Saturday, September 10, 2011

Rick Perry and the death penalty: Lethal Overconfidence - Yahoo! News

Lethal Overconfidence - Yahoo! News: "Asked at Wednesday night’s presidential debate if he ever worried that Texas had executed an innocent person on his watch, Perry answered, “I’ve never struggled with that at all.”

Certainty is cheap if one achieves it by ignoring the actual facts, and indeed, Perry’s answer to the death-penalty question asked of him Wednesday night reflected a staggering inattentiveness to the facts. As the founder of the Texas Innocence Project, I’ve had a couple of dozen clients executed during Perry’s tenure as governor. There are some I think could well have been innocent—Frances Newton, for example, who supposedly killed her husband and two children without getting even a spot of blood or speck of gunpowder on herself; or Charles Nealy, who did not remotely match the description of the person who killed the convenience store clerk. But there was no DNA in either case, and so I am left being unsure."

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No more mail? What would Ben Franklin think? - Yahoo! News

No more mail? What would Ben Franklin think? - Yahoo! News: "The letter carrier or clerk is the face of the mail. But hanging in the balance is a $1.1 trillion mailing industry that employs more than 8 million people in direct mail, periodicals, catalogs, financial services, charities and other businesses that depend on the post office.

Who would carry mail to the Hualapai Indian Reservation in the Grand Canyon? To islands off the coast of Maine? To rural villages in Alaska? Only the post office goes to those places and thousands of others in the United States, and all for 44 cents. And it's older than the United States itself."

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Friday, September 09, 2011

All of the 2012 Republican candidates on climate and evolution | Luke ScientiƦ

These should be useful links...

All of the 2012 Republican candidates on climate and evolution | Luke ScientiƦ"...the full list of the 2012 Republican presidential candidates and their opinions on two key scientific issues: climate change and evolution."

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In Their Own Words: GOP Candidates And Science : NPR:"Jon Huntsman's recent tweet on science might not stand out in some crowds: "I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy," the former Utah governor wrote on Aug. 18. But among his fellow contenders for the Republican presidential nomination, Huntsman's declaration in support of both evolution and human-caused global warming made him an outlier. We compiled the Republican candidates' recent statements on climate change and evolution, and for comparison, included the consensus view among mainstream scientists and educators."

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Republican candidates, global warming, evolution, and reality | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine

Republican candidates, global warming, evolution, and reality | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine: "it was Rick Perry who is grabbing headlines.

Of course, that’s because what he said was outrageously awful. About climate science, he said, "…just because you have a group of scientists that have stood up and said here is the fact, Galileo got outvoted for a spell." That analogy is so ridiculous it’s hard to know where to start; but a good place might be to simply say that Galileo had the advantage of being right. Just because a tiny fraction of people claim global warming isn’t real, or that humans aren’t responsible, doesn’t make them correct. Especially when going up against the overwhelming evidence compiled by a consensus of 97% of scientists who study climate as their career.

Also, the religiously conservative Perry should be a bit more circumspect on his analogies. It wasn’t scientists who were fighting Galileo, it was religious conservatives."

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America the Beautiful Slideshow featuring Ray Charles

This is very cool, posted by a friend on Facebook...

GOP candidates and science...

Stole this from a friend on Facebook...

"Listening to GOP Presidential candidates talk about science is like listening to children talk about sex: They know it exists, they have strong opinions about what it might mean, but they don't have a clue what it's actually about."

This is why I appreciate Huntsman's comment in Wednesday's debate so much: "When you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call to question evolution, all I'm saying is that in order for the Republican Party to win, we can't run from science."

Many economists say Obama jobs plan will help –

Many economists say Obama jobs plan will help –

Some predicted it would put hundreds of thousands of people back to work next year, mainly because a Social Security tax cut for workers would be deepened and extended to small businesses.

"Payroll tax cuts are very powerful," said Allen Sinai, chief economist of Decision Economics. "They provide a boost to direct income and, in turn, spending, which is important to growth."

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, estimated that the president's plan would boost economic growth by 2 percentage points, add 2 million jobs and reduce unemployment by a full percentage point next year compared with existing law.

The heart of Obama's plan is an expansion of the Social Security tax cut, which took effect this year and is scheduled to expire by year's end. The tax cut now applies only to workers; it reduces their Social Security tax from 6.2% to 4.2%. Employers still pay the 6.2% rate.

Obama would renew the tax cut for a year and deepen it: He would drop workers' Social Security tax to 3.1%.

Slipping Bachmann seeks jolt for GOP campaign - Yahoo! News

Slipping Bachmann seeks jolt for GOP campaign - Yahoo! News:

""We know that when Michele is in Iowa, she wins," said Bachmann's Iowa campaign chairman, Kent Sorenson. "If she's here, she'll win Iowa."

That explains why, starting this weekend, Bachmann plans to campaign almost exclusively in the state as she tries to reassert herself in a race that's become a two-candidate contest between Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

She's in a far different position than she was earlier this summer when she entered the race and seemingly overnight began hovering atop state and national public opinion polls. In August, she rode that wave of popularity to an Iowa straw poll victory. But that same day, Perry became a candidate. He quickly filled the role of the GOP field's insurgent outsider, stalled Bachmann's momentum and infringed on her base of support.

Since then, Bachmann has faced criticism from voters and activists for appearing too scripted. She's also shuffled her top campaign leadership. And she found herself eclipsed in Wednesday's debate in California after figuring prominently in previous ones and winning praise for her poise.

Her newfound strategy calls for an intense focus on Iowa, where she already has a strong organization and a natural base of support with evangelical Republicans, home-school advocates and tea partyers.

The hope among Bachmann advisers is that an Iowa victory could propel her to the South Carolina primary, where Republican voters resemble Iowa's heavy segment of Christian conservatives. She spent a chunk of the past month in the state, as well as in Florida, courting tea party activists and other conservatives."

Exonerated Texas Inmate: “How Can You Applaud Death?” - ABC News

I tend to be in the "it would be better to let a hundred killers live than to execute one innocent man" camp. I am not opposed to the death penalty morally, but I am concerned about its application, and I am very concerned about how many people have been exonerated over the last decade or so as DNA evidence has been reexamined through the efforts of groups such as the Innocence Project.

Exonerated Texas Inmate: “How Can You Applaud Death?” - ABC News: "Anthony Graves read in the newspaper about the crowd at the Republican presidential debate applauding the fact that Gov. Rick Perry had authorized 234 executions during his tenure.

“How can you applaud death?” Graves asked.

Graves is one of 12 death row inmates who have been exonerated in Texas since 1973. Five of those exonerations occurred while Rick Perry was governor, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, a group that opposes capital punishment."

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Update (10:00 AM):

Thought I'd toss in this clip from The Daily Show regarding Perry's applause moment.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Are jobs obsolete? -

This article is an interesting thought experiment, but that's about it...  Well, yes, wouldn't it be nice?  Yes it would.  Now we all got to get back to work so we don't end up under a bridge...

Are jobs obsolete? - "The Industrial Age was largely about making those jobs as menial and unskilled as possible. Technologies such as the assembly line were less important for making production faster than for making it cheaper, and laborers more replaceable. Now that we're in the digital age, we're using technology the same way: to increase efficiency, lay off more people, and increase corporate profits."

"As a pioneer of virtual reality, Jaron Lanier, recently pointed out, we no longer need to make stuff in order to make money. We can instead exchange information-based products.

We start by accepting that food and shelter are basic human rights. The work we do -- the value we create -- is for the rest of what we want: the stuff that makes life fun, meaningful, and purposeful.

This sort of work isn't so much employment as it is creative activity. Unlike Industrial Age employment, digital production can be done from the home, independently, and even in a peer-to-peer fashion without going through big corporations. We can make games for each other, write books, solve problems, educate and inspire one another -- all through bits instead of stuff. And we can pay one another using the same money we use to buy real stuff."

Republican Presidential Debate: Jon Huntsman Gets Aggressive - International Business Times

Republican Presidential Debate: Jon Huntsman Gets Aggressive - International Business Times: "Further sharpening his differences with Perry, Huntsman again critiqued the Texas governor for questioning the validity of climate change and evolution.

"When you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call to question evolution, all I'm saying is that in order for the Republican Party to win, we can't run from science," said Huntsman. "We can't run from mainstream conservative philosophy.""

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FACT CHECK: Perry, Romney twist records in debate - Yahoo! News

FACT CHECK: Perry, Romney twist records in debate - Yahoo! News: "When Mitt Romney and Rick Perry thumped their chests over their job-creation records as governor during the Republican presidential debate Wednesday night, they left the bad parts out.

Yes, employment has grown by more than 1 million since Perry took office in Texas. But a lot of those jobs are not well paid.

True, unemployment dropped to 4.7 percent when Romney was Massachusetts governor. But the state's employment growth was among the nation's worst.
A look at some of the claims in the debate, and how they compare with the facts:"

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Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult | Truthout

Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult | Truthout: "Now, one can no more picture the current Senate producing the original Medicare Act than the old Supreme Soviet having legislated the Bill of Rights.

Far from being a rarity, virtually every bill, every nominee for Senate confirmation and every routine procedural motion is now subject to a Republican filibuster. Under the circumstances, it is no wonder that Washington is gridlocked: legislating has now become war minus the shooting, something one could have observed 80 years ago in the Reichstag of the Weimar Republic. As Hannah Arendt observed, a disciplined minority of totalitarians can use the instruments of democratic government to undermine democracy itself."

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This is a long article and the hour is late, so I have only read a little of the beginning. However, I do want to read the whole thing when I get a chance. As a friend of mine, who found the article, wrote: "The Republicans I grew up around were not like the one's of today. I think this does a good job of explaining why."

Obama drops, Perry surges in new poll | The Ticket - Yahoo! News

Obama drops, Perry surges in new poll | The Ticket - Yahoo! News: " According to the poll, the Texas governor, who entered the race last month, now leads Romney, 38 percent to 23 percent in the GOP race. No other nominee moves beyond single digits, including Ron Paul (9 percent), Michele Bachmann (8 percent) and Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain (5 percent).

While Perry appears to be the candidate to beat in the GOP field, he's not as strong as Romney or a "generic" Republican when pitted directly against Obama. According to the poll, Perry would lose to Obama in a projected match-up, 42 percent to 47 percent.

By comparison, Romney and Obama are statistically tied, 45 percent to 46 percent. Meanwhile Obama would lose to a "generic" GOP candidate, 40 percent to 44 percent."

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Monday, September 05, 2011

Rick Perry Slams Mitt Romney, Talks Gun Control and Church on Sunday - ABC News

Rick Perry Slams Mitt Romney, Talks Gun Control and Church on Sunday - ABC News:

"“I’m actually for gun control – use both hands,” Perry quipped.

Perry, whose book “Fed Up!” has drawn scrutiny in the past week, did not back off claims he made about social security in his 2010 book.

“I call it a Ponzi scheme. I call it a monstrous lie for our kids, and it’s true. Anyone who is running for the presidency of the United States and wants to keep status quo on entitlement is suspect. They don’t want to be honest with the American people, and we have to have that conversation.”

Perry stressed his commitment to balancing the federal budget, ridding the country of over taxation and over regulation, and downsizing the federal government, including reforming the Department of Education and Department of Energy.

“If you want to leave the education department there for a while to be a repository of best practices, I could get along with that, but the fact of the matter is they have not educated one child, just like the department of energy has not created one bit of energy.”"

Comedian Speaking Before Palin In Iowa Calls Liberals 'Special Needs Children' | TPMDC

Actually, what concerns me the most about these sorts of issues issues when it comes to Palin and her ilk (on both sides of the liberal/conservative divide) are examples such as this: " February 2010 ...  she excoriated then-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel for calling liberal activists "retarded." A few days later, she defended Rush Limbaugh's use of the same word in a similar context."  Everyone wants their red meat, but can't take it when it is directed at them...

Comedian Speaking Before Palin In Iowa Calls Liberals 'Special Needs Children' | TPMDC: "[M]inutes before Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor and parent of a child with Down syndrome, made her much-anticipated speech in Iowa, Los Angles-based comedian Eric Golub told a joke that compared left-leaning political ideology to "special needs children."
After commending Palin on raising her son Trig while balancing other responsibilities, Golub made the analogy.

"For that reason alone, the left should worship Sarah Palin and adopt her as one of their own," Golub said. "Because the leftist haters are an entire political ideology of special needs children.""

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An excellent analysis - "What the Left Doesn’t Understand About Obama" -

An excellent analysis of the left's misspent anger towards the Obama Administration. This actually takes a look at a number of my own concerns over recent events and shines some light on them, restoring a bit of the confidence I've lost over the last few months. Yes, I admit, I've fallen victim to some of the same assumptions, misguided assumptions, and logical missteps that many on the left have succumbed to over the last couple years.

The author does agree that, perhaps, the President should have shown some more backbone on the debt ceiling standoff, calling the right wing bluff, but he also considers the catastrophe that playing chicken on that issue may have brought about. That one was a tough call and, honestly, I am glad that it was one that I did not have to make.

What the Left Doesn’t Understand About Obama -

" ...yet the wave of criticism from the left over the stimulus is fundamentally flawed: it ignores the real choices Obama faced (and the progressive decisions he made) and wishes away any constraints upon his power.

"The most common hallmark of the left’s magical thinking is a failure to recognize that Congress is a separate, coequal branch of government consisting of members whose goals may differ from the president’s. Congressional Republicans pursued a strategy of denying Obama support for any major element of his agenda, on the correct assumption that this would make it less popular and help the party win the 2010 elections. Only for roughly four months during Obama’s term did Democrats have the 60 Senate votes they needed to overcome a filibuster. Moreover, Republican opposition has proved immune even to persistent and successful attempts by Obama to mobilize public opinion. Americans overwhelmingly favor deficit reduction that includes both spending and taxes and favor higher taxes on the rich in particular. Obama even made a series of crusading speeches on this theme. The result? Nada.

"That kind of analysis, however, just feels wrong to liberals, who remember Bush steamrolling his agenda through Congress with no such complaints about obstructionism. Salon’s Glenn Greenwald recently invoked “the panoply of domestic legislation — including Bush tax cuts, No Child Left Behind and the Medicare Part D prescription drug entitlement — that Bush pushed through Congress in his first term.”

"Yes, Bush passed his tax cuts — by using a method called reconciliation, which can avoid a filibuster but can be used only on budget issues. On No Child Left Behind and Medicare, he cut deals expanding government, which the right-wing equivalents of Greenwald denounced as a massive sellout. Bush did have one episode where he tried to force through a major domestic reform against a Senate filibuster: his crusade to privatize Social Security. Just as liberals urge Obama to do today, Bush barnstormed the country, pounding his message and pressuring Democrats, whom he cast as obstructionists. The result? Nada, beyond the collapse of Bush’s popularity."
"Liberal critics of Obama, just like conservative critics of Republican presidents, generally want both maximal partisan conflict and maximal legislative achievement. In the real world, those two things are often at odds. Hence the allure of magical thinking."

Reluctantly, Europe Inches Closer to a Fiscal Union -

Reluctantly, Europe Inches Closer to a Fiscal Union - "It was a brief lesson from American history that served as a not-so-subtle suggestion for contemporary Europe. When an official from a European central bank met recently with a financial official in Washington, his host pulled out the Articles of Confederation, the 1781 precursor to the U.S. Constitution, to use as talking points.

The message was clear: join together in a stronger union, or risk collapse.

The story of America’s failed early effort to operate as a loose confederation of 13 states is increasingly relevant for many European officials who are grappling with the drastic problems of their own flawed 17-nation currency union. The lack of strong central coordination of the euro zone’s debt and spending policies is a key reason Europe has been unable to resolve its financial crisis despite more than 18 months of trying.

And that is why, despite all the political obstacles, Europe appears to be inching closer to a more centralized fiscal union that would eventually turn the euro zone into something resembling a United States of Europe."

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Sunday, September 04, 2011

Unemployment: Democrats Vs Republicans | Progressive Political Cartoon by Barry Deutsch

Unemployment: Democrats Vs Republicans | Progressive Political Cartoon by Barry Deutsch:

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Unemployed face tough competition: underemployed - Yahoo! News

Unemployed face tough competition: underemployed - Yahoo! News: "The job market is even worse than the 9.1 percent unemployment rate suggests.

"America's 14 million unemployed aren't competing just with each other. They must also contend with 8.8 million other people not counted as unemployed — part-timers who want full-time work.

"When consumer demand picks up, companies will likely boost the hours of their part-timers before they add jobs, economists say. It means they have room to expand without hiring.

"And the unemployed will face another source of competition once the economy improves: Roughly 2.6 million people who aren't counted as unemployed because they've stopped looking for work. Once they start looking again, they'll be classified as unemployed. And the unemployment rate could rise."

As one of the 2.6 million not currently looking, come October, I will be officially unemployed again as I come off the bench to start looking for a new writing contract after taking some time off to be a full time Dad. I hate articles like this, but it seems like most of the time over the past decade when I've been looking for work the job market has been in a pretty dire state and I've always done well. Hope that streak holds in October.

Congress returns, unpopular as well as divided - Yahoo! News

Congress returns, unpopular as well as divided - Yahoo! News: "After a five-week break, Republican and Democratic leaders alike promise action to try and ease the country's 9.1 percent unemployment rate and boost an economy that is barely growing. President Barack Obama goes first on Thursday night with a speech to lawmakers and a prime-time national television audience.

"But there is little overlap so far in the measures that Republicans and Democrats are recommending, and the rest of the year-end congressional agenda is top-heavy with items that relate to government spending and less directly to job creation."


"In a late-August Associated Press-GfK poll, only 12 percent of those surveyed said they approved of the job Congress is doing, and 87 percent disapproved. A separate Gallup survey, taken in midmonth, found 13 percent approved and 84 percent disapproved.

"Everybody is kind of in trouble with the electorate," said Republican pollster Bill McInturff. He recently distributed an analysis that concluded the negotiating surrounding last month's agreement to avoid a default is an extremely significant event that is profoundly and sharply reshaping views of the economy and the federal government.
"It has led to a scary erosion in confidence in both, at a time when this steep drop in confidence can be least afforded.""

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Heck of a job, guys...

As race ramps up, GOP asks if Perry can stay atop AP News : : Ventura County Star

AP News : : Ventura County Star: "GOP strategists warn that it's very early, and polls at this stage are often poor predictors of what's to come in next year's voting to pick a nominee.

"There's movement all over the place," said Kevin Madden, an unpaid adviser to Romney and a veteran of several campaigns.

At this stage in the 2008 presidential cycle, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani topped national Republican polls, followed by ex-Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson. Both men faded fast.

Barely registering was former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who four months later won the Iowa caucus. Arizona Sen. John McCain eventually claimed the nomination."

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Tea party bulling its way into 2012 GOP race AP News : : Ventura County Star

AP News : : Ventura County Star: "Bulling its way into 2012, the tea party is shaping the race for the GOP presidential nomination as candidates parrot the movement's language and promote its agenda while jostling to win its favor.

That's much to the delight of Democrats who are working to paint the tea party and the eventual Republican nominee as extreme.

"The tea party isn't a diversion from mainstream Republican thought. It is within mainstream Republican thought," Mitt Romney told a New Hampshire newspaper recently, defending the activists he's done little to woo, until now."

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Another look: Congress and the presidency since 1900

Huntsman says ex-governor will be next president | Southwest Florida | The News-Press: "Who else fits the governors' bill?

Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney are the current GOP front-runners. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has not said whether she will run."

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Well, historically, it usually is... 2008 was an anomaly with two Senators reaching the general election.  Check this out:

Congress and the presidency since 1900

2008 - Senator beats senator
2004 - President beats senator
2000 - Governor beats sitting VP/former senator
1996 - President beats senator
1992 - Governor beats president
1988 - Sitting VP beats governor
1984 - President beats former VP/former senator
1980 - Governor beats president
1976 - Governor beats president
1972 - President beats senator
1968 - Former VP/former senator beats sitting VP/former Senator
1964 - President beats senator
1960 - Senator beats sitting VP/former senator
1956 - President beats governor
1952 - General beats governor
1948 - President beats governor
1944 - President beats governor
1940 - President beats corporate lawyer
1936 - President beats governor
1932 - Governor beats President
1928 - Sec. of Commerce beats governor
1924 - President beats solicitor general/ambassador/representative
1920 - Senator beats representative/governor
1916 - President beats Supreme Court Justice/Governor
1912 - Governor beats president and former president
1908 - Secretary of War/Provisional Governor of Cuba
beats representative
1904 - President beats judge
1900 - President beats representative