Chart of the day

Via Ezra:

“Congressional Republicans may have become more anti-tax in the last 30 years, but the American public has made the opposite transition: in March 1982, three-quarters of Americans said spending cuts alone should be used to reduce deficits; today, about the same share say tax increases should be included in any debt-reduction package. Remember, of course, that tax rates were much higher 30 years ago than they are today.” — Catherine Rampell, Economix. Here’s more from Bruce Bartlett. 

Honestly, when you consider how out of touch the modern Republican party actually is with voters on economic issues, it really is quite impressive the level of electoral success they’ve achieved.  Of course voters want the lower taxes Republicans promise, but they don’t want the lower services that come with that, and they are quite happy to see more taxes on rich people.  

Kathleen Parker vs Occam’s Razor

Kathleen Parker’s column today argues that Mitt Romney’s “flip flop” on abortion is not an act of political expediency, but rather a thoughtfully-reasoned and genuine attitude change of a mature adult who has simply learned more about the science and ethics of early human life.  Riiiiiiight.

This is not to suggest that Romney hasn’t changed his mind. There is a record. Then again, who but the most-barnacled ideologue hasn’t had a change of heart given new information (abortion), experience (Romneycare) or circumstances (a national election vs. a state one)?

Romney wasn’t some still politically unformed 20-year old when he was running for Massachusetts governor– he was a middle-aged father with plenty of political experience and surely a pretty solid understanding of what’s going on in-utero in a 1st trimester pregnancy.

So, there’s that, or we could believe that Romney– most likely always pro-life (the man is a devout Mormon)– strongly advocated a pro-choice position because he would not be able to be elected governor or a liberal state otherwise.  Then, running for a Republican presidential nomination where he could not get elected without being strongly pro-life, he is strongly pro-life.     One of these narratives strikes me as just a tad more believable.

I don’t know what Romney actually believes on abortion.  And it doesn’t really matter, because the best evidence suggests that his political position will always be the one which makes him more electable to a particular constituency.

Photo of the Day

I’ve come to love Alan Taylor’s InFocus at the Atlantic so much, I decided I need to find more sites like it.  Well, I found out that before InFocus, he ran a site for the Boston Globe called “The Big Picture.”  I’ts been taken over by others, but it is pretty awesome.  I especially enjoyed the set of photos emphasizing variations in human density in response to the 7 billionth human.

End of Television comedy

Nice article in the Times last week on how we’ve reached the end of television comedy.  No, not like that, but like Fukiyama’s end of history:

I don’t think my disenchantment is a result of graduating to cranky-old-man status. Heck, I was cranky when I was 25, but I still laughed at “M*A*S*H.” No, it’s definitely the End of Comedy. As with Francis Fukuyama’s much-discussed essay “The End of History,” that doesn’t mean there will be no more small-screen humor. It means that television comedy has ceased evolving.

Certainly no series introduced this fall is breaking new ground.

It goes on to discuss five tired themes that come up again and again in modern TV comedy without any fresh takes.  I think the cheap reliance on shock humor is the lamest:

1. GUESS WHAT? WE HAVE GENITALS Nothing has been more prevalent on new sitcoms this fall than the organs and bodily functions centered just below the navel but above the knees. Ashton Kutcher made sure he made an impression in his “Two and a Half Men” debut by strolling around naked. Kat Dennings tossed off a “vagina” a minute into the first episode of “2 Broke Girls.” A few weeks ago on “New Girl,” Ms. Deschanel’s character accidentally saw one of her roommates naked and couldn’t shut up about it, or It.

Much of this barrage, though, has felt ham-handed, a clumsy celebration of the fact that the censors who used to keep words like “vagina” and “penis” out of prime time have apparently all died. We can say this, therefore we’re going to say it over and over.

But there have always been genital references on television; it’s just that the people making them in the past (besides needing to please those censors) knew that subtle is funnier than brazen.

You’ll have to click over to read the other tired and over-used themes.  For what it’s worth, I think 30 Rock, Parks & Recreation, and Modern Family are all doing consistently good work.

Herman Cain isn’t having any fun

So, with Herman Cain “re-assessing” his campaign (and possibly even having already dropped out by the time you read this), the one thing that comes to my mind is that this whole running for president thing just isn’t any fun for Cain any more.  For a while, it was lots of fun.  He got to go around at debates and say “9-9-9″ a lot and have lots of Tea Party types show him the love.  Meanwhile, there was not a lot of scrutiny and not a lot of hard work put into things like a campaign organization and a grueling schedule of meeting voters.  All the while, his future value as a Fox News commentator has been increasingly daily.  What’s not to like.  Then, honestly, I expect as much to his surprise as anyone, he became a frontrunner (at least in the poll-driven media take) and began to receive the scrutiny, etc., that a front-runner receives.  Not so fun.  True or not, does anybody seriously think these past allegations of sexual harassment and now an extra-marital affair would’ve ever come out if Cain had just remained “that Godfather’s pizza guy” saying 9-9-9 a lot and hovering at under 5% in the polls?  Absolutely not.  Running for president is not so fun when you get front-runner scrutiny.  The fun is over and it looks like so is Cain’s campaign.

Why is Siri anti-abortion?

I’m much to cheap to get an Iphone (though I love my Ipad and Itouch– those monthly data costs are killer), but I have to admit that the voice-activated assistant, Siri, is pretty cool.  I was pretty surprised to learn, though, that she’s really letting her politics get in the way.

Ask the Siri, the new iPhone 4 assistant, where to get an abortion, and, if you happen to be in Washington, D.C., she won’t direct you to the Planned Parenthood on 16th St, NW. Instead, she’ll suggest you pay a visit to the 1st Choice Women’s Health Center, an anti-abortion Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC) in Landsdowne, Virginia, or Human Life Services, a CPC in York, Pennsylvania. Ask Google the same question, and you’ll get ads for no less than 7 metro-area abortion clinics, 2 CPCs and a nationwide abortion referral service.

Ask in New York City, and Siri will tell you “I didn’t find any abortion clinics.”

It’s an experience that’s being replicated by women around the country: despite plentiful online information about actual places to get an abortion, Siri doesn’t seem to provide it. It’s a similar experience for women seeking emergency contraception: in New York City, Siri doesn’t know what Plan B is and, asked for emergency contraception, offers up a Google results page of definitions.

Lest you think this is representative of Siri just not being all that effective, it’s not:

But Siri certainly seems to know a whole lot about plenty of other things iPhone customers might want. Below are 10 things Siri can help you find.

1. Viagra.
2. Hospitals to go to if you’ve had an erection lasting for more than 5 hours.
3. Places you might be able to score marijuana.
4. Where to dump a body: in Brooklyn, it recommends a smelting plant in New Jersey.

No matter what you think of abortion, it’s just wrong that Siri seems to be forwarding an ideological agenda about a legal activity.  I’m honestly quite surprised.  I’d expect this form a Wal-Mart product, but Apple?

Nuclear protesting is fun!

Alan Taylor’s latest curated images, in this case a series of anti-nuclear protests in Germany.  I just loved this one as I’m quite amused by how much this one man has clearly enjoyed attaching himself to railroad tracks to prevent a train with nuclear waste from passing:

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