October 17, 2014
Quote of the Day
When that 3 a.m. phone call comes in, who's going to pick up?
“They said I’m not supposed to call that number and to call the C.D.C. I call the C.D.C., and I can’t get someone on the phone,” Mr. Watters said. “When I do get someone on the phone, I get disconnected.”
We couldn't make this stuff up if we tried.
October 15, 2014
Your Moment of Zen for Today
"Viral Turnip" sounds like a great name for a rock band.
He's a Lover, Not a Fighter
Ladies and Cruel, Patriarchal Hegemonists, we bring you Dr. Cornell West:
(KMOV.com) – Activist Dr. Cornel West said it was important for him to get arrested during demonstrations in Ferguson to “show how deep the love is.”
Kinda says it all, doesn't it?
"Ordinary Editing" Circular Transparency Alert
Glenn Kessler, the WaPo Fact Checker, examines the White House claim that changes to a draft Inspector General report on Secret Service misconduct in Cartagena were "part of the ordinary process of editing the report.’”:
The White House pushed back hard against a report in The Washington Post that, during the probe of the Secret Service’s 2012 prostitution scandal in Colombia, senior White House aides did not thoroughly investigate information suggesting that a prostitute was an overnight guest in the hotel room of a presidential advance-team member.
One key element of the article concerned a separate probe by the Homeland Security Department’s Inspector General’s office, which had uncovered additional evidence from records and eyewitnesses who had accompanied the team member in Colombia. The article reported that David Neiland, the IG’s lead investigator, “later told Senate staffers that he felt pressure from his superiors in the office of Charles K. Edwards, who was then the acting inspector general, to withhold evidence — and that, in the heat of an election year, decisions were being made with political considerations in mind.”
The White House told reporters that a bipartisan Senate report had found that the redactions were part of the normal editing process. This statement was, to say the least, misleading. In Kessler's words:
...this was not actually a finding but merely a claim made by, among others, the very person whose credibility is questioned throughout the report.
The person whose credibility was being questioned was Charles K. Edwards, who was accused of directing the redactions in the first place and who (conveniently) resigned before further hearings into his alleged misconduct could be held:
Surpise, surprise, surprise. Vonderrit Myers, the St. Louis man recently shot by an off duty police officer, had gunshot residue on his shooting hand and the weapon found at the scene (an uncommon model that just happens to match the one Myers was holding 2 days before the shooting in photos on social media) had been fired several times:
Ballistic evidence shows Myers fired three shots before his gun jammed, Dotson said. Police said they recovered the gun, which was reported stolen on Sept. 26.
Roorda said the gun in the photo was an exact match for the gun found on Myers after his death.
"This is a distinct-looking gun, not one seen on the streets very often," he said.
Roorda called political leaders who blamed the police for Myers' death "irresponsible and despicable."
"The allegation that the young man had nothing but a sandwich was a silly allegation proven quickly to be untrue," he said.
The officer fired off 17 rounds. Preliminary autopsy results show Myers was struck six or seven times and died from a wound to the head, according to medical examiner Dr. Michael Graham.
Online court documents show that Myers was free on bond when he was killed. He had been charged with the unlawful use of a weapon, a felony, and misdemeanor resisting arrest in June.
The officer's attorney, Brian Millikan, said the shooting was "a traumatic event in his life." He said the officer is undergoing counseling.
Obviously a frame-up:
St. Louis Police Officer’s Association Business Manager Jeff Roorda said, “With regards to the firearm that`s depicted on social media, there would have to have been an incredible conspiracy for the officer to pull off, as it`s been alleged, throwing down or planting a gun that just happened to match the gun portrayed on social media.”
Roorda also announced that suspect Myers was certified as an adult when he was 16, after being arrested for shooting someone in the leg. Myers was not convicted.
If only someone would host a beer summit.
The Predictable Result of Ferguson Hype
I’m a cop. A few weeks ago, two of my beat partners and I were called to an apartment in a fairly nice complex to help a mother and father with their 16-year-old son.
The son had no criminal history, and by all accounts was a decent kid. But he was having some problems at home — breaking things and making threats with a knife — and the parents needed our help.
When we finally located the son, who is of mixed ethnicity (Dad is white, Mom is Hispanic), he instantly began cussing and yelling at us. He took a fighting stance and said he was not going to do anything we told him.
Luckily, we were able to calm him and get him into handcuffs without any blows being thrown.
We asked why he was so hostile toward us. His response? Ferguson. The cops couldn’t be trusted because of what happened in Ferguson, Mo. He told us that he wanted to kill all white cops because of what “they” had done to Michael Brown.
...Since the shooting of Mike Brown, and the month-plus-long circus that followed, the number of law enforcement officers being shot in the line of duty has skyrocketed, but the average citizen has no idea this is happening.
...Did you know that in just three days last week, six cops were shot in the line of duty, one of whom was killed?
Oct. 7, Chicago: One officer, a captain, is shot in the face and chest. Other officers at the scene take fire and are pinned down by the suspect.
Oct. 8, North Las Vegas: An officer is shot during a gunfight with a suspect.
Oct. 8, Phoenix: An officer on a traffic stop is shot in the face. The suspects flee; the officer calls for help. Two other officers arrive and start rendering aid, only to come under fire from the suspects who circled back and attacked the responding officers.
Oct. 8, Oklahoma City: Two officers are shot by a suspect during the same event.
Oct. 9, Midland County, Texas: Sgt. Mike Naylor is shot and killed while responding to a report of a sexual assault.
Where are those stories in the national news?
What does it say about the media who make a victim out of a criminal, and ignore the good guys being injured and killed trying to keep society safe?
People ask me if things are different for cops since Ferguson.
Yes, yes they are.
October 14, 2014
Things the NIH *Did* Have Enough Money For
They say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. If so, NIH director Dr. Francis Collins must really admire Barack "The Buck Stops There" Obama, whose legendary ability to blame everyone but himself for his administration's incompetence (if only there were an elected official whose job it was to run the Executive Branch!) is rapidly gaining Guinness Book of World Records stature. Dr. Collins recently blamed complained his agency's failure to produce an Ebola vaccine on a lack of funding.
“NIH has been working on Ebola vaccines since 2001. It’s not like we suddenly woke up and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, we should have something ready here,’” Collins told The Huffington Post on Friday. “Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready.” … “We would have been a year or two ahead of where we are, which would have made all the difference,” he said.
Oddly, despite lacking funds to develop a vaccine for a deadly disease with death rates between 25% and 90%, the NIH had plenty of money for far more urgent tasks like these:
$2.4 million for a new condom whose inventor is now being investigated for fraud
$939,000 study: Do male fruit flies prefer younger females?
$257,000 to create a website for first lady Michelle Obama's White House garden
$592,000 study: chimpanzees with the best poop-flinging skills are also the best communicators
$117,000 study: most chimps are right-handed (who knew?)
$325,525 study: wives who remain calm during marital spats are happier.
$666,000 study: why do people watch re-runs on TV?
$702,000 study on impact of TV's and gas generators.......in Vietnam
$500,000 in federal $$ on canine beauty products
$90 Million in taxpayer funded grants to China
Betsy Newmark goes on to note:
...NIH funding has doubled since 2000 and the funding for the US National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases went from $1.8 billion in 2000 to $4.3 billion in 2004.
Kinda makes one nostalgic for the Evil Bu$Hitler years, doesn't it? But wait - there's more where that came from!
... cuts that have happened over the past few years are due to sequestration. Remember that idea originated in the White House and it was passed by both the GOP House and Democratic Senate.
Y'all remember the sequester, don't you? The one that Obama promised (Holy Insurance Cancellation, Batman!) would not happen?
Last fall during the third Presidential debate, President Obama laid this stunner on a waiting nation:“First of all, the sequester is not something that I've proposed. It is something that Congress has proposed. It will not happen."
Something Congress proposed? Not according to Bob Woodward:
No one disputes the fact that no one wanted sequestration, or that ultimately a bipartisan vote in Congress led to passage of the Budget Control Act. But the president categorically said that sequestration was “something that Congress has proposed.”
Woodward’s detailed account of meetings during the crisis, clearly based on interviews with key participants and contemporaneous notes, make it clear that sequestration was a proposal advanced and promoted by the White House.
If only there were a profession whose job it was to protect the President. And no, we're not talking about the Secret Service:
... it is strange to see prominent journalists, notably Dana Milbank of The Washington Post, react to ostensibly forthright critiques of Obama's policies by expressing shock at the disloyalty of former administration officials, as if the highest loyalty they owe is to the president rather than their countrymen or the truth. Perhaps it is to be expected that the ruling elite would extol a self-serving variation on omertà. To see members of the press police that code is confounding. The matter at hand is the wisdom of U.S. policy in both Iraq and Syria. Milbank's curious focus: "Leon Panetta, other former Obama subordinates show stunning disloyalty." He goes on to write that "the lack of message discipline is puzzling, because Obama rewards and promotes loyalists. But he’s a cerebral leader, and he may lack the personal attachments that make aides want to charge the hill for him."
Why would a journalist lament a dearth of "message discipline," a euphemism for willful lying? And ponder the "charge the hill" metaphor. It implies an enemy shooting at the man charging up. In this case, the "enemy" would seem to be those who criticize Obama's foreign policy, whether other politicians or journalists.
More message discipline - that's the ticket.
October 13, 2014
The Kids Are All Right
A state university intramural soccer program is under fire by students for it's "sexist" policy of awarding two points when a female scores a goal and just one point if a male scores.
Intramural faculty at Appalachian State University (ASU) said the co-ed league implemented the policy when the program was just getting started in an effort to encourage female participants to join.
Kate Rhudy, a sophomore music therapy student, says the system is outdated and is no longer applicable with the league’s high volume of participants.
“These rules haven’t been evaluated in 20 years and there might have been a reason to have them in the past, but they’re not relevant today,” Rhudy said. “It results in the development of a different game of soccer and it perpetuates a stereotypical gender rule.”
Rhudy has played soccer since she was a child, and says the scoring system perpetuates sexism throughout the intramural community.
“I just want the game to reflect fairness to both sexes and be the real game of soccer,” Rhudy told The Appalachian.
You go, girl :p
Did Illegal Immigrant Children Bring Enterovirus to the US (and ... err...Canada)?
The Editorial Staff have been seeing suggestions that they did crop up like mushrooms after a few days of rain. So far, the cases we've seen for Obama having caused this traveshamockery seem to follow the same general script:
1. Enterovirus 68 is common in Central/Latin America.
2. Obama allowed a large influx of illegal immigrant children from Central/Latin America.
3. There are reports that some of these children had tuberculosis.
4. These children were sent to other states.
5. About the same time, enterovirus outbreaks occurred.
6. Therefore, the resettling of illegal immigrant children caused the US enterovirus outbreaks.
Some articles note the suspicious (!) coincidence timing of the outbreak, claiming this somehow supports the theory that illegal children are the cause:
Though the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) refuses to discuss the origin of the current outbreak of Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), the fact that emergency rooms across the country began seeing infected children around the same time as the nation's public schools were re-opening for the 2013-2014 school year, should serve as at least a clue as to how the virus made its way here.
Can you say non sequitur, boys and girls? We knew that you could:
Six clusters (equal to or more than 10 cases) or outbreaks between 2005 and 2011 have been reported from the Philippines, Japan, the Netherlands, and the states of Georgia, Pennsylvania and Arizona in the United States. EV68 was found in 2 of 5 children during a 2012/13 cluster of polio-like disease in California.
Cases have been described to occur late in the enterovirus season, which is typically during the warm months, from spring to autumn (August and September in the Northern hemisphere).
But apparently, rumors are far more contagious than either Enterovirus or Ebola. In case you're not convinced yet, there's even a handy dandy map. We draw the attention of the assembled villainry to the center of the map:
Maps appear to be spreading like... well, enterovirus. Everyone's got one. Here's a map showing the dispersion of illegal immigrant children by state(Note: blue circles mine). Again, please pay special attention to the center of the map:
Now let's go back in time about 4 weeks to see where the early outbreak clusters occurred:
First, Do No Harm
The EU's "Right to be Forgotten" law accomplishes... something. But not necessarily something positive:
Google has deleted more than 18,000 web links following requests from this country under the controversial ‘right to be forgotten’ laws.
Britons asked the internet search giant to remove links to more than 63,000 pages under EU legislation which has been criticised as an attack on free speech.
In the first month of the ruling taking effect, 60 per cent of the Europe-wide requests came from fraudsters, criminals and sex offenders and one in ten reportedly came from paedophiles.
October 09, 2014
Alright, villains. Here is your next picture to snarkify.
Have at it.
And may the Farce be with you.
The Math is Settled
According to our progressive Brethren in the Eurosphere, the best way to reduce income inequality is to make everyone share the cost of the social safety net:
There seems to be an obvious solution to rising inequality: higher taxes. But there's an inconvenient fact here. The way most advanced, industrial countries have made real gains on inequality is through relatively regressive taxes that fund programs that reduce inequality. In fact, America's tax system is already unusually progressive by international standards. Our ongoing research suggests that this unusual relationship is not a coincidence.
The countries in northern Europe that have made the biggest strides in reducing economic inequality do not fund their governments through soak-the-rich, steeply progressive taxes. Instead, they have broad-based taxes that ask all workers to contribute to a generous welfare state.
Brace yourselves for the mother of all unintended admissions:
There's a reason governments in nations with highly progressive taxes end up spending less to combat inequality — those taxes raise relatively little revenue for both economic and political reasons. For instance, the highly progressive taxes in the United States have fostered intense backlash from powerful economic elites, pushing high-earning individuals and firms to find loopholes and lobby for top-end cuts.
Isn't that precisely what Those Horrid Rethugs have been arguing all along? The gang that can't shoot straight can't even do redistribution efficiently.
Math seems to be a recurring theme this week, doesn't it? How distressing.
28 .... *Million* People!!!
Ladies and gentlemen, once again we bring you the deeply complex, yet endearingly folksy verbal stylings of The Vice President of these United States. Not since the Common Core has math been so accessible to The (little) People!
Another day, another Vice President Joe Biden gaffe.
Biden overstated the positive impact of raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 by more than 3,000 percent Tuesday, Roll Call reports.
The vice president visited Los Angeles Tuesday as part of his six-city tour to discuss the administration’s push for a higher minimum wage. But Biden seemingly confused his talking points.
“If we raise the minimum wage nationally to $10.10, that takes 28 million people out of poverty. 28 million people out of poverty,” Biden declared.
For those of you at home who do not understand The New Math, that adds up to [furiously working calculator....] 28 MILLION PEOPLE.
The White House has only officially claimed that increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would give 28 million people a raise, not lift them above the poverty line.
In fact, Biden’s statement is a whopping 3,100 percent more than the estimates by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office statement on the effects of a minimum wage increase.
“Real income would increase, on net, by $5 billion for families whose income will be below the poverty threshold under current law, boosting their average family income by about 3 percent and moving about 900,000 people, on net, above the poverty threshold (out of the roughly 45 million people who are projected to be below that threshold under current law),” the CBO report stated.
The White House and Biden himself have had a more generous outlook, Roll Call reported. The Obama administration has been touting a “more than 2 million” figure for the amount of people lifting themselves out of poverty.
900 thousand, 28 million, 2 million... what difference does it make? The point is that the President can't afford to wait for Congress to act. Quibbling over a few million here, errors of a few thousand percent there is unconscionable. You know, kind of like flinging gasoline on an already raging fire and expecting good results.
The administration has been on thin ice with some of its claims about the impact of the sequestration cuts. Duncan’s assertion that “as many as 40,000 teachers could lose their jobs” also appears to be hyperbole.
An aide to Duncan described it as a “rough back-of-the-envelope calculation,” derived by dividing the average pay and benefits of a teacher — $70,000 — by the amount — $2.8 billion — that needed to be cut in education programs.
But that amounts to false precision. Teacher salaries vary greatly across the nation, and within districts. School districts and states may find many ways to juggle funds or reduce expenses to avoid losing many teachers, which is what has happened during previous periods of financial stress.
The American Association of School Administrators this week released a report, based on a survey, that estimates that “at least 37,000 education jobs” would be lost through sequestration. That at least is based on something more than a rough calculation, though of course it is in the interest of this group to sound the alarm.
Moreover, note that the group refers to “education jobs,” not teachers. We have previously found that 67 percent of education jobs could be broadly defined as being held by teachers or teaching assistants. That would translate into a reduction of about 25,000 teachers, based on AASA’s survey data.
All we have to say is, thank Gaia that The Smart People are finally reforming the education system to produce the skills needed so desperately on Capitol Hill:
October 08, 2014
Quote of the Day
I reject that idea. Similarly, I reject the idea that a beheading as such means terrorism. I mean that’s absurd. People behead for all sorts of reasons, all of them disturbing, all of them disgusting. But the act of beheading per se does not make it terrorism. Now the question of whether this person had a religious connection to Islam is an interesting one and a necessary one to ask. But again, because someone is Muslim and they commit an act of workplace violence, that doesn’t necessarily make them a terrorist.
There's a reason just hearing Mr. Hill's voice makes the Spousal Unit throw things at our TV. This man desperately needs your money. To buy himself a hat.
Hump Day Music
As y'all know, from the frequency with which I use the genre, I like country music, and one of my favorite's is one of the more prolific of today's country music singer/songwriter's, Brad Paisley. He has a new cd out that, of course, the Dark Lord had to have immediately, and boy am I glad I did. Otherwise I would have had to wait to see whether or not this song would have made the cut for being released as a single:
The boy does know how to turn a phrase. He also has a way of using that talent to make a subtle, yet meaningful, point.
I hope you enjoyed my musical interlude.
Now, coffee break's over.
Back on your heads.
Let The Judgement Begin
Alright, villains, it's that time, again. Judgement time. I love Judgement time. Almost as much as I love quick-time harch. (slightly NSFW 0>;~])
And now, to attend to old business with the usual quickie look back:
And let the snarktillery commence...
This week's short, but worthy, list of winners sees the return of the irreverant mr. rdr from whence he has been causing his usual chaos and discontent of late to grab the brass ring with this subtle dig at "I've done nothing wrong, but I'm claiming refuge under the 5th amendment because..." Lois Lerner, "You're lying again, Lois."
Taking the silver this week is Frank Karl's pontifications of a potential problem in the progressively pervasive pull of the power of "just a peek", Throckmorton, discovers to his dismay, he was sent ogling glasses not googling glasses. Even so, it was a step up for him.
And, finally, fleecing the golden goose for first place is George Pal's new Occupy Whatever chant slogan. For which, there were unanimous *up twinkles* - a rare and blessed unison of the multiverse of diverse minds, Harness your brain's neuroplasticity. First, knead it repeatedly - for it feels good. Invoke, repeatedly, the mantra “soft head, soft heart, makes me really fuckin’ smart.” In no time at all, you too can be a knee-jerk liberal.
Recipient of the "Oh, You'll Pay For That....Someday" award goes to our resident ballot-stuffing, fixed-wing flyer, frequent flyer, for his sad attempt to rouse the Dark Lord,
"Professor Merkel the Mindreader was famous for his ability to divine the thoughts of his subjects.
He attempted to read the thoughts of one DL Sly, but came up empty. Was the failure HIS, or did the subject really not have anything on her mind?"
I'm sure, had the Princess known of such beforehand, she would have cautioned said high-flyer of the potential for having his waxed wings melted by a future barrage of snarktillery as the Dark Lord does not soon forget.
Congrats to this week's winners! Welcome back to the Snarkpit of Fascism, mr. rdr, and thanks for playing everyone.
At this point, do I really need to repeat the traditional phrase about a new picture?
Fighting, Manliness, Freedom, and the Last Frontier (a repost)
Jonathan Chait's liberal defense of male aggression prompted us to look for this old post. Much to our delight, we found at the end of it a poem we wrote in 2005 or 2006 on another blog that we thought was lost forever. Anyway, enjoy. If you want to read the original comments, they're here.
One of my favorite things about blogging is the way it often turns into a huge freeform discussion, sometimes on site, sometimes continuing offline via email or phone conversations, hopping from one blog to another. It just fascinates me. Another thing I love is the sheer connected-ness of ideas: the way even thoughts which, at first glance, may not appear to have anything to do with each other often end up (at least in the zig-zagging breadcrumb trail that is my mind) taking me to totally unanticipated destinations.
Considering the topic of today's peroration, it is perhaps not surprising that the trouble all started with mr rdr, who is himself a veritable feast of manliness. Last week, he sent me a wonderful WSJ piece (unfortunately subscription-only) that has been driving me mad all week because I kept seeing things in it that applied to different topics. But there was also the germ of an idea in the back of my mind that I didn't have a place for, which strangely enough wasn't really the focus of the article at all. It lay in this line:
For Shakespeare, inflexible virtue becomes its opposite, vice. The subtlety of his understanding of the human predicament is incomparable. We pride ourselves, perhaps rightly, on our vast accumulation of scientific and other knowledge; but when it comes to self-knowledge, self-understanding, I doubt that we shall ever progress beyond him.
Believe it or not, that paragraph has been worrying at me all week. They say the first step in the recovery process is admitting that you have a problem.
Oddly enough, I started out thinking I would apply the article, about the play Coriolanus, the protagonist of which is a noble Roman consul too honest to hide his scorn of the vulgar plebians, to the Abdul Rahman story and George Bush. As with most of Shakespeare's plays, things do not end well. The Bard's characters tend to be larger than life, and twinned with their outsized virtues are tragic flaws, often the obverse of the very qualities which make them great. For Coriolanus, his downfall is virtue carried to such extremes that it becomes rigid and inflexible and so, what was within moderation admirable, turns to evil.
But during the week I ended up linking to this piece about young men adrift, in my opinion because they've been emasculated and infantilized by an increasingly out of kilter, feminized society; and as a result my fellow bloggers have given me quite a bit to think about. Grim dropped the next crumb on the trail, and as usual, it was quite thought-provoking:
Masculinity and Aggression
Jonathan Chait has written a magnificent piece about male aggression (and football!). The Editorial Staff found these passages particularly thought provoking:Time strongly implies that high-school football is a uniquely dangerous activity. “Eight people died playing football in 2013, the highest toll since 2001, when there were nine, according to the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research at the University of North Carolina,” the magazine reports. “All were high-school players. During the 2013–14 academic year, no other high-school sport directly killed even one athlete.”
Those statements are all factually true. The implication is false. The same organization cited by Time found that, over a 30-year period, football is not a uniquely deadly sport for high-school athletes. It is not even the deadliest sport. High-school football has a fatality rate of 0.83 per 100,000 participants. This is actually lower than the rates of boys’ basketball (0.92), lacrosse (1.00), boys’ gymnastics (1.00), and water polo (1.3). There were three heartbreaking deaths of high-school football players last week, each of which attracted wide media coverage the way that tragic low-frequency events often do. But the unusual cluster of unfortunate deaths does not indicate a broader trend any more than the crash of an airliner signals an increasing danger associated with air travel.