Hardware problem?

I’m currently using a Netgear WNR2000 wireless router. It’s several years old and runs the 802.11n standard. I’m discovering that its signal is fading when I get to the kitchen to try to use the tablet, and using Mom’s Mac out in the family room is becoming hopeless.

Has anyone bought an 802.11ac wireless router in the last year or so? Who recommends what? The budget is $100, tops.

“They’re dogs, not humans!”

In April, the Southern Poverty Law Center designated ALIPAC as a hate group.

I can see why.

“Instead of using our tax money to buy illegals 42,000 pairs of new underwear, we would like to send the illegals and DC politicians a message by mailing them our used underwear, and some of our pairs are in really bad shape due to the bad economy and all of the jobs illegal immigrants are taking from Americans.”

The Department of Homeland Security recently requested thousands of pairs of men’s underwear and other supplies to help accommodate the influx of undocumented immigrants in U.S. detention facilities. That’s what prompted this. Nice people, huh?

R.I.P., Senator Howard Baker

Three-term Republican Senator from Tennessee Howard Baker died Thursday in his home state. He was 88.

“What did the president know and when did he know it?” That phrase, uttered by Republican Senator Howard Baker during the Senate Watergate Committee hearings on June 29, 1973, will forever be associated with Baker, who died Thursday at 88 in Tennessee.

It’s one of the classic passages of the Watergate hearings. But it’s about the least of Howard Baker’s accomplishments. He was a moderate Republican at a time when there were quite a few of them around, but he was a draft horse. While in the Senate he worked hard and with little thought of his own aggrandizement. He was instrumental in getting the Panama Canal Treaty through the Senate despite his party’s loud and noisy opposition. He worked on environmental issues throughout his career, beginning with the Clean Air Act.

He was tapped by President Ronald Reagan to become Reagan’s Chief of Staff, and he did that well.

Baker skillfully navigated through difficult times, including the Iran–Contra affair. The team he brought around him in the White House and administration, including Ken Duberstein as his deputy chief of staff (who succeeded Baker as chief of staff for the final stage of Reagan’s second term) kept the presidency from foundering and enabled Reagan to finish more strongly than many had predicted.

It occurs to me that it might have been bad for the country in the short run but very helpful overall had Baker failed to keep Reagan’s presidency from “foundering.” Had it done so perhaps the Republican party would have done other than worship at the feet of the man and try to continue his policies for the past 25 years. Our politics and the country’s governance might have been vastly improved.

Nonetheless, Howard Baker was a good man. My respects and condolences to his family.

Bigotry or beaureaucracy?

Those kids may be yours biologically, gentlemen, but who cares? You’re gay, and Texas doesn’t approve of gay marriages, so you can’t adopt them.

Charming. More than that, unnerving. At the moment the only name on the twins’ birth certificates is the surrogate mother’s.

“Without [co-adoption], if something happened to either me or Joe we don’t have any legal recourse to keep the other’s biological child,” Hanna said. “The state could come in and separate these two brothers . . . We want to reiterate how important it is for a state to recognize each family, whether it’s same-sex or opposite-sex, and really to ensure everyone has equal protection from the state.”

And Texas always proclaims itself as having the best of everything. Including closed-mindedness and prejudice among its elected officials, I guess.

via Off the Kuff

A haunting Vietnam War memorial

Out in Colorado along the Continental Divide rises an obelisk surrounded by a low wall of flat stones. The obelisk consists of seven carved marble blocks engraved with the names of the countries from which soldiers fought and died in Vietnam, from the French, the Gurkhas and the Indians in World War Two through Dien Bien Phu in 1954 through the Laotians, the Hmong, the Montagnards, the Cambodians, the Americans and the Vietnamese until the end of America’s Vietnam War in 1974.

Nobody is saying who built it. It’s not marked on any official map. It’s just there, on Sargent’s Mesa in Colorado on the Continental Divide. Here’s a slideshow. Here’s a video.

This is amazing.

Hellhounds on his trail

I have a new hero. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen somehow maintained his equanimity in the face of screeching banshees masquerading as Republican United States Congressmen in an investigative hearing about missing emails. I know damned well I’d have lost my temper multiple times while having my sentences cut off, my honesty impugned and my work sneered at by these small-minded clowns. It’s clear they have no interest in finding out what happened. They are already convinced that the IRS deliberately targeted conservative applicants for tax-exempt status trying to hamstring them, and nothing he says will change their minds.

Sports news

Hard as it may be to believe, the biggest sports news of the day here in Hawai’i was unquestionably Michelle Wie and her first LPGA major tournament win. She’s won several other tournaments, but the US Ladies Open is one of the five majors on the ladies’ tour, and it’s a huge win for her.

ESPN Photo

Associated Press Photo

I guess there was a soccer match today, too. The US tied, right?

Okay, seriously. Giving up a tying goal in the last minute of extra time? Guys, you coulda shoulda done better!

Congressional lobotomy

No, that’s not my word. That’s the word Paul Glastris and Haley Sweetland Edwards use to title the lead article in the summer issue of Washington Monthly.

What they mean is that the moment the Republicans took over the House in 1994 (Gingrich and his crowd), they took a meat ax to Congress’s permanent workforce. They

cut the “professional staff” (the lawyers, economists, and investigators who work for committees rather than individual members) by a third. They reduced the “legislative support staff” (the auditors, analysts, and subject-matter experts at the Government Accountability Office [GAO], the Congressional Research Service [CRS], and so on) by a third, too, and killed off the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) entirely. And they fundamentally dismantled the old committee structure, centralizing power in the House speaker’s office and discouraging members and their staff from performing their own policy research.


Today, the GAO and the CRS, which serve both House and Senate, are each operating at about 80 percent of their 1979 capacity. While Senate committee staffs have rebounded somewhat under Democratic control, every single House standing committee had fewer staffers in 2009 than in 1994. Since 2011, with a Tea Party-radicalized GOP back in control of the House, Congress has cut its budget by a whopping 20 percent, a far higher ratio than any other federal agency, leading, predictably, to staff layoffs, hiring and salary freezes, and drooping morale.

As you might imagine, this has had many deleterious effects. One is the outsourcing of policy development to lobbyists and think tanks. Since those outfits are by their nature close to corporations and business, policies and legislation have been favorable to those entities. Second is Congress’s inability to do oversight of the government. Its resources are so limited that it can’t seem to do more than one investigation at a time, which means other areas needing oversight (NSA surveillance?) fall by the wayside.

I daresay most of us haven’t noticed all these cuts. They need to be corrected, but as long as the Republican party’s goal is to reduce the size of government that probably isn’t going to happen.

It’s a fascinating article, well worth the read.

Iowa, can’t you vote smarter?

The loony Representative Steve King, R-Iowa, took to Twitter to accuse President Obama of more mischief:

Honestly, Iowa Republicans, are you proud of this guy or embarrassed by him?

Governors on the bench?

The Republicans are casting about for a candidate for President in 2016, and Chris Christie of New Jersey and Scott Walker of Wisconsin have been prominently mentioned for a while.

But both of them have gathering scandal clouds overhead. In Walker’s case it’s possible collusion with outside campaign groups to coordinate political activity, one of the few campaign laws the Supreme Court hasn’t yet determined is unconstitutional. In Christie’s case it’s the famous closing of the George Washington Bridge and the diversion of Port Authority funds to fund New Jersey projects.

The bench is looking a little weak.