Friday, January 29, 2010

Read This Now - SCOTUS Double Take

Jeffery Toobin's take on the SOTU Alito kerfuffle is also worth a read, he points out that the Justices are indeed political actors and that it's best that we, the public, realize this and come to grips with it...

And now everyone knows it. And for that reason, then, I don’t begrudge Alito his grimace. He was just being honest. Alito’s role in that room—and his place at the Court—is no different from that of the Republican members of Congress; both are dedicated political adversaries of the President. The camera—and the Justice—didn’t lie.
He also touches on the history between the President and Alito, suffice it to say there isn't any love lost here.


If you haven't had the chance yet you should really see the Daily Show's coverage of the SOTU...

The whole episode is great, Wyatt Cenac continues to get better and better, and Doris Kearns Goodwin stops by.

An aside; Comedy Central's embed codes are crap that rarely work, Hulu on the other hand does quite well.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Read This Now - The State Of The Court

I was multi-tasking last night so I missed Justice Alito's response to President Obama's condemnation of the recent SCOTUS ruling on Citizens United, and frankly I don't really want to get into it. Doing so would just be yet another distraction from the hard work of governing that our currently elected representatives are having so much trouble with of late.

That said Glenn Greenwald has an interesting piece up on the increasing politicization of the Court and the resulting decline in the Court's credibility...

It was clear from Sam Alito's confirmation hearing and his record of appellate opinions that he is a dogmatic, state-revering, right-wing judge. But last night, he unmasked himself as a politicized and intemperate Republican as well. Much of the public will view his future "judicial" and "legal" conclusions -- and those of his fellow Court members -- with an even greater degree of cynicism. And justifiably so. Whatever impulses led him to behave that way last night, they have nothing to do with sober judicial reasoning or apolitical restraint.
It's a pretty short piece and full of interesting links, so go have a look.

See also the NYT editorial board's take on Citizens United.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Flash Of Sanity

Finally something from the political realm that makes me hold on to the slim hope that all is not lost in this world, or at least in the US.

Voters in Oregon overwhelmingly voted to increase taxes on corporations and the rich in order to shore up budget shortfalls that would have adversely impacted, among other things, the public school system.

On Anger

I think that Greg Sargent is right on the money with this take on liberal outrage...

Obama is one of the most gifted public communicators in decades. His campaign was premised on the idea that liberals needn’t shy away from arguments with the right or cede them any rhetorical turf. For this reason, each time Obama does cede rhetorical ground on this or that issue, liberals see Obama engaging in a larger capitulation. He seems to be giving up on his own potential for persuasion.
Throw in some polling from Democratic held congressional swing districts that overwhelmingly show voters upset with Obama's, and Democrats generally, failure to deliver change and you've pretty much got it boiled down.

An historic opportunity to make change has been all but lost at this point, and it was squandered by an Administration that was unwilling to throw it's weight around and that has been missing in action since the going got tough. True the intractability of the Senate and the debacle that is a 60 vote requirement to govern are also to blame.

But to not fight, to not go out and even try to win the argument, and then to say fine forget it we'll just freeze spending instead is not only disheartening and idiotic, it's shameful.

I'm taking the sticker off my car today, this is no longer an Administration that I believe in.


You may have guessed that I am not at all amused or happy with the state of our union, much less the state of our government or the performance to date of the Obama Administration.

I haven't decided yet whether I'll watch the speech tonight, given that the biggest new proposal is scheduled to be the titanically disastrous spending freeze I tend to agree with Krugman that the SOTU is just going to be too depressing.

If you need more on the freeze, DeLong has a good rundown of the haterade pouring forth from both sides of the aisle. I'll also let Krugman handle the evisceration from my point of view...

A spending freeze? That’s the brilliant response of the Obama team to their first serious political setback?

It’s appalling on every level.

It’s bad economics, depressing demand when the economy is still suffering from mass unemployment. Jonathan Zasloff writes that Obama seems to have decided to fire Tim Geithner and replace him with “the rotting corpse of Andrew Mellon” (Mellon was Herbert Hoover’s Treasury Secretary, who according to Hoover told him to “liquidate the workers, liquidate the farmers, purge the rottenness”.)

It’s bad long-run fiscal policy, shifting attention away from the essential need to reform health care and focusing on small change instead.

And it’s a betrayal of everything Obama’s supporters thought they were working for. Just like that, Obama has embraced and validated the Republican world-view — and more specifically, he has embraced the policy ideas of the man he defeated in 2008. A correspondent writes, “I feel like an idiot for supporting this guy.”

Now, I still cling to a fantasy: maybe, just possibly, Obama is going to tie his spending freeze to something that would actually help the economy, like an employment tax credit. (No, trivial tax breaks don’t count). There has, however, been no hint of anything like that in the reports so far. Right now, this looks like pure disaster.

I suppose there is a glimmer of merit to the argument that we should wait and see what Obama has to say, but unless he unleashes some stealth speech that pivots radically away from the past couple of weeks moves it isn't going to cut it with me.

Steve Pearlstein does give a pretty nice version of a speech you're likely to never get to hear though.

The best argument for watching tonight is that this is without a doubt the most important speech that Obama has made thus far and it's likely to be one of, if not the, most important one he ever gives. It's a shame that he appears poised to blow it.

Monday, January 25, 2010

That's Not Bucky

Alternately titled Bucky vs The Weasel It Ain't. Check this out...

(via EK)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Team CoCo

I can't say that I've watched any late night tv in quite a while now. I've always been a Conan fan though and I could have told you (as could many folks but apparently no one in the NBC boardroom) that Leno at 10 was a terrible idea.

I have been entertained by the two week long train wreck that has been NBC coverage and programing. Mary Elizabeth Williams has a great wrap up on Salon that's worth a look whether you've been paying attention to this nonsense or not.

It seems like Conan spent the past six months or so trying to give us that extra cowbell he thinks we deserve, you should at least watch him say goodbye...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Read This Now - A Perversion Of Democracy

If you ask me the Supreme Court's Citizen's United ruling this week is much worse than Coakley managing to run such a bad campaign that a Republican has succeeded Teddy Kennedy.

I was preparing a screed of my own but the NYT editorial board nailed this one on Friday, never before have I seen such an eloquent and damning take down of the nation's highest court. Be sure to read the whole thing...

In dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens warned that the ruling not only threatens democracy but “will, I fear, do damage to this institution.” History is, indeed, likely to look harshly not only on the decision but the court that delivered it. The Citizens United ruling is likely to be viewed as a shameful bookend to Bush v. Gore. With one 5-to-4 decision, the court’s conservative majority stopped valid votes from being counted to ensure the election of a conservative president. Now a similar conservative majority has distorted the political system to ensure that Republican candidates will be at an enormous advantage in future elections.

As was pointed out somewhere out there on the internets this week, it is a shocking indictment of the state of American democracy that popularly elected leaders in both the executive and legislative branches have been hamstrung in their efforts to legislate and govern because they lack a super-duper-majority in the Senate. While in the judiciary, the branch of our government with the least oversight or responsibility to voters, a bare majority can effective demolish democracy in single vicious swoops.

For Shame.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Far Freaking Out Man

CNN has the lastest high tech video craziness to hit the web, a 360 degree video that lets you pan the view around while the video plays. It's fairly wild.

The video itself is a walk through what appears to be a park / square in PAP Haiti.

You can zoom in as well, although it won't let you loop the loop over the top (you bet I tried). It's also fun to pan around and check out the shadow of the guy wearing the contraption to try and get an idea of what the video rig looks like.

(via kottke)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Read This Now - 365 Little Days

It's been a busy week, so to speak, and frankly I'm pretty frustrated and pissed off. Instead of furiously venting I'm going to send you over to the New Yorker where many of their writers, including several of my favorites, are offering their takes on year one of the Obama Administration.

My quick verdict; A Popular President with a decisive win, huge (historic even) margins in both houses of congress, and yet nothing gets accomplished. Not only have the Democrats failed to deliver on any of their signature issues, Obama couldn't even get his nominee for the TSA confirmed even after the underpants bomber, have these people never heard of a recess appointment?

Epic Fail.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tick Tock

The Doomsday Clock has been moved back one minute; we now sit at six minutes to midnight.

Which is better than five minutes, but a far cry from the 17 minutes of the early nineties and the sigh of relief the world took in the optimistic days after the Cold War first ended. I still remember the t-shirts with the clock that were all over Takoma Park those days.

I also think that it is worth noting that the past two adjustments (2010 and 2007) have also mentioned climate change. Here is the latest Bulletin update:

2010: International cooperation rules the day. Talks between Washington and Moscow for a follow-on agreement to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty are nearly complete, and more negotiations for further reductions in the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenal are already planned. Additionally, Barack Obama becomes the first U.S. president to publicly call for a nuclear-weapon-free world. The dangers posed by climate change are still great, but there are pockets of progress. Most notably: At Copenhagen, the developing and industrialized countries agree to take responsibility for carbon emissions and to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists have the complete timeline of the Clock and other details and information on their website.

(via TP)


There is a new website up as well called turn back the clock, which might be worth a gander.

Read This Now - TSA, You Deserve A Gold Star

I feel so MUCH safer now that I know you've kept an 8 year old on one of your screening lists for the last 7 years and repeatedly subjected him to pat downs, frisking, and other 'enhanced' security before letting him on the plane with his mom. The NYT has the scoop...

“I understand the need for security,” she added. “But this is ridiculous. It’s quite clear that he is 8 years old, and while he may have terroristic tendencies at home, he does not have those on a plane.”
It's worth noting that the version of the article in the dead tree version of the NYT is a bit different and has a great line from Mikey's mom about how a guy can try to blow up his underwear on a plane but Mikey can't get on one without getting frisked. That version also has a great picture of Mikey at home on the porch.

Yet another great example of how our solution here in the US seems to be to throw technology at the security gap or issue but not think about the problem at any kind of useful or pertinent level.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Save The Planet One Bottle At A Time

We've been drinking a bit of Trinity Oaks wine of late. It's nothing fancy but it goes down pretty easy and is nice for the price (as the wine guy said it's a remarkably drinkable pinot for $6).

I definitely enjoy opening a new bottle as each cork comes out with the message that I just planted a tree, which is nice.

More info on the program at One Bottle One Tree, they're closing in on 2.5 million trees / bottles.

As Your Facebook Turns

Facebook just keeps growing and in the process becoming more important and harder to do without. For the most part they seem to do good things and to be fairly decently motivated.

The Rumpus has a neat interview with a fb employee from the end of this past summer, nothing that would be shocking if you're paying attention and a couple of cool bragging points, like translating the entire site into Farsi in 36 hours in the wake of the contested Iranian elections.

Have yourself a look, it's fun.

(via kottke)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

If A Tree Falls... know how this one goes.

A new video from Maya Lin asks just how loud those trees would be if they were in your hometown

Maya Lin - Unchopping a Tree from What is Missing? Foundation on Vimeo.

(via kottke)

Monday, January 11, 2010

No Man Misdeals With Joshua Quince

Just go already. Although I am a bit disappointed with Joshua Quince for The Jesus...

(via kottke)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The World Turned Upside Down

The first caller to today's Wait Wait Don't Tell Me is down in Antarctica, where it's currently about 40 degrees which is almost twice the temperature in Durham, NC this morning.

I don't know about you, but that strikes me as a bit troublesome. Especially when you throw in some weird changes in the Gulf Stream and other North Atlantic climate phenomena...
Hint; it isn't supposed to go up to Greenland like that, it should go across towards the British Isles.

The full post is up on Daily Kos, so take it with some grains of salt if you so choose.

(via BDL)

Friday, January 8, 2010

All Growns Up

Ezra Klein, who I send you to for all things health care related, and who has been doing a bunch of interesting work on the dysfunction of the Senate of late, was on The Colbert Report the other night...

So you were going to get to watch the video here, but as is often the case with Comedy Central's crappy coding the embed code is broken so you get nothing. As retaliation for CC's shoddy work I'm not providing a link either. Go google it if you want to see the clip.

He does a pretty good job, although he kind of gets displaced at the end.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Read This Now - Welcome To Corporate Duechebaggery H&M

I've always liked H&M, so I found this NYT article very disappointing. It will only take one line to give you the gist of the story...

It is winter. A third of the city is poor. And unworn clothing is being destroyed nightly.
The NYT deserves credit for running with the story, this is the kind of piece that helps show why we still need real newspapers.

(via kottke)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Insanity Is Good For The Kitchen

It may however require quite a bit of clean-up...

These two really do make a great pair, I can't even imagine how poorly Andres would mesh with Letterman or Leno or Conan...

(via EK)

Read This Now - The Last Stan

The Economist has a good piece up on Waziristan and it's history and importance today...

Despite their remoteness, these tribesmen have often had a hand in the fates of governments in Kabul, Delhi and elsewhere. In 1929 a British-backed Afghan, Nadir Shah, used an army of Wazirs to seize the Afghan throne. A force of Wazirs and Mehsuds was dispatched in 1947 to seize Kashmir for the newly formed Islamic republic, sparking the first Indo-Pakistan war. In the 1980s Pakistan, America and Saudi Arabia armed them to fight the Soviet army in Afghanistan. In 2001 thousands of Afghan Taliban and their al-Qaeda guests fled to Waziristan. They have resumed their jihad from across the border, this time against NATO troops—aided, Afghans say, by the ISI.
If you read this and said what's Waziristan, go read the article already.

(via the browser, which is getting a test run in the reader)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Read This Now - A Bridge Too Far?

Dick Cheney and his right wing lap-dogs in Congress may have finally gone too far in their political attacks on President Obama concerning his handling of US counter-terrorism efforts.

Why do I say this you ask? Because this is today's lead editorial in the Washington Post, which was a reliable cheerleader for Bush and Cheney's "war on terror"

Soft on terror? Not this president

THERE IS, it seems evident, more than enough blame to go around in the botched handling of the botched Christmas bombing. Not for some Republicans. With former vice president Richard B. Cheney in the lead, they have embarked on an ugly course to use the incident to inflict maximum political damage on President Obama. That's bad enough, but their scurrilous line of attack is even worse. The claim that the incident shows the president's fecklessness in the war on terror is unfounded -- no matter how often it is repeated.

(via TPL)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Read This Now - Didn't We Know That Already?

Stiglitz on the year past, our global economic woes and the lessons we seem to need to learn yet again...

The first lesson is that markets are not self-correcting. Indeed, without adequate regulation, they are prone to excess. In 2009, we again saw why Adam Smith's invisible hand often appeared invisible: it is not there...

The third lesson is that Keynesian policies do work. Countries, like Australia, that implemented large, well-designed stimulus programs early emerged from the crisis faster. Other countries succumbed to the old orthodoxy pushed by the financial wizards who got us into this mess in the first place.
The whole thing is well worth your time this weekend.

(via BDL)

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Pants Bomber

If you'd like a rundown on the Republican attacks on the President in the wake of the attempted pants bombing Rachel Maddow does a nice job in 10 minutes...

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

(via DK)

Then watch this primer on how Democrats might want to hit back...

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Definitely a bit disapointing (again) to watch the Dems sit around and miss this opportunity to hit back and expose just how ugly and frankly dis-interested in actual Americans the Republican party currently is.