From Pine View Farm

May, 2012 archive

Random 0

I’ve been stalking the redwing blackbirds since last summer. They are quite skittish.

Redwing Blackbird

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Why Politicians Lie 0

PoliticalProf has some thoughts. A snippet:

I know, I know: you’re thinking politicians lie as a defect of character. They lie because they’re liars. So why bother to discuss it?

I want to suggest that there’s a different, more persuasive account for why politicians lie: They lie because we make them lie. They lie because when they lie, we reward—meaning vote for—them. And when they don’t lie, we punish them—by voting for the other candidate—who, of course, lied to us.

My point can be made in a single, dramatic example, although I am sure that many will resist. In his Democratic presidential nomination acceptance address in 1984, Walter Mondale famously said: “Let’s tell the truth. It must be done, it must be done. Mr. Reagan will raise taxes, and so will I. He won’t tell you. I just did.”

Walter Mondale went on to lose to Ronald Reagan in the greatest electoral college defeat of all time, 525-13. After his reelection, Ronald Reagan raised taxes multiple times, including a massive shift in tax burden from corporations to individuals as a consequence of the 1986 tax reform act.

Read the rest.

Mitt the Flipping the Like Button 0

Droning On (Coming Soon to a Resort Town near You?) 0

The Regent wants him some drones (in addition to his legislature, that is):

The Confidence Fairy 0

Describing what’s happening in Greece, Atrios encapsulates the sales pitech for “austerity” in order to “restore confidence”:

By making sure nobody had any money, everyone would have the confidence to spend!

Aside:

Have you noticed that the proponents of “auterity” have one outstanding thing in common:

Money, lots of money.

Facebook Frolics 0

Debbie Piscitella snapped.

She was shopping with her daughter Monday afternoon when her daughter saw the boy near Sears. That’s the boy, the 13-year-old told her mother, the one who wrote on Facebook that the girl was so unattractive he wouldn’t even rape her.

Piscitella charged up to the 14-year-old high school freshman, grabbed his backpack and choked him. The assault was caught on a store camera.

She is now in jail. The foul-mouthed little br–oh, never mind.

Much more at the link.

Responsible Fiscals 0

Bloomberg describes the case of Sherry Hunt. Background:

By 2006, the bank was buying mortgages from outside lenders with doctored tax forms, phony appraisals and missing signatures, she says. It was Hunt’s job to identify these defects, and she did, in regular reports to her bosses.

Executives buried her findings, Hunt says, before, during and after the financial crisis, and even into 2012.

In March 2011, more than two years after Citigroup took $45 billion in bailouts from the U.S. government and billions more from the Federal Reserve — more in total than any other U.S. bank — Jeffery Polkinghorne, an O’Fallon executive in charge of loan quality, asked Hunt and a colleague to stay in a conference room after a meeting.

The encounter with Polkinghorne was brief and tense, Hunt says. The number of loans classified as defective would have to fall, he told them, or it would be “your asses on the line.”

Hunt says it was clear what Polkinghorne was asking — and she wanted no part of it.

She fought back. Follow the link to find out what happened.

And think about the integrity of the company that forced her to fight to be honest.

Nothing To Do, Nowhere To Go 0

Still, for all practical purposes, treading water:

First-time claims for jobless benefits increased by 10,000 to 383,000 in the week ended May 26 from a revised 373,000 the prior week, the Labor Department said today. The initial claims exceeded the median estimate of 370,000 in a Bloomberg News survey of economists. The number of people on unemployment benefit rolls dropped.

(snip)

The four-week moving average, a less-volatile measure, rose to 374,500 from 370,750.

The number of people continuing to collect jobless benefits dropped by 36,000 in the week ended May 19 to 3.24 million. The continuing claims figure does not include the number of workers receiving extended benefits under federal programs.

QOTD 0

Mardel Grothe, from the Quotemaster (subscribe here):

People sometimes forget when you remember, but they always remember when you forget.

The Republican Pact with the Far Right 0

Thom wonders whether the Iowa Republican platform, which, among other things, call for teaching creationism in public schools, presages the national one and why the loonies seem to be in charge.

iSpy, Siriously 0

All ur data r belongz to Siri (and her corporate masters).

It came as a surprise to some folks at a recent SXSW talk that Apple’s Siri “personal assistant” isn’t just working for us, it’s working full-time for Apple too by sending lots of our personal voice and user info to Apple to stockpile in its databases. Take a peek at Siri’s privacy policy (which, by the way, is pretty difficult to find) and you’ll realize what’s happening behind the scenes.

What info of yours is being collected and how is it being used? When you use Siri, it’s sending your “Voice Input Data” and “User Data” to Apple to be used for a variety of purposes.

Apple is not talking about what it is doing with the data, but it is almost certainly not altruistic.

My fiend’s daughter loves her some Siri. She is almost certainly pwned by Apple.

Via GNC.

Meta: There’s a New Botnet in Town 0

I’ve gotten well over 100 spam comments in the last 12 hours. That’s about five times the usual daily rate and still climbing.

Fortunately, not one has yet gotten past Akismet.

Droning On 2

Gamy gaming.

Enthusiasts boast of their (drones–ed>) surgical accuracy and exhaustive surveillance, operated by all-seeing technicians from thousands of miles away in Nevada.

But that’s a computer-game fantasy of clinical war. Since 2004, between 2,464 and 3,145 people are reported to have been killed by US drone attacks in Pakistan, of whom up to 828 were civilians (535 under Obama) and 175 children. Some Pakistani estimates put the civilian death toll much higher – plausibly, given the tendency to claim as “militants” victims later demonstrated to be nothing of the sort.

Do the arithmetic: batting somewnere between .263 and .336 at getting the wrong persons. That average gets you batting at the top of the order in the bigs.

Romney’s Agnew 0

Dick Polman thinks he’s figured out Mitt the Flip’s attraction to the Donald.

He advances several theories, then settles on this:

Remember, Romney spent the primary season trying in vain to unite the base behind his candidacy. He still apparently lives in fear that the most unhinged folks on the Republican right will stay home on election day, having convinced themselves that he’s too sensible to vote for. Which is why Romney has tried on occasion to show that he too can be unhinged. It’s pander politics 101.

Click to read the rest.

(For folks too young to understand “Agnew.”)

Wiferism 0

Bill Maher skewers birther theorizing:

Via Delaware Liberal.

QOTD, Special Great Moments in Optimism Dept. 0

Thomas Huxley, from the Quotemaster (subscribe here):

The birth of science was the death of superstition.

And Now for Something Completely Different 0

Gorilla my dreams:

He Vas Followink Orders 0

The defendant testifies in the Philadelphia should-have-been-a-RICO trial.

The Voter Fraud Fraud 0

Republicans in Florida are preparing to steal yet another election.

Remember how well it worked out the last time.

If It’s Not Working, Do It Again, Harder! Harder! 0

At Asia Times, Gareth Porter examines the United States’s contrarian counter-productive policy regarding Iran. A nugget:

The prospects for agreement (on Iran’s reducing its uranium enrichment efforts–ed.) are not likely to improve before that meeting, however, mainly because of an inflexible US diplomatic posture that reflects President Barack Obama’s need to bow to the demands of Israel and the US Congress on Iran policy.

The US hard line in the Baghdad talks and the failure to set the stage for an early agreement with Iran means that Iran will not only increase but accelerate its accumulation of 20% enriched uranium, which has been the ostensible reason for wanting to get Iran to the negotiating table quickly.

Read the whole thing.