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Thursday, September 30, 2004

Does this remind you of anyone? 

"All charming people have something to conceal, usually their total dependence on the appreciation of others."

-Cyril Connolly


-Ziggy Stardust  11:11 EST | |

George Will speaks the truth 

in the first two paragraphs:
Tonight's debate will be a duel between two delusional optimists. It pits a man who regards recent events in Iraq as "steady progress" against a man who, while accusing the president of unrealism, says that when he becomes president, "the world" -- a geographical expression, not a political entity -- will help heal Iraq.

If ever an administration, in a reelection season properly dominated by a single issue of the administration's choosing, has earned an electoral rebuke, it is this one. And if ever there has been a challenger who, together with his party, seemed perfectly designed to dissuade the electorate from administering such a rebuke, it is this one.
And he rightfully says of debates:
parallel news conferences that we laughably call "debates."

Presidential debates are to real debates as processed cheese is to cheese. They are preceded by elaborate negotiations to prevent the unseemly outbreak of anything debate-like, such as a sustained development or critique of arguments.

-Daddy Brooklyn  09:55 EST | |

Let's Let the World Decide 

Apparently, Kerry is a huge favorite everywhere in the world except in the back-assward center of our great land. If we're gonna do things that piss off the whole world, maybe they should decide who our leader should be.

Yeah, you need to be a "member" of WaPo. Deal with it.

-Matt  06:18 EST | |

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Should the U.S. Decide to Legalize Torture without Debate? 

Ummm... no.

Please read this post about the House's attempt to legalize "extraordinary rendition."

-Ziggy Stardust  10:00 EST | |

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Documents Reveal Gaps in
Bush's Service as President
 


"Factual data...indicates that Bush took little or no action on issues as widely varied as the stalled economy, increasing violence in post-war Iraq, and the lagging public education system," Rocklin said. "The newsprint documents also reveal huge disparities between the ways Bush claimed to have served Medicare patients, and what he actually did."
...
"We're fairly confident that these so-called 'news stories' will turn out to be partisan smear tactics," DeLay said. "I wouldn't be surprised if all 11 billion of these words turn out to be forgeries. For thousands of reporters, editors, and government officials to claim that Bush compromised the security and fiscal health of this nation is not merely anti-American, but also dangerous."

-Daddy Brooklyn  23:45 EST | |

Who wants another post on polling? 

Well, it isn't a post so much as a link. But the link leads you to a site that is much more informative than anything I could write. That's what non-expert blogs are for, right?

I give to you: Mystery Pollster.

Via Crooked Timber.

-Ziggy Stardust  11:41 EST | |

Monday, September 27, 2004

Accurate polling is difficult (maybe impossible) 

A little bit ago Ziggy linked to the 20 Questions a Journalist Should Ask About Poll Results.

For a few days, I've been thinking about the difficulties of polling. Polling, in case you've been living in a cave, relies on statistical sampling to make inferences about larger populations and to determine how credible those inferences are. If you could take a hat, a very big hat, and in that hat put approximately 150 million pieces of paper that have the votes of every voter in the country written on them (Kerry, Bush, Nader, Peroutka, or that guy the Libertarians nominated) then you would have have to examine a surprisingly small amount of them--10,000 would definitely be overkill--to determine the winner of the election with near certainty1.

So why is polling so hard? The major problem is that pollsters aren't surveying voters when they contact people, they're surveying some other unknown group of people. Usually the people they survey don't have caller ID, will talk to a pollster on the phone, and they actually have a land line; in other words: the technologically phobic, the lonely, and not most of my friends. If you don't think the fact that pollsters don't just reach real voters matters, recall the often repeated fact that people over sixty-five account for only one in six Americans over 18 but they are 25% of the voting population. If a pollster surveys the population uniformly, and if the opinions of seniors differ significantly from those under sixty-five, then it's pretty clear that the poll will be off. Essentially, every time you poll a non-voter, you're possibly introducing bias into your poll.

In statistics parlance, when you're sampling you're using an estimator, which like its name implies, estimates the value of some othery quantity. Eventually, if your sample is big enough, an estimator converges to its expected value (if the expected value exists, and it may not exist, but that's a minor point). If the expected value of the estimator doesn't equal the true value of what you're estimating, then the estimator is biased. If you're doing polling for a presidential election, and you just sample the general public who answer their phones, then your estimator is biased.

The other measure used to determine the fitness of an estimator is the variance. The higher the variance, the more widely the estimator will likely vary before it settles down to its expected value. When you have a high variance estimator, you have to collect relatively more data to be confident in its value.

To find an unbiased estimator, you have to either try to survey a representative sample of voters ("likely voters"3) or you have to weight the responses of those polled according to the likelihood they'll vote. These two methods essentially accomplish the same thing. I don't know much about the specifics of polling--specifically how pollsters reduce estimator bias--because the methodology of many private outfits is proprietary and I haven't worked on any campaigns. I think I'm still qualified to point out the difficulties pollsters4 face.

I read an article somewhere about a polling organization that asks people how likley they are to vote on a scale of 1-10. If they answer 9 or 10 then their responses are recorded. It doesn't seem like this would yield a low bias estimator since those one through eights could be the disaffected who rarely vote, but are really pissed now. Or some people who have no intention of voting are embarrassed and lie about it. I think it makes more sense to break up poll respondents into groups using data available a beforehand that the respondent doesn't need to provide.

Once you determine your groups, which must be collectively exhaustive and mutually exclusive, you have to decided how to weight each group. Of course the weights should vary directly with group size and the likelihood that the group will vote. As an example, you could break the population into three (it would be useful to use more groups in real life) groups: over-65, under-65 voted in 2000, and under-65 didn't vote in 2000, and then determine weights for each of them. If you're still reading, some problems should be obvious by now. The determination of the groups is fairly subjective, thought not arbitrary, as there are good statistical ways to tell which traits may be significant for determining voter likelihood. You also have to estimate the weights. What were good weights last election may not be good weights now (when the future of the world is hanging in the balance) given that the political scene is arguably very different. The process of grouping and weighting seems promising, but there are so many reasonable ways to do it, that no polls are going to agree. And this is probably the best way to poll.

I don't really know why I wrote all of this. I don't have anything profound to say. I just think that accurate polling is well nigh impossible and I'm irritated with all of the attention paid to polling numbers, especially given that the citizenry, and let's throw the press in there too, are ill-equipped to properly interpret polls. People would be better served if the press focussed on real news5.

1The near certainty comes from the CLT and the SLLN, which are both fascinating and remarkably robust.
2A minor problem is that when you introduce all of this weighting you'll surely increase the variance of your estimator, but this is overcome by taking more data. This is expensive, but not impossible. A bigger problem is that if you don't choose the weights carefully you could end up adding even more bias.
3I don't know much abotu the methodology, but unlikely voters still vote, and if their preferences differ significantly from "likely voters", then that's enough to skew a poll.
4Is there a synonym for pollsters?
5By real news I don't mean two hacks yelling at eachother on cable TV.

-Daddy Brooklyn  01:15 EST | |

Sunday, September 26, 2004

20 questions every reporter (and citizen) should ask about a poll 

Read the article here.

One of the many reasons that introductory statistics/probability should be taught in high school, especially instead of trig.


Via Kos.

-Ziggy Stardust  18:17 EST | |

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Electronic Voting Machines 

...So easy to hack, even a chimp can do it

A clever PR trick by the folks at Black Box Voting. It does well to highlite some critical flaws in the voting machine that will be used in 30 states this November.

As we've been hearing for several months, the administrative functions on these machines can be accessed by anyone holding a universal administrator password. The password and information on how to get inside can be found on websites like this. Once inside, you can do several things, including modify the log file that tracks everything that happens on the machine, and input an alternate vote tally that can be read by the machine as genuine.

All this without a paper copy of the voters' will.

Why isn't this a big deal? The FEC should be all over it.

-Ben  13:50 EST | |

Friday, September 24, 2004

Rumsfeld vs. Feldman (and Bush vs. Kerry) 

Rumsfeld on the wisdom of holding elections that millions of Iraqis won't be able to participate in:
Let's say you tried to have an election, and you could have it in three-quarters or four-fifths of the country, but some places you couldn't because the violence was too great. Well, so be it. Nothing's perfect in life.
Noah Feldman on the same subject:
Without Sunni participation, the election results would be worse than useless. To understand why, one must bear in mind that the purpose of the election is not just to choose a legitimate government but also to elect leaders who can negotiate a new and permanent Iraqi constitution. Although such a constitution would guarantee basic rights, it would be first and foremost a power-sharing deal reached among different factions of Iraqis - Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni.

Thus if the Sunnis were excluded because of security problems, or if they boycotted, they would not be able to elect leaders empowered to negotiate on their behalf, and the resulting constitutional deal would be rejected by the great majority of Sunnis as illegitimate.
Which man sounds like he's thought this through? These two positions are a typical example of the conservative vs. liberal debate of foreign policy that the public hears in the country today (of course there are more rigorous arguments, but they don't make the news). Let's compare Bush and Kerry's sparring statements on Iraq from a few days ago. Kerry said:
Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place in hell. But that was not, in itself, a reason to go to war. The satisfaction we take in his downfall does not hide this fact: We have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure.
And in response Bush said, "He's saying he prefers the stability of a dictatorship to the hope and security of democracy." (How in the world could Kerry's statement be interpreted that way? As an aside, nascent democratic states, especially those without functioning civil institutions, have never been full of hope, security, or safety.)

Rumsfeld and Bush (the whole administration) are winning the war for public opinion with pat statements that are divorced from reality. It's much easier for people--by people I mean Americans who sit around saying, "So which ones are the Sunni again?"--to latch onto the substance free drivel that Bush spews at every campaign stop (really, read the text of his campaign speeches) than to confront the scary reality about Iraq.

-Daddy Brooklyn  08:43 EST | |

The Lies of GWB 

E.J. Dionne (I love E.J. Dionne) catalogs some of Bush's campaign trail distortions. How many of the people at Bush's rallies read the Washington Post?

-Daddy Brooklyn  01:41 EST | |

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Juan Cole makes the argument that Kerry should make 

From Juan Cole:

If America were Iraq, What would it be Like?

President Bush said Tuesday that the Iraqis are refuting the pessimists and implied that things are improving in that country.

What would America look like if it were in Iraq's current situation? The population of the US is over 11 times that of Iraq, so a lot of statistics would have to be multiplied by that number.

Thus, violence killed 300 Iraqis last week, the equivalent proportionately of 3,300 Americans. What if 3,300 Americans had died in car bombings, grenade and rocket attacks, machine gun spray, and aerial bombardment in the last week? That is a number greater than the deaths on September 11, and if America were Iraq, it would be an ongoing, weekly or monthly toll.

And what if those deaths occurred all over the country, including in the capital of Washington, DC, but mainly above the Mason Dixon line, in Boston, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco?

What if the grounds of the White House and the government buildings near the Mall were constantly taking mortar fire? What if almost nobody in the State Department at Foggy Bottom, the White House, or the Pentagon dared venture out of their buildings, and considered it dangerous to go over to Crystal City or Alexandria?

What if all the reporters for all the major television and print media were trapped in five-star hotels in Washington, DC and New York, unable to move more than a few blocks safely, and dependent on stringers to know what was happening in Oklahoma City and St. Louis? What if the only time they ventured into the Midwest was if they could be embedded in Army or National Guard units?

There are estimated to be some 25,000 guerrillas in Iraq engaged in concerted acts of violence. What if there were private armies totalling 275,000 men, armed with machine guns, assault rifles (legal again!), rocket-propelled grenades, and mortar launchers, hiding out in dangerous urban areas of cities all over the country? What if they completely controlled Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Denver and Omaha, such that local police and Federal troops could not go into those cities?

What if, during the past year, the Secretary of State (Aqilah Hashemi), the President (Izzedine Salim), and the Attorney General (Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim) had all been assassinated?

What if all the cities in the US were wracked by a crime wave, with thousands of murders, kidnappings, burglaries, and carjackings in every major city every year?

What if the Air Force routinely (I mean daily or weekly) bombed Billings, Montana, Flint, Michigan, Watts in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Anacostia in Washington, DC, and other urban areas, attempting to target "safe houses" of "criminal gangs", but inevitably killing a lot of children and little old ladies?

What if, from time to time, the US Army besieged Virginia Beach, killing hundreds of armed members of the Christian Soldiers? What if entire platoons of the Christian Soldiers militia holed up in Arlington National Cemetery, and were bombarded by US Air Force warplanes daily, destroying thousands of graves and even pulverizing the Vietnam Memorial over on the Mall? What if the National Council of Churches had to call for a popular march of thousands of believers to converge on the National Cathedral to stop the US Army from demolishing it to get at a rogue band of the Timothy McVeigh Memorial Brigades?

What if there were virtually no commercial air traffic in the country? What if many roads were highly dangerous, especially Interstate 95 from Richmond to Washington, DC, and I-95 and I-91 up to Boston? If you got on I-95 anywhere along that over 500-mile stretch, you would risk being carjacked, kidnapped, or having your car sprayed with machine gun fire.

What if no one had electricity for much more than 10 hours a day, and often less? What if it went off at unpredictable times, causing factories to grind to a halt and air conditioning to fail in the middle of the summer in Houston and Miami? What if the Alaska pipeline were bombed and disabled at least monthly? What if unemployment hovered around 40%?

What if veterans of militia actions at Ruby Ridge and the Oklahoma City bombing were brought in to run the government on the theory that you need a tough guy in these times of crisis?

What if municipal elections were cancelled and cliques close to the new "president" quietly installed in the statehouses as "governors?" What if several of these governors (especially of Montana and Wyoming) were assassinated soon after taking office or resigned when their children were taken hostage by guerrillas?

What if the leader of the European Union maintained that the citizens of the United States are, under these conditions, refuting pessimism and that freedom and democracy are just around the corner?

posted by Juan @ 9/22/2004 06:53:26 AM

-Ziggy Stardust  14:17 EST | |

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

From my hometown newspaper 

Which is more unfathomable: the stupidity of the person writing this letter or the fact that it got published?
POLITICAL ALIGNMENTS

Democratic ticket follows the path of socialism

I agree with Mary Ciletti who wrote that no one should steal her Kerry/Edwards campaign signs because they were her personal property, and that it is freedom of speech ("Stealing candidate signs robs voters of political voice," Letters, Sept. 19). The people who took her signs were in the wrong.

The irony of her letter is that she brought up the former Soviet Union and North Korea. I say this because, according to the news report, "Where they stand," in the Sept. 19 Gazette, Sens. John Kerry and John Edwards stand for social Marxism, the redistribution of wealth and government’s centralized control of our lives--just like in North Korea and the former Soviet Union.

Wayne Allies

Fountain

-Daddy Brooklyn  23:14 EST | |

Excuse me? 

"We know that dictators are quick to choose aggression, while free nations strive to resolve differences in peace."

-President Bush, September 21 during his address to the U.N.

Hmmm...

Fred Kaplan's on the case.

-Ziggy Stardust  15:16 EST | |

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Cheap Thrills 

If Bush ran against Jesus 

Monday, September 20, 2004

Update 

Wasn't the topic of the assault rifle ban a discussion here recently? I hope you'll appreciate this spin.

My favorite:
When we enacted this ban in 1994, it was an important step to protect our children. Now that our children are grown up and off at college, it's not such a pressing issue.

-Lucky  17:52 EST | |

A telling anecdote 

From Kerry's speech at NYU today, via his campaign site:

In the dark days of the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy sent former Secretary of State Dean Acheson to Europe to build support. Acheson explained the situation to French President de Gaulle. Then he offered to show him highly classified satellite photos, as proof. De Gaulle waved the photos away, saying: “The word of the President of the United States is good enough for me."

-Ziggy Stardust  15:12 EST | |

Everything We Hold Dear 

The liberals are gunning for our bibles and letting married men (you know, to each other) roam free, says the RNC. Thanks to World O'Crap.

Update: As usual, fafblog said it better.

-Matt  13:06 EST | |

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Team America: World Police 

New movie from the creators of South Park. Looks like really, really cheesey satire.

-Ben  19:55 EST | |

Media coverage this election night 

Quick question...

How will the media be covering results this year on election night?

We've all heard the old complaints that releasing numbers from the east can effect voter turnout in the west.

Then, given what happened in 2000 (called the election for Gore, then called it for Bush, then for Gore, and on and on until the military had to step in and declare Marshall law over the Supreme Court, or something like that), I am trying to figure out what the plans are for this year.

Will there be less calling of the election based on exit polls, a strategy that would be monstrously flawed in what is expected to be such a close election? Will there be less speculation and commenting and calling of states with only 1% of the vote in? Will the media simply report the results as they come in and allow the election to play out on it's own?

My guess would be that there will be little change, but does anyone have a line on this?

-Ben  11:21 EST | |

Resembling North Korea in the House 


Since The Economist charges for most of their content, I just decided to go ahead and steal about half of this article. Try not to hear a slimy British accent while you read it.
THIS week observers from India, South Africa, the Philippines and elsewhere arrived--one hopes with a due sense of irony--to check up on the American election. In testing the operations of the country's democracy, they should perhaps look not only at particular flaws in the system, but at the system itself, especially the egregious practice of gerrymandering electoral districts for partisan gain. The contests for Senate seats (and the presidency) are vigorous. But if democracy means multi-party competition at the grass roots, America is not a full democracy in elections to the House of Representatives.

Only 29 of 435 House seats are listed as competitive by Congressional Quarterly. That compares with an average of 50 in 2000-02, and more than 100 in 1992-96. Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia has given up calling his list of close races the "nifty fifty" and now names it the "dirty thirty". Charlie Cook, a political analyst, lists 33 (the dots on our map above) but puts the really close races at just 13. The current Republican majority is 22.

The sheer uncompetitiveness of most House races takes one's breath away. In 2002, four out of five of them were won by more than 20 points. The average margin was a stunning two to one, meaning some races had even bigger margins. Last time, 200 races had margins of 40 points of more and 80 were uncontested. So far this year, the uncontested figure is 68. In 2002, just four incumbents lost to challengers at the polls (another four lost in primaries). North Korea might be proud of the incumbent re-election rate: 99%. More than nine in ten Americans live in districts that are, in practice, one-party monopolies...

...Democrats face a pro-Republican bias in congressional voting. The Democratic base lies in big cities. There, they pile up huge majorities. Republicans are more evenly spread out in suburbs, small towns and the countryside. According to Gary Jacobson of the University of California, San Diego, every district in which the presidential candidate piled up 80% or more of the vote in 2000 was Democratic. Almost twice as many of those districts where the candidate won with less than 60% of the vote were Republican ones.

This geography is a big reason why Republicans control the House of Representatives, even when Democrats have won more votes. By gerrymandering to cram Democrats into a smaller number of super-safe seats while spreading Republicans into a larger number of "designer districts" which they win by 55%-60%, Republicans have consolidated this edge. According to Mr Jacobson, the number of safe Republican seats rose by 56 in 1992-2002, while the number of safe Democratic ones rose by only 16.

-Daddy Brooklyn  11:04 EST | |

Could it come down to Colorado? 

ARG has a website giving its polling data for each state and the electoral outcome of its data. Today it has OH, MO and FL going to Bush and PA going to Kerry. Thus, with CO also in Bush's column, Bush wins the Electoral College 278-260. But, if CO goes to Kerry, you get the 269-269 tie that throws everything to the House of Representatives. God, I hope Kerry doesn't pull his money from Colorado. Go Colorado!

-Ziggy Stardust  09:47 EST | |

Saturday, September 18, 2004

the difference between republicans and democrats 

So Ben posted this article below today, but I thought I'd just re-emphasize it.

And, yes, all the blogs that lots of people read have already linked to this article by Michael Tomasky in The American Prospect. But I thought I'd highlight this choice morsel:


In a rational world (speaking of things liberals want to believe in!), they
would win campaigns on the issues. And in fact they did win two, but that was
only when they had an unusually articulate and charismatic candidate named
Clinton (and when it was possible to win with 43 percent of the vote, as Clinton
did in 1992, or when the Hobbesians nominate a septuagenarian hatchet man, as
they did in 1996).

But the world is the world. Republicans understand the world, and
Democrats do not. Republicans know that voters will respond emotionally to
character questions, and they know that the media will lap them up like a
thirsty dog. Democrats keep thinking that voters will do something as improbably
nutritional as study a health care plan (as, surely, a scattered few do), and
that the media will show themselves eager to write articles and broadcast
discussion segments about health care plans. Both assumptions are folly.


-Ziggy Stardust  23:49 EST | |

The SUV/Truck/Obese-personal-vehicle becomes self-parody 

What is 22 feet long, 9 feet high, weighs 13 tons, and gets 7 mpg?



The International 7300 CXT

It can be yours today for the low, low price of $93,000! I wonder if you can write that off if you purchase the beast for your small business.

This thing could take awhile to catch on in the 'burbs. A 9 foot vehicle won't clear the McDonald's drive-in. At least not until they start building new McDonald's to accommodate. I wonder what Hummer will come out with in response.

I can think of a few people who might have use for this, like farm workers who use their truck as a personal vehicle. But even they might be better off just to buy a combine and drive that around.

Seriously. I'm not a raging environmentalist, but I think we have a responsibility to at least try to be reasonable. If this keeps up, people will soon be driving those big ass dump trucks they have at mining sites.

-Ben  23:30 EST | |

Back in service 

Sorry about that. The blog was down for a couple of days due to a bug in the script.

We're back up and running now though, so stay tuned for the usual disportion.

-Ben  22:05 EST | |

NYC v. DC: Is there really even a question to be asked? 

So I interview for a law firm in DC yesterday (a fantastic place that I'd actually really like to work for--more than any place I've interviewed with in New York). But I just can't get over the fact that I'd have to move to DC. I am currently sitting in a nice if really busy cafe in Adams Morgan, there's free internet, good coffee and lots of students and yuppies that I so clearly exemplify. It is undoubtedly a cool place, but it isn't New York. Have I become (been for a long time) such a snob that no place but New York is good enough? I think that's probably true. But I also think it's justified. DC's metro sucks, the cabs are expensive, and everything is far enough away that you can't get around by just walking. Which means you really do need a car in this city.

But DC's where the work is, both politics and law, and so I keep thinking that DC can't be that bad. And yet... and yet I can't think of anything besides work where DC is even equal to the City.

Can anyone make a case for DC?

-Ziggy Stardust  14:22 EST | |

Crazy democrat, you can't win on issues 

Friday, September 17, 2004

A tie for New Yorker cartoon of the week 

My Mind Is Unchanged, In Spite of Myself 

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The mendacity of these people 

A gloomy National Intelligence Estimate "outlines three possibilities for Iraq through the end of 2005, with the worst case being developments that could lead to civil war, the officials said. The most favorable outcome described is an Iraq whose stability would remain tenuous in political, economic and security terms." And somehow Scott McClellan says with a straight face:
"You know, every step of the way in Iraq there have been pessimists and hand-wringers who said it can't be done. And every step of the way, the Iraqi leadership and the Iraqi people have proven them wrong because they are determined to have a free and peaceful future."
I'd like to point out that they "pessimists" and "hand-wringers"--this group includes authors in obscure (that's a joke) periodicals like Foreign Affairs and The Atlantic and people in the State Department, the military, and the intelligence community--have been proven right every step of the way. Many prominent pre-war doomsayers predicted the chaos that would ensue in Iraq. They were right. The Administration was wrong. I can't believe that McClellan can get up in public and talk like Iraq is a burgeoning success story when more troops are dying now than before the "transfer of sovereignty", huge numbers of civilians are being killed every week, very little reconstruction money is being spent because there's no security, and the U.S. is ceding larger parts of Iraq to insurgents all the time. By what measures have pessimists been proven wrong? I hate the Bush Administration.

-Daddy Brooklyn  23:26 EST | |

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Could they write like that in the 70's? 

One of these was typed in Word. The other was typed on an IBM Selectric Composer. Can you tell the difference?

Note that both have the variable spacing you've been hearing so much about.

All that's really missing is the superscript "th." Looking at the Selectric's manual, note that it would not have been difficult for a skilled operator to create superscript characters.

The story is out, though. There's really no getting the word out that the documents were not faked (which begs the question: what is the logical next step for the Kerry campaign? comment please) This is how it works: 1) Call your buddies at the PR firm behind the Swift Boat Liars scandal. 2)find a flaw, no matter how miniscule, in the other guy's accusations. 3) Get the right-wing scream machine into full gear, saying things like "One of these documents has been proven fake, therefore all of them must be fake and if the documents are fake, it proves that all the scandalous left-wing accusations against the president must be false. These fake documents have been peddled by big media, and that proves that they are a right wing attack machine controlled by the left. 4) Scream so loudly about it that all other news stories are drowned out and the voices of those who would refute your position can not be heard.

Oh, and the image on the left was typed in Microsoft word. The one on the right was typed on a Selectric.

-Ben  14:05 EST | |

God did what? 

Jerry Boykin,
who once recounted the time he chased down a Muslim Somali warlord who was bragging that the Americans would not capture him because Allah would protect him. "My God is bigger than his God. I knew my God was a real God, and his was an idol,"
appealed to Occam's Razor when he said of Bush:
"Why is this man in the White House? The majority of America did not vote for him. He's in the White House because God put him there for a time such as this."
I thought a narrow majority in the Supreme Court put him there.

-Daddy Brooklyn  13:24 EST | |

Can someone get this ad made and on TV before november? 

[Man holding grapefruit]

This is a grapefruit. A ball of uranium this size could destroy Ney York, or any other city in the U.S.

Its easy to hide a grapefruit. It could be anywhere. In anyone of the thousands of shipping containers that come into this country everyday.

George W. Bush could have spent your money to inspect everyone of those shipping containers top to bottom. But he didn't. He spent your money in Iraq.

We don't inspect 95% of the shipping containers that come in. That's a lot of grapefruit.

Feeling Safer?

[footage of mushroom cloud, mccain/feingold jive].

-paul  10:41 EST | |

Sunday, September 12, 2004

A critique of Bush from a Reagan conservative 

A good article from Salon.com. I hate Bush so much.

-Daddy Brooklyn  14:41 EST | |

Who's winning the War on Terrorism? 

(I can't bring myself to type "Terror".) A very good read from Juan Cole:
From the point of view of al-Qaeda, the Muslim world can and should be united into a single country. They believe that it once had this political unity, under the early caliphs...

...al-Qaeda hoped to draw the US into a debilitating guerrilla war in Afghanistan... The US cleverly outfoxed al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, using air power and local Afghan allies (the Northern Alliance) to destroy the Taliban without many American boots on the ground.

Ironically, however, the Bush administration then went on to invade Iraq for no good reason, where Americans faced the kind of wearing guerrilla war they had avoided in Afghanistan.

Al-Qaeda has succeeded in several of its main goals. It had been trying to convince Muslims that the United States wanted to invade Muslim lands, humiliate Muslim men, and rape Muslim women. Most Muslims found this charge hard to accept. The Bush administration's Iraq invasion, along with the Abu Ghuraib prison torture scandal, was perceived by many Muslims to validate Bin Laden's wisdom and foresightedness.

After the Iraq War, Bin Laden is more popular than George W. Bush even in a significantly secular Muslim country such as Turkey. This is a bizarre finding, a weird turn of events. Turks didn't start out with such an attitude. It grew up in reaction against US policies.

It remains to be seen whether the US will be forced out of Iraq the way it was forced out of Iran in 1979. If so, as al-Zawahiri says, that will be a huge victory. A recent opinion poll did find that over 80 percent of Iraqis want an Islamic state. If Iraq goes Islamist, that will be the biggest victory the movement has had since the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan. An Islamist Iraq might well be able ultimately to form a joint state with Syria, starting the process of the formation of the Islamic superstate of which Bin Laden dreams...

Bin Laden's dream of a united Muslim state under a revived caliphate may well be impossible to accomplish. But with the secular Baath gone, it could be one step closer to reality. If you add to the equation the generalized hatred for US policies (both against the Palestinians and in Iraq) among Muslims, that is a major step forward for al-Qaeda. In Saudi Arabia, al-Qaeda has emerged as a dissident political party. Before it had just been a small group of Bin Laden's personal acolytes in Afghanistan and a handful of other countries.

Although the United States and its Pakistani ally have captured significant numbers of al-Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a whole new generation of angry young Muslim men has been produced. Al-Qaeda has moved from being a concrete cell-based terrorist organization to being an ideal and a model, for small local groups in Casablanca, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and elsewhere.

The US is not winning the war on terror. Al-Qaeda also has by no means won. But across a whole range of objectives, al-Qaeda has accomplished more of its goals than the US has of its.

-Daddy Brooklyn  14:41 EST | |

I love powerdat! 

I have decided that I won't work for the Kerry campaign. Besides, why would I pass up on the wonderful world of powerdat, where I get to spend my days on such challenging tasks as manually copying figures from excel into oracle because they don't have good enough coders. But check your e-mail.

On a completely unrelated topic, my bloging will be sparse as I will be working 12 hour days 7 days a week for the next couple of months, because now that I know I love powerdat, I can't get enough of it.


-paul  11:33 EST | |

Saturday, September 11, 2004

If you haven't already read this article 

Do. (It is who Paul has to convince to vote for Kerry).

And if you don't yet subscribe to the New Yorker... well, what the hell does it have to do to convince you?

I'm looking at you, Matt--a picture of you, but you nonetheless.


-Ziggy Stardust  23:08 EST | |

Friday, September 10, 2004

The Hottest Bush 

I never thought I'd say this, since I find both of our great President's daughter's attractive, but their cousin is way hotter, in my opinion.

-Matt  23:37 EST | |

I don't wanna grow up... 

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Fake National Guard Docs? 

Did anyone else watch the feature story on 60 Minutes this Wednesday? They had some new--and incriminating--documents, but the documents really didn't cover any charges that hand't already been levied (and proven). Now it looks like the documents may be fakes. I looked at them online and they definitely don't look like they're from the 1970s.

What's terrible is that there is something to the Bush/National Guard Story. Strings were pulled to get him in, he took pilot training at great taxpayer expense, and then more or less didn't show up for a good part of his obligations. If these documents are proven to be fakes, it's going to cast doubt on the whole story which is backed by testimony from living people and documents that are most certainly genuine.

P.S. There were advanced typesetting systems (like LaTeX) based on mainframe computers in the 70s that could have made documents like the ones in question, but a National Guard officer would've almost certainly used a typewriter.

-Daddy Brooklyn  23:37 EST | |

Ben got snookered by those fucking liars in the white house 

Nick Confessore at TAPPED:

NOT EVEN A GOOD LIAR. You know things have reached a low point when the
White House doesn't even attempt to make its dissembling sensical. Here's an
administration spokesman explaining to the Washington Post why they altered the verbatim transcript of Dick Cheney's loathsome remarks to the effect that electing John Kerry will encourage future terrorist attacks: In a change that highlighted the sensitivity of Cheney's
statement, the White House yesterday released a revised version of the
transcript of his remarks. The official transcript, posted on the White House
Web site Tuesday afternoon and e-mailed to reporters, said: "(I)t's absolutely
essential that eight weeks from today, on November 2nd, we make the right
choice. Because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we'll get
hit again."

In a version released Tuesday to reporters traveling with
Cheney, however, the period at the end of "hit again" was removed and replaced
with a comma, which linked his blunter statement to his standard stump language
expressing concern that future attacks would be treated as "just criminal acts,
and that we're not really at war."

Yesterday, the transcript on the White House Web site was altered to make Cheney's remarks one sentence. Cheney's White House spokesman, Kevin Kellems, issued a statement saying that the first official transcript "contained a typographical error" and was an "interim
draft." "These types of corrections are not uncommon in the transcription of
verbal statements," Kellems said. "The final transcript accurately reflects the
statement as delivered, which is clear when watching video of the event."This
seems to be the exact opposite of the truth; the original transcript had Cheney
saying what everyone reported him to say. The changed transcript has been scrubbed. Kevin Kellems is lying to the Post, and he knows that the Post knows he lying. That takes a lot of guts
and a total lack of shame.


-Ziggy Stardust  19:00 EST | |

W suffering from dementia? 

From this month's Atlantic:
James Fallows's description of John Kerry's debating skills ("When George Meets John," July/August Atlantic) was interesting, but what was most remarkable was Fallows's documentation of President Bush's mostly overlooked changes over the past decade—specifically, "the striking decline in his sentence-by-sentence speaking skills." Fallows points to "speculations that there must be some organic basis for the President's peculiar mode of speech—a learning disability, a reading problem, dyslexia or some other disorder," but correctly concludes, "The main problem with these theories is that through his forties Bush was perfectly articulate."

I, too, felt that something organic was wrong with President Bush, most probably dyslexia. But I was unaware of what Fallows pointed out so clearly: that Bush's problems have been developing slowly, and that just a decade ago he was an articulate debater, "artful indeed in steering questions and challenges to his desired subjects," who "did not pause before forcing out big words, as he so often does now, or invent mangled new ones." Consider, in contrast, the present: "the informal Q&As he has tried to avoid," "Bush's recent faltering performances," "his unfortunate puzzled-chimp expression when trying to answer questions," "his stalling, defensive pose when put on the spot," "speaking more slowly and less gracefully."

Not being a professional medical researcher and clinician, Fallows cannot be faulted for not putting two and two together. But he was 100 percent correct in suggesting that Bush's problem cannot be "a learning disability, a reading problem, [or] dyslexia," because patients with those problems have always had them. Slowly developing cognitive deficits, as demonstrated so clearly by the President, can represent only one diagnosis, and that is "presenile dementia"! Presenile dementia is best described to nonmedical persons as a fairly typical Alzheimer's situation that develops significantly earlier in life, well before what is usually considered old age. It runs about the same course as typical senile dementias, such as classical Alzheimer's—to incapacitation and, eventually, death, as with President Ronald Reagan, but at a relatively earlier age. President Bush's "mangled" words are a demonstration of what physicians call "confabulation," and are almost specific to the diagnosis of a true dementia. Bush should immediately be given the advantage of a considered professional diagnosis, and started on drugs that offer the possibility of retarding the slow but inexorable course of the disease.

Joseph M. Price, M.D.
Carsonville, Mich.

-Daddy Brooklyn  17:32 EST | |

Maybe god loves me afterall 

A Florida judge has issued a preliminary injunction preventing Nadar from being on the ballot. Check out the full story here.

-Ziggy Stardust  17:18 EST | |

Bringing in a consultant 

My friend Craig Winters--who worked for Gary Hart before selling out to law school--is a rabid partisan, but he's our rabid partisan. Check out his thoughts on the Presidential race below:

Reprinted with permission of the author.

Well, I've played the state parlor game the way Mark has, endlessly, in a
former life. The Florida-Iowa-Pennsylvania for Kerry scenario is the best, most
likely, in my opinion. It's not so much as to what the current polls say;
there's a lot of things that impact on election day--in a close election, it's
really like predicting the weather. Too many variables.

So if it's like predicting the weather, why, then, Florida, Iowa, Pennsylvania for Kerry?

The relative stagnation in the polls at the national level cover up relatively big
in-state changes. So until the moment of voting, things are really fluid.
Point is: 50k-100k votes out of the woodwork for a well-organized campaign is
doable. 250k in a big state isn't out of the question. And undecided voters
respond, at the last minute, to localized context cues--lawn signs, local
political activity, single issues.

For Iowa, the Democratic base there is as charged as ever; they've never had the kind of money poured into the Iowa caucuses as this January. It's like electricity running around. The GOP, while being a real presence, don't have the ground troops. TV types scoff at a field
operation, but this is more than that--this is 150k+ ppl who participated in the
caucuses and they are out there buzzing about the election. It's the kind of
credibility with the undecides that can't be bought. Also, the caucus television
binge hit a lot more folks than the caucus-goers. I am, of course, talking about
latent pro-Kerry trends; if it's close, I say Kerry takes it.

The situation for PA is a bit more complicated. We obviously have a state party energized and led by a popular D governor; but, as in the case of AZ, NC, Indiana, etc., a Dem
governor is no help in a number of states. But Rendell is something
special; he's moderate in some senses, but he's a former big-city mayor who's a
more than a touch populist; when you have break-the-mold kind of leaders like
that, any good campaigner will tell you it's +2, maybe +3 points for his party,
if the national candidate looks similar. In Indiana, Republican/Unenrolled
voters who vote for Dem Gov Kernan understand that kernan isn't a "typical"
D--you wouldn't say such about Rendell. So, this, along with latent Democratic
voting from 2000--and the closeness of the election and ferocity of the
competition--tips a toss-up into Kerry, so says I.

As to my home state, Florida, no one has any fucking clue what's going to happen there. Sure, Mel Martinez, helps the R's, and so does Gov. Bush. But the underlying trend that's
accelerating right now is next-generation Cuban-Ameican voting in the Democratic
Party. The head of the Cuban-American National Foundation (the premiere
exile group) just joined the Kerry campaign, and the best fieldworkers in the
country are there. And I think you may see a significant increase in black
turnout. And this is, basically, a slightly Democratic state, as evidenced by
possibly the worst field campaign in state history (Gore 2000) and their ability
to STILL WIN the popular vote there, minus 30k disenfranchised minorities.

Florida is electoral ground zero. I think Democrats get +1 for fervor on top of
+1 in latent Democratic support in a close one.

Every other state is a toss-up or has underlying trends moving away from us. These three are winnable. Kerry's people know this. These three states are getting the best ppl, so says my
campaign friends.

If Kerry can keep it close nationally, these three break for us. Cheer up. Kerry bombs debates = we lose. New Dark Age beings.

-Craig


-Ziggy Stardust  17:03 EST | |

AK-47: Not just for potheads anymore! 

In his continued effort to do whatever possible to piss me off, President AWOL DID NOT SUPPORT ENDING THIS BAN!!!

Thankfully, this inane law is finished. While I know lots of the readers of this blog are not exactly "pro-gun", you should be happy to see this ban lifted.

If gun control is your mission this law didn't really stop what it was intended to stop: high-powered, rapid fire weapons. It simply acted as a psychological band-aid to an embedded societal problem. The menacing looking Ak-47 is illegal to hunt with in Colorado because it doesn't have the stopping power to kill a deer or a turkey, it is almost useless at any range but "close", and is only famous the world over because (a) it looks tough (b) the commies made millions of them and (c) sand won't cause it to jam.

On the other hand, the Browning semi-auto deer rifle can hit targets accurately from hundreds of yards away, and can continue on through glass, even low-level "bullet proof" glass.

Maybe if we didn't make society so dehumanizing, then people won't feel the need to shoot a bunch of people for no reason. If our society were less racist and classist, then a violent life in the drug trade wouldn't appeal to so many young people.

I'll get off my soapbox now.

-paul  13:21 EST | |

Why Bush will probably win 

No, this is not some parody of a naive Bush supporter. This letter was in the Gazette Telegraph, the local paper where I grew up.
EXIT STRATEGY

Kerry has no plan for bringing troops home

In response to Erin Wymer’s "amazement" that John Kerry isn’t absolutely "trouncing" on President Bush’s "miscalculation" of the post-war scenario in Iraq, I believe I can enlighten her a bit ("Bush’s ‘miscalculation’ is costing lives," Letters, Sept. 4).

Kerry’s failure to "trounce" on Bush should be an indication to her (and all registered voters) that Kerry has no better plan than the one already in place. Kerry voted to send our troops to Iraq, then voted against funding them once they arrived there. So far we have lost 1,000 brave troops in this war. How many more would we have lost if Congress had gone along with Kerry’s plan to not send money, supplies and weapons to fight the war? Going out on a limb here, I think probably a lot more than 1,000.

Kerry claims he would have led a smarter and more sensitive war on terrorism. I understand his "smarter" war on terrorism would have included waiting for France and Germany to give us their approval to defend our liberty and that of the Iraqis. I’m confused, though, on what he means by fighting a more sensitive war. Does that mean, as Sen. Zell Miller so aptly put it during the Republican convention, that our troops would only fire "spitballs" at those who are trying to kill us?

I have been in the military for 21 years and I don’t want a commander in chief more worried about fighting a sensitive war than winning a war. Bush will bring our troops home when we have been victorious and not a day sooner. That’s how we in the military want it. Otherwise, the 1,000 brave soldiers who died would have died in vain.

Randy Robson

Colorado Springs

-Daddy Brooklyn  09:43 EST | |

A new strategy in Afghanistan 

Call them names and they'll come out and fight: "The Taliban are women! They're bitches! If they were real men, they'd stop hiding under their burkas and they'd come out and fight!"

-Daddy Brooklyn  07:57 EST | |

Cheney misquoted 

To his credit, VP Cheney has been quoted out of context on the "vote for terror" comment.

Take this:
Because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we'll get hit again, that we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States.
vs. this:
Because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we'll get hit again, that we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States, and that we'll fall back into the pre-9/11 mind set if you will, that in fact these terrorist attacks are just criminal acts, and that we're not really at war. I think that would be a terrible mistake for us.
I'll give him this. I guess he is saying that if Kerry wins, we'll go back to treating terrorism as a law enforcement matter, not as grounds for war.

Trouble is, his claims are baseless. As Matthew Yglesias observes:
This whole debate over whether or not we should treat terrorism as a purely law enforcement matter is just something the Republicans made up one day. Before 9-11 there weren't any prominent Republicans arguing that we needed a more military response to al-Qaeda...The only way to make any sense out of this pseudo-debate is if we treat we're "really at war" with al-Qaeda to mean something like: "since we're really at war with al-Qaeda is follows that our counterterrorism strategy should involve fighting a lot of conventional wars, so we'd better fight a conventional war with Iraq since that's the most plausible candidate for a conventional war even though it has nothing to do with al-Qaeda." There's a kind of logic to that claim, but it's not a very reasonable one.

The fact is that both parties agree that, on a day-to-day basis, counterterrorism will mostly involve law enforcement and intelligence. Both parties also agree that, sometimes, military action may be needed. The parties don't even really disagree as to when military action is needed. Instead, the Republicans persist in pretending that the Iraq War was about fighting al-Qaeda, while Democratic Iraq War supporters and Iraq War opponents both agree that it was about something else.
End note: Matthew Yglesias sucks. Dude's like 22 and already a well respected, well published writer.

-Ben  03:18 EST | |

Liberal media strikes again... 

Ho, snap!

Think back to, what was it now...March? The White House pushed a huge paper dump on the press corps containing all of President Bush's military records, with the assurance that these would clear up any questions regarding his National Guard service during the Vietnam War.

Maybe the communications office expected that with so much data, the public would be overwhelmed and simply forget about any controversy. If this was the case, they were wrong. The press is coming back at this thing, after having some time to analyze some 400 pages of records. Salon recaps all of the recent findings here, It's well worth a read. Most significant is that the skullduggery goes far beyond the simple dereliction of duty that was previously suspected.

See also this CBS News story, this Boston Globe article, Nicholas Kristof's NYT column from yesterday, and the AWOL Project, a site with some thorough research on 43's mischief, drawing on both the documents made available by the White House and Air Force regulations from 1968 to 1973.

I'd like if this election can move out of the 60's and 70's and on to things like the economy not keeping up with job growth(last month:144,000::needed:~150,000) and the recent rise in Medicare premiums(only $11.60/mo, but still the biggest hike in the history of the program), but at the very least maybe now both candidates will receive a thorough thrashing of their war records.

-Ben  02:54 EST | |

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Bad hurricane! Stay out of Brooklyn. 

Pain by the numbers 

The people who account for loss by corporations would be well served to take a mid-level microeconomics class.

I didn't get a chance to comment on how the RIAA accounts for there many supposed problems, but one thing they used to do (not sure if it's still the case) to compute their loss from the p2p menace was this: (downloaded songs) x (average price of a song) = loss.

As the onion classically quipped "Area Man Takes Free Thing he Doesn't want". I may or may not have downloaded a Capitan and Teneal song that I am willing to pay exactly $0 for.

Starbucks corporate loss prevention operated the same way; They would take loss x retail price. Many starbucks employees give their friends free or extra-deluxe drinks that they would not be willing to pay for.

This highly paid numbers crunchers fail, or are paid to fail to realize that willing to take is not willing to pay.

-paul  13:53 EST | |

Electing your next door neighbor 

Pandagon has it exactly right.

Oh, and if you're not reading Jesse and Ezra regularly, you should.

-Ziggy Stardust  01:32 EST | |

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Nostalgia... 

At least one reader of this blog will be happy to know that an old fave' of ours ranked number one in a highly respected Slate test.

I would love to know the order in which they tasted. I have to imagine that it's difficult to be objective about half-shot number 11 after the first ten. And the "final round" must be a joke itself. That being said, I agree with some of their ratings so maybe it worked. One thing is clear, next time we are all together I think it's our duty to find out for ourselves.

Side note: bloggin is so much nicer with a windows machine that works with the text editors, rather than having to type in the actual HTML. But don't let it go to your head...

-Lucky  23:26 EST | |

Last time I ever write a fan letter... 

Several weeks ago, I wrote Ann Coulter and complimented her on her well-thought-out columns. I confessed that I was a little embarrassed by the fanboy-ishness of the endeavors, and asked her if she was born a man. I have not heard back from her. This confirms my suspicion. Note the similarity between "Ann" and "Dan".

I wrote an e-mail to the makers of "W" ketchup [google ad: you don't support the democrats, so why support their ketchup] Their web page tried to make it sound as if they were a nonpartisan food-jobber, and that the "W" stood for "Washington". My e-mail's subject was "what a great idea", and I said I was eager to see them fail to recoup their start-up capital, and be forced to buy another brand of ketchup with liberal-loving food stamps. I concluded by asking if they would send me some free ketchup. They also have not replied.

Is it just me, or are these people callously insensitive to their public?

-paul  17:00 EST | |

Remember Orinn Hatch?  

Well, I do. I have a personal grudge against Hatch, as he was one of the people who spearheaded a fillabuster that stalled and ultimately undid Jimmy Carter's efforts to legalize/decriminalize marijuana at the federal level.

Well, he supports incest, child rape, and slavery. How, you ask? By supporting and claiming friends among a sect known as the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints. Their is a great piece about this perverse cult of hillbillies in WAPO today.

Maybe I should host a politcal show like "Inside the Actor's Studio" where I conclude by asking "If there's a God, and He throws you out of Heaven, what would you like to say?"

-paul  11:27 EST | |

Monday, September 06, 2004

Scary Shit  

Thanks for nothing, 4th estate. Ever hear of the RICO suit brought against Bush et al? Of Course not. I hadn't seen quite a bit of this stuff. It's worth a look. From slashdot.

-paul  23:22 EST | |

Back my play 

I may be condemning myself to a particular hell with an action I am considering taking.

I may quit my job and become a full-time campaign coordinator for the Kerry campaign. My fear is this: in addition to taking a $600/month pay-cut, I may become a political pariah, and wreck my future dreams of being a republican politician. While I feel that now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country, I am not completely unselfish, and don't want to have to deal with "young republicans for truth" during my 2024 presidential bid. One of my local friends says I should just "come out" and give up on the illusion of being a republican. However, I still am an advocate of the right of private citizens to own tanks and surface-to-air missiles, as well as pro-life in most cases, and since I am cheap and want to avoid buying wedding gifts, anti-gay marriage.

Now that I am at the end of this post, I realize that asking this audience for advice on this topic is like asking a priest if I should get baptized. My question is, then, should I work for Kerry, and when I am like Cain cast out to Nod and marked as fallen, can you mail me your uneaten bread crusts?

Also, should I post this on another blog? Is this off-topic for "ustoo"?

-paul  13:56 EST | |

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Pro-choice Giuliani will have a Catholic hospital named after him 

From the Times:
Like all Catholic medical institutions, it does not provide abortions, contraception or other procedures that violate Catholic teaching.

"If you would name a center after somebody, certainly that would qualify as an honor," said the Rev. Frank Pavone, a priest who lives in Staten Island and runs the national anti-abortion campaign Priests for Life. Father Pavone called the naming "troublesome," saying, "It certainly isn't something I would do if I were in that position."

He said that Republicans who support abortion rights should be treated the same as Democrats who hold similar views, including some who have been denied communion. Mr. Giuliani is a Republican.
But they're not.

-Daddy Brooklyn  14:40 EST | |

Saturday, September 04, 2004

CU:27::CSU:24 

But you know, it's just not the same without those post-game pictures of Brad Van Pelt crying.

-Ben  23:58 EST | |

Yes, I can do this all day. 

It's more fun than sudying. And I bet Ben appreciates it. Take our 11 swings states: FL, IA, MN, MO, NV, NH, NM, OH, PA, WV, and WI. Assume that NH and NM go to Kerry and WV and NV go to Bush. This is likely to happen and getting rid of the small states simplifies things. Here are all of the minimal ways for Kerry to win the election (by minimal I mean that in all of these outcomes, if a D states goes R then Kerry loses...he obviously wins with all D's, so there's no reason to list it).
FL IA MN MO OH PA WI
D-- D-- D-- D-- R-- R-- R
D-- D-- R-- R-- D-- R-- R
D-- R-- D-- R-- D-- R-- R
D-- R-- R-- D-- D-- R-- R
D-- D-- R-- R-- R-- D-- R
D-- R-- D-- R-- R-- D-- R
D-- R-- R-- D-- R-- D-- R
D-- R-- R-- R-- D-- D-- R
R-- D-- D-- R-- D-- D-- R
R-- D-- R-- D-- D-- D-- R
R-- R-- D-- D-- D-- D-- R
D-- D-- D-- R-- R-- R-- D
D-- D-- R-- D-- R-- R-- D
D-- R-- D-- D-- R-- R-- D
D-- R-- R-- R-- D-- R-- D
R-- D-- D-- D-- D-- R-- D
D-- R-- R-- R-- R-- D-- D
R-- D-- D-- D-- R-- D-- D
R-- D-- R-- R-- D-- D-- D
R-- R-- D-- R-- D-- D-- D
R-- R-- R-- D-- D-- D-- D

-Daddy Brooklyn  17:13 EST | |

Where is Osama Bin Laden? 

Serously, haven't heard the name a lot lately.

A google news search turns up one shady rumor of his capture about four weeks ago, then a lot of stories about "Osama Bin Laden's driver" and little else.

Why so quiet, media?

-Ben  16:08 EST | |

Who's confused about record sales? 

Maybe the RIAA is.

According to this, BMI announced record breaking profits last year.

Huh? But I thought music piracy was killing the music industry.

This article has some interesting tidbits, including the fact that US domestic record sales were up 10% last year, and that the RIAA only tracks shipments, not actual sales, in recording their numbers.

This means that as CD sellers change their stocking standards to keep fewer units inventoried (as many retailers are doing with many products in today's just in time world), the RIAA sees a sharp drop off in sales. So, I guess in a few years, when that balances out, the RIAA can declare victory over online piracy, right?

For awhile, I was against online music sharing. And I still have some qualms about sharing entire albums. But if I want to send a song to a friend to show off how badass some new artist is, who is loosing? If my friend likes the artist, they might be encouraged to go out and buy the album. Then the artist and the record company will get theirs and they should have no reason to complain.

Also, there are options available now (iTunes, Rhapsody) that are superior to kazaa, gnutella and the other slow, spyware-ridden peer2peer networks, at a price that is reasonable enough that I am willing to pay to avoid the hassles of p2p downloading.

The point is, I don't really understand why the RIAA is so aggressively pursuing lawsuits against music sharers and coaxing congress into passing new legislation against online file sharing (and, as I understand it, going against years of case law in support of fair use) when the numbers don't appear to show any real impact.

-Ben  14:52 EST | |

LAX explosions? 

News is breaking that there have been at least two explosions at LAX. The airport has been shut down. No one has it online yet.

1240 EST: Ok, now they aren't explosions, but "incidents." No planes are being allowed to depart the airport but arrivals are still landing.

1309 EST: It looks like two seperate incidents happened within a few minutes of each other. 1) A flashlight with corroded batteries inside exploded, injuring as many as seven people. 2) A man jumped or tried to jump past the security checkpoint at the terminal.

-Ben  13:27 EST | |

Survey says 

Time for some post convention handicapping. I looked at the Tradesports state-by-state odds and decided that swing state are states where Kerry has a 35%-65% chance of winning. Those states are: FL, IA, MN, MO, NV, NH, NM, OH, PA, WV, and WI. If you limit yourself to these 11 swing states, then Kerry has 207 electoral votes and Bush has 206.

I plugged these swing states and Kerry's odds of winning them into my comptuer program and it spat out 41% as Kerry's probability of winning the election. Not very encouraging indeed.

Why the drop in Kerry's chances? The gamblers on Tradesports are only giving Kerry a 38% at winning either Florida or Ohio and a 39% chance of winning in Missouri. I would hope the true odds are better, but maybe that's just wishful thinking.

UPDATE: I just re-read this post and it was confusing, so I'm going to clarify.

If the election were held today, it's very likely that Kerry would win PA, NH, and MN. It's also very likely that Bush would win OH, WV, and MO**. The only states left are FL, IA, NV, NM, and WI. Under these assumptions, for Kerry to win, he must win FL and one of the remaining states. Since it appears that Bush is doing so much better in FL* it looks pretty bad for Kerry.

If Kerry wins OH, PA, and NH but not FL, then Kerry needs to either a) win WI or b) win two out of three of IA, NV, and NM.

*According to a Floridan we have visiting, Mel Martinez's victory will really help Bush. Though on the bright side, a lot of people who have never voted in the past might vote for Kerry and currently these people aren't thought of as "likely voters", which skews polling statistics.

-Daddy Brooklyn  10:49 EST | |

Holiday weekend fun 

Ok, here's a fun game for the holiday weekend: Comb through Zell Miller's speech at the RNC and find what you think is the best line.

Here's my personal favorite:
our nation is being torn apart and made weaker because of a Democrat's manic obsession to bring down our commander in chief.
Indeed, sir! How dare those damn demicrats even field a candidate. And in an election year no less! Scandalous! Say, how's that poll tax initiative coming?

-Ben  09:21 EST | |

Friday, September 03, 2004

Not really expecting anyone to know the answer... 

A lot of protesters made it inside and then were thrown out of the convention. In all but one case, the protestors had the legitimate credentials to be where they were. Some protestors got in through insincere flattery: "We have some very nice-looking women in Code Pink that have been hanging out in some nice bars, and these delegates like to impress the women," but they weren't trespassing.

What surprised me is that in some cases the protesters were "tackled" and then removed. I assume that at an event like this the GOP has the right to remove anybody at anytime for almost any reason--with the exceptions being members of protected classes who are being removed becuase they're in those classes. (lawyer types: does that sound right?) But how can they just go and tackle people. It seems more appropriate to ask them to leave and then arrest (and possible tackle them) if they won't. Does everyone who goes to the convention consent to tackling?

P.S. I'm sure the Dems are just as rough with protestors. I'm just wondering where they derive their authority from.

-Daddy Brooklyn  13:41 EST | |

LIBERAL BIAS ON NPR!!! 

After years of listening to NPR, I finally today found an example of the insidious liberal bias that is so storied among ultra conservative pundits.

After a recap of Bush's "speech", what ever commie nazi the NPR people have producing the show had the nerve to play a few notes of a rendition of Andrea Bocelli's "Time to Say Goodbye". I am sure that the opera-lovin', NPR listenin', Bush supportin' republicans are hoping mad.

In other NPR news, I heard the phrase "you don't have to take any shizzle from the Man" said by an NPR correspondent. Maybe this is the beginning of a boldly g'd up NPR.

-paul  10:08 EST | |

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Sorting out the lies 

This should be required reading for everyone who saw the speeches last night.

-Daddy Brooklyn  16:03 EST | |

Zell Miller 

Did any of you see Miller's speech last night? If you didn't, please watch it and tell me what you think. I thought it was a vile speech full of demonstrable falsehoods--to me it would've been risible if not for the fascists cheering every time questioning the government was equated with treason.

What worries me is that the man looked alive and angry. I doubt most who watched the speech will be listening to the back forth that disproves the spirit of almost every assertion in the speech. Instead people will just take away lines like: "Nothing makes this marine madder when American troops are referred to as occupier and not liberators." (I think I got that right, I don't have a transcript.) Many people are worried that Iraq has gone terribly wrong, and though the tone was strident, I think this line was soothing for those who need and want to be reconvinced of America's righteousness. The Democrats say, "well technically we are occupying Iraq", while the Republicans avoid the problem by denying the existence of the occupation. It's a neat head-in-the-sand trick if they can pull it off.

I've been trying to gauge Republican's responses to these speakers. Andrew Sullivan wrote some good stuff. Here's some of it.
THE MILLER MOMENT: Zell Miller's address will, I think, go down as a critical moment in this campaign, and maybe in the history of the Republican party. I kept thinking of the contrast with the Democrats' keynote speaker, Barack Obama, a post-racial, smiling, expansive young American, speaking about national unity and uplift. Then you see Zell Miller, his face rigid with anger, his eyes blazing with years of frustration as his Dixiecrat vision became slowly eclipsed among the Democrats. Remember who this man is: once a proud supporter of racial segregation, a man who lambasted LBJ for selling his soul to the negroes. His speech tonight was in this vein, a classic Dixiecrat speech, jammed with bald lies, straw men, and hateful rhetoric. As an immigrant to this country and as someone who has been to many Southern states and enjoyed astonishing hospitality and warmth and sophistication, I long dismissed some of the Northern stereotypes about the South. But Miller did his best to revive them. The man's speech was not merely crude; it added whole universes to the word crude.

THE "OCCUPATION" CANARD: Miller first framed his support for Bush as a defense of his own family. The notion that individuals deserve respect regardless of their family is not Miller's core value. And the implication was that if the Democrats win in November, his own family would not be physically safe. How's that for subtlety? Miller's subsequent assertion was that any dissent from aspects of the war on terror is equivalent to treason. He accused all war critics of essentially attacking the very troops of the United States. He conflated the ranting of Michael Moore with the leaders of the Democrats. He said the following:
Motivated more by partisan politics than by national security, today's Democratic leaders see America as an occupier, not a liberator. And nothing makes this Marine madder than someone calling American troops occupiers rather than liberators.
That macho invocation of the Marines was a classic: the kind of militarist swagger that this convention endorses and uses as a bludgeon against its opponents. But the term "occupation," of course, need not mean the opposite of liberation. I have used the term myself and I deeply believe that coalition troops have indeed liberated Afghanistan and Iraq. By claiming that the Democrats were the enemies of the troops, traitors, quislings and wimps, Miller did exactly what he had the audacity to claim the Democrats were doing: making national security a partisan matter. I'm not easy to offend, but this speech was gob-smackingly vile.

OPPONENTS OR ENEMIES?: Here's another slur:
No one should dare to even think about being the Commander in Chief of this country if he doesn't believe with all his heart that our soldiers are liberators abroad and defenders of freedom at home. But don't waste your breath telling that to the leaders of my party today. In their warped way of thinking America is the problem, not the solution. They don't believe there is any real danger in the world except that which America brings upon itself through our clumsy and misguided foreign policy.
Yes, that describes some on the left, but it is a calumny against Democrats who voted for war in Afghanistan and Iraq and whose sincerity, as John McCain urged, should not be in question. I have never heard Kerry say that 9/11 was America's fault; if I had, it would be inconceivable to consider supporting him. And so this was, in truth, another lie, another cheap, faux-patriotic smear. Miller has absolutely every right to lambaste John Kerry's record on defense in the Senate. It's ripe for criticism, and, for my part, I disagree with almost all of it (and as a pro-Reagan, pro-Contra, pro-SDI, pro-Gulf War conservative, I find Kerry's record deeply troubling). But that doesn't mean he's a traitor or hates America's troops or believes that the U.S. is responsible for global terror. And the attempt to say so is a despicable attempt to smear someone's very patriotism.

THE FOREIGN AGENT: Another lie: "Senator Kerry has made it clear that he would use military force only if approved by the United Nations. Kerry would let Paris decide when America needs defending. I want Bush to decide." Miller might have found some shred of ancient rhetoric that will give him cover on this, but in Kerry's very acceptance speech, he declared the opposite conviction - that he would never seek permission to defend this country. Another lie: "John Kerry wants to re-fight yesterday's war." Kerry didn't want to do that. Yes, he used his military service in the campaign - but it was his opponents who decided to dredge up the divisions of the Vietnam war in order to describe Kerry as a Commie-loving traitor who faked his own medals. What's remarkable about the Republicans is their utter indifference to fairness in their own attacks. Smearing opponents as traitors to their country, as unfit to be commander-in-chief, as agents of foreign powers (France) is now fair game. Appealing to the crudest form of patriotism and the easiest smears is wrong when it is performed by the lying Michael Moore and it is wrong when it is spat out by Zell Miller. Last night was therefore a revealing night for me. I watched a Democrat at a GOP Convention convince me that I could never be a Republican. If they wheel out lying, angry old men like this as their keynote, I'll take Obama. Any day.

-Daddy Brooklyn  13:02 EST | |

What if the worst happens?  

What are the readers of this blog going to do if Bush gets re-elected?

This morning got off to a great start when my [honor thy father and thy mother] dad was gloating about how opinion was set against Kerry among people he spoke with at a conference in New Hampshire. He claimed that one of them claimed to have worked on Teddy Kennedy's run for prez, and "[wouldn't] vote for Kerry if you paid [him]".

What I wanted to say was "They are uneducated white trash shills, and I hope they burn in hell". But what the fuck difference does that make? These worthless human beings still get to vote. A re-elected Bush is a re-elected Bush.

I don't want to share a country with people who are so blind and stupid anymore. I don't want to pay taxes that support this stupid bullshit.

If Bush is re-elected, what will I do? Vandalize cars? Start fires? What country can I flee to? Where will I go? I can barely get a job in this country. I don't have any money. I can't just blow my brains out. Going to jail won't make me feel any better.

I have hated people before, but the hate I feel this morning for the people supporting Bush, for their decadent willful ignorance, their evil, is so vast and so fiery, it goes far beyond anything I've ever felt.

If Bush is re-elected, what the fuck am I going to do?

-paul  10:46 EST | |

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

On Parker's 100 point wine scale 

Adam Gopnick writes in the New Yorker:
Demanding absolute excellence on an unchanging universal numerical scale is not, after all, our usual measure of sensual engagement. A man who makes love to fifty-some women and then publishes a list in which each one gets a numerical grade would not be called a lady's man. He would be called a cad. And that, more or less, is how a good many Frenchmen think of Parker: they don't doubt his credentials; they question his character. A real man likes moles and frailties; a real man marries his wine, as he marries his wife, and sees her through the thin spots. Being impatient with the tannins in a Margaux is like being impatient with the lines on your wife's face. They are what makes it a marriage rather than a paid assignation.

-Daddy Brooklyn  18:02 EST | |

Another perspective on the RNC 

Do strippers like Republicans?

Find out here.

-Ziggy Stardust  14:48 EST | |

Oh, so that's why I couldn't get a good job 

According to my newest republican betrayer, Ar-nowd says I'm a "girlee mon" for thinking the economy sucks.

Maybe if I start lifting weights, and forcibly grabing titties (I chose this word to be less of a "girly man") at work, I will get promoted or recomended for a better job.

Maybe if I menacingly approach an interviewer with my cock in hand, they will see that I am indeed not a girly man.

Maybe I will start punchin' hobos.

Or maybe if I take up the manly practice of taking orders from some little shit born with a silver spoon in his smirking monkey face, believe his lies and quit thinking for myself, and the girly practice of "reading", then I will indeed be manly, and the economy will be great for me again.

-paul  12:02 EST | |

About us:

This weblog is an ongoing, if periodic, effort by several friends to stay in touch, in reading material, and in ideas.

Lucky Luciano is a former Italian Stallion real estate hustler and Benedict Arnold CEO turned shady lawyer-to-be. He lives in Denver.

Ben is a Paramedic and would-be philantropist who lives in Denver. He knows everything about nothing.

Fuzzy Dunlop lives in Manhattan. He is more than capable of standing up to the stresses of a high crime urban environment.

Jess is a teacher. But have YOU given her an apple? No, you haven't. You should be ashamed of yourself. This crazy feminist currently rests her copy of Awakening in Jersey City.

Matt is a pariah, iconoclast, and professor of gambling living in Oakland.

Miguel Sanchez is not Lionel Hutz.

Daddy Brooklyn lives in Brooklyn. He hates Republicans, though he wouldn't mind being ensconced in the landed elite of New York City.

Paul just smoked my eyelids and punched my cigarette.

Ziggy Stardust has no past.

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