July 31, 2010


We went to the Bishop Museum this morning to see three Ku sculptures exhibited together for the first time in 150 years. What the heck is a Ku, you ask?

Kū is known throughout the Pacific as the god of procreation, prosperity, and warfare.

Here's an amateur picture.

They're bigger than life-size and they're damned impressive as art alone. As images of a god they're even more powerful.

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July 30, 2010

Fight harder, it'll do you & your base good

While making the case for Elizabeth Warren to head the new Consumer Protection Financial Agency/Bureau/whatever it ends up being named, Paul Krugman puts his finger on the political reason for appointing her.

Mr. Obama’s attempts to avoid confrontation have been counterproductive. His opponents remain filled with a passionate intensity, while his supporters, having received no respect, lack all conviction. And in a midterm election, where turnout is crucial, the “enthusiasm gap” between Republicans and Democrats could spell catastrophe for the Obama agenda.

Which brings me back to Ms. Warren.


choosing a high-profile consumer advocate to lead the agency providing that protection — someone whose scholarship and advocacy were largely responsible for the agency’s creation — is the natural move, both substantively and politically. Meanwhile, the alternative — disappointing supporters yet again by choosing some little-known technocrat — seems like an obvious error.

Yes. What has infuriated me most about President Obama is his seeming willingness to keep trying to work with Republicans. That party has shown over and over again that it has absolutely no interest in achieving any of the President's or the Democrats' goals, and that it will obstruct any efforts to do so. See, for example, this chart showing how few of Obama's appointments to the federal judiciary have been confirmed relative to other Presidents' appointees (it's under 45%, even for district courts, which have never been filibustered or held in the numbers they have during Obama's brief Administration).

But President Obama, whether by reason of temperament or lousy advice on the part of his political people or both, rarely stands up on his hind legs and yells about this obstructionism. Even when he does, it's often in his weekly video/radio address, which has about as large an audience as this blog does. FDR relished throwing verbal brickbats at his opponents; Harry Truman ran his successful 1948 re-election campaign by calling the Republican-controlled Congress "do-nothings." Obama, for whatever reason, hasn't seen fit to do that.

Is it any wonder we liberals are discouraged? When the leader of your party doesn't take the fight to the enemy, there's not a lot of reason for the troops to do more than hunker down behind the lines.

Nominating Elizabeth Warren to head the agency whose creation she's been championing for two years and fighting the Republicans and the bankers would be a welcome change and might galvanize your base to get re-involved. It's a no-brainer from a political point of view.

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July 29, 2010


I rise to point out a drawback to living in Hawai'i. There are two major airport terminals on Oahu: one for interisland flights and one for domestic/international ones. If you haven't looked for parking at the airport in a while (in my case, about 15 years), you may park in the structure attached to the interisland terminal while the person you plan to meet is coming in to the domestic one.

So you walk about a half-a-mile to get to the baggage claim for the domestic flight and then you're faced with asking your relative if she's up for that kind of walk after flying for eight hours or would she rather sit and inhale auto fumes while I go back and get the car.

We walked.

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July 28, 2010

Fun with homophones

Pedantry redux: I eagerly await my first sighting of the word "tort" on a menu, meant to describe a rich cake. Conversely, maybe I'll see the word "torte" on the business pages of a newspaper, meant to describe "a wrongful act that results in injury to another's person, property, reputation, or the like, and for which the injured party is entitled to compensation."

Previous adventures in homophone fail here.

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July 27, 2010

Photo archiving

It's not the scanning that's the hard work, it's the captioning. 35 pictures, an hour-and-a-half.

Actually, it's deciding which photos truly represent the time frame you're trying to save out of the hundreds you have which takes the most time.

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July 26, 2010

Is this usual?

I get a daily e-mail from Monster telling me what new jobs have been posted to its board in my location. I'm noticing that on any given day one-third to one-half of those jobs appear to be posted by "staffing consultants," not the companies doing the actual hiring. Should one be bullish on the hiring prospects for employment agencies but not for real companies?

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Great melodic guitar riffs I've known

I remember buying "Private Investigations: The Best of Dire Straits & Mark Knopfler". I'd never heard much of the band's music, but I knew the group's name and thought "Why not?" Imagine my surprise when this song came on and I realized NPR had been using it for one of its "buttons," those little interludes between news stories on ATC. I'd really liked it when I heard it on the show, so I was greatly pleased and amused to find it on this album.

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July 25, 2010

I thought Canada was always the good guy!


. . .asbestos use is growing rapidly in countries such as China and India, prompting health experts to warn of future epidemics of lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma, an aggressive malignancy that usually attacks the lining of the lungs.

The World Health Organization says that 125 million people still encounter asbestos in the workplace, and the United Nations' International Labor Organization estimates that 100,000 workers die each year from asbestos-related diseases. Thousands more perish from exposures outside the workplace.

We in the US know this; it's been highly regulated since the 1970s. It's not been banned entirely, which surprised me; the EPA issued a final rule outlawing its use in 1989 but that ruling was overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans in 1990 on technical grounds (the rule was deemed "too broad" and the EPA didn't allow public comment on its rule). However, for the most part its use is highly limited in the United States. Looking for markets, the manufacturers have gone overseas to the developing world. Who's the most aggressive country selling and lobbying for the use of the stuff? Canada.

What's that all about, eh?

The federal government and the government of Quebec, where chrysotile has been mined for decades, collectively have given 35 million Canadian dollars to the Chrysotile Institute, formerly known as the Asbestos Institute.

Canada uses little asbestos domestically but it sent 168,000 tons abroad last year; more than half of that went to India. Canada has fought to keep chrysotile from being listed under Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention, a treaty that requires exporters of hazardous substances to use clear labeling and warn importers of any restrictions or bans.

Despite mounting pressure from public health officials to stop asbestos exports, Canadian officials continue to defend the industry.

All that apparently to protect one mining company (Jeffrey Mines) which has 225 employees and wants a $58M loan (CD$) from the government to help it get out of bankruptcy. One of the most frequent advertisers on my local television is a lawyer who has spent 30 years filing claims and advocating for mesothelioma victims. I honestly thought the stuff was illegal worldwide and he was in danger of running out of customers. Learn something every day.

via Kos

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July 24, 2010

Me & Library Thing

I haven't plugged Library Thing in a while. Let me point out the amusing and mostly useless statistics the system keeps about my library:

  • Item: There are 256 different "series" to which my books belong (quotations because series is kind of free-form. Your books may become part of a series if some other Library Thing user thinks of his or her copies of those books as part of a series)
  • Item: There are 944 "places" mentioned in my books (again, free-form)
  • Item: 331 books I own have appeared on someone's good/challenged/influential/read before you die list (the American Library Association puts out a lot of lists, I notice)
  • Item: at the moment, I have 471 books first published in the 2000s and 471 books first published in the 1970s (an odd coincidence; I don't buy books based on their publication date)
If you haven't begun cataloging your books at Library Thing, you'll never learn these sorts of fascinating things about your library. That would be a shame.

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July 23, 2010

An intriguing offer

From the inbox:


My name is Mr. John Hamilton, the chairman technical crew Chelsea Football Club West London. I am writing in search of a trustworthy elderly or caregiver, housekeeper and a house manager from your country to work with my old Parents in London. I have 75 years old Dad and 67 years mum by name Mr. & Mrs. CARL HAMILTON the former British high commission chairman. I need an elderly care giver, housekeeper and a house manager that will be staying with them.I will be paying you 6,500 Pounds monthly and an allowance of 550 Pounds weekly for your daily needs. Your working hours will be from 7:00 am to 4:00 pm each day on weekdays.

We have a big apartment for you in our Castle and I will take the responsibility of your Feeding, accommodation, Medication, Visa and flight ticket. You will only pay for your work permit documents. An English teacher will be assigned to you for part time lesson at home if you are not fluent in English. If you are interested, kindly email me for further directives with your Contact details :Your Name: Age: Occupation: Family background: Telephone numbers: Previous working experiences if any, so that I will direct and apply for your visa and other traveling documents.

Mr. John Hamilton

Man. That's tempting. I've been to London twice for maybe three weeks altogether. To actually live there? Sign me up!

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July 22, 2010

A Word to the Would-be Wise

Do not wear black to the barber shop.

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July 21, 2010


Given the role Andrew Breitbart and his Big Government website had in destroying ACORN by using fraudulent videos created by the site's employees James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles, it seems pretty obvious that the media was way too credulous when it jumped on the Sherrod story and ran with it.

If I were a member of the mainstream media and had read the California Attorney General's report on the results of his investigation of the ACORN affair, I'd sure be skeptical that any video clips Breitbart and his staff released were whole and complete. From Page 23 of the report:

O’Keefe stated he was out to make a point and to damage ACORN and therefore did not act as a journalist objectively reporting a story. The video releases were heavily edited to feature only the worst or most inappropriate statements of the various ACORN employees and to omit some of the most salient statements by O’Keefe and Giles.
If I knew that previous videos from that source were "heavily edited to feature only the worst or most inappropriate statements" I might be a little hesitant to run new video clips without checking them thoroughly.

I guess that's why I'm a blogger and not a highly-paid producer or anchor for a cable network.

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July 20, 2010

I wash and bathe every day, you jerk

Ben Stein thinks we under- and unemployed

are generally people with poor work habits and poor personalities. I say “generally” because there are exceptions. But in general, as I survey the ranks of those who are unemployed, I see people who have overbearing and unpleasant personalities and/or who do not know how to do a day’s work. They are people who create either little utility or negative utility on the job.
I'm perfectly willing to put my personality and my work habits up to a test from my former employers.

Can Ben Stein say the same? Of course, we can't go ask Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford about his work habits when he was a speechwriter for them, since they're dead. Nor should we judge him for his view that the theory of evolution is indirectly a cause of the Holocaust. Maybe we should just ignore him.

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July 19, 2010

Trust but verify?

I'd feel a whole lot better about this aid to Pakistan if I hadn't just read this article that indicates most Pakistanis, particularly the wealthiest, pay no taxes.

the politicians who make the rules are also the country’s richest citizens, and are skilled at finding ways to exempt themselves.

That would be a problem in any country. But in Pakistan, the lack of a workable tax system feeds something more menacing: a festering inequality in Pakistani society, where the wealth of its most powerful members is never redistributed or put to use for public good. That is creating conditions that have helped spread an insurgency that is tormenting the country and complicating American policy in the region.

It is also a sorry performance for a country that is among the largest recipients of American aid, payments of billions of dollars that prop up the country’s finances and are meant to help its leaders fight the insurgency.

So how are we to know whether the $7.5B over the next five years actually goes to the places it's needed rather than into the pockets of government officials and their friends?

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July 18, 2010

Is this what Americans want?

Anti-tax zealotry taken to the next level:

Paved roads, historical emblems of American achievement, are being torn up across rural America and replaced with gravel or other rough surfaces as counties struggle with tight budgets and dwindling state and federal revenue. State money for local roads was cut in many places amid budget shortfalls.

In Michigan, at least 38 of the 83 counties have converted some asphalt roads to gravel in recent years. Last year, South Dakota turned at least 100 miles of asphalt road surfaces to gravel. Counties in Alabama and Pennsylvania have begun downgrading asphalt roads to cheaper chip-and-seal road, also known as "poor man's pavement." Some counties in Ohio are simply letting roads erode to gravel.

Why is this happening? Well, because of attitudes like this:
In June, Stutsman County (N.D.) residents rejected a measure that would have generated more money for roads by increasing property and sales taxes.

"I'd rather my kids drive on a gravel road than stick them with a big tax bill," said Bob Baumann, as he sipped a bottle of Coors Light at the Sportsman's Bar Café and Gas in Spiritwood.

Welcome back to the 1930s, America!

Via Digby

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July 17, 2010

There's no other choice

I realize that in governmental circles the term "Slam Dunk" has gotten a bad rap since George Tenet used the phrase to describe the CIA's evidence that Saddam Hussein and Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and I agree that when one hears it used to describe things which are subjective one should be skeptical.

However. If ever there were a job appointment which ought to be a slam dunk, it's the appointment of Elizabeth Warren to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created by the Financial Regulation Reform bill.

The board was her idea in the first place. In the past two or three years she has spent nearly all of her time advocating for the creation of such a board, one with strong muscles and broad powers. Of the entire crowd of people the public has seen testifying about the financial meltdown and its causes, she's the one who's most clearly been on the consumer's side.

This is a no-brainer, Mr. Obama. Appoint Ms. Warren to head the CFPB.

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July 16, 2010

Republicans state agenda clearly

If they take enough House and Senate seats in November, then by golly they'll just shut the government down. From Greg Sargent:

A day after calling for repeal of the new financial regulatory reform bill, John Boehner is going even further: He's calling for a moratorium on all new Federal regulations -- in the name of job creation.

Here's what he told reporters moments ago, per a transcript that was sent my way:

"I think having a moratorium on new federal regulations is a great idea it sends a wonderful signal to the private sector that they're going to have some breathing room."

And more:

"I think there's probably a way to do this with an exemption for emergency regulations that may be needed for some particular agency or another. But if the American people knew there was going to be a moratorium in effect for a year that the federal government wasn't going to issue thousands more regulations, it would give them some breathing room."

Well, that's a novel approach. "Democrats have always said we don't like to govern, and we're going to prove it!"

If my side doesn't make hay out of that nonsense when election season heats up it doesn't deserve to maintain control in either the House or the Senate.

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I've seen this movie before. It was bad then too.

Remember the rush to war in Iraq back in 2003? Remember how our media and the "elites" in this country all went along with it, maybe with a little stroking of their beards, but without raising much of a stink?

Chris Hayes of The Nation says it's happening again with deficits. I agree with him, as does Digby.

We're being told once again that the important people are far smarter than we are, so that idea we have about fixing unemployment and getting people back to work will just have to wait a decade or so while we solve the deficit problem.

Back in '03 it was Richard Perle and James Woolsey and Max Boot and Bill Kristol and Paul Wolfowitz pushing for war in Iraq. Today it's the entire Republican party and Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson and Pete Peterson and his foundation and the Concord Coalition, all demanding the deficit be addressed Right Now.

Here's Hayes:

The hysteria has reached such a pitch that Republican senators (joined by Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson) have filibustered an extension of unemployment benefits because it was not offset by spending cuts. Keep in mind, the cost of the extension for people unlucky enough to be caught in the jaws of the worst recession in thirty years is $35 billion. The bill would increase the debt by less than 0.3 percent.

This all seems eerily familiar. The conversation—if it can be called that—about deficits recalls the national conversation about war in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. From one day to the next, what was once accepted by the establishment as tolerable—Saddam Hussein—became intolerable, a crisis of such pressing urgency that "serious people" were required to present their ideas about how to deal with it. Once the burden of proof shifted from those who favored war to those who opposed it, the argument was lost.

We are poised on the same tipping point with regard to the debt. Amid official unemployment of 9.5 percent and a global contraction, we shouldn't even be talking about deficits in the short run. Yet these days, entrance into the club of the "serious" requires not a plan for reducing unemployment but a plan to do battle with the invisible and as yet unmaterialized international bond traders preparing an attack on the dollar.

And the trouble is, just like in 2003, those of us on the outside are being told that we should listen to the serious people who know better than we what the right prescription for the problem is.

Well, guess what? I was right about Iraq when I said it was "the wrong war against the wrong enemy," and I'm perfectly willing to bet I'm right again today when I say that deficit reduction will take care of itself if we can get the 15 million Americans currently unemployed back to work doing useful and meaningful jobs.

Update: In the comments Harold points to a blog post from Paul Krugman taking note of the Hayes article.

Let me rub a little salt in the wound: if the Iraq parallel is any guide, even after everything has gone wrong, and the US economy has slid into a deflationary trap; even after most people concede that austerity was a mistake; still, only those who went along with the mistake will be considered “serious”, while those who argued strenuously against a disastrous course of action that “everyone” supported will continue to be considered flaky and unreliable.

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July 15, 2010


The Argentine legislature yesterday passed a bill which authorizes same-sex marriages.

A week ago our Republican Governor vetoed a bill which would have authorized civil unions.

What's wrong with this picture?

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July 14, 2010

Political theater

To amplify on something I posted to my Facebook wall, in light of this story I think a bunch of the District of Columbia's army of unemployed people should go park themselves In the Senate Office Building outside Republican offices:

Jim Bunning and Tom Coburn blocked the extension of unemployment benefits. Jon Kyl called supporting the unemployed a "necessary evil." There's even been talk from one Republican that Congress is creating a nation of "hobos."

So here's TPM's round-up of Republicans hating on the jobless for...well, for being jobless.

How about it, Mayor Fenty? Can you round up some of your city's unemployed, maybe with some kids from Howard, American and GW and get them to dress up in suits? Tell them to politely sit outside every Senator's office in the Hart Building, the Dirksen Building or the Russell Building, resumés in hand. As Senators and their staffs enter and exit their offices, have the job-seekers and the kids politely ask for jobs.

Maybe that would give these guys reason to think a little harder about just who the unemployed are; not "hobos" or people "unwilling to work while the checks roll in."

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I'd like to have seen this show

I was never a big fan of country music. I bought the first couple of Outlaws albums (Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Jessie Colter and Tompall Glaser) and one or two by Emmylou Harris, but I just couldn't and can't tolerate the kind of string-heavy glammed-up music Nashville was selling in the Fifties and Sixties. When Jennings and Nelson broke with the standard and took control of their studio time and song selection, writing and performing their own songs, country got a lot more interesting. There's a way-too-brief summary of that period here. AM radio started playing some of it (I'd argue that when Bob Dylan released Nashville Skyline it freed AM radio to play country; if Dylan played it it couldn't be all bad). Then The Band released their first album and roots music took off.

Anyway, more recently I've come to appreciate some of the earlier material. I followed a link to YouTube yesterday and found myself listening to Mary Chapin Carpenter's Quittin' Time, one of the best breakup songs I've ever heard. Then I looked to the sidebar on the right and found this marvelous video. Has there ever been any greater collection of country music talent, male or female, on stage at one time? It's from a CBS special called "Women of Country," available only on VHS if you can find it.

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July 13, 2010

Ain't it the truth?

After getting home at five in the morning, and leaving a note for Fritz saying I would be down for breakfast at 10:45, I had set the alarm for ten o'clock. That had seemed sensible, but the trouble with an alarm clock is that what seems sensible when you set it seems absurd when it goes off.
Archie Goodwin, "The Rodeo Murder," Three at Wolfe's Door
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July 12, 2010

This wasn't supposed to continue

It would appear from this article that too many Bush appointees remain in the upper levels of Federal scientific agencies.

. . . scientists charge that the Obama administration is not doing enough to reverse a culture that they contend allowed officials to interfere with their work and limit their ability to speak out.

"We are getting complaints from government scientists now at the same rate we were during the Bush administration," said Jeffrey Ruch, an activist lawyer who heads an organization representing scientific whistle-blowers.

White House officials, however, said they remained committed to protecting science from interference and that proposed guidelines would be forwarded to Obama in the near future.

But interviews with several scientists — most of whom requested anonymity because they feared retaliation in their jobs — as well as reviews of e-mails provided by Ruch and others show a wide range of complaints during the Obama presidency.


"Many of the frustrations scientists had with the last administration continue currently," said Francesca Grifo, the organization's director of scientific integrity. [The Union of Concerned Scientists]

There's an adage that goes like this: A new broom sweeps clean. I can't understand why we're eighteen months into the Obama Administration and there are still political appointees left over from the previous Administration, particularly since that Administration was widely known to put politics ahead of science. When Obama came into office he ordered his people to put rules in place which would guarantee scientific integrity throughout executive agencies.

"proposed guidelines would be forwarded to Obama in the near future," the White House is quoted above. Um, it's taken a year-and-a-half to develop new guidelines? Hell, I've been underemployed for about that long; I could have developed them in one-quarter of that time or less. In fact, here: "All scientific studies undertaken by Federal agencies will be peer-reviewed. If approved after those reviews, the results of those studies will take precedence over any political implications when devising rules using the studies as their basis."

Is that so hard?

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July 11, 2010

Felicidades Espana, Campeones del Mundo!

I stole the title from the NYT:

With a goal from Andres Iniesta in the 26th minute of extra time, Spain became the seventh country to win the World Cup, beating the Netherlands by 1-0 before 85,000 fans at Soccer City in Johannesburg and millions of television viewers around the world.

From Catalonia in the northeast to Andalusia in the south, I imagine the entire country of Spain is going bonkers. Wine is undoubtedly being consumed (and spilt) in great quantities.

It certainly wasn't a pretty game, but it was a really hard-fought one. Congratulations to Spain and to The Netherlands.

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July 10, 2010

I did not know that

One of the musical clips on This American Life was from "Twisted," a song Joni Mitchell recorded on her "Court and Spark" album. I went to YouTube to find a recording of the entire song and was astonished to learn that Mitchell didn't write it. I've always assumed she wrote every song she performed on her albums; she pretty much defined the term singer/songwriter for me.

Nope. The melody was written by a tenor sax player named Wardell Gray; Jon Hendricks wrote the lyrics in 1952. He joined with two other vocalists, Dave Lambert and Annie Ross, and they recorded the song in the early 1950s on the Columbia label. If you want to hear the group in all its glory, try to find The Hottest New Group in Jazz [Compilation], recorded between May 1960 and March 1962.

Here's "Twisted" by Lambert, Hendricks and Ross at You Tube:

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July 09, 2010

Petard, hoisted on

This is bitterly wonderful.

Long story short, artist creates piece of graffiti in rundown collapsing industrial plant. Gallery takes artwork, exhibits it. Owner of industrial plant finds out, sues. City says "Aha! We've been trying to find out who owned that land and plant for years! Because of this lawsuit, now we know!"

And now the previously-unknown landowner will either have to improve the site or tear down the collapsing buildings.

There are some wonderful photos of both the plant and the art at that first link. Click through.

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July 08, 2010

Kabuki Democracy

That's what Eric Alterman calls our current system of government in a long and somewhat depressing (for liberals) essay in The Nation. A sample:

it is has become easier and easier for a determined minority to throw sand in the gears of the legislative process. America's system of political representation, now more than two centuries old, has grown ever more anachronistic. For instance, when the United States Senate was created, the most populous state had just twelve times more people than the one with the smallest population. Now it's seventy times; giving those in small and underpopulated states a massive political advantage over the rest of us. And it just so happens that the best-represented areas of America are also the most conservative. It is therefore no coincidence that the forty Republican senators with the ability to bottle up almost anything in the Senate represent barely a third of the US population.

This is just the beginning of the problems Americans face in terms of disproportionate representation. The average age of a US senator is 69, while the median age of Americans, according to the most recent census figures, is just over 35. Women are a majority of the US population but only 17 percent of the Senate. Only four senators are African-American, Hispanic or Native American, while these minorities represent a third of the population. Most senators are also millionaires; most Americans, needless to say, are not. Elderly white male millionaires therefore come to do quite well when it comes to legislation. Underrepresented groups, not so much…

Read the whole frustrating thing.

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July 07, 2010

New (to me) thriller author

I first ran across the name Meg Gardiner in one of John Scalzi's The Big Idea posts, wherein he turns the floor over to an author who explains what prompted him (or her) to write his newest book. The concept sounded interesting:

The novel’s about the collision of fame and power. Also about the collision of helicopters, country-western singers, celebrity stalkers, White House minions, violent right-wing militants, and a television reporter from the Channel of the Blondes.

The big idea is: The Celebrity-Political complex has turned conspiracy-mongering into an American sport. It’s both crazy and deadly. To sort truth from fiction, it’s going to take a shrink. Jo must find out whether there’s a real conspiracy, one that threatens the President.

Gardiner has two series characters going; this one features Jo Beckett, a forensic psychiatrist. A what?
Forensic psychiatrists actually perform psychological autopsies in cases of equivocal death, to determine whether a victim’s death is natural, accidental, suicide, or homicide.
The other character is a freelance journalist named Evan Delaney. Both series are set in California.

I picked up the first two books in the Jo Beckett series from the library and read them each at a single gulp; they're that good and that fast-paced. My library just acquired the third book and I've reserved it. I am now on book one of the Evan Delaney series.

Oh. Stephen King likes Gardiner too.

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Gubernatorial candidate doesn't like hard decisions

Applauding Governor Lingle's veto of the civil unions bill, here's Republican Lieutenant Governor Duke Aiona, who's running for the top job:

Aiona commended the governor for making "a courageous decision" to veto the bill. But he also blasted the Legislature for trying to put pressure on the governor by not calling for a special session to override vetoes.

"To put that kind of pressure on one person, especially during an election year, and knowing how this issue is falling, that's just totally unfair," Aiona said.

To which I can only say, that's what Chief Executives do, Duke. They have to make the tough decisions. Are you saying you don't want to make those kinds of decisions? If so, get out of the race for Governor.

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July 06, 2010

Hawai'i's Republican Governor vetoes civil unions

On the last possible day for vetoes, Governor Lingle exercised her right and vetoed a civil unions bill.

House Bill 444 would have given same-sex and heterosexual couples the ability to enter into civil unions and receive the same rights, benefits and responsibilities as marriage under state law. Same-sex marriages, civil unions or domestic partnerships performed in other states would have been recognized as civil unions in Hawaii.

I don't pretend to know what's in Linda Lingle's heart, but I'm willing to guess what's in her political mind. I think she wants to run for the US Senate in 2012, when current incumbent Dan Akaka will be 88 years old and might very well decline to run for re-election. (Our other Senator, Dan Inouye, filed re-election papers today).

I think she vetoed the bill in order to maintain credibility and get financial support from mainland Republicans and the national Republican party for that Senate run. Had she let it go into law without action she'd have been a tough sell to the mainlanders, and if she'd (horrors!) signed it into law she'd have been accused of being too liberal for the Republican party. She placed ambition over minority rights.

If Lingle runs for the Senate in 2012 and her coffers are filled with mainland money, this decision will have paid off for her.

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Dutch Win! Dutch Win!

If that sounds like the broadcasters for the Cubs, it should.

By soccer standards, The Netherlands' 3-2 win over Uruguay was a wide-open slugfest.

The last time a team scored three in a World Cup semi-final was 1982, when West Germany and France drew 3-3. (West Germany won on penalties).

Tomorrow, Spain v. Germany.

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July 05, 2010

Never again will I waste my time on this

Originally posted at my Facebook page:

Okay, CBS, you're officially on notice about your Pops telecast; I won't bother watching again. You opened the show with a one-minute picture of the cannon being fired for the 1812 Overture, then went to some seemingly-drunk MC who introduced Toby Keith, who sang two songs. Then you showed the Pops playing a singalong medley. Then, after a bunch of commercials, you showed the drunk again, bragging about the upcoming fireworks display. (Was that Craig Ferguson and is that his normal schtick?)

Just after the half-hour mark of this hour-long cut of what is a three-hour performance for the locals you started showing the fireworks. Yes, they are spectacular. But I wonder if the viewers of WBZ in Boston and those on the Esplanade heard what we did: canned pop music accompanying them. The Pops were neither heard nor seen for the entire twenty minutes of fireworks.

A week or two ago there was an hour-long show on PBS telling the story of the Pops, from Fiedler to Williams to Lockhart. It served as a virtual promotion for the orchestra. I have no way of knowing how many new viewers tuned in to this "extravangaza" because they'd seen that program, but the majority of them must surely have been disappointed.

The Pops ought to reconsider its deal with CBS. The orchestra is getting very little exposure to viewers, and it's in danger of alienating some of its longest fans by lending its name to this terrible endeavor. If CBS wants to show an hour's worth of pop music topped off with fireworks, it should follow the example set by Macy's in New York.

I don't expect to see the full three-hour show the residents of Boston see, but I surely do expect to see the orchestra. It's advertised as the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular: show me the Pops.

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July 04, 2010

What's the bloody point?

Locally, the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular is an institution seen on WBZ-TV Channel 4 from 8:00PM to 11:00PM.

But not nationally. Oh no. CBS, in its infinite desire to show us what we want, is giving us something called "I Get That a Lot," which is described as follows:

I Get That A lot features celebrities tricking everyday citizens in a case of supposed "mistaken identity." Celebrity participants include style icon Tim Gunn behind the counter at a fast food joint, and Nick Jonas working at a girls' clothing shop.
It's followed by "Cold Case," and then (finally!) we get a single hour of the Boston Pops and its Independence Day special at 9:00PM.

Seriously, CBS, why bother showing it at all?

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Independence Day 2010

Reposted from July 4, 2006

As I went outside to put the flags up this morning, I treated my mother to a hearty rendition of Stars and Stripes Forever. Here's the original recording from 1897. That flag is the one Sousa had in mind when writing the song; it's a 45-star flag which became official upon Utah's admission to the Union July 4, 1896.

I used these lyrics:

Be kind to your web-footed friends.
For a duck may be somebody's mother.
They live all alone in the swamp,
Where the weather is cold and damp.
Well, you may think that this is the end.
Yes, it is, but to prove that you are wrong,
We're going to sing it once again,
Oh, yes we will, but it will be just a bit louder!

Be kind to your web-footed friends.
For a duck may be somebody's mother.
They live at the bottom of the swamp,
Where the weather is cold and damp.
You may think that this is the end.
Well, it is -- you are right!
So, just remember:
Be kind to your web-footed friends!
Be ever kind, yes, oh, so kind to all the duckies!

Did you know Sousa wrote serious lyrics to the march?

Let martial note in triumph float

And liberty extend its mighty hand

A flag appears 'mid thunderous cheers,

The banner of the Western land.

The emblem of the brave and true

Its folds protect no tyrant crew;

The red and white and starry blue

Is freedom's shield and hope.

Other nations may deem their flags the best
And cheer them with fervid elation
But the flag of the North and South and West
Is the flag of flags, the flag of Freedom's nation.

Hurrah for the flag of the free!
May it wave as our standard forever,
The gem of the land and the sea,
The banner of the right.
Let despots remember the day
When our fathers with mighty endeavor
Proclaimed as they marched to the fray
That by their might and by their right
It waves forever.

Let eagle shriek from lofty peak
The never-ending watchword of our land;
Let summer breeze waft through the trees
The echo of the chorus grand.
Sing out for liberty and light,
Sing out for freedom and the right.
Sing out for Union and its might,
O patriotic sons.

Other nations may deem their flags the best
And cheer them with fervid elation,
But the flag of the North and South and West
Is the flag of flags, the flag of Freedom's nation.

Hurrah for the flag of the free.
May it wave as our standard forever
The gem of the land and the sea,
The banner of the right.
Let despots remember the day
When our fathers with might endeavor
Proclaimed as they marched to the fray,
That by their might and by their right
It waves forever.

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July 03, 2010

Enlightened self-interest?

You know, if I were a Blue Dog Democrat in a dicey district, and if I read the polls that seem to indicate Republicans gaining on Democrats for November, I might think I should try harder to be a Democrat. After all, if I only squeaked into office in 2008 on Obama's coattails, and he's not on the ticket in 2010, then I should probably try to appeal to the Democrats in my district to re-elect me. I'm still affiliated with the Democratic Party, after all.

I sure as hell wouldn't try to be a Republican-lite. If there's an anti-incumbent mood in the country as we keep being told, then my goose may be cooked anyway. I'd be noticing that those Democratic colleagues of mine who appear to be safely on track for re-election actually vote with the Speaker and the majority of the party. They don't vote against the party's platform or interests very often. I think I'd learn from their behavior. If I don't, I'm likely to be out on my ear in November.

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What hell is this?

Why, it's the Career page at the Heritage Foundation!

The Heritage Foundation Job Bank assists conservatives in finding employment with conservative Congressional Offices, faith-based organizations, other public policy organizations, lobbying groups and trade associations.

Employers: looking for qualified, conservative or classical-liberal candidates for your policy-related positions? Learn more about the Job Bank

The Heritage Foundation Internship Program

The Heritage Foundation Internship Program attracts young conservative leaders of the highest caliber. Our paid interns have real jobs, acquire policy expertise, build marketable skills, enhance their resumes, attend events where they can meet and talk with the nation's leading policy-makers, and make friends with their conservative peers. Learn More

What was I doing there? I got into an argument while watching The NewsHour this evening. They had two people discussing unemployment benefits extensions, and one of them was from Heritage. I maintained that he was almost assuredly a paid staff member (and with a title like Director, Center for Data Analysis, probably a highly-compensated one). Mom thought he might be an associate of the Foundation, not an employee. I decided I'd go look him up.

It's pretty honest of Heritage to clearly state it's only looking for conservative people to place in conservative Congressional offices, faith-based organizations, etcetera. Wingnut welfare indeed.

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July 02, 2010

Honolulu City Council shows signs of intelligence

We've had an ongoing argument out here about the individual's right to blow things up using firecrackers, sparklers and whirligigs. Aerials have been outlawed for a few years. The American Lung Association, the cops and the firefighters favor an outright ban, because of health and safety concerns.

The state legislature passed a bill this year authorizing counties to make their own decisions about banning or permitting fireworks, and the Honolulu City Council (which represents all of Honolulu County, meaning the entire island of Oahu) had its first hearing on a prospective ban yesterday.

A bill banning all consumer fireworks advanced out of the City Council Public Safety and Services Committee by a vote of 3-0.
There's an interesting subtext here. In May a sitting member of the Council won a special election to the US House, leaving his seat vacant. The City Council had to appoint his replacement, and they picked a former police chief to fill out the term. He's long been an advocate of banning the things, so that gave the forces for good (I am in favor of a ban) another vote.

One of the arguments made by a fireworks lobbyist was that it was simply unfair for the vast majority of the population's "right" to shoot off fireworks to be curtailed because of the actions of a very few. Well, I am unaware of any such right in either the state or Federal Constitution, but more than that, that's just a silly analogy. Legislatures limit activities which only a minority engage in all the time. Is it unfair to make driving under the influence of alcohol illegal, even though the bulk of the population never does? Or texting while driving, or cellphone usage while driving, or not buckling seat belts?

Now a ban has passed its first hurdle. We are one step closer to clean air and fewer fires on holidays.

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July 01, 2010

Who's out of touch, now?

Think Progress has done a little research and discovered that 17 Senators have voted against unemployment benefits extensions despite double-digit unemployment in their respective states. Congratulations, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee: both your Senators have voted against the extensions every time they had an opportunity!

In a sensible world these clowns would be voted out of office on the grounds that they've become Washington insiders unworthy of calling themselves "representative" of anything more than the Republican party.

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