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Home country: USA
Current location: Georgia
Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
Number of posts: 47,236

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Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

What your favorite drink says about your politics, in one chart

Former Mississippi governor and uber-Republican Haley Barbour loves bourbon. Franklin Roosevelt mixed martinis. And, as it turns out, those two partisans have something in common with their base voters: Consumer data suggests Democrats prefer clear spirits, while Republicans like their brown liquor.

Democratic drinkers are more likely to sip Absolut and Grey Goose vodkas, while Republican tipplers are more likely to savor Jim Beam, Canadian Club and Crown Royal. That research comes from consumer data supplied by GFK MRI, and analyzed by Jennifer Dube of National Media Research Planning and Placement, an Alexandria-based Republican consulting firm.

The results are fascinating: Analyzing voting habits of those who imbibe, Dube found that 14 of the top 15 brands that indicate someone is most likely to vote are wines.

If you see someone at your New Years party tonight drinking Kendall-Jackson or Robert Mondavi wines, that person is highly likely to vote, and they’re likely to vote Republican. Someone who savors a Chateau Ste. Michelle Merlot, one of Washington State’s top producers, or Smoking Loon, they’re likely to cast ballots for Democrats.


Tuesday Toon Roundup 3- The Rest

Tuesday Toon Roundup 2- Old Year

Tuesday Toon Roundup 1- new Year

The Hidden Man

America saw Stephen Hill's face for 15 seconds.
It took him a lifetime to show it.


An American soldier sits alone in a wooden box in the desert, trying to erase himself. Off comes the Velcro patch that says CAPTAIN. Off comes the name tag that says HILL. He positions the camera so it will show nothing to betray his identity: just a chin, a mouth, and the words U.S. ARMY on the breast of his combat fatigues.

The box is a 10-by-10-foot room made of quarter-inch plywood, which counts as officers' quarters at this combat hospital in northern Iraq. He takes care not to show any of the personal touches on the walls. Not the taped-up note that reads, I love you. I'll never be able to show, say, write or send anything that can ever truly show you. Not the pinned-up chew toy bearing the teeth of his dog, Macho, or the stuffed Super Mario Bros. doll.

It is September 2011, in the waning months of the Iraq war. The soldier has duct-taped every crevice of his room, to keep out the harsh light and the endless gusts of desert grit. He still has a cough from Desert Storm, exactly half a lifetime ago. Because the walls are thin, he has chosen for his task an early-morning hour when he knows the soldier in the adjoining box will be away on duty.

He squares himself before his Sony laptop and hits record. The camera's tiny green light comes on. He swallows and begins talking. He stops, erases, starts over. He does it again and again, until he has a take he can live with.

Fear is a habit, and during his 23-year Army career he has seen what happens to soldiers who are careless. He clicks a button and sends off his 34-second message under a disguised email address. Maybe, he thinks, that will do the job. Maybe he can stay hidden in the lightproof, dustproof box.



In Simmons, GOP loses a very generous backer


The Republican Party lost one of its most generous backers Saturday with the death of Dallas billionaire Harold Simmons, who was also a top patron of independent political groups on the right.

Simmons, whose death was reported by the Dallas Morning News, donated more than $25 million to Republican candidates, parties and their allies in the past three election cycles, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research organization.

The industrialist was one of the top givers to American Crossroads, the super PAC co-founded by Karl Rove, and also boosted the efforts of super PACs working on behalf of Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry in the 2012 presidential campaign.

“Harold Simmons was a true Texas giant, rising from humble beginnings and seizing the limitless opportunity for success we so deeply cherish in our great state," Perry, Texas's Republican governor, said in a statement.

Simmons, who was 82, told the Wall Street Journal last year that he was intent on doing whatever it took to prevent President Obama’s reelection. “Obama is the most dangerous American alive ... because he would eliminate free enterprise in this country,” he said.



The most Kafkaesque paragraph from the latest NSA ruling


Earlier today a U.S. District Court judge, Justice William Pauley, dismissed an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawsuit alleging that the National Security Agency's phone records program was unconstitutional, based primarily on his interpretation of the 1979 Smith v. Maryland Supreme Court ruling. But elsewhere in his ruling, the judge made what seems to be a slightly Kafkaesque argument to disregard the ACLU's statutory claim that the NSA was exceeding the bounds of section 215 of the Patriot Act:

Re-read that a few times and let it sink in. Pauley is essentially saying that the targets of the order have no recourse to challenge the collection of their personal data because Congress never intended for targets to ever know that they were subject to this sort of spying. And that the fact that everyone knows about it now, thanks to Edward Snowden, doesn't change the targets' ability to challenge the legality of the order.

That suggests a troubling possibility: that even if there were clear-cut evidence that the government was sending out illegal 215 orders, the people harmed by the government's illegal conduct might not have any way to stop it. Instead, the only recourse may be for the recipient of an order (such as Verizon) to challenge it in the notoriously secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. But Verizon isn't the one whose privacy is harmed by the order, so why would it expend legal resources to fight it?

While that outcome might seem a little crazy, it's not necessarily wrong as a matter of law. The Supreme Court has ruled in some cases, including Gonzaga v. Doe, that there can be cases where, even though the government's actions may be illegal, the individuals harmed can't sue to stop them. That still leaves room for challenging the statute on constitutional grounds. But in this case, Pauley dismissed the ACLU's constitutional arguments as well.



Weekend Toons!







Paul Krugman Blog- Bitcoin is Evil

It’s always important, and always hard, to distinguish positive economics — how things work — from normative economics — how things should be. Indeed, on many of the macro issues I’ve written about it has been obvious that large numbers of economists can’t bring themselves to make that distinction; they dislike activist government on political grounds, and this leads them to make really bad arguments about why fiscal stimulus can’t work and monetary stimulus will be disastrous. I don’t, by the way, think that this effect is symmetric: although people like Robert Lucas were quick to accuse people like Christy Romer of fabricating macro arguments to support a big-government agenda, this didn’t actually happen.

But I come now to talk not about macro but about money — specifically, about Bitcoin and all that.

So far almost all of the Bitcoin discussion has been positive economics — can this actually work? And I have to say that I’m still deeply unconvinced. To be successful, money must be both a medium of exchange and a reasonably stable store of value. And it remains completely unclear why BitCoin should be a stable store of value. Brad DeLong puts it clearly:

Underpinning the value of gold is that if all else fails you can use it to make pretty things. Underpinning the value of the dollar is a combination of (a) the fact that you can use them to pay your taxes to the U.S. government, and (b) that the Federal Reserve is a potential dollar sink and has promised to buy them back and extinguish them if their real value starts to sink at (much) more than 2%/year (yes, I know).

Placing a ceiling on the value of gold is mining technology, and the prospect that if its price gets out of whack for long on the upside a great deal more of it will be created. Placing a ceiling on the value of the dollar is the Federal Reserve’s role as actual dollar source, and its commitment not to allow deflation to happen.

Placing a ceiling on the value of bitcoins is computer technology and the form of the hash function… until the limit of 21 million bitcoins is reached. Placing a floor on the value of bitcoins is… what, exactly?



JPMorgan Doesn’t Want to Talk About Bernie Madoff

Bernard Madoff’s principal bank, JPMorgan Chase, has for years obstructed federal bank examiners trying to ascertain what it knew about his gigantic Ponzi scheme, an official document obtained by Newsweek shows.

The Justice Department refused in September to back up Treasury inspector general staff who wanted a court order to enforce a subpoena, in effect shielding JPMorgan from law enforcement, the October 8 document shows.

The Justice Department told the Treasury Inspector General “that they were denying the request for enforcement of the subpoena,” which means officials “could not undertake further actions regarding this matter,” wrote Jason J. Metrick, the inspector general special-agent-in-charge.

The memo revealing that Justice protected JPMorgan from an obstruction complaint raises anew questions about how much the Obama administration has done to protect the big banks, whose lies about mortgage securities and other investments they sold sank the economy in 2008.


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