"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Lies, damn lies and statistics

You say you want election numbers? Look no further than the 308 for all the Canadian election polling you can stand.

And just for the record:

Current Parliament
Conservative Party of Canada: 143 seats
Liberal Party: 77 seats
Bloc Quebecois: 47 seats
New Democratic Party 36 seats

Poll projections from 308 as of March 25
Conservatives: 152 seats, popular vote 38.2%
Liberals: 72 seats, popular vote 27.4%
Bloc Quebecois: 51 seats, popular vote 9.9 %
NDP: 33 seats, popular vote 16.1%
Green Party: 7.1% popular vote



Bouquets of Grey notes an interesting coincidence


Monday, March 21, 2011

After all, they might spend the cash on pitchforks and torches

via Susie Madrak at Crooks and Liars we learn that the northern wingnuts of Minnesota will not be outdone by the dairyland wingnuts of Wisconsin. Wis. Gov. Scott Walker is trying to crush unions and take away the constitutional right of working people to freely associate - hah! what a piker! a mere robber baron wannabe! Minnesota Republicans want to make it illegal for anyone on public assistance to have more than $20 cash!

On March 15, Angel Buechner of the Welfare Rights Committee testified in front of the House Health and Human Services Reform Committee on House File 171. Buechner told committee members, “We would like to address the provision that makes it illegal for MFIP [one of Minnesota’s welfare programs] families to withdraw cash from the cash portion of the MFIP grant - and in fact, appears to make it illegal for MFIP families to have any type of money at all in their pockets. How do you expect people to take care of business like paying bills such as lights, gas, water, trash and phone?”
House File 171 would make it so that families on MFIP - and disabled single adults on General Assistance and Minnesota Supplemental Aid - could not have their cash grants in cash or put into a checking account. Rather, they could only use a state-issued debit card at special terminals in certain businesses that are set up to accept the card.
Which is a actually a partial surrender to all those Cadillac-driving welfare queens in Minnesota - the original bill would have barred those on assistance from getting any cash at all.
Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?
But remember, trying to get millionaires to pay an extra 2% in income taxes is Marxist class warfare by jealous communist who hate successful people who pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps. You know, scrappy entrepreneurs like Paris Hilton and all those hedge fund managers on Wall Street who earn every cent of their million-dollar taxpayer-funded bonuses.
I'm guessing the next step will be Oklahoma bringing back indentured servitude and debtor's prisons or Missouri passing the "Modest Proposal Act" requiring all families on public assistance to sell their children to the nearest rendering plant or perhaps the kindly burghers of Indiana will finally pass the "Work will make you Free" Act to provide a final solution to the poverty problem.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Gambatte Nippon!

Check out the ton of great tsunami related art at http://tsunami.cfsl.net/


this week on Virtually Speaking

While this week would normally be my Sunday to host Virtually Speaking Sunday: Maple Syrup Edition, I've been otherwise occupied fretting myself half to death and besides, we had a terrific guest - Ambassador Joe Wilson - lined up for the other show, so it was decided to let them go a little long tonight.

Be part of the studio audience in Second Life. Join us at http://slurl.com/secondlife/Virtually%20Speaking/151/153/24
• Amb. Joe Wilson | Marcy Wheeler on VS Sundays:  Balancing security and transparency in a 21st century democracy  | Listen here, on or after Sunday, March 20 @ 9pm est|6pm pdt
• Susie Madrak | Scout Prime on VS Susie: Blogging Wisconsin |Listen here, on or after Monday, March 21 @ 9pm est|6pm pdt
• Stuart Zechman | Jay Ackroyd on VS A-Z: Exploring liberalism |Listen live here, on Thursday, March 24 @ 8pm est|5pm pdt | Listen here after midnight Friday, March 25.
• Brad DeLong | Jay Ackroyd on Virtually Speaking w/Jay Ackroyd:  How the great recession has exposed a rift among macro economists. And Ricardian Equivalence.|Listen here, on or after Thursday, March 24 @ 9pm est|6pm pdt


Keep calm and carry on

When my smart phone chimed at 3 a.m. a week ago Friday in Ontario, bringing news of a massive eathquake in Japan, I woke Hiromi. She muttered something about calling her parents in Miyagi in the morning, and went back to sleep. We’d spoken to her dad via video Skype only a few hours ago. It could wait.
Morning came, and with TV images of cars washing under a bridge like ice floes on a spring river, fishing boats perched atop buildings, entire villages reduced to mud-covered rubble. We called and called to no avail.
We knew Oji-san would have been at home in Wakayanagi, far enough inland to be safe from the deadly waves, but Oba-san was supposed to go into Sendai to attend a lecture that afternoon.
The barrage of calls from family and friends began almost at once with my parents offering to cut short their southern vacation. No need, we told them, there’s nothing to be done but wait.
I went to work long enough to fill in my boss and was sent home to wait. Hour after hour, we watched the news channels hideous pageant of the damned, like rabbits on the highway at night, unable to look away from the oncoming headlights of doom. But for us that doom would never arrive, only constantly approach. All we could do was wait, chained by distance, helpless to act.
Dozens called and emailed to express concern, sympathy, horror and support. Was there anything they could do? Did we need anything? No, there was nothing. Only to wait.
Hours of anxiety stretched into days. The kids were fed at intervals and otherwise left in the care of Nintendo and Walt Disney. I cooked, monitored the news and answered the phone while Hiromi sat glued to NHK’s Internet feed and kept up the hourly ritual of dialing through to a recording in Japan telling us our call could not be put through. Appetitie and sleep became a distant memory. I’d give in to nervous exhaustion and medicinal vodka and doze fitfully for a few hours, rising to find her still maintaining her vigil the while the 24-hour cable news drumbeat of despair rolled on.
I stumbled through work, so preoccupied I could barely string a coherent sentence together. Wednesday came and went without contact, the constant worry and not-knowing like a trapped rat trying to gnaw its way out of your terrified soul. We did our best to stay composed, knowing that the least breach of the emotional dam would mean a flood of panic.
Returning from the office early Thurday, I sat down to try to work and noticed the cold grey lemon of my father-in-law’s Skype icon had turned to bright, friendly green. His computer was back online. They had electricity. I hollered to Hiromi and she dashed to the phone.
We called, and at long last, they answered.
The waiting was over.