Blogs

Dep't of Surrogate Follies: Oops, McCain = Bush

| Sun Jul. 13, 2008 3:50 PM EDT

When one of your surrogates can't think of a single difference between you and the President on economic issues, you're in serious trouble.

Did Sanford have a momentary lapse? Sure. But if Blitzer had given Sanford 20 minutes, he wouldn't have found a substantive difference between McCain and Bush other than McCain's lower tolerance for pork, which, because earmark spending is a relatively small portion of the federal budget, is more a good government issue than an economic one. On taxes, trade, CEO salaries, and so on, McCain and Bush are nearly identical. Other McCain surrogates have admitted as much.

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McCain's NYT Interview: Federalism, Live and In the Flesh

| Sat Jul. 12, 2008 8:01 PM EDT

John McCain is famous for chatting with reporters for hours on end, but everyday folks (and even reporters from small magazines, ahem) are rarely privy to those conversations. Two reporters from the New York Times sat down with McCain and put his answers to their questions up online. They are basically unedited, and it's actually rather nice to get an unvarnished look at a candidate's thoughts.

Now, the blogosphere will almost certainly focus on McCain's further admissions of technological incompetence. In the interview, McCain says, "I am learning to get online myself" and "I've never felt the particular need to e-mail."

But what I want to focus on is a moment of principle. McCain is asked about gay marriage and about teaching evolution in schools — he gets the first question "right" (that is, right from a progressive perspective) and gets the second question "wrong." The reason? He takes a federalist approach to both. Here's the transcript:

Comrade Obama? The Right's "Wealth Redistribution" Straw Man

| Fri Jul. 11, 2008 8:44 PM EDT

2235654836_b6af984889.jpg In attempting to persuade voters that Obama is not American enough to be president, the right has renewed charges that he is a socialist in sheep's clothing. Their newest claim that an Obama presidency would usher in an era of "wealth redistribution" seems a thinly veiled attempt to associate Obama with history's socialist revolutionaries and communist dictators.

But before you start worrying that Obama will take your money and impose socialist redistribution mandates, it's worth taking a moment to scrutinize the basis for the right's hackneyed accusations.

New Music: Ratatat - LP3

| Fri Jul. 11, 2008 6:57 PM EDT

mojo-photo-ratatatlp3.jpgMaybe you've been watching TV lately and you've seen the Rhapsody commercial where there are a bunch of balloons floating around that magically make logos and stuff, and there's an intriguing instrumental track underneath it, funky like '70s soul, but quirky like '00s electro, and there's also a tiger roar in it, nonsensically? Well, that's "Wildcat" by New York duo Ratatat, and it's a pretty great little tune from their 2006 album Classics. (See completely ridiculous fan-made video below). That track hinted at a new path for American electronic music, experimental but organic, an intriguing answer to European austerity. On their just released new album, the unfortunately-titled LP3, they seem to be on hold, turning again to the same disco-rock beats for an album that's sometimes intriguing but often fades into the background.

Lead Shot Kills Long After The Bullet Stops

| Fri Jul. 11, 2008 6:44 PM EDT

Here's another reason cameras are better in the wilderness than rifles or rods.

Millions of pounds of lead used in hunting, fishing, and shooting sports wind up lost in the great outdoors every year, reports the USGS. Except they're not really lost. Only lost to the human hunters and fishers.

They are certainly not lost to the countless individuals of numerous species who eat the spent lead shot, the wayward bullets, the lost fishing sinkers, and the snagged the tackle. They are decidedly not lost to the wildlife that eats the dead and wounded animals who were shot, or who ate the lead.

xray.jpg

Radiograph of immature bald eagle containing numerous lead shot in its digestive tract (Jacobson et al. 1977). (courtesy of Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association)

According to a new technical review by The Wildlife Society, upland hunting fields could receive as much as 400,000 shots per acre. Individual shooting ranges might receive 23 tons of lead shot and bullets yearly. All outdoor shooting ranges in the US combined could receive more than 80,000 tons of lead annually.

Meanwhile, roughly 4,382 tons of lead fishing sinkers are sold in the US every year. No one knows how much of that is lost.

The report notes: Lead is a metal with no known beneficial role in biological systems.

Slang White People Like, Part 2: The Bro-ening

| Fri Jul. 11, 2008 6:40 PM EDT

mojo-photo-bro.jpgDebra seems to be taking a lot of guff from commenters over her piece on the possibly-ironic use of "holler" in an e-mail from a random publishing house, but I have to say I'm 100 percent behind her.

Seriously, who says "holler" unless they're singing along with Missy Elliott's "Get Ur Freak On?" Even then you'd better be pretty drunk.

Esquire GQ (like I can tell those magazines apart) recently tried to pin down the best terms guys can call other guys, and since the ironic use of out-of-date buddy terms is a topic I consider myself a bit of a connoisseur of, cap'n, I found their shakedown fascinating. It focuses on the current overuse of the term "bro" amongst, well, those doofy white guys with baseball caps and Linkin Park CDs who wish they were your bro but are not your bro.

Apparently first noted in a 1968 edition of Current Slang, the word has come a long way from its original expression of black unity, and now GQ calls "bro" the "most grating, embarrassing word a guy can use":

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US Strike Killed 47 in Afghan Wedding Party, Investigation Says

| Fri Jul. 11, 2008 5:26 PM EDT

An investigation released today by the Afghanistan goverment concludes that US forces killed 47 civilians attending a wedding on July 6 near Deh Bala in Nangarhar province. Thirty-nine of the deceased were women and children, who were walking the bride to the groom's village, as is traditional. The bride was among those killed, said the nine-man investigative team, who relied on eye-witness and relatives' accounts. "They were all civilians and had no links with Taliban or al Qaeda," the head of the investigation told Agence France Presse.

Internet Time Waster of the Day: Idee Multicolr

| Fri Jul. 11, 2008 5:16 PM EDT

mojo-photo-multicolr2.jpgVia the also-pretty-addictive Apartment Therapy, it's a crazy little internet widget that allows you to select a set of colors (up to ten) and then happily goes off and searches Flickr's "Interesting Photos" pool for pictures that prominently feature your selected hue or hues. First, pick orange, and watch the pumpkins, oranges, and fireworks line up. Then click on blue, and suddenly there are orange-brick buildings against blue skies, and spray-tanned babes in front of turquoise oceans. What's it good for? Well, I suppose you could click on your living room's color scheme and then print out a couple photographs for a do-it-yourself wall hanging, or something, but mostly it's just hypnotic, grid after grid of scenes whose hilariously diverse subjects are united by tint. Ooh, orange, black and pink gets you lots of nice sunsets. There goes my whole afternoon. Have your secretary hold your calls and click here.

Subprime: The Miami Case Study

| Fri Jul. 11, 2008 4:44 PM EDT

According to RealtyTrac, a California-based firm that monitors foreclosures for
investors, a foreclosure notice was delivered last month to one in every 501 U.S. households.

Yet the housing crisis goes even deeper than those numbers suggest. While the burst of the housing-market bubble is nearly always pegged to the surge in risky subprime mortgages made to under-resourced borrowers over the course of the last decade, the bust is also affecting people who never borrowed a dime.

In Miami, the foreclosure epidemic encompasses not only single-family homes, but apartment buildings as well. And with a flood of people losing their homes now entering the rental market, rents are climbing.

Tomorrow, Floridians can join Laura Flanders and the Media Consortium to talk more about these issues at Live From Main Street in Miami's Lyric Theater: "Magic City, Hard Times: How is Miami Facing the Economic Crisis and Working
Toward a Sustainable Future?"

—Adele M. Stan

Adele M. Stan is executive
editor for The Media Consortium, a network of progressive media
organizations, including Mother Jones.

Zoos Squabble Over Polar Bear Profits

| Fri Jul. 11, 2008 4:25 PM EDT

knut.jpg

Last year, Knut the polar bear cub became an international celebrity after animal rights activists said he should be allowed to die rather than raised by humans. The Berlin Zoo disagreed, and their adorable cub quickly became an environmental icon as well as the Zoo's most popular exhibit, bringing $8 million in revenues. Now the Neumuenster Zoo is trying to get a piece of the profits, saying that because it owns Knut's father, it kind of own Knut too. Neumuenster is looking into court action, as so far the Berlin Zoo has refused to give in.

As for Knut, he's suffering now that the intense attention he used to get is tapering off. When the Berlin Zoo was closed for a few days this winter, he howled for hours. He reportedly cries when there aren't enough people near his enclosure and pines for his former keeper, Thomas Dorflein, who hand-raised him, crying when he picks up Dorflein's scent. One of Knut's keepers told Der Spiegel that the bear "has something of an identity crisis. He doesn't know that he's a polar bear." The keeper, Markus Robke, says that Knut should be moved to someplace more secluded, away from people and away from those who raised him. "As long as he's with us, he will always regard Thomas Dorflein as his father."

Image courtesy Berlin Zoo