The Clinton campaign has said before that Fox treats them more fairly than MSNBC, but prominent surrogate Governor Ed Rendell heaped the strongest praise yet on the Murdoch-owned network.
“I think during this entire primary coverage, starting in Iowa and up to the present — FOX has done the fairest job, and remained the most objective of all the cable networks. You hate both of our candidates. No, I’m only kidding. But you actually have done a very balanced job of reporting the news, and some of the other stations are just caught up with Senator Obama, who is a great guy, but Senator Obama can do no wrong, and Senator Clinton can do no right.”
I suppose if Fox smears both Democrat candidates equally, that could be considered balanced, but certainly not fair.
Please, someone, make Ed Rendell go away.
2 commentsMarch 31st, 2008 at 10:49pmPosted by Eli
So last week Deutsche Telekom, owners of the global T-Mobile brand, sent Engadget a late birthday present: a hand-delivered letter direct from their German legal department requesting the prompt discontinuation of the use of the color magenta on Engadget Mobile. Yep, seriously.
Granted, we get nastygrams from angry tech companies practically every day, but rarely regarding anything that’s not some piece of news we published that they’re livid about having out in the open. And irony of ironies, this whole use-of-magenta thing is precisely the topic we took up last year on behalf of DT.
We spoke with David Beigie, vice president of corporate communications for T-Mobile US, who offered: “As a trademark owner, from time to time Deutsche Telekom looks at usage that could lead to confusion in the marketplace. The letter sent by DT merely outlines these perspectives and is meant to simply open a dialogue. Engadget continues to pioneer forums for discussion of wireless industry developments and innovation. T-Mobile respects the role Engadget and its readers play in advancing dialog on these important topics.”
I mean, come on. What the hell were they thinking??? Please tell me they haven’t actually trademarked the color magenta.
Engadget also included this handy little chart, which I found quite useful:
Distributor of telecom equipment
Likely to be mistaken for T-Mobile / Deutsch Telekom
All presidents in the final year of a final mandate are lame ducks. But Mr. Bush is experiencing something unheard of for a U.S. president. He’s being ignored.
The U.S. economy teeters on the brink of recession, threatened by falling home prices and worthless mortgages; even Wall Street has lost confidence in Wall Street.
What is the President doing to avert the crisis? Who cares? Economically, what really matters is what Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke is doing. Politically, what matters is what Mr. McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton say they would be doing if they were in charge.
“There is very little that he will be able to do in his last year,” observes Larry Berman, a political scientist who specializes in presidential politics at University of California, Davis. “It’s legacy-shaping, rather than agenda-building.”
The problem is that Mr. Bush’s legacy is unambiguously dismal. He is leaving the economy in worse shape than he found it, with an extra $4-trillion added to the national debt for good measure.
He presided over a vast expansion, and abuse, of the powers of his office. The legacy of Guantanamo, torture and wiretaps will not soon be forgotten.
The war on terror has had few tangible successes and many apparent failures. And elsewhere in foreign policy, the record has been bleak. To take just one example: when Mr. Bush first met Mr. Putin, Mr. Bush declared that he had looked the Russian President in the eye, “was able to get a sense of his soul,” and found him “very straightforward and trustworthy.” Seven years later, Russia is more powerful, more aggressive and considerably less friendly toward the United States.
Because Mr. Bush is held in such low regard by Congress and the American people – his popular approval rating is currently one of the worst ever recorded for a president in office – he is even more constrained than other lame duck presidents.
“He has neither much leverage, nor much vision,” concludes Murray Weidenbaum, who was the first chairman of Ronald Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers and is now honorary chairman of the Weidenbaum Center, a public-policy institute at Washington University in St. Louis.
“Just look at the campaign,” he observes. “All through the primaries the Republican candidates tended to ignore Bush. They paid much more attention to Ronald Reagan. Even the Democrats seem to have lost interest in attacking Bush.”
Mr. Bush has little on his agenda beyond a slender hope that his Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, might somehow broker an agreement leading to the creation of a Palestinian state.
And then, first and finally, there is Iraq. Prof. Berman predicts that “in 10 or 15 years, when all of the information is out on the decision to go to war, and all the intelligence is available, I think that President Bush will not fare well.” Some would consider that a scholarly understatement.
Mr. Bush, it has been said, compares himself to Harry Truman, a president who left office dogged by an unpopular war and low public approval, but who is today viewed as one the 20th century’s finest presidents.
It is possible that posterity will be equally kind to Mr. Bush. But if you’re going to compare yourself to Mr. Truman, it helps to have your own equivalent of the Marshall Plan, the containment policy against Russia, the formation of NATO, the defence of South Korea and desegregation of the armed forces on your résumé. What in the Bush legacy even comes close?
…[I]f Mr. McCain beats the odds and wins in November, giving the Republicans 12 straight years in the White House, Mr. Bush’s defenders will rightly insist that he deserves praise for helping make that victory possible.
Still, it’s a thin gruel after more than seven years in office, most of that time with a Republican majority in Congress. It is why Mr. Bush, rather than shaping his legacy, is forced to watch from the sidelines while others render their verdicts. And they are not kind.
Awesome. I especially like the “Mr. President, you’re no Harry Truman” part. Of course, I would prefer that America were not in the toilet in the first place, and that Iraq was not on the brink of all-out civil war. But if that’s the situation we’re stuck with, I would at least like blame where blame is due.
2 commentsMarch 31st, 2008 at 08:32pmPosted by Eli
So, apparently, if you simulate the whole of baseball history 10,000 times over, Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak isn’t that big a deal:
WITH the baseball season under way and the memory of scandal in the sport so fresh, many fans yearn for an earlier era, a time when mythology mingled with baseball. The sport’s most mythic achievement is Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, a feat that has never come even close to being matched. Fans and scientists alike, including Edward M. Purcell, a Nobel laureate in physics, and Stephen Jay Gould, the evolutionary biologist, have described the streak as well-nigh impossible.
In a fit of scientific skepticism, we decided to calculate how unlikely Joltin’ Joe’s achievement really was. Using a comprehensive collection of baseball statistics from 1871 to 2005, we simulated the entire history of baseball 10,000 times in a computer. In essence, we programmed the computer to construct an enormous set of parallel baseball universes, all with the same players but subject to the vagaries of chance in each one.
To tease out the meaningful lessons from random effects (fluky streaks that happen by luck), we redid the whole thing 10,000 times. In each of these simulated histories, somebody holds the record for the longest hitting streak. We tabulated who that player was, when he did it, and how long his streak was.
And suddenly the unlikely becomes likely: we get a very long streak each time we run baseball history. These results are shown in Figure 1. The streaks ranged from 39 games at the shortest, to a freakish baseball universe where the record was a remarkable (and remarkably rare) 109 games.
More than half the time, or in 5,295 baseball universes, the record for the longest hitting streak exceeded 53 games. Two-thirds of the time, the best streak was between 50 and 64 games.
In other words, streaks of 56 games or longer are not at all an unusual occurrence. Forty-two percent of the simulated baseball histories have a streak of DiMaggio’s length or longer. You shouldn’t be too surprised that someone, at some time in the history of the game, accomplished what DiMaggio did.
The real surprise is when the record was set. Our analysis reveals that 1941 was one of the least likely seasons for such an epic streak to occur.
Figure 2 shows the number of times, out of 10,000 simulations, that the longest streak occurred in a particular year. The likeliest time for the longest streak to have occurred was in the 19th century, back in the misty beginnings of baseball. Or maybe in the 1920s or ’30s.
But not in 1941, or afterward. That season was the miracle year in only 19 of our alternate major-league histories. By comparison, in 1,290 of our baseball universes, or more than a tenth, the record was set in a single year: 1894.
And Joe DiMaggio is nowhere near the likeliest player to hold the record for longest hitting streak in baseball history. He is No. 56 on the list. (Fifty-six? Cue “The Twilight Zone” music.) Two old-timers, Hugh Duffy and Willie Keeler, are the most probable record holders. Between them, they set the record in more than a thousand of the parallel baseball universes. Ty Cobb did it nearly 300 times.
DiMaggio held the record 28 times. Plus once more, when it counted.
Questions left unanswered:
o Who had the 109-game hitting streak???
o Were there any parallel universes with multiple hitting streaks of 56 games or more?
o Did the simulation take into account opposing teams and pitchers making a concerted effort to stop the streak?
o Were there more perfect games and no-hitters than reality or less? Did the Mets pitch any?
o Where can I get a copy of the simulation program?
2 commentsMarch 31st, 2008 at 11:21amPosted by Eli
Well, after a neverending nightmare of slowdowns, outages, hacking, and hijacking, capped off by a much-hyped and poorly-executed datacenter relocation which took my blog out for most of the weekend, I have finally escaped the Horrible Black Hole Of Suck that is Ix Webhosting. ::matthew has kindly migrated me over to a new host, and hopefully the sailing will be much smoother now.
Three years ago, Lee Spievack sliced off the tip of his finger in the propeller of a hobby shop airplane.
What happened next, Andrews reports, propelled him into the future of medicine. Spievack’s brother, Alan, a medical research scientist, sent him a special powder and told him to sprinkle it on the wound.
“I powdered it on until it was covered,” Spievack recalled.
To his astonishment, every bit of his fingertip grew back.
“Yes, it is,” Badylak explained. “We took this and turned it into a powdered form.”
That powder is a substance made from pig bladders called extracellular matrix. It is a mix of protein and connective tissue surgeons often use to repair tendons and it holds some of the secrets behind the emerging new science of regenerative medicine.
“It tells the body, start that process of tissue regrowth,” said Badylak.
Badlayk is one of the many scientists who now believe every tissue in the body has cells which are capable of regeneration. All scientists have to do is find enough of those cells and “direct” them to grow.
“Somehow the matrix summons the cells and tell them what to do,” Badylak explained. “It helps instruct them in terms of where they need to go, how they need to differentiate – should I become a blood vessel, a nerve, a muscle cell or whatever.”
If this helped Spievack’s finger regrow, Badylak says, at least in theory, you should be able to grow a whole limb.
I sure hope so. I wonder if there’s a time limit on how soon after the injury the Magickal Regenerating Pixie Dust has to be sprinkled on the wound.
The second-longest game in hockey history was played last weekend, as host Kölner Haie beat Adler Mannheim, 5-4, in the sixth overtime of their German DEL quarterfinal, a contest that lasted a total of 168 minutes 16 seconds. But there was something even more incredible about that game.
The winning goalie, who stopped 96 of 100 shots, is recovering from a malignant brain tumor.
Kölner goalie Robert Müller is in his first full season back after undergoing an operation in November 2006 to remove most of the tumor, followed by a full course of chemo- and radiation therapy. At the time he received the diagnosis, he was playing for Mannheim.
Just three months after the operation, Müller, who said he never thought about ending his career, returned to the ice for the DEL All-Star game, “an amazing feeling,” he said. He was in the Mannheim lineup when the team won the German championship, although he played little.
He joined Kölner midway through the current season and became the starting goalie, though he must keep close watch on his condition. “The tumor couldn’t be removed 100 percent — there is still a little part in my head but it’s shrinking,” he said. “Once a month I get chemotherapy for five days, but it doesn’t affect me.”
The marathon game… was second in length only to the Detroit Red Wings’ 1-0 win over the Montreal Maroons in 1936, which ended when Mud Bruneteau scored at 176:30. Normie Smith had the shutout in that game, stopping either 89 or 92 shots, according to varying sources.
The next Kölner-Mannheim match, two nights after the six-OT contest, was tied after regulation as well, but ended after just 14:30 of extra time when Kölner won again, 4-3. Müller turned aside 56 of 59 shots in that one. The team has reached the semifinals, with Müller sporting a .950 save percentage.
Kölner’s general manager, Rodion Pauels, said that Müller’s playoff performance has left him “without words.”
Müller says he has gotten a lot of support from fans after coming back from the operation. “It was unbelievable,” he said. “From all over Germany I received greetings and wishes. After my comeback even the fans from other teams welcomed me in the stadiums with applause. That was great.”
Sanguine about facing 100 shots in a single game — “It was a new experience. The biggest feeling was to win the game finally; it was hard to play the game but still okay.”…
Hideki Matsui, whose every move is watched closely by the Japanese media, managed to escape the spotlight and get married without anybody knowing about it.
Matsui was scheduled to be off Wednesday, and two days prior to that, he let manager Joe Girardi know that he planned to fly to New York and get married in a chapel there on his off-day. He told almost nobody, just his immediate family, his Japanese bride’s immediate family and a couple of Yankees officials.
“I met somebody who felt right,” Matsui said through an interpreter, “and that was it.”
A statement Matsui released through the Yankees, said: “The bride is a 25-year-old civilian and had been formerly working in a reputable position at a highly respected company.”
Well, I’m glad he cleared that up. I understand that he presumably wants to protect his new wife’s privacy from the ravening media mob, but that certainly is a… unique way of handling it. And he’s going to have to go out in public with her eventually, right? …Right?
You’d think installing the guy and having 150,000 troops there to underwrite his government would at least buy American forces a heads up. You’d be wrong.
Maliki decided to launch the offensive without consulting his U.S. allies, according to administration officials.
Well, then at the very least, you’d think that with 150,000 troops stationed in Iraq, the Administration would have some idea of what is going on. You’d be wrong.
With little U.S. presence in the south, and British forces in Basra confined to an air base outside the city, one administration official said that “we can’t quite decipher” what is going on. It’s a question, he said, of “who’s got the best conspiracy” theory about why Maliki decided to act now.
Well, then you’d assume that if Maliki decided to do this without giving any real indication to the U.S. government, we aren’t actually going to get our troops involved in the fray. Wrong again.
U.S. forces in armored vehicles battled Mahdi Army fighters Thursday in Sadr City, the vast Shiite stronghold in eastern Baghdad, as an offensive to quell party-backed militias entered its third day. Iraqi army and police units appeared to be largely holding to the outskirts of the area as American troops took the lead in the fighting.
“Culture of dependency” isn’t just a talking point invented by opponents of the war. It’s a way of life for the Iraqi government. They do stupid things that put our troops at risk for their own political benefit because they know that American troops will step into the breech and cover their asses.
So al-Maliki goes off half-cocked and our troops have to go chasing after him without any warning or preparation? Faaantastic. Good thing al-Sadr doesn’t have any dragons.
(Note: We should probably not infer that Dubya = The Warcraft Geek Who Meticulously Plans The Operation That Leeroy Screws Up)
The builders of the world’s biggest particle collider are being sued in federal court over fears that the experiment might create globe-gobbling black holes or never-before-seen strains of matter that would destroy the planet.
Representatives at Fermilab in Illinois and at Europe’s CERN laboratory, two of the defendants in the case, say there’s no chance that the Large Hadron Collider would cause such cosmic catastrophes. Nevertheless, they’re bracing to defend themselves in the courtroom as well as the court of public opinion.
Some folks outside the scientific mainstream have asked…: Could the collider create mini-black holes that last long enough and get big enough to turn into a matter-sucking maelstrom? Could exotic particles known as magnetic monopoles throw atomic nuclei out of whack? Could quarks recombine into “strangelets” that would turn the whole Earth into one big lump of exotic matter?
Former nuclear safety officer Walter Wagner has been raising such questions for years – first about an earlier-generation “big bang machine” known as the Relativistic Heavy-Ion Collider, and more recently about the LHC.
Last Friday, Wagner and another critic of the LHC’s safety measures, Luis Sancho, filed a lawsuit in Hawaii’s U.S. District Court. The suit calls on the U.S. Department of Energy, Fermilab, the National Science Foundation and CERN to ease up on their LHC preparations for several months while the collider’s safety was reassessed.
The defense attorneys would likely dwell on the regulatory and procedural questions rather than the worries over a cosmic catastrophe. Those worries have been around for years, and most physicists have scoffed at them for almost as long. The doomsday scenarios raised by Sancho and Wagner include:
o Runaway black holes: Some physicists say the LHC could create microscopic black holes that would hang around for just a tiny fraction of a second and then decay. Sancho and Wagner worry that millions of black holes might somehow persist and coalesce into a compact gravitational mass that would draw in other matter and grow bigger. That’s pure science fiction, said Michio Kaku, a theoretical physicist at the City College of New York. “These black holes don’t live very long, and they have microscopic energy, and so they are harmless,” he told me.
o Strangelets: Smashing protons together at high enough energies could create new combinations of quarks, the particles that protons are made of. Sancho and Wagner worry that a nasty combination known as a stable, negatively charged strangelet could theoretically turn everything it touches into strangelets as well. Kaku compared this to the ancient myth of the Midas touch. “We see no evidence of this bizarre theory,” he said. “Once in a while, we trot it out to scare the pants off people. But it’s not serious.”
o Magnetic monopoles: One theory suggests that high-energy particle collisions might give rise to massive particles that have only one magnetic pole – only north, or only south, but not the north-south magnetism that dominates nature. Sancho and Wagner worry that such particles could be created in the LHC and start a runaway reaction that converts atoms into other forms of matter. But physicists have seen no evidence of such reactions, which should have occurred already as the result of more energetic cosmic-ray collisions in Earth’s upper atmosphere.
This week’s quote is from a very bizarre movie called The Item, about a small gang of crooks hired to transport – but not open – a mysterious package. Needless to say, they open it, and it turns out to contain a weird-looking telepathic alien who then proceeds to mess with all their heads.
I like liars. I like being lied to. Knowing that a liar is lying is almost like being told the truth. C’mon – lie to me.
And, of course, there’ll be other people’s cats…
J’s parents’ kitty, the provisionally named Sweetie.
Iraq’s Prime Minister was staring into the abyss today after his operation to crush militia strongholds in Basra stalled, members of his own security forces defected and district after district of his own capital fell to Shia militia gunmen.
With the threat of a civil war looming in the south, Nouri al-Maliki’s police chief in Basra narrowly escaped assassination in the crucial port city, while in Baghdad, the spokesman for the Iraqi side of the US military surge was kidnapped by gunmen and his house burnt to the ground.
Saboteurs also blew up one of Iraq’s two main oil pipelines from Basra, cutting at least a third of the exports from the city which provides 80 per cent of government revenue, a clear sign that the militias – who siphon significant sums off the oil smuggling trade – would not stop at mere insurrection.
In Baghdad, thick black smoke hung over the city centre tonight and gunfire echoed across the city.
The most secure area of the capital, Karrada, was placed under curfew amid fears the Mahdi Army of Hojetoleslam Moqtada al-Sadr could launch an assault on the residence of Abdelaziz al-Hakim, the head of a powerful rival Shia governing party.
While the Mahdi Army has not officially renounced its six-month ceasefire, which has been a key component in the recent security gains, on the ground its fighters were chasing police and soldiers from their positions across Baghdad.
And this is what it looks like with the al-Sadr ceasefire still on. I’m glad to see that the Times Of London is acknowledging its role in Teh Surge’s apparent military success. Somehow I’m not expecting the American media to admit that Teh Surge’s squandered political breathing room was solely at al-Sadr’s sufferance, and not due to any kind of supreme tactical and strategic brilliance by Petraeus or (ha!) GeeDubya.
It sure does look like Iraq is beginning its death spiral into chaos and all-out bloody civil war, which the Republicans will desperately try to spin as All Iran And Al-Qaeda’s Fault rather than their own. It will also be cited as vindication of their We Must Never Leave Iraq Or It Will Fall Apart strategy – never mind that Iraq is already falling apart just fine with us there in all our Surgey glory.
Iraq is burning, and our troops are not water, but gasoline. The best thing we can do for the Iraqis is to get the hell out.
March 24: Vice President Dick Cheney says of the 4,000 dead American troops, “we are fortunate to have a group of men and women, the all-volunteer force, who voluntarily put on the uniform and go in harm’s way for the rest of us.”
Remind me again: where does all this cred come from? And what window do Democrats go to to get the same treatment the press gives McCain?
It encapsulates both the bedrock phoniness of McCain, and the alarming degree to which the media are in the tank for him – much like Dubya in the 2000 and 2004 elections. I have always viewed McCain as the scariest of all possible Republican nominees, for precisely this reason. The media are in love with McCain, and in love with the straight-talking Maverick image that they’ve crafted for him, and they will cut him all the slack that it is humanly possible to cut. (How much slack could the press corps cut, if the press corps could cut slack?) I was so relieved when it looked like his primary campaign was toast, and then look what happened. Sigh.
On the plus side, it doesn’t look like McCain is going to denounce the Iraqupation any time soon, so if the Democratic nominee runs an “If you want our troops to keep getting killed in Iraq forever, vote for John McCain” campaign, they might actually have a halfway decent shot. I sure do hope they get that this time – Kerry’s inability to say, “The war was a mistake and I will get us out immediately” hurt him at least as badly as the Swifties did.
Our great power does not mean we can do whatever we want whenever we want, nor should we assume we have all the wisdom and knowledge necessary to succeed. We need to listen to the views and respect the collective will of our democratic allies. When we believe international action is necessary, whether military, economic, or diplomatic, we will try to persuade our friends that we are right. But we, in return, must be willing to be persuaded by them.
But missing from both McCain’s remarks and the pre-coverage of his speech is “a fresh acknowledgment” of the fact that McCain has often acted less than collegial towards international allies with whom he disagrees.
For instance, during the rush to war with Iraq, McCain took great joy in childishly bashing France for its opposition to the war:
MCCAIN: [The French] remind me of an aging movie actress in the 1940s who’s still trying to dine out on her looks, but doesn’t have the face for it. The cynical role – the cynical role that France is playing proves that if – if you are not – you cannot be a great nation unless you have great purpose. And they’ve lost their purpose. And it’s very unfortunate, and perhaps Churchill and Roosevelt made a very serious mistake when they decided to give France a veto in the Security Council, following – when the United Nations was organized. [CBS, 2/16/03]
McCain has been equally vehement regarding the French: “The Lord said the poor will always be with us, and the French will be with us, too. This is part of a continuing French practice of throwing sand in the gears of the Atlantic alliance.” [Arizona Republic, 2/19/03]
Will the media give the contradiction between McCain’s speech and his record of French-bashing their customary “free ride“?
Tune in next week, when we will explore the Pope’s religious denomination and set the record straight on ursine bathroom habits.
The ad campaign would feature Bill Cosby in the throes of a bizarre psychosexual rage, using the product to slaughter people in a variety of lurid and creative ways, his trademark impish grin frozen into a Joker-like rictus of doom.
GMAC Bank is suing mortgage company HTFC for selling improperly secured loans, which lead to the hilariously blue and aggressive deposition from HTFC CEO Aron Wider. Wider dropped the f-bomb 73 times, frustrating the opposing counsel’s attempts to get him to answer difficult questions like “Where are you currently employed?” Some of the more colorful and creative expletives from the testimony of Mr. Wider, who, according to his company website, serves as company Coprorate Information [sic], CEO / Senior Underwriter, and Radio Engineer, inside…
Q: My question is where are you currently employed.
A: I’ m not. I just told [you] I work for free.
Q: OK. You’re not employed by the HTFC Corporation?
A: Hit That Fuckin’ Clown. That’s what it means.
Portfolio.com notes that the classy Mr. Wider got hit by a $29, 000 sanction for his performance, despite his lawyer’s claim that his abusive language was caused by an anxiety disorder.
Q: This is your loan file. What do Mr. and Mrs. Fitzgerald do for a living?
A: I don’t know. Open it up and find it.
Q: Look at your loan file and tell me.
A: Open it up and find it. I’m not your fucking bitch.
Q: Take a look at your loan application.
A: Do it yourself. Do it yourself. You want to do this in front of a judge. Would you prefer to [do] this in front of a judge? Then, shut the fuck up.
Q: Sir, take a look–
A: I’m taking a break. Fuck him. You open up the document. You want me to look at something, you get the document out. Earn your fucking money, asshole. Better get used to it. You’ll retire when I’m done.
Wow, the mortgage industry is helmed by individuals of such sterling character and class. How it then imploded still remains a complete mystery. Wider and his attorney were subsequently fined $29,000 by a federal judge for violating the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
I hope this guy’s an aberration, or we’re all doomed.
It’s not often we see a cellphone that we’re actually a little hesitant to pick up, but LG has managed to pull off that considerable feat with its new LG-SH240 slider, which boasts the rather unique characteristic of a keypad that purportedly feels like real human skin. If that hasn’t swayed you away from it, you can also expect the phone to pack a 2 megapixel camera, 3G HSDPA connectivity, and built-in Bluetooth, among other decidedly non-creepy features.
Really, that’s just disturbing.
4 commentsMarch 25th, 2008 at 09:05pmPosted by Eli
Bonddad and Barry Ritholtz are disturbed by the “Post-Fact World” we are all now living in… as am I. Barry first:
Many of the stated economic gains have been a false ghost. Whether it was overstated job creation (NFP), understated inflation (CPI) or “inflated” growth (GDP), a shocking amount of the debate about the economic expansion has been primarily spin.
That’s what attracted me to this book by Farhad Manjoo: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society. That such a book is even necessary boggles the mind. Consider the myriads of benefits and standards of living improvements we have seen from the reality-based community — and by that, I mean Scientists (Physicists, Biologists, Medical Doctors) and Engineers (Technology, materials and mechanical)….
…Why have we as a nation been increasingly reluctant to confront objective reality? What is it about the present social mood, political leadership, and economic environment that has so totally led us to a world of denial? Up is down, black is white, good is bad — its all very Orwellian.
There were a parade of syncophants and cheerleaders who, despite knowing better, continued to cheerlead punk data. These pundits, politicos and pinheads are now confronting the ugly reality they can no longer ignore. Consider the progression the motley crew of fools and liars went through: First they denied what was happening, then we got the whole contained thingie, then they blamed da Bears. Now, they have unwittingly embraced Marx, and have successfully pled for the central planners to rescue them from their own stupidity.
Here’s my question: Are we stuck with these fantasists? Has Truthiness replaced Truth? Are we going to be saddled forever with these damaging, hallucinatory hacks?
And Bonddad’s response, after pointing out that the national debt is huge (>$9 Trillion) and growing, and jobs and wages… aren’t, and conjecturing that this is due to not seven, but twenty-seven years of conservative economic policies:
The Right Wing Noise Machine is well aware of these facts. They can read numbers just like us. Larry Kudlow (and other Republican economists) knows where the St. Louis Federal Reserve’s website is. But that doesn’t matter. They can’t believe that their wonderful policies actually created the current problems. So they engage in spin rather than analysis.
Compounding this problem is the Republican dominance of the AM radio dial. I live in Houston Texas and all be have on AM radio is Republican talk radio all day long. All day long. Once those folks get on theme, they all repeat it ad infinitum until it becomes fact. I swear to God, if Rush Limbaugh said “the sky is purple today” within four days there would be a discussion on all the Republican talk radio shows about how the Democrats caused the sky to turn purple.
The point I’m getting to is the right wing noise machine has a lock on certain types of “information” distribution. And they use it to maximum advantage. They have dumbed down the conversation in multiple ways and done incredible harm to this country’s political dialogue.
And I have no idea how to stop it.
See, the way to learn and grow from mistakes is to look at the problem and try to figure out where you went wrong so you can get it right next time. The conservative approach, however, is to either deny that there’s a problem (consider Bush and other conservatives assuring us that the economy is fundamentally sound and Iraq is going great), to explain why the problem isn’t their fault (“Sure, I supported the war, but I thought Bush was a competent, moral, truthful guy! There was absolutely no evidence to the contrary!”), or possibly even both at the same time.
Which, of course, is a guaranteed recipe for repeating the same mistakes over and over again, because, well, they’re not actually mistakes. And certainly not avoidable ones.
Like Bonddad, I don’t know how to get truth heard over spin, truthiness, and outright lies. The blogs and alternative media have a very small voice compared to the cable and network news, the major newspapers, and – guh – talk radio. We’re talking and shouting as best we can, but until we get some mainstream megaphones of our own it’s like we’re at a dance party with laryngitis.