Me: Frank Lynch. These are my daily rants, mostly political. For something less spontaneous, I maintain The Samuel Johnson Sound Bite Page (over 1,800 Johnson quotes), perhaps your best online resource for insight into his thinking.
DISCLOSURE: I work for Abt SRBI. We do polling, public policy research, surveys, etc. My opinions should not be construed as representing those of my employer.
first: frankplynch at gmail dot com; now delete the 'a' in my name
Bio: Born 1957, raised in Florida, moved to New York area in 1982; now live in Brooklyn. Married, with one daughter. I work in marketing research for Abt SRBI. My opinions should not be construed as representing those of my employer.
I'm not sure the clown car is big enough for all so far, much less this jerk:
NEW YORK -- About 25,000 construction workers showing support for U.S. troops in Iraq gathered Thursday near the site of the fallen World Trade Center, where many of the same working men and women dug through the rubble after the attacks on Sept. 11.
Clad in hard hats, blue jeans and workmen's boots, the ironworkers, carpenters, pipe fitters and others filled three lanes of a highway that runs along the site known as ground zero. They waved flags and chanted "USA, USA, USA."
New York Gov. George E. Pataki told the crowd: "The war started right here on September 11 of 2001."
Pataki suggested that the statue of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein toppled Wednesday in Baghdad be melted down and put in a girder in one of the new buildings planned for the ground zero site. His suggestion drew a huge round of applause.
That was April 11, 2003. And Pataki was one of the stupid yahoos continuing the conflation of Saddam Hussein and 9/11.
We were upstate this weekend for our daughter's graduation from a well-respected liberal arts college. Not naming it, because I don't want this anecdote to besmirch its reputation, hoping that the parent (?) I encountered is not representative of the parents in general.
To start, I want to take you back to freshman orientation, where parents and enrollees said their goodbyes and were shuttled off to separate sessions. At ours, the leader asked for a show of hands of all parents whose kids had graduated high school in the top half of their class. Practically all raised their hands. "You know," he said, "it's going to be mathematically impossible for all of you to do that in four years."
So let's return to this past weekend. Our daughter's school's graduation program doesn't list the graduates alphabetically; they list them alphabetically within honors tier. I gathered from those around me that this was not what others had experienced at other schools. So they started with Summa Cum Laude graduates, listing them alphabetically; and similarly with Magna Cum Laude, and Cum Laude. Followed by a group listed as "Rite." Wikipedia will tell you that "Rite" means "duly", as in, those who have earned their degrees without deserving Honors designation. Let me stress: they have earned their degrees.
I wasn't graduating, so I was in a section reserved for parents and families of the graduates. One row behind me was a couple some years older than me, but not a whole lot -- like, not older than my older brother. The couple had already gotten on my bad side by assuming that the program I'd put under my seat was theirs and took it, but graciously surrendered it after I asked. But even with that, I think I'd still have objected to the following. The woman was ignorant of the meaning of the Latin Honors distinctions and asked the man seated directly behind me what each meant. This did not rile me: this was just an issue of ignorance, and there's nothing wrong with ignorance. The gentleman dutifully translated each honors tier for her. And when she asked about "Rite" (those who had duly earned their degrees, although without honors distinction) replied, loudly, "Those are the dumb asses."
I wasn't personally offended by his joke (assuming it was a joke.. although it may have been what he truly thought). But a lot has happened in the years between when the session leader told us that all our bright kids couldn't, mathematically, wind up in the top half of the class. (And the honors group in this class was far less than half.) In the years since then we've had Occupy Wall Street and it's consciousness-raising attention to disparity; we've had Mitt Romney's horribly revealing comments about the 47 percent. We've seen articles about those attending Romney fund raisers on Long Island asking if there was a VIP line, "because we are definitely VIP."
But whether or not this guy is actually, factually, a complete jerk (jury's out), he was one row behind me. And in a tightly-packed building that's REALLY CLOSE. And without skipping a beat, not having any idea who he's around or how the parents' kids graded, he calls all the rest "dumb asses." I mean, shall we talk about socially numb? Even the lowest would scan the bar room before telling jokes about Blacks.
(As an aside, I object to the tiering in the program. Grades are only one aspect of college and the development which occurs. I, myself, don't think it should be the primary basis on which the students are listed. YMMV.)
We wisely remember the scent of "inevitability" which half-wits smelled around Hillary Clinton in 2008, including some very highly paid pundits like Smokin' Joe Scarborough. The kind of minds that really didn't want to engage with what was going on, wanted closure far too soon, and their palpable boredom with an indecisive primary process.
When "Breaking Bad" ended with Badfinger's "Baby Blue" ("guess I got what I deserved") I'd joked that the whole reason for the show, the five-year arc, was to remind America of Badfinger. Of course I never really thought that was true, but Badfinger did a dozen really fine songs ("Without You" was a huge hit for Brooklyn's own Harry Nilsson and Mariah Carey [disclosure, I was once related to her through marriage]). Pete Ham's end was just so sad.
Anyway, the last half season of Mad Men has almost seemed like a death bed reconciliation, what with ghosts of 1st season mistresses, Draper rubbing Betsy's shoulders, Bert Cooper in the passenger seat, Pete reconciling with Trudy. I have no idea if you care about this show; I do, mildly (us TV), so I'll be watching.
It's as if that whole destabilizing de-Baathification thing never occurred. Basically Bush left Obama a powder keg that was 99.5% likely to blow, and just washed his hands. Graham can't admit that, leaving us with the choice that he's either stupid or lying.
This week the New York Times had two eye-opening articles on the working conditions of manicurists and pedicurists: their labor burdens; the illegally low wages; the carcinogeric environments in which they work. The articles are stunning in regard to an underground labor market which, if not slavery, is not at all what we (I) want from the Land of the Free.
I can't encourage you enough to read these articles. NOR can I encourage you enough to extrapolate to the many services you put dollars out for in your week. Busboys? Car washers? My lens has been waved off so many times, it's obvious that I am a beneficiary of an underground, underpaid economy. You may be also.Not exactly how this can be corrected. I really think this is an area where more government oversight needs to be intelligently designed and implemented. However, we need to be aware that our friends in the GOP are firmly in favor of this only so long as treating people as people doesn't lead to "job killers."
Someone told me that the first signs of old age are in your record rack, and so I've worked to find rising acts to see at the smaller venues here in NYC. A couple weeks ago I took Ab to see Hurray For The Riff Raff at Bowery Ballroom (I must have booked the tickets three months ago, thank you BandsInTown). If you're into the concept of "rapid rise" they're at Carnegie Hall late January next year. No offense to Bowery Ballroom, but this is quite the leap; Sam Smith went from Bowery Ballroom to Madison Square Garden, but Carnegie has hosted the Beatles and Mott the Hoople. Game over.
They're touring now, and IMHO you should check them out.
A few nice things happened re justice today. It's not just the Baltimore indictments, but there was also some action Bridgegate, with David Wildstein pleading guilty and two others being indicted, AND THAT'S NOT ALL, CALL NOW AND WE'LL ALSO THROW IN RICK SCOTT.
Okay, the Rick Scott thing was yesterday. But I read about it today.
I get the politics of why Obama doesn't want to say "Armenian genocide" instead of "atrocity" while the battle against ISIS needs Turkey's help, but sending Jack Lew as our representative to a memorial is about as expressive as being content with listening to your Armenian sampler in the background while you vacuum.
We needed to send someone big to Paris, and Jack Lew wasn't enough here.
My preference is to delay addressing quick hits for as long as possible, because if they can be quickly accomplished today they can be quickly accomplished seven months from now. So why rush it, when I can monitor the viscosity of an overturned jar of heather honey ("a jelly until stirred," says Wikipedia).
Eric Holder can finally go home without putting one of those annoying "HELLO! My Name Is ERIC " stickers on his lapel as he goes in the door.
Today the Senior Senator from the Great State of South Carolina said he was "91% sure" that he'd be a candidate for 2016, aside from the fact that he hasn't done much fundraising.
I'm at 6's and 7's on this. In 2012 I felt that Rick Santorum best embodied the Republican ideals of the time, and I thought that Bill Buckley's rule for compromise (nominate the most conservative candidate who can win) was being misapplied to Romney. That is, you need your voters to turn out. Romney had the baggage of being a somewhat moderate Republican who wasn't seen as a true Republican; and on top of that he (or his campaign) said all those silly things which may ultimately have helped Democratic turnout.
Graham is not Romney, and I think he'd do better than Romney at bringing out Republican voters in 2016. But he's already got a long list of over-the-top comments, and in the back of my head I'm hearing the Catalog Aria. Biden's joke about Giuliani -- that every one of his sentences could be characterized as a noun, a verb, and 9/11 -- very much applies to Graham, so long as you switch out "9/11" for "Benghazi."
Switching just a bit, the Times tells us that the GOP Hopefuls visited New Hampshire this weekend with a strong anti-Hillary message. I can't help but wonder if a candidate couldn't stand out by taking a different tack; could one succeed by tamping down the vehemence, recognizing that Clinton had accomplishments, but seriously, Presidential Timber? "We can do better," as Bernie said for 12 hours.
Hamilton College was in lockdown mode today (a bomb threat had been called in, and there were rumors of a shooter). They deserve credit for the way they communicated to all involved. The students got early alerts to stay secure in place. They quickly evacuated the building named in the bomb threat, and basically shut down the web site so that the only active page was the home page, where regular updates were posted. Every brief update in their Twitter feed linked to the web page for more information, and updates were made regularly. If you followed a link to an internal page through Google, you were automatically redirected to the home page. I presume they used other social media networks similarly. For those who might have missed the news through online resources or texts, they made automated calls to the phone numbers on file.
I presume that the disabling of most of the web site comment content was to minimize the demand on the servers. In a situation like this people are constantly hitting refresh, and as another load limiter the html on the home page was VERY light. (A logo, a blue background, and text. Bold formatting here or there. That was it. I don't even think it called in a table.) Another benefit to eliminating most of the web site was it meant you couldn't use the web cams, and while they only have three or four last I checked, one of them is in the building where the bomb was supposedly planted. So this meant there weren't going to be any ghoulishly curious online visitors. And in addition to that, it meant that so long as there was a threat the perpetrator wouldn't be able to use the web site as an information source.