Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Frank Gaffney on Hardball


Chris Matthews revisited the decision to go to war with Iraq Tuesday night on "Hardball," hosting neocon hawk Frank Gaffney and Mother Jones' David Corn in a discussion of weapons of mass destruction and Dick Cheney's admission that the US would have invaded Iraq even without the pretense of WMD.

"Was there anything Saddam Hussein could have [done to stop] that war?" Matthews asked Gaffney, and when Gaffney attempted to justify the case for war based on the first Gulf War, and not the presence of weapons of mass destruction, Matthews pounced.

"Why the long inspections debate if they didn't matter?" he asked.

"Do you believe that the war had anything to do with [Cheney's] belief that [Iraq] had weapons of mass destruction stockpiled?" Matthews asked Gaffney. "Because he's admitting that they didn't have to have stockpiles for him to believe the war was justified. That's what's astounding."


An exasperated Matthews cut to Corn as Gaffney attempted to make the case that the cost of inaction would have been greater than the cost of the war, and when Gaffney said Hussein presented a "mortal threat" to the American people, Matthews attacked him for "still [using] the strategic language" of the Bush administration.

"Where do you get this from?" Matthews screamed. "We can't find the weapons, we can't find the rationale, what kind of mortal threat? Where do you get these words from? Mortal means you die.

"You guys sold the war as a nuclear threat to the United sold every trick you could to get us into this war," he continued. "And now you're backpedaling. And I do find it astounding....Four thousand people are dead because of the way you feel. And Frank Gaffney, you're wrong about this."

"It is regrettable that they had to die," Gaffney said, "but I believe they did have to die," citing Hussein's chemical, biological, and nuclear capabilities. "The danger was inaction could have resulted in the death of a great many more Americans than 4,000. And that's the reason I'm still delighted that we did what we did."

"The American people don't buy it, Frank," Matthews said.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Obama on Illinois Senate Seat Appointment

c/o TPM

... I am also aware of your interest in the matter of the Illinois Senate appointment. Let me say that I was as appalled as anyone by the revelations earlier this week. I have never spoken with the Governor on this subject. And I am quite confident that no representatives of mine would have had any part in any deals related to this seat. I think the materials released by the U.S. Attorney reflect that [.pdfs: press release; complaint]. I have asked my team to gather the facts of any contacts with the Governor's staff about this vacancy so we can share them with you. And we will do that in the next few days.

Finally, on this matter, let me say that this Senate seat does not belong to any politician to trade - it belongs to the people of Illinois, and they deserve the best possible representation. They also deserve to know that any vacancy will be filled in an appropriate way. I hope and expect that the leaders of the legislature will take steps to ensure that this is so.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Jon Stewart

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Official Website

Sunday, November 23, 2008

More from US DOJ's 'Investigation into the Removal of Nine U.S. Attorneys in 2006'

DOJ Report pp. 192-194 re: David Iglesias

"In sum, we believe the evidence shows that the complaints about Iglesias from New Mexico Republican politicians and party activists, both to the Department and to the White House, caused Sampson to place Iglesias on the removal list. Once Iglesias was on the list, none of the senior Department leaders questioned his inclusion or asked that he be taken off the list.

We believe that Senator Domenici’s complaints were the primary factor for Iglesias’s placement on the list. Although Gonzales and McNulty stated that Domenici never directly asked the Department to replace Iglesias, the nature of Domenici’s criticisms left little doubt that he wanted a new U.S. Attorney in New Mexico. Gonzales said that Domenici “complained about . . . whether or not Mr. Iglesias was capable of continuing in that position.” According to McNulty, Domenici criticized Iglesias’s handling of public corruption cases and said that Iglesias was “in over his head.” McNulty said that Domenici’s assertiveness and tone during the conversation were “striking.”

Yet, we found no evidence that anyone in the Department examined any of the complaints about Iglesias through any careful or objective analysis. Although Gonzales said he asked Sampson to look into Rove’s concerns about voter fraud enforcement in New Mexico, Gonzales never followed up with Sampson about his findings or to ensure that the complaints were objectively examined. McNulty said he did not take any steps to find out what had triggered Domenici’s telephone call or take any steps “of an investigative nature” in response. Gonzales told us that in retrospect he would have expected that someone would have looked into the complaints. Gonzales said “you can’t have, you know, a member of Congress calling and making an allegation and not checking it out and seeing whether or not there’s anything there to it.”

However, no one reached out to anyone in the U.S. Attorney’s Office or the FBI to ask about the voter fraud or public corruption cases, or whether Iglesias was inappropriately delaying an indictment in a prominent public corruption investigation. More importantly, no one in the Department ever asked Iglesias about these complaints, or why he had handled the cases the way he did. Rather, Gonzales, McNulty, Sampson, and those involved in the decision to remove Iglesias accepted at face value that the complaints raised about Iglesias by New Mexico Republican officials were a sufficient reason to remove him. Because of complaints by political officials who had a political interest in the outcome of these voter fraud and public corruption cases, the Department removed Iglesias, an individual who had previously been viewed as a strong U.S. attorney.

We believe that these actions by Department officials were a troubling dereliction of their responsibility to protect the integrity and independence of prosecutorial decisions by the Department. These officials had an obligation to determine that the complaints about Iglesias and the suggestions that he be removed were not made to influence the investigation and prosecution of the courthouse case or the voter fraud cases. Yet, they took no action to look into the matter.

In our view, the primary responsibility for this dramatic failure rests with Attorney General Gonzales, Deputy Attorney General McNulty, and Chief of Staff Sampson. While Sampson placed Iglesias’s name on the removal list, neither Gonzales nor McNulty ensured that the complaints about Iglesias were appropriately and objectively assessed. Gonzales said he asked Sampson to look into the complaints, but never inquired about the outcome of any review or ensured that the complaints were fairly assessed. McNulty abdicated any responsibility for Iglesias’s removal, stating that he did not add Iglesias to the list, that he did not have any reason to recommend his removal at the time, and that he assumed whoever placed him on the list had an independent reason for doing so. But neither Gonzales nor McNulty inquired whether a Department prosecutor was being unfairly criticized for appropriately doing his job – weighing the evidence on particular cases in accord with the law and Department policy, and determining whether and when a prosecution was warranted.

We recognize that Senators and other political officials can recommend to the White House candidates for U.S. Attorney in their states, and they can use political factors in determining who to recommend. But once U.S. Attorneys assume office, they are obligated to put political considerations aside when making prosecutive judgments on individual cases. Inevitably, their decisions may displease the political officials who initially supported them.

If a U.S. Attorney must maintain the confidence of home-state political officials to avoid removal, regardless of the merits of the U.S. Attorney’s prosecutorial decisions, respect for the Department of Justice’s independence and integrity will be severely damaged and every U.S. Attorneys’ prosecutorial decisions will be suspect. The longstanding tradition of integrity and independent judgments by Department prosecutors will be undermined, and confidence that the Department of Justice decides who to prosecute based solely on the evidence and the law, without regard to political factors, will disappear.

(emphasis mine)

In sum, we believe that Department’s actions in this case to remove Iglesias – based on complaints from New Mexico political officials and party activists about his handling of particular criminal cases and without any action to determine whether the complaints were legitimate or whether they were made in an effort to influence the initiation or the timing of an investigation or prosecution for political gain – were an abdication of senior Department leaders’ responsibilities, independence, and integrity."

. . .. ... .. . .

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Zen Short

 Zen Shorts (Caldecott Honor Book): Jon J Muth: Books

There was once an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years.

One day, his horse ran away.

Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit.

"Such bad luck," they said sympathetically.

"Maybe," the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it two other wild horses.

"Such good luck!" the neighbors exclaimed.

"Maybe," replied the farmer.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the wild horses, was thrown off, and broke his leg.

Again, the neighbors came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.

"Such bad luck," they said.

"Maybe," answered the farmer.

The day after that, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army to fight in a war. Seeing that the son's leg was broken, they passed him by.

"Such good luck," cried the neighbors.

"Maybe," said the farmer.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

P. 29-30 of US DOJ: An Investigation into the Removal of Nine U.S. Attorneys in 2006

3. The First Removal: Todd Graves

After sending his January 9, 2006, e-mail to Miers, Sampson did not receive an immediate response to his proposal, and no action was taken on his overall proposal for several months. Nevertheless, shortly after Sampson’s January 9 proposal, action was taken to seek the resignation of Todd Graves, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri.

On January 19, 2006, Sampson sent an e-mail to EOUSA Director Battle asking him to call when he had a few minutes to discuss Graves. Several days later (apparently before Battle spoke to Sampson), Goodling called Battle and told him to call Graves to request his resignation. Goodling instructed Battle to tell Graves only that the Administration had decided to make a change, that his service was appreciated, and that the request was not based on any misconduct by Graves but simply to give someone else a chance to serve.

Shortly thereafter, on January 24, 2006, Battle called Graves and communicated the message as instructed by Goodling. Graves said he was “stunned” and “shocked” by the call, and said Battle would not explain why his resignation was sought. Graves subsequently complied with the instruction and on March 10, 2006, announced his resignation, effective March 24.

Although Graves was not originally identified in the 2007 congressional hearings as one of the U.S. Attorneys who was asked to resign in 2006 as a result of the “process” initiated by Sampson, we considered him part of that group. He was targeted for removal on Sampson’s January 9, 2006, list, and the script Battle followed in seeking Graves’s resignation was identical to the one he followed in conversations with the other eight U.S. Attorneys who were later told to resign.

However, as we discuss in greater detail in Chapter Four of this report, no Department employee involved in the process could explain why Graves was told to resign. Battle, who placed the call at Goodling’s direction, said he was not given the reasons. Goodling, who directed Battle to call Graves, stated in her congressional testimony that she would have done so only on instruction from Sampson. Sampson told congressional investigators that he had no recollection of the matter, believed that Goodling had handled it, and assumed that it was based on a finding of misconduct by Margolis. Margolis told us that there was no misconduct finding against Graves and expressly denied playing any role in Graves’s removal. Gonzales told us that he had no recollection about being consulted about Graves’s removal.

We also found no documentation within the Department describing the reasons that Graves was told to resign. However, we found that the White House Counsel’s Office played a role in his resignation. Although Sampson told congressional investigators that he had no recollection as to why he placed Graves’s name on the January 9 removal list and disclaimed any involvement in the January 24 resignation request to Graves, Sampson acknowledged to us that he discussed with the White House Counsel’s Office that the staff of Missouri’s Republican Senator Christopher Bond was urging the White House Counsel’s Office to remove Graves. [emphasis mine] We describe this issue, and the White House’s role in the removal of Graves, in more detail in Chapter Four.

. . .. ... .. . .

Monday, November 17, 2008

Wired: Analog Meets Its Match in Red Digital Cinema's Ultrahigh-Res Camera

Analog Meets Its Match in Red Digital Cinema's Ultrahigh-Res Camera

His team of engineers and scientists have created the first digital movie camera that matches the detail and richness of analog film. The Red One records motion in a whopping 4,096 lines of horizontal resolution—"4K" in filmmaker lingo—and 2,304 of vertical. For comparison, hi-def digital movies like Sin City and the Star Wars prequels top out at 1,920 by 1,080, just like your HDTV. (There's also a slightly higher-resolution option called 2K that reaches 2,048 lines by 1,080.) Film doesn't have pixels, but the industry-standard 35-millimeter stock has a visual resolution roughly equivalent to 4K. And that's what makes the Red so exciting: It delivers all the dazzle of analog, but it's easier to use and cheaper—by orders of magnitude—than a film camera. In other words, Jannard's creation threatens to make 35-mm movie film obsolete.

Two years ago, Jannard brought a spec sheet and a mock-up of a camera—not much more than an aluminum box about the size of a loaf of bread—to NAB 2006. Even though it wasn't a working product, more than 500 people plunked down a $1,000 deposit to get their names on a waiting list. For months, industry watchers wondered if the company was for real. Today, there's no question. The Red One is being used on at least 40 features. Steven Soderbergh, the Oscar-winning director, borrowed two prototypes to shoot his Che Guevara biopics, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May, and later purchased three for his film The Informant. Peter Jackson, the Lord of the Rings himself, bought four. Director Doug Liman used a Red on Jumper. Peter Hyams used one on his upcoming Beyond a Reasonable Doubt. Digital cinema that's all but indistinguishable from film is finally coming to a theater near you.


Then there's the economics: The Red One sells for $17,500—almost 90 percent less than its nearest HD competitor. The savings are even greater relative to a conventional film camera. Not that anyone buys those; filmmakers rent them, usually from Panavision, an industry stalwart in Woodland Hills, California. Panavision doesn't publicize its rates, but a Panavision New Zealand rental catalog quotes $25,296 for a four-week shoot—more than the cost of purchasing a Red. "It's clearly the future of cinematography," Peter Hyams says. "You can buy this camera. You can own it. That's why people are excited."

see the whole article at

Friday, November 14, 2008

Consumer Revolt?

Daily Kos

It isn't often that you read the former Charles Edward Wilson Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School dressing down the American corporate community for "failure to understand and respect your own consumers, customers, employees, and end users."

Even rarer is to read such a condemnation--and a lengthy, nuanced, back-to-Jesus one at that--in Business Week. But Shoshana Zuboff, author of The Support Economy [see also], provided a truly stunning analysis in that publication just a few days ago.

Titled Obama's Victory: A Consumer-Citizen Revolt (and subtitled--ominously for the business community--"The election confirms it's time for sober reappraisal and reinvention within the business community. If you don't do it, someone else will," Zuboff opens with a withering salvo:
This column is dedicated to the top managers of American business whose policies and practices helped ensure Barack Obama's victory. The mandate for change that sounded across this country is not limited to our new President and Congress. That bell also tolls for you. Obama's triumph was ignited in part by your failure to understand and respect your own consumers, customers, employees, and end users. The despair that fueled America's yearning for change and hope grew to maturity in your garden.

Millions of Americans heard President-elect Obama painfully recall his sense of frustration, powerlessness, and outrage when his mother's health insurer refused to cover her cancer treatments. Worse still, every one of them knew exactly how he felt. That long-simmering indignation is by now the defining experience of every consumer of health care, mortgages, insurance, travel, and financial services—the list goes on.

Obama was elected not only because many Americans feel betrayed and abandoned by their government but because those feelings finally converged with their sense of betrayal at the hands of Corporate America. Their experiences as consumers and as citizens joined to create a wave of revolt against the status quo—as occurred in the American Revolution. Be wary of those who counsel business as usual. This post-election period is a turning point for the business community. It demands an attitude of sober reappraisal and a disposition toward fundamental reinvention. If you don't do it, someone else will.
And that's only the opening. As she proceeds through the in-depth indictment, she explores decades of consumer and worker despair, ruthless bottom-line management, the erosion of citizen trust in big business, and, finally, citizens discovering the ability to educate and inform themselves in a new digital age. Even entrepreneurs in the new, cutting-edge technology sectors are not spared, as the Facebook and Google CEO's are held up as warning signs of slippage, still focusing on monetizing "eyeballs" and devising "two classes of stock intended to insulate top management from investor pressures."

Solutions to the economic crisis, it's clear, are going to have to be long-term and systemic. It remains to be seen whether Zuboff's advice to Wall Street corporations to take responsibility for the financial crisis will be followed in the wake of a change election ... or whether that change is read by the CEO's to apply to government only.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Learn History's Lessons

Andrew Sullivan

Some readers think my continuing attempt to expose all the lies and flim-flam and bizarre behavior of Sarah Palin is now moot. She's history - they argue. Move on. I think she probably is history. Even Bill Kristol and his minions in the McCain-Palin campaign may not be able to resuscitate her political viability now. But even if she is history, she is history that matters.

Let's be real in a way the national media seems incapable of:
This person should never have been placed on a national ticket in a mature democracy.
She was incapable of running a town in Alaska competently. The impulsive, unvetted selection of a total unknown, with no knowledge of or interest in the wider world, as a replacement president remains one of the most disturbing events in modern American history. That the press felt required to maintain a facade of normalcy for two months - and not to declare the whole thing a farce from start to finish - is a sign of their total loss of nerve. That the Palin absurdity should follow the two-term presidency of another individual utterly out of his depth in national government is particularly troubling. 46 percent of Americans voted for the possibility of this blank slate as president because she somehow echoed their own sense of religious or cultural "identity". Until we figure out how this happened, we will not be able to prevent it from happening again. And we have to find a way to prevent this from recurring.

more ...

. . .. ... ..... oOo ..... ... .. . .

& Checks & Balances 11.29.2006

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Obama Didn't Budge


Looking back over the campaign, everyone now seems to see that there were a few key moments when John McCain did things that surrendered whatever chance he had to beat Barack Obama. At the top of the list has to be the choice of Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential nominee -- a choice that seemed fatal from the first for those who had eyes to see it, and soon revealed itself as such over the concluding weeks of the campaign. And McCain staffer and alter-ego Mark Salter is now conceding that the campaign suspension is probably another.

But what is easy to miss in these key moments is that most of them weren't simply what McCain did but how Obama reacted -- and the critical synergy between the two.

The campaign suspension was the key example.

It wasn't just that McCain suspended his campaign (and tried to postpone the debate). That wasn't the point at all. He unilaterally suspended his campaign and dared Obama not to suspend his. That was the key. Either Obama had to follow McCain's lead and suspend his campaign or reveal himself as the self-serving, all-about-himself, unpatriotic freak McCain's campaign had spent so many millions of dollars to portray him as. It was a classic play at the Republicans' 'bitch-slap' theory of electoral politics, with all the gendered weight and macho-hierarchy-setting the unlovely phrase implies.

But Obama didn't budge. I think there were a lot of Democrats who were really worried that McCain had put Obama in some kind of box or that Obama would see it as such and react accordingly. But he didn't.

And it went from McCain bigfooting Obama (with all that would have entailed), to Obama turning the stunt around on McCain. It undermined one of McCain's key selling points against Obama -- that [McCain] was tougher, more seasoned under pressure -- and further cemented the image of [McCain as] a man who was erratic and showed questionable judgments under pressure.

. . .. oOo .. . .

3.21.2010 rolling on

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pollwatching in Colorado

The Geebus reader KS writes:

Hello all -- I'd like to share my yesterday [election day] with you:

5am: wake up

5:30: stuff my cooler with snacks

5:45: drive toward a beautiful sunrise to overland high school

6:00: introduce myself as a credentialed pollwatcher to election judges for 3 seperate precincts at this high school. they can't tell if i'll be a nuisance or a help today. make sure machines all have zeros and that election judges have adequate supplies.

6:30: about 30 people lining up outside

7:00: polls open -- everybody in good mood -- no problems

7:30: i am asked to leave by the vice-principal of the high school as an unauthorized person in the polling location. this is our school ma'am and we are allowing only judges and voters to be here. 3 other government pollwatchers are also asked to leave. his orders are coming from the school superintendent. i argue with him outside in the cold that when a school agrees to be a polling location then it has to comply with election law; we all are authorized by state law to be there as credentialed poll watchers; he is breaking the law; he has no authority to kick me out; here are my credentials; what's his supervisor's name and number; yada yada yada.

7:35: call this into obama legal team and tell them to get on the phone to school district that this polling location is violating state law. worried that this is happening districtwide.

7:35 to 8:30: stand outside in the freezing cold waiting for resolution and decide to kill time by assisting numerous voters who don't know their proper polling location.

8:35: approach vice principal again nicely and suggest we ask the election judges if pollwatchers can be there. we do that, they say yes, and we're all allowed back in. (never hear back from legal team)

8:40: back in again and discover that numerous provisional ballots were cast improperly while i was outside b/c election judges did not follow proper process. i direct them all to their own training manuals for correct process on provisional ballots. they mean well.... they just were overwhelmed and didn't know the rules. this is why i am here. this happened 4 years ago too.

the rest is a blur until....

1 or 2pm: i step outside to receive the lunch jenny has brought for me; glance up to see former senator gary hart and the leader of colorado's obama campaign and a camera person pull up (hart is driving them). they say they hear there's a problem at this location and was their help might needed? (looks like the boiler room made some calls after-all). i tell them they are about 6 hours too late, it's been resolved onsite, please don't go inside to bother anybody, but what a pleasure to meet them all. photo op! hart says thank goodness for our excellent legal counsel here and they are off to visit more troubled polling sites.

more blur until 5pm, when an election judge (about 65 years old) tells me she thinks i'm too bossy and offputting and that it causes her stress to know i'm watching her. i tell her that none of the other 11 election judges there has this problem, nor has any election judge i have worked with in the last 3 times i have done this; give her the same speech i gave the guy who kicked me out in the morning about how the law allows me to be there, to ask questions, and to tell her when she is doing it wrong. sorry if you think that's off-putting, but that's my job -- you are in fact doing it wrong -- and i'll watch from across the room and try to be more pleasant when i address you ma'am. would you like a brownie?

more blur until 7pm when the polls close and results are posted.

7:45: home to be with my family

8:30: to the parties downtown with steve to watch the returns, hear and watch speeches, buy stuff, and take in the scene.

11:30: instant sleep.

whew.... what a day. no long lines, but lots of registration problems nonetheless and it's hard work trying to nudge the election judges to follow the proper procedures. our system of conducting elections is so poor. there's go to be a better way that isn't so complicated.......... maybe next time.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Markets, Complexity, Greenspan, Taleb ...

JIM LEHRER: Speaking of money, another subject, David. Alan Greenspan's testimony (.pdf) this day before yesterday before Congress, what did you think of that?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, first of all, I admired him for saying that. We often are in a political culture where nobody admits a mistake, and he admitted a mistake. And the question is, why? What did he get wrong about the economy?

And I think what he got wrong is -- Paul Solman had a guy named Nassim Taleb on the show not long ago who got it right, who picked Fannie Mae, who talked about the banking collapse.

And the difference between the two worldviews is Greenspan relied on quantitative models of risk analysis, where Taleb is the product of behavioral economics, which talks about the psychology of perception and the perception of risks, and the biases we make in assuming the future will be basically like the past, and the way we look for evidence that confirms our prejudices.

And if you looked at the risk analysis through the frailty of human perception, as Taleb did, you can say this risk was out of control. People did not understand what was happening.
And all these bogus economic models that the quantifying people believed in just were bogus. And I think that's the two mental frameworks that allowed some people to understand what was going to happen and so many, so many experts not get it.

. . .. ... .. . .

Henry Farrell & Dan Drezner 10.29.2008

& 4.22.2010 C&L

Synchronized Presidential Debating

Get the latest news satire and funny videos at

Monday, October 27, 2008

Obama's Closing Argument

Canton, Ohio
October 27, 2008

Thursday, October 23, 2008


SNL via Huffington Post

Ron Howard's Call For Obama

From Huffington Post: Ron Howard's Call For Obama

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

The emergence of a culture - diavlogs

What I found interesting, as I listened to this 6:32 video, was contemplating the sorts of interactions that might have taken place between each of the boys in the experiment David Berreby discusses here.

Nancy Pfotenhauer on Hardball

duration 9:34

What if television talk show hosts didn't allow guests to go off the merits?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Wondering about how to vote for judges in Los Angeles County?

Los Angeles County Bar Association judicial ratings and short videos with each candidate from the League of Women Voter's of California Education Fund website.

Superior Court office 72:

League of Women Voters Summary page

*Hilleri Grossman Merritt (Well qualified)

**see 1-minute statement

***see 6-minute interview

*Steven Simons (Qualified)

**see 1-minute statement

***see 6-minute interview

Superior Court office 82:

League of Women Voters Summary page

*Cynthia Loo (Qualified)

**see 1-minute statement

***see 6-minute interview

*Thomas Rubinson (Well qualified)

**see 1-minute statement

***see 6-minute interview

Superior Court office 84:

League of Women Voters Summary page

*Lori-Ann C. Jones
(Not qualified)

**see 1-minute statement

***see 6-minute interview

*Pat Connoly
(Not qualified)

**see 1-minute statement

***see 6-minute interview

Superior Court office 94:

League of Women Voters Summary page

*C. Edward Mack

**see 1-minute statement

***see 6-minute interview

*Michael J. O'Gara
(Well qualified)

**see 1-minute statement

***see 6-minute interview

Superior Court office 154:

League of Women Voters Summary page

*Rocky L. Crabb
(Well qualified)

**see 1-minute statement

***see 6-minute interview

*Michael V. Jesic
(Well qualified)

**see 1-minute statement

***see 6-minute interview

Update: also check out

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Colin Powell endorses Obama


later ...

and the instamash version ...

. . .. ... .. . .

flash forward 2010.02.21

The Art of Learning

Josh Waitzkin
The Art of Learning P. 112-113:

"Thinking back on my competitive life, I realize how defining these themes of Beginner's Mind and Investment in Loss have been. Periodically, I have had to take apart my game and go through a rough patch. In all disciplines, there are times when a performer is ready for action, and times when he or she is soft, in flux, broken-down or in a period of growth.

Learners in this phase are inevitably vulnerable. It is important to have perspective on this and allow yourself protected periods for cultivation. A gifted boxer with a fabulous right and no left will get beat up while he tries to learn the jab. Or take the talented high school basketball player learning how to play point guard at the college level. He may have been able to dominate schoolyards in his past, but now he has to learn to see the whole court, share the ball, bring the best out of his teammates. If a young athlete is expected to perform brilliantly in his first games within this new system, he will surely disappoint. He needs time to internalize the new skills before he will improve. The same can be said about a chess player adjusting to a new opening repertoire, a martial artist learning a new technique. Or a golfer, for example Tiger Woods, taking apart his swing in order to make a long-term improvement.

How can we incorporate these ideas into the real world? In certain competitive arenas -- our working lives, for example -- there are seldom weeks in which performance does not matter. Similarly, it is not so difficult to have a beginner's mind and to be willing to invest in loss when you are truly a beginner, but it is much harder to maintain that humility and openness to learning when people are watching and expecting you to perform. True enough. This was a huge problem for me in my chess career after the movie came out. Psychologically, I didn't give myself the room to invest in loss.

My response is that it is essential to have a liberating incremental approach that allows for times when you are not in a peak performance state. We must take responsibility for ourselves, and not expect the rest of the world to understand what it takes to become the best that we can become. Great ones are willing to get burned time and again as they sharpen their swords in the fire.

Consider Michael Jordan. It is common knowledge that Jordan made more last-minute shots to win the game for his team than any other player in the history of the NBA. What is not so well known, is that Jordan also missed more last-minute shots to lose the game for his team than any other player in the history of the game. What made him the greatest was not perfection, but a willingness to put himself on the line as a way of life. Did he suffer all those nights when he sent twenty thousand Bulls fans home heartbroken? Of course. But he was willing to look bad on the road to basketball immortality."

Josh Waitzkin
The Art of Learning P. 112-113

McCain again relying on Schopenhauer's 38 dishonest rhetorical tricks : trick #6

Talking Points Memo | Distorting the Distortions

Schopenhauer's 38 dishonest rhetorical tricks

#6: Diversion to another question, to a side issue, or by irrelevant objection

Thursday, October 16, 2008

McCain, Obama At Al Smith Dinner: Candidates Spar With Jokes

McCain, Obama At Al Smith Dinner: Candidates Spar With Jokes

Clive Thompson on How Twitter Creates a Social Sixth Sense (archiving magazine articles 7/2007)

Clive Thompson on How Twitter Creates a Social Sixth Sense:

"When I see that my friend Misha is 'waiting at Genius Bar to send my MacBook to the shop,' that's not much information. But when I get such granular updates every day for a month, I know a lot more about her. And when my four closest friends and worldmates send me dozens of updates a week for five months, I begin to develop an almost telepathic awareness of the people most important to me."

It's like proprioception, your body's ability to know where your limbs are. That subliminal sense of orientation is crucial for coordination: It keeps you from accidentally bumping into objects, and it makes possible amazing feats of balance and dexterity.

Twitter and other constant-contact media create social proprioception. They give a group of people a sense of itself, making possible weird, fascinating feats of coordination.

For example, when I meet Misha for lunch after not having seen her for a month, I already know the wireframe outline of her life: She was nervous about last week's big presentation, got stuck in a rare spring snowstorm, and became addicted to salt bagels. With Dodgeball, I never actually race out to meet a friend when they report their nearby location; I just note it as something to talk about the next time we meet.

It's almost like ESP, which can be incredibly useful when applied to your work life. You know who's overloaded — better not bug Amanda today — and who's on a roll. A buddy list isn't just a vehicle to chat with friends but a way to sense their presence. Are they available to talk? Have they been away? This awareness is crucial when colleagues are spread around the office, the country, or the world. Twitter substitutes for the glances and conversations we had before we became a nation of satellite employees.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

After Finance


I think Fareed Zakaria’s efforts to look on the bright side of the economic crisis probably go too far, but I certainly agree with this point:

The financial industry itself is likely to shrink, and that’s not a bad thing, either. It has ballooned dramatically in size. Curry points out that “30 percent of S&P 500 profits last year were earned by financial firms, and U.S. consumers were spending $800 billion more than they earned every year. As a result, most of our top math Ph.D.s were being pulled into nonproductive financial engineering instead of biotech research and fuel technology. Capital expenditures went into retail construction instead of critical infrastructure.” The crisis will stop the mis-allocation of human and financial resources and redirect them in more-productive ways. If some of the smart people now on Wall Street end up building better models of energy usage and efficiency, that would be a net gain for the economy.

Indeed. I mean, in principle taking a large proportion of quantitatively skilled people and having them apply their technical chops to the financial markets could be a good thing if doing so ushered in an exciting new era of genuinely superior financial wizardry. But instead, Keynes observation that “The game of professional investment is intolerably boring and over-exacting to anyone who is entirely exempt from the gambling instinct; whilst he who has it must pay to this propensity the appropriate toll” seems just as true today as it was two or eight decades ago. Meanwhile, smart scientists and engineers are still producing useful stuff.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Talking Points Memo | McCain Today

Talking Points Memo | Trying to Snuff Out the Flame

Franken Ad


.... The GOP's harsh negative ads could also be creating a backlash in a Midwestern state that's known for clean politics. Recently, the NRSC were caught twisting around footage of Franken doing a humorous impersonation of the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, in order to make Franken look manic and angry -- a move that drastically undercuts the credibility of all their other attacks.

Franken was quick to jump on this mistake, releasing a new one-minute TV ad yesterday, hammering the GOP on exactly this point:

Duration: 1:02

i'd be glad to


Watch as John McCain responds to Obama's taunt that McCain isn't raising Bill Ayers and other over-the-top attack lines in Obama presence -- or as Obama put it, "say it to my face":

& Frank Schaeffer, Baltimore Sun c/o tpm

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Howard Rheingold's Vlog: Vernacular Video

Howard Rheingold's Vlog

More Letterman

Letterman calls McCain's attempts to return 'squirrely' | Show Tracker | Los Angeles Times

Now here’s this thing with John McCain…you know a couple of weeks ago, John McCain was supposed to be on the show. And at the last minute he calls me up –- and I’ve got a lot of respect…you get a call from a senator –- you get a call from a guy who is a bona fide war hero –- all of a sudden, you know, your lips start to vibrate. So I said “Sure, whatever you want.” And he says, “Look, Dave, the economy is about to crater.” It’s about to “crater,” his word. “And I have to rush back to Washington to save the economy.” And so it made me feel puny. So I said, “OK, Senator, do what you have to do. Rush right back to Washington.”

And then I hung up and I felt like a patriot. I felt like I had done my part. And he was supposed to be on the show like an hour later. So now, we’re in a hole but everybody has to pull together in economic hardship times. So we all pull together and we get that guy with the big head from MSNBC. What’s his name? Keith Olbermann, yeah. Giant head. So he comes over. He’s good. He’s very good.

So now it turns out, not only did he not rush back to Washington, he spent the night here in New York City. He went on Katie Couric…he was on Conan…he was on Regis…he was everywhere. So now, in an attempt to save his campaign, they’re talking about coming back. You see what I’m saying? So we said, “Sure, we would love you to come back.” And even on the phone, he said, “I’ll bring….Sarah.”

But they’re being squirrely. Politicians can be squirrely. Because we have a date picked. We do this show every afternoon at 5:30. He wants to do the show at 5. So one –- we have no guarantee he’s going to show up, period. And we’ve kind of already rearranged our schedule on his behalf to save the economy, right? By getting that big-headed kid in here to talk about the politics. You know what I’m driving at? I just don’t know if we can trust him. And by the way, I don’t need to remind you that the road to the White House runs right through here."

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan (October 07, 2008) - It's Cloudy Outside

The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan (October 07, 2008) - It's Cloudy Outside

From a profile on CNN anchor Campbell Brown:

...when you have Candidate A saying the sky is blue, and Candidate B saying it’s a cloudy day, I look outside and I see, well, it’s a cloudy day. I should be able to tell my viewers, ‘Candidate A is wrong, Candidate B is right.’ And not have to say, ‘Well, you decide.’ Then it would be like I’m an idiot. And I’d be treating the audience like idiots.

Good for Brown. But how far have we sunk when the press reporting reality is an actual story?

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Increasing Viscosity of History

Keating Inquiry Appears Different, 17 Years Later | The Trail |

via TPM

In a conference call with reporters, attorney John Dowd was asked about a specific part of the Keating Five inquiry, the fact that Cindy McCain and her father had invested in a Keating strip mall.

"It was part of the inquiry, but it did not -- John was unconnected to that and unaware of it at the time, and did not participate in it," Dowd said.

But thanks to the quick research skills of Democratic partisans, here's John McCain's answer to an attorney who asked him about that very investment during the ethics committee hearings in 1991.

"Sometime in 1986, I was told by Mr. Delgado, who was Executive Vice President of my father-in-law's company, that they were going to invest in a shopping center and that the investment -- the project -- was being put together by a subsidiary of American Continental," McCain said. "He later told me that they -- that that had happened. And I had no interest in it and just noted in passing that this investment took place."

The attorney asking the question during the hearing? John Dowd.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Newsweek's Sam Harris on Sarah Palin and Elitism

Sam Harris on Sarah Palin and Elitism | Newsweek Politics: Campaign 2008 |

What is so unnerving about the candidacy of Sarah Palin is the degree to which she represents—and her supporters celebrate—the joyful marriage of confidence and ignorance. Watching her deny to Gibson that she had ever harbored the slightest doubt about her readiness to take command of the world's only superpower, one got the feeling that Palin would gladly assume any responsibility on earth:

"Governor Palin, are you ready at this moment to perform surgery on this child's brain?"

"Of course, Charlie. I have several boys of my own, and I'm an avid hunter."

"But governor, this is neurosurgery, and you have no training as a surgeon of any kind."

"That's just the point, Charlie. The American people want change in how we make medical decisions in this country. And when faced with a challenge, you cannot blink."

The prospects of a Palin administration are far more frightening, in fact, than those of a Palin Institute for Pediatric Neurosurgery. Ask yourself: how has "elitism" become a bad word in American politics? There is simply no other walk of life in which extraordinary talent and rigorous training are denigrated. We want elite pilots to fly our planes, elite troops to undertake our most critical missions, elite athletes to represent us in competition and elite scientists to devote the most productive years of their lives to curing our diseases. And yet, when it comes time to vest people with even greater responsibilities, we consider it a virtue to shun any and all standards of excellence. When it comes to choosing the people whose thoughts and actions will decide the fates of millions, then we suddenly want someone just like us, someone fit to have a beer with, someone down-to-earth—in fact, almost anyone, provided that he or she doesn't seem too intelligent or well educated.

I believe that with the nomination of Sarah Palin for the vice presidency, the silliness of our politics has finally put our nation at risk. The world is growing more complex—and dangerous—with each passing hour, and our position within it growing more precarious. Should she become president, Palin seems capable of enacting policies so detached from the common interests of humanity, and from empirical reality, as to unite the entire world against us. When asked why she is qualified to shoulder more responsibility than any person has held in human history, Palin cites her refusal to hesitate. "You can't blink," she told Gibson repeatedly, as though this were a primordial truth of wise governance. Let us hope that a President Palin would blink, again and again, while more thoughtful people decide the fate of civilization.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Can't Get Enough Palin: All the News

via TPM

YouTube - Palin: I Read All the News

stunt patrol

flash forward: 2008.11.11 Obama Didn't Budge.



David Letterman Monday continued to demonstrate to John McCain that lying to the late night host is never a good idea.

In his monologue, Letterman used a joke about the bailout to hit McCain for canceling last week, saying, "Senator John McCain is in favor of the bailout. He loves bailouts — he bailed out on me."

Later, in an interview with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Letterman continued going after McCain, mentioning that not only did McCain not get on a plane to Washington when he told Letterman he was, but he also stayed the night in New York to speak to the UN the following morning.

"The information I was dealing with apparently was not true," Letterman said.

"Well I don't care for that at all," Louis-Dreyfus said. "I think that that was very rude, very bad manners, and so in an effort to show my support for you and to set the universe straight, I also scheduled an interview for exactly this time right now — and I'm not showing up for it."

Louis-Dreyfus explained that the interview she was skipping was one with Katie Couric on the "CBS Evening News" — the same show McCain ditched Letterman to appear on — which allowed Letterman to show the internal CBS news feed with Couric alone at her desk, a move that surely won't make him any more friends at the network.



Flash Forward November 22, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

DOJ Report On U.S. Attorney Firings To Be Issued Monday


By Zachary Roth - September 26, 2008, 4:07PM

The Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General will on Monday morning release on its website its report into the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, according to David Iglesias, one of the former U.S. attorneys whose firing is at issue.

Iglesias told TPMmuckraker that he had been notified about the report's imminent release by Mark Masling, one of the investigators on the case. Iglesias said Masling told him that the report, which has been in the works since March 2007, is "very long" but wouldn't offer further details.

The probe, which centers on the firing of Iglesias and seven other U.S. attorneys, expanded to address allegations that a DOJ official, Monica Goodling, illegally took party affiliation into account in the hiring and firing federal prosecutors.

In July, Iglesias made some predictions about the reports conclusions, telling Harper's:

I expect them to conclude that there is sufficient evidence to show that former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and former Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty committed perjury in their statements before Congressional committees and investigators.
. . .. ... .. . .

TPM timeline

Thursday, September 25, 2008

crash and burn

The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

a reckless act by an impetuous and struggling politician

via TPM

"The Republican presidential nominee is hoping that his abrupt decision to suspend campaigning, seek a delay of Friday's debate with Democrat Barack Obama, and return to Washington to help prod negotiations over a financial rescue package will be seen as the kind of country-first, bipartisan leadership he believes Americans want.

What he risks, if things don't go as he hopes, is a judgment by voters that his move was a reckless act by an impetuous and struggling politician that hardened partisan lines in Washington at just the wrong moment and complicated efforts to deal with the biggest financial crisis in more than half a century."

In the wake of this afternoon's events it seems like

'a reckless act by an impetuous and struggling politician that hardened partisan lines in Washington at just the wrong moment and complicated efforts to deal with the biggest financial crisis in more than half a century,'

is an accurate description.

Talking Points Memo | TPMtv 9 24 2008

Talking Points Memo | TPMtv: The Dog Ate My Debate


Talking Points Memo | I Don't Know Much About Geography


the daily dish

A reader homes in on what we are learning about John McCain:

I'm poring back in memory, over all the touchstones of McCain's recent public life, and it's all starting to make sense: his "stands" on tobacco litigation, campaign finance, immigration, taxes, even (briefly) torture. All ultimately about a self-dramatist creating a drama at which he is the center.

All failed efforts, but one now sees that success or failure - or principle - was not at all the point, ever. Who cares about those things when you get to be at the center of a great drama?

So now, as with canceling the first night of his own convention (over a storm, incidentally, that inconvenienced no one), he is lurching from one dramatic centerpiece to the next, trying to upset the metrics of this election, trying to recapture that old magic. In a moment when calm is called for, he sets his hair afire.

I know these tendencies a little too well: I'm like McCain in some ways. But that's why I decided I wasn't cut out for electoral politics.

--Andrew Sullivan
. . .. ... ..... ........ oOo ........ ..... ... .. . .

Hero Complex

TPM Reader JB gets it ...

The current stunt is certainly at the top of the list, but I think there is another aspect of his rash decision to suspend the Republican National Convention that has not been commented on enough. It wasn't just that he truncated the convention. It was that his campaign leaked that he might give his acceptance speech by live feed from the disaster zone. As if he, John S. McCain III, somehow had to be there......doing what? Commandeering FEMA? This idea that McCain had to be there in the disaster zone instead of addressing his party in St. Paul is in some ways even more ridiculous than the notion that only he could save the Wall Street bailout and that the only way to do that is to "suspend" his campaign. (Although as you and John Aravosis point out, he has a funny way of suspending his campaign given that he's doing everything he was planning on doing anyway, except debating Obama.)

--Josh Marshall

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Official Google Blog: The democratization of data

Official Google Blog: The democratization of data

9/21/2008 03:57:00 PM
The Internet has had an enormous impact on people's lives around the world in the ten years since Google's founding. It has changed politics, entertainment, culture, business, health care, the environment and just about every other topic you can think of. Which got us to thinking, what's going to happen in the next ten years? How will this phenomenal technology evolve, how will we adapt, and (more importantly) how will it adapt to us? We asked ten of our top experts this very question, and during September (our 10th anniversary month) we are presenting their responses. As computer scientist Alan Kay has famously observed, the best way to predict the future is to invent it, so we will be doing our best to make good on our experts' words every day. - Karen Wickre and Alan Eagle, series editors

Information technology has enabled the "democratization of data:" information that once was available to only a select few is now available to everyone. This is particularly true for small businesses.

Fifteen years ago, only the big retailers could afford intelligent cash registers that tracked inventory and produced detailed daily reports. Nowadays cash registers are just PCs with a different user interface, and the smallest mom and pop retailer can track sales and inventory on a daily basis.

A decade ago, only the big multinational corporations could afford systems to allow for international calling, videoconferencing, and document sharing. Now startups with a handful of people can use voice over IP, video, wikis and Google Docs to share information. These technological advances have led to the rise of "micro multinationals" which can leverage creativity and talent across the globe. Even tiny companies can now have a worldwide reach.

These changes will have a profound effect on the global economy. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, "small businesses represent 99.7 percent of all firms, they create more than half of the private nonfarm gross domestic product, and they create 60 to 80 percent of the net new jobs." Information technology has already had a huge effect on the productivity of large businesses, but the benefits from "trickle down productivity" may be even more significant.

We think that Google can play a significant role in helping small businesses utilize the power of information technology. Our search technology provides answers to questions that only companies with large research libraries could answer decades ago. Our advertising programs allow small business to sell their wares to consumers around the world, as well as providing revenue opportunities for small publishers. Google Docs provides productivity tools for remote collaboration.

Google also provides data for business intelligence that only large companies were able to afford a few years ago. For example, Google Trends can help businesses track the popularity of specific queries, enabling them to identify new business opportunities. Website Optimizer allows businesses to test different versions of a website to see which one works best. Rather than waiting a month for a sales report, businesses can instantly learn of spikes in traffic to their website using Trends for Websites. All these services are available for free, allowing even the smallest businesses to make use of these tools.

Technology available to large firms has traditionally trickled down to smaller enterprises, making it relatively easy to forecast the sorts of capabilities will become available to small businesses in the future. We just have to ask: what can big companies do now that small companies can't currently afford?
  • Today, only the largest companies can afford to hire consultants and experts. In the future, even small companies will be able to purchase on-demand expertise and other services via the Internet.
  • Today, marketing intelligence are costly reports describing data many months or years old. In the future, small businesses will have access to real-time data on market conditions.
  • Today, only the largest companies can run expensive experiments with their advertising campaigns. In the future, even small business will be able to run carefully controlled marketing experiments that will enable them to better reach their potential customers.
  • Today, only large companies can sell products in many countries. Tomorrow, businesses of any size can use online services and outsourced logistics to buy and sell in every corner of the globe.
Google will be a part of this global economy, helping both large and small companies to grow their markets and manage their information. Exciting times are ahead!