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“Republicans like Rick Perry are skeptical of everything the government does—except when it executes people”

Boy isn't that the truth. Dahlia Lithwick looks at the death penalty and the Republicans and it isn't pretty.

I have to say that this issue really brings out the beast in the right wingnut. When I tweeted about Perry's death toll during the debate (after he fatuously declared "I always err on the side of life")I was inundated with vicious responses that were barely beyond gibberish. Something about being against executing people when you could simply lock them up for life really strikes a nerve. They want them dead and they don't want to hear about anyone possibly being innocent. In fact, the mere idea of it makes them livid.

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If Bloomberg can say it… by David Atkins

If Bloomberg can say it...
by David Atkins ("thereisnospoon")

New York City mayor and centrist third party favorite Michael Bloomberg today:

Mayor Bloomberg today warned there will be widespread rioting on the streets if more jobs are not created.

As it emerged the number of people applying for unemployment benefits in the U.S. jumped last week to the highest level in three months, the Mayor spoke out, insisting that if nothing is done Americans will start revolting.

'That's what happened in Cairo. That's what happened in Madrid. You don't want those kinds of riots here.'

Mayor Bloomberg added: 'The damage to a generation that can't find jobs will go on for many, many years.

'At least he [Obama] has got some ideas on the table, whether you like those or not,' he said.

His comments were in reference to the recent uprising in Egypt, which toppled president Hosni Mubarak, and protests in Spain by people outraged their government was spending millions on a papal visit rather than on dealing with unemployment.


Bloomberg and I would doubtless disagree and probably quite strongly on many of the policies necessary to change the unemployment equation. Bloomberg thinks we need to do something about "the spending side" of the equation, which sounds a lot like more Grand Bargain talk to toss Medicare and Social Security into the jaws of Wall St. And he no doubt thinks that job-killing "free trade" agreements are lovely.

But at least somebody with "independent" media credibility is putting the jobs crisis in the stark emotional terms it deserves while supporting Obama's jobs program.

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Will to win

Huh.

A snapshot of the Republican Party, four months before the first primary ballots are cast, shows that voters are evenly divided between preferring a presidential nominee who can defeat Mr. Obama or one who aligns with them on most issues. A majority of voters who support the Tea Party movement place a higher priority on winning back the White House.

And here I thought the Tea Party people were non-partisan idealists who only cared about the issues. It turns out they just want to beat the Democrat. Go figure.

The NY Times poll is pretty interesting. People are very, very depressed about the economy, for obvious reasons. But I have to say that considering just how awful it is, Obama's not doing that badly. Still, Democrats are getting frustrated. They are, after all, the ones who believe that government is supposed to step in and help fix these sorts of problems and they aren't seeing any action. Not that they necessarily blame Obama alone for that, but they are nervous.

The Republicans are all over the place, but I'm quite sure they'll coalesce quite nicely now that it appears that the president may be vulnerable. They just want to win. The big question mark is the vaunted independents who aren't leaning one way or the other. But the truth is that most of them will vote for the party they usually vote for, regardless of what they call themselves. The very small slice of the electorate that are true swing voters are fairly likely to swing to the GOP, in my opinion, just because they are unhappy and figure they might as well give someone else a chance. Clearly they aren't ideological and don't care much about the discrete issues that do separate the parties and which often constitute the reason a voter identifies with one over the other. They just try politicians on until one feels comfortable.

One thing is clear. It's not going to be a blow out unless the Republicans nominate the Bachman/Gingrich ticket and it's not looking good for that. Both Perry and Romney are credible candidates. We'd better start paying attention to all those voting restrictions they've been feverishly passing all over the country since 2010 because it's going to be a close one.

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Naming names and calling out the cheap lies

Chris Hayes' new show debuted this morning and it's really good, a very welcome change from the usual cable news fare and especially welcome on a Saturday morning, recapping the week's horrors.

This was his closing monologue:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

I hadn't heard that sick comment from CNN's Erick Erickson. But I can't say I'm surprised.

You can see the whole show here if you missed it. Tomorrow will be a new one.

I'm actually looking forward to a Sunday morning talk show.

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A Nice Little Ad


that was sent my way.

The flaw is that the Conservative mind is now permanently bisected and the hemispheres are no longer even talking to each other anymore, so whenever they hear "Bad Things" they assume that the speaker is not talking about them, but about "Those People".

Still, very nicely done.
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Dontcha know that you can count him in (out)

Andrew Breitbart thinks the shit is coming down, man:

This is the same guy who practically burst into tears when James Hoffa said "let's take the sonsabitches out" in the November elections.

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Blue America Chat: Chris Donovan

From Howie

Last July Chris Donovan, Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives, wrote a guest post for us, It's long past time to start rebuilding America. At the time, we pointed out why Chris is the kind of leader progressives long for.
He's not just good on the issues, he understands the mechanisms of power that create public policy. He's not the kind of progressive that sits around being right and not getting anything done. That's why he holds the top position in the Connecticut legislature, and that's why the Connecticut legislature has been taking such cutting-edge positions on issue after issue at a time when reactionaries like Scott Walker, Rick Scott, Rick Snyder, Rick Perry, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Tom Corbett, Paul LePage, Bob McDonnell, etc. are dragging their states backwards.

Chris is running for the U.S. House seat in the western and central part of the state (CT-5) being given up by Senate-bound Chris Murphy. It looks like his opponent will be a crazed teabagger, Mark Greenberg, a firm believer in ending Social Security and Medicare so corporate taxes can be further cut and the estate tax on multimillionaires can be eliminated. He's wrong on every single issue-- from the environment and women's Choice to gun control and national security.

But Chris is not just right on every issue; he's been a leader on every issue. He led the successful fights in the Connecticut House to pass 12 minimum wage increases, implement the strongest campaign finance reform legislation in the country, allow all Connecticut students to pay instate tuition rates through the CT DREAM Act, create the first statewide paid sick leave legislation in the country, ensure marriage equality, end discrimination based on sexual preference and gender identity, decriminalize marijuana, and implement a municipal pooling of health care and prescription coverage that will save both the state and its cities and towns money-- the first step on the path to a public option for Connecticut. Dream candidate? Absolutely-- and very much worth helping elect to Congress!

Like every candidate Blue America has endorsed this year, Chris has told us that jobs is the single most important issue voters in his district are concerned about. If you listen closely, though, Chris isn't using Republican Party/Inside-the-Beltway framing to discuss it. He's very much an advocate for public sector jobs and for the government playing a vital role in the general welfare of the nation. "Our private industries and small businesses need customers," he told me yesterday, "at the same time that our towns and cities need teachers, nurses, and public safety workers. Instead of calling for more jobs to be cut, Republicans and pundits in Washington and Hartford should join progressive Democrats in investing in quality jobs with strong benefits that benefit our communities. We need more teachers, more firefighters, more construction workers, and more nurses. The Republicans in the House claimed to be running on a jobs agenda in 2010-- more than 240 days and zero jobs bills later, it’s time for them to honor their promises."

Below is a video of Chris announcing his campaign last week. He went right to protecting Social Security and Medicare from ravenous Republican class war fanatics. "When I hear that the Inside-the-Beltway crowd is talking about cutting Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, I am outraged. These programs make America what it is, a country that cares-- about our seniors, about our children, about our people. That’s what I’m going to fight for in Congress-- to protect our future, to protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and to make sure they are around to protect our grandparents and our grandchildren."

Chris will be joining us for a live blog session at Crooks and Liars today at 2pm (ET). I hope you'll come over and meet the Speaker and our newest candidate. And, if you can, please consider giving him a hand in the only district in New England Republicans are targeting for a blue to red switch. You can contribute to his campaign here.

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Toxic Sludge Champ Rick Perry by David Atkins

Toxic Sludge Champ Rick Perry
by David Atkins ("thereisnospoon")

This story hasn't received nearly as much press as it deserves:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry tried to remove a state commissioner who opposed expanding a West Texas nuclear waste dump run by one of his largest political donors, Reuters reports today. When it became clear that Bobby Gregory of the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Compact Commission might be able to block the dump from accepting out-of-state nuclear waste, Perry's office offered him an alternative job—a prestigious post on the board of regents of a state university.

The news is certain to fuel the longstanding political scandal over the dump, which was licensed in 2008 by Perry's top environmental regulator, Glenn Shankle, over the objections of his staff, three of whom resigned rather than sign off the on the deal (Shankle later left to become a lobbyist for the dump's parent company, Waste Control Solutions). WCS is owned by Harold Simmons, a billionaire corporate raider who has given Perry's campaigns at least $1.2 million.

This is an especially big deal, since Rick Perry has fueled his political career on the backs of just a few big donors. Of particular note is one Harold Simmons, nuclear waste dump kingpin of west Texas. Per NPR:

In his career as governor of Texas, a state where millionaires are plentiful and contribution limits are lax, Perry has raised about half his campaign cash from just 204 big donors, according to an analysis by the watchdog group Texans for Public Justice. And his administration has helped many of those donors, even when it comes to disposing of radioactive waste.

Perry donor Harold Simmons, an 80-year-old billionaire, is a political player. He gave millions of dollars to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in 2004, financing ads that knee-capped Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry.

For Perry, Simmons has anted up roughly $3 million worth of support over the past decade — some of the money going to Perry's campaign committee, other dollars going to the Republican Governors Association when Perry was fundraising for it.

Simmons also owns Waste Control Specialists LLC, working in the heavily regulated industry of radioactive waste disposal.

Craig McDonald, of Texans for Public Justice, says those two facts go together.

"There has been no secret that Harold Simmons' direct self-interest lies in building, permitting and operating his hazardous waste dump and low-level nuclear waste dump in West Texas," he says. "And the wheels have been greased at every turn."

n 2003, the Texas Legislature took the state-run radioactive waste program and made it a private monopoly for Waste Control Specialists. Simmons later bragged about the lobbying that accomplished that.

Waste Control Specialists owned the site in West Texas. But it needed an environmental review. A panel of eight state employees fended off corporate lobbyists and the Perry administration for four years to produce their report.

"We knew from the beginning that this permit was intended to be issued," says Glenn Lewis, who was on the panel.

And they understood why.

"The realization that Harold Simmons was a top campaign contributor to Gov. Perry," Lewis says.


Recall that when George W. Bush was selected President, there was a sense that things wouldn't be so bad, because Bush had a record of cooperative with Democrats in the legislature, and no terribly onerous scandals involving outright corruption. He was, until he moved into the Oval Office, the sort of Republican who could take up the mantle of the "compassionate conservative" and people would believe him. There had been indications of Bush's absence of character throughout his life, but his record as a politician did not suggest that he would be the most corrupt and hyper-partisan president in America's history.

Rick Perry's record, by contrast, is incontrovertibly and ostentatiously corrupt and incompetent. It's all on the record:


If a majority this nation elects Rick Perry president, its citizens will deserve every moment of suffering they receive. There will be no excuse.

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Best Approach to Mobile Website Design

We’ve heard 2011 being many times named as the year of the mobile web, although the last couple of years we heard this association many times. As technology advanced, so did the mobile phones, which we call smartphones today. The internet usage increases every month and the tablets and smartphones start being adopted by every family. 53.6 million people in Japan access the internet from a mobile phone per month, which is almost as much as the users who access the internet from a PC. In the United States around 20 million users use Facebook to check-in every month, so the number of people who access the internet has to be somewhat bigger. According to different sources, the number tends to get past 100 million users monthly. Nobody expected this to happen 10 years ago, but here it is. Therefore the developers have more work to do now with so many companies asking for their own mobile website.

In this article we will focus on a user-centered approach of the mobile webdesign which became popular in the last couple of years. With smartphones having a narrow screen, limited space and less keys, the mobile webdesign is quite different compared to the classic one, for computer screens.

On-going cycle

There are many steps from the idea of a mobile website to actually having one. The user-centered mobile design cycle has five different phases, which we will take a look at soon. The phases are: Analyze the situation, Understand the users and their needs, Prioritize the features, Design the website, Review, testing and refining. This cycle is ongoing on a long-term basis and never ends. Several months after the official launch you might find yourself in the situation that you need to start the process again. As a matter of fact, this happens in web design as well, with companies redesigning their websites/portfolios very often due to analyzing the situation again and realizing things need to be improved.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at each phase and see why each one of them is important in its own way.

1. Analyze the situation

Analyzing the situation starts with the following question: “Do I really need a mobile website now?“. It sounds silly and for most of you might not be relevant, but companies have to ask themselves this question. Not only is a mobile website going to cost several hundreds of dollars, but it requires research and, as we mentioned earlier, a lot of ongoing work. If the company does not have a design department to maintain it, a mobile website might become useless or ineffective in a few months. What you have to do is to find out if your website is accessed from many mobile platforms. You can simply do this by checking your stats in Google Analytics or any other tracker.

Do you need a mobile website?

Image Source: mobilewebsite.com.sg

It is not a bad idea to see how the competition is doing in the field. Don’t forget you are not alone in the market and these small details might make the difference at some point in time.

When you created a desktop website, you had some clear ideas in mind: you wanted to raise awareness, to increase the sales and get your company beyond the borders of your town, region or country. Think about whether the mobile website would do good for you and your company. Otherwise why bother to design one if you don’t get anything in return?

If you don’t see any reason for creating a separate mobile site, then just optimize your site for mobile devices (e.g. images size) or install a plugin if you run WordPress. Banks and online shops need a mobile website, there is no doubt about this, but I doubt you need a mobile website if you own a clothing manufacturing company. Big companies like IKEA, Burger King or Mercedes do not have mobile websites, because they consider there’s no need for one right now. So think twice about it, if these huge companies do not have a mobile website (and it’s not because they have money issues), would one bring you some advantages?

Now if you still think you want to go through with this, then let’s go to the second phase and get closer to the user and how should we please him.

2. Understand the users and their needs

The whole web design process is user-centered, because the user is the one whom we create a website for. Mobile web design is the same. To achieve the best results you have to understand the needs of your users. This is one of the difficult parts, because everything starts from here. If you get this wrong, the whole solution will fail. The research can be concluded through observation (how the user interacts with your page, what are the main things he is interested in), interviews (quizzes) and focus groups (form of research in which the interviewed is represented by a group).

Understand user's needs

Image source: BBC UK

Some of the main questions you need an answer to are:

  • Why do they (want to) access your webpage from a mobile phone?
  • What features are they mainly using?
  • What is important for them when browsing on the go?
  • What is it they do not like when browsing from mobile?
  • What devices, browsers or applications they use to access the web from a mobile device?

After having the answer to these questions, what you still have to do is to research the market. Now you have a good understanding of your users, but you need to know how to design in order to maintain your solution within the popular trends. Opera’s State of the Mobile Web, comScore, Forrester, eMarketer and others are good places to do your research.

3. Prioritize the features

After you conclude the research, you’ll probably have found out what features your users are accessing the most. This and the other answers gave you an insight of what is it you have to feature in your mobile solution. The reason why you can’t just insert all the features from launch is because you might not be able to handle maintaining all of them. Don’t forget, it all requires effort, money and time. Try not to build everything from the beginning and stick to the most important features, then if everything works well there’s always more place on the web for the rest of your ideas.

Prioritize features

Image Source: paperthin.com

While we have this figured it out, let’s move to the most interesting part.

4. Design the website

This next phase can be considered a short guide to mobile web design. When you design a site for the desktop, you use some basic rules you’ve learned when you first arrived in this business. Well, it is exactly the same with the mobile websites, only there are some other rules. There are lots of mobile design considerations you need to think of and we take a look at the most important right now.

One of the most important differences is the context the user is accessing a website from. When he uses the desktop version, a user most probably sits in his own chair at home, with maybe a cup of coffee, listening to music and chatting at the same time. This is comfort. When a user browses from a mobile phone, the context is different. He is probably on a bus or train, maybe even at work in a meeting or on their lunch break, probably trying to multitask while viewing your site on a small device that has a narrow screen with a small font. Now that’s a big difference.

After using different considerations, we can come up with three main reasons why people browse with smartphones: microtasking (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn), boredom (playing games, listening to radio) and activities related to the social, offline life (finding shops or restaurants nearby, checking reviews). Besides these, the basic things that need to be taken into consideration are the following:

Design for smaller screen

Remember that the mobile web design is designed on a big screen. It is definitely not easy to make everything perfect when working like this. There are so many screen sizes out there for computers, but there are even more for mobile phones. Almost every smartphone manufacturer has its own preferred screen sizes or resolutions. Even the iPhone 4, one of the smartphones with a big screen, is tiny in comparison with a default setting of 1024 x 768 for a desktop screen. Moreover, some phones are able to change orientation and the website has to change accordingly. No computer screen changes orientation, so this is actually something new for developers.

Image Source: techwench.com

The best solution is to opt for flexible layouts that will adapt for smaller and larger screens. The easiest way of doing this is having a wrapper with sizes given in percents, not in pixels. Furthermore, every little detail in the HTML has to be given in percentages and not in pixels to make sure the layout is flexible. This way the website will look the same on screens of 150px width or 200px width. Also, depending on the mobile platform, there are different groups of users sorted by the browser they have. It can be Safari, Opera Mini, Nokia WebKit (only for Europe), Android WebKit or BlackBerry WebKit. All these browsers have their own problems and do not support different kind of languages, although all of them support CSS 2 and soon CSS 3 as well.

Simplify the navigation

There is no mouse on phones, therefore the developers have to focus on the navigation a bit more. Upon the small screen, users also rely on touch, trackballs and keypads to click and navigate, so the experience is very different compared to the one on a PC. Information and main features are usually presented on several lines (as you will be able to see at the end of this article), because most of the mobile screens have a larger height than width, therefore it is also more vertical space to work with. The most important features usually come first, because the user might have to scroll down to see the last ones. The numbers of categories, links and levels of navigation have to be reduced as much as possible.

Although not many websites do this, providing key shortcuts (0-9) to access different links might be very useful as well. CNN did this a while ago, although we do not know how well it worked out. Because people have to navigate by touching most of the time, make sure the height and width of the buttons are proper. If you have three buttons in row with a width and height of 15px it might be difficult to tap the one in the middle. Do not use pixels, but percentages! There is a big difference between a button with a width of 30px on a 250px wide screen and one with the same width on a 150px wide screen.

Your mobile website needs to make an immediate impact, therefore try to make the links as visible as possible (see CBS News’ website). Always offer a link to the full-sized webpage, because if a user is on a wireless connection he should be able to visit the main website if he wants. I usually use the footer for this link. Because navigation isn’t as deep and difficult, there is no need for breadcrumbs to use space.

CBS News Mobile Website
CBS News Mobile Website

Prioritize information

Because there is not much space, you have to be concise and only type in the important information. The reason behind you linking to the master webpage is for users who are interested in finding more information about you and your company. There is no reason for you to fill paragraphs with useless information, because the mobile webpage is for presentation only. You don’t sell from there and the main reason behind it is to bring in more clients. You gave them a “teaser”, a chance for finding more (the full-sized webpage), now it is their move.

Minimize user input

Because the user is not in front of his keyboard, it is also a good idea to help him a bit. Keep the URL as everybody else does (mobile.site.com or m.site.com). If the user requires registration, narrow the fields as much as possible. Instead of asking for city and state, ask for the ZIP and there you go, one field less to type in! Also, make use of the geolocation if you can feature it. Use smart features, such as remembering the latest data input. Applications related to transport usually remember the last stations the users typed in. It is a bit different with the websites, but try it. Moreover, offer the possibility to stay signed in.

Keep the usage low

Even if today we have 3G speeds and wireless connections, users in some countries still pay for each bit of data they use. Therefore don’t insert too many images (or at least not high-quality ones), keep the page small, cut unnecessary code, comments and optional tags.

Furthermore, you can use a script to detect if users visit your homepage from a mobile device. If this is the case, simply redirect them to the mobile website. Flash, JavaScript, cookies, HTML5, frames and pop-ups do not work on mobile phones yet, so do not rely on them. You will probably need to make your users scroll, but only do it one way. Most websites scroll vertically, do not make the users scroll in both ways.

5. Review, testing and refining

After you are done with these four phases, you still have a small step until the official launch: you need to test your solution. This does not take too much time, but it is another important step, because releasing a product with bugs might make you lose clients or visitors, in our case. Double check the code (it would be a good idea to do it by W3C’s standards) and try to use your mobile website on a smartphone, because mobile phone emulators are good, but not entirely precise. Ask your friends to offer you their smartphones for short 10 minutes tests and make sure everything is in place. Otherwise go back to phase 4 and refine the website until it works perfectly.

Improvements

As discussed earlier, this is an ongoing cycle, so you will have to make improvements all the time. They can be updates, new features or a whole, from scratch, redesign, but always try to offer something new to the users. Try to track your mobile website visitors and observe their behavior. If they spend way too much time on your site, it is probably because it is too heavy and it loads slow. If they spend next to no time, it is because you can’t catch their attention immediately. Track your users and determine your website’s strong and weak points and refine them.

Conclusion and examples

There are so many things to talk about on this topic, but we will stop here. I think we’ve covered enough for one day and, as all the basic information has been given out, I am sure now you know more about how to approach the design process of a mobile website. Here you can see a showcase of several mobile websites designed very intelligently and featured the way they should be.

1. Yellow Pages

Yellow Pages

2. Walmart

Walmart

3. Vimeo

Vimeo

4. Trip Advisor

Trip Advisor

5. Flickr

Flickr

6. Digg

Digg

7. DeviantART

DeviantART

8. CW TV

CW TV

9. Amazon

Amazon

Further sources on this topic

Tips to design iPhone apps and webpages

Mobile webdesign trends of year 2009 (this may be a bit old, but many elements still apply today)

Tips and best practices for mobile webdesign

Is there something else you would like to add? Do you have other opinions about this process or is it maybe something you do not agree with?

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Professional Left Podcast #93

ProfessionalLeft
"Computers Libertarians make excellent and efficient servants, but I have no wish to serve under them."

-- Spock
(The Universal Translator apparently
blew the first try.)




Links for this episode:

Thanks again to Frank Chow for the graphic at the ProLeft website and Heather at Crooks and Liars Video Cafe for their help. And don't forget, our archives are available for free with no downloads at Professional Left.


Da' money goes here:


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