March 31, 2005

The Great Circus Debate

Good Grief the media coverage of Terri Schiavo has sucked. It has sucked on so many levels that it's hard to document. Let's try. A good starting place is Salon's Eric Boehlert:

It was fitting that reporters were in danger of outnumbering pro-life supporters outside Terri Schiavo's hospice in Pinellas Park, Fla., on Thursday morning. When one man began to play the trumpet moments after Schiavo's death was announced at 9:50 a.m., a gaggle of cameramen quickly surrounded him, two or three deep.

Has there ever been a set of protesters so small, so out of proportion, so outnumbered by the press, for a story that had supposedly set off a "furious debate" nationwide? That's how described the Schiavo story this week. Although it's not clear how a country can have a "furious debate" when two-thirds of its citizens agree on the issue or, in the case of some Schiavo poll questions (i.e., Were Congress and President Bush wrong to intervene?), four out of five Americans agree.

The natural tendency is to call this whole event a circus, which New Donkey believes is an insult to clowns. It's time to start placing bets on the exact moment that the media bubble bursts. My bet is Monday morning or sooner if the Pope dies.


Greeting the news of Terri Shiavo's Death the always classy Tom Delay:

Mrs. Schiavo's death is a moral poverty and a legal tragedy. This loss happened because our legal system did not protect the people who need protection most, and that will change. The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior, but not today. Today we grieve, we pray, and we hope to God this fate never befalls another. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Schindlers and with Terri Schiavo's friends in this time of deep sorrow."

Just who is the Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives threatening and with what?

March 29, 2005

Men are From...

So I read about Veronica Mars on Salon and think "I don't have to finish my master's thesis for a couple of months let's watch some TV." I dig this show. It really hits the spot for Buffy the Vampire junkies that are completely off the wagon with even Angel gone from the air. I got a soft spot for wise-cracking blonds. Super-sleuth or kung-fu, it doesn't matter. It's really the sarcasm that will keep me coming back for more. That and the hotness.


I'm totally into the empowering power of blogs, but do you really have to empower so many? It's getting damn hard to log onto blogger these days. Buy some more servers already.

It is with great pleasure that I announce that I have just received my very first check from Google Adsense. It's not much, but blogging now not just a way to waste time. A big thanks to all my readers. And a really big thank you to everyone who clicked on an ad. In fact I take back that first part. I only want to thank the people who clicked on the ads. Good work.

Legal and even predictable, if ghoulish.

Can't really add to this:

The parents of Terri Schiavo have authorized a conservative direct-mailing firm to sell a list of their financial supporters, making it likely that thousands of strangers moved by her plight will receive a steady stream of solicitations from anti-abortion and conservative groups.

"These compassionate pro-lifers donated toward Bob Schindler's legal battle to keep Terri's estranged husband from removing the feeding tube from Terri," says a description of the list on the Web site of the firm, Response Unlimited, which is asking $150 a month for 6,000 names and $500 a month for 4,000 e-mail addresses of people who responded last month to an e-mail plea from Ms. Schiavo's father. "These individuals are passionate about the way they value human life, adamantly oppose euthanasia and are pro-life in every sense of the word!"

Privacy experts said the sale of the list was legal and even predictable, if ghoulish.

In other news, Craigorian Chant Senior UK Reporter and noted abstinence advocate Chris has found this gem of a Music Video.

March 28, 2005

Monday Shorts

God really has it in for Indonesia.

Profound thoughts on Tom Delay's hypocrisy.

Iraq: Where a U.S. soldier dead every day is improvement. Because last month we lost two a day and four a day in January.

Michael Moore: Correct.

March 27, 2005

Music Sunday

Check out this Damien Rice fellow. Great stuff.

The Boss inducts U2 into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:

Now Larry, of course, besides being an incredible drummer, bears the burden of being the band's requisite "good-looking member," something we somehow overlooked in the E Street Band. We have to settle for "charismatic." Girls love on Larry Mullen. I have a female assistant that would like to sit on Larry's drum stool. A male one, too. We all have our crosses to bear.
Now, personally, I live an insanely expensive lifestyle that my wife barely tolerates. I burn money, and that calls for huge amounts of cash flow. But, I also have a ludicrous image of myself that keeps me from truly cashing in. You can see my problem. Woe is me. So the next morning, I call up Jon Landau (or as I refer to him, "the American Paul McGuinness"), and I say, "Did you see that iPod thing?" and he says, "Yes." And he says, "And I hear they didn't take any money." And I said, "They didn't take any money?" and he says, "No." I said, "Smart, wily Irish guys. Anybody anybody can do an ad and take the money. But to do the ad and not take the money... that's smart. That's wily."

Put your music picks up in comments. What did you buy/download lately? Broaden my horizons.

March 26, 2005

Push Back

The Schiavo case has entered it's final stages. All the legal stuff has played out, but the poor woman is not yet gone. Everyone brace yourselves for a big hearty round of "Liberals Kill Terri." It's going to be a staple of right-wing fund raising rhetoric for years to come. I for one am not going to stand for it. Time for a push back. Joe Carlson has the best pushback point:

While exploiting Schiavo's tragedy for maximum impact, these opportunity probably won't dwell on the most salient political fact about those awful judges who have ruled so consistently in favor of Schiavo's husband and against her parents. Most of those tyrannical jurists happen to be Republicans, too.
When the Schindlers appealed Whittemore's decision to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, a three-judge panel rejected their plea for a stay. Of the two judges who ruled against the Schindlers, Ed Carnes is a conservative Republican appointed by former President George H.W. Bush, and Frank Hull is a moderate Democrat appointed by Clinton. The dissenting judge, who supported the Schindlers' plea, was Charles Wilson -- another Clinton appointee.

Republican appointed judges ruled against the reinsertion of the feeding tube. Bush is taking a hit on this. Fight back against bullies and they will run.

Go to Majikthise and The Gladflyer for more good push back points.

March 25, 2005

Game Review: The Political Machine

I have finally gotten both my hands on The Political Machine and the time to play it. The Political Machine is a computer game that combines both my addiction to politics and my addiction to computer strategy games. And what that adds up to is a wonderful waste of time. PM puts you in the role of a campaign manager for the 2004 political race. In addition to the very recent Bush v Kerry or Bush v Gore you can do match-ups like Condi Rice v Hillary Clinton or Howard Taft v Arnold or whatever you want. You have all the moves of the modern campaign, including fundraising, speeches, ads, and slimly political operatives. Political issues are done very well. They move up and down in importance depending on the attention that you give them. If you spend a lot of time and money on outsourcing of jobs you can increase both your standing on the issue and how important people feel it is. Fun, cartoonish graphics give the whole thing a light, funny feel.

This game reminds about the line about the dancing bear: “You don't knock the bear's dance, you are just impressed that the bear is dancing at all.” I love the idea of this game and had fun playing it. But, there is a long list of things that I would change about this game. There are no primaries or debates. There are a lot of stats for each candidate like experience and intelligence and I have no idea how they affect the game. I should have different strategies running the campaign of Arnold or Al Gore, but the game give me little hint of how to take advantage of the strength and avoid the weaknesses of each. More depth is needed in almost every part of this game.

That said, it's fun and easy to play and you don't need to be a total political junkie to play. Hurray for the dancing bear!

Quote of the Day

"What this issue has done is it has galvanized people the way nothing could have done in an off-election year. That is what I see as the blessing that dear Terri's life is offering to the conservative Christian movement in America."

Lou Sheldon, Conservative Vulture.

March 24, 2005

All Schiavo, All Bad

The only piece of news that invaded my warm cocoon of city planning workshops was the Schiavo Case. I think everyone should prepare a living will that instruct your family not to make a national spectacle of you should you become a vegetable. At a certain point everything real just fades away and gets replaced by the sheer circus of it all. The unbelievable crap that is making it onto the air is well documented on MediaMatters. DailyKos says that this is going to bite the GOP while TNR makes the case that the GOP will win by losing.

Return of The King

Did you miss me? Been building myself up academically and professionally at the National Convention of the American Planning Association. San Francisco is just a great town to hang out in. I had Chinese food in Chinatown and had a hooker try and hit me up for business in the Tenderloin so I think I checked off my complete checklist for SF. Thanks to noted sex expert Chris and aggrieved white boy Tyler for putting up some posts while I was away.

March 21, 2005

Something better than that old lame Horse?

Affirmative Action is a divisive issue in the United States. Thousands of colleges, federal/state agencies, businesses, etc. use this program to promote diversity and aid in helping minorities raise their educational and financial position in society. Stakeholders are bitterly divided as to the success or failure of Affirmative Action. Whether you're opposed to or in favor of AA, the program is clearly not working. Take a look at some statistics from the "big three" jobs. Of course by that I mean doctors, lawyers and scientists. Everyone always refers to these occupations sets as a barometer for financial and academic success of people.

Blacks are 13.3 percent of the U.S. population.

Doctors: On average only 4% of doctors are black.

Lawyers: At the 250 largest firms in the nation, blacks are lagging woefully behind in representation. Despite the fact that Affirmative Action is responsible for 80% of the admitted black students at the nations top 26 law firms, black lawyers haven't gained much ground. Though if Law schools operated on a strict meritocracy system, hardly any blacks would fill seats at those schools.

Look at this law firm in St. Louis, Mo (not among the largest 250). St. Louis city is 53% black, yet out of the 143 attorneys that practice there only three of them are black!

(Interesting side bar: I chose to profile this firm because a friend of mine's wife is an attorney there. She set me up with one of her attorney friends that worked there, and then 2 months later she—inexplicably—dumped me. To say that I took it bad would be an understatement. I'm not going to tell you who it was, look through the pictures yourself, you'll see her, but you'll never know for sure).

Scientists: This is truly sad. JBHE claims that blacks received none of the1,742 PhDs awarded in 46 specialized scientific fields in 2003. And there is no doubt that research and discovery in these areas are going to lead future noble prizes and other such international science and mathematics awards for the scientists involved while creating substantial improvements in technology, medicine and everyday lives. Again, no black people.

I know individuals too often play the hard percentages game. I'm not saying that because blacks make up around 13 percent of the population in 2003 that they needed to have earned 232 of those aforementioned degrees, but it isn't unreasonable to think that they should hold at least 75-100 of them.

To me statistics like this show how inadequate such entitlement programs are. They do help certain people, absolutely. But the many strides blacks have made over the years still don't come close to the level the black community should have attained—what affirmative action's original legislation was suppose to address.

In high school I opposed affirmative action (and I still do now). Although I really didn't know the details of AA, what it entailed, or how it actually worked. All I knew was that AA allowed supposedly under qualified black college students to take the seats of more qualified white kids.

When I entered college I enrolled in an introductory political science course which detailed some important legal cases. In that class we studied several court decisions, but to me, the most indelible case was UC Regents vs. Bakke. The reality of UC Davis's admission standards shocked me: 2.5 GPA, 30th percentile MCAT scores for admitted minority medical students??? I thought that if the pool of white applicants averaged, say, a 3.9 GPA and 85th percentile on the MCAT that the affirmative action admits would stand at around 3.4-3.6 GPA with 60-75th percentile MCAT scores, arguably unfair, but reasonable.

Keep in mind UCD did not explicitly state that they were setting aside quotas for blacks. On their medical school application, students had the option of checking the "economically and/or educationally disadvantaged" box. Doing so would automatically place you in the far less competitive "special" applicant pool. Though some whites did select this option, not one of them was admitted under what amounted to an entirely separate evaluation program.

This egregious barrel scrapping hurts both doctors and the people they serve. It is especially problematic since many black doctors practice medicine in black communities. The implication of under qualified black doctors caring for predominately black patients is potentially disastrous for blacks in this country because many don't trust white docotors.

So what to do? Well, for one Bill Cosby was right. You can't blame white people anymore and you can't expect hand outs. What is needed a focus on education, not entitlement.

Consider some dated, but nonetheless startling statistics from Arthur Hu:

From tests among Houston and Minneapolis high school students to Washington State policemen and California teachers, blacks failed to match their white or Asian peers and in many cases they fell significantly below them.

Why is this happening? Is it white racism? Is it Hip Hop? The general anti-intellectualism in the black culture? A clear answer remains elusive. But to be sure, black's priorities don't give much hope for their future.

Back in St. Louis I watched many an episode of "MTV cribs" (a Television show, that lets celebrities show off how wealthy they are by letting cameras film their lavish "houses"). A large percentage of featured homes on this program were/are owned by prominent black athletes and entertainers. What struck me as odd is that I never saw any books in their houses. In fact one black guest showed the cameras his "library" but he didn't have any books on the shelves! Certainly I can't make assumptions about American black's reading habits (or lack there of) based solely on a few episodes of show profiling people, to whom education is most like not a huge priority.....can I? Well I don't know. I mean is what Chris Rock said about black people, books and Kryptonite really true?

It's not entirely accurate to use book purchases as a proxy for education in general, but their certainly is a correlation. In 2002 blacks spend $303 million on books, but total sales for that year amounted to nearly $27 billion. This means blacks accounted for just over 1% of all book purchases! Meanwhile, their consumption of liquor and electronics continues at a high rate; unfortunately problems of this nature can severely harm young blacks years down the road.

So is there a solution to these problems??? Perhaps.

Meyerhoff Men (and women)

In 1988 philanthropists Robert and Jane Meyerhoff (white people) endowed a gift to the University of Maryland at Baltimore County (UMBC). Their goal was to help educate future African American scientists.

"The goal of the Meyerhoff Program is to increase the number of minorities, particularly African-Americans, who earn Ph.D.s in the sciences, mathematics, computer science, and engineering."
--- UMBC

The UMBC Meyerhoff program is headed by Freeman A. Hrabowski III, the African American president of UMBC since 1993. Dr. Hrabowski earned a PhD in mathematics at the age of 24 and became a Dean at 26. Since taking the lead slot at UMBC and coordinating the Meyerhoff program he's transformed this undistinguished school into a national academic power. He actively recruits the finest black students in the country to Baltimore; luring them away from more prestigious universities with the promise of superior financial and academic support. His efforts have not only resulted in academic success for his students. The 36 year old college has also won several college chess championships.

By the way, the school has no football team.

This is not ineffectual UC Berkeley crap where there's just a bunch of arguing and worrying about state budgets. This program is not Affirmative Action, there is not entitlement and no excuses. The students here simply aren't allowed to fail. They work their asses off.

The Meyerhoff program places high expectations for its admitted students. However, the program also has a huge support system. This includes mentoring, training, academic and career advising, group study, and research opportunities.

The whole thing starts with the "Summer Bridge program" aimed at helping the transition to college. It focuses on intense learning and time management. Moreover, Academic counseling and advising is continual throughout the students’ college years and students take advantage of tutors and study groups.

The program also provides faculty mentors as well as professional and research mentors. Additionally, Meyerhoff Scholars participate in research projects on campus and summer projects in off campus research laboratories.

Why don't these kids just go to Ivy League schools? Well there's ample evidence that, for whatever reason, blacks and other minorities under perform in college relative to whites and Asians. That there are no support groups, they come from schools that inadequately prepared them and many get frustrated and drop out; both of which have been touted as reasons for the lack of black success in college. Hence, the need for such a unique program.

Scholars are supported not only by school professors and administrators, but by the NIH, NASA, the National Security Agency, AT&T, Chevron, and Apple Computer to name a few. These guys are the best of the best. They have received A's in high school Calculus and have passed AP math tests, the best among them scoring well above 750 on the SAT math section.

As you can see, receiving a Meyerhoff scholarship isn't just getting a free ride and a counselor who checks your progress from time to time. The Meyerhoff program is like a word class university within a third tier commuter college. And the competition for such an opportunity is fierce. Out of nearly 1500 applicants the Meyerhoff program accepted 50, just over 3%. No college in the country has so tough an admission standard.

And college is only the initial foray into academics. The scholarship recipients are expected to enter grad school--and 85% do. Out of the 372 graduates since the program's first year, 138 have earned PhDs/MDs, a rate that out performs nearly every college in the nation; many others graduates have masters degrees in science and engineering. In fact, these students have gone on to earn advanced degrees at Harvard, Yale, MIT, Penn, Georgia Tech, Columbia, Duke to name a few.

"I realized that it wasn't a program where they just give you money and you do okay in your classes," says Hedgepeth, 30, who's completing his residency at Harvard. "They were pushing me to do my best. It's a priceless feeling, knowing that everyone wants you to succeed."

--UMBC Meyerhoff Scholarship grad Chester Hedgepeth

No other program even comes close to the success of UMBC.


So maybe this is the solution. Instead of divisive entitlement programs that just admit poorly qualified blacks to colleges and then leave them adrift, why doesn't every college in the country institute a program like the one at UMBC? There are around 3000 four year colleges in this country. What If they adopt the same type of scholarship program that UMBC has; and admitted a similar number (50) of students each year? A multitude of circumstances would invariably preclude many colleges from offering a program or admitting as many as 50 (quite simply there may not be enough living in the area or willing to go there, or their enrollment is too small, etc.), but many colleges would undoubtedly admit more than that. If 1500 colleges enrolled on average 40 students a year in a Meyerhoff-esc program, graduating them and sending them off for advanced study, in 35 years there would be over 2 million graduates in the workplace, in management positions, the research lab, the university, industry, pharmaceuticals, bio-tech, computer technology, etc., etc.......Then blacks both young and old could have a substantial number of role models, something that is severely lacking in the "real world" as well as higher education, many complain.

Now I know that its probably more important to start changing lives at the primary and elementary school level. The UMBC model, is a good start, but it may reach many too late. Additionally there is the need for people to put up money for such scholarship programs.

What to do about catching these kids before they go astray is beyond me. But the Meyerhoff program is far superior to Affirmative Action and it actually works. It would take a great feat of social engineering to reproduce Meyerhoff like successes for millions of school children. Someone else needs to think of a way to make that work, I can't do it.....I mean, hey, I'm no Meyerhoff scholar.

But at least take that horse behind the barn and put a bullet in its head.......

True Love Does Everything But

The Bush administration supports abstinence only "education". However, according to a new study young adults who take "virginity pledges" have similar rates of sexually transmitted diseases as their peers. Moreover, the study found that such pledges may even encourage high-risk sexual behaviour, since kids who take the pledge are less likely to use condoms and to seek treatment for STDs.

Although many avoided vaginal intercourse to "technically preserve their virginity," Prof. Bruckner said, they were more likely than their counterparts to have oral and anal sex, and to do so without condoms.

"If [pledgers] do have sex, they go into this experience with the idea that, 'Oh nothing can protect me anyway, so why even bother to think about uncomfortable stuff and gross stuff like condoms.' That's the problem."

Frustrating, no?

For some levity, here are some awesome send-ups of abstinence-only education:
Sex is for Fags (for boys), and Iron Hymen (for girls).

Take the pledge!

March 18, 2005

Terri Schiavo: Political Football

The case of Terri Schiavo is horrible. The woman has been brain dead for 15 years and has been the subject of a decade long court case between her husband who wishes to let her die and her parents who wish to keep her alive. This is a horrible decision and I completely understand where both sides are coming from, but things are about to get a lot worse. Congress is getting in on the act:

A House committee subpoenaed the brain-damaged woman to appear before Congress next week, and Schiavo's family was "hopeful" the brain-damaged woman would make that appearance in Washington, an attorney for her parents said Friday.

Meanwhile, a Senate committee issued an invitation for Terri Schiavo and her husband to testify on Capitol Hill.

This is wrong on so many levels. It is an abuse of power, it interferes with the legal process, and tries to make a spectacle of a brain dead woman.

Check out Majikthise for more.

March 17, 2005

The Space Between

Men and Women. It turns out we are more different than you think:

All told, men and women may differ by as much as 2% of their entire genetic inheritance, greater than the hereditary gap between humankind and its closest relative — the chimpanzee.

Liberals and Conservatives. Take the test.

What is important in the world and what CNN covers.

March 16, 2005

Behind The Curve

So I got up this morning and watched just enough of Bush's press conference to be outraged. Then I had to go drive the length of the State and my outrage faded a bit. But, there is some stuff in that really needs to be whacked so here we go.

First- Paul Wolfowitz at the World Bank? What!? Why?! What?! What on earth qualifies the man to head up the biggest development agency in the world? Wolfowitz was the idea man behind the Iraq War, which is pretty much as far as you can get from economic development. Just once, could Bush punish failure? One time! Steve Clemons has more.

Then there's SS. Talking Points Nails Him:

I'm not sure what exactly it will take for the conventional wisdom to the Washington press corps and the elite punditocracy to stop saying that President Bush has a plan to save Social Security from insolvency and the Democrats don't. You'd think
Advertisement the absence of any such plan on Bush’s part would be enough, but clearly it's not.
So let’s be clear where things stand. This is fundamentally an ideological fight. Democrats want to keep Social Security as a form of social insurance, and Bush wants to transform it into something else. Democrats are not willing to make a deal on solvency if it means giving up social insurance. And Bush is not willing to make a deal on solvency unless they do.

Given all this, how on earth can so many people continue to claim that Bush wants to save Social Security while the Democrats have their heads in the sand? How can this almost universally-accepted aphorism be said to have any basis in reality?

For a final kick, check out Juan Cole in Salon on sorting out what is really happening in the Middle East with democracy.

March 15, 2005

Custom News

In an effort to keep the Craigorian Staff happy (The pay is a little low and I fear losing them to rival blogs) Today we highlight the following neglected story:

In a victory for gay rights groups, a California Superior Court judge ruled on Monday that the state's voter-approved ban on homosexual marriage is unconstitutional.

A victory for the forces of light indeed. I was out driving today and the AM Shouters were, well, shouting about it. I do need to sound a note of caution, however:

Both gay marriage advocates and opponents said the decision was just one step in a legal battle that may continue for years. Similar disputes are under review in other U.S. states.

"This is an important day but hardly is this effort complete," San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom told reporters. "It is inevitable there will be an appeal.

This is going to go on for a long while yet. The ruling is not in effect until it runs its course in appeals. Also I'm a little worried about trying to get gay marriage in the courts in defiance of pretty clear popular majorities against it. But still, go team!

March 14, 2005


DeLay's Going Down: You'll never take me alive! Texas Republican Declares.

Shiite-Kurdish Deal Collapses: Democracy trips, stumbles, blown up by IED.


Almost a Million Lebanese Turn Out to Press for Syrian pullout: 250,000 are Hot.

U2's Bono, Wife to Launch Activist Clothing Line: What The Hell? Declares Craigorian Chant.

March 13, 2005


With the notable exception of Politically Correct Fairy Tales (Damn Funny) and the comedy of Bill Maher(Funny Sometimes) you just know that anything being labeled "Politically Incorrect" is just going to suck. Just because you label yourself politically incorrect doesn't make you any less of an ass. Here's a hint you are not an anti-PC truth teller when you bag on gays and minorities. Your just a jerk. Which brings us to The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, which I turn over to David Greenberg from Slate to deliver the beating it's due:

It would be tedious to debunk The Politically Incorrect Guide chapter by chapter. Suffice it to say that the book asserts that the American Revolution was no revolution at all; that the Civil War was not about slavery; that the so-called robber barons made America great; that the New Deal made the Depression worse; that the war on poverty made poverty worse; that Clinton's intervention in Bosnia was a waste of taxpayer money. Not only does Woods reduce complex events to these kinds of simplistic interpretations, he doesn't even acknowledge that rival interpretations exist. It's history not as analysis but as catechism.


It was only a matter of time before this kind of thinking spread to history. Politics has always colored the ways that people interpret the past, but The Politically Incorrect Guide politicizes history in a new way, reducing all scholarly inquiry to a mere stance in the culture wars.

This stuff is crap pure and simple. It's for people who never want their world view challenged. Ever.

March 11, 2005

Friday News Roundup

I just love linking to bad polls for Bush on SS. Do you love to read them?

Lebanese politics: more complicated than you thought. But I knew that, which is why I keep my analysis as shallow as possible.

Addicted to porn! No no no not me- Congress.

Last weeks episode of Lost featured some spooky magic numbers that when used to win the lottery, resulted in a curse killing and maiming everyone around the winner. So what did 215 people in Michigan do? Thats right, they took the numbers from the show and played the lottery. They did not win.

March 10, 2005

And Now a Word about the Sidebar

Some new additions to the side to let you know about. I have added Blogcritics to the links, where I am now posting from time to time (Really just reposting Chant posts, nothing new) Also two worthy blogs - Suburban Nomad and Political Moose. Also please check out the Committee to Protect Bloggers. They are doing good work for people much braver than I. Think about blogging in Iran for a minute, would you?

Just a word on the Left - Right - Center. TNR is not really the right. They are the center-left. They are to the right of the Nation and TAP but by no means the right. This is my attempt to move the debate to the left, much like FoxNews move it to the right by having the Hard Right debate the Center-Right. My dream panel is Katrina vanden Heuvel saying Bush is evil, Peter Beinart saying no, no he is just incompetent and Michael Tomasky saying let's compromise by saying your both right.

No more navel gazing tomorrow I promise.

March 9, 2005

Blogging about Blogging

It's meta. Check out the cool graphics in this post from Political Animal. It shows how liberal and conservative blogger link (or don't link) to each other. Pretty cool stuff. That is if you are into that sort of thing. And if you read this far I know you are.

And Then There Were Two

Got to make up for lost time on the LA Mayor's race. Looks like a it's Villaraigosa and Hahn in a runoff, which is a rematch from 2001. Remember political junkies - somewhere in the world at any given moment, there is an election going on.

March 8, 2005

Non-Stop Elections

LA is electing a mayor today. Who knew? I hope the good people of LA. know having mayoral races in off years is a bad idea. It just about guarantees low voter turnout. Anyway, go read Ezra Klein for the field breakdown - "Bernard Parks: His candidacy is all Shakespearean revenge on Hahn" - good stuff.

March 7, 2005

Hot Lebanese Chicks for Freedom

Things are afoot in Lebanon. Rather than spend time debating the level of credit Bush should get or the potential impact of Hezbollah siding with Syria I am going to spend some time on the real issue:

Those Lebanese protesters are hot. Pictures here. Then there's this week's covers of Newsweek, The Weekly Standard and the Economist. Slate's Well-Traveled declares that "Even Flirting Is Political in Beirut." This got me thinking. In this hyper-media age really good-looking protesters are very important. You saw the same thing during the Ukrainian Orange Revolution - 50,000 people in the streets and the really photogenic ones, with a backdrop of flags and protest signs get beamed all over the world. In the language of campaign types it "gets the message out." The whole world loves hot chicks so you get world opinion behind you and that can really matter. Hezbollah better counter with good-looking pro-Syrian protesters and not masked gunmen or they will lose world opinion. Future democratic revolutionaries take note. The key to protest in the 21st century will be the photo. Get your flag, your signs, put your hot women out front and change the world.

Brilliant Bush Personnel Choices Part 45

Let's hire a UN Ambassador

Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton, an outspoken arms control expert who rarely muffles his views in diplomatic nuance, is President Bush's choice to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, three government officials said Monday.

that hates the U.N.

Bolton has harshly disparaged the United Nations in the past. In 1994, for example, he charged, “There’s no such thing as the United Nations,” saying that ‘’If the U.N. secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.'’ Four years later, he attacked the international body again, saying, “many Republicans in Congress - and perhaps a majority - not only do not care about losing the General Assembly vote but actually see it as a ‘make my day’ outcome. Indeed, once the vote is lost, and the adverse consequences predicted by the U.N.’s supporters begin to occur, this will simply provide further evidence to many why nothing more should be paid to the U.N. system.”

This is sure to win them over.

March 6, 2005

Our Bad

An Italian journalist is taken hostage in Iraq. She's freed after a month. Then US soldiers shoot at her on the way to the airport, wound her and kill an Italian intelligence agent. Needless to say, this is causing a bit of trouble with one of the few allies we have on Iraq not named Great Britain.

I like this take on the event by the Washington Note:

The bottom line is that we have troops at check-points who are so fearful for their lives that they are trigger-happy and shoot just about anything that they don't understand.

The answer is to either smarten up our soldiers or get them out. This death is going to sour much of whatever cosmetic good just came from Bush's trip to Europe.

March 5, 2005

Nurse Trouble

Governator runs into a bit of trouble with the nurses:

"[T]he Governor is so used to browbeating the press that he thought he could do the same to the California Nurses' Association (CNA), one of the most militant unions in the country, with 60,000 members and representing registered nurses at 171 health facilities throughout the state. Schwarzenegger has been trying to roll back the union's gains on nurse/ patient ratios, safety standards and kindred issues.

The Governator has a bad habit of calling whoever stands in the way of his proposals a "special interest" that needs to be um...Spanked, if you will. The metaphor runs into trouble when deployed against nurses:

"Schwarzenegger's version of Howard Dean's scream came in December in Long Beach. As the nurses barracked him during a speech, he denounced them as one of the 'special interests' and said, 'I'm always kicking their butt.' This witty response from the breast-grabber got plenty of play, and did the nurses nothing but good.

A noted grabber of women should not deploy this particular metaphor.

March 4, 2005

Hot Tips

Who knew George Carlin could be such a good political pundit

And we spy on each other. We're nothing but rats and squealers now, spying on each other. "1-800-How-am-I-driving?" Call in now, hotline, tip line. They're not tipsters-it's the rats and fucking squealer hotline that you're calling. Spying on your kids, kids turning in parents for a little bit of pot, and employers listening to your phone calls and reading your email. All this shit is just fucking horrifying... if you care. I don't care.

Nice find, Chris.

Alan Greenspan: Hack
Iraq Causualties now top 1,500.
Some good stuff up on Salon about Gunner Palace.

March 3, 2005


Something from NewDonkey to make you go hmmmmmm:

The National Association of Evangelicals, with 50,000 church affiliates representing 30 million or so people, is meeting next week in Washington, where it will consider a manifesto on "civic responsibility" that might cause Karl Rove some heartburn.

To be sure, the manifesto reiterates familiar Christian conservative positions on abortion, gay marriage, and so forth, but also has surprisingly bold sections on economic justice, environmental stewardship, and even war and peace.

Regular church-going does not make you a conservative. It's not an automatic thing. Jesus helped the poor and the sick and a lot of people get that message in church. You can go to church every week and never even think about voting for Bush for a single moment. Take my parents. Please.

Don't Know Much About Lebanon?

Neither do I, but there is some really interesting stuff going on. For background go read Juan Cole's amazing background briefing and feel the foreign policy part of your brain start to grow. Now you don't have to flee when someone brings up Lebanon at your next cocktail party.

March 2, 2005

A West Wing Poll!

The pollster John Zogby, bless his heart, doesn't have any real elections to run polls for and has done a poll to see who people would prefer to wins The West Wing's fictional election:

Viewers of NBC’s The West Wing would prefer that Democratic Congressman Matthew Santos were elected the next President, giving him a 16-point lead over Republican Senator Arnold Vinick, a new Zogby Interactive poll finds. The interactive poll of 5,505 West Wing viewers was conducted from February 18 to 25, 2005, and has a margin of error of +/-0.7 percentage points.

Santos, the Texas Congressman played by Jimmy Smits, is the favorite of a plurality in the poll, which was weighted to ensure it reflects the partisan breakdown of the U.S. population, and not just the demographic that views The West Wing frequently or occasionally. Arnold Vinick, the California Senator played by veteran actor Alan Alda, trails significantly. The poll also found one-in-five viewers (19%) still undecided on the race, while 9% are not willing to support either candidate.

Count me in the Santos camp. But they should really spend a lot of time on the Smits/Alda match-up. Should make for good TV.

March 1, 2005

News from the Courts

No not that news. The Supreme Court struck down capitol punishment for defendants under 18 today. I think we can all get behind not executing children, can't we. Oh and one of Saddam's judges was shot to death today in still yet another sign that freedom, peace, and all that is coming to Iraq.