August 31, 2010

The Fall of Saigon, the untold story

Most of us have seen the photo of the helicopter leaving the embassy roof in Saigon on April 29, 1975. (It wasn't actually the embassy but rather an apartment building where senior CIA employees lived, but never mind.)

NPR is airing a three-part story on All Things Considered beginning today which tells the story of the USS Kirk and its ocean rescue of some 20,000 - 30,000 Vietnamese in May of 1975.

It's got interviews with some of the sailors, but even more amazingly, it's got tape recorded contemporaneously by the Kirk's ship's engineer.

It's one hell of a story, well worth the 13 minutes of your time to listen to it.

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August 30, 2010

Here, Obama, lemme help you with this election

Read this article about all the projects the stimulus bill is funding. Then ask yourself why you've heard so little about any of them.

For example:

For starters, the Recovery Act is the most ambitious energy legislation in history, converting the Energy Department into the world's largest venture-capital fund. It's pouring $90 billion into clean energy, including unprecedented investments in a smart grid; energy efficiency; electric cars; renewable power from the sun, wind and earth; cleaner coal; advanced biofuels; and factories to manufacture green stuff in the U.S. The act will also triple the number of smart electric meters in our homes, quadruple the number of hybrids in the federal auto fleet and finance far-out energy research through a new government incubator modeled after the Pentagon agency that fathered the Internet.


The stimulus is also stocked with nonenergy game changers, like a tenfold increase in funding to expand access to broadband and an effort to sequence more than 2,300 complete human genomes — when only 34 were sequenced with all previous aid. There's $8 billion for a high-speed passenger rail network, the boldest federal transportation initiative since the interstate highways. There's $4.35 billion in Race to the Top grants to promote accountability in public schools, perhaps the most significant federal education initiative ever — it's already prompted 35 states and the District of Columbia to adopt reforms to qualify for the cash. There's $20 billion to move health records into the digital age, which should reduce redundant tests, dangerous drug interactions and errors caused by doctors with chicken-scratch handwriting. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius calls that initiative the foundation for Obama's health care reform and "maybe the single biggest component in improving quality and lowering costs."

But wait, there's more!

The Recovery Act's clean-energy push is designed not only to reduce our old economy dependence on fossil fuels that broil the planet, blacken the Gulf and strengthen foreign petro-thugs but also to avoid replacing it with a new economy that is just as dependent on foreign countries for technology and manufacturing. Last year, exactly two U.S. factories made advanced batteries for electric vehicles. The stimulus will create 30 new ones, expanding U.S. production capacity from 1% of the global market to 20%, supporting half a million plug-ins and hybrids.

Mr. Prez, buddy, your political team stinks. Why have they not been screeching about these accomplishments from the day after the bill passed? It may be too late, but if you want your side to keep its losses to a minimum in November, ramp up the seemingly non-existent White House PR machine and start talking.

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Six of one, two dozen of the other

Headline: Why Do Heavy Drinkers Outlive Nondrinkers?

A question I'd like to have known the answer to before I gave up alcohol back in 2000.

Hey! Does this mean I have the best of both worlds?

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August 29, 2010

Where's the anti-Obama propaganda come from?

Well, in part, it comes from e-mail like the one I received this morning:

6. When he traveled to Pakistan , after college on an unknown national passport, people said it didn't matter.

7. When he sought the endorsement of the Marxist Party in 1996 as he ran for the Illinois Senate, people said it didn't matter.

8. When he sat in a Chicago Church for twenty years and listened to a preacher spew hatred for America and preach black liberation theology, people said it didn't matter.

24. When the place of his birth was called into question, and he refused to produce a birth certificate, people said it didn't matter.

40. When as President of the United States, he bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia, people said it didn't matter.

41. When he traveled around the world criticizing America and never once talking of her greatness, people said it didn't matter.

42. When his actions concerning the Middle-East seemed to support the Palestinians over Israel, our longtime ally, people said it didn't matter.

43. When he took American tax dollars to resettle thousands of Palestinians from Gaza to the United States, people said it didn't matter.

44. When he upset the Europeans by removing plans for a missile defense system against the Russians, people said it didn't matter.

49. When he took away student loans from the banks and put it through the government, people said it didn't matter.

50. When he designed plans to take over the health care system and put it under government control, people said it didn't matter.

51. When he claimed he was a Christian during the election and tapes were later made public that showed Obama speaking to a Muslim group and 'stating' that he was raised a Muslim; was educated as a Muslim; and that he is still a Muslim-- people said it didn't matter.

52. When he set into motion a plan to take over the control of all energy in the United States through Cap and Trade, people said it didn't matter.

This is the kind of crap being passed around through e-mail. It's taken as gospel by some of the more credulous recipients (many of whom we saw at that rally Glenn Beck held yesterday in Washington). It's all recycled nonsense left over from the presidential campaign, all of it addressed and refuted, but that doesn't matter. It gets repeated over and over until some begin to believe it must be true. Worse, the truth tellers in the media believe it's been addressed and refuted so there's no need to continue to do so.

Thus it keeps proliferating.

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August 28, 2010

Imagine this

Suppose you're Tom & Ray Magliozzi, hosts of NPR's Car Talk. Then suppose somebody calls you up to say you've just bought this car at auction, and you feel to make it street legal you need to remove some of the extras.

What would you say?

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August 27, 2010

Buy a clue, Bernanke

Fed Chairman Bernanke gave a wishy-washy speech today.

Bernanke disputed the notion that the Fed is out of ammunition, saying in his speech that “should further action prove necessary, policy options are available to provide additional stimulus.”
Er, Ben? With unemployment at 9.5% and possibly rising, why don't you think further action is necessary? Part of your mission is, after all,
conducting the nation's monetary policy by influencing the monetary and credit conditions in the economy in pursuit of maximum employment.
So why aren't you trying to get to maximum employment?

Krugman has more.

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August 26, 2010

Who you callin' "We," Mr. Beck

Outsourced to Leonard Pitts, Jr..

A few words about who “we” is.

“This is a moment,” said Glenn Beck three months ago on his radio program, “... that I think we ‘reclaim’ the civil rights movement. It has been so distorted and so turned upside down. ... We are on the right side of history. We are on the side of individual freedoms and liberties and damn it, we will reclaim the civil rights moment. We will take that movement, because we were the people that did it in the first place!”

Beck was promoting his “Restoring Honor” rally, to be held Saturday, Aug. 28, at the Lincoln Memorial, 47 years to the day after Martin Luther King famously spoke there. You’ll notice he didn’t define the “we” he had in mind, but it seems reasonable to suppose Beck was speaking of people like himself: affluent middle-age conservatives possessed of the ability to see socialism and communism in places where it somehow escapes the notice of others.

Glenn Beck was born in 1964. The Voting Rights Act was passed a year later. I don't think he got out of his crib to lobby in favor of it.

Pitts goes on:

Here’s who “we” is.

“We” is Emmett Till, tied to a cotton gin fan in the murky waters of the Tallahatchie River. “We” is Rosa Parks telling the bus driver no. “We” is Diane Nash on a sleepless night waiting for missing Freedom Riders to check in. “We” is Charles Sherrod, husband of Shirley, gingerly testing desegregation compliance in an Albany, Ga., bus station. “We” is a sharecropper making his X on a form held by a white college student from the North. “We” is celebrities like Harry Belafonte, Marlon Brando and Pernell Roberts of “Bonanza,” lending their names, their wealth and their labor to the cause of freedom.

“We” is Medgar Evers, Michael Schwerner, Jimmie Lee Jackson, James Reeb, Viola Liuzzo, Cynthia Wesley, Andrew Goodman, Denise McNair, James Chaney, Addie Mae Collins and Carole Robertson, shot, beaten and blown to death for that cause.

“We” is Lyndon Johnson, building a legislative coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats to defeat intransigent Southern Democratic conservatives and enshrine that cause into law.

And “we” is Martin Luther King, giving voice and moral clarity to the cause — and paying for it with his life.

The we to which Glenn Beck belongs is the we that said no, the we that cried “socialism!” “communism!” “tyranny!” whenever black people and their allies cried, “freedom.”

And he stills sees "socialism" and "communism" and "tyranny" whenever his perceived notion of "freedom" might be accessible to those he thinks of as inferior.

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August 25, 2010

Why Health Care Happened

Reflections on the passage of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 from political scientist Jacob Hacker. It's a 16-page PDF document that's well worth your time.

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August 24, 2010

National Bridges

How many bridges in your county are evaluated thusly: "Basically intolerable requiring high priority of replacement"?

We have lots. If you're curious, you can go to National Bridges and enter your location's data into the appropriate fields to learn whether your commute traverses any bridges which are about to fall down. Wouldn't that be useful information?

Wouldn't it make sense for the federal government to borrow lots of money via, say, capital improvement bonds and use that money to fund repairs of all 149,647 American bridges rated "structurally deficient"? Particularly when the current interest rate on government bonds is somewhere south of 3%?

I think so. So does Fred Clark. So do a whole lot of economists.

So why are we not doing this?

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August 23, 2010

Books about The Great Recession

Justin Fox reviews several of them at Harvard Business Review.

Of the four he briefly synthesizes, I'll pass on Ariana Huffington's. She's got the wit but not the economic credentials. The other three all look interesting. I like his description of Robert Reich's Aftershock: "the busy person’s guide to inequality a brisk, intelligent run-through that you can finish in two hours."

The one I really want to read, though, is Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson's Winner-Take-All Politics. Here's how he describes it:

the two political scientists start by making the case that economic forces fail to explain why incomes have skyrocketed at the very top of the distribution (the highest 0.1%, and even 0.01%) while going nowhere for the bottom 90%. “Those at the top are often highly educated, yes,” they write, “but so, too, are those just below them who have been left increasingly behind.” They contend that government decisions encouraged this income explosion at the top. The crucial turning point, they say, came not in 1980, when Ronald Reagan was elected, but two years before. The business community, reeling after years of labor victories and regulatory encroachments, had begun to organize over the course of the 1970s and focus its energy on politics. The Chamber of Commerce tripled its budget. The Business Roundtable and the American Council for Capital Formation were born. The first two big legislative wins came in 1978, when the Democrat-controlled Congress killed off a proposal to create an office of consumer representation and a union-backed revision of labor laws.

After that there was no turning back: Business groups had figured out how to work the new levers of power in Washington, while the mass-membership organizations that had represented working America—-not just labor unions but also the likes of the American Legion and the Elks—-fell into sharp decline.

I don't know the lobbying history well enough, but my own observations do tell me that labor union membership in the private sector has fallen off dramatically over the past 30 years. This book looks to be an interesting one.

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August 22, 2010

Movie rentals

The local Safeway has one of these Red Box kiosks in it, so we've recently rented a couple of movies overnight. It's a pretty convenient deal, and at $1 plus tax it's even cheaper than Netflix for the number of movies per month we watch. Last night it was "Up In The Air," the George Clooney flick. Pretty good.

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Washing day

Thus, otherwise occupied. I'm folding clothes between innings (Yay, Waipio!), slicing mangoes for lunch and thawing chicken for dinner.

That's all hard work, you know!

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August 21, 2010

This is the Army, or part of it

Does Secretary Gates know about this?

For the past several years, two U.S. Army posts in Virginia, Fort Eustis and Fort Lee, have been putting on a series of what are called Commanding General's Spiritual Fitness Concerts. As I've written in a number of other posts, "spiritual fitness" is just the military's new term for promoting religion, particularly evangelical Christianity. And this concert series is no different.

On May 13, 2010, about eighty soldiers, stationed at Fort Eustis while attending a training course, were punished for opting out of attending one of these Christian concerts.

Hey, Mr. Secretary, when you're dumping your excess of Admirals and Generals, you might start with this guy:
The Commanding General's Spiritual Fitness Concert Series was the brainchild of Maj. Gen. James E. Chambers, who, according to an article on the website, "was reborn as a Christian" at the age of sixteen. According to the article, Chambers held the first concert at Fort Lee within a month of becoming the commanding general of the Combined Arms Support Command and Fort Lee in June 2008. But he had already started the series at Fort Eustis, as the previous commanding general there.
When I was in the Navy there was none of this stuff, possibly because we were a little too busy doing our real jobs. One would think that with the US Army currently engaged in two wars (or at least one and one-half, since the last combat troops left Iraq yesterday) it wouldn't have time to promote a single faith over any others.

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Admission Day in Hawai'i

Yesterday, the third Friday in August, was the 51st anniversary of the date Hawai'i was proclaimed a member of the United States of America by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

You can be forgiven if you didn't realize that even if you live in Hawai'i. All celebrations of the day have been mute to non-existent for the past half-dozen to dozen years. Our politicians are terrified of the Native Hawai'ian sovereignty movement, so they prefer to quietly ignore the day. You see no parades and no speeches here to celebrate the occasion. In fact, the only impact you'd notice is if you had business to transact with state government employees, since it is an observed holiday for them.

The tyranny of the minority. It seems to be everywhere these days.

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August 20, 2010

Er, so what?

Even if President Obama were a Muslim rather than the Christian he is, why should we care?

Yeah, yeah, Kennedy was the first and so-far-only Catholic President, we've never had a Jewish President, blah blah blah.

Lookit. With the recent confirmation of Elena Kagan as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, that body now has three Jews and six Catholics. Other than a few hand-wringers (Pat Buchanan is cited in the linked article), did anybody argue that Kagan shouldn't be nominated because the "balance" of the Court would be upset?

There are two Muslim Representatives in Congress right now. There are six Eastern Orthodox Representatives (one of whom is Darrel Issa. I'd be delighted to see him out of Congress, but not because he belongs to some faith I know nothing about). Nearly all the rest of the House members are members of "mainstream" religions. (Source)

In the Senate there is no one outside the "mainstream" religions (Source).

As far as I know, other than the race that Keith Ellison won in Minnesota in 2006, no recent campaigns for the US Senate and House have had a candidate's religion as a major issue.

So why would it be a big deal if President Obama were in fact a Muslim?

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Black and white and . . . where?

Imagine you're one of the motorists on this road and you see a zebra just ahead.

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August 19, 2010

Attn: Hawai'i District 33 voters

Mark your calendar. August 23 at 6:30pm KIPO 89.3FM will broadcast a debate between the two contenders for the State House Representative office. Those would be Blake Oshiro, the incumbent, and Gary Okino, the challenger.

Oshiro is the guy who pushed HB444, the same-sex marriage bill, through the House this spring. Gary Okino is the current City Council member who vehemently opposed the measure, citing his religion as the reason for his antipathy.

I've generally liked what Okino has done on the Council, but I've liked what Oshiro has done in the State House too. I'm voting for Oshiro because I don't think Mr. Okino understands the concept of separation between church and state.

I'm sure the subject will come up during the debate, so I urge you to tune in.

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August 18, 2010

Juries are unpredictable

No matter how hard the attorneys on either side try to divine it, putting twelve people together in a room and asking them to determine somebody's guilt or innocence is in some respects a crapshoot.

I say that not only because of the Blagojevich verdict and the news that on the charge that he attempted to sell Obama's old Senate seat there was one holdout who refused to vote guilty with her eleven colleagues, but from my experience as well.

About fifteen years ago I was on a state criminal court jury which was presented with pretty damning evidence that the night manager of a fast food joint had stolen the afternoon and evening's take. Procedure said he should bag up the cash and deposit it into the night deposit slot at a local bank branch. The camera that focused on that slot showed he'd never shown up to do so, and the cash never got into the company's bank account.

That seemed pretty obvious to eleven of us; we voted to convict. But one guy kept us in the jury room an extra day because he kept constructing outlandish scenarios which showed the guy was innocent. After a while it got really frustrating. All our arguments were based on the idea that we had to decide based on the evidence presented to us in the courtroom. Jurors are not allowed to make up fiction which overrides that evidence. We finally convinced him of that and he voted with us to convict.

Apparently one woman on the Blagojevich jury kept doing something similar. One of her fellow jurors, a Mr. Sarnello, said:

That one holdout -- a woman whom her colleagues declined to single out -- felt she had not gotten the "clear-cut evidence" she needed to convict, Sarnello said.

"Say it was a murder trial -- she wanted the video," Sarnello said. "She wanted to hear [Blagojevich] say, 'I'll give you this for that.' . . . For some people, it was clear. Some people heard that. But for some, it wasn't clear.''

In the words of pitcher Joaquin Andujar: "There is one word in America that says it all, and that one word is, 'You never know.' "

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August 17, 2010

A Mac query

Are the wireless cards in Macs noted for their ability to pick up signals around corners or at greater distances than the average?

I ask because this new MacBook Pro we have has not had a single occasion where it lost/dropped the wireless signal from the back room. The Asus netbook, on the other hand, regularly lost the signal after about twenty minutes. We had to stop, attempt to reconnect, curse, reconnect, and then try to continue what we were doing.

Knock on wood, of course.

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R.I.P. Bobby Thomson

As a Dodgers fan of 42 years and counting, I probably shouldn't be sad at Bobby Thomson's passing, but I am.

Thomson famously hit "The Shot Heard 'Round the World," the winning home run in Game 3 of the 1951 playoff series between the Giants and Dodgers. It wasn't the first crushing defeat the Dodgers suffered in post-season play, but it was the first one which occurred in my lifetime. I didn't become a Dodgers fan until 1959, eight years later, but I read every bit of past history about my team, and that one stung, even to a nine-year-old.

What's worse is that whenever famous baseball highlights are trotted out on TV Russ Hodges' famous call is among them.

Whether the signs were stolen or not, Thomson still had to hit the damn ball, and he did. Rest in peace, Mr. Thomson.

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August 16, 2010

Two blocks

That's about the distance between the community center proposed in NYC and the site where the World Trade Center once stood. What else is two blocks away from the WTC site?

Well . . .

A Burger King. A McDonald's. A strip club. A Vitamin Shoppe.

Hallowed ground it's not.

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August 15, 2010

Sunday Songfest

  1. Beloved Wife - Natalie Merchant
  2. Rockin' in the Free World - Neil Young & Pearl Jam
  3. Compared to What - Les McCann & Eddie Harris
  4. Whose Garden Was This - John Denver
  5. Hold My Hand - Hootie And the Blowfish
  6. Heat Wave - Linda Ronstadt
  7. Vincent - Don McLean
  8. High Speed - Coldplay
  9. Honey Pie - The Beatles
  10. Do I Ever Cross Your Mind - Dolly Parton
And one to grow on: Every Street's a Boulevard - Michael Feinstein
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August 14, 2010

CNN's springtime hire distinguishes self further

Gosh. I didn't know that standing up for religious freedom meant this!

Paging the Church of Satan: Our founding principles demand Barack Obama support your rights to human sacrifice. Carry on.
Or this!:
Paging Islamofascists: Our founding principles demand Barack Obama support Jihad.
Maybe CNN should have paid attention when it was told of Mr. Erickson's intemperate nature. We did remind you that he once said this about Justice Souter on the occasion of Souter's retirement:
The nation loses the only goat f**king child molester to ever serve on the Supreme Court in David Souter's retirement.
If I were his employer I'd start thinking "This stuff doesn't represent our brand very well."

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August 13, 2010

How do you argue with this sort of stupidity?

Thirty-five Tea Party organizations have signed a letter (pdf) demanding that the FCC not regulate the Internet.

These proposed regulations would permit the FCC to dictate how the networks that serve as the backbone of the Internet are managed, thereby removing incentives for further investment and opening the door for price setting or future regulatory action.
Well, yeah. All of us who think private corporations shouldn't be able to dictate who has access to content by labeling some of it "premium" and charging higher prices for the speed required to receive it would like a public agency to regulate it.

The letter continues:

It could also remove the ability for parents and ISPs to prevent inappropriate material from entering the home. This regulatory “reclassification” would effectively turn innovative private Internet services into a public utility.
Somehow I don't think you've thought this through. Do you people really want Comcast or AT&T to determine what content comes into your home? And what's to stop you from installing parental control software on your computer at ground level?

Oh, and just by the way, in the rational world we'd like to see the Internet become a public utility.

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Road maps for marketers

Every time I run a virus scan I see a zillion "tracking files" and wonder how they got onto my machine. The WSJ explores.

These things are used to build a profile of you, the user. Here's an example:

The file consists of a single code— 4c812db292272995e5416a323e79bd37—that secretly identifies her as a 26-year-old female in Nashville, Tenn.

The code knows that her favorite movies include "The Princess Bride," "50 First Dates" and "10 Things I Hate About You." It knows she enjoys the "Sex and the City" series. It knows she browses entertainment news and likes to take quizzes.

Oh, and that info is for sale for a tenth of a penny.

One of the top offenders? If you plan to look up "triskaidekaphobia" be aware that the online reference tool will probably place a little bitty file on your machine which will tell its advertisers about you.

I am not amused.

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August 12, 2010

What was left out of that Gingrich profile

John Richardson expands on the Esquire article I linked to day before yesterday. Quoting former US Representative Mickey Edwards (R-OK) again:

He [Gingrich] was the one who really more than anybody got Republicans to start thinking of themselves not in terms of their constitutional obligations, but thinking of themselves first as Republicans. The classic example of when this came back to haunt us is when George Bush became president and started doing these things that were unconstitutional, like his signing statements. Republicans rallied to support him. My whole life has been in the conservative movement, and if Lyndon Johnson did those things we would have had a mass protest. But they went along with it because he was their leader. That's the fruit of what Newt brought.
And that mindset has been institutionalized in Republicans. If you've never seen this chart about the use of the filibuster in the Senate, take a good look; it's frustrating, discouraging, and enraging.

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August 11, 2010

I don't even recognize this country

Republicans want to take away birthright citizenship. They want to deny the freedom of assembly from people trying to put up a building in NYC. They want to take away the meager safety net Social Security provides to retirees. They want to require non-whites to show proof of citizenship.

Is this still America?

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:17 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 10, 2010

Gingrich revisited

I've seen several people say that this profile of Newt Gingrich is devastating, that he'll never be able to run for office again after this.

I don't believe it. The man has enormous staying power and an unquenchable ego. Add to that a complete lack of principles (hey, it's not just me saying that:

"I've known Newt now for thirty years almost," says former congressman Mickey Edwards. "But I wouldn't be able to describe what his real principles are. I never felt that he had any sort of a real compass about what he believed except for the pursuit of power.")
and I think he'll be able to persuade himself and more importantly a whole lot of Republican sheep that he's just the right guy to run for President.

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August 09, 2010

SocSec Trust Fund

In its annual report the trustees of the Social Security Trust Fund announced that "pension and disability payments will exceed revenues for this year and 2011, reflecting the deep recession." Predictably, politicians who want to get rid of the program immediately pounced, saying the retirement age should be raised to 70 (it went from 65 to 66 last year; did you know that?).

So why are payouts higher than revenues?

More people filed for Social Security in 2009 — 2.74 million — than any year in history, and there was a marked increase in the number receiving reduced benefits because they filed ahead of their full retirement age.
Ah. People file for Social Security at 62 rather than 66, thus increasing demand on the fund. At the same time, 9.5% of the population is unemployed and thus not paying into the fund. Ergo, more outgo than income.

Don't believe the politicians who tell you the sky is falling because of this shortfall; it's temporary. If more people were employed the fund wouldn't be in this condition.

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August 08, 2010

Sunday Random Ten

Do It Again - Steely Dan
You Told Me Baby - Bonnie Raitt
Same Old Wine - Loggins & Messina
Almost Home - Mary Chapin Carpenter
Mamunia - Paul McCartney & Wings
The Needle & The Damage Done - Neil Young
Carefree Highway - Gordon Lightfoot
Seven Year Ache - Rosanne Cash
Bullet The Blue Sky - U2
California Girls - The Beach Boys

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August 07, 2010

What is this, Vacation-Gate?

Not surprisingly, the right-wingers and the theoretically-neutral networks have felt a need to report that Michelle Obama and her younger daughter are (gasp!) on vacation in Spain!

Kevin Drum notes that Laura Bush took vacations too, but they were in American national parks, which automatically confers legitimacy or something.

I'd add that Michelle Obama is probably a helluva lot safer vacationing in Europe than she would be in the United States, given the vitriol directed at her and her husband by the right-wing talk radio crowd.

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August 06, 2010

NPR Listeners pick Top 100 Thrillers

Everybody loves lists, they're so easy to pick at. Thus, NPR asked its listeners to pick their top 100 thriller stories.

Who is the NPR audience's favorite thriller writer? It's the King, of course — Stephen King, who landed six titles in the top 100. Lee Child comes next, with four winning books. And, at three titles each, Michael Crichton, Dennis Lehane, Dan Brown and Stieg Larsson tie for third.
Dan Brown? Dan Brown?!?

The top ten:

  1. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
  2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  3. Kiss the Girls, by James Patterson
  4. The Bourne Identity, by Robert Ludlum
  5. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote
  6. The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown
  7. The Shining, by Stephen King
  8. And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie
  9. The Hunt tor Red October, by Tom Clancy
  10. The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I've read about half of these books, I figure. How about you?

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August 05, 2010

The rites of Summer

No, not beach-going, not lawn-mowing, not even baseball game-attending. No, I speak of the now-annual breathless speculation about former Green Bay Packer, former New York Jet and most recently Minnesota Viking quarterback Brett Favre and his possible retirement.

Forgive me, ESPN, but this foofaraw is about as entertaining as the Discovery Channel's Shark Week. No, scratch that. It's less entertaining than that. I can root for the sharks.

Fortunately, I am not alone in my disdain. Charlie Pierce:

He plays. He doesn't play. If you're not Brad Childress [current Vikings coach] or Tavaris [sic] Jackson [current backup quarterback for the Vikings], what can it possibly matter to you?
Amen, Brother Pierce, amen.

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August 04, 2010

Bye bye, Net Neutrality?


Google and Verizon, two leading players in Internet service and content, are nearing an agreement that could allow Verizon to speed some online content to Internet users more quickly if the content’s creators are willing to pay for the privilege.

The charges could be paid by companies, like YouTube, owned by Google, for example, to Verizon, one of the nation’s leading Internet service providers, to ensure that its content received priority as it made its way to consumers. The agreement could eventually lead to higher charges for Internet users.

Such an agreement could overthrow a once-sacred tenet of Internet policy known as net neutrality, in which no form of content is favored over another. In its place, consumers could soon see a new, tiered system, which, like cable television, imposes higher costs for premium levels of service.

Any agreement between Verizon and Google could also upend the efforts of the Federal Communications Commission to assert its authority over broadband service, which was severely restricted by a federal appeals court decision in April.

I don't know if it's possible to lobby Google, but I'd say a massive users' campaign quoting this article and asking in big scary letters "HEY GOOGLE! WHAT HAPPENED TO "DON'T BE EVIL?" might get the company's attention. Perhaps a Google bomb would be appropriate.

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Little help, Mac users?

We suddenly possess a barely-used MacBook Pro, a gift from a Mainland visitor who insisted it was unneeded. That was a huge and highly-unexpected surprise, and we're very grateful.

Mom is a book person. She likes to refer to the printed page and the Post-it notes she uses to bookmark the pages she finds useful. Which of the ". . .for Dummies" books should I get -- "Mac for Dummies" or "OS X for Dummies?"

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:42 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 03, 2010

Mayor Bloomberg on mosque opposition

You'd have to have been living overseas or under a rock to have missed the controversy ginned up by rabid Islamophobes about a plan to build a community center/mosque in lower Manhattan near the World Trade Center site. Today Mayor Bloomberg gave a speech at Governors Island surrounded by religious leaders, defending the planners' right to build there. Bloomberg noted:

"Muslims are as much a part of our city and our country as the people of any faith. And they are as welcome to worship in lower Manhattan as any other group.
That's the gist, but there's a lot more. He traces the origins of the fight for religious freedom in the city all the way back to Peter Stuyvesant (against it) to the Quakers (for it). I'd like to have heard it.


Posted by Linkmeister at 01:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 02, 2010

Blow up the Senate's Rules

The New Yorker's George Packer has an excellent essay about the current US Senate and its inability to get anything useful done for the country. It's definitely worth five or ten minutes of your time. The headline says it all:

The Empty Chamber
Just how broken is the Senate?

There's a lot of meat in the article, but this is one of the appetizers:

Between 1998 and 2004, half the senators who left office became lobbyists. In 2007, Trent Lott, a Republican leader in the Senate less than a year into his fourth term, abruptly resigned and formed a lobbying firm with former Senator John Breaux, just a few weeks before a new law took effect requiring a two-year waiting period between serving and lobbying.
Isn't that charming? And some folks think the unfettered use of corporate money in elections is no big deal.

Posted by Linkmeister at 02:13 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 01, 2010

Count to ten

Texas blogger Kuff sorts through his iTunes library to find songs using the words One to Ten in their titles. Here's my version:

  1. One – Three Dog Night
  2. Two Hot Girls (On A Hot Summer Night) – Carly Simon
  3. Three Time Loser – Bonnie Raitt
  4. 4 + 20 – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
  5. Five Feet High And Rising – Johnny Cash
  6. Six O’Clock – The Lovin’ Spoonful
  7. Seven Year Ache – Rosanne Cash
  8. Eight Miles High – The Byrds
  9. Cloud Nine – The Temptations
  10. Ten Feet Off The Ground – Rosemary Clooney & Michael Feinstein

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:38 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack