09/23/2010 archive

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Delhi makes Games ‘progress’ as criticism pours in

by Neha Lall, AFP

1 hr 32 mins ago

NEW DELHI (AFP) – The Commonwealth Games Federation signalled Thursday that Delhi was succeeding in fixing the problems that have brought the event to the brink of disaster, as more athletes announced they were withdrawing.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held a crisis meeting with senior ministers late on Thursday and Delhi’s Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit oversaw the deployment of hundreds of staff to clean the athletes’ village.

“There has been progress and there is more to do,” Mike Hooper, chief executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), told AFP, adding that there had been a “significant” influx of additional resources.

The Week in Editorial Cartoons, Part I – New GOP Campaign Slogan: Monosexuality=Bad

Crossposted at Daily Kos and Docudharma

Christine O’Donnell by Taylor Jones, Politicalcartoons.com, Buy this cartoon

Christine O’Donnell is fast becoming the face of the Republican Party.  Her campaign slogan is — to put it in Marxist language — power to the people.  Or, something like that. To quote an oft-used phrase on the internet(s) and one used frequently on this blog, “Teh stoopid! It burns.”  

Time permitting, I will try to post Part II of this diary later on this week.  

“When You’re Out of Schlitz, You’re Out of Beer”

Fear Factor enthusiasm

I must admit I share Gregg Levine’s frustration

In 1976, the Schlitz Brewing Company of Milwaukee, WI, was the number two beer maker in the United States, its roughly $600 million in sales almost equal to that of industry leader Anheuser-Busch. But trouble loomed. The growing popularity of name-brand light beers, increased availability of niche and foreign brews, and a change in Schlitz’s brewing process, done to make its namesake beer cheaper to mass-produce, all were taking a toll on the market share of “the most carefully brewed beer in the world.

So, in the Summer of 1977, an new CEO at Schlitz abandoned their heretofore successful “Go for the Gusto” slogan, and turned to the ad men of Leo Burnett to craft a message that would help increase the brewer’s short-term profits (the time between investment and payback was apparently too long for new management). What the boys from Burnett produced was a campaign that will live in infamy:

At the screening of the new commercials, the Burnett people watched as the boxer told a disembodied voice that he was going to knock him “…down for the count” for even suggesting a switch from the Schlitz label. The outdoorsman in one of the following commercials told his pet mountain lion to calm down after his choice of Schlitz beer was also challenged and snarled back to the animal, “Just a minute, babe. I’ll handle this.

. . . .

The reactions to the commercials once they went public were almost immediate; people hated them. Burnett officials were appalled at the reaction.

. . . .

Ten weeks after the commercials first began to air, Schlitz management ordered them pulled. Soon after, the Leo Burnett ad agency was fired by the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company.

The short-lived run of commercials would go down in advertising history as “The Drink Schlitz or I’ll Kill You” ad campaign.

In 1976, there were fresh choices for beer drinkers, and Schlitz’s reaction was to abandon their core identity as well as their winning formula. They chose to eschew long-term investment for short-term profit, and when threatened by fast-weakening consumer enthusiasm, they decided to threaten their consumers right back. Threatening consumers did not work for Schlitz, and that was in a category where people pretty much understand the immediate benefits of their choices.

For Democratic leaders, threatening unenthusiastic voters with vague pictures of doom and gloom, when much of what the voters see right now is already pretty gloomy, is not going to “wake up” very many of the rank and file. Promising little else in terms of benefits if Democrats stay in power-little beyond “there’s more to do”-does not provide enough positive motivation to engender enthusiasm.

You see, I can’t find the lyrics to that song either.

Punting the Pundits

Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Gail Collins: Don’t Ask, Don’t Debate

The legislative process is almost never uplifting. But if you watch the United States Senate in action these days, you come away convinced that the nation has jumped the shark.

On Tuesday, the Senate failed to override a Republican filibuster of a defense authorization bill. This is a new record for dysfunction. Until now, even when politics was at its worst, Congress did manage to vote to pay the Army.

The bill did contain a lot of controversial pieces. It eliminated the “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule for gays serving openly in the military. And the majority leader, Harry Reid, tacked on a provision that would allow undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children to win a path to citizenship if they serve in the military or go to college.

So the debate was about … parliamentary procedure.

Nicholas D. Kristof: Boast, Build and Sell

World leaders have flown in first class to the United Nations this week to discuss global poverty over cocktails at the Waldorf Astoria.

The U.N. set eight landmark antipoverty objectives in 2000, so this year’s General Assembly is reviewing how we’re doing after a decade. We’re off-track on most of these Millennium Development Goals, so let me offer three suggestions for how the humanitarian world might do better in framing the fight against poverty:

First, boast more.

Humanitarians have tended to guilt-trip people and governments into generosity by peddling emaciated children with flies on their eyes. But relentless negativity leaves the inaccurate impression that Africa is an abyss of failure and hopelessness. And who wants to invest in a failure?

In fact, here’s the record: antipoverty work saves around 32,000 children’s lives each day. That’s my calculation based on the number of children who died in 1960 (about 20 million) and the number dying now (about 8 million a year).

Twelve million lives saved annually – roughly one every three seconds – is a reminder that global poverty needn’t be a depressing topic but can be a hopeful one. Ancient scourges like Guinea worm, river blindness and polio are on their way out. Modern contraception is more common than a generation ago. The average Indian woman has 2.6 children now, compared with 5.5 in 1970.

About Afghanistan

The truth of the matter is that things could hardly be worse.  For one thing, corruption is so rampant that U.S. forces have practically given up on enforcement.  This is due structurally to the fact that the regular Afghan economy is dwarfed by U.S. military transfer payments and Opium.  Things are so bad that the central bank has failed because of corrupt real estate speculation in Dubai (among other places and Dubai is not in such great shape itself having recently been bailed out by the UAE).

Of course the Karzai family is heavily implicated in all of this and we’ve just had a Parliamentary election that was if anything even more fraudulent than last year’s disputed Presidential one.  There are credible reports of double and triple voting (seems that Iraqi ink isn’t quite so indelible after all) and thousands of forged ballots were intercepted being smuggled in from Pakistan.

Speaking of Pakistan it’s now clear that a substantial fraction of their Military/Intelligence establishment, perhaps even a majority of it, support the Taliban and are providing them with Safe Havens and logistics support; and that the Pakistani civilian government is either unwilling or unable to prevent this.

Despite the Troop surge our military situation has not improved.  We’re unable to exert control over the countryside except in limited areas for short periods of time and to prevent co-ordinated attacks against our bases by Company and Platoon size units, even the big ones near Kabul.

But only amateurs talk about tactics, Generals talk about logistics.  It is technically impossible to support any more Troops in Afghanistan than we currently have in the field.  Anything that can’t be airlifted in, which includes almost all the Bullets, Beans, and Gasoline, has to go through about half a dozen choke points that are mostly Taliban controlled.  The only way we are able to get through at all is by bribing the Taliban with “security” contracts.

Now this may seem counter intuitive to you.  Why should they allow us to supply our Troops the means to kill them?

Because we’re doing a lousy job at it and they hardly notice the pain.

Not only that, but once inside Afghanistan supplies are distributed over a road system that is naturally impassible during certain seasons and easily sabotaged.  All you have to do is block a culvert and wait for the snow melt to wash out the road, you don’t even have to use explosives.  And there are hundreds of thousands of vulnerable points, too many to constantly guard or even check on a regular basis.

Comparisons with Vietnam are inappropriate.  Afghanistan is much, much worse.

Now despite our lack of progress, any prospect of progress, indeed even a definition of progress, and 9 years of futility, The Man Called Petraeus, our new Westmoreland, is making statements like this

This is the kind of fight we’re in for the rest of our lives and probably our kids’ lives.

“I can see light at the end of the tunnel.”- General William Westmoreland

“I can’t lose the whole Democratic Party.”- President Barack Obama

On This Day in History: September 23

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

September 23 is the 266th day of the year (267th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 99 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1964, the Paris Opera, Palais Garnier, unveils a stunning new ceiling painted as a gift by Belorussian-born artist Marc Chagall, who spent much of his life in France. The ceiling was typical of Chagall’s masterpieces–childlike in its apparent simplicity yet luminous with color and evocative of the world of dreams and the subconscious. . . .

. . . . Andre Malraux, the French minister of culture, commissioned him to design a new ceiling for the Paris Opera after seeing Chagall’s work in Daphnis et Chloe. Working with a surface of 560 square meters, Chagall divided the ceiling into color zones that he filled with landscapes and figures representing the luminaries of opera and ballet. The ceiling was unveiled on September 23, 1964, during a performance of the same Daphnis et Chloe. As usual, a few detractors condemned Chagall’s work as overly primitive, but this criticism was drowned out in the general acclaim for the work. In 1966, as a gift to the city that had sheltered him during World War II, he painted two vast murals for New York’s Metropolitan Opera House (1966).

In 1977, France honored Chagall with a retrospective exhibition at the Louvre in Paris. He continued to work vigorously until his death in 1985 at the age of 97.

The unveiling of the ceiling coincided with the publication of The Phantom of the Opera (“Le Fantôme de l’Opéra”) by Gaston Leroux.

It was first published as a serialization in “Le Gaulois” from September 23, 1909 to January 8, 1910. Initially, the story sold very poorly upon publication in book form and was even out of print several times during the twentieth century, despite the success of its various film and stage adaptations. The most notable of these were the 1925 film depiction and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1986 musical. The Phantom of the Opera musical is now the longest running Broadway show in history, and one of the most lucrative entertainment enterprises of all time.

Morning Shinbun Thursday September 23

Thursday’s Headlines:

Mexico prepares plan to protect journalists

Fossils of new species of horned dinos found in Utah


G.O.P. Cites Tax Cuts and Health Care as Main Focus

Two of Obama’s closest advisers among those likely to leave in White House shuffle


Women take control of Swiss government

France braces for day of strikes over retirement age

Middle East

Israel used ‘incredible violence’ against Gaza aid flotilla, says UN Human Rights Council

World powers seek talks with Iran


New Zealand adds to India’s Commonwealth Games woes

Afghanistan election investigators face threats, bribes


Exiled journalist’s return to Zimbabwe

An Al Qaeda affiliate getting rich in Niger

Latin America

Juarez editorial ignites a beleaguered Mexico

Autumnal Equinox 2010 and the Full Moon

At 11:09 PM EDT, Summer exits and Autumn begins. This year is especially significant since it also coincides with the Full Moon also known as the Harvest Moon. The night and day are equal as the sun passes over the equator heading south to give the Earth’s Southern Hemisphere its turn at Summer.

In Pagan and Wiccan beliefs this is the second harvest, Mabon, and a time to start finishing the canning and preserving for the coming winter. It is the balancing of the wheel and respect is given to the coming darkness. The sun enters the astrological sign of Libra, the Scales of Balance.

For Jews, this is the first night of Sukkot or Festival of Booths. It commemorates the Israelites’ wanderings in the desert following their Exodus from Egypt, during which time they lived in portable shelters or booths.

Whatever you believe or even if you don’t, step outside tonight with your favorite beverage and toast the sun and the moon and the changing of the seasons.

The Wheel Turns. Blessed Be.

Prime Time

Oh boy howdy.  Be sure and set your DVRs to record Jon’s lame shilling for his ‘Million Moderates March’ on BillO tonight.  Jon- there is right and wrong in this world, good and evil, and good does not consist of splitting the difference between them or ass kissing the ‘lesser evil’.

What makes you particularly pathetic is we know you know better than that and are choosing to sell out deliberately.

Shame on you.

Broadcast premiers, none worth mentioning.  PBS is carrying the Opening Night Concert of the New York Philharmonic.  Keith and Rachel all night.


Dave hosts Joaquin Phoenix and Tom Jones (he has a new album).  Jon has Edward Norton, Stephen Guillermo Del Toro.  Alton does Pork Tenderloin.

BoondocksMr. Medicinal.

We’re very lucky in the band in that we have two visionaries, David and Nigel, they’re like poets, like Shelley and Byron. They’re two distinct types of visionaries, it’s like fire and ice, basically. I feel my role in the band is to be somewhere in the middle of that, kind of like lukewarm water.

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 India battles deepening Commonwealth Games crisis

by Kuldip Lal, AFP

Wed Sep 22, 12:50 pm ET

NEW DELHI (AFP) – India struggled to keep its Commonwealth Games on track Wednesday, with England warning the event was on a “knife edge” over complaints of filthy housing and growing structural and security fears.

Officials said Commonwealth Games Federation chief Mike Fennell was flying in Thursday for a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss the problems overwhelming the October 3-14 event in New Delhi.

The latest high-profile withdrawals include the English Olympic 400m gold medallist Christine Ohuruogu and world triple jump champion Phillips Idowu, with Australia warning more of its competitors might follow.