Shorter New York Times Frontpage: “We’re all Fucked.”

While these days I am usually resigned to reading the morning paper digitally (anyone in NYC who has ever tried to turn the page on the 456 Train during morning rush hour knows why), I couldn’t help but buy a hard copy for myself today. The front page encapsulated the Horror Story that is U.S. foreign policy, domestic politics, and journalism too well for me to pass up.

The eye catcher was the lead photograph, an ominous black-and-white of an Iraqi holding up two AK-47s that looked like it could have come from the most depressing post-apocalypse wasteland movie you’ve ever seen.

From there, the stories just got worse. From Right to Left:

  • Iran is handing out “cash by [the] bagful” to aides of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.  This was coming off yesterday’s Wikileaks inspired story about Iran’s Revolutionary Guard forces not only training insurgents, but openly attacking U.S. Forces in Iraq.
  • A profile of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, which is better described by Glenn Greenwald as a sleazy hit piece based on rumor and innuendo. The motivations behind it are summed up succinctly by Tim Shorrock: “When Dan Ellsberg leaked [the] Pentagon Papers, Nixon’s henchmen tried to destroy his reputation. Today w/Wikileaks & Assange, media does the job.”
  • Mercenary armies wreaking havoc in Iraq on both sides of the battlefield, highlighted of course by numerous examples of Blackwater soldiers killing civilians in the name of the U.S.

And finally, if that wasn’t depressing enough, the coup-de-grace, “G.O.P is Poised to Seize House, If Not Senate.” No explanation needed.

Destroy the economy, win more seats in Congress

Watch this contentious interview MNSBC’s Dylan Ratigan had with Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) today, as Brady tries but fails to give any justification for voting against extending unemployment benefits to 1.4 million Americans. The whole interview is a lesson in the Art of the Dodge, but this particularly egregious quote stands out:

BRADY: “…one of the reasons unemployment benefits have struggled in Congress is not because people don’t want to help folks who are trying to find a job–they do– they just don’t want to add to the debt, which is one of the reasons consumers are holding on to their cash…

Really? People are not spending their money because they are worried about a number so unimportant to their daily lives that it’s almost imaginary? I know some people say that Texas is like a different country, but who the fuck does this guy know that goes into the local Texas electronics store and says to the salesman, “You know I really want this HD TV, and I could afford it, but the federal deficit is really high these days, sooo…I better pass.”

And its worth pointing out that Brady voted for the bank bailout, the Bush tax cuts, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Also known to the rest of society as THE MAIN SOURCES OF OUR DEFICIT:

But Brady’s words are just a slight variation on what comes out of the mouth of every other disingenuous Republican these days. They know that almost all respected economists on the left and right say unemployment benefits are one of the simplest ways to stimulate an economy when its in recession. They know non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the Office they cite with favor every time any other budget issue is mentioned, says the same thing. But that means nothing to them. They go on television and call 10% of the people in this country “hobos,”  regardless of how many applications they send out per day. In fact, despite dubbing themselves “fiscal conservatives,” the Republican Party has literally NEVER cared about the deficit. Consider the evidence from the past three decades:

1) There have been two presidents who were members of the modern conservative movement, Ronald Reagan and George W Bush, and they both presided over massive increases in both present and projected deficits.

2) The major deficit reduction packages of the modern era, in 1990 and 1993, were both uniformly opposed by the conservative movement.

3) When the deficit was temporarily eliminated in the late-1990s, the mainstream conservative view was that this showed that the deficit was too low and needed to be increased via large tax cuts.

4) Senator Mitch McConnell says it’s a uniform view in his caucus that tax cuts needn’t be offset by other changes in spending.

5) The deficit reduction commission is having trouble because they think conservative politicians won’t vote for any form of tax increase.

So why do Republicans vote against unemployment benefits then? Because they know it’ll hurt the economy. The worse the economy is in November, the more seats they’ll pick up in Congress.

And when the economy is in shambles in January of next year thanks to Republicans literally refusing to participate in governance for two years, do you think they’ll finally start voting for unemployment benefits again?

Considering they have no principles whatsoever, you can bank on it.

The expansion of online dating

What is it about online dating websites that draw in millions of people from around the globe? About a decade ago, long before eHarmony was a regular commercial spot and dating sites were popping up in movies, these avenues for dating were just starting to pick up a little buzz. And in what seems like the blink of an eye, they exploded and barflies have been lonesome since.

Although you’ll find any and everything online, the Internet’s true revolutionary factor is that it’s an easily accessible information hub. Even taking something like social networking for example, you’ll see that it’s not just about instantly connecting with someone – it’s about knowing who you’re connecting with.

For online dating in general, the ease and convenience of it all makes it a viable option for people on the go with no time to look for love the old-fashioned way. But what makes it a winner is the informative platform in particular.

With hordes of dating advice columns available and countless articles giving you tips and tricks, the Internet becomes a central all-in-one dating hub instead of a simple meeting place. This basically renders traditional forms of meeting obsolete if you’re a PC nut.

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People from all ages and from all persuasions are able to connect. And the options aren’t limited to a few dating sites. You can choose from literally thousands – from broad-based sites to niche-specific venues.

Due to the Internet and its specialty for delivering instant and thorough information, dating sites have essentially become mega stores. If you want to shop at Chemistry, then read a review and see how it stacks up against the competition. The same goes for any site.

In life, it’s always a buyer’s market – always. The Internet just creates the perfect storm for shoppers by melding social networking with dating and convenience. It’s no wonder that the genre has exploded.

Super Bowl XLIV: Heroes and Zeroes

Super Bowl XLIV—or forty-four for the Roman numeral impaired—was touted as a showdown for the ages
between the incomparable Peyton Manning, three-time League MVP and former Super Bowl winner, vs. the unheralded Drew Brees and streaky New Orleans Saints. The intense buildup surrounding the game couldn’t logically last; most Super Bowls fail to meet their hype. But with XLIV, it turns out everyone’s early reports were all wrong.

Starting with the zero side of the saga, we have the supposed greatest quarterback of all time, one Peyton Manning. Before his impressive Super Bowl XLI win over the Chicago Bears, for which he beat Tom Brady’s Patriots en route to play, Manning was known as the League’s greatest choker – the best regular season QB to never win a meaningful game. After defeating the Rex Grossman-led Bears and claiming a ring, the stigma of folding like a lawn chair subsided.

While down 24-17 in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, Manning, unbeknownst to his person, would
define his career and revert back to lawn chair status. On the way to the end zone, popular Peyton misread the Saints’ coverage and threw a perfect pass to the wrong player, Tracy Porter (pictured) of the Saints
instead of Reggie Wayne of Peyton’s own Colts. The return for a touchdown by Porter put the Saints up 31-17 and all but iced the game.

Later in the fourth quarter, Peyton would again have an opportunity to drive the ball down for a patented comeback. However, proving the interception wasn’t a fluke ball, Manning was off target on many key throws, including a fourth-down throw to Reggie Wayne that missed the mark and sealed the deal.

Sharing the “zero” status are all the so-called experts who knew full well of New Orleans’ explosiveness
and yet still favored the Colts by 5 points (the action number – really meaning a full touchdown). Gamblers—which, let’s face it, make up much of the Super Bowl’s adoring audience—bet hundreds of millions
of dollars according to the lines. Anyone playing the Colts, either to cover or simply to win outright without, was left with an extremely bitter taste in their mouth. According to these experts, Manning was Zeus and would throw lightning bolts into the end zone. One word sums up these odds makers on this one: Fail.

Maybe these purported experts would be better suited to play online casino games instead of deciding the spread for the biggest NFL game of the year. Sure, they’re all entitled to be wrong. In fact, they’re not aiming to be right. They’re setting an action number, enticing bets on both sides. But giving 5 to a team that should have only pulled 3 if not set as dogs to begin with is deplorable.

On the hero side of the ball, we have the entire Saints’ team, especially the game’s MVP Drew Brees. Drew absolutely decimated the Colts’ defense, throwing for a pair of touchdowns and connecting on 32 of 39 passes for 288 yards. After being told for two weeks that they were the automatic runners up in the big game, Brees and company went on a successful mission of domination. The Saints’ offense literally embarrassed Indianapolis’ defense, and New Orleans’ defense rendered the Colts’ offense useless
at the most opportune times.

When it’s all said and done, the New Orleans Saints may only have this season to look back on. The NFC is jam-packed with talent. But for the moment, the League belongs to this young and energetic team. And everybody loves a good underdog story, even if the underdogs should have been the clear favorites.

Rep. Joe Wilson: Really Dumb Since At Least 2002

While last night was Rep. Joe Wilson’s national coming out party as the Republican’s new poster boy for mindlessness, the truth is he has been really stupid for a while now.

Much has been made of the previously unknown Congressman screaming out, “You lie!” during President Obama’s address to Congress last night. His outburst came as Obama was talking about barring illegal immigrants from receiving benefits in his health care reform plan.

As the non-partisan site Politifact pointed out, this was not a lie at all; it was completely true. However, that did not prevent Wilson from defending his assertion today as he fought back tears outside his office.

Not surprisingly, this is not Wilson’s first brush with ignorance. Here he is in 2002 calling Rep. Bob Filner a liar and accusing him of “hating America” for asserting that we originally gave Saddam Hussein most of his chemical and biological weapons (which, of course, we did.)

And then there was this embarrassing incident from 2003 which he also had to apologize for:

Flashback to mid-December 2003, when Essie Mae Washington-Williams came forward with the bombshell that she was the illegitimate daughter of the recently-deceased patriarch of South Carolina politics, Sen. Strom Thurmond.
Rep. Wilson, a former page of Thurmond’s, immediately told The State newspaper that he didn’t believe Williams. He deemed the revelation “unseemly.” And he added that even if she was telling the truth, she should have kept the inconvenient facts to herself:
“It’s a smear on the image that [Thurmond] has as a person of high integrity who has been so loyal to the people of South Carolina,” Wilson said.
Of course, Williams’ story was entirely true — and never really in doubt. Thurmond was 22 and Williams’ mother, a black maid working in his family home, was 16 when Williams was born in 1925. Thurmond supported Williams financially for decades.
“I have the utmost respect for Essie Mae Washington-Williams and wish her and the Thurmond family all the best,” he said.
Six days and several furious letters to the editor later, Wilson was forced to apologize. But, amazingly, he maintained that Williams should not have gone public.

Ted Kennedy and the power of speech

“Well, today, we lost a truly remarkable man. To paraphrase Shakespeare, I don’t think we shall ever see his like again. I think the legacy he left was not just with the landmark legislation he passed but in how he helped people look at themselves and look at one another.” –Joe Biden, yesterday, reflecting on Ted Kennedy’s life

When people talk about the political skills of Barack Obama, they often say, “he’s a great speaker, probably the best I’ve ever seen.” Even the President’s biggest critics will readily admit the man gives a speech like no one in the modern era.

Yet he had nothing on Ted Kennedy.

Kennedy could channel anger and emotion into prose like it was his second nature, while losing none of the complexity and eloquence of Obama. So much so that after watching him at his best, it really is hard to imagine we will ever see it again.

Listen to him at his best in these two clips. The first is Kennedy chastising Republicans on the Senate floor for not supporting an increase in the minimum wage. The second is his beautiful eulogy to his brother Bobby.