Thursday, January 31, 2008

There Really is a Web Site for Everything

[via Heeb]

Nader '08: Wha -- frickin' -- hoo

There are a number of people in Oshkosh who have an affinity for Ralph Nader, so I'll try to carry on in this vein with a modicum of respect, but haven't we seen this before?

I'm not talking about the "spoiler" label from back in 2000 (I'll let others whine incessantly about that), but rather his dismal 2004 campaign. If the last time around is any indication then this is exactly what to expect this time around:

Phase 1: Announce candidacy, claim to be the candidate of change and progressive values and say things like "The system's broken!" or, more likely, "Multinational corporations are threatening the fabric of our democracy utilizing a monopoly of power that they have unjustly stolen from the people ... [snoring]"

Whoa! Sorry about that -- must've dozed off there for a second. Anyway, you get the point: Big guys are screwing the little guys, only what can be said in seven words Ralph will inevitably use 700. Republicans will chortle, maybe even give him some money. Most people will ignore him.

Phase 2: Most people, that is except for the Democrats, who will sue the bejesus out of him in an effort to keep him off as many ballots as possible.

Phase 3: Nader will come out and say something like "I'm the victim of powerful special interests who wish to silence me through a conspiracy of legal retribution!" This will partially correct. There won't actually be any "conspiracy" since it will be done very publicly and out in the open. Chances are the Democrats will win a few of these legal battles. Nader grumbles.

Phase 4: Nader gets shut out of the debates, gets almost no attention from the media, and raises no money. Rather than assume this is because his messaging sucks, or that he's ungodly boring, or that his campaign advisers do a wake and bake every morning before they arrive at the headquarters he blames "the corporate media."

And right here is the putative end of Nader's campaign. This point -- it's not my fault, it's the fault of the corporate media -- which he will inevitably make (even if it is true) is where he stops being the standard bearer of progressive values/causes and starts becoming the Left's Alan Keyes because the message no longer has anything really to do with causes or the media and now has everything to do with Ralph Nader.

Nader's campaigns amount to little more than glorified lecture tours. The Democrats are going to do everything in their power to make his life a living hell this next year and I don't blame them for doing so. There are a lot of people, both Democrats and Republicans, who would like to see their names on the November ticket, but they agreed to do things the hard way through the party system. Nader has every right to do what can for an independent bid, but he should expect to be treated like on of the big boys when he does. It's the cover charge to this night club.

* Here's what Wonkette had to say about the Nader news.

* Here a great McSweeny's spoof on Nader's legacy.

I Believe There's Some Kind of Professional Sporting Event this Weekend

I know the SuperBowl is going to be kind of a bummer for most folks here, but to assuage your grief here are some Big Game-related links to help get you in the mood for America's most cherished secular holiday:

* To supplement our earlier comprehensive History of the Bud Bowl, here's an interview with the advertising guru who came up with the original idea.

* The 10 All-time Worst Choices for SuperBowl Half-time Performer.

* From the Onion: Professional Sports is Very Interesting.

* A Patriots win might have implications on Super Tuesday, since that's when the team plans on holding their "hypothetical" victory celebration.

* And if screwing with our electoral system wasn't enough for the Patriots, a win by New England will also send the stock market into a death spiral.

* Have we mentioned that New England sports fans are horrible, awful, soulless people? (Why, yes, we have indeed...)

* Football ... for the ladies.

How White are Your Knuckles?

Because they're only going to get whiter ...

Romney's Done

This as good a white flag as any:

The multi-millionaire businessman has self-funded much of his presidential bid - the full extent has not yet been revealed. Now, however, he’s not buying any advertising for any of the 21 Super Tuesday states.

Fred Heads for Mitt, to whom will you turn now?

NOT SO FAST: This report says otherwise, but the ad buy still seems somewhat underwhelming.

Stop Having Sex

The War on Contraception, in cartoon form.

Who is Screwing Up the GOP?

Well, everyone, really ... Talk radio, the evangelicals, FOX, the whole think tank apparatus in DC -- you name it, they are probably doing something stupid even as we speak.

But here's segment of the Grand ol' Coalition that you don't hear about getting much flak: the consultants. These guys have done pretty well for themselves in recent memory but you really have to start asking yourself, "What, exactly, the fuck are they up to these days?"

This was a problem the Democrats had for seemingly ever, but it appears to be endemic among Republicans this year. Here's what John Heilemann had to say about Rudy's demise:

There are two broad prevailing theories about how Giuliani lost his mojo. The first revolves around the campaign that he and his team engineered. It contends that he was nuts to effectively blow off the first month of the nominating process and to place all his chips on Florida. That his operation was insular and parochial, dominated by his old City Hall inner circle. That its expenditures were out of control. As John Ellis asks at RealClearPolitics, “Where did all of Giuliani’s money go? He raised, as I understand it, roughly $45 million. He competed in one primary. He did not spend $45 million in Florida … How much were his consultants paid? The ones who dreamed up the ‘don’t-compete-and-win’ strategy? How much (in percentage terms) went to private aviation?”

[The second prevailing theory is, as we here at the Chief have said before, that Giuliani's a dick.]

Private aviation? That's not a small detail -- and it's important for a campaign to have it's own transportation -- but I'll bet Rudy was flying just as well as he liked to do before he started running. Here's the funny part about the flying business: the guy who's going to win the GOP nomination -- John McCain -- was flying coach just a few months ago. And so was the guy who might be his running mate ...

And perhaps now would be a good time to remind everyone that the reason McCain was flying coach in the first place was because of his ... wait for it ... consultants. They had sucked his campaign coffers dry and then split when the going got rough. In fact, McCain's mid-summer's campaign staff massacre was probably the best thing that happened to him this year, a strange sort of blessing in disguise that forced him to get back to the basics that made him popular in the first place.

Katie Rosenberg was on to something when she pointed out the NY Times postmortem on Giuliani ... it'd be interesting to see if she has anything more to add.

Anyway, there's a theory of warfare that runs something like this: it doesn't matter what the advantages one side might have -- technology, intelligence, even numbers -- they will always lose to an opponent with more fight in their belly. Right now it seems like the size of the fight in the GOP's consultancy class is minimal and that will mean, no matter who the nominee is, Republicans are going to get slaughtered in November.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


This is a bold statement for a Republican:
Thomas Jefferson was right and Alexander Hamilton was wrong.


James Chitwood also wants a piece of the 53rd's action.


Here's the thing about John Edwards: if he were somehow able to combine the Two Americas campaign he ran '04 with the Eat the Rich campaign he ran this time around, he might have done a lot better. Then again, the sunshine and rainbows candidate this cycle is Obama, so it was perhaps wise of Edwards to lay thick the vitriol and try to tap into the resentment a lot of Democratic voters have been experiencing over the last seven years.

Despite what Charles Krauthammer says, Edwards gained by running again. If he backs the right candidate he can probably pick-up a minimum of a cabinet seat, maybe even the VP nod.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Giuliani Done

Rudy will endorse McCain sometime soon.

There will likely be a lot of postmortems but here's the short version:

Crappy Candidate.
Crappy Advisers.
Crappy Electoral Strategy.
Crappy Media Strategy.
Crappy Fundraising Effort.

Rudy was living on borrowed time almost from the get-go, it just took GOP voters a long time to figure that out. Almost every other candidate out-shines Giuliani in some way: McCain's foreign policy experience is stronger, Huckabee is more approachable and funnier, Romney's management skills in the private sector are more extensive, and Rudy's conservative heresies are far more plentiful than all of them put together.

The Television

* I have very mixed feelings about Family Guy, but this interview with creator Seth MacFarlane is hysterical.

* I stopped watching The Real World after the first season, but was briefly brought back into the fold when a friend at a wedding told me how absolutely awesome The Real World: Seattle was ... and now we can all relive one of the strangest moments of proto-reality TV.

* The Bud Bowl: An Authoritative History.

* And for all the Lost fans out there, check out this re-sequencing of the Crash of Flight 815.
It must have been the recurring images of Floridians walking in and out of ballot booths on the news this morning that gave me a nagging sense of impending doom for democracy.

So I skipped lunch, went down to City Hall and voted early. Just in case ... because you never know ...

Rudy Death Watch: Day 19 (Cont.)

Rudy's killing time by doing doing some phone-banking today and getting shelled by the press (who have some more details on the Charlie Crist endorsement). He's acknowledged this whole Florida thing maybe wasn't the best idea. Republican bloggers are turning on him.

And James Antle at the American Spectator remind us all where this started: "Until the news broke that some Giuliani staffers were forgoing paychecks, we didn't tend to think of that campaign as having problems."

Hey, that's when we started our Rudy Death Watch ...

Rudy Death Watch: Day 19 (Cont.)

Craig Crawford is talking with Joe Scarborough right now on TV and just made the most succinct assessment of Giuliani's campaign you will find anywhere:

Scarborough: What happened with Giuliani's campaign?

Crawford: He campaigned. Everywhere he went his numbers went down.

There. That's it. That's all you need to know about the Giuliani campaign in a nutshell. Crawford went on to explain that Rudy would give the same stump speech to college students in Iowa that he would give to old women in New Hampshire. In some ways, Crawford said, Giuliani was just as lazy as Fed Thompson. I couldn't agree more, but Crawford also has to factor in the small detail that Giuliani is a dick. Obama can probably get away with giving the same stump speech to different demographics (though he's certainly smarter than that) -- Guiliani can not. He's too abrasive and awkward and on at least a subconscious level this rubs people the wrong way.

Anyone Else?

Dick Spanbauer's back for more, making it a three way race for the GOP nomination in the 53rd.

Spanbauer will likely benefit from the name recognition that comes with having run before.

Rudy Death Watch: Day 19

I'll be astonished if Rudy's still around by the end of the day. We said a few weeks ago that he had the most to lose of all the Presidential candidates and we're sticking to that -- this loss will be epic. At the beginning of November he was a shoe-in -- hell, we didn't see how he could lose ... The last few weeks, however, have shown us that the GOP deserves a lot of credit for seeing through Giuliani's bullshit.

Bottom line is that Rudy needed to make this a "national" campaign and he can't do that. In fact, I doubt he ever could do that. He simply did not have the money.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Velocity Girl!

My first -- and only -- celebrity crush was on Sarah Shannon ...

I went to go see Velocity Girl at the Concert Cafe in Green Bay just short of a decade ago and they were awesome.

A Word-by-Word Breakdown of the State of the Union

Right here.


Does the candidate of inevitability need a rapid response unit?

That's a rhetorical question, by the way ... (though, this is pretty funny)

I would suggest responding rapidly to this skulduggery.

Rudy Death Watch: Day 18 (Concluded)

Chuck Todd was just on TV observing that the aforementioned good-bye gifts are as good as any indicator that Rudy's gone after tomorrow.

He also noted that instead of "going down in a blaze of glory" Rudy played nice these last few weeks to keep his business viable ...

I'll have plenty more to say about that tomorrow.

Monday Night Link Orgy

Hey, did you happen to know that someone's giving a speech tonight?

Well, neither did I, which leads me to side with John Cole in believing that this is possibly the least hyped State of the Union address I can remember. On the one hand, that's too bad for President Bush. Usually his State of the Union speeches are about as good as his oratory gets (I think it has a lot to do with the large amount of preparation time he gets relative to other addresses). Then again, maybe the White House thought they could simply fly under the radar this year and hope no one would notice.

In any event, if you're not interested in watching Bush's last State of the Union, here is some alternative reading:

* Lots of buzz about Spencer Ackerman's article in the newly launched Washington Independent on the CIA's feeble interrogation capabilities prior to 9/11 and what "enhancing" those techniques has done to the agency.

* Speaking of interrogation, if you did not see last night's 60 Minutes, check out the absolutely captivating segment on FBI agent George Piro, the man responsible for interrogating Saddam Hussein. It's an absolutely hypnotic story that will surely be coming to a theater near you some time in the future.

* The cultural importance of Rambo, from the original 1972 novel to the current film.

* The life of rogue economist Hyman Minsky, whom The Chief noted back in August when we were warning anyone who would listen of the impending financial disaster I'm sure we'll hear President Bush speak about tonight ...

* The quarterly journal World Affairs is back in circulation (again) and the first issue is packed with heavy weights: Christopher Hitchens, Alan Wolfe, and George Packer among them.

* A look at Third Coast Studios, soon to be Wisconsin's only bona fide commercial movie studio.

* Finally, a look at the Obama and Clinton strategies for winning on Super Tuesday at New York Magazine, which is best goddamn publication in America right now, so far as I'm concerned.

Pictures that Speak for Themselves

[via PD2.0]

Rudy Death Watch: Day 18 (Cont.)

Man, I thought being compared to the Titanic was rough, but being compared to Phil Gramm ... that's just harsh.

Today has not been a good day for Hizzoner. He's losing the support of the New York Post, reporters are asking him if he's still going to be in the race on Wednesday, and he's saying he's going to win Florida like it's actually going to happen. Giuliani's campaign also seems to be giving away "going away gifts" to his press gaggle.

And now he's even hinting that he is not long for this world.

The Secret Lives of Philosophers

Matthew Yglesias has this wonderful story about philosopher A.J. Ayer on his blog today:

One of the last of the many legendary contests won by the British philosopher A. J. Ayer was his encounter with Mike Tyson in 1987. As related by Ben Rogers in ''A. J. Ayer: A Life,'' Ayer -- small, frail, slight as a sparrow and then 77 years old -- was entertaining a group of models at a New York party when a girl ran in screaming that her friend was being assaulted in a bedroom. The parties involved turned out to be Tyson and Naomi Campbell. ''Do you know who . . . I am?'' Tyson asked in disbelief when Ayer urged him to desist: ''I'm the heavyweight champion of the world.'' ''And I am the former Wykeham professor of logic,'' Ayer answered politely. ''We are both pre-eminent in our field. I suggest that we talk about this like rational men.''

How, exactly, does an elderly philosopher go about "entertaining a group of models," or were the '80s actually that crazy?

But just as interesting is this curious note from the life of John Maynard Keynes:

Keynes was never a closeted homosexual, although his colleagues at Bretton Woods in 1945 didn't always realise it, perhaps because at those conferences he was accompanied by the Russian ballerina Lydia Lopokova, his wife of twenty years. By then he was the eminent economist and statesman, and possibly no longer on the prowl.

In earlier days, though, from 1901 to 1915 when he was mostly a twenty-something, he cruised constantly and kept two sex diaries of his success. Luckily Keynes was a pack-rat, so we have both of these documents, among a mass of J.M. Keynes memorabilia housed in the modern archives at King's College, Cambridge, (They are reproduced in "Maynard Keynes: An Economist's Biography", by D. E. Moggridge, albeit in an appendix labelled "A Key for the Prurient.")

Keynes obsessively counted and tabulated almost everything; it was a life-long habit. As a child, he counted the number of front steps of every house on his street. Later he kept a running record (not surprisingly) of his expenses and his golf scores. He also counted and tabulated his sex life.

Keynes kept two books, or lists really, describing his various encounters. One is rather straightforward, while the other is written in code that could possibly detail what kind of sexual acts were performed and even grades for their performance. The journals are fascinating, not necessarily for their inherent salaciousness (although Keynes appears to have gotten around a bit), but because it's a side of great thinkers that is rarely, if ever, seen and especially in such detail.

MORE: For an amusing (but more philosophy geek-orientated) anecdote about Ayer, see here.

More on the MRAP Casualty

Catching up on the news that the Army suffered it's first casualty in an MRAP since billions of dollars were allocated to the program last fall, here's a bit of a report that details what happened:

The Soldier who died Jan. 19 was the gunner who sits atop the MRAP vehicle. Three crew members tucked inside the cabin were wounded. The vehicle rolled over after the blast and it was not clear how the gunner died - from wounds in the explosion or in the subsequent roll-over.

Rudy Death Watch: Day 18

Comparisons to the Titanic aside, Rudy's last ditch effort in Florida seems to be relying heavily exclusively on New York ex-pats. Not that these voters are unimportant, but it seems ridiculous to me hang all hope on such a slim niche. In some ways this really encapsulates the "big idea" of Rudy's campaign in so far as he frequently seemed to be running for the President of New York and not America.

There's a lot wrong with Rudy's run, but the death nail was of his own doing:

The fascinating thing about Giluliani's collapse is that it is primarily attributable to a strategic error, the decision to avoid contests in early states. It's not as though another candidate caught fire and displaced Rudy; McCain's return from the dead was largely a result of a vacuum created in no small part by Giuliani's occlusion, and the candidate who really did come out of nowhere, Mike Huckabee, took votes from Rudy's rivals. And while Rudy did take some hits late last year over his tangled love life and its possible impact on NY taxpayers, much of that was old news, and it accompanied the fall in the polls more than it caused it. He's done pretty well in the debates, and in fundraising. But it hasn't mattered much.

I'm willing to buy this, but only if it comes with a side order of "Rudy's a crappy retail politician."

Anyone Notice Anything Strange in This Northwestern Article?

This one, right here ... see anything unusual?

Maybe about half way through ... find it yet?

Why, it's a cameo by Congressman (and snappy dresser) Tom Petri!

I did a double-take. I don't think I've ever seen the Northwestern just casually call up Petri to shoot the shit about something not directly related to something he was working on. In fact, I honestly can't remember the last time I saw Petri quoted in the Northwestern at all.

Then again, why would they? I'm sure he doesn't have any great insight in the machinations of our nation's capitol. It's not like he's an authority on politics or anything ...

In other words, please do this more often.

One thing the Northwestern should not do more often is quote Teno Groppi. Mr. Groppi should only be the subject of scorn and ridicule in this community. I hope that if enough people start ignoring him he will return to that hole in the ground from whence he came and giving him some press -- regardless of the reason -- is only encouraging him to spew more vile into the ether.

Good for Us

I did not know this:

Wisconsin had the second-highest turnout among young voters in the 2004 general election, trailing only Minnesota.

Minnesota has notoriously high turnout rates that are usually in 70s, so while they may suck at football this is nothing to be ashamed of.

A Word of Advice to Dad29

Someone who is such an uncritical parrot for the most extreme elements of the Catholic Church should not be comparing anything to pedophilia.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Noted Without Comment

Overheard at a beauty pageant in Green Bay:

Proctor: What do you believe is the current state of our country?
Pageant contestant: Wisconsin. Wait... Can I change my answer?

The Clintons Really Wanted Ted Kennedy's Endorsement

Or at least they didn't want it to go to Obama. From the Politico:

The Clinton campaign launched a last-ditch effort over the last few days to stop Kennedy's move, orchestrating a flood of phone calls to Kennedy from sources ranging from union chiefs to his Massachusetts constituents.

The former president also called Kennedy in a vain attempt to keep him out of the race, a source familiar with the conversation said.

During his two terms in the White House, President Clinton made repeated overtures to the Kennedy family. So the senator’s rejection of his wife is at least as embarrassing as her 28-point loss in the South Carolina primary on Saturday.

Yikes ...

Shit-talking about Schoenberg

Evidently, I have been called upon to defend the honor of Arnold Shoenberg, my enjoyment of whom has apparently struck a, no doubt, dissonant chord with a certain blogger.

Well, I can not account for the tastes of others ...

I will, however, note that the Kingsley Amis quote cited by the aforementioned blogger is dead wrong. "20th Century classical music," which is to say atonal music, has found a popular audience through film (the shower scene in Psycho is probably the single best example), as well as in some forms of jazz. Even kids today and their crazy "math rock" exhibit a hint of Schoenberg's legacy in their music.

So, I see no point in arguing whether Schoenberg and his disciples are fit for public consumption any more so than I would suggest Oprah choose Finnegans Wake for her next book club pick or pretend any casual observer has any idea what's going on in the paintings of Francis Bacon or Jackson Pollack. They have all influenced other artists who have translated their visions into far more accessible works.

Schoenberg may not win any popularity contests, but that doesn't make him any less of an artist, nor his music any less enjoyable for those willing to go the extra mile to appreciate it.

The Best -- and Hopefully Easiest -- Decision FOX Ever Made

No political advertising during the Super Bowl.

Not that, I'm sure, there were too many campaigns looking to shoot $2.7-3 million for a 30 second spot ...

Obama's Speech & Mark 12:41-44

Obama's speech last night is getting a good deal of praise (see here, here, and here), but left a few folks -- myself included -- asking what was the Bible verse the old woman who sent his campaign with the money order for $3.01?

Mark Kleiman is on the case:

So what was the "verse of Scripture"? A Kossack commenter finds what must surely be the right passage: the parable of the Widow's Mite (Mark 12:41-44).

And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.

And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.

And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:

For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

Meanwhile, a reader answers my query about the significance of $3.01, which I imagined might point at the verse:

The significance of the amount isn't a particular verse of scripture. I thought it was an amazingly subtle little joke. If someone buys something for $3.01, you are going to have to make change.

I think my reader is right. But if he is, we need a stronger word than "subtle."

Another reader prefers the simpler-is-better approach:

Based on absolutely no facts, I'm going to guess that the supermarket where she bought the money order doesn't sell them for $3 or under.
[via PD2.0]

The Morning After

Marc Ambinder:

A win is a win is a win. Forget the racial and gender demographics. A big win is a big win. This is a big win. Obama nearly received more votes than all the Democrats combined in 2004. South Carolina was also a primary, not a caucus.

Joe Klein:

Make no mistake: What happened in South Carolina today was a moral reprimand delivered to Bill and Hillary Clinton by a united Democratic Party--but especially by the African-American segment of that party.

A reader of Andrew Sullivan's:

In last week's SC GOP primary, McCain and Huckabee (the top 2 finishers), got 147,283 and 132,440 votes respectively. That's a total of 279,723. Obama just pulled down 291,000 by himself.

Matt Yglesias:

After all this time being told by the Clinton campaign that Barack Obama is some kind of closet Reagan-worshipping right-winger, it's a bit confusing to be told that he's the second coming of Jesse Jackson, too.

Noam Scheiber:

Obama took nearly 80 percent of the black vote, yes, but also about a quarter of the white vote. That stacks up pretty well alongside Hillary's 36 percent and Edwards's 40***--well enough that Nora O'Donnell of MSNBC could call it "almost a three-way split," and The New York Times could proclaim that a "coalition of white and black support" powered Obama's victory. This is a huge development going forward. The one thing Obama couldn't afford coming out of South Carolina was to be pigeonholed as "the black candidate." Instead, the opposite is happening--he's being hailed as someone who can appeal to all demographics.

The Politico:

Obama won every level of income and education and beat Clinton handily among voters who named Iraq, the economy and health care as their most important concerns.

In Nevada a week ago, Clinton and Obama split voters who prioritized the economy and Iraq; Clinton won those who said health care.

In South Carolina, Obama won on all three issues by 20 to 30 points.

The Economist:

Mr Obama won about half of the vote among 18 to 29 year-olds. This could prove as important as his support among blacks because virtually no states in the looming “Super Tuesday” primaries (with the exception of Georgia) have as many blacks as South Carolina does. Many of them, though, are full of young voters. Expect to see a big Obama push on college campuses across the country to boost turn-out in the upcoming primaries.

The Weekly Standard:

Tonight's results from South Carolina will bring forth the fun house mirror that is modern media spin. Das Hillary Apparat will attempt to pin a racial subtext on Obama no matter what the result. If he wins big, it will be about "record" black turnout. If he wins small, it will be that his appeal is "limited" to African Americans. Bill Clinton will jump in the media cycle tomorrow, grabbing some poor network embed by the lapels and unloading a purple-faced lecture to the whirring cameras about how the shameful media shall never, ever bait a true selfless hero of the civil rights movement such as himself into making Barack Obama's race an issue in this campaign, especially in the South, where race is such a big issue.


I thought Barak’s speech last night was a tour de force. It was spellbinding, riffing on King and Kennedy while instantiating his own rhetorical style.

Here’s the key thing I noticed–more than the words: Barak Obama is a grownup. He’s not interested in being young or cool. He’s interested in being responsible. He sees himself as having a fiduciary responsibility, not an excuse for a never-ending party. In this era of delayed adolescence, he’s not pretending to be a rock star, or eternal teenager. He’s not playing the guitar on TV with the band (Clinton). He’s not trying to be a cutup and cute. (Huckabee/Norris ad). He’s not proclaiming a rigid inner certainty about what’s right, as a raft in a relativistic ocean (GW Bush, about his own conversion). He’s advocating confidence, not certainty. Judgment, not relativism.

Get your headlines, here!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Rudy Death Watch: Day 17

You know you're in trouble when people who once committed their endorsements to you start to renege:

Giuliani campaign sources said [Florida Gov. Charlie] Crist pledged his endorsement to Giuliani in the early fall, when McCain’s campaign appeared dead and Giuliani was leading the state by double digits. But at the time, McCain supporters leaned on Crist to hold back and wait until after the New Hampshire primary. McCain had campaigned for Crist when he was seeking the Republican nomination for governor, and had hoped Crist would return the favor.

More here on how the "Florida Firewall" strategy has failed miserably.

Obama's Speech

Full text here.

Dirty Trick of the Day (Nightcap)

The Race Card.

The Clintons wasted no time in pulling the trigger on this one.

MORE: From the Hotline:
On the other hand, MSNBC's Buchanan points out, Bill Clinton "is smiling tonight" because the racial-polarization strategy "is working."

EVEN MORE: Here's an absolutely astonishing quote from Bill Clinton:
"Jesse Jackson won South Carolina in '84 and '88. Jackson ran a good campaign. And Obama ran a good campaign here."
Apparently there was no context to this being said, no reporter asking Clinton if he could compare Obama's victory to Jacksons' in the 80s. Bill apparently just came out and said this completely on his own (or at least that was what Eugene Robinson was saying on TV last night).

MORE STILL: Craig Crawford insists that this isn't playing the race card so much as it is noting historical facts.

Rudy Death Watch: Day 16

The NYPD endorsed ... John McCain today, an act that Michael Crowley is calling Rudy's "penultimate humiliation."

At least Giuliani still has the support of America's favorite quasi-vigilante psuedo-paramilitary group ...

Saturday Night Link Orgy

* An example of how the WGA is winning the PR war in the writer's strike.

* In search of the Ur-Hamlet.

* Gazprom is looking to corner the European gas market.

* The Phoenix Suns will play a preseason game outdoors next year.

* South Carolina exit polls and whathaveyou.

* Digital Underground, Tone Loc & Young MC will perform at Dan Majerle's Super Bowl party.

* A U.S. spy satellite is coming back to Earth the hard way.

John Edwards for Attorney General?

In an Obama Administration ...

They Really are from the "'Me' Genration," Aren't They?

By way of Sullivan, an astute point made by Lexington:

The Clintons are in the process of doing the impossible: making the 2008 election a referendum on them, rather than on the Republicans. And the Republicans are inching towards nominating their one candidate, Mr McCain, who has broad popular appeal. If what ought to be a stroll in the park in November becomes a real fight, then the Democrats will know who to blame.

Dirty Trick of the Day

Good old fashioned xenophobia.

God Save the Queen

The British are apparently in need of a national motto, although one would not think so by reading the British press:

The Times of London cynically sponsored a British motto-writing contest for its readers.

The readers’ suggestions included “Dipso, Fatso, Bingo, Asbo, Tesco” (ASBO stands for “anti-social behavior order,” a law-enforcement tool, while Tesco is a ubiquitous supermarket chain); “Once Mighty Empire, Slightly Used”; “At Least We’re Not French”; and “We Apologize for the Inconvenience.” The winner, favored by 20.9 percent of the readers, was “No Motto Please, We’re British.”

“The point I was making is, this idea of a statement of Britishness; I cannot think of anything less British than that,” said 25-year-old David Bishop, author of the winning motto.

Lede of the Day

From a Simon Mills article in the Daily Mail:

A Gorgeous, husky-voiced supermodel greeting me with the words "Sorry for being topless" will go down in memory as the greatest celebrity introduction of my journalistic career.

Don't Listen to Your Constituents, Listen to Me

This advice to state Rep. Sen. Sheila Harsdorf is side-splittingly grand:

Sheila doesn’t just need to listen to her constituents, because very often, her constituents are swayed by propaganda, bad information, and just plain selfish desires to have every aspect of their lives be up to their personal standards of comfort. Sheila’s duty is to uphold and fight for our basic rights as American citizens. It appears to me that Sheila Harsdorf is no longer a friend of liberty.

That's right, Sheila, don't listen to your constituents -- they're all retards, anyway ... They're all just too busy living on their selfish impulses and being bamboozled by propaganda to care about their own liberties.

Is That a Congressman?

... Or a NASA telemetry technician circa 1966?

(Pictured above: From left to right: U.S. Rep. Tom Petri; candidate for the state's 53rd Assembly seat, Mike Hatch; and someone who looks suspiciously like former U.S. Rep. Mark Green)

If you guessed Congressman, you'd be correct! That's Tom Petri rocking out the tie, short sleeves and writing implement in breast pocket look that used to scream "I will surrender my lunch money without a fight!" but now says "Watch the fuck out, predatory student loan lenders!"

Way to kick it old school, Congressman!

53 - 56 has a good rundown on the candidates running for the 53rd assembly seat, which includes Mr. Hatch, pictured above.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Hillary Clinton & Rupert Murdoch

There's been a lot written about Hillary Clinton trying to peg Barack Obama as a Reaganite ... but didn't she have a fundraiser hosted by Rupert Murdoch not too long ago?

Chicago! The Windy City! The City That Blows!

Absolutely priceless:

Cook County Democratic Party chairman Joe Berrios is in a tough battle for re-election to the county Board of Review, which hears property tax appeals. Here's how an ally explained why he deserves to keep his $100,000 post: "Joe really works at that job. He's in at 9 and stays till 5."

(emphasis added)

You can't buy that kind of honesty here in Wisconsin!

I've Said it Before ...

And I'll say it again: The Secret Keeper Girl Bod Squad Tour is probably not an appropriate name for a Christian-themed traveling fashion show.

What D'ya Mean the Economy Sucks?

Pawnbrokers are doing just fine!

The Defending the American Dream (Wisconsin) Summit

Has anyone wondered why the list of speakers for the hilariously acronymed DAD conference (just in case anyone confused it with a gathering of pansy-assed nanny-staters!) has been so underwhelming?

Oh, let me take a guess ... Is it because the annual CPAC Conference is taking place the same weekend?

Great job planning that one, AFP!

Hey, you know who you could have had if the DAD conference was held yesterday? Newt Gingrich. A little bit too '90s, perhaps, but a lot better than Sen. Tom Coburn from the Great State of Who Gives a Shit.

To be fair, if nothing shakes out on Feb. 5th and the GOP still doesn't have a clear front-runner waiting in the wings, then I'm sure we'll probably see some "last minute additions" to the line-up -- in which case this have been quite possibly the greatest scheduling master-stroke in the history of party planning, but the odds are still so slim (and were even worse when this event was originally planned) that it just looks foolish.

Dirty Trick of the Day

The Soar Grapes Lateral Smear.

A former Fred Thompson staffer has started ... for some reason. I'm not really sure if this qualifies as a dirty trick -- the web site looks like it was made by a 9th grade Intro to HTML class. And as Blake Dvorak puts it: "It's a pretty angry site and certainly doesn't cast its creator in the most generous light."

Anyway, you get the picture: instead of going after the candidate directly, why not go after his quirky pop-cultural campaign gimmick?

Take that, Kung fu man!

MORE: Sean Hackbarth over at the American Mind is childish enough to support this idiotic attempt at smearing the washed-up b-movie action star who is apparently the ire of recovering Fredheads.

Gentlemen, get over it. Fred lost because he sucks. In fact he sucks so much that fucking Chuck Norris was enough to beat him. You have no one to blame but the shitty candidate y'all decided to back.

Underage Drinking, FaceBook & Whatever the Hell it is That I'm Missing

Alright, everyone stop what what you're doing and just hear me out for a second. When we were all back in high school and looking to do a little underage drinking, I generally recall going about accomplishing this mission in a covert manner. Safe-houses were acquired, designated drivers were appointed, clean-up crews were elected, contingency plans were drawn up, alibis were agreed to, etc.

In fact, the planning that went into these operations often approached a degree of military precision that would make a Green Baret blush.

(Pictured above: Three upstanding high school students without any contraband on their persons whatsoever. None at all. Not even a little bit.)

So why, then -- for the love of God -- would you go through all of these absurd measures to hide what you were doing only to post photographic evidence of your law-breaking on the internet? Why not just get shitfaced in the school parking lot during the lunch hour and scream "Hey, Principal McDickers! This is the best day of my entire life -- fuck you, Mom and Dad!" while grabbing your crotch and puking on the pavement?

I mean, us older folks are happy to know that the kids in La Crosse are still pretty cool, but we're also a bit disappointed that you're also still pretty stupid.

Here endeth the lesson.

"Every deviation from the Holy Writ isn’t apostasy; it’s life under the big tent."

James Joyner tells the conservative wing of the GOP to suck it up and get behind the eventual nominee, be he Romney or McCain (or at least that's what he'd doing, anyway).

Adieu, Kucinich

I don't really know why Dennis Kucinich was running for President this go-around. I can understand the rationale behind his quixotic '04 effort, but this time ... not so much. John Edwards' shift to a more firebrand mode of progressive populism really pushed whatever Kucinich had to say off into the wings and away from the media spotlight. He never really had much of a ground operation -- or any, really -- and I haven't seen a single commercial on TV or the web, which basically meant his campaign was about one thing and one thing only: using the debates to promote his agenda. So when Kucinich started getting barred from the debates, there was wasn't really any reason to continue.

All of which begs the question: is this the last we'll see of Dennis Kucinich? Almost certainly, at least on such a high profile national stage:

Kucinich didn't say so, but the real reason he's dropping out now (instead of hanging around through the convention, as he did in '04) is because his Congressional seat is now imperiled. He faces four primary challengers on March 4, but one of them stands out from the rest: Cleveland Councilman Joe Cimperman, who has some name recognition, lots of money, and some key machine support. Not coincidentally, it was just a week ago that Frank Jackson, the mayor of Cleveland, endorsed Cimperman over Kucinich in the primary.

Kucinich has earned the wrath of many voters and establishment Democratic figures in Cleveland for spending so much time pursuing—with very limited success—a role on the national stage while clinging to his day job as the city's voice in the U.S. House. His second White House bid has been particularly detrimental on the local level because he promised in his '06 re-election campaign not to run for president in 2008.

All politics is local, am I right?

Kucinich will likely survive this current challenge, but as penance he will have to focus on Cleveland for a while.

As well-intentioned as Kucinich may be his solutions for some of the country's most profound problems tend to be, well, problematic. Take his perfectly reasonable desire to enhance the United States' image abroad. Great idea -- now, how do go about doing that? With the creation of cabinet-level Department of Peace ...

Ahhhh, no.

The U.S. already has a massive bureaucracy in place to do that sort of thing, only the rest of the country calls it the Department of State. It's one thing to re-jigger*** reconfigure an existing organization, it's another thing all together to bring forth a new Department from thin air. Just ask the fine folks at DHS ... if you can find them.

Last time around Kucinich parlayed his fame into getting remarried. This time around he's given the American public the genuinely priceless UFO moment. I'm sure he enjoyed 2004 much more. I'd like to say that Kucinich ran his campaign with more heart than either brains, brawn or money, but, really, he didn't run much of a campaign at all this cycle. To the best of my knowledge, Kucinich's campaign coffers were used primarily for an expensive New Hampshire primary recount that did him good at all (to the tune of $27,000) and suing NBC for excluding him from the Nevada debates. I'm sure he needed airplane tickets and hotel accommodations for the debates he was actually invited to, as well ...

There's no question Kucinich cared deeply for what he was fighting for, but his departure does not diminish the Democratic debate, as John Nichols says. The recount, the debate lawsuit were the last gasps of a campaign desperately trying to stay relevant and when those didn't work it became clear that Kucinich needed to get his ass back to Cleveland and put his house in order.

MORE: Kucinich is already putting more into his congressional race than he did his Presidential one.


CORRECTION: *** I just found out that this is an inappropriate choice of words (1/27/08, 7:45 PM). My apologies. I did not know differently.

Arnold Schoenberg

A look at the great atonal composer:

Painters were on the front lines of new ideas back then, and Schoenberg was active in this art as well. He and cutting-edge younger Viennese visual artists like Egon Shiele and Oskar Kokoschka were interested in the bald psychological stresses hinted at on the canvases of Klimt, Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky. Bodies and landscapes could now be legitimately, hideously rendered if the artist was revealing truth, the same way clenched hands betray the lie behind a smile. This style was dubbed expressionism, pulling the romantic pose inside out.

Schoenberg's view of musical history allowed for a similar inversion. It ran something like this: from Mozart to Mahler, classical music became more and more dissonant, with more chromatic (or "wrong") notes in it, so that it was more indirect overall with each generation. The handling of chromatic notes was critical to a composer's unique sound. Schoenberg concluded that since wrong notes were coming more and more into the foreground of compositions, that they were music's progressive impetus.

"Verklarte Nacht" is one of my favorite pieces of music.

[via A&LD]

Monkey Pile on John McCain

Have you noticed that conservative Wisco bloggers really don't like John McCain?

* Freedom Eden
* Little Miss Sunshine
* Texas Hold'em Blogger
* Badger Blogger
* Still Spinning Blog

Did I miss anyone?

No Country For Young Men

Of the three people who have thrown their hats in the ring for Carol Owens' assembly seat, the two GOP candidates are retirees (Mike Hatch, 60, and Cecil Streeter, 58), while the sole Democrat (Tim Blake) is still a younger man at 34.

What does that mean? I'm not quite sure yet. The 53rd is an older district than the 54th demographically and Owens was first elected to her office way back in 1992 at the age of 61, so there is a chance Blake could face a challenge trying to convince voters he's not just some kid who wants to go down to Madison and play government.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Our McCain Post Seems to be Picking Up Some Traction

A little over a week ago I laid out a few points that suggested a McCain victory in Wisconsin on February 19th. Since then I read at least account in the national media that seemed to concur and now Mike Nichols at the MJS [via Sykes] seems to be on board with this idea.

I Need to Get Out More

I have only been to 5 of these places.

[via FPB]

Duncan Hunter: Just What do I Have to do to Become SECDEF?

I sincerely hope this will be the last Duncan Hunter post I ever feel compelled to put together ...

Duncan Hunter, former presidential candidate of marginal significance, who dropped out of the race after truly atrocious showings in Nevada and South Carolina, is endorsing Mike Huckabee. Why? Well, I sure as hell can't say for sure, but I'm this little quote had something to with it:

Huckabee has no military experience beyond commanding the Arkansas National Guard, but he doesn’t see this as an insuperable problem. ‘‘What you do,’’ he explained, ‘‘is surround yourself with the best possible advice.’’ The only name he mentioned was Representative Duncan Hunter of California. ‘‘Duncan is extraordinarily well qualified to be secretary of Defense,’’ he said.

Again, just in case I haven't made myself clear in the past, SpongeBob HunterPants is not qualified to run the Pentagon. He wasn't qualified to Chair the House Armed Services Committee. He's a baboon with periodic flashes of good intentions. He can now ride off into the sunset and cash in on the lucrative world of defense appropriations lobbying. No one will miss him.

"10 Stunning Ultra-Geeky Home Cineams"

I don't think I would ever leave my house ever again if I owned any of these.

Local Boy Done Good

Everything about this story is sheer genius.

Get Over It

You banked on the wrong guy.

Fred Thompson's campaign was an embarrassment to everyone associated with it.

Find someone else to support because, frankly, these bumper stickers are earning you no credibility whatsoever. In fact, they may as well just read "I enjoy the taste of the bullshit!"

(Pictured: Not the aforementioned bumper stickers, which can be found by using the link)

The Economy's Great!

Anyone who thinks the economy is just doing dandy right now has obviously not tried to get money from a bank in the last few months ...

MTC brings up the fact the the technical definition of a recession is "a decline in the GDP for two consecutive quarters." Great -- but any economics teacher worth a damn will quickly point out that by that definition the economy can be in a recession for at least six months before a recession is officially declared. The current discussion revolves around whether the U.S. economy is currently in decline and if that decline is dramatic enough to continue for the foreseeable future. No one wants to wait for the latest GDP data to come in ... People want to know if they're fucked now.

For those folks who make a living by securing loans from financial institutions, life has sucked since about September when the subprime market imploded -- and it's not getting any easier. The recent rate cuts may help in the short term, but the problem with the credit crunch is that it's institutional. That's going to take some time to sort out. But pretending like everything's fine right now isn't helping the situation at all.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Who Wins, Who Loses: Fred Thompson Edition

Let's just get right down to business, shall we?


Rep. Zach Wamp: He was the one who put this sham of campaign together in the first place by co-chairing the Draft Thompson movement. To a degree you kind of have to admire the guy: he saw there was no clear GOP front-runner and did what he could to promote the candidacy of a fellow Tennassean. It was a bold and gutsy maneuver to try and play king-maker that would have propelled him from being a second-tier congressman to being a major player ... if it would have worked.

Rep. Steve King: He was going to endorse Mitt Romney, then at the last minute changed his mind and endorsed Thompson. Way to go, dipshit ...

The Pro-Life Movement: Largely put their support behind Thompson across the country, including here in Wisconsin. These groups may choose to eventually back another candidate, but there's little reason to expect that they'll have as much influence with a new guy since they weren't on board to begin with.

Rudy Giuliani: See Mike Huckabee below. Rudy will not only lose Florida, but he now may come in a truly embarrassing fourth place. Making matters worse is that now when journalists want to kick around a truly awful campaign, they'll look to Rudy.

Anyone who says this race is better for having Fred Thompson in it: Please ... Bill Kramer, Brandon Henak -- who are you guys trying to fool? No one drafted Fred Thompson into this race because they liked his stance on the issues. Quick, what was the major issue he was running on? Anyone? Anyone? Buehler? Beuhler? People turned to Fred because he was an actor and thought he might pull Ronald Reagan out of his ass. No one was looking for issues from this guy, they were looking for gravitas and presence, of which Fred apparently had little. Let's not try to pretend that the Thompson campaign was of any consequence other than a large waste of time.


Jeri Thompson: Where Fred disappointed, his wife did her all to pick up the slack. It was a valiant effort that underscores just how little Fred wanted to do this. We'll likely be seeing more of her, possibly even without Fred ... Some will point to her as the undoing of the campaign, but that's almost wholly immaterial. She demonstrated that she was the power behind someone who just couldn't be made to run for office.

Journalists, pundits and commentators who called Thompson lazy: Hey, when the media gets one right they deserve some credit and they got this one right all the way back in April. If anything, the press underestimated just how lazy Thompson turned out to be.

Mike Huckabee: Likely to be the beneficiary of the Southern evangelical voters that originally went with Fred.

Rep. Nathan Deal: Was planning on endorsing Thompson, but thought better at the last minute. Many of Thompson's congressional endorsements were so underwhelmed with his performance that some were speaking privately about rescinding.

Ron Paul: ... but only in a minor way. It now looks like Rudy won't last much longer after Florida, which will make his precipitous decline in the polls truly epic. I'm talking about the stuff of campaign legend, a ghost story political operatives will tell their interns when they want to motivate them. There's a good chance that Paul will last longer and round up more delegates to the GOP convention then Rudy, which makes Giuliani's taunting of Paul during the early debate seem foolishly unwise now.

Jim Mills & Mark Corallo: Thompson campaign staffers who were smart enough to jump ship back in September, before he had even announced his candidacy.

Linus Roache: When Thompson left Law & Order, Sam Waterson got promoted to District Attorney, thus creating an opening for an A.D.A. There isn't a struggling actor on Earth that wouldn't kill a busload of nuns for that role and the kind of exposure it comes with. I don't know if Roache exactly had to kill a busload of nuns, but he did land a coveted acting gig.

Noted Without Comment

[via Mental Floss]

MRAPs in Transition

The official Pentagon response to yesterday's MRAP death has been both expected and informative:

[Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff] Morrell told reporters that commanders on the ground estimate the three survivors might not have escaped life-threatening injuries in a less-protected vehicle.

“I think what’s remarkable about the attack is the fact that the crew compartment, despite how large the bomb was, was not compromised by the IED, and that the three crew members inside walked away with, I believe, cuts and broken bones in their feet,” he said. “I think everybody is still amazed that the fact that, despite the size of this bomb, these vehicles are proven to be every bit as strong and as life-saving as we hoped they would be.”

That's putting quite the silver lining on this issue. It also implies that the death occurred in the truck's cab, to either the driver or someone sitting in the passenger seat.

Regardless, the Armchair Generalist puts things a little more bluntly:

Anyone who still has the fantasy that the MRAPs were a ticket to riding out the violence in Iraq had better wake up. This potential $20 billion investment by the US government is going to be defeated by less than a million dollars worth of fertilizer, explosives, and pressure plates. This isn't the solution for general movement on the battlefield.

[He goes on to cite an interesting article in Armed Forces Journal, well worth a read.]

MORE: Check out Germany's answer to the MRAP.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Bertram Arthur "Jimmy" James, serial escape artist and royal pain in the ass to Nazis, passed away last week:
James was one of the few to escape execution after the Great Escape [...]

Fifty of the 76 escapers were shot. James and two others, including "Wings" Day, the senior RAF officer to escape, were sent to Sachsenhausen. On meeting James, Day commented sardonically: "The only way out of here is up the chimney."

And then they tried to escape again ...

Tuesday Night Link Orgy

* Rambo Inflation

* Architects hold a contest to redesign the White House

* Ben Bernanke is even more worried about economy than he's letting on in public

* Patriots fans clearly have not learned from the Curse of the Bambino and continue to tempt fate

* Scientists determine what it takes to get nominated for an Oscar

* Patrick Ruffini: political organization still matters

* The last German WWI veteran passed away on New Year's Day at the age of 107

You Know What this Anti-Abortion Movement Could Use? Some Sex Appeal

Because nothing says, "Dude, you're totally gonna get laid!" quite like the lovely ladies at a pro-life march ...

Honestly, what's next?

Are we going to start seeing voluptuous and nubile temptresses summoning impressionable, hormonally-driven young men to abstinence rallies with their siren songs?

If so, sign me up because that's a screenplay for the next great teenage sex comedy that just writes itself.

MORE: Sykes is now foolish enough to start playing this game.

Can a Computer "Write" a Novel?

Apparently ...

As if that's not enough to wrap your mind around, the title of the novel is "True Love," which would seem to imply that the computer would be familiar enough with the subject matter to carry on about affairs of the heart at some length:

The book, published by the city’s Astrel SPb publishing company, is the work of a computer program, created by a team of IT specialists and language experts.

The 320-page novel, called “True Love,” is a variation on Leo Tolstoy’s 1877 classic “Anna Karenina” but written in the style of Japanese author Haruki Murakami.

It is based on 17 famous literary works that were uploaded onto the program. Within 72 hours, the computer generated its novel about true love.

Personally, this development creates a string of rather profound questions that something like a chess-playing computer doesn't inspire: Is the book any good? Is it literary? Did the computer actually "write" this book or merely synthesize the other books into one format? Will the book have an emotional impact on the reader? Did the computer learn anything during the process of "writing" the book? And so forth ...

I hope there's much more to this story to come.

Thanks for Playing!

We have some lovely parting gifts for you back stage ...

MRAPs & Casualties

A few months ago I spent a lot of time tracking the development of the Army's mine resistant armor protected (MRAPs) vehicles as the Pentagon began awarding what would turn out to be billions of dollars in contracts to companies like Oshkosh Truck to build what were seen by many to be the solution to the IED problem in Iraq.

But anyone who followed the discussion closely knows that this was hardly the consensus. There was considerable debate about the effectiveness of the program. Some were critical of the bulky size of the trucks, others were concerned about the "fortress mentality" that MRAPs seemed to project to Iraqis. Of notable interest was the cost and their shelf-life. One general even suggested that putting MRAPs into the field was tantamount to an open invitation to the enemy to attack them. Unfortunately, this debate did not seem to break out of defense appropriations circles until after the contracts were awarded.

Instead a number of people in Washington, on both sides of the aisle, used "We must support the troops!" rhetoric to gain support for the massive spending measures without ever asking if this was a good way of supporting the troops. Up until the contracts were awarded MRAPs had enjoyed vocal support from soldiers on the ground who has survived roadside attacks and ambushes. Many even suggested that the trucks were more important than ever due to the development and use of EFPs in the battlefield.

I haven't blogged about MRAPs in a while, largely because the direction their news has taken has become far more technical than I think anyone but me would care to bother with, but I have been keeping up with their use and deployment. Unfortunately, it became painfully obvious even well before the deployment that MRAPs were not going to be the panacea that many suggested they could be.

Now, for the first time since the awarding of the contracts last fall, a soldier has been killed by a roadside ambush while serving inside an MRAP.

The implications are really rather staggering. The Pentagon put a lot of their eggs into the MRAP basket. If anything, the MRAP was successful in providing soldiers with tremendous piece of mind -- one has to wonder if that will still be the case.

I'm sure there will be plenty more to say on this topic soon enough.

You Could've Probably Phrased That Better

The scrappy Yale men at the University's Zeta Psi house thought they were being cute when they posed for this picture:

The piece of paper being held up by the guy in the center reads "WE LOVE YALE SLUTS."

Get it?

Yeah, I didn't think it was very funny either ...

To give the Zeta house the benefit of the doubt for a minute, I would assume they were going for the playfully sexist in a boys-will-be-boys type of way shtick, but in order to pull something like that off there has to be a self-deprecating wink or a nod included, something that subtly acknowledges this band of merry pranksters is conscious of the fact that they're acting like dicks. There very clearly isn't one here. In fact, the photo's just plain creepy. There's an uncomfortable predatory feel to it with the faux-gang sign posturing and the nighttime setting. Even the deathly serious expressions on the faces of these young men suggest something malicious (except for the wanker in the lower left-hand corner -- the one with his tongue sticking out -- that guy just exudes sketchiness).

And worst of all is that there is nothing in this picture to suggest that this was just a spontaneous act of stupidity. You know, like the guys were just coming back to campus from a bar and thought it would be funny if, etc. Nope, this was pretty obviously premeditated. Their clever little sign was made off a laser printer. Everyone's dressed in dark clothing, perfect for sneaking around campus with a certain degree of stealth. There were clearly a number of opportunities for at least one of these guys to think better.

Well, as is what happens these days, the picture got put up on the internet and was subsequently passed around Yale. Naturally, some people were a bit pissed at this stunt. I'm not exactly sure what happened next, I assume phone calls were made, meetings arranged, threats of double secret probation were meted out, etc. Anyway, the fraternity's president issued an apology in today's Yale Daily News. The apology seems to be courteous, genuine and contrite until the reader gets to this poorly phrased line:

Every single member would like to stress our utmost respect for the female student body.

Evidently, admission to Yale does not require an understanding of the word Entendre.

MORE: Apparently, this was some kind of initiation prank.