- Hey Nancy - I'm another Fort Wayne expat. (Escapee?) I'm so happy that you're doing well and you've found a medium where the quality of your readers might just rise to the level of your work. Great piece on Zevon. Brian
- I'm extremely unhappy with any sexist remarks made against Hillary Clinton. I thought the nutcracker was vile, and the grotesquely-named advocacy group was even worse. Randi Rhodes deserved to lose her job, and the "Iron my shirt" blast in New Hampshire was reprehensible. But, let's put all of these in their factual perspective. Calling Rhodes an "Obama surrogate" is a stretch that simply isn't supported by the facts. Rhodes never had a role in the Obama campaign. She never appeared at campaign events speaking with Obama. She spoke for herself alone, at an event that was not organized by the Obama campaign, and that the campaign had no knowledge of. There's a hell of a difference between Rhodes relationship with Obama and, say, ex-BET chairman Robert Johnson and Clinton's campaign. The idiot who yelled "Iron my shirt" in New Hampshire was a morning shock jock who did it just to get some publicity for himself. Same with the creator of C.U.N.T - he's a GOP operative who's made his entire career out of slimy groups like this, most of them against the Clinton's. The Hillary nutcracker isn't even a half-step removed from the similarly vile crap that sprang from the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy's gift shop ten years ago. And that stupid Hillary/KFC e-mail has never been spread by the Obama campaign. So answer me this: How the hell is Barack Obama responsible for any of this? How did he become the bad guy for these Clinton supporters? He's had not one damn thing to do with any of this. There is only the thinnest of connections to his campaign when one exists at all. Is responsible for every chauvinist pig because he has a Y-chromosome? Another question: What is the statute of limitations for being a vile, sexist piece of shit? A candidate in this race today once said that Chelsea Clinton was so ugly because Janet Reno was her father. Not only is Hillary Clinton not outraged - she can't stop praising John McCain's character. Just two weeks ago she walked into the office of Richard Mellon Scaife and left hickies on the man's ass. This is someone who made it his life's work to destroy her and her family - including paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to "prove" she had her best friend murdered. Bill Clinton goes on Rush Limbaugh's show and everything was sweetness? This all gets a pass, but Obama has collected the most raving group of sexists since Bobby Riggs disbanded his fan club, and they're all running some secret cabal connected to GOP hacks who have kept their kids in orthodontics doing this to the Clinton's, third-rate talk radio hosts, and the Jerry and Mike Morning Zoo on Nashua's Classic Rock. Look at the disparity and tell me how Hillary Clinton is not just cynically using charges of sexism - and exploiting decades of real discrimination experienced by her supporters - to win an election?
- Harl - the short answer to that question is that Obama has made that speech many times. Not exactly in your words, but he has made a constant theme out of respecting people we disagree with - including Hillary Clinton. This gets to what I was asking earlier - how is he responsible for people who don't work for his campaign, and in most cases don't support him? Deb - what I would say to your SIL is: "You're an idiot." I know, I need to work on the kindler and gentler thing... I agree with your point about the language of strength and gender, but both words have problems. Hillary Clinton has made being a woman a central thesis of her campaign. For some voters that is a reason to vote for her, a much smaller number would never vote for a woman, but I think for the largest group her gender is irrelevant. It's not the strong part that bothers me. I expect strength in a presidential candidate and I've never doubted that Clinton has it. But if being a woman is relevant to deciding between two candidates for president, you have to show me why. What about having ovaries will make you a better president than these male candidates? The only answers I've heard for that question are that there has never been a woman president, therefore if everyone is qualified it would be sexist to not choose the woman candidate. Or, as Clinton has repeatedly put it in her only attempt at reasoning on this question that I've heard, "It's about time we had a woman president." Sorry, that doesn't wash. So far as I know it didn't wash for Golda Meir or Margaret Thatcher, either. It's not about being twice as strong or hawkish as a man in order to be taken seriously, it's about being so competent and confident in your abilities that your gender doesn't matter. "It's about time we had a woman ____________" is poison. You need to be able to say "I'm the best candidate in the field. Period." I am absolutely convinced that a woman will be elected president of the United States in the immediate future. But I'm even more certain that when she does run, she will make her gender as much of a non-issue as Barack Obama made race for his campaign. One more thought for y'all. This fighting is much more generational than it is about gender.
- Suzi - I've heard her say on several occasions, and at least once in debates. Here's one from an interview on ABC around the NH primary http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/Vote2008/story?id=4097786 Quote: "And during Saturday's New Hampshire debates, Clinton became noticeably agitated as she responded to a statement made by former Sen. John Edwards, in which he defended Illinois Sen. Barack Obama's pledge for change and suggested Clinton was the candidate for the status quo. "Making change is not about what you believe or about making a speech, it's about working hard," Clinton said after Edward's statement, in which he said, "Anytime you speak out for change, this is what happens. The forces for status quo are going to attack." Then, a little bit louder, she said, "I want to make change, but I've already made change. I'm not running on a promise of change. But on 35 years of change. … We don't need to raise false hopes of people in our country about what can be delivered." "I think that having a first woman president is a huge change," said Clinton, raising her voice. " "
- Okay - Pennsylvania predictions anyone? I'm guessing Clinton 51-Obama 48.
- The bad news, Nancy, is that you left Indiana two years before its once-in-a-century brush with relevancy. The good news is, you don't have to write about it for the N-S. ;)
- Nice column for the WaPo, Nancy. You classed up their joint. Eleven forty-something and still waiting for Lake County. Clinton has a 38K vote lead, the talking heads report there are 220K still outstanding. Obama could win this damn thing. It's been a very good day. I spent a few hours standing outside the polling place at Assembly Hall with an Obama sign, then met a lot of other volunteers and staffers at Opie Taylor's. The volunteers were of every age, but all of the staffers are in their twenties. They're amazing. Working with these kids has scrubbed away a decade or two of cynicism. We're going to be okay when they get their hands on the keys. 11:52 now. Lake County has (finally) started to report. Margin is down to under 20,000, with just 28% of Lake reporting. Closer to home, Monroe County/Bloomington is still counting the votes cast today and they haven't even started the 5,000 early votes cast, mostly by students at the university. He's going to win this.
- Not sure where McCain is distancing himself as far from Bush as humanly possible. From where I sit I see him practically tripping over himself to show the GOP base that he'll be even Bushier on tax cuts/economics, judicial appointments, privatizing Social Security, and staying in Iraq until six months after Tom Friedman is officially dead. I understand why McCain is doing this. He has to raise money and the only people who might be inclined to throw him some cash are the most hardcore of the Republican faithful. He has to win them over and they still think Mr. Twenty-six Percent is one of the best presidents evah. The problem for McCain is, its not working. He raised just $18 million in April - the first full month after he locked up the GOP nomination. Obama had his worst month in the entire campaign in this period and outraised McCain by almost 2:1. McCain's campaign is spinning the April numbers as his best ever, but its conclusive proof that the Bush money people aren't getting behind him - not even after he's locked up the nomination. I think one of the big political stories of the summer will be how McCain handles this. At some point he has to pivot back to the middle if he's going to have a prayer in November. If he has another month like April I think he might make a big production out of rebuking the GOP power structure and getting back to his mavrickness. No doubt the working press will greet him with sprinkled donuts and his coffee made just the way he likes it.
- Speaking of classic interviews, Stephen Colbert interviewed FRC president Tony Perkins last night. As the kids say, much pwnage ensued... http://www.comedycentral.com/colbertreport/videos.jhtml?videoId=168731
- The AP's business model isn't my problem, and they don't have an exception from the Fair Use provisions of copyright law. Targeting small bloggers who can't afford to legally defend themselves from this abuse of the copyright laws is deplorable. Your defense of the AP is largely correct, but they deserve all the shit they're getting over this.
- Sorry I missed this yesterday. Question for everyone, that for me is at the center of any discussion on changing the system: Can you get effective reform (either lower costs for those who have coverage or more people covered for the same cost) with the for-profit insurance industry as the gatekeeper for healthcare?
- Getting back to cable news after the election (I know, a day late...), I had either MSNBC or CNN on in the background all day for the first eleven months of 2008, but in the last three weeks I've pulled a muscles lunging for the remote after just a few minutes. As they say about Florida, it's not the heat - it's the stupidity. My tolerance for their "areyouf*ckingkiddingme?" standards of reporting evaporated the moment the election was decided. Maybe I never needed to know what was happening every minute of the day during the campaign, but that was the only reason that made watching even tolerable. I'm not surprised by their horrible coverage of the Mumbai attacks, or their psychologically sick obsession with Bill and Hillary Clinton. Now I'm back to relying mostly on the NewsHour, reading good papers and blogs that deserve my time.
- Down Goes Tribune Corp. http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2008/12/tribune-files-for-bankruptcy.html
- Grrrrr..... As irritating as it is for newspaper people to listen or read to bloggers gloss over the role of basic reporting, it is just as infuriating for news lovers like myself to read self-serving garbage like this. Nancy, I loves ya, but when you were writing about HBO putting "All the Presidents Men" back in rotation, did it occur to you for one second that maybe readers would pay more attention to newspapers if we didn't have to watch a 30 year-old movie for an example of that kind of reporting? You worry about having to wonder if a blogger reporting on a school board meeting is screwing the superintendent? What do you think happened when I read the financial pages of any newspaper in America this year? Or the way every paper with a DC bureau, with the sole exception of KR, did damn little more than regurgitate the administration line for the last eight years. Hell, let's talk about all the hard-hitting, Reporting 101 that the Freep and the News on the disastrous management of GM and Chrysler. They rightly went after Kilpatrick, but they were overwhelmingly silent on how Wagoner ran GM to the brink of failure. Who did more damage to Michigan this year? Who got the most critical coverage in the local news? And if school board and city council meetings are so important, then why do even small papers give them so little coverage beyond a Cliff's Notes of the minutes? It's not a symptom of these times, either. Molly Ivins included in her first book a piece she wrote almost 40 years ago bemoaning the antiseptic coverage of local government. (I'm paraphrasing) "A meeting awash in double-dealing, back-stabbing and horse-trading will be reported as 'The council took no action on Thursday.' " Sound familiar? The best print reporting I've seen this year have been post-mortems. The WSJ had a terrific long-piece this last weekend on the collapse of Lehman. The WaPo is doing amazing work in a three-part series this week on the failure of AIG. Great stuff, and the writers deserve whatever awards come their way. But earlier this year when I needed to learn exactly what was subprime, or a CDS, I had to go to financial blogs like Big Picture, Calculated Risk and Naked Capitalism. The print media was too busy reporting the spin instead of doing the shoe leather work. If you ask me, that's why newspapers are failing among people who are serious about the news. You need a thirty year-old movie to remind us of how important good reporting is. I need to be informed about what is going on before everyone is picking through the rubble. If newspapers can't or won't do it, don't bitch at me for finding someone who can.
- Hey guys - I've missed the site for a month or so. The new design looks great, Nance. I don't set out to be an asshole every time I post here, but this might give some ongoing reasons to wonder. I think these eulogies for Rick Wagoner are the Himalayas of bullshit. Let's dissect what Nancy's friend wrote. Wagoner got a raw deal because GM's major problems were making shitty cars. What could Wagoner have had to do with that? After all, he was just the CEO for nine years and president of North American ops for three years before that. Just because the CEO has to sign off on every model before it's approved for production doesn't mean he had anything to do with the car side of the business in that time, right? Not that it matters because the "shitty cars" indictment is the Everest of bullshit. To hear people like this commentator tell it, GM is as popular with buyers as Yugo or Daewoo. But the last I checked, the #1 automaker in the US market and a very close #2 in global production was General Motors. That's a neat trick considering that GM supposedly only makes cars that buyers don't want. And GM is in trouble because of the UAW contracts? How is it that the labor costs are destroying GM and Chrysler, but Ford has the same contract, has seen their sales fall by the same amount - but is surviving well enough to not even ask for loan guarantees? The same is true for health care costs. How are they killing GM but not Ford? But what really pisses me off about this piece of hack work is how supposedly intelligent commentators totally miss the story. US automakers do pay more in health care than transplants even for active employees - because three decades of layoffs and callbacks have left the US automakers with a much older workforce. I used to work for a Tier 1 supplier for domestics and transplants, and the difference in the age of a typical assembly worker was huge. The workforce at a Toyota or Honda transplant is close to reflecting the population as a whole. At a GM plant you have to look hard to find anyone on the line who is under the age of 40, and I'd guesstimate that the median age has to be close to 50. That means you've got a workforce that's closer to the top of the pay scale and it costs a hell of a lot more to give them health insurance. This isn't because of the UAW contract. If Marysville or Georgetown had been through the same cycle of layoff and recall as Ford's Lorraine plant or the Jeep plants in Toledo, Honda and Toyota would have close to the same employee demographics and costs. But explaining the difference in health care costs isn't the missing story. It's how the cost of buyer incentives used by all of the US automakers cost them far more than the difference in employee and pension costs. With the rarest of exceptions, every model produced by the domestics will have at least a thousand dollars in discounts hung on the nose of the car just to get the buyer on the lot, and it's often multiples of that. It comes in rebates, holdbacks, financing incentives and sometimes all three. It's self-destructive behavior for the automakers and the buyers (all of those incentives on new cars kneecap the resale value of the car you got a rebate on five years ago) but after 30 years of almost endless rebates the customers of Ford, GM and Chrysler have come to expect them. Forget the UAW, the addiction to incentives is the greatest threat to the long-term survival of the domestic auto industry. Back to Wagoner...How in the name of God can you talk about GM under Wagoner's tenure and not talk about the disastrous forays into finance? Making GMAC into a major subprime and Alt A mortgage lender was Wagoner's call. So was buying Ditech at the peak of the bubble. And let's not forget about the absolute goatscrew that is Delphi. Spinning off the supplier side of the company was actually a good idea, but Wagoner mismanaged it so badly that it ended up costing GM billions. These three screwups - all Wagoner's from start to finish - is what bled GM of its cash reserves and made it impossible to borrow. Every major automaker, even Saint Honda, are seeing sales fall by 40-50%. But only GM and Chrysler have been pushed to the brink of oblivion because of really dumb deals that had little or nothing to do with making cars. GM is fucked because Rick Wagoner wanted to be Jack Welch when he grew up. He wanted to make GM into a multifaceted conglomerate that happened to make cars the way GE happens to make lightbulbs, and like GE he wanted the heart of the new company to be in finance. He FUBAR'ed it and probably destroyed the company in the process. If Wagoner is truly the rarest of birds - a CEO without an ego - it damn well better be because he has nothing to be proud of. Dexter: It’s my opinion that only American Automotive-haters buy Tacoma trucks, when Ford and Chevy make far superior models My 2005 Toyota Tacoma was made by UAW workers in Fremont, California. I made sure it was built in Fremont before I bought it. GM and Ford are far superior? Have you actually driven a Chevy Colorado? It was hands-down the worst vehicle I've ever driven. I actually like the Ford Ranger a lot, especially with the four-cylinder and five speed, but Ford's heavy use of incentives over the years have destroyed the resale value of Rangers. If you pushed a Ranger out of a cargo plane and plotted its descent to earth it would probably be a little less steep than the depreciation curve. My Tacoma gets 25 highway and 20 in town, cost me just over $14K new and has depreciated about $3000 in the last four years. Show me another American-made truck that can beat all of that and I'll buy it.
- @jeff borden: I would say that it's just as important for politicians to grow up about the sex lives of the country. Until those politicians do mature, I have no problem with pointing and laughing hysterically when they are caught in their hypocrisy. Never underestimate the curative powers of ridicule.
- Programs I can't live with: iTunes - As someone noted earlier it's just an abortion of code on Windows unless you're using an iPod. Real Player - A parasite of a program. Won't take no for an answer, specifically when you say you don't want it to be your default player for everything. Adobe Acrobat - You think Word is bloated? MS has nothing on the braintrust that creates Acrobat. It's massively bloated and - somehow - one of the most consistently vulnerable programs you can put on your computer. Norton Antivirus - Bloated, slow, expensive, crappy customer service, and it can make your computer run like your hard drive is spinning in molasses. It's one redeeming value is that it's better than McAfee. MS Outlook - Thunderbird beats it like a rug for home users and is free. There are still some advantages for Outlook in company networks, but MS deserves to be smacked for not updating the organizing tools. I know people who would give up a kidney to get Gmail's conversation structure on their Outlook accounts. Programs I can't live without: Ziepod - a great free (and stable) podcast catcher. Foxit PDF Reader - It's small, it's secure, it's amazingly faster than Acrobat...and it allows editing .pdf's if you're willing to accept a small Foxit ad at the bottom of your document. If you can't take that, Foxit Phantom cost hundreds less than Acrobat Creator. AVG Anti-virus - Free, fast, not a resource hog, very good anti-virus protection and it's easy to use and understand. Zone Alarm - Like Foxit, a program so good in every way that it makes you feel a little dirty to accept their free version. CCleaner - Formerly known as Crap Cleaner, this is a fast and thorough little program to clean up all the garbage on your system. Removes all but the worst spyware in a fraction of the time it takes to scan your computer with Ad Aware. Ad Aware - It's slow, and the user interface is horribly unintuitive when you get to the part about what to do with the 43,850 pieces of spyware on your computer. But it's still the best I've used at finding spyware. Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird - Just so much better than everything else. I downloaded IE8 for grins and tried to set it up like my Firefox install. That ended about two minutes later when a window popped up advising me that IE8 can't accept more than six or seven tabs for the homepage. (/facepalm) About Google Docs - I agree with Eric Zorn. Works great, but it is missing some features for longer pieces and researching, and there are concerns about security.
- DougJ at Balloon Juice on journamalism at the WaPo: http://www.balloon-juice.com/?p=30714 Sums up my feelings as well as anything I've found.
- Things to make you feel happy about the future of the news media: Columbia University appointed Politico executive editor Jim VandeHei to the Pulitzer Prize Board. [quote] “In many ways, the Pulitzer Board is on the same mission as POLITICO: to embrace new media while fighting to protect the highest standards for writing, reporting and accuracy. I am honored to be a part of this effort,” VandeHei said. [/quote] That would be the same VandeHei who told staffers he wanted stories that would get links from Matt Drudge, and the same VandeHei who has his reporters doing stories like this: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/12/7/811632/-Politico-fishing-for-buyers-remorse-story
- Nance - I've been aware of Ebert for most of my life, but I found his writing through you. Thank you for that, and this.
- Al Micheals gave me my favorite Olympic memory, and last night he did his damndest to take it away. DougJ at Balloon Juice got what I was feeling. Al Michaels on the 1980 US hockey gold: “People went from burning American flags to waving them”. Shoot me. http://www.balloon-juice.com/2010/02/21/miracle-on-ice/
- I don't know about new media shoving out the deadtree campus paper. I would hope that J-schools are focused on teaching kids how to report instead of getting wrapped up in the medium.
- @ Jeff Borden: When the commander in chief visits a military unit he is traditionally given a military-style jacket or hat that has the presidential seal and the emblem or name of that unit. This has been a tradition for a long time and the president will wear it when meeting with the troops. Bush took it a lot farther than most in using it as a prop for televised speeches and media photo ops. But that is something the Obama administration has rolled back as the pictures from this trip show. Our sader menu: Mixed greens salad with feta cheese, candied walnuts, cranberries and mandarin orange slices, with raspberry vinaigrette dressing Eggplant mushroom bisque Herb-rubbed salmon roast with portabello mushrooms, roma tomatoes and provelone cheese Quinoa salad Flourless chocolate cake
- Cheap external hard drives and online backup services have made backups a lot easier, but the pricing and features have complicated things. Online backup services offer the most comprehensive protection and the price is great, as long as you have one computer and a fast internet connection going out of your house. All of the online backup services charge by the computer or the total storage space, and they're not friendly to houses with multiple computers and/or big media libraries. If you have four computers in your house the $4.95 a month for Mozy unlimited turns into $20 and the cost benefit goes out the window. Mozy and Carbonite both offer business service to back up multiple computers, and Dropbox has the same pricing structure aimed at home users, but those have size limits that will easily be broken by anyone with a decent iTunes collection. You'll also need cable internet service or a high-end DSL package to use online backups. Basic and (some) mid-level DSL service doesn't have the upstream speed to make online backups feasible. External hard drives have the same issues with multiple computers. A basic backup hard drive like a Seagate Free Agent or WD My Passport has software that will automatically back up one computer, but it can't be used to back up all the computers on your home network. There are two ways around this. The easiest but more expensive way is to buy a NAS (Network Attached Storage) external hard drive like the Western Digital My Book World. These plug into your network instead of an individual computer and the software is great at performing continuous backups of your files and system settings. They do cost a little more than a more basic drive, but it's not outrageous ($199 for the 1TB WD World) and you do get a lot for your money. The cheap way to go is to buy an external hard drive, plug it into one computer as a shared drive (don't install the included backup program) and then use a free third-party backup program like FBackup on all of your computers to back up to this drive once or twice a day. It works great, but the host computer (the one the drive is plugged into) needs to be turned on when the other systems do their backup and FBackup isn't as polished as other backup programs. There is one last option: The best Microsoft product you've probably never heard of is Windows Home Server. I am in love with this program. It has very low hardware requirements so you can install it on an old PC if you have one laying around, it's incredibly stable, they've done a great job of making the setup and use easy for non-geeks, and it offers a huge amount of features for the price. It will back up all of the computers in your home network automatically (including Mac's) and unlike most external hard drives you can totally rebuild a broken (Windows) system using the Home Server backup. WHS also works as a media center for storing files to be played on any computer or device like an XBOX, and it monitors the computers on the network for problems. You can buy a pre-configured Windows Home Server box for less than $300, or if you have an old computer just buy the program and a terabyte hard drive for ~$150. Either way it's a steal. (Good review of WHS here: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/bott/microsoft-hits-a-home-run-with-windows-home-server/244) One last thing for Windows users: When you're selecting what files to back up, choose the entire Documents and Settings folder. This will get your documents and music files, but it will also grab all of your program settings and emails if you're using an email client like Outlook or Thunderbird.
- Good to know I'm among people who will understand why, should ever meet Carly Simon, the one thing I want to ask is if Mick Jagger really owned a race horse name "Naturally". Grumble, grumble... Prospero, thanks for posting that video. The Kinks are the only band I can think of from the sixties that can be called underrated.
- Landis forever lost any credibility when he tried to blackmail Greg LeMond - by exposing that LeMond had been molested. Remember that? http://velonews.competitor.com/2007/05/news/lemond-drops-bombshell-at-landis-hearing_12271 I used to ride in amateur races when I was a teenager. I've never believed that Armstrong was clean. There was such a massive jump in his performance after his comeback, it was like he was a different rider. Before his comeback he had won two stages in four or five TdF's, at an age when he should have been at his physical peak. He won twenty after the age of 29. For comparison, Eddie Mercx had won the fourth of his five TdF's at the age when Armstrong had won his first. Being a good rider in your twenties and then ripping off seven TdF's in your thirties just doesn't happen.
- An overlooked gem of a montage from The Wire (with bonus Prezboluski cursing in Italian...) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-l65IpcG9E
- "Democracy is the theory that the people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." - Mencken What makes a good chaser for Brawndo?
- A timely connection to Nance's post on the PCRM: David Cay Johnson on the failure of beat reporting. "It’s not like there isn’t important and revealing news all around us. There is. It’s just that we seem swept up in a herd mentality with too narrow a focus and too much eagerness to rely on what sources tell us rather than asking these same people to address important facts that lie in plain sight in the public record." http://www.nieman.harvard.edu/reports/article/102499/Its-Scary-Out-There-in-Reporting-Land.aspx
- Saw Black Swan this weekend. Easily one of the worst movies I've ever seen. Portman is totally unconvincing as the delusional child-woman, the supporting cast is nails-on-chalkboard off key, the story couldn't find the ring of truth with a map, and the whole thing is suffocated in Arfonsky's pretentious, heavy-handed directing.
- The artwork on Palin's site was worse than that. Via TBogg, here's another graphic they used on the same campaign and a write up from Townhall.com that is only too happy to play along with Palin's theme: http://townhall.com/tipsheet/JillianBandes/2010/09/27/sarah_palins_take_back_20
- "I hope the car’s half as good. You’re certainly going to sell a shitload of them here." (Insert uncomfortable silence) Unfortunately Chrysler chose to highlight the 200 in this spot. Until a few months ago this car was called the Sebring, and it was hailed as probably the worst American car made in the last 30 years. Fiat did a hurry up refresh for this year that greatly improved the interior, retuned the suspension and cleaned up the exterior styling, but it still lags far behind the best in this class. I don't mean to dump on Chrysler. What Fiat has done in less than two years is a genuine miracle. But he should have been driving the new 300.
- Update on why Chrysler chose the 200 (via Autoblog) "(Chrysler president) Olivier Francois told Autoblog by email from Europe Monday morning that the reason he used the Chrysler 200 was that the 300 is built in Ontario, while the 200 is built in Sterling Heights, MI. Given the Detroit-centric nature of the ad and the campaign slogan, he thought it best to kick it off with a Michigan product." http://www.autoblog.com/2011/02/07/opinion-chrysler-advertises-detroit-with-eminem-during-super-bo/#continued I don't know if you have to be a deep-in-the-weeds industry geek to get this, but for a division president to make this kind of stand on principle is up there with virgin birth. Not long ago any of the big three would have put a car made in Mexico at the center of this ad if that was the model they wanted to move. The ad is a love letter to Detroit, but insisting on a car made there even if its not their best or most profitable model is a sign of respect for the city that hasn't been seen in a long time. Bravo.
- Anyone else watch the cat video and think of Tbogg's bassets in super slow-mo? (I know, step away from the internets...)
- On a happier note, maybe, Chrysler is now offering "Imported from Detroit" t-shirts. (h/t Autoblog) http://www.collection.chrysler.com/dept_prod.asp?dept_id=112
- First thought: What a lovely girl. Second thought (breaking in before I could completely finish the first): Is that barely-a-teenager-child in the background playing a Paul Reed Smith?!? Much old man grumbling/jealousy followed, but I'll spare everyone the ugly details.
- Nance - For the love of all that is holy, please keep that guitar story out of Albom's reach. (Yes, the back of any standard kitchen counter should be enough. I'm here all week.) Best wishes to the owner of the PRS. Two relatives picked up carpal tunnel from factory work and it is a bitch.
- Pretty good job on the redesign. The sliding sidebar is a little annoying, but I suspect that's mostly a matter of getting used to it. If you do want to tinker with it, might want to make it fixed and have the comments a scrolling window within. Your web designer should send his or her resume to Gawker. God knows they could use some help.
- Nancy - sweartoGawd my first thought when I saw the picture involved Tim Allen, another public drinking/DWI charge, and The Smoking Gun.
- Bravo, Coozledad, bravo. Nance - AT&T has a calculator to show how far their plans go (http://www.att.com/standalone/data-calculator/index.html). Streaming audio doesn't chew up a ton of bandwidth, but AT&T's base plan has so little that you're going to get hosed with even a little listening. The 200MB base plan won't cover 15 minutes of streaming audio per day even if you don't get a single email or surf the web once. Get the 2GB plan now.
- "God created the Beechcraft Bonanza to keep the world from being overrun with doctors." - old airport joke. @Joe: "If you don’t put fuel in them it will happen a lot. Just speculation, but the witnesses said the engine was sputtering and it didn’t burn." Yep. That's what I thought when I saw the picture of the crash. It hit at a very shallow angle so he did a good job trying to get it down. He clearly didn't stall from any significant altitude. But I'd be really surprised if he hit hard enough to kill three people and not have a fire if there was fuel on board. Dork the ex-ramp rat
- @Brian Stouder: "And (if I remember correctly) they gave the doctor’s age as 46. So – he was smart enough to get through medical school, but too stupid to realize that he wasn’t a pilot." It's not about stupid. The most common source of problems is that a lot of private pilots don't fly enough after they get their license to stay proficient. According to Plane & Pilot magazine, the average private pilot flies 40 hours a year. And that's the average, a large percentage of pilots are going to be below that. That's bad enough if you only rent a basic, low-performance plane like a Cessna 172 to put around in on days when the weather is perfect. Even in that situation, if a problem comes up it's really easy for a pilot who doesn't fly enough to get overwhelmed and fall fatally behind the curve. But it's made a lot worse when you're flying a high-performance plane like the Bonanza. The plane itself isn't dangerous. To the contrary, the Bonanza is renown for its benign handling and flying characteristics. It's really great for IFR flying at night or in reduced visibility if you have the training and skills to do that. But even though the Bonanza inspires a lot of confidence, it is a big, fast, complex airplane that can get you in deep trouble quickly if you don't know exactly what you're doing. The doctor joke I made in the earlier post is shorthand for most planes in the Bonanza's class. You have to have a job that pays incredibly well to afford a half-million dollar personal airplane. But that often means you don't have the time to devote to flying after you get your license. Mix in a little hubris ("I'm a very successful doctor/lawyer/whatever so I know what I'm doing here, too.") that becomes a recipe for disaster. I love flying in small planes, but I won't fly with anyone who has less than 500 hours or flies less than an hour a week.
- @MarkH: "Also (Pilot Joe and bhd, correct me if I’m wrong) statistics also show the most common occupations of part-time pilots involved in private plane crashes. They are high-earning individuals in complicated or stressful jobs. They have so much skull-chatter from the occupations, these people have a propensity to not keep their minds on the job at hand (flying the plane!). They miss something. The big three are top level executives, like CEOs, doctors and lawyers." I haven't seen any research on general aviation crashes and the pilot's occupation. I'd be amazed if business owner, doctor and lawyer weren't at the top of the list - because those three professions (plus professional pilots) cover the vast majority of small plane owners in my experience. I can't buy in to the statements like "so much skull-chatter from the occupations, these people have a propensity to not keep their minds on the job at hand". GA planes don't have cockpit voice recorders, let alone mind readers. Sometimes an accident investigation will report that the pilot was distressed or distracted before the flight began, and it is something NTSB will look at, but that's not limited to certain professions. It's just as easy for a 20,000 hour airline pilot to be distracted as a lawyer. From my experience, maybe more likely. Full disclosure before this next bit: I'm not a pilot. I worked for about ten years in line service (refueling, tugging planes from place to place) for corporate and general aviation at two airports in Arizona. I still have a lot of great friends who fly professionally, and what I'm going to say next is from conversations with them. Every pilot will have things go wrong. The more you fly, the more problems you'll encounter. Instruments will fail or, sometimes more tragically, give incorrect readings. If you fly at night sooner or later you will have the entire cockpit go black. Radios die at the worst moments. Engines that you check methodically during your preflight and maintain religiously will sputter or spit, or stop working altogether. And that's just the things that can go wrong with the plane. Traffic controllers can give you incorrect instructions, or you can hear them wrong. The weather will close in way faster than flight service told you it would. And so on and so on. Even if you do everything perfectly (you won't) shit will happen. The difference between crashing and not crashing is how quickly you recognize the problem, identify what it is, decide the right course of action, and execute it. There are very few catastrophic, sudden events that come up out of nowhere through no fault of your own. In the overwhelming number of crashes (and this goes for cars as well as airplanes) you have time to do something. The more quickly your recognize it, the more time and options you'll have to work with. Good flying is good risk management. This is why proficiency is so important. New pilots are focusing all of their attention on what they are doing at that instant. If you keep flying regularly after you get your license, the basics become second nature and you can begin to take in the bigger picture. What's ahead that I need to plan for? Are the fuel gauges indicating what I expect for this point in the flight? (A more important question than "Do I have gas?") Of all the things that can go wrong, what is most likely and what would be the most serious? What do I need to do for each? What would happen before that I need to check into now? Wash, rinse, repeat. That's when you start to become a good pilot. But if you don't keep flying, you don't give yourself the chance to get there. If you only drag yourself to the airport every couple of months on a Saturday to get a $100 hamburger or visit your family on the other end of the state, a big part of you is learning to fly all over again every time you get behind the controls. Try to imagine if, after finishing drivers ed, you only drove for 45-50 minutes a week. How good of a driver would you become? That's the average for private pilots in the US. But wait, it gets worse. When I say proficiency, I mean proficiency in the highest skill level you're achieved. This is where the stereotypical Bonanza owner screws himself. He usually has total proficiency in the basic skills he learned flying a little, fixed-gear Cessna. But now he's licensed to fly a plane that goes twice as fast and can use instruments to fly in reduced visibility. That's his new base level of proficiency, and the time investment needed to become and stay proficient rises sharply with the complexity of the plane and flying on instruments. It might be impossible. There's a long-standing debate in general aviation if non-professional pilots can ever get enough experience flying in reduced visibility to become safe, proficient instrument pilots. (FWIW, my vote is no.) Anyway, that was the base level of proficiency for this Bonanza pilot. Was he proficient? Two major crashes, at least one caused by running out of fuel, say no. I should have apologized for rambling a thousand words back. If you made it this far I hope it wasn't too painful.
- @MarkH - Yeah, you're definitely safe about saying pilot error is the cause of most crashes. I just don't like to make broad statements about some kinds of pilots having more on their mind than others. I'm a regular reader of Flying, too. I haven't seen the book your referring to so maybe I'm taking the excerpt out of context, but I disagree with the tone. I've never seen it as always blaming the pilot when something bad happens. This is a very high barrier when talking about pilots, but I don't project ego onto it. I see post-mortem crash reports as a way of keeping that loss from being in vain. Sometimes they're seemingly big, dumb, and obvious mistakes, like running out of fuel. But as hard as it is, it's maybe even more important to have an honest accounting when a handful of small errors or oversights sets the stage for a disaster. AF442 is a great example. I don't think anyone can call that flight crew negligent, but at a critical moment in the middle of a brutal thunderstorm they failed to correctly see and respond to what was happening and just a couple of minutes of responding incorrectly sealed their fate. That will show up in simulator training for years to come and lives may well be saved because of it. About instrument training, if every CFII does drill into their students not to be afraid it's because they're already scared to death. I've known several flight instructors who took the instrument certification, each with over a thousand hours of flying, and to a person they were all scared during their instrument training. It's tough, very expensive, very, very easy to fail, and flying under the hood (where you can only see the instrument panel) is incredibly stressful.
- @Joe - Nice job working around those storms. Tip of the hat to Indy Center, too. Did the 310 have radar?
- The "10% of people in any profession are bad" is a bit of cultural herpes left to us by Jack Welch from his days of running GE. He created/pulled out of his ass this idea that all of GE's companies should find the worst-performing 10% of employees every year and fire them. It doesn't require thinking so conservatives and the idiot wing of the libertarian movement have latched on to it as gospel, never mind that it's one of the reasons Welch left GE a train wreck of a company that had to be saved by TARP two years ago.
- There was a hostage situation this week here in Bloomington. The police department has a Brinks truck-type vehicle for its SWAT team, but the local paper had a picture of SWAT officers using a plain Chrysler minivan to get in close. http://www.heraldtimesonline.com/stories/2011/08/01/ul_SHOOTING03+Z.jpg Story: http://www.heraldtimesonline.com/stories/2011/08/01/news.222574.sto
- @ Connie - The HT turns off the paywall for some stories, at least for a few days. I think all of their coverage of the Sprier case is still available.
- "Nancy, have you ever considered putting up a FAQ on Mitch Albom and Bob Greene, especially for the benefit of newcomers to this site?" I imagine the Kickback Lounge would have to deliver something 80 proof or higher to make that job tolerable.
- You may have seen this, Nance - but I stumbled upon (via Balloon Juice) the Voice of San Diego new reporter guidelines this morning and what a breath of fresh air. (My favorite part: "We're not someone's goddamn transcription service." If only someone could pass that along to the Times and WaPo...) VoSD backs it up, too. They've done some terrific reporting over the last few years. http://pressthink.org/2011/09/if-he-said-she-said-journalism-is-irretrievably-lame-whats-better/#aftermatter
- And cue Mitch in five, four, three...
- Cooz - I'm not moving my chips. Romney's negatives among Republican voters are sky high and I don't think he has a prayer of winning anything beyond New Hampshire. He is to the GOP what Lieberman is to the Democrats. All of the party leaders and DC press corps may think he's the only choice but he's permanently pissed off huge swaths of his own party. The Republican base may have moved from Palin to Bachmann to Perry and now to Cain, but they're not going to Romney.
- @Pilot Joe - I'm an ex-ramp rat and as big a supporter of GA as you'll find anywhere, but it's a hell of a stretch to connect the end of a special tax break for corporate jet operators to The End Of Airport Improvements As We Know It. What Obama proposed was a change to the depreciation rule on corporate aircraft. Right now corporate operators have an accelerated depreciation schedule compared to airlines. (Even though the market shows that corporate aircraft depreciate much more slowly than airliners.) All the president proposed was changing that to match what commercial operators use. Also, the underlying argument that GA pays a disproportionate amount of the revenue into the trust fund is pure fiction. Taxes collected from non-Part 121 (non-scheduled carrier operations) fuel sales don't even pay for the upkeep at airports without commercial service. In 2010, the Trust Fund tax collected on all fuel sales (which includes taxes paid by commercial carriers) was $632 million. The surcharge on passengers, freight and international facilities was ten billion. When it comes to airport construction and upkeep, it's all the people on the other side of the field from the FBO's who are keeping the lights on. FAA AATF Historical Data page: http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/apl/aatf/historical_data/
- "However, late last night, one of my Indiana Facebook people told me to check out Charlie’s father’s FB wall, where, in posts no more than an hour or two old, he was ranting about the “Jew judge” who presided in the case, as well as the Nigerian-born Democrat who wins his son’s seat by default. Today, all the posts were gone. (I’m sure he’s the victim of a cruel hacker.)" Not quite all gone. http://www.indystar.com/comments/article/20111222/NEWS/111222028/Judge-Secretary-State-White-ineligible-hold-office Darrell White · Indiana University "Judge"...and I mean the term lightly....Rosenberg...is a typical liberal Democrat toady...he is nothing but a toady, stooge for Dan Parker. He is a draft dodger and a nothing and I hope he burns in Hell..he wants others to respect his religion as a Jew but he is biased and his daughter probably wrote the opinion like she did the last time....he is despicable..." Here's what I know about the story: Before running for SOS, Charlie White had been on the Fishers town council. At some point during his term he and his wife divorced and Charlie bought a condo that was out of the district he was representing. Instead of giving up the gig as he was required by law to do, he continued to list his legal address as his ex-wife's home and voted in that district. That's the source of most of his felony charges. But he's also on the hook for falsely reporting his legal address when he registered for the primary and general election run for SOS. White dug his own grave by, and I am not making this up, testifying to the Recount Commission that "he used his ex-wife’s address to vote because he was spending several nights there to avoid living with his new wife until they were married." (Nice parenting skills, Darrell. Take a bow.) The law at the time this case came forward said that if it was determined that a candidate was unqualified to be on the ballot then they would be removed from office and the candidate who had come in second would take their place. Naturally, once they were faced with this possibility the State Ledge rushed to change the law for future cases, but it didn't apply retroactively to White. That put it in the hands of the 2R-1D Recount Commission, who ruled that White was okay because you only have to be registered in Indiana. If you're illegally registered apparently didn't matter. That's what caused Rosenberg to order the case back to the Recount Commission.
- Nance - you nailed it. Guess who is now saying his FB account was hacked, complete with filing a police report and considering hiring a PI to find the real poster. http://www.indystar.com/article/20111224/NEWS05/312240003/Charlie-White-s-father-blames-hacker-Facebook-posts?odyssey=tab I know it's too much to hope for, but just maybe there is a geek on the Westfield PD who could look at the browser history on White's computer. Filing a false police report is a crime, too.
- Hi. I'm the Facebook friend. Thanks to everyone who has offered support, and to those like Joe TMMO who are thoughtfully skeptical. What I wrote was a recap of the events and how I responded to it all personally. I don't think I stepped over the line with "rot in hell", but that is just rhetoric. If I had any real pull in it, I would have had him live long enough to see the damage he _has_ done to his football program, PSU, and, of course, those kids. (In the order of things that were most important to him.) I wish Joe would have lived long enough to truly appreciate why he should have done more. Was Paterno's role on the same level of Sandusky's? I think it was close. Sandusky's serial pedophilia is almost certainly rooted in his brain chemistry. That isn't an excuse for what he did but pedophilia on that scale is the result of a mental illness, as much as a sociopath who becomes a serial killer. I can't say this enough, having a mental illness is no excuse to sexually assault children and I want Sandusky to get a one-way ticket to the worst Pennsylvania has to offer. But Sandusky's post-arraignment interviews make it clear he really doesn't comprehend that it is deeply wrong to be attracted to children. What reason did Paterno have for his obliviousness? By the most generous read of the accounts to Paterno, he was told one of his former employees was sexually fondling a child in his locker room. Try to put yourself in that position and ask yourself not if or who you would call then - but what you would do one week, two weeks, a month later if nothing else had happened? This wasn't like Sandusky had been caught using their copy machine. Paterno never went back to McQueary and asked if he had been contacted by the police, never called the police himself to find out if the administrator he spoke to had passed the word down to them. And I'm talking about Paterno, but the same goes for McQueary, Schultz, Curley and Spanier. They all told someone else, exactly once, and that was it. If they weren't actively trying to cover it up, they achieved that end with their neglect once they did know. (Wait, they did take one step after making those calls to each another. They made Sandusky move his youth football camps to a PSU satellite campus.) I can not comprehend how anyone with the upper brain function to dress themselves can fail to follow up on this. How does Paterno not ask McQueary if the police have contacted him? How does he not call the campus police himself to check the status of their investigation? He is a leader of men, but when a former employee "fondles" a child in his workplace he makes two calls and that's it? He'll meet with subordinates to review in minute detail what happened in a game but he can't muster any curiosity about this? So, long story long, yeah. I think Paterno's inaction was on par with Sandusky's actions because what Paterno did was a conscious decision. He decided something else was more important than pushing for a criminal investigation, that making Sandusky move his camp and banishing him from his facilities was punishment enough, or both. Call me cynical, but I don't think it's a coincidence that those actions would be the best for Paterno, too. But put that speculation on motive aside, if you want. Ask yourself, if one of the kids assaulted by Sandusky since 2002 was a member of your family - would you think Paterno had done enough? Would you give Paterno a pass if it was your kid?
- And for the comic relief... I made the original post in a FB thread started by a friend who lives in Pennsylvania. (He posted that Paterno died of a broken heart, which helps explains my first line.) Here are some of the comments I got in his thread: "Joe Pa didn't molest those children. He reported what he knew. Should he have drug Sandusky out and shot him too?? He did what he was supposed to. Nice of you to jump on your soapbox Brian in such an irrational manner. That man impacted more young men in such a positive manner than most can dream of. Quit holding so much hatred and pray for the people Sandusky hurt instead of bashing the innocent. Maybe you should use your experience and passion for good instead of bitching and being hateful. Be like Joe Pa!" Be. Like. JoePa. To the credit of my friend, he didn't delete my reply even though it began with "Fuck you." Next... "Joe Pa was a great man! He touched so many lives! He is everything you will never be. I put you in the same category as Sandusky. Trash! Do something about pedophiles instead of whining about your past and an innocent man who is dead." Just...wow. "Wow! I'm not sure who you are, Brian, and no I didn't read all that you wrote, but I did read that you just told someone's DECEASED FATHER, HUSBAND, GRANDFATHER, MENTOR & HERO to rot in hell...It must be nice to be perfect! God is merciful and it's people like you that give Chistians a bad name!" I'll be sure to let my synagogue know. (And...we're talking about molestation and I give Christians a bad name? Really?)
- I liked the Eminem commercial last year much better. The first ad had less preaching and more middle finger, and Clint's connection to Detroit isn't exactly a ringing endorsement of the auto industry. (Dan Neil of the WSJ had a terrific take on Gran Torino and why that car was such a perfect choice of metaphor for Detroit and Eastwood's character in the film. Worth digging up if you have a sub.) If you want to talk about played out, take VW's Darth Vader ad - please. The Ferris Bueller Honda spot was just sad. It was like seeing a kinda-edgy musician from your youth hawking Time-Life compilations on late night basic cable. The Kia man dream ad was clever, but I didn't like how it wimped out at the end. Audi definitely had the best car ad. The vampire spot was clever and just ahead of the trend curve, and its the first Audi spot in recent memory that wasn't appealing to the uber-douche demographic. The halftime show was pathetic, but I'll admit I've never understood filling the intermission of a football game with a way-off-the-strip Vegas show built around a pop star two or three decades past their prime. Every year there is some current band that I think would blow the roof off the place if they only let them rip for twenty minutes. This year it was The Black Keys. I have a feeling the NFL exec in charge of these things will eventually choose an act closer to 20 than 70 and people will react like he discovered the formula for cold beer. (Also, it wouldn't effing kill the NFL to feature a rap or hip hop artists once a decade or so, and no, Justin Timberlake did not count. Start with Usher if you must, but get to Jay Z before he's pitching T-L sets on WGN at 3am.) Those of us who live in the Indy market have to just be elated that the damn thing is over. Imagine the Hoosier inferiority complex paired with the brain trust that is small market local TV news production and turn that loose on covering the Super Bowl. The last few weeks have been like an unending, poorly-acted loop of Sally Field's Oscar speech. At least there wasn't anything else going to compete with the boosterism. Except for the conviction of the Secretary of State on voter fraud charges and the lege rushing through a right-to-get-paid-less law that Governor Reasonable Moderate signed before the ink was dry. Add up the combined minutes and column inches those stories have received and I bet you'd get change from a dollar.
- I have political Asperger's, so I won't be offended if anyone nods politely and backs away after reading this. But I looked through the TPM map Nancy linked to and a couple of things jumped out. First, Romney only won one county outright (Oakland) and then he just got over the line with 50.3%. Second, his average result in the counties he won was just 43%. This, in a state where he grew up and a big chunk of the Republican electorate have fond personal memories of his father's time as governor. I can't think of another political nepotimsm/dynasty situation that comes close.
- Wanted to write earlier on Lugar, but there is a good reason we don't have scheduled appointments on Mondays. Today started with one dead system at a law office, then a three-hour power outage with another client, a corrupted database at another, a couple of smaller quick jobs, with a few phone support calls while driving between them all. Back in my yoot I attended Lugar's future leadership conference. For at least thirty years he's held an annual day-long conference for one or two kids from any high school in Indiana that wanted to participate. Lugar welcomed us, then we broke up into small groups for short seminars with professors, local pols, staff members, and I forget who else. At the end of the day Lugar took questions in a lecture hall until there were no questions left. Then he posed for pictures with all of us, thanked us for coming, and asked us to stay involved. I'm trying to avoid what Doghouse Riley calls the pre-postmortemizing of Lugar's career, but it's not easy. I can't remember a damn thing I heard that day but three decades of political addiction since have shown me what an extraordinary event it was. I went in 1982. That would have put Lugar in his first term and my group wasn't the first. Here was a freshman senator investing a lot of staff time and personal work with no clear political benefit, in an election year. The clearest memories I have is that I was a punk who kept trying to pin down Lugar on the David Stockman budget scandal which had broken open a few weeks earlier, and that despite my poor manners the Senator was having a ball spending the day with us. If he had an ounce of the arrogance or elitism he's being painted with now, it was undetectable to that room of high school students. I know I'm not the only one who wished our history and civics teachers could be like him, instead of the coaches that always seemed to end up teaching social studies. I've voted for Lugar every time he's been up for re-election since, except for 1994 when I lived in Arizona. High school brush with fame aside, his work in the Senate has made the world a better and safer place. If Indiana cared about such things his work on nuclear disarmament and security would cause at least one district to rename a school after him. But if that was the case Lugar probably would have never beaten Vance Hartke in 1976. Anyone who believes Indiana voters value taking the lead on statesmanship and the national good isn't paying attention. If Lugar loses because he was insufficiently neanderthal he'll be in good company. So am I going to ask for a Republican primary ballot and vote for him again tomorrow? I don't think so. Part of the reason is practical. I live in the 9th CD and there is a competitive Democratic primary for the House seat. But it's also because that, despite tying Orrin Hatch for most seniority in the Senate Republican caucus, Lugar has either no power to influence his leadership or he has no spine to use the power he does have. He'll fight his party when a bill he cares personally about, like he did two years ago on the new START treaty. But otherwise he's been a rubber stamp for every bad idea that has come out of the Republican party in the last three decades. Maybe it was one thing for Lugar to not take a stand when he was a freshman and David Stockman was committing the truth with a reporter from The Atlantic. But where was he 25 years later when his party was rushing us into an Iraq war that he had to know would have massive negative effects on our position across the Middle East? Where has he been while Mitch McConnell is destroying anything that was good about the Senate and its reputation among the people it is supposed to serve? I look at how far its gone in the last decade and ask myself, how far would it have to go before Lugar would put the country or even the institution of the Senate ahead of his party's leadership? I'm not naive. I know that if Lugar loses there is a better than even chance Mourdock will win in November and he'll be like Dan Burton on crack. But if Lugar somehow pulls it out tomorrow, he will win easily in November and let the McConnell's and DeMint's run wild. It's not a great choice to make, but if my vote decided it I'll take a chance of beating Mourdock over another sure six years of Lugar doing nothing to make his fellow Republicans behave like grownups.
- You should read this bit on the Penn State molestation scandal by LaVar Arrington. Finally, there is one person connected to Penn State football who hasn't missed the plot. (And for all the blather about how JoePa built character in his players, this makes it damn clear that on his best day he couldn't carry Mrs. Arrington's lunch. Mama birds and all that...) http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/hard-hits/post/i-wish-id-paid-more-attention-to-one-young-mans-pain/2012/06/12/gJQAkgviXV_blog.html
- I was pleasantly surprised by the NCAA's sanctions against Penn State. Suspending the program for a year or two would have just given fuel to those looking to turn Paterno into a martyr. They need to destroy the culture that made the coverup possible, and if this doesn't do it nothing will. The loss of scholarships and ban on post-season play is immense. Losing scholarships doesn't just mean that Penn State will only get fifteen top recruits every year instead of 25. They're going to be lucky to get fifteen third-tier recruits because the rest of the team is going to be so weak that no top-tier or second-tier player would even think of signing with them. It's going to be 2018 before they can even think of having a competitive team. When they do get the scholarships back they're going to be rebuilding from scratch, which is the only cure for this madness. More things to be happy about in this announcement, from ESPN's reporting: "(I)f Penn State players decide they don’t want to play football but remain in school, their scholarships will be honored until they complete their degrees." Bravo. About Aurora...I wrote on my FB page over the weekend that the only thing remarkable about this shooting is that it happened in one place. Twelve homicides with guns is a third of the average on any given day in the US, statistically speaking as many people were shot and killed today while you were at work. What depresses me most is our unwillingness to even start an informed conversation on our gun laws. Do CCW laws prevent crime? The crime statistics tend to run in the other direction. States with the strictest gun law usually have property and crime rates significantly below states with liberal CCW laws, and states that have liberalized CCW laws in the last decade have not seen a disproportionate drop in either property or violent crime. (Poverty remains the bellwether for crime rates. Tell me how many people live under the poverty line, tell me the unemployment rate for males under 30, and I can tell you if there is a lot of crime where you live. The gun laws are irrelevant.) But when I brought this up a friend responded, "You must have mistaken me for someone who wanted to wanted to have a gun control debate." I didn't say anything about it, but even trying to inject something into the discussion that wasn't NRA dogma meant that this had to be about banning guns. You can see the same damn thing here, Pilot Joe immediately jumps to the conclusion that this is about taking guns away from lawful citizens. It's fucking insane.
- Don't think so. Clip is at the link below, the voice is very different. http://www.hbo.com/the-newsroom/index.html#/the-newsroom/episodes/1/05-amen/video/clip-right-in-his-ear
- "Don’t make stuff up. It’s not so hard." True, but your odds of getting hired at the New Yorker fall considerably if you have to depend on talent alone. Speaking of how-do-I-explain-this-on-my-resume, Denver Post sports reporter tweets about getting horny at the Olympics for the first time. As usual, the explanation only makes it worse. http://deadsp.in/NSVKvT
- I'm still trying to understand what they were thinking? OK, I get the obvious reason for choosing Ryan and rushing the announcement: Romney's campaign was in a tailspin. In the last month states that Romney needs to win like Florida, Virginia and Pennslyvania have moved from tossup to leans Obama. In the last week Romney's national poll numbers have taken a dive. They may have done this in a panic, but they had good reason to be panicked. Romney had to arrest the fall before it dragged into his nominating convention. Maybe this gets Romney to stop putting his foot in his mouth and sprinkles magic competency dust on his staff so those problems go away for good. But for now everyone will stop talking about those screw-ups (until the next big gaffe) and choosing Ryan also gets the base off his ass for a day or two. The specific day of tomorrow, Sunday, August 12 looks better for Romney than it did two days ago. But good Lord - did anyone think through what Ryan is going to do to their chances beyond that? The GOP has two demographic anchors, white males and seniors. The approval rating among voters over 50 for Ryan's signature Medicare voucher program is 2:1 against. Putting Ryan on the ticket makes winning Florida, Nevada and Pennsylvania significantly more difficult. But wait! Ryan also wants to turn the Veterans Administration into a voucher program and if you think civilian seniors are opposed to vouchers - wait until you talk to the vets. Which states have a lot of military retirees? North Carolina and Virginia, to name two. What are Romney's chances of winning without at least four of those five states? Zero. (For perspective on where Romney/Ryan starts in these key states, Romney has trailed for the entire race in all but North Carolina, where he has a fingernail hold on a lead. He's also trailed for the whole cycle in Ohio, Michigan and Wisconin, with the gap growing in the last month.) Once the dust settles on the announcement (and thanks to the botched timing and groundwork that will happen very quickly), Romney is going to go back to being the offspring of Smedley Whiplash and Forrest Gump he's been for the entire race and his staff will return to running his campaign like it was an episode of "Ow! My Balls!" But from now on they'll also carry the albatross of Ryan's budget around their necks in every state that counts. Good luck with that.
- @ beb (42): "I’ve been thinking about Jeff (TMMO)’s comment that back when people paid higher marginal rates for large incomes they actually paid less taxes. How can this be?" There are a couple of things at work. The first thing is timing. What time and rate are they measuring today against? It's easy to forget that the top marginal rate has been below 40% for a quarter century. (It's currently 35% now for earned income.) Are they comparing the rates today against 1992? Twenty years sounds like a long time but the rates then were only slightly higher than they are today. Anti-tax conservatives (but I'm being redundant) are always talking about when the top rates were 90 percent, but that was fifty years ago. The majority of people alive today did not work for even one day of their careers when the top rate was even at 50%. So unless they're comparing against the early 60's, they're measuring against a time when the tax rates were not that much higher than they are today. (If they are there are huge problems with adjusting for effective inflation in that bracket and the way income for the top 1% has changed and taxed.) I can't say definitively until Jeff or Joe put up a link, but there is a good chance that the higher rate is a pretty low hurdle to clear. The second part they leave out is the massive shift in wealth towards the top one percent. The share of all income earned by the top 1% has doubled in the last thirty years and their share of all income has risen to 20%. Their share of the country's wealth has grown even more rapidly. Today the top 1% own a third of all financial investments and nearly 30% of non-financial assets (cars, jewelry, property, etc.) Put those together and you get a clear picture of how the tax liability has shifted away from the wealthiest. They might be paying 15% or even 25% more in taxes now than twenty-five years ago, but their income has nearly doubled. The effective tax rate on the wealthiest Americans is lower than it's been in nearly 70 years. Everything else is smoke, mirrors and a whole lot of ratfucking. Like... ************* @JTTMO (54): "My main personal more than political point is that I know taxes will have to go up, but how far? I think the top one percent can get up over 50% without economic harm, and the top ten percent can be bumped, but even if they get put at 40%, the next quartile of us (top fifty percent minus eleven at the top already addressed) will have to pay another 5% or so to make it work. So defense cuts and a new national health care policy are necessary to keep me from paying 10% net more of my gross income in taxes by 2020. How to get there? That’s the meat and potatoes of the debate, not whether or not the workers of the world have nothing to lose but their chains." Did you notice, in your Wiki link to progressive taxation, the median effective rate for the top 400 earners in the US? These are people who average a third of a billion dollars a year in income, and their average marginal federal tax rate was less than 17%. The top earned income tax bracket is 35% and it applies to everything over $380,000. So, you might (and should) wonder, how the holy hell can you earn nearly a thousand times that yet have the same effective tax rate as a dentist making $150,000? The answer is capital gains. On average, the highest 400 earners make over 80% of their income in capital gains. As long as their investment managers have two brain cells to rub together all of that income will be classified as a long-term capital gain, which means the top income tax rate is just 15.7%, less than half the top rate for earned income. Thanks to the huge difference in the capital gains rate, the top 1% has a lower effective tax rate on their median $1.8 million annual income than someone who just breaks into the top 10% and earns 80% less. And the top 400 pays an effective rate just barely higher (16.6 vs. 15.7%) than the median earner in the 60-80% bracket. We only have a progressive tax system in the US for the bottom 80%. Once you get above that it's thrown into reverse - the more you make the lower your tax rate becomes. Capital gains are the reason why. We've decided to take this class of unearned income that is overwhelmingly collected in the top 20% and tax it at less than half the rate of earned income. This whole fight over protecting job creators from a 39.6% earned income rate is a rouse fed to the ignorant by propagandists and people who have an extremely vested interest, through reporters and who won't get off their lazy ass to cover this story correctly. (David Kay Johnson being an almost singular exception to the rule.) Raise the top earned income rate to 40% or even 50%. It won't make a huge difference because aside from nouveau riche rap stars and pro athletes, the 1% that takes in one out of every five dollars earned in this country make their $$$ on capital gains. That sounds bombastic, but it's not. In the last three decades there has been a stampede among the top 10% and higher to shift their income from earnings to capital gains, either through guaranteed stock options or structured investment vehicles like Mitt Romney's holdings in Bain Capital. Stock options were as rare as unicorns in 1980, today no CEO of a public company with a functioning brain stem would take more than 10-20% of their package in salary. Get a paycheck big enough to cover your living expenses and take the rest in stock options that will quadruple your earnings (or more) for the year when they're redeemed - but they'll be taxed at less than half the rate. Shit, if you're a hedge fund manager you don't even have to wait a year for your options to mature. We've decided this snowflake occupation deserves to have all of their same-year income taxed at less than 14%! And yes, those would be the same hedge fund managers who broke the effing world four years ago. This is the whole ball game. Capital gains is why there has been such a massive transfer of wealth to the top 10% and the top 1% in the last three decades. It's why inflation-adjusted incomes for the top 20% have increased sharply over that period while the bottom 80% has struggled to keep what they had. The search for new investment vehicles for the wealthiest has also led directly to the creation of investment vehicles that caused massive, nearly fatal damage to the global economy - not once but four different times just between 1998 and 2008. Got to run. Anyone has a good defense for our capital gains policy - please post 'em.
- @JTTMO: "the answer to your general question is that most on the right don’t think, and I think correctly, that you can construct a tax policy that gets all we need just to balance the books now from the wealthy, so plumping for jacking their rates will always end up jacking my own, and I don’t think going from 30% to 40% on my five figure household income is something I can support. Yours and Deborah’s argument boils down to “either we can find ways to get that top 1 to 10% to pay for all of the increase we need to balance the books, or if they don’t, then we just say rich people are the problem and we will speak ill of them even as we raise taxes on the rest (i.e., me).”" One, don't turn what I write into a strawman. If you can't copy and paste to work off a quote, have someone write it out for you. Two, can you form thoughts or do you just spit out talking points? No one - and I mean N-O O-N-E, has said we'll balance the budget by raising rates on the wealthy. And I goddamn never said anything like you assigned to me at the end of that statement. Since you missed it so thoroughly, my primary point was fairness. Explain to me why a hedge fund manager should pay less than half the taxes owed by an athlete, entertainer or lottery winner? What is the unique economic benefit of capital gains that it is in all of our interests to give its recipients a 60% discount on their taxes? Stop spewing this caricature of how you imagine people think and answer that question. Then we'll talk about the deficit.
- No racism in Baltimore? Or San Diego? I'm gonna go waaaay out on a limb and guess that you are not black or Hispanic.
- Post-racial America in Ohio: “I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter-turnout machine,” said Doug Preisse, chairman of the county Republican Party and elections board member who voted against weekend hours, in an email to The Dispatch. “Let’s be fair and reasonable.” He called claims of unfairness by Ohio Democratic Chairman Chris Redfern and others “bullshit. Quote me!” But I'm sure if JTTMO saw some black and white kids together at a McDonald's in Columbus, that would trump everything. http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2012/08/19/fight-over-poll-hours-isnt-just-political.html
- @Dexter (62): "How much of a creep does a candidate have to be to get dumped by Turdblossom Rove?" It's not about Akin being a creep. Like we saw in Indiana, the tea party turned a gimmie into a race the Republicans had to fight to win even before Akin's bout of oral diarrhea. Akin was the weakest of the Republican field to go against McCaskill but he narrowly won the primary because of a strong tea party turnout. Rove and many others in the GOP establishment want Akin gone by close of business tomorrow (seriously, it becomes harder and more expensive if Akin drops out after 5pm central on Tuesday) so the state Republican party can put in whoever they think has the best chance of beating McCaskill. Meanwhile, things that remind me the world would be a better place if the stories in The Onion were true: http://www.theonion.com/articles/i-misspokewhat-i-meant-to-say-is-i-am-dumb-as-dog,29256/?ref=auto
- Duncan Black (aka Atrios, who calls his blog Eschaton...) has this week been banging the Philly coverage of a new and very expensive Atlantic City casino that is in big financial trouble. The Revel opened just 4 1/2 months ago and is already having to ask its creditors to triple its line of credit because it's losing a lot of money - ten million a month on average for its first quarter of operation. There is no shortage of schadenfreude in the story but the most amazing part is this: One of the first thing NJ Governor Chris Christie did after taking office in 2011 was to grant the owners of Revel a quarter-billion dollars in tax credits (that means real money) so they could finish building the hotel. In return, New Jersey became a 20% minority partner in the project. (While he was at it, the same act removed state controls over the casinos and turned them over to a county board made up of casino owners. Because we know what an incorruptible crowd that can be.) This was all state money, handed out at a time when Christie was screaming (literally) that public sector union pensions had to be busted or the state would go bankrupt. But putting aside for a moment that it's been proven again that Christie is spectacularly full of shit, we're talking about government picking winners and losers in the fucking casino business. I know there is a good, principled argument to be made against, say, the federal government making grants and loan guarantees to private companies in the solar energy business. But at least there you can make a counter-argument that developing renewable energy is very much a long-term economic and security benefit for the country as a whole. How do you have that debate over public financing of a casino that isn't even open yet? I'd ask where the conservative outrage is but, c'mon. Good intro in this piece from the Inqy, but keep an eye on Black's blog if you want to watch this play out. http://articles.philly.com/2012-08-19/business/33273324_1_atlantic-city-casino-and-hotel-workers-caesars-casino
- Ooops. Sorry Dexter.
- I don't see Akin going anywhere. He's 65, he's given up his House seat to make this run at the Senate, and his top campaign staffers are his wife and his son. I don't see how the GOP establishment can really put any pressure on him, and since they were backing his opponents in the primary I don't think Akin is inclined to listen in the first place. He might lose the election, but he's not going to quit in disgrace over something he really believes is true. Plus there is this: Akin really does have the GOP by the balls. They can't retake the Senate without Missouri and the polls indicate he's still got a decent chance of beating McCaskill. A PPP poll made after Akin's remarks found that 87% had heard what Akin said and 75% disagreed with it - but Akin still had a one-point lead over McCaskill. (Let that marinate for a moment. Claire McCaskill is so unliked by Missouri voters they still prefer Todd Akin.) Rove and the NRSC are making a big deal about pulling their support from Akin, but if he stays they'll be back.
- @Churchlady - If Rep. Yoder had been on a personal vacation I'd agree with you. But he was there as part of a Congressional delegation representing the United States. No laws were broken, but he did embarrass all of us. @Coozledad - I don't believe AIPAC was connected to the FBI investigation. After the Israel junket ended Ryan went on to Cyprus on a trip paid for by Cypriot lobbyists. Ryan did not report that trip, which caused the FBI to open an investigation.
- @Churchlady - James Holmes was put on the bench by George W. Bush. (The story you linked to is from April 2003 when he was being nominated.) It's really sad that takes all the surprise out of the story, that it makes sense for a Republican president to nominate someone with those views for a lifetime seat on the Federal bench, but that's where we are. @Cooz - I think I saw the backstory on the FBI investigation into Yoder on TPM. (Wait, I just double checked and it was TPM, but the FBI was investigating another Rep (Michael Grimm, R-NY) on that junket for the undisclosed trip to Cyprus.) @Prospero - I don't think I said AIPAC wasn't involved in spying, just that they weren't connected to this particular FBI investigation.
- For Nance:
Dear Todd Akin, I am writing to you tonight about rape. It is 2 AM and I am unable to sleep here in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I am in Bukavu at the City of Joy to serve and support and work with hundreds, thousands of women who have been raped and violated and tortured from this ceaseless war for minerals fought on their bodies. I am in Congo but I could be writing this from anywhere in the United States, South Africa, Britain, Egypt, India, Philippines, most college campuses in America. I could be writing from any city or town or village where over half a billion women on the planet are raped in their lifetime. Mr. Akin, your words have kept me awake.Guess who?
- Jolene - I understand that McCaskill is the most endangered incumbent Dem in this cycle, but I can't bring myself to send money to someone who's spent the last six years pissing on most of what I want the Democratic party to stand for. There are some really good, unapologetic Democrats running this year in seats we can hold from retiring Dems or take from the Republicans. Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts is the best known, but you should also check out (and I'd encourage everyone to support) Richard Carmona in Arizona, Martin Heinrich in New Mexico, Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, Maize Hirono from Hawaii, and even Joe Donnelly in Indiana has a shot. All of them get my support before McCaskill.
- Probably means I'll never get hired by the New Yorker, but just wrote this on my facebook page and wanted to bounce it off y'all: It's worth remembering that what Todd Akin said was neither new or unique. Anti-abortion advocates and conservative politicians have been claiming women can't get pregnant from "legitimate rape" for decades. One was made a federal judge by George W. Bush ten years ago. The evidence that Akin was absolutely, unquestionably wrong isn't new, either. The CDC did a report in 1996 attempting to knock this down, with no noticeable effect. Any freshman biology teacher with a marginally working upper brain stem could destroy the idea of magic spermicidal secretions. Many have tried. But, if you take a step back, it's equally obvious there's nothing surprising about this at all. Pick anything tangentially tied to science or reason and, if it's more controversial or politically lucrative than Bunnies Are Soft, there has probably been a propaganda and disinformation campaign about it that has convinced a large number of our fellow Americans that black is white, up is down, and science is just a liberal scheme. If something can't be proven to the satisfaction of people who may not want to be convinced, then any crackpot theory is as valid as all the evidence in the world. We've created entire industries for inventing and perpetuating fairy tales. Lying your ass off about the effects of CO2, supply-side economics, tax cuts that pay for themselves, the legitimacy of a president's birth certificate, or the risk of pregnancy after rape isn't just something you can do without shame - it's often a great career move. But here's the worst: We've made this ecosphere of bullshit so encompassing that it's possible for a child to go from Pre-K through grad school without suffering a moment of critical thought. A world where you can go from Lunchables to law school and Todd Akin isn't an object lesson to avoid. He's the goal. America. Fuck...yeah.
- Long weekend, long post. This probably won't be taken seriously by people who don't already agree with me, but I think there is one serious point to take away from the convention dog-and-pony show. As noted by many others, a presidential nominee only has full control over two events in the entire election: Who he chooses as his running mate and his convention. Everything else he believes or wants to do might have to be massaged, ignored or even changed to get votes and money from one group or another. But choosing (and announcing) the nominee and running the convention are all his. I think there is a lot of evidence that in these moments a nominee gives a pretty good glimpse into how he'll govern and lead if he wins. Look back to Obama for just one example. Watching Obama in the late primaries through the convention four years ago was nearly identical to how he's operated as president for better and worse. (On the better side, a really smart staff with the lowest collective ego quotient I've ever seen in a campaign or administration. For worse, despite being really good at politics they hate to dirty their hands with it.) Bush 43 also showed a lot of his biggest strengths and flaws in the way he handled those decisions in 2000, as did Clinton in 1992. So, with that in mind, it's time to address something that people haven't wanted to point out from the beginning of the campaign. Mitt Romney and his team are fucking awful at running for president. They're barely competent on a good day and they make so many awful unforced errors. This convention was a disaster. They invited a lot of unnecessary damage to the GOP in this election and beyond by bum rushing the Paul delegates. That's the closest thing the GOP has to a viable youth movement and the Romney team threw them out because they played the game too well. The nominee always has final approval on the speeches given by the defeated candidates, but Romney's team asserted no control and allowed everyone to talk about themselves for twenty minutes before mentioning Romney as a literal afterthought. There was no control of messaging at any point, and no control of the behavior of the delegates coming down from the top. What do you think Karl Rove would have done if the peanut incident happened at a convention he was running? It wouldn't have just been the offenders thrown out. Whoever was responsible for that delegation would have been turned into a greasy stain on the convention floor - and every state leader would have known it before they landed in Tampa. And then, at ten pm EST last night when the networks picked up the convention and the audience tripled, Mitt Romney began his introduction to the American people with an Oscar-caliber performance of Clint Eastwood impersonating Grandpa Effing Simpson. Then came Marco Rubio to talk about himself for twenty minutes, and finally Romney himself. Probably only one person in four who was watching Romney's acceptance speech was watching on the cable news channels or PBS before ten to see Romney's introduction video. That is political malpractice on par with the Florida freak who injected cement into people's asses and called it plastic surgery. Every candidate since Reagan in 1984 has used these meticulously crafted videos as the real introduction of the nominee. Know why? It fucking works. People like watching movies more than seeing someone give a speech and the campaign can use all of the soft focus and takes it needs to get the message right. Video, then - maybe - a brief introduction by someone who won't outshine the candidate, then the acceptance speech. This is so simple and obvious, yet Romney and his team screwed it up beyond all recognition. It's not just that the Romney campaign team is in over its head. They are, and so deeply they can't even see the top of the ocean. But the bigger problem is that despite months of miscues and mistakes no one has lost their job. And even despite a lot of experience people in GOP politics saying they've got major problems with the candidate and the people running the campaign, Romney continues to run the same way he ran in February and even in 2008, and with all of the same top people. There is a strong correlation between how Romney is running his campaign and the way a bad CEO runs a company. You don't have to follow business very long to find a company that gets into serious trouble because the CEO had bad staff and either didn't have the vision to see what was really happening or a deep knowledge about the company or business. Draw your own connections between, say, Dan Ackerson's travails at GM and Romney's campaign problems. But there's a political precedent that deserves more attention. Romney has captured control of the Republican party this year, but he's always run as an outsider to it. He's never seriously tried to win over the party bosses and the conservative movement leaders. He's come in with the conceit that if anyone wants to ride, they need to get on board with him. This isn't a merger to Romney, it's a takeover. And in this way, the candidate of my lifetime that reminds me most of Mitt Romney is...Jimmy Carter. Carter had to run a brutal contest against the Democratic establishment to win the nomination in 1976 and his team was almost entirely composed of people who had not worked on other federal campaigns. Carter also had Romney-esque arrogance towards his party's leaders after winning the nomination. The rift never healed and worse, Carter went into office really believing that the Democratic-controlled Congress should act like subsidiaries of his White House. It ruined any chance he had at a successful presidency. The ideology is 180 degrees different, but I see a lot of the same method and personality in Mitt Romney. If he beats Obama the only common thread holding Romney, the GOP and the conservative movement together now will be gone. They will turn on each other and the fight between Romney's WH, Eric Cantor's Congress, and Dick Armey's K-Street operations for who is really in charge will be on.
- I'm not a parishioner at the Church of Nate. He does really good work, but his best stuff was analyzing the work of pollsters and that has mostly gone by the wayside since his move to the Times. As reading and aggregating the polls, he's still good but so is Pollster, TPM and others. But he's right to be very bullish about Obama's chances. Even when you take away the subjective analysis of how crap-sandwich awful Romney's campaign has been and just look at the polling numbers - it's not just that they're bad for Romney now and time is running out. They've never been good. I think I mentioned earlier that I keep a weekly table of the state polling averages collected by TPM, Pollster, Real Clear Politics and Electoral-Vote.com. There are some pretty amazing trends in the data. First, Obama has held the lead in states totaling over 330 votes every week since before the Republican primaries ended. And, with the exception of one state (Virginia) for a single one-week period on one aggregating site, Obama has led in every state he holds today for all of 2012. Even in Virginia and Florida, where the lead has hardly every exceeded two points, Romney has (save that single example) never been able to take the lead. There is tremendous resiliency in Obama's numbers, even in states where he only holds a thin lead. Second, Romney is only winning states where the demographics allow him to run up the score. I break down the states into Safe (>6 point lead), Likely (4-6), Leans (2-4) and anything less than two is a tossup. For the entire summer, Romney has not had one state for one week that has been ranked Likely or Leans. There are 23 states with 191 electoral votes that Romney leads by six points or greater (when there is polling, remember that) and nothing else until you get to North Carolina, which is a <2 point tossup and has gone back and forth between Romney and Obama since the end of July. If the state is even remotely competitive, Romney can't win it. He either has to lead by ten or not lead at all. It's strange because there has been movement between the categories on the Obama side. There are four states where Obama has a Leans lead this week that have been tossups at one time or another. Pennsylvania moved from Likely to Safe, and Wisconsin and Iowa have moved from Likely to Leans. It's what you'd expect to see and it's not happening for Romney. Third, Romney is presumed to have a safe lead in 23 states but there isn't a lot of data to support it. Only three Romney states (Arizona, Georgia and Missouri) have been polled frequently enough to be included in the TPM, Pollster, RCP and Electoral-Vote maps. Everything else is presumed to be a lock for Romney because, y'know, Kansas and Utah. Yes, the chances of Obama winning Mississippi without Georgia and Missouri falling away first are exceedingly thin. But without regular polling in these states there is no real way to evaluate how strong Romney's support actually is. It may not flip any of the states that haven't been polled, but if there is erosion in his support it could have massive effects on the expected outcome of the national vote. Obama-friendly states, by contrast, are practically under a microscope. There is regular polling in eleven of the eighteen safe states for Obama, and all of the Leans and Likely states for Obama have been polled throughout the summer. Even if Romney's screw ups and poor personal approval numbers don't cause an erosion in states that are thought to be safe, you can predict with a pretty high degree of confidence that Obama's support in his states is strong enough to get him to 270.
- I'm calling my shot - Romney is done. His campaign has been in a tailspin for months and they are clueless on how to fix it. He's an incompetent, majestically tone-deaf campaigner with the warmth of a broken toaster and his staff couldn't manage a two car funeral procession. To have a shot at winning Romney needed a surprisingly good convention, then he needed the Dems to come out flat at their show, and then he had to press the advantage to run down Obama in the states where he has a narrow lead. Instead the Republican convention was a dud, the Dems knocked it out of the park, and now Romney is finding new ways to screw up every frigging day. Sometimes twice a day. But that doesn't mean the race is over. Obama will continue keeping Romney against the ropes because they want to make him and Ryan a proxy for the Congressional races. They want to use Romney to push the Congressional Republicans in borderline districts and states (read: Tea Party freshmen) into disarray. The fun part is just beginning.
- Suzanne - I know a lot of people believe it thanks to Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. But I don't think it's more than 35-40% of the country and I think it's very vulnerable to being fractured. And that's the real danger for Romney and the Republicans - this tape gives Obama and the Democrats a very sharp chisel to use on that block of voters. The specificity is the killer. A serviceman or woman with a couple of kids won't make enough to pay income tax until they've been in for a couple of hitches. A lot of seniors don't make enough to pay income tax and they receive Medicare. College students fall into this group. So do disabled veterans. This isn't even a fat pitch - it's t-ball. Have an American tell his or her story, then overplay the Mitt Romney clip about 47%. And that's just the income tax part of the tape. What Romney said about his "Hispanic" heritage and how much easier it would be for him is going to cost him additional votes in Colorado and Florida, and could be a deciding factor in close states with growing Hispanic populations like Iowa and Virginia. The country is doomed if Hispanics support Democrats? Really?
- The scientific value of Bomgartner's jump is on the thin side. Some people who saw the project from up close during the development stage have said that the suit designed for this is a breakthrough compared to current spacesuits. But from what I've read, that's about it. The biggest claim the team is making is that it will help astronauts and very high altitude pilots bail out in the upper atmosphere. That is questionable at best. The only reason a pilot would eject at that altitude is if the aircraft left him or her no other choice - either eject voluntarily or get thrown out as it disintegrates around you. That happened to a SR-71 crew on a test flight in 1966 and only one member of the two-man crew survived, the other was killed when the plane broke apart at Mach 3.2. Here's the funny or the cool part: That pilot, Bill Weaver, survived because his flight suit and parachute did everything that Bomgartner's suit did or could have done for him yesterday. At the moment the plane broke up the suit inflated just as Bomgartner did manually and became a survival pod. A drogue parachute deployed automatically to keep his body from tumbling out of control, just as Bomgartner's suit would have done had he come close to being incapacitated. And Bomgartner should go into the record books for being the first skydiver to break Mach 1 in a free-fall, but Weaver was thrown into the void going three times as fast, and at a lower altitude where the air density would have been much greater. So how a pilot could be saved while flying in the upper atmosphere has been settled for a few decades. Bomgartner proved it worked again, and his suit might have some design breakthroughs that make it easier to use (If it's strong enough to survive an ejection and the wear of regular use.) but that's it. What we know about the physiology and processes didn't change yesterday. And I think that's okay. If a sugar water company wants to give Bomgartner a seven or eight-figure check to jump out of a capsule at 127,000 feet because no one has done it before, good for both of them. Not everything has to have a great meaning. As marketing it's more interesting than any soda campaign I've seen, and the aviation geek in me is happy if the only lasting effect is if this gives Joe Kittinger what the movie Apollo 13 gave to the real astronauts and ground crews.
- @Big Hank - You'd be surprised about the lethality of the .22 on larger creatures. Ms. Lippman's husband wrote this on the subject of small caliber rounds in Homicide: "Out on the street, the big guns - the .38s, .44s and .45s - still get the greatest respect but the lowly .22 pistol has acquired a reputation all its own. Any West Baltimore homeboy can tell you that when a .22 roundnose gets under a man's skin, it bounces around like a pinball. And every pathologist seems to have a story about a .22 slug that entered the lower back, clipped both lungs, the aorta and the liver, then cracked an upper rib or two before finding its way out the upper left shoulder. It's true that a man who gets hit with a .45 bullet has to worry about a larger piece of lead cleaving through him, but with a good .22 round, he has to worry that the little bugger is there for the grand tour." Feels kinda dirty to admire the great writing in that passage after last Friday...
- One last note on the lethality of the .223, for deer or anything else: When the round was invented in the 50's it was kind of a revolution in ammo design. Before the thinking had been to use the largest caliber that could be fired accurately. The standard issue ammo for US troops during WWII was a .45 caliber for sidearms and light machine guns and the standard long rifle round was a .30 caliber. The .223 turned that upside down. Ballistics scientists decided that a smaller round traveling at a much higher speed could be more lethal than a slower, larger round at the kind of distance seen in combat. In fighting an infantryman will hardly ever shoot at anything more than 100-150 yards away, and at that range the .223 was more accurate and more lethal than the larger .30 caliber rounds. The same thinking eventually worked down to side arms, with the 9mm replacing the classic .45 Colt. So why do most states prohibit using the .223 for deer hunting? Because the lethality and accuracy of the .223 falls off quickly after 200 yards. If you're going to use a rifle for deer hunting instead of a shotgun, it's because the chances of getting within 200 yards of a deer, antelope or elk are very small. States where the typical space to hunt is smaller, like on farms in the midwest, don't allow rifle hunting because you can get closer and rifle rounds that can be lethal at a half mile puts bystanders at risk. But within 100 yards, or 100 inches like we saw at Aurora and Newtown, the .223 is incredibly lethal to humans, deer or anything else in its path. Fast, close range shots against multiple targets is exactly what the round was created for.
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