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August 9, 2008

mccain: only caught cheating once, so far

And let's have a last word on John Edwards cheating on his wife, from TPM's Josh Marshall:
Just as Bill Clinton's public undressing in the Lewinsky scandal led indirectly to the exposure of several high-profile Republican affairs, Edwards' revelation will inevitably put pressure on the press in general to scrutinize John McCain under something more searching than the JFK rules they've applied to date.  I assure you that this dimension of the story occurred to every reporter even tangentially involved in reporting this race soon after the Edwards story hit yesterday afternoon.

In the short (well, actually, not that short at all) time that Josh has been plying his trade, he is not one given to hyperbole, or BREAKINGs with sirens.  So we file his opinion under "credible".

And let's also modify "last word" with the understanding that events may well unfold that force us to revisit it.  Depending, of course, on those JFK rules.

And further, bwoo ha ha ha.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:32 PM

omg john edwards

Hey, you know that big news story, about how John Edwards cheated on his wife?  It's stupid.

And all those progressives wringing their hands, feeling betrayed because John Edwards cheated on his wife?  They're stupid too.

If you don't like John Edwards you might derive some pleasure in jumping up and down because John Edwards cheated on his wife, as insult to injury is a timeworn tactic against your enemies.  In fact, if John McCain gets caught cheating on this wife, I'll jump up and down, tee hee.

But when I do so, I will do so cynically, because I will know in my heart that any story about any dude cheating on his wife is stupid, unless you are that dude's wife.

And you are not.

Posted by mrbrent at 8:21 AM

August 8, 2008

finally a chance to write about red lobster

Here's a little dissonance -- long-time midscale-suburban chain restaurant touts the fact that an entree devised by the contestant of a Food Network reality/gameshow has sold very well.  Or, as the press release says, "Red Lobster Wraps Up Successful Integration Into 'The Next Food Network Star'".  The dish is a "Macadamia Crusted Tilapia with White Chocolate Beurre Blanc" (which name is probably trademarked by now), which sounds like not only nothing you'd ever see in a Red Lobster but also a little busy -- why bother with the tilapia if what you're trying to sell Macadamia White Chocolate Beurre Blanc Balls?

I guess there's nothing here to see, really, and no need to pretend like such promotional events between entirely unrelated industries is anything but How Tomorrow Works.  I'm sure there was someone also scratching his or her head the first time they saw a drinking glass with a cartoon character on it (which was seventy or eighty years ago, yes?).  But yeah, huh?

I have to admit a long relationship with Red Lobster.  In fact, by the time I'd hit high school, it had supplanted Ponderosa as "the restaurant you take the kids to to reward them for something" -- and my parents worked long and hard to be able to make that upgrade.  My wife shares this long history with Red Lobster, and many say it's why we got married.

More recently we've hit the Red Lobster when we're visiting the hinterlands, and I've decided that it sucks ass.  More specifically, it (well, much of the menu) couldn't taste more prepared, packaged, shipped and reheated if they cut open the cryovac bag myself before they'd let me have any more delicious cheddar biscuits.

But forget about me talking about actual long-term experience with a chain restaurant -- they've got a cross-brand integration opportunity!  Maybe they'll start selling chowder out of Wal-Marts now.

[Via Eater.]

Posted by mrbrent at 10:11 AM

montauk monster is great, but i cah't hardly finish the whole thing

Inevitable: the Montauk Monster, which was surely the song of the summer of 2008 (or at least the one without Katy Perry), had nothing to do with Plum Island, and in fact was not even a monster at all.  It was a hoax.  A big old time-wasting hoax.  It was a prop from an indie film shot out on Long Island called "Splinterheads" -- there, I typed it.  Happy now, indie film producers?  Now that you now have a very high-profile motion picture that still no one wants to see?

Though, when you examine the run-down of how this transpired, you realize that there are ambitious young people desperate for their fifteen seconds of fame, there's a gullible and overheated press eager to run the trivia as news -- it's a love story for our times!

And hopefully every website in the world will remember that, as they post this news.

Posted by mrbrent at 6:36 AM

August 7, 2008

hamdan's evil secret plot to apologize

Wow, this is not so much, "Death to America!  Death to Israel!  I-ran, number one!" now, is it?
"I don't know what could be given or presented to these innocent people who were killed in the U.S.," Salim Hamdan told a jury of six military officers deciding his fate after convicting him of providing material support for terrorism.

"I personally present my apologies to them if anything what I did have caused them pain," he said through an Arabic-English interpreter at the first U.S. war crimes tribunal since the aftermath of World War Two.

The prosecutor, of course, is arguing that Hamdan is lying to get a lenient sentence, which is a pretty stunning motivation for a man already being held indefinitely as an enemy combatant.  Not to mention that showing remorse is not a character trait usually exhibited by your standard Jihadist, at least as far as I know.

But when you're dealing with the Most Evil Chauffeur In Guantanamo, you gotta take off the gloves!  Murderize the bastard and invade Iran or Canada or whatever already!

Posted by mrbrent at 3:15 PM

glenn beck is scared of the wobblies

Is this desperation, or just the usual idiocy?  When the garden variety slander and calumny don't seem to fit the occasion, the odious doughy know-nothing prick Glenn Beck goes back to the well and gives his BFF Joe McCarthy a big old ghostly but manly hug:
The thing that I do find about Barack Obama is that -- and I think America is starting to catch on to this -- this guy really is a Marxist.  He believes in the redistribution of wealth.  He believes in the global government and everything else.

Does Glenn Beck ever listen to himself speak?  The best he can do is that Obama is a Marxist?  Does he even listen to the other smear campaigns on the airwaves, like that Obama is uppity, or the Antichrist?  And Beck throws his gasbag two cents behind the idea that Obama is an adherent to a political philosophy that is decades in the ground?

Not that I mind seeing Beck staggering around wearing a lamp shade -- every one could use a laugh now and again.  But seriously, Mr. Beck, I heard that Obama was actually the trickster god Loki, come to lead an invasion of America by fire giants!  I read it in a email, which said it was from a Maureen Down column!

Maybe when you're done hiding from the black helicopters, you'll have a chance to tell one of your staff to look into that.

Posted by mrbrent at 12:43 PM

the future!

I was wondering why it's so hard to find something worth writing about this morning, and then I remembered this link from Bruce Sterling's Beyond The Beyond, which explains it all:
(((I warned you that blogging was inherently unstable.  It's built on an unstable platform.  How hard is that to understand?)))

See now, it's this unstable platform that's got me all clenched up.  I shoulda realized that in the first place.

What he's talking about is the idea amongst smart guys that "blogging" is a transitional communications medium that will be left behind much like eight-track tapes and bakelite telephones.  He links up a couple two-three blog posts on the imminent death of the "blog" as a medium, as it quickly becomes replaced by microblogging apps like Tumbl and Twitter, or social apps like Facebook, that are much more suited for the thirst for connectivity of the Youth of Today than the archaic post/comment architecture of your average blog/newsboard.

Fortunately for me, I look at this little dinosaur like a "magazine" or a "journal", and so I have no need to have any two-way communicative functionality.  This is a monologue, unrepentantly, and I've never been afraid to remain in the pool after the water's been drained out.

But, as I'd hate to eat the dust of progress, I do have a Twitter account.  And a pair of water wings, of course.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:23 AM

August 6, 2008

fbi: bumbling?

Today is the day that the FBI is going to release its files on the investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks, which, the FBI hopes, will go a long way to explaining why recent suicide Bruce E. Ivins was the lead suspect.  What will they reveal?  Only time, and the Internet, will tell.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports some rather glaring problems with the investigation.  Namely, that Ivins was cracking from the pressure the Feds were applying:

It was around the time that FBI agents showed Ivins's 24-year-old daughter pictures of the victims who had died in the 2001 anthrax attacks and told her, "Your father did this," the scientist said.  The agents also offered her twin brother the $2.5 million reward for solving the anthrax case -- and the sports car of his choice.

And the mental health care professional, who was the source of rumors of Ivins' homicidal lunacy, is not exactly unimpugnable:

The counselor [Ivins] saw for group therapy and biweekly individual sessions, who would eventually tell a judge that he was a "sociopathic, homicidal killer," had a troubled past.  Jean C. Duley, who worked until recent days for Comprehensive Counseling Associates in Frederick, is licensed as an entry-level drug counselor and was, according to one of her mentors, allowed to work with clients only under supervision of a more-seasoned professional.

Shortly before she sought a "peace order" against Ivins, Duley had completed 90 days of home detention after a drunken-driving arrest in December, and she has acknowledged drug use in her past.

Again, not much more than innuendo, but then again so is much of the evidence against Ivins.

This article is sadly entitled "Tales of Addiction, Anxiety, Ranting", which is incongruous with the tone of the piece -- yeah, maybe no innocent man would have reacted that way, but remember that the inability to breathe underwater used to be proof of innocence a couple hundred years ago.

The story of this investigation may well be a real-life version of "Crime And Punishiment", or could be an episode of "F Troop" where O'Rourke's suspicion of Agarn stealing his whiskey makes Agarn pull his hat down over his ears and roll his eyes.

(It would unfair to reference this without crediting Glenn Greenwald, whose reporting on the issues precedes the Washington Post's by a couple of days.)

Posted by mrbrent at 10:12 AM

August 5, 2008

i guess that would be actual straight talk?

Okay, the upcoming point is about plain speaking, so let me speak plainly -- the most impressive thing to me about Sen. Obama as a candidate, and as a politician in general, is that he is the clearest, most concise public speaker I can remember.  And I am (comparatively) old.  And I don't mean his rhetorical flourishes and his oratory -- both of which are exemplary -- I mean pure transmission of information.

This rough (and edited) transcription of remarks of his needs no set-up:

You know, the other day I was in a town hall meeting and I laid out my plan for investing $15b a year in energy efficient cars, and a new electricity grid and all this.  Somebody said, well what can I do, what can individuals do?  So I told them something simple, I said you know what, you could inflate your tires to the proper levels, and that if everybody in American inflated their tires to the proper levels, we would actually probably save more oil than all the oil we get from John McCain from right below his feet there, whatever it is that he was gonna, wherever he was gonna drill.

So now the Republicans are going around -- this is the kind of things they do, I don't understand it -- they are going around, they going around they're sending like little tire gauges, making fun of the idea as if this is Barack Obama's energy plan.

Now two things -- one, they know they are lying about what my energy plan is.  But the other this they are making fun of a step that every expert says will absolutely reduce our oil consumption by 3 to 4%.  It's like, it's like these guys take pride in being ignorant.

He's not speaking in code, no "politics of personal destruction" or "same old Beltway games" or anything like that.  He lays out the attack he's responding to in plain English, and then he drives a stake through its freakin' heart.

I think it's important not to underestimate how difficult it is to do that.

It might not make him presidential, but God I wish I could synthesize and expound, without lapsing into jargon or catchphrase (final sentence excepted, but that's a fair shot), like that.

(And yes, the ignorance of the GOP is like a flag pin that they wear on their lapel, like a cudgel they beat people with, and yet they get elected.  But that's a whole nuther.)

Posted by mrbrent at 9:00 PM

oh, i could talk about merging for hours

As a small break from endless writing about the presidential campaign (forecast: freakin' hornfells of it, man), please visit this NYT Magazine feature by Cynthia Gorney about what I realized is one of my five favorite topics, and the one that I least address in writing -- traffic, and the mechanics thereof.  Specifically, Gorney does a bit of research on that aspect of traffic known as the "merge", or "our species is clearly doomed".  She breaks motorists down into two categories, lineuppers and sidezoomers, which terms are apt enough, as they pretty much define themselves.

An excerpt:

Until recently, I had the idea that I was somewhat overwrought about this.  I supposed there were not all that many drivers gritting their teeth behind their steering wheels, practicing what Jerry Seinfeld once called the stare-ahead, while declining to let the sidezoomers in and musing at the same time that this is the problem with modern American capitalism, really, this anti-aristocratic all-men-are-created-equal narrative we pretend to cherish while simultaneously celebrating the individual’s right to do whatever advances his own interests without technically breaking the law, Gordon Gekko triumphant over Cesar Chavez, and that is an exit-only lane, you rodent, so no, you are not cutting in front of me unless you look as if you might have a gun in your car, in which case, O.K., but you’re still a rodent.

I was mistaken, as it turns out.  There are a lot of people who feel this way.

Yes, there are a lot of people who feel that way -- good, enlightened people who deserve acclaim and reward.

Oddly, this feature dovetails nicely with the feature from that issue that has been more widely referenced across the Net, as they both deal with the misbehavior of the anonymous.  Isn't that neat?

Posted by mrbrent at 3:21 PM

hal lindsey, antichrist-spotter

I was corresponding with a friend living in Tennessee, and I brought up the election (as I am wont to do), and she mentioned that her Grandma thought that Obama was the Antichrist.  I thought that was a deft little turn of phrase -- there are all sorts of folk who are not fans of Sen. Obama, but surely they do not literally believe that Obama is the Antichrist.

Mmmmm, actually yeah, there are people that actually believe this, and Maud Newton thinks that the McCain campaign's "The One" spot released last week is an overt appeal for the support of these Fundamentalists:

But the ad isn’t targeted to you or me.  It is designed to galvanize a very specific group: Evangelical Christians of the End Times, Rapture-Ready variety.   It is designed, more to the point, to scare the shit out of these people by insinuating that Barack Obama is the Antichrist.

This is a particularly nefarious and crafty argument to make because it is the one context in which all the candidate’s strengths — his smarts, his articulateness, his contagious smile and way with people — can become evidence against him.  All these traits are associated in the Bible with the charismatic, popular, well-spoken man who is supposed to become the leader of the world and bring about the Tribulation.

Maud explains it very thoroughly in a couple hundred well-written words.  I recommend.

And as a bonus, Hal Lindsey (for those of you that remember him) is central to this movement of Whacked-Out Millennialists.  Lindsey wrote "The Late Great Planet Earth", which pretty much popularized (and galvanized) the Rapture Right in the 70s.  At the time, my family thought that I'd dig it, as I was a spooky little fucker, but no, it was a little too strident to pique my paranoia.  It's nice to see a hobgoblin of your youth regain prominence, especially in light of the fact that "TLGPE" was wrong, as the Rapture did not happen by 1980.  In your face, Lindsey.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:07 AM

August 4, 2008

yahoo! headline crap: typo-free!

More contextual weisenheimering breaking news from the Yahoo! Centered Box of Headlines:
• Obama leads McCain among low-wage workers, poll finds

And here I am having no idea that Sens. Obama and McCain were low-wage workers.  I need to start paying better attention.  But sympathies to all the other low-wage workers -- that's some pretty stiff competition.

Posted by mrbrent at 1:57 PM

more anthrax

So the Washington Post is keeping well on top of the Anthrax case, but their coverage over the past two days has given me a small case of the whiplash.

Yesterday, they ran a "The Truth Is Out There!" story, which ran down various doubts that the suspect, researcher, Bruce E. Ivins, would have or could have committed the 2001 anthrax mailings, with colleagues claiming that the research facilities at the Fort Detrick labs at which Ivins worked were not as suited for the manufacture of weaponized anthrax as authorities claim, and friends doubting that Ivins would have been capable of such an act. And this morning, the story ran is more of a "Nothing More To See Here! story, with tales of Ivins' rapidly deteriorating mental state", library computers being seized as evidence and the case being closed as early as today.

And aside from the Post having trouble making up its mind, neither article mentions the issue of the political content of the letters containing anthrax (as raised by Glenn Greenwald), and neither article mentions Steven J. Hatfill, who was the last prime suspect of the Feds, now $5.8 million dollars richer after he sued the Feds over their handling of the investigation (the Feds settled).

I may be obsessing over this, but when all you have is a tinfoil hat, then everything looks like the Zapruder film.

Posted by mrbrent at 8:45 AM