Archive for October, 2012

Playing music for the joy of it? What a radical thought!

Good musicians — good young musicians — are making fine music these days, even if it’s sometimes hard to get noticed in this hyper-fragmented media world. You may have heard a song or two from tonight’s group, the Lumineers, out of Colorado, (this one has become an ad soundtrack) but they’re consistently good, and they play because they just love the music.

Just watch. It’s infectious.

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Hurricane Sandy: ‘Beyond strange … unprecedented

Source: The Weather Channel

Source: The Weather Channel

Looking at the predictions regarding Hurricane Sandy, I’m reminded of the horror and awe I felt looking at the satellite pictures of Hurricane Katrina before it reached shore, knowing the damage and destruction it seemed certain to cause.

Only there’s a chance this might be worse:

“We looking at one of the worst storms on record that we’ve seen in this region.”

– Carl Parker, hurricane specialist for The Weather Channel

Brian Norcross of the National Weather Service writes on his Facebook page:

“Isn’t it strange that a hurricane in the Bahamas would somehow turn into a monster mega-storm and slam into the Northeast at the end of October? Aren’t hurricanes supposed to weaken as they move north over cold water? What the hell is going on?

The answers are… yes, yes, and we’re not completely sure. This is a beyond-strange situation. It’s unprecedented and bizarre. Hurricanes almost always bend out to sea in October, although there have been some …

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Colin Powell endorses Obama; Sununu, McCain go nuts

Obama Powell

Yesterday, Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama for president, explaining that he believes the incumbent has done a good job on the economy given the situation he was handed. As a former secretary of state and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Powell also took serious issue with the foreign policy stances of Obama’s opponent, Mitt Romney, saying that ” I’m not quite sure which Governor Romney we would be getting with respect to foreign policy”:

“One day he has a certain strong view about staying in Afghanistan, but then on Monday night he agrees with the withdrawal. Same thing in Iraq. On almost every issue that was discussed on Monday night, Governor Romney agreed with the President with some nuances. But this is quite a different set of foreign policy views than he had earlier in the campaign. And my concern, which I’ve expressed previously in a public way, is that sometimes I don’t sense that he has thought through these issues as thoroughly as he should have, …

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The right wing is losing its last two marbles over Benghazi

Former Secretary of State Condi Rice went on Fox News Wednesday to discuss the Obama administration’s handling of the Benghazi attacks. Given her background and experience, she actually knows a thing or two about such issues, and it showed in her comments.

“When things are unfolding very very quickly, it’s not always easy to know what’s going on on the ground…,” she told Greta Van Susteren. “There’s a big picture to be examined here but we don’t have all of the pieces and I think it’s easy to try to jump to conclusions about what happened here. It’s probably better to let the relevent (investigative) bodies do their work.”

“The problem is when there is a fog of war like this, there are a lot of competing stories coming in, there’s a lot a competing information coming in, and it takes a little while to know precisely what has happened,” she went on to explain.

Even now, a month later, what Rice refers to as “the fog of war” has yet to lift. It took 10 days after the attack to …

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Jobless claims fall; new-home sales up 27% over a year ago

From Reuters:

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week, giving a clearer sign that the labor market is healing after wild fluctuations in claims data at the beginning of the month.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted 369,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

The prior week’s figure was revised slightly higher to show 4,000 more applications than previously reported.

A Labor Department analyst said all states submitted data for the report and that there was nothing unusual in the raw data. The analyst said the data showed no signs of the factors that had appeared to generate sharp swings in the claims reading over the prior two weeks.”

From the WSJ’s Marketwatch:

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Sales of new single-family homes in the U.S. rose in September to the highest rate in more than two years, according to government data released Wednesday that confirms the improving picture in …

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The no-holds-barred effort to defeat Obama

Armstrong Cable, the nation’s 15th largest cable company, operates in six states, including Ohio and Pennsylvania. Earlier this month, for the first time in company history, it decided to offer all of its subscribers free access to a recently released movie. In the past, it has always charged subscribers to see such movies.


The film in question? “Obama’s America: 2016.”

“There is no agenda here,” Dave Wittmann, Armstrong’s vice-president of marketing, told the Pittsburgh CityPaper.

Maybe not. However, it’s interesting to note that last month, Jay Sedwick, Armstrong’s chairman, maxed out his donations to Mitt Romney’s campaign at $5,000, and gave another $25,000 to the Republican National Committee. The company also is listed as providing American Crossroads — the Karl Rove SuperPAC — $1.32 million in in-kind cable access last month.

The movie itself is such an obvious hackjob, designed largely to inflame those already nurturing resentment of Obama’s success, that I’m dubious …

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A little context to Romney’s proposed Navy expansion

As part of his plan to increase defense spending by $2 trillion over the next decade, Mitt Romney has repeatedly cited the factoid that the United States has fewer ships in its Navy today than it did in 1916, suggesting that our naval power has declined since then. He is also campaigning on a pledge to boost the number of ships from 285 to 313. saying “I will restore our Navy to the size needed to fulfill our missions by building 15 ships per year, including three submarines.”

Our current ship-building rate is 9 to 10 per year.

Two points regarding that issue:

1.) As it happens, two political scientists at Florida State University recently completed a historical study that compares naval strength among the major powers from 1865 to 2011. They conclude:

“In 1916, the U.S. controlled roughly 11% of the world’s naval power. This is an impressive number that ranks the US third in naval strength behind the UK (34%) and Germany (19%), and just ahead of France (10%). What about the …

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Those who push “apology tour” owe us an apology

In the debate Monday night, Mitt Romney once again resorted to his claim that President Obama had conducted an overseas “apology tour,” in which he allegedly traveled “to various nations in the Middle East and criticizing America.” As Obama quickly noted, that claim has been debunked as a fabrication by every fact-check organization that has looked at it.

However, that clearly hasn’t dissuaded the Romney camp from continuing to use the claim. In fact, Jennifer Rubin, a conservative columnist for the Washington Post known for her very tight ties to the Romney campaign, devoted her column Tuesday to explaining why in fact the “apology tour” claim is accurate.

As she writes:

“I am hardly the first to compile lists of apologetic utterances from Obama. These include an apology in front of the Turkish Parliament: ‘Another issue that confronts all democracies as they move to the future is how we deal with the past. The United States is still working through some of our own darker …

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Charter-school amendment would set off gold rush

Reading the list of out-of-state contributors to the campaign to pass Amendment 1, the state charter-schools amendment, you get the sense that an old-fashioned gold rush would begin in Georgia the moment the amendment is approved.

J.C. Huizenga, founder of Michigan-based National Heritage Academies, a for-profit charter school operator, has contributed $25,000; his company contributed a matching $25,000. Charter Schools USA, based in Florida, contributed $50,000 as well. D.A. Davidson, a financial services firm based in Great Falls, Montana that touts itself as “a recognized leader in charter school financing,” has so far given $5,000. And K12 Inc., a for-profit provider of online classes and “full-time online public schools,” has kicked in $100,000.

Those account only for contributions made through Sept. 21; the final campaign-disclosure reports may include additional big-dollar donations from companies eager to enter Georgia’s public-school marketplace.

Now, there’s nothing …

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Tracing the local origins of the vote-fraud myth

Those who have followed Fulton County politics for a long time will recognize the name Hans von Spakovsky. Back in the ’90s, as a local lawyer active in Republican circles, he started raising allegations of serious voting fraud that somehow never quite seemed to pan out.

Hans von Spakovsky

Hans von Spakovsky

Apparently, however, somebody somewhere recognized that the fraud allegation itself, even if merely a myth never bolstered by evidence, would be useful in justifying a push for more restrictive ballot laws that might tamp down Democratic turnout. It allowed von Spakovsky to take his schtick national, in time nailing a job in the voting rights section of the Bush Justice Department in which he tried — vainly, despite all the resources of the federal government — to establish that in-person vote fraud posed a clear and present danger to American democracy.

It might be too much to say that von Spakovsky singlehandedly created the mythology of voter fraud, but it clearly created him, serving as …

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