Posts Tagged ‘Chris Hansen’


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We here at Dinosaurs try not to engage in petty celebrity news–both for the sake of dignity and because we know other people do it better.


But this was too good to pass up.

If you told me the woman standing next to him was Mariska Hargitay, I’d believe you.

Happy Friday!

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The Obama camp replied:

“It is shameful and downright perverse for the McCain campaign to use a bill that was written to protect young children from sexual predators as a recycled and discredited political attack against a father of two young girls – a position that his friend Mitt Romney also holds. Last week, John McCain told Time magazine he couldn’t define what honor was. Now we know why.”

Oh. Fuckin’. Snap.

Frankly, the American people ought to be insulted by this kind of thing.

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Yep, it’s come to that. So a couple items:

Item the First: Palin Girls Live! Live! Live! The Baltimore/Washington Examiner, a reliable if right-wing free daily, ran some photos of Bristol Palin from TMZ today. Among others:

Begs the obvious question: Was she drinking when she was pregnant? (And, if not, then this means she was likely 16 rather than 17 when she boarded the Captain’s ship. The full set of photos is available here. The Christian Right appears prepared to forgive the baby, (it just shows she doesn’t use Godless condoms!) but the Myspace-type tonguing another girl might not come off so harmless.

Item the Second: Executive Experience: Americans haven’t elected a Senator since Jack Kennedy. Obviously that will change this year, but it does reflect the public’s greater comfort with executive-level candidates as opposed to legislative ones. So just a bit of trivia to consider: FY 07 – 08 budget for Wasilla, Alaska: $13 million. Barack Obama July 2008 fundraising (just July): $51 million.

Consider just how effective the entire campaign has been: no major leaks, no really preventable scandals [Wright included,] effective responses to problems when they do arise, a strong VP choice, dynamic outreach, epic fundraising, and a bouncy convention.) Eighteen months of running such a tight campaign, that alone has to be some kind of credit to the Democratic ticket. Especially since, as Hillary showed us, the inmates always want to run the asylum.

Item the Third: Biblioclasm: There’s your SAT word. As Mayor of the aforementioned small town, the Right Reverend Palin decided to cleanse the naughty from the local library. Time magazine recalls:

“…Stein says that as mayor, Palin continued to inject religious beliefs into her policy at times. “She asked the library how she could go about banning books,” he says, because some voters thought they had inappropriate language in them. “The librarian was aghast.” That woman, Mary Ellen Baker, couldn’t be reached for comment, but news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire Baker for not giving “full support” to the mayor.”

Is the Mayor even capable of firing a town librarian? More important question, are we seriously discussing a small-town Mayor’s proclivity for book-banning in the context of a national election? Justice Potter Stewart wrote: “Censorship reflects a society’s lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime.” See, we’re not supposed to do that in America. Now, maybe in Free Alaska

Item the Fourth: Will she quit? I don’t know if I trust the political prediction markets. They seemed to get Biden, but missed with Palin. Anyway, all they do is essentially trade on composite public information, rather than offering special insight. That said, InTrade had odds on a Palin withdrawal set originally around 3%. However, they rose as high as 18% today before settling around 12%. It’s not just the baby mama drama – Palin is also facing impeachment back at home.

Quick and unsupportable prediction is, no. As bad as the pick has been, it’s too late for second-guessing. She followed a process in which Rove wanted Romney, McCain wanted Lieberman, and Palin won out. Replacing her with ex-Dem Lieberman or pro-choice Ridge would be a big fat “fuck you” to the far-rightists who just ponied up, and McCain plain old hates Field Marshal Turkmenromney. With the convention passing, it’s too late to introduce a no-name like Pawlenty or Portman. Newt Gingrich? There’s just no Plan B at this stage, so get used to Palin.

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Palin has been my nightmare scenario for the longest. That’s not to say she doesn’t have significant, exploitable weaknesses. It’s just that she also has what the basketball scouts call “tremendous upside potential,” mainly in the PR department. With a wholesome family, nice looks and a folksy, heartland-ish style, she could be a killer. It won’t take much for the loquacious Biden to overplay his hand and look like he’s hitting a girl, while the right-brigades get to work setting expectations unconscionably low.

Besides, it’s not like the Republicans had a great backbench to pick from. Huckabee would’ve been a strong choice, but was apparently never even vetted. Bobby Jindal, fatty Limbaugh’s Reagan 2.0, could be top-ticket material in 2012 or 2016 so he wasn’t going anywhere yet. Ridge is pro-choice and mainly known for duct tape, while Lieberman can’t pull in Jews any more and Pawlenty is a non-entity like Rob Portman. Field Marshal Turkmenromney looks like a used car salesman, even if daddy’s carcass would’ve delivered Michigan.

I will say, seeing the immediate response has somewhat alleviated my worry about the impact of the Palin pick. Still though, she’s far and away the best of ’em tactically. Here’s a list of some variables to consider with Alaska’s Next Top Model:

The womyn thing. Peeling off a couple percent of the Clintonista dead-enders could be crucial in a close election. On the other hand, Palin’s total lack of experience, name-recognition or past relationship with McCain suggests pretty blatantly that this is a private-parts-pander. Hopefully, this is just demeaning enough to turn off at least as many people as it sways. The Governor is hard-right on abortion and NARAL is already rolling out the big guns. (Mireille will bring us a little more feminist analysis on Palin coming up soon.)

All in the family. They call her husband the “first dude” of Alaska. She has a son in Iraq and one with Down’s Syndrome. The Palins are straight from heartland central casting, with five kids named “Bristol,” “Piper,” “Track,” “Trig” and “Willow.” Governor Palin is a plainspoken hockey mom, which makes her light years better for public consumption than another wrinkly old white man.

Reaffirming the narrative. Someone on CNN just used the term “bit of a maverick.” Well fuck. me. This, more than anything, is why I’m afraid of the Palin pick. The press loves McCain. The shine is coming off a bit, but there’s only eight weeks left to undo eight years of unfiltered adulation. In Governor Palin’s first speech Friday, she claimed to have stood up to lobbyists, “challenged the status quo,” and appointed Democrats to her administration, as well as trashing the “bridge to nowhere.” In terms of messaging, Palin is the best the GOP could have done to both counter Obama with their own hope/change/ponies while re-enforcing the maverick myth.

But is Palin into bondage? That should score this site some cheap hits. Really though, it’s just a reacharound to the Quayle question. (Yes, that link is both explanatory and safe for work.) Some of the regulars on Daily Kos today drew the comparison, which belies a dangerous underappreciation of the gullibility of Americans. See, people tend to forget that Quayle won. George Bush the Elder’s choice of Thunder Dan was both a sop to both the right-wing base and an effort to make the ticket less geriatric. But despite the debate thrashing, and all the late-night humor, Bush and Quayle never relinquished their convention bounce. Just because someone is inexperienced, ineloquent and a world-historical risk on the heartbeat test doesn’t mean they won’t carry forty states. Underestimate at your own risk.

So those are the things that scare me. In terms of her liabilities, Palin had literally met the candidate one time before today; “hasn’t really focused much” on the war in Iraq; and basically doesn’t have a position on it. Barack Obama may have less foreign policy experience than his Veep, but he’s been in the Senate for four years and sits on both the Foreign Relations and Homeland Security Committees. Also, the simple fact that he’s been running for President for eighteen months (!) means briefings briefings briefings in addition to his Senate portfolio. Compared with this, Palin spent two terms as a City Councilwoman and then six years more as Mayor of a town of 6,000 people. This is not a credible running mate for a man who, as Mireille likes to put it, “is older than the zip code.” At best, they get on stage together and he looks like her father; at worst, “I’m Chris Hansen and I’m with Dateline NBC.”  (PS someone forward her a job description plz.)

If you want more reasons to laugh at this pick, Andrew Sullivan appears / to / be / collecting / them. In short, it’s a double or nothing pick. Palin strengthens McCain’s mavericky home-spun bullshitter image and fits neatly into his “Country First” campaign slogan. On the other hand, she really wasn’t vetted well and one Republican strategist colorfully compared the pick to “playing poker blind.”

So then, to answer the Lenin question. Attacking Palin is extremely risky. She’s folksy and attractive, so going right at her even on policy matters is a losing proposition. Best to respond by kindly and carefully ignoring her. Palin adds zero substance to the ticket, and John McCain is looking like a larger target after both the housing gaffe and the truly pitch-perfect Democratic convention. Pound the hell out of McCain, let Palin shake some hands, pray on a very long-shot that she gets impeached back home, and keep on keepin’ on.

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Bikini Waxes for Tweens

“Virgin hair can be waxed so successfully that growth can be permanently stopped in just 2 to 6 sessions. Save your child a lifetime of waxing … and put the money in the bank for her college education instead!”

Yes, you read that correctly.

There is very little I feel I can say on this subject that is productive and not just flippantly indignant. I am bewildered, but not in the least bit surprised. What I find incredibly disturbing is that the hairless pornographic aesthetic has become the norm. To teach girls at such a young age that pubic hair is something to be ashamed of and not a sign of maturing and good health is doing them a disservice. It reinforces (yet again) that there is something inherently wrong with their body and it is not only normal but desirable to go through extreme pain to correct it.

The very act of waxing is utterly brutal. I think there is something very out of sorts with a parent if they freely subject their child to what might as well be medieval torture.

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August 14 (Originally posted by Mireille)
Long gone are the days when there was nothing more sexually suggestive on 7-year-old girl’s panties than Lambchop.

Disney has caused controversy across the pond by selling packs of underpants with the phrase “Dive In” on the front. It’s apparently referencing a line from the bewilderingly successful cash cow High School Musical. I find it difficult to swallow that after the PR fiasco of Vanessa Hudgens’ naked photos Disney would be naive enough to let something like this slide out of its sweatshops and into your local Walmart–Disney, the company parents know and trust for wholesome family entertainment.

And yet there is simply no greater public illustration of the virginal sexual self objectification of young girls than the current crop of Disney stars. Miley Cyrus, who has ad nauseum professed her devotion to abstinence, has many-a-leaked myspace photo like this that make the controversy over her pictures in Vanity Fair seem ridiculous. By willingly injecting her status as zealous virgin into her media narrative, she and so many others (The Jonas Brothers, Selena Gomez, Brittney Spears, Hilary Duff ect. ect.) have found a way to talk about their sexuality (and make the public mind linger on it) with complete impunity.

Miley Cyrus is not at all atypical in her efforts to toe the line between ‘wholesome girl’ and ‘desireable sexual commodity’. Virginal sexual self objectification is a broad social trend–the result of a Pussy Cat Dolls culture coupled with abstinence only sex education. Women learn their self worth is, first and for most, based on their sexual desirability but are shunned if they actually want to engage in sexual activity for their own pleasure. 3 waves of feminism later, women’s public sexuality is still not one of action. Most of us find still needs the constant encouragement and validation of the male gaze. This has not wained, it has worsened–becoming more ingrained in the collective psyche with the ever more ubiquitous image of women as cut of meat. Raunchy Disney lingerie seems only the logical next step.

Perhaps there is a connection between the appalling upswing in the sexualization of little girls and the popularity of To Catch a Predator. As I’m sure I will find myself asking a lot on this blog: Where the hell is Chris Hansen when you need him?

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August 10 (Originally posted by Mischa)

The Russian effort in Georgia has a powerful ally: hackers. (You were expecting maybe bear cavalry?) Several Georgian state servers, as well as the websites of the Office of the President, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ministry of Defense have been hijacked, starting weeks in advance of the outbreak of war. The main government website is still down as of 10 AM today.

The specifics of the cyber-arms race are over my head, but Defensetech has a useful blurb on Russian capacity. It is difficult to fit these developments into conventional frameworks, as the lines between the state and private citizens are extremely blurry. Sixty percent of Russian cyber-crime, from porno to politics, runs through the shadowy Russian Business Network. RBN is essentially a hosting service for criminals. Moscow’s line on RBN has not been reassuring: “RBN doesn’t exist; well it does, but in England.” At one point, it disappeared outright. While formally a non-state organization, many tech and defense bloggers believe RBN is at the very least protected by political allies. Obviously it is near-impossible to conclusively prove such cloak-and-dagger allegations. That said, FSB ties would hardly be surprising.

The best-known cyber-attacks before this came in 2007, when Russian hackers hit Estonian websites to protest the removal of a Soviet-era statue. The Kremlin denied responsibility, and the attacks were eventually attributed to an “online flash mob.” The ringleader was caught, and fined $1,600. While the attacks were disruptive, they were small potatoes compared to the political chaos that could result from hacked elections. (Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon.)

This strategypage.com piece delineates three types of cyber-warfare: limited stealth operations (LSO); cyberwar only (CO); and cyberwar in support of conventional war. It isn’t clear whether LSOs are “limited” by intent or simply capacity. CO is what happened in Estonia, and is likely to be carried out by non-state actors regarding single issues or targets. The final category, support cyberwar, includes traditional battlefield operations such as disrupting communications. The problem is the expanding definition of “targets” in the modern era, with the actual military increasingly relying on all manner of economic and political support structures. Cyber-warfare doesn’t just mean jamming the enemy’s radars; it means shutting down their stock exchange.

What we’re currently seeing in Georgia is the disruption of state websites by (possibly) private-sector hackers, simultaneous with old-fashioned Russian military operations. Such para-state hackery has the potential to screw up track-1 negotiations. What happens if two heads of state sign a cease-fire, but private citizens in each country continue trashing each other’s banks and government websites? What happens if an entity like the RBN ponies up to pay a hacker’s fines for working against foreign governments? Who faces charges, and in what jurisdiction?

All that said, time for a caveat: Much of the PANIC PANIC PANIC about the future of cyber-warfare is coming from individuals with a vested professional and financial interest in it. One commenter on Defensetech makes the point: Be wary of “threat” claims from people who make their living defending against those threats. A piece from the Council on Foreign Relations notes disagreements on the threat level from cyber-attacks.

Even if this trend is less dangerous than some claim, there is still reason to be wary. One of the major problems with the fight against terrorism is the lack of clear legal frameworks for it. Who are combatants? How do their rights compare to traditional, uniformed soldiers? When is the state a terrorist actor? Can it be one? Laws on terrorism are being written as we go along, often with horrible outcomes. Cyber-warfare lends itself to similar shell games with its intangible, asymmetrical nature, and the international community would be well advised to get on the question sooner rather than later.

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