Monday, December 25, 2006
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Monday, December 18, 2006
Many people have taken issue with Time magazines' decision to name "You", the controller of the Information Age, the Person of the Year. Most have criticized it as a cheezy cop out.
But in your Chicago Sun-Times, Neil Steinberg says it was a bad choice because "You" just ain't very good at content creation and you should leave it to pros like Steinberg:
It is a curious choice, particularly if we ask ourselves: OK, if we're content providers, what content have we provided?Perhaps Mr. Steinberg is right.
Well, I've got this column here, but that isn't really the epoch- shattering change they have in mind, since I get paid. Rather, it is the blog you may run, sharing the secret murmurings of your heart, or the area of MySpace.com you have homesteaded out, with your favorite songs and photos of your pals -- the inside of your high school locker door, basically, writ in cyberspace.
Somehow, taken together, it just doesn't seem the most significant personage of 2006. Yes, the video-sharing site YouTube was purchased in October by Google for $1.65 billion. And what content have we, the people of the year, provided for that? Teenage girls lip-syncing to popular songs in their bedrooms. Lots of pets and babies and snippets from TV shows.
Actually, a whole lot of snippets from TV shows. And excerpts from professional sports. The truth is that most of the new amateur content that people are watching on YouTube is the same old commercial content in a new box -- Nike ads are also very big. Even "Lonelygirl" -- who seemed to be a creepy teen confessing her skewed life to the camera -- turned out to be a ploy by professional moviemakers.
Yes, occasionally some truly amateur clip will grip the public for a moment -- a fat boy dancing, a very good guitarist. But there aren't many of those, and the ones that do pop up never come back with a decent second act.
You can only take so much amateur hour. It gets old. I just logged on to YouTube now, and the first three featured videos are "Handfarting the Star Spangled Banner," "Spit Art" and "Pickup to Electronic Snare Drum." And if that doesn't send you racing to the Web site, I can't say I blame you.
You can see how Time made its mistake. On its Web site's "Person of the Year" straw poll, the short list was George W. Bush, Kim Jong Il, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Nancy Pelosi, Condoleezza Rice, Al Gore, Hugo Chavez and "The YouTube Guys."
Well, Bush already got it twice this decade. Kim, Chavez, Rice or Gore didn't exactly dominate the year. The editors no doubt cringed away from Ahmadinejad and Pelosi. Which left "The YouTube Guys," which probably seemed unwise, picking a duo that few could even name.
It'll create good PR -- the point of the annual stunt -- and introduce the New Year's Eve Season of Introspection. But don't buy all this new virtual democracy stuff. Maybe we'll all be logging en masse on to YouTube next year to watch kittens play with balls of yarn. But I doubt it. At least I hope not.
Maybe the democratization of the media has no place in a society like ours and we should just leave the role of commentary to seasoned professionals like Neil.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
The publisher of Harper's Magazine, John R. MacArthur, takes a look at the myth of Rahm Emanuel's strategy for victory:
Now, a month into the new Democratic majority, it's possible to conclude that Americans voted for oversight—and the more distant hope of withdrawal from Iraq—without fully understanding how pro-war (or if you prefer, anti-anti-war) the opposition party really is.I wouldn't even mind Rep. Emanuel's retroactively taking credit for an anti-war Democratic victory, if I believed for a minute that he would work for an anti-war Democratic Congress.
To analyze this paradox it's necessary to consider the work of Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D.-Ill.), the hatchetman for Bill and Hillary Clinton and boss of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Emanuel labored hard to keep strongly anti-war candidates off the Democratic line and slate Iraq equivocators instead.
Emanuel's most publicized recruit was Tammy Duckworth, the former Army helicopter pilot who lost both her legs in Iraq. With national-party backing, Duckworth defeated the more anti-war Christine Cegelis in the primary in Illinois's 6th District (Senator Clinton's native grounds). But despite her martyrdom, Duckworth's cautiously critical position on Iraq (“we can't just pull up stakes and create a security vacuum”) wasn't enough to defeat the Republican Peter Roskam in the general election.
Of the 22 Democratic candidates initially backed by Emanuel and his sponsors in the Clinton machine, only one, Peter Welch in Vermont, favored speedy withdrawal from Iraq. Welch won easily. Of the other 21, only 8 were victorious last month. And one of Emanuel's original picks, Steve Filson, didn't make it past his anti-war primary opponent, Jerry McNerney, who prevailed decisively over the incumbent Republican in California's 11th District.
Before the election, Emanuel and his Senate counterpart, Charles Schumer, pleaded “pragmatism”—that the Democrats couldn't be seen as the party of “cut and run” if they wanted to attract “moderate” voters. After the election, Emanuel made a quick costume change, and brazenly retailed a story to The New York Times that portrayed him as the architect of a “brilliant” strategy that exploited the mounting anti-war sentiment in the country.
Under the headline, “Democrats Turned War into an Ally” the Times's credulous political reporters parroted Emanuel, saying that “the Democratic strategy of running against the war, which would have seemed impossibly risky three months earlier, when the White House had urged its candidates to embrace the war, was encouraged by poll after poll, not to mention regular reports of American casualties.”
Impossibly risky? What nonsense. Polls showed majority support for withdrawal in early August, and anger over Iraq dates back much further. That's what encouraged long-shot candidates like Webb to challenge entrenched, pro-war incumbents.
If so, he is the world's smartest fool:
Gingrich cited last month's ejection of six Muslim scholars from a plane in Minneapolis for suspicious behavior, which included reports they prayed before the flight and had sat in the same seats as the Sept. 11 hijackers.Mr. Gingrich did not explain exactly how citizens were protected from the praying clergy men.
"Those six people should have been arrested and prosecuted for pretending to be terrorists," Gingrich said. "And the crew of the U.S. airplane should have been invited to the White House and congratulated for being correct in the protection of citizens."
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
But walking away wasn't Will's style. He always felt something would turn up, even though nothing ever did, or even could, most of the time.When Tony Snow finally informs us that Iraq is "closed on Saturday afternoons," try to look surprised.
Once, years ago, when he was a kid, he told a schoolfriend (having first ascertained that this friend was not a C.S. Lewis fan) that it was possible to walk through the back of his wardrobe into a different world, and invited him round to explore. He could have canceled, he could have told him anything, but he was not prepared to suffer a moment's mild embarrassment if there was no immediate need to do so, and the two of them scrabbled around among the coat hangers for several minutes until Will mumbled something about the world being closed on Saturday afternoons.
The thing was, he could still remember feeling genuinely hopeful, right up until the last minute: Maybe there will be something there, he had thought, maybe I won't lose face. There wasn't, and he did, loads of it, a whole headful of face, but he hadn't leart a thing from the experience: if anything, it seemed to have left him with the feeling that he was bound to be lucky next time.
Monday, December 11, 2006
You may be sending the wrong message to half-wits like CNN's Jeff Greenfield.
Via the Swamp:
Good evening, I’m Senator Barack Obama.video via Bridget:
I’m here tonight to answer some questions about a very important contest that’s been weighing on the minds of the American people.
This is a contest about the future. A contest between two very different philosophies. A contest that will ultimately be decided in America’s heartland.
In Chicago, they’re asking, does the new guy have enough experience to lead us to victory?
In St. Louis, they’re wondering, are we facing a record that’s really so formidable? Or is it all just a bunch of hype?
Let me tell you – I’m all too familiar with these questions.
So tonight I’d like to put all the doubts to rest. And tonight, after a lot of thought and a good deal of soul-searching, I would like to announce to my hometown of Chicago and all of America that I’m ready….
…for the Bears to go all the way!
Sunday, December 10, 2006
As a member of the House International Relations Committee, he backed President Bush's decision to invade Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from power. But Hyde, the committee chairman the last two years, said he was troubled from the beginning that the war lacked enough support from the international community.Hyde also reflected on the House of Representatives under the leadership of Denny Hastert:
"Right now, I think it's a question of saving as much honor as we can. But I am afraid it is Vietnam again," he said.
"We've had a failure of cooperation from other countries as well as from our opinion molders, so it hasn't been a positive thing for America."
Hyde believes pressure will build from the American people for Congress to withdraw funds for military operations in Iraq to stop U.S. involvement.
"The issues of corruption ... were disgraceful, sickening and costly," he said. "I think the war might have been defended alone, but I don't think coupled with the corruption. We saw members of Congress with serious involvement. I just don't know what more could go wrong."
Saturday, December 09, 2006
A survey of more than 1,000 men in India has concluded that condoms made according to international sizes are too large for a majority of Indian men.USA! USA! USA!
The study found that more than half of the men measured had penises that were shorter than international standards for condoms.
The issue is serious because about one in every five times a condom is used in India it either falls off or tears, an extremely high failure rate.
Friday, December 08, 2006
Three senators have asked the Pentagon to open an investigation into allegations of inadequate treatment — and even punishment — of soldiers at Fort Carson who seek help or treatment for mental health problems after returning from Iraq.more...
The allegations were made by soldiers who said their superiors refused to allow them to seek treatment for mental health problems. One was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer of California and Barack Obama of Illinois and Republican Kit Bond of Missouri said Thursday the soldier’s allegations, reported by National Public Radio, brought up a “grave concern” that service personnel weren’t receiving adequate treatment. In the report, two sergeants said they often refused to allow soldiers under their command to attend mental health treatment sessions.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Fordham thought he made it clear that his old boss needed to quit, but Foley couldn't bring himself to do that. The N.R.C.C. headquarters was around the corner, and Fordham made it his next stop. There he found Representative Reynolds and Speaker Hastert. But before he could finish relaying the awful news, Reynolds's face got purple and he began to shout, "He needs to resign, and he needs to do it right now!" The Speaker just sat there, silent, according to Fordham: "He didn't react at all. This was weeks before the election, and they're thinking how this is going to impact us." ***via TPMmuckraker (emphasis mine)
Hastert, believing the leadership needed to present a united front, as one by one his colleagues were repudiating his foggy recollections, called a Republican-leadership meeting. That same day, an ethics-committee investigation was pressed for by Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (over the objections of those who wanted an independent counsel), its purpose to discover who knew what when about Foley. Blunt, Boehner, and Reynolds were all summoned "to basically get their stories straight for the press," according to a knowledgeable source, who adds, "That to me is where Hastert attempted a cover-up."
Reynolds balked at having such a meeting. "This is stupid! We can't all go and meet privately and try to get our stories straight, because this matter was just referred to the ethics committee," he told Hastert, according to the same source. "In fact, none of us are supposed to be talking to each other, because we are not supposed to talk to potential witnesses." Worse, added Reynolds, "I can tell you anything we say at this leadership meeting is something we have to share with the ethics committee."
The meeting eventually became a conference call, but without Reynolds's participation.
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