Billie’s Quickies … What must it be like to feast on the tears of sleeping birds?

  • I’m not sure one should hang around something that’s supposed to sting … much less something with the words ‘giant’ and ‘sting’ in the same name.
  • Boston Globe piece about fundamentalism WELL worth the read: “… fundamentalist movements share another quality. They are inherently fractious, and this is one reason for their broad decline. When your view of reality is the only acceptable one, you cannot compromise.”
  • The Social Security Situation … visually.
  • Now that folks are beating the drums about a nuclear Iran again, as they do every few months, here’s Glenn Greenwald to maybe snap us back to reality for a second: “ … exploiting foreign threats for domestic political gain is a virtually universal tool of governments.  That, of course, is exactly why the belligerence and threats towards Iran long advocated by America’s Right has as its prime beneficiary the very Iranian mullahs they claim to oppose.”
  • This remains CLASSIC: Judges who quote Adam Sandler are keepers thank you very much.
  • What your draft beer choice says about you – funny
  • Soup. Soup. Soup. Soup.
  • This is a pretty neato website. I like numbers in visual form.
  • All I want for Christmas is an end to apartheid – Top ten brands to boycott
  • Stephen Fry and Christopher Hitchens debate blasphemy:
  • Wow .. Sort of darkly beautiful.  An animal that feasts on the tears of another animal: “…A species of moth drinks tears from the eyes of sleeping birds using a fearsome proboscis shaped like a harpoon, scientists have revealed. The new discovery – spied in Madagascar – is the first time moths have been seen feeding on the tears of birds.”
  • Well, this was prescient: “I am wondering how long we can pretend this problem does not exist. How long can we continue to buy stocks and flip houses, forget to save, pile up debt, import Chinese made goods, and export debt? Are these useful activities to perform while there’s an economic avalanche bearing down upon us?  Unfortunately, I am not smart enough to know the answer. I only know that hoping a significant and mounting problem will go away is not a winning strategy.”
  • I adore artful guitar agility H/T Neatorama:

I Accept Allahpundit’s Apology in Advance

Over at Hot Air, some righty troll has posted the news that I was 100% correct in my assessment of Robert Gibbs’ comments on Iran yesterday.  Your plate of crow awaits, Mr. Pundit.

I Didn’t Think Green Avatars Were a Left/Right Phenomenon

It was a nice kum ba yah moment while it lasted.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs made a remark at today’s briefing that has even the normally reasonable right-wingers in an insane froth.  The key passage is Gibbs’ last line of this clip:

Q But does the administration recognize Ahmadinejad as the legitimate President in Iran?

MR. GIBBS: He’s the elected leader.

Now, Gibbs may or may not deserve some ire for his execution, but he was obviously trying to parse the difference between formally recognizing Ahmadinejad as President, and acknowledging the fact that he has been awarded the election.  “He was awarded the election” might have been a better word choice, but as the last in a series of follow-ups, there wasn’t opportunity for much clarification.

What it is not is this: (from Hot Air)

Instead, so desperate are these tools to get Iran to the bargaining table and show Americans some sort of dividend from Hopenchange diplomacy that Gibbs actually acknowledges Ahmadinejad as the “elected leader” — the same lie the regime’s been telling the world and the same lie Iranians have been dying in the streets to challenge. As a de facto — and entirely gratuitous — endorsement of their corruption, it’s the lowest moment of The One’s presidency so far.

However, while I find this overreaching attempt to score political points on the backs of Iran’s protesters distasteful and disappointing, I’m absolutely shocked by this presumption of bad faith:

And the only thing that’ll take the sting out of it is watching all the dumb liberals who painted their Twitter avatars green two months ago in solidarity with Mousavi’s supporters hemming and hawing now over how our lord and savior really had no choice but to kiss ass here.

This is a sickening violation of an unspoken armistice that rose up between the left and the right during the Iranian unrest.

When this whole thing started, when conservatives on Twitter took the lead in supporting protesters of the Iranian election, there was a suspicion voiced among some liberals that this was pure opportunism, that the concern was feigned as an excuse to criticize President Obama.  Indeed, this was true of some GOP politicians, but in the Twitter community, the Iranian election developed into a moment of surprising unity.

At times, liberals would, privately, evince feelings of superiority at their late-arriving conservative counterparts’ seemingly new-found concern for Iranian citizens, but I wouldn’t entertain that.  A sincere change of heart is to be welcomed, not scorned.  You would have to think pretty poorly of your fellow man to think he wasn’t moved to the core by events such as the killing of Neda.

Alas, the right seems unable to extend that same benefit of the doubt.  Now, we either agree with Allahpundit, or we’re trendspotting dilletantes who could give 2 shits about the Iranian people.  This, from the same guy who cheered when John McCain cracked wise about bombing those same Iranian people:

It’s obvious that this is less an example of Maverick’s vaunted “straight talk” than him just being playful on the spur of the moment. Even if so, joking about bombing Iran certainly won’t hurt his standing with the base, to whom he needs to feed a lot more red meat if he wants the nomination. He’s already starting to do that; the trick is to not alienate the centrists and leftists who admire him in the process.

Here’s that ruddy, meaty crowd-pleaser now:

The accomplishments of the Twitter community (right, left, up, down, and center) during the Iranian unrest were remarkable.  Here’s hoping that the desire to score cheap political points doesn’t overshadow them completely.

As for Gibbs, you could argue that he deserves some measured criticism here, but I don’t think this statement alone warrants it.

Washington Post Publisher’s Apology Doesn’t Wash

Update: This is a piece I wrote for Mediaite that got pushed out by other news.  The WaPo ombudsman is as unimpressed as I am by Weymouth’s explanation.

The hot, steaming mess that is the Washington Post Salon-gate scandal just keeps getting hotter and more messified.  Katharine Weymouth, the publisher who was to host the chummy, “non-confrontational” soirees with Post reporters and Obama administration officials, has issued an apology:

I want to apologize for a planned new venture that went off track and for any cause we may have given you to doubt our independence and integrity. A flier distributed last week suggested that we were selling access to power brokers in Washington through dinners that were to take place at my home. The flier was not approved by me or newsroom editors, and it did not accurately reflect what we had in mind. But let me be clear: The flier was not the only problem (emphasis mine). Our mistake was to suggest that we would hold and participate in an off-the-record dinner with journalists and power brokers paid for by a sponsor. We will not organize such events. As publisher it is my job to ensure that we adhere to standards that are consistent with our integrity as a news organization. Last week, I let you, and the organization, down.

That’s a pretty good start, but then, Weymouth goes on to explain that the way she had planned out the events would have been just ginchy.  So what happened?

When the flier promoting our first planned event to potential sponsors was released, it overstepped all these lines. Neither I nor anyone in our news department would have approved any event such as the flier described.

We have canceled the planned dinner. While I do believe there is a legitimate way to hold such events, to the extent that we hold events in the future, large or small, we will review the guidelines for them with The Post’s top editors and make sure those guidelines are strictly followed.

That sounds a lot, to me, like “Yeah, the problem was the fliers.”

The Post’s ombudsman, Andrew Alexander, doesn’t seem to be buying what Weymouth is selling:

Post spokeswoman Kris Coratti issued a statement describing the flier as a “draft.”

The “draft” is a single-page solicitation, printed in full color on glossy paper, which was distributed to potential underwriters for a gathering on health care. It reads: “Underwrite and participate in this intimate and exclusive Washington Post Salon, an off-the-record dinner and discussion at the home of CEO and Publisher Katharine Weymouth” on July 21.

Oh, it was a draft.  Kinda like those photocopied sheets they distribute in every office in America for the football pool, or something.  Just a sketchy, hastily prepared spitball-y deal, right?  Not so much.

post-salonflier

Alexander goes on to quote Charles Pelton, whose office produced the flier, taking a curiously high-handed attitude:

“There’s no intention to influence or peddle,” Pelton said this morning. “There’s no intention to have a Lincoln Bedroom situation,” referring to charges that President Clinton used invitations to stay at the White House as a way of luring political backing.

Do you really want to bring up bedroom hijinks here, Chuck?

The one positive, as I have noted, is that the Washington Post’s own Howard Kurtz did a good job in reporting on his own paper’s scandal.  Still, although it’s pretty clear to me that Kurtz got all he could out of Weymouth, some may question whether he really held his boss’s boss’s feet to the fire.

It also has the side-effect of undercutting Post reporters’ ability to point out other journalists’ potential conflicts of interests.  For example, when this story broke, I was immediately put in mind of Dana Milbank’s lecture of HuffPo’s Nico Pitney on Kurtz’s own “Reliable Sources.”  That splinter in Pitney’s eye is looking positively microscopic, now.

Kurtz, ironically enough, raised questions about such conflicts in reporting on the launch of this site.  In responding to criticism about his consulting business, Mediaite founder Dan Abrams was blunt:

Says Abrams: “It does seem I’m being held to a higher standard than anyone else in the history of the consulting world. That’s okay. . . . What some of the purists say is that if you’re engaged in journalism at all, you should not be able to work with business, ever.”

By that standard of purity, it would be tough to argue for the continued existence of the Post, at least under the stewardship of Katharine Weymouth.

“Washington Post For Sale” Bombshell Good News/Bad News

What a disappointing day for journalism.  Not minutes after I revisited the dark Playboy saga, I got an email from Lee Stranahan with his video parody of a story I hadn’t even heard yet:

Apparently, WaPo’s publisher hatched a half-baked scheme to pimp the paper’s staff, and the Obama Administration, for huge wads of cash: Continue reading

The ‘Thriller’ Dance is Not a Panacea

alex01thumbAs you may have noticed (but probably didn’t), I haven’t been around much lately. The reason for this was that I was out of the range of internet for most of the past week or so, due to being in airports, and also spending a lot of my time in Peru in forced exile from the internet, save for the occasional non-texted Twitter update and clearing my inbox.

While on internet holiday, I realized something: 24-hour broadcast news, when it is your only source of information, is about as reliable as a perforated brake line. Continue reading

New York Times’ Knee-Jerk Review of ‘Soraya’ is Dead Wrong

Soraya

Ed Morrissey pointed me at the New York Times’ review of “The Stoning of Soraya M,” and I have to say, as predictable as it was, I’m still disappointed.  This is exactly the kind of unimaginative, knee-jerk, cover your ass reaction that John Ziegler warned me about when he told me about the film.  Let’s compare.  From my original review:

The film has some superficial things in common with “The Passion of the Christ,” such as the same production company (MPower Films), star (Jim Caviezel), and a graphic crucifixion.

And from the Times’ review:

Not since “The Passion of the Christ” has a film depicted a public execution in such graphic detail.

…The casting of Jim Caviezel as Freidoune Sahebjam, the Paris-based Iranian journalist whose 1994 best seller. “The Stoning of Soraya M.: A True Story,” recounted the incident, lends the movie a queasy connection to “The Passion of the Christ,” in which Mr. Caviezel played Jesus.

This is a stunning, awe-inspiring example of judging a book by its cover.  What a shame.

As Ed Morrissey points out, the Times’ reviewer doesn’t get his basic facts right, clocking the stoning at 20 minutes:

First, the stoning sequence lasts about eight minutes, not 20. It starts at the 1:31:30 mark, it’s over by 1:40, and it’s intercut with at least one flashback sequence.

This is a big problem, because lots of people are now going to stay away from this movie to avoid a 20 minute torture scene that isn’t there.  That’s a real shame.  The fact is, this scene, while bloody, is nothing at all like Passion of the Christ’s crucifixion scene.

The reviewer goes on to write the rest of the review from the Cynic’s Handbook. Continue reading