Brian Beutler, Washington Correspondent, Media Consortium 36% (188748 votes)
Jeffrey Young, The Hill 25% (132463 votes)
Ryan Lizza, The New Yorker 11% (57433 votes)
I think this means that, if you're still voting, you can take a breather.
JMM links this Media Matters post about David Gregory wondering if Edwards' affair is bad for Obama. Unless Edwards also had an affair with Obama that strikes me as really implausible. On the other hand, if you're mad about John Edwards behaving badly you might also be mad at John McCain for doing the same goddamned thing.* JMM:
What I do know is that this is another of those cases where there is a tacit but uniform agreement among pretty much all reporters and close campaign watchers not to publicly state the obvious: that this is a perilous development for John McCain. Just as Bill Clinton's public undressing in the Lewinsky scandal led indirectly to the exposure of several high-profile Republican affairs, Edwards' revelation will inevitably put pressure on the press in general to scrutinize John McCain under something more searching than the JFK rules they've applied to date. I assure you that this dimension of the story occurred to every reporter even tangentially involved in reporting this race soon after the Edwards story hit yesterday afternoon.
*Funny, John McCain's divorce lawyer was Bud Day. Missed that in the Swift Boat redux stuff.
Let's talk environmentalism! We all resent the fact that we are getting hoodwinked into earnestly choosing eco-friendly laundry detergents, while corporations are slowly unravelling any lingering EPA restrictions, right? That life has been marketed to feel greener, yet if we held manufacturing plants accountable for their pollution, the effects would dwarf our paltry individual attempts? And actually make a difference?
I think this should be termed Supply Side Environmentalism. If giving the corporations tax breaks will supposedly trickle down and wet the worker, then corporations should also herald in Environmentalism! Okay, I just like the phrase Supply Side Environmentalism.
I don't know how much carbon is in each lizard breath, but I know they've been puffing out for EXACTLY 37 YEARS!
And Edge Of The American West's Eric Rauchway is planning to swim some ridiculous distance to raise money for charity. Follow the previous link to make fun of his swimsuit, this one to donate money.
So John Edwards had an affair with a novice filmmaker? Please don't let that mean there's a sex tape.
An early contender for Styles Section abomination of the year.
Or at least reviews Heads in the Sand approvingly in the NYRB. I feel clever, because she notes some of the same issues with the book that I did, namely that it doesn't clearly address what distinguished the Kosovo bombing from the invasion of Iraq. (In Power's eyes, the distinction is that while Kosovo wasn't approved by the UN, it was at least approved of by and coordinated with the leadership of the UN. I don't know that this is convincing, but it's something.)
What makes ensuring that the right person comes out on top in a silly online contest even better? Surely the answer is: doing so while listening to swell tunes! Such as those that can be heard tomorrow, 3–6pm Pacific, on KZSU 90.1 FM Stanford. Tunes to be played will involve compositions or performances for one by Kyle Gann and Eric Carbonara; for two by Joëlle Léandre & Mat Maneri; Alan Licht & Aki Onda; and Matt Bauder & Jason Ajemian; for three by Dans les arbres; the Satoko Fujii Trio; Larry Ochs, Joan Jeanrenaud, & Miya Masaoka; and Osorezan; for four by Cosmologic; the Vinny Golia Quartet, and Zs; and for many by Bang on a Can; Icebreaker; and the Szilárd Mezei Ensemble—and more, though actually not much more, because most of these tunes are kinda long (one's 31 minutes—but good—I swear!).
Plus there will be hocketing.
Oops: Actually, Dans les arbres isn't a trio. Oh well.
Maybe you think those two things have nothing to do with each other—and you're right. And you might also think that it's a bit tasteless of me to say that, since I don't even know the guy. And you're right about that, too. But it rhymes, so I don't care—after all, it's not like I know the guy.
The guy in question is, of course, Brian Beutler, celebrated reporter and hottiepants, one of the candidates in this year's hottest media types in DC contest (off-air male edition). Tom lays out the case for propelling him to victory, and even provides sophisticated firefox-specific tools (xpi link) that enable you to express your enthusiasm for all things Beutlish with great efficiency. This year the botting is truly brazen, as J.P. Friere, Carl Hulse, and current leader Ryan friggin' Lizza, or their agents, are all clearly using shady means artificially to inflate their vote totals far out of proportion to the number of their supporters, actual or potential (we, meanwhile, merely want to record in the present the consensus regarding hotness that will be reached at the ideal end of inquiry).
So fall to, Firefox users, and feel no guilt; justice demands that Lizza's outrageous lead be crushed, and Lizza himself humbled and forced to crawl in chains before Beutler during the latter's triumphal march.
If you read the comments to Tom's post you'll see that there's another goal, to wit, the winning of a dignified second place by worthy candidate Jeff. No fancy tools currently exist to smooth out the voting-for-Jeff process, but this script should allow curl-possessing entities to vote for both him and Beutler at the same time. (This one just votes for Jeff.) The paranoid user could replace the "rdm=6" line with something like "rdm=$(($RANDOM % 10))", but I don't think that parameter is actually used for anything.
An anonymous jerkface emailed to say that the in-post instructions made no sense, so let's run this shit down:
1. If you're a firefox user, click this link and install the update.
2. You will have to restart firefox for it to take effect. Do so.
3. Go to this page. You should get an alert. Dismiss it, or say ok, or whatever; you don't have to do anything more. Just don't navigate away from the page in that tab.
Ok? If you also want to vote for Jeff, and you're on a mac and more or less comfortable with the terminal, or on linux with curl installed (and if you're on linux without curl, I assume you'll be able to modify things to use wget fairly easily), download this script. Open the terminal and cd to the location of the script, and run "chmod +x jeffanator.sh", then type "./jeffanator.sh &".
Given how fucked up the whole military tribunal thing was, a 66 month sentence is probably the most just thing that could have come out of it. While I appreciate the "fuck you" it sent the Bush administration, the fact they may still subvert the courts and continue to hold Hamdan as an enemy combatant after he serves his sentence is infuriating.
That said, someone someday is going to have to put this system of injustice and indefinite detentions to an end and it's going to be a Democrat (hopefully Obama in 2009). It scares me what the aftermath is going to be. I'm less scared that the people being held at Guantanamo are all going to go on murderous rampages than that one of them somewhere is going to do something that lets the Republicans say "I told you so", and solidify all of these bastardizations of the Constitution and possibly put something even more draconian in place. I doubt people would reflect that many of the prisoners who have been held for years there went in innocent and our policies of inhumane treatment towards them might have been what made them more extreme in their beliefs. No, the Right would use that to justify that kangaroo courts and indefinite detentions without counsel were the only solution for a people so barbaric.
Remember Oscar Pistorius? And the inflammatory suggestion that people's opinions loosely fell out along athlete/non-athlete lines? Let's play that game again, because I've read in more than one place about how, instead of imposing sex testing on female athletes, the Olympic committees need to learn to live in a flexible world of intersexed people. And maybe our opinions here mirror whether or not we were sympathetic to Old Oscar.
I have a few thoughts:
1. In general, I believe in a flexible world of intersexed people. And I'd even wager that the sex lines might be blurrier in the world of super-athletic women, if being born biologically fuzzy confers any sort of athletic bonus.
2. How often are men straight-up trying to pass as women as a form of cheating? Is this really a concern?
3. If so, you have to do the testing. Female athletes want to win, and they've worked damn hard, and this would cheat someone out of their medal.
4. If you have to do the testing, it should be done with compassion for the fact that you are most likely not detecting a cheater, but an ambiguously sexed person.
(Crap. I started out poised to write something super-inflammatory about the glory of competition and chariots of fire, and came out with some mushy peacenik shit. I want to see arguing!)
I saw a bunch of McCain attack ads when I was at the gym tonight. You know how the typical negative ad goes: show an unflattering picture of your opponent (preferably in black and white) while you talk about the bad things he's supposedly done and then show a happy, pretty picture of yourself while you say you'll do the opposite.
Two things I noticed: the images of Obama they used were always in color. I suspect this is because reminding us that he is a black man is meant to be scarier than showing him in grainy black and white.
The second: they can't find a truly unflattering shot of the guy. Even the "bad" photos of Obama, especially displayed in color, look pretty cute. This makes me wonder if McCain is going to run into the Reagan problem: there's a famous story (which I can't find the source for because the Newseum used to be the definitive link and they've revamped and suckified their website) about how 60 Minutes ran a segment on Reagan that showed the contrast between his actions and his photo-ops: hugging kids while cutting funding for children's programs, shafting the VA while giving speeches to veterans groups, etc. They thought it was scathing and going to sink the president's approval ratings. Instead, opinions of the president actually went up among people who watched the segment because the pictures of smiling kids, happy veterans, and Reagan acting all grandfatherly sunk in while the damning stats did not. Maybe the claims of all the terrible things Obama is going to do if he gets elected won't sink in because everyone will be blinded by his shiny happy face.
All my life I've heard, "Your great-grandfather always said, 'Dress well. You can't afford not to'," mostly from my mom and grandma. I've largely ignored this because 1) I love old clothes, 2) I'm in academics, and 3) I'm small and white, and so people generally cut me plenty of slack for my fashionable supertastes. (And I do have super taste. Oh yes.)
However. This is a fascinating article about what it is like to dress with a very aware eye towards being black and fat, where one is not granted nearly the widespread acceptance that I take for granted. Go read it.
After a lifetime of loathing pedestrian acceleration, I've recently taken up running. Mostly on a treadmill.
Aside from shin splints, for which I seem to have adjusted, I've noticed one peculiar side effect. To wit, a surprising uptick in activity on my, ahem, output stage, mainly in the form of a sort of aerosol, which is subject to dispense at apparently any given moment.
I'm inclined to assume this result must be normal, but it's still a bit disconcerting and, quite seriously, has awful comedic timing.
Moreover, I should like to clarify, given the comments so far, that this phenomenon might be better described as an "after effect", given that it occurs, generally, quite post-run. Other runners may have other—and possibly more elucidating—experiences.
I have two posts written. Comments 1-10 get to vote on either:
a. Olympics or
b. Health care
What shall we talk about this evening?
UPDATE: The votes are in, the masses want healthcare. Here goes:
Recently in conversation, someone related to me some policy suggestions of how to practically begin to implement a socialized health care system into our current 2008 state of the mess. (I don't know who originated this plan, but if someone does, I'm happy to give them credit.)
The first law is that insurance companies must accept all applicants. The second law is that insurance companies must charge all customers the same rate.
The effect of these two laws would be that insurance companies can only distinguish themselves by the coverage they offer - bare bones coverage to extensive coverage.
Lastly, the government then needs to offer a decent insurance package, to offer a choice where the premiums aren't being driven up by runaway profit margins.
I thought this was an eminently sensible launching point.
Workers at Tyson Foods' poultry processing plant in Shelbyville will no longer have a paid day off on Labor Day, but will instead take the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr in the fall.
A recent press release from the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) stated that a new contract at the Shelbyville facility "implements a new holiday to accommodate the ... Muslim workers at the plant."
The RWDSU stated that "the five-year contract creates an additional paid holiday, Iidal Fitil, a Muslim holiday that occurs toward the end of Ramadan."
Two points about this-- not novel, but I gots to vent. First, 250 of the 1200 workers at this plant are Somali muslims. That's a fifth of the workforce, and it makes sense to take some cheap and fairly easy steps to make their lives easier. Second, I'm betting that being a Somali immigrant working in a chicken factory is not the easiest road to walk. Whether you see this as a small crumb for people busting their asses every day or "modern elites' unwillingness to require newcomers to conform to our ways" is a sort of Rorschach test for assholity. ("The elites" here would I guess be the 80% of the union members who approved the contract?)
(Eid-al-fitr-- which McCarthy weirdly insists on calling "the Eid" even though the only other major Muslim holiday is Eid-al-adha--is the festival marking the end of Ramadan. Since Ramadan is a month of the Hijra calendar, the date will move forward on the Gregorian calendar by about ten days each year.)
Via Sadly, No! as well as the Corner.
One of my brothers is six years older than me. From time to time he'd give me advice like, "If you want to get a girl to like Led Zeppelin, start by playing her the Oh, oh-oh-oh-oh, you don't have to go song. They like that song, and then you can be like, 'They also wrote this song.'"
So one time he told me, "Don't sit on a boy's lap at a party, because he could have sex with you."
I exclaimed, "Through my pants??"
My brother said, "You'd be wearing a skirt."
I said, "Oh...Through my underpants??"
My brother said, "You wouldn't be wearing underpants."
I said, "Oh...okay. I won't."
I was left thinking, Heebie, just be sure to wear underpants. (Which has actually been easy to follow.) But also, it led me to believe that someone could just slip you sex, without you noticing, like a roofie in your drink. That has turned out not to be true.
Yet another thing I'll never forgive this administration for is the reflexive mistrust they've engendered in me. I can't believe how many people are all "The guy they were about to indict for the anthrax attacks killed himself! He must be the guilty one then! Case closed!"
When I heard it, my first thoughts were: "Sure, maybe he was guilty. Or maybe he'd just seen how much a false witch hunt had ruined his coworker's life and realized it was about to happen to him. Or maybe it wasn't really a suicide."
I've never been a conspiracy theorist before. Goddamn those bastards for turning me into one.
The game: Submit eight guesses, and I'll tell you how many are correct. First one to submit eight correct guesses wins!
The rules: All guesses must be categorically correct, or the submission is invalid. (If you submit 8 guesses of "Beat It" to narrow down question 2, you've violated this condition.)
All songs are sufficiently mainstream to have been played on the radio plenty. They would all appear on a Best Of compilation by the artist.
1. What is the best Eagles song?
2. What is the best Michael Jackson song?
3. What is the best Britney Spears song?
4. What is the best Dire Straits song?
5. What is the best Boys II Men song?
6. What is the best New Kids On The Block song?
7. What is the best Guns-n-Roses song?
8. What is the best TLC song?
There is a unique correct answer to each question. And you're off! Go! Like the wind!
I swallowed a bee on Saturday. No really! I was taking a photo of a friend, when this bee starting buzzing around my face, then went straight into my open mouth. It made about as far as my Adam's apple before my hocking action impeded progress. At that point, the bee began its exit, making sure to give me a nice hearty sting on its way out. Thanks, bee!
Luckily, a med student was on-hand to comfort me. He told me that I wasn't going to die from swelling, because I would already be dying, the allergic reaction to stings being, apparently, almost immediate. He also informed me that, had I swollen up enough to block my airway, he had been prepared to "trach" me, which was nice of him, I suppose.
So I haven't heard as much about disappearing bee populations this year, but one possible theory is that they're completely fucking insane and flying down people's throats.
Stipulating that attempts to paint all members of a generation with a broad brush are somewhat flawed, I think the argument that the events of the last year or two will define the ending date of sunny Generation Y holds merit:
The inconvenient truths of the past half century are settling around our shoulders, and the preteens of today are not unaware of these issues or their complexity. Today's 11 to 13 years olds are forming a mental map based on a world with finite limits and no easy answers.
• Most 12 year olds are very aware that the polar ice caps are melting and the march of the penguins is slowing to a halt.
• They know why the family is vacationing in the backyard this year
• Whatever they or their parents think about the war in Iraq and the Middle East in general, it's likely that they have absorbed the complexity of the situation.
• It would have been almost impossible for them to escape the phrase "housing crisis," even though few, I suspect, understand how such a disaster came to be. Home ownership, an icon of past generations' goals, suddenly looks less worthy, now a risky proposition.
• And they have not missed the messages regarding layoffs and challenges to U.S. corporations.
Virtually all in this new generation are parented by X'ers - a generation renowned for self-reliance and self-sufficiency - rather than Boomers....The children of Generation X have undoubtedly absorbed to some degree their parents' frustration with the economic hand they've been dealt - poor job markets when they began their careers, high housing prices when they bought their first homes - and their general disenfranchisement with many existing institutions.
Perhaps they've heard their parents' growing resentment that Boomers have been poor stewards of our world - got us into wars we can't win and failed to prepare us for the century we face: not providing an adequate educational foundation, making no significant investment in alternative energy, adopting a combative posture toward global partners, in an increasingly collaborative world. A desire to be less short-sighted and slow to react to the issues of limited resources I suspect will be an important priority for the new generation.
We're going to be dealing with the fallout of this horrible administration for a long time:
The Justice Department's inspector general reported this week that officials illegally stacked the decks with conservative attorneys who were sometimes unqualified. Now, some are wondering how to address the fact that people who were hired through a flawed process effectively have tenure.
At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) asked whether Congress could do anything to fix the situation. He suggested removing civil service protections from people who were hired through a flawed process until those people had been through a legitimate hiring process.
Addressing this issue requires a balancing act. No one wants a witch hunt, but no one wants political hacks in sensitive jobs, either...[Paul Light, public service professor at New York University] believes that even if Congress could remove civil service protections from some Justice Department employees, it would set a bad precedent.
"The civil service process is designed to protect employees from political interference," Light says. "By stripping civil servants of protections after the fact, you undermine the whole notion of civil service protection."
But Robert Raben, who led the Justice Department's legislative affairs office under President Clinton, says addressing this problem is crucial.
"They've been caught with their hand in the ideological cookie jar," Raben says. "The No. 1 issue here is confidence among the American people that cases are taken in a way that isn't influenced by political ideology."
Raben believes it's not appropriate to fire people just because they were hired through a flawed system, but he says it's "critical" that supervisors watch those people carefully to make sure their legal decisions are not motivated by politics.
[Joshua Berman, who used to work in the department's Public Integrity section] believes existing performance-evaluation policies are strong enough to address the problem. "To turn a flashlight back on the people who've entered and to re-evaluate their admission into the department would be extremely difficult," Berman says. The system "should over time correct itself," he says, and people who are not qualified for their jobs will eventually leave.
OK, how many of you have ever held a job and know that's bullshit? These are people strongly motivated by ideology who are holding jobs with extreme power and reach. If Justice is like anywhere I've worked, what I suspect will happen is that ideologically-motivated supervisors will seek out other similarly-minded employees, creating fiefdoms where they can continue to give them good reviews and ensure they are protected. This isn't gonna shake itself out.