Friday, August 31, 2012

Quotation Of The Day: Literature Matters Edition

Admiral James Stavridis, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe and Commander, U.S. European Command, discusses what he reads as part of an ongoing Atlantic series. After listing numerous news sources, he gets to fiction and poetry:
I am also a big reader of fiction, and enjoy accurate historical fiction, which affords a chance to learn history painlessly. Generally, make time to read at least one novel a week. Lately I've read The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, and The Age of Miracles, by Karen Thompson Walker, both coming-of-age novels by young American novelists. I also like the sea-going novels of Patrick O'Brian, like any Navy officer. Other authors I enjoy and read repeatedly include George MacDonald Fraser, Cormac McCarthy, John Updike, Ha Jin, Gary Shteyngart, Elmore Leonard (going strong at 85) and Ian Fleming, among many others.
I also read poetry, especially from countries I am visiting in my current job (about 80 over the past several years). For example, before a recent trip to Madrid I went back and read some of the work of Frederico Garcia Lorca. I just read a book of poetry from a decade ago by Carl Dennis called Practical Gods which impressed me. W.B. Yeats still amazes me with the freshness of his vision a century after much of his work was published.
Looking at Stavridis reading list, I would love to see a discussion between Stavridis and the Common Core advocates who want to reduce the amount of fiction and poetry that high school students read. The discussion could also include those hard-nosed business people who claim that literature has no benefit. I have the feeling the Admiral has a far different point of view.

The Biggest Threat To The United States Is A President Who Won With Over 50% Of The Vote?

I've said that I'm not voting for Obama or Romney. I'll be looking at third party options. This chart, however, angers and frustrates.  Dan Amira polled 50 random delegates to the Republican convention. One of the questions was "What is the greatest threat facing the United States?" According to a majority of the Republican delegates Amira polled, the greatest threat is a President elected with the majority of the vote:

Amira points out that some of the delegates objected to his foreign policy choices:
Mea culpa: This question did not include economic threats as choices. So if a delegate protested that the options available weren't sufficient, they were invited to write in their own. Here's what they wrote:

Economic collapse
Fiscal and moral decline
Natl debt and growing federal govt
Current moral decline
Economic collapse
I know the sample is small, but I'm not unsure that the results are inaccurate. Further, I really don't know if it's possible to have a civil political discussion or campaign if one views one's political opponent as an existential threat to the nation. Diplomacy has been called war by other means; apparently some Republican delegates believe that politics is also a form of warfare.

HT: Andrew Sullivan

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Republicans Are Converting To Postmodernism! Who Knew?

Larry Kurz points to a Politico report that rates John Thune's claim that "the Obama administration 'even proposed banning farm kids from doing basic chores!' a "pants on fire" lie. One would hope such claims would prompt a retraction or at least chagrin. Unfortunately, Thune, in his role as a Romney surrogate, will probably keep repeating the claim.

Writing in The Atlantic, James Bennet reports that the Romney campaign apparently has little concern for truth. Facts certainly don't matter when it comes to a Romney welfare ad:
"We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers," said Neil Newhouse, a Romney pollster.
That ad has been defended; no one has said it's true; it's just not as false as some people think it is:
"The press is all full of itself about how they're going to declare that it's false," Kaus says, "but it's really a lot less false than you think it is."
I spend a lot of time telling my Lincoln Douglas debaters to stand for normativity and advocate that objective truth is knowable. A fact is not "true" because it's "less false" than others think it is. Questions of truth and falsehood operate on a far different level.

In his book After Theory, Professor Terry Eagleton puts the matter in perspective:
All truths are established from specific viewpoints; but it does not make sense to say that there is a tiger in the bathroom from my point of view but not from yours. You and I may contend fiercely about whether there is a tiger in the bathroom or not. To call truth absolute here is just to say that one of us has to be wrong.
If it is true that racism is an evil, then it is not just true for those who happen to be its victims. They are not just expressing how they feel; they are making a statement about the way things are. ‘Racism is an evil’ is not the same kind of proposition as ‘I always find the smell of fresh newsprint blissful.’ It is more like the statement ‘There is a tiger in the bathroom.’ One could imagine someone murmuring consolingly to the victims of racism that he understands just why they feel the way that they do; that he understands just why they feel the way they do; that this feeling is of course entirely valid for them – indeed, that if he were in their shoes he would doubtless feel just the same way; but that in fact he is not in their shoes, and so does not consider the situation to racist at all. This individual is known as a relativist. He might conceivably be known, less politely, as a racist. – Terry Eagleton, After Theory, 106
Romney's and Thune's claims are also like claim about the tiger in the bathroom. The tiger is either there or it isn't; the claims are either true or they are not. Apparently, the party used to stand for objective truth, a stand I applauded, has now become a party of relativists in which facts are true if a pollster asserts that they are.

Republicans are, however, showing some consistency. They are treating the Ten Commandments in the same way that they treat the ten amendments in the Bill of Rights. Republicans hold the second amendment dear and mockingly tell those who assert fourth amendment protections that they have nothing to fear as long as they don't do anything wrong. Apparently, Republicans believe the tenth commandment "thou shalt not covet" takes precedence over the ninth "thou shalt not bear false witness."

Maybe postmodern Republicans have a new translation not available to folks like me.  Would it really translate Exodus 20:9 as "Thou shalt not bear false witness but thou mayest bear witness that is not as false as others thing it is"?


A Minor Musing About National And Grassroots Partisans

I suspect that America's two party system stems from the nation's Protestant ethic and Biblical injunctions like Joshua's challenge to the Old Testament Israelites:
And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
Every either/or choice since then has been a derivative of that challenge. I'm not old enough to have actually marched around the walls of Jericho with Joshua. My father carried me on his shoulders, but modern leaders and their followers don't remeind me of Joshua.

The years since my youth have taught me the futility of trusting human agency; therefore, I have to echo Conor Friedersdorf's complaint about ideological partisans:
There's a lot I find objectionable about partisans, for I regard their faith in the Republican and Democratic parties as misguided. In fact, I think it's proven to be misguided again and again, as successive parties, vested with a president of their party and Congressional majorities, have failed to address America's deficit and been complicit in reckless abrogations of civil liberties.
Friedersdorf, however, draws a distinction between national level Republicans and the common folk attending the GOP convention:
For an observer of national politics like me, the face of the GOP is an amalgam of George W. Bush, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, and Rand Paul, and the results of their combined efforts. GOP delegates and alternates just traveled to Tampa with a group of people who gain neither fame nor lucre nor much power from their participation in politics. You think of L.A. Lakers fans as self-satisfied Hollywood celebrities who show up late to games and are there to to be seen. I think of Lakers fans as my dad, grandfathers, and best friends. No wonder that I have a higher opinion of Lakers basketball. And no wonder GOP delegates have a higher opinion of the Republican Party.
When he discusses national Republicans, Friedersdorf does not mention Rush Limbaugh's belligerent bombast ineffectually mimicked by Sean Hannity, nor does he mention Ann Coulter's valley-girl snark and irritating eye rolling.

Perhaps it is those omissions that allows him to draw distinction between the grassroots partisans and the public standard bearers. It's unclear that such a distincition exists.

Friedersdorf uses a sports analogy. I'll offer my own: Tim Tebow. Unlike the Lakers, a storied franchise, Tebow is a rather ineffectual passer who gained the reputation of being a "winner" thanks to a field goal kicker able to kick 50+ yard field goals under pressure and a Pittsburgh Steeler defensive collapse that made the Maginot Line appear redoubtable. In short Tebow is as ineffectual as the national Republicans that Friedersdorf decries.

Tebow's partisans are shrill. oblivious to statistics, and quick to accuse his detractors of hating God. The latter charge stems from Tebow's public professions of faith. In short, they are as annoying, boring, loud, stubborn, and obnoxious as Tebow's passes are errant. They are like the grassroots Republicans who visited a state park this past summer to hector college students working a summer job. After all,  these Republicans want to ensure that tax dollars are being well-spent, and they will make sure the young kids trying to earn a few extra bucks hear that fact. The grassroots Republicans also award Rush Limbaugh's pronouncement equal weight with the Gettysburg Address. Given their tone and my my rising blood pressure when I encounter it, I frequently doubt that human nature has "the better angels" Lincoln's words sought in his Second Inagural Address

From the view of a blood red state, the grassroots folk and the national standard bearers both believe they are like Joshua and have a Divine mandate to issue clarion calls. That certainty grates because, they are more reminiscent of an ineffectual passer or belligerant talk radio host than they are of a prophet and leader.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Romney Got A Federal Bailout For Bain And A $4 Million Consulting Fee

The Daily Beast sums up a Rolling Stone article that will be on my evening reading list:
Mitt Romney helped secure a federal bailout to keep Bain & Company from collapsing, according to government documents obtained by Rolling Stone – then had the company pay Bain Capital a cool $4 million consulting fee for his services. According to the documents, the bailout Romney cobbled together cost the FDIC $10 million, and came at a time when the company had “no value as a going concern.” The documents from the FDIC indicate that Bain & Company, where Romney began his hugely profitable business career, got into trouble around the same time it spun off Bain Capital. Romney has taken credit for saving Bain & Company, saying that he did it out of a “sense of obligation and duty” to the company where he cut his teeth.
When the budget deficit is trillions, $10 million is the equivalent of pocket lint.  When the recipient is a venture fund that destroyed jobs and businesses for profit, the $10 million reeks of waste, fraud, and abuse. When a Presidential candidate who campaigns on the fact that he did indeed "build that" without government help, takes 40% of the bailout for a "consulting fee," the hypocrisy is, to steal a great tagline, priceless.

Quotation Of The Day: Yes I Am Obsessed With Pointing Out That All Christians Should Reject Ayn Rand Edition

From this Ed Kilgore post:
It has taken many decades of laborious revisionist work for the devout, scripturally literalist adherents of the faith whose God and Savior was quoted as saying, “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God,” to become uninhibited enthusiasts for earthly success and wealth, and despisers of the “undeserving” poor. It’s the same revisionism, of course, that makes it possible for the Roman Catholic Vice Presidential Nominee of the Republican Party to fondly view Ayn Rand as an “intellectual influence,” instead of someone whose books any Christian should abjure like a Black Mass—someone whose fondest desire was to wipe both religion and altruism from the face of the earth.
I don't care if Ryan now claims she was only a small influence. Her work should never positively influence any Christian.

The Hollowness And Lies Of The Presidential Campaign: Links Edition

1. The headline says it all: Coal Miners Forced to Attend Romney Event Without Pay.

2. Which Romney staff intern majored in sign-making? From the New York Times Magazine:
In his speech, Romney asked everyone in the room who had started their own businesses to please stand. A few dozen people did, some holding signs that said things like “I opened my own business” and “I created a business. Not the government.” “These are fun; these are fun signs!” Romney gushed. “For those who made those signs, thank you for reminding us who it is in America that creates jobs.”
After the event, I met one of these business owners, Wayne Michaelis, standing outside the auditorium. I knew he had opened a business, because his sign said so. He is a retired orthodontist. “I build smiles,” he said proudly. But he did not build his own “I opened my own business” sign. That was handed to him, as were many others, by the campaign.
3. The same article reports that Obama campaign staffers are so on message that they may be a bit paranoid.
They are wary of speaking on the record, for fear of compromising their message of discipline. “I don’t want to be telling Matt Rhoades everything we’re doing,” Messina told me, referring to his counterpart on the Romney campaign. When he did speak on the record, it was often with a mouthful of string cheese, around which he spewed a litany of poll data (“Univision says we’re up 70-22 with Hispanics”), tech stats (“Facebook was one-ninth the size in 2008 than it is now”) and demographic trends (“the fastest growing population on Facebook is people over 50”).
I then headed down the hall for a brief separate interview with Cutter, whom I’ve known for years, going back to when she was John Kerry’s spokeswoman. “How are you?” I asked.
 “Are we on the record?” she replied.
4. Finally, I wish that I had been there to see this occurrence. Dana Milbank reports:
The Romney campaign had taken pains to stifle the Paul rebellion, by denying him a speaking role, expediting the roll call, changing party rules and even unseating Paul delegates from Maine. But as Romney and the Republicans have learned repeatedly this week, politics does not always go according to plan.
As the new rules disenfranchising the Paul delegates came to a vote, shouts of “no!” and a cascade of boos poured from Paul supporters across the hall. Maine delegates at one end of the arena and Texas delegates at the other began chanting, “Point of order!” Demonstrators shouted down the next speaker, a Republican National Committee member from Puerto Rico, and party chairman Reince Priebus hammered his gavel, pleading for quiet. A Nevada delegate raised his middle finger at Priebus and called him an “[expletive] tyrant.”
What did CSPAN viewers think of that little free speech exercise?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tweet Of The Political Convention Season

I wish I thought this were complete hyperbole. Unfortunately, I think it's fairly accurate:
I expect a lot fecal imagination from both conventions.

An Anti-Intellectual Dog Whistle?

Wheaton Universiy's Allan Jacobs quotes this Claes Ryn piece:
Official professions to the contrary, many self-described American intellectual conservatives have a thinly veiled disdain for philosophy and the arts. Even among academics indifference to what lies beyond broad ideas and popular culture is common. The ruling assumption of the now dominant strains of intellectual conservatism seems to be that the crux of social well-being is politics: bad politicians ruin society; good politicians set it right. . . .
Many supposedly intellectual conservatives seem to consider ideas and culture from afar, as it were, feeling no deep personal need for or intimate connection with them. Some are in a way attracted to the arts or even to philosophical speculation, but see no significant and immediate connection between these and the life of practice. Ideas and the arts are mainly pleasant diversions. Many others have only slight interest in philosophy and culture for their own sake. More or less consciously, they tend to assess either thought or imagination from the point of view of whether it advances or undermines the political cause that they assume to be incontestable. Does the book, lecture, play, movie, or song help or hinder the cause? Although such works may enlighten or entertain, they do not strike these individuals as having intrinsic and independent authority. Works of thought and imagination are for them not intriguing and potentially unsettling forces that might trigger painful self-examination and unpredictably reconstitute one’s own accustomed views; making sense of them is not so much a matter of soul searching as of locating them on the political spectrum.
At the outset, let's stipulate that liberal politicians are not immune to seeing art or ideas as tools to further or hinder the cause. Still disdain for the pointy-headed intellectual seems to be a view held by more on the right than the left.

It does, therefore, make me curious if this Dakota War College post is an anti-intellectual dog whistle. Pat Powers takes after Matt Varilek ostensibly for being a an environmental zealot. The only quotation Powers uses, however, begins with a discussion of Varilek's two post-graduate degrees:
Matt will be pursuing a M.Phil degree in Environment and Development at Queens College where he will investigate how market mechanisms for environmental regulation, such as emissions trading, can be applied effectively in developing countries. This is not the first M.Phil that Matt has gotten. After spending a year as an environmental policy research assistant at the Biosphere 2 Center in Arizona, Matt studied at the University of Glasgow under a Rotary Scholarship. At Glasgow Matt did a dissertation on how to maximize developing country’s benefits from Clean Development Mechanism investment under the Kyoto Protocol in the Economic Development Program.
There are numerous ways to engage in the war of ideas. Dr. Blanchard does it well in this post on a series of Matt Ridley articles. Peter Heck does it poorly. In his post, Powers seems unwillingly to deal with the substance of the ideas; instead, he seems more concerned that Varilek has advanced degrees.

Varilek and Representative Noem have vastly different political views on environmental issues. Her supporters should engage the ideas instead of using dog whistles which are easy and cheap. For example, one could argue that Representative Noem's major environmental accomplishments have been her work on pine beetles and her efforts to carry water for Speaker Boehner, he of the orange face and inopportune weeping.

Quotation Of The Day: Crime And Punishment Edition

From this Randy Dockendorf article in the Yankton Press and Dakotan:
"We need to be smarter on crime, rather than just tougher on crime,” said [Republican State Senator Craig]Tieszen, the Corrections Commission chairman
I may regret flagging this comment with because God knows what some will consider "smarter." The entire article, however, does point to the fact that the "lock them up and throw away the key" ideology currently in vogue is bearing some bitter fruit. (Yes, that was a cheap allusion to The Shadow.)


Monday, August 27, 2012

Quotation Of The Day: Average Voter Vs. Political Elite Edition

David Frum posts a provocative question from one of his readers:
Here you paint what you seem to imply is a portrait of a typical GOP delegate. Sounds fair enough to me, although I'm probably not the best judge because I'm not a movement 'conservative.' But you're describing a 'little guy' -- I can imagine him as a guy who owns an auto parts store in Anytown, Iowa, and belongs to a Tea Party. Listens to Rush and Hannity on the radio at the store, goes home to an evening with Greta and Bill O'Reilly, and listens to his pastor from a church pew on Sunday. We all know the messages he's consuming pretty much 24/7, whether we agree with them or not. You hold him up as an object of study and example for comment by those here (right and left) and, depending on our politics, we either mock or cheer his ideas.
But while we're dissecting Mr. Average Delegate, you're not asking us to look at the motives, attitudes, and methods of the people funding the GOP who are pouring billions (and have been for decades) into 'informing' Mr. Delegate. Once again, just as in the wake of the bank meltdown, we are encouraged to focus on the little guy and never pull back the curtain on the real power in the party. What are the elite's motives? What are their goals? Why have they worked so long and spent so much money to be sure Mr. Delegate is looking at his neighbors rather than the bankers/CEO's or their wholly-owned politicians when he assigns blame for his declining fortunes? Why does he believe the teachers who educated his children and the firefighters who would save his store are moochers because of their 'lavish' benefits, while the incompetent bankers who received trillions of our tax dollars when their casino collapsed have his best interests at heart? What is the elite's end-game, their vision of our future?
The ultimate political question of the election is not what Obama or Romney will do in the next four years. The die for many policies has been cast, and there will be little difference in what either will be able to accomplish. Even if they could make major changes, their advisers, especially their foreign policy advisers,  come form the same school of thought.

All voters show be asking the last question that Frum's interlocutor poses: what is the end game for elites giving millions if not billions of dollars to Republicans or Democrats?

Ayn Rand Didn't Like The Wisdom That Came From The Prairie

Writing in The New Yorker, Judith Thurman examines the relationship between Rose Wilder Lane, daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Ayn Rand.

Lane and Rand exchanged collegial letters for a while in the late nineteen-forties and early nineteen-fifties. But when Lane invoked the Biblical imperative to “love thy neighbor as thyself,” and protested that “without some form of mutual coöperation, it is literally impossible for one person on this planet to survive,” Rand “tore apart [her] logic” and denounced it as collectivist heresy. That sor of impulse, she concluded (to help your neighbor save his burning house, for example) led inexorably “to the New Deal.”
Rand’s ruthless supremacism, however—her stark division of humankind into “makers and takers”—leads inexorably to a society like the one that staged “The Hunger Games.” And it’s to Lane’s credit that, for all her zealotry, she couldn’t quite transcend the instinct to give succor. Should Paul Ryan decide to revisit the “Little House” books, he will certainly hear the congenial echo of Lane’s polemics in them, though tempered by something more humane. They exalt rugged self-reliance, but as Lane suggested rather plaintively in her argument with Rand, the pioneers would have perished (in greater numbers than they did) had they embraced the philosophy of every man for himself.
South Dakota is still filled with people who believe "America elected a dictator" when Americans elected FDR. Some might still consider Social Security a "Ponzi scheme." Some might be "rugged individualists"who grow their own vegetables. Lane did all of these things. She also battled depression throughout her long life, but she still saw that Rand's theories taken out to their logical conclusion would create a dystopia. Hopefully, more South Dakotans will adopt that view as well as Wilder's libertarian individualism.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Quotation Of The Day: Political Tediousness Edition

Noah Millman, the token liberal blogger at The American Conservative, sums up something I have been thinking about as South Dakota Republicans fight with each other:
The semantic debate about defining a “real” conservative is exceptionally tedious, . . .
Nothing more needs to be said.

Scripture And Song Of The Week: Deuteronomy Edition

Deuteronomy 24
King James Version

14 Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates:

15 At his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it: lest he cry against thee unto the Lord, and it be sin unto thee.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Minor Musing About The Lack Of Both Intellectuals And Community

Some people, when they wish to describe intellectuals derisively, claim that an intellectual is someone who cares more about ideas than people. That description may be shrugged off when the world is afloat an a sea of good ideas; it's damning when there's a dearth of good ideas. Rod Dreher illustrates that the United States currently faces the latter situation:
Liberal intellectuals have their own problems and challenges, of course, and I don’t care about them. For my side, it seems to me that conservative intellectuals have become so fossilized as a class because they responded to the two devastating shocks to the Standard Conservative Model by essentially doubling down on ideology. Just say the same old things, but louder and more insistently, and rely on tribalist instincts and hive-mindedness to marginalize dissenters, and that will carry the day. That, and the fact that liberalism hasn’t come up with a dynamic and compelling vision either for the post-Iraq, post-crash world — that is, a post-1980 world in which assumptions generally shared by both parties about American foreign policy and globalized capitalism have proven inadequate to the world as it is.
Of course, the people who damn intellectuals as uncaring elitists would contend that caring communities will thrive without the highfalutin pronouncements from the ivory tower. They can rely on friends and neighbors to get through the tough times together.  Writing in the Yankton Press & Dakotan, Kelly Hertz contends that sense of community seems to be shrinking as well:
It’s also possible that the small turnout reflected that aforementioned symptom: a growing lack of community within this community. We are seemingly becoming a lot of separate parts, not a unified whole, when it comes to such affairs.

But Yankton isn’t alone in dealing with this affliction, for this is what our 21st century society is becoming.
I'm hardly an intellectual, but I don't get out much, so I won't comment on the Yankton situation. It seems, however, that the entire country is becoming a bit more isolated at least economically:
Rising income inequality has led to a growing number of Americans clustering in neighborhoods in which most residents are like them, either similarly affluent or similarly low-income, according to a new study detailing the increasing isolation of the richest and the poorest.

A report released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center said the percentage of upper-income households situated in affluent neighborhoods doubled between 1980 and 2010, rising to 18 percent. In the same time frame, the share of lower-income households located in mostly poorer neighborhoods rose from 23 percent to 28 percent. The percentage of neighborhoods that are predominantly middle class or home to a wider mix of income levels shrank.
Communities are losing cohesion and rich and poor are becoming more segregated. Although the country may be less racially segregated, Mitt Romney is currently polling at 0% among African Americans. The only cohesive group seems to be intellectuals who are increasingly tribal but have have few ideas. In short, the only segment of the population that has community is one that should be providing ideas. It's good to know they are failing together.

Quotation Of The Day: Poets Edition

From this Charles Simic post in the New York Review of Books:
In a country that now regards money as the highest good, doing something for the love of it is not just odd, but downright perverse. Imagine the horror and anger felt by parents of a son or daughter who was destined for the Harvard Business School and a career in finance but discovered an interest in poetry instead. Imagine their enticing descriptions of the future riches and power awaiting their child while trying to make him or her reconsider the decision. “Who has recognized you as a poet? Who has enrolled you in the ranks of poets?,” the trial judge shouted at the Russian poet Josef Brodsky, before sentencing him to five years of hard labor. “No one,” Brodsky replied. He could have been speaking for all the sons and daughters who had to face their parents’ wrath.[emphasis mine]
The bolded sentence rings true, and if I may so bold to paraphrase Lincoln, one wonders how a nation so conceived and so constituted can long endure.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Quotation Of The Day: Right Wing Paranoia Explained Edition

From this Conor Friedersdorf post:
What strikes me about the spread of this story on right-leaning sites, including Fox News, and the conspiracy theories like the one above, is the strangeness of what worries the right wing and what doesn't. I realize that once you go far enough right there are people opposed to the U.S. government, full stop. But among readers of, The Daily Caller, and, the coverage suggests there are a lot of people who aren't particularly concerned about President Obama literally asserting that he has the authority to secretly order the extrajudicial killing of American citizens. On the other hand, a theoretical abridgment of liberty involving the Social Security Administration and hollow-point bullets is worth worrying about. You almost get the idea that if President Obama were to order them killed they'd mind it more if he did it with an agency created by the New Deal than by using a good old-fashioned Predator drone.

Mitt Romney And Values: The Only One That Matters To Him Is Cash

In an election that some claim is about values, these paragraphs from the AP stand out:
Mitt Romney's success in raising hundreds of millions of dollars in the costliest presidential race ever can be traced in part to a secretive data-mining project that sifts through Americans' personal information - including their purchasing history and church attendance - to identify new and likely, wealthy donors, The Associated Press has learned.
For the data-mining project, the Republican candidate has quietly employed since at least June a little-known but successful analytics firm that previously performed marketing work for a colleague tied to Bain & Co., the management-consulting firm that Romney once led.
In short, Mitt Romney sees humnan beings as nothing more than a means to make money. They are not ends unto themselves; they have not right to privacy; they are merely cash cows.

I'll be interested to see in any freedom loving Republicans raise an alarm about Romney's use of data mining. I would love to hear one of them explain how any American is supposed to believe that he will not undermine civil liberties when given the reins of power if he sees personal data as noting more than a source of income.

Comics Matter And They Still Belong In The Classroom

Artist Kerrith Johnson captures the iconic nature of many of contemporary comics major heroes. Because these characters have become icons, they can easily remind readers, teachers, students, and skeptical members of the public, that there's something more the mundane of day-to-day life. Johnson's "Believe" series attempts to keep superheroes "iconic but positive." This artwork would be far more effective than some of the motivational crap that clutters school hallways and classrooms.

A few of my favorites:

For the Lincoln-Douglas debaters:

For all other students who write, speak, act, or create:

Because we all make mistakes and need a little help:

There are good people out there:

Lightening strikes every day:

When all of these things come together, there can be a little magic:

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The 2012 Political Season Summed Up In Four Paragraphs

Politics has started to make me more tired and cranky than usual. Neither side represents my policy views. Further, the process is starting to get both ugly and boring. A. Barton Hinkle sums up this year's campaign. In fact, he may sum up most recent and future campaigns:
My Side has produced a visionary program that will get the economy moving, put the American People back to work, strengthen national security, return fiscal integrity to Washington, and restore our standing in the international community. What does the Other Side have to offer? Nothing but the same old disproven, discredited policies that got us into our current mess in the first place.
Don’t take my word for it, though. I recently read about an analysis by an independent, nonpartisan organization that supports My Side. It proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that everything I have been saying about the Other Side was true all along. Of course, the Other Side refuses to acknowledge any of this. It is too busy cranking out so-called studies by so-called experts who are actually  nothing but partisan hacks. This just shows you that the Other Side lives in its own little echo chamber and refuses to listen to anyone who has not already drunk its Kool-Aid. . . .
Besides, it’s clear that the people on the Other Side are driven by mindless anger – unlike My Side, which is filled with passionate idealism and righteous indignation. That indignation, I hasten to add, is entirely justified. I have read several articles in publications that support My Side that expose what a truly dangerous group the Other Side is, and how thoroughly committed it is to imposing its radical, failed agenda on the rest of us.

That is why I believe 2012 is, without a doubt, the defining election of our lifetime. The difference between My Side and the Other Side could not be greater. That is why it absolutely must win on November 6.
Read the whole thing; the smiles it produces might be the last ones between now and November.

Quotation Of The Day: I Must Be A Traditional Conservative Edition

Writing at The American Conservative, Daniel Larison rejects the idea that conservatives merely desire to preserve the status quo.
Preserving the status quo would mean rejecting all of the following things: breaking up the banks, significantly scaling back the warfare state, reducing overseas commitments and deployments, curtailing the power of the executive branch, and practicing fiscal responsibility in budgeting. That is far from an exhaustive list. Most or all of these are among the more important priorities for many traditional conservatives. Judging by what he has done, Obama doesn’t support doing any of these things. (A lot of self-described conservatives don’t support any of these things, either.) Like a lot of “centrists,” Obama has accommodated existing powerful interests in domestic and foreign policy. That doesn’t make him a conservative. It just makes him a conventional center-left Democrat.[italics in original]
I support "breaking up the banks, significantly scaling back the warfare state, reducing overseas commitments and deployments, curtailing the power of the executive branch, and practicing fiscal responsibility in budgeting." South Dakota is allegedly a conservative state. but I can find few South Dakotans who agree with me that the first four of the issues that Larison lists should be priorities. I must be more traditional that most of South Dakota's conservatives.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Quotation Of The Day: Where Have All The Protest Songs Gone Edition

Stephen M. Walt opines:
It might be because there's no draft, and so anti-war songs don't hit home with a population of young people who don't have to serve if they don't want to. It might be because the digital/internet revolution has carved the listening audience into smaller and smaller niches, so that it's harder for any artist to write something with broad appeal and a political message.  You get political messages inside each genre (i.e., in hip-hop, alt-country, folk, etc.) but nobody commands a platform as large as Dylan, the Beatles, or even Creedence Clearwater did back in the days of AM and FM radio saturation. It could be that other art forms have superseded music; younger people are too busy playing Wii or downloading Jon Stewart reruns to pay any attention to the lyrics of the songs on their iPhones. Maybe it's just simple demographics: the counterculture movement of the 1960s was fueled by the sheer size of the baby boomer bulge. Or perhaps it's because there is no real Left anymore -- which is where the good songs came from-and because the Right thinks Mike Huckabee is cutting edge.

South Dakota Republicans: Any John Birch Society Port In A Storm?

These are trying times. South Dakota's Senate Majority Leader and other Republican legislators are beset and bothered by postcards and robocalls. Leader Olson deems those behind the communication terrorists. The cards and calls claim that the Republicans are not true Republicans but merely Republicans in name only (RINOs).

Pat Powers, late of the South Dakota Secretary of State's office and founder of Dakota War College, a South Dakota Republican organ, has rushed to assure Olson and other afflicted Republicans of their conservative bona fides. This succor comes from the John Birch Society.

Somewhere the body and spirit of William F. Buckley must be mimicking a whirling dervish. Buckley laid the intellectual base for modern conservatism.  Geoffrey Kabaservice sums up the Buckley's view of the John Birch Society:
Nonetheless, in February 1962 National Review ran a six-page editorial against Welch, arguing that he was damaging the anti-Communist cause by “distorting reality” and failing to distinguish between an “active pro-Communist” and an “ineffectually anti-Communist liberal.” It would be several years before Buckley excommunicated all Birchers from the conservative movement, but his editorial emphasized that “There are bounds to the dictum, Anyone on the right is my ally.”
Recalling a meeting that led to the editorial,  Buckley quotes Russel Kirk, author of The Conservative Mind, one of contemporary conservatism's founding texts, volunteering to take a rather a rather direct approach when describing Robert Welch, the John Birch Society's founder:
What would Russell Kirk do? He was straightforward. “Me? I’ll just say, if anybody gets around to asking me, that the guy is loony and should be put away.”
Buckley died believing that he, Kirk, and others had dealt the death blow to the John Birch Society:
The wound we Palm Beach plotters delivered to the John Birch Society proved fatal over time. Barry Goldwater did not win the presidency, but he clarified the proper place of anti-Communism on the Right, with bright prospects to follow.
Paranoia is apparently more resilient than the brilliant Buckley realized. In South Dakota, the Republican party has apparently decided that allying itself with a political zombie is preferable to calling on its intellectual roots.

Buckley used "scorn and derision" to defeat the John Birch Society's paranoia fifty years ago. South Dakota Republicans have used those tools against Democrats; they can use them against those behind the robocalls and postcards. Instead they have chosen to ignore Buckley's injunction: "There are bounds to the dictum, Anyone on the right is my ally." They have chosen to accept the comfort afforded them by a group that true conservatives decried fifty years ago and ought to continue to denounce today.

Conservatism has well-developed and formidable intellectual base. South Dakota Republicans, through one of their most conspicuous organs, have chosen ignore that intellectual history.  Instead, they have decided to ally themselves with a paranoia that should have died long ago.

Will South Dakota Public TV Start Broadcasting Cow Week?

I don't know if I'll be able to go to work today. I'm more than a little afraid. Yesterday, I discovered that "terrorists" have targeted South Dakota's mailboxes with postcards. This morning, I learn that South Dakota is home to creatures that kill more humans every year than sharks. Writing at BoingBoing, Maggie Koreth-Baker informs readers that cows kill repeatedly. In fact she is creating cow week:
Cow Week is a tongue-in-cheek look at risk analysis and why we fear the things we fear. It is inspired by the Discovery Channel's Shark Week, the popularity of which is largely driven by the public's fascination with and fear of sharks. Turns out, cows kill more people every year than sharks do.
 Koreth-Baker does not discuss whether cows consider their homicides self-defense during grilling season.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Postcards, Robocalls, And Terrorists, Oh My!

I have thought that the South Dakota Republican civil war waged with postcards and voting records to be mildly amusing at best and a prime example of a tempest in a teapot at worst.

The situation has now taken a turn toward the hilarious. David Montgomery reports that the rhetoric has moved beyond hyperbole and reached the rarefied realm of absurdity:
Senate Majority Leader Russell Olson didn’t mince words when I asked him about the people sending out robocalls and postcards attacking him and others.

“I think they’re terrorists. They want to ambush and never say who they are,” Olson said.

He later referred to “terroristic activity” used against Sen. Art Fryslie, R-Willow Lake, in Fryslie’s primary this year.

Rep. Mike Verchio, R-Hill City, used that same formulation.

“The way I would look at the attacks first of all, these guys are kind of like terrorists — they come out and toss a grenade at us and then retreat to their caves,” Verchio. “A bunch of cowards. They won’t take ownership of who it is on the robocalls. It’s a fringe faction that’s desperate for their own power and control.”
Cory has an excellent overview including a CIA definition of terrorism, but this situation may demand some simplification.

First, terrorists mail pipe bombs not postcards. Second, postcards have never killed anyone. That movie that featured a ninja killing 63 bad guys with a piece of cardboard was not a documentary. Third, terrorists usually want to spread fear across a wide segment of the population; I haven't had a single person tell me they're afraid of postcards or robocalls, annoyed perhaps, but never fearful.  As a side note, should South Dakotans, a notoriously individualistic lot, seriously consider voting for someone who's frightened of a postcard and a phone call?

I suppose I should be happy for a teachable moment. I can use Olson's statement to teach metaphor: these people are terrorists. Verchio's statement, on the other hand, is a classic simile; these people are like terrorists. That being said, we live in a country where the President can detain anyone he deems a terrorist without trial, so it's not a term that should be thrown around lightly.

Olson and Verchio should expand their vocabulary to be more precise. The people sending out the postcards and making the robocalls are propagandists, a term that has negative connotations and reminds people of totalitarianism. Granted, Democrats, Republicans, and Rastafarians all use propaganda, so it doesn't make Olson and Verchio's political antagonists appear as despicable as the legislators might like. On the other hand, the Rastafarians might have some good advice for both of them:

A Minor Musing On Generational Conflict And Ironical Politics

Noreen Malone takes a shot at Paul Ryan contending that Ryan "was voted the biggest brownnoser in his high school class" and that Ryan is the politician GenX deserves:"
It’s an economic philosophy that is driven by, in a very different way, the same self-interest and self-regard that was endemic to those GenXers who identified more strongly with Slackers than Dockers. Both mindsets were a response to the early ‘90s recession that many GenXers graduated into, but while those then-twentysomethings were busy staring at either their navels or copies of Atlas Shrugged, the country entered a decade of unparalleled post-war prosperity. So what’d you do with that, GenX? Bought stock in and perfected your CD collection? Cooool.

So add Paul Ryan—along with the Internet boom/bust, rigorously documented mopey slacking, and I dunno, glowsticks?—to the list of things GenX can count as its legacy. He might not be the politician they want to represent them, but he just might be the politician they deserve.
I've seen several articles and blog posts contending that baby boomers  have squandered the legacy that the Greatest Generation bequeathed them, but this is the first return salvo that I have seen.

The United States Constitution reflects regional conflicts. Over the past 225 the nation has developed the tools to deal with regional disagreements. These generational conflicts seem to have the potential to be more divisive especially given the current budget woes and battles over entitlement spending. I can remember the slogan "never trust anyone over 30," but that was during the Great Society debate when the nation believed it could have both guns and butter. Now, the Republican neocon wing seems to want to wage perpetual war to avoid maintaining a societal safety net. Democrats, meanwhile, pay lip service the safety net and support every defense project that will bring Washington bacon to the congressperson's home district.

Malone continues:
This, GenX, is what you get if you are too cool to actually, like, do anything. This guy becomes your standard-bearer. You cannot, unfortunately, run for the White House ironically.
She may be wrong on that account; people have run for the White House cynically or because they believed it was their turn to run. Ryan certainly seems to know how to use cynicism; his budget makes all sorts of claims but offer no specific cuts. Compared to that cynical political activity, a truly ironical politician might be a God-send.

Monday, August 20, 2012

I Just Got A Little Older, Again.

The Daily Beast reports that Scott McKenzie has passed away:
One of the voices of the Summer of Love has died. Scott McKenzie, known for “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair),” passed away Saturday in Los Angeles, according to a statement on his website. He was 73. The artist suffered from Guillain-Barré syndrome, an autoimmune disease that afflicts the nervous system. “San Francisco” was written by the Mamas and the Papas leader John Phillips, and McKenzie toured with the group later in his career. He also had a hand in writing “Kokomo,” a hit for the Beach Boys.

Quotation Of The Day: First Day Of School Edition

From this New York Times Verlyn Klinkenborg post
Now try turning a thought into a sentence. This is harder than it seems because first you have to find a thought. They may seem scarce because nothing in your education has suggested that your thoughts are worth paying attention to. Again and again I see in students, no matter how sophisticated they are, a fear of the dark, cavernous place called the mind. They turn to it as though it were a mailbox. They take a quick peek, find it empty and walk away.
Time to go exploring.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Quotation Of The Day: Worship Edition

Subbing for Andrew Sullivan, Matthew Sitman quotes David Foster Wallace:
In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.

Scripture And Song Of The Week: Isaiah Edition

Isaiah 45
King James Version

5 I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:

6 That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the Lord, and there is none else.

7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.

8 Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the Lord have created it.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

How Many South Dakotans Agree That School Are "Godless" And Teachers Are "Vampires"?

A commenter left the following opinion on the Yankton Press & Dakotan comment section:
Public schools are Godless and socialist. Parents should pay for your child's education not me.
He further opined that "teachers are vampires that suck the blood from tax payer."

I'm curious about how many South Dakotans share his views. I don't have firm stats or a poll, but I think it's safe to say that about 15% of the state identifies with Gordon Howie, Bob Ellis et al. The over/under of those citizens who agree with the comments is 90%.

I'm guessing that about 20% of the state is self-identified liberal Democrats. They would disagree with the premise that there should be no public schools and may not care if the schools are Godless. They may still see teachers as vampires. Even with that caveat, the over/under of the liberal Democrats who would agree with the proffered opinion is 6%.

The remaining 65% are mainstream Republicans and conservative Democrats. Republicans make up the lion's share of that number.. Here's where the guesstimates get scary. Ten years ago, I would have set the over/under for members of this group who agree with comment at 15%. Now, I'm setting it at 55%.

I welcome comments about either my analysis of South Dakota's political make-up or my my odds making..

Comic Book Characters And Religion

The fine folks as must have far more time than I do. They have taken the time to catalog the various faiths held by comic book heroes. Not only do they provide a handy chart, they also group heroes into faith teams.

Should I ever decide to switch universes, I find it comforting that my Catholic wife will be well protected by The Hulk, Daredevil, Hellboy, and a host of other formidable super-powered folk. I can call on the services of Rogue, Ghost Rider, and Falcon. As a mythology teacher, I would hope that Hawkman and other followers of the classical Egyptians, Thor and the rest of the Norse pagans, along with Wonder Woman Namor, and rest of the Greco-Roman classical religion adherents would also offer assistance.

Atheists can call on Savage Dragon, Starman, and Yellowjacket. Lutherans, South Dakota's largest protestant group, don't fair so well in the comic book multiverses; they can call on only four minor-league characters. That's a much less impressive group than the small but powerful Roma representation that includes Magneto, Dr. Doom, and Nightwing.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Putting Pat Robertson In His Place

Russell Moore is "Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he also serves as Professor of Christian Theology and Ethics." He also has an adopted son, so he may have both a personal and theological reason to take umbrage at Pat Robertson's most recent non-scriptural utterance. Robertson supported a man who didn't want to marry a woman who had adopted children from abroad, Robertson claimed the man may not "want to take on a United Nations” or who would “grow up weird.” Moore is clear, concise, forceful, and correct:
I am taking a deep breath here and reciting Beatitudes to myself. I had promised never to mention Robertson here again. Every few months he says some crazy scandalous thing. He blames 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina on gays and lesbians, cozies up to the Chinese coercive and murderous one-child policy, counsels a man that he can divorce his Alzheimer’s-riddled wife because she’s “not there” anymore.
Let me just say this bluntly. This is not just a statement we ought to disagree with. This is of the devil.

Political Music: Irony And Cognitive Dissonace

Emmarie Huetteman reports that Paul Ryan who reads Ayn Rand also listens to Rage Against The Machine. People who read Rand while listening to Rage put their mental health at risk. Rand tries to make selfishness moral; Rage, to put it mildly, opposes capitalism and greed:
The Grammy-winning Rage Against the Machine, which formed in 1991, has expressed vehement opposition to corporate greed and the American two-party political system, as well as support for the Occupy Wall Street movement, among other issues.
Huetteman reports that Ryan is in the same boat as other Republicans: he may like the band but the band doesn't like him.
Tom Morello, guitarist for the politically outspoken rap-metal band, attacked Mr. Ryan, Mitt Romney’s running mate in a searing editorial for Rolling Stone.

“Paul Ryan’s love of Rage Against the Machine is amusing, because he is the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades,” Mr. Morello said.

Mr. Ryan has said Rage Against the Machine is one of his favorite bands. But like many other politicians, he has discovered that his music isn’t in sync with his politics. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey is a vocal and loyal fan of Bruce Springsteen, but it’s a one-way relationship. Mr. Springsteen, who supports Democratic policies and politicians, will not meet Mr. Christie, a popular Republican governor
 This 2000 song Testify gives a safe glimpse of Rage's politics:



The movie ran through me
The glamour subdue me
The tabloid untie me
I'm empty please fill me
Mister anchor assure me
That Baghdad is burning
Your voice it is so soothing
That cunning mantra of killing
I need you my witness
To dress this up so bloodless
To numb me and purge me now
Of thoughts of blaming you
Yes the car is our wheelchair
My witness your coughing
Oily silence mocks the legless
Ones who travel now in coffins
On the corner
The jury's sleepless
We found your weakness
And it's right outside our door
Now testify

Now testify
It's right outside our door
Now testify
Yes testify
It's right outside our door

With precision you feed me
My witness I'm hungry
Your temple it calms me
So I can carry on
My slaving sweating the skin right off my bones
On a bed of fire I'm choking on the smoke that fills my home
The wrecking ball rushing
Witness your blushing
The pipeline is gushing
While here we lie in tombs
While on the corner
The jury's sleepless
We found your weakness
And it's right outside your door
Now testify
Yeah testify
It's right outside our door
Now testify
Now testify
It's right outside our door

Mass graves for the pump and the price is set
Mass graves for the pump and the price is set
Mass graves for the pump and the price is set
Mass graves for the pump and the price is set

Who controls the past now controls the future
Who controls the present now controls the past
Who controls the past now controls the future
Who controls the present now?

Now testify
It's right outside our door
Now testify
It's right outside our door
In the 1960s Larry Norman who was Christian before being Christian was cool asked, "Why Should the Devil Have All The Good Music?" Republicans might want to ask why so few bands want their music associated with Republican causes.

MEDIAite reports:
Notable musicians Jackson Browne, Foo Fighters, John Mellencamp, John Hall, and ABBA (?!?!) all demanded Sen. John McCain quit using their tunes during his 2008 campaign; the Wilson sisters from Heart famously reprimanded Sarah Palin for using “Barracuda” to promote herself that same year. Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist was sued by his doppelgänger David Byrne for using a Talking Heads song in 2010. And, of course, George W. Bush made a fair amount of enemies in Mellencamp, Tom Petty, and Sting.
Republicans are not without hope. MEDIAite suggests Lee Greenwood; Huetteman reminds readers Lynard Skynard.and Kid Rock will play the Republican convention.

HT: Ed Kilgore

Reason #33 Cory Heidelberger Is A Better Blogger Than I Am

Cory and I both saw this Nathan Johnson post on the recent Yankton City Commission meeting. We both read the hyperbolic rant:
A lack of volunteers does not indicate community disinterest, Commissioner David Knoff said.
“The Fourth of July is a perfect example,” he stated. “If you don’t think it’s that important of a deal to the community because the Chamber doesn’t want to do it, then let’s quit doing it. Then (the public will) come in here, set us all on fire, shoot us and do everything else. They want the event. They just don’t want to step up to it. They want to go to it.
Cory saw Dave Knoff's rant as the basis for profound philosophical questions about human nature, the role of government, and the needs of a well-ordered society.

I saw

Quotation Of The Day: Mitt Romney's Taxes Edition

David Simon, creator of the The Wire which is the best dramatic television series ever, explains why Romney's claims about taxes grate:
Can we stand back and pause a short minute to take in the spectacle of a man who wants to be President of The United States, who wants us to seriously regard him as a paragon of the American civic ideal, declaiming proudly and in public that he has paid his taxes at a third of the rate normally associated with gentlemen of his economic benefit.
Am I supposed to congratulate this man? Thank him for his good citizenship? Compliment him for being clever enough to arm himself with enough tax lawyers so that he could legally minimize his obligations?[Emphasis mine]
The bolded sentence explains my frustration perfectly. The tax code has become a Vegas casino with people like Romney being the house, and as everyone knows, the house always wins in the end.

The Only Good Teacher Is A Fired Teacher?

Reelz Channel had its audience rank their 10  favorite movie teacher. The public chose The Dead Poets Society's John Keating, an inspirational romantic. The poll results certainly are not scientific, but it seems rather ironic that the public's favorite movie teacher is a guy who was fired.

The top 10 movie teachers:

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Plains Pops: Environment Liniks Edition

Jason Peters suggests applying Pascal's Wager to climate change.

Alien dust invading North America.

"A study of the pale grass blue butterfly in the regions around the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, site of the 2011 radiation disaster, has revealed that the insects are giving birth to mutants at an alarming rate."

Meanwhile, most of us have a work environment. I found this "How I Work Series" interesting.

This list of the worst companies to work for is depressing.

Quotation Of The Day: Game Of Thrones And Politics Edition

George Martin, author of Game of Thrones, sees political intrigue and regional history worthy of his ornate plots in current political activities:
It would really be nice if there were still some Republicans of conscience out there who would stand up and loudly denounce these efforts, a few men of honor and integrity for whom “win the election” does not “win the election at any cost.” There were once many Republicans I admired, even I disagreed with them: men like Everett Dirksen, Clifford Case, Henry Cabot Lodge, William Scranton… yes, even Barry Goldwater, conservative as he is. I do not believe for a moment that Goldwater would have approved of this, any more than Robert A. Heinlein would have. They were conservatives, but they were not bigots, nor racists, nor corrupt. The Vote Suppressors have far more in common with Lester Maddox, George Wallace, John Stennis, and their ilk than they do with their distinguished GOP forebears.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Will Beer Drinkers Decide The Election?

Who says America is moving away from its founding principles? It seems this election will be decided by people who consume products that America's founders produced:
In fact, many of our founding fathers were brewers. William Penn, the Quaker founder of the Pennsylvania colony had a brewery on his estate. Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, James Madison and Samuel Adams encouraged legislation to promote the American brewing industry, and even George Washington, whose recipe for beer can be found in the New York Public Library, was an established homebrewer.
Today's Washington Post reports that beer drinkers will play an important role in the 2012 election:
As Obama and his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, battle for hearts and votes, Romney is trying to show that he shares their values of family, faith and hard work. He talks of marrying his high school sweetheart, supporting his wife through her battle with multiple sclerosis, raising his five boys and enjoying his grandchildren. Obama is taking it a step further by trying to seem an everyman himself. He talks of being raised by a single mom, his late father-in-law’s working-class career, his own family’s financial struggles in their early years.

And he talks about beer.

There is good reason to presume that beer is a way for Obama to connect with voters. It presents a contrast with Romney, who doesn’t drink (and who was ordering vanilla ice cream in a 1950s-style parlor in Ohio when Obama was buying beers at the fair). Consumer research shows that beer is most popular with the very voters that Obama and Romney are fighting over: middle-America independents.

According to Scarborough USA, 35 percent of these voters say they’ve had a beer in the past 30 days, compared with 30 percent of Democrats and 27 percent of Republicans. The numbers are even starker when focused on microbrews, with 45 percent of independents saying they drank one in the past month — and only 25 percent of Democrats and 23 percent of Republicans saying the same.
There's no report about whether these voters prefer Sam Adams or  Founding Fathers.

Some Days Future Looks Bright

I'm putting this on my permanent Christmas wish list. Espresso is good. When it can be delivered by something that looks like a high powered Nerf gun, it has to be better.

HT Rod Dreher

How did over 90,000 people view this without my hearing about it?

Questions For The Presidential Candidates To Answer

Conor Friedersdorf crowdsourced questions for the Presidential debates. He published 32.  The following 7 certainly need to be asked:
What lessons do you, as current (or potential) Commander in Chief, take from America's war in Iraq? If you think the war was a mistake, how will you conduct our foreign policy to avoid a repeat of that experience? If you still stand by American intervention, why was it a good idea?
In your job as POTUS, you will be responsible for managing one of the largest annual budgets in the country. I am curious how you would manage one of the smallest. Pretend for a moment that you lived in Oregon where the minimum wage is $8.80/hour. Imagine that you are working full-time for minimum wage. Your annual income, before taxes, would be $18,304. This would give you a monthly salary of $1525.33 (again though it would probably be less as no taxes have been deducted). If you were so lucky as to find an apartment for $650/month and rode the bus to and from work everyday, that would leave you with $787.83 for ALL of your expenses. How would you manage that budget? What would you do, if anything, to get assistance?
What would you consider to be the flaws of your political ideology?
President Reagan cut taxes and quadrupled the national debt. President Clinton raised taxes and began running a small surplus by the end of his administration, which could have been used to start paying down the national debt. President Bush cut taxes and doubled the national debt, again. President Obama extended those tax cuts and has proposed to keep most of them in place (except on the very rich), while the national debt doubled, AGAIN. What makes either of you think that tax cuts won't make the deficit continue to increase exponentially?
What do you find inconvenient about the confines of your own political party?
How can you justify our military spending (greater than $680 billion for 2010) and engagements (US troops in over 150 countries) given the lack of any sort of existential threat to the US? Can you justify stationing US troops in wealthy countries like Japan, Germany and South Korea? Aren't those countries rich and responsible enough to manage their own defense?
What do you believe are the long-term implications of an extended drone campaign within a country whom we have not declared war on, with regards to potential radicalization, democratic institutions and future cooperation?
I'd love to hear other suggestions.  What about questions for the Noem/Varilek debates?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Worldviews

Ok. it's probably worth only three or four.

I think it's a great visual writing prompt.

Steve Sibson probably thinks it dipicts an actual Illumanti meeting.

Cory might muse that the guy to the alien's left looks a lot like Gorver Norquist would look if Norquist shaved. Cory might also make his students write about the picture in French

A person who thinks that Mitt Romney should have picked Allen West as his running mate probably wants to burn everyone depicted in the sketch at the stake and then try them as Communist sympathizers.

Picture via