Well, I believe in the soul, the cock, the pussy, the small of a woman's back, the hanging curve ball, high fiber, good scotch, that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent, overrated crap. I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter. I believe in the sweet spot, soft-core pornography, opening your presents Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days.
- Crash Davis, Bull Durham
I disagree with some of what "Crash" said, but I dig the spirit. For the record, I do believe Astroturf and the DH are abominations, but I like opening one present X-mas Eve. Anecdote: I forced my parents to celebrate St. Nick's Day and Epiphany as part of a scheme to get more presents. I was an only child, so it mostly worked. Getting us back to our Jewish roots, however, was an absolute failure so no Chanukah.
The "debate" below, which began with a copy and paste troll post (our friend Touchy, who's been up to his spamming tricks), inspired this entry. Thing of it is, I believe a lot of different things, but some folks can't get passed the "liberal" label* that I carry and don't take the time to find out what I'm about.
You want to know what I believe? Don't assume anything, just ask me. I'll tell you exactly where I stand on a particular issue.
For example: flag waving. I'm sick of getting told what patriotism is by people who fly ratty flags from their cars. I'm sick of lockstep, mindless crap that requires me to act a particular way to be deemed patriotic. I'm sick of the debate about pledging allegiance to a piece of cloth.
Flying or pledging to a flag is not the definition of patriotism. I hold to the same idea as Republican Senator Carl Schurz of Wisconsin:
My country right or wrong. When right, to keep right; when wrong, to put right.
My country has been wrong since 2001. My country has been wrong in how it treats its most vulnerable citizens. My country is wrong in how it allows corporatism to ride roughshod over the needs of the people. My country is wrong in how it treats its environment. My country has been wrong in how it reacted to the horrific attacks on 9/11. My country has been wrong in how it prosecutes its current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
[T]he prospect of launching a successful air strike that would thwart Tehran's pursuit of nuclear technology is not a viable strategy. In addition to the logistical difficulties involved in destroying Tehran's nuclear facilities, there is also the fear that such an attack would only accelerate Tehran's pursuit of nuclear arms. Finally, the political reverberations that would be felt by such an attack would be severe, and the attacking state would likely be held accountable for its actions.
I have developed, I believe through God's leadership, an effective way of dealing with specific addictions when a person has the desire for help and change. If you are struggling with an addiction/spiritual problem (pornograpy/sexual addictions, gambling, alcohol/drug abuse, anger/rage, George Bush Bashing, etc.) I have KITS available that can help...
These KITS include: "God's Help For The Tough Problems"; instructions for preparing a cassette tape which directly confronts the specific problem through praise, prayer, and Scripture; instructions for using the cassette tape; and, hints for finding the way of escape. Be assured that your request for a kit will be as private and confidential as you desire and your instructions for delivery of the kit will be followed precisely. This information can all be emailed to you and there is no cost.
If you want the ADDICTIONS KIT please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. ...
Also helpful are the Burning Bush Daily Email Devotionals.
TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE DEVOTIONAL: Send a blank email to email@example.com
I just sent for my kit. You might want to do the same.
It's official: I am declaring a No Bush Blog Work Week. I will post no stories, pictures, satire, or anything related to the Idiot-in-Chief. I'll be back to my old tricks 12:01AM Saturday.
In the meantime, I hope to fill the void with other fun things to bash, though I will need much support from my readership. I don't smoke, but I'm pretty sure this will be worse than trying to quit smoking. So if you have any suggestions for alternate targets, please let me know.
I want to talk to you about security. I know it is on your minds and it is certainly on mine. I think about your security hourly and take some action, some decision designed to improve your security every single day. Nothing is more important to the Coalition than your security.
We know that three types of violence plague Iraq:
* First there is common crime, which affects all citizens. It has always existed, but is far worse than in recent years. This surge in crime is in large part due to Saddam's sweeping release of some 100,000 convicted criminals. Even those of you who have not been physical victims have become victims of the fear of crime. Fear of crime has changed your lives for the worse.
* Next we have sabotage and armed attacks on both Coalition and Iraqi forces. While these attacks are crimes, their motive is primarily political. Those who carry out these crimes want to bring back the old regime or some similar tyranny. They do not share your hope for a peaceful, democratic Iraq. The political nature of these criminals puts them in a different category than those of common thieves and it makes catching them all the harder.
* Terrorism, the deliberate targeting of innocents to achieve a political end, is the third and perhaps most visible sign of insecurity. At the Mosque of Ali, at the United Nations compound and elsewhere, these terrorists have shed the blood of innocents - most of them Iraqis. And do they care that they mostly kill Iraqis? Not at all. They want to take away your future of hope and replace it with their own dark vision.
I'm sure this statement will stabilize things.
Interesting definition of terrorism. As Helena Cobban observes at the Smirking Chimp (thanks to faithful reader Diane in comments below):
[T]he intent of the...of the assault against Iraq, was primarily to induce "shock and awe". (Other people might use the term "terror".)
So while we kill thousands of Iraqi, we do not call our acts of violence "terror" because our "collateral damage" was "accidental". Explain that to the dead Iraqis and their surviving kin.
I just joined the League of Liberals. What does it mean? More power! Bwahahaha! Okay, not really. You know as well as I do that liberals don't like having power.
So what this means is very little from the POV of this blog, 'cept that I've committed to voting each week in the TTLB New Weblog Showcase (which I've been remiss in doing of late), and we collectively support an entrant. And there's a quasi-group blog.
Anyway, this week we voted for LEAGUE OF LIBERALS Charter Member THE SPY GAME, which apparently wonis winning the showcase. Behold the power of the League!
[Update: apparently NZBear now waits until 5PM Pacific Monday to certify the winners. That means there's still time to vote for The Spy Game. Copy and paste this code into your blog to cast your ballot:
Iyad Alawi, current president of the Iraqi Governing Council:
Iraqis are grateful for the tremendous efforts and sacrifices the United States is making on our behalf. Yet, ultimately, only Iraqis themselves can restore security, rebuild national institutions, enact a constitution and elect a democratic government. America must not rebuff Iraqis who are eager to have a stake in this intimate national process. Like any free people, we want to ensure that we are in control of our own destiny.
An assemblage of politically active Arab Americans gave former Vermont governor Howard Dean repeated ovations Saturday at the windup of a two-day meeting that marked a clear shift of allegiance from President Bush to his Democratic rivals.
Dean got by far the warmest response of any of the seven presidential hopefuls who addressed the 300 people attending the national leadership conference of the Arab American Institute (AAI), a Washington-based advocacy group.
He was cheered when he repeated his earlier promise that if elected, he would send former President Bill Clinton as his personal envoy to the Middle East.
The cheers and ovations grew more frequent when he turned to condemning the Bush administration's anti-terrorism tactics within the United States, saying that its treatment of immigrants and roundups of Muslims amounted to "ethnic profiling" and violated constitutional guarantees...
"Because John Ashcroft touts the Patriot Act around the country does not mean John Ashcroft is a patriot," Dean said to rising cheers. "That American flag over there belongs to every American -- not only to John Ashcroft, Rush Limbaugh, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson."
A taped message purporting to be from the al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden declares for the first time that Iraq is the new battlefront in the jihad against the US.
The statement may signal a shift in focus on to Iraq, where 102 coalition troops have now been killed in attacks since Saddam Hussein, the former president, was ousted.
Well, we've got another front in our "war on terror". I don't want to make a specious, Godwin-esque comparison here, but I wonder if this invasion will be remembered as a blunder on par with Hitler's decision to invade Russia. Well, Bush always said that Iraq was the central front in the WOT--he has certainly made it so.
Yes, the light still sucks. When she ventures into the larger world, quality should improve.
PS--New name frontrunner: Mina. That would be a shortened, made-up variation of "minowis", Abenaki word for cat. Full name might be "minowis udachi", Abenaki/Russian combo meaning "cat of luck".
¶ 4:52 PM
We were watching This Week with George "I Just Started Shaving" Stephanopoulos, and saw Revoltin' Joe Lieberman say this today (via CNN, since ABC doesn't provide free transcripts):
"These are very serious times; we're facing challenges today at home and in the world the likes of which we have not faced together in a long, long time," Lieberman, D-Connecticut, told ABC's "This Week." "It's a time for change from George Bush, but it's not a time for rookies."
Asked who the "rookies" are, he replied, "Well, Howard Dean has been a governor, Wes Clark is new to politics -- so that's two."
The Democratic circular firing squad continues. You're attacking a guy who is very likely going to be your party's nominee, and playing right into Unka Karl's hands. Instead of attacking Dean (and Clark, for that matter), how 'bout giving us a reason to vote for you?
What's more, Dean advocates a balanced, thoughtful foreign policy. Our new kitten can crap out better foreign policy than George Bush and you, Senator.
Pakistan, under President Pervez Musharraf -- the general who, in a coup, overthrew a democratically elected government -- and whose military and security services had served before 9/11 as the leading backer of the Taliban, seems to be undermining stability in neighboring Afghanistan. Pakistan also is reportedly harboring Islamic militants, fighting Indian forces in Kashmir and elsewhere, and playing an active role in the proliferation of nuclear weapons, which it has already developed -- unlike Iraq or Iran, the latter another member of the infamous Axis of Evil...
[S]ome intelligence experts suspect that Osama bin Ladin and other al Qaeda and Taliban leaders may have found sanctuaries in the so-called Federally Administered Tribal Areas in Pakistan.
More of a concern for the United States is the growing evidence that Pakistan's nuclear program -- an arsenal believed to contain between 35 and 60 nuclear weapons -- may have become a source of technology for North Korea and Iran. Also, some evidence points to some Pakistani nuclear scientists maintaining ties to al Qaeda and other extremist Islamic groups. All of this suggests that under various scenarios, including the collapse of Musharraf's rule or a coup staged by radical Islamists, Pakistan could turn into a nuclear-armed ally of al Qaida.
While the United States should work with Pakistan in the economic arena, it should refrain from embracing the Musharraf regime as an ally. In a way, Pakistan -- not Iraq -- remains a central stage in America's continuing antiterrorism campaign. By diverting scarce military and economic resources to fight an unnecessary war in Iraq, Washington may have weakened its ability to contain those who perpetrated the 9/11 terrorist acts and their benefactors.
Translation: we're doing everything we can to give AQ, Iran and N. Korea access to the nukes we don't want them to have. Bush may talk tough about the "war on terror", but in the end he is himself aiding and abetting the terrorists by cozying up to yet another dictator of convenience who is at best an ineffective ally and possibly playing us like a cheap fiddle.
Rather than addressing root issues, BushCo engages in bellicose rhetoric while sowing the seeds of nuclear crisis and setting the stage for a possibly devastating terrorist attack. Oh that's right, Cheney said something about that--how else can the administration justify its agenda without having such a threat hanging over our heads. Then I guess everything's going according to plan...
President Bush on Sunday restated his opposition to a bilateral non-aggression pact with North Korea, shortly after he arrived in the Thai capital for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.
North Korea has insisted on a non-aggression pact with the United States as part of any deal to abandon its nuclear program, and both China and Russia have urged the United States to make such a commitment.
Bush has flatly ruled out such an agreement and did so again Sunday in Bangkok.
"We will not have a treaty ... that's off the table," he said. "We have no intention of invading North Korea .. we expect North Korea to get rid of her nuclear weapons ambitions. And the progress we're making on this issue is that we've convinced other nations to say the same thing."
Great to see he's keen to keep all our options and work constructively with the DPRK. What an ass. Or, to quote KCNA:
The U.S. talk about such "peaceful solution" can not but be a mockery of the international community.
The nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula is a product of the U.S. hostile policy against the DPRK and the U.S. nuclear threat to it. The key to settling the issue lies in whether the U.S. makes a bold decision to make a switchover in its policy toward the DPRK or not.
What North Korea fails to understand is that "bold" in the Bush lexicon means "war".
Two U.S. soldiers were killed and one wounded late Saturday in an attack near the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, a military spokeswoman told CNN.
With the latest deaths, 338 U.S. troops have been killed in the Iraq war since it began in March -- 218 of those by hostile fire.
In a separate incident, U.S. forces in Fallujah -- west of the Iraqi capital -- came under attack Sunday, after their convoy hit a landmine or an improvised explosive device, eyewitnesses told CNN.
Video of the scene showed a huge cloud of smoke emanating from the scene of the attack, before several loud explosions -- apparently from the ammunition inside the U.S. military vehicle.
A crowd of bystanders watched on, some of them cheering.
President Bush told the Congress of this former American colony on Saturday that Iraq, like the Philippines, could be transformed into a vibrant democracy. ...
While the administration often speaks of the occupations of Japan and Germany after World War II as rough models for the effort to rebuild Iraq, Mr. Bush used the visit here to make a less explicit analogy to the American administration of the Philippines, which also led to the formation of a democracy. But the comparison has less power to reassure, given that the Philippine government did not gain full autonomy for five decades.
And the Philippines were a freaking colonial holding! So, are we finally admitting that Iraq is a fiefdom in the renewed American empire?
[Update: upyernoz has some analysis over at Rubber Hose. Here's a snippet that he posted in the comment thread here:
actually the philipines analogy works. we seized the islands after fighting a war with spain that was based on a lie (i.e. that the spanish attacked the u.s.s. maine), the u.s. occupation was plagued with local uprisings, which americans brutally suppressed. not only wasn't autonomy granted to the filipinos for 49 years, but when they finally got independence, it was under u.s-backed dictators. that only ended in the 1980s, 90 years after the u.s. occupation began. today the philippines is a poverty-striken weak democracy whose government does not control the southern portions of the country. in the south there is an violent islamic fundamentalist movement, abu sayyaf, which has ties to al qaeda. bush's comparison may be accurate, but it does not bode well for the american occupation of iraq.
I originally was thinking that this was not the analogy Bush wanted to make because, as the NYTimes article observed, automony took a long time. However, this likely was an (inadvertantly?) accurate analogy on Bush's part, given what we hear about the PNAC agenda. We are in there for the long haul, no matter what BushCo says publicly at home. Translation: we're royally screwed. Anyway, read what upyernoz has to say...]
¶ 10:54 PM
The spirit of US President George W Bush has been trapped in a clay pot and tossed into a river in northern Thailand after being cursed by hundreds of farmers protesting US agriculture policy.
A photograph of the US leader was sealed inside a pot amid black magic mantra chants, then tossed into the Ping River on Friday by demonstrators after they rallied at the US consulate in Chiang Mai, a farm group leader said.
"This is a traditional northern Thai ceremony aimed at keeping his spirit down on the riverbed so he could not come and exploit our natural resources or suppress our (farming) brothers with his superior influence," Weerasak Wan-ubol, an executive of the Northern Farmers Alliance, said today.
A respected elder performed the voodoo rites, inscribing ancient Khmer scripts on the pot, aimed at trapping the spirit of the US president.
And let the RECORD not stand with the Senator's words...that those who vote against this bill are voting against the troops. I defy that statement. I defy that statement, and I hurl it back into the teeth of the Senator from Alaska.
I support the troops. I would say that every Senator here, regardless of how he or she votes, supports the troops. So do not throw that old canard over here, over this way.
I close by congratulating those Senators who have the courage to speak their will...and who do not support the doctrine of preemption.
Fie on that doctrine of preemption! Fie on it!
I love it when he gets angry.
PS--Our war, of course, was not preemptive unless the threat was imminent, which all the wingers are now saying they never claimed. If you stick to that line of argument, fine: you've just admitted we engaged in illegal, aggressive war.
[Update: alert reader Felix Deutsch found some important information about "fie":
ETYMOLOGY: Middle English fi, from Old French, of imitative origin.
An exclamation indicating that what is reproved is dirty or indecent. The dung of many animals, as the boar, wolf, fox, marten, and badger, is called fiants, and the "orificium ana'le" is called a fi, a word still used in Lincolnshire. (Anglo-Norman, fay, to clean out; Saxon, afylan, to foul; our defile or file, to make foul; filth, etc.)
The Emperor has no clothes. This entire adventure in Iraq has been based on propaganda and manipulation. Eighty-seven billion dollars is too much to pay for the continuation of a war based on falsehoods.
Taking the nation to war based on misleading rhetoric and hyped intelligence is a travesty and a tragedy. It is the most cynical of all cynical acts. It is dangerous to manipulate the truth. It is dangerous because once having lied, it is difficult to ever be believed again. Having misled the American people and stampeded them to war, this Administration must now attempt to sustain a policy predicated on falsehoods.
He stood firm despite Senator Stevens' attempt to intimidate with his Incredible Hulk necktie.
Persistent criticism on the economy and his Iraq policy alike are clouding President Bush's political standing, creating vulnerabilities that combine to lock the incumbent and an unnamed Democrat in a dead heat for the 2004 vote.
An ABCNEWS/Washington Post poll finds that nearly six in 10 Americans — a new high — call U.S. casualties in Iraq "unacceptable," more than double its level when Baghdad fell last April. Bush's approval rating for handling terrorism more broadly, while still high, now matches his career low. And most continue to disapprove of his handling of the economy, a critical election-year benchmark.
There are newer troubles as well: More than eight in 10 continue to see the alleged White House leak of a CIA operative's identity as a "serious matter," and the number who think the administration is fully cooperating in the investigation has declined to 39 percent. About two-thirds still favor appointment of an outside special counsel to look into the matter.
That's 47% for the unnamed Dean, er, Democrat and 46% for Bush. Why? Because Bush screwed the pooch in Iraq, is beholden to discredited theories which have only ruined our economy, and is finally being seen as the liar he really is. No wonder he needs to raise so much money from his rich friends.
Troll disclaimer: I don't want our soldiers to die, which is why I advocate bringing them home NOW; I don't want our economy to keep circling the drain, which is why I support a candidate with a SANE fiscal policy stance. I am just glad the American public is getting on the clue train.
Speaking of the Dems:
All told, 17 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say they'd vote today for Dean, 13 percent for Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri, 12 percent for Clark, 10 percent for Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, 9 percent for Lieberman, 6 percent for former Illinois senator and ambassador Carol Moseley Braun, with the remaining three candidates under 5 percent. (The race is essentially the same among registered voters and unleaned Democrats.)
This does not constitute an outright Dean lead; at the 95 percent confidence level conventionally used in polling, it's within the margin of sampling error. Given the sample size, one can say with only 60 percent confidence that Dean's lead is a real one.
Still within the MOE, still early, but this is sweet all the same.
The kitten apparently spent the night in a flap under my recliner. Most importantly, despite one accident yesterday afternoon, our efforts at litter training are already paying off, as she used her box last night. Whoohoo! Our mission today: get some kitten food.
For a name we've been toying around with using variations of Abenaki words: minowis (cat, duh!); tka (cold, because it was cold when I found her); askawii (wait for me!). We'll come up with something as we get to know her.
She's acclimating pretty well. Sat in my lap and purred up a storm this morning, lets us pick her up to put her in the litter box after eating, and is hissing less. Starting to do the cat thing of rubbing her face against our hands. She's home.
Okay, I'll stop boring you now. Just wait until we have kids and I blog about poop stories...
New Gallup Poll economic data collected in early October continue to show more consumers giving the economy "poor" ratings than giving it "good" or "excellent" ratings combined. In addition, just as many consumers tell Gallup that economic conditions in the country are "getting worse" as say they are "getting better."
Traditional economic analysis suggests that when consumer optimism is relatively weak, as it is today, consumers are likely to hold back on their spending. In turn, this tends to further slow the economy until economic conditions and consumer perceptions improve.
Gallup attitudinal economic data, however, suggest that this is no longer the case. Whether it is the result of stock-market and home-equity wealth effects or some other reason, there appears to be a growing disconnect between consumers' perceptions of how well the economy is performing and their willingness to spend. Of course, the big question for the future of the economy is whether this disconnect in traditional consumer behavior can be maintained for an extended period -- at least until the job market starts to show significant improvement.
Not sure if this buttresses my argument below or not. The picture is muddy, at the very least.
I had just let our cat Saffron out this morning, and was puttering in the garage when I heard a strange, soft yowl. I thought it was Saffron getting sick or hurt or something, but when I looked around the corner, she was just sitting on the top porch step with no signs of distress. Heard the yowl again, and it sorta sounded like an injured seagull I found once, so I walked around looking for a hurt bird. Still nothing. Once more I heard the sound (by then I was wondering if it were a wounded giraffe) and then I saw a little head peek out from behind a rolled up rug we have in the corner of the garage.
A teeny teeny teeny gray kitten, maybe 8 or 10 weeks old, had made itself a little nest of sorts in a fold in the rug. Feisty little bugger, biting and clawing like a Tasmanian Devil when I extracted her--I fortunately had presence of mind to wear gloves. She (as we've since tentatively determined with a phone consultation with our vet) must've been in there for at least 2 or 3 days, but was amazingly not too worse for wear despite the cold and lack of food and water.
We checked around and apparently a stray momma cat had been roaming the area with a couple kittens. Don't know where the rest of the fam ended up, but we've decided to keep this one. Going to the vet on Wednesday to have her checked out.
No name as yet, and she still doesn't completely trust us, but she's in a warm, comfy corner of our little library, chomping on a bowl of Saffy's kibble until we get her some appropriate kitten food. Saffron doesn't seem perturbed, but Cairo is a bit confused why the library door is closed. Anyway, I'll post a pic soon and maybe you folks can help us name her.
[Update: a few quick snaps of the little furball, who is now sleeping comfortably under a Japanese-style paper lamp...]
The first time I actually got to really pet her, and she was purring to beat the band. This is over in her little corner nest between my ancient Advent speakers, so the light sucks. As you can tell with my thumb as a size gauge, she's teeny.
Under the aforementioned lamp. She had been preferring to llie under my recliner, but just now decided the lamp was safer and/or warmer. The metal thing in the background is our heating register, so you can see how short she is.
The Department of Employment and Training announced Thursday a seasonally adjusted state unemployment rate of 4.3 percent for September, an increase of four tenths of a point from the revised estimate for the previous month.
Private industry job growth in September slipped to 1.2 percent annually.
Anecdotally, I hear more economic bad news. This summer's retail situation down on Church Street in Burlington was relatively good, but not a banner season by any means. Unfortunately the merchants, including one of Stef's friends, are finding September and October to be cruel months.
My guess is that consumer spending was decent in the summer, especially because of the temporary thrill of a few hundred bucks from Bush's ill-advised tax cuts, but folks are starting to back off now that they've run up more debt and winter is coming on. X-mas might still nudge things up a bit, but I worry with a job market that's still uncertain at best, jobs not being created even as layoffs are slowing a bit, heating fuel prices are going to be high, and so on, the economy is still not going to get out the slump.
I believe the listeners were not well served by this interview. It may have illustrated the "cultural wars" that seem to be flaring in the country. Unfortunately, the interview only served to confirm the belief, held by some, in NPR's liberal media bias.
He makes some good points, but in the end I disagree. If asking hard questions is unfair, and being lied to by the guest isn't, then we live in a warped universe. See my deconstruction of the interview below if you want a refresher on the interview.
[Important Update: I've sent out all but one of the award certificates. I just realized ABH, I need your e-mail address! Send that to me by midnight next Tuesday or your prize will go to another contestant. Sorry about the confusion. Rock on.]
¶ 9:29 AM
OSP Selections You Must Read
Reading OSP today could very well save your life. Yes, these selections are *that* important:
* The Mathematical Approach to Life - You probably wondered "when am I ever going to need this?" in math class. Earl Dunovant discusses why all subversives should think like mathematicians.
I'm sorry, but this is much larger than 5 people killed, 7 wounded:
A fierce gunbattle near a mosque in the holy Shiite city of Karbala continued Friday, after three U.S. military police and two Iraqi police were killed by a previously unknown faction, according to coalition officials.
Five U.S. military police and two Iraqi police were wounded in the attack, which involved rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47 gunfire, U.S. Maj. Ralph Manos said.
Unknown faction, Shia fighting each other...no matter how you slice it I think this is the beginning of the end of the low-level conflict/occupation. Our 3 month window is closing rapidly, Ramadan is approaching, and we still haven't delivered on our promises to the Iraqi people. Bush can try his end around the media "filter" play all he wants, tout capturing 40 odd of the Deck of Cards officials, brag about the new currency and all these little things. It doesn't mean squat. Let's get the hell out of dodge before we really do have a Tet on our hands.
We present an algorithm for determining the winners of United States presidential elections, based on the previous experience of the major party candidates for President and Vice President. The algorithm correctly determines the winner of each of the 54 U.S. presidential elections between 1789 and 2000. Our algorithm predicts that President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard B. Cheney will win the 2004 election unless:
1) the Democratic nominee for President is Howard B. Dean,
2) the Democratic nominee for President is Wesley K. Clark and the Democratic nominee for Vice President has been Vice President for at least two years, a governor for at least five years, or a U.S. Representative for at least five years,
3) the Democratic nominee for President is Richard A. Gephardt and the Democratic nominee for Vice President is a banker, a college or university chancellor or president, or the child of a U.S. Senator, or
4) the Democratic nominee for Vice President is Albert A. Gore, Jr. or John D. Rockefeller, IV, and the Democratic nominee for President has not been divorced, has not been a special prosecutor, and is a Protestant, Deist, or Catholic.
(thanks to alert Eschaton reader Dan, who happens to be one of the authors)
There you have it, folks. Scientific method has told us who should be the Dem nominee. Now can we stop with all the crazy talk about voting for the other candidates?
Speaking in California today, President Bush said, "the challenges we face today cannot be met with timid, timid actions or bitter, bitter words." He noted, however, that our challenges could be met with "timid, bitter actions and bitter, timid words." Mr. Bush went on to say that America's economic problems were "not my fault" and unemployment was too high "in this important state" to his election campaign. The President concluded: "United flight 93 was headed for the White House, which is why I went into hiding on that terrible day: 9/11, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11."
PS--I only made half of this up. Guess which half.
¶ 9:13 PM
I'm Not Gonna Jinx Them
Sox up 3-0.
You know, I lost 2 bucks on them back in '86. Hate to bring him up, but Buckner owes me. The interest on that bet would, uh...probably pay for this bottle of Smoking Loon Cab that I'm drinking.
I was watching The Right Stuff for the umpteenth time in honor of China's first steps into the universe of human spaceflight. The movie is underrated (I find that I must replace my crappy DVD with the superior 2 disc set that came out this summer), and I really like Tom Wolfe's book.
I'm annoyed, however, that I missed an important anniversary. The flick reminded me that Tuesday was the 56 years since Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier.
I am a closet Republican. It's not that I tried to hide that from you, dear readers. I wasn't even aware of it myself until we got a call just now from the Vermont Republicans thanking us for our donation last year and asking for 75 bucks this year.
Hold on, come to think of it we have received RNC material in our mail over the past year. I wonder who the joker is who gave money to the GOP in my name?
Anyway, it was a missed opportunity to pretend to be Republican and tell the caller that we think Bush is an asshat. Ah well.
The Fed said production increased 0.4 percent after a revised 0.1 percent decline in August. Firms operated at 74.7 percent of capacity, their fastest pace since March.
In a sign the manufacturing sector is rebounding, factory production --- which makes up more than four-fifths of total industrial output -- rose by 0.7 percent, the largest gain since April 2000. Much of that jump could be traced to a hefty 6.6 percent increase in production of autos and parts.
The Labor Department said first-time filings for state unemployment aid fell 4,000 last week to 384,000 from the previous week, the Labor Department said. The number was broadly in line with analysts' expectations that claims would be 388,000.
It was the second week in a row that claims came in under 400,000. Economists say claims above 400,000 suggest a deteriorating jobs market.
But buried in the 15th graf was this important tidbit:
While the report suggested layoffs are slowing, it also showed unemployed workers are still having a tough time finding new jobs. For the week ended Oct. 4, the number of Americans claiming benefits after filing an initial claim climbed 58,000 to 3.67 million.
As some have observed before, many of the jobs lost just aren't going to come back. So yeah, it's great news that layoffs apparently are slowing, but if you are one of the "lucky duckies" who got canned, you're likely to be SOL for a long time. I don't see how that's good news.
The vice president hasn't come up with W.M.D., Osama or Saddam. But he says we have uncovered a video of Saddam letting two Doberman pinchers eat one of his generals alive because he didn't trust him. Oh, that's worth $87 billion, the Iraqi version of "When Good Pets Go Bad."
I'm not a Cubs fan, but I was really pulling for them. I despise the Marlins with a passion that you just don't know. At least we averted Apocalypse: there will definitely be no Cubbie-BoSox Series. Whew!
...that Master and Commander doesn't suck. Somehow I don't think Aubrey and Maturin are going to be spending a lot of time playing music in Jack's cabin, or sitting around eating toasted cheese and drinking "capital" port. O'Brian might just be spinning in his grave...
Wood sure just helped his own cause with that 2 run homer, eh?!
[Update: now a 2 run lead on Alou's homer. Damn, I have GOT to get to bed...]
[Further update: they're not even my team, but I do like hardluck cases. And now the Cubbies are down a run. And I'll have to wait 'til tomorrow to see how it ends. Don't want to have a relapse.]
¶ 9:05 PM
Listened to the 9th inning on the way home from volleyball. Great series! Now let's see if the Cubbies can come back from their 3-0 deficit tonight.
How'd our v-ball match go? Glad you asked. We. Kicked. Ass. I know, it's hard to believe. We won handily the first game, 15-9. After jumping out to a nice early lead in the second game, we let the other team get back in it and tie the game 13-13. Unlike seasons past, we did not choke but actually kept our heads in the game and pulled off the last 2 points to win the match. We got a little punchy in the 3rd game, but almost pulled off a 3-0 sweep anyway, losing an epic, see-saw battle 15-13. Amazing night: the breaks went our way, lots of amazing saves that we normally would not convert, and we only had 2 bad serves the entire match. Turns out that if you get the ball over the net, you have a greater probability of scoring.
How'd I do? Glad you asked. I. Kicked. Ass. I know, it's hard to believe, especially since I'm coming off the flu and not firing on all cylinders. I crushed some monster spikes tonight, which felt great. I had some nice blocks in game 1, but none in the last 2--that's okay because the other team adjusted, which meant I forced their spikers to redirect their shots, usually out of bounds, which is just as good as a block. And for the first time this season, I didn't screw up any of my serves. Still not getting dominant smacks so they weren't hard to return, but I was hitting the back line pretty well and getting a bit of spin on the ball. Turns out that if you get the ball over the net, you...ah, you know.
BTW, our team lost last week. Combine that with tonight's match win, and we have proven that I am not the weakest link, nor a jinx. And we're at .500!
No time to deconstruct, but here's some interesting stuff from Stars & Stripes:
In an effort to feel the pulse of U.S. forces firsthand, Stars and Stripes reporters spent three weeks in August fanning across Iraq.
¶ When asked how worthwhile they thought the war in Iraq was for the United States, the split among all those responding was 67 percent saying it was "worthwhile," "probably worthwhile" or "very worthwhile," with 31 percent saying it was of "little value" or of "no value at all."
¶ Asked about their personal morale, 34 percent overall rated it as "low" or "very low," 27 percent said it was "high" or "very high," and virtually all the rest called it "average." Perceptions of their unit's morale ranked heavier on the "low" side. This question of personal morale elicited widely different responses among the services. Reservists ranked their morale as the lowest by far. Marine and Air Force respondents tended to rate their own morale on the high side, while Army respondents were fairly evenly divided between high and low morale, with most falling in the middle, or "average."
¶ Noncommissioned officers predict problems in re-enlistment, although military leaders say enlistment rates historically drop after conflicts. Nearly half of the troops surveyed said they do not plan to re-enlist. No re-enlistment figures from Iraq are available at this point, while generally the overall military re-enlistment rates appear to be satisfactory or better.
¶ While from all indications troops in Iraq are doing what needs to be done, slightly more than one-third of those responding to the questionnaire said their mission was for the most part "not clearly defined" or "not at all defined." Sixty-three percent said it was.
Just got done teaching another online security class and soon I get to go play volleyball! Yup, I'm feeling well enough to play (still not 100%, but whatev). Even if I weren't well, I've missed 2 weeks in a row and am not about to miss another match, damn it. I haven't heard if we won last week--I kinda hope we lost. That way I'm not necessarily the weakest link.
I've heard this line of thought from Dems, but it's much more telling when it comes from Bill Schneider, annoying CNN analyst and AEI resident fellow:
Schwarzenegger's election is a signal: Times are tough; voters want change; outsiders are in. That may be why two Washington outsiders in the Democratic presidential race are attracting the most interest. A former governor of Vermont and a retired general with no electoral experience.
Davis and Bush are in different parties, but what Davis was selling is what Bush will be selling next year--continuity. Schwarzenegger's message of change could be just as much a threat to Bush as it was to Davis.
Can't remember who it was, but somebody in a thread somewhere in the blogosphere observed that Bush's recent uptick in the polls is a "dead cat bounce." I agree. Unless the economy turns around--I mean really, not defense-spending nudging up GDP, but honest-to-goodness improvement in the job scene--and Iraq miraculously becomes a beacon of democracy, Ahnold's election is going to stop being a distraction from Bush's follies and become a harbinger of doom for the President's chances in '04.
Troll disclaimer: yes, I want things to get better. Forgive me if I don't hold my breath.
Okay, so this was really hard with over 3 dozen contestants and a few times that many caption suggestions. First, thanks to all you participants:
tinheart, Lilith, folkbum, Penny, Steve Bates, Anonymous (you know who you are), amy, ABH, lea-p, Michael, OOS, scooterfibby, flight, Dom, Peter Scoff, Diane, Bill Simmon, Spine, Soj, MercuryX23, prestupnik, Shaw Kenawe, mark, Aenea, chica toxica, bad Jim, Ian, pansypoo, Draeton, Drugstore Fatboy, bizutti, bhoot, pbg, Dan, HammondX, Joshua, PeskyFly, Loudocracy, and Harry Cheddar.
You're all winners in my book! Heh. Yeah, I used that joke last time, too.
Anywayz, a little bit about the process. As I said, this was difficult because there were so many excellent captions. I had to modify my procedure from July's contest, but it involved printing out the comments, a little bit of whittling down based on what I found the funniest/best, and then some random selection with help from the dog. In the end I decided to further expand the runner-up prizes, so there are 5 winners today (can you tell I'm liberal?). After I selected the winning entries, I came up with an award category for each. So...
The Best Rummy Channeling Award ($10 certificate) goes to: bizutti!
Many people ask me, if you're so smart, why isn't your head this big? That's a good question. You see, there are smart dumb people who have little heads and little brains. And there are dumb smart people who have big heads and little brains. And then, there are people like me, the smart smart people. We don't need big heads like this because our brains are so efficient. In fact, a lot of Eye-Raqis seem to have very large heads, but they're doing dumb things like trying to kill us. Why would somebody do that? I'm probably too smart to understand it ... can anybody out there help me out?
The Best Topical Reference To This Blog ($5 certificate) goes to: Diane!
"...and then I caught that virus from NTodd, and my head felt this big"
Best Reference To Missing WMD ($5 certificate): Soj!
"An invisible nuclear warhead is about yay wide"
Best Reference To The Clenis ($5 certificate): ABH!
We were going to be welcomed as liberators. Despite our protests they wanted to give us their oil. But in the end we underestimated the size of the Clenis and its power to take the Iraqis to the dark side.
Best Quotation From An Eerily Appropriate Movie ($5 certificate): Peter Scoff!
"Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed, but I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops, that is, depending on the breaks."
I have e-mail addresses for all of you except Peter Scoff (please get that to me by midnight Friday, or your prize will go to somebody else!). Give me a day or so to get the prizes out to you--if you haven't received anything from Amazon by Friday, yell at me.
Once again, thanks to everybody for participating. I do the caption thing irregularly, but pretty frequently. It's not always with prizes (this is a non-profit organization), but entertaining all the same. I hope to see you new folks back here again!
China's first astronaut Yang Liwei is in orbit following a successful launch Wednesday morning from the Jiuquan launch site in the western Gobi Desert, state media reports.
Speaking from space, the 38-year-old astronaut reported back to mission controllers that he "feels good" and said the spacecraft is operating normally, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Yang, a former air force pilot, is expected to make 14 orbits in the Shenzhou V spacecraft before returning to Earth at a landing site in Inner Mongolia.
As a space geek, I think this is cool. And while I understand some folks have concern from a defense perspective, I'll observe that China demonstrated long ago its ability to launch stuff into space. Putting a person up there does not alter the equation in the slightest. What this should do, however, is maybe stir the competitive juices again and renew the spirit of our human spaceflight program.
Then the latest Rummy Photo Caption Contest will be closed. Enter below for a chance to win an Amazon gift certificate (one $10 and two $5 certs up for grabs). Join the tens of astute readers who have already contributed dozens of excellent entries to this cheap publicity stunt.
Now's your chance to get that copy of The Matrix: Reloaded or Indiana Jones on DVD that you (and I) have always wanted. Deadline is midnight Eastern time tonight. Winner to be chosen tomorrow by a mysterious process involving some dog toys and quantum physics.
I just wanted to note this before the links disappear and I drop back down to reality: DM has evolved into a Marauding Marsupial, and is currently #439 in the TTLB Ecosystem! The traffic rankings are quite stale, but I would come in at around #319 or so right now.
Here's a snippet from the "partial transcript" of The O'Reilly Factor last week. First Bill plays the last few minutes of his interview with Terry Gross:
For half an hour, Mrs. Gross attempted to embarrass me. Well, finally it came to this.
O'REILLY: I came on to this program to talk about Who's Looking Out for You? And what you've done is thrown every kind of defamation you can in my face. Did you do this to Al Franken? Did you? Did you challenge him on what he said?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had a different interview.
O'REILLY: Yes. A different interview. Okay. Fine, fresh air? Is this what "fresh air" is? I'll get a transcript of this interview --you want me--of the Al Franken interview. You want me to do that, and compare the two?
TERRY GROSS, HOST, FRESH AIR: You're welcome to.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And compared it, too? All right, why don't you tell your listeners right now? Were you as tough on Al Franken as you are on me? No. You weren't.
GROSS: No, I wasn't.
O'REILLY: Okay. Why?
GROSS: Well, Al Franken had written a book of political satire.
O'REILLY: Oh, he was satire now, was it? All right, calling people liars and distorting their faces on the book cover. That's satire now, is it? And my book, Who's Looking Out for You? is designed to help people to show them how they have to know how to read people in the society to succeed. Yet you're easy on Franken and you challenge me. This is NPR.
Okay? I think we all know what this is. I think we all know where you're going with this. Don't we?
GROSS: Well, you could say...
O'REILLY: Yes, don't we?
GROSS: You can think whatever you want to.
O'REILLY: I am. I mean, I'm evaluating this interview very closely. Obviously you are. Now we've spent now, all right, 50 minutes of me being -- defending defamation against me in every possible way, while you gave Al Franken a complete pass on his defamatory book. And if you think that's fair, Terry, then you need to get in another business. I'll tell you that right now. And I'll tell your listeners, if you have the courage to put this on the air, this is basically an unfair interview designed to try to trap me into saying something that Harpers magazine can use. And you know it. And you should be ashamed of yourself. And that is the end of this interview.
Unclear why Terry and Bill are "unidentified" at a couple points in the transcript.
I'll leave aside the paranoia about "trapping him" for Harpers, and the silly little inconsistency about whether it was 30 or 50 minutes of his being defamed. I'll leave aside his understandably only playing his speechifying on his show, and not the thing that set him off (Terry's attempt to read a portion of a review of his latest book), and not her final words (rightly observing that he wanted the last word). I'll leave aside the fact that he sat there and took the "defamation" for 50 minutes, then left pretty much at the point where the interview was over anyway. I'll leave aside that Franken's book was found to not be defamatory. I'll leave aside that Bill didn't even listen to Terry's interview of Al.
I'll let you listen to the full interview to judge Bill's treatment (sorry, no transcript because NPR charges for them). You might also want to listen to the Franken interview.
I'd like to focus on the next section of Bill's show:
O'REILLY: All right, the problem here is not that interview. I should have known better. But it's that I paid for it. And so did you.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (search), which funds NPR, gets a billion dollars a year in taxpayer money. Why is the government allowing a far-left outfit like NPR, which is obviously biased, to operate on taxpayer money?
Joining us now from Capitol Hill is Congressman Cliff Stearns, a Republican from Florida who sits on a committee that oversees NPR.
O'REILLY: I mean, we can send you the transcripts of the whole interview. How would you categorize it?
STEARNS: Well, I think -- she calls it "fresh air." It's probably "biased air" in this case, because frankly, for her to say that the interview with you was a lot tougher than with Al Franken because it was his -- his book was a political satire was not fair because she should have been just as tough with him as she was with you.
As you saw from the transcript of the Fresh Air interview, Terry admitted that indeed her interview was tougher on Bill than on Al Franken. It's not like she hid it. But come on, she was "fair and balanced" throughout, incredibly deferential even when Bill was being an ass. You can see more commentary about the interview in the comments section below. Anyway, poow Biwwy's feewings were huwt, and now he wants his Congwessman guest to spank National Pubwic Wadio.
Here's a snippet from the Inky about Bill's tirade, which apparently was set off by Terry's asking to read a People magazine review of his book:
Though her guest had signed off, Gross continued to read the Kyle Smith review, which begins: "After I unfavorably reviewed the Fox News Channel star's last book, I turned on the TV to find I was [named] 'Most Ridiculous Item of the Day' " on The O'Reilly Factor, which airs weeknights at 8.
In fact, the review (People doesn't have it online, so I'll paraphrase) observed that O'Reilly complained that Smith didn't review the book, but reviewed O'Reilly, and then Bill effectively called Smith a "pinhead". Smith noted that consistency is not Bill's strong suit. Here's what Smith was talking about:
Time now for "The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day."
The celebrity press continues to strike back at your humble correspondent. People magazine scorched my book, The No Spin Zone. The reviewer, Kyle Smith, actually reviewed me rather than the book.
Said Smith, "Archie Bunker in a chalk-striped suit? No, Archie was funny. O'Reilly is the Eeyore of politics, breathlessly elevating fringe groups like the North American Man-Boy Love Association into national calamities. It's a worldview that was silly on September 10, and it's even sillier now."
Of course Mr. Smith has a perfect right to pan the book. But what's ridiculous about his review is that it's so condescending. In the real world, Mr. Smith, Americans are concerned about NAMBLA hiding behind the First Amendment, OK? That's an important issue to a lot of people.
The bottom line here is that many of these media pinheads simply are furious that The No Spin Zone is the best-selling book in America and The Factor is the most-watched cable news program. And they vent their fury whenever possible.
Nothing like an objective review. Review the book, not me, all right? We all know that I'm -- all right, whatever.
Oh, what a target-rich environment. Anyway, how does Bill react to his "treatment" on Fresh Air? Thusly (from the Inky):
I actually enjoyed telling the woman off.
And what does our offended, petulant schoolboy want to do in retaliation? This (from the Fox transcript):
In this age of massive deficits for the federal government, when a lot of the country just is appalled by their conduct at NPR, that you guys got to take aggressive action and say look, either you run the network responsibly, ore you're not getting a nickel. Period.
Grow up, pinhead.
[Update: Check out today's post about Billy by Tom Gevaert at OSP.]
¶ 9:53 AM
Stat Of The Day
WaPo: Nearly one-quarter of the 130,000 U.S. troops in Iraq still have not been issued a new type of ceramic body armor strong enough to stop bullets fired from assault rifles.
If the body armor won't come to our soldiers, maybe our soldiers should go to the body armor. Support our troops: bring them home now.
You must read Jay Bullock's final installment in his No School Left Unfailing series. Having dismantled Bush's "education" legacy in the first two parts, Jay now provides us with some talking points that can help us educate our fellow Americans about the travesty of No Child Left Behind.
BTW, this article happens to be in the Knowledge section at OSP. Somehow in my weakened state, I was suckered into becoming the Section Manager. So now my personal honor is at stake, and you must all read what Jay wrote. It is all about me, afterall. Why else would I pay you to be my friends? Just like when I was a kid.
Speaking of paying you, hurry! The deadline for the latest Rummy caption contest is rapidly approaching: midnight Eastern Time tonight. Enter to win 5 or 10 bucks.
The most recent Gallup Poll shows a mixed set of results on ratings of George W. Bush. The president's job approval rating is up slightly from his previous rating, which was the low point of his presidency. While Bush's overall job rating remains in positive territory, his ratings on the economy, foreign affairs, and Iraq show decline, and now as many Americans disapprove as approve of his handling of these issues. In fact, Bush's ratings on all three issues are as negative as they have been at any time in his presidency...
The poll was conducted Oct. 6-8 and shows Bush's job approval rating at 55%, with 42% disapproving...
It is not immediately clear why Bush's latest approval rating increased over the previous measure, but one cause could be a shift in media attention away from Iraq and to the California recall election. In fact, the California election was the dominant news story during the poll's field period, which encompassed the day before, the day of, and the day after the election.
Ah, the circus distracts the masses, and Bush's halo shines a little. Let's see the next poll...
So I was feeling better yesterday, and came into work today. All of a sudden I found myself almost at work with no memory of the drive, including the dangerous, one-lane underpass I go through. The "swimming pool" feeling has returned, and I wonder if I'm really over this stuff yet. Well, I must stay at the office all day: lots of stuff to catch up on at work, plus I have a meeting this morning, a live online class in the afternoon, and then I'm meeting some folks for some location scouting for a local indy movie. Ugh. We'll see what tomorrow brings...
pale morning moon hangs
low above leaves red and gold
bright october day
¶ 10:06 AM
Shorter William Safire
I won't come right out and say it but Howard Dean's a liar because he's done a lousy job trying to correct a misquotation of what he said about the deaths of Uday and Qusay. As proof I offer hearsay from a meeting that you will never be able to find online, plus I'll mislead you by telling you I found an astounding 368 hits on Google when I searched for "ends justify the means" and "Dean" and somehow I dug up this one article* that doesn't really prove my point but I'm going to force it to anyway.
(thanks alert reader Bill S)
*NTodd got 1250 hits on Google, including articles by Annthrax Coulter and stuff not related to this subject at all, and could not find the article cited with the search terms Safire used. In fact, even when searching for "holly ramer" (who wrote the AP story quoted) and "dean", all I could find were excerpts from the article, not the article itself.
SecDef Rumsfeld desribes how Ba'athists just jump out of nowhere to attack US troops.
Okay, this looks wicked odd, but the lingering effects of my fever are causing me trouble and I need help with the caption. A contest is thus officially announced. You have until midnight Tuesday to offer your best caption(s) for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift certificate. C'mon, this is a target-rich environment, so captionize...
[Update: 11 13 19ALOT of excellent entries so far from 6 8 12ALOT of different contestants! BTW, Anonymous, I'm assuming you were submitting the Sir-Mix-A-Lot thingy as an entry--gimme your e-mail address if you want a chance to win the Amazon cert. Same for you, OOS. Anywayz, let's see some more! And tell all your friends about this cheap publicity stunt!!!]
[Exciting update: with so many entries coming in, The Management has decided to create 2 runner-up prizes of 5 bucks each. Yes, it's damn generous of The Management. Someday, The Management hopes to reverse its stupid dot-com business model and follow Atrios' lead. Until then, we pay you to read. What could be better than that? Really, if you find out, lemme know...]
PS--I'll need your e-mail address to send you the gift cert.
¶ 8:53 PM
A More Informed Take On The Iraqi Shia
Very informative post over at Juan Cole's Informed Comment about Muqtada al-Sadr's movement and shadow government:
The Western press keeps saying that the extent of Muqtada's influence is unknown. I'd guess he has about 2 million followers in Iraq. It is a guess, but an educated one. The reporters are confused that they are told by mainstream Shiites that Muqtada is too young and inexperienced to have such influence. But he leads a sectarian movement, not a mainstream one. In American terms, Muqtada is more like David Koreish, and Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani is more like an Episcopalian bishop. Except that Muqtada has a huge following compared to any American sect I know of.
Muqtada's forces clashed with US troops Thursday night, producing casualties on both sides. A spokesman for Muqtada in Baghdad announced Saturday that the US military command had apologized to the Sadrists for the incident and expressed regret for the loss of life (two Iraqis had died, as well as two US troops).
A cyber-friend wrote me of Iraq..."The Hawza doesn't need to back a guerilla war, as they've got people power. Khomeini certainly didn't need a guerilla war. Unless the U.S. military institutes a Saddam like slaughter and oppression, the Shia' are going to be very difficult to control. Looks to me like they've got a tiger by the tail, as they are expending blood and money putting down the Sunni/Baathist rebellion, while the Hawza is quietly strengthening and consolidating it's position."
Half of registered voters polled say they would not like to see Bush re-elected, while 44 percent would re-elect him to another term.
Despite his wavering support, Bush still leads all the potential Democratic candidates, in part because no clear leader has emerged from the pack of Democratic contenders.
Once things shake out from the Democratic nomination process, I think we'll see Bush's lead shrink. I wish some of the "lower tier" Dems would drop out. Sorry, but it's clear they haven't been able to garner support for whatever reason. Let's focus our money and energy on the folks at the top so we can concentrate on job number one: dumping Bush in '04.
In the long, wide ranging comment thread below (Shorter George Bush), I observed that humanitarian issues do not inform Bush's agenda. I was asked what I thought his agenda was, and I replied:
He clearly has a corporatist agenda that doesn't give a damn about the environment, vulnerable populations, the rule of law, the sovereignty of other nations, etc. He subscribes only to "might makes right", and believes that America should be able to do whatever the hell it wants, the rest of the world be damned.
There was disagreement. Allow me to offer exhibit A, regarding the environment:
The Bush administration is proposing far-reaching changes to conservation policies that would allow hunters, circuses and the pet industry to kill, capture and import animals on the brink of extinction in other countries.
Per usual, BushCo claims that this will help pay for conservation of said endangered species. As Adam Roberts of the Animal Welfare Institute says, "It's a very dangerous precedent to decide that wildlife exploitation is in the best interest of wildlife." Not unlike his so-called Healthy Forests Initiative and Clear Skies Initiative: make it easier and cheaper for corporations to achieve their ends at the expense of the environment, but couch it in friendly-sounding, Orwellian language.
I point you to a couple OSP posts on the subject of Bush's dangerous environmental policies:
Bush has an agenda that is shortsighted, to say the least. I of course cannot divine what his actual motives are, but it seems to me he has only one thing in mind: reward his corporate pals in the worst kind of corrupt crony capitalism we've ever seen, at the expense of the rest of us.
The other elements in my list above (e.g., Bush ignoring the rule of law) are left as an exercise for the reader to prove or disprove. I think you'll find that Bush policies are double plus ungood, and that everything this administration touches turns to Vietnam.
PS--Sorry, Dom. "No Bush/Cheney Week" has been postponed.
¶ 9:02 AM
An apparent suicide car bomb Sunday hit the Baghdad Hotel -- where U.S. officials are believed to have been housed -- killing at least seven people and wounding 40 others, Iraqi officials said.
The force of the explosion reduced parts of the hotel and nearby structures to rubble and shattered windows blocks away. Smoke from blast, CNN Correspondent Harris Whitbeck said, was so heavy "it literally looked like night had fallen."
I made my wife watch the South Park movie tonight. Stef sees its merits, though is not sufficiently positive in her review of the movie. I find it to be a brilliant commentary on our times, though it was made several years ago--plus it's got fricking awesome, inventive swearing.
I did it: I left the house. Made Stef drive me around to see the foliage. We went through Smuggler's Notch, which was gorgeous, albeit a bit scary with all the flatlanders driving a little carelessly around the steep, narrow, blind curves. Up to the Trapp Lodge in Stowe, where we let the dog run around a bit after I got some (conventional) pictures of wild turkeys. Then home as the sun set and geese flew overhead on to warmer climes.
PPPS--There's a really long discussion between me and "wonderful day/blow me/touchy", not really on topic but sorta tangental...and Dom and the farmer (from corrente) are engaged...and amy (from blogAmY) too! Why aren't YOU commenting? Join the longest thread in DM history today!
[Update: I was asked why the comments count appears to be shrinking. It's a silly thing with HaloScan. The comments don't disappear, but HS "loses count" when you go beyond a certain threshold, which I think is 200 total comments on your blog. Anywayz, this was indeed the longest discussion here ever, clocking in at I think 101 posts. Bow before me and my mighty blog!]
¶ 2:26 PM
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says the U.S. has decided to offer security guarantees to North Korea as part of a deal to end Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.
Such an offer -- to be presented at the next round of six-party talks -- would represent a major change in direction of policy for the White House in its dealings with Pyongyang to try and curb the North's nuclear ambitions during the 12-month stand off.
North Korea has repeatedly said it will not give up its weapons program until it has a guarantee the U.S. will not attack.
I sense Powell's having a little rational influence on the administration. Could it be they're finally realizing that their old belligerent approach to life's little problems doesn't work? Hey, after the DoD screwed the pooch in Iraq, maybe the cooler heads at State are getting the upper hand...
Delivering Friday sermon, [anti-U.S. firebrand Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr] asked his followers to demonstrate peacefully if they agreed to his self-declared government, which includes several ministries, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).
"I have decided and I have formed a government made up of several ministries, including ministries of justice, finance, information, interior, foreign affairs, endowments and the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice," Sadr told Shiite worshipers.
Demonstrators gathered Saturday in front of Sadr's office on a narrow street next to Imam Ali shrine in central An-Najaf, an AFP correspondent reported.
"We are ready to sacrifice our souls for you, Sadr," they chanted as they roamed the streets of the city, 180 kilometers (110 miles) south of Baghdad.
Sadr, who heads the thousands-strong Mehdi Army, was ignored by the U.S.-led occupation authority while forming the interim Governing Council, said AFP.
# 10. "Governor, when you realize you don't know what you're doing, give me a call"
# 9. "Body-building oil will stain the mansion's Italian silk sofa"
# 8. "Listen to your constituents -- except Michael Jackson"
# 7. "(Sorry, joke number 7 was recalled)"
# 6. "To improve your approval rating, go on Leno -- when you get kicked out, go on Letterman"
# 5. "Study the master -- George W. Bush" (laughs) "Ah, I"m just kidding"
# 4. "You could solve the deficit problem by donating your salary from 'Terminator 3'"
# 3. "If things are bad, just yell, 'Save us, Superman!'"
# 2. "While giving speech, never say, 'Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara...same thing'"
# 1. "It's pronounced 'California'"
The Camera Watch project is part of our Surveillance of Surveillances (SOS) effort. We are constructing a repository of links to publicly available on-line webcams, where the webcams of interest are those that observe the public in public spaces. At present, we estimate there are about 10,000 such cameras displaying public places in the United States. Our goals are to assess the number and nature of such cameras, explore potential uses, and analyze and propose related policies and best practices.
Only a few cams listed so far. It is a little disconcerting, but I guess if you're innocent, or don't pick your nose in public, you have nothing to fear...