The slow spiral.

A former colleague of mine flagged this story on Facebook — from the Philadelphia Daily News, about the ruination of NFL Films, the production arm that made the “America’s Game” series, which you might not watch, but you almost certainly know.

I have zero interest in football and an above-average interest in filmmaking, and even I can see the genius of the classic, ol’ skool NFL Films oeuvre — its irony-free presentation of games with portentous narration and tympani-and-brass orchestral scores, which can make any given Sunday into a clash of gladiators that will be sung in song for centuries. I haven’t watched them all, but I’ve watched enough to know that their signature is as distinctive as Miles Davis’ trumpet playing or Martin Scorsese’s camera technique. Which of course means the new guys have to be brought in to screw it all up.

The story is about how new leadership did just that:

“The thing that has always set NFL Films apart, the thing that has been its trademark, is the slow spiral in the air,” said Comcast SportsNet’s Ray Didinger, an Emmy-winning producer and writer at Films for 9 years before leaving in 2008. “One shot lasting 45 seconds. The ball leaving the quarterback’s hands and being caught. That was the kind of stuff that made NFL Films great and helped make the league so popular. That was their signature.

“But you’ve got these guys [at NFL Network] now with ADD, they’re watching that ball spinning and they’re saying, ‘OK, let’s catch it already. Go, go, go. Catch the ball, will ya.’

“The term that we used to get kicked back at us from time to time was, ‘dinosaur television.’ They’d say, ‘That stuff is dated. Been done before. People have seen it. We’re going to change the way football is presented on television.'”

The usual litany of complaints followed, and you can see how it happened — NFL Films operated without a thought to cost-containment, so someone sold the owners on a plan to save money, etc. (The fact NFL Films was, as Sports Illustrated called it, one of the most effective propaganda organizations in the world, instrumental in building the league into a powerhouse — eh, who can put a dollar figure on that, right?) Then someone else came in, and wondered about those 45-second slow spirals, and the rest is infamy.

It made me think, though. A number of petty annoyances have been piling up — and when that happens, I tend to get a little testy. I’m also aware that some have accused me of being ranty lately, so I want to be sensitive to that. But still, I have to ask:

Is every company in the goddamn world broken?

Two weeks ago, we tried to watch a movie on demand on cable. It froze. (Pause.) Repeatedly. (Pause.) Throughout. (Pause.) Playback. I tried to call Comcast that night. We are experiencing high call volumes at this time, and customer wait times are longer than usual. If the matter is not urgent, please call back at a later time.

I called back on Monday to ask for a credit on my bill. We are experiencing high call volumes at this time, and customer wait times are longer than usual. If the matter is not urgent, please call back at a later time. Tried again Tuesday. We are experiencing high call volumes at this time, and customer wait times are longer than usual. If the matter is not urgent, please call back at a later time.

Forgot about it for a few days, tried again. Guess what? And so on.

If I were posting this on Twitter, I would hashtag it #firstworldproblems. Still. I pay a fortune to this stupid company every month; is it so much to expect a non-Soviet customer-service experience?

(I just tried it again. Huzzah! An operator credited my account $4.99, “as a courtesy,” not because the service I paid for wasn’t delivered. Here, pleb, have a few shekels.)

Meanwhile, if you’d like to watch a classic of the NFL Films genre on your very own computer, try America’s Game: 1968 New York Jets, featuring Joe Namath’s Fu Manchu mustache, the Heidi game and narration by Alec Baldwin.

OK, we’ve gone on too long. Any bloggage?

Via Eric Zorn, how wealthy divorcing women justify asking for $46,000 a month in child support.

Journalism inside baseball, but might be of interest to others: When is it appropriate to state the race of a criminal suspect in a story? For what it’s worth, I generally follow the Society of Professional Journalists standard: When it’s a key part of a detailed description of a suspect at large, yes. When it’s part of a too-general or vague description, no. So, to use the example from the story, this would be a yes: “The suspect was described as a white, between 19 and 24 years old, around 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighing 180 pounds. He had short blond hair and tattoos on both arms, according to police reports.” A no would be “a black man of medium height and build, wearing blue jeans.” One of our competitors goes for the sneakier variety of racism: “The 16-year-old was released to his 32-year-old mother.”

Oh, if only: The governor of New Jersey talks back to his party’s nut wing.

And while we’re briefly on the topic of editing, see Kim’s comment from late yesterday, about outsourced copy desks.

And now I gotta go. I can almost taste the weekend. Hope you can, too.

Posted at 10:51 am in Media |

73 responses to “The slow spiral.”

  1. Kevin said on August 4, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Nancy, DirecTV is no better than Comcast (I’ve had both).

    If a friend signs up, using a special phone number and providing your account number, each of you is supposed to get $10 off your bill for 10 months. A friend was signing up, so I gave her my account number. Win-win.

    Only the bill credit didn’t show up. Two months later, I called to inquire. Whaddaya know – they had no record of it (though they sure had record of her 2-year commitment) and refused to pursue the matter, because “too much time has passed.”

    A couple of emails later (theirs: canned responses by someone whose first language obviously wasn’t English; mine: peppered with terms like “FCC,” “consumer fraud” and “attorneys general”), they deigned to credit my bill for $25 and sent an ungracious note saying they were still in the right, but since I was a good customer, they didn’t want to make me unhappy.

    This good customer is now an ex-customer. For want of a few shekels, they’re losing $82/month. Even if they don’t give a shit about me, wouldn’t you think they’d give a shit about losing accounts?

    Broken. Yes.

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  2. Julie Robinson said on August 4, 2011 at 11:36 am

    My hubby had his cell phone account through the office, but they changed to giving reimbursements instead, so we put his phone on the family account. It took 1.5 hours to accomplish this at the local V. store, although in fairness 15 minutes of that was choosing a new phone. The next bill was over $450. Huh?

    We were traveling so I downloaded the V. app for iPhone, which is a crap app that doesn’t have access to basic account info such as the plan you are on. When I got computer access I saw they had changed our plan, which meant roaming charges every time our daughter made a call from Canada.

    It took close to an hour on the phone to get it straightened out and I was never given an explanation, just an insincere apology.

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  3. Bill said on August 4, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Nance: I can’t say enough good things about our Comcast service. If I have a problem I can get a live person 98% of the time. And they know what they’re doing. And, speaking of good service, a shout-out to Zappos. I ordered a pair of shoes for our granddaughter at 8 p.m. Tuesday evening and they were at our front door at 9 a.m. the next morning. And shipping was free. How do dey do dat?

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  4. Suzanne said on August 4, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Is every company broken? I’d say yes. I’ve had the bad fortune of bouncing from job to job since our man Mitch messed with my long-term job and then the great recession hit. All I want now is to work at a company that is well run and that has somebody somewhere that has a clue. I’ll do it for lousy money, too, because I want my faith in humanity and the American way restored. What I’ve experienced in the past few years is companies that are in complete chaos. Training, if there is any, probably will have nothing to do with the tasks you will be expected to accomplish. I have yet to show up the first day and have computer access, email account, anything like that set up. One job, I showed up the first day, literally sat in chair in the lobby for several hours before I asked to go home as there was absolutely nothing I could do. The room I would be working in wasn’t even finished being renovated. About a week into one position, a co-worker told me that I had been sent an email about something I needed to attend to; at which point I had to remind him that I had neither a computer nor an email address. I have usually have to beg for an employee manual.

    After having spent some time toiling at a utility company, I laugh when I hear stories of people calling their cable/phone/internet companies with problems. Good luck getting someone on the other end of the phone who has any idea what to do about your problem. You are probably talking to a temp worker who had about 5 seconds of training before being set down in a cubicle and told to have a go at it.

    The money that is wasted as companies because the staff is running around willy nilly just doing stuff has got to be phenomenol. I can see it and I am not a business person. CEOs making millions while the rest of the people are left to do whatever they can figure out on their own to do seems like a recipe for economic disaster to me. Oh, wait. I guess it is.

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  5. LAMary said on August 4, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Zappos is amazing. I have never, ever had a problem with them and I buy things and return things pretty often. Free shipping both ways and fast refunds on returns as well as carrying a lot of shoes in my weird size.

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  6. Jolene said on August 4, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Bill, the CEO of Zappo’s has a new book out called Delivering Happiness. Perhaps he explains there how “dey do dat.”

    I’ve had pretty good service w/ Comcast too, but I certainly hear about lots of people who haven’t. My current annoyance w/ them concerns the new Xfinity software that presents the TV schedule, the DVR settings, and the OnDemand service. It does some things differently than the previous software, and the new way isn’t always better.

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  7. brian stouder said on August 4, 2011 at 11:58 am

    Two things.

    1.I’m also aware that some have accused me of being ranty lately, so I want to be sensitive to that.

    Ranty? My view from the cheap seats around here is that the blog is almost invariably talky/jaunty/jokey/newsy/sometimes hippie (in the “hip” sense of the word!) and generally happy; I bet you couldn’t get more than 1% of your readers to vote for “ranty”.

    But indeed, up here in the cheap seats, we commenters can be ranty. Personally, I’ve been flat-out ranty lately, especially about this whole self-inflicted market downturn – which beats the heck out of the self-induced depression we just finished narrowly averting, I suppose.

    Just sayin’

    2. But still, I have to ask: Is every company in the goddamn world broken?

    Yes. The Big Myth of Our Times is that all real wisdom resides in corporate boardrooms and power point presentations and profit maximization (and ONLY there. The corrolary – anything done by government is inherently bad/unwise/suboptimal)

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  8. moe99 said on August 4, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    This keeps up, we should be told to eat cake pretty da$% soon.

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  9. Jeff Borden said on August 4, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    I am almost always in a ranty mood. I’d hoped my progression to 60 would mean a mellowing of my anxieties and more acceptance of the way the real world works, but instead, it seems to be worsening. I mean, c’mon, I lived through the Cold War, the Nixon administration, inner city riots every summer, Vietnam, Reagan and supply side economics, the DLC and Clinton, and of course, the wee man from Crawford, yet my ability to shrug off the ongoing stupidity in D.C. and beyond seems to be waning daily.

    Perhaps it is because that while I loathed Tricky Dick, I could not deny his intelligence. And while I tended to think of Reagan as an amiable but disengaged guy, he actually believed in something and was smart enough to adapt, raising taxes 18 times during his presidency. Today? We are represented by perhaps the dumbest Congress ever assembled and confront an array of Republican presidential contenders beyond the ability of Paddy Chayefsky to parody.

    Or maybe it’s because a Chicago cop wrote me a $120 ticket for “disobeying a police order” when I went beyond a blue barricade in an effort to turn around at the lakefront, where I’d hoped to let my dog swim. The president was having a birthday/fundraiser at the Aragon Ballroom some two miles away and the coppers were out towing every car parked near the lake enroute to shutting down the beachfront from Foster to Montrose. I honestly thought I was going to be handcuffed and taken to jail for awhile.

    Don’t cops give warnings any more? I guess that’s another relic of the Mitch Albom/Bob Greene past??

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  10. prospero said on August 4, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Christie is speaking specifically as a political animal in that clip , though he exhibits some hope or inchoate understanding that most American voters are not cognitively disconnected they’ve become zombie suicides, and that the last two months have been marked by criminally treasonous behavior by teabag mofoswith nobody’s best interest but their own, the Koch Bros. and BP at heart. Christie is most certainly a dickhead Tony Soprano manque that is so much like the infamous Buddy Cianci it would be funny if it weren’t so sad that people will vote for him. My favorite thing about that page, though, is the inset picture of Mr. Security Clearance, Alan West, which is probably the one that appears next to the definition for “sanctimonious prick” in the Dictionary of Totally Apt Vulgar Epithets. Somebody has to ask this dumbass male chauvinist pig the name of his hairstylist. Dude looks like a church lady more than Poppy ever did.

    It’s just come to my attention that AT&T has been charging me an extra $40 bucks or so/mo. for Credits, Adjustments and Other Charges (no specific line items) for the last three months on my wireless account. I’ve gotten no satisfaction by phone on this overcharge, which coincided with my arranging autopay, so I’m going to have to drive over to Savannha to get answers in person. Meanwhile, the signal is so poor, I literally have to go outside to make an IPhone call, and across the street for any internet access on the phone. And At&T is buying competitors? Holy shit.

    Is every company broken? This brings up something that’s been bugging me a long time. When people rail about “gummint bureaucracy” I have to laugh. Americans that take this tripe as a mantra believe ardently they want government run like businesses. NFW, dumbasses. These unenlightened know-nothings think business aren’t bureaucracies, replete with all of the inefficiencies and ineffectiveness inherent in government? But, of course, the costs of bureaucratic organization are buried in the costs of goods and services, not an easily quantified charge like taxes. In reality, were the costs imposed by business bureaucracy identified, they’d likely dwarf those of government. Would that cause teabaggers to turn on their evil overlords. Would David Koch and Malathion-brain Delay, and his BFF Dickless Armey end up holed up in a castle looking down on the peasantry waving torches and pitchforks. Apparently not. Carefully conditioned cognitive dissonance would keep them protected.

    The Wikipedia entry on the ‘baggers, undoubtedly written by one, says they take their name from the Boston Tea Party, a protest against a Brit tax on tea. Wrong again honey. Colonists objected to paying a tax without representation in the government levying the tax.

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  11. beb said on August 4, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    One of the local banks is currently runings ads that make light of the routine occurrence of being placed on Hold and told repeatedly that “Your business is important to us.” Apparently not important enough to hire extra telephone operators. The bank promises to be better than that.

    I think the CEO of Zappos was on Colbert the other night. I ‘d never heard of the company before and wasn’t even sure what they were selling but the man seems youthful and intense about his company. That seems to be the key to a good company — people at the top committed to being a good business. Comcast has such a large share of the cable market that they don’t have to care. Where are people going to go? To another lazy monopolist?

    Are all companies in America broken? I think most feel like they’re broke and so constantly cut back on things (like support and service) when they shouldn’t.

    Jeff @9: You were lucky they didn’t beat you to within an inch of your life then TASER’d you the final inch. That seems to be an increasingly common police approach to conflict. The police were suppose to protect us from the thugs and bullies, not BE the thugs and bullies.

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  12. prospero said on August 4, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Rant? How about tirade or, even better Jeremiad. This blog group is a refuge from the booboisee. The go-to entity for the “gummint bureacracy” shibboleth has long been the Post Office. What an immense crock of shit. Do peoble honestly think that FedEx is in the same universe as USPS for efficiency, economy, service and overall effectiveness. I’ll take Express Mail at 1/3 the price overFedEx any time.

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  13. kayak woman said on August 4, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Although I haven’t had to call Comcast in a while, recent customer “service” experiences related to having my elderly mother’s bills mailed to me have run the gamut.

    My worst experience with Comcast was a few years ago when they sent a serial killer out to replace our rickety old modem. He made my hair stand on end. At one point, he was in the basement & I was on the phone w/ my husband (so somebody would know to call 911 when SK grabbed a kitchen knife and came after me). Husband: What is he doing in the basement? You should be down there with him. Me: I am NOT going in the basement with him!!

    He was also completely incompetent. Took him 2-1/2 hours to replace the modem. By that time husband was home. He said, “If I’d’ve had any idea how creepy he was, I’d’ve come home right away.”

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  14. nancy said on August 4, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Borden, that sucks, but as to your question, I don’t think cops give warnings anymore, no, not when they can give $120 tickets. Maximize the revenue stream is the story in every municipal government. My own little suburb is talking about charging non-residents for police response. So if you get into a fender-bender and aren’t a resident, expect to pay the cops’ salary, plus a premium. That everyone I’ve talked to seems to think this is reasonable just blows my mind. “But other cities have been doing this for a while” seems to be the default answer.

    All hail Zappos. The CEO said people routinely order the same shoe in a range of colors and sizes, the way you would in a shoe store, then try them all on and send back the rejects, and no, I don’t understand how they make money that way, either. I had my eye on a pair of boots a couple years ago, then found them for the same price in a store in Royal Oak, so of course that’s where I bought them.

    And I saw that story Moe links to, about how hot luxury brands are at the moment. It infuriated me. Companies are “hoarding cash,” we keep being told, although presumably some is showering down onto the executive suite. Meanwhile, no one has bumped freelance rates a penny since I started doing it (although some have dropped them). The solution is to work harder, and I’m willing to do so. (I’d better be.) I wonder if any of these CEO types whose wives are buying $900 shoes are doing the same.

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  15. Julie Robinson said on August 4, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Comcast’s profits are up 16% according to my morning paper. We’re sticking with our Netflix alternative; even with the rate increase it’s still only $20/month.

    We saw the Zappo’s interview on Colbert and it does sound like they promote the expectation of good service as well as making it a great place to work. (If that’s true they probably have very little turnover.) I like the free return shipping since my feet are also hard to fit. And look out Amazon, they are expanding beyond shoes.

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  16. JenC said on August 4, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    Bill, yes on Zappos. They’re superb. But my Comcast internet was down again this morning and the recorded message informed me that they’re aware of the problem in my neighborhood and working on it. Things break, I get that. But Comcast breaks a lot in my neighborhood. When I called in May because of an extended outage, I was told it was because it had been raining. When I called last week because of a daylong outage, it was due to the heat. Today’s forecast is sunny with a high of 85 degrees. Too comfortable for the cables?

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  17. moe99 said on August 4, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    anyone following the market today? Hope you’ve got your seatbelt on. Why is it that the smartest guys in the room waited til after the vote on the debt ceiling disaster to tank the market? I thought Wall Street was supposed to be the bellwether of our economic health?

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  18. prospero said on August 4, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    Beb, companies are not broke. They are sitting on more cash, collectively, right this minute than at any time in the history of American business. The stupid mofos are paying massive bonuses to bozo management types and dividends to rich stockholders instead of considering that expanding employment would , according to their cherished market mantras, expand their fucking markets.

    This is reminiscent of the famous line of attack on raising minimum wage: it’s a job killer. Right. Mickey D is providing all those toilet paper service jobs, not for profits, but out of the goodness of its beneficent corporate heart, and a reasonable wage would be a terrible burden. You know, like not befouling air and water, nor endangering species, would put the Kochs and BP stockholders in the poor house so let’s just gut and filet the EPA, so those poor Astroturfers don’t have to account for bearing the onerous yolk of all of that oppressive regulation and environmental protection, which of course God never meant by stewardship, which is the real word used in the beginning of the NT, not dominion as in the Shakespeare/Marlowe version of His word.

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  19. nancy said on August 4, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    On the happy news front, the over-the-counter antihistamine eyedrops I bought at Rite Aid this a.m. seem to be doing the trick.

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  20. prospero said on August 4, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Breaking NewsVATech campus locked down. Oh shit, but the comments about how this wouldn’t happen had all the students been packing, that’s even scarier.

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  21. Deborah said on August 4, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    One of my client’s, in Nancy’s fair city is bending over backwards to keep their call center employees happy, they’re totally redoing the floors where they work and are filling the environment with a lot of graphics to perk it up. The turnover there is mind boggling. Imagine what it would be like to sit and listen to people complain all day long and feel powerless to help.

    When my purse was stolen it took me 12 minutes to get my driver’s license replaced (in the center of Chicago!). But it took 48 hrs and two or three trips to Verizon to get my phone replaced. Then later Verizon let someone say they were me, had my address changed and ordered 2 very expensive phones which they had shipped to that address. I spent hours on the phone with Verizon over that and it took months to clear up. I’m with AT&T now and so far I haven’t had too many problems. Knock wood. I’ll take the government any day.

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  22. cosmo panzini said on August 4, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    The NFL Films story made me think, too: Does everyone in TV broadcasting now have ADD? It isn’t just the NFL network people, from what I’ve seen, but local news teasers, commercials for everything, promos for upcoming programming, hell, whatever, where you have to endure flash-editing for so long you feel like you’ll have brain damage if you don’t turn off the TV, or at least look away. My solution has been to watch much less TV lately.
    On another topic–It doesn’t surprise me to learn that there’s actually a journalism style manual section that deals with when it’s appropriate to mention race in a crime story. When I read such a story in my local paper I look for a couple of other tip-offs as to the race of either the perps or the victims: If it’s a drive-by, always black; Certain addresses will tell you also; Victims’ names are also a good identifier,i.e. shaniquo Jones, and so forth. Maybe soon there’ll be a New Rule addressing those too. Wait and see.

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  23. Jolene said on August 4, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Hope you’ve got your seatbelt on. Why is it that the smartest guys in the room waited til after the vote on the debt ceiling disaster to tank the market? I thought Wall Street was supposed to be the bellwether of our economic health?

    It may still be. Things are fucked up all over the world. Several European countries are broke, and those that aren’t don’t have either the resources or the will to bail out all of those that are. The U.S. housing market still stinks, and manufacturing orders are down.

    Add to that the increasing signs that we are killing the planet, and you get a pretty grim picture.

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  24. prospero said on August 4, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    How many American jobs result from Chanel sequined tweed coats with a $9,010 pricer Christian Louboutin “Bianca” platform pumps, at $775 a pair? If the answer is just about zero, you have to be a n idiot to buy any part at all of GOPoltroon economic policy.

    And if you buy this:

    “If a designer shoe goes up from $800 to $860, who notices?” said Arnold Aronson, managing director of retail strategies at the consulting firm Kurt Salmon, and the former chairman and chief executive of Saks.,

    There is clearly something rotten in the state of classic benevolent hand market macroeconomics. More like a definition of redistribution of wealth, trickle-up Version 2.0. Infuriating bullshit from the Laffer-Toons.

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  25. prospero said on August 4, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Jolene, I’ve got self-invested mutual funds to supplement my SSA share, or replace it if it gets trashed by the teabaggers. Steady, daily declint in share value since the debt ceiling imbroglio started. Very expensive. And depressing. Unsurprisingly, our mutual fund choices are mostly eco-friendly, no Knox Gas & Oil stocks.

    One bright spot, three condos have sold in our building in the lat two weeks.

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  26. Bitter Scribe said on August 4, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Whenever I hear a debate on specifying races of criminal suspects, I think of an anecdote I heard about in the Deep South, during Jim Crow. This one newspaper (like many others) routinely gave races of people who had been arrested: “John Smith, Negro, is being charged with…”

    Sometimes a white man with darkish skin, or whatever the hell counted as “Negro” features back then, would be mistakenly listed as black. The paper had a standard $50 libel settlement in such cases.

    The paper’s police reporter struck a deal with some of the town’s habitual white criminals: He would list them as Negro, they would collect the $50 and kick back half to him.

    I’ve always treasured that, as the only instance I know of where Jim Crow actually did someone some tangible good.

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  27. nancy said on August 4, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    That’s a great story, BS.

    I’ve probably told this story before, but some years back, a national genealogy conference came to Fort Wayne. One of our reporters had a story pegged to it, on African-American ancestry searches, and mentioned this woman was coming to Indiana for the convention and intended to stop in a Negro cemetery to look at some headstones. Named the cemetery, etc.

    Some woman called the next day, so angry she could barely speak. Her relatives were buried there, and they were NOT Negroes. In fact, they were the same people this genealogist was researching. It so happened the reporter had a picture of them. And even though it was sepia toned, they were obviously at least somewhat black — they had Negroid facial features, kinky hair, I mean, it was RIGHT THERE. The woman was appeased somewhat by a mealy-mouthed clarification in the next day’s edition, but it led to an interesting conversation with one of my editors, who was black. She theorized that these folks probably considered themselves part of that group of former slaves and free blacks who intermarried with Indians on the frontier, whose name I can’t recall now. Starts with an M, I think? Any modern person would say, “sure, those are black folks,” but to them, they were passing, and they gradually married into white society and rinsed themselves sufficiently to be considered white.

    Racism is, and will always be, our national cancer.

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  28. Deggjr said on August 4, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    Governor Christie, just wow, that’s how governors become presidents and I didn’t like him at all before that clip. He has a great New Jersey communication style too. If a midwesterner read the transcript the result would be as classy as could be. His tone and body language put the f-bomb in every sentence.

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  29. Jeff Borden said on August 4, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    This is from Reuters:

    “U.S. incomes plummeted again in 2009, with total income down 15.2 percent in real terms since 2007, new tax data showed on Wednesday.

    “The data showed an alarming drop in the number of taxpayers reporting any earnings from a job — down by nearly 4.2 million from 2007 — meaning every 33rd household that had work in 2007 had no work in 2009.

    “Average income in 2009 fell to $54,283, down $3,516, or 6.1 percent in real terms compared with 2008, the first Internal Revenue Service analysis of 2009 tax returns showed. Compared with 2007, average income was down $8,588 or 13.7 percent.”

    Man, all but the rich are truly getting beaten up these days. I wonder why it is that economic policies can cause demonstrations and rioting in the streets in Europe and Asia, but Americans just keep taking it in the shorts with nary a whimper? And many of those getting hosed will vote for a Republican, which as Bill Maher points out, just makes you stupid.

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  30. Brandon said on August 4, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    “…of that group of former slaves and free blacks who intermarried with Indians on the frontier, whose name I can’t recall now. Starts with an M, I think?”

    This might be what you’re looking for:

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  31. nancy said on August 4, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Yes, that’s it, Brandon. Melungeon. I kept thinking “muskellunge,” but that’s a fish.

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  32. Connie said on August 4, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    My first thought was mestizo which turns out to mean A person of mixed racial ancestry, especially of mixed European and Native American ancestry.

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  33. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 4, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Brandon beat me to it. The Lumbee have a large presence in Columbus, OH; they still brag on how their tribe, back in the 50’s, got harassed by the Klan in North Carolina and they basically kicked the Klan’s hind end right out of the county. Lumbee are usually lumped in as one of the Melungeon groups, which they are various OK with, indifferent to, or upset about.

    Just got back from a meeting with folks from the National Park Service and some tribal leaders, and the Indians are feeling mildly amused that they are seeing increased revenues at almost every casino (plus drilling contracts on tribal land) while NPS can’t keep gas in their patrol jeeps. Trying to figure out how and when we can keep interpretation going at national parks even as they are cut back as to staff and equipment.

    I did a first person narrative for a county Civil War 150th, and got jumped all over by a lady I’d corresponded with about her gr’x2 grandfather and the church he founded; I “implied” that her ancestors had fought with each other and split into two churches over slavery. Well, I didn’t imply it, I said it, based on letters of the period, early church records, and cemetery volumes, let along 1881 histories of the township and county, but . . .

    Had to tell another group later I simply could not do that character again; she and I exchanged e-mails which always started “I know you mean well, and I’m willing to learn new things about my family, but . . .” and always ended with “. . . but they didn’t split over slavery.” I have no idea even now what she was objecting to, since her family came out on the honorable end of that dispute, and I suspect I don’t want to know. But I’m burying Obadiah, and he’s staying dead this time. I’m glad I got to find and visit his marker, though, and the church he founded. It may just have been she was irritated that I found stuff she said she’d been looking for since the 60’s, and if she didn’t find it, it’s not her family history.

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  34. Sue said on August 4, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    Moe @ 8: The rationale for this will be – well, in this terrible economy they are the only ones spending! Do you want to take that away from them?
    This news will simply justify the need to keep the tax breaks coming. The argument that they are the job creators will be changed to fawning explanations about how they are single-handedly keeping our consumer-driven economy going.
    That’s right, folks – they’re taking up the slack and carrying the middle class, YET AGAIN.

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  35. Connie said on August 4, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    Muskellunge is also a lake in the UP. Muskellunge Lake State Park sits between Muskellunge Lake and Lake Superior. I had a fine camping trip there many years ago. Back when I was willing to sleep on the ground.

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  36. moe99 said on August 4, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Sue, this is from a friend who understands this stuff better than me (and prospero has touched on some of this above):

    The news on the latest consumer spending report, which is part of the reason the market is tanking:

    The fact that the rich feel secure enough to dispose of some of their income at the moment is an outlier. The other 99% of us are spending less, not more.

    As for stimulus and trickle down, it’s not that hard to figure out. If you give a rich person $1000 to spend on shoes, you get a purchase of one pair of Christian Louboutin. If you give poor people $1000 to spend on shoes, 50 pairs of shoes get sold. If you give a wealthy guy who already owns a Ferrari a million dollar tax break, he buys a Bugatti. If you give a thousand middle class workers a million dollars in tax breaks, that’s a thousand folks who can now afford a down payment on a new Chevy? Which has the bigger economic impact? How hard is that to figure out?

    Then there’s this:

    Corporations are hoarding cash. Nearly $2 trillion is sitting in corporate vaults (metaphorically speaking, but accurate enough–money in cash and cash equivalents isn’t being invested in capital, human or otherwise, and has for all practical purposes, been withdrawn from the productive economy). The level is record, both in absolute and percentage terms, and the rate of increase has been fantastic.

    So ironically enough, just as the GOP has coined the new talking point of dubbing corporations ‘job creators’, corporations have actually ceased to perform this function in our economy. All the cash they’ve accumulated in the recovery is just being hoarded.

    So, you want to stimulate the economy. Do you: (a) give more economic resources to economic actors that are hoarding cash, (b) give more economic resources to economic actors that purchase very expensive things in small quantities, or (c) give more economic resources to economic actors who need to spend it for food, clothing and shelter?

    Once you recognize the reality that *all* changes in the status quo of taxation and budget policy are ultimately about the distribution of wealth and give up the pointless posturing about the dangers of Marxism, I don’t see how this question is so hard to answer correctly.

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  37. prospero said on August 4, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    Murdoch and climate change: the sordid degradation of science reporting.

    Cops vs. Cartoonist, Constitution in Renton WA. Abuse of Power? Heaven forefend.

    Muskies may be the only entirely inedible fish there is. All skeleton. I suppose you could make fish stock with one of these suckers.

    Y’all realize that most Southern states and probably some free states had one-drop laws:

    Most famous bit from NFL films: The frozen tundra, the auteur, Steve Sabol. The voice, John Facenda, Packers fans don’t want to hear it, but a stopwatch prepared and run in the same conditions was proven experimentally to run slow enough to lengthen the game long enough for Bart Starr to score the gamewinner after time should have run out.

    VT still locked down.

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  38. nancy said on August 4, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    A reminder to Prospero and others (although he’s the worst offender): The comment spam filter is activated when you try to put more than two links in a single comment. Most times it ain’t no thang, because I’m online much of the day and can free you from moderation within a minute or three. But! I’m going on vacation in another week or so, and will be away from the internet for days at a time. While you’re welcome to carry on while I’m gone, if you go into moderation, I won’t be there to disentangle your little fish from the net. So be aware.

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  39. prospero said on August 4, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    Extremely lucid and comprehensible explanations, Moe. Somehow, even with the situation put in unmistakable, incontrovertible terms, this information goes straight over the heads of far too many Americans.

    The VATech lockdown was lifted 40 minutes ago, without incident.

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  40. prospero said on August 4, 2011 at 3:24 pm


    Sorry, i had no idea that was the case. Mea culpa.

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  41. nancy said on August 4, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    No apology necessary. Truly.

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  42. prospero said on August 4, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    My tendency, being as ridiculously opinionated as I am is to offer some backup before I’m asked for proof.

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  43. moe99 said on August 4, 2011 at 3:42 pm,21061/

    Sometimes, it seems like satire is all we have left.

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  44. Sue said on August 4, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    moe, in a similar vein to your points @36, it’s important to remember that the Wisconsin public workers who are helping to balance the state budget through their givebacks to pensions and health care have many silent partners in their endeavor. Remember that these givebacks are intended to cover the loss of State shared revenue to local governments and school districts. So, public workers who take these hits do not free up local money, they replace it. Their silent partners are the businesses who take the peripheral hit in lost sales, and those businesses are often locally owned.
    Scott Walker’s policies have had the odd consequence of taking a lot of middle-class money out of circulation.

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  45. Julie Robinson said on August 4, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    Why do people get so upset at the idea their families were not perfect, or slept with other nationalities? People came here to get away from the old world and make new opportunities. I’ve always felt we are strengthened by the mixing of our former nationalities, both genetically and in our everyday discourse. Oh, and lest we forget, our cuisines.

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  46. MichaelG said on August 4, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    That cops vs. cartoonist conflict reminds me of the time the President of the California Bar Assn. lobbied to get lawyer jokes classified as hate crimes.

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  47. paddyo' said on August 4, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    LA Mary and MarkH: Belated replies to your shout-outs late yesterday/early today are over on yesterday’s comment thread.

    On the subject of Comca$t, I’ve reduced myself to rock-bottom-sub-basic cable service here in Denver now as they have gradually, over a two-year period, taken away almost all of the non-premium cable channels in a calculated move to “push” me into an expensive digital package with the TV-top box.

    So, bye-bye AMC one week, so long MSNBC the next, TNT gone, Comedy Central (sniff), EPSNs, The Weather Channel, the news channels, even CNBC . . . about all that’s left besides the local broadcast channels are TBS (Conan! Reruns of Family Guy and The Office!), Bravo, Discovery and a smattering of other (very) odds and (dead) ends.

    A few months ago, they even took away a local broadcast channel, one of our two PBS-affiliate stations, channel 12, which I thought was illegal — but they apparently don’t know that my digital TV set can still get me that channel by pressing “12-1” on the remote. It’s the hi-def alternate universe, and it works with a few other channels, too.
    In fact, they had told me that the “only” way I’d be able to get anything beyond the local stations would be to switch over to their digital package. Flat(screen) liars, though perhaps they’re coming for the rest of my channels soon enough. It’s been quiet . . . too quiet.

    Anyway, this has become an exercise in holding out. I’m not a tightwad, but it chappeth my hide mightily that if I switch over to mere “enhanced basic digital” (that Infinity thing) and get back most of what they took, I pay more than three times the 20 bucks-and-change a month I pay now.

    So I catch my faves (BB and MM on AMC, The Daily Show/Colbert, all the HBO shows, a few other cable things) on DVR over at my galfriend’s house on weekends. That and a cheap two-DVDs-a-month-by-mail Netflix account, and I sleep fine at night.

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  48. Jolene said on August 4, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    Man, what a birthday present for Barack Obama. A 513 point drop in the Dow. Doesn’t leave much to sing about.

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  49. mark said on August 4, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    There isn’t enough money in the country to “stimulate” our economy back to 2007. We have, regrettably, a consumer spending driven economy. From 2007 back ten years or so, much of that consumer spending was enabled by bad credit issued on bogus economic models about housing prices, growth, and debt repayment habits. We tapped out the middle clas and lower middle class, gobbling up home equity and extending giant amounts of ultimately bad credit so we could build more strip malls and chain restaurants to sell ever larger quantities of mega meals and Chinese-produced trinkets.

    It was bogus. Twenty or twenty-five percent of that consumer spending was enabled by irrational lending that left the borrowers with empty bank accounts and underwater mortgages. Borrowing to fund government spending to try to replace unsustainable consumer spending will delay, but not avoid, the day of reckoning. We would be better off using government funds to help those hurting the most from the unwinding of the debt bubble.

    Bush started this craziness and Obama continued it. I truly don’t understand how we could spend a trillion plus in stimulus and barely touch infrastructure, which would at least lay the foundation for future prosperity. We keep spending money on bandages to hide a wound that won’t heal until it gets exposed to fresh air.

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  50. Julie Robinson said on August 4, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Well paddyo’, we ARE tightwads although I prefer to call it good stewardship. We connect my laptop to the TV to stream Comedy Central and anything else available on the web. With that, Netflix, and the alternate digital channels, we don’t have enough time to watch it all. We can come up with much more fun ways to spend all that $$$ than send it to a cable or satellite company.

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  51. Sue said on August 4, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    mark – I’ve said it here before: for at least a decade I have been yelling about the yearly “OMG the economy is going to die if you people don’t get out and Christmas shop NOW” stories that appear everywhere (newspapers, magazines and local and national TV) just after Thanksgiving every year.
    If someone as stupid as me knew that using the middle class and their credit cards as a major economic engine for a huge economy was bad economic policy, and if I’ve known that for at least 10 years, how come the experts didn’t?
    And correct me if I’m wrong please, but I understood that part of the problem with the stimulus (besides the famous ‘it wasn’t enough’ argument) is that a good portion of it was wrapped up in (sigh) tax cuts. Which not surprisingly did not stimulate anything, certainly not bridge repair or road improvement. Yes? No?
    edit: stupid as I, probably? See, told you.

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  52. Jakash said on August 4, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    Hear, hear, Julie! We cut the cable years ago and have never looked back, primarily due to the overabundance of other options and the finite amount of time to view them.

    And, as annoyed as I am with Netflix right now (you’re much more sanguine about this pricing change than I am), they answer the phone with a real person speaking understandable English to deal with whatever issue is at hand, usually answering in less than a minute.

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  53. Sherri said on August 4, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    I’m also a happy Zappo’s customer, but Amazon has nothing to worry about from them. Amazon owns Zappo’s. Amazon owns a lot of companies that you may not realize they own, because they tend to buy them and leave them alone rather than trying to change them to fit some corporate standard. I would imagine that Zappo’s uses the Amazon distribution network these days, though.

    Speaking of Amazon, while I’m not happy with their stance on sales taxes, their customer service is stellar. Here in the Seattle area, they even run a grocery service, and I love it. I can shop online for my groceries at 10 pm, and have them on my doorstep when I wake up the next morning.

    The thing both Zappo’s and Amazon have in common is that they’re both still run by their founders. They don’t care about next quarter’s results, they care about the long term, because it’s their company. They’re aren’t looking to maximize the stock price in the short term to get the big bonus. They invest, rather than cut expenses to make this quarter’s numbers look good.

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  54. mark said on August 4, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    The tax cuts (or not raising taxes), IMO, had little or no stimulative effect. Cuts for high income people have never had direct stimulative effect- meaning the wealthy spend more- notwithstanding some republicans who claim that and many more on the other side who claim republicans claim that. In normal times, they have other positive effects (via the wealthy) in terms of capital formation and making money available for lending. The real effect is that the wealthy save the extra, providing banks with more to lend and, all other things being equal, at lower rates. This helps businesses expand and new ones to start.

    These aren’t normal times. The fed is keeping rates at barely above zero, buying two thirds of the debt treasury sells so the auction rates (short term) stay low, and inflating our money supply in the process. The problem isn’t a lack of funds to lend to the private sector, the problem is a lack of qualified borrowers who want to borrow. Uncertainty about the economy, and IMO about the cost of new government regs/programs, has most of the private sector on the sidelines (or expanding overseas), waiting for greater clarity and using existing resources harder to meet current demand.

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  55. Jolene said on August 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    And correct me if I’m wrong please, but I understood that part of the problem with the stimulus (besides the famous ‘it wasn’t enough’ argument) is that a good portion of it was wrapped up in (sigh) tax cuts. Which not surprisingly did not stimulate anything, certainly not bridge repair or road improvement. Yes? No?

    That’s right. At least 30% of the stimulus was in tax cuts, and, unlike the Bush tax cuts, the tax cuts did not appear as a check in the mail, which people would have noticed, but as small additions to their paychecks, which was supposed to be better for the economy, but it was worse politically.

    A substantial amount went to state and local governments, which kept police, firefighters, teachers, and other public employees at work for a while and helped to pay unemployment benefits,, but that money is running out. Recent employment losses have been mainly in the public sector.

    As I understand it, quite a bit of road repaving got done (there certainly was some around here) because it was something that was relatively easy to do quickly and didn’t require the sort of analysis that new construction requires. I think a fair amount went into schools. My brother is on the school board at his childrens’ school; there, they put a new roof on the building and paved a parking lot. Useful improvements that made money for some people, but not anything that would show up as a big change on anyone’s radar screen or create lots of new jobs.

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  56. prospero said on August 4, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    Without the tax cut aspects of the stimulus, it would never have passed and the hostage unemployment benefits, themselves a fairly gigantic stimulus measure, would have been buried under the extortionist hideout. As with the consumer benefits to the economy of inducing corporations, somehow (appeals to common sense and patriotism do nothing with purposely deaf ears) this is a simple concept that is too taxing for American products of mediocre, funds -starved educational system and full-on, anti-self-interest delusions about where the money is being redistributed. Republicans have used propaganda and overt political thuggery to incite trickle-up of wealth, and they have a large chunk of the disenfranchised nitwits convinced they are on the winner’s end of the imbalance while getting indelible grass stains on their obese asses.

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  57. prospero said on August 4, 2011 at 7:52 pm


    And there is no greedy CEO looking to tank the company and get run out of Dodge with a golden parachute.

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  58. prospero said on August 4, 2011 at 7:55 pm


    The wonderful thing about the infrastructure projects you mention is the massive paper trail of photo ops for teabag poiticians like Gov. Good Hair taking credit for them. Whited GD sepulchres that are sure as shit gonna miss the Rapcha.

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  59. alex said on August 4, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    Re: Nance at 27 and 31—

    I actually did some research on the Melungeons in question buried in the aforementioned “negro cemetery” as part of my investigation into local Underground Railroad history. The family had sued for the right to vote both in Greene County, Ohio, and later upon their arrival here. Under the laws at that time in Ohio and Indiana, a man could vote if he were less than 50 percent negro, and the courts found in favor of the family in both suits. They were challenged here because they were voting Republican. (I would think they’re probably rolling in their graves over the party’s demise at the hands of neo-Confederates.) They were originally from Virginia and North Carolina.

    Their genealogy was also interesting in that they’d taken their mother’s surnames in keeping with the Lumbee tradition of matrilineal inheritance. I read that the Lumbee, like many native Americans, knew enough about genetics and disease that they were glad to absorb the blood of as many races as possible and that the native Americans of the east coast had become largely tri-racial by the nineteenth century.

    I’ve known a few people from the mid-south who identify as “Indian” rather than as black even though the casual observer would assume them to be black. But this is really how they see themselves, and they do not feel that they share a political or cultural kinship with the black population at large. Likewise with many Afro-Cubans and Afro-Caribbeans in general whom I’ve known who were full citizens in their native countries who have told me that the racial apartheid of the U.S. is distinctly different from anything else in this hemisphere.

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  60. Sue said on August 4, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    But mark, it sounds like business owners want it both ways. The argument that business owners need breaks of all kinds because unlike their employees they take all the risks doesn’t work alongside the argument that businesses need breaks in taxation and regulation in order to help them over the fear that is caused by taking all the risks.
    I guess it doesn’t matter, though; one of the other factors people are starting to recognize and discuss is the evidence that job creators can’t create jobs because there is no demand for anything (except apparently high end stuff). If you don’t have the money because there are no jobs you can’t buy the stuff that creates the jobs.

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  61. Jolene said on August 4, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    If you don’t have the money because there are no jobs you can’t buy the stuff that creates the jobs.

    Exactly right, Sue. I can’t imagine that, for instance, a restaurant owner would rather keep customers waiting than hire an extra waiter if there were customers enough to justify it. The whole point of stimulus is to create demand, and, for many reasons, there isn’t much of it out there. The government is the purchaser of last resort, but politics has made it impossible for the government to buy things–even though the world is willing to lend us money at incredibly low rates.

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  62. alex said on August 4, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    God be damned, mark at 49—

    The one time you’ve said anything I could wholeheartedly agree with.

    Indeed, the bubble was built on consumer credit and it will take many years to get the economic engine started again. We’ve gone from paupers living rock star lifestyles to having to live within their means (and oft-diminished means at that) and pay off a shitload of debt under new and very unforgiving bankruptcy laws that screw the innocent and the profligate alike.

    What really galls me, though, are the people here in bumfuck Low-Rentville who make $250K and can hold their noses and vote Republican even if they agree only on one damned thing and that’s their current level of taxation. I can see how it might be a hardship for people living in a place like NYC, and maybe taxation ought to be increased only for those making $500K+, but still.

    I do know a few people in the high tax bracket who say they wouldn’t have any problem paying their previous obligation, but they’re the rare few. They’re old money who don’t spend every last cent trying to impress upon others that they might be worth more than $250K.

    I figure we’ll eventually muddle through all of this and end up with a Western European-style economy after the facts manage to trickle down to the boobocracy who think watching FOX (or worse, Entertainment Tonight) is the same thing as watching the news, maybe in twenty-five years or something.

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  63. Linda said on August 4, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    The economic thing–we spent money we didn’t have, mostly because we didn’t have it, not because we were bums. Seriously, wages have been kept low, even though productivity has risen. Want a better economy? Get more money into lower income people’s hands. And yes, it would mean (shudder) more debt, but sometimes, you need debt. Everybody talks about how the government should run like a household, but a good household will judiciously create debt when they need to. If I personally didn’t, I wouldn’t have a college education, and my roof would be leaking. In fact, I would not own the house that I’ll own free and clear in 2 years. So stop with the crackerbarrel philosophizing, you dumb Washington politicians.

    As for the race thing: there is an afternoon show on the Shade45 Sirius station (hard core rap), and the host runs a call-in game called Black, White or Other. The host reads 5 news stories of criminality, malfeasance, or general tomfoolery, and the caller has to guess if the perp is…black, white or other. If you guess 3 out of 5, you get a T-shirt. The explanations that callers give for their racial guesses are a hoot.

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  64. basset said on August 4, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    I have even less interest in football than Nance, but as a part-time freelance voice-over guy I can attribute much of the early success of NFL Films to one person… John Facenda, the booth announcer. Minimum of three substantial testicles and probably more… that slow spiral and him going on about the frozen tundra of Green Bay, he could make your basic stupid football game sound like the end of the world. You could care less than nothing about football and you’d hang on every word just to hear what he was going to say next. He probably needed a special pocket in his chair just to sit comfortably.

    And I used to live across Lake Michigan due east of Green Bay, “frozen tundra” is about right.

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  65. Deborah said on August 4, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    My husband and I racked up a lot of debt in the 90s as a result of having 3 daughters in college (his two and my one). And I must say his daughters went to two of the most expensive schools, USC and Boston University. Little bird went to the Kansas City Art Institute. We also traveled a lot internationally for our own design education (subsidized by the fact that we had zillions of frequent flier miles to work with). During the oughts we realized we could not sustain that lifestyle and cut back. We bought 100 acres of land in Abiquiu, NM during the cutting back period but it worked for us financially somehow. He does the finances so don’t ask me. I guess my point is in solidarity with Linda, some times it makes sense to go into debt.

    Edit: how could I forget to mention moving to Chicago in 2003 and my husband starting his own architectural practice and getting a place here and an office, so debt, yes.

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  66. brian stouder said on August 4, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    So stop with the crackerbarrel philosophizing, you dumb Washington politicians.

    Hear, Hear, and Bravo!!

    How does an economy grow? Where does the money, or wealth (or capital) come from? Reading US history, and gaining even a superficial grasp of macro-economics and fiscal policy and mistaken concepts like “hard currency” and all the rest, one eventually learns that government is not an incidental player, much less an intruder, in economic matters. Government fiscal policies are intrinsic to the health (and growth) of the economy, and of wealth and capital.

    The tea-baggers seem to think that capital magically rains from heaven, or comes from Santa Claus (notably, an over-fed white man who dominates his physically small workforce of people who would be hard-pressed to escape his God-foresaken Company Town, at the ends of the Earth) and that evil government grinches and devils exist only to try and take wealth away, and burn it up.

    It is almost not an oversimplification to say that government could have GM and Ford and Chrysler stop building cars and triple their workforces and build around the clock; and ship all the production to the west coast, and have roll-on/roll-off cargo ships there take all the cars out to the middle of the Pacific ocean, and dump them into the deep, and then return for the next loads.

    And meanwhile, strictly ration food and fuel, and hire every able-bodied person (men and women), and ship those people all around the country (or anywhere in the world) to build roads and dig wells and construct bridges and staff schools and irrigate farm fields and clean up cities.

    In four or five years, let all the folks come back home (or go wherever they want), and let the car companies (et al) go back to selling their goods to the general public, and all the pent-up demand will give us a boom-economy for the next 30 years after that –

    just the way we did after 1945, and without killing 30,000,000 human beings. Afterall, there is no economic magic in war itself, and yet THAT huge and (literally) invasive government action somehow is forgiven, whereas building high-speed rail (for example) is an example of wasteful, pork barrel government spending to be OPPOSED!

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  67. Dexter said on August 5, 2011 at 2:28 am

    I have to call Time Warner cable regularly; usually about a few stations going dark for unspecified reasons, and then lately to get answers to the inexplicable Major League Baseball programming. For example, we were scheduled to get the White Sox game on tbs network Sunday. We do not get FoxSportsChicago, but we were blacked out per orders of mlb, according to Time Warner Cable phone answerers.
    Last night MLB Network provided two games, Cleveland / Boston, and Pittsburgh / Chicago Cubs. And again, we are far removed from any local packages from those two cities.
    We can’t choose, but we were scheduled to receive one of those games.
    They provided us with Cubs / Pirates…for one inning! Then the dark screen was all we got. Time Warner blamed Major League Baseball’s orders, but damn!—MLB had a crew there to televise the game to someone, and my area is not local to either city, so why the blackout? Time Warner Cable says they know nothing.

    I conservatively say I am missing about 15% of the shows I am paying for, or at least these stations are on my bill. This does not include OnDemand, which is non-functional about 10% of the time.

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  68. Suzanne said on August 5, 2011 at 7:02 am

    Tea-baggers and their ilk also seem to think that the free market is a benign god who only wants us all to be healthy and wealthy and wise. A god, who is, of course, wholly endorsed by the real God.

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  69. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 5, 2011 at 9:17 am

    There is no political answer to the problem of the consumer spending based economy. A command economy doesn’t work (multiple experimental tests since 1917, and the data’s in), while free marketeering’s effectiveness is contorted out of recognition by the creation of false demand on a culture-wide scale. Both parties will take their turns yelling from the beach at the tide, and when their shouts coincide with the almanac tables (that they never look at to start with), they will take credit until the turn and when their ankles start getting wet. Then they’ll scurry up the sand to the high ground and leave us all to take a soaking.

    Stouder, people on this blog can freely mock God, because God’s used to it, and it’s not a big deal. But you mocked Santa . . . repent. Repent! Or it will not be well for you in the latter days. (140 some odd, I’d calculate.)

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  70. Linda said on August 5, 2011 at 9:52 am

    The first two sentences of this story are worth the price of admission:

    “Ever have one of those nights where you wake up with a hangover and $1 million worth of architecture contracts?

    No? Martin Resendiz (D), the Mayor of Sunland Park, New Mexico, certainly has.”

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  71. Deborah said on August 5, 2011 at 10:11 am

    Hey, “it’s New Mexico” as my friends who live there say when their elected officials do something stupid, which is often.

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  72. Paddyi said on August 5, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    Pardon me but It’s New Mexicio, For pure political crookedness Massashucetts rules, Sorry but nobody beats the Bulger bros. for pure corruption. No other state even comes close to Massachsetts. aPolitical corruption was invented in Massachusetts. Michael Curley institutionalized it. Wven Illinois was just mimicing, Nancy, enjoy your vacation, I’m sorry for being an asshole and a thorn in your side. You provide a forum for me to actually talk to people that aren’t idiots on the net. I know I’m an asshole, and I’m sorry for my idiotic shit, You’re forbearance is important to me. Cunts are still ruling the world. I know you’ve seen that movie, and I know you know I’m right. People still tune in here because they think there might be something still to do about it. I bother because I think you and a lot of your devotees believe there is still a chance. I’m inclined to think there’s a community of people you’ve gathered that think there are human beings that believe people should take care of each other, Or I hope so. To me this seems like intelligence, connected with some obvious idea that we are supposed to take care of one another, I’m a fool for Christianity filtered through what I know about modern theological thought. Mostly Teilhard. We do not hurt each other, To me this seems like nobrain. Here’s the budget. Now we can fuck over the least of my children or not. PaPardin me but was Jesus clear on this shit or not? The Shakes/Marlowe version is the absolute word of God? Correct? You do not screw over the poorest among you, do you? That is what Jesus clearly said like he was some Elixabethan wannabe playwright. You fuck with Medicaid you are one asshole, right? How do these assholes justify this crap with their politics. Jesus didn’t really mean what he said? Let’s hear it from these shitheels that don’t really mean diddly about what Jesus said. Let’s here these shithead bastards explain. Well they can’t because they are whited sepulchres. They obviously don’t give a shit about anything Jesus ever said. And their explanation is forthcoming and teabaggers will buy their horseshit because they are teabaggers and too fucking stupid to know better.

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  73. Paddyi said on August 5, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    Good lord, people are this GD stupid. What is wrong with the human race? Morons, People actually voted for W. There is no conceivably way to be more of a fuccking cretin.

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