May 3, 2006


Posted in Comedy, Criticism, Politics at 2:44 pm by antonello

I love Stephen Colbert. Have for many years, even since dare-I-mention Exit 57. He has a fantastic delivery, excellent characterization and can be very very clever.

His performance this weekend at the Press Correspondents' dinner was a tour de force. Many disagree how much laughter it may or may not have stimulated in their laugh generators (quite a lot in mine, but that really is, besides the point). Some have mentioned that it wasn't any material that was that new, and that very well may be true.  But that ain't the rub: Colbert was playing his character, his O'Reillian blowhard, in the belly of the beast, quite literally steps from W and an often self-congratulatory press.  

The irony was from being there, playing the shill with every bit of shrill, in the home of the shrill shill.  Max Sawicky compared it to A Modest Proposal and I think that gets at it.

Chris Lehmann has a good piece in the Observer about it too.  Were the people there mortally offended?  I agree with Lehmann here:

The President’s turn at Rotarian-style “look-at-silly-me” spoofery was comforting to most of the grandees on hand, to be sure. But that didn’t mean they took mortal offense at Mr. Colbert, as has been widely alleged by the flying wedge of blog-style commentators on the left.

Any attempt to take apart the evening joke for joke, I think, misses a grander point. His conclusions, which are better than mine and helped me focus my ideas:

In a 60 Minutes profile that aired Sunday night, Mr. Colbert explained to Morley Safer that he doesn’t allow his kids to see his eponymous Comedy Central show. “Kids can’t understand irony or sarcasm, and I don’t want them to perceive me as insincere. Because one night I’ll be putting them to bed and I’ll say, ‘I love you, honey.’ And they’ll say, ‘I get it. Very dry, Dad. That’s good stuff.’”

And that may have been Mr. Colbert’s biggest problem. The media kids he was babysitting that night were not even remotely equipped to calibrate irony, intentional or otherwise.

Kudos to Lehmann for the most Musto aside I've seen this week

(I, for one, found neither act [ed. Colbert or Bush impersonator] of the evening uproarious: Who, I must plaintively ask in the high ardor of pop-cult disenfranchisement, speaks for me?)


April 21, 2006

This so isn’t going to work

Posted in Politics, Technology at 4:08 pm by antonello

Web site operators posting sexually explicit information must place official government warning labels on their pages or risk being imprisoned for up to five years, the Bush administration proposed Thursday.

from cnet via 

Seriously?  This is going to enforceable, enforced and do anything to attack the problem it is supposed to address?  Brother, please. 

April 20, 2006

Mark Schmitt gets there first again!

Posted in Politics at 1:26 pm by antonello

More McCain talk.  Authentic? Fake? Conservative? Liberal

Mark Schmitt gets it just right:

Politicians are aggregations of their instincts, values, and political circumstances and conditions, the pressures put on them and the niches that are available… 

…"[A]uthenticity" is an important political tool in its own right. And voters are malleable as well, supporting a political candidate they view as genuine, even if the candidate’s views differ greatly from their own, as I discovered in New Hampshire in 2000 where some number of independent, socially liberal voters chose to vote for the hot McCain in the Republican primary over Bill Bradley in the Democratic. Likewise, pro-death penalty voters supported Tim Kaine in Virginia because they felt that his opposition was authentically rooted in his religious belief — it actually strengthened his sense of authenticity. But as McCain demonstrates, authenticity is itself a pose, one he adopted and has now discarded.

McCain’s latest move is necessary, if he wants to be president, but it’s awfully daring. Live by the cult of authenticity, perish by the cult of authenticity. 

Via Washington Monthly, where Kevin Drum also has an important 2 cents: 

But Mark is right about the "cult of authenticity." That's been McCain's real bread and butter, and it's tiresome. McCain is no more a straight talker than George Bush, but both are terrific at manipulating our supposedly cynical and world weary media into thinking they're straight talkers. My fervent wish is that McCain's recent pandering to Jerry Falwell will at least disabuse them of this notion and finally earn him the coverage he deserves: that of an ambitious politician willing to work with whatever interest groups it takes to get him elected president. That's the real McCain.

April 19, 2006

McClennan out

Posted in Politics at 12:33 pm by antonello

The incest runs wild in this administration.  First promoting Portman, Kaplan taking over for Rove as policy director.  Ditching McClellan feels something like shooting the messenger.  The issue for the administration, and has been for a long time, their message and morever their execution.  

April 17, 2006

More of the same

Posted in Politics at 3:34 pm by antonello

via The Washington Note, Field & Stream protests Gail Norton's latest:

The Bush Administration announced last week that the nation is no longer losing wetlands–as long as you consider golf course water hazards to be wetlands.


Thursday (March 30), Interior Secretary Gale Norton called a press conference to claim our long nightmare of wetlands loss had finally come to an end due to unprecedented gains since 1997 (click hear to read the report she cites). However, she then admitted much of that gain has been in artificially created ponds, such as golf course water hazards and farm impoundments.

The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom

Posted in Politics, Technology at 11:05 am by antonello

Via Matthew Yglesias: this looks very interesting. Must get to it. It seems like it may be my sweet spot of interest. From the introduction:

The Emergence of the Networked Information Economy

First, advanced economies have shifted from an economy based on production of physical goods and services (e.g., automobiles and textiles, mining and construction) to an economy centered on the production of information goods and services (e.g., cinema and software, legal representation and financial planning).

Second, advanced economies have shifted from a communications environment relies on an expensive centralized communicator that broadcasts to a wide audience (e.g., radio, television) to an environment that relies on a multitude of cheap processors with high computing capacity that are interconnected with one another (i.e., the Internet).

These two shifts make it possible to lessen the market’s influence over political values. The second shift allows decentralized, non-market production. The first shift means that this new form of production will play a central, rather than periphery role, in advanced economies.

Read the rest of this entry »

April 14, 2006

More Judas

Posted in Politics at 3:10 pm by antonello

From Bruce Reed on slate today:

But the most interesting 2,000-year-old news this past week was National Geographic's release of the Gospel of Judas, a Coptic text from an early Christian sect convinced that far from betraying Jesus, Judas Iscariot acted with His consent. In the modern political vernacular, Judas' followers maintained that telling the Romans about Jesus was what the Bush administration might call an authorized release of declassified intelligence.

April 13, 2006


Posted in Ha, Politics at 11:10 am by antonello

from digby on Klein's new book:

Klein criticizing the Democratic consultants is like Charlie Manson criticizing Richard Dahmer as far as I'm concerned. 

April 12, 2006

How Much Bull is McCain Moosin’?

Posted in Politics at 3:27 pm by antonello

Characterizing McCain as a Bull Moose Progressive is reasonable enough. The Moose himself would agree with this assessment. McCain is a fiscal conservative, and a military hawk. Social progressive is a more thorny issue.  He cannily heads up policies which are applauded in the media and are broadly popular (No global warming!  No torture! No steroids).  More than being socially progressive what McCain is politically aware.  Since his fall in South Carolina, he has built a persona of a pragmatic politician above the partisan fray.  Issues he adopts his own are unassailable and moderate because he has endorsed them.  

McCain has learned from his primary adversary and his advisors.  He realizes that it is less important what he does as how he is perceived.  He is exceedingly territorial with his powerbroker position, his moderate throne as evidenced by his reaction to Obama’s overtures several months ago.  As I write this, I am noticing that it smells an awful lot like Mark Schmitt’s article in American Prospect, so you should probably read that instead.  Mark Schmitt always seems to get there first.

April 11, 2006

Klein’s forthcoming book about Kerry

Posted in Politics at 2:11 pm by antonello

via Tapped and Greg Sargent, the bubbling toiling double trouble of what went wrong with Kerry 04.  From Klein's article:

Perhaps the worst moment came with the Bush Administration torture scandal: How to respond to Abu Ghraib? Hold a focus group. But the civilians who volunteered for an Arkansas focus group were conflicted; ultimately, they believed the Bush Administration should do whatever was necessary to extract information from the "terrorists." The consultants were unanimous in their recommendation to the candidate: Don't talk about it. Kerry had entered American politics in the early 1970s, protesting the Vietnam War, including the atrocities committed by his fellow soldiers in Vietnam. But he followed his consultants' advice, never once mentioning Abu Ghraib — or the Justice Department memo that "broadened" accepted interrogation techniques — in his acceptance speech or, remarkably, in his three debates with Bush.

Bob Shrum not surprisingly refutes the accusations.  I don't usually see eye to eye with Klein, but I have to agree with him here.  Klein told Sargent : "And, of course, the proof is on the record: Kerry did not mention Abu Ghraib — or, equally important, the Bush Justice Department Torture Memo — in either his acceptance speech or the three debates.  I like and respect Bob [Shrum], but I find it odd that he was willing to talk to you and not to me, despite repeated requests during the writing of this book." 

Kerry shied away from directly attacking W's biggest failures again and again.  Not mentioning Bush at all during the convention and Abu Ghraib are examples of a campaign paralyzed with not fucking up so much they fucked up.  

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