Archive for the '' Category

Same as it ever was……

Monday, August 30th, 2010

There has been a lot of media talk in recent months about the nature of much of the criticism that Obama has received from the public and the conservative blogosphere. Some voice concern that the passion and volume of the anger toward him and his administration is unprecedented and unbecoming to the office of the Presidency. Chris Matthews once again repeated this point today, with the recent survey that 31% of Republicans think Obama is a Muslim. He also showed a recent tabloid cover that promoted pictorial “proof” that Obama was a Muslim. Chris acted perplexed about why there was so much looniness being expressed out there among the wacky right-wing.

I’ll give him this much. Yes, there are quite a few angry people out there who say a lot of odd and ugly stuff about Obama. The thing that I have to laugh at is the way this tone is such a revelation to so many liberal talking heads and bloggers!

It’s like the years 2000 to 2008 never happened!

A Rasmussen poll in 2007 (2007, mind you!), showed that 35% of Democrats believe that President Bush knew about the specific 9/11 attack and choose not to stop it.

A number of tabloids and partisan bloggers pushed the theory that Bush had become mentally unstable and began drinking again. Kitty Kelly put out a book that described Bush using cocaine at Camp David during his father’s term in office. A Chicago-based artist exhibited an Artistamp painting of Bush with a gun pointed at his head. A British film-maker created a documentary-style movie depicting the assassination of Bush (and won an award at a Toronto film festival). You can go to the blog at zombietime and see some truly heinous protest signs, t-shirts and bumper stickers.

I could go on further, but I think you get my point.

Some also may say that death threats against Obama spiked as high as 400 percent higher than the average amount around the spring of 2009, but a Newsweek article in November of that year indicated the the threats had since lowered to the same levels of the Clinton and Bush years. It may have risen again over the last year, but I’ve seen no data to confirm it.

Anyway, my main point is that part of this polling regarding conspiracies involving Obama and Bush can be attributed to one thing. And it is basic Psychology 101. The halo effect. A person with one perceived trait, good or bad, is assumed to have a range of other such good or bad traits. People may not even be sure it is true, but if it is a negative halo, they refuse to give the person the benefit of any doubt. Dislike of either President can often translate to other negative perceptions across the board.

I will say this too: Eugene Robinson (also on Hardball) did admit one thing that I’ve felt that Obama flubbed a long time ago. He has never picked a church to attend in the D.C. area. Even if it is mainly for show, the media clip of a President leaving church and shaking the minister’s hand has become a fairly standard and “comforting” (for lack of a better word) scene for many Americans. As Eugene says (and I agree), some (not all) of this “Is he a Christian” stuff could have been tamped down early on.

Many of you may say “who cares”, but an astute politician should.

This explains a great deal…

Monday, June 28th, 2010

The dumb get confident, while the intelligent get doubtful. That’s the conclusion that David Dunning and Justin Kruger came to when studying people’s perceptions of their own talents. What has now become known as the Dunning-Kruger effect helps describe why lay people often act as experts and inept pollies get our votes.

Andrew Sullivan needs help!

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010


Here is Andy’s stunning reason for why the Press has not followed him down the dark pit of insanity: It’s because the media is all about maximizing ratings by not causing offense.

Hello, Andy? It’s reality calling. It misses you.

The Media has maximized their ratings simply by dropping the P-Word at every turn, including any story that would probably be considered offensive to Palin or her family.

The cable news rivals (and the print media) all agree on one thing: Palin brings viewers (or readers). Whether you love her, hate her, are annoyed by her, or are curious about her, an awful lot of people want to hear the latest Palin story.

She is the most talked about marginal political player at the national level since…..well, who? She is an irresistible Boogy Man to the liberals, and an attractive departure from the political old guard for the Conservatives. Call her a guilty pleasure for all those who enjoy watching liberals froth at the mouth regarding her, yet would never consider voting for her as a Presidential candidate.

Let’s be serious. Most polls have her consistently lagging well behind several other Republican options. Most Conservative politicians pointedly talk all around her viability as a Presidential candidate. Her folksy, but repetitive, dialogue and inch-deep generalizations about current events and policy leaves most potential voters suspcious.

Yet her name is like catnip to those who love her and those who despise her. Including those in the media. So they will continue to search out and publicize every nugget from either Crazy Palin or Real American Palin, until the next Big Thing comes along. And yes Andy, that would include a story about Palin being a Delusional Baby-Switch Conspirator with her daughter. If there was even a whiff of truth to it.

But there isn’t.

So the public will have to mollify itself with the latest stories of Palin adoration or Palin embarrassment, from a media machine that is anything but reserved when it comes to trumpeting the latest Palin nugget to a hungry audience.

Healthcare for grandma = socialism?

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Republicans have been fighting any form of universal coverage for a very long time. For well over 100 years in America there have been polemics about how decent healthcare for everyone will lead to ruination and damnation or worse: socialism! While every other advanced Democracy has universal coverage and enjoys better outcomes, we persist with a model that pleases Wall Street and the Insurance companies, while tens of millions have no healthcare at all. Something like 45,000 people die every year due to a lack of medical care. Those that do have ‘insurance’ pay more than other countries, accept worse outcomes and are one major illness away from bankruptcy.

While Republicans have done everything to destroy basics like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, the public is solidly behind these programs and is willing to pay for it. Take Medicare for example. Here is a record that Dutch Reagan put out warning the listener of the evils of Socialized Medicine (cue dramatic music!) If this evil Medicare thing passes, doctors will be told where to practice, what to practice and soon The Government will tell everyone where and what to do forever! We’ll spend our sunset years looking back on how great it used to be to be Free! Or maybe not.

Other than reducing the number of sick and dying old folks (surely an unmitigated good), none of these ridiculous warnings have come close to being true.

Perhaps we should think about this when debating the idea that we should provide the world’s best healthcare to all our citizens. Because right now we spend more, cover less and have worse outcomes than all the other 1st world countries (and many 2nd and 3rd world countries).

Statistics (Can) Lie (If You Want Them To)

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

It’s really nice when you get an opportunity to stop, step back, take stock, and really admire the way satire can point out how easy it is to (mis/ab)use statistics: Voting Democrat Causes Cancer.

The real humor I find in the whole thing, is the way this is overtly presented as a direct corollary to claims by Democrats advocating Health Care reform, with out any apparent consideration that this is the sort of thing lots of different groups do to add legitimacy to their position(s).

Like Climate change deniers … just to pick an example off the top of my head.

Healthcare Hyperbole to Maximum

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

The HealthScare ‘debate’ is sure heating up here in the good ol USofA (must be all them heaters folks is bringing to the townhall meet-n-greets).

Recently the Investors Daily Bulletin claimed:

“The controlling of medical costs in countries such as Britain through rationing, and the health consequences thereof, are legendary. The stories of people dying on a waiting list or being denied altogether read like a horror script … People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn’t have a chance in the UK, where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.

Ummm, folks, Stephen Hawking is from the UK, where he has had the Evil Socialized Medicine his entire life. But don’t trust me on this, Professor Hawking can and has responded (read this back in a computer voice for best effect)

“I wouldn’t be here today if it were not for the NHS,” Professor Hawking told us. “I have received a large amount of high-quality treatment without which I would not have survived.”

Also congratulations are in order: Professor Hawking was just awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by our President. Well done sirs, well done. Podcast 30: Inaudible Man

Saturday, July 4th, 2009 Podcast 30 is about the election, Prop 8, Harvey Milk, Lynndie England, Dan Savage, and lots of Russell Brand. It’s also about Obama, but he doesn’t actually say anything in the episode (hence the title), except for a little bit at the end, and he really doesn’t say anything then either. Mostly, it’s about how something I’ve imagined for such a long time can seem so different when it finally arrives.

Enjoy, and feel free to let me know what you think in the comments. Thanks.

Notes and sources follow…

part one: celebrity endorsements

part two: election day

part three: harvey’s big feet

part four: lynndie

Ahmadinijad sucks at Photoshop

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

Sort of funny to me from a professional point of view.

Meltdown Iran

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

Based on CNN and BBC coverage, this seems like… well some kind of highly significant event:

I’m not sure if this is going to end up in another revolution, bloodshed as the Ayatollah cracks down or will just blow over. Looks like the Ayatollah is at least pretending to listen to the will of the people.

America’s Ace Interrogator

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Is the Cookie Monster. coooookie!!!
And reportedly Happy Meals also work wonders.

Torture is effective at just one thing: providing false confessions and false information. Hmmm, I am sure we have a simple English word for verifiably false information… tip of my tongue… it’s a little word… politicians do it often…

As an aside: why is the pic of Ron Jeremy associated with that link? In the print edition of TIME, we get an actual photo of Mr. Super Duper Bad Guy™ Abu (Bobby) Jandal. Just saying. Briefly Hax0red; Now Back

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

For about 6 hours just now, you probably experienced trouble logging into if you are a registered user trying to log in. It looks like some lamely inadequate permissions by me made the site vulnerable to malicious manipulation by the script kiddies; I believe I’ve fixed that now. If you notice any problems still, please let me know.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

Understanding Information (sorting the signal from the noise)

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

One of these videos is propaganda and the other is information (and some entertainment). Both use statistics, but one draws scary conclusions and has a fundamental flaw in its ‘reasoning’. The other talks about how and why things change and new tools to help us understand statistics and spot fundamental trends.

shorter: boo!

information (ok, maybe a touch of infotainment)
shorter: it’ll be a big fat middle class world… liberal, happy and informed

This Has Been Another Episode

Friday, April 17th, 2009

of What Glenn Said.

Little steps, perhaps baby steps, but at least steps in the right direction.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Bobby

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Bobby Jindal gave the GOP response to Obama’s speech and what a disaster lil Bobby’s speech was! His awful delivery, Gomer Pyle wit and GOP world view made for a Bizarro-World counterpoint to Obama’s speech.

Amongst his canned anecdotes was a claim that “During Katrina, I visited Sheriff Harry Lee, a Democrat and a good friend of mine. When I walked into his makeshift office I’d never seen him so angry. He was yelling into the phone: ‘Well, I’m the Sheriff and if you don’t like it you can come and arrest me!’ I asked him: ‘Sheriff, what’s got you so mad?’ He told me that he had put out a call for volunteers to come with their boats to rescue people who were trapped on their rooftops by the floodwaters. The boats were all lined up ready to go – when some bureaucrat showed up and told them they couldn’t go out on the water unless they had proof of insurance and registration. I told him, ‘Sheriff, that’s ridiculous.’ And before I knew it, he was yelling into the phone: ‘Congressman Jindal is here, and he says you can come and arrest him too!’ Harry just told the boaters to ignore the bureaucrats and start rescuing people.”

Only problem? It wasn’t true. As in he wasn’t in Sherrif Lee’s office “during Katrina”.

Oh and FOXnews claims that Bobby couldn’t attend CPAC because he was busy with State Business (he was actually at Disneyland with his family).

If this is the best you have GOP, prepare for a long time in the wilderness. A long, long time. Hopefully forever.

The Uncler

Monday, February 23rd, 2009


And Now For Something Completely Different

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

A little light hearted distraction…

RSS feeds are funky, too

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

And another wordpress-upgrade-related issue (I assume): The RSS feeds are broken. Sorry. Working on it.

Update: And now, I think, fixed. Huzzah.

Commenting Is Funky?

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

The commenting system is semi-busted, in the sense that you get an error message after posting a comment. The comment is actually posted, however. I’m not sure what the story is; investigating.

Update: Should be fixed now. Thanks.

Iraq War Deaths for July through December, 2008

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

Here are the updated graphs covering the last six months. US military deaths in Iraq have continued to be fairly low. The highest number of US troop deaths during this interval was in September, with 25 deaths; the lowest number was in July, with 13 deaths.

As always, I’m comparing the US military casualties in Iraq to those from the Vietnam war at a similar point in each war’s political lifetime. The data come from the advanced search tool at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund site, and from Lunaville’s page on Iraq coalition casualties. The figures are for the number of US dead per month, without regard to whether the deaths were combat-related.

The first graph shows the comparison for the extent of the Iraq war to-date. (Click on any image for a larger version.)

Next, the chart that gives the US death toll for the entire Vietnam war:

As ever, you are free to draw your own conclusions. And for that matter, you’re free to draw your own graphs, if you have a way of presenting the information that you believe would be better. In that case, feel free to post a comment with a URL to your own version. Thanks.

Worst Ballot Challenge Ever

Friday, December 19th, 2008

It seems that Norm Coleman in MN is falling behind because his ballot challenges are bunk.  The Coleman campaign tried to get a certain Franken ballot thrown out because the voter wrote on the ballot. What did they write you ask?  No, no, not Lizard People (though that is a good guess and shows you’ve been paying attention).  This person wrote “Thank you for counting my vote!” 

Say hello to the 59th D US Senator, Mr Al Franken!