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Cover image of 'Devil's Bargain'

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10.Dec.2017 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Dissolution Permalink to this item

Last week's op-ed from Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein: How the Republicans Broke Congress:

"In the past three days, Republican leaders in the Senate scrambled to corral votes for a tax bill that the Joint Committee on Taxation said would add $1 trillion to the deficit — without holding any meaningful committee hearings. Worse, Republican leaders have been blunt about their motivation: to deliver on their promises to wealthy donors, and down the road, to use the leverage of huge deficits to cut and privatize Medicare and Social Security."

It's a short update to the book they published in 2006, The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track.

"What is astounding, and still largely unappreciated, is the unexpected and rapid nature of the decline in American national politics, and how one-sided its cause. If in 2006 one could cast aspersions on both parties, over the past decade it has become clear that it is the Republican Party — as an institution, as a movement, as a collection of politicians — that has done unique, extensive and possibly irreparable damage to the American political system. ...

"First, beginning in the 1990s, the Republicans strategically demonized Congress and government more broadly and flouted the norms of lawmaking, fueling a significant decline of trust in government that began well before the financial collapse in 2008, though it has sped up since.

That would be Newt Gingrich's legacy.

"Second (during Obama's administration), we saw a deliberate Republican strategy to oppose all of his initiatives and frame his attempts to compromise as weak or inauthentic. The Senate under the majority leader Mitch McConnell weaponized the filibuster to obstruct legislation, block judges and upend the policy process. ..."

"Third, we have seen the impact of significant changes in the news media, which had a far greater importance on the right than on the left. ..."

To what end? The acceleration of this process of ideological and moral dissolution.

"The Republican Party is now rationalizing and enabling Mr. Trump’s autocratic, kleptocratic, dangerous and downright embarrassing behavior in hopes of salvaging key elements of its ideological agenda: cutting taxes for the wealthy (as part of possibly the worst tax bill in American history), hobbling the regulatory regime, gutting core government functions and repealing Obamacare without any reasonable plan to replace it."

Not enough room to include the "how to get it back on track" part of the story in the opinion section. Guess we'll have to look at that old book.

9.Dec.2017 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Asymmetrical warfare Permalink to this item

Paul Krugman: "[T]he Republican Party has become an extremist institution with little respect for traditional norms of any kind." Can I get a little fact-checking with that?

In between the cat videos, family photos, click-bait and political organizing, Facebook is apparently working on doing some reality assessment, and in order to appear fair and balanced, is there some, uh, right wing opinion mill that could be included? The Weekly Standard, maybe.

It sounds like the arbiter of reality you hadn't heard of before today, the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) at the Poynter Institute, had to come up with some affirmative action to help the Standard qualify, "based on when The Weekly Standard started publishing distinct fact checks, which was more than three months ago."

Three months is quite the storied history. As compared to, say, having Mark Hemingway long pointing out (with a link to his 2011 opinion, citing his own personal incredulity), that PolitiFact is "objectively biased."

"Surveys done by the University of Minnesota and George Mason University have shown that the supposedly impartial 'fact checking' news organization rates Republican claims as false three times as often as Democratic claims and twice as much, respectively."

Digging up the 2013 press release for the GMU Center for Media and Public Affairs "study," sure enough, that's what they found. They didn't take the trouble to determine the veracity of what was being assessed, however. Dr. Krugman:

"Notice the implicit assumption here – namely, that impartial fact-checking would find an equal number of false claims from each party. But what if – bear with me a minute – Republicans actually make more false claims than Democrats?"

Ad in 1933 Sunset magazine

If they were, perhaps, "deeply committed to the proposition that tax cuts pay for themselves," for example. Cooking up a $1.5 trillion tax cut bonanza and justifying with sincere self-congratulation that it "will produce growth not seen in generations, giving Americans access to higher wages, greater job opportunities and a more vibrant economy, all of which will result in greater dynamic revenue generation to reduce the deficit and improve our nation’s fiscal standing."

Underneath a spinning counter of the U.S. National Debt, no less.

Poynter's latest Week in Fact-Checking drops this bombshell: "There's fake news (and fact-checking) on both sides of the aisle." In its headline, anyway, over a fast-paced mash-up of links pointing every which-way, including to their own "statement" about giving the Weekly Standard its imprimatur, image-captured in a tweet, what the hell?

Is there a "both sides of the aisle" assessment in the 3 dozen disparate links? I'm not seeing it. But let's give Poynter's IFCN and their rambling blog/ger a gentleman's C for effort, maybe.

It would be really useful if a credible Institute would make an objective measurement of the frequency of false claims, applied with the mid-century engineering innovation of Failure Mode and Effects Analysis to give emphasis to false claims with the most risk of damage.

They might start with a background read-through of the Union of Concerned Scientists' Disinformation Playbook, describing "how business interests deceive, misinform, and buy influence at the expense of public health and safety," followed by a review of ExxonMobil's funding for climate science denial, in the storied tradition of corporate profit-making in disregard for public welfare.

2015 photo, Mexican packaging

“Doubt is our product,” a tobacco executive famously said, "since it is the best means of competing with the 'body of fact' that exists in the minds of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy."

After millions are killed, and decades of court battles, perhaps both Republicans and Democrats will agree on the facts, and coerce the merchants of death to spell it out for everyone to see:

Smoking kills, on average, 1,200 Americans. EVERY DAY.

Secondhand smoke kills over 38,000 Americans each year.

More people die every year from smoking than murder, AIDS, suicide, drugs, car crashes, and alcohol, combined.

Smoking is highly addictive. When you smoke, the nicotine in cigarettes changes your brain; that's why quitting is so hard. Cigarette companies intentionally designed cigarettes with enough nicotine to create and sustain addiction.

With those basic facts established, we can go back and look at the tobacco industry's political contributions over the last three decades and see if perhaps there might be a political slant in the millions of dollars in campaign contributions. Not that millions of dollars in campaign contributions might cause you to shade the truth a little.

Datagraphic from OpenSecrets.org

Update: In rounding up the usual suspect sources for this blog post, I came across an item in Dawn, a news outlet in Pakistan, last May. I remember adding that to my blogroll news section back in the day when sources around the world coming available on the World Wide Web seemed rather magical. It seems they're reliving the history we've been through with the tobacco industry: ‘Most politicians support tobacco industry’

8.Dec.2017 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Good news / bad news Permalink to this item

Global regulators agree on rules to prevent financial crises, that's good! "Just as the United States under President [redacted] begins relaxing constraints on risky behavior by banks," not so good.

Anyone who watched the crafting of the latest tax "reform" in Congress can appreciate that "years of grindingly detailed work" by the "Group of Central Bank Governors and Heads of Supervision" from 26 countries are not the new, new thing. Still, it does say in the story that the U.S. agreed to the rules. Which is not the same as incorporating them into U.S. law. Last month's story reported:

"The [U.S. banking] regulator, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which oversees the nation’s biggest banks, has made it easier for Wall Street to offer high-interest, payday-style loans. It has softened a policy for punishing banks suspected of discriminatory lending. And it has clashed with another federal regulator that pushed to give consumers greater power to sue financial institutions."

And this is convenient:

"The shift, detailed in government memos and interviews with current and former regulators, is unfolding without congressional action or a rule-making process. It is happening instead through directives issued at the stroke of a pen by the agency’s interim leader, Keith A. Noreika, who — like the nominee to fill the post going forward — has deep connections to the industry."

We are draining some swamp now, eh.

7.Dec.2017 Permanent URL to this day's entry

In other collapse of civilization news Permalink to this item

News from upper right Idaho, the Kootenai County commissioners have stood up against one world government, and just said no to the next edition of the International Building Code for new residential and commercial construction, because, FREEDOM.

At least outside incorporated city limits, denizens of KootCo will be free to "voluntarily" comply, or not. “Let people make their own decisions,” said commission Marc Eberlein. What could possibly go wrong? Building codes are just a “protection racket for special interest groups.”

The arguments for unfettered construction include (not making this up) that someone else in Idaho can do it, so why not us? and "having the government involved in building your home does not automatically mean peace of mind." Which ok, was someone in an online comment talking about some houses in the Boise foothills on unstable ground. Since building codes did not save them, why should we have building codes?

It doesn't have to make sense. That applies in spades to what one Russell Mclain added at the top of the comments. (For what it's worth, I think he's arguing in favor of building codes.) Sic:

"Well this is what they missed the permit does two things it insures that a builder gets payed a judge will see to that and it's a tattle tail to the tax man so in this agenda twenty one based idea existing home owners and city dwellers will pay the loin share of property taxes but the none permitted will still demand eqail services that they don't pay fore some time I just wonder about people"

Don't you just.

Back to our roots Permalink to this item

Tuesday was World Soil Day, who knew? You would have known if you'd heard Monday's episode of 1A, The Ground Beneath Our Feet. I'd heard a snippet, and looked it up on the web to hear the rest.

"Societies that degraded their land over the long run did not last."
David Montgomery

If you haven't heard of "mycorrhizal fungi," you could find out what's up with that. If you have heard of them, of course you're interested, and already know that your life depends on them. It was my second college roommate, come from a southern Idaho farming family who introduced me, now more than 40 years ago, before I took that Soils class at the University of Idaho.

2005 photo

Here's something I didn't know, from Phil Nauta: Endomycorrhizal fungi (a.k.a. arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi or am fungi) are happy to get together with more than 9 out of 10 plant species, while ectomycorrhizal fungi get together with fewer than 1 in 20 plant species, mainly conifers and oaks. I was under the impression that mycorrhizal associations were mostly specific, rather than mostly promiscuous. Another 1 in 20 species are nonmycorrhizal, including the wonderfully polymorphic Brassica olearacea and genera in the Heath family (blueberries, rhododendron, etc.).

The part that caught my ear is 30+ minutes into the 47, when they talk with Jimmy Emmons, a "regenerative farmer" in Oklahoma. He's on land his grandfather homesteaded in 1926, talking about the results from going to no-till, cover crops, and integrating livestock in his operation:

"...to see your soil start to darkening again, the biology coming alive, earthworms—we used to never find them in our soil, now every shovelful, we get six, eight, ten, twelve earthworms... it's a very exciting time for us."

5.Dec.2017 Permanent URL to this day's entry

STOP THIEF! Permalink to this item

The big environmental news this week is the president making his way west of the Mississippi to write off the Antiquities Act protection Obama gave to (85% of) Bears Ears and (half of) the Grand Staircase-Escalante, in favor of oil and gas extraction, uranium mining, logging, what-not.

In a caricature of populism (to say nothing of conservativism), yesterday's speech celebrated the transfer of "control" away from "a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington," and to whom, he did not identify. ("Your citizens," he said, waving his tiny hands in Utah's Capitol.)

Patagonia's image

“Together,” he continued, “we will usher in a bright new future of wonder and wealth.” For a small handful of resource extraction interests that would be advanced over Americans as a whole, the owners of this federal public land.

Our current president could not possibly recognize the true wonder and wealth of Utah's canyonlands, because he could not possibly be bothered to go beyond Salt Lake City and get some red dirt on one of his steamed suits.

The Wilderness Society, Defenders of Wildlife, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the Grand Canyon Trust, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, the Western Watersheds Project, Wildearth Guardians, the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity have joined together to file the first lawsuit in response, led by EarthJustice, providing counsel for eight of the ten plaintiffs.

"In derogation of the Antiquities Act’s text and protective purpose, President Trump has flouted 111 years of conservation history," the plaintiffs write. President Clinton's 1996 protection of 1.7 million acres was counter to "a range of activities—most notably a large coal mine that would have brought industrial-scale development, including roads, heavy equipment, structures, waste pits, degradation of natural springs, and noise to the Kaiparowits Plateau.

"After the Monument’s designation, the Department of the Interior negotiated the repurchase of the coal leases, the mine proposal was abandoned, and the area, with its world-class paleontological resources has been protected ever since. Areas of the Monument with coal deposits have yielded astonishing new dinosaur fossils found nowhere else in the world. ...

The 1906 Antiquities Act "authorizes Presidents to create national monuments; it does not authorize Presidents to abolish them either in whole or in part, as President Trump’s action attempts to do."

It's time for our most generous donation to EarthJustice for their important work on our behalf.

In his opinion published last Friday, Bruce Babbitt, former Governor of Arizona, and Bill Clinton's Secretary of the Interior, quotes Theodore Roosevelt, after his 1903 visit to the Grand Canyon:

“Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it; not a bit. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it. What you can do is to keep it for your children and your children’s children and for all who come after you, as one of the great sights which every American, if he can travel at all, should see.”

4.Dec.2017 Permanent URL to this day's entry

New math tax bill Permalink to this item

The $1.5 trillion tax cut is likely to increase the national debt by two-thirds of the total over the next decade, a nice, round one trillion dollars. This from the party that has practically trademarked railing against deficit spending, go figure. In addition to attempts change the rules, roll out the long-discredited "supply side" justification, and hammer through "tax reform" in head-spinning, record time, without hearings, time for comment, or even time for most of the people voting on the mess to even read it, this: "hours before they were set to vote on the largest tax cut Congress has considered in years, Senate Republicans opened an assault on that scorekeeper, the Joint Committee on Taxation, and its analysis."

Senate Republicans questioned the timing of the analysis’ release on Thursday, and a spokeswoman for the Senate Finance Committee released a statement saying the findings are “curious and deserve further scrutiny.”

Yes, how utterly "curious" that the JCT would release findings about the bill in process (and in steady revision), just before a vote on it.

Heard on the radio this morning someone mentioning "conservative estimates" that imagined the supply side boost would be twice what the JCT came up with, so make the budget busting only half a trillion dollars.

Conservative, you say? Conservative?!

But even that bullshit estimate from conservative stink tanks is not faith enough for the faithful (or gas for the gaslighters):

In the final hours before and after the bill passed, party leaders insisted that the tax plan would produce enough economic growth to pay for themselves with additional tax revenue from growing businesses and higher-paid workers. “I’m totally confident this is a revenue-neutral bill,” Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, told reporters early Saturday morning after the vote. “Actually a revenue producer.”

Update: Paul Waldman collects two telltale quotes from the GOP that speak volumes. First, Sen. Chuck Grassley, of Iowa:

“I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing,” Grassley said, “as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”

Or whether it's rent, car insurance, repairs, child care, doctor bills. All those silly indulgences of the poor. Second, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, on why it's time to tear up the New Deal:

“I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, won’t lift a finger, and expect the federal government to do everything.”

If he has any memory of those humble roots he trotted out the other day, they seem to have vanished in the heat of the passage.

Lessons learned (for the rest of us) Permalink to this item

Rocky Barker styled his latest Letters from the West post as a letter addressed to the president, on the eve of his coming to Utah to throw down the gauntlet against the Antiquities Act.

The letter's named recipient won't have read past the first 140 chars, nor do I imagine Stuart Leavenworth's arresting image, so perfectly expressing the Zeitgeist will make an impression.

It's expected that the Navajo Nation, Ute Indian Tribe, Pueblo of Zuni, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, and Hopi—at least—will fill suit, so we'll see whether the president can do away with the Antiquities Act on a whim.

Trumpapalooza Permalink to this item

Now comes one of the president's personal lawyers (how many are there?) to say that he drafted one of the tweets in the weekend storm, the "sloppy" one about how "I" had to fire former General, National Security Advisor and now current convicted felon Michael Flynn "because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI."

"There was nothing to hide!"

Also, you are not a crook? Speaking of which, Billy Bush got some nice op-ed space in the NY Times yesterday to counter the president's gaslighting retraction of his so-called "locker room talk."

"Of course he said it. And we laughed along, without a single doubt that this was hypothetical hot air from America’s highest-rated bloviator. Along with Donald Trump and me, there were seven other guys present on the bus at the time, and every single one of us assumed we were listening to a crass standup act. He was performing. Surely, we thought, none of this was real.

"We now know better. ..."

Jay Rosen's tweet-take on the legal sword-swallowing act:

Even if we're in a credulous mood and grant that Dowd wrote it, Trump SAID it. If it's not Trump speaking we're in Edgar Bergen territory. https://t.co/eL1P0E4hbs

— Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) December 3, 2017

A helpful comment below that provided a Google images link "for the benefit of those [who] need to look up that reference."

Even though the Old Time Radio Show came and went before I was listening, I recognized the Old Time meme, oddly captured best by black-and-white still photos. (I see we could still listen to the older-than-me shows if we wanted, too.) Just for the record:

My Charlie McCarthy mashup

Update: @KenDilanianNBC explains the legal jeopardy Dowd is dodging for his boss:

"When I saw that tweet, I knew that President Trump or somebody in his camp was going to have to walk it back. Because on its face, it essentially admitted obstruction of justice..."

2.Dec.2017 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Other worlds Permalink to this item

Checking financial news for what was a pretty epic week, the Friday night wrap-up from Barrons.com (behind a paywall, of course) was "Washington Whipsaws the Market." The record high close on Thursday thanks to the "solid Thanksgiving shopping reports" and "progress on tax reform," then whoop, Michael Flynn's guilty cooperation,

causing the Dow to shed 400 points from peak to trough in a matter of minutes. The drop happened so quickly that some opined that humans couldn't have been responsible for the tumble. "No way real traders were moving that fast," says Andrew Brenner, head of international fixed income securities at NatAlliance Securities. "Clearly, it was algorithms taking over."

But by the close on Friday, more optimistic humans had intervened, "ending the week, if not on a high note, then with a sigh of relief." The DJIA up 2.9% on the week, the S&P 500 up 1.5% and Nasdaq a modest party pooper ("rotation" between sectors, don't you know), off 0.6%. Up THREE PERCENT IN A WEEK and all we get is a "sigh of relief," really?

We're in an EIGHT YEAR bull market. "If you weren't watching closely Friday, you might not have even noticed that anything exciting was happening," Ben Levison opines in his wrap-up. We didn't "melt-up," so that's good. Krishna Memani, chief investment officer at OppenheimerFunds agrees. "We're in a good situation. We should fret less and enjoy it more."

Barrons also offered What Investors Can Expect From Tax Reform ("Feature" outside their paywall—and I see paywallnews.com has a copy), some hours before the Senate voted on their trillion dollar dog's breakfast slap-dash rotten sausage. It's all good, investors! Corporate tax rate bonanza. Domestic companies get a big boost, international companies will bring their money home and pay some taxes so they can pass it out to their shareholders, really? Both House and Senate bills offer a 14% repatriation tax rate, damn.

Most of that money, analysts say, will go to paying down debt and benefiting shareholders through additional stock buy-backs and increased dividends, rather than hiring new workers and expanding their business.

A number of executives have said as much in recent months, undercutting the notion advanced by GOP politicians, including President Donald Trump, that corporate tax break would bolster the job market and wages.

"An overwhelming majority of that overseas cash will be repatriated if tax reform is enacted," says Scott Kessler, director of equity research with CFRA, an independent research firm. "The cash has to be domestic if these companies want to do stock buybacks and dividend increases."

Another piece I fetched up, "The GOP tax plan will make filing taxes (only slightly) easier," was deleted by MarketWatch, past its sell-by date. (A lot has changed since Nov. 4! "Simplification" turned out to be not so simple.) But "Related News" headlines give a crazy quilt glimpse of the Zeitgeist:

Anything else we should know about the TAX PLAN? @TitusNation notes there's

On CNN, Senator Lindsey Graham chided the press for treating Trump like “some kind of kook not fit to be president,” which is some serious gaslighting from a man who previously called Trump “crazy,” a “kook” and “unfit for office.” – Michelle Goldberg

Aaaaand, whether or not the president is sane is a legitimately open question.

"By the end of [Wednesday], Trump had been condemned by Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain, to which he responded by going after a different Theresa May on Twitter, dragging an obscure woman who at the time had six followers into the limelight. In another tweet, he insinuated that the TV host Joe Scarborough killed an intern in 2001, when he was a congressman. This came after news reports informed us that Trump is still a birther and that he no longer admits that the voice on the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape is his own. ...

"There is a debate over whether Trump is unaware of reality or merely indifferent to it. He might be delusional, or he might simply be asserting the power to blithely override truth, which is the ultimate privilege of a despot. But reports from the administration all suggest an increasingly unhinged and chaotic president. ...

"This should be seen as an emergency situation. But now that Republicans are about to get their tax cuts, they appear to have decided that it doesn’t matter whether the president is sane. ...

"The message here is clear: Republicans aren’t going to defy their mad king over anything as mushy and amorphous as democratic norms, rationality or national honor. Indeed, whether Trump is mentally ill or simply unbound, his provocations can serve a purpose for the Republican Party, numbing the country to a tide of less flamboyant outrages. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, for example, appears to have flat-out lied when he said that his agency’s comprehensive analysis shows the Republican tax bill paying for itself through economic growth; according to the Times, no such analysis exists. This should be a scandal, but when an administration lies all the time, it makes a lie like this less shocking."

1.Dec.2017 Permanent URL to this day's entry

On Net Neutrality Permalink to this item

The Federal Communications Commission's express comment filing system invites "brief comments," which I see means "text with no formatting whatsoever." I guess I could've used the Standard Filing interface which invites files as PDF, text, ppt, pptx, docx, xlsx, doc, xls, rtf, ppt, pptx or dwg, max size 25 MB per submission, and at most 5 files to the customer.

But here's what I submitted in the "express" lane for docket No. 17-108, Restoring [sic] Internet Freedom Comments, two weeks ahead the Dec. 14. decision, before having mashed into a single paragraph (and with a bit of emphasis added):

The claim that users of various broadband Internet access service are provided “more than [a] pure transmission path” whenever they access the Internet is based on a conceptual error. Access service IS a transmission path.

There are many useful services at the END of the path. Internet service providers may offer the "capability for generating, acquiring, storing, transforming, processing, retrieving, utilizing, or making available information via telecommunications," but that does not alter the centrality of telecommunication itself, which is by its nature a utility.

More than half of Americans have only one option for a broadband internet provider. "Free market competition" depends on consumer choice. Where there is not sufficient choice, regulation is essential.

The principles of Net Neutrality--no blocking, no throttling, no paid prioritization--are essential.

Paragraph 29 of the FCC's fact sheet claims that "Internet service providers do not appear to offer “telecommunications,” i.e., “the transmission, between or among points specified by the user, of information of the user’s choosing, without change in the form or content of the information as sent and received,” to their users.

This would be shocking news to any such user. It would mean the "internet is down" and online discourse and commerce would be halted. It has nothing to do with the knowledge or ignorance of "the physical location of a server," any more than calling a person or business on a telephone relies on me knowing where that person or business' agent may be.

The economic threat to the engines of innovation that have been built on the open internet is not too much regulation squelching competition. It is that companies with monopoly power will use their control of infrastructure and access to it to stifle competition, and extract monopoly rents from consumers.

Promises from existing companies to act fairly do not provide a reason to eliminate regulation. For those who can and will honor such promises, that's great. For those who will not honor them, we need regulation to ensure fairness.

I urge the FCC to reconsider its apparent plan to roll back net neutrality protections, in favor of enabling monopoly under the cover of "market openness."

Since the Republican-appointed commissioners on the FCC seen determined to act contrary to my urging, I also sent a message to my Congressman and Senators:

I'm writing to you concerning proposed changes to the FCC's 2015 Open Internet Order.

As you know, the FCC is considering Chairman Ajit Pai's proposal to reverse the 2015 order that treats broadband Internet providers as common carriers under Title II of the Telecommunications Act.

Such a decision would give telecommunications companies--many of which already have considerable monopoly power in markets where there is little or not consumer choice for access providers--near complete control over how we use the Internet. Expressions of voluntary compliance are not sufficient; with no enforcement means, monopoly power will be used to extract monopoly rents.

The principles of Net Neutrality--no blocking, no throttling, no paid prioritization--are essential to maintaining the internet as en engine of innovation and commerce, and for ensuring the benefits of a free and open internet to society.

The FCC argument that the myriad of useful services at the END of the telecommunications path makes the internet something other than a telecommunications medium is specious. The open internet is what ENABLES the innovation in services that it connects.

I urge you to defend existing net neutrality protections.

Take a break from politics Permalink to this item

You know it'll be a short break, but doesn't that sound refreshing? The end of the world won't happen today. I promise.

End of October, my ownership of fortboise.org turned sweet 17, and the blog will be old enough to vote next spring. Reading through the headline-free rambling narrative sure takes me back... to our second stay in Palo Alto, the post dot-com bubble froth, the birth of .NET, Dave Winer whining about what-not, and a link to a Business Week article that's long-gone 404 (which annoys me for some reason, but their 404 GIF made me laugh out loud). What, is there no more Business Week? Or is/was it Businessweek, just then starting its decline? Here's the piece on Bloomberg.com, but you have to be a "Professional Service Subscriber" to see more than the first 5 sentences.

Nov. 2017 photo

All that flows back from a look at the top of the blogroll I'm sure no one but the bots pays attention to any more. Actually, one notch down, peterme.com, Peter Merholz's once-upon-a-time blog with the slogan "from the guy who coined the word 'blog.'" His most recent word there was in January when he got a new job at Snagajob, VP of design, which means he must have overseen the use of the image of empty, plain shoes standing in for all the humdrum people you won't hire, and the orange high-tops representing the stand-out "great hourly employee" you will hire.

That's right, it's time for maintance. Should I drop Merholz for non-performance, his claim to fame notwithstanding? (And, is his claim actually valid? Wikipedia points me to Rebecca Blood's contemporary account that says it is. Blood's in the blogroll too, but most recent thing in rebecca's pocket today is dated 28.Feb.2014. Her blogging bona fides are rather awesome, and was once Goth Babe of the Week, but now it sounds like she's busy with more important work, raising a child. She's on Twitter, maybe that's where all the cool kids went.)

You see why my blogroll maintenance never gets very far. If something's flat-out gone, I'll take it off, but I'd hate to lose the roots and branches of the history of the medium.

Update: A waded down the list, M-Z, and removed the fully defunct from the last half of the alphabet, at least. A couple no longer being updated, but with good archives kept in for posterity.

The big lie (Treasury embed edition) Permalink to this item

From Senator Elizabeth Warren's letter to Eric M. Thorson, Inspector General of the Department of the Treasury:

“Either the Treasury Department has used extensive taxpayer funds to conduct economic analyses that it refuses to release because those analyses would contradict the Treasury Secretary’s claims, or Secretary Mnuchin has grossly misled the public about the extent of the Treasury Department’s analysis. I am deeply concerned about either possibility.”

raveling

Tom von Alten
ISSN 1534-0007