The Watering Hole: Wednesday, June 22, 2011: Hump Day

All hail the Queen!

It is high time we repealed this portion of Article 1, Section 9 of the United States Constitution:

“No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States”

We have our de facto ruling class, all they lack are the Titles so that we may more easily recognize who owns our fiefdoms.

We already have Palin and Bachman vieing for Queen, while Gingrich and Romney would be King, if given the opportunity.

There is an added benefit to having royalty: those in the lines of succession would constantly be bumping each other off to gain a higher position: and royalty leads to inbreeding – to keep the bloodlines “pure”, which, in turn, guarantees that within a few generations, the offspring of the ruling class will be imbeciles.

This is our daily open thread. So, open up!

171 thoughts on “The Watering Hole: Wednesday, June 22, 2011: Hump Day

  1. within a few generations, the offspring of the ruling class will be imbeciles.

    If any of the current GOP crop of candidates should happen to ascend to the throne of American royalty next year, “generations” will not be required to produce imbeciles — the ascension alone will satisfy that little detail! 🙂

  2. Don’t forget the “Czars” you can’t have an inefficient, top heavy, sloth like, self important bureacracy without giving some one in an alphabet agency the title of “Czar”

  3. good stuff, BNF

    (though in reality the ‘royal inbreeding” meme is just a collective ad-hominem device of anti-monarchist republicans/democrats that is a poor substitute for rational argument against monarchy.. Historically a given ‘royal family’ would manufacture a marriage with another ‘royal family’, that would be of different genetic stock, for political reasons and nothing else—and often with the unintended consequence of then creating in the next generation more claimants to a throne).. . .

  4. Well….when you have to pretty much be a millionaire these days in order to be able to run for office. I don’t think our founding fathers had this in mind…or did they? Now we have mostly lawyers and businessmen in DC, when we should have more teachers, policemen, Veterans, steel workers, average Americans in office, who aren’t out of touch with their constituents.

    But being the cess pool that Washington DC is, Mother Theresa could become a Senator and become corrupt. That’s the nature of the beast in our politics these days. It’s all about the dollars.

    • Actually, the Founding Fathers felt the wealthy should hold office, with little or no remuneration – as a way of giving back to the Country that gave them the opportunity to become wealthy in the first place.

      Now the wealthy run for office, not to give back, but to take more. The altruism of the Founding Fathers has been replaced by selfishness.

      • In addition they weren’t keen on the establishment of formal political Parties either, as they considered that such would lead to….well…politics rather than policy, and they weren’t far wrong. .

      • Did it say anything about getting a pension or free health care too? Whenever I hear ojne of these sanctimonious twats talk about ‘public service’ I want to cock-punch them

    • The founding fathers were amongst the wealthiest of their time, and the original qualifications to vote were based on ‘means’, which was conventional wisdom at the time—a person of “means” would be inherently be an educated or at least responsible voter.

      What seems to distinguish the F-F oligarchy from the present is that many of them were much like the “philosopher kings” that Plato imagined. They examined the nature of government and the governed and sought to establish a political/social system that would provide stability and equality as much as possible—thus the tiered system of representation of the popular vote AND the electoral college, the House and the Senate.

      One great thing about the F-F’s is that defined a system of governance and government based on rationality derived from extensive debate—-not from the messy accumulation of precedences established by a sequence of successive systems of self-interest (the ‘royals and their internecine exchanges of power based on political connections or just plain thuggery).

    • Oh and the tricky thing is, a politician of modest means might be tempted to manipulate his position to improve his finances, whilst a wealthy politician who doesn’t need to improve his finances seems just as likely to do the same, only without an ‘excuse’. .

    • Interesting.

      However, this paragraph is nonsense:

      “This Amendment was for the specific purpose of banning participation in government operations by attorneys and bankers who claimed the Title of Nobility of “Esquire.” These people had joined the International Bar Association or the International Bankers Association and owed their allegiance to the King of England”

      “Esquire” wasn’t a “Title Of Nobility” as the writer means it—it wasn’t hereditary and had no power or ‘means’ attached to it. It was a title provided BY nobility to those in their direct service.and an Esq’s allegiance was also to the Monarch by virtue of the noble’s allegiance to the monarch—until such time as the noble decided to oppose the monarch, in which case the Esquire’s allegiance remained with the noble. not the monarch. and that was the case in the Middle Ages NOT 1812.

      The Esquire title became essentially an acknowledgement of ;”legal;standing”,qualification being the mark of a lawyer and/or a person of “means” thereby qualified for political and thus legislative influence. The Agricultural Revolution turned some ordinary farmers into commercially and thus politically significant people, and they adopted the term Esq. to reflect their status of ‘means’. The “country (e)squire”. actually marked a self-made man status that was NOT an investment from a noble. It was actually a deceleration of independence FROM nobility and a claim of social equivalence to nobility by virtue of effort rather than inheritance.


  5. The so-called “Electoral College,” though not mentioned by name anywhere in the Constitution, is more-or-less laid out and defined in Article II, Section 1, Clauses 1-4. Perhaps it all made some sense 235 years ago — before the age of TV networks, with near instant vote counting by computers and projected winners based on exit polls; perhaps it made sense when the results from each state had to be carried on horseback to Washington DC in the form of a list, which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President …

    It doesn’t make any sense anymore, and a simple amendment to the Constitution which mandates direct election of the President by the vote of the people should have been passed and put in place decades ago. Why? Simple answer: George W. Bush would never have been President of the United States, and therefore the nation would still have a chance of survival. Such was not, unfortunately, the case in 2000; therefore the end is now in view, rapidly approaching imminent.

    • Even with the electoral college in place, I’m not sure GWB should have been president. The constitution says the states shall choose its electors in a manner prescribed by the state’s legislature. That’s what Florida was attempting to do before SCOTUS stripped it of its right to do so.

    • The essential purpose of the Electoral College was to filter-out destabilizing and potentially destructive populist movements.

      The founding fathers knew that popular support for actual revolution was made possible as much by emotional manipulation and propaganda–because they were the ones who provided a lot it— as it was by rational argument, so by the same taken and by the same means the new Republic could be as easily destroyed as the old colonial system (the inherent flaw of simple democracy is that it can vote for its own dissolution or replacement by tyranny—viz. Hitler and the Nazis).

      Perhaps it all made some sense 235 years ago — before the age of TV networks, with near instant vote counting by computers and projected winners based on exit polls”

      The mechanistic function of the Electoral College in tabulating votes was appropriate and convenient, at the time and yes in the present it is irrelevant, BUT clearly the present access to and speed of information has not produced a better-informed electorate and in fact the media-scape clearly enables self-destructive populism, viz the Teabaggers.

      It;s hard to research quickly, but I recall reading that roughly half the various States’ Electoral Colleges vote in compliance with their states’ popular vote, the others are free to to ignore the state popular vote result. I think this is due to the 12th amendment ( and surely relates to the 10th Amendment). Depending on how these are distributed regarding the number of college votes ascribed to each state it is obvious that any state (or states) with the freedom to ignore its popular vote could prevent the election of a winning national popular candidate, and of course this has happened .several times.

      • The essential purpose of the Electoral College was to filter-out destabilizing and potentially destructive populist movements.

        And it worked precisely opposite in 2000. Bush had already lost the popular vote, the only contending issue was that if he won the FL electoral vote, he would be the new president, which he became thanks to SCOTUS even though Gore won the national popular vote. Time to get rid of the EC, the sooner the better.

  6. Good article BNF. With Palin and Bachman, however, you already have a head start on the imbecile factor, though!

  7. BnF – Thanks for the reminder.

    Just stopping by briefly to say a quick “hello” from Naples (too, f**king hot), FL. We are visiting my husband’s parents. While here, my mother-in-law broke her hip (left trochanter) and is now in the hospital. We spent some time driving around Naples. There are more shopping malls and stores than there are permanent residents in this town. Very, very, very Republican. It is too hot to spend much time outside. Even the beach and the Gulf water is too hot so I feel trapped indoors. Today I have a brief opportunity to log in at B & N. Thank you free Starbucks/B&N free internet. I’ll be getting back to you folks in a few days. Until then, stay well.

  8. I wonder how long a person has to hold an office before they can forever claim the title of that office?

    Certainly if a person meets their demise, then I think their legacy should be able to use the title.

    But if a person voluntarily chooses to leave office before one term is up, I’m not sure they’ve earned the title. Could I run for election, take the oath, and immediately resign and be able to use that title for the rest of my life?

    • How to Address Former Officials

      Former office holders go back to whatever they were before they were governor. Only a Governor in office is formally and officially addressed as Governor (name). The reason? There is only one Governor at at time, and it’s not respectful of the current office holder to refer to former office holders as it they were still in office.
      I know we hear newscasters referring to former governors as “Governor.” But officially is incorrect.
      — Robert Hickey

      • Thanks ebb. That’s quite interesting.

        So, it should be Mayor Palin then? She was a Mayor before. So according to the link, former mayors are referred to as “The Honorable.”

        The Honorable Sarah Palin

        That’s just wrong on every level.

  9. Just a quickie from TP:

    By a 44 percent to 34 percent margin, more Americans say they believe they are worse off than when President Obama took office. The Bloomberg poll finds that more than “half of respondents say their children are destined to have a lower standard of living than they do.”

    This is true. But they are also worse-off since the GOP regained control of the House and the governorships of many states, and the principle reason they are all worse off is because of the groundwork laid by Republicans BEFORE Obama took office (notwithstanding Obama’s idiotic “bipartisan” magic pony rides that have done practically nothing to even halt the overall worsening trend of the average persons situation, . .

    • 5th, I saw that too, and I had a reaction similar to yours. It’s an arbitrary point in time. You could easily ask it about “since GWB was first elected” or as you point out “since the GOP governor in your state was elected” or “when the GOP took control of your legislature.”

      And the House GOP has done nothing about jobs. Corporate America (controlled largely by right-wing CEOs) are sitting on mountains of cash, and doing nothing about jobs. This is all, of course, to make sure Obama fails.

      • And the news is reporting that Biden and the rest are close to a sell-out to raise the debt ceiling…..

    • They could have posed the question this way:

      Joe Smith had an ingrown toenail removed in January, 2009. Are you better off or worse off today than you were when Joe had his surgery?

      … and the answer would have probably been exactly the same.

  10. Interesting; TP has posted an appeal for donations. I wonder if that’s because of their expanded roster, their reduced traffic (read ad dollars), or a bit of both?

  11. …just to toss this about…I DID have a chuckle…

    TP is having a fund raiser…asking for 5 bucks, wanting $20K to keep the show going.

    hehehehe…What’s the problem? It would be fun to know how many of those FBers and Tweeters are going to pony up some bucks…and how they drove away their most reliable posters, that are now here.

    What was that? You reap what you sow?

      • I decided not to contribute as soon as I discovered that they were unable and unwilling to consider the requests and concerns of their readers and contributors. But? I don’t think that a sudden drop in donations is their problem. As I understand it; web sites receive ad dollars based on traffic. If traffic goes down? Ad dollars go down.

        In my case, since I no longer feel welcome to comment, I just read their rss feed and don’t bother opening the individual articles so I assume that they are not getting as many “hits”. I suppose I’ll relent and click on a few headlines, now and then, but I’m not going to go any more until and unless they change to a more user friendly format that doesn’t demand I subscribe to a third party service for which I have no use or desire.

        • Also. I haven’t checked in awhile but based on the number of comments they were getting, and figuring on 5 bucks a pop, that should net them a cool 100 bucks or so.

  12. Here’s a bone-chilling piece for all of us who think Bachmann’s run at the White House is too silly for words.

    These are the last two paragraphs, but you really do owe it to yourself to read the whole piece.

    Even other Republicans, it seems, are making the mistake of laughing at Bachmann. But consider this possibility: She wins Iowa, then swallows the Tea Party and Christian vote whole for the next 30 or 40 primaries while Romney and Pawlenty battle fiercely over who is the more “viable” boring-white-guy candidate. Then Wall Street blows up again — and it’s Barack Obama and a soaring unemployment rate versus a white, God-fearing mother of 28 from the heartland.

    It could happen. Michele Bachmann has found the flaw in the American Death Star. She is a television camera’s dream, a threat to do or say something insane at any time, the ultimate reality-show protagonist. She has brilliantly piloted a media system that is incapable of averting its eyes from a story, riding that attention to an easy conquest of an overeducated cultural elite from both parties that is far too full of itself to understand the price of its contemptuous laughter. All of those people out there aren’t voting for Michele Bachmann. They’re voting against us. And to them, it turns out, we suck enough to make anyone a contender.

    • The scariest part is that it’s really up to the press/media. I’ve forgotten where I saw the story but even some Reichwhiners turn on Batscat Shelly when they learn more about her total lack of production in Congress, her farm subsidies and other government handouts, her shady contributors, and, oddly enough, her unabashed desire to govern based on her own interpretation of the Buybull.

      If (and it’s a big scary IF!) the press/media accurately reports her words and actions she won’t stand a chance in the general even if she manages the nomination.

    • More Taibbi on Bachmann:

      “In modern American politics, being the right kind of ignorant and entertainingly crazy is like having a big right hand in boxing; you’ve always got a puncher’s chance. And Bachmann is exactly the right kind of completely batshit crazy. Not medically crazy, not talking-to-herself-on-the-subway crazy, but grandiose crazy, late-stage Kim Jong-Il crazy — crazy in the sense that she’s living completely inside her own mind, frenetically pacing the hallways of a vast sand castle she’s built in there, unable to meaningfully communicate with the human beings on the other side of the moat, who are all presumed to be enemies.”

  13. In 1965, the year I turned 23, I pondered the option of jumping off of ship USA and leaving for good. That was the year when I had to drop out of grad school and get the kind of job that would give me a deferment, keep me out of what I saw as the mass stupidity of Vietnam. It was either that or try to sneak into Canada. I got “lucky” and snagged the right job, just in the nick of time.

    In the early 80’s, around the time of my fortieth b-day and roughly coincident with my catching on to what Reagan and the ‘new’ GOP had in mind, I seriously pondered a move to New Zealand, or maybe eastern Australia. Nah, I finally decided, things in the US aren’t really THAT bad and will surely improve soon enough, no sense getting uppity. Then came two children and some good times in my little ag business, and the decision to stay here was pretty much carved into stone.

    Then came Clinton in the WH along with the economic uplift we all presumed was waiting; the idiot party was obviously finished once and for all and for good. The sky was bright, the future secure.

    Then the sky fell in. I was between grand mal seizures and awaiting brain surgery the day my daughter drove me to the polls so I could vote against George W. Bush. Next thing I remember was turning on the TV over my bed in intensive care, watched a few minutes of Bush’s inauguration, then fell asleep and missed what surely must have been a scintillating speech.

    Now I’m too damn old to do what I wish I’d have done in 1965, or in 1982.

    Too soon old, too late smart (old Midwest saying). And now, speaking of the Midwest, here comes Michelle Bachmann, my birth state Minnesota’s fifth presidential candidate in my lifetime (the other four by name: Harold Stassen, Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale, and Tim Pawlenty).– overall two from the stratosphere and three from the bottom of a stagnant pond. Could be worse I suppose — like the pond dwellers could be from Texas or something.

    I remember all the hope in 2008. Where’d it go?

  14. Given the above convo about TP’s donation drive, I had been working on a prospective post but it got a bit out of hand—Zooey and Wayne know what I mean ‘cos they saw the draft and critiqued it. But here’s a shorter, less unhinged and bitchy version that more appropriate to the general classy tone of The Zoo.


    24 Hours of Think Progress June 18-17 2011

    Post # Comments

    Bachmann 7
    June 17 Morning Briefing 4
    Dan Choi Rips Flyer 34
    Norquist 21
    NewsFlash 5
    GOP Freshman 10
    Perry’s Texas 26
    Scott Walker 20
    NewsFlash 8
    Target Anti-Union 9
    Weiner /Vitter 114
    NewsFlash 55
    Signing Statements 12
    Bachmann 254
    NewsFlash Weiner 10
    June 16 Morning Briefing 9

    Quick comparison with The Zoo
    The Watering Hole: June 16.
    Education: 313

    Note: Excepting the Bachmann post, The Zoo had as much commenting activity as Think Progress on the same day.

    I began commenting at Think Progress in 2006 (roughly) and ended in 2010. I seem to remember an “average post would get 50-150 comments, a ‘hot-topic’ would go from 150-300 and during major political activity there’d be 600-750 comments on some posts. The regular commenting community increased noticeably between 2006 and 2008—I’d estimate the ‘community’ doubled.

    From 2008 Think Progress was provided national exposure by pundits on the Left (as a story source) and Right (as a new enemy). Over the past two years there’s been plenty to discuss—arguably a lot more (or a lot more of significant issues rather than the usual Left-right arguing over whose politicians are most despicable) so why are the above comments statistics so low?

    Some commenters may have become exhausted, some may have become unemployed and can’t afford the Internet access anymore, but in my last 12 months of TP commenting I saw plenty of new names show up even as some familiar ones disappeared.

    Think Progress’s integration of Facebook login/authentication software has pissed-off the TP veterans here at The Zoo—an impressive feat given their histories at Think Progress which, like mine, extend over years. The Critter’s kvetching isn’t mere petulance at having to deal with a new login procedure—we all coped with the Disqus method introduced a couple of months ago (and now abandoned for Facebook.

    Now, I find myself drawing a parallel between TP and Obama:

    Obama has ignored those who assisted him to power in favor of those who supposedly might provide him with more power (or ‘reach), as represented by his acquiescence to Wall Street interests and foolish courting of GOP approval and input.
    TP’s adoption of Facebook is quite analogous; TP imagined that FB would increase traffic and thus impart greater ‘power’ in marketing terms. Instead the adoption of FB has not only not appreciably increased traffic and thus potential influence by virtue of an expanded constituency; it has resulted in an obvious loss of its original constituency, such as those here at The Zoo and is now the weaker for it. .

    • “TP imagined that FB would increase traffic and thus impart greater ‘power’ in marketing terms.”

      Hmmm…Like in The Music Man or The Pied Piper? sold a “bundle of goods” by the fast-talkers FB Marketing maybe?

    • A few points.

      The comment counts on TP’s posts do not include replies. So the actual number of comments is higher than what you’ve stated. That isn’t to say they’re not lower than before, but not as low as you indicated.

      I’m not sure it’s accurate to say that the number of comments is a reflection of the amount of traffic the site gets. Traffic could very well be up and comments down. Comments on a given site could also go way up and overall traffic could go down.

      I also am not sure it makes sense to compare the comment counts here to there. It feels like an apples to oranges comparison to me. There’s a stronger social component to this site (which is my understanding as to why this site got launched in the first place; TP didn’t want the socializing to take place there).

      I realize I’m in the minority here, and I probably come across as a TP apologist. I’m not. I’m not particularly pleased with the changes either, but I still find TP’s content to be invaluable. I’m just trying to keep the conversation factual and non-emotional. And in terms of traffic and funding for TP and CAP, there are simply not a lot of facts on the table right now; just our anecdotal observations; many of which seem to be laced with the sting that we’ve somehow been slighted by the changes there.

      • Zxbe…

        I certainly wasn’t aware of a reporting distinction between Comments and Replies; I just added:up the comment counts the present TP system displays. I just checked and you are correct about that

        You are correct about the distinction between “traffic” and “comments”—I was talking about the comment ‘traffic’, not site hits, but even so, the case I made is indeed flawed,

        As Colbert likes to say “You sir, are a formidable opponent!” 😀 (I made a lousy argument)

        (Actually , I’m just looking at Alexa now, to get a better informed view of exactly effects TPs change has produced).

        • I’m glad you took my post in the spirit in which it was intended. I had to run off to a meeting after I wrote it, and was worried it might come across the wrong way. 🙂

          • I;m responding here hours later…

            I appreciate your worry, zxbe, and I’m glad for the both of us that you’ve found your worry less than serious, but sorry to have caused such worry in the first place. It was a confusing and confused comment, and you had the grace to not get bent out of shape because of it. (Zooey and Wayne saw my first much longer version draft and were supportive of some of it but weren’t particularly keen on it overall/ The comment was supposed to be a more rational version that I posted as the opportunity suddenly arose. It still sucked, and you pointed that out. .


            • 5th, I’m excited to finally get a chance to interact with you on a regular basis. I came to the zoo around the time you were sans access.

              I think you and I can enjoy a fun, and spirited, give and take; such as we’re doing today. 🙂

      • The fact is that TP never responded to the wishes of their most loyal readers and contributors. Making commenting dependent on subscription to a third party, that I neither want or need, was the final straw. I don’t buy gas from certain companies and I don’t even patronize their stations if I’m walking by and want a soda. I don’t buy software or services from Microsoft because I’ve been consistently disappointed (to put it very mildly) by their products. I don’t have anything against Yahoo except that it interferes with my Gmail account that I’ve happily used for years. I would rather gargle ground glass and gasoline than open a FB account just for the purpose of regaining the privilege of commenting at TP.

        I do have another issue. Since their expansion they have tried to become more like the “big guys” by including pop culture and entertainment news. It hasn’t become as ridiculous as HuffPo, for example, but it has diminished their standing as a “hard” political news source with progressive sensibilities. I think it’s also pretty clear that they’ve screwed the pooch re: their revenue.

        As I understand things; ad dollars for blogs are dependent on the number of “hits” they receive. I think that the fact that they are begging for $20k is an indication that their hit counts are going down.

        I have never been shy about giving my opinions about how TP runs their blog because they do, or did, actually represent us. Their inability and unwillingness to control the most egregious of trolls reflects badly on us and I actually grew to dread the mentions TP would get in the national media because that meant new people might stop by and witness the cess-pool nature of the conversations. They could have regained reader loyalty and improved their image, and probably increase their hit count, if they had just assigned someone to spend a few minutes a day removing the crap. Instead? They chose to go with FB, and more soft news, and now their traffic and reputation is falling.

        I still read and appreciate their reporting but my needs and their format have gone in opposite directions. I won’t rule out the possibility that we could grow closer but, given their history, I don’t think it’s likely. Plus, the fact that they are begging for funds so soon after the change would indicate that many, if not most, of their readers feel the same way.

    • I found this over at Talking Points Memo.

      FAQ: Registering to Comment and Logging Into TPM

      Why did Talking Points Memo get rid of the old login system?
      The basic reason is, our old login system was breaking down. It simply could not handle our growth. We realized we could not use our resources and money to continually patch bugs, so we decided to build a new system from scratch — one that was stable and could accommodate new features. This decision was not taken quickly or capriciously. So we built a new system based on the OAuth framework, which is quickly becoming an industry standard.

      TPM’s system uses Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, and OpenID. This appears similar to what TP is using, but not the same. Both may be based on this OAuth framework.

      This next question is the biggest difference between TPM and TP.

      If I use Facebook or Twitter to log into TPM and if I comment on TPM, will Facebook and/or Twitter users get to see what I wrote in the comment?
      No. If you choose to log in through Gmail or Facebook, we will NOT send any of your information back to them. To be clear, if you comment on TPM, your comment will ONLY appear on TPM. It will not show up on Facebook, Twitter, Gmail or Yahoo.

      Looking through the rest of the FAQ, they address the third party cookie issue I was experiencing, although I ran Disqus with them blocked with no problems. I haven’t seen any FAQ link at TP to help in the transition. Do they even have one?

      From what I am seeing, at TPM, the comments stay put once they are made. At TP, comments come and go for no obvious reason. Supposedly the comments are archived at Facebook? I’m using hotmail, so I don’t know. That part of the new system is totally useless to me.

      There are better systems out there than what TP chose. I am convinced of it. Too many other blogs are doing a better IT job than TP.

      If TP ceases to exist, as they claim:
      We need to raise $20,000 in the next week to keep this show on the road.
      Or what? God will call them home? Holy Oral Roberts, Batman!

      • I’m sure Bill-O will have a field day talking about Soros needing donations to keep his site afloat!

    • It’s ok, soap…you seem to be doing quite well with your own ‘clean-up’!

      Unfortunately, the template for this site doesn’t allow for editing unless you’re an administrator.

      But, heck, most of the time I don’t catch your typos until you post a correction…so don’t sweat it.

  15. Sea Of Trash Transformed Into Educational Art

    Members of the Oregon-based Washed Ashore project collected approximately 7,000 pounds of trash from 20 miles of beaches along that state’s coast to craft the sculptures.
    “I came to the ocean to heal, but I found an ocean that needed healing,” Pozzi said. “Like many people, I walked with blinders on, past the garbage, wanting to only see the ocean.”
    “The problem of plastic pollution in the ocean is huge, so the artwork had to be massive in order to get the message across.”

  16. Ruh-roh:

    “Security officials say 57 militants, mostly from al-Qaida, have escaped from a prison in southern Yemen. They say the 57 were among 62 inmates from the Mukalla jail in the Hadarmout province who escaped Wednesday through an underground tunnel. Bands of gunmen attacked the prison simultaneously, opening fire on the guards from outside to divert their attention away from the escape.”

    Jane Novak smells a conspiracy:

    “The escape is one part of the state’s plan of generating al Qaeda chaos. There is a high likelihood that the escape was arranged by the head of the security forces like Ahmed, Saleh’s son or one of the nephews. These officials are also the US’s important partners in counter-terror efforts and have been the recipients of millions in counter-terror funding.”

  17. Faiz Speaks… About 40 minutes ago:

    Faiz Shakir · Georgetown University Law Center

    “Our current comments system definitely has some issues. We’ve noticed that some comments disappear for no reason, and we are trying to solve that. But, it is a way better solution than our previous systems, which didn’t allow for conversation as much as an open forum for anything. While the quantitative number of comments has gone down (while our web traffic has gone up), the quality of the posts is much better. I appreciate everyone giving this new system a chance to work for a while longer before coming to a determination about it.”

    • • Phffffffffft.

    • While the quantitative number of comments has gone down (while our web traffic has gone up), the quality of the posts is much better.

      What about the quality of the comments?

      • I believe he is equating ‘comment’ to ‘posting’ the way he’s constructed that sentence.

        An interpretation can be – the numbers are down, the quality of those comments, now appearing, are better.
        Perhaps he’s doing the “‘nana nana’ it’s better with out the ‘regulars’!”

        • I don’t agree that the comments are better, if that’s what Faiz meant.

          This is very little give and take, or conversation going on. There are trolls, really stupid ones, just not as many.

          Their COMMUNITY is virtually dead. That’s what I miss.

          • I’ve checked some comments every day, and almost every day there’s at least one comment of, “Hmmm.”

            That’s it, “Hmmm.” Well crafted, eh?

      • “While the quantitative number of comments has gone down (while our web traffic has gone up), the quality of the posts is much better.” ~ Faiz

        Assuming, arguendo Faiz is referring to comments, not posts, then he’s essentially saying the site is better off without those of us who stopped commenting.

        I don’t know about you, but I’m going to stop adding to their web traffic.

    • I always (try to) admit the possibility that I’m wrong but I don’t think they would be making an urgent appeal for donations if their traffic were up. Although I suppose it’s possible that traffic is up but not enough to cover the new staff and features. I still think they screwed the pooch and Faiz is just engaging in happy talk.

      • That was my interpretation as well!
        He’ll not admit the system is truly flawed.
        A month, in the digital age, is a long time – enough to let you know if the experiment is beneficial or detrimental!
        Faiz – fail!

      • Is it possible that it’s not an urgent appeal for donations because they’re in trouble, but perhaps that they’re trying to capitalize on the increased traffic?

        • That is very possible and more power to them if that’s the case.
          As others have opined – the ‘community’ feel and ease of ‘back and forth’ commenting seems to begone.
          For me – I have FB – no personal info as my name is EbbAnd Flow there- so I wouldn’t mind using it – having to sign-in each time for commenting does not appeal to me.
          I do miss the ‘back and forth’ with ease of commenting – just don’t feel that way on the ‘new’ system at TP.

      • I’ve not visited TP — by my direct choice — but one time since May 18. I went to ‘TP 3.0’ or whatever the hell they called it, on the first day of their new look. Took a look, then dropped a note to whomever, said I would cease participating on all levels unless they could give me a good reason, one worthy of my time to reconsider. Never heard from them, so, that was it. I don’t play goofy games (well, if I owned the deck, maybe I’d give the notion a thought, but …).

        I haven’t missed much, looks like. The small handful of times I’ve followed a link and wound up there, a quick look suggests there’s not much to miss. There are plenty of other sources for the same info which remain unburdened by Facebook.

        Interesting that I don’t go to Huffington Post anymore either, save for the occasional random link. And for much the same reason, looks like.

        If TP wanted to mimic another site, it seems to me they would have been far better off to take more than a casual peek at Daily Kos. No trolls, informative articles, room to comment, no hassle logins, none of that ‘social networking’ bullshit required. Plus, they get really good hate mail. 🙂

        I’m finished with TP. Their new commenting format leaves me cold, and that “is something up with which I shall not put.” (thanks, Winnie)

  18. How sweet/s

    Meet The ‘Friendly Fracosaurus’: Natural Gas Industry Produces Propaganda For Children

    second chair · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)
    to those at the tp zoo @
    Instead of bashing TP, why don’t you come back?
    The way I look at it: As it appears your site holds ‘the chosen’ how will the zoo survive if not able to draw from a pool? I would think you people would want to support the crop in order to draw what you view as the cream.
    I will continue to watch the tpzoo as I sort of miss some of you.

    • My response:

      “The chosen?” What are you trying to accomplish, second chair? Pissing contest? Flame war?

      Think again.

      TheZoo has always been open to anyone, except trolls, and we have never tried to urge people to go there to the exclusion of coming here. The commenters are free to discuss whatever they’d like to discuss. We’re a very different place than TP, and I think there’s room on the interwebs for both.

      The whole thing is ridiculous.

  19. Note from Second Chair:

    Instead of bashing TP, why don’t you come back? The way I look at it: As it appears your site holds ‘the chosen’ how will the zoo survive if not able to draw from a pool? I would think you people would want to support the crop in order to draw what you view as the cream. I will continue to watch the tpzoo as I sort of miss some of you.

    For myself I didn’t leave TP for The Zoo, and didn’t arrive at The Zoo out of disgruntlement—instead for a couple of years I;d keep both sites open and enjoyed them simultaneously.
    Also for myself, my bitching about the present system certainly is colored with some ‘hurt feelings’.which I can appear or are a bit pathetic in the grand scheme of things.
    For those who already had a Facebook account, entry to TP was/is easy.
    For those like myself who didn’t have FB, it was an unnecessary demand that I commit to something I have no use for in order to maintain contact with something I had committed to for years. I don’t understand what technical advantage it provides TP, and I am skeptical of what qualitative advantage it provides relative to its quantitative qualities which IMHO are grossly overstated and misrepresented (for example FB claims 500 million “users” on one of its site pages but then qualifies those “users” on another with some artful technical vocabulary)

  20. second chair · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)
    you stated:
    ” What are you trying to accomplish, second chair? Pissing contest? Flame war?”

    Absolutely not. I see no sense in division and it plays in the hands of the GOP.
    Not sure why you are defensive.

    Isn’t it to your benefit that you and other members remain with TP as this appears the place where you draw in members? Would you have been able to create the tpzoo without TP? Just saying.

    As one of the founding members of The Zoo, I never saw this site as one where we were trying to draw in members, but one where we could post and comment on progressive issues in a troll-free environment. We didn’t create The Zoo with TP, but because of TP. And now, TP has “improved” its site to where a great deal of folks no longer comment.

    It’s not a matter of “division” playing into the hands of the GOP, it’s a matter of a sizable number of posters voting with their digital feet and going elsewhere to make their opinions known. Some of them have landed here, and they are welcome. You are, too.

    • Apparently we’re elitists, skimming “the cream” from Think Progress.

      Is that like gay people recruiting young men? It’s about as plausible a claim.

      I thought we were just a group of people educating & entertaining one another and anyone else who wants to participate. No trolls. Not a lot of cream, no offense.

    • “Palin advisers said during the bus tour that one purpose of the former governor’s One Nation tour was to give her family a chance to experience the sacrifice that comes with life on the road — and to decide whether that was something they could live with.”

      Oh puh-LEEEEZE.

        • bdmm – I did see that and reading the articles about Sudan – Palin’s cancellation makes one more ‘reason’ to believe she’ll not run for President.
          Not wanting to garner more ‘foreign policy’ photo visits…

          • Maybe she thinks that Sudan actually means “Sudden”? She’s probably afraid that if she visits the state of Sudden, in the great country Africa, she or one of her daughters will have a Sudden pregnancy.

  21. Faiz: “Our current comments system definitely has some issues [disappearing comments]….I appreciate everyone giving this new system a chance to work for a while longer before coming to a determination about it.”

    Disappearing comments is BAD, m’kay? That’s one determination that doesn’t require much time to reach.
    Increased traffic should be GOOD, as long as the increased traffic results in more “sticky” visits by commenters who contribute to debate and inform/educate each other. A general traffic increase that results in proportionate increase (or even disproportionate increase) in disruptive individual participants, spammers and spambots and coordinated ‘opposition swarms is not so good.

    Does the Facebook system provide benefits that outweigh the negatives, for both the site owners and its supporters? Does it provide a benefit for one or the other, such that the benefit for the one (say the site owner) is of greater value than the negatives ( for a commenter), or vice-versa?

    To the best of my recollection Think Progress didn’t really explain WHY they switched from the ordinary WordPress login to the DIsqus/Open ID system and then they absolutely didn’t explain why they then switched to FB—they apparently just initiated it because it seemed to whoever was responsible for the change to be a good idea. My assumption has been a desire to increase traffic via the wide net of Facebook–and here’s something interesting that I just discovered today as a result of my trying to make a TP-critical getting pretty effectively shot down by zxbe (who is a very sharp denizen of TP and the Zoo):

    According to Alexa, the generic user profile for Think Progress is 50-65 (going off today’s memory now). no kids, college educated. Except for the “no kids” that’s a pretty powerful present demographic, but a bit old and destined for expiration. FaceBookl might have represented a younger demographic worth cultivating, which would be a smart move, but as Ive tried to express, I don’t buy the FaceBook image of influence based on simple statistics of subscriptions and thus general activity.(for example WordPress can cite me as a one of their bloggers, and so can Blogger, but my actual use of those blogging systems has been minimal in the last two years and thus of no particular relevance). The billions of minutes spent in Facebook account activity by millions of “users” sounds great until you do the math and find some comparisons: A generic FB user spends 1400 minutes per MONTH “logged-in” to their FB page/account, which is bugger-all in comparison to the hours I’d spend and still spend DAILY, logged-in to TP and the Zoo.

    • You touched on another thing that caused me much dismay. It seems like TP has always operated without the benefit of IT support. I’m not a computer scientist but my best friend is and, back in the bad old days, I assembled systems from discarded old junk and even ventured into the mysterious world of the Windows “Registry”. I have a fairly good layman’s knowledge of system administration in general and even became a bit of a IT specialist by default back when my employer installed a computer system without the benefit of professional support.

      Based on my own knowledge, and many discussions with my much more conversant best friend, I could never think of a technical reason why TP couldn’t deal with the troll problem. I was forced to conclude that they are either amateurs or utterly unconcerned with their customers’ wishes. The switch to the new system was just the last straw that forced me to do what I wanted to do for years.

      (NOTE: I also run Linux rather than Windows. It’s much more secure but there are a few things that are needed to protect one’s system and one of those is to disable Java Script. Among the changes at TP; it became necessary to enable scripts for functions that are unfamiliar to me and that just ain’t gonna happen.)

      • I could never think of a technical reason why TP couldn’t deal with the troll problem. I was forced to conclude that they are either amateurs or utterly unconcerned with their customers’ wishes.

        Or they didn’t have the budget for it.

        And I have to wonder; Is a commenter on a system a “customer?” In a sense yes, but how much money does one expend on customers who don’t pay for the product?

        • First the customer part. A web site that takes advertisers is paid according to their volume. More hits? More money. Our visits generate income so we are customers.

          As for the budget reasons. I suggested, till I was blue in the face, that all it would take to shut me up was to assign someone a duty to check the flagged posts once a day with a preference for the morning since most troll activity was after normal business hours. A morning purge would eliminate vast piles of troll scat. That would entail logging in to the “flag bin” and deleting the accounts that received dozens or hundreds of flags. Even if said person has few computer skills and was slow before their morning coffee I can’t conceive of a reason why that would take more than ten man-minutes or so. There’s no technical reason why it should take longer than checking one’s personal email account or correspondence regarding the content and administration of the site. I realize that I, eventually, had my complaints and suggestions deemed spam but, before then, they were wasting ten man-minutes per day just dealing with my emails.

          • Hits are one thing. Click-throughs to the advertisers sites is another big component of that. As I had pointed out once before, ad revenue at TP wasn’t all that large; and the operational budgets seem to come more from donations. I found this information by looking at TP’s publicly disclosed financials; which they must publish due to the type of organization they are.

            In terms of the level of effort it would take, I think ti would be more than 10 minutes personally. To have to wade through hundreds of posts and determine if the poster had violated the Terms of Service and action should be taken. And I don’t know what sorts of management tools they had originally. I’m nominally familiar with Disqus’ tools for doing it as I use disqus on my site. (Shameless plug here.) I think it would not be quite that speedy.

            In the for what it’s worth department, I realize you’re pretty well set on your views on TP. As are others. That’s fine, as I’m not here to tell anyone what they should believe or not believe (and I hope it’s not coming across that way). I’m just trying to show that there may be another side to it.

      • I’ve only recently been exposed to Linux and I like it. Very flexible. I have.a Ubuntu Live CD that I can use but I’m massively invested in Windows (like so many others) . If/when I can get another PC I;d make it a Linux system and happily make the transition, based on what I
        ‘ve seen/;earned so far (which isn’t much yet, but still, but I think I “get it”). .

    • 5th, good find on the Alexa information. I think it could account for some of the reason to choose the FB comment engine. Other reasons could include the robustness of management tools, and given FB’s notoriously large user base, the comment engine probably scales well with volume.

      I think we may all be overlooking other changes that took place with TP 3.0. It could be that the entire content-management system (article authoring, publishing, etc.) was upgraded to make their day-to-day jobs easier.

      • Zxbe….
        Actually I had a hard time figuring out what the Alexa information actually represented. Traffic for example has apparently increased, but also that traffic was more volatile than pre-FB.. Is that useful information? .It should be, but I;m not sure how exactly and what it affects ,what specific or broad use can be made of it. .

        That was interesting about the “user profile” though. Somehow I thought the average age would be in the low-mid 40’s. .

  22. I still read the posts at TP but I don’t comment. I came to the Zoo at it’s inception which, if I recall correctly, was formed as a place to chat without uc@davis, among others, cluttering up and dominating the discussions.

    The Zoo is full of terrific people that I tend to agree with. On top of that, the Zoo doesn’t mind someone like myself that doesn’t comment much. I don’t comment much because I tend to be too personnel and self centered (my own diagnosis).

    Also, I’m Canadian and US politics is what I call my ‘porn’ (not in THAT way but more in a voyeuristic manner – US politics is far more interesting than Canadian politics and most definitely affects us and the world ). If there is something happening politically in the US I find all I need to know right here or at the TP.

    TP certainly does great reporting, there is no doubt about it in my mind. The Zoo is a far better place to follow comment wise.

    Now, back to yard work.

  23. Aw crap! The PBS Newshour actually has bloody Bill Kristol and Ruth Marcus on to preview President Obama’s speech. As nearly as I can tell; they agree that bringing troops home is dangerous and an election stunt. Judy Woodruff, as usual, is doing her best to be “fair and balanced” so she refuses to actually question them. I weep for what’s become of our press/media.

  24. Bringing troops home is dangerous Leaving troops in Afghanistan is dangerous (especially to them). If Obama wasn’t announcing withdrawals, they’d call him a liar.

    More important: what is PBS doing, asking for the opinions of someone who has never been correct?

    • It would bother me a lot less if they had Gwen Ifill as the moderator. She did a good job talking about Al Gore’s criticism of Obama on the environment. She even let the righty saw off the limb he was crawling on and got him to admit that “the left” has good reasons to be disappointed with him. Judy Woodruff is as useless as they come. I usually have to turn the TV off and slam a medicinal beer when she ends every effing segment with “we’ll have to leave it at that” when someone has been lying to her for five minutes.

  25. Maybe we need to make sure we have plenty of troops in the ME so we can avoid the Armageddon rush in October?

      • We had a big system come through before 5:30pm central. Most of the problems happened later. It was like almost having a connection. I’d click on Google, and the page would load, then I couldn’t go anywhere from there. When I could get a page to start loading, it wouldn’t complete.

    • I would say it wasn’t a bad speech but hardly worthy of prime time. He just confirmed what had already been released and, essentially, the announcement was that we are following through with the original plan when we “surged”. Not really news. But? We should remember that we’ve been slowly and quietly drawing down our forces in Iraq which is the best and smartest way to withdraw from hostile territory. Lets hope that continues and Afghanistan follows the same pattern even if it’s too damn slow.

      On the other hand; it should be interesting to see how the Reichwhiners attack the announcement/speech. It’s what he said he would do and what the generals had agreed to when he sent in the “surge”. He left the door open for additional withdrawals or a slow down if things go badly. It was very… careful. For the life of me I can’t figure out how the GOoPers will frame it as a surrender to the evil, godless, socialist, Muslim, atheist, communist, fascist, caliphate that hates us for our freedom but I’m sure they’ll think of something.

  26. 5thstate on June 22, 2011 at 2:35 pm said:

    For those who already had a Facebook account, entry to TP was/is easy.

    Oh really? 😀
    I had a Facebook account that I started about two weeks before TP pulled their switcheroo. I got tired of people posting links to Facebook that I couldn’t access without logging in. It had my real name with my real e-mail address, because that’s what the login page asked for. Then along comes TP’s changes and no way I’m using a screen name that is my real name. So I created a new email with Comcast, and a second ID at Facebook with my HouseofRoberts name, and it seemed to be working until I realized I was the only one who could see my comments. I may experiment with trying that with the third party cookies unblocked and see if that fixes the problem, but now that I have the hotmail thing working, it’s not a priority.

    • House, you would have had to “friend” everybody you had under your real name in order for anyone to see what you posted under your screen name. It sucks. I have, for the most part, stopped commenting at TP. I do occasionally, but not much anymore. And I don;t use my FB account much, if at all, either. Instead, I decided that if i had something to say that was more than would fit on an FB comment, I would write a post about it here. At least this blog gets more than a half dozen readers (unlike my personal blog, which is fine because there’s not much of interest there. And I will never make my personal blog into any kind of diary. I’m crazy but I’m not stupid.)

  27. I do not feel like perusing all the comments to see if anyone posted this link, but here’s a link to Matt Taibbi’s article about Michele Bachmann.

    They say we should be warned that she could win the Republican nomination. IMHO, that’s a good thing, because there’s no way in hell she can win the general election. Among other gems, she married her husband not for love, but because of a “vision.” I haven’t had a chance to read the article, so I don;t know if she and her friend and her future husband were on hallucinogenic drugs at the time.

    • I said it in 2004 and I’ll say it again….. I’m off if she gets ‘selected’…..

      Why I stayed in 2004 is still a mystery to me….

      • Me too. Unfortunately, I made a rash vow that I would travel to the inauguration to pull the pin on a grenade and swallow it if she’s named President. I’d probably have to build my own grenade and I’m not sure that I could make it lethal enough to kill instantly and small enough to swallow but I could give it a good try.

        (NOTE: The preceding was almost all snark. If I decide to off myself I will not choose a location where I would have to evade the Secret Service to pull it off.)

        • Not that I would ever suggest this, but it’s hard to detect the Ebola virus in you, so you wouldn’t have to build any kind of explosive, which I officially and formally suggest you not do. One deterrent to doing something like an Ebola virus, or the like, is the lack of an “instantaneous” death.

          • No viruses. I’ve had several and none of them killed me while all were unpleasant. If worse comes to worst I can find a way to slip this mortal coil without IEDs or infections that might hurt someone else.

    • Having followed Crazy Shelly’s career with much horror since long before she had a national image I have very mixed feelings. I would like to think that the American electorate isn’t crazy enough to vote for her in the general but, especially if the press simply doesn’t report her batshit, can we take the risk?

      I think what I would like to see is that she takes the race into the convention, which would keep Palin out and cost Shelly her congressional seat, but then lose to just about anyone else. I just don’t want to risk her making it close enough to steal through her sheer insane appeal to the most rabid and motivated GOoPers. I won’t ever vote for anyone who currently identifies as a Republican but if Mittens is the eventual nominee I don’t really fear that he would kill us all from the Oval Office should he beat Obama but Bachmann could just pull it off.

      If it were not for citizens united and our dysfunctional press/media I would cheer her as the GOP nominee. But? All that money and a complicit press/media makes me break out in a cold sweat when I think about Nov. 2012. The fact that most of the MSM calls her a “outspoken Christian conservative” or worse a “constant target of liberals” does not bode well. Every “news” source in the country should call her a “theocratic moron who is guided by the voices in her head”.

  28. Jon Stewart:

    “So Greece with 11m people is $480b in debt that’s….. $44,000 per person!!!!

    And… US is $14Tr in debt with 330m….. oh wait, that’s $45,000 per person….!”

    Greece is going to default…..

    • Only got one chance to get the numbers – the 44 and 45 were correct at least.

      Oh and Goldman Sachs is right in the middle of it…. they helped the Greeks cook the books.

  29. Goldman Sachs reminds me more of pure evil every day. I’ll have to track down the story about their dealings with Qaddafi. The short version is that they “lost” almost $2billion of his/Libya’s money and then tried to buy the lives of their Libyan reps with an ownership stake in the company if he gave them a few billion more.

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