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The Morning Grumpy – 1/25/13

25 Jan

All the news, views, and filtered excellence fit to consume during your morning grumpy.


1. There still seems to be a bit of confusion amongst the populace about the Federal Debt Limit. What is it? Why has raising it been a constant problem since Obama was elected? Who is at fault? Even though congress kicked the problem down the road another 3-6 months, it’s still a useful exercise to explain the subject to dummies.  And by dummies, I mean that racist uncle of yours who keeps sending you chain e-mails and goes to gun rallies with Rus Thompson and Dave DiPietro. CGPGrey is here to explain it for them. Real nice and simple.

This guy should receive an appointment to be “Federal Explainer-In-Chief”.

2. An informative, relevant, educative, and interesting look at the Manti Te’o story.

None of the news stories are commenting on the fact that Manti Te’o is Samoan. The reporters are wondering whether he was truly hoaxed, or whether he was complicit. Why didn’t he ever insist on visiting his girlfriend in person? They had been in touch for four years after all – chatting by Facebook message, texting, calling each other on the phone. How could he not be a bit suspicious? But in wondering all these questions, they never ask what his cultural background might be – what ideas about truth and verification did he learn growing up in a Samoan migrant community, especially one that was so religious (in his case, Mormon)?

So as an ethnographer of Samoan migrants, I want to say that I heard a number of stories that sound almost exactly like Manti Te’o’s story — naïve Christian golden boys who had been fooled by other Samoans pretending to be dewy-eyed innocents. Leukemia was even a theme, I guess Samoan pranksters keep turning to the same diseases over and over again. But I did this fieldwork before Facebook or cell phones, and even before email became all that widespread outside of college circles. All the stories I heard involved husky voices on telephones, and maybe a letter or two.

Like everyone else, I had fun with the Te’o story, but this article wraps some context around all the bizarre details.

3. More than 200,000 Florida voters were disenfranchised in the 2012 election due to long lines at polling places.

Analyzing data compiled by the Orlando Sentinel, Ohio State University professor Theodore Allen estimated last week that at least 201,000 voters likely gave up in frustration on Nov. 6, based on research Allen has been doing on voter behavior.

His preliminary conclusion was based on the Sentinel’s analysis of voter patterns and precinct-closing times in Florida’s 25 largest counties, home to 86 percent of the state’s 11.9 million registered voters.

“My gut is telling me that the real number [of voters] deterred is likely higher,” Allen said. “You make people wait longer, they are less likely to vote.”

Around the state, nearly 2 million registered voters live in precincts that stayed open at least 90 minutes past the scheduled 7 p.m. closing time, according to Sentinel analysis of voting data obtained from county elections supervisors. Of those, 561,000 voters live in precincts that stayed open three extra hours or longer.

Of course, this outcome was by design. If you can’t win the vote, fuck with the vote.

4. Neil DeGrasse Tyson went to Congress and encouraged them to think bigger.

Tyson framed his talk around three things that motivate societies to tackle never-been-done-before efforts like the Pyramids, the Great Wall of China, Columbus’ voyages, and the Apollo program. One of these three factors—praising royalty or a deity—doesn’t apply in the US. A second—countering an existential threat, which Tyson called “the ‘I don’t want to die’ driver”—has faded since the end of the Cold War.

That leaves the promise of economic return: in Tyson’s words, “I don’t want to die poor!”

“If you have a healthy science program in this country, you guarantee your economic future,” he declared in one of the moments that could have been snipped from a campaign speech.


5. Witness two approaches to growing a political base and securing more reliable/favorable outcomes in Congressional and national elections.

The Democrats, sensing some ideological shifts in Texas politics and a surging number of Latino voters, launch a plan to grow the party in the state and turn it blue.

“With its diversity and size, Texas should always be a battleground state where local elections are vigorously contested and anyone who wants to be our commander in chief has to compete and show they reflect Texas values. Yet for far too long, the state’s political leaders, both in Austin and in Washington, D.C., have failed to stand for Texans,” said Bird, who recently founded a consulting firm, 270 Strategies. “Over the next several years, Battleground Texas will focus on expanding the electorate by registering more voters — and as importantly, by mobilizing Texans who are already registered voters but who have not been engaged in the democratic process.”

A legitimate and traditional effort to change electoral outcomes, right? Certainly, the Republicans will do something similar. And by “something similar”, I mean cheating.

The Republican election rigging plan targets blue states that President Obama won in 2008 and 2012, and changes the way they allocate electoral votes to give many of these votes away for free to the Republican candidate for president. Under the Republican Plan, most electoral votes will be allocated to the winner of individual Congressional districts, rather than to the winner of the state as a whole. Because the Republican Plan would be implemented in states that are heavily gerrymandered to favor Republicans, the resulting maps would all but guarantee that the Republican would win a majority of each state’s electoral votes, even if the Democratic candidate wins the state as a whole.

Rachel Maddow helps break it all down.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

 If you can’t win an election, rig the election.

Fact Of The Day: We don’t know for sure why ice is slippery.

Quote Of The Day: “I’m sick of following my dreams. I’m just going to ask where they’re going and hook up with them later.” – Mitch Hedberg

Video Of The Day: McNuggets Wisdom

Song Of The Day: “Delivery” – Babyshambles

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