October 31, 2004

Osama: Four More Years?

Today’s new banner. If you like the message, post the damn thing somewhere so that people can see it while there is still time. With or without this video, the fact is that Bush was more concerned about his Iraq agenda than he was about bringing the biggest mass murderer in US history to justice. There is no need to spin it, Osama benefitted from our invasion of Iraq in more ways than one.

I don’t care who people think Osama wants as president. I think he hates us all equally. What I do know is that Bush should be held accountable for his decisions, including the decisions that led to so many deaths in Iraq when there were no WMDs, Osama’s escape because they were busy planning Iraq, and the fact that Osama is still alive to try his hand at terrorizing the American people again.

Vote to change the way this country is going. I don’t want four more years like the last few.

Posted by James at 1:19 PM

The Leader

How about something truly frightening for Halloween?

“I swear to thee, Adolph Hitler as Fuhrer and chancellor of the German Reich, my Loyalty and Bravery. I vow to thee and the superiors whom those shall appoint, obedience until death, so help me God.” - Schutzstaffel Oath

Worried about that oath that Bush has his supporters doing - the one that I mentioned in the last Shotgun Post? I am, and I think you should be.

I don’t want to compare Bush to Hitler. More importantly, I don’t want Bush doing things that evoke the types of activity which led to a cult of personality Hitler rode to power. If Kerry had an oath of fealty, I would be extremely disturbed. Yet, I don’t hear any Bush supporters batting an eye. (Please forward me a link, if you know of one.)

“If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier,” Bush said, pausing and then joking, “just so long as I’m the dictator.” - GWB, December 2000

As I told both Maggie and Ryan, people like a dictator. This is why they elevate them to power. They always have their reasons, but often the main reason is fear. The more shadowy the fear, the better.

Here is the Bush oath:

“I want you to stand, raise your right hands,” and recite “the Bush Pledge,” said Florida state Sen. Ken Pruitt. The assembled mass of about 2,000 in this Treasure Coast town about an hour north of West Palm Beach dutifully rose, arms aloft, and repeated after Pruitt: “I care about freedom and liberty. I care about my family. I care about my country. Because I care, I promise to work hard to re-elect, re-elect George W. Bush as president of the United States.”

They’re working up the crowd to raise the importance of Bush as high as possible. Once we have accepted him as the only leader who can protect us, the only one who we would accept if we care about our country, family, freedom and liberty, then perhaps there is no need to use his given name. We can just call him “The Leader.”

And once we accept that the Repoublican Party is the only one that truly can take care of us, the only one that truly has the best interest of ourselves and the military in mind, it clearly becomes the most important party. The only important party. Why not just call it “The Party?” It’s more to the point.

So, if you care about your way of life, you will vote for the Leader. You will vote for the Party.

If you’re interested in further thoughts on the disconcerting way Bush is tapping into fear, hatred, check out these Billmon posts:

He refers to it as atavism… a throwback. Calling to some deep part of the human brain which reacts without thinking.

Bush is no Hitler. But why is he taking cues from the man? Where is all of this going? We have to ask that now, because the question cannot be asked later when we are over the waterfall.

Posted by James at 10:00 AM | Comments (1)

All Hallows

Happy Halloween!

Posted by James at 1:09 AM | Comments (3)

October 30, 2004

Faith-Based Parks Agenda

Breathe in the fresh air. Stretch your legs on a trail. View the scenic landscape. Read a bible verse. Get evangelized. Learn that the Grand Canyon was created over a short period of time during Noah’s flood.

Whiskey tango foxtrot, come again? You’re not going to believe this one.


The Bush Administration has decided that it will stand by its approval for a book claiming the Grand Canyon was created by Noah’s flood rather than by geologic forces, according to internal documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

When confronted, the Bush administration has dodged the issue.

“Promoting creationism in our national parks is just as wrong as promoting it in our public schools,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, “If the Bush Administration is using public resources for pandering to Christian fundamentalists, it should at least have the decency to tell the truth about it.”

Alas. This is the same Bush administration we’ve come to know so well.

In a rectification that even Winston Smith would have been proud of, conservative groups pressured the administration to change the video displayed at the Lincoln Memorial to remove historic protests which occurred there. Even worse, they wanted to make some additions.

These groups asked to cut out footage of gay rights, pro-choice and anti-Vietnam War demonstrations because it implies that “Lincoln would have supported homosexual and abortion ‘rights’ as well as feminism.” […] Park Service spokespeople indicated that they were considering inserting footage from the Christian group Promise Keepers rally and pro-Gulf War demonstrators even though these events did not take place at the Memorial.

The most prominent mention of this story I found was in the Seattle Times. Take that, myth of the so-called liberal media.

Please, please can we have another president? One based in reality, if we could?

Posted by James at 8:51 AM | Comments (2)

WMDs, The Evolution.

Q: Is US Credibility on the line over “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq?

Bush: I’m not exactly sure what that means.

That’s part of why we need to send you on a permanent vacation, Mr. President.

Watch the video that takes you from hot and heavy WMD talk to “Inspectors didn’t find anything and I doubt that we will.”

Posted by James at 8:35 AM

October 29, 2004

U.S. Concludes Bin Laden Escaped

U.S. Concludes Bin Laden Escaped at Tora Bora Fight

That was back in 2002. Today, bin Laden is still running around. It’s probably John Kerry’s fault - right?

The Bush administration has concluded that Osama bin Laden was present during the battle for Tora Bora late last year and that failure to commit U.S. ground troops to hunt him was its gravest error in the war against al Qaeda, according to civilian and military officials with first-hand knowledge.

Intelligence officials have assembled what they believe to be decisive evidence, from contemporary and subsequent interrogations and intercepted communications, that bin Laden began the battle of Tora Bora inside the cave complex along Afghanistan’s mountainous eastern border. Though there remains a remote chance that he died there, the intelligence community is persuaded that bin Laden slipped away in the first 10 days of December.

After 9/11 we were treated to stories about how Clinton somehow allowed 9/11 to happen because he did not “get bin Laden when he could have.” Clinton has denied there was such a clear chance to get bin Laden.

Over time, we’ve heard Bushies use the Clinton canard on bin Laden less and less. Why is that? Because they understood somewhere within themselves that Bush is guilty of the mistake they pinned on Clinton, but to a higher degree. A Bush administration report proclaims it to be the truth. Decisive evidence bin Laden was at Tora Bora and escaped. The reason? We didn’t pursue him when we had the chance. We’ve known since 2002.

Bush was being truthful when he said he wasn’t that worried about the man responsible for the death of thousands of Americans. (Well, he was truthful about that before he lied about it in the debate).

Now, bin Laden has issued a new video message through Al Jazeera.

When you see bin Laden out and about, let it remind you of Bush’s incompetence as Commander in Chief. Bin Laden was cornered, and now he has had years to run free. Apparently, he is still running free.

When you see the army of Bush-mouthpieces spinning this as “bin Laden Campaigning against Kerry,” let it remind you of Bush’s incompetence as president and how he covers it up with outrageous distortions. Bin Laden does not sound like much of a fan of Kerry’s in this video, stating plainly that he believes neither Kerry nor Bush can make us secure. In this spin, Bush’s supporters truly seek to enlist bin Laden’s video in their campaign strategy.

Posted by James at 5:20 PM

World Champion Shotgun

I’m a little late on the shotgun. It’s a crazy day. Try this on for size:

  • The Llama Song (Flash)
  • Scariest Halloween Costumes (Political, Funny)
  • Eminem Vs. Bush (Video)
  • Bush’s Brain Game (Flash)
  • My Son Peter (Oooo - spooky)
    • Marginally spooky (most assuredly fake) web page chronicling a man being haunted by his dead son.
  • iPod - GWB Edition (Image, Political Humor)
  • Visualize Winning (Political, Flash)
    • Visualizing winning can facilitate success.
  • Banana Republicans (Parody Catalog)
    • Where do the get those models?
  • The New Get Your War On (Humor, Political)
    • “Hello, Is this History?You’re going to judge these people, right?”
  • The Battery (Short Movie)
    • Don’t leave a battery lying on your desk. It could be the deaht of you.
  • Bush Wanted To Invade Iraq If Elected in 2000 (Article, Politics)
    • “Two years before 9/11, candidate Bush was already talking privately about attacking Iraq, according to his former ghost writer”
    • At this point, it doesn’t seem like news. But there are some interesting points from a former Bush autobiography ghost writer.
  • Bush Dead Letter Office (Political, Email)
    • “OCTOBER, 2004: Recently, we at GeorgeWBush.org happened to notice that our mail server had a default “catch-all” mailbox, which for the past several months had been quietly gathering any and all e-mails addressed to [INSERT-ANYTHING-HERE]@georgewbush.org. We felt the need to share.”
  • One Nation Under Bush (Political, Article)
    • “At a campaign rally, Republicans recite the “Bush Pledge.”
    • “I want you to stand, raise your right hands,” and recite “the Bush Pledge,” said Florida state Sen. Ken Pruitt. The assembled mass of about 2,000 in this Treasure Coast town about an hour north of West Palm Beach dutifully rose, arms aloft, and repeated after Pruitt: “I care about freedom and liberty. I care about my family. I care about my country. Because I care, I promise to work hard to re-elect, re-elect George W. Bush as president of the United States.”
Posted by James at 11:40 AM | Comments (3)

October 28, 2004

Bush Wins British Award

Bush Voted Year’s Top Film Villian

With U.S. voters soon to pass their verdict on President George W. Bush, readers of a British magazine have rated him the year’s top screen villain.

For his role in Fahrenheit 9/11. Let’s hope this is the only election he wins.

Posted by James at 3:51 PM

A Brief Message

To all you Cards fans who are good sports, you’ve got my respect.

However, I have a brief message for the Yankees (especially Derek Jeter) and any Yankee or Cardinals Fan who is getting up this morning and saying “Sometimes the best team doesn’t win.”

The message can only be given properly in audio format.

[NOTE: As far as I can tell, most Cardinals fans are of the good sport type. See here. In fact, not just good sports, they’re awesome.]

Posted by James at 9:32 AM | Comments (8)

The Sun Is Up

And the world is still here. I drove home from my cousin’s house in a daze last night, and it wasn’t an alcohol-induced daze either. I wasn’t sure what would happen when I woke up.

Fans last night were pouring out of the bars, looking like they were blinking off some nightmare. It felt entirely different from winning the ALCS against the Yankees. The Cardinals just struck me as a decent bunch of guys who were not prepared for the monster team that came alive after 3 bad games and ate the Yankees for breakfast in Fenway Park.

I am no baseball analyst, but it doesn’t take one to point out how the Cards bats were just plain shut down by the Sox. D-Lowe was not giving them any rest after Pedro’s performance the night before. It was a 4 hit game.

It was disconcerting to watch Tony LaRussa’s in the indignity of the post-game interview, trying to keep his composure while looking like someone had just hit him in the gut and then the nose. People, have some decency and let the guy catch his wind back.

Seeing that personal bit of the aftermath and looking back at 8 post season games that weren’t flawless but where the Sox dug in, worked ( hard ) as a team, didn’t dwell on mistakes, it’s tempting to imagine them as possessed by some preternatural force — some fearsome talisman against which no curse could compete.

I heard inane radio commentary in the hour before the game. “The Red Sox will be just another team if they win this.”

Are you kidding me? They didn’t just win the World Series. They swept it. They never trailed.

A lot of people were waiting a lot longer than I have. A lot of people were more invested than I was, and more loyal. But you can’t grow up here and not have the Red Sox in your blood somewhere. So I ask, what were we waiting for? Were we waiting for a superstar to come and save us? A 21st century Bambino?

No. They showed us how a team believes in something bigger. They were not full of themselves. They united in one goal. And when they pulled together, they yanked a star out of the firmament for the long suffering fans. For that, their names will never be forgotten in New England. Despite my cynicism, I’m finding it damn inspirational.

Posted by James at 7:38 AM | Comments (21)

October 27, 2004


What crazy, screwed-up wonderful bizarro world is this???

Somewhere, the Bambino is saying, “You crazy bunch of idiots. You had it all wrong. There never was any curse. Click your heels together, Dorothy, you had the power all along.”

You know what? I think we won. I am stunned.

Posted by James at 11:57 PM | Comments (3)

Bush's One Fingered Salute

Check it out.

Here’s an animated gif.

Not safe for your kids. In fact, that could apply to the whole Bush presidency. I changed the image to a link so you would have some warning.

Posted by James at 7:31 PM | Comments (11)


Buying snacks for tonight at Stop & Shop, the fellow at the checkout was amazed at how few aisles they were going to have open tonight, and his friend pointed out that, after 8 or so, the place would be pretty much dead because of the game.

I said to him “What? There’s a game on tonight?”

Looking down at the register he started to say “Well, not until 8:00, it’s…” and then he trailed off as he looked up at my Sox cap and my idiot grin. I couldn’t resist. We both laughed.

18 years ago on a similar night I was working at a nearly empty Shaw’s in Fall River. I was mopping the floor of the bakery as we listened to a game over the PA system. You all know the rest of the story.

Posted by James at 6:58 PM

Bush's Excuse on Explosives Deemed "Impossible"

If someone tries to tell you that those 380 tons of high explosives went missing before the invasion, keep this in mind:

+Iraq says ‘impossible’ explosives taken before regime fall+

“It is impossible that these materials could have been taken from this site before the regime’s fall,” said Mohammed al-Sharaa, who heads the science ministry’s site monitoring department and previously worked with UN weapons inspectors under Saddam.

“The officials that were inside this facility (Al-Qaqaa) beforehand confirm that not even a shred of paper left it before the fall and I spoke to them about it and they even issued certified statements to this effect which the US-led coalition was aware of.”

Sharaa goes on to say that more sites may have been plundered and are now in the hands of bandits.

The administration seems to be scrambling to get their info from NBC and other news outlets… why is that? Do they have to watch TV like the rest of us to tell what happened during the invasion? There are people issuing certified statements that the explosives were there. They disappeared. Did we get their too late? Where are the administration officials issuing their own statements?

Posted by James at 3:23 PM | Comments (2)

October 26, 2004

Game 3: YAY!


FOX: LISTEN UP. WE’RE TRYING TO WATCH HISTORY BEING MADE. NOT SOME CHEAP COMEDY ROUTINE. To heck with Leon. You just don’t get it, Fox, do you? Is it possible you’re not making enough money off this game?

It occurs to me that Fox is now rooting against the Sox in game 4 because they don’t want the money train to come to a halt. My daughters can’t watch a whole game because you clowns can’t show a game in the afternoon, and we get to watch these inane interviews/comedy routines/advertisements during gameplay. Fox, you have no soul.

Don’t make me come down there. Really.

On the game itself, I almost feel bad for the Cards fans. People (Ryan) told me, “The Cardinals are a different team at home. They were playing under their ability.” True, but the Sox won 2 games with 8 errors. They were playing under their ability as well. And tonight we saw them rise to the challenge in a big way to almost completely shut out the Cardinals.

The ALCS taught us that 3 games does not end a series. History taught us not to count our chickens. But one thing cannot be denied: the Sox have the Cards in a pressure cooker. It can only lead to interesting baseball, I’m thinking.

Woohoo! GO SOX!

Posted by James at 11:40 PM | Comments (10)

Game 3 Annoyance

Will those Fox people stop harassing the fans? Do they think we’re so bored watching the game that we need to hear them ask stupid questions to fans who are obviously trying to watch the game.

Worse, when they’re talking to the managers you get the feeling that they’re distracting someone who is busy managing a team trying to win an extremely important game.

Pedro in the top of the 6th: “Hey! look at me! I’m on base in the World Series!!!” You go, Pedro!

Posted by James at 10:34 PM | Comments (11)

Rotating Banners For Truth

Chuck writes about how he is using the TrimShrub banners in rotation on Umbecoming Levity. I have used a modified version of the same script (my images are hosted differently). Thanks, Chuck, for the inspiration.

Posted by James at 9:42 PM | Comments (3)

Catholics: Don't Fool Yourselves

Steve has a good post on G. W. Bush and the Catholic Church. My comments are in the extended entry.

I’m basically highlighting Steve’s post here. Read his for a more complete treatment. But:

  • G.W. is not pro-life by the Catholic Church’s definition.
  • While G.W. does not support federal funding for embryonic stem cell research (a big mistake in the eyes of we folk who think this research can lead to huge leaps in life-saving medical tech) his words and actions support the continuation of activities that those morally opposed to embryonic stem cell research would still object to.
  • Based on their statements, G.W. and Kerry have basically the same stance on gay marriage. Kerry just doesn’t want to alter the U.S. Constitution.

If your argument against voting Kerry is on moral, Catholic grounds, G.W. doesn’t cut it on these issues. You then are led to looking at the balance of the candidates, and where they will lead America. That is for everyone to decide in their own individual way. But the points Steve is making show that this election cannot be oversimplified to a moral battle where one agrees with the Catholic Church and the other does not.

Just don’t fool yourselves. That’s all I ask.

Posted by James at 6:32 PM

Trimming the Shrubery

I’ve added a few more Bush banners to TrimShrub.com in the last few days. You can look at posts from earlier today to see the new ones, or just go to TrimShrub.com to catch the whole lot of them. Time is short, but more will be added as inspiration hits.

If any of the banners strikes you as particularly persuasive or funny, I urge you to go ahead and steal it for the purpose of getting other people to see it. It is now one week until the election, and this is a time period in which a surprising number of people will be making their decisions.

If you have an idea of your own, and you make a banner that you want to see here, give me a link to the image and I will display it on TrimShrub.com. One of the lagre banners already on that page is not mine (Mike created the one about inheritance).

I’m thinking about promotion and exposure. Not necessarily promotion of TrimShrub.com- I don’t really care about the domain. But exposure of the banners (the ideas in the banners) will communicate not just why we think Bush needs to go, but why swing voters ought to as well. It is too complicated to argue from scratch why Bush is bad for this country. An ad needs to play off what these voters already believe and feel. They know Bush has screwed up in Iraq. The challenge is getting him to take responsibility, and getting them to vote based on that feeling.

If you can display one of these banners somewhere, you never know who you might swing.

Posted by James at 9:26 AM | Comments (6)

Name That Movie 10

Movie Guess Image 1

Sorry for the poor quality of the images this week. I couldn’t use the computer for screencaps. For reasons that may or may not become clear, I had to make the images somewhat challenging. You won’t come close to getting this if you haven’t seen the movie. Second clue at Noon EST to give any early-bird west-coasters a shot if they’re checking the blog first thing in the morning.

Second clue:

Movie Guess Image 1

Movie Guess Image 1

Look in the comments when you’re ready for the answer.

Posted by James at 2:51 AM | Comments (20)


Please steal and make use of my banners if you can.

Posted by James at 1:41 AM


[Note: PMFL stands for “Program Monitoring and Fault Location.” It’s the group I was assigned to when I was working on CCS-MK2.]

Posted by James at 12:47 AM | Comments (3)

October 25, 2004

On Bush and Lighting

How many Bush administration officials does it take to change a light bulb?

None. There’s nothing wrong with that light bulb. There is no need to change anything. We made the right decision and nothing has happened to change our minds. People who criticize this light bulb now, just because it doesn’t work anymore, supported us when we first screwed it in, and when these flip-floppers insist on saying that it is burned out, they are merely giving aid and encouragement to the Forces of Darkness.

(Sent by Patti)

Posted by James at 1:51 PM | Comments (1)


This weekend I scouted locations for placing a new geocache. It won’t be long now before I have my first hide.

I’ve got some pictures from the general vicinity of my intended cache hide.

That photo on the right is from an overlook of a salt marsh. The location is in Dartmouth, MA, famous for its salt marshes.

The next image is of a polypore mushroom “Laetiporus sulphureus” - a so-called “Chicken Mushroom.” This edible mushroom can often be found in this area growing off the side of some tree.

I also saw some “little brown mushrooms.” Not a good idea to eat those; it’s too hard to determine exactly what they are. I think they’re “boletes” but not sure. Still, neat to look at.

While I was scouting, I came too close to the pond and startled some geese. A couple of swans, however, were unconcerned about my presence.

Click any of the photos for larger versions.

Posted by James at 9:51 AM | Comments (4)


Posted by James at 1:54 AM

October 24, 2004

Game 2: YAY!

We’re off to St. Louis with two games in the bank. Hooray!

As Varitek said after the game, “We need to focus on it pitch to pitch.” They’re not taking anything for granted.

Posted by James at 11:43 PM | Comments (1)

2 Out Damage

Two outs and men on? That seems to be when the Sox like to score their runs. A little nerve wracking, but also exciting. Despite 4 errors, Sox are up 6-1 in the bottom of the 7th before the first pitch.

Posted by James at 10:54 PM

Bush's Incompetence -> Terrorists Get Weapons of Destruction

The short version of the story:

There were 350 [metric] tons of high explosives [380 tons] in Iraq under seal by the International Atomic Energy Agency. So they weren’t of much danger to anyone.

In possibly the worst screw-up of the invasion and post-invasion time period, the Bush Administration did not prevent those same explosives from being plundered by people wishing to do harm to Americans.

The result? We’re seeing those same explosives in the hands of terrorists and insurgents. They are being used to kill our servicemen and women in Iraq (in car bombs, improvised explosive devices, etc.).

Further, the Bush administration has known this for over a year and, while they were in control of Iraq, did not notify the IAEA. Then they pressured the Iraqis not to tell the IAEA.

There are a number of reasons why you can imagine the White House and the civilians at the Pentagon wouldn’t want to inform the IAEA. But one pretty clear one is that letting the IAEA find out would pretty clearly mean that the American public would find out what a major league screw-up the president and his advisors had allowed to happen.

Only a couple weeks ago did the Iraqis finally report the theft to the IAEA. And from there it was only a matter of time till the yearlong cover-up started to unravel.

But it didn’t even stop there.

(source: Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: October 24, 2004 - October 30, 2004 Archives)

This is huge. Bush tells the bad guys “Bring it on”… with deadly weapons he allowed them to get their hands on. And then, the cover-up.

I have to agree with Josh Marshall: It’s a story that really brings together the adminstration’s two cardinal sins: dishonesty and incompetence.

President Bush, do you have no shame?

Posted by James at 10:48 PM | Comments (6)

Something Funny on SNL

In previous comments, Mike mentioned Jessica Ashlee Simpson’s WTF? moment in the musical guest segment on SNL last night.

If you missed it, through some screwup, Ms. Simpson’s lip synch track was not the one she expected. So, instead of performing, she danced around for a few seconds and then walked off stage. SNL cut to commercial.

Mistakes happen, but I found two things about this notable. First, why not just perform the song? Whatever happened to “the show must go on? Second, when she came out at the end of the show, she flat out blamed the bend. “My band played the wrong song.”

No, clearly there was some other screw up. Don’t blame the band. If it had been as simple as that (the whole band prepared to do one song and Ashlee out in left field) it shoudl have taken her a second or two to catch on and sing the song the band was playing.


Messenger Puppet blogged some links to the clip.

Clearly the music industry is in losing money because people pirate songs.

[Ryan corrected me. Somehow I can’t tell Ashlee and Jessica apart. No, it’s not because of any resemblance. It’s because I can’t muster the desire to care about telling them apart.]

Posted by James at 2:54 PM | Comments (10)

Chuck's Birthday

Mosey on over to Unbecoming Levity and wish Chuck a Happy Birthday, won’t you? The geezer is 37 years old.

Posted by James at 10:35 AM | Comments (11)


Cardinals second baseman Tony Womack was smacked with a ground ball in the left collarbone. Luckily for him, it doesn’t appear to be broken. I’ve broken that particular bone, and it smarts! It sure looked like he was in a good deal of pain as he made an effort to walk it off. What bad luck; the guy is just recovering from back spasms.

The crowd gave him a respectfully quiet moment as he exited the field, but there was some sort of music playing over the speaker system that didn’t really go with the moment. Aerosmith?

In any case, he says he’s ready to play again. Good for him.

Posted by James at 1:31 AM | Comments (2)

Game 1: YAY!

In depth coverage: Yay!

(I know my limits. I’m no Tim McCarver)

Posted by James at 12:14 AM | Comments (6)

October 23, 2004


George W. Bush incorrectly labelled my wolfpack
as a terrorist threat. We are NOT terrorists. We do
not associate with terrorists (unless you count that
pesky wolverine) and FRANKLY, we don’t even like


WolfpacksforTruth.org: The Real Story on George Bush’s “Wolves” Commercial (Found via TPM)

Posted by James at 9:07 AM

October 22, 2004

Weekend Plans Are A Joke

What do you call 25 men sitting at home watching the World Series on a Saturday night?

The New York Yankees.

Yeah, I know it’s obvious. But it’s still funny. And it got me when I read it on Sara’s blog. I shamelessly stole it because it bears repeating. File it under “funny because it’s true.”

Posted by James at 9:54 PM

Turn Off The Spigots

Menino was considering a prohibition on alcohol during the World Series in Boston, but has since backed off on the threat.

(Saw this first on Steve’s blog)

So, they’re floating all sorts of trial balloons on how to control the crowds during what promises to be a very exciting and inciting series.

We’re an intelligent bunch. Let’s hear some suggestions for the mayor on how to deal with the exuberance and destructiveness of Boston fandom. I’ll start you off.

  • Prohibit alcohol sales during the games. Allow the sale and consumption of marijuana.Crowds will be too mellow to riot.
  • Free alcohol given to Red Sox fans, but use it to lure drunk patrons into a big lobster trap where they will be unable to riot.
  • Have FOX news broadcast that the Red Sox already won the World Series last week. If they repeat it enough, people will believe it and there will be no reason to riot because the win will be too far in the past.
  • Protect police from rioters by issuing them “Yankees Suck” T-Shirts, which will confuse the rioters.
  • Bomb and invade Worcester, taking the fight to the rioters there so you don’t have to fight the rioters in Boston.
  • Instead of a pregame show, broadcast political speeches. Lull the crowds to sleep.
  • Two words: Daytime. Games. Added bonus, kids can watch the games.

OK, your turn.

Posted by James at 4:11 PM | Comments (9)

UMD Arrest Stories

Here is some more reportage on the UMass Dartmouth ALCS-night incident

[Update: Added a reference to the Torch. I haven’t had a chance to read the whole thing yet, but it should provide some interesting details. I’m bumping this story to the top, as the Torch is a much more in-depth story.]

The Herald Report says:

The overzealous celebration Wednesday night followed similar acts that occurred Tuesday night. Hoey said 19 students were given an interim suspension after Tuesday night’s Game 6 win. The students have been removed from their classes and on-campus living. Those students will be entitled to a hearing, he added. He said similar actions will likely be taken against the students arrested Wednesday night.

20 were arrested, and the fellow I know has not been given an interim suspension. He has been kicked out of housing, but he is still allowed to attend classes. So perhaps he is the one out of the 20. He was also not charged with disorderly conduct, so that probably has something to do with it.

I don’t have sympathy for people who overturn a car or dumpster, and people who destroy windows and light posts. But I’m getting info from reliable sources that things are not nearly as clear as these stories make them out to be.

We’re talking about a group of students in the middle of the dorms. How do you distinguish between students celebrating, students hanging around, students who are about to take part in malicious mischief and students just passing through to get to the dorms? The answer appears to be “use the dogs and pepper balls and let God sort them out.” Further, I’m hearing that the police were blocking access to the newer dorm buildings. The students were surrounded, some with nowhere to go.

If the order to disperse had been clearly given, why am I hearing from reliable people that they never heard such an order, nor did they see police with megaphones? Sure, when the police order you to disperse, you know what’s about to come next and you get the heck out of there. But what if there was no dispersal order effectively given? What if, in your effort to get out of the area, you run smack into a truncheon or attack dog? What if you’re blocked from your dorm, or your dorm is locked down?

I wasn’t there, but I’m talking to people who were there and it’s not coinciding with what the papers are reporting.

Update 12:17 PM

The Torch story has filled in some holes. I can’t help but sympathize somewhat with the police, here, though I don’t think their approach is working. It’s clear that these riot are going to happen, and the idea that they would not have happened at all without police intervention is disputed by history.

The police may have exacerbated the riot in their attempts to control it. Quickly, a chaotic situation developed where troublemaker and innocent alike were embroiled.

As others have said, it’s too bad this has to taint an historic Red Sox victory. The fault falls squarely on the numbskulls who would use any occasion as an excuse to engage in property-damaging activities. And in a group of easily-incited college students (remember being a college student?) this is a recipe for disaster.

Posted by James at 12:09 PM | Comments (2)

Damn You, Spam

I blew away a few (6, to be specific) legitimate comments while dealing with a new barrage of spam this morning. This is also why the shotgun post has not yet gone up. I have recreated the comments from backup copies. Unfortunately, I cannot easily restore the correct order of some of the comments. Apologies to all.

Posted by James at 11:30 AM | Comments (4)

Post-ALCS Shotgun

In the afterglow of an amazing series, I give you… links.

  • Just Do It (Short, Advertisement, Red Sox)
    • Nike commercial pays tribute to the dreams of Red Sox fans. I’m not a real fan of advertising, but this short sounds a sappy note that is somewhat irresistible.
  • Lie Girls (Short, Political)
    • Not “Live Girls” but lie girls. They’re GOP vixens, and they’ll tell you what you want to hear.
  • Pimp My Stroller (How To)
    • Be the envy of the other infants.
    • Found via David
  • Media Sees Both Sides (Political Cartoon)
    • Ahhh - that’s what fair and balanced means.
  • The Catholic Voting Project presents Cafeteria Catholics (Political, Religious)
  • Jon Stewart Owns Crossfire (TV Clip)
    • If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s JS owning Tucker Carlson.
  • Votergasm (Political)
    • Pledge to withhold sex from non-voters for a week after the election. Or to have sex with a voter. Or become an American Hero by having sex with a voter on election night and withholding sex from non-voters for the next four years.
    • Found via Chuck’s ULev
  • Sinclair Boycott (Political)
    • This is the page organizing the boycott of Sinclair for its plans to sway the election by flexing its programming muscle… on loan from you, the citizenry of this country.
  • Micro-Claymore (How-To)
    • Make this semi-dangerous weapon out of office supplies.
  • 10 Geekiest Hobbies (Article)
    • OK, I’ve had a lot of these hobbies. But I can still laugh about their analysis. It’s way off in many places, but I still got a giggle out of it.
  • Fark: Photoshop O’Reilly’s New Book (Humor, Images)
    • More fun than you can shake a falafel vibrator loofa at.
  • Wrath II (Game)
    • It’s carnage for carnage’s sake. You’re god. Blow up the faithful and faithless alike. And the cows. Stress relief. Ultra violence, cartoon-style.
Posted by James at 11:24 AM | Comments (9)

‘Cult Killer’ Still Clear As Mud

A former prosecution witness whose testimony at Carl Drew�s 1981 murder trial doomed the convicted “cult killer” to life in prison began telling a very different story Thursday of the events surrounding the mysterious slaying of Fall River prostitute Karen Marsden. (The Herald News)

Will we ever know exactly what happened to Karen Marsden? The previous story was about a murder that took place in the Westport woods, and a head being used like a soccer ball. But now…

“We never went to the Westport woods,” Fletcher testified. “That never happened.”

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

Posted by James at 9:35 AM

October 21, 2004

UMD Police, Sox Fan Students Clash

Minutes after last night’s Red Sox win, riot police dispersed an unruly mob of UMass Dartmouth students that flocked into a campus courtyard, broke windows, overturned a light post and lobbed firecrackers and smoke bombs into police ranks. There were reports of as many as 20 UMD students arrested for disorderly conduct. (New Bedford Standard Times)

This is not quite the way I heard it.


As I understand, somewhere between 17-20 students were arrested including the brother of a friend and coworker. In his specific case, he was cited for “failure to disperse” and faces a number of repercussions. I am just now learning that all the students arrested are barred from the campus dormitories. They have been kicked off campus, as far as housing is concerned.

This was not just the campus police. There were a number of “homeland security” and riot control RV-type vehicles on campus from campus police, local municipalities and the Bristol County law enforcement organizations. Something like a small army, by the sound of it.

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

My friend’s brother’s story sounds like one that could happen to just about anyone. He’s a student at UMass Dartmouth, and the sort of student that is well-liked by the professors here. At least one has said he’ll vouch for the young man. And, while alcohol can cause even mild-mannered folk to get into trouble, he’d only had one beer.

The situation began with students pouring out of the campus pub, mingling with those who had already begun to celebrate outside. But what turned a celebrator crowd into a mob?

People I know who were on the scene tell me that there was no order to disperse. There were no announcements given to the crowd and it was fairly calm. According to a friend, the police began by trying to take pictures of the students’ faces. After that, it’s a little unclear what happened. But my impression is that there may have been some troublemakers in the crowd, and the police adopted a “shock and awe” approach to subduing the crowd, which was not a mob, nor a riot at first.

All Hell Breaks Loose

That changed when the stun grenades began to explode. There are stories of the police throwing a number of these grenades, which cause a flash of light and a loud report. Of course, this gets the attack dogs quite excited. It’s also reported that students were pelted with pepper balls - the nasty big brother of the air-propelled paint ball. These are the same guns the police were playing with out behind our office.

I am hearing that there was no effort to peacefully disperse the crowd, leading to a situation where people who were not causing trouble were caught in the middle. In fact, it sounds clear that the tactics used allowed actual trouble makers time to run, while those students who didn’t feel they were doing anything wrong (and therefore didn’t feel the need to run like hell) were left as easy targets. And the police went after the easy targets with relish, unleashing with their snazzy new equipment. This situation is not far-fetched. I’m told that a New Bedford police officer told the families of the arrested students that he was confident he knew what had happened. The troublemakers had run and the police had grabbed the flat-footed bystanders.


Back to my friend’s brother. He got in between an officer and a girl they were about to push. The girl was a soccer player who had a torn ACL which was soon to be operated on. The student tried to prevent the girl from being knocked over, explaining about her injury. At that point, he was grabbed and dragged to one of the paddy wagons. No one here believes he did anything to threaten the officer, or to participate in any riot. I’ve seen this fellow in a party situation, and he is not the rowdy type. Even at a raucous party. He’s not charged with doing anything specific, or attacking an officer. “Failure to disperse.” As far as I know, no one was given instructions to disperse. If a stun grenade is a command to disperse, it’s pretty nonspecific.

I’m told that some students who turned and attempted to vacate the area (i.e. disperse) ran into police. Sounds like a “fog of war” situation, with one side in riot gear, using dogs and nightsticks at the least.

Sadly, my friend’s brother is now in a tough situation. He was in the middle of a campus police debacle and will pay for it. I understand it is the police’s responsibility to prevent riots from getting out of hand, but it is tough to see how their gung-ho attitude is helping things. They seem to eager to use their new gadgets n students, and I don’t see any effort to prevent trouble, just the willingness to dive in with guns a-blazing once trouble has started. Perhaps students could have been informed upon leaving the pub that congregating outside was not going to be tolerated.

What Now?

I’ll be interested to see the full story as it becomes available (presumably tomorrow on the Standard Times website). I’m told that the press were not allowed to get too close to the fracas. A student I know was interviewed for the evening news, and he wisely made his way to where the press were — less likely to become the target of a zealous police force. While the press did not get pictures, it’s almost certain that there are student photos and, perhaps, videotape.

Posted by James at 5:21 PM | Comments (7)

No Way. NO WAY!

  • Damon is the man.
  • Yankees suck.
  • Who’s your daddy? Hmmm?
  • The champagne is flowing.
  • Someone down the street is shooting off fireworks.
  • World Series, baby. See you Saturday.
  • Grand slam. See #1.
  • Four in a row. Improbable? Yes. Impossible? Not for this team.
  • Not even A-Rod’s Judo Chop could save the Yankees.
  • Worst implosion in post season history.

[Morning Update:]

[Other Bloggers:]

Posted by James at 12:08 AM | Comments (5)

October 20, 2004


That was awesome. Especially the part with all the angry Yankee fans after the umpires corrected their call on ARod and his “creative” running style and ball-swatting prowess.

But, just awesome to behold. Amazing work by Schilling. The Fox commentators couldn’t stop talking about Francona taking him off the mound after 7 excellent innings. They spent half an inning coming back to it again. And again. And again.

See you for game 7.

Posted by James at 12:14 AM | Comments (11)

October 19, 2004

TV in Distress

An Oregon man discovered earlier this month that his year-old Toshiba Corporation flat-screen TV was emitting an international distress signal picked up by a satellite, leading a search and rescue operation to his apartment in Corvallis, Oregon, 70 miles south of Portland. (CNN)

Even funnier, the authorities told him he’d face a stiff fine if he kept using that TV which transmitted the signal. Maybe he can sell it to someone with a boat.

Posted by James at 12:16 PM

Wrong on the Vote

Interesting to note that, at this time in 2000, the polls all swung to favor Bush by 10%. You may remember that Bush did not win by 10%. In fact, he lost the popular vote.

Still worried about the polls? Flip a coin and get an answer you can have some real confidence in. I’m worried about the uncertainty, not the polls.

Posted by James at 8:59 AM

Baseball and Apple Pie

I was checking up on the game via MLB Game Day. Maggie thought hits was silly, so we went over to watch the game in the 10th inning, thinking it would be over in about 5 minutes. It is extremely unusual for Maggie to be on the couch watching TV for as long as she was, and unheard of for a sports event.

Of course, we were there for quite a while. David Ortiz was extremely accommodating, batting in the winning run just as the clock struck 11PM, which led right into The Daily Show. John Jon Stewart has really got his dander up lately, hasn’t he?

After that, I cut up apples for a pie. I can’t say I’m impressed with store-bought pie crusts, but I thought I’d try them out. They say they’re 9 inch crusts, and they are 9 inches wide, but not as deep nor as wide at the bottom as my Pyrex pie plates. That means fewer apples fit in the damned pie. It sure is easy to make a pie, though, if you’re not rolling out the crust. It feels more like assembling than baking when someone has made the crust for me. A pastry is comprised of filling and a pastry crust. If you really want to be the pie, you have to roll out that crust. Even when I’ve made some mistake, like leaving off the salt, my homemade crusts have been better than store-bought.

So, practically speaking, what does it mean when you bake a pie in the middle of the night and leave it to cool in the refrigerator?

It means: pie for breakfast.

Posted by James at 8:27 AM | Comments (2)

October 18, 2004

Name That Movie 9

Name That Movie 9 is here and ready for your guesses. Feast your eyes, takes your shots, and a second clue is on its way sometime around 11AM EST.

Name That Movie 9  Image 1

Read on for the next clue…

Name That Movie 9  Image 2

Final clue:

Name That Movie 9  Image 2

Posted by James at 10:18 AM | Comments (16)

Flew Weekend

This weekend flew by. And you won’t be hearing much about geocaching, because I only picked up one this weekend. However, I may have scouted the location for my own first geocache.

We spent Saturday at Old Sturbridge Village. This used ot be a yearly trip, but we haven’t gone now in a few years. If you’ve never been, I encourage you to make a visit. It’s a great active museum of New England’s past. It’s always been a good visit, but this time we noticed that they’ve opened up a lot more of the museum to visitors and made other parts more interactive than in past years.

I had a whopping headache upon leaving, and so the rest of Saturday is not worth reporting, as I spent it semi-comatose once we got home.

Sunday, the girls had a piano recital which meant we missed Somerset’s big celebration day the Musictown Parade — the capstone event of the Musictown festival.

The recital was a long affair, and continuing the legacy of equipment failure, my video camera battery died during Mattie’s performance. The girls performed quite well and were real troopers during the 2 1/2 hour event, sitting there patiently. But I don’t think we’ll be sitting through one of those in its entirety again. 2 1/2 hours is altogether too long.

The location was a new one. In previous years, recitals have been at a Unitarian Universalist church in Fall River. This one was at some other sort of church in Tiverton. I’m not certain whether it was a Baptist church, but at any rate the pastor had generously donated the venue and, I believe, refreshments for the intermission. It was a very dramatic room and looked like what you might see on a religious television broadcast. In fact, part of what made it a good venue for a recital was that it was completely wired for sound, and was a complete, working television/recording studio.

I noticed that they also had a projector anchored far up on the ceiling, and the projection screen had been lowered. This stuck me as odd until I realized that it must be obscuring a depiction of the crucifixion behind it. Perhaps the pastor was trying to be accommodating.

In any case, the spot was a place of worship, but it was hard not to notice that it was also a place of politics, which turned me right off. Literature in the back of the hall had a religious right bent to it, including stuff from Rush Limbaugh! The Unitarian Church, which has a considerably more liberal leaning, never appeared to have liberal literature displayed prominently about. Imagine seeing flyers for Air America Radio, or Al Franken’s latest book in church. Nutzoid.

At the end of the event, a really accomplished and talented student performed a challenging piece which we really enjoyed. Directly after that, the pastor gave us his “closing statement” or whatever you might call it. He began to expound upon how we had witnessed the incredible gift that god had given these students. At this point what he was saying became somewhat of a hum and I heard:

Blah blah, blah blah god blah blah. Blah blah god, blah god, blah blah, blah. Blah, blah blah god blah. Blah blah blah god, blah blah, blah.

Basically, for those that can’t understand my filter, it wasn’t good enough that these students had applied themselves, some of whom practice 4 hours a day. Somehow it was important for us to internalize that this we really had god to thank. Then he implied that god had given us such good brains that we could all perform like that fellow who is the star of every one of these recitals.

Sorry, but what? I have a good deal of unused musical talent. More than the average. And I know that I do not have the dexterity to play piano like this fellow. The guy is talented and dedicated, and that is real inspiration. Find what you’re good at and apply yourself as he has applied himself.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that, even as an atheist, I don’t have much of a problem with god. It’s a few of his fan clubs that really tick me off.

Posted by James at 8:36 AM | Comments (18)

October 16, 2004

A Mother's Exploitation

Steve brings up the outrage over Kerry mentioning Ms. Cheney in the debate.

Appropriately, he ends his short and accurate post with:

Ok, now everyone just shut up.

But of course now I have to post about it. I’d preface this with a sigh, but I’m trying to save up just in case Kerry loses the election.

It’s somewhat unrealistic that Kerry might hope to gain a supposed Bush-supporter-homophobic vote. It assumes that this person is so fixated on the issue that they would switch their vote based on the Veep’s daughter. And even though they are fixated on the issue, they have somehow missed the other public and nationally televised mentions of Mary Cheney’s sexual preference. It’s possible that Kerry believes this, but I doubt it.

It is much more plausible it was a tactic to get Bush off balance.So it was a debate tactic.

Emotionally, I feel the mention of her name struck a false note, mainly because it seemed out of place. Realistically, what is the big deal? Ms. Cheney is not some political innocent, unconnected to the campaign. She’s been in the trenches — and specifically regarding to this issue — for quite a while now.

Furthermore, as Steve mentions, Cheney has brought up his daughter’s sexual preference himself on occasion. In a political context.

So, what are they outraged about, exactly? That Kerry would use the word “lesbian?” That only the Cheney’s are allowed to mention their daughter’s name?

The same folks who traded those pictures of Kerry’s daughter whose dress was suddenly rendered translucent under the glare of flashbulbs are now wringing their hands in woe and shaking their fists over the mere mention of Cheney’s daughter.

“But wait,” you say. “You can say that about right wing bloggers, but what about her Lynne Cheney’s pain as a mother?” If some sort of damage was done to Ms. Cheney, I wish someone would point it out to me.

And I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney’s daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she’s being who she was, she’s being who she was born as.

If someone ever says that sort of thing about me, that I am being who I was born as, boy—you just wait to hear my anguish. I’ll be sitting outside, rending my garments and wailing. And holy cow, if my parents ever find out… well, it won’t be pretty.

I’d say “I’ve seen it all” but it makes me afraid at what mock indignation is waiting around the next corner. If Kerry had lied about Cheney’s daughter, or even criticised her, I’d be right there with those who are offended.

Let’s say that the issue had been alcoholism and Kerry had said something like “even though the president’s daughter appears to be alcoholic, her family still loves her…” or something along those lines. I would have to agree—there is something wrong with taking advantage of a weaknesses in the president/vice president’s family to try to knock the president off balance in the debate. There would be something wrong with outing her, wrongly accusing her of being an alcoholic, or taking advantage of her disease.

Thing is, Kerry didn’t do that. Homosexuality is not comparable to alcoholism. But among those who believe it is, their indignation is telling. Back in reality, Kerry’s false note is about as damning as mispronouncing “nuclear.” It comes down to one awkward debate moment with no repercussions except the opportunity for Bush to take advantage of a possible Kerry backlash.

Kerry’s mention of Ms. Cheney doesn’t rise to the treatment it’s getting. The lasting phenomenon of disingenuous outrage is going to be the real stain here, if it lingers.

If Kerry loses the election over this joke, we’ll have a fun four years to discuss how we are all still offended by the above comment which is just in such poor taste.

This election will surely drive me to alcoholism.

Posted by James at 2:12 AM | Comments (4)

October 15, 2004

This Is My Shotgun

There are many like it, but this one is mine.

Those from whom I stole the links will have to excuse me; I can’t remember where they all came from this week. I know many of the usual suspects were involved. And a few came from Mike, for sure.

  • Al Gore, by Monkey Bowl (Song)
    • Funny song about Al Gore. iremember where I got this one. Bil.
  • Instant Mess (Short Film)
    • Great little short about our instant messaging culture. Kids today! Anyone remember old school (literally) PHONE on the VAX? Mike, you remember the fun of contacting other campuses for the first time, and the rude response we got?
  • National Maps Online (Maps)
    • Good source for maps of congressional districts.Look under “printable maps.” Lots of good stuff there.
  • Dad’s Home (Animation)
    • Obligatory weird Shotgun day Flash animation. Dad comes home and goes wild, Cat-in-the-Hat style. Everything is saved in the end by rocking hard.
  • VidLit (Animation)
    • Stories/Essays told with words and pictures. Like music videos for stories.
  • Bubbie vs. the GOP (Animation)
    • Bubbie will take care of the GOP.
  • Alpine Butterfly (Handy Knots)
    • Learn to tie the Alpine Butterfly. It’s easy, fun and it may come in handy someday.
    • It’s for making a stable, non-jamming loop in a rope without having access to the ends of the rope.
  • TheFreeDictionary.com (Reference)
    • Dictionary. Online. Different subjects.
  • Crazymofo.com’s List of Worst Movie Villains, with ratings (List)
  • Multi-Lingual Text-To-Speech (Audio)
    • Text-to-speech is always hours of fun. This site makes WAVs for you. Make a fun one and post it on your website.
Posted by James at 11:16 AM | Comments (6)

Bush Doesn't

Bush Doesn't


A couple of new banners I just added to TrimShrub.com. Feel free to display them on your own website.

Posted by James at 1:48 AM | Comments (5)

October 14, 2004

Presidential Debate 3

Bush was back to twitchy again, but not as bad as the first debate. He started out without that Furious George barking, but as the night wore on his frustration wore through. The rumors of Bush wearing a wire, while implausible, are at least understandable when you experience his oddly stilted delivery. Why does he pause like that? My only explanation is that he’s reading his notes, or picturing them in his mind, or something like that. But it didn’t come off as presidential.

Kerry was very even throughout, though he held back on the humor until the end. When Bush joked, the audience seemed confused half of the time. Kerry got a laugh every time (though he made fewer attempts.)

On the substance, Kerry accused Bush right off the bat of saying that he didn’t think much about Osama. Bush just flat-out denied it. Unfortunately, he did say it. I have to imagine the Democrats will make a lot of hay out of this.

Bush was caught flat-footed on the vaccine question, but Kerry didn’t answer it either. Bush seemed constantly on the defensive and was not able to gain much momentum criticising Kerry except by tagging him with the “L” word, even draggign Senator Kennedy into the fray, which elicited a small chuckle from Kerry. In Massachusetts, it’s known that Kennedy and Kerry are not the best of friends, but they have worked together. It must seem quite ironic to Kerry, to be subjected to some sort of guilt by association with Kennedy.

Kerry calmly trounced the silly “global test” BS and responded to the idea that he doesn’t take terrorism seriously by reiterating that, in fact, he’ll hunt them down and destroy them.

So, yes, I think Kerry came out ahead on that debate. I have no idea how an undecided voter would see it. On each debate I have felt more and more that Kerry would make a decent president. Bush scares me more and more. Some of his words may be folksy, but when he’s not angry, he’s twitchy. I’d rather have a beer with Kerry, if that is any sort of litmus.

The democrats have a new ad “Exaggeration” which juxtaposes the lie with the footage of him saying what he said.

Why is it that this administration finds it so easy to lie about their actions? I’d have trouble believing this guy if he told me it was raining outside, if I thought he had something to gain by it.

Posted by James at 9:12 AM | Comments (2)

October 13, 2004

Lots of political stuff

Obviously, at the election draws nearer, there are a lot of politic-related stories floating around. You’d think I’d be posting like mad about my outrage at some of them. Honestly, I don’t have the energy at the moment, and I have been extremely disappointed lately at some of the rhetoric going back and forth. I figured I’d throw a post up here to round up a few of these stories as they are going by, and give people a chance to comment, if they like.


One big story is the Sinclair Group mandating that its local stations play an extended Swift Boat Veterans Anti-Kerry ad disguised as a Vietnam retrospective. Josh Marshall has been all over this story. And now Kos has a clearinghouse for info on the situation.

Related stories:

If you’ve been keeping up with TPM, you know that applying pressure to the local businesses who advertise on the Sinclair affiliates is having an effect. Many advertisers disagree with Sinclair’s move, and many just don’t want ot be associated with it.

The Debate

I won’t be watching the debate live tonight, and so that means I won’t be live blogging my comments with Chuck either. I have other plans.I’ll probably tape it and catch it afterwards. Nothing quite so exciting as watching a taped presidential debate.

Election Dirty Tricks

They’re tossing out Democrats in Nevada.

The I-Team has obtained information about an alleged widespread pattern of potential registration fraud aimed at Democrats. The focus of the story is a private registration company called Voters Outreach of America, AKA America Votes.

The out-of-state firm has been in Las Vegas for the past few months, registering voters. It employed up to 300 part-time workers and collected hundreds of registrations per day, but former employees of the company say that Voters Outreach of America only wanted Republican registrations.

Two former workers say they personally witnessed company supervisors rip up and trash registration forms signed by Democrats.

Can you believe it?

The Bulge

Stories about Bush being wired in the first debate didn’t interest me much. I don’t think he was wired, and soon after I saw news stories that reported people having heard some other voice when listening to Bush speak at rallys. Those news stories turned out to be fabricated, so I left the “wired” stories go as mere tinfoil hattery.

However, new pictures from the second debate can be found on Political Animal and elsewhere, showing an odd bulge under Bush’s jacket when he moves his arms forward, tightening the fabric.

To my eyes, it looked like some sort of bulletproof vest. Why would the White House refuse to talk about it?I still thought perhaps it was nothing, but there is another photo of Bush in a T-shirt. A similar bulge is seen there. No reason for him to be wearing a wire in this photo, so I think it rules out a wire. But there is something there. My guess is it is either a physical abnormality, a piece of medical equipment, or a piece of protective equipment. However, the White House will not acknowledge it. From the photos, it would seem obvious there is something there. But we may never know what it is.

And this story probably has zero political impact, unless it is something that might interfere with his ability to act as president. Yes, there are plenty of more important stories, but it’s nice to take a break from Bush lying and screwing us over to look at something just plain weird like this.


You will not believe the complaint against Bill O’Reilly. Harassment against a former Fox employee.It’s plain bizarre. I first saw this on Oliver Willis’ blog (The Harassment Factor) and Willis points us to a particular page of the complaint, where Bill spills his tropical fantasy. This is so out there that she’s going to need tapes or some corroboration. Imagine if she does have tapes. Would anyone listen to O’Reilly again?

Well, it makes amusing reading anyhow. And it couldn’t happen to a nicer network talking head.

BONUS: O’Reilly has an unhealthy fixation on Al Franken:

If you cross FOX NEWS Channel, it’s not just me, it’s Roger Alies who will go after you. I’m the street guy make loud noises about the issues, but Alies operates behind the scenes, strategies and makes things happen so one day BAM! That person gets what’s coming to them but never sees it coming. Look at Al Franken, one day he is going to get a knock on his door and life as he’s known it will change forever. That day will happen trust me.

That’s all for now. Feel free to discuss. Now, sadly, I need a drink.

Posted by James at 3:04 PM | Comments (4)

October 12, 2004


Jack2004, originally uploaded by drmomentum.

Posted by James at 11:38 PM | Comments (6)

Name That Movie 8

Take a shot at this new Name That Movie. Guess away. Same plan as before. If I feel the game is up and there is consensus on the answer, I’ll confirm. Otherwise, I’ll soon provide a second clue.

Here is the second image:

Posted by James at 8:00 AM | Comments (19)

October 11, 2004

October 10, 2004

Falling With Style

And I thought geocaching was fun.

This weekend I took advantage of the generous offer of a couple of local geocachers. “RLahti” and “Downy288” like to hang around on cliffs and hide geocaches there. But not many of the local geocachers had the knowledge and equipment to safely retrieve these caches.

To solve this problem they have invited the entire geocaching community to meet them at a cliff in Swansea for lessons in rappelling. This is where they like to test out their skills and equipment, and they can be found there fairly frequently when the weather is nice. They set up a scheduled clinic (known as an “event cache” to geocachers because showing up and going through the lessons qualifies you to log your participation in this event as a cache find.

This was my first event cache and my first time ever throwing myself off the side of a cliff. How did it go? Read on.

I got a little bit of a late start on the morning, but I was headed to the location at about 9:45 AM. If you’re going to show up late, show up with food to share. It’s a good motto. I grabbed a Dunkin’ Donuts “Box o’ Joe” and headed to Swansea.

So, what’s in a Box o’ Joe? It’s a box filled with coffee. It is also another box filled with coffee cups, stirrers and handfuls of sugar and sugar substitutes. Finally it is another cup full of cream. The second box fit in my pack, which meant I was left with the coffee in one hand and the cream in the other. And I had to find a cliff and hike up it. I had no hand for the GPSr.

Getting In

IMPORTANT NOTE: When carrying coffee, no hands free and no GPSr, stick to the trail. For some reason, I did not do this. Actually, I was familiar with the trail up to a point, but Bushwhack Burke decided to guess (wrong) and take another trail which turned out not to be a trail. But better than that, it “led” me to a small brook. The brook would have been a mere annoyance with two hands free. With no hands free and an uneven load it was nearly impassible. Some kind soul had placed a log across the brook. The log was now slick and the sole of my boot skidded across it when I tested the footing.


But I was too smart to turn back and try the actual trail. I was late after all. And if I made it across, it would somehow erase the silly mistake of going off trail at the wrong point. I made a few awkward attempts at crossing on the log but did not feel secure. Finally, I found a footing that would allow me to launch myself across and land on solid ground. I was a little worried about slipping, but there is always some risk in jumping.

I jumped, and planted one foot solidly in thick mud that yielded fully over my ankle. I immediately effected a makeshift second jump and then walked to a clear spot where I could assess the damage. Gear and food were intact. Boot was still dry inside, but covered with wet mud. I used some leaves to clean off my boot and jeans. Onward!

Another reason you follow the trail is that there are fewer cliffs to traverse. I’m OK with rocks most of the time, but I like to have my hands free. It wasn’t too long before I could hear voices in the distance, which is a sign better than any that a GPSr can give you. Up the big rock I went as I hard someone yell “Hello there!”

New Friends

That’s when I met a bunch of new folks. On the net, they’re known by their geocaching handles. “RLahti” and “Downy288” were hosting the event. I got to meet “juneebug” who was there, as I was, as a novice. Also in attendance was “Pandagram.” I offered them the coffee and then sat to listen to what was going on.

Ron (RLahti) was talking about safety and equipment as John (Downy288) continued to prepare the ropes for the 60 ft. descent. The ropes were attached to webbing which was securely wrapped around a couple of hardy trees that were growing out of the hill at the summit. John took me around and showed me how they had managed the anchors so that I could be comfortable with the preparations.

All the time, Ron stressed that they would not allow us to do things beyond what we had learned, and that we weren’t going near the cliff edge without being anchored to one of the ropes. Wire gate carabiners connected to some webbing were used as a safety for anyone approaching the edge or getting ready for a descent.

After witnessing a couple of descents, we were taken to an area where they’s set up a 10 foot drop for practicing. We donned some spare padded harnesses that they had brought. The harness is used to distribute your weight to your thighs and waist so that it is safe and comfortable when the rope is supporting you. Juneebug and I both learned how to thread the ropes (we were using double ropes) through an ATC belay device and secure it to our harnesses with a screw-lock carabiner. The carabiner which connects you to the rope has red markings on the screw lock to remind you that it needs to be tightened before it is safe “If you see red, you’re dead.” When the gate is screwed shut properly the red markings are no longer visible and it is secure.

To The Edge

Ron explained how one hand is just a guide on the rope, and the other hand manages how the rope is fed through the belay device. Very little effort is needed to stop oneself because of this device. You simply tighten your grip on the rope and you come to a stop. As you pull the rope behind you away from your rear end, you begin to descend faster. Pull it back towards you and tighten your grip and you find yourself stopping again. With the thick ropes we were using, movement would be reassuringly slow.

After checking my gear, I approached the 10 foot edge for the first time. I shouted “On Rappel!”

Equipment and Teamwork

Rappelling is the process of descending on a fixed rope according to Wikepedia. It is also known as “abseiling” and “roping down.” It is used by rock climbers when they want to return to a lower location, by cavers, by rescuers who lower themselves down to those who need to be rescued, and by geocachers who want to reach a cache on a cliff face when there is no other safe manner of reaching and replacing it.

Rappelling uses a fixed rope (or ropes) anchored above you. Your equipment allows you to connect to the ropes at any point. The descender/belay device keeps you on the rope, absorbs and dissipates the heat of friction caused by your descent, and allows you or someone else to stop yourself if necessary.

A rappeller can descend alone, because he has complete control over his descent. However, we were using a “fireman’s belay.” The person acting as the belay merely has to tug on the rope and the rappeller’s descent is interrupted. This will stop a fall, or prevent a fall.

Since you have a situation in which people are working together, and safety is an issue, you need to be able to communicate swiftly and accurately. In the case of climbing and rappelling there are a number of verbal signals that the person on the rope uses to communicate with a person providing a belay. “On Rappel!” tells the belay that you are connected to the rope and about to descend. The belay should respond “Belay On!” to signify that he is taking responsibility for the life of the climber should the descent need to be halted. Hearing this tells you someone is looking out for you below and you can begin your descent.

Test Descent

As I eased over the edge, I tried to position myself as Ron had described. My feet were out in front of me, perpendicular to the rock and my upper body was just about parallel to the rock face. This position allows your weight to be supported in the thighs by the harness. If you’re doing it right you suddenly feel you’re sitting in a very secure seat. Once I achieved that position I felt very comfortable. I worked my way down slowly so that I could get used to the technique.

The feeling was great! It was just like walking backwards down a rock.Juneebug and I had a couple more practices, then we were eager to try the 30 foot rock face. Around that time Wreck Diver had arrived with his daughter and a young woman who I believe was Lhollo777. WD was there to test out some new rescue gear which I believe he did on the 60 foot face.

A light rain began to fall, but it didn’t look like it was going to last, so we prepared for the 30’. We hid our gear and electronics under a rock overhang. Ironically, on relatively flat earth I banged my knee here just as I was stuffing my pack under the rock. Otherwise, I could have said the day concluded without a scratch on my part.

The 30’ descent was in 2 parts. A sheer 30’ drop and then a second, less steep descent for about 30’ which we practiced with a single rope through our belay devices. It was just like doing the 10’ face except for a frightening jog at the beginning which caused one to have to compensate by swinging to one side a bit.

Wreck Diver and his daughter left when the rain started to look like it might stay, but soon after that is slowed to nearly nothing. We were lucky, and we hoped that our luck would continue to hold. A taste of the 30’ and we knew we wanted to try the 60’.

It was around that time that “Chickmunk” arrived with her daughter, a young girl who was a wall climber in the girl scouts but was not experienced in rappelling. They practiced a bit with the single rope while we contemplated the 60’.

Don’t Look Down

When I had first arrived, I was just hoping to learn a thing or two about ropes, equipment and knots. I wasn’t sure rappelling was for me. I don’t have a huge fear of heights, but I think I have a healthy enough fear of them.

I looked over the edge of the 60’ as best as I could without going past the safety zone around the time we were having coffee at the top. No, I didn’t think I was going to want to do that at all. 60 feet is a long way down. The top of my roof is about that high. I’ve been up there and I’ve looked down. It;s disconcerting.

However, coming off the 30, I knew that the key to doing it was probably to not dwell too much on the actual distance. Since it is very much like walking backwards, It’s just like walking twice as far.

When the time came, I felt confident and ready to do the 60’ — which was also where the Cliffside #6 geocache is. A bonus! John checked my gear and Ron was below handling the fireman’s belay. “On Rappel!” I shouted, and when the response came, I approached the edge. There was a moment, as I placed my heels on the edge, that a chill ran through me to the tips of my fingers. I leaned back into position and eased myself off the cliff.

It was much easier than expected. Just like the 30’ but without the disconcerting jog. I quickly reached the cache and asked Ron “Take me” at which time he activated the belay by holding the rope firmly. This allowed me to open and sign the cache, replacing it in the crack for juneebug to give it a try. When I reached the bottom, I came to the full realization of why these guys are out there so often, practicing on the rock face. It’s a real hoot.

I tried the descent a couple more times and we practiced stopping and starting. I tried coming down fast and felt the beaner get warm from the friction. I was actually not going down very quickly, and the beaner was considerably warmer than I expected.

A great Day

I had a great day on the rocks and I think I’m hooked. I’d like to learn more and even get my own gear. Margaret has expressed an interest in trying it out herself. I think it would be fin to get some other people up there some time when Ron and Downy are up there practicing. They’re willing to teach anyone and it would be great if I could get some other people interested so that if I want to try to reach a difficult cache, I’ve got someone else crazy enough to help me do it. They’ve stopped the scheduled tutorial events for the year, but they told me to bring Maggie down whenever they’re there, and I’m sure that offer extends beyond her.

Pictures of my descent:

Additional Links

Posted by James at 5:35 PM | Comments (2)

October 9, 2004

Furious George

Enjoy debate highlights? Do yourself a favor and stop by Oliver Willis’ blog entry entitled “Bush Flips Out.” He’s got a link to the video of Furious George wigging out and getting medieval on Charlie Gibson.

For an extra hoot, I checked out some of the titles people were using for blog entries that reference this video. Here’s a summary:

  • Bush Flips Out
  • Bush’s anger management problem
  • All Over But the Yelling
  • Bush is angry
  • Thomas Blair is our staunchest ally
    • (This is a reference to Bush, in his angry tirade, calling Silvio Berlusconi “Servio”. The transcript says “Silvio” but in the video he is definitely saying “Servio.”)
  • The Bush Scream
  • I wonder if it’s always this hard for George Bush to exercise discipline
  • I’m so happy he has his finger on the nuclear button
  • Let me answer…I gotta answer this!
  • obviously, charlie should have said “let me finish”
  • Bush going apeshit
  • I got your wood right here
    • A reference not to the video, but another interesting debate moment when Kerry claimed Bush would have qualified for a tax credit as a small business on the force of $84 of income from a timber concern. Bush turned to the audience and claimed ignorance, then asked “Need any wood?”
    • The Annenberg analysis said Bush qualifies under that definition because he reported $84 in income from his part-ownership of a timber enterprise on his 2001 federal tax return. (SignOnSanDiego.com)
Posted by James at 1:01 PM | Comments (2)

Debate 2, Short Take

Bush beat the first debate Bush, but didn’t beat Kerry. (Running Commentary is in a previous post)

Kerry came out swinging and he’d obviously got Bush a little off balance in the first half of the debate. Bush grew increasingly agitated and finally was pretty ornery with Charlie Gibson. who was trying to give him an extended response. However, less of the dumbfoundedness from last debate was evident in this match-up.

Kerry was calm and friendly in the debate, and made his points clearly and forcefully when needed, although he had one or two episodes of not punctuating a clear point before wandering into detail.

There were some zingers, buy lying as seen in the vice presidential debate was kept to a minimum.

I thought one of the worst moments for Bush was when he completely bungled that last question, which was, admittedly, a challenging one. He actually tried to answer that his mistakes were in his appointments, in other words deferring responsibility once more for bungling. This was the president so many people told me was going to have a team of the best and the brightest. Now he’s reduced to blaming his appointments.

I see many people calling this a draw, and perhaps the undecideds will see it that way as well, but I can’t agree. Bush has no good answers for the hardest questions. His excuse against Kerry’s deficit reduction plan is simply “don’t believe him” and he relied heavily on labeling Kerry “liberal” to get his message across.

In summary, I don’t see anything in this debate that would slow down Kerry’s momentum. Bush merely showed that in one out of two debates he doesn’t look like a complete incompetent.

Posted by James at 10:58 AM | Comments (2)

Presidential Debate 2 - Running Commentary

Here, in the extended entry are the running comments made by Chuck and myself during the debate. I am in yellow and Chuck is in green. Links where I thought it would be helpful to dive into the AP transcript.

Chuck(9:03:21 PM) Herecomes the chief
James(9:03:43 PM)Bush looks taller than the last time
Chuck(9:03:50 PM) platform shoes
Chuck(9:03:52 PM) hee hee
Chuck(9:04:27 PM) Q: (KERRY) are you wishy washy?
OTIS: Senator Kerry, after talking with several co-workers and family and friends, I asked the ones who said they were not voting for you, Why? They said that you were too wishy-washy. Do you have a reply for them?
James(9:04:42 PM)He looks comfortable. Respectful.
James(9:06:12 PM)His answer is a good start. He's gettign a chance to explain his positions and how they have not changed.
James(9:06:27 PM)Tone: very coinversational. Nor stiff at all.
Chuck(9:06:32 PM) the tail end of his answer seems to have left the wishy-washy thing behind
James(9:07:49 PM)This is Bush's strategy in this question: Bring in Howard Dean. Repeat the same distortion about the Iraq war.
Chuck(9:08:03 PM) Bush is being a little better this time.
James(9:08:48 PM)Not hard to do.
James(9:09:09 PM)Bush has been asked if the president's latest justification for the war is reasonable.
DAHLE: Mr. President, yesterday in a statement you admitted that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction, but justified the invasion by stating, I quote, He retained the knowledge, the materials, the means and the intent to produce weapons of mass destruction and could have passed this knowledge to our terrorist enemies. Do you sincerely believe this to be a reasonable justification for invasion when this statement applies to so many other countries, including North Korea?
James(9:09:21 PM)"9/11 changed it all"
James(9:09:48 PM)So, apparently, 9/11 means we no longer need reasonable justification. <-- my analysis.
BUSH: In the old days we'd see a threat, and we could deal with it if we felt like it or not. But 9/11 changed it all.
Chuck(9:09:50 PM) Bush is claiming the decision to go to war was difficult and that diplomacy was exhausted.
James(9:10:15 PM)He's taken an Iraq question and diverted it briefly to Afghanistan. Now oil for food is the issue.
James(9:11:19 PM)Kerry asserts that the world IS more dangerous today.
Chuck(9:11:36 PM) Kerry is slamming Bush HARD
KERRY: The world is more dangerous today. The world is more dangerous today because the president didn't make the right judgments. [...] So what does he do? He's trying to attack me. He wants you to believe that I can't be president. And he's trying to make you believe it because he wants you to think I change my mind. Well, let me tell you straight up: I've never changed my mind about Iraq. I do believe Saddam Hussein was a threat. I always believed he was a threat. Believed it in 1998 when Clinton was president. I wanted to give Clinton the power to use force if necessary. But I would have used that force wisely, I would have used that authority wisely, not rushed to war without a plan to win the peace.
James(9:12:03 PM)Mike on Bush: 'I've got an intelligence group together to figure out why the intelligence group was wrong!'
Chuck(9:12:47 PM) here comes global test again
GIBSON (After Bush won't let him talk): Well, I was going to have you do the rebuttal on it, but you go ahead.
James(9:13:21 PM)And he just said Saddam could have given the WMDs to terrorists.
James(9:13:40 PM)Kerry: Sanctions worked! WMDs were out of Saddam's hand.
Chuck(9:13:48 PM) good responses so far
Chuck(9:13:52 PM) Both look very strong
James(9:14:05 PM)Bush is just louder.
BALDI: Senator Kerry, the U.S. is preparing a new Iraq government and will proceed to withdraw U.S. troops. Would you proceed with the same plans as President Bush?
Chuck(9:14:52 PM) Kerry is invoking conservative republican condemnations of Iraq.
James(9:14:58 PM)Owch!
James(9:15:11 PM)Those are some harsh quotes.
KERRY: Senator Richard Lugar, the Republican chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said that the handling of the reconstruction aid in Iraq by this administration has been incompetent. Those are the Republican chairman's words. Senator Hagel of Nebraska said that the handling of Iraq is beyond pitiful, beyond embarrassing; it's in the zone of dangerous.
Chuck(9:15:14 PM) Kerry differentiating himself. Bring in allies. Apply real diplomacy.
James(9:15:53 PM)Bush is doing the head-bob. Kerry so far has had no reaction when he's not talking. Even when the global test was mentioned.
James(9:17:39 PM)Bush is asserting that Kerry thinks we can't win, therefore he won't get any support.
Chuck(9:17:40 PM) fireworkds
James(9:18:28 PM)Bush is hammering on "Kerry thought we had weapons, too"
James(9:18:49 PM)Bush is a little shrill.
My opponent says he has a plan; it sounds familiar, because it's called the Bush plan. We're going to train troops, and we are. We'll have 125,000 trained by the end of December. We're spending about $7 billion.
Chuck(9:19:13 PM) Bush is saying Osama is not the focus of the War on terror, instead it is to keep WMDs out of the hands of terrorists.
Chuck(9:19:30 PM) Q (BUSH) : other coutnries are mad at us... what can we do to repair that?
Chuck(9:19:37 PM) invoking reagan
Chuck(9:19:43 PM) comparing himself to reagan
James(9:19:48 PM)"I made some decisions that have made others not understand our values."
James(9:19:50 PM)Hah?
James(9:20:22 PM)Bringing up Israel, Rove told him to talk to the base.
Chuck(9:20:37 PM) I think Bush is doing very well thus far.
James(9:20:58 PM)Perhaps, if you like shrill. But, yeah, his supporters would be happy.
James(9:21:07 PM)I'm not so sure he's reaching out to the moderates.
James(9:22:17 PM)"This president doesn't listen" (Kerry)
Chuck(9:22:40 PM) Bush is trying hard not to go facial
James(9:23:01 PM)Buch can't even wait for the moderator now.
James(9:23:58 PM)Kerry is sticking to a good message.
James(9:24:29 PM)The president didn't listen. The president rushed. The president was unprepared.
Chuck(9:24:35 PM) Q (KERRY): iran sponsors terrorism, has missles. Iran will have nukes in 3 years. If UN sanctions don't work what will you do?
Chuck(9:25:05 PM) JK <-- can't rely on UN sanctions alone... now shifting toward Iraq. Not answering question.
Chuck(9:25:30 PM) he's not answering the question
James(9:25:35 PM)He's staying on the Bush message. He has to tie it back.
Chuck(9:25:39 PM) okay
James(9:25:43 PM)Here he goes.
Chuck(9:25:43 PM) now he is answering
Chuck(9:25:57 PM) bring in germans, french, british. Lead the world. Crack down on proliferation.
Chuck(9:26:09 PM) Restating position on Russian nuke materials.
Chuck(9:26:20 PM) Bringing back bunker busting nuke wep.
Chuck(9:26:29 PM) closes with threat on Iran.
James(9:26:30 PM)Promises the greates counterproliferation effort.
James(9:26:43 PM)Bush jokes that he almost wanted ot scowl while Kerry was speaking.
James(9:27:54 PM)Axis of evil
Chuck(9:28:21 PM) Q BUSH How do we maintain Military presence without a draft?
James(9:28:25 PM)"the internets"
BUSH: I hear there's rumors on the Internets (sic) that we're going to have a draft.
Chuck(9:28:34 PM) GB no draft... all volunteer army works
James(9:29:09 PM)Replacing troops in Korea with weapons.
James(9:29:19 PM)(Bush explains how we are avoiding a draft)
Chuck(9:29:38 PM) withdrawing troops from europe and korean penninsula...
James(9:30:14 PM)Replacing troops with unmanned vehicles. "Forget all this talk abotu the draft."
Chuck(9:31:24 PM) JK --> backdoor draft ... overextended
James(9:31:49 PM)Half hour mark, no blood drawn.
James(9:32:07 PM)Bush is arguing with the moderator who is TRYING to give him more time!!!
Chuck(9:32:10 PM) GB getting mad
GIBSON: Mr. President, let's extend for a minute...
BUSH: Let me just -- I've got to answer this.
GIBSON: Exactly. And with Reservists being held on duty...
BUSH: Let me answer what he just said, about around the world.
GIBSON: Well, I want to get into the issue of the back-door draft...
BUSH: You tell Tony Blair we're going alone. Tell Tony Blair we're going alone. Tell Silvio Berlusconi we're going alone. Tell Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland we're going alone.
James(9:32:37 PM)Bush's voice is practically screeching.
James(9:32:48 PM)Kerry: calm.
Chuck(9:33:43 PM) Q KERRY : Why no terror attacks since 9/11? And how willo yu keep it that way?
James(9:34:26 PM)Bush agrees that it is not a question of "if" but of "when" though he had a little trouble getting it out.
James(9:35:11 PM)Even so, Kerry says we need cooperation. And we're not getting it. And Kerry now ties it to the tax cut.
Chuck(9:35:16 PM) Bush reallyllooks twitchy
Chuck(9:35:25 PM) He's trying very hard not to look mad.
James(9:35:35 PM)He's starting to blink away.
Chuck(9:36:05 PM) oop
James(9:36:05 PM)Bush is actually more comfortable (slightly) when he's talking. That's why he talks over the moderator.
BUSH: And there's a lot of good people working hard. We're doing the best we possibly can to share information. That's why the Patriot Act was important.
Chuck(9:36:09 PM) he said working hard
James(9:36:26 PM)That's a swig
James(9:37:17 PM)Kerry actually allows the moderator to talk.
Chuck(9:38:10 PM) working on weekends
Chuck(9:38:17 PM) workignovertime
Chuck(9:38:19 PM) long hurs
James(9:38:24 PM)Heh
Chuck(9:38:52 PM) Q BUSH : why block cheap drugs?
Chuck(9:39:05 PM) I haven't we are just making sure it is safe.
James(9:39:19 PM)Massachusetts is already doing what Bush says he's not sure is safe.
James(9:39:36 PM)They're doing it in Fall River
James(9:40:14 PM)Bush barked back at the questioner at the beginning of this question.
James(9:40:25 PM)I think it's OK for him if he shows agitation with Kerry
James(9:40:41 PM)But it's not going to work if he's mad at the moderator and the asker.
James(9:40:54 PM)He must have felt that because he tried to save with "thank you for asking!"
James(9:41:40 PM)Bush said he hasn't blocked Canadian drugs. Kerry says the senate passed it and the president DID block it.
James(9:41:59 PM)He's picking on Bush calling Canadian drugs 3rd World -- they're made here in America.
James(9:42:13 PM)Now linking Bush to the big companies. A good answer arc here
James(9:42:39 PM)Bush can't wait for the moderator. Can't control himself. Looking desperate and ornery. Will it work with undecideds?
James(9:43:49 PM)Tough question coming, Kerry ought to be ready for it, though.
Chuck(9:43:54 PM) Q KERRY: you chose a lawyer who sues medical professionals how does this lower costs?
LAURENT: Senator Kerry, you've stated your concern for the rising cost of health care, yet you chose a vice presidential candidate who has made millions of dollars successfully suing medical professionals. How do you reconcile this with the voters? KERRY: Very easily. John Edwards is the author of the Patients' Bill of Rights. He wanted to give people rights. John Edwards and I support tort reform. We both believe that, as lawyers -- I'm a lawyer, too. And I believe that we will be able to get a fix that has alluded everybody else because we know how to do it.
Chuck(9:44:11 PM) Edwards *AUTHORED* the patient bill of rights.
James(9:44:18 PM)Tort reform plan
James(9:44:34 PM)and the two of them are lawyers so they understand the problem (as opposed to Bush)
James(9:45:43 PM)Kerry calmly has answers for everything. Bush's attacks are shrill.
James(9:46:06 PM)Kerry asks people to help by rolling back the tax cut for >200/year
James(9:46:15 PM)Bush just called him Kennedy.
James(9:46:33 PM)And called him the most liberal senator.
James(9:49:05 PM)Good question!
Chuck(9:49:17 PM) Q BUSH: u never vetoed a single spending bill. 700B spent and not paid for. Please explain how this is better than JK's spending
O'BRIEN: Mr. President, you have enjoyed a Republican majority in the House and Senate for most of your presidency. In that time, you've not vetoed a single spending bill. Excluding $120 billion spent in Iran and -- I'm sorry, Iraq and Afghanistan, there has been $700 billion spent and not paid for by taxes. Please explain how the spending you have approved and not paid for is better for the American people than the spending proposed by your opponent.
James(9:49:31 PM)He's going to blame it on Clinton.
James(9:49:34 PM)And the war
James(9:49:59 PM)"this lady"
Chuck(9:51:11 PM) concerned about deficit, but not going to raise taxes or shortchange troops
James(9:52:26 PM)Kerry is pointing out that other presidents led during wartime, not cut taxes.
James(9:52:48 PM)Kerry can defend himself well while attacking Bush. Good answers
KERRY: He talked about war. This is the first time the United States of America has ever had a tax cut when we're at war. Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, others, knew how to lead. They knew how to ask the American people for the right things.
James(9:53:25 PM)Moderator is wrong: Kerry did say that he would raise taxes on >200K/year
James(9:53:36 PM)To help cut the deficit.
Chuck(9:55:02 PM) Q KERRY : give american people pledge not to sign a tax bill on those who earn less thanj 200K
Chuck(9:55:14 PM) JK --> NP. Does so.
Chuck(9:55:20 PM) lot of details though
James(9:55:34 PM)Yes, but he answered it to start.
Chuck(9:55:38 PM) right
James(9:56:07 PM)Mike: "Bush scaled back his favorite program, Sesame St."
Chuck(9:56:44 PM) GB --> he's not credible
BUSH: He's just not credible when he talks about being fiscally conservative. He's just not credible. If you look at his record in the Senate, he voted to break the caps -- the spending caps -- over 200 times.
Chuck(9:57:03 PM) JK will raise your taxes.
James(9:57:06 PM)He looked into the camera and answered. GWB's only answer is "don't believe him."
James(9:57:50 PM)Hasn't Bush figured out the light system yet?
Chuck(9:57:51 PM) GB says the tax rollback doesn
Chuck(9:58:06 PM) raise more than a third of what JK's proposals cost
Chuck(9:58:10 PM) so JK will raise taxes.
James(9:58:54 PM)JK is invoking John McCain. I have to think Bush will respond.
James(9:59:05 PM)(On fiscal credibility)
James(9:59:13 PM)No, he's going to let it go.
James(9:59:22 PM)Bang on liberal again.
Chuck(9:59:43 PM) Q BUSH: how would you rate yourself as an environmentalist?
James(10:00:19 PM)Going to increase wetlands by 3 million <-- Bush
Chuck(10:00:23 PM) reduce pollution 90% FROM Diesel engines, plan to increase wetland, green-up sore spots in cities, clean air initiative
James(10:00:28 PM)3 million what? <-- me
Chuck(10:00:34 PM) healthy forest bill
James(10:00:59 PM)Bush cites lousy federal policy.
James(10:01:07 PM)Er, who makes the federal policy?
James(10:02:22 PM)Kerry: "Don't throw the labels around."
James(10:03:28 PM)Kerry: "Clear Skies Act = Orwellian"
KERRY: The fact is that the Kyoto treaty was flawed. I was in Kyoto, and I was part of that. I know what happened. But this president didn't try to fix it. He just declared it dead, ladies and gentlemen, and we walked away from the work of 160 nations over 10 years.
James(10:03:41 PM)Mike: " Bush: "Or-who-ellen?""
Chuck(10:03:47 PM) kyoto --> cost america too much money
Chuck(10:03:52 PM) GB air is cleaner under me
James(10:04:23 PM)Kerry can remember people's names
James(10:04:42 PM)Bush sez: "that lady"
Chuck(10:04:58 PM) Q KERRY : how can the US be competitive in manuf given the wage necessary?
Chuck(10:07:23 PM) I'm too focussed on what they are saying to comment... :-(
James(10:07:46 PM)Yeah. A lot to listen to, but they're talking aobut keeping jobs.
James(10:07:53 PM)Kerry is on outsorcing.
James(10:07:59 PM)(outsourcing)
James(10:08:11 PM)Bush is on less regulation and legla reform
James(10:08:14 PM)(legal)
KERRY: And you know why he gets that count? The president got $84 from a timber company that owns, and he's counted as a small business. Dick Cheney's counted as a small business. That's how they do things. That's just not right. BUSH: That's news to me. Need some wood?
James(10:10:39 PM)Patriot act question: Why are my rights being watered down?
Chuck(10:10:47 PM) GB they're not
James(10:12:55 PM)Kerry is telling him he's right.
Chuck(10:14:08 PM) Q KERRY: stem cells, nobody cured by using embryonic stem cells
James(10:16:56 PM)Bush: stem cell research destroys life... I'm the first president to fund it. Huh?
James(10:17:06 PM)Did he mean to say it that way?
KERRY: Well, you talk about walking a waffle line -- he says he's allowed it, which means he's going to allow the destruction of life up to a certain amount and then he isn't going to allow it.
James(10:19:29 PM)Could he take the question seriously, please (Bush)?
James(10:19:52 PM)Oh, here's the God talk.
Chuck(10:19:54 PM) appeal to religious right
James(10:20:42 PM)Relating slavery to the pledge of allegiance?
James(10:20:57 PM)There's a good balance of important issues.
James(10:21:03 PM)(Bush)
James(10:21:11 PM)(and I'm being sarcastic)
James(10:22:16 PM)Kerry is talking to the moderates on choosing justices
James(10:22:20 PM)And doing it well
James(10:22:43 PM)If anyone is concerned about that, this is a VERY good answer.
James(10:22:56 PM)Choose good judges, not liberal/conservative ones
Chuck(10:23:11 PM) Q KERRY: hypothetical... voter thinks abortion is murder. What would you say to that person?
James(10:23:38 PM)Is he ready for this question? Will he keep to the subject?
James(10:24:03 PM)He was specifically asked abotu taxpayer money.
James(10:24:20 PM)Taxpayers don't get to choose. As a pacifist, your money still goes to the war.
James(10:24:54 PM)Not a very clear answer so far.
James(10:25:09 PM)But he is saying he will fund the abortions.
James(10:25:53 PM)Bush is just going to take it as a gimme for his base.
James(10:27:05 PM)Kerry's response is alowing him to clarify. Good, good good.
James(10:27:16 PM)Clear response!
GRABEL: President Bush, during the last four years, you have made thousands of decisions that have affected millions of lives. Please give three instances in which you came to realize you had made a wrong decision, and what you did to correct it. Thank you.
Chuck(10:28:59 PM) is he going to answer?
James(10:29:03 PM)NO
James(10:29:15 PM)He's changing the question!
James(10:29:27 PM)Actually telling her that she asked a different question, the gall!
BUSH: That's really what you're -- when they ask about the mistakes, that's what they're talking about. They're trying to say, Did you make a mistake going into Iraq? And the answer is, Absolutely not. It was the right decision. [...] Now, you asked what mistakes. I made some mistakes in appointing people, but I'm not going to name them. I don't want to hurt their feelings on national TV.
Chuck(10:29:42 PM) JK is already picking up his mic
Chuck(10:30:14 PM) GB is not going to name mistaken appointments because he doesnt want to hurt feelings?
James(10:30:20 PM)Bush's lame prepared answer about appointments he made.
James(10:30:30 PM)Lame, obviously prepared and puzzling.
James(10:31:00 PM)Kerry is asking US to decide what mistakes Bush has made.
James(10:31:37 PM)The crowd is connecting with Kerry on this last answer as he repeats some of the Republican criticism of Bush
James(10:32:44 PM)And Kerry admits to his mistake.
James(10:32:52 PM)(in describing his decisions)
KERRY: I ask each of you just to look into your hearts, look into your guts. Gut-check time. Was this really going to war as a last resort?
Chuck(10:37:38 PM) GB did an excellent job
Chuck(10:37:43 PM) Much more polished than last time
Chuck(10:37:48 PM) Clear winner?
James(10:38:26 PM)Really, I disagree
James(10:38:35 PM)He quarreled with the moderator
James(10:38:46 PM)He was less twitchy, but he didn't land anything major
James(10:38:55 PM)I think Kerry had some decent blows.
James(10:39:17 PM)GWB improved, but how could he have been worse?
Chuck(10:39:55 PM) GB's appeal is not so much on fact and evidence and reason, and I think his performance will appeal.
James(10:40:05 PM)We'll see.
Chuck(10:40:14 PM) Not feeling too good right now.
Chuck(10:40:53 PM) JK did well, but GB did well too. No clear winner, but at least GB didn't look lost dealing with JK. That's going to energize his base
James(10:41:12 PM)They were voting for him anyhow.
Posted by James at 7:41 AM | Comments (1)

October 8, 2004

Shades of Orwell

Just a few thoughts on doublethink and the news lately. In which I describe some of the doublethink that I perceive in the Bush administration.

Dictionary.com says:

dou·ble·think n.
Thought marked by the acceptance of gross contradictions and falsehoods, especially when used as a technique of self-indoctrination

The entry in Wikipedia says:

Doublethink was a form of trained, willful blindness to contradictions in a system of beliefs. In the case of Winston Smith, Orwell’s protagonist, it meant being able to work at the Ministry of Information deleting uncomfortable facts from public records, and then believing in the new history which he himself had written.

One particularly memorable passage (for me) from 1984 is the following, where Winston and O’Brien are discussing the all-important photograph of Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford. (I’ve edited it down here, but you can read the chapter in its entirety online )

An oblong slip of newspaper had appeared between O’Brien’s fingers. […] It was a photograph, and there was no question of its identity. It was the photograph. It was another copy of the photograph of Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford at the party function in New York, which he had chanced upon eleven years ago and promptly destroyed. For only an instant it was before his eyes, then it was out of sight again. But he had seen it, unquestionably he had seen it! He made a desperate, agonizing effort to wrench the top half of his body free. It was impossible to move so much as a centimetre in any direction. For the moment he had even forgotten the dial. All he wanted was to hold the photograph in his fingers again, or at least to see it.

‘It exists!’ he cried.

‘No,’ said O’Brien.

He stepped across the room. There was a memory hole in the opposite wall. O’Brien lifted the grating. Unseen, the frail slip of paper was whirling away on the current of warm air; it was vanishing in a flash of flame. O’Brien turned away from the wall.

‘Ashes,’ he said. ‘Not even identifiable ashes. Dust. It does not exist. It never existed.’

‘But it did exist! It does exist! It exists in memory. I remember it. You remember it.’

‘I do not remember it,’ said O’Brien.

Winston’s heart sank. That was doublethink. He had a feeling of deadly helplessness. If he could have been certain that O’Brien was lying, it would not have seemed to matter. But it was perfectly possible that O’Brien had really forgotten the photograph. And if so, then already he would have forgotten his denial of remembering it, and forgotten the act of forgetting. How could one be sure that it was simple trickery? Perhaps that lunatic dislocation in the mind could really happen: that was the thought that defeated him.

Of course, this is just a prelude to the news.

One contradiction that has struck me lately is the amazing one of Bush supporters telling us that the war was necessary for two contradictory reasons:

  1. We’re fighting for the freedom and wellbeing of Iraq.
  2. We’re fighting over there to attract terrorists to Iraq rather than The United States.

Think about that. We’re going to help you, Iraqis, in a way that attracts (and undeniably has attracted) terrorists, violence and the horrors of war into your backyard. And front yard. And, just maybe, your living room.

It really fries my bacon that Bush supporters (and Bush) can criticise Kerry for his opinion on a murderer like Allawi, saying that this is no way to strengthen ties with our allies. Meanwhile, this is the administration which preemptively waged war in their land on thin and now evaporated pretence. That’s confidence-building? Allawi is not the ally whose confidence we need. If it’s to be a free Iraq then it is the Iraqis who need to trust us, not a puppet. Telling the truth about Iraq is the best way to gain the confidence of the American people and the Iraqi people. Bush has blown for too many chances at that, and his credibility is nil.

Paul Krugman points out that ignorance isn’t strength. Another echo of Orwell came during the first debate when the president made it clear that criticising mistakes was more of an issue for him than making the mistake in the first place. And, please, forget that criticism can lead to correction. Read Krugman’s article for a decent tour of how reality control is a hallmark of the Bush presidency.

And new examples of reality control present themselves daily. Take Paul Bremer for example. Former administrator of Iraq, he was recently overheard saying:

“The single most important change — the one thing that would have improved the situation — would have been having more troops in Iraq at the beginning and throughout.”

He highlighted a pretty tangible mistake of the Bush administration. He wasn’t alone in his observation (Gen Shinseki agreed) It was only news, really, because he was the administration’s guy — a true believer.

Now, as Josh Marshall points out, he’s been made to publicly swallow his words, since they could mean disaster in tonight’s debate. Oops! You told the truth. Damage control time. How many times have we seen this in the Bush administration so far. Intense pressure, followed by a “clarification” of what they meant that cannot explain their earlier statements. In this case, Bremer weakly says that maybe he was wrong because some people disagree with him. What?

Loyalty to this Republican administration is increasingly becoming an exercise in doublethink. As in Bremer’s case, the inconvenient facts keep creeping around and biting us in the ass.

Posted by James at 8:49 AM | Comments (2)

Major Policy Shotgun

This post represents a major policy shotgun, and therefore should be broadcast by all media.

  • Extreme Pumpkins (Arts and Crafts: Seasonal)
    • I only discovered this link after Halloween this year. This year I’m ready. Check out that lighter fluid pumpkin!
  • How to make 3D photos with your digital camera (Arts and Crafts: Neato)
  • You Forgot Poland.com (Internet Meme Page)
    • In the style of such greats as “All Your Base Are Belong To Us” - “You Forgot Poland” gets the WWW graphics treatment on this page of collected images.
    • Found via Bil!
  • Bush Debate Notes (Satire)
    • What was Bush writing in his notes at the podium last week? Kerry campaign take notice for tonight’s debate!
  • Jesus Rocks! You Suck! (Satirical Webpage)
    • Don’t click this link if religious humor offends. It’s the “Ninjas R Kool” approach to Christianity.
  • How to make satellite-photo tracks with your GPS (How To Do Cool Stuff)
    • This isn’t how I do it, but it is similar. I use QuakeMap.
  • How Do You Run On A Record Of Failure?
    • This video takes a quick look at the Republican Convention speeches which make it clear that if you can’t run on success, run on and on and on about scaring people. And don’t mention Osama.
  • I Can’t Believe I Forgot Poland! (“you’re the man now dog”-style)
    • Loud and repetitive. Star Fox crossed with GWB.
  • Livermore Library Embarrassed By Mural (Spelling News)
    • “It didn’t take a nuclear physicist to realize changes were needed after a $40,000 ceramic mural was unveiled outside the city’s new library and everyone could see the misspelled names of Einstein, Shakespeare, Vincent Van Gogh, Michelangelo and seven other historical figures.”
    • Sent along by JimC
  • Michael J. Fox for John Kerry (Video: Campaign Ad)
  • DangerMouse (Nostalgia)
    • Remember DangerMouse? And Penfold?
  • Stupid.com (Shopping)
    • Source for stupid stuff! Gifts, candy and other essentials.
  • CheaperThanDirt.com (Shopping: Military)
    • Cheap military-type surplus.Source for waterproof ammo containers and the like, as for making geocaches.
  • David Hasselhoff Online (Lame Awesomeness)
    • How have you gotten this far without experiencing this website? Worth the visit just for the flash intro.
  • Zoomquilt (Flash Art)
    • Inexplicable collaborative art. Allows you to keep zooming in to the “painting” to a vertigo-inducing degree.
Posted by James at 7:34 AM | Comments (1)

October 7, 2004

Near-Useless Polls

Chuck had a post earlier about his frustration with polling. For Kerry-supporters, there were a tough few weeks after the Republican Convention. It seemed that delaying their convention turned out to be a good strategy for a number of reasons. But as the balloons and rhetoric fade, we’re left with Bush’s same tired repetition that more of the same is what he’s got in store for the country. And as we look around, many of us are saying “we’ve had enough of the same, thank you very much.”

The polls are fickle. Zogby is showing surges for Kerry.

What are we to say about those earlier predictions that had Bush ahead? What we say is that these polls do not predict the future. So, what good are these polls to us? Not much good.

Kerry has edged to a narrow lead in Ohio and Nevada while his lead has widened in Iowa. Meanwhile, Bush is losing ground in Tennessee and W. Va. Do you believe the poll numbers, the trends, or neither? I htink that the polls are decent in showing trends, just like a poorly calibrated scale. As long as the polling methodology is consistent, I think it can show that a candidate is gaining or losing support. But it can’t tell you, really, where the voting is going to end up.

No one can predict the future. Put too much faith in the polls and you might find yourself depressed for no reason, or perhaps surprised on election day. Heck last time we didn’t even know for sure until the Supreme Court stepped in. So, ignore the polls as a predictor of who will win. Perhaps use them as an indicator of who is gaining support.

Posted by James at 11:24 AM | Comments (3)

Swift Boat Veterans For Nader

Swift Boat Donors Float Nader Some Money (WaPo)

A handful of donors to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, an organization that has run controversial ads attacking Democrat John F. Kerry, have also given money to independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader.

To the tune of $7,500 recently. Here is the evidence of their delusion, or at least the illusion they expect us to believe:

The Nader camp rejected suggestions that it was hypocritical of him to accept the money — and said the donations were evidence of its candidate’s ability to appeal to voters from across the political spectrum. “Twenty-five percent of our voters are people who voted for Bush. I’m not surprised there’s some overlap in funding, as well,” said spokesman Kevin Zeese. “If they support us, they support us,” he said. “We can still criticize their advertising campaign.”

Evidence of the candidate’s appeal? I understand saying “whatever support that’s theirs to give is ours to take.” But to imagine that the people who funded the Swifties are actually interested in electing Nader displays a nearly pathological break with reality.

I expect there has been plenty of funding for Nader along these lines, but we haven’t been privy to it.

Posted by James at 9:10 AM | Comments (7)

October 6, 2004

You Never Forget The First Time

“The first time I ever met you was when you walked on the stage tonight.” - Slick Dick Cheney Oct 5, 2004

Edwards and Cheney together at a previous event [Image from a February 2001 prayer breakfast]

Cheney is someone willing to make serious assertions and accusations with information that hasn’t passed the most cursory smell test.Take your pick, is he a slick liar or a sloppy and dangerous ideologue? Or both?

This is a clear pattern in the Bush administration. Arguments where the truth doesn’t matter. Certainty without facts.

I’ve never met you before tonight. Without a doubt there ARE weapons of mass destruction.

Posted by James at 11:56 AM | Comments (6)

Veep Debate: My Take

The only Vice Presidential Debate came and went without leaving either candidate wounded. My conclusion, therefore, is that neither candidate came out as a clear winner. But they both were able to accomplish something. [Update I’ve elaborated my post with a few links to supporting news stories.]

No Clear Winner

In a debate that was supposed to be all over the map, the candidates started right out with the Iraq question, and it is clear that the Democratic strategy is partly to stick to Iraq. It makes sense, since it is a huge issue and the people feel now that Bush has made mistakes there. Also, it is an issue which can be used to question the credibility of the administration. Any time people’s perceptions are out of line with what the administration is saying, that is an opportunity for the challenger.

Cheney seemed bent on keeping Edwards off-message with constant direct attacks, mostly at the beginning of his droned-on responses. I go the impression that he wanted me to change the channel, that he felt Bush/Cheney had little to gain from this debate, so it would be better if no one watched it.

Edwards got off some attacks of his own, but he also acted as a decent booster for Kerry several times, even mentioning Kerry’s name when told specifically not to do it in one question.

In the wake of this debate I was left wondering what impact it would have? How many people tuned in and stayed tuned in? How would people respond to the attacks they saw, and the responses?


Really, I think it would be difficult for the undecided voter to score this without extensive fact checking. And there’s one humorous note there. Factcheck.org is a website that usually hosts a review of the facts that come out of the candidate’s mouths. Last night the Vice President mentioned “FactCheck.com” which, as Mike pointed out to me at the time, was an unregistered domain pointing to a placeholder page. However, someone was thinking quick. The URL now redirects to GeorgeSoros.com! So, people looking into the Veep’s url are directed to an anti-Bush message.

Meanwhile, Factcheck.org is down, overrun by requests. If one were a conspiracy theorist, one might think that this was Cheney’s plan all along, to take out Factcheck.org so that his distortions would not be catalogued there (see the Boston.com fact review below). But such a theory is really beyond the pale, especially considering he got the URL wrong.

Attacks Barely Stick

Nobody in this debate was able to make a serious hit that stuck. Cheney did have the accusation that Edwards has never been in the Senate in the last 4 years. (Cheney claimed he visited the Senate “most Tuesdays”) I’m trying to imagine someone refuting my attendance in college by saying that they had visited the campus center on most Tuesdays and yet never met me. It’s ridiculous, but some naive people may fall for that zinger, especially because he dragged a newspaper into the mix. (His assertion contained a lie, see links below)

Edwards made his attempt to tie Cheney closer to Halliburton and the no bid contracts. I don’t know how people regard Halliburton, so I don’t see whether this will make an impact.

In another Cheney attack, he actually tried to slam Edwards on tax dodging. To which Edwards came right back with more about Halliburton. Cheney kept Edwards extremely busy during the debate, and in many ways I think it reflected well on Edwards.He was able to go toe to toe with a veteran and hold his own. Despite Edwards’ long experience speaking, this was his first one-on-one political debate, if I understand correctly and he looked like a pro.


Of course, the credibility issue did come up with respect to both Iraq and the economy. Edwards appealed to people to trust their eyes, not the administration’s rhetoric.

Now, I know that the vice president and the president don’t see it, but you do.

It’s a potentially strong message, because credibility has many implications in this election, With the fear that is in the air both from terrorism and economic issues, people are craving credible leadership. I think it helps Kerry/Edwards to have had this issue raised here, but I don’t think it was driven home. At best they can hope to make the same case even stronger in a future debate.

Nothing To Be Ashamed Of

Cheney did nothing to wound Edwards, and therefore gave no reason for Kerry not to refer back to Edwards’ performance in this debate. I predict you’ll hear Kerry saying things like “You heard my partner, John Edwards say…” So he definitely gains something from Edwards’ strong showing.

Little Immediate Effect

In the balance, I can’t really say this debate itself will have much of an effect on the election. I think it will neither enhance or slow down the momentum Kerry gained from the first debate, though it could be used by both sides to pull out specific quotes for throwing words back at opponents in a future debate. I’ll leave the specific policy analysis to others. If either side can make something of the debate in the coming days, they may yet be able to leverage it to their advantage.

Chuck has posted his response to the debate on Unbecoming Levity, along with our running commentary. He’s formatted it prettier than I did on my previous post, and interspersed it with snippets from the debate transcript.

Other links:

  • All ‘04 Debate Transcripts, from the AP
  • Cheney bald faced lied about never meeting Edwards before (ABC news)
  • Fact-Checking the Debate (Boston Globe)
    • “I have not suggested there’s a connection between Iraq and 9/11, but there’s clearly an established Iraqi track record with terror.” - Cheney October 5, 2004
    • According to the Globe, Cheney has consistently linked Al Qaeda and Saddam. Of course, Al Qaeda perpetrated the 9/11 attacks.
    • “I think there’s overwhelming evidence that there was a connection between Al Qaeda and the Iraqi government.” - Cheney, Jan 2004
    • Cheney’s name shows up a lot more often in this review.
  • Bremer says troop levels too low in Iraq (SFGate)
    • “In remarks published Tuesday, Bremer told an insurance conference at a West Virginia resort, “We never had enough troops on the ground” from the outset to stop what he described as “horrid” looting and the ensuing instability.”
Posted by James at 7:50 AM | Comments (2)

October 5, 2004

Veep Debate Blogging

In the extended text, Chuck and I blogged the debate. Unedited, at the moment. I haven’t decided yet whether I’ll format it further. I need to think a bit about my response. But you can get our minute-by-minute thoughts here for now.

Dr Momentum (8:57:26 PM): Here we go

Dr Momentum (8:57:39 PM): They’ve just been introduced.

Dr Momentum (8:57:52 PM): A little early, no?

Plastered Dragon (8:58:05 PM): ok

Plastered Dragon (8:58:11 PM): I’m on CSPAN2

Plastered Dragon (8:58:14 PM): no audio yet

Dr Momentum (8:58:18 PM): Oh, I see. They’re just getting in place.

Dr Momentum (8:58:23 PM): Weird. OK.

Plastered Dragon (8:58:59 PM): Oh there IS audio… just dead silence.

Dr Momentum (8:59:22 PM): Maggie says “Cheney’s almost life-like.”

Plastered Dragon (8:59:26 PM): Dick looks like he is going to bite off someone’s head.

Dr Momentum (9:00:25 PM): I wonder how much of this week’s news will figure in.

Plastered Dragon (9:00:37 PM): I think it is mostly going to be about Iraq.

Plastered Dragon (9:00:53 PM): I’m sure Edwards will mention Bremer’s complaint today.

Dr Momentum (9:00:56 PM): Yes, probably.

Dr Momentum (9:01:03 PM): I should think so.

Dr Momentum (9:02:20 PM): Cheney does actually look more human than usual. Edwards looks relaxed.

Plastered Dragon (9:02:52 PM): split screen… that allowed this time?

Dr Momentum (9:03:11 PM): I don’t think the candidates have any say in the coverage, just the debate format.

Dr Momentum (9:03:32 PM): Right in with the Bremer question.

Plastered Dragon (9:03:36 PM): Yep

Dr Momentum (9:05:13 PM): CHeney has been asked specifically about Bremer, and he’s going to avoid the question by speaking in generalities. He wants to paint the big picture so he can tell
his whole story. Will he ever get to the question, though?

Plastered Dragon (9:05:19 PM): No

Plastered Dragon (9:05:30 PM): Here comes the fear factor

Dr Momentum (9:05:42 PM): I wonder if his aim is going to be to get people to change the channel.

Dr Momentum (9:05:59 PM): Put the fear up front, get his comment in, and then bore people into changing the channel.

Plastered Dragon (9:06:32 PM): John Edwards … right in there with … YOU ARE NOT BEING STRAIGHT W/AMERICAN PEOPLE… he’s not pulling punches.

Dr Momentum (9:06:42 PM): No, he’s come out swinging.

Dr Momentum (9:07:04 PM): He’s refocusing on the Bremer question.

Plastered Dragon (9:07:27 PM): Cheney appears to be struggling to contain his anger.

Dr Momentum (9:07:58 PM): I think you’re right. He does seem angry!

Plastered Dragon (9:08:16 PM): If he get’s mad, he blows this debate.

Plastered Dragon (9:08:20 PM): And edwards knows it

Plastered Dragon (9:08:26 PM): That’s why he is pushing his buttons

Dr Momentum (9:08:38 PM): Edwards is smart to focus on Cheney’s refusal to leave the Iraq/al Quaeda connection behind.

Dr Momentum (9:09:00 PM): Now Edwards has to handle Kerry’s criticism of the war.

Dr Momentum (9:09:15 PM): Another chance to clarify their position and harp on the missing weapons.

Dr Momentum (9:09:25 PM): So far the questions are favoring Edwards

Dr Momentum (9:09:57 PM): Perhaps the facts have an anti-Bush agenda.

Plastered Dragon (9:10:03 PM): We’ll see

Dr Momentum (9:10:37 PM): Edwards: “Listen carefully to the veep: there is no connection.”

Plastered Dragon (9:10:57 PM): ooooh

Plastered Dragon (9:11:08 PM): Cheney’s got a new spin on the Iraq war.

Plastered Dragon (9:11:13 PM): Yet ANOTHER new spin.

Dr Momentum (9:11:32 PM): Aha, the global test. Edwards has to be ready for this distortion.

Plastered Dragon (9:11:37 PM): Yeah

Plastered Dragon (9:11:48 PM): Edwards doesn’t look shaken.

Dr Momentum (9:12:17 PM): Edwards is going to ask for more time to respond. He’s not going to get it now.

Plastered Dragon (9:12:23 PM): yeah

Dr Momentum (9:14:12 PM): Mike sends this link: Cheney link of Iraq, 9/11 challenged - http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2003/09/16/cheney_link_of_iraq_911_challenged/

Dr Momentum (9:14:37 PM): Meanwhile, Cheney has been given the opportunity to blather on about Afghanistan.

Dr Momentum (9:15:19 PM): Edward brings back the point, we turned our attention away from Afghanistan. He’s using the remaining time to go back to Cheney’s distortion on Iraq/9-11

Dr Momentum (9:16:46 PM): As Josh Marshall said, this isn’t about Edwards and Cheney. They’re sticking to Bush v. Kerry.

Dr Momentum (9:17:38 PM): Back to the Global Test with this question.

Dr Momentum (9:17:50 PM): “What is a global test” Edwards is asked.

Plastered Dragon (9:19:23 PM): Edwards brings it to American credibility. Thank you!

Dr Momentum (9:19:27 PM): Edwards repeats Kerry’s assertion that no one will be given a veto of the American people. He is stressing the credibility issue, but it isn’t really working. He needs
to make it more clear that the global test isn’t an actual test.

Dr Momentum (9:19:37 PM): I agree, he’s on the right track.

Dr Momentum (9:19:43 PM): But can he drive it home?

Dr Momentum (9:21:01 PM): Cheney will never address credibility. It’s not part of his equation. He’s in “computer mode” in the gentle art of verbal self defense. I swear he’s trying to bore the
audience intentionally.

Plastered Dragon (9:21:18 PM): Back to the flip/flop bullshit.

Plastered Dragon (9:21:24 PM): I’m so sick of this nonsense.

Dr Momentum (9:21:52 PM): Mike drew my attention to the sly insult “you probably weren’t there to vote for that.”

Plastered Dragon (9:21:58 PM): Inoticed that

Dr Momentum (9:22:36 PM): Oh, snap. Cheney is just sayign “you’re plain wrong, and your facts suck.:

Dr Momentum (9:22:59 PM): The mud is flying.

Plastered Dragon (9:23:23 PM): OOOO!

Plastered Dragon (9:23:38 PM): Cheney recommended against those weapon systems too!

Dr Momentum (9:23:42 PM): Cheney is launching into an extended attack on John Kerry’s judgment. Starting with that silly vote BS

Dr Momentum (9:23:46 PM): Yeah

Plastered Dragon (9:23:53 PM): That’s just sleazy!

Dr Momentum (9:24:34 PM): Cheney is extremely smooth. This is a rattle royal, but the knives are all hidden.

Plastered Dragon (9:25:02 PM): I hope Edwards isn’t constantly on the defensive like this

Plastered Dragon (9:25:22 PM): BODY BLOW!!

Dr Momentum (9:25:31 PM): Edwards is smart to try to drag it all into the open. Sneaky attacks are going to work in Cheney’s favor. But you’re right, Cheney has put him on the defensive.

Plastered Dragon (9:26:10 PM): Edwards calls Cheney on his duplicity with regard to wep systems.

Dr Momentum (9:26:13 PM): He has to defend Kerry quickly and get back in there and hit Bush hard. Now he drage Halliburton’s no bid contracts in.

Plastered Dragon (9:26:25 PM): Cheney’s not going to answer the charge

Dr Momentum (9:26:29 PM): No

Plastered Dragon (9:26:32 PM): He’s repeating himself

Plastered Dragon (9:26:44 PM): Hi I’m Dick Cheney, and I’m a commercial. Again.

Dr Momentum (9:27:32 PM): It seems like these questions are whizzing by. Lots of numbers and details.

Dr Momentum (9:27:45 PM): Both of these opponents are able to sling details.

Dr Momentum (9:29:12 PM): So far there is a lot of mud and I don’t see a clear leader. Cheney has successfully kept Edwards catching up. THe average voter is not

Dr Momentum (9:29:20 PM): going to follow most of this.

Dr Momentum (9:29:41 PM): Edwards is having to split his answers to answer Cheney’s charges

Dr Momentum (9:30:04 PM): Cheney starts every answer with a slur against Edward’s accuracy

Dr Momentum (9:30:10 PM): An insilt with every answer.

Dr Momentum (9:30:16 PM): (insult)

Dr Momentum (9:31:13 PM): Cheney accuses Kerry of not having an Iraq plan and just moves right on. He’s doing this rapid-fire to keep Edwards busy.

Dr Momentum (9:31:54 PM): Good, Edwards is just going to pick one silly assertion (like the size of the coalition) and pick on that. 90% of the cost is Americans.

Dr Momentum (9:32:47 PM): Cheney is claiming that Edwards is demeaning Iraqi’s and coalition’s sacrifices. All he’s going to do is put words into Edwards’ mouth. Over and over again.

Plastered Dragon (9:33:03 PM): Yes. A lot of “this is what he said”.

Dr Momentum (9:34:02 PM): Right. Instead of answering he’s just going to restate Edwards questions. A nasty tactic. How will Edwards counter that? Currently he’s taking a good approach. Are
you goingto believe the vice president or your own eyes?

Dr Momentum (9:35:10 PM): Again, Edwards is having to play catch up. Edwards is going to have to let some of these charges slide and attack.

Dr Momentum (9:36:23 PM): Al Zarquawi (sp?) did not have a training camp in Saddam-controlled Iraq.

Plastered Dragon (9:36:43 PM): Yeah he was in Kurdish controlled Iraq.

Dr Momentum (9:37:26 PM): But Cheney slides right by that and conflates the terrorist with Saddam again. Cheney is throwing these things in at the end of his responses, when they are about to
be given another question. Edwards will have no chance to respond.

Plastered Dragon (9:38:23 PM): Cheney looks very … hunched

Plastered Dragon (9:38:45 PM): Here comes Libya again.

Dr Momentum (9:38:46 PM): Mike says he’s happy with Edwards’ ability to respond within his time to Cheney’s last attack. I think Edwards is doing as well as he can against Cheney’s

Dr Momentum (9:39:31 PM): Edwards brings up Iran.

Dr Momentum (9:39:44 PM): THe moderator questions are almost superfluous here now.

Dr Momentum (9:40:11 PM): Edward shas switched back to Halliburton.

Dr Momentum (9:40:35 PM): Halliburton is linked to Iran and bribing officials in Iran.

Dr Momentum (9:40:58 PM): Cheney is jsut saying the charges are false.

Dr Momentum (9:41:06 PM): Brings up factcheck.com

Dr Momentum (9:41:25 PM): (Slashdotted)

Plastered Dragon (9:41:44 PM): Edwards is restating

Dr Momentum (9:41:51 PM): Well done

Dr Momentum (9:42:03 PM): Edwards is unshaken. Very well done.

Dr Momentum (9:42:25 PM): Imagine how tough it must be to respond to Cheney’s constant attacks. Cool customer, Edwards.

Plastered Dragon (9:42:46 PM): Yes, he’s eloquent and able.

Dr Momentum (9:44:18 PM): Edwards drags in Irrael AND the Saudis.

Dr Momentum (9:44:24 PM): (Israel)

Dr Momentum (9:44:44 PM): Cheney is attacking Edwards record directly now.

Plastered Dragon (9:44:45 PM): Cheney isn’t going to let Halliburton go, and he’s going to sling big mud.

Dr Momentum (9:44:50 PM): Right

Dr Momentum (9:45:05 PM): Oh, here we go.

Plastered Dragon (9:45:17 PM): Oh Christ

Dr Momentum (9:45:22 PM): Cheney accuses Edwards of never being int he senate, pretty much ever.

Plastered Dragon (9:45:30 PM): Saddam “created” the suicide bombers?

Plastered Dragon (9:45:40 PM): Saddam threw financing at them to try to win allies!!!!

Dr Momentum (9:46:23 PM): Good - Edwards will attack back rather than answering the silly attack.

Plastered Dragon (9:47:24 PM): Domestic issues…

Plastered Dragon (9:47:36 PM): Questions about Cleveland and the economy

Plastered Dragon (9:48:42 PM): Cheney —> get people jobs (how?) —> make America friendly to business (tax policy, litigation costs {i.e. caps}, medical care) —> strong education (no child left behind… the great
unfunded education act.)

Dr Momentum (9:50:09 PM): Edwards highlights Cheney’s wandering answer. Cheney doesn’t want to talk about jobe. Here’s Edwards opening to talk about poverty in Cleveland.

Plastered Dragon (9:51:18 PM): Edwards —> 1.6 mil jobs lost in Bush admin, 2.7 mil manufacturing jobs lost —> 4 mil people fell thru poverty line —> FIRST administration in the last 70 years to have that happen —>
outsourcing Bush for, Kerry against

Plastered Dragon (9:51:26 PM): Cheney —> We cut taxes, we rule.

Dr Momentum (9:51:31 PM): CHeney is amazing with the numbers.

Dr Momentum (9:52:04 PM): I have to say that anyone leaning towards Bush/Cheney is going to just watch this mesmerized by Cheney.

Dr Momentum (9:52:52 PM): Good rejoinder by Edwards there. He doesn’t think the country can take four more years of this kind of experience.

Plastered Dragon (9:52:59 PM): Yes

Dr Momentum (9:53:31 PM): Edwards has got Cheney off his attacks a little bit, or Cheney has lost a little steam.

Dr Momentum (9:53:57 PM): Edwards is now talking about middle class tax cuts vs. the high end tax cuts.

Plastered Dragon (9:54:26 PM): INCOMING!

Dr Momentum (9:54:35 PM): Edwards: we’re in too deep a hole, but we can cut the deficit. Fiscal responsibility. Corporate loopholes.

Dr Momentum (9:54:49 PM): Cheney: Kerry’s record is one of taxes, taxes, taxes.

Dr Momentum (9:56:24 PM): As Mike and I are discussing, this is just like Meet the Press. Cheney is always on Meet the Press. He’s jst doing the same thing.

Dr Momentum (9:56:34 PM): Our frogs are makign happy sounds at John Edwards.

Plastered Dragon (9:57:02 PM): same sex union ban

Dr Momentum (9:58:59 PM): This format is much better for Cheney than Town Meeting. He can sit here and say anything he wants, basically.

Dr Momentum (9:59:13 PM): Oh, Edwards is going to drag in the daughter.

Dr Momentum (9:59:27 PM): Cheney’s gay daughter. Where is this going?

Dr Momentum (10:00:04 PM): Nowhere. He switched off it.

Plastered Dragon (10:00:10 PM): I think that was kind of a dirty move by Edwards

Plastered Dragon (10:00:24 PM): He’s just drawing attention to the fact that Cheney has a gay daughter.

Plastered Dragon (10:00:37 PM): Trying to make him look bad to the religious right.

Dr Momentum (10:00:44 PM): He slipped it in, but he didn’t go anywhere. Cheney may take him to task over it. Edwards shouldn;t have brouight it up if he didn’t have a point.

Plastered Dragon (10:02:16 PM): WOW

Dr Momentum (10:02:25 PM): Yeah

Dr Momentum (10:02:29 PM): Nothing

Plastered Dragon (10:02:34 PM): Cheney doesn’t challenge Edwards at ALL on the constitutional amendment

Plastered Dragon (10:02:59 PM): Okay here we go with litigation caps

Dr Momentum (10:03:52 PM): Cheney is going to hammer on fear of losing doctors to lawsuits.

Plastered Dragon (10:04:04 PM): Yes… he’s not going to talk about victims

Dr Momentum (10:04:16 PM): It will be interesting to see how Edwards answers this.

Dr Momentum (10:04:36 PM): He’ll probably focus on the victims, and on corporate crime.

Plastered Dragon (10:04:49 PM): Yes

Dr Momentum (10:05:01 PM): Yep, there he goes. Big companies.

Dr Momentum (10:06:05 PM): Edwards takes the anecdote route. 5 year old Valerie.

Plastered Dragon (10:06:10 PM): Well done

Dr Momentum (10:07:01 PM): Edwards concedes the malpractice cost problem

Dr Momentum (10:07:24 PM): They have a plan to handle frivolous lawsuits, but it’s not a cap.

Plastered Dragon (10:07:30 PM): I like it

Dr Momentum (10:07:52 PM): Mike and Maggie and I agree: Boring debate. TMI.

Dr Momentum (10:08:31 PM): It’s the battle of the details and unanswered attacks.

Plastered Dragon (10:08:51 PM): Cheney takes anecdote route now, Edwards waxes lyrical about 5 year old girls injured in pools, and Cheney waxes lyrical the story of a successful company.

Plastered Dragon (10:09:51 PM): smack for smack

Dr Momentum (10:10:04 PM): Cheney is insinuating Edwards is a tax dodger.

Plastered Dragon (10:10:10 PM): And vice versa

Dr Momentum (10:10:24 PM): Edwards comes back that he paid what the law required, just like other companies.

Plastered Dragon (10:11:03 PM): Subject switches to AIDS.

Dr Momentum (10:11:08 PM): AIDS now. BLack women are 13 times more likely to die.

Dr Momentum (10:11:22 PM): Moderator: What is the administration’s plan.

Dr Momentum (10:11:37 PM): Cheney acknowledges the problem.

Plastered Dragon (10:13:43 PM): Edwards is touching on Africa… subject of question was American AIDS. Edwards is recapping VP, but saying it isn’t enough.

Plastered Dragon (10:13:53 PM): He’s taking it back to healthcare.

Dr Momentum (10:14:02 PM): Edwards is trying to appeal to moral issue in his AIDS answer, draggin Darfur in.

Dr Momentum (10:14:57 PM): Edwards is answering a question about his qualifications.

Dr Momentum (10:15:05 PM): “We will tell the truth”

Plastered Dragon (10:15:10 PM): 1. P/VP must keep them safe 2. P/VP must have good judgement 3. P/VP must be honest.

Plastered Dragon (10:15:39 PM): Edwards —> Edwards/Kerry have all these qualities.

Plastered Dragon (10:17:12 PM): Cheney says VP qualities depend on the needs of the President.

Plastered Dragon (10:17:51 PM): Cheney is coming across very earnestly at this time.

Dr Momentum (10:17:56 PM): CHeney is insinuating Edwards has an agenda, his political career.

Plastered Dragon (10:18:01 PM): Yes.

Dr Momentum (10:18:32 PM): Good for Edwards. Boosting Kerry.

Dr Momentum (10:18:35 PM): Smart.

Dr Momentum (10:20:05 PM): The nominees have been asked to describe their differences.

Dr Momentum (10:20:14 PM): Cheney says there are a lot of similarities.

Plastered Dragon (10:20:20 PM): This would appear to be the get cuddly with the VP’s question.

Plastered Dragon (10:20:22 PM): So far

Dr Momentum (10:20:46 PM): They both get their chance. As Mike points out, this is a job interview question.

Dr Momentum (10:21:27 PM): Edwards wandered off on this question.

Dr Momentum (10:21:53 PM): “We were attacked by Saddam Hussein”

Dr Momentum (10:22:01 PM): (I mean weren’t)

Dr Momentum (10:22:17 PM): Edwards makes the point, just before mentioning Kerry. Twice. Crap.

Dr Momentum (10:22:33 PM): He’ll hear about this one.

Plastered Dragon (10:22:46 PM): JesusI hope he doesnt do it again

Dr Momentum (10:22:57 PM): But I don’t think devotion to the candidate is going to work against him too much.

Plastered Dragon (10:23:27 PM): Edwards echoes Kerry’s “be strong but be smart” well done, despite flubs

Dr Momentum (10:23:31 PM): A direct question about Flip Flopping

Dr Momentum (10:23:59 PM): Interesting, it’s framed as a question abotu flip flopping for BOTH candidates.

Plastered Dragon (10:24:05 PM): good

Plastered Dragon (10:24:12 PM): they both DO flip/flop

Dr Momentum (10:24:19 PM): Not just Kerry. Tide turning on that meme?

Dr Momentum (10:26:33 PM): Edwards just answered with a litany of Bush’s flips. Cheney gets second answer, he’ll be harder on Kerry. Edwards’ rebuttal will be the important part of his answer.
It would ahve been easier on Edwards if he’s been the second response.

Plastered Dragon (10:27:03 PM): Cheney’s deferring to military commanders instead of Bremer’s opinion.

Dr Momentum (10:27:42 PM): 1/2 of African Americans are dropping out (Edwards) Wow, really?

Dr Momentum (10:29:16 PM): I’ll be glad when this is over.

Plastered Dragon (10:29:23 PM): It’s pretty dull

Dr Momentum (10:29:34 PM): Cheney is acknowledging Bush’s inability to be a uniter.

Plastered Dragon (10:29:36 PM): They both seem to be doing well. Is there a clear winner?

Dr Momentum (10:29:40 PM): No

Dr Momentum (10:29:46 PM): Not in my opinion.

Dr Momentum (10:30:16 PM): Edwards seemed a little tripped up wit that “Kerry” thing.

Plastered Dragon (10:30:41 PM): Hardly seems like that matters much, but SNL would capitalize on it in a skit.

Dr Momentum (10:30:55 PM): But it was battling stories. CHeney’s answer now is typical of the debate. It seems a lot of words and little meat.

Dr Momentum (10:31:38 PM): Edwards will attack the “uniter not a divider” — good, it’s not an accident, he says. Now he wants to switch to health care.

Dr Momentum (10:32:04 PM): This is probably something he knew he wanted to leave in the viewer’s minds.

Plastered Dragon (10:33:46 PM): This is a powerful response from Edwards.

Dr Momentum (10:33:53 PM): Edwards gets one last chance to hammer it. “They’re with the companies. We’re with the people”

Dr Momentum (10:34:28 PM): Closing statements, Edwards first.

Dr Momentum (10:35:31 PM): He’s appealing directly to what we see. “You see it, they don’t” Again, believe your eyes, not the administration.

Dr Momentum (10:35:38 PM): It could be a strong message.

Dr Momentum (10:35:56 PM):

Posted by James at 11:06 PM | Comments (2)

Upcoming Veep Debate Post

I will not be posting directly to the blog during the debate, however I will be writing comments while it is going on. And immediately after the debate, you can look here for a running commentary. Chuck and I will be in chat, collaborating on a post of our blow-by-blow comments.

Since I will have the laptop handy, will be in front of the TV, and will have AOLIM on, any friends can feel free to drop me an instant message if they feel the need to say something out of frustration or excitement. I'll be listening and will probably respond. But I will also be typing furiously for the commentary post.So don't be surprised if I'm slow to respond.

Posted by James at 5:37 PM

Red Sox Riot

There has been a lot of police activity in the office recently. And what’s with all that riot gear? And how many cruisers does it take to question a student who drives over the grass? All will be revealed. Read on.

The campus police here use our office conference room for their meetings. I’m not completely certain why, because it’s a big campus and we’re off campus. I have to conclude that it is because of the “secret” nature of their meetings.They meet to discuss what they see as a preeminent campus problem.

That problem is the excitement surrounding the Red Sox.

Last year there were problems when the Sox beat Oakland in the playoffs. Riots, actually, here on campus.

This year, the police plan to be ready. They have all sorts of protocols in place. They’re calling the local package stores to sniff out any large purchases of alcohol. They’re going to meet in a particular parking lot just before the game. They’ve been seen streaming out of the local state police barracks at about 3:20 PM, presumably headed this way.

The other day they were out behind our building (a couple of feet from my window) shooting off some sort of air rifle that sounded like a paint ball gun.I hear it may be a projectile gun that disperses a pepper-spray-like substance.And UMD is now the proud owner of a riot wagon, a la Grand Theft Auto 3 when you have 4 APBs.Except in addition to riot gear and guns, they also use trained dogs.

I can understand the interest in preventing a riot, but I have to say that when I think of our campus police, I don’t think or appropriate action. I think of overreaction.

Take this recent incident for example.

A student who works on the project was with a couple of friends on Saturday night, driving down the access road to our offices on Chase Road in Dartmouth. This is sort of a back way out of the campus. However, a few years ago they chained off the end of the access road so you could no longer drive through from the main campus to our parking lot. The actual reason for doing this has never been very clear. Various half-reasons have been offered, none of which seem justifiable.

As anyone knows, when you close off one route people ar eused to using, they usually take the path of least resistance, like water flowing around a stone. In this case, people here at our office often drive over the grass, up the hill and on to the road to campus. The police do it regularly. The people who deliver our mail from the campus do it regularly. And we do it, of course, because they all do.

Lately, the campus police had been harassing people for driving on the makeshift path. They even tried using police tape to block the path, but as you can see from my image (click for larger) they only blocked off one way through. There is still a path which crosses a handicapped parking spot.

So they were starting to register some displeasure that folks were driving over the grass. But I was informed that the man who runs the other organization we share our offices with (a man who also uses the grass path all the time) had spoken to the Chancellor about the activity. The word was that since the road was blocked off and since they had helped to pay for that road but could no longer use it, it would be OK to use the grass path.

The police even moved their cars the other day (grudgingly) after my boss requested to drive through the grass to get to campus one day last week. So things seemed to have been straightened out. WRONG. Little did I know, the fact that the police didn’t actually make the rules was rankling them.

To return to last Saturday around midnight, the student (whom we will call “Derek”) urged his friend to go ahead and drive over the grass because it was the quickest way through to the road. It’s a couple of miles back to campus and around on Old Westport Road if you go the long way.

Well, when he got to the road a campus cruiser sped out at him from the parking lot followed by a voice “Don’t you fucking move!”

The cruiser swung around and Derek’s friend pulled over. The officer accused him of driving over someone’s lawn, and Derek correctly pointed out that it wasn’t a residential lawn, it was the office where he worked. The office replied that he didn’t care if Derek was the “fucking chancellor.” These must be the language and public relations skills that they are studying hour after hour while they’re sitting in meetings here in the conference room.

Soon, an assortment of 6 cruisers converged on the scene including vehicles from the campus police, Dartmouth police, State Police and New Bedford Police.I understand the New Bedford police were the first to depart, to their credit.1 However, Derek and his friends were detained for 40 minutes while their information was reviewed and while they tried to determine whether the driver had been drinking (he hadn’t). There was alcohol in the car, and the person in the back had been drinking. But this passed muster, apparently.

After the 40 minutes, Derek’s friend was issued a citation to appear in New Bedford traffic court (because it was a moving violation) with a fine of $100. The reason? Driving in a restricted area or some such.

Does this sound like an appropriately measured reaction to a sober college student driving over an informal path that is in regular use by both police and employees of the university and offices?

This is what has me worried. If this is how they respond to some harmless students driving over some grass, how much overreaction are you going to see when there is actual mayhem in the equation? The mind boggles.

For your further reading, here is a previous post from last year on the riot: Sox Fans at UMD. It’s also interesting to just scroll back and forth at the other posts in October of last year. Interesting month.

1 I misunderstood. All 6 cruisers were from Dartmouth and Campus police.

Posted by James at 3:50 PM | Comments (3)

Shaun of the Dead (Review)

Just got back from a screening of Shaun of the Dead - A zombie film that breaks the mold. In a good way.

By “screening” I mean I went to the movie theatre, payed $9 for the 10:00 PM show and they projected it on a screen so I could watch it.

It’s a slightly pretentious way of saying “I went to the movies and I saw Shaun of the Dead. But I don’t mean to put on pretense. It just seems quicker to say “I went to a screening” that it does to say “I dragged my arse to the movie theatre.” I also don’t mean to be pretentious by saying “arse” and “theatre.” I know they’re British spellings of the words “ass” and “theater” but:

  1. The film was British.
  2. I watched a lot of Monty Python growing up
  3. Arse sounds less coarse to me than ass and this is nominally a family-friendly blog.
  4. Theatre is easier to type than theater for some reason. Even though the spell-checker flags it, I give in to the urge.
  5. If you think I’m so damned pretentious, why are you reading my blog?

Now that we’ve got that cleared up, a quick review of the film. It was quite good. I’ve seen 3 decent zombie films in the last year and a half or so and this is easily the best of the lot. While the remake of “Dawn of the Dead” (see my review) had a lot going for it, it didn’t bring anything really new to the genre except running zombies. And I’d put 28 Days Later at the bottom of my “last 3 zombie list.”

Nothing wrong with that film, but it didn’t really get me going.

Shaun of the Dead is different. It’s a slightly less serious look at the zombie film genre. It’s not exactly a parody. Rather, it is a retelling of the same basic story, but with characters who do not suddenly change their personalities to become extremely serious when the undead attack. The characters approach the zombies with basically the same attitude they approached the rest of their lives, save a little extra motivation fueled by the life-or-death struggle.

As the film begins, we meet Shaun. He’s trapped in the same world you and I live in, the world filled with your normal, everyday, non-supernatural zombies. People are shuffling through life every day (including him), which causes some initial confusion when the real zombie infection hits the streets.

Don’t go to this film expecting Scary Movie 4. I said earlier that it’s not exactly a parody. What I meant was that it’s not a parody of zombie films. Instead, it is a zombie film wrapped around a parody of the lives of aimless people like the 29-year-old Shaun and his unemployed, shiftless, but well-meaning ape of a roommate, Ed.

This is why the film succeeds. Because we can sympathize enough with Shaun that we know our lives are filled with far more comic fodder than zombie films have to offer.

Out of this formula, a strange phenomenon develops. This may be the most realistic and sneakily frightening “Dead” film of all. The movie does not launch right into the zombies. Because Shawn and his life are screenworthy all on their own, we’re given time to get to know him. We’re become more invested in Shaun than in the shallow, boring characters which inhabit the average horror film. Usual genre films could not pull off such a long introduction because they have too little to say about real life.

This will confuse some people who came to see a comedy, and some people who came to see a zombie film. It’s both of those, but it’s really better if you don’t try to categorize it like that. Go to the film to see Shaun — a regular guy like you, or someone you might know. Commiserate with his problems. Laugh at and with him when the moments arise. And then just put your seat belts on when the undead come after him.

(P.S. The spell checker flagged “pretence” (the American spelling) and advised me to use “pretence” which is the Brit version. Go figure.)

(P.P.S In the first version of this piece. I misspelled “Shaun as “Shawn.” Inexcusable.)

Posted by James at 2:53 AM | Comments (5)

Name That Movie 7

Picture #1

Guess away. I won't confirm guesses right away, because it's more fun that way. So feel free to give your best guess and your reasoning.

Picture #1

Posted by James at 2:05 AM | Comments (12)

October 4, 2004

Tragic Driving

As town reels, 3 victims improve (Boston.com)

Among the injured are a 5-year-old boy who has had a leg amputated and a 6-year-old boy who has had reconstructive leg surgery, doctors and relatives said.

Police are trying to determine how Caruso, who uses a prosthetic leg, happened to drive his blue Chevrolet Corsica onto a crowded sidewalk, injuring 12 children and adults, before crashing into a wall just after school had let out about 2:15 p.m. Friday.

That was in Stoneham. How do you live with something like that afterward? Horrible. Simply horrible all around. Those poor children.

Posted by James at 2:28 PM | Comments (2)

OWP 10/2

Here’s the Obligatory Weekend Post. Condensed version.

Grabbed 4 caches over the course of the weekend, starting with one on Horseneck Beach on Friday evening. The Horseneck Beach cache was among the sand dunes in an extremely peaceful spot that made me want to linger. It also made me wish I could find a cache location like that. I (thus far) have not found a place that I’m happy with.

I’d like to start out with a simple cache, but I have a few ideas for puzzle caches that I’d really like to develop, but they would take some time. But I need a location worthy of a difficult cache. I just haven’t found such a place yet.

On Saturday, Chuck, Patty and ‘Neya came by and we went caching down Aquidneck Island way. Those Rhode Island caches are a lot of fun. We hit Albro Woods and Oakland Forest, two wooded areas nestled among the homes in developed residential areas.

The Oakland Forest multi-cache was a pleasant walk through an old-growth beech woods where some of the beeches were estimated at 300 years of age. An odd feature of this little woods was a swath of rhododendrons bisecting the area. Chuck caught a picture of me sneaking through the rhododendrons at one point. You can see from the satellite picture that the rhododendrons were planted as the arrangement is quite intentional. It’s that dark north-south band, slightly hooked at the north end.

Another interesting feature at the second cache was a mysterious vault built into the side of a hill. I don’t know what its purpose is, but it appears to have been there for a very long time and is complerely covered with vegetation.

Both Saturday cache locations featured Touch-Me-Nots that were covered with ripe seed pods. The children delighted in springing them, and the adults had their share of fun as well.

Back at the Burke ranch we met with Julie, had dinner and hung out for games and apple pie. I was a bit worried about the pie, which I’d baked that morning. I’d forgotten the salt in the pie crust. But the filling made up for the lack of salt in the crust. (The secret is the butter.)

We saw the first SNL of the season, and they tore into the Presidential Debate. GWB comes off as a whiny kid. No wait - that was the actual Presidential Debate I was thinking of.

On Sunday, Maggie went to see The Producers in Providence. I took the kids to Attleboro where we picked up a cache and attempted a micro that was crawling with non-geocaching folk. We had to call off the search, but it was just as well because I had birthday shopping to do (Tuesday is Maggie’s b-day)

Ah, the challenge of writing up the weekend without going into tedious detail! I’m still working on my technique.

Posted by James at 9:26 AM

October 3, 2004

Bush Plan a Boon To Moon

Moonies knee-deep in faith-based funding / Pushing celibacy, marriage counseling under Bush plan (SFGate)

President Bush has some new troops in his crusade to promote “healthy marriage” and teen celibacy with federal funds — followers of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the controversial Korean evangelist and self-proclaimed new world messiah.

At least four longtime operatives of Moon’s Unification Church are on the federal payroll or getting government grants in the administration’s Healthy Marriage Initiative and other “faith-based” programs.

The Bush administration has enlisted with the “Moonies” to bring us a better understanding of marriage through faith-based initiatives. I hope you enjoy the agenda their pushing, we paid for it.

“Moon has been a big backer of the faith-based initiative,” said the Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. “But it’s beyond belief that you can have the University of Bridgeport issuing marriage education certificates and claim that is secular.”

Lynn said the Oakland program also shows how “there is virtually no monitoring of where this money is going.”

“Money goes out and nobody knows how it’s used and nobody knows what it’s for,” he said.


Through such publications as the Washington Times, a church-financed, conservative daily newspaper in the nation’s capital, and through alliances with priests and pastors across the theological spectrum, Moon and company have spent a fortune courting the opinion-makers of church and state.

Bush. Making this possible by bringing Church and State eversomuch closer. Sir, I wish you a long and happy retirement.

Posted by James at 10:36 AM

October 2, 2004

Fox Making S**T Up

Start here at the Talking points memo. Read the next few entries, if you haven’t heard about it already.

Fox has taken to making up unflattering Kerry quotes (quite a few of them) and putting them on the website. Not too surprising that there is this kind of desperation in the extended Bush campaign after that debate.

Posted by James at 9:21 AM | Comments (2)

October 1, 2004

Best Debate Summary

And the award goes to: Unbecoming Levity :: A Debate in Verse

At least Chuck makes it easy to digest. And I think he’s gotten the debate I saw pretty well represented.

Posted by James at 1:09 PM | Comments (1)

Growing Interest

Interest has grown in the debates.

I’m enjoying this morning’s reaction all over the place. I listened to the local neocon talk show this morning and the Bush supporters were falling all over themselves to explain away what their eyes had told them last night. To their credit, they didn’t lie about the president’s pathetic appearance. But they kept saying things like “Kerry won the battle but lost the war last night.” They made excuses for Bush, as if his advisors didn’t know the significance of the debates or cannot effectively manage his time. Every attack of Kerry this morning contained more acknowledgment and admiration of him than I’ve ever heard from that camp. Even those asserting it was a tie were not happy with Bush’s performance. They know it went badly, and they know there will be repercussions in the coming days and weeks.

I urge you to listen carefully over the next day or so. You’ll hear it in their criticism of the debate. They won’t say Bush won. They’ll say “Bush didn’t lose.” Or, “Bush didn’t really lose.” Guess what that means in real terms? Bush didn’t win; he lost. Once that sinks in, they’ll simply return to the attacks on Kerry, many of which have lost some sting since last night. You will hear the defeatism that seems built into liberals, but it will be coming from them. Someone stuck a pin in their balloon, and the telltale hissing sound will be in the background for the rest of the campaign.

Among the neocons, one independent called in this morning. He said he was previously leaning toward Bush but was still unsure. After last night, he is still undecided but he has decided this: the debates are going to make up his mind. Kerry has leveraged the position of challenger. People are paying attention now and Bush’s failures will be under the microscope. Not from 30 years ago, from the last 4 years.

That rumble you felt just then was the political season shifting into high gear, and the turbo kicking in.

Posted by James at 11:25 AM | Comments (27)

Debatable Shotgun

A few shotgun items in the post-debate afterglow. Of course I know Osama attacked us!!!!

  • Leave it to Bush (Flash)
    • A hypothetical conversation between Bush and Gary Busey… in their own words. Funny.
  • AI Pengo (Game)
    • Remember the game Pengo when you were a teen? Here’s a new online version where the bad guys aren’t quite as stupid. I used to love Pengo!
  • Spacializer (Flash thingy)
    • Some sort of flash experiment where mousing over different colors produces musical sounds. Eerie.
  • Can You Pass the Third Grade? (Game)
    • A test of your knowledge of geography. Try it and see if you pass the third grade.
  • Bush’s Top Ten Flip-Flops (Politics)
    • Bush changes his mind sometimes, too. I like that in a president. Except with Bush it’s “I promise to do this” and then he does something else. Or he makes something up.
    • Two months into the war, on May 29, 2003, Mr. Bush said weapons of mass destruction had been found. […] On Sept. 9, 2004, in Pennsylvania, Mr. Bush said: “I recognize we didn’t find the stockpiles [of weapons] we all thought were there.”
    • When Bush flip-flops, it’s on things he said are facts. Reality flips and Bush flops. Flat on his face. Bush really isn’t a flip flopper. He’s just a flopper.
  • Kaboom! (Movie)
    • Here’s a little stop-motion animation of war with decorative objects and toys.
    • Found via Bil.
  • MusicMobs (Website)
    • A website that will read your iTunes playlist and give you recommendations on artists and music styles. Neat. Also, a social network.
  • Florida Election Ballot (Joke)
    • Think they’ve got the kinks ironed out on that electronic voting? Think again.
    • via Patti.
  • Transcript of the Debate (Political)
    • via Chuck’s Furl
  • Words Matter: How Bush Speaks in Religious Code (Political)
    • Because I don’t know the secret handshake, Mike sent along this link with a brief explanation of how, in the middle of the closing statement, Bush is suddenly talking about a frickin’ “mighty mountain.” Yep: kowtowing to the base.
    • As a side note, does anyone really hear a couple of bible words in a debate and squeal with excitement? Boy, I am out of touch with Bush’s base. You’ll have to pardon me if I think it’s nutty that a secret bible quote erases 3 or four instances of Bush looking out into space, lost in nonthought.
  • Safety Central (Online Store)
    • Offering all sorts of safety gear.
  • iComic (MacOS X)
    • Download your favorite comics and view them offline with this handy tool.
  • Principia Discordia (Holy Book)
    • Remember the Illuminatus Trilogy? Fun times.
  • The Strangerhood (Animation)
    • By the people who brought you Red vs. Blue. Coming soon?
  • Doodledude and Scribblebrat (Art lessons)
    • Simple drawing lessons for kids. And stuff.
Posted by James at 9:47 AM | Comments (7)

President of The Nile

Josh Marshall points out something that was bugging me last night. The president left the strong impression that it’s worse to say you’ve made mistakes than it is to actually make mistakes. He went after Kerry for criticizing him, tying it to his support of the troops.

And that’s the best he could come up with: say I’ve made a mistake in Iraq and you’re letting down the troops.

Notice the structure of the president’s thinking: The point isn’t whether he’s made mistakes or screwed things up. But saying he has is bad.

Our president is in denial, and it’s not by accident. It’s not even a strategy. It’s the way Bush conducts his life. It’s the way his brain works. There is no need to solve a problem if you can deny it. Can he deny all of this administrations problems for an entire additional term of four years? I hope we do not give him the chance. President of Denial.

Posted by James at 9:01 AM

When Vitamins Attack?

Vitamins ‘may raise death risk from cancer’

Vitamin supplements may increase the chances of dying from cancer, a science review finds. And the studies, which compared the health of people who regularly took antioxidant pills with those who took dummy pills, suggest that combinations of beta-carotene with either vitamin A or vitamin E pose the most risk.

The findings, published in the Lancet medical journal, go far further than recent evidence that such pills do no good, and, if confirmed, could severely damage the vitamin industry worldwide.

I’ve said for a long time (and I’m getting this from experts) you should get your vitamins from a balanced diet, not from supplements. Supplement manufacturers (both of regular vitamins and goofy mumbo-jumbo like echinacea) are modern day snake oil salesman. For a long time I have merely considered them a harmless waste of money. But it may be that they’re worse than that.

In America, we have a huge variety in our food supply. Anyone who can afford food at all can afford a balanced diet because fruits and vegetables are available anywhere. So for Americans to be popping mega doses of antioxidants is needless. As the evidence mounts, it may even be harmful.

You may not think it is easy easy, but you can’t argue that it’s not simple. Engage in regular physical activity. Do whatever it is you like to do that gets your heart pumping. Eat a moderate diet without excessive fat or sugar. Include fruits, vegetables and whole grains. If you can at least do that, you will be on the right track. No supplements are going to make up for bad habits. You have to have the basics covered before you worry about anything else.

And, unless you’re an alcoholic, throw a glass of wine in there from time to time. It may or may not be a health booster, but it’s the civilized thing to do.

Posted by James at 2:53 AM | Comments (4)