May 24, 2009

Wait...Did You Hear That?

Abandoned places. Creepy photos accompanied by hilarious text. How can you go wrong. Just click here already.

May 17, 2009

You Got To Please Yourself

Speaking of Saturday Night Live, I was telling someone about this sketch the other day, so I thought I'd embed it here.

Now THAT'S The Way To End A Season!

The best episode of SNL I've seen in a long time. Will Ferrell is much too funny to be entirely human. My old friend, celebrity "Jeopardy"nearly made me spit liquid across the room, and the "Goodnight Saigon" skit (see below) was awesome. Just when you thought it couldn't get any better, it did. Cameo after Cameo. Plus, Casey Wilson in a black dress--be still my heart! I'm telling you, I didn't even mind the crappy funeral sketch, or that fact that SNL (once again) apparently couldn't find anything funny about the current administration (c'mon you guys--no Pelosi?), yet managed to still make jokes about people who have been out of office for four months. Oh, hey--I've got a couple of jokes about the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act of 1930. If I dust them off, do you guys want them?

May 14, 2009

New Summer Fashion: Pants On Fire

So...Nancy Pelosi first said that she didn't know nothin' bout no waterboarding:

When Pelosi first addressed the question in late April, she said only that those present at her 2002 briefing were not told that the practice had been employed.

"We were not — I repeat, were not — told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used," she said at the time.

Then, when the records and recollections of others seemed to contradict her, she "clarified" her statement:

Later, her spokesman elaborated, saying Pelosi had been told the methods were legal but that they had not yet been used.
Now, it's that mean 'ol CIA that is at fault:

On Thursday, Pelosi accused the CIA of having lied during that session by explicitly telling her that waterboarding was not used.
So you's not her fault. Apparently, either the CIA lied by omission ("We were not told..."), or by comission ("explicitly telling her...")

And yet...

But Pelosi defended her own lack of action on the issue, saying her focus at the time was on wresting congressional control from Republicans so her party could change course.

"No letter could change the policy. It was clear we had to change the leadership in Congress and in the White House. That was my job — the Congress part," Pelosi said.

So...if she didn't know anything about waterboarding, then why would she be trying to "change the policy"? After all, doesn't one have to know about a policy in order for one to set about changing it? If she is telling the truth about the CIA explicitly telling her waterboarding was not used, then just what policy was she trying to change?

May 13, 2009

Somebody Went To Jared

So today, Jared Bernstein, Biden's chief economist, said "I challenge you, or anyone watching me right now, to come up with any program like this federal, state, or local that has obligated $90 billion in 77 days with the level of oversight that we need to enforce this very important trail."

Ninety billion. In 77 days. Like it's a good thing.

He also kept skirting the line between money "obligated," "contracted," and "dispersed."

May 01, 2009

More Poll Dancing

Sigh...another one of these. This time, it's a New York Times/CBS News poll, just in time to celebrate Obama's first 100 days in office. I'm not going to insinuate that this poll is untrustworthy because it comes from NYT/CBS, or because it's been linked to by articles singing its praises while all-but-ignoring its negatives. I'm going to tell you flat out that it's untrustworthy. How can it not be, when--for example--you notice that the percentage of Republicans is only 20 percent, compared to 38 percent Democrat and 36 percent Independent? That 20 percent is the absolute lowest percentage of Republican respondents in the included statistics, which go back to January of 1992. Is it really that surprising that Obama's approval rating went up 5% since February when the percentage of Republicans polled went down 6%, and Democrats went up 2%? I'm only surprised it didn't go up more.

It's also untrustworthy for questions such as this one:
Do you feel things in this country are generally going in the right direction or do you feel things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track?
This is what's known as a false dilemma. You only provide two options, one of which is in some way unsatisfactory, thereby influencing people to choose the other one. "America: love it or leave it!" is a good example. Here, you'll notice that you only have two options as well: the first one, that things are generally going in the right direction, and the second, that things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track. See? If you don't think things are seriously wrong (an extreme), you are left with only one other choice--that they're going in the "right" direction. This question is horribly worded, whether through deceit or incompetence. Seeing as this is from NYT/CBS, neither reason seems all that unlikely. This question should either have been written with balanced options:

In general, do you feel things in this country are going in the right direction or the wrong direction?

or with more alternatives:

How do you feel things are going in the country: seriously in the right direction; generally in the right direction; generally in the wrong direction; seriously in the wrong direction?

Why would NYT/CBS do this? Well, I suspect that it was an attempt to show how great the new administration is doing. "Look," they could trumpet, "the public thinks things are going great!"

Unfortunately for them, those polled must really think things are sucking hardcore because even with the obvious bias built into the question, they still thought by a 50-41 percent margin that we have gotten "pretty seriously off track." Of course, this still didn't stop news outlets from writing glowing articles about the poll. The CBS News headline:

Poll: 100 Days In, High Marks For Obama
On The Cusp Of His 100th Day, President Enjoys High Approval Ratings On A Host Of Issues - But Few Republicans Are On Board

Oh yes, those high the 54% who had a favorable opinion of Obama, down from 60% when he took office, and the percentage of those who had an unfavorable opinion of him in the same time period, which doubled, from 9% to 18%. High marks, indeed. Oh, and don't forget the people who are optimistic about the next four years with Obama--they dropped from 79% in January to 72%. Again, you should remember that the percentage of Republicans is the lowest since '92, which should be reflected by an increase in Obama's numbers.

I could go on, pointing out that although 68% of people thought he was a "different kind" of politician, only 9% thought it was because of his policies*, or that one of the choices in the question asking how many of his campaign promises Obama would be able to keep was "all of them," which--considering he's already broken several of them--is impossible. I could mention that the percentage of people who think Obama will divide different groups of Americans has increased ten points since November of last year, which is distressing for a president who ran, partly, on the idea of unification.

What's obvious here is that NYT and CBS put together a poorly written, slanted poll designed to artificially inflate Obama's numbers, and when that didn't work as well as they expected, they wrote puff pieces on it, highlighting the good, burying the not so good. I suppose we shouldn't be surprised. Even the NYT/CBS poll itself shows that the percentage of people who think the news media has "gone easier" on Obama than other candidates/presidents has steadily risen over the last year, from 24 to 40. 'Nuff said.

* I find it interesting that they used the term "different," since depending on one's mindset, "different" could be a positive or a negative.