So says Republican leaders in Georgia. The UN! Agenda 21! Rural broadband! RAND! Obama’s 2008 election yielded the Tea Party. His reelection may breed an even stupider brand of nutjobs. →
Jason Flanary, failed 2011 candidate for the Virginia Senate, had Twitter all a-flutter over the past few days after sending bajillions of really nasty anti-Obama SMS messages to mobile phones in total violation of federal election law. “VP Biden mocks a fallen Navy Seal during memorial. Our military deserves better” and “Obama believes killing children is a right until the umbilical cord is cut” were two of the messages. Flanary, a Republican, is on the board of the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, and ran against Dave Marsden for Senate, garnering 46% of the vote. The Romney campaign says that they didn’t know the first thing about what Flanary was up to. Apparently Flanary’s company, ccAdvertising, is in the habit of sending out millions of illegal SMSes in the days before elections, in an effort to influence election outcomes. I’m pretty sure this story will have an unhappy ending for Flanary. →
In 2008, Focus on the Family wrote this letter from the future, warning their members about life in 2012 if Barack Obama were elected president. It’s hilarious. Comedy gold. Everybody’s gay, children watch porn, electricity is all but illegal, prayer isn’t allowed…it’s a hoot. If it wasn’t for The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, I don’t think there’d be any media outlet that would later revisit and evaluate these sorts of claims. I wonder what Focus on the Family is claiming Obama will do with his next four years? And who would believe them? →
This should be a wake-up call to the grown-ups in the Republican Party. Fetishizing ignorance and demonizing education has led to two-thirds of the party’s members being morons. I can understand why some people are confused about global climate change and evolution—there’s been a well organized attempt to spread misinformation on these scientifici topics. But being wrong on these topics? It’s pure insanity, on the level of faking the moon landing or Elvis being alive. →
Karl Rove’s nonprofit, Crossroads GPS, just got an anonymous $10M donation to fund attack ads against President Obama. This is the second $10M+ contributions that the organization has received anonymously. Is there anybody who thinks that we should have a political system that allows anonymous, unlimited political contributions? Anybody? →
Forget the presidential race—the other responses are pretty amazing. Only 14% believe that the presidentis is Christian (45% believe he’s Muslim, 41% don’t know). Just 26% believe in evolution. One in five believe that interracial marriage should be a crime, with just 67% supporting its legality. It’s little wonder that these two states generally show up at the bottom of nearly any state index of success or well-being. →
- Mediaite: AP Reporter Responds To Chris Hayes Panel Debate On Racism Of Droppin’ G’s From Obama Speech
There's some fussing about how an AP reporter transcribed a quote from President Obama. In a recent speech, the president said: "Shake it off. Stop complainin’. Stop grumblin’. Stop cryin’." On one of those sunday morning shouting shows, the reporter was declared to be racist for doing so. Ridiculous. Anybody who saw or heard the president's remarks knows full well that this was a deliberately affected speaking style. To transcribe his remarks with the "g" would have whitewashed his speech while altering his remarks. This is not a matter of transcribing a dialect paternally, but instead attempting to convey his remarks accurately.
- National Arbitration Forum: Ms. Stefani Germanotta v. oranges arecool XD
This is a really interesting decision that resulted from an ICANN complaint that Germanotta filed against a Lady Gaga fan site, ladygaga.org, demanding that the fan turn over the domain name. Though there are a lot of facts that led to their conclusion, the mediators found in favor of the fan, finding that the site was run in good faith, there was no substantial likelihood of confusion with the official site, and that Germanotta doesn't appear to be having any trouble promoting herself.
- Sunlight Labs: House Revamps Floor Feed
The U.S. House has made some great changes to their legislative data service. The U.S. Senate remains in the stone age.
- Bloomberg: Obama Lawyers Signal Likely Supreme Court Appeal on Health Care
The White House wants to end the federal appeals court rulings on the president's health care reform, and for the Supreme Court to take up the case. That's likely to bring a decision in June, in the middle of the presidential campaign. "President Barack Obama is trying to resolve the legal issues on his watch, said Alex Castellanos, Republican consultant. 'This is not politics,' he said. 'This is governing.'" Damned straight.
- NPR: Silence From Rep. Bachmann As Vaccine Challenge Expires
Remember the bioethicist's $10,000 challenge to Michele Bachmann if she would simply identify a single person who was rendered mentally retarded by the HPV vaccine? The money would have gone to Bachmann's charity of choice. That's an easy $10k, right? Apparently not—Bachmann couldn't do it. And of course not: her repeated claim that middle school girls have received the shot and promptly been rendered retarded is ridiculous on its face. It's important that dangerous lies like this be responded to like this, because the alternative is for people to come to believe that it's true.
- Wikipedia: Tontine
A tontine is an investment system by which a bunch of people pay into a pot and take their proportional share of the interest on a regular basis. As more participants die, the remaining participants all get a greater share of income with each payment. The last person alive gets a lump payment of all the remaining money. It was popular in the 1700s and 1800s, but they've both fallen out of favor and made illegal in many places.
- FlowingData: Watch the Growth of Walmart and Sam’s Club Across America
This is an interesting visualization, but the data that it shows is no less interesting.
- Slate Magazine: Rick Perry’s Christian Israel policy is a gift to Islamic extremists
Quoth Rick Perry: "Both as an American and as a Christian, I am going to stand with Israel." You want to know "why the terrorists hate us"? This is why. Our country has spent years cautiously handling Israel and its neighbors in terms of international relations. It's breathtakingly reckless to cast this as a religious matter. That'll make the difference between diplomacy and a holy war.
- The Washington Post: Survey finds significant drop in uninsured young adults
One million young adults have gotten health insurance thanks to the president's health care overhaul, which allows parents to include adult children on their health care insurance until the age of 26. I know a few myself. This is the only major group yet impacted at this early phase of healthcare reform, but it's clear that it's been a great benefit to them.
- Federal Register
If you haven't seen the website for the Federal Register in the past year, it's really a thing of beauty. Andrew Carpenter, Bob Burbach, and Dave Augustine put it together as an independent site, GovPulse,us, which the feds liked so much they asked the guys to take on the job of replacing federalregister.gov with what they'd put together for govpulse.us. It doesn't matter if you don't care about the Federal Register—the site makes it interesting to anybody.
- Science Now: ‘Dinofuzz’ Found in Canadian Amber
Feathers from Late Cretaceous dinosaurs, preserved in amber, are providing the first detailed look at how hair evolved into feathers. The 78-million-year-old feathers are really "dinofuzz"— not quite hair and not quite feathers. Eleven samples were found in all, and provide what seems like a great cross-sample of the varieties of dinofuzz in existence then.
- Media Matters: News Corp. Outlets Attack Obama Over Paper Clip
Fox & Friends and the New York Post are very upset that President Obama used a paper clip to hold together a document. Seriously. This is not The Onion.
- New York Times: Inmate Visits Now Carry Added Cost in Arizona
Want to visit inmates in Arizona prisons? That'll cost you $25. And it could be a couple of months before your application is approved. It would be difficult to list all of the reasons why this is an awful, awful idea.
- New York Times: Obama Moves Jobs Speech After Skirmish With Boehner
"The Senate Historical Office knows of no instance in which Congress refused the president permission to speak before a joint session of Congress."
- Cato Institute: Vouchers ARE Government Money, and That’s the Problem
"There is simply no way around the fact that vouchers are government funds, subject to whatever constitutional and statutory restrictions a state may place on their use." Yup.
- CBS News: Like Every Administration, White House Defends Obama "Vacation"
President Obama has taken 38 days of vacation so far in his presidency. At this point in Bush's presidency, he'd taken 102 days of vacation.
- Rick Perry’s Texas A&M Transcript
Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry's academic record is on par with President Bush's—which is to say, very poor—but perhaps most telling is the "D" that he earned in Principles of Economics. That's about right.
- Los Angeles Times: Missing Iraq money may have been stolen, auditors say
How could we have known that shipping 21 C-130s to Iraq full of $12,000,000,000 in cash to be distributed without any sort of bookkeeping or audit trail would end badly? I mean, who could have forecast such a thing?
- Wall Street Journal: Perry Points to ‘Idiotic’ U.S. Rule That Doesn’t Exist
In Rick Perry's imaginary United States, things are going very badly indeed. No doubt he has some imaginary solutions to propose.
- New York Times: Policy Changes Under Two Presidents
This chart of new costs versus savings under Presidents Bush and Obama is really striking. The total cost of Obama's new policies comes to $1.44T. Bush's? $5.07T. Just his tax cuts alone cost more than Obama's policies, at $1.8T. Once you figure in two wars, TARP, and the stimulus, we're talking about a great deal of money indeed.
- Wikipedia: States Rights Gist
CSA Brigadier General States Rights Gist, born in 1831, had a father who felt very strongly about politics. His family, from South Carolina, called him "States." He died at the Battle of Franklin, in 1864.
- Library of Congress: Soldier’s Joy
This tune has been played on nearly every instrument known to man since at least the late 1700s, which is as far back as historians have traced it. The version with lyrics dates only to 1957, when Jimmy Driftwood wrote them. Nearly every version that I've heard has been instrumental. Courtesy of the LoC, you can even hear a 1938 recording of Albert Gore and his band performing it at the National Folk Festival. If you're not familiar with Gore, you'll at least know of his son, Vice President Al Gore.
- Talking Points Memo: White House—We Thought We Were Down To The Details
Turns out the real reason that Boehner walked out on Obama on Friday is because Boehner demanded a repeal of the individual healthcare mandate. Which, ironically, would actually have worsened things, since the individual mandate will significantly reduce federal spending.
- New York Times: Some Parents of Gay Children Push for Marriage
I really enjoyed this article about the normalization of gay marriage having led to parents saying "OK, fine, you're gay, and now gay marriage is legal, so what's the holdup?" Gay or straight, kids are going to get nagged about marriage by their parents.
- UC Berkeley: Agonized pose tells of dinosaur death throes
So many fossilized dinosaurs were preserved in the same position: head and neck pulled backwards, bent halfway down the back. There has long been a standard explanation for this—drying tendons and ligaments pulled them into this shape—but attempts to simulate this in animal corpses have all failed. A new theory is that this is consistent with damage to the central nervous system, specifically damage to the cerebellum, perhaps through infection from algal blooms.
- AP: October 2010 Newsletter
It was only last fall that the Associated Press stopped distributing their news via satellite and moved to an internet-based distribution system. Wow.
- GitHub: nysenatecio/OpenLegislation
The New York Senate's online legislative repository is available on Github. Very impressive.
- Reuters: It pays to be Murdoch. Just ask US gov’t.
Over the past four years, not only has News Corp. not paid income taxes, they've actually gamed the system to collect $4.8B in tax refunds. Murdoch has 152 subsidiaries spread among tax havens throughout the world, and uses them to make *us* pay *him*, via our government.
- The Daily Beast: Debt Crisis Deepens as Eric Cantor, GOP Propose New Cuts
Eric Cantor proposed to the president that college students start making payments on student loans immediately, rather than waiting until graduation. Apparently Cantor doesn't know any actual college students. To his credit, the president responded, "I’m not going to take money from old people and screw students."
- PolitiFact Virginia: Jamie Radtke says George Allen had 40,000 earmarks while senator
Does anybody take this woman seriously anymore?
- CNN: Conservative group sues over bin Laden death photos
Although I think it would be politically unwise and generally disgusting to release the photos of Osama bin Laden's corpse, I think there's a good argument to be made that the federal government is obliged to release them in response to a request, under FOIA.
- Mother Jones: Huckabee Adviser—Obama is a Soviet Spy
Janet Porter, Mike Huckabee's top advisor, claims that President Obama is a Soviet sleeper agent, created for the purpose of overthrowing the US from within. Somebody should break the news to her about the USSR.
- Slate: More than half of Republican voters still doubt President Obama was born in the U.S.
34% of Republicans are convinced that the president was not born in the United States. I think this gives us a good baseline of the percentage of the Republican Party that is racist and/or mentally ill. Another 18% just aren't sure, a bloc that I think we can just chalk up as dumb and/or ignorant. The leading presidential candidate among this choice group? Sarah Palin.
- New York Times: Like Magic, Great Sports Nicknames Are Disappearing
The heyday of nicknames was the early twentieth century. Looking at my grandmother's high school yearbook last week, I was surprised to see that the majority of her classmates went by a nickname—boys and girls alike. Now they're pretty uncommon. Why? Probably because of the increasing diversity of given names. The Times points out that, in 1956, the ten most popular names for boys went to a third of all boys. The top ten names given in 2010 were bestowed to 8.4% of all newborn boys. Nicknames are necessary when a group of friends has three Davids, three Daniels, and four Michaels. Now that our name pool is less homogenous, we just don't need them.
- Daily Progress: New poll shows Obama approval hits 60 percent
Most Americans agree that President Obama should be reelected. Two thirds agree that he's a strong leader who keeps us safe. Most approve of his handling of the economy, most approve of how he's handling unemployment, and almost half agree that the country is headed in the right direction.
- Snopes: Obama Lends $2 Billion to Brazilian Oil Company
Heard the one about how the President Obama is spending billions on offshore drilling…in Brazil? Snopes rates it “mostly false.” This is another case of conservatives getting riled up about something that's not true and dates from President Bush's time in the White House.
- ThinkProgress: Exxon Makes $30.5 Billion, So GOP Votes Unanimously To Give Them Tax Breaks
All the Republicans and 7 Democrats in the House voted to block a bill that would cut $1.8B in annual subsidies to the oil industry. Republicans voted unanimously to keep them in March, too. Remember, kids: welfare is bad, unless it's going to the world's most profitable industry.
- NASA: Results of Epic Space-Time Experiment
I love theoretical physics. Albert Einstein came up with all of these ideas about how space and time should work, based solely on doing math on paper, and as science catches up with him, we keep finding that he's right. In this case, Einstein forecast that mass should curve spacetime. For instance, the mass of Earth should cause the very fabric of the universe to twist and warp around it. By launching some gyroscopes into space seven years ago—containing the most perfect spheres ever made—and observing how their spin drifts, it was observed that Einstein's calculations were spot-on. NASA's work on the project began 47 years ago, culminating in this magnificent confirmation of how the universe works.
- Virginian Pilot: Large alligator spotted near NC-VA state line
Global climate change means alligators are marching northward, clear to Virginia. Ken Cuccinelli should go for a swim in the Pasquotank River with seven feet of global warming hoax.
- The Washington Post: The shocking truth about the birthplace of Obama’s policies
Ezra Klein's sensationalist headline aside, it's a fact that the president's agenda is substantially consistent with standard Republican positions in the early nineties. Cap-and-trade, an individual mandate for healthcare, and mixing tax increases and spending cuts for deficit reduction—all sensible conservative positions that Republican leaders are hysterically insisting are the stuff of communism. Conservatives eager to pretend that Obama is a "socialist" or a "Marxist" have tacked so far to the right—giving the president a wide berth—that they're left with Donald Freaking Trump as the most likely get to the the Republican nomination.
- Future Journalism Project: Who Pays Teachers Best for their Time?
A ranking, by country, of how much teachers work and their salary. Teachers in the United States work more than in any other ranked nation, but are paid the fifth-lowest amount.
- Public Policy Polling: A deeper look at the birthers
A 2009 "birther" poll of North Carolina residents found that 6% believe that Hawaii is not part of the United States, while 4% just aren't sure. That's one in ten North Carolinians who are not aware of one of the most fundmental facts of our nation.
- St. Petersburg Times: Can a complete novice become a golf pro with 10,000 hours of practice?
Malcolm Gladwell wrote in "Outliers" that it takes 10,000 hours of experience to become great at something. This 31-year-old is giving it a whirl, intending to spend 10,000 hours playing golf—a game in which he has no interest or abilities—over the next six years, with the intention of becoming a professional golfer with a permanent spot on the PGA Tour. He's 1,400 hours and one year into this grand experiment.
- Willamette Week: 9 Things The Rich Don’t Want You To Know About Taxes
The effective tax rate on the 400 wealthiest Americans is 16.6%. The top 1%? They pay 23%. Remember John Paulson, the hedge-fund manager who made $9,000,000,000 by betting against the housing market? He paid exactly $0 in taxes on that. That's because hedge-fund managers don't have to pay any income taxes—congress exempts them. That must be nice for them.