He’s Made A Little List

As someday it may happen
An election we must hold
I’ve got a little list
It’s not a little list
Of the lies and utter falsehoods
That this Romney chap has told
Which must not be dismissed
They cannot be dismissed

Sadly, I don’t have time right now to complete the Mikado list song–might have to revisit this concept, or just let you do it. But the list itself is now in the neighborhood of 700 documented lies, in weekly installments by Steve Benen each Friday on the Maddow Blog. You can find the 35th installment of the list here. It has links to all the previous versions.

(Their standards are a bit stricter than mine–repetitions of the same lie on different occasions counts for them, and some of the lies are, I think, open to interpretation, although an honest observer would have to admit that Romney is at minimum stretching the truth beyond its capacity to recover. With my looser standards, you’d only have perhaps a couple hundred unique lies being told. Which is still plenty of grist for the lyrical mill.)

Time To Fear–UnderDog Is Here!

In interviews on TV shows,
In papers, or in someone’s blog
The campaigns fight like no one knows,
To claim the title “underdog”.

One candidate’s the president
And one a multi-millionaire;
Some sympathy’d be heaven-sent
And underdogs make people care

Let’s make a play for sympathy
And keep the expectations low
We’re not expecting much—you see,
We’re underdogs in this year’s show

“The other side” both sides proclaim
“Is clearly in the privileged seat”
It’s almost like it’s all a game—
The only rule is, don’t get beat.

Your tactic’s weak; the best you’ve got’s
A line of bullshit claims to flog
These stupid claims, and low cheap shots
Dilute the name of “Underdog”. [Read more…]

What Frightens Me

“Romney’s chances of winning are low”
is the message wherever I go
But what keeps me up nights–
Do I only chose sites
That confirm what I already “know”?

Confirmation bias, that’s what frightens me. You see it everywhere, especially the big news/opinion sites. Read about the latest poll and what it means in an article, and then check what the readers have taken away.

Republican commenters will point to one or two outlying polls as “accurate”, and to others as “liberally biased”. I have (no, I won’t dig it up) seen commenters utterly certain that Rove has “put the fix in” in a handful of districts, and really, it only comes down to a handful of districts in a handful of states. I have heard, again and again–and from both sides–“just you wait until November; you’ll see!”

I remember a reporter, back in 1988, who was just gobsmacked that Dukakis had not won. The reporter had been assigned to the Democrat’s campaign, and as such was inside the protective bubble of spin control. Every bit of news was filtered through an environment that heard what it wanted to hear, and refused to hear what it did not, to the point where a supposedly objective newsman fully expected, even in the last weeks, a Dukakis win.

It makes perfect sense that, in an age of information glut, where we simply do not have time to take in all the available information, that we pick and choose what we will read or listen to. And it is perfectly human of us to be biased when we do so. My mother in law fully expects a Romney/Ryan landslide. All the polls she has seen point that way. I find myself visiting Nate Silver’s blog and hoping he’s right.

In my visits to news sites, I see people utterly convinced of the truth of diametrically opposed realities. And it scares me to death.

Not because I see it in them.

But because I don’t always see it in me. And yet, the odds are I am doing the same thing.

Oh, and the “push polls” have started! These are polls that are designed with clearly biased questions, intended to force the respondent to respond favorably to whoever is behind the poll (“given X’s history of mistakes, can he be trusted to…?”). These biased polls are intended to give a picture of support, or of momentum, or of some sort of consensus for a candidate above what the candidate has actually earned. So the polls my mother in law cites, for instance, may well exist, although they may be methodologically suspect.

And since none (or very few) of us have the time or resources to check the methodologies of all of the relevant polls, we all too often trust… the ones that agree with our expectations.

And that frightens me.

Headline Muse, 9/23

It was not a great week. Or, it was.
We’re succeeding—creating a buzz!
Inconsistent? You bet!
But that’s all that you’ll get:
It’s Reince Priebus; that’s what the man does

Headlines (a twofer!):
Priebus on Romney: ‘Not the best week’
Priebus: ‘In Retrospect,’ Last Week ‘Good Week’ for Romney Campaign

That last one, yes, was the inspiration for my last post. Which means you get another limerick, too, cos I added one in the comments there:

In the race for Republican seats
Party spin and the truth rarely meets
So they have to make do
With fake bullshit (sham poo)
Which Reince, in a lather, repeats

A Planet Called “Retrospect”?

“Our week was good, in retrospect;
The polls should make that clear.”
Where is this place called “retrospect”?
It sure as hell ain’t here.

Heh. The article at the National Review Online is titled “Priebus: ‘In Retrospect,’ Last Week ‘Good Week’ for Romney Campaign” Priebus seems to have looked back on a very different week than his fellow Republicans. It takes industrial strength spin control to tumble-polish a turd like last week. Don’t try this at home, kids.

Or maybe “Retrospect” is the name of the planet Romney will rule over in the afterlife.

News Site Debates Existence Of Hell. Seriously. In 2012.

I read it just this morning (I will need to make this clear,
But I had to check the calendar to verify the year)
On what claims to be a news site, and a major one, I fear—
They debated the reality of Hell

I thought Hell was merely fiction; just a myth from long ago
An adapted form of Hades, which the Greeks saw down below
For an educated person, this is something you should know
It’s a story that the ancients used to tell

In our modern world, the concept of a Heaven or a Hell
Or creation in a paradise from which our species fell
Is a sign that the believer isn’t thinking very well—
Those are remnants of beliefs from way back when

Or at least that’s how it should be; I was truly shocked to see
In our age of information (and so much of it is free!)
Such an ancient and outdated view—so how, then, could it be
On the home page—yes, today—at CNN?

No, really! Look:

Ah, but on the story’s page itself, the title is a bit less sensationalistic: Different Takes: Should we abandon idea of hell?

(Oh, and given the predictable nature of the comments, I am a bit disappointed in CNN that they didn’t tweak the comments page to read “Abandon all hope, ye who enter”)

God Saves Texas From … What?

“Forty Days To Save America”
Had placed a conference call

Cos a pastor had some news to share
About his favorite pol.

To hear the pastor tell it,
Climatologists are irked
Cos that prayer y’all made fun of?
Here’s the funny thing—it worked.

Perry saved the state of Texas
When he prayed for rain to fall
Simple church and state entanglement
Has rescued one and all!

I say “one and all”, but really,
There’s a long, long way to go—
Is the drought in Texas over?
There’s a simple answer: no.

There are aquifers in trouble
In the South, and in the West
(So it’s clear—Northeastern Texas
Is the part God loves the best)

But it’s better than it once was
So they’re crediting the Guv;
If he hadn’t prayed and fasted
God might not have shown His love.

Lest you think the pastor stupid,
Simply wrong, or off his meds…
He’s distracting our attention
From a bailout by the feds.

[Tuesday] the EPA announced they’re giving more than $57 million in grants to the Texas Water Development Board fund for drinking water. “The funds will be used by the state of Texas to provide loan assistance to eligible water systems for infrastructure improvements needed to ensure safe drinking water is available to Texas residents,” the agency says.

That was Tuesday. Today, we find out that there was no need for federal intervention–Rick Perry’s prayers and fasting are the reason the drought is over… to the extent, that is, that it is over.

It is, absolutely, the case that the drought is less problematic now than it was when Perry held his prayer at the beginning of what is typically the rainy season. It’s similar, I guess, to the success I have achieved when I head to the beach right after low tide and pray for high tide.

Either that, or the puppy sacrifice worked. (perfectly safe and heartwarming story at link)

Mitt’s Tax Returns

You can take the word of Romney
Who says, “Everybody knows—
No one wants a president who pays
More taxes than he owes!”

He also said he always paid
Above thirteen percent—
And because he couldn’t break this rule,
The other one got bent. [Read more…]

Through A Glass, Darkly (another guest post by Dr. Adequate)

I asked the preacher to expound
where in the Bible it is found,
and where in Scripture written
why evil flourishes, and why
when blameless children starve and die
still tyrants live unsmitten.

He sighed: “Alas! If we but knew;
but I am human, so are you:
a humble, mortal man.
We cannot see things through God’s eyes
or with his wisdom, know how wise
the workings of his plan.”

The ways of God are not our ways;
that’s what the Bible clearly says
(Isaiah 55).
We cannot know; God only knows:
the dead are dead because he chose
and those who live, alive.

His thoughts are not our thoughts, alas!
We see as through a darkened glass
(according to St. Paul).
Don’t fuss yourself with asking why;
in Heaven, maybe, when you die
perhaps you’ll know it all.”

I thanked him more than once or twice
for all of his profound advice,
and made a careful note.
“I have another question”, then
I asked this humblest of men.
“Say, how would Jesus vote?”

“I’m glad you asked”, replied the man;
“he’s certainly Republican
and hates the Democrats.
He sheddeth his eternal light
upon extremists on the right
and doesn’t think they’re bats.

I know for sure the great I AM
thinks global warming is a scam,
in every last degree.
He favors tort reform as well,
and has a special place in Hell
for those who don’t agree.

Ye demons of the Left, despair!
His curse is on Obamacare
(he hates the Kenyan’s guts).
And woe to those who separate
in any way, the Church and State:
that really drives him nuts.

Don’t peril your immortal soul
by advocating gun control;
that’s sinful, I’m afraid.
His hand is on the GOP,
and need I spell it out how he
interprets Roe v. Wade?

He loves the rich, of that I’m sure
(when he said “Blessed are the poor”
that’s really what he meant.)
He hates the Mexicans and blacks;
he favors a consumption tax
of six point five percent.

Ah, wicked and corrupt must be
those sinful folk who disagree,
and willfully obtuse.
So plain are all God’s thoughts and ways
that just as the apostle says
‘they are without excuse’.”
[Read more…]