Saturday, March 31, 2012

How to poison our planet

I do understand that civilization depends on fossil fuels right now, but our failure to fully invest in alternate energy is a losing game. The conventional wisdom is we can rely more on gas now because it's a safe fuel and we still have a lot of untapped deposits. But extracting gas is not that safe:
A natural gas well in the North Sea 150 miles off Aberdeen, Scotland, sprung a massive methane leak on March 25. The 238 workers were all safely evacuated. But the situation is so explosive that an exclusion zone for ships and aircraft has been set up around the rig, reports the Mail Online. And nearby rigs have been evacuated, reports the New York Times: [...]

Plus, the field produces sour gas: a potent mix of natural gas, hydrogen sulfide, and carbon dioxide. Twenty years ago the cost of extracting energy from such messy stuff would have been prohibitively expensive. Now, not so much. But the true cost could be brutal, reports the BBC :

The major threat to the local ecosystem is the hydrogen sulphide, which is toxic to virtually all animal life. "You might as well put Agent Orange in the ocean," says [Simon Boxall of the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, UK]. Because the leak is below the water's surface, the hydrogen sulphide is bubbling through the sea water. This is the worst-case scenario, says Boxall, because it could lead to mass animal and plant deaths. Boxall says Total needs to monitor the water quality to see if this is happening.
And most of our ground reserves are in shale deposits which require extraction by fracking. A practice the industry insists is safe, until it isn't:
Bradford County’s director of public safety said a Chesapeake well went out of control late Tuesday night. That means the well blew near the surface, spilling thousands and thousands of gallons of frack fluid over containment walls, through fields, personal property and farms, even where cattle continue to graze.

DEP is taking ground water and stream samples to determine the extent of the spill.

Officials said fluids from the well have, in fact, contaminated Towanda Creek which feeds into the Susquehanna River.
Somehow I feel certain it won't be the extractors who pay for the clean-up. It will be the taxpayers and all the surrounding landowners who end up living on toxic waste dumps will never be made whole.

Can't help but think if we had invested as much time and effort into developing clean energy as we have in developing ever more sophisticated weapons and other military hardware, we wouldn't be using these foul fossil fuels at all anymore. [graphic via]

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Live cam: For the birds

A new addition to my live cam collection. Decided not to embed the player because it will probably screw up the page load, but here's the links. Both work for me but I understand some people can only access one or the other.

Great Blue Heron Nest or Great Blue Heron Nest. They have a new egg and it appears from a quick check this morning, they also already have one baby heron. Or maybe that's the mom whose butt end I saw.

I've added them to the sidebar links.

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Hello, it's me

Would have liked this better if they were talking to each other, but still a nice pairing of photos.



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Friday, March 30, 2012

We all want to change the world

I can't remember ever seeing a better description of soul rending, bone crushing poverty and its remedy than this link John Cole just posted on the twitter. It's all like this:
Movements will fall away, but the movement will endure. Temporary conditions will change, and with them the short-term self-interest of the self-interested, but you can be irresolute. Fads in politics and media, new ideas and new rallying cries, all of that is inevitable and temporary. All that will remain is privilege and its lack, entrenched poverty and embedded affluence, and the reactionary power of what is and what has been. And only this political question will endure: do you want to change the miserable condition that exists on this earth?
Well? Do you? Because I do.

Have no idea who this person is, and it's said so often that nobody listens, but seriously. Read the whole thing.

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Republicans lie about everything

It's official. There is nothing Republicans won't lie about. The RNC has apparently graduated from the Andrew Breitbart Memorial School of Pseudo-Journalism and came up with this misleading, doctored anti-Obamacare ad.
Recordings of the court proceedings reviewed by Bloomberg News reveal that the audio has been edited. While Verrilli paused once to drink water during the opening moments of his presentation, he stopped talking for only a few seconds before continuing with his argument. In the RNC ad, he pauses for about 20 seconds, coughs, sips water and stutters.

In the RNC’s transcript of its ad, it quotes Verrilli as follows: “For more than 80 percent of Americans, the ah insurance system does provide effective access [pause]. Excuse me. Ah [cough] it ah be-be because the ah the ah the [pause]. Excuse me.”

In the actual proceedings, Verrilli finished his thought. “For more than 80 percent of Americans, the, ah, insurance system does provide effective access,” Verrilli says, pausing briefly and saying, “Excuse me. But for more than 40 million who do not have access to health insurance, either through their employer or through government programs such as Medicare or Medicaid, the system does not work.”
I'm so old I remember when people treated the Justice system, and especially SCOTUS, with respect for the solemn nature of the proceedings. Of course, since then, about half the bench at SCOTUS doesn't treat their responsibilty as the final jurists of the land with much respect either, so I suppose we shouldn't expect any better from the foot soldiers in the culture war.

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Happy Blogiversary to me

Speaking of Blogiversaries, just realized that yesterday was mine. Nine years ago, I published my very first post. It was about an anti-war demonstration I stumbled into in lovely downtown Northampton. Haven't, despite many requests, shut up since. Figure I must have billions of words floating through the intertoobz by now.

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Happy Blogiversary

My friend Michael J.W. Stickings celebrates seven years of blogging at the Reaction this week. Congrats to Michael and the whole fabulous team of bloggers. I'm proud to be a part of their history.

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

George Zimmerman's Dad speaks

George Zimmerman's father gave his first interview since this story exploded into the media. Booman has already eviscerated his defense of his son, but I'm not inclined to be too harsh on the guy myself. It's only human nature to defend your own and in situations like this, everybody hurts:
Robert Zimmerman, a former magistrate judge and Vietnam War veteran, said he has never had to deal with anything of this magnitude.

"Unimaginable," he said. "Tough was being in Vietnam and other things. This is way beyond anything I can imagine."
The same could be said, I'm sure, for Trayvon's family. They released a few photos taken 9 days before Trayvon was killed. That's all they have left of their son.

Sadly, no matters what happens in the end, there will be no winners. Only tragic loss on all sides.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Zimmerman standing on shaky ground - Updated

If this is the police video of George Zimmerman on the night of Trayvon Martin's death, his story and the police statements, just fell apart. I don't see any blood on the guy at all and it's possible you couldn't see grass stains on the dark jacket, but it doesn't even look rumbled. I'd also think if he had to shoot Trayvon while he was lying on the ground, he would have been sprayed with blood himself. That surely would have shown up on the lighter part of the jacket and his shirt. But watch for yourself.

video platform video management video solutions video player

No apparent injury to the back of his head either. If you can't see the embed, here's the direct link to the police tape video.

I would assume, if ABC could get this footage, then the new special prosecutor investigating Trayvon's case must have it too. Wonder if that's why she floated the idea she might be able to bypass a Grand Jury to bring charges?

Update: More evidence that refutes Zimmerman's statement.
The funeral director who prepared Trayvon Martin’s body for burial told HLN’s Nancy Grace Wednesday that he did not see any cuts or bruises on the teen’s hands that would have been indicative of a struggle with George Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed the Florida teen.
Yes. I know. Nancy Grace? But just because she's crazy doesn't mean it's not true. I suppose the autopsy photos would prove that one way or the other if it comes to trial.

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Space Cowboys

Young people don't, and probably can't, appreciate how incredible it is that there are human beings who live in outer space for months at a time.

Docking so smooth, Space Station crew didn't feel it. [Original photo]

Cripes. I'm so old I remember the first chimpanzee to orbit the earth. I remember when the whole world would stop to watch a rocket launch at Cape Canaveral. I've lived to see the day when driving a space shuttle is a job description. Crazy really.

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He comes in colors everywhere

Well this is picture of the week. And I believe our POTUS is at home.


[Title inspiration][Original photo]

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Top Ten 2012 contenders

Decided I'm going to start archiving my favorite tweets and posts for the end of the year round-up I never get around to doing because it's too much work to dig them out. This first is not only a top ten contender, but is possibly the single best blog post Andrew Sullivan has posted -- ever. Not going to excerpt because it's so short, it would give it away.

Prime contender for top ten tweet of the year, is this one, though you may have had to be following the media tweets from President Obama's trip to North Korea to get the humor. It made me laugh out loud.



Actually surprised the phrase didn't catch on more in Tweetsville. Suppose it's because the kids were so pre-occupied with Trayvon and didn't pay much attention to this trip.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Why they let Zimmerman walk

Well, the story of Trayvon's murder has become a war of the leaks. This latest twist in the law enforcement angle is troubling.
The lead homicide investigator in the shooting of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin recommended that neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman be charged with manslaughter the night of the shooting, multiple sources told ABC News.

But Sanford, Fla., Investigator Chris Serino was instructed to not press charges against Zimmerman because the state attorney's office headed by Norman Wolfinger determined there wasn't enough evidence to lead to a conviction, the sources told ABC News.

An unarmed dead kid, shot by a known neighborhood vigilante with a history of multiple overwrought reports of "suspicious" activity isn't enough evidence? You might think they would have at least held him long enough to go look for more evidence. Hard not to think they wrote it off because it was a young black kid in a white neighborhood.

As an aside, this story shows the power of twitter. The current version is significantly different from the original I read first, which was listed as being 44 minutes old. It cited an alleged photo of Trayvon, which depicted a black kid with a gold dental grill, flipping the bird at the camera. This photo made the rounds of the wingnut sites yesterday but by the time I went to bed last night, it had been widely debunked and even the nuttiest sites had retracted. Which I immediately tweeted to ABC. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

To their credit, ABC responded and corrected the post nearly immediately. So there's that...

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Trayvon's killer is a Democrat

Admit I laughed sardonically when I saw George Zimmerman is a registered Democrat. My first thought was, thanks all you wingnuts for defending a member of the party of your imagined evils. Wondered how they were going to reconcile that with their vigorous defense of Zimmerman's murder of Trayvon.

The early reaction suggests they've agreed to use it to excuse their own vile racism. In the world according to wingnuttia, their relentless years long villification of the poor and people of color couldn't possibly have had any effect on Zimmerman's paranoid vigilantism because he's not one of them.

Of course, this changes nothing. Zimmerman's political registration means as little as Trayvon's youthful indiscretions. The case can still be distilled to a single sentence. If Zimmerman had stayed in his car and waited for the police to arrive, as the dispatcher had advised to do, Trayvon would not be dead.

And while I'm on the subject, contrary to his wingnuttian defenders, Zimmerman's account of the murder, conveniently leaked by the police department doesn't absolve him either. You can't really judge between both sides of a story when one of the parties is dead. Furthermore, to repeat what I said on the twitter last night, it's hard to believe that no one took photos of Zimmerman's alleged injuries on the night of the murder. Funny that those haven't been leaked. And come to think of it, if Zimmerman was indeed so badly beaten up that his only recourse was to kill Trayvon, why didn't he go to the hospital to get those injuries treated?

No amount of spin can change the evidence that points to Zimmerman being an overzealous vigilante, a bigot and a stalker. The case was mishandled by the local police from the beginning and a full investigation is still needed. Whether or not he can avoid a murder charge under Stand Your Ground, there should at least be a hearing to determine whether Zimmerman is mentally fit to continue to carry a concealed weapon.

[Big thanks to Michael J.W. Stickings of The Reaction for the link at Crooks & Liars.]



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Monday, March 26, 2012

Why I'm afraid to eat fish

Unless you know a fisherman, you never really know where they catch the fish. Like maybe in this zone:

[original photo]

Or in the oil spill zones. Or in the zone affected by that gigantic island of plastic slime.

Related: Last year, a group of NASA scientists and animators put together this animation of the world’s ocean surface currents. [via]



In other bad news, the new Prime Minister of Belize is authorizing off-shore oil drilling, including within the barrier reef, despite overwhelming opposition from the citizens. I've snorkeled that reef. It's a natural wonder. Second biggest in the world. A BP style oil spill would kill it and the tourism industry that provides nearly half of Belize's commerce.

The PM was elected by a razor thin majority, yet he's claiming a mandate to sell out Belize's resources to corporate interests. Sounds uncomfortably familiar.

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Mitt goes shopping?

This strikes me as unfortunate on so many levels. Seriously? Mitt fights his flip-flopping image with a photo op here?


The tweet, via Holly Bailey makes a fine caption: "In San Diego, Mitt Romney admires some artificial spines." [Original photo via Michael Falcone.]

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Newt's snoot

By now you've heard President Obama, after being hounded by the media for days, made a statement about Trayvon Martin's tragic death. So naturally, in a pathetic attempt to save his failing campaign, Newt was compelled to attack President Obama for allegedly "playing the race card." He had to contort pretty hard to get his nose out of joint over that tempered remark. Probably play pretty well with the rubes, but not well enough to save his candidacy.

Somewhat related, since we're speaking of snoots, or more properly snouts, this is my choice for picture of the week. Cries out for a snarky caption, but I'm not good at those. Hard to think of anything that isn't too mean to post in public.


Newt meets his constituents? [Original photo]


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Racism for Dummies

Saturdays are deadly for blogging. Nothing much happens in the news cycle so I end up spending too much time on twitter. Thus did I witness the most blazing display of Wingnut Brigade idiocy since -- well -- since yesterday.

It started because Charles Johnson uncovered the Nutopian freakout du jour, this being an alleged media conspiracy to alter the photos of Trayvon Martin. Some of the photos make Trayvon look lighter skinned than others, which the irredeemable idiot blogger Dan Riehl tells us makes Trayvon look "more innocent" and "less thuggish."

There's actually a perfectly logical reason for the discrepancies in coloration, but that's not the point. The wilfully ignorant Riehl pretends he doesn't realize his racism is obvious in the implication that a darker skinned black teenager should be assumed to be guilty, because he's so black. Riehl took to twitter to harangue Charles for pointing out Riehl's "analysis" was not only stupid, but racist. Riehl volleys with the classic denial, "am not racist" and he can prove it. He trots out his black friend, who confirms Danny boy is not a racist, and then immediately threatens to "beatdown" Charles for daring to "play the race card."

I don't usually bother with these pathetic jesters. Riehl and his posse of useful fools are just a bunch of four year olds with no impluse control who are trapped in adult bodies. But Riehl has a pretty big microphone and an army of delusional fans. His form of thinly diguised bigotry is what feeds the irrational rage of the violence prone fringe of society. His relentless hatemongering is arguably as responsible for the tragic death of Trayvon Martin, as the man who pulled the trigger. Not because Zimmerman necessarily even knew Riehl exists, but because Riehl's vile rants create an environment that excuses and encourages such acts of paranoid vigilantism. Far more dangerous than any random black kid in a hoodie.

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Trayvon Martin: Mourning in America

I haven't posted about the killing of Trayvon because so much has already been said and I can't seem to write anything coherent myself. Every time I think about it, I'm overcome with rage and grief. But, Charlie Pierce captures my emotions in a fine rant. Don't want to excerpt a lot of it, because it needs to be read in full, but these few sentences resonate with me.
Well I certainly don't feel calm and measured, and it's not because my kids "could have been Trayvon." No, they could not have. My kids are white. ....nobody would have looked askance at them, let alone blown them away with a handgun.

I am sick to death of people who celebrate "the family" making excuses about why other people's children are expendable. I am sick to death of politicians who are more concerned about protecting zygotes than about the teenagers on whom they seek to balance their budgets and advance their careers. ...I am sick to death about how we can argue about anything simply to argue about it, and then move along to the next argument, as though anything at all has been settled.
Never mind the obvious inherent racism, I despair for the human race when I read the vicious reaction coming from Zimmerman's apologists. I feel like we're witnessing the final breakdown of civil society. And so much of the reaction feels like a simple transference of anger by people who just can't stand that a black man is our president. You know the ones I mean. They can prove they're not racists. Shee-it, they have black friends. It's just those other shiftless niggers they can't stand.

I've seen dozens of images in the last few days as people try to express their response to this travesty. This is one that moved me the most because it rings so very true.


This is the reality for this child simply because his skin is dark. No child should have to grow up with the certain knowledge this, in fact, could easily happen to him. [Original photo]

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If I had a son

By Capt. Fogg

"You know, if I had a son he would look like Treyvon,"
said the president and I guess that's true to some extent. He'd have dark skin, of course, but I took it to mean that his son would be an ordinary looking, ordinary acting 17 year old and not a shooting gallery target.

Newt Gingrich took it differently because he saw the comment, which was clearly an attempt to show compassion and to suggest that he couldn't avoid putting himself in the place of the grieving father of Treyvon Martin, as an opportunity to launch another Fox-faux outrage. Hasn't the entire Republican reaction to the election of Barack Obama been a collection of phony, trumped up, fabricated and exasperatingly stupid outrages?
" Is the president suggesting that if it had been a white who had been shot that would be ok because it didn't look like him?"
said Newt to Sean Hannity on Fox News. Certainly Fox is the Cape Canaveral; the launch pad of most such desperate grasping at rhetorical straws -- the place where the unscrupulously ambitious launch calumny after slander after blatant lie, not because this president is beyond criticism, but because they, the Republican insiders, are themselves accessories before, during and after the fact of the collapse of our economy, the corruption and outrageous economic policies and the unjustified war that precipitated it and only wild claims can distract the public from remembering. Only wild, unsubstantiated and preferably ridiculous statements can rally the bigotry against honesty and decency.

So is the president suggesting that it was only a tragedy because a black kid was killed? Only a Republican could twist words and facts to make it seem so and only a man of the "I will never apologise for America" persuasion could reflect on the Republican support for segregation, opposition to civil rights for minorities, females and non-Christians and not see the killing as part of a continuum; part of a mentality they've been promoting for at least a century.

The gambit is an old and tired and disreputable one, as much so as is Gingrich himself and the others Fox News gives the megaphone to. "Is George Washington suggesting that he should be king?" In fact he suggested the opposite, but the question suggests that there is indeed a question. Is Newt Gingrich a dishonest, morally unscrupulous, hypocritical liar blinded by an unholy ambition and hunger for power? Does a newt shit in the swamp?

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Reach out

White House photographer Pete Souza periodically releases a month's worth of official White House photos. They're always late. This is my favorite from the February gallery.


It was a toss up between this and the football shot, but I'm just a pushover for babies.

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Tidbit journalism

Was in a bit of funk yesterday, it being my Dad's birthday. He would have been 84 years old had he lived. So I didn't get around to bitching about Chuck Todd's lament on the state of journalism. He's all kinds of sad because we're talking about Etch A Sketch instead of serious stuff. You know like the deep meaning of stupid daily polls.

This from a guy whose First Read space at MSNBC is 99% horse race trivia and check out his twitter feed some time. (No I'm not going to link to it.) Believe me when I tell you you won't learn anything about substantive issues there either. Not important, but just so irritiating to hear this guy whine about the media problem, when he's one of prime exemplars of it.

Meanwhile, Jake Tapper tweets: "What America needs is a campaign that resembles LITE-BRITE."

Sadly what we have is a campaign process that resembles nothing so much as Trivial Pursuit.

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CATO revolts

I love this. The CATO regulars thwart the Koch's takeover attempt with a brilliant sally.
This afternoon, as the Koch PR arm was blasting out a memo about the War for Cato, the libertarian think tank's board was meeting to talk about membership. Before today, the sixteen-member board had seven members affiliated in some way with the Kochs. That put them very close to majority control. Today, the board's majority agreed to simply expand to 20 members, invoking a bylaw that allows that many people to serve if it's so desired. They added four people -- William A. Dunn, John C. Malone, Lewis E. Randall, and Donald G. Smith -- who are more supportive of the non-Koch faction. "We now have a 13-7 majority," said Ed Crane, Cato's president since 1977. "It was a contentious meeting." When was the last time the board had 20 members? "I don't think we ever have."
I suspect the billionaire brothers aren't used to being challenged. Willing to bet those Koch boys are really pissed off and plotting their revenge. Pretty sure they're going to lose. Looks like their adversaries may not be as rich, but they're much smarter.

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Right wing think tank shocked to learn they harbored a racist blogger - Updated

A North Carolina based right wing "think" tank, The John Locke Foundation, was quick to disown Tara Servatius, their resident blogger for posting an insulting, racist graphic to illustrate her insulting, homophobic blog post on their website. She quit before they could dump her, but really, she just can't understand what all the fuss is about. She's very sorry if anyone was offended...
The image, which was no longer available on the Meck Deck site but could still be seen on a blog post by WRAL-TV reporter Laura Leslie, is a small and low-resolution depiction of the president's head crudely pasted onto a body clad in high-heeled boots and other garments suggestive of fetish wear. Between his spread legs is a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. [...]

"I am genuinely sorry my inclusion of the photo has caused controversy for the John Locke Foundation," Servatius wrote Thursday in an email in response to a question from The Associated Press. "If it has offended anyone, I sincerely apologize. It was meant to illustrate Obama's southern political strategy, nothing more. An honest reading of the piece itself shows there is nothing offensive in it."

Servatius found the image when searching online for an illustration of the president in drag, she said, to underscore her point about the strategy of appealing to young voters on the issue of gay marriage. She said she didn't think of the picture's racial implications.
If she or the Foundation had a shred of honesty, they wouldn't be riding on this wingnut gravy train. Her hateful mewling is still available on the Foundation's website, without the offensive graphic, but I'm not linking to her. Meanwhile, the Foundation's head honcho is just horrified:
"I'm embarrassed and angry today," Hood said in a statement. "The illustration associated with this blog entry was offensive and utterly inappropriate for our blog or for anyone else's."
Um, so is the post "offensive and utterly inappropriate for our blog or for anyone else's," but the same can be said for the majority of the content posted on the entire website. Which isn't surprising since The John Locke Foundation is a front group for local hatemonger Art Pope and supported by such "civic minded" Americans as the Koch brothers. They were basically a laughingstock, ignored by "serious people" until Mr. Pope came into his inheritance and essentially bought 80% of the Foundation. (Who says money can't buy respect?)

They bill themselves as a non-partisan think tank which can be alternately described as (classical) liberal, conservative and/or libertarian. However, their main agenda appears to be climate change denialism, shredding the social safety net with a sideline of anti-tax and privatization of public resource advocacy. A quick peek at their board of directors reveals ties to the Heritage Foundation and various vulture capitalist interests and industries.

In other words, they are another bunch of unadulterated, far fringe right scammers promoting a socially destructive agenda while operating as a tax dodging, non-profit 501(c)(3) research institute with too much money and a dysfunctional moral compass.

Updated: Can't bring myself to post the graphic, but you can see the vile photo here.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Best blooper of the day

You would think nothing could top the amusement factor of the Etch-a-Sketch fiasco but you would be wrong. This failed Big.Con sting conducted by Breitbart's best remaining "gonzo journalist" is actually funnier. After being heavily hyped by both Sean Hannity and at Glenn Beck's new home base, The Blaze, it turns out Andy's brighest star ambush specialist, Jason Mattera, didn't actually ambush Bono. He boldly harangued a Bono impersonator.

As Wonkette notes, you can see how Mattera got fooled.
Who could’ve known? The impersonator’s different voice and nonexistent Irish accent are pretty convincing.
How embarrassing. Of course, following the conservative creed graven on stone tablets by the late Mr. Breitbart himself, never admit a mistake. The video was made private, the websites were scrubbed but alas, like Lady Macbeth, the Big.Con clan are finding some spots simply can't be eradicated. You can watch the "sting" at your leisure at either link above.

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Inevitable Romney

To nobody's surprise the Etch-a-Sketch meme has taken off like one of Newt's moon rockets. The social nets have been having a snarkfest all day. Word has it both Newt and Little Ricky are carrying that little red toy on the campaign trail today. And it didn't take a Magic 8 Ball to predict these political ads that Steve Benen discovered.






And somebody already snagged etchasketchmittromney. The internets do so love a good meme. I have a feeling this one may live forever.

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Etch-a-Sketch-ability

Much excitement at Romney HQ today after he won the Illinois primary last night. His point man was so giddy, he told the media that Romney is on the path to a clear win in November. All that pandering to the crazy base? Not a problem. They're just going to take the historical record and
shake it out like an Etch-a-Sketch
and redraw his positions for the general election. Didn't know you could do that to YouTubes.

Granted, Willard really needed this win and it was decent one. But it doesn't appear the base is quite as excited as Team Romney. This was taken 20 minutes before Willard's victory speech last night.

[original photo via watergate summer]

In fact, turnout was historically low for the primary and those who voted aren't exactly a microcosm of the general population. For one thing, about 98% of the voters were old white people. Still a long road to Tampa.

Thinking the original Mr. Potato Head might be a more appropriate analogy by the time they arrive. You can change the face all you want, but it's still the same old rotten potato underneath. [hat tip Anne Laurie]

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Gotta start all over again

I've been saying for the last ten years that it feels like we're fighting the culture wars of the 60s all over again. The last two have made it all so tragically true. But we won the first time and we can do it again.


Never underestimate the power of a bunch of pissed off women...

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The girls on the bus

Something odd about this campaign bus. Can't quite put my finger on it.


Oh wait. It's missing a hubcap. [original photo]


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Mayor Bloomberg bans bagels

Not to worry bagel lovers, Bloomberg's bagel ban only applies to the homeless. In fact he's banned all donated food to homeless shelters.
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s food police have struck again!

Outlawed are food donations to homeless shelters because the city can’t assess their salt, fat and fiber content, reports CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.
Well of course it makes sense to a guy who's net worth is over $19 billion. He doesn't want be held responsible for feeding street people such unhealthy food as fresh bread and vegetable stew and such. So those bleeding heart do-gooders who have been donating surplus food to shelters for the last 20 years will have to find some worthier cause than feeding the hungriest people in the city.

And I'm sure his real agenda has nothing to do with trying to get the homeless to leave Gotham City altogether. Even though everybody knows if you feed those strays, they never go away.

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Justified?

By Capt. Fogg

A lot of people are very angry about the shooting of Treyvon Martin last month in the old North Florida town of Sanford. I'm one of them.

Florida, as you may know has been a model of old South attitudes toward black people, but was the incident racially motivated as is being loudly asserted or is there racism involved in interpreting what happened?

As you might suspect from his name, Martin was black. He was only 17 years old and when he was accosted one night, dressed as many 17 year old males are, in a hoodie and sneakers and baggy pants; the kind of costume that produces unease and possibly is designed to produce unease, after dark, when worn by someone strolling through your neighborhood.

Young Martin was shot by a "neighborhood watch" volunteer - one of those people who lurk about neighborhoods at night looking for people who don't 'belong' there, but although such groups are often encouraged by local police and like any citizen who qualifies, is allowed to bear arms for the sole purpose of protecting themselves, these volunteers are not and are not allowed to be policemen. Indeed the concealed weapons license course stresses that fact repeatedly.

If you've ever lived in a community that has rules, you've probably chuckled about "Condo Commandos" who delight in the feeling of power they get from reporting you for having your garage door open for more than 5 minutes or failing to take in your garbage can by the required time. I would imagine that such folks would delight even more in taking on the role of protector while walking a beat at night. Does that describe George Zimmerman? Not having all the facts and being unlikely ever to have all of them, I can only speculate.

Mr. Zimmerman, 28 years of age, is being accused by the family of Treyvon Martin of a hate crime and a racially motivated killing. Of course I can't know what was on Zimmerman's mind, but I do read that he is of Hispanic origin and comes from a racially diverse family. There may be many reasons having nothing to do with race for Zimmerman to have accosted the young man and shot him. And of course it's inevitable that Florida gun laws will be blamed for this sad event by those who haven't read them and I despair when thinking about any lesson we should be learning here.

The laws governing concealed weapons here in Florida are rather clear about the right to defend your life when a person has reasonable fear of a lethal attack and it's rather clear about one's right to defend against someone trying to forceably remove you from a place you have a right to be, such as your house or your car. I'm no lawyer, yet I can speculate that a public sidewalk is one of those places one has a right to be. The law is equally clear about your right to use a weapon being severely undermined in a situation where the attack was provoked or 'escalated' by you. In other words, should I draw a weapon and shoot someone I picked an avoidable fight with, or made it worse by remaining when I should have walked away, I won't get away so easily with a self-defense plea as Zimmerman inexplicably seems to have done. The law is also clear about using a weapon to gain advantage in a dispute or as a threat. Simply showing it or even mentioning that you have one is a serious offense in many cases. "Get off my block kid, I've got a gun" is one of those cases.

The rights of a neighborhood watch volunteer extend as far as observing and using a telephone to call the police. They do not include provoking a fight, attempting to chase someone out of a neighborhood, shoving, pushing or physically engaging anyone. From the testimony of Martin's girlfriend who had been talking with him on the phone when Zimmerman 'went after' him and allegedly pushed him to the ground, that may be just what happened and if so, Zimmerman had long since transgressed and his right to use lethal force against an unarmed person had long since departed, at least in my non-lawyer opinion -- yet Zimmerman has not been charged.

Somehow, in the city of Sanford, this possibly unjustifiable use of force seems to have been ignored. I suspect that if there's racism lurking in this case, we'll find it in uniform or carrying a briefcase. Attempts to get around the apparent lapse by law enforcement people by framing the incident as a civil rights violation or a hate crime are not likely to be successful and any chance for justice drowned in the storm of predictable and formulaic accusations.

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Monday, March 19, 2012

GOP platform leaked

Roger Simon at the Politico has a big scoop. An early copy of the Republican party's platform has been found.


Looks authentic to me. [original]

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A campaign marches on its stomach - Updated

Only recently started following Holly Bailey of AP on the twitter. She's quickly becoming one of my favorite journos there and she has a Tumblr blog to archive Election 2012's iconic images. This one cries out for a caption contest.


Mitt looks like he can hardly wait to dig in, no? Or not. Wonder if they actually ate this bad boy? (Photo by Steven Senne/AP)

Update: Oh my. There's video of Romney speaking. Vote early and often? Really?

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Crystal ball in the Show-Me state - Updated

And... my brokered convention theory gains some steam. This is the first post I've seen where Charlie doesn't discount the possibility of it happening out of hand. In fact, our Mr. Pierce shows us what a GOP brokered convention will look like. It's not pretty.

Update: Video of the mayhem in Missouri. And video of non-Paul supporter reaction. Gives a thought to those hippies in the 60s? There really is at least two Americas.

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All they're asking for is a little respect

I've been saying for years, after the first million, it's not about money anymore; it's about power. Of course, times being what they are, perhaps I should revise it to say the first ten million, but the point is the same. No one needs more than a few million to live a comfortable life. After the point of ensuring economic security, accumulating money is just a way to buy influence and respect.

But respect isn't so easy to buy these days and as Dr. Krugman points out, the increasingly thin-skinned filthy rich are pissed that the automatic kowtowing has ceased.
For all the brashness and bravado that goes with their world, it seems the managers are oddly insecure about their purpose. For years, “most people in the financial service sector were viewed with enormous, out-of-the-box respect and adulation,” says Daley. “These guys were on pedestals, and now that pedestal’s gone, and now, in a lot of people’s minds, the industry doesn’t have that glow, and that bothers them, and now they join that with the president and his theoretically bashing the wealthy. They’ve got to blame somebody, and they blame him because he is representative of that group of people who ‘aren’t us.’” Former Official B told me, “Whether it’s [former Fed Chairman Paul] Volcker saying there’s been no financial innovation worth a shit since the ATM or the president saying his thing, they’re hypersensitive.” Former House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank was more scathing: “They don’t just want us to represent their interest, they want to be told that what they do is very good. They want to be honored for what they do for society. And Obama has hurt their feelings. Raising their taxes is not simply a blow to their income. It is a blow to their psychic income, a failure to recognize the enormous good they do for the world.”
What they seem to not to have noticed is the "enormous good" they're doing these days is for each other at the expense of the underclasses. Even the slowest witted out among the hoi polloi have finally caught on to their game and they want to review the rule book.

Related, a new study finds holding power can make you stupid. Sadly, the proposed cure of shaming the oligarchs into reality probably won't work. As long as they pay no price for cheating and unbridled greed, what reason would they have to be ashamed?

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Conservative family values

Innocent until proven guilty and all that, but it's not like this is the first time we've seen an alleged "family values" conservative commit violent crimes against women.
March 17, 2012 (Lemon Grove)—Lemon Grove resident Michael John Kobulnicky, 50, a leader in the San Diego Tea Party and former regional director of the Southern California Conservative Party, is under arrest for allegedly kidnapping and raping a local woman on Fiesta Island.

“He dragged her out of the car and sexually assaulted her pretty brutally,” San Diego Police Lt. Andra Brown told ECM news partner 10 News in late February, shortly after the February 25 assault occurred.
Not only that, but one of the charges is rape with a foreign object. Whatever the hell that means. Apparently he offered her a ride home and then instead, he took her to a presuambly secluded place and left her lying there on the sand after he finished brutalizing her. And we might mention his former wife charged him with abuse as well.

Again, he hasn't been convicted yet, but both the Tea Party and the SoCal Con Party were quick to disown him. Meanwhile, one can only hope the unfortunate woman he is supposed to marry next month has the sense to call off the wedding.

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sláinte!

Wishing everyone the luck of Irish, today and every day. I'm getting to the age where going out and watching the amateurs fall off their bar stools isn't as much fun as it used to be. Planning to lay low at home and have a traditional dinner of Guinness and pizza. Confess, I hate corned beef but I do still love Guinness. Of course, so does everybody on St. Paddy's Day.


[Photo via]
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Friday, March 16, 2012

On the road less traveled

President Obama gave a speech about energy yesterday. If you read the media reports, you might think it was all about Rutherford Hayes and the Flat Earth Society. Much energy was expended by the leading lights of the Fourth Estate on researching how Hayes really felt about the telephone and the actual origins of Flat Earthers.

Didn't read all the anguished analyses, but I didn't see any discussion of the substance of Obama's energy speech in the ones I did read. He did say some other more important stuff, like this:
THE PRESIDENT: It’s inexcusable. It is time for this oil industry giveaway to end. (Applause.) So in the next few weeks, I expect Congress to vote on ending these subsidies. And when they do, they’ll put every single member of Congress on record. I guess you can stand up for the oil companies who really don't need much help, or they can stand up for the American people, because we can take that $4 billion -- we could be investing it in clean energy in a good energy future, in fuel efficiency. (Applause.) We could actually be trying to solve a vital problem.
The media might have mentioned some of the more salient remarks, but hell, true facts are so boring. And how is anybody supposed to snark on the twitter about serious points?

In other news, President Obama's mini-documentary of accomplishments was released to little fanfare as well. Haven't watched it yet, but it's the weekend, so here it is for when you have 15 minutes to spend.



Haven't seen much attention paid to this either, but the couple of reviews I've seen so far were good. Looking forward to watching it this weekend.

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Romney's new game plan - Updated

This is funniest thing about the GOP freak show I've read in weeks. Charlie advises Willard Romney on how to spark up his campaign. Don't even want to excerpt because you should read in full, but this was my favorite graph:
"I mean, really, people. Gingrich? Santorum? You people want to lose 45 states? You want the entire campaign to be about either Gingrich's grandiose daydreams, or about Rick Santorum's pursuit of the unauthorized use of the penis? One guy wants to be Caesar Augustus and the other one wants to be Pius IX. Is that really what you want? I've decided that I just want to be Mitt Romney again, bitches, because that's an awfully nice thing to be. Ever seen the sunset over the Pacific? I'm owning one of those bad boys now.
Just saw on the twitter that the basement in Romney's newly rehabbed digs there is going to bigger than the house he tore down.

Update: Doug J, a man of many modifiers, has the scoop on Willard's underground lair and also, too, possibly the best use of a song reference in a post title.

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Total Information Awareness is alive

This is the scariest thing I've read in a long time. You'll recall the Total Information Awareness days of the Bush era, when our government dreamt of watching all of us, all of the time. Public outcry then led to the program being renounced, but apparently it never died. It just went underground. Hence today, we learn the NSA is building a "data center" in Utah.
But new pioneers have quietly begun moving into the area, secretive outsiders who say little and keep to themselves. Like the pious polygamists, they are focused on deciphering cryptic messages that only they have the power to understand. Just off Beef Hollow Road, less than a mile from brethren headquarters, thousands of hard-hatted construction workers in sweat-soaked T-shirts are laying the groundwork for the newcomers’ own temple and archive, a massive complex so large that it necessitated expanding the town’s boundaries. Once built, it will be more than five times the size of the US Capitol.
This is why I don't freak out about privacy on the social nets. It doesn't matter what Facebook or Google or anybody collects. Everything is already being archived, including your real life transactions. They have been doing this for a very long time. Someday, it will be just like those TV programs where they punch your name into a computer terminal and instantly access your entire life history. Don't really see how we can stop it, or avoid it, short of going off the grid entirely. [graphic via]

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It's Raining Mitt

Dozed off so I missed this when it aired on Letterman a few nights ago, but thanks to the magic of the internets, you don't have to stay up all night waiting for the show to be rerun.



Not the funniest campaign song parody I've ever seen, but the lyrics were topical and cleverly worked into the tune. And I like Martin Short. Wonder how many people will understand the references though. Trying to imagine future historians watching this stuff.

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Filthy rich

David Cay Johnston provides the jaw dropping statistic of the day:
Just 15,600 super-rich households pocketed an astonishing 37 percent of the entire national gain.
As he points out, the rise of the national wealth to the tippity top tiers of wealth holders has been happening for a long time under both Republican and Democratic presidents. Because, government policy encourages it and they just don't make presidents like FDR anymore.

But not to worry, at least 20 of these people no doubt feel the average guy's pain. Hell, super rich people lose money too. Take this horrifying day a couple of weeks ago.
The 20 richest people on Earth lost a combined $11.3 billion yesterday as global markets fell after European economic growth slowed and investors weighed Greece’s chances of getting bondholders to accept a debt swap.
Heck this poor rich guy got kicked right off the 20 richest people in the world list:
Lakshmi Mittal, chairman and chief executive officer of ArcelorMittal (MT), the world’s largest steel company, fell from the ranking after his fortune dropped $918 million, or 4 percent. Shares of ArcelorMittal declined 5.5 percent in Amsterdam trading. Mittal, 61, is now the 21st-richest person in the world with a net worth of $22.3 billion.
I mean, ouch, that's got to hurt. I'm sure they will all be brimming with empathy for the declining middle class peeps after living through such horror.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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A President and his dog

Busy with real world stuff at the moment, so here's this, already my favorite picture of the day.


Bo often strikes me as kind of an aloof dog but it's always clear he loves hanging around with our president. [Photo Doug Mills NYT]
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Obama's gas

By Capt. Fogg

I confess, I'm a loud-mouth critic of people who insist on driving heavy and dangerous trucks to the office or to do daily errands, but a guy who nevertheless owns a vehicle that gets, with a good tailwind, about one mile per gallon.

It's a boat, of course and these days I think carefully about where I'm going with it before I leave the dock. I probably don't use too much more than 500 gallons a year, which is still a whole lot less than I used to use as a commuter driving a small car. If gasoline rose to 5 or 6 or 7 dollars a gallon at the fuel docks, I probably wouldn't change the number of hours I put on the boat, but if I were driving to work, as many of you do, that 7500 pound, 8-12 mpg "SUV" or super heavy duty monster truck might just get traded for something less absurd.

So I have to make another confession: I secretly wish fuel prices would soar long enough to make urban hipsters go back to taking the bus or driving Fiat 500's, and suburbanites trade in their grotesque fashion statements for cars.

Of course the noises bubbling up from the bottom of the national cesspool have been blaming Barack Obama and "liberals" for those scary numbers that appear on gas station signs, as if it were the president or some government office that dictated prices on the free world market rather than the laws of supply and demand and the mechanisms of capitalism. I'm tempted to say that the self-appointed guardians of the free market either haven't the most elementary idea of how those markets work or perhaps are simply too dishonest to risk not blaming Obama for rising world demand. No sir, there's no pea under that particular walnut shell and if even a small proportion of Republicans had the mental wherewithal to deal with the notion that economic recovery means increased demand for resources, they might figure out that those screaming the loudest have a vested interest in a collapsing economy. As the infamous Rush once said: "I hope he fails."

So yes, some Republicans, some voices from the corporate owned media are also wishing for a big increase because the public is stupid enough, or so they hope, to believe that the "socialist" Obama is behind it all. You'll remember John McCain making that moronic accusation when gas prices soared under George Bush. No, he didn't blame Bush or the huge demand for fuel his wars gave us, he blamed Obama, because that's what Republicans do, they blame the other guy for their own actions; they blame the opposition for the workings of the natural forces of the same free markets they pretend to worship.

No, the old song is about the holy market and how all the ugly features of unrestrained capitalism like disregard for public safety and the powerlessness of an oppressed work force would wither away if we only let them drill for oil in your town's reservoir or chain your kids to a punch press the same way those Commies do, but the reality is that they have a very selective interest in capitalism and the high priests of 'enlightened self interest' are trying as hard as they can to take the enlightenment out of it.

So yes, rising energy costs sap the strength of the recovery and so that's just what a certain party wants so that they can go on pretending there is no recovery or that it would be a much better recovery if only they had someone like that Mad Monk Santorum in the White House. So maybe "jobs, jobs, jobs" is now last month's mantra because we're creating more jobs every week that were created under that 8 year Republican debacle. So it's time to turn on a dime and let's put on that Jumpin' Jack Flash disc 'cause now it's all gas, gas, gas.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The sun rises in the east

And Republicans lie their faces off. With the proverbial certainty of death and taxes, it appears the world's most cowardly Speaker in the history of man, is going to cave into his crazy tea party caucus and engineer another hostage taking government shutdown in September.
Last week, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) signaled during an interview with Fox Business that he was open to reneging on the budget deal the GOP crafted with Democrats last year during the debacle over raising the nation’s debt ceiling. Though the parties agreed in that deal on a spending level for the 2013 budget, Boehner is being pushed by the more conservative members of his party to cut even deeper.
In other words, forget the deal they made the last time. Under the code of "true" conservatives, it was just a bunch of goddamn words.
“I’m really disappointed that they’re considering a budget – violating the budget agreement that is now the law of this country. This was designed to avoid another government shutdown or a threat of a shutdown,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). “We had a deal last August on the budget numbers, and we expect them to live with that deal,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) has said. The end result of this standoff could be yet another impending government shutdown, as the government’s current spending authority expires on September 30.
To be fair, not all the Republicans are on board.
But House Appropriations Committee leaders and Republican moderates, facing tough re-election campaigns, want to stick to the agreement struck with President Obama seven months ago.

“We voted for it. That’s the number we should use,” said Representative Charles Bass, Republican of New Hampshire.
Sadly, I expect they'll be outvoted by the crazy caucus. Larger consequences don't matter as long as those knuckle draggers get to go home and brag about how tough they are to the home folks.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Alas, the uninformed voter

Hate to link to Pravda on the Potomac, but can't resist Alexander Burns' lament for the uninformed voter. Actually it's a piece about polling, which everybody on the A list seems to be talking about this morning. And didn't I just say this yesterday?
And “fickle” is a nice way of describing the voters of 2012, who appear to be wandering, confused and Forrest Gump-like through the experience of a presidential campaign. It isn’t just unclear which party’s vision they’d rather embrace; it’s entirely questionable whether the great mass of voters has even the most basic grasp of the details – or for that matter, the most elementary factual components – of the national political debate.
Gosh. If only there was some kind of organized profession dedicated to informing these poor unfortunates about issues, maybe they wouldn't be so confused. Maybe somebody can figure out how to start up something like that.

Meanwhile, you have to love this defense of the ever declining reliability of opinion polling.
And besides, said Quinnipiac pollster Peter Brown, if voters seem to the political class like they are temperamental or unreasonable, it’s sort of beside the point. Americans may change their policy views as they learn more or as events change, or for no good reason at all. But in the end, those views are the only metric in electoral politics that really matters.
So sayeth the man whose livelihood depends on producing polls.

Makes you wonder how this country survived for 200 years or so without daily opinion polls. Which the media talks every freaking day instead of doing those boring, informative policy pieces that just doesn't drive enough traffic to satisfy the marketing department.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

And the beat goes on

If you were worried the GOP parade of fail was about to end, have no fear. The twitter tells me Little Ricky wins both Mississippi and Alabama. Willard comes in third in both states. None of the polls predicted this. What a surprise -- or not.

Headline of the night:


Oh. That popping sound you hear in the distance is champagne being uncorked in the White House.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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The unbearable uselessness of polls

Channeling my inner Andy Rooney tonight, there's too many damn polls. Almost every day, multiple polls are released with wildly varying results. Nearly everybody with a media microphone, new media and old, large or small hangs on the numbers as if they're some great portent of the future. Hell, you might as well use a Magic 8 Ball. It would be about as helpful.

It's not to say polls are entirely useless. Well written questions asked at judicious intervals are a good measure of the public pulse. I'm so old, I remember when most polls were conducted in such a manner. But we don't have that anymore. Like just about everything else, polling went from a profession to a profit seeking business.

Polling is a medium prone to easy manipulation of results to satisfy the client and all too many opportunists have cashed in on that business model. And seriously, what's the point? How does the daily reporting of public reaction serve the public interest? It certainly doesn't inform on the actual policy. Which leads to stories about confused voters like this:
Marcus Luckie, a 70-year-old retiree, agreed.

“You can’t believe whatever they say,” he said. “They all say the same thing about each other, saying each one as bad as the next. And these PACS are all paying for ads saying the same things, too.”

Where did that leave him?

“I ain’t decided on any of them yet,” he said, standing just outside of the door to the voting booth. “It’s going to be close my eyes and point today.”
Aggregate and graph a whole year's worth of polls. Better yet, make it five years. What will you find? The electorate is fickle as hell, given to emo outbursts and extremely susceptible to media hype.

Not sure how to fix that, but reasonably certain daily polling is not helping.

[Thanks to The Week for the name check. Appreciate the encouragement.]

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Women fight back against the theocrats

Trying out this new embed twitter feature. In theory, you should be able to see and interact with it just as if you would be if you were actually crazy enough to spend your time on twitter.


Taking the clues from Daniella's twitter account it seems this is a women's protest in support of Planned Parenthood. Which is not to be confused with the even larger protest this weekend in Wisconsin marking the anniversary of Gov. Walker and the Wisconsin Republican's opening assault on workers rights. Which in retrospect could be credited for birthing the whole populist protest movement that culminated in the Occupy Movement and is still growing many offshoots.

On a somewhat related note, the estimable Gary Trudeau has been a great supporter of women's rights for as long as I can remember. Which is a pretty long time. This week's Doonesbury takes on the odious transvaginal ultrasound laws that are springing up like dandelions in GOP held statehouses. Apparently there's quite a number of editors who won't print the comic strip this week because they think talking about this state sanctioned rape of pregnant women would offend their readers. I certainly hope these media gatekeepers are also equally offended by the law itself and editorializing against it, but not holding my breath. In any event, in case you somehow can't find Doonesbury on line, here's the whole week of Doonesbury panels in one place. Fair warning it's in pdf. If you hate that, just go over to Slate and see the daily postings.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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No where to run to

Trying to get back into the posting thing, so starting with a couple of quick takes on what our zany Republicans are up to lately.

Dick Cheney cancels a speaking appearance:
TORONTO — Former U.S. vice-president Dick Cheney has cancelled an April appearance in Toronto citing concerns Canada is too dangerous.

“He felt that in Canada the risk of violent protest was simply too high,” said Ryan Ruppert, president of promotions company Spectre Live Corp., which had booked Mr. Cheney for an April 24 appearance at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
Apparently his last trip to Vancouver was a bit unpleasant, what with all the protesters shouting about war criminals outside. Admit I feel a little guilty for taking pleasure in his discomfort, but can't deny I'm glad he's finding it difficult to profiteer from his criminal reign at the White House.

In a completely unrelated development, no matter how hard he tries to channel his inner ordinary guy, Willard just can't hide his wealth. He lobs this gem into an interview.
FINEBAUM: You are a Patriots fan, I know that you’ve had a lot of support from that family. Having said that, the most coveted free agent in NFL history is Peyton Manning. I know you want him somewhere away from New England, where do you think he ought to go?

ROMNEY: Well, you know I’m surprised to hear that Denver’s thinking about him, they’re — I don’t want him in our neck of the woods, lets put it that way, I don’t want him to go to Miami or to the Jets. But I’ve got a lot of good friends, the owner Miami Dolphins, and the New York Jets — both owners are friends of mine. But let’s keep him away from New England, so that Tom Brady has a better shot of picking up a championship for us.
Who among us doesn't have a couple of good friends who own major sports franchises? Though to be fair, at least he knew something about what's going on in football. And it doesn't seem to be hurting him in the current primaries. Polling is showing him with a decent chance to take one of both of the big two in the south tonight.

Which leaves us wondering about what will Newt do if he doesn't pull off at least one win. Last I heard Newt is vowing to stay in all the way to Tampa no matter what happens. Of course, what else would he say? Remains to be seen if Sugar Daddy Sheldon feels the same way about bankrolling him that far.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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True friends are hard to find

Heartbreaking and heartwarming at once. Wish I knew the back story for this photo.


[original here]

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Monday, March 12, 2012

How to beat the Rush

This is now bigger than just Rush. Advertisers are stampeding away from hate radio. Think Progress has the latest count showing 141 companies don't want ads aired on Rush Limbaugh or any other hate radio show. This includes, "Michael Savage, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. According to the memo, the listed companies’ advertisements should be excluded from these programs because they have been 'deemed to be offensive.'”

Think Progress also has a pretty graphic on PinInterest showing the logos of the fleeing advertisers. It's no small deal. This represents millions in ad revenue.

On a related note, David Frum thinks hate radio is dying. He makes a case for the new, gentler musings of Mike Huckabee supplanting the current reign of vicious bombast.

Not so sure he's right about that myself, there's still a market for insensible rage validation among the hard core 27%ers of the fringe whackers, but then again, the economic factor may change the radio market. I had no idea how the financial arrangements worked in this business. Apparently, most of the shock jocks give up their content for free and share in the ad revenues. However, Rushblo charges premium rates for the mere priviledge of airing his vile mendacious tirades. Which means getting local stations to drop the show would hurt his empire much more than simply getting the national advertisers to stop their ads.

Hope the dump Rush activists have taken note and will adjust their protests accordingly.

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Wherein Michael Steele proves my theory

Former RNC chief Michael Steele validates my conspiracy theory today. He explicitly admits in rigging the GOP 2012 primary calendar, his goal was to end up in a brokered convention.

Of course, he says it was simply to make the contest more exciting, but as I said back on Nov. 23, 2011, the only way the GOP stands a chance to win the Oval office is to deliver a brand new hero at the eleventh hour who won't have to withstand more than a couple of months of campaigning.

I'm less sure as time goes on, that Chris Christie will be that shining knight, but still haven't seen anything that convinces me they won't pull somebody out of the jester's cap for the last lap.

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Act Now! No Time to Lose!

By Capt. Fogg

Henry Kissinger -- the name could be a metonym for dishonest defense of imperialism and reckless disregard for the consequences of military action, and so it's no surprise to hear him tell us to ignore the consensus of all 16 US intelligence agencies that there is no evidence Iran is building or is about to build nuclear weapons.

Yes, of course they could all be wrong and there is always the argument from cliche that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but even in a nation of emotionally disturbed amnesiacs like the US, some might want to remember our useless attack and occupation of Iraq for which we continue to suffer and will continue to suffer for a very long time. In case you don't remember, that country had no nuclear, chemical or biological weapons or the materials or technology needed to produce huge, heavy nuclear prototypes much less the probably fictional "suitcase" bombs we were told could be smuggled into the US at any moment. Act now!

On CNN's GPS with Fareed Zakaria yesterday, Kissinger told us he was "uneasy" with the intelligence and that we should ignore it as we ignored the lies about Iraq and make the presumption that a bomb was forthcoming.
“I am very uneasy with the so-called intelligence report that say we don’t know whether they are actually working on nuclear weapons. I think we should start from the premise that they are undergoing all this in order to achieve a military capability. I don’t think that is a disputable point.”
I think it is disputable in the extreme, considering that we're listening to a war criminal involved in and culpable for massacres, invasions and genocides in Indochina, East Timor, Chile, Cyprus and Bangladesh talking about fomenting yet another dubious and probably disastrous war.

Kissinger and warmongering toadies like Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu tell us we have no time to lose; that the time to attack is now as Former Secretary of State Rice once told us. Shoot first and pretend there is no question to ask, lest the "smoking gun" of evidence turn out to be a mushroom cloud. Frankly I think we have everything to lose, including our future and any basis upon which to base the proposition and pose of being a force for good in this world.

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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Bum's Rush

CNN posted and op-ed today from the Women's Media Center co-authored by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem. They want the FCC to take legal action against the toxic gasbag Limbaugh since his bosses won't do it.
If Clear Channel won't clean up its airways, then surely it's time for the public to ask the FCC a basic question: Are the stations carrying Limbaugh's show in fact using their licenses "in the public interest?"
I'm afraid revoking the licenses of the stations over one show is a bridge to far for me to cross. In the first place, I don't want the government to be in the business of adjudicating which speech is allowed. In the second, this line of reasoning only reinforces the con's censorship defense of Limbaugh which is taking root in Greater Wingnuttia. Exhibit A: Doug M at OTB pleads, "don't make me defend Rush" on just those grounds.

His argument is, of course, bogus and selective. He's very concerned about the concerted effort of the lefty hoi polloi to get Rush fired. Because, you know, the right would never do that. I don't know he was even blogging then, but as I said in comments there, I wonder what Scott Beauchamp thinks about this. Or that kid working for minimum wage at Walmart who got fired because he wasn’t properly deferential to the words “Merry Christmas.” Or that kid working the phones at whatever station who made the joke about the X briefly appearing over Cheney’s face and got fired? Or the photographer who took the pictures of Cheney’s estate, with his permission? Or Graeme Frost?

And no, Bill Maher and Keith O and every liberal politician who ever made an offensive reference to Palin or Bachmann is not analogous. If there was any major liberal voice who defended their ugly remarks, I didn't see it and neither did I see anyone disputing their suspensions for going over the line of civil discourse. Neither have I ever seen any leading Democrats hastening to ask their forgiveness on bended knee for disagreeing with their wrongful speech.

In any event, I'll support the vile Limbaugh's First Amendment right to spew his hateful tripe on the air. I don't think it's the FCC's place to shut him down. Especially not when it would shut down other useful voices in order to take away his soapbox.

Let Limbaugh alone be judged in the court of public opinion. And his vile imitators too. It appears to be working quite well.

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The suffering of socialism

David Cay Johnston goes looking for the suffering sad residents of a socialist country. Unsurprisingly, he can't find any. In fact he finds regular working class people doing much better than our own. Funny how that works.



Video clip from Jay Ackroyd at Virtually Speaking. You should be listening to that show all the time if you're into talk radio. They do it the best over there.

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Here comes the sun

No real reason I haven't blogged this week. Just feeling a little burned out. But I think I'll blame it on the solar flares.


Original photo. Scary but beautiful. Or you can watch the animation again.

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Friday, March 09, 2012

The last dance, the last chance

Willard wins the news cycle today with his "y'all" drawl praising of grits (and other things) but I'm more interested in Newt's late night dance party on Wednesday. He and Callista cut the old rug in an empty hotel bar till the wee hours.


More photos at the link, incuding proof they're decent tippers.

Some observers mused that the candidate and his staff seemed to be celebrating being close to the end of their long and winding campaign journey.

Not a bad guess. Unless Newt manages to win both Alabama and Mississippi next week, hard to see how he can go on unless Sheldon wants to bankroll his ego tour just for the hell of it. Don't see what he'd gain by doing it though and he's already said he'd jump on Willard's bandwagon when the time was ripe. The clock is ticking down to last call...

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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