:: Skeptical Notion

A blog about politics, news, science and whatever else strikes my fancy. -- A member of the Reality-based Commmunity.
:: Welcome to Skeptical Notion :: bloghome | contact | Syndicate this site (XML RSS) | Skeptical Notion is proud to be an ePatriot. Donate to the DNC today!
Skeptical Notion Tip Jar
[::..Favorite Blogs..::]
Talking Points Memo
Daily Kos
Hit and Run
Political Animal
Thinking It Through
Counterspin Central
The Agonist
The Volokh Conspiracy
The Whiskey Bar
Shadow of the Hegemon
Angry Bear
Paul Krugman's Home Page
The Left Coaster
Byzantium Shores
Uncertain Principles
Planet Swank
The Notion
Fester's Place
Opinions You Should Have
Dispatches from the Culture Wars
The Panda's Thumb
Bob Harris
[::..Other Blogs..::]
American Leftist
[::..Fun Sites..::]
The Onion
The Brunching Shuttlecocks
Something Positive
Penny Arcade

:: Saturday, November 01, 2003 ::

Illness and Health Care

You know, this cold is going to be the death of me. I hate getting sick, and even with health insurance the copays for doctor's visits (and each stupid drug) add up. Especially when your wife and child have the same stupid thing....

I do have a rather wonderful doctor, however, who often hands out samples (if he has enough for a full course) instead of prescriptions. I do long for the old days, that almost mythical time when you paid a single copay whenever you picked up drugs, instead of a copay per prescription...I have no idea what insurance my parents had at that point, but I'd personally kill for it right now.

Of course, I also reupped my insurance at work this week, and saw what it was going to take out of my check next year. There was a bit of sticker shock, as the company had screwed up their payment formula the year before (basically they were paying 90%, instead of 70%), so I saw my health insurance jump sixty bucks a week. So I said good-bye to my PPO and switched to an HMO. Same company, and my family doctor participates in that plan so things shouldn't change too drastically.

Still, the price of insurance jumped 20% or so per plan -- after adjusting for the company's error. I'm thinking that within a few years, Big Business is going to start pushing the single-payer solution, simply to save them millions a year. I'm rather surprised they haven't been pushing it for years already, although back in the days of full employment a good health plan was an excellent draw to top staff.

Nowdays, of course, a lot of top staff are taking low-paying jobs outside their fields...just to have a chance to work.
:: Morat 7:53 PM :: ::

Guns, Grays and Howard Dean

Burnt Orange Report has a nice post up about Kerry and Gephardt's recent attacks on Howard Dean.
So Howard Dean is reported in the AP as saying "I still want to be the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks," and has an "A" rating from the NRA and John Kerry, Dick Gephardt and other elitists who have shown a solid track record of alienating Americans and costing the Democrats every important post in the federal government jump out to attack him. Could we really expect anything less?
The contempt held for people of the South by Washington elites and Northern Liberals is the root of our recent inability to get anywhere in this part of the country. Furthermore, gun control is an intellectually lazy and fundamentally anti-liberal stance: crime and violence are created by desperation, poverty, ignorance, not guns. Taking guns away from people won't stop violence- educating them, getting them good jobs and reviving our communities will. We need to move away from these ignorant, lazy viewpoints and open our party up to the South again and it seems that only Howard Dean, the most yankee of them all (with the exception of Kerry perhaps) is the only one talking that way.
Given the context of Dean's remarks (he was making the point that poor white people have kids in bad schools and no healthcare either, and we shouldn't write them off), Kerry and Gephardt's attacks are a wee bit negative.

You know, in the sense of "maliciously distorting comments in order to play the same sort of race games the GOP is fond of".

I'm not surprised by Kerry. He's desperate, as Dean has a commanding lead in NH, and Kerry's not doing much better anywhere else. Kerry's looking at an increasingly bad situation, where he's running out of states he has a shot at winning.

Gephardt's situation isn't much better. Running neck and neck with Dean in Iowa, a state that should have been his with minimal effort, and having to fight for union endorsements that should have -- once again -- been his with minimal effort isn't a good sign. And even if he wins Iowa, he's spent a lot more money and time that he really needed to spend elsewhere.

Dean, on the other hand, has that nice lead in New Hampshire...and even a second place in Iowa is likely to boost his momentum, because the conventional wisdom gave that state to Gephardt. Should he actually win Iowa and New Hampshire, he's going to have the big momentum going...and I'd say both Kerry and Gephardt are out of the race at the point.

Kerry and Gephardt need to be careful, however. Desperate tactics often backfire, and if the attacks get too nasty, they're risking a backlash. Kerry has a lot less to lose, but with Gephardt's thin margin in Iowa, he's playing a dangerous game.
:: Morat 7:43 PM :: ::

:: Friday, October 31, 2003 ::

Happy Halloween!

I'm off for a bit. Going to take the kiddo out trick-or-treating, and enjoy the usual Halloween fun. As best I can, at least, with this cursed cold. I really hate being sick.

In defiance of my usual practices, I will attempt to blog this weekend. For one thing, I'll actually be home for once. I will also -- for the millionth time -- browbeat my brother into writing a few posts for Skeptical Notion. The guy's truly funny, rather insightful, and knows quite a bit about things I'm clueless about. Plus, he has the stomach to actually listen to right-wing radio, so he tends to hear things first.

If you're looking at a slow weekend (or slow November) you might want to check out my book recommendations. Fat Fantasy, Children's Fantasy (good even for adults), Plain Ol' Good Fantasy, and some miscellaneous suggestions. There's always my less detailed recommendations pages as well (linked off to the right). You should be able to find all of them at your local library.

Now, I'm off to see about my car -- hoping to hear a time estimate, so I can get together my deductible and let the rental place know -- and then go have fun with the family.
:: Morat 1:41 PM :: ::

Kerry, Dean and guns..

Kerry Takes Aim at Dean Positions on Guns:
Kerry, a Massachusetts senator, criticized Dean's 1992 statement to the National Rifle Association that he opposed any restriction on private ownership of assault weapons.
'Howard Dean's opposition to sensible gun safety measures ... is indefensible,' Kerry said in a statement. 'It explains why he has been endorsed by the NRA eight times. I believe we must put the safety of our children and families ahead of special interests like the NRA.'
Kerry said he would 'never pander to the extremist NRA for personal or political expediency. I will beat the NRA.'
While I have to agree with Not Geniuses that part of Dean's response was bad (although the rest was solid, as Erza noted), but I have to say I don't think Kerry is going to score many points here.

First off, that's the sort of strident hyperbole and spin that turns people off of politics. Secondly, it's not even really supported by Dean's record, nor by his statements as a candidate.

Moreover, who is Kerry trying to court here? You don't indulge in random political slams. Kerry was aiming at some demographic, either to attract them to him or wedge them away from Dean.

As best I understand it (and it's certainly true here in Texas), there are far more moderates and conservatives who consider gun control a "litmus test" than liberals, and I can't see any of the "single-issue" liberals being unaware of Dean's stance on gun control.

I suppose Kerry could be trying to shore up his support on the left, given his flagging poll numbers, but given that publicizing his conservative (for a Democrat) position on gun control is more likely to raise Dean's polling in the south and southwest than it is to cost him votes in the north and northeast.

And while I might be biased as a Dean supporter, my position on gun control is far closer to Kerry's position than Dean's.
:: Morat 12:11 PM :: ::

More on the economy

Judging from this, I'd say the pessimistic assessment of yesterday's good economic news is more apt:
American shoppers took a breather last month as spending tumbled for the first time since February, the government said on Friday in a report that showed a boost from tax cuts fading.

Personal spending fell 0.3 percent in September after hefty gains of 1.1 percent in August and 1.0 percent in July, the Commerce Department (news - web sites) said, showing consumer spending losing momentum as the third quarter ended. Adjusted for inflation, spending was off a sharper 0.6 percent.
The out-sized spending gains over the summer had reflected lower tax withholding from paychecks and federal child tax credit refunds. But the report on Friday, which showed a 1.0 percent drop in after-tax income -- the biggest slide since October 2001 -- showed the tax-cut effect waning.

On an inflation-adjusted basis, disposable income fell 1.2 percent.

"The decrease in September disposable personal income ... reflected a winding down of advance refund checks sent to taxpayers," the department said.
So, just to check: Two years of massive supply-side stimulus: nothing. One moderate tax break to the middle class: economic growth.

It's almost as if, and I realize this is crazy talk, Bush's tax cuts weren't effective at all. As if, I dunno, they weren't really designed to improve the economy at all! Go figure.
:: Morat 10:59 AM :: ::

Economic Worries

Krugman shrilly opines:
But — you knew there would be a but — there are still some reasons to wonder whether the economy has really turned the corner.

First, while there was a significant pickup in business investment, the bulk of last quarter's growth came from a huge surge in consumer spending, with a further boost from housing. These components of spending stayed strong even when the economy was weak, so there shouldn't have been any pent-up demand. Yet housing grew at a 20 percent rate, while spending on consumer durables (that's stuff like cars and TV sets) — which last year grew three times as fast as the economy — rose at an incredible 27 percent rate last quarter.

This can't go on — in the long run, consumer spending can't outpace the growth in consumer income. Stephen Roach of Morgan Stanley has suggested, plausibly, that much of last quarter's consumer splurge was 'borrowed' from the future: consumers took advantage of low-interest financing, cash from home refinancing and tax rebate checks to accelerate purchases they would otherwise have made later. If he's right, we'll see below-normal purchases and slower growth in the months ahead.
The housing market is a big question mark right now. Not being an economist (although I play one at parties), I'm not sure exactly what the long-term risks are, but I have to wonder whether or not the housing boom is going to turn around and give the economy the shaft.

Housing sales have been one of the few strong growth areas the last few years, and housing prices have skyrocketed. It's pretty bad here in Houston, but I understand that prices are rising drastically everywhere.

I can't help but think there has to be a ceiling on housing purchases. Low-interest rates are attractive, but with the job market looking so dismal, how many people are left to buy homes? Judging from my own personal circle, everyone who could afford a home bought one (because interest rates or so low) or refinanced theirs, or added another room, or some such.

The interest rates aren't going to go much lower (if they drop anymore at all), and with home prices continuing to increase and job prospects looking dismal, how many people are going to one to purchase a new home, or upgrade their home, or take on anymore major debt?

Admittedly, the American public seems pretty oblivious to personal debt, but I'm putting off a simple computer purchase, despite low prices and good interest rates, because my wife can't find a job...and I worry about losing mine.

So, for all you economists out there, what happens to the economy when the housing market dries up? When (as looks increasingly likely) demand dries up, and we're stuck with an overabundance of supply?
:: Morat 10:31 AM :: ::

Zell Miller

I realize that pretty much everyone has heard about the Zell Miller thing, but I wanted to weigh in on it.

I have long advocated a true "big tent" for the Democratic Party. I've pointed to politicians like Miller (and Lieberman), to groups like the Blue Dog Democrats, as evidence of how wide the party should be. I've denounced any attempt at labeling a Democrat a "Democrat in Name Only" for failing to pass some ideological test, for voting "against the party" on some issue or taking a stand outside the mainstream of the party.

I firmly believe that the Democratic party is one of tolerance, of respect for different opinions, and one built on achieving consensus through debate and compromise. I leave it to the more extreme members of the GOP (Tom Delay, for example) to throw around "Republican in Name Only" titles, to lower the quality of debate, and to demand unblinking adherence to the party line.

But just because I believe in having a Big Tent, and just because I believe that you can take a stand against the "party line" and still be a good Democrat, doesn't mean there are no limits. (Political ethics aside. There should be no tolerance for shady business under our tent. )

There certainly are. In fact, until Miller opened his mouth, I would have honestly claimed the lines were so far out that I doubt any major Democratic politician could come close to stepping on them.

But there are certain things you do not do and expect to remain in the party. And foremost among them is: If you are a sitting senator, you do not openly endorse George W. Bush for President. And you certainly don't do it six months before a Democratic nominee is chosen.

If you cannot, in good faith, endorse your own party's candidate, then you keep silent. Hell, I can even put up with a bit of badmouthing your own candidate...God knows that no candidate is ever going to be 100% popular, not even in his own party. But you do not publically endorse the Republican Presidential nominee. Not and remain a Democrat.

It's time for you to step down, Miller. Leave the party, and place that I (or even R) next to your name. I was willing to defend your votes, your books, and your badmouthing of the Democratic party (or at least stay silent on the issue), but I am unwilling to tolerate this. I cannot defend this.

Given your record over the last few years, culminating in this endorsement of Bush, I have to ask you: Why are you still a Democrat? You don't like their ideals, their politics, or anyone in their Presidential field. You have no obvious connections to the party, obviously feel no sense of obligation or responsibility to the party...so why are you still here?
:: Morat 10:08 AM :: ::

:: Thursday, October 30, 2003 ::

Slithering Reptiles

You know, I'm going to have to start making more interesting posts. I'm really sliding in the Ecosystem. And while I've tasted the joys of flappy birds, at the moment I'm sliding down the ranks of Slithering Reptiles.
:: Morat 12:43 PM :: ::

The Daily Show

Angry Bear quotes part of the royal beat down Jon Stewart gave Bush last night.

Admittedly, Bush didn't make Stewart work too hard for this one. "We made the sign, but they hung it up?" That's going to go down in the books as one of the lamest attempts at shifting the blame in the history of mankind.

:: Morat 12:37 PM :: ::

Economy Rocketed Ahead in 3rd Quarter

Mixed news on the economy:
Economists say a pickup in jobs growth is also a prerequisite for a sustained expansion. And despite a quicker pace of recovery, 41,000 jobs were lost in the third quarter to bring the number of jobs lost since President Bush (news - web sites) took office to 2.6 million.
While it's nice to see the economy moving, I'd be hesitant to predict long-term "good news", especially for GOP prospects in the fall.

The job market is the one part of the economy that everyone, from rich to poor, can appreciate on a gut level. And, when election time comes around, it's going to be the job market that's going to be the make or break issue for George W. Bush.

When the average voter talks about the economy, he's really talking about jobs. Specifically, how secure he feels his job is, and how easily and quickly he thinks he could find a new one.

If I was George Bush (well, if I was George Bush I wouldn't be in this position at all, but still), I wouldn't trumpet this too loudly. Ratchet expectations too high, and if the economy cools or jobs don't start magically appearing, and you're worse off than you were before.
:: Morat 11:50 AM :: ::

Clark's Campaign

Given my fondness for Howard Dean, it's nice to see Josh Marshall viewing Clark's campaign with the same doubts I've been having. As a Dean supporter, I do tend to wonder if I'm more biased than I'd like to think. Still, the problems with Clark's campaign are pretty obvious. Josh Marshall states:
Wes Clark gave a great speech on Tuesday at the Center for American Progress conference in Washington. And the most recent national poll, the Quinnipiac University Poll, has him back ahead of Howard Dean, after several that showed the reverse.
But let's be honest: the air's going out of his campaign. In money, in direction, in the polls, at the grass roots.
In fact, that doesn't even quite capture it. The air's going out of his candidacy because he doesn't have a campaign. Where's the campaign, the strategy, the organization?
The problem with Clark's campaign is one of time and money.

Time, he simply doesn't have enough of. You need time to campaign, to prepare, to raise money, to gather endorsements....Clark's facing a massive time crunch. He can't afford to be sick (those two weeks cost him), he can't afford to have the usual staff and campaign troubles, he can't afford to mess up. Clark needs to run a perfect campaign if he wants to make it to the primaries.

He's also got money problems. He raised a very respectable 3.5 million in Q3, especially given that he was only fundraising for three weeks. And while a good chunk of that was DraftClark pledges, a lot of it wasn't. But how much he raised, and how fast, isn't all the picture. In this year's front-loaded primaries, it's not nearly as important as cash on hand. Clark's got about 3.5 million on hand. Kerry has twice that, Gephardt has half again that, and Dean has four times that on hand.

This year, with this primary schedule, it's going to boil down to cash on hand at the end of Q4. There won't be much time to fundraise in Q1, as every minute spent with donors is one minute not spent stumping for votes.

If Clark catches fire in Q4, and manages to raise enough to even up with Kerry and Gephardt in terms of "Cash on Hand", he'll have a chance. He'll still be at a distinct disadvantage in terms of organization (it's already forced him to withdraw from Iowa), especially compared to Dean, but perhaps his political skills are enough to overcome that.

But Clark has an uphill battle, no matter how you slice it. In any other year, in any field without Howard Dean, Clark might have had an easier time. But it's awfully hard to see how he will compete with Dean's organization and Dean's money, unless he can put together a comparable organization and a big warchest by February. And that's going to be very difficult, even if Clark's campaign is flawless.
:: Morat 10:59 AM :: ::

:: Wednesday, October 29, 2003 ::

More on Luskin

I know I've been over this before, but Luskin and O'Reilly really have me thinking about 2004 and the general election. O'Reilly, of course, is one of the loudest and most public attack-dogs of the right. He does not even pretend civility, interest in discourse or debate, or any interest in fairness or an equal exchange in views.

His shtick has always been to shout over anyone who disagreed with him (or cut their mike), and simply insult, malign, twist, distort, and in every way possible impede anyone he disagrees with. His whole existence is designed to repeat his beliefs as loud as humanely possible while ensuring any opposing beliefs come across muddled, confused, distorted...or not at all.

Luskin's a bit different. He's a bit obsessed with Paul Krugman. His sole reason for existence, as best I can tell, is to lie, distort, refute (very poorly), malign, cover-up, or in some way obscure whatever Krugman's point of the week was.

To both these people facts are irrelevant. It's all about spin. Their spin. They used what facts where convenient, and distorted -- or ignored -- the inconvenient ones. Mostly, however, they made an art of the strawman, the ad hominem, poisoning the well....anything that was effective in what was, to them, a fact-free world. The facts didn't matter. Only their opinions, their ideology, their beliefs.

And everything was good.

And then Al Franken came along. And the blogosphere came along. And, most importantly, a few people on the left woke up and decided they weren't taking it anymore. Not from Bush, not from the GOP, not from O'Reilly, not from Coulter, not from Luskin...not from anyone.

And a strange thing happened: We learned that the loudmouths, the muckrakers, the slime-masters and the Lords of Spin were just overgrown bullies. And like bullies everywhere, the one thing they can't handle is someone standing up for themselves. All they know is intimidation, and when that fails...they're left speechless -- well, except for their lawyers.

Which brings me to 2004, and the general election. We've spent the last decade under fire. We've weathered constant assaults, we've had our morality, or sexuality, or values, our beliefs, and our patriotism questioned or insulted. We know how to handle slime. We know how to handle sleaze. And, most importantly, we're not thinskinned anymore.

Calling us names doesn't make us cry and go running for the lawyers. We're built of sterner stuff. And I'ld like to thank the GOP for that.

So, in 2004, when Clark or Dean or Kerry or Edwards shoves the spin down your throats, bear in mind who taught us to not only dish it out, but to take it.

Because we know that you can't even handle mild criticism without crying to mommy, or your lawyers, or begging the "liberal media" for mercy. You can't handle being mocked, you can't even handle having opponents on an equal footing. You have to control the mike, you have to control the debate....

So thank you, Bill and Donald. You've taught us a valuable lesson. You've taught us how to handle the slime you peddle in lieu of facts, and you've shown us that, at heart, you're nothing more than schoolyard bullies writ large.

I hope you've enjoyed the last decade, boys. We tried to be polite, figuring you'd listen to reason. Unfortunately, bullies never do.
:: Morat 9:14 PM :: ::

Tort reform, anyone?

Well, it appears that Notorious Krguman [libelous material deleted] Luskin is threatening to sue Atrios. Partly for referring to Luskin as a "Stalker", but also because Atrios' commenters were even ruder, saying such nasty things about Luskin that he became faint and nearly swooned.

It's my understanding that, legally speaking, Luskin doesn't have a foot to stand on. Perhaps Atrios should contact Al Franken. He might find it amusing to watch yet another conservative make a public ass of himself.

I'd delink Luskin but, of course, I'd never linked him in the first place. I've heard that he's a bit shrill, you know.

Still, I can't help but feel pity for poor, poor Luskin. Here he is, fighting the good fight, devoting himself, 24/7, to tearing down the evil Paul Krugman...and people have the nerve to call him a stalker! And the Times hasn't offered to let him write editorials, and he doesn't get invited to any of the good parties, and..sniffle, sniffle, that mean Ole' Atrios won't stop talking about him!

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: It appears that the muckrakers and slime-merchants on the right can dish it out, but they can't take it. All it takes, in fact, is letting in a little sunlight on these would-be guardians of American politics.

Oh, in case anyone wants a shorter version of this post: "Shut up, Luskin. Who do you think you are, Bill O'Reilly?"
:: Morat 3:25 PM :: ::

Easterbrook's Science Fun

I've been pretty much ignoring the Easterbrook affair. I've never found the man terribly compelling, and since I didn't really read his work, I felt I wasn't exactly qualified to defend or condemn. However, I noticed PZ Meyers over at Pharyngula pointing out that Easterbrook has been "pimp[ing] for the Discovery Institute", something I didn't know. I wasn't aware Easterbrook was an Intelligent Design guy. It certainly places his recent physics ramblings in perspective.

Now, if he was just an ID supporter, I wouldn't mind so much. But the Discovery Institute? Have some standards, man.

All in all, I tend to view the ID people with a mixture of pity and suspicion. On the one hand, I can sympathize with their theological problems. Some religions really don't deal well with a world that can be explained naturally (although most of the moderate and liberal branches of Christianity do quite well), and some people really do want to find some "proof" of God lurking in nature.

So I can sympathize with Easterbrook's need to find science backing his faith in God. But on the other hand, I simply can't view the methods of most ID proponents in the same light. Like most Creationists, the Discovery Institute works off of deception and bad science, all carefully tailored to be obtuse to the laymen.

It's not an attempt at real science, it's not science at all. It's propaganda, pure and simple. The only difference between the Discovery Institute and, say, Answers in Genesis is that the Discovery Institute has realized that Young-Earth Creationism isn't believable to anyone not already convinced of the literal and infallible nature of the Bible. But their methods, and their goals, are the same. The Discovery Institute is just a bit slicker at it.
:: Morat 9:46 AM :: ::


I just noticed a few people had donated to Skeptical Notion, and wanted to thank them. With my wife's wreck, the money will come in handy. My insurance covers it, and normally the deductible wouldn't be that bad (it's only 250)...but coming up on Christmas, with my wife just starting subbing (Thank God!), we're having to work hard just to cover bills.

I appreciate it, thank you.
:: Morat 9:30 AM :: ::

Good thinking there, Chief

GOP unity is strained by attacks:
“Honestly, it’s a little tougher than I thought it was going to be,” Lott said. In a sign of frustration, he offered an unorthodox military solution: “If we have to, we just mow the whole place down, see what happens. You’re dealing with insane suicide bombers who are killing our people, and we need to be very aggressive in taking them out.”
Well, Trent, that's a solution. I think I'm not alone in thinking "What are you, nuts? Jesus Christ, you've been a senator how long and this is your solution?".

I mean, let's face it..."Kill them all and let God sort them out" is not exactly the sort of forward-thinking, long-term solution we're looking for. Now, if you want "bat-shit insane", Trent's your man.
:: Morat 9:19 AM :: ::

:: Tuesday, October 28, 2003 ::

Being sick...

I hate being sick. I haven't had anything worse than mild allergy problems in years. Every since I got married, however, and started living full-time with the viral incubator known as "our child", I seem to be sick all the time.

Hopefully, I'll be up for work tomorrow. But I really hate being sick.
:: Morat 6:37 PM :: ::

:: Monday, October 27, 2003 ::

Creative writing...and dangerous thoughts.

Thorswitch over at different strings talks a bit about the girl who was expelled for a story she wrote in her diary. Apparently, back in the 80s, something similar happened to her, although she was merely sent to the school shrink, rather than expelled.

She's not alone. My brother, when he was around 12 or 13, took a French class at school. It was junior high, and so the assignments were often a bit simplistic. One of them was to draw a picture of a body, with all the parts clearly labeled in French.

My brother's project -- turned in two weeks late, as was his wont -- triggered a parent/teacher conference. It turns out my brother had drawn a rather cartoonish picture of a dismembered corpse, and labeled (correctly, in fact) each part, including several that normally reside on the "inside".

It was all my parents could do to keep from laughing, as they hadn't seen the project. The teacher, on the other hand, recommended counseling as my brother was, in her opinion, "seriously disturbed".

My parents later told my brother that, in their opinion, he should have gotten a better grade. After all, he did more than "head, leg, arm, finger". "Entrails, appendix, stomach, heart, liver and spleen" are a bit more difficult to look up.
:: Morat 10:02 AM :: ::

Bush watching...and Bush hating

Brad DeLong's pointed out a Michael Kinsley article about Bush hating. The article itself discusses Bush's "moral agonizing" over stem-cell research, concluding that either Bush is a complete moron -- unlikely, or a hardened cynic who faked "moral anguish" to throw a bone to his political base....at the expensive of tens of thousands (if not more) of sick and dying people.

Brad concludes: It's interesting that the more closely people watch George W. Bush, the more they sound like Paul Krugman.
:: Morat 9:33 AM :: ::

More bad news from Baghdad

Oh damn:
Suicide bombers have killed at least 34 people in a series of apparently coordinated attacks in central Baghdad.
The attacks, which wounded at least 224, targeted the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross and four police stations across the city on Monday.
The first bomb appears to have been packed into an ambulance, which exploded as it entered the gates of Red Cross building. The other attacks came within about an hour.
The Red Cross? Hundreds wounded? Ah, damn. Not a good sign, especially coupled with the rocket attack aimed at Wolfowitz.

This is not "things getting better". Coordinated bombings, assaults on heavily guarded US compounds, and evidence for decent intelligence gathering. Ba'athist remnants my left foot. Things are getting very bad, with no sign of light at the end of the tunnel.
:: Morat 9:13 AM :: ::

Car Update.

I have to state, once more, that State Farm has really impressed me. I picked up my rental car this morning (I could have picked it up Saturday, if I wanted to find a place open past noon), and they're paying enough a day to get a mid-size four door, which means I don't have to squeeze myself into a Geo Metro. I know I owned a Beetle before, but that was my wife's car...and they've got a lot more room inside then you'd think. Enough leg room even for me.

My claim is being processed now. Currently, it's being handled as part of my collision. Once they get the police report and verify that the accident was the fault of an uninsured motorist, they'll switch everything over to my no-fault/uninsured motorist coverage. In the meantime, the ball is rolling. My car should be assessed, and if repairable, towed to the body shop of my choice by Wednesday. I have a rental car, and my insurance company will start dealing with the health paperwork, as they'll be covering the ambulance ride, the copay, and the ER checkup for my wife and the two passengers in her car.

I'm left with two questions. One, will my rates increase? I'd hope not, given that this is why I have no-fault insurance. Two, what on earth is a "diminished value" claim? My rep told me that if the car is fixable, I might be eligible to file a claim against them because the wreck will have damaged the value of a fairly new (less than a year old), low-mileage car. I'm not sure if filing that is a good idea, although if my rates are going up anyways...

So, at the moment I'm lost in the wilds of no-fault coverage. But there's not much I can do until later this week, when a decision is made concerning my car.

But, for the record: This sucks. I like that car.
:: Morat 8:59 AM :: ::

[::..Current Reading..::]
Recent Reading
Book Recommendations
[::..Wish List..::]
Skeptical Notion Wish List
[::..Book Posts..::]
Children's Fantasy
Fat Fantasy
Odds and Ends
Standalone Fantasy
[::..Everything Else..::]
Powered by Blogger Pro™ Listed on BlogShares Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com