Monthly Archives: January 2012

Sweet Jesus, These People Are Insane

Fuck you guys. This is bullshit.

Well, it’s February in Wisconsin. And that means it’s time for the Polar Plunge. That’s right. Every year, a bunch of totally insane motherfuckers jump into a hole cut into the ice as a way to raise money for the Special Olympics.

This year, friend of the blog and regular commenter Hobbes is taking the plunge. Sothrow her some cheddar so she can get wetter.

Also, our good friends the Mad Rollin Dolls also have a team jump.Help them out.

If you’re interested in other individual donations, check outAndi orPatty.

Go give some money, bitches!

It’s for a good cause, people. If you’ve got some spare change to toss this way, please do. I know the economy sucks and the world’s caving in around us, but this is one of those little things that we do to make life better for the people served by this organization; also, it increases the total amount of joy in the world, which makes it a better place for all of us. Cough up a buck, you cheap bastards.

Romney Comes to Save Our Souls

Mitt Romney, everybody:

President Obama’s view of capitalism is to send your money to his friends’ companies. My vision for free enterprise is to return entrepreneurship to the genius and creativity of the American people.

I want to give your money to MY friends! And then ruin their companies and steal it back from them!

This campaign is about more than replacing a President. It is about saving the soul of America.


Wait, wrong cult.

Like his colleagues in the faculty lounge who think they know better, President Obama demonizes and denigrates almost every sector of our economy.

Faculty. Education is for the homosexuals and ladies among us. I scratch myself in the general direction of the tenure committee!

President Obama believes America’s role as leader in the world is a thing of the past. He is intent on shrinking our military capacity at a time when the world faces rising threats. I will insist on a military so powerful no one would ever think of challenging it.

I will stand at the border with Canada yelling OH YEAH WHO FUCKIN’ WANTS SOME HUH while the Mounties and the moose look on confusedly.

President Obama has adopted a strategy of appeasement and apology. I will stand with our friends and speak out for those seeking freedom.

Like Osama bin Laden, who Obama apologized for killing, before he buried him with full Sharia law honors in Arlington.

Our plans protect freedom and opportunity, and our blueprint is the Constitution of the United States.

You are three-fifths of a person, and anyway cannot vote!

The path I lay out is not one paved with ever increasing government checks and cradle-to-grave assurances that government will always be the solution.

Government under my presidency will always be the problem!

I’m asking each of you to remember how special it is to be an American.

I want you to remember what it was like to be hopeful and excited about the future, not to dread each new headline.

I want you to remember when you spent more time dreaming about where to send your kids to college than wondering how to make it to the next paycheck.

I want you to remember when you weren’t afraid to look at your retirement savings or the price at the pump.

I’m asking you to remember when you were five, and Dad was going to slay the monsters under your bed. I am Dad, and government is paying the monsters in T-bone steaks and organic mushrooms, and I will defund those monsters, little sport. I will do it for America.

I want you to remember when our White House reflected the best of who we are, not the worst of what Europe has become.

Did a mime refuse to breastfeed Romney as a baby or something?


This election, let’s fight for the America we love. We believe in America.

White America. Where people vaccuumed in heels and called their children “the Beaver.” Let’s get back to that, amirite fellas?



Whose Life?

Susan G. Komen Foundation lowers the boom on Planned Parenthood:

The nation’s leading breast-cancer charity, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, is halting its partnerships with Planned Parenthood affiliates — creating a bitter rift, linked to the abortion debate, between two iconic organizations that have assisted millions of women.

The change will mean a cutoff of hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants, mainly for breast exams.

Planned Parenthood says the move results from Komen bowing to pressure from anti-abortion activists. Komen says the key reason is that Planned Parenthood is under investigation in Congress — a probe launched by a conservative Republican who was urged to act by anti-abortion groups.

Thank God none of the women in the photo accompany that story are sluts. Then they’d be out of luck.

When you start turning away from funding actual things that will help cure women of the disease you were founded to wipe out, you look like you are more invested in achieving political power than in saving women’s lives. Komen’s probably done more than just about any organization in terms of raising awareness of breast cancer, but pulling shit like this makes it look like all they’re after is helping companies produce pink merchandise that does zero good for actual real-life women.

Which is par for the course for movement pro-lifers, who want to outlaw abortion instead of ending it. They don’t mind being national Republicans’ political booty call every four years because the cocktail parties 4LYFE are awesome, so much more so than actual work. They’re all pleased as punch that Komen’s joined in the Planned Parenthood pig-fuck.Clownhall is overjoyed.

These wingnut assholes really won’t be happy until a lot more women are dead. From breast cancer, botched abortions, it really doesn’t matter. It boggles me, still, after years of mainlining this stuff, that this is the hill so many organizations have decided to die on. These are the friends they’ve decided to have, forsaking all others and any good they might have done, in service to one facet of a vicious, hateful ideology of fear. What does the world look like, we keep going like this?


Today in Total Nitwittery

If you own a toaster oven, you are not poor:

Poverty in America is certainly a serious problem, but the plight of the poor has been moderated by advances in the economy. Between 1970 and 2010, the net worth of American households more than doubled, as did the number of television sets and air-conditioning units per home. In his book“The Poverty of the Poverty Rate,” Nicholas Eberstadt shows that over the past 30 or so years, the percentage of low-income children in the United States who are underweight has gone down, the share of low-income households lacking complete plumbing facilities has declined, and the area of their homes adequately heated has gone up. The fraction of poor households with a telephone, a television set and a clothes dryer has risen sharply.

In other words, the country has become more prosperous, as measured not by income but by consumption: In constant dollars, consumption by people in the lowest quintile rose by more than 40 percent over the past four decades.

Income as measured by the federal government is not a reliable indicator of well-being, but consumption is. Though poverty is a problem, it has become less of one.

Look. I am not saying that there aren’t degrees here, and that by and large somebody living without INDOOR PLUMBING in 20FUCKING11 isn’t worse off than somebody who has it, but can we please stop with “your lack of income is not a problem if you have a waffle iron?” This line of thinking is a cousin to all those dicks who saw Slumdog Millionaire and were like, “Poor people in America have nothing to complain about har har har.”

Jude and I were talking about this recently, about just how few truly rich people have ever been to a second-hand store and know that you can get an air conditioner or a microwave for ten bucks. They might suck and be old, but they will be an air conditioner and a microwave and thus prove to this cockyank that you are not THAT poor. Not really poor. Not Charles Dickens/Appalachia movies poor.

Some apartments come with a washer/dryer. They’re still not mansions. Some apartments come with air conditioners. Doesn’t make them summer homes in the Caymans. I used to live in a place that was billed “luxury apartments” and once a friend came to visit and was all “ooh, fancy!” until I drove her around and showed her that all the apartment complexes in the area said “luxury,” regardless of how small/weird they were. And even if “luxury” meant something special (one place did have wood-burning fireplaces, which was kind of nice) it still wouldn’t make me Donald Trump.

American views about inequality have not changed much in the past quarter-century. In their 2009 book“Class War? What Americans Really Think About Economic Inequality,”political scientists Benjamin Page and Lawrence Jacobs report that big majorities, including poor people, agree that “it is ‘still possible’ to start out poor in this country, work hard, and become rich,” and reject the view that it is the government’s job to narrow the income gap.



The Ethics of Protecting the Powerful

You know, I’m really tired of journalistsequating “ethics” with cowardice:

At the time of my email, there was no heroic choice to be made: Pat was no longer a candidate for the Rhodes Scholarship. Days before, the Rhodes committee had suspended his candidacy after discovering that an anonymous woman had accused him of sexual assault. Yale officials knew about the complaint as early as September. It’s unclear if those directly responsible for endorsing Pat’s Rhodes application knew about the assault claim — or if the Yale administration decided to re-endorse Pat after being contacted by the Rhodes committee. Regardless, Pat was no longer a candidate on November 13, when he announced he would play in the Game, earning hero-worship at Yale and in the national media.


As current Science and Technology editor Eli Markham told me, the News’ editor-in-chief, Max de la Bruyere, decided to sit on the story in mid-November. “It’s more complicated than that,” he told a leader on last year’s editorial board, who asked to remain anonymous. Multiple current and past members of the newspaper’s managing board, all deeply involved in the day-to-day work of the paper, have confirmed that the News has had the story for over two months. In fact, the Times story that broke last night featured reporting from last year’s editor-in-chief, Vivian Yee. She too approached the paper with a tip-off, but its editorschose not to follow the story. The paper even knew that the sexual assault claim had lost Pat an offer to join the Boston Consulting Group after graduation. Even then, they wrote nothing. For reasons personal, social, or political — who can ever tell on a college campus? — the News’ management chose to ignore the bombshell, protecting Pat’s reputation.

The Yale Daily News editorresponds:

Soon after Patrick Witt ’12 announced his decision to play in The Game, the News received a tip that a Yale student had filed an informal complaint alleging sexual assault against the quarterback.

The student who had filed the complaint against Witt chose to make it informal. This meant that no disciplinary measures would be taken against Witt and that the complaint would be kept confidential. All parties involved observed that route of discretion. The complainant, the alleged perpetrator and all those who heard the case honored the discreet process. In order to be fair to all those involved and the process they had adhered to, and because the nature of the complaint meant that all its details remain allegations, the News chose not to print a story.

Is it your job to be fair to the process, though? To exercise discretion? To honor the system in place?

(And what in the blue hell is an “informal” complaint of sexual assault? Maybe a larger story is the messed-up-sounding “process” being followed here, in which someone can be accused of sexual assault but not, you know, seriously or anything. Not to mention what, if any, pressure was brought to bear on the accuser to make such a complaint “informal.”)

I wouldn’t bring this up just to join the pile-on on this student editor, who’s already facing an impressive amount of recrimination by everyone, except that I think there’s something in here that really needs addressing, something I’ve heard not only in the realm of student media but so-called professional journalism as well: That “ethics” demand that you hold off on a story because it’s going to piss a lot of sensitive people off at some kind of critical time and it would be so much more “ethical” not to do that.

We heard this in the 2004 election over theillegal wiretapping story, that the Times held onto it until it wouldn’t be quite so “inflammatory.” Until it wouldn’t matter, actually, all that much in the context of being able to affect the people in power, and thus no one would yell and scream and call them traitors. Except that everybody did anyway, and so there was really no point.

There is something ethical about seeking out a response from all possible actors in a system about which you are reporting. There isnothing “ethical” about withholding information that you know to be true in order to protect the powerful. Look, I am the most conflict-averse person on the planet. I don’t go looking for stories about things that are screwed up because it’s fun when people call me an ugly whore and make weird phone calls to my house. And I’d never judge you if you don’t like doing that either. But if you’ve appointed yourself to lead discourse in your community (or on your campus) and you’d just rathernot, okay, because it’s hard Mommy, I politely suggest that you find a job just as noble and worthwhile doing almost anything else.

Because if you are saying that you want to describe the world around you, and despite every attempt to mystify and professionalize it that ‘s all journalism is, then you’d better do it right and damn the torpedoes and damn who it upsets and damn respecting the process because none of that is your job.

Now that the Times broke the story, the Yale Daily News is all over it, andevery single story raises more questions than it answers:

The Times reported that the Rhodes Trust had learned of the accusation several days before Witt announced he would play in the Game and notified Yale that he would be ineligible for the scholarship unless University administrators re-endorsed his candidacy. According to Magazu, the Trust requested an additional letter of reference from Yale for Witt, though the scholarship was never “suspended.” But when asked to specify when Witt first learned that the Trust had been informed of the complaint, Magazu, who began representing Witt on Jan. 1, said he did not know. Magazu added that Witt did not ask University administrators for an additional letter of reference because he had already decided to withdraw his candidacy.


Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – Freepers For Newtie Edition

Well, gentle people, Jim Rob has come firmly down on the side of Newtie as the Anti-Romney, and as I predicted, the purges have begun.

Iso suits on, everybody, there’s no time to waste! (My, what a nice shiny new one Kibitzer has!)

The following thread waspulled(I’ve started copying them in toto and emailing them to myself rather than just bookmarking them), raising the question:Are we eating our own, now?

Gingrich Was No Coward, Just Corrupt
Commentary Magazine ^| 1-20-12 | Jonathon Toobin

Posted on Friday, January 20, 2012 5:13:45 PM byafraidfortherepublic

One of the interesting sidebars of last night’s debate was the fiery exchange between Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich over the latter’s “grandiose” ideas and unstable leadership style. During the course of this rhetorical dustup during which Gingrich took Santorum’s bait and took credit for the Reagan presidency, the defeat of the Soviet Union and the 1994 Republican Congressional victory. While the first two claims are the stuff of self-satire, Gingrich is surely entitled to puff his chest at the memory of his role in the GOP’s taking back the House for the first time in 40 years.

Alexander Burns of Politico recals that in 1992 the New York Times reported about Gingrich’s involvement in the banking scandal. Apparently, Gingrich was kiting checks along with the worst Democratic scofflaws. His 22 overdrafts including a $9,463 check to the IRS was a major issue in his re-election campaign that year and nearly cost him his seat which the then House Republican Minority held by a razor-thin margin of 982 votes that fall.

Santorum was wrong to imply that the Georgian didn’t get involved in exposing the House Bank scandal because he lacked the moxie to mix up with the Democratic poobahs. In fact, as Gingrich pointed out, he had already played the lead role in taking down former House Speaker Jim Wright. The real reason for Gingrich’s silence was far worse: conflict of interest.

Gingrich said nothing about the bank while Santorum stuck his neck out because he was as guilty as any of the Democrats who were caught bouncing checks at the bank at the taxpayers’ expense.
That information leaves us wondering why, if Santorum was going to bring up the scandal in the course of an attack on Gingrich, he pulled his punch. Wouldn’t it have been far more devastating to rightly accuse Gingrich of complicity in the scandal instead of wrongly accusing him of cowardice?

1 posted on Friday, January 20, 2012 5:13:49 PM byafraidfortherepublic
To: afraidfortherepublic
Wow. I had forgotten all about that scandal. Gingrich may be our candidate but I’m holding my nose all the way.

3 posted on Friday, January 20, 2012 5:26:29 PM byExtremeUnction
To: ExtremeUnction
global warmist, freddie mac, fidelity, Dede Scozzafava…
under no circumstances will I vote for him.

4 posted on Friday, January 20, 2012 5:31:07 PM byGeronL (The Right to Life came before the Right to Pursue Happiness)

To: GeronL
Ooh! Aren’t you just so special. Clearly you are an Obama supporter . . . or a Romney supporter.

9 posted on Friday, January 20, 2012 5:37:11 PM bySudetenland (Anybody but Obama!!!!)

There are a lot of “In before the Zot” posts, but “afraidforfreerepublic” still seems to have an account, even though the URL for the thread now directs to this:


This thread has been pulled.

Pulled on 01/21/2012 1:21:12 AM PST by Jim Robinson, reason:

taking out the trash

Of course, at this point in time, the “trash” is still piling up:

To: GeronL
“under no circumstances will I vote for him.”
Yeh as a registered Demorat I guess not.

14 posted on Friday, January 20, 2012 5:41:54 PM byGeorgia Girl 2 (The only purpose of a pistol is to fight your way back to the rifle you should never have dropped.)
To: Georgia Girl 2
I am as conservative as anyone on this forum. I do not belong to any political party and never will.

16 posted on Friday, January 20, 2012 5:44:23 PM byGeronL (The Right to Life came before the Right to Pursue Happiness)
Purity test! Purity test!

To: GeronL
I guess you think everyone on FR who supports Gingrich is an idiot.

Gingrich IS a “conservative, sport.”

21 posted on Friday, January 20, 2012 5:49:05 PM bySudetenland (Anybody but Obama!!!!)

There’s a spurious comma in your last sentence.
“Sport” is what they called people in Fitzgerald novels who couldn’t keep their pants zipped.

To: GeronL
I’m still gettin that demorat feelin.

Too bad you weren’t gettin that “learning how to spell” feelin.

25 posted on Friday, January 20, 2012 5:54:02 PM byGeorgia Girl 2 (The only purpose of a pistol is to fight your way back to the rifle you should never have dropped.)
To: Georgia Girl 2
Are you a Noob or something? I have been on FR for a very very long time. People know where I stand.

26 posted on Friday, January 20, 2012 5:56:51 PM byGeronL (The Right to Life came before the Right to Pursue Happiness)

To: GeronL; Sudetenland
I guess you think everyone on FR who supports Gingrich is an idiot. I would be very, very careful in answering that question.
JimRob doesn’t share your disdain for Newt
And neither do I.

31 posted on Friday, January 20, 2012 6:01:54 PM byYankee (ANNOY THE RNC AND THE MEDIA: NOMINATE NEWT GINGRICH!)
To: ventanax5
Last time I checked, King David was also an adulterer.

35 posted on Friday, January 20, 2012 6:09:03 PM byconservativebuckeye

To: narses; GeronL
Why are you posting that to GeronL? There is nothing in his posting past here to try and paint him as a “MittBot”.Are we eating our own now?

46 posted on Friday, January 20, 2012 6:22:12 PM byAzzurri

Why, yes – you are. And you’re yum yum yummy,
More catching up after the thingy.

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Ross Douthat: Love is a Bowl of Sugar


Many conservatives would go this far with Frank: Government is one way we choose to work together, and there are certain things we need to do collectively that only government can do.

But there are trade-offs as well, which liberal communitarians don’t always like to acknowledge. When government expands, it’s often at the expense of alternative expressions of community, alternative groups that seek to serve the common good. Unlike most communal organizations, the government has coercive power — the power to regulate, to mandate and to tax. These advantages make it all too easy for the state to gradually crowd out its rivals. The more things we “do together” as a government, in many cases, the fewer things we’re allowed to do together in other spheres.

I’ve noticed that we have no more private contractors, because we have an army. Before 1776, life was paradise for Blackwater but the minute we formed militias, they were fucked. Such a sad state for a glorious private enterprise.

Sometimes this crowding out happens gradually, subtly, indirectly. Every tax dollar the government takes is a dollar that can’t go to charities and churches.

Or to Applebees. Won’t the government think of the jalapeno poppers?

This is another “reasonable conservative” tic I’ve noticed from acquaintances of late: “I, personally, would give more money to charity or hire more people at my office if I paid less in taxes and various fees.” And yes, you, nice person that I know, probably would. Ross might actually give more to charity if he had that money laying around. Does that mean we should give EVERY rich person free money on the off chance one or two of them might kick in $25 to the local food pantry?

How is that any less governmental social engineering?

Every program the government runs, from education to health care to the welfare office, can easily become a kind of taxpayer-backed monopoly.

There is distinct lack ofsoup kitchens and food pantries, now we have a welare office. What a fucking idiot.

But sometimes the state goes further. Not content with crowding out alternative forms of common effort, it presents its rivals an impossible choice: Play by our rules, even if it means violating the moral ideals that inspired your efforts in the first place, or get out of the community-building business entirely.

This is exactly the choice that theWhite House has decided to offer a host of religious institutions — hospitals, schools and charities — in the era of Obamacare. The new health care law requires that all employer-provided insurance plans cover contraception, sterilization and the morning-after (or week-after) pill known asella, which can work as an abortifacient.

A) No, it doesn’t.

B) This does not, actually, violate the consciences of anybody, and here’s why: Hospitals and insurers only have to COVER contraception, andonly if they employ large numbers of non-Catholic employees. Nobody who is Catholic has to take it. Therefore, we should be counting on the large numbers of Catholics who are so serious about this shit that they won’t take the pill to stand up for their own morals and against the horror that is Obamacare.

I’ll give you a minute to stop laughing.

Ponder that for a moment. In effect, the Department of Health and Human Services is telling religious groups that if they don’t want to pay for practices they consider immoral, they should stick to serving their own co-religionists rather than the wider public. Sectarian self-segregation is O.K., but good Samaritanism is not.

Yes. Catholic hospitals are justin this for the decency of serving others. I’m not saying some of them weren’t, in the beginning, but you can’t pretend that a lot of this isn’t profit-driven, and a lot of that profit isn’t helped by massive tax exemptions.

The rule suggests a preposterous scenario in which a Catholic hospital avoids paying for sterilizations and the morning-after pill by closing its doors to atheists and Muslims, and hanging out a sign saying “no Protestants need apply.”

Actually, that is exactly what Catholics leaders are saying by choosing not to follow the law. You know, this is a thing I keep hearing from Catholic officials in other contexts, this constant talk about church canon law, as if that should supersede actual real-life American law. I’m pleased as punch we all have our own ways of doing things and our own rules, but when you get right down to it, if you want to be a member of a community, you have to do more than just loudly demand that the entire community “respect” your beliefs by changing its morality to suit yours.

The larger point Ross is making is actually more offensive, though: We can either have government or charity but not both. Our government cannot pursue any common good, because that will mean that everybody will assume shit is all handled and we can go back to watching the Super Bowl. If someone else has it taken care of, then I don’t need to give a shit.

I don’t know if Ross has met any of his fellow humans, but we’re actually not like that. I post a lot of stuff about how stupid and selfish and mean we can be, but I believe people are basically decent and that given half a chance we will help one another. Given half a chance and a bit of encouragement, we will feed the stranger and clothe the naked and take care of the grandma whose car broke down on the freeway. I know this because I’ve seen it happen at least as often as I’ve seen people be awful, and I choose to believe that love isn’t a bowl of sugar. There isn’t only so much. If our government takes care of many of us, we will still take care of each other, because that’s what we do. It’s in our bones and blood, and hundreds of years of inhuman cruelty haven’t beaten it out of us, not entirely.

Decent government that acts in our interests doesn’t kill the charitable impulse. It encourages it. It offers official approval of the nagging feeling in the pits of our stomachs that says, “somebody should be helping these people.” It represents, outwardly, the best of us, and the only reason Ross or anybody like him has a problem with that concept is they don’t want to be forced to give a shit about anybody but themselves.

And that’s fine, really. There are nice libertarian islands being built for people like that.



Sunday Morning Video: Jack Donaghy’s Guide To Intimidation

30 Rock is back so here’s a bit of warped wisdom from Jack:

Weekend Question Thread

Do you have a favorite restaurant? What is it?

There’s a Middle Eastern place not far from where we live that I swear puts crack of some kind in their falafel because HOMG. When I found out they delivered I was terrified I’d never leave the house again.


Student media at odds with educational paths

Loyalty and affiliation, once earned and given, become a large part of who we are. It is for this reason that I still wear T-shirts from my student media days, root for the Cleveland Browns through every double-digit loss season and have never once thought about “Newting” my wife.

It can also be something that blinds us a bit to the reality of our surroundings.

I thought about this when one of my previous stops along “career highway” fell into my newsfeed this week.The editor-in-chief of a blog that critiques the Mizzou J-School was told to resign from her post because she would be working at the Columbia Missourian that term.

The Missourian is a unique enterprise, by the very definition of the word. The one-of-a-kind media outlet is owned by the university, edited by faculty members and staffed by students. The paper is Columbia’s citywide a.m. daily and competes with an independent p.m. paper. (It also has obviously expanded into digital outreach over the years since I left.)

The students land on staff as writers, photographers, designers, copy editors and more when they sign up for specific classes that focus on writing, photography, design and so forth. In other words, to graduate in this program, they have to work at the paper. In order to work at the paper, they must not work at other competing media outlets, as per a conflict-of-interest policy.

This clearly bothered the founder of J-School Buzz, David “Teeg” Teeghman, who took to JSB and lambasted the decision. Aside from calling the policy “antiquated,”he explained his views on how the policy does a disservice to student journalists:

(Kelly) Cohen would have learned a few things as JSB’s editor-in-chief that she will never learn at the Missourian. She won’t learn much there about analytics, what content generates traffic and buzz, the difference between stories an audience “wants” and “needs,” how to run a popular news blog, how to respond to critical commenters and tweeters you know personally, how to keep a site running when it gets a rush of unexpected traffic, and so on. We can talk about how all the sequences are becoming converged, or whatever, but JSBers learn a unique skill set no other Mizzou newsroom can offer.

Comments from the current Missourian editor, Tom Warhover, and current and previous members of the Missourian crew take issue with various points Teeghman makes. To his credit, Teeghman clarified his original aims, defended some of his positions and made amends when it was clear he was wrong, all things I’d expect from any good journalist.

The policy isn’t new and this isn’t its first challenge. In the pre-blog days, the conflict had always been between the Missourian and the Maneater, the student-run paper. Students hated that they had to give up their allegiance to a paper that allowed them to do great journalism and run their own show to come to what they viewed as a weaker place to be told what to do. Students I knew often planned their Missourian terms around their Maneater desires. One kid kept taking summer courses to “get the Missourian over with” so he could get back to the paper and eventually run the place.

It wasn’t the greatest way to view the education you were shelling out tons of money for, but I did understand it.

And I do understand Teeghman’s desire to keep his brainchild up and running. On occasion, I’ll check in on a few projects I started at various stops in my career to see if they’re still going or not. I still hate one J-school that took a decent idea a couple of us built, bastardized the unholy hell out of it and then declared it a “great thing” despite protestations from students each term. I was also saddened to learn one project I launched, involving high school students and press freedom, was discontinued.

Still, as Thomas Wolfe once noted, you can’t go home again.

I also understand that student media outlets often find themselves scratching and clawing for respect and dignity, desires most professional media outlets simply dismiss as “cute.” It always galled me when the pro papers got dibs on a story because sources would call them first. I’d have six kids working on breaking a story in a student newsroom somewhere, backchannelling the shit out of something, begging for interviews and pursuing the piece with the vigor of starved pit bulls. Once it became clear the sources couldn’t stop us from publishing the thing, they’d call up the pro paper and just give them the whole story, which they’d publish before we could. It was infuriating.

It was also infuriating that these “important” outlets never wanted to give the student media their due. They’d take info from the student stories and offer no credit to the paper as a source. They’d be snotty to the kids at press conferences. They’d pretend that student media didn’t really exist.

My first job interview at a pro paper involved sitting down with the city editor and going through my clips. He was polite enough before asking which of the six stories I submitted that I liked the best.

“That one,” I said, pointing at a piece about a house party being busted and $80,000 in fines being levied against the hosts.

“Why?” he asked.

“Because I beat you guys on it.”

He gave me this whimsical look and explained that his paper had bigger concerns than this and how this kind of thing wasn’t a big deal. In other words, “We didn’t lose to you. We weren’t even playing the game. It wasn’t worth our effort.”


Still, the guy hired me and a few months later, the paper did an “in-depth look” at how cops were busting house parties and handing out monstrous fines. I’m sure in his mind, he still wasn’t behind the story. He was working on something much bigger and more important that we little student people couldn’t understand.

Despite all of this, I get the reason for the policy.

The paper has to look out for its own interests, but also the interests of the students. Even without a direct link to JSB, I’m imagining life in the Missourian newsroom for Kelly Cohen will be a bit awkward. It always was for the Maneater “lifers” who were sentenced to the term at the CoMo. When the Maneater broke a story and left the Missourian in the dust, these kids got the stink-eye. The prevailing thought: “You probably knew about this and didn’t tell us.”

Or, worse yet, when things happened around the Missourian that led to news, if the Maneater covered it, look out.

One year, a kid who was a reporter for the Missourian was busted for theft of some pricy artwork after he and several friends broke into a historic home on campus. As the Missourian was trying to figure out how to write this, word got around that a Maneater reporter was working on this story. One editor was really ticked off and was wondering aloud which of the Maneater kids in the newsroom had tipped our hand.

None had. Shockingly, the Maneater folks knew enough to… (gasp!) check the police blotter and (swoon!) interview people.

And this is with a policy that prohibits working for two places at once. Without the policy, I’m sure the paranoia would have been worse.

We all have to make choices in our lives as to where our loyalties lie and how we let them play out. Sure, it sucks for Teeghman that he’s being shorted a staffer and yet, anyone who knows anything about the school and its policies could see this coming. No, this policy isn’t antiquated or stodgy or whatever descriptor seems easiest to fling when you’re losing a fight like this one. Companies all over the place have rules about what you can and can’t do as a member of their organizations. When it was time to take that pro media job, I had to quit my gig as the city editor at the student newspaper. I was as pissed about this as Teegham is about the Cohen situation. I kept thinking, “This is horseshit. These people just don’t get who we are and what we do.” Eventually, I was the one who figured it out.

I also figured I didn’t want to become the real version of this fictional guy.

If it’s any consolation to Teeghman, I peek in on my other old jobs from time to time, but I’m not horribly invested. When the schools I graduated from call and ask for money, I politely decline.

However, when my student newspaper does its annual alumni fundraising drive, my check goes out in the mail the very next day.

Loyalty, once given, remains long beyond the strictures of policies and the reach of time.

Friday Ferretblogging: Bath Aftermath Edition

So Riot’s almost completely bald now, and not much in need of submersion cleaning. The other three, though, have devoted the past couple of months to becoming filthy little critters, and with the arrival of several days’ worth of houseguests it was time to tidy them up a bit. 

Easiest way to dry them off afterward? Fill up the bathtub with towels and let them have at it:


Friday Catblogging: Vintage Oscar

Here’s Oscar during our Katrina exile in Baton Rouge:


To the moon, Newt


Newt Gingrich seems to be channeling either Jackie Gleason or Ray Bradbury right now. Personally, I think alunar base would be awesome in a sci-fi, Trekkie kinda way but the Apollo program, uh, took off when the economy was purring like a cat with a Harley implant. I wouldn’t, however, object if we sent Newt to the moon: he could be the Lunar Kaiser instead of a mere candidate pandering to Florida’s Space Coast.

Makes Me Wonder More ‘What’s in the Water?’ There


I realize “Low-Double-Digit-IQ-and-Oklahoma-State-Senator” isn’t exactly news, but this, no pun intended, truly takes the cake:

Oklahoma GOP State Senator Ralph Shortey is on a mission to finally put an end to his state’s allegedly rampant cannibalism problem. Alarmed after his own research, which consisted of reading a nameless report stating that companies have used stem cells in the production of food, Shortey introduced a bill that would prohibit the manufacturing and sale of food “which contains aborted human fetuses.”

Chicken embryos, though, are on their own…

Wednesday Night Music: Impossible Germany

W is for Wednesday and also for Wilco:

Caption This: Laundromat Edition

We’ve been captioning Newt a lot lately so it’s time to take on Mr. 13/9%:


Paging the ghost of Upton Sinclair

The real surprise isn’t thatthis happened, it’s the fact that the plant actually got caught. That they did this in the first place speaks to the impotent (by design) oversight of our “reasonable and predictable regulatory structure” that guy with the purty hair brags about.

Damn those good-for-nothingunmanned drones.

What We Can Afford

This one burns a little hotter than all the other rage-inducing hippie-punching poor-hating nonsense coming out of Wisconsin’s legislature on a daily basis:

In the Wisconsin Legislative session of 2009-2010, a bill passed both the Senate and Assembly providing health insurance to the families of firefighters killed in the line of duty. For reasons unknown to me, police officers were not included in this legislation. However, in May of 2011, a bipartisan effort led by Republican Senator Van Wanggaard and Democratic Senator Bob Jauch sought to remedy this. Senate Bill 18 added the health insurance protection to the surviving spouses and children of Wisconsin’s fallen law enforcement officers, retroactively. The bill passed the Senate on May 17, 2011 by unanimous vote.


At the last minute, the Republican legislators in control of the Assembly blocked the bill from being brought to a vote. BLOCKED the bill that unanimously passed the Senate. From what I have discovered, the Birkholz family was given the choice of coming to the Capitol for the resolution only, but understandably opted not to attend. In a horrendous display of partisan politics in what should have been a unifying issue, John Jagler, spokesperson for Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, called SB 18 an “unfunded mandate” on local governments that “isn’t ready to become law.”

An unfunded mandate? Okay, I’ll play. An unfunded mandate is a bad thing, let’s stipulate.

THEN FIND A WAY TO FUND THE THING. You know, like we do for wars, tax incentives for corporate headquarters construction, festivals and parties for rich people, and the goddamn fireworks. Find the money. You don’t want your taxes going to the freeloading families of dead cops? Fine. Find a sponsor. Maybe one of those corporations we’re handing out free money to can kick in the necessary amount. But don’t just sit there and say oh, it’s too hard, let’s just kick back and bitch about how we can’t do anything for people who sign up to GET KILLED IN OUR DEFENSE anymore. Take it away, Journal-Sentinel commenters!

This is another perfect example of a feel-good idea that we simply cannot afford. Giving this kind of benefit to surviving spouses, which happens nowhere except in the public sector, is the kind of spending that has gotten us to the point we’re at now – nearly bankrupt.

A feel-good idea. That’s what health insurance for other people is. A feel-good idea. Yep. It does in fact feel good to take care of people who’ve suffered an unimaginable tragedy in defense of the public. You know why it feels good? BECAUSE IT IS GOOD. That’s a sign that we should DO it. That impulse that tells you what the right thing to do is? You LISTEN to that. You don’t take it out behind the barn and kick it to death.

I feel like we could all use a refresher course in this right here: In the past 10 years we have managed to find the money for massive tax breaks for wealthy people, two unwinnable wars, a bunch of drone attacks to blow up stuff in a couple of other countries, secret service protection for various morons running for office or actually in it, and yes, the president’s vacations. In Wisconsin alonemillions of dollars are going to go to companies that do what they’re already supposed to do, which is hire people to do stuff.

But we can’t afford to give health insurance to the families of people who die serving the public. That, we can’t pay for. That’s fiscally irresponsible. That’s an unfunded mandate. That’s a bridge too far. And lest we get all crazy about “well, my family doesn’t have that guarantee,” hey, guess what. The point of us as people is not to make sure everybody’s life sucks just as much as yours sucks. The point of us as people is to make things better.

So light ’em up:

The following politicians are responsible for the failure to bring this bill to a vote. Please send them emails on behalf of Ashley Birkholz and the families of Wisconsin’s other fallen heroes, and ask everyone you know to do the same. Please spend 5 minutes of your time serving those who sacrificed their lives serving us. Demand of these legislators that they bring this important piece of legislation to an immediate vote.

Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald:

Representative Bill Kramer:

Representative Dan Knodl:

Representative Joan Ballweg:

Representative Mary Williams:

Representative Samantha Kerkman: