Friday, July 22, 2011
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Now there's the @140townhall, hosted by the Tea Party, for a few hapless GOP 2012 candidates.
I don’t think enough attention has been paid to how terrible, asinine and embarrassing it was. It was almost funny. The only way it could possibly have been worse would have been if Romney had showed up.
To give you an idea of the level of discourse, which you can read in less time than it took the candidates to misstype, Bachmann’s opening statement begins as follows: “TY for this forum. I’m running 4 POTUS 2 bring the voice of the people back to DC.”
Now, in truth, Twitter may be the best venue for the GOP to debate issues: 140 characters means you can't explain anything, you can't easily obfuscate, and you have to create bumper sticker answers on the fly.
Plus, as I often say, Twitter is for twits. This is perfect!
Except what's the point of having an exchange like that if no one knows about it? What's the point of having a debate if it's going to become a muddled mess of snappy answers that you can't even really be certain thread to the other participants?
You might as well ask Dickie Goodman to sample the candidates' position papers and create a "debate" that way.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
While the elder Mr. Murdoch has long had the reputation of being a hands-on manager, pressing for and savoring the scoops scored by the newspapers he had always felt were the soul of his media empire, he said in his testimony that in the case of The News of the World, he had no knowledge of the specifics of what was going on.
He did not know, for example, that his company had paid confidential out-of-court settlements of £600,000 and £1 million to two victims of phone hacking. Nor, he said, did he know that the company was paying the legal fees of Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator under contract to The News of the World who was convicted in 2007 of hacking into the phones of staff members of the royal family.
James Murdoch said he had not known about paying Mr. Mulcaire’s legal fees either, and was “as surprised as you are that some of these arrangements had been made.”
I have a question: if things are getting that out of hand, maybe they're just too big, period?
We've failed at Capitalism 101, which was to abhor the business combinations that stifle commerce and competition. Adam Smith isn't rolling in his grave, he's spinning. The entire check on the capitalist system, the "moral fiber" of the philosophy, was that a) the ownership should be entirely and personally responsible for the activities of the entity which means b) the owners ought to damn well know every detail of the company, from the boardroom to the stockroom.
And it's a good check. People who criticize capitalism aren't criticizing capitalism the philosophy, but capitalism the technology.
Theodore Roosevelt may have been the last American president to truly understand the full dangers of incorporation and business combinations. If Adam Smith is spinning in his grave, Teddy Roosevelt is a fucking turbine in his.
Teabaggers are all about "Big Government,' but the real danger to this nation, to this world, is "Big Business." Big business is beholden to no one except its shareholders and those shareholders don't give a damn about anything but results. There is no morality in running a corporation, no "corporate good citizenship" that isn't subject to torment by any number of people who would as soon tear down the goodwill a firm might establish in the name of that last buck of profit. If it's costing a shareholder a dollar of his dividend, then there had better be a payoff down the road for providing (insert non-monetary benefit here).
Why aren't Teabaggers all over this? Why aren't they rallying about how companies behave outrageously, offensively, irresponsibly, particularly given they want to dismantle any pretense of oversight on the part of government?
I have little problem with Big Government. With Big Government, there is an ultimate review board: the voters. With Big Government, there's sunshine laws and accountability and a loyal opposition that's willing to watchdog agencies to make sure there's as little waste as possible. Tell me, who oversees the corporation? The board of directors is supposed to, nominally, and that worked better when the board members weren't also the executive directors of the company.
Corporations act with impunity, trampling the laws and the civil rights of our citzenry without recourse, without the prospect of punishment of any sort that doesn't justify the initial actions. The corporate credo is "Never ask permission, always ask forgiveness."
And we keep giving it.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
“This letter is an embarrassment to the Republican Party, of which I count myself a part,” said Richard Painter, an ethics lawyer in President George W. Bush’s White House.
(emphasis added, of course)
Through wireless technology, traffic engineers in Long Island City can now gather data from microwave sensors, traffic video cameras and E-ZPass readers at 23 intersections across 110 Midtown blocks.
Once city workers have consolidated this data in a computer program, they plan to identify the most troubled traffic spots from Second Avenue to Avenue of the Americas and 42nd to 57th Street. That way they can alter the lengths of lights by a few seconds to help improve traffic flow. They also plan to offer this data to software developers so that drivers and passengers can gain access to this detailed information on their iPads or iPhones.
The city has a clear motivation in improving traffic: Mr. Bloomberg estimated on Monday that traffic delays cost the city’s economy $13 billion.
The danger here of course is the use of video camera and EZ-Pass-- the region's electronic toll collection system-- data to issue summonses. Already, redlight cameras are legal in the city and a program to roll those out more broadly is underway. Combining video cameras and EZ Passes would make it easier for cops to target double-parked vehicles, illegal turns and so on.
Of course, the main reason is the traffic, which ironically would be a lot easier in the first place if not for all those double-parkers and illegal turners...
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. A space shuttle left the International Space Station for the very last time Tuesday, heading home to end the 30-year run of a vessel that kept U.S. astronauts flying to and from orbit longer than any other rocketship.
Atlantis slipped away after performing a partial lap around the space station. Ten pairs of eyes pressed against the windows, four in the shuttle and six in the station.
All that remains of NASA's final shuttle voyage is the touchdown, targeted for the pre-dawn hours of Thursday back home in Florida.
Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann has long been a darling of conservative evangelicals, but shortly before announcing her White House bid, she officially quit a church she’d belonged to for years.
Bachmann, a Minnesota congresswoman, and her husband, Marcus, withdrew their membership from Salem Lutheran Church in Stillwater, Minnesota, last month, according to church officials.
Now, you can't get much more evangelical than the Lutheran church, to be sure. As a member myself, the church has some pretty radical ideals. For example, we teach that the head of the Roman Catholic church, the Pope, is the Anti-Christ (so much for Barack Oba--oh wait! NOW it all makes sense!)
Monday, July 18, 2011
Ratings agency Moody's on Monday suggested the United States should eliminate its statutory limit on government debt to reduce uncertainty among bond holders.
The United States is one of the few countries where Congress sets a ceiling on government debt, which creates "periodic uncertainty" over the government's ability to meet its obligations, Moody's said in a report.
"We would reduce our assessment of event risk if the government changed its framework for managing government debt to lessen or eliminate that uncertainty," Moody's analyst Steven Hess wrote in the report.
The lawyer for Rebekah Brooks, who was arrested Sunday in the burgeoning British phone hacking scandal, says she is not guilty of any crime and that police will have to "give an account of their actions" in taking her into custody, the BBC reports.
Brooks, who resigned last week as CEO of News International, the British arm of the Rupert Murdoch media empire, was editor of the tabloid News of the World when the most sensational phone hacking incidents allegedly occurred. The 168-year-old paper was shut down last week by Murdoch in an effort to put the scandal to rest.
The scandal also includes allegations that the newspaper hacking the phones of 9/11 victims and British soldiers killed in action, as well as paid police for tips.
Sir Paul Stephenson, head of Scotland Yard, resigned his post Sunday, but denied any involvement in payment for police or in curbing the initial police investigation into the hacking cases.