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30.Aug.2015 Permanent URL to this day's entry

The downside of Trump Permalink to this item

Jesse Berney: Donald Trump's campaign is built entirely on racism. I missed the "event" of Sen. Jeff Sessions sort-of endorsing Trump. But this:

The virtually all-white Alabama audience raucously cheered every word of anti-immigrant bombast Trump threw out at them like meat to the lions. One man told the New York Times he was hoping Trump would offer a bounty for every undocumented immigrant he murdered on the border.

“Hopefully, he’s going to sit there and say, ‘When I become elected president, what we’re going to do is we’re going to make the border a vacation spot, it’s going to cost you $25 for a permit, and then you get $50 for every confirmed kill,’ ” said Jim Sherota, 53, who works for a landscaping company. “That’d be one nice thing.”

Also, Matt Taibbi noticed that Trump stopped being funny (if you ever though he was being funny) about the time a couple of his "passionate" supporters beat up a homeless guy because "all of these illegals need to be deported."

"Trump is striking a chord with people who are feeling the squeeze in a less secure world and want to blame someone – the government, immigrants, political correctness, 'incompetents,' 'dummies,' Megyn Kelly, whoever – for their problems.

True patriot love in all thy sons command Permalink to this item

Turns out that among the other faults of Canada's prime minister, Stephen Harper seems to lack a sense of humor, and proportion. After a fellow by the name of Tony Turner posted the clever, catchy, choir-backed and quite pointed protest song, "Harperman," the government suspended Turner from his Environment Canada job, as if... he'd "violated the departmental code of values and ethics in that the writing and performing of this song somehow impeded his ability to impartially study migratory birds."

I say, let's all singalong on September 17th. Downloads, rants, lyrics, and much, much more on the Harperman Song Project website.

29.Aug.2015 Permanent URL to this day's entry

It's the economy, silly Permalink to this item

This happened. Trumpeters. Trumpservatives. Sarah Palin in her own echo chamber on One America News Network, interviewing Donald Trump, about his "avant garde" campaign. (That's, uh, from France, isn't it?) "You viewers, he's talking to you," she said, winding up her introduction about how the Donald's heart is in the working class.

Some questions she didn't ask occured to me. For example, given how terrible (you say) our economy's doing, isn't a little embarrassing for you to tout how rich you are? Haven't you profited at the expense of millions of those unemployed people you pretend to speak for?

11 minutes of unbuhlievable video

And what is it with you and escalators? Why would you think having an escalator in the background would be the thing to do? And especially a down escalator? What kind of message does that send?

You do know that while yes, our tax system is complicated, the vast majority of Americans do not spend "tremendous amounts of money on lawyers and accountants," don't you? Unless you mean $29.99 or a hundred bucks for tax software is "tremendous amounts"? But yeah, damn those "hedge fund guys" making a fortune.

Do you know stupid it is to say "you know better than anybody," period, but especially to Sarah Palin?

But she had a question, one that I'd like to see that smarty-pants Megyn Kelly come up with:

"Ah, you know, I wanna talk about the campaign and about that middle class that you're really resonating with, your message about fairness, just..., uhp uh, JOBS being created uh, in a, in a better economy, on the campaign trail, specifically, I know a lot of military folks, and I saw a guy walk behind you, Mr. Trump with an Army t-shirt on and it reminded me, hearing from so many military personnel, every day, personally, it's lately been all about you. It's, uh, a connection there, that I'd like to know more about, the respect that they have, for a "truth talker," as opposed to gettin' punched in the nose the last 7 years under Obama, how is it that you made that connection?"

Also: "Yer seein' some idiots in the press..." That's some major league truth talkin' there.

Last Peach Permalink to this item

It was the first picked
for some good reason I’ve forgotten
A bit undersized, short of ripe, tender
it bruised from its own weight
while its bigger, redder, riper
siblings came into their own
and were eaten.

We didn’t want it to be “crisper”
but that’s where it waited, gently padded
while nature took its course.
This morning, sliced in half, bruises and all,
I divided our existence into Before and After.

Something about poems and fools and trees
and one forgetful squirrel, who we remember
fondly, this morning.

2015 photo of peach petals

27.Aug.2015 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Margin of error Permalink to this item

In the late dog days of summer, mostly there's evidence that polls are getting too much attention, but Nate Cohn spent some time and energy to make the specific case that Donald Trump's polling support is overstated albeit not by enough to make the story more interesting. Some of the Republican candidates' support is understated as well, and there's a helpful sidebar graphic stacking them up by difference in vote share between Republican primary voters and the adult population as a whole. Carly Fiorina is at the top of the stack +3.4% among those really likely to vote. Which is color me red-purple, ironical for the candidate least likely to have voted herself in any previous election.

The differences don't say anything about mindshare; Fiorina "still held no more than 5 percent" of that, and it seems like bigger news that at the bottom of the stack, below Trump, Chris Christie (tied for -1.8 pts) and Ben Carson (-2.5%), there's Jeb Bush, with 3.1% less support from genuine Republican primary voters than adults at large.

The Upshot's "who's winning" interactive, updated as of today, has Bush with three #1s (prediction markets, national endorsements and money raised—$120M and counting, 90% of it by outside groups), and Trump with the other two (Iowa and NH polls).

Remember that an empty barrel makes the loudest noise.

25.Aug.2015 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Bad clown Permalink to this item

The funny thing is, Donald Trump is a little overfed and ugly himself, even before we start talking about the hair. You can buy a beauty pageant, and airtime to opine on others' attractiveness, but you can't buy yourself to beauty.

The Christian Science Monitor wonders if belligerence is the core of Trump's appeal, and it certainly seems to be. Even Frank Luntz is scared. It's reached a point so comical they're talking about superheroes (even though villains provide a richer vein).

"There is something of a cartoon aspect to Trump’s public persona, after all. Specifically, he’s like a cartoon superhero, writes Dartmouth political scientist Brendan Nyhan. Trump promises to wipe away intractable problems with the application of nothing but willpower – an attitude that Professor Nyhan has dubbed the “Green Lantern theory of the presidency.”"

I always liked the Green Lantern, but I think it was because I had green eyes and liked the color more than anything else. GL is kind of a second tier superhero, really. He's no Superman or Batman.

And Trump doesn't even rise to second tier. This story about him having his bodyguards pull Jorge Ramos out of a news conference is about an ugly, pugnacious, self-righteous bully, not a candidate for office. What did Ramos say to get back in, I wonder—something about about suing for assault? But Trump was bragging about his half a $billion lawsuit against Ramos' network—over trying to force them to air the Miss USA pageant. It's too precious to have him hide behind the skirts of "fifty one wonderful young women."

Update: for those of who don't know that much about Ramos (including me and Donald Trump, at least), Christine Mai-Duc fills in some background for the L.A. Times: Trump may have tussled with the wrong media star.

24.Aug.2015 Permanent URL to this day's entry

TANSTAAFL Permalink to this item

One of our local conservatives, who happens to be an Ada County Highway District commissioner, was apparently outraged by (the somewhat sketchy) news that eleven schools in the Nampa school district qualify for federally funded lunch for everyone. Kent Goldthorpe declared upon his Facebook presence that "this is just another of the many reasons NEVER to vote in a school bond."

I suppose he means never to vote "yes," rather than never to vote, and the Nampa school district is in neighboring Canyon County, where super-minorities vote against school bonds pretty regularly, but they still get free lunches, go figure. It's about "usurping parental opportunities to actually teach children important principles." Somehow.

Never mind that federal funding for school lunch programs has pretty much nothing to do with Idaho's (demonstrably broken) system for paying for its constitutionally-mandated general, uniform and thorough system of public, free common schools, or the attempts by local districts to make up the difference, the actual principle that "THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH" is one of thermodynamics, not economics or social policy. We have to work out those complicated social sciences with a deeper understanding than simple physics provides.

What we've come up with is many highway miles removed from Goldthorpe's principle of rugged individual selfishness. (His head might explode if someone told him about free breakfasts, too. That's been going on for 40 years.)

Rev. Marci Glass picks up the question from a religious perspective: sometimes there is a free lunch.

"As Christians, we believe there is, actually, such thing as a free lunch. It’s called GRACE. The free and unearned blessing of God. Every time we scream at others that there is no such thing as a free lunch, we deny grace. Every time we pretend we succeeded in life all by ourselves, without the help and kindness of others along the way, we deny grace. Every time we expect others to do what we have not been able to do ourselves, we deny grace.

"Instead of denying grace, what if we participated in grace?"

22.Aug.2015 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Dear George letter Permalink to this item

Some Republican fundraiser disturbed Friday night's tranquility at our house, an oiled pitch including something about how President Obama refused to work with the Republicans in the Senate, and I interrupted to ask "was it Obama who refused to work with the Senate, or the Senate that refused to work with Obama?" The caller didn't miss a beat, responded with "I understand..." but I wasn't in the mood to continue the conversation, so I did not finish the Turing test to find out where "he" fell on the spectrum of machine / machine-assisted / human.

2002 photo by Tom von Alten

Then this morning, fishing one of those "sent by: Romney for President Inc." emails out of the spam bucket, just because yes, it is interesting (and not so disturbing to domestic tranquility) to see the messaging being employed by Romney's successors. This particular message said it "reflects the opinions and representations of Jeb 2016, Inc., and is not an endorsement by Mitt Romney." Just bought their mailing list, don't you know. And it politely has "click here" links for those who would prefer to not receive future emails from Jeb 2016, Inc., or just to contact them with any questions or concerns.

The subject line was odd: thomas: [Endorsement Missing]. And the sender not one of the Bushes I'm used to hearing from, George P. Bush <>. Where did this "thomas" salutation come from, I wonder?

"It goes without saying that my family is 100% behind my dad this election.

"Since my uncle emailed Thursday, thousands have stepped up to endorse my dad, but your name is still missing.

"thomas, will you join President Bush and add your endorsement with a gift of $50, $25, or $5 for my dad right now?"

Actually, that "100%" part doesn't quite go without saying; JEB!'s mother was rather famously opposed, and it made news a year ago when she shifted as far as "neutral." Has she shifted further then?

Other than that, kind of the same old, same old, but with the slightly bathetic twist of it coming from JEB!'s son, named after the great-grandad who founded the dynasty of Georges and with the "interesting" business history. And a strange second email being "forwarded" to augment the GPB pitch. That one is from (former) President George W. Bush, and it's addressed "Dear George," apparently to his nephew, talking about his brother, George P.'s dad, and asking his nephew, JEB!'s son, to "stand behind him with a gift of $100, $50, or $25."

What's stranger, that JEB!'s son is on the fundraising email list for his dad, or that they're hitting him up for a penny-ante contribution? Or that the message is getting forwarded as if it carried some cachet to enhance the request for $50, $25, or $5?

It's just theater, but still. Not many outfits could put together Kabuki and hall-of-mirrors like this.

Update: A friend responded to my Facebook teaser to this blog post to say he was "no fan of Jeb Bush, but do you think Clinton or Sanders fundraising is any different?" An edited version of my response seemed worth including here.

There are differences between candidates and their fundraising approaches, I'm sure. I delete most without examining them, and while I have contributed to a variety of candidates, I'm extremely unlikely to respond to this "just $5" (or whatever) attempt to get me to pony up a CC# and what-not. What struck me as mildly blog-worthy in this latest one was the George-to-George email being "forwarded." That's WEIRD. And it's weird that no one in the production process raised his or her hand and said "wait a second, this is too weird."

Regardless of what pitches are employed, the fundraising RESULTS of different candidates are yes, very different. There are too many to compare, but since he brought up Sanders, and since I was pretty sure without looking that Sanders and Bush numbers would make a stark contrast, I took a look at what the Center for Responsive Politics's has for Sanders and for Bush. I was surprised to see that the "Total Raised" (as of June 30, so lots of the story yet untold) was comparable, with Sanders in the lead: $16.4M vs. $11.4M for Bush. Those are the direct numbers; the table of numbers for "Campaign & Outside Committees" shows $21,000 for Bernie from a Super PAC and a Leadership PAC, while the Right to Rise Super PAC had raised a whopping $103 million, presumably to be used for (but not coordinated with, oh no) Bush.

Sanders' $15M in individual contributions were three-fourths "small" ($200 and less) and and one-fourth "large" (more than $200). Bush's were 97% "large." Demographics bubble charts show the distribution of "large" donations by size, and number of contributors, and male (purple) vs. female (pink), excerpted here:

Excerpt of charts on, data as of June 30, 2015

21.Aug.2015 Permanent URL to this day's entry

GQ Cover Star Permalink to this item

Cover stories aren't what they used to be, although we're not quite so far removed from publishing that we have to explain "what's a cover, daddy?" Just yet. Something special, at least, even if there isn't a bundle of other stories (and advertising, of course) arrayed around it that you'll see along the way. While it still carries some gravitas, here's a good one, from GQ, about The Late, Great Stephen Colbert, who is revealed in considerably greater depth than that fellow who did the schtick on Comedy Central for so many years. How much we'll see in front of the scenes when he starts doing The Late Show next month is still ahead. Stay tuned!

In the meanwhile, some helpful biography, with lessons in gratitude, fear, and process engineering (you might call it).

20.Aug.2015 Permanent URL to this day's entry

College daze Permalink to this item

Tech Hive's Associate Managing Editor Leah Yamshon sounds (and looks) quite a bit younger than me, but her description of her freshman year dorm room is a close-enough match for my own, 40 years on: "cinderblock walls, an over-used Twin-XL bed, and sticky desk that smelled faintly of beer." I don't remember a beer smell, actually, but then I would have been well-acclimated to that at the verge of 20, arriving in a state where the drinking age was 19. It was my sophomore dorm room, as well, my freshman digs in Madison having been a ramshackle flat with a genuninely scary little basement stuffed with a furnace and a legion of arthropods, and no longer visible on Google or any other Maps.

2001 photo

The attention getting headline was not about nostalgia however; I was curious about what miracles a list of 12 must-have gadgets for your new college dorm might comprise. I assumed some things I haven't heard of. I tried to think of what "gadgets" I had when I arrived in Moscow, Idaho and hiked across town from my first stop at The Alley, and then the long way around campus to Targhee Hall. Gadgets? A Swiss Army knife, for sure. A ball point pen or two. My precious component stereo system with its two "larger" Advent speakers had been too big to travel with me. Phones were not mobile. Computers were not mobile. Maybe I had a "calculator," but maybe not.

Also, I have no idea what a dollar is worth anymore (used to be 10 big candy bars), but my budget and style as a (freshman or) sophomore would not, I don't think, extend to the first item on the list, the "Grovemade Desk Collection," for as much as I like maple and walnut, with $790 worth of stands and trays and pads and holders and a lamp. ("Since the collection is on the pricey side, pick and choose your favorite pieces to create an optimal setup." Maybe just the $39 pen holder?!)

But after the opening absurdity, she does get to the good stuff, the techno-wizardry that didn't exist back in the day (or 5 years ago). Google Chromecast (connecting TV, smartphone and/or tablet), a 23" LCD monitor for the same price as the Grovemade monitor stand, a Smartpen (and audio recorder?) to replace the regular old Bic, noise cancelling headphones, a speaker that is small enough to travel by hitchhiking, a plug and play lightbulb (uh, what?), a coffeemaker (for $120 and lock you into their blasted "DRM-based" pod-waste? No), BACtrack Mobile Pro breathlyzer (no worries there, I didn't have anything to drive, just my bike), a fish tank, workout system and Nest Cam home monitoring system (separate items, not an all-in-one).

19.Aug.2015 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Secrets and moral outrage Permalink to this item

News is, the folks who hacked (and that other site you hadn't heard of,, both properties of "Avid Life Media") are making good on their threat to post customer data. 33 million usernames' worth so far, 10 GB, creating a sensation for private eyes and seekers of Schadenfreude. Of course, no one reading (or writing) will be on the list, unless... your email address and other particulars have been more or less freely accessible for the past 10 or 15 years, and have been scraped by and for penny-ante scammers of every stripe. I certainly received my share of Ashley Madison spam (which could have been spoofed meta-spam; but Occam suggests it was the direct approach), so they had my address on the solicitation side, at least.

Michael E. Miller's Morning Mix in the Washington Post says this is about way more than infidelity and the inevitable flood of snarky tweets. Also about more than the claims that ALM was cheating on its (reportedly 90 to 95% male) customers, with link bait (imagine that) and what-not. Also about more than the nasty business model of making you pay to delete "your" data, and then not actually deleting it.

Above all, Miller says, "it's about Internet privacy." Which is to say the lack of it. Also about "social justice warriors" and anti-SJWs, bullying and moral vendettas. Is this a momentous event, "a turning point for American society, the Internet and maybe even marriage itself"? You don't need to read quite that much into this particular breach to recognize that the turning point came a while ago, and we're a long way down the road of consequences. Having a powerful, mobile, all-seeing, always with you, can't keep your eyes (and thumbs) off of it "handy" in your pocket with precious little visibility into how it works, what it does, and what-all data it's launching hither and yon, well, what the hell did you expect would happen?

Fireworks photo

Putting misery and its company in proper perspective, have a look at Information is Beautiful's bubble chart of the World's Biggest Data Breaches, a cloud of "interesting stories" in the world's biggest virtual data shopping mall including banks, home furnishings, health insurance, online auctions, credit bureaus, the IRS, frequent flyer programs, entertainment companies, the US military, universities, and you name it. (Or, you filter it, by one or more of their baker's dozen categories of organization and half dozen methods.)

That's the technology side, but what about morality?

Imagine an organization dedicated to taking human culture back in time to a simpler era where God's word was revealed once and for all, and is to be enforced with sword, rifle, RPG, mortar, suicide bombing, and so on, one with a social media strategy that was about more broadcasting, recruiting, and raising money. For those who want to join, they ask for access to your photos/media/files, "test access to protected storage," Wi-Fi connection information, network connections, and of course, "run at startup."

It's a natural connection for the practice of commanding what is right and forbidding wrong, and empowering individuals or an organization to make it so. Never mind imagining an affair, have you imagined not paying your tithe, or not believing in established dogma, or resigning your membership in the organization?

Apostasy is a crime in many jurisdictions in Africa, the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia, and whether or not the judiciary will hand down a death sentence, the extra-judicial may not be waiting for such niceties. In today's other news, for example: Islamic State beheads 82-year-old Syrian antiquities scholar in Palmyra.

18.Aug.2015 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Where track records count Permalink to this item

Andrew Ross Sorkin's Dealbook column describes the disconnects between Carly Fiorina's campaign schtick and her résumé, leading with one of the pithy lines she delivers so convincingly to the credulous:

“I come from a world outside of politics, where track records and accomplishments count.”

Do you now? (And, "if only.")

As regular readers know, I had a ringside seat for the start of Ms. Fiorina's tenure at Hewlett-Packard, and like Sorkin, had the experience of "listening raptly" to one of her early shows at the turn of the millennium. In my case, it was part of HP's March, 2000 annual meeting, when the company was still sorting half of itself out into Agilent Technologies, and the bubble was fully inflated. There was an inside joke still in circulation about HP's occasionally clumsy marketing effort presenting sushi as "cold, dead fish," but hiring Carly signaled the start of a new era. From March, 2000:

After a warm round of applause following the Q&A, we filed out to pick up our souvenir copy of the "Rules of the Garage" poster, and one man asked, "where are the products?" disappointed that there wasn't anything "HP" to see. I thought to myself "our CEO is our product at this point," but that's cynically overstating the case. We do have one hell of a corporate action figure, though.

Bill Hewlett's passing, early the next year, gave me occasion to reflect on the company I had known for close to 20 years, and the timeless principles that Ms. Fiorina was preparing to take out to the dumpster by way of "challenging the status quo." Before the year was out, the people inside and outside the corporation had occasion to ask themselves just how synergized they were. The "success" of the shareholder vote on the HP-Compaq merger was a couple light-years away from "uncompromising integrity." The company did avoid losing a court challenge, even as one of the key institutional shareholders, Deutsche Bank's Asset Management arm, had its integrity compromised far enough to be fined $750,000 for its role in a last-minute change of "no" to "yes."

Robert Bruner at the University of Virginia turned the epilogue into a business case study, no less (and if you happen to get it assigned, you could request a solution, "prepared by MBAs and CFAs to your requirements," from, which seems like a remarkably appropriate approach to such an assignment).

I was also in the audience out on the soccer pitch at HP's Boise campus for then-Compaq CEO's Michael Capellas' sales job for the merger, talking about what a great dynamic duo he and Fiorina were going to make. The impression was what mattered, and I'm sure he carefully skirted around material falsehoods, even as he would have been planning how to spend his 8-figure golden parachute on his way to anywhere other than the synergized HP. He was gone long before I was (in late 2003), and Carly got the boot in early 2005, thanks in no small part to her track records and accomplishments.

To say the woman is out of her depth on a national stage should be belaboring the obvious, but the rules of corporate America are slightly different than our political system. It's possible to "lose" in either realm and still make out like a bandit, but the payoffs in the corporate world tend to be larger and more immediate. Carly's certainly were. The court of public opinion isn't always as friendly to the rapacious as the Delaware Chancery Court. She ticks the Republicans' "we have a woman candidate too" box for the moment, but no one would be so confused as to imagine her ready to jump from hasn't voted, much, to nominee for POTUS.

17.Aug.2015 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Your revolutionary shopping experience is waiting Permalink to this item

Back before it was the 800 pound gorilla of on-line marketing and retailing, and just an interesting and useful up-and-comer, I appreciated Amazon's usefulness for gathering opinions about books, participated as a reviewer, and joined its "Affiliates" program. Unlike almost anywhere you can go on the web these days, this site has almost no advertising. The rather lightweight presence of Amazon was the exception, and explained up front. The explanation is now more than 15 years old, which makes it more than three internet lifetimes old and mighty dusty. They did find a way to distribute less than $100, which is good, because in 15+ years, my total referral fees never have reached three figures. I can't remember the last store credit that came in; pretty much it's just "no referral fees this month," again and again. (I take that as a success; I'm not responsible for people spending money on things they don't need. Unless you all really are buying, but just not using the links?! I wouldn't be surprised if it turns out Amazon has figured out how to game their own system to minimize their Affiliates payout, though.)


But they are the 800 pound gorilla, and the main reason I haven't quit the program and scrubbed the old links is that it would be tedious maintenance that isn't as interesting as other things I can be doing. Like reading Jodi Kantor's and David Streitfeld's feature piece for the New York Times Business Day section, Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace. I was feeling the ripples from that without planning to read it, but then the LinkedIn email news feed I usually ignore because the headlines just about never deliver on the juicy hype they offer came up with an Amazonian's response to the NYT piece.

Nick Ciubotariu, said to be head of Infrastructure Development for the Search Experience, was not asked to be spokesperson, but was "not going to stand idly by as a horribly misinformed piece of “journalism” slanders [sic] my company in public without merit."

I'm acquainted with NYT "journalism," as well as Amazon, so it seemed kind of interesting to compare the two takes. Nick starts with a "brilliant" TL;DR that an apparently "awesome colleague" provided for him. I thought I knew what "brilliant" and "awesome" meant, but I could be wrong?

As it turns out the "journalism" is better and more interesting than the "reaction" from someone who "actualy work[s] here" and "can give you a data-driven perspective of what life at Amazon is realy like, today." And with the benefit a whole "18 months of data to draw from – recent, on the-the-ground experience." The reporters said they talked to more than 100 current and former employees up and down the line, and had plenty of good things to say about it along with the less-good.

Ciubotariu's not just 18 months out of school, though, he's had a lot of experience with software engineering and some, most recently, as a manager. Still, it seems sort of cute and buzzwordy, and an un-self-conscious tour into the strange world of a particular bureaucracy, and takes me back to when I was 12 months into my corporate career, and ready to burn the place up. (Literally.) His mileage varies, and even though he doesn't have a lot of facts, or breadth of experience to refute what ran in the Times, or the inclination to acknowledge what the reporters got right (anything?), he did spend a lot of a weekend coming up with his own celebration of the company and its success and vision. In bolder font than I'm prepared to use, he declares

"In 1997, Amazon revolutionized the way the world shops. Today, we’re the world’s most innovative technology company that just happens to sell books, among other things."

Some truth in that but I'll just add that it's funny to me that in spite of being a long-time customer, and participant, I'm a lot more wary about the whole enterprise than I am enthusiastic. The stuff in the Times that I don't doubt and that Ciubotariu didn't convincingly rebut does not make it sound like an organization I'd want to be in, or for that matter, one that I'm all that enthusiastic about giving my business to. I'll shop there when it suits me, but I'll keep an eye out for alternatives.

Update: Jeff Bezos responded too. His memo to employees said that the company would not tolerate the “shockingly callous management practices” described in the article. The NYT follow-up engages Ciubotariu's piece, as well. For example:

"[Ciubotariu's] points contradicted the accounts of many former and current colleagues, and some of his assertions were incorrect, including a statement that the company does not cull employees on an annual basis. An Amazon spokesman previously confirmed that the company sought to manage out a certain percentage of its work force annually. The number varies from year to year."

14.Aug.2015 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Degrees of misery Permalink to this item

Weather app in Buckeye AZ

We've grown accustomed to pleasant diurnal variation, mature trees in the neighborhood helping cut the worst of midday heat and so on. But a few times each summer, we have evenings that don't cool off, and sometimes a whole night that never gets to comfortable. Last night was one such, with even the crickets sounding under the weather. Their sound volume goes up with temperature to some extent, and some other variables I haven't figured out but that someone has probably studied. Earlier this week, they seemed just LOUD, loud enough that I had a passing thought about whether I might be able to sleep with all that noise. It remains soporific, though.

Last night, after 11, it seemed ok, maybe a bit cooler outside than in, and time to open all the windows. The crickets were strangely soft-spoken (soft-stridulated?), a few chirping in, but mostly damn it's too hot tonight. Woke up after midnight, and it seemed hotter still, and I closed all the windows and resorted to the A/C. This morning... not still hot but not cool enough to bring the house down from the high 70s.

Just about the time I was feeling sorry for myself, a friend checked in with the weather report in Buckeye, AZ, where "just normal for the summer" is cloudy and hit the low of 90° just before 6am Arizona time, and forecast highs of 115° Friday, 115° Saturday, 115° Sunday, before cooling down to highs in the 100-oughts next week.

Misery used to love company, but now it just wants to be left alone, I think. It's too hot.

12.Aug.2015 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Fire season on Permalink to this item

It never seems real until the smoke comes to where we live, which it doesn't seem to have, quite yet, but with two evenings of stormy weather, low humidity and high temperatures, SW Idaho is lit up. InciWeb (Incident Information System) has over a hundred fires in the database with max age 90 days or less, and sorting by acreage, the Soda Fire in the Boise District is #4, at 83,000 acres of grass, brush and mountain mahogany, 20% contained. It's below two Alaska fires over 300,000 acres, and the now-contained Happy Camp Complex in California's Klamath NF, 134,000 acres. (A reader noted Happy Camp was last year's fire.)

U.S. Highway 95 was closed overnight; it's open this morning, but may not stay open. Mid-80s by mid-morning, over 90 and relative humidity in the teens before noon. The Idaho Statesman's coverage included reader Scott Urban's "gorgeous" fire at dusk photo, the view from the safe (at the moment) distance of the Boise foothills.

This morning, the wall of smoke is kept out of our neighborhood by the SE wind, but it'll turn on a dime.

Things could be worse (and probably will be, shortly): in north-central Idaho, 2,500 lightning strikes started a hundred fires in the Lawyer Complex, "only" 2,000 acres so far, but lots of potential trouble in the Clearwater breaks. "Level II" evacuations all around Kamiah, "residents need to be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice."

Update: Statesman story says it's 200,000 acres and still growing, less than a day later, US 95 closed again. Wind switched to NW, but most of the smoke stayed out of our town through sunset, at least.

“Multiple breakouts spreading as fast as 1.5 miles in 8 minutes and having spot fires growing to 1000 acres in 10 minutes shows how fast this fire is moving,” the BLM said in an evening news release. “With structures in the area crews are putting a lot of effort into protecting structures and property.”

11.Aug.2015 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Endless war party Permalink to this item

JEB! needs to go on the offensive, obviously, so here we go, he's criticizing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for having "stood by" as Iraq descended into violence. The Islamic State is her fault, eh. Adam Nagourney and Alan Rappeport's "First Draft" for the NYT gently notes that

"the choice of topic is complicated, given the role of Mr. Bush’s brother, former President George W. Bush, in championing the war in Iraq. In the excerpts, at least, Jeb Bush made no mention of his brother or defense of the decision to intervene in Iraq in the first place."

There's no benefit from wringing our hands about decisions made a decade ago, but it does remain important to identify what mistakes were made (something JEB!'s big brother was never able to do), and do what we can to avoid making the same ones over again, or compounding the damage with the wrong strategy going forward. It's fair game to look at the Obama/Clinton record, and in any case, if JEB! is sorting out his own confusion and uncertainty about how to talk about the Middle East we might be able to move the discussion forward rather than sideways.

It was the case, he might remember, that by 2008, the full enormity of the whirlwind his brother and Dick Cheney had sucked us into was evident. It was no small part of GWB's second defeat of John McCain for President, effectively. (The Karl Rove dirty tricks in South Carolina that effected the first defeat seem rather quaint by comparison to Iraq.)

But at least his script writers came up with a more intelligent response to the inevitable repeat question that Bush faced last week, which boils down to yes, mistakes were made, and some by Obama, even if he didn't remember to add "and Hillary" for a few days. And now what?

"To honor the people that died, we need to — we need to — stop the — Iran agreement, for sure, because the Iranian mullahs have their blood on their hands, and we need to take out ISIS with every tool at our disposal."

Easier said than done. And for as much as the Republicans seem unanimous that they want to stop the Iran agreement, the lack of a useful alternative to that multinational compromise out of long negotiations is the sticking point. Are we back to the "Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" strategy of talk crazy and carry a big stick?

“It was a case of blind haste to get out, and to call the tragic consequences somebody else’s problem,” Mr. Bush says in the advance excerpts. “Rushing away from danger can be every bit as unwise as rushing into danger, and the costs have been grievous.”

Time to rush back in then, is that what he means to say? At least we can be sure that the costs will continue to be grievous, whichever way we turn.

10.Aug.2015 Permanent URL to this day's entry

A Baskin-Robbins of smugness Permalink to this item

Tom von Alten photo

It's too late to add to the comment section, and without digging into almost 2,000 posted before it was closed, I'm confident that more than a few New York Times readers will have mentioned Professor Alexander's rather remarkable blindspot (in criticizing the blind spot of Jon Stewart, Patron Saint of Liberal Smugness, and all those he entertained), directed at "many liberals, but not conservatives." As in:

"Many liberals, but not conservatives, believe there is an important asymmetry in American politics. These liberals believe that people on opposite sides of the ideological spectrum are fundamentally different."

Apparently conservatives all immunize their children against this malady? The leading lights of the Republican Party do not seem to have received the memo, however, which he would have noticed listening to JEB! (especially, but also Ben, and John, and Megyn, just in that one two-hour go) talking about wedges and dividing, somehow all the liberals' fault. He's a uniter, not a divider! Can't we all just get along? With the conservative agenda?

Ok, in some of the words of those who were able to comment there, starting with JMF of New Haven:

"This conservative talking point has gotten rather old: Jon Stewart (i.e., a fake news anchor on Comedy Central) failed us. If only, the conservatives tell us, he had taken his "responsibility" more seriously! This is flagrantly disingenuous..."

Deborah from New Jersey:

"Now please apply this same analysis to Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, The Drudge Report et al. and let's see where you come out. ..."

jake of California:

"Sorry, Professor, it won't do to cram all the crazy into a few sacrificial extremists like Palin and Akin ..."

And 1,823 more to choose from.

9.Aug.2015 Permanent URL to this day's entry

The Main Event Permalink to this item

If he's "not a real candidate," as David Brooks says, why is the Donald sucking so much of the oxygen out of the room? That's entertainment! 24 million people tuned in to see something explode, but had to pretty much settle for Rand Paul's chances to be taken seriously. Commentators seem to be looking for a top 10 spot for Carly Fiorina, so maybe that'll be it.

Fox News delivered on the promise of entertainment for the masses, pre-match banter, snarky meta-banter ("Don't stage the news," Kelly said, jokingly, while they were staging the news). "And what do you think of this crowd?" Bret Baier asks, working an applause line out of his rhetorical question to the hapless ten in front of them. "Please go to your podiums," lined up by poll position: Trump center-stage. Kasich out on the end, but he's got the home-town crowd behind him.

And how about that warm-up act? Fiorina "unleased a can," Kelly says. Woo-ee.

Ding-ding goes the buzzer.

A hand-raiser to start things off, intended as a sucker-punch for Trump maybe, but he was perfectly happy to admit he might not support the Republican nominee, and he won't agree to lay off an independent run. Is he even a real Republican? No one's quite sure. Shades of Ross Perot and the last time we made a Clinton president.

Rand Paul objects, a bit pathetically. "I've given him plenty of money," Trump says to dismiss him, and everyone else. (A few candidates objected that they hadn't taken any Trump money. Whatever.)

Then Megyn Kelly's left hook for Trump, the chauvinist pig. "Only Rosie O'Donnell" gives him a big crowd reaction. "Thank you," Trump says. "I'll be here all week," he might have added. The country's "big problem" is being "politically correct"? Actually, it is not, and that's not a response. "It's fun, it's kidding, we have a good time." That would be the royal "we," for sure.

Governor Walker, regular guy with a wife, two kids and a Harley, would you really let a mother die rather than have an abortion? "I'm pro-life," he said, so the hell with the mother. Huckabee can go one better, he'd invoke the 5th and 14th amendment to protect "a person at the moment of conception." Let me see your conception certificate.

For the commercial breaks, they had some organization with a freaky anti-gay marriage/anti-SCOTUS ad. The judges we're supposed to hate were in color, and the other 4 were black and white, and they wanted us to call and press [1] for their option, no other choices mentioned. I was tempted to go [6][6][6], but did not.

Rand Paul ended up on the short end of all the sticks he grabbed at, most especially debating the Constitution with Chris Christie. "That's a completely ridiculous argument," Christie said, and Paul did not have an answer, other than to attack Christie for "[giving] Obama a big hug." Christie countered with more hugs, the ones he gave to family members of victims.

But Donald Trump got the money quotes. He's bought so many politicians, and when he comes back later, they do what he wants them to. That shows "it's a broken system." Interesting, and simultaneously honest and crazy argument. The system is corrupt, so what the hell, why not put Trump in charge? Sure he's taken advantage of bankruptcy laws, what businessman hasn't? He didn't personally go bankrupt, he ended up with all the money! Even if it isn't $10 billion, there are a lot of people who ended up on the wrong side of a Trump deal, eh? He's "very proud of it." And if he's taking his own advice (don't bet on it), he recommends buying stock in Iran.

By the way, has anybody here heard from God asking him to run? Kasich? He's not a preacher's kid; his dad was a mailman. He believes in miracles, though. Walker's been redeemed by the blood of Christ, and "just being decent going forward." Humbly! Kelly makes the question even stranger by making it about "God and the veterans." Wha? For Carson, she twists it further. God and... race relations. Damn those "purveyors of hatred" and the wedge-drivers. Does he really mean that Democrats mean to divide, and thus destroy us? SERIOUSLY?

Ted Cruz' closing statement had the wildest gaffe of the night, the third thing he'd do on his first day in office is "instruct the Department of Justice and the IRS to start persecuting religious liberty." And Huckabee the best trick shot:

"It seems like this election has been a whole lot about a person who’s very high in the polls, that doesn’t have a clue about how to govern."

The crowd oo'd in excitement at his obvious attack on... but no, it was on Hillary! Who could've seen that coming? For his part, Trump summed up to say you all are pretty much losers and stupid, so we should elect him.

Other commentary, from Frank Rich: Donald Trump and the Disappointments

Hannah Groch-Begley: What Really Happened at the debate:

"Fox has two fundamental goals: make lots of money by broadcasting entertaining television, and bolster the Republican Party. Last night, they succeeded in doing both, even in the moments where it might have seemed like they had no patience for the Republican candidates' pandering. "Because Fox chief Roger Ailes knows that the best way for Fox to bolster the Republican Party in the long-term is for mainstream journalists to trust Fox—for the 'blindly loyal propaganda division' to appear, even just for one night, as credible. Propaganda doesn't work, after all, if you know it's propaganda."

Elizabeth Birch: Donald Trump Is No Rosie O'Donnell

Mike Whitney: Billionaire Blowhard Exposes Fake Political System

Karoli: Erick Erickson suddenly finds his conscience, cancels Trump appearance

Frank Bruni: A Foxy, Rowdy Republican Debate; he enjoyed the "inquisition," thought it was "great television, and even better politics."

Paul Krugman: Republicans can't be serious

Nate Silver: Donald Trump's Six Stages of Doom

And finally, not that there were a lot of facts bandied about, but Josh Lederman and round up a few that needed air quotes.

6.Aug.2015 Permanent URL to this day's entry

The warmup act Permalink to this item

Wow, that's a lot more Fox News than I ever tune in to. Starting with the consolation group, did they really do that in front of an empty hall? There were a few staffers or something in the front, but you could hear everybody's voice echoing echoing echoing in the hall.

Does Carly really believe the pitch she's delivering? I sure don't. I've heard her spiel before in a smaller venue, and it just isn't convincing to me. She's sold Rick Perry; he thinks she'd be a Tough Negotiator over in Iran. But, uh, really, it only works for her own account.

Update: If I'd been paying closer attention I might have focused more on the most ridiculous questions being asked. Also, the "Top Unique Mentions" count for Trump on Facebook (26+ million, as seen in the AP photo there) is eerily similar to the reported viewership of the main event.

Seventy years after Permalink to this item

Tom von Alten 1998 photo

It's already Friday on the other side of the Pacific. 8:15 am, August 6 was a lifetime ago, that moment when "atomic age" was seared into human consciousness with the shadow of vaporized bodies. The second paragraph of a report of the anniversary in the New York Times is more evocative of The Simpsons than the Bhagavad Gita, but stick with it. On the winning side, we do not hold still for a minute, or ring a temple gong, or apologize. (At least we did have a witness to the commemoration, Ambassador Caroline Kennedy.)

Should we apologize? Opinions differ. We are all sorrier for all that happened. They started the war, and the enormity unleashed was more vast than the destructive power of an atom bomb (or two). We are keeping our "nuclear deterrent," long after the arms race bankrupted out biggest competitor, and still (quietly) rattling our WMD spears and lamenting the proliferation that we just can't seem to stop. The question of whether an accident or an on purpose will blow us all to kingdom come remains open. Robert Oppenheimer's response, back in the day, still haunts us:

"We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita; Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and, to impress him, takes on his multi-armed form and says, 'Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.' I suppose we all thought that, one way or another."

Field of handicaps Permalink to this item

Bracing ourselves for the thrill of the Fox News circus act tonight (complete with an "undercard," as Mike Allen put it for Politico, 5pm EDT), when the NYT drew me into their latest datagraphic, Who’s Winning the G.O.P. Campaign? It's one of those things that as soon as you see how it works you realize, "yes, this is exactly how you should be able to interactively compare 5 rankings of 17 choices." (Whoops, make that 16; Jim Gilmore was relegated to a footnote, with "no data available for him yet.") And never mind your own distractions: they say they're going to "update it every day for the remainder of the year."

It probably won't rivet our attention for too much longer, but it's interesting to see where the "top 10" cutoff would be for the five dimensions they figure are most important right now (prediction markets, national endorsements, Iowa polls, New Hampshire polls, and money raised). Former NY Governor George Pataki is the only one who didn't make the top 10 for something. (Fiorina managed to eke tenth in NH polls; Santorum reached #7 in national endorsements; everybody else has two or more top 10 finishes.) But what the interactive graphic giveth, the fine print taketh away:

"The candidate who wins the "invisible primary" [in which candidates compete for support from their fellow politicians, from party leaders and from donors] usually wins the nomination. Even when he doesn’t, the eventual nominee tends to be a candidate who was a close runner-up. Why? The support of party leaders is both a sign of a candidate’s long-term strength and a source of future strength."

The PredictWise "free market" has JEB! in the lead by a wide margin: 45% to Scott Walker's 2nd place 20%. (In a horse race, I'd say call it done, then. Walker is so far out of his depth on the national stage that he could consider it a victory if he gets in the starting gate pointed in the right direction.) The comic relief candidate, Donald Trump picks up the one in ten "Mickey Mouse" vote, and only Marco Rubio rises above noise. Huckabee, Cruz, Kasich and maybe Paul and Christie give the margin of error a run for its money and you can stop counting after tied for 8th.

The Donald has zero national endorsements from national Republican officials. No upside to that. (The 5 "tied for 7th" folks have one each.) And just in case you think it's stupid to have Iowa decide things for the whole country, consider that they have Scott Walker and Donald Trump currently #1 and #2 in their polls, and Ben Carson 4th behind JEB!. Tough call whether that's better or worse than NH, where Trump has a 2-to-1 lead for 1st place.

5.Aug.2015 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Thousands pay for Jindal publicity Permalink to this item

Bobby Jindal is never, ever going to be President of the United States, is my guess, no matter how fervently he would like to be or how many times he runs. In the party of old, moneyed power, there are just too many people ahead of him in line, for one thing. This is not to say he can't make some serious mischief for the people of Louisiana (at least) in a desperate attempt to make news, and outdo his competition in expressing hatred for Planned Parenthood.

Never mind the weak tea of "shocking to see alleged activities," he apparently has the power to unilaterally cancel his state's Medicaid contract with the organization on short notice and leave 4,000+ women a year looking somewhere else for healthcare services for birth control, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. Extremism in the defense of ideology is no vice!

The report in Yahoo! Health includes this response from PPFA executive vice president Dawn Laguens:

“It is almost impossible to believe that Governor Bobby Jindal’s shameful record of restricting women’s access to health care in Louisiana could get any worse. It’s clear he will stop at absolutely nothing to deny women birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, and HIV tests. Governor Jindal has aligned himself with extremists who are hell-bent on ending access to safe, legal abortion — including breaking the law, peddling in false accusations, and violence and harassment of women and doctors. Just yesterday, extremists set fire to a security guard’s vehicle outside our Planned Parenthood health center under construction in New Orleans. Planned Parenthood will do everything in our power to protect the health and safety of our staff and patients, and to protect women’s access to health care in Louisiana and all fifty states.”

4.Aug.2015 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Also ran Permalink to this item

Carly Fiorina, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham, Rick Santorum, George Pataki, and Jim Gilmore are now wishing there had been a qualifying round for the GOP field, rather than the brutal hegemony of the Fox News "decision desk" sorting through public opinion. Lindsey Graham was hopping mad a month ago, he can't be any happier now that he's officially been culled. He'll probably want to subpoena some emails from the network. Kudos to them for the statistical mumbo jumbo justifying their cut line:

“Each poll has a different margin of error, and averaging requires a distinct test of statistical significance,” the memo said. “Given the over 2,400 interviews contained within the five polls, from a purely statistical perspective it is at least 90 percent likely that the 10th place Kasich is ahead of the 11th place Perry.”

That's with half the Republican field having poll numbers indistinguishable from the margin of error. We have to DQ "a top Republican pollster who worked for Newt Gingrich" last time around, quoted in the NYT report for this:

“This has been one of the best quality fields we’ve seen in a long time — it’s just an amazing field,” said David Winston...

He simply could not be serious. Rick Perry, on the other hand is showing great new seriousness with those glasses, and this perspicacious observation:

“There’s a good chance that 9 p.m. debate stage is going to be turned into a circus.”

Definitely better than even odds of that.

Idaho's Ag-Gag undone Permalink to this item

Chief Judge B. Lynn Winmill of the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho has given the 1st Amendment supression efforts of the Idaho Dairymen's Association and the friends in our state legislature the heave-ho: Ag-Gag is ruled unconstitutional. The Spokesman-Review provides a copy of the Memorandum Decision and Order invalidating Idaho Code 18-7042, just past its first birthday. (H/t to Betsy Russell's Eye on Boise blog post.)

The Judge provided some highlights from Sen. Jim Patrick in the 2014 session of the legislature, who compared animal rights investigators to “marauding invaders centuries ago who swarmed into foreign territory and destroyed crops to starve foes into submission” and undercover investigations to “terrorism, [which] has been used by enemies for centuries to destroy the ability to produce food and the confidence in the food’s safety.” Patrick called the legislation “the way you combat your enemies.”

Winmill also had cause to cite George Orwell, and Upton Sinclair, who the more literary members of the legislature might have remembered misrepresented his identity to get a job at a meat-packing plant in Chicago once upon a time, to further his early-20th century "terrorism" novel, The Jungle.

No one should be confused about it Permalink to this item

Among last night's forum statements, I was struck by John Kasich's opening round "answer" to the immigration "question," and his weird insertion of "God-fearing":

"With the 12 million, we need to find out who they are, if they're law-abiding, God-fearing folks, they're going to have to pay a penalty toward legalization, they're going to have to wait, and uh, you know it's border, it's a reasonable guest worker program, and it's the ones who are the 12 million, they violate the law, they're going to have to be deported or put in prison, um, and I think at the same time, we just, we clearly need to make sure that we can protect who gets in and out of this country and once we put something into effect like that, anybody who comes in has gotta be sent home, no one should be confused about it."

It was of course a non sequitur embedded in a stream of non sequitur, and if one were to attempt logical deconstruction, it would be seen as a null and void dangling modifier in the murk. We can presume Gov. Kasich would apply the same penalties, waits, deportation and/or prison sentences whether or not said folks feared God (or even believed in the same one as he did, or any at all).

First forum fatigues Permalink to this item

Sept. 2010 photo

We learned that 14 people are too many to squeeze on to a stage all at once (although they could've done it with risers), even if you put three of them in a video link from Washington so that they can pretend to vote against Planned Parenthood in the Senate. We learned that there are quite a few more softball questions that can be asked of Republican presidential candidates than we imagined, and that giving the editors of the Manchester Union Leader the power to write the questions was kind of a stupid idea. But mostly, I learned that I don't have the stomach to sit through that sustained a barrage of campaign rhetoric without shouting at my TV like a drunken sailor.

If you can stomach more, the "forum" is captured in's web version, with transcript (compiled from uncorrected Closed Captioning) and video on demand for sampling and specificity. Rick Perry came across as quite a bit more intelligent than last time around, I'll give him that. Keep it simple, no lists of three items. He was a job-makin' machine down there in Texas, and also a Chuck Norris, border-enforcing, 24-7 long arm of the law keeping out the illegals.

Should we do something (different) about legal immigration? was asked of several of the candidates, and pretty much no one (I heard—less than half of 'em) was prepared for that kind of nuance. "We need to be smart" about it, for sure, but really job number one is the full-on military push to enforce the border, irrespective of actual facts such as the stability of the population of unauthorized immigrants in recent years, or the fact that flow from Mexico peaked in 2007, or that apprehensions last year fell to historic lows, down to a level not seen since the 1970s (and more non-Mexicans than Mexicans, which is also historic change).

"Should the federal government fund Planned Parenthood?" was the fattest lob to most of the candidates. Absolutely not. Not asked: "Where would you suggest the millions of Americans who rely on Planned Parenthood clinics for affordable, quality health care services including cancer prevention, STI and HIV testing and general primary health care services, many of them low-income women, go instead for their medical care?"

Ben Carson came across remarkably weak to me. We get that he doesn't like "Obamacare." Saying we should replace it before we repeal it is something new, but with the question of what we should replace it with unanswered, call it a distinction without a difference. Unless you think "something that really puts the power back in the hands of consumers and healthcare providers" is close enough for government work, contradiction and all. The "shoving it down our throats" part about why he doesn't like it sort of misses the part about how a Bill was made in Congress (and how Bills are not unmade these days), but it did get his delivery a notch above wistful-breathy. Health savings accounts given to every child who's born sound jolly, as does being allowed to have your wife give you $500 if you don't have the money yourself, for enormous flexibility to cover just about anything. It seems so simple when he talks about it. Also, vaguely incomprehensible. The "indigent" could buy a "concierge practice" and have a couple thousand bucks left over. Not that he's advocating any such thing, he's just showing he knows some numbers and stuff. "Washington says you can't give health savings accounts to the indigent because they're too stupid, and they wouldn't be able to manage them." (Uh, George Washington said that, are you sure?)

JEB! said he would take the advice of the military very seriously. And we need a strategy. For Syria, and stuff. Good luck with that. We need Special Forces, but he's not sure whether we need "boots on the ground." Floating Special Forces, then. That's the new strategy is it? "There needs to be a political element of this as well." Speaking of political elements, how 'bout that tailored setup for a Bush: "Big country. Hard job running for President. ... What compels you to run?"

I was committed to watching at least through Carly Fiorina's bit, with her truncated introduction as "the first woman to lead a Fortune 50 business" [into the ground], followed by the decidedly not-friendly question (from "one of our people"), "What's the least popular action you've taken as a leader and what did you learn from it?"

Give her props for not dropping her jaw and saying "that's a clown question, bro," but rather ducking and weaving like the professional marketing executive she is. "First of all let me thank" people, and then put this in generic, third-person terms about "one of the most difficult questions you have as a leader," "to challenge the status quo." Well. That's actually the least difficult thing for a Republican contender for President to do, isn't it? Wandering off into the secure territory of big, bad, Washington and "30 years ago" (things went south when we elected Ronald Reagan, whaaa?) and our insecure border deflected attention from the question, about her.

To the reiterated question, "least popular action you took as a leader?" another delicate feint. "I think the least popular actions are when you say to people 'we can't afford to do this any more.'" Like... when the HP board said that about her continued employment as CEO, and even though it was painful to kiss $20-some million goodbye to get rid of her, we couldn't afford it anymore. "Our government has gotten Bigger and Bigger Every Year for Almost Fifty Years," during which the population has grown by more than half, go figure. "Invest in those things that are a priority, securing the border, helping those people who are truly in need of help and you need to quit spending money where you're wasting money." Fiorina did at least get a tee-ball for her line of attack on Hillary Clinton, "to the core of her character," oh my.

For Bobby Jindal, and what about this "very divided America," he sounded like he was channeling Barack Obama's speech to the 2004 Democratic Party. "How can you unify this country?"

"Jack, I'm so tired of this president and the left trying to divide us..." Damn those dividers! "We're not hyphenated Americans, we're not African Americans or Asian Americans or rich Americans or poor Americans, we're all Americans." (Including, ahem, those central and south Americans, amirite?) Boiling it down to simple terms, this whole thing about division is the Left's fault. When Bobby Jindal is president, "no more hyphenated Americans, no more divisions." 'Nuff said!

It was the next question, about "making Washington work for... us again, I think 'cause it's feeling that almost that everyone, regardless of their political affiliation would agree that Washington is not working for America. In fact [wry "huh"] it may be working against us" that was a bridge too far for me. THAT IS A CLOWN QUESTION, BRO, in this room full of governors and ex-governors.

But that's not what Jindal said. He said "that's a great question" and blathered ahead, as if Louisiana's budgetary experience was informative about the federal government's.

3.Aug.2015 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Monday round up Permalink to this item

Big Republican debate tonight in New Hampshire with 14 of the top 10 candidates on stage, celebs Trump and Huckabee declining the invitation. Thanks to the “Voters First Forum” and St. Anselm College in New Hampshire, and the states of New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina for stepping up and sponsoring a free-for-all. Media celebs and gaffe-masters Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee couldn't clear their schedules to join the fun. Also Jim Gilmore won't be there. (Ah, who? Jimmy Dale Gilmore is running for President, or is that someone else?)

Granted, it's a little bizarre to have Fox News filtering the field of dreams to a "top 10 list," but with that many people in the wanting, some sort of preliminary round seems in order. There should be feats of strength or something. Rick Perry proposed pull-ups, that seems as good a means as any.

Sadly, without the Huckster there, we won't be able to hear more about how he plans to use the Federal Bureau of Investigation to stop abortion because the 5th and 14th amendment and he believes "every human being" includes, you know, even if not the actual human beings we encounter day to day. Answering a follow-up to his absurdity, he said "We'll see if I get to be president" so I guess we're not going to see. CBS' Face the Nation host John Dickerson could have dug in one-on-one, but chose instead to ask questions about Huck's clown comments on the Iran deal.

Since JEB! will be on-stage and the center of some attention, perhaps we'll hear about his figuring out "a way to phase out" Medicare, which I'm sure Florida voters would be very interested in hearing all about. "We need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others and move to a new system that allows them to have something – because they’re not going to have anything," he said, which gives me an idea for his campaign theme song, fo de folk wid plenty o' plenty.


Tom von Alten
ISSN 1534-0007