Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Last Call

Indeed, it's last call for Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who announced this evening that he's leaving the company effective immediately.  Bloomberg News:

Apple Inc. (AAPL) Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs, who built the world’s most valuable technology company, resigned. He recommended that the board name Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook as his successor.

Jobs went on medical leave in January.

“I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know,” Jobs said in a statement. “Unfortunately, that day has come.”

The assumption is that his battle with cancer has reached a point where he feels that he can't do his job.  It's also telling that after hours trading of Apple stock was immediately halted upon the announcement.

Jobs's departure dampens the other big Apple story this week, that the expected iPhone 5 will be offered on Sprint's network in mid-October along with AT&T and Verizon, which means the phone is definitely on the way, but for a later 4th quarter release.

Tomorrow may be a very interesting day on Wall Street.

Fact Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

Today's Washington Post columnist Q&A with the paper's political fact check writer, Glenn Kessler, is as illuminating as it is depressing

Glenn, thank you for taking my question. As much as it burns me to read your column, it's a must-read. I know that you do award Pinocchios to President Obama and some Democrats (that is not in doubt); however, it seems like you grade the GOP far more often than Dems. Of course there are going to be more GOP newsmakers spouting off in Iowa; however, that doesn't mean that Democrats have been mute in voicing some off-base stuff too. I'm not asking for a 'fairness doctrine' to somehow be put into effect; what I am saying is that there does seem to be a tilt towards your column going after Republicans- almost like at a 3-1 ratio. Also, and maybe this should be directed towards the Ombudsman, but it would be great if you would award Pinocchios to the Post's own columnists. Robinson alone would keep you in business (yes, I know columnists spout off opinions, but when they mix in falsehoods and exagerations, it's just as bad as politicians). 
Now, this was in fact the very first question Kessler chose to answer.  It's standard "liberal media bias!" fare, complete with "You're harder on Republicans!" and an open attack on Post columnist Eugene Robinson to boot.  Kessler's answer is just as mind-numbing.
Thanks for your question. I am sensitive to the fact that this month in particular there seems to have been more posts on Republicans. In part that's because Congress has been out of session and, yes, there are lots of Republicans running for president. I really only had Obama's bus tour to work with and frankly that was thin gruel.

The best way to look at the column is over a long period of time--say six months--rather than week to week or even month by month. As the campaign heats up, the balance may be difficult to keep up, especially if the president isn't saying much. When there are two candidates--Obama and the GOP nominee--it will again be easier.

Wait.  Let's stop and analyze this.  Kessler explains that there are far more Republicans than Democrats running for President in 2012, so of course that 3-to-1 ratio the questioner is complaining about is going to exist.  If anything, considering there's more than three GOP candidates that Kessler has been following, that perceived 3-to-1 ratio means there's a distinct Republican bias to Kessler's fact checking forays given the assumption that all politicians lie at the same amount and are caught at the same amount by Kessler.

So, this means either the assumption is wrong and President Obama really is a consummate fibber (in which case the reader is complaining about nothing) or that Kessler's going out of his way to find things to ding Obama on in order to keep the perception of "balance".

Both Kessler's recent columns on President Obama (awarding him One Pinocchio for a mostly true statement twice in the last week and even finding that he told the full truth about Joe Biden's statements that Tea Partiers were terrorists) and more importantly Kessler's answer to the reader bear out the second scenario.
Kessler strongly implies that when the race comes down just to Obama and his nominated GOP opponent heading into the general election, he will then be more able to maintain the "balance" more easily.  But that depends on how much the President says, not what he says.  Which means Kessler intends to write fact checker columns about Obama even if he's mostly telling the truth.  And hey, just this week Kessler wrote three columns finding that President Obama is mostly telling the truth.

Are you beginning to see the problem here?  Kessler clearly feels the need to write fact check columns about Obama based not on facts, but on quantity of statements made...and he has to do this in order to cancel out the "perceived liberal bias" from large numbers of Republicans spouting crazy lies.

Yeah.  Facts has a liberal bias, as Colbert said.  And Glenn Kessler believes his job is to correct that bias.  Odd stance for a fact checker.

Los Votantes Latinos Al Rescate!

Over at PPP, Tom Jensen's latest polling finds that Rick Perry is pretty popular among Republicans...and is immediately driving the Latino vote straight to President Barack Obama.

In our first national poll pitting the two Obama leads Perry 49-43. That six point advantage is pretty comparable to Obama's margin of victory over John McCain. Perry has certainly come on strong with Republicans but independents view him negatively already by an almost 2:1 margin, 29/55, and Democrats pretty universally give him bad ratings at a 10/71 spread. As a result Obama leads Perry thanks in large part to a 24 point advantage with independents at 56-32.

Jensen does pitch a cautionary note however:  Even PPP finds that Barack Obama ties Mitt Romney at 45%.  But Perry also edges out Romney and Bachmann in Iowa in PPP's latest numbers there, 22% to 19% to 18% respectively.

Here's the interesting part:

One big reason Obama's doing pretty well in these match ups is the Hispanic vote. Exit polls in 2008 showed him winning it by a 36 point margin over McCain but he builds on that in all of these match ups with a 37 point advantage over Romney at 66-29, a 46 point one over Perry at 72-26, a 48 point edge over Bachmann at 74-26, a 49 point lead on Palin at 74-25, and a 53 point spread on Herman Cain at 75-22. This is a good example of what Republican strategist Mike Murphy has described as the economics vs. demographics tension for next year's election. The economy could sink Obama but at the same time an ever growing expanding Hispanic vote that he wins by a huge margin could be enough to let him eek out a second term. It's certainly propping him up on this poll

Perhaps President Obama's recent decision to overhaul his administration's misguided and overzealous enforcement of the nation's deportation policy last week, halting some 300,000 deportations for further review, is already having an effect.  Republicans have continued to attack the President as weak on immigration policy despite already deporting more than 800,000 individuals in just two years, far outpacing any previous administration.

Republicans were going to attack President Obama on immigration anyway and will continue to demonize Latinos across the country (you have to look no further than Alabama's "toughest in the nation" immigration law, passed by Republican lawmakers and heading for federal court this week)  It seems the President has wisely decided Republicans are going to ignore his deportation enforcement that outpaced Dubya and will accuse him of "amnesty" for treating Latinos as human beings anyway, so he might as well get credit for doing the right thing with his base.

It's a smart move all around.  Well played, Mr. President.


President Obama is drawing fire for playing golf at the time the earthquake hit.  Really?  None of those critics have said what they expect him to have done, considering that there were no immediate reports of major injuries.  I suppose those who claim he was uninterested missed the part where he asked to be kept up to date on incoming reports.

My favorite quote so far:

Seriously, Obama should should abandon his golf game, huddle with FEMA and at least pretend to be doing something.

Why pretend?  Obama's greatest strength in my opinion is that he doesn't dance through ridiculous hoops.  He does his job, he does it well, and he wastes no time patting himself on the back or crowing like a certain Moose we all know.  He is above that.  He is cool because doesn't have to jump up and down and tell us how cool he is.  Unlike some, I sort of like the fact that he isn't a media whore.

This was a dramatic event that could have been disastrous and killed thousands.  It didn't.  He can take action once all the facts are in, and is letting the responders do their job.  In other words, he is letting his crew do their thing and is ready to help when needed, and insists on being informed as that information becomes available.

StupidiNews! Celebrity Roundup

Vanilla Ice is the new Puffy.  He is seen hitting a five foot bong at a concert.  And no, he didn't sound any better.

Amy Winehouse was free of illegal drugs, which is something of a surprise.  Her parents have gone to great lengths to specify illegal, which begs the question: well, what did she have in her system?  It's not like anyone would be surprised at what they find.

A woman allegedly abused her child with hot sauce to get footage to get on the Dr. Phil show.  Dr. Phil will not comment, because she is still more popular and generally liked than he is.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

Headline of the day:

Quake sensors removed around Virginia nuke plant due to budget cuts

Cause what are the odds of an earthquake in Virginia, right?

A nuclear power plant that was shut down after an earthquake struck central Virginia Tuesday had seismographs removed in 1990s due to budget cuts.

U.S. nuclear officials said that the North Anna Power Station, which has two nuclear reactors, had lost offsite power and was using diesel generators to maintain cooling operations after an 5.9 earthquake hit the region.

The North Anna plant, which was near the epicenter of Tuesday's quake, is reportedly located on a fault line. 

Cause what are the odds of a nuclear plant on a fault line having an earthquake, right?

Clearly These Scientists Were Not Going To The Same College I Was At

Just in case you were wondering, scientists have discovered that bisexual men actually exist and are not just really drunk straight guys.

Plenty of people identify as bisexual, but scientists are still trying to figure out what that means in terms of physiological arousal and attraction.

A new study in the journal Biological Psychology claims to have at least shown that some men who say they're bisexual actually get aroused by both men and women. And that's a new result; a controversial 2005 study could not demonstrate bisexuality.

This study does find it, perhaps because of the way researchers recruited participants. The new research focuses on self-identified bisexual men who'd had a romantic relationship of at least three months with at least one person of each sex, and at least two sexual partners of each sex - much more specific criteria than previous research used.

"The fact that we found it, especially using this kind of methodology, confirms that men with bisexual arousal patterns and bisexual identity definitely exist," said Allen Rosenthal, lead study author and doctoral student at Northwestern University.

Or the scientists could have hung out on pretty much any college campus for a week and proven the theory a hell of a long time ago, but then again I went to a liberal arts school in one of those cities with street festivals where the folks have decided the street festivals were too touristy so they made super nerdy hipster hardcore arts festivals to drive the squares away and there are enough bed and breakfast places around to have gay and lesbian owned ones in their own rather broad category.

And this was back in the 90's after the Contract With America you could have proven bisexual men existed.  And I was a computer geek with the social skills of a plate of 3-day old stale french fries and still figured this out.

Sheesh.  Biological psychologists need to get out more.

Take This Downgrade And Shove It, I Don't Work Here Anymore

Standard and Poor's chairman Deven Sharma has apparently downgraded himself right out of a job.

Sharma, who will take another role in the company before leaving altogether at the end of the year, will be replaced by Citibank's current chief operating officer Douglas Peterson, corporate parent McGraw-Hill said in a statement late Monday.

The US Justice Department is currently investigating the company for its practices regarding mortgage securities that helped trigger the 2008 global financial crisis.

Sharma, 55, "will take on a special assignment working on the company's strategic portfolio review until the end of the year when he will leave the company to pursue other opportunities," the statement read, adding that Peterson, 53, will become the S&P president starting September 12.

Raise your hands if you think that Sharma's departure and the DoJ investigation have nothing to do with each other so I know who not to trust with any important judgment calls.

In all seriousness however, everything you need to know about that is S&P's incoming chairman is Citibank's current COO.  Which of course explains quite a bit.


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