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unraveling

30.April.2014 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Some bad actors, no doubt Permalink to this item

Nevada's other Senator, Dean Heller is now backpedaling that he "never called Cliven Bundy a patriot," he was just pushing back on what Harry Reid said:

“What Sen. Reid may call domestic terrorists, I call patriots,” he said during the April 18 televised interview. “We have a very different view on this.”

So to be clear, it's some "80 percent" of the Bundyville posse, not including Cliven hisself, who are a-ok. The Boy Scouts, for sure, and everybody "singing the national anthem, delivering the pledge of allegiance and praying." Which, mind you, the Occupy Wall Street people did not do, so we can tell for sure they weren't patriots by the way.

It's all so simple inside Heller's head.

He must not have seen the picture of Cliven riding his horse while flying the stars and stripes, which kind of breaks the category, doesn't it?

Is it the full 20% remainder that are "some bad apples in there, bad actors, no doubt," or is there some space between the patriots and the bad guys? And who are we going to have sort them out? The wild west seems to be turning into a law-enforcement-free zone.

You can't take it with you Permalink to this item

Various flavors of auctions for Boise icon Velma Morrison's estate are happening or imminent. It's "a rare opportunity to own a piece of the Morrison legacy," writes Justin Wilkerson, president of the Harry Morrison and Morrison Center Foundations, and Morrison's grandson. (He also wrote that "some proceeds from the estate sale could benefit the Harry Morrison Foundation," which makes me wonder why he doesn't seem more sure about that.)

Three internet-only auctions are underway, for $10 (each day?), you can tromp around the 12,000 square foot house named "Camelot," overlooking Ann Morrison Park for a "preview" this weekend, Saturday and Sunday and to top it off, a live auction on May 10.

Everything must go, I suppose, including the house, "marketed for sale by Corbett Bottles Real Estate Marketing," and shown by appointment. Qualified buyers, please.

It might be interesting to see the "100's" of items, including 49 carats of diamonds, gold watches, bronze sculptures, sterling silver, ceramics, fur coats, jade, Bohemian glass, silver dollars, porcelains, décor, lamps, yard tools (yard tools?!), jewelery boxes, and MK memorabilia ("including dam core samples"), but mostly I'm struck by what sounds like a list of items I need not see, nor consider owning for any reason whatsoever. But that's just me, I've never been much of a shopper.

27.April.2014 Permanent URL to this day's entry

The right's duck-dynastic moment Permalink to this item

Never mind that the high plains and the intermountain west are as different as the seaboard and midwest, Paul Krugman's wrap-up of the Cliven Bundy affair as High Plains Moochers provides a succinct bit of economics and a lament for "the dumbing down that seems ever more central to the way America’s right operates." (We're feeling that pretty keenly as the local right and righter wind up to the May 20 primary in Idaho.) It's not just that "treating Mr. Bundy as some kind of libertarian hero is, not to put too fine a point on it, crazy."

"[T]oday’s conservative leaders were raised on Ayn Rand’s novels and Ronald Reagan’s speeches (as opposed to his actual governance, which was a lot more flexible than the legend). They insist that the rights of private property are absolute, and that government is always the problem, never the solution."

I'm three chapters into Robert Gates' memoir of his time as Secretary of Defense in the Bush 43 and Obama administrations, and the contrast between patriotism and anti-patriotism couldn't be more stark. Never mind "speak softly and carry a big stick," the new model is "wave your guns and shoot off your mouth."

26.April.2014 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Flavor of S. Idaho, part 2 Permalink to this item

The one-hour debate between ID-02 Congressman Mike Simpson and Club for Growth stand-up comedian Bryan Smith could sure shiver your timbers.

"Let's start with something we all care about: guns."

Smith: "I have been a big supporter of the 2nd Amendment." "I oppose background checks."

Yeah, that's right, the second amendment says shall not be infringed so there should be no limits whatsoever.

Simpson observes that anyone who implies he's not a super-ultra ardent supporter of the 2nd amendment "doesn't know what he's talking about, doesn't know me, isn't telling the truth." All praise the NRA.

Talking about BLM land, and Bundyville: how do you like that $1.35 per AUM, and would you raise that? Simpson's glad that cooler heads prevailed, and then "take Bundy out of the picture." Yes, thank you. He's opposed to raising grazing fees. Never mind a market solution, he likes that government-mandated, sub-market rate. Do you believe that covers the cost of management?

Simpson: "I think it does..."

Smith: "I've got a better idea than raising the rate: We should get our lands back [sic] from the Federal government!"

And his claque gives a hearty cheer. Simpson talks about a "more realistic solution" to getting control of public lands, and man, that is a crazy hard sell with the Bryan Smith crowd. The Club for Growth team doesn't give a flying fig for "reasonable." They've been getting great traction with being unreasonable, and blocking everything and anything in Congress. They want more of that, and Bryan Smith is their man.

Simpson says reasonable things about immigration reform (without being at all specific, which is key to all statements about immigration). Idaho industry cares about cheap labor, so there's that. It's "a very difficult issue to solve."

Smith says "we need to distinguish between legal and illegal immigration." Uh, yeah, let's get back to basics? And by the way NO AMNESTY!

Simpson: "After 10,000 votes, I'm sure you can mispresent a lot of my votes, as you have in your advertisements."

Smith doesn't have that sort of problem: he has no history of any sort in local or federal politics. He wants to get rid of the EPA, because why should we care about dust in the air or chemicals in the water? Farmers could be more productive. We didn't use to even have the EPA, back in 1969. Without the EPA, we wouldn't have 47 cleanup sites, amirite?

Smith: "Get the federal government out of our lives and let people manage their own affairs and let the free market work."

Let's talk about the NSA. Did the Patriot Act go too far? Simpson tries for nuance yet again, balancing privacy and security. (WE DON'T WANT BALANCE. WE WANT ALL ONE THING OR ANOTHER.) "We have an Intelligence Committee" and he's waiting for their recommendation.

Simpson says "there was a known terrorist. In Yayman." And the NSA tracked things down, and... "stopped the NY Times Square terrorist attack." Which is a pretty funky story, since the "NY Times Square terrorist attack" was not actually STOPPED, it FAILED because the guy was a doofus and his bomb didn't explode, and some street vendors called the cops.

Smith: "The 4th amendment is not antiquated and oudated!" (And yet... all your metadata are belong to us, perfectly legally.)

Was the government shutdown good for the Republican party? Smith is not so concerned about the Republican Party as about the whole country don't you know.

"Something that can't go on forever, won't."

Ah, so the shutdown was good for the country, is that your argument? Smith gives the corpse of earmarks one last kick.

Simpson comes back, hard.

"There you go again, Bryan. You are misrepresenting and actually lying about the things I voted for." "Taxes are lower today than when I took office."

It's true, you know. And it's not good enough for the Club for Growth.

Simpson gets a dig in against "some interest group in Washington D.C." in his closing, but that's way too subtle for many in the audience. He should come right out and take on the Club for Growth. Bring it on.

Flavor of S. Idaho Permalink to this item

District 22 covers the wide open spaces of southern Ada County, includes Kuna and a chunk of the growing suburb known as Meridian. There's a Senate race in the Republican primary, between a grant administrator/homemaker with no political experience, and a steel salesman who says he was Treasurer of his 6th grade class, and was elected to the Republican Central Committee in 2012. You can read all about 'em in the Voter Guide.

Charles Pratt Porter, what makes you a better choice for voters than your opponent(s)?

"First, I know that I am the strongest supporter of the 2nd amendment of which I am prepare to defend at all costs!! I am a member of the NRA since I started voting at 18 years of age. I believe that I have more life experiences than she has. I have more years working in business, for myself and others than she does. Also, my children attend Kuna public schools which we support with our tax dollars, while she has her children attending privates schools. I served in the US Army reserves to defend this county and the Republic of Korea. I have started my own business and know how difficult that can be. My motives are pure and simple , I am here to serve !! The money for this campaign comes from my family and myself. I am not "bought" by any special-interest lobbying group. I will serve the people in-line with the constitution(state& federal). I will tell those in Washington DC to stop violating our citizens' God-given rights."

(Korean war veteran, you say? Not exactly: he's 53.)

His opponent Lori Den Hartog, endorsed by Tea Party-esque gubernatorial candidate Russ Fulcher, says her top priority is "a quality uniform education system, with options, that prepares our children to enter the workforce and to be thoughtful and productive citizens." (The Idaho Constitution has the "uniform" but not so much the "with options.")

If elected, what are your top three priorities? How will you accomplish them? Please provide specifics. Mr. Porter:

"1. Restore Idahoans' 1st ,2nd, 4th and 10th Amendment rights 2. Throw-out Obamacare 3. Claim Idaho lands for the Idaho people By reminding other elected representatives of their constitutional responsibility to serve the people and not the powerful!! I will go directly to the people to press my point of view. We must stand for freedom, we must shout it from the housetops. With God's help all things are possible."

Would either of you consider expanding Medicaid to help 100,000 low-income Idahoans? No. Don't be silly.

The good news is that for the question that used to go without asking, but no longer does, they both said "no": "Have you been convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, a misdemeanor or felony or had a withheld judgment? If so, what, when and where?"

25.April.2014 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Freedom isn't free Permalink to this item

Will Rand Paul be the Kochs' candidate for 2016? He's interested, certainly, since the Koch brothers have gobs of money they're willing to spend on "libertarian" causes. Nicholas Confessore reports for the NYT:

"Like other Republican contenders, Mr. Paul is seeking support among the 200 or so donors — many of them outsiders to the traditional Republican money establishment — who belong to Freedom Partners, the donor club overseen by Charles and David H. Koch, perhaps the nation’s most influential libertarians."

FP was FKA "Association for American Innovation," but renamed itself "to better reflect the organization’s mission." Which must be about freedom, and partnership now? They're snugged up to the D.C. action in Arlington, Virginia, and a "501(c)(6) chamber of commerce that promotes the benefits of free markets and a free society."

To further their principal goal of educating the public "about the critical role played by free markets in achieving economic prosperity, societal well-being, and personal happiness," they focus on four issue areas: health care reform, federal spending, energy policy, and cronyism.

(I'm guessing they are totally for cronyism.)

The PDF image of their IRS form 990 for their fiscal year ending Oct, 2012, showing a quarter $billion-ish in "program service revenue" (most of that from "membership dues") and most of that paid out in grants. Their Part III.4 accomplishments highlight "free society" but boil down to "the common business interests of its members," most of all.

Part VI.A.1.a tells us a little bit about how the organization is run: the number of voting members of the governing body at the end of the tax year? 1. It's unanimous! That would be Wayne Gable, Director, putting in 5 hours/week. There was also Richard Ribbentrop, Executive Director, working full-time without reportable compensation. And further down, a couple $million in staff expenses.

Their report to the IRS assures us that all its grants were made with instructions not to use the money for illegal activities, lobbying, or electioneering, so whew. Where did the money go? 31 other organizations, including this top dozen:

CORNER TABLE LLC (CENTER TO PROTECT PATIENT RIGHTS) 114,678,000
PR-DIST LLC (AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY) 32,300,000
THE 60 PLUS ASSOCIATION, INC. 15,660,000
AMERICAN FUTURE FUND 13,060,000
CONCERNED WOMEN FOR AMERICA LEGISLATIVE
ACTION COMMITTEE
8,150,000
AMERICAN COMMITMENT 6,260,000
STN LLC (THEMIS TRUST) 5,781,000
POFN LLC (PUBLIC NOTICE) 5,466,250
ORRA LLC (EVANGCH4 TRUST) 5,055,000
TRGN LLC (GENERATION OPPORTUNITY) 5,040,000
NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION 3,465,000
TDNA LLC (LIBRE INITIATIVE TRUST) 3,112,000

Last September, when FP filed this tax form, PR Watch reported on the Kochs' "Dark Money Shell Game Groups" and the Open Secrets blog explored the money routing from undisclosed donors, through various organizations, including the "TC4 Trust" (now terminated), the Corner Table LLC, American Commitment LLC, Eleventh Edition LLC, and "Illegible organization" (ha ha, but that EIN, 80-0549969, is American Commitment's), #6 on the list above, with just over $6 million from the Freedom Partners.

ProPublica infographic on Koch dark money

And now that good "Patients Rights" cause is morphing again, into American Encore, which

"advocates limited government and free enterprise and is committed to protecting individual liberty, including the rights of patients to choose and use their desired medical care providers," advancing its policy interests by "investing in and conducting research, as well as providing financial support to other organizations in support of shared policy interests."

That's quoted from attorney Bobby Burchfield's February, 2014 letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen decrying the "stunning and unprecedented restriction on core political speech by thousands of nonprofit organizations that proposed rulemaking IRS NPRM REG-134417-13 would impose.

The current regulations for 501(c)(4) "social welfare" organizations were proposed and finalized in 1959, and let's just say there have been some "innovations" in pushing large sums of money through non-profit channels in the ensuing half century. I'm not prepared to read all that fine print from the IRS, but it does seem to me that Burchfield's complaint rather stipulates the problem: there is far too much core political "speech" (money = speech, remember) skittering around in the dark of 501(c)(4) non-profits.

American Encore could make one hell of a case study. Pro Publica has at least part of the story, about "Dark Money Man" Sean Noble, with a sidebar interactive infographic illustrating How Dark Money Flows through the Koch Network.

24.April.2014 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Customer service at Dell Permalink to this item

Looking for help from these people is not for the faint of heart. I need a win7 driver for their Venue 8 Android tablet. A direct link from android.com says "no drivers found." The "Drivers, Manuals & Support" section of their product page says "Dell Product Support has you covered" but there's not a lot of evidence. No links, tabs, pages, index, info, form, selector, inputs, just "Chat live," so OK, I try that.

Customer: Looking for USB driver for Win 7.

Customer: Wanting to run an app I'm developing with Eclipse on my win7 desktop on my Venue 8. It's USB-connected, but I need the USB driver referred to in http://developer.android.com/tools/device.html

Agent: Thank you for contacting Dell Basic Support Chat for Optiplex and Latitude Systems under the Corporate and Business Group. My name is Alison. I'll be more than happy to assist you with your concern. Please allow me a few minutes to understand the issue and pull up the account.

Before we begin, may I have an alternate phone number if in case we get disconnected?

Customer: Phone number is ( number )

(minutes pass)

Customer: Hello?

Agent: Yes, I'm here

Agent: Is this for a Venue 8 tablet?

Customer: Yes, a Venue 8 tablet. And a Windows 7 desktop. Talking to each other. You know.

Agent: I see here that you Venue tablet is registered under our Consumer Dept and you have been routed to the Corporate and Business Group. Unfortunately, they do not have chat support. You can contact our Consumer Dept at 1-800-308-3355.

Customer: I'm working for a corporation and this is for business. This is the second time in two days I've been through this drill going through your website, giving you my service tag, and so on. I shouldn't even be having this conversation, I should have been able to get the bloody driver I need from your website DIRECTLY rather than having a conversation. This is awful customer service. Just in case anyone there at Dell cares about such things.

Agent: I really apologize about this inconvenience but based on the service tag provided, this tablet is registered to our Consumer Dept and not under the Corporate and Business Group. Due to contractual agreements, you need to contact our Consumer Dept.

Screenshot of the mobile app I'm working on

Customer: The chances of me doing business with Dell in any further capacity are rapidly going to zero. I understand your position and limitation. You need to communicate my frustration back into your organization in such a way that improvements are made. It should not take multiple attempts to contact the CORRECT DEPARTMENT, YOUR IDENTIFIER should have taken care of that. And I need a DRIVER, not a phone conversation. Either that conversation will end badly, or the person will eventually get me to the file location on your site or server WHICH I SHOULD HAVE BEEN ABLE TO FIND ON MY OWN. Your page for this product has a section for "Drivers, Manuals and Support" that has precisely ZERO INFORMATION, just the link to this chat interface. This is TERRIBLE WEB DESIGN and TERRIBLE CUSTOMER SERVICE, and god bless you it's not your job to fix it BUT IT REALLY NEEDS TO BE SOMEBODY'S JOB THERE AT DELL.

Update: As with so many coding problems these days, StackOverflow to the rescue with a close-enough Q&A for me to find suitable bits called "Android ADB Interface" from Google, via Intel and thence to my PeeCee from which Eclipse could send my little app down the pipe... et voilà!

Local color Permalink to this item

Challenger Russ Fulcher wants to get as much airtime as he can, and of course he wants to debate the incumbent every chance he can get, and of course "Butch" don't see it that way. Dan Popkey's account has a word I don't believe I've seen in print before: "duddn't," as in

Otter replied on Wednesday that the two have appeared at 21 Lincoln Day banquets since February. "In fact," he said, "got one tonight, got two more this weekend. I got a full-time job. He duddn't."

But if it were "dudn't" you might be confused and think it rhymed with "student." Do, did, done, dud, dudn't. Closing in on two dozen banquets seems like a lot, but then the county party fundraisers are perfunctory, calling for "brief remarks" at most. Fulcher's complaint:

"I don't think the Governor can answer to the things that I raise. I don't think he can adequately defend his records on the issues that I discuss. He does not want to publicly defend that."

Fulcher forces us to choose whether he really believes his own campaign pitch (and is as ignorant as that makes him look) or if he's just saying it because it's the role he has to play, after all. He knows where Popkey's headed with his line of questioning, and we know where he's headed with his line of questioning, and gosh, it's not all that interesting after a while.

"Perennial fringe candidates" Harley Brown and Walt Bayes may be the best part of the race for now, and thanks to Otter's desire to dilute Fulcher as much as possible, we'll all get to see them in the May 14 debate the Governor has agreed to.

The news from Bundyville Permalink to this item

Just as we love Sean Hannity's notion that he can compete with Jon Stewart in the newsfotainment realm, is there any such thing as "bad publicity" for Nevada's most famous welfare rancher? The Idaho Statesman ran part of Adam Nagourney's report for the NYT about Cliven carrying on as his live audience dwindles with mention of him "musing about whether slavery was so bad," but without the detail of "what was in effect a town meeting with supporters" and Bundy's "long, loping discourse."

“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.

“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”

Nothing quite like a lecture on the dangers of too much government subsidy from a deadbeat rancher who's a million dollars behind in his grazing fee payments. (Media Matters has the video of Bundy delivering his remarks.)

His big party last Friday night with more than a thousand people, some choosing to proudly wear their "domestic terrorist" badges was no doubt the peak of his 15 minutes, after we which he did not have the good sense to go out on a high note.

So by all means, let's hear more about what this fellow has to say, about how he repudiates the notion of a federal government in its entirety, even as he's happy to wave its flag and sing its anthem and run his cattle on its land. Maybe Mel Gibson can give him some blue face paint for a screen test for "Freedom!"

Rand Paul's support went a bit wobbly after the "Negro" quote went viral, and even Fox News' Greta Van Susteren made a plain repudiation. Hannity?

While we're talking about the history of the 1800s, Northern Arizona University has a nice site about the environmental history of the Colorado Plateau, including some detail about the Arizona Strip, where Mount Trumbull (a.k.a. "Bundyville") was established and then dried up. Here's how the family claims from before the BLM came in to being:

"Within a short time, a variety of Anglo settlers came to the strip, claiming land and establishing ranches. Conflict with native peoples was inevitable, as the Anglos quickly laid claim to the best water and vegetation sources. Disputes between settlers and the Navajo, Paiute and Ute culminated in the Black Hawk Navajo Wars of 1866-1869. By 1870, native resistance had been largely quelled by Mormon paramilitary action, the "Treaty of Mount Trumbull" and the establishment of several Paiute reservations."

23.April.2014 Permanent URL to this day's entry

This has gotten way out of control Permalink to this item

To say that Sean Hannity can't take a joke would belabor the obvious, as would saying that he can't recognize that he and his "news" network are a (very bad) joke.

His contribution to the Bundy circus was to criticize the lack of "proportionality" of the government's response to decades of theft and abuse, and to suggest that the government should "go to court" and "get an injunction." So there's no more pushing and shoving of women and children (who were put out front for publicity purposes) and "mass graves for cattle."

It does seem as if Hannity is a spokesperson for Fell Off a Truck Mart. Thanks to Dok Zoom and HappyNiceTimePeople for offering all 11 minutes of Sean's rather sad rebuttal to his being lampooned, but the guy is too insufferable. I couldn't get past 4 minutes in.

Maybe it's just a personal problem with my attention span, though. I'm sure to enjoy the next 4 minute treatment Jon Stewart provides in response to Hannity's self-righteous nonsense.

Less enjoyable will be the next (and next, and next) publicity stunt put on by cowboys who think "public land" and "freedom" add up to "stuff that's free for the taking," like the people who plan to "petition the government for a redress of grievances" with a 4th of July dredging party on the Salmon River.

(Don't miss the comments from "notrich" under that about how dredging is all about tidying up our river beds. It's like a vacuum cleaner, don't you know.)

Earth Day #45 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Who woulda thunk it? Permalink to this item

Word out of Clark County that ol' Cliven Bundy is kind of a liar as well as an anti-hero. KLAS-TV in Las Vegas is reporting that the property records don't go way back to 1877, but rather start when they bought the ranch in 1948, two years after the BLM and Cliven were born.

Not that the Cuckold Militia is going to believe anything the MSM throws out that questions their cause of the day, but the abbreviated look at Bundy's family history doesn't tell quite the same story as Cliven's been making up.

Deactivist judges Permalink to this item

Rainy Earth Day tulips in our yard

Linda Greenhouse closes her op-ed about the SCOTUS and its recent second act of gutting campaign finance regulation rather more generously than any of her argument would support. As she notes, Chief Justice Roberts "figures to be with us a good deal longer than campaign finance laws. Deregulating campaign finance is clearly part of his long-term project."

Political corruption having been conveniently downsized to only the most specific of quid pro quo bribery, wholesale in Citizens United, and now at the retail level in McCutcheon, happy day, it has virtually vanished, and free moneyspeech can rain down like moneywater.

The notion that "disclosure of contributions minimizes the potential for abuse of the campaign finance system" is about as ludicrous as the notion that we have a system of disclosure of contributions.

Roberts is driving the "engine of deregulation" at no matter what cost, substituting corporations for people, and money for speech, and calling it all good.

Update: Retired Justice John Paul Stevens had a few words about Roberts and McCutcheon too. In contrast to Roberts' stirring opening about "the right to participate in electing our political leaders," "the opinion is all about a case where the issue was electing somebody else’s representatives," Stevens said. As was Citizens United, about which Stevens wrote:

“Essentially, five justices were unhappy with the limited nature of the case before us, so they changed the case to give themselves an opportunity to change the law.”

Inattention? There's an app for that Permalink to this item

Mr. X. knows he should check his credit card transactions regularly, but it's so boring! So... he started using BillGuard to review transactions every couple of days. You have to share your credentials with this third party, but not to worry: BillGuard uses a fourth party, Yodlee, to verify. (What could possibly go wrong, right?)

Alternately, one could look at one's statement every month or so.

21.April.2014 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Through the looking glass Permalink to this item

There has to be a lot of disappointment that the scene in Bunkerville ended with a BLM whimper instead of a milita bang. Ed Komenda's look at the world through militia eyes is some pretty wild stuff, every bit the "gritty Western novel," unfinished thought it may be, with delusion dripping as thick as tar sands.

There’s Dale Potter, a militia organizer with the North Dakota Defense Force. A wiry man sporting camo fatigues with a Midwestern drawl and ponytail, he quit his job as a commercial truck driver to descend on the Bundy ranch. The 39-year-old self-proclaimed patriot said he plans to stay in Bunkerville as long as it takes for the BLM to give up for good.

“We’re all here for the long haul, if the BLM wants to drag this out six months, 12 months, two years,” he said. "If they want to end it tomorrow, we’re here until the population feels safe enough for us to leave.”

Not to put too fine a point on it, a couple paragraphs down there's the guy who's sure the BLM would have already taken the Bundys out had it not been for the armed patriots coming to their aid.

“I know what happened at Waco. I know what happened at Ruby Ridge. I know what happened at all the other false flag murder events,” [32-year old Oath Keeper Alex] Bieniecki said. “I know that if we weren’t here, they’d probably already be dead.”

While the NSA may have gone overboard on spying on the American public, count me among "the population" hoping my tax dollars are at work keeping close track of these invasive weeds. The sidebar has includes "four ways the government made it worse," but they can make amends: the desert of southern Nevada may actually be a good place to keep the Oath Keepers, Operation Mutual Aid, Three Percenter Club and 9-12 Project out of trouble this summer.

Easter Permanent URL to this day's entry

Anti-Otter, because Obama Permalink to this item

The Fulcher campaign team pulled out the stops for their satiric "President Obama Rubber Stamp Survey," there being no greater epithet for Idaho's Republicans than "because Obama." The idea came to them after Otter refused to accept the whole state party platform as-is, Tea Party lock, stock and barrel included.

Lead with your strongest suit, right?

"Will you put in place and ensure the continuing operation of the State-run, federal health exchange?" which of course Otter (and oh right, the Idaho Legislature) has done to date.

Second best, all they can do is imply that the Governor might agree to expand Medicaid; he's been resisting action so far. While we're waiting, Fulcher's team can at least tar the very idea as "increas[ing] Idaho's dependence on the federal government for healthcare, instead of exploring private healthcare alternatives." Never mind the thousands of people who can't afford healthcare insurance, let alone healthcare.

Third, they're coming after that program Fulcher was for before he decided to be against it, Common Core, aka "federal control of education"!

Fourth, the Governor has failed to "join states like Utah in a lawsuit to responsibly manage Idaho lands," aka ignore the U.S. and state constitutions in a bid for more federal handouts. (It's apparently not a handout when it's free real estate.)

Fifth, government agencies! EPA, BLM, and ETC. "Unfettered access throughout Idaho, despite worries from farmers, ranchers, dredgers, and others over control of water and other concerns." The Governor should be... guarding the borders and repelling the invaders? Let us rally round the dredgers, those paragons of Idaho virtue.

Sixth, that bit of embarrassment over the Land Board buying up private companies like storage units, so state government can compete unfairly against small businesses. Last and least:

"Rebrand 'Project 60' to represent the goal of increasing federal dependency from 36% to 60%, have the federal government provide 60 cents out of every dollar of Idaho's budget."

Not because the Project 60 to build communities, improve the state economy, bring in new companies and promote Idaho goods and trade has anything to do with the all-consuming Tea Party crusade of Idaho v. U.S.A., but just because that's all the Fulcher team seems to have.

19.April.2014 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Give me land, lots of land, under starry skies above Permalink to this item

A couple of choice comments under the Salt Lake Tribune article about closed-door meetings of a gaggle of political leaders from nine states, to talk about the the latest instantiation of the Sagebrush Rebellion:

"don't know about the other states, but there is absolutely no doubt that the Utah bureaucrats are incapable of effectively managing Utah's wild lands for the benefit of future generations."

"Secret meetings held without the public and without the press on Friday afternoon to discuss giving public lands to donors, oil companies and developers.. Otherwise a normal Friday afternoon at the Utah Capitol."

I was sorry to see Idaho's Speaker of the House, Scott Bedke featured among the partygoers. He seemed more sensible than this. That first comment was directed in reponse to Bedke's observation that "it’s time the states in the West come of age. We’re every bit as capable of managing the lands in our boundaries as the states east of Colorado."

Utah passed a law that said their state University should study this issue. Idaho and four other states have task forces on the job.

Bundy fever taints the coverage, at least, "just a symptom of a much larger problem," said Utah's House Speaker. Not enough free stuff! Give us all that land, we want to graze and log and drill baby drill!

There is the pesky Enabling Act in which the U.S. Congress set the terms of Utah's surrender pre-emptively:

"[T]he people inhabiting said proposed State do agree and declare that they forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within the boundaries thereof; and to all lands lying within said limits owned or held by any Indian or Indian tribes..."

That same verbiage can be found in Idaho's Constitution as well. (H/t to Joel Kennedy for the references.)

Which I guess is why there needed to be a meeting: how do we get around those pesky constitutional thingies?

Thanks for asking Permalink to this item

Organizing for Action, a.k.a. barackobama.com, wanted me to fill out a little survey, asking How did it go? (about you-know-what). In spite of my dislike of push polls and the like, I gave it a look, just in case it offered the chance to point out some of the holes in the whole business of healthcare insurance reform as realized to date. As if someone on the other end were listening, rather than just aggregating email addresses for endless fundraising pitches.

I see that it casually and persistently conflates health care with healthcare insurance. For example, did I get enrolled in a health care plan?

There are no fill-in-the-blanks, and all of the multiple choice and "choose one" answers begged for qualification. It's about healthcare.gov, mostly, and I didn't go that route, for one thing. If I say I got enrolled "over the phone," or in March, I'm sure they'll get the wrong idea.

How did I feel about health care [insurance] reform before getting enrolled, and how do I feel about it now? The same way Mahatma Gandhi felt about Western civilization: I think it would be a good idea.

17.April.2014 Permanent URL to this day's entry

The hell? Permalink to this item

Unknown name Unknown number calls me up and wants to know if I consider myself a Republican, a Democrat, or an independent. I said "I don't discuss that with strangers over the telephone." (Did I really say "telephone" instead of "phone"? I hope so.)

I should've got all indignant and stuff and said Do You Know Who I Am?! I'll try that next time and let you know how it goes. Or maybe I should play along and see what U-N U-N is up to. "Let's say... Republican. What do you think about that?"

But then he probably wouldn't get the allusion.

Forced arbitration Permalink to this item

Just when you thought your corporate overlords' scrutiny and control over your life couldn't get any more intrusive, this comes along: never mind a Facebook "like," downloaded coupon or a sweepstakes entry, General Mills hath now decreed that "all disputes related to the purchase or use of any General Mills product or service to be resolved through binding arbitration."

Because they say so.

And wouldn't you know a 2011 U.S. Supreme Court ruling from Scalia, Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas and Alito helped enable this "more efficient" means for resolving disputes.

"A growing number of companies have adopted similar policies over the years, especially after a 2011 Supreme Court decision, AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, that paved the way for businesses to bar consumers claiming fraud from joining together in a single arbitration. The decision allowed companies to forbid class-action lawsuits with the use of a standard-form contract requiring that disputes be resolved through the informal mechanism of one-on-one arbitration."

Vincent and Liza Concepcion sued AT&T Mobility over deceptive advertising... which General Mills knows a thing or two about:

"Last year, General Mills paid $8.5 million to settle lawsuits over positive health claims made on the packaging of its Yoplait Yoplus yogurt, saying it did not agree with the plaintiff’s accusations but wanted to end the litigation. In December 2012, it agreed to settle another suit by taking the word 'strawberry' off the packaging label for Strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups, which did not contain strawberries."

Update: Did not see this coming: General Mills says they're changing their terms back to what they were. (H/t NYT.)

Three finger salute, then? Permalink to this item

The laptop I'm using with a fingerprint sensor is so old that its brand has been sold to a Chinese company; news of the iPhone 5s having a fingerprint sensor didn't catch my attention. It seems very clever, and has at times been quicker than the old ctrl-alt-del and type a password, but I never thought much about how secure it was. I'd have to assume all the data was subject to theft along with the hardware, one way or another, if it ever came to that.

Phones go "missing" more often than laptops, I imagine, and cloud-based backup and "remote kill" features are probably more relevant than fingerprint-scan-as-security. Fingerprints have been around a long time after all, and combining a camera phone photo of a latent print from a smartphone screen to make a good-enough fake "finger" turns out to be relatively easy. But that's if one uses the same digit for pointing as for the ID scan, right? The right index comes to mind (for righties), but most of us have 10 choices we could make. And if you used a permutation of three fingers... P(10,3) = 720, and you can at least make the miscreant lab melt a lot more latex before they find a way to poke into your PayPal account.

16.April.2014 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Rally 'round the trespass cattle Permalink to this item

It's not clear if or when Bunkerville will be added to the militia lore that includes Ruby Ridge, Waco, and Oklahoma City but the arresting photo from Jim Urquhart atop The Atlantic's piece on the irony of Cliven Bundy's make-believe understanding of state's rights might give us pause. Some Yahoo from central Idaho ready to shoot someone to defend the right to let cattle run for free, wherever?

Cows on a road

The BLM, for its part, has shown rather remarkable constraint in backing off the enforcement action after two decades of theft and damage and failure to comply with federal court orders. It doesn't seem too much to ask that "all parties in the area remain peaceful and law-abiding," but of course if they had been, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

"Ranching has always been an important part of our nation’s heritage and continues throughout the West on public lands that belong to all Americans. This is a matter of fairness and equity, and we remain disappointed that Cliven Bundy continues to not comply with the same laws that 16,000 public lands ranchers do every year. After 20 years and multiple court orders to remove the trespass cattle, Mr. Bundy owes the American taxpayers in excess of $1 million. The BLM will continue to work to resolve the matter administratively and judicially."

While Bundy's lawlessness and militia crazies make their stir, hundreds of allotments in the state of Nevada, and thousands of grazing permits and leases nationwide are not making the news.

Fact and Myth provides a relatively comprehensive rundown of (and a dozen links for "further reading" about) the stuff and nonsense swirling around Bundy's contemptible dust-up.

Update: the tributes to Bud Purdy on the occasion of his passing at age 96 provide some relief from the excess of Bundy publicity. Joan McCarter's is a good entry point.

Failed purity test Permalink to this item

Idaho's Republican Party platform is notoriously whacky, but a lot of the faithful act as if nothing's wrong. After a preamble affirming its belief in motherhood and apple pie, and the but-of-course statement for smaller government equals fiscal responsibility, it diverges into the highly suspicious.

What does having Social Security "stabilized, diversified, and privatized" mean, exactly, and how in the world would that "allow expansion of individual retirement options"? Lower taxes all around, of course, cut spending and let the good times roll.

Abolish inheritance tax (which Idaho doesn't have). Reform Congress, by repealing the 17th amendment, because... having state legislatures appoint Senators will work wonders? And let's go back to the good old gold and silver standard and abolish the Federal Reserve.

It's an Easy Bake Oven recipe book of half-baked ideas.

Out here were the deer and the antelope play, it's an act of moderation to the point of liberality to actually point any of this out, and backlash from the extremities can be expected for our Governor and one Congressman having the temerity to refuse to checkbox the whole set. Governor "Butch" says that neither checking the boxes nor "a brief statement cannot fully encompass my positions on these issues." Congressman Simpson said it's the "nuance that is inherent in the legislative process," don't you know.

15.April.2014 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Shoveling while black Permalink to this item

It would not surprise me to find out the suburban village I grew up in has an ordinance prohibiting door-to-door solicitation, and I've reached the ripe old age where I like the idea of a "NO SOLICITORS" sign and can imagine saying "hey you kids, get off my lawn." I can not imagine having a policeman see me shoveling my driveway (or my neighbor's driveway) and ask me "So, you trying to make a few extra bucks, shoveling people’s driveways around here?"

I suspect Doug Glanville worked his way through more indignation than I felt reading his account of having that happen to him before arriving at the graciousness of a possible teachable moment.

Tacks day Permalink to this item

snippet

Regardless of whether you agree with Robert Reich's answer to the question "Is our tax system fair?" you can be entertained by the artistic talent of Jacob Kornbluth, Rick Symonds and Abby Van Muijen. The proximate goal is "petition" signatures... and what's the petition, exactly?

"It's time for higher taxes on the super-rich to pay for what America needs."

at least. Is there more? Can I see before I click-sign? You'd think the full information would disclose that, but oh say I can't see.

"Paul Ryan's new budget doesn't just slice Medicare, education and food stamps; it also lowers the top federal tax rate to 25%."

Among the facts I did not know off the top of my head is that state and local tax rates account for 40% of all government revenues. They're particularly regressive, amounting to 11% of the income of the poorest 20%, and only 5.6% of the income of the richest fifth.

What could possibly go wrong? Permalink to this item

William J. Broad, for the New York Times last month: Billionaires With Big Ideas Are Privatizing American Science.

“For better or worse,” said Steven A. Edwards, a policy analyst at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, “the practice of science in the 21st century is becoming shaped less by national priorities or by peer-review groups and more by the particular preferences of individuals with huge amounts of money.”

The Allen Institute for Brain Science, started with a $half bil from Microsoftie Paul G. Allen sounds like a perfectly wonderful thing. Similarly, the Ellison Medical Foundation with Larry's $half bil spinup sounds more worthy than a yacht race or tennis tournament. It's hard not to like Bill Gates a lot more than I used to after he's put $ten billion into global public health.

It adds up to better funding and possibly better effectiveness than the "traditional" world of government-sponsored research, alphabet soup agencies with their "panels of experts pore over grant applications to decide which ones get financed, weighing such factors as intellectual merit and social value."

"By contrast, the new science philanthropy is personal, antibureaucratic, inspirational."

The father of fracking has chipped in for "particle physics, sustainable development and astronomy," if not water quality and environmental science. The National Institutes of Health are awarding fewer grants and cutting programs, never mind the history of backing reasearch that led to 100 Nobel Prizes. David Koch's interested in food allergies, medical research and prostate cancer, after he got that.

"Admirers of the new patrons — and the patrons themselves — say that, over the decades, the surge in donations will probably result in economic growth that helps the United States fend off global challengers. The private gifts, they emphasize, will become especially important if Washington funding continues its downward spiral."

Instigated by some of those same billionaires (yes David, I'm talking to you) who are pumping their wealth into "social welfare" PACs to make it happen. Think of it as cutting out those pesky bureaucratic middlemen and women; it would be cheaper to have billionaires run big science directly rather than have to launder their contributions through politicians, wouldn't it?

We just need one of those workshops or dating games to fine-tune the elevator pitch for some funding to deal with unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution threatening the collapse of our industrial civilization and we'll be fine.

My business has fallen and it can't get up Permalink to this item

We went on a little vacation and stopped our paper with the Idaho Statesman's automated phone interface, and the stop went OK and the re-start went OK on Saturday, but Sunday no paper, Monday no paper, and no help from the automation to make that up. The robo-response on Sunday acknowledged my complaint. The robo-response on Monday acknowledge my complaint and said my subscription would be extended.

So that was interesting, why were Sunday and Monday different? I looked at the online account info and saw that it was inadequate (but not as completely inadequate as it used to be) and didn't show an adjustment for our hiatus, let alone the two-day outage. So I wrote a little email to circulation, kind of expecting a perfunctory apology and make-up of some sort. But no. "Regretfully" their economic situation has required some changes in their business model.

They've noticed that "cable companies, phone services, magazines and most subscription services like Netflix and internet access don't provide credit for short term vacations," and so why can't they? They stopped doing it as of May last year (about the same time they raised their price, I think). It's a "growing practice within our industry" don't you know.

"We are a 24-7 newsroom. From reporter to delivery we have a substantial investment in generating the news every single day. This news is available on many platforms including mobile digital access while you are on vacation.

"Subscribers can still choose to donate the vacation proceeds to Newspapers In Education, tip your carrier, or our local charity program, or you can have the papers saved and delivered on your return."

Let's just say that boilerplate response was not timely, and I'm not currently in a mood to tip my carrier, or be otherwise charitable. The carrier did manage to find our house today, thus staving off the end of our subscription for a little while longer.

"We want to keep billing you whether or not we provide the service you've subscribed to" does not actually seem like a viable business plan, does it?

14.April.2014 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Excessive postcard campaign Permalink to this item

giant Simpson postcard excerpt

Today's is a full 8½x12"; that's right, they went the extra inch to spell it out in nice, large font, with footnotes. Number 1, on the obverse is to DES v. Garcia in Ada County Magistrate Court, 7/3/13, which I wasn't able to find from a the court's website. But Simpson for Congress is paying for bryansmithrecord.com in addition to giant postcards, and you can go fetch cool stuff like a spreadsheet of "all cases" of Medical Recovery Services LLC and Diversified Equity Systems LLC, with no fewer than 10,227 rows. That's a lot of legal enterprise.

It's like a bad joke: who do you want to represent you in Congress, a dentist or a debt collecting lawyer?

Not that I'm pro-Simpson, but I can still be impressed at how he's turning his sizeable campaign warchest into a barrage of negative advertising about an opponent who deserves some of it, at least. And it's making checking the mail a lot of fun. For more than a month to come!

13.April.2014 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Campaign follies Permalink to this item

Sven Berg's feature for the Sunday Idaho Statesman has all sorts of interesting tidbits about the political neophyte the Club for Growth has stood up to challenge incumbent Congressman Mike Simpson, but I pulled up short on this one:

"Smith, 51, was born in Boise and raised in Nampa. His family traces its roots to the settling of Canyon County. He said the Johnston brothers, three heavily bearded bachelors whose home was a cabin that still stands in Caldwell's Memorial Park, are his ancestors."

You don't say.

Downplaying Smith's business in personal injury lawsuits, we're left to upplay his business as a debt collector, specializing in medical debt. Thousands of cases of people who got sick, ran up medical bills and can't pay... so, hey, let's repeal Obamacare, as we push these people into bankruptcy, right? Countering accusations of aggressive and bullying tactics, Smith plays the old "nothing could be further from the truth" card.

"In fact, what I would tell you is one of the reasons our business has grown is because of how benevolent and cooperative we've been."

That's about as likely as three bachelor ancestors.

But whatever the virtues and faults of the candidates, there are some quaint snapshots illustrating politics in Idaho (and probably a lot of other places):

Fonya Morris' home on Holmes Avenue is one of the few in the city with yard signs promoting Smith or Simpson. Morris said the only reason she has a Smith sign is because the bishop of her LDS ward asked to put one there.

"I told him he could do it. I have no idea who the guy is," Morris said. "I'm not going to vote in this election. I just vote for presidents."

12.April.2014 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Dueling postcards Permalink to this item

We returned home to find our mail included a somewhat overgrown baby bear postcard, a quite sizeable mama bear postcard, and a REALLY big daddy bear postcard for our ID-02 congressional race. The baby was paid for and authorized by Bryan Smith for Congress, Inc., which is to say the Club for Growth challenger to the sitting moderate Republican, Rep. Mike Simpson. He is (and they are) for "Repeal Obamacare entirely," which yeah, Simpson voted for 4 dozen times already. He and they are for a "permanent ban on wasteful earmark spending" and "promote job growth through smaller government."

Mr. and Mrs. Smith

It's actually mostly calm and positive and sure, there's the Brigham Young University wink and nudge, and a nice view of the candidate with ripe wheat in the background, because he's... well, a lawyer. There is the obligatory family picture, showing that after being married 30 years you start to look like your spouse.

Big mama postcard emphasizes that Bryan Smith's stock in trade is not just being a lawyer, but a personal injury lawyer, OMG. He's filed over 10,000 lawsuits? Wow, that's a lot of work. This one is paid for by Simpson for Congress.

Big daddy postcard came from Club for Growth Action, features ugly colors and a really big photo of Nancy Pelosi.

Bunkerville Permalink to this item

Christi Turner's report on the rancher v. BLM dustup for High Country News seems like the calmest and most rational story I've seen, which is not to say it's the most accurate, but who knows?

There is the link to the U.S. District Court order talking about how Bundy was permanently enjoined from grazing his livestock on the Bunkerville Allotment back in 1998, and that uncontested evidence demonstrates his continued violation of the injunction.

The right wing is calling to send in the militia, for a genuninely crazy and inappropriate cause.

Something called The Dana Show claims "The Real Story Behind The Bundy Ranch Harassment" and stuff about the tortoise, which seems sort of beside the point. But supposedly the real reason is that the BLM "want[s] his land" which can't be quite right, mostly because it's not his land, this land is OUR land, and old Cliven and his beeves have been freeloading.

But hey, Harry Reid. Probably some Nancy Pelosi in there, too.

Judging by our state's response to wolves mutliplying, the Idaho solution would have been to shoot cows from helicopters, but now the latest news is that the BLM has backed down, because the situation was overly dense. There was the wife saying "people are getting tired of the federal government having unlimited power," and the Operation Mutual Aid gearing up, "just in case things got out of hand again." Because nothing keeps a confrontation with law enforcement in hand like a national militia.

11.April.2014 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Sagebrush rebellion redux Permalink to this item

Don't tread on me may be going to a new level, thanks to a Nevada rancher who sees 600,000 acres of federal land as his "birthright" by virtue of having run his cows on them for lo these last two decades without paying even the sub-market grazing fees the feds charge.

The tabloid view from the UK is strange and wonderful and maybe the same as what Fox News and the Washington Times is emitting, replete with (imagined) snipers and (black, I assume) helicopters, 75 miles outside Las Vegas, and a call to arms. "[Cliven] Bundy said he doesn't recognize federal authority on land that he says belongs to the state of Nevada." He's got "preemptive rights" don't you know.

For real? Sure as shootin'? There are plenty of "state's rights" wingnuts north of the Idaho/Nevada border, and some of us are wondering how many are ready to lock and load and drive south to start the revolution.

"Bundy estimates the unpaid fees total about $300,000. He notes that his Mormon family's 19th century melon farm in the Virgin River bottomland and ranch operation in surrounding areas predates creation of the federal Bureau of Land Management in 1946."

Yes, and there were some people living there before it became the United States of America (let alone Nevada), but they don't get to run their cows for free any more either.

You can follow the story on Fox News, I'm sure, and on the Bundy ranch blog. Or the Southern Poverty Law Center's Hatewatch blog. If you can believe CNN, all 900 of the guy's cows will not add up to the $1 million+ he owes.

Handed down from on high Permalink to this item

You don't need God to have Commandments. Penn Jillette demonstrated, thoughtfully, way back in October, 2011, and with no sleight of hand. For example:

"1. The highest ideals are human intelligence, creativity and love. Respect these above all."

And this:

"3. Say what you mean, even when talking to yourself. (What used to be an oath to (G)od is now quite simply respecting yourself.)"

Bringing it up to the present day, there's this, about a survey by the Integrated Innovation Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, that says 62% of men and women aged 18 to 34 "talk to God." How many of them does God talk to? It doesn't say, and I couldn't track down the actual III at CMU study.

7.April.2014 Permanent URL to this day's entry

In a nutshell Permalink to this item

Where the four Republican candidates for Idaho's next Governor stand on our prison system encapsulates the problem. C.L. "Butch" Otter owns the faults here at the end of his second term, and he's manned up, slightly.

"It's no secret that my default view of the world generaly favors the market over government actions and private over public management," he wrote. "But facts on the ground can't be ignored..."

That sets him apart, momentarily, from the Republican status quo.

His challenger on the right, Russ Fulcher is more than happy to enumerate Otter's faults in addressing the festering problems. He has no personal responsibility to answer for, as a member of the legislature. "It was generally believed," he writes, "the move could save taxpayers money and protect public safety."

So this would be a good time to discuss that disproven default view, and that contradicted general belief, would it not? Fulcher's bill of particulars is good enough, as far as it goes, and his generic call for reform is the least he could say. Let's do it like other states? Well, that's part of how we came to where we are. Let's do it like Maine and Minnesota, say, rather than like Louisiana and Alabama.

Also-runner Walter Bayes stakes out the theocratic high ground, calling for Bible and less public education, none of that "teach[ing] evolution and sex ed, in direct opposition to the word of God," damn it. Women should know their place, and it jolly well is not in the workplace and competing with men. Wife, and mother, got it?

Perennial candidate Harley Brown rounds out the quartet, in his initimable style. He's the only candidate arguing from his experience as an inmate, so give him credit for that. (His nonviolent, non-drug related felony was "subsequently reduced to a misdemeanor," so he's OK. "I can even run for president. God bless America!")

4.4.2014 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Politics on my doorstep Permalink to this item

Nice young women handing out doorhangers for Mike Simpson, I wondered, but didn't ask her why she was a strong-enough supporter to go door to door for him. Was I going to vote for him? Hell yeah, I said, I'm going to vote. For him? Well, I for sure am not going to vote for the Club for Growth stooge, but I haven't decided which primary I'm going to vote in yet. It depends on where all my vote is needed.

"Are you 'conservative?'" she asked, expecting me to say yes, and while I thought about the answer, tentativley appended another choice, "liberal?" Yes, that's it. Do I support the Tea Party? Ah shoot, that's when I should have said, "what, do I look like I'm crazy?" but she might have said "actually you do" because I hadn't checked my hair before I answered the door, and I've been out riding my bike around on errands today.

She had a small supply of the doorhangers in one hand, and a very small phone with tiny chiclet keys on it in the other, and I said "are you going to put my answers in your little database?" And she smiled and said "yep."

Like Mike Simpson should need a freaking database to know my opinions about anything: I've written him at least half a dozen times in the last year, and his staff pays enough attention to select the boilerplate to use for a reply, at least. Hey, I'm ready to talk, any time, Mike. I'm in the phonebook. And you know my email. Just don't send any robots, I don't talk to them.

Update:
I didn't notice the fine print at the bottom of the doorhanger until much later. It (and I'd guess the woman's time as well) was paid for by the Defending Main Street Superpac, Inc. and not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. Open Secrets reports they've spend $200,000 on Mike Simpson's behalf, out of their $1 million+ from unions, mostly. The plot thickens!

Hang on to your wallet Permalink to this item

Yes, the class war is still on, and it's no mystery who's winning. A long overdue increase to the minimum wage? Can't swing it, some states already have their own and that's good enough for them. Them what's got shall have... tax break extensions, and yes, that trip to the Cayman Islands is "business" wink wink nudge nudge.

Paul Ryan's budget cum campaign slogan looks to whack Medicaid, food stamps and of course the total repeal of the Affordable Care Act because maybe someone misunderstood the last 50 times that chestnut was put forward. Let's have a supply-side party like it's 1984:

"[T]he budget would balance in 2024 only because Mr. Ryan is assuming his cuts would prompt a burst of economic growth to raise tax revenues above what independent economists forecast."

3.April.2014 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Not my family's values Permalink to this item

Russ Fulcher's running for Idaho governor, sort of, but mostly he's running like crazy against the Affordable Care Act. He calls it "Obamacare" because he and the people who surround him think that's a swear word.

He also likes to wear his righteousness on his sleeve. One billboard he's just put up features "Idaho Values" and "Family Values," for example. But this one:

Image of Fulcher's billboard, used in his campaign publicity

has nothing positive about it. NO! to affordable healthcare insurance for the people of Idaho and NO! to Butch Otter for his roll in promoting an Idaho healthcare insurance exchange, rather than just accepting the federal exchange. (It's not that Fulcher wanted the federal exchange either, he just wanted our state government to say NO! because see how well that's been working for the U.S. House of Representatives or something.

But today's question is not about the Commandment that says "Thou Shalt Disdain Ceasar" but rather the one that says Thou Shalt Not Steal.

Fulcher's billboard is not for purposes of comment and criticism (as my use of his image is here), but for his self-promotional purposes in his attempt to win elected office. He and his campaign staff are too devoid of ideas of their own to come up with an attractive logo, so they're stealing Obama's, and hoping it will work to bring more people to his cause.

Dishonest, ethically wanting and stupid; Fulcher's opening drive-by salvo hits trifecta of antithetical "Idaho values."

April Fools Permanent URL to this day's entry

Some stubborn facts Permalink to this item

NYT graphic

Ten key questions—and answers—on health care enrollment on New York Times interactive is bite-sized and interesting. (It's just a ten-item web presentation, but "interactive" to open one at a time if you look at it with a small enough screen.) A nice line graph shows "how many people enrolled" without that deranged bent that helped Fox News make the viral graphic rounds in recent days. Below expectations, yes, but trailing due to the technical problems in the rollout more than any other factor. The difference may never be made up this year (or it may be), but it's not material.

Then "which states fared best," combining whether states had their own exchange or used the federal one, the percent of the market for private insurance that went through an exchange, and the party of the state's governor. Not that that should matter, really, but it does. Here in Idaho, we have a fulminating Tea Party opponent for our current Republican governor who wants to make the latter's enabling behavior for anything related to the Affordable Care Act the centerpiece of his campaign. Russ Fulcher's kind of people have no problem with making stuff up, I gather, and his errant notion that "Idaho become the only Republican-controlled state in the country to implement the president's health care law" pales in comparison to some of his other foolishness.

Look no further than 8th place Michigan, two points short of Idaho's 5th-place 22% enrollment for another Republican-controlled state that's not only "implementing" the federal law, but doing it pretty well. Fulcher would apparently prefer us to be in the sub-10% laggards, bringing up the rear with the Dakotas and Oklahoma. In Tea Party bizarro world, it's better to have fewer people get health insurance, because Obama.

Combinations and permutations Permalink to this item

First of all, somebody made up the name Crittercism which I think is brilliant. (And, Twittercism? Came and went years ago already.) Second of all, the privately held company issued a report last week "that claims to monitor performance on thousands of mobile applications inside one billion phones." Third of all, one can count up 2,582 phone models, 691 carriers, and 106 versions of operating systems, which would amount to 189 million combinations if they all worked together, which of course they do not. Quentin Hardy deemed this "100 million possible permutations of how a signal might be processed" (following Crittercism's error) but phone + carrier + o/s doesn't depend on order, so combinations will do. As for how signals get processed... the "691 carriers" and all the network interconnections they comprise make for a lot more than hundreds of millions of permutations, I'd guess.

All we know for sure is that most everything routes by an NSA tap, sooner or later.

But so much of the traffic must be mundane and uninteresting, don't you think? It's of interest to marketing and "service providers," though:

"Crittercism says that 46% of apps rely on six or more different cloud services, like Facebook’s login system, ad placement businesses, or Amazon Web Services, to function. 3% draw off more than 20 different cloud services to deliver, say, that music app or that mobile game."

Hobie Cat Permalink to this item

The NYT obit for Hobie Alter informed me first of all that Hobie was a real "cat." I hadn't thought to wonder about the boat's name, even though it was familiar (if not ubiquitous) on Lake Mendota, where my "professional" sailing career started. That was in Tech dinghies, suitably enough for the collegiate setting, and when the first Windsurfers were flopping around in the lake. I've sailed on Cats a couple times, but nothing as exciting as "leaping over a breaker in the Southern California surf," nor even to the point of "skittering over the surface" or "skimming the waves, not unlike a surfboard."

Those seem somewhat curious descriptions from the point of view of boardsailing, much more literally skittering and skimming than those (comparatively) big boats do. I'm sure I just didn't get out on a windy enough day, or find any of the "scene" described in Hobie's interesting sendoff.

“It was so superfun to sail that it became the largest multihull class in the world, with its own lifestyle and culture,” Steve Pezman, the publisher of Surfer’s Journal, said in an interview in 2011. “Not only did they race the boats, thousands of people would go to the lake and party.”

Pete Melvin, a multihull designer and top America’s Cup catamaran designer, said in an interview on Monday that he sailed in Hobie Cat events in Florida as a teenager. “It was more of a cultural get-together with a different feel to the yacht club scene,” he said.

He added that it was “like going to a rock concert instead of a regatta.”

Also did not know Hobie "became known inside the sport as the Henry Ford of surfboard manufacturing," that Hobie was the number one surfboard brand in the world, or that he and his sons have a still-going "multimillion-dollar sports empire." The company's website has a lovely obituary for him too.

"In discussing the future with friends as a young man Hobie declared that he wanted to make a living without having to wear hard-soled shoes or work east of California’s Pacific Coast Highway."

raveling

Tom von Alten
ISSN 1534-0007