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Archives for March, 2008

March 31, 2008

If only the New York Times had Nexis

Daniel Radosh

The blogoweb is burning up over arch-Clinton hater Richard Mellon Scaife's reassesment today. The New York Times calls it "a striking about-face.": "His sudden conversion from fervid Clinton basher to lukewarm Clinton fan occurred after Mrs. Clinton, a Democratic senator from New York, sat down for a 90-minute interview with reporters and editors of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, a newspaper owned by Mr. Scaife."

Wait, sudden conversion? From one 90-minute interview? That's not what I read in the Times back in February, 2007.

Christopher Ruddy, who once worked full-time for Mr. Scaife investigating the Clintons and now runs a conservative online publication he co-owns with Mr. Scaife, said, “Both of us have had a rethinking.”

“Clinton wasn’t such a bad president,” Mr. Ruddy said. “In fact, he was a pretty good president in a lot of ways, and Dick feels that way today."

As for the conservative response to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, Mr. Ruddy said, “The level of intensity and anger toward Hillary is not getting to the level that it was toward Bill Clinton when he was president.” He added, “She has moderated and developed a separate image.”

Not an original observation, but Scaife has been trying for more than a year to ensure that the Republicans will run against Clinton in November 2008. Sorry, pal, ain't gonna happen.

March 31, 2008

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #140

Daniel Radosh

Submit the worst possible caption for this New Yorker cartoon. Click here for details. Click here to see last week's results.


"They're called Conestoga wagons because--uh-oh, air raid." —TGGibbon

"Well, look a-yonder! Seems the ingins got em'selves an event planner." —al in la

"We could've made the Def Leppard concert up ahead, if you hadn't slowed us down with all your 'proper burial' bullshit." —David John

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #140" »

March 29, 2008

They keep pulling me back in

Daniel Radosh

Normally I wouldn't bother posting about yet another example of media self-censorship, even one as lame as the New York Times refusing to say the name of the blog Go Fug Yourself ("We only take fug from Norman Mailer," Abe Rosenthal might have said). But this article happens to be a kind of radosh.net perfect storm, seeing as how it's also a Sunday Styles trend story about books by bloggers. Here's the key graf:

One of the first literary agents to troll the Web for talent was Kate Lee, who in 2003 was an assistant at International Creative Management, the sprawling talent agency, looking for a way to make her name.

When she started contacting bloggers and talking to them about book deals, many were stunned that a real literary agent was interested in their midnight typings. Her roster was so rich with bloggers, including Matt Welch from Hit & Run and Glenn Reynolds from Instapundit, that the New Yorker profiled her in 2004. Two years from now, the magazine noted, “Books by bloggers will be a trend, a cultural phenomenon.”

Some of you (hi, mom) will recognize that New Yorker story as one of mine. And some of you (hi, um, me) will even recall that the tongue-in-cheek "cultural phenomenon" line was a set-up for this punchline: "You will probably read about it in the Sunday Times."

So, I was off by two years. And, yeah, the Times already ran this exact story three and a half years ago — but that was on a Wednesday.

[h/t: Susannah]

March 28, 2008

Another reason for Tom Lehrer to pack it in

Daniel Radosh

Sorry, Amar, Malanowski got there first.

March 28, 2008

Debate: Does Christian Rock Suck?

Daniel Radosh

Please come to my first official event as the author of Rapture Ready!, a debate about Christian rock. To mix things up, I, the secular Jew, will be arguing that Christian rock does not suck. God-believing South Carolinian former rock singer Brian McCarter will argue that it does. Should be a fun time. You'll even be able to buy an advance copy of the book.

Wednesday April 2, 8 pm. Free admission, cash bar. The basement level of Lolita Bar at 266 Broome St. at the corner of Allen St. on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, one block south and three west of the Delancey St. F, J, M, Z subway stop.

Here's a preview of my case, a live performance (that I saw from the audience), by Over The Rhine, one of the best bands I discovered in my travels.

March 27, 2008

Logrolling in our time

Daniel Radosh

At Jewcy today, I interview A.J. Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically and blurber of my book.

March 26, 2008

You'll laugh, you'll cry (not necessarily in that order)

Daniel Radosh

My friend David Shenk, author of the indispensable Alzheimer's book The Forgetting, has directed four short animated films about the disease. Depressing, but the most straightforward, easily-grasped explanation you're ever likely to find.

For lighter fare, my friend Rob Nassau (by the way, these are real friends, not Internet friends) edited the hilarious web soap opera Horrible People. Here's the trailer.

March 25, 2008

My latest Clinton conspiracy theory

Daniel Radosh

Watch today's CBS News report with the sound off (as I have been in The Week's offices all day). After all, everyone knows that in our postmodern campaign, images count more than words.

What do you see? Hillary Clinton looking presidential and pro-military. If the Clinton campaign had called CBS News and said, "Can you run that footage of me in Bosnia from 1996 over and over again -- and provide it to every other network too," they would have laughed in her face. And yet because of one "misstatement," that's exactly what's happening. The girl even looks a little like Kirsten Dunst.

Voters aren't that dumb, you say? The anecdote Clarence Page citedSunday in a different context seems apt here: "When a woman exclaimed to the former Illinois governor that 'Every thinking American is voting for you,' he responded, 'That's not enough, madam, I need a majority.'"

March 25, 2008

Get the F out

Daniel Radosh

Washington Post TV writer Lisa Moraes has been pushed over the edge by her paper's inane self-censorship. This time they've forbidden the F-word. Not "fuck" — "F." The letter F. Really.

Moraes today attempts to write about an episode of 30 Rock revolving around a fake reality show called MILF Island. See if you can detect her displeasure at the rules imposed on her.

On the April 10 episode of "30 Rock," the staff of the late-night show "TGS" has become obsessed with a new reality hit called "MIL[letter that's been deemed too naughty for The Washington Post when it follows M, I and L] Island."

For the uninitiated: MIL[WaPo Scarlet Letter] stands for Mothers I'd Like to [have sex with].

In this episode of "30 Rock" -- which NBC says also is titled "MIL[WaPo Banned Letter] Island" -- network bigwig Jack (Alec Baldwin) is watching the riveting finale of this reality-series hit, pitting the final two contestants, Debra vs. Deborah, when he is blindsided by a blind item in a newspaper gossip column. In it, a network staffer calls him a "Class A moron" and adds, "That guy can eat my poo."

Yes, it really says "poo" -- I have not been compelled to use "poo" by the WaPo Decency Police.

[h/t Ted Frank]

March 24, 2008

Signs your campaign is in trouble #217

Daniel Radosh

My friend Judy sent this snapshot from the fire sale table at a LaGuardia Airport gift shop. Apparently retailers haven't heard the electoral votes theory.


March 24, 2008

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #139

Daniel Radosh

Submit the worst possible caption for this New Yorker cartoon. Click here for details. Click here to see last week's results.


Results from guest judge Harry Effron

"I'm going to lick my balls now." —J. D.

"More like Doctors Without Flavors, I'd say." —Kevin Guilfoile

"Well, you can't have a divorce; we're lions." —Seth T.

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #139" »

March 18, 2008

Retract that memo

Daniel Radosh

Mark Penn, February 13: "This election will come down to delegates... Again and again, this race has shown that it is voters and delegates who matter, not the pundits or perceived "momentum." ...As history shows, the Democratic nomination goes to the candidate who wins the most delegates - not the candidate who wins the most states."

Related updated for people who only get their campaign news from TV on the night the polls close: Obama won Texas.

March 17, 2008

And they don't even get diamond ratings

Daniel Radosh

Recently, the Charlotte Observer ran a six-part series on poultry processing. It's a meticulous, horrifying account of people with few other options who are forced by economic circumstances to work in jobs where they are subject to almost certain physical debilitation, the frequent risk of serious injury, and exploitative overseers who treat them as less than human. They work grueling hours and are forbidden to take breaks at their own discretion, even to use the bathroom. Visiting doctors is strongly discouraged. Nearly half of these people are illegally trafficked into the country.

"Some speak out, but most of these workers just wanted to remain in the shadows," said Franco Ordoñez, one of the reporters. "It's just not worth it, considering how much they've already risked, to draw more attention to themselves -- even if they're hurt. They're like the perfect victims."

On the plus side, they earn several hundred dollars an hour.

Oh no, wait, they earn $7.89 — if the bosses don't cheat them, which they do. And time spent putting on safety equipment is off the clock.

I'm waiting patiently for Nicholas Kristof to call for banning chicken nuggets.

March 17, 2008

Is that what the kids are calling it?

Daniel Radosh

T.G.I. Friday's Restaurants Feature 'Ultimate' Pasta Salad

Man, they didn't wait a second to cash in on the McGreevey story.

[h/t Jon Jackson]

March 17, 2008

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #138

Daniel Radosh

Submit the worst possible caption for this New Yorker cartoon. Click here for details. Click here to see last week's results.


This week's results from guest judge T.G. Gibbon

"'There is water at the bottom of the ocean.' That lyric is as true today as it was in 1984 when I wrote it, and there's your proof. Same as it ever was. That's why I know this marriage can be saved." - R.K.

"I had an even bigger tank, but it got away." -dwilk

"The fish? They're in the sea. A lot of them out there. I suggest you two start looking." - J

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #138" »

March 15, 2008

The candidates and the pastors

Daniel Radosh

Finally, something John McCain and Barack Obama have in common: pastor problems. In the last week, both men have been subject to well-deserved criticism over statements — patterns of statements, really; ideologies, you might say — by religious figures with whom they are associated.

First McCain trumpeted an endorsement by megachurch pastor John Hagee, then quickly had to distance himself from Hagee's bigoted and otherwise crazy beliefs. Then McCain declared that one of his "spiritual guides" is megachurch pastor Rod Parsely, whose beliefs are arguably more crazy than Hagee's and come tinged with what can only be called bloodlust. Meanwhile, Obama came under fire after video surfaced of his longtime pastor, Jeremiah Wright, preaching wild-eyed, racially-charged anti-American rhetoric.

Some pundits and bloggers have been quick to draw parallels, arguing that in essence that these are two equivalent situations that cancel each other out. But there is actually a very important distinction between Obama's situation and McCain's. Without excusing or forgiving the statements of any of these blowhards — the candidates can't do enough repudiating and disassociating for my taste — McCain comes out of this mess smelling much worse than Obama.

In a way that's counterintuitive, since Obama has a long and personal relationship with Wright, while McCain barely even knows Parsley and Hagee. But that's actually why Obama's situation bothers me less. When Obama says that Wright "is like an old uncle who says things I don't always agree with," I tend to believe him. Yes, I wish he'd kick his uncle out of the family, but it makes sense that there are deeper connections between the men that have nothing to do with Wright's radical views. Out of loyalty and affection, Obama is on some level obliged to stick with his genuine spiritual guide even when they
vehemently disagree.

Certainly no one thinks that Obama wants Wright by his side because of what the pastor preaches about politics. Even if Wright's opinions appealed to most black Americans (and I don't believe they do), that's hardly a demographic Obama — who has already carried up to 90 percent of the black vote in the primaries — needs to energize at the risk of alienating the rest of the country. John McCain, on the other hand, has quite clearly sought out Hagee and Parsley precisely because of their radical views. He wants to win over the demographic that these men speak to, and while he may personally and genuinely disagree with some of what Hagee and Parsley stand for, he can not plausibly claim to have sought their endorsements for any other reason. Obama has a pastor who says outrageous things. McCain intentionally went looking for pastors who say outrageous things. For Obama, the nuttiness is an unfortunate distraction; for McCain, it's the whole point.

March 13, 2008

What was Sptizer thinking?

Daniel Radosh

Silhouette+Woman+Cropped+1.jpg If anyone knows, it's friend of the site Susannah Breslin who, in addition to her smart sex blogging at The Reverse Cowgirl, has been curating two specialty sites, Letters from Johns and
Letters from Working Girls. Yesterday she wrote up her observations for Newsweek.

Susannah also links to Bound, Not Gagged, a sex worker omniblog which provides a refreshing antidote to the op-ed pieces you've been reading in the mainstream media.

Update: Ashley has released another song! This one includes the lyric, "sex, money drugs is what I'm all about." Careful, girl, people are going to think you're some kind of whore.

March 12, 2008

Why not just go all the way and call her a lamestain?

Daniel Radosh

l_120c40421e6c13ad692f4f2a8643a213.jpg Getting all these Spitzer scoops is making the New York Times a little cocky (if I may). Here's a paragraph from the paper's profile of "Kristin":

On the Web page is a recording of what she describes as her latest track, “What We Want,” a hip-hop-inflected rhythm-and-blues tune that asks, “Can you handle me, boy?” and uses some dated slang, calling someone her “boo.”

This from a paper that still hyphenates "teen-agers."

Anyway, she only dates slang for a thousand dollars an hour.

March 11, 2008

Diamonds are whore's best friend

Daniel Radosh


So what's the deal with the whore diamonds on the web site of Eliot Spitzer's escort service? According to one of these screengrabs, three diamonds is a $1000/hr trick, while seven diamonds is $3,100/hr. And how are these rates established?

Fees vary according to individual education, sophistication, and ambiance created by each of our models.... Beauty, elegance, erudition, and educational standing/career accomplishments are preliminary decisive factors in hiring. Each model's character, personality, ability to create a desirable atmosphere, interests, family background and career success must be deemed suitable. With time, promotion, if any, to higher category (ies) is considered and based upon our expanded knowledge of the model's character and the grace with which she handles public relations/interactions.

So do you get more diamonds or fewer if the career you're accomplished at happens to be hooking?

March 11, 2008

Man, how do you get a bow into someone's chest?

Daniel Radosh

Archer2.jpg That's Jake's question after reading this news item:

“I got out the car and I saw blood running off his body,” Kenneth Elliott, who stopped to help, told KTTV-TV.

“As soon as the police and paramedics and fire department got here and they touched him and rolled him over, they saw a bow and arrow in his chest.”

March 11, 2008

This does not bode well for Lt. Gov. Buttbanger

Daniel Radosh

photo07.jpg Here's the thing about Eliot Spitzer puns.

1. No matter how cleverly geeky you think they are, lots of other people got there first.

2. If you don't care about being clever — if you just go with something blindingly obvious like "Spitzer swallows" and "a huge blow to his career" — then for crying out loud don't follow that with "All snark aside, my thoughts and prayers go out to his daughters—I think they are teenagers—and his wife." It just makes you look like a sanctimonious douchebag who probably has some buried skeletons of his own. Probably involving teenagers.

March 10, 2008

You know what this blog doesn't have enough of? Viral videos.

Daniel Radosh

Via Best Week Ever, a moment straight out of The Newsroom. Start around the 50 second mark.

March 10, 2008

Wait, I've got one: Chuck Norris doesn't throw puppies off cliffs, he lifts up the earth and throws it at the puppy.

Daniel Radosh

080304_marine_puppy.jpg FALLUJA, Iraq (Reuters) - Hollywood action star Chuck Norris, known for his martial arts prowess and tough-guy image, has become a cult figure among the U.S. military in Iraq...

A small cardboard shrine is dedicated to Norris at a U.S. military helicopter hub in Baghdad, and comments lauding the manliness and virility of the actor have been left on toilet walls across Iraq and even in neighboring Kuwait, soldiers say.

"The fastest way to a man's heart is with Chuck Norris's fist," reads one message at the shrine, which consists of a signed photo of the actor surrounded by similar statements. "Chuck Norris puts the laughter in manslaughter," reads one and "Chuck Norris divides by zero," reads another....

Soldiers cited many reasons for his appeal. Some appreciated his films and fighting ability -- Norris is a martial arts guru, and many of his films have military themes.

Others said the masculine and plainly dressed actor was an antidote to the preening and moisturized metrosexual male.

March 10, 2008

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #137

Daniel Radosh

Submit the worst possible caption for this New Yorker cartoon. Click here for details. Click here to see last week's results.


This week's honorees selected by guest judge Vance Lehmkuhl

"If your old bitch dead mother could see us now! Me with not one, but TWO flat screen TeeVees and you dancing around like an idiot on that couch of hers. Not to mention using her prized place mats for fun. I hope she's roasting in Hell." --SK


"No, Mr. Reynolds, I do not consider putting crosses on those meat cleavers to be "cleverly concealing" them in any manner. If your heart is set on this killing spree, you're just going to have to come up with something more plausible." --kejo

"Hey, wait, did you signal a space there? I can't tell if you're trying to say 'therapist' or 'the rapist.' Well, either way, you've come to the right office, if you know what I mean." --Jacob C

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #137" »

March 7, 2008

On the record: she kind of is a monster

Daniel Radosh

Mouth-Eyes.jpg An informal Obama advisor was just forced to quit for calling Hillary Clinton a monster in an unguarded moment during a newspaper interview.

Meanwhile, the Clinton campaign staffers who doctored video of Obama to make his skin look darker, as well as those who lied about whether this had been done, are still gainfully employed.

Note: The image at right may contain unintentional artifacts from the normal saturation-desaturation process.

Update: The generally reliable Factcheck.org says the Clinton ad did not darken Obama's complexion. Given that the Obama camp isn't pushing this story, Factcheck is probably right.

March 7, 2008

How exactly do you broker a convention?

Daniel Radosh

I forgot to mention last week that I wrote a briefing for The Week about the history and mechanics of contested conventions. Fortunately, it's only more topical now.

Fortunately for me, I mean, not for the Democrats.

March 5, 2008

It's almost impossible for Glenn Greenwald to exaggerate about anything

Daniel Radosh

Glenn Greenwald in Salon, March 5:

'Rezko' is the Whitewater of the Obama campaign. It's almost impossible now to find an article or news account about Obama that doesn't include some dark reference to the 'Rezko' affair, always with the suggestion or even overt claim that it's reflective of some serious vulnerability, some suggestion of wrongdoing and corruption.

Results of Google News search for articles about Obama that do not include any reference to Rezko:


Don't get me wrong, I don't think there's anything to this Rezko business and Greenwald has a point that the media likes to whip up scandals, but let's be real...

Having paid only casual attention to it in the past, I spent several hours yesterday morning reading every "Rezko" article I could find in an attempt to understand as much as possible about the allegations. The point isn't that there is no credible evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of Obama, although that's unquestionably true. It's far beyond that. There aren't even any theoretical allegations or suggestions as to what he might have done wrong at all. The person who is accused of wrongdoing is Tony Rezko, in matters inarguably having nothing to do with Obama. Nobody claims otherwise (although many try to imply otherwise).

See, I spent several minutes just now reading that hotbed of conservative media herd mentality, TPM Muckraker and learned this:

Obama has acknowleged, however, that Rezko's likely motivation for buying the lot was to curry favor with him. Rezko reportedly admitted as much to his business associates. And as The New York Times reports today, Rezko was so heavily in debt at the time he purchased the lot that he did it under his wife's name in order to protect it from creditors. And then there's the other big question, whether Obama ever did anything for Rezko in return for his purchase of the side yard or all those contributions.

Evidence? No. Theoretical allegations or suggestions as to what he might have done wrong? That's pretty much exactly what I'd call that.

March 4, 2008

If Saul Bass did the Star Wars titles

Daniel Radosh

March 4, 2008

Why not Bil Keane?

Daniel Radosh

More here.

March 4, 2008

"Well, I did like El Kabong, Quick Draw McGraw."

Daniel Radosh

Forget the casual racism that kicks this whole thing off. Enjoy Rush Limbaugh's frantic and way too detailed explanation regarding cartoons he doesn't know anything about.

March 4, 2008

Hagee's heresy

Daniel Radosh

I've just written my first original post for the Rapture Ready! blog. If you want to know why many Christians really hate John Hagee, check it out (it's not because he thinks the Pope is the antichrist — who doesn't?).

This will soon be up at HuffPo as well, but much of the Rapture Ready! blog is going to be shorter, funnier, topical and non-topical stuff about Christian pop culture. I don't know how often I'll post there, but I'm not going to plug every post on this site as well. So if you're interested in my musings on such things, you might want to make the Rapture Blog a regular stop on your blogroll.

March 3, 2008

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #136

Daniel Radosh

Submit the worst possible caption for this New Yorker cartoon. Click here for details. Click here to see last week's results.


"Note to self: Hire the Buzzard salesman. He's really GOOD!" —Johnny V

"In Soviet Union, buzzard punches you!" —Delmon Dimitrovich Young

"Where the hell is the clitoris on this thing?" —Rubrick

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #136" »

March 2, 2008

Rapture (almost) Ready!

Daniel Radosh

The official Rapture Ready! web site is here.

Or 50 percent here, anyway. Available now is all the stuff you'd usually find at a promo site for a book (although much more nicely designed and programmed, thanks to Pat Broderick and Kevin Shay): A short excerpt, reviews, schedule of events, etc.

Coming soon is the multimedia appendix, a resource that, as far as I know, is unique to Rapture Ready! The idea is that four pages of crappily-reproduced photos in the middle of a book makes no sense in this day and age. Instead, when you read about a person, place or metalcore band you just have to see for yourself, you can go to the site and get pictures, video, links, etc. It's so obvious once you think about it, that I'm pretty sure the only reason every non-fiction book doesn't have one is that it turns out to be really fracking time-consuming to put together. It will be done before the book comes out, however.

Speaking of which, don't pre-order the book just yet, unless you think you're going to forget in a month. I'm going to ask everyone to order on the same day (April 7, pub-date minus one) in order to manipulate the Amazon sales ranking. Don't worry, I asked Jesus, and he said that's totally not a sin.

By the way, the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) for the Rapture Ready! site is GetRaptureReady.com. RaptureReady.com has been taken for 20 years (if you can believe Wikipedia) by one of the most awesomely crazy sites in this whole series of tubes. I'm sure you've seen it. RaptureReady.com is the first result in a Google search for Rapture Ready, and that's not going to change, but I would like my site to get up to number two or three. So if you have an Internet blog and you feel like helping out, go ahead and link GetRaptureReady.com with the phrase "Rapture Ready!" Progress reports as warranted.

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