Archive for May, 2005

Jokes Wanted

Tuesday, May 24th, 2005

Can someone please come up with a joke involving Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai? I know the punch-line, but I don’t know the set-up.

The punch-line is “Poppy-cock”, a reference to the struggling nation’s main cash crop. The set-up eludes me. As does the reason that I want such a joke.

On Moral Values

Monday, May 23rd, 2005

A google news search for Dean’s Sunday Meet the Press appearance shows a weird tilt in news items. Here are the news sourches for the front page: (Right-wing)
MSNBC (they, naturally, have the trascript.)
Kansas City Star
Men’s News Daily (Right-wing)
GOP-USA (I believe this is where Jeff Gannon worked, when all is said and done. Right wing.)
The Moderate Voice. (“Centrist”, an annoying designation meaning always calibrating your politics to a supposed “center”.)
Washington Times (Right-wing, though it’s an interesting article.)
Media Matters for America. (After 4 pages, we have a left-wing source.)
Red State (Right wing)

At any rate… Evidentally Dean defended his “moral values”, and disconcertingly wrapped up into that phrase religious bonafides against a charge that his supporters are, on the whole, more secular and less church-going than the public at large. A charge which, by the way, is largely true. For his part, I have no clue the depth of Dean’s religious convictions. A Democrat can get farther in the Party Primaries than a Republican — who, by necessity, must profess Jesus as the greatest Philosopher.

Bush recently made a political appearance / commencement speech at Calvin College in a college town in Michigan. Prompting some pundits to ask “Why’d he choose that college?” — a bit more liberal than Bush’s bread and butter — affiliated with Calvinism, best known to many as half the duo of the comic strip “Calvin and Hobbes” — is Bush trying to reach out beyond ultra-conservative Evangelicals in his Christian Crusade?

The answer to that question is: yes. And Michigan is home to a currently poll-weary Democratic Governor. And a vulnerable Democratic Senator. And a razor-thin Democratic to Kerry vote. And a rust-beltian economic / cultural mix. And those mid-west snow-belt states are key to Republican’s hopes of Cultural Expansion (the “Coastal Elites” badge is a bit scarred by the existence of that trio of Canadian-border hugging northern tier states — Illinois appears to be too far gone, but Minnesota and Michigan aren’t quiet as shaky).

So, you rebrand Christianity to rebrand Michigan. Funny that.

Not Unrelated

Monday, May 23rd, 2005

Item #1:

“I wish it had never happened,” Jones said.

Like many things about Jones, freedom fries lend themselves to caricature. They are an emotional response to a complex problem, easily reduced to a ticker line on CNN.

But Jones now says we went to war “with no justification.” He has challenged the Bush administration, quizzing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other presidential advisers in public hearings. He has lined the hallway outside his office with “the faces of the fallen.”

Jones represents the state’s most military congressional district, running from Camp Lejeune along the coast through Cherry Point, up to the Outer Banks.

“If we were given misinformation intentionally by people in this administration, to commit the authority to send boys, and in some instances girls, to go into Iraq, that is wrong,” Jones said. “Congress must be told the truth.”

Jones is no favorite of the White House these days, or of his fellow Republicans, particularly those in leadership roles. The same impulse that prompted him to get mad at the French now makes Jones criticize the war and, lately, House ethics rules. Jones accepts that his emotions cost him influence, but he insists he can live with the consequences.

Item #2: Fox News Network Ratings, the offical television cable network of “Freedom Fries”,

Oct. 2004: 1,074,000
Nov. 2004: 891,000
Dec. 2004: 568,000
Jan. 2005: 564,000
Feb. 2005: 520,000
Mar. 2005: 498,000
Apr. 2005: 445,000


Saturday, May 21st, 2005

Okay. A word on this pair of entries in a bit.

Red State Democratic Governors: Janet Napolitano Arizona, Kathleen Sebelius Kansas, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco Louisiana, Brian Schweitzer Montana, William Richardson New Mexico, Michael F. Easley North Carolina, Brad Henry Oklahoma, Philip N. Bredesen Tennessee, Mark R. Warner Virginia, Joe Manchin West Virginia, David D. Freudenthal Wyoming

Blue State Republican Governors: Arnold Schwarzenegger California, M. Jodi Rell Connecticut, Linda Lingle Hawaii, Robert L. Ehrlich Maryland, W. Mitt Romney Massachusetts, Timothy Pawlenty Minnesota, George E. Pataki New York, Donald L. Carcieri Rhode Island, James H. Douglas Vermont

New England’s slate of governors is strikingly Republican-filled, despite the fact that the region is now solidly Democratic in its presidential voting. (And mind you, woe to the party whose base in the Northeast.) The state of Massachusetts has not elected a Democratic governor since Michael Dukakis’s woefully pulled the plug on his political career.

But I should note a few things regarding the culture wars. Connecticut is barreling its way toward adopting language for same sex couples to if not have marriage rights, have the bastard watered-down step-son the “civil union”. And that case is closed in Vermont (the state that now looks like the most liberal in the nation– also puzzlingly enough the most rural). You almost suspect that the governor of Massachussets would go for such a thing, better to mollify himself to fight for the holy tax-cut, were it not for his eyeing a presidential bid.

I have read that the governor of West Virginia may as well be Zell Miller is his party labeling. I suspect the governor of Louisiania may as well be John Beruex. (This list is quite comical in its battle against Lincoln… but all Southern States look a lot like that.)

The situation in Kansas, and how they managed to elect a Democratic governor (and how they are likely to re-elect him) was touched upon in the book What’s the Matter With Kansas. The dominant party — the Republican Party– is split, the right wing (and may I add poorer) who keep battling Evolution and cultural issues of the type are despised by the Moderate (may I add, richer) Wing of the party. The split has not disappeared — hence a moderate-liberal abortion-supporting capital punishment-opposing Democrat is probably going to win re-election.

Oklahoma elected its Democrat as a result of the issue of cock fighting. To each state their own.

I might add that as a whole, the approval ratings of the Republican governors are falling and getting into the negative terrority, and the approval ratings are generally positive. Or so I’ve read. Schwarzenegger is the most famous and spectacular example. (On the other hand, Granholm — who was elected to much acclaim and is sort of the counter-Democratic example to change the “born in the USA” rule for running for the Presidency — has taken a ratings beating herownself.) [a quick note, if I recall right, Survey USA’s polls have a Republican bias. Not dramatically, but go ahead and edge a point either way.)

As for the Senate seats: I’m a bit puzzled by how North Dakota sends two democrats — one moderate, one amongst its most liberals — to the Senate. Arkansas seems to owe its Senate delegation indirectly to Clinton — winning in 1998; the other coming through with a sex-(and may I add: hypocrisy) scandal hitting the incumbant (the one victory the Democratic Party received in 2002). West Virginia simply has two old guys. Pennsylvania will likely shed its way back to “purple” status when Bob Casey defeats Rick Santorum (a project of the 1994 election cycle) next year. (I might add that the party delegations of the Senate show something Grover Norquist and the like know well in mapping strategy: if you go to the 50-50 election of 2000 or the 51-49 election of 2004, the States are divided 30-20. Hence, I believe we oughta either abolish the Senate or abolish the Electoral College, since they’re kind of redundant in their “check and balances” role… but pretend like I didn’t say that. For the moment, just consider that in the troubles coming ahead in the Senate’s upcoming vote to override the Senate Parlimentarian’s “What, are you kidding?” decision on the matter of whether filibustering judges is an unconstitutional practice.)

That’s the One!

Saturday, May 21st, 2005

“Going to see the new Star Trek — I mean Star Wars movie?”

“Maybe. I never saw the last two and I’m not really a fan, but this one has been getting good reviews.”

(‘Not really a fan’ is a bit of an understatement. I do know that I’ve seen Star Wars — the first one — a few times over a decade ago, but I have no memory whatsoever of having seen Return of the Jedi or Empire Strikes Back. Not to say I haven’t seen them in my childhood, but I don’t remember. All of this is moot, since the guy I was conversing with obviously isn’t much of a fan either, hence the ‘Trek’ gaffe.)

“Episode One was shown the other day on tv.”

“Right. I saw that.” (Briefly flicked past it — was on last week Saturday or Sunday afternoon. I have seen some the movie, overviewing nephews and niece, and it looks pretty bad.)

“You know who I liked — that Jar Jar Binks. He cracked me up.”

“Really? Jar Jar Binks really isn’t that popular.”

“Yeah, I read that. But I just laughed. I love that voice and that slapstick!”

There you go, fanboys. A Jar Jar Binks fan. You didn’t think such a thing existed, did you?

Quotations of note

Thursday, May 19th, 2005

“What the Democrats are doing is “the equivalent of Adolf Hitler in 1942 saying, ‘I’m in Paris. How dare you invade me. How dare you bomb my city? It’s mine.’ This is no more the rule of the senate than it was the rule of the senate before not to filibuster.” — Rick Santorum

The comments around the blogosphere tend toward the outrage shown by some, including Senator Rick Santorum, about the moveon contest, which included a couple entries about Adolf Hitler.

As for the matter in question about the looming “Nuclear Option” — read through this. Comparable to the second lowest part of the Franklin Roosevelt Administration (the lowest being the Internment of Japanese citizens) — his Court Packing Scheme. I must point out that at least in Roosevelt’s case, his hubris was borne out from just having come out of an electoral victory where he lost all of two states (Maine and Vermont) — quite a popular figure (and quite an unpopular Supreme Court, I may add). At the moment, Congressional Opinion Polls show Congress at the lowest level of popular esteem in over a decade. The president’s approval rating comes in in the low 40s — and the election he’s coming out of was won by a hair.

On the other hand, perhaps hubris isn’t the issue here. Everyone who thinks for even a second knows that pendulums swing around in politics, and the goal here is simply to get as much as you can when you are in power: judges are appointed for life, and they absolutely poitively need to put in place, by hook and by crook, for when your political ideology loses favour.

Radio host Glen Beck: Hang on, let me just tell you what I’m thinking. I’m thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I’m wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it. No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out — is this wrong? I stopped wearing my What Would Jesus — band — Do, and I’ve lost all sense of right and wrong now. I used to be able to say, “Yeah, I’d kill Michael Moore,” and then I’d see the little band: What Would Jesus Do? And then I’d realize, “Oh, you wouldn’t kill Michael Moore. Or at least you wouldn’t choke him to death.” And you know, well, I’m not sure.

And thus to paraphrase Fox News after a low-level scandal involving Randi Rhodes: Clear Channel Apology: Is it enough, or is it time to get tough?

(Incidentally, I just googled Glen Beck, and came up with this funny letter to the editor to an Idaho newspaper:

I read with interest your letter that was published in Wednesday’s paper decrying liberal media bias. The only part that anyone who reads, listens to radio or watches television could agree with is, “We, the people, deserve non-biased reporting in all our news.” We certainly do not have non-biased reporting.
I am trying to decide, while living in southeast Idaho, where the liberal media push is coming from. […]

The Liberal Idaho Media. What are you gonna do?