September 9, 2012
"There are three things that Democratic political candidates tend to do when talking with constituents: they display an impressive grasp of the minutiae of their constituents’ problems, particularly money problems; they rouse indignation by explaining how those problems are caused by powerful groups getting rich on the backs of ordinary people; and they present well-worked-out policy proposals that, if passed, would solve the problems and put the powerful groups in their place. Obama seldom does any of these things. He tends to underplay his knowledge, acting less informed than he is. He rarely accuses, preferring to talk about problems in the passive voice, as things that are amiss with us rather than as wrongs that have been perpetrated by them. And the solutions he offers generally sound small and local rather than deep-reaching and systemic."

From a New Yorker profile on Obama, The Conciliator.


September 7, 2012
"After each interruption, he would resume. Americans aren’t simply too tired to think about politics, he said; they’re being deliberately turned off. “If you make political discourse sufficiently negative, more people will become cynical and stop paying attention. That leaves more space for special interests to pursue their agendas, and that’s how we end up with drug companies making drug policy, energy companies making energy policy, and multinationals making trade policy.”"

Barack Obama from William Finnegan’s 2004 “The Candidate”, available for free from the New Yorker archive


September 7, 2012
why is everyone so down on Obama’s Hollywood support?

Every politician is actor. They have to be. The only difference is: is a politician an actor in the sense that he is someone who takes action, or is it in the sense that he is play-acting as though on a stage. A politician may be both, and may often need to be both, but can never be neither. If someone is not an actor in either sense of the word, she never would have run for office, much less won. 

September 14, 2011
"Even better, the app boasts a collection of ‘memorable quotes that can be easily shared via Facebook, Twitter, and email,’ thus giving your routinely expressed, vague anger with ‘the government’ some patina of intellectual grounding that your friends can “Like” and add, ‘So true!’ after. Unfortunately, so far the Atlas Shrugged app does not feature any games where you can load up a train with sociology professors and cowardly schoolteachers, then crash it in fun and wacky ways to teach everyone a lesson about bureaucracy, but hopefully that’s coming in an update."

Sean O’Neal, Atlas Shrugged app makes it easier than ever to be insufferable about Ayn Rand, The A.V. Club, September 13, 2011 (via finalgirldom)

oh man, this reminds me that i needed to join ATLASPHERE.

August 18, 2011
i’d be a really good investigative reporter.


At Wednesday’s town hall in Atkinson, Ill., a local farmer who said he grows corn and soybeans expressed his concerns to President Obama about “more rules and regulations” – including those concerning dust, noise and water runoff — that he heard would negatively affect his business.

The president, on day three of his Midwest bus tour, replied: “If you hear something is happening, but it hasn’t happened, don’t always believe what you hear.”

When the room broke into soft laughter, the president added, “No — and I’m serious about that.”


Wednesday, 2:40 p.m. ET: After calling the USDA’s main line, I am told to call the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Here, I am patched through to a man who is identified as being in charge of “support services.” I leave a message.

3:53 p.m.: The man calls me back and recommends in a voicemail message that I call the Illinois Farm Bureau — a non-governmental organization.

4:02 p.m.: A woman at the Illinois Farm Bureau connects me to someone in the organization’s government affairs department. That person tells me they “don’t quite know who to refer you to.”

4:06 p.m.: I call the Illinois Department of Agriculture again, letting the person I spoke with earlier know that calling the Illinois Farm Bureau had not been fruitful. He says “those are the kinds of groups that are kind of on top of this or kind of follow things like this. We deal with pesticide here in our bureau.”

“You only deal with pesticides?” I ask.

“We deal with other things … but we mainly deal with pesticides here,” he said, and gives me the phone number for the office of the department’s director, where he says there are “policy people” as well as the director’s staff.

4:10 p.m.: Someone at the director’s office transfers me to the agriculture products inspection department, where a woman says their branch deals with things like animal feed, seed and fertilizer.

“I’m going to transfer you to one of the guys at environmental programs.”

4:15 p.m.: I reach the answering machine at the environmental programs department, and leave a message.

4:57 p.m.: A man from the environmental programs department gets back to me: “I hate to be the regular state worker that’s always accused of passing the buck, but noise and dust regulation would be under our environmental protection agency, rather than the Agriculture Department,” he says, adding that he has forwarded my name and number to the agriculture adviser at IEPA.

On Thursday morning, POLITICO started the hunt for an answer again, this time calling the USDA’s local office in Henry County, Ill., where the town hall took place.

9:42 a.m.: Asked if someone at the office might be able to provide me with the information I requested, the woman on the phone responds, “Not right now. We may have to actually look that up — did you Google this or anything?”

When I say that I’m a reporter and would like to discuss my experience with someone who handles media relations there, I am referred to the USDA’s state office in Champaign. I leave a message there.

10:40 a.m.: A spokeswoman for the Illinois Natural Resources Conservation Service calls me, to whom I explain my multiple attempts on Wednesday and Thursday to retrieve the information I was looking for.

“What I can tell you is our particular agency does not deal with regulations,” she tells me. “We deal with volunteers who voluntarily want to do things. I think the reason you got that response from the Cambridge office is because in regard to noise and dust regulation, we don’t have anything to do with that.”

She adds that the EPA would be more capable of answering questions regarding regulations.

Finally, I call the USDA’s main media relations department, based here in Washington, where I explain to a spokesperson about my failed attempts to obtain an answer to the Illinois farmer’s question. This was their response, via email:

“Secretary Vilsack continues to work closely with members of the Cabinet to help them engage with the agricultural community to ensure that we are separating fact from fiction on regulations because the Administration is committed to providing greater certainty for farmers and ranchers. Because the question that was posed did not fall within USDA jurisdiction, it does not provide a fair representation of USDA’s robust efforts to get the right information to our producers throughout the country.”

So, still no answer to the farmer’s question.

i really like keeping tedious logs and getting thrown around on the phone by various agencies. it’s something of a skill and hobby i’d acquired from my last job.

3:38pm  |   URL:
Filed under: obama farmer politics 
August 16, 2011



This is an interesting interactive graphic on where opinion leaders from political office, the media, academia and think tanks stand on the Afghan War. It was created by the Afghanistan Study Group to accompany their new report: “A New Way Forward: Rethinking US Strategy in Afghanistan.” Downloadable here

Dead useful.

Where do you stand with everybody here?

this looks like it must have taken an insane amount of time to make.

August 9, 2011

Top 5 weirdest Mitt Romney moments

“Romeny would lose the dog lovers vote, after this 2007 story circulated that he made a 12-hour family road trip in 1983 with their Irish setter, Seamus, strapped to the roof in a dog carrier.”
and then: “In 2008, Mitt Romney marched in a  Martin Luther King parade and then posed for a photo with several African-American children.

"Who let the dogs out?" joked Romney, as they gathered for a photo.”


Top 5 weirdest Mitt Romney moments

Romeny would lose the dog lovers vote, after this 2007 story circulated that he made a 12-hour family road trip in 1983 with their Irish setter, Seamus, strapped to the roof in a dog carrier.”


and then: “In 2008, Mitt Romney marched in a  Martin Luther King parade and then posed for a photo with several African-American children.

"Who let the dogs out?" joked Romney, as they gathered for a photo.”


March 22, 2011
Small World Controversy

this is something I used to be involved in. isn’t life weird?

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