Archive for October, 2004

Print Journalism Isn’t Completely Worthless

Thursday, October 21st, 2004

Sometimes on my commute home, I find the remnents of a newspaper on the train seat next to me, and I skim it. Usually nothing catches my eye, but in the handfull of pages of today’s San Francisco Chronicle, there were two items that caught my eye.

First up was a front page story about Jon Stewart, his impact on youth voters, his Crossfire appearance, and his acknowledgement that he plans on voting for Kerry. In particular: that his fan based doesn’t really care who he plans on voting for; and what really draws them in is “Stewart’s indictment of the system

Second, was Jon Carroll’s own indictment of the system. Or more specifically, his opinions of the debates, the things the candidates lied about, the things we let them lie about because we’re too scared to admit the truth, and things he wishes he would have heard.

Pathologizing Conservatism – or – It’s Not A Lifestyle Choice

Thursday, October 21st, 2004

Props to my buddy mark for pointing to this piece, which documents that conservatives don’t choose to be the way they are, it’s genetic. Normally, I’d brush this off as a “Net Kooks” rant, but they do cite some respectible research. The conclusion’s drawn in the article should defintiely be questioned, but there is some scientific merit to the discussion.

This article also contains the “Quote of the Week” as far as I’m concerned…

Whether it be an unfortunate evolutionary holdover or a mental disease transmitted by our parents—the science is apparently still up in the air—academic researchers have surely amassed enough evidence of psychopathology that conservatism can listed in the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Reasonable people, such as the distinguished academic researchers cited here, will no doubt agree that until effective treatments can be developed, we should reconsider whether sufferers of conservatism, like other mental defectives, should be allowed freely to exercise the franchise.

The New Republic Online Endorses Kerry

Thursday, October 21st, 2004

It’s not shocking news, or anything. And normally I find newspaper and magazine political endorsements really boring. But this one is actually good; it’s thoughtful, well-reasoned, and accurate. From the New Republic: John Kerry for president.

Philosoraptor on Suskind on Bush’s Aide’s Relativism

Thursday, October 21st, 2004

My favorite kind of stuff from Philosoraptor is when he takes some commonplace assertion and really, really (really) thinks about it. Which I guess is kind of the point of being a philosopher.

Anyway: Suskind’s Bush aide is not a relativist.

George Bush: Not a Real Christian

Thursday, October 21st, 2004

I know Yian loves to read detailed analyses of Bush’s Christianity, so here you go, Yian (assuming you haven’t already seen it, which you probably have). From The American Prospect’s Ayelish McGarvey: As God is his witness.

Barlow Thinks Outside the Box on Iraq

Wednesday, October 20th, 2004

John Perry Barlow offers a heavy dose of reality as to future prospects in Iraq: Exit strategies.

“Well,” he sighed, “no one’s going to take this idea seriously, but here’s what I would do. I would free Saddam and tell him to go form a new government.”

That got my attention. “You’d do what?”

Tom Tomorrow on the Media’s “Coverage”

Wednesday, October 20th, 2004

A nice follow-on to Jon Stewart’s appearance on Crossfire last Friday is this cartoon from Tom Tomorrow: This modern world.

Update: Link updated to point to, per commenter carla’s suggestion. Thanks.

Al Gore’s Final MoveOn Speech

Wednesday, October 20th, 2004

Touching again on what Jon Stewart said on Crossfire last Friday, sometimes the person who doesn’t have a chance of winning (or who isn’t even running) can be the most honest about what’s going on. That’s certainly been the case with the series of speeches Al Gore has been giving over the past year or so, and he gave a great one Monday at Georgetown: Al Gore speaks on Iraq.

Where’s My Bicycle? (v2.0)

Wednesday, October 20th, 2004

Five o’clock Christmas morning, I run downstairs, and look under the tree, and what do I find? Uncle Alfresco dead on the floor, shot through the back of the head. Plus… no bicycle.
  —   Steve Martin as Vinnie in Nora Ephron’s My Blue Heaven

Less than two weeks to go now, and I’m getting anxious for my October surprise. I wrote about this back in May, in Bush poll numbers: yup, still dropping:

The obvious choice would be the capture or killing of Osama bin Laden. Or if that doesn’t pan out, I guess they might try an attack on Syria.

It’s like being a kid again. What will Daddy give us for Christmas? Will it be a bicycle? Or a BB gun?

I think it’s a little late for the Osama-on-ice scenario. If they had him they would have trotted him out already. And I think airstrikes on Iranian nuke facilities probably make more sense than an attack on Syria at this point. I guess if I had to put my money on something, it would be on that.

Other speculation:

It would really shock me if we didn’t get something. And I was thinking about it, and thinking about how whatever it was probably wouldn’t be anything I’d thought of (hence the “surprise” part), when I came across this photo at First Draft (Happy Kerry photo: Rock star edition):

Kerry greets supporters

And I don’t know; for some reason my mind suddenly flashed to Bobby Kennedy at the Biltmore Hotel. I mean, if the point of my thinking about this is to try to sink to the lowest possible level, to imagine what people with no scruples might do if they got desperate enough, then why not? Why wouldn’t they just assassinate him? I mean, we’re talking about a group of people with a demonstrated willingness to kill people (lots of people, actually) in pursuit of their political agenda. What’s one more?

Looks at those crowds. There’s an energy there, an excitement — and a degree of chaos. How hard would it be? It wouldn’t even need to be sanctioned from on-high. If you’ve been paying attention you know how crazy it’s getting out there. The country is polarized in a way it hasn’t been since, well, since the last time folks with guns decided to start rearranging the domestic political picture.

I can hear you telling me I need to lighten up, and I’m sure you’re right. I tell myself the same thing. But still. As a country we’ve been through this before. Why couldn’t it happen again?

In the caption for the above photo, Athenae wrote, “He’s gonna be a Beatle before all this is over.”

Right. But which one?

Ad Graveyard

Tuesday, October 19th, 2004

Well, one of the stories that was lost in the server crash was about the Ad Graveyard. Which is pretty cool, so I figured I’d post it again.

Krugman on Bush on the Draft

Tuesday, October 19th, 2004

Paul Krugman points out the obvious about Bush’s assertions that he would never reinstate the draft: We’ve heard these kinds of protestations from Bush before. Just because he refuses to acknowledge that his chosen direction leads over a cliff, doesn’t mean we’re obliged to march over the edge with him. Anyway: Feeling the draft.

Those who are worrying about a revived draft are in the same position as those who worried about a return to budget deficits four years ago, when President Bush began pushing through his program of tax cuts. Back then he insisted that he wouldn’t drive the budget into deficit – but those who looked at the facts strongly suspected otherwise. Now he insists that he won’t revive the draft. But the facts suggest that he will.

Server Problems…

Tuesday, October 19th, 2004

Sigh. New server’s drive died, so I got to go through the process of re-installing everything for the second time in a few days. And the new backup looks to be corrupted, so I’ve lost the last few days of posts and comments.

Working on recovering that. Here’s hoping…

Update: It’s dead, Jim.

I’ve lost all posts and comments entered since Saturday morning. Sorry to everyone affected. I’ll do my best to be more careful going forward.

Later update: Yian, to whom I would propose marriage, if I’d ever actually met her, and if both of us weren’t already happily married, forwarded me her newreader’s rss feed, so I’ll be able to recreate the posts that Hossman (to whom I would also propose marriage, were it legal, and etc.) hasn’t already recreated. So look for that. Thanks, y’all.

Still later update: Looks like the only one still missing is “Onward Superchristian Soldiers,” which I can probably live without. And in light of a commenter’s complaint about my having “censored” the discussion, I’ve been shamed into doing my best to restore the nuked comments from the separate (emailed) records I have of those.

Sigh. Yo, Jaybird: Yes indeed I certainly do want to fork over the extra bucks for the mirrored disk. Sheesh.

For the World Is Hollow, and I Have Touched the Sky

Saturday, October 16th, 2004

People can convince themselves of anything. And I’m not even talking about those confidently predicting a Bush landslide. No, I mean this guy: Hollow earth theory…

If you could give me a clear, repeatable proof for the Copernican world, a solid, convex earth, I would cancel my home page and turn to something else.

Please, take your time to think about the world-view here given. With it I show that satellite photos can also prove the inside world-view (geocosmos), since the same optical laws are valid in either case.

I had been studying physics at the University of Stuttgart for two semesters or one year.

Several experiments such as the rectilineator, plumb line tests, motion of light experiments by Prof. Allais, etc., convinced me that we live on the inside surface of a hollow sphere.

I especially like the diagrams.

Stewart on Crossfire

Friday, October 15th, 2004

If you didn’t see Jon Stewart of The Daily Show on CNN’s Crossfire today, you must do so. It was intense. He did that “sad little man” thing, where he talks painfully honestly about what’s wrong with TV news coverage, but he went with it for pretty much the entire program, rather than just the few seconds he normally does.

My favorite part was this:

CARLSON: I do think you’re more fun on your show. Just my opinion.


CARLSON: OK, up next, Jon Stewart goes one on one with his fans…


STEWART: You know what’s interesting, though? You’re as big a dick on your show as you are on any show.


I was, like, my God, did he just say that?

Anyway: BitTorrent download info. And for the bandwidth challenged, the CNN transcript.

George: Why I Can’t Vote for Bush

Friday, October 15th, 2004

Another political conservative who can’t, in good conscience, vote for Bush. Robert A. George makes an awfully strong case. I basically agree with his take on just what it is that makes Bush such a bad choice. (Hint: It isn’t about some strange lump under his jacket.) Anyway: Conscientious objector.

Cohen on the Incredible Vanishing President

Friday, October 15th, 2004

Richard Cohen has an interesting column in the Washington Post: The president vanishes.

Had Bush admitted that things went wrong with Iraq, he could have been himself. But he was out there three times telling us what we know is not true. This was Kerry’s problem when he was defending his vote in favor of a war that he never, in his gut, thought was a good idea. When he finally was able to say how he really felt, his campaign took off. The man settled into his own skin. He had the better argument. The camera picked it up.

Bush, though, has been hobbled by artifice. The natural has been turned into just another synthetic pol. His only good moments came when he talked about his faith and his family, tapping into a wellspring of emotional truth. Other than that, he was only rarely the politician he used to be — crushed, not empowered by incumbency. If I could, I’d wager differently. The man I bet on no longer exists.

grannyinsanity on the Real Significance of the Mary Cheney Thing

Friday, October 15th, 2004

I didn’t like it when Kerry went out of his way to mention Mary Cheney’s being a lesbian in his answer at the last debate. Yes, despite the fact that he was making a point about reason and tolerance that was refreshing to hear, especially coming from someone who has straddled the issue by talking about how marriage should always be between a man and a woman as a matter of definition.

Speaking out for tolerance, pointing out that gays and lesbians are just being who they are, is great. But going out of his way to mention Mary Cheney was indeed cheap and tawdry. Not because there’s anything wrong with being gay. But because it was clearly intended to hurt the Bush campaign through an appeal to precisely the sort of bigotry that the response allegedly argued against.

This is the reality about Kerry that has always bugged me. This is the kernel of truth that gives legs to the charges from Bush that he’s just an unprincipled opportunist.

And yeah, I’ve argued with myself back and forth on it. There comes a point in the struggle where you have to be willing to get down in the mud and wrestle alligators if you want to win. Is it better to compromise your principles in order to fight fire with fire, or is it better to stay pure and above the fray, and lose?

Clearly, there’s a lot at stake in this election. Losing to Bush would really, really suck. And the fact that Kerry is willing to engage in this kind of gutter politics is just part of his makeup, part of what has put him in a position to beat Bush.

But I still don’t like it, and wish he hadn’t done it. It smacked of hypocrisy, which is why the other side is making so much hay with it now. And then there’s this, from Lambert of corrente: Ah! I get the Mary Cheney thing!

Alert reader grannyinsanity explains:

Let me explain this one to you folks. It is a diversion plain and simple.

The biggest thing that happened at the debate was George Bush denying that he said he wasn’t that concerned about Bin Laden.

That was a lie so blatant that many bloggers had the link posted before the subject even changed. Josh Marshall and Kevin Drum both predicted that we would be seeing that over and over.

That hasn’t happened because Lynne Cheney threw out a great big cheap shiny distraction.

I would still like to see that public display of George caught in a big whopper, but that won’t happen as long as the press is distracted by Lynne Cheney’s hypocritcal grandstanding

[Sound of lambert striking forehead] Duh!

Imperliasm 101 from

Friday, October 15th, 2004

Fun cartoon in the Schoolhouse Rock tradition: Pirates & Emperors.

Today from Drum’s Obsession with Bush’s Bulge

Friday, October 15th, 2004

Craig says Kevin Drum admits that Bush isn’t wired with a hidden receiver to prompt him during ostensibly unprompted speaking opportunities (like debates). But Drum remains obsessively interested in the question of just what that thing is under Bush’s jacket: The Bush bulge.

Today from Salon’s Obsession with Bush’s Bulge

Thursday, October 14th, 2004

We irresponsibly link, you decide. From Salon’s Farhad Manjoo (hm. and what kind of name is that?): The bulge returns.

Look, I don’t know what it is. But it’s something. I mean, I’ve tried to convince myself that it’s just his shoulder blades and some edge-on lighting. But no, it’s not.

Also, watching Bush at the debate, there were times when I seriously thought he was “shadowing” (listening to secret instructions, before speaking the prompted words). He’d get this goofy look, staring blankly into space for a few seconds with a slight brow-pucker, then resume his response with a new point completely unrelated to what he’d been saying before.

Yeah, I know. Maybe that’s just him thinking. Maybe the effects of all that hard partying have caught up with him, such that the thought process that goes into speaking extemporaneously requires visible effort.

Maybe. But even if true, that isn’t exactly the best qualification for the presidency. And still, what’s under his damn jacket?

Sigh. Craig: help me out here. Voice of reason time. What’s going on?