Friday, December 19, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Of Note

Over at Outside the Beltway smart guy Dave Schuler and Dr Bernard Finel are debating the merits of pulling out of Iraq vs staying in.

Over at Pomomusings Rev. Adam Walker lays out a case for throwing out the bible when it comes to the issues surrounding gay rights. H/T TMV

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

When Science Meets Creepiness

You have to give props to a guy who can build a human looking robot with text, object, and facial recognition capabilities in his garage.




But you also have to take all points away when the inventor says something like this:

Le says his relationship with Aiko hasn’t strayed into the bedroom, but a few “tweaks” could turn her into a sexual partner.

Le said: “Her software could be redesigned to simulate her having an orgasm.”

For the record should any reporter ever ask if its possible to copulate with your invention the above statements are a perfect example of how not to answer the question. Here are a few better responses:

"Probably. But just because you can do something doesn't mean you should."

"Yep. But I'm not going there."

"Who in their right mind would do that?"

and of course

"You're a sick little monkey aren't you?"

Otherwise you're looking at being "That creepy robot guy" for the rest of your life.

That Blasted Breakfast

If you're like me there are some things that are so odd that they have to be tried. In the spirit of that I present to you Batter Blasters....



I opened up the can and sprayed a generous amount into the pan. At medium heat they cook pretty quickly. They do however tend to stick if you don't use an oiled nonstick pan. Since I was using a traditional oiled pan I had to flip them with a spatula rather being able to flip them with a flick of the wrist. They looked like pan cakes. They smelled like pancakes. In fact they even tasted like pancakes. They were very fluffy. I actually like my pancakes a little more dense. As for taste? They were on the sweet side but I've had far worse pancakes than these. I give them a four on a five point scale. Take that Easy Cheese!

Are they worth the extra expense? If you have to cook breakfast for seven people and you overslept then definitely. Want pancakes on a camping trip? Go for it. Want to set up a bizarre breakfast themed booby trap? Nothing better. Otherwise probably not.

**Safety Warning**
Do not, under any circumstances, place a can directly into a fire hoping to instantly create a 112" diameter pancake. Its very messy and the shrapnel is rather painful.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Huck vs Stewart: Gay Marriage Edition

Jon Stewart and Mike Huckabee debating gay marriage on the The Daily Show. Well worth watching.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Arghhh

I caught the wicked head cold that I was busy nursing my family though last week. For the record. It really sucks. All I want to do is sleep 24/7 which isn't possible unfortunately. I highly advise you to take suitable precautions to avoid catching it because this is literally the worst cold I can remember ever having.

Monday, December 01, 2008

I Wonder

Now that the Right is in the minority will they eschew the rabid and inane behaviour that they took so much delight in pointing out when the left was on the outs? If this is any indicator then the answer is sadly no.

Except for maybe
this guy.

Monday, November 17, 2008

On Vacation

Taking two weeks off to recover from election season burnout/withdrawal.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Obama to Prosecute W for Torture?

Over at Mother Jones Jonathan Stein predicts that the first split between Obama and Congress will be over the whether or not to investigate the previous administrations actions. He predicts that that Obama will follow the precedent of previous presidents and not push for or allow any formal investigations of his predecessor. Although Obama has previously stated that he would authorize a fact finding inquiry:

"If crimes have been committed, they should be investigated," he said. But he quickly added, "I would not want my first term consumed by what was perceived on the part of the Republicans as a partisan witch hunt, because I think we've got too many problems to solve."
However if recent speculation of Bush granting a blanket pardon to all individuals involved with torturing detainees proves correct the incoming administrations hands would be tied when it came to prosecuting anyone stateside. That would mean that anyone found guilty would have to be tried by the International Criminal Court. Which as weird as it may seem might actually be the best route to go if the upcoming Obama administration is serious about rebuilding America's image abroad.

As for whether or not we should prosecute members of the (soon to be) former administration I think the answer is pretty clear, "Absolutely." I am not alone in this line of thought. Glen Greenwald of Salon (who I disagree with 90% of the time) is in agreement with Daniel Larison of American Conservative magazine on this (which may be a sign of the apocalypse).

Larison:
Glenn Greenwald has an important post rejecting the claim that holding lawbreakers from this administration accountable is a kind of partisan attack. Leave aside for the moment that a significant number of voters who elected the new President probably chose him precisely to have this kind of accountability, which would mean that part of the reform of our government that many Obama voters expect entails nothing less than investigating and prosecuting officials who committed crimes. Instead, let’s simply consider what a system governed by the rule of law would require. It would require that those suspected of abuses of power, corruption or the commission of crimes under the color of authority be investigated and, if the evidence merited it, prosecuted.
...
If high officials have broken the law, the day when they are brought to justice should be considered a very good day indeed. Is it regrettable that these officials created this situation? Of course. What we should never regret or lament is the successul revival of the rule of law that holding such officials accountable would represent.
If you have doubts as whether or or not we should pursue such a course against this administration I have a challenge for you. First either read every source I've linked to on the subject or watch the documentary Torturing Democracy (essentially a time line on this issue using documents obtained under the freedom of info act, leaked memos and transcripts, and interviews with former Bush appointees and military officers) and then ask yourself "If it were Bill Clinton or Obama that were accused would I feel differently?" When any administration to commits a crime and we turn a blind eye we give license to future administrations to perform the same illegal acts.

One could also argue that if Obama fails to follow through on his word on this matter then he is tacitly reserving the privilege for those same excesses for his own administration.
How comfortable are you with that thought?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Open Blogroll Day

I tidied up my blogroll today basically cleaning off blogs that aren't around anymore or haven't posted anything in six months. If you'd like to trade links then slap a link to here on your blog and let me know in the comments.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tag, I'm It

Mike over at The Big Stick has tagged me. Fortunately its a simple one.

The Rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.


Six random things about myself:

1: I joined the Army Reserves right out of high school. Less than a year later the Berlin Wall fell. Coincidence? Probably.
2: I used to be a bouncer at a biker bar. This confused the bikers as I only weighed 135 at the time.
3: I started shooting when I was 8 hunting when I was 12. (Throwing knives, hatchets, and tomahawks competitively when I was 10)
4: Five minutes after I wake up a song starts playing in my head. (My inner DJ has no concept of quality control.)
5: I got my first computer (an Atari 800) when I was 11. Numerous geeky pursuits followed soon thereafter.
6: I'm mildly allergic to sunlight. Nothing a little SPF 15 can't fix though.

Tagging and linking to six people:

Polimom of the blog of the same name.

One Fly of Outta the Cornfield

NeoWayland at Pagan Vigil

Blogroll Amnesty Day Folks:

The Political Cat from the self named blog.

Ornery B@stard also at a self named blog.

Nunya at Politicky B!tch

Veteran's Day

The Things That Make a Soldier Great
by Edgar Guest

The things that make a soldier great and send him out to die,
To face the flaming cannon's mouth nor ever question why,
Are lilacs by a little porch, the row of tulips red,
The peonies and pansies, too, the old petunia bed,
The grass plot where his children play, the roses on the wall:
'Tis these that make a soldier great.
He's fighting for them all.

'Tis not the pomp and pride of kings that make a soldier brave;
'Tis not allegiance to the flag that over him may wave;
For soldiers never fight so well on land or on the foam
As when behind the cause they see the little place called home.
Endanger but that humble street whereon his children run,
You make a soldier of the man who never bore a gun.
What is it through the battle smoke the valiant soldier sees?

The little garden far away, the budding apple trees,
The little patch of ground back there, the children at their play,
Perhaps a tiny mound behind the simple church of gray.
The golden thread of courage isn't linked to castle dome
But to the spot, where'er it be — the humblest spot called home.
And now the lilacs bud again and all is lovely there
And homesick soldiers far away know spring is in the air;
The tulips come to bloom again, the grass once more is green,
And every man can see the spot where all his joys have been.

He sees his children smile at him, he hears the bugle call,
And only death can stop him now — he's fighting for them all.

Reprint

For some reason this one always makes me smile.


Monday, November 10, 2008

A Newer Low

You know, there are some people that are so vile that if lightning were to strike them some atheists would recant.

On that note:

Fred Phelps and crew are planning on
protesting at Obama's grandmother's funeral.

H/T
Coates


Note to Secret Service: Please bring truncheons.

Beating a Dead Horse *updated*

Dear Andrew Sullivan,

You don't like Sarah Palin. We got it. She lost the election. Enough already.

Thanks,

Dyre42

*Update*

It looks like at least one other reader agrees with me.

Know Hope

Dr. Gero Hütter, a German hematologist, has successfully cured a patient of AIDS by transplanting the bone marrow of a donor who had a natural immunity to the disease (a mutation) into his patient.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Binge or Purge?

The battle for heart and soul of the GOP has started and while some are calling to stop the excesses of the party and return to the basics:

In the 2008 elections, Voters did not reject conservatism. They rejected Big Government Republicanism in all its forms, including the Bush administration and the Republican leadership in Congress.
...
This disastrous defeat can and will be laid at the feet of the Big Government corporate Republicans who abandoned the Reagan Coalition, massively expanded government, and ignored the needs and values of regular, grassroots Americans. They protected Wall Street and K Street, and forgot about Main Street.

Republicans will make a comeback only after they return to their conservative roots. That process starts with the replacement, with principled conservatives, of all of the Republicans’ elected congressional leaders, as well as most members of the Republican National Committee and most state party officials. It’s time for new leaders, from top to bottom.

Richard A. Viguerie is author, most recently, of Conservatives Betrayed: How George W. Bush and Other Big Government Republicans Hijacked the Conservative Cause.

Others are calling for the purge of the ideologically impure:

The liberal wing of the GOP has caused the collapse of the Republican party. It is no longer a viable player in the political conversation, and deservedly so: For a decade it has spat on the values of Ronald Reagan. Conservatives let it be known on Tuesday in races all over the country that it has had enough with the betrayal.

L. Brent Bozell is president of the Conservative Victory Committee and chairman, Media Research Center

Whats at stake? Whether or not the GOP transitions to a big tent party with ideas to spare or is reduced to just its base and eventually goes the way of the Whigs they replaced.

Classy Ralph, Really Classy

How out of line do you have to be to get dressed down on Fox News about race?

Ask Ralph Nader...








H/T TMV

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Stop For Just a Moment

Think about what just happened.

Today the American people showed the world why America is the greatest nation on Earth. Today the American people showed that the child of an immigrant can, if he works and studies hard enough, become anything he wants within these borders. Come tomorrow morning millions of children, born with skin darker than my own, will wake to discover that anything is possible for them despite what they have been told their entire lives. Today our nation tore that final barrier down and in doing so proved to the world that The American Dream is alive and well.

That alone may do more good for this country than any policy either of the candidates involved in this election could have ever crafted.


Think about that for a bit.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Palin Cleared in Trooper "Scandal"

Good of them to get this out of the way prior to the elections...

From the AP:

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Gov. Sarah Palin violated no ethics laws when she fired her public safety commissioner, the state personnel board concluded in a report released Monday. "There is no probable cause to believe that the governor, or any other state official, violated the Alaska Executive Ethics Act in connection with these matters," the report says.

"Gov. Palin is pleased that the independent investigator for the Personnel Board has concluded that she acted properly in the reassignment of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan," her attorney, Thomas Van Flein, said in a statement.

Admittedly I don't care for Palin but even given my bias I could see where if the trooper in question was as unstable as claimed then I could see where Palin may have thought she was justified in trying to get rid of him. To me the question was did she abuse her power in the quest of that goal? Apparently the answer is no. Despite that odds are Palin will be packing her bags and going back to Alaska tomorrow night and probably face a tough bid for reelection in 2010. Now that the ethics investigation is over she's clear for the 2012 primaries. I have a strong feeling we haven't seen the last of by a longshot.

Senator Obama's Grandmother Has Passed Away

From the WaPo:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The day took a tragic turn for Sen. Barack Obama when his ailing grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, died today.

Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Dunham died at home late last night in Hawaii, or roughly between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. Eastern. Obama learned of the news a little after 8 a.m. in Florida, where his campaign held a morning rally.

The campaign released a statement from Obama and his sister Maya Soetoro-Ng this afternoon:

"It is with great sadness that we announce that our grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, has died peacefully after a battle with cancer. She was the cornerstone of our family, and a woman of extraordinary accomplishment, strength, and humility. She was the person who encouraged and allowed us to take chances. She was proud of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren and left this world with the knowledge that her impact on all of us was meaningful and enduring. Our debt to her is beyond measure.

My sincerest condolences to Senator Obama and his family. I had hoped that she would have held out long enough to see the election through. No one deserves a loss such as this the day before they make history.

Bottom of the Ninth

And here are the final polling numbers that matter for the Presidential race:

Intrade:

Obama 90.1% Chance of Winning

McCain 10.3% Chance of Winning

Five Thirty Eight:


Obama 98.1% Chance of Winning

McCain 1.9% Chance of Winning

Pollster's Poll of Polls:


Not a pretty picture for McCain

Thursday, October 30, 2008

How the Obama Campaign Stole the Election

By enabling their people on the ground to work smarter.

How? A giant database of voter records that allows campaign workers to catalog the responses and reactions of voters they have contact with while allowing them to avoid wasting their time contacting McCain supporters. Full details are at Wired

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Christian Science Monitor Going Out of Print

and totally online...

From the NY Times:

Christian Science Paper to End Daily Print Edition

After a century of continuous publication, The Christian Science Monitor will abandon its weekday print edition and appear online only, its publisher announced Tuesday. The cost-cutting measure makes The Monitor the first national newspaper to largely give up on print.

The paper is currently published Monday through Friday, and will move to online only in April, although it will also introduce a weekend magazine. John Yemma, The Monitor’s editor, said that moving to a Web focus will mean it can keep its eight foreign bureaus open.

“We have the luxury — the opportunity — of making a leap that most newspapers will have to make in the next five years,” Mr. Yemma said.
...

Mr. Yemma said that print did bring in money at The Monitor, but most of that was from subscriptions, not advertising. Subscriptions account for about $9 million of The Monitor’s revenue, while print advertising makes up less than $1 million. Web revenue is about $1.3 million, he said. He is projecting that circulation revenue will drop, but he expects the magazine format will appeal to print advertisers. He is planning cuts, too. Mr. Yemma said he was planning some layoffs on both the 100-person editorial side and the 30-person business side. “I’m not sure the same number of people will be needed,” he said, but “there’s certainly nothing like a draconian cut coming.”

Under the new system, reporters will be expected to file stories to the Web and update them a few times a day, and write longer pieces for the weekend magazine.

Mr. Yemma said he hoped to establish CSMonitor.com as an essential place for international news. The site now gets about three million page views a month, according to comScore, and Mr. Yemma said he wanted to increase that to 20 million to 30 million a month in the next five years. Even if he can fill the site only with remnant, cheap ads, he said, if visits grow as he is projecting, “that’s a sustainable model.”

The magazine, which will have an international focus, is meant to satisfy readers who are attached to print, Mr. Yemma said, but he said he did not expect it to be hugely profitable.
I give them points for taking the seeing the future and facing it head on. I am certain that their success or failure will be major factor in how fast other papers and magazines make the transition.

Texas, Early Voting, and Me

So far two million Texans have voted of which I am one. That's about 15% of the total number of registered voters in the state (mostly Obama supporters apparently) . I went one Monday around 2:30pm and my local polling station was packed. There wasn't a parking space to be found. Eventually I snagged a parking space, went into the library, and got in line. I give the poll workers props for being extremely polite and efficient. Questions were answered instantly and factually and the line moved at a rapid pace which kept everyone happy. Nice job!

This was the first time in my life that there was a Libertarian presidential candidate on the ballot as well as the option to vote for a straight Libertarian ticket. I then placed my vote for what could be called a straight divided government ticket in that I voted Libertarian for president, Republican for Senate, and Democratic at the state level. City elections in my case tends to be a mixed bag since I have met many of the sitting judges at various functions over the years and know of others by the reputation they have with various defense lawyers that I know. Basically I just try to vote out any judge that is operating in the extreme or where there are legitimate concerns about competence or fairness.

I have some real concerns about election day though. Given that here in Texas almost a million people have registered to vote since the primaries and 85% of the state has yet to vote and how badly the primaries went here (insanely long lines and caucuses not getting started till 11pm) I think we're going to see problems similar to Ohio 2004 (polls closing while there's still a line of voters) popping up both here in Texas and other states and possibly poll workers nationwide collapsing from exhaustion across the nation. I think the best we can hope for on that front is that it doesn't go so badly that we have to listen four more years of stolen election screeds.

Thanks for DWSUWF and Dave Lucas for linking to this post. (As an added reward MW I won't tag you with the latest meme I got hit with.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Senator Ted Stevens Convicted of Corruption


In the unlikely event that you haven't heard by now Senator Ted "Bridge to Nowhere" Stevens was convicted of seven counts of corruption related charges yesterday.

From the AP:

Stevens guilty on 7 counts, won't quit Senate race

WASHINGTON – Ted Stevens, a pillar of the Senate for 40 years and the face of Alaska politics almost since statehood, was convicted of a seven-felony string of corruption charges Monday — found guilty of accepting a bonanza of home renovations and fancy trimmings from an oil executive and then lying about it.

Unbowed, even defiant, Stevens accused prosecutors of blatant misconduct and said, "I will fight this unjust verdict with every ounce of energy I have."

The senator, 84 and already facing a challenging re-election contest next Tuesday, said he would stay in the race against Democrat Mark Begich. Though the convictions are a significant blow for the Senate's longest-serving Republican, they do not disqualify him, and Stevens is still hugely popular in his home state.

...

Stevens faces up to five years in prison on each count when he is sentenced, but under federal guidelines he is likely to receive much less time, if any. The judge did not immediately set a sentencing date.

Odds are he'll resign once the election is over. At this point he mainly just acting as a GOP place holder so that Gov. Palin can appoint a Republican to fill his vacant seat should he be reelected. That'll give the state GOP time to regroup and field a candidate with a chance of winning by the time the special election is held. Hopefully his conviction will mean an end to corruption in the GOP. And maybe the fact the Stevens conviction occured on Teddy Roosevelt's birthday is a portent of better things to come from the GOP once they finish their time in the woodshed.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Quote of the Day

I'm voting for Obama because my mom is a racist. I figure the least I can do is offset her vote.

- Some Guy at Work

And My Vote Goes To...

This has been a weird election for me. During the primaries I picked both McCain and Obama as my preferred candidates for each party figuring that we'd see more substantive and less negative campaigns than we've seen in a long while. In fact I contributed to both of their primary campaigns to help bear this scenario to fruition. Eventually I was rewarded with exactly that scenario. Having followed this race closely since it started, read the policies, hear the speeches, and watched two out of three of the debates I have made a concrete decision about who I am voting for on Nov. 4.

Barack Obama never really had a chance of getting my vote this election. Not that I wouldn't vote for him. But after seeing what happened to America when one party was allowed total control of the government I have no faith that the other will show any more prudence, honesty, or restraint than its predecessor. If power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely then why vote in a manner that sets your government up to fail you? As for Obama himself I respect his intelligence, his thoughtfulness, and his composure and if the GOP controlled either the House or the Senate I'd vote for him.

That brings me to McCain...

I've been a fan of McCain's since 2000 and have been formerly of the belief that had he won the presidency then we would avoided many of the bad decisions and executive excesses that we've seen over the past eight years. To be fair I've been hard on McCain this election season. That's largely because as the race has progressed he's become more and more of a disappointment to me. The John McCain we've been seeing lately isn't the McCain of 2000. In fact he's not even the McCain we saw in the primaries. I was content to vote for him just one the principle of divided government originally but when he started softening his anti-torture stance to placate the might makes right underbelly of the base I started having serious doubts. In fact I wrote his campaign and told them I wasn't giving them a dime in the general election if McCain was backing away from his previous stance on torture.

After that I was resigned to voting for him. After all of my states electoral votes would be going to him anyway. The more the race drug on the less McCain's campaign seem to embody the principles that McCain had stood for in the past. And then came Palin aka The Deal Breaker. She was obviously a gamble to garner the support of the base and in my minds eye grossly unqualified to step in should McCain be taken out by a partisan pretzel.

That leaves only one man left on the Texas ballot for me to vote for...

Bob Barr. I had no love for the man while he was in office. However having seen numerous interviews with him, watched videos of his lectures, and having seen how hard he has had to battle for ballot access I am certain that he is not the same person he was then. Not that he's a total convert to Libertarianism either. If you read his platform its full of words like minimize, reduce, and cut rather than abolish. Its more of a call for Burkean conservatism. A conservatism based on fiscal and military restraint, free market economics, individual liberty, and minimal governmental intrusion into the lives of those governed.

In other words everything the GOP used to stand for.

So I'm going to use my vote to send a message to Republican leadership. In fact after I vote I plan on printing this post and mailing it to GOP HQ. I doubt anyone will read it but isn't it the thought that counts? And maybe, just maybe, once the returns are in Barr will have gathered just enough votes to make the national leadership have to consider moving back towards its roots.

Besides I still get to keep my perfect (although largely accidental) divided government voting record intact this way without sacrificing any principles. That's a win win for me.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Pinching Pennies

In tough economic times one of the first luxury items to go is eating out. Fortunately thanks to Restaurant.com that doesn't have to be the case. Essentially the site allows you to purchase gift certificates at a reduced rate usually a 25$ gift certificate for 10$ (conditions may apply) with normally a 35$ minimum purchase . Needless to say you get better results in cities than you do in small towns.

H/T to The Cheapskate

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

So What?

CNN's Campbell Brown gets a gold star for calling BS on the Obama is a Muslim meme...




H/T Below the Beltway

On Hiatus (Sort of)

I'm taking a week off from political blogging. Having covered this election season since the first candidate announced I find that I'm just a little burnt out when it comes to finding new things to say. So I'm just going to talk about other things for a few days and see what happens.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Second Debate Reax

Boring. Literally the same talking points from last debate were repeated. Bourbon didn't improve this debate one bit. I think McCain did better than his last debate. He worked the floor and crowd well from the get go. It took Obama about half an hour to get properly warmed up. As for the winner I have to say Obama eked out a win. Not because he said anything different or substantive but because his performance improved from the last debate and again he held his own against McCain. Anything less than a clear victory on McCain's part helps Obama and tonight McCain again failed to achieve that.

McCain is going to have to go for broke in the final debate and truth be told I don't see him doing it. I don't think he's actually capable of going negative on someone while they are in the same room. Its one thing to sign off on negative ads but its another thing entirely to besmirch someone's character when they're just a few feet away from you. I honestly don't think McCain's conscience will let him go that low. And that may very well end up costing him the race.

*Update*

Snap polls are agreeing with me that Obama won although they are showing that in the minds of many Obama won by a large margin.

The Candidates on the Environment

The National Wildlife Federation asked both presidential candidates the same questions on conservation issues. McCain's and Obama's responses are available here. What's interesting is that the last question was just for fun "If you could be any animal what would it be?" McCain chose jaguar and Obama dodged the question. In writing. Weird.

Monday, October 06, 2008

If You're Going to Lie

At least lie well enough to respect the intelligence of the person(s) you're lying to.

From ABC's The Blotter:

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin fought to protest atrocities in Sudan by dropping assets tied to the country's brutal regime from the state's multi-billion-dollar investment fund, she claimed during Thursday's vice presidential debate.

Not quite, according to a review of the public record and according to the recollections of a legislator and others who pushed a measure to divest Alaskan holdings in Sudan-linked investments.

"The [Palin] administration killed our bill," said Alaska state representative Les Gara, D-Anchorage. Gara and state Rep. Bob Lynn, R-Anchorage, co-sponsored a resolution early this year to force the Alaska Permanent Fund a $40 billion investment fund, a portion of whose dividends are distributed annually to state residents to divest millions of dollars in holdings tied to the Sudanese government.

...

In Thursday's debate, Palin said she had advocated the state divest from Sudan. "When I and others in the legislature found out that we had some millions of dollars [of Permanent Fund investments] in Sudan, we called for divestment through legislation of those dollars," Palin said.

But a search of news clips and transcripts from the first three months of this year did not turn up an instance in which Palin mentioned the Sudanese crisis or concerns about Alaska's investments tied to the ruling regime. Moreover, Palin's administration openly opposed the bill, and stated its opposition in a public hearing on the measure.

"The legislation is well-intended, and the desire to make a difference is noble, but mixing moral and political agendas at the expense of our citizens' financial security is not a good combination," testified Brian Andrews, Palin's deputy revenue commissioner, before a hearing on the Gara-Lynn Sudan divestment bill in February. Minutes from the meeting are posted online by the legislature.

...

The Alaska Permanent Fund currently holds $22 million in Sudan-linked investments, according to the non-profit Sudan Divestment Task Force. Divestment advocates say the fund does not need an act of the state legislature to divest itself of those holdings.

I'm not going to go all Andrew Sullivan here but considering that my own hard core red state of Texas saw fit to divest itself of any Sudanese investments the Palin administration's decision to passively support genocide is morally negligent at best. The fact that she stood in front of the nation and lied about says volumes about her to me. Given the number of red states that have divested the number of conservative and/or evangelical groups that have stood up in opposition to the travesty in Darfur how can Palin justify continuing to indirectly finance genocide? Let alone lie about it?

If evil prevails when good people do nothing then what happens when good people try to profit from evil's actions?


Thanks to Screaming at the TV for linking to this post

I've Been Nominated

For a Love! This Site Award. The weird part is I wasn't the one that did the nominating. It is worth noting that they actually give out a monetary award. I've added the nomination badge to the site in case you feel like voting (registration required). I'm up against some tremendously huge blogs (Huff Po, Wonkette, Treehugger) but I'm holding my own so far. So if you love the underdog or just hate some of the other nominees drop by and vote for yours truly. Thanks.

Presidential Debates Take Two

I'll be covering them live on Twitter. Feel free to join me.

Friday, October 03, 2008

VP Debate Reax

First let me start off by saying Palin did a lot better in the debates than she did in her Couric interviews. Biden did pretty good. He made it through the night gaffe free which counts for a lot in his case. I thought Palin pushed perky to the limit in the opening of the debates and that she answered the first few questions well. However after that she, as well as Biden, dodged several questions. Personally I though she was much clumsier at it than Biden. Biden you actually had to pay attention to in order to notice the dodges. Palin was pretty obvious about it. Palin's energy level seemed to start flagging about forty five minutes in and she started relying heavily on talking points. One hour into it and Biden seemed to have the upper hand both on energy level and mastery of the subject matter particularly in regards to foreign policy. She seemed to be operating from a script wheras Biden was clearly explaining the facts as he knew them. In the end both of them accomplished what they needed. By that I mean they didn't tank their candidates chances. At worst Palin turned off a few independents by not appearing to have a concrete grasp of all of the subject matter.

I think Biden won on points but it was a hollow victory.




This post was backdated on 10/06/2008

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Biden's Best Bet

As I have mentioned before Biden should focus on the issues and refrain from attacking Palin so he doesn't risk coming off like a bully. Andrew Halco who ran against Palin for governor and debated Palin a dozen times lays out the other stumbling block for Biden. If Palin has her way the denate will be about personality rather than policy:

Palin is a master of the nonanswer. She can turn a 60-second response to a query about her specific solutions to healthcare challenges into a folksy story about how she's met people on the campaign trail who face healthcare challenges. All without uttering a word about her public-policy solutions to healthcare challenges.
...
And when she does answer the actual question asked, she has a canny ability to connect with the audience on a personal level. For example, asked to name a major issue that had been ignored during the campaign, I discussed the health of local communities, Mr. Knowles talked about affordable healthcare, and Palin talked about the need to protect hunting and fishing rights.
I don't think Biden can beat Palin in a popularity contest. He's somehow going to have to either force Palin to stick to the issues or find a way to repeatedly politely point out that Palin isn't actually answering the questions. Given his gaffe prone nature and his temperment he may not be up to that particular task.

Obama Solidly Leading in Electoral Polls

Despite the fact that the first Presidential debates changed almost nothing pollwise Barack Obama is extending his lead in the electoral college. Real Clear Politics has Obama leading McCain 249 electoral votes to 163.
Its seriously starting to look like the worse the economy is perceived the worse off McCain's campaign does. Given the fact that the first presidential debate is the most watched McCain's failure to take Obama to the woodshed may cost him. He'll have to be perceived as a clear winner in the next two debates and prove to the minds many that his economic policies are sound. That is of course provided that Palin doesn't totally tank during tomorrow's debate.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Before I Forget (again)

The International Medical Corps emailed me (repeatedly) to ask if I could help them out by letting my readers know that they are in the running for a generous donation from American Express. The catch is that the amount they receive will be based on who has the highest number of votes.

IMC's mission is to:


International Medical Corps (IMC) is a global, humanitarian, nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives and relieving suffering through health care training and relief and development programs.

Established in 1984 by volunteer doctors and nurses, IMC is a private, voluntary, nonpolitical, nonsectarian organization. Its mission is to improve the quality of life through health interventions and related activities that build local capacity in underserved communities worldwide.

By offering training and health care to local populations and medical assistance to people at highest risk, and with the flexibility to respond rapidly to emergency situations, IMC rehabilitates devastated health care systems and helps bring them back to self-reliance.
So if you could find time in your busy day to drop by and vote for them (simple sign up required) both they and I would appreciate it.

Thanks to The Political Cat for linking to this post.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Debate Reax

I watched the debates (and covered them on Twitter). I was surprised at how little actual debating there was. It seemed to me to mainly be a recitation of the policies listed on their websites. Both candidates gave decent performances. Personally I thought it was a draw. However that may be all Obama needs to win over a chunk of swing voters. By not losing to McCain Obama may have proved to many that he at least has the chops to keep up with him. For some independents that may have been just enough to tip the scales.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Back from the Grave

The whole family has been under the weather this past week. Strange thing is everyone had something different. However everyone seems to be on the mend now. Regular blogging will resume as scheduled.

Meanwhile tonight I will be covering the Presidential debates on Twitter. If my history from the nomination acceptance speeches is any indicator that'll pretty much be me alternating between heckling the candidates and complimenting them on their more astute answers. I can be found here on Twitter.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Carter Poll

I've seen a few comparisons between W and Jimmy Carter over the last year in regards to which one was the worst president. However given that the current financial crisis happened on W's watch I think a few opinions might have changed so I thought I'd test the wind with a completely unscientific poll.

Is George W Bush

the worst president since Carter
worse than Carter
still better than Carter


(View Results)

Create a Poll


I'll leave it up for a week.

Familiarity, Meet Contempt

I thought the flavor of McCain's recent ad campaigns seemed familiar. Looks like his campaign is now primarily being run by W's old campaign staff....

From the WaPo:

a handful of McCain's longtime allies -- including his closest aide, Mark Salter, and two former lobbyists, Rick Davis and Charlie Black -- continue to hold senior posts in his campaign, many of his advisers from his first presidential bid now play tangential roles at best. In addition to Weaver, McCain's 2000 campaign manager, Michael Murphy, and press adviser Todd Harris are largely out of the McCain circle. The housecleaning, aides said, has been conducted largely by Schmidt, whose own Bush credentials run deep: He helped run the communications shop in the 2004 campaign and went on to work for Vice President Cheney and to shepherd the president's controversial nomination of Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court. Schmidt then ran California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's successful reelection campaign before withdrawing from national politics -- until he joined the McCain campaign in December 2006.

The personnel shift has become a cause of distress for some Republicans, who had hoped for a new brand of Republicanism to take hold, fueled by players who had experience outside Washington. "It's insane to me that at the same time that it's running saying it's not going to be the Bush administration, this campaign looks like the Bush campaign on steroids," said one Republican strategist.

The tone of McCain's campaign has taken in regards to Obama is pretty similar to the campaign run against Kerry. We're seeing the McCain Campaign jump on anything that could be potentially construed as a gaffe, insult, or flip flop. I refer to this tactic as Attack and Distract because the ultimate purpose of it seems to be to keep the presses eye negatively on the opposition thereby keeping the other campaign playing defense. It worked well enough on Kerry but given how poorly a similar stratagem worked for Clinton during the primaries I have to wonder if it won't ultimately come around and bite McCain in the posterior. I know several independents that are really turned off on McCain due to the campaigns recent negative turn.

Additionally the fact that McCain has surrounded himself with so many Bushies really makes me wonder what his staff is going to look like. Given the errors and overreaches of the current administration I'd like to see McCain's administration full of fresh (and competent) faces. The distinct possibility of that not being the case gives me grave cause for concern.

Fall

Fall always makes me homesick. As I have mentioned before I'm originally from Virginia. And if you haven't seen the Blue Ridge Mountains during the peak of fall you are truly missing something.
Pictures don't really do it justice because they have borders. If you get back far enough in the mountains the view is like that for as far as the eye can see in all directions. And if you get that far back before sunrise it almost looks like the world is completely ablaze.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Time to Upgrade?


If you anything like me then your computer probably isn't a top of the line recent model gaming system. My machine is a five year old HP that despite having a 2.4ghz processor has been seeming a little slow lately despite the fact that have my computer configured to use as little memory as possible. So I decided it was time for a few upgrades. I was pleasantly surprised to discover how cheap it was to upgrade 512 megs of Crucial brand RAM 29.99 , a new ATI video card with 256 megs of RAM 39.99, and a Turtle Beach 5.1 surround sound audio card (I had on board sound) 29.99. I got free shipping on eveything by Googling (website name) coupon code

I just thought I'd share my bargains with you in case your puter is acting a little pokey too.

Friday, September 19, 2008

I Take Exception

To Fred Thompson's last comment in this video...

Kaltura

I believe that distinction belongs to Teddy Roosevelt.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Palin: Email Hack Attack

By now you have no doubt been made aware that Gov. Sarah Palin's personal email account was account hacked. But what you may not have heard is how it was done. So here are the gory details of how exactly her email account was hacked:

  1. The perpetrator logged into the proxy server Ctunnel.com to cover his tracks.
  2. Then he went to yahoo.com clicked the "Forgot your password?" link
  3. Once Yahoo asked the security questions he then Googled the answers
That's all it took. The full story is posted over at Wired including the panic that the "hacker" went into after he realized how stupid his actions were (for doing it and for not covering his tracks better) It is however worth noting that someone from the message boards he posted to did go into the account reset the password and then emailed Palin's office about the "attack".
By now its patently obvious that anyone with enough will could have broken into Palin's email account at any time. Additionally since Yahoo doesn't actually encrypt your mail session only the login page (same goes for AOL, Hotmail, and Gmail*) her account could have hacked at anytime by anyone with the right skills.

The irony is that it was her attempt to get around public accountability that led to her emails, family photos, and daughters phone number being spread on the web. If she had done the right thing and not tried to escape being accounatble to her electorate and used the vastly more secure email system that being governor afforded her this would have never happened in this fashion. Ultimately by trying to eschew accountability she jeopardized information security. Take from that what you will.

Now as for securing your email account first beef up your password, then make the answers to your security questions harder there some good tips on doing both here. Then consider using a password manager to securely store your new and improved passwords that way all of your passwords are instantly available by using one master password. A list of the most popular password managers is available here.

*If you are a gmail user (like myself) you can 128 bit encrypt your entire mail session by logging into your account, clicking on settings (located in the top right hand corner), scroll down to the very bottom of the page and click the circle next to "always use https", then click save changes and your done.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Happy Constitution Day!



Today is the anniversary of the signing of the US Constitution. It officially became a holiday back in 2004 "the act mandates that all publicly funded educational institutions provide educational programming on the history of the American Constitution on that day" Not exactly a replacement for Civics class but its a step in the right direction. If you'd like to refresh you memory of its exact contents a downloadable version is available here.

Beating a Dead Horse

It looks like I'm not the only person who thinks that Andrew Sullivan's attacks on Sarah Palin have gone overboard. Over at The Debatable Land occasional Daily Dish stand in Alex Massie thinks so too.

Personally I think his "vetting" of Palin has become so weird and harsh that I'm starting to wonder if she didn't fly from Alaska to Sullivan's house batter his door down with a frozen moose carcass and then proceed to personally pee in his Wheaties.

Sullivan had the following to say in his defense...

All I am doing is exposing as many facts and arguments about this Manchurian candidate that I can find. I am committed to putting the truth out there, especially when it debunks my assumptions and have done so promptly on the sole occasion when some clear evidence rebutted a question I was raising. I am airing all sides of the issues. But I will not relent until we have a better idea of who this person is. And I offer no apologies or regrets for persistence.

If you really think you now know all you need to know about her, read someone else.

Facebook vs Porn

Facebook wins.

From Reuters:


Bill Tancer, a self-described "data geek," has analyzed information for over 10 million web users to conclude that we are, in fact, what we click, with Internet searches giving an up-to-date view of how society and people are changing.
...

Tancer, in his new book, "Click: What Millions of People are Doing Online and Why It Matters," said analyzing web searches did not just reflect what was happening online but gave a wider picture of society and people's behavior.

"There are some patterns to our Internet use that we tend to repeat very specifically and predictably, from diet searches, to prom dresses, to what we do around the holidays," Tancer told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Tancer, general manager of global research at Hitwise, an Internet tracking company, said one of the major shifts in Internet use in the past decade had been the fall off in interest in pornography or adult entertainment sites.

He said surfing for porn had dropped to about 10 percent of searches from 20 percent a decade ago, and the hottest Internet searches now are for social networking sites.

"As social networking traffic has increased, visits to porn sites have decreased," said Tancer, indicated that the 18-24 year old age group particularly was searching less for porn.

"My theory is that young users spend so much time on social networks that they don't have time to look at adult sites."

I propose a different theory: They decided to stop watching sex and actually have it. Succesful social networking does increase one's odds after all.

H/T The Daily Dish

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Cavalry Arrives

Look like at least one PAC has answered the Obama Campaign's call...




Pretty tame compared to some of McCain's ads. Its more of a shot across the bow than an actual attack comparatively speaking. Odds are the real heavy handed ads won't be rolled out till a few weeks prior to the election. Just in time to have an effect but close enough to the election that by the time the fact checking is done the votes will have already been counted.


H/T TPM

Weird Fact

Texas is one of few states that doesn't allow its citizens to carry handguns unconcealed in public.

That kinda blows the Texas stereotype out of the water now doesn't it?

Monday, September 15, 2008

I've Got the Blues

I've got them low down dirty working seven days a week because of Hurricane Ike, wife is sick, and the big screen TV crapped out blues.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tired of the Endless Spin

Sept 12 2006:

Press Secretary Tony Snow:

Osama bin Laden, mastermind of September 11th, the person that many people talk about and still have concerns about, calls this fight, the fight in Iraq, “the third world war.”

Sept 10 2008:

Press Secretary Dana Perino:

Q: But Osama bin Laden is the one that — you keep talking about his lieutenants, and, yes, they are very important, but Osama bin Laden was the mastermind of 9/11

PERINO: No, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was the mastermind of 9/11, and he’s sitting in jail right now.




h/t

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bob Barr to Change His Veep?

To Ron Paul? Considering how much money Ron Paul raised compared to how much Barr has raised (less than a million) it makes a whole lot of sense. However given the fact that Ron Paul's supporters haven't already flocked to Barr's banner and Paul endorsed all third party presidential candidates rather then Barr specifically I'm doubting that Paul will accept.

However it would be really interesting if I were wrong.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Gaffe Master B Strikes Again

Remember what I said about Biden's negatives as a VP choice? He has serious problems staying on message. Here's an example from today of what I meant by that...

From the Politico:

I hear all this talk about how the Republicans are going to work in dealing with parents who have both the joy, because there's joy to it as well, the joy and the difficulty of raising a child who has a developmental disability, who were born with a birth defect. Well guess what folks? If you care about it, why don't you support stem cell research?
I'm left wondering if Biden's support of stem cell research is based on the hope that they'll eventually find a cure for foot in mouth disease.

H/T TMV

Obama Calling in the Cavalry?

Looks like the RNC and McCain have finally caught up with Obama financially. The problem? The 527s aligned with McCain have put them over the top. Apparently Obama's campaign has opted to stop pressuring the Dems 527s to lay low.

Courtesy of Marc Ambinder:

An Obama adviser privy to the campaign's internal thinking on the matter says that,with less than two months before the election and with the realization that Republicans have achieved financial parity with Democrats, they hope that Democratic allies -- what another campaign aide termed "the cavalry" -- will come to Obama's aid.

The Obama campaign can't ask donors to form outside groups; it can only communicate, through the public and the media, with body language, tells and hints.
While I was hoping for a cleaner campaign season than this given how tight the race has been I suppose it was bound to happen. Although I have to say that while I understand how important having a monetary advantage over ones opponent is I can't help but wonder if this decision might backfire on Obama. After all its hard to sell yourself as an agent of change if you're doing the same thing every nominee in recent history has done.

H/T Memeorandum

Sliming Sarah

I think its important for bloggers to lay their biases out in the open.
Particularly if one happens to be a moderate/centrist/independent.
Moderates are supposed to be more objective than their more partisan counterparts. Having said that here's my latest bias. I don't like Sarah Palin. Not one bit. And I don't have a good reason for it. Literally as soon as she came onto my radar the alarms started going off. The last time that happened during a presidential race was in 2000 when W declared his candidacy. So I'm going to trust my instincts about her but for the purposes of this blog try to be as objective as possible.

Having said that I do think that the feeding frenzy the media and blogtopia has gotten in over Sarah Palin has reached unprecedented levels. Certain actions of hers have been misrepresented and then in turn presented as the truth repeatedly
by both liberal and moderate bloggers. In particular the book banning inquiry and subsequent firing of the questioned librarian has been woefully misconstrued. The latest blogger of note to propagate that myth (and others) is Juan Cole over at Salon. His recent post, "What's the difference between Palin and Muslim fundamentalists? Lipstick" presents several half truths as fact. So below are a list of his assertions contrasted with what FactCheck.org has to say on the same matter.

Cole:

while mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, Palin inquired of the local librarian how to go about banning books that some of her constituents thought contained inappropriate language. She tried to fire the librarian for defying her
Fact Check:
Palin never asked that books be banned; the librarian continued to serve in that position; no books were actually banned; and many of the books on the list that Palin supposedly wanted to censor weren't even in print at the time, proving that the list is a fabrication.

It's true that Palin did raise the issue with Mary Ellen Emmons, Wasilla's librarian, on at least two occasions.
...
Palin never asked that books be banned; the librarian continued to serve in that position; no books were actually banned
...
Moreover, although Palin fired Emmons as part of a "loyalty" purge, she rehired Emmons the next day, and Emmons remained at her job for two-and-a-half more years. Actually, Palin initially requested Emmons' resignation in October 1996, four days before the public discussion of censorship. That was at the same time she requested that all four of Wasilla's department heads resign.
Cole:
Palin argued when running for governor that creationism should be taught in public schools, at taxpayers' expense, alongside real science.
Fact Check:
On Aug. 29, the Boston Globe reported that Palin was open to teaching creationism in public schools. That's true. She supports teaching creationism alongside evolution, though she has not actively pursued such a policy as governor.
Cole:
The GOP vice-presidential pick holds that abortion should be illegal, even in cases of rape, incest or severe birth defects, making an exception only if the life of the mother is in danger. She calls abortion an "atrocity" and pledges to reshape the judiciary to fight it. Ironically, Palin's views on the matter are to the right of those in the Muslim country of Tunisia,
...
Palin's stance is even stricter than that of the Parliament of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
In 2005, the legislature in Tehran attempted to amend the country's antiabortion statute to permit an abortion up to four months in case of a birth defect. The conservative clerical Guardianship Council, which functions as a sort of theocratic senate, however, rejected the change. Iran's law on abortion is therefore virtually identical to the one that Palin would like to see imposed on American women
...
Saudi Arabia's restrictive law on abortion likewise disallows it in the case or rape or incest, or of fetal impairment, which is also Gov. Palin's position.
Fact Check:
*crickets chirp*
(OK, he's right on that count.)

There are real issues that Palin can be taken to task on like fiscal responsibility, accepting earmarks while claiming to be a reformer, CCing her husband on all executive level emails. In fact if you'd like to see a conservative do a fine job of it check out the blog Eunomia over at American Conservative magazine. He smartly points out her faults without ever once propagating a single falsehood. Ultimately that is what separates vetting from sliming. We need more of the former and less of the latter. I may not like Palin but that doesn't mean I don't want her to be treated unfairly.

However at the rate mistruths are being propagated about she may eventually catch up with Obama on the slimed scale. And given how heated things get during presidential election that might be about as fair as blogtopia can manage.

Thanks to Northloop Neighborhoods for linking to this post.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Turning 42

On this day forty two years today go geeky history was made.

The launch of the starship Enterprise...



P.S. The next movie about the original crew is set come out on 05/08/2009

McCain's Post Convention Bounce

Is pretty impressive...

From RCP:

PollDateSampleMcCain (R)Obama (D)Spread
RCP Average09/05 - 09/07--48.645.4McCain +3.2
CNN09/05 - 09/07942 RV4848Tie
USA Today/Gallup09/05 - 09/07823 LV5444McCain +10
Rasmussen Tracking09/05 - 09/073000 LV4847McCain +1
Hotline/FD Tracking09/05 - 09/07924 RV4444Tie
Gallup Tracking09/05 - 09/072733 RV4944McCain +5


Look like its going to be an extremely close race since all polls save USA Today are within or close to the margin of error. Although I for one am curious as to how much of his recent gains are a post convention bounce and how are due to Palin.

McCain Speech Reaction

Yeah I know its a few days late. I watched (and Twittered) the McCain acceptance speech (then went to bed and dreamed that John McCain had moved his campaign's national HQ to my house while I was at work. Hilarity and strangeness ensued.) in full. Personally I thought the speech was mediocre. It seemed very disjointed. Considering that McCain is not the best at giving speeches I expected his speech writer to at least rev up the quality of the speech itself to help him out.

As for the actual message most of it was pretty much what I expected from any GOP presidential candidate drilling, lower taxes, victory in Iraq, etc etc etc. Having said that there were a few points in the speech in which McCain v2000 seemed to have worked in a few lines...

Like:

Finally, a word to Senator Obama and his supporters. We'll go at it over the next two months. That's the nature of these contests, and there are big differences between us. But you have my respect and admiration. Despite our differences, much more unites us than divides us. We are fellow Americans, an association that means more to me than any other. We're dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal and endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights. No country ever had a greater cause than that. And I wouldn't be an American worthy of the name if I didn't honor Senator Obama and his supporters for their achievement.
and:
You know, I've been called a maverick; someone who marches to the beat of his own drum. Sometimes it's meant as a compliment and sometimes it's not. What it really means is I understand who I work for. I don't work for a party. I don't work for a special interest. I don't work for myself. I work for you.
and also:
I fight to restore the pride and principles of our party. We were elected to change Washington, and we let Washington change us. We lost the trust of the American people when some Republicans gave in to the temptations of corruption. We lost their trust when rather than reform government, both parties made it bigger. We lost their trust when instead of freeing ourselves from a dangerous dependence on foreign oil, both parties and Senator Obama passed another corporate welfare bill for oil companies. We lost their trust, when we valued our power over our principles.
and of course:
Instead of rejecting good ideas because we didn't think of them first, let's use the best ideas from both sides. Instead of fighting over who gets the credit, let's try sharing it. This amazing country can do anything we put our minds to. I will ask Democrats and Independents to serve with me. And my administration will set a new standard for transparency and accountability.
Like I said all in all was a fairly boilerplate speech designed to assure GOP supporters that McCain is a safe candidate with a few gems tucked into it for independents. Unfortunately for McCain I don't think it caused anyone to gravitate towards him or away from him anywhere near as much as VP pick did. And how exactly that plays out remains to be seen.

On a side note he did appear before a big blue screen again which really makes me wonder if he's looking to get some more Stephen Colbert "Make McCain Interesting" action.