Grifters Gonna Grift


Thank God there's a place where racists can give money to George Zimmerman and feel more secure about their donation.

Anyone who gives Zimmerman money at this point is probably not going to be convinced of anything when and if he's convicted in a court of law. Might as well tap that gravy train now, right?

Look How Tough They Are

In case you're wondering, no. There's no reason to expect anyone leading the Republican Party right now to be "reasonable."

There's a darned good reason to expect more of the same self-serving garbage you see quoted above. That's why you can read a sentence like this:
He wasn’t trying to embarrass Geithner, McConnell says, only responding candidly to his one-sided plan, explicit on tax increases, vague on spending cuts.
And have a good laugh yourself at the idea that McConnell's delivery of this story to Fred Barnes is honest and forthright statesmanship. It's not; it is patently destructive, obstructionist to the core, and places the political goals of the Republican Party well ahead of dealing openly and honestly with the issues that the American people are being forced to deal with. The only reason why anyone would tell Barnes anything is to get him to spread around garbage and lies. He's never been your go-to guy for anything other than trash.

McConnell wants to be seen as laughing at Secretary Geithner so that he can establish himself as the leader of the Republican Party. It is true--he and Speaker Boehner are the de facto leaders of the party and there's absolutely no chance that either one of them will ever run for president. They have no national constituency and nothing in their politics suggests an ability to lead the way past leaders have done. These are not reasonable individuals. They are more comfortable burning down the house rather than living in it.

Why anyone is going to tie themselves up in knots trying to visit with these people is beyond me. They won't make a deal until the phone banks are melting and when their weaker counterparts are being hounded like wanted men and women. We will not have a deal until they fully wreck the dealmaking process.

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich says that Republicans in the Congress should stop talking to the White House. If that's not an indication of which path is the craziest (Gingrich always chose crazy over practical when it mattered) then, by all means, stop talking for a while.

At the very moment when McConnell and Boehner are desperate for a deal, step on their feet and make them give up twice as much as they are afraid they're going to lose. Beat them politically, and let them deal with their own purity trolls.

What Did Gerard Depardieu Do?


At this point, it's only news if Gerard Depardieu is seen, out and about, sober and in full compliance with local laws.

Everyone Loves an Amateur


I like where Mark Baker is going here--there aren't any novices anymore, and if they are, they are unprofessional hacks who are hiding behind something.

The Internet has evolved quickly, and so has technology. Anyone claiming to be a novice simply hasn't professionalized themselves and should be avoided. But, having said that, there will always be an infatuation with amateurism and with deconstruction, whether it is in music or art and even in business. Someone will come along, do what seems to be wrong, and they will be rewarded by a marketplace that wants something fresh to fixate on and complain about.

Amateurism in technical writing? Absolutely. People want things "dumbed down" and broken up into bite-sized bits of easy to digest nonsense. There will always be a demand for things to be delivered in this way; you can see it in the new Windows 8 interface, which tries to use tiles to represent things that people used to have to read.

If we switch to tiles on everything, and pictograms, then how does that affect technical writers who still have to present complex ideas in a clear and concise way? Well, it affects them because people will always accept amateurism, and that's never going to go away.

The Brilliant Moon


This is an image by Andrew Wall, capturing today's penumbral eclipse.

I saw the moon this evening, and it appeared to be very bright; hence the reason why the eclipse was only really visible to people who are between Japan and Australia, roughly.

One of the things that is not lost in this digital age is the impact that the moon has on us. It is the most analog thing imaginable, and nobody can ruin it.

Can You Sue the Department of Defense?


No area of American society is being asked to modernize and change as much as the Department of Defense. You could argue otherwise, but the defense sector in this country looks radically different than it did a decade ago, and in the span of a generation, it has transformed itself completely.

I would hasten to add that the military is changing to reflect American society. Plenty of people might be draped across the fainting couch right now over the transformative changes that have taken place, but, really, that's a bunch of nonsense. No area of American society is more ready for change than the military. Long before American society caught up on racial matters, the military was already charging ahead.

And that really is what's at play here. We are finally catching up to the integration of the armed forces back in the days of Harry S. Truman. Why weren't we already here a long time ago?

My first reaction to this story was, "can you sue the DoD?"

I thought that you pretty much could not. We'll see where this goes. America will follow, but not right away (although this is a pretty military-specific issue since women can already serve as firefighters and police officers).

Shocked to Discover Corruption in the Former Soviet Union?


Uzbekistan and Gulnara Karimova are not household names anywhere in the free world, but this is a big deal in the republics of the former Soviet Union.

Pay to play, and bribes especially, are still the currency of business.

There is a long, proud history of shaking down telecom providers in exchange for the right to fleece consumers who are desperate for any kind of telecommunications service in places like Uzbekistan. And as difficult as it is to believe this, people would prefer to be ripped off by a Swedish company than a state-owned company, even if it's a Karimova who is walking away with the loot.

Of Course This Means War


For John McCain, the world is a nail and he's the man holding the hammer of war.

These comments are fairly tame, yes, but behind them lies the continuing puzzlement I have with why this man appears on television virtually every Sunday and "makes news" by making statements no one listens to and advocates a course of action no one in either party will ever follow.

John McCain is the most irrelevant Senator in the Senate, and that says something since he has so much seniority. Do you want to know who has a great deal more power in the Senate right now? Start with Senator Patty Murray and continue until you get down to the people who haven't even been sworn in yet. Those people have far more power and influence in the Senate right now.

It's nice to see McCain condemning what is happening in Egypt. Where were these people when President Bush was making nice with the Muslim Brotherhood and interfering in Egypt's internal struggle to get rid of Mubarak long before the Arab Spring? Were they playing war games in Iraq or were they serious about foreign policy?

The Last Mention Ever of Chevy Chase?

Is this really the last time I have to write about Chevy Chase? I hope so.

And is he really going to go away for good this time? I hope so as well.

And how sad is it to note that I'm going to be wrong on this because, of course, someone will give him another job and someone will forget what a pain in the ass he really is.

Larry Hagman


There are a lot of people paying tribute to the late Larry Hagman, but this article gets into his charitable work and what he meant to the communities in which he lived and worked.

What better way to remember the man?

Notre Dame is Back in a Big Way



Who saw this coming? Except for the fans of Notre Dame and the people who thought they had a shot this year?

The comeback of the Notre Dame football program is something special. Now, if they can win it all--wow.

That would be the story of the year to bury that whole Penn State nightmare.

The Wrong Kind of Need, Fulfilled


This story feeds into the idea that everyone has to have a college degree in order to be a part of the emerging economy. The fact of the matter is, not everyone needs a degree, but a lot of people need more skills than they already have.

College degrees don't come with skills; they come with the ability
to get skills in some cases or, in many other cases, they come with a validation stamp that says "this person can be educated further."

The problem is, we are short of manufacturing job skills and I'm not sure which degree program listed above is really going to fix that problem. The people who get college degrees nowadays are usually women, and they are usually not interested in manufacturing positions. There are exceptions, but, by and large, they're graduating with degrees in business or psychology and are not looking for factory jobs.

We initiated a mindset several generations ago that linked factory work with failure and doom, and now we're paying the price for that.

Texas should focus on training people for jobs that actually exist in Texas instead of trying to ram more college graduates into an economy that needs something else.

Another Classic Bit of Hypocrisy

This is not going to shock you.

John Hinderaker is a hypocrite. Again. In print. And without any shame whatsoever.

Yes, in the aftermath of the Obama Landslide, the wingnuts are flailing around, looking for something that they can hang their hat on.

The problem is, you can't read this without laughing at the idea that, somehow,
President Obama is to blame for everything happening in Egypt right now.


It's a good thing no one ever mentions Libya, and Gadafi, and how President Bush enabled a mad dictator to enter his twilight years harboring convicted terrorists and killing his people with mercenaries. And it's a good think no one ever mentions this: 
What has largely gone undiscussed, however, is that the United States faced a very similar dilemma in Egypt once before.
Back in 2005, the Bush administration had to make more or less the same calculation. It’s worth revisiting that episode now, if only because it illustrates how difficult a time America has had arriving at an Egypt policy that is coherent, wise, and principled. 
In his second inaugural address in January 2005, President Bush declared that America would no longer “tolerate oppression for the sake of stability.” Mubarak responded nine days later by charging the country’s leading opposition figure, Ayman Nour, with forgery. But, at least initially, the Bush administration did not blink. On June 30, Condoleezza Rice traveled to the American University in Cairo and delivered a speech outlining Bush’s freedom agenda. “The Egyptian Government must fulfill the promise it has made to its people—and to the entire world—by giving its citizens the freedom to choose,” she said. “Egypt’s elections, including the parliamentary elections, must meet objective standards that define every free election.” 
A few months later, in September, Mubarak waltzed to victory over Nour in a sham presidential election. But everyone had known, and accepted, that the presidential election was going to be a sham. Instead, it was the parliamentary elections, scheduled for November, that both Egyptian reformers and American democracy promoters pinned their hopes to. Because these elections would not result in Mubarak’s ouster, they offered a low-risk way for Egypt to begin to cultivate a civil and competitive politics.

During the run-up to these elections, Egypt’s constellation of opposition parties took the promise that had been made by the United States seriously—and a culture of democratic politics began to develop where none had existed before. I lived in Cairo in 2005 and 2006 and attended political rallies where socialists, Islamists, and more democratic reformers distributed leaflets and gave speeches. Even the Muslim Brotherhood, not exactly a pro-western organization, was grateful to America. “When Secretary Rice delivered her speech saying it was for too long they have been helping dictators, well, that was a good thing,” Mohammed Habib, the organization’s political director, told me at the time. “This recognition was good for us.” Not surprisingly, the Brotherhood fared well once the voting got underway.
Consistency would make the poor Hindrocket explode.

All the Broken-hearted Fan Boys Just Had a Swoon

You have probably already seen the meager coverage of the resignation of David Petraeus, and I really cannot add much to it, other than to laugh at the fanboys who are, no doubt, howling in doubled-over rage.

I have long suspected that Petraeus was a very good candidate for the presidency, and that he was bought off with the Director of Central Intelligence position to some degree. Given his moral authority,
which was extremely high, there's no question that he was a feared individual in terms of how he might have been viewed as a candidate in the Republican Party. This is because there are few, if any, viable veterans who have actually worn stars and been perceived as successful. Contrast the service of Petraeus with Mitt Romney (who hid from the Vietnam War in France) and you can well imagine what 2016 would have looked like.

Fanboy James Joyner occupies a special place in my heart today. No one is having more of a sad than him as we speak.

Joyner has gone so far as to deny reality, claiming that the failure of American policy in Iraq and Afghanistan was certainly not the fault of Petraeus. Except for the fact that both wars were decided largely because Petraeus had us backing the now-dead flogging horse called COIN, that's an admirable intellectual position to take. But there was no conspiracy, no reason to believe so, unless we're going to start believing in nonsense. The conservative media in this country just spent a good year and a half peddling nonsense and nobody's buying that anymore.

As to the prosecution of the wars in which he served as a General, Petraeus made all of the decisions at his level, and used his moral authority to stampede the civilian leadership into following his push for surges in Iraq and Afghanistan. His tenure in the early part of the Iraq war, where he was responsible for the training of Iraqi police forces was marked by procurement problems and ethical problems carried out by his subordinates. He escaped accountability everywhere, and always moved up the ladder. He was enabled largely by the incompetent foreign policy hacks in the United States Senate, notably the McCain-Lieberman-Graham axis of dumb that served as his firewall for many years.

If there was any justice, McCain and Graham would quit as well, if only because there is no one left to believe in when your idol has fallen. This man, David Petraeus, was idolized like few other generals in the modern era and now he has revealed himself to be a hypocrite who couldn't keep it in his pants. The fanboys from the war blogs have now seen the sunset on their belief that only one man in America knew how to fight a war, and now they are crying and despondent. The COIN mafia should be broken up; there are numerous general officers in the United States Army who owe their careers to Petraeus. Are they still adherents to the COIN mentality? Hopefully, they'll find new avenues of interest because America isn't going to fight another COIN war again in a long, long time.

Good riddance.

It's Over


John Podhoretz is a Symbol of Failure


How did I land on Commentary? Why did I bother reading John Podhoretz this evening? I want that five minutes back.

In any event, this is what wingnut failure looks like. You have the scion of the Podhoretz family, blogging like a demented madman who thinks he has found a scoop (pollsters alter the weighting behind their polls all the time because of questions about sampling, this is nothing new) and now he's forced to display his intellectual goods next to a delightful young model wearing an "I Pooped Today" t-shirt.

Commentary is so desperate for ad money that they jam an ad right in the middle of the page like an accusatory finger, shouting, click me! click me! and then, ugh.

I mean, just, ugh.

American conservatism seems to hates science, seems to delight in hating information and knowledge, definitely does want to start wars all over the world, and can't even put up a decent website.

Here it is Election Day, and their fraud is hanging out all over the place, ready to be laughed at. And I guess I did laugh, so, perhaps I won't get those five minutes back.

A Disenfranchised Country is Not Free


The disenfranchisement of millions of Americans has been the great lost story of this election cycle. The news has covered it sparingly. Were it not for bloggers, few people would know about the underhanded tactics being used by Republicans all over America.

We're not just talking about Ohio or Florida. We're talking about voter ID laws, Tea Party wingnuts who are going to be challenging voters tomorrow, and even the State of Arizona printing the date for election day in Spanish as being November 7.

If the election is stolen, it will mean there are people living in this country who have been fooled into thinking their vote counts, that democracy matters, and that we are a free people.

Is This Happening?


Holy cow. Is this happening?

In a day or so, we'll know what the future is going to look like.

If the Republicans steal this election, and put the model used by Nate Silver to shame, and prove everyone wrong by virtue of their skillful theft, well, hold on for a bumpy ride. And I don't think there's anyone who doesn't realize that, yep, they have been trying to steal it for months and months--years and years--and they are going to try to steal the election tomorrow.

By steal it, I mean by disenfranchisement. And if you disenfranchise one voter, you violate a principle of democracy that we should be trying to uphold in these times. We should be elevating the rights of voters to a level not seen before in human history. We should have a comprehensive Federal standard for registering to vote and then voting for the candidate of a person's choice. We should have a standard that lights the way for all other democracies.

We don't have that now. We may never have it. But we should have it.

Tomorrow will prove that.

A Matter of Decorum


Apparently, there are rules about press boxes. I wish I could think of another example of something like this, but it sounds like an isolated incident.

Then again, if Bobby Hebert knew the rules, and then broke the rules, doesn't it make throwing him out of the press box just another ridiculous exercise in self-importance?

Michael Palin's Brazil


The next interesting thing from Michael Palin? Brazil:
The series was his idea. “I really hadn’t planned to do any more journeys, but Brazil auditioned itself very well. The economy is growing fast, the World Cup is there in 2014 and the real clincher was the Olympics in 2016. It meant that a country that had never had much attention from this side of the Atlantic was in the spotlight. So we applied to the BBC for a budget.” 
Even for a man with his track record, however, there was no instant green light. “It wasn’t a given at all. I rather hoped it might be. But there are new people at the BBC, with new policies.” Still, he got the go-ahead and set off, he says, with the same spring in his step with which he embarked on his first travelogue, Around The World in 80 Days, in 1989. One thing that amazed him was the sheer size of the country: Brazil is twice as big as India. “And the distance from the Amazon to the south is like from here to Nigeria or something. We wound up telling Brazilians what other parts of their own country were like.”

In the next decade, Brazil will appear on the world stage in more than just those two ways. Aside from the World Cup and the Olympics, people are going to have to start asking serious questions about this nation, which is growing in both size and influence. In all of Latin America, is there any nation more important than Brazil?

Turtles


I'm not sure why we went all the way to the National Zoo to see turtles. If you are careful and reasonably cautious, you can see turtles almost anywhere that happens to feature water and an absence of predators.

A good time was had by all. The National Zoo is a fantastic place. I cannot believe that this was the first time I had even been there. It compares favorably to the Wilhelma Zoo in Stuttgart, by the way (there, they have giraffes but no pandas).

Now You Tell Me


This is one of the ads that is running on one of the blogs today. How revolting.

Unfortunately, I cannot click the ad that appears on my own blog because of the rules which govern putting ads on my sites. But, if I could, I'd click on this and go read how ridiculous it is.

The idea that we should fear "homosexual" marriage is asinine and ridiculous. We should fear absolutely nothing with regards to marriage, other than being invited to a wedding a long way aways where the people getting married are only registered at Williams Sonoma (oh, that place is expensive, let me tell you) or Restoration Hardware (which closed near here because it was even more outrageously expensive).

The world is not going to end if gay people get to marry. Far from it. American society will improve dramatically, people will have less to complain about, and maybe--just maybe--more foster kids will end up in better places with families who want them.

I am all for allowing gay people to adopt and raise foster children. We need so much more of that, not less of it. So, no. Don't try to change my mind on that. Because your data on that is nonexistent. Your information and data about how gay people are somehow going to destroy America by getting married? It doesn't exist.

How can you be against something we haven't even tried yet? And how can something that hasn't happened yet contribute to the collapse of a country that was going to hell in a handbasket long before it was even remotely possible for gay people to get married?

A Gray Wolf at the National Zoo


A high-resolution shot of a gray wolf at the National Zoo in Washington D.C.

This fellow has a cellmate, or habitat-mate, or cagemate who is a white wolf. I'm not sure whose idea it was to put two different wolves together, but how can that ever be a good idea? You have two wolves, they don't look alike, and they're in the same enclosed area, not much bigger than a backyard in a suburban neighborhood?

I don't want to tell wolf people how to do things, but, damn. That's asking for trouble. This wolf is staring at the people outside of the fence, dreaming of snacks. If I could replicate this look, people would avoid me in public even more so than they do now.

Another Classic From the Hindrocket

Powerline's John Hinderaker, also known as the Hindrocket, goes all-in with his effusive praise of what should really only elicit a tittering of meager laughs. Mozart, Rembrandt, the Beatles, and an editorial cartoon about next-to-nothing that only die-hard crazies from the right-wing of this country care about? Whoa, Nelly.

Mr. Ramirez can certainly draw, but who is fired up about "red ink" when it is clear that deregulation led us to the ruin of the economy and when it is safe to say that the President's response to Hurricane Sandy has taken the Republicans and thrown them off their game?

Does the name Chris Christie mean anything to y'all?

Congratulations on Ruining Another Show, NBC


As much as I like Community, I'm just not waiting around for it. I may check it out at some point, but, I suspect that for a lot of people, the show ended when Dan Harmon was fired.

This is the new business of television. Do you like that show? You'd better be ready to have it torn to pieces before your eyes. Do you have strong, loyal feelings for the creative output of others? Too bad. In order to wring a few extra pennies from it, the powers that be will do whatever possible to ruin that show you believe in so as to make absolutely certain that someone who never watches television will continue to ignore what you like.

In a few years, will there even be any shows? Why would anyone watch what they're putting on the remaining television networks anyway? The real television is being made on pay cable.