The Ledes

Monday, December 22, 2014.

New York Times: "Joe Cocker, the gravelly British singer who became one of pop’s most recognizable interpreters in the late 1960s and ’70s with passionate, idiosyncratic takes on songs like the Beatles’ 'With a Little Help From My Friends,' died on Monday at his home in Crawford, Colo. He was 70. The cause was lung cancer, his agent, Barrie Marshall, said."

Merry Christmas, You Power-Hungry Hypocrites." Religion News Service: "Pope Francis launched a blistering attack on the Vatican bureaucracy Monday, outlining a 'catalog of illnesses' that plague the church's central administration, including 'spiritual Alzheimer's' and gossipy cliques. The pope's traditional Christmas greeting to the cardinals, bishops and priests who run the Holy See was less an exchange of warm wishes than a laundry list of what the pontiff called the 'ailments of the Curia' that he wants to cure." Here's the National Catholic Reporter story. CW: Iesus Christus! Bet it sounded worse in Latin!

ilwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Former Milwaukee police officer Christopher Manney will not be charged in connection with the on-duty fatal shooting of Dontre Hamilton at Red Arrow Park, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm said Monday. The decision comes nearly eight months after the shooting. Chisholm has said he was waiting on reports from an outside expert on the use of force."

Weather Channel: "... we're monitoring not one, but two storms that may make a mess of your holiday travel plans, much as Winter Storm Cato did right before Thanksgiving. Already, aviation forecasters at the National Weather Service say that a 'high impact event' is likely for airports in the New York City area on Wednesday due to the combination of heavy rain and gusty winds."

BBC News: "The Spanish king's sister, Princess Cristina, is to face a tax fraud trial over alleged links to her husband's business dealings."

The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Surprise! December 19: Dr. Oz is a quack.

Washington Post, November 21: Learn how to use your thermostat & save $$$.

New York Times, November 17: "For the first time since statins have been regularly used, a large study has found that another type of cholesterol-lowering drug can protect people from heart attacks and strokes."

White House Live Video
December 22

The White House has no scheduled live feeds for today.

ABC News: "After more than 20 years together, music icon Elton John and his partner David Furnish are married!... A law passed earlier this year in England allow[s] same-sex marriage...."

A former resident of Somerville, Massachusetts, calls into outgoing Gov. Deval Patrick's last regular monthly radio call-in show:

Sixteen times Stephen Colbert broke character on his show. With videos. ...

... Winger John Hinderaker of Powerline has never seen Colbert's show, but he's pretty sure it was an hour-long ad for the Democratic party. "I am not in favor of restricting anyone’s right to free speech, but if federal law is going to bar a businessman from contributing enough to buy more than a minimal amount of television time on behalf of his party or his candidates, why shouldn’t Stephen Colbert and Comedy Central be prohibited from airing millions of dollars worth of pro-Democratic Party propaganda?" CW: Evidently, Hinderaker has not heard of Fox "News."

Los Angeles Times: "A hashtag about asking police officers questions for a CNN panel turned extremely negative almost as soon as it was posted Tuesday. #AskACop was meant to be used by viewers who wanted to tweet questions to officers for the town hall segment "Cops Under Fire,” hosted by Don Lemon. There was an overwhelming response -- most of which were criticisms toward police." CW: Apparently CNN had no idea people were pissed at the police.

Bill Carter of the New York Times: "For nine years, Stephen Colbert has relentlessly maintained his pompous, deeply ridiculous but consistently appealing conservative blowhard character on his late-night show, 'The Colbert Report' — so much so that when he puts the character to rest for good on Thursday night, he may have to resort to comicide. The Grim Reaper is his last guest."

New York Times: "Life on Mars? Today? The notion may not be so far-fetched after all. A year after reporting that NASA’s Curiosity rover had found no evidence of methane gas on Mars, all but dashing hopes that organisms might be living there now, scientists reversed themselves on Tuesday. Curiosity has now recorded a burst of methane that lasted at least two months. For now, scientists have just two possible explanations for the methane. One is that it is the waste product of certain living microbes.... It could have been created by a geological process known as serpentinization, which requires both heat and liquid water. Or it could be a product of life in the form of microbes known as methanogens, which release methane as a waste product.... The scientists also reported that for the first time, they had confirmed the presence of carbon-based organic molecules in a rock sample. The so-called organics are not direct signs of life, past or present, but they lend weight to the possibility that Mars had the ingredients required for life, and may even still have them."

"Oh, God, It's Mom." Kelly Faircloth of Jezebel: "Oh my Lord, shut it down, here is the greatest moment in the history of C-SPAN: A (very Southern) mama called into one of their shows to yell at the guests. Not because she disagrees, but because the guests are brothers and both her sons and she is sick and tired of their shit":


Escape from Alcatraz. Live Science: "... on the night of June 11, 1962, three inmates left Alcatraz in one of the most mysterious prison breaks in American history. John Anglin, his brother Clarence Anglin and Frank Morris tucked dummy heads into their bed sheets and snuck into an unused utility corridor through holes they had crudely drilled through their cells. Then, from the prison roof, they shimmied down the bakery smoke stack and climbed over the fence. From the northeast shore of the island, they floated away from the prison on a small raft made from more than 50 stolen raincoats that were inflated with a musical instrument that was converted into a pump. Even the FBI still calls the plan 'ingenious' on its website. After a 17-year investigation, federal authorities concluded that the men most likely drowned during the escape...."

... BUT ...

... The linked story above has a better video, but it's not embeddable.

Rolling Stone: "David Letterman will retire from late-night television on Wednesday, May 20th. The Late Show host's production company Worldwide Pants announced the news, according to Deadline, with CBS Corp. President and CEO Leslie Moonves praising Letterman’s 'remarkable legacy of achievement and creative brilliance [which] will never be forgotten.'"

Washington Post: "New information from NASA's Curiosity Rover suggests that Mars may once have had large, long-lasting lakes above ground. That would challenge the more popular theory that water on the planet was only underground, or only appeared in a few areas for a short amount of time. The key to this latest theory is Mount Sharp, which stands 3 miles tall and sits in the red planet's Gale Crater. But Mount Sharp is a curious formation: The layered mountain is made of different kinds of sediment. Some layers were probably deposited by a surrounding lake bed, and other seem more likely to be the result of river or wind deposits." CW: Yeah, there was probably once a really well-developed life on Mars with flora & fauna & -- eventually -- little green men who didn't believe in climate change.

New York Times: "After weeks of planning, New York City welcomed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Sunday for a three-day visit, greeting Prince William and his wife, Catherine, with the blend of enthusiasm, sarcasm and bemusing antagonism that tends to tail the urban celebrity tourist."

The Wrap: "Longtime CNN political anchor Candy Crowley is leaving the network."

December 6: Max Fisher of Vox: So two white guys -- guys who will have no trouble finding other jobs -- get fired, & half the New Republic staff walks out in protest. Where was the outrage when Marty Peretz was editor & writing racist screeds? The contrasting reactions speak "to a larger problem of how we think about racism in American society and particularly in the elite media institutions that have badly lagged in employing people of color." ...

... Scott Lemieux in LG&M: "For all its sins [of the past], I don’t see how turning the magazine into another traffic-chaser under the aegis of a CEO who speaks Meaningless Buzzword and apparently lacks the attention span to read more than 500 words at a time is a good thing." ...

... Charles Pierce: "... contra Chait, and even though the magazine unquestionably has regained a lot of its lost quality, especially in its actual reporting, I think the notion that The New Republic is 'an essential foundation of American progressive thought' is a ship that sailed a long time ago." ...

... Zandar in Balloon Juice: " The number of damns I give about TNR as a going concern at this point equals approximately the number of black voices writing for the magazine, which is to say zero, but YMMV."

... December 4 & 5: Dylan Byers of Politico: "Franklin Foer and Leon Wieseltier, the top two editors at The New Republic, quit on Thursday amid a shakeup that will relocate the Washington-based magazine to New York City, sources there told Politico on Thursday. Gabriel Snyder, a Bloomberg Media editor who previously served at The Atlantic Wire, has been tapped to replace Foer as editor. The magazine will also reduce its print schedule to 10 issues a year, down from 20." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "More than two dozen members of the staff of The New Republic, including several contributing editors, resigned on Friday morning, angered by an abrupt change of editors and what they saw as a series of management missteps. The resignations include the senior editors Alec MacGillis, Julia Ioffe and Isaac Chotiner, and the contributing editors Sean Wilentz and William Deresiewicz, according to several staff members who are leaving. A list compiling the names of those resigning was obtained by The New York Times." ...

     ... AND more from Jessica Roy of New York. ...

... Jonathan Chait: The New Republic has lost its way. ...

... Ezra Klein: "It's a bit early, I think, to write The New Republic's eulogy. Gabriel Snyder, the magazine's new editor, is a smart and web-savvy guy." ...

... Leah Finnegan of Gawker: "Indeed, an entire magazine is now doomed to fail because a white man has been fired and — gasp — an internet-savvy white man has been brought in to replace him! In TNR's 100-year history, I never would have imagined such a triage of injustice. It's clear that the new leadership of the magazine—with all their greasy Facebook money—is dead set on ruining a (historically racist) publication no one ever read in the first place, and was on the slow road to Irrelevance City. What will Chris Hughes do next? Perhaps the publication might even become interesting. Scream!"

Charles Pierce is completely taken with Ed Snowden. He's brave, credible & intelligent, blah-blah, & the film "Citizenfour" is bee-youtiful. For an antidote to starry-eyed Charles, see this review by Fred Kaplan of Slate.

This is quite cool:

 

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Saturday
Oct062012

The Commentariat -- October 7, 2012

A reader wrote to me a few weeks ago wondering about whether it was a good idea for her elderly mother & friends -- who live in Florida -- to vote by absentee ballot. I have received half-a-dozen robo-calls from Florida Democratic officials offering to make sure I got an absentee ballot. This New York Times report by Adam Liptak is consistent with my response to the reader: "Nationwide, the use of absentee ballots and other forms of voting by mail has more than tripled since 1980 and now accounts for almost 20 percent of all votes. Yet votes cast by mail are less likely to be counted, more likely to be compromised and more likely to be contested than those cast in a voting booth.... Election officials reject almost 2 percent of ballots cast by mail, double the rate for in-person voting."

Robert Reich on what the jobs report really means. Reich doesn't mention that a lot of those new jobs are part-time (yo! no benefits!), but that only bolsters his argument: "The concentration of income and wealth at the top has robbed the vast middle class of the purchasing power it needs to generate a full recovery -- something that was masked by borrowing against rising home values, but can no longer be denied. Unless or until this structural problem is dealt with, we won't be back to normal."

Novelist Kevin Baker in a New York Times op-ed: "The Republican Party is, more than ever before in its history, an anti-urban party, its support gleaned overwhelmingly from suburban and rural districts -- especially in presidential elections.... Today, four-fifths of the population lives in an urban area -- the highest percentage in our history.... [Republicans] promise to rip and tear at the immensely complex fabric of city life while sneering at the entire 'urban vision of dense housing and government transit.' There is a terrible arrogance here that has ramifications well beyond the Republicans' electoral prospects."

"The Cancer Lobby." Nicholas Kristof: Big Chem is lobbying "Congress to cut off money for the Report on Carcinogens, a 500-page consensus document published every two years by the National Institutes of Health, containing the best information about what agents cause cancer. If that sounds like shooting the messenger, well, it is.... The larger issue is whether the federal government should be a watchdog for public health, or a lap dog for industry. When Mitt Romney denounces President Obama for excessive regulation, these are the kinds of issues at stake."

Presidential Race

An animated short by Simpsons/Family Guy animator Lucas Gray. Gray animates Obama's speech at an Associated Press luncheon April 3rd, 2012. Via Crooks & Liars:

Nate Silver: "Mitt Romney continues to show improved numbers in polls published since the presidential debate in Denver on Wednesday and has now made clear gains in the FiveThirtyEight forecast. The forecast gives him roughly a 20 percent chance of winning the Electoral College, up from about 15 percent before the debate. Mr. Romney's gains in the polls have been sharp enough that he should continue to advance in the FiveThirtyEight forecast if he can maintain his numbers over the next couple of days. Four of the five national polls published on Saturday showed improvement for Mr. Romney." ...

... Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling: "PPP's newest Wisconsin poll finds a big debate bump for Mitt Romney in the state. Two weeks ago he trailed Barack Obama by 7 points there, 52-45. Now he's pulled to within two points, with Obama's lead now just 49-47. There's not much doubt it was Romney's strong debate performance on Wednesday night that's given him this boost. Voters think he won the debate by a 61/25 margin...." ...

... Maggie Haberman of Politico: "The Republican-leaning outside group Citizens United is releasing a poll showing a tight presidential race and a tight Senate contest in Ohio, the key battleground where Mitt Romney has consistently been behind in public and private polls. The survey, by Wenzel Strategies, has Romney in a statistical dead heat with President Obama, 48 percent with leaners to 47.3 percent for Obama, and 4.7 percent undecided." ...

Greg Ip, the economics editor of The Economist, in a Washington Post op-ed, credits President Obama with doing a lot to salvage the economy. Irony alert: if Romney wins the election, he'll get all the credit for the work Obama did. CW: another reason to vote for Obama.

Vice President Biden with Kobe Groce."The Vice President Would Like to Meet You." Kobe Groce of Fort Myers, Florida, tells his story of how the Obama administration has helped his family. Thanks to Victoria D. for the link.

Doyle McManus of the Los Angeles Times: "Romney's move toward the center is a matter of tone and emphasis more than substance. It took Obama by surprise, and it gave Romney a new chance to make his case to voters in the center -- all of which made it a success for the GOP campaign. But down in the details, there was less change in Romney's positions than met the ear, and his campaign insisted that he didn't say anything substantively new at all.... He's still a conservative."

Matt Taibbi writes an excellent analysis of the debate under the headline "Mitt Romney wins all-important BS contest."

William D. Cohan of Bloomberg News in the Washington Post: "... exactly how wealthy is Romney? The figure that gets tossed around is $250 million in net worth -- meaning the total value of his assets, financial and others, minus any debts. It's a big number, but frankly, it seems low. Given the industry in which he made his fortune (private equity), the era when he made it (the 1980s and 1990s) and the wealth of his peers in that business (mostly billionaires), Romney should be worth a good bit more than that.... If he were perceived as the first real billionaire to run for president, it would only exacerbate popular doubts about how someone living so removed from the concerns of average Americans -- or even just 47 percent of them -- could effectively represent them. And if he is not a billionaire, doesn't it suggest that he was not a great private-equity investor after all, thus torpedoing his claim to understand how to create jobs and get the economy back on track? Something to keep in mind on Nov. 6."

John Broder of the New York Times: "Mitt Romney vowed in a campaign appearance earlier this year to 'take a weed whacker' to the thicket of federal regulations adopted by the Obama administration and promised to impose a rigid freeze and cost cap on all new government rules.... While Mr. Romney blames the Obama administration for the edifice of federal law and regulation that he argues is choking off economic recovery, many of these rules go back decades. 'It's not just Obama he's attacking, but past acts of Congress,' said Rena I. Steinzor..., the president of the Center for Progressive Reform. 'This does not all spring from the frenzied imagination of Obama's E.P.A. It all comes down from statutes.'" CW: maybe Broder is trying to reassure us a Romney presidency won't be so bad.

Dylan Byers of Politico: "NBC has asked President Barack Obama’s campaign to stop using the network's footage in a recently released reelection ad.... In a letter sent Friday night to Obama campaign manager Jim Messina, NBC told the Obama campaign to cease using network footage in a new 30-second spot, released shortly after Wednesday's debate, in which Andrea Mitchell is shown on air citing an independent, stating that Mitt Romney's tax plan would cost $4.8 trillion over 10 years..." CW: When I first saw the video, embedded in yesterday's Commentariat, I couldn't believe Mrs. Greenspan would be of help. Well, there you go.

Congressional Races

Fernanda Santos of the New York Times looks at the Arizona Senate race where the Democrat, Dr. Richard Carmona, is one exciting candidate. Though Arizona is a red state, Carmona has a shot at the seat; both candidates, Carmona & Rep. Jeff Flake, acknowledge they are in a close race.

Nick Coltrain of the Athens, Georgia, Banner-Herald: "Evolution and the big bang theory are 'lies to keep me and all the folks who are taught that from understanding that they need a savior,' U.S. Rep. Paul Broun [RTP-Georgia] said in a recently released video. In the video..., Broun also repeated fundamentalist Christian tenets that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old and the Holy Bible is a guidebook to every aspect of life.... Broun ... is a medical doctor and running unopposed in District 10 on the November ballot. He serves on the Congressional science and technology, and homeland security committees."

Local News

Justin Lewis of the AP: "Arkansas Republicans tried to distance themselves Saturday from a Republican state representative's assertion that slavery was a 'blessing in disguise' and a Republican state House candidate who advocates deporting all Muslims. The claims were made in books written, respectively, by Rep. Jon Hubbard of Jonesboro and House candidate Charlie Fuqua of Batesville. Those books received attention on Internet news sites Friday. On Saturday, state GOP Chairman Doyle Webb called the books 'highly offensive.' And U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, a Republican who represents northeast Arkansas, called the writings 'divisive and racially inflammatory.'" Thanks to contributor Mae F. for the link. ...

... Louis Peitzman of Gawker has more details on Hubbard's views of black Americans & their lucky immigrant ancestors. ...

... As you may recall from late last week, the Koch brothers consider these guys prizes, and their spending their pocket change ($1 million) to flip the legislature to Republican.

News Ledes

AP: "President Hugo Chavez won re-election on Sunday, defeating challenger Henrique Capriles, Venezuela's electoral council said. With most votes counted, Chavez had more than 54 percent of the vote, and Capriles had 45 percent.... She said 81 percent of the nearly 19 million registered voters cast ballots."

AP: "The U.S. Border Patrol agent killed last week in a shooting in southern Arizona apparently opened fire on two fellow agents thinking they were armed smugglers and was killed when they returned fire, the head of the Border Patrol agents' union said Sunday."

New York Times: "With gasoline prices reaching record highs across California over the last week, Gov. Jerry Brown moved on Sunday to alleviate some of the pain at the pump. Mr. Brown directed the California Air Resources Board to take emergency steps to increase the supply of fuel in the state and allow refineries to immediately switch to a winter blend of gasoline that is typically not sold until November."

Reuters: "U.S. health officials on Sunday reported an additional 27 cases in a fungal meningitis outbreak linked to steroid injections that has killed seven people and now infected 91 in nine states."

Washington Post: "Weakened from battling cancer and visibly bloated, President Hugo Chavez [of Venezuela] is fighting for his political life in Sunday's presidential election, as he faces a charismatic challenger who has energized a once-disunited opposition in a way none of the populist leader's foes ever has.... Two established pollsters show Chavez, 58, with a substantial advantage.... But two others have Chavez and Henrique Capriles, 40, a lawyer and former governor who has never lost an election, in a virtual dead heat."

Space: "An unmanned private spacecraft is counting down to launch the first commercial delivery to the International Space Station tonight (Oct. 7), marking a major shift in how NASA< sends supplies and gear to the orbiting lab. The gumdrop-shaped Dragon space capsule built by the private spaceflight company SpaceX is set to blast off from a pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to begin a three-day voyage to the space station. Liftoff is set for 8:35 p.m. EDT (0035 Monday GMT)."

AP: "Gasoline prices in California rose to another all-time high on Sunday after passing a four-year high a day earlier, according to AAA. The four-cent-per-gallon jump Sunday was even bigger than Saturday's jump, which was just a fraction of a penny. AAA reported in its latest update on Sunday that the statewide average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $4.655."

Reader Comments (21)

On a different subject:
A spotlighted nutcase moving on the AP.
No wing nut would be backing away from this state rep if it was not an election year.

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2012/10/06/us/ap-us-arkansas-republicans-race.html?ref=news
"Arkansas Republicans tried to distance themselves Saturday
from a Republican state representative's assertion that slavery was a
"blessing in disguise" and a Republican state House
candidate who advocates deporting all Muslims. "
What a disgrace! We have to shine a light on these horrible people.
mae finch

October 6, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermae finch

Apparently what constitutes "winning the debate" now ( see article above re Wiscnsin polls) means being a smooth talker, regardless of content. Snake oil salesmen, take note!

October 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Would you care to sit with me
for a cup of English tea?
Very twee, Very me
Any Sunday morning.

What a pleasure it would be
chatting so delightfully while Nanny bakes fairy cakes
every Sunday morning.

Couldn't resist–––that was going through my head.

The "Why Obama Now" video is great! Informative, instructive and clever––perfect.

The picture of Kobe Groce embracing Biden made me cry. Even before I read the content, I teared up– that picture is powerful.

And reading about Paul Broun––he's a medical doctor? Really?–––almost makes me not want my fairy cakes for Sunday tea––a shame that loonies like that might actually be able to represent the loonies who'd vote him in.

October 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Agree, the Lucas Gray video "Why Obama Now" is terrific. It should replace any future Democratic advertising efforts. These are the words needed to reach the so-called 'undecideds.'

Also— the firepower heard in Obama's voice needs to return to his next two debate performances along with the strength of his message from that April 3rd speech. Oh, yeah...and don't forget (as many times as he needs to interject), "...and you, Mr. Rat, aren't telling the truth. Again"

October 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

Check this out - "In 2008 prominent Christian Right group Focus on the Family put out a sixteen page document called “Letter from 2012 in Obama’s America.” The document was in the form of a letter, a (fictional) letter from a Christian in 2012 writing back from the future about all the changes that had happened since Obama took office. Let’s take a look, shall we? "
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2012/10/this-is-the-most-important-election-of-all-time-again.html

I totally agree with this assessment, ""Re-reading the Focus letter four years later, what strikes me most — besides how utterly wrong they are about everything — is how parochial their imagination is when attempting to envision a political dystopia. The horrors they predict are almost all narrowly targeted at and tailored toward them. I’ve read a ton of dystopian stories, good and bad, and this is the most cluelessly self-absorbed vision of its kind that I’ve ever seen," from Fred Clark, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2012/10/01/a-documented-case-of-false-prophecy-four-years-later-letter-from-2012-makes-focus-on-the-family-look-ridiculous/

October 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

Romney, as Potted Meat

An e-mail exchange between Akhilleus & me:

Akhilleus: "I hit create comment on [an] entry but it never appeared....

Marie: You wuz spammed. Twice. I despammed one comment as soon as I read your e-mail last night. My system has been better of late about dumping comments into Spamland, which is both good & bad. Good because I don’t have to check the spam file every hour, bad because I don’t check the spam file every hour. Anyway, expect a delicious carton of tinned meat arriving at your doorstep any day now as your prize for Spammed Writer of the Week. (And no, that “delicious” is not a misplaced adjective; the carton will be tastier than the meat.)

Akhilleus: Hmmmm reminds me of Romney. The container is much better than what's inside.

October 7, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

Re: Spam I am, spamed I'm damned; all my best comments have been spam; wafer-thin slices of sawdust and pig castoffs all dished up for consumption,hum,hum good. How did we end up with the good doctor from Athens, Georgia ? Athens? For god's sakes, doesn't anybody else enjoy the delicious irony? Better; Doctor Broun is on the committee for science and technology. There is a picture that goes along with the article; a deer lined room with the doctor speaking to a captivated audience of hunters. No where in the article is there any indication that the reporter(s) think the doctor is insane. Better still; one sidebar states Broun rejects the unemployment report. Six days for creation; bible as law; refutes science; declassifies women as equals. Am I reading about the Taliban or a insane doctor from a hundred years ago; pass the leaches, I need my blood sucked.

October 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJG

WHAT YOU SEE AIN'T WHAT YOU GET

That nifty looking Spam can
Can and will entice to buy
But the contents taste like sawdust
The attraction was a lie.

October 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

What is poor Dr. Broun going to do with the fact of Gobekli Tepe (11,000 years old)?

October 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria

Victoria: The likes of Dr. Broun will simply tell you that carbon
dating is a hoax perpetrated by those Godless scientists. That's their
easy way out, no explanations required. And Gobekli Tepe, they
would explain that it was built by beings from the planet Kolob,
who went back without leaving a trace after their magic
underwear wore out.

October 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterforrest morris

I believe the Presidential Debate postmortems that mention sports are on the right track. When I was growing up in the '60s and '70s, my father would get season tickets to our local medium-sized Midwestern university basketball games. When a referee would call a foul, the offending player would put his hand up and his head down.

Fast forward to today, where deceiving the refs is part of the winning strategy, be it pointing in your team's direction when a ball goes out of bounds or wholesale denial of offenses. A player's ability to "draw the foul" is prized. Watching college basketball, at least at the big-money level, involves both admiring the amazing athleticism and hating the shameless attempts to manipulate the rules and rule keepers.

Some of this shift may just be that I was too young or naive to see trickery going on, but I think the shift is real. I lived down the street from the coach and played with his kids. I would watch him during the game and he would get upset when his players weren't playing by the rules.

The Republicans seem to have learned that, yes, the ones who deceive the rule keepers the best go on to the big leagues. The public seems to have bought into this too.

The question is: How do we get the public to yearn for a strong media and a strong sense of fairness in the same way they rallied around the NFL referees?

October 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNiskyGuy

Marie, When I wrote to you about absentee voting in Florida I was also worried that Florida had placed so many constitutional amendments on their ballot that it almost seemed like a tactic to discourage voters from voting since they would have to stand in longer lines while everyone read through amendments which will be accompanied by lengthy legal explanations. (This was why my parents had received the advice to vote absentee.) Perhaps Florida always has this number of amendments on their ballots, but I find it more than suspicious when they are trying so hard to discourage voting.

October 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

Lisa,
I read the same thing about the Florida ballots being so long it might prolong the voting process and cause some people waiting in line for hours to just give up. If I recall correctly, it seems like some of the ballots will be upwards of ten pages. How sad if any of this was intentional to screw with turnout.
In my state, everyone know votes by mail (you can drop of your ballot and save a stamp) . This seems to be working pretty well.

October 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria D.

Ditto, Victoria D. Oregon has always voted with a paper mail-in (or drop-off) ballot, and there has never been a substantiated case of voter fraud that I know of. We are both, I think, in Western states--which are less corrupt (and less populated) than many others. (Please note I did not say UNcorrupt, just less corrupt.) I cannot imagine for what reason, other than voter fraud, a paper ballot would be voided--unless of course the person filling it out was gonked out on drugs or writing in lipstick. Seems to me that providing a paper trail is the way to go!

Perhaps the sheer volume in populous states is one reason paper is tricky. But my suspicious little mind thinketh evil, dirty tricks are more likely the issue.

October 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

Back on with my "Supremes obsession." Having read Scalia's latest constitutional musings, I am getting worried. More worried. Very worried. Here are a couple of paragraphs from "Scalia on Sodomy"
from The Daily Beast:

"EASY"
..."Justice Scalia made his views abundantly clear earlier this week at a Washington, D.C., book signing hosted by the American Enterprise Institute. "The death penalty? Give me a break. It's easy. Abortion? Absolutely easy. Nobody ever thought the Constitution prevented restrictions on abortion," he said. "Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was criminal in every state."


"VAFFANCULO"
Scalia didn't appreciate a reporter from the Boston Herald asking him in 2006 how he responds to critics who say his religion impairs his fairness in rulings. "To my critics, I say, 'Vaffanculo,'" Scalia reportedly said, flicking his right hand from under his chin. In Italian, this not-so subtle phrase means "f--k off" and the accompanying hand flick is equally rude. "You're not going to print that are you?" he apparently asked in an interaction that occurred, it's worth noting, inside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross at Sunday mass."

Yup, I am worried. This guy is straight out of "The Godfather." Please, please: Remember the Supremes!

October 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

The easy out in Florida is to vote no on all amendments as they are all the work of a wing nut led legislature. Do no harm.
The youngsters saying bad things about Spam have obviously never had spam 'n eggs or they would know that Spam is tasty but very
salty and was a blessing during the World War.
On reservations, tropical islands and other isolated places without
refrigeration, Spam and canned corn beef and other canned meats are staples.
Don't be so snooty.

October 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercarlyle

Dear carlyle: I remember the yummy taste of grilled spam sandwiches with cheese, pickles, mustard and ketchup during my salad days which were many years after that second world war. Twas not a snotty,snooty snark––twas a conceit on Romney's inner can (core) and a riff on Marie's and Ak's very funny dialogue. Bless you for standing up for Spam and other canned goodies––they were lifesavers "fer sure."

October 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

@Kate Madison

Thanks for the interpretation of the flicking the right hand from under the hand. Every Friday here we hold signs for democratic candidates, and one day a passing motorist made this gesture. None of us knew what it meant, although we we're quite sure is was negative.

On another note, I've many friends in Venezuela and hoping for their sake Chavez will get booted out. However, one friend says that it doesn't matter since Chavez will make sure to win. Talk about crazy politics!

October 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulie in Massachusetts

@ Kate and Julie: Since I married a second generation Italian I am very familiar with not only the hand gesture but the phrase which in the Neapolitan dialect is Va fa'n culo (up yours or fuck you) but the "O" is usually dropped by the Pepe clan. It's a convenient little gesture that in the olden days could get you shot or promote you to a higher position in the mob. We use it in our family as an indication of humorous "up yours"–––no shooting or promoting occurs. As far as Scalia is concerned you may want to store away another Italian phrase that could come in handy here: "Sei un pezzo di merda" which means––"You are a piece of shit." Always comes in handy when you need to address someone who fits the bill, but doesn't understand Italian. Makes you feel better––so I've been told.

October 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

@P. D. Pepe: or to be extra-polite to a sitting Supreme Court Justice, you might want to use the third-person singular: "Lei e un pezzo di merda." Same meaning, but so elegant!

Marie

October 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarie Burns

Lisa, Victoria, Marie et al:
I'm sitting here quite concerned (well, considerably more than that, actually) about the information on absentee voting, since I've been voting that way for six years now. In fact, I just called my township a couple days ago to find out when I might expect to receive my ballot, and they said it should be delivered sometime this coming week.

I live in Michigan, where we have a Republican governor, a Republican legislature and several cities with "emergency financial managers" (i.e. no democratic representation) -- my son is a resident of one of them. We may not be Florida, Pennsylvania or Ohio, but we're not exactly a paragon of democracy.

I'm not as concerned about the top of the ticket as I am about down-ballot races: the state supreme court, several lower court positions, a number of important propositions, and one of our senators. Debbie Stabenow is no Elizabeth Warren, but the alternative, Pete Hoekstra, is unthinkable. So I'd really like my vote to count.

Voting in person is probably not an option for me at this point, since I'm on record as an absentee voter. Even if it were possible, I wouldn't do it. This spring, after decades in which the polling place for my precinct was the local armory (right next door to the civic center) we were told that, due to "Homeland Security issues" the armory would no longer be available. We have a huge, relatively new local library with plenty of available space for voting machines, as well as the civic center itself, and a high school that, while not centrally located, is not that difficult to get to. So naturally, the township chose as the new polling place a very small evangelical fundamentalist church as the new polling place. As I see it, this is an egregious violation of the separation of church and state. I was hoping someone would step up to the plate and protest, but it seems no one has. Apparently, I'm the only person in the township who has a problem with this. (I'd love to see how all the local fundies would respond had the township chosed a mosque as the new polling place.)

So I'll hope my absentee ballot arrives in time for me to examine all the candidates, and I'll tick off all the boxes the represent my (hopefully informed) choices, and I'll send it off to whatever fate awaits it.

October 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRose in Michigan
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