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Friday Funnies



* By the end of the party, he’s got every damn kid doing the “pull my finger” trick.

* Clown car must be started with breathalyzer device.

* Props for his “disappearing” trick: a moving van and your wide-screen TV.

* Scares the holy hell outta the kids during the “Severed Limb” trick.

* Prefaces each trick with, “here’s a little number I learned in prison”

* Not exactly the Peewee Herman impression you were expecting.

* Wears a T-Shirt that says, “Drug-free since last week!”

* More interested in squirting seltzer into his Scotch than into his pants.

* Those huge ears look too darn life-like, and the entire act consists of reading jokes off a TelePrompter.

* All the balloon animals are ribbed and lubricated.

This is an open thread.

No cover charge but there’s a two drink minimum – tell Rico what you want.

The Great Astroturf War of 2009


The traditional August recess during non-election years is usually like going cold turkey for political junkies (and bloggers are political junkies.)  These dog days of summer drag by at an excruciatingly slooooow pace, with Congress and the President out of Washington and nothing happening to talk about.

Not this year.

This summer may even turn out to be more fun than last year’s, since Palinpalooza didn’t start until September and that was when the real fun started.  This year it looks like we’re gonna see mob vs. mob action at townhall events across the nation.

If you cruise the Kool-aid blogs you’ll see that all the trouble is being caused by tea-bagging birthers who are being led by Rush Limburger and Glenn Beck.  If you visit the winger blogs you’ll learn that Comrade Obama has deployed union goons to prevent good, patriotic Americans from exercising their constitutional rights.

Grab some popcorn and let’s take a closer look at a few showdowns:

Continue reading

Friday Morning at The Confluence


Thank goodness it’s Friday! I’m through teaching for a few weeks, and I hope to spend at least a few days lying around reading detective novels. I have to appear at a university function this morning, but then I’m free, free, free as a bird! Well sort of….anyway I’ll be able to hang around TC more often when I’m not reading trashy crime lit. But enough about me. What’s happening in the news?

This will be a brief and somewhat eclectic collection of news that I found interesting over the past few days. Feel free to add your own favorite stories of the week (or brand new breaking stories) in the comments.


First, yesterday was the 64th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. Daniel Ellsberg has a piece about it in The Nation.

It was a hot August day in Detroit. I was standing on a street corner downtown, looking at the front page of The Detroit News in a news rack. I remember a streetcar rattling by on the tracks as I read the headline: A single American bomb had destroyed a Japanese city. My first thought was that I knew exactly what that bomb was. It was the U-235 bomb we had discussed in school and written papers about, the previous fall.

I thought: “We got it first. And we used it. On a city.”

I had a sense of dread, a feeling that something very ominous for humanity had just happened. A feeling, new to me as an American, at 14, that my country might have made a terrible mistake. I was glad when the war ended nine days later, but it didn’t make me think that my first reaction on Aug. 6 was wrong.

The Nation also reports that:

After Labor Day, Daniel Ellsberg’s web site, http://www.ellsberg.net, and some other sites including Truthdig, will start regular installments of his insider’s memoir of the nuclear era–The American Doomsday Machine–an Internet book reflecting his earlier classified work and forty years of research.

Erik Prince

To me the most interesting story of the past few days is the one by Jeremy Scahill on accusations in court papers that Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater (now renamed Xe) was involved in murders.

A former Blackwater employee and an ex-US Marine who has worked as a security operative for the company have made a series of explosive allegations in sworn statements filed on August 3 in federal court in Virginia. The two men claim that the company’s owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. The former employee also alleges that Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe,” and that Prince’s companies “encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life.”

The London Times has a related story about Iraqis describing “random killings committed by private Blackwater guards.”

One of my all-time favorite bloggers, Joseph Cannon, has a great post about the Erik Prince story, with added speculations. Go read it–it’s great. And while you’re visiting Cannonfire, did you know that Facebook is a CIA op? I did not know that. That’s why I visit Cannon’s blog every day.

Twitter Addicts Go Cold Turkey–for Hours!

Speaking of social media, someone hacked Twitter and other sites yesterday. We twitter addicts were cut off for hours!

Hacker attack takes down Twitter, Facebook, LiveJournal

Social networks Twitter, Facebook and LiveJournal on Thursday morning were overwhelmed by denial-of-service attacks disrupting access to more than 300 million users. Botnets — thousands of infected home and workplace PCs —flooded the websites with nuisance requests, thus cutting off access to anyone else.


Security experts can’t say if the attacks were related. Twitter users around the globe could not Tweet for at least three hours. Access was restored in much of the U.S. by 1 p.m. Eastern, but Twitter could not be reached via iPhone or in Eastern Europe through much of the day, says Stephan Tanase, a senior analyst at Kaspersky Lab. “This was definitely a pretty heavy attack,” says Tanase.

Is a Psychopath Attacking Twitter, Facebook?

Thursday’s denial of service attacks on Twitter and Facebook, and the ones that flooded non-critical U.S. government sites several weeks ago share a very interesting common denominator, according to a senior security researcher at Cisco.

They don’t make any sense. And that means trouble, according to Cisco’s Patrick Peterson.

“I’m afraid two outliers make a line and there is something going on,” Peterson said. “We have entered the third generation of denial of service attacks, and anyone that plans on rationality of criminals is at risk.”

What does that mean? It means that assuming that the bad guys online are just a new breed of bank robbers can get you into trouble if there’s a few psychopaths mixed in.


Iran is holding show trials of people who were arrested for protesting the recent election. In Kenya today, Hillary Clinton had a few choice words about the “trials.”

Iran’s trial of more than 100 people who it has linked to post-election unrest is a “sign of weakness” and shows that the Islamic republic “is afraid of its own people,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told CNN Thursday.

“It is a show trial, there’s no doubt about it,” Clinton told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria in a wide-ranging interview to be broadcast on his “GPS” program Sunday.

“It demonstrates I think better than any of us could ever say that this Iranian leadership is afraid of their own people, and afraid of the truth and the facts coming out.”

Newest Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Marcia Alesan Dawkins at Truthdig has a very interesting article about Sotomayor and the culture wars.

…Sotomayor’s critics appear unwilling to acknowledge that members of certain groups may have special insights into particular lives and issues. More to the point, critics are unwilling to acknowledge that Sotomayor’s membership in these groups comes with privileges that can be considered a form of expertise, especially in a context in which the nation’s racial majority is changing. At the same time, critics use the expression of her standpoint to discount her ability to appeal to the law as the ultimate authority when exercising her profession. This works to pit her supposed ethnic or “folk” knowledge against official judiciary objectivity. It also implies that since she would express her standpoint, she would use it unfairly. These critiques have led Sotomayor to publicly qualify her own words, explaining that she did not intend to argue that life experiences could or should overrule the law.

There’s a lot more, and it’s good.

Senator Franken, at Center Stage, Presides Over Sotomayor Vote

Cash for Clunkers

Did you know that the “Cash for Clunkers” program forces auto dealers to destroy the engines of the cars turned in to them? That means they can’t be used for parts. What a terrible waste of perfectly good engines. NPR reports that some people in the car business are very upset about it.

Clunker Cash is Anything but Smart Money

“Under the guise of fuel economy, we taxpayers are ponying up funds to have cars that are currently registered, insured and still running …destroyed … as long as the replacement truck gets two miles per gallon more than the trade-in and in the case of cars, four miles more,” writes Joan McCullough of East Shore Partners, whose missives help the scales fall from her faithful readers’ eyes on a daily basis.

“I’m sure you know families who would give their right arm for one of these ‘clunkers’, who can’t even get up a grand or so to buy an old egg-beater to get them around locally, eh? Perhaps what’s making me so uncomfortable about this deal is the notion that we are destroying goods/value with a view towards clearing out inventory to make way for new production which will have a positive impact to a battery of economic statistics.

“Key word here is statistics. And nothing beyond that. What’s next? Torpedo the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels so that we can rebuild them and add even more oomph to GDP? We could dynamite the libraries across the country, too. Just think how many carpenters, plumbers and electricians would have work!

That is just plain ridiculous. Why not re-sell the cars or the parts and get some money back for the taxpayers?

John Hughes

Hughes died of a heart attack yesterday while walking in Manhattan. Kurt Loder writes about Hughes:

John Hughes did one thing extraordinarily well that most critics thought wasn’t worth doing at all. He made teen comedies — funny, distinctively humane pictures that resonated with young people in the 1980s in ways that we, now living in a much raunchier age, may not see again.

I wasn’t crazy about a lot of Hughes’ movies, but I have to admit I do have a soft spot for “Sixteen Candles” and “Pretty in Pink.” It’s too bad Molly Ringwald didn’t make it as an adult actress. I always liked her.

And Speaking of Molly,

Molly Ringwald Pays Tribute to John Hughes

Odds and Ends

California city shuts down girl’s lemonade stand

Edwards’ ex-girlfriend testifies in federal ‘hush money’ probe

Ronnie Biggs: loveable rogue or unrepentant robber?

How Is America Going To End?

NASA says Kepler spacecraft proves it can find Earth-like planets

This is just sad: Birthers bamboozled by Obama supporter

I hope everyone has a terrific Friday. I love you guys!

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S.H.I.T. Open Thread

rorschach test

I’m sure happy it’s Thursday. What’s on your mind?