Blogs

Apple Bricked my iPhone

| Fri Jul. 11, 2008 2:46 PM EDT

Tell you what, Apple. If you'll just release my iPhone 1.0 from whatever iTunes automatic software upgrade hell you've got its soul synced into today, you can keep your fancypants 3G, the GTD app I'm dying to try, and that phone-as-a-remote thing people seem to like so much.

I know your servers

are down. You're busy with all your new friends, I get it.

I just want my commuter podcasts back and the chance to make a phone call, OK?

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John McCain's Very Bad Week: A Cheat Sheet

| Fri Jul. 11, 2008 1:55 PM EDT

I was asked to appear on Hardball on Friday to discuss John McCain's week--that is, his very bad week. It's been tough to keep track of all that's gone wrong for him--all the self-inflicted wounds--in recent days. So I made a cheat sheet. Here it is.

* McCain adviser Phil Gramm remark: Americans who worry about the economy are "whiners" and there's no problem with the economy, just a "mental recession." McCain response: Gramm doesn't speak for me. But, um, that day Gramm was speaking for McCain, explaining McCain's economic policies to the Wall Street Journal editorial board.

* Called the fundamental funding mechanism of Social Security a "disgrace," essentially attacking the whole program.

* Released list of 300 economists who supposedly support his economic plan. Guess what? Not all of them do.

* Became visibly uncomfortable when asked whether health plans that cover Viagara should also cover birth control for women (after McCain surrogate/adviser Carly Fiorina raised this issue).

* Joked about killing Iranians with cigarette imports.

Bloggers on Blogging: Meh

| Fri Jul. 11, 2008 12:34 PM EDT

You can read David Appell's takedown of blogging here; I'm not going to comment on the merits of his arguments because the virtues and sins of blogging have been debated ad nauseum and because frankly I wouldn't get anything else done today. (Buy me a beer, though, and I won't shut up about it.) I will say that in the reactions to his post, you can see the ambivalence bloggers you probably know well often have about their own craft. See Yglesias ("I started writing this blog as a hobby; I thought it would be a fun thing to do. And I not only continue to enjoy writing it, but people pay me to write it. But the mere fact that I'm writing it doesn't make it a worthwhile thing to read, which is why the overwhelming majority of Americans have never read this blog and never will.") and Zengerle. Other bloggers I've talked to in my personal life have confessed the same thing.

I think readers can see this come through in my blogging from time to time as well. Recent quotes from me:

At the end of a post about Bush and McCain both wearing crocs: "I get to blog about presidential footwear. It really is a ridiculous thing."

At the end of a long post about whether Mitt Romney's fundraising prowess makes him worthy of consideration as McCain's VP: "Listen, if you made it through this much horse race speculation, I hope you at least took a moment to check out our debate on the future of America's Iran policy."

Which is to say, I hope if you've read me, you've also read something substantive today.

Stupid but probably necessary disclaimer: The blogosphere is filled with wonderful people and wonderful outlets that combine to do wonderful things. Don't get me wrong. But you can applaud the macro while lamenting the micro.

FEC Back to Work

| Fri Jul. 11, 2008 12:28 PM EDT

It ain't perfect, but it's better than nothing.

Adelson-Funded Freedom's Watch Donates to Pro-McCain Vets Group

| Fri Jul. 11, 2008 12:14 PM EDT

Pro-war advocacy group Freedom's Watch has made a "significant" contribution to support a planned $10 million ad campaign by the pro-McCain Vets for Freedom, National Journal's Peter Stone reports (sub. only):

The group [Vets for Freedom] expects to spend close to $10 million on a four month advertising and grassroots drive to make the case that the Bush administration's policies in Iraq and Afghanistan are making significant progress, says its chairman, Pete Hegseth. Vets for Freedom boasts some 25,000 members. The first part of the campaign is a two-week, $1.5 million ad buy this month in five battleground states. According to a GOP consultant familiar with the group, it received a "significant" donation from Freedom's Watch, which is largely funded by Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. Freedom's Watch has also helped the veterans group find large donors to bankroll its operations, according to the consultant.

Several members of the Vets for Freedom advisory board, among them ret. US Army Lt. Col. John Nagl and the Brookings Institution's Michael O'Hanlon, recently departed the group's advisory board, because of its partisan activities.

McCain Forgeting Just How Absent He Has Been in Senate

| Fri Jul. 11, 2008 12:00 PM EDT

John McCain is really pushing my buttons right now. He's slamming Obama for being weak on Iran's Revolutionary Guard by saying this:

"This is the same organization that I voted to condemn as a terrorist organization when an amendment was on the floor of the United States Senate. Senator Obama refused to vote."

Hahaha, Obama is totally screwed! He's soft on those crazy terrorist Iranians who want to kill American babies!

Oh, wait. John McCain missed that vote, too.

So (1) John McCain is soft on terror, and (2) he's too out-to-lunch to remember that he's soft on terror. What's worse?

And if you don't know McCain's history with vote-skipping (it's basically all he does), check out this and this.

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Sandra Day O'Connor: Back On The Bench!

| Fri Jul. 11, 2008 11:11 AM EDT

150px-O%27connor%2C_Sandra.jpgMaybe former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor just got sick of arguing with Scalia when she decided to quit her lifetime appointment in 2005. Clearly she didn't step aside because she didn't like being a judge! At 78, no one would knock O'Connor for spending more time on the links, but instead, last week, O'Connor made news in Boston when she not only heard an appeal in a federal money-laundering case, but wrote the opinion, too. Oddly enough, her ruling now allows federal prosecutors to proceed with a case against the only Republican running to fill a state legislative seat being vacated by a Democrat. (You can read more about the case here.) Even in retirement, it seems, O'Connor is redefining "judicial independence."

McCain Exploits the Steelers. Now the Man Has Gone Too Far

| Fri Jul. 11, 2008 10:32 AM EDT

steelers-tattoos.jpg One thing politicians should never, ever do is disrespect storied professional sports franchises. Too many people are too invested in teams like the Cubs, the Red Sox, the Red Wings, the Packers, etc. — using them for phony political purposes deeply offends people. See an example of a true sports fan at right.

Maybe I'm just projecting. Today, I'm offended. John McCain is using the Pittsburgh Steelers, the greatest professional sports franchise in American history, for his personal gain. Also, he's exploiting his record as a POW, but I'm offended less by that.

Congress Atwitter Over Members' Use of Social Networking, Video Sites

| Fri Jul. 11, 2008 10:09 AM EDT

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Government isn't exactly on the leading edge of the technological revolution. The GAO reported yesterday that several federal agencies still rely on "paper and file" systems to store emails. And John McCain, devoted Luddite that he is, has admitted he doesn't know how to use a computer. But even for members of Congress who do know a thing or two about technology, their ability to use it to communicate with constituents is restricted by arcane congressional rules—rules that are now at the center of a partisan slug fest on Capitol Hill.

Suppose you're a congressman, and you'd like to post a periodic video message on your website updating constituents on your activities. You film it, post it on YouTube, and embed a link on your homepage. It's that easy, right? Wrong. By including YouTube content on your page, you'd find yourself in violation of policies that pre-date the Internet by a couple hundred years.

An obscure 6-member, bipartisan panel called the Commission on Congressional Mailing Standards (also known as the "Franking Commission"), adhering to rules established in 1789, has long regulated congressional communications, making sure that federal dollars are used only for nonpartisan purposes and not for political proselytizing, which must instead come out of individual members' campaign funds—a reasonable enough idea in an earlier time, but one that ignores dramatic changes in the way people communicate in our Twitter age of hyperconnectivity. The regulations are in desperate need of revision, and on that point members of both parties agree. But the devil is in the details... and it's those details that have ignited a breathless exchange of amped-up rhetoric between Democrats and Republicans in recent weeks.

California's Top Democrat Blames Bush (or Somebody) for His Likely Indictment

| Thu Jul. 10, 2008 9:04 PM EDT

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If California state Senate boss Don Perata gets indicted on federal corruption charges, it's the president's fault. Never mind that the feds have been investigating Perata for nearly five years, and muckraking reporters have dug up a treasure trove of dubious deeds on the part of the state's second most powerful pol (after The Governator). But Perata isn't ready to go quietly. He and his pals at the state Democratic Party, which just a week ago added $250,000 to the embattled senator's legal defense fund (the fund has spent more than $1.9 million to date), now are suggesting the White House is persecuting Perata.

On July 9, the East Bay Express, a weekly in Perata's Oakland district (disclosure: I used to be its managing editor), revealed that the lengthy probe of Perata and his associates was coming to a close, and that the senator would likely be indicted soon. Responding to the report today, Perata told a local TV reporter, "My own belief is nobody goes after a ranking Democrat in California unless permission has been given from on high."