Monthly Archives: May 2011

Jean D’Whiner

I saw the headline:

Sarah Palin likened to Joan of Arc in two-hour documentary film

and it didn't take long before I read this:

new film commissioned by Palin, the former governor of Alaska, will present her as a Joan of Arc-like figure beset at every turn by vicious leftwing enemies seeking to thwart her ambition of reviving the conservative legacy of Ronald Reagan.

Okay.  You know one way that Sarah Palin is not like Joan of Arc?  I mean, besides the obvious fact that Joan of Arc led the French Army to victory, and Sarah Palin quit halfway into her term as Alaska governor?

Joan of Arc would never have commisioned a two-hour documentary film about herself, boasting how great and misunderstood she is.

UPDATE:  Yglesius weighs in

Nikki Finke says the movie will end up in between 50 and 100 markets, so it’s not just going to be screened for carefully-selected audiences: they’re going to try to make some money on this thing. At one point, Palin was a reliable draw—her memoir, Going Rogue, sold at least 2.7 million copies. But Sarah Palin’s Alaska didn’t get renewed, and her ratings on Fox haven’t been particularly impressive, enough so that the network’s declined to pursue future editions of specials she was supposed to host.

In other words, the movie is a real gamble for Palin: it may not resurrect her political career, and if it fails, it could end up puncturing her entertainment brand too.

Yup.

Also, she's going on tour.  Oy.

Google Wallet

It's here.  Your phone will soon replace your wallet:

You’ll be able to tap, pay and save using your phone and near field communication (NFC). We’re field testing Google Wallet now and plan to release it soon.

Google Wallet is a key part of our ongoing effort to improve shopping for both businesses and consumers. It’s aimed at making it easier for you to pay for and save on the goods you want, while giving merchants more ways to offer coupons and loyalty programs to customers, as well as bridging the gap between online and offline commerce. 

Because Google Wallet is a mobile app, it will do more than a regular wallet ever could. You'll be able to store your credit cards, offers, loyalty cards and gift cards, but without the bulk. When you tap to pay, your phone will also automatically redeem offers and earn loyalty points for you. Someday, even things like boarding passes, tickets, ID and keys could be stored in Google Wallet.

It's not a huge leap technologically.  I wouldn't be surprised to see this be a very commonplace thing in 4 years.

Oh, For Crying Out Loud

Harold Camping has already copped to the fact that his May 21 apocalypse prediction was incorrect. But while he confesses he got some of the particulars wrong, he hasn't given up completely; he now claims he made an error in his calculations, and that the apocalypse will come five months from now, on October 21.

AP continues:

It was not the first time Camping was forced to explain when his prediction didn't come to pass. The 89-year-old retired civil engineer also prophesied the Apocalypse would come in 1994, but said later that didn't happen then because of a mathematical error.

Wait.  He's a retired civil engineer who keeps making mathematical errors?!?

I'd like a list of all the bridges he's ever worked on, please.

Born-Again Believers Have Smaller Brains

Hey, I'm just passing this on:

The study, which examined the hippocampus region of the brain, found that Protestants who did not have a "born again" experience had significantly more gray matter than either those who reported a life-changing religious experience, Catholics, or unaffiliated older adults.

The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Templeton Foundation, included at least two MRI measurements of the hippocampus region of 268 adults between 1994 and 2005.

It found an association between participants' professed religious affiliation and the physical structure of their brain. Specifically, those identified as Protestant who did not have a religious conversion or born-again experience — more common among their evangelical brethren — had a bigger hippocampus.

 

Why You Should Care About NY-26

Last night, in the 26th District of New York, a special election was held to fill the vacant congressional seat of Republican Chris Lee, who resigned in February (following a sex scandal where he advertised a shirtless photo of himself on Craigslist).

The 26th District, in upstate New York, is very Republican. To give some perspective, the district, which spans from Rochester to Buffalo, has 27,000 more Republicans than Democrats, voted for John McCain over Barack Obama in 2008 (he won by 6 percentage points), and has had just three Democrats represent it in the last 150 years. The 26th is about as red as they come.

Three candidates vied for the empty seat: Democrat Kathy Hochul, her Republican opponent, Jane Corwin, and Tea Party candidate Jack Davis.

Yesterday Hochul defeated Corwin in the special election.  Hochul received 47% of the vote, with Corwin earning 43%, and Tea Party candidate Jack Davis earning 8%.

This is a big win for Democrats, coming in such a heavily Republican district.  And while one might say that the Tea Party candidate was a "spoiler" who took victory from the GOP, that would be wrong.  As Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com points out, the results from last night still would have been bad for Republicans if Corwin had received all of the votes for Davis.  If Corwin had somehow received all of the votes for Davis, a dubious proposition at best, she would still have only won by four points. 

In fact, in a district so heavily dominated by Republicans someone like Corwin should be able to easily win a special election.  In 2010 Republican Chris Lee, later forced to resign because of the infamous Craigslist scandal, won the seat by a 48-point margin (74%-26%).

So how did Hochel win?  And can Democrats benefit from this in 2012?

Hochel's campaign was almost a one-note campain: she focussed on entitlements.  Specifically, she put herself on the side of seniors when it came to Medicare.  The Republicans, as you know, want to scrap Medicare and replace it with vouchers.  (Interestingly, they accused Obamacare of doing that, which it didn't).

This put her opponent on the defensive for the whole campaign.  You see, Republicans like to pretend that they are doing something noble, something fair — in the interest of asking all Americans to sacrifice.  The problem is that they’re not asking oil and gas companies to sacrifice. They’re not asking multimillionaires to sacrifice. But they're asking seniors to give up on Medicare.  That does not resonate well.  

So expect Medicare to be a very important part of the 2012 election.  It will be a topic on which Democrats can make significant in-roads with independants and, yes, even Tea Partiers.

Joplin, MO

Horrifying.  89 dead so far, including a co-worker of mine who lost his mother — apparently a wall collapsed on her as his brother held to protect her.

Death toll expected to rise.

Gss-110523-tornadoes-eg-01.grid-10x2 

Camping “Bewildered”

ABC:

Harold Camping is "mystified" and "a little bewildered" today that the Rapture did not go as he predicted, an associate of the California preacher told ABC News.

Tom Evans, a board member of Camping's Family Radio International, said today that Camping's wife told him her husband is at their home in Oakland and has no intention to speak or issue any statement today or Monday.

Camping's wife described him as being "somewhat bewildered" and "mystified" that events did not unfold on May 21 as Camping had predicted, Evans said.

Evans said his personal position is that the public is owed an apology and he wants the board — and Camping — to meet on Tuesday to figure out what to say and do next.

And whie that may be a little amusing, this is a little sad:

Robert Fitzpatrick of New York had put his money where his faith is: The 60-year-old retiree spent $140,000 — almost everything he had — on hundreds of billboards proclaiming the Armagedon that Camping predicted.

When it didn't come, he was standing in New York's Times Square, surrounded by jeering tourists in a drizzling rain.

"I can't tell you what I feel right now," he said. "Obviously, I haven't understood it correctly because we're still here."

Fool.

Oh, Crap! The World Is Ending Sooner Than We Think!

The Atlantic magazine just spoke to Harold Camping, the guy heading up the Rapture tomorrow, to get clarification on the exact time of the Rapture:

The end of the world will be at exactly 6 p.m. on May 21, 2011, says Camping, who along with his organization, Family Radio, are behind those billboards across the country forecasting the Rapture this Saturday. The Rapture, the Last Days, Armageddon and the Final Days of Judgment are all interchangeable. It's when God will destroy the Earth to show his love for humanity.

Is that Eastern Standard or Pacific Standard Time?

Neither, says Camping, whom I interviewed recently for my online news show TYT Now. The Rapture is at 6 p.m. on May 21, 2011, where ever it's 6 p.m. first, with the "fantastically big" world-ending event taking place on a time zone by time zone basis.

That means we can expect the Rapture to start when it hits 6 p.m. at the International Dateline at 180 Longitude — roughly the between Pago Pago, American Samoa, and Nuku'alofa, Tonga. We'll know it's Judgment Day because there will be an earthquake of previously unprecedented magnitude, Camping predicts.

So, according to these calculations, the Rapture will actually begin like a rolling brown out across the globe at 11 p.m. PST on Friday, May 20th. "Everyone will be weeping and wailing because they'll know in a few hours it'll come to their city," said Camping.

This also means that, if Camping is right, his signs littering California and in his current hometown of Oakland — not to mention thousands of atheists throwing Rapture parties — have the date wrong. It's Friday, Friday…gotta get down on Friday.

Really, Atlantic?  Doomsday isn't bad enough you gotta throw in a Rebecca Black reference?

Anyway, if the Rapture is occuring at 6 pm local time….. here's how you avoid it altogether.

How To Avoid The Rapture All Together

Head Of Tomorrow’s Rapture Movement Says “Blame The Gays”

Yup.

Today Harold Camping, the Gollum-eared leader of the bizarre 'May 21 – End of the World' movement, explains in the following video that the imminent Rapture is actually all gay people's fault.

That's right, God doesn't like 'them.' So, after 6,000 years, or 4.5 billion years, He's about to enact the Final Solution.

Starting tomorrow He's going to torture almost every man, woman and child on the planet for five months, before He eventually kills us all. Who knew He hated those reruns of Will and Grace that much?

Here's the vid:

 

The timing is interesting, as Gallup came out with a poll today showing, for the first time in American history, that more people approve of gay marriage than disapprove.

Gallup_gaymarriage

Even conservatives (+3) and the 55+ crowd (+6) ticked up a bit, though the big change was in Democrats (+13) and indies (+10).

But Republicans? Zero. Zilch. Nada.

Guess they're going to be the ones raptured.

UPDATE:  Camping, by the way, is the author of the book "1994?" — a book which predicted Christ's second coming sometime in September 1994.

Yeah, really.

Anyway, here's exactly what is supposed to happen starting tomorrow, according to Camping:

On May 21, 2011 two events will occur. These events could not be more opposite in nature, the one more wonderful than can be imagined; the other more horrific than can be imagined.

A great earthquake will occur the Bible describes it as “such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.” This earthquake will be so powerful it will throw open all graves. The remains of the all the believers who have ever lived will be instantly transformed into glorified spiritual bodies to be forever with God.

On the other hand the bodies of all unsaved people will be thrown out upon the ground to be shamed. The inhabitants who survive this terrible earthquake will exist in a world of horror and chaos beyond description. Each day people will die until October 21, 2011 when God will completely destroy this earth and its surviving inhabitants.

Popcorn is one dollar.

Question And Answer Time

I saw this on the online version of the New York Times:

 

"From studying the Bible, we have come to the understanding, through God's mercy, that May 21, 2011 is the date of Christ's return. Knowing this, I ask you, would you continue business as usual?"

 

Abby H. Carson, MD

I don't know.  But I know someone who I will never go to as a doctor.

This slideshow, which mostly focuses on the Carson family, is particularly upsetting.  The parents are convinced the end of the world is tomorrow.  So the Maryland mom quits her job.  And the kids, who are the smart ones and think this is bullshit, are worried about not having money for college.  Yeah, I would too!

EGG ON MY FACE:  She's not a doctor; she's from Maryland.  Thanks commenters!

About The Latest Rapture

It must be true, because look, there's God's true messenger, a pickup truck.

So, as some of you know, Christ is coming back on Saturday, and I thought it would be nice if we had a dinner party.  But apparently, he's coming back for the Rapture, which basically means that some of us are going to disappear and go floating upwards, while the rest of us stay on Earth and Hell.

Or something like that.

Anyway, it's Saturday, and we KNOW it's Saturday because supposedly "normal" people have spent their life savings in advertisements to TELL us that Saturday is the rapture.

So how to deal with this event?  There are many ways, I suppose.  From crying over the end of the world, to laughing at the people who think it is the end of the world.

On Saturday afternoon, I plan to leave empty shoes and garments all over the place, so that fundamentalist Christians might see these abandoned garments and think the real Christians got sucked up to meet the Lord already. This is a very mean prank.

I love it.

Rapture Prank

Did Torture Help Us Catch Bin Laden?

It's already conservative history (i.e., myth) that the policies and programs of President Bush weere responsible for the killing of bin Laden – particularly Bush's policy of conducting torture on captured Gitmo prisoners.  Perhaps the strongest case made by conservatives — that Bin Laden’s death vindicates torture — was spelled out last week by former Bush 
AG Mukasey in an Op ed in the Wall Street Journal. Mukasey argued that the trail to Bin Laden “began with a disclosure from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who broke like a dam under the pressure of harsh interrogation techniques that included waterboarding. He loosed a torrent of information — including eventually the nickname of a trusted courier of bin Laden.”

Except… that's not true.  And that comes from CIA director Panetta:

Let me further point out that we first learned about the facilitator/courier’s nom de guerre from a detainee not in CIA custody in 2002. It is also important to note that some detainees who were subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques attempted to provide false or misleading information about the facilitator/courier. These attempts to falsify the facilitator/courier’s role were alerting.

In the end, no detainee in CIA custody revealed the facilitator/courier’s full true name or specific whereabouts. This information was discovered through other intelligence means.

Emphasis mine. Panetta’s account contradicts Mukasey’s claim that the trail to Bin Laden “began” with disclosures from Khalid Sheikh Muhammed that were achieved through the “pressure" of torture.

It didn't.

Trump Not Running

His press release:

"After considerable deliberation and reflection, I have decided not to pursue the office of the Presidency. This decision does not come easily or without regret; especially when my potential candidacy continues to be validated by ranking at the top of the Republican contenders in polls across the country. I maintain the strong conviction that if I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and ultimately, the general election. I have spent the past several months unofficially campaigning and recognize that running for public office cannot be done half heartedly. Ultimately, however, business is my greatest passion and I am not ready to leave the private sector.

I want to personally thank the millions of Americans who have joined the various Trump grassroots movements and written me letters and e-mails encouraging me to run. My gratitude for your faith and trust in me could never be expressed properly in words. So, I make you this promise: that I will continue to voice my opinions loudly and help to shape our politician's thoughts. My ability to bring important economic and foreign policy issues to the forefront of the national dialogue is perhaps my greatest asset and one of the most valuable services I can provide to this country. I will continue to push our President and the country's policy makers to address the dire challenges arising from our unsustainable debt structure and increasing lack of global competitiveness. Issues, including getting tough on China and other countries that are methodically and systematically taking advantage of the United States, were seldom mentioned before I brought them to the forefront of the country's conversation. They are now being debated vigorously. I will also continue to push for job creation, an initiative that should be this country's top priority and something that I know a lot about. I will not shy away from expressing the opinions that so many of you share yet don't have a medium through which to articulate.

I look forward to supporting the candidate who is the most qualified to help us tackle our country's most important issues and am hopeful that, when this person emerges, he or she will have the courage to take on the challenges of the Office and be the agent of change that this country so desperately needs."

Trump, of course, turned himself from a leading contender (according to the polls) to a national joke because of the birth certificate thing.  He told the nation that his investigators in Hawaii had something big — really big — to tell about the borth certificate…. and then Obama came out with the long form (even though he didn't need to), and Trump was there looking like a jackass.

Which, interestingly enough, he is.

Letter Of The Day

Reprinted in full:

Dear Representative Bachmann,

My name is Amy Myers. I am a Cherry Hill, New Jersey sophomore attending Cherry Hill High School East. As a typical high school student, I have found quite a few of your statements regarding The Constitution of the United States, the quality of public school education and general U.S. civics matters to be factually incorrect, inaccurately applied or grossly distorted. The frequency and scope of these comments prompted me to write this letter.

Though I am not in your home district, or even your home state, you are a United States Representative of some prominence who is subject to national media coverage. News outlets and websites across this country profile your causes and viewpoints on a regular basis. As one of a handful of women in Congress, you hold a distinct privilege and responsibility to better represent your gender nationally. The statements you make help to serve an injustice to not only the position of Congresswoman, but women everywhere. Though politically expedient, incorrect comments cast a shadow on your person and by unfortunate proxy, both your supporters and detractors alike often generalize this shadow to women as a whole.

Rep. Bachmann, the frequent inability you have shown to accurately and factually present even the most basic information about the United States led me to submit the follow challenge, pitting my public education against your advanced legal education:

I, Amy Myers, do hereby challenge Representative Michele Bachmann to a Public Forum Debate and/or Fact Test on The Constitution of the United States, United States History and United States Civics.

Hopefully, we will be able to meet for such an event, as it would prove to be enlightening.

Sincerely yours,
Amy Myers

Bachmann would lose.

The Changing Legal Face Of Music

Once upon a time, you heard a song on the radio, you liked it, and you went to the brick-and-mortar store and bought it.  You bought it on vinyl, or cassette, or on CD.

And you owned it.

Those days are all but gone now, and the music industry is trying to adapt to the new technology.  

And as it turns out, you may not own the music that you think you own.

Surprised?  You shouldn't be.

There is a difference between owning a CD which contains music (on the one hand), and having the right to play a song – i.e., licensing (on the other hand).  

As music consumers, we're used to the first thing.  That's because, in the days of yore, a record company would have to actually manufacture the medium (the record, cassette, CD) that contained the song.  You knew you owned something because you could physically touch the medium — the CD, cassette, etc.

But now that songs can be distributed virtually, the concept of ownership must also move to a virtual one — i.e., licensing.

This is what the music industry wants you to think of it as.  That is, the music industry will tell you that you don't own Katy Perry's "Firework"; you merely have a license to listen to it whenever you want.

And that's fine.  Most people don't care about whether a song is owned or licensed, so long as they, as consumers, have control over when it can be heard.

However, BMI just upped the ante:

Capitol Records and others have brought a lawsuit in Federal Court in Manhattan against MP3tunes.com, a subscription Internet music “locker” service that raises issues about the legality of unlicensed “cloud-computing” music services. MP3tunes claims not to be liable for copyright infringement because it offers storage by customers of the customers’ own music collections on a remote system it operates. BMI holds that the public performing right has long applied to on-demand, interactive streaming. MP3tunes and their amici (“friends of the court”) make several legal arguments that could create loopholes in the copyright law relating to the public performing right.

MP3tunes claims that it is offering only passive equipment and should not be liable for any of the activities of its customers that occur when they use its service and that the customers are the ones that upload the music, thereby committing the “volitional acts” that MP3tunes claims that the law requires for direct infringement. It claims customers push the “play button” and therefore the customers are the volitional actors when it comes to transmissions of the performances.

What does all that mean?

Well, it involves the newest innovation in computing: cloud computing.  For those unfamiliar, "cloud computing" means this: Your files are stored at Place A, but you use them at Place B.  We're used to having files (programs, apps, etc.) stored on the device in front of us (the computer, the smartphione, etc.), but because of the Internet, they don't HAVE to be in front of us.  And that's where cloud computing comes in.  I have all my music at home, on my computer.  I also have them on my iPod.  But there exists the capability for me to listen to those songs whereever I am, by streaming them over the Internet.  It's similar to Internet radio, except that I select the tunes, which come from my music collection.

BMI is taking the position that music streaming over the Internet — even music from my music collection that I pick — constitutes a "public performance".

It's a ludicrous position and one that will be tough to win.  But if it does, it means that cloud music — the ability to store your music at home, but stream it to your car or work or whereever you are — will die before it even takes off.

Why Bush Can’t Take Credit For Bin Laden’s Death

Michael Hirsch explains:

Behind Obama's takedown of the Qaida leader this week lies a profound discontinuity between administrations — a major strategic shift in how to deal with terrorists. From his first great public moment when, as a state senator, he called Iraq a "dumb war," Obama indicated that he thought that George W. Bush had badly misconceived the challenge of 9/11. And very quickly upon taking office as president, Obama reoriented the war back to where, in the view of many experts, it always belonged. He discarded the idea of a "global war on terror" that conflated all terror threats from al-Qaida to Hamas to Hezbollah. Obama replaced it with a covert, laserlike focus on al-Qaida and its spawn.

This reorientation was part of Obama's reset of America's relations with the world. Bush, having gradually expanded his definition of the war to include all Islamic "extremists," had condemned the United States to a kind of permanent war, one that Americans had to fight all but alone because no one else agreed on such a broadly defined enemy. (Hez¬bollah and Hamas, for example, arguably had legitimate political aims that al-Qaida did not, which is one reason they distanced themselves from bin Laden.) In Obama's view, only by focusing narrowly on true transnational terrorism, and winning back all of the natural allies that the United States had lost over the previous decade, could he achieve America's goal of uniting the world around the goal of extinguishing al-Qaida.

This is quite true: Bush and Obama perceive the terrorist threat in very different ways.  

But only one of those visions makes sense and has yielded actual results.

Sadly, the perception that Republicans are better than Democrats at national defense will probably continue because… well, because Republicans are better at taking victory laps than Democrats.  Bush was flying on to carrier decks with "Mission Accomplished" banners, even when no mission was accomplished.

And is Obama taking a victory lap?  No.  He's laying wreaths and commemorating the fallen from 9/11.  Oh, well. 

Like It Never Happened

While Main Street still struggles through a recession, Wall Street (including the big financial institutions we bailed out) is doing just fine thank you very much:

CEOs at the nation's largest companies were paid better last year than they were in 2007, when the economy was booming, the stock market set a record high and unemployment was roughly half what it is today. The typical pay package for the head of a company in the Standard & Poor's 500 was $9 million in 2010, according to an analysis by The Associated Press using data provided by Equilar, an executive compensation research firm. That was 24 percent higher than a year earlier, reversing two years of declines.

Executives were showered with more pay of all types – salaries, bonuses, stock, options and perks. The biggest gains came in cash bonuses: Two-thirds of executives got a bigger one than they had in 2009, some more than three times as big.

CEOs were rewarded because corporate profits soared in 2010 as the economy gradually got stronger and companies continued to cut costs. Profit for the companies in the AP analysis rose 41 percent last year.

The stock market also continued its climb. Stocks rose 13 percent in 2010 and have now almost doubled since March 2009. The market's two-year run has fattened executive bonuses because some CEOs are rewarded for how the company's stock does.

Separately, the bull market has left CEOs enormous paper gains on stock and options they were granted as part of pay packages in 2009 and 2010. They are already worth $6.3 billion, 68 percent more than the companies thought they would be worth over the lifetime of the grants.

Some day there is going to be a reckoning.  We're in the second age of the robber barons.

Anyway, read the whole thing.

To Release The Bin Laden Photo Or Not

Pro: It will end rumors in Middle East "hot spots" that he is still alive.

Con: Ugly photo could engender more anger and hostility at U.S. from those "on the fence".

I come out against releasing the "dead bin Laden photo".  There will always be an element who won't believe it.  But if (a) his own daughter, who eyewitnessed the killing, says her daddy is dead, and (b) he fails to show up with tomorrow's New York Times in hand… ever, I think we've clinched the proof… without showing the photo.

Awesome Testimony In MN

They're debating same-sex marriage in Minnesota, and this legislator puts the issue in a perspective that I had never heard before.  Basically, he asks, "How many gay people does God have to create before we accept that fact that He wants them around?"

Watch:

 

The Gutsy Call

Conservatives are trying to downplay Obama's role in the killing of bin Laden, but the New York Times gives a dramatic account of what happened inside the White House, and indeed, it does show that Obama made a tough, and ultimately correct decision:

As more than a dozen White House, intelligence and Pentagon officials described the operation on Monday, the past few weeks were a nerve-racking amalgamation of what-ifs and negative scenarios. "There wasn't a meeting when someone didn't mention 'Black Hawk Down,' " a senior administration official said, referring to the disastrous 1993 battle in Somalia in which two American helicopters were shot down and some of their crew killed in action. The failed mission to rescue hostages in Iran in 1980 also loomed large.

Administration officials split over whether to launch the operation, whether to wait and continue monitoring until they were more sure that Bin Laden was really there, or whether to go for a less risky bombing assault. In the end, President Obama opted against a bombing that could do so much damage it might be uncertain whether Bin Laden was really hit and chose to send in commandos. A "fight your way out" option was built into the plan, with two helicopters following the two main assault copters as backup in case of trouble.

About a week ago, the president asked his national security team for options, and Defense Secretary Bob Gates was skeptical about a helicopter assault, preferring an aerial bombardment using smart bombs. The result, however, would have been a crater — with no physical remains.

On Thursday, Obama led another meeting with his top national security officials.

Mr. Panetta told the group that the C.I.A. had "red-teamed" the case — shared their intelligence with other analysts who weren't involved to see if they agreed that Bin Laden was probably in Abbottabad. They did. It was time to decide.

Around the table, the group went over and over the negative scenarios. There were long periods of silence, one aide said. And then, finally, Mr. Obama spoke: "I'm not going to tell you what my decision is now — I'm going to go back and think about it some more." But he added, "I'm going to make a decision soon."

Sixteen hours later, he had made up his mind. Early the next morning, four top aides were summoned to the White House Diplomatic Room. Before they could brief the president, he cut them off. "It's a go," he said.

Obama, as the Wall Street Journal put it, "rolled the dice."

Is it reasonable to call this "one of the gutsiest calls of any president in recent memory"? It seems fair to me.  When you think about how the failed rescue of the Iranian hostages virtually ruined Jimmy Carter, when you think about all the variables and "what ifs", making the stand to go after bin Laden was…. well, a gutsy call.

2011 Tony Nominees

A good day for the South Park boys

Best Play
Good People Author: David Lindsay-Abaire  
Jerusalem Author: Jez Butterworth
The Motherf**ker with the Hat Author: Stephen Adly Guirgis
War Horse Author: Nick Stafford

Best Musical
The Book of Mormon
Catch Me If You Can Producers:
The Scottsboro Boys 
Sister Act

Best Book of a Musical
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson Alex Timbers
The Book of Mormon Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone
The Scottsboro Boys David Thompson
Sister Act Cheri Steinkellner, Bill Steinkellner and Douglas Carter Beane

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
The Book of Mormon Music & Lyrics: Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone
The Scottsboro Boys Music & Lyrics: John Kander and Fred Ebb
Sister Act Music: Alan Menken Lyrics: Glenn Slater
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown Music & Lyrics: David Yazbek

Best Revival of a Play
Arcadia
The Importance of Being Earnest
The Merchant of Venice
The Normal Heart

Best Revival of a Musical
Anything Goes
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Brian Bedford, The Importance of Being Earnest
Bobby Cannavale, The Motherf**ker with the Hat
Joe Mantello, The Normal Heart
Al Pacino, The Merchant of Venice
Mark Rylance, Jerusalem

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Nina Arianda, Born Yesterday
Frances McDormand, Good People
Lily Rabe, The Merchant of Venice
Vanessa Redgrave, Driving Miss Daisy
Hannah Yelland, Brief Encounter

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Norbert Leo Butz, Catch Me If You Can
Josh Gad, The Book of Mormon
Joshua Henry, The Scottsboro Boys
Andrew Rannells, The Book of Mormon
Tony Sheldon, Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Sutton Foster, Anything Goes
Beth Leavel, Baby It's You!
Patina Miller, Sister Act
Donna Murphy, The People in the Picture

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Mackenzie Crook, Jerusalem
Billy Crudup, Arcadia
John Benjamin Hickey, The Normal Heart
Arian Moayed, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo
Yul Vázquez, The Motherf**ker with the Hat

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Ellen Barkin, The Normal Heart
Edie Falco, The House of Blue Leaves
Judith Light, Lombardi
Joanna Lumley, La Bête
Elizabeth Rodriguez, The Motherf**ker with the Hat

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Colman Domingo, The Scottsboro Boys
Adam Godley, Anything Goes
John Larroquette, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Forrest McClendon, The Scottsboro Boys
Rory O'Malley, The Book of Mormon

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Laura Benanti, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
Tammy Blanchard, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Victoria Clark, Sister Act
Nikki M. James, The Book of Mormon
Patti LuPone, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

Best Scenic Design of a Play
Todd Rosenthal, The Motherf**ker with the Hat
Rae Smith, War Horse
Ultz, Jerusalem
Mark Wendland, The Merchant of Venice

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Beowulf Boritt, The Scottsboro Boys
Derek McLane, Anything Goes
Scott Pask, The Book of Mormon
Donyale Werle, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

Best Costume Design of a Play
Jess Goldstein, The Merchant of Venice
Desmond Heeley, The Importance of Being Earnest
Mark Thompson, La Bête
Catherine Zuber, Born Yesterday

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Tim Chappel & Lizzy Gardiner, Priscilla Queen of the Desert
Martin Pakledinaz, Anything Goes
Ann Roth, The Book of Mormon
Catherine Zuber, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Best Lighting Design of a Play
Paule Constable, War Horse
David Lander, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo
Kenneth Posner, The Merchant of Venice
Mimi Jordan Sherin, Jerusalem

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Ken Billington, The Scottsboro Boys
Howell Binkley, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Peter Kaczorowski, Anything Goes
Brian MacDevitt, The Book of Mormon

Best Sound Design of a Play
Acme Sound Partners & Cricket S. Myers, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo
Simon Baker, Brief Encounter
Ian Dickinson for Autograph, Jerusalem
Christopher Shutt, War Horse

Best Sound Design of a Musical
Peter Hylenski, The Scottsboro Boys
Steve Canyon Kennedy, Catch Me If You Can
Brian Ronan, Anything Goes
Brian Ronan, The Book of Mormon

Best Direction of a Play
Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, War Horse
Joel Grey & George C. Wolfe, The Normal Heart
Anna D. Shapiro, The Motherf**ker with the Hat
Daniel Sullivan, The Merchant of Venice

Best Direction of a Musical
Rob Ashford, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Kathleen Marshall, Anything Goes
Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker, The Book of Mormon
Susan Stroman, The Scottsboro Boys

Best Choreography
Rob Ashford, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Kathleen Marshall, Anything Goes
Casey Nicholaw, The Book of Mormon
Susan Stroman, The Scottsboro Boys

Best Orchestrations
Doug Besterman, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Larry Hochman, The Scottsboro Boys
Larry Hochman and Stephen Oremus, The Book of Mormon
Marc Shaiman & Larry Blank, Catch Me If You Can

*     *     *

Recipients of Awards and Honors in Non-Competitive Categories

Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre
Athol Fugard
Philip J. Smith

Regional Theatre Tony Award
Lookingglass Theatre Company (Chicago, IL)

Isabelle Stevenson Award
Eve Ensler

Special Tony Award
Handspring Puppet Company

Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre
William Berloni
The Drama Book Shop
Sharon Jensen and Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts

*     *     *

Tony Nominations by Production
The Book of Mormon – 14
The Scottsboro Boys – 12
Anything Goes – 9
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying – 8
The Merchant of Venice – 7
Jerusalem – 6
The Motherf**ker with the Hat – 6
The Normal Heart – 5
Sister Act – 5
War Horse – 5
Catch Me If You Can – 4
Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo – 3
The Importance of Being Earnest – 3
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown – 3
Arcadia – 2
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson – 2
Born Yesterday – 2
Brief Encounter – 2
Good People – 2
La Bête – 2
Priscilla Queen of the Desert – 2
Baby It's You! – 1
Driving Miss Daisy – 1
The House of Blue Leaves – 1
Lombardi – 1
The People in the Picture – 1

Donald Trump On Same-Sex Marriage

From the NYT:

“It’s like in golf…. A lot of people — I don’t want this to sound trivial — but a lot of people are switching to these really long putters, very unattractive.  It’s weird. You see these great players with these really long putters, because they can’t sink three-footers anymore. And, I hate it. I am a traditionalist. I have so many fabulous friends who happen to be gay, but I am a traditionalist.”

What the hell does that mean?

Thought For The Day

JbU2F

Actually, does the killing of Osama bin Laden help Barack Obama's reelection chances? I doubt it. I still think Obama's re-election is going to depend mostly on economic conditions. What's more, the election is still 18 months away. 

UPDATE:  Here's a better photo:

PRPrT

UPDATE:  A guy who happened to be in Abbottabad twittered the whole thing, without realizing it was a strike on bin Laden.  Read his tweets here, cluminating with:

20  Sohaib Athar  ReallyVirtual  on Twitter

UPDATE:  Good celebrity tweets about Osama

About Bin Laden’s Demise

I didn't know until this morning.  Kind of surprising, and I won't believe it until I see the long form death certificate (joke).

Well, first and foremost, kudos to the Navy Seals.  It doesn't sound like it was an easy operation, but clearly the mission was accomplished.

Secondly, the news is saying that bin Laden's compound was "just down the road" from a major Pakistani military facility.  Coincidence?  I think not.  I've had it up to here with the Pakistanis.

But that said, I can't really revel in the way that passes for patriotism for some people: the fist pumping "USA, USA, USA".  It's good we captured him, but from an overall "war on terrorism" standpoint, I don't think it changes the game much.  Bin Laden was marginalized after 10 years on the run.  I guess it was a symbolic victory more than an operational one.  But the war on terrorism isn't over, and we shouldn't pretend that it is.

I confess to be a little bit surprised that bin Laden was buried at sea "in accordance with Islamic law".  My initial thought was, "why should we afford him that respect?  He didn't care about how people died on 9/11."

But then I realized it's not about who HE is, but who we are.  Giving him a burial "in accordance with Islamic law" shows respect for a religion.  High road.  Can't ever go wrong taking it.

UPDATE:  A Fox affiliate engages in wishful thinking:

Obama-bin-laden-18343-1304307659-11

Another possible Fopx headline: "African American man in Washington, D.C. confesses the the murder of an elderly man!"