Monday, May 30, 2011

The Washington Post food section is very good

I realized that I almost never blog about the Food section of the Washington Post.

Why? Because it's quite good. It's one area where the Post feels like a top-tier paper, with new, interesting, useful information that you want to get. It tries to be hip and edgy, but in a good way, not going over the top or trying too hard. The recipes are good (I find myself cutting out and making Bonnie Benwick and Stephanie Witt Sedgwick items not infrequently). The section recently lost Jane Black -- but scooped up Tim Carman from the City paper. The local restaurant info is useful and reasonably quick.

Just thought I should say this.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The writers behind Groupon

Finally an article about the people who write the weird Groupon copy.

I have to say, not what I expected. I assumed the text was some goofy joke in the office, written by some awkward loner in the back, perhaps a guy named Steve. But no, they have whole teams of writers who do nothing but this.

I never thought the writing was that funny -- more laugh at it than with it. But maybe I am in fact enjoying it and it is getting me to buy more stuff, even if it sure doesn't feel that way.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

More on Bruni

What you need to know about new NYT columnist Frank Bruni, by Eric Alterman.


LATimes on a new report from Oceana:
Citing DNA tests of 1,000 fish filet samples from dozens of U.S. cities over the past four years, the report said that only 50% of the fish tested were the species listed on the label. Fish labeled as red snapper, wild salmon and Atlantic cod are actually other fish 25% to 70% of the time, the report said, with rockfish and tilapia often substituted for snapper, farmed salmon for wild, and pollock for Atlantic cod.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

New Metro spokesman Dan Stessel started one day *after* Metro issued ugly "falling out of his wheelchair" statement. I think.

It was on Sunday night that Metro issued the statement that included the line "The patron resisted arrest which resulted in him falling out of his wheelchair." We don't know the exact circumstances of the whole thing, but anyone who has watched the video knows Metro's statement is disgusting. And not true.

Who let these words through? Turns out Metro was in the midst of a change, with Dan Stessel replacing Lisa Farbstein as the communications head. Stessel was busy winning us over this morning; he has a guest post on UnSuckDCMetro. I mean, that's kind of cool.

Stessel lists his start date as May 23, Monday. So I'm going to assume he wasn't there on Sunday night when whoever in the media department wrote, or let through, the "falling out of his wheelchair" language. Stessel should set a tone for his team so they know such offensive stuff that insults our intelligence won't be tolerated.

Washington Post spins Metro Police taking man from wheelchair to face on the ground

We obviously don't know yet the full circumstances of what happened on U Street last week. But the video certainly shows a lot.

The Washington Post apparently couldn't handle it, though, and playing catch up to the rest of the local media here, ran for euphemism and some pretty misleading text. Jason Linkins has a nice write-up on the Post's coverage.

Frank Bruni Gets NYT Column (Or: From the Pack That Brought You George W. Bush)

The news yesterday was that Frank Bruni will be getting a NYT op-ed column.

We'll see how this turns out. But know that Bruni was one of the key figures in the 2000 presidential election -- that is, providing the NYT's fawning coverage of Bush. Bruni was lauded by Ann Coulter for his work.

Bruni is a talented writer and all that. But his history post-2000 is a perfect example of how it too often works at the Times: the A-list crowd keeps getting the good stuff, even if they do something so, so wrong.

Monday, May 23, 2011

on Mitch Daniels being a no

Something that doesn't get much attention: Daniels, among other potential GOP candidates, would have had a rather tricky line to take regarding the deficit. During both the primary and the general election, he'd be saying all sorts of things about how serious he is on the deficit. And Democrats and others would point out his role at OMB in the Bush Administration (from the beginning until June 2003) -- i.e., tax cuts for the rich, and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. See more from Jamelle Bouie.

This hypocrisy hasn't been much of a problem for him (or others) with a punditocracy that's obsessed with him, but in a general election campaign, I think it would certainly be at least a moderate problem.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Media coverage of unemployment and deficit, by the numbers

Clifford Marks at National Journal has a short piece looking at the media's move from writing more about unemployment to writing more about the deficit. Here are the depressing findings:

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Obama to meet with CBC tomorrow

Writes Lauren Burke at Crew of 42:
Again, the 5 major initiatives the CBC will again push for with the President are:
1. A push for budget strategies to end systemic long-term “pockets” of poverty (also known as “10-20-30″).
2. A push for a redistricting task force and focus on Section 5 of the Voting right Act.
3. A push to designate unemployment extensions as an emergency so it may be funded without a “payfor” (H.R. 589).
4. Funding for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), other programs assisting the poor.
5. A push to fund NIH programs that focus on health care disparities and the office of minority health.


As the President has event after event regarding Hispanic issues (he has an event today in El Paso and another Hispanic event at the White House on Thursday) it would appear that issues facing African Americans has been placed on the back burner. Four months into 2011, can anyone name a piece of legislation or a policy initiative President Obama is backing that a CBC member is championing… or that the National Urban League is championing… or that the NAACP is championing…? Is there something comparable to The Dream Act for the CBC? If there a core issue such as immigration that the President plans to get behind? High unemployment, high dropout rates, health disparities and high incarceration rates continue to plague the black community. Will the President advocate policy on any of these issues in the same type of vigorous way he is on, say, immigration? Or will this be another meeting that results in no specific policy goals?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Detroit has grocery stores

You may have heard this thing (I know I had) about Detroit not having any major grocery stores within the city limits, despite having 700k people. Sure enough, not true.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Sometimes I love the internet

1. Alexis Madrigal compiles knock-offs of the situation room photo.

2. From Slate, Cats of War: The Pentagon's top-secret feline special-operations program, revealed.


Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The Amy Klobuchar Problem

We have an Amy Klobuchar problem. And the worst thing we could do about it would be to just support her re-election campaign 110%.

The latest is this, via "Debt-limit defiance crosses the aisle" from Friday's Post:
Even Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), generally a stalwart White House ally, is undecided on the issue and is “hopeful” that a debt-ceiling bill can be attached to a measure to cut the federal deficit, said her spokesman, Linden Zakula.
Remember, during the Bush Administration, huge Congressional majorities -- that's including both parties -- voted numerous times to raise the debt ceiling, with no strings attached. So Klobuchar is taking a position to the right of where dozens of Republicans were a few years ago.

And then there's this: last month, Klobuchar voted for the "Stabenow-Brown" amendment, which would have blocked the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases for 2 years. That's not so good by itself, but the bigger problem is that once you block it for 2 years, it would become extremely politically difficult to un-block it. Radical stuff.

Of course, the amendment didn't have a chance of passing that day (though something similar could perhaps pass in the future). The defense of Klobuchar and Stabenow would be this: they voted for it, knowing it wasn't going anywhere, and now they can tell some moderates somewhere "hey we voted to weaken EPA!" There's an argument there, sure, but I don't think it has much merit; them being on record for this stuff is not helpful. This adopting the other side's position and rhetoric isn't something you see Republicans do quite like this.

What are we to make of Klobuchar, who's up for re-election in 2012? Matt Yglesias put the debt-limit part in some perspective:
This is all totally nuts, but it is what it is. Congressional Republicans generally manifest more unit cohesion and seem to operate on the assumption that insofar as they all stick together, that they’ll tend to benefit on average. Congressional Democrats don’t have that mentality and it complicates everything. It’s one thing to say what’s the smart posture for “Democrats” and another thing entirely to say what’s smart for Amy Klobuchar or Joe Manchin.
My question: is this even what's politically advantageous for Amy Klobuchar? There are some voters in Minnesota, like any state, who will vote based in some part on deficit issues or deficit rhetoric. Not many, but some. But are these people folks who would be potential Klobuchar voters anyway? Probably not that many. And even if they are, they are hardly votes Klobuchar needs.

It's certainly what you'd expect that Klobuchar (and others) would be cautious as they approach re-election. But this goes beyond that. If Klobuchar just stayed quiet on the issue, that would be fine. Remember, she is quite popular in Minnesota.

Look, I understand Klobuchar is not a progressive hero, and may never be. That's probably OK. She's voted the right way on the vast majority of things. It's a problem, though, when a Minnesota Democrat starts doing stuff like playing with the debt ceiling and taking up right-wing rhetoric.

I predict this: Klobuchar will tack further to the right if consequences aren't put on her doing so. Jumping on board her re-election bandwagon is the worst thing progressives could do. She needs to be shown that enthusiasm from her base will suffer if she continues to move right.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Tornadoes, hurricanes, and climate change

Bryan Walsh of TIME had a post up just a few weeks ago perusing the science on this. We have some moderate understanding of a climate change / hurricane association; with tornadoes, it's murky, he says. USAToday looks at a bit of the research and comes up with a somewhat stronger connection.

Post has better video from outside the White House

Forget all the grainy cell phone videos, the Post sent a videographer, Madeline Marshall, to get a quality video. (I feel I should note when they do something right).

Sunday, May 01, 2011

AP, WSJ, NPR Falsely Claim 2 Billion Viewers for Royal Wedding

It's truly astonishing how many media outlets forwarded on the stat that two billion people were going to or did watch the wedding. It's like, you have to throw out all common sense and the slightest inkling of skepticism, and then maybe you'd do it. Might as well throw in the sighting of Elvis in the shopping mall.

The "two billion" figure started with the British culture secretary saying it, in early April. How he would have any idea how many people might watch this was never clear. Sure enough there didn't turn out to be anything there. Yet outlet after outlet -- including AFP -- reported it at the time. Not many successfully followed up.

Looking through the clips of the last few days for "two billion" it is heavily British news outlets, as well as smaller and/or local news sites that did this. But it's not just them.

The Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, Democracy Now, and NPR's Morning Edition and Tell Me More all told their audience of some form of the "two billion" stat. The LATimes went with a nonsensical hedge in their lede: "before a potential worldwide audience of two billion people who tuned in on television and the Internet." Potential! Hah.

Angus Johnston has a post looking at the actual viewership data so far, trying to start to get a better idea of what viewership may have actually been. More data will be available in the coming days.