June 30, 2005
The survey found 57 percent of voters are not inclined to vote for Schwarzenegger if he runs for re-election next year, compared with 56 percent who said in February they were inclined to re-elect the Republican governor.
One other interesting bit is that both state Treasurer Phil Angelides and state Controller Steve Westly are beating the Governator in head to head match-ups. See ya later Governator.
Just got back from opening night of WofW and let me just say, it was well worth the $6.50 student discounted ticket price.
With the exception of the first few minutes, the action runs non-stop from the outset. War of the Worlds is very similar to the first Jurassic Park movie and Saving Private Ryan in that they each have many of those really intense tap-your-feet in suspense moments when you're wondering how the main characters are going to avoid/kill the bad guy. Classic Spielberg.
The other aspect of this film I liked is that there's no grand scheme explanations about the motivation for the attacks or birds eye vantage points of the action. Everything takes place from the view point of the main character; there's just no one around to tell you the why, the how, etc...All you know is that some really big metal walking alien thing is trying to kill you, so you better just run and hide. That definitely makes you relate more to the characters because you can imagine yourself running in panic and not having any information about what the hell is going on as opposed to sitting in on an emergency Cabinet or Joint Chiefs meeting and talking to the President or the head of the CIA.
Of course they are a few parts that leave you wondering. Like why are some humans just flat out killed while others are harvested (maybe I missed something)?
Why would an alien race, or anyone for that matter, make their killing contraptions in their own likeness? I mean, if we invade another planet would we make giant metal robots that look like Mike Tyson or Hulk Hogan or Dick Butkis and use them to kill the aliens?
Just by finding us and landing here we all know the aliens are smarter than us. That goes without saying. But why, in just about every movie of this type are they always physically stronger than us or have some sort of crazy power? These aliens are so intelligent that they've created a civilization capable of a planet-wide invasion of another civilization thousands of light years away. I would think such aliens would be big brained weaklings. Advanced beings don't need all that strength, they would just use their brains to compensate. I mean just look at three primates species. Gorillas are the strongest, and least intelligent. Chimpanzees not as strong as gorillas but their more intelligent. Then you have us. We're the most intelligent, but the least strong. So why would it work a different way on an alien planet?
I guess you should not insert logic where it doesn't belong.
June 29, 2005
In SCOTUS news, the head of Craigorian Chant's ironic news department Yanina brings us this:
Justice Souter's vote in the "Kelo vs. City of New London" decision allows city governments to take land from one private owner and give it to another if the government will generate greater tax revenue or other economic benefits when the land is developed by the new owner.
On Monday June 27, Logan Darrow Clements, faxed a request to Chip Meany the code enforcement officer of the Towne of Weare, New Hampshire seeking to start the application process to build a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road. This is the present location of Mr. Souter's home.
Clements, CEO of Freestar Media, LLC, points out that the City of Weare will certainly gain greater tax revenue and economic benefits with a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road than allowing Mr. Souter to own the land.
I'm a little worried that the Kelo decision has me nodding in agreement with Ayn Rand fans.
June 28, 2005
June 27, 2005
Stars and Stripes was rockin' out. Conventionette regaled me with what I had missed earlier in the night, such as the election of the Wet Caucus Chair. This election, apparently, is decided not by the comparatively mundane "voting" method, but instead by the lesser-known but infinitely better "chugging" method, according to which the victor is chosen by who can consume one beer the fastest.
I'm still trying to decide which t-shirt to buy. "Kick a Commie for Ronnie" is $20, but it's ringer tee, and I'm not a huge fan of the ringers. (Tough to say no to such a great phrase, though.) The Uncle Sam one that says, "Liberals: I want YOU to move to Canada" is $16, and it's cheaper-looking, too, which is always good. I'm feeling the latter.
Three young, blond, heavily southern accented women ran by me at one point in towels and bathing suits, chuckling to themselves, Man this has been a great convention so far! Worth noting, a smirking male was in tow.
A sharply divided Supreme Court on Monday upheld the constitutionality of displaying the Ten Commandments on government land, but drew the line on displays inside courthouses, saying they violated the doctrine of separation of church and state.
Sending dual signals in ruling on this issue for the first time in a quarter-century, the high court said that displays of the Ten Commandments -- like in their own courtroom frieze -- are not inherently unconstitutional. But each exhibit demands scrutiny to determine whether it goes too far in amounting to a governmental promotion of religion, the court said in a case involving Kentucky courthouse exhibits.
So in a courthouse is a no-no, but near the statehouse is o.k? Frankly, at this point I don't think anybody has any idea what the criteria is for religious display on government property, not even the court.
Slate has a good discussion going on SCOTUS. Always read what Dahlia Lithwick has to way about this stuff.
June 26, 2005
"Insurgences tend to go on five, six, eight, 10, 12 years," Rumsfeld said on "Fox News Sunday."
Rumsfeld defended Cheney's recent statement that the insurgents are in their "last throes," saying there are many ways to measure their strength.
"If you look up "last throes," it can mean a violent last throe," Rumsfeld said on ABC's "This Week." Violence may escalate, he said, because insurgents "have so much to lose between now and December." he said.
Almost there guys, just hang in there for 5 or 8 or 12 more years. If you look up throes, it tends to me something short. One small hole with this whole line of bull is this: Rummy talked on and on about how great the US military is. The best in the world. The best in the history of the world. I'm not arguing with that. Its just if we have the best army in the world and we are not beating the insurgency, how can we expect a new Iraqi Army, which is very much not the best, to do it?
More Sunday action here, here, and here.
Addition: Billmon has some very interesting stuff on how we are now "negotiating."
June 25, 2005
As public support for his Iraq policy declines, President Bush is working to convince wary Americans that he has a military and political strategy for success in the war in which 1,730 U.S. troops have been killed.
Why, the Iraq war is getting so unpopular that even Young Republicans are no longer willing to sign up for military service. Oh wait.
In this poll, more Americans believe that Bush is responsible for starting the war then Saddam. That has to be some kind of public opinion turning point.
All this has led Bush scrambling to shore up public opinion on the war. Look for a major speech on the War this coming Tuesday. It will at Fort Bragg with the soldiers of the 82nd airborne used as props.
At a certain point Bush may be faced with the choice between setting deadline to leave Iraq or losing the Congress. It really may come down to that. That's when we find out what Bush really believes in. See which war; the one in Iraq or the one against Democrats; he really believes in.
June 24, 2005
AMERICAblog has all the outrage that you could want about Karl "Liberals are Traitors" Rove. This shall not stand.
June 23, 2005
Karl Rove, Chief Political Advisor to the President.
The 5-4 ruling represented a defeat for some Connecticut residents whose homes are slated for destruction to make room for an office complex. They argued that cities have no right to take their land except for projects with a clear public use, such as roads or schools, or to revitalize blighted areas.
As a result, cities have wide power to bulldoze residences for projects such as shopping malls and hotel complexes to generate tax revenue.
Local officials, not federal judges, know best in deciding whether a development project will benefit the community, justices said.
Up until now, this type of forced bye-out, known a eminent domain, could only be done for public services such as building a freeway or a school. If local governments can force out property owners for private development, that represents a massive increase in the power of local government. So pay attention, this is important.
June 22, 2005
You don't hear Reagan-style ideological anti-statist stuff from Bush very much. There's no "the government is the problem" or "get the government off our backs." His tax cuts are sold explicitly on the (dubious) theory that they don't starve the government of revenue needed to finance the social insurance state. Bush's Social Security rhetoric is designed to deny that he wants to dismantle the program. He takes for granted the idea that there ought to be a federal program to ensure secure retirements for all Americans. The "compassionate conservative" agenda presupposes that a robust federal effort to combat poverty is a good and worthy idea.
Now I and Matt both think that this is lie. Bush is trying to do in Social Security. But it is important to pretend that it is all about "preserving" SS. Except for welfare, which has been dealt with, liberal social programs are very popular. They have to be done in by sneak attack. Thus Bush speaks left and governs right.
June 21, 2005
Less than a third -- 31 percent -- of the state's adults approve of the job the governor is doing in Sacramento, down from 54 percent in February. The numbers are only slightly better among registered voters, 37 percent of whom are happy with Schwarzenegger's performance and 53 percent dissatisfied.
Thats a really bad number. A Grey Davis number. The funny thing is that at least Grey had rolling blackouts to blame. All of the Govenator's wounds have been self-inflicted, picking fights with nurses, and so on. His call for a special election has landed like a dead duck. Having a movie star in charge has lost its appeal:
It is pathetic that Californians bought the hype, but then that's what we do. But like the good little faddists we are, when the fad dies we reject it with a vehemence . Nobody wants to be seen in last year's fashions. Live by the trend, die by the trend.
My prediction is that the Govenator is going move to left in a big way. The only way to make up ground is in the middle, because, unlike with Bush, there are just not enough voters on the right in CA to get his ass reelected. Look for some big new program ment to appeal to all those moderates and lefties.
June 20, 2005
Matthew Yglesias makes the good case that we should Free Katie!
Craigorian Chant reader Erin has found this week's official parlor game:
Who is the "Greatest" American?
Please note that Ann Coulter (Boo, Hiss) is part of the celebrity panel.
Lame duck status, carefully explained:
Five months after President Bush was sworn in for another four years, his political authority appears to be ebbing, both within his own party, where members of Congress are increasingly if sporadically going their own way, and among Democrats, who have discovered that they pay little or no price for defying him.
In the last week, Mr. Bush has responded by lashing out at Democrats, casting them as obstructionists, a strategy that carries some risk given that it seems to acknowledge an inability by Republicans to carry out a governing platform. Searching as well for a more positive message, the administration, which has always been reluctant to acknowledge that events are not unfolding precisely as planned, has embarked on a public relations campaign intended to reassure Americans that Mr. Bush is attuned to their concerns.
Mr. Bush has offered nothing new in the way of policy but is instead reiterating his views that the war in Iraq is worth the sacrifices it has demanded and that his approaches on issues like energy and trade are the best way of addressing economic jitters. But his message is being undercut somewhat by the more outspoken mavericks in his own party.
Soon as people start talking about Bush being a lame duck, then he is a lame duck. Congress stops following, Bush is no longer a leader. And it's really hard to blame the opposition when you control every branch of government.
June 19, 2005
June 18, 2005
Dear Heavens! I nearly swooned when I read this article. You mean it's true? Men and women's brains are different.....No....no...it can't be. I mean wait......so you're saying that its possible for men and women to think and act differently because of the physical structural differences of the brain itself? Hold on....I thought men and women were the exact same in every way. Dang! I need to stop reading books put out by UC Berkeley Publishing.
Does this mean Larry Summers can take back his apology and stop being such a spineless wuss?
Craig.....check out the very last excerpt below. It doesn't explain women, but it's a start.
"What is astonishing to me," Witelson said, "is that it is so obvious that there are sex differences in the brain and these are likely to be translated into some cognitive differences, because the brain helps us think and feel and move and act.
"Yet there is a large segment of the population that wants to pretend this is not true."
"If you find that men and women have fundamentally different brain architectures while still accomplishing the same things," said neuroscientist Richard Haier, who conducted the study, "this challenges the assumption that all human brains are fundamentally the same.
"We suggest that the differences we see are present at birth," Witelson said. "It is not a consequence of environmental differences."
Witelson determined that brain volume decreased with age among men, but hardly at all among women. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
There is something going on in the male brain," she said, "that is not going on in the female brain."
Women's brains, for instance, seem to be faster and more efficient than men's.
All in all, men appear to have more gray matter, made up of active neurons, and women more of the white matter responsible for communication between different areas of the brain.
Overall, women's brains seem to be more complexly corrugated, suggesting that more complicated neural structures lie within.....
June 17, 2005
That isn't what Schiavo's parents, pro-lifers, and congressional Republicans told us all these years. They said videos showed her eyes following people and objects. "In the video footage, which you can actually see on the Web site today, she certainly seems to respond to visual stimuli," Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist declared three months ago as he spearheaded a congressional invasion of the case.
In fact Terri was more than blind. Half her brain was gone. She had no mind, could not form thoughts, could not think. Conservatives cannot deal with reality. I know why Terri's parents believed this. The question is why did everyone else do so. Or did they?
June 16, 2005
The problem for the GOP is that Bush is not running for cover. The entire Bush ideal is built around "staying the course." We will see if he keeps to a course that takes him off a political cliff.
June 15, 2005
Donna Frye is leading polls to win the Mayor special election. The surf chick is going to shake things up. She has gone from write-in gladfly to frontrunner. And as a liberal in a rather conservative city. This is something to watch.
Also, San Diego Congress-critter Randy "Duke" Cunningham is getting in a bit of a bother. It seems a defense contractor paid $600,000 more than market price for Duke's house. TPM is on the story, and when Josh gets into something, you just have to sit back and watch.
I expect Craigorian Chant San Diego correspondent Jess to weigh in as well.
Microsoft Corp.'s new MSN China Internet venture is censoring words such as freedom, democracy and human rights on its free online journals, Microsoft said yesterday, putting itself in the middle of a major Web controversy.
The company said that its MSN Spaces service in China, which allows users to set up their own Web blogs, is acting in accordance with local laws. "MSN abides by the laws, regulations and norms of each country in which it operates," said Brooke Richardson, MSN lead product manager.
The move comes as the Chinese government is attempting to tighten control over the Internet. Last week, a media watchdog group said China would close unregistered China-based Web sites and blogs. About three-quarters of domestic Web sites had complied with the registration orders, Reporters without Borders said, citing Chinese figures.
What good does the internet do to fight oppression if the fricken internet providers are lining up to help the oppressive regime. So China is literally banning the "democracy." I eagerly await action from the Bush administration. In the meantime lets get this blog banned in China!
Independence for Taiwan!
Democracy in China!
Are we banned yet?
June 14, 2005
After the 1994 GOP wins the story was all about conservative talk radio. If the donkeys win back seats in 2006, look for AA to get all kinds of attention.
While I'm on icky celebrity news, Paris Hilton Plans to Give Up Public Life. We can only hope.
June 13, 2005
June 12, 2005
Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina will be among the lawmakers introducing legislation this week calling for a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops in Iraq.
"When I look at the number of men and women who have been killed — it's almost 1,700 now, in addition to close to 12,000 have been severely wounded — and I just feel that the reason of going in for weapons of mass destruction, the ability of the Iraqis to make a nuclear weapon, that's all been proven that it was never there," Jones said on ABC's "This Week."
Poor guy got played for a sucker, but he's starting to wake up. It is possible to change minds on the War. Too bad it just takes more deaths to make people see it. Rep. Jones sees the truth. Who else will?
June 10, 2005
June 9, 2005
The annual President's Dinner, a Republican Party fundraising event featuring President Bush, could get an extra dash of spice this year with porn actress and former California gubernatorial candidate Mary Carey planning to attend.
The porn industry and Republicans may seem like strange bedfellows, but Carey said she sees Tuesday night's dinner as a good opportunity to learn more about their policies and do some networking. She plans to run for lieutenant governor of California as an independent next year.
And my favorite line ever:
Carey acknowledges that some people just think of her as a busty blonde who does porn films.
A more Influential Blog - the Chant is ranked 54,012th out of 102,649 blogs on BlogStreet. Frankly I'm better than that.
Someone to explain women to me.
Someone to stop really stupid GOP ideas.
Something to hit Paul Wolfowitz with.
June 8, 2005
Health insurance premiums will cost families and employers an extra $922 on average this year to cover the costs of caring for the uninsured, according to a report released on Wednesday.
With the added cost, the yearly premiums for a family with coverage through an employer will average $10,979 in 2005, said the report from consumer group Families USA.
By 2010, the additional costs for the uninsured will be $1,502, and total premiums will hit $17,273. In 11 states, the costs of the uninsured will exceed $2,000 per family.
For individuals, the extra charge this year is estimated to be $341 on average, rising to $532 in 2010. Total premium charges for individuals will be $4,065 in 2005, and $6,115 in 2010.
We are doing things badly and its costing us. This isn't a trade-off between spending a lot of money and quality care for all. In our system we both spend more money and end up with more unhealthy people. We can do better.
June 7, 2005
Once Bush became Maximum Leader in the War on Terror, all these divisions largely ended, and few Republicans dissented from the hypothesis that U.S. national security depended on a hyper-interventionist and highly ideological approach to transforming the Middle East. So Bush has rarely had to watch his back among Republicans.
The second factor is simultaneously obvious and often ignored. It is best described by the following (faulty) syllogism:
Some Arabs came over here and killed a lot of Americans. Bush went over there and killed a lot more Arabs. Since then, no Arabs have come over here and killed Americans. Thus, Bush's invasion of Iraq is responsible for our safety since 9/11.
I don't know about you, but in conversations with non-political people during the 2004 campaign, I heard some version of this "Bush must be doing something right" argument repeated over and over again. And in my experience, telling people they are falling prey to the post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this, therefore because of this) logical fallacy is not a terribly effective rebuttal.
The lack of a another terrorist attack on US soil is always the last resort of conservative argument and up till now it seems like a winner. No matter how badly Iraq has gone, "At least there have been no more 9/11's." That ideas eems to be fading:
Nearly three-quarters of Americans say the number of casualties in Iraq is unacceptable, while two-thirds say the U.S. military there is bogged down and nearly six in 10 say the war was not worth fighting -- in all three cases matching or exceeding the highest levels of pessimism yet recorded. More than four in 10 believe the U.S. presence in Iraq is becoming analogous to the experience in Vietnam.
Perhaps most ominous for President Bush, 52 percent said war in Iraq has not contributed to the long-term security of the United States, while 47 percent said it has. It was the first time a majority of Americans disagreed with the central notion Bush has offered to build support for war: that the fight there will make Americans safer from terrorists at home. In late 2003, 62 percent thought the Iraq war aided U.S. security, and three months ago 52 percent thought so.
Katherine Harris is going to run for Senator from Florida. Harris of course is the bad make-up job at the center of the 2000 Florida vote. She already made it to Congress by running in a solid GOP seat, but a Statewide Florida Race will be...Interesting. Avenge Gore! Beat Harris!
John McCain, every democrat's favorite Republican is gearing up for a 2008 Presidential run. If I had to have a GOP President, I would pick McCain, cause with him at least I wouldn't have this terrible feeling in my gut every time I think about who is President now. Of course if I am ok with him, the GOP base will not be, so he will never get the GOP nomination. It will be fun to watch him try, however.
Wars to look forward to:
Cal Thomas wants to go to war with China. Fun times.
June 6, 2005
A group of dolphins living off the coast of Australia apparently teach their offspring to protect their snouts with sponges while foraging for food in the sea floor.
Researchers say it appears to be a cultural behavior passed on from mother to daughter, a first for animals of this type, although such learning has been seen in other species.
The dolphins, living in Shark Bay, Western Australia, use conically shaped whole sponges that they tear off the bottom, said Michael Kruetzen, lead author of a report on the dolphins in Tuesday's issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
"Cultural evolution, including tool use, is not only found in humans and our closest relatives, the primates, but also in animals that are evolutionally quite distant from us. This convergent evolution is what is so fascinating," said Kruetzen.
Mom always says "Protect your snout." Words to live by.
This story reminded me of what could be my favorite Sci-Fi book of all time: David Brin's Startide Rising. Set in the far future, the premise is that with a mix of genetics and other tech humanity has "uplifted" chimps and dolphins to full-blown speech, tool use and intelligence. Dolphins have learned how to speak, fly spaceships and fight wars. The plot of "Startide Rising" follows the first fully dolphin-crewed starship and all the trouble she gets in.
The question is: If dolphins are already smart enough to use tools and it was possible to make them even smarter, should we? I'm talking some massive genetic tampering here. And intelligence is a mixed bag - sure you get poetry and medicine, but you also get high-tech ways to kill. Not to mention the stress.
So, what do you think? If we could, should we give this "gift" to our slick friends?
June 5, 2005
June 2, 2005
I tried to call Felt, but he wouldn't take the call. I tried his home in Virginia and had no better luck. So one night I showed up at his Fairfax home. It was a plain-vanilla, perfectly kept, everything-in-its-place suburban house. His manner made me nervous. He said no more phone calls, no more visits to his home, nothing in the open.
I did not know then that in Felt's earliest days in the FBI, during World War II, he had been assigned to work on the general desk of the Espionage Section. Felt learned a great deal about German spying in the job, and after the war he spent time keeping suspected Soviet agents under surveillance.
So at his home in Virginia that summer, Felt said that if we were to talk it would have to be face to face where no one could observe us.
I said anything would be fine with me.
I've got to get to Blockbuster and get me All the President's Men. Also, we are seeing a conservative push-back. Peggy Noonan is a good example:
Nixon's ruin led to a cascade of catastrophic events--the crude and humiliating abandonment of Vietnam and the Vietnamese, the rise of a monster named Pol Pot, and millions--millions--killed in his genocide. America lost confidence; the Soviet Union gained brazenness. What a terrible time. Is it terrible when an American president lies and surrounds himself by dirty tricksters? Yes, it is. How about the butchering of children in the South China Sea. Is that worse? Yes. Infinitely, unforgettably and forever.
Goes a long way to explain the conservative reaction to the current President, eh?
June 1, 2005
The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.
That's Dick Cheney. Being so wrong it hurts my teeth.