First Calvary Cemetery; Sunnyside, Queens. Cemeteries.
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.
Current standings for our weekly Set competition (2013):
14 weeks called.
Leslie won week 49.
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.
There are obvious comparisons you could make between Michael Torke and Philip Glass, but once you get past the use of repetition I think you'll see he's different. Explore YouTube, this was just one where there was an actual performance. On to other stuff.
Businesses would thrive if there weren't so many bothersome government restrictions.
This is a well-known, indisputable fact. Except when it's Republicans who want to push through the regulations. Although the FAA has approved the use of cell phones on planes, some Republicans want to block them. Apparently they're not content with allowing the airlines what makes the most sense for them; you could imagine sectioned cabins where cell phone use wasn't permitted, or airlines which proudly proclaimed that they did or didn't allow them. Some airlines might take the step of renting out noise-reducing headsets. It's just flat out weird that Republicans would see this as an area where government should intervene in what is basically a creature comfort issue.
Increase the minimum wage to a level where someone who works 40-50 hours a weeks is no longer in poverty? Nah, that's oppressive. It just is.
With Detroit having a clearer path to bankruptcy, and the "opportunity" to shaft city employees who relied on pension promises (many of whom don't even have Social Security), a lot of the media discussion has focused on other municipalities and states who are similarly concerned about their pension obligations and might consider Detroit some kind of pioneer.
That in itself is bad, but it's also short-sighted.
The further effects will be seen in future collective bargaining agreements. No longer will a city be able to use pension benefits as a guaranteed carrot to ask a union to forego or limit a pay increase. It will again become pay as you go. In a way, this is good, because it asks cities and their citizens (or those who work there) to pay now for current services. But at the same time it reduces flexibility; balanced budgets are nice in concept, but there needs to be flexibility. Families can borrow. Corporations can borrow. Countries can borrow.
The Republicans started this wonderful meme that public employees are overpaid; they're not. And we can all expect the unions to bargain harder for salaries now, because that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is shakey.
And your asses goodbye, I guess. Detroit has been given approval to proceed to bankruptcy, which would allow it to shunt pension obligations. Of course there are other obligations which will be shunted along with pensions, but the issue is that city personnel who relied on the pension promise as a trade-off against fair wage increases are now being short changed. And ever single person who lived in Detroit and saw their municipal costs constrained because city employees had faith in the future of Detroit... Well, here's the ethical issue. It's not a dilemma or a conundum. Everyone who lived in Detroit, whether they stayed or they fled, they were part of a faith-bargain that city workers who had traded off raises for retirement security could confidently trust in receiving their due.
There were people who lived in Detroit and moved out. While they were there, they benefited from lower public salaries because the employees chose to seek more secure future pensions. Those who moved out basically escaped the future debt.
There isn't any kind of clawback mechanism for those who left Detroit. I'm sure they benefited from the lower public salaries, and I'm not sure how we remedy it, but this is really wrong. A lot of public servants are going to be left out in the cold.
Among the seven million stories in the naked city...
Wait, there's actually supposed to be eight million... at least, that's how many there were in 1963... Here are two items from the NYT which contribute to the perceptions of what a remarkable place this is to live.
On one hand, we have a retired typographer facing eviction from his co-op because he attempted to rent out his terrace, violating his co-op's rules and NYC laws. To me it's not that remarkable that his co-op would agressively root out those who violate the rules (the "roommate" turned out to be a private investigator), or that it's against the rules and the laws. To me the remarkable thing is that people would see themselves in such a state of need (real or imagined) that they would try to supplement their income thus. I can imagine a variety of dynamics: needing the money to continue, or perhaps having heard of "somebody" who was raking it in and not wanting to forego the opportunity. But a New York apartment is one of those rare assets which people just don't want to abandon, even if it's in their interest to do so. But this guy doesn't seem to have been a Madoff, milking the system for all he
could, and I wish we lived in a country where elders just felt more secure, and not obligated to move to Tampa.
On a less sad but far darker note, we have the tale of two guys of considerable disrepute who were basically rounded up as "usual suspects" in a murder trial and railroaded into 20 year prison sentences, pawns in a sequence of events which add up to far less than the finest work from New York's Finest. Not sure if you watch CBS's drama "Person of Interest," but last week Detective Fusco was shown admitting to an unjust killing of a perpetrator out of a sense of "he was evil, he had it coming, and who would care" (not his words, my synopsis). The concept was "the devil's share." I can't help but think that this was an element in these two guys' apprehension; they weren't on a good path, someone wanted a conviction, and whah la. Whether or not that hypothesis is true (no one has proved anything on the prosecutors or investigators, so we presume innocence), it stinks.
Lara Logan and producer put on leave of absence. (It's a start.)
Some genuinely serious fallout from CBS 60 Minutes's botched Benghazi report has begun: over at the NYT, Bill Carter reports that correspondent Lara Logan and her producer have been put on a leave of absence following an internal investigation by Al Ortiz, head of CBS Standards and Practices.
It's a good start, I guess, but one of the issues in the report is a 2012 speech she made about the attack, in combination with her journalistic responsibilities:
The report also criticizes Ms. Logan for not adequately substantiating her conclusion that Al Qaeda took part in the attack and for making a speech in October 2012 that took a position on the attack and then participating in a story in which she would have been expected to be objective about the facts of the attack.
"From a CBS News standards perspective, there is a conflict in taking a public position on the government’s handling of Benghazi and Al Qaeda, while continuing to report on the story," Mr. Ortiz wrote.
One of the complaints Ortiz made about Logan's main interview subject was that his suspiciousness was "knowable in advance," and that failure to learn about his contradicting accounts in advance is a problem. But knowledge of Logan's speech was also there in advance; someone at 60 Minutes should have cautioned her about objectivitiy as the project began, and given the whole thing above-normal scrutiny as a result. So I don't think this has gone far enough yet; I think it has to go higher than just Logan and her producer.
In newly published findings that challenge earlier research, Dalton Conley of New York University and Emily Rauscher of the University of Kansas found that having more daughters than sons and having a daughter first "significantly reduces the likelihood of Democratic identification and significantly increases the strength of Republican Party identification."
Now, the important thing to remember here is that the researchers are talking about tendencies and probabilities. It won't do to cite anecdotal cases like the Romneys (all sons) or the Obamas (all daughters) as contrarian examples -- or for that matter your family or mine. The salient examples we have are based on our circles and aren't a random representation of the populations.
Interestingly, it seems to be an interactive variable associated with socioeconomic status: the "main effect" of parenting a daughter seems limited to the upper echelons, and insignificant at the lower rungs.
There also seems to be an impact on the boys:
[T]heir findings are consistent with a recent study that found boys who grew up with sisters in the house were more likely to identify as adults with the Republican Party.
Studies like this always invite a lot of questions about what the contributing factors might be. "The authors speculate that men and women might want more socially conservative policies when they have daughters and thus be more attracted to the GOP." I'd like to know whether the presence of a daughter provoked some kind of paternalistic, protectionist response; and whether attitudes of the fathers/brothers relate to that, as well as any mitigating factors associated with the daughters. It is all, needless to say, very curious.
I think everyone in this city recognizes that its character changed under Mike Bloomberg. You'd have to be a blockhead not to see it. I'm not ignorant of the negatives, but his environmental progressiveness deserves applause. It was evident in so many ways, that so many people don't realize and haven't connected, such as congestion pricing (and when that couldn't be implemented, the creation of plazas where Broadway intersects avenues, essentially taxing drivers). Other examples which happened under his watch include:
Starting an initiative to plant a million trees;
More aggressive recycling (we now recycle all hard plastics);
Challenging buildling owners to make their roofs more energy efficient;
The introduction of bike lanes in many places in the city, overcoming routes with poor transit;
The very successful Citi-bike bike share program.
There are a lot of ways in which I expect De Blasio will be better, nor do I fear a crime wave (Kevin Drum noted that the reductions we saw in NYC when Giuliani appeared were occurring in large cities nationwide and thus not attributable to Dinkins's exit). I just don't expect him to exceed Bloomberg's record on the environment. If he can maintain it it will be enough.
(I haven't even mentioned his efforts to keep us healthier, with the large-size soft drink ban, and health advertisements on the subways. There's also a campaign to improve girls' self-esteem which strikes me as a great move.)
At San Jose State, three white roommates are charged with racist tormenting of their fourth, who is black. Racist nicknames, a Confederate flag, the N-word on the white board, fastened a bike lock around his neck.
I believe these people have the potential for reform and development and may one day recognize the wrong they've done here, but are these three actually racist? What kind of environment did they grow up in? Do their parents hold similar racist attitudes, or did they simply fail to inculcate a sense of propriety into kids who act like racists as some kind of joke?
Part of me would also like to see what kind of roommate-matching algorithm San Jose State uses (if any). I can see how a matching process might tag the three as compatible, but how would the fourth have registered as a good match? (Again, if they go through that.)
I'm actually excited about this, and not just for how it advances Obama's nominees. I'm also excited because it eliminates the round of voting that forced Senators to support a procedural vote, when they might ultimately vote for a bill that overcomes the procedural hurdle. What mean is that GOP Senators are more able to vote for what they think will be in the best interests of the country.
Here's what else the change does: it gives the GOP even more incentive to achieve a Senate majority and to win the White House. Not that they didn't have these incentives before or were deliberately shooting themselves in the foot, but that each Senate seat is more valuable now that a simple majority is more meaningful. And they might (just might) decide to be a little less extreme in their behavior as they try to win the Senate and the WH. (It will probably have greater impact on Presidential campaigns than on Senate campaigns, as I think there's greater diversity across the nation as a whole than there is in individual states.)
Some Peter Ostroushko, from Prairie Home Companion.
If you watch a lot of Ken Burns, you might have heard him before. He really plays nicely, although not exactly my style of what I want to hear on the mandolin (a bit too sentimental for my tastes, and no, I'm not into the bluegrass usage either). But he's very good and you should listen.
I was home sick today, actually genuinely sick (I never use all my sick days) and the zinc lozenges were not working as well as I want (still, we continue). I flipped on MSNBC for whatever it had on, and it was coverage of Obama's awards of Presidential Medals of Freedom. Some fairly inane conversation between Luke Russert and whoever the host was. I guess the big speculation was whether or not Obama would mention the White Sox re Ernie Banks (he got around to it). Among the nominees (many celebrities) I heard the name "Kahneman," a name I bet I haven't heard since grad school in UF's Master of Arts program in Marketing Research (32 years ago). And I said to myself (I kid you not), "wouldn't it be funny if that was the Kahneman of Kahneman and Tversky... nah, that'd never happen, they never give awards to people like him, he's probably long gone, since I read that stuff over 30 ago. Plus, I probably misheard the name. But it would be cool if Obama went through a list of celebrity nominees, and said
something like 'Can't we get some hard core academics in here? Please?'" Seriously, those were my thoughts.
At this point I couldn't tell you what was in Kahneman and Tversky. (I can tell you about Hovland and Sharif, however, and often discuss it.) I guess I'm just saying I'm glad that the awards are so diverse, and aren't just an opportunity for Obama to meet and greet celebs. Obama has an egghead side, for sure, and I have the feeling he was fascinated by everyone he awarded. I will not venture to guess whether POTUS Bartlet would have shared his time differently, as there was none of the honorees were from New Hampshire or Notre Dame.
GOP Senators have again blocked an Obama nominee from ascending to a court whose judges frequently rise to SCOTUS. It's difficult to quantify the objection: numerically the court has a light load in terms of the number of cases, but the numbers don't appreciate the complexity of the cases. It's like comparing reading Kierkegaard to reading Dan Brown; the court's load is heavy in terms of the complexities.
Yet Republicans not only look at it as if Obama is "stacking the court," but that he's (switching metaphors) putting too many batter in the on-deck circle. That of course is basically the fallacious "slippery slope" argument (if we let him have his way here, who knows what will happen next?!?)
It's beyond my understanding how the GOP Senators could take it upon themselves, relentlessly, to subvert the will of the people who reelected Obama. Can I suggest to the GOP that they go out and put something forward which might merit them getting elected?
Obama's capitulation to reality today is, honestly, an honorable thing to do. The fine print of "you can keep it" was so small you might have expected it to be used in one of those Ally bank ads where even a kid sees through the dishonesty of a bank's technicalities. The wacky part of this proposal is this, though: the only way he can guarantee that people will be able to keep their old policies is by forcing insurance companies to sell something they may not want to sell. It's not like insurance companies offered the same policies year after year as it was. Even before Obamacare, they were revising policies annually to their benefit. That's how they work.
There is an element of political savviness with this move though: it puts the onus on the insurers to offer stale policies. If they don't, then Obama can say Obamacare wasn't the problem. And if they do, he can say he fixed it.
In the meantime, we get to see the finest elements within the Republican party. You have Jonah Goldberg proudly proclaiming his glee over the difficulties (as if 45,000 people dying every year due to a lack of health insurance suits him just fine); Eric Erickson arguing that Republican effort to mitigate the problems is walking into a trap; you have Darrell Issa's deceitful selective realeases... It's all pretty unseemly from a bunch of people who would have, once, been proud to wear the mantle of the Daddy Party. If this Daddy was my neighbor, I think I'd have pretty firm rules about who I let my kids play with; these guys are no positive influence.
Sayer was one of the acts who appeared on ABC's "In Concert" show, where you set your FM stereo receiver for the audio and watched on your TV. A progressive programming idea in the early 70's, supported by acts you didn't hear on AM radio (Gentle Giant, Mott the Hoople, Roy Buchanan, Slade, and so on).
Let's all agree, Lara Logan should not be relegated to the tapioca beat.
"Not nearly far enough" is the correct way to think about how CBS 60 Minutes walked back its spectacular fail on its Benghazi report from two weeks ago, wherein it focused a segment on the "new" relevations (later found to be fabricated) of a British contractor who told CBS and a CBS-owned publisher that he was there when it all came down, while having told the FBI that in fact he wasn't.
Lara Logan is the third-to-last person I want to fault in this. She may be the person I most want to praise, in fact, given the performances of everyone else involved. I think she deserves praise because of her passion, and because journalism can't succeed without passion; a bunch of milquetoasts won't bother to seek the truth, they'll do that whole he said-she said false equivalence thing, file the story, punch the clock, and meet the team for drinks. I don't know about you, but that's not what I want out of a journalist; I want them to bring a view and a context and report a story as if they're not coming at it from the perspective of a six year old.
Yes, she has a bias. But if she's working in a responsible organization, an agenda isn't an issue. In my view, she wasn't working in a responsible organization. She needed to be Red Teamed, and 60 Minutes failed badly. And unless there's an investigation (internal or in a soon-to-be-released book) we're not really going to have a sense of how the eyes went blind. Was it simple sloppiness and dereliction of editorial duty? Was there internal pressure over the source's book being published by a CBS subsidiary? Was it "merely" an appetite for the expected ratings from the audience? (What's the age profile of 60 Minutes viewers, anyway? Murder She Wrote?)
Here's where I have a problem. Logan is above both her 60 Minutes team and her organization. By a couple rungs, I think (perhaps not leaps and bounds, that depends on how you feel about the role of self-questioning). The competitors for the lowest rung in this story are her fabricator and the 60 Minutes staff which should have red teamed the story. How do you compare a singular, lying low life source versus a vaunted news organization which you would have presumed had guidelines in place to prevent such a deceit being prevaricated not just on its staff but on its brand and its audience?
I don't know about you, but my mind pretty much boggles over the lack of control over a brand to allow such a hoax to be perpitrated. Unless the Corporate Keepers of the Brand are just as susceptible to the hoax as Lara Logan was. This is a very real possibility, in the absence of a thorough investigation. We know that much of the Right Wing was disappointed that Benghazi didn't bring Obama down. Is it possible that this was some kind of over-eager lunging at a story which supported an alter-universe story?
I don't know if I covered all I meant to, but let's not make Lara Logan walk the plank here. Her kind of energy should be encouraged in a reliable organization. Beck? No, not there. Fox News? No, not there. 60 Minutes? Can't really say any longer. Sorry.
Erect a wind farm in front of the deflating Right Wing scandal mongers.
You probably heard about the 60 Minutes report last week with a new account of what went on at Benghazi, from someone who was there at the scene? And if you spend as much time reading blogs as I do, you probably saw that the story reignited interest in the Benghazi attack, with further huffing and puffing from Lindsey Graham over getting more witnesses to testify to Congress? (Because Congress is too productive or something, I guess.)
Well, 60 Minutes now believes it was played and plans to do a correction this Sunday night.
I don't want us to lose sight of the deaths which occurred that night, but the Right Wing's efforts to affix blame have been so over the top that we are all quite fatigued with the witch hunt aspects. This guest's lying and the further posturing of the past week will doubtless add to the fatigue. At this point America only has a vague notion of what did or didn't happen, but remembers well how the GOP tried to make it an issue to block Obama's reelection. They've actually gotten in the way of justice, not helped it.