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Archive for July, 2012

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So seriously, can we stop pretending to be outraged?

(photo of the inscription on the memorial to the continental army casualties in Washington Square, Philadelphia)

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Atrios:

It isn’t quite as extreme, but there are a lot of similarities between now and the Iraq debate. All of the Cool Kids know how fucking right austerity is, and are condescending to all of the silly children who think they’re wrong. Team Austerity is where the cool kids are, at the parties with the fancy drinks, and all the losers hang out at that dorky Paul Krugman’s house, playing dungeons and dragons.

In the highschool version of the analogy, 10 years later Paul Krugman has a Nobel Prize and all the cool kids still work at Ruby Tuesdays. But in the real world version all the cool kids just fail upwards, and so we get austerity because confidence!

Heckuva job, Brownie.

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No Child Left Behind!

Who could possibly have predicted this?

After authorities imposed unprecedented security measures on the 2012 statewide exams, test scores tumbled across Pennsylvania, The Inquirer has learned.

At some schools, Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Ronald Tomalis said, the drops are “noticeable” – 25 percent or more.

In Philadelphia and elsewhere, some educators have already confessed to cheating, and investigators have found violations ranging from “overcoaching” to pausing a test to reteach material covered in the exam, according to people familiar with the investigations.

Oh right, basically everyone predicted this. But is our children learning?

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I… agree with Rick Santorum (emphasis mine):

I actually read the Freeh Report. I don’t know if you did or not, but I did. And, my concern with the Freeh report, a lot of the conclusions in the Freeh report aren’t matched by the evidence that they presented and so I’ve been talking to a lot of folks at Penn State and they say, ‘you’re just gonna have to wait for the criminal trial of these two guys at Penn State.’ I think there is going to be a whole new line set on what really went on there. So I’m sort of sitting back and waiting for the facts to come out as opposed to at least I’m being told is a version of the facts. … Let’s get the truth

Yes, exactly. The report’s conclusions were not supported by the evidence presented. The evidence could be read the way Freeh read it, yes, but it could also be reasonably read in other ways. The alternate, less damning conclusions, which the evidence would support equally strongly, were not presented or discussed in any way. The article I pulled Santorum’s quote from concludes:

Contra Santorum, the Freeh Report’s central finding — that “nothing was done and Sandusky was allowed to continue with impunity” by Penn State’s leaders — has been treated as conclusive by most observers of the scandal. There’s a good reason for that: the report parsed3.5 million emails and conducted around 430 interviews. A number of emails arrayed in the report’s timeline of events confirm that Paterno, Spanier, and others had been presented with strong evidence of Sandusky’s actions and yet still decided to sweep the events under the rug — enabling multiple instances of abuse to take place. Unless Santorum has reason to believe these were falsified or somehow insufficient, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that he’s in denial about what took place at his alma mater.

Apparently, the fact that Freeh read a lot of documents proves him right. Well, OK, so he read 3.5 million emails. What was in them? We don’t know, because they weren’t presented in the report. It’s entirely possible that, if one were to read all 3.5 million emails, one would arrive at the same conclusion as Freeh. But we can’t read them. Our only evidence is what is presented in the report, and as I said it is far from conclusive. I don’t believe the emails were falsified as suggested, but the ones that were presented are most certainly insufficient to arrive at the conclusion Freeh arrived at. 

Santorum is just objectively right, here. 

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I was going to write something about this Romney quote regarding his wife’s horse, which will be competing in the Olympics:

I have to tell you, this is Ann’s sport. I’m not even sure which day the sport goes on. She will get the chance to see it, I will not be watching the event. I hope her horse does well.

What a dick. Kevin Drum nails it:

This was painful to hear. I mean, what would any normal husband do if his wife were involved in an Olympic competition, even one he personally found boring? He’d attend! He’d cheer! That’s what married people do. But Romney has been taking some flak for being a rich dude lately, and he’s obviously calculated that being associated with a multi-million dollar sport —and an obscure, sort of prissy one at that —wouldn’t do his campaign any good. So he threw his own wife under the bus. Mitt Romney is willing to be whatever the electorate wants him to be, and apparently he crunched the numbers in his head and decided that America’s heartland voters didn’t want him to be associated with his wife’s sport.

It’s really contemptible behavior, even for a guy who long ago decided he’d do anything to become president. The first time I read that quote I recoiled, and I still do a day later even after I’ve seen it a dozen times. What a gutless little weasel.

Indeed.

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An Iranian nuclear scientist is reporting that a new Stuxnet-like virus has popped up on computers in the same facility that Stuxnet originally targeted.

This new virus targets the plant’s automated systems, purportedly shutting them down. More interestingly, the virus causes the infected computers to play AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” at maximum volume in the middle of the night. Really. 

Presumably, this dirty deed was dirt cheap to pull off. With only a flick of the switch, this new virus will shake the foundations of Iran’s nuclear program, putting costly, high voltage equipment directly on a highway to hell. 

OK, maybe that last bit was a touch too much, but in the brave new world of rock related cyber attacks, anything goes. Are you ready?

And yes, I just managed to use 9 AC/DC song titles in a post about a computer virus. You should be impressed. I challenge you to exceed that amount in the comments. The game is afoot!

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In an interview with CNBC on Monday, Mitt Romney was discussing how he would create jobs if elected. He cautioned:

But if they want to see this economy come roaring back with good–with good jobs, they ought to vote for me, in my view. And we ought to give, whichever president is going to be elected, at least six months or a year to get those policies in place.

That’s perfectly fair. A new President needs some time to get policy in place, and those policies need some time to work. The American Economy is big and it takes a bit of time to turn it around. Fair enough. A President, by Mitt Romney’s standards, should only be held accountable for his jobs record after the first year.

So how did Obama do on jobs? Below is a chart of total employment from Obama’s inauguration through last month. I’ve pointed out the 1 year mark, after which we should begin examining the President’s record.

 

Well would you look at that. According to Mitt Romney, Obama has overseen a massive expansion in employment! 4 million jobs!

Any chance Romney will admit this?

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I read the transcript, for some reason. Here are some excerpts, and my comments about them.

And, perhaps most importantly, has the most severe security threat facing America and our friends, a nuclear-armed Iran, become more or less likely?

Seriously? An Iranian nuke is our biggest threat? CNN helpfully informed us recently that Iran now has missiles that can hit the continental US if they are deployed 600 miles from the coast. Or to put it another way, Iran’s best missiles can travel only 600 miles. Tehran is a little over 6,000 miles from New York City. It’s less than 1,000 miles to Jerusalem. So when Romney says “America and our friends”, he means “Israel”. Got it?

From Berlin to Cairo to the United Nations, President Obama has shared his view of America and its place among nations. I have come here today to share mine. I am an unapologetic believer in the greatness of this country. I am not ashamed of American power.

Romney is right. Obama obviously is ashamed of American Power. Which is why he mercilessly blows up terrorists from the sky with secret flying death robots. 

A healthy American economy is what underwrites American power. When growth is missing, government revenue falls, social spending rises, and many in Washington look to cut defense spending as an easy out.

You know what else causes government revenue to fall? Cutting taxes. Which Mitt Romney pledges to do. 

Today, we are just months away from an arbitrary, across-the-board budget reduction that would saddle the military with a trillion dollars in cuts, severely shrink our force structure, and impair our ability to meet and deter threats. Don’t bother trying to find a serious military rationale behind any of this, unless that rationale is wishful thinking. Strategy is not driving President Obama’s massive defense cuts. In fact, his own Secretary of Defense warned that these reductions would be “devastating.” And he is right.

Need I even point out that by “President Obama’s massive defense cuts” Romney means “tiny defense cuts agreed to by a majority of the Congress of the United States”?

Lives of American servicemen and women are at stake. But astonishingly, the administration failed to change its ways. More top-secret operations were leaked, even some involving covert action in Iran… Whoever provided classified information to the media, seeking political advantage for the administration, must be exposed, dismissed, and punished. The time for stonewalling is over.

Need I point out that this administration has been more pro-active at cracking down on leaks and whistle blowers than any other administration in the nation’s history? I’m not saying that’s a good thing, just that Romney is lying. Also known as speaking, for him. 

If the President believes – as he said last week – that the buck stops with him, then he owes all Americans a full and prompt accounting of the facts.

And if Mitt Romney believes that the buck stops with the President, he may want to explain what Bain Capital was doing while he was its President. 

What kind of White House would reveal classified material for political gain? I’ll tell you right now: Mine won’t.

Bullshit. I don’t believe that for a minute. Every White House basically ever has done this.

The operating principle of American foreign policy has been to work with our allies so that we can deter aggression before it breaks out into open conflict. That policy depends on nurturing our alliances and standing up for our common values.

This is correctly read as “Attack Iran now, before it can attack Israel”. 

After all, this is the president who faltered when the Iranian people were looking for support in their struggle against the ayatollahs. That uprising was treated as an inconvenient problem for the President’s policy of engagement, instead of as a moral and strategic opportunity. That terrible misjudgment should never be repeated. When unarmed women and men in Tehran find the courage to confront their oppressors, at risk of torture and death, they should hear the unequivocal voice of an American president affirming their right to be free.

Actually, the Green Movement unequivocally asked the President to shut the hell up about them. The fastest way for something to lose legitimacy in Iran is for America to support it. He wisely stayed silent. 

I will leave Reno this evening on a trip abroad that will take me to England, Poland, and Israel. And since I wouldn’t venture into another country to question American foreign policy, I will tell you right here – before I leave – what I think of this administration’s shabby treatment of one of our finest friends. President Obama is fond of lecturing Israel’s leaders. He was even caught by a microphone deriding them. He has undermined their position, which was tough enough as it was. And even at the United Nations, to the enthusiastic applause of Israel’s enemies, he spoke as if our closest ally in the Middle East was the problem. The people of Israel deserve better than what they have received from the leader of the free world. And the chorus of accusations, threats, and insults at the United Nations should never again include the voice of the President of the United States.

This is correctly read as “The President should never, ever, say anything mean about Israel, and should absolutely never question them or their actions”.

As president, my goal in Afghanistan will be to complete a successful transition to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014

This is precisely the President’s plan, too! Glad to see they agree on something. 

There is no greater danger in the world today than the prospect of the ayatollahs in Tehran possessing nuclear weapons capability.

Here we go again on our own! Goin’ down the only road we’ve ever known!

What? Who says Whitesnake has no place in foreign policy discussions?

The same ayatollahs who each year mark a holiday by leading chants of “Death to America” are not going to be talked out of their pursuit of nuclear weapons. What’s needed is all the firmness, clarity, and moral courage that we and our allies can gather. Sanctions must be enforced without exception, cutting off the regime’s sources of wealth. Negotiations must secure full and unhindered access for inspections. As it is, the Iranian regime claims the right to enrich nuclear material for supposedly peaceful purposes. This claim is discredited by years of deception. A clear line must be drawn: There must be a full suspension of any enrichment, period.

Again, this really is no different from Obama.

The 21st century can and must be an American Century. It began with terror, war, and economic calamity. It is our duty to steer it onto the path of freedom, peace, and prosperity.

…which is why I support Paul Ryan’s budget which will increase the size of our military, explode our deficit, and decimate the economy because austerity fucking rocks!

We must now seize the torch they carried so gallantly and at such sacrifice. It is an eternal torch of decency, freedom and hope. It is not America’s torch alone. But it is America’s duty – and honor – to hold it high enough so that all the world can see its light.

…which is why we should resume torturing people and why we should “double Guantanamo”. To show all the world how decent we are. 

So, to sum it up, Mitt Romney’s foreign policy is basically this:

Everything Obama does is wrong.Israel is the boss. Iran is the devil and we’re all gonna die. China is scary and mean. Also, too, Russia. Did I mention Israel? Let’s go buy cruise missiles!

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What the fuck is Tom Friedman talking about?

He could at least have had the self respect to stay sober before noon.

Seriously, he was paid money to write that. I’m really in the wrong field.

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Biofuels Digest brings word this morning that the House will be considering the “No More Solyndras” Act of 2012. Seriously.

Meanwhile, unemployment remains incredibly high, the economy continues to languish, and the country continues to have actual problems. This “meh” level stuff is just partisan hackery. Not that that’s surprising.

These are horrible people.

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