How to tell if a vendor holds both you and their own employees in contempt

The following is a screenshot of a recent communication I had with Dell after I requested information about some new employee machines:

Screen Shot 2014 01 10 at 3 48 14 PM

The areas in the red boxes are random advertisements inserted into every message this guy sends me. He can’t turn it off. I get different ones on every message.

That’s completely fucking bananas. What idiot marketing droid came up with this shit? Sweet Jesus, man, how did that ever survive the light of day? Think about it: every message sent by our actual REP includes spam.

Marketing people, man. I just can’t get past the fact that someone in Austin thought this was a good idea.

“The end of hypocrisy”

This extraordinarily clear and on-point essay over at Foreign Affairs examines the real outgrowth of the Manning/Snowden leaks (and, really, the years of dissembling before them about issues like extraordinary rendition and torture):

[The leaks] undermine Washington’s ability to act hypocritically and get away with it. Their danger lies not in the new information that they reveal but in the documented confirmation they provide of what the United States is actually doing and why. When these deeds turn out to clash with the government’s public rhetoric, as they so often do, it becomes harder for U.S. allies to overlook Washington’s covert behavior and easier for U.S. adversaries to justify their own.

Few U.S. officials think of their ability to act hypocritically as a key strategic resource. Indeed, one of the reasons American hypocrisy is so effective is that it stems from sincerity: most U.S. politicians do not recognize just how two-faced their country is. Yet as the United States finds itself less able to deny the gaps between its actions and its words, it will face increasingly difficult choices — and may ultimately be compelled to start practicing what it preaches.

We can only hope! I’m reminded of Stephen Colbert’s line about torture during the early years of the Iraq war, which was something along the lines of “that we did this doesn’t change the fact that it’s not something we would do,” which frames the situation rather nicely. But go read the whole thing.

There so much concentrated bizarre-awesome here I can’t stand it

Smoking Gun:

A domestic dispute over space aliens escalated Saturday morning when a lingerie-clad New Mexico woman allegedly pointed a silver handgun at her boyfriend, a weapon she retrieved from her vagina.

No, really. Even better, of course: the woman is Cormac McCarthy’s ex-wife, which led Gawker to pen this fantastic bit:

Aliens. Spacealiens. No such thing. How theyd fought it out, cosmic mysteries reduced to raw shouting in the uncaring morning. Her leaving in wrath and now returning, straight into the bedroom without him. Rustling and thumps.

She was in the doorway. She had stripped in there and dressed her body for the boudoir, soft ladyclothes baring flesh and something more, down at the forking of her legs. Hard nickelplate steel, the Smith & Wesson. Her hand was on it.

Whos crazy.

There’s more. Go read.

The only possible explanation: Rick Perry doesn’t want you to have insurance

No, seriously. Check it out:

The antipathy towards health insurance comes through in everything Rick Perry – and David Dewhurst and Greg Abbott and the rest of the sorry lot – does, from imposing needless burdens on navigators to refusing to expand Medicaid to refusing to implement an exchange, and on and on. If there were some honest ongoing effort over the past decade-plus to do something about the millions of uninsured in Texas, that would be one thing. But the record, and the inactivity, speak for themselves. There’s really no other way to characterize it. Millions of people have become insured around the country, but all we get here is rage and denial.

Go read the whole thing. This ought to be a real issue in the upcoming campaigns.

WaPo to TSA: Drop Dead

Over at the Post’s Wonkblog, Dylan Matthews wonders why we don’t just get rid of the TSA entirely after taking a commuter flight not subject to the TSA’s loving embrace.

TechDirt breaks it down:

In short: there’s little to no evidence that the TSA has saved a single life in stopping terrorism. While it may have prevented specific plots, that energy just went towards other plots and attacks. Yet the costs of the TSA are immense, and we’re not just talking about hiring all those people to feel you up at the airport, or even the super expensive naked scanner machines. It’s the costs to all of us — the public who travel. The fact that you have to get to the airport hours before your flight, stand in a very long line to be scanned or felt up and generally humiliated — that’s a massive waste of time and productivity for everyone, for apparently no benefit at all, other than security theater.

He’s not wrong.

So, how evil IS Wal-Mart?


In other words, if a Walmart employee gives to Walmart’s political action group, Walmart will donate money to Walmart’s charity for Walmart employees who don’t make enough money by working at Walmart to pay their bills.

Dept. of Reaping What You Sowed

A group of conservatives led by the Chamber of Commerce has ginned up a $50 million war chest to, in their own words, keep fools off the tickets.

No, really. Over at Rolling Stone, the ever-entertaining Matt Taibbi outlines just exactly how hilarious it is that we’ve come to this point, especially since Karl Rove is involved in the “no fools” campaign.

Recall it was Rove who, in large part, got us here in the first place:

The situation with Rove is particularly delicious. This is someone who foisted upon the world the eight-year presidency of George W. Bush, a man who couldn’t speak English, didn’t read books or newspapers, and won his second term via the political version of an Inspector Clouseau routine, rallying middle America behind an enraged invasion of the wrong country in retaliation for 9/11.

For a political adviser, getting a blockhead like Bush elected president not once but twice was a major accomplishment. It’s the sort of thing that impresses industry insiders, the same way PR professionals genuinely admire the job Burson-Marsteller did hushing up the Bhopal disaster for Union Carbide, or whitewashing Indonesia’s image after the East Timor massacre.

As such the “Turd Blossom” was continually hailed as a kind of genius throughout the Bush presidency (even liberal pundits got in the act, although they usually called him an “evil genius”), despite the fact that nothing Karl Rove ever did was all that smart.

Rove’s sole insight as a political thinker was that if you completely dispense with the patriotic aspects of governing – you know, that whole doing-what’s-right-for-the-country thing – then winning elections is no different than selling cheeseburgers or scoring high sitcom ratings. You give people what they want, and it doesn’t matter if it’s bad for them.

Exactly. The post-Clinton GOP has never given a single shit about any of their “social issues” at all. They use gays, abortion, immigrants, and now muslims and sharia law as wedge issues to scare the rubes into voting for them. And it keeps working.

Turns out, though, there’s a downside.

If you spend years letting your voters think Saddam Hussein was an agent of al-Qaeda, that passing a national health care program will result in the formation of Stalinist “death panels,” or that Barack Obama is secretly a foreigner, you’re going to end up with some loopy candidates prone to saying crazy things that will turn off voting majorities, which in turn will make it hard to the deliver policy objectives you actually care about for your big-money donors.

The Republican establishment is only just figuring this out.

Go read the whole thing.