April 19, 2013

Steve Williams on #TW at #Masters: Tiger should have DQed

Adam Scott and Steve Williams. Getty Images via ESPN
Hah! What I've been waiting for, and said so since Sunday evening, when Adam Scott won the Masters with his dramatic playoff putt.

Scott's looper, who helped him with the dramatic putt, Steve Williams, was on Tiger Woods' bag for all but the first of his 14 majors, as golf fans know.

Well, he's now spoken about Woods' infamous, ultimately penalized, drop on the 15th hole on Friday.

Williams says he doesn't think Woods was trying to get a competitive advantage, but that he should have been disqualified, not just penalized two shots.
"From what I can gather, he took an illegal drop, signed a scorecard and left the course," Williams told the television station. "Under most circumstances that would result in disqualification. ... If the rules of golf are upheld, I believe he should have been disqualified."
Sounds pretty simple, doesn't it?

Williams also says he doesn't like viewers phoning in about Player X knocking a leaf off a tree or whatever.

I agree. And, so do officials, and the PGA, who ameliorated that, at least, with Rule 33-7. However, that rule didn't apply to this situation.

Don't agree w/NY Post politics, but love its headers!
Rather, Tiger tattled on himself after the round, in the presser. That's why I agree with Williams that Tiger wasn't trying to gain an advantage. Nonetheless, it was clearly illegal. And, yes, he should have been DQ-ed.

But, what if there were a second phone call? Not a Joe Fan. Say, either a former player, or another currently active one. I'm betting the former. Somebody with a certain amount of game himself. Somebody appalled that nothing was being done when Woods admitted he had broke a rule.

Maybe it was Jack Nicklaus! I'm 3/4 joking, but 1/4 serious.

Or ... calling from another golf network ... Johnny Miller! That one is only 50 percent joking.

In that original post, I said somebody should interview Jack. I wasn't joking then, and I'm even less joking now.

Let's have him weigh in on viewer call-ins in general, and this issue in particular. Or let's have Sir Nick Faldo expand on the comments he made on the issue.

Or, if it was Miller, damn, let's have him say something during NBC's next golf broadcast of a tournament that has Woods in it.

It's better than having Tiger-fellating writers like Dan Wetzel continue to give him a pass.

Per ESPN, the rule is pretty damned clear. Meanwhile, if not in a major, golfers have voluntarily withdrawn from other tournaments in similar situations, as John Feinstein notes.

Meanwhile, this all shows the value of a good caddie. Other caddies wouldn't have had the same degree of skill in helping Scott line up his putt. Williams might have helped Tiger avoid a bad drop on Friday. He still might not have won, but he would have been closer, at the start of Sunday's round.

April 18, 2013

#BostonMarathon, Eric Rudolph, Tim McVeigh, #AlexJones, #falseflag #wingnuts

The wingnut New York Post, with its claim a Saudi national is a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, appears to be ... likely wrong. Or at a minimum, very premature, with perhaps being a blind hog and an acorn later. Boston Police are telling multiple media sites, from the New York Times to news-blog Talking Points Memo, that that info didn't come from them.

President Obama has said we don't know at this time who's involved.

Of course, wingnuts will claim "not in custody" doesn't mean not a suspect. But Boston PD have so far swatted down even the "suspect" angle.

NBC's claim of a suspect appears to be nothing more than cribbing the NYPost via Twitter. Don't believe that is an independent source. (That's a "command," not a personal speculation.) It's got no attribution, no links to independent reporting. Of course, this is the network that's so in the toilet it's doing a second run of Saturday Night Live in prime time.

So, per speculation on the blast, there's only one "original source" that has any alleged info so far. And that highlights another problem with the Internet era -- 90 percent of people online think there's 100 separate sources confirming this.

Meanwhile, could be plenty of non-Mooslim angles as far as possible suspects.

An anti-abortion terrorist, like Eric Rudolph at the Atlanta Olympics?

Or a white supremacist like Tim McVeigh at Oklahoma City?

What if an anti-gay rights person, more specifically, an anti-gay marriage person, were wanting to borrow a page, and targeted Boston because of its alleged liberalism? (Don't forget Rudolph was anti-gay, too.)

Or a gun nut, knowing that people were running for charity for the Newtown massacre, had such an idea?

I'm not saying such types of people caused it, any more than a Saudi national. But, it's just as plausible from where I sit.

Hell, given his recent new levels of paranoia, Alex Jones is as likely a suspect.

After all, here's what he's Tweeted:
"Explosions at the Boston Marathon. Don't that the FBI has been behind virtually every domestic terror plot in the US, as NY Times reported."
If true, how would he know? 

Meanwhile, one hallmark of Islamic terrorists has been, in general, to immediately claim responsibility, albeit sometimes indirectly, for their actions. The fact that we've heard nothing says this is someone else.

So, even if a Saudi national at a Boston hospital but not in policy custody is the culprit, he likely acted alone.

Second, a bystander tackled him because "he looked suspicious." Did he look suspicious? Or did he look foreign? Or Mooslim? 

===

Updates, April 16: The Saudi student is officially not a subject; in fact, he's officially being called a witness.

More reason why would could say domestic wingnuts are reasonable suspects
April 19, 1985 — federal agents arrested the leaders of the Covenant, Sword, and the Arm of the Lord, an extremist group in Arkansas. April 19, 1993 — federal agents chose to lay siege to the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. April 19, 1995 — Timothy McVeigh bombed the Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City. All three of these events dealt with gun rights and federal agencies confronting groups with extreme beliefs on the issue. It is Tax Day and Patriot Day, a celebration of the first shots fired in the Revolutionary War. Controversial gun legislation is currently being debated in Congress. 
Again, no guarantee of anything, but anybody who wants to support the idea of a Mooslim being tackled ... well because he looked like a Mooslim running in fear ... needs to either admit how biased they are, or, if they want to separate themselves a few degrees from total irrationality, admit that other possibilities do exist.


The Pakistani Taliban have denied responsibility, too. This gets back to what I said on my day-of-event thoughts, that usually Muslim terrorist groups claim responsibility right away. That's especially important because it readily admitted responsibility, at the time, for a botched 2010 attempt to bomb Times Square, whether it was actually responsible or not. 

And, an Indiana man's 20-year sentence for burning a mosque reminds us that these types of homegrown terrorists are out there. 

Further reminder of that is here in this CNN piece. Only one left-wing/environmentalist terrorist of note in the last decade. The rest have all been either radical Islamists or else radical domestic rightist wingnuts. 
While the perpetrator or perpetrators of the Boston bombing are as yet unknown, an analysis of the 77 people based in the United States who have assembled bomb-making materials or tried to carry out a bombing for political purposes since 9/11 shows they have overwhelmingly been motivated either by al Qaeda-like ideas or right-wing extremist ideology.
So, there you go.

And, that's just bombs. Don't forget Andrew Joseph Stack, who in 2010 flew his airplane into the IRS building in Austin, Texas, as a, well, as a kamikaze pilot.

The Saudi student being a witness, not a suspect, and gloating aside, no Islamist group stepping up to claim responsibility, the look needs to turn inward and rightward. 

April 17: Nothing new to report so far, other than noting that generally irresponsible people, mixed with wingnuts, are claiming a teen/young adult in a backpack is now a suspect. Once again, not true says the FBI. And, even the pressure cooker design of the explosives has been touted by domestic as well as Islamicist terrorists.

Louie Gohmert has once again claimed the crown of king of all Texas nutbars over the explosions. 

And CNN, which is not (yet?) the NY Post, is claiming an arrest has been made. 

And, let's end this day by saying that it was actually the Associated Press, of no more "illegal immigrant" fame that apparently first started spreading this false story. Even though I have defended legitimate use of social media by the traditional mainstream media, one has to say that it's becoming more and more irresponsible about it all the time in tragedies. Even putatively reputable sources like CNN and AP are blackening their own eyes, and will probably continue to do so. 

But we're all at fault for this in some ways.

To the degree we're disaster porn junkies, and we expect the MSM to deliver an ever-quicker fix, we're at fault. That's doubly true the more and more we expect to get our online news for free.

The MSM is at fault for not fixing broken financial models much earlier. The AP, for underpricing itself to news aggregators, is also at fault.

The "lean hypercapitalism" of modern big biz America in general is also at fault.

These are all mixed up in some sort of vicious circle that may not die down for years, if at all, until the current media system is a hollow shell, one ever more dependent on a mix of private and government PR to fill news holes with little critical editing or actual reporting. 

April 18: Not much new here. Well, other than the NY Post doubling down on anti-Mooslim racism, and similar stupidity. (And Rupert Murdoch from lying about it.) That's while the apparently actual suspect looks nothing like all the people wingnuts have been favoring. Indeed, he looks very Caucasian.

And, a Saudi facing deportation is NOT the one who was interviewed as a witness at the hospital.

But, the doorknobs are out in full force on Kenneth Clark's arrest for mailing the ricin letters.

Now the wingnuts are asking if the mainstream media is going to "hide" the fact that an obviously mentally ill man who mailed the ricin letters is a Democrat. Dear old college friends - I've got you hidden, by and large, because I'm not who I was then, and a lot of you have moved further rightward. It pains me not to unfriend you, if I need to.

April 19: As for the real suspects, let's not we the people jump to too many conclusions yet, either. Contra Boston's police commissioner, if by "came here," he meant they emigrated to the U.S., I doubt either of the brothers came here to commit terrorist acts a decade ago, when the younger was just 9 years old. Hardly "sleeper cell" material.

Beyond that, I used the word "anomie" about people like this. They become disillusioned, detached, and feel separate. Cults and sects of all sorts (Scientology, anybody) prey on people like this. Many of said sects, it's true, aren't violent. But they all operate on similar principles Scott Atran wrote a book in part about reaching out to people like this, before they become radicalized Muslims.

That said, in Chechnya, how much of the terrorism is Islamism, and how much of that is the Islamic equivalent of caesaropapism, Islam being used in the service of nationalist separatism? 

 And, related to that, isn't the word "terrorism" often politicized? Tea Partiers go ape shit when Boston Tea Party participants are described as being, in part, terrorists, even though it fits, at least from the British Crown's point of view.

At the same time, as Daily Kos reminds us, arguably, a neolib like Dear Leader could have gone nutbar with drones had he had a hankering. 

Boston blasts show depths of #wingnut #racism

There's no other way to put it, starting from when the wingnut New York Post made its claim a Saudi national was a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, something that was hugely wrong.

Two days later then, other wingnuts claimed said Saudi was facing deportation. But, a Saudi facing deportation is NOT the one who was interviewed as a witness at the hospital (who never was a "suspect"). In this case, the wingnuttery extended to at least one member of Congress.

That all didn't stop the New York Post from doubling down on anti-Mooslim racism with more non-suspects. (And Rupert Murdoch from lying about it.)

However, actual still photos and the video immediately below show one of the two actual potential suspects is pretty damned Caucasian looking.



Meanwhile, could be plenty of non-Mooslim angles as far as possible suspects.

An anti-abortion terrorist, like Eric Rudolph at the Atlanta Olympics?

Or a white supremacist like Tim McVeigh at Oklahoma City?

Or a lone nut like the Unabomber.

But, this isn't all about organized wingnuts. On the original non-suspect, a bystander tackled him because "he looked suspicious." Did he look suspicious? Or did he look foreign? Or Mooslim? 

And, sometimes, the wingnuttery is just focused on the Democratic party. But, did you know that Barack Obama, the Democratic president of the United States, is an African-American?

So, we also get stuff like this.

The doorknobs are out in full force on Kenneth Curtis's arrest for mailing the ricin letters.

Now some  wingnuts are asking if the mainstream media is going to "hide" the fact that an obviously mentally ill man who mailed the ricin letters is a Democrat. (So far, no pix of him in blackface.)

Yes, because one's political affiliation causes paranoid schizophrenia. If true, then Chris Mooney would have schizophrenia to add to a second book on Republican brains.

This is one issue where Obama himself should be singing Kumbaya.

But not all Democrats.

Only half-joking — why doesn't somebody liquor up JoePa Biden and get him to deliver a stemwinder about this? It's what's needed. 

And, now we know who the real suspects are.

As for the real suspects, let's not we the people jump to too many conclusions yet, either. Contra Boston's police commissioner, if by "came here," he meant they emigrated to the U.S., I doubt either of the brothers came here to commit terrorist acts a decade ago, when the younger was just 9 years old. Hardly "sleeper cell" material. Theoretically, big city police departments of modern America are a step or two advanced beyond "Untouchables" days, but sometimes, I still wonder.

Beyond that, I have used the word "anomie" about people like this. They become disillusioned, detached, and feel separate. Cults and sects of all sorts (Scientology, anybody) prey on people like this. Many of said sects, it's true, aren't violent. But they all operate on similar principles Scott Atran wrote a book in part about reaching out to people like this, before they become radicalized Muslims.

That said, in Chechnya, how much of the terrorism is Islamism, and how much of that is the Islamic equivalent of caesaropapism, Islam being used in the service of nationalist separatism? 

 And, related to that, isn't the word "terrorism" often politicized? Tea Partiers go ape shit when Boston Tea Party participants are described as being, in part, terrorists, even though it fits, at least from the British Crown's point of view.

At the same time, as Daily Kos reminds us, arguably, a neolib like Dear Leader could have gone nutbar with drones had he had a hankering. And claimed it was all legal.

How fragile is man ...

I had started this poem about two weeks ago, when Shekespeare's one Hamlet soliloquy had a mash-up in my mind with Psalm 8. I finished it up today, motivated by some existential philosophy and comparative religions reading.

HOW FRAGILE IS MAN



How fragile is man in constitution
Like a creature without divine design
Evolved through naturalistic process
Without omnipotentcy’s strictures.

Noble in reason in his own mind’s eye
As maker of gods in his own image
In action how like them, and they like him.
Petty, petulant and vindictive.

Made but little higher than chimpanzees
Crowned not at all by divine glory
Not shaped from clay, but proteins and sugars
A product of eons of slow shaping.

Glory enough is this, if one allows
Taking awe at rude shaping by nature.
Even if a Humean abortion
This life, nonetheless, is still a wonder

Cosmic quantum nothingness, after all
While it might guarantee something starting
Gave continuation no surety
The abortion, if you will, could have died.

Marvel existentially, then, will you
At this Daoist moment in time, so brief;
It, you, and I, may not have more breath.s

April 17, 2013

I'm tired of defending the media

And I'm a journalist. (For now. Still trying to not be one. If I can find something and someone that will put me in a better place in the modern American world.)

All the clusterfucks of misidentification and misinformation over the Boston Marathon explosions -- all preventable, even in today's staff-chopped, time-pressed journalism -- have just become too much.

First, in part for clearly conservative political reasons, the New York Post has us believe that a Mooslim suspect has been arrested, on Tuesday.

That's clearly shot down.

Then, out of sheer cluelessness, CNN (though it seems like AP abetted it, at least) claims on Wednesday that an arrest, or maybe more than one, has been made.

Meanwhile, in a social media Panopticon, everybody retweets this information without lifting one finger to try to independently verify it.

And even worse, nobody apologizes after the latest round of mistakes are clearly shown to be mistakes.

Even though I have defended legitimate use of social media by the traditional mainstream media, one has to say that it's becoming more and more irresponsible about it all the time in tragedies. Even putatively reputable sources like CNN and AP are blackening their own eyes, and will probably continue to do so. 

But we're all at fault for this in some ways.

To the degree we're disaster porn junkies, and we expect the MSM to deliver an ever-quicker fix, we're at fault. That's doubly true the more and more we expect to get our online news for free.

The MSM is at fault for not fixing broken financial models much earlier. The AP, for underpricing itself to news aggregators, is also at fault.

The "lean hypercapitalism" of modern big biz America in general is also at fault.

These are all mixed up in some sort of vicious circle that may not die down for years, if at all, until the current media system is a hollow shell, one ever more dependent on a mix of private and government PR to fill news holes with little critical editing or actual reporting. 

I mentioned earlier that "Panopticon."

Probably 90 percent of Americans who say TV is their primary news source are clueless that, especially at the local level, TV gets most its stories direct from the newspaper headlines.

Probably 90 percent of those who claim the Net as their primary news source are either ignorant of most of its news being clipped from papers, newspaper websites and similar -- or else semi-conspiratorial attacks on the mainstream media, but still based on it in a Tar Baby sort of way.

So, maybe more newspapers will fold in the future.

Paywalls are good, in and of themselves. But, they're just a one-time stanching of newspapers' financial bleeding. What if more and more hardcopy ad dollars continue to become digital dimes? What if, as appears to continue to be the case, more and more of those digital dimes continue to be "clipped"? Internet rates for CPM on ads are still declining, if only at a lesser rate. And, what if more and more of those clipped digital dimes get replaced by mobile nickels?

Then some more papers fold. And the above scenario of government and private PR fluff fills out more of the pages of those that are left. And, even more, fills out TV news and websites.

Look at the recently touted Orange County Register. The reality is that it recently made a bunch of PR agreements with various area universities. And, that's probably just the starting point for them. Sure, you can expand your newshole. If a lot of it is PR editing.

Like Franklin's "republic if you can keep it," if the American public can't or won't keep a vital Fourth Estate, then that's that. 

Because, if traditional newspapers are the first domino in this chain, traditional newspaper ownership, in the face of the first stirrings of the Internet, has largely shot itself in the foot, over and over, during the past 15 years, as I documented above.

Meanwhile, traditional TV is next. Its "TV model" of revenue plays no better on the Web than newspapers' idea that it would 15 years ago. Ad-blocking keeps ads away, while plunging Net ad rates hit TV websites no less than newspaper ones. And, TV stations run from the fear of getting beat, more and more, fearing that newspaper websites now let the electronic version of print media do that.

And, TV stations appear to not even have heard about  the discussion of paywalls. Does anybody who read this know of a paywalled TV website? 

Ten years from now, TV station owners will probably be looking about as clueless and fearful as newspaper owners do today.

And, at some point, that means the news aggregators, and the news swipers like Huff Post, simply won't have so much material to work with.

And, let's be honest, like Matt Ingram (wow, I actually like something he wrote) calls on newspapers to be honest. Newspapers have always fudged, inflated, or ginned up their circulation numbers. Counting an online subscriber who also has a hardcopy as two different subscribers (or three if they're also on mobile) only makes it worse. And, per Matt, no, it's not justified by past practices.  This all means that many of them are dying an even more rapid death than might be predicted.

That said, advertisers have known this score for some time. It's not like they have a lot of room for complaint.

What about hyperlocal?

It's a fad at worst; at best, it's gauze rather than a full Band-Aid. Readers of the hardcopy versions of smaller daily papers don't like the minimal AP newshole they are given today, with smaller page sizes and fewer pages. 

And, those smaller dailies, and weeklies? Sure, old white readers are the mainstays of the newspaper world. But, they're becoming an ever-smaller portion of the national mix.

Does this mean Advance is right to immediately put NOLA and other papers on three-day-a-week operation? No, not even if the bottom line is the bottom line. They were making profits now.

Rather, to me, it seems like the Newhouse family is admitting to cluelessness to the level of throwing in the towel and making a last roll of the dice. But their papers are still profitable, so there was no need to do this right now. And, such an abrupt transition risks being offputting, or, as in the case of New Orleans, "inviting" competition to come poach on your turf.

Gun control dead: whose fault? Obama and Reid, not just GOP

Sure, sure, sure, it's easy to fault the Senate GOP for the key element in planned new gun control legislation being as dead as a doorknob by failing cloture.

But that's more than too easy by half.

The real villians are, as should surprise no truly smart-minded person, Barack Obama with his wingman on this one, Harry Reid.

Obama? As I noted about his big post-Newtown speech, could have been addressing half this issue over four years. You don't need an ATF director (even if he didn't try to get one appointed for four years) to step up arrests and prosecutions on gun buys that are already illegal (even if the Republicans are blocking your judicial appointments).

Beyond that, with a massive White House social media operation, a massive White House website with its petition-generating software and more, Obama's vaunted Organizing for America (itself a neoliberal sellout) and its alleged skill in microtargeting during the 2012 election, and you can't bust gun nuts in the chops on Facebook, Twitter, etc.? You can't get OFA to help with astroturfing letters to the editor to more conservative papers? And, you can't get Dear Leader to better target his in-person presence outside of the Rose Garden?

Pathetic. Did the Newtown survivors not have enough money for OFA?

Beyond that, if Joe Biden supposedly deals with the GOP so well, why wasn't he being used more on this issue?

Harry Reid? As I've said repeatedly, in a crude pun, Harry Reid has no Harry Balls. His sellout on filibuster reform, which I blogged about here, is typical. All that "cots and pillows" talk? That's for mainstream Democrats lured to sleep.

But yet, while rightfully focusing their anger on Republicans in general and the Senate GOP in particular, mainstream Democrats will likely stop there.

And, in so doing, given Batman and Robin another pass.

And, I've said this one before, too.

Enabling such behavior is like a spouse/lover/family member "enabling" the behavior of an alcoholic or addict. Period.

And, for a man who won two presidential elections, he can't play 3-dimensional political chess, let alone the 11-dimensional kind. Or else, if four years of reports of "diffidence" are correct, doesn't want to.

Fine. Resign. Let JoePa Biden be the Prez. He might be better.


#Stlcards fans: Taveras for Profar?

Grantland's Jonah Keri writes a very intriguing column about the possibility of a mutually beneficial trade between the Cards and Texas Rangers, namely, Oscar Taveras for for Jurickson Profar.

I mean, even if you say that the Cards won't resign Carlos Beltran next year, they're still loaded. And, if Matt Adams keeps it up, Allen Craig is moving from 1B back to the outfield.

Keri mentions that Jon Jay could be the Cards' trade offering, instead of Taveras, if they're that wedded to him. (Craig, because of his recent contract extension, wouldn't be a likely trade move.)

And, no, even if Profar is a prospect, I'd really prefer him that relying on the long-term prospects of Pete Kozma. That's pegging Rafael Furcal as a diminished asset after his return from Tommy John surgery.

Now, that said, Keri notes this is only a fantasy trade so far. And that such prospect-for-prospect trades are very rare.

Profar isn't likely to get a call-up of significance this year. But, if Beltran hits another round of nagging injuries, Taveras could. We can then see what he can do in the Stew. And, by that time, have more info on how real, or not, Kozma is.

Me? Right now, based on positional scarcity at shortstop, I'd make this trade in a heartbeat if I'm John Mozeliak.

#GohmertPyle strikes again, on #BostonMarathon

Echoing Tricky Ricky Perry on border crossing stupidity, Rep. Louie Gohmert, aka Gohmert Pyle, has once again shoved aside Gov. Helmethair and Ted Cruz to claim the title of top elected wingnut in Texas.

Opposing the new immigration reform bill, he says the Boston Marathon explosions show that radial Mooslim jihadists will try to masquerade as Hispanics to cross the border and impurify our precious bodily fluids or similar onsense.

That other nonsense includes that al Qaeda is camping out on the other side of Big Bend and elsewhere. No, really:
“We know Al Qaeda has camps on the Mexican border,” he said. “We have people that are trained to act Hispanic when they are radical Islamists.”
Yep, he's Texas' top wingnut.

And, per Joe Sirota, a milder version of this talking point could become GOP doctrine on opposing the immigration bill.

And, per his previous wingnut stupidity, and that of his fellow travelers, when is he going to claim that Obamacare is a Mooslim plot? Or that Obamacare has created new terrorists?

April 16, 2013

Is gene patenting illegal?

I'm not asking if it should be illegal, though that's a fairly connected question. I'm not asking, either, per today's Supreme Court hearing, if it's unconstitutional, or if it should be.

I'm asking if, at least in certain circumstances, it is currently illegal.

What makes me say that?

In a word, HIPAA. Specifically, the privacy rule part of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Given the "immortal cells" of Henrietta Lacks and many other hypercapitalism-driven invasions of our genetic privacy, I'd argue that the default position behind the idea of gene patenting violates HIPAA, and that, therefore, some sort of "prior restraint" applies.

You'll never get today's Supreme Court, and probably not any lesser-level federal court, to follow such a line of reasoning.

Too bad. I think it's very strong.

Per the HHS summary of who is covered, I think it applies.

Secularists, American tragedies, civil religion

Once again, just about everybody from the President on down the political food chain, through sports and political journalists, and everywhere else, is saying that Boston Marathon explosions require our "thoughts and prayers" or similar.

Now, I'm no Gnu Atheist. I have no desire to mock people who sincerely and deeply think this.

But, I do want to challenge them, and even more challenge those who mindlessly repeat phrases like this as some sort of mantra.

It requires neither (I'm not just going after prayer.)

It certainly, for an America that has a First Amendment, actually requires elected officials to be more mindful of we the non-religious.

That's we the non-religious who likely were among the wounded in the attack. That's we the non-religious Pat Tillman, killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan, and whose family was agog not just at the Pentagon cover-up of that, but the way in which "civil religion" made him a hero invoked with "god and country," and not just "country," in mind.

So, this moment does not "require" prayer. But, given that President Obama has actually expanded on Bush's faith-based initiative program, it's no surprise for him to invoke this.

As for "thoughts"? Thoughts about what? Buddhist mindful meditation? This has to be about the tritest thing onc could say.

The combined phrase isn't full-blown narcissism, but it's a mix of narcissism and perceived helplessness. Top journalists think they're supposed to have some sort of power to "steer a narrative," so they try, even when they should shut up.

That said, another note on journalists.

I don't think it's wrong for newspapers to post to Facebook or Tweet, "Do any of our readers have experience with running in Boston" or similar? It's a lot easier than going to the circulation department and saying, "Hey, can you give me phone numbers of subscribers to dial?" It's only lazy when there's no follow-up.

But, if someone responds, leaves contact information, and says he or she would like to talk further, then it's very much an appropriate tool.

That said, contra a shallow-thinking Scientific American blogger (and indirectly, his blog editor./PR promoter Bora Zivkovic), social media proved little of its value during the explosions' aftermath. For every good thing the post touts, I can point to inanity by Sarah Gellar, Alex Jones and worse.

April 15, 2013

Obama plays 12-dimensional #SocialSecurity chess with 11-dimension mind, gets burned

Eleven-dimensional chess is the inside-the-Beltway idea of a master politician thinking not just one move ahead, but at least one dimension ahead, of his foes.

Obamiacs both inside and outside the Beltway, in things like the Bush Obama tax cuts, the sequester, and now budget deals, have consistently said that we mere true liberal mortals couldn't see ahead the end result of Obama's 11-dimensional moves.

Well, it seems like the GOP is handing him his hat in the 12th dimension on chained CPI for Social Security, older eligibility age for Medicare, and more.

And, per the second page of the story, the right-wing talking machine is already spreading lies:
“Politically, this is not a winner. Our brand is the party that brought you Social Security,” said Rep. Rush D. Holt (D-N.J.), adding that his mother said she had heard that Obama was eliminating benefits for people older than 80. “We’ve now opened up the door for rumors about how Social Security will be reduced or eliminated. We don’t need that.”
Wow.

Followed by this:
The Club for Growth, another group that promotes conservative economic policies, threatened to find a primary opponent for Walden. President Chris Chocola noted that in 2005 “it was Republicans who said no” to President George W. Bush’s more ambitious plan to overhaul Social Security by adding private accounts.
Nooo, it was we the progressive people who helped stop it.

So, these are the folks whom Obama thought he could sweet talk with his mellifluous voice singing Kumbaya. (April 30: Democratic House members eying midterm elections are trying to distance themselves from that voice.)

Meanwhile, the "most transparent administration in history" signs into law the bill I saw last week, where Congress exempts its own members and staffers from online financial disclosures.

Obamiacs must have perpetual flu viruses; they can't wake up and smell coffee.

Once again, Obama, and Obamiacs, demonstrate the soft bigotry of low expectations.

I am more and more at the point where I fully think Obama's a worse president than Jimmy Carter.

But, just at times I wonder whether W. was that stupid, or rather, he was that devious, I wonder whether Dear Leader is that politically naive, or its more he's that, that, that neoliberal, that, re the Obamiacs, he's in Dimension 13, looking for even more austerity.

Texans should prepare for another franchise tax screwing

It seems like the Texas GOP, and Tricky Ricky Perry in particular, really like to apply their warm but unfriendly yellow trickle-down economics to the state's franchise tax.

Per a business email:
Gov. Rick Perry today announced a four-point plan to provide nearly $1.6 billion in tax relief to all Texas businesses currently subject to the state’s franchise tax. The governor was joined by lawmakers, the Texas Association of Business (TAB), National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute for the announcement.

“By cutting taxes for Texas businesses, we are helping job creators in our communities and promoting economic growth across the state,” Gov. Perry said. “Businesses that keep more of their money can pass savings on to consumers, hire more workers, offer greater employee benefits or reinvest it into their companies and grow their business – all of which are good for Texans and our growing economy.”

Gov. Perry’s plan would reduce business taxes by:
•Reducing the franchise tax rates by 5%
•Providing a $1 million deduction for businesses with revenue up to $20 million
•Lowering the rate for EZ Form filers
•Giving companies relocating to Texas from out of state a one-time deduction of moving expenses in the first year they pay the franchise tax

Gov. Perry’s business tax relief plan would also have the effect of making permanent the current small business tax exemption. That exemption currently impacts 29,000 businesses and is set to expire in 2014.
This means, of course, that:
1. Schools will again be told to "lump it" on any chance of getting back the $5 billion cut two years ago.
2. There's going to be yet another school finance lawsuit in the works eventually, or, if this passes, it may become evidentiary in the appeal of the current suit, perhaps?

And, of course, this is part of Tricky Ricky's new "Chicago ads," especially that last bullet point, but somewhat No. 2. The ones promising, you know, well-trained employees. No mention of whether or not that includes the tops-in-the-nation percentage of people on Medicaid.

Fortunately, of course, Perry can't unilaterally cut taxes. This all has to be approved by the Lege. And, I'm sure the Legislative Budget Board's going to be asked to give some honest input.