Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Jim Webb

I wasn't sure what I thought of Webb in the fall. But from most accounts he seems to be a politician actually working in pursuit of a goal, politics be damned. He is currently working to change the way we incarcerate in this country. Andrew Sullivan posted this quote from Webb:

"Let's start with a premise that I don't think a lot of Americans are aware of. We have five percent of the world's population; we have 25 percent of the world's known prison population. There are only two possibilities here: either we have the most evil people on earth living in the United States; or we are doing something dramatically wrong in terms of how we approach the issue of criminal justice," - Jim Webb whose criminal justice reform bill has won some encouraging support on the right.
Sullivan also links to an interesting and informative piece by Glenn Greenwald explaining Webb's efforts that morphs into an indictment of the political cowards occupying most of our elected seats.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Final Four Failure

For the first time I can remember, I got just a single final four participant correct. This is just one year after I correctly picked all four number one seeds despite the historical evidence to suggest it would not happen. Nothing like getting knocked off your high horse at the first opportunity.

Quote of the Day

From conservative writer David Frum:

“(Glenn Beck's success) is a product of the collapse of conservatism as an organized political force, and the rise of conservatism as an alienated cultural sensibility.”

Friday, March 27, 2009

80's Movie Line of the Week

I've decided that instead of continuing to plumb deeper and deeper for quotes from movies that are questionable, it is time to start allowing multiple quotes from the best ones. Here is one from the greatest 80's comedy, Ghostbusters, about cause and effect.

Male Student: What are you trying to prove here, anyway?
Dr. Peter Venkman: I'm studying the effects of negative reinforcement on ESP ability.
Male Student: The effect? I'll tell you what the effect is, it's pissing me off!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

On the Other Hand

Maybe stories like the one in the previous post aren't so bad if they come with pics like this:

I hope that shirt is in the garage sale.

This is Why You Can't Lay Off Your Newspaper Staff

If you do, this becomes the top story on your website. In its entirety:

Unusual garage sale: 'Eight is Enough' star Willie Aames is leaving Olathe

Willie Aames, the star of “Eight is Enough,” “Charles in Charge” and an actor in other television shows and movie, is having a garage sale today at his Olathe house.

It’s a moving sale so all must go, and Aames himself will negotiate prices, according to an e-mail announcing the sale. It will be at 16054 W. 160th Terrace from noon to 2 p.m.

Aames will be taking cash only. There will be household items, antiques, artwork, a piano, deer head mounts, sporting goods and television and movie memorabilia.
Not kidding, the top story.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Three Generations of Music Arriving at Once

I have had three new albums on my Rhapsody player the last few days. Actually, I have one new album and two albums containing music made almost 20 years ago and 30 years ago respectively.

The new album is It's Blitz from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. This is the third full-length album from the YYY's, and each one has been a bit different. This one was billed by some as a dance record, which had me suspicious. It turns out though, that it is an album with a couple of dance tunes and a bunch of other stuff. That stuff includes two songs, "Skeleton" and "Hysteric," that are as pretty as anything on Show Your Bones. There is nothing as good as "Maps," but in my mind that attribute is shared by just about every other album made in the past 10 years.

The album hailing from 20 years ago is the Legacy Edition of Pearl Jam's Ten. The Legacy Edition is nice because Brendan O'Brien remixes the songs in a way that allows them to age a little better than the originals. "Ten" has never been my favorite PJ album because the songs sound like the nineties. That is partly due to their iconic status, but it also has to do with that production. Vs. and Vitalogy are better albums because they sound like they don't sound like a time or place. The remixed Ten songs still can't shake the fact that we know them and have heard them a couple of thousand times. But they do sound grittier and more like the rest of the Pearl Jam catalog. That's a good thing.

The album with the oldest stuff is Some Lyres by Lyres. Lyres are one of those bands that come along every now and again. There really is no reason why I wouldn't have listened to them before, but I have not. In some ways, a band like that is more rewarding to find than a brand new band. Some Lyres is the band's greatest hits albums of sorts. The music on it is a sixtiesish garage rock that would fit in well in a collection with some of the bluesier Rolling Stones and early Kinks and Who music. AMG tells me that the band was not from the sixties, but Boston punk rock darlings of the eighties. That makes it even more fascinating.


On my way in this morning, NPR was running a story about a Supreme Court case involving campaign finance laws and a movie hit piece made by an anti-Hillary Clinton group. One of the lawyers backing the piece compared is to the Federalist Papers.

Brass ones.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Kansas Fans

What is it with KU fans? They should be happy that their guys are in the Sweet Sixteen, and all I keep hearing are snide remarks about Missouri's free throw substitution.

As many have already pointed out, if you wanted to use the rule to your advantage, you would not substitute a 65% free throw shooter who hadn't played most of the second half for a 76% free throw shooter who had a few possessions earlier made two pressure free throws.

But KU fans seem to like hurling feces at Missouri more than they like rooting for their own guys. I don't get it.

In Case You Didn't Know

You should not step out to the engine to use the restroom when you're on the plane.

Friday, March 20, 2009


There are a pair of stories on Slate on how tough it is to be a Republican these days. One has to deal with the Republican response to the AIG bonuses. Democrats have put them in a funny spot by making them vote for a tax increase to get the money back. But many Republicans voted no yesterday in the House. Never fear, for they have their own plan:

The proposal looks good on paper: Unlike the Democrats' solution, which would recoup only 90 percent of the bonuses in a year's time, Boehner says the Republican alternative would get the entire sum in two weeks. But when I asked a Republican leadership spokesman how the bill would accomplish this, the answer was simple: Tell Treasury to get the money back. No matter that Treasury had already determined it could not legally recoup the bonuses once they were paid out. It needs to try harder.
Good plan.

The other piece talks about the hypocirsy Republicans are showing now that it is Obama who is nominating judicial appointees.

See, also, Dawn Johnsen, Obama's nominee for the head of the Office of Legal Counsel. This morning, the judiciary committee approved Johnsen 11-7 in a vote down party lines. Her nomination will now head to the Senate floor. Like Kagan, professor Johnsen (who blogged for Slate's legal blog, "Convictions") answered questions at a hearing, then answered questions and more questions. Johnsen has provided more than 165 written answers to the committee's follow-up questions, including detailed information on terrorism, detainee treatment, executive power, warrantless wiretapping and electronic surveillance, the use of military force and CIA operations against al-Qaida, extraordinary rendition, guidelines for the proper operation of OLC, reproductive rights, the judicial nominations process, a "progressive agenda," voter ID laws, the Supreme Court's decision in Bush v. Gore, enforcing and defending the Constitution, obscenity and child pornography. To name a few. She answered questions about actions she had taken when she served in the Office of Legal Counsel—questions that Bushies like Jay Bybee and Stephen Bradbury, also former OLC lawyers, declined to answer at their own hearings.

What did Johnsen get for her forthrightness? Seven Republicans cast votes against her. Following years of superb legal scholarship and service at OLC, Johnsen was in fact described this morning by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, as lacking the "requisite seriousness" needed for the job.
It really is a tough time to be a Republican. Eight years of taking ridiculous positions based on the fact they were in charge have left them in an impossible situation now that they aren't anymore. If only that permanent Republican majority had come to fruition...

Thursday, March 19, 2009


I now have NCAA games playing on my computer, and the video is almost perfect. No lag in the sound. No buffering.

Life is good.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Presidential Fun With Brackets

I don't know if President Obama is the first prez to fill out a bracket publicly or not, but this is the first time I remember such a thing. And it is a fun reminder that our presidents are people too.

Obama has a final four Louisville, Pitt, Memphis and North Carolina. The more interesting thing about his bracket, however, is to look at the way he filled it in. Several times he changed his mind or wrote in questions marks, and he scratched out Clemson in Round 2 before putting them back. I don't know whether that means anything or not, but I like to think it means he knows enough to know he doesn't know everything. A little self-awareness about limitations right there on display.

Now someone just needs to explain to him that when you shorten Missouri you traditionally change the s's to z's. M-I-Z-Z-O-U!

Monday, March 16, 2009


Yep, Pitt. That's who I came up with in my first crack at my brackets.

Pitt vs. Memphis was my final.

I don't think I'd bet that in Vegas.

Friday, March 13, 2009

80's Movie Line of the Week

The power of a compliment, from Loose Cannons.

Rachel: Having a bad day?
Mac: No, I'm having a terrible day. Say something nice to me, will ya, please.
Rachel: You have very strong lookin' thighs for a white man.

Worth Being Tired

I stayed up until almost 12:30 last night watching a basketball game that started at around 8:30. Syracuse knocked off Connecticut in 6 overtimes, in what may or may not be the best basketball game I've ever seen, but was definitely the longest.

West Virginia Coach Bob Huggins must have been elated to see this game drag on and on. His Mountaineers get to play the Orangemen tonight after the Syracuse starting backcourt played a combined 128 minutes last night. Point guard Jonny Flynn (no relation to the guy on my Top Ten Albums of 2008 list) lost his headband somewhere in the overtime sessions. I suspect he may just not have needed it because he had lost the ability to sweat anymore.

As usual, I'll be rooting for the Orange tonight. But even if they lose, last night's game was worth it.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

We Heart Congress

Well, sort of. People are beginning to approve of Congress at levels unseen since 2005. Considering the shape the country is in, that could be surprising. Or maybe it isn't because people feel like Congress is working on the problem, and aren't as scared of "socialism" as they are the complete economic collapse of the country.

I have a Republican friend who keeps referring to Obama's stimulus plan as "controversial." In the sense that everything Washington does is controversial, he's right. But if you can get 59% of the American public to think something is a good idea, it's hard to call it controversial in any meaningful political sense.

As I often like to point out in situations like this, retrieving all your information from right wing radio, television and web sites might warp your perspective on what is controversial and what isn't.

Via Kevin Drum.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Madness Starts Early

The NCAA tournament is probably the best sporting event ever devised. I love the first weekend of the tournament, filling out brackets, and all the speculation leading up to Selection Sunday.

But if you just want to watch a lot of basketball, this is the best week of the year. All of the big conference tournaments and several smaller conference tourneys are going on this week. There are well over 100 games in total, and many of them are on TV somewhere. That is madness!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Socialism Explained Visually

Obama wants to raise the top tax rate to the level it was at in the 1990s. This would, of course, represent a socialism that this country just can't abide... unless you count the majority of the 20th century. As usual, a chart tells the story pretty well.

Matt Yglesias points out:

And yes, please pay no attention to the fact that the three periods of ultra-low taxes were followed by a budget crisis (Reagan) and catastrophic global economic collapse (Coolidge-Hoover, Bush).

The Kids These Days

It's hard to write post bagging on a kid, so I'd prefer you just went a read this story for yourself. The gist is:

The interview concluded, Jonathan wistfully handed his mother her cellphone. His parents still won’t let him have one, even though he turned 14 last Sunday, right after he became an instant news media darling and the conservative movement’s underage graybeard at last weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.
In the story, however, there is a quote that just can't go unrecognized.

“He seems to at least have a historical perspective,” she said. “But at 13, there’s not a lot of life experience yet. But as he attends more conferences, he’ll have more ammunition and education, and see that there are more than black and white viewpoints.”
...at which point he will no longer be considered a viable conservative thinker.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Photo Editors Already Laid Off?

I'm not sure who the editor would be that selected the kansascity.com photo display from Mizzou's win over Oklahoma last night. I do know that person either must be a KU fan or else has a weird Blake Griffin fetish.

There are 17 pics in the slideshow. Game action is depicted in 10 of those pictures. Of those 10, 8 are really pics of Blake Griffin. That includes gems like this one:

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


What is it about subtlety that eludes so many? Last night, I was on the elliptical at the gym watching Lou Dobbs hyperventilate about the president of the United States telling people to invest in the stock market. He started a conversation on the subject with a couple of other talking heads.

From the conversation, I really expected Obama to have said, "American people, go out and buy stocks. The market is fine."

Not surprisingly, that is not even close to what he said. He said:

Sounding like an analyst, he said that "profit and earning ratios are starting to get to the point where buying stocks is a potentially good deal if you've got a long-term perspective on it."
So, Obama said something completely rational. Dobbs, and others, took that and turned into a proclamation that would be much more interesting, but wasn't even remotely close to what he was really saying. Gotta love cable news!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

As a Boom, It Kind of Sucked

Matt Yglesias links to a Powerpoint that has several depressing slides. These are two particular downers:

I don't know what happened to the last slide, but you certainly get the idea. Our first economic boom of the 20th century provided us with almost no wage growth, but an astounding amount of debt. That is why Phil Gramm's stupid statements during the election probably did as much to discredit John McCain as Sarah (the gift that keeps on giving) Palin ever did.

Like Clockwork

And now, Michael Steele has apologized and tried to make amends with his majesty.

“My intent was not to go after Rush – I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh,” Mr. Steele told The Politico. “I was maybe a little bit inarticulate. There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership.”
That kind of makes it official right? The head of the RNC just made a public pronouncement about Rush Limbaugh's leadership. Emmanuel, behind his back and to the rim for a score!

Monday, March 2, 2009

I Like Rahm Emmanuel

Here is why:

(Michael) Steele’s broadside comes as top-level Democrats are working to portray Limbaugh as the face of the GOP and daring anybody in the party to separate themselves from him.

A liberal coalition has aired two ads tying congressional Republicans to Limbaugh and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday that the radio talker is the “the voice and the intellectual force and energy behind the Republican Party.”

Emanuel also noted that Republicans face repercussions for criticizing Limbaugh.

“When a Republican did attack him, he was — clearly had to turn around and come back and basically said that he's apologizing and was wrong,” Emanuel noted.
This is smart stuff from Emmanuel. Rush Limbaugh's idiotic statements play very well with the conservative base, but not so well with just about everyone else in the country. Unfortunately for Republicans, they need the backing of that conservative base. Limbaugh has made no bones about going after any Republicans who have criticised him or challenged his ideas.

Emmanuel and other Democrats have figured out that can work in their favor. Just put them on the Limbaugh train and dare them to jump off. If they do, they may not make it. If they don't, they can keep hurtling toward oblivion. Nice work Rahm.

Free Blog Counter