Saturday, June 30, 2007

Public Perception
Steve Benen - who seems to be guest-posting for every blogger this weekend - writes today at TPM about something that always drives me crazy. It's one thing for the general public to have a faulty impression over which party is to blame for congressional inaction. It's quite another for media members to report on this phenomenon without noting or caring about the role they play in sending out this misinformation. How about reporting on whether or not the public perception is *true* once in a while, instead of side-stepping the journalist's obligation to, you know, actually inform the public?

Friday, June 29, 2007

There was a Democratic debate last night - not that I saw it - moderated by Tavis Smiley, and questioned by African-American and Latino journalists. I've often been asking how the heck is Hillary staying on top of the polls...and now I'm starting to realize she's just good at knowing what to say and when to say it. Read Steve Benen's account of the debate, and notice 2 things: 1) supposedly of more substance, this debate still yielded no news from any of the candidates trying to catch her. But Hillary managed the line of the night, it would seem - a perfectly placed barb that may help solidify her support in the African-American community.
I didn't see any campaign-changing moments, though Hillary Clinton just about brought the house down when she said AIDS would be a higher national priority if it were the number one killer of white women ages 25 to 34. (The comment drew the loudest, most sustained applause of the night.)
So far, her campaign is simply out-thinking the others. I'm in full travel mode - just made it to DC last night. Did anyone see the debate? What did you think?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Can Someone Explain...
How and why Fred Thompson is moving up in the polls? What exactly has he done or said to generate support? This must be disheartening to a guy like McCain who's done nothing over the last 8 years but plan and prepare and work toward the GOP nomination in 2008.

Monday, June 25, 2007

I'm gone for 3 days and the Supreme Court decides to limit First Amendment freedoms, thinking I won't notice. Of course, I did. By 5-4 decisions, the court chipped away at the right of taxpayers to enforce the Establishment Clause by suing over Executive Branch violations. And, while they were at it, decided to bulk up the powers of school executives to clamp down on student free speech in the name of maintaining order. No more "Bong Hits 4 Jesus."

Friday, June 22, 2007

I'm On My Way To The Beach
Because I can be. Tell me what I'm missing. My next few posts will have sand in them.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

College Rankings
The US News & World Report racket that is their yearly college rankings is finally starting to get some of the scrutiny it deserves. Some colleges are opting out.

I've been astonished the last several years the lengths schools will go to for an increased ranking by this second-rate magazine. The entire admissions philosophy of some universities is bent to conform to the ranking formula. It's long past time for some to say "enough."

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I can't wait to see Michael Moore's new film. But I don't get so worked up - like I once did - over reviews like Andrew Tobias' (via Kevin Drum)
I got to see Michael Moore’s new movie, SiCKO, last night, which opens a week from Friday. Run don’t walk. This movie is going to be huge – and have a huge impact. At the screening I attended, 1500 people were on their feet cheering through the entire credits.
I watched Fahrenheit 9/11 on the first weekend with rabid fans, diehard liberals and the response was similarly rousing. I left the theater that night thinking that everyone would be talking about the movie, and everyone would see it, and George Bush would be defeated in a landslide in the election just a few months away. But of course, that didn't happen. I was a little more realistic when I saw Inconvenient Truth on opening weekend in Nashville, with Al and Tipper and friends watching just a few screens away. The crowd's response was incredible. But the truth is: anyone watching SiCKO now is at a special screening for people who already agree with Moore.

I'm going to see SiCKO at the first opportunity, and will probably be moved and amped up by it. But no matter how much I love him, I don't think America will be led to the promised land, health care-wise, by Michael Moore. Similarly, it will probably take a leader not named Gore to really move us forward on the climate crisis.

In fact, I could believe this film might damage the cause (am I a nay-sayer or what!?). Young people love Moore's films, and my understanding is that he is calling for nothing less than a single-payer, government-run health-care system,and calling every other proposal in between a sham. If true, he may be empowering young voters to go the way of Kucinich and Nader. Meanwhile, back on planet Earth, we have problems that have to be solved by concensus.

Call me when elected officials stop taking money from the health insurance lobby, and the poll numbers change about government-run, single-payer health care.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Political Question of the Day
If the Democrats nominate Hillary, and the Republicans, say, Fred Thompson, would you consider voting for a Bloomberg-Schwarzenegger ticket running as independents? No, really, would you? What if, to make things interesting, Hillary were running third in the polls going into election day?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Supporting the Troops
I'll never understand this one thing about the relationship between the military and Washington. I honestly don't understand - and welcome theories.

Washington holds the purse-strings for the federal budget, and if there are two things elected officials in both parties are good at, it's pandering and flag-waving. I would think that every legislative session would become a bidding war over troop-related funding - which party can offer more housing, salary, health care, pension, education...? And it would be the perfect way to criticize other funding plans. You want to pay for public television? Maybe fund art? No way - we want to improve veterans' hospitals. You want to over-pay Halliburton? Cut taxes for billionaire CEO's? Fat chance - our side would prefer proper psychological screening and treatment for troops who have served in combat zones. I mean, talk about folks that do the work that most Americans won't do. If anything, you would think the social services of American troops would be scandalously gold-plated as our politicians fall all over themselves offering support.

But it doesn't work like that. By all accounts, medical care in the field is amazingly good. After that...not so much. We read about Walter Reed earlier this year. And today's Washington Post story is doubly horrifying, at least. And, like I say, mystifying. It doesn't have to be that way, and wouldn't exactly take any political courage to fix it. Just the opposite. So, what's the deal?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Even More Great News From the World of Science!
Guess what? In terms of global surface temperature, January - May of this year was only as hot as 1998! The bad news, of course, is that 1998 had been the hottest on record in that category. Also, April didn't stay our most recent record-breaking month for long, now that we've had May - the warmest May ever on land. TN, GA, AL and MS set records for the driest spring ever (woohoo - we're #1!), and don't even get me started on Siberia:
For the spring, much of Siberia is a stunning 5°C (9°F) above average. This is worrisome because

* Siberia contains probably the world’s largest amount of carbon locked away in the permafrost.
* The permafrost is increasingly not so perma.
* Much of that carbon would be released as methane, which is 23 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
What a great time to be alive! Thank you, science!
Judge Says No Delay
Scooter doesn't get out of jail to wait for his appeal. But, I still somehow suspect his chances of actually serving a day are no better than 50/50. File it under I'll-believe-it-when-I-see-it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Barney Frank on Mitt
"The real Romney is clearly an extraordinarily ambitious man with no perceivable political principle whatsover. He is the most intellectually dishonest human being in the history of politics."
It's time we turned the tables and started branding these guys as the flip-flopping, no-real-conviction politicans that they are, the same way Republicans have done to Democratic candidates in the last 2 cycles. Romney, Guiliani, McCain, these 3 will say whatever it takes to get elected - not a principled bone in their bodies - and we should be saying that about them every time their names come up.
Howard, I wish I knew how to quit you
Can you picture Jake Gyllenhaal in an orange knit stocking hat? He has auditioned for the lead in a new play "loosely based on Howard Dean's 2004 campaign for the White House" according to the NYPost's theater page:
a young, idealistic communications director who works for an inspiring, though unorthodox, presidential candidate. During the campaign, his career is done in by more seasoned politicos who thrive on poisonous partisan politics, dirty tricks and back-stabbing.

Those of you who know people on whom this may be "loosely based" should reach out to them and give us any inside scoop.

Now that's a show climax that really upset me.

Monday, June 11, 2007

It's early. That's the message of a new New Hampshire Democratic primary poll--not because Clinton leads Obama and Edwards 36 - 22 - 12 - but because the number of people who claim to have "definitely made up their minds"? Just 8 percent.
For non-Sopranos talk. What have you been watching, reading, listening to?

Jody Rosen on Sgt. Pepper's

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The last episode of the Sopranos. Use this thread for your thoughts, worries, speculation (before 8 pm Central time) and reaction (after 9). Assume spoilers are in the comments after the show's over. Personally, I feel a little let down by HBO here. No specials? No retrospectives? Would it kill them to spend today showing old episodes? I'd like to see episode 1, and maybe all the previous season-enders...some recognition that the anticipation is killing us.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Bush Illness at G-8 Meeting
It's called a hangover, George. C'mon, you remember.
No-Confidence Vote Coming
How many Republicans will support Gonzo?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Im guessing this wouldn't work if other inmates tried it??

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Attention Parents
It will be an awkward conversation for sure, but save yourself some serious grief. When your son turns 17, you need to tell him this story, and inform him that he has a new legal status... Kids don't know the law, but on some topics they need to. (warning if you're at work: the link is to the Chicago Tribune, but there is some sex talk in the story)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

What I've Been Waiting For
Obama's speech at Hampton University - you need to scroll down to get to the complete text. I know it's not everybody's thing - the poetic vision of America that finds a home in black preaching, the inspiration of religious imagery - but it works on me. It sends chills down my spine that we might actually elect a President who could and would give a speech like that - with such a clear understanding and acknowledgment of the pain and injustice that so many face.
The Price of Covering for Cheney
30 months + $250K. I hope it was worth it.
Could it Be?
For the first time, I'm starting to take seriously the possibility that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee. I expected the bright light of national politics to have her a bit wobbly, and expected the charisma, intelligence, freshness and passion of Obama to eventually breeze by her. Despite this new anomalous poll, that's not happening so far.

My main concern about her is pretty simple - electability. We are in a prime position to move this country in a new direction with a new kind of leadership to tackle truly unprecedented problems and the need to dig our way out of 8 years of mammoth incompetence. But with Hillary in the race the focus is all Clinton, a referendum on personalities, a rehashing of the past, not to mention a continuation of the same bad set of national Democratic advisers we've had for almost 20 years. She gives Republicans the kind of distracting target that nobody else (except maybe Gore) would.

She's the opposite of new. (plus she helped get us into this crappy war)

So why is she doing so well?

Monday, June 04, 2007

What have you been reading, watching, listening to?

Box Office

1. Pirates 3
2. Knocked Up
3. Shrek 3
4. Mr. Brooks
5. Spiderman 3

Reserve your Sopranos comments for the post below, if you spoilers in this thread.

Rufus Wainright - Release the Stars

I've just given it one listen so far, but it's a beautiful set of songs - astonishing combination of singer-songwriter ethos with powerful and unique orchestrations. You don't remember just how predictable most music these days really is until you hear something that truly surprises, both within a song and from track to track. The album bogs down a little in the middle, but overall very strong, better than his last. We'll see how it holds up to listening again.

Iain Pears - The Portrait
Last week, I read this short novel, picked for no particular reason. Eh.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Sopranos Thread
For spoilers. What did you think?
Democratic Debate
Nobody is watching the debate I'm sure, on CNN. There's a Red Sox-Yankees game and The Sopranos coming up. But I think John Edwards is doing well, and Hillary is doing a good job also. Dodd sounds strong and Richardson sounds out of sync. This is not a good format for Obama, in my opinion. Anybody watching?

[UPDATE: Unfortunate line of the night. The question was "regarding rolling back tax cuts for the do you define rich?" Edwards: "I don't know if I know what a rich person is..."]
Too Weird To Be a Coincidence?
Maybe this is one way to keep your daughter from being married to a guy (for long). Give him the extremely rare deadly strain of TB that you work with. Then again, undiagnosed he would have surely become contagious and eventually infected his wife, the daughter. So it probably wasn't part of some plan.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Saturday Afternoon TV
I've got a cold. So, lazily watching TV. Sundance is showing "The Andromeda Strain" which I never saw before but always heard good things about...plot and dialogue-wise it is one silly movie. One thing sounded familiar: when scientists make dire warnings, it makes the President not trust them.

Friday, June 01, 2007

It was 40 years ago today
So, what's your favorite Sgt. Pepper's track that's not "A Day in the Life"? (too obvious). I'm a fan of "Good Morning Good Morning."