January 31, 2013

NYT: Menendez Did Favor for Big Money Donor Melgen
— Ace

Interesting piece, which I think should be read in full, even if you're not following the Menendez story.

It's a story about the very snuggly relationship between high-dollar donors and their politician "friends" and the favors these "friends" do for each other.

L to R: Guilty; Also Guilty

Just a little joke there, fellas. Just a joke. Protected as parody. Parodying the L to R identification in newspaper pictures with a deliberately risible rush to judgment.

So calm down.

The short version is that Melgen had bought a contract in the Dominican Republican giving him rights to deliver port-security services to that country; the contract was worth, it's said, up to $500 million. (Actually at another point the figure $50 million per year for 20 years is cited, which, by my math, is a cool billion with a b, daddyo.)

The Dominican Republic didn't want to honor the contract and Melgen dialed up his Very Good Friend Bob Menendez, who in turn called up some of his Friends at State, who in turn exerted their influence to make sure the contract was honored.

So all these Friends act together so that one of their Friends can cash a $500 million contract. (Or a billion.)

Melgen gives an awful lot of money to Democrats. He also throws some money to local (Florida) Republicans, including Mario Rubio and Ilena Ros-Lehtinen.

Earlier today ABCNews (which had the Menendez tip about the prostitutes last May and apparently did nothing with it) broke this related story:

Officials: Agents Raided Office of Menendez Friend After Document Shredding Truck Spotted

Federal agents raided the West Palm Beach eye clinic of a longtime friend and political supporter of Sen. Robert Menendez earlier this week after a document shredding truck was observed at the building, following attempts by FBI agents to question Dr. Salomon Melgen about his relationship with the New Jersey Democrat, according to federal officials familiar with the investigation.

The execution of the search warrant was carried out by a federal health care task force, with agents from both the FBI and the federal Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General's office, which had been investigating suspected Medicare fraud by Melgen's clinics for more than a year, the sources told ABC News.

Oh right, I forgot that: the good Friend Doctor Melgen's clinics were suspected of defrauding Medicare, too.

The raid appeared unrelated to recent allegations regarding Menendez's trips to Melgen's home in the Dominican Republic.

I highlight that because the raid, then, seems connected to this business about favor-trading.

And there's still more in the NYT story. Enter Harry Reid:

In the end, Mr. Menendez won [the 2012 NJ senate contest] with about 58 percent of the vote, partly because of the support he received from Majority PAC, a “super PAC” set up by former aides to Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic majority leader.

As the campaign entered its final weeks, the PAC poured $582,500 into New Jersey to support Mr. Menendez’s re-election effort. One of the organization’s biggest donors? Dr. Melgen’s company, which donated $700,000 between June and October.

There's a media angle, too: Melgen set up a Latino-news website, "Voxxi," which praised Menendez to the skies (and also agitated for this contract deal). A former employee says Melgen instructed him to replace positive coverage of Latino politicians like Rubio and instead praise Menendez.

And Menendez did more than just contact State officials behind-the-scenes, by phone. He also questioned State officials at Senate hearings, acting, essentially, as Melgen's mouthpiece:

And at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere last July, he questioned two administration officials — Francisco J. Sánchez, the undersecretary for international trade at the Commerce Department, and Matthew Rooney, the deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs for the State Department — about why the United States government had not been more aggressive on the issue. The senator said more security was needed given the drug trade on the island.

He does not seem to mention "Dr. Melgen is my 'Friend' who gives me tens of thousands of dollars (at a minimum)."

Now, doing favors for high-dollar donors is (or should be) a criminal violation. But in case you want to know about the underlying argument about the contract: There are claims on both sides. The Dominican government says the contract was gained by a one-sided process, and is essentially corrupt, and against its interests as a nation. Menendez and Melgen argue that this is about the Drug Trade and how Drug Smugglers just don't want Dr. Melgen going all Sonny Crocket on their lucrative Drug Business.

I can't hash that out and I doubt we'd ever have an answer there.

But we do know Menendez intervened on his Friend's behalf, making the US Government, effectively, his Friend's contract attorney.

One last thing: I thought this was in the Times article but now I don't see it. Perhaps I picked it up off Twitter. But the claim was made that the whole Underage Prostitute story was some kind of false claim made by Drug Dealers to get Menendez and Melgen out of the customs-inspection business.

I bring that up as it's an interesting defense -- which you may be hearing more about soon -- and also because maybe it would explain something that sparked my skepticism about the prostitute allegations (as I understand them; see My Caveat at post's end).

Update on My Caveat: @johnnyfriegas was kind enough to translate the emails for me, and they do not contain the second prostitute saying "I know I was underage because it was just before my birthday," which would have been suspicious because the other one says that true.

But she doesn't say that. She just says the first tryst occurred near her birthday.

So I'm less suspicious. Though also not going all-in on the claims of prostitutes.

Bonus Jokes: I felt like I owed Breitbart a picture joke too, so I did one for them.


Posted by: Ace at 06:53 PM | Comments (213)
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overnight thread thingy (does it even matter what day it is)
— Maetenloch


You've already lived the good old days.


Posted by: Maetenloch at 05:27 PM | Comments (622)
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Amusing: Reporter Takes the Piss Out of Videobomber
— Ace


Actually, it doesn't really work though.

Explanation: Sorry, in case you didn't catch the context: she's just doing a report on the Super Bowl or something. Nothing to do with STDs. When the drunk woman insists on sharing the shot, she pretends it's an STD report and identifies her as having an STD, hoping this will make her go away.

It actually doesn't.

Posted by: Ace at 04:31 PM | Comments (188)
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White House, Lautenberg Shift Away from Senator Bob Menendez
— Ace

via @johnekdahl, who collected all these up throughout the day.

Three time's a trend.

Frank Lautenberg: "if there are infractions as they are reported, it’s too bad."

Yes, too bad.

Terry Macauliffe just says he don't know nothin' about nothin'.

Below, Jay Carney refuses to answer a reporter's question as to whether the White House has "full confidence" in Robert Menendez. Jay Carney just says he's got nothing on that. more...

Posted by: Ace at 01:38 PM | Comments (556)
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CNN's Dana Bash: Several Senators Are in "Shock" Over Hagel's Bumbling Performance
— Ace


Several senators- even undecideds-tell me there's a ton of buzz on senate floor about hagel's lackluster performance. "Shock" is the word

Sorry for all the Hagel stuff today. I certainly didn't plan it (or expect it).

Posted by: Ace at 12:30 PM | Comments (374)
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Hagel: Don't Sweat It, I Won't Actually Make Any Policy Decisions as Secretary of Defense; Also, If Confirmed, I Plan to Learn Some Things About the Defense Department
— Ace

It's not the crime, it's the cover up.

It may well be that what makes Chuck Hagel famous -- in the wrong way -- is not his unsteady bumbling on questions of substance, which, frankly, most people don't know about.

It might be that it's his attempts to explain away his gaps in knowledge that doom him.

First quote, Hagel attempting to reassure people that he won't be trusted to make policy decisions anyway, so it's safe to install him in the job:

"I won't be in a policymaking position."

Next, Chuck Hagel explaining away his morning errors and ignorances:

"If confirmed I intend to know a lot more than I do."

Great. So if we give him a job he's unqualified for, he promises he'll study up and learn a few things about the job. At some point.

Or, at least he'll be poised to do so.


Posted by: Ace at 12:05 PM | Comments (150)
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Hagel Pleads Ignorance: "I have a hard enough time understanding American politics, I certainly don't understand Iranian politics."
— Ace

I think it's high time America finally got over age-old prejudices and installed a Dummy as SecDef.

I joked earlier that the spin had changed from "Hagel is a smart, informed, capable man" to "Hagel's too dumb to understand words that are said to him so you can't hold these things against him."

I guess it wasn't entirely a joke.

Now, the chances of Hagel being blocked remain on the low side -- Republicans are abandoning him, but Democrats can (and will) push him through, being the party of Central Planning Lockstep Cultish Behavior. Whatever Bambi wants, you know.

The only way Republicans could stop him is if they filibuster -- but will they resort to that tough measure?

Hagel has stupidly, ignorantly bumbled through most of the proceedings:

Meanwhile, as The Cable reported Wednesday, the White House is preparing to ask Russia to start a new round of nuclear-reduction negotiations and is also examining options for unilateral reductions if the Russians don't agree.

"I was a little uneasy about Hagel's answers," Sessions told The Cable about the exchange. "I thought he treated it too lightly and suggested far too readily that there's no conflict between the Global Zero report and what the Department of Defense and the president's position is on nuclear weapons."

Hagel also stumbled by saying he supported President Barack Obama's policy of containment with Iran, before Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) corrected him and said that the administration's policy was to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, not to contain a nuclear Iran.

And he also claimed the Iranian government -- which staged a coup against the elected president in 2008 -- was an "elected, legitimate" government.

The fact that Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz cross-examined him effectively is overshadowing this other point: That even without tough, pointed questionings, Chuck Hagel showed himself to be generally ignorant, uninformed, and detached from any actual intellectual engagement with the issues he would (frighteningly) be called to resolve and advise the President on.

This is what we give our boys? This idiot?

Much, much more at Hot Air. Allah is pessimistic on the prospects of a filibuster, and I'm pretty sure I agree -- if you game this out, you can see that a lot of Republicans will calculate they can please the base simply by voting "No," but permitting Democrats to vote "Yes."

The key then would be to make Hagel unacceptable to swing-state Democrats.

A point made by @rbpundit (I think): The media isn't covering Lindsey Graham's cross-examination, because they have no way to spin it. With Ted Cruz, they've got an avenue of spin ("unfair," "taken out of context"). They don't have any kind of wedge with Graham's cross-examination, so their method of spinning it is their old standby, embargoing it.

As for Ted Cruz, the left is spinning that Hagel "merely" said that Israel's anti-terrorist efforts against Hezballah were the moral equivalent of Hezballah's terrorism -- and what's so bad about that?, they'd like to know.

Dum-Dum Rounds: A Democrat quipped, “It is very clear from the testimony that Sen. Hagel will not be bringing the potato salad to the next Mensa picnic.”

Quick, let's confirm him. We need the Dumb Perspective represented in government.

Posted by: Ace at 11:32 AM | Comments (278)
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Concern-Trolling Roland Martin
— Ace

"Concern trolling" isn't quite right, as I actually am concerned and not just pretending.

Still, I used concern-troll tactics.

I thought it was kind of funny. So if you like, here's my concern trolling of Roland Martin.

Posted by: Ace at 10:48 AM | Comments (178)
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Phil Mickelson Flirts With Immortality... and Comes Up Inches Short
— Ace

On his last put, Mickelson was about 12-15 feet out. He putted perfect, dead center, straight for the hole. But he was a little too soft, and wound up three inches away. He knocked in for par.

Now, had he had that birdie, he'd have gone into the last hole needing a birdie for a 58, the first in PGA history.

As it stands, he a birdie gets him 59 -- nice, but a score others have reached. (He'd be the sixth to hit a PGA 59.) Only an eagle could get him his 58.

He did drive perfectly, though.

So: If he puts it in the cup from here, 150 yards out or whatever, he's got a 58. Otherwise, it's just a case of so. Damn. Close.

"Cruel:" He had a long put to make a 59, to make him the 6th PGA player in history to shoot a 59. His put was perfect, went into the hole... and rode the edge of the cup, and squirted back out!

So he knocks in for par, finishing 60, 11 under par. He ties the course record, for what it's worth, but he already had a piece of that course record.

So, so close. And yet so far.

Posted by: Ace at 10:25 AM | Comments (170)
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Anti-Israel (and Former Media Matters Writer) M.J. Rosenberg: I Have Discussed Israel With Chuck Hagel, and He's Lying About His Beliefs, & I'm Glad He's Lying Because I Want That Sort of Thinker as SecDef
— Ace

Holy crap.

When a supporter says you're a liar, and that you're anti-Israel... you've got a problem.

A wise man once spoke of beds and fleas and waking up.

Thanks very much to Miss80sBaby.

Posted by: Ace at 09:53 AM | Comments (269)
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Ted Cruz Plays Slap the Dummy
— Ace

Ted Cruz may have sunk Hagel.

The Israel question won't hurt Hagel too much -- it's a niche question that only Jews and conservatives care about. Non-Jewish Democrats despise Israel and generally agree with Hagel's dark conspiracies about the "Jewish Lobby."

But Cruz might have made Hagel a very difficult for Democrats. Cruz played audio of Hagel agreeing with a questioner's premise that the US was "the world's bully," complimenting that sentiment as an "important observation" (or words to that effect).

Will our troops really be led by someone who calls them The World's Bully?

Little bonus on that question and response: Hagel said this on.. Al Jazeera.

Consider the politics there.

The left's counter-spin -- and they are already spinning like tops, all the "reporters" like Chuck Todd -- is that Hagel "merely accepted" the premise, he did not offer it himself. And, they say further, is someone appearing on Al Jazeera really required to dispute all premises he disagrees with?

But the same people have claimed that politicians are indeed required to dispute questioner's premises -- see, for example, the ruckus they made when Rick Santorum failed to object to the premise that Obama was a Muslim. And you of course remember all the media attacks in 2008 over McCain's/Palin's failure to silence every single dumb shout at a rally.

But now they're claiming someone can call the US (and its military, of course) "the world's bully" on Al Jazeera and Chuck Hagel can call this an "important observation" and that's okay because We Said.

Update: Here's the Al Jazeera clip in question.

via @brianfaughan and @amandacarpenter

Posted by: Ace at 09:31 AM | Comments (152)
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Chuck Hagel, Bumbling Lightweight (Who Might Also Hate Jews)
— Ace

Later on today, there will be video from Hagel's hearings. Right now as I type this Lindsey Graham is brutalizing him ( on CSPAN, the main one).

As this will be recapped in an hour or three, I won't bother now.

Brit Hume made a simple but deadly observation about Hagel's performance -- "he's just not very bright."

And he's not. While the media is intensely interested in the intellectual capacity of any Republican (unless that Republican is obviously intelligent, in which case they don't mention IQ at all), they never discuss the intelligence of the dimmer-bulb Democrats or Republicans like Hagel, who can be counted as allies.

Hagel's dumb. He's just not smart enough to be Secretary of Defense. Our troops deserve a bright man who understands complex systems and has the intellectual curiosity to discover what he doesn't know. Not a bumbling dummy whose deepest thoughts are about the "Jewish lobby."

Brief Clip: Alas this is just a short one. But this basic sort of thing went on for ten minutes. It's a cumulative thing. Seeing someone stumble and bumble for 90 seconds is no big deal; but ten minutes of stumbling and bumbling looks dumb.

Longer Clip:


Posted by: Ace at 08:32 AM | Comments (455)
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AP: NBC Refused to Address Question of Deceptive Edit
— Ace

AP actually calls NBC out for this. I made this point yesterday: NBC issued a statement claiming they'd reviewed the controversy, and they decided that opinions could vary on whether or not the father was "heckled" at the proceeding.

That's a whitewash in and of itself (no, there is no question), but the characterization of the controversy as such is itself deceptive: The real question -- and there is no question about the answer to this question -- was whether or not NBC

once again

doctored video or audio to create a false impression for purposes of sensationalizing a story for its liberal partisan audience.

Because that question has a brutally simple answer -- "Yes" -- NBC just pretended it wasn't a question at all.

And AP does in fact notice this.

MSNBC invited viewers Wednesday to draw their own conclusions about whether the parent of a Connecticut school shooting victim was heckled at a legislative hearing but didn't address criticism that it aired a deceptively edited video of the event.

The NBC-owned cable news network found itself under attack for its editing practices less than a year after three employees of NBC or an NBC-owned station lost their jobs over the editing of a 911 call in the Trayvon Martin case.


The passage as aired by MSNBC received criticism for being deceptive.

"This is not how a legitimate, professional news organization operates," said Brent Bozell, founder of the Media Research Center, a conservative media watchdog. "MSNBC's relentless anti-gun advocacy is bad enough, but this is downright dishonest."

MSNBC spokeswoman Lauren Skowronski did not immediately address questions about why MSNBC made the changes or whether criticism that it was misleading is valid.

Posted by: Ace at 07:44 AM | Comments (217)
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DHS Study: Mass Shooters Prefer Handguns, Not Likely To Be Veterans
— andy

It's almost like the hysteria over "assault rifles" is pure political theater.

This is what a mass killer looks like, according to a Department of Homeland Security analysis. He works alone. He uses a semi-automatic handgun. He’s a he. And he probably didn’t serve in the U.S. military.

That’s the conclusion of a November 28 analysis by the New Jersey branch of the Department of Homeland Security’s partnership with state and local law enforcement. The so-called intelligence “Fusion Center” sifted through data on 29 major mass killings in the U.S. since 1999, starting with the Littleton, Colorado school shooting. Its practical advice is to be more concerned by your co-worker with the bad hygiene who mutters about putting his “things in order” than by the war veteran in the next cubicle.

Data? That stuff's not important when you're simply using a tragedy to advance your long-stated policy goals.

The report (pdf) is worth a read to show just how little difference any of the proposals from the left would do to actually address the topic. This fact in particular just leaped off the page at me ("literally" as gun-grabbing Joe Biden might say):

Typically, the immediate deployment of law enforcement
is required to stop the shooting and mitigate further harm to victims. Typically, active shooter situations are over within 10 to 15 minutes.

Let me rephrase that for you: "Typically, victims are sitting ducks for the 10-15 minutes it takes law enforcement to arrive."

This is what happens when the government mis-focuses its crime prevention efforts on preventing law-abiding citizens from using firearms to defend themselves. When the left says, "the police are there to protect you", what it really means is, "you're expendable".

(h/t to the inimitable S. Weasel for the PhotoShop)

Posted by: andy at 05:45 AM | Comments (486)
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Top Headline Comments 1-31-13
— Gabriel Malor

Happy Thursday.

Yeah, about that "heckling" business, I really like the second video embedded here.

Bad sign: insurance companies in the individual market have stopped guaranteeing annual premium rates. Now they're going month to month, and it's not because they expect premiums to be going down.

Oh, and there's a "glitch" in Obamacare that will price some families out of the health insurance market. Democrats were apparently hoping the IRS would undo the law via regulation, but the regs were issued yesterday and no luck. The most IRS says it will do is decline to fine families who can't afford insurance under the mandate, which, uh...seems to me does away with the mandate.

Jim Pethokoukis pushes back on the Democrats' silly idea that 'austerity' is responsible for Obama's disastrous economy.

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 01:49 AM | Comments (242)
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Prostitute: Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, Incoming Democratic Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, Liked the "Youngest," "Newest" Prostitutes
— Ace

You don't say ...

In a little-noticed email published online Wednesday by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a young Dominican woman wrote nine months ago that she slept with 59-year-old New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez at a series of sex parties organized by Dr. Salomon Melgen, a longtime Menendez campaign donor.

“That Senator also likes the youngest and newest girls,” the woman wrote on April 21, 2002, according to an English translation provided to The Daily Caller by a native Spanish speaker.

“In the beginning he seemed so serious, because he never spoke to anyone, but he is just like the others and has just about the same tastes as the doctor, very refined. I think they were taking us more often to get us checked [medically] because of him.”

"The doctor," I assume, refers to one Melgen, a big Menendez donor. It was on this Melgen's private jet that Menendez swooped down on the Dominican Republic (rather like a fat bird of prey).

There's more tawdry details to the story. (I have a caveat about this I'm putting under the fold because my own caveat is based on an imperfect understanding.)

There's more to this story: Did Menendez reimburse Melgen for the flight costs, or disclose that he was accepting a gift from a "personal friend"? This is important, because not reimbursing someone, or disclosing the gift, would be a violation in its own right; and, further, if this trip was kept off-books, it suggests maybe there's a reason for a dark flight.

Now, Menendez did reimburse Melgen... "recently."

Senators may also accept travel on a plane owned by a personal friend, so long as the person is not a lobbyist, and report the travel as a gift on disclosure forms. A gift worth more than $250 also requires approval of the Ethics Committee and disclosure by the senator, notes Ken Gross, a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. Menendez does not appear to have reported such gifts on his disclosure documents in recent years.


Menendez Chief of Staff Danny O’Brien told NBC on Wednesday that the senator recently paid Melgen $58,000 as reimbursement for two trips on the doctor’s plane. O’Brien said Menendez’s staff discovered the error after an ethics complaint was filed by a New Jersey Republican official last November.

O’Brien said he was “chalking it up to an oversight.” A Menendez spokeswoman, who also spoke to NBC, added that the senator was not claiming the plane trips were a gift, which he would have needed pre-approval for from the Ethics Committee.

So, he didn't reimburse, until recently, when this started to become a problem. Menendez's own chief of staff says he's "chalking it up to an oversight."

Well, if you're satisfied it was an "oversight," certainly I'm satisfied then.

The actual trip was taken back around Easter 2012 (April?), was "overlooked" as late as November when a Republican filed a complaint, and only "recently," as emails trickle out, is reimbursement made.

Yeah, I'm going to say I don't like that.

Now remember this stuff in the context of the FBI raid, for as-of-yet unknown reasons, of the doctor's (Melgen's) offices, which just happened a few days ago.

Thanks to @johnekdahl for both pieces.

The Caveat:

Posted by: Ace at 04:45 AM | Comments (304)
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January 30, 2013

open overnight thread (shit. I'm still in january)
— Maetenloch


Wha - you thought it was going to get better? Nope.



Posted by: Maetenloch at 05:15 PM | Comments (743)
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CNN Contributor Roland S. Martin Pushes Back Against CNN's Defenses Regardng "Ethnic" Cleansing
— Ace

As @johnekdahl noted earlier, Bart Feder now says he didn't mean too ethnic when he said too ethnic.

To clarify, Feder’s issue with “Starting Point” was that the audience was too small and happened to be predominately African American. A source close to the show insists that the ethnicity of the audience was never the issue, it was the size. Feder in no way meant to imply that the audience was too ethnic.

He just meant too small. Too small, too ethnic. You can see how close those words are to each other. They're virtually homophones.*

But, thanks to some Twitter troublemaking, in which I congratulated Roland S. Martin numerous times for his prudence in saying nothing about the affair and just taking the check, nice and quiet, I can report that Roland S. Martin, at least, does not believe Feder's claims.

When I asked him why he wasn't saying anything about it, he responded:

"If you only knew!"

And then, thereafter, reasserted how much he's saying about the ethnic cleansing. Behind the scenes, I imagine.

He also seems to be hinting that he's got a Plan B, if he needs it.

At no point did he ever contradict the premise of the question, to wit, that Soledad O'Brien was fired for having an audience that was "too ethnic."

I'd really like to print this all up for you but Twitchy usually does this for me...

* Homophones are gay phones, such as the iPhone, or Android, or Galaxy. Pretty much all of them, actually. Oddly enough, the only straight phone I know of is the Nokia Cock-N-Go. They should probably change the name.

Posted by: Ace at 04:07 PM | Comments (280)
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Netflix Has Some Recommendations for You
— Ace

From UCB, via @slublog.

And as a funny thing, Adam Carolla on why he hates John Lennon, via Ed Driscoll and Kathy Shaidle.

Worth a listen.

Oh and rather than taking the time to look up what it is, here's NASA's live launch of the TDRS-K.

It's a new satellite. 2:50 to launch.


Posted by: Ace at 03:42 PM | Comments (144)
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