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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, July 23, 2015

Marco Rubio disqualifies himself for the presidency.

Rubio disqualified himself for the Oval Office today, during Secretary of State John Kerry's appearance on the Iran nuclear deal. (Weird thing is, it was the second time in a week in which he'd disqualified himself. The first time was when he'd said Trump's McCain insult disqualified Trump for the Oval Office, not having said anything like that over Trump's comments on undocumented Mexican immigrants.) So today:

Many of the criticisms had a hit-and-run quality.

For example, Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who serves on the Foreign Relations Committee and is running for president, derided the agreement before the members and departed promptly.

As in, he didn't stick around to hear what Kerry had to say. He oafishly grandstanded and then split. No presidential qualities there, Senator.

Link | Comments | 8:32 PM

Monday, July 20, 2015

Prison escapes and Samuel Johnson.

I read Samuel Johnson so you don't have to, but his short novel "Rasselas" (supposedly ripped out while there was a barroom brawl going on in Ye Old Cheshire Cheese, being focused on paying his mum's funeral expenses) is full of advice on how to achieve success.

The character Imlac hands out advice which, if more simply constructed, would have provided Johnson some serious greeting card income (pointing to pyramids as a sign of perseverance, for example). And then there's "The Artist" who bats down the nay-sayers on his decision to don artificial wings before he takes a belly-flop into a lake. "Nothing will ever be attempted, if all possible objections must be first overcome."

The NYT has now provided us with insight to the planning and efforts behind that prison escape you already forgot about, full of details of repeated chipping aways, etc. While they were still on the run, so many of the pundits and peeps were making Shawshank Redemption comparison, as well as the escapees, apparently. So instead of making a movie where Tim Robbins' ghost is an inspiration, how about one where the two of them are reading Rasselas?

And then, once they're dead or captured, the ghost of Johnson appears, and says "You screw ups, you should also have read my essays..."

"He that has cultivated the tree, watched the swelling bud and opening blossom, and pleased himself with computing how much every sun and shower add to its growth, scarcely stays till the fruit has obtained its maturity, but defeats his own cares by eagerness to reward them. When we have diligently laboured for any purpose, we are willing to believe that we have attained it, and, because we have already done much, too suddenly conclude that no more is to be done."

That's Rambler No. 207, of course, you recognized it. Might be in the prison library. But it would be a pretty cool movie, to have Johnson lecture them. If only to see them writhe under the hard words.

Link | Comments | 8:02 PM

I am not such a whore that I accept Trump for his potential boost to NYC tourism.

I don't doubt for a moment that there are some people who come to NYC and say, "Oh, gotta go to Trump Tower." Really, you don't gotta. Go to Eataly. Even if you're from Chicago and you have your own there, even if you're in a hotel and won't be able to do anything with your purchase until you're home, Eataly's a better retail target for you.

(As well as New Yorker's, to be honest. A trip into it was my consolation prize for some unsuccessful errands, and I bought some pancetta for dinner. I'm glad it was there, because I was bummed by my preceding three retail strikes. Eataly being nearby was like playing t-ball.

(To diverge, Batali would attract a lot of hair jokes too. Plus croc jokes.)

Link | Comments | 7:26 PM

Saturday, July 11, 2015

All's well enough.

Just been busy. I strongly encourage you to subscribe to the RSS feed in the meantime. Thanks for your patience.

Link | Comments | 5:39 PM

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Slate this into your long weekend.

I doubt you'll regret it, and it's a LOT less expensive than streaming Fare Thee Well.

Link | Comments | 9:25 PM

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

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