RachelWatch: Geek Chic

Today: Rachel takes a look at North Korea and gives a listen to Roland Burris.

The Obaminee

Rachel noted earlier in the week that Judge Sonia Sotomayor is very likely to be confirmed and most people in Washington know it, so the vehement attacks against her are kind of like what gets shouted from the bleachers at Cubs games when it’s already all too clear that this year isn’t the one either.

Let’s hope there’s no political equivalent to the part where the Cubs fans get megatrashed and throw up all over Wrigleyville.

NPR legal correspondent Nina Totenberg joined Rachel to talk about the amazing numbers of “activist” judges we hear about nowadays and the awkward political position of needing to alienate one of the fastest-growing demographic groups in America so as not to alienate the frothing racists in your base who are alienating everyone else.

Run for the Hills

The Republicans are running a new very serious super-scary ad, complete with an ACME Extra-Long Bomb Fuse borrowed from Coyote and Roadrunner cartoons.

Chris Hayes of The Nation dropped by to try to help Rachel figure out why a major national political party is running scare ads with lower production values than Keyboard Cat a year and a half before the next election.

Ms. Information

Rachel reported that Obama asked Congress for $740 million to build an embassy in Pakistan. The main building will be in the capital city of Islamabad, which the Taliban would like to take over, and two outlying buildings will be in the turmoil-wracked cities of Lahore and Peshawar. The Taliban is planning major attacks on government targets in Pakistan.

On the upside, the gingerbreading for the embassy’s front porch is supposed to be simply enchanting.

For an educational institution, Liberty University doesn’t seem to have much of a learning curve.

Chancellor and President Jerry Falwell, Jr. wrote an op ed about media coverage of the revocation of the campus Democratic Party club’s official recognition, thus ensuring that the issue would stay in the mainstream media.

Rachel went through the reasons why she would not be doing a correction and stood by her story.

Much as I love a good Mackdown and thoroughly enjoyed watching this one, after having read the op ed and re-watched the segment, I am going to have to grit my teeth and say that Mr. Falwell does have a small point. Six of my fingers bent backwards in an attempt to avoid typing that.

While the body of her report was accurate, Rachel did lead in to it by saying, “They have banned Democrats on campus. Literally. Not hyperbole.”

Falwell objected to the notion that Democrats had been literally banned. Students who identify as Democrats are not expelled, and the club is allowed to meet on campus. They just can’t use the school’s name or funds, and can’t publicize the group or its meetings on campus. Which, yes, makes really it hard for the group and potential new members to find each other.

It’s sort of a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell for Democrats, who arguably should learn how that feels.

And, though taking away the club’s official status while leaving the club for Republicans intact is unfair, it does sound to me like Falwell is right on this one small point: Democrats are not literally banned from campus. Just from Heaven.

Back to more comfortable and less finger-hurty ground, I do agree with Rachel’s really good point that a school that officially recognizes Republicans but not Democrats perhaps should not be exempt from taxation, or get federally-supported student loans.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State also agree with that point, and have fired off a letter to the IRS asking for a review of Liberty University’s status.

You’ll never guess whom Mr. Falwell is mad at now.

The Wire

Oh, Senator Roland Burris (D – Illinois). I should feel angry with you, but I can’t, even with all your weaseling. I can’t tell if it’s your uninhibited strangeness, or the magnificent heights of theater to which you and your pal Rod Blagojevich inspire the TRMS staff.

Rachel, with the help of an Enhanced Historical Re-enactment, noted that tapes of phone calls between Burris and the ex-Governor’s brother Rob (Really, Blagojevich parents? I bet that’s where this whole thing started.) about, um, fundraising, have been released.

Rachel welcomed attorney and former Federal prosecutor Scott Mendeloff, who seemed to think that Burris might be better off trying the old “evil twin” defense.

The Moment of Geek

Best! New! Segment! Ever!

That sound you heard last night was nerds around the world re-taping their (oh, all right: our) glasses and buffing our pocket protectors to a high gloss.

In addition to her already phenomenal contributions to the geek community, Rachel has decided to overtly celebrate The Power of Dork.

Case in point: Ph D student and marvelous nerd Curtis Melvin. Melvin is the creator of the North Korean Economy Watch website, and has spent the past two years making an annotated map of North Korea by matching news reports to images in Google Earth.

Mr. Melvin, are you really going back to North Korea? Please be careful, sir! We want a splendid nerd such as yourself safe and sound.

Cocktail Moment

Real Estate Rachel announced that Rod Blagojevich’s old D.C. Apartment is for sale.

List price: Effing valuable.