Friday, June 12, 2015

Yes, gay rights are the same as civil rights

By Richard Barry

In an interview on CNN recently, Republican GOP presidential hopeful Ben Carson said this:
What position can a person take who has no animosity toward gay people, but believes in the traditional definition of marriage that would be acceptable?

I can't be the only one who sees the irony in Carson, an African-American, saying that, you know, he has nothing against gay people, as long as they don't insist on having the same rights as the rest of us.

Heck, I'll bet some of Carson's best friends are gay. Maybe not, but as long as they know their place he probably wouldn't be opposed to the idea.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Getting to know Jeb Bush (and not in a good way)

By Richard Barry

I wonder how many people look somewhat favourably on Jeb Bush because he seems so much more intelligent than brother George. Not that the bar is very high, but Jeb is mostly able to string together  a few coherent sentences and doesn't typically want to make you scramble for the remote to avoid having to endure cringe-making television.

While I may have previously counted myself in this group, it's all over now. Jeb Bush, like his brother, is a moron. And I can prove it.
Public shaming would be an effective way to regulate the “irresponsible behavior” of unwed mothers, misbehaving teenagers and welfare recipients, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) argued in his 1995 book Profiles in Character.

In a chapter called "The Restoration of Shame,” the likely 2016 presidential candidate made the case that restoring the art of public humiliation could help prevent pregnancies “out of wedlock.”

One of the reasons more young women are giving birth out of wedlock and more young men are walking away from their paternal obligations is that there is no longer a stigma attached to this behavior, no reason to feel shame. Many of these young women and young men look around and see their friends engaged in the same irresponsible conduct. Their parents and neighbors have become ineffective at attaching some sense of ridicule to this behavior. There was a time when neighbors and communities would frown on out of wedlock births and when public condemnation was enough of a stimulus for one to be careful.

He even points to the effectiveness of pinning a big ol' letter "A" onto transgressors. Or, as Jeb put it,  "Infamous shotgun weddings and Nathaniel Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter are reminders that public condemnation of irresponsible sexual behavior has strong historical roots."

But this takes the cake:

As governor of Florida in 2001, Bush had the opportunity to test his theory on public shaming. He declined to veto a very controversial bill that required single mothers who did not know the identity of the father to publish their sexual histories in a newspaper before they could legally put their babies up for adoption.

What a great idea.

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Tuesday, June 09, 2015

How not to start a presidential campaign

I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks Jeb Bush's campaign has been a disaster so far. No, Jeb Bush's campaign apparently thinks the same thing.

First Read notes that it's not that unusual for a presidential campaign to change managers when things aren't going well. But it is odd for that to happen before the campaign officially begins.
And that's why yesterday's news that Jeb Bush hired GOP communications strategist Danny Diaz to be his new campaign manager -- after previously tapping David Kochel (who was Mitt Romney's chief Iowa strategist in 2012) to fill the position -- is a big deal. It's a tacit acknowledgement that the last few months for Team Jeb haven't gone well. If the goal of the Jeb pre-campaign was to create enough of a juggernaut to scare off some potential rivals, it didn't work. 

Not only did that not work but it has actually made candidates who in truth should have sat on their hands offer themselves up or seriously consider it.

Think about it. It's like the schoolyard bully trying to make himself so feared that no one will challenge him instead being so pathetic that there's a lineup to punch him in the nose.

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Monday, June 08, 2015

Livin' large on the speakers circuit

By Richard Barry

I've never loved the typical defence of political malfeasance that "they all do it." Anyone who was around for the Watergate scandal is more than familiar with that one. I think a typical response at the time was that though they may all do a lot of things, they don't all do that. Let's make some distinctions, folks. Some things are worse. And, on the other end of the spectrum, some things I just can't manage to give a damn about.

In truth, I've never really understood how it could constitute a major moral failing that the Clintons have received huge sums of money for giving speeches. If someone wants to fork over that kind of cash to hear Bill or Hillary opine about this or that, why should I care?

I know. Having too much money is supposed to be a sign that a politician is out of touch with the experiences and needs of ordinary Americans. And when Democrats have too much money, well, since they like to go on about the plight of the great unwashed, that's just the height of hypocrisy (or some such nonsense).

Let's all agree that anyone taking a serious shot at the presidency has long been out of touch with the experiences and needs of ordinary Americans.

And, once having been president, I'm guessing that a Saturday morning shopping excursion down to Walmart is rarely on the itinerary.

I was not surprised, and would have been surprised if the opposite were true, to learn that former President George W. Bush had taken advantage of the speakers circuit.

Toward the end of his presidency, George W. Bush told Robert Draper, reporting for a book called Dead Certain, that he intended after vacating the Oval Office to “replenish the ol’ coffers.” He said he could make “ridiculous” money on the lecture circuit.

“I don’t know what my dad gets, but it’s more than 50, 75” thousand dollars a speech, he said.

“Clinton’s making a lot of money,” he added.

As critics over the years have chided Bill Clinton and also his wife for the industriousness with which they have pursued opportunities to get paid a lot of money in this manner, Bush, too, has been doing exactly what he said he would be doing.

POLITICO says that "Bush has given at least 200 paid speeches and probably many more, typically pocketing $100,000 to $175,000 per appearance. The part-time work, which rarely requires more than an hour on stage, has earned him tens of millions of dollars."

 Now that we know this I am sure Republicans everywhere will begin to cut the Clintons some slack. Right?

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Sunday, June 07, 2015

Decision 2016: the 404 error page war

By Frank Moraes

Gentle reader, Daniel Bean has written the most important article yet about the 2016 presidential election, The Presidential Candidates’ 404 Pages, Ranked. For those of you who are not computer freaks, a 404 page is what a web server sends out when it can’t find the actual page requested. It used to be, one would usually see just an awkward and ugly page proclaiming, “Not Found.” This was generally followed by some lightly technical jargon about URLs and ports. But it has pretty much always been possible to have custom error page and now most websites use them. And as Bean points out, often to great effect.

The Uninspired and Just Plain Bad

But not always. Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina both have standard 404 pages. They are very similar to the error page for Frankly Curious — boring but not embarrassing. Ted Cruz manages error pages by loading his home page. That may seem like a good idea, but it is actually very bad from the standpoint of usability. It confuses users, but then most Ted Cruz supporters are already pretty confused.

Lindsey Graham, however, has a 404 page that is embarrassing. It the default kind that says, “I couldn’t be bothered to provide a proper error.” So the visitor is told, “Not Found.” This is followed by the standard detailed but useless message, “The requested URL /franklycurious was not found on this server. Apache Server at Port 80.” The question comes to mind: if he can’t hire a competent web designer, how is he going to fill his cabinet? (Note: if you go to his direct site — instead of the subdomain, which is the first thing I found — he does the same stupid thing that Ted Cruz does.)

But what is amazing — thrilling in its total horribleness — is Rand Paul’s 404 page. It is a standard page from CloudFlare with a search box and “results” from the site. It looks just like those awful pages that come up when a website’s name registration lapses. But the truly horrible part is that regardless of what you enter into the search box, the same results come up. I’m sure this will be fixed soon, so don’t miss your chance to have Rand Paul waste your time and bandwidth!
The Inspired and Often Good

Bean didn’t much talk about the bad 404 pages. He focused on the good ones. And there are a number of them. Shockingly, God’s elder brother Rick Santorum has a snarky but compelling bit about Hillary Clinton. I think this is a political mistake — it uses that image of Clinton in sunglasses texting where she looks cool and in charge. But at least the page looks good. I think it looks a lot better than Marco Rubio’s page. Of course, Marco Rubio’s whole website kind of sucks.

Martin O’Malley’s 404 page is okay. It’s him on a horse with the headline, “Hold Your Horses. You’re Going the Wrong Way.” But I’m with Bean in not really liking it. It seems vaguely embarrassing and I’m not sure why. He might have been better off with the Carson or Fiorina model.

Hillary Clinton’s 404 page is charming. It features a picture of the young Clintons with Donald Duck with the headline, “Oops, that link wasn’t what it was quacked up to be.” Bean considers it the best. I understand this; I just don’t agree.

I think there is something to be said for having a little dignity. In Clinton’s case, the “fun” angle might be good because people tend to think of her as kind of intense.

Mike Huckabee’s 404 page is nice, and more straight forward. It isn’t quite as good as it could be because the image of Huckabee fishing isn’t great. And it too has a sad joke, “Oops! Looks like you caught the wrong page.” It’s a little bit charming and a little bit, “Ugh! My grandpa’s on Facebook.” But that’s fine.

It isn’t surprising that I like Bernie Sanders’ 404 page the most: I’m inclined to like him. But I really do think it is the best in an objective sense because it is soBernie Sanders. It is a short YouTube video that starts automatically. Sanders explains that you have come to the right website but not the right page. And it is said with the same kind of direct and authoritative tone that he explains why the minimum wage needs to be raised. 

Regardless, I think it is great that these candidates took the time to create customer 404 pages. The truth is that it is only freaks like Daniel Bean (and me) who are likely to ever see these pages. But I’m really glad that Bean brought the issue to my attention. I think he was wrong, however, when he wrote, “You probably should not base your vote in the upcoming election on this.” You definitely should! And by that, I mean that you should vote for Bernie Sanders.

(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)

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