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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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