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Ten years ago.



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.

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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.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A reminder about polling statistics...

As I type, Chris Matthews is going on about the implications of Donald Trump and him being number two nationally and in Iowa among Republicans.

"Number Two" is not a weighted figure like baseball MVP voting, where your first choice gets 5 points from you, your second choice gets 4 points, and so on. "Number Two" only means that you are the candidate who gets the second highest number of first choice votes. As other candidates drop out, their supporters will gravitate to other candidates, and Trump may or may not get his "fair share" of the left-overs. You can make some predictions: in 2008 Dodd and Biden were splitting the vote of a specific segment of voters and when Dodd dropped out I'm guessing some of them went to Biden. (This candidate switching speculation is an even greater wildcard in a very crowded field.)

That's the dynamic. It would be great if a polling company asked people who their second and third choices would be, but I don't know if anyone is. (I am not in my company's polling division, my clients are in transportation.)

From a data standpoint there are some cool things you can do with information like that, but I'm not going into that.

Suffice to say that Trump being number two could well be a fragile, transitory situation.

Link | Comments | 8:03 PM

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

De Blasio v. Cuomo.

The difference in visions between Bill de Blasio and Andrew Cuomo regarding what NYC should be was readily apparent early on. De Blasio wanted to fund pre-K by taxing the rich; he had a different view of how much sway charter schools should be given. Heck, de Blasio even had trouble getting permission from Albany on reducing speed limits in residential areas and around schools to 25 MPH. Andrew Cuomo never seemed to care about the people of NYC; perhaps he regretted becoming governor via AG instead of getting his mayoral jollies out of his system first.

When Cuomo was pursuing reelection and de Blasio endorsed him over Zephyr Teachout -- in the midst of Cuomo showing no genuine interest in rooting out corruption, and after having been lethargic over a Democratic majority in the Albany legislature -- it was pretty much seen as de Blasio playing the odds and feeling NYC would hurt if he pissed Cuomo off. (IIRC Teachout kind of acknowledged that in a Daily Show interview after her primary loss, although her words were not specifically about Bill de Blasio. Seeing as how Teachout registered record-high votes as a primary challenger to an incumbent, it's natural to wonder what might have happened had de Blasio endorsed her instead of Cuomo.)

The disagreements go on constantly and are impossible to avoid, and last week (I think) an "unnamed" person high in Cuomo's administration (rumored to be Cuomo himself) laid a flaming pile of dog defile at de Blasio's doorstep. (The alliteration was not planned.)

De Blasio has fired back, without hiding behind a cloak of "senior official."

If this is the kind of comity you achieve after endorsing Cuomo, what could you expect of you hadn't? This is pretty much close to zero as it is. New York was short-changed by Cuomo's first term (in which he'd promised to root out corruption), and we continue to be. De Blasio was defrauded by Cuomo. It's really too bad he didn't take the bold step of endorsing Teachout.

Link | Comments | 10:28 PM

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Not sure what to do with Obama.

We had so many hopes for his Presidency, all that change-y stuff. Right now it's abundantly clear that his second term is proof of a presidency in free fall. It's really too bad America didn't opt for Romney in '12; but America didn't and now we have a country in the doldrums, and nothing positive is happening. We really blew it by not electing Romney: with the Republicans in the majority in both legislative chambers. just THINK abut how much we could get accomplished if a Republican was in the White House.

Link | Comments | 6:10 PM

Thursday, June 25, 2015

That moment when the GOP dodges a bullet.

No preamble or long discussion necessary about the SCOTUS finding on Obamacare, you already know all that. But here are some of the ways it benefits the GOP.

  • All those prior attempts to "repeal" Obamacare can be used as evidence that they tried, they really did, but you can't impeach the SCOTUS and it's out of their hands.
  • They no longer have to do the hard thinking of coming up with an alternative to ease the loss of insurance subsidies which Obamacare offered.
  • They never said what their transition plan would be, so it was never put under serious scrutiny. ("First, assuming the can is open...")
  • Hell, they no longer have to try to pretend to come up with a program with features which were immensely popular (preexisting conditions, etc.)
  • They can STILL talk about the onset of Communism and raise money off it, and use the composition of the SCOTUS as an argument in every Presidential election.

I actually think this decision works well for them as well as the nation as a whole. However, there's that little thing about the precious few days in the House's recent legislative calendar (geared far more to fund raising than governing) and how many of them were spent on one fruitless repeal effort after another. It was silly as it happened, and it's even sillier now. The Don Quixote tilting at windmills allusion actually is wrong (he imagined he was fighting giants, not stupidly applying himself to futile challenges). As much as I love to use well-known literary references to reframe a discussion, I can't think of one which captures the misbehavior of the Republicans over something so fundamentally good as helping people keep healthy. It didn't matter if it was a government program; it was an arms-crossed approach to everything Obama -- the design mirrored ideas put forth by Republicans. And the pettiness is even more clear if you consider the responses of the RWNJs to the healthy initiatives of the FLOTUS. Nanny state!!

Link | Comments | 9:11 PM

Monday, June 22, 2015


It's not that there hasn't been anything to write about, it's that there's been too much to write about during a busy period at the day job. Where could I begin, and do anything its justice?

Obviously Charleston has been on my mind (and presumably yours). I confess that it put me in a helluva funk, just as I was after Sandy Hook. Each was inconceivable in its own different way. But I'm going to write about Obama's choice of words and the conservative reaction to it. Because while Obama was citing the use of "nigger" as an example, the absence of quotes in the transcripts I saw showed me how little imagination listeners have. Did Obama really need to hoist his hands and do air quotes for America and RWNJ's understand how he was using it?

It being Father's Day yesterday, I had further occasion to remember precious parenting moments. One had to do with exposing our daughter to the word "fuck." This was at a pretty young age, maybe 5 or 6, and she may have already heard it. But I wanted to stress that there were some times when it's use could be understood, even if not accepted. One was on the Utopia tune "Hiroshima," where the narrator of the song sang "Don't you ever forget; don't you ever fuckin' forget." The other was also rock-related, that moment in U2's "Rattle and Hum" where Bono screams into the mike "Fuck the Revolution." I really wanted her to understand that there are times when anger and a need to communicate in primitive terms swamps any priority for decorum.

And I also remember a walk home from school, when she was in first grade. Checking on her development and acculturation, I asked her what the worst word she knew was. "Dad, I can't say it, it's really bad." Pushing on, I said, "I'm not asking you to actually say it, I'm asking you to mention it, like as an example." "Dad, it's really bad." Girding myself, I pressed on, "It's OK, I understand." She looked at me and said "'Goony bird.'" I was grateful, and assured her that it is truly a bad word, no one calls anyone that, it would be frowned at work in any meeting.

I kind of doubt that the people at Faux News really think that Obama was "using" the n-word and not just citing it. But that's where their bread is buttered, and that's how they're going to play it. And since it got them their McMansions, they're going to argue about their sincerity until they're blue in the face.

And by the way, you should read the book "Confederates in the Attic." Right now.

Link | Comments | 9:06 PM

Sunday, June 7, 2015

If only Obama would schmooze more.

Digby has a post highlighting a new form of government shutdown from the Republican-led Senate: no more new Federal judges that aren't approved by Republican senators. Approval from Democratic senators is no longer enough; it's a return to the whole 3/5ths thing, sort of. It's also an effort to stall until January 2017, when (they believe) there will be a Republican POTUS.

This is how Republicans govern. If any RWNJ talks to me about Obama "Chicago-style politics," they'd better have their flood insurance all paid up, because it is going to rain.

Link | Comments | 8:47 AM

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Ah, George Pataki.

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.

Link | Comments | 7:23 PM

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Good news, Jerks are not in short supply.

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.)

Link | Comments | 7:28 PM

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Force a narrative, find a hammock.

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.

Their interest in writing off Bernie Sanders is nothing more than this year's model.

Because thinking and typing is hard work.

Link | Comments | 8:05 PM

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Music you won't hear on tonight's Mad Men finale.

Although I wish.

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.

Don't hold your breath for any Badfinger.

Link | Comments | 7:44 PM

Lindsey Graham would never cease to amuse...

if only his topics were suitable for frivolity:

"I blame Obama for Iraq, not Bush."

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.

Link | Comments | 5:56 PM

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Priceless, apparently.

We could learn a lot from the Lax Kw’alaams Band.

I say we should put them on tour to teach everyone what for, and then... while they're away... Mr. Burns...

Link | Comments | 7:29 PM

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Rationalizing missteps.

It used to be that our only choices were the leader was a liar or stupid. And we usually concluded that we didn't need to know what it actually was, because the effect was the same.

So now we have to add "I'm a bad listener".

Not sure how well that will work out when you're surrounded by people looking to please, who have an eye on the revolving door.

Link | Comments | 7:33 PM

Sunday, May 10, 2015

SOMEbody needs to say the Emperor is butt-nekked.

THIS time it was ... drum rolllllll... wait for it... Chris Wallace.

Link | Comments | 10:38 PM

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The plight of immigrant workers.

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."

Link | Comments | 12:32 AM

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Celebrate an ascending star?

The Body Electric, by Hurray For The Riff Raff.

NPR named this song Political Song of the Year for 2014.

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.

Link | Comments | 7:42 PM

Friday, May 1, 2015

Decent movement in the "justice" arena today.

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.

Link | Comments | 6:37 PM

Saturday, April 25, 2015

US needs to amp up its public participation.

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.

Link | Comments | 3:48 PM

Thursday, April 23, 2015

How not to get things done.

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.

Link | Comments | 6:51 PM

Sunday, April 19, 2015

"President Lindsey Graham."

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.

Link | Comments | 7:04 PM

Monday, April 13, 2015

Eat your vegetables.

Link | Comments | 11:16 PM

Kudos to Hamilton College.

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.

They really did a super job.

Link | Comments | 7:36 PM

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