Archive for February, 2008

Kai Chang’s Favorite Liar

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

We have Onan to thank for bringing my attention to this one: My Favorite Liar.

As the quarter progressed, the Lie of the Day became more subtle, and many ended up slipping past a majority of the students unnoticed until a particularly alert person stopped the lecture to flag the disinformation. Every once in a while, a lecture would end with nobody catching the lie – which created its own unique classroom experience…

Black Mountain

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

Some totally good news, for once. Black Mountain were on Conan last night. I cannot say enough good things about these guys, check it out.


GOP Goes to the Fear Well Again

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Or, when your elevation of an incompetent tool who de-emphasizes counterterrorism and surrounds himself with people whose main qualification is that their sense of personal loyalty is absolute, even if their intellectual gifts and track record of past accomplishments leave something to be desired, leads to an unprecedented security failure and the death of thousands of Americans on US soil; when a botched decision to go to war, sold dishonestly and then revealed to have been so sold, is followed by an equally botched occupation that leaves (again) thousands of Americans (along with the odd million or so innocent foreigners) dead, while draining the national coffers to the tune of half a trillion (with a “T”) dollars and counting; when pretty much everything your guy has accomplished in the last eight years demonstrates that your particular approach to governance has been (at least in practice) an unmitigated disaster for the nation generally and for its citizens’ physical security in particular; how then do you respond when it looks like things are turning against you politically?

Why, by putting out a commercial that is a direct ripoff of the trailer for the upcoming season of 24, attempting to stoke even higher the public fear that has been engendered precisely because of your guy’s failures, and use it as an argument that really, these times are so scary that it is only the Republicans who can possibly save us:

To which I can only say, bring it on. If at this point in time the United States can, in fact, be swayed by that particular message delivered in that particular manner by those particular people, then we deserve four more years of Bush-style leadership.

But it does raise an interesting question, which Matthew Yglesias muses about in The Party of Terror:

In essence, the Republicans are placing a heavy political bet on the idea of a terrorist attack happening some time while their “danger” clock is running. If Americans die, they’ll be in a position to clean up. Conversely, if we still have some semblance of legal protections against government surveillance months from now and that clock’s still ticking even though al-Qaeda hasn’t slaughtered any innocents here in the U.S., they’re going to look mighty silly.

A conspiracy theorist would move easily from this fact (which I think is pretty much indisputable) to the (much harder to demonstrate) belief that the Republican Party would actually work to bring about such an attack here in the US. Maybe I’m naive in my faith in humanity, but I believe that even our current crop of Republican leaders are not such awful people that they’d stoop to that. Unfortunately, it’s not necessary to assume that degree of evil on their part; simple incompetence, dishonesty, and a fucked-up decision-making process are demonstrably sufficient to bring it about. So yeah, I’m afraid. Just not in the particular way that that commercial wants me to be.

Condi Gets Her Nasty Face On

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

It makes me happy that Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL) is willing to speak the truth on things like impeachment, the Harriet Miers / Joshua Bolten contempt citation, and, in this choice chunk of public hearing, Condoleeza Rice’s role in pushing lies in the run-up to war:

Rocket Past the Details

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

How about some Sports-related lies, for a change of pace.

Former BFF’s Brian McNamee and Roger Clemens aired their tiff on Capital Hill yesterday. Now, this circus has plenty of good sideshows, such as the creation of new words (misremembers), and a race to see who has the dumbest attorneys (i.e., allowing Clemens and his legal team to talk to a witness before giving access to the government investigators; suggesting that President Bush will pardon Clemens, despite not being charged with anything (yet), due to “the corrupt proclivities of his (Bush’s) administration.”). With lawyers like that, I might opt for self-representation.

I prefer to focus on a couple of other things. The media is getting a lot of play with their take on the deposition by Roger’s buddy, Andy Pettitte. The message seems to be that Andy really hung Roger out to dry with some very damming statements. ‘Pettitte confirms that Roger used HGH’ and so on. The problem is, it’s not true.

Note to the media: let’s do something creative, like, for example, actually read Pettitte’s deposition! Yes, Andy says that he recalled back in 1999 that Roger mentioned using HGH. He also very clearly said he doesn’t remember anything specific about the conversation itself, other than taking away the idea that Roger said he used HGH. In 2005, during the Congressional investigations about steroids in baseball, he asked Roger what he would do if reporters asked Roger about drug use. When Roger acted puzzled, Andy relayed his prior conversation with Roger about HGH. Roger said that he wasn’t talking about himself during that earlier conversation, he was referring to his wife. Andy stated that from that point on he “kinda felt that I might have misunderstood him.” When the deposition questioner asked, “Do you think its likely that you did misunderstand?”, Andy said that he “was under the impression” that Roger had told him that he had used HGH, but after the 2005 conversation, “I took it for that, that I misunderstood him”. Even Roger’s half-witted lawyers could take that tentative “accusation” and make it worthless. And yet, the media would have you believe that Pettitte hammered his buddy with a devastating accusation. Please.

Next, many talking heads in the media are at a loss for just why McNamee would want to discredit Clemens. Again, the deposition provides at least one possible scenario. Pettitte talks about a time in 2003 or 2004 when he was working out with Brian and he seemed very angry. It seems that Brian was trying to work out a deal with a vitamin company and get Roger and Andy to endorse the product, since they both used it. Brian was in line to get some money for arranging this deal, but Roger wanted too much compensation for his endorsement and it appeared to block the deal from happening. It was in this agitated state that Brian told Andy that Roger had used steroids. Now, you could say that Brian was going to use some dirt on Clemens to get back at him. Or, you could say the Brian was going to create some dirt on Clemons to get back at him. But at least there appears to be a vendetta angle that could be at work here.

Also, there appears to be a couple of other stories in which Brian dropped Andy’s name, and Andy could not confirm their accuracy. Both were alleged conversations that involved Roger and steroid talk. Brian said Andy was present for the conversations but Andy had no recollection of them. Bad memory or overreaching storytelling?

Finally, some people were questioning why Pettitte got a pass on appearing at this dog and pony show. My guess, as Pettitte alluded to in his deposition, was that he doesn’t want an aspect of his family’s personal life (i.e. his father’s series of medical and mental issues) to be potentially discussed on a national stage. Andy had mentioned, during the questioning, that his father provided him with some HGH in 2004.

In summary, someone is lying, and neither one of the main players came out looking very clean. But let’s hope the media can at least provide a depth of information beyond the type of reporting that is equivalent to backyard gossiping.

Friendly Atheist’s Gods We Don’t Believe In, and Obama’s God That He Does

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

Ymatt was kind enough to remind me of how awesome this speech on faith by Barack Obama (which I previously posted about back when he gave it, in 2006) was:

And in a tangentially related vein, Janus pointed out this from Friendly Atheist: Gods We Don’t Believe In.


CBS on Saddam’s Wacky Desire To Be Invaded

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

Thanks to knarlyknight for mentioning this item in the comments. From FAIR (yeah, I know): The “Great Mystery” of Iraq’s WMDs?

A January 27 report on CBS’s 60 Minutes attempted to answer what CBS reporter Scott Pelley claimed was a key mystery of the Iraq War: Why didn’t Saddam Hussein tell the world he had no weapons of mass destruction, and thus avoid the U.S.-led invasion? But if Pelley had been watching his own network’s exclusive interview with Hussein on the eve of the war, he would have known that Hussein did exactly that.

It’s really quite remarkable. I remember the run-up to the war, and CBS’s willingness to completely mischaracterize what happened then as part of its “news” reporting is fairly disheartening. I mean, I realize that Fox News is intentionally ridiculous in order to cater to its target audience’s hostile-media-bias perceptions, and that CNN has made a conscious editorial decision to follow Fox in order to defend its market-share. But CBS?

Oh, waiter. Can I get another media, please? This one isn’t very good.