"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Laughter Is the Best Medicine

This one is priceless, straight from Fox and Friends (Fox News' own home-grown loony bin). Watch how worked up he gets about it:

Sorry, Mr. Johnson, Jr., but this is what's going to happen: The marriage license will say "Spouse A" and "Spouse B." The officiant will sometimes say "Do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?" or "Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?" Children will still have mothers and fathers, although in some cases they will have two of one rather than one of each. (And children seem to adapt to things like that much more easily than Fox News "legal analysts.") Nothing will happen to heterosexual marriage that wasn't going to happen anyway. Society doesn't come to a screeching halt because the state changes the wording on a marriage license.

And if I may make a suggestion, stay away from anthropology and questions of language and culture. You're obviously way out of your depth.

And just to demonstrate that even in Illinois we have our own home-grown screwballs, how's this?

David E. Smith, IFI executive director, told the Daily Herald that he hoped state legislators would be "a little gun-shy of going forward with another social experiment" in legalizing same-sex marriage.

Smith added to the Post-Dispatch that he fears the goal of those pushing for marriage equality, "for some, is the eradication of marriage altogether"[.]

You see, the way to get rid of marriage is to allow a whole new group of people to get married. Obvious, now that he's pointed it out to us.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

About All Those Precedents

Somewhere I had heard there were eighteen, but according to this, it's actually fourteen, some of which may be surprising:

There. That settles that.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Fiscal Cliff Scam

And other disasters that aren't going to happen. Here's James Galbraith on the reality of the looming "crisis":

Stripped to essentials, the fiscal cliff is a device constructed to force a rollback of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, as the price of avoiding tax increases and disruptive cuts in federal civilian programs and in the military. It was policy-making by hostage-taking, timed for the lame duck session, a contrived crisis, the plain idea now unfolding was to force a stampede.

In the nature of stampedes arguments become confused; panic flows from fear, when multiple forces – economic and political in this instance – all appear to push the same way. It is therefore useful to sort through those forces, breaking them down into separate questions, and to ask whether any of them justify the voices of doom.

Read the whole thing -- he goes through point by point and underscores that they are so much horsepucky.

And then he makes a recommendation I can wholeheartedly support:

In short, Members of Congress: if you can, just pass the President's bill on middle-class taxes, and, if you can, eliminate the domestic sequester. Then, please go home. Enjoy the holidays. Come back in January prepared to extend unemployment insurance, to phase out the payroll tax holiday gradually, to restore stable funding to necessary programs and to start dealing with our real problems: jobs, foreclosures, infrastructure and climate change.

I'd take out the "if you can" parts -- just do it, and justify, for a little while at least, the cushy jobs you've got.

Via Digby. Read her post for the lead-in. It seems everyone's on board.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

About Feathers

In the fall sometimes you can see feathers lying on the ground that birds have shed when they start their winter molt. They're really pretty remarkable -- intricate, strong, and beautiful. I think the most interesting ones are the small covert feathers, the kind with a bit of down at the base of the shaft, and then flat above that. The idea that they evolved from reptile scales -- as did our hair -- is pretty amazing.

There's a new article I just discovered about how the evolution of feathers played a key role in birds being able to fly.

Dr Jakob Vinther, from the University of Bristol's Schools of Biological and Earth Sciences, said: "We are starting to get an intricate picture of how feathers and birds evolved from within the dinosaurs. We now seem to see that feathers evolved initially for insulation. Later in evolution, more complex vaned or pinnate feathers evolved for display.

"These display feathers turned out to be excellent membranes that could have been utilised for aerial locomotion, which only very late in bird evolution became what we consider flapping flight. This new research is shedding light not just on how birds came to fly, but more specifically on how feathers came to be the way they are today -- one of the most amazing and highly specialised structures in nature."

If you look closely, you can see that the individual barbs interlock, which makes a nice, tight surface that's helpful for insulation and for flying. Here's a good post on the anatomy of a feather.

And not only are they useful, they're beautiful -- and contribute to some spectacular birds:

Here's a whole gallery of them.

And now you know how the flower got its name.

There -- isn't that better than politics?

Friday, November 23, 2012

They really don't get it

I really can't add anything to this article from NYT.

It's really pretty bad when straight reporting, even filtered through the MSM, points up the complete lack of any integrity in the Republican Party.

This is good:

Inside the Romney campaign, there is little doubt that Mr. Christie’s expressions of admiration for the president, coupled with ubiquitous news coverage of the hurricane’s aftermath, raised Mr. Obama’s standing at a crucial moment.

During a lengthy autopsy of their campaign, Mr. Romney’s political advisers pored over data showing that an unusually large number of voters who remained undecided until the end of the campaign backed Mr. Obama. Many of them cited the storm as a major factor in their decision, according to a person involved in the discussion.

“Christie,” a Romney adviser said, “allowed Obama to be president, not a politician.”

Maybe it's because the country wants a president, not a politician.

I give up. I really do.

The Scary Part Is

Someone actually voted for these dipshits:

Republican lawmakers in Michigan, a state which eliminated tax credits for children last year, have proposed a tax credit for unborn foetuses of 12 weeks gestation. . . .

One of the main sponsors of the foetus tax credit bill, Jud Gilbert, a Republican representative of Algonac, said the rationale behind it was to recognise that mothers have additional bills to pay.

"You're recognizing the fact that people have additional expenses, another person to take care of," he told told Mlive. "Money saved there could be contributed to doctor's bills and all kinds of things."

Gilbert said the move would speed up a tax exemption that parents only get when a child is born.

However, tax exemptions for children and families have been cut in the state, to the extent that another 9,000 children have been forced into poverty as a result, according to policy groups.

It just proves what I've been saying all along: to Republicans, life begins at conception and ends at birth.

(Message to those who were concerned that the conservative message didn't get out during the campaign: It came out loud and clear. That's why you lost.)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Just for Fun

I love this:

Via BalloonJuice.

Happy Thanksgiving

For those of you in the States.

Thanksgiving is one of the two or three days in the year when I just like to take some time and think. I haven't decided yet whether I'm going to do dinner -- I've been known to have Thanksgiving a couple of days later.

At any rate, eat well, enjoy friends and family, and have a happy holiday.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Real American

That's the Tea Party for you -- if you don't like the results of a free election, steal it. This is Judson Phillips, founder of Tea Party Nation:

"Mitt Romney carried 24 states. We need to have conservative activists from all over the nation contact the electors, the Republican Party and the secretary of state in all of these states and tell them not to participate in the Electoral College when it meets on Dec. 17. If we can get 17 of those states (just over one-third) to refuse to participate, the Electoral College will have no quorum. Then, as the Constitution directs, the election goes to the House of Representatives. That is how we can still pull this election out and make Mitt Romney president in January. We need this concept shared with every tea party, liberty and patriotic group throughout the country. We have time to act, but we must pressure Republicans to do the right thing. It does not matter who gets credit for this. The credit is not important. Using our last chance to defeat Barack Obama is important."

Two Takes on Social Security

First, these comments from Lloyd Blankfein, who you may remember presided over the implosion of Goldman Sachs -- he and his fellows were bailed out to the tune of several hundred billion dollars of our money:

BLANKFEIN: You're going to have to undoubtedly do something to lower people's expectations -- the entitlements and what people think that they're going to get, because it's not going to -- they're not going to get it.

PELLEY: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid?

BLANKFEIN: You can look at history of these things, and Social Security wasn't devised to be a system that supported you for a 30-year retirement after a 25-year career. ... So there will be things that, you know, the retirement age has to be changed, maybe some of the benefits have to be affected, maybe some of the inflation adjustments have to be revised. But in general, entitlements have to be slowed down and contained.

PELLEY: Because we can't afford them going forward?

BLANKFEIN: Because we can't afford them.

To be fair, he does admit that the rich need to pay more in taxes, but the idea of lowering "entitlements" (which is a word that I think should be banned from public discourse -- yes, Social Security and Medicare are "entitlements" in the sense that we've been paying into them our entire working lives and we're entitled to something back) is too much the same old crap we've been hearing from the right -- and now from the "centrists" in Washington -- for way too long.

(The comments on this one are pretty much negative.)

Via. (The comments there are much more historically informed.)

On the other hand, there's evidence that someone in Washington is using his brains:

As the Senate returns to Washington to debate how to reduce the federal deficit and avoid severe automatic budget cuts, Sen. Mark Begich announced a new bill to strengthen the Social Security program while making clear the federal budget should not be balanced on the backs of America’s seniors by cutting or privatizing Social Security. …

Entitled the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act, the bill extends the solvency of Social Security for approximately 75 years by requiring higher-income Americans to pay Social Security on their earnings all year long and adjusting the formula for cost-of-living increases to better reflect the needs of our seniors and persons with disabilities.

It's a simple, elegant fix that incorporates what I and others have been saying all along -- raise the income cap on the payroll tax and take Social Security off the table in "deficit reduction" negotiations.

Write your senators and insist that they co-sponsor this one. And contact your congresscritters and ask why they haven't introduced a companion bill in the House.

Here's Begich's full press release.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Thought for the Day

Reading all the reports on the Republican outrage over the Benghazi "conspiracy," which is going to lead to blocking the nomination of Susan Rice as Secretary of State (if, indeed, Obama does actually nominate her), the ongoing "conspiracy" to cook unemployment figures, the ongoing efforts at vote suppression, and so on and so on, it occurs to me that the most accurate description of the way Republicans think can be summarized thusly: They're still trying to make Obama a one-term president.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Little Lost Planet

Well, not so little -- it's about the size of Jupiter, but much heavier:

Montreal astronomers have found a lonely planet drifting through space without a solar system to call home.

It is 130 light-years from Earth, four light-years from the nearest star, in a region so dark it's invisible to ordinary telescopes.

But the new "rogue" planet, called CFBDSIR2149, gave away its position because it is warm - about 400 C - and heat shows up on infrared telescopes. . . .

"We've suspected for some time that objects like this exist," said René Doyon, a senior astronomer at the Université de Montréal. In fact, large objects have been detected in more distant parts of space. But this is the first one that's planet-sized and not too far from Earth.

The new planet is about the size of Jupiter, but it's believed to weigh between four and seven times more than Jupiter. The astronomers think it has a rocky centre surrounded by dense gas, which is the source of its heat.

Now I Get It!

From AmericaBlog, this comment from one of their readers:

Something to think about today. It all makes sense now.

Gay marriage and marijuana being legalized on the same day.

Leviticus 20:13 – “if a man lays with another man, as with a woman, he should be stoned.”

We’ve just been interpreting it wrong all along.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Stunned (Updated)

One thing I've noticed about the reports on the Romney camp -- and the right in general -- post-election is that they are really, truly stunned by the loss. There's lots of speculation as to why -- Maha has what I think is a good take on it:
The right-wing world view is based on a faith in several unsupported assumptions, one of which is that a solid majority of American citizens share their views, and liberal/progressive beliefs are held only by a shadowy elite fringe of egghead academics and aging hippies (never mind that “elite hippie” is something of an oxymoron) plus angry and demanding nonwhites, various “pervents” like gays and feminists, and foreign infiltrators. In the rightie mind, all of those groups added together make a big enough minority to be of concern in a national election, especially with that voter fraud thing going on. But still, a minority.

After all, the press has been telling them for years that America is a center-right nation. They just decided to ignore the "center" part of it. I'm not even sure about the "right" part -- I suspect that most Americans are like me: we want responsible government that doesn't spend itself into a hole regularly, or at least not a very deep one, and that stays out of people's personal lives.

Update: They just don't get it. Here's Peggy Noonan on what the Republicans need to do to recover:

Noonan, however, says Republicans don't need to rethink their principles such as limited government, but how to present such ideas. . . .

"One of the things I think the party will have to do now is listen to certain voices, such as up here in New York, Heather Higgins of IWF (Independent Women's Forum). She has been some time to party political professionals the answer is not to drill deep into the base; the answer is to expand the base. And that is through going to people, that is through conversation, that is through talking to them about the issues that they case about. It is not operating from 'up here' with big ads that just press people's buttons; it's operating in a way like the Obama campaign did. It's going down on to the ground and talking to people. It's labor intensive, but it's a way of growing. It's a wake of persuading people, which I think Republicans have gotten kind of bad at," she said.

"Kind of bad at." Yeah, you could say that. What's key here, and where Noonan is missing completely, is that part about not rethinking their principles. Granted, she's probably thinking of the stated principles -- the small government thing -- but not about the actual principles -- small government for the 1%, Uncle Sam peering over your shoulder for everyone else. She doesn't get it. (I fail to understand why Noonan is considered a "respected political commentator.")

David Atkins has a better take on it.

But did the Republicans really believe that women, youth, minorities, and educated folk wouldn't recognize a visceral threat to our existence when we saw it? That we wouldn't turn out to vote? That we wouldn't do everything in our power to prevent the measures of our lives from being determined by these people?

Of course, they could always respond with threats.

Footnote: Digby has what I have to consider the cherry on top.

Veterans Day Observed

Yesterday was the actual day, but since it fell on a Sunday, the official observance is today.

All I have to say is "Thank you."

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Sounds of Home

An absolutely fascinating article from PBS on what the earth sounds like, with sound track. I can't embed the MP3, so you'll have to follow the link to listen, but do that -- amazing.

Here's an image of what's causing it:

That's us in the middle.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

How Big Was It?

Here's a nice summary from Mugsy at C&L on just what we won in this election. Partial list:

Obama re-elected, winning every swing state (Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Nevada, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Virgina.)

Democrats gain seats in both the House (preliminary: +6) & Senate (+4 from 51 to 53+2 Inde.), retaining control of the Senate. We had 23 Senate seats to defend while Republicans only had to defend 10. Not only did we SWEEP all 23 Democratic races, but we picked up two more.

Maryland, Maine, and Washington all voted FOR Marriage Equality. Minnesota upheld their existing law.

Iowa judge David Wiggins who upheld Marriage Equality in his state won reelection despite a concentrated effort to unseat him.

Sherrod Brown retained his Senate seat despite being the most heavily targeted Democratic Senator in the country by the Right Wing SuperPAC's.

Wisconsin elected the nations' first openly gay Senator, Tammy Baldwin.

Tammy Duckworth took out "deadbeat dad" and all-around super-douchbag Joe Walsh. (Ed.note: YAY!)

Washington State & Colorado decriminalized recreational Marijuana. Massachusetts passes a law allowing medical Marijuana.

Democrats win Senate seats in deep red North Dakota & West Virginia (Heidi Heitkamp & Joe Manchin.)

Swing state New Hampshire elects women to EVERY seat (Both Senate and both House seats).
The "Redefine Rape" guys, Todd Akin, Roscoe Bartlett & Richard Mourdock all lost... BIG. (side note: Akin & Bartlet were also both on the House Science Committee. No joke.)

Allen West is out (but not gracefully).

Alan Grayson is back in.

Most women in Senate EVER (18).

Missouri, Montana, West Virginia elected Democratic governors.

Obama becomes first Democrat since FDR to win two elections with more than 50% of the popular vote.

And here's more from Rachel Maddow:

Life is good.

Friday, November 09, 2012

And the Crowd Goes Wild!

The winner of Australia's Big Brother proposes to his boyfriend:

Newspeak, the Rove Version

This is just too good:

Karl Rove told Fox News' Megyn Kelly on Thursday that President Obama won re-election "by suppressing the vote" with negative campaign ads that "turned off" potential voters, citing a victory that carried a smaller percentage of the popular vote compared to that of the 2008 presidential race.

Umm -- that's called "campaigning."

Thursday, November 08, 2012


First, crank up your irony meters: Allen West lost, and is set to demand a recount. From his campaign manager:

This race is far from decided and there is no rush to declare an outcome. Ensuring a fair and accurate counting of all ballots is of the utmost importance. There are still tens of thousands of absentee ballots to be counted in Palm Beach County and potential provisional ballots across the district.

Late last night Congressman West maintained a district-wide lead of nearly 2000 votes until the St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections "recounted" thousands of early ballots. Following that "recount" Congressman West trailed by 2,400 votes. In addition, there were numerous other disturbing irregularities reported at polls across St. Lucie County including the doors to polling places being locked when the polls closed, in direct violation of Florida law, thereby preventing the public from witnessing the procedures used to tabulate results. The St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections office clearly ignored proper rules and procedures, and the scene at the Supervisor's office last night could only be described as complete chaos. Given the hostility and demonstrated incompetence of the St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections, we believe it is critical that a full hand recount of the ballots take place in St. Lucie County. We will continue to fight to ensure every vote is counted properly and fairly, and accordingly will pursue all legal means necessary."

A Republican objecting to the vote-counting process in Florida? Gods, my sides hurt.

And under the category of Rivers in Egypt, this is so predictable I can't stand it. Saith Brian Brown:
Despite the fact that NOM was able to contribute a record amount to the campaigns (over $5.5 million), we were still heavily outspent, by a margin of at least four-to-one. We were fighting the entirety of the political establishment in most of the states, including sitting governors in three of the states who campaigned heavily for gay marriage. Our opponents and some in the media will attempt to portray the election results as a changing point in how Americans view gay marriage, but that is not the case. Americans remain strongly in favor of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The election results reflect the political and funding advantages our opponents enjoyed in these very liberal states.

Apparently Brown has only been following NOM's internal polls (meaning, polls taken among NOM's staff and board) for the past couple of years.

Hmm -- there seems to be an echo here. From Frank Schubert, who really doesn't hate gays (just ask him):
I firmly reject the spin surely to come that this result signals a fundamental shift in American opinion in support of gay marriage. It means that we very narrowly lost four difficult contests in four very deep blue states after being badly outspent. Despite the outcome, I am extremely grateful to all the donors, volunteers, staff, vendors and committee members who were part of our team. I am honored to have played a role in these campaigns to preserve marriage in America. It is an institution worth defending, and I look forward to continuing to play a role in this historic debate.

Translation: Hmm -- it worked last time.

And on the plus side, this is a great story:

Galicia Malone's contractions were five minutes apart when she arrived at her polling place in Cook County, Illinois, this morning, but that didn't stop her from studying the ballot carefully and making sure her vote counted.

"I was just trying to read and breathe, read and breathe," the 21-year-old mom-to-be told WBBM Newsradio. "That's what I kept telling myself, 'Read and breathe, read and breathe'."

Pregnant with her first child, Malone went into labor four days early. Her water had already broken when she arrived at the aptly named New Life Celebration Church near Chicago around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. But even hard labor wasn't enough to stop her from voting in her first presidential election.

"I never voted before so this made a major difference in my life," she told WBBM Newsradio. "And I wanted this to be a stepping-stone for my daughter."

She went into labor around 3 a.m., she said, but refused to go to the hospital until after the polls opened. As she left her polling place, she was holding her lower back and smiling widely. She drove herself to South Suburban Hospital.

"The pains are pretty steady, but my doctor says to think of it as getting ready to give life," she told My Fox Chicago. "This is my first baby, a girl, and I wanted to make a good impression. I want to have a story to tell her."

That'll be some story.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Yee Hah! Or, the Beatification of Nate Silver

Three out of four and counting. . . . From AP:

The results in Maine and Maryland broke a 32-state streak, dating to 1998, in which gay marriage had been rebuffed by every state that voted on it. They will become the seventh and eighth states to allow same-sex couples to marry.

In another gay-rights victory, Minnesota voters defeated a proposed constitutional amendment that would banned same-sex marriage in the state. Similar measures were approved in 30 other states, most recently in North Carolina in May.

Washington state also voted on a measure to legalize same-sex marriage, though results were not expected until Wednesday at the soonest.

From a friend in Washington, it looks good there, too, but it will be a day or two before all the ballots are counted -- Washington's a vote-by-mail state.

I was counting on a couple of victories, but a sweep is very nice to contemplate. Nice news to wake up to. I'm very happy.

Oh, and Obama won.

Now that I've caught my breath, some highights:

Allen West, the wingnut from Florida who said that 80 members of the Democratic caucus were card-carrying communists, lost to Patrick Murphy.

Linda Lingle, former governor of Hawai'i who invited the heads of gay rights organizations to a signing ceremony for Hawai'i's civil unions bill, and then vetoed it while they were standing there, lost her Senate bid to Mazie Hirono.

Elizabeth Warren won in Massachusetts, Tammy Baldwin won in Wisconsin.

Tammy Duckworth defeated dead-beat teabagger dad Joe Walsh in Illinois, by what looks to be a 10-point margin. I sense some buyer's remorse there.

Alan Grayson is back in Congress!

Joe "rape babies are a gift from God" Mourdock lost in Indiana to De.m Joe Donnelley.

Todd "legitimate rape" Akin is down in Missouri.

Independent Angus King, who is expected to caucus with the Democrats, won an easy victory in Maine.

And under the category "Disgusting People," Salon has a post on the "The 20 Biggest Sore Losers of Election Night". Notice how it's all the media's fault. Oh, and Ann Coulter managed to sneak in at #20 -- I'm sure she's gratified by the attention.

I may add to this later.

By the way -- seeing all the pictures of long lines at the polls, and hearing stories about voters being challenged, or showing up as registered on one list and not registered on another, etc., etc., etc., I'm reminded of how years of corruption can streamline voting, even after you've cleaned up your act: went to my polling place, they looked me up in their big binder, I signed the form, got my ballot, voted, scanned it, and left. Elapsed time, 15 minutes, most of which was spent retaining judges. (We have a LOT of judges in Cook County.)

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

As If We Needed Another Clue

From Josh Marshall, this report:

The Romney campaign seems to have leaked the fact that Mitt Romney asked Chris Christie to appear with him at a rally Saturday night in Morrisville, PA. But Christie declined. This is being portrayed in GOP circles as another example of Christie’s compromised allegiance to the GOP ticket.

Marshall quite rightly points out the "shitstorm" that Christie would have faced by leaving New Jersey in the middle of a crisis to go campaign for Romney.

It’s frankly such a crazy request that it shows just how deeply Romney’s been stung by Christie’s praise of President Obama.

I think it's more of an indication that Romney simple can't conceive of any reality that doesn't have him as its center.

(Christie's office is saying he was never invited.)

Monday, November 05, 2012

Is It Over Yet?

I always say I'm going to avoid election coverage and go to the zoo or something, but it's impossible -- I'd have to ask for my own habitat there and just move in. Election coverage is unavoidable, and it's always there -- campaigning starts as soon as someone takes the oath of office.

There's lot of places to point your finger -- politicians who spend their terms campaigning rather than governing, wannabes who are positioning themselves for the next election, a press that's more concerned with process than substance (make that "completely obsessed with process, and forget substance"), and a pundit class who have to have a horse race or no one will pay attention to them, and they have to have attention -- that's why they're pundits, instead of holding down a real job.

Josh Marshall has summarized the ennui that's set in, almost -- he's rather more enthusiastic about it than I can be at this point, but the conclusion's pretty much the same:

One element of this 72 hours or so of compressed and undifferentiated time is that the news cycles — to the extent they exist any more in this new media landscape, which is barely — vanish. It’s one long blur. The candidates and key surrogates move into one breakneck series of appearances that won’t end until tomorrow night. Three days of blur.

It's been months of blur for me, mostly because the choice has been clear since the Iowa caucuses: a sitting president, who has a program and a set of goals for putting the country back on its feet (and I think a lot more attention should be paid to the down-ticket races -- that's going to be the key factor), or any one of a group of interchangeable poseurs who couldn't run a post office in Nowhere, Arkansas.

I'm going to go out and vote Tuesday morning -- my polling place is on the corner -- and then meet a friend for coffee, maybe go to the zoo, and then come home and watch movies. It's like New Year's Eve: it's going to happen, there't not a damned thing I can do about it, so I'll just go with the flow.

Sunday, November 04, 2012


You know who else doesn't believe the "neck and neck" mantra? The Romney campaign. Just a couple of examples:

From CNN, this choice bit from Romney surrogate Sen. Rob Portman (R-Neverneverland):

Portman admitted that Hurricane Sandy "wasn't helpful" to the Romney campaign at a time when it had some momentum, but suggested televised images of frustrated storm victims in New York and New Jersey might have an impact on a small number of undecided voters this weekend.

"As usual in a major disaster like this, there are a lot of people who are concerned about the government not providing the assistance they deserve and need," Portman told CNN. "People are feeling like, 'Hey, where's FEMA? Where's the help that I was promised?'"

Portman might want to touch base with Chris Christie on that one.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R, of course), has decided that court orders and Ohio statutes governing treatment of provisional ballots don't matter:

The directive, issued Friday, lays out the requirements for submitting a provisional ballot. The directive includes a form which puts the burden on the voter to correctly record the form of ID provided to election officials. Husted also instructed election officials that if the form is not filled out correctly by a voter, the ballot should not be counted.

According to a lawsuit filed by voting rights advocates, this is “contrary to a court decision on provisional ballots a week ago and contrary to statements made by attorneys for Husted at an Oct. 24 court hearing.”

Indeed, it also appears directly contrary to Ohio law. From the lawsuit:

Ohio Rev. Code § 3505.181(B)(6) provides that, once a voter casting a provisional ballot proffers identification, “the appropriate local election official shall record the type of identification provided, the social security number information, the fact that the affirmation was executed, or the fact that the individual declined to execute such an affirmation and include that information with the transmission of the ballot . . . .”

The law “ensures that any questions regarding a voter’s identification are resolved on the spot or, consistent with due process, the voter is informed that he or she needs to provide additional information to the board of elections. This protects the integrity of the voting process, and provides a reasonable opportunity to resolve deficiencies.”

Anyone remember how many votes were not counted in Ohio in 2008?

The best, however, comes from the candidate himself:

Romney said that Obama “promised to be a post-partisan president, but he became the most partisan” and that his bitter relations with the House GOP could threaten the economy. As his chief example, he pointed to a crisis created entirely by his own party’s choice — Republican lawmakers’ ongoing threat to reject a debt ceiling increase. Economists warn that a failure to pass such a measure would have immediate and catastrophic consequences for the recovery.

“You know that if the President is re-elected, he will still be unable to work with the people in Congress,” Romney said. “He has ignored them, attacked them, blamed them. The debt ceiling will come up again, and shutdown and default will be threatened, chilling the economy.”

Romney's going to break the logjam? He might want to talk to Harry Reid about that:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has a response to Mitt Romney’s claim that he will “reach across the aisle” to work with Democrats in Congress, if he becomes president: Don’t bet on it.

“Mitt Romney’s fantasy that Senate Democrats will work with him to pass his 'severely conservative' agenda is laughable,” the Nevada Democrat said in a statement Friday morning. He went on to list a series of Republican-backed measures he said Democrats would never support.

It's going to be an interesting few days.

A Brand-New Idiot

I don't do Fox (unless I'm stranded in Florida visiting my family, and then I'd rather sit by the pool), so I wasn't aware of John Stossel, who apparently is a Paul Ryan wannabe who creams his pants at the idea of the "undeserving" starving to death. Vis Digby, this choice piece of crap:

Desperate New Jersey drivers wait in long lines to buy gasoline. One line was two miles long[.]

The media blame “a lack of electricity” and report that “Governor Christie has acted to boost supplies of gasoline…by directing Treasury officials to waive licensing requirements that affect merchants’ ability to buy fuel from out-of-state suppliers.”

That would help, but Christie would help more if he could suspend New Jersey’s foolish law forbidding price increases of more than 10% during an “emergency,” and if he’d apologize for bragging that the state will crack down on price “gouging!”

Complaining about greedy profiteers is probably politically smart. But if you're one of the people the law "protects," you won't fare as well.

What politicians call “gouging” is just the free market. When markets are allowed to work their magic, lines disappear. The high price is a big flag planted in the ground that says, “Hey, come over here and make money.”
(Emphasis added.)

Now, I don't know if Stossel is technically sub-normal in IQ -- after all, he's probably making nice money as a commentator for Fox, which can cut both ways -- but his emotional development and socialization are well below par, at least based on these comments.

And actually, when you take a step or two back and actually look at what he's saying, this little screed doesn't show the "free market" in a very flattering light, at least the Randian version, wherein our heroes prove their superiority by screwing everyone else. But even that vision presupposes a market operating under more or less normal conditions. Stossel's version is pure predation.

I like Digby's summation:

Seriously, this worship of markets is just as faith based as any other religion. And just like all the others it features an invisible Deity directing traffic from somewhere else. I'm not much of a believer in any of them but if I had to choose I'd pick one of the ones that doesn't require the human sacrifices.

I wonder if Stossel is particularly religious. If he is, he's going to have some 'splaining to do when he shuffles off this mortal coil.

Why Obama?

Here's an essay from one of the writers at Epinions on just what Obama has done. It strikes me as pretty clear-eyed and even-handed, and it's well worth a read. It's longish, and impossible to excerpt, so hunker down down a cup of coffee and go to it.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Election Coverage

John Cole has a very interesting post at Balloon Juice on the election coverage, with specific reference to the heat Nate Silver is taking for his forecasts. From NYT's new public editor, Margaret Sullivan:
“Anybody that thinks that this race is anything but a tossup right now is such an ideologue, they should be kept away from typewriters, computers, laptops and microphones for the next 10 days, because they’re jokes.”

The above words are those of Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program. He’s talking about Nate Silver, the statistics wizard whose FiveThirtyEight blog is licensed by The New York Times, and who writes for The Times frequently online as well as in print.

OK -- for starters, this is Joe Scarborough calling calling Nate Silver an ideologue. Joe Scarborough, former Republican congressman and current right-wing talk-show host.

Silver's a statistician who started off as a baseball analyst. Y'know, baseball, which relies on statistics and accurate forecasts. And he has an enviable record.

Cole goes on to quote from a piece at DeadSpin. This is the key item, to my way of thinking:

The political media hate precision: No one tunes in to a boring horse race. The volatility of day-to-day polling allows them to explain how the contest (in which, till recently, no actual votes had yet been cast) has been lost and won and lost again with each news cycle—an endless series of decisive revelations and foundational truths about the candidates or the public.

Basically, the punditry needs a horse-race, or no one will pay any attention to them. And so, since they are not constrained by any of the requirements of actual journalism, they keep calling it a horse-race.

It's really very simple -- it's not about the election, it's about them.

(An added fillip, from Cole:
Read the whole Deadspin piece, read the whole NY Times piece, and tell me- which one was more informative, and which one is just more of the same fail we get from the media every single fucking day. The difference in the deference to facts and analyses as opposed to feelings and village think is both breathtaking and heartbreaking.)

I really think it should be illegal to campaign for any public office more than a month before the election. As it is, I can hardly wait for next Wednesday.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Why I Stopped Reading Andrew Sullivan, #436

Stuff like this:

I'm blogging today from a midtown Starbucks, where every available electrical outlet is being used by displaced downtowners. The atmosphere around me is probably like rush-hour in Calcutta. I want to thank my colleagues, all of whom have electric power, for doing such an amazing job yesterday and today. And my love to New York City, which has instantly plunged me from the developed world into a pitch black and increasingly cold Halloween. I keep saying to myself: It Gets Better.

Well, it cannot get any worse, can it? Can it?

Sullivan has recently moved from the "developed world" (and I'm not sure if, to Sullivan, that's D.C. or P-Town) to the wilds of NYC. Poor dear is having a difficult adjustment.

And I just love that description of the undue hardship he's having to endure in the aftermath of Sandy. I can't remember the last time I read something that reeks of privilege like that, unless it was the last time Mitt Romney opened his mouth.

Snotty asshole.

Via Tom Levenson, who sums it up nicely:

Dude. Your new home town just experienced a four meter storm surge on top of a full-moon high tide driven by hurricane force winds sweeping through a low lying port. That doesn’t happen very often. When it does bad things follow…but it’s not personal. God—not yours, not anyone’s—doesn’t actually care about you enough to gin up a regional disaster just for the comedy gold to come from watching you kvetch about New York.

'Nuff said?