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When word leaked out that Clint Eastwood was going to make a special appearance at the GOP convention, I had high hopes. I've enjoyed a lot of his work over the years, most recently the "Halftime in America" ad for Chrysler at the last Super Bowl and Gran Torino and I was hoping he was going to go for something bold, off-script and off the rails, turning out to be a left-leaning infiltrator. Of course, his politics swing right-handed, and the Chrysler ad was just a paying job for him. The party (if maybe not Karl Rove) was able to figure that out.
Opening with the personal bit about how some folks in Hollywood are indeed conservatives, and now we know there are at least two: him and Jon Voight. But back to the script, comprising a scene in which... we come to @jboule's pithy review:
"It is a perfect representation of the campaign: an old white man arguing with an imaginary Barack Obama."
Update: I see that Lawrence Downes agrees:
"Mitt Romney doesnít use a chair. But he, too, is having a pretend argument with an invented friend, Imaginary Barack. Imaginary Barack who apologizes for America. Who hates business and rich people. Who robs Medicare, closes auto factories, kowtows to the Chinese. Who is the sole reason for the soaring national debt, high unemployment, the housing bust, etc., etc."
(And yes, the NYT editorial page editor wrote "etc., etc." which goes to show that we all make mistakes.)
And this, from the son of the guy who invented the "talk to the empty chair" schtick: "we could have all learned more if Mr. Eastwood had followed through and actually put himself in the chair."
Unlike Rick Santorum, whose likeability index increased considerably with his chat with the Newshour folks last night, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's is still in the tank. Challenged by Mark Shields about his oft-stated top priority of making Obama a one-term President, McConnell got pissy about the "context" of all that, and how "we were ready to deal," but seriously? Once he felt wound up to pontificate, he wasn't having any interruption from Shields. "May I finish?" he asked, twice, peremptorily. Um, sure, whatever.
Nice of Dick Durbin, the Democrats Whip in the Senate, to show up and correct some of the blather and bogosity. Durbin was a member of the Simpson-Bowles commission, along with Paul Ryan, and helpfully pointed out that Ryan voted NO on the final report, which didn't stop him from complaining about Obama not sufficiently embracing the commission's result.
How 'bout that Paul Ryan?! CNN fact check: "Ryan ignores his own role in the failure." And TalkingPointsMemo catalogues the top five lies in Ryan's speech last night.
The opinion out of Madison is not warm and fuzzy for their home-state boy. The Cap Times hammers the "man who would use his hometown as a prop and then try to deceive the country about the causes of its circumstance":
"Wisconsinites, at least those who can remember 2008, will not believe him. Nor should discerning voters in the rest of the republic."
What Ezra Klein deemed the one graph you need to see before watching the RNC, from a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities blog post in May: What's driving projected debt? Answer: half of what's coming at us is from the Bush-era tax cuts and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
There are some nuances in that, projecting forward to 2019, with the numbers scaled to (projected) GDP. A simpler view (still projected, and scaled to projected GDP) is in an earlier post, Economic downturn and Bush policies continue to drive large projected deficits.
Not to be constantly blaming someone else, but there you go. When George W. Bush came to town, we were flush, and decided to stop paying the bills for a decade. When the decade was up, Grover Norquist led the Republican choir in singing "no new taxes!" and the sun never set on the "short-term" plan to give the "surplus" back to the people who needed it least.
Robert J. Samuelson looks at the biggest forecast blunder of the millennium, the $12 trillion difference between the rosy scenario used to pitch those tax cuts and how things turned out. The part no one wanted to hear, and that's as true now as it was then is what the deputy CBO Director told the Senate Budget Committee in January 2001:
"Over the longer term, budgetary pressures linked to the aging and retirement of the baby boom generation threaten to produce record deficits and unsustainable levels of federal debt."
Congress responded with something like "good point. We'll look at that in ten years." And when the time was up, they were too busy fighting with each other and campaigning for re-election to actually do anything. Except to look for somebody to blame for their failure.
"They're depending on people having no factual memory whatsoever," Jeanette said this morning. "They don't hear about fact-checking from their email buddies." I'm a little leery of "they" statements, but I think she must be right. Makes me think of George H.W. Bush in the video they ran for the convention last night, saying "never a taint." Perhaps time and forgetting will polish even 43's Presidency to that same kind of glow a father's memory could bring.
The partisan reviews of Paul Ryan are harping on this "fact" business that seems to mean so little. Jim Messina's morning fundraising missive:
"If you've seen any coverage of Paul Ryan's speech in Tampa, you know that the consensus among journalists and independent observers is that it was ... factually challenged.
"He lied about Medicare. He lied about the Recovery Act. He lied about the deficit and debt. He even dishonestly attacked Barack Obama for the closing of a GM plant in his hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin—a plant that closed in December 2008 under George W. Bush. He also failed to offer one constructive idea about what he would do to move the country forward."
He was preaching to the converted, of course, so who needs all that window dressing of "facts" and "constructive ideas"?
Not that it matters, but I'm curious what level of participation Ryan had in what he said, and how much he was just following someone else's script rolling by. Mostly I'm wondering what it will take for him to see something on the TelePrompTer that's just a bridge too far, and to stop, say "this is wrong, I can't read that" and go off-script.
I expect it'll happen between now and November, and there will be media coverage. Maintaining an utterly fabricated faux reality takes energy, just like a Romulan cloaking device, and eventually the invisible will be made visible.
Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said "We believe Mitt Ryan." But he also believes in getting back up again when he fails.
He told a golf joke, and that ghostly smile... gave me a shiver. He was boring, mostly. Jeanette said "give him the hook."
Rand Paul got past the "Hellooos" and one sentence, she said "give him the hook."
The Bushes showed up, on video. Can you imagine? I assume HW isn't well enough to be there in person, but George W. was the last Republican President, served two terms. And he's not at the 2012 convention? It's bizarre. I did appreciate HW appreciating Dana Carvey's wit.
I did not appreciate Poppy saying "there was never a taint of scandal around [his son's] Presidency." Really? The cocked-up rush to war in Iraq wasn't a scandal? Amnesia is a beautiful thing.
"That was more revealing and personal than anything we've heard about Mitt Romney," Mark Shields said, about the video as a whole, not that crazy thing about "no taint." It taint necessarily so.
Heard about 2 minutes of Paul Ryan's speech tonight, and it got me shouting at my radio. Here's the deal: the Republicans want to blame everything—absolutely everything—that's going or gone wrong on Obama, and criticize him for pointing out that guess what? There are a lot of other causes and actors in this drama.
It's a great con. Don't blame us, blame him! And look, he's trying to blame us, how awful he is!
One of those actors is Paul Ryan, promoted to the #2 supporting role in the festivities for god knows why. He's one of the Republican leaders in Congress who executed the strategy of obstruction, delay and sabotage, and now he comes to cash in on the "success" of that strategy. To blame someone else, and to win the 2nd highest office in the land.
It could work. Voters have divided close to 50-50 for a long time, and it's more like a football rivalry than it is about serious discussion about how to address the problems of the day. Mr. Ryan is a most unserious man, in his budget proposals, in his wringing his hands over the deficit even as his only proposal would make things worse, in his enthusiasm for destroying the Medicare program, in his willingness to read bald-faced lies from a script and give it all the theatrical delivery he has in him.
It's quite a show. Mark Twain could have written a book about it.
Notable: Joan McCarter's take on "reintroducing" Paul Ryan.
I gave it a try, but I don't think I can take another two days of the convention. The suspense got sucked out of it when they went ahead and nominated Romney before doing anything else, squelching the Paulites with barely a squeak.
"Grassroots is dead," said Gary Heyer of Minnesota. They want to re-do the nomination count? Woot! Delegates walked out! Talk in the blogosphere about forming another party, he says.
Pass the popcorn!
Why does this guy have his finger in his ear?
"It's about creditors and debtors," he says. Huh.
"It's absolutely corrupt and it's ridiculous." Yup.
They wanted to do something, something BIG at this convention, but the party bosses—obviously—had other plans. It's a love-fest, what in the world were you thinking?
John Boehner, comparing Obama to a "guy who walked into a bar," wow, this guy can't tell a joke. His meme for "We can do better" (Monday's theme, shifted to their new day 1) is "we'd throw him out."
The most inexplicable theme of the night was the moving white smoke? cloud? on the blue background behind most of the speakers. Morphing vapors? Not sure what the concept for that was, but it made me woozy. (Is it to match the Governor's continuously shifting positions? Just a thought.)
Boehner says the Romney/Ryan team needs some "true believers," he's got that right. Do you suppose this working class hero has read Eric Hoffer?
Now Reince Priebus, who comes across as freaky as his name. At least they stopped the motion on that blue and white background.
Addresses the convention as "guys."
Send him back to Chicago, he says.
Decries gutter politics.
My buddy, my Congressman.
"And hey," he's addressing a big house, it just comes across a little weird on a TV screen. Is he liquored up? His speech seems a little slurred, his cadence a little slow. Maybe just drunk with power.
It might be too late. "We're not just spending borrowed money, we're living on borrowed time."
Oh, here's the brutal video of the whole vote counting thing. Knock yourself out.
8 Colorado delegates abstained. Good for them.
D.C. has more votes than Delaware, that's interesting.
Idaho gets 32 votes and its Governor to announce them. Clement celebrates our 43rd-ness, and "the first to sue on Obamacare" (making us the first to lose, too, I guess), all our votes for "Ruh... Romney." Not a good place to stumble there, right before your candidate's name.
Rick Santorum says "It's a great honor to be here tonight" to walk back his comments about how we should re-elect Barack Obama if Mitt Romney gets the Republican nomination.
That pretty Latina ("Loose-SAY") they had introduce Ann Romney, she talked a little about Ann's husband, "Meat." "Meat Romney."
After all that excitement, Ann started by saying the hurricane had hit land. That is some sense of timing.
She's here to talk about her man. "From my heart." She's a uniter, not a divider. She's here to talk about love... her love for her man? Huh, that's a bit unseemly.
But wait, there's more! Chris Christie, with his own promo video for introduction. He's introducing himself, sort of. That's weird. And he walks out to the podium clapping for himself.
NO, NOT THAT BLUE BARF BACKGROUND AGAIN!
He's standing proud. And choosing "respect" over love. Correcting Ann's speech? Whatever. Let's see what The Daily Show did this thing. The road to JEB BUSH 2016, nice.
Nice graphic from Restore Sanity and Take Back America on Facebook:
Calvin Woodward's report for the AP, that the GOP is going forward with convention despite the storm, includes this gem from "veteran Republican consultant in Washington" Rich Galen:
"You can tone down the happy-days-are-here-again a bit. Maybe you don't have the biggest balloon drop in history."
I guess I must've missed that series of ads where happy days are here again. I thought we were going to hell in a handbasket (carried by the do-nothing Republican-obstructed Congress), down the road to socialism and/or fascism, led by the anti-Christ from another continent. Happy days? What happy days? Try this:
Romney, in a Fox interview, said in comments broadcast Sunday that the fallout over Akin's remarks "hurts our party and I think is damaging to women," adding: "It really is sad, isn't it? With all the issues that America faces, for the Obama campaign to continue to stoop to such a low level."
Stooping to the low level of pointing out the fact that the Republican Party's expressed policies (as seen in their shiny new platform) are damaging to women and hurt the party? So confusing.
Believe it or not, that's the honor the local Republican Party in Sarasota, Florida just bestowed to Donald Trump. He's a "champion of the people," who will do "everything it takes to take our country back," from... who, the NPR report did not say (but wink, wink, nudge, nudge, you know what I mean).
The bad news is that the Monday cancellation from Isaac seems to have scrubbed Trump from the speakers list. This in spite of the man being "bigger than Isaac" at least in his own mind, and to the Sarasota GOP.
But he wants to remind us that since it's "an issue that a lot of people believe in," the question of where Barack Obama was born is no joking matter, unlike, say... The Donald himself, or the little red fox that lives on his head.
In other non sequitur news, Mike Theiler's image of RNC chairman Reince Preibus picked up an interesting bit of teleprompter text... Yes, let's talk about those merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all... wait, where did they go?
(Little did I know: that text is from our very own Declaration of Independence, in its bill of particulars of the king's repeated injuries and usurpations. Are they going to read the Declaration as part of the convention? Draw parallels between King George and Barack Obama? Call for further extirpation of savages?)
We're shocked, shocked to hear that Romney operatives were busy on the rules committee last week, "systematically trying to prevent minorities from having even any remote opportunity of being heard."
I mean, wasn't that already part of their constitution or something?
Also on rawstory, Mitt says he's not going to "manipulate his life" by bringing his banking onshore, apparently getting his back up further than the previous answer "it's all in a blind trust, so la la la la la I don't know what's happening."
"First of all, there was no reduction — not one dollar reduction — in taxes by virtue of having an account in Switzerland or a Cayman Islands investment," Romney explained. "The dollars of taxes remained exactly the same. There was no tax savings at all. And the conduct of the trustee and making investments was entirely consistent with U.S. law and all the taxes paid were those legally owed and there was no tax saving by virtue of those entities."
And we can be assured of that because... he says so! Do you suppose he realizes he's adding to the reasons why we should be interested in those tax returns he's clutching tighter than a barnacle on a boat? We are so interested in what all you're hiding, Mitt!
I'm wondering who in the audience remembers George LeRoy Tirebiter's campaign for dog-killer and his campaign slogan: "You can believe me, because I'm always right, and I never lie."
So, thanks to the forecasting of one of our great federal government entities, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the GOP decided to cancel Monday and make the other three days of their convention 33% more fun.
"Emergency management officials had plans in place to evacuate the city, which is prone to flooding. Heavy rains could bring three to five feet of water."
The last time a hurricane rejiggered GOP convention plans, it was sort of optional. This time, maybe not so much? (As one wag tweeted, "The people who scheduled a convention in Florida during hurricane season. They want to run things.")
Under the overall theme of "a better future" (sounds good to me!), they also had daily themes (as catalogued by Wikipedia of "We Can Do Better," "We Built It," "We Can Change It," and "We Believe in America."
Not sure how they'll mash those up to make three. Just skip doing better? While indisputably popular among Romney backers and Obama haters, it's not clear how the "We Built It" theme and t-shirts rise to "better," being based on a deliberate misinterpretation, but with a speaker who benefited handsomely from government aid (and who told others they should go and do likewise), and a gathering in a stadium built with $86 million of the public's money, and a public airwaves noise machine touting it as nothing short of brilliant, the hypocrisy is forecast to be three to five feet deep, too.
But this just in: the latest coastal watch/warning for Isaac shows a track further west and headed for New Orleans. The Florida Keys are getting whacked, but Tampa may do no worse than the edge of "tropical storm" after all, and a lot of Republicans will be left twiddling their smartphones on Monday instead of on agenda.
Sometime during the week we're sure to hear thanks be to God that he spared the good Republicans, and instead chose to punish Haiti and Louisiana again.
That's the western view, smoky on the ground, and striking from a satellite of fires not abating out west. That image was taken on Thursday, westerly wind, but before the dry cold front had cleared the air—for just one day. Overnight, the wind clocked around to the east and the Trinity Ridge plume came and filled up the Treasure Valley (that light greenery above the "Tr" and on west to the Snake R. headed north).
The three big ones—Trinity Ridge, Halstead and the Mustang Complex—are all more than 100,000 acres, and 11% or less contained. Projected dates for full containment are end of September to mid-October.
Northern California's fires are substantial as well, but nowhere near as big and more to mostly contained, as of NASA's Aug. 24 snapshot and report.
Here's Ry Cooder, still singing songs and stirring up trouble, channeling the family dog and reporting the Koch brother's deal with the devil. What's not to like? If you haven't worn out your welcome at the NYT you can play two of the songs from his new album, "Mutt Romney Blues" and "The Wall Street Part of Town." Woof woof woof.
"It just seemed we should hear from the dog, you know. Quite a useful character, a dog is, when you view it in the light of the blues. Like a servant, a yardman, someone very low in the social order. He's just begging to be let down [from the car roof]."
Let's hear from all those guys (and gals?) who like to interpret the hand of God moving in things such as hurricane Isaac postponing Mitt Romney's GOP nomination. And then, I don't know, if anything bad happens, quick action by FMEA, and maybe a visit from President Obama to reassure the inhabitants of Florida that things are going to be just fine.
Hmm, it used to be "Questions" and now it's "Talk," but either way, a little Q&A, condensing and editing can paint a nice self-portrait in caricature. This week's is Jan Brewer. What she said: "As the saying goes, there are lies, damned lies and statistics." Followed soon after by this tidy gem, somehow apropos of concealed weapons and bars and bartenders:
"Ninety-nine point nine percent of the people that are gun owners are very responsible."
All I can say is, who knew. Very responsibility runs higher in that demographic than generally, it seems.
Mitt Romney was JK of course, but this from Kevin Marks:
"No one's ever asked to see my birth certificate" is a pretty succinct statement of white privilege.
The audience all got a jolly laugh out of it too, and maybe the Democrats overreacted by saying Mitt's a birther now... but still. No one's ever asked him to pull over because he was Driving While Black, either.
H/t to Sisyphus, the best retweeter I know.
When Romney's pick for Veep was still fresh, Media Matters collected some things Wisconsin journalists want you to know about Paul Ryan. The consensus seems to be that he's an ambitious Washington insider who hasn't done much for his district other than what was needed to get re-elected every two years.
"The way to understand him is he is Dick Cheney, he is a guy who went to Washington as soon as he could, rooted himself in the establishment, got himself elected as soon as he could and became a major player," said John Nichols, an associate editor at the Capital Times in Madison. "He is Dick Cheney with very good hair."
He wasn't in charge of finding a candidate vice-president and picked himself, though.
Paul Krugman digs in to the Ayn Rand angle: Galt, Gold and God.
"In 2005, he told the Atlas Society, which is devoted to promoting Randís ideas, that she inspired his political career: 'If I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand.' He also declared that Rand's work was required reading for his staff and interns. And the Ryan fiscal program clearly reflects Randian notions."
Presser from the Idaho GOP complaining about a radio ad from the opponents of the Idaho education reform bills that are going to be subjected to voter approval this fall; they're complaining that the "unfunded mandate" claim goes to far. The Legislature did too provide funding, $2.5 million.
That glosses over the reality that funding for public schools in Idaho is a zero sum game. There's no "new" money, the question is how we're going to divvy up the existing funding, which is constrained by (among other things) by the legislators consistent lowballing of revenue estimates. Oh, and the program will eventually cost tens of $millions so the 2.5 is just getting started.
But never mind all that. What struck me about the press release (besides their flogging the "Students Come First" moniker the proponents so love to use) was this:
"We are disappointed with the teachers' union," said Chairman Barry Peterson. "If the teachers' union is willing to delude the truth about the funding of these bills, then we have to question their motives and whether they really have the interest of our youth at heart. ..."
Delude the truth. Or, um, dilute it? Or perhaps delude voters? Still working on that education thing. And not to put too fine a point on it, the Idaho Republican Party has its own issues with delusional thinking.
And you have got to be kidding us, Mitt: releasing (more) tax returns would violate your religious privacy? Why not just tell us your dog peed on them.
Your dad set a good example for you. Follow it. If there's something too sooper secret in there (and, ahem, how much you gave to church doesn't qualify) and you don't want to, fine. But why are you talking about this, and reminding us that you haven't done the upstanding thing?
Down at the bottom of the mundane political spam asking for a teeny, tiny contribution ($3 is somehow a magic number) to let them know "we've got a live one!" there is a bold-faced, capitalized sentence:
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN A PRIZE.
I assume this is legally required in some or all target venues? But it's nice, there's a hyperlink if you want to enter by making a contribution, and another if you don't. Click here. They took the trouble to add some code between me and that click to mittromney.com with a stop at click.targetedvictoryemail.com to drop off a coded token telling them which message succeeded, and to whom it was addressed, AND (this is the sweet part) to obfuscate that fact with an HTML title tag on the hyperlink. (My browser, Firefox v14.0.1, still shows the coded link down in the status line, but it would be easy to miss if the title popup catches your eye, as it's designed to do.)
But I'm OK with that. Enter me in the drawing! It's not like I need to worry about getting more spam, they're already larding my account. (I did, um, obfuscate my phone number, because please, no more robocalls.) "Making a contribution does not increase your chances of winning," they assure me, so let's see if I can win
one (1) round-trip coach class plane ticket within the continental United States to the Tampa, Florida metropolitan area ("Destination") on a date to be determined by Sponsor, with an approximate retail value of $750; one (1) two-night hotel stay at the Destination, with an approximate retail value of $500; ground transportation at the discretion of Sponsor, with an approximate retail value of $50; and a credential for Convention Hall access, with no ($0) retail value. Approximate total retail value is $1300.
and fly into a hurricane and or Destiny. I also entered the drawing to go to Ohio, but I didn't quite understand why I'd want to go there. Still, that irrestible lure: no purchase necessary.
Day one theme for next week's GOP con in Tampa is reported to be "We Can Do Better." There are certainly plenty of elected Republicans already in office. When do will they start?
To make up for the lacunae in summer postings due to offline travel, here's an item I wrote while we were en route from Boise to Grand Rapids, July 5th, mostly in the "original" style I usually smooth out before publication.
Everybody wants a piece of us going by. No seat assignment, would you like to purchase a nicer seat? (nicer than NO seat, that is.) check in at the front desk? No—we're going to stretch you out as long as possible. They started boarding without calling us up to the gate desk, I went up to see wtf. Oh yeah, your boarding passes are right here.
And one of the two agents was writing down the seat numbers of the boarding passes as people showed them to get in the jetway. No three card monte at this gate, baby!
But off we went, right on time, with smaller bags that didn't have to be gate-checked—through!—on our regional jet. North American region? It's actually a pretty good hop from Boise to Minneapolis people, "approximately 1,142 miles" as our crew told us we'd get on our SkyMiles account. Plate tectonics, I guess.
WiFi on board, that's woot. But it ain't free woot; got a tenner on you? If not, just the "customized" gogo experience. Flight tracker is cool. Latest headlines from People magazine, mmmnot so much.
Smoothly landed in the Twin Cities, the monitors show an earlier flight to GRR, but we'd have to bust across the terminal... We ambled to our gate, closer, and asked the not-busy gate agent. Yes, 7 seats available. You got $50 on you? ($50 EACH, natch.) Meh. We're not on the freemium list, and our flight's not overbooked, sucks to be us. There were still free (soft) drinks and a "snack": our choice of peanuts, pretzels or cookies, each in a minimally recognizable-sized package.
For our three hour layover then, the lovely sack lunches we brought, a nearby TV tuned to CNN (ugh), and no, the WiFi is not free. You're not from around here, are you?
Too bad I'm not on assignment, I could see how MUCH it would be possible to spend on a short trip. First Class, anyone? Maybe the wifi would be included with that. Upgrade to a suite. Get the snoot lounge pass. Skip the three hour layover.
I've been a fan of Google from back when only a couple hundred thousand techy insiders knew that they'd solved the search problem, and continue to use a ton of their software even though as a giant conglomerate including the likes of DoubleClick, there's a lot to be dubious about. (Not so much that I'm tweeting "Hate google" as I saw someone do yesterday, however.)
They seem to be taking a bad page from Facebook's playbook though, in freely morphing user interfaces to suit themselves, for various and usually inexplicable reasons. (One example: if you use iGoogle, you may have noticed that it "will not be available after November 1, 2013," maybe even followed their hyperlink to Learn more about it. Seriously? You're taking away something jolly and useful, and plan to remind everyone about that for umpteen months?)
And like most giant corporations, their support policy boils down to "don't call us, we'll call you" wink, wink, nudge, nudge, actually we're not going to call you, and you know that. Soooo... nothing to do but wail here on my blog.
Today while using my relatively new keyboard for my relatively new new iPad thingie from that other gigantic computer conglomerate, I noticed there was no [Esc] key, and wondered if that was a "feature" foisted upon all of Apple-world by a fussy notion of Steve Jobs'. It hasn't been a problem for me, but it did immediately make me wonder how you'd work around that if you were using my most favorite text editor that I use dozens of times a day. Back home, I asked the Google oracle if you can even get vim on the iPad? Sure enough, there's an app for that!
And here, a Google Group on the more general topic, vim_mac. I joined, tried to post a reply to a relevant message, and see that it's offering to CC my reply to no fewer than five addresses on vim.org, all at once. Ugh. My remarks weren't going to be that special. Which of them to accept, if any? The Google UI has elided part of the addresses... for compactness? (Nope, doesn't matter how big I make my window.) Or confidentiality of the recipients? So pick none or more of
The first one is "announcements," I bet. Pretty much no idea what any others are, and no obvious way to find out. The gmail-ish "show original" reveals that the obfuscation runs deep. In the original's "To" line, choices are
Guess I'll just CC none while I wonder "what were they thinking?" and whether some backoffice DB and code would unobfuscate those addresses for my reply.
Being hammered hard on the campaign trail by Mitt Romney and his boy wonder, Paul Ryan: Obama "raided" Medicare. The recitation in a retail solicitation for campaign funds echoes Ryan's script today:
"It's mind-boggling to hear President Obama and his liberal cronies level deceptive and desperate claims about Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan's plan to protect and strengthen Medicare.
"It's ironic, because some four years ago, Obama campaigned against 'drastic cuts in Medicare.' Yet, President Obama turned Medicare into a piggy bank for Obamacare—and he raided $716 billion from Medicare to pay for his Obamacare monstrosity."
Given that Ryan supported the same reduction in the next 10 years' Medicare spending, it's a remarkable display of chutzpah and disingenuity for him to put on a show of indignation. But facts that take (ever so slightly) more than 15 seconds to explain are harder to grasp than cronies, deceptive, desperate, drastic and (my favorite) monstrosity.
Two Boise State University professors have been awarded a $300,000 National Science Foundation grant for their "Synergistic Approach to Prevent Persistent Misconceptions with First-year Engineering Students," but the presser doesn't have much detail on their subject matter. "Math and science concepts" cover a lot of ground. "Particularly those related to thermo-fluid sciences" is more specific, but... oh, they plan to start by "identify[ing] which concepts most often trip up students."
I suppose one can find evidence that misconceptions do persist, but what if the idea that "it may be too late to repair misconceptions of fundamental science and engineering concepts by the time students reach core engineering courses in college" is actually a misconception? One's study based on the assumption could make it persist.
It sounds like a pedagogical study, and valuable enough. But touting the technology trimming, as the provost and VP for academic affairs does, for "exemplif[ying] the modernization of education in a digital age" as if that were necessarily a good thing seems like... you know.
It's day whatever of the "legitimate rape" story, and reading this morning's headline that Akin's Faith Is Central to His Persistence, my first thought was "and his ignorance." Yesterday's non-apology assures us that he's kind of sorry this blew up, but "the mistake I made was in the words I said" also assures us that he doesn't recognize that it's the thought that counts. William Saletan, writing on Slate, digs deeper into the issue:
"When you look at the three episodes side by side—the 1991 comment about marital rape, the 2011 specification of 'forcible rape,' the 2012 reference to 'legitimate rape'—it's hard to explain away the pattern. Nobody uses the wrong words accidentally three times in a row. But if you watch Akin's whole interview on KTVI, you'll see that the pattern is actually larger. He trusts some people more than others. Women who report rape are among the people he doesn't quite trust."
That interview is an interesting tour of Tea Party nut jobbery. He's against the school lunch program, but hasn't studied it, much. He thinks the federal government has "taken over the whole student loan program," and that Fannie and Freddie destroyed the economy, so connect the dots. We've been there and done that as far as the Civil Rights Act goes. Let's go back to the Senate representing states by repealing the 17th Amendment, because... the federal government is too big. And the snippet that went viral was not taken out of context. The only surprising thing is that interviewer didn't ask a follow-up when Akin offered his crazy and insulting notion for why there should be no abortion exception for rape: "legitimate" rape doesn't lead to pregnancy, so if a woman says she got pregnant from rape, she must be lying. Or, deep inside, she really wanted it.
Even though Akin is man enough to defy the "party bosses" and stay in his race to represent Missouri in the Senate, he has at least acknowledged that he was "medically wrong", and confirmed he's accepting an invitation to stay away from the GOP convention in Tampa.
State Republican committee member Jonathan Sternberg "acknowledged that Mr. Akinís mouth could sometimes get him into trouble," according to John Eligion's NYT report. "Todd Akin works so hard and tears himself so ragged," Mr. Sternberg said, "that he has the propensity to say things without thinking."
That's charming, but it seems far more likely that his problem is a propensity to actually blurt out what he is thinking.
Now then: do the voters in Missouri want this person representing them in the United States Senate?
Update: Maureen Dowd reminded me of what I heard yesterday: that Akin is a member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Because lunatics know best about running asylums, apparently.
I've heard names popping up about who will and won't be speaking at the soon-to-be GOP-con (where "history will be made"), but hard to know what's what in the fluid situation with a week to go. I assume Wikipedia will have the facts sooner or later (and get them sorted alphabetically). So far, no Sarah Palin or Donald Trump, but yes to Nikki Haley, Mike Huckabee, John Kasich, John McCain, Rand Paul, Condeleezza Rice, Rick Santorum, Rick Scott and Scott Walker!
Jeb Bush is on the list, but hello, not George W. Bush? The 43rd President of the United States? There must be one hell of a lot of brush to clear down on the Texas ranch. (Everything's bigger down there, don't you know.)
Life imitates art, as the purported stunt that didn't happen (removing the [W] keys from the White House keyboards when Bill cleared out) is coming soon to a TV near you. Robert Reich: Erasing W.
"[T]he resemblances between George W. Bush and Mitt Romney are too close for comfort. Both were born into wealth, sons of prominent politicians who themselves ran for president; both are closely tied to the nation's corporate and financial elites, and eager to do their bidding; both are socially awkward and, as candidates, tightly scripted for fear of saying something they shouldn't; and both presented themselves to the nation devoid of any consistent policies or principles that might give some clue as to what they actually believe.
"They are both, in other words, unusually shallow, uncurious, two-dimensional men who ran or are running for the presidency for no clear reason other than to surpass their fathers or achieve the aims and ambitions of their wealthy patrons."
This Paul Ryan dude is a piece of work. Now he's after another governmental horror... that he voted for, and celebrated afterwards. What a difference a year makes. Last August, he was all
"What conservatives like me have been fighting for, for years, are statutory caps on spending, legal caps in law that says government agencies cannot spend over a set amount of money. And if they breach that amount across the board, sequester comes in to cut that spending, and you can't turn that off without a super-majority vote. We got that in law."
This August, he's all ... confused and snarly. As seen in the photo there on TPM, with affable Mitt enjoying him having his lead.
Down out of our week and a half in the north woods and Rockies, and still sorting out the detritus. One significant benefit was having two dozen news cycles compressed into a 30,000' overview, revealing the remarkably high noise level, and exposing a Gestalt that might otherwise have been camouflaged.
The big news was, of course, Mitt Romney's pick for VP, Wisconsin Representative and House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan, with most every pundit having weighed in five ways to Sunday before we got past the "huh." Lots of people were talking about the "bold" (if you like it) and "risky" (if you don't) choice, including Nate Silver, on his FiveThirtyEight "political calculus" blog.
"When is it rational to take a big risk?
"When the status quo isn't proceeding in a way that you feel is favorable. When you have less to lose. When you need ... a 'game change.'"
I didn't like what Paul Ryan was up to before he turned into the presumptive Veep candidate, I thought his DOA political statement of a budget stunk, I utterly reject the anti-government agenda he's promoting, and it irks me that he represents (a part of) my home state. I didn't think much of Romney or his campaign beforehand, and "at least taking a risk" doesn't improve its appearance.
Having Ryan trot out his 78-year-old mom, to rail against "cuts in Medicare" (those same cuts in payments to providers that were included in his last two budgets), blustering about a "board of bureaucrats" that would be rationing healthcare, that was rich. Everybody should be able to get all the healthcare they can afford, right? Mitt and Paul (and Paul's mom) will be just fine, I'm confident of that.
Just see here on this whiteboard where Mr. Turnaround applies the business miracle of the 2x2 matrix to explain the mystery of life and death. Under Obama, Next Gen is BANKRUPT and under Romney it's SOLVENT. Any questions?
Ok, I've got a question: can we see some more of your tax returns, now? The Obama campaign came up with a nice gambit, offering to stop bugging him if he'd just cough up 3 more years' worth, 2007-2009, that time while he was wanting to be President. No dice! Romney sniffed that
"the fascination with taxes I paid, I find to be very small-minded, compared to the broad issues we face."
Never paid less than 13% in the last 10 years, he says, and all you small-minded people can just SHUT UP because he's not releasing any more tax returns.
Who doesn't find a cliff-hanger "fascinating"? Will we ever get to find out the toxic mystery in the Romneys' tax returns? Maybe not until next season!
Most voters have made their minds; the mythic Undecided voter is as hard to find as a good rain in August. It's about "getting your base out to vote," Jackie Calmes said, which ties right into Romney's secret weapon, GOP voter suppression tactics.
And by your fundraising ye shall know them. BarackObama.com noted a week ago that "just 72 hours after joining the GOP ticket, Paul Ryan is making a pilgrimage to the Sands' Venetian casino in Las Vegas to kiss the ring of Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino magnate who's already donated more than $35 million to Republican groups in this election." Sheldon's got millions more to give to anybody-but-Obama.
How nice that there was a welcoming committee for him.
A brilliant, succinct op-ed piece by a professor of medicine, on the subject of testing standard medical practices, in the context of what may be the two greatest medical errors on record (as he puts it). His suggestion is simple, but maybe not simply implemented:
"Devote 1 percent of health care expenditures to evaluating what the other 99 percent is buying."
As someone who's pretty much opted out of the medical system for all but paying (insurance premiums) and the occasional minor emergency (so far, and yeah, knock on wood and polish your rabbit's foot), and lucky enough not to have been swept up in an unnecessary surgery or counterproductive drug therapy, I'm all for more and better testing instead of just more procedures.
It made me think of the provision of the Affordable Care Act requiring a minimum portion of insurance premiums (85% for "large employer plans," 80% of individual and small employer plans) be actually devoted to health care services and quality improvement.
In the facing of daunting complexity, a simple percentage can get to the heart of the matter, and make a difference.
Thank goodness someone's chronically Mitt's mendacity so we don't have to struggle to keep up. We're up to volume XXVIII, just two shy of making comparisons with the XXX Olympics. There are 28 items in the August 3rd edition, and I didn't go through them all, but did follow the jump on one.
Remember that sound bite on his trip to Israel about how "culture" is so important and why Israel has a GDP per capita of $21,000, while Palestinians' is only $10,000? He called that "a dramatic, stark difference in economic vitality," which is the one part he got right. But the GDP numbers, not so much. Those are $31,000 and $1,500, a factor of more than 20 rather than just over 2, according to Benjy Sarlin on talkingpointsmemo.
That is some superior culture going on, I guess.
What do you get when you amplify noise? Try this: put a microphone connected to an amplifier and speaker in front of the speaker. We call it "feedback," and it's just about never what you want to hear. Still, all sorts of feedback systems are essential to daily life in the age of technology. The key is to controlling how the output signal is fed back into the "plant" and allowed to modify the output. Makes for a good, basic engineering class. One of the things you'll learn in such a class is that without some way to dissipate energy ("damping"), things can quickly get out of hand.
Combine control systems, game theory, undamped greed, and some computer programming and you get... stock markets gone wild! We're currently running an extended experiment that's extremely rewarding for some folks, and largely unproductive for the world economy as a whole. Perhaps "liquidity" is a good thing, allowing more people to buy and sell more investments, more easily. But that's about the only argument in favor, and it's a tenuous one.
Dean Baker, economist and co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, has a suggestion: a tiny tax would make a big difference for ironing out things like the "flash crash" two years ago, and the recent Knight Capital episode. And raise a nice pot of money while we're at it, something in 11 figures per year.
Former NYT Ethicist Randy Cohen weighs in on the subject of bicycling ethics with non-satiric mentions of Idaho, where somehow (I really must learn the story of who made this happen) we have obtained an enlightened law that allows cyclists to roll STOP signs and genuflect at red lights before proceeding if the way is clear.
Unfortunately, his self-satisfied claim to "routinely run red lights" goes beyond our sensible and permissive law, and it's one of the things that can annoy both drivers who know the law, and those who don't, even if it is "ethical." (Not to get all Zen on you, but if a bicyclist runs a red light when there's no one else to see, that's fine. There's no ethical consideration. If someone sees him... not so simple.)
The problem with an ethical argument is more than just our demonstrated difficulty in weighing the dangers we face, though. There's a fairness issue that fuels the incessant acrimony, and overrides the facts:
"[B]icycles are a tiny threat; it is cars and trucks that menace us. In the last quarter of 2011, bicyclists in New York City killed no pedestrians and injured 26. During the same period, drivers killed 43 pedestrians and injured 3,607.
"Cars also harm us insidiously, in slow motion. Auto emissions exacerbate respiratory problems, erode the facades of buildings, abet global warming. To keep the oil flowing, we make dubious foreign policy decisions. Cars promote sprawl and discourage walking, contributing to obesity and other health problems. And then there's the noise. ..."
Maybe Randy's destined for traffic school, and a reminder that there are good reasons to keep in mind two basic rules: don't be stupid, and don't be rude.
Mary Poppins made nannies a class of superhero, but years later, conservatives have given the category a bad name as they deprecate what a "nanny state" tries to do to control our lives. Case in point, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's attempt to limit the size of sugar water dosages in his fair city. Is that crazy, laughable, unreasonable, unconstitutional, or what?
James Surowiecki's analysis for The New Yorker makes it sound like a simply good idea. Choices are easily biased by context, comparisons, and whatever is presented as the default choice. Just ask Goldilocks how she feels about small, medium and large when it comes to theft of services. When you're being sold something, pricing can easily persuade you to go for the "economy size," not because you needed or wanted that much, but because see, it's cheaper by the ounce.
Should it be legislated then? Maybe not, but what's even more laughable than the Mayor's notion to be a nanny is the American Beverage Association rep's dismissal that "150 years of research finds that people consume what they want." If only it were that simple.
The National Geographic report of Curiosity's Mars landing said that's what crowds in Times Square were chanting, along with "Science, Science, Science." Hear, hear.
A few friends had mentioned the event scheduled for early Monday (CDT and EDT), and it just happened to be right before our Sunday bedtime in the Mountain timezone, so I tapped into NASA TV to see the scene in the control room as the multi-step and technically audacious sequence played out, cue by cue. Something about seeing it in real-time made it possible to share the thrill of the moment, culminating with "we're safe on Mars!" and the delivery of the first tiny picture.
Congratulations on a spectacular success, and thanks for "the transported joy of a vast team of engineers and scientists."
Not that Marco Rubio's bill to exempt the U.S. Olympic Committee's payouts to our country's medal winners is anything more than an shot at unlicensed publicity while the games are on and the days are doggy and it's time for recess, but the mostly faux basis for the outrage fails to consider the fact that once you're beyond subsistence income, yes, we have an income tax. Any athlete worth his or her precious meddle will undoubtedly have more than a prize's worth of expenses to write off against the campaign.
The supposed "rebuttal" from Americans for Tax Reform would not make it through the preliminaries for serious consideration, never mind a medal round.
"First, the athlete needs to keep records of his expenses. This may involve issuing W-2s and 1099s to trainers. If any training is overseas, there can't be any personal pleasure in the trip for it to be deductible. None.
"Even if a medalist takes a few hours to see, for example, Parliament, that would disallow all travel expenses from being deductible. ..."
As someone who has prepared multiple tax returns, thank you, I have to wonder if these yahoos are serious, or just amateurs. If you have employees, there's a lot more mandatory recordkeeping than issuing W-2s once a year, whether or not you end up making any money. You have to report their wage income, and withhold payroll and income taxes as required. Yes, you have to account for depreciable property (or use Section 179 to expense it), but no, you do not need to "itemize deductions" if you're running a business. The claim about "no personal pleasure" is laughably wrong, as even a cursory review of pertinent IRS information shows.
But technical niggling does not address the question of whether the complaint (or observation, if they were "just saying") is relevant to a discussion about the price of shuttlecocks in China, or tax fairness. Is their plan to cherry-pick various sorts of income that should be exempt from taxes until it all is?
My friend Bryan Jennings, wrote to me with his thoughts about the flap, and the lucky, talented, and acclaimed teacher he married:
"Wanda won $16,000 on "Teacher Week" on Who Wants To Be a Millionaire and another $10,000 Disney Teacher Award for being an outstanding teacher (not that that compares with being an outstanding swimmer), but she had to pay income tax on those. Where's the justice there? At this point, 17-year-old Missy Franklin has won more in the past week than Wanda and I make together in a year! And she stands to make a whole lot more in years to come. So I agree: I have no problem with Olympic medal winners paying their fair share of tax on their income!"
It's not the first successful dam removal project, and it certainly won't be the last, but it's the biggest so far, and one to celebrate. Timothy Egan's Farewell to Elwha Dam, Hello to Elwha River.
"...the river looks frisky in its gravitational search for old channels. Another dam, twice the height of the Elwha and eight miles upriver, is also coming down. With these two concrete barriers gone, about 70 miles of some of the cleanest, coldest water on the planet will tumble through the park at the edge of the continent."
"The park" being Olympic National Park in Washington state, where Jeanette and I went to honeymoon 31 years ago this month. The NPS site has a feature for the Elwha River Restoration, started last fall and proceeding ahead of schedule.
I've been through a lot of flamewars over the years, rounding out three decades of various sorts of electronic interactions with friends, coworkers, family, friends-of-friends, and strangers of various sorts.
"Stranger" is an interesting term to me this morning.
Not all of the past is tinged in sepia, fading and vignetted into nostalgic tones. People with whom I was once connected have moved on through life, made decisions, married, divorced, married again, had children, who knows what.
Facebook has provided the means for some of us to find each other, 20, 30, even 40 years later. I don't know if you've been around the whole time, but either way, 40 years is a long time ago now. In most cases, there is a jolly catch-up exchange, and then not a whole lot more to say, except that the medium provides a way to restart conversations, maybe make new connections between like-minded souls.
And some not so like-minded.
It was actually pre-Facebook that one of my high school friends tracked me down, read my website, and started an email conversation that became more detailed than most, enough to have a folder in his name to collect it all, more than 150 messages, I see. Most of it was at the end of 2004, through the election, and over the course of the next year, discussion of the interests we still shared, and thoughtful give-and-take on political subjects where we had little common ground, but were willing to consider each other's opinions. In April 2006, when McCain's immigration bill was being debated, I asked him for his opinion and we heard each other out. In 2007, we exchanged emails about guns and the NRA and he wrote "I'm surprised to learn that someone on the Left might be having rational thoughts regarding the danger of gun-free zones."
It was back in my 3rd email to him in September 2004 that I found it "interesting about a number of your responses is how willing you are to infer what's in someone else's head."
We all do that. We all have to do that to get along in the world, but it's dangerous territory at times. Among the hazards is having the keen ability to detect one's own faults as they may be expressed by others. There's a thin line between apparent mind-reading and self-disclosure.
In 2010, brief mention of a "clumsy blunder into facebook territory" in one of his emails, I don't remember the specifics, but this week there were clumsy blunders anew. Under my post of a link to the NYT editorial Republicans vs. Women (about which I'd made no comment, other than extracting what I saw as the money quote, "the subcommittee's anti-woman work product is a statement of Republican policy"), he derided my talking points, and their being "unsubstantiated." Which was confusing, because I hadn't made any. The confusion deepened when his recitation of the sequence of events included "you then offered an editorial to support your statement." And so on, to the point where he suggested "a steady diet of left-wing drivel" might be "accelerating the shrinkage of your hippocampus."
To say it was bizarre and unsettling would be an understatement. I deleted the post, and sent a message explaining why. He retorted (to my observation that he had barged in and made an ass of himself) to tell me that no, "I made an ass of you," and that ipso facto, abracadabra,
"I'll leave you to wallow in your bitterness and hate. I want no part of it."
Well, my goodness. I don't know if this is what bitterness and hate wallow like, but his message gave me a decided chill. I replied with genuine concern about his uncharacteristically antisocial behavior, but also an urge for self-protection motivated by my previous experience with unpleasant exchanges in cyberspace. The next step was to remove him from my friends list... but he had saved me the trouble.
I do wish you well, Richard, in spite of what may be intractable differences between us. I remember both the good old days when we were foolish teenagers, and the thoughtful exchanges we had as adults. Perhaps we will find some common ground again one day, some place other than Facebook.
In keeping with the trademarked theme, that is, if we're going to exempt Olympic winnings from taxes, because... because... is there a reason, actually? What Digby said:
"USA! USA! USA!, that's why. And also they are heroes."
Leave it to the host country's public medium to examine the question more calmly, and also explain who gets what from whom: "the US Olympic Committee awards prize money to its medal winners: $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver, and $10,000 for bronze."
The talking point from some clever anti-tax group taking a unearned victory lap points out how high the tax bill would be for an athlete in the highest bracket, which starts at $388,351 this year. That will hit a few hero-superstars and Ann Romney's horse. Should it win the horse prom.
Aside from disputing the notion that income tax should apply to income (and USA! USA! USA!), a more considered reform of our tax system (yes, I'm joking here) might be to look at this "worldwide tax system" the U.S. uses, which levies taxes on income made anywhere in the world, something "only a handful" of countries have. But we are exceptional after all, and it's almost time for summer recess, so how about a simple, stupid bill and some August headlines. Done!
The Beeb's sidebar showing how much a gold medal at the Olympics will get you in different countries is interesting, too. $800,000 if you play for Singapore, and well into 6 figures for Russia or three of the 'stans. Prompting doping expert John Hoberman to throw a cigar in the celebratory punchbowl:
"Cash incentives are just an incentive to cheat."
And not just at the Olympics.
Must be time to take some time off Facebook, where one bad actor can spoil more than a whole day. We were friends once, there's an explanation. If we're "friends" in any way at this point, it's only by virtue of a distant and now irrelevant past. Apropos of whatever, and for his own status, he said he wished he could remember the wit who opined that one should
"Never argue with an idiot—they will drag you down to their level, and beat you with experience."
From a different direction, after I asked someone else "what's your point?" he replied, "Point? This is Facebook." What could I say? Good point.
What else is new? Well, there was some underwater tussling going on in water polo (yeah, I know, I was surprised too) and a boob sort of flashed on NBC momentarily! Then they cut away from Bob Costas and returned to the water polo match.
This brilliant "info" graphic from Fox "News" showed up, and even though I understand it's so "over" to put "quotes" around the "News," how else can we lament the fact that there's a giant sucking sound of information leaving your brain when you watch that channel? (Whoa, if Bush tax cuts expire, the top tax rate will go up like FIVE TIMES?! Or something.)
You can now get George Takei saying Ohhh Myyy! for your ringtone for a buck and half.
I have a cousin who made Staff Sergeant in the Air Force. Congratulations, Vince!
Libre Congregación Unitaria de México posted a nice photo of a Biblioburro, and I'm happy to know that such a thing exists in the world. There's also a blog, of course.
While we have paved some of paradise and put up parking lots, we are also turning paper mills into data centers which have to smell better. And this lyrical snippet that's good to keep in mind:
We are stardust
We are golden
We are billion year old carbon
And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden
Why do they call it "Greenland" when it's covered with snow and ice? Stay tuned, we may be about to find out. This summer, the peer-review process couldn't act quickly enough to keep a team of glaciologists ahead of the melt, as their prediction that we would see melting across all of Greenland's ice sheet's surface in summer within a decade came true... within a month.
"The melting spread quickly. Melt maps derived from the three satellites showed that on July 8, about 40 percent of the ice sheet's surface had melted. By July 12, 97 percent had melted."
There are a few kilometers of difference between surface melting and the whole shebang oozing into the north Atlantic, and "summer" still doesn't last all that long at the top of the ice sheet, but yet another warming claxon just sounded.
Tom von Alten tva_∂t_fortboise_⋅_org