I went on a trip to DC, and today a new era in world history has begun. I have met Chuckles in person! This momentous event sent a cataclysmic of mystical energies through the ether, the magnitude and significance of which you may never comprehend---but they will affect you! And it did involve eating delicious Ethiopian food. Awaze tibbs, mmm mmm.
(My Canadian readers wouldn't know who I'm talking about or his significance to human history, so they might want to read the Coles Notes version here.)
Remember all those warmongering wingnuts complaining that Al Gore was apparently using a lot more electricity than he should have been? Pinko Punko at Three Bulls! has developed a system to measure the relative inconsistency in their positions and actions---between warmongering wingnuts and Al Gore. Don't you just love science? So objective.
Wah wah! We achieve a rhetorical miracle! at Three Bulls!: Case (A) If one were to advocate a Bob Owens
to sign up for a stint in Iraq, how could we measure such a
contribution? We could at minimum consider his contribution as that of
a warm breathing body to our army in Iraq. Let us say 1/150,000. I
know, you say “Pinko, let’s be fair with that denominator.” Let us
assume that the United States armed forces actually are represented by
a higher number, 1,000,000 and that Bob is not the musclebound killing
machine he might appear to be, but a formless mass of disgusting
flotsam, prone to friendly fire incidents and grave incompetency, thus
his contribution would be rendered at 1% of replacement player. Thus we
would have his overall contribution to our forces as 1/100,000,000th of
our effort in Iraq as the minimum bound. Since we have been hearing so
much that “surge” troops are actually key to our entire war strategy,
if we were to assume Bob Owens were a killing machine worth 10 men, and
that he would sign up now to take part in our troop surge (a mere
20,000 men and women) we might measure Bob’s maximal contribution to
our effort as 1/2000th.
The thread evolves into an enlightened discussion of the science of automatic pantsing.
My first foray into the dangerous world of political mockery by image editing.
Johann Hari has an excellent takedown of Mark Steyn's book on the impending European Islamopocalypse.
Johann Hari - Archive: But
this cannot hide the gaping holes of logic and fact in his argument. To
fulfil his headline predictions, Steyn needs to turn 20 million
European Muslims into more than 200 million European Muslims - in just
13 years. Only Fallacci's rats could reproduce so rapidly. Steyn even
admits that the history of demographic predictions is hysterically
inept, noting that "most twenty-year projections... are laughably
speculative, and thus most doomsday scenarios are too" - before
offering his own.
Europe's real demographics are described in a similar book by a
slightly more scupulous author. Tony Blankley, editorial page editor of
the Washington Times and DC grande dame, last year wrote 'The West's
Last Chance' predicting an enfeebled Europe would collapse before the
Muslim hoardes. But after studying the figures, he admitted: “For
almost every Western European country, their populations do not even
begin to decline until at least 2025... In fact, for the next few
decades, they continue to go up, even without any new immigration… The
numbers only begin to move decidedly down about fifty years from now.”
So for Steyn's predictions to hold true, the current Muslim birthrate
needs to hold steady through five decades of life in the West, all
Muslims have to become communitarian Islamists bent on sharia law, and
there must be no natalist policies from European governments in the
Perhaps sensing this groaning crack in the foundation of his argument,
Steyn adds hastily: "It is not necessary, incidentally, for Islam to
become a statistical majority in order to function as one. At the
height of its power in the eighth century, the 'Islamic world'
stretched from Spain to India yet its population was only minority
Muslim." But they were - a fairly obvious difference - not electoral
democracies, where any group has to command a majority to rule.
And it goes on thusly to deconstruct Steyn's panicked racist natalism. The main flaw of the article is that he resurrects the common multiculturalism strawman (and I am told he is an otherwise odious libertarian conservative of some kind? Many people I like seem to hate him, and this is the first time I've ever heard of him), but for shooting the pirhana in the barrel so well, I'll forgive him.
In case anyone was wondering about the Libby trial and actually relies on me to tell them about it (hah!), it turns out that Libby has been found guilty on four out of five counts, innocent on the predicted weakest charge, count #3. This is obviously a huge victory for the prosecution. FDL's servers are way overloaded now, so I've been following the thread in the discussions at the Daily Kos, where people have been watching CNN.
What this means is that the legal system has now officially decided that Libby's grand jury testimony was indeed a dishonest attempt at obfuscation. Now that it's non-credibility has been established, it's possible that further charges may follow. It's too bad that I. Lewis Libby and company couldn't have been indicted for something bigger, like war crimes, but often you get the baddies when they trip up.
Pursuant to my recent post on Markos Moulitsas' attitude towards Kucinich, Kos has responded to his many critics on and off his about his reasons for expression disgust at Kucinich's campaign. And, to see his take on it---that of a professional political consultant who has been, in many ways, one step ahead of the game---Kucinich looks like a real loopy piece of work.
But in rides my favorite American economist, Max Sawicky at MaxSpeak, You Listen! (And that exclamation mark is simultaneously part of my sentence and his blog title.) In two posts, he thoroughly analyses Kos' attack on Kucinich and what it tells us about political consultants in both large US parties. And then he responds to criticisms that some of Kos' claims may be valid by demonstrating how they are not relevant to Kos.
(Needless to say, I don't necessarily endorse Kucinich at least insofar as I don't necessarily endorse the Democratic Party. Nevertheless, this episode is still instructive. And lest anyone accuse me of being unfair to Kos, well, while I disagree with a range of his positions and methods, it's undeniable that the Orange Horde is a remarkable accomplishment and a number of interesting people and ideas have bubbled up through its ranks.)
This is Markos Moulitsas' regular ranking of Democratic presidential candidates. Now, it's not surprising that Kucinich is ranked low. It's the "Ugh" that gets me. If he had said, "Uhhh...." in skepticism, that's easily forgivable. But he emitted what was an unmistakable expression of disgust---pace some of the commenters on that thread who think it was just in reference to Kucinich's prospects.
Note how Nader was scolded by people telling him that he should have gone within the US Democratic Party primary elections system. Kucinich is raising his issues the way that people want him to raise it, and the Great Emperor Poobah of the American liberal blogosphere says, "Ugh." Take that thing away.
I think some people have been wondering how I actually managed to get into the Libby trial media room. That is, there's a sort of implicit belief, I think, that the trial of a major American politician would be inaccessible in some way, or at least that a place among The Media would be difficult to get; and this belief is justified by the fact that it usually is.
So, to begin with, it must be said that some of the Big People in the blogosphere went through a certain amount of effort to ensure that they themselves had access to the trial. It happens that this is one of the first high-profile cases to get total coverage by self-publishing Internet media (ie, blogs). I don't know exactly what they went through to get access, but they are definitely to be appreciated for the effort.\
Even so, the blogular aristocracy is the blogular aristocracy, and you may rightly still wonder how it was I managed to get in myself, considering that I didn't go through the process they went through. That is a tale of social engineering designed and implemented on-the-fly on Feb 6, when I liveblogged the Libby grand jury tapes.
I arrived in the morning, passed the Prettyman courthouse security (similar to airport security, actually), and the first thing in front of me was the sign pointing to the "media room" for the Libby trial. That looked promising, so I went in there. In the foyer of the media room, there was a "bouncer" lady whose purpose it was to check authorization for the media room. I didn't know her role at the time, so I asked her if I could watch the Libby trial from here. She told me that I could watch it from the actual courtroom on the 6th floor. I went dutifully upstairs, found the courtroom, and before I went in, I asked the guard if I could use my laptop inside. The guard told me to go downstairs to the media room to use my laptop.
I went back downstairs and told the bouncer lady that I had been told to come back down there because they wouldn't let me use my laptop upstairs. The bouncer lady asked me if I had a press pass. I told her that I didn't. So she told me I couldn't use the room. I asked her if there were a way to obtain a press pass. She told me that the deadline to apply had passed weeks ago. Then I used the most powerful tool of social engineering: the Sad Puppy Eyes Look. The bouncer's heart apparently melted, and she told me to go upstairs and talk to another person in the courtroom. I found this person during the first break (so I missed the first motion that morning), and she personally escorted me back to the media room, let me in, and found me a place. She even called the tech to optimize the sound for me.
Then she told me that if I wanted to come back, I was welcome to do so, but I had to email her first. There is a good reason for the press passes: space. So she had to check if there would be space. For yesterday's Libby liveblogging, I had emailed her a few days in advance to tell her that I would be coming. And apparently she told the bouncer lady, and I was let into the room without a hassle. Later I left the court in the evening with the Firedoglake folk, and we took the opportunity to thank her. Unfortunately, taking her to dinner would have been subverting a servant of the court or something like that.
So in this case, I have to thank the court officials for being so open to even a Little Person in the blogosphere like me. In my opinion, that's a sterling example of the impartiality claimed by the justice system, and they clearly have a sense of proportion and were willing to treat dilettantes like me on the same level or better than the pros. A lot of good work is done via the courts, which is essential in a representative system like ours, and it is my belief that while I appreciate the efforts of the big league bloggers, it's essential to democracy for dilettantes to have a place too. If I may say so myself.
I'd also like to appreciate the pro bloggers. They could have been resentful that I circumvented the process via social engineering, but they (meaning the FDL and HuffPo people who were the only people I had any contact with in this) were gracious when I met them. I'm sure that they too recognize that us mildly motivated dabblers have a place as well. Anyway, it was an interesting experience and one I may be tempted to repeat if the correct combination of circumstances presents itself. (ie, time off work and an interesting political spectacle).
Oh, one more thing at 17:28--the judge briefly returns to ask whether or not he should include his last cautionary instruction after the sidebar as a written note to the jury. I think they agreed, but it was faint. Then he dismissed again.
So today we started and completely finished the closing arguments. The prosecution started by laying out the basic premise of their case: that it's just not credible that Libby would not have had those conversations, when nine people said he did. Then the defence attempted to reduce this only to a couple of people and cast doubt on their credibility, and they invoked the memory defence. Then Fitz got up and told the jury that there were way too many coincidences, and the situation was such that Wilson was central.
I think that the defence was honestly weaker, but the decision is still going to be a nail biter.