Monthly Archives: December 2015

RT @neiltyson: To all those who reckon time on the Gregorian Calendar – Happy New Year! (FYI: January 1 is astronomically insignificant.)

RT @JenKirkman: 1) Normally I don’t buy into NYE necessarily as an ending/beginning but this year it feels right. I’m sick and staying in b…

I don’t think I can look at any more photos of Bill Cosby with the grizzled beard. Makes him look as guilty as he probably is. #BillCosby

RT @AP: BREAKING: 2 people with knowledge of prosecutor’s decision: Bill Cosby to be charged in 2004 case.

What The Tamir Rice Incident Reveals About Open Carry Gun Laws

So much yes from Charles Pierce in Esquire:

There certainly is no point in emphasizing the damn irony that Ohio is an “open carry” state so, even if the cops assumed Rice was 18, and they also assumed his gun was real, they had no cause even to stop him, let alone open fire. Listen to the spiel that Wayne LaPierre unspools every time he’s in a room with more than four people listening: arm yourselves, because the world is a hellscape of violent Others who are coming for you and your children. At its heart, open carry is about open season on the people who scare you. It’s certainly not about an absolute Second Amendment right that applies to black people as well as white. Open carry is about You and the Others, and so is the training of our modern, militarized police forces. If only Tamir Rice had not been born with that congenital ability to become huge and threatening the way he did in the mind of Timothy Loehmann. If only…

The prosecutor — who (half-heartedly, I’m sure) presented the case to the Grand Jury (which failed to hand down any indictments) — said that the officers followed policy.

What scares me is that might just be true.

In which case, we need to change the policy.

RT @carrieffisher: Please stop debating about whetherOR not👁aged well.unfortunately it hurts all3 of my feelings.My BODY hasnt aged as well…

Picture Of The Year?

I don’t know, but it should be contender.  The photographer is not a journalist or professional photographer, but I don’t know if that makes any difference.

This is a woman who escaped ISIS territory and was able to wear color again, taken sometime in early December 2015.

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The Lyingest Liar Of 2015

Every year, Politifact does their “Lie Of The Year”.  In 2009, it was “death panels”.  Last year, it was Ebola exaggerations.  This year, there were so many from… well, I’ll let them tell it:

It’s the trope on Trump: He’s authentic, a straight-talker, less scripted than traditional politicians. That’s because Donald Trump doesn’t let facts slow him down. Bending the truth or being unhampered by accuracy is a strategy he has followed for years.

“People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts,” Trump wrote in his 1987 best-seller The Art of the Deal. “People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion.”

That philosophy guided Trump in luxury real estate and reality television. This year he brought it to the world of presidential politics.

Trump has “perfected the outrageous untruth as a campaign tool,” said Michael LaBossiere, a philosophy professor at Florida A&M University who studies theories of knowledge. “He makes a clearly false or even absurdly false claim, which draws the attention of the media. He then rides that wave until it comes time to call up another one.”

PolitiFact has been documenting Trump’s statements on our Truth-O-Meter, where we’ve rated 76 percent of them Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire, out of 77 statements checked. No other politician has as many statements rated so far down on the dial.

In considering our annual Lie of the Year, we found our only real contenders were Trump’s — his various statements also led our Readers’ Poll. But it was hard to single one out from the others. So we have rolled them into one big trophy.

To the candidate who says he’s all about winning, PolitiFact designates the many campaign misstatements of Donald Trump as our 2015 Lie of the Year.

When it comes to inaccurate statements, the Donald was on fire:

  • • “I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down,” he said at a Nov. 21 rally in Birmingham, Ala. “And I watched in Jersey City, N.J., where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering.” Pants on Fire. There is no video of thousands of people in Jersey City cheering. Weeks later, Trump continues to stand by his claim but has not been able to point to evidence to back it up. Public safety officials on the ground in New Jersey say it never happened.
  • • “The Mexican government … they send the bad ones over.” Pants on Fire. There’s no evidence to show the Mexican government encourages criminals to cross the border. Most illegal immigration comes from people seeking work. Recent estimates show illegal immigration from Mexico dropped off dramatically during the recession and has remained low.
  • • “Whites killed by whites — 16%. Whites killed by blacks — 81%,” said an image he shared on Twitter. Pants on Fire. Most people are killed by someone they know, and someone of the same race. The correct number for whites killed by whites was 82 percent in 2014, while the number of whites killed by blacks was 15 percent.

When Bill O’Reilly of Fox News challenged Trump’s tweet of inaccurate murder rates, Trump suggested being accurate wasn’t so important: “Hey, Bill, Bill, am I gonna check every statistic? I get millions and millions of people … @RealDonaldTrump, by the way.”

Trump hasn’t apologized or backtracked on his statements. Instead, when challenged, he offers flimsy explanations and suggests he shouldn’t be held accountable — or simply insists he’s right.

“People maybe call me out, but they turn out to be wrong, also,” he said in an interview Sunday with George Stephanopoulos. “And many of the things I’ve said — and I think just about all of them — they may have been controversial at one point, George, but they’re not controversial in the end, because people start to say, you know, Trump’s actually right.”

My “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Review: We’ve Been Had [Contains Spoilers]

So I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens last night.  In IMAX 3D.

A very fun movie, even if you are not a fan of the series.

BUT here’s the thing: Of COURSE it is a good movie; 90% of it is the same ingredients as the original, right down to the bar/cantata scene with strange music and weird aliens. A villain in a black mask. Father/son conflict. A cute droid carrying an important secret. Mega-death planet destroyer (with one small vulnerable spot that the rebels must get to destroy it). Humorous quips while the battle rages.

The other 10% is nostalgia (revisiting old friends).

It enjoyed it immensely, but boy, they sure made a predictably “safe” moneymaker.  It bordered on plagerism.

That’s what happened to the Star Wars franchise when it went to Disney.  It became formula (like everything Disney does), and the new Star Wars is more than just a blockbuster movie — it’s the anchoring element of a vast commercial program, painstakingly factory-made for maximal audience appeal, which means maximal inoffensiveness. Don’t expect the next two Star Wars movies to be much different.  In fact, Star Wars sequels and prequels are destined to be part of moviemaking into the infinite future. One can envision Hollywood eventually turning out Star Warses well beyond the Lucas-planned nine movies (which I don’t believe to be true anyway), each periodically “rebooted” for a new generation of customers by casting the latest new young stars in new costumes facing the same old perils and uttering the same old quips.

RT @Lin_Manuel: See I never thought I’d live past 20
Where I come from
some get half as many
#TamirRice
.
Goodnight.

RT @mmurraypolitics: What is amazing is how Trump has spent just $217K (radio!) until now. That represents just 0.2% of the $120M spent so far by all candidates.

RT @meganamram: .@BethStelling is my hero. please read this:

Same girl in all of these photos (me). I’ve had an amazing year and you’ve seen the highlights here, so these photos are an uncommon thing to share but not an uncommon issue. You may be weirded out but do read on. I have a point. There are many reasons not to make an abusive relationship public, mostly fear. Scared of what people will think, scared it makes me look weak or unprofessional. When I broke up with my ex this summer, it wasn’t because I didn’t love him, it was because of this. And I absolutely relapsed and contacted him with things I shouldn’t have, but there are no “best practices” with this. When friends or comics ask why we broke up it’s not easy or comfortable to reply; it doesn’t seem like the appropriate thing to say at a stand-up show, a party or a wedding. It’s embarrassing. I feel stupid. After being verbally, physically abused and raped, I dated him for two more months. It’s not simple. After I broke up with him he said, “You’re very open and honest in your stand-up, and I just ask that you consider me when you talk about your ex because everyone knows who you’re talking about.” And I abided. I wrote vague jokes because we both live in L.A. and I didn’t want to hurt him, start a war, press charges, be interrogated or harassed by him or his friends and family. I wanted to move on and forget because I didn’t understand. I don’t want revenge or to hurt him now, but it’s unhealthy to keep this inside because my stand-up is pulled directly from my life. It’s how I make my living. My personal is my professional. That is how I’ve always been; I make dark, funny. So now I’m allowing this to be part of my story. It’s not my only story, so please don’t let it be. If you live in L.A., you’ve already started to hear my jokes about this and I ask you to have the courage to listen and accept it because I’m trying. Already since talking about this onstage, many women have come to me after shows asking me to keep doing it. Men have shown their solidarity. An ex-girlfriend of this ex-boyfriend came to me and shared that she experienced the same fate. Then there was another and another (men and women) who shared other injustices at his hand that..

A photo posted by Beth Stelling (@bethstelling) on

RT @AP: Grand jury declines to indict rookie Cleveland policeman in 2014 fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice: https://t.co/F0ezGb67ZJ

Does Being White Make You A Racist?

Professor George Yancy of Emory University thinks so.  Here’s his New York Times Editorial, an open letter to White America.  I print it in full below the fold.

But here is my response:

Dear Mr. Yancy:

You speak undeniable truths about the world we live in, and about how white people like me benefit (almost instinctively) from white privilege.  That’s true.

But you’ve decided to redefine “racist” in such a manner that it — the word and what it represents — becomes meaningless.  As a practical matter, I can do nothing about my supposed “racism” other than be aware of it and do what I can to change the white privilege power structure, which I already do.  I have that responsibility, not only as a white man, but as a citizen of the Earth.  But being responsible for countering structural racism does not make me guilty AS a racist.

We are in an era in which great big, gaping, enormous, and injurious generalizations about broad populations are increasingly acceptable. “All men are sexist”… and so on.  And taking the philosophy that being white in America makes one culpable for racism is a great big, broad, gaping and enormous generalization.

But generalizations are the cornerstone of prejudice, which leads to the -isms which divide us.  They certainly cannot be said with love and societal health in mind.

Furthermore, I don’t believe the tautology that disagreement with you is proof that you are correct.  That is a logical fallacy.  That you may have predicted my response to your thesis does not make your thesis correct (nor particularly clever).

I like what you write to the extent that it forces “white America” (whatever that means) to be mindful of the structural racism that exists in all of the facets of life — from sports to law to politics to entertainment and so on.  But you bury the lede by making it personal.  By writing to ME as if you know ME, and insisting that I am a racist (as you define that word) has to practical use.  Even if you admit that you are racist and sexist, and even if you dress it all dressed up in bows — an actual gift for which I am (supposedly) to thank you, it does not move the ball forward or fix any problem.  It just stirs the pot.

Yes, I am a racist as you insist on defining it.  But that is your “problem”.  I cannot do anything about it.

And so I give this “gift” back to you.  And I urge you to keep fighting the good fight.  You can join me in that fight too.  Just don’t bring any presents.

KRA

Why Trump Might Not Do Well In Iowa Despite Being On Top In The Iowa Polls

The Iowa Caucus is five weeks away and conventional wisdom has been that Trump will win Iowa, even if he fails in states after that.

But I am not so sure Iowa is in Trump’s column.

First of all, Cruz is essentially tied with Trump right now, at least according to the latest Iowa poll (conducted before Christmas).

But more importantly, Trump lacks something that Cruz and other candidates have — a ground game.  Let me explain.

We sometimes forget what a caucus is. The caucuses are generally defined as “gatherings of neighbors.” Rather than going to polls and casting ballots, Iowans gather at a set location in each of Iowa’s 1,682 precincts. Typically, these meetings occur in schools, churches, public libraries and even individuals’ houses.

At 7:00pm, each precinct will be called to order by the temporary chair, an individual appointed by the county party. After a permanent chair and secretary are elected by the body, business can begin. Since 2016 is a presidential election year, the first item of business will be to conduct a presidential preference poll. Delegates are then selected, and they are bound by the results of the poll in that caucus (this is a change from previous years).

But before the poll is taken, there is a lot of discussion.  A LOT of it.  And it is important that each candidate have precinct captains and leaders to mill around and discuss with those voting.

Trump’s problem?  He hasn’t lined these people up:

Some of Mr. Trump’s Republican rivals have spent months calling and knocking on doors to identify potential supporters to draw them out to caucuses, but Mr. Trump does not appear to have invested in this crucial “voter ID” strategy until recently.

The Trump campaign hopes to attract a surge of independents and disaffected Democrats on caucus night, but the latest data from the Iowa secretary of state show no significant growth in Republican registrations.

Interviews in Iowa with Mr. Trump’s campaign workers, his volunteers and dozens of attendees at his rallies over two months, as well as observations of voter outreach, conference calls and confidential training sessions, indicate that Mr. Trump’s support in the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses may fall short of his poll numbers in the state.

I believe that Trump supporters live in a vacuum right now.  They favor Trump, but that favoritism is soft for most of them, and they can easily be persuaded to vote for Cruz (who has, we’re told, an excellent ground game in Iowa).

So expect Trump to “lose” — and by that I mean, come in second or even third, in Iowa.  I don’t think he will win.

RIP Meadowlark Lemon

The ringleader of the Harlem Globetrotters, Meadowlark was the perfect combination of athlete and clown.  He chased referees with a bucket and surprised them with a shower of confetti instead of water. He dribbled above his head and walked with exaggerated steps. He mimicked a hitter in the batter’s box and, with teammates, pantomimed a baseball game. And both to torment the opposing team — as time went on, it was often a hired squad of foils — and to amuse the appreciative spectators, he laughed and he teased and he chattered and he smiled.

He died yesterday at the age of 83.

“The best is the enemy of the good.” Voltaire was awesome.

A Merry Christmas to Bristol Palin, abstinence education advocate, and congratulations on the birth of her second out-of-wedlock child today

Merry Christmas to all and peace on Earth to whoever reads this. #ChristmasEve

Christmas in New England this year takes me back to… spring in the south. C’mon. A little snow will kill ya?

Everybody chill. When there is a plane accident or car accident, we need to assume it’s NOT terrorism, rather than worry it is #fearless

Democratic In-Fighting – Yes, It Exists

Associated Press:

The Sanders campaign is upset that the DNC has barred the Sanders’ campaign from accessing the (non-Hillary) database of voters, thinking it is being punished when it was the DNC vendor who screwed up the database.  They’ve even threatened with a lawsuit.

But I suspect this will all be resolved by day’s end.  What’s really happening, I suspect, is that the Sanders campaign is banned from the database until they can fix the lock on the Hillary stuff.

A real FBI tweet.

RT @JoshMalina: Martin Shkreli: I have a headache.

Inmate 56271: Well, I got an aspirin. But it’s gonna cost you. Oh it’s gonna COST you…

Did Ted Cruz Leak Classified Information During The Latest GOP Debate?

It went down like this.  While Rubio and Cruz were debating each other’s records on national security and surveillance, Cruz got into some details about what the bulk data program covers.

“What he knows is that the old program covered 20 percent to 30 percent of phone numbers to search for terrorists,” Cruz said, referring to Rubio. “The new program covers nearly 100 percent. That gives us greater ability to stop acts of terrorism, and he knows that that’s the case.”

It’s not clear if Cruz, who is unpopular with many of his Senate colleagues, revealed classified information. But in his response to Cruz, Rubio noted that he did not want to say too much about the program.

“Let me be very careful when answering this, because I don’t think national television in front of 15 million people is the place to discuss classified information,” Rubio said. “So let me just be very clear. There is nothing that we are allowed to do under this bill that we could not do before.”

And that was how it went down.  Moments afterward, this was tweeted:

Becca Watkins is the communications director for Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Burr told reporters that his staff was looking into the matter as to whether or not Cruz disclosed classified information. Cruz is not well-liked in the Senate, even by his Republican colleagues.

Late yesterday, the Senate Intelligence Committee announced that it will not be investigating anything said during Tuesday’s debate.

Meaning…. well, anything.  If Cruz leaked classified information, they’re certainly not going to admit it.  Better than the terrorists think that 100% of bulk phone data is being culled.

Thursday Morning Schadenfreude

Awwwwww:

CWcTBL2WIAEGqPhMartin Shkreli, a pharmaceutical entrepreneur and former hedge fund manager who has been widely criticized for drug price gouging, was arrested Thursday morning by the federal authorities.

The investigation, in which Mr. Shkreli has been charged with securities fraud, is related to his time as a hedge fund manager and running the biopharmaceutical company Retrophin — not the price-gouging controversy that has swirled around him.

Mr. Shkreli, 32, is now chief executive and founder of Turing Pharmaceuticals, which has drawn scrutiny for acquiring a decades-old drug and raising the price of it overnight to $750 a pill, from $13.50.

He was arrested in his Midtown Manhattan apartment, according to a law enforcement source, who declined to be identified because the indictment had not been unsealed. Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn were expected to hold a news conference on the charges later Thursday.

UPDATE:  Wish this was true….

RT @DrewCurtis: Final statements: “Obama sucks Reagan was awesome terrorists suck” -Ted Cruz #GOPDebate

RT @pattonoswalt: “If you add a tablespoon of sour cream to scrambled eggs it makes fluffier scrambled eggs.” — Ben Carson #GOPDebate #clo…

Closing statements: 9/11, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11, Hillary, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11…

Bush: B
Carson: B+
Christie: A-
Cruz: B-
Fiorina: C-
Kasich: B
Paul: C+
Rubio: B
Trump: C+
No major shifts in polls.
#GOPDebate

“We are only just beginning?” Are you fucking kidding me? That’s it. I’m done. #GOPDebate

Women can commit heinous acts of terrorism too. You go, girl! #GOPDebate

Next time they go to Carson, he should do that 4 second moment of silence thing again. Good times. #GOPDebate

For the closing comments, the candidates should just try to outshout each other. #GOPDebate

RT @digby56: Fiorina interjecting in every dust-up that “this is what people hate about politics” is just hilarious.

When Cruz talks, it sounds like he’s holding his nose. #GOPDebate

Thank God. I was getting sick of Muslim-bashing. Now we can get to the Mexican-bashing
#GOPDebate

Fine. Let’s vote for Kasich’s daughter. #GOPDebate

RT @wyethwire: If Jeb and Trump keep fighting, Kasich and Fiorina are going to turn this car around

Did the audience just cheer World War III? #GOPDebate

Fiorina is wrong. President Bush started the timetable for Iraq withdrawal. Not Obama, not Hillary #GOPDebate

Seriously, WHEN is one of these guys going to make the grab-their-balls gesture? #GOPDebate

Going out on a limb here, but I get the sense that the GOP candidates are anti-ISIS. #GOPDebate

CNN came back from commercial and all of a sudden these guys are doves. #GOPDebate

Holy crap. I agree with Trump here. #GOPDebate

Fiorina is just begging me to insult her as a woman, but I rise above it. Hopefully, my women friends will pick up the slack. #GOPDebate