Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday Afternoon Time-Waster Alert
Trap the cat!
Question Answered
Thanks to the brilliant technological innovations of the Internets, I give you Is It Christmas?
Spare Us The Details
Kevin is right, here and here. I don't have any idea why Edwards would think it smart to spell out in detail how he (thinks he) would enforce the individual mandate in his healthcare proposal. If they thought he might actually win the nomination, Republicans would be licking their Rovian chops over his answer. So the government will garnish my wages if I don't buy health insurance....? Greeeeat. I'm sure that his Republican opponents wouldn't ignore all of the nuance and caveats in the plan and just bash a caricature of it, right?
Clarence Thomas' Silence Explained
Justice Thomas: Questions are for idiots!
"My colleagues should shut up!" he says. In a rare scolding of his fellow judges, Thomas Wednesday night took off after those who ask questions and debate cases out loud during oral arguments while defending his own, oft-criticized, silent treatment.
Thomas noted that through history, most top judges rarely asked questions. "What's changed? Have the laws changed? What's changed? And why are all these questions necessary? That should be the question," he demanded of the near epidemic level of judicial questioning at Supreme Court hearings.
Reason #499 not give custody of your child over to his Aunt, plus another interesting judicial determination, in my post this morning at the other place.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Busy Season
I hate having just one lame post a day, but I've been lucky to get to even that with the end of school upon us plus lots of other sundry crap. Here is the story I've had time to read. Chime in with the other stuff we should be in on.

Giuliani's in trouble. Will the story have legs? I'm skeptical that we could be so lucky, but we'll see. Still, I can dream that our media had the guts to ask the important, dare I say powerful question Josh asks. Let it sink in for a bit. Outrageous? Yes. Unthinkable? Sadly, no.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Republicans: Insecure Much?
The Virginia GOP has enacted a ridiculous idea.
Voters in Virginia's Feb. 12 Republican presidential primary will have to sign an oath swearing loyalty to the eventual GOP ticket....

The State Board of Elections has approved a state Republican Party request that all who apply for a GOP primary ballot vow in writing to vote for the Republican presidential nominee next fall.
Nice way to ingratiate themselves with the independent crowd, huh? Maybe they're already giving up on them.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

So Why is Trent Lott Resigning?
I guess millions as a lobbyist is a pretty convincing rationale, but there's also this:
HUSTLER Magazine has received numerous inquiries regarding the involvement of Larry Flynt and HUSTLER in the resignation of Trent Lott. Senator Lott has been the target of an ongoing HUSTLER investigation for some time now, due to confidential information that we have received.
Think Lott's (R-MS) been using Senator Vitter's (R-LA) phone book? Or Senator Craig's (R-UT) tap routines? Or Mark Foley's (R-FL) instant messaging service? Or some new bizarre Republican behavior we haven't yet imagined?

Monday, November 26, 2007

What have you been watching, reading, listening to? Christmas List Edition! What's on your list? What should be on mine?

The OscarMan Cometh
The NYTimes' seasonal blog about the Oscar race has started up again. The Carpetbagger says there is plenty of quality out there this year.

Weekend Box Office
1. Enchanted
2. This Christmas
3. Beowulf
4. Hitman
5. Bee Movie

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Now, America's Turn
Australia votes. Yes to fighting global warming; No to fighting in Iraq. Conservatives in power "humiliated." Here's hoping we follow suit in just 1 year.
Keith, the Contest is Over
The worst person in the world has been found. Kids can be cruel, the saying goes. I suppose the rest of the statement is: they learn it from adults.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Good News Thanksgiving
My regular blog-state is one of annoyed bitchiness, as you know, over all the aggravations, outrages, and horror that marks so much of the news today. But there's been a little bit of good news around lately that's worth noting. I figure Thanksgiving is as good a day as any to pretend like this stuff actually outweighs the truly crap fair measure of the world.

As you may have heard, a breakthrough has taught scientists how to engineer cells with all the characteristics of embryonic stem cells, though without the business of creating and destroying an embryo to procure them. If things shake out like they're predicted, stem cell research can continue without the overhang of that ethical debate.

And, uh.... well ok that's the only good news I can find. Help me out in comments. Any good news out there?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Alma Mater
It's been an interesting few days for Belmont. The University finally and officially broke from the Tennessee Baptist Convention, the basketball team got big road wins at Cincinnati and, last night, at Alabama, and yesterday the US Commission on Presidential Debates announced that Belmont will host one of the 3 official debates - the one with the townhall meeting format. So, of course, I have been preparing my question and trying to figure out whose {noun} I have to {verb} to get a ticket into the damned thing. Then, I read this:
Internet users...will be able to submit questions, which may be the only way Nashville residents can get a question to the candidates. Tickets are not issued; in 2004, the audience was undecided voters identified by the Gallup Organization.

The Commission on Presidential Debates, a nonprofit organization that has hosted all of the presidential and vice presidential debates since 1988, probably will invite about 400 people from around the country to Belmont, Fisher said.
Argh. So, no locals and not even Belmont people will be given seats as a part of hosting the event? How lame! I will keep working...I won't be undecided, of course, but there's got to be some way to get in and ask a question.
Now, Wireless Internet
Some scientist linked childhood autism to wi-fi.

Of course, a while back we heard that cell phones were killing all the bees, and now we know that's not true. So, who knows.
A new Washington Post Iowa poll puts him ahead of Clinton. If his momentum continues, this could actually become a race. It is the right time for a surge.

Obama 30 (27)
Clinton 26 (26)
Edwards 22 (26)
Richardson 11 (11)
The real toss-up is on the other side. I can't even tell who's ahead anymore, and can imagine any of 5 candidates winning the nomination (though less and less Thompson), if only because I can't see how any of them could win, but one of them's gotta. (Iowa, NH, SC)
Because it's my blog and I can do that kind of thing. (Breaking with tradition is probably in my DNA).

Mr. Whipple Died
Mr. Whipple was still alive before Monday? (Doug, just curious, anyone getting paid for this one?)

Documentary Oscar Field Narrowed
Sicko and No End in Sight made the cut (woohoo!). Fistful of Quarters did not (boo!). Link.

Weekend Box Office
1. Beowulf
2. Bee Movie
3. American Gangster
4. Fred Claus
5. Mr. Magorium's Something or Other

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Would You Spend $1000... find out about yourself?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Maybe one day I'll understand why this isn't the big issue dominating the presidential campaign.

Friday, November 16, 2007

It sounds like last night's debate was dreadful to watch, at best. Kevin Drum and Josh Marshall were watching, if you want some real-time impressions. As for me, I'm glad I was at the Sommet Center watching the Preds come back from 3-1 down in the final period to beat the Blackhawks in OT. Seems to have been a better use of my time.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Nashville Readers
..might care to know that Congressman Jim Cooper was one of only 15 Democrats to vote yesterday against the war funding bill that mandates troop withdrawal. Democrats are united against this dreadful war. Almost united, that is. Nice going Jim. Even conservative Dem Lincoln Davis knew to vote for ending this unpopular war.
In Case You're Interested...
My newest Talk2Action post is online. The Justice Department recently updated its interpretation of a federal law (RFRA) to override the explicit will of Congress and allow religious groups to discriminate in hiring for federally funded positions. I suppose they got tired of losing votes on the issue, so they did what the Bush Administration always does: decide the law doesn't apply if they don't want it to.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Back In Town Edition [UPDATED]
I've been away since Friday - hence the lack of posts. What have I missed? Where should I start in catching up?

[UPDATE - here's where:
1. Thanks to Farge for pointing me to this helpful questionnaire to help decide on the presidential candidate that should get my vote. Unfortunately, when I ran the answers, it came out a tie between Kucinich and Gravel. I'm not, obviously, going to vote for either of them. See where it puts you.

2. PBS' Nova is running a documentary tonight on the "intelligent design" controversy and trial from PA 2 years ago, in which a smart judge ruled the effort to sneak creationism back into the science curriculum unconstitutional. Everything I've read says it's quite a good piece. Maybe you want to check it out.

3. McCain's an ass. And it might be getting him more votes.

4. Apparently Obama kicked ass in his Iowa Jackson Day speech. I haven't seen or read it yet.

5. Cancel those plans to visit Yellowstone.]

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Time for the EPA to "Act or Get Out of the Way"
California is suing to try and force the EPA to rule on their 2005 request for a waiver to impose their own emission standards.
The EPA initially refused to act on California's application, saying the agency did not have the authority to regulate greenhouse gases as a pollutant. That changed when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in April that the EPA did indeed have that right.

As a result, the EPA is now developing greenhouse gas regulations that are scheduled to be released by the end of the year. Environmental groups say those regulations are not likely to be stronger than the California standards.
All Huckabee's Eggs in Iowa Basket
Makes Sense.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

New KY Hoops Coach
New Wildcat coach Billy Gillespie had some things to say last night after the first game of the season. The Lexington Herald-Leader provides the quotes:
"I'm a basketball junkie. I like to see great teamwork, great hustle, great execution -- smart, hard, together.

"We're going to do that. We haven't been able to do that. I want to honor this university and state better than we have so far."
He lamented "too many mental mistakes" and, maybe worse, a maddening repetition of the same mistakes. "Things we've corrected a million times," he said.
Kentucky won the game by 27.

[UPDATE: I guess he knew what he was talking about, since in the second game of the season tonight, UK was upset at home by Gardner-Webb!]
First Poll [UPDATED]
Here's the first poll in New Hampshire taken after Senator Clinton looked a little silly in the last debate. She still leads by a good bit, but the gap has closed. My reading is this - unless one of the other 2 candidates can take advantage with a genuine surge in voter confidence (a la Kerry in 2004), this dip by Hillary will be short-lived. If Obama finds a way to win in Iowa, this gap is close enough that momentum could lead to victory here as well. (Last month's poll in parenthesis.)
Clinton...34 (40)
Obama.....24 (17)
Edwards...15 (14)
Richardson 8 (11)
At the end of the day, this driver's license thing can't be the issue that propels Obama ahead, can it? He's for it, unlike 3/4 of America sadly. The chink in Hillary's armor here is one of form not substance: she just doesn't want to say whether she's for it or against it. On substance, he would have a hard time running on his outspoken support for an undocumented immigrant driver's license.

[UPDATE: And new from Iowa...(Aug. in parenthesis)
Clinton...28 (30)
Obama.....25 (19)
Edwards...21 (23)
Richardson 9 (10)]

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

You Think YOU Got Caught in the Middle of a Nasty Divorce...
At least your parents didn't argue over your foreskin.
Election Day [UPDATED]
2 elections I'm watching closely today: One is in Utah, where a state-wide referendum on a school voucher program is on the ballot. The other is the race for Governor in Kentucky, where the Democrat has been well ahead in recent polls, but the ethically-challenged Republican incumbent is pulling out all the nastiest tactics he can to hang on to power:
A new robocall has gone out purporting to be from — the Web site of the Fairness Campaign, an actual gay rights organization in Kentucky — speaking with pride about the strong support of "the homosexual lobby" for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Steve Beshear.

"Beshear is receiving major support from out-of-state gay activists and has publicly committed to same-gender relationships," the man on the call says.

The Fairness Campaign has denied any part in the calls, and is urging people who have received the calls to report it to the authorities.
Any of my Kentucky-based readers hearing anything? Results here, later.

[UPDATE: At 59-41, it's a rout. Democrats win in the Bluegrass State!]

Monday, November 05, 2007

What have you been reading, listening to, watching?

Is That the Best They Can Do?
Striking TV writers shown holding clever signs that say..."On Strike."

Weekend Box Office
1. American Gangster
2. Bee Movie
3. Saw IV
4. Dan in Real Life
5. 30 Days of Night

They Might Be Giants
Saw them in concert over the weekend at the Exit/In. I'd give it a solid "eh." I've seen them several times now, and this show felt remarkably the same as the last one. A few new tunes thanks to the new album, but otherwise was like watching a rerun. A good one, to be sure, but a rerun nonetheless. I think even guitar Dan's impressive 3-minute guitar solo was the same. Still a fun time and great tunes. The opening band, Oppenheimer, was actually pretty good too.

Which Movie Would You Present?
Over the weekend I had a fun discussion with Lewberry and Mrs. Lewberry about which film we would pick to introduce to the world if we could just pick one. On the Turner Classic Movie Network this month, a different guest each day is introducing their favorite films. Today, Rose McGowan day, she chose "Night of the Hunter", "Out of the Past", "A Place in the Sun", and "That Touch of Mink". Which would you pick if you had a day to be guest programmer? And - since we don't know the entire TCM catalog - let's just say you could pick from the entire history of feature films. One of our central discussion points: do you pick your favorite films? Or your favorites that you think people may not have seen?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Farm (Food) Bill Coming Up This Week
In today's NYTimes, author Michael Pollan (Omnivore's Dilemma) has a piece about the upcoming Farm Bill legislation. He notes that for the first time Americans are paying attention to this process and seeking to have a say in arguments that are typically limited to the corporate meat-packers and corn-growers and the like. Still, despite our growing influence, the major problem remains intact: the "farm policies that subsidize precisely the wrong kind of calories (added fat and added sugar), helping to make Twinkies cheaper than carrots and Coca-Cola competitive with water."
How could this have happened? For starters, farm bill critics did a far better job demonizing subsidies, and depicting commodity farmers as welfare queens, than they did proposing alternative — and politically appealing — forms of farm support. And then the farm lobby did what it has always done: bought off its critics with “programs.” For that reason “Americans who eat” can expect some nutritious crumbs from the farm bill, just enough to ensure that reform-minded legislators will hold their noses and support it.

It’s an old story: the “hunger lobby” gets its food stamps so long as the farm lobby can have its subsidies. Similar, if less lavish, terms are now being offered to the public health and environmental “interests” to get them on board. That’s why there’s more money in this farm bill for nutrition programs and, for the first time, about $2 billion to support “specialty crops” — farm-bill-speak for the kind of food people actually eat. (Since California grows most of the nation’s specialty crops, this was the price for the state delegation’s support. Cheap indeed!)

There’s also money for the environment: an additional $4 billion in the Senate bill to protect wetlands and grasslands and reward farmers for environmental stewardship, and billions in the House bill for environmental cleanup. There’s an important provision in both bills that will make it easier for schools to buy food from local farmers. And there’s money to promote farmers’ markets and otherwise support the local food movement.

But as important as these programs are, they are just programs — mere fleas on the elephant in the room. The name of that elephant is the commodity title, the all-important subsidy section of the bill. It dictates the rules of the entire food system. As long as the commodity title remains untouched, the way we eat will remain unchanged.

Friday, November 02, 2007

An Article 19 poll: Is this good news or bad news? Discuss.

UPDATE: The link is in and out so here's a snippet, in case you can't get the story to come up:
Scientists have been astounded by the creation of a genetically modified "supermouse" with extraordinary physical abilities – comparable to the performance of the very best athletes – raising the prospect that the discovery may one day be used to transform people's capacities.

The mouse can run up to six kilometres (3.7 miles) at a speed of 20 metres per minute for five hours or more without stopping. Scientists said that this was equivalent of a man cycling at speed up an Alpine mountain without a break. Although it eats up to 60 per cent more food than an ordinary mouse, the modified mouse does not put on weight. It also lives longer and enjoys an active sex life well into old age – being capable of breeding at three times the normal maximum age.
There's more.
Now It Matters
In an earlier post (too lazy to find it), I told you that the Democratic primary polls did not matter yet because it's too early, and that I would let you know when they count. I hereby declare that the next poll taken (not necessarily the next one released), in IA and NH, matters. My calculation is a secret, proprietary formula, but I will reveal that it has something to do with the weather, and this, among other things. My calculation says that the next poll taken will let us know if Hillary is vulnerable or not. Republican polls, on the other hand, still don't matter. I will let you know when.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Why I Haven't Had Time To Post Today
Recent developments I've detailed at my other blog here and here have become this post at Talk2Action, where generally you can find a weekly post of mine on Thursdays or Fridays. In case you're interested in the gradual erosion of our ability to challenge church-state entanglement, there you go.