we were told; instead, “the president has determined that they are all enemy combatants.” Not only did this approach deny facts later borne out in case reviews and habeas petitions, it aggressively demonized the Gitmo population in order to create a sort of political insurance policy.

The Bush Administration’s shameful response continues to distort the domestic political dialogue about Guantánamo, which amounts to an extended effort to avoid accountability for a series of stupid political mistakes.

2. And, remind yourself, that these guys were, in a way, lucky. Had they received the same level of “guilty until proven” innocence consideration that, in the early days of the war, got you dropped into the black hole detainment system, today are just as likely to get you bombed by killer sky robots (you, and whoever happens to be around you at the time like your family or neighbors) , or otherwise assassinated. Or, you know, still dropped into the black hole detainment system, because it’s not like that possibility has been foreclosed on.

Glenn Greenwald has more.

Posted by Brad @ 10:07 am on January 11th 2012

Meanwhile, in Iran

A series of random, unconnected, and spontaneous murders keep blowing up Iranian nuclear scientists and university professors. It’s the damndest thing.

Posted by Brad @ 9:39 pm on January 10th 2012

New Hampshire Results Thread

And, before I even put it up, the race is called:

1. Romney
2. Paul
3. Huntsman

Kind of amazed it was this quick a call – not only for Romney, but for second and third.

Posted by Brad @ 1:30 pm on January 10th 2012

Music Video of the Week

There is of course a reason I’m posting this particular song after this weekend (you’ll have to figure it out on your own), but Calexico is one of those bands that is just consistently, voluminously great. You could score an entire T.V. show with their catalogue.

Calexico – Crystal Frontier

Posted by Brad @ 10:30 am on January 10th 2012

The Libertarian Kennedys

I will point out that I’ve been saying this for a year. Salon runs an article called “Ron Paul’s Long Game“, which lays out a premise identical to mine in the post “Why Ron’s Running” Essentially, that the number one animating principal, at least to start, as to why Ron Paul is in this race is to keep the torch burning long enough to hand it off to his son in 2016 and 2020. I think that’s been fairly obvious to people closely watching his campaign and the people around it for some time now.

I guess I never gave my own qualitative judgement of that. The short version is, I foresee problems with Rand (in a weird way, he doesn’t have the guile-less form of guile that in some manner shields his father, and he has a tendency to try to be over-philosophical and runs into the problem of thinking himself smarter than he sometimes is, whereas is father usually starts from a place of aw-shucks humility which suits the message much better), I see problems with the Paul inner circle (more than half of whom hold positions in both Rand and Ron’s offices, btw, and who can be vindictive, short-sighted sonsofbitches when they feel cornered, which is often), and I wish that more effort would be made to turn this from a nepotistic dynasty to an ideological one (at some points, the endorsement/CFL game looks dangerously close to cult-building). But, I’d be lying if I said I’m not jazzed by the prospect of a true libertarian wing of the party not only emerging (I think it has emerged, see: Pauls, Tea Party), but really establishing itself as a long term presence. And I’m not sure that anything LESS than the kind of play the Pauls are running (injecting water into the cracks of the party machine concrete; freezing it and letting it open up space) works. Perfect really has been the enemy of the good for libertarianism in this country. The Pauls sure ain’t perfect. But they’re damn good.

Posted by Brad @ 7:31 pm on January 9th 2012

Git Yer New Hampshire On!

Predictions!

Mitt Romney 31
Ron Paul 22
Jon Huntsman 19
Newt Gingrich 9
Rick Santorum 8

Sort of playing it safe on my part, save I think Huntsman and Paul actually battle it out fairly closely for 2nd place, with Paul barely outperforming polls but Huntsman doing so significantly, and Gingrich bests Santorum.

Ron Paul is roundly ignored despite proving he’s more viable than any Romney challenger. Headline going out: “Huntsman!”

Posted by Rojas @ 10:31 pm on January 7th 2012

We’re all gonna die

The first cases of totally drug resistant tuberculosis–strains immune to treatment by all first- and second-line pharmaceuticals–emerge in India.

Posted by Brad @ 2:30 am on January 7th 2012

Music Video of the Week

Not to be confused with that dude from Weird Soda Review doing a song about the stripey menace.

Patrick & Eugene – The Birds and the Bees

(more…)

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