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Archives for October, 2008

October 31, 2008

Also, the Aaron Sorkin movie would go right into turnaround

Daniel Radosh

Farhad Manjoo may be correct that Internet startups really ought to have a business model, but isn't he missing a gigantic point when he makes this suggestion for Facebook?

The social network attracts more than 100 million "active users" around the world, but as of now—as even its founder Mark Zuckerberg admits—it's still looking for a "business model" (that is, a way to make tons more money than it spends).

But let me say that again: 100 million people use Facebook regularly. Judging from some of the folks in my social network, a sizable minority of Facebook users have hundreds of "friends" and check in to the site multiple times a day—call them superactive users. Let's imagine that Facebook became a tiered service. A free plan would limit you to 200 friends, one status update per day, or some other non-Draconian combination of restrictions. But for $5 a month, the limits would be lifted. Certainly, many users would balk; tens of thousands would join Facebook groups to protest the new pay model. Let's assume that 95 percent of users will refuse to pay a dime. That still leaves 5 percent, or 5 million people, to pay $60 a year. That's $300 million in the bank.

As one of Manjoo's superactive users (at least on days when I'm avoiding a deadline), allow me to point out that Facebook's value rests entirely on its critical mass of users. If 95 percent of us stop using the service (which is effectively what would happen if we're shunted into a lower tier — a status update that can't be updated instantly is definitionally useless) then the site is no longer worth $60 a year to the other 5 percent.

I currently have 599 friends (mostly people I actually know, at least via e-mail). So let's say I can't bear to see that cut down to 200. I pony up $60, only to find out that 95 percent of my friends did not. I'd guess that at least half of them — 285 people — also have more than 200 friends, and let's say that of that half, half again choose me as one of the friends they need to drop from their roll. So right off the bat my fee goes from $0 to $60 so that I can lose 142 friends. Then if I meet someone new, odds are good that their friend list is already full, and I won't be able to add them either. And of my remaining friends, the vast majority are no longer able to update their status regularly, and, as an inevitable result, begin spending less time on the site, making the Facebook experience less interesting for me, and increasingly not worth the money I'm already expected to pay.

Manjoo contrasts Facebook unfavorably with a few software companies that have been successful in charging people for products. But Facebook doesn't have a product. It has its users. If it loses them, or alienates them, it has nothing that anyone would want to pay for. Not to mention that there are dozens of social networking sites waiting in the wings to offer its cast-offs a very similar experience for free.

Since I'm pretty sure Facebook is aware of all this, there's little chance of Manjoo's destructive vision coming to pass. So if you're a regular commenter whose name (or handle) I'd recognize, by all means go ahead and friend me. However, do not send me quizes, zombie attacks, li'l green anythings, or anything else that requires adding an application. The one Facebook feature I might actually pay for is the "ignore" button.

October 31, 2008


Daniel Radosh

england.jpg It's that time of year again. You're walking along when all of a sudden — boo! — out jumps a newspaper wringing its hands and tut-tut-tutting over how society forces innocent little girls to wear slutty Halloween costumes.

Somehow these thumbsuckers on the evils of objectifying young women always manage to run with photos of young women in skimpy outfits, but that's another story.

The slutoween meme has gotten so tired that this year the Boston Globe ran the opposite way, proclaiming (with the usual lack of evidence required for trend stories) that girls are dressing less sexy this year.

This is one of those issues I've always filed under the heading of parental responsibility — which was, of course, easier to do before I became a parent. My daughter is still young enough that this isn't a serious problem for us yet, but I did consider that my task would be all the more easy if she chose to dress as something that can't possibly be made sexy.

Which is why I was just fine with one contender: Pippi Longstocking. A little girl in rags and dorky hair with a monkey — Pippi is the anti-hot.

But, as I discovered searching for costumes, it turns out that our perverted society really can make anything smutty.


In the end, my daughter decided to be a princess-chef, a persona still uncorrupted by the pornmongers, if only because it's too small a niche for even the most determined fetishists.

Postscript: A little searching also revealed that there is a recent animated incarnation of Pippi, for children, that could be considered inappropriately sexy. After the jump, Pippi looking alarmingly like the sixth Huckapoo girl.

Continue reading "Trick-or-tramp" »

October 30, 2008

1973 called

Daniel Radosh

The Times weighs in on Life on Mars. Here's one of the studio execs: "The wardrobe, the hair, the music, the buildings — it honestly is a kind of an amazing reproduction of the era.”

Honestly, it's kind of not. I'm still enjoying the show for what it is, but I feel less and less comfortable that it's going to hang together. It just doesn't feel meticulous. Think of last week's hippie squat party, complete with Indian guru. In a show like, say, Lost, this would be a clue: it's so clearly a hack pastiche of the early 70s that it can only mean Sam is assembling this world from his imagination about the era. Here, though, you get the sense that it might just be a hack pastiche.

There's some speculation that Sam isn't in the 1970s but in a 1970s cop show. That's fun. And there are moments in each episode when the camera angles and music stings suddenly mimic Baretta et al. But most of each episode feels much more like a 2008 cop show (or a 2004 one, frankly). Layers of mystery... or just sloppy?

One little thing that stuck in my craw last week was Michael Imperioli's line to one of the hippies: "1969 called, it wants its dashiki back."

Did that "Year X called, it wants its Y back" put down really exist in 1973? I ran it by Radosh.net lexicological correspondent Jesse Sheidlower who traced it only as far back as 1992 (to a Saturday Night Live skit called Sidewalk Insults, suggesting that it was at least a novelty at the time). He adds, "In 1996 and 1997, it's still being held up as an example of a new expression, so I'm reasonably confident that if it was in use in 1973, it can't have been too common."

I wish Life on Mars felt smart enough to believe that this anachronism was meaningful. But it doesn't.

October 30, 2008

On the Internet, everyone will believe you're a dog

Daniel Radosh


You've probably heard about this Margaret and Helen blog supposedly written by two women in their 80s. Andrew Sullivan said it's proof that blogging rocks "because every now and again a new blog emerges that knocks your socks off."

And also, I'd add, because you can pretend to be anyone you want and people will fall for it.

Seriously, how are so many people reading this and not smelling a rat? I mean, it's funny and clever and well written and all that, it's just not the blog of two octogenarian ladies. No way, no how. I've known some sassy, foul-mouthed, funny, liberal octogenarians in my time. I'm just not buying this one. Not for a second.

Alanna Risse (if that is her real name) makes a case against it, and an even better case for why that matters.

I’d like you to consider the fact that this blog has received tens of thousands of hits in just one week. And I’d then like to ask you, if this blog were written by a 32 year old democratic white male, or a 20 year old college student, would it have spread across the internet like it did? In many of the references I’ve seen, people forwarding the links always mention that the blog was written by an 82 year old and it seems nearly all of the responders, and the people who forward the link on, mention the fact it was written by an 82 year old woman, and usually have some cute comment like “go grandma!” etc. When I raised questions of authenticity to my friend, I was accused of being ageist, but I have to ask, would she even have sent me the link in the first place if the author wasn’t an 82 year old grandma? Is this just a case of the blog’s true author taking advantage of reverse ageism?

My own suspicions were raised first of all by the "too good to be true" factor and then by some of the syntax and the unlikely combination of professed lack of tech-savvy and clear signs of being avid blog-readers. They were confirmed with a 15-minute Google Blog Search investigation. (I admit I don't know how GBS works exactly, so this could be off-track).

Helen's first political post appears on Oct. 3. Before that, there are six very sporadic posts about family vacations and sunsets, clearly backdated. We're to believe that these two friends, who managed to communicate by fax in 1970s, set up this blog, then almost never used it until this month, when they (or at least Helen) started posting daily about politics. Here's what Google tells us:

Search results for the Margaret and Helen URL before Oct. 2 2008: zero.

Search results for Oct 3: One (the initial political post)

Search results for Oct. 5: Helen's second political post plus a confused "how did all these people find our site" post from Margaret, which has since been removed from the actual blog (too heavy-handed?)

Search results for Oct. 7: For the first time, the July 4, 2007 post appears in Google's archives. Why not before? Also there: a post backdated to August 29 comparing Sarah Palin to Karen from Will and Grace. This post is also gone from the blog. For what it's worth, the hoaxers are actually pretty savvy. I think they realized that it would make more sense if Helen suddenly decided to go on a poli-blogging tear than for her to have weighed in once in August and then stopped until October.

Also, Helen counters suspicious readers who apparently were unable to find any information about "Helen Philpot" in the public record by saying that she changed her and Margaret's last names on the site because they started getting angry e-mails after writing about Sarah Palin. Google's archives show only the name Helen Philpot going back to the beginning of its archives.

One final note (and again, correct me if there's a technology aspect I'm missing here): It strikes me as highly unlikely that posts that supposedly went up in July 2007 would have tags, when WordPress didn't add native tagging until version 2.3 in September of that year.

October 27, 2008

Within your rights to bite

Daniel Radosh

"At this point in the history of the vampire movie, you just hope for new twists on old themes rather than something completely original, but "Let the Right One In," the discovery of this year's Tribeca festival, arrives in theaters as a terrific Halloween surprise." —Andrew O'Hehir

Metacritic score: 78. Can anyone back that up?

October 27, 2008

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #167

Daniel Radosh

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


First place
"Wait...this isn't the Bowling Green Hilton...guys, where am I?"

"We must continue with the speech senator."

"What's going on? I feel strange..why are we here?"

"We must continue with the speech senator."

"Everything looks so different..where are the people...why aren't they clapping??"

"Nothing is wrong. The speech requires that you go on senator. We must continue with the speech."—simsburybear

Second place
"Hello, I've been assigned by the Interior Department to rid this forest of chimeras. That's right beagle-lope, pack your bags." —bad dad

Third place
"Not to go on all-fours; that is the Law. Are we not Men? Not to hump trees; that is the Law. I'm talking to YOU, Dog-with-antlers..." —firebus

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #167" »

October 25, 2008

And for an hour and a half, Huckapoo was the most popular band in America

Daniel Radosh


Have you ever had one of those days where you think, No one's coming over, I don't need to shave, or put on clean underwear, or any pants — and then you get downstairs and there's a surprise party where the guests are 400,000 highly judgmental strangers?

As some of you noticed, this afternoon from about 4:00 to 5:30, the entire front page of Gawker was filled with posts from Radosh.net. Recent posts. You know, the ones where I've been pretty much not even trying. Judging by comments, this was not a welcome development. Frankly, I was as upset as any Gawker commenter, though less prone to using words like "cockmaster" and "douchetastic." Have I really spent the last week writing about Wonder Woman and vampires? What a fucking geek.

What happened was this: A couple of years ago Nick Denton set up a way for me to crosspost on Gawker, a tool I have used roughly never. With great power comes great responsibility, and if I wanted to behave responsibly, I wouldn't be writing a blog for 40 people. So today something went wrong with the system — on Gawker's end, I'd like to stress — and I had my Tim Kastelein moment.

In an ideal situation, I'd come out this mishap determined to craft every post with the utmost care and quality, as if it might suddenly appear on Gawker. But that's not really gonna happen, as you can probably tell from this post.

October 24, 2008

Secret gay Muslim is just the beginning

Daniel Radosh

The complete guide to Barack Obama conspiracy theories. My personal favorite moment: Ann Althouse admitting that what she thought was a radio transmitter in Obama's ear during the town hall debate, was not. "You know, just because the thing I saw wasn't there doesn't mean there wasn't something there that I didn't see."

It's gonna be a fun eight years.

October 23, 2008

Also, Prussian Blue was created by Al Franken

Daniel Radosh

Remember that New Yorker cover as Barack and Michelle Obama as terrorists in the Oval Office? At the time, I sided with Jack Shafer, who wrote, "Although every critic of the New Yorker understood the simple satire of the cover, the most fretful of them worried that the illustration would be misread by the ignorant masses who don't subscribe to the magazine." Shafer mocked Jake Tapper for writing, "No Upper East Side liberal—no matter how superior they feel their intellect is—should assume that just because they're mocking such ridiculousness, the illustration won't feed into the same beast in emails and other media. It's a recruitment poster for the right-wing."

Shafer's point was that, "Calling on the press to protect the common man from the potential corruptions of satire is a strange, paternalistic assignment for any journalist to give his peers," and he was absolutely right about that. But it must be said that he, and I, were a little too quick to smirk at the idea that anyone would miss such an obvious (and not particularly funny) joke.

You see, it turns out that those racist Obama Bucks we talked about a couple of days ago actually got their start as a joke about racist Republicans.

Tim Kastelein is a 31-year-old Minnesota Democrat with a penchant for sophomoric, often-grotesque humor and an acid tongue that derides everyone from overweight women to the local real estate agent who delivers advertising mailers...Kastelein, who received a low-level organizing position within the Democratic Party in Minnesota earlier this year, said he meant the cartoon as a satirical look at "right-wingers." He said he created the image to lampoon Republicans who are afraid of government welfare programs and fearful of a Democratic president.

The illustration went viral, stripped of the context of Kastelein's blog, and got picked up by one of those right-wingers, Diane Fedele (who just resigned over the incident).

Had I foreseen, back in July, the depths that John McCain and his supporters would stoop to, I might have tempered my comments on the New Yorker cover. (I'm cool with acknowledging my lack of prescience here because, as Vance recently pointed out, on Sept. 4, I alone pronounced Sarah Palin's convention speech a meaningless performance that would not prevent the country from eventually rejecting her as ridiculously unqualified.)

But here's the quote from Kastelein that really got my attention: "I don't write my Web site for people like (Fedele). I write my Web site for people like me."

That's pretty much my philosophy. I've called Obama an anti-American gay Muslim more times than I can count, because I know you'll get the joke -- and if some people don't, I don't really care. But every now and then I wonder what would happen if I ended up in Kastelein's position, and found my blog scrutinized by clueless outsiders. I mean, some stuff here could seriously be taken the wrong way.

October 23, 2008

Fugly woman

Daniel Radosh

sexworkerviolet.jpg Gina spotted this photo alongside a story about San Francisco's attempt to decriminalize prostitution. The caption reads, "A sex worker who goes by the name Violet poses for a picture at a bus stop."

Phone sex worker, maybe. Because if hookers in San Francisco really wear fat-girl jackets, pleated striped shirts, polka-dot knee socks and big-ass granny shoes, it should be a crime.

October 22, 2008


Daniel Radosh

Posting about True Blood got me thinking about great TV and movie vampires. Poking around, I realize that though I've seen my share of vamp flicks, I'm hardly well-versed in the genre. Perhaps that's because I have a definite preference for postmodern reimaginings over classical horror, however well done.

My love of Buffy and Angel is well known, of course, and I've also mentioned a few times the British show Ultraviolet, which had themes that prefigured True Blood in many ways, though it was more MI5 adventure than gothic. Also, it co-starred Idris Elba, later to make his name in The Wire. In this scene, the hero confronts his best friend, now a vamp, and one of the moral issues of the show are laid out: are vampire hunters nothing more than a fascist death squad? (The question isn't as loaded as I probably just made it sound. The vamps in this show are really evil, after all.)

Near Dark also toyed with the mythology in fun ways, as did Lost Boys, I suppose. What are your favorites -- again, with an emphasis on clever twists. I mean, 30 Days of Night looks creepy and fun, but is it interesting?

And WTF is Vampire High?

October 22, 2008

Good things

Daniel Radosh

So how's the fall TV season treating you? The only show that really has me excited is True Blood, which I wasn't expecting since Six Feet Under always rubbed me the wrong way and I only liked American Beauty despite the script.

Also, True Blood outdoes The Wire for best theme song and opening credits.

That's Bad Things by Jace Everett. No, I hadn't heard of him either. Of course Life On Mars has a great theme song, but I'm not sure that counts, especially since you only get to hear about two seconds of it. I'm enjoying that show too, although I find the "crime of the week" aspect a bit cheesy. I wish they'd focus more on the bigger picture.

October 21, 2008

Sorry for the delay

Daniel Radosh

Contest results are in.

October 21, 2008

Lowering the bar

Daniel Radosh

Headline of the day: McCain Still Lives

Really, it's a new argument every day with this campaign.

October 21, 2008

The proof is in the pudding

Daniel Radosh

SWCFIR1.jpg Today in The Daily Beast, the new Tina Brown web magazine — because Lord knows we needed one of those — I offer my thoughts on Fireproof, the Christian blockbuster starring Kirk Cameron.

Naturally, the "most insular Christian audiences" that I refer to in the piece have already started accusing me of Christian bashing (If only! I hear many of you, my cynical secular friends, saying).

Of course my real point is that crap like Fireproof does a disservice to Christianity. In that, I was strongly influenced by Thom Parham's essay, Why do Heathens Make the Best Christian Films? I probably could have deflected some heat by linking it in the piece, but I don't really need to deflect heat, being fireproof and all.

October 21, 2008

Forget Bon Jovi and Heart, I'll bet Prussian Blue would let McCain use one of their songs

Daniel Radosh


"I didn't see it [as racist]. I never connected. It was just food to me. It didn't mean anything else." —Diane Fedele, president of Chaffey Community Republican Women and creator of Obama Bucks.

“There’s a real problem in what’s called the ‘white movement.’ One, there’s a lot of people who are just mentally ill, and we deal with those a lot. No. 2, there are people who have serious sexual problems.” —Bill White, head of the American Nazi party.

October 20, 2008

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #166

Daniel Radosh

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


First place
(series of rapid blinks while thinking: "why does no one learn Morse code any more?") —Richard H

Second place
"Hold on. I can't get hard until Frankenstein pees on me and the Werewolf starts punching me in the face." —louis lewis

Third place
"You also like to put your hands up in the air when you're high? That's so awwwwweeesome!" —firebus

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #166" »

October 19, 2008

Not exactly selling yourself there, John

Daniel Radosh

"McCain seemed dismissive of Powell's endorsement, saying he had support from four other former secretaries of state, all veterans of Republican administrations: Henry Kissinger, James A. Baker III, Lawrence Eagleburger and Alexander Haig."

What, couldn't get McNamara?

October 16, 2008

Can I call ya Joe?

Daniel Radosh

It appears there's a chance Joe the Plumber will be purged from the voter rolls, thanks to aggressive GOP challenges.

That's just one of the things that's turned up in the frenzy of ex post facto vetting. Not what Jonathan Martin meant when he called Joe the new Palin, but if the shoe fits. Of course, Palin signed on to the McCain campaign. All Joe did was go to a rally and ask a question.

October 16, 2008

Hit 'em where they're strong

Daniel Radosh

Another indication that Obama's campaign strategists are really on the ball right now. According to the pundits, John McCain's single best moment last night — perhaps his only really strong soundbite — was "I am not President Bush." So what moment does the Obama camp cherry pick to build an ad around?

That's gotta hurt. Especially in combination with the montage of McCain's widely remarked on crazy faces.

Meanwhile McCain may soon wish he'd vetted J the P first.

Bonus: I don't know if this has been going around, but Olbermann showed a short clip last night and I gotta admit it was pretty remarkable.

October 15, 2008

Wondering what to wear

Daniel Radosh

Joe-Quinones.jpg My former Modern Humorist colleague Nick Nadel now writes a weekly column on the intersection of comics and film. In his most recent, he offers four pieces of advice for anyone attempting to jump start the Wonder Woman movie. Three of them are eminently sensible. Frankly, most comic book flicks should skip the origin story (only Batman Begins is at its best before, well, Batman begins).

But then Nick, who is apparently some kind of Communist, argues that Wonder Woman ought to wear a less skimpy outfit. Apparently he thinks there's something "embarrassing" about Diana's form-fitting undies and a breastplate that functions exclusively as "a cleavage-conveyance system."

I'm not about to sign on to his outlandish suggestion that Wonder Woman ought to wear pants, but Nick does link to some fan-produced costume redesigns that, I'll admit, are pretty awesome. I could definitely compromise on the long boots from the winning design. The fetishiness makes up for the less exposed skin.

That same costume design site has also explored revamped outfits for Superman, Iron Man and others. Including Vampirella, who, frankly, I didn't even realize wore clothes.

October 15, 2008

The vote-fraud myth in an ACORN shell

Daniel Radosh

A primer on the "right-wing hype and lies".

October 14, 2008

Why does The New Yorker gotta be like that?

Daniel Radosh

Radosh.net grammar correspondent Vance Lehmkuhl writes:

The New Yorker gets confused when people misuse the word "like."

For example: "I was like, 'Are you coming or not?'"

Technically, no, that wasn't what you were like, it's what you said. Sure, by saying that, it is in some small way what you were like, but grammatically, a person can't be like a quotation. Even though this is a standard colloquial usage that everyone under 50 seems to know and understand, The New Yorker pretends not to understand it at all, and demonstrates this by relentlessly mispunctuating the phrase.

In The New Yorker, the above quote would be rendered as: "I was, like, 'Are you coming or not?'" The difference is small - a single comma - but significant: 'Like' is no longer part of the sentence structure but set apart from it. In other words, with an unmistakable you-kids-get-off-my-lawn stance, the magazine is equating the "said" usage, where the word "like" is used substandardly yet functionally (drawing an off-kilter comparison between two things) with the Valley-Girl usage -- "Like, Omigod!" or "I was, like, going to the mall" -- where the word is essentially a meaningless interjection.

This is not a one-time slip, but a style rule applied consistently for years now. In the Arianna Huffington profile from The Politics Issue, though, it gets even worse: There's the typical version in a quote from Bill Maher ("I was, like, 'Oh, where's Arianna?'"), but when Arianna's talking about her attitude during her childhood -- in other words, quite literally what it was like, -- it's punctuated "It was, like, 'Oh my God, there are all these books!'"

I realize the proximity of "Oh my God" may have clouded the copy desk's vision on this one. [Ed note: Here's a more clear example from the piece: "It’s, like, This happened, this didn’t work, let’s move on.”] But The New Yorker is supposed to be, and used to be, the sine qua non of copy editing. The magazine has adopted a style rule that makes reasonable people igry and only furthers its public image as a parochial, old-World-wannabe bastion of upper-income hauteur.

It's unfortunate, because in reality it remains an excellent magazine, but this one habit is, like, abominable.

October 13, 2008

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #165

Daniel Radosh

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


First place
"It's too expensive to dump boiling oil on rioters these days, so we had to switch to these counterfeit bills covered in poison. This actually works better, because they don't drop dead until they're back home, so we don't even have to clean up the bodies." —Jesse

Second place
"Odo, these 'paper currency magnets' you've invented are brilliant! Look at those silly peasants, flailing their arms around in a vain attempt to stop the upward progress of their hard-earned banknotes!" —kejo

Third place
"It's like I always say, Roderick...
1. Immobilize the king in giant Santa suit
2. Dump entire treasury onto populace
3. ????
4. Profit!" —Vance

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #165" »

October 10, 2008

How scared should you be?

Daniel Radosh

chart.gif I've become addicted to NPR's Planet Money podcast — economic news for financial ignoramuses like myself. Last week, the PM team explained why the best way to know how much trouble we're in is to ignore the plunging stock market and keep your on the TED spread.

The spread measures the difference between the interest rate the U.S. government would give you to borrow money and what banks would give you... The idea behind the spread is that if you have money that you're willing to lend and you want to get some interest back, then the safest thing you can do is lend it to the U.S. government, Davidson says. Historically, large banks have been seen as almost as safe as the U.S. government. And for much of this decade, that was reflected in an extremely low TED spread rate that remained around 0.2.

As of this morning, that number is 4.51. You'll want to bookmark that link, and, for good measure, the rate of the three month treasury bond itself. If that number goes up, it means banks are engaging in the normal process of lending and borrowing money. If it goes down, they're hiding their money under the government mattress. A month ago 3 month T bonds T-bills were at 1.58. Today, they're at 0.18.

October 10, 2008

We used to count votes, now we count bacon

Daniel Radosh

The Obama campaign is famous for its ground game. The question is, does it have a post-game ground game? It's time to consider what happens if Obama goes into the election with an insurmountable lead in the polls, and ends up losing thanks to manufactured chaos at the booth.

The likelihood of the election being stolen — if not directly than by a combination of intentional and fortuitous shenanigans — is increasing every day. Yesterday's chilling New York Times investigation into illegal voter purges is only the tip of a very cold iceberg.

Obama can't allow himself to be blindsided by this as Al Gore was when he lost the 2000 election in extra innings. His campaign needs to be prepared for an immediate mobilization of all forces — communications, legal, grassroots — at the first sign of trouble. He may need to be on top of this before the polls even close, setting the narrative before McCain can. I won't pretend to know exactly what steps he may need to take, but I do know he'll need to have them planned out in advance. McCain certainly will.

One possible model for him to look to: Hillary Clinton's second-half primary campaign. True, her kitchen-sink tactics were appalling in their own context because she had actually lost, but in support of a candidate who actually won, and was in danger of being denied victory, a similar combination of unashamedly aggressive spin and backroom maneuvering would be appropriate and necessary. Not pretty, perhaps, but better than four years of McCain (or, more likely, two years of McCain and two years of Palin).

Relevant Chris Rock bit begins at 2:35

October 8, 2008

Blog fast

Daniel Radosh

October 8, 2008

By the way, what is up with Tom Brokaw's lips?

Daniel Radosh


October 7, 2008

Palin goes palling

Daniel Radosh

You know how I always say that playing the "imagine if the other side did this" game is a cheap rhetorical device, only to go ahead and endorse it anyway. At this point, I should probably just admit that while it may be cheap, it's usually pretty revealing. Here's David Talbot on Sarah Palin's anti-American BFFs.

Imagine the uproar if Michelle Obama was revealed to have joined a black nationalist party whose founder preached armed secession from the United States and who enlisted the government of Iran in his cause? The Obama campaign would probably not have survived such an explosive revelation. Particularly if Barack Obama himself was videotaped giving the anti-American secessionists his wholehearted support just months ago.

Someone should totes ask her about this at her next press conference!

October 6, 2008

Guilt by guilt

Daniel Radosh

How inept is the McCain campaign? Yesterday, Politico's Mike Allen made the case, with some justification, that reviving the Keating Five scandal wouldn't harm McCain all that much because "McCain hardly hides the affair."

He called it, in his 2002 autobiography, "the worst mistake of my life." He remade himself as a reformer in reaction to the scandal. McCain's case isn't that you should ignore his sin, or that it isn't a sin; it's that he's expiated it.

If the McCain camp had pushed that line, it probably would have been hard for the Obama campaign to get much traction on this front in the press. But it didn't. Instead, it argued today that McCain had done nothing wrong and that the K5 inquiry was a "classic political smear job."

Which means the press pretty much has to get to the bottom of the competing claims by dredging the whole thing up all over again. Even if the consensus somehow comes out in McCain's favor, the process is bound to hurt him.

October 6, 2008

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #164

Daniel Radosh

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


First place
"Leave if you must, but I won't be responsible for the safety of your tin can collection." —Mark

Second place
"But Margaret, think of the kids! The ones all these goats ate." —J

Third place
"Yeah? Well at least THE GOATS didn't eat a whole fucking quart of Haagen Dazs, you fat cunt." —Trotman

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #164" »

October 5, 2008

In event of Rapture, this nun will still be around. Because she's Catholic.

Daniel Radosh


What do you think of when you think slutty video game nuns with chainsaws? Probably that I needed an eye-catching image for an otherwise dull post that I nevertheless really hope you'll read.

Let me explain.

Next week I'm capping (more or less) my six-month Rapture Ready! publicity blitz with two New York City appearances that promise to be the be-all and end-all of just too many people in too many parts of our planet. Will you be one of them?

October 16: Free lecture and reception at St. Francis College in Brooklyn.

October 19: Special event at the 92nd Street Y. David Rakoff interviews A.J. Jacobs and Daniel Radosh on their experiences as strangers in a strange land.

In case you're wondering how the whole book thing has been going, I'm pleased to say that it's gotten rave reviews (with one really trivial exception), and enthusiastic blog response. And while it may seem to you that I post about the book at Radosh.net all the time, in fact, I've kept most RR! news sequestered here.

If you make it to one of the events, come say hi. It will improve your chances of winning the cartoon contest.

October 2, 2008

I may have a little marketing problem

Daniel Radosh

Someone has created an Amazon wish list for Sarah Palin. Down at the bottom of the first page, under "Mom, Dad... I'm Pregnant" and the collector's edition of Red Dawn is my book, Rapture Ready! Fake Sarah's comment: "I want to be just as rapture ready as the author!"

That shouldn't be too hard.

October 1, 2008

What's really shocking about Sarah Palin's non-answer

Daniel Radosh

With all the (totally appropriate) jaw-dropping and gleeful snickering over Sarah Palin's inability to name a Supreme Court decision other than Roe v. Wade that she disagrees with, people seem to be overlooking the question before that: "Do you believe there is an inherent right to privacy in the Constitution." Her answer, firm and repeated: "I do."

Uh oh. For more than 30 years, the cornerstone of the pro-life movement's legal (as opposed to moral) argument against Roe has been that the court's decision was "based on a new, previously undefined 'right of privacy' which it 'discovered' in so-called 'emanations' of 'penumbrae' of the Constitution." That's a lot of scare quotes, yet none of them have helped sink the message into Sarah Palin's brain. I had previously suspected that Palin was shaky (to be exceedingly generous) on issues that she didn't care about, like the economy and stuff that happens in other countries, but now it seems like she lacks even rudimentary understanding of the issues that are supposed to be central to her.

Indeed, most serious pro-lifers, faced with Couric's question about other bad rulings could have instantly named at least one: Dred Scott. As Tim Noah pointed out four years ago, "To the Christian right, 'Dred Scott' turns out to be a code word for 'Roe v. Wade.'" Even knowing nothing about the law, or the court, she should at least have been familiar enough with pro-life talking points to come up with that.

I still think Palin could ace an interview about the Bible, but I'm less certain than before.

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