Friday, February 28, 2014

Cheap shots and big spenders

They're baaaaack!

(1) Jason Greenslate, the San Diego scrap-metal guitarist (his band is called Rattlife) whom we last met in August being interviewed by Fox's John Roberts, apparently living high off the lobster on food stamps that he clearly didn't need, unless as seemed likely to me at [jump]

Of the faking of Brooks...

...there is no end.
Another Reynolds portrait of Johnson, wigless and somewhat younger (via Wikimedia).
David Brooks's sudden and startling jump into commentary on literary classics inexorably calls to mind the words of Dr. Samuel Johnson, in Rambler 28, on "The various arts of self-delusion":
There are men who always confound the praise of goodness with the practice, and who believe themselves mild and moderate, charitable and faithful, because they have exerted their eloquence in commendation of mildness, fidelity, and other virtues. This is an error almost universal [jump]

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Airborne elephant watch: Suck on what?

Image by Misty Vincent, Pictify.

Elephants may fly, and I really may have to forgive or otherwise learn to live with Thomas P. Friedman, describable today as Thomas L. Friedman, the Mystax Humilitatis, with his move in the following (my bold):
Today, Obama’s critics say he must do “something” about Syria. I get it. Chaos there can come around to bite us. If there is a policy that would fix Syria, or even just stop the killing there, in a way that was self-sustaining, at a cost we could tolerate and not detract from all the things we need to do at home to secure our own future, I’m for it.

But we should have learned some lessons from our recent experience in the Middle East: First, how little we understand about the social and political complexities of the countries there; second, that we can — at considerable cost — stop bad things [jump]

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Knuckleheads up

Over at Townhall, where there's a central stupidity-conditioning plant maintaining a constant level of stupidity at all times of day and night, someone called Charlie Kirk (Mme Tussaud model pictured above) is talking himself into some serious butthurt over comments by Michelle Obama on the Jimmy Fallon show:
Michelle Obama was asked about the challenge Obamacare faces in not attracting the requisite number of young enrollees. Her response was "A lot of young people think they're invincible, but the truth is young people are knuckleheads”. She went on to add that young people often cut themselves while cooking or injure themselves by dancing on bar stools.


Odessa, 1890-1900. A bad place for Tsarist troops. Photographium.
It's hard to imagine David Brooks confiding his secret thoughts to a diary, but if he did I'm sure it would show in particular the spectacle of a man hiding from himself: a resentful debate with everyone who's ever offended him, from literary critics to ex–significant others, covering up the cold-sweat terror that their disrespect might be justified. And if Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin kept a diary it would be the same kind of wounded, truculent response to the insults he won't publicly acknowledge, trying to prove not to them but to his own frightened heart what the heart knows is wrong.

But when Brooks tries to devise a secret Putin voice in one of those channeling columns, it's the jauntily confident voice of a DC Comics supervillain, and the views are Brooks's own:

Merkelwürdiges Gefühl im Kopf

"Das Internet ist für uns alle Neuland". Photo by Armin
Kübelbeck, via Konrad Werner.

Jon Queally at CommonDreams passing on some Greenwaldian goose bumps which may turn out to be a little more excited than the occasion calls for:
Perhaps one of the most striking and revelatory aspects about the latest NSA surveillance news story, this one published Sunday by The Bild am Sonntag newspaper in Germany, was that it was not based on leaked documents from the now famous NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
What the paper reported, based on information provided by a "high-ranking NSA employee in Germany," was that the U.S. spy agency—after being outed [jump]

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Switzerland doesn't have a minimum wage...

Start spreading the news... Via Da Mook.

Gary B. Smith of Fox News, via Crooks & Liars:
SMITH: I know Brenda and before people on the left say “My gosh, that heartless Gary Smith! How can you scrap the minimum wage?” I went around and searched to see if any other developed country scrapped the minimum wage. In fact, Switzerland has no minimum wage.

How wrong is Krauthammer?

Photo by Michael Temchine, New York Times.
Charles Krauthammer cited in the Daily Caller:
“The president pretends that this is all settled science,” he began. “Newton’s laws were considered settled for 200 years until a patent clerk [Albert Einstein] in Switzerland turned them over with a single paper in 1903 — and that was pretty settled science. The idea that this is all settled is absurd."
Thanks, Daily Caller, for identifying that mysterious patent clerk. (By the way, I really hate the way semi-sophisticates like Krauthammer love to refer to Einstein as "a patent clerk" as if any old civil servant might have come up with the theory of relativity, like Lana Turner [jump]

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Precious bodily fluids

Via League of Legends.
They're back!
Whaddaya know? The newest zombie scientific conspiracy theory ravaging our country is also one of the oldest, the very same one that took the John Birch Society to conspiracy-theory superstar status so many years ago! The fluoridation of our drinking water supply, [jump]

Friday, February 21, 2014

Somewhere, over the cost curve...

Shorter David Brooks, "Capitalism for the Masses", February 21 2014:
In my favorite opera, "The Barber of Barcelona", the wealthy young economist Count Brooks (no relation) must disguise himself as an impoverished hornist (with the orchestra of the Gran Teatre del Liceu) in order to gain access to the shuttered home of his enamorada. If this story were true, and who's to say it isn't, the Count might end up later in life as the head of a prestigious conservative think tank like the American Enterprise Institute, and what he'd be telling us all, I'm sure, is, "Don't follow your head, follow your heart. And stop arguing for capitalism on economic grounds, because in addition to all those ghastly formulas and tables it just doesn't make any sense. Instead, argue for capitalism on moral grounds: so what if it doesn't make us all rich, it's the right thing to do!"

And if you want some actual analysis of the silly thing, go check out Steve M., who nailed it much more cleanly than I would have done.

Cheap shots, homophones, and psittacidae

Via Wikipedia.
Curse you, Autocorrect!

And John McCain, Ted Nugent, National Review Fail of the Day and much much more—well, a bit more—below the fold:

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Broken eggs

Image via Rockying.
Anti–Tom Friedman writes:*
ANTAKYA--Here in the most famous Syrian city not actually in Syria, the coffee house wags are saying what Syria needs is Saddam Hussein. No, not in Syria, in Iraq.
Because while Westerners may like to think that the conflict in Syria is an outgrowth of the so-called Arab Spring and the hunger for democracy, [jump]

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

National Review Fail of the Day

National Review's "media blogger" Andrew Johnson, apparently unhinged by the increasing number of nice people running late-night talk shows but unwilling to turn his stupid television off as a normal person might do, was desperately watching someone called Jimmy Kimmel:
In perhaps the biggest sign of Obamacare’s lack of popularity, in the lead-in to the video, Kimmel asked his audience who had already enrolled in Obamacare, and no one raised his hand.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Fatted calves

Pastor Brooks here, delivering your Tuesday sermon on the familiar text of Luke 15:11-22, the tale of the Prodigal Son. As you'll recall, this was the younger of two sons whose father divvied out his estate for them in order to avoid the inheritance tax; the kid moved out and to another town and blew all the money on drugs and meaningless, loveless sex, whereupon he returned home looking for a handout.

The father saw him coming, ran out to greet him, embraced him, laughed and wept, and ordered up a huge feast, slaughtering a veal calf. When the older brother showed [jump]

Presidents' Day Specials

Cheesecake by Eli's of Chicago for the 2013 Inaugural.
In honor of Presidents' Day (which I always think of as Nixon's Birthday, since it was instituted during his reign, and is a generic and moveable feast like the birthday of the sovereign of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which has been celebrated on the first, second, [jump]

Monday, February 17, 2014

Out of the frying pan

Updated 2/18!

It's a totally National Review day! I've just spent hours of my afternoon at NRO arguing against the false assertion by Peter Kirsanow that the president's order to impose a $10.10/hr minimum wage on federal workers is unconstitutional. I must have left about fifteen or more comments all told and maintained at all times a decorous and respectful tone—well, respectful by my standards. Then I saw the reference to President Obama as a "chocolate hitler" (see screenshot) and did something I've never done before: flagged it as "inappropriate". (That's my downvote in red.)

So guess what happened?

Mississippi cheap shot

Ooh, and speaking of National Review headlines, I cannot contain my enthusiasm for this one, in praise of Chris McDaniel, Teahadi primary challenger of noted pork-delivery senator Thad Cochran, who promises to get rid of all those corrupt earmarks (without apparently noticing that Congress itself managed to get rid of them, at least sort of, in 2010):
Pulling Pork 
Senator Thad Cochran’s conservative opponent stresses fiscal restraint. 
Does that make McDaniel Real Wanker of the Day?


Looks like State Sen. McDaniel is a bit of a Nullificationist who draws support from racists, neo-Confederates, and even the Fascists of the Greek Golden Dawn party! H/t Anomaly100.

National Review Safer, Still Lying, and Less Read

Wesley J. Smith, in a self-portrait revealing how deeply he identifies with fetuses, to the point of believing he looks like one.
Texas Abortion Safer, Still Legal, and More Rare
That's the headline for the reproduction in National Review Online of a couple of paragraphs ripped from the Houston Chronicle noting the busting of a Houston women's health care clinic for performing abortions without admission privileges at any nearby hospital, in [jump]

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Fullers' soap

Revised for intelligibility 2/16/2014
Image by Cherie Goodpasture.
In the flush of excitement yesterday I missed noting that David Brooks had written yet another column, this one in his "Look what I just found in the Kindle" vein, on a new opus by Count Mikhail Georg'evič Ignat'ev, Fire to Ashes: How a Simple Nobleman Singlehandedly Destroyed an Entire Canadian Political Party (September 2013).

I really meant to let it go by—there's more to life than Brooks, you know—because I couldn't imagine how I could have any especially interesting opinions about Michael Ignatieff or Canadian politics, but then Driftglass happened by complaining about an angle of the column whose deep comedy had escaped me, his drawing a contrast between ideas of the pure-hearted, cozy refinement of the life academic and the frighteningly violent vulgarity of the life political, both taken entirely from fiction, as if Brooks had no personal experience of either:

The Ambassadors

Detail from Hans Holbein, The Ambassadors, 1533, copied by Jean de Dinteville and Georges de Selve.
From the Most Corrupt President Ever department:

You may have gotten an enjoyable giggle last week from Jon Stewart on some of the incompetents that President Obama has nominated to represent our country in the capitals of Hungary, Norway, and Argentina (among who knows how many others). But the reason we watch Stewart, you know, is that his comedy often provides a truer picture of what's happening than the Villagers do, and when you find him in agreement with the Washington TimesFox, and an extremely purse-lipped Washington Post, that could be a sign that he's missed his bus and jumped into a cab share with a dangerous crowd.

Every US president naming the hundreds of ambassadors and ambassadorial officials that lead American foreign policy implementation all around the world nominates a [jump]

Friday, February 14, 2014

Greenwald's literary errors

Santiaguito, Guatemala, 2005.

Bureaucrat Decries Unauthorized Disclosures that Make Him Look Bad

Or as Glenn Greenwald's copy editor at The Intercept, who I believe is Glenn Greenwald, put it,

Cheap shots and rift concepts: Happy Valentine's Day!

From the Heritage Foundation.
"Darling, I love you so much I've decided to get Cardinal Dolan to personally decide whether our health insurance is going to cover your birth control or not. It's like having Beyoncé perform for you while you clean the bathroom. You can have some chocolate next year."

And a Valentine bouquet of stupid below the fold!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The world is flex

Thomas P. Friedman, better known as Thomas L. Friedman, the Mystax Maleficarum, increasingly resembles one of those computers beloved in commercial science fiction that have achieved consciousness but are broken by cognitive dissonance—"Does not compute!" Having somehow managed to learn that Palestinian people are a distinct population of human beings who like the idea of having their own state but not that Binyamin Netanyahu could be mistaken about anything, he has tipped over from the usual psychotic, but interpretable pontification into literal senselessness, a verbal hornblende from which no actual metal can be extracted.
I’ve written a series of columns from Israel in the past two weeks

Credit where payments are due

Next time Mr. Bowles or Mr. Simpson or whoever else is humping that extremely dead horse is lecturing you about how the federal government has to learn to live within its means just like your family sitting around the dinner table deciding who gets to go to college and who has to stay home because obviously if there's only one pair of shoes in the house we can't all go out, can we?—next time, I say, instead of patiently explaining what a crappy analogy that is, why don't you just tell them that that's not how your family lives:

More than 70 percent of Americans have a credit card, and very few of us buy a house or a car without borrowing some money. Credit is so central to our lives that job applicants can expect to have theirs checked as a proxy for responsibility and trustworthiness. Life without credit is not only expensive; it’s also potentially ruinous.
Just saying.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Ozzie does it

This reminded me of the title of a song I'd never heard and I had to find it. It turns out to be a novelty number from maybe the early 1940s (can't find a better date) by Ozzie Nelson and his orchestra—one of a series of protovideos—that is so winsome and willing to please without being anxious that you can't dislike it.

Frustrated again

Hungarian version of Jennifer Rubin. The one who doesn't write for Wapo.
Jennifer Rubin indignant over the president's word choices:
Well, now the president is frustrated! After three years, 136,000 or so dead, use of chemical weapons, creation of a jihadi haven, millions of refugees flooding through the area and a strategic boost for Iran and Russia, President Obama has decided he is miffed.
Well, I always thought that to frustrate someone was to hinder her, to prevent her from achieving her goals (from the Latin adverb frustra "fruitlessly, in vain" and [jump]

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Precarians of the world, disperse

Frances Trollope, via.
David Brooks writes:
Once upon a time foreign visitors to America used to describe their impressions of the culture, in books. I don't know why they don't do that any more, or indeed whether they do or not, but I bet if they do they don't get into the Chicago Great Books list like back in the day, or at least Tocqueville. I do sometimes feel like a foreigner myself, I don't know why. At any event, [jump]

Monday, February 10, 2014

First look at FirstLook

Drone-bird. AeroVironment, June 2011.
But before I get to Omidyar, Greenwald, Scahill, and what appears at first sight to be a $250-million WordPress blog (sorry, I stole that crack), I'd like to call everybody's attention to a truly important story that is not getting covered enough: about some really bad, no good, horrible practices developed by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan under Generals Petraeus and McChrystal, apparently covered in Mark Urban's Task Force Black (2010) and subsequently blogged in a fine post at Truthout by Gareth Porter.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

That's Incredible!

Recess. Via.

Charles Krauthammer Explains Obama's Lawlessness in 50 Seconds

Yes, if he'd given it any more time he'd certainly have blundered into saying something true.
During an interview on Fox News’ “Special Report,” columnist Charles Krauthammer called President Obama’s executive actions “unbelievably unconstitutional” and lawless.
"Credibly unconstitutional" would be like George Bush's secret executive order of 2002 permitting the NSA to eavesdrop on phone calls made in the US by citizens and [jump]

Friday, February 7, 2014

Republicans built that!

Updated 2/8/2013:
Key Wilde/Getty.
Jonah Goldberg sez:
the real CBO story should be: “That awkward moment when everyone realizes Obamacare was a huge mistake.”
Yes, yes! How come that's only a false CBO story instead of the real one? Why isn't there any justice in the world any more? He adds,

What will people think?

David Brooks writes:
Prince Ea.
Dear Pandit Brooks: I'm 40 years old with a reasonably successful and secure career as an accountant, but it recently occurred to me that I should throw it all over and restart life as a hip-hop artist. Only I'm afraid people will talk and say I'm just having a mid-life crisis. Do you have any advice?—Flossy in Flatbush.

Cheap shots and million-dollar troupers

I think you've got something there, Billo:
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly on Tuesday said he was unhappy with how some media outlets characterized his questions for President Obama during the pre-Super Bowl interview.
"I was watching the cable competition last night, and the unusual suspects are going, 'Oh! A Republican!' The Associated Press, their headline of the interview was: ‘President Obama Defends Himself from Republican Charges,'" O'Reilly said on "Fox and Friends." "These aren't questions that all Americans should be interested in?" (TPM)
Yes! They aren't! In fact if there are any non-Republican Americans in the audience who are interested in the IRS investigations of Tea Party 501(C)(4)s, the issue of whether [jump]

Thursday, February 6, 2014

On a wing and a prayer breakfast

Former National Review Online editor acknowledges presidential truthfulness!
The President Told Us He Was Audacious
And he was not lying.
Namely, at the National Prayer Breakfast President Obama spoke out boldly and totally unexpectedly in favor of the rights of religious freedom as enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution!

Like he's not doing everything he can to force innocent nuns to let their holy money get dirty as it wanders into the pockets of their slutty employees, or not directly, because they can't actually stop them from spending that money on animal sacrifices and wooden dildos for their Satanic sabbaths if they want, but into the slutty employees' insurance policies, which would enable them to install one of those tiny abortion machines to guillotine tiny babies all day long up in their uteruses, at a much lower price than they would have to pay if their insurance didn't cover it. It's the nuns' money, and if religious freedom means anything at all it means those whores should pay top dollar for their filthy IUDs or else get a job in an atheist-run nursing home. It's what James Madison was all about.

Or maybe, you know, not. Maybe it isn't the nuns' money after all, in the first place. Maybe it's not a charitable gift to the women on the payroll but earned, equally whether it's in their paychecks or their benefits package, to be spent as they like and as their own religious beliefs permit, because they might have some, in fact, even though they may be fearfully uneducated and low-class in comparison to somebody like Kathryn Jean Lopez, whose compassion is so refined and special that it can only be applied to bishops and fetuses.
Via Shadow Mountain Baptist Church, Morgan Hill, CA.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Intifada Dada

Thomas L. Friedman writes:
RAMALLAH, West Bank —I've often wondered why Ahmed and Mohammed haven't gotten around to demanding their seat in the back of the Israeli bus by staging a Third Intifada. Indeed, I even announced they were doing it back in 2006 but they let me down, as Arabs will. But seriously, I mean, the first one, with the stones, got them Oslo, and the second one, with the rockets, lost it, so why wouldn't they be giving it another shot?* Palestinians here have been telling me that the problem is it didn't work before, but what the hell kind of logic is that?
Centerpiece by partypro.
 *Maybe they just can't affjord it, heh-heh.

Megyn things up

Image via imgur.
Megyn Kelly on the Foxophobia displayed (in her opinion, anyway) by Obama during the Superb Owl interview:
“I do think it’s interesting that the president seems so focused on us,” Kelly told Carville. “I never heard President [George W.] Bush do this about MSNBC. He was taking his licks like a man.”
Actually President Bush was not taking any licks at all, for the simple reason that he wasn't there. Kelly is misrememberizing, or, as I like to put it, making shit up. The MSNBC she is talking about didn't exist until Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow joined the station toward the end of 2008 and of Bush's last term, when he was the lamest of ducks and nobody wanted to interview him anyway.

And the story of Bush's manly lick-taking will come as a big surprise to Maddow herself, who was complaining round about 2010 that she could not get him to appear on her show:
It may not come as a shock that, despite repeated efforts, Rachel Maddow has not been able to secure an interview with former president George W. Bush. Now, Maddow is trying to win an interview with Bush by entering a contest that he is running on Facebook in support of his upcoming memoir, "Decision Points."
She did not win. Bush was taking his licks like a rabbit, and still is. The brave one is Megyn Kelly—or is the word I'm looking for "brazen"?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Brooks proves he is not an automaton!

Shorter David Brooks, "What Machines Can't Do", New York Times, February 3, 2014:
In the brave new world where computers will do all the brainwork, you won't get a dime out of being able to do any mental activity that involves following a set of rules. So should smart people despair? No, there's still rewarding ways of being human:
First, it pays to be enthusiastic.
Second, it pays to have extended time horizons and strategic discipline, like Garry Kasparov, who can think up to 12 or 14 moves ahead, while a computer. Never mind.
Third, it pays to be a procedural architect running loose networks of cooperating soloists, preferably paying their inadequate salaries while you collect the royalties.
Fifth, computers do the counting for you, so you don't have to worry about that. 
 N.B. It's really not impossible that Brooks left out point 4 out of some waggish purpose, but if he had you'd think he'd have winked at it in the text. None of the commenters seem to have noticed.

Speaking of ethics

Image via The Guardian.
The New York Times medical correspondent Gina Kolata is terribly concerned about ethics, in this case the ethics of a woman carrying
the gene for Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker disease, or GSS, which would inevitably lead to her slow and terrible death.
Should she marry and undergo IVF treatments with her husband, test the embryos for the gene, and throw away those that have it? Or should she—what, exactly?

Monday, February 3, 2014


Breitbart complained about the ghastly Coca-Cola entry in the Superb Owl commercial stakes:
Executives at Coca Cola thought it was a good idea to run a 60 second Super Bowl ad featuring children singing "America the Beautiful" – a deeply Christian patriotic anthem whose theme is unity – in several foreign languages. The ad also prominently features a gay couple....When the company used such an iconic song... to push multiculturalism down our throats, it's no wonder conservatives were outraged.
I'm not very clear on how deeply Christian the anthem is—God comes into it only "shedding grace" over the fruited plains and alabaster cities, as if He were a long-haired [jump]

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Blackout Blues

Image via TodayInWebDesign.
At Jonathan Turley's blog is a post (signed by Charlton Stanley, PhD) alleging a US "media blackout" of Edward Snowden's interview on the German government–run TV station ARD:
The interview was big news in Germany and much of the world in both print and broadcast media. However, the interview appears to have been blocked intentionally by US government authorities. In fact, the media in the US appears to have gone to ‘radio silence’ about it.
I left the following in the comments section:

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Saturday cheap shot: Roots of D'Souza's Rage

Update 9/24/2014:

I guess in the light of Dinesh D'Souza's sentencing (eight months in community confinement sounds like he's having a baby), this old piece has unexpectedly started getting a lot of hits, and I wanted to clarify what it is: a pretty strict parody of D'Souza's Washington Post piece on President Obama from October 2010, linked in the first line. Nice to see you all, come back soon!

D'Souza and onetime colonialist girlfriend Ann Coulter
If you want to understand what is going on in the conservative movement today, you have to begin with Dinesh D'Souza. No, not the Dinesh D'Souza who's just been indicted for laundering $20,000 in campaign funds to a senatorial candidate who had no chance whatever of winning; I mean Dinesh D'Souza, the postmodernist cultural critic noted for the memorable hypothesis that President Obama is in some sense genetically conditioned to act out the beliefs of the 1950s Mau Mau movement. Oh wait, they're the same person. Ironically, the forces that transformed a polite and earnest but clever Bombay boy into a low-rent American political criminal are virtually an exact mirror image of the Obama story that he imagined in his 2010 effusion in Forbes.

How do I know this? Because I use Google. I learned that he suffered from a fear of people knowing too much about his life

Surveillance is for little people

Hide and seek. From The Little People Project by Slinkachu.
Let's just try this one more time:

I really don't like the idea of everybody's communications metadata, including mine, being collected, but I do like it better than one alternative, which is that exemplified by, say, the German Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, speaking of Orwellian names), of spying only on one's political enemies, adherents of obnoxious sects and soi-disant religions, and threats to "free enterprise":
While the BfV uses all kinds of surveillance technology and infiltration, they mostly use open sources.[1] The BfV publishes a yearly report (Verfassungsschutzbericht) which is intended to raise awareness about anti-constitutional activities.[8]
Main concerns of the BfV are: