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An old brick building, with graffiti tags and street art posters.

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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.

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.

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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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Word blogging...

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Well. Isn't THIS interesting.

Jeb Bush financial improprieties.

Link | Comments | 6:46 PM

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Well. A good day.

It was, by any measure.

  • US-Cuba relations ease incredibly.
  • The thaw was brokered by the Pope.
  • Individual executives at the company ("Freeeeeeeeedom Industries!") that polluted the Elk River (WV) with all those horrible chemicals were indicted.
  • A judge semi-righted a wrong: throwing out the conviction of a black teen 70 years after he was executed for allegedly beating two white girls to death. (A semi here, because it's obviously regrettable this decision was ever needed.)
  • NY Governor Andrew Cuomo is going to ban fracking. (His failure to do so earlier is one factor which contributed to Zephyr Teachout getting north of 30% against him in the September primary. So we still thank Teachout.)
  • SCOTUS refuses to wade in on a case in Arizona, where the prior highest decision was yes, let immigrants the US won't deport get driver's licenses.
  • A captain at Rikers Island was convicted of violating a prisoner's civil rights, and callously letting him die. He only faces ten years, though.
  • Colombia is putting Gabriel Garcia Marquez on their money. No word on the denomination (might be Catholic, in that country, nyuk), but the hundred would be damned cool.

I have no doubt that there's bad news out there today too, but this was pretty impressive.

I hope you remember this guy from Buena Vista Social Club...

Link | Comments | 7:40 PM

Monday, December 15, 2014

Using Rolling Stone's errors to cast doubts on Cosby's accusers.

So Bill Cosby's wife defended him by citing Rolling Stone's flawed, insufficiently investigative reporting on an alleged rape at the University of Virginia campus.

I'm not going to psychoanalyze Ms. Cosby, not being trained in that field nor having repeated sessions with her. But I think it's worth pointing out that one of the major failures in Rolling Stone's reporting was that they never reached out to the accused at U Va. They made a conscious decision not to, and ran with one woman's story. On the other hand, Bill Cosby was pretty much given the benefit of the doubt for years, or, not confronted about it because of media being in denial or repulsed by a pretty serious ick quotient. It was only when a stand-up routine in Philly went viral, charging Cosby with being hypocritical in his holier-than-thou talk to American blacks, that it picked up steam. And since then, Cosby's response to the growing number of questions has been silence. Who would Ms. Cosby suggest the media speak to, to get Cosby's side of the story, other than Cosby himself?

Heck, Gary Condit spoke to ABC eventually. At length. I'm sure that if Cosby is innocent, he'd be more than willing to do a lengthy interview. He's got all those abandoned projects he could rescue.

Link | Comments | 7:38 PM

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Some Bach. But a different Bach.

One of the kids, CPE.

The joke about why Johann Sebastian Bach had so many kids is because his organ had no stops. Nyuk.

Link | Comments | 10:55 PM

Cheney's unrepentant about the torture.

"I'd do it again in a minute."

I always thought the arguments for investigation and prosecution were solid enough. But when Cheney goes on NBC's Meet The Press and tells Chuck Todd that he'd do again what he did before, are we seriously to believe that he's learned anything? The man says he would commit war crimes again. If this isn't a standard for prosecution, what is? And if nothing rises to the bar for prosecution, it's a blanket pass for all future administrations. How could anyone, right or left, be comfortable with giving future administrations a free pass? The behaviors which that would allow would take us back to the days of James I, throwing people into long term confinement willy nilly.

In a way, that's what we've done with some of the detainees.

Link | Comments | 2:54 PM

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Please, sir, I want some more.

There are few things which Americans are united on these days. I guess that's nothing to complain about, given the diversity of the country. But when Americans do unite, you would think politicians would take notice. And anger over the Wall Street bailouts was pretty clear. So if the GOP is so interested in the "American people," why is a watering down of Dodd-Frank on the table at all? Who is this for?

There are a bunch of items in the "cromnibus" which I don't like. I'm not thrilled at the campaign spending blessing for one. But the effort to weaken Dodd-Frank: it's quite apparent who has the ears of the Republicans.

(Further.) Among the cromnibus provisions is a ban on the Fish and Wildlife service classifying the Sage Grouse as endangered:

Residential building and energy development have caused the Greater Sage-Grouse population to decline from 16 million 100 years ago to between 200,000 and 500,000 today.

I bet there are some business dollars behind that one, too.

Link | Comments | 10:04 AM

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

That Old Time Feeling.

It's not just a Guy Clark song, it's that sense of deja vu, that I've thought about the Prison Ship Martyr's Monument that stands so tall in Fort Greene Park. And how the Brits' callous disregard for the lives on those ships contributed to Washington issuing his edict on the fair treatment of prisoners of war. And how long I've wished that someone from British royalty, or the PM, would take a moment in their visit to NYC and lay a wreath at the monument; not an apology, just a recognition. And Prince William and the Duchess were so close: they were at Barclays Center for a Nets basketball game, which is only six minutes away by car. 16 minutes on foot if they wanted a refreshing walk. It's not like it would have been very far out of the way.

And then that feeling that we were standing in "Mohgro Land," as it was put in The New Republic over thirty years ago -- "Mohgro" meaning "Moral High Ground" -- well, I'm reminded that it's all posturing. When Charles Krauthammer wrote that, it was after Reagan invaded Grenada, and before we started selling Stingers to Iraq Iran in order to free hostages and finance Contras under the table, skirting Congressional restrictions. The Contras, shall we say, were not nice people. So the Mohgro was taken away from us a long time ago. And Abu Ghraib of course reminded us that we were in no position to claim any moral superiority whatsoever.

Sometimes the timeline of events grows less obvious as the years fade. And out comes a report from the Blame America First crowd on our use of torture, the CIA's lying to everyone about it, and its lack of utility, and you say, Oh. Yeah. That. I'd read the books about all this (I think I was a couple feet away from VP Cheney's chief of staff on the Washington Metro) and somehow had put the grisly details about how half-baked interrogation techniques were based on defensive manuals -- that is, the practice of our enemies... And let them settle to silt at the ocean bottom of cognitive awareness. And the recollection (oh. yeah.) that people in the CIA had broken into the computers of the Senate Intelligence Committee to see how much they knew.

And you take a big gulp. And instead of wondering why Prince William and the Duchess don't go to Fort Greene Park, you say, "Gee if only the Cyclone was open this time of year they could ride that wonderful wooden roller coaster."

Link | Comments | 9:01 PM

Monday, December 8, 2014

Trick me twice, fie on me.

So it seems the big GOP donors didn't like their scattered 2012 campaign funding, and want all the big spenders like themselves to coalesce around a single establishment candidate for the 2016 nomination, in order to avoid wasted investments and an embarrassing internecine fight. I get that, and I get the sense of that desire, but for that to happen most of the top tier candidates are going to have to show willingness to find a shadow that they can retreat to and happily grow mushrooms. (Oh, by the way, I've been to Kennett Square, and can report back it's not big enough to contain most politician's egos.)

Which mogul gets to tell the other candidates to stand down?

The other leaky part of this desire is the idea that the fringe-ites won't be just as embarrassing to the party in the debates. Or that the party stalwarts who come out to vote on primary day will blithely accept a candidate anointed by a bunch of cigar smokers. It seems to me to be a match that lights a fuse and leads to revolt, or weak turnout in November. I can imagine a giant "Feh" from people who feel they were told "you will vote for this candidate and you will like it." But if the rich peeps think this is the path to victory, let 'em try. Go ahead, it's a free country, but I wouldn't want to be in the position of having to tell a bunch of hard core RWers to open wide.

Link | Comments | 6:59 PM

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

From the borough that reelected charged crook Congressman Michael Grimm.

So as you probably know by now, a Staten Island grand jury decided against indicting a police officer whose illegal choke hold contributed (at the very least) to the death of Eric Garner, who not only made the mistake of committing a petty misdemeanor, but also decided to be black. I should be clear: there is nothing in any of the fairly obvious video evidence that suggests anything racial occurred at the time of Garner's arrest, but it's quite possible that the culture of the NYPD still makes racism and the abuse of authority a popular behavior to some in its ranks. I'm choosing my words very carefully here, because I don't want anything I write to be interpreted as a blanket condemnation of the NYPD. So many on the force are upright citizens and law enforcers.

And it's no slight against the force to say this: the grand jury's decision is unfathomable to an outsider. The video is pretty compelling and persuasive. So what, ostensibly, went "wrong"? Did the DA do some kind of punt, like in Ferguson, presenting both sides of the case and asking the panel to make up their own minds and suggest hypotheses, rather than pursuing a prosecution? Or is this somehow a case where the DA made a strong argument, but it was picked apart in deliberations?

It's unfathomable. And I don't think it will truly be understood unless we're given an inside view of what the DA presented; or what happened in the deliberation room. As unfair as I think the decision is, I'm not convinced our longer term interests in justice are better served by sunlight in the deliberation room; that's supposed to be a process where jurors can talk as they are, without posturing or concern that they will be second-guessed. The plus of that visibility is its downfall: a juror might begin to think of themselves as needing to represent the interests of broader society (being visible), but at the same time that broader society could be wrong, not having heard the evidence or having been unduly influenced by media and neighbors. I just don't think our astonishment and curiosity trumps that longer term interest in secrecy.

Even as unfair as it seems, as outraged as so many of us (me, too) are over this. Change will need to happen outside of the jury room, before the deliberations start.

Lord, what a long road we set ourselves upon. But the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step: and the potential jurors across the land might recognize the strangeness of this Staten Island grand jury's decision, and rethink their attitudes about police recklessness.

I can accept the need that I must remain ignorant about all the details of the grand jury's decision. But I can't accept the idea that decisions like this will continue so often.

Link | Comments | 8:06 PM

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Can we have more tone deaf Republicans, please?

This morning, on a Thanksgiving Weekend edition of MSNBC's "Up With Steve Kornacki," a number of segments were given over to speculation about what might occur, rather than discussing what actually happened. Kinda sorta expected, given that the US news cycle ended mid-day Wednesday, and Kornacki isn't really likely to spend any time on David Cameron's new immigration policy. So there were discussions about Charlie Cook saying Hillary Clinton is unlikely to run, what Obama might face agaisnt the Supreme Court, as well as a segment on the Obama daughters behavior at the turkey pardon and the reaction of a GOP aide no one had ever heard of and won't remember tomorrow.

And there was also this, a discussion with Stephen Moore of the Heritage Foundation about whether or not ex-HP CEO Carly Fiorina might run for the GOP nomination for President in 2016.

Did you watch the clip? Did you hear that? Where Moore says Fiorina has "sex appeal"? Three out of three jaws dropped in our living room, but I then gave him the benefit of the doubt and said he probably meant gender appeal, that is, a bridging of the gender gap. I thought that was appropriately generous on my part. Because no one would really be as stupid as John Hinderaker behaved when he used to gush over how Sarah Palin looked when she threw out a puck in a 2008 NHL game ("like a million bucks"). But my benefit of the doubt was for naught: moments later, in listing her pluses, he said she was "attractive."

A major reason the GOP didn't take over the Senate before 2014 was thanks to extremist candidates like Akin, O'Donnell, and Angle, who said patently stupid things. Fiorina might be a fine candidate, although if people are pushing her because of business acumen at HP that's contestable. I just think someone like Moore had better stay away from the microphones (and smart phones) if he hopes to see her elected.

Link | Comments | 6:10 PM

Friday, November 28, 2014

So much of this isn't news.

An openly gay rugby referee supports banning fans who abuse gays.

Openly gay referee Nigel Owens has welcomed the ban of two people for shouting homophobic abuse at him during England's loss to New Zealand.

The Welsh official, 43, who is the first openly-gay man to referee at the highest level, said he would be willing to meet the supporters.

"I'd tell them to think twice about saying things," Owens told BBC Radio 5 live.

"They go to the stadiums, get drunk and think its fine to shout abuse."

The list of non-news items could be long. Here are a quick few...

  • Fans get drunk and behave differently than they would at the office.
  • There are gay referees in rugby.
  • An openly gay referee supports banning fans who shout gay slurs.

Here are some events which might make this story more newsworthy.

  • If other referees (closeted gay or straight) said similar things. A la Pee Wee Reese supporting Jackie Robinson openly.
  • Quotes from fans making similar points.
  • Owens listing the fan abuse along with other despicable behaviors, but maybe that's a function of the conversation.

I always felt (and still do) that if Hollywood were really pushing a "Gay Agenda" (whatever that is) they'd weave in a side reference to a couple into a conversation ("Us? Paul and I are headed to the Catskills for the weekend.") I always felt that approach was better than making it a plot element. But no, they don't take that approach, so therefore there is no Gay Agenda.

(PS: 1, I have not seen Modern Family. 2, Paul is not his real name.)

Link | Comments | 6:44 PM

Tuesday, November 24, 2014

This song never gets old. (Part the infinity.)

Eric Burdon and the Animals (as such), Sky Pilot.

Link | Comments | 10:21 PM

Monday, November 23, 2014

And then a window breaks...

"I'm so old," as Atrios would say, returning to a running gag, that I remember how The Whites was in fear that Spike Lee's "Do The Right Thing" would provoke Actual. Riots. And they didn't occur, oddly, as if The Blacks didn't get the memo about how they were supposed to behave.

And I remember some Friday afternoon after "Rodney King" (the verdict? not sure) there was some kind of Al Sharpton march with a planned route across the Brooklyn Bridge, but "somewhere" in Brooklyn the glass of a store front window was rumored to have been broken, and the The Whites in Manhattan seeing a two-item syzygy (fear of The Blacks, and Hey It's Friday) abruptly decided to start the Weekend early. (Note to remember, you can always connect a straight line between two points, which is why syzygy requires three, and perhaps also why there's the journalism cliche that you need three for a trend.)

I stayed at my desk that Friday afternoon. I don't think I had a deadline or anything, but you know, tulips and all that. And nothin'.

UPDATE: You probably know by now that there was significant rioting in Ferguson last night following the announcement that the grand jury chose not to indict officer Darren Wilson. Peace did not prevail.

Link | Comments | 7:14 PM

Sunday, November 23, 2014

How do you solve a problem like Maria?

Er, Lindsey Graham:

"I think the [Benghazi] report is full of crap," Graham told Gloria Borger on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday.


Graham, who has maintained a critical voice in the Benghazi controversy over the past two years, says it's "garbage" that the report finds no members of the Obama administration lied to cover up what happened in Benghazi.

"That's a bunch of garbage," Graham said. "That's a complete bunch of garbage."

This is now the seventh report to come out on Benghazi, and this one, like the others before it concluded that there was nothing to see, move on. Yet Graham refuses to bow to consensus; he must think he's some kind of Galileo making now-accepted claims about the orbits of the planets. I don't know what he thinks he is, really, but Galielo had a scientific argument. A lot of more appropriate similarities occur to me. Ahab chasing a whale. Queeg.chasing strawberries. Quixote taking on windmills.

Graham might have seen himself as Burke, taking on Hastings, righting a huge wrong. Burke chewed up a lot of political capital doing so. Graham seems to have used his pursuit to his advantage, however, and he clearly doesn't like have the rug pulled out from under him.

He deserves it.

Link | Comments | 4:27 PM

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