Betsy Devine: Funny ha-ha and/or funny peculiar

Making trouble today for a better tomorrow…

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Entries Tagged as 'politics'

Scientific diaspora

February 18th, 2015 · Comments Off on Scientific diaspora

Exiles in 1732, from Wikimedia Commons

Exiles in 1732, from Wikimedia Commons

The US in the 1930s and 40s inherited the educational wealth of exiled German scientists. In the 1970s and 80s, we inherited the scientific wealth of a disintegrating Soviet Union.

Now the US is headed toward the losing side of this equation.

Once we valued education and research. Now US funding for both gets worse with every passing year. Young scientists are hit hardest. Research and teaching jobs in the US are going away.

Frank and I were recently in China, where by contrast the government eagerly invests in universities and academic research. It hasn’t happened yet, but I think countries like China (and Sweden, etc.) are on the brink of inheriting the educational wealth of the United States as young people who want to do science become economic exiles.

Tags: politics · Science

Cancer Treatment Centers of America, aka FreedomWorks funder

December 27th, 2012 · Comments Off on Cancer Treatment Centers of America, aka FreedomWorks funder

Last-minute mailer from NH Republicans by betsythedevine
Last-minute mailer from NH Republicans, a photo by betsythedevine on Flickr.

Following up on TPM story about scary gun-toting Tea Party meltdown of entiitled-rich-guy vs entiitled-rich-guy that was solved by an infusion of million$ to buy Dick Armey out as the power behind “grassroots” Tea Party group FreedomWorks. I was curious about where those millions of cash came from…

Dick Stephenson runs Cancer Treatment Centers of America. If you google for reviews of their centers you find similar comments from AZ and IL. Their target customer seems to be someone with terminal cancer and a boatload of medical insurance.

There is a business model suggested here, very intriguing and hypothetically very profitable. If your insurance company sold you a policy that has a limit of 1 million dollars on it, they really don’t expect you to spend those all before dying. Few patients do. But now, enter from offstage left, a savvy corporation dedicated to getting paid every single dollar your insurance said you could get. So sad for the insurance company’s expectation the insurance-buyer would be too naive and incompetent to collect the insurance they were promised … so profitable for somebody like Richard J. Stephenson, who now has millions and millions in profits to spend to push US election results his way …

Tags: Editorial · politics · Wide wonderful world

The Christmas tree, the pooping dinosaur, and the #slutvote

November 7th, 2012 · Comments Off on The Christmas tree, the pooping dinosaur, and the #slutvote

"On Vacation" sign accuses Obama of neglecting national security

Amateur anti-Obama sign says “On Vacation/Out to Lunch/Playing golf, basketball, pool, cards, etc/No time for National Security/I’ve got important business to do/The View, David Letterman, McDonalds …”

Wedge issues and election “red meat” filled the airwaves in 2012. The GOP paid millions of dollars to conmen to rile up their “base” to the point where they turned off many people who might otherwise have voted Republican.

You can’t stir up your base to a hot lather of racist fantasy and then expect them to shut up about it. Your supporters will support you in their own language, and unaligned people who hear them are going to shudder to hear our President denounced as lazy, or as a baby killer, or as the “Butcher of Benghazi.”

When I was in first grade, I loved to draw pictures on my dad’s old shirt cardboards from the dry cleaner. These had a shiny white side, ideal for crayon coloring, and a dull gray side, useful for sketching out ideas. The best drawing I ever made was a Crayola Christmas tree, on the shiny side, loaded with bright red balls and yellow stars. I proudly brought it to school to show off to my teacher and was mortified when she asked me, “Betsy, what have you drawn on the other side?”

What I had sketched on the gray side was a stegosaurus — no problem, except that, dissatisfied with what I had done, I had editorially crossed him out and then added poop to his tail end and throw-up from his mouth. It had not occurred to me that when I asked my teacher to look at my Christmas tree she would also catch sight of my very embarrassing dinosaur.

The GOP/Karl Rove/PAC wise men created a myriad of pooping dinosaurs from partisans that they whipped up to furious anger against Obama. In a world of social media and cellphone cameras, those pooping dinosaurs will never again be invisible. The GOP needs an infuriated angry base much less than it needs a lot more intelligent un-hating voters who just want to see our country on the right path. Because my pooping dinosaur was never as embarrassing as the #slutvote diatribe recently posted by the Christian Men’s Defense Network.

Changing their ultra-divisive campaign tactics would also be a lot better for our country.

Text clipped from #slutvote blogpost

Part of blogpost by Christian Men’s Defense Network blaming Romney’s loss on the “slut vote”

Tags: Editorial · politics

Reading the signs in NH: What signs?

November 6th, 2012 · Comments Off on Reading the signs in NH: What signs?

NH Home Depot, home of white male demographic? by betsythedevine
NH Home Depot, home of white male demographic?, a photo by betsythedevine on Flickr.

The Home Depot parking lot in Nashua, NH — I turned my car in here to search for bumper stickers, figuring here if anywhere I would find Romney’s wheelhouse supporters, the male and the white. To my surprise, I saw not even one Romney sticker. Not one. Check these cars yourself, and I looked at quite a few more cars.

I saw one Obama sticker in this lot, just one, and no more. And as I continued up Rte 93 to my old home town Manchester, as I drove around Manchester, as I drove north again to Concord, NH, what I saw everywhere was no bumper stickers.

From the many “yard signs” (mostly not in people’s yards but on stretches of roadside) you might get the idea that NH is enthusiastic about this election. But what I am seeing is that people are mostly sick to death of being pestered by partisans and pollsters, just want this thing OVER.

I have seen more yard signs for Republicans by far, but a Vietnam veteran I met in Manchester (who was holding a big sign for Carol Shea Porter) told me his Obama yard signs just keep getting stolen.

Tags: New Hampshire! · politics · Wide wonderful world

Oh man, how stupid could I be?

October 30th, 2012 · Comments Off on Oh man, how stupid could I be?

Wham! oh wait .. oops? by betsythedevine
Wham! oh wait .. oops?, a photo by betsythedevine on Flickr.

Would you believe that I actually imagined that longtime GOP shill David Brooks aka (on Twitter) as @nytdavidbrooks was sincere in his many NYT columns expressing doubt about Mitt Romney, praise for Barack Obama?

Now, it happens that I am married to a certified (by the MacArthur Foundation and other folks) genius, who, when I expressed to him my fond hopes, argued that David Brooks would never endorse Barack Obama. All we were seeing, according to Frank Wilczek, was a momentary feint, a pretended diversion, from a GOP shill who would head back to show his true colors before the election. And boy was Frank right!

Well, duh Betsy, now that October is here, GOP’s concern trolls are opening raincoats, and what are we seeing? Could it possibly be that they are taking the path laid out by Karl Rove, pretending to be sadder but wiser previous Obama people?

Yes, that’s what we’re seeing.

In August: “Romney was a precocious and gifted child. He uttered his first words (“I like to fire people”) at age 14 months, made his first gaffe at 15 months and purchased his first nursery school at 24 months. The school, highly leveraged, went under, but Romney made 24 million Jujubes on the deal.”

In September: “Personally, I think he’s a kind, decent man who says stupid things because he is pretending to be something he is not — some sort of cartoonish government-hater.”

In October:”if Romney wins, we’re more likely to get bipartisan reform… He has more influence over the most intransigent element in the Washington equation House Republicans. He’s more likely to get big stuff done.”

Tags: politics · Wide wonderful world

Obama is my guy, and I am proud of him

October 4th, 2012 · Comments Off on Obama is my guy, and I am proud of him

I am really annoyed by the news bytes today that Obama “lost” to Mitt Romney in their debate. How sad that our current President has things to keep him at work on his day job besides debate prep and likeability-enhancement coaching.

Obama is my guy. I am proud of his work, even though I have often disagreed with him and screamed and hollered about his long efforts to work with Republicans whose only game plan was to make him look bad. News flash, dear Barry, if you are reading this, they don’t want our country’s problems fixed by you! They did their focus-group-directed best for the past four years to make things get as bad as they could possibly make them.

But did you stay classy? You did. I would not have, I admit this, but you did. And in spite of your self restraint, which at times drove me to frenzy…

Did you get our country out of not one but two wars? You did. And how about “Obamacare”, as its foes call it, a new health care law that is already saving lives? You did it. How about Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagen, now on the Supreme Court? You did that too. How about Osama Bin Laden? You finally caught him and then got our young soldiers out of that unwinnable horrible war.

For these reasons and more, you are my guy, Barry Obama, and I hope to heck that you win. And all the PAC dollars being poured into long ads about how we should be disappointed in you and therefore (incredible non sequitur) cast votes for Eddie Haskell, er, I mean Mitt Romney … holy baloney, talk about total insanity. As in maybe, oh your wife’s scrambled eggs weren’t unmatchably yummy this morning, why don’t you divorce her and marry somebody who hates your kids and would like to spend your total salary on Swarovski crystals and Jimmy Choo platform shoes?

Obama is my guy, and I am proud that he is.

Tags: politics

Morning after a beautiful afternoon and a sad night

November 3rd, 2010 · Comments Off on Morning after a beautiful afternoon and a sad night

Political place-holders

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

Webster School, in Manchester, NH — I walked the half-mile here from home for 7 years of my childhood. It is, and was, a polling place for Ward 1. I came back yesterday to hold a sign for us Democrats.

Things looked pretty even when I got there. Ward 1 was solidly Republican when I was little — my family used to joke that the Devines were the only Democrats there, us on North River Road, my grandpa and Uncle Shane’s family up on Union St. Demographics have shifted it toward a more even balance, judging by the yard signs I saw nearby.

But I could tell, in the two hours I stood there, the tide was against us. When I got there, the signs were almost even, and good positions at the front had been claimed for our side by a bunch of union guys who were NH electrical workers by trade.

But as time went on, folks from our side drifted away and nobody replaced them. Their signs disappeared because the law says that the only signs allowed must be held up by people. There were a couple of campaign supporters for Carol Shea Porter who stayed the whole time, and there was Betsy Devine, who came just for two hours and then left because I had to drive people to the polls down in Cambridge.

The Republicans who were there when I came were still there when I left, and more had come out to stand with them. They were enthusiastically greeting voters they knew.

The Republicans I met there were pleasant local people, fed up with the bad economy and convinced that free enterprise solutions would make needed changes. They were not ignorant, aggressive, or hostile–people unlike them make all the headlines of course.

I hope the three Republicans now going to Washington from NH reflect the good will and good hopes of the people I met outside Webster School in my old home town.

Tags: New Hampshire! · politics · Wide wonderful world

Just exactly what I wanted to happen

October 12th, 2010 · Comments Off on Just exactly what I wanted to happen

People voting in Cambridge, MA, November 7, 2006

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

This is what I wanted to have happen to my photos when I put a Creative Commons license on them — a newspaper published this one and put my name on it, so I got to have the fun of seeing it again.

And if you haven’t registered to vote yet, get out and do so now!

Tags: Cambridge · politics · Wide wonderful world

The blind leading the Democrats

February 7th, 2010 · Comments Off on The blind leading the Democrats

Snow-covered lion on Columbia campus

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

“Not one dime! Not until Democrats pass healthcare.”

That is what DNC fundraisers who call our house are going to hear from now on.

The hacks and jackasses in Washington who took over the Democratic National Committee from Howard Dean have taken us right back to their old election-losing “centrist” techniques. Under Dean’s leadership, we witnessed the landslide election of Barack Obama and Democratic majorities in both the House and the Senate. All that advantage has been nearly frittered away.

Obama has spent the past year trying to engage Republicans in bipartisan governance. It’s been like a year of watching Charlie Brown trying to kick a football with Lucy’s “assistance.”

And when Massachusetts voters, one year after Obama’s landslide victory, re-fill Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat with a Republican? Surely something is very, very wrong. Let me just quote Howard Dean on what that something is:

If you want to win, you actually can’t sort of move to the middle and become a Republican. You’ve got to stand up and stand for the things that you got elected on and that the Democratic Party believes in and we haven’t seen that in the healthcare bill and I think that’s part of the problem.

The smartest thing Obama could do now, in my unhumble opinion, would be to beg Howard Dean to come back and run the DNC.

Update: Somebody on Daily Kos had a great suggestion about this issue: Make your own list of good progressive candidates. When you get particularly annoyed about something political, make that the occasion to send a donation to the next person on your own list.

Tags: Editorial · politics · Wide wonderful world

The new and improved Big-Mac-Fat-Duck index

April 5th, 2009 · Comments Off on The new and improved Big-Mac-Fat-Duck index


Originally uploaded by uuuuuli

Four Big Macs per hour.

That’s what the average Dutch worker earns — although the Dutch 17 year-old working at McDonalds earns a mere 1.05 Big Macs per hour.

Yes, the Big Mac Index (and its more elite rival, the Tall Latte Index) are semi-serious efforts to match wages to cost of living in different countries.

Why not expand this to comparing cost of living across the lines of social class. Conservatives are outraged that US auto workers can earn 10 Big Macs per hour, but they seem quite content that GM executives get $3M to $14M per year.

This makes perfect sense, however, because GM executives do not eat Big Macs. The relevant point of comparison should be something like dinner for one at Oxford’s Fat Duck restaurant, which costs $170.

The Big-Mac-Fat-Duck Index requires, then, paying the GM executive at least $1,700 per hour. If a GM executive puts in 50 weeks per year at 40 hours per week, that is 2,000 highly valuable executive hours they should expect to get fair pay for, which works out to at least $3.4M per year.

And this does not even count beverage, tip, or air fare from Detroit to the UK!

The executives who get even more than that are no doubt eating meals somewhere even more expensive.

Tags: Editorial · politics · Wide wonderful world