Not that any of the Tea Partiers know this, mind you.

Over at Kos: Four questions for Republicans, and four answers for undecided voters (click through for en-linkened sources):

Questions:

  1. What was the average monthly private sector job growth in 2008, the final year of the Bush presidency, and what has it been so far in 2010?

  2. What was the Federal deficit for the last fiscal year of the Bush presidency, and what was it for the first full fiscal year of the Obama presidency?

  3. What was the stock market at on the last day of the Bush presidency? What is it at today?

  4. Which party’s candidate for speaker will campaign this weekend with a Nazi reenactor who dressed up in a SS uniform?

Answers:

  1. In 2008, we lost an average of 317,250 private sector jobs per month. In 2010, we have gained an average of 95,888 private sector jobs per month. (Source) That’s a difference of nearly five million jobs between Bush’s last year in office and President Obama’s second year.

  2. In FY2009, which began on September 1, 2008 and represents the Bush Administration’s final budget, the budget deficit was $1.416 trillion. In FY2010, the first budget of the Obama Administration, the budget deficit was $1.291 trillion, a decline of $125 billion. (Source) Yes, that means President Obama has cut the deficit — there’s a long way to go, but we’re in better shape now than we were under Bush and the GOP.

  3. On Bush’s final day in office, the Dow, NASDAQ, and S&P 500 closed at 7,949, 1,440, and 805, respectively. Today, as of 10:15AM Pacific, they are at 11,108, 2,512, and 1,183. That means since President Obama took office, the Dow, NASDAQ, and S&P 500 have increased 40%, 74%, and 47%, respectively.

  4. The Republican Party, whose candidate for speaker, John Boehner, will campaign with Nazi re-enactor Rich Iott this weekend. If you need an explanation why this is offensive, you are a lost cause.

Oh, and odds are, you got a tax cut under Obama, too. But never mind that.

There’s so much suck here I can hardly stand it

Balko has more; it’s yet another tale of goofball prosecutorial tomfoolery and law-enforcement vendettas against pain management people.

In this particular case, a Bush-appointed US Attorney is actively persecuting a third party for questioning her prosecution of a pain specialist.

Yeah, you read that right. She’s brought charges against someone for criticizing her, and has further managed to get the court to rule the whole thing is too sensitive to be public. How chilling is that?

The whole imbroglio started under Bush, but — as I noted when he was making those power grabs — the Executive branch almost never lets go of power, so the abuse has continued under Obama’s watch.

The case is now in front of SCOTUS. Balko quotes Jacob Sullum:

This level of secrecy, which the Associated Press says “has alarmed First Amendment supporters” who see it as “highly unusual” and “patently wrong,” is clearly not justified by the need to protect the confidentiality of grand jury proceedings. The 10th Circuit decided to seal even the Reason/I.J. amicus brief, which is based entirely on publicly available information. More generally, the gist of the case could have been discussed without revealing grand jury material, as Reynolds’ Supreme Court petition shows. Although the court-ordered redactions make the 10th Circuit’s reasoning as described in the petition hard to follow at times, the details generally can be filled in with information that has been reported in the press (which shows how silly the pretense of secrecy is). Furthermore, one of the main justifications for grand jury secrecy — that it protects innocent people who are investigated but never charged — does not apply in a case like this, where the target of the investigation wants more openness and it’s the government that is trying to hide information. As Corn-Revere argues, such secrecy turns the intended role of the grand jury on its head, making it an instrument of oppression instead of a bulwark against it…

I’d like to show you the Reason/I.J. brief defending Reynolds’ First Amendment rights, but I’m not allowed to!

Henceforth, she will be known as Officer Badass

Off-duty cop Feris Jones was getting her hair in Brooklyn done on Saturday when a thief became very unlucky:

The gunman ordered the four people there [...] to place their belongings in a black bag, the police said. He then ordered them into a bathroom in the back while he searched the shop for more worth stealing.

In the bathroom, Mr. Browne said, Officer Jones pulled out her revolver. She whispered to the other three women to lie down and gave the proprietor her cellphone and told her to call 911. Then she stepped out of the bathroom, identified herself as a police officer and ordered the robber to drop his gun, the police said. He refused and opened fire from about 12 feet away, Mr. Browne said, shooting four times in quick succession.

One bullet whizzed past Officer Jones’s head. She fired back, emptying her five-shot revolver. One shot knocked the gun from the man’s two-handed grip, piercing his right middle finger and grazing his left hand, according to the police. Another shot hit the lock on the front door, jamming it. The gunman tried to flee, Mr. Browne said, but could not get the door open. Finally, he grabbed his gun, kicked out a lower panel on the door and crawled out. Officer Jones followed him out the door to see which way he was running.

Winston Cox, 19, was eventually apprehended in a Brooklyn motel after police tracked him via his blood trail to his mother’s home.

The story does not say, but I really hope Officer Jones blew the smoke from her barrel as Cox ran away.

This is bad. Do not support this.

Apple has released the guidelines for its new “Mac App Store,” and they’re basically the same as for the iPhone: an iron hand controlling the whole process, no guarantee of placement, a 30% cut to Apple, and a whole lot of rules that limit content.

Walled garden crap like this is objectionable on a phone, but Apple’s getting away with it because of how fragmented the market has been. Walled garden bullshit on a real desktop platform is complete and utter horseshit, and deserves to be denounced from every quarter. Seriously, Steve, fuck this. It’s obnoxious and controlling, and could seriously damage your platform.

Christine O’Donnell: Still a buffoon

The Washington Post covered her most recent debate, wherein it became clear that she did not understand that separation of church and state is part of the First Amendment:

Republican Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell of Delaware on Tuesday questioned whether the U.S. Constitution calls for a separation of church and state, appearing to disagree or not know that the First Amendment bars the government from establishing religion.

The exchange came in a debate before an audience of legal scholars and law students at Widener University Law School, as O’Donnell criticized Democratic nominee Chris Coons’ position that teaching creationism in public school would violate the First Amendment by promoting religious doctrine.

Coons said private and parochial schools are free to teach creationism but that “religious doctrine doesn’t belong in our public schools.”

“Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?” O’Donnell asked him.

When Coons responded that the First Amendment bars Congress from making laws respecting the establishment of religion, O’Donnell asked: “You’re telling me that’s in the First Amendment?”

Her comments, in a debate aired on radio station WDEL, generated a buzz in the audience.

“You actually audibly heard the crowd gasp,” Widener University political scientist Wesley Leckrone said after the debate, adding that it raised questions about O’Donnell’s grasp of the Constitution.

This woman wants to be a Senator. Seriously.

Update: TalkingPointsMemo has video.

Foobawl

So, GOOD for Alabama?

Ohio State looks crappy, and Auburn needed 60+ to put a Mallett-less Arkansas away.

Bad for Alabama, but still awesome? Spurrier’s Cock(s) got stuffed by Kentucky in a match that included some game management tricks right out of Les Miles’ playbook. Bama would be bolstered by SC continuing to win, but at the end of the day we just can’t support supporting South Carolina. Go Wildcats!

Next up: the postgame from the Alabama homecoming game.

Other Note: Today’s best game was probably the “Houston Bowl,” a back-and-forth affair between Rice and UH that Rice eventually won by the skin of its teeth. Heathen HQ are collectively stupid for not attending this one; by all accounts, it was some fine football.

Must. Have.

Tom Waits recorded some music with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band:

On November 19th, Preservation Hall Recordings will release 504 limited edition hand-numbered 78 rpm vinyl records featuring two tracks by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band with very special guest Tom Waits. Proceeds from the sale of this very special project will benefit the Preservation Hall Junior Jazz & Heritage Brass Band.

Mr. Waits traveled to New Orleans in 2009 to record two songs with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band for the critically acclaimed project Preservation: An album to benefit Preservation Hall and the Preservation Hall Music Outreach Program, “Tootie Ma Was A Big Fine Thing,” and “Corrine Died On The Battlefield,” Originally recorded by Danny Barker in 1947, these two selections are the earliest known recorded examples of Mardi Gras Indian chants.

The two tracks will now be packaged in a special limited edition 78 rpm format record, each signed and numbered by Preservation Hall Creative Director Ben Jaffe. The first one hundred records will be accompanied by a custom-made Preservation Hall 78rpm record player as part of a Deluxe Donation package.

Said “deluxe” package is still only $200, and will be available to the first 100 purchases on November 19 at Preservation Hall at 10AM central, or online the day after.

I think I’m about to go buy a plane ticket, as the nice lady at the shop just told me she believes the deluxe edition will only be available onsite. SWA has roundtrips for about $130 for that Friday…

The Mystery of Free Public Wifi

So, this is sort of delightful and hilarious.

If you travel at all, or take your laptop (or phone, these days) into places that may have a wifi network you can use — airports, hotels, coffeeshops, conference centers, etc. — you’ve seen the everpresent mystery network “Free Public Wifi.” Maybe you’ve even tried to connect to it — I never have, since it looks obviously fake to me, but I have always wondered why it’s there.

Well, NPR has the story. The gist it this:

When a computer running an older version of XP can’t find any of its “favorite” wireless networks, it will automatically create an ad hoc network with the same name as the last one it connected to -– in this case, “Free Public WiFi.” Other computers within range of that new ad hoc network can see it, luring other users to connect.

The hilarious part of this is that the notion of this mythical network has spread based entirely on this bug for years now, but nobody actually knows where the original, valid “Free Public Wifi” network was. It just lives on, a digital zombie, in the memories of a million out-of-date Windows laptops. Here’s a more detailed walkthrough of how the network ID has spread; it really is “viral,” just nondestructive.

Bonus: It’s not the only one. If you see ad-hoc networks out in the wild named things like “dlink” or “linksys,” they’re probably the result of the same bug.

Happy Us.

Five years ago today, we threw one hell of a party, for the best reason ever.

Happy anniversary, baby. I love you.

erinandchet-wedding.jpg

What magazines used to be like

The subtitle of this piece is “down the ladder from Playboy to Maxim,” and that about sums it up. Consider that, once upon a time, the best markets for fiction in the US were the “big four” magazines: The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Esquire, and — yes — Playboy. Hef’s mag ran stories by Steinbeck, Vonnegut, Hemingway, Styron, Nabokov, Cheever, and others.

Imagine that in FHM. Hell, imagine anything longer than 200 words in one of those lad mags.

Charlie Stross Bursts Your Bubble

Herein, he explains why, barring some pretty enormous (i.e., almost magical) developments w/r/t energy production and storage, not to mention propulsion systems, nobody is going to visit that new planet. Possibly ever.

tl;dr? Basically, people have no damn conception of just exactly how far apart things are in the universe, and what kind of energy it takes to move anything of consequence.

(Via JWZ.)

Roll Tide: The Grey Lady Edition

Tomorrow’s story is already posted in re: the absolute skullfucking Alabama gave #7 Florida tonight:

Alabama does not want any thoughtful dialogue on the national championship race. The Crimson Tide has played poorly on the road and won. It has played with a rebuilt defense and won. It has played without its Heisman Trophy winner and won.

For those watching top-ranked Alabama, it is becoming harder not to end the discussion on half of the national championship matchup, fast-forward to January and put the Crimson Tide in the Bowl Championship Series title game against any of a half-dozen challengers who would all look like underdogs.

A bit later, we come across a fun stat:

Alabama safety Mark Barron, linebacker Courtney Upshaw and defensive lineman Marcell Dareus were particularly hard to handle for the Gators, who gained only 79 yards rushing and were held without a touchdown for the first time since Oct. 1, 2005.

Widely noted by now, of course, is that Alabama QB Greg McElroy has not lost a game in which he started since he was in middle school. That’s a nice run.

Roll. Tide. Roll.

Heathen Nation? You’re old.

Today, the President released the following statement:

October 2, 2010

Statement by the President on the Occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the Reunification of East and West Germany

On Sunday, October 3, the people of the United States join with the people of the Federal Republic of Germany in celebrating the Day of German Unity and the 20th anniversary of the unification of East and West Germany. This was an historic achievement, as Germans peacefully reunited and advanced our shared vision of a Europe whole and free, anchored in the Euro-Atlantic institutions of NATO and the European Union. The United States commemorates today that spirit and the many accomplishments of Germany, one of our closest allies and greatest friends. We pay tribute to the countless contributions Germans have made to our own history and society. We honor the courage and conviction of the German people that brought down the Berlin Wall, ending decades of painful and artificial separation. It unleashed a spirit of hope and joy, and opened the door to unprecedented freedom throughout the European continent and around the world. The American people are proud of our role in defending a free Berlin and in supporting the German people in their quest for human dignity. We remain proud of our partnership with our German allies to advance freedom, prosperity, and stability around the world. We congratulate the people of Germany on this National Day, and we express our gratitude for our vital friendship.

Germany, of course, was traditionally one nation, except for 45-year postwar period that was considered “normal” for GenX. People who can vote today have never heard of “East Germany.”

Where you tax money goes

It’s painfully obvious that most people are completely ignorant about not just taxation but also basic facts about where your tax money goes. This is particularly galling, since we live in an age of Miracles and Wonders where such answers are seconds away with any web browser.

Most Heathen understand how tax brackets work, of course, but I thought it might be useful to link to this rundown of where tax dollars actually go, from the folks at NPR’s Planet Money (which is in general very, very worth your time).

In the linked post, the PM guys provide a hypothetical receipt for a taxpayer who earned $34,140 and paid $5,400 in Federal taxes and FICA.

By far the largest chunks are Social Security (about 19% of the tax bill), Medicare (12%), and Medicaid (7%). Next up is interest on the national debt (5%), the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (4%). Where’s foreign aid? 0.8%. NASA? Half a percent.

Oh, and arts funding? Only 24 cents of this tax bill, which is a whopping 0.004%. Click through; it’s interesting — plus, it’s just plain responsible to have some notion of the relative sizes of the various Federal obligations.