May 20, 2012

Makes No Census

Difficult to express how stupid this is:

But last week, the Republican-led House voted to eliminate the survey altogether, on the grounds that the government should not be butting its nose into Americans’ homes.

“This is a program that intrudes on people’s lives, just like the Environmental Protection Agency or the bank regulators,” said Daniel Webster, a first-term Republican congressman from Florida who sponsored the relevant legislation.

“We’re spending $70 per person to fill this out. That’s just not cost effective,” he continued, “especially since in the end this is not a scientific survey. It’s a random survey.”

In fact, the randomness of the survey is precisely what makes the survey scientific, statistical experts say.

May 18, 2012

Only Doing His Job

No. I’m no birther. But some people in my stare are, and — Heavens to Betsy! — I can’t just ignore them:

According to Bennett, his request for officials in Hawaii to verify the existence of Obama’s birth certificate has gone unanswered for eight weeks. Bennett said he was surprised by the lack of response, but it is worth mentioning that Hawaii hasn’t expressed the greatest fondness in being the primary recipient of incessant birther demands.

In 2010, before the release of Obama’s long-form birth certificate, the flood of birther activity became so distracting that Gov. Linda Lingle (R) signed a bill allowing state officials to ignore requests for copies of the document.

Bennett even admitted that Hawaiian officials told him they were “tired of all the requests,” but the secretary of state didn’t appear deterred.

Bennett’s move is just the latest birther bustle in Arizona, which has been a hotbed for Obama eligibility conspiracy theories over the past few years. Clamor over a bill meant to address the issue was temporarily silenced last year when Gov. Jan Brewer (R)vetoed the measure, calling it “a bridge too far.”

May 13, 2012

Rhetorica At 10

I’m ten years burning down the road 
Nowhere to run aint got nowhere to go 

–Bruce Springsteen

The 10-year anniversary of Rhetorica has come and gone without notice. Or, rather, I’m noticing it now almost three weeks late.

Ten years means Rhetorica is one of the oldest, continuously-published blogs on the interwebs. That’s kinda cool.

Moving forward… I’m not sure what that means. I’ve obviously tired of day-to-day blogging here. That was apparent awhile back when I declared that I was no longer interested in examining the press-politics nexus. Part of the reason for that is my belief that political reporting in the United States is broken — hopelessly broken. And politics for that matter is also hopelessly broken. I fear the whole damned experiment we call America is broken.

If we are to fix anything, I think we have to start in our local communities where the insanity of partisan national politics, and the stenographic journalism that enables it, is often an annoying insect buzzing about our heads. We swat it away and get on with the business of making our lives better where it really counts. I’m getting a lot more satisfaction with my local blogging than I am with Rhetorica because, frankly, Carbon Trace makes a difference.

I have occasionally written about local journalism on Rhetorica. And I may do so again from time to time.

I would say “stay tuned” except that I’m not sure what you’d be tuning in for 🙂 I’ll let you know when I figure it out.

May 10, 2012

From the WTF Department

Our republic can’t work if people are stupid:

After nearly four years in the Oval Office, President Obama is incorrectly thought to be Muslim by one in six American voters, and only one quarter of voters can correctly identify him as a Protestant, according to a new poll.

May 9, 2012

Kar Kulture

Cars kill community connections for kids:

It turns out vehicular traffic does something else, too, more subtle but equally pernicious: It changes the way children see and experience the world by diminishing their connection to community and neighbors. A generation ago, urbanist researcher Donald Appleyard showed how heavy traffic in cities erodes human connections in neighborhoods, contributing to feelings of dissatisfaction and loneliness. Now his son, Bruce Appleyard, has been looking into how constantly being in and around cars affects children’s perception and understanding of their home territory.

May 4, 2012

Lipstick On A BM

Social media, PR, and mad men at McDonald’s:

It was a simple plan. McDonald’s would pay to appear at the top of the trends list on Twitter’s home page, using the social-media site to drive people to its new commercials highlighting some of the real-life farmers and ranchers who supply McDonald’s with its ingredients. Executives at the fast-food company loved the commercials; the word in-house was “authenticity.”

May 2, 2012

Falling Ever Farther Behind

Productivity is up! Wages are down! Makes perfect sense:

Economic fairness is one of the persistent themes of the 2012 election, and in that spirit the liberal Economic Policy Institute is revisiting the plight of the U.S. worker over the last several decades.

Many of the institute’s findings, which will be presented in greater detail in the forthcoming edition of “The State of Working America,” will be familiar to economists who study income inequality. But they provide a stark illustration of the fact that the vast majority of workers have been closed out of the country’s gains for nearly 40 years.

Particularly striking is the fact that for years leading up to the 1970s, productivity gains were broadly shared, as theory predicts. Then the linkage abruptly broke. What explains the shift?

“The big shift is really in the ’80s, which I would attribute to [Fed Chairman Paul] Volcker’s recession in 1980-82, which killed workers,” said Dean Baker, co-founder of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, who has conducted similar studies. “A high dollar in the mid-80s amplified this effect. You also had the anti-union policies of the Reagan administration.”