Sunday, January 31, 2010

Holden Caulfield & J.D. Salinger

A popular exercise among psychologists is to "examine" popular literary figures as if they were patients. The most popular of these figures tends to be Hamlet, especially among psychoanalysts. American literature -- largely because it's such a relatively recent phenomenon -- has yet to provide the world with many characters as complicated or profound. There are really only a handful of "American" fictional figures that deserve to be spoken of in the same breathe as some of the towering fictional characters in world literature. Huck Finn is one. Captain Ahab is another. Maybe Jay Gatsby and Willy Loman.

But Holden Caulfield is definitely on that list.*

Caulfield is an endlessly fascinating kid who has been diagnosed with seemingly every psychiatric malady known to contemporary man. He has post-traumatic stress disorder. He's bipolar. He suffers from clinical depression. He's suicidal. He's antisocial. He lacks empathy ... he empathizes too much. He's detached from reality, and on and on and on ...

It's really hard to think of another character as complex as Holden Caufield since the publication of Catcher in 1951. This is largely due to the influence of post-modernism in contemporary American literature. Catcher is a very inward-looking Cartesian novel: Holden thinks and feels, therefore Catcher exists. The most significant novels written since the 1980s (or possibly the 60s, depending on how one looks at it) have been outward looking. They revolve around characters who are better described as beings-in-the-world, rather than Cartesian consciousnesses. Their struggles are primarily about finding their places in the world or how the world affects them as people.

Now, if you're thinking to yourself, "Well, isn't that the entire point of Catcher?" the answer is yes. Salinger helped to build a very important bridge between pre-war modernism and post-modernism, whether he intended to do so or not. As a consequence American Lit may not see another character like Caulfield again for a very long time.

*I'm intentionally leaving out the works of William Faulkner here; just too complicated to get into right now.

Biggie Smalls & Miley Cyrus

This is why the internet exists:

[via RNB]

Friday, January 29, 2010

"Holden Caulfield, Attorney, Dies at 75"

Mr. Caulfield was a longtime board member of the Central Park Conservancy and a trustee of Pencey Preparatory School in Agerstown, Pa.

Holden Caulfield Goes to a Tea Party

... at Knott's Berry Farm, no less!

Holden Caulfield Delivers the State of the Union

GOOD evening, Madame Speaker. I'm always saying "Glad to've met you" to somebody I'm not at all glad I met. But I'm not going to tell you my whole goddam autobiography or anything. I'll just tell you about this madman stuff that happened to me last year.

It started with the economy. Bailout. There's a word I really hate. It's a phony. I could puke every time I hear it.

Holden Caulfield at Davos

We’re privileged to welcome to the World Economic Forum, the distinguished writer and thinker, Professor Holden Caulfield, 76-year-old president and founder of Rye Introspective LLP. Mr Caulfield has taken as his theme today “Goddam Money: It Always Ends Up Making You Blue as Hell”. Holden – the floor is yours.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The "Feingold Kneels before Thompson" Fallacy

There's a meme making the rounds today over a Rasmussen poll putting Russ Feingold 4 points down in a hypothetical race against Tommy Thompson. The operative word here is, of course, hypothetical seeing as Thompson is, once again, releasing one of his time honored trial balloons.

Thompson hasn't run in Wisconsin since 1998. His last campaign -- the 2007 GOP primaries -- brought us such highlights as:
  • Colin Powell would be Sec of State in my administration ... again.
  • ... which he subsequently also blamed on the flu.
  • ... which he blamed on being tired.
And all this happened before he left the race after the Iowa Straw Poll.

In case you haven't noticed the pattern, here it is: Thompson says something stupid, then in an attempt to fix the stupid comment, he goes and makes it worse. Not exactly a good habit to develop if you want to run a successful campaign.

What's all this mean? Thompson is not a homophobic, anti-Semitic, heard-of-hearing, incontinent coot who needs to be put to bed right after Pat Sajak ... but he is old. He's 68 years old and his last remotely competitive campaign was in 1986. Any campaign against Feingold is going to be close and Thompson hasn't demonstrated he has the ability to pull off winning a tight race. He may have name recognition still going for him, but Thompson is well beyond his prime.

As for Aaron Rodriguez's silly post calling Feingold "a run-of-the-mill Democrat who votes party line" (a-hem, Ben Bernanke confirmation ... and that's just what he did to piss off the party today) and the asinine assertion that Feingold's vote against the PATRIOT Act is somehow a knock against him is the stuff of opposition party press releases, not interesting commentary.

Behold, the 2nd Most Incompetent Break-in of the Week


Police were told the man, 27, entered the Lusty Lady through the front door backwards and entered stall No. 7. Police said he climbed through the ceiling panels and onto the glass ceiling above the dance floor.

A stripper "was startled when (the man's) legs came crashing through the glass panel ceiling above her," according to the police report. "She stated before the subject fell through she had heard what she thought was kicking or pounding above her head."

Yes, they do have a glass ceiling at the strip club.

[via SEM]

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Not Wiretapping, Just Stupidity

This is almost even more ridiculous than wiretapping:
[T]he men, led by conservative videomaker James O'Keefe, wanted to see how her local office staff would respond if the phones were inoperative...

That is, the official says, what led the four men to pull this stunt -- to see how the local staffers would react if the phones went out. Would the staff just laugh it off, or would they express great concern that local folks couldn't get through?

So they risked 10 years in Levenworth and a $250,000 fine to catch a bunch of staffers laughing.

Stellar judgment, brah...

[via M]

Irrational Exuberance

I had been wondering what happened to Kyle Maichle, whose shitty blog Northshore Exponent went dark several months ago after his cell phone somehow created a year's end awards post that wasn't exactly in the spirit of holiday season goodwill.

Turns out he's retreated to his twitter feed where he's plugging ideas like:
Will that be before or after Walker sells all the furniture in the Assembly chambers in a last ditch effort to solve the state's structural deficit?

Stan Bai of Gumbogate Wished a Merry Good Riddance from the Paper he Founded

Myself, nor anyone else affiliated with the Patriot supports or ever has had any contact with Mr. Dai [sic.]. We don't think bugging phones or posing as a pimp is any sort of intelligent, thoughtful way to further conservative thought. It is a cheap way to get your name in the papers. Nothing more... James O'Keefe is a publicity whore, and it seems Dai is an accomplice in said whoring. Dai has done nothing but soil our somewhat decent name here at the Patriot. We wish him a fair prosecution and a sentence that doesn't involve him becoming an extra on OZ.
He's also a world class asshole.

Copping a Plea?

There is quite a lot of speculation regarding the motives of Team O'Keefe, but I think another question is worth speculating on: who will talk first?

There's an oddly phrased graph in a FOX News report from the initial court appearance this afternoon:
Suspects Defendants James O'Keefe, Joseph Basel and Stan Dai all carried suitcases and declined comment. The fourth suspect is Robert Flanagan.
I guess that means that Flanagan wasn't carrying a suitcase (probably because he's the only one of the four that lives in the area). His father is also the acting U.S. Attorney for the western part of Louisiana, which does not have jurisdiction over the case. Nevertheless, don't be surprised if Robert Flanagan is the guy who turns state's evidence over to get a deal. His father is likely friendly with some of the law enforcement people in New Orleans and his own attorney has publicly called his client's actions "poor judgment" ... so if there's anyone likely to roll over, eat cheese, sing like a canary or [inset your jailhouse snitch cliche here] -- my money's on Flanagan.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Annals of Poor Book Reviews

[Linchpin by Seth Godin is] better than The World Is Flat (which I have not read)...
Then you're not exactly in a good position to make such a comparison, are you?

Felonious Stupidity

You've got to be kidding me ...

So when does this prick get his own radio show?

MORE: Jesus, these kids are mind-blowingly stupid:
When Flanagan and Basel entered the office, they told the staffer they were there to fix phone problems. At that time, the staffer, referred to only as Witness 1 in the affadavit, observed O'Keefe positioning his cell phone in his hand to videotape the operation. O'Keefe later admitted to agents that he recorded the event.
Of course they tapped themselves...

MORE STILL: Monumental stupidity:
According to the FBI, the four men could each face up to 10 years and a fine of $250,000 if they are convicted.

MORE YET: Epic stupidity on a truly grand scale:
UPDATE: One of the four arrested is 24-year-old Robert Flanagan, son of acting U.S. Attorney in western Louisiana, William J. Flanagan.
... which means this case is only going to get more complicated.

EVEN MORE: Yeah, this is now a big deal:

Located at 400 Poydras St. in downtown New Orleans -- half a block from Landrieu's office at 500 Poydras St. -- [the] Pelican [Institute] describes itself as a state policy think tank dedicated to advancing "sound policies based on the principles of free enterprise, individual liberty, and limited government."

James O'Keefe, the conservative filmmaker behind the ACORN stings who has been charged in the Landrieu case, was scheduled to give a talk at Pelican last Thursday on "Exposing Truth: Undercover Video, New Media and Creativity." Tickets were $35; the setting was the posh Plimsoll Club at the World Trade Center. An ad for the luncheon promised attendees insights into O'Keefe's special strain of new media genius:


Another of the charged men, Robert Flanagan, works for Pelican, his attorney told the Times-Picayune. Flanagan allegedly dressed up a telephone repairman to infiltrate Landrieu's office.

Or did work at the Pelican Institute...

[via M]

IT KEEPS COMING: Apparently, they've already confessed:

According to [F.B.I. Special Agent Steven] Rayes, O'Keefe and another man, Stan Dai, have admitted to federal agents that he helping plan, coordinate, and prepare for the attempted infiltration and wiretapping, and the two men who allegedly posed as telephone company workers have admitted to entering Landrieu's office under false pretenses.
MORE: One of these dipshits is potentially from Minnesota. Yet another banner day for College Republicans.

MORER: From Gawker:
The elder Flanagan ascended to the gig just one week ago after his Bush-appointed boss left office; none other than Sen. Mary Landrieu has submitted recommendations for his replacement to the White House.

And about O'Keefe:
[O]f course, Fox News, which was one of the outlets that pushed hardest to turn O'Keefe into a folk hero, is taking the position that this Landrieu office incident is a story "that probably needs a lot of context and a lot of looking into" before anyone jumps to conclusions. Unlike, say, videos of a white boy in garish pimp clothes which are prima facie evidence of ... something.
Ironic, no?

MOREST: Gawker has an update worth passing on:
UPDATE: And Obama has nominated Landrieu's recommendation, Stephanie Finley. But Sen. David Vitter has placed a hold on Finley's confirmation because he wants assurances from the White House that Jim Letten, the U.S. Attorney who will be overseeing Flanagan's prosecution, won't be replaced. In other words, Flanagan's dad only has a job because the job of the guy who's prosecuting his son is in potential jeopardy. Vitter wants Obama to re-nominate Letten, a step that Landrieu says is redundant seeing as how he already has the job. Louisiana politics.

MORE-EST-ER: Behold, the getaway man!
Dai was reportedly picked up by authorities Monday a few blocks away from Landrieu's office, sitting in a car with a listening device that could pick up transmissions.
The rest of this TPM article has a good primer on College conservative "journalism."

By the way, no matter how much pub O'Keefe got for his ACORN stunt, and no matter how many imitators he may have spawned, there's really just no substituting for actual the day-in-day-out reporting that TPM does.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Annals of Stupid Questions

Take it away, Tom McMahon:
So if John Demjanjuk is on trial for helping out the Nazis at the Sobibor Death Camp, why isn't Philip Bialowitz also on trial for helping out the Nazis at the Sobibor Death Camp?
Does he really need the difference between a Nazi prison guard and a Jewish prisoner coerced into forced labor explained to him?

The Oshkosh City Council Candidate with Experience Running Strip Clubs

Via Main Street Oshkosh we've learned that John Hinz is once again a candidate for city council. This is the same John Hinz who had a rather impressive showing during last year's council election.

Now let's get to the good part! I really don't know how to intro this, so I'm just going to lay it on you. Here's Hinz on his resume:
Full Disclosure:
I worked for nearly two years in the topless bar industry as a bouncer and manager, and I am not ashamed of it in the least.
This is on the guy's blog (which we love), by the way. Here's a screen shot:

This would make our city council chats awesome. If the guy can manage diva strippers and drunk degenerates, just imagine what he can do with the city budget!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Things You Will Regret Doing in the Future

Save-the-Date wedding videos.


My Brilliant Idea How a Third Party Can Benefit from the the Citizens United Decision

Starting a third party will never be easier now that corporations can pretty much spend whatever they want on political candidates -- the only problem is the most corporations just don't have enough money.

You heard me: corporations are poor. ExxonMobile only made $45 billion last year in profits. GE only hauled in $17 billion. Wal-mart, a mere $14 billion. If you think that's a lot of money, then kindly get back in your Maserati and go do whatever it is middle-class yokels do in their spare time.

I'm talking about real money here. Try this on for size: in 2008 Russia raised nearly $382 billion in revenue. You know what that kind of money says? It says "Eat a bag of dicks, BerkshireHathaway!" The same year China spent close to $60 billion just for a two week-long party. Do think they wouldn't drop that kind of jack on securing some friendly legislators in the U.S. of A.? That makes GoldmanSachs look like a piggy bank by comparison.

The point is this: foreign governments are now able to come to the United States, establish corporations, and use those corporations to back political candidates. Their "investors" will be little more than the treasuries of those foreign governments. Sure, there can't be any coordination (wink, wink), but a smart candidate will quickly figure out which side his bread is buttered. Thanks to the Citizens United ruling, there's nothing stopping this.

So foreign nationals can't vote in America, but they can basically decide elections here by funneling billions into various campaigns. Bravo!

So why put up with begging for money from pesky American voters and donors when your candidate and/or party can simply solicit a contribution -- again, within the amount designated by law (nudge, nudge) -- from the American representative of SinoCorp. or Lybia Inc. or Iran Enterprises?

Besides, in an era of Globalization there's really no such thing as an "American" corporation anymore. Bank of America has millions of foreign stock-holders, for example. And if that's the case for America, isn't it true of every country? And if it's true of every country, then isn't every corporation "American"?

Only one way to find out! A third party should get out there on the road with hat in hand to scoop up as much foreign dough as possible. After all, other countries know how to play the game in Washington, it's only a matter of time before they figure out it's far more effective to own a legislator than it is to pay for a lobbyist. May as well cash in while you can!

MORE: Eat it.

EVEN MORE: The Economist gets in on the action.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Inspired PR Move of the Day

Right here:

(click to enlarge)

The L.A. Lakers

Awesome drama.

Why Today's Supreme Court Ruling on Campaign Finance Reform Just Handed Russ Feingold Another Term in the Senate

The short answer: CFR is Feingold's wheelhouse. Nobody in the country flogs the topic better and no state in the country eats it up like Wisconsin. Wisco's been at CFR for well over 100 years now. We love it. We can't get enough of it.

This gives him another battle to fight and another reason for Wisconsin to send him back into the breach.

I never really had much doubt that Feingold was going to win re-election, which is one of the reasons it hasn't been discussed here, but today's ruling clinches it. The ruling gives Feingold's campaign a casus belli and it gives voters a non-economy (though, simultaneously, intimately economic) reason to be pissed at Washington. The TV spots almost write themselves.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Numbers (We Got 'Em!)

Barack Obama won 28 states (excluding DC) during the 2008 Presidential election and lost the other 22 (including Nebraska, which splits its electoral votes by congressional district and which primarily went to John McCain).

Of those 22 states, Democrats hold 13 Senate seats:

1 in Alaska
2 in Montana
2 in North Dakota
1 in South Dakota
1 in Nebraska
1 in Missouri
2 in Arkansas
1 in Louisiana
2 in West Virginia

Of the states that Obama won, Republicans now hold 8 Senate seats:

1 in Nevada
1 in Iowa
1 in Indiana
1 in Ohio
1 in Florida
1 in North Carolina
1 in New Hampshire
1 in Massachusetts

Do with this what you will.

This has to be a Prank (UPDATE: Good God, It's Not)

It's brilliant performance art, if it is.

The All-American Basketball Alliance announced in a news release Sunday evening that it intends to start its inaugural season in June and hopes Augusta will be one of 12 cities with a team.

"Only players that are natural born United States citizens with both parents of Caucasian race are eligible to play in the league," the statement said.


Don "Moose" Lewis, the commissioner of the AABA, said the reasoning behind the league's roster restrictions is not racism.

"There's nothing hatred about what we're doing," he said. "I don't hate anyone of color. But people of white, American-born citizens are in the minority now. Here's a league for white players to play fundamental basketball, which they like."

Lewis said he wants to emphasize fundamental basketball instead of "street-ball" played by "people of color." He pointed out recent incidents in the NBA, including Gilbert Arenas' indefinite suspension after bringing guns into the Washington Wizards locker room, as examples of fans' dissatisfaction with the way current professional sports are run.

"Would you want to go to the game and worry about a player flipping you off or attacking you in the stands or grabbing their crotch?" he said. "That's the culture today, and in a free country we should have the right to move ourselves in a better direction."

There's no AABA website and I so far only Augusta, GA has been offered a team -- I can only assume this is a dig at Augusta National Golf Course, which has a notorious racist past that the club has tried to shake in the last decade.

Someone call the Yes Men. I'll be flabbergasted if this isn't some kind of prank.

[via M]

MORE: Sweet Jesus, this is for real. Consider me flabbergasted.

The Craziest Equivocation You'll Read Today Regarding Scott Brown's Victory

Take it away Jedediah Springfield Josiah Cantrall:
My grandfather’s generation never forgot Kennedy’s was assassination. Mine will never forget Scott Brown and his victory.

MORE: Perhaps I was wrong...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Man, Nothing Gets By These Guys...

Ya think?
Such willingness on the part of higher learning institutions to set aside moral standards for the sake of athletic success may be a growing trend.

"Deuce Bigelow [is] funnier than Some Like It Hot"

Jack Lemon is rolling in his grave...

MORE: It occurs to me that, even though Big Hollywood exists to push a conservative agenda, it's managing editor is a post-modernist who rejects the idea of a filmic canon. This would be abhorrent to conservative literary theory and pretty much exposes John Nolte as a cranky hack who's just being a dick for the sake of being a dick.

Scott Brown = Doug Hoffman?

I can't help but get a strange feeling of deja vu looking at the Massachusetts senate race. I feel like we've all of these elements before: a special election, a national conservative base fired up over a candidate they had never heard of three weeks earlier and favorable late polling ... and last time it didn't really work out well for the GOP.

This time, however, there are enough substantial differences to give Republicans reason for hope. Brown is more polished than Hoffman, there is no third candidate wild card and Coakley is doing everything possible to hang herself. Seriously, the Curt Shilling comment makes John Kerry's "Lambert Field" flub look like the goddamn Landing at Inchon by comparison.

Regardless of what happens tomorrow, it would be ridiculous to say that the election has any significant meaning outside of Massachusetts. If Coakley' loses -- as is likely -- conservatives will no doubt call it a harbinger of things to come in 2010 and 2012, instead of blaming the loss on a bad candidate running a bad campaign. They will point out that Massachusetts is one of the most liberal states in the union and for the Bay State to be sending a Republican to Washington is extraordinary. They'll be right, but that doesn't turn Massachusetts or any other state from blue to red (or make Brown's chances for re-election any easier in 2012).

Brown has played his hand smartly. He's kept the national party at a distance, concentrated on local issues and hasn't made any unforced errors -- all of which plagued Hoffman in the last days of that wild congressional race last fall. Brown looks like he's going to pull this one out, but to draw the conclusion that Democrats everywhere are going to be running scared is foolish.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

More on the Houseboat

I must have missed this letter to the NW last week regarding the houseboat issue:
His boat was taking on water last night as the ice shifted and made a mess, so he told us he went to Wal-mart to get some sump-pumps to take care of the mess. Also a nice gentleman today stopped over and asked what he needs. Jeff said a chain saw. So the nice guy went out and bought him a nice brand new chain saw so he can cut the ice around his boat so the shoves wont curl him up against the dock.
None of this surprises us.

Jacobs' generator is also apparently broken.

I Often Wonder What the Point of Being a Film Critic is if One Doesn't Appreciate the Medium

When you're trying to be contrarian, it's best not to go full retard to the point that you look like you don't have the first fucking clue what you're talking about.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Golden Globes Live Chat?

I know it's short notice, but if there's any interest in doing another live chat during for the Golden Globes tomorrow, make it known in the comments.

I plan on nursing a wicked hangover for most of tomorrow but should be good to go by game time.

Satan's Open Letter to Pat Robertson

Very funny:
Dear Pat Robertson,

I know that you know that all press is good press, so I appreciate the shout-out. And you make God look like a big mean bully who kicks people when they are down, so I'm all over that action. But when you say that Haiti has made a pact with me, it is totally humiliating. I may be evil incarnate, but I'm no welcher. The way you put it, making a deal with me leaves folks desperate and impoverished.

Sure, in the afterlife, but when I strike bargains with people, they first get something here on earth -- glamour, beauty, talent, wealth, fame, glory, a golden fiddle. Those Haitians have nothing, and I mean nothing. And that was before the earthquake. Haven't you seen "Crossroads"? Or "Damn Yankees"? If I had a thing going with Haiti, there'd be lots of banks, skyscrapers, SUVs, exclusive night clubs, Botox -- that kind of thing. An 80 percent poverty rate is so not my style. Nothing against it -- I'm just saying: Not how I roll.

You're doing great work, Pat, and I don't want to clip your wings -- just, come on, you're making me look bad. And not the good kind of bad. Keep blaming God. That's working. But leave me out of it, please. Or we may need to renegotiate your own contract.

Best, Satan


Why are the Politics of Late Night Television so Fascinating?

That's not a snide rhetorical question -- I'd genuinely like to know the answer.

There's a strange and compelling sense of deja vu accompanying the Leno/Conan imbroglio, but there's got to be a deeper reason why America loves late night cat fights.

I have my theories and am just as hooked as everyone else -- but there's just gotta be an explanation, right?

MORE: This sucks:

Because all recurring characters like Pimpbot and The Masturbating Bear, and sketches like "In the Year 2000" are NBC's intellectual property, they'll be keeping them if and when they reach a settlement with Conan O'Brien and he moves on to another network. And by keeping them, we of course mean killing them. If NBC were a creature of Greek mythology, it would be Medea.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Holiday in the Sun

The Apostle Paul (Ryan)'s Epistle to the Hillsdalites

Go read it this weekend.

Very interesting historionic look at the history of Progressivism in America (from a conservative perspective, of course).

We might footnote it one day...

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Worst Human Being in America

(click on the image to expand)

Seriously, that's just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. This chick is unbelievable.

The Most Refreshing Outlook of the Day


Have You Seen this Man?

Osama bin Laden, as he might look today posing as a Westerner according to an FBI forensic artist using "age-progression imagery." [via S]

Annals of New Media

A cool story worth remembering.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Let Us Now Insult Worthless Men

Let's parse the flaming pile of dogshit editorial from today's Northwestern, shall we?

The editorial begins with what has to be one of the most oblivious ledes in the distinguished annals of local opinion journalism. So load your Glock with 12 rounds of Retarded, point that piece right at your dome and prepare to have your mind blown with a shitload of Stupid:
There is a well known and honored principle in management that recommends, "Praise in public, criticize in private."
Ahhh, folksy wisdom! The mother's milk of sage advice! The high octane jet fuel of the funny car that is common sense! Why bother getting that master's degree in management when there are clever phrases that fit snugly on a bumper sticker, right?

Moving on:
The rationale is that employees will perform better and learn from their mistakes if flaws are discussed with them behind closed doors. It makes sense. No one likes to have his or her shortcomings pounced on in front of colleagues or other supervisors. Further, it is a matter of common courtesy, an act of civil supervision, if you will.
Yes! That's what the cute little catch phrase mentioned in paragraph 1 means! Thank you for explaining that! I am, after all, exceedingly stupid and require such concepts to be elucidated, hopefully sooner rather than later as my attention span is also quite insignificant!

Now comes the best part:
It is a principle that Oshkosh Common Council member Bob Poeschl would do well to study.
Here's where the needle should scratch off the record in the mind of any alert reader. To a student of logic, this is what is called a paradox: the NW is advising Poeschl to do something, but in so doing is simultaneously ignoring the very advice they are giving!

Most people know this phenomenon by a different phrase: hypocrisy.

I know, it's enough to make one's head spin ... or explode. Choose your reaction accordingly.

I expect the NW to critique and scrutinize public officials. That's what newspapers do. But newspapers are, by their very nature, forms of mass communication. They operate in public. When they criticize people, they do so in public, not private.

This exposes the fundamental flaw in this morning's waste of broadsheet real estate: the utter lack of self-awareness that the NW editorial page is part of the public discussion. If it is going to critique the nature of that discussion it has an obligation to lead that critique by example. Logically consistencies are a good start.

It's late and I have suddenly lost my inclination to piss and moan about this nonsense any further, so let me just finish by making two points:

1.) I actually agree with the substance of the editorial. Tuesday could only charitably be considered as nothing close to a remotely acceptable performance on Poeschl's part -- but instead of questioning his ability to carry out his duties as a council member, I put down the paper sympathizing with him. The snotty and self-serving tone of the editorial, clearly written by someone who is nothing more than too clever by half completely undermined any substantive points addressed in the piece.

2.) The only thing more cynical, arrogant and condescending than the text of the piece itself are the additionally defensive, oblivious and asinine comments left by the two members of the NW's editorial staff in response to readers' remarks.

Get over yourselves. Oshkosh deserves much better.

Rebecca Kleefisch for Lieutenant Governor


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Jets' Derrelle Revis Loses the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award

Maybe it was because he didn't get enough media exposure playing for such a small market team?

City Council Live Chat!

Welcome to our second Oshkosh City Council Live Chat!

We'll be sure to add a link to the Council's agenda before the meeting starts. (MORE: The whole council packet, I believe, is included below for your reference.)

Anyone and everyone is encouraged to participate. For a few helpful hints to enhance your experience, just scroll down to the bottom of the post, below the iframe, and enjoy!

Helpful Hints:
  • It may take a little while for your first comment to appear in the chat. Don't be discouraged. Each new user has to be approved by the administrator (i.e. me) and this can take anywhere from a couple of seconds to a minute or two. After that, you're comments will appear immediately.
  • Every new user will be approved! If you haven't been, just keep trying (I'm only one person and may miss a comment or two, here or there).
  • You can submit comments via Twitter using the hashtag #ocat.
  • If you have any technical problems the best solution is to keep trying. If they persist, just leave a note in the Blogger comment section. I'll try to address it during the course of the chat.
Council Agenda 1-12-10

Monday, January 11, 2010

Monday Night Link Orgy

Smartest Thing Said Today


The Voluntary Voter Disenfranchisement Act

The Kanavas/Kramer Voluntary Voter ID bill seems, at best, kinda superfluous to me and potentially reckless, at worse. Here's what it does:
Under the bill, citizens concerned about having their vote stolen could enroll in a voluntary voter ID program. Here's how it would work: You go to your municipal clerk's office and opt-in to the program by signing a registration card and producing a photo ID. On Election Day, the poll worker will ask you for your photo ID before he or she hands you a ballot. Then you vote. It's that simple.
If a voter was so concerned about his or her vote being stolen, wouldn't it just be easier to go to the municipal clerk and early vote once the ballots came back from the printers? There seems to be an easier way to do this than to make voters go to up to two different locations to fill out one little ballot.

Second, is this even a problem? I looked around for newspaper accounts of someone not being allowed to vote in Wisconsin because someone had already voted using his or her name and couldn't find one account. Obviously, this doesn't mean that it hasn't happened, but it suggests it's not much more than an anomaly.

Lastly, and most importantly, this seems like a really easy way to disenfranchise other people from voting. If my name is John Smith and I register to vote in a precinct in Milwaukee that has many John Smiths, what are the odds that there will be some confusion -- legitimate or otherwise -- regarding which John Smiths, or even others people named Smith, are in the program and which aren't? It's conceivable that every Smith in a given voting district could suddenly be required to show photo ID at the polls just because one person signed up for the program. Since it's not uncommon for the extended families of minority and/or poor families, who share last names, to live in the same neighborhoods -- and by extension, the same voting precincts -- this could have an adverse effect on groups have a long history of having their votes suppressed by needlessly complicating the voting system and opening the door to a whole new kind of vote blocking. (If Smith seems like too generic an example, think about someone with the surname of Xiong.)

Proponents will argue that it's a voluntary program, but that's exactly what makes it so problematic. What's to prevent John Smith from registering for the program in dozens of precincts, but only voting in one? By not exiting the program in each of the precincts he doesn't vote in, he could be making life very difficult for potential namesakes in those other precincts. And that's just an extreme example of someone with clearly fraudulent intentions. There could be a multiplier effect from voters just being mobile during the course of their lives.

I'm sure the authors of the bill will play this off as a kind of insurance policy for voters, but in order to genuinely protect the vote the rules have to apply uniformly, otherwise voters with "special protections" will almost invariably have the opportunity to game the system.

Any Opinions on "The Daily Caller" Yet?

So far, color me impressed.

Looks more like the Daily Beast than HuffPo. The design is crisp and easy on the eyes -- though there are some places where it seems to get a little busy. I'm sure the site could use some tweaking here and there, but definitely a strong start. The "Ask Matt Labash" column has a lot of potential.

If You're Going to do a Good Deed Today ...

You may as well vote for Kat Clark.

The Packers Game

Losing sucks, but that was a great game.

Here's a good short piece in praise of Coach McCarthy's gutsy play-calling.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Reminder: City Council Live Chat on Tuesday

This is just a friendly reminder that we'll be hosting a live chat/blog during the Tuesday city council meeting. It'll be a perfect opportunity to saddle up to the keyboard, crack open that bottle of Old Crow you've been saving for a special occasion and tell you neighbors just how wrong they are.

Likely topics of conversation:
Deer and the shooting thereof
The Houseboat Saga
The upcoming spring elections
Today's Packer game
Bonus points will be awarded for any O'brien's liquor license jokes.

Fun starts at 5:45 PM.


Painful to read.

The Dismal Science

Should be polling.

Compare and contrast [via M].

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Contrarianism Fail

If you want a good laugh, check Sean Hackbarth's absurd attempt at music criticism, which can be summarized as follows:
Skid Row was, like, totally better than Nirvana.
It's a bold statement that Hackbarth does nothing to justify. My favorite part is when he blames "supposedly smart people" -- i.e. fags who have discerning taste -- for the over-exaltation of the seminal Seattle band ... 'cause real 'Mericans prefer the lyrical styling of Sebastian Bach, or something.

Thank God this lousy argument has already been made.

When are Wisconsin Conservative Bloggers Going to Finally Admonish Reince Priebus for the Way He's Captaining the U.S.S. Micheal Steele?

Part VI:

This is getting ridiculous.

Friday, January 8, 2010

City Council Meeting Live Blogging: Next Tuesday!

Since we haven't done one of these in a while we'll be hosting a live blog during the next council proceedings. Next Tuesday seems to be setting itself up as a ripe opportunity for grandstanding over the recent CIA black op deer cull, possible crazy citizen comments over the the Houseboat, and the usual bitching and moaning over snow removal following a big storm.

It should be civic discourse at its absolute worst -- and a ton of fun!

We know the council members get wifi from their bench at City Hall, so think of this as the only way to provide instant feedback to your local elected officials!

Everyone's welcome to participate. Tell your friends. You can watch on TV or listen on the radio and vent online. Last time we did this we had close to 12 people participate. Let's see if we can bring that number up to 20.

Tuesday, January 12th. Pregame starts at 5:45 PM. Show starts at 6:00. Participants are encouraged to drink heavily in the privacy of their own homes.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

"I am the Knave, man; Knave in nature as in name."

The Big Lebowski -- as written by William Shakespeare.

Fucking brilliant.

[via JC]

“You are my son and you came from my balls and you should have known better.”

Now that's gangsta!

When are Wisconsin Conservative Bloggers Going to Finally Admonish Reince Priebus for the Way He's Captaining the U.S.S. Micheal Steele?

Part V:
Lawrence Bathgate, who served a record three times as RNC finance chairman during and after the Reagan era, told The Times, "No, I haven't given to the RNC this cycle."

"I will help the Republican Governors Association and the National Republican Congressional Committee and National Republican Senatorial Committee this year. I've made commitments," Mr. Bathgate said.

This guy should be a gimme...

Why are Conservative Young Professionals of Milwaukee Inviting Paranoid Nutjobs to their Functions?

The Conservative Young Professionals of Milwaukee have apparently given conspiracy theorist and overall whack-job "Capt. Karl" a "special invite" to their get-together at an upcoming Admirals game:
On Friday night February 12th there is a Conservative Young Professionals (CYP) event celebrating President Lincoln's Birthday. They have tickets for an Admirals Hocky Game that they will be attending the evening before this NCCS seminar. The CYP are a group of great Conservative persons that especially young upcoming businessmen/women and professionals ought to rub elbows with and gain important contacts. I will be attending both as I have a special invite by the CYP to attend the celebration at The Bradley Center. If you want to do this we could book a block of rooms together. RSVP soon for both events!
Capt. Karl is the guy who recently had child protective services take custody of his children because his wife, who then moved into a "domestic violence services" facility, thought his lunatic conspiracy theories made him a "a threat to all of mankind" (his words, not mine).

Was Phil Zimmermann not available?

Widgerson Still Thinks Galileo Was Persecuted by other Scientists

He wasn't. He was persecuted by the church.

In fact, Galileo was building off of the ideas of contemporary scientists.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Good Idea/Bad Idea

Good Idea: Paul Ryan '12

He's got just as much gravitas and national security experience as any of the other usual GOP suspects and it could only enhance his profile. A good showing in the primary could lead to a VP nod. There's far more upside for him than down.

Bad Idea: Ed Schultz '10

That just sounds desperate.

Good Idea: Salazar '10

The bolo tie/cowboy hat combo would be missed in DC.

Funky Idea: Secretary of the Interior Arnold Schwarzenegger

Watched "The Last Action Hero" the other day: totally underrated movie.

Kick-ass Idea: a Lost amusement park

Like, ten times better than the Lord of the Flies boarding school I sent my kids to.

2010's "Ugly Christmas Sweater Party"?

The Jersey Shore Party.

In related news, I expect magical things from this web site.

When are Wisconsin Conservative Bloggers Going to Finally Admonish Reince Priebus for the Way He's Captaining the U.S.S. Micheal Steele?

Part IV:
A 2009 spending spree has left the Republican National Committee (RNC) with its worst election-year cash flow this decade.
Only one person is responsible for that...

[via M]

Charlie Sykes Thinks the "Kick Ass" Trailer is so Culturally Bankrupt that just Everyone has to see it!

We've been over this before.

It's always a blast watching right wing bloviators do Hollywood publicists' jobs for them.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The NW's Short-Sighted Editorial on the Houseboat

I'm just getting around to reading the NW's editorial on the Houseboat matter. For the most part its an jumbled mess with more hedges than an English shrubbery maze that arrives at the absolutely wrong conclusion:
The Final Thought: It would be appropriate to allow Jeff Jacobs to remain on his houseboat for the winter given the hardships he has endured.
Let me state this another way:
The Final Thought: It would be appropriate to allow the homeless to remain homeless for the winter given the hardships they have endured.
That just sounds absurd.

I agree that Mr. Jacobs circumstances are extraordinary and that they deserve considerations, but the "considerations" the NW are advocating for are potentially fatal and don't help Jacobs out of his situation at all. The paper is essentially asking the city to turn a blind eye to the problem, asking readers to channel any sympathy for the man into a general sense of apathy.

Mr. Jacobs primary source of heat is a wood-burning pot-belly stove and his primary source of electricity is a generator that runs on combustible fuel, not exactly a safe combination. He has no long-term lavatory, which throws the sanitation of the boat into question. The ice could crush the boat at any moment. If this were a free standing structure on dry land, which the boat has essentially become now that it is immobile, it would be classified "unsuitable for habitation."

What more in terms of "health and sanitary issues" does the NW need?

Houseboats aren't made for the winter. There's a reason why people put them in marinas for the season. The ice on the Fox River doesn't care if Mr. Jacobs is rich or poor, if he's a nice guy or an insufferable jerk. Neither does the open flame in his bot-belly stove, nor the combustible fuel that runs his generator. These things only care about the laws of thermodynamics.

The only "consideration" the the city and the NW should take into account is the safety issue. After that, there's really not much else to discuss.

Monday, January 4, 2010

"Letting fatties roam the site is a direct threat to our business model and the very concept for which was founded."

Obviously, the greatest thing ever said in a press release.

Houseboat Endgame

It's heartwarming to see the outpouring of support that's going Jeff Jacobs' way in the wake of the NW story on his situation, but there are a few things that are really starting to make me worry that this story will not end well.

First, as mentioned earlier, is the safety issue. This, above and beyond anything else, should be giving more people cause for concern. Unfortunately, it's something that no seems to be discussing.

Two: even though Mr. Jacobs has insisted he doesn't want any handouts, the people who have been visiting his houseboat have been providing him with just that. In one sense this is a very good charitable impulse, but in another far more important sense, it's a really just as superficial as giving spare change to a homeless person on the street of any major American city.

Let me make this perfectly clear: this is not an attempt to demean the impulse to help another human being out in a time of hardship, I just think there are smarter and more effective ways of helping folks in need out. Giving Mr. Jacobs enough wood to keep him warm at night is certainly a noble thing to do, but connecting him with a potential employer and landlord is infinitely more productive.
This point is intimately related to the third point: Mr. Jacobs, despite his own protestations, is becoming the face of hard times in the area, and not in a good way. Jacobs has continuously stressed that he is just one of many people who are experiencing some personal and economic pain at the moment, yet no one has given a second thought to anyone else who might be going through similar troubles (at least publicly). There's a very natural tendency to help one individual and absolve oneself from any further obligation to help others. Given the complete absence of any effort to help alleviate the suffering of anyone else, that seems to be what's happening here.

Finally, the city has to ask itself the big question: What is an acceptable end to this situation? If, as some suggest, the city just leaves Mr. Jacobs alone, what then? Say the houseboat lasts in the ice through the winter -- does Mr. Jacobs just pack up and head out to the Mississippi where he will presumably remain homeless and jobless? And if so, is that an optimal solution to the larger problem?

Of course not.
What if the boat doesn't make it through the winter? Then Mr. Jacobs is stuck here and we're back to square one. Or worse.

Again -- and I don't know how much more strenuously I can say this -- I'm pulling for Jacobs, but the longer he's out there on the ice, the worse my feeling gets about this whole situation. Right now it seems that everyone from anonymous commenters on the NW web site to the Mayor (who has purportedly promised that no citations will be given to Jacobs) are reacting without thinking about the larger issues at play here.

One way or one another, there's something disconcerting about this whole mess that leads me to believe this will not end well for either Mr. Jacobs or the city. I'd prefer to be proven wrong, but I just don't sense a positive way out of this mess.

[pics via]

There are More Important Things in Life

This story is tragic and sad, but completely expected given the blogger's body of work. The worst part about it is reading this:
From what I have been able to ascertain in the very few minutes that my wife and I spoke after the court hearing, it appears that my wife doesn’t want to understand constitutional or economic matters and has a great desire to just ignore everything that is happening to our lives, country, rights, economy, The Constitution and the rule of law and go on with life like nothing of this matters. Apparently her desire for wanting to ignore all of these things was far greater than I comprehended. And that appears to be the rub between us right now, even though I felt we were getting along and loved one another very well over the last many recent months. I didn’t realize that she was so furious “inside” about me being so involved in our State and National patriot groups, Constitutional education efforts, studies in the science of governance and economics. It is apparent that she suggested to HHS that I am some sort of a threat to all of mankind because of my great concern for our country, economy and our liberty. It seems ironic that she would suggest that I am a danger to those for whose rights and finances and freedom I fight for in my volunteered efforts and civic duty to God and my country, my fellow countrymen and even the future of our own children.

(emphasis added)
Those are the ramblings of someone who has crossed so far over the line of paranoia that he is just completely oblivious to those closest to him. If you read both posts carefully, you may start to recognize some of the tics of an addict, someone whose life is so consumed by one specific thing that nothing else matters.

I hope he finds help.

James T Harris Thinks the "Kick Ass" Trailer is so Culturally Bankrupt that just Everyone has to see it!

Weak, dude, really goddamn weak.

We can't wait to see the movie.

Culture War Colonialism

Is there really any other name for it?
For three days, according to participants and audio recordings, thousands of Ugandans, including police officers, teachers and national politicians, listened raptly to the Americans, who were presented as experts on homosexuality. The visitors discussed how to make gay people straight, how gay men often sodomized teenage boys and how “the gay movement is an evil institution” whose goal is “to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.”

One month after the conference, a previously unknown Ugandan politician, who boasts of having evangelical friends in the American government, introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, which threatens to hang homosexuals, and, as a result, has put Uganda on a collision course with Western nations.
[via M]

More on the Houseboat Saga

NBC26 opened it's post-Sunday Night Football broadcast with Jeff Jacobs' story. Not much new ground was broken about Jacobs' situation, but the story does give a stronger impression that, no matter how many people might be rooting for him, Jacobs probably won't be out on his boat for too much longer.

Unfortunately, the more I think about this, the more I have to side with the city.

Everyone has probably fantasized about living on a boat at some point in their lives and even though Jacobs' current situation is hardly ideal, there is something romantic, quixotic, even heroic about how he seems determined to make the best out of a bad situation. But there are legitimate safety issues here that just can't be ignored.

No one can say just how well the boat will hold up against the ice when the river becomes completely frozen since no boats have wintered on that stretch of the River in living memory. There's a very real danger that the ice could crush the hull and threaten to sink the boat. The fact that he's living on the boat exponentially increases the odds that he could be in the boat (and potentially sleeping) if or when that happens. It's like living in a building that could fall down: that building would be condemned, not open for occupation. I'm sure the boat is seaworthy, but that really doesn't matter all that much in the winter.

Then there's the issue of personal security. I'm sure the notion that he could be kind of a night watchman over a park with an image problem is well-intentioned, but it's ultimately unrealistic. I doubt his presence would deter crime so much as it would make him a target of it. And -- let's face it -- we're not talking about violent crime when we're talking about Rainbow Park, we're talking about cruising. Just because he might not be doing anyone else harm doesn't mean others won't want to do him harm (though you'd have to be the stupidest criminal in the world to go after this guy right now).

Even though he's not troubling anyone, Jacobs is diverting public safety resources from their otherwise normal courses of operation. The city needs to check up on the guy in some form or another: just imagine what the city -- both the residents and any government entities -- would feel like if something were happen to him during the winter? I'm afraid the odds of an adverse incident are just too unconscionably high to just "leave him alone."

Jacobs appears determined to get back on his feet again and there seems to be no shortage of people willing to help him out, so why not pool that energy into finding a long term solution. Giving him firewood is undoubtedly a kind gesture, but only gets him through the night. Why not help him seek short or long-term employment so that he can make it through the season living in more safe and comfortable surroundings? Jacobs has business experience and is clearly a resourceful person ... if he can't find at least temporary work given his recent exposure, then I'm afraid the economy is much worse than we all thought.

I'm rooting for Jacobs and want him to get back on his feet again, but there are serious safety considerations that need to be taken into account that force me to believe this is not a good idea. As much as I would like this to just be a case of "a guy minding his own business," it just isn't, and it unfortunately really can't be no matter how hard Jacobs tries.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Damn, Only a Few More Weeks of Football

Packers 33
Arizona 7

Jets 37
Bengals 0

Philly 0
Dallas 24

Three blow-outs and three games we all get to see again next week!

Honestly, I don't know how the NFL has to feel about that. I'm sure when they were coming up with the schedules last season that they went through the formula of whom-plays-whom, then determined dates to maximize potential play-off implication impact, but it seems to have back fired.

There were a ton of blow-outs today: Indy 7, Buffalo 30; CHI 37, DET 23; Vikes 44, Giants 7; KC 44, Denver 24; and San Fran 28, St. Louis 6.


The scary thing is that for as wow-less as Week 17 was, it was still leaps and bounds better than this years BCS bowl season. Some of these games have been brutal to watch -- and I'm not just talking about the Maaco Las Vegas Bowl, thus far the actual BCS bowls have sucked balls as well. The Rose, Cotton, and Sugar bowls all made me want to kill myself they were so dull.

Honestly, this year has been the best argument for a play-off in college football than any in recent memory. There's little point in watching marginal teams play each other in marginal games if this is a result.

But if You Want to Lower Your Handicap, Let Buddha be Your Guide!

It's a zen thing, I guess.

Can We Have a Playoff Now, Please? Bowl

UConn: 20
South Carolina: 7
"Both teams combined for 458 yards of offense and 519 yards of punting."

I was Promised "Funny"

Can anyone explain to me how tripe like this is "funny" or "good humor," as it's purported to be by the author?

Where are the jokes? How is it satire? Just because it's dripping with self-indulgent sarcasm doesn't mean it's automatically comic ...

I understand that there's some kind of conflict between Oshkosh Corp. and neighborhood residents, but since the details of that disagreement have been entirely abandoned in favor of making the piece "funny," I'd like to know where the funny is.

"Enough father issues to make a Girls Gone Wild Criterion Collection"

"Lost" is the new "Star Wars" -- a fanboy's argument.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Dude Trapped in his House Boat

If you haven't read Jeff Jacobs' extremely touching story in the NW yet, go do so.

Judging by the reaction in the comments this story seems to be bringing out the best in people. Jacobs appears to have had a steady stream of visitors offering help today, bringing everything from food and firewood to carbon monoxide alarms.

I just have a few "meta" points to add to the story:

First, Jacobs seems to have been hit hard by both a crappy economy and catastrophic health issues sans insurance. It's an all too familiar tale these days; there are many people in Jacobs' boat (as it were).

Secondly, the story's incredible details really just write themselves. What's a better metaphor for all the personal and financial hardship this guy's been through than his boat being iced in for the winter, rendering him an island of solitude in a cold world? That's some pretty archetypal stuff we're dealing with here and likely one of the reasons the story seems to have resonated with so many people.

Which brings us to one last point: this is an example of the rare local news story that actually inspires action, not just empty and poorly-informed comments on a web site. There are thousands of people in Winnebago County who are hurting right now in a variety of different ways. Maybe it's time the NW got around to telling their stories too? You know, like in the kind of ongoing series that wins awards? I know people who are going through rough times don't typically issue press releases, but it's well worth the effort to go out and find them.

Just a thought.

Seriously: more of this, please.

Chart of the Decade

WaPo article here. [via M]

"Police officers do a lot for the community, but they don’t necessarily 'give' it when they are on duty. "

I'd like to see Owen say that to these folks' families.

Friday, January 1, 2010