Saturday, October 30, 2004


Best Wishes

Congratulations, Jody Neel & Preethi Pillaipakkam!


Friday, October 29, 2004


At least my students have social consciences...

And they weren't asleep either.

I promise that there is a funny story buried in here somewhere. Read on to be edified and entertained.

One of the "interesting" aspects of teaching technical subjects is the fact that many non-technical words take on different meanings in the context of some technical topic.

Today in Digital Design class, I was talking about the process by which a designer makes a state assignment in an asynchronous sequential state machine. For those of you who aren't asleep after reading that last sentence, you can think of an asynchronous state machine as being like a game of fetch:
Mildly-labored metaphor alert!

Suppose that in a game of fetch, you're holding a stick that your dog is waiting for you to throw. As long as you hold the stick, the dog will wait for you to throw it. This is a representation of a stable state - as long as no input change occurs, the state will cause itself to occur continuously. At the moment you throw the stick (here, an input change) the dog might spend a moment in the state where he is still waiting for you to throw it. This state is not stable, because as soon as the dog realizes that the stick has been thrown, he will take off running after it. Thus, the input change (throwing the stick) causes a momentary unstable state (the dog still waiting for it to be thrown) before causing a new stable state to be reached (that of the dog running after it).
There are all sorts of problems with using and designing asynchronous sequential circuits, because they are inherently unstable. One issue pertains to the digital codes that are assigned to certain states. A stable state having code 00 might need to be followed by one having code 11 as the result of some input change. But the same input change might find other final stable states, perhaps the ones having codes 01 and 10.

The problem is that we can't expect the state bits to transit from 00 to 11 at the same time. One of the bits has to change first. But notice that if the state goes from 00 to 10 before it tries to go on to 11, it won't get out of 10, because that state is stable. If it goes from 00 to 01 before it tries to go on to 11, it won't get out of 01 for the same reason. In digital design, we call this a race, because the bits are almost quite literally racing to see what results. The above race is a critical race, because there is at least one way for the race not to be settled the way that we want. Without presenting an example, we could develop the idea of a non-critical race, where regardless of the way the race is settled, we get from the initial stable state to the desired final stable state.

Here comes the punch-line. Take in the previous discussion, and now put yourself in the place of my students (who know I'm sort of a cut-up at times) to see just why this statement rates a 10 on the Uninententional Comedy Scale...
"And so, from the previous example [one where both a critical race and a non-critical race are presented, without those specific terms being used] we can see that not all races are created equal..."
Let that one hit you in face for a moment...

As you can well imagine, I was absolutely mortified, but only after the little man in my brain rewound the tape so I could figure out just what I'd said that had provoked such shocked entertainment. Class quite literally came to a standstill for a few minutes.

Those of you who would specifically know me by looking at me will appreciate the way in which I "recovered":
"Right now, I'm blushing, but none of you can see it through the content of my character." (The end of the comment being accompanied with a pinch-and-pull of the melanin-rich skin on the back of my other hand.)
That also provoked intelligent amusement. In the end, several good laughs were had by all, including by myself - even if mine were in some spite of myself.

So even though I'm a racist, I'm still voting for John Kerry. Some of you out there might seek to generalize such a racist attitude to all Kerry voters. Save it. Since I presumably still have you held hostage at this point in the post, you should instead invest your energy into telling me who you think will win the election...along with a few other details, of course.

"Thoughts" on that subject are due before the polls open next Tuesday. I'm in the midst of trying to get some "celebrity" entrants. Stay tuned to see how those efforts pay off.

Once again, happy predicting, and remember to vote!


Thursday, October 28, 2004


Fantasy Politics Run Amok

Alright. After wrangling with Microsoft Excel to write a spreadsheet that would score the contest itself once all values were entered, I'm ready to list the rules and the game elements.

The contest contains seven questions in which points will be scored based on an ordinal ranking of the entrants, and one question in which points are scored for a correct response.

For the ordinally-ranked questions, players will be ranked by how close their response was to the actual result. Closeness will be determined by the absolute value of the difference of the true value and your guess.

Players will then receive a certain number of points (depending on the question) for each person that they beat on that question. In the event of a tie, all tied players will receive points based on the highest tied place. (This is done for the sake of simplicity, but that is not to say that doing it this way is above debate.)

So in a 20-player game on a question that is worth 2 points per place, the player who is the closest to the actual value required by the question will receive 38 points. The player who is farthest from the actual value will receive 0 points. If 4 players tied for 5th place, they would all receive 30 points. The next closest player in the previous example would finish 9th and receive 22 points.

The final question is an all-or-nothing guess as to who will win the election. This question will have a value equal to the number of points awarded for first place in question 1: "How many electoral votes will the winner receive?" I have decided that it is redundant to ask how many EVs each candidate will collect, and how many states each candidate will win in a two-party system. Since these questions do not require the identification of a winning candidate, the final question ensures that no one who guesses the wrong candidate can receive more points for identifying an electoral vote total for the winner than someone who was farther off but actually picked the winner.

Entries may be made as comments to this post, or via e-mail to me at jthweatt (at) vt (dot) edu. Send questions, comments, and concerns via the same channels. If I don't know who you are, identify your entry clearly in the subject line, as I have a penchant for deleting e-mails from strangers. I will be serving as contest teller in addition to entering, so hopefully know one out there doubts my integrity. Then again, the only way that I could really affect the outcome of the contest is to affect the outcome of the election, and if I could do that, I wouldn't be sitting here doing this...

Here we go. The entry questions:

1. The number of electoral votes collected by the winner of the election. (4 points per place.)

The official electoral tally will be taken as a measure of the number of states won by the winning candidate. At this time, the number will not be subject to the whims of faithless electors.

2. The number of states won by the winner of the election. (3 points per place)

For the purposes of this question, Washington, D.C. is a state. Of course, the election winner can win fewer states than the election loser.

3. John Kerry's percentage of the national popular vote. (2 points per place)

4. George W. Bush's percentage of the national popular vote. (2 points per place)

Your responses to questions 3 and 4 need not total 100 percent. Of course, the election winner can have the lower percentage of the national popular vote.

5. John Kerry's percentage of the popular vote in the state of Texas. (1 point per place)

6. George W. Bush's percentage of the popular vote in the state of Massachusetts. (1 point per place)

7. The number of states in which any 3rd party candidate collects more than 3 percent of the popular vote. (2 points per place)

8. The winning candidate. (The number of points awarded for 1st place in question 1.)

If the election is close, this question may have to wait to be settled until the electoral votes are counted by the Congress. This question could be subject to the whims of faithless electors. If you have a problem with this inconsistency, now is the time to say something.

The player with the highest score for all questions is the winner. I imagine that we can find a way to get some fine Polyscifi swag to our World Series of Politics Main Event winner. It sure as heck won't be $5 million - at least not until we can get corporate sponsorship and broadcast time on ESPN.

Once again, happy predicting, and remember to vote!


Neither The Palm Beach County Election Board, the Cook County Democratic Party, nor Tammany Hall played any role in the creation of this post.


Wednesday, October 27, 2004


The 2004 Election Sweepstakes

Someone has to do it, and since our blogger-in-chief has bigger things on his mind for the rest of the week, I'll take a crack at this.

Following up on the "success" of our Democrat Primary Pick'em (which I won, incidentally - link to follow), it's now time for the main event in our World Series of Politics.

The Bipartisan Commision on Political Games hasn't had much time to meet, but I'd like to offer the following "game questions" as elements of the contest. Game scoring will be finalized as quickly as possible, but will likely involve a fixed point value per questions, with deductions made for the absolute value of the difference in your prediction and the actual result. The questions that are higher on the list will be worth more than the ones farther down (values will be settled soon) and the question list itself may undergo some changes.

Here's the first cut:

1. The electoral vote count. (The big question.)
2. The number of states won by each candidate. (Washington, D.C. counts as a state for the purpose of this question.)
3. The national popular vote tally, by percent, for the top two candidates. (One example of an acceptable answer would be 49/Kerry - 48/Bush. You need not include a number for Nader, since only insane people are voting for him anyway.)

For the moment (until I am prevailed upon that it doesn't matter), associate a candidate with each number in the previous questions. That's in case we have some strange and totally outrageous situation where the candidate who wins the national popular vote wins fewer states and fewer electoral votes. Don't ask me how that could happen...um...again. So really, there are six questions being asked above, and for the purposes of scoring, they will probably be scored separately.

4. The winner of the election. (That's all or nothing, of course. It would have been closer to question 1, but it's not going to be worth as much as the questions that precede it.)
5. Kerry's popular vote percentage in Texas.
6. Bush's popular vote percentage in Massachusetts.
7. The number of states in which Nader polls more than 2 percent.

Once the questions and scoring have been made official (in this blog post, or in another), entries may be made as comments to the official posting.

Happy predicting! Remember to vote!


Blogger ate my instant update, so I will post both at once. I do much of my best thinking in the shower, so I've settled a few scoring elements, I think.

It occurred to me that weighted ordinal scoring might do the trick. For each question, you get a certain number of points for each person you beat on that question. The more important questions will carry a higher-than-unity weighting, while the less important questions will be worth one point per place (or less)

Upon additional consideration, I've decided that the first question really is only one question, as the electoral-vote count is going to be a two-way split. This is barring the unforeseen, such as Ralph Nader getting the last details of his contract with Satan finalized or completing the construction of his mind-control machine.
I don't know much about contract-law, but if anyone could force a consumer-friendly compact on the Prince of Darkness, it'd be old Ralph. As for mind-control, I originally thought that if you happened to see a bunch of shambling, mottled, glassy-eyed zombies at your polling place, groaning "Greeeeeeeeeeens!" or something like that, then watch out. Alas, that applies far better to the last election. Maybe pod-people works better for this one...these pod people, and not those (Scroll down a bit.)
I'm already starting to vacilate, but for the moment, given the two way split, you're going to be off by the same amount on both candidates regardless of how you pick. So the first question might be changed to "The number of electoral votes won by the winner," and will be worth the most ordinally. Question 4 will force you to identify your winner all-or-nothing, so you pick an EV number that you think the winner is likely to gain (and this could itself depend on who you think will win) and then collect your "bonus" points for picking the winner.

I'll have more to say as I think about it.


Tuesday, October 26, 2004


For the quizbowl readers

Last night the Coase Theorem came up in trivia practice. In short, the Coase Theorem says that market forces (specifically bargaining sans government intervention) can efficiently resolve any property dispute.

Today Alex Tabarrok on Marginal Revolution notes a situation in Hollywood that's not quite Coase.
While on location in September on Moreno Avenue in Los Angeles' Brentwood neighborhood, a broad street lined with substantial homes, producer Ronald Schwary's location team asked Stefanie and Myron Roth to halt their noisy tree trimming. Some bargaining ensued, and the Roths agreed to send the trimmers away in exchange for $1,000.
A nice efficient bargaining solution with both parties happy. A triumph of Coasian bargaining.
Rather than pay them quickly with a check, Schwary, winner of a best picture Oscar for the 1980 film "Ordinary People," rounded up 100,000 pennies and had them delivered, weeks later, in 20 densely packed bags to the Roths' house.
...The Roths, who said they could not even lift the 30-pound bags, were not amused.
Maybe not such a simple application of Coase.

The longer version of Coase says that bargaining can fail to achieve efficiency in the face of transaction costs. The Roths failed to account for the emotional transaction cost of dealing with Schwary - Schwary's an ass.

Side note: Can't lift 30 pound bags of coins? Myron's an economic girlie man.

(Image shamelessly lifted from The Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid)


Bleep boop beop.

As Jody can no doubt relate, I've always been something of a video game nut. So I'm kind of embarassed to say I only got 14 of the 18 clips on this quiz. It's almost all coin-op games, though, and I was more of a console guy, so I don't feel too bad about it. Try it--it's fun.

Comments(58) |

More hating on Badnarik

Here at polyscifi, we've been hating on Badnarik before hating on Badnarik became cool (and before we learned the difference between the Libertarian candidate and the award for the Defensive college football player of the year).

Today jane galt adds another bit on why Libertarians shouldn't vote for Badnarik. (Here's a hint, he's a nut.)


Monday, October 25, 2004


Speaking of "big" endorsements

Check out the size of John Kerry's "endorsement." (h/t Wonkette via former quizbowler J.P. Lien)


Another "big" endorsement

Hey! I'm back. For now at least.

I just wanted to point out something that I just found sitting here with Jody. Sure, they're not John Hospers, but what does it say when your own (extended) family won't be voting for you?

Kind of makes you wonder how that family reunion will go...

Immediate update! (Two, in fact)

First of all, we took some editorial heat for breaking the story that the Bush cousins won't be the only Bush family members not voting for the President's re-election.

And now it's been revealed that there will in fact be one other Bush family member who definitely won't be backing the president. Whether this other family member will be backing the President's opponent is perhaps still at issue: maybe he'll vote for him before he votes against him...


Big Libertarian Endorsement for Bush

John Hospers (click for wiki entry) has endorsed W. If you don't know why this is a big thing, you're not a Libertarian (and/or you didn't read the wiki entry).


Ron Zook, we hardly knew you

But the folks at fireronzook.com sure did. And they must be dancing a jig right now (other than the fact that their site has crashed for some reason) because of this report.

As a diehard Tennessee supporter, I can honestly say that I have enjoyed Zook's tenure at Florida and am sad to see him go.



If you don't get RSS feeds (which I don't), Punditdrome is the coolest aggregator site I've seen. Punditdrome collects the headlines of some 51 major blogs in a nifty display that allows you to read short blurbs of those blogs' most recent headlines. If you wanna read more of an article, you can just click on through to the article.

Go checkPunditdrome out.

Haloscan barfed on this post. Comments are here.


New! Exciting!

Ok, I'm enjoying this "blogging" stuff enough that I've decided to launch something of a specialty blog: The Criterion Contraption. Don't worry, you'll still get Jody and me screaming at each other over the Swift Boat Veterans on this blog for as long as he'll let me do it--it's a specialty blog.

The idea is it's kind of like that nutjob who made every recipe in Julia Child's cookbook, except with DVDs and I'm not a nut. Anyway, you can see it for yourself at http://criterioncollection.blogspot.com/. Should be fun.

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Keystone Kops

Incompetence has real costs.

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Sunday, October 24, 2004


For Real.

So I've been watching Tanner '88 in the new, shiny Criterion Collection edition, and I have to say, it's a welcome relief from obsessively following the current election. T88 was a collaboration between Robert Altman & Gary Trudaeu that followed a fictional candidate through the election process. The great thing is, they shot it all on video and just kind of showed up at campaign events, so the cameos are pretty incredible. Anyway, I'll post more about this later. But in Criterion's edition, each episode is headed by an interview with cast members playing themselves sixteen years later (in part as a promo for Tanner on Tanner, which has been airing on the Sundance Channel). Point was, I thought you guys might enjoy the older, wiser Tanner's intro to the last episode, a defense of people like Karl Rove. At this point, he's teaching history at the University of Michigan. Billy, who he mentions, was a political operative (played by Harry Anderson!) who ran Tanner's attempt to prevent Dukakis from getting the nomination through a challenge at the convention. Anyway:

You know, I've had Billy come here
to lecture my students, and they
eat him up. I think it's because a
lot of them are mistrustful of what
they see in politics, and Billy's
job is about what you don't see.
It's about process. And to a
generation that's learned to
deconstruct everything, the
mechanics that underlie a campaign
is the only thing that seems real
to them. What they miss, of
course, is what makes Billy so
good, which is that he believes in
what he does. He believes that if
he does his job well, the better
man or woman might win, and that's
good for the country. They all
believed that, everyone who worked
on my campaign. And I wish, uh, I
hadn't let them down.

Let them down? How? By losing?

No. By running. They should have
been working for someone who could
win. I understand that now. There
are no moral victories in politics.
There's only winning. And if you
have even the slightest doubt about
that, you shouldn't be in it. You
should move aside for those who
care enough to do what it takes to
win. And I say that without any
bitterness or cynicism. I like how
our electoral process works. I
teach it. But the people who
succeed in politics aren't like you
or me. Especially me.

I thought that was pretty well-put. If there's one take-home lesson from voting for Nader in 2000, it's that there are no moral victories in politics. More about this series later.

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Saturday, October 23, 2004


Why I'm voting Bush

With all the no sh*t endorsements appearing in the blogosphere recently, I was planning on writing my own next week to explain why I was planning on voting Bush (I'm still deciding on the House race). Then arcane from Gene Expression invaded my mind, lifted my thoughts, and posted them. For which I'm eternally grateful as it saved me a couple hours of writing.

Then again maybe arcane didn't invade my mind, and the scary similarities in thought are just a function of us both being conservative libertarians. (Labels sometimes do carry meaning)

Partially, his (our) vote is premised on realistic expectations of what Bush could and could not do. Partially, his (our) vote is premised on what we think Kerry will do if elected. And partially, his (our) vote is premised on the theme I noted at the RNC.
You may disagree with Bush on X and Y, but on the War on Terror, you agree with his approach (perhaps not some details), and at this time, the right approach to the War on Terror trumps everything else.
To arcane's lengthy and excellent discussion, I would only add one point to - a point I left in the comments of Agoraphilia.

There's a libertarian argument that electing Kerry would split control of government and recreate the governmental gridlock of the 90's that got most libertarians all hot and bothered. (Arcane does address this argument, but only the defense spending aspects of the argument.)

I disagree with this argument because I believe the current Republicans in Congress are very different from the Republicans of the 90's. In the 90's the Republicans were principled small government conservatives. Then the government shutdown occurred (to me marking one of the proudest moments in Republican history) and the Republicans got burned badly by public opinion for their principled stand (which is a sign of why the Libertarian party will always be a third party). The public outcry caused many Republican Congressmen to drop their principles in a bid to retain power. The remaining principled Congressmen had also run on a platform of serving for a limited period (remember term limits?) and retired from Congress when they had promised.

Would the Republicans of the 90's ever have passed such a massive expansion of Medicare? Would they have voted for a massive increase in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts? While I believe the 90's Republicans would've liked the testing and acountability portions of NCLB, I don't think the party that wanted to abolish the Education department would've entertained the largesse associated with the bill.

Thus I view the current Republican Congress as Democrat-lite. The lesser of two evils, yes. The party of gridlock and small government, no. Coupled with this fact and the Republicans' desire to no longer be associated with gridlock and government shut downs, I don't see how a Republican Congress would be anything other than spending collaborators with a Kerry Presidency. Indeed, I fear a Republican Congress may try to outspend a Kerry Presidency in an attempt to rob Kerry of issues (robbing Democrats of issues was a primary motivator for Medicare).

Anyways, read arcane's post. Maybe it'll influence your choice for President, maybe not. But in the least, you'll know why I'm voting for Bush.


Cultural infection

If you thought McDonald's in Moscow was a sign of the strength of the appeal of American culture, even that pales in comparison to this.


What did the micro pothead smoke?

Why nanograss of course.


For the electrical engineers in the audience

You know you like to watch.



A similar debate occured on Scarborough country. (Matt's far more civil though)


Friday, October 22, 2004


True Lies

I tried to put this on the comments section but it's too long. I'm getting sick of the topic, but ok: here's John O'Neill on the Swift Boat Veterans website (check the "Quotes" page:

"We resent very deeply the false war crimes charges he made coming back from Vietnam in 1971 and repeated in the book "Tour of Duty."...We think that he knew he was lying when he made the charges, and we think that they're unsupportable. "

Now check this out. Can we agree that the site Dick Cheney recommended is going to be nonpartisan? Not all of this article is good for Kerry, by a long shot; he's conflicted, years later, about what he did as a young man. You can parse O'Neill's statement to make it not a lie, of course:

(Well, they only resent the "false" war crimes charges, not the true ones! He really does "think" that Kerry knew he was lying (when he made the "false" charges), so that's true, too!)

But if O'Neill really believes that Kerry's accounts of war crimes (for the most part, repeating other people's stories) are substantively different from what really happened in Vietnam, or that he made those stories up then he might not be lying but he's not that bright either.

And that page on swiftboatvets is full of people saying, in effect, that soldiers in Vietnam were all, except for Calley, honorable men who never got out of hand. That simply is not true, and to quote O'Neill, I think they knew that what they said wasn't true when they made the charges, and I think that they're unsupportable. In my book, that makes them liars.

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RE: Stolen Honor

In response to this post. My words in black, Matt's in blue.

On the Sherwood accusing Kerry of being a war criminal.

1. Note Kerry used "we" in his statement that Sherwood responded to. Thus it's perfectly fair for Sherwood to assign those actions to Kerry.

KERRY VOICEOVER: "We are more guilty than any other body of violations of those Geneva Conventions, in the use of free fire zones, harassment interdiction fire, search and destroy missions, the bombings, the torture of prisoners, the killing of prisoners, accepted policy by many units in South Vietnam."

SHERWOOD: Wait a second, I asked myself, did I hear that right? Was I or my fellow marines being accused of the same atrocities John Kerry had committed?

2. Note that when Kerry did not use "we" Sherwood did not accuse Kerry of commiting those crimes.
SHERWOOD: Later in his testimony he claimed that American soldiers [note Sherwood is not saying Kerry committed the following atrocities] in Vietnam were guilty of even more heinous acts of barbarism:

KERRY VOICEOVER: "...they had personally raped, cut off ears, cot off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the country side of South Vietnam."
3. Further note that Kerry himself has claimed that he personally had violated Geneva Conventions and not just in the context of representing the Winter Soldiers which his "We" can be interpreted as in his Senate testimony. (link)
MR. RUSSERT: Before we take a break, I want to talk about Vietnam. You are a decorated war hero of Vietnam, prominently used in your advertising. You first appeared on MEET THE PRESS back in 1971, your first appearance. I want to roll what you told the country then and come back and talk about it:

(Videotape, MEET THE PRESS, April 18, 1971):

MR. KERRY (Vietnam Veterans Against the War): There are all kinds of atrocities and I would have to say that, yes, yes, I committed the same kind of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers have committed in that I took part in shootings in free-fire zones. I conducted harassment and interdiction fire. I used 50-caliber machine guns which we were granted and ordered to use, which were our only weapon against people. I took part in search-and-destroy missions, in the burning of villages. All of this is contrary to the laws of warfare. All of this is contrary to the Geneva Conventions and all of this ordered as a matter of written established policy by the government of the United States from the top down. And I believe that the men who designed these, the men who designed the free-fire zone, the men who ordered us, the men who signed off the air raid strike areas, I think these men, by the letter of the law, the same letter of the law that tried Lieutenant Calley, are war criminals.

(End videotape)

I really don't understand what your (or Stevens' or the left's in general) beef is with accusing Kerry of what Kerry himself claimed he did.

But they all also seem to agree that we lost the war *because* of the anti-war movement in America, and that if not for the actions of John Kerry, we would have *won* the war in Vietnam by 1970. That's crazy talk.

Without the anti-war movement, yes I do believe we would have won the war. As the Tet offensive occured in 1968 and was a crushing military defeat for the communists, 1970 seems to be a reasonable timeline to me. However, Tet was also an energizing moment for the antiwar crowd and public opinion turned and public opinion and particularly the antiwar movement cost us the war. 1970 further seems reasonable as the Tet reaction is the primary reason that Westmoreland did not get his requested 200,000 extra troops.

Kerry (who, after all, singlehandedly created the popular image of the Vietnam war)

Kerry was a major leader of the antiwar movement. The Winter Soldier testimony was a MAJOR event in the Vietnam anti-war movement and fueled a lot of the antipathy that the public felt towards the soldiers. Should you doubt the importance of the Winter Soldier testimony, I fully believe that Winter Soldier is why Kerry got in the Senate and why Kerry is running for President today. Attributing significant portions of the antiwar image of Vietnam to Kerry's actions seems perfectly fair to me.

As a side note, I would kinda like to see Apocalpyse Now set on Mars. Crossing the plot with Total Recall would be doubly cool.

We couldn't get through a year in Iraq without torture and rape; does he really think we made it through 12 years in Vietnam?

An isolated incident is very different from the daily basis that Kerry accused the US military of during Vietnam. Unless you believe that there was/is widespread torture and rape in Vietnam and Iraq. And whether or not you believe that to be the case, how is that accusation not an indictment of the American people as a whole?

Anyways, here's another review of Stolen Honor from a Democrat who lives in L.A. with a different view of the merits of the material (though not of the quality of the film making).


Stolen Honor

SO there's a transcript of Stolen Honor up here. I think I agree with the Times review to some extent; I'd love to see these guys talk. But Carlton Sherwood's voiceover seems to me to pretty clearly fall into the category of "damned lies." A few choice excerpts, all Sherwood in voiceover:

I felt the honor of fighting for my country decomposing just as surely as if all the battle ribbons have been stripped from my chest, leaving only torn patches where once the dignity and sacrifice had been.
So can we at least agree this guy's a terrible writer?

But what about the allegations themselves? How true were they? How many were out-and-out fabrication, lies, designed to shock America, throw one last spotlight on the waning anti-war movement? And how many were driven by one man's personal political ambitions?
The waning anti-war movement? In 1970-1971? Come on.

More than that, wasn't [John Kerry] saying that Americans, by their nature, were a murderous horde, unrestrained by accepted rules of combat or even the most basic forms of human decency?
You raise a good question. The answer is no. No, he wasn't.

Were John Kerry and his fellow anti-war activists responsible for lengthening their imprisonment, and in doing so, causing the deaths of men who may otherwise have survived?
Sherwood asks the vets this, and they all say yes. But they all also seem to agree that we lost the war *because* of the anti-war movement in America, and that if not for the actions of John Kerry, we would have *won* the war in Vietnam by 1970. That's crazy talk. And I'm inclined to believe that the torturers in Vietnam would have found something to taunt prisoners with if Kerry hadn't testified. It's not like his testimony gave them the idea.

Perhaps films like "Apocalypse Now" which reflects John Kerry's view of a murderous America will no longer be made because the dishonesty of it has been exposed.
I don't think most Americans think that a retelling of Heart of Darkness (Hey, Sherwood--you forgot Poland!) is meant to be a documentary. And if Sherwood thinks that the point of AN or HoD is "John Kerry is right! America is murderous!" then I can't imagine he saw the movie or read the book.

The parts of Apocalypse Now that are good would be good if they were set on Mars, or if all the main characters were VC, or however else you want to recast it. (and Brando would be fat, bald, and bad if he were playing Gozo the Great, destroyer of worlds, or whatever). For sheer filmmaking bravado, you don't get much better than the helicopter attack sequence. You guys say what you want about Vietnam, but leave Ford Coppola out of it.

Sherwood also lists Platoon as a bad movie, full of lies, practically co-written by Kerry (who, after all, singlehandedly created the popular image of the Vietnam war). In the same breath, he says "It's about a war I've fought in and what I saw happening when I got back from it," about his own movie. Well, shit, Oliver Stone fought there too. I don't much like Platoon but why deny Stone the right to make his own movie about what he saw over there?

Last, but certainly not least, Sherwood states that the Winter Soldier investigation had been utterly discredited. Unfortunately, this isn't true. We couldn't get through a year in Iraq without torture and rape; does he really think we made it through 12 years in Vietnam?

Look, I read the transcript with an open mind, and I don't deny the anger toward Kerry the men he interviewed feel. I'd love to see that footage. But, and I'm hoping you can agree with me here, it does seem to me that Sherwood is more interested in smearing John Kerry than looking at how these guys dealt with torture and the war's aftermath. And I could be wrong about this, but claiming that Kerry invented the popular conception of Vietnam seems to me to be a little overreaching.

Oh, and last of all, it looks like the writer for Slate got the sequence of quotes wrong in her review. Sherwood didn't accuse Kerry of ball-wiring. Just "violations of those Geneva Conventions,... the use of free fire zones, harassment interdiction fire, search and destroy missions, the bombings, the torture of prisoners, [and] the killing of prisoners." So that's ok, then.

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Good News!


I'm particularly intrigued by #7. Sci-fi stories featuring post-apocalyptic worlds and lost knowledge have always fascinated me. I guess a lot of these stories

1. Asimov's Empire/Robots/Foundation mega series involves a huge amount of amnesia, with humaity forgetting their origins, Earth, and robots.

2. There's a character in Niven/Pournelle's Lucifer's Hammer. He's a professional geek. After the world ends, his only goal is to individually wrap and secure against fire, theft, or loss his core library of 4,000 books. Together, they contain enough knowledge to get from the stone age to the present day.

3. In R.A. Heinlein's, Time Enough For Love, Lazarus Long has lived for 3,000 years, and knows more than any other human alive. But he can't organize it all, and has learned (through hypnosis?) ways to wash out useless memories, and organize them.

Now, why bother?


Good News!


I'm particularly intrigued by #7. Sci-fi stories featuring post-apocalyptic worlds and lost knowledge have always fascinated me. I guess a lot of these stories

1. Asimov's Empire/Robots/Foundation mega series involves a huge amount of amnesia, with humaity forgetting their origins, Earth, and robots.

2. There's a character in Niven/Pournelle's Lucifer's Hammer. He's a professional geek. After the world ends, his only goal is to individually wrap and secure against fire, theft, or loss his core library of 4,000 books. Together, they contain enough knowledge to get from the stone age to the present day.

3. In R.A. Heinlein's, Time Enough For Love, Lazarus Long has lived for 3,000 years, and knows more than any other human alive. But he can't organize it all, and has learned (through hypnosis?) ways to wash out useless memories, and organize them.

Now, why bother?


Moore of him to hate.

Jody just took me to task for not having moral outrage about Farenheit 911. I don't think I've ever said a word of good about that movie. I think Michael Moore is a dissembler & sloppy thinker. Worse, he's rude. I agree Farenheit 911 is full of distortions and half-truths. I think Moore's bad tactically for the left like Tom DeLay is for the right. He's a caricaturist's dream.

That said, I think "Roger and Me" deserves every word of praise it ever got; it's a great movie. And while it has a point of view, I don't think you could say it's a smear or distorts the truth. And if you can keep a straight face while watching the sketch in The Awful Truth where Moore's ragging on William Cohen, Clinton's poetry-writing secretary of defense (he gets a North Korean, an Iraqi, a Sudani? Sudanese? anyway, guy from the Sudan to stand outside Cohen's office and yell things like "Your poetry is for the weak! Our poetry is strong!" Then he has an eight-year-old girl challenge him to an arm-wrestling competition. Anyway, this parenthetical comment has gone on long enough), well, you're a better man than I. With a filmmaker, I'm really less interested in them personally and more interested in their movies. Some of Moore's stuff I like very much, some I think flirts with being reprehensible, and some is absolutely reprehensible--I about lost my lunch when he used footage from 9-11 in "Bowling for Columbine." Moore as a public figure = jackass. Moore as a filmmaker = when he is good, he is very very good, and when he is bad, he's rotten.

Farenheit 911, the only thing I really thought was interesting to see was the scene of Gore certifying Bush's election. That must have just about killed him. Dunno if you guys saw the thing in the New Yorker a month or so ago about Gore, but they asked him about the movie--he hasn't seen it, but he never thought anything could make him feel sympathetic for Charlton Heston until he saw "Bowling For Columbine."

Moral outrage, no. I'm embarrassed Moore's vocally supporting Kerry. I'd be the last one to defend his honor. And now, let's talk about the Swift Boat Vets.

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Swift Boat Veterans for Scotch

All right, J. Let's go point-by-point through the Swift Boat Veterans.

I think this is a loser for SBVT and the right, because I think Kerry's record in Vietnam pretty much speaks for itself. I'd recommend reading Kerry's Silver Star commendation, and challenge Jody and anyone else to find anything in George W. Bush's records that suggests that sort of heroism. But, point-by-point:
Must sleep, more later.

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Lie Girls

Probably not worksafe, definitely on the left side of the spectrum, and definitely worth a view. (h/t fleshbot - definitely not work safe)

Somehow this seems related: Here's a site dedicated to hot GOP babes. (h/t Lastango)

Update 2
This may be related as well. However, this one you can probably view at work.
The bitch who lives with me was completely fed up with my blogging at all hours. Came the dawn on a gorgeous fall day this morning, and she absolutely insisted on taking a walk. "Okay," I told her, "We'll walk to the Burger King so I can get breakfast." That suited her well enough, although she wanted more than the three tater tots I was willing to share. So we continued our walk, wandering through the campus of nearby Houston Baptist University. I even got her to pose nude by one of the fountains!


Another polyscifi site

Gene Expression has spawned a sister site - Gene Expression Science Fiction. The site seems to do a better job of sticking to scifi material than I've been able to do during the lead up to the election.


Thursday, October 21, 2004


World Series

The red state championship just concluded and Missouri won. Alas we will not have the Texas-Massachusetts World Series leading up to the Texas-Massachusetts election a couple days later that I had hoped for.


Another is combatting the Bush is a dumbass meme

Steve Sailer looks at officer test scores and class ranks and concludes that Bush probably has a higher IQ than Kerry. Sailer confirms the Bush SAT score, but says he can't confirm the Kerry SAT score I previously noted. Sailer also draws an interesting distinction between Bush and Kerry:

"The subtle difference between Bush and Kerry in two words: Bush is competitive and Kerry is ambitious. "


Did Newton have Asperger's?

That's the thought that went through my mind when I read this article on slate. (h/t Volokh)


More funny

Bush vs Kerry in a hip hop dance off. The best three dances are Kerry's "Heiny Heinz" and Bush's "Money walk" and "Bye bye kerry." (h/t the Corner)



I've followed the Stolen Honor controversy pretty closely, and even got some friends in the Baltimore & St. Louis area to make some calls to Sinclair media advertisers. And I've never, but never thought the Swift Boat Vets were anything but smear artists of the lowest kind. I figured Stolen Honor would be like the SBV ads--trying not to say anything provably untrue, but implying a lot. It turns out, though, that Stolen Honor actually is pretty straightforward about balls-out lying, though. Here's a paragraph from Dana Stevens's review in Slate:

This brings me to my nomination for Moment Least Likely To Appear in Friday's broadcast: the brief segment in which producer and narrator Carlton Sherwood, with a straight face and without a shred of evidence, calls John Kerry a war criminal. And not in some symbolic, metaphorical way; he accuses him of decapitating, testicle-eletrocuting, and rape. Those are but some of the atrocities that Kerry describes in a well-known clip from the Congressional hearings of 1971: "They [the soldiers] told the stories … at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals … and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam." Immediately after this clip, Sherwood appears onscreen and asks: "Did I just hear that right? Was I, or my fellow Marines, being accused of the same atrocities John Kerry had committed?" Did I just hear that right? After rewinding this moment half a dozen times, I had to believe it: A film destined for the airwaves of national television on the eve of the election was coolly asserting that the Democratic candidate was a rapist and a ball-wiring baby killer. You'd think that would have come up in the debates: "My opponent has no plan for saving Social Security. Plus, he wired all those balls in Vietnam."
Unbelievable. Read the whole thing, as Glenn Reynolds will probably not say about this article.


A little lighter fare

John Kerry supports putting immigrant kids back in the Atlantic. (h/t INDC Journal)


Election Enders: Global Test

(This is the first in a series of essays I’m posting as to why I term a number of comments made by Kerry in the debates “election enders”)
Welcome, World Leader. We understand that you'd like to undertake some type of foreign policy action. In the past, this would have involved a great deal of debate and diplomatic activity (not to mention bribery) in Paris, Brussels, and on the west bank of the East River. In the interest of streamlined world government, we've developed this simple test, which should take no more than a few minutes to fill out, to get you quickly on to your next foreign adventure, should it meet all reasonable criteria for peace and international justice.
That’s the intro to the global test that some enterprising satirist put up online. “Global Test” is also the phrase used by Kerry in describing his differences with Bush on preemptive war in the first debate.
What is your position on the whole concept of preemptive war?

KERRY: The president always has the right, and always has had the right, for preemptive strike. That was a great doctrine throughout the Cold War. And it was always one of the things we argued about with respect to arms control.

No president, through all of American history, has ever ceded, and nor would I, the right to preempt in any way necessary to protect the United States of America.
But if and when you do it, Jim, you have to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you're doing what you're doing and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons.
Republicans (and Thason - see 10:00 entry) immediately picked up on these phrases and ridiculed Kerry for saying that we needed to pass a global test for our actions to be legitimate. For most Americans (though not all), the thought of subordinating America’s authority to some other country or international entity is anathema.

For most Americans, the legitimacy of an action is determined solely by the rightness or wrongness of an action, not by how many people agree with your action. This idea is driven into America's youth when the complaint of "But mom, everyone else is doing it" is responded to with"If everyone else was jumping off a bridge, would you?" Indeed determining the rightness of an action by appealing to the opinions of others is a logical fallacy - the so called appeal to common practice. The rightness or wrongness of an action should be justifed solely on its own merits.

Feeling the heat from the Republican uproar, Kerry was forced to defend himself in this CNN article (which closely parallels Matt’s defense):
Asked during a town hall meeting in Hampton to explain what he meant, the Massachusetts senator said, "It's almost sad; it's certainly pathetic, because all they can do is grab a little phrase and try to play a game and scare Americans."

He added, "They're misleading Americans about what I said. What I said in the sentence preceding that was, 'I will never cede America's security to any institution or any other country.' No one gets a veto over our security. No one.

"And if they were honest enough to give America the full quote, which America heard, they would know that I'm never going to allow America's security to be outsourced. That's the job of the president.

"But I can do a better job of protecting America's security because the test that I was talking about was a test of legitimacy, not just in the globe, but elsewhere.” [elsewhere? Remember what I said earlier, no matter who wins this election, English loses.]
So Kerry seems to be asserting that his test of legitimacy is not a global test, yet we must pass this legitimacy test to go to war. The rest of this post is in response to that assertion.

First, to echo Thason’s insta-analysis, how is an international test of legitimacy not a limit on our preemptive capacity? How is it not ceding the actions of America to the approval of other nations? To me, it seems to be a semantic difference of middling importance. Following up on our earlier SAT discussion, to me global test : test of legitimacy [in the globe] :: tomAto : tomAHto.

Second, what steps should Bush have taken to give the Iraq the legitimacy that Kerry believes we should have for a preemptive war – the legitimacy that Kerry clearly believes that we did not achieve? What should be this test of legitimacy?
Should we have made our case to the American people before going to war? Bush did that in the SOTU and for a YEAR leading up to the war.

Should we first have issued a warning to Iraq through the UN? Bush did that.

Should we have presented evidence to make our case at the UN? Powell did that.

Should we have tried to secure a formal authorization from the UN to go to war? Bush did that.

Should we have tried to bring along as many countries as possible? Bush got 38.
These are all good steps as long as the emphasis is on trying to accomplish these international goals, cause ultimately our decisions should not be determined by the whims and machinations of other nations.

However, Kerry’s position on the war (correct me if I’m wrong here, but I don’t believe I am cause my certainty comes from GAWD Almighty) is that all of this is not just insufficient, but incompetently insufficient. To me this indicates that there are orders of magnitude more steps that Kerry would’ve taken to secure the "legitimacy" that he associates with the blessing of the global community.

Specifically, Kerry has offered three specific points of criticism on how well Bush's performance in the global test legitimacy test I just offered.

Criticism 1.
First, that the evidence presented to the UN was flawed in that apparently there were no stockpiles of WMD laying about. At least this criticism considers the rightness or wrongness of the action itself. However, if we were wrong to remove Hussein, then obviously we should correct our mistake and reinstall Hussein, give him back his palaces, and sod off. But who among us believes that we should reinstall Hussein? In the end, we believe the action was correct even though the intelligence that Iraq had stockpiles of WMD was flawed. Therefore, the merit of the action is established, and to me, the legitimacy question is answered. If you would like to know how we came (in good faith) to use this flawed intelligence, I would suggest you read the Duelfer report.

Criticism 2.The second criticism is that while Bush tried to get UN authorization, Bush did not actually get the formal authorization to go to war. What else can this mean, but that in the eyes of Kerry by failing to get the approval of France, Russia, and China we made the whole enterprise illegitimate. Thus we failed the global test legitimacy test.

However, this incident highlights the reasons why we do not subordinate American actions to international authorities. France and Russia were on the take from Iraq in the oil for food scandal and France has a long standing policy of opposing US action, even predating Vedrine's “hyperpuissance” comments which stated France's intention to create a multipolar world to oppose the US. France’s ill intents were also evidenced by the Niger forged documents episode. By allowing the legitimacy of our actions to be determined by the approval of foreign countries and only permitting our actions to occur when those countries deem our actions legitimate, we cede authority to those countries.

Criticism 3. The third criticism is that Bush did not get enough allies involved in his coalition of the “bribed and coerced” and thus we are bearing to great a cost in terms of life and capital. While the Bush campaign is right to point out that calling our alliance "fraudulent" is demeaning to our current allies and not very helpful for bringing any more allies on board later, the criticism is also indicative of Kerry’s willingness to subjugate US policy to international approval.

How many countries are needed before action can move forward? Obviously not the 34 we had in Gulf War I which Kerry voted against. Obviously not 38 - that’s so low that the Gulf War II coalition is “fraudulent.”

So what number would be acceptable, 60? 100? The whole world? In what sense is this not basing the legitimacy of our actions on the approval of others? In what sense is Kerry’s requirement not a global test, even in the perjorative sense?

As part of this criticism, Kerry also points out that the US is absorbing 90% of the deaths in Iraq - a figure he says is far too high (a figure that also ignores Iraqi deaths). However, in Gulf War I there were 293 American deaths and 358 total coalition deaths in Gulf War I for a US death percentage of 81%. Though again, I guess that's an unfair comparison as Kerry voted against that war.

After noting the steps that Bush went through to try to rally allies to our cause, one can draw the conclustion that either these global tests legitimacy tests are biased against Bush, or Kerry is so desirous of international approval that anything less than UN impratur is illegitimate. Personally, I think it’s both.

To bolster my assertion of Kerry’s need for UN impratur, I’ll quote this article from the WaPo.
Kerry's belief in working with allies runs so deep that he has maintained that the loss of American life can be better justified if it occurs in the course of a mission with international support. In 1994, discussing the possibility of U.S. troops being killed in Bosnia, he said, "If you mean dying in the course of the United Nations effort, yes, it is worth that. If you mean dying American troops unilaterally [the English language is going to lose on Nov 2] going in with some false presumption that we can affect the outcome, the answer is unequivocally no."
At least in 1994 Kerry believed in a global test legitimacy test that required international approval for US action for legitimacy (cause doncha know, the US isn't powerful enough to affect the outcome of a war without it being a part of a UN effort.). However, disregarding my earlier points for the moment, maybe Kerry changed and is not just saying whatever he thinks will get him elected. After all, Bush was not into the nation building thing when he was elected, but Bush has said that 9/11 changed his outlook. Maybe 9/11 was a similarly life-changing event for Kerry. That would at least address this last issue I raise. So let’s see Kerry’s thoughts on the subject from an Oct 10 interview in the NYT magazine (now archived, but excerpted here)
When I asked Kerry how Sept. 11 had changed him, either personally or politically, he seemed to freeze for a moment. ''It accelerated -- '' He paused. ''I mean, it didn't change me much at all. It just sort of accelerated, confirmed in me, the urgency of doing the things I thought we needed to be doing. I mean, to me, it wasn't as transformational as it was a kind of anger, a frustration and an urgency that we weren't doing the kinds of things necessary to prevent it and to deal with it.''
The “global test” line was an election ender because, just for a moment, it pulled back the curtain of words that Kerry had carefully hung during this campaign and allowed the American voter to catch a glimpse of Kerry's actual beliefs.

Kerry believes that war, including preemptive war, requires the approval of the world community. Kerry believes the rightness or wrongness of an action - the legitimacy of the action - is determined by the approval of others. I know this to be wrong. Most Americans know this to be wrong. This is why the "global test" line, or "test of international legitimacy", or whatever Kerry wants to call it, should be an election ender.

Similar thoughts are expressed over at fedora pundit.


Fine Line!

Well, I just got home from an employee screening of Vera Drake. That's Mike Leigh's new movie, about to get a wider release from Fine Line. It gets a moderate thumbs-up from me--it's good, and not particularly preachy. I thought it was going to be a "message movie" but it's not. The first half is actually more of a case study in cognitive dissonance than anything else--Vera just sort of bustles through everything with the same good cheer. The production design & art direction are great--they made me understand why Kingsley Amis was so pissed off. I would have been, too. I think there's a certain residual coolness to a lot of that early fifties stuff, though--everything looks oily, from food to nylons. The acting is incredible, but I didn't like Andrew Dickson's score a bit. Very weepy. Script is all right, nothing too special. Let's call it a mild consider.

Other recent movies; I saw I Heart Huckabees at the Arclight on Sunday. It's kind of a train wreck of a movie, to be honest. Not a fan at all--some of it made me laugh, but not nearly enough. It's not that it doesn't make sense, it's that it does make sense, it's pretty banal, but it thinks it's very, very smart. Like spending the weekend with your stoner friend from college. It's too bad--Three Kings has long been a personal favorite, so my hopes were pretty high. David O. Russell and Jeff Baena did a Q & A after the movie, and that was also a train wreck. DOR got volunteers from the audience to debate various points of view from the movie, until the people from the Arclight told him he had to go so the next showing could start. Also, the theater only provided one microphone, so Russell & Baena had to pass it back and forth, and while DOR was moderating this "debate" he'd set up, he had to walk person to person like Jerry Springer. It was pretty incredible.

I was still kind of shaking my head over Russell's debate stuff on the way out, when I noticed Parminder Nagra talking to a friend by the popcorn counter--some days I love this city, and some days I really love this city.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2004


Sproul & Ass

As far as the moral equivalency of the Ohio crack scandal & the Sproul & Associates scandal, consider the following:
No, but not so flippantly, I don't think the two things are at all equivalent. & I'd rather have some bonehead register Janet Jackson to vote in Ohio than have legitimate registrations destroyed, any day of the week. I kind of doubt JJ will show up at the polls.

On an unrelated note, I would work for chinese food even if it didn't have opium. For some reason (geographical distribution of immigrants from various areas of China, probably), chinese restaurants out here always offer Orange Chicken, rarely Sesame Chicken or General Tso's Chicken, and rarely have egg drop soup--or if they do, it's all screwed up with mushrooms and stuff and called "Egg Flower Soup." Irk.

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Voter Drives

Paying workers with crack is better than not paying them at all...

I don't know a lot about politics but if I ever run, I'm hiring Sproul & Associates. Those guys have the can-do spirit that America needs.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2004


I don't get it

Roger over at nanothoughts and Allen at mackenab.com both approvingly link to this NYT piece that pupports to show that the Bush white house is plagued by the "easy certainty" that comes from his faith that prevents Bush from seeing reality and thus adjusting to it.

What I don't get is how this jives with last month's criticism that Bush is the bigger flip flopper. If he's so cocksure (Need some wood?) and unwilling to change his mind, then how did the democrats compile such a nice list of major instances where Bush did change his mind?

For instance see this "Bush the flip-flopper" page or this CBS (I count them in the Dem camp just like the NYT) of Bush's flip flops or Daily Kos's list of Bush flip flops. (Technically they're all flips, rather than flip-flops, but who's counting?)

My message to the Dem bloggers out there. Go pick a logically consistent critique of Bush and stick to it. There's a little less than two weeks left - you can do it. Otherwise, I'm just going to assume you're flailing about hoping something sticks.

Link to NYT piece added. D'oh.


Mocking the Vote

For our readers at Virginia Tech readers [ed - both of them? - quiet you], the political science club at Virginia Tech is holding a mock online vote. Vote early. Vote often. (Ok, you have to have a VT pid and they track by pid so you can't actually vote often.)


Noting the polyscifi

err sci scifi. Scott on Gene Expression is shilling for the just past (Oct 17 - I'll see if I can find a replay date) Farscape Peacekeeper Wars miniseries.

For whatever reason, I've never really got into Farscape which is rather surprising as I like scifi and I like muppets and Farscape's got both. My lack of interest is made all the more confusing by the fact that I've always thought Chiana (Gigi Egley) is really hot.


Postus Interruptus

Sorry about the sparse posting, but I had a trip to Austin (more on that later) and a couple trips to Lynchburg [ed - who are you apologizing to? Both readers? Your mom knew where you were. Hey, while my mom doesn't read this blog, her van does sport this bumper sticker.]

Anyways, I have a few more political posts to get to in a little bit, but in the meantime, we've discovered why after eating Chinese food, you get hungry for more just an hour later, it turns out there's opium in the food. Well at least in 215 restaurants in China. (h/t marginal revolution)

Maybe the Ohio NAACP would've been better off paying this guy in Chinese food.

Twice is a pattern. I see where John Kerry is down in the polls today... in the immortal words of Sleazy P. Martini, "We need more crack!"


Fun Commercials

Early this morning, I heard a commercial that we'll be seeing on retro shows (Ah, remember 2004?!) in years to come. It was for Yahoo! Local, and the shill was none other than Dr. Howard Dean.

Dean was talking about promoting his new book, and a book tour and campaigning, and how Yahoo! Local would help him get around...

...when he was campaigning in CALIFORNIA!
....and at a book signing in MICHIGAN!
....and touring in VIRGINIA!
....and then he was going to relax in WASHINGTON D.C.!

and then the commercial ends with the wacky Yahoo! slogan: "Yahoo-ooo-ooo!".

And Dean says something like: "I can relate to that"

I almost drove off the road.


Friday, October 15, 2004


Election Enders

Jody claimed in a comment below that the Assault Weapons Ban was a big issue in swing states, notably the midwest and Pennsylvania. I'm not so sure--I think renewal of the ban was overwhelmingly supported everywhere in the US. Check out this editorial from the Washington Post--apparently, Midwestern states averaged 72 percent support for renewal. In fact, among gun owners and NRA supporters, only two states (Missouri and Ohio) had a majority support for ending the ban. And it wasn't much of a majority--again, that's among gun owners and NRA supporters. Was there any state in the union in which a majority of citizens opposed the ban? Was that state Wyoming? I don't know--I have to find the actual polling data--Jody, if you know where it is, a link would be great.

Anyway, I think it's a giant losing issue for the Republicans, and I think that's why Bush and DeLay did their whole Kabuki theater thing ("if only, if only the president had told me in person that he supported renewing the ban!").

I hate that kind of nonsense.

As far as the other Election Enders Jody lists, I think, first of all, that he's deliberately misunderstanding the "global test" phrase that Bush keeps repeating. Seeking international legitimacy (and being honest with the world) are good policy, and not related in any way shape or form to letting other countries make our foreign policy decisions. Jody, you know that, & I think Kerry's been pretty clear about it, so give me a break.

Also, you list Kyoto as an election ender--I think Kerry said he didn't support the treaty as written, but thought Bush shouldn't have just walked away entirely. And he didn't just walk away, he had his administration make pretty ludicrous statements about the lack of scientific evidence for a link between CO2 emissions and global warming. My answer to Bush on that: Eppure si muove.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2004


Debate 3

Bush said that one of the causes of the rising costs of medicine is the lack of a direct market in medicine. Be still my libertarian heart...

Damn Bush. To say this to a CBS moderator... "In all due respect, I know don't how fair it is to quote media sources..."

Bush dares to touch the Social Security third rail and Kerry is trying to burn him for it. Such is life. Kerry says he will in effect do nothing to fix Social Security. Chicken Little Kerry.

Now's Kerry's talking about Bush's INCOME tax cut as causing insolvency in social security. SS is supposed to be self-sufficient. If an income tax cut hurts social security, then umm, it's not self-sufficient.

Hoover reference. DRINK!!

Immigration. Wow. Props for this question. However, I fear that a lot of the difficulties are institutional (read as management).

Kerry's proposing biometrics. How would that help stop people sneaking across the border?

Kerry wants to raise the minimum wage. Yes, I thought we needed some more inflation. Silly Kerry. Kerry's understanding of economics on this issue is appalling.

Bush would've raised the minimum wage too? Restart my libertarian heart. Education is a better idea than raising the minimum wage. Also as a quicky aside, immigration and poverty are closely related (link).

Bush finally called Kerry on Gulf War I (in a domestic debate - tells you where the country's priorities are). I wonder how many people saw it... Would've better placed in the first debate.

Affirmative action - Kerry's for it. To me yet another election ender. (Global test, Kyoto, Strong support of AWB, and Affirmative action)

Again Bush is hitting on education. I like that approach much better. No fish, but we'll teach you how to fish.

Faith question for Bush. I still don't know why the media goes after him so hard on the issue. Oh wait, yes I do. Back to questions slanted against Bush.

The imaginary exchange that just went through my head:
Kerry: "I think we have a lot more loving of our neighbors to do in this country"
Bush: "Need some wood?"

That's the softest softball question to end a debate I've ever heard.

That "Integrity Integrity Integrity" line is going to end up in an ad.


Combatting the Bush is a dumbass meme

After seeing a number of "Bush is a dumbass" statements in rapid succession today, see Amy Tan "I'm voting for Kerry, because I have a brain and so does he." See this flyer: "Voting for Bush is Like Running in the Special Olympics. Even if you win, you're still retarded." See virtually the entire left side of the blogosphere (and some of the libertarian right).

MENSA had a long habit of using SAT and GRE scores as proxies for IQ scores (for conversions see here). So if Bush is such a dumbass, you would expect his score to be fairly low. Well Time surveyed a bunch of famous people for the SAT scores a while back and here's some relevant excerpts:
Paul Allen 1600
Bill O'Reilly 1585
Ben Stein 1573
Rush Limbaugh 1530
Al Gore 1355
George W Bush 1206
John Kerry 1190
Bill Clinton 1032
Al Franken 1020

If you're calling W a dumbass, by the dumbass transitive property, you're calling John Kerry a dumbass too. While there can be significant variation in SAT scores due to educational background, both Kerry and Bush had very similar upbringings (rich, white, well-connected families), so I think those considerations can be safely excluded and comparative aptitudes can be evaluated.

Side note: check out that Bill O'Reilly score.


Conspiracy Theories

Perhaps this is why W keeps saying he was honorably discharged when asked about TANG. Perhaps "honorably discharged" is another Bush code word.


Saturday, October 09, 2004



Apparently Bush does, in fact, own part of a timber company. With only $84 in question, it wasn't worth lying about, although it was a good line. And John Stewart, once again, had the best line about Cheney's misstatement last Tuesday about Factcheck.org (he called it factcheck.com). Stewart misheard the Vice President and was unable to find anything about the campaign at all at "FatChicks.org." Which, tragically, doesn't seem to exist.

I'm afraid William Saletan is right with his list of Kerry's missed opportunities.

Wonkette's liveblog of the debate is great. It turns out, also, that Ana Marie Cox has tattoos. V. v. hot, as Tina Brown would say. If only she weren't married. Liz Marlantes, now...

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Like Jody, I was very pleased with the debate; I thought the questions were tough, and excellent. I often wonder, when I read spins of the debates afterward, if the commentators were watching the same event (I think Karen Hughes asked Hillary Clinton exactly that in a post-debate back-and-forth last night). For example, I thought that John Edwards talking about Cheney's daughter was pretty classless, and thought Cheney refused to talk about his GAY DAUGHTER only because he was afraid he'd have to rip JE's throat out with his teeth. Which, as much as I like Edwards, I would have liked to have seen; Cheney feasting on human flesh on national television would do a lot to elevate the national discourse. Anyway, most of the summatons that mentioned that moment at all looked at it as a high point in terms of class.

Which is kind of my take on last night's--a lot of people talk about Bush seeming forceful and in command last night; I thought that for the first half-hour or so, he sounded crazy and pissed off, not forceful. Maybe it was his mike--but he sounded almost like he was hectoring the audience. In contrast, I thought Kerry's delivery (which I was expecting to be wooden), was very good; the whole "Did he do that? No. Did he do this? No." was one of the nicer rhetorical flourishes of the evening).

I was actually having a smoke during the whole "Want some wood?" exchange, and I'm sorry to have missed it cause that sort of thing really plays to GW's strengths. Other thoughts:

Kerry totally flubbed the abortion question, unfortunately, and didn't do nearly as well as he could have on the stem cell one. And the environmental question was close to a home run for him but he spent too long talking about other things. Though the Orwellian line about the Clean Skies (or Clear Skies, can't be bothered to look it up) was good.

I'm surprised Kerry didn't say something about Bush's reference to the "internets." If I were Al Gore, I'd be planning a public statement about that--e.g., "I only invented one internet--Bush invented the others."

Bush "appreciated" every question. Sometimes he appreciated the questions like I appreciate classical music, though--painfully and unwillingly.

The transcripts seem to have edited both candidates misstatements to make them make sense. For example, they left out Bush's failure to say Silvio Berlusconi's name in its entirety (I met him, once, in the Piazza del Campo in Rome--this was during his first administration, in spring of 1996. I was playing guitar with my friend Andreas Hornsletten and he and a bunch of his advisors were walking across the piazza. So I yelled hello and we shook hands. If this were a debate, I'd say, "I know these people. I meet with them all the time."). They did get "Internets" right though.

I wonder how anyone could still be undecided. What, exactly, are they waiting to hear?

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Aussie Aussie Aussie Oy Oy Oy

Howard won. Also a good thing for Bush and the US as Latham had planned a little bellus interruptus.

Other good Bush news:
Saturday October 09, 2004--The latest Rasmussen Reports Presidential Tracking Poll shows President George W. Bush with 50% of the vote and Senator John Kerry with 46%. Today is the first time all year that either candidate has hit the 50% mark in our survey. [emphasis in the original]
Ok Bush is actually at 49.6% and Kerry at 45.9%. But hey, it's Rasmussen's poll and he can call it like he sees it. (h/t blogfather) Mmmm lunch.

On a side note Obama is outpolling Keyes 3-1 according Rasmussen. That's a bigger margin than the 70-30 outcome I had predicted to a friend of mine (alas twas an offline reference).

Other good Bush and America news:

Afghanistan completed their vote. There will probably be a run-off as not even Karzai is expected to get 50% of the vote...

Bush: spreading democracy, one invasion at a time. Though hopefully the rest will be via cultural invasion.


Post-Debate Thoughts

While I didn't liveblog the second debate (I'm in sunny KnoxVegas at my parents' this weekend and access is hit and miss), I did watch the debate.

Scoring it as a stand alone debate purely on substance, I think it was a slight Bush win. However, political debates are more than just substance and style matters and this time the style points go to Bush too. He was clearly much more relaxed and much more forecful in his responses and challenges. Much more in command.

I also think Bush was helped by the questioners many of whom had a, let's say "different" worldview than the typical debate moderator. For instance, I don't think I've ever heard a debate question prefaced with an acknowledgement that many think abortion is murder or a stem cell question that actually addressed both adult stem cells and the ethical issues. Now there were a number of questions that were rough on Bush too, the "name three mistakes" question comes to mind (which Kerry classily chose to help Bush identify his mistakes as opposed to enumerating three of his own), but the key is, unlike the first debate, the vast preponderance of the questions did not immediately put Bush on the defensive.

Also I think Gibson deserves a little recognition for going after both candidates on the illogic of their deficit reduction pledges. Attaboy Charlie.

Because of the mix of questions, Charlie's tough questioning, and the generally good performance put in by both sides (though I am planning on noting some of the difficulties with Kerry's war position) I think this will be one of my all time favorite debates.

Plus for the rest of the campaign, I'll be saying, "Need some wood?"


Friday, October 08, 2004


What you won't see at the debate

Reihan Salam has a funny rundown of this election cycle's third party candidates up at The New Republic Online. Registration, unfortunately, required. Here's my favorite part:

In watching the various minor-party presidential candidates, I thought to myself, "Which one is most likely to spark a non-violent conflagration of peace, joy, and ever-higher levels of Krishna consciousness?"

Alas, the most likely candidate for this task was absent. Dr. John Hagelin, the 2000 candidate of the Natural Law Party, may be the best minor party candidate to have come along in years--as a disciple of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, he certainly had a unique perspective on America's role in a psychically troubled galaxy. Sadly, Hagelin elected not to run this time around. Having decided that being president of the actual U.S. government is for the birds, he has instead become president of something called the "U.S. Peace Government," part of the Maharishi's "Global Country of World Peace." Indeed. Suffice to say, do not believe officers of the "U.S. Peace Government" if they demand that you pay them taxes, fines, or other fees, and run like the wind if officers of the "Federal Bureau of Peace Investigations" call you in for questioning. Nothing good can come of it.


Wednesday, October 06, 2004


Chicks Love Dick!

Continuing the theme of the VP debate, it seems that some women just swoon for Dick... Cheney. Or at least any women you meet wearing this shirt from this site. (h/t powerline)

Of course this is just a part of a larger phenomenon that brings together sex and politics in this election. There's Babes for Bush and there's Babes Against Bush. Of course, Wonkette (who Matt thinks is a babe in her own right) has already noted the opposing Bush Babe phenomenon.

Then there's the college humor online flash poll (definitely not work safe, but definitely worth a view) that John Kerry is leading. (Bush is leading in the Zogby poll? So what? Who's leading in the Booby poll?)

But what did you expect with a Bush and a Dick on one side and a man with hair like a pony on the other? We should've seen this coming when the real Dick (Gephardt) made an appearance in the Democratic primary.

Somehow this seems related. And it's for a good cause. Yeah. That's the ticket...(h/t wizbang)



Liked the VP debates a whole hell of a lot. I thought Edwards was tacky talking about Cheney's family, thought Cheney was pretty solid, but Edwards handed his ass too him on a platter a few times:

The vice president, I’m surprised to hear him talk about records. When he was one of 435 members of the United States House, he was one of 10 to vote against Head Start, one of four to vote against banning plastic weapons that can pass through metal detectors. He voted against the Department of Education. He voted against funding for Meals on Wheels for seniors. He voted against a holiday for Martin Luther King. He voted against a resolution calling for the release of Nelson Mandela in South Africa. It’s amazing to hear him criticizing either my record or John Kerry’s.

I think that's the money quote, as far as I'm concerned.

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Tuesday, October 05, 2004


Cheney Edwards Debate

I'm not liveblogging the debate as I missed a little bit of the beginning (went to dinner with Preethi). However, am I the only one thinking that Edwards is coming off badly?

Leave a comment if you agree or disagree.

Ok I can't watch and not live blog.

Cheney did a good job on the patriotism question - we're not questioning his patriotism, we're questioning his judgement. Cheney is also doing a good job of bringing up Kerry's record in the Senate and finally brought up Kerry's Gulf War I Vote.

Halliburton. DRINK!

Ifill's doing a much better job than Leher of asking questions that also put Edwards on the defensive. For instance, she just noted the France/Germany conundrum.

Cheney is taking apart Edwards again. Can we flip the ticket?

Edwards wants to implement all 9/11 commission recommendations. Grrr.

Zarqawi. DRINK!! Like 3 times. Halliburton!!! Drink!!!

This has been a very foreign policy focused debate for a debate that's supposed to discuss domestic and foreign policy issues.

Halliburton!!! DRINK!! 3 times. Now 4 times.

Like the reference to factcheck. Though the site appears to be overloaded. Wonder how that happened?

Power supply died. That's it.

Lights been on for a while and my laptop has more charge. Couldn't passup noting "as a prosecutor Kerry's put criminals behind crime..." I about lost my wine (yes, I am playing the drinking game).

Should also note that Edwards did better on domestic issues than he did on foreign issues.

If my officemate reads this post, Edwards is making the "No, you're the flip-flopper" argument that I said they were doing.

Closing statements:
Edwards is doing a personal history closing and claiming that Bush and Cheney are out of it (a recent theme). Emphasizing domestic issues.

Cheney reviewing history of the office and hinting at the great men/ great times meme. Emphasizing war on terror.

Preethi just noted that she likes Edwards more than Kerry, but still thinks Edwards pales in comparison to Cheney.

More detailed live blogging over at vodkapundit.

If you missed your chance to play the VP drinking game during the debate, here's the transcript.


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