How social media makes us all dumber: Calling bull$*!t on that heartwarming NYPD boots story

Creepy NYPD Flag

The actual, creepy, fascist-looking, official NYPD flag

The culture of social media is changing the world for the better in many ways. There is a flip side though. Established institutions are getting better at manipulating the stories that are told on social networks. Governments and corporations put significant time and money into crafting stories that they hope will go viral. Most of this effort is wasted. When it works though, the benefits for that organization are enormous.

The New York Police Department (NYPD) is the closest thing to a totalitarian organization you can find in the United States. 21st Century New York City is a theme park for the world’s rich. The NYPD is given 3.9 Billion dollars a year to keep the janitorial staff of that theme park in line. It may deserve some credit for the city’s fall in crime, but not as much credit as it is given. Crime is falling throughout the United States and it is doing so without the NYPD’s extreme and racist tactics. The NYPD is currently under fire for many of its practices. Its policy of stopping and frisking law-abiding pedestrians at random is currently being challenged in court because 87% of its victims are black or latino. The NYPD famously spent six years illegally spying on New York City’s Muslim community at the cost of millions of dollars, and failed to produce a single credible accusation of terrorism. Up until recently they were also using the stop and frisk program to arrest 50,000 people a year for marijuana possession, despite the fact that New York City de-criminalized possession in the 1970s (victims were forced to publicly display the marijuana, which is still illegal). The NYPD’s appearance in serious news lately has largely been due to fall out from one of these scandals.

What is it most known for this week though? How are people all over the country hearing about the NYPD for the first time?

The story goes like this: Larry DePrimo, a “handsome” young officer according to People Magazine, noticed a shoeless homeless man in Times Square on the night of November 14th. It was a “cold November” night according to the New York Times, and Officer DePrimo was inspired to go to the local shoe store and buy the man some boots. This spontaneous act of charity was spontaneously recorded by Jennifer Foster of Arizona, who was inspired to email her story to the NYPD. According to her interview on the Today Show, Ms. Foster did this because her father was a police officer who often provided winter boots to homeless people in Phoenix, Arizona.

Every element of this story strains credibility. New York City is a large, progressive Northeastern City with a well developed shelter and social services network. As inspiring as DePrimo’s choice to buy boots for this guy may be, it probably would have made more sense to get him to a shelter. DePrimo’s “heroism” may have wasted an opportunity to get this guy off the streets and into subsidized housing. This officer is also surprisingly sensitive to cold. The Huffington Post: “I had two pairs of wool winter socks and combat boots, and I was cold,” DePrimo said Wednesday”. The weather recorded at Laguardia on November 14th was a high of 59 and low of 39, which this Tri-state area native has always seen as T-shirt weather.

If this story is not the transparent publicity stunt it appears to me to be, allow me to apologize to DePrimo and Foster. If the story is completely true, they are better human beings than I could ever hope to be.

Even if the story proves not to be, its treatment is definitely bull$*!t. This “news” was “reported” on the NYPD Facebook page, which is essentially a 21st century press release. Its details have been repeated verbatim, presumably with little fact checking, by every major news outlet in the country. This would not have been a story before Facebook. The news is the fact that the picture is a viral sensation. That is the story, and the only thing that national outlets really have to verify.

Every story prominently and positively points to the NYPD brand, and most of them do so in the headline, producing more viral brand love for the NYPD. None of these stories point to the institution’s deeply troubling past and present. If nothing else, this story has proved the utility of Facebook pages for large organizations.

Rob Morris is suspicious of a lot of things. He is particularly suspicious of the Drug War and American Foreign Policy.

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Albany New York sherrif’s deputy is a real hero in my book

Here is a law enforcement officer who protected the First Amendment rights of two citizens even though an airport low level bureaucrat objected. Hooray for Deputy Stan Lenic.

Update by SV: ‘First Amendment Cop’ has become an internet icon and local news sensation. Awesome.

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Consuming Black… Thursday?

The Salt Lake Tribune reports, “This season appears to mark the end of Black Friday as we know it.” Well, that’s not exactly good news. ShopperTrak, a website which counts foot traffic in retail stores, estimated Black Friday sales of $11.2 billion. Bill Martin, founder of ShopperTrak, said, “More retailers than last year began their ‘doorbuster’ deals on Thursday, Thanksgiving itself. Those Thursday deals attracted some of the spending that is usually meant for Friday.”

It now appears that Black Thursday is here to stay. The Salt Lake Tribune also reports, “Lured by earlier-than-ever Black Friday sales, people left Grandma and Grandpa in search of Samsung and Toshiba. They did not go blindly. In dozens of interviews, people acknowledged how spending has become inseparable from the holidays. Older folks pined for the days of Erector Sets and Thumbelinas while in line to pay iPad prices. Even some younger shoppers said it felt wrong to be spending money instead of quality time with family on Thanksgiving… Some said that the Black Friday bleed into Thursday crossed a line, that merchants should not intrude like this. Yet amid these protests, people still talked about feeling powerless beneath the moment — as if they had no choice but to shop.”

I do not support the “consumerism” associated with holidays. As a matter of fact, I like the idea of Buy Nothing Day. However, I understand if people do need to make legitimate purchases, such as food, fuel or other essential items.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not oppose the idea of businesses offering good deals on items. What I oppose is the false sense of urgency on these deals. I oppose the tactic of using loss-leaders to get people into your store in the hopes that they will but things they probably don’t want or need and can’t afford. I like the idea behind Plaid Friday, Small Business Saturday and even Cyber Monday despite the fact that all three gimmicks, in some way, entice consumerism, which I oppose. I also find it ironic that American Express is a sponsor of Small Business Saturday, but I digress.

Whether or not Black Friday becomes Black Thursday or even Black Wednesday, I believe that businesses should offer products at an affordable price every day of the year and consumer’s should be smart enough not to purchase what they can’t afford.

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No peace in the Middle East (until all sides want it)

The conflicts between Israel and Palestine have been going on for such a long time, it’s difficult to know when one conflict stops and another one starts. The latest exchange of missile fire is no exception.

Operation Pillar of Cloud (or Pillar of Defense, depending on what report you read) officially began on November 14 “after Gaza militants fired over 100 rockets at Israeli cities and towns over the course of several days.” However, if one looks closer, they will see that both sides were involved in the aggression. Palestinian’s in Gaza were being shot by the Israeli military, Palestinian’s then detonated explosives near the Israeli military. On November 8, the Israeli military clashed with Hamas and during the raid a 12 year old Palestinian boy was killed by gunfire coming either from a tank or helicopter. The two sides exchanged fire for several days and then Hamas reportedly fired over 100 rockets into Israel on November 10.

There were supposedly talks of a cease-fire on November 12, which the Israeli military claims was broken after a dozen rockets were fired from Gaza. Responsibility for those launches was “claimed by smaller groups, including a radical Salafi organization that rejects Hamas’s authority.”

On November 12, Jason Ditz of AntiWar.com wrote, “The reality is that Gaza poses no real ‘threat’ to Israel. Even before getting the US to pump money into their Iron Dome system the rockets rarely hit anything, and if they did the glorified fireworks in the Gaza arsenal usually did minor damage to someone’s roof at worst. In addition to being the impetus behind more US aid, Gaza is also a chance for Israeli hawks to grandstand. A prolonged Gaza armistice would imperil that policy.”

I believe the Israeli’s knew this, which is why they assassinated Hamas commander Ahmed Jabari just hours after he received the draft proposal of a permanent truce agreement with Israel. John Glaser of AntiWar.com writes, “Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin, who helped negotiate the release of Gilad Shalit and maintained contacts with Hamas leaders, said the truce agreement included protocols for maintaining a cease-fire in the case of cross-border violence between Israel and Gaza.”

Baskin told Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper that provides “coverage of Israel, the Jewish World and the Middle East”, that senior officials in Israel knew about the pending truce agreement, yet approved of the assassination, knowing it would terminate the truce and escalate the conflict with Gaza.

Baskin said, “I think that they have made a strategic mistake, which will cost the lives of quite a number of innocent people on both sides.” In less than a week, nearly 50 Palestinians (mostly civilians) have been killed and hundreds injured; 3 Israeli civilians and no military combatants have been killed.. Baskin added that Jabari’s assassination “killed the possibility of achieving a truce.”

I agree that it was a mistake to assassinate the man with whom a cease-fire was being negotiated and agree with Ann Harrison, the Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme for Amnesty International, who said, “All sides have to step back from the brink in order to protect civilian lives.”

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Add another star, Puerto Ricans want statehood (or not)

In October, we informed you that Puerto Rico would be voting on whether to become the 51st member of the United States of America. It appears the majority of voters there may get their wish, but only if Republicans don’t drag their heels and block the process for purely political reasons:

VOTERS may have voted for more of the same in America on election day, but in Puerto Rico they opted for decisive change. In a two-stage plebiscite—the island’s fourth referendum regarding its relationship with the United States—54% of the electorate voted to change Puerto Rico’s current status as a self-governing “commonwealth”, and 61% wanted the new form of government to be full American statehood.

[...] The vote will not have immediate consequences. Congress would have to pass a law admitting Puerto Rico for it to become a state. With a fiscal squeeze looming at the start of 2013 lawmakers will have their hands full in the coming months. And the island’s government is unlikely to push the issue aggressively following the election as governor of Alejandro García Padilla, who supports a continued commonwealth.

Moreover, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has little incentive to address the topic. According to exit polls, 83% of boricuas on the mainland voted for Barack Obama. Statehood would add two Senate seats and a House delegation of five, the same size as Oregon’s and probably as reliably Democratic.

Unless the island holds another vote that yields a different result, however, Puerto Rico has now officially requested statehood. If Democrats retake the House in 2014, they would be well-advised to try to add a 51st star to the flag.

As a libertarian-republican with Puerto Rican friends dotted across the country, I say give the people what they voted for.

After all, once Puerto Ricans become full-blown hard-working Americans subjugated by the IRS like the rest of us, they will certainly not be so enthused about the Democrat Party’s nonsense core tenet of redistribution of wealth.

Update: A commenter here at HoT aptly points out that all is not as it appears.

José writes, “Puerto Ricans did not vote for statehood. When you add the votes in favor of independence as well as the blank votes which were casted [sic] in protest, along with those also casted [sic] in protest in favor of a sovereign comonwealth [sic], statehood just got the typical 45%.”

He continues, “Now, you’re probably asking yourselves why would anyone vote a certain way in protest? The answer is very simple: the Commonwealth option was NOT incuded [sic] in the referendum.”

The status referendum results do indeed show that while a majority chose to change the status of their country, a minority actually chose statehood with 480,749 casting blank protest ballots. “55% of the residents of Puerto Rico REPUDIATED statehood.”

“They just want to fix what they have so they can sustain their own economy without having to endure the indignity of Washington’s handouts.” I couldn’t agree more.

And yes José, I like spending words (especially for making corrections and clarification), I hope you’ll oblige a few more.

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Ron Paul has left the House

His farewell speech is likely to be heralded as the most antipathy-filled since Eisenhower. Here’s the epic forty-eight minute video heard ’round ‘murica (but you won’t see this on TV):

The transcript can be found here.

TL;DW – Trust yourself, not the government.

Oh, and “the internet will provide the alternative to the government/media complex that controls the news and most political propaganda.” Yep.

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Wherein reason commenters sing our (dead) praises

Reason.com has a piece on which writers turned people on to freedom.

However, what caught my eye was some traffic coming from a link the comments, where rumors of HoT’s death are being bandied about.

Firstly: thank you. Hammer of Truth never dies, but it was comatose.

Secondly: we’re supposed to be dead and you bastards never even sent flowers? Am disappoint.

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Ron Paul praises price gouging

Sure, I called it. But isn’t that special when Ron Paul backs me up on simple free market economics:

Had gas stations been allowed to raise their prices to reflect the increased demand for gasoline, only those most in need of gasoline would have purchased gas, while everyone would have economized on their existing supply. But because prices remained lower than they should have been, no one sought to conserve gas. Low prices signaled that gas was in abundant supply, while reality was exactly the opposite, and only those fortunate enough to be at the front of gas lines were able to purchase gas before it sold out. Not surprisingly, a thriving black market developed, with gas offered for up to $20 per gallon.

With price controls in effect, supply shortages were exacerbated. If prices had been allowed to increase to market levels, the profit opportunity would have brought in new supplies from outside the region. As supplies increased, prices gradually would have decreased as supply and demand returned to equilibrium. But with price controls in effect, what company would want to deal with the hassle of shipping gas to a disaster-stricken area with downed power lines and flooded highways when the same profit could be made elsewhere? So instead of gas shipments flooding into the disaster zones, what little gas supply is left is rapidly sold and consumed.

Governments fail to understand that prices are not just random numbers. Prices perform an important role in providing information, coordinating supply and demand, and enabling economic calculation. When government interferes with the price mechanism, economic calamity ensues. Price controls on gasoline led to the infamous gas lines of the 1970s, yet politicians today repeat those same failed mistakes. Instituting price caps at a below-market price will always lead to shortages. No act of any legislature can reverse the laws of supply and demand.

History shows us that the quickest path to economic recovery is to abolish all price controls. If governments really want to aid recovery, they would abolish their “price-gouging” legislation and allow the free market to function.

It’s a shame that RINO governor Chris Christie won’t listen to free market advocates, but he’ll be listening when citizens hit the voting booth next year and remember his handling of gas shortages by further exacerbating the situation with rationing. Even worse, they might remember him giving the green light to football fans to attend a Giants football game during said rationing and state of emergency. Or, they might remember that Christie was quick to send an army of 45 bureaucrats out to check gas station receipts.

Already polls are showing Governor Christie rather vulnerable against Democrat contenders (who most certainly would have also rationed gas, but go ahead and ask them yourselves). Hurricane Sandy and his mishandling of the aftermath have yet to be factored into these polls.

Gas rationing may have ended in New Jersey today, but the extended gas crisis’ actual costs to the New Jersey economy will no doubt haunt Christie well into next year’s re-election bid.

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Romney’s facebook likes dropping in real-time

Mitt Romney has officially bid his presidential campaign adieu, and now comes the long unwind:

Some top donors privately unloaded on Romney’s senior staff, describing it as a junior varsity operation that failed to adequately insulate and defend Romney through a summer of relentless attacks from the Obama campaign over his business career and personal wealth.

“Everybody feels like they were a bunch of well-meaning folks who were, to use a phrase that Governor Romney coined to describe his opponent, way in over their heads,” said one member of the campaign’s national finance committee, who requested anonymity to speak candidly.

“Romney World,” the fundraiser added, “will fade into the obscurity of a lot of losing campaigns.”

Thanks to the Internet, we’re actually able to watch this unfold in real-time as supporters “unlike” Romney’s facebook page — on disappearingromney.com.

This is one unpopular program that Romney can truthfully say he cut after this election: his online campaign.

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Why I will no longer fly the Stars and Stripes

Fellow veterans, patriots and others

I went out this morning to display the Stars and Stripes as I have done for years to honor my fellow veterans on Veterans Day. I have always flown the flag during our holidays and special occasions. It has, in the past, been an honor to do so.

I did place the flag in its proper place and then returned to my house. After a few moments of thought and discussion with family members I returned and took the flag down. It will not be flown by me as long as this country remains a statist socialist nation.

I will not participate in the sham that has been perpetuated on us by one-half of those who voted for the socialist/Marxist in the White house. The first time they could be forgiven but this time they knew exactly what they were doing.

May the Maker of the Universe guide those who want God & family values, Constitutional restoration, individual liberty, limited government, free market economics, private property rights and a strong national defense (not nation building) to take action to do so. I am now a passive resistor. Will you join me? If not, then you are the problem, not the solution.

Vietnam Veteran
Combat Tracker Teams of the Vietnam War
Army Infantry

P.S. – I will never forget them. May God bless them all.

May all of them rest in peace and be with God.

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GOP civil war: Herman Cain calls for new third party

Not content with getting his ass handed to him by the Ron Paul supporters over his comments on the Federal Reserve (“there were plenty of internal audits”), and being forced to walk away from the 2012 Republican primary campaign trail in disgrace over multiple alleged sex scandals, Herman Cain is now calling for a civil war within the GOP which will culminate in a new third party full of social conservatives:

“I never thought that I would say this, and this is the first time publicly that I’ve said it: We need a third party to save this country. Not Ron Paul and the Ron Paulites. No. We need a legitimate third party to challenge the current system that we have, because I don’t believe that the Republican Party … has the ability to rebrand itself,” Cain said.

You can listen to the whole radio interview here.

It’s pretty clear from his actions that Cain has no interest in building anything other than a gold palace to himself in his lifetime, so I say let him start off down the third party road to failure so many have traveled.

Cain’s Pro War and Racist Pizza Party can ignore the Federal Reserve’s deplorable fiscal policy of printing fiat money by the truckload, offer to leverage the government to force people to conform to socially conservative policies that are widely rejected, and we can all laugh when this inexperienced upstart third party fails miserably behind the Constitution Party due to the ridiculous ballot access laws.

The media sneering will of course be bipartisan in nature, but maybe we’ll come to like him again in Internet memes if he’ll flash that creepy smile at us some more.

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A war-criminal resigns… because of an affair?

President Obama became the first President since FDR to win re-election by a smaller margin than his initial election (Obama receive 8 million fewer votes and 33 fewer Electoral Votes in 2012 than 2008). I was not surprised by his reelection or the fact that he was reelected by a smaller margin than his 2008 victory. I did find it surprising that within days of his reelection, the White House received a letter of resignation from CIA Director David Petraeus.

Jason Ditz of AntiWar.com writes, “The timing of the resignation is also telling, as indications are this FBI investigation has been ongoing for quite some time, but the resignation waited until immediately after the presidential election. President Obama has been a vocal supporter of Petraeus in numerous roles, and the revelation that he appointed a leader of the nation’s most visible spy agency who couldn’t even keep an affair under wraps would certainly have been politically damaging if it came out before the vote.”

In addition to Petraeus, Hillary Clinton announced that she will be stepping down as Secretary of State. Even though Clinton has been upfront about her intentions to only serve as Secretary of State for one term, the timing of this latest announcement seems rather convenient. In mid-October, she took responsibility for the deadly assault on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya on September 11 of this year. Military officials insist Petraeus’ resignation has nothing to do with Benghazi, his sudden resignation means that he will no longer be required to testify before Congress about the debacle.

Regarding the Benghazi attack, Clinton said, “I take this very personally. So we’re going to get to the bottom of it, and then we’re going to do everything we can to work to prevent it from happening again, and then we’re going to work to bring whoever did this to us to justice.”

Based on information obtained by AntiWar.com, local police were seen taking pictures inside the embassy, a small British security firm was hired to guard the consulate and some of the “security team” team assigned to guard the compound showed the rioters where the Americans were located. Blue Mountain Security told their unarmed guards “to sound the alarm over the radio and then run for cover if there was an attack.”

Justin Raimondo asks, “Unarmed ‘security’ guards — who ever heard of that? How the heck did Blue Mountain get this contract?” After going into detail on how Blue Mountain got the contract, Raimondo concludes, “The whole arrangement screams setup.”

I’m not saying that war-criminal David Petraeus was involved in this debacle, but it is very “coincidental” that he resigned days after the election and just days before being required to testify before Congress.

“There are no coincidences, only the illusion of coincidence” – V, V for Vendetta

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Libertarian Party gains ballot access in 8 states and D.C.

Libertarians are finally able to kick at least one hurdle out of their way in several states after this year’s election, according to an analysis presented by Gary Johnson subreddit contributor nozickian:

In New Mexico, the LP has ballot access through 2014 because Johnson got at least 0.5% of the vote.

In Georgia, all statewide LP candidates have ballot access through 2014 because Johnson got 1% of the vote.

In Nevada, the LP retains ballot access for House candidates because Johnson got at least 1% of the vote.

In Michigan, the LP retains ballot access because US Senate candidate Scotty Boman got at least 17,000 vote (he actually got over 83,000).

In North Carolina, the LP has ballot access through 2016 because gubernatorial candidate Barbara Howe got at least 2% of the vote.

In Utah, the LP retains ballot access for House candidates because US Senate candidate Shaun McCausland got at least 2% of the vote and because gubernatorial candidate Ken Larsen got at least 2%. Either one would have been sufficient.

In West Virginia, the LP has ballot access through 2016 because gubernatorial candidate Jesse Johnson got at least 1% of the vote.

In Wyoming, the LP retains ballot access in 2014 because US House candidate Richard Brubaker got at least 2% of the vote.

Source: Election results and http://www.lp.org/blogs/staff/statewide-libertarian-vote-totals-that-will-give-lp-ballot-access

Edit: Bruce Majors also secured future LP ballot access in DC.

Whether the establishment media will give Libertarian Party candidates equal time and coverage during elections still remains to be seen.

UPDATE: The LP blog confirms and adds that the party “has full ballot access in 30 states and the District of Columbia.” By gaining party status in these states, it should help clear a psychological block in voters’ perceptions in addition to the benefits of money and time that will saved by avoiding the minor party ballot petitioning process.

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Internet continues to explode for political news viewership

Pew research two weeks out from the election:

The biggest gains have come on the internet-both to the websites of traditional news sources and those native to the web.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are growing especially rapidly as a source of political news. The number of Americans who say they regularly go to these destinations to learn about the campaign has doubled since January. Even with that jump, however, these leading social media platforms are still turned to by a relatively limited number of Americans, about 17% in all, when those who mentioned at least one of those platforms are combined.

[...] The numbers portray a diverse landscape in which no platform dominates as the place for politics, and the vast majority of Americans say they regularly rely on multiple platforms to get political information. Just 6% said they turn regularly to just one platform.

Cable news channels continue to have the furthest reach, but a number of other destinations are close. Currently, 41% of Americans say they regularly learn about the candidates or the campaign from cable news networks, up five percentage points from 36% during the primaries.

But local TV news is almost as popular as a means for learning about the campaign; 38% of Americans regularly use it to learn about the candidates and the election, up six points since the primaries.

That is now nearly matched by the internet, which has seen an increase of 11 points in the number of Americans who say they regularly turn to it for campaign news since the year began. Fully 36% of Americans say they regularly get election news there, up from 25% in January.

For comparison purposes, a 2008 Pew survey showed the Internet was gaining fastest among younger demographics — a trend which continued even more rapidly through 2012.

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One million libertarians, two million libertarians

Libertarian Party presidential candidate and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson did the unbelievable this Tuesday: he created the new high-water mark for Libertarians by earning over 1.1 million votes in the general election.

But — to paraphrase Kanye West, “Yo Johnson, I’m really happy for you, Imma let you finish, but Ron Paul had one of the biggest libertarian campaigns of all time.”

That’s right. Ron Paul, who ran as a Republican Party primary candidate for president, was this year’s actual winner of the highest libertarian campaign vote get, with over two million votes.

Now, big “L” purists would argue that Ron Paul’s campaign doesn’t count — but I’m busy counting libertarian votes, not Libertarian votes. And of course I’m coming from the position of wanting to elect libertarians; not merely paint a new, but otherwise meaningless, high-water mark.

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2012 election results

I’ll be away from the blog this evening, but I encourage everyone to use the Google elections map, just because it’s probably the best tool out there created by some incredibly smart coders.

And just for giggles, here’s my predictions, cross-posted from IPR:

Romney wins.

Johnson breaks 1M, barely. Gets credit for handing wins to Romney in Colorado and possibly Ohio. Time for democrats to hate libertarians.

Amendment 64 passes in Colorado with surprisingly strong republican support. Battle lines drawn for 10th amendment showdown with federal government.

I’m basing my judgement on the Romney/Obama matchup on an apparent gaffe by the president during the Town Hall debate when he (mis)stated “when I was president.”

I am rather certain he was being prophetic in that utterance.

Update: You can track Colorado’s Amendment 64 / marijuana legalization issue here, on the very last page (use the dropdown). Colorado polls close at 7PM MST / 9PM EST.

Here’s to “the entire country getting on airplanes to go to Denver for the weekend to chill out.” Good call GJ.

Update 11/7: Obama gets another four years, GJ got over 1M (yep, barely) and Amendment 64 passed (1,027,893 Yes to 898,317 No with 23 of 64 Colorado counties reporting)… two out of three predictions ain’t so bad, all things considered. I really should have stuck with my original assessment I told a few people (not on any record) that Obama would get re-elected if he convinced people the economy was rebounding by June, but I guess my time hanging out with Republicans had tinted my view. C’est la vie.

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Today, we fucking vote

So… go find your fucking polling place.

This has been a helpful message from the fucking Hammer of Truth, where we haven’t said “fuck” in a while. We know you missed the needless profanity and make a promise (non-campaign, so it’s legit) to put in more swearing.

Please let us know in the fucking comments what candidates and issues you think are going to fucking win.

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Yes, We Can(nabis)

Tomorrow, voters in several States will have the opportunity to nullify parts of the Drug War. Most of the initiatives would legalize the production, possession, delivery and distribution of marijuana and would regulate the sale of small amounts of marijuana to people 21 and older. However, the initiative in Washington would make it illegal for a motorist to have more than 5 nanograms (a nanogram is one billionth of a gram) of THC per milliliter of blood in their system.

BallotPedia reports, “Some opponents take issue with the fact that the initiative, if approved, would make it illegal for a motorist to have more than 5 nanograms of THC (an active ingredient of marijuana) per milliliter of blood in their system. Opponents argue that THC levels vary depending on the body’s tolerance, which may put medical marijuana patients at greater risk of arrest”

Despite these objections in Washington, there are plenty of unlikely supporters of Initiative 502. Former U.S. Attorney John McKay said, “The enormous demand for marijuana in the face of criminal penalties, which has been in existence for 70 years, is spinning off enormous profits for drug cartels, for gangs, for drug dealers. We are strategically, way, way out of position in law enforcement by allowing the American marijuana demand and market to fund those much more serious activities.”

Peter Guither at DrugWarRANT.com writes on the history of marijuana, “For most of human history, marijuana has been completely legal. It’s not a recently discovered plant, nor is it a long-standing law. Marijuana has been illegal for less than 1% of the time that it’s been in use. Its known uses go back further than 7,000 B.C. and it was legal as recently as when Ronald Reagan was a boy.
The marijuana (hemp) plant, of course, has an incredible number of uses. The earliest known woven fabric was apparently of hemp, and over the centuries the plant was used for food, incense, cloth, rope, and much more. This adds to some of the confusion over its introduction in the United States, as the plant was well known from the early 1600′s, but did not reach public awareness as a recreational drug until the early 1900′s.”

Guither continues, William Randolph Hearst used yellow journalism to smear cannabis and cannabis users and was helped by “Dupont chemical company and various pharmaceutical companies in the effort to outlaw cannabis. Dupont had patented nylon, and wanted hemp removed as competition. The pharmaceutical companies could neither identify nor standardize cannabis dosages, and besides, with cannabis, folks could grow their own medicine and not have to purchase it from large companies.”

Marijuana became illegal because of false-fear and to help a small group of powerful men retain power and control. The truth is, regardless if cannabis (marijuana) is legal or illegal people will still use it. However, by keeping it illegal, those who make the rules are forcing a dangerous black market, the exact opposite of their desired intentions.

If you believe that you and you alone own yourself and you are responsible for your actions; you must also acknowledge that neither you nor any group of people have the right or authority to tell someone (without their consent) what they can or cannot do that does not harm another person. If you have the opportunity to push back against the Drug War, you should take it (even though the initiative in Washington could be vastly improved). If you live elsewhere, call and write your “representative” asking them to introduce similar legislation. Until the drug war is over, feel free to practice civil disobedience but be aware of the consequences.

Update by Stephen VanDyke: I added one of Colorado’s pro Amendment 64 videos to the top of the post, because it’s a great example of how to “flip the script” on the issue by making it for the children. I know, it’s a little sleazy to bring kids into a political debate, ever… but that’s never stopped opponents.

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Victoria’s Secret saves the National Guard

From Wired:

On Monday night, Hurricane Sandy hit the armory of the New York Army National Guard’s 69th Infantry Regiment, leaving the soldiers without power, hot water, or anything but the most rudimentary means of communicating with the outside world. So the next morning, the Regiment’s officers made an emergency plea — to the producers of the Victoria’s Secret fashion show.

As they had done for the last three years running, the lingerie company was holding its annual television event at the Regiment’s historic armory, located at 25th street and Lexington Avenue in Manhattan. For the show, the producers had hauled in eight massive 500 kilowatt generators. Of course, the producers said, we’d be happy to help. Hours later, the lights flashed back on.

“We were dead in the water until Victoria’s Secret showed up,” says Capt. Brendan Gendron, the Regiment’s operations officer.

But that wasn’t the only thing the lingerie company was better at than the National Guard:

The soldiers were still having communications problems, though. Many of the local cell towers were down, and so was the armory’s internet’s connection. Luckily, Shapiro had answer for that, too. For the show, he had leased a T1 line connected to a microwave dish on the roof. “We plopped two routers in their command center,” he says, “and now they’re sitting on our internet backbone.”

The troops also needed help distributing food. The Federal Emergency Management Agency had begun bringing tractor-trailers’ worth of emergency provisions to the armory. It was up to the troops to break up the pallets, load them in military trucks, and bring them to the seven distribution centers in Manhattan where the Salvation Army would hand out meals to Hurricane victims. One problem: the 69th didn’t have a fork lift. So again, they turned to the Victoria’s Secret crew.

You gotta love it when the private sector saves the government’s ass in a crisis.

But you really have to appreciate when it’s done by a bunch of people whose job typically consists of making sure scantily-clad girls look good walking down a runway in boa-feathered wings.

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Bloomberg cancels marathon in face of criticism

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg caved to growing criticism this afternoon when he announced the New York Road Runner’s Marathon would be post-poned.

In a press statement issued from City Hall, Bloomberg said “The marathon has always brought our city together and inspired us with stories of courage and determination”

“We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants, so we have decided to cancel it.”

It’s a far cry from his earlier statements. “There are lots of people who have come here,” he said to CNN. “It’s a great event for New York, and I think for those who were lost, you’ve got to believe they would want us to have an economy and have a city go on for those that they left behind.”

The 26.2-mile race route, which would have begun on Staten Island — one of the most devastated of boroughs — would have snaked through Brooklyn and Queens before cutting across the Queensboro Bridge onto Manhattan Island. The race route was expected to run past at least one gas station that had reported long lines of people holding gas cans, potentially posing a stark juxtaposition for photographers shooting 40,000 carefree runners streaming by.

And oddly enough, marathon runners would have been able to complete the course from Staten Island faster than most people were able to drive from Queens. The record run of two hours, five minutes and six second was veritably dwarfed this week by one commuter’s seven hour drive.

At least one hotel on Staten Island had said they would refuse to evict displaced residents to honor reservations made by runners.

“How do I tell people who have no place to go, that have no home, no heat, that you have to leave because I have to make room for somebody that wants to run the marathon?” asked hotel owner Richard Nicotra.

One ESPN columnist notably criticized Bloomberg in an editorial. “While there’s a lot at stake here for marathon organizers, athletes, sponsors, vendors and various others involved with the event, there’s even more at stake for the thousands of people who are still without power, forced out of their homes, can’t get out of their homes or otherwise are waiting for assistance to get their lives back in order,” wrote Mario Fraioli.

“Canceling the race isn’t about being unfair to the runners — it’s about being fair to a city and its residents that need every available resource to put itself back together, and for this reason, the show mustn’t go on.”

What will become of The NYRR’s three generators sitting at the marathon finish line in Central park remains an issue many will be watching.

“These are our private generators. We are not draining any resources from the city’s plan to recover,” Road Runners spokesman Richard Finn had angrily insisted.

However, it seems some common sense and decency is seeping into the race organization.

“It’s clear that the best thing for New York and the best thing for the marathon and the future is, unfortunately, to move on,” said Mary Wittenberg, chief executive of New York Road Runners. “This isn’t the year or the time to run it. It’s crushing and really difficult. One of the toughest decisions we ever made.”

George Hirsch, chairman of the board of Road Runners told the press that officials huddled all day Friday, hoping to devise an alternate race. They considered replacing the marathon with a race that would only cover the final 10 miles of marathon, starting at the base of the Queensboro 59th Street Bridge on the Manhattan side. But the plan was scrapped as unfeasible.

“We still want to do something, and we’re going to do something, but it won’t require generators or water.” Hirsch said.

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Finally, a Schoolhouse Rock for 2012

From the video description:

Homeless Uncle Sam tells us how the voting process REALLY works. Spoiler Alert: It has something to do with masturbation, the electoral college and Tupac.

MMMMM… horse head cheese. Makes me want to work hard building shitty products for ungrateful foreigners.

Astute readers will remember back when Saturday Night Live took a swipe at media conspiracy theories with their Schoolhouse Rock parody, which aired only once.

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Kottke.org suspends posting

One of my longtime subscribed reads has sadly had to indefinitely suspended operations post-Sandy. Jason Kottke writes:

Publishing on kottke.org is suspended until further notice. The situation in New York and New Jersey is still dire** so posting stupid crap seems frivolous and posting about the Sandy aftermath seems exploitive. Information is not what people need right now; people need flashlights, candles, drinking water, safety, food, access to emergency medical care, a warm place to sleep, etc.

Anyway, we’ll be back in a few days hopefully.

** I say “still dire” because I think the perception among people not in the NY/NJ area is one of “oh, the storm has passed, the flooding is subsiding, and everything is getting back to normal”. But that’s not what I’m hearing. What I’m hearing is that there are large areas that have been without power for 4-5 days, people are running out of food and gas, food and gas deliveries are not happening, etc. Things are getting worse (or certainly have the potential to get worse), not better, especially for those without the resources to care about which cool restaurants are open or how much an iPhone car service is gouging its customers or which Midtown office they’re gonna work on their startup from.

My deepest sympathies go out to Kottke and other bloggers who are enduring the dire situation still ongoing in New York City and the surrounding boroughs. We anxiously await your firsthand reports of the struggle to keep civilization together in the wake of the worst disaster the Internet-centric generation has ever experienced.

Drop by his site and click some ads to show your love.

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While Tri-State goes Mad Max, Obama campaigns in Vegas

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie should probably realize soon enough they’ve mistakenly hitched their wagons to the perpetual campaigner in chief, not the savior of Sandy-monium:

“when disaster strikes, we see America at its best.”

“All the petty differences that consume us in normal times somehow melt away,” the president told 4,500 Nevadans at a rally in Las Vegas. “There are no Democrats or Republicans during a storm, just fellow Americans, leaders of different parties working to fix what’s broken, neighbors helping neighbors cope with tragedy, communities rallying to rebuild, a spirit that says, In the end we’re all in this together, that we rise or fall as one nation.”

That end of course, comes after Obama’s latest campaign stop in Las Vegas, which has taken priority over the plight of Americans mired in a growing crisis of shortages across the flood-devastated East Coast.

Meanwhile, things are reaching thunder dome levels as a gasoline shortage has people going completely nuts, and an ancillary food crisis begins to bloom.

Remember when Bush was caught in similar circumstances after Katrina? Las Vegas will become Obama’s Coronado.

Libertarians and assorted “kooky survivalists” across the country — always wary of big government promises and now muttering “told you so” — are left to watch helplessly as the federal assistance once again arrives days late and several braincells short.

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