Friday, November 30, 2007

Edwards: The Kossacks' Choice

I'm interested in this straw poll of DailyKos readers:
Edwards has been the resounding leader among this group for more than a year now. I'm wondering why. Is it because he's running to the left of the other viable candidates? Because he seems polished enough to actually win office? More generally, are the Kossacks more or less sophisticated/aware/strategic than early primary voters or major party insiders?

Also interesting in this straw poll is its sensitivity. Dodd had a huge surge last month when he was the only candidate from the Senate to actually, you know, use his power as a senator to rein in Bush. The rest keep talking about what they'll do once they're president, ignoring the fact that senators actually have a fair amount of power already. So the Kossacks noticed this and gave Dodd some support. Nice.

But now Obama is surging with this crowd. Why? Because of his stupid stances on Social Security or health care? That can't be it. Because he's done pretty well in the debates lately? Maybe they think he could actually win?

Also of note: Clinton is tied with Kucinich.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Quiz Time

Can you identify the source of each quote? You have to choose from Friedrich Nietzsche, Bill Clinton, Yoda, and Thom Yorke of Radiohead.

I got an 83.

Was I dreaming?

Or was there really a movie made in which Mel Gibson was banished from a small Australian town run on pig manure and led by Tina Turner?

Waiting on O'Reilly

Forgot about this one:
Here's, here's the bottom line on this for every American and everybody in the world, nobody knows for sure, all right? We don't know what he has. We think he has 8,500 liters of anthrax. But let's see. But there's a doubt on both sides. And I said on my program, if, if the Americans go in and overthrow Saddam Hussein and it's clean, he has nothing, I will apologize to the nation, and I will not trust the Bush Administration again, all right? But I'm giving my government the benefit of the doubt.
-Bill O'Reilly, 3/18/03

The Hunt for Red Ramadan

AP Headline: Iranian state TV claims Iran has launched new light submarine able to evade sonar detection

Color me skeptical. Yet I'm sure this story will be used to justify an American invasion of Iran, since we can't let rogue nations have super-lethal weapons. Sort of like those Iraqi aerial drones that could deliver anthrax to Western Europe and sarin to the United States, except that it turned out there was only one drone, and it was made by Air Hogs, and it wouldn't fly more than 30 feet away from the guy with the remote control. And then it turned out that it didn't even exist.

Republican CNN/YouTube Debate

Quick thoughts:
  • Huckabee is absolutely on fire. His answers were great. He really, really nailed the WWJD/death penalty one. Viewers considered Huckabee the winner walking away, and a Rasmussen survey shows him actually in the lead in Iowa.
  • Romney's answers were weak and off-putting. He had basically nailed the question as to whether the Bible was the word of God just fine, but then he seemed to feel that he hadn't said enough, and that made him mad, and he stammered something like, "Look, it's the fucking word of God, alright?" Most of his answers came out that way. And he looked like a putz on the gays in the military question. And McCain totally schooled him on torture.
  • Giuliani was okay. No crowning successes, few notable missteps.
  • McCain is so past tense in this contest. His willingness to condemn torture still distinguishes him among the crowd, which is far more a testament to how fucked up the crowd is than to how visionary McCain is. His little exchange with Paul, in which McCain said that the desire to withdraw from Iraq is the same sort of desire that lead to the rise of Hitler, was pathetic.
  • Ron Paul is whatever his crazy supporters think he is, whether it's an anti-war activist or a small government crusader or V. We've seen this before.
  • Tom Tancredo was given little opportunity to speak, but given how nuts everyone else sounded on immigration, he really didn't need to say much. I rather enjoyed (and agreed with) his Mission to Mars answer.
  • Fred Thompson had a few moments but was mostly pretty weak.
  • Duncan Hunter was... wait, how did he get in the room?
TPM has the highlight reel:

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Get this on the ballot now

A proposed constitutional amendment for Colorado, courtesy of ColoradoPols:
Shall Hillary Clinton be impeached, should she become President of the United States, for her authorizing the U.S. military, based on her "explicit assurances from the highest levels of government" to them, to use a "Superman" camera called Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar or Millimeter Wavelength Radar that can take pictures through the roof of our bedrooms and bathrooms, against Colorado homes in April of 1997, as revenge for her husband cheating on her, through an amendment to the Colorado Constitution?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Flu Mist

I'm not sure what's up with this new flu mist thing. My daughter and I got it on Tuesday. By Thursday I had a cold and she had a fever. I think they just gave us liquid flu.

The Bose-Einstein Turkey

The turkey was a success. The temperature in my backyard never dropped below about 25˚F, which was warm enough to keep the brine from freezing. So my turkey miraculously managed to stay below freezing all night long without freezing. It's like living in the future, baby.

Coated that bad boy with herb butter (sage, marjoram, thyme), stuffed it with onions, celery, and oranges, and cooked it for four hours at 350˚F. Came out awesome.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Overnight brining

No room in the fridge - the turkey's got to brine outdoors tonight. So 1.36 kg (approx. 23 moles) of salt mixed with 9 kg of water should bring that solution's boiling point down by about 9.5 degrees Celsius, if I've done my calculations right. That translates to roughly 15 F. The forecast for tonight is 12 F. So I'm pushing it. Hopefully, it's warm enough right next to my house to keep the brine from freezing over. We'll see.

Polls vs. Endorsements

I've been struck by the ongoing disparity between national polls and the polls from the early primary states with regards to the Republican presidential nomination. Just judging from the national polls, this contest looks like a walk for Giuliani. Early state contests like Iowa and New Hampshire however, have been leaning in Romney's favor for some time, which is why Giuliani may pull out of the first three primaries and caucuses and hope for a great Super Tuesday.

One of the CKNZ Posse sent me this link, which shows how members of Congress have endorsed in the presidential race so far. Elite endorsements, by the way, are considered a much better indicator of how a nomination will go than polls or money are. The MC endorsements aren't a perfect measure of all elite endorsements - candidates who are fellow members of Congress (notably John McCain) are doing disproportionately well here - but you still get a sense of what's going on.

Here's a chart comparing how the candidates are doing on average nationally, in New Hampshire, and among members of Congress (as measured by the percent of Republican MCs who have made an endorsement). Polling averages come from
It's interesting how the New Hampshire primary voters seem closer to the endorsements than to the national polls, particularly in the case of Romney and Giuliani. If Romney gets the nomination, it will probably be treated by the media as a come-from-behind Cinderella story, but those who knew which surveys to look at could have seen it coming for months.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Top Ten Star Trek Villains

Wired has put together a little photo essay of the ten cheesiest Star Trek villains from the original series. Great stuff in here.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Huckabee closes the deal

This is a slam dunk:

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Sinatra Group

Eases the pain...

Fuck CNN

Seriously. This is pathetic.

Reporters versus regular folk

Matthew Yglesias makes some great observations about the different types of questions during the Dem debate. Reporters were asking about politics, trying to evoke divisions among the candidates or to catch individual candidates in inconsistencies. Audience members asked about policies, often informed by experiences in their own lives. A glaring example was when an audience member asked what qualities candidates would look for in Supreme Court nominees, and the reporter changed the question to make it just about Roe v. Wade.

Yeah, I found Blitzer pretty annoying, but the whole distinction here is one of priorities. News reporters want fireworks, which make good copy. Professionally, they don't care who wins either the debate or the nomination. Audience members want to know which candidate is closer to their priorities and which could win, which is how they make voting decisions.

More on the Blitzer style from Digby.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Important Dem Debate Moment

One thing I haven't seen mentioned in the commentary on tonight's Democratic presidential candidate debate in Nevada is the responses to the constitution vs. national security question. It was a bit silly for Blitzer to compress a complex issue like Pakistan into such a simplistic dichotomous question, but fine, there it is. Bill Richardson said that our values are more important than our security - a bold and important statement, although he didn't exactly nail it. Most other candidates said either that security comes first or that you can't separate the two.

Chris Dodd, who did pretty well during the debate, really bullshitted on this particular answer. He said that the presidential oath of office requires presidents to do two things: protect the Constitution and protect America against enemies foreign and domestic. So what is the actual presidential oath?
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.
Maybe Dodd made an honest mistake, confusing the presidential oath with the one he's taken as a member of Congress. But this is important: nowhere in the president's job description does it say that it's his or her job to keep us safe. Bush seems to think it is, and that he's supposed to ignore parts of the constitution that jeopardize our safety. But that's not the way it's written. We're not supposed to be a nation of gutless turds. Our ideals are supposed to matter.

Huckabee's on fire!

According to ARG, Huckabee's now in a statistical tie with Romney in Iowa.  Giuliani, McCain, et al are low and dropping.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What would Alannis say?

Grover Norquist is one of my true conservative heroes, mainly because he's so over the top about everything. He either has no sense of irony or his irony is so well developed that it cannot be perceived by mortal men. His latest cause is no disappointment:
Grover Norquist, one of America’s most influential Republican activists, aims to turn the question of dynasty into a campaign issue.
“It will be ridiculous to have Mr President and Madam President in the White House,” he said. “We’re the United States of America. How can we say to President Mubarak [of Egypt], ‘You can’t hand off the presidency to your son, it’s got to be your wife’ or, ‘Hey Syria and North Korea, you’ve got to knock this stuff off and be like us’.”
Norquist has commissioned lawyers to draw up a constitutional amendment that would ban family members from succeeding one another to elected and appointed office. If passed, it would not apply to the Clintons as a Bush was elected in between them. But Norquist believes that it will alert voters to the perils of dynasty. “Americans don’t like to go back,” he said.
Good thing we have self-made men like President Bush to fill in the inter-Clinton spaces. And his father. And his grandfather...

h/t to Digby.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Indian Thriller

I honestly don't know what to say.

Victor Wooten

Hey, this guy doesn't suck.

Interesting Poll

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows that, by a margin of 50-35, Americans prefer that a Democrat, rather than a Republican, be the next president. However, when you use the names of the two national poll leaders, Americans will vote for Hillary Clinton over Rudy Giuliani by a margin of 46-45.

Not good, people!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Liberals and Taxes

Well, the residents of Denver just voted affirmatively on nine different ballot initiatives, all of which were tax increases or bond projects. Mayor Hickenlooper very visibly pushed for all of them, and people followed his lead, and his approval ratings will probably go even higher.

Conservatives often stereotype liberals as actually enjoying taxation. But is there some truth to this? It's one thing to tolerate a level of taxation, but to actually vote to tax yourself? Why would people do this?

I can't be the first person to think along these lines, but maybe it has something to do with the fact that liberals actually believe in government. As a result, they believe they are buying something when they are taxed. In Denver's case, they were buying some civic building maintenance, new libraries, and recreation centers. And it's no secret that buying something can make you feel good. I felt really good the day I bought my house. I still feel good about it, although I take no pleasure in paying the mortgage. Maybe it's the same with taxes: liberals feel good about buying government. Not government for the sake of government, but particular policies they think will help.

Conservatives, of course, distrust government and feel that their tax dollars will either be misspent or spent inefficiently. Therefore when the government takes that money from them, it's a theft, not a purchase.

I'm all outta bubblegum

If you haven't seen it, run, don't walk, to see John Carpenter's "They Live" (1988). I first saw this movie about ten years ago, but it's so much better than I remembered. I had no idea it was so chock full of political messages.

The movie purports to be a low-budget sci-fi thriller, but it's actually one of the most nakedly and delightfully Marxist movies I've ever seen. The movie's hero, Nada, played by former wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper, is an itinerant laborer who lives with other poor workers in a shantytown in downtown LA. He believes in America. He believes if he works hard and plays by the rules, he will be rewarded.

His worldview changes abruptly when he stumbles across a pair of magic sunglasses that allow him to see life as it truly is: Aliens are living among us. They are the wealthy elite. We perceive them as human because they are brainwashing us through our televisions. But they are, in fact, interplanetary capitalists bent on enslaving us and keeping us blind to their rule. They communicate with each other through their Rolex watches. They transmit subliminal messages to us ("Obey," "Marry and reproduce," etc.) through billboards and magazines. A televised speech delivered by an alien politician is taken almost directly from Ronald Reagan quotes.

But the best part is the role that false consciousness plays. The aliens are relatively few in number, but there are lots of poor people who do not want to hear that our society is a false one, and they eagerly buy into the artifice. What's more, they'll fight to defend it. A lengthy fight scene between Nada and his friend Frank (Keith David) seemed gratuitous upon first viewing, but then it made sense. It showed how tenaciously people will resist class consciousness and hold onto the lie.

Another scene that once seemed silly but no longer does was the final one, in which our hero literally stops the rich from screwing the poor.

A lot of these themes are explored in "The Matrix," but somehow "They Live" may even be more effective because it doesn't take itself quite so seriously. And the one-liners are awesome.

Monday, November 5, 2007


Possibly the best Daily Show moment ever:

Sunday, November 4, 2007


Can you beat my score of 36 on Rolling Stone's almost impossible rock quiz?

I was drinking acid all along

Well, I'm ruined. The cute, affordable cognacs I've been buying myself each year for my birthday, as it turns out, are crap. Flavorless liquid razor blades. I discovered this yesterday when my dad bought me a bottle of Martell's Cordon Bleu.

It's everything I hoped a cognac could be. Smooth going down, and a deep, rich flavor that's almost overwhelming in its complexity. Just the aroma knocks my socks off. There are so many layers to it, including a hint of something sweet. Vanilla? Maple? It's hard to nail it down. I'd better go drink some more to check.

This sucks. I can't go back, and I can't afford to keep buying this stuff. I hope my dad will take responsibility for pushing this stuff on me and keep buying me more of it.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Dirty Harry in the Bible

I showed "Dirty Harry" in class this week. I was surprised how dark and nasty it was. I spent a lot of time yesterday trying to convince my students that it was a deeply conservative movie. It painted society as sinful and home to a constant barrage of robberies and sex crimes. The politicians and police are impotent because they are hamstrung by the Bill of Rights. The only one who can save us from the criminals are vigilantes like Harry who can rise above the rule of law to provide justice. It's essentially the same message offered by Col. Nathan Jessup (Jack Nicholson) in "A Few Good Men," except he was the villain in that movie. It's also essentially the same message offered by Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld in discussing torture. I'm not sure if my message got through.

Anyway, we were looking at some stills from "Dirty Harry," and a lot of students were noticing some heavy religious symbolism. There's a great scene where the killer, Scorpio, pins Harry up against a giant cross and beats him nearly to death. At another point, Harry is shown in front of a giant red, white, and blue sign that says "Jesus Saves." But we were focusing on the scene at the end of the movie when Harry throws away his badge. One of my students asked the significance of Harry's badge number, 2211. I hadn't thought about it. Then she asked if it might reference a Bible verse. So we looked up Psalm 22:11:
Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.
That can't be a coincidence.