Archive for March, 2009

Either You Have It Or You Don’t
March 9, 2009

Joe the Dear God Why Do We Still Let Him Get Away With Using that Stupid Name on Chairman Steele’s efforts to rebrand the GOP:

At a meeting of conservative activists in Milwaukee, Mr. The Plumber had some tough words for the RNC chairman: “Unfortunately we have a chairman up there who wants to redefine conservatism; he wants to make it hip hop, put it in a new package and sell it.”

“You can’t sell principles; either you have them or you don’t,” he added, to applause from the audience of 800 people.

Which is an uncharacteristically dumb thing for Joe to say. Michael Steele hasn’t proposed redefining conservatism or altering the principles of the Republican Party; in fact, he can’t come up with a single new idea beyond cloaking the same old policies in faux-ebonics that Kevin Federline would be embarrassed to use. This is about messaging, not principles.

Except that for incessant self-promoters like J the P and Rush Limbaugh, the message is pretty much all there is. They’re not selling people a philosophy of governance, they’re selling them a message of vague class resentment.


Back From Cornwall
March 9, 2009

Here’s one of the images from this weekend that really sticks with me:


That’s the view from the ruins of Tintagel Castle, which legend has it was the birthplace of King Arthur. I can’t really put into words how that view made me feel.

It’s funny to think that when the Americans of the 19th century looked to nature, it inspired them to create transcendentalism, and the Hudson River School. The creative class of 18-19th century England would visit ruins out in the middle of nowhere like the castle, and what they saw there would move them to write Gothic horror.

Great weekend. But if you want to make the trek yourself, don’t bring the kids.

A Rare Internet-Free Weekend
March 6, 2009

I’m going to be visiting Cornwall and Stonehenge all this weekend, and, for once, I’m not going to be bringing my laptop along for the ride. So that means no updates of any kind for 48-72 hours. But I’m also writing for NYU Local twice a week again, so there will at least beone post by me up over there while I’m exploring the non-London part of England. Enjoy.

No More No Bid Contracts
March 5, 2009

This is unquestionably good news:

WASHINGTON — President Obama on Wednesday ordered his administration to change how government contracts are awarded to private businesses, saying he intended to reverse some practices of the Bush administration and do away with no-bid contracts that have cost billions and led to corruption investigations.

With Senator John McCain and a few other lawmakers at his side, Mr. Obama announced that he had signed a memorandum to direct the administration to inject competition into government contracting. He said guidelines being drafted could save up to $40 billion a year, largely from military-related contracts.

“The days of giving defense contractors a blank check are over,” Mr. Obama said. “We need more competition for contracts and more oversight as they are carried out.”

It’s not just that the lack of competition was costing taxpayers billions of dollars. It’s that a lot of those contracts were going to companies like Halliburton and its subisidiary KBR, which then took the boatload of money and lack of oversight as a sign that they could engage in disgraceful behavior without fear of repercussion–behavior like trying to cover it up when their employees were guilty of rape. Mundane corruption is bad enough, but that’s truly monstrous.

links for 2009-03-04
March 5, 2009

Revenge of the Trig Truthers
March 4, 2009

I will give John Ziegler this, and this alone: He sorta has a point here.

Andrew Sullivan is a guy who should never be allowed back in any remnant of the conservative movement after what he did, just on the Trig “trutherism” issue. It’s just scandalous. I mean, this guy is still invited on major TV shows after coming forward with, and continuing, the theory that Gov. Palin faked a pregnancy of a Downs Syndrome child even after we found out that the daughter she was allegedly protecting was also pregnant, in a way made it absolutely biologically impossible. Now, that ought to be a career ender! Instead it was a career advancement, because of the bias in the news media.

Now, of course, there are a few caveats here: To my knowledge, Sullivan’s career didn’t advance at all (he’s still got the exact same job at the Atlantic), and certainly not as a direct result of his promotion of the Trig Palin conspiracy theory. And the central thesis of his documentary, about media bias, is still total bunk.

But Sullivan’s constant flogging of this ridiculous non-story really was unconscionable. It’s just as pernicious as Larry Johnson’s non-existent “whitey tape”–maybe more so, because Sullivan’s rumor-mongering attacked both a public figure and that public figure’s teenage daughter.

Strange Cloud Formations
March 4, 2009

This is the view out my window from about an hour ago:


I’m just going to assume that whatever that thing on the horizon is, it’s coming to kill us all.

Question For All You History Majors
March 4, 2009

Has there ever been a moment before in American history–or the history of any democratic country, for that matter–where the de facto leader of a major political party was an unhinged bigot who held no political office and no official position within the party, but just happened to have a big megaphone?

I think people are starting to understand the Rush Limbaugh effectively leads the GOP now. I’m not sure everyone realizes just how insane that is.

links for 2009-03-03
March 4, 2009

New Campus Progress Column
March 3, 2009

Here you go. This is about an issue very near and dear to my heart–I would have been writing about it more here the past couple of weeks, but I was working on building up my case in a longer format.

Anyway, this is worth following. And protesting. Listen to Greenwald. If we let Obama do this stuff right now, then 100 years from now the balance of power will still be broken.

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