Sunday, November 30, 2008

Until Something Interesting Happens in Wisconsin (Presumably after the Thanksgiving Holiday) You will Read About Pirates here at the Chief

*** A deal on the captured Ukranian ship carrying all kinds of old Soviet munitions is reached. Terms will probably not be disclosed any time soon, but the pirates were asking for $3 m.

*** More on private security contractors looking to hawk their services.

*** American shipping firms in Connecticut are monitoring the situation. (The entire shipping industry is hurting even without piracy right now)

*** Pirate communications.

*** No ties between pirates and al-Qaeda.

*** An interview with Santosh Patil (pictured being hugged by his mother below) after being released from pirate captivity:*** Dutch ships now taking the long way around Africa.

*** Why Piracy Pays.

*** Why U.S. involvement in Somalia is counterproductive.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

More Pirate-related Links

*** Here's a pretty laudatory article -- dated Nov. 24th -- on a company called Anti-Piracy Maritime Security Solutions (APMSS) that is using non-lethal means to repel pirate attacks:

All of the APMSS methods are non-lethal. [APMSS President Nick] Davis says, "We don't carry weapons at all. We use acoustic devices, which are basically long-distance, very directional, loud hailing systems. And these emit…150 decibels over a distance of about a nautical mile…. And to give you an idea of…the human pain threshold for sound is 121 decibels. So, it's pretty excruciating when you get within a short distance of this equipment, firing warning tones and messages at you."

So far, he says that APMSS has been 100 percent successful...

Not bad, but...

*** Here's a not-so-laudatory article published five days later:

Three men who jumped off their ship to escape from Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden have been identified as the vessel's security guards. But their employer is defending their actions.

The British-based security company AntiPiracy Maritime Security Solutions (APMSS) says the three men were not armed, and fled the Liberian-flagged chemical tanker Biscaglia on Friday only after mounting a "sustained" effort to repel the attackers.


*** Egypt is getting pissed at the pirates for forcing shipping companies to abandon the Suez Canal route through the Gulf of Aden, thus costing the country much lucrative revenue.

*** Why young sea-fearing men are saying "Screw fishing!" to take up piracy.

*** A look at the new leader of pirate-infested Puntland, Somalia -- a Canadian ex-pat who settled into a quiet retirement in Ottawa before going back to Africa.

*** Do the pirates give Barack Obama an occasion to start talks with Iran?

*** Pirates vs. Islamists (who have a history of harboring al-Qaeda).

*** Which country stands to be the most inconvenienced from Somali pirates: Germany.

*** The softer side of pirate-journalist relations. [via Gawker]

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thin Lizzy, "The Cowboy Song"

The Cultural Awesomeness of the Somali Pirates

They're everywhere. They're the hottest criminal enterprise on the face of the planet and it doesn't look like they're slowing down anytime soon.

*** They hijacked yet another ship, and on a day when they released a previously captured boat (which can only mean today's payday on the Horn of Africa).

*** They've taken to kidnapping journalists, thus enhancing the mystery behind their allure.

*** Some folks are positing that the pirates are actually operating under the auspices of the transitional, um, "government".

*** Here's the best one: an admiral in the Indian Navy isn't ruling out their involvement in the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, even though it's likely he's the only person in the universe who thinks this idea is anything but preposterous. So now they're receiving credit for dastardly acts they probably didn't even commit.

*** The pirates are hanging out with a "horse country socialite" who appears to be just as mysterious as they are.

*** Awesome 10 minutes YouTube story with interviews and shots of the pirate city of Eyl.

*** Here are few tips your company can learn from the pirates to optimize your business.

*** And now the pirates are looking to make a bid on Citigroup.

Well played, maties.

A (Belated) Happy Thanksgiving from the White House Chief of Staff in Waiting

Via Gawker.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Girl Talk, "Here's the Thing"

An Open Letter to State Senator Mary Lazich

Dear Madame Senator,

An electronic essay has recently come to our attention in which someone who claims to be a staffer in your legislative office advances the following proposition:

Ideally, fewer people, those who have actually studied and researched candidates and issues should vote. That may be a minority view, but it’s the correct view.
This is not the first time this person has made this claim -- which sounds vaguely like the literacy tests black voters were required to take during Jim Crow. Needless to say, voters might object to the reimplementation of this policy.

Your staffer's comments raise several questions that I would like answered as soon as possible.

*** First, do you plan on introducing legislation in the state Senate that would require voters in Wisconsin to pass an intelligence examination or achieve a certain degree of education before they are allowed to vote?

*** If so, what will the requirements be?

*** Second, who will be co-authoring and/or co-sponsoring this legislation with you?

*** Third, is the staffer in question speaking for your office?

Nowhere on his web site is there a disclaimer asserting that the opinions are his alone and that he is not speaking for his employer. In fact, in one recent post, he seems to trumpet the fact that he works on Capitol Square. Until we hear otherwise we will assume that what reflects published on your employee's web site is your office's official policy.

*** Lastly, and if the staffer is not speaking for your office, why is someone working for you who has a clearly demonstrable contempt for the voters of Wisconsin?
Is this indicative of how you run your office? And, most importantly, is your staffer's behavior what you call "public service"?

We await your reply.


The Chief

Jonathan Krause Really Needs to do Better than This

After a winding and fairly foolish examination of the current financial crisis Jonathan Krause thinks he can solve the nation's economic woes:

So for the umpteenth time, I'll say that until we address the root problem of our economic mess--too many people too far in debt--we can just look forward to crazy bailout plan after pointless bailout plan coming from Washington.

That's right folks, Krause's solution to the problem is stopping buying shit.

Krause is taking a pocketbook approach to an enormous problem -- I've never had to factor a derivative into balancing my checkbook at the end of the month. It's one thing to drone on and on and on about one of Krause favorite themes -- personal responsibility -- but the problem here isn't just that people are buying iPod's when they should be buying groceries or paying off they're mortgage, the problem is that they have been told by the financial professionals whom they have paid good money for guidance that they can do both.

We're not just talking about credit cards and payday loans here, as Krause seeems to think, we're talking about commercial paper markets and credit default swaps and transfers of money that make the $15,000 limit on your MasterCard look like pocket lint.

We're not where we are now beacuse people couldn't save money, we got here because ordinary people with bad finances were encouraged to take out crappy loans because loan officers were encouraged to offer said loans so that the bank could bundle them up and sell them as securities to other financial institutions.

Long story short, it was in the incentive structure of the loaners to provides folks with bad credit with loans because the banks they worked for would never have to pay the consequences of a loan (or all of them) defaulting (... or so they thought). In fact, loan officers were rewarded for the number of loans they were able to process and not necessarily for their quality. That creates a pretty blatant conflict of interest that inevitably led to a culture of giving "free money' to people that shouldn't have received it.

Krause irresponsibly plays small ball with this post. This claim is utter bullshit and ifentifies its author as being someone without a fucking clue what's going on in the financial sector these days:

"Those who have been responsible the past few years have plenty of credit options available to us."
Not so. In fact, many of the responsible players are getting screwed harder than anyone right now.

When banks started to realize that they were going to eat shit with all of these subprime loans the first thing they did was check and see how much money they owed to other financial institutions. Turns out that most banks owed a lot -- they were leveraged up the yin yang and needed to get cash quickly. Normally they would just go out and get a loan from another bank, but every other instituition was experience the same thing...

So what did they do?

Step 1.) Stop the bleeding.

No more loans. Period. After that, they looked around to how liquid they were. Not so much, was the answer. When banks stop offering loans, it's like the financial system stops breathing. When people stop breathing they start to panic and banks tend to opporate in the same manner -- that when they went to

Step 2.) Call in loans.

Get liquid in a hurry. Now who do you think they're going to go to for cash in this situation? The folks with the shitty loans who can basically walk away from their homes without any worries. Of course not! They're going to the folks with the money, the folks that, paradoxically, can actually grow the investment of the initial loan. When this happens the financial system basically starts working in retrograde: instead of money circulating throughout the economy it starts to flow back to a few central nodes (banks) in the system where it's horded to keep those banks above water at the expense of pretty much everyone else.

This is awfully close to a post-modern bank run, only instead of customers running to withdraw their savings, it's other financial institutions.

The thing that pisses me off about Krause's post is that it is completely devoid of even the slightest rudamentary knowledge of the subject he is discussing. Though he's talking about an economic issue, Krause ignores any actual discussion of, you know, economics in favor of grafting a populist-libertarian interpreatation of "economic fairness" on to the problem.

"Too many people too far in debt" is only a small part of the equation -- it's not a "root problem," in fact, it's actually a symptom of far larger institutionalized problems discussed above. Krause doesn't understand that because (apparently) it doesn't comport with his ideology. Well, there's a reason why economics is called "the dismal science" -- it's because pretty much nothing is fair.

The alternative to the "crazy bailouts" Krause so loaths is a catastrophic and instantaneous collapse of the American economy. The reverberations of such a disaster will ripple through even the most responsible of spenders. The social consequencies of such an economic armaggedon would be devestating and would take decades to recover from.

Krause's post reminded me of this post, the first thing I read off my RSS feed thins morning: Why CNN Struggles to Cover the Economic Panic. Krause is having the same problem, only where CNN has been clueless, Krause is being reckless.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Coconut Records, "West Coast"

Tuesday Evening Link Orgy

* Buy one truck ... get a second truck free?

* The world's most over-rated 527 packs it in (this might have something to do with it)

* The 10 Commandments of running a smooth Inauguration party

* The story behind the most celebrated newspaper error in journalism

* Michael Lewis and the End of Wall Street

* Something I'd never expected to read on Matt Yglasias' blog: "You really need to read [Jamie] Kirchick’s piece..."

* The best Ann-Coulter-got-her-mouth-wired-shut joke you'll read all day

* Russians are failing to live up to their well-earned reputation for drowing their economic sorrows in booze

Quote of the Day

I’ve worked in government. It’s hard to do much thinking there at all, let alone thinking anew.
William Kristol

Deep Thoughts

To anyone who laments the emasculation of the "White Man" in contemporary American society, I have only one thing to say to you:

Grow a pair.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Tuesday Morning Link Orgy

* If you thought the Wisconsin state legislature was going to have a helluva time correcting the $5+ billion dollar budget deficit, well, they'll get to it as soon as they figure out where everyone's offices are going to be

* David Kilcullen, who's theory of counterinsurgency could be described as "battlefield (a-hem) community organizing" is a badass: "Counterinsurgency is armed social work."

* Russians, feeling the economic pinch, stop building their enormous towers and -- most distressing of all -- are cutting down on their vodka consumption

* Two pretentious French literary types lash back at critics and the results are awesome:

* Solving the (institutionalized) Somali piracy problem with an iron fist

* The 101 Dumbest Business Moves of 2008

YouTube Escalation

I see your awesome special teams layout and raise you an airplane crashing in the middle of a goddamn baseball game:

[via Coed]

Next Time I Predict an Impending Economic Catastrophe, You All Better Listen

Damn, I'm good.

Written on August 5th, 2007 (or, over 13 months before Lehman Brothers collapsed):

The sandwich board-wearing doomsday crier in me tends to think that there will likely be a recession sometime in the next 18 months.


Let me first say that I’m probably in the minority opinion on this one (for what it’s worth), but the Cliff’s Notes version of this song and dance is that volatility in the housing and money markets will make the lives of people who live and die on credit or loans very difficult. That’s everyone from the private equity firm manager who needs to borrow tens of millions of dollars to buyout a company to the guy who uses one credit card to pay off another. It’ll be something of a credit reckoning that will force people and businesses to reassess just what kind of financial footing they stand on and I’m afraid that’s not something a lot of folks are ready to do and will likely result in a decrease in domestic consumer spending, a lot of which has been based on some form of borrowing of late.

Most people would say that any expectations of a recession are indicative of a Malthusian pessimism, that the market will “correct” itself soon enough. They could be right. But there hasn’t been a recession since the early 1990s (some people don’t count the economic discord that followed the dot com fizzle and 9/11 as a “real” recession) and there are those who would argue that we’re due.

The reason the “we’re due” line of thinking strikes me as a little more substantial than it may seem at first is that for about 20 years now the financial services sector has been developing or increasingly utilizing new institutions and methods that have made a lot of money for a lot of people. Some of these methods, like sub-prime loans, have turned out to be not as stable as they probably looked on paper not long ago – and I’d be willing to wager that there are a few other schemes out there that we just haven’t heard of yet that will suffer a similar fate.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

You Know What Could Really Save the GOP Right About Now? Taking a Valiant and Aggressive Stance on a Total Non-Issue (or, Wither Good Faith?)

From Matt Yglasias, on Nov. 8th:
Am I the only one who’s confused by all this conservative organizing against the re-imposition of the “fairness doctrine” on talk radio? I understand why they oppose that move, but why are they putting so much energy into blocking something that nobody is trying to do. A Fairness Act bill was submitted in the House in 2005, but it only 16 cosponsors. No such bill was submitted in the last conference. Barack Obama opposes reintroducing the Fairness Act. And speaking as a paid-up member of the vast left-wing conspiracy, nobody on our side is getting any marching orders about this.
Keeping this in mind, let's deconstruct how a right wing talking point bounces around the echo chamber which is the Cheddarsphere:

This morning, Patrick McIlheran's column in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel focused on a matter of life and death: the fairness doctrine. McIlheran columns generally find their roots in essays and/or articles published by elite East Coast conservative publications (like NRO or the Weekly Standard) several weeks prior to his own spin. Today's is no different. He cites Brian C. Anderson, an editor at the wonderful conservative periodical published by the Manhattan Institute, City Journal:
Obama, nominally, has forsworn the old Fairness Doctrine, in which any broadcast opinion could be permitted only with equal time for opposing views. Other Democrats haven't. "This has sort of been circulating at the top levels of the party for some time," said Brian C. Anderson, editor of City Journal and co-author of a new book, "A Manifesto for Media Freedom." Top congressional Democrats have favored such rules. If they pass them, would Obama veto? Anderson thinks not.
I don't know how Anderson came to McIlheran's attention, but Anderson did author an op-ed in the New York Post regarding on the Fairness Doctrine on Oct. 20th. Anderson's own words aren't all that much different as they are presented through McIlheran:
Yes, the Obama campaign said some months back that the candidate doesn't seek to re-impose this regulation, which, until Ronald Reagan's FCC phased it out in the 1980s, required TV and radio broadcasters to give balanced airtime to opposing viewpoints or face steep fines or even loss of license. But most Democrats - including party elders Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry and Al Gore - strongly support the idea of mandating "fairness."

Would a President Obama veto a new Fairness Doctrine if Congress enacted one? It's doubtful.
(If this sounds familiar its because its essentially the exact same logical formation of the paragraph cited above in McIlheran's column.)

Now here's what I find astonishing: although both Anderson and McIlheran concede that Barack Obama is publicly on the record as not supporting the reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine, both author's simply refuse to take him at his word.

Here's the policy position as it was outlined in January in Broadcasting and Cable:

"Sen. Obama does not support reimposing the Fairness Doctrine on broadcasters," press secretary Michael Ortiz said in an e-mail to B&C late Wednesday.

"He considers this debate to be a distraction from the conversation we should be having about opening up the airwaves and modern communications to as many diverse viewpoints as possible," Ortiz added.
That's about as clear a policy position as anyone is every going to get from someone working in Washington. Do you support X? No. End of story.

But, of course, it's not the end of the story -- not so far as Anderson and McIlheran are concerned. Instead of just accepting Obama's position -- a position both gentlemen agree with -- both men seem the astonishing: absent any evidence to back up their claim -- and contrary to the very official statement released by the campaign, they promote the idea that Obama does, in fact, support the fairness doctrine.

This breach of good faith argumentation genuinely makes my head ache.

Where are the secret memos advising legislators to unleash the Fairness Doctrine bills in the next congress? What about the discretely recorded speeches at fund-raisers with Obama telling liberal contributors that the first thing he's going to do is shut down Rush Limbaugh and the rest of his ilk? Were are the college classmates who remember Obama arguing passionately in his Intro to Comm Law class for the reinstatement of the Doctrine?

Anderson's article, which McIlheran merely appropriates, offers absolutely no evidence to support his claim that Obama actually support the Fairness doctrine. Instead, Anderson glosses over what the broadcasting industry would look like if it were reinstated. No substance, but plenty of tangentially related speculation.

Absent any empirical evidence to the contrary, the only thing we have to go on is Obama's word, which neither Anderson nor McIlheran seem satisfied with, which might strike some as odd since Obama's position is also Anderson and McIlerhan's position!

I think we all know why this is the case: it's better to be on the offensive -- and to smite one's enemies -- than to expend valuable column inches on defending, justifying, or admonishing one's colleagues with regards to the phenomenal failure the party and ideology has been during the last eight years.

That would take a degree of intellectual courage that McIlheran frankly doesn't have the balls for.

Those are the first two layers of this echo. The third comes via Charlie Sykes, who has a vested interest in both following any and every blips on the Fairness Doctrine radar. Sykes doesn't add a goddamn thing to the conversation -- because, God forbid, he should do something on his blog other than just cut and paste another author's material -- but he does pass on the story to folks like Mary Eden who are now discussing the Fairness Doctrine in her own terms:
I find this murmuring about reenacting some incarnation of the Fairness Doctrine and creating advisory boards to sit in judgment to determine what should or should not be allowed on the air to be truly alarming. Putting such policies in place would clearly be an affront to civil liberties.
There are no murmurs "
about reenacting some incarnation of the Fairness Doctrine and creating advisory boards" -- this is simply speculation by people who don't support the Doctrine to begin with. Again, let's go back to Obama's position on the FD:

"Sen. Obama does not support reimposing the Fairness Doctrine on broadcasters," press secretary Michael Ortiz said in an e-mail to B&C late Wednesday.

"He considers this debate to be a distraction from the conversation we should be having about opening up the airwaves and modern communications to as many diverse viewpoints as possible," Ortiz added.
I don't see a goddamn thing about advisory boards or incarnations or any of the nonsense Mary's trying to pass off. It's simply not there, which is perhaps to be expected from such a knee-jerk ideologue.

(Really, you're going to criticize the guy for not repealing the Bush tax cuts immediately? Is it no longer opportune to call the guy a socialist any more? Now he was just lying about being a socialist? Run with that one, Mary -- by all means. I'm sure it will go over real well ...)

There are dozens of more important things to worry about at this moment: the economy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- hell, piracy in Somalia is an order magnitude of more importance than the Fairness Doctrine in my book. It's an anachronism that has no prayer of seeing the light of legislative day ever again -- and, if by some freak occurrence it somehow did, some legislator would be smart enough to tie net neutrality to any proposed legislation thus making it a package that neither the left nor the right would want to touch.

So, please Mssrs. Sykes, McIlheran, Anderson and Ms. Eden -- by all means, zealously fight for a topic most people don't care all that much about -- the adults will take care of the real problems.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Palin '12 !!!




Thursday, November 20, 2008

Note to Wisconsin Bloggers: Please do be More Original with Your Content

This does not count as adding to the substance of a previous blogger's point.

It's not plagiarism, but it's certainly closer to it than original content.

Right from the Right, as posted at 10:17 a.m. on Nov. 20th:

Which looks an awful lot like, this post from Philip Klein at the American Spectator's blog posted at 5:44 p.m. on No. 19th:

That will be all.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Made in Wausau

I have only two words to describe the below: fucking awesome!

The University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Wausau, Wis., company have come up with a 37-inch, bullet and bomb-proof Humvee tire based on a polymeric web so cool looking there's no need for hub caps.

Resilient Technologies and Wisconsin-Madison's Polymer Engineering Center are creating a "non-pneumatic tire" (no air required) that will support the weight of add-on armor, survive an IED attack, and still make a 50 mph getaway. It's basically a round honeycomb wrapped with a thick, black tread.

Wallace, Sykes and a Whole Bunch of Stuff about the Talk Radio Meta-Narrative in Wisconsin

Rob Mentzer is chiming in on the lastest "most egregious assault on talk radio's First Amendment rights this side of the Fairness Doctrine" (or whatever the talking points are ... talk radio's never been accused of choosing the measured and considerate reportage scalpel when the hyperbole cudgel was also lying next to the operating table) by doing the only sensible thing one can do in these circumstances: outsource his response to David Foster Wallace.

Dan Shelley's article in Milwaukee Magazine is serviceable, but wowless. The big picture revelation in the piece -- that Charlie Sykes is a talented prick -- should be derived by any listener who sacrifices a half hour of his life listening to the radio show. Mentzer is entirely correct about about the article suffering from a lack of reporting, but personally, my biggest critique with Shelley's expose is that it's largely about Dan Shelley.

(Anyone interested in seeing how the insider tell-all is really done, get thee once more to the pages of the Atlantic, this time to Matthew Scully's -- the GOP's best speech-writer and former guest on Tony Palmeri's radio show-- amazing "Present at the Creation," which is a clinic on dirt-dishing).

Not that Shelley isn't providing readers with an interesting insight into one of the three faces if Charlie Sykes.

Sykes operates on three platforms. On the radio he's a populist enemy of the media and liberal "elites" -- your classic right-wing blowhard. On television, however, Sykes plays the more moderate role of a mediator facilitating animated, yet civil, discourse on local issues. Then there are his print pieces at places like the WPRI or or the American Thinker, which tend to reek of an author who very desperately wants a place in the pantheon of the Conservative Commentariat -- or, to put it another way, it's the "intellectual elite" side of Sykes he so loves to rail against on air.

This last point is somewhat discernible on his blog at WTMJ -- but let's face it, Sykes Writes isn't so much of a blog as it is an invitation to read over Charlie's shoulder as he eats breakfast. It's short on original content and long on quoting other authors. The generous way of looking at Sykes' blog is that it serves as little more than a supplement to and promotional tool for the radio show. I prefer to think of it as a daily BFF collage to to Sykes' ego confidence in his own ideology.

There's nothing wrong with Sykes wearing a different hat according to what audience he is speaking to. Personally, I genuinely don't find anything wrong with someone who bashes the "elites" on the radio while simultaneously holding the title of "Fellow" at the WPRI -- one may even praise his versatility ... I just think it's piss poor brand management and counterproductive in terms of vertical integration. If you're going to be a fire-breathing, red meat-eating conservative populist blowhard, be one on every platform you operate on and not just the one that allows you the liberty generating canned applause at the push of a sound board's button.

The most interesting thing about Shelley's piece in Milwaukee Magazine was could be considered his loose prediction of how Sykes would respond to the article:

This brings us to perhaps the most ironic thing about most talk show hosts. Though they may savage politicians and others they oppose, they fear criticism or critiques of any kind. They can dish it out, but they can’t take it.

Sykes blog post on the article is a frenzied and clearly rushed piece that would have been far more succinct if he would have just wrote "Naa-ah! It didn't happy like that! You're a poopy pants!" Instead Sykes degrades himself by writing such luminous sentences as
What a load of crappy crap crap.
I'll give Sykes the benefit of the doubt and assume he's deploying some ironic rhetoric in this case. The sad thing is, however, that the argument can be made that this line was written with all the sincerity of a toddler who believes he has been wronged in a manner that he simply doesn't know is negligible.

Instead of such gross displays of infantilism Skykes should have done as Mentzer did and take a lesson in responding to public criticism from ... David Foster Wallace.

Two months after "Host" was initially published in the Atlantic, John Ziegler, the subject of DFW's piece, published a letter that offered faint praise and a critique of both "Host" and DFW's refusal to do an interview for air (not to mention some shameless self-promotion of his own radio show). The editor's reply was simple, brief and to the point:
Wallace has turned down a dozen requests to do radio interviews. He works in print.
It's not exactly an excuse Sykes can use given that he works in many media, but there is a larger wisdom to this reply: let it go. Wallace was no doubt pilloried on the air by any number of radio talkers who found offense at the piece, but there's nothing further on the matter to be found from DFW. He simply let it go.

"Host" is an amazing essay -- as is pretty much everything Wallace wrote -- but "Host" both captures the essence of its protagonist subject while using using John Ziegler as a stand-in for regional talk radio hosts across the country. It's not a terrible stretch to see Ziegler and Sykes essentially occupying the same astral plane. They may have very different backgrounds, but they're both on-air hotheads who seem doomed to haunt the smaller market limbos on the AM dial like the ghost of Hamlet's father (who in this analogy can't seem to reach the Elysian Fields of national syndication).

I got to listen to DFW do a book reading when "Consider the Lobster," the collection of essays which includes "Host," was published. During the Q & A session, someone in the audience asked a great question and one that I had been dying to know the answer to after reading "Host" when it originally appeared in the Atlantic: what did he, David Foster Wallace, personally think about Ziegler? It's not quite evident in DFW's article -- largely because the author does an enchanting job being as objective as humanly possible and even praising Ziegler at times for his various skills as a broadcaster.

Wallace grinned at the question and started weighing aloud Ziegler's virtues and frailties, going back and forth between pros and cons for a minute or two before finally abandoning his response to render a final judgment: if I recall correctly, I believe the phrase "a pretty detestable human being" were the final words he used before moving on to the next question from the audience.

I Do Not Need Your Praise ... (Wink, Wink, Nudge, Nudge)

Allow me to translate Sean Hackbarth:
Please, I'm begging you to nominate my blog for a Webbie!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

White Pride Vince

For some unintentionally hilarious blogging, stop by The Conservative, an absolutely masterpiece of blind paranoia. Vince, the proprietor of said blog genuinely believes Barack Obama is the Antichrist (and has some, to be kind, less than profound things to say about race in America).

Here's a highlight from White Pride Vince's ouvre:

I believe Obama is God's chosen vessel to bring about the destruction of America ... We cannot survive an Obama presidency. I believe he is the predecessor to the Anti-Christ.

White Pride Vince should get together with Peter "the Hit Man" DiGaudio for some kind of collaborative project that advances the cause of online douchebaggery in Wisconsin. This way their collective efforts won't overlap and readers can do some good old fashioned one-stop-shopping for senseless commentary.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Once is a Fluke, Twice is a Trend ...

I can see why folks were a wee bit pissed at the Gov. Palin-related backbiting, but I'm sure those same folks can kinda understand where it was coming from: political operatives trying to salvage their professional reputations by drawing the long knives, etc.

In other words, it's easy to dismiss all the criticism over her involvement in McCain's campaign as just the inevitable scapegoating -- but when you read something like this, you really have to start to wonder just how much ill-will Palin is generating among her colleagues:

Some Republican governors tell CNN they were not particularly happy with the way the Republican Governors Association press conference was executed Thursday, saying that they agreed to go as a show of GOP governors’ unity — but they ended up feeling like silent Palin supporters, since it was clearly a press conference called for her.

The GOP governors spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity.

One called it awkward: “I’m sure you could see it on some of our faces.”

Another Republican governor eyeing a presidential run in 2012 told CNN the event was “odd” and “weird,” and said it “unfortunately sent a message that she was the de facto leader of the party."

There has been palpable tension among some GOP governors gathered in Miami that Palin has been sucking up all the media oxygen.

I'm sure some "working class Republicans" -- we're looking at you, Kathy Carpenter -- who see Palin as some sort of future leader of the GOP will find yet more excuses for her, but let's all please come to grips with what's going on here: these are not disgruntled staffers -- these are sitting Governors -- and while any number of them have motive to trash Palin in the press to advance their own national office interests, it's still pretty embarrassing that they have been given such an ample opportunity to do so so quickly after the election.

That being said, we'd like to take this opportunity to whole-heartedly endorse Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be the Republican nomination for the Presidency in the year 2012.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008