Tuesday, July 19, 2022

No Backsies

I promise you this is a real thing from TPM:

The board that administers Pulitzer Prizes denied former President Trump’s request to revoke the prizes that the Washington Post and the New York Times won in 2018 for their reports on the Trump campaign and his administration’s ties to Russian interference in the presidential election.

In a statement on Monday, the Pulitzer board said it rejected Trump’s demand after it commissioned two independent reviews that were “conducted by individuals with no connection to the institutions whose work was under examination, nor any connection to each other.” Both reviews concluded that the awards stand.

“The separate reviews converged in their conclusions: that no passages or headlines, contentions or assertions in any of the winning submissions were discredited by facts that emerged subsequent to the conferral of the prizes,” the board wrote.

Trump has challenged the awards in the last three years, calling the reports no more than a politically motivated farce” and claiming that the newspapers falsely reported on a “non-existent link between the Kremlin and the Trump Campaign.” The former president complained about unnamed sources in the award-winning articles.

“I would expect that you will take the necessary steps to rectify the situation, including stripping the recipients of their prize and retracting the false statements which remain on the Pulitzer website. Without holding the recipients to such a high standard of accountability, the integrity of the Pulitzer Prize namesake stands to be wholly compromised,” Trump wrote in a letter to the board last fall.

Trump has repeatedly denied that Russian interference helped him win the 2016 presidential election against his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton or that his campaign colluded with Russian operatives. Trump dismissed investigative efforts, including the Russia probe led by former special counsel Robert Mueller, as a “witch hunt.”

The Post broke news on the Justice Department’s concerns with Trump’s then-incoming national adviser Michael Flynn was not transparent with then-Vice President-elect Mike Pence about his communications with Russia’s ambassador, making him potentially vulnerable to Russian blackmail.

The Times was the first to report that Donald Trump Jr. agreed to meet with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer he believed could dig up dirt on Clinton, following an email that informed him that the material was part of an effort backed by the Russian government to aid his father’s candidacy.

The reason this isn’t from The Onion or Andy Borowitz is because it’s too crazy to be believed.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Let’s Talk Real Estate

This is a real headline in the Washington Post:

Trump postpones Denmark trip after prime minister declines to sell him Greenland

And the people of Denmark uttered a collective “Åh, gudskelov!”

Meanwhile, other countries are scrambling to find properties that they can refuse to sell in order to keep him away.  Buckingham Palace said that Canada is not for sale, but they could offer him a deal on Hong Kong (which they got rid of in 1997, but he doesn’t read, so take the money and run).

Can we figure out a way to use this ploy to keep him out of Florida?

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Molecules Of Freedom

This is not from The Onion.

According to the Department of Energy, the next critical export from the United States is made from “molecules of U.S. Freedom.”

You may wonder, what are these molecules?

The technical answer is liquefied natural gas. Or, if you are in charge of energy policy for the Trump administration, “freedom gas.”

Let that seep in.

On Tuesday, the department announced plans to increase exports of the fuel source from a new liquefaction plant that will be built off the coast of Texas on Quintana Island by Freeport LNG of Houston.

That announcement was quickly overshadowed by the colorful terminology in the release.

“Increasing export capacity from the Freeport LNG project is critical to spreading freedom gas throughout the world by giving America’s allies a diverse and affordable source of clean energy,” Mark W. Menezes, the under secretary of energy, said in a news release.

Steven Winberg, the assistant secretary for fossil energy who signed the export order, said that the announcement underscored the administration’s “commitment” to an America-first agenda.

“I am pleased that the Department of Energy is doing what it can to promote an efficient regulatory system that allows for molecules of U.S. freedom to be exported to the world,” Mr. Winberg said.

The last time someone around here let loose molecules of U.S. freedom, we blamed the dog.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Passing This Along

No, it’s not from The Onion.  But nowadays it seems like every news story has to come with that disclaimer.

From the Guardian:

A report that Donald Trump is looking to walk away from the World Trade Organisation and instead adopt a United States Fair and Reciprocal Tariff Act, or Fart Act, has been greeted with loud amusement on Twitter.

Axios reported that it had received a leaked early draft of a bill ordered by the president, that would see America take the unlikely step of abandoning WTO rules, allowing Trump to raise tariffs without the consent of Congress.

The bill the existence of which has not been independently confirmed would be a dramatic shift in trade policy with wide-reaching impacts, but it was the name of the proposed bill that caught people’s attention.

Share this with the nearest twelve-year-old.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Monday, April 11, 2016

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Facebook Doesn’t Get It

Why should I have to tell you that the following is not from The Onion?

Earlier this week, Facebook announced a plan to start testing a “satire” tag, which you may soon find affixed to headlines like “Tips for Being an Unarmed Black Teen” from sites like the Onion and ClickHole. And although on its surface, the move sounds a lot like a headline from the very satirical sites Facebook intends to warn its users of, the social-networking site may be on to something.

Because, as the Washington Post’s Caitlin Dewey points out, this isn’t just about satire; it’s also about the problem of purposely false “news” stories. Lesser-known and less obviously joke-y sites like the Daily Currant, Empire News, National Report, and the News Nerd will get the “satire” tag, too. So this could actually be a step toward addressing the problem of hoaxes spreading wildly online, by cutting them off at what has become many people’s main source for news: Facebook.

What Dewey fails to mention, however, is that the Post itself fell for one of these satirical headlines just last year, citing a Daily Currant report that Sarah Palin was joining the news network Al-Jazeera America as a contributor. (She wasn’t.) Palin, for perhaps obvious reasons, is a recurrent figure in fake headlines that tend to trick real news outlets: In 2011, Rachel Maddow fell for a (fake) Christwire column calling for Palin to lead an American invasion in Egypt. About a week later, both Time and US Weekly reported on a fictitious fight Palin was supposedly trying to pick with Christina Aguilera over her botched lyrics to the National Anthem at the Super Bowl that year.

Sorry, folks, but anyone who falls for a satirical news story deserves whatever shame or scorn that is heaped on them.  Let me be the first to note that I’ve read my share of satires and even gone so far as to blink and think “Really?”  But as far as I know, none of them have ever been posted here without me knowing that they were very well crafted pieces of humor.  And if one ever did, I’d say “Well played.”

Satire is a fine art and when done well is often written better than most news out there.  Facebook is doing a disservice to both their readers and the crafters of satire by feeling that they have to tell us that it is satire.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Their Stupid

A teacher has been fired from an English-language school in Utah for using the word “homophone” in a sentence.  This is not from The Onion:

Homophones, as any English grammarian can tell you, are words that sound the same but have different meanings and often different spellings — such as be and bee, through and threw, which and witch, their and there.

This concept is taught early on to foreign students learning English because it can be confusing to someone whose native language does not have that feature.

But when the social-media specialist for a private Provo-based English language learning center wrote a blog explaining homophones, he was let go for creating the perception that the school promoted a gay agenda.

Tim Torkildson says after he wrote the blog on the website of his employer, Nomen Global Language Center, his boss and Nomen owner Clarke Woodger, called him into his office and told him he was fired.

As Torkildson tells it, Woodger said he could not trust him and that the blog about homophones was the last straw.

“Now our school is going to be associated with homosexuality,” Woodger complained, according to Torkildson, who posted the exchange on his Facebook page.

I’ll bet he thinks drinking homogenized milk turns you gay.

HT to J.M.G.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Fiendish Plot

As I noted briefly yesterday, a lot of people are watching the World Cup, including President Obama.

Of course that drove some folks around the bend at Fox News.

“I’m suspect. I am suspect. Because here’s the thing: why at a time when there’s so many national issues and international issues of such prominence, I am a little suspicious of yet another bread and circus routine. Let’s roll out the marijuana, pull back the laws, and get people even more crazy about yet another entertainment event.

“I think this is to distract people. This is like Rome. This is like Rome. I can see why Obama would love the World Cup…. I think it’s interesting that at time when there’s so much to pay attention to of such great import people are playing games – more than ever.”

Yes, why isn’t he answering questions about Benghazi!?

Ann Coulter got in her $0.02 by knocking soccer in general as un-American, further proof that her attempt to be the Andrew Dice Clay of punditry struggles on.

I wonder how long it’s going to take them to figure out that President Obama is doing this on purpose just to drive them to the point that they’re reduced to a mass of gibbering idiocy.  I realize that’s not a long drive for some of the more creative, but it’s gotten to the point that it’s like playing throw the invisible ball with a dog.  Hours of fun.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Common Knowledge

Wow, this is off the rails even for an upstate Florida Republican:

Common Core may not be a well-intentioned set of improved educational standards, as supporters would have you believe, but instead a trojan horse designed to turn every schoolchild in Florida, if not America, gay.

This ominous warning came at an anti-Common Core event in March courtesy of Florida State Rep. Charles Van Zant (R). Speaking at the “Operation Education Conference” in Orlando, Van Zant warned that officials implementing Common Core in Florida are “promoting as hard as they can any youth that is interested in the LGBT agenda.”

Their aim, Van Zant warned, was to “attract every one of your children to become as homosexual as they possibly can.” He then apologized to the crowd for having to be the bearer of bad news. “I really hate to bring you that news,” the Florida Republican said, “but you need to know.”

No, sorry, that’s not from The Onion, more’s the pity.

I hate to break it to you, Mr. Van Zant, but the copy of the LGBT Agenda Monthly that I got when I came out in 1976 didn’t have that in it.  But then, I only got the paperback.  (I hear it’s on Kindle now.)  Some of the topics covered were: “Coordinating Your Accessories,”  “Having The Talk with Mom & Dad,”  “How To Disco Without Sweating” (it was the ’70’s, after all), and “Barbra: The New Judy?”  Nothing about recruiting.  For one thing, the paperwork is a nightmare.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


I heard about this event a couple of days ago but waited to see if it was for real or from The Onion.  Apparently it’s for real.

bundyfest 04-23-14

Come celebrate TOTAL FREEDOM at BUNDYFEST, just across the road from the Cliven Bundy Ranch, in Bunkerville, Nevada! 240 bands, 24 hours a day, for a SOLID ROCKIN’ MONTH!!!!
*PENIS ERECTION CONTEST: Erect the largest penis in the open desert, win valuable prize! (tbd)

BACKGROUND: For years, we paid permitting fees to hold Burning Man on the beautiful Playa in Northern Nevada. But now, Cliven Bundy has shown us a NEW WAY! ABSOLUTE FREEDOM! Bundy has declared the entire area surrounding Bundy Ranch as a TOTALLY RULES-FREE ZONE! ANYTHING GOES! WOO-HOO!!!

Why should Burning Man end on September 1st? Swing down to Vegas for a few days for some R&R, a few good buffets, and then HEAD ON UP TO BUNDYFEST! All 50,000+ Burning Man participants are invited to attend — and as many more as can make the trip from anywhere in the world! 100,000? 250,000? THE SKY IS THE LIMIT AT BUNDYFEST! The desert surrounding Bundy’s ranch is LIMITLESS!

Sounds like fun.

(PS: BYO outhouse.)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Hey Your Shoe Is Unhinged

The latest conspiracy theory from the right is that the incident where some poor misguided soul threw a shoe at Hillary Clinton was staged for her benefit.

Rush Limbaugh jumped on board the crazy train Monday, telling listeners that he can “totally relate” to those who believe that “everything the Clintons do is staged or choreographed.” While he has not studied the incident in detail, he believes what people told him about Clinton’s reaction not being “natural.”

“I’m sorry, I’m ill-equipped to comment,” Limbaugh said, proceeding, of course to comment at some length. “Maybe it’s because, in my subconscious, I think it was staged, or set up, or whatever. … I don’t know why anybody would be throwing a shoe at Hillary unless — maybe it’s an attempt to make the Benghazi people look like nuts and lunatics and wackos.”

The Benghazi people don’t need any help in looking like nuts and lunatics and wackos.

Monday, March 3, 2014

What The Heil Is Wrong With This Picture

Via the San Jose Mercury News, not The Onion:

Trail Life Boy Scouts

This is the response by anti-gay Christians to the half-assed concession by the Boy Scouts of America of allowing openly gay boys into scouting, but not adults.

Trail Life has established units in more than 40 states, mostly from Boy Scouts and parents who feel their old organization has lost its way. It has about 600 units up and running or in the process of registration, executive director Rob Green said. As many as half of those who have expressed interest were not affiliated with the Boy Scouts beforehand, Green said.

It is still a tiny movement compared to Scouting, which has nearly 2.5 million youth members and remains a powerful force in American life, even with a 6 percent drop in membership last year.

Trail Life promotes itself on its website as the “premier national character development organization for young men which produces Godly and responsible husbands, fathers and citizens.”

And for the Fatherland.

Update: John Stemberger, chairman of Trail Life, wants the AP to remove the photo from its archives and says that the image was “unintentional.”

Unfortunately the reporter (either intentionally or unintentionally) caught this photograph at the exact angle which makes their arms look like they are in some kind of a stationary mid-air salute– which they are not.

He went on to note that “”several unfriendly blogs online are likely still carrying the highly misleading photo.”  Hey, I’m a Quaker.  You can’t get more Friendly than that.

HT to Balloon Juice.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

More GOP Outreach

After effectively killing immigration reform, the Republicans have decided it’s time to reach out to Hispanics.

Seven months after the Republican National Committee (RNC) released a report recommendation to reach out to the Hispanic population, the Republican National Committee has hired “Hispanic Engagement Staff” in seven states. The latest push by the Republican Party to engage Hispanics comes at a time when the party is perceived as out of touch with Hispanic interests.

On Monday, the RNC released a statement, indicating that it would hire Hispanic State Directors and Hispanic Field Directors in California, Florida, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia.

Buena suerte, vato. (Good luck, fella.)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Going To The Dogs

The Obamas got a new puppy.  And Tucker Carlson is scandalized.

It’s a dog named “Sunny.” Apparently it’s a girl and it was born in 2012 in Michigan, where the unemployment rate was 8.8 percent last month. It is the Obamas’ second dog, after “Bo.”


“A Portuguese Water Dog can range in cost wildly. On average, one will pay between $1,400 and $2,000. President Barack Obama has this breed of animal,” according to an answer on Ask.com.

With the addition of Sunny, the Obamas now have two black Portuguese water dogs.

The Obamas do not have any white dogs.

You cannot make this stuff up.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Restoration Theatre

Jennifer Rubin’s puff piece heralding the restoration of George W. Bush’s reputation in celebration of the opening of his presidential library brought much mirth, not to mention a fair share of gob-smacking and head-desking.

Scott Lemiuex at LGM:

Shorter Designated Republican Stenographer Jennifer Rubin:  “George Bush was the greatest.  With notably rare exceptions, there were no terrorist attacks on the American homeland when George W. Bush was president.  And hundreds of thousands dead and trillions of dollars spent attacking a country that posed no threat whatsoever to the United States is nothing compared to the horrors of the deficit.  And don’t kid yourself, George W. Bush hated deficits.  You think there would be unfunded wars or corporate boondoggles* with him in the White House?  Please.”

*Verbatim Jen Rubin: “He is responsible for one of the most popular and fiscally sober entitlement plans, Medicare Part D.”  I swear.   This is performance art, right?  Almost every line could be a “verbatim” bit.

To her credit, she did not say, “Well, at least our guy is white.”

Thursday, February 21, 2013

There Are Friends…

This is just plain hilarious.

A couple of weeks ago, the conservative Web site Breitbart.com reported that former Senator Chuck Hagel had received financing from a group called “Friends of Hamas.’’

“Senate sources told Breitbart News exclusively that they have been informed that one of the reasons that President Barack Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, has not turned over requested documents on his sources of foreign funding is that one of the names listed is a group purportedly called ‘Friends of Hamas,’ ” the Web site reported, noting a White House spokesman “hung up,’’ when asked about it.

The hang-up was apparently enough of a confirmation to give the report ample attention, especially among conservative pundits.

“There was a report that came out last week, not confirmed yet,” Andrew McCarthy, a National Review contributing editor and former federal prosecutor, said on “Lou Dobbs Tonight’’ on the Fox Business Network, “that one of the groups behind the speeches may have been an outfit called ‘Friends of Hamas.’ ”


Yet, there has been no evidence that any such group exists. And on Wednesday, a reporter with the New York Daily News, Dan Friedman, said he believed he was the inadvertent source of the rumor, born of a joke he made while speaking with a Republican aide on Capitol Hill.

“Hagel was in hot water for alleged hostility to Israel. So I asked my source, had Hagel given a speech to, say, the ‘Junior League of Hezbollah, in France’? And: What about ‘Friends of Hamas’? The names were so over-the-top, so linked to terrorism in the Middle East, that it was clear I was talking hypothetically and hyperbolically,” Mr. Friedman wrote.

The Breitbart report, he said, hit the following day, leading him to check back with his initial Capitol Hill contact. “The person denied sharing my query with Breitbart but admitted the chance of having mentioned it to others,” Mr. Friedman wrote.

Ben Shapiro, who wrote the original Breitbart post, is strenuously denying that his report came from a joke originated by Mr. Friedman. “Our Senate source denies that Friedman is the source of this information. ‘I have received this information from three separate sources, none of whom was Friedman,’ the source said.”

Hey, Ben, pull my finger.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sunday Reading

A Different Language — Former Congressman Tom Allen on the modern GOP.

Nothing I had learned about politics before my election prepared me for the intense polarization of contemporary congressional politics. When I first went to Washington to work for Sen. Ed Muskie in 1970, Republicans and Democrats debated public issues vigorously, but there was more genuine give-and-take and mutual respect, and the players did not treat politics as a blood sport. Six years on the Portland City Council taught me that most local issues could be resolved without petty or partisan combat.

Dwight Eisenhower accepted the major legislation of the New Deal. John Kennedy started the legislative push for a substantial tax cut. Lyndon Johnson came from a Senate known for working across the aisle. Richard Nixon signed clean water and clean air legislation. Ronald Reagan raised taxes many times to deal with mounting deficits created by his 1981 tax cut; George H. W. Bush did the same, to resounding criticism from the Right. Bill Clinton antagonized elements of his Democratic base by supporting a balanced federal budget, free trade and welfare reform.

George W. Bush was different. His election in 2000 was, in hindsight, stage two of the Newt Gingrich revolution. Senator Lincoln Chafee (R.-R.I.) recalled, shortly after Bush’s election, that Dick Cheney quickly laid out to a small group of moderate Senate Republicans, “a shockingly divisive political agenda for the new Bush administration, glossing over nearly every pledge the Republican ticket had made to the American voter.” In his first term, President Bush abandoned international treaties, invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, and drove through two massive tax cuts that primarily benefitted wealthy Americans.

Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign employed “microtargeting” as a part of their successful strategy of mobilizing the Republican base instead of reaching out to the middle. That political strategy was consistent with the Bush administration’s style of governing and the way Gingrich and Tom DeLay controlled Congress: Drive through the most right-wing policy that the Republican caucus could support; only move legislation that has the support of a substantial majority of the majority party; take no prisoners.

As I listened over the years to baffling arguments in committee, on the House floor or in private conversations, I lost hope in our capacity for bipartisan agreement on our major public policy challenges. On budgets, taxes, health care and climate change, the evidence that mattered to us made no difference to our Republican colleagues. What Democrats took as well-established fact, Republicans understood as easily dismissed opinions. When we wondered, “Do these guys believe what they say?” our answer was usually no. But if the Republicans didn’t believe the things they were saying, they were extraordinarily gifted performers on the House floor.

Major Dilemma — Matthew O’Brien on liberal arts majors and the economy.

Is our college students learning?

Rarely is the question not asked nowadays. Graduates now face a tough labor market and even tougher debt burdens, which has left many struggling to find work that pays enough to pay back what they owe. Today, as my colleague Jordan Weissmann points out, young alums aren’t stuck in dead-end jobs much more than usual (despite the scare stories you may have heard). But that’s a cold comfort for grads who borrowed a lot to cover the high cost of their degrees.

There are two, well, schools of thought about why freshly-minted grads have had such a tough time recently. You can blame the smarty-pants majors or blame the economy. In other words, students can’t get good jobs either because they aren’t learning (at least not the right things) in college, or because there aren’t enough good jobs, period.

This is far from an academic debate. If recent grads can’t find good work because they didn’t learn any marketable skills, there’s little the government can do to help, besides “nudging” current students to be more practical. And that’s exactly what conservative governors in Florida and North Carolina are considering with proposals to charge humanities majors higher tuition than, say, science majors at state schools.

But there’s an obvious question. If liberal arts majors “didn’t learn much in school,” as Jane Shaw put it in the Wall Street Journal, why haven’t they always had trouble finding work? Are there just more of them now, or is this lack of learning just a recent phenomenon?

Breaking News — Jim Romenseko with a story about The Onion that should be from The Onion.

When WSFA-TV (Montgomery, Ala.) reporter Jennifer Oravet read in The Onion that PR firm Hill & Knowlton was advising the U.S. to cut ties with Alabama, she went to work, made a phone call and posted her findings on Facebook:

“I contacted the PR firm listed in this article, they claim the article is ‘ficticious’ and have no involvement in the alleged study.”

Actually, Jennifer, all Onion articles are fictitious. (Just one c.)

Did she know that when she put in the call to Hill & Knowlton? I called WSFA to find out and was told that Oravet is taking the day off. A newsroom colleague – she wouldn’t give me her name – insisted that the reporter/anchor knew the Hill & Knowlton/Alabama story was fake from the start.

“It doesn’t sound like it based on her Facebook post,” I said.

“Did you see her report?” the colleague asked.

I said I had, and figured she had been set straight about The Onion before going on air. Wrong, I was told — Oravet always knew it was a satirical paper.

WSFA Facebook commenters have their doubts, too. One writes:

“I don’t know what’s better, her original post, or her backpedaling to ‘cover up; her mistake. I’ve done dummy things like that (most recent when I applauded Beyonce at the inauguration… lip sync anyone?) but come on, admit you’re stupid sometimes just like the rest of us.”

Another person writes:

“LOL, so I read through the comments and I see that someone “demands” we give [her] a break. Seriously?? Someone takes the Onion as serious and we should give a break??? Eff that, this was a fail of epic proportions and should be exploited to the nth degree. There’s honestly no coming back from this! Only in Bama!”

I’ve emailed Oravet for comment, hoping she occasionally checks in on days off. I also called and emailed WSFA news director Scott Duff earlier this afternoon.

Doonesbury — Baby, baby.