maxomai: (Default)
Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) is retiring.

What does this mean? Well:

The Good - This self-centered prick did more than anyone else to gut the most progressive elements out of Obamacare. He did this, in no small part, by dragging his feet as chair of the Senate Finance Committee. Now that he's out, the chair goes to Ron Wyden (D-OR), who's more in the center of his caucus where Baucus is more to the right.

The Bad - Montana is still a red state. Jon Tester won both his Senate elections by razor-thin margins. Markos Moulistas is drooling over the possibility that Governor Schweitzer will enter the race and hold that seat in 2014. I'm skeptical that he'll run, especially if Rehberg polls as strongly now as he did in 2011-2012 before Todd Akin opened his big mouth.

The Ugly - If Schweitzer doesn't run, that puts the Senate one step closer to Republican control in 2014.
maxomai: (Default)
So, the Senate voted today on a number of amendments to an anti-gun bill, and the end result was a string of failures that left the gun rights side elated and the gun control side fuming mad. It seems that in just a few weeks we've gone from universal background checks, to limited background checks, to jack shit.

Ultimately what we saw today was the end result of a months long battle of political wills. The gun control side had their members fully engaged but not fully organized. The gun rights side had their people fully engaged, and organized. And, despite the gun control side having better PR, the gun rights side had the better tactics this round. By choosing to fight on the issue of background checks - which should have been common ground - they made an assault weapons and magazine ban out of reach for the foreseeable future. They they made even background checks politically unpalatable. As such, not only has nothing happened, but even getting legislation that should have passed to establish universal background checks is going to take a major effort of years.

The gun control side made two major tactical blunders early in this fight.

First, they came in immediately with heated rhetoric in order to alienate people from the NRA. This had basically no effect on the gun control side, which was already engaged, but it had plenty of effect on the gun rights side, which went from demoralized and confused in December to pissed off and engaged by February.

Second, the gun control side - unwittingly - created a major example of how gun control legislation could go wrong, by passing draconian measures in New York State. Even though similar laws were never on the table, let alone feasible, on a Federal level, the notion that New York State could be repeated everywhere became a potent rallying cry.

So, that's where we're at. But, as the President, points out, this is just round one. The GOP controls the House and most of the Governors' mansions, but the Democrats probably have the White House until 2024. We've seen what the Senate can do - basically nothing. Right now, the gun control side has a better PR effort, but the gun rights side has more intensity.

In the short run, gun control is done on a federal level. There are still state measures under discussion, but we're going to see more gun rights measures pass than gun control measures. In the mid run - over the next ten years - we'll probably see universal background checks and minimum requirements for concealed carry licenses. In the long run, the tendency is toward erosion of Second Amendment rights, the last decade notwithstanding, and I think we can expect that trend to continue.

In any case, my prediction, that an assault weapons ban would not pass, has come to fruition.
maxomai: (Default)
maxomai: (Default)
Remember how Thomas Friedman helped lie us into the Iraq war? Who could forget?

Mr. Friedman has a new theory about the Iraq war. According to him, it's too early to judge what a fiasco the Iraq war was. In fact, according to Friedman, we should wait 20 years (or 40 Friedman units) to judge the war.

I would argue, on the contrary and considering how consistently wrong he and the other neocons have been about Iraq, that the smart thing to do is to go ahead and judge it - and him - right now.
maxomai: (typewriter guy wtf)
Sen. Lindsey Graham wants boots on the ground in Syria.

You know, because the good guys in the Syrian Civil War are so easy to spot.

And because invading a Middle Eastern nation has gone so well for us recently.

In fact, this idea is so stupid that it makes me think that it makes a perfect example of Dunning-Kruger-Madoff effect, where the incompetent are so incompetent that they don't realize how incompetent they are, and so are able to exude enough confidence to be taken seriously. It would certainly explain a lot that's happened since the 21st Century began.
maxomai: dog (dog)
Not sure whether to feel smug that history has proven me and other critics of the Iraq war right....

...or pissed that The Drunk and his overeducated idiot cohorts managed so blithely to fuck up so many people's lives.

In fact, there's still the none-too-insignificant problem that nobody in DC or the mainstream media wants to talk about how our foreign policy led to 9/11 in the first place....

maxomai: (Default)

  • The Syrian Civil War is a mess and there are no good guys, part one, here. This comes directly from an activist on the ground in Aleppo.

  • Feinstein's atrocious ban on magazine-fed semiautomatic longarms is strangled in the crib.

  • HRC embraced gay marriage, media swoons, anyone paying attention yawns. This would have been significant news a year ago. It isn't now.

  • Geekiest wedding ever.

  • NDD on the Cyprus crisis

  • Nate Silver's NCAA Men's Basketball Bracket. Go ahead. Bet against it. You know you want to.

  • "What you are actually doing is perpetuating rape culture by advancing the idea that a woman is only valuable in so much as she is loved or valued by a man." - More on how a common anti-rape trope is not helpful, here.

maxomai: (typewriter guy wtf)
So, we know the story about freshly minted gun control advocate Mark Kelly buying an AR-15, right? He was on his way to pick up a .45 when he saw a used AR-15 in the store. He picked up the rifle on the spot to turn it back in to the Tuscon AZ PD.

Turns out it's mostly bullshit.

And while I don't trust Brietbart, they are, for once, right about Arizona requiring police departments to re-sell guns turned over to them.

I think what's really going on is that Mark Kelly wanted an AR-15 and saw a cheap one. So he bought it. As far as I'm concerned, there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, the only thing wrong with what he did is that it shot a hole in the narrative of the gun control crowd.
maxomai: (Default)
So...how did the top 1% do after the 2008 crisis? Emmanuel Saez of UC Berkeley lays it out for us:

From 2009 to 2011, average real income per family grew modestly by 1.7% (Table 1) but the gains were very uneven. Top 1% incomes grew by 11.2% while bottom 99% incomes shrunk by 0.4%. Hence, the top 1% captured 121% of the income gains in the first two years of the recovery. From 2009 to 2010, top 1% grew fast and then stagnated from 2010 to 2011. Bottom 99% stagnated both from 2009 to 2010 and from 2010 to 2011.


Wait...what was that again?

Top 1% incomes grew by 11.2% while bottom 99% incomes shrunk by 0.4%. Hence, the top 1% captured 121% of the income gains..


Now, because the bottom 99% number is so close to zero, we would be well to heed Saez's warning:

The exact percentage 121% is sensitive to measurement error, especially the growth in the total number of families from 2009 to 2011, estimated from the Current Population Survey.
However, the conclusion that most of the gains from economic growth was captured by the top 1% is not in doubt.


Surely, we're feeling this in our lives right now. Why aren't people more pissed about this?
maxomai: (Default)
maxomai: (Default)
Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) announced his
retirement today
:

Levin, 78, released a statement Thursday afternoon saying
he made the decisions believing "I can best serve my state and my
nation by concentrating in the next two years on the challenging
issues before us … in other words, by doing my job without the
distraction of campaigning for re-election."


This seat would have been one of the safest Democratic seats in the
2014 elections. Now it's a scramble to see who might replace Levin,
and I wouldn't make any assumptions.
maxomai: (Default)
Willie
Week
has the latest on KPOJ's ratings freefall after switching
from liberal talk to sports:

Anchored by Carl Wolfson and his morning show, KPOJ was
the 22nd-ranked radio station in the 48-station Portland market. Over
its last 14 months, the station averaged a 0.8 share of the Portland
radio market, meaning that it was reaching 8 of every 1,000 people
over the age of 6 in the market.

In the four months since the switch to sports, the ratings at Fox
Sports Radio KPOJ haveshrunk to nearly microscopic size.

In January, KPOJ fell to an 0.1 share in Arbitron ratings, or 12
percent of the audience KPOJ had with Wolfson.


In other words, KPOJ dropped from a not great 1 share to a practically
nonexistent 0 share.

I understand why Clear Channel made this move. They want Oregon State
baseball and football games on their stations, they think liberal talk
was toxic to their brand, and paying Wolfson to pull in a one share
was hardly a bargain. It still doesn't change a simple fact: AM 620
used to be profitable, and right now I don't see how it justifies its
own electric bills. They'd be better off letting someone else use the
tower.
maxomai: (Default)
Quoth Miguel de Icaza, an open source hero from the 1990s and 2000s:

While I had Macs at Novell (to support Mono on MacOS), it would take a couple of years before I used a Mac regularly. In some vacation to Brazil around 2008 or so, I decided to only take the Mac for the trip and learn to live with the OS as a user, not just as a developer.

Computing-wise that three week vacation turned out to be very relaxing. Machine would suspend and resume without problem, WiFi just worked, audio did not stop working, I spend three weeks without having to recompile the kernel to adjust this or that, nor fighting the video drivers, or deal with the bizarre and random speed degradation that my ThinkPad suffered.


This matches my own experience. I dislike the feeling of vendor lock-in that comes with using a MacBook Pro, and I disagree with Miguel on WiFi "just working" - it fails on my MBP more often than I'd like. I also don't like the expense. But mostly, the MBP has been Desktop UNIX that Just Works, which is pretty much what I paid for. I can even run EVE Online easily on my MBP, which puts it light years ahead of any Linux desktop.

Linux on a server is pretty much a slam dunk; just install Debian and let it ride. But for a desktop, I definitely prefer Mac OSX. Here's hoping that Apple doesn't destroy it....
maxomai: (Default)
Because I have so many tidbits and not enough for a coherent rant. Anyway....


maxomai: (Default)
Am I the only one who thinks that Robin
Kelly's special election
has much less to do with sending a message to
the NRA than it does with the unparalleled power of SuperPACs?

Isn't that actually, you know, really scary?
maxomai: (Default)
It's Friday, and for most of us the work day is over, either just so or hours ago. Which means that we have time to sit back, relax, visit with friends, and ask ourselves that important question - who lost the week?

For my part, I believe that the Massachusetts Republican Party lost the week. I blogged about this earlier, but the Reader's Digest edition is that Scott Brown dropped out of the special election to take the Senate seat vacated by John Kerry. Before that decision, PPP had him as the front runner. Afterwards, the Republicans basically have nobody that can win that seat. Ed Markey will be the next Senator from Massachusetts if he can get his act together.

Honorable (yes, honorable mention) goes to those of us hoping for universal background checks. I believe the NRA signaled in their Senate testimony that they are going to score the vote for such background checks. If so, I think this is a stupid and pathetic move on the part of the NRA - coming out in support of universal background checks would have done something to salvage their image while contributing favorably to the problem of black market handguns in the inner cities. Unfortunately, they don't seem to agree, and so now the GOP faces a choice. They can buck the NRA and suffer the short term consequences in the next round of primaries, or stick with the NRA and suffer the long term consequences in the next few general elections. I still retain some hope that they'll do the right thing and not score universal background checks, but it's a thin hope right now.

A strong case can be made that everyone - and I mean everyone in the world - lost this week after Al Qaeda torched an ancient library in Timbuktu destroying thousands of priceless books and scrolls going back to the 13th Century. Because, you know, they have to destroy Islam in order to save it.

Dishonorable mention goes to Elect A New Congress SuperPAC, which ate the WRONG browniesposted a bizarre rant calling on people to boycott Beyonce and "this Jay-Z fellow" during their Super Bowl half time show, which said SuperPAC promises will be, and I quote, "in praise and celebration of the modern criminal police state," and, "completely at odds with liberty and in complete odds with me." This is in stark contrast to the previous year's Halftime show, which the SuperPAC founder called the "Satanic/Illuminati Super Bowl Half-Time Show.” I tuned in expecting just that, and was sorely disappointed.

Dishonorable mention also goes to Manti Te'o and Taylor Swift, jointly, for making me wonder whose love life is worse.

Another dishonorable mention goes to the People of New Jersey. As if they didn't suffer enough from Chris Christie, Hurrican Sandy, and the entire cast of the Jersey Shore, now they have to suffer one of the worst indignities of all - Geraldo Rivera running for Senate. If Jersey were a person, their autobiography would be the Book of Job.

But now I leave it to you, dear readers. Who do you think lost the week?
maxomai: (Default)
Former US Senator Scott Brown, who recently lost badly to Harvard professor and current US Senator Elizabeth Warren, was, via PPP, the front runner to win the special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by John Kerry. On the other hand, he also stood a good chance to win the 2014 Massachusetts Gubernatorial election. It all basically came down to what he wants to do.

Today, Scott Brown made his choice.

"I was not at all certain that a third Senate campaign in less than four years, and the prospect of returning to a Congress even more partisan than the one I left, was really the best way for me to continue in public service at this time. And I know it’s not the only way for me to advance the ideals and causes that matter most to me," Brown said in a statement. "That is why I am announcing today that I will not be a candidate for the United States Senate in the upcoming special election."


So, what does this mean?


  • The MAGOP doesn't really have a lot of other options to run for that seat, so whoever wins the Democratic Primary is automatically the front-runner. Right now, that person is likely to be Ed Markey, provided that he gets his shit together, fast. (Seriously, Markey, don't choke. Remember the lessons of 2010.)

  • This doesn't raise his chances to be Massachusetts's next Governor. We still have to see whether he decides to run for that seat, or to bow out of politics altogether. Honestly, I wouldn't put it past him to bow out, particularly if the conservative money just isn't there anymore.

  • Last but not least, another prediction bites the dust.

maxomai: (Default)
John Kerry is our new Secretary of State, and Governor Patrick has picked his interim replacement (Mo Cowan). The actual replacement for John Kerry needs to be chosen in a special election, and that will happen in June.

I said last month that Scott Brown, whom Elizabeth Warren defeated in November, would win this special election. PPP confirms that, if he runs, he would be the front runner.

MA-SEN
N = 763

Brown (R) 48
Markey (D) 45

Brown (R) 48
Lynch (D) 38


Markey is the stronger Democrat in this race, and he could still win with a sufficient effort. But Brown still has the edge.

In fact, I'd say that the most important factor right now in whether Brown is the next non-interim Senator from Massachusetts ... is whether he runs for Governor. And that Governor's race must look tempting.

MA-GOV
N = 763

Brown (R) 49
Berwick (D) 32

Brown (R) 48
Grossman (D) 37

Brown (R) 49
Ortiz (D) 32

The Governor's race, by the way, is not until November 2014. Meanwhile, the Senate race is in five months .. and then he has to run for that same Senate seat again in November 2014. To me, if I trust PPP, this decision is a no-brainer; but if I really, really want to be in the Senate....
maxomai: (Default)
For his first term, I give Obama a B-. This might seem like a low grade, but given his unwillingness to prosecute torture and other abuses of the previous administration, it might even be higher than he deserves.

Let's break it down:

Read more... )
maxomai: (Default)
To my mind, the big loser this week was the mentally ill of New York State. Now when they go to the shrink to talk about why they want to kill themselves or others, they end up being reported to the State. How many of them are going to put off therapy to avoid getting a black mark on their permanent record?

That said, there are a number of dishonorable mentions that are more deserving, even if they aren't losing as badly.

Take Manti Te'o for example. The Notre Dame linebacker, by far the best defensive player in college football, is on his way to the NFL and a multi-million dollar paycheck. Unfortunately, he, the Notre Dame Football organization, and the professional sports media nationwide, were all sucked in by the tear-jerking story of a brilliant girlfriend at Stanford who died of cancer. I say sucked in, because the whole story turns out to be an elaborate hoax, which was uncovered by a website earlier this week. One could argue that they are all the week's losers, and I would not disagree.

New Orleans Ex-Mayor Ray Nagin deserves dishonorable mention, of course. The former mayor, who was originally elected on an anti-corruption platform, was just indicted today - for corruption. Gotta love New Orleans.

Another huge dishonorable mention goes to the officials who oversaw the Seahawks-Falcons game. Okay, arguably the Seahawks were the loser, but the dishonor belongs to the officials, after the Seahawks lost the game, and ended their season, after a bad call gave the Falcons another shot at a missed, last-minute field goal. To put it mildly, my Facebook friends were displeased.

If you're one of thousands of people trying to purchase high capacity magazines right now, then you're a loser too, because prices are ten times what they used to be. For example: Cheaper Than Dirt had announced a few days ago that magazines were back in stock. The response crashed the website, and a few hours later, they were gone, except for a few Colt magazines selling for over $100 each. If you're one of these buyers, you might want to consider packing it up, selling your overpriced rifles and mags, and following Alphageek's advice: a lever-action .30-30 or .357 rifle with a dot sight is sufficient for your needs.

Finally, if you're one of millions of NoMeansNos fan on the West Coast, then you're one of the week's losers, too, after changes to immigration rules caused them to cancel their tour. They're promising to reschedule for later this year, but the disappointment in the maxomai household was palpable.

Who do you think lost the week?

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