Friday, November 26, 2010

All I Want For Christmas

All I want for Christmas is for the media to conduct one interview with Maher Arar for every interview they do with someone who had their genitals grazed by the TSA at an airport.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Hero Work

I'm guessing that probably only my friend Aaron Neptune is going to find this funny, but on the other hand, he's probably going to find this really funny:

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Join Team America

The media is not going to like this one bit:

On Saturday, the group known as America Speaks (funded by Wall Street mogul Peter G. Peterson and two other foundations) brought together several thousand people in meetings in 60 cities. They gave participants misleading background information about the federal deficit and economic options to achieve fiscal "balance" and future prosperity.

Peterson cannot be pleased with the participants' mainly progressive policy choices, which will be presented on June 30 to the Deficit Commission that Peterson encouraged President Obama to create.

According to America Speaks' own press release, when a scientifically selected group of participants picked up their electronic voting devices, they overwhelmingly supported proposals to

  • Raise tax rates on corporate income and those earning more than $1 million.
  • Reduce military spending by 10 to 15 percent,
  • Create a carbon tax and a securities-transaction tax.
Heh.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Adult Supervision


"For $25,000 to $250,000, The Washington Post is offering lobbyists and association executives off the record, non-confrontational access to 'those powerful few' -- Obama administration officials, members of Congress, and the paper's own reporters and editors.

The astonishing offer is detailed in a flier circulated Wednesday to a health-care lobbyist, who provided it to a reporter because the lobbyist said he feels it's a conflict for the paper to charge for access to, as the flier says, its 'health care reporting and editorial staff.'

The offer--which essentially turns a news organization into a facilitator for private lobbyist-official encounters--is a new sign of the lengths to which news organizations will go to find revenue at a time when most newspapers are struggling for survival." [Via. More.]

Adult Supervision


"A Nov. 26 article in the District edition of Local Living incorrectly said a Public Enemy song declared 9/11 a joke. The song refers to 911, the emergency phone number." [Via.]

Adult Supervision


"People often ask me how to make conversation at dinner parties. I always tell them to ask about their dinner partner's family -- once they get started, they won't stop. Everyone has a dysfunctional family. Ours is no exception.

I'm going to discuss a drama unfolding in our family, and I'm discussing it only because others have made it public and messy. It's a conflict that I hope readers can understand -- and avoid in their own lives." [Via.]

Adult Supervision

"...one of the things that ties together my work over here and my work at Baseball Prospectus is that I want the media to be smarter and more accountable when they cite statistical information, be it mortgage rates or polling numbers or batting averages. This article was neither smart nor accountable. It's the equivalent of noting that Alex Rodriguez has a batting average 40 points better than the league average, and using that to infer that the umpires were biased in his favor." [Via.]

Adult Supervision

"Peter Perl, WaPo's editor in charge of personnel and training, spoke to ombudsman Andrew Alexander about the problems of keeping reporters aware of their sourcing policies: 'We don't have a systematic way of addressing this... We tend to be reactive. We need to be proactive.' Uhm...how about today -- THIS VERY MINUTE -- you get 'proactive' with Shear and Connolly, Pete?" [Via.]

Adult Supervision

Adult Supervision


You have an ongoing series, "Faces Of The Recession?" Oh, well, a profile of Neel Kashkari will fit in great!

"The moon hits his stubble, which is six days old. And the sweater he hasn't changed in three or four days. His BlackBerry -- he can't kick it -- rang once today. A year ago in D.C., it buzzed every few seconds. All night, he'd roll over to its bluish glow. His Treasury Department assistant slept with hers, powered up, on her pillow.


'It's like a dream,' Kashkari says, his work boots crunching pine cones. 'Sometimes I think: Was it real?'"

Gag. Same day:

In addition to hiring a top equity team, we have also recognized the need for an experienced person to work closely with PIMCO's Executive Committee to lead our entry into this and other new businesses over time. Accordingly, Neel Kashkari is joining us on December 14 to lead new investment initiatives. Neel will be based in our Newport Beach office.
[Via.]

Adult Supervision

"Allen, according to sources, said: 'This is total crap. It’s the second worst story I have seen in Style in 43 years.'

Roig-Franzia then wandered into the newsroom. A veteran foreign correspondent, he has been turning out political features for Style. He heard Allen’s rant and stopped by his desk.

'Oh, Henry,' he supposedly said, 'don’t be such a cocks-----.'

Allen lunged at Roig-Franzia, threw him to the newsroom floor, and started throwing punches. Roig-Franzia tried to fend him off. Brauchli and others pulled the two apart." [Via.]

Adult Supervision

"In the photographs of Kagan sitting and chatting in various Capitol Hill offices, she doesn't appear to ever cross her legs. Her posture stands out because for so many women, when they sit, they cross. People tend to mimic each other's body language during a conversation, especially if they're trying to connect with one another. But even when Kagan sits across from Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who has her legs crossed at the knees, Kagan keeps both feet planted firmly on the ground. Her body language will not be bullied into conformity.

She does not cross her legs at the ankles either, the way so many older women do. Instead, Kagan sits, in her sensible skirts, with her legs slightly apart, hands draped in her lap. The woman and her attire seem utterly at odds. She is intent on being comfortable. No matter what the clothes demand. No matter the camera angle." --Robin Givhan, idiotic WaPo fashion reporter.






Adult Supervision

"Alexander finally mentions the 'missing man' from his last piece on the matter, by the way: David Hoffman, who won in the the General Nonfiction category for his book The Dead Hand, The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy. Alexander notes that Hoffman 'left the paper last year in the latest cost-cutting buyout,' and 'no longer works in the newsroom' despite his billing as a Post 'contributing editor.'

But we already knew that! I'd like to know more about the persistent rumor that Hoffman found his buyout papers left on his chair with a Post-It note ordering him to 'sign this.' And, hey! I'd also love to hear more about the way Hoffman's treatment contributed to Pulitzer Prize winner Anthony Shadid's decision to ply his trade elsewhere." [Via.]


Adult Supervision


"What clinches the falsity of Thiessen's claim, however (and that of the memo he cites, and that of an unnamed Central Intelligence Agency spokesman who today seconded Thessen's argument), is chronology. In a White House press briefing, Bush's counterterrorism chief, Frances Fragos Townsend, told reporters that the cell leader was arrested in February 2002, and 'at that point, the other members of the cell' (later arrested) 'believed that the West Coast plot has been canceled, was not going forward' [italics mine]. A subsequent fact sheet released by the Bush White House states, 'In 2002, we broke up [italics mine] a plot by KSM to hijack an airplane and fly it into the tallest building on the West Coast.' These two statements make clear that however far the plot to attack the Library Tower ever got—an unnamed senior FBI official would later tell the Los Angeles Times that Bush's characterization of it as a 'disrupted plot' was 'ludicrous'—that plot was foiled in 2002. But Sheikh Mohammed wasn't captured until March 2003.

How could Sheikh Mohammed's water-boarded confession have prevented the Library Tower attack if the Bush administration 'broke up' that attack during the previous year? It couldn't, of course." [Via.]

Adult Supervision

"But nowhere in the interview does Hiatt appear to grapple with the actual argument of Will's numerous critics, which is that the column at issue contained outright misrepresentations of scientific data, on a level that goes far beyond honest differences of opinion." [Via.]

Adult Supervision


"And on October 10, the Post published an insane editorial on how the Nobel Prize should've been awarded to a murdered Iranian protester. This suggests that either the entire editorial board doesn't know that Nobel Peace Prizes are never awarded posthumously or they simply don't give a shit. The piece is still not corrected, because presumably any 'correction' would have to read "the entire premise of this editorial is bullshit, sorry.'" [Via.]

Adult Supervision

Adult Supervision

Blogger, Clean Thine Own Diaper

Jeffrey Goldberg, being the obstreperous tween that he is, says of 'affaire Weigel:

The sad truth is that the Washington Post, in its general desperation for page views, now hires people who came up in journalism without much adult supervision, and without the proper amount of toilet-training. This little episode today is proof of this. But it is also proof that some people at the Post (where I worked, briefly, 20 years ago) still know the difference between acceptable behavior and unacceptable behavior, and that maybe this episode will lead to the reimposition of some level of standards.
Heh. Weigel was, of course, supervised and trained by Laura McGann, among other people. I promise you, McGann is not going to lose a battle of wits or adulthood to Goldberg anytime soon.

Anyway! Adult supervision, you say?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its public transit facilities.

Via Balk, it seems that they've built a station on Moscow's metro that's named for Fyodor Doestoevsky. It's precisely what you expect it to be:

The station, called Dostoyevskaya, is decorated with brooding grey and black mosaics that depict violent scenes from the 19th-century writer's best-known novels. One mural re-enacts the moment when the main character in Crime and Punishment murders an elderly pawnbroker and her sister with an axe.

Another shows a suicide-obsessed character in The Demons holding a pistol to his temple. If that was not enough to darken the mood, shadowlike characters are shown flitting across the cavernous new station's walls and a giant mosaic of a depressed-looking Dostoevsky stares out at passengers.
So, it's a lot like Federal Triangle, only cheerier, I guess?

Fun fact: There was, for many years, a cruise liner named the MS Feodor Doestoevsky. I have no idea what one might have expected, vacationing on such a ship. In 1995 it was renamed the MS Astor, and naturally, attacked by pirates, who would have probably given a ship called the Doestoevsky a wide goddamn berth.

Wet Hot Loud

Of course everyone's talking about that Michael Hastings story on McChrystal. But don't sleep on Rolling Stone's four-day Bonnaroo embed. I'm sure they'll force somebody to resign.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Goodbye Girl.

"There's a lot more I could say, but it's getting late in the day, and I can already see the traffic starting to drop off as the evening commute begins. So I'm just going to hit publish, and send one last DCist post out into the wilderness. I'll be seeing you."
--Sommer Mathis peaces out from DCist. Time to get wistful.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

On The Grind

Here's a funny video from Chris Geidner and Yusef Najafi from Metro Weekly, spoofing an actual "like, take this seriously, y'all" report from the Washington Examiner, in which Tara Palmieri walked around Washington, DC using the iPhone's Grindr app to prove incontrovertibly that at all times, you might be within several thousand feet of a gay man, in Washington DC, who knows, it's a FUCKIN' MAGICAL GODDAMN MYSTERY, URBAN LIFE.



Here's the original Washington Examiner investigative report. I think you can see that the one thing Najafi doesn't quite pull off is the way Palmieri speaks words aloud as if she's just come from having several bricks collide with her skull.


Baller

"My name is Eddie Vale of the AFL-CIO and I'm proud to fight for working families and I don't hide behind anonymous quotes."

--Eddie Vale responds to someone in the White House who slagged organized labor after last night's Arkansas runoff election that was too big of a pussy to stand by their remarks. In the days before the primary, the White House did everything they could to put distance between themselves and Blanche Lincoln because they, like everyone else, thought she was a sure loser. So, someone in the White House has caught themselves a bad case of bitchassness.

"Go Where Airplanes Go," Imperial China

Forever Burned On The Mind's Eye

Well, never let it be said that the New Yorker is above working blue, right? Actually, look: I am not a monument to prudery, all right? This sort of thing normally sits well with me. Still, I'd like to thank Hendrik Hertzberg for managing to somehow get my imagination to combine Blanche Lincoln with pony play. Nice going, asshole.

Journals Of The Crisis Years

The Governess passes along this discovery from Amazon, a little-read and little-bought book entitled My Boss was the BTK Killer... I was the Next Victim. Yes, that's how everything is capitalized and whatnot. The book tells the story of Mary Capps, who was a coworker-underling of Dennis Rader, the infamous "Bind-Torture-Kill" serial killer, and in it she describes what it was like to work with Rader under some, I guess, rather tight deadlines?

At first blush, you get the impression that it's something like a Then We Came To The End...Of Our Lives, but as you read what appears to be the only honest review on it's Amazon page, it becomes clear that Capps basically took her proximity to the BTK Killer as a peg to drape an entire story-of-my-life memoir around:

This book was one of the most poorly written and edited books I have ever read. It told me very little about Dennis Rader and a whole lot about Mary Capps. What I read of the book (about half)told me all about Mary's life, her kids and her growing up, with an occasional diatribe about Dennis Rader and how he ruined her life with a sentence that followed similar to "but more about that later." She supposedly attempts to tell her life story along a time line which runs with what BTK was reported to be doing at that particular time in her life, but goes off on too many rabbit trails. It certainly is not worth $14.00; in fact, in my opinion it isn't worth 50 cents.
So, it's more like an And The Heart Says You Are Going To Brutally Killed, Maybe. Anyway: SUMMER BEACH READ OMGZZ!!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Aggressive Manoeuvres For Autonomous Quadrotor Death Machines In The Dark


Skynet lives.

Why They Gotta Do Me Like That?

Wow. Who knew that Google was capable of automatically generating a Jadakiss song? [Via.]

The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

Ben Craw and I set about the task of humorously memorializing the sad demise of these crazy Alabama would-be elected officials, and ended up sort of breaking our own hearts.



The best part of making this was deciding on the underscoring. We tested it with Oasis' "Don't Look Back In Anger," Boyz II Men's "It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday," and Poe's "Fly Away." Poe! Remember her? You should buy her records, or something!

For the location of Alabama's Valhalla, click here.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Damn Near Make Your Shit Look Soft Like Pam Grier

Here's Tim Geithner, in China, taking some motherfuckers to the rack with the impressive array of basketball skills that have some people calling him the Mike Penberthy of Treasury Secretaries. Geithner got his game on at Beijing's Renmin University High School, where it is said that he "made at least two baskets." Hopefully, he had placed several large bets in U.S. Treasury Securities.

End Of An Era

My friend Sommer Mathis was the last editor I worked under at DCist, and, after a long and virtuous campaign there, is leaving. She departs having left a legacy of milkshakes and steady Quantcast growth in terms of page views over the past two years. She was enormous fun to work with, and I'll always be thankful for her frankly bizarre decision to let me guest edit the site on what would turn out to be my final day at DCist.

Sommer flies now to the Albrittony local venture TBD. Yes, that is what they are calling it, but in fairness, it is 2010 and we have all but run out of names for websites. Gothamist is searching for a new editor, so maybe that's something you'd like to do with your life? I'd recommend it.

That said, it really feels like the time is right for the reign of Monkeyrotica to begin.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Up In The Air

Ladies and gentlemen, if your book is not made of paper, please put it down now.”
Man, this must annoy Kindle users to no end. My understanding of the technology involved -- and feel free to correct me if I'm wrong -- is that if you aren't actually using the whispernet or whatever it's called to download a book, the Kindle isn't doing anything more than a digital watch, or an actual book made of paper, to fuck with whatever the plane doesn't want to have fucked.

Ahh, but you try explaining this to a flight attendant.

Everyone Hates Finales

In what had been billed as "the greatest story ever told," the series finale of the hit show, The Gospel of Jesus Christ aired this evening amid much hype and acclaim. But while early signs point to the conclusion being accepted by the larger audience as a successful conclusion to a story rich with mystery and dense plotting, there are critics who call the ending "contrived," even a cop out.

"I don't envy the task the writers set up for themselves. Bringing such a beloved story to its end couldn't have been easy," said _______________. "They staged an absolutely wonderful, sorrowful death scene, suffused with meaning. I was honestly moved. But from there, they just seemed to tack on a lot of unnecessary plot. I'm afraid I just didn't get the whole resurrection scene. Seemed like a cop-out, to bring the guy back to life like that. And for what? To send his apostles out into the world to teach His word? If those guys needed additional prompting after all they'd been through together, what was the point of it all.

"And then," he continued, "after bringing the guy back from the dead, they just sort of shuffled Him off to the afterlife again, anyway, right? Man, dead or alive, just pick one! It just got exhausting."

Too many hands on the plot may have played a part in the story's indecisiveness. Press accounts throughout the show's last season reveal that while the program's four main showrunners had similar visions of how the story would end, each had a distinct take that may not have been ultimately reconciled. (There are plans to reveal each alternate take as bonus materials on a forthcoming DVD box set.)

It wasn't just the odd ending that left critics feeling cool to the finale. "So many unanswered questions," exclaimed ______________. "The betrayer character was dealt with rather harshly, but could it not be said that the ending would not have happened without him acting the way he did? And I don't really understand the whole 'dying for the sins of mankind' thing. Was this a one-time, world-wide sin mulligan? Did it apply to all future sins from the human race? You have to imagine that in this world they created, a lot of people would just walk around, thinking that they were saved, while others may believe that they have to work for their salvation. It was just really ambiguous."

"To be honest," he continued, "There's something that troubles me even more. I'm sure this wasn't the author's intention, but at the end of the day, I worry that a lot of people are going to just see Jewish people as the bad guys." He sighed, adding, "I hope not. But people just tend to oversimplify."

The network plans to run the Dancing With The Stars results show in the same timeslot next fall.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

(That Said, British Petroleum Can Totally Eat A Bag Of Dicks.)

You know, when the day comes that they finally figure out how to plug that leak in the ocean that all the oil is coming out of (and maybe Jack Shephard will do that, too, with a rock!), I bet half the internet will be all, "Well, that ending sure wasn't satisfying! What about all the unanswered questions? Etc."

BUT WHY HAVEN'T THEY TRIED THAT WHOLE "I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE" TRICK, HUH?

(Tony Soprano died, okay? He's never coming back.)

Oh, yeah.

Been a while, I know. Hello.

The Pompatus of LOST

It's funny, when this last season of LOST began, I was certain about what I wanted from it. VERY certain. So much so, that for the better part of this year, I'd have told you that if they ended the show the way they finally decided to end it tonight, I would have declared it a failure.

But by the end of the episode entitled "The Candidate," I just found that I really wanted something entirely different from the show. I had completely changed my mind. I just stopped being bothered by all the things that I worried about, five episodes into this season. I would be all, "How will they explain this? And that?" And my wife would just say, "I have a feeling you'll just need to let that go."

I trust you'll see why that is so funny!

Anyway, well done, LOST. Now, let's see what else is on.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

One Person At A Time, We Make The World A Better Place

R__________: so who is this @molls
R__________: person you mention on twitter
R__________: she's hilarious
Yes. She is.

Fere The Tertel


Yeah, I saw that study, and thought, "Wow! Eight percent? Banner year, in other words."

That's why I always thought that old Cole Field House tradition -- you know the one, where Maryland fans hold up newspapers when the opposing team's lineups are announced? -- was a particular bit of poor sportsmanship. Obviously, it's disrespectful of Maryland's opponents. But it also sends a clear message to Maryland players. That message: "Ha, ha! None of you dumb motherfuckers know what this thing is!"

That's okay, though, newspapers are dying!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Heard Any Good Rumors Lately?

Were you wondering how it came to pass that a wild rumor that Chief Justice John Roberts was going to retire from the Supreme Court got published at Radar Online today? I just sort of figured that Radar Online had just coded up millions of pages of crazy rumors in advance -- you know, like, "John Roberts Poised To Retire From Supreme Court," "John Roberts Trampled By Wildebeest," "John Roberts Transforms Into A Magical Pegasus And Flies Off To Save Planet From Cloverfield Monster" -- and that one of the robot-zombies that runs their website BLEEPED when they meant to BLORP and WHAMMO, there's this crazy-fresh rumor that President Obama's gonna get to name a new SCOTUS Justice running amok in the world.

As it turns out, I didn't have this exactly right!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

But Where Are Those Good, Old-Fashioned Values, On Which We Used To Rely?


"My mother did not carry me around under her arm like a loaf of French bread the way former Governor Palin carries her son Trig around looking for sympathy and votes."
Oooh, snap! That's from Andrea Fay Friedman. Has Down syndrome. Plays someone with Down syndrome on teevee. And evidently does not need Meg Fucking Stapleton to ghostwrite her opinions.

Some Ideas, Vomited

Game Change, by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, is a bad book, a meretricious book, a book with questionable sources, a book that cannot be trusted, a small-minded book, a substance-free book, and a book that is -- above all -- deadly dull for anyone who actually covered the events of the 2008 campaign without spending the bulk of their time jacking themselves off. And yet, while all of this is true, it really glosses over the fact that it is one of the most poorly written books you will ever read, in your life.

Over at The Awl, Ana Marie runs down a shit-ton of the awful word-farts that the reader encounters as you descend, downward, into this wreck of the soul. She picks out many of my favorites. "The unfolding scene was a semiotician’s fantasia," for example. Also: "But the truth was, dangling over his head was a sword of Damocles invisible to almost everyone, if no less menacing for that. The blade was in the form of a newspaper article that was threatening to drop any day." That sentence should never have happened, in the 21st century. Go read them all.

And yet, I have to say, my favorite worst sentences in Game Change are not included. Let me rectify that.

from page 37:

"It would be many months before the Clintons gained any awareness of the incipient betrayal of Hillary by her colleagues in the Senate. And then it would hit them like a ton of bricks in their psychic solar plexus."
Yes, well. First, of course, since the second idea doesn't follow from the first, logically, you want a "but soon" instead of an "and then." But that's the least of this sentence's problems. Wouldn't it be sufficient for this betrayal to have merely hit the Clintons like a ton of bricks. But for some reason, something called a "psychic solar plexus" is invented.

This raises questions:

1. What, in the name of all that is fuck, is a "psychic solar plexus?"

2. Why would an extra-cognitive adaptation be located in the abdomen?

3. How could it get hit by a ton of bricks? You would have to be laying under a ton of bricks, or standing in front of some sort cannon, which flings tons of bricks at you.

4. And just so we're clear...it's PSYCHIC?

5. How come your psychic solar plexus didn't forewarn the Clintons of the incipient betrayal? Did the message get lost in the lesser splanchnic nerves on its way to their pre-frontal lobe?

6. Oh, and just so we're clear: ALL OF THE CLINTONS share a SINGLE psychic solar plexus?

7. Did the ton of bricks damage the psychic solar plexus' psychic abilities? And did they even notice, given that they don't seem to have been aware of the psychic ability of the solar plexus they were collectively sharing?

Anyway, this sentence in particular took a steaming shit on the xyphoid process of my mindgrapes. The book should be shot in its dumbassed face.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Angles Were All Wrong Now

"Looking at the promotional material, readers of this site will probably recognize signs and symbols used by other pop stars as well. To make it simple: Paramore seems to have been recruited by the Illuminati."
But you knew this already, right? No? Oh, well. For lots more, please read the latest from Tara Ariano.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

All That Stuff That Bummed Me Out Ten Years Ago Still Bugs Me Today


"I'm afraid of people who like Catcher In the Rye. Yeah, I like it, too. But someone, tell me why people he'd despise say, 'I feel like that guy. I don't wanna grow up, because I don't want to die.'"

--Too Much Joy, "William Holden Caulfield"

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How This Could Have All Been Avoided, Or, At The Very Least, Made More Interesting

The Governess: No one is online to discuss the fact that A) America now has it's first legal male prostitute and b) he compares himself to Rosa Parks.

The DCeiver: Is it too late for him to run for the Massachusetts Senate seat?

The Governess: Does Massachusetts really need more "surrogate lady lovers?"
That's a question that sort of answers itself, isn't it?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Blackhearted Ethos Of Game Change [O.P.M. Version]

Every child who grew up during the post-atomic era learned that Mother Nature allows for a cruel denouement in the event of the nuclear-enabled mutually-assured destruction of civilization: after every patch of the earth is scorched, only the coprophages shall remain. As I wade further and further into Mark Halperin and John Heilemann's Game Change, and absorb the reporting on the book that I am all but certain shall inevitable render the reading of same as superfluous, it seems pretty clear those same coprophages will have a practiceable model of journalism to follow in the aftermath of the apocalypse.

I quite literally snorted at the first paragraph of this book, which kicks off the "authors' note":

The idea for this book arose in the spring of 2008 out of a pair of firm convictions. The first was that the election we had both been following intensely for more than a year was as riveting and historic a spectacle as modern politics had ever produced. The second was that, despite wall-to-wall media coverage, much of the the story behind the headlines had not been told.


I think it's important to note that these are not "convictions." The first is an entirely conventional and widely-expressed observation on the 2008 race made everyone in the media. The second is nothing more than a one-sentence distillation of this book's marketing campaign.

That said, the authors deserve credit for prominently stating the deeper ethos of their book right from the start. When one opens the cover for the first time, right on the inside of the book jacket, a quote from Barack Obama, circa 2008, is there to greet the reader:

This shit would be really interesting if we weren't in the middle of it.


So: caveat lector! What you will get from this tome, is the experience of being dragged out to a great, teeming, gossipy Superfund cite of a shitpile, enabled by two authors that have basically allowed anyone willing to offer a juicy put of hearsay, trash-talk, or score-settling to pile on, under the promise that once you are knee-deep in this open-air latrine, it will get interesting. If the book has "convictions," they appear to be: IF YOU LET PEOPLE TALK SHIT ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE, FREE OF CONSEQUENCE, YOU CAN BE WELL PAID.

Naturally, in this consequence-free environment, Game Change's sources unload. Bill Clinton is said to have indulged in a "a sustained romantic relationship," with which Hillary Clinton's "war room within a war room" had to cope. (For some reason, Halperin and Heilemann extend this supposed paramour to privilege of protecting her identity.) "Rumors" step forward to give Cindy McCain a "long-term boyfriend" as well. And a host of unnamed John Edwards staffers unload on Elizabeth Edwards' inability to remain stoic whilst juggling terminal cancer and her husband's insane infidelities.

The providers of all of this grist are freed by the authors to indulge their basest, high-school desires. In fact, the authors seems to have kept everyone well protected, save the one guy that everyone has been talking about ever since the book got leaked.

The current journalistic debate -- outside of observers such as Glenn Greenwald who take issue with this whole enterprise -- is a small-bore matter, pertaining to whether or not Halperin and Heilemann jacked Harry Reid. Questions have arisen as to whether or not Reid's "Negro dialect" remark was intended for attribution, or offered up on background. Reid has professed that he feels "burned" by the authors, but at the same time, he's confessed to being the source. Halperin and Heilemann establish a set of rules governing how things are attributed and what quotation marks are meant to convey in their authors' note:

Where dialogue is in quotation marks, it comes from the speaker, someone who was present and heard the remark, contemporaneous notes, or transcripts. Where dialogue is not in quotes, it is paraphrased, reflecting only a lack of of certainty on the part of our sources about precise wording, not about the nature of the statements. Where specific thoughts, feelings, or states of mind are rendered in italics, they come from either the person identified or someone to whom she or he expressed those thoughts or feelings directly.


I'm not sure I can fully dispense with all of that without first staging a week-long encounter session with the Poynter Institute, but suffice it to say, by the authors' own rules, every instance of quotation marks alone presents the reader with the challenge of penetrating the sourcing mystery. Here's the Reid statement that the whole world is chewing over:

[Reid] was wowed by Obama's oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama -- a "light-skinned" African American "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one," as he later put it privately.


Again, everything in quotes could be direct from Reid's mouth. But it also could be from the authors' notepad. It could also be the remembrance of someone who heard the remark. Plus you have co-authors, whispering to one another! What's unequivocal, however, is the whole "as he later put it privately," part. "Privately" definitively excludes the possibility that Reid himself offered those remarks for the purposes of running in a best-selling, widely-reported book.

More perplexing "ground rules" were offered on "Morning Joe," where Heilemann said they had told sources "that [they wouldn't] identify any of our sources as the sources of the material." However, he added, "we said to them all very clearly that if they put themselves in scenes of the book, if they were uttering dialogue to people in the book in part of a scene, that we would identify them as the utterer of those words."

I'm not sure how that's supposed to work! Aren't the authors of the book, not the subjects, constructing the mise-en-scene? At what point does someone speaking on background suddenly transform into someone who's actively placing themselves inside a scene in an as-yet-unwritten book? It's too charitable to simply call this shady.

In today's Politico, Mike Allen and Glenn Thrush back this up:

Harry Reid isn't talkative. But the Senate majority leader chatted freely with the two disarmingly charming book authors who came to his office at the Capitol shortly after the 2008 election.


They -- and their tape recorder -- were soaking in his reminiscences about the wild campaign that had turned a backbencher in his caucus into president of the United States.

Reid wasn't on guard -- perhaps because he'd been told by his staff that the meeting would be "off the record," according to a person with knowledge of the exchange.


And then, the authors seem to indict Halperin and Heilemann:

Maybe Reid and [senior communications director Jim] Manley -- thinking back to their many candid exchanges over the years -- simply assumed that Halperin wouldn't burn him or his boss. Or maybe he expected that Halperin would check back with him on any quotes he planned to use?


Whatever they were thinking, they were wrong.


But then comes this bullshit:

In the second-guessing that followed, Capitol Hill veterans said there was no way that such inflammatory words from a Senate majority leader would remain off the record, even if that had been the arrangement.


That is just absurd. Maybe there are unwritten rules, governing Senate majority leaders, over which a cabal of unnamed "Capitol Hill veterans" keep close watch. But, suffice it to say, inflammatory words spoken under the condition of anonymity are kept secret in Washington all the time. Let's cast our mind back to August 19, 2009, where the Washington Post unleashed an army of unnamed sources to slag the public option:

"I don't understand why the left of the left has decided that this is their Waterloo," said a senior White House adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "We've gotten to this point where health care on the left is determined by the breadth of the public option. I don't understand how that has become the measure of whether what we achieve is health-care reform."


That's a White House advisor, slagging proponents of a wildly popular health care policy component, using the inflammatory rhetoric of Jim DeMint. To date, no one knows who said this. But I bet a lot of people would really love to know.

And, as Glenn Greenwald points out, it would sure be useful to know the anonymous sources who falsely claimed that the Christmas Crotchfire bomber bought a one-way ticket, who falsely claimed that released GITMO detainees were behind that attack, who falsely claimed that the recidivism rate of GITMO detainees is higher than it is in reality, who falsely claimed that important al Qaeda leaders were killed in airstrikes, and who formed the basis of erroneous reports about Iraq's non-existent WMD program, the heroics of Jessica Lynch, and the death of Pat Tillman. That's the thing about unnamed sources: beyond their inflammations, they tend to get things wrong and they tend to tell lies.

Game Change, we remind you, is chock-a-block with unnamed sources!

I think that the sad thing is that I'd like reporters to do more to penetrate all of the veils that political figures throw up in front of themselves. I hate being bullshitted! And the newshole is only too accomodating to people who want to tell tales out of school. Why aren't the people who spread the falsehoods and the inflammations I listed getting burned?

The reason for this is simple. In journalistic circles, true currency doesn't come from holding people to accounts. What's treasured instead are the ability of a reporter to accrue a stable of well-placed sources that can make the individual reporter look like a real player among the elite media. Let's remember that all Game Change is is 400-pages of two-year old campaign gossip. THERE WERE PEOPLE ON CONFERENCE CALLS YOU DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT! And you are meant to be impressed with the reporters who amassed all of this stuff. Naturally, the stuff that gets the attention of the newshole is the anonymous venom.

It's all in the service of utter, black venality. I am honestly depressed to be have so much of this book yet to read. My only comfort is that I wasn't the one who chose to masticate, digest, and regurgitate this shit in the first place.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Prior, Ironic, Engagements

The kids from n+1 are having a "group discussion" on gentrification tonight, but I'm missing it because I had previously made plans to attend the NRA's "Oh, Did You Hear, We Like Guns, And Also Shooting Those Guns" forum, instead.

Anyway, among other things, they'll be talking about "the way gentrification is itself being changed...by our acquiescence and our resistance." But mostly by their acquiescence, obvs.

Monday, January 04, 2010

More Cowbell

Nobody's more excited about the Fiesta Bowl than the Boise State band. I tell you: this is college football at its most perfunctory.

Here's video: