Monthly Archives: September 2009

The White House Does A Reality Check on Glenn Beck

Read it.  Here's my favorite:

RHETORIC:   BECK SAID VANCOUVER LOST $1 BILLION WHEN IT "HAD THE OLYMPICS."   Glenn Beck said, "Vancouver lost, how much was it? they lost a billion dollars when they had the Olympics."  [Transcript, Glenn Beck Show, 9/29/09]
 
REALITY:   VANCOUVER'S OLYMPICS WILL NOT TAKE PLACE UNTIL 2010.   Vancouver will host the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games from February 12 – 28, 2010 and March 12-21, 2010, respectively. [Vancouver2010.com, accessed 9/29/09]
Yup.  Beck claimed that Vancouver lost $1 billion when it had the Olympics, even though Vancouver hasn't had the Olympics yet!

Nate Silver vs. Strategic Vision

In a series of blog posts, statistician Nate Silver has made a compelling case that Strategic Vision, LLC is a public realtions/polling firm which, put bluntly, makes up data.

In this post, Silver looks at a recent poll conducted by SV, which made some news.  The upshot of the poll, commissioned by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, is that Oklahoma public high school students are extraordinarily stupid.  The poll showed, for example, that only 23% of public high schools students could name America's first president (George Washington). 

I saw that poll reported in the news; I almost blogged about it.  But where I was left astonished, Silver smelled a rat.  And he went on to make a convincing argument that the numbers appear to be, quite simply, fabricated.

In another post, Silver notes that Strategic Vision appears to make up numbers because in its polling, a statistically high number of the Strategic Vision's raw numbers have trailing digits that end in 5,6,7,8 or 9 (as in 148, 326, 49, etc.)  Obviously, when you are dealing with polls, trailing digits of 1, 2, and 3 ought to show up just as often as trailing digits of 7, 8, and 9.  It's suggestive, albeit not conclusive, that Strategic Vision makes shit up.  "Over a sample of more than 5,000 data points, such an outcome occurring by chance alone would be an incredible fluke—millions to one against," writes Silver, who allows that "some intrinsic, mathematical reason that certain trailing digits are more likely to come up than others" may be an alternative, yet unproven explanation.

But Nate Silver isn't alone on this crusade.  In fact, he didn't even start it.  The governing industry body for pollsters, the American Association for Public Opinion Research  (AAPOR) criticized Strategic Vision LLC for refusing to disclose "essential facts" about surveys it conducted prior to the 2008 New Hampshire and Wisconsin primaries (AAPOR was conducting a study because some of the polls in the 2008 election were wildly off).  Strategic Vision is not a member of the AAPOR (nearly all major polling firms are), which alone ought to tell you something.

Strategic Vision, which normally gets retained by Republican/conservative clients to conduct polling, has a history of questionable practices:

Details of Strategic Visions polls have long raised flags among pollsters, in part because it refuses — unlike other pollsters — to release "cross-tabs" — the detailed demographic breakdowns of individual polls. A source noted other anomalies to me today. One is that the pollster always reports having called a round number of respondents — unusual in an industry that typically uses large call centers and winds up — as casual poll readers know — with uneven numbers of calls.

Another question is how the firm pays for its polls. Its website lists at least 172 public polls, and at a stated cost of $30,000 a poll, that's an expenditure of more than $5 million — quite a sum for a small firm.

A third question has to do with the firm's offices. Its website, as recently as last month, listed offices in Atlanta, Madison, Seattle, and Tallahassee — all of which match the locations of UPS stores, rather than actual offices. The addresses are now gone from the site entirely, though it now also lists a Dallas presence.

If the allegations are true, this rises above the usual "lies, damned lies, and statistics".  This is outright fraud committed by a polling company on the American people.

Did I mention that Strategic Vision routinely conducts polls for Republican and conservative think-tanks and causes?

I’m Shocked, Shocked That There’s Hyperbole In The House

I wasn't going to write about this, but there was some Democratic theatrics on the House floor yesterday.  A Democratic congressman — Alan Grayson of Florida – got up in the House and made a tongue-in-cheek mockery of the Republican health care plan.  The freshman Florida Democrat said the Republican health care plan calls for sick people to "die quickly."

"It's a very simple plan," Grayson said in the speech Tuesday night. "Don't get sick. That's what the Republicans have in mind. And if you get sick America, the Republican health care plan is this: die quickly."

Here's the vid:

This morning, Republicans are outraged and insulted about the terrible lack of decorum, etc.  Outraged and insulted, I say.  Rep. Tom Price, R-Georgia, announced Wednesday he will introduce a resolution condemning Grayson for the comments.

Rep. Jimmy Duncan (R-TN) declared:

"That is about the most mean-spirited partisan statement that I've ever heard made on this floor, and I, for one, don't appreciate it."

Really? The most mean-spirited partisan statement ever heard on the House floor?  Apparently, they are oblivious to similar statements from their own ranks.  Ryan Grim at the Huffington Post took a preliminary look at a few Republican representatives who claimed the Democratic health care plan spelled death for Americans:

Take Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-Fla.), who said in July: "Last week, Democrats released a health care bill which essentially said to America's seniors: drop dead."

Or Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.), a doctor, who reviewed the public health insurance option in July and diagnosed that it is "gonna kill people."

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), not one to pull punches, suggested on the House floor that Congress "make sure we bring down the cost of health care for all Americans and that ensures affordable access for all Americans and is pro-life because it will not put seniors in a position of being put to death by their government."

July was a busy time for House floor death sentences. Also that month, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), noted: "One in five people have to die because they went to socialized medicine…I would hate to think that among five women, one of 'em is gonna die because we go to socialized care."

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) had a similar assessment. "They're going to save money by rationing care, getting you in a long line. Places like Canada, United Kingdom, and Europe. People die when they're in line," he said on the House floor in July.

UPDATE:  A video compilation:

Classic case of dishing it out, but not being able to take it.

Hey! New Supreme Court!

Okay.  Most of you know the drill.  Sit still, look at the camera, smile, and shut up.

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Kennedy, shut up!  He doesn't want to hear you!  Sonia, can you smile, please?  Clarence, don't slouch.  Geez.  (Every year… the same thing….)

Can someone go see where Ruth is?  Didn't she know… oh, hi there, hun.  Didn't see you back there.  My bad.  How are you feeling?  Fellas, why don't one of you let Ruthie have a chair?

Fellas?

Ok, never mind.  Okay.

Folks, look up here.  Scalia, don't.  Don't do the finger thing behind Alito's head.  It just wastes film.

Okay.  Look at the camera.  The birdie.  Whatever.  Smile.

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Okay.  I guess that's the one.  Whatever.  We're done.  Thank you all.

Justice Ginsburg, you can go too.  Ginsburg?  Can someone see if he's alive?

Quote Of The Day

Sarah's got a book coming out soon called "Goin' Rogue" (I guess "maverick" was taken).  She reportedly got a $7 million advance on the book, which is good for her, because she's not exactly taking the lecture circuit by storm:

Palin's bookers are said to be asking for $100,000 per speech, but an industry expert tells Page Six: "The big lecture buyers in the US are paralyzed with fear about booking her, basically because they think she is a blithering idiot."

Imagine my surprise.

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If Republicans Are Worried About Wasteful Government Programs….

… and that's why they supposedly oppose the public option, then why are they throwing money at government programs that don't work?

That's right.  The Senate Finance Committee yesterday rejected two amendments to its health bill which would have added the public option.  But what amendment did the Republicans and Blue Dog Dems vote forProviding more money to abstience education programs:

The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday night approved an amendment providing tens of millions of dollars to fund abstinence education programs for teens.

The proposal, offered by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), would provide $50 million per year through 2014 exclusively for abstinence education programs. The measure would effectively reinstate the controversial Title V program, which offered $50 million per year to states for abstinence education, but prohibited them from tapping the funds for other sex-ed subjects like contraception. The same prohibition would accompany the Hatch amendment. “Abstinence education works,” the Utah Republican said.

The vote was 12 to 11, with Democratic Sens. Blanche Lincoln (Ark.) and Kent Conrad (N.D.) voting with every Republican to secure passage of the measure.

Hatch, defending the truly ridiculous government spending, said, "Abstinence education works."

No, Orrin.  It doesn't. 

The facts have been stubborn on this. The nonpartisan National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found that abstinence programs do not affect teenager sexual behavior. A congressionally-mandated study, which was not only comprehensive but also included long-term follow-up, found the exact same thing. Researchers keep conducting studies, and the results are always the same.

Whatever merits one hopes abstience-only education possesses, the bottom line is this: IT DOESN'T WORK.  Yet, the Republicans want to fund it anyway, at the expense — and as part of — a healthcare reform bill intended to bring low-cost affordable health care to everybody.

Insane.

Friedman’s Must-Read

NYT columnist Thomas Friedman recalls not too long ago when Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was accused by his political opponents of being a socialist, a Nazi, a treasonous villian, etc.  That all pretty much ended when Rabin was assassinated in 1995.

Friedman today writes that what we're seeing in America now is much the same thing:

Others have already remarked on this analogy, but I want to add my voice because the parallels to Israel then and America today turn my stomach: I have no problem with any of the substantive criticism of President Obama from the right or left. But something very dangerous is happening. Criticism from the far right has begun tipping over into delegitimation and creating the same kind of climate here that existed in Israel on the eve of the Rabin assassination.

What kind of madness is it that someone would create a poll on Facebook asking respondents, “Should Obama be killed?” The choices were: “No, Maybe, Yes, and Yes if he cuts my health care.” The Secret Service is now investigating. I hope they put the jerk in jail and throw away the key because this is exactly what was being done to Rabin.

Even if you are not worried that someone might draw from these vitriolic attacks a license to try to hurt the president, you have to be worried about what is happening to American politics more broadly.

Our leaders, even the president, can no longer utter the word “we” with a straight face. There is no more “we” in American politics at a time when “we” have these huge problems — the deficit, the recession, health care, climate change and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — that “we” can only manage, let alone fix, if there is a collective “we” at work.

Sometimes I wonder whether George H.W. Bush, president “41,” will be remembered as our last “legitimate” president. The right impeached Bill Clinton and hounded him from Day 1 with the bogus Whitewater “scandal.” George W. Bush was elected under a cloud because of the Florida voting mess, and his critics on the left never let him forget it.

And Mr. Obama is now having his legitimacy attacked by a concerted campaign from the right fringe. They are using everything from smears that he is a closet “socialist” to calling him a “liar” in the middle of a joint session of Congress to fabricating doubts about his birth in America and whether he is even a citizen. And these attacks are not just coming from the fringe. Now they come from Lou Dobbs on CNN and from members of the House of Representatives.

Again, hack away at the man’s policies and even his character all you want. I know politics is a tough business. But if we destroy the legitimacy of another president to lead or to pull the country together for what most Americans want most right now — nation-building at home — we are in serious trouble. We can’t go 24 years without a legitimate president — not without being swamped by the problems that we will end up postponing because we can’t address them rationally.

The American political system was, as the saying goes, “designed by geniuses so it could be run by idiots.” But a cocktail of political and technological trends have converged in the last decade that are making it possible for the idiots of all political stripes to overwhelm and paralyze the genius of our system.

Those factors are: the wild excess of money in politics; the gerrymandering of political districts, making them permanently Republican or Democratic and erasing the political middle; a 24/7 cable news cycle that makes all politics a daily battle of tactics that overwhelm strategic thinking; and a blogosphere that at its best enriches our debates, adding new checks on the establishment, and at its worst coarsens our debates to a whole new level, giving a new power to anonymous slanderers to send lies around the world.

As if to prove Friedman's point, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele responded to Friedman's editorial by calling Friedman "a nut job".

Also proving Friedman's point, an op-ed in Newsmax appeared yesterday endorsing a potential military coup as the only way to solve the "Obama problem".  Newsmax appears to have taken down its article, but here's the full text of the article as it originally appeared.

The article not only endorsed the idea but seemed to suggest that top military brass were also planning or actively considering such an option.  That, however, is dubious.  In his Washington Post column, former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson acknowledges that “military leaders seem impressed” with President Obama’s decision-making process. “Obama’s engaged, deliberate style has fans in the military,” he writes.

My Take On Roman Polanski

Yes, the 13 year old victim, now in her 40's, has long since forgiven him.

Yes, the victim's mother at the time was apparently some freaked out fame wannabe, and put her daughter in that position.

Yes, it was a long time ago.

Yes, he's famous.

But here's the thing.  A crime is a crime.  He committed a crime.  He pled gulity to it, before he fled.  That's all that matters.  And crimes, by the way, are crimes against the state (that's why criminal cases are typical title "The People versus Joe Smith"), so it doesn't matter what the victim says now.

And it doesn't matter how long ago it happened (no statute of limitations once you've pled guilty).

And it certainly doesn't matter that he makes movies.

Poll Results: 15,000 Women Rank Lovers By Nationality

Telegraph:

WORLD'S WORST LOVERS:

1. Germany (too smelly)
2. England (too lazy)
3. Sweden (too quick)
4. Holland (too dominating)
5. America (too rough)
6. Greece (too lovey-dovey)
7. Wales (too selfish)
8. Scotland (too loud)
9. Turkey (too sweaty)
10. Russia (too hairy)

WORLD'S BEST LOVERS

1. Spain
2. Brazil
3. Italy
4. France
5. Ireland
6. South Africa
7. Australia
8. New Zealand
9. Denmark
10. Canada

One wonders about these women who apparently have slept around enough to be able to make these comparisons in the first place.

Pancake Porn

An strangely intriguing industrial film about a robotic device which can stack pancakes at 400 ppm (pancakes per minute)

Mmmm…. pancakes…..

[Via Mental Floss]

Red Sox In Postseason

Losing five in a row will get you a wild card spot only because Texas lost three in a row.

Not awe-inspiring, but I'll take it.

Still, they will have to get their mojo on as they face Anaheim post season.  No slouching across the finish line against guys like that.

Lots O’ Sex at my Alma Mater

I graduated from Tufts University, as did my sister and brother-in-law.  And my nephew attends it now.

So this caught my eye:

Tufts University, just outside Boston, has issued a new policy for the 2009-2010 school year regarding sexual activity in dorms.

Here's the key update in the revised campus handbook:

You may not engage in sexual activity while your roommate is present in the room.

Any sexual activity within your assigned room should not ever deprive your roommate(s) of privacy, study, or sleep time.

The Boston Herald says the changes came in response to student gripes about "rambunctious roomies and their raunchy romps."

I suspect this is a problem at all universities, not just Tufts.

God, I hope so.

Who’s Afraid of the Public Option?

The Senate Finance Committee is debating whether a public option amendment should be added to their bill.  As expected, Republicans and Blue Dog Dems are opposed.

But, listening to their debate here in the background all day, their arguments against the public option are all the same: government-imposed rationing, long wait times, bureaucrats making treatment decisions, etc.

In other words, it's a bad program that doesn't work (they claim).

What doesn't get said, and what needs desparately to be said, is that the public option is designed to compete with private insurance.  And people can choose the public option (if they want) or stay with their private insurance.

So… even IF the public option turns out to be the terrible nightmare that Republicans claim, what's the downside?  If it's going to be that bad, then people simply won't choose it, right?  So, private insurance companies "win"; it won't cost much to run, etc.

And yet, some Republicans claim that the public options is just a stepping stone to a single payer system, where there are no private insurance companies.  Well, how will that work, if the public option will be so terrible?

You see, it's a shell game.  The truth is that Republicans fear the public option, not because it won't work, but because they fear it will work.  They fear, and rightly so, that on a level-playing feel, insurance companies will fare badly, and (at worst) have to adjust their business practices to be more consumer-friendly. 

UPDATE: Senate Finance Committee votes 15-8 against Rockefeller amendment on public option.

But there's still the public option amendment offered by Sen. Chuck Schumer.  That's up now…

UPDATE:… which loses 13-10.

Has-Been Kirk Cameron’s Latest Hijinx

The former Growing Pains star, who has gone full-blown creationist now that the plum roles are no longer coming his way, has teamed up with other anti-evolutionists in what he imagines to be a clever ploy to teach people about how bad evolutionary science is:

The ‘Growing Pains’ alum released a video last week announcing that on Nov. 19, he and other Creationist activists will distribute a special ‘Species’ [Darwin’s Origin of Species] with a 50-page intro that slams evolution and paints Darwin as both racist and misogynistic and explicitly highlights “Adolph Hitler’s undeniable connection to the theory.”

Man, Hitler hasn’t had this much airplay since the days of Hitler.  Seriously, can we STOP it with the Hitler already?!?  (By the way, Obama is in Denmark today pushing for the Olympics to come to Chicago.  And you know who else hosted the Olympics?  Hitler!!!)

But Kirk’s logic is laughably fallacious.  I’m not saying Darwin was/wasn’t racist and misogynistic — I honestly have no idea — but assuming he was, what does that mean?  It means nothing.  If the Grandwizard of the KKK said that “2+2=4”, he’s still correct, isn’t he, regardless of his racist views?  Or do we reject math?

And sure.  Hitler believed in a “superior race” which was rather loosely based on “survival of the fittest” — a concept coined and popularized by Darwin.  But Hitler’s “undeniable connection” to evolution means that evolution is… what, exactly?  It only means that he bastardized and corrupted the work of Darwin, at worst.

By the way, Kirk, what about Hitler’s “connection” to Christianity?  From Mein Kampf, here’s what Hitler said about the Jewish person:

“His life is only of this world, and his spirit is inwardly as alien to true Christianity as his nature two thousand years previous was to the great founder of the new doctrine… Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.”

So maybe other people should go around on November 19 passing around Bibles on college campuses, complete with a 50-page introduction discussing the apostles’ support of slavery and Hitler’s undeniable connection to Christianity.

Right, Kirk?

UPDATE:  Love this…

Document Dump

Remember a few months ago when a bunch of black kids from a day camp tried to go swimming in a community pool (permission having been granted by the pool's Board of Driectors), and were then told to leave because some of the pool members (all white) complained?

The Human Relations Committee came out with a damning report this past week.  You can read it here (PDF), but the bottom line is this:

The commission ordered the club to pay a $50,000 civil penalty for the club's discrimation again one child, whose parents filed the complaint with the commission.

The report also orders Valley Club to pay other damages, including reimbursing the parent who filed the complaint for all related expenses. If there is no settlement made between the parent, the club and the commission, either party can request a public hearing before the commission and can after that be challenged in court.

The $50,000 civil penalty is to be paid to state government, under terms of the finding.

Palin Memoir Due In November; English Translation To Follow

HuffPo:

NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report) – A memoir by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin will be published this November, with an English translation due shortly thereafter, her publisher confirmed today.

According to Carol Foyler, a spokesperson for the publisher, translators are working "around the clock" to translate Ms. Palin's text into English.

"We have hired the best linguists in the country, but this is still hard work," Ms. Foyler acknowledged. "It must have been easier to crack the Enigma code in World War II."

Ms. Foyler said that the publishing company was "delighted" with Ms. Palin's manuscript and "deeply relieved that she didn't quit in the middle of it."

400 pages.  In four months. 

And no, Sarah didn't write it.  It's no secret that the actual author is someone named Lynn Vincent who co-wrote Donkey Cons: Sex, Crime, and Corruption in the Democratic Party.

Other reactions, compiled by The New Yorker:

“Many in the mainstream media will also be eager to see how the Republican hockey mom praises them for their objective portrayals of her—and, indeed, her entire family—all last fall.”—L.A. Times Top of the Ticket

“Harper … has moved the release date up from the spring to November 17. That gives Palin followers just less than two months to learn how to read.”—Faded Youth

“I’ve come to learn that if Palin is involved in anything in any way, shape, or form, then the chance of batshit insane things happening increases exponentially. Even if it’s her dictating her “life story” to a ghostwriter. She is like the King Midas of batshit crazy.”—Balloon Juice

“The world will discover the true Sarah Palin and the truth to which we have not heretofore had access. She will give the public her own unfiltered message—untainted by the likes of the agenda-ridden mainstream media. You might want to get in line now.”—Sarah's Web Brigade

“The book was slated for the spring, but was finished so why not get it out in time for holiday sales?”—Elect-SarahPalin.com

“She needs the money sooner because her handler, Meg Stapleton, screwed up the negotiations for last week’s Hong Kong speaking debut by inadvertently agreeing that Palin would be compensated in Chinese Renminbis rather than U.S. Dollars.”—Lynnrockets

“Sarah Palin finishes memoir, a 400 page pop-up book. Comes with free Crayons, Palin-English dictionary, aspirin.”—Muck Rack

“In lieu of sanctions, copies of former US Vice President hopeful Sarah Palin's memoir 'Going Rogue' will be air dropped over the entire country of Iran. The US State Department commented, "If we cannot starve them, we will bore them to death.”—Trans Talk

“I guess ‘Goin’ All Mavericky’ was taken?”—Beach Peanuts

“Normally I don’t like political books with a lot of photos, but this is an exception. There’s nothing I like more than a girl with a plan … especially when that girl is Sarah Palin.”—Be John Gault

“Remember how I have been warning that she was going to be free to roll around the country like a loose cannon? Well, that time has come upon us, just in time for the 2010 campaign stumping.”—God's Own Party?

Supreme Court Cases I’m Following: At A Glance

Case Summary Where did the case come from?  Government position My position My prediction for outcome
9/9/2009 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Whether to overrule precedents upholding state and federal limits on corporate political spending. D.C. Circuit No No Yes
10/6/2009 U.S. v. Stevens Can the government criminalize selling dogfight videotapes or other depictions of animal cruelty? 3rd Circuit Yes No No
10/7/2009 Salazar v. Buono Can an individual challenge a cross on property the government transferred to a private organization? 9th Circuit No No No
11/2/2009 Jones v. Harris Associates Can an investor challenge a mutual-fund adviser for charging excessive fees? 7th Circuit Yes Yes No
11/3/2009 Hemi Group LLC v. City of New York Can a city use civil RICO lawsuit to collect cigarette taxes? 2nd Circuit N/A No No
11/4/2009 Pottawattamie County, IA v. McGhee May a prosecutor be sued for allegedly using false testimony to win a conviction? 8th Circuit No Yes Yes
11/9/2009 Graham v. Florida Can a juvenile offender be sentenced to life without parole for a non-homicide crime? Florida Supreme Court N/A No No
11/9/2009 Bilski v. Kappos Must a business method patent be tied to a particular machine or apparatus,” or transform something "into a different state or thing," to be valid? Federal Circuit Yes Yes Yes
12/2/2009 Stop the Beach Renourishment Inc. v. Florida Does a state program to replenish eroded beaches for public use unconstitutionally deprive coastal property owners of their private ocean access? Florida Supreme Court N/A No No
Not yet scheduled U.S. v. Comstock Do federal prisons have the authority to hold "sexually dangerous" inmates past their sentences out of fear they will violate state law? 4th Circuit Yes No No
Not yet scheduled American Needle Inc. v. NFL Extent of NFL monopoly over individual team logos 7th Circuit Not yet filed

Teams, not NFL, control team logos Teams, not NFL, control team logos
Not yet scheduled Florida v. Powell Does merely telling the accused that he can "talk to attorney" meet the Miranda rights requirement? Florida Supreme Court N/A No No

NEXT DAY UPDATE:  Add one more — a biggie — to the list:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Supreme Court will decide whether the constitutional right of individuals to own firearms trumps state and local laws, reviving the legal battle over gun rights in America.

The high court said Wednesday it agreed to decide the reach of its landmark ruling last year that the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guaranteed an individual right to own guns and use them for lawful purposes like self-defense in the home.

Gun rights cases have been among the country's most divisive social, political and legal issues. The Supreme Court split, in a 5-4 vote, between the conservative and liberal factions, in the 2008 ruling.

The court last year prohibited the federal government from imposing certain restrictions, but it left unclear whether the right also applied to state and local gun control laws.

The Supreme Court said in a brief order it would settle that question by ruling in a dispute over a strict gun control law in Chicago.

Not The Strongest Defense

The Vatican addresses the whole clergy-pedophilia thing:

The statement, read out by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's permanent observer to the UN, defended its record by claiming that "available research" showed that only 1.5%-5% of Catholic clergy were involved in child sex abuse.

Oh… "only 1.5% to 5%"?  Is that all?

Imagine that pedophile statistic being applied to, say, public school teachers.

P.S.  The Vatican would also like you to note that the Protestant and Jewish faiths have their fair share of pedophilia problems, thankyouverymuch.

So noted.

Loon River

Count in singer and still-not-dead Andy Williams as a teabagger:

"Don't like him at all," he said, "I think he wants to create a socialist country. The people he associates with are very Left-wing. One is registered as a Communist.

"Obama is following Marxist theory. He's taken over the banks and the car industry. He wants the country to fail."

It's okay to cut Andy some slack.  he's got to be close to senility by now.

“Hostile Toward Christianity”

Blogger Tom McMahon thinks that the National Park Service is "hostile toward Christianity" because it recommends that its publications use BCE (before common era) instead of BC, and CE (common era) instead of AD.  From the editorial style guide of HFC:

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Since when does adopting neutral non-religious writing style become "hostile toward Christianity"?

That's the problem with some of these people.  They think that if you don't bend toward Christianity, you're "hostile" to it.

Yeah, People… Seriously. You Don’t Want To Be Embarrassed Like This.

Hugh Jackman, performing in previews of "Steady Rain" (opening September 29), stops the performance for a cell phone ring in the audience.  Happened last Wednesday.

AP:

NEW YORK – Hugh Jackman knows how to stop the show. He did it recently when a cell phone call interrupted a preview performance of "A Steady Rain," the Broadway play that stars Jackman and Daniel Craig. The moment captured on an amateur video shown by the TMZ.com Web site appears to have been recorded by someone in the audience.

It shows Jackman breaking character to tell the owner of the ringing cell phone, "You want to get that?" as the audience erupts in cheers. As the ringing persists, Jackman pleads: "Come on, just turn it off." He then paces the stage of the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, waits about a minute for the ringing to stop and the play resumes.

Producers of "A Steady Rain" declined to comment.

The interruption occurred during an intense moment in the play, when Jackman's character, a Chicago policeman, reveals haunting memories.

A customary loudspeaker announcement reminds theatergoers to turn off their phones. Since the incident, ushers who seat patrons and pass out playbills at Schoenfeld are also instructing patrons to silence their phones.

"A Steady Rain," a taut drama about the relationship between two policemen, opens Tuesday for a limited engagement through Dec. 6. The play by Keith Huff already has proven to be a potent box-office winner, playing to capacity audiences since it began previews on Sept. 10.

Knickers Twisted

Letter to the Editor recently:

Increasingly common

My wife and I recently attended a performance of Moonlight and Magnolias at Twin City Stage ("Movie Stage," Sept. 13). What we were hoping for was a wholesome comedy. What we experienced was a profanity-laced production that made frequent use of a variety of obscene language.

This is the type of language that is becoming increasingly common not only at Twin City Stage and in movie theaters, but also throughout our society.

A sewage pond is not pleasant to smell. Most people would try to avoid being anywhere near it. Yet, it seems as if many people in our society today don't mind hearing — and even speaking — obscenities.

Ephesians 4:29 instructs us to "let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth."

Likewise, Colossians 3:8 instructs us to rid ourselves of "filthy language out of your mouth."

It would be no stretch to assume these biblical passages also imply that Christians shouldn't casually stand by and listen to such language when it is spoken by others. Such language not only contaminates the person who is speaking, but may also contaminate those who are listening to it. Consider what the psalmist says in Psalm 19:14: "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer."

How pleased God would be if each of us tried to honor him through the words we speak and the words to which we listen.

HARVEY E. ARMOUR
Winston-Salem

Ah, vox populli.

My favorite paragraph starts:

It would be no stretch to assume these biblical passages also imply that Christians shouldn't casually stand by and listen to such language when it is spoken by others.

"No stretch to assume these biblical passages also imply…?"  In other words, he's saying the Bible commands him to condemn, although it actually doesn't.

People like Mr. Armour drive me nuts.  It's not his objection to foul language.  It's his supposition that we all must conform to his sensiblities.  I call it the "prude veto".  Mr. Armour can choose to live his life as he chooses, and take whatever steps he needs to avoid the cesspool of language which offends him so.  There are off buttons on remote controls.  There are knowledgeable people at the theater who can tell you language content.  But to sanitize all things — especially all entertainment — to cater to the the likes of Mr. Armour is simply ludicrous.

People, in this country, you're allowed to clutch your pearls and swoon onto the fainting couch.  You're not allowed to make other people do that.  It's one thing to ask people to respect your religion; quite another to ask them to respect your taboos.

Anti-Government Sentiment Leads To Murder?

What happens when you gin up anti-government sentiment among the rightwing nuts?

The AP is reporting that Bill Sparkman, a 51-year-old part-time Census field worker and occasional teacher, was found hung to death in Kentucky with the word “fed” was scrawled on the dead man’s chest. Investigators are still trying to determine the motive, but “law enforcement officers have told the agency the matter is ‘an apparent homicide.’” “Our job is to determine if there was foul play involved — and that’s part of the investigation — and if there was foul play involved, whether that is related to his employment as a census worker,” said FBI spokesman David Beyer.

Before AP the report came out, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), in an interview today with Politico, exhibited bad timing:

[Cantor] expressed frustration with [Speaker of the House Nancy] Pelosi’s suggestion last week that the vitriol injected into the health reform debate could end in violence akin to the assassination of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone in the 1970s. “I think she’s living in another world — I really do,” Cantor said of the California Democrat.

Um….. not so much.

Making News…. Literally

Media Matters has some interesting (and unfortunately non-embeddable) video of Fox News at the 9/12 rally.

Actually, it's two videos.  One is what was telecast — Glenn Beck talking to a reporter on the scene of the D.C. mall during the 9/12 rally.  Beck was saying to the reporter that critics of the rally were saying it was all staged/astroturfed, etc.

The second video is the same thing, but you don't see or hear Glenn Beck.  Instead, you see the reporter, the camera, and the Fox News producer cueing the crowd behind the reporter to cheer.  You know, like it was a studio audience.

That's right — while Glenn Beck was trying to get the message across to the TV viewers that the event was all natural and not-staged, the Fox News TV crew was directing the crowd behind the reporter when to cheer, trying to whip up enthusiasm.

Videos are here.

The news director of the segment was subsequently reprimanded.  In a letter to the entire Fox News staff, the managing director of Fox News had to remind the entire Fox News staff that Fox News exists to cover the news, not create it… which is kind of like the Criminal Defense Division of the American Bar Association sending a memo out saying that criminal defense lawyers are supposed to litigate on behalf of accused people, and not go out and commit crimes themselves.

Seriously, where did these people go to journalism school, and how could Fox hire them?  And retain them after commiting such breaches of journalistic ethics?

Keith Olbermann covered this, as well as the Fox News advertisement which — there's no other way to put it — lied about the facts.

Project Icarus

Attach a GPS enabled cellphone and a camera to a helium balloon and what happens?

Okay, Project Icarus, devised by MIT students, involved a little bit more than that, but it was still decidedly low-tech.  The whole contraption cost $148 for everything — the balloon, the helium, the cellphone, the GPS tracking software, etc.

The launch was September 2.

Prelaunch-225x300

The balloon reach an altitude of 93,000 feet (about 17.5 miles) taking photos all the way up.  It went up for over 3 hours, entering near-space orbit, and was able to take photos of the curve of the Earth. 

Thumb-300x225

That's Long Island in the background. 

At that point, it popped, and plunged to Earth (a 40 minute trip down).  The GPS phone allowed the students to locate the package.  (It was launched from Sudbury, Mass, and landed in Worcester, Mass.)

Read more at their website.

Quote From The Values Voters Summit This Weekend

TPM reports:

Sen. Tom Coburn's (R-OK) chief of staff Michael Schwartz made the case against pornography. "All pornography is homosexual pornography," said Schwartz, quoting an ex-gay friend of his, "because all pornography turns your sexual drive inwards."

Schwartz then explained the side benefit of this finding — that if boys know pornography will make them gay, they'll never touch it, taking advantage of what Schwartz sees as a natural homophobia. "And if you tell an 11-year-old boy about that, do you think he's going to want to get a copy of Playboy?" he said. "I'm pretty sure he'll lose interest. That's the last thing he wants!"

You know what?  I'd be interested in putting that to the test.  Because I'll bet that if you tell 11 year old boys that reading Playboy will make them gay, most 11 year old boys will say "Okay.  Whatever.  I'll be gay.  Now gimme my Playboy".

By the way,what Schwartz is advocating is using lies to manipulate young people.  Think about that.  Lies.  At a Values Voters Summit.

Oh By The Way…

The Rapture is scheduled for today.  You can read the evidence here, but basically it all boils down to this sine wave graph (click to embiggen):

Time_wave

I hope you are using your last day wisely….

P.S.  Anyone up for some pre-rapture sexual adventures?

Poor Orly Taitz

Orly Taitz is an attorney and a doctor and she's the one filing all these lawsuits trying to prove that Obama was actually a Kenyan.

Having had one of her cases thrown out of federal court last week (with an admonishment from the judge that if she continues to waste the court's time, she'll be fined), now she's the object of conspiracy theories, apparently.  My how the worm turns:

Please don't listen to vicious rumors
Attorney Orly Taitz responds to her critics

I am getting close to removing the Usurper, and there are more and more vicious rumors about me and my whole family. It is 5:30 in the morning and I had to cut on sleep yet again to take some time and debunk all those vicious rumors.

The Usurper is a Batman villian now, I think.

First, there was a rumor that there is a declaration by Larry Sinclair filed with court. Please, go on Pacer, it is a public record. There is nothing there, no such declaration. People need to understand that a person cannot just come from the street and file a declaration or an affidavit. It has to be filed by a party to the action. Either I, as an attorney for the plaintiffs, or the attorney for the defendants, assistant U.S. attorney, would file something. Neither I nor the U.S. attorney filed any such affidavit or declaration.

Dr. Orly Taitz learned that in law school.  And I use the word "in" advisedly.  You see, she received a law degree from William Howard Taft Law School.  Which is a "distance learning" law school only.  So she wasn't IN law school.  Also, Taft isn't accredited by the ABA.  No, I'm not kidding.

There was a rumor that there was some complaint filed with the CA bar and I was disbarred. None of it is true. Please go on the web site of CA bar and see that I am an attorney in good standing and never had any action against me.

Not yet, anyway.

There was a rumor that Philip Berg somehow became part of my case with judge Carter and filed a subpoena to ambassador of Kenya as part of this case. Again, Berg has nothing to do with this case. There is nothing in the case having to do with Berg.

Berg is another birther attorney who also gets his cases routinely thrown out of court.  That's why it's easy to understand why so many people apparently think the two are working together.

Lastly, there was a vicious rumor that my husband is somehow connected with swine flu and swine flu vaccine. Again, ridiculous rumor.

My husband studied computer science and business. He never studied pharmacology, doesn't know pharmacology and wouldn't know the difference between a virus and an elephant.

One doesn't need to study phramacology to know the difference between a virus and an elephant.

He is a CEO of a company that produces a software, which is a tool used in research.

Whoa there, Einstein!  You're going to fast.  Now what is this "software" thing of which you speak?

It is used by many universities in the country. It is used in agriculture research, in chemical research, in any research that deals with molecules and computation of properties of molecules, that are being synthesised. There are millions and millions of molecules in the world. New ones are being synthesised every day, my husband has no clue what different companies are doing in their research. It is similar to any other software that is used as a tool.

So he makes software used for agricultural research and molecules.  Actually, that does connect him with the swine flu — just as much as Obama's grandparents being Kenyan connects Obama to Kenya.

There is an accounting software, quicken. A computer engineer, who invented this software didn't become your accountant, didn't enter the information in your tax returns. Microsoft Word or Word Perfect is used by many writers, but it didn't make Microsoft a poet or a comedian or a screen writer. Microsoft Word or Word Perfect is just a tool.

No, no.  I'm sorry.  I'm just not following you, Orly.

I hope I explained this point and wouldn't have to go to it again.

That makes two of us.

My husband is a good man, he is a devoted father and he is there for our three sons when I am travelling around the country raising support for Obama's illegitimacy issue, when I am in court fighting to make sure this country doesn't turn into another Communist Hell, as I experienced as a child, so we don't live under Dictator Obama with all his szars like another Himler or Herring or another Beria.

In other words, your husband behaves responsibly, while his kids' mommy is annoying the country on her Dingbat Tour.

By the way, I know there are many ways to spell "czars" — or "tsars" — but "szars" is a new one for me.

I hope people stop attacking my family and start attacking Obama and demand that he produce his vital records immediately or resign or be removed immediately. Judge Carter has written "Court encourages discovery before the scheduling conference (it is on October 5th)" I have submitted a proposed deposition schedule. Let's make sure Obama shows up for his deposition with his hospital birth certificate ready for examination.

Yeah.  Don't hold your breath.

UPDATE:  It gets funnier as the day goes on.

TPM posted a letter one of Orly's clients, telling her to stop representation.  Orly now says the letter is a forgery.  Yup, Obama birth certificate is a forgery; so is the letter from her ex-client.

Here's what Orly wrote TPM today:

I don't know if this letter came from her, since she is in Iraq now and the Office -max store from where it came, states that they don't send faxes for customers. The signature on her notarized letter from Kansas and this letter looks different.
Regardless, whether it is her or not, there is no ground for accusations. She authorized me to proceed with the legal action. Motion for reconsideration is a routine procedure and attorney is not required to get an additional consent from the client. Any attorney will confirm that. That is particularly true in exigent circumstances like these.

Wrong, Orly.  You can't do squat without the client's permission, especially when the client tells you to cease and desist.

It appears Connie was pressured by the military. It appear to be a concerted effort to quash all free speech, particularly any legal challenges to Obama's legitimacy, Attorney Hemenway in DC was threatened with sanctions of $10,000, I was threatened with sanctions. Connie Rhodes was threatened with high costs of litigation to be paid to the Department of Defense and Department of Justice. It is possible that this letter was written to avoid paying high litigation costs.

So the letter is from her now, and she was pressured?

The most important question is still on the table: why would the judge levy $10,000 in sanctions instead of instructing Obama to produce a real Hospital birth certificate with a name of the hospital name of the doctor and signatures , so we can locate this birthing file? Why go to such extend?

Because your case is bullshit?

 The only answer is: that the administration is scared, they know they have nothing to show for except for the piece of JPG garbage that Obama posted on the Internet (no name of the hospital, no name of the doctor).

Yes, of course.  And the judge is.. uh… in on it?

Well, all good that ends good. This threat of sanctions gives me an opportunity to demand rule 11 discovery and get all of Obama' records through the back door

Orly Taitz DDS Esq

Uh, you're going to lose your license, dear. 

And by the way, no discovery under Rule 11.

New Rightwing Outrage: The Arts

Yup.  That's what you're going to hear about, starting this week and going on for the next few weeks.

Here's the "scandal" in a nutshell, as described by the rightwing "journalist" who "broke" it:

I was invited by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to take part in a conference call that invited a group of rising artist and art community luminaries “to help lay a new foundation for growth, focusing on core areas of the recovery agenda – health care, energy and environment, safety and security, education, community renewal.” 

Now if you read his article in full, he goes on to speculate:

Could the National Endowment for the Arts be looking to the art community to create an environment amenable to the administration’s positions?

As you should know by now, the answer to that question isn't relevant to the noisy conservative anti-Obamites.  They will assume this is true, and within days, you'll be hearing (cue Glenn Beck) a lot about how we're going down the path of Leni Riefenstahl and Joseph Goebbels, those formidable Nazi propagandists.

None of it, of course, is true.  Even if a work of art — whether it be a song, play, movie, drawing, whatever — is ostensibly about, say, health care, it doesn't necessarily have to be "amenable to the administration's positions", and nothing that happened in the August 10 conference call, or in any NEA materials requires that it has to be, in order to receive funding. 

And even if some bit of NEA-supported art does arguably support the administration's position on one of these issues (and what would that look like anyway?  "Public Option: The Musical"???), the NEA supports and finances TONS of things, most of which doesn't have an "agenda"-driven message at all.

And then there's things like this, which you can find right on the NEA website:

In 2008, U.S. Armed Forces active duty troops and veterans of both current and past conflicts will have an in-depth opportunity to reflect on their service through the National Endowment for the Arts’ groundbreaking initiative Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime ExperienceOperation Homecoming will host writing workshops at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers, military hospitals, and affiliated centers in communities around the country. 

Or another NEA National Initiative: the Great American Voices Military Bases Tour, which bring opera and American musicals to military bases.

None of this, of course, will matter to the rightwing propagandists at all.  They are going to be using the ACORN template to try to bring down the NEA.

Associated Press Analysis: “‘Racist’ Claims Defuse Once Powerful Word”

Shorter version:

Except that the AP analysis is actually kind of stupid and facile:

Everybody's racist, it seems.

Republican Rep. Joe Wilson? Racist, because he shouted "You lie!" at the first black president. Health care protesters, affirmative action supporters? Racist. And Barack Obama? He's the "Racist in Chief," wrote a leader of the recent conservative protest in Washington.

But if everybody's racist, is anyone?

The word is being sprayed in all directions, creating a hall of mirrors that is draining the scarlet R of its meaning and its power, turning it into more of a spitball than a stigma.

As Digby says, this kind of analysis is very conveeeenient for the actual racists.

Look.  There is quite a difference between seeking diversity in college admissions or in the workplace, and blatently suggesting, as Rush Limbaugh did this week, that we should return to segregated school busses because the black kids beat up the white kids.  The latter is racist; the former is not — and the fact that some may CALL the former "racism" doesn't make it so.

I don't think we're at the point in this society — nowhere near — where privileged white men — and so far, all the complaints of "black racism" have come from privileged white men — can complain about being victimized.  Just because we have a black president doesn't mean the "racist" epithet is now fair game for people of all colors.  It just means we've made progress. 

But does anyone think that young black teens are no longer stopped by police for "driving while black"?  Does anyone think that the power structure in D.C. and on Wall Street isn't disproportionately run by white men, and that there isn't a backlash because that is (in some minds) threatened?  Does anyone think that when it comes to hiring and firing in corporate America, such decisions are made in a way that affects all races equally?

Our society is still racist, and that racism is overwhelming slanted against minorities.  In fact, the fact that a minority cannot rise to prominence — whether it be on the Supreme Court (Sotomayor) or President (Obama) — without those on the right (and in the South) making some note (if not disparagement) of their race only proves that "racism" is not "equal".

No, there are no white sheets.  But the sentiment is there, strong as ever.  In fact, it's being emboldened and, as Carter says, bubbling to the surface.

What Happens When Fox Pundits Get Out-crazied and Start Getting Real?

Check out this tidbit from Bill O'Reilly's show last night:

O’REILLY: The public option now is done. We discussed this, it’s not going to happen. But you say that this little marketplace that they’re going to set up, whereby the federal government would subsidize insurance for some Americans, that is, in your opinion, a public option?

OWCHARENKO: Well, it has massive new federal regulation. So you don’t necessarily need a public option if the federal government is going to control and regulate the type of health insurance that Americans can buy.

O’REILLY: But you know, I want that, Ms. Owcharenko. I want that. I want, not for personally for me, but for working Americans, to have a option, that if they don’t like their health insurance, if it’s too expensive, they can’t afford it, if the government can cobble together a cheaper insurance policy that gives the same benefits, I see that as a plus for the folks.

That really seems like an endorsement of some kind of public option, or, at least the general theory behind the public option…. from Bill O'Reilly.

See, I think he's being outflanked on his right by the bi-polarism of Beck, and he probably figures — "Well, I might as well be honest now since Beck is getting all the attention."

Pop Quiz

Today, President Obama, decided not to deploy a long-range missile defense system in eastern Europe and instead, deploy a short-range missile defense system to dampen the possible threat of short-range missiles coming from Iran, because Iran is nowhere near capable of developing long-range missles

The conservative blog reaction can best be described as:

(1)  Thoughtful consideration of the facts and intelligence and voicing reasonable objections.

(2)  Going batshit insane, calling Obama a secret Muslim, etc.

No answer below the fold.  You got it right.

Let Me Ask The Obvious

The Senate Finance committee hunkered down to come up with a healthcare reform bill. 

And they had a choice: either come up with a bipartisan healthcare reform bill that Republicans wouldn't vote for, or a partisan healthcare reform bill that Republicans wouldn't vote for.

Why did they choose the former? (It's clear that nobody likes the Baucus bill).

Okay, THIS Is Exhibit A On Why I Get Frustrated With Teabaggers

I don't mind Obama opposition in general, and concerns about exploding the deficits are more than reasonable concerns.  Heck, make a coherent argument against anything I support, and I'll listen and consider it.

My problem with many — if not most — of the Tea Party protesters is that — well, how shall I say it — they're idiots.  They simply don't understand how things work, so they're not in a position to criticize.

The classic example are the senior citizens who are on — and like – Medicare, but who loudly voice their opposition to any form of government-run healthcare.  Do they have low IQs or are they just uninformed?  Is there a brain severance that prevents them from understanding that the kind of thing they protest is something they actually like

Doesn't matter, really.  At the end of the day, one can dismiss their viewpoints as, at best, noise.

And today we have another example. 

Last weekend, a large number of tea party protesters descended on Washington, D.C. to protest the — well, they really didn't have a unifed message, but generally, it was against government.

And apparently, some of them were less-than-satisfied with the service they got from the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA), and found themselves facing crowded trains.  It was difficult to get from point A to point B. 

The irony?  Well, the Washington metro is public transit — in other words, it’s run by big government. Nevertheless, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) has written a letter to WMATA complaining that the service wasn’t good enough for the tea baggers:

“These individuals came all the way from Southeast Texas to protest the excessive spending and growing government intrusion by the 111th Congress and the new Obama administration,” Brady wrote. “These participants, whose tax dollars were used to create and maintain this public transit system, were frustrated and disappointed that our nation’s capital did not make a great effort to simply provide a basic level of transit for them.

That's right.  People opposed to government spending are now calling on government to provide better services.

By the way, they didn't only use public transportation. 

  • Those millions tens of thousands of teabaggers used the facilities of the government-run National Park system.
  • They left a significant amount of trash behind in garbage cans (mostly anti-socialism signs, of course) for the government-run sanitation department to dispose of.
  • They arrived at the Tea Party on government-built and -maintained roads.
  • They relied on government-funded police to provide security.
  • Many of them are on government-provided social security and/or Medicare.

Apparently, many of these people think these things pay for themselves.  Or they want these government services (or better government services), but they just don't want to pay for them.

But Steve Benen takes a closer look at the complaint of Rep. Brady:

Apparently, Brady heard complaints from some of his constituents who traveled to D.C. to protest "big government." They were disappointed to discover, however, that the government hadn't done more to satisfy their public-transportation expectations, and now want other government officials to address the problem.

In some instances, Brady said constituents relied on private enterprise — taxi cabs — rather than the (ahem) public option. The conservative lawmaker described this as a bad thing. Local officials, Brady said, should have made "a great effort to simply provide a basic level of transit" to the public.

Read that sentence again and replace "transit" with "health care coverage."

Touche.

More Reponses of Note

3899329173_b633be5882_o

Dear Mary Claire of Walt Disney Productions:

Is that you in the upper-lefthand corner of your response letter, or the lower-righthand corner?

Because apparently, that's how your misogynistic employers see you — as either a rosy-cheeked virgin, or a ugly hunchback witch.

Clearly, they would never acknowledge that a woman can be anything other than those things – and especially not a creative artist.  Women drawing?  Puh-lease.  We all know that women can only trace and color between the lines.

Mary, it's time to wake up.  Your office is full of a bunch of randy dweebs — seven of them I'll bet — who leer at you while they get all red-faced with lust.  What must your day be like?  "Hike up your skirt a little, Mary" they plead, only to respond with hearty hi-ho when you do.   Pigs.

It's an old boys network, and you need to stand up for the sisterhood and say "enough".

And when they dictate a letter like this one, and ask you type it up, you need to throw your steno pad at them and say, "Type it yourself…. or is that too mundane for you 'creative' types who can't get laid?"

And then storm out, tie one on, and sue their chauvanistic asses.

Just a suggestion.

Sincerely,

The Seventh Sense blog

Reponses of Note

Actual letter:

3927903195_2954fcd3e7_o

Dear Ms. Amato:

Sorry you had to wait over 13 years for a response, but this just came to my attention.

I am not Cameron Mackintosh, nor am I in any way affiliated with "Cats".

That said, when you spend your money to go and attend "Cats", that alone is sufficiently humiliating regardless of what happens during the performance.

Think about that.

Sincerely,

The Seventh Sense blog

45% of Doctors Will Consider Quitting If Healthcare Is Overhauled?

That's what the Investor's Business Daily wants you to believe from their poll.

That really struck me, especially since a more comprehensive non-partisan poll by the New England Journal of Medicine came out showing that "62.9 percent of physicians nationwide support proposals to expand health care coverage that include both public and private insurance options"

I tried to look deeper into this, to find out exactly how IBD had phrased its questions.  Except they're not making that available.  Well, that should be a clue.

Statistician extraordinaire Nate Silver gives some other reason why we should be skeptical of the IBD poll.  Among them:

  • There is virtually no disclosure about methodology. For example, IBD doesn't bother to define the term "practicing physician", which could mean almost anything. Nor do they explain how their randomization procedure worked, provide the entire question battery, or anything like that.
  • At least one of the questions is blatantly biased: "Do you believe the government can cover 47 million more people and it will cost less money and th quality of care will be better?". Holy run-on-sentence, Batman? A pollster who asks a question like this one is not intending to be objective.
  • They say, somewhat ambiguously: "Responses are still coming in." This is also highly unorthodox. Professional pollsters generally do not report results before the survey period is compete.
  • As we learned during the Presidential campaign — when, among other things, they had John McCain winning the youth vote 74-22 — the IBD/TIPP polling operation has literally no idea what they're doing. I mean, literally none. For example, I don't trust IBD/TIPP to have competently selected anything resembling a random panel, which is harder to do than you'd think.

Yeah.  Pretty much as I thought.

Of course, on the face of it, does the conclusion of the poll strike you as plausible?  Will 45% of doctors consider quitting if healthcare is overhauled?

And what praytell will these doctors do for a living?

The Party of Children

First it was "Liar, liar" (embodied in Joe Wilson); now it's "he started it" ("he" = Obama).

My favorite:

After the vote was taken, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) declared on the House floor that Obama had insulted Congress, by saying that his opponents were lying about his health care proposals. "He comes in here talking about a lie … He says we're making wild claims," said Gohmert. "That's no way to act when you're invited into somebody else's house."

(1)  Death panels for granny?  Insurance for illegal immigrants?  Those are lies and wild claims.

(2)  It's not your house, moron.

Tearing The Country Apart

Van Jones, ACORN, and now the video of the school bus brawl.

Anyone notice a pattern of the right-wing targets?

There seems to be a racial pattern to the target-du-jour of the right wing.

The school bus brawl incident is especially noteworthy, because it is clearly race-baiting.  I mean, some kids beat on another kid on a school bus.  Worthy of a national story?  Nope.  But when the kids doing the beating are black, well then…. we're off to the races.

Rush Limbaugh decided President Obama is somehow responsible for this.

"It's Obama's America, is it not? Obama's America, white kids getting beat up on school buses now. You put your kids on a school bus, you expect safety, but in Obama's America the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering, 'Yay, right on, right on, right on, right on,' and, of course, everybody says the white kid deserved it, he was born a racist, he's white."

And it's not just Limbaugh. It's also Malkin, and Gateway Pundit, and Drudge, and Tom Maguire.

Was the attack bad?  Of course.  Was it racially motivated?  There's no evidence — absolutely none — of that.  In fact, it appears to be about a bunch of bullies (who happen to be black) trying to dictate who sits where on the bus.

But that doesn't stop the right from engaging in some good ol' race-baiting that would do George Wallace proud.  The message?  "See what happens now that we've elected a black person?  Those uppity n****ers think they own America now.  And they're coming after us white people."

Which is just the sort of message to fire up the racist base of the GOP.  Why else would Limbaugh et al say such a thing?

Andrew Sullivan is right on the money:

The story was a classic schoolbus bully incident; it could happen anywhere any time and has happened everywhere at all times with kids of all races, backgrounds and religions. To infer both that it was racially motivated and that this is somehow connected to having a black president is repulsive. I know that is almost de trop with Limbaugh, but sometimes you have to regain a little shock. This man is spewing incendiary racial hatred. He is conjuring up images of lonely whites being besieged by angry violent blacks … based on an incident that had nothing to do with race at all. And why, by the way, does someone immediately go to the racial angle when looking at such a tape?

These people are going off the deep end entirely: open panic at a black president is morphing into the conscious fanning of racial polarization, via Gates or ACORN or Van Jones or a schoolbus in St. Louis. What we're seeing is the Jeremiah Wright moment repeated and repeated. The far right is seizing any racial story to fan white fears of black power in order to destroy Obama. And the far right now controls the entire right.

Do they understand how irresponsible this is? How recklessly dangerous to a society's cohesion and calm?

They don't.  Because at their core, they themselves are themselves racist, or, if not, then they're intentionally catering to racists by stirring up racial resentment. ("race-baiting").

Even one conservative is beginning to have second thoughts:

But that's not why I took down the item and the link to the video. I took it down because now we have Rush Limbaugh blaming Obama for black kids beating up a white kid on a school bus. This is what happens in "Obama's America," he said today on his radio show.

How low will these people go? Look, I think it's important to talk about black male violence, or at least as important as it is to talk about any other important social trend. I don't think we should be squeamish about discussing it in a responsible and fair-minded way, despite what the politically correct say. But good grief, Limbaugh is up to something wicked. He's plainly trying to rally white conservatives into thinking that now that we have a black president, blacks are rising up to attack white kids! Christ have mercy, what is wrong with these people?

I won't have anything to do with it, not even tangentially, which is why I took down the post. I can't see this as anything other than Limbaugh deliberately trying to whip up racial fear and loathing of the president. This goes far, far beyond tough criticism of Obama. Does that man Limbaugh have any idea what rough beast he's calling forth?

***

That world [of racism] seems like a thousand years ago. But it only seems so far away because many people worked too hard — and some even gave their lives — to drive those demons out. And now here is Limbaugh, of Palm Beach, and his ilk, calling them back insouciantly, for political advantage. This is evil.

It's undeniably true that black males, as a group, are disproportionately responsible for violent crimes today (and blacks are disproportionately victims, too). This is important to talk about. This means something. I hate the kind of political correctness that demands we pretend not to see what we see. But as far as I'm concerned, if the Limbaughs of the world are going to be doing this kind of thing, and trying to blame, with no logical grounds whatsoever, a black president for black-on-white violence, and if they're going to do this in an increasingly hysterical atmosphere of protest against that black president, I don't want to talk about these things at all. Now is not the time. With this kind of inflammatory rhetoric, they are quite simply tearing the country apart.

Where do they think this is going to go?

UPDATE —  I would remiss to not add Will Bunch to the mix:

Look, there's a lot to talk about with a new president such as Obama, who has a lot of policy proposals on complicated issues like health care or climate change, and so there's a lot there for a thoughtful conservative critique. But that's not where the conversation is going right now – it's all about the shiny black object. Fox News and its out-of-control Howard Beale, the seriously unanchored Glenn Beck, have spent most of the last several weeks focused on two issues: ACORN, and mid-level Obama officials like now-departed so-called "green jobs czar" Van Jones. Jones – did I mention that he is black — and ACORN have both shared a common mission, bringing a dose of political power to poor, mostly urban people who have not had power. And make no mistake, what really scares Beck, Fox News and the vast right-wing media is not the petty fraud of some ACORN employees or a few nutty things that Jones said in his more radical past, but the fact that they will succeed in their legitimate mission of empowering American citizens.
 
There's something else that the right wing finds alarming, and that is Obama's relative success in speaking to the American public in a calm and persuasive manner, as he did last week. I think it is this frustration, the worry that while it's mostly a vast work in progress that the president may not be "failing miserably" as Drudge and some Politico op-ed writer allege but showing signs of success, that have led to the new more overtly racial tone, dragging the current discourse to a low level that didn't seem possible. And so — as Maureen Dowd concluded, also reluctantly — I can't help but feel there was a racial edge to ex-Strom Thurmond acolyte Joe Wilson and his exasperated "You Lie" at the president. It plays right into the toxic narrative that is building on Drudge and talk radio and Fox like a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico.
 
Obama's post-racial America? Good grief, were we really that naive, and so recently? I can honestly say that America right now, on the ides of September 2009, feels more racial, at least to me, today than it has any time in a generation, since I was living in New York City in the era of "Do the Right Thing." And the "Racial America" of Matt Drudge, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and far too many of their millions of "dittoheads" is going to keep getting even more racial — if we don't call them out. 

About ACORN

Well, there's no doubt that ACORN, the community organizing group, has some — shall we say — issues.

What I don't understand is why this is such a victory-lap issue for conservatives, who have been targeting ACORN since Obama became President.  In fact, getting ACORN has been part of a prong in the Beck-driven right's full frontal assualt on Obama.

But what I don't get is why?  Attacking ACORN was kind of like attacking Cindy Sheehan.  When all was said and done, Cindy Sheehan was just one small part of a large anti-war movement, but she wasn't the movement.

In the scheme of Obama politics, ACORN plays even a smaller role that Sheehan did.

So why the crowing about how bad ACORN is?  I'll conceed that the organization has problems (although, to be honest, this really does look like all we're talking about is some "bad apples", and at worst, ACORN needs to do a much better job of training and screening its employees)

But what am I conceeding, in terms of my support for the President? 

Nothing, as far as I can tell.

Aaawwwww. Operation Rescue On Skid Row

WaPo:

Operation Rescue, one of the nation's highest-profile groups in the anti-abortion movement, has told its supporters it is facing a "major financial crisis" and is very close to shutting down unless emergency help arrives soon.

The group's president, Troy Newman, blamed the economic downturn for its money woes in a desperate plea e-mailed Monday night to donors. But the Wichita-based organization has also been under attack from both fringe anti-abortion militants and abortion rights supporters since the May 31 shooting death of Dr. George Tiller.

"We're now so broke (as the saying goes), we can't even pay attention," Newman wrote.

Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of screaming maniacs.

Another Quote Of The Day

“In 2007 I finally made it to the Bush White House as a presidential speechwriter. But it was not at all what I envisioned. It was less like Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing and more like The Office.”

This comes from Matt Latimer, who worked as one of Bush’s speechwriters during the president’s final twenty-two months in office.  He’s got a book coming out, the thrust of which is that the Bush White House was just as dysfunctional and, well, stupid as we all imagined it was.

Here’s a significant excerpt about how Bush dealt with his $700 billion bailout proposal toward the end of his presidency, in the wake of the economic recession and Wall Street’s implosion:

We were faced with a dilemma: Should Bush still go out and address the nation, or should he cancel? And if he did go out, what should he say? Ed, typically, told us to write two drafts for the address to the nation—one outlining the proposal as originally announced and another that only discussed the “principles” the legislation needed to incorporate to win the administration’s support. Chris and I looked at each other warily. Two versions of a major prime-time address that may or may not be given hours from now? Sure, no problem. Ultimately, Ed decided to go with the second speech. But he clearly didn’t share his plan with the president. When the president came into the Family Theater to rehearse the speech in front of a teleprompter, he didn’t like the idea of just talking about principles. It sounded like the administration was backing away from its own plan (which it was).

“We can’t even defend our own proposal?” the president asked. “Why did we propose it, then?” This was not bold decision making. There were about a dozen people gathered in the theater to watch him rehearse, and all of us remained silent as the president looked at us for an answer.

The president walked over to sip some water from one of the bottles on the table near his lectern. “This speech is weak,” he said. He looked at me and Chris. “Frankly, I’m surprised, to be honest with you.”

There was more silence.

“Too late to cancel the speech?” the president asked into the air. He was joking…I think. Finally, Ed (who hadn’t exactly rushed to jump into the line of fire) explained that we had to make this change to the address because the proposal the president liked might not end up being the one he had to agree to. “Then why the hell did I support it if I didn’t believe it would pass?” he snapped. There was yet another uncomfortable silence.

Finally, the president directed us to try to put elements of his proposal back into the text. He wanted to explain what he was seeking and to defend it. He especially wanted Americans to know that his plan would likely see a return on the taxpayers’ investment. Under his proposal, he said, the federal government would buy troubled mortgages on the cheap and then resell them at a higher price when the market for them stabilized.

“We’re buying low and selling high,” he kept saying.

The problem was that his proposal didn’t work like that. One of the president’s staff members anxiously pulled a few of us aside. “The president is misunderstanding this proposal,” he warned. “He has the wrong idea in his head.” As it turned out, the plan wasn’t to buy low and sell high. In some cases, in fact, Secretary Paulson wanted to pay more than the securities were likely worth in order to put more money into the markets as soon as possible. This was not how the president’s proposal had been advertised to the public or the Congress. It wasn’t that the president didn’t understand what his administration wanted to do. It was that the treasury secretary didn’t seem to know, changed his mind, had misled the president, or some combination of the three.

As Chris and I were in our office in the EEOB trying to put in the latest of the president’s edits, there was a steady flow of people coming into the room. The economic team came in. Ed Gillespie, the president’s top communications adviser, came in. Tony Fratto, the deputy press secretary, was there. At one point there were twelve people crowded around our computer, trying to explain how the proposal worked. The economic advisers were disagreeing with each other.

There was total confusion. It was 5:30 p.m. The speech was in three and a half hours.

After finally getting the speech draft turned around and sent back to the teleprompter technicians, we trudged back to the Family Theater, where the president rehearsed. In the theater, the president was clearly confused about how the government would buy these securities. He repeated his belief that the government was going to “buy low and sell high,” and he still didn’t understand why we hadn’t put that into the speech like he’d asked us to. When it was explained to him that his concept of the bailout proposal wasn’t correct, the president was momentarily speechless. He threw up his hands in frustration.

“Why did I sign on to this proposal if I don’t understand what it does?” he asked.

Not the best and the brightest.

Here’s some more about the mindset of the Bush White House.  It’s telling that the only person (apart from the author) who seemed to have a grasp of reality about Sarah Palin was, incredibly, George Bush himself.

The instantaneous reaction to Palin at the White House, however, was almost frenzied. I think what was really going on was that everyone secretly hated themselves for supporting McCain, so they latched onto Palin with over-the-top enthusiasm. Even the normally levelheaded Raul Yanes, the president’s staff secretary, was overtaken by Palin mania. He’d been slightly annoyed with me for not jumping on the McCain bandwagon and for saying aloud that I thought McCain would lose. Now, of course, I had to be enthusiastic about the ticket. “You still think we’re going to lose?” he asked me laughingly.

“Yep,” I replied.

Raul looked incredulous. “Well, you obviously don’t believe in facts!”

I was about to be engulfed by a tidal wave of Palin euphoria when someone—someone I didn’t expect—planted my feet back on the ground. After Palin’s selection was announced, the same people who demanded I acknowledge the brilliance of McCain’s choice expected the president to join them in their high-fiving tizzy. It was clear, though, that the president, ever the skilled politician, had concerns about the choice of Palin, which he called “interesting.” That was the equivalent of calling a fireworks display “satisfactory.”

“I’m trying to remember if I’ve met her before. I’m sure I must have.” His eyes twinkled, then he asked, “What is she, the governor of Guam?”

Everyone in the room seemed to look at him in horror, their mouths agape. When Ed told him that conservatives were greeting the choice enthusiastically, he replied, “Look, I’m a team player, I’m on board.” He thought about it for a minute. “She’s interesting,” he said again. “You know, just wait a few days until the bloom is off the rose.” Then he made a very smart assessment.

“This woman is being put into a position she is not even remotely prepared for,” he said. “She hasn’t spent one day on the national level. Neither has her family. Let’s wait and see how she looks five days out.” It was a rare dose of reality in a White House that liked to believe every decision was great, every Republican was a genius, and McCain was the hope of the world because, well, because he chose to be a member of our party.

Quote Of The Day

"Get your hats on… We're gonna score before the two-minute warning, get the ball back, then we're gonna score again and win this thing!''

– Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, moments before they scored before the two-minute warning, got the ball back, then scored again and won that thing.

The Tea People Speak

If you don't want to see the whole thing, jump to the 6:00 minute mark.  The young interviewer explains to Tea Party protesters what "czars" are (they are merely advisors and don't have executive power), and who appointed the first "czar" (Ronald Reagan).  The reactions are priceless.

Actions Have Consequences

McClatchy News:

WASHINGTON — State and local tourism officials are being flooded by emails and calls from people across the country, saying they won't vacation in South Carolina because they're upset by GOP Rep. Joe Wilson's outburst at President Barack Obama.

The officials said that a number of the out-of-state e-mailers have said they've taken beach trips for years in Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head and other South Carolina resort areas, but don't plan to return.

***

South Carolina's $1 billion-plus tourism industry, centered around its beaches, had already been hit by the recession as Americans postpone vacations or cancel travel altogether. The state's 11.8 percent unemployment rate is among the highest in the country.

According to a press release by ColorOfChange.org (emphasis added):

The advertising boycott of Glenn Beck has cost the controversial host over half of his estimated advertising revenue since it was launched by ColorOfChange.org a month ago. This according to data analyzed from industry sources.

Estimated advertising revenue [the total amount of advertising money being spent during a block of commercial time for a program] was collected on a week-by-week basis for a period of two months. According to the data collected, the amount of money spent by national advertisers on Beck’s program per week was at its highest at approximately $1,060,000, for the week ending August 2, 2009.  ColorOfChange.org launched their campaign at the end of that week and since then, 62 advertisers have distanced themselves from Beck. Data collected for the week ending September 6, 2009 shows Beck’s estimated ad revenue at $492,000, equal to a loss of $568,000.

Also, did Obama call Kayne West a "jackass"?