Wolraich: Obama at the Gates of... Gates
Dr. C: In Praise of Writing Binges
Maiello: Gatsby Doesn't Grate
Dear readers and contributors,
First off, thank you for being part of the dagblog community. Or rather, thank you for being the dagblog community, for there is no community without you. Your eloquent writing, cogent arguments, passionate beliefs, and sharp wit has made dagblog a unique and (in our opinion) wonderful space in the blogosphere.
In any passionate community, there are bound to be strong ideological and personal differences. Our aim as moderators has been to protect and preserve the political debates while curbing the personal conflicts. Because so many of you have worked hard to respect these goals, we think that we have succeeded better than other comparable websites. [Read more]
Wait! Don't be misled by the title. I'm not asking for your opinion about whether to vote for Obama. Whatever it is, I promise that we've heard it many times before.
Instead, I'm asking the question that Obama and his political staff will be asking themselves as they head into the 2012 campaign: What reasons will they offer voters to re-elect Obama?
The standard incumbent strategy is the old "stay the course" bromide. Focus on describing your accomplishments and vaguely promise more of the same.
But that won't work for Obama. If there is one thing that all Americans can agree on, it's that the country is way the hell off-course. Staying on our current trajectory would be a very bad idea. [Read more]
Putting aside anxieties over the economy and fury at Republicans, Democrats, the media, and whomever else makes us hopping mad, let's play a little game of political strategy.
While House Speaker John Boehner's formidable skin-tone and Michele Bachmann's spine-chilling folksiness has driven many a Democrat to gibber in fear, it's helpful to remember that Republican power in Washington is not exactly overwhelming.
Republicans lead the House of Representatives by 37 votes. That's not a lot. From 2007 to 2009, Democrats led the House by 78 votes and controlled the Senate to boot but somehow failed to accomplish anything of note or even to dominate the national discussion. [Read more]
You'll notice a pattern in all stories: There are three kinds of characters: heroes, villains and there but for the grace of God go I.
-- Glenn Beck
Glenn Beck started strong. After joining Fox News on the eve of President Obama's inauguration, he quickly built an audience of two million viewers per night, particularly impressive for a 5:00 p.m. timeslot. The New York Times heralded Fox News's "mad, apocalyptic, tearful rising star." Time magazine featured Beck's protruding tongue on its cover. Television audiences rated him their favorite TV personality after Oprah Winfrey. [Read more]
I am sad to report that dagblog has been forced to dismiss a member of our team after years of faithful service.
You may not know TinyMCE by name, but she has served has our Rich Text Editor since 2008 when dagblog was founded. Every word that you have ever typed at dag has been tenderly processed and formatted by the indefatigable Tiny.
True, she sometimes garbled the font and impulsively inserted extra lines between paragraphs. And yes, her spellchecker never worked very well. But she did her job every day without complaint and kept dagblog humming. [Read more]
President enters stage left, beaming loftily at the Chorus.
House Speaker enters right, arms crossed and scowling.
President silently opens his hands as if presenting a gift. Speaker shakes his head angrily.
President furrows his brow, points at his watch, and wags his finger. Speaker shakes his fist in the air and grimaces fiercely.
Chorus members cover open mouths in alarm and look nervously at their watches.
* * *
It makes for good theater, and the audience is enthralled. Will Democrats cave to Republican demands for stiff budgets cuts as a condition for raising the debt ceiling? Will Republicans compromise on taxes? Are they actually crazy enough to drive the United States into bankruptcy?
Given the breathless media coverage of the drama, you can be forgiven for thinking that you're witnessing a genuine conflict with serious economic consequences. In fact, what is you're watching is a charade--a dumb show, as it was called in Shakespeare's time.
While researching Blowing Smoke, I subscribed to a newsletter from the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, a non-profit organization "whose purpose it is to become the first-in-mind champion of Christian religious liberty, domestically and internationally, and a national clearing house and first line of response to anti-Christian defamation, bigotry, and discrimination."
Ever since, the CADC has pursued its purpose of being first-in-mind and first-line by emailing me urgents alerts about satanic efforts to defame Christianity with subject lines like "MSNBC mocks Christ while ABC tramples Christian Women," "2,000 Reasons Why the Bible is True," and "URGENT: Radical Homosexual Bill Awaits Vote in NY Senate." [Read more]
There is much to be said for vanishing. Short escapes from the frenzied tumult of modern life help to calibrate the soul and maintain perspective.
I've learned that proper escape requires more than disconnecting electronic devices and traveling to faraway lands. Though people may not follow you on your journey, your thoughts are more tenacious. Anxieties, memories, hopes, and fears stow away in your crowded cranium, accompanying you across the globe like irritating travel companions.
But not under the water.
A new study reveals that US life expectancy is falling even further behind other industrialized countries. As of 2007, the life expectancy of Americans is 75.6 for men and 80.8 for women, which puts us in 37th place internationally. On average, Americans live three years less than citizens in the top ten longest-lived countries, and those countries pull further ahead of us every year. [Read more]
Herman Cain discusses Islam
Political experts across the nation burbled approvingly after Monday's Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire. The candidates surpassed expectations by maintaining human form and refraining from howling, salivating excessively, or biting moderator John King on the leg.
CNN commentator Wolf Frisker remarked, "I was sure that Tim Pawlenty would lunge for Mitt Romney's shanks at least once, but he just sniffed around the anus a little bit, like he was checking him out or something." [Read more]
This much we know. Over Memorial Day weekend, someone used U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner's Twitter account to publish a photo of an underwear-clad male crotch apparently in a sexually excited state.
The New York Democrat denies posting the photo, claiming that his Twitter account was hacked, but he has deflected persistent inquiries into whether he is the owner of the offending (apparent) genitalia.
"But Congressman, you would remember if you were to take a photograph of yourself like that," insisted MSNBC's Luke Russert in one interview. In another, CNN's Wolf Blitzer pressed, "You would know if this is your underpants."
As journalists clamor for Weiner to come clean about his underpants, I was struck by an intriguing, if less titillating, question: What does Weiner usually tweet?
Saturday, May 21, 2011: Judgment Day
At least that's what Christian radio broadcaster Harold Camping has predicted. According to Camping, the Rapture will occur at 9pm ET / 6pm PT. For those who are rusty on their Biblical prophesies, that means that all the good Christians will rise directly to Heaven, body and all. The rest of us schmucks will stick around on Earth for a few months to suffer the horrible tribulations that precede the Apocalypse--earthquakes, plagues, war, and the finale of The Glenn Beck Show.
Word to the wise: Don't bluff when your cards are on the table.
(I learned that the hard way.)
Apparently, House Speaker John Boehner has yet to learn the lesson. On Monday, he truculently pledged, "Without significant spending cuts and the way we spend Americans' money, there will be no debt limit increase."
But there will be a debt limit increase. John Boehner knows it. Barack Obama knows it. Everybody knows it.
Last week, I called the Republicans' budget "a dead plan walking." I was referring in particular to the proposal to "reform" Medicare by replacing direct payments with vouchers for private insurance. Most Americans are not pleased by this proposal, which they correctly regard as a benefits cuts, and many of them have said so angrily at town hall meetings across the country.
In the wake of Osama Bin Laden's death, pictures of his corpse have become the most sought after photographs since Britney Spears sans panties.
I'm pleased to announce that dagblog's crack paparazzi ninja-spy, William K. Wolfrum, with his trustee sidekick, his own ego, have succeeded where all others have failed. I hereby present to you the real dead Osama photos:
In town hall meetings being held across the country during Congress' two-week recess, American citizens are filling the ears of Republican legislators with objections to the party's budget plan, particularly proposed changes to Medicare that would replace direct coverage with subsidies for private insurance.
Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pennsylvania, quoted in a New York Times article Tuesday, tried to play down the objections, but his explanation inadvertently exposed the flaw in his party's political strategy.
"I am not sensing the general public is angered over Medicare reform," he insisted. "When I explain that people over 55 are not affected there is almost a sigh of relief." [Read more]
A few years ago, a friend of mine suggested that it would be nice to have a reference tool to find stuff related to other stuff. Type a movie title, and get the actors. Type a state, and get the capitol. Type in golf, and get a list of famous golfers.
So I came up with an idea for a new kind of reference tool for free association. It just connects words with words--no order or structure of any kind. It employs crowd-sourcing to create the associations on the assumption that whatever you associate, plenty of other people do to. My hope was it would enable people to quickly find that word or bit of information they're looking for without having to do any searching or categorizing. [Read more]
Let the commentary begin...
Israel supporters rejoiced on Friday after international jurist Richard Goldstone recanted some conclusions from his investigation into Israel's military actions during the Gaza war two years ago.
"If I had known then what I know now," Goldstone wrote in a Washington Post op-ed, "The Goldstone Report would have been a different document."
The Israeli government and its supporters have long denounced the Goldstone Report as deeply flawed and complain that it has tarnished Israel's reputation. On Sunday, in fact, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans "to reverse and minimize the great damage that has been done by this campaign of denigration against the state of Israel."
But while Israel's supporters and detractors alike often take the importance of the Goldstone Report for granted, it's worth considering the extent of the "great damage" done to the state of Israel since the report was released and questioning what such investigations, accusations and condemnations actually accomplish.