February 28, 2011

Overnight Open Thread
— Maetenloch

Charlie Sheen and Drugs

Taking method acting further and longer than any other thespian dares. So far he's managed to stay in character for a record-setting 25 years.

And he's winning baby!

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more...

Posted by: Maetenloch at 04:52 PM | Comments (560)
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Reporter: Obama Privately Put Out Word at Dinner That Opposition To Him Was Based on "Subterranean" Racist Impulses
— Ace

This is important. Since 2007, Hillary Clinton partisans were complaining that while Obama pretended to be post-racial, in fact he was sending out his minions to make the bitterly racist attacks, while he floated above it all, clean.

They couldn't actually prove their case -- well, they knew Obama's supporters were making these bitterly-racist arguments on a daily basis, and that Obama did little to restrain them, but they couldn't prove he directed such attacks.

Same thing in the general election, of course -- Obama spoke behind closed doors about "bitter clingers" in Pennsylvania with their guns, religion, and racism, but pretended to be post-racial in public declarations. And his minions of course savagely attacked any who opposed him, often in racial terms.

I was just watching (for the first time) John Ziegler's Media Malpractice and I was struck how the media cast every charge against Obama -- such as Palin's statement that he "palled around with terrorists" -- as "racist."

Well, the terrorists Palin had in mind were white -- Ayers and Dohrn -- and a PLO guy. Who I guess isn't white per se but also isn't black, and no one can claim with a straight face that charging a PLO guy with terrorist-support was due to "racism."

But they did. They rushed to claim that Palin was fishing in racist waters, rather than just noting a provable fact.

In this way, 90% of Obama's election campaign was highly racialized -- anyone opposing him was a racist, and every criticism made of him was also racist, and therefore not worthy of discussion.

Obama's race was a perfect defense for everything. It was like a comedy sketch -- where you couldn't say anything about the guy without being screamed at for being "racist." (Well, Joe Biden could claim, of course, that it was just "story-book" that we were exposed to our very first "articulate and clean" African-American... that was just "sweet," not racist in the genial way a senile old man whittling on a swinging porch-seat is sweet rather than racist.)

This continues to this day. In 2009, Tea Partiers carried signs accusing Obama of being a socialist. Media conclusion? Racism.

Now, it has long been claimed that Obama's minions and the media (but I repeat myself) are just coming up with these nasty attacks themselves, and that our post-racial president has nothing, nothing at all to do with them.

Now we have proof from a reporter that's a lie.

Obama Reportedly Suggested Tea Partiers Are Partially Motivated By Race.

Kenneth T. Walsh, in a "Special Report" for US News Weekly (2/26) titled, "Race in the Era of Obama," writes that in May 2010, President Obama "told guests at a private White House dinner that race was probably a key component in the rising opposition to his presidency from conservatives, especially right-wing activists in the anti-incumbent 'Tea Party' movement. ... A guest suggested that when Tea Party activists said they wanted to 'take back' their country, their real motivation was to stir up anger and anxiety at having a black president, and Obama didn't dispute the idea. He agreed that there was a 'subterranean agenda' in the anti-Obama movement -- a racially biased one."

I don't have a cite yet, because it takes a few days for US News to add this stuff to its online site, but I have that from a very good source.

Posted by: Ace at 01:59 PM | Comments (440)
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Message From Cali Grump
— Ace

Apologies to all and thanks again to the wicked wit and savage love of the Morons. My words cannot begin to express how much it means to me.

Also, I'm sorry but will not be able to respond right away to any comments this may receive -- will be at the Kaiser Intensive Out Patient session most of today, where the hope is I'll learn to become a bit more human. That should be something interesting and new. I will let you know how that turns out. The first step will be learning to shut my mouth and contain the vitriol around the psychiatrists so that I don't get locked up again. If I don't return here, you'll know how that went.

Take care and flame on, Morons. Be the energy that feeds the fire that this country needs.

Good to be back.

-- Cali Grump

Another email came later. He wants to start a new party.


Got ejected from the nuthouse yesterday. Yeah, yeah, I know: 86'd from the nuthouse? Is OK, I've been thrown out of better places than that. Anyone who says I should get thrown back in will get no argument from me. I have to mention that the giftshop at the loony bin had some awesome straight-jackets. Can't wait to wear mine next time to the next Moron meetup.

I am deeply apologetic to both my long-suffering family and to my adopted family of the Morons. I didn't wish to garner any attention or concern, just wanted to say goodbye, as I figured I'd gone so far over the edge that getting locked up for good seemed like the only path I'd be on, and did not think I'd ever return to my second home here in the Land of Moron.

While I was locked away I had plenty of time to think. Like why people in the nuthouse were watching American Fucking Idol. As if their lives didn't suck enough already. Ah well, it could have been worse -- it could have been The View.

The other thought was that the residents here in the Land of Moron could become the catalyst for change in my beloved America. Specifically, The Flaming Skull Party.

If lefties don't like the Tea Party, they're going to hate the Flaming Skull Party. As Peggy Noonan is to the Stupid Party, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin and Ace would be to the FSP: the voices of dignified restraint. P.J. O'Rourke could serve as security cop, sitting on a barstool in the corner, every so often standing up to yell "Knock it off Morons -- that's a little over the top."

I really do think the Flaming Skull Party (FSP) would have broader and more deeply felt appeal than either major party or the Tea Party. And it would be a hell of a party. The t-shirts would be epic and of course, the guys'd get shirts.

I see all the debris being piled up on this wonderful country and I think the FSP could pour a can of gas on it and drop a lit match that starts an immense and cleansing fire, a flaming conflagration* that returns this country back into the glory she once was and will be again. America has been and still is the country that the world looks up to, but it can be even more majestic and frightening to the rest of the world, and most Americans would realize this and stand with a renewed pride in where they live and what it stands for. Except for lefties but who cares what they think; we always need examples of stupid behavior and that'd be at least one thing they'd be good at.

MLK jr had a dream: whoopie do. I have a vision: The Flaming Skull Party. Flame on Morons. It's burn baby burn time in America.

So, apparently he has found a reason to live: Hate. Well, that's all I'm living for so why not?

Let me thank -- no, not thank; that's the wrong word -- let me praise the virtue of the morons who took an interest and acted in the heroic interest of saving a fellow human and fellow moron from a bad decision.

Starting with the heroic Arhooley.

Every once in a while the universe gives someone the chance to make a difference. All praise to those who seized it.


Posted by: Ace at 12:44 PM | Comments (216)
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Study: Conservative Candidates Are Better Looking
— Ace

This was in the news last week.

The lefty sociologists who concluded this still have to spin for their freaking buddies.

“One possible explanation is that people who are seen or consider themselves beautiful tend to be more anti-egalitarian and rightwing,” Niclas Berggren, one of the three co-authors of the study, told AFP Wednesday.

[snip]

Explaining the findings, he said that globally, “the left perhaps traditionally has used a more rational approach.

The right meanwhile, “has been more conscious of the importance of looks,” he said, pointing to the examples of Ronald Reagan and Sarah Palin in the United States.

How does a study about looks provide any clue to the left's supposed use of a "more rational approach"? Seems to me this is as unscientific and emotional as you can get -- evidence supports a conclusion against your buddies, your cohort, so you immediately make stuff up with no evidence behind it to say "but my friends are better in a ll other ways."

"Science." I don't think that word means what you think it means.

Bookworm offers a just-as-scientific explanation:

I’d like to offer a different theory, one that is equally unsupported by fact, but that makes a great deal more sense. My theory is that unattractive people are often angry, unhappy people. They feel as if the world has treated them unfairly. They resent other people for having better looks and, with those better looks, having better luck in life. (As the same article points out, attractive people tend to be more successful.)

Another possibility is that, as Wisconsin has made blindingly clear, that one party is the Party of Government and the other party is the party of those not in government.

Those in the Party of Government prosper by networking with bureaucrats and essentially winning a secret poll of insiders with a vested interest in seeing the Party of Government prosper-- that is, the Party of Government chooses its nominees based less on public acclaim and more in insider-agreements, with unions and bureaucrats, which are never made public. The Party of Government therefore avoids genuine democratic primaries in favor of primaries substantially pre-determined or fixed by secret agreements and arrangements.

The Party of Outsiders, on the other hand, is forced to make a more traditional, transparent, and, ultimately, populist appeal, and looks are in such a traditional appeal more important. Because, unlike the case as with the Party of Government, the unions and bureaucracies haven't made decisions based on information and promises withheld from the government, but must make their appeal more transparently -- this is who I am, this is what I stand for, and, unavoidably, this is what I look like.

Or forget that. I think this dink was right -- this study showing left-wingers are ugly must prove, somehow, they are also rational. Because we all know that being unlovely and unloved promotes rationality and centeredness.

Posted by: Ace at 11:39 AM | Comments (258)
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Walker: You've Got 24 Hours To Return To Work Or Else I Start Laying People Off
— Ace

He sounds the right noises, noting he will still avoid layoff for as long as possible.

But if the Fleebaggers don't return to save the state's finances, he will not wait on them, and will start saving money through "aggressive" cost-curbing measures and layoffs.

I actually had hoped, upon seeing the headline, that he had decided to go with the quorum-avoiding tactic of just offering this packages as a non-budgetary one. There is justification for that: If the Fleebaggers are going to employ angle-shooting cheats to impose their will, Walker and the Republican Senators are justified in angle-shooting in return. (Angle-shooting is an aggressive, borderline-cheating style of poker play which basically consists of breaking rules in a deliberate but accidental-seeming manner but then relying on other players' sense of fair play to overlook the rules-breaking.)

But this is okay too. The public is with Walker and the forces of reform; Walker is setting this up so that his hand is forced.

Posted by: Ace at 10:03 AM | Comments (165)
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Most Important News of the Week: Some People Said Bad Things About Sarah Palin
— Ace

The Hammer asked for a thread about people talking about Palin. Fine.

Chris Christie says what I've been saying forever: If Palin wants to prove she has the mettle to stand up to Ahmadinejad, she has to show the mettle of standing up David Gregory and George Stephanopolous. Her FaceBook/Friendly Media agenda proves she can, like Barack Obama, give a fine interview when gently questioned; it doesn't prove she can actually stand up to the fire.

I keep hearing she's the only candidate who's been baptized by fire but I haven't actually seen her in fire for quite a long time.

But Chris Christie, and I, are bad people for noting this, or bad people for wondering what it will take for Palin to reverse her horrible unfavorable ratings.

Ann Coulter, newest member of the RINO Sell-Out Caucus, says that Palin isn't running, but is just maintaining the possibility of running because (as she claims Palin quoted Gingrich) you get paid more in speaking fees if people think you're running. (Coulter goes on to say that this is why Gingrich "pretends to run every four years" but no umbrage is taken over her dis of Gingrich.)

I actually think Coulter is unfair here. I thought this myself, but upon examining the situation, I had to conclude the charge was false.

First of all -- most importantly -- Sarah Palin maintains that she just might run for president because, um, she really might run for president. Now, I think that is an outside chance, and I think Palin thinks that's an outside chance too; but Palin herself says it's an outside chance (or puts it in a way that suggests she wouldn't run if a capable True Conservative did, at least). Furthermore, everything is a "might" situation in life, pretty much.

I think Palin says she might run for president because she might run for president. "Might" doesn't mean "will." It means might. I think that's true. We can argue about the likelihood of it, but in the end, I'm sure there's some chance under some circumstances she could run.

There are other reasons besides simple truth to maintain she could run -- it makes her more influential, and yes, it makes her richer. So there is a mixture of motives here, but you can't get past that first one -- it's also true, and that's motive enough, isn't it?

So I disagree with the RINO Ann Coulter here. But overall, of course, her greater sin is failing to get on Team Palin which we now know makes you a disreputable person who can only possibly be acting out of jealousy over the fact that you're aging badly while Palin still looks hot. (Yes, this is an explanation offered in the comments for Ann Coulter's failure to embrace Palin -- jealousy. I hear this sometimes here, in different variations.)

Nikki Haley claims she doesn't "owe" Palin a nomination and will make such a determination of who to endorse later. (No nasty comments there about Haley.)

I realize this post has a sneering tone. I'm at that point. I'm sneering. I do not believe that the most important story in politics is always who's saying supportive things about Palin and who's saying critical things. I think this is like American Idol balloting at this point.

There are more important things. This doesn't even make the top 50.

Posted by: Ace at 09:49 AM | Comments (1057)
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Does the Necessary and Proper Clause Authorize Laws Which Aren't Necessary and Seem Improper?
— Ace

poster-war-bonds.jpg

Someone was questioning my thoughts that the ObamaCare suit was an underdog. Here's some reasons it just might work.

The claim of constitutionality for ObamaCare rests upon two clauses of the Constitution (plus lots of interpretation and expansion since they were written).

The Commerce Clause authorizes Congress to regulate commerce between the states. This has been interpreted, rather expansively, as giving commerce the authority to regulate anything that "affects" interstate commerce, even if the action is itself entirely intrastate.

Example: Federal law controls how much corn you can grow. People challenged this, saying "Okay, I'm growing more corn than you allow, but it's not being sold to citizens of other states, but only within my state to other citizens within my state where the federal law can't touch me."

Held: If you sell the corn to intrastate customers, that means their need for corn from out of the state is therefore diminished, so your sale prevents (or discourages) an interstate sale, so it "affects" interstate commerce.

Ummm... as you probably know that means there is no practical limit to what the Commerce Clause authorizes. This idea, taken to its fullest, means that all other clauses of the Constitution which claim to limit federal power are null and void, because really, this one clause alone, given that expansive interpretation, is the real Constitution, then: Congress can do whatever it wants and all those other clauses limiting Congress are lies.

The Court has struggled with this, attempting to have it both ways, that the Commerce Clause is the Godmode of the Constitution, but gee, those other clauses must mean something; let's try to give the clause an expansive interpretation while still giving meaning to other clauses.

The other clause of capital importance here is the necessary and proper clause -- if the Constitution grants Congress the general power to do a particular thing, it also, by implication, grants Congress the power to undertake the specific steps necessary to do that thing. Congress' claimed power to act then is supposed to also grant it additional secondary powers to achieve the permitted goal.

So here are some thoughts I have on ObamaCare, challenging its constitutionality. Some of these I think I thought of myself, but I doubt I actually thought of them first; I'd bet a huge pile of money (if I had such) others have thought of this stuff long before me. But these arguments make sense to me, so I'd like to see them advanced more prominently.

1. The mandate is not necessary at all. There is a difference between "necessary" and "politically useful" or "politically expedient." Necessary means, by dictionary definition (and Scalia is a great proponent of going to the dictionary to resolve the meaning of the constitution) "required."

Breathing is necessary for my life. Netflix is not necessary for my life. It's just something I like.

Is the mandate "necessary" to implement ObamaCare, even assuming in the first place that Congress has the broad right to regulate health care nationally?

No, it's not. The goal of the mandate is just to force people to pay for coverage. Even if one assumes this goal is needed for health care (which it's not, by the way-- liberals have been proposing alternatives, in the wake of Judge Vinson's ruling, thus demonstrating that even the proponents of the bill do not believe this is necessary at all), we know there is an alternative method to reach this goal: imposing a tax.

It is conceded almost universally that by the broad grant of power to tax afforded Congress by the 17th amendment, Congress could impose a tax on each person of $1000, used to pay for a health care plan, rather than imposing a mandate of $1000 on each person. No one disputes this is possible (except for a fringe of anti-17th Amendment thinkers whose ideas are not accepted in the legal community).

Since Congress could easily, and without any realistic constitutional challenge conceivable, get to this end ($1000 from each person for health coverage) without a mandate, through a tax, it proves right there the mandate is not necessary at all.

Congress already had a tool, had a power, granting it the ability to levy a $1000 charge on each citizen for health care coverage. Rather than utilize that almost-without-challenge tool already it its possession, they chose instead to create for themselves a brand new power, the power to impose a mandate, the power to tell citizens they must make a particular purchase with their money.

I think right here the necessary and proper argument fails utterly. Congress already had a power to achieve its end but ignored that to create a new one. That was their choice, but their choice does not make this claimed power necessary.

This power was not required, which is what necessary means. This power was merely politically expedient, because they didn't want to admit this was a tax for purely political reasons. They insisted it was not a tax; fine, but they cannot claim they could not have achieved this outcome via a tax. So the mandate is simply not necessary, given an obvious alternative clearly available.

This is important, to me: They are trying to claim "necessary" means simply "politically expedient." It doesn't mean that. Necessary means necessary. Proving the power is not necessary means it's not necessary and the necessary and proper clause simply does not apply.

I think it's also important to note what another federal judge did -- that this game Obama is playing, claiming it's not a tax to get it passed, and then claiming, when challenged in court, that it is in fact a tax casts serious doubt on whether this bill was passed with the actual consent of the governed. Bills passed with the consent of the governed should be afforded the highest level of deference as far as courts striking them down; but bills passed, as this one was, apparently as a trick on the public (it's not a tax when we vote it into law, but now it is a tax when we are challenged on it in court) are not owed any such deference.

2. If Congress always had this power, why did it not utilize this power in all of American history until now? Another argument offered against the mandate is that if Congress always has possessed the ability to force people to purchase stuff they didn't want, how is it that no one realized this until 2009?

Certainly such a power would have been very useful in the past. That's why I put up that advertisement for war bonds at the top of the post -- during World War II, the government advertised the purchase of war bonds as patriotic. War bonds -- essentially loans made from a citizen to the government so that the government could fight a very costly war -- were very important in WW2. Without war bonds, we couldn't have covered the costs of the war against Hitler.

But note that post is encouraging the public to buy war bonds. Note it is specifically NOT saying:

Bear in mind, you are mandated by law to purchase a certain amount of war bonds, so make sure you are in compliance with the law and purchase yours today, before the Internal Revenue Service begins an investigation against you.

Those claiming ObamaCare is constitutional claim that health care is so important that it springs into life a new power, never before utilized by Congress in the past, or, alternately, a power Congress has always had, but hasn't used before, because it has not come across a situation of such importance that it felt justified the use of the always-available but never-used power.

Well, my answer to that is Hitler's Nazi Invasion of the World. It seems to me that defeating Hitler was also a very important goal -- one might say it was almost as important as ObamaCare, even! -- and yet Congress did not use this allegedly always-available power then.

If this power always existed, why did they forget to use it? Why did they simply encourage people to buy war bonds rather than mandating that they did?

Or if health care is so important that it only creates, like Zeus birthing Athena from his forehead, this power to mandate purchases now, can it really be claimed that ObamaCare is more important than defeating Hitler? Can it be maintained with a straight face that a health-care "reform" that came into being more or less randomly (due to Congress only being able to pass the Senate's half-baked plan due to Scott Brown's election as a 41st vote in favor of filibuster) is so much more important than Victory in World War 2 that this latest "health care crisis" created this power whereas Hitler's war machine failed to do so?

Correction: I meant the 16th Amendment (federal income tax) and not the 17th (direct election of senators), as commenters point out.

I literally always get these mixed up.

There are some words I know I always spell wrong so I adopt the rule "it's the opposite of what I think it is." But then I slowly get the right spelling in my head, but then apply the "it's the opposite of what I think it is" rule and get it wrong anyway.

This seems to be happening to me with the 16th and 17th. However, having gotten it wrong here, and now writing this correction, I think this will be the last time I make this error. So thanks.

Posted by: Ace at 09:00 AM | Comments (105)
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Obama: RomneyCare Is Kind Of Cool, Don't You Think?
— DrewM

Via Ben Domenech, this is going to leave a mark.

President Obama pointedly praised on Monday the healthcare program Republican Mitt Romney installed as governor of Massachusetts.

Obama singled out Romney for praise over his state's healthcare plan, which shares similarities with the president's national healthcare reform, in a bit of backhanded praise for the likely Republican presidential candidate.

"I agree with Mitt Romney, who's recently said he's proud of what he accomplished in Massachusetts," Obama said at a gathering of governors at the White House.

I'm sure Team Romney would like to spin this as proof Obama doesn't want to run against Mitt because he has the best shot at beating him. The problem is they can't do that without admitting that RomneyCare sucks. So they will have to spend a lot of time making the case that RomneyCare and ObamaCare aren't the same at all.

The problem with this is exactly what I wrote about last April.

He (Romney) might still be able to come up with a convincing narrative to explain the differences between MassCare and ObamaCare as well as his role in the former. But then the debate will be about Mitt and what he thought then vs. now and whether he can be reliable going forward. Meanwhile the focus will be off Obama and the damage done by this health care scheme.

Republicans need the issue to be a clean and clear choice...we have to nominate someone who was opposed to ObamaCare from the start. Only then will the focus stay on Obama and what he has wrought.

As I've said many times before, I'm not a big Mitt fan but I'm not a hater either. He's just not the guy this time if you want to make repealing ObamaCare (and its job killing nature) an issue in the 2012 election.

Posted by: DrewM at 08:56 AM | Comments (98)
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More Would Blame Democrats For Government (Not a) Shut-Down Than Republicans, 29%-23%
— Ace

With the rest, I guess, saying they don't know or they blame both.

When the GOP breaks faith with the base in order to gain a political advantage by appearing moderate, the only argument they can offer the base is that "we had to; politics required it."

As you know, I'm not exactly immune to that line of reasoning -- I do believe in some cases discretion is the better part of valor.

But this is a fact-based inquiry; it depends on the actual facts. "We had to do it for political reasons" is not and never can be an all-purpose get out of jail free card for selling out key ideological principles. In some cases, they may be unachievable, and therefore it may be (to people who think like me) acceptable to take the half loaf of bread instead of losing the whole loaf.

But in other cases -- and this seems to be one of those "other cases" -- politics is in fact on the ideological warriors' side, so the "politics made me do it" excuse doesn't fly.

Just putting that out there: That I believe (and I think a lot of conservatives believe) that there is not a particularly strong political reason to cave on spending just to avoid a shut-down, and if the GOP caves in the face of this not-threatening threat, it will be perceived as not being forced on the GOP but rather what they always secretly wished to do anyway.

Confirmatory Poll: Rasumussen has a reinforcing finding -- 58% of the public would prefer a "partial" shut-down (which is what a shut-down is) rather than see Congress spend at last year's levels.

The GOP has a relatively strong hand here, or at least a historically strong one. The public is rarely in the genuine (as opposed to gestural) mood for real (as opposed to hypothetical) spending cuts.

The GOP cannot act as if it's business as usual because the business here is facing a rare opportunity for windfall.

Again, I know I'm personally not going to be on board for yet another GOP cave.

If they cave again, what good are they? What is the point?

Posted by: Ace at 08:07 AM | Comments (156)
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Frank W. Buckles, The Last American Veteran Of WWI Dies At Age 110
— DrewM

And then there were none.

Mr. Buckles, who was born by lantern light in a Missouri farmhouse, quit school at 16 and bluffed his way into the Army. As the nation flexed its full military might overseas for the first time, he joined 4.7 million Americans in uniform and was among 2 million U.S. troops shipped to France to vanquish the German kaiser.

Ninety years later, with available records showing that former corporal Buckles, serial No. 15577, had outlived all of his compatriots from World War I, the Department of Veterans Affairs declared him the last doughboy standing. He was soon answering fan mail and welcoming a multitude of inquisitive visitors to his rural home.

"I feel like an endangered species," he joked, well into his 11th decade. As a rear-echelon ambulance driver behind the trenches of the Western Front in 1918, he had been safe from the worst of the fighting. But "I saw the results," he would say.

With his death, researchers said, only two of the approximately 65 million people mobilized by the world's militaries during the Great War are known to be alive: an Australian man, 109, and a British woman, 110 .

It sounds like Mr. Buckles had quite the life, he actually spent most of WWII in a Japanese prison camp.

When I was a kid in the 70's and 80's, WWI vets seemed so few and ancient even back then. It's hard to believe that kids today must feel that way about WWII vets.

The march of time and all of that.

Posted by: DrewM at 05:11 AM | Comments (138)
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Top Headline Comments 2-28-11
— Gabriel Malor

Behold my true form, and despair!

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 02:01 AM | Comments (266)
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February 27, 2011

Overnight Open Thread
— Maetenloch

The Lord of the Rings Series

So I just finished re-reading the entire Lord of the Rings series including The Hobbit (~1400 pages). And it still holds up very well. I think the last time I read the whole thing was back in the early 80s and I was probably too young at the time to fully appreciate a lot of the story nuances.

lotr_books_covers8_sm.png

Two things I noticed during this read - one is that The Hobbit has a lot of foreshadowing and hints of the grander story sprinkled throughout it. Which would be pretty amazing of Tolkien to have dropped clues of things that wouldn't appear for another 10 years and 1000 pages later.

But it turns out that after he finished the LotR trilogy, he went back and edited The Hobbit to make it more consistent with the later story. Still maintaining the consistency between the layers of the story over such a long tale is quite an achievement.

Another thing is that Tolkien really dwells on describing the landscapes in full detail down the type of rocks and shrubbery the characters pass through. This was annoying the first time I read the series since I was in a rush to get to the action and find out what happened next. This time I could appreciate it as way of placing the reader into the book's world and giving you the feeling that you truly were traveling on an difficult and epic journey.

Plus having read some of the early fantasy that inspired Tolkien (like William Morris' The Well at the End of the World) I can see how it was common to make the geography practically a character in its own right.

So anyway if you haven't read the LotR series (even if you've seen the movies), go read them. You won't regret it. more...

Posted by: Maetenloch at 04:02 PM | Comments (608)
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Oscars Thread
— Ace

If you're interested.

Posted by: Ace at 03:24 PM | Comments (335)
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Latest Threat to Domestic Tranquility - "Fox Geezer Syndrome"!
Also, Open Thread [ArthurK]

— Open Blogger

"... I would call my mom and get ... hometown gossip... more recently [my Mom] began peppering our conversation with red-hot remarks about President Obama."
more...

Posted by: Open Blogger at 11:09 AM | Comments (419)
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Sunday Book Thread
— Monty

A few new books this week.

First up is Walter M. Miller, Jr.'s classic novel A Canticle For Leibowitz. (I had to replace my old paperback copy, which finally fell apart from having been read so many times.) This book is usually classed as "science fiction" or "post-apocalyptic fiction", but it defies easy categorization. It's easily one of the best novels of the 20th century, in my view. (A good companion volume to this book is Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose.)

I like hardboiled detective fiction, especially from the old Hammet/Chandler era. (Though my appreciation of Dash's work suffered when I found out he was a goddamned Commie.) Not many writers still work in this genre in the present day, and the best of these is James Ellroy of L. A. Confidential fame. But this is not his best book, in my view: his best is The Big Nowhere. If you like your dames sultry and lippy, your crimes bloody, and your cops unafraid of a brutality beef, than Ellroy is your man.

Augustine's City of God is one of those essential books that comprise one of the foundation stones of the Western world. It is at once a book of theology, history, and politics (Augustine of Hippo originally intended it as a defense of Christianity against those who thought the Christians had brought down the Roman Empire). The book ended up being more about the eternal conflict between good and evil, between the desires of a man's body versus that of his spirit, and the difficulty of living a good life on a fallen earth. I'm always shocked at how few high schools or colleges assign this book any more (or if they do, they relegate it to "Religious Studies" courses when it should more properly be in the Western Civ curriculum). It's not exactly an easy read, but it's very worthwhile.

What's everyone else reading?

Posted by: Monty at 04:21 AM | Comments (255)
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Top Headline Comments 2-27-2011 [Andy]
— Open Blogger

Woke to a few inches of fresh Global Warming this morning. When is this crap going to end?

Video of more smelly Wisconsin hippies below the fold to get your blood pumping as you await the book thread. more...

Posted by: Open Blogger at 04:12 AM | Comments (186)
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February 26, 2011

Overnight Open Thread
— Genghis

Now with 100% more LoafDog!

Practically no LoafDog below the fold... more...

Posted by: Genghis at 05:23 PM | Comments (621)
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Kathleen Parker's Exit
— rdbrewer

Ace called it correctly a long time ago:

We liveblogged the first show and it was pretty clear that Kathleen Parker 1, had nothing much to say except about her One Big Topic of Sarah Palin (and nothing new there, either), and, even if you're whoring for ratings, you can't talk about her every night, can you?, and 2, was a wallflower without any command of the studio and without the sort of aggressive confidence needed to be a broadcaster.

John Ziegler makes similar points in this piece for Meidaite. Ziegler was the guest several months ago who confronted Parker about her role in the "assassination" of Palin as a candidate during the 2008 election cycle and elicited the odd response from Parker that she "didn't take part in [the assassination]; she led it." (Video below the fold.) He predicted the failure of the show then.

But the primary reason why the program couldn’t work is also the very reason Parker got the gig in the first place. She was clearly hired because she was perceived as a “conservative” who was willing to vigorously attack Palin, while not holding any particularly strong conservative opinions which might offend the largely liberal CNN audience. It is hardly a secret that the best (and perhaps only) way for an unknown or career-challenged conservative to achieve mainstream media acceptance is to be a sellout to their supposed cause (just ask Arianna Huffington, Peggy Noonan, David Brooks, David Frum, Michael Smerconish, or Joe Scarborough, to name only a few).

Criticizing Palin (along with endorsing Obama) has quickly become the most reliable path to instant notoriety/credibility for ambitious “conservatives,” and Parker became the poster child for this phenomenon. . . .

However, there is apparently a downside side to getting a show this way. Much like a guy who spends all his cash to get the girl and has nothing left to keep her, Parker had no capital with which to make the show a ratings success. . . .

With no spark, no friction, no talent, and no audience base, Parker brought nothing to the table, and the show was clearly doomed.

(Emphasis mine.) As Ace said during the liveblog that first night, it was almost like Parker was right there and part of the action.

More at the link, including some first-class snark. Like Ziegler says, the show's failure wasn't an Earth-shattering prediction. I think we all knew it was going to be a dud. What is strange is that CNN wasn't able to foresee the outcome more...

Posted by: rdbrewer at 03:57 PM | Comments (91)
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There's a shocking amount of energy being found [ArthurK]
— Open Blogger

Here's a linkfest for news about shale gas, oil from shale rock,tar sands and such. We keep finding more of it. It'd be nice if we were able to USE more of it in the US. They seem pretty excited about shale gas in the UK, Europe and Israel.


-------------------


US proved natural gas, crude oil reserves soar

* Gas reserves rise most in U.S. history

* Technology advances, not new fields, boost reserves


U.S. natural gas reserves increased by the most in history last year, and crude reserves also rose, as companies drilled frantically into shale rock
formations with new technology...

U.S. net proved crude oil reserves rose 9 percent, or 1.8 billion barrels, to 22.3 billion barrels in 2009. Texas saw its proved oil volumes rise most, by 529 million barrels, or 11 percent.

North Dakota, home of the oil-rich Bakken Shale formation, saw its reserves jump by a whopping 83 percent, or 481 million barrels.

more...

Posted by: Open Blogger at 01:52 PM | Comments (180)
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D.C. Union Rally as Predicted: Old Tone, Teabagger and Koch Jokes, Van Jones
— Gabriel Malor

Just got back from what was billed by MoveOn.org as part of a nationwide union solidarity protest. In fact, it was really a bunch of loosely-connected leftist groups complaining about the usual suspects: corporations, the rich, Speaker Boehner, the Tea Party, and men. Probably between 400 and 500 people showed up and stayed for about 45 minutes.

I was there with fellow undercover cons @mamaswati, @alwaysonoffense, and @mattdeluca (who you might like to follow on twitter). Photos below are accurately tagged, so if you "borrow" one, please credit the appropriate photographer.
more...

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 12:02 PM | Comments (135)
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