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February 22, 2008

change you can xerox

I probably should have some kind of opinion about last night's debate, as I fully intended to watch it (with the sound off), but CNN for some reason did not kick in for the Closed Captioning, so after a twenty minutes of watching the two mildly gesticulate like they were kneading invisible playdough, we made one last joke about Sen. Hillary Clinton wearing the uniform of the Commander of the Starship Runnerup and changed the channel.

I noticed this morning that Clinton "got in a good one", or, at least did so in the eyes of the people who are paid to write about such things.  "Change you can Xerox!!!"  It must've been quite a sight, trying to make a grown man cry on national television, but that's what you get when all your "good ones" are ghostwritten by Bruce Villanch.

Hey, I'm trying not to take sides, but Clinton's "denigrate, then weep" initiative reads too much like pages from "how to win a campaign", which is exactly what I'm voting against when I have the luxury.

I may be one of those knuckleheads all hypnotized by the pretty words, but if the big secret weapon to regain the headlines is "Change you can Xerox!!!" then count me out.

BTW, Xerox would very much prefer the Clinton campaign to change that "good one" to "Change you can photocopy!!!"

(And further, someone who actually did watch/hear the debate is impressed that Clinton did not attack Obama harder, so that's what I get for getting my news from the newspapers, like some Senior Citizen.)

Posted by mrbrent at 11:13 AM

February 21, 2008

but when will the media stop writing about writing about itself?

Further to the phenomena of proxy-haterizing on Obama (i.e., he should not be supported because the Right Wing will hate him very much with their Swift Boats and their impeachments and their barefaced racism character attacks), let's look at this afternoon's Yahoo!ToTheHighestBidder Headline Corral:
• Has the media's love affair with Obama ended?

Um, no, not really, no matter what Mark Penn or Howard Wolfson say.

But that's no reason not to file a couple hundred words now, is it?  Wire reporters gotta eat, too.

If you're interested, read the actual piece, which is not so much meta as it is uroboric, as a memember of the fourth estate discusses how efforts to sway the fourth estate may be mitigated by the fourth estate's already-exisiting poor judgement, or vice versa, and then a wormhole opens and reality ceases to exist.  Oops.

Posted by mrbrent at 5:08 PM

more wars for oil

This is an interesting find, though probably just the tip of the iceberg.  Jon Taplin constructs a reasonably sound (if not circumstantial) argument that one reason for the Cheney "secret meetings with polluters" in the pre-9-11 White House was to divvy up the oil assets of a not-yet-invaded Iraq.  You may recall that these meetings have been long the subject of litigation (down to the visitor logs therefrom), and that the vice president has so far been successful in shielding these meetings from the light of day.  But Taplin finds one:
Since late 2001 several public interest groups, including the very conservative Judicial Watch, sued to have the proceedings of those meetings opened to public scrutiny.  In March 2002, the Commerce Department turned over a few documents from the Task-force meetings to Judicial Watch, among which was the map of Iraq’s Oil Fields, dated March 2001 (above) and a list of the existing “Foreign Suitors” for Iraq Oil.

The implication being that this map of Iraq was spread out on a table like a boardgame, and the various US energy execs stuck their corporate flags into it while Cheney gave that Jonah Hex smile and sneered, "We can do that."  And the further implication being that, no matter which of the on-the-record reasons for invading Iraq is your favorite, it is difficult to argue that it was agreed long before most Americans think it was.

  Yeah, sure -- ancient history.  But I'm still all hepped up over Iran/Contra, so I'm not sweating.

The question that I want to ask is, does the vice president, who does not seem to be a stupid man, honestly believe that he can keep his meetings secret forever, or is he gambling that they will remain secret at least for the duration of the Bush Administration, after which he may comfortable allow his partially-robotic body to reject his soul?

[Link via Boing Boing.]

Posted by mrbrent at 2:11 PM

is there no statute of limitations on lobbyist-touching?

Last week a friend was favoring me with an anecdote about how he heard on the radio some sort of one-time journalist talking about his newsrooom days, where he and his buds would wager how often they could fit in a specific phrase into the stories they filed.  These phrases are the stilted sort that almost don't seem out of place in the context of a newspaper -- I forget the friend's examples, but surely, "trials and tribulations" is one, or should be one.

(BTW, Monk/Griz -- if that is in fact your real name -- Gawker was right behind you -- well, about a week behind you.)

It was this morning's headlines that reminded me of this, because I'd bet a delicious comic book or two that the newsroom of The New York Times has a similar arrangement, though, instead of slipping idiosyncratic phrases into stories, they sneak potentially campaign-altering investigative reporting.

And before you get all Drudged out with hysteria, give the actual story a read -- yeah, it's 3,000 words long, but a lot of them are short.  Not a whole lot of steak, but passing amounts of sizzle.  And I've heard complaints of the absence of a smoking gun (w/r/t Sen. McCain's smoking gun), but I think they're off-base, as the (gently-worded but well-reported) crux of the story is that of favors to special interests, with a glancing side-order of inappropriate relations.

But it's not even lunchtime yet!  There's still plenty of time for some folk to accuse NYT of a political hit job, and then others to accuse them of sitting on the story.  And perhaps a Rueben, or maybe a salad.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:01 AM

February 20, 2008

tpm beats out al gore

I let this slip by yesterday, but it's important -- the powers-that-be of the George Polk Awards got drunker than usual and somehow mistook Joshua Micah Marshall for a journalist, and handed him an award for legal reporting for his work on his little digital venture TalkingPointsMemo.

First of all, this is important because, as you may have heard, the print/televised news media and the Internet news media are in some sort of Cold War, with enough barrels of ink aimed at each other's strategic targets to destroy the world at least five times over.  Imagine the pappswarm that follows Britny, but on a global scale.  So, for a bastion of the old, brick-and-mortar media to recognize the accomplishment of one of the guys blogging from his mom's basement in his dirty underpants, well, that would be a wind of change, yes?

And second, this is important because it makes me look smart.  I haven't quite figured out how to harness the powers of the ones and zeros like Marshall has, but, boy, when I do, I'm gonna win alllll the Polk Awards.

But that is some good work, over there at TPM.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:38 AM

February 19, 2008

obama is cheating by making people like him

I agree with this unreservedly:
Here’s a fact: David Brooks wrote the worst column in American History this morning. Well, maybe of this week, or of this morning only.  It was definitely the worst New York Times column he wrote today.  It involves bird flu, or the measles, or some sort of viral “sensation” where Barack Obama is heroin and Hillary Clinton is the methadone clinic, and hippies are guided by invisible shark spirits.

Brooks has discovered a new strain of AIDS — Obama Comedown Syndrome (OCS) — where no one likes Barack Obama anymore.

There is not much sport in knocking around David Brooks, but this latest affront to the literate is an excellent example of something I've been noticing in coverage of the primaries in the past week -- allegations of a backlash to the Obama candidacy, which seem to be not so much reportage as they do self-fulfilling.

It seems to me that a certain class of person regularly employed to follows these "election" beauty pageants are openly dubious of this phenomena of a groundswell inspired by the Obama campaign.  In fact, these inkstained few (can I write 'nattering nabobs', finally?) view "inspiration" as an infirmity, especially when it comes to a presidential candidate who should spend less time speaking and more time reassuring the salvaged remnant that the status shall remain quo for the foreseeable.

My wagon's not yet hitched to the Obama kool-aid-truck just yet (though I now of those who are, and he did win my vote), but I do think it's specious to attack a candidate with lofty rhetoric as trading in hope and not ideas -- he's a candidate, for Jiminy Cricket, and appealing to potential voters is a large part of his current dayjob.  To suggest that he should avoid unduly inspiring people is the kind of campaigning that makes Lee Atwater sit out a hand from his poker game in hell and wonder at the dirty tactic that doesn't appear dirty on the face of it.

Oh, and yes, the Brooks column is execrable, and the Wonkette post does a workmanlike job of flaying it.

Posted by mrbrent at 2:46 PM

we sure showed castro, with our secret weapon "old age"

Checking the news on the way out of the house, I saw a little bit of "See what you get for messing with Uncle Sam" breaking news.

And what then do you get for brazenly opposing U.S. interests for years, not a hundred miles off our shores?  For seizing the properties of U.S. nationals, for consorting with our enemies, for generally thumbing your nose in our direction?

Well, you get forty-nine years of uninterrupted rule, followed by a peaceful and voluntary resignation.

I hope a certain firebrand socialist despot whose name rhymes with "Bugo Bavez" is paying close attention.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:41 AM

February 18, 2008

happy once-meaningful paid day off

This Dead Presidents' Day, it is a holiday, yes?  Because apparently someone has taken all the news and hid it somewhere.  By way of example, below is the top couple heds from the Yahoo!/Microsoft/NewsCorp Box of Headlines:
• Kosovo wins recognition from U.S., EU powers
• Former President Bush endorses McCain
• Musharraf allies struggling in early Pakistan vote count
• Obama says something, I forget
• Kind of sunny out
• What should I have for dinner?

I hope I can find a good place to watch the fireworks tonight, and then early to bed, so I'm fresh when the news comes back to us.

Posted by mrbrent at 3:27 PM