Mainstream News

Because this is now a respectable web magazine, it is my obligation to keep you as informed as the mainstream media. That is why they have all that privilege stuff, right? At any rate, here goes with the hard hitting news that makes my opinion really count:

1.) Sharks are predatory animals that eat meat. They have large teeth, a keen sense for blood, and they reside in the water. They are generally attracted to things they can eat, and thus, it is dangerous to swim where they are looking for food. I know this sounds like common sense, and two people who are bitten when swimming in shark infested waters is hardly worthy of a lot of attention, but this picture is really scary:


That could be you, so clearly we should talk about this every hour for the next two months. Here are some tips on how to not be turned into tuna helper, including this one:

“Avoid areas where sharks are known to be present “

How to tell? Easy- if you see a big fin, hear funny music that goes Du-Duhmp every few seconds, or if you feel your leg being ripped from your body and replaced with a large pool of blood, there is a shark present. Immediately get out of the area.

2.) Some people are itinerant fucktards. Ward Churchill is one of them. Ignore him, and if someone is dumb enough to email you ten times asking what you think of him and why you aren’t writing about him, instead of recoiling at the stupidity of the question, simply say “Ward Churchill is an itinerant fucktard.”

3.) Puppies are cute. Stealing puppies is uncool. That is why MSNBC has this hidden video of puppies being stolen as the top US News story of the day.

4.) Somewhere in America, a pretty white girl is missing. Film at 11.

That should about wrap up our news coverage for the day.

Just looking Out For God

My new favorite idiot is in the news again, and he isn’t taking the Supreme Court decisions well:

A deeply divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled this week that it’s OK for the government to display the Ten Commandments if the intent is secular, but it is unconstitutional if the monument’s purpose is solely religious.

Many in Congress are troubled by the decision and intend to do something about it. One of them is Rep. John Hostettler, R-Ind., who said the “unconstitutional decisions” by the high court do not have to be tolerated by either Congress or the White House.

“Congress can remove funds for the enforcement of this unconstitutional ruling,” he said. “And the president, in his executive prerogative, exercising his executive prerogative, can, as we say, just say no to the court.”

Hostettler added that a constitutional amendment is not the best route, though, because the Constitution is not the problem.

“The clear wording of the Constitution is in no way violated by what is going on in McCreary County, Kentucky, or Texas,” he said, referring to the locations of the two Commandments displays ruled on by the Supreme Court on Monday. “Congress does not need to suggest a deficiency in the Constitution by suggesting an amendment.

Because, as we all know, no one is prepared to determine matters of Consitutionality like a wingnut from the Corn Belt. Not even the Supreme Court. They don’t understand that we must display the Ten Commandments everywhere, because God would want it that way. Otherwise I might start lusting for my neighbor’s wife, begin thieving from convenience sotres, or, poray tell, I might turn the dismissive and disrespectful attitude I have towards Hostettler and his ilk and aim it at my elders.

Unfortunately, there was no immediate word on why God wouldn’t like an amendment to the Constitution.

*** Update ***

And then there is this:

Ms. Pelosi: Again, without focusing on the actual decision, just to say that when you withhold funds from enforcing a decision of the Supreme Court you are, in fact, nullifying a decision of the Supreme Court. This is in violation of the respect for separation of church — powers in our Constitution, church and state as well. Sometimes the Republicans have a problem with that as well. But forgive my digression.

So the answer to your question is, I would oppose any legislation that says we would withhold funds for the enforcement of any decision of the Supreme Court no matter how opposed I am to that decision. And I’m not saying that I’m opposed to this decision, I’m just saying in general.

Q: Could you talk about this decision? What you think of it?

Ms. Pelosi: It is a decision of the Supreme Court. If Congress wants to change it, it will require legislation of a level of a constitutional amendment. So this is almost as if God has spoken. It’s an elementary discussion now. They have made the decision.

Q: Do you think it is appropriate for municipalities to be able to use eminent domain to take land for economic development?

Ms. Pelosi: The Supreme Court has decided, knowing the particulars of this case, that that was appropriate, and so I would support that.

Ugh. Dear Ms. Pelosi- you can have your own thooughts irrespective of Supreme Court decisions. Blind fealty and total subservience is not expected nor wanted.


Terrible news:

Sixteen bodies have been found at the crash site of a US military helicopter in eastern Afghanistan and some were Special Forces, a top US general said.

Lieutenant General James Conway told a Defense Department briefing that 16 bodies had been retrieved from the site where the Chinook military helicopter crashed on Tuesday west of Asadabad, a town in the insurgency-plagued eastern province of Kunar.

The Taliban militia has claimed that its fighters shot down the helicopter but US officials gave no details on the cause of the crash.


Blogger My Ass, I’m Respectable

I regret to inform you that as of right now, Balloon Juice is no longer a weblog. This is now a web magazine:

Atrios asks some good questions about the FEC’s proposed regulations on bloggers :

Why is somebody who prints up and mails out weekly vanity newsletter entitled to the media exemption but not me?

Why is Michael Savage entitled to the media exemption but not me?

Why is entitled to the media exemption but not me?

In order to avoid any potential pitfalls, let me use this opportunity to announce that this post will be the last one on The Talent Show blog. Starting either late today or tomorrow, I will relaunch (without any fanfare whatsoever) my new web magazine, The Talent Show. I will still be the primary writer around here, but the traditional blog posts will be replaced with articles of varying lengths and topics. I will also be replacing the comments with article specific message boards. The look of the site, the writing style, the subject matter, the content, and the technological back-end will be identical to what I’m using now, but the change (as least as far as the FEC is concerned) will be drastic. Starting tomorrow, my days as a blogger are ending and my days as a writer begin.

I appreciate your continued support of this former blog and current web magazine. Feel free to place your comments “Letters to the Editor” in the comments section magazine sponsored message board.

*** Update ***

As proof of my new-found respectability, this web magazine was just featured on MSNBC’s Inside the Blogs. Blogs- so turn of the century. This is media, baby. Thanks, Jeralynn!

Woops! Make that MSNBC’s Connected Coast to Coast- you see- I can’t get basic facts right- I AM just like the media, only faster!

Wrong, Oliver

I am not going to get involved in a long discussion over whether or not this administration is poll-driven or not (all administrations are to some extent, and that is pretty much Rove’s job- or at least it used to be), but Oliver is mistaken about this:

The right has had a lot of fun claiming that while President Clinton led based on polls, George Bush has led based on his gut. Anyone whos paid attention for five seconds knows this, but the myth persists.

End it, now.

The White House recently brought onto its staff one of the nations top academic experts on public opinion during wartime, whose studies are now helping Bush craft his message two years into a war with no easy end in sight. Behind the presidents speech is a conviction among White House officials that the battle for public opinion on Iraq hinges on their success in convincing Americans that, whatever their views of going to war in the first place, the conflict there must and can be won.

There is a distinct difference between reading polls and shaping policy, which would, in fact, be a poll-drvien agenda, and what is being reported here. Rather than reading the polls and changing the policy, what is happening here is that Bush and crew are reading the polls, and trying to shift public opinion.

A poll-driven approach would be gauging public opinion and then shaping policy to fit that opinion, which would create a decidedly poll-driven agenda. What we have here is the use polling data to change public opinion about the goodness of an already determined policy- to sell it, if you will.

These are completely different things. Imagine you are a company- ther former would be finding out what kind of product the public wants and then making that product and selling it. The other is deciding what product you want to sell, and then using poling data and experts to sell, to market, or to advertise.

It isn’t the same thing, Oliver.

FYI- The appropriate knne-jerk left-wing response to this story in the WaPo is:

“See- the public is so against Bush’s Iraq policy that they are bringing in experts to shore up support!”


More on “Coin Gate:”

The scandal starts back in 1997, when the state’s Bureau of Workers Compensation, which provides workplace injury insurance for Ohio’s workers, decided to start an “emerging managers” program that would allow outside managers to invest some of the fund’s $18 billion in assets. With then-Governor George Voinovich’s direct appointee at BWC calling the shots on who got the money, the $500 million set aside for the program offered a jackpot of prime contracts that could be doled out to supporters. In all, one hundred fifty-four fund managers were contracted to invest BWC money under Voinovich and his successor, Bob Taft.

Enter Thomas Noe, a GOP rainmaker (and Bush Pioneer) from the Toledo suburbs who, along with his wife, Bernadette, has contributed more than $200,000 to Republican candidates over the past fifteen years. Noe made his fortune in the rare coin business and somehow convinced the BWC that it could do the same. In 1998, he got a contract to invest $25 million of state money in coins, with 80 percent of the profits supposedly going to the state. It was an unorthodox deal: not a single other state invests in the completely unregulated rare coin market, and there was no supervision of Noe, who acted as the main assessor of the collection’s value and kept the coins stashed in warehouses around the country, all but one of which state overseers never visited. When the contract was reviewed in 2000, a state auditor immediately recognized the potential for self-dealing. Noting that Noe and his associates “could potentially be realizing profits on sales of coins to the [fund]” he warned, “such a situation presents a conflict of interest and potentially exposes both the managers and [the bureau] to allegations of improper activity.”

Not only did then-Republican State Auditor (and now Attorney General) Jim Petro ignore this warning, Noe was rewarded with another $25 million. The Blade’s reporting has revealed that the auditor’s concerns were well-founded: 121 precious coins have disappeared, including two worth $300,000 that were “lost” en route to a business partner of Noe in Colorado named Mike Storeim, who’s since been accused of scamming the fund). Noe wrote off $850,000 of debt owed to the coin fund by another partner who had served a year in federal prison for laundering drug money, and after much prodding, Noe has now admitted that he can’t account for somewhere between $10 and $12 million in state money–cash that investigators suspect he stole.

Good grief.

Yes, this is from the Nation, but if Democrats had done engaged in this sort of nonsense, we would be screaming bloody murder. Incompetence is, after all, incompetence, regardless who the perpetrators are…

I Heartily Concur

Justice prevails:

Elizabeth Book wins the right to bare her breasts, one step further in her fight to go topless anywhere men can. A Volusia County Judge rules Book was within her rights when she bared her breasts during a political protest as part of Bike Week in March 2004.

Daytona Beach city’s ordinance allows an exemption to its anti-nudity law as long as the nudity is part of a political protest or other constitutionally protected issue. The judge also threw out her arrest and $253 fine.

Books argues the law unfairly singles out young women who flash their breasts for the crowd. She feels women shoud be allowed to go without shirts wherever men can.

I couldn’t agree more.

I Have a Scream

I love it:

While Democrats waited for the former presidential candidate, the state GOP held a Dean scream contest in anticipation of Dean’s arrival. A week ago, the party sent out a flier inviting people to a “No-show send Howard home rally” and garnered $22,000 in contributions, said Scott Malyerck, the state GOP executive director.

“We hope Howard Dean comes back every month,” Malyerck said.

The state GOP’s scream-off was intended to poke fun at Dean, whose attempt at a troop-rallying “yeah” after the 2004 Iowa caucus became the most laughed about moment of the campaign. Dean lost the next 16 contests, including a next-to-last showing in South Carolina a couple of weeks later.

The scream-off drew a handful of high school and college Republicans who were judged on “lack of poise in appearance” and “extent of angry, insane ranting.”

Contestants had to repeat Dean’s cry that his campaign was “going to South Carolina and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico. We’re going to California and Texas and New York, and we’re going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan. And then we’re going to Washington, D.C. to take back the White House – yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!”

Richard Hahn, a Dreher High School student, won the contest – embellishing Dean’s itinerary by adding Canada and Puerto Rico as campaign trail stops.

Hehe. That’s as funny as Operation Yellow Elephant. This is pretty damn amusing, too.

Someone Just Shoot Me Now

Yesterday, I saw the folks at Media Matters try to get this idiotic ball rolling:

After President Bush’s June 28 speech at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, reporters on ABC, NBC and Fox News noted that the only round of applause during the speech was initiated by Bush staffers. But CNN and MSNBC made no mention of the staffers’ role, instead attributing the outbreak of applause to the troops. CBS’ brief post-speech coverage made no mention of the applause.

Appearing on MSNBC, Newsweek managing editor Jon Meacham stated: “It was striking to me that the one moment of applause at that very well-disciplined military crowd was that ‘we will stay in the fight until the fight is won.'” CNN host Wolf Blitzer stated that just once “the troops at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, interrupted the president and politely applauded him.” CNN White House correspondent Dana Bash added that “it was quite noteworthy that there was only a round of applause at one particular moment” because the White House wanted it to be “sedate” in order avoid criticism for “having sort of a campaign or political rally.”

Congrats, guys. David Sanger picked up the ball and ran with it:

So what happened to the applause?

When President Bush visits military bases, he invariably receives a foot-stomping, loud ovation at every applause line. At bases like Fort Bragg – the backdrop for his Tuesday night speech on Iraq – the clapping is often interspersed with calls of “Hoo-ah,” the military’s all-purpose, spirited response to, well, almost anything.

So the silence during his speech was more than a little noticeable, both on television and in the hall. On Wednesday, as Mr. Bush’s repeated use of the imagery of the Sept. 11 attacks drew bitter criticism from Congressional Democrats, there was a parallel debate under way about whether the troops sat on their hands because they were not impressed, or because they thought that was their orders…

Capt. Tom Earnhardt, a public affairs officer at Fort Bragg who participated in the planning for the president’s trip, said that from the first meetings with White House officials there was agreement that a hall full of wildly cheering troops would not create the right atmosphere for a speech devoted to policy and strategy.

“The guy from White House advance, during the initial meetings, said, ‘Be careful not to let this become a pep rally,’ ” Captain Earnhardt recalled in a telephone interview. Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, confirmed that account.

As the message drifted down to commanders, it appears that it may have gained an interpretation beyond what the administration’s image-makers had in mind. “This is a very disciplined environment,” said Captain Earnhardt, “and some guys may have taken it a bit far,” leaving the troops hesitant to applaud.

Just shoot me now and get it over with, because I refuse to argue with any Democrats in the future that the lack of applause was proof that ‘even the military hated the Iraq mission and Bush.’ Because you know it is an argument someone will try to make. You just do.

Serenity now.

Thanks for Having My Back, Guys

Not that I ever would, but now I sure as hell will never work for Time:

Time Inc. said Thursday it would comply with a court order to deliver the notes of a reporter threatened with jail in the investigation of the leak of an undercover CIA officer’s name.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan is threatening to jail Matthew Cooper, Time’s White House correspondent, and Judith Miller of The New York Times for contempt for refusing to disclose their sources.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear the reporters’ appeal and the grand jury investigating the leak expires in October. The reporters, if in jail, would be freed at that time.

In a statement, Time said it believes “the Supreme Court has limited press freedom in ways that will have a chilling effect on our work and that may damage the free flow of information that is so necessary in a democratic society.” ‘

But it also said that despite its concerns, it will turn over the records to the special counsel investigating the leak.

Watch the sources for Time dry up, pronto, because when the going gets rough- they get going.

If you really believe there should be a privilege, a confidentiality, then the execs at Time should be doing everything they can to fight this, even if that includes a little lawlessness. If Cooper were to go to jail, they should be paying him a weekly salary for every day he is in, and checking on his family every day. Support your people, your reputation, and your sources.

Iranian Hostage Taker New President

CNN is confirming what My Pet Jawa reported yesterday– the new Iranian President elect was one of the ringleaders of the 1979 hostage crisis:

A quarter-century after they were taken captive in Iran, five former American hostages say they got an unexpected reminder of their 444-day ordeal in the bearded face of Iran’s new president-elect.

Watching coverage of Iran’s presidential election on television dredged up 25-year-old memories that prompted four of the former hostages to exchange e-mails.

And those four realized they shared the same conclusion — the firm belief that President-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had been one of their Iranian captors.

“This is the guy. There’s no question about it,” said former hostage Chuck Scott, a retired Army colonel who lives in Jonesboro, Georgia.

“You could make him a blond and shave his whiskers, put him in a zoot suit and I’d still spot him.”

Things just got more interesting. And make sure you go to My Pet Jawa’s rundown, which has numerous photographs from then and now.

Army Meets Recruiting Goal


Image Credit: NYT

For the first time since January, the Army met its recruiting goal this month, but it still faces what some senior Army officials say is a nearly insurmountable hurdle to meet the service’s annual quota.

Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a public forum at the Pentagon on Wednesday that the Army exceeded its June goal, but he gave no details. Senior Army officials said in interviews earlier in the day that the Army exceeded the quota of 5,650 recruits by about 500 people. The Army Reserve also made its first monthly goal since last December, the officials said.

That still leaves the active-duty Army about 7,800 recruits behind schedule to send 80,000 enlistees to boot camp with only three months to go in the recruiting year that ends on Sept. 30. The Army has not missed its annual enlistment quota since 1999, when a strong economy made recruiters’ lives miserable.

Army officials publicly insist that they can still reach their annual goal, especially with hundreds of new recruiters on the street for the peak summer recruiting month, armed with big enlistment bonuses and greater leeway to recruit more high-school dropouts and lower-achieving applicants.

But privately, senior Army officials voiced skepticism on Wednesday that the Army could make up the deficit.

“If you ask people point-blank, we just don’t have enough time left to make it,” said an Army official who has been briefed on the June figures, but who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Pentagon does not plan to release them publicly until early July.

They barely made their recruiting goals, and this is after adjusting the goals downward to reflect ‘changing market conditions.’

Two predictions:

1.) There is time to make up the deficit, and they will barely find a way to do it this summer. Maybe. That doesn’t make future recruiting scenarios any rosier, just that I know how resourceful these Army types are in a pinch.

2.) Hugh Hewitt is going to go absolutely ape-shit when he sees an anonymous Army source being quote in the NY Times saying they won’t be able to do it. Because everyone knows, you can’t trust anonymous sources. Plus- they are harder to punish when they stray from Hugh’s worldview. This article needed some balance- why, Hugh has five or six generals who will go on record saying the Army will meet its recruiting goal.

Also, if you are interested, the Washington Post has a long piece on how the Bush administration bringing in the academics to explain how to keep morale up on the homefront. Not a bad idea, at all.

Mexican Stamps

We start the morning, with, of all things, a discussion on Mexican stamps:


The Mexican government has issued a postage stamp depicting an exaggerated black cartoon character known as Memin Pinguin, just weeks after remarks by President Vicente Fox angered U.S. blacks.

The series of five stamps released for general use Wednesday depicts a child character from a comic book started in the 1940s that is still published in Mexico.

The boy, hapless but lovable, is drawn with exaggerated features, thick lips and wide-open eyes. His appearance, speech and mannerisms are the subject of kidding by white characters in the comic book.

Activists said the stamp was offensive, though officials denied it.

“That’s offensive!.”

“No, it isn’t.”

“Is too.”

“Is not.”

Which just goes to show how silly I am- a story about an allegedly racist stamp and all I can think about is how government is the same everywhere.

*** Update ***

LaShawn Barber writes:

Whenever I see racist caricatures of blacks from back in the day, I cringe. To think there was a time in the U.S. when whites openly mocked and ridiculed blacks with these exaggerated stereotypes, and blackface comedy was all the rage.

And then, after reading the CNN copy about the cartoon caricature:

Hapless but lovable? Who wrote this garbage? Probably some white, American, liberal journalist.

Discuss. Go read the Poorman (it is deep in the post).

The Chickenhawk Meme- Again

I really thought that back in 2002, Christopher Hitchens had effectively put the whole chickenhawk meme to bed. But the argument, if you can call it that, still exists in various forms.

One of the funnier variations (and yes- something can be insulting and stupid and still be funny- you have heard of SNL) is Operation Yellow Elephant. Now, mind you, I find the whole Operation Yellow Elephant thing a bit amusing myself, because, quite honestly, it is pretty damned funny that John Amato tried to put a recruiting advertisement in a College Republican publication and they refused because it was ‘too negative.’

Any way you slice it, that is worth a giggle. Reminds me of the kind of stuff Michael Moore did when he was still moderately amusing. It reminds me of the kind of stuff Evan Coyne Maloney is still doing. And, quite honestly, I dont think it would hurt a bit if more of the future leaders of the RepublicanParty and the country (presumably) had some military experience. But other than fun litle games like Operation Yellow Elephant, the whole ‘chickenhawk’ meme is a pretty nasty little piece of, well, nastiness. Hitchens, to his credit, takes it on another variation of the meme:

Oh, Jesus, another barrage of emotional tripe about sons. From every quarter, one hears that the willingness to donate a male child is the only test of integrity. It’s as if some primitive Spartan or Roman ritual had been reconstituted, though this time without the patriotism or the physical bravery. Worse, it has a gruesome echo of the human sacrifice that underpins Christian fundamentalism.

Can we just stop this and move on to real discussions of what is going on? I mean, I served, so if you want my opinion to count and your opinion to be null and void because you didn’t, fine by me. I wouldn’t mind it if Justin Raimondo or Barbara Boxer or Sheila Jackson Lee or any number of chowderheads were silenced. I also wonder what the polls might look like if only military members and veterans were allowed to comment on the operations in Iraq.

But, since that isn’t the way we work things, I am perfectly content to listen to them and ignore them at my leisure. Enough with this ‘chickenhawk’ business already -except Operation Yellow Elephant, which at least has the benefit of being creative and amusing.

More here and here.

Stimulating Conversations

If you ever wondered why Air America’s ratings suck, you need look no farther than this partial transcript from The Franken Factor:

FRANKEN: Well, you did, you know. And what you said after you quote the two sentences from Moynihan was —

KLEIN: Were there ellipses between the two sentences?


KLEIN: No. No. So in other words, there’s something that is missing.


CONASON: Al, this is Joe. Why don’t you read the actual, what Senator Moynihan really said —

FRANKEN: This was —

CONASON: — as opposed to what’s in Mr. Klein’s book.

FRANKEN: Well, this is what Moynihan said, and this is how he got into it. He said, “Now I have the great pleasure to welcome Mrs. Clinton to the farm and turn over the microphone to our candidate. Before you do, before I do… Oh, my God, I almost forgot. Yesterday Hillary Clinton established an exploratory committee as regards to her candidacy for the Senate, United States Senate from New York, a seat which I will vacate in a year and a half.” And then you pick up with, “I’m here to say, I hope she will go all the way. I mean to go all the way with her. I think she’s going to win. I think she’s going to be wonderful for New York.” So you leave out —

KLEIN: I left out an ellipsis.

CONASON: You did not.

FRANKEN: You didn’t leave out an ellipsis. You deliberately left out the —

KLEIN: There’s no —

CONASON: I know you don’t have the book in front of you. How much would you like to bet there’s no ellipsis on that page?

FRANKEN: No, he’s saying that’s what he left out.

KLEIN: That’s what I’m saying, Joe.

CONASON: No, there’s no ellipsis.

FRANKEN: No, he’s saying he left it out.

KLEIN: I should have put in an ellipsis.

Now, I am sure Franken, Conason, and the good folks at Media Matters had a point about all this, but, quite honestly, I started to fall asleep reading the transcript and had to go watch paint dry for a quick pick-me-up.

Fascinating radio, that.