Friday, February 29, 2008

Why McCain would be a very bad president


It's not too early to start thinking about why McCain would be an awful president:
  • He is even more wrong about Iraq than the Bush administration, if that's possible. He thinks that because our troop escalation has coincided with a reduction in violence (down to levels that were considered catastrophic a few years ago, but now seem better by comparison), that somehow means that our presence is solving long term issues like power sharing between Shia and Sunni.
  • OK, McCain is really smoking crack about Iraq. So much so that it deserves another bullet point. Remember that time McCain walked through the Baghdad marketplace, guarded by massive amounts of firepower and wearing a bulletproof vest, and then commented how one could "walk freely" in some parts of Baghdad? That is the level of reality denial he has about the situation. It's really scary.
  • McCain took a good Beach Boys song and turned it into a joke about bombing Iran. The moral callousness of that aside, what does he think bombing Iran would actually accomplish? Wouldn't it just make them more determined to acquire nuclear weapons, and justify all the "Great Satan" rhetoric that the theocrats in that country use to justify their stranglehold on power? Is there any realistic scenario in which the strategic position of the United States would be better after a bombing Iran?
  • McCain doesn't support a woman's right to control her own body.
  • McCain gets endorsements from complete wingnut freakazoids like John Hagee (who thinks God deliberately killed all those people in New Orleans with a hurricane because of a gay pride parade). And McCain states that he's "very proud to have pastor Hagee's support." (Greenwald asks the relevant question: Why do blacks always have to distance themselves from the likes of Farrakhan, but whites can get support from the most batshit-crazy wackjobs and not suffer any credibility hits for it?)
  • He's a Republican. He kisses Bush's ass. He might make some noise about dissenting so he can give the press an excuse to keep up with their mindless narrative of how independent he is. But in the end he knuckles under. Electing McCain would empower Republicans to continue all the hideous policies they've been foisting on us these
  • Even on the issue of torture, which given McCain's horrific experiences as a POW you'd think he'd never waver on, when push comes to shove he won't vote for banning it completely.
  • McCain caved to the xenophobic right-wingers on the issue of immigration reform. (Not that the corporatist Republican version was great, but it was better than the nativist Republican version.)
  • McCain voted against SCHIP re-authorization. Indeed the Children's Defense Fund Action Council gave him the worst rating of all Senators.
  • McCain's got a really bad temper.
That's just a few to get started. There will no doubt be more. McCain has a lot of undeserved positive media. Don't get sucked in. And his campaign and the Republican party are going to fling a lot of nasty mud at the Democratic nominee, whoever it turns out to be. We can't let the Republican nominee sail by on his favorable media coverage. McCain would be an awful president, and should be kept FAR AWAY from the White House.

Norm Coleman astroturfs

Here's one that might be of interest to my Minnesota reader(s): Republican Senator Norm Coleman got caught astroturfing.

(Don't know what astroturfing is? It was term of the day here at Internal Monologue almost two years ago.)

A few quick things

Obama's letter about gay equality. Personally, I'm in favor of full civil marriage for gay couples rather than just civil unions. But this is a pretty strong statement in favor of gay equality and inclusion.

We found a witch (back in 1944 in Scotland), may we pardon her? Isn't 1944 a little bit late to be convicting people of witchcraft? Egad.

Marc Ambinder does some delegate math, and it looks like Clinton has a pretty uphill battle. He can't find any realistic scenario in which she can get the nomination unless the Florida and Michigan delegations are allowed to participate. (The rules exclude them because those states had primaries earlier than the party allowed. Since they were excluded, neither candidate campaigned there. Clinton got more votes there, so now she wants those delegations seated. They may be seated, but probably not until after the nomination.)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Be your own political pollster...

...with Google Trends! This post on Open Left asks whether Google Trends can be used to spot political momentum. The conclusion:

Conclusion: Google Trends probably does show momentum.

If you find yourself hovering over the refresh button waiting for the next poll to come out, try visiting Google Trends while you wait. It looks like, for the Democratic primaries so far at least, search volumes are pretty good predictors of who is gaining and who is not.

The plight of women in Afghanistan

These statistics hit me pretty hard:
87: The percentage of Afghan women who report suffering physical abuse, half of which is sexual.
-60: The percentage of marriages in Afghanistan that are forced.
-57: The percentage of Afghan brides who are under the age of 16.
-88: The illiteracy rate amongst Afghan women.
-5: The percentage of Afghan girls attending secondary school.
-1 in 9: The number of women in Afghanistan who die in childbirth — that’s the highest in the world, alongside Sierra Leone.
-1 Million: The number of Afghan widows who have no rights, including no right to work — leaving them to beg on the street.
-£800 to £2,000: The price of a child bride if Afghanistan.
Statistics were compiled on Feministe from this article at AlterNet.

Thomas still hasn't said anything

Clarence Thomas' silent streak, which I blogged about last May, remains unbroken:
WASHINGTON - Two years and 144 cases have passed since Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas last spoke up at oral arguments. It is a period of unbroken silence that contrasts with the rest of the court's unceasing inquiries.

Hardly a case goes by, including two appeals that were argued Monday, without eight justices peppering lawyers with questions. Oral arguments offer justices the chance to resolve nagging doubts about a case, probe its weaknesses or make a point to their colleagues.

Left, right and center, the justices ask and they ask and they ask. Sometimes they debate each other, leaving the lawyer at the podium helpless to jump in. "I think you're handling these questions very well," Chief Justice John Roberts quipped to a lawyer recently in the midst of one such exchange.

Leaning back in his leather chair, often looking up at the ceiling, Thomas takes it all in, but he never joins in.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Is McCain hamstringed by his own law?

This story on DailyKos, if true, is pretty devastating for McCain:

If you follow the implications, since he entered the federal matching funds program, John McCain is now essentially at the spending limit, and is legally prohibited from spending any more money until September. To spend more money would be to break federal law.

That law, by the way, is sometimes named after its Senate sponsors: McCain-Feingold.

Now McCain claims to have withdrawn from the federal matching funds program. But since he gained benefits from joining it, it might not be possible for him to withdraw:

McCain publicly declared that he would accept the matching funds (and therefore abide by the spending limits). But since he was broke, he had to go to a bank and secure a loan under dubious conditions. Since he appears to have secured the loan by using his eligibility to accept the federal matching funds, it seems fairly clear that he is committed to the federal matching funds system.

The DNC's complaint will allege the following. Fist, that McCain used his status as a candidate operating under the federal matching fund program to gain access on state ballots without having to spend any money to submit signatures.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. If McCain can't spend money until September, that could be utterly crippling. Republican donors will channel the money to third parties or something.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

How Ikea names its products

I thought they just had a random Scandinavian-sounding name generating algorithm, but turns out those Ikea product names are actual words in Scandinavian languages.

I'm sure my lovely wife can relate to this...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Abstinence Only Driver's Ed

From Timothy McSweeney:

Car accidents are a leading cause of death for teenagers. The school board and your elected representatives want to make sure that you and your families are spared from such a tragedy, which is why the money for driver's ed was eliminated from the budget. Whereas last year I was teaching your older siblings how to shift and brake and three-point-turn during a six-week course, it has since been decreed that I actually need just one afternoon to tell you the only piece of safety information I'm permitted by law to share:

The ONLY 100 percent effective method for avoiding car accidents is to ABSTAIN from driving until marriage.

Read it all. It's pretty funny.

Ms. Pac-Man: Feminist Hero

Note that YouTube's practice of showing the middle frame of posted videos makes this look like some Coulter/Nazi propaganda piece. It isn't. Coulter only appears fleetingly, I promise.
HT: Feministing

Politics of a Lego town

Here's a fascinating essay on the politics of a Lego town built by a group of 5-9 year old kids in an after school program. The town started out dominated by an oligarchy of Lego enthusiasts who excluded other kids and fiercely competed amongst themselves for the precious resource of "cool pieces". After some pretty drastic social intervention from the teachers (including banning the Legos for a time--what a bunch of killjoys), the Lego town was reborn as a radically egalitarian and communitarian enterprise:

From this framework, the children made a number of specific proposals for rules about Legos, engaged in some collegial debate about those proposals, and worked through their differing suggestions until they reached consensus about three core agreements:

  • All structures are public structures. Everyone can use all the Lego structures. But only the builder or people who have her or his permission are allowed to change a structure.

  • Lego people can be saved only by a "team" of kids, not by individuals.

  • All structures will be standard sizes.

With these three agreements — which distilled months of social justice exploration into a few simple tenets of community use of resources — we returned the Legos to their place of honor in the classroom.

Reihan, writing on Sullivan's blog, has a negative reaction to this:
But that, of course, is the trouble with radical egalitarianism. It is ultimately driven by intense hostility towards "the children at the top of the Legotown hierarchy" rather than a dispassionate critique of "the system at work in Legotown." Challenging and reformulating Legotown means changing which kids are at the top of the Legotown hierarchy. Instead of kids who are good at building things with Legos, it will instead be the kids who please the teachers with their dedication to radical egalitarianism. And so it goes.
Now I could be sympathetic to both egalitarian and elitist moral arguments. On the one hand, I like fairness. If I was a kid playing with Legos and building a town with other kids, I would want some structure in place to make sure I got my fair share of Lego resources without having to constantly fight other kids for them. On the other hand, if the stuff I built was way cooler than the crap other kids were building, I'd deeply resent the fact that my expertise and work was not rewarded with superior access to Lego resources.

I think the article describing the Lego towns suffers from a glaring omission: There are no pictures of the Lego towns described. The authors of the article treat these Lego-related power interactions as purely political and moral exercises, with absolutely no consideration of the actual end product itself. It is as if they were discussing the relative merits of two political systems without any reference to the actual conditions those political systems create. Maybe if you're a teacher, the purpose of Legos is to instill children with egalitarian moral principles. But when I was a kid, Legos were for building cool shit.

The authors of the article would make a much stronger case if they could show that the Lego town built along egalitarian and communitarian principles was better than the Lego town dominated by a narrow elite. But they never do. Indeed, they never discuss the relative aesthetic merits of any of the Lego constructions at all. Any discussion of Lego politics that does not base its arguments at least in part on the end quality of the product is completely missing the point.

Friday, February 22, 2008

More embarrassing demo footage of me

Dude, I'm famous. It's perhaps not the exact type of fame I would have chosen, and if it would pain you to see me mocked horribly, then you probably shouldn't watch this or read the comments. But here's Kotaku's video mash-up of me lifting the rock in our GDC demo. It's had over 13,500 views. Of course I had to post a good-natured response in the comments (as of this posting, my comment hasn't yet appeared, so I can't paste it here).

If you can't get enough of watching me in impossibly awkward situations, Joystiq has posted some video of Yours Truly in the now-infamous "Black Tuesday" Demo from Hell (well, infamous to me, anyway). As an aside, we brought the people from Joystiq into our booth today and did a demo with them in the Epoc(TM) headset. Apparently they have been converted to believing it works.

I'm sure there's more I could find on Google, but that should be enough for today...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

GDC: The demo from hell; triumph in the booth

If you wonder why I haven't been posting, it's because of the Game Developers' Conference I've been doing. Tuesday night we had a huge press demo, and it was a colossal disaster, to put it mildly.

The wireless headsets that the AV people used ran in the same frequency as our Emotiv Epoc headset. In an empty room, they didn't put out much power, but with the room full they had to boost their output and completely drowned out our stuff. So it looked like our technology didn't work, when in fact our brand new brain-computer interface technology worked fine, it was the old 2.4 GHz wireless stuff that got knocked out.

By the time it was my turn to go on, it was clear things were going terribly wrong. I had to go on stage in front of 125 journalists and 100 gaming industry luminaries and talk about our game, knowing that the headset probably wouldn't work (by this time we knew the headset wasn't functioning, but not why). I stalled desperately for time, hoping that we could resolve the problem, not knowing that backstage they had already given up. When it became obvious that no one was going to come from backstage with a functioning headset to save my sorry, stranded ass, I launched into a desperate improvisation, describing to the audience what they would see if our headset were working. I apologized profusely. I played for sympathy. I invited people to come to our booth and try it for themselves. I made fun of my situation. I hammed it up as best I could.

Here's what Joystiq had to say about the debacle:
"Can we do it without the headset?" Nam whispered into his mic from off-stage. ["No!" I replied, but for some God-awful reason had to go on anyway] Producer Zachary Drake had hopped up to demonstrate the game, developed in partnership with Demiurge Studios. (Each headset will ship with this tech demo, call it: Emotiv's 'Wii Sports.')
"Welcome to demo hell, folks!" Drake grinned, clutching a wireless Xbox 360 controller. Drake began navigating through the game, a "cloud-top temple," pausing at certain points, asking us to imagine what would occur had he been wearing the neuro-headset, twisting and stretching his face into hypothetical game commands. What irony! He chased off a swarm of glowing demon spirits, lifted a giant boulder and transformed the sky from serene green to a "brilliant orange" -- all in our minds!
He forgot to mention my clever invocation of the narrator at the beginning of Shakespeare's Henry V, who asks the audience:
Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts;
Into a thousand parts divide on man,
And make imaginary puissance;
Think when we talk of horses, that you see them
Printing their proud hoofs i' the receiving earth;
For 'tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings,
[...]
I didn't know the exact quote, but I knew about what the narrator says at the beginning. Basically, since I was forced to talk of things they wouldn't see, I had to ask the audience to pretend they were seeing stuff. I tried to describe things as vividly as I could, but I felt like I was making hand-shadow puppets and utterly talking out of my ass. I wanted nothing more than to run far, far away. It was a performer's absolute worst nightmare. It was probably one of the most hellish experiences I have ever undergone.

Ironically, I got more positive comments on my brief presentation that disastrous night than on just about anything I've ever done. People were still coming up to me today during the convention and congratulating me. I think the absolute impossibility of my situation was quite clear to everyone, so I actually got a good deal of sympathy.

It was a small bit of consolation when I heard that Microsoft had the exact same problem with their wireless controllers during their keynote address today.

On a more positive note, our demos in the booth went extremely well (except during the few brief times when the 2.4 GHz frequency got overwhelmed again). How ironic that we couldn't get it to work ourselves, but the next day we got it to work on complete novices who had never been in the Emotiv Epoc headset before! People left amazed, and convinced that it works. The demo I've slaving over with Demiurge for the past six weeks seemed to be a great way to show off the headset, and everyone concluded that the day was a great success.

Other Emotiv Systems coverage featuring yours truly:
I'm sure more news accounts of "Black Tuesday" will be appearing. We managed to drag 125 journalists there or something. But we should also be getting some great coverage from CNET and 60 Minutes and others who came to the booth today and had some great experiences.

What a crazy couple of days it has been.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The War is Over!!!!

Unfortunately, the war I'm referring to is not the occupation of Iraq or whatever one might call our presence in Afghanistan. The war that's over is the The Blu-ray vs. HD DVD war. Blu-ray won. That's very sad, because my laptop can play HD DVD discs. Well, maybe I can get some really cheap now.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Maniak isn't the only one skeptical of satellite shoot down

Kevin Drum links to this Danger Room blog post that discusses experts' skeptical reaction to the US justification for shooting down the satellite:
Having the US government spend millions of dollars to destroy a billion-dollar failure to save zero lives is comedic gold."

"There has to be another reason behind this," said Michael Krepon, co-founder of the Henry L. Stimson Center, tells the Washington Post. "In the history of the space age, there has not been a single human being who has been harmed by man-made objects falling from space."

The Danger Room blog post has a lot of good information. See Maniak's original Internal Monologue post here.

1200 years of female Catholic priests?

There's a new book coming out, claiming that the Catholic church had female officials for 1200 years, then reversed policy and tried to erase that history:

The Catholic church ordained women for the first 1,200 years of Christianity, says a new book by a U.S. scholar.

Then, in a struggle for political power in the 12th and 13th centuries, it vilified females, banned married clergy and rewrote its own history to excise clerical women.

Women were made deaconesses (equivalent to deacons) episcopae (bishops), and presbyterae (priests), and they preached, heard confessions, performed baptisms and even blessed the bread and wine for communion, says Gary Macy, a theology professor at Santa Clara University in California.

(HT: Pablo via email) Maybe, after reading this book, the officials at the school I mentioned in the previous post will allow women to officiate high school basketball games.

Laughing at people with ridiculous beliefs justified by religious nonsense, part LXXVI

OK, I didn't actually count how many times I've done this sort of thing here on Internal Monologue, but pointing out this kind of wacky stuff has been a staple of this blog since its early days:

The Kansas State High School Activities Association said referees reported that Michelle Campbell was preparing to officiate at St. Mary's Academy near Topeka on Feb. 2 when a school official insisted that Campbell could not call the game.

The reason given, according to the referees: Campbell, as a woman, could not be put in a position of authority over boys because of the academy's beliefs.

(HT: Feministe) What a bunch of dorks. It almost makes me want to shift my support to Hilary Clinton, because it would be so fun to watch their heads explode if she were elected. I mean, we have a female Secretary of State (albeit not one I approve of) fer Chrissakes, and these school officials won't let a woman referee a frickin' high school basketball game? Feministe asks:
So do they not have female teachers? Are sons not taught to listen to their mothers? Do men not have to follow instructions from female police officers or law enforcement officials?
Good points.

And yes, this is a story from FOX news, but I'll support them for bringing this kind of stuff to light. I'm glad that the other male referees, upon hearing why she was asked to leave, refused to work in her place. More info on this story here.

Lone Star State dildos liberated by 5th US Circuit Court

This law apparently hadn't been enforced for a while, but it's good to see it officially struck down:

A federal appeals court has struck down a Texas law that makes it a crime to promote or sell sex toys.

"Whatever one might think or believe about the use of these devices," said an opinion written by Justice Thomas M. Reavley of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, "government interference with their personal and private use violates the Constitution."

HT Feministing.

Messing with people's minds in Grand Central Station

I'd be afraid to do this for fear of being mistaken for a terrorist by spooked security personnel, but it's pretty cool:

HT: Adrienne via my wife via email.

Obama rising

This pollster.com graph, which consolidates a bunch of polls, has Obama above Clinton for the first time:
(HT: Sullivan) I'm an Obama supporter, but the slope of that orange line is a wee bit freaky.

And is it a coincidence that Obama's line is orange, the color of lefty blog community titan DailyKos? Probably.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Maniak: that stuff about the satellite gas tank is crap

You may have heard of this story from CNN about the US intending to shoot down one of our own spy satellites for "safety reasons":
The attempt by the U.S. Navy to use an anti-missile missile to shoot down a potentially hazardous satellite will cost between $40 million and $60 million, Pentagon officials told CNN on Friday.
[...]
Pentagon officials argue the effort is worth the expense because of the slim -- but real -- chance that the satellite's unused fuel, 1,000 pounds of toxic hydrazine, could land in a populated area.
Emphasis added. Maniak, Internal Monologue's top-secret resident rocketry expert, is calling bullshit:
What a load of crap. There's NO WAY a fully-loaded hydrazine tank survives reentry. Now, an empty or almost empty tank might, because with its low mass and high surface area profile, it would decelerate rapidly and basically float down like a scrap of paper from high in the atmosphere. But a full tank is going to blow out shortly after interface because it's going to maintain its velocity for longer, and there will be more of a chance for it to heat and melt. So the hydrazine is nothing but an excuse, which means that they have to want to make damn sure no one finds even small parts of whatever's in that thing. $60 million worth of sure.
Maniak goes on to speculate (Note: ASAT = anti-satellite weapon):
  1. China has pissed us off royally in the ASAT demonstration department.
  2. We can't deploy first-strike ASAT overtly in Asia without causing a major diplomatic row.
  3. Japan already owns the SM3 platform in an ABM (defensive) capacity.
  4. If this works, it demonstrates that some pretty simple retrofits converts the SM3 to a low-rent ASAT platform.
  5. China now has to assume Japan will do those retrofits on their own, or with secret US help.
  6. Ta-da. We now have at least a virtual first-strike ASAT threat in Asia.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Vegan Strip Club

Yes, apparently Portland, Oregon boasts a vegan strip club (HT: Feministing). Of course, a lot of strip clubs don't serve any food at all (or so I've heard...), so I guess they could be considered vegan, too. And I hope this club's veganism extends to the costumes the performers wear. I'd hate to encounter a leather collar or a feather boa in a purportedly vegan strip club.

While a vegan strip club is quite a remarkable thing, it was this last little bit of info that caught my attention:
In addition to laying claim to the world's first vegan strip club, Diablo also said his club offers another first in Portland -- the first non-smoking strip club in the city.
Having lived in California for some time, I forget there are places in this country where smoking is still allowed in indoor public places. Yuck.

Maybe I can get Grishnash to do an investigative report on this place ("Casa Diablo") and file a report here on Internal Monologue.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Donna Edwards wins it

Internal Monologue-endorsed Donna Edwards won her primary. Yay netroots power! We triumphed over the mindless backing of the establishment. One more better Democrat.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I would support Clinton, too

I have endorsed Obama, but I want to make it clear that I would enthusiastically support Clinton in the general election against the Republican, probably John "I think we're winning in Iraq and if you disagree you're a traitor" McCain. I think Krugman's column today over-stated the rivalry between the supporters of the two leading Democratic candidates (UPDATE: The Carpetbagger Report agrees). From the polls I've seen, the vast majority of Clinton and Obama supporters would be satisfied with the other candidate. Of course they're going to fight for the one they prefer. But that's not the same as hating the other one.

This is not what's going on with the Republican nomination. Many Republicans and right-wing movement figures can't stand McCain, and aren't shy about saying so.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Dust Storm at Concord Senior Center, Sat Feb 16th 2pm

Photo by Christopher Irion

I will be performing Dust Storm: Art and Survival in a Time of Paranoia at the Concord Senior Center on Saturday, February 16th at 2pm. See their calendar for more information. The play is written by Rick Foster with art by Chiura Obata.

There will also be an April 10th noon performance at Cal State East Bay Theater in Hayward, CA. I'll give more information on that as it approaches.

Here's the info:

"Dust Storm" begins at 2:00 p.m. Doors open at 1:00 p.m.

To purchase tickets or for information, call the Concord Senior Center at 925-671-3320 or go to http://cityofconcord.org/duststorm. We strongly encourage you to purchase your tickets sooner rather than later since there will be reserved seating on a strict first-come, first-served basis.

Advance-Purchase Tickets:

  • General Admission $15.00
  • Students (full time) $10.00
  • Seniors (50 years & over) $10.00

  • All Tickets Sold at the Door $18.00

A seating chart can be found at http://cityofconcord.org/duststorm

Directions can be found here


American kids write to American soldiers in Iraq

From Kaboom: A Soldier's War Journal, via Sullivan:
Here’s a list of my early favorites, all advice suggested by real American children in real American letters with real American crayons. This is what the Red, White, and Blue is all about, you dig? If we fight this Long War to protect the nurturing of such beautiful understatement, I’m all for it. It’s as good a reason as any, and not contrived like the normal political justifications.

-- I hope you don’t die, soldier. That would be bad.

-- I feel sorry for you.

-- I think war is worse than math.

-- My daddy doesn’t want me to be in the soldiers, cause he says that the Irack will last forever. Maybe if he changes his mind I’ll see you in the Irack.

-- My cousin was in war but he got hurt. Now he has a big beard and drinks beer all day long. My mom says he should get a job.

-- Can you send me back a bad guy’s head? That would be cool.

-- I think it’s fun you went to the same school as I do, even if I wasn’t born yet. How old are you, anyways?
(Note: A group of third-graders from my elementary school sent me a collection of letters. This selection is the only sampling from them, specifically.)

-- I’m going to study real hard, so I don’t have to go to Iraq. Do you wish you had done better at school? (Note to John Kerry and other assorted communists, from CPT Whiteback: "Most of our soldiers have matriculated at a higher level than your average John Q. Public. So F off with the 'You joined the Army ... oh ... what happened, you couldn't get a job?' stuff. AND STOP TELLING YOUR KIDS WE'RE DUMB! Whiteback out.")

-- I hate cursive. Do you have to write in cursive for war?

-- Is it like the movies? Do our letters make you feel better?


To answer the last selection’s questions: No. And yes. Keep ‘em coming, Millennials, and edify me about the bizarre Japanimation that has inexplicably returned to Saturday morning cartoons.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Obama has string of victories

According to Open Left, Obama won about 45 more delegates than Clinton tonight from Washington State, Nebraska, Louisiana, and the Virgin Islands.

On the other hand, Hillary Clinton's fund raising seems to have taken off. This commenter on Marc Ambinder's blog offers an explanation:
A lot of her supporters figured she would win easily, and early on didn't really need the money. Obviously it's possible she'll lose, -- and this is clear to everybody -- and her supporters have finally had a big ol' fire lit under their arses.
Meanwhile, on the Republican side of things, Mike Huckabee seems positioned to go 3 for 3. A lot of Repubicans really don't like McCain, do they?

Christian singles ad

I wonder if I use the phrases "Christian" and "singles" enough on this blog, I can get this ad to appear in my Google AdSense box:


(via Orcinus) I'm sure this ad will attract all manner of "safe" Christians into their online dating community. I can feel the spirit of Jesus moving within me just by looking at it.

Huckabee wins Kansas caucuses

Despite the fact that McCain is almost certain to win the GOP nomination, there are large segments of the GOP base that can't stand him. For example, Kansas just went for Huckabee 60%-24%. While I'm happy the GOP is failing to rally around McCain (he was booed at the Conservative Political Action Conference, but Blogometer indicates some conservatives are coming around), it's frightening how popular Huckabee is. Here's a "top 10 moments in Huckabee's extremism" from Perspectives:
  1. Huckabee Calls for the Quarantine of AIDS Victims

  2. Huckabee Enables the Politically-Motivated Parole of Repeat Rapist/Murderer

  3. Huckabee Offers Faith-Based Pardons

  4. Huckabee Undermines the Teaching of Evolution

  5. Huckabee Speaks for God

  6. Huckabee Speaks to God

  7. Huckabee Claims God Behind His Rise in the Polls

  8. Huckabee Proclaims His Theology Degree a Unique Qualification to Fight Terrorism

  9. Huckabee Flip-Flops, Calls for Federal Abortion Ban

  10. Huckabee Calls for Consumption Tax, Abolition of the IRS

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Random election thoughts from Grishnash

From Grishnash via email:
  • Ron Paul will be the first candidate involuntarily eliminated from the race in the likely event he doesn't win Louisiana.
  • McCain can wrap up the nomination no earlier than the Puerto Rico primary (Feb 24th).
  • If the margins of victory don't average at least 65/35 for Obama, or 61/39 for Clinton across the remaining 26 states and territories, the Democratic nominee will go into the convention undecided.
Wow, a convention that wouldn't be an excruciatingly dull exercise in ceremonial pomp. That should be interesting. I'm sure all the political analysis shows will welcome the boost in ratings.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Who does better against McCain, Obama or Clinton?

One important consideration many Democrats (including commenters on this blog) want to take into account when deciding who to vote for in the primary is: who would do best against the likely Republican nominee, John McCain?

Fortunately, we do have some data on this. RealClearPolitics has been tracking head-to-head polls of Clinton vs. McCain and Obama vs. McCain. Here are their averages:

McCain vs. Clinton: McCain +1.9%
McCain vs. Obama: McCain +0.6%

So according to RCP, Obama polls slightly better against McCain than Clinton does.

This data also shows that the Democrats will have their work cut out for them taking McCain down. I think tying him to the deeply unpopular Iraq occupation is one way to go on this.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Obama vs. Clinton on the Iraq occupation

Here's one of the major reasons I'm supporting Obama over Clinton (from a Christopher Hayes essay in The Nation via Pandagon):
The war is the most obvious and powerful distinction between the two: Hillary Clinton voted for and supported the most disastrous American foreign policy decision since Vietnam, and Barack Obama (at a time when it was deeply courageous to do so) spoke out against it. In this campaign, their proposals are relatively similar, but in rhetoric and posture Clinton has played hawk to Obama's dove, attacking from the right on everything from the use of first-strike nuclear weapons to negotiating with Iran's president. Her hawkishness relative to Obama's is mirrored in her circle of advisers. As my colleague Ari Berman has reported in these pages, it's a circle dominated by people who believed and believe that waging pre-emptive war on Iraq was the right thing to do. Obama's circle is made up overwhelmingly of people who thought the Iraq War was a mistake.
Emphasis mine.

Getting up in the morning is against nature for teens

Minipundit links to this NYT editorial:

A recent Op-Ed article in The Times cited a National Sleep Foundation survey in which more than a quarter of the students reported that they fell asleep in class at least once a week. Researchers say this is true because youngsters — beginning around age 12 until they reach their mid-20s — only start producing melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone, around 11 p.m. and that production peaks until about 7 a.m. In adults, melatonin peaks until around 4 a.m. Trying to wake up a teenager before 7 o’clock is like trying to awake an adult before 4 a.m.

The obvious remedy would be for high schools to start later — well after 8 a.m. A handful of schools that have switched have reported beneficial results. School officials in Minneapolis say that attendance improved and students’ grades rose slightly after they changed to an 8:40 a.m. start several years ago.
No duh. Minipundit:
Well, that's certainly what it feels like when my alarm goes off at 6:50AM every weekday morning. It's only after 10-15 minutes of blog reading that I feel up to getting out of bed and ready for school. And it's definitely more of a function of what time I get up than of what time I go to sleep. I can go to sleep at 10PM or 2AM, and either way I'll be tired at 6:50AM, but willing and eager to go as soon after as 7:30AM. So delaying school from 8:00 to, say, 9:30 would definitely constitute progress.
I don't like getting up that early, and I'm an adult (in my mid-thirties, no less). And I too sometimes feel that in the groggiest early morning, the only thing I can do is read blogs. Of course, Quinn has his own ideas about when to wake up. (Maybe if teenagers knew how early babies liked to wake up, they'd be more conscientious about using birth control.)

I'm glad to hear that my home town of Minneapolis is doing the sensible thing and starting high school at a reasonable hour.

McCain runs away from bills he once championed

To show what a good little right-wing soldier he is, McCain has abandoned a number of bills that he used to champion. He didn't just support these bills, mind you, he actually fought for them. And not back in the 1970's, but within the past few years. Carpetbagger Report (via DailyKos) has the goods:

* He said this week that he’d vote against his own immigration plan.

* McCain used to champion the Law of the Sea convention, even volunteering to testify on the treaty’s behalf before a Senate committee. Now, if the treaty comes to the Senate floor, he’s vowed to vote against it.

* McCain was a co-sponsor of the DREAM Act, which would grant legal status to illegal immigrants’ kids who graduate from high school. In 2007, to make the far-right base happy, he voted against the bill he had taken the lead on.

* In 2006, McCain sponsored legislation to require grassroots lobbying coalitions to reveal their financial donors. In 2007, after receiving “feedback” on the proposal, McCain told far-right activist groups that he now opposes the measure he’d backed.

* McCain used to support major campaign-finance reform measures that bore his name. In June 2007, McCain announced his opposition to a major McCain-Feingold provision.

It’s one thing to shift with the political winds, and I’ll gladly concede that there are worse qualities in a presidential candidate than changing one’s mind about a policy matter or two. Indeed, McCain has been in Congress for a quarter-century; he’s bound to shift now and then on various issues.

But these aren’t just random bills that McCain voted on — these are bills that he personally championedrecently. And now, after McCain sponsored the bills, he’s not even willing to vote for them anymore.

It's not too early to start knocking McCain off his media-darling pedestal. No doubt the other side is gearing up their Obama opposition reasearch.

The thing that scares me about McCain is that he's even MORE enthusiastic about the Iraq occupation than Bush is, if that's possible. The guy's militarism is frightening.

Of course, if he is the nominee, it'll be fun watching him tack desperately to the center, with the right-wing howling in rage with every move.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

McCain vs. Romney

Here's John Cole, a conservative who recently switched to the Democratic party over disgust with the current state of the Republicans:
One of the things that I am really, really not getting about the right-wing freak-out over John McCain is how they have managed to COMPLETELY convince themselves that McCain is not a real conservative, yet Mitt Romney is a bonafide conservative.

[...]

For as long as I can remember, McCain has been anti-abortion, for fiscal conservatism and balanced budgets and against wasteful spending, and an avowed and committed hawk and ardent military supporter. By my count, that is, or at least used to be, the trinity for the modern GOP. Those were the issues that, at a glance, defined conservatism, and McCain was on the “right” side of every one of them. Mitt Romney, not so much.

So how is it that these lunatics have so completely convinced themselves that Romney, who will say ANYTHING to get elected, is the actual conservative? It is becoming clearer and clearer that Mitt Romney is little more than the Manchurian Candidate for the oligarchy, and the notion of their puppet figure losing to someone who will occasionally tell them to go fuck themselves has them in a real tizzy.

The whole right-wing preference for Romeny over McCain. has baffled me as well. Anyone who thinks that someone who got elected as the governor of Massachusetts is more conservative than John McCain is smokin' sumthin'. But I've written before about how the right-wing loves to see their candidates grovel and compromise their principles to bow at the altar of right-wing orthodoxy. And Romney has certainly out-groveled McCain (though McCain has done his share of genuflecting to the right wing as well).

McCain, though thoroughly conservative, has, on occasion, broken ranks with the right wing herd (most recently on immigration and torture). Romney, on the other hand, seems to be saying, "Regardless of my past liberal positions, I'll be your docile puppet!" But if Romney gets the nomination, what evidence do the right-wingers have that he won't immediately start pandering to the center? Indeed, everything about Romney so far suggests that's exactly what he'll do: tell people what they want to hear so that he can further his ambitions. The fact that right-wingers are putting their eggs in Romney's basket shows how desperate they are. I think the animosity McCain stirs must be on a real personal level. He's by far their best bet for the general election. And far more "conservative", back when that word meant something about your stances on issues rather than your willingness to mindlessly submit to the current brand of radicalism ascendant in the Republican party.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Micrososft offers $44.6 billion for Yahoo

Pretty much the biggest corporate news of the day. The anti-Google forces seem to be gathering.

Some speculation on what might ensue here.

I'm glad I'm not Vice President or Speaker of the House right now...

...because then every January I'd have to stare at the back of Bush's head for an hour, desperately fighting the urge to give him rabbit ears or smack him upside the noggin.

Doesn't Pelosi get a gavel as Speaker of the House? The temptation to start singing "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" and make bonking motions with it it would be far too great to resist.

One of the cruelest things you can do to an actor is put them on stage with nothing to do. My heart goes out to Cheney and Pelosi for having to sit there as props while Bush does his best with his limited rhetorical abilities. (Photo from Feministe).