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.

( -)-(- )1 comment

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.

( -)-(- )Comments Off

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.

( -)-(- )Comments Off

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.

( -)-(- )Comments Off

Over 8 million were without power at peak of Sandy outage

According to the Department of Energy website, which has been acting as a clearinghouse of information regarding the electric grid in the Northeast, at the peak of Hurricane Sandy there were over 8 million “customers” (these can include entire buildings) at the peak of the outage.

Adding all the people who have been restored, the number is a mind-bending 8,460,344 8,317,507 total “customers” who lost power due to Sandy across twenty one states. CORRECTION: Those who had been restored were already counted in “peak outages,” we regret the error.

Since then, the government has done all it can to stay out of the way of electric repair crews, going so far as to suspend many regulations in order to allow companies to expedite repairs and give fuel to those so desperate for energy. The result has been telling, with 4,657,013 remaining “customers” left without power as of 9AM EDT on November 1st.

One of the more interesting stories is that quite a few NYC data centers have had to shut down due to the loss of power and their inability to get fuel for backup generators. Another is how many people are willing to stand around outside of Starbucks just to get their internet fix (from websites that are still up). Some people are even getting so desperate that they going back to using payphones (gasp, those still exist?).

Con Edison has stated that they expect repairs to last until at least through November 10th or 11th –however this may be an overly pessimistic view so folks will see them in a better light when the lights finally do come back on.

( -)-(- )Comments Off

Germany wants to see its US gold reserves

Der Spiegel has an article about how German politicians are getting anxious about their gold reserves held by the Federal Reserve:

This demand, which even the bank’s inspectors saw as nothing more than routine, alarmed the Berlin political establishment. Indeed, the partially blacked-out report read like the prologue to an espionage thriller in which the stunned central bankers could end up standing in front of empty vaults in the US.

For decades, German central bankers have contented themselves with written affirmations from their American colleagues that the gold still remains where it is said to be stored. According to the report, the bar list from New York stems from “1979/1980.” The report also noted that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York refuses to allow the gold’s owners to view their own reserves. see more…

( -)-(- )Comments Off

Post-Sandy price gouging laws and gas shortages

Yesterday, Matthew Iglesias at Slate warned us that many people living in states suffering from the freak storm Hurricane Sandy will find themselves in dire shortages as the free market gets tangled with price gouging laws:

Even in these polarized times, there are some things politicians of both parties can agree. Price gouging, for example, is wrong. New York Attorney General Eric Scheiderman, a Democrat, wants you to know it. But this isn’t just for soft-hearted liberals. New Jersey’s notoriously tough conservative governor, Chris Christie, also put out a weekend press release warning that “price gouging during a state of emergency is illegal” and that complaints would be investigated by the attorney general. Specifically, Garden State merchants are barred from raising prices more than 10 percent over their normal level during emergency conditions (New York’s anti-gouging law sets a less precise definition, barring “unconscionably extreme” increases).

The bipartisan indignation is heartening, but there’s one problem. These laws are hideously misguided. Stopping price hikes during disasters may sound like a way to help people, but all it does is exacerbate shortages and complicate preparedness.

The basic imperative to allocate goods efficiently doesn’t vanish in a storm or other crisis. If anything, it becomes more important. And price controls in an emergency have the same results as they do any other time: They lead to shortages and overconsumption. Letting merchants raise prices if they think customers will be willing to pay more isn’t a concession to greed. Rather, it creates much-needed incentives for people to think harder about what they really need and appropriately rewards vendors who manage their inventories well.

Today, gasoline is in short demand as retailers who were able to stay open are prohibited from adjusting prices in the face of inflated demand:

Drivers and homeowners scrambled to secure fuel for their cars and generators in the U.S. Northeast on Wednesday as storm-hit gasoline stations started to run dry.

More than half of all gasoline service stations in the New York City area and New Jersey were shut because of depleted fuel supplies and power outages, frustrating attempts to restore normal life, industry officials said.

Reports of long lines, dark stations and empty tanks circulated across the region. Some station owners were unable to pump fuel due to a lack of power, while others quickly ran their tanks dry because of increased demand and logistical problems in delivering fresh supplies.

Being able to adjust prices to reflect market conditions isn’t price gouging, it’s good economic sense.

As economist Art Carden eloquently wrote in 2011, “[I]n post-disaster situations rising prices perform vital economic triage by showing which uses of resources are now high-value and which uses of resources are now low-value.”

“A disaster means a big shock both to what people want and to the resources available to fulfill those wants. Freely-moving prices make sure resources are allocated to their highest-valued uses, and rising prices send people a very important signal: resources have gotten scarcer and need to be conserved. If houses are destroyed by a tornado, rising lumber prices tell someone in an unaffected area to think twice about building a new deck because the lumber is probably more valuable rebuilding houses. Rising gas prices tell people to think twice about burning scarce gas for a Sunday drive in the country. And so on.”

In other words, temporarily higher prices would encourage those not directly involved in cleanup to stay home and out of the way until the economy stabilizes.

But with price gouging laws, your desire to drive around looking at a storm’s destruction is just as valid as the crews who are working to clean it up, and makes the overall economic situation that much more painful, for a longer period.

( -)-(- )Comments Off

“Superstorm” Hurricane Sandy photos

The Boston Globe has a heart-wrenching series of photos of showing the vast amounts of flooding and fires in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. As the Northeast begins to pick up the pieces and rebuild, some are estimating the dollar value of the freak storm could run more than $30 billion.

NASA has also released a video time-lapse of the storm from Caribbean inception to landfall, showing a massive spiral that stretched all the way to the mid-Atlantic.

While you’re at it, check out an International Space Station flyover video.

UPDATE: The New York Times has a time-lapse video from their office window. The blackout hits at Monday at 8:40PM.

( -)-(- )Comments Off

The Republicans are the real socialists

Commie Romney

“The Republicans are a bunch of communists.“

For years, this statement has been my way of pointing out to people that my Libertarian beliefs place me to the right of Atilla the Hun. Lately though, I have realized that the statement is true.

With their full throated support of the military industrial and prison industrial complexes, the Republicans are the originators and protectors of all the cushiest government jobs in the country. The Democrats are of course 99% as bad as the Republicans are on these issues, but at least some of them, occasionally, try to find non-lethal ways to waste our tax dollars. You shouldn’t vote for any of them.

The Northrup Grumans and the Corrections Corporation of Americas of this world are the true welfare queens. You can put a Gingrich-ian gloss on it, and claim that these companies are in the private sector because they work for corporate structures, but you would be fooling yourself. If an entity makes all of its money selling things to the government, then it is functionally a branch of government. It might be easier to fire people than it is at the Department of Education, but the folks at the top of the DOE don’t take home tens of millions of dollars a year.

This is socialism in practice. Our defense industry is make-work on a scale that would make FDR blush. At least his Works Progress Administration didn’t do anything. Since 1989, our defense industry has worked tirelessly to make us less secure, and invent reasons to send our soldiers off to die in deserts. What the defense industry does to our soldiers, and Islamic weddings, the prison industry does to the rest of us. It turns poor pot smokers of color into violent criminals, and poor white people into the commandants of rape camps.

These industries have locked whole regions of our country into a culture of dependency. Munitions workers, prison workers and their representatives in congress continue to vote for these depraved policies. Anyone who looks honestly at the results of our war on drugs, and our absurd policy of militarizing the world, can see that their effects are malign, but these policies are too entrenched to stop. Too many good government jobs depend on them.

So yes, when Republicans say that we are in danger of becoming a socialist country, they are absolutely right. This process did not start four years ago, however, it has been going on for a lot longer, and both parties are its authors and (hopefully not) finishers. Let me leave you with a little Abraham Lincoln*

From Whence shall we expect the approach of danger? Shall some transatlantic giant step the earth and crush us at a blow? Never! All the Armies of Europe and Asia could not, by force, take a drink from the Ohio River or set a track on the Blue Ridge in the trial of a thousand years. If destruction be our lot, we ourselves must be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men, we will live forever, or die by suicide.

*Sadly I am not enough of a Lincolnologist to come by that quote honestly, all credit is due to Titus Andronicus, an awesome band, for making me aware of it.

Robert Morris has written at some length on US foreign policy and the drug war. His videos and writings can be found here.

( -)-(- )7 comments

Gary Johnson on FEMA: “I do see a role”

Buried at the bottom of this Hit and Run blog post is a viewpoint of Gary Johnson’s that might well conflict with purist libertarian’s views of state-first disaster response:

Johnson did not touch on Hurricane Sandy during his speech, but it did impact his day as he was late for his event in Boise that afternoon. In a scrum with reporters after the event Johnson said that he thinks the Federal Emergency Management Agency is an appropriate function for the federal government.

“I do see a role. The whole notion that we do have difficulties. I just want to do all of this in the context of not spending more money than we’re taking in,” he said.

“I think (disaster relief) may come under the basic notion of the government protecting us. There are these natural catastrophies that without the federal government, states aren’t as well equipped,” Johnson said, pointing to government assistance New Mexico received in response to the Cerro Grande Fire in 2000. Johnson did note, however, that the National Park Service started that same fire as a controlled burn.

“It was federally caused, it was federally lit,” he said.

It seems to be the case with many libertarians that they’ll at least let a federal agency try to manage a disaster response until it’s apparent they are a failure. But given the fact that such failures can lead to loss of life and property, it’s surprising to see that he’s willing to stick with FEMA after all their blunders in the past.

( -)-(- )4 comments

After Hurricane Sandy, all eyes on FEMA

Yesterday, the devastating Hurricane Sandy made landfall along a swath of the Northeastern seaboard of the United States, sending surging tides across coastal areas of Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. At a stunningly low 943 millibars, it broke the previous record low barometric pressure set in 1938 by the Long Island Express Hurricane (946 millibars).

Already fires are beginning to erupt in the wake of the storm, with 80 homes destroyed in a Queens, New York neighborhood.

But while millions are reeling from widespread electrical blackouts and loss of utilities in the stricken areas, the Federal Emergency Management Agency — head by Craig Fugate — has said it remains in response mode, while merely hinting at the political fallout that may ride along with a disaster so close to election day:

“We are anticipating that, based on the storm, there could be impacts that would linger into next week and have impacts on the federal election,” Fugate said on a conference call with reporters.

But any potential tinkering with Election Day would bring a bevy of legal issues.

“Our chief counsel’s been working on making sure that we have the proper guidance,” he added. “We’re going through the regulatory policy and making sure all that’s in place and we can support it.”

Fugate did not address whether the election could be delayed — a question that federal officials said last week is up for states to decide.

President Barack Obama has responded by cancelling several campaign trips to key swing states. Included in the cancellations was a flight to Orlando, Florida where the president decided against being seen campaigning — Air Force One ended up landing, Obama ate some pizza with campaign volunteers and then returned to Washington (dubbed the most expensive pizza delivery in history).

Mitt Romney for his part has also remained low-key, cancelling several campaign appearances and adopting a wait-and-see approach to gauge whether FEMA will be able to manage a disaster without too much embarrassment.

So far the only major hiccup has been in insisting on sending people without power to the internet:

When President Barack Obama urged Americans under siege from Hurricane Sandy to stay inside and keep watch on ready.gov for the latest, he left out something pretty important — where to turn if the electricity goes out.

Despite the heightened expectation of widespread power and cable television failures, everyone from the president to local newscasters seem to expect the public to rely entirely on the Internet and their TVs for vital news and instructions.

[...] “With these types of storms, you get a lot of this is going to be carried out through the traditional TV and radio media,” Fugate told reporters on a conference call. “But we’re using a lot more social media, we’re using everything from Facebook to Twitter. I think there’s a higher degree of awareness that people have of the storm is coming and what the impacts are going to be.”

Fugate also talked up battery-operated or hand-cranked radios during interviews on morning news shows.

A call to FEMA’s news desk, however, found even they didn’t have any non-Internet information readily available beyond suggestions that people call 911 in an emergency. When asked where folks should turn for information if they have no power, a FEMA worker said, “Well, those people who have a laptop with a little battery life on it can try that way. Otherwise, you’re right.”

Back in 2006 we pointed out FEMA’s fraud and waste in the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina’s disaster in New Orleans (or at least cited the Government Accounting Office):

The GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, found at least $1 billion in disaster relief payments by the Federal Emergency Management Agency were improper and potentially fraudulent because the recipients provided incomplete or incorrect information when they registered for assistance. (GAO report)

Oddly enough, our least favorite former FEMA chief Michael “heck of a job” Brown was quick to weigh in with political advice:

“Right now,” Brown maintains, “both campaigns need to let the first responders and governors do what they need to do. Basically say, ‘If we can help in any way, let us know.'”

Since Hurricane Sandy has dominated headlines in recent days, 2011 comments from Romney saying that FEMA should be shut down and power should be given to the states have resurfaced. His campaign has clarified that Romney believes states should have more authority, but he does not think FEMA should be abolished.

Brown agrees. “It’s more of a statement of fact…. This has always been my theory. The stronger you make the federal government, the weaker you make local governments…. State and local responders need to be as robust as they possibly can…. What FEMA should be doing right now is coordinating, [telling governors and mayors], ‘What do you need? How can we help?'”

He adds, “Everything that really needs to be done is a state and local issue…. The feds are more about helping financially.”

But some refugees wary of FEMA’s checkered history may have some hope when dealing with the federal aid-givers. If you’re not comfortable with the idea of marching into a designated “FEMA camp” that has been rightly or wrongly maligned, you can actually bring your guns and ammo with you.

From a 2005 article on the Boston Globe:

Gun rights groups had sought the change, saying the original policy violated Second Amendment protections for gun ownership. Kinerny said FEMA made the change after consulting with lawyers.

FEMA said it has been general policy for several years to prohibit guns at such parks anywhere in the country. But two gun rights groups — the National Rifle Association and Second Amendment Foundation — said they found out about it only this month as a 600-trailer encampment opened near Baton Rouge.

Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s executive vice president, praised the change. ”It is wrong to force citizens to give up their constitutional rights in order for them to get a needed federal benefit,” he said in a news release.

We here at Hammer of Truth wish the victims of Hurricane Sandy a speedy recovery, and we certainly hope FEMA won’t get in the way of their recovery and rebuilding this time.

( -)-(- )1 comment

Democrats: Advocating socialism by any other name

There’s a difference between Jeffersonian classical liberals of the Democratic Party and what we have now, a party full of progressives/socialists/Marxists.  They are all about taxing the rich and addicting the poor to welfare and government handouts.

They want the middle class dependent on them.

They are about stealing our private property by claiming it is for the good of the collective. They are about controlling our health care; even withholding care if it is not cost-effective according to their rules. They want to regulate small business until they are broke.

President Barack Obama, Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennett, Colorado Legislatures Sal Pace and Angela Giron and Pueblo City Council members Ami Nawrocki, Leroy Garcia and Sandy Daff are not classical liberals; they are socialists openly embracing Marxist tenets. Many Democratic candidates running for federal, state and local offices across the country are now openly socialists/Marxists.

Those who embrace Jeffersonian classical liberalism in the Democratic Party must regain control and banish socialists/Marxists in their party to the dustbin of political history.

It is time for the Jeffersonian Democrats to have a “tea party” and take their party back from the hard left.

After this election cycle maybe they will heed the “voices in the wilderness” as we conservative libertarian “tea party” activists did.

Continue voting for socialists/Marxists and soon all the wealth will be stripped from us and transferred to the government. Then what? There will be no people left with resources to run and operate the free market engine driving our prosperity for generations.



Be careful how you vote.  Just because you are a government employee, union member or receive your income from a non-government organization depending on taxpayers’ subsidies and grants does not exempt you from the consequences of socialism.

You and I are not high enough up the food chain to be exempt from the pain and suffering that socialism/Marxism always inflicts. Only a few at the top benefit from collectivism. 

Ask any person who has endured Marxism/communism or any totalitarian government anywhere in the world and they will tell you the truth.

The choice is yours.

( -)-(- )Comments Off

Watering down quality is finally harming AB InBev

BloombergBusinessweek did an excellent exposé on the AB InBev – America’s largest beer-maker at 48% of U.S. market share — on their unquenchable thirst for profits over quality. The Plot to Destroy America’s Beer:

There has never been a beer company like AB InBev. It was created in 2008 when InBev, the Leuven (Belgium)-based owner of Beck’s and Stella Artois, swallowed Anheuser-Busch, the maker of Budweiser, in a $52 billion hostile takeover. Today, AB InBev is the dominant beer company in the U.S., with 48 percent of the market. It controls 69 percent in Brazil; it’s the second-largest brewer in Russia and the third-largest in China. The company owns more than 200 different beers around the world. It would like to buy more.

The man in charge of AB InBev is 52-year-old Carlos Brito. The Brazilian-born chief executive is a millionaire many times over. He speaks English fluently and dresses like the manager of a local hardware store. At the Manhattan headquarters, he wears jeans to work and tucks in his shirts. He keeps his company identification badge clipped to his waist where everybody can see it, even though everyone knows who he is. To the rest of the world, he keeps a low profile. He does not, for example, accept interview requests from Bloomberg Businessweek. That might be his character, and it might be calculated. The Busch family is a legendary American dynasty. Many people in the U.S. aren’t thrilled that a foreign company now owns Budweiser, America’s beer.

This is not to say that Brito lacks American admirers. Many can be found on Wall Street, where investors care less about where beers are brewed than about how profitable they are. This is where Brito shines. After InBev bought Anheuser-Busch, he slashed costs at the combined company by $1.1 billion in a single year. AB InBev’s margins widened substantially, and its share price has nearly quadrupled since the takeover. In 2011, Brito made Fortune magazine’s Fantasy Sports Executive League Dream Team as a designated hitter.

Anthony Bucalo, an analyst for Banco Santander (SAN), speculated in April that Brito’s ultimate plan is to acquire the beverage unit of PepsiCo (PEP). AB InBev already distributes PepsiCo’s soft drinks in Brazil, and it was through a distributor’s arrangement that the company got its claws into Anheuser-Busch. According to Bucalo’s theory, Brito wants to be the king of sparkling beverages in aluminum cans, regardless of their alcohol content or taste.

It seems that desire to cram dividends into shareholders pockets will have an adverse effect on their long term viability:

There’s one hitch. AB InBev’s CEO is a skilled financial engineer, but he has had trouble selling beer. The company’s shipments in the U.S. have declined 8 percent to 98 million barrels from 2008 to 2011, according to Beer Marketer’s Insights. Last year, Coors Light surpassed Budweiser to become America’s No. 2 beer. (Bud Light remains No. 1.) Meanwhile, Brito is alienating lovers of AB InBev’s imports by not importing them. And he’s risking the devotion of American beer lovers by fiddling with the Budweiser recipe in the name of cost-cutting.

Honestly though, did anyone actually think they could somehow make Budweiser worse? Way to go Brazilian scientists!

For a full list of beers that could have their recipes tampered with for short-term gain, see this Wikipedia page on InBev brands. Thankfully my taste for mass-produced domestic beer is limited to Blue Moon (a MillerCoors brand) when I’m not supporting local brewers.

( -)-(- )Comments Off

XKCD infographic of 224 years of Congress

Follow the yellow line on the right to see who had the majority. SOURCE:

Interesting to note that Republicans have only had control of the President, House and Senate for a relatively short period (106th, 108th, 109th) and chose to enact tax cuts rather than repeal government largess. And of course that trend quickly reversed when Obama took office and enjoyed a Democrat majority during which his major “reform” measure was to expand government into the healthcare industry.

Is it any wonder that libertarians find themselves better aligned within the GOP than the DNC (when they aren’t piddling with the always marginalized LP)? One is actually willing to give your money back to you and let the government peons flip out over how to pay for things (ahem, fire some bureaucrats please), while the other eventually succumbs to the reality that Obamacare is a massive tax hike.

( -)-(- )Comments Off

Presidential Election: What If Nobody Wins?

The Presidential election is just days away and the pundits are speculating about who will win and by what margin. Some talking heads are even saying that one candidate or another will act as a “spoiler” for one of the major party candidates in one or more States.

Some people have event speculated at the possibility of a tied electoral vote, in which Obama and Romney each receive 269 Electoral Votes. This scenario is extremely unlikely and has only happened three times in American history (1800, 1824 & 1836), with one more extremely unusual situation in 1876. What would happen in such an unlikely scenario?

First, allow me to explain how the Presidential election works. One election day, voters cast a ballot for a slate of electors that are pledged to the various Presidential candidates. The winning slates of electors are usually certified in mid-November and under federal law must be certified by December 11. The fifty-one slates of electors (one slate from each State, plus Washington, D.C.) meet and cast the official votes on December 17. The official vote by the electors is sealed and sent to the President of the Senate by December 26 and the electoral votes are officially counted on January 6 before a joint session of the newly sworn-in Congress.

The Office of the Federal Register states, “If a State submits conflicting sets of electoral votes to Congress, the two Houses acting concurrently may accept or reject the votes. If they do not concur, the votes of the electors certified by the Governor of the State on the Certificate of Ascertainment would be counted in Congress.”

Further, “If no Presidential candidate wins 270 or more electoral votes, a majority, the 12th Amendment to the Constitution provides for the House of Representatives to decide the Presidential election. If necessary the House would elect the President by majority vote, choosing from the three candidates who received the greatest number of electoral votes. The vote would be taken by state, with each state having one vote.” The Senate would decide the Vice President, with each Senator having one vote.

This is where things get interesting, especially since the House votes per State delegation. Under the current Congress, the Republican Party has a majority in 33 State Congressional delegations (3 States have the same number of Republican and Democrat Congressmen). The Republican’s will likely maintain control of 34 State Congressional delegations after the election. This means that if there is a tie for Electoral Votes, then Mitt Romney will likely be elected by the House. If the Democrats retain the Senate, then Joe Biden would likely be elected Vice-President. However, there is a very slim possibility that the Republican’s will control the Senate after the election.

Since the 2000 Presidential election, there have been calls for changing or abolishing the Electoral College. If there were an tie vote, I’m fairly certain that the Electoral College would be modified in some manner, and probably in a way that further discourages voting for a “minor party” candidate.

( -)-(- )1 comment

U.S. troops in Afghanistan won’t be able to vote

Due to a plane carrying mail crashing and burning up:

Federal officials say that absentee ballots being sent to U.S. military serving in Afghanistan may have been burned in a plane crash.

A top official in the Federal Voting Assistance Program this week notified election officials across the nation that a transport plane crashed at Shindad Air Base on Oct. 19.

The crash resulted in the destruction of 4,700 pounds of mail inbound to troops serving in the area.

Federal officials in their email to state election offices said they did not know if any ballots were destroyed. They also said the lost mail was limited to one zip code.

But they recommended that election officials resend a new ballot to anyone who requested one since the first ballot may have been destroyed in the crash and fire.

The extent of this “limited to one zip code” nonsense could be a red herring as according to an alert the zip code in question is an air base in Afghanistan:

According to an alert received by the Bexar County Elections Department from military voting assistance officials, the crash of the transport plane at Shindand Air Base in Afghanistan destroyed the aircraft and the 4,700 pounds of mail it was delivering to the combat zone.

Military officials weren’t immediately sure if it was carrying ballots, so they issued the nationwide call to local election officials to see if they may have sent ballots to a ZIP code serving three installations in Afghanistan — Camps Shindand, Farah and Stone, also called Herat.

“If you have sent any ballots to the ZIP code 09382, we recommend you attempt to contact the voter and resend a new ballot, as the first ballot may have been destroyed in the crash and fire,” the alert said.

I suspect it will be nigh impossible to get replacement ballots printed/mailed in time (or local boards of elections to even be notified of the situation), so it’s safe to say a large contingent of troops serving in Afghanistan will not have their votes counted in this very contentious election.

( -)-(- )3 comments

Mirror, Mirror… Who’s the Bushiest of them all?

While it may sound, when first heard, like a vulgar question contrasting 1970s adult film stars, my inquiry, who is Bushiest, deals only with the foreign policy folly we’re about to hear from the politically-conjoined twins that comprise the Jackyderm beast Obomney.



The Barack Obama interested in convincing the nation that what it needs is four more years of his watchful leadership has absolutely zero relation to the junior Senator the Republic elected a few short years ago. The fact that he has governed exactly like the man he replaced is an irony completely lost on his supporters.

Gone are the passionate cries to close Guantánamo, the promises to provide a transparent government, the affirmation that a yet-disastrous economy would result in but a single term, et al., make no difference to those who prefer the letter “D” to “R.”

Proud Democrat Mario Cuomo once stated and wondered, (about Bush the elder) without the slightest flippancy, “President Bush does a lot of things Democrats want done and does them reasonably well; why would you want to beat him?”

If we change a couple names to protect the guilty, and successfully locate a few honest Republicans (I hear there’s one in east Texas) we might hear a very similar question. The fact that these two candidates, much like McCain and Kerry before them, are both struggling to convince the masses that their nearly-identical ideas are best. It’s difficult and tricky to proceed with this type of offense, as a powerful blow to the opponent will inflict much pain on the self. And were the whole affair not so sad, it would be as comical as “The Corsican Brothers,” film it so closely resembles.



The last debate and its “moderator,” should have been an absolute embarrassment, had the so-called left not have had the requisite portion of the cingulate cortex collectively removed. I am predicting that tonight’s nearly unbearable mess, focused on foreign policy will be eerily similar—Romney will accuse Obama of being soft on terror, point out his failure to invade and occupy more sovereign counties than he has, and of being an idealistic peace-monger as evinced by his failure to bomb those Persians years ago. He will prattle on about the superiority of his way, and how, despite continuing to spend more than the next 10 to 19 countries combined (depending on the source) isn’t nearly enough. 



Early in the campaign season, suggestions to slightly decrease the automatic increase in military expenditures were met with sheer rage from Republicans (particularly Rick Perry) who screamed about “gutting” our armed forces, and other quips that seemed to be deliberately absurd. Expect to see more of the same tonight.



The illusions or “left” and “right” are now gone. It is now all about chasing Bush’s legacy to the neocon part of the political spectrum. Two honest men would preclude the pretense and tear off their shirts, beat their chests, and proclaim their love for borrowing, taxing, printing, spending, and killing, like the good puppets they are.



Obama will toss his record around, proud at the killing of the world’s most wanted man, who lived, it could be compared, around the block from a buddy’s house. Still, this one will be hard to top. And seeing as Romney has basically agreed with all the President’s foreign policy moves, he will be left only with the probably-avoidable death of Chris Stevens and Obama’s callously likening it to “a bump in the road.”

  • Both men agree that the President has the legal authority to do whatever he wishes with the military, rules be damned.
  • Neither has any qualms about the President killing anyone he wishes, at any time, without evidence, accusation, trial, oversight, or any Constitutional rights, whatever.
  • Both are extremely comfortable with occupying foreign countries where the US military is not welcome, and with likening those who would take up arms to expel it, as terrorists, or insurgents who need killing, at the very least.
  • 

Obama presides over a policy of protecting Afghan opium farmers, ensuring heroin remains available, and the drug war can continue bump-free. Let’s see if Romney mentions this at all.
  • 

During these hellish economic times, neither has mentioned the coming inflation due to printing all the money we need to fight a seemingly endless array of wars, with no objective (and therefore no end) in sight.

I’m late. The party’s started the audio-visual ipecac is ready. So I’ll end it here. Let’s see how well I do.

( -)-(- )Comments Off

Deciding the Future of Puerto Rico

Voters in Puerto Rico are preparing to reconsider the island’s relationship with the federal government. This is the first time since 1998 that voters have been asked to reconsider the fate of the island territory.

A Congressional Research Service Report for Congress states, “Although the November 2012 status vote, termed a ‘plebiscite,’ is nonbinding, Congress will likely be asked to consider the result and may choose to engage in oversight or legislation on the issue. Regardless of the outcome, the plebiscite is likely to be followed closely in Puerto Rico and Washington. Whether initiated by the Puerto Rican people or Congress, any change in the island’s political status would require congressional action.”

On November 6, voters in Puerto Rico will be asked two questions. Question 1 asks “Do you agree that Puerto Rico should continue to have its present form of territorial status?” Question 2 states: “Regardless of your selection on the first question, please mark which of the following non-territorial option would you prefer?” With options of Statehood, Independence or Sovereign Free Associated State.

The CRS Reports further states, “The statehood and independence options are essentially self-explanatory, although instructions listed on the ballot provide descriptions of each option. The ‘sovereign free associated state’ option is not a term of art historically associated with the status issue. The term resembles language used to describe ‘freely associated’ states, such as the relationship the United States maintains with the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau. As in those areas, the ‘free associated’ option for Puerto Rico would entail, the ballot instructions suggest, independence but ongoing, negotiated ties with the United States.”

It is generally believed that members of the Popular Democratic Party support the status quo or “pro commonwealth” position; New Progressive Party members support statehood; and the independence position is generally associated with the Independence Party. No major party in Puerto Rico appears to be supportive of the free association option.

The CRS Report further states, “Given the prominence of the status issue in Puerto Rican political culture, it seems likely that voters will be familiar with the status issue. How the electorate will choose to vote remains an open question… The PDP, which supports commonwealth status, has urged supporters to boycott question 2. It remains to be seen whether this will occur… How the ballots are tallied could have ramifications for interpreting the results, particularly if no option in question 2 receives a clear majority… Results that indicated the connection between answers in both questions might clarify whether question 2 was boycotted or whether there are indications of “spoiler” votes (e.g., incongruous choices for questions 1 and 2, such as maintaining the status quo but choosing independence). On the other hand, in the absence of additional information, voter intent could still be unclear even with a more detailed count.”

The CRS Report concludes that Congress may not be persuaded to act by one tally method or another.

No matter what the results of this vote or the action taken by Congress, the future of Puerto Rico should be for the people of Puerto Rico, not bureaucrats in Washington, DC to decide.

 

( -)-(- )5 comments

THE SECRET SAL PACE: Burglary, Multiple Public Urination Arrests, Bench Warrant Bespeckle Rap Sheet

This was forwarded to us (and over 3,500 political observers in Colorado) today by one of Hammer of Truth’s veteran opposition researchers:

Police records obtained by Colorado Peak Politics reveal a long and troubling criminal record for 3rd Congressional district candidate and state Representative Sal Pace (D-Pueblo). His criminal rap sheet reveals two arrests for public urination, one for felony burglary and larceny, as well as a bench warrant for failure to appear on his second public urination charge.

  • March 12, 2004 Pace was pulled over and charged with driving without a valid license, driving under restraint, driving without proof of insurance, expired license plates and suspended license plates. He pled guilty and was fined for the suspended license plate violation.
  • August 15, 2003 Pace was arrested for public urination, his second charge for public urination. He pled guilty.
  • August 29, 2003 A warrant was ordered for Pace’s arrest for failure to appear in court on the public urination charge.
  • April 20, 1996 Pace was arrested for obscene conduct, which Pace has confirmed was for public urination.
  • October 5, 1995 Pace was arrested and jailed for felony burglary in the 3rd degree and larceny, which Pace has said was for attempting to steal from his dorm’s vending machine.

These revelations, barely three months after Pace announced his candidacy for the 3rd Congressional district make Pace the worst vetted candidate since Dan Maes.

It’s one thing to have a criminal rap sheet as a state legislative candidate in a safe district where no one pays much attention to the race.

It’s entirely different to run for Congress in a competitive district with a long and illustrious criminal background that invites comparisons to disgraced New York Congressman Anthony Weiner.

Certainly a bombshell story about Colorado’s 3rd Congressional district candidate Sal Pace’s rather interesting rap sheet. We’re hoping it will be making national news soon, because it’s rather salacious and scandalous.

I think he’s kind of like the R. Kelly of Colorado politics. What will he get caught peeing on next?

( -)-(- )Comments Off

Presidential debates, auto-tuned songified

From the Auto-Tune The News — excuse me, Songify The News — folks down under (Australia, the land where pretty much every animal has killed a human) comes Town Hall Debate Songified:

Everyone’s obviously curious about these “binders full of women” that Romney speaks of thumbing through, and I will affirm that Candy Crowley would certainly not ever be in mine, but whoever did the singing in lieu of her would.

( -)-(- )Comments Off

Are the presidential candidates smarter than a fifth grader?

The Commission on Presidential Debates has held three events so far this year, and I wanted to know if our next commander-in-chief (or the next in line) were able to beat out a fifth grader (hello, pop culture references). I sliced and diced the transcripts of each participant (including the moderators and audience) and ran them through a couple of algorithms.

The Flesch–Kincaid readability test and the Gunning fog index are widely recognized methods for determining the education level needed to grasp subject material — in this case the dialogue transcripts of the debates. The numbers shown indicate the grade level one would need to be able to comprehend each respondent.

The results are presented below:

First Presidential Debate (Denver, Colorado)

Kincaid Fog
Jim Lehrer (moderator) 4.1 8.1
Barack Obama 8.3 11.9
Mitt Romney 5.8 9.5

Vice Presidential Debate (Danville, Kentucky)

Kincaid Fog
Martha Raddatz (moderator) 4.4 7.9
Joe Biden 4.9 8.1
Paul Ryan 4.5 7.8

Second Presidential Debate (Hempstead, New York)

Kincaid Fog
Candy Crowley (moderator) 3.1 6.5
Barack Obama 6.4 10.0
Mitt Romney 5.7 9.3
All audience 7.8 11.5

UPDATE: Added the fourth debate (third presidential debate) and overall scores based on D/R, below:

Third Presidential Debate (Boca Raton, Florida)

Kincaid Fog
Bob Schieffer (moderator) 4.3 7.5
Barack Obama 7.6 11.1
Mitt Romney 5.6 9.0

All Presidential Debates (averaged)

Kincaid Fog
Moderators 3.9 7.5
Democrats 6.6 10.1
Republicans 5.3 8.8

Apparently the moderators are not smarter than fifth graders, and the candidates are barely eking by according to Kincaid standards.

However, it’s interesting to note that the debate audience at the second presidential debate — a town hall format — scored off the charts in smarts compared to all the candidates and moderators.

Maybe we should go ahead and elect one of them.

( -)-(- )Comments Off

Live(ish) Blogging the Second Presidential “Debate”


From time to time, here at Hammer of Truth one of us will liveblog a debate or something. This is what it looks like.

On Tuesday October 16th 2012, Democrat President Barack Obama met with Republican nominee former Governor Mitt Romney to lay into each other in the new public blood sport democratic process of getting to know our next commander in chief. Romney is still trailing far behind Obama in projected electoral vote counts, but walked away with a national poll bounce from the Denver performance (mostly due to Obama’s apparent boredom). Governor Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party presidential candidate was not invited to attend due to not meeting the required 15% threshold, nor was Green Party candidate Jill Stein — who apparently showed up and was arrested, yikes.

An official transcript of the debate can be found here.

All times are in Eastern Daylight Time.

[Though billed as a "live blogging" event, my time away from blogging has resulted in my complete inability to properly negotiate the back-end of this site without a time-consuming, self-taught refresher course. As a result, the comments below, while made in real time, were not posted until after the debate was over. This misstep indicates what I've long suspected——that "drunk-blogging" is a necessary requirement of "live-blogging"]

I can’t help but think of this “debate” as the video equivalent of the children’s game (also found in bars), in which players must discover the smallest details differing from one seemingly identical picture to the next. Yes, a President Romney would likely be a bit hostile to additional business regulations, though he wouldn’t fail to enforce the existing ones. And he may oversee the dismantling of Obamacare, but only because as a businessman, he hates people stealing his ideas.

The point is that it is merely diminutive details that separate these two men, one clamoring to become the American emperor, the other begging the masses to renew his licenses to kill, lie, and steal, and allowing him to continue his despotic reign. Sadly, these tiny differentiations will be underscored, played up, and shouted about; those who disregard them loudly styled blind, stupid, or both. The similarities, though not unlike those among identical twins, will be obtusely ignored, with those who point to them relegated to the fringe.

My synopsis of the silliness that passed for serious argument follows, replete with all the sarcasm and ridicule richly deserved by those who would pretend any legitimacy to such a charade. see more…

( -)-(- )2 comments

Supreme Court To Decide “First Sale Doctrine”

On October 29, the US Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case of Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons. The case revolves around the “first sale doctrine” which allows the owner of a lawfully obtained copyrighted work to dispose of that copy without the approval of the owner of the copyright.

At issue in this case is a practice of buying cheaper foreign editions of college textbooks, then reselling them to students in the U.S. This is done under the first sale doctrine, but some copyright owners insist that federal law does not allow it.

Supap Kirtsaeng came to the U.S. from Thailand to attend college. He decided he could offset the costs of his education as a textbook dealer. His family would buy foreign editions of textbooks in Thailand and send them to him. He re-sold them to students and made a small profit.

The books sold by Kirtsaeng were published by John Wiley & Sons through an Asian subsidiary . Wiley sued him in federal court in New York, and Kirtsaeng sought to rely on the first sale doctrine. A federal judge rejected the claim, concluding that the doctrine does not apply to goods made in a foreign country. The jury found Kirtsaeng liable for infringing copyright on eight books, and found that it was an intentional violation of Wiley’s copyright. Wiley was awarded $75,000 in damages for each book, for a total of $600,000; even though Kirtsaeng only sold $37,000 worth of Wiley textbooks. The Second Circuit Court upheld the award, agreeing that the doctrine does not apply to a foreign-made product.

Three Circuit Courts have heard cases regarding the first sale doctrine, and each court has made a different ruling. The Second Circuit declaring that foreign-made works can never be resold in the U.S. without the copyright owner’s consent, the Ninth Circuit ruling that such a foreign-made product sometimes can be sold in the U.S. without permission, but only after the owner has approved an earlier sale inside the U.S., and the Third Circuit deciding that such a product can always be re-sold without permission, so long as the copyright owner had authorized the first sale that occurred overseas.

A brief filed by the American Library Association states: “By restricting the application of Section 109(a) to copies manufactured in the United States, the Second Circuit’s decision threatens the ability of libraries to continue to lend materials in their collections. ”

A brief filed by Goodwill Industries International, Inc. states: “In essence, the Second Circuit’s decision destroys first sale protection for all copyrighted works manufactured abroad [and] allows copyright holders to control the price of a foreign-produced copyrighted work no matter how many times it is resold. ”

While I do not necessarily support copyright in its current form, I do believe that the creator of content should have a say over the first sale and ONLY the first sale! Almost everything I publish, is done so under a Creative Commons License along with “copyheart.” I allow my content to be distributed by anyone under the condition that I be credited as the author/creator of the content.

I would like to see the Supreme Court make the right decision in this case, overturn the Second Circuit ruling and affirm the 1998 Quality King decision from the Ninth Circuit Court, “The whole point of the first sale doctrine is that once the copyright owner places a copyrighted item in the stream of commerce by selling it, he has exhausted his exclusive statutory right to control its distribution.”

( -)-(- )2 comments