Browsing the archives for the Politics & Current Events tag.

Puff the Magic Dragnet

Politics & Current Events, Technology

Talking around the edges of what's classified is all the rage these days. See, for example, the commercial for the NSA that ran on 60 minutes tonight.

In that vein, a former employee of Tailored Access Ops explains (within Info Assurance guidelines) what he did at the NSA and why he's ok with it.

Insufficiently discussed in most rants about the NSA is this question: if the only way to find the needles in a haystack is to store the entire haystack, and if you're against storing the entire haystack, and if you insist that it's vital to find the needles, then given the size and growth rate of the haystack, how do you propose doing that?

Some are ok with storing the haystack. That's the status quo.

Some are against the haystack and also don't think finding the needles is all that important. After all, more die at the hands of swimming pools and ladders, etc….

But for those who think proactive action against malevolent actors is desirable, how (apart from surveilling a subset of exhaustive data) shall we winnow them out of an ever-increasing crowd and discern their voices in an ever louder din?

If not this way, then how?



Effluvia, Politics & Current Events


Filner? I hardly know her! (redux)

Effluvia, Poetry, Politics & Current Events

So it turns out that disgraced former mayor of San Diego, Bob Filner, has owned up to some small portion of his odious malefaction.

What better time to revive The Ballad of Sweet Old Bob?


The Ballad of Sweet Old Bob

Politics & Current Events

When we elected Sweet Old Bob to represent our city,
He said he'd never take a bribe nor tap into the kitty.
We misconstrued, he turned out lewd, and isn't it a pity
That now we're screwed because his "private conduct" has been shoddy.

His platform failed to mention groping, feeling, copping, kissing.
I'm pretty sure that spooning, mooning, chi, and tea were missing.
And so he bagged a victory that left opponents hissing,
And set about to leave his mark, a man of poll and party.

Turns out "increasing public staffing" isn't what we thought,
And "touching every household" isn't quite what we were taught,
And "I'll scratch your back" isn't just a metaphor for "bought",
And kleenex, with a thousand uses, isn't just for sneezing.

So listen, Sweet Old Bob. It isn't you. It's me. It's we.
You quid pro quo, and I can't go for that with you, you see.
A swift kick in the recall may cut short your sunset spree,
So sail away. Your stream, now slow, will only finally peter.



Humor, Politics & Current Events

"The past several weeks have made one thing crystal-clear: our country faces unmitigated disaster if the other side wins."

H. L. Mencken knew the score: "Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule—and both commonly succeed, and are right."


Taylor Ferrara

Effluvia, Humor, Music, Politics & Current Events


(Context is, of course, l'affaire Akin.)


Three Rings for the Republican Kings under the Missouri Sky

Humor, Politics & Current Events


"Sing to me, David, of clown shoes and a man…." OK. If you insist….


The elephant nominates a clown
To foil the opposition and to win,
To try to shut that whole thing down!

And that's the part that makes me frown.
I ponder it with great chagrin:
The elephant nominates a clown?

An eleventh hour swap would win renown.
Akin's kisser clamors with foot within
To try to shut that whole thing down!

Heavy hangs the head that wears the crown…
But heavier plod the huge shoe and its twin!
The elephant nominates a clown.

Sucking Charybdis spins; who swims may drown.
He ought to wring his towel and throw it in,
To try to shut that whole thing down.

But there's no hope of change in Barnum town.
Though donkeys bray or take it on the chin,
The elephant nominates a clown
To try to shut that whole thing down.


Popehat gets results!

Politics & Current Events

…when joined by Wikipedia, reddit, Google, and countless other sites….

Courtesy of


New Hampshire Primary, 2012

Politics & Current Events


Well, it's Primary Day in New Hampshire,
And the voters must finally decide.
In the Countertop State, it's for damned sure,
That no candidate gets a free ride.

Having put paid, Mitt Romney is cruising
By a margin of many a digit.
He likes firing his engine half-throttle,
While conservatives waver and fidget.

Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Huntsman,
To put brakes on Mitt's juggernaut and park it,
Have tried all the political stunts. Man
Bites dog! They disdain the free market!

Poor Rick Perry had fire in the belly,
But in truth he's at home on the range.
Since his race is all "Oops!" and "Whoa, Nelly!"
His insistence on bucking seems strange.

By both flanks of the centrist investor
Drives a dark horse who might take it all,
But would settle for place, show, or jester:
It's irascible Ludwig von Paul.

So Republicans, Democrats, and even
Independents will vote all day long
To anoint a Republican leader.
What could possibly go wrong?


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News, nihil obstatrics, and gynecommodity

Art, Language, Politics & Current Events

In the gossip-driven feeding frenzy that keeps alive the tawdry tale of rising and declining wannabe John Edwards (now with video), the New York Daily News wins quip of the day :

Hunter had been hired by the Edwards campaign to videotape the candidate’s movements, but this one is said to have shown him taking positions that weren’t on his official platform.

The commodification of sexual scandal is nothing new, of course, and in times like these more than ever the media are motivated to regard as "news" whatever will maximize sales.  Thus, there's a regrettable tendency to spew rather than eschew.

What's cheapened in yellowing press, beyond the players' tattered reputations, is a factor arguably worth conserving: the vitality of sexual allusion as a literary device.

For some of their puissance, these worthy tropes depend on indirection– a wink, a nod, a knowing glance.  But in a cultural milieu where everyone seems to say entirely too much altogether, and where even the king is in the altogether, it's hard for prose to play allusively without seeming turgid.

Continue Reading »


Turn the Other Shoe

Politics & Current Events

By now, you have all seen the footage of Bush nimbly ducking two thrown shoes in Iraq. My favorite part of the the video is the token effort at defense the Iraqi Prime Minister makes with the second shoe. Actually, the whole video is pretty spectacular, if you haven't seen it, definitely check it out. The attack, by an Egyptian journalist, led to some breathless, unintentionally funny reporting. For instance, this handy cultural tip:

"In Iraqi culture, throwing shoes at someone is a sign of contempt."

As opposed to other cultures, where it is just a sign of contempt. Seriously, how does that tradition evolve? I mean giving someone the finger isn't good enough, so go ahead and throw that loafer. That will properly demonstrate how much you don't like the person.

On the other side, ably demonstrating our deep understanding of the situation in Iraq, Bush had this to say after the incident: "So what if a guy threw his shoe at me?"

That sentence could pretty well sum up our attitude towards Iraq.


So This Is What It's Like To Be In A Battleground State

Politics & Current Events

In the past 24 hours, since news emerged that Obama is leading in a couple of polls in normally Republican North Carolina, I've gotten six calls from what are probably 527 proxies for one or another of Obama or McCain.

I guess I'll have to vote for Bob Barr to show them.


DOJ Firings Update

Politics & Current Events

Back in November I wrote about how Dan Levin, a former colleague of mine from the U.S. Attorney's Office, submitted to waterboarding as part of a process of writing a memorandum on torture while at DoJ. At the time ABC reported that he had been forced out after writing a memo harshly criticizing torture and classifying waterboarding as torture.

ABC News has a new report discussing Levin's recent Congressional testimony and additional information from DoJ sources confirming that Dan was forced out. Moreover, the sources suggest that former AG Alberto Gonzales dangled a potential future U.S. Attorney spot in front of Levin to smooth over the transition to a far less prestigious position at the NSC. That explains why DoJ would have been putting Dan on a short list for USAO spots even after he had been forced out.

But Dan's no dummy.

Levin took the NSC job in March 2005. The U.S. attorney position never materialized, and sources close to Levin say he never believed Gonzales was serious. He went on to take a job in private practice.


Texas GOP: What's Wrong With this Country? Iron Boobies.

Art, Politics & Current Events

More deep thinking deep in the heart of Texas: via Nobody's Business, an article that in a more normal country would be parody, but in this country is not:

HOUSTON – Robert Hurt went to Washington and didn't like what he saw – nudity in the nation's capital.

"Nude women, sculptured women," he told the state Republican platform committee, which sat in rapt attention.

Of all the evils in Washington that the Texas GOP took aim at this week, removing art with naked people from public view was high on the list for Mr. Hurt, a delegate from Kerrville.

"You don't have nude art on your front porch," he explained. "You possibly don't have nude art in your living rooms. So why is it important to have that in the common places of Washington, D.C.?"

Mr. Hurt offered statistics: He'd heard that 20 percent of the art in the National Gallery of Art is of nudes.

He offered detail: On Arlington Memorial Bridge overlooking the famed national cemetery, "there are two Lady Godivas, two women on horses with no shirt on and long hair."

Actually, they are classical sculptures about war – one called Valor, depicting a male equestrian and a female with a shield, and Sacrifice, a female accompanying the rider Mars.

I'm glad that the Texas Republican Party has what it takes to address this burning issue, which has to date languished for the simple and inadequate reason that no one else was shallow, insufferably prudish, and fucking moronic enough to take it up.

It's not clear whether the policy scouring the National Gallery of Art of Botticellis until a more respectable 98% of art is boob-free will make it into the platform, which is currently full of other issues burning and not so burning:

In this, a presidential year, it advocates prayer in school, getting out of the United Nations, teaching intelligent design with evolution in science classes, repealing of the minimum wage, declaring illegal immigrants criminals and outlawing abortion with no exceptions.

Maybe in the intelligent design classes they could ask why God made us with dirty sculptor-enticing parts in the first place, and then pray for all the naughty art to be magically transformed into Thomas Kincaide paintings of glowy red-state hunting lodges or something. That would be awesome.


National Press Club: We Cherish Ethics, Truth, and…waitaminute. Can you pay cash?

Politics & Current Events

The National Press Club, well known venue for luminous events and addresses by Presidents, monarchs, ambassadors, and public intellectuals of the day, is proud, very proud, of its ethics and reputation for truth and rigor:

Walter William's Journalist's Creed

This creed was written by Walter Williams (1864-1935), the man who founded the world's first school of journalism at the University of Missouri and perhaps contributed more toward the promotion of professional journalism than any other person of his time.

I believe in the profession of Journalism.

I believe that the public journal is a public trust; that all connected with it are, to the full measure of responsibility, trustees for the public; that acceptance of lesser service than the public service is a betrayal of this trust.

I believe that clear thinking, clear statement, accuracy and fairness are fundamental to good journalism.

That's why the National Press Club hosts so many important events and speakers.

Oh, and it also booked Larry Sinclair for next Wednesday at 3:00 P.M. in the "Veritas Room."

Wait a minute, you say. That name is familiar. Who is Larry Sinclair again?

Oh, yeah. He's the lunatic who went on YouTube with his claims of having had a drug-fueled gay sex romp with Barack Obama in the back of a limousine 1999. He's the one who, in exchange for $10,000 offered by a former porn site, agreed to a polygraph test and flunked it. He's the nutcase who also sued Obama, David Axelrod, and the Democratic National Committee, alleging they defamed him in denying that Obama smoked crack and had sex with him in 1999.

Larry is crowing about how now he's achieved respectability and credibility since the National Press Club is hosting him for a payment of $3,000. I'm not surprised; if they gave me a podium I'd feel the same way.

Let this be a clarion call to all of our nation's tinfoil-wearers, conspiracy theorists, freaks, and deinstitutionalized mentally ill: for the cost of a good vacation to Hawaii, you can have a nationally prestigious platform from which to spout your views. Does the "Veritas Room" give you insufficient gravitas? Don't worry, the Edward R. Murrow room is available. Make sure you book soon; presidents and monarchs are always trying to get on the schedule. Flat-earther? Foe of ZOG? Holocaust denier? Alien abductee? Ron Paul supporter? Fear not, there's no discrimination here. In journalism, accuracy, and fairness we trust — but $3,000 is $3,000, Jack.

I'm sure the National Press Club would love to hear from you.


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