Better Off Than Some


Actress Lea Thompson made a few headlines today by letting people know that a home that she shares with her husband may have suffered at the hands of Hurricane Sandy.

In and of itself, the story isn't much, but it seems to have been written in order to make her appear to be a bit insensitive. I wonder if the structure and order of the items wasn't jumbled in some way as to make her seem like she was emphasizing the "you really don't get that much" aspect and not so much the "I hope everyone is safe" part. Her sentiments were probably more for the victims, and for the people who lost everything, and not so much with the idea that her flood insurance wasn't going to come through for her family.

Why Retro Technology Never Dies

I suppose I could make this post about the effectiveness of the Frankenweenie poster, but, really, this is about technology.

The demise of the pay phone came a bit after the end of the typewriter, but I think the two sort of show how the things that were really commonplace twenty or thirty years ago are all but gone today. Finding typewriter ribbons is a chore in and of itself (unless you're using Amazon.com, of course) and finding a working pay phone is somewhat similar to that. Five or six years ago, it was evident that pay phones were being unceremoniously ripped from poles and removed from places like convenience store parking lots and things of that nature. Now, it's considered news to see people using one.

This does arc back to technical writing--specifically, how useful is technology when it is more than evident that the limitations of that technology will send people back to a retrograde device like a pay phone? I would say that everything that is done, with regards to some sort of technology study or to a study about evolving consumer trends, should come with some sort of realization that many of the new technologies we have come to accept and use everyday are, at best, simply upgrades on things that worked pretty darned well back in the day.

Richard Cohen Can't Find Anything to Like About President Obama

Robert Kennedy paying homage to political leaders from New York
Richard Cohen has fallen apart many times before, but, this time, it's serious.

America's worst political pundit has decided to internalize everything and just run with whatever he can come up with in lieu of possessing insight. He discovered, roughly a year ago or so, that he doesn't like President Obama and so he slaps him
with racially tinged language and puts him in his place.
I once wondered if Obama could be another RFK. The president has great political skills and a dazzling smile. He and his wife are glamorous figures. He’s a black man, and that matters greatly. He remains a startling figure for a nation that was still segregating its schools when I was growing up — and killing the occasional person who protested. I went up to Harlem the night Obama won and heard Charlie Rangel wonder at the wonder of it all. The street outside was named for Rep. Adam Clayton Powell, an earlier black politician. His aides were not permitted to eat in the House cafeteria.
Within a paragraph, you see into Cohen's soul. When he writes that he wondered if Obama could be another RFK, well, I would say that Cohen was and is alone on that front. Unless Obama came from a wealthy family where the two sons older than Robert Kennedy were killed and where his father's wealth helped buy his way into politics, he might have a point. There's nothing to compare or link to there. Kennedy came from privilege; Obama came from anything but that.

Cohen seizes on the glamour of the Obamas--a sure sign that his village insider knife is about to be removed from the back of whoever betrayed him last. He, like a lot of people who exist inside of the Washington D.C. beltway, simply hate the Obamas for being young and beautiful and powerful and for ignoring what he says. But then Cohen doubles down and makes it about being black--a sure sign that we're ready for a trip through his own psyche. Not only are they young, powerful, black, and not only do they completely ignore people like Cohen, they've forgotten their history, too. What a sad way to work out some issues. What ingrates. Why, if they would only listen to what tired, pathetic hacks like Cohen have to say, everything would be fine.

The comparison to Robert Kennedy is hilarious stuff, by the way. That's RFK putting a move on some political bosses from New York. Here's what Norman Mailer had to say about it:
Bobby Kennedy, the archetype Bobby Kennedy, looked like a West Point cadet, or, better, one of those reconstructed Irishmen from Kirkland House one always used to have to face in the line in Harvard house football games. "Hello," you would say to the ones who looked like him as you lined up for the scrimmage after the kickoff, and his type would nod and look away, one rock glint of recognition your due for living across the hall from one another all through Freshman year, and then bang, as the ball was passed back, you’d get a bony king-hell knee in the crotch. He was the kind of man never to put on the gloves with if you wanted to do some social boxing, because after two minutes it would be a war, and ego-bastards last long in a war. 
Now, did Bobby Kennedy care about the poor? Yes. But he cared about screwing Lyndon Baines Johnson even more, and so this idealized, tear-streaked old hippie act from Richard Cohen is completely and utterly devoid of any sincerity. What a fraud.

The President Has Been Outstanding


Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Chris Christie is extraordinarily pleased with President Barack Obama and the Federal response to Hurricane Sandy. 

No word as to whether or not the Romney campaign is going to ask him to start complaining about the Federal response by the end of the day so they can make hay with something, anything in order to get Romney's earlier message of eliminating FEMA in favor of the states out of the news. The Republican narrative is, always, that the government can't do anything right so we might as well privatize everything. Well, when your town is underwater, you can't call the marketplace for help. You need the assistance of  the not-for-profit government.

It would be tempting to wonder if we're going to continue to be blinded by the white-hot light of ideology. At least for a moment today, Chris Christie has set that aside and has praised the efforts of the Federal government.

Cover Your Shame


I don't have the heart to show you the shot that everyone is mad about. I thought about it, but there was just too much Kardashian butt crack for that to work for me.

I will say this--whoever put her in these clothes should have warned her that she would look bad. A celebrity image industry run by Kim Kardashian that makes this kind of a mistake is one that is going off the rails.

This is the state of modern celebrity. No one believes that Kanye is really with her because he loves her. And no one believes that Kim Kardashian can wear see-through grey without underwear without realizing what she's showing to the world. Everything is fake, everything is a fraud, and I don't need to see that level of detail any time of the day.

Everybody's Down


You may have already noticed, but a good number of media outlets, especially blogs like Gawker and the like, have been hit by Hurricane Sandy.

Even though the article above says "everything appears to be back up," that's not the case. Gawker is still down, at least for me here.

Now, I'm not a rocket scientist, but why does this happen in this day and age? I worked for a phone company over twenty years ago; when events like this happened, there was a switch in Chicago or a switch in California that would happen automatically and allow for service to continue. It would seem to me that if you have a datacenter of some kind on one coast that you'd pony up a few extra bucks to have a mirror somewhere else to help keep your site or your service up and running.

Widespread Panic


Maybe if we had both of our major political parties behind the idea that we are all Americans, that we are all citizens, and that we should pull together and help one another, this sort of thing wouldn't be the headline:
“I think this one’s going to do us in,” said Mark Palazzolo, who boarded up his bait-and-tackle shop in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., with the same wood he used in past storms, crossing out the names of Hurricanes Isaac and Irene and spray-painting “Sandy” next to them. 
“I got a call from a friend of mine from Florida last night who said, ‘Mark, get out! If it’s not the storm, it’ll be the aftermath. People are going to be fighting in the streets over gasoline and food.’” 
President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney called off their campaign events at the very height of the presidential race, with just over a week to go before Election Day. And early voting was canceled Monday in Maryland and Washington, D.C.
I can see why people like Palazzolo say things like that. It's not because of mushy liberals who want to tell your kids what to eat for school lunch. It's because of people who scream about God's will, gays, and how someone with brown skin is coming to take all the jobs away. It's because of people who sneer at the idea of funding things like FEMA and at the very basic idea that government actually can take care of people when there is a crisis.

More defense spending? Sure. But cut everything else and give tax breaks to billionaires. It is how one party in this country views reality. 

Hanging By A Thread


High above the streets of New York City, a crane dangles overhead. The "billionaires club" building is under construction, and it will face a bit of a delay until someone can figure out how to fix this crane or take it safely apart. Until the winds subside, I have no idea how they're going to do that in this storm.

Hurricane Sandy is in the midst of blowing through the Mid-Atlantic region. It's enough to make a person nostalgic for central Europe.

America is Becoming Saudi Arabia?


One of the nuttiest parts of Matt Stoller's nutty story about opposing President Obama in order to further the progressive cause:
This is the shape of the system Obama has designed. It is intentional, it is the modern American order, and it has a certain equilibrium, the kind we identify in Middle Eastern resource extraction based economies. We are even seeing, as I showed in an earlier post, a transition of the American economic order toward a petro-state. By some accounts, America will be the largest producer of hydrocarbons in the world, bigger than Saudi Arabia. This is just not an America that any of us should want to live in. It is a country whose economic basis is oligarchy, whose political system is authoritarianism, and whose political culture is murderous toward the rest of the world and suicidal in our aggressive lack of attention to climate change.
America is becoming a petro-state? Really?

The difference between Saudi Arabia and America couldn't be more stark. Saudi Arabia is a petro-producing and extracting economy. America HAS an economy that does that, along with several other things. America is far more diversified than the Saudi economy; we're even making more things now which, I would have to say, merely includes petrochemicals and is not, in fact, wholly based on them.

This is odd to me because of the billions spent in the stimulus package on renewable energy. If America was really marching towards petro-chemical status as a nation/state, why are we investing in alternative energy? Why is the Keystone pipeline being blocked? Why aren't we extracting petroleum from the ocean off Southern California? I guess I'm not seeing it (primarily because it simply isn't there).

There is no progressive case against President Obama. Losing the White House, or losing the Congress, means oblivion, not progress. If you think four years of Mitt Romney wouldn't matter, think again. His foreign policy advisors are largely neoconservatives who got us into Iraq. His monetary policy is, in a word, cutting: he wants to cut taxes for the rich, cut ties to reality, and cut the Middle Class to pieces. His party wants to end choice and define rape as a procreation event that should be welcomed from God. These people tanked the economy. Period. End of story.
Many will claim that Obama was stymied by a Republican Congress. But the primary policy framework Obama put in place – the bailouts, took place during the transition and the immediate months after the election, when Obama had enormous leverage over the Bush administration and then a dominant Democratic Party in Congress.
Policy doesn't happen in the first months after a President takes control. It unfolds through two budget cycles. Tell me, in the period between the inauguration and the swearing in of the new Congress after the 2010 election, was there any obstructionism? Of course there was. Andrew Sullivan could find it--why couldn't Stoller?
In the end, despite visiting Republicans in Congress Tuesday, stripping out two provisions the GOP objected to, and inviting several Republicans for drinks at the White House this evening, Obama did not get a single Republican to vote for the [stimulus] bill. Obama's efforts did win him some compliments from Republicans who figure they can make deals with the Democratic president when the bill goes to the Senate next week. ... "The president was clear that he was going to continue to reach out to us, continue to listen to our ideas and I think we have to remember we're at the beginning of this process," House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, told "Good Morning America" today. Those comments marked a softer tone from Tuesday morning, when Boehner and other Republican leaders tried to head off Obama's lobbying efforts by calling on Republicans to oppose the stimulus plan even before the president had met with them.
And that obstructionism paralyzed growth, tanked our economy, and laid the groundwork for a Republican case against re-electing the President based on an economy that was forced to grow in spite of itself. Think about how much better we'd be doing with just a million more jobs, with a million more Americans back to work. We'd see the effects of such a thing in more revenue for state and local governments, more taxes being paid, and fewer people collecting benefits. That's the policy the President has been chasing--putting people back to work. The Republicans have fought to kill jobs in this country. Stoller's argument is ridiculous and ignores the obstructionism that began in the summer of 2009.

Matt Stoller needs to understand one thing--the party of invasive tran-svaginal ultrasounds is the enemy of progressivism, not Barack Obama.

Listen to What the Lady Said

This Election Will Be Stolen


This is just another example of the media finally coming around to the realization that voter fraud and voter intimidation are going to be used to steal the 2012 election.

Will anyone trust the results? No, of course not. Republicans won't accept the results because they believe elections are being stolen by poor people who don't have the right to vote; they are basing this on a myth. Democrats won't accept the results if Mitt Romney wins because there is widespread evidence that state governments under the control of the Republican Party are going to use dirty tricks to disenfranchise voters; this is called living in a reality-based world.

It doesn't matter who is arrested or is responsible for these letters because they are part of a larger calculation. This election is going to be stolen, one way or another, because the simple idea of one vote per citizen might result in an outcome that the Republican Party cannot accept.

So, no. This is not a "both sides do it" issue. This is about disenfranchisement and going back to poll taxes and gun-toting thugs outside of polling places. It is un-American to deny anyone the right to vote; but that doesn't figure into holding on to power. It never does.

Childhood is Mean and Lonely

Artwork by Charles M. Schulz
My goodness:
As Halloween nears, many families will gather around the old television set for the annual viewing of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” But, one dad says it’s time to retire the classic cartoon because of its taunting messages and unkind words. 
“The show is riddled with the kids calling each other stupid, dumb, and blockheads. There is continous teasing and bullying. Charlie Brown is supposed to be the hero, instead he is kicked and demeaned at every turn, even by the adults giving out candy,” Buzz Bishop, otherwise known as DadCamp, wrote at Babble.com recently. 
Bishop argues that apart from a sense of nostalgia for parents, the Charlie Brown specials have nothing of value to offer today’s kids. He finds the shows’ acceptance of schoolyard teasing to be antiquated. And, as the father of young kids, he finds the constant use of words like “stupid” “dumb” and “blockhead” to be a bad message for those little ears. “Charlie Brown is always an outsider, the cool kids continue to play tricks, and nobody is ever held to account. In an era of hashtags like #RIPAmandaTodd, these types of attitudes are no longer appropriate,” Bishop wrote.
Mr. Bishop is living in a fantasy world where children aren't mean, lonely, belligerent or confused about the world. Luckily, he can make an ass out of himself in public.

The sheer brilliance of Peanuts--the Greatest Comic Strip Ever--was that it had a world view that almost nobody understood until modern society could grasp Shulz's melancholia in the proper way. Shulz wrote about loneliness like no one else has or ever will. That, in and of itself, elevated his work above the simple gags and slapstick humor that Mr. Bishop probably wishes our kids could get right now.

If you understand Peanuts, you would never say it is irrelevant. You would say that kids should be exposed to it, over and over again.

Excuse Me, But Why Aren't You Playing Hockey?


You know, it sure would be nice to watch some hockey.

It would be a wonderful way to celebrate the onset of fall and the coming of winter. It would be a great way to say goodbye to October to be watching some hockey right now. The National Hockey League season is now, officially, cancelled through the first of November. They're going about things as if there's no lockout on their website. Players are signing deals to play overseas. We're talking about the AHL? We're talking about prospects? We ought to be seeing games. But we're not. And that's fine. Nobody is going to lose their mud over a few hundred missed games.

Come the end of November, well. People are going to start wondering what's what. People--fans--are already kind of wondering what's going on. How smart is it to start the season with people perplexed as to why the deals offered by the players aren't even being entertained right now?

The NHL has decided to just blunder through and see how it can screw the players. Because, when there's a strike, it means the players are trying to get more money. When there's a lockout, it means that the owners are trying to screw the players. That's generally how that works. How dumb do they think we are?

This time around, it probably isn't going to work. It's going to further alienate the fan base of hockey and drive people from the sport. How smart is that?

You know, Gary Bettman thinks he's a smart man. I'm sure he is a smart and powerful man. But I think he overestimates the shelf life that professional hockey has right now. There are people who are never going to leave it. And then there are people who are just annoyed with the drama. How smart is it to test these waters and take people to their breaking point?

Not very.


Ozzie Guillen Didn't Make It


Ozzie Guillen is, for the moment, out of a job. I have no idea if anyone is going to give him another shot at managing a team in the Majors in the not-too-distant future.

Here you have a guy who can win ballgames. He has a proven track record, one that is better than .500 and that might make him attractive enough to hire once again. Is it really fair to judge him for his knuckleheaded ways and his big mouth? Isn't that the distraction that keeps people from realizing that he can relate to ballplayers and get them to play hard? Or is it unfair to point out that the Marlins spread around a lot of money and didn't get much in return?

How is that Ozzie's fault?

Ringo's Car





You can see Ringo's car at the Mercedes Benz museum. It reminds me of a Pontiac. It's not that impressive of a car, but it's a Beatle car. That's impressive.

George McGovern 1922-2012


In so many ways, George McGovern was right.

He was right about Vietnam, he was right about where the country was headed, and he would have made a better President than Richard Nixon. He demonstrated, through his own personal example, that he was a man of exemplary character who was beaten by one of the most sinister con men in American history. The people were given a chance to elect a man who would have put this country on a better course. But the people were fooled. They were fooled by the shenanigans of the Nixon machine, and their message was delivered on the backs of millions of dollars in illegal campaign contributions. Remember George Steinbrenner? And how he got a slap on the wrist (and then a pardon from Ronald Reagan) for giving Nixon money? Steinbrenner was the original Koch brother.

The people are being fooled again by Mitt Romney. And while President Obama is no George McGovern, he is the better candidate and deserves re-election. He should be pushed in the direction that McGovern wanted the country to go, which was to take care of the poor and end America's wars overseas.

We should remember, always, the example of George McGovern. He was a true American original, and a better man than this country probably deserved.

The Myths the Media Creates


I'm not sure where Mr. Mardell gets his information. It might be directly from Mitt Romney's stump speeches. But there is a "manifesto" for the Obama campaign, and it is actually fairly detailed and lengthy. There are positions taken on numerous issues, but I'll give you three that truly matter.

One, the Obama Administration is going to bring the troops home from Afghanistan. If that's not a good reason to vote for him, then by all means--support Mitt Romney and his endless war on whoever his neoconservative advisors tell him to bomb. Ending the war in Afghanistan is going to go a long ways towards restoring America's ability to rebuild itself. We need to bring the troops home.

Two, the Obama Administration will continue trying to revive the Middle Class in America. I don't know what people are really listening to, but restoring the Middle Class comes up so often, perhaps they're missing what that means. It means rebuilding the strongest aspect of American society and culture. President Obama constantly refers to "restoring the Middle Class." If you want to call that the manifesto, please do so.

Three, there's this thing called Obamacare. It starts to really kick in during what might be the second term for President Obama. It is an essential part of rebuilding this country and giving people some form of relief from health care costs.

So, no agenda? No manifesto? Please. That's simply repeating the latest line of attack from the Romney campaign, which has been devastated this week by a poor debate performance and "binders full of women" and having Paul Ryan elbow his way into a soup kitchen and wash clean pots and pans.

The agenda and the manifesto is this: Ending the war in Afghanistan, rebuilding the Middle Class, and implementing Obamacare, along with a whole host of other ideas and proposals. If people can't see that, I don't know how much simpler to make it.

Chevy Chase Was Actually Making a Point This Time

I wouldn't call this a racially-tinged outburst because the context of Chevy Chase's remarks clearly indicate that he was making the point that his character will be saying the "n-word" before too long and that he does not want that to happen. The subtext here is that he seems to be expressing the position that he doesn't like where his character is headed. In a creative venue, this happens with actors and actresses who refuse to mouth words without thinking about what they mean. So, instead of bashing Chase, I'll give him credit for speaking up; what he should have done was he should have aired his grievances without using the language he chose to use.

Having said that, is there anyone who thinks Community is going to survive? Never has a show seemed more finished. How sad.


Another Victim of Political Shenanigans


This is what happens when you go up against the machine that backs Representative Paul Ryan, who will probably run for President in 2016. If you puncture the myths around this man, you'll have your charity ruined.

Let's be clear about one thing--the Ryans showed up and tried to make this into a self-serving photo opportunity and now people are taking it out on the charity that wasn't in the business of building up phony politicians but was, in fact, simply trying to feed the hungry.

How sad.

Sadly, I Have a Gift For Pushing Buttons


Michael Brutsch has attempted to give a self-serving interview, and it really speaks to how detached from reality people can get while in an online environment.

Brutsch is an adult; he refuses to "own" his own skills as a troll on the Internet. He's trying to look downcast, thoughtful, and sad because the ramifications of what he has done are costing him his livelihood and a great deal of dignity. He uses the phrase, "Sadly, I have a gift for pushing buttons" as a way of explaining himself. So, in the conflation of talent and ability and an extreme disregard for other human beings that he brings up, there's a requirement that other people should join you lamenting how great you are at making others miserable? I don't think so.

The problem with his apology is that he immediately went to the pathetic excuse that Reddit "encouraged" this sort of behavior. This is no different than being part of a mob on the street, tipping over cop cars and setting buildings on fire. It is not an excuse for anti-social behavior and it is not an excuse for the "creepshots" and the distribution of photos of underaged females.

Truly, he is a character who needs no sympathy
.

A Brave Life Lived in Pain


These stories are not uncommon in Europe, especially in areas where there was little, if any, medical care for people wounded in both of the World Wars. In cases where people did receive some medical attention, it was often decided to leave the material in the human body because removing it or disturbing it would risk infection or further injury.

In the case of Mr. Brown, I am surprised that he had so many pieces of metal in his lower extremity and that he did not lose the leg to infection. Somehow, all of this material survived inside of his body and did not cause blood poisoning? That's remarkable. He was, indeed, a brave man for carrying all of this pain and agony throughout his long life. And it also speaks to what was packed inside of land mines and other explosive devices. They were deviously constructed devices, and many millions of them still litter countries all over the world.

The Disgrace That Is Representative Joe Walsh


As if the Republican Party needed one more outrageous nitwit to speak up about abortion, women's health, and women's issues, here we have Representative Joe Walsh of soon-to-be nowheresville running his mouth in public.

Never mind that he is flat-out wrong and never mind that he is blinded by ideology, treading water in what should be a fairly safe district, and about to be thrown out of office (hopefully). What's disgraceful about this man is that he made his remarks while trying to hold on to power at all costs. He's appealing to a narrow slice of the electorate that is fundamentally wrong about this issue.

This has long been a canard of advocates against abortion. Walsh is simply regurgitating their rhetoric without bothering to consider that medical science is fairly clear on this issue--yes, you can save a mother's life by performing certain kinds of abortions at different stages of a pregnancy.

One Hundred Days by Alan Schom


This is one of the last books that I will read before The Chasseurs project is transitioned from a research project to a more proper blog about history and the Napoleonic Era (it's been in the works for long enough).

Alan Schom's book is brimming with excellent pieces and facts that are done in a very scholarly fashion. The quality of his details really rank up there with the best scholarship on this era. Gathering together the historical works on Napoleon would take a dozen blogs a dozen years; there's simply way too much that is way too good to ignore. There are hundreds of books written over a hundred years ago that are extremely valuable; Google Books is a good source for those.

What Schom does is follow the money and the trail of events. It's not enough to know what was happening when Napoleon landed in France after escaping Elba; he makes note of the messages that went back and forth between the panicked officials who were sensing, probably from the outset, that the new King of France, Louis XVIII, was simply going to run for the border (and, of course, he did).

It is an excellent read. I cannot proceed until I've finished it.


Now That's Comedy


Someone at the Weekly Standard sure knows how to string together a bunch of flat jokes that are old and crusty with mold.

Really? An OJ Simpson parody? Is it 1995?

At least when the President told his OJ joke, he didn't beat it into the ground like Robert DeNiro as Al Capone.

The Things We Do To Our Kids


Miss Thurman can name her child whatever she wants. At some point, it will be necessary for the child to shorten her name, but that's none of anyone's business.

For some reason, I keep thinking of the song "A Boy Named Sue," and how it resonates today as something that people simply wouldn't consider doing because we are now all but enthralled by the idea of elevating children to a perch so far above reality that there would be no possible way that a father could "toughen" up his future son by giving him such a name. If someone did try that, child protective services would get the courts to change Sue to Steven.

Mark Levin Is Absolutely Sure But Doesn't Know Anything


Let's explain why this is utter nonsense and have a little fun at Mark Levin's expense.

First of all, Levin worked for Reagan. For a little while anyway. That means he knows what he's talking about. What they did in the 1980s and what they do now? Same thing. Also, too. Levin worked for Reagan. So there's that. Shut up, that's why.

Second of all, let's be clear--Levin doesn't know if President Obama uses "binders" full of women to find candidates. He just believes that this is how things are done. Facts mean nothing when you believe something. So, instead of having evidence or proof, Levin goes with his gut. That's the way things are done on the right in this country. The gut is more important than the facts.

Third, Romney lied about the binders. He talked about them in a way which instantly ratcheted up the "creepy" factor surrounding a guy thumbing through binders full of women. It came out creepy, and that's why he got nailed for it. And then, the revelation about his lies came out. Instead of asking for them, they were given to both of the candidates in the race in which he ran so that more women candidates for positions would be selected. Romney rarely, if ever, hired women or people of color when he ran Bain Capital. That's not what anyone's gut says--it's just a fact.

So, you know. If you're Mark Levin. Go with what your gut tells you. Because he worked for Reagan. And Obama does it, too. Facts are for people who didn't work for Reagan for less than a year, okay?

Where Are You Going With This?


I'm not sure where she's going with this; the story seems to be about chocolate eggs and less about the marketing aspect of creating something that will deliver for the various companies that have a vested interest in profiting from the Easter bunny phenomenon.

There aren't many side stories as to the day-to-day operations of the Easter bunny. Things happen. People fall into production machinery. There are labor unions to deal with. There was one time that the Easter bunny had to deal with a trucking union strike and his solution was to hire scabs and have the striking truckers driven out of town by hired goons, also known as Pinkertons, and then charge the government a surcharge on several contracts in order to make up the difference. It was a pretty rough situation, and, when all was said and done, a couple of the guys from the union ended up wearing a wire so that the Feds could indict someone--anyone--on a racketeering charge that ended up being thrown out on appeal.

He's a rough bastard, and he doesn't mind telling you that.

The Writing Revolution


This is something that I just got around to reading, and if you care about education, literacy, education or just plain knowing how to write, read it and tell me that these people aren't on to something.

Being able to perform the mechanics of the language are one thing; you can hammer people into shape over time. But being able to analyze and interpret information is another skill entirely. Focus on teaching people that skill, and then all the rest falls into place.

But don't take my word for it. Read the article and see how this is manifesting itself through this change in direction and philosophy. It doesn't solve every problem, but it resets the basis for talking about why education fails so very often in this country.

He's All In



So much for being apolitical:


Right now, for the President to be effective in his next term he needs our increased support and he needs support in the Congress, where some sterling candidates, such as current Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, challenger Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts, and so many others, are fighting to make their constructive voices heard. 
Right now, there is an ever increasing division of wealth in this country, with the benefits going more and more to the 1 percent. For me, President Obama is our best choice to begin to reverse this harmful development. 
Right now, there is a fight going on to help make this a fairer and more equitable nation. For me, President Obama is our best choice to get us and keep us moving in the right direction. 
Right now, we need a President who has a vision that includes all of our citizens, not just some, whether they are our devastated poor, our pressured middle class, and yes, the wealthy too; whether they are male or female, black, white, brown, or yellow, straight or gay, civilian or military. 
Right now, there is a choice going on in America, and I’m happy that we live in a country where we all participate in that process. For me, President Obama is our best choice because he has a vision of the United States as a place where we are all in this together. We’re still living through very hard times but justice, equality and real freedom are not always a tide rushing in. They are more often a slow march, inch by inch, day after long day. I believe President Obama feels these days in his bones and has the strength to live them with us and to lead us to a country “…where no one crowds you and no one goes it alone.” 
That’s why I plan to be in Ohio and Iowa supporting the re-election of President Obama to lead our country for the next four years.

The most important musical artist in America just threw down a mighty big gauntlet. Who will rise to meet it? Who will take a stand?

Scott Adams Endorses Romney Because of An Issue He Does Not Understand


Scott Adams, of Dilbert Fame, has garnered himself some badly-needed attention today by endorsing Mitt Romney because President Obama's administration has done one thing to upset him.
Romney is likely to continue the same drug policies as the Obama administration. But he's enough of a chameleon and a pragmatist that one can't be sure. And I'm fairly certain he'd want a second term. He might find it "economical" to use federal resources in other ways than attacking California voters. And he is vocal about promoting states' rights, so he's got political cover for ignoring dispensaries in states where medical marijuana is legal. 
So while I don't agree with Romney's positions on most topics, I'm endorsing him for president starting today. I think we need to set a minimum standard for presidential behavior, and jailing American citizens for political gain simply has to be a firing offense no matter how awesome you might be in other ways.
Romney is not "likely" to carry out the same policies; Romney is most emphatically going to make it more difficult to pursue the legalization of marijuana for any reason. And he has said so, within the last few weeks if you can believe it.

I mean, honestly. You're going to vote for the guy who doesn't even drink alcohol, thinking that will mean that it is more possible for the legalization of medical marijuana to happen?

If you go around endorsing candidates when their opponent does one thing to personally upset you or make you mad, you might want to know a little something about the issues before you do so. In this case, The Obama Administration has continued to fight the outdated war on drugs that many people have come to despise. There's no question--the Obama Administration needs to start moving in a different direction with regards to medical marijuana and the dispensaries that deal in it. But that's hardly a reason to cast a vote for Mitt Romney; in fact, how could anyone be that one-dimensional and foolish?

Adams doesn't understand how Mitt Romney operates, and he doesn't shy away from beaming about the fact that someone at Reason has said something nice about him. Well, Adams needs to read Reason more often:
The cognitive dissonance doesn't end there. Yesterday, Lee Fang reportedin The Nation that Mel Sembler, Romney's Florida fundraising chair, has bankrolled opponents of Amendment 64, which would legalize recreational use of marijuana, to the tune of $150,000. 
Sembler is famous for having co-founded the militant and abusive teenage rehab company STRAIGHT Inc., which closed its doors in 1993 after investigators uncovered a trend of “unusual punishment, infliction of pain, humiliation, intimidation, ridicule, coercion, threats, mental abuse…and interference with daily living functions such as eating, sleeping and toileting.” (Full disclosure: As STRAIGHT was shutting down, my sister was forcefully enrolled in a successor program started by one of Sembler's proteges, called SAFE, Inc. It followed Sembler's playbook to the letter, and closed its doors after a decade under a similar black cloud of civil suits and government scrutiny.)

If Romney's ties to a drug war profiteer suggest to you that he'll be worse on drug policy than Obama, think again: Not only is Sembler fighting for Romney, he's also making bank off Obama's commitment to improving drug testing technology and the Office of National Drug Control Policy's anti-drug PSAs:
Scott Adams can endorse whoever he wants but let's not pretend that he's making an informed or rational decision.

Tagg Romney and the Wimp Factor

This is an important point to consider--it really is unfathomable to me that Tagg Romney would say something like this on the radio, given the fact that he's been so close to his father's presidential and political aspirations for so long. Running for elected office is the new Romney family business, and Tagg has been a part of that for a long time.

I also cannot understand why more people don't discuss the wimp factor as it relates to Romney and his candidacy. His family represents the essence of wimpiness and being completely and utterly foofy and fancy. Never mind the jokes about dressage or strapping the family dog to the roof of the car--these are wimps, one and all. Romney and his sons have never served in the military, never had to struggle, and have had everything basically handed to them. The family business is investment banking and politics? Really? And you want to contrast that with President Obama, who plays a very physical game of basketball and has lived around the world and maintains an aura of cool that contrasts fairly sharply with the sensibilities of the Romney clan?

There is a country club aura that hangs over the Romneys and I can't believe more people aren't aware of just how elitist and pompous they are when they have to deal with the minions that Charles Pierce calls "the Help," which is everyone who is not a Romney, of course.

A-Rod Simply Doesn't Care Anymore


If the New York Yankees are going to maintain any kind of professional relationship with Alex Rodriguez, now would be a good time to indicate what that relationship is going to be. If the Yankees are going to keep him, then they have to put him in the lineup and thus manage his ego. If they're going to get rid of him, they had better do it soon.

Forget all of this nonsense about whether A-Rod's head is in the game and if he should be out trying to pick up women during a game he's not playing in. That's something players do.

What, is he supposed to sit on the bench with his "game face" on? Is he supposed to twitch throughout the rest of the game on camera, visibly angry about not being able to fly out or strike out yet again? This is about whether or not you're going to keep paying a guy tens of millions of dollars when he's simply not productive in a post-season setting.

My guess is that either he will go or we'll see fresh blood in the clubhouse. A-Rod doesn't care anymore--that's just plainly evident. He never fit in and he was never a New York guy. He knows that, and it just doesn't bother him.

Not Even Close


President Obama did himself a huge favor this evening. He allowed himself to dismantle the Romney candidacy without bothering to get "angry" or "insulting." He calmly and assertively did what he was supposed to do, which was win.

Romney, on the other hand, has gone off the rails. Binders full of women will ruin his chances in the weeks ahead. It may be the most persistent meme of the entire campaign so far because it has really taken off among people who, you know, want their own meme.

This photo underscores the importance of Romney's public meltdown. He blew it, and he blew it bad. He got caught in a John McCain/awkward moment.

Edublogs Has Been Taken Out



There is something out there called edublogs, and, while I have never used it, I have used something similar for online education. The pages on edublogs recently went through a massive DMCA challenge and were taken down. I would argue that calling them blogs is misleading. Whatever they might be--study aids, collaborative learning portals, shared workspaces--they're really not blogs if it takes this long to notice that they've been taken down. Blogs are more personal; these were not really blogs, but if someone had more of a blog on there that fits more along the lines with a regularly updated opinion and interaction page, I wouldn't argue otherwise.

Finding a workaround shouldn't be too difficult. Whatever that turns out to be, don't use a Pearson product. Go out of your way, as a student and educator, to make sure that you're not using Pearson's products in any way, shape or form. See how their business model looks when educators and students make a concerted effort to punish them.

Pearson has a right to be paid but they don't have a right to overcharge for material that is out of date. Someone has overvalued their product and this has gone after the one area where fair use has thrived--in the educational field.

There is No Romney Plan


The Romney campaign believes in about half of America, not all of it. The Democratic National Committee set up a website that pokes fun at the Romney plan which, of course, does not exist. You can go here and have a little fun.

h/t to Balloon Juice.

Mitt Romney is Afraid of Whoopi Goldberg


If you can't handle appearing on a women's talk show, how are you supposed to convince Americans that you can handle the job of the Presidency?

Mitt Romney is afraid of Whoopi Goldberg? Really? And he's supposed to be a leader?

What happens when he has to take a call at 3 AM? Does he send Ann to deal with that, too?

Some Girls, They Rape So Easy


If you're Roger Rivard, and you're a Republican who is trying to have some semblance of a political career, you would think that going on and on about rape would be something you'd want to avoid. In his case, no.

This is what happens when someone starts talking about "the good old days." It leads to a resurrection of ideas, customs and practices that normal people would now find to be abhorrent and outdated. But, in Rivard's mind, he's relating something his father once said to him. It would not occur to him to filter this advice through common sense nor would it occur to him that his father may have had outdated ideas based on superstitions, lies, or rumors.

It did occur to Rivard to try to make the case that not having premarital sex has always been a wonderful thing in his eye, particularly because it reinforces his own political agenda. If he can relate the horrible advice given to him by his father, who had the ridiculous idea that young women would cry rape if they got pregnant, then he can justify things like cutting spending on preventing teenage pregnancies, sex education, and anything "icky" to people who spent their formative years terrified of having sex.

What should come out of this is the realization that if you're going to elect people to political office, maybe knowing whether or not they have strange and outdated ideas about the world would be a good thing to have in hand before casting that vote.

Stand While You Write


Staying healthy in a line of work that does not exactly lend itself to being physically moving and on your feet all day long is a tremendous challenge. This is what makes me envy, in a way, people who work in the medical field. Many of those folks are on their feet, constantly, and while they do risk injury when helping and moving patients, there are huge benefits for walking a great deal during the day. Huge.

This idea, which incorporates the ability to stand while working, is a positive one. Now if we can just improve on these standing desks and get employers to adopt them as well, right?

Look at All the People Standing Next to the Racist T-Shirt


First of all, it isn't fair to blame this guy, and his T-shirt, on Mitt Romney's campaign. Tomorrow, someone is probably going to wear something equally offensive to an Obama campaign event, so, you know, both sides do it. Someone with some common sense should have thrown him out of the event, and they should have made certain that there were seven or eight cameras present when they did it. That would have been a positive story for the Romney campaign (albeit, one that would have infuriated their base, but still).

Second, the freak-out over this T-shirt should be placed firmly in the category of "business as usual." There are a good number of people in this country who, thanks to things like the Tea Party and their enablers in the Republican Party, just hate the person in the White House. They hate who he is and they hate what he stands for. It is a searing hatred that ignores the facts, ignores common sense, and burns with the intensity of a thousand suns. They just hate him. They're not afraid to be seen in public expressing that hate.

Third, I say let this guy have the American he thinks he wants. He wants an America where everything is okay because there's a white person in the White House. If that's what he thinks America really is, let him cling to his fantasy and let him imagine that this isn't a richly diverse country where people can still overcome tremendous obstacles and become President. Let him pound sand in the face of change.

Because, let's face it. The guy in this shirt has a lot more in common with where Barack Obama came from than where Mitt Romney came from. The greatness of America is evident in the fact that someone with Obama's name, identity, class status, and background can become President of the United States. Mitt Romney's dad ran an American car company, was governor of Michigan, and ran for President. Now he's running on that leg up in the world. I'm guessing that the guy in this T-shirt didn't have a father who had a long and storied career in business and politics and made a lot of money that he could then use to give his children a running head start in America. I'm guessing that his background is a bit more modest, just not that of a person who is half-black.

Even if Obama wasn't black, they'd still hate him because he's a Democrat. But let's not kid ourselves--they just hate him. And that's why so many people are standing next to this guy. So, yeah. It is about him. He wore the thing. But the people standing next to him ain't exactly up on what it is that makes America great, either. They are complicit in the act of denying what makes America a place too good for them to appreciate.

Davey Johnson Blew It


I'm afraid that Davey Johnson blew this game.

Sure, the players actually lost the game. But Johnson left the game in the hands of players who shouldn't have been playing.

When he failed to lift Gio Gonzalez, I turned off the game. Gonzalez was coming apart, couldn't throw strikes, and looked like he was going to throw a pitch into the stands. But Johnson left him in and that set the tone for the game.

This is one of the worst losses in baseball history, and it falls squarely on Johnson's decision to stick with guys who were floundering.

Another Mark Against the Secret Service


I wasn't able to figure out whether or not Engler is a plainclothes or uniformed agent--and I'm not sure if that matters at this point. What does matter is that there's a problem with the people in the agency that protects the President, and now would be a good time to remove some of the senior leaders in that organization who have clearly not gotten through to their people.

Wrong in So Many Ways


These are Apex Predator Shoes from UK designer Fantich & Young, and they are Saville Row Oxfords with soles that, apparently, have 1,050 rubber dentures as part of their design or manufacture.

When I saw them, I thought of two things. One, they are a hideous combination of something that goes on your feet and in your mouth--a reminder of the fact that taste and design are critically important when considering something that tries to be different. Two, how happy is someone going to be when bits of teeth fall off from the shoes in an office, in a restaurant, or in someone's home?

Some people will buy anything, but, really. Why would anyone buy these shoes?

Biden Wins


I'm not willing to debate this--Joe Biden won. Period. End of story.

Each and every time it came down to being passionate, knowing the facts, and being able to take a gut check of what's right for the American people, Biden nailed it.

Paul Ryan looked scared, inexperienced, and so far out of his depth that I think he seriously damaged what little credibility he still has left. He brought up someone who was in a car accident, mentioned the name of John Kennedy, and wouldn't answer direct questions. He couldn't have done any worse than if he had put a propeller beanie on his head and tried to talk about war atrocities.

The Renaissance Man Sings


Nick Offerman can play a Gibson guitar.


End the Bush Tax Cuts


There are going to be a lot of these stories between now and whenever they swerve the car and avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff." They are designed to scare the public.

What we should be having a discussion about is this: since the Bush-era tax cuts didn't produce jobs, growth, and improve the fiscal health of the United States one bit, why should we continue to bail out millionaires while the Middle Class suffers?

The argument is already being made, and it's being won by those who want the rich to pay their fair share and let the Bush-era tax cuts expire. If the job creators had, you know, actually created jobs instead of lining their pockets, cutting wages, cutting workers, and outsourcing American jobs, we wouldn't be in this mess.

Here's what will avoid the "fiscal cliff" and save us from disaster--putting two or three million Americans back to work--meaningful jobs, good wages, and sustained employment--will fill the coffers of state and local governments and, in turn, the Federal coffers. Nothing grows an economy like jobs, and this Congress has purposefully avoided dealing with unemployment for far too long.

This is a Good Start

This was an institutional decision to inflict serious pain on families, communities, and the economy itself. It contravenes every aspect of doing business in an ethical, responsible way. It should result in still penalties and the dismantling of the procedures that Wells Fargo used to enrich itself during the real estate boom of the 2000s.

But, here's what will really happen:

Nothing.

Wells Fargo will either settle by paying a fine or it will battle the government to a legal standstill. It won't own up to what it did and pay back hundreds of millions of dollars to families who lost their homes; it won't go into blighted communities and buy back and repair the abandoned homes that ruined streets and cul-de-sacs. It'll shrug and walk away, accountability deferred once again.

There are people who will argue that going after Wells Fargo will simply increase unemployment and throw thousands of their workers out of a job. Well, if that job means continuing to ruin lives, communities, and the economy itself, then what good is that job? Because if you think Wells Fargo suddenly cares about people and places and doing the right thing, even it means losing lots of money, you're sadly mistaken.

What's Wrong With Remaking A Star is Born?

There are a couple of things at work here, and they don't really have anything to do with Beyonce. I'm thinking that a "busy schedule" means "not interested anymore" in reality-speak because why else would you say no to making a movie with Clint Eastwood?

Does Beyonce have too many Academy Awards? Because Eastwood is a lock to pick up some serious awards if he can find the right actor and actress to fill these roles.

Unless, of course, the project is falling apart. Perhaps Eastwood has chosen to go in a direction that the people advising Beyonce think will result in the film bombing. Perhaps he's lost it--witness his recent performance at the Republican National Convention. Eastwood has another creative issue to contend with. re is no separating the roles from the original actors. How do you replace Kris Kristofferson and Barbra Streisand? How do you top what they had on the screen?

Given the safe choices, bland marketing, and firm insistence on portraying the consequences of being interesting, who would step into the role of a lifetime and leave it on the screen like Kristofferson did?

Make the film with nobodies and hope it makes enough money to pay everyone off. The original is just too good to try and top.

Playoff Baseball


I haven't been able to watch playoff baseball in several years. But what I'm noticing is that the hitting of things like home runs is way, way down and the players are a lot smaller than they were five or six years ago.

That's not a brilliant observation, but I would add that we are in the era of the pitcher, and pitching is back, big time.

Rewriting History Won't Save the Romney Campaign


At some point, when I was not really interested in blogging this week, this came up on a few other blogs:
One of the hardy staples of neoconservative rhetoric is to invoke a golden age of foreign policy. This was an era, so we are told, when Democratic presidents were respected by Republicans for pursuing a tough foreign policy that vanished after the Vietnam War transformed them into a bunch of cowering wussbags. Exhibit A is Harry Truman, the Democratic president who first waged the Cold War and oversaw the creation of NATO.
So Mitt Romney was right on script during his Oct. 8 speech at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) when he extolled Truman's secretary of state, George Marshall, himself a VMI graduate. Romney drew a direct parallel between the upheaval in the Middle East and the early days of the Cold War. According to the Republican presidential nominee, "We have seen this struggle before. It would be familiar to George Marshall. In his time, in the ashes of world war, another critical part of the world was torn between democracy and despotism. Fortunately, we had leaders of courage and vision, both Republicans and Democrats, who knew that America had to support friends who shared our values and prevent today's crises from becoming tomorrow's conflicts."
I figured that I would be long dead before a Republican was caught in public praising George C. Marshall, who was all but tarred and feathered as a Commie by the spiritual forbears of Mr. Romney. You can read more about that here.

Romney has run an extreme and desperate campaign, and now that this strategy has failed, he's trying to moderate himself to the point where no one should be able to distinguish himself from that other Republican who rewrote history whenever it suited him, Ronald Reagan.

Reagan was fond of railing against things like Medicare in the 1960s, but when he was trying to get himself elected President on the tail-end of Nixon's Southern Strategy, a lot of that went in the trash can. And now, with Romney praising the man who suffered mightily at the hands of the Republican Party establishment in the 1950s, you have everything coming full circle.

Mitt Romney is a Republican because of a choice made to appeal to that segment of the electorate. I believe that his father was a real Republican, but I don't view him as anything other than a man who is so desperate to get elected, he'll praise someone like Marshall in order to trick people into thinking he's reasonable.

He is not reasonable. Not by a long shot.