Boing Boing 

Visualizing GOP presidential candidate approval ratings as 3D printed buttplugs

Matthew Epler's Grand Old Party project takes the approval-rating curves of GOP presidential hopefuls and turns them into 3D solids, then turns those into buttplugs.

Grand Old Party demonstrates that as a people united, our opinion has real volume. When we approve of a candidate, they swell with power. When we deem them unworthy, they are diminished and left hanging in the wind. We guard the gate! It opens and closes at our will. How wide is up to us.

In an age of information, we rely on hard facts. Each of the shapes you see here come directly from poll data collected by Gallup. This data reflects approval ratings for each GOP candidate among registered Republican voters from December 10, 2011 to April 1, 2012. Each shape’s girth is a reflection of popularity while their height is a reflection of time.

The contours of these delightful shapes conjure up the waves of amber grain and those lapping at the rim of our great nation spanning from sea to shining sea. As the battle for the Presidency rails on, we must remember that Americans may may have achieved freedom through war, but they are also a people of love. After all, in the end all we have is each other.

3D Printing and wonders of the Internet

Update: Derp. It's a dupe.

How Mitt Romney "created jobs"

Gazillionaire financier Mitt Romney is the latest "CEO President" offered up by the GOP, on a platform of "job creation." When Romney oversaw Bain capital, he supervised the takeover of American Pad and Paper. When the deal was complete, the 258 employees were marched out of the Marion, Indiana factory, told they were fired, and told they could re-apply for their jobs at lower salaries and with fewer benefits. They were warned that some of them would not be re-hired. A long piece in the Christian Science Monitor, Ron Scherer and Leigh Montgomery consider the record of his imperial corporateness:

“We were told they bought the assets, not the union or the [labor] contract,” recalls Randy Johnson, who at the time worked as a machine operator and was a union shop steward. The workers – some the third generation in their families to have jobs there – eventually went on strike, and Bain closed the factory 5-1/2 months after acquiring it...

In an analysis of Bain Capital under Romney, the Journal estimated that Bain made $2.5 billion in profits on $1.1 billion invested in 77 separate deals. Of those 77 transactions, 22 percent ended with the firms in bankruptcy after the eighth year of the Bain investment. Bain disputes the Journal’s account as inaccurate.

Is Mitt Romney really a job creator? What his Bain Capital record shows. (via Reddit)

When the infographic craze finally goes too far

"Grand Old Party is data visualization project. It is also a set of butt plugs." (Thanks, Ben Goldacre. I think.)

Shep Smith makes a political funny

Say what you will about Shep Smith's politics and personality, he pretty much nailed the cognitive dissonance of Mitt Romney's reaction to Gingrich dropping out of the GOP race.

Shep Smith reacts to Mitt Romney reacting to Newt Gingrich quitting (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Doc blasts mandatory transvaginal ultrasound laws

An anonymous MD has a guest-post on John Scalzi's blog describing her/his medical outrage at being asked to perform medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasounds on women seeking abortion, in accordance with laws proposed and passed by several Republican-dominated state legislatures. As the doctor writes, "If I insert ANY object into ANY orifice without informed consent, it is rape. And coercion of any kind negates consent, informed or otherwise." The article is a strong tonic and much-welcome -- the ethics of medical professionals should not (and must not) become subservient to cheap political stunting, and especially not when political stunt requires doctors' complicity in state-ordered sexual assaults.

1) Just don’t comply. No matter how much our autonomy as physicians has been eroded, we still have control of what our hands do and do not do with a transvaginal ultrasound wand. If this legislation is completely ignored by the people who are supposed to implement it, it will soon be worth less than the paper it is written on.

2) Reinforce patient autonomy. It does not matter what a politician says. A woman is in charge of determining what does and what does not go into her body. If she WANTS a transvaginal ultrasound, fine. If it’s medically indicated, fine… have that discussion with her. We have informed consent for a reason. If she has to be forced to get a transvaginal ultrasound through coercion or overly impassioned argument or implied threats of withdrawal of care, that is NOT FINE.

Our position is to recommend medically-indicated tests and treatments that have a favorable benefit-to-harm ratio… and it is up to the patient to decide what she will and will not allow. Period. Politicians do not have any role in this process. NO ONE has a role in this process but the patient and her physician. If anyone tries to get in the way of that, it is our duty to run interference.

Guest Post: A Doctor on Transvaginal Ultrasounds

Mitt Romney raps Eminem

Hugh Atkin's "Will The Real Mitt Romney Please Stand Up" is a virtuoso feat of mashuperry, turning the Republican candidate into a politicized Eminem impersonator.

Will The Real Mitt Romney Please Stand Up (feat. Eminem) (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Checking the math in RI GOP Senate candidate Barry Hinckley's "economics for 5-year-olds" campaign spot

Citizen journalist John McDaid looks at RI Republican Senate candidate Barry Hinckley's campaign spot in which Hinckley's five-year-old son gives a lecture on economics and gas prices. The spot resulted in some pretty weird stuff (McDaid describes the "bizarre followup interview he and his son gave with Fox's Neil Cavuto, where Hinckley appeared to be lip-synching his son's responses like Fats in Magic"), but really takes issue with the frankly misleading gas-price chart shown in the ad.

I can understand that a five-year-old doesn't know enough to label both the axes, or make sure his line crosses the origin. And, granted, I'm a bit of a chart geek (after all, I slammed the chair of the Portsmouth School Committee for showing a chart with a distorted Y axis). But that's just not what the shape of the line looks like, either in outline or detail. Based on numbers from the US Energy Information Administration, it should look like this chart over here.

Economics for five-year-olds; data visualization for adults

Romney finance co-chair VanderSloot and his distasteful practice of threatening journalists

The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Trevor Timm comments on billionaire Frank VanderSloot's "systematic campaign to silence journalists and bloggers from publishing stories about his political views and business practices." VanderSloot, the CEO of Melaleuca, Inc. (Wikipedia calls it "a multi-level marketing dietary supplement and cosmetics company", Forbes called it "a pyramid-selling organization," and the State of Michigan called it "an illegal pyramid") is also finance co-chair the Romney campaign. He has long used copyright threats and libel threats to intimidate journalists in his home state of Idaho, and now that his work takes place on a national stage, he has expanded his scope accordingly.

An excellent, faintly terrifying Salon article by Glenn Greenwald sets out the case in detail, and Timm adds some wider context and notes that the Streisand Effect has kicked in, increasing awareness of VanderSloot's views and practices.

At the beginning of February, a blogger for the The Idaho Agenda was forced to take down a post after receiving a defamation suit threat from Melaleuca’s in house counsel. The author indicated that he took it down because he feared the expensive litigation battle but insisted that “the facts included in the post are a matter of public record found elsewhere, including the internet, periodicals and newspapers.”

Back in 2007, Melaleuca pressured the politics blog 43rdStateBlues to take down a critical post written by a pseudonymous blogger “TomPaine.” Another blogger on 43rdStateBlues, “d2”, posted the lawyer’s letter explaining to readers why the original was taken down. Incredibly, Melaleuca’s lawyers then obtained a retroactive copyright certificate on the threat letter and demanded the hosting provider take down the post as well. Even after they complied with the letter, Melaleuca sued TomPaine for copyright infringement then subpoenaed TomPaine’s and d2’s identity.

...Now, VanderSloot is at it again. He and his company's lawyers has targeted a local Idaho independent journalist Jody May-Chang over posts that are four years old. Melaleuca’s lawyers have challenged a series of articles written by May-Chang, most notably this one in which she describes VanderSloot’s funding of the billboard campaign and opines that he is “anti-gay.” Melaleuca first sent a letter to May-Chang in 2007, asking not only to correct the post but to take down the stock photograph of VanderSloot that was on his personal website (a common practice among journalists). The photo was taken down but the posts stayed up at a new URL. After re-discovering the post last month, they sent another letter to May-Chang repeated their demands from 2007, but May-Chang has held her ground and kept the post up despite the threat of costly litigation.

Allow me to take this opportunity to remind Mr VanderSloot and his counsel of Boing Boing's long history of using anti-SLAPP statutes and withering scorn in the face of groundless censorship and intimidation attempts, and the Streisand Effect accruing thereto.

Billionaire’s Bogus Legal Tactics Against Bloggers Threaten Free Speech

Newt 2012 sticker: "America is my wife now"

Inspired by a Warren Ellis tweet, Robert made this fitting Newt bumper-sticker.

Newt 2012 (via Super Punch)

Rick Santorum opposes contraception

Lest you think that Rick Santorum is a mere garden-variety homophobe who offers no threat to the sexual freedom of hetero couples, consider this quote: "Many of the Christian faith have said, well, that's okay, contraception is okay. It's not okay. It's a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be." Oh, and this gem: "They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do, government should keep our taxes down and regulations low, that we shouldn't get involved in the bedroom or in cultural issues. That is not how traditional conservatives view the world." (via Beth Pratt)

Congressional staffers behind SOPA get shiny new jobs as entertainment industry lobbyists

Allison Halataei (former deputy chief of staff for House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas)) and Lauren Pastarnack (former senior aide on the Senate Judiciary Committee) have cool new jobs. Having written the Internet-destroying Stop Online Piracy Act for their bosses while drawing a salary at public expense, they've now accepted massive raises to go work for the entertainment companies who stand to benefit from the law they wrote. Their new job? Helping to run the campaign to push their law through.

Halataei recently joined the National Music Publishers’ Association, and Pastarnack is jumping to the Motion Pictures Association of America, two lobbying groups pressing Congress to pass the proposals...

“This is one of those mega-fights where there is a lot of money at stake and whenever it gets to that, it’s kind of ‘Katy bar the door’ as far as what they’ll pay for talent,” said McCormick Group headhunter Ivan Adler. “This fits into the perfect scenario of why senior-level people from well-placed committees get hired, and it’s because they really know the three p’s: people, policy and process. And that makes them very valuable in the Washington marketplace.”

The former aides will face one-year lobbying bans, which means they cannot lobby the respective committees where they previously worked. But those bans don’t render the former aides useless to their new employers.

“They can provide invaluable insight to people on the outside — even in the consultation mode,” one tech industry lobbyist said, noting that Halataei had been Smith’s secondhand person and knows how the Texas Republican thinks and what would be an effective lobbying strategy.

Additionally, the Senate and House panels work closely together, and both Halataei and Pastarnack have ties to staffers in the chambers they didn’t serve in and aren’t banned from lobbying.

GOP aides head to K St. for tech war (via /.)

Little boy talks to Michele Bachmann about his gay mom

Eight-year-old Elijah and his mom attended a Michele Bachmann book signing. As Bachmann greeted the little boy, he told her, "My mommy's gay but she doesn't need fixing." The expression on Ms Bachmann's face at that juncture is the definition of priceless.

Activist Elijah With Michele Bachmann (via Beth Pratt)

Prominent Republican leaders in clown makeup

WMxdesign's GOP Clown College Flickr set is a collection of prominent Republicans and Republican commentators in clown makeup.

GOP Clown College (via Kottke)

GOPokemon: an odd poetic quotation from Herman Cain

GOP candidate Herman Cain at last night's debate: ""A poet once said, 'life can be a challenge, life can seem impossible, but it's never easy when there's so much on the line.'" That poet? The lyricist for the themesong to Pokémon: The Movie 2000, recorded by Ms Donna Summer. Who knew retrogamer chic was a Republican value?

The Mystery of Herman Cain and the Donna Summer Lyrics (via Reddit)

Neil Gaiman responds to Minnesota Republican House Leader who called him a "pencil-necked geek" and a "thief"

Neil Gaiman has responded to the remarks of Minnesota GOP House Leader Matt Dean, who called him a "pencil-necked geek" and a "thief." As you'd expect from Neil, the remarks are classy, funny, and bang on. Meanwhile, Gaiman's tweeting a link to Dean's website appears to have crashed it, as his 1.5 million followers went to see who the idiot was who was randomly calling novelists thieves.
1) It's funny. Sad that this is the kind of thing that elected officials say in public, but still funny. It's the kind of thing that you expect to hear at school from fourteen-year old bullies, before they tell you that they'll be seeing you by the lockers with their friends, not what you expect to see from an adult. 2) It's kind of nice to make someone's Hate List. It reminds me of Nixon's Enemies List. If a man is known by his enemies, I think my stock just went up a little. 3) I like "pencil-necked weasel". It has "pencil" in it. Pencils are good things. You can draw or write things with pencils. I think it's what you call someone when you're worried that using a long word like "intellectual" may have too many syllables. It's not something that people who have serious, important things to say call other people...

And also I think that if you're a Republican in Minnesota, and you read my books or my blog, you could do worse than tell Matt Dean what you think of this kind of bullying schoolyard nonsense from someone who's meant to be representing you. Honestly, it makes you all look bad. Here's a page with his details. It has an email address, his office address, and it even has a photograph*.

* (I would not be human if I didn't admit that I looked at his neck in the photograph, to see if it was as mighty and bull-like as I felt he had implied, and that I might have been just a tiny bit disappointed.)

Neil Gaiman's Journal: The Opinions of a Pencil-necked Weasel-thief...

Desperate WI Republican congressman struggling to get by on $174K turns to copyright trolling

The Republican Party of Polk County, WI is pulling out all stops to suppress a video of Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) bemoaning the difficulty of scraping by on his measly $174,000 (plus benefits!) government salary, and how hard it is driving around in his old car and paying off his student loans with only $174,000 (plus benefits) paid to him every year.

The Republican Party office -- which posted the video initially -- has used copyright claims to demand that video hosting services take it down. Talking Points Memo has excerpted the relevant scene and reposted it, and say that they will not remove it.

I can guarantee you, or most of you, I guarantee that I have more debt than all of you. With 6 kids, I still pay off my student loans. I still pay my mortgage. I drive a used minivan. If you think I'm living high on the hog, I've got one paycheck. So I struggle to meet my bills right now. Would it be easier for me if I get more paychecks? Maybe, but at this point I'm not living high on the hog.
As TPM points out, Duffy is poorer than the average Republican politico, but that's because the baseline for comparison is somewhere between "rich as hell" and "richer than God." And $174K a year is certainly a hell of a lot more than those "greedy union thugs" in Wisconsin have been asking for.

GOPers Demand Sean Duffy Salary Tape Be Pulled From The Internet (VIDEO)

Wisconsin GOP uses sunshine laws to harass prof who speculated about links with pressure group

William Cronon is a historian at the University of Wisconsin -- Madison. His work has recently led him into an inquiry into the shift in Republican policy in his state, and he published some preliminary notes linking that change to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC, a conservative pressure group that drafts "model bills" that it promulgates through its members, including many local, state and national legislators; they claim responsibility for Arizona's controversial immigration legislation).

Cronon's speculation about ALEC's link to Wisconsin politics has hit a nerve: for the first time in his career, the chaired, tenured professor has found himself to be the subject of a freedom of information act request from the Republican Party of Wisconsin, seeking the disclosure of any emails relating to Republicans in general, ALEC, various Republican politicians, labor, unions, etc.

Cronon is understandably alarmed: it appears that the Republican party is using sunshine laws to harass scholars who investigate its workings; Cronon points out that the inquiry that the GOP has requested will result in the unlawful disclosure of academic reports on students, as well as confidential (but not improper) discussions with other scholars. He thinks that the GOP is looking for a pretense in his email -- some personal or political communique that violates state rules against using his official email for personal work -- with which to discredit him.

Cronon claims that there is no such skeleton in his closet -- but he still wants to fight the disclosure, on the grounds that it is an improper use of sunshine laws for partisan intimidation.

In the meantime, there's a Streisand Effect aborning: if the Wisconsin Republican Party goes berserk any time someone speculates about a link between it and ALEC, well, perhaps more of us should be looking more closely at whether such a connection exists.

Abusing Open Records to Attack Academic Freedom (Thanks, SalJake, via Submitterator)

Scott Walker tricked into spilling his guts to fake Koch brother

The editor of The Buffalo Beast, Ian Murphy, called Wisconsin governor Scott Walker pretending to be billionaire financier David Koch, a major Tea Party financier. Murphy talked for 20 minutes with Walker, during which time Walker revealed that he was considering sending provocateurs to disrupt the protestors fighting his anti-union law. He also reveals a dirty-trick plan to trick Democrats into a procedural trap that would allow his legislation to pass.

They can recess it... the reason for that, we're verifying it this afternoon, legally, we believe, once they've gone into session, they don't physically have to be there. If they're actually in session for that day, and they take a recess, the 19 Senate Republicans could then go into action and they'd have quorum because it's turned out that way. So we're double checking that.If you heard I was going to talk to them that's the only reason why. We'd only do it if they came back to the capitol with all 14 of them. My sense is, hell. I'll talk. If they want to yell at me for an hour, I'm used to that. I can deal with that. But I'm not negotiating.

Fake "Koch brother" calls up Wisconsin governor

GOP senate candidate uses copyright in attempt to censor reprinting her previous campaign positions

Sharron Angle is the GOP candidate for the United States Senate seat in Nevada. During her primary campaign, she used a website chock full of extremist positions aimed at wooing the Republican party's extreme right (killing Social Security, eliminating the Departments of Education and Energy and shipping nuclear waste to Nevada, preparing for a "coming dictatorship"). After she took the nomination, her campaign took down the old site and put up a much more moderate one aimed at the regular electorate.

So her opponent, Dem Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, reposted the old site, under the title, "The Real Sharron Angle."

In response Angle's campaign sent a copyright takedown notice to the Reid campaign, alleging that reprinting her campaign materials was a copyright infringement and demanding that they cease reprinting her old materials as part of their effort to demonstrate the agenda espoused by Angle when she was in the less-public realm of the GOP nomination race.

The Reid campaign responded by posting highlights from the old site to a new URL,

Angle Sends Cease-And-Desist To Reid -- For Reposting Her Own Website