Tuesday, March 31, 2009

In Which I Ignore the Important News of the Day

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I know, I know. There are so many important stories tonight: Spanish Inquisition (Big Movie Man Voice - (tm TRMS AAR) "This time, it's on the right side of justice".), the two journalists being held in North Korea, Cheney, Cheney, Cheney, and that really cool lawyer dude from Gore v. Bush. But I am gonna write about "OCO." Because I am a word nerd.

So, assuming the WH sticks with Overseas Contingency Operation, we will be able to enjoy Rachel's "OCO" for months to come. However, according to Talking Points Memo, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell resists the new terminology.

"Q What's your preferred nomenclature?

MR. MORRELL: I don't really have one....

Q (Off mike) -- GWOT, global war on terror, lumps together an entire -- you know, the entire Muslim faith and an entire region. Do you see that as a concern?

MR. MORRELL: Well, I don't think there's anything in that term that identifies any particular faith or ethnicity. I mean, there are terrorists of all faiths, of all colors, of all races and ethnicities. And so perhaps a better -- another way to refer to it would be, you know, a campaign against extremists who wish to do us harm."

So. CAEWWTDUH. Mr. Morrell's previous post was at the Office of Catch Phrases and Memorable Acronyms.

Below: DorkFactor of 5.7

Sunday, March 29, 2009

In Which I Try To Come To SOME Understanding of Pakistan

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Using that clip from The Princess Bride was awesome. Also, Rachel didn't get slapped down by Brzezinski this time. Dude knows a lot, but he doesn't appreciate the fine art of snark.

What I understand of Pakistan is this: As to population, it is the fifth largest country in the world, with a population of over 1.5 billion. I know it shares a shadowy semi-border with Afghanistan. I know it really does have WMD. I know that Pakistan is, at least nominally, our ally. I know that I was stunned by the assassination of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007. That is about it. As it becomes clear that our war in Afghanistan cannot be separated from our relationship with Pakistan, I seek to learn a little bit more.

The tribal leader thought to be at least tangentially responsible for Bhutto's assassination is Baitullah Mahsud. He is a member of the Pashtun tribe. As you can see below, the Pashtun are in a combined Pakistan/Afghanistan region.

Since Bhutto's husband Asif Ali Zardari is the President of Pakistan, it's not hard to see why the Pakistani government might welcome some U.S. help to overcome the tribal militants on both sides of their Afghan border. Since Al-Qaeda has taken up residence in the Pashtun tribal area, primarily in Pakistan, the U.S. will get right on that.

I know I've just barely touched the surface, but that is all my tiny mind can handle on the subject right now. Please, feel free to correct the mistakes I have undoubtably made.

Friday, March 27, 2009

In Which I Read It So You Don't Have To

You know how when you were in school, and you had finished your ten page paper, but no matter how you resized the font, it was still only eight and a half pages? So then you went back and made "Mr. Johnson writes," into "Mr. Johnson, a renown novelist, formerly from New York City, currently residing in Southern California and a tenured professor of Creative Writing at Some California College, writes," and then your English professor crossed out every bit of fluff with a concise "unnecessary," and gave you a C-. The "Republican Road to Recovery" is kinda like that.

All of the RRtR is divided into three parts. (A little Caesar's Gallic Wars joke. Don't get to throw those in every day. Though I do try; I do try.) Part the first: Curb Spending!!! Republican solution? Don't spend. Part the second: Create Jobs and Lower Taxes!!! Republican solution? Lower taxes by reducing the tax burden. Alrighty then. Create jobs in energy, by getting rid of those pesky regulations regarding drilling and nuclear energy. Part the third: Control Debt!!! Republican solution? No bailouts, and "minimize government interference" in financial institutions because "the government's interventions to date have generated market uncertainty." (Aaaah! See previous posts!)

This little outline, if you can call three points an outline, is full of circular logic and very large, gratuitous graphics, and it's still only nineteen pages long. And that includes pretty slate blue back and front cover pages. If your aforementioned English professor forced you to rewrite and remove the fluff, your nineteen page paper would be down to about three pages. Maybe.

Please to enjoy this gratuitous palate cleanser:

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

In Which 'Conservadems' Make Us Feel Angry

So, you know the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 that has set everyone's hair on fire? It was not subject to filibuster! That's right, it required only a simple majority. The Democrats did not invoke the filibuster, presumably because the post-committee version of the bill was fine by them. Very fine; it passed 90-8-2. Granted, apparently only the prescient Sen. Dorgan (D-ND) was trying to wave off the legislation as dangerous, but it still would have been nice if the bill that helped to break America had struggled a bit.

At one point during her interview with Sen. Shaheen, Rachel's lips tighten and her eyebrow's arch in a "Really? You're going with this horseshit?" look. It's in response to Shaheen saying that the Conservadems are just trying to help things along by opposing the possible "budget reconciliation process" that allows for a simple majority in the Senate. Why? Because those two things are mutually exclusive.

So, I'm with Rachel; make the Republicans actually filibuster. Let me break it down for you: Senate Rule 22 allows for a filibuster by the minority party by simply indicating to the Senate Majority Leader (Harry Reid, we're looking at you!) that they intend to filibuster, requiring the legislation to garner a super-majority of 60 votes to pass. But the Senate Majority Leader (Harry! We're still looking at you!) can say no. "No, you may not 'symbolically filibuster,' we require a traditional filibuster." Bring on the phonebooks! Why not the Compleat Works of Wm. Shakespeare? How about something substantive, like the name of every freaking management person in every freaking bailed out financial giant?

Or, instead, how about the senators in the Conservative Democrats Caucus just do the jobs they have been elected to do, instead of hedging their bets?

And now, just because I want to: Rachel circa 2004.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

In Which We Get Two for One

After last night's heavy lifting re: the death penalty, we are going to my happy place: pretty ladies. We have the Maddow, but also, very happily, we have Air America WH correspondent, avid tweeter, and all around good sport Ana Marie Cox.

Anyone who follows her Twitter account @anamariecox knows her as bringer of funny and designer of drinking games. To anyone who doesn't follow her on Twitter: Why?

So Ana Marie and Rachel yak good-naturedly about grumpy old men with capital Rs after their names. Ana Marie is for, Rachel against. And something about some press conference earlier. (During press conference--me: Look! It's the back of Ana Marie's head! That is so cool! bff: Who? me: You are dead to me.)

Speaking of Twitter, Rachel tweeted today regarding a near miss in wardrobe choice: "Came close to wearing a bizarre superman-color-scheme outfit on Mr. Fallon's show -- averted at last minute by fortuitous glance in mirror."

Bloopers from Fallon:

Monday, March 23, 2009

In Which New Mexico Regains Its Soul

I won't lie. It's not easy to be glib while writing about the death penalty. But I gotta remain true to my convictions. Sorry. Just one, teeny, tiny, tiny bad pun before I get my mad on.

"We are all worth more than the worst thing we have ever done." Sr. Helen Prejean

I'll start by saying that I have been viscerally repulsed by capital punishment since I was eight years old. I watched "A Man For All Seasons" about Sir Thomas More on the old b & w tv. I didn't understand much about it, but I sure did catch that they executed him at the end. I was inconsolable for hours. I guess even my eight year old self understood how wrong it was for the state to kill. Because it is.

It never hurts to run these statistics out every once in a while just to remind us that the justice system fails many, many people: two out of three death penalty cases are overturned in appeal, African-Americans account for more than 40% of death row inmates, but only 12% of the population, and let's not forget the role that poverty and access to competent defense have.

I have been close to two capital punishment cases in my life, so please don't tell me I would feel differently if my family member or I were involved. I didn't. I don't.

So, yay New Mexico legislature and Gov. Richardson!

Well. That was bracing. Ok, shake it off. Step off the soap box.

So, did Rachel seem kinda...erm...uhh...orange tonight? Or is it just me and the lo-def tv machine?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

In Which Rachel Helps Me Get a Date

Oh dear God! The table of contents alone of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 is five pages long! Title I, Sec. 114 is titled "Prudential Safeguards." Yeah. So much for that. So, it turns out, the GLBA repealed part of the The Glass-Steagall Act of 1933. Hmmm...1933...that rings a bell...what was going on in 1933? Oh, wait a minute, I remember! The fucking total collapse of our economy! We don't need no stinkin' regulations. In May 2008, economist Paul Krugman called Phil Gramm (R-TX) the "father of the financial crisis".

Ok, so we can add the GSA of 1933 to the GLBA in our "make them swoon" arsenal. Next, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000. Progress! The table of contents is only three pages long. Ok, now this is getting interesting: The aforementioned Phil Gramm was a co-sponsor of the bill. According to a NYT article in 2008, Gramm is accountable for "The Enron Loophole," section of the CFMA, basically co-written by...wait for it...Enron lobbyists!

The more I dig into this shit, the more pissed off I become. However, I have many multi-syllabic lines for the bar. "As I'm sure you realize, Sen. Gramm was responsible for both the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, and the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which contains the "Enron Loophole" that allowed Enron executives to set that shit on fire. Can I buy you a drink?"

In a lighter mode, DorkFactor on this is 9.6 out of 10.