Saturday, January 03, 2004

More on the angry left
TNR is also doing some good:

"Among the more entertaining political trends noted is the rise of the liberal-hate phenomenon. After a long, wearying stretch of demonization and evisceration by mad-dog conservatives such as Bill O'Reilly and Ann Coulter, the political left has at last unleashed its own breed of attack pundit. Angry, bile-spewing lefties like Michael Moore and Janeane Garofalo are working furiously to level the playing field, penning books and filling the airwaves with the kind of frothing rants that would make Rush Limbaugh proud.

Predictably, this development has been met with hand wringing by the mainstream media, which fear further debasement of political debate. "[T]he new leftist screeds seem to solidify a rising political culture of incivility and overstatement," sighs The New York Times Magazine. Time concurs: [T]hese broadsides make politics less about issues than tactics. They're long on ad hominem and short on substance. They're less interested in convincing anyone ... than in whipping up their own berserkers." And while admitting personal glee over right-wing bullies getting their comeuppance, Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman bemoans "the rant" as "a driving force in the polarization of politics. We don't do ambivalence anymore. Nuance be damned. The middle ground is mush for wimps."

Poppycock. I for one happen to think this liberal-hate phenomenon is great news. Not, as conservatives would contend, because the mainstream media is awash with liberal bias and itching to see the likes of O'Reilly driven from our exalted ranks. But because what the O'Reillys and Coulters and Sean Hannitys do has never been about journalism or serious political commentary. It's always been about demagoguery and show business. Problem is, the lack of a countervailing pack of wingnut showmen on the left has, until now, allowed the O'Reillys and Hannitys to spend their days posing as the conservative equivalent of left-leaning journalists like Goodman, Margaret Carlson, Clarence Page, etc.--that is, media folk who may have a political bias, but who aren't primarily bomb-lobbers and whose on-air debating technique is constrained by the occasional concern for facts or balance or nuance."


Diary of an undermining jackass
TNR has started a blog called "Diary of a Dean-o-phobe." I'm not Dean's biggest fan, but this pisses me off. He's clearly going to smash the competition at this point. What the hell are they doing? It's too late for this kind of a stunt.

Kerry dropping hard
Watching Kerry's points fall is almost a sport.

Dean didn't secure power plant
It appears that Dean was warned about lax security at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant while he was a governor:

"Security was so lax at Vermont Yankee that in August 2001, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission staged a drill in which three mock terrorists gained access to the plant. The agency gave Vermont Yankee the worst security rating among the nation's 103 reactors.


State Auditor Ready, a Democrat and Dean backer, agreed things improved after her critical 2002 report and that security tests this year showed Vermont Yankee was safer. "Once Governor Dean got that report there was swift and thorough action," she said.

But even after Ready's report recommended the state's nuclear preparedness spending triple from $400,000 to $1.2 million, Dean budgeted only half the increase.

That led Dean's state emergency management director, Ed von Turkovich, to tell the Legislature in 2002 that the increase to $800,000 "does not cover the expenses related to the program" and that Vermont's nuclear preparedness was "in trouble, grossly underfunded, under-resourced and has been for years."

The lack of preparedness was blamed in the 2002 audit on inadequate funds. "Vermont receives the least amount of funding for its Radiological Emergency Response Plan, in total dollars, of any New England state that hosts a nuclear power plant," the audit disclosed.

The audit was not the first warning to Dean, documents show."

Looks like Dean pulled a Bush

Coulter gets desperate?
A tiny blog I stumbled upon has quite the post: Is Ann Coulter reviewing her own book? The evidence is impressive.

Republicans against states' rights
Here's a headline that says it all: As Republicans gain power, enthusiasm for states' rights wanes.

That's that Republicans control the federal government, they're starting to like it a lot more.

Croc Hunter in Trouble
The Crocodile Hunter was holding his son while feeding a crocodile Friday. He defended it like this:

"Crocodile hunter Steve Irwin has defended his decision to hold his baby son while feeding a crocodile, saying it was important to teach kids about danger."

Important to teach kids about danger? Here's a picture of the act:

Does that kid look like he's learning something?

We can just give up then
Pat Robertson helps us predict the future:

NORFOLK, Va. - Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson said Friday he believes God has told him President Bush (news - web sites) will be re-elected in a "blowout" in November.

"I think George Bush is going to win in a walk," Robertson said on his "700 Club" program on the Virginia Beach-based Christian Broadcasting Network, which he founded. "I really believe I'm hearing from the Lord it's going to be like a blowout election in 2004. It's shaping up that way."

Robertson told viewers he spent several days in prayer at the end of 2003.

"The Lord has just blessed him," Robertson said of Bush. "I mean, he could make terrible mistakes and comes out of it. It doesn't make any difference what he does, good or bad, God picks him up because he's a man of prayer and God's blessing him."

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, a frequent Robertson critic and executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said he had a prediction of his own: "Pat Robertson in 2004 will continue to use his multimillion broadcasting empire to promote George Bush and other Republican candidates."

In a reference to Bush's political adviser, Lynn said, "Maybe Pat got a message from Karl Rove and thought it was from God."

Now how could we possibly argue that?

Lookie here
It appears that Dean only trails Bush by five points. Considering that most people allegedly don't even know who he is, the fact that Dean has 46% of the vote lined up is impressive at this point. He appears to have taken 5 points from the undecided column two months ago, which was previously at 8% and is now at 3%. If those 3% happened to swing Dean's way, and the margin of error is factored in, we have quite the race going.

Friday, January 02, 2004

Go see Burton's latest
I strongly recommend that everyone find the nearest theater playing Big Fish, Tim Burton's latest movie. It's fantastic.

Bush vs. Global Warming
One of the biggest intellectual shortcomings of conservatives is thinking that big companies will regulate themselves when it comes to pollution. This assumes that big companies' executives give a shit. Not many companies are going to join Bush's new group, but the ones that do are only doing it to get the feds off their back. And that will work.

Who is Nader now?
Krugman's latest is top notch.

From criminal to columnist
Ollie North confronted some conspiracy theories in his latest column:

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- It's hard to say exactly when the Democrats decisively left the reservation, for the parallel universe that exists only in their own imaginations. In their world, Bill Clinton was impeached solely because Republicans were "trying to overturn the election"; Al Gore would be president today if only Jeb Bush hadn't stolen the election in Florida; and Osama bin Laden is a CIA operative who orchestrated Sept. 11 to justify the end of civil liberties in the United States. This litany of conspiracy theories barely scratches the surface of the paranoid mentality that currently infects American liberals. [emphasis mine]

Did he just group two undeniable truths with the most ridiculous theory I've (n)ever heard? You know what proves that I might live in an alternate universe, Ollie? I'm a little bit baffled that a guy who helped illegally fund terrorists and then lied to Congress about it could still be a public figured. But maybe I'm just a crazy Democrat, huh?

Dean gets it wrong on race
Mickey Kaus makes a good point on Dean's recent statement that "Dealing with race is about educating white folks." He notes that this merely alienates the Southern white votes Dean is trying to pander to. On top of that, it's plain wrong. There are a LOT of problems involving race, and while it might make some sleep better, it's not all Whitey's fault.

Gay community helped Dean in the beginning
The SFGate has an article on how Dean's early boost was from the gay community:

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean's record-setting fund raising first took off in large part because of an outpouring of support from the gay community.

With just one exception, every fund-raiser Dean attended outside Vermont in 2002 was organized by gay men and lesbians, as were more than half the events in the first quarter of 2003, according to Dean advisers.

"The early foundation of Governor Dean's presidential campaign -- both in fund raising and organization -- was built by the support of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community around the country," said Dean finance director Stephanie Schriock.

The gay community "was the first to recognize Dean's strength of character after his leadership on Vermont's civil union legislation, and because of that, they were the first to open up their homes for events and ask their friends and colleagues to give money to this endeavor," she added.

This early backing provided a foundation for Dean to expand his core support to include voters opposed to the Iraq war, angry at President Bush, embittered by the outcome of the 2000 election and discontented with what they saw as a Democratic Party establishment without backbone.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

Chucky strikes out
Chuck Colson's latest article talks about the good things that have happened in 2003. Well, they're good if you are a political moron, like Chuck Colson. Let's see some of what he has to say, shall we?

"As to the high stakes of AIDS in Africa—19 million already dead with 13 million AIDS orphans—soon after our broadcast, President Bush in his State of the Union Address proposed $15 billion for AIDS relief. His bill has been signed into law and maintains an emphasis on abstinence and making sure that faith-based organizations are not denied access to funds. This was a great foreign policy victory for the president and an even greater victory for those suffering from that dreaded disease."

Too bad Bush is backing away from it, huh? Because if he weren't backing away from it, that would certainly be a great event. Unfortunately, he's backing away from it. So it could be much better, Chuck.

"On the biotechnology front, the United Nations continues to get closer to calling for a worldwide ban on human cloning. Progress is slow, but we’re moving forward."

For a man who claims to be so determined to battle diseases, he sure does seem to be opposed to thing that battle diseases.

I could confront the rest of his column, but it's pretty much just Colson's usual "who needs facts when you have glasses?" approach.

Thoughts from the ME
Collective Sigh notes that the Iranian vice president has a blog.

Budget cuts in Cali.
It should be interesting to see how Arnold's budget cuts work out:

"Education is also expected to share the burden, despite Schwarzenegger's campaign promise to protect school funding."

That's a shame, because if there is one thing that a population that just elected Arnold is desperately in need of....

How now, mad cow?
With all this fear of mad cow, it makes me feel better to know that Bush willing be eating as much of it as possible in order to reassure us.

NRO gets it wrong
al Qaeda training videos were found in Baghdad. The right has jumped all over this. "I thought they weren't sponsoring terror, so how'd they get to Baghdad?" Well, And Then... puts it the best:

" guess is that they "got there" the same way the Paris Hilton sex tape made it from California to Bangor in less than a week. The people with copies of the Paris Hilton sex tape didn't necessarily have sex with Paris Hilton. They simply like sex."

Amen. When it comes to "tying" accusation A to person B it's quites easy to nitpick. The right knows this because they do it constantly (think Vince Foster). But when you step back and try not being a moron for a little bit, things come into focus.

Chief Justice lashes out at Congress
Rehnquist had some choice words for Congress:

"WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The nation's top judge has sharply criticized Congress over the issues of judicial salaries and laws tightening federal sentencing guidelines.

In his annual report on the federal judiciary, Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist said Congress should have sought the judiciary's advice before limiting judges' ability to impose lighter sentences.

Relations between the federal court system and Congress "broke down" over passage of the Protect Act in May, Rehnquist said. The law sharply reduces the number of criminal sentences a judge can impose that fall below ranges in federal sentencing guidelines. These sentences are known as "downward departures."

Supporters of the law say it will ensure that criminals receive the maximum sentence allowed under the law.

But according to Rehnquist, "the Protect Act was enacted without any consideration of the views of the Judiciary."

For judges, it's a matter of judicial independence, Rehnquist said. They want as much discretion as possible in imposing sentences, although Congress can form sentencing rules.

"Somewhat troubling" to Rehnquist is a provision in the law that allows downward departure information to be collected for each judge.

"The subject matter of the questions Congress may pose about judges' decisions, and whether they target the judicial decisions of individual federal judges, could appear to be an unwarranted and ill-considered effort to intimidate individual judges in the performance of their judicial duties," he said.

In May, when the law was enacted, Rehnquist expressed similar concern over the sentencing guidelines, calling them a matter of "judicial independence."

Does Rehnquist have a case, or is he just sticking with his judicial background?

I am back
I hope you're ready for a serious continuation of the blogging.

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Happy New Year
I'll be taking what may well be my first 24-hour break from blogging since KtL began, as I head up to the Poconos for the night and much of tomorrow. Have a good one, folks, see you next year.

Paul sets it straight
Krugman gives us the lowdown on the alleged boom.

Terror in Times Square
Does Christopher Shays know something we don't?

"Make an example of him"
James Miller, a full-time idiot, argues that in Saddam's case, a trial would just contaminate justice, so we should just ditch it altogether and make an example of him. An example of what? Certainly not the effectiveness of the justice system.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Dumbest Quotes of the Year
The Ten Dumbest Political Quotes of 2003, with inept commentary:

#10: "I think that gay marriage should be between a man and a woman." —Arnold Schwarzenegger, during the California recall campaign
As opposed to his own sex life, where the more people the merrier.

#9: When U.S. interrogators asked Saddam Hussein how he was, he responded: "I am sad because my people are in bondage." When offered a glass of water, he replied: "If I drink water I will have to go to the bathroom and how can I use the bathroom when my people are in bondage?"

#8: "You think you are big enough to make me, you little wimp? Come on, come over here and make me, I dare you…You little fruitcake. You little fruitcake. I said you are a fruitcake." —Rep. Peter Stark (D-Calif.) to Rep. Scott McInnis (R-Colo.), after McInnis told him to "shut up" during a legislative dispute
And they say liberal anger is a bad thing.

#7: "George Bush was not elected by a majority of the voters in the United States. He was appointed by God." —Lt. Gen. William Boykin, the defense undersecretary in charge of hunting down top terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan
I find this more frightening than funny. The sentiment itself is hilarious, but the fact that this man actually holds a position of power is not.

#6: "My vision is to make the most diverse state on earth, and we have people from every planet on the earth in this state. We have the sons and daughters of every, of people from every planet, of every country on earth." —Former California Gov. Gray Davis, during the recall campaign
What's so funny about this? Oh....ohhh! Hahaha. Good stuff.

#5: "I still want to be the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks." —Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean
This seriously isn't funny. If it is, it's not funnier than everything so far.

#4: "Maybe we need a very small nuke thrown off on Foggy Bottom to shake things up like Newt Gingrich wants to do." —Television evangelist and Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson, on wiping out the State Department
Oh Pat, that tickles me.

#3: "My answer is bring 'em on." —President George W. Bush, challenging militants attacking U.S. forces in Iraq
Again, not funny. Only because his idiocy ends up with soldiers dead.

#2: "Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don't know we don't know." —Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
Ah yes, the master of the interview.

And the award for the Dumbest Quote of 2003:

"I triple guarantee you. There are no American infidels in Baghdad." —Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf (AKA "Baghdad Bob")
OK OK....I admit....I believed him.

Revelations about terror plots
Buried deep in this article about air marshals was buried a very important FBI insight to terrorist plans:

An FBI alert issued Christmas Eve advised local and state law-enforcement officials to look for almanacs when conducting traffic stops that terrorists may use "to assist with target selection and pre-operational planning."
"The practice of researching potential targets is consistent with known methods of al Qaida and other terrorist organizations that seek to maximize the likelihood of operational success through careful planning," the memo said.

A-ha! Before I thought they were bad guys, but now I know that they must be evil. However, I'm still worried about the terrorist groups who get together and then immediately sprint out the door, making up their plot as they run towards major cities.

Texas new addition to Axis of Evil
We've spent all this time looking for WMD in Iraq...turns out they were in Texas all along:

So when authorities showed up last April and searched Krar's storage unit in Noonday, what was found shocked everyone.

"This was a huge arsenal, absolutely a huge arsenal of military style weapons," said Britt Featherson, a U.S. Attourney.


Raise the minimum wage
Calpundit shares my sentiments on the minimum wage.

A slower recovery
Is the hope of a strong recovery fading away?

"Three sets of disappointing US data on Tuesday undermined the belief in a strong US recovery with a fall in a closely-watched sentiment indicator prompting some concern about consumer activity.

The Conference Board's survey of consumer confidence came in below expectations, with the main index slipping by 1.2 points to a reading of 91.3 in December. The decline follows a similar fall by the University of Michigan index. The downwards pressure came from a slide in the present conditions component, which dipped to 73.9 from 81. The expectations measure rose to 102.9 from 100.1.

The pace of manufacturing activity in Chicago also eased in December. The index is often viewed as a good indicator for the national survey due on Friday. Following strong rises in other regional surveys, many economists had expected a similar rise in the Chicago survey although a few had predicted a pullback from November's strong rise. The index slipped to 59.2 from a surprisingly strong 64.1 last month. The figures were disappointing but the index remains well above the 50 level separating expansion and contraction."

Things still look like they're moving up, but the pace may not be what some expected.

U.S. cozying to Iran
Is America warming up to Iran? Honestly, while this may seem like a good thing, from a certain perspective it might not be at all...being friendly with tyrants is never a good thing. They say there is a certain amount of liberal hypocrisy in that we say alienating governments is bad, but warming up to bad governments is bad also. Well, it's not hypocritical...liberals know about something conservatives can't comprehend..."striking a balance." You see, we still need to be firm with Iran, but we can't call them evil and discard them. After all...they have oil.

Kerry throwing money out
Instead of spending $6 million on his fledgling campaign, Kerry could be helping out his community. Honestly, without much hope of winning any primaries, I'm not seeing why he persists (or why he manages to grab so many headlines).

Life for cheating on a test
The three strike system at its best:

A federal appeals court upheld a prison sentence of 26 years to life Monday for a Southern California man whose third strike consisted of trying to take the written portion of a driver's license test for his illiterate cousin.

Santos Reyes was convicted of perjury for filling out an application, under penalty of perjury, in his cousin's name. Reyes was caught using a crib sheet on the test in September 1997 at a Department of Motor Vehicles office in San Bernardino, was stopped by an officer as he left the building and admitted the deception, saying his cousin had previously failed the written exam, prosecutors said. Reyes testified later that he wanted the cousin to have a license so they could both work as roofers.

Changing the world, one blog at a time
The USA Today has an article on the importance of bloggers.

Church attacks Blair
In the Guardian:

"Tony Blair came under attack from two of the Church of England's most senior figures yesterday for acting "like a white vigilante" and for lacking humility in forging ahead with the war on Iraq."

As opposed to the normal vigilante, who is apparently black.

"In the most outspoken outburst, the Bishop of Durham, Tom Wright, accused religious conservatives surrounding the US president, George Bush, of espousing "a very strange distortion of Christianity" - particularly since, through Iraq's reconstruction, many would gain financially.

"For Bush and Blair to go into Iraq together was like a bunch of white vigilantes going into Brixton to stop drug dealing. This is not to deny there's a problem to be sorted, just that they are not credible people to deal with it," he said.

In a separate rebuke, the Archbishop of York, David Hope, questioned the legitimacy of the war and said Mr Blair would have to answer to God - a "higher authority" - for his decision to forge ahead with the conflict.

He called on people to pray for Mr Blair and called on him to show more humility rather than exercising power in an authoritarian way. Referring to Iraq, he said: "One of the qualities of a good leader is that they have to be really attentive to the views of the people. It seemed at one stage that that was not happening."

Monday, December 29, 2003

Wither VP Edwards?
Edwards said today he wasn't interested in being Vice President. However, as a young politician with no where to go but up, I can't see him turning down the position if offered.

1 in 10 jobless
Someone is finally talking about the actual jobless rate, which, when adding the numbers of those who have stopped looking for jobs and the underemployed, is 9.7%.

Chemical/Biological attack in 2 days?
Israeli intelligence warned of a non-conventional attack on New Year's Eve. I have nothing to say to that, except that I hope they don't hit suburban Pennsylvania.

al Qaeda in Iraq
When Saddam was captured, conservatives said things like "Now that Saddam is captured, the resistance will wither away," and liberals said things like "No, you idiots, the resistance is comprised primarily of anti-American fundamentalists." The liberals were right, but even when that becomes increasingly obvious, no one brings it up.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Ivins accused of fabled "joke theft"
Apparently it's a big deal when Molly Ivins steals a joke about Arnold. When conservatives can't combat a smart liberal's ideas...that is, always...they like to find petty bullshit and demand a resignation.

al Qaeda lying to us?
It appears some lawmakers have said that al Qaeda may be making up terror threats just to scare us. What problem solvers those lawmakers are, eh?

Kerry keeps attacking Bush. Just kidding.
Of all the candidates, John Kerry manages to piss me off the most. He's not that far from my views, true, but he certainly manages to attack Dean as much as possible. Drop out, Johnny, your chances are shot.

CentCom spins the losses
Atrios made an interesting observation about CentCom's casualty reports.