Monday, June 30, 2008

Bring Me Rombler

Romneycop as Veep?
In a surprise to many Republican insiders, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is at the top of the vice presidential prospect list for John McCain. But lack of personal chemistry could derail the pick.

“Romney as favorite” is the hot buzz in Republican circles, and top party advisers said the case is compelling.

Campaign insiders say McCain plans to name his running mate very shortly after Barack Obama does, as part of what one campaign planner called a “bounce-mitigation strategy.”

The Democratic convention is in late August, a week ahead of the Republican convention. That means McCain can size up the opposing ticket before locking in his own.
McCain campaign staffers declined to comment, saying McCain has made it clear they are not to discuss the matter.
Mitt Romney's overpolished slickness may be a good counterpart to the Straight Talk Express. Every presidential campaign should have at least one programmable cyborg on the ticket.

The Running Man

Now I know sports is gay:
Some far-right sites that subscribe to the Associated Press feed, for example, will use auto-correct to change “Democratic Party” to “Democrat Party.” This, of course, is because they have the temperament of children.

But the American Family Association’s OneNewsNow website takes the phenomenon one step further with its AP articles. The far-right fundamentalist group replaces the word “gay” in the articles with the word “homosexual.” I’m not entirely sure why, but it seems to make the AFA happy. The group is, after all, pretty far out there.

The problem, of course, is that “gay” does not always mean what the AFA wants it to mean. My friend Kyle reported this morning that sprinter Tyson Gay won the 100 meters at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials over the weekend. The AFA ran the story, but only after the auto-correct had “fixed” the article.

That means — you guessed it — the track star was renamed “Tyson Homosexual.” The headline on the piece read, “Homosexual eases into 100 final at Olympic trials.”
Who knew that Fundamentalists would one day be peddling sports porn?

Gray Area

TV is so old.
According to a study released by Magna Global's Steve Sternberg, the five broadcast nets' average live median age (in other words, not including delayed DVR viewing) was 50 last season. That's the oldest ever since Sternberg started analyzing median age more than a decade ago -- and the first time the nets' median age was outside of the vaunted 18-49 demo.

Fueling the graying of the networks: the rapid aging of ABC, NBC and Fox. The three nets continue to grow older, while CBS -- the oldest-skewing network -- has remained fairly steady.

'The median ages of the broadcast networks keep rising, as traditional television is no longer necessarily the first screen for the younger set,' Sternberg wrote.
So does this mean that CBS has actually been ahead of its time all these years?

The Post-Bush Era Begins Now

Andrew Sullivan, on what this election really means.
We will not elect another Bush, or his appointed successor, or someone closely allied to him in certain key areas - climate, torture, full-throated conservative Christianism, reckless war-making. The electorate has already purged this legacy from the system, in so far as it can with an incumbent still-president.

Among the Republicans, it is easy to forget that there were several viable candidates who were utterly unapologetic about the Iraq war, who favored torture and detention policies indistinguishable from Cheney-Bush (or worse), who intended to run either as an even less restrained executive (Romney, Giuliani), or as an even less moderate Christianist (Romney, Huckabee). On the Democratic side, the rejection of the Clintons, with all their baggage, all their capacity to jump-start the culture wars, and all their unending '90s psychodrama was also an enormous, and by no means inevitable, step forward - and away from the worst of the past.

So in many respects, the vital expressive work of this election is already done; and the electorate has already spoken. By nominating Obama - the antithesis of Bush - and McCain - Bush's former defeated rival, the Bush-Rove era is already over in the deepest sense. If we had an incumbent Bush vice-president - or a Romney or Giuliani on the ticket - it would feel a lot different. Now, we have the more palatable choice of the post-Bush or the really un-Bush. No wonder a sense of relative relief.
The future is now. No wonder the Hugh Hewitts and Sean Hannitys of the world are so upset. They know their era is coming to an end and don't like it one bit.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Bloggin' In The Years: 1979

Lately it seems everybody wants one.
Western intelligence experts believe that Pakistan has been trying for at least 15 years to develop a nuclear bomb, primarily to strengthen its defenses against neighboring India. When New Delhi tested its first atomic bomb in 1974, Islamabad stepped up its own efforts. The late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was then Pakistan's Prime Minister, warned that 'we will eat leaves and grass, even go hungry' to build the country's own weapon. 'There's a Hindu bomb, a Jewish bomb and a Christian bomb,' Bhutto once wrote. 'There must be an Islamic bomb.'
The last time I checked, the bomb was an equal opportunity weapon of mutually assured destruction.

Who needs the Arabs when you've got local thieves?
Prices have ranged from the official rates of around $1 to as high as $1.70 per gal. at a few stations in New York City and Boston. Some station owners have justified these rates by saying that they had to pay more than $1.25 to wholesalers, but most were charging what the market would bear—i.e., a black market. The major oil companies are not involved in the black market. "We have too many auditors looking over their shoulders," says a DOE regulator.

Price gouging can be punished by a fine of $10,000. A retailer in Boston who charged $1.57 for unleaded was hit with a civil suit by federal officials; a U.S. District Court ordered him to roll the price back 70¢. Despite such actions, however, black marketeers vastly outnumber DOE inspectors. "If we ever have the personnel and the time to investigate, we could uncover some incredible stuff," says a DOE official. But the department, which is scheduled to have 800 inspectors by mid-1980, needs thousands to enforce the scheduled prices. It has little prospect of getting them.
Wait until it reaches over two dollars a gallon. We'll have a revolution on our hands.

Is the world headed for a population bust?
The world's fertility rate is dropping, the United Nations Fund for Population Activities reported last week, principally because of delayed marriages and decisions to have smaller families. The U.N. study notes that most governments now recognize the need for comprehensive population policies. Even so, by the end of this decade alone there will be an estimated 738 million more people alive than there were in 1970. By the year 2000 more than 6 billion people will inhabit the planet, twice as many as in 1960.

(snip)

At the same time, Third World birth rates are dropping, although they are still far above replacement level. This is not so in much of the First World: such countries as the U.S. and Japan are only slightly above zero population growth. The result: a "rising average age of the population and increasing proportions of the aged." The phenomenon will require a shift in social spending from child health and education to welfare systems for the old, but a smaller working population will have to bear the increasing cost. Moreover countries with dwindling populations, the report suggests obliquely, may face necessary "changes in political attitudes toward immigration."
From too many to too old. There's a comforting thought.

Ghost Port

A climate tax takes its toll:
Some 50,000 fewer passengers are expected to use Amsterdam Schiphol airport, one of Europe's busiest, this summer on account of a Dutch environmental tax on flights, it was reported Saturday.

'We're expected zero growth in 2008, and in fact a decrease (in passenger numbers) in July and August,' an airport spokesman was quoted as saying by the domestic ANP news agency.

The Netherlands is the only country that levies an environmental tax on flights departing the country -- 11.25 euros per passenger (17.75 dollars) for European destinations and 45 euros for intercontential points.
They won't have any tourists, but at least the Netherlands can claim to be green.

Hussein Like Me

What's in a name? Everything, when it's your favorite candidate.
Emily Nordling has never met a Muslim, at least not to her knowledge. But this spring, Ms. Nordling, a 19-year-old student from Fort Thomas, Ky., gave herself a new middle name on Facebook.com, mimicking her boyfriend and shocking her father.

“Emily Hussein Nordling,” her entry now reads.
With her decision, she joined a growing band of supporters of Senator Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, who are expressing solidarity with him by informally adopting his middle name.

The result is a group of unlikely-sounding Husseins: Jewish and Catholic, Hispanic and Asian and Italian-American, from Jaime Hussein Alvarez of Washington, D.C., to Kelly Hussein Crowley of Norman, Okla., to Sarah Beth Hussein Frumkin of Chicago.

(snip)

Mr. Obama is a Christian, not a Muslim. Hussein is a family name inherited from a Kenyan father he barely knew, who was born a Muslim and died an atheist. But the name has become a political liability. Some critics on cable television talk shows dwell on it, while others, on blogs or in e-mail messages, use it to falsely assert that Mr. Obama is a Muslim or, more fantastically, a terrorist.

“I am sick of Republicans pronouncing Barack Obama’s name like it was some sort of cuss word,” Mr. Strabone wrote in a manifesto titled “We Are All Hussein” that he posted on his own blog and on dailykos.com.

So like the residents of Billings, Mont., who reacted to a series of anti-Semitic incidents in 1993 with a townwide display of menorahs in their front windows, these supporters are brandishing the name themselves.

“My name is such a vanilla, white-girl American name,” said Ashley Holmes of Indianapolis, who changed her name online “to show how little meaning ‘Hussein’ really has.”
I can see their point-Obama's middle name has been used as a punching bag by talk radio and right-wing blogs and forums. But this is exactly the sort of thing white liberals do that makes them look like white liberals. In spite of what certain commentators hope, Obama's middle name most likely won't matter any more than the rumors that he's a closet Muslim. So why should it matter to people who claim that it doesn't?

Just Say No

The trend against reality is being reversed.
Skeptical states are shoving aside millions of federal dollars for abstinence education, walking away from the program the Bush administration touts for slowing teen sexual activity.

Barely half the states are still in, and two more say they are leaving.

Some $50 million has been budgeted for this year, and financially strapped states might be expected to want their share. But many have doubts that the program does much, if any good, and they're frustrated by chronic uncertainty that it will even be kept in existence. They also have to chip in state money in order to receive the federal grants.

Iowa Gov. Chet Culver, a Democrat, made his decision to leave based on the congressionally mandated curriculum, which teaches 'the social, psychological and health gains of abstaining from sexual activity.' Instructors must teach that sexual activity outside of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects.

'It was just too strict,' said Emily Hajek, policy adviser to Culver. 'We believe local providers have the knowledge to teach what's going to be best in those situations, what kind of information will help those young people be safe. You cannot be that prescriptive about how it has to be taught.'
Much of abstinence only education seems to be a combination of wishful thinking and moralistic finger-wagging. If real health advice can make a comeback in our schools, that's a good thing.

The Buzz

A guy who's actually been there warns that we're losing the next space race.
Mr Aldrin, 78, said: 'To me it's abysmal that it has come to this: after 50 years of Nasa, and after putting about $100 billion into the space station, we can't get our own astronauts to our space station without relying on the Russians.'

He said his message to the next president is this: 'Retain the vision for space exploration. If we turn our backs on the vision again, we're going to have to live in a secondary position in human space flight for the rest of the century.'

He added: 'These are important issues for consideration by the potential leaders of our country. They're not welcome criticisms for the present heads of NASA.'

Earlier this month Rick Gilbreth, the head of the space agency's lunar exploration programme, warned that Chinese astronauts were on schedule to get to the moon by 2017 or 2018, two or three years before America is due to return.

Mr Aldrin said: 'All the Chinese have to do is fly around the Moon and back, and they'll appear to have won the return to the Moon with humans. They could put one person on the surface of the Moon for one day and he'd be a national hero.'
We don't have the Cold War-era imperative to get into space anymore, but we do have significant economic and even national security reasons for doing so. Part of the problem is that NASA is still running things like a government bureaucracy instead of a business opportunity in the making. We're getting left behind, and it's mostly our own fault. Whether we can catch up will depend on if NASA can change its ways or not.

Where The War Continues

Who says we need to refocus on Afghanistan? Barack Obama? No, those durn libruls at the Pentagon.
Violence in Afghanistan will continue to rise this year, as Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters have proved resilient and aggressive foes against coalition forces, according to a new Pentagon report issued to Congress yesterday.

Citing a weak Afghan government, struggling economy, massive increases in illegal narcotics production, corruption, growing attacks by insurgents and an increase in civilian casualties, U.S. defense officials said incremental progress in Afghanistan contrasts with significant challenges ahead. The 72-page report, which reviews the war from 2001 through April 10, 2008, offers a bleak assessment of a conflict that commanders think requires more resources and attention.

'Despite many positive developments, Afghanistan continues to face challenges,' the report said. 'The Taliban regrouped after its fall from power and have coalesced into a resilient insurgency. It now poses a challenge to the Afghan government's authority in some rural areas. . . . The Taliban is likely to maintain or even increase the scope and pace of its terrorist attacks and bombings in 2008.'
Do we just go back and forth between these two countries for the next several years? Or do we come up with a comprehensive strategy that shows we're serious about winning the Great War On Terror? The next president will have four to eight years to show us.

The Whisper War

Ima Dinnerjacket may be looking over his shoulder more and more these days for a reason.
Late last year, Congressional leaders agreed to a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran, and charges that the administration is running 'cross border' operations into Iran, The New Yorker magazine reported.

In an article published online Sunday, the magazine cites current and former military, intelligence, and congressional sources and said the operations were described in a highly classified Presidential Finding signed by Bush and are designed to destabilize the country’s religious leadership.

The State Department's top official in Iraq is refuted the report that special operations forces are conducting cross-border operations from Iraq into Iran.

'I can tell you flatly U.S. forces are not operating across the border in Iran,' U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker said on a morning cable news show.

The New Yorker piece by Seymour Hersh, says: 'United States Special Operations Forces have been conducting cross-border operations from southern Iraq, with Presidential authorization, since last year. These have included seizing members of Al Quds, the commando arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and taking them to Iraq for interrogation, and the pursuit of 'high-value targets' in the President’s war on terror, who may be captured or killed.'

The White House did not comment on the article. And one administration official, who asked not to be identified, dismissed the piece: 'We've declined comment on Hersh's quarterly articles. You can almost tell time by them.'
It may be Hersh, but even a broken clock, et cetera et cetera.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Going To Plan B

The Republicans have some new rules for saving "The Brand":
A new playbook for House Republicans urges them to run essentially as independents, showing empathy for voters, emphasizing local issues and ignoring many traditional party campaign practices.

The advice for House candidates is part of an effort to minimize Republican losses in a year when voters are exasperated by the economy, the Iraq war and President Bush:

“Encourage Republican candidates to establish themselves in a personal manner, emphasizing local issues whenever possible.”

“Candidates have to have a positive alternative vis-à-vis their Democratic opponents.”

“Work to develop an issues matrix that is different than in years past and also shows a deep empathy towards the voters.”

The advice, from consultants to the National Republican Congressional Committee, was presented this week to House leaders, including NRCC Chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.).
I would add get back to fiscal responsibility, dump the fundamentalist wingnut mentality and support the rule of law. Do those things and they may have something.

Bubba Bites Back

Obama and Hillary may be making nice, but not Bill.
Mr Obama is expected to speak to Mr Clinton for the first time since he won the nomination in the next few days, but campaign insiders say that the former president's future campaign role is a 'sticking point' in peace talks with Mrs Clinton's aides.

The Telegraph has learned that the former president's rage is still so great that even loyal allies are shocked by his patronising attitude to Mr Obama, and believe that he risks damaging his own reputation by his intransigence.

A senior Democrat who worked for Mr Clinton has revealed that he recently told friends Mr Obama could 'kiss my ass' in return for his support.

A second source said that the former president has kept his distance because he still does not believe Mr Obama can win the election.
Gee, Bill, bitter much?

People For The Unethical Treatment Of Celebrities

Now they've declared war on the rich and famous.
Animal rights protesters have launched a series of angry campaigns against A-list carnivores. They are shifting their focus from celebrities who wear fur to others who encourage the 'exploitation' of animals by eating them. In its latest campaign, Peta – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which became infamous for dousing fur-wearers in red paint – has launched an attack on the singer Jessica Simpson.

Ms Simpson was singled out for ridicule after she was spotted wearing a T-shirt bearing the slogan 'Real Girls Eat Meat', believed to be a light-hearted dig at her boyfriend Tony Romo's vegetarian ex-girlfriend, Carrie Underwood.

Alistair Currie, a spokesman for Peta, said: 'Jessica Simpson might have a right to wear what she wants, but she doesn't have a right to eat what she wants – eating meat is about suffering and death. Some people feel like they are standing up against a tide of political correctness when they make a statement like this – what she is really doing is standing up for the status quo.'

The animal rights group doctored a photo of Ms Simpson to read 'Only Stupid Girls Eat Meat', and listed 'five reasons only stupid girls eat meat'.
I could come up with a list of my own: "Five reasons only stupid people join PETA."

Clash Of The Thin-Skinned

Call it "When Blowhards Attack."
For those who have somehow ignored this food fight, Olbermann started it by regularly jabbing at O'Reilly and naming him the "Worst Person in the World," a nightly segment on his MSNBC talker.

Thin-skinned in his best days, O'Reilly has grown especially sensitive to criticism (or as he's prone to call it, "vicious personal attacks," emanating from "vile left-wing smear sites") since the embarrassment of having a sexual-harassment suit filed against him in 2004. That irritation has rather transparently led him to retaliate against NBC higher-ups, including NBC News and even parent General Electric, going so far as to have a producer ambush GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt, stretching to accuse him of shady dealings with Iran and, this week, of personally despoiling the Hudson River.

All of this has been fodder for Olbermann, who has gone public with claims that O'Reilly and Fox News CEO Roger Ailes have threatened retaliation if NBC doesn't rein him in.

News Corp.'s assault, whether coordinated or not, is now happening. The company's New York Post Page Six column has joined the fray with several unflattering items about Olbermann. Those rumors are then parroted by Fox News' dimwitted morning show, "Fox & Friends," creating a circular echo chamber.

Olbermann responded, of course, by preemptively lashing out against the Post on air, calling Page Six "entirely disreputable" and crowning Richard Johnson and Paula Froelich, at separate moments, as the "Worst Person." Nor has Rupert Murdoch -- who Olbermann impersonates by affecting a snarling pirate voice -- escaped his wrath.

Murdoch was recently quoted noting that he fired Olbermann from Fox Sports several years ago, saying, "He's crazy." For her part, Froelich told Gawker that Olbermann is "as infantile as he is narcissistic."
Personally, O'Reilly and Olbermann both seem to be behaving like blooters over this.

Obama's Bible Belt

On one of the thorniest isues where Republicans have traditionally had an advantage, Obama could win big if he wanted to.
If he moved to the center on abortion, a knowledgeable religion journalist remarked to me last week, he could win half of evangelicals under 40. But can he move to the center on abortion - by flip-flopping on partial-birth abortion, say, while making a big deal about embracing the (largely-symbolic) abortion-reduction plan being pressed by Democrats for Life -- after a bruising primary campaign in which he barely beat out a feminist icon with unimpeachable pro-choice bona fides? I've assumed that the answer is no and no again, not least because he's already ahead in the polls, and doesn't need to look for potentially gamechanging maneuvers that might blow up in his face. But if Obama wants a historic mandate, rather than a narrow win -- if he wants to cut the heart out of the GOP coalition and leave the Republicans for dead -- then breaking with his party's abortion orthodoxy to go hard after the evangelical vote is one obvious way to do it.
Many Democrats have already been bucking their Party's trend on social issues, and they're the ones who have been winning elections. If Obama is more willing to follow their lead rather than the standard party line, it could represent a real seismic shift in the type of audience the Democrats could get.

Let Them Eat Dirt Cakes

When saving the planet becomes more important than the people who live on it.
The human cost of the global biofuel switch was put in stark terms today by international advocacy group Oxfam, which released a report saying biofuels are responsible for pushing 30 million people into poverty (International Herald Tribune, Reuters and BBC coverage). The widely noted report asserts that the increasing use of grains as biofuel feedstocks is responsible for 30 percent of the increase in food prices, and that’s hitting the world’s poorest hard.

The report, written by Oxfam biofuel policy adviser Rob Bailey, urges developed nations to abandon their biofuel mandates and get rid of the subsidies and tariffs on biofuels that are destroying the ability of the market to appropriately adjust biofuel and food supply and demand. These economic hurdles have lead to an all-time low in grain reserves, the report says, and pushed food prices to record highs.
Well, crops for people is wrong. Crops for the cars of limosine liberals isn't.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Axis Minus One

Sometimes "Appeasement" does work:
YONGBYON, North Korea (AP) - The gray cooling tower crumbled behind billowing dust clouds in seconds Friday, reducing the structure at North Korea's nuclear reactor into a pile of rubble. It was a choreographed show by the communist regime meant to affirm an intention to stop making atomic bombs.

From a distance, smiling diplomats from the United States and other nations snapped photos of the blast that destroyed part of the heart of the North's nuclear weapons program.

'As you all saw, the cooling tower is no longer there,' said Sung Kim, the U.S. State Department's top expert on the Koreas who attended the demolition. 'This is a very important step in the disablement process, and I think it puts us in a good position to move into the next phase.'

The 60-foot-tall cooling tower at the Yongbyon nuclear center had been the most visible symbol of the North's nuclear program and a focus for U.S. satellite surveillance. Steam spewing from the tower meant that the North's main nuclear reactor was operating to make plutonium.
Scratch one member of the Axis of Evil off the list. Could Obama do the same with Iran, or would it only be OK if a Republican president did things this way?

Let Her People Go

There's one less scumbag off the streets.
Varsha Sabhnani, 46, was convicted with her husband in December on a 12-count federal indictment that included forced labor, conspiracy, involuntary servitude and harboring aliens.

The trial provided a glimpse into a growing U.S. problem of domestic workers exploited in slave-like conditions.

The victims testified that they were beaten with brooms and umbrellas, slashed with knives, and forced to climb stairs and take freezing showers as punishment. One victim was forced to eat dozens of chili peppers against her will, and then was forced to eat her own vomit when she couldn't keep the peppers down, prosecutors said.

U.S. District Judge Arthur Spatt called the testimony 'eye-opening, to say the least - that things like that go on in our country.'

'In her arrogance, she treated Samirah and Enung as less than people,' said Assistant U.S. Attorney Demetri Jones. 'Justice for the victims: That's what the government is asking for.'
Where was Abraham Lincoln when you needed him?

Bloggin' In The Years: 1966

Does he actually make sense, or is Governor Romney just rambling?:
As a front runner for the 1968 Republican presidential nomination, Michigan's Governor plainly feels that the time has come to grope his way into the unfamiliar arena of foreign policy. His Cleveland speech, with its echoes of Senator William Fulbright's 'arrogance of power' theme, was a curious blend of old-fashioned Midwestern isolationism and the liberal's equally irrelevant preoccupation with world opinion. Even on the specific issue of Viet Nam, Romney could only offer tired generalities.

At the Midwest Governors Conference in Cincinnati, he told reporters that President Johnson 'made a great mistake by getting involved in a large-scale land war' and that 'we are in the process of making a second mistake by making it primarily an American war.' He proposed 'an honorable settlement' but did not suggest how one could be achieved. In fact, he maintained, 'I don't think you can bring the North Vietnamese to the bargaining table by showing them they can't win.'

A former officiary of the Mormon church, he was on surer ground moralizing about what he considers the nation's most pressing problem, the disintegration of the American family. 'There has been a decline,' he told his fellow Governors, 'in the faith, belief and principles on which America was built.' The solution? 'Personal responsibility, family responsibility and private institutional responsibility—and the place to start is in the home.'
when it comes to foreign policy and military intervention, Romney seems to harken back to the days of Eisenhower. The war has turned into a distraction from President Johnson's domestic policies, which most liberals still support. The question is, will they still support him in '68?

Think the Miranda ruling will give you a get out of jail free card? Think again.
Ever since Escobedo, many a confessed and convicted criminal had seen the possibility of retroactivity as a hope of getting his case back into court. And now, with Miranda to remind police that just about any question a suspect answers without a lawyer's advice is improper unless he waives his rights, that hope seemed bright indeed. Writing for a 7 to 2 majority, Warren relocked the prison doors. To reopen past cases, he said, "would seriously disrupt the administration of our criminal laws. It would require the retrial and release of numerous prisoners found guilty by trustworthy evidence in conformity with previously announced constitutional standards."

(snip)

Few observers were surprised by the court's rebuff to Cassidy and Johnson. What did startle many a lawyer was the court's statement that it would not apply Miranda, even to appeals that are now pending. Thus, Miranda and his companions of two weeks ago may get new trials; everybody else tried when they were, stays in prison. The strict new rules it laid down in Miranda, the court said, apply "only to cases in which the trial began after the date of our decision."
So much for opening the floodgates. Miranda merely reaffirmed an already existing right to have one's rights explained and to have an attorney present during questioning. It does not apply to old cases where the prosecutions were valid. So there.

The Blue Dog Revolution

A "New Democrat" explains why the Republicans are getting their butts kicked.
In Conley's mind, conservatives have no place in the GOP anymore: They've been bamboozled by politicians who do nothing on their issues once they're safe in office. 'Bush could have passed a marriage amendment,' Conley said. 'If he wanted something, he got it, and he got it as soon as he wanted it. The so-called PATRIOT Act? Introduced on a Tuesday, passed through the chambers on Thursday, and headed to his office. We were in the back of the bus, then they took the seat out of the bus and put us on a two-by-four, and then they removed the 2x4. I mean, you've got to cut the chain sometime.'

On the war on drugs, Conley discoursed for a full minute on the history of marijuana criminalization and said, to understand his views, to 'take a look at Clarence Thomas's dissent in Raich.'

On FISA: 'No way does anyone deserve immunity for what they did. The country I grew up in had a fourth amendment, plain and simple.'
Unfortunately, the Republicans opted for complex and arcane instead.

It's Back

The Federal Marriage Amendment is back, and two of its sponsors are (drumroll please):
But the funny part is looking over the list of the 10 original sponsors. Most of the names are predictable — Brownback and Inhofe, for example — but there are two others whose names stand out: Sens. David Vitter (R-La.) and Larry Craig (R-Idaho).

Yes, two of the principal sponsors of a constitutional amendment to “protect” marriage include one far-right Republican who hired prostitutes and another far-right Republican who was arrested for soliciting gay sex an airport men’s room.
You couldn't make this stuff up if you tried.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

You Gotta Have Faith

Bad news for the fundamentalist crowd:
Pew scholars said the most politically relevant finding is the fact that, as the 294-page report says, “Americans have a non-dogmatic approach to faith” — that is, a large majority of nearly every religious group believes there are other paths to salvation.

According to the study, “Seventy percent of Americans with a religious affiliation say that many religions — not just their own — can lead to eternal life. Most also think there is more than one correct way to interpret the teachings of their own faith.”

In politics, that means that coalitions are possible among members of divergent religious groups.

Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum, said: “Most people will be surprised that a majority of adherents in nearly all religious traditions, including a majority of evangelical Protestants, say that there isn’t just one way to salvation or to interpret the teachings of their own faith.”
And you can even accept that evolution stuff, too. What a country.

The Stupid Party Responds

Bush is apparently no longer their guy:
Several prominent House Republicans blasted the White House Thursday for removing North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, as some of President Bush’s staunchest supporters in the war on terror publicly lambasted him for engaging the country once famously branded as part of the 'axis of evil.'

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, expressed her “profound disappointment” over the decision, while Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, also expressed his outrage.

“Lifting sanctions and removing North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism flies in the face of history and rewards its brutal dictator for shallow gestures,” said Hoekstra, who has not shied away from criticizing the White House in recent years.

“Just as the Clinton administration was fooled by the Kim Jong-Il regime, time will soon tell if the Bush administration will fall for the same bait,” he added.
This makes me more convinced that Bush is actually doing the right thing here. Or maybe they're upset because they know that Obama can use this as an example the next time they go after him on Iran?

Going, Going, Gone

I guess this means the elves may have to take up swimming lessons.
The disappearance of the Arctic sea ice, making it possible to reach the Pole sailing in a boat through open water, would be one of the most dramatic – and worrying – examples of the impact of global warming on the planet. Scientists say the ice at 90 degrees north may well have melted away by the summer.

'From the viewpoint of science, the North Pole is just another point on the globe, but symbolically it is hugely important. There is supposed to be ice at the North Pole, not open water,' said Mark Serreze of the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado.

If it happens, it raises the prospect of the Arctic nations being able to exploit the valuable oil and mineral deposits below these a bed which have until now been impossible to extract because of the thick sea ice above.
So there can be benefits to global warming. We may miss the ice, but our pocketbooks might not.

Bloggin' In The Years: 1933

People may be hurting in this economy, but farmers are getting a good payday:
John Wheatman raises an average of 1,000 bu. of wheat but gets paid only 30¢ per bu. on 625 bu., his ratio of domestic consumption. Before Sept. 1 he will collect $125. After next year's planting he will be eligible for $62.50 more.

Secretary Wallace was asked if farmers would join Domestic Allotment. Said he: 'A gratuity of 30¢ per bu. for wheat is a nice piece of change.''

Three days later Secretary Wallace announced his cotton plans: A week's campaign to sign up enough growers to take 10,000,000 acres out of production by leasing them to the Government for $6 to $20 per acre.
They may get their relief, but I just hope this policy of paying farmers not to grow doesn't come back to bite us in years to come.

In the New Germany, democracy is for suckers, according to Doctor Goebbels.
"It is a Democratic fallacy that people want to govern themselves." shrilled he. "In our Germanic Democracy, people do not themselves engage in politics. They leave that to men having their confidence—to a hierarchy of leaders.

"It is difficult to be 100% Nazi. Therefore to be a Nazi shall forever remain the proud privilege of the minority: the steel ribs of the State!"

To suggestions that the Government's acts exceeded last week even the broad powers conferred on Chancellor Hitler by President von Hindenburg's Decree for the Protection of the People and the State, Dr. Goebbels snorted: "A government conscious of its own responsibility must also know how to break the fetters of the law!"
And people call Roosevelt a "Dictator".

Rain O'er Me

Leave that rain alone!
Colorado state law mandates that any water falling from the air is not yours. In fact, according to their site, its already been “legally allocated” — so, you don’t actually have any rights when it comes to using precipitation that falls on your property. Here’s the exact wording:

Colorado Water Law requires that precipitation fall to the ground, run off and into the river of the watershed where it fell. Because rights to water are legally allocated in this state, an individual may not capture and use water to which he/she does not have a right. We must remember also that rain barrels don’t help much in a drought because a drought by its very nature supplies little in the way of snow or rain.

Additionally, any and all water that comes from tap may only be used once. “Denver water customers are not permitted to take their bath or laundry water (commonly referred to as gray water) and dump it on their outdoor plants or garden.” Even if that said water is ecologically-friendly?
Water droplets have rights. So sayeth the Green Police.

The Backyards Of Mars

Does this mean that Martians also like to BBQ?
The Phoenix lander's first taste test of soil near Mars' north pole reveals a briny environment similar to what can be found in backyards on Earth, scientists said today in Los Angeles.

The finding raises hope that the Martian arctic plains could have conditions favorable for primitive life. Phoenix landed a month ago to study the habitability of Mars' northern latitudes.

'There's nothing about it that would preclude life. In fact, it seems very friendly,' mission scientist Samuel Kounaves of Tufts University said of the soil. 'There's nothing about it that's toxic.'

Phoenix so far has not detected organic carbon considered an essential building block of life. Last week, the lander found evidence of ice below the soil. Scientists generally agree that liquid water, a stable energy source and organic, or carbon-containing, compounds are required for a habitable zone.
Mars must not have gotten the message from fundamentalists that only Earth can support life.

Not So Evil

Um, isn't this considered appeasement?
President Bush said Thursday he will lift key trade sanctions against North Korea and remove it from the U.S. terrorism blacklist, a remarkable turnaround in policy toward the communist regime he once branded as part of an 'axis of evil.'

The announcement came after North Korea handed over a long-awaited accounting of its nuclear work to Chinese officials on Thursday, fulfilling a key step in the denuclearization process.

Bush called the declaration a positive step along a long road to get the nation to give up its nuclear weapons. Yet, he remained wary of the regime, which has lied about its nuclear work before. And North Korea's declaration, received six months late, falls short of what the administration once sought, leaving it open to criticism from those who want the U.S. to take an even tougher stance against the regime.

'We will trust you only to the extent you fulfill your promises,' Bush said in the Rose Garden. 'I'm pleased with the progress. I'm under no illusions. This is the first step. This isn't the end of the process. It is the beginning of the process.'
I guess if a country already has nukes, diplomacy is OK.

The Warning Signs

Old blogs don't die, they just fail to get updated:
There are two general signs that a blog is heading toward extinction. The first is a declining frequency of posting, and the second is a proportional rise in the number of posts about the blog itself. These two don’t always go hand-in-hand; sometimes it’s just one or the other, sometimes you don’t get either warning sign. But when either of the two is spotted it’s reasonable to begin wondering how long that curious internet publication will continue to be updated.

(snip)

It always seems to be that journals — and blogs — begun with the urgent intensity of someone confident that the simple act of putting their thoughts on paper will clarify or improve them, you soon find that a personal conversation is hard. And whether it’s because you find yourself a poor conversationalist, a slow writer, or an incoherent blabberer the realization generally comes that the results are a little less than magical. The realization dawns that what you’re writing is not really in need of urgent preservation.
Well, I never thought of my words of wisdom as something that would be remembered for posterity (except for when I'm writing short stories). If I'm still blogging ten years from now, I guess I'll either be considered a dinosaur or lucky to be around. I blog, therefore I am.

The Second Amendment Lives

It's the sane approach to gun rights:
1. The Court does not resolve the issue of what level of scrutiny should be applied to purported violations of the Second Amendment, because it concludes that D.C.'s firearm restrictions, which effectively preclude keeping a gun in the home for self-defense, are so extreme that they would be unconstitutional under any level of scrutiny.

2. The Court explicitly says that laws prohibiting concealed carry, banning gun possession by 'felons and the mentally ill,' barring firearms from 'sensitive places' such as schools and government buildings, and regulating the sale of firearms are consistent with the Second Amendment. It also suggests that banning 'unusual and dangerous weapons,' as opposed to weapons in common use for lawful purposes, is permissible. Whether that means, say, bazookas or guns arbitrarily designated as 'assault weapons' is one of many details that will have to be worked out by the courts.
I guess this means I can't keep my rocket launcher. Durn libruls!

Devil Fish

I guess this one missed the Bible:
Scientists unearthed a skull of the most primitive four-legged creature in Earth's history, which should help them better understand the evolution of fish to advanced animals that walk on land.

The 365 million-year-old fossil skull, shoulders and part of the pelvis of the water-dweller, Ventastega curonica, were found in Latvia, researchers report in a study published in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature. Even though Ventastega is likely an evolutionary dead-end, the finding sheds new details on the evolutionary transition from fish to tetrapods. Tetrapods are animals with four limbs and include such descendants as amphibians, birds and mammals.

While an earlier discovery found a slightly older animal that was more fish than tetrapod, Ventastega is more tetrapod than fish. The fierce-looking creature probably swam through shallow brackish waters, measured about three or four feet long and ate other fish. It likely had stubby limbs with an unknown number of digits, scientists said.
But you can't trust them scientists. Every good Creationist knows that God spoke life into existence with the Word. He didn't say anything about four-legged fish, so this was obviously put there by Satan to confuse people, hallelujah!

Adults Need Not Apply

The demonization of grownups continues:
Anyone working for a voluntary organisation who comes into contact with children in any way has to take the paedophile test.

‘From Girl Guiders to football coaches, from Christmas-time Santas to parents helping out in schools, volunteers—once regarded as pillars of the community —have been transformed in the regulatory and public imagination into potential child abusers, barred from any contact with children until the database gives them the green light.’(p.x)

The effect of this treatment is to put some people off volunteering altogether. The Volunteer Survey 2007 found that 13 per cent of men would not volunteer because they were worried people would think they were child abusers (p.16) and 28 per cent of those who responded to an online survey carried out for Licensed to Hug said they knew someone who had been put off volunteering by the CRB process (p.18).
Everything is so "For the children!" these days that everyday adults are now the enemy. The children are in charge now-they just don't know it yet.

The Truth Is Out There

I wish I could say this guy was joking, but I don't think so.
I have four year old kids in my church that could tell you where life originated. If people would bother to accept the fact that everything in existence is created by an omnipotent God then, we would not need to waste money searching for an answer that even small children already know.

Mars is a desert planet and perhaps there is ice and maybe even water there. So what? Who cares? It's water! That doesn't mean a thing. Life originated on Earth when God spoke it into existence and there is no need in wasting billions of dollars of taxpayer money searching for an answer that is based upon faulty evolutionary ideas.
I'm sure any aliens out there would be gratified to learn that they were "Spoken" into existence.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Reaching Out

McCain makes another move that puts him at odds with many in his party (hat tip: Andrew Sullivan).
A source with close ties to the Log Cabin Board of Directors provided information about the meeting to GayPatriot earlier this week.

This source disclosed that the Log Cabin meeting was not reflected on Senator McCain’s published schedule in advance and the meeting…Log Cabin President Patrick Sammon confirmed the meeting with Senator McCain in email correspondence with GayPatriot earlier today…

Based on published news reports, the meeting with Senator McCain would be the first between any national-level gay Republicans and a Republican Presidental nominee since “The Texas 12″ met with then-Governor George W. Bush in 2000.
The fundies who still follow Bush seem to have forgotten that last part. Kudos to McCain for trying to bring some decency back into the GOP.

The Barr Effect

Barr's chances as a spoiler may be increasing:
Barack Obama's campaign manager said former Georgia Rep. Bob Barr, running for president on the Libertarian line, could play a crucial role in winning Obama the presidency.

He said Barr could play a particularly large role in two states: Alaska and Georgia.

Alaska is 'one of the states where we think Barr can get 6,7, 8 percent,' Plouffe said.

'Barr will get some votes [in Georgia,. If barr were to get two percent in most states, our belief is he’ll get four percent here, most of it coming out of McCain’s hide.'
Alaska-the first libertarian state?

Le Taxman Cometh

Just when I was starting to like the guy:
France will ban prime-time advertising on public television as of Jan. 1 and plans to tax Internet, phone and commercial broadcasting companies to replace the lost funding, President Nicolas Sarkozy said Wednesday.

Phone and Internet companies will pay a tax of 0.9 percent of sales to finance public television, Sarkozy said in a speech. Private television companies will pay a tax of 3 percent on advertising revenues to raise €80 million, or $121 million, for the state-owned France Télévisions, he said.

Société Télévision Française 1 and M6-Metropole Télévision, the largest commercial broadcasters in France, may benefit from increased ad spending as a result of the change. TF1 shares rose the most in almost six weeks, while M6 had the biggest gain in three weeks.

'By suppressing advertising, we want to give our public television the means of a greater freedom,' Sarkozy said in the speech at Élysée Palace. 'For viewers, things will change from Jan. 1, 2009.' All advertising will be phased out by Dec. 1, 2011, he said.
I guess he wants more freedom for everyone except those who actually make money.

What's Fair Is Fair

That durn librul Barack Obama comes out on the side of free speech.
Sen. Obama does not support reimposing the Fairness Doctrine on broadcasters,' press secretary Michael Ortiz said in an e-mail to B&C late Wednesday.

'He considers this debate to be a distraction from the conversation we should be having about opening up the airwaves and modern communications to as many diverse viewpoints as possible,' Ortiz added. 'That is why Sen. Obama supports media-ownership caps, network neutrality, public broadcasting, as well as increasing minority ownership of broadcasting and print outlets.'

The Fairness Doctrine issue flared up in recent days after reports that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was talking about a Democratic push to reinstate it, although it was unclear at press time whether that was a new pledge or the restating of a long-held position.
Obviously this proves there's no difference at all between him and the rest of his party.

Who's Your Daddy?

Privacy hath its privelages.
Infertility therapy with donated sperm has collapsed to the lowest levels since records began, according to the first official figures, seen by The Times, since the Government banned anonymous donation in 2005.

The number of women treated with donated sperm fell by about 20 per cent, from 2,727 in 2005 to 2,107 in 2006, the first full year after the change. The number of donor insemination treatment cycles fell by 30 per cent over the same period.

Egg donation is also in serious decline: the number of treatments using “shared” eggs, offered by women in return for a discount on IVF, fell by 40 per cent between 2004 and 2006.

The figures demolish claims by ministers and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) that sperm donation has improved since anonymity was ended. Last year Shirley Harrison, then the chairwom-an of the authority, said it was “a myth” that there had been problems.
There are never any problems in the Nanny State. It told me so.

In It To Lose It

Now this is an optimist:
SALT LAKE CITY - U.S. Rep. Chris Cannon, a conservative Republican who lost his primary to an opponent who accused him of not being conservative enough, said Wednesday that his defeat frees him to move on to pursue other opportunities.

Jason Chaffetz won Tuesday's primary with 60 percent of the vote. Fewer than 10 percent of the eligible voters cast ballots, according to state election officials.

'I'm actually pretty happy about last night's results,' Cannon told The Associated Press. 'I think I'll be able to do many of the things I would ordinarily do in Congress on the outside without having to suffer the sort of difficulties that come with that job.'
I hope the slew of other Republicans who are expected to lose this year are in such good spirits.

Conquest Of The Planet Of The Idiots

Oh, good grief.
MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's parliament voiced its support on Wednesday for the rights of great apes to life and freedom in what will apparently be the first time any national legislature has called for such rights for non-humans.

Parliament's environmental committee approved resolutions urging Spain to comply with the Great Apes Project, devised by scientists and philosophers who say our closest genetic relatives deserve rights hitherto limited to humans.

'This is a historic day in the struggle for animal rights and in defense of our evolutionary comrades, which will doubtless go down in the history of humanity,' said Pedro Pozas, Spanish director of the Great Apes Project.
We'll see how he feels after he becomes a target during the next gorilla hunt...

Rage Against The Wage

The Best Magazine in the World notes the flip side of those notorious Third World sweatshops:
...a few points about sweatshops: As economist Benjamin Powell notes here, few of us lazy Americans would last a day in a Third World textile factory. But that's mostly because we have other options; most of us have far better employment alternatives. This, obviously, is not the case in a place like Vietnam, where a Nike factory worker can earn three times the minimum wage of a worker employed by a state-owned company. In Saigon, the dreaded 'sweatshop' position has long been a prized job in a slowly liberalizing economy.
Diehard protectionists and well-meaning lefties alike should take note of what would happen to these countries' economies-and how that would affect our interests-were we to cut off contact. It should also be noted that as is the case with most of their complaints, liberals offer no real solutions to the sweatshop problem. And how many workers would turn down the chance to make three times what their fellow countrymen make just to make foreign liberals feel better about themselves?

The War On Weight

Talk about overusing a phrase:
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, obesity may account for 300,000 premature deaths a year, almost as many as deaths from cigarette smoking. People who are obese have a 50 to 100 percent increased risk of premature death from all causes compared to those who are not overweight, including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis and some cancers.

Even though today's numbers offer some hope, it's much too early to assume that the problem has been solved—this may still be the first generation in which kids have shorter lifespans than their parents. According to former U.S. surgeon general Richard Carmona, 'As we look to the future and where childhood obesity will be in 20 years … it is every bit as threatening to us as is the terrorist threat we face today. It is the terrorist threat from within.'
Ah, yes, the diabetic terrorists who are prone to heart attacks. Yep, that's a real threat, right there.

Smoked Out

Amsterdam's famous coffee shop culture runs afoul of the smoking police.
As in the rest of Europe the purpose of the ban is to protect the health of staff, who at present are obliged to inhale passively other people's smoke. But Sandy Lambrecht, the manager of the Bulldog coffee shop on the Leidseplein in the heart of Amsterdam, said: 'The new rules are absurd. You come to a coffee shop to smoke, after all – it's ridiculous that we have to comply. The new rules are meant to protect employees like me, but the point is that we chose to work here.'

Paul Wilhelm, the owner of De Tweede Kamer, one of Amsterdam's most famous coffee shops, founded in 1985, argued: 'If the boys are old enough to be sent to Afghanistan, then you can't tell me that people want to protect them from smoke in the workplace. They're old enough to decide on their own. They can vote, they can go to war – but now they won't even be allowed to make this decision?'
Welcome to the War On Tobacco.

I Dub Thee Sir Asshat

Well, this will get his attention:
On Wednesday, officials from Swaziland, Angola and Tanzania — the so-called troika empowered to speak for the Southern African Development Community, a regional bloc of 14 nations — called on Zimbabwe to put off the voting because the current crisis would undermine its legitimacy.

Tacking a different tack, Queen Elizabeth II stripped Robert Mugabe, the country’s president for nearly 30 years, of his honorary knighthood as a “mark of revulsion” at the human rights abuses and “abject disregard” for democracy over which he is presiding, the British Foreign Office said Wednesday.
This is an Ex-Knight...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bloggin' In The Years: 1987

Above and beyond, apparently:
Fawn Hall's right hand trembled when she was sworn in as the 18th and final witness in the first phase of the congressional hearings on the Iran- contra scandal. But when she coolly related an extraordinary tale of typing phony official documents, shredding classified papers and hiding others in her clothes to sneak them past White House guards, her face hardened. Whenever her motives or those of her boss, Lieut. Colonel Oliver North, were challenged, she flashed both anger and fear. 'Sometimes you have to go above the written law,' she blurted out. Then, apparently hearing the gasps in the audience, she retreated. 'Maybe that's not correct; it's not a fair thing to say.'
But she looks cute when she does it.

Maggie Thatcher explains the basics:
Q. How do you interpret the election?

A. It means that the policies we were pursuing, which we put openly and frankly before the people, were thought to be right for Britain. They were policies which were a partnership between government and people -- namely, we do the things which only governments can do, running the finances in a sound way, keeping inflation down, cutting controls and giving tax incentives. And we got the response in an increasing enterprise and competitiveness from the British people. And that produced a higher standard of living.
Capitalism-what a concept.

Junk science takes a back seat to the Age of Reason.
Louisiana tried to defend its law with arguments about academic freedom, the right to teach and learn without censorship by orthodox scientists. It's true that evolution is only a theory and that some scientists, contrary to scientific method, occasionally treat it as dogma. But to promote a particular religious belief in the schools, the zealous Louisiana lawmakers made clear that they were not in favor of open, wide-ranging discussion. Academic freedom was only a fig leaf.

The legislators, for example, didn't declare science teaching open to all theories. Nor were they content with requiring teachers to explain the secular effect of clashes between religion and science. Instead they demanded special study guides and safeguards for their preferred beliefs. Their law had much more to do with censorship than academic freedom.

A 7-to-2 majority of the Court understood as much. Only Justice Antonin Scalia and Chief Justice William Rehnquist accepted Louisiana's argument. The result is reassuring for all who want better science teaching and believe government has no business promoting religion in school.
Indeed it is.

The Write Stuff?

Literary genius apparently takes time.
When it comes to the novel, however, Americans are still willing to take it slow, or at least reward the writers who do. Indeed, in recent years a highly visible group of 'Great American Novels' have emerged from 10, 12, and even over 20-year gestation periods.

Edward P Jones, Junot Diaz and Jeffrey Eugenides all took 11 years to write their Pulitzer prize-winning novels -a blink, really, when compared to Shirley Hazzard and Marilynne Robinson's 23-year gaps preceding The Great Fire and Gilead respectively.

In a country that invented the internet, let alone the interstate, where computers are replaced every two years and iPhones tossed out after mere months, this is beyond pokey. It's positively counter-cultural.
I'd call it lazy and snobbish. Bear in mind that a lot of writers are still churning out genre novels at a fast clip. But then, maybe they actually don't mind making money from their work.

Smaller Is Better

To paraphrase Mark Twain, the death of indie cinema may be greatly exagerrated.
The national economy has slipped into what looks like a protracted recession, the supply pipeline is clogged with crap, the future of film distribution is literally up in the air and the audience is distracted, distraught and fragmented. Newspapers, broadcast TV, the music industry and other media have suffered precipitous downturns. What a great moment for dark and quirky motion pictures! Seen in that light, a market crash was an enormous duh, and perhaps a necessary correction, as they say in business school. Maybe all that stock-market money had to go down the toilet to get the industry focused on making fewer and better films, a solution that would make many of these problems go away.
The dinosaur method of making movies is in pretty much the same situation as the Old Media is. The problem for the New Media era of moviemaking may be one of quantity over quality, however:
There will still be a professional film industry that produces and distributes a relatively small number of movies that cost hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, whether they reach you in theaters, through a cable box, on your computer or iPod or through some other pipeline not yet devised. There will also be a purely digital universe of films that cost almost nothing to make and almost nothing to watch -- sort of a purified, film-school version of YouTube, minus any dreams of media stardom or celebrity coke parties.
This "Digital creative divide" may cheapen the already tarnished image of filmmaking-or it may force the studios to turn out better, streamlined product of their own in order to compete and, perhaps more importantly, show the YouTube crowd how it's supposed to be done.

The O.C.

Real conservative media (read: not Fox News or talk radio) gets it:
Why two people who want to be married should be required to get a license from the state is something of a mystery. Marriage existed long before the California or U.S. governments came into being and will continue long after they have been consigned to history. Whether a marriage is valid should be up to the people involved and the churches, synagogues, mosques or other religious institutions that choose to perform them or not.

As a practical matter, however, the government has so entwined itself into our daily lives that state recognition is important. Filing taxes as a married couple or as individuals makes a difference, as does the ability to own real estate, make end-of-life decisions or adopt children. Considering all this and the importance of equality before the law, the high court's decision was justified.
Well, apparently some state recognition should still be more equal than others in the eyes of some "Conservatives."

Hurra, Hurra

Call it the Voice Of Mediocrity:
Since its inception, al-Hurra has been plagued by mediocre programming, congressional interference and a succession of executives who either had little experience in television or could not speak Arabic, according to interviews with former staffers, other Arab journalists and viewers in the Middle East.

It has also been embarrassed by journalistic blunders. One news anchor greeted the station's predominantly Muslim audience on Easter by declaring, 'Jesus is risen today!' After al-Hurra covered a December 2006 Holocaust-denial conference in Iran and aired, unedited, an hour-long speech by the leader of Hezbollah, Congress convened hearings and threatened to cut the station's budget.

'Many people just didn't know how to do their job,' said Yasser Thabet, a former senior editor at al-Hurra. 'If some problem happened on the air, people would just joke with each other, saying, 'Well, nobody watches us anyway.' It was very self-defeating."
Not good news...You'd think they were the Republican party or something.

When Big Government Was Bad

A look back at a time when conservatives actually cared about too much Presidential power:
The right-wing intellectuals who coalesced around William F. Buckley’s National Review associated powerful presidents with activist liberalism: the New Deal, the New Frontier, the Great Society. Therre was a time when you could hear conservative heroes like Barry Goldwater say the sort of things that would get Sean Hannity to call for treason trials today. Goldwater wrote in 1964 that:

Some of the current worship of powerful executives may come from those who admire strength and accomplishment of any sort. Others hail the display of Presidential strength … simply because they approve of the result reached by the use of power. This is nothing less than the totalitarian philosophy that the end justifies the means…. If ever there was a philosophy of government totally at war with that of the Founding Fathers, it is this one.
But that was before neocons decided it was OK when their side did it.

Too Shy

What if shyness actually becomes cool?
Some people take the anti-shyness drug, but the previous extroverts, facing new competition for sex and friends, become even more extroverted, thus feeling more strain. Many of them start taking the drug to stay ahead. The previously shy exhibit more 'juice,' so to speak, but without much net result in terms of an improved life since they are still coming in second, so to speak. And those who don't take the anti-shyness drug are even worse off than before, given the new and higher standard for extroversion.

Some of the remaining shy, however, might in fact feel relieved. If the new standard of extroversion rises so high that they can't possibly meet it, they might, to some extent, withdraw from social competition. The truly shy might even form social clubs and band together in the interests of promoting shyness. If they can signal that they do not take the drug, their shyness might become more socially acceptable than before.
There's something to be said for being an introvert at times.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Their Day In Kangaroo Court

Al Gore meets Kafka.
James Hansen, one of the world's leading climate scientists, will today call for the chief executives of large fossil fuel companies to be put on trial for high crimes against humanity and nature, accusing them of actively spreading doubt about global warming in the same way that tobacco companies blurred the links between smoking and cancer.

Hansen will use the symbolically charged 20th anniversary of his groundbreaking speech (pdf) to the US Congress - in which he was among the first to sound the alarm over the reality of global warming - to argue that radical steps need to be taken immediately if the 'perfect storm' of irreversible climate change is not to become inevitable.

Speaking before Congress again, he will accuse the chief executive officers of companies such as ExxonMobil and Peabody Energy of being fully aware of the disinformation about climate change they are spreading.

In an interview with the Guardian he said: 'When you are in that kind of position, as the CEO of one the primary players who have been putting out misinformation even via organisations that affect what gets into school textbooks, then I think that's a crime."
By that standard, so is global warming alarmism. But that's just me.

Black Out

What is it with McCain's people, anyway?
John McCain distanced himself Monday from a top adviser who said another terrorist attack on U.S. soil this election year would benefit the Republican presidential candidate. Barack Obama's campaign called the comment a 'complete disgrace.'

Charlie Black, an adviser already in the spotlight for his past lobbying work, is quoted in the upcoming July 7 edition of Fortune magazine as saying such an attack 'certainly would be a big advantage to him.' Black said Monday he regretted the comment.

Black is also quoted as saying the 'unfortunate event' of the assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto earlier this year 'helped us.'

Questioned about Black's comments during a news conference, McCain said, 'I cannot imagine why he would say it; it's not true. I've worked tirelessly since 9/11 to prevent anther attack on the United States of America. My record is very clear.'
But apparently the word to his team members to refrain from making dumb comments wasn't.

Fill In The Blanks

The good part is, it's interchangeable with either candidate.
The people have spoken, choosing to [blank] the course of American [blank]. We see from the [blank] size of the electoral margin that the people have spoken [blank]ively. It is up to you, [blank] [blank], to navigate these [blank] but [blank] waters with [blank]fullness. Remember, the voters, though often [blank]istic and sometimes [blank]ious, are ever un-[blank] in their [blank]ism.

A President's [blank] term in office is the measure of his mettle. Only then does a chief executive have the [blank] to [blank] without undue partisan [blank]. Therefore this is the time to re-[blank] our commitment in Iraq, re-[blank] our international alliances, and re-[blank] the threat of [blank], [blank], [blank], [blank], [blank], and [blank].

On the domestic front you've vowed to expand [blank], improve [blank], strengthen [blank], and broaden America's access to [blank]. We [blank] that these [blank] objectives [blank] be [blank]ed without sacrificing [blank]. It will be your job to balance [blank] and [blank], giving full weight to [blank], while never losing sight of [blank]. There is no other way to provide America with the [blank] it so [blank]ly requires.

Although we [blank]ed your candidacy, we believe that, even as your [blank]s, we have the duty to [blank] you when necessary. This is the American [blank]. Likewise it is the American [blank] to seek a leader who will [blank] when the storm of [blank] requires a [blank] hand on the [blank]. As you so [blank]ly said in your victory speech, 'America is [blank].' We could not agree more.
I would add that I agree with every blank, and hope that president blank will blank for America's blank.

Free Market Fearmongering

It's one of the issues where Obama is still more wrong than right.
In the Democratic primary campaign, both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama treated free trade as a horseman of the Apocalypse, depicting a world in which American parents and children compete for minimum-wage jobs while corporations heartlessly shift the better jobs overseas.

Mr Obama claims, for instance, that “entire cities...have been devastated” by Nafta, the North American Free Trade Agreement signed in 1993, which he blames for destroying a million American jobs, when in fact total employment has risen by 27 million since 1993, when the trade deficit with Mexico, his favourite scapegoat, accounts for a hardly significant 1.7 per cent of the US economy - and when, overall, job losses attributable to trade rather than to higher productivity amount to only about 2 to 3 per cent of American layoffs.

Should he win, it is possible that Mr Obama will stop talking nonsense like this, for the simple reason that the cheaper dollar has helped to make exports the brightest part of the US economy, accounting for 40 per cent of growth. Optimists point out that he has so far kept quiet on China.

Perhaps he has been told that price inflation is six points lower for blue-collar Americans than for wealthier ones, because poorer people buy more Chinese goods. However, nothing could be less certain than his conversion to free trade, because the Democrats are likely to increase their majority in Congress, and protectionism is raging in Democrat ranks - witness the 2008 Farm Bill, a $290 billion (£146 billion) monument to protectionism.
The world economy overall has actually grown with free trade. New outlets for goods=new opportunities for growth in the long run. Stubborn outbursts of protectionism might be good for nationalism, but true economic growth comes from the ability to adapt, not isolate. John McCain at least understands this.

All's Fairness In Love And Ratings Wars

Real free speech continues to annoy liberals.
First, some history. The Reagan administration repealed a federal regulation – quaintly called the Fairness Doctrine - requiring broadcasters to present both sides of a controversial issue, which was enforced by the Federal Communications Commission from 1949 to 1987. After the Fairness Doctrine was dropped, the free market was allowed to do its thing. And conservative talk radio and television became a booming industry.

Conservative radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh - and the radio stations that employ them - succeeded because there was an enormous market out there hungry to hear conservative voices. No one shut down progressive voices on the airwaves. People just stopped listening – or at least enough people stopped listening to make progressive shows profitable.
With the national mood apparently changing, liberals now have the chance to make their voices heard over the radio waves. Whether they succeed should be decided by the radio networks' listeners-not by those doing the talking.

The Little House That Could

Ah, sweet shadenfreude.
Since Kelo, two state supreme courts have explicitly rejected the decision, while another three have questioned the validity of the decision under their respective state constitutions. As cases come before them, more state courts are likely to do the same.

Moreover, there has been massive public awareness brought to the issue of eminent domain abuse. Although there was growing concern about the issue and some awareness before Kelo, after the decision, just about every reasonably well-informed person in the country now knows about the issue—and a vast majority of them oppose eminent domain for private development.

This significant public opposition to eminent domain abuse has led to a complete change in the Zeitgeist on the issue. While public officials, planners, and developers in the past could keep the condemnations for private gain under the public's radar and thus usually get away with the seizure of homes and small businesses, that is no longer the case. Property law expert Dwight Merriam notes: "The reaction to Kelo has chilled the will of government to use eminent domain for private economic development."

Also, in a mere three-year period, 42 states have changed their eminent domain laws either through citizen initiative or legislation. About half of these provide strong protection against the abuse of eminent domain and virtually all of them represent an improvement over the truly terrible eminent domain laws that were on the books before Kelo.
And what of the huge project that started this whole mess?
New London's Fort Trumbull project has so far been an unmitigated disaster. Despite the infusion of close to $80 million in taxpayer funds and three years elapsing since the Kelo decision, there has been no new construction in the area whatsoever. The preferred developer for part of the site, Corcoran Jennison, just missed its latest deadline for securing financing for building something—anything—on the site of the old neighborhood. The developer was so desperate for funding that it applied to the federal Housing and Urban Development agency to obtain taxpayer-subsidized loans to build luxury apartments in the area. Even the former editor of the local newspaper, who was a strong supporter of the project from its inception, admitted this month, "The city is unlikely to get much new tax revenue anytime soon in Fort Trumbull and a hotel [the supposed centerpiece of the project] is at least five years away, if at all."
Now that's what I call payback.

The Long March

The yellow school bus might become a thing of the past in D.C.
Here's how rising fuel prices affect an organization with a fleet of 1,273 school buses: The Montgomery County school board today will consider giving Superintendent Jerry D. Weast emergency powers to make students walk farther to school, if need be, in the coming academic year.

The school system's diesel costs have more than doubled in four years, from $3.6 million in fiscal 2005 to a projected $7.9 million for fiscal 2009, which begins next month. It's a hardship shared by the Fairfax County school system, with more than 1,500 buses; the Prince George's County system, with 1,285 buses; and other area systems that transport tens of thousands of students daily and are paying more for fuel than the average parent at an Exxon pump on Rockville Pike.

'The last purchase we made was $4.40 a gallon,' said John Matthews, Montgomery schools transportation director. A one-penny rise in price costs the school system $33,000 a year.
School officials generally think of fuel as a fixed cost. But it's really not, Weast reminded board members June 10 in Rockville. Should prices continue to rise, the school system could save money by raising maximum walking distances for students, because more walkers means fewer buses. Currently, elementary school students walk up to a mile, middle school students 1.5 miles and high school students two miles.

'You may have to come to a very delicate decision that you'll have to make sometime during the next year if the costs continue to go up,' Weast said during a discussion of transportation policy. 'A million [dollar] cost in fuel is about 16 1/2 teaching slots.'
Well, at least with climate change the kids won't have to tell their own kids how they had to walk five miles in the snow during the winter.

Moon Heat

It must be those Neptunians and their carbon footprints:
Neptune has 13 known moons, six of which were discovered by Voyager 2. The largest, Triton, orbits Neptune in a direction opposite to the direction of the planet's rotation. Triton is the coldest body yet visited in our solar system—temperatures on its surface are about -391 degrees Fahrenheit (-235 degrees Celsius). Despite this deep freeze, Voyager 2 discovered geysers spewing icy material upward more than five miles (eight kilometers). Triton's thin atmosphere, also discovered by Voyager, has been seen from Earth several times since, and is growing warmer—although scientists do not yet know why.
I wonder if they're also blaming speculators and greedy oil companies for their gas prices.

We Already Knew That

Why is Obama having the success that was denied to guys like Dukakis and Kerry? Perhaps because people know he's a liberal-and don't care.
The way that the Republicans achieved that big swing in 1988, assisted by a couple of significant gaffes from the Dukakis campaign, was to portray Dukakis as too liberal for the American mainstream. The same basic strategic template was employed against John Kerry in 2004. However, this strategy is unlikely to work in 2008. How come? Barack Obama is already perceived as being very liberal.

(snip)

It may be that the primary fault line in this election is not liberal versus conservative, but change versus experience. Voters might think that Barack Obama is slightly further from them ideologically than is John McCain -- but they might also think that the country has been governed for eight years by a conservative, and that this governance has failed.

It may also be that voters are more conservative in theory than in practice. According to Rasmussen, 36 percent of voters describe themselves as conservative as opposed to 25 percent who say that they are liberal. This figure is not all that different from 2004, when 34 percent of voters said they were conservative and 21 percent liberal in exit polling. But if you look at the specific issues that loom largest in this campaign, the liberal position on things like pulling out from Iraq, implementing some kind of national health care policy, and increasing environmental regulation each poll at roughly 70/30 majorities.

There is also a school of thought that voters in Presidential elections tend to base their decisions less on the ideological attributes of a candidate and more on the personal ones. Obama's favorability rating presently stands at a +25. By contrast, John Kerry rarely did much better than even on this metric, depending on the specific wording of the question.

Either way, this is a significant problem for the Republicans. If their strategy is to say "Hey! Hey! Barack Obama is a liberal!", the American public's reaction is likely to be "Well, no shit! We're voting for him anyway."
Andrew Sullivan suggests it's because Team Bush has made liberalism cool. I don't think it's that as much as it is that they have made Republicans (of their variety, anyway) so very uncoool.

Another Splendid Little War?

If true, then this administration really hasn't learned anything.
This morning on Fox News, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton continued his drumbeat for war against Iran. Adopting Bill Kristol’s argument, Bolton suggested that an attack on Iran depends on who Americans elect as the next President:

I think if they [Israel] are to do anything, the most likely period is after our elections and before the inauguration of the next President. I don’t think they will do anything before our election because they don’t want to affect it. And they’d have to make a judgment whether to go during the remainder of President Bush’s term in office or wait for his successor.

Bolton gamed out the fallout from an attack on Iran. He claimed that Iran’s options to retaliate after being attacked are actually “less broad than people think.” He suggested that Iran would not want to escalate a conflict because 1) it still needs to export oil

2) it would worry about “an even greater response” from Israel, 3) and it would worry about the U.S.’s response.

Bolton then concluded that Arab states would be excited if the U.S. or Israel attacked Iran:

I don’t think you’d hear the Arab states say this publicly, but they would be delighted if the United States or Israel destroyed the Iranian nuclear weapons capability."
Maybe...unless the fears of a destabilized Middle East come true, and Iran still finds a way to retaliate against the American troops still in Iraq. If certain folks on the right think this could help John McCain win they need to check their calenders. This isn't the nineteenth century and simply starting another war won't win somebody the White House in a climate this bad for the Republicans. Get a clue, John, or find another line of work.

Do What Now?

Um...ah...what?
Levitra, an erectile dysfunction (ED) drug made by Bayer AG is undergoing its third labeling change since 2005. This time, the precautions section of the Levitra label will be changed to note its possible association with transient global amnesia, or TGA.

TGA is a sudden, temporary episode of memory loss that can’t be attributed to a more common neurological condition, such as epilepsy, transient ischemic attack, stroke or head injury. During an episode of transient global amnesia, recall of recent events simply vanishes, so a victim is unable to remember where they are or how they got there. They may also draw a blank when asked to remember things that happened a day, a month or even a year ago.

Victims of TGA do remember who they are, and they will recognize family members and others they have known for a long time. When an episode of TGA is over, a victim will remember nothing that happened while their memory was impaired, and might not recall the hours beforehand.

According to the FDA, the Levitra label got the transient global amnesia note “because of a limited number of post-marketing reports of men who experienced TGA” around the time they took Levitra. The FDA is stressing that no direct link has been found between TGA and Levitra. The agency has also said that the reported instances of TGA in men taking Levitra may have been spurred by something else, even by sex.
I think some guys would rather claim that they were probed by aliens than admit something like this...

We're Here To Pump You Up

Our "Friends" to the rescue-sort of.
JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia — Facing strong U.S. pressure and global dismay over oil prices, Saudi Arabia said Sunday it will produce more crude this year if the market needs it. But the vague pledge fell far short of U.S. hopes for a specific increase and may do little to lower prices immediately.

For now, the current 'oil shock' leaves Western countries with little choice but to move toward nuclear power and change their energy-consumption habits, Britain's prime minister warned at a rare meeting of oil-producing and consuming nations.

Saudi Arabia — the world's top crude exporter — called the gathering Sunday to send a message that it, too, is concerned by high oil prices inflicting economic pain worldwide.

Instead, the meeting highlighted the sharp disagreement between producers like Saudi Arabia and consuming countries like Britain and the United States over the core factors driving steep price hikes. Oil closed near $135 a barrel on Friday — almost double the price a year ago.
Well, hopefully the Chevy Volt and oil from bugs will help put these guys out of business sooner rather than later.

Death By Scandal

Oh, this has bad omen written all over it:
The man picked to replace disgraced New York Rep. Vito Fossella died in his sleep Sunday, The Staten Island Advance reported.

Frank Powers Sr., 67, a retired Wall Street executive unanimously endorsed by the local GOP to run in November in Fossella's place, was discovered by his wife in his bed.

A millionaire philanthropist, he had planned to tap into $500,000 of his own fortune to run for the seat that he had helped Fossella win. Fossella announced he would step down after a drunken driving arrest led to the discovery that he had a mistress in Washington, D.C., and a child out of wedlock.
I guess he really didn't want the job...

There Is No Censorship In Heaven

For many of us who grew up in the Seventies and Eighties, George Carlin was part of the Holy Trinity of comedy that included Robin Williams and Richard Pryor. R.I.P., Rufus.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Fear Of A Happy Planet

Doomsaying is a cottage industry these days. So when are we finally going to deprive the professional doomsayers of their livelihood?
The memeplexes which have grown out of our fear of the future -- pessimism, cynicism, fatalism, misanthropy -- seem to be gaining in influence. I wrote recently about longstanding debate between Paul Ehrlich, who is lauded for his consistently wrong predictions of catastrophe, and Julian Simon, who was essentially ignored in the face of his fact-based assessments of human progress and correct predictions of more of the same. Whether we're talking about Paul Ehrlich or Bill Joy or Al Gore, a doomsayer is a person with a serious point of view, someone who is to be respected. And whether we're talking about Julian Simon, Robin Hanson, or Ray Kurzweil, a doomslayer is a crackpot who needs to be taken down a peg.
It's true that happy thoughts don't sell as well as apocalyptic ones. But that's because we've often been all too willing to feel bad about the future instead of look forward to it. Maybe it's time we gave optimism a shot.

Among The Clintonites

Should he really have expected anything different?
Obama agreed that a lot of work needs to be done to heal the Democratic Party, and that he hoped the Clinton supporters in the room would help as much as possible.

According to Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., Obama then said, 'However, I need to make a decision in the next few months as to how I manage that since I'm running against John McCain, which takes a lot of time. If women take a moment to realize that on every issue important to women, John McCain is not in their corner, that would help them get over it.'

Rep. Diane Watson, D-Calif., a longtime Clinton supporter, did not like those last three words -- 'Get over it.' She found them dismissive, off-putting.

'Don't use that terminology,' Watson told Obama.

Clarke did not react the same way.

'I, personally, as a Hillary supporter, did not take that as something distasteful,' Clarke said. 'Nothing like that.'

But, Clarke said, Watson 'latched on to those three words.'
Can Obama tell these people to take a flying leap? Yes he can!

Smears R Us

Hizzonor takes on the smear merchants on Obama's behalf.
BOCA RATON, Fla. — Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, injecting himself directly into the presidential campaign, forcefully denounced on Friday what he called a “whisper campaign” linking Senator Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, to Islam.

Leave a Comment on City Room Speaking before a crucial constituency in the coming election, Jewish voters, in the pivotal state of Florida, Mr. Bloomberg said that rumors of Mr. Obama secretly being a Muslim represent “wedge politics at its worst, and we have to reject it — loudly, clearly and unequivocally.”

“Let’s call those rumors what they are: lies,” said Mr. Bloomberg, who has been mentioned as a potential running mate for both Mr. Obama and Senator John McCain, the likely Republican nominee.

Residents of South Florida, home to the second-largest population of Jews in the United States after New York City, have received e-mail messages claiming that Mr. Obama sympathizes with radical Islam and does not support Israel. Mr. Obama, a Christian, has repeatedly rejected both claims.
But that won't stop the diehard Clintonites and more rabid Obama haters from spreading them. It will be a good day for America when we can leave this sort of garbage behind us.

Bill Bids Farewell

Bill Gates is stepping down.
A Harvard University dropout who ushered in the home computer age and made billions of dollars along the way will have his last official day of work at Microsoft on June 27.

Three people will essentially fill the void left behind when Bill Gates retires from the company he and friend Paul Allen co-founded in 1975.

Since Gate's began his transition from leading Microsoft to heading his personally-bankrolled charity, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, his job as chief software architect has been handled by Ray Ozzie.

Craig Mundie inherited Gate's chief research and strategy officer duties, while former Harvard classmate Steve Ballmer became chief executive officer at the Seattle-based software colossus.

Gates left Harvard after two years to found the firm that became global powerhouse Microsoft. He later received honorary degrees from Harvard and other universities.

After retiring, Gates will remain chairman of the Microsoft board of directors and its largest shareholder.

'I don't think anything is going to drastically change the day he leaves,' said Matt Rosoff of the private analyst firm Directions On Microsoft.

'If he thinks something is important and tells Steve Ballmer, Ballmer will listen to him.'
I understand Bill is getting a gold watch that will require security updates every other month.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Bloggin' In The Years: 2000

Bush and Gore spar over big oil.
George W. Bush voiced support for an investigation of soaring gasoline prices, but he put most of the blame on the Clinton administration's failure to convince foreign crude producers to ''open the spigots.'

'I do think it's fair to have the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) investigate,' Bush told reporters Wednesday, adding that the results would be 'healthy' for the debate about prices that have climbed above $2 per gallon in Chicago and Milwaukee.

His Democratic rival for the presidency, Al Gore, countered that Bush has come late to the issue.

''Big oil may have gotten too big. The competitive pressures may not be what they used to be,'' Gore said aboard Air Force Two between campaign stops. The vice president quickly added he was not calling for a break up of any oil companies.
So Al blames those nasty profiteers. Before he starts throwing stones, however, Al might want to check the walls of his glass house first:
On April 28 about 100 demonstrators turned up at Occidental's annual meeting in Santa Monica and called on the company to halt the project. Activists have also picketed the offices of Fidelity Investments, which owns about 8 percent of Occidental's shares, and criticized Vice President Al Gore, whose family owns at least a quarter of a million dollars' worth of Occidental stock.

But government backing for Occidental's Colombia proposal runs far deeper than the Gore family's stock portfolio. The Nation has learned, from a government source and the internal memos of an Occidental lobbyist, that the Clinton Administration has been quietly helping the company--a generous donor to the Democrats in recent years--to win support in Colombia for its drilling plans. While Gore has strong ties to Occidental, the Administration's point man on the issue is Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, who last year traveled to Cartagena and met with government officials on the company's behalf. Richardson has also hired a former Occidental lobbyist to work in a key international-policy position at the Energy Department.
Gee, Al, hypocritical much?

It seems that Mr. Green is literally rolling in, well, green:
For the first time, Nader has released a financial disclosure statement. It shows that the longtime critic of corporate power is worth at least $3.8 million, thanks to investments in technology stocks. He makes $200,000- $300,000 from speeches but plugs most of his income into his consumer organizations and lives on about $25,000 a year. Nader says he will not release his income tax statements because of his long-standing support for privacy rights.
Well, I guess for a presidential candidate he's "Frugal":
Nader, a bachelor, lives in a rented studio apartment in Washington and owns a black-and-white television set. He does not own a car or real estate.
Neither will anybody else if the Greens ever get their way.

It's Miller time!
In an attempt to reverse sliding ratings, ABC Sports has brought Dennis Miller aboard as part of a drastic reworking of its Monday Night Football broadcast team.

Yes, THAT Dennis Miller -- once a regular on Saturday Night Live and host of his own HBO comedy show. The Dennis Miller known for his sarcastic rantings and obscure references.

Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts, a reserved analyst with experience calling NFL and college football, will also join play-by-play announcer Al Michaels the lone holdover from last season in the broadcast booth.

Miller's "role will not be to do Xs-and-Os, nor will it be to do stand-up comedy," Don Ohlmeyer, the show's producer, said Thursday. "Our goal was to try and put together a team that has distinctive voices, distinctive personalities, distinctive points of view."
Well, at the very least Miller will be able to tell a football joke that only one out of every ten Monday Night Football viewers will get.