:: 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

:: Friday, September 03, 2004 ::


Could Tempe find itself the odd location out for the upcoming presidential debates?

President Bush's campaign won't say for sure whether he will agree to the three debates proposed by the independent Commission on Presidential Debates, or if a Republican strategist was right this week when he said the Bush campaign would agree to only two debates.
Given Kerry's subtle (and occasionally not so subtle) digs at Bush's personal bravery, I'm fairly confidant Bush will end up at all three. The last thing he needs is for Democrats to talk about how Bush is too afraid to go toe-to-toe with Kerry...

Offhand, I'd say this is just expectation lowering.
:: Morat 11:44 AM :: ::

Political Hate Speech

The Shrill One speaks. It's nice to read a pundit who eschews parroting the "conventional wisdom" in favor of actually stating his own opinions. Kind of refreshing, you know? I guess it's because he's not a journalist by trade, but an economist.
For many months we've been warned by tut-tutting commentators about the evils of irrational "Bush hatred." Pundits eagerly scanned the Democratic convention for the disease; some invented examples when they failed to find it. Then they waited eagerly for outrageous behavior by demonstrators in New York, only to be disappointed again.

There was plenty of hatred in Manhattan, but it was inside, not outside, Madison Square Garden.

Barack Obama, who gave the Democratic keynote address, delivered a message of uplift and hope. Zell Miller, who gave the Republican keynote, declared that political opposition is treason: "Now, at the same time young Americans are dying in the sands of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan, our nation is being torn apart and made weaker because of the Democrats' manic obsession to bring down our commander in chief." And the crowd roared its approval.

Why are the Republicans so angry? One reason is that they have nothing positive to run on (during the first three days, Mr. Bush was mentioned far less often than John Kerry).

The promised economic boom hasn't materialized, Iraq is a bloody quagmire, and Osama bin Laden has gone from "dead or alive" to he-who-must-not-be-named.

Another reason, I'm sure, is a guilty conscience. At some level the people at that convention know that their designated hero is a man who never in his life took a risk or made a sacrifice for his country, and that they are impugning the patriotism of men who have.

That's why Band-Aids with Purple Hearts on them, mocking Mr. Kerry's war wounds and medals, have been such a hit with conventioneers, and why senior politicians are attracted to wild conspiracy theories about Mr. Soros.

:: Morat 11:27 AM :: ::

Holy Flaming Media, Batman!

This appears to be actual fact-checking. Bush Glosses Over Complex Facts in Speech: (Link via Kos)
On Iraq, Bush talked of a 30-member alliance standing shoulder to shoulder with the United States, masking the fact that U.S. troops are pulling by far most of the weight. On Afghanistan and its neighbors, he gave an accounting of captured or killed terrorists, but did not address the replenishment of their ranks or the still-missing Osama bin Laden.

Bush's acceptance speech Thursday night conveyed facts that told only part of the story, hardly unusual for this most political of occasions.

He took some license in telling Americans that Democratic opponent John Kerry "is running on a platform of increasing taxes."

Kerry would, in fact, raise taxes on the richest Americans but as part of a plan to keep the Bush tax cuts for everyone else and even cut some of them more. That's not a tax-increase platform any more than Bush's plan for private retirement accounts is a platform to reduce Social Security benefits.

And on education, Bush voiced an inherent contradiction, dating back to his 2000 campaign, in stating his stout support for local control of education, yet promising to toughen federal standards that override local decision-making.

:: Morat 11:18 AM :: ::

Looks like an end to the love..

Kerry's apparently decided it's time to start hammering. (I admit, the tone of the Republican Convention gives him a great deal of cover. Republicans are the biggest whiners about this sort of thing, and Zell's little speech makes it tough to take them seriously).
In a unprecedented political rebuttal, the Democratic presidential challenger told cheering supporters at a midnight rally in his home state of Massachusetts: "I'm not going to have my commitment to defend this country questioned by those who refused to serve when they could have and by those who have misled the nation into Iraq. Misleading our nation into war in Iraq makes you unfit to lead this country.

"Doing nothing while this nation loses millions of jobs makes you unfit to lead this country. Letting 45 million Americans go without healthcare makes you unfit to lead this country. Letting the Saudi royal family control our energy costs makes you unfit to lead this country."
That's right out of Rove's playbook, hammering your opponent on his strengths. Of course, Kerry has an edge: He doesn't have to lie to do it, or hide behind his surrogates.
:: Morat 11:03 AM :: ::

Shorter Bush's speech

I figured if anything deserved a "shorter" version, it was Bush's convention speech: "By not changing a thing, I guarantee this time will be different!"

:: Morat 11:00 AM :: ::

:: Thursday, September 02, 2004 ::

On the personal front..

I'm still trying to work out a new AC. I was originally planning it for the spring, but things got bumped. I had a reliable AC guy out and he ran through the system. Unfortunately, somewhere in all that we ended up with different ideas of costs and desires, and I ended up getting a quote for 6500. Now, mind you, that's AC + Furnace + Variety of Attic Work. Pricey (the furnace is almost 1000 more than most) but very worth it in terms of energy efficiency and the ability to scrub humidity. (Humidity is a killer problem in Houston).

If I was planning on staying in this house more than 5 years, I'd borrow the extra money and go ahead and pay it. The energy savings would pay for the increase in cost and the 10 year "no labor/no parts" maintenance is certainly worth it. (Not to mention, of course, it's speed and efficiency at cooling a house during a Texas summer).

However, I'm not planning on staying that long, and my budget does not stretch that high. So he's due back over today or tomorrow. I'm hoping for a SEER 14 system, but if I can just get a SEER 12 up and running (as well as having my air intake and some of my ducts sealed properly for once) I'd be happy. I've got a 10+ year old SEER 10, so I'd still be lowering my energy bills by a good 25% or more, and the house would be considerably more livable.

We'll see what can be done, and hopefully I can have the new system in by the middle of the month. I wouldn't have survived the summer if I hadn't broken down and bought a pair of window units to try to take the load off my AC, and last week (with the high temperatures and high humidity) darn near killed me.
:: Morat 12:37 PM :: ::

There goes another one..

Looks like Fred Kaplan wasn't terribly thrilled about last night's speeches either:
Half-truths and embellishments are one thing; they're common at political conventions, vital flourishes for a theatrical air. Lies are another thing, and last night's Republican convention was soaked in them.
Looks like it's getting harder for pundits to avoid the "l-word".
:: Morat 11:04 AM :: ::

Saletan hops off the fence

Well, it appears Zell bumped Saletan off the fence. This sort of article is a big change in style for him:
The important thing is that the GOP is trying to quash criticism of the president simply because it's criticism of the president. The election is becoming a referendum on democracy.

In a democracy, the commander in chief works for you. You hire him when you elect him. You watch him do the job. If he makes good decisions and serves your interests, you rehire him. If he doesn't, you fire him by voting for his opponent in the next election.

Not every country works this way. In some countries, the commander in chief builds a propaganda apparatus that equates him with the military and the nation. If you object that he's making bad decisions and disserving the national interest, you're accused of weakening the nation, undermining its security, sabotaging the commander in chief, and serving a foreign power—the very charges Miller leveled tonight against Bush's critics.

Are you prepared to become one of those countries?
So now you have two reasons to show up at the polls in November. One is to stop Bush from screwing up economic and foreign policy more than he already has. The other is to remind him and his propagandists that even after 9/11, you still have that right.
That's a big change in rhetoric for Saletan. I don't know what the Republican Convention has done for the swing voters, but it appears it's certainly pissed off the left. I've seen a lot of lefty bloggers switch from policy-wonkery liberalism to pissed-off fighting liberalism. When people like Big Media Matt starts making posts that sound a lot like Atrios, you know change is coming...

Worse yet (for the GOP), it appears to have shocked the talking heads. And god knows, once they get their brain wrapped around a meme, they don't change. "Angry Old Man Gives Keynote speech, then challenges Pundit to Duel" is a meme the GOP really doesn't need....

In Other News: Judging by what I saw from CNN, it appears the Democrats won the post-night spin almost by default. Zell's speech and subsequent melt-down can't have played well with the middle, and it seems to have infuriated the left. With the right, of course, it was all red meat and further proof of the "liberal media". If this is, as Rove thinks, a battle to see who energized the base more, I'm thinking Bush is going to get -- at best -- a draw. The left was pretty fired up before last night's little hate-fest.
:: Morat 9:50 AM :: ::

:: Wednesday, September 01, 2004 ::

By their children....

Paul Glastris (currently guest posting over at Political Animal) made a rather interesting point about Jenna/Not Jenna's performance:
The Washington Monthly offices – where half the staff consists of
young writers and half of wiser (older) editors and business staff
with adolescent or young-adult children – is a perfect workshop to
(unscientifically) test a theory of mine: Young people don't read much
into the character of political children, but parents do. Beyond
arguing about the "hotness" quotient of the four daughters, the
under-30 crowd in the office didn't have much to say about the Bush
daughters' stand-up routine last night. The parents in the office,
however, gave us an earful -- comparing the attitude and conduct of
the presidential daughters with that of their own children. If you
watched the convention last night, I'll leave you to speculate on
their conclusions.
I hadn't really considered that, mostly because I was already rather familiar with the twin's lifestyle...and that of their father. The well's already poisoned, so to speak.

But I can speak as a parent: I judge other parents by the way their kids behave, and sufficiently bad behavior by a child (or teenager) can prejudice me against the parents in ways difficult to overcome.

I'm wondering how many voters -- especially swing voters -- saw two girls who couldn't even muster a small amount of maturity for what is one of the most important and "grown-up" events of their lives. Especially when their parents are -- supposedly -- paragons of virtue and family values.

It might make them wonder if that's the family values they really want.
:: Morat 2:27 PM :: ::

A question..

Some blogger, pundit, or poster referred to Bush as being "that guy in the bar", the one that always has that really clever plan to "fix America" by returning to the Gold Standard, or invading Iraq, or outlawing gay people. The one whose alcohol fueled solutions always seem to sound good when you're half-drunk, but in the end are nothing more than ignorant rantings on a subject the "guy in the bar" knows exactly zilch about.

Because that image has stuck with me, and seems more and more apt every day. And if it gets much worse, I'm going to have to start comparing his speeches to the vapid endorsements of "world peace" by Miss America contestants.
:: Morat 2:18 PM :: ::


I bring you the rarest of all treats! A reporter actually checking facts. Read it and be filled with awe, that a reporter would work the long and thankless hours to compare "What people said" with "What actually happened".

Then send him a nice note of encouragement. (Link via Atrios)
:: Morat 11:14 AM :: ::


I notice the Houston Chronicle had "Schwarzenegger praises Bush's steady leadership" and "Militants slay 12 Nepalese hostages in Iraq" side-by-side today. Not exactly the pair of headlines Rove's 2004 re-election plan called for.

Iraq is an albatross around Bush's neck, and I don't think all the 9/11 widows in the world are going to be able to lift it off. Still, they're giving it the ole' college try.

And that makes me wonder: What happens when Bush loses? If the GOP manages to hold it together, Kerry's first term is going to make the Clinton years look like a bipartisan love-in.

I wonder how long it will take before the American public gets sick and tired of it all? Or before the Fourth Estate wakes up and realizes "he-said, she-said" isn't reporting, it's playing human tape-recorder?
:: Morat 9:37 AM :: ::

Daily Show Quote of the Day

Stephen Colbert: "Jon, to call this convention a little manipulative is like calling Marcel Marceau a little quiet." Runners-up included "crass-tacular" and "the President whose compassion, like the Olympics, appears only once every four years".
:: Morat 9:34 AM :: ::

:: Tuesday, August 31, 2004 ::

About Kerry's poll numbers...

Chill out. It's August. Kerry was forced to go dark because of the grim realities of campaign financing. If he hadn't, he'd run the real risk of running out of cash the last two weeks of the campaign.

August was always going to be Kerry's worst month. Which is why Bush unloaded the Swift Vets on him. It was now or never, because Kerry couldn't respond directly. And it didn't work. Bush is still bobbing along in the low-40s on "approval" and still neck-and-neck or behind Kerry in virtually every poll.

Not that Kerry can slack off, but this is it. Bush unloaded everything he had when Kerry couldn't offer a coordinated response. It's Bush's one chance, and if you notice....the Swifties did jack. They didn't nudge Kerry at all. Bush has only the convention left, which I'm guessing (judging by Bush's poll pattern and past elections) his post-convention numbers will be his high-water mark. It'll be all downhill from there, assuming Kerry remains a competent closer.
:: Morat 10:07 AM :: ::

Redefining Victory

Krugman's talks a bit about Iraq today.
Ever since the uprising in April, the Iraqi town of Falluja has in effect been a small, nasty Islamic republic. But what about the rest of the Sunni triangle?

Last month a Knight-Ridder report suggested that U.S. forces were effectively ceding many urban areas to insurgents. Last Sunday The Times confirmed that while the world's attention was focused on Najaf, western Iraq fell firmly under rebel control. Representatives of the U.S.-installed government have been intimidated, assassinated or executed.

Other towns, like Samarra, have also fallen to insurgents. Attacks on oil pipelines are proliferating. And we're still playing whack-a-mole with Moktada al-Sadr: his Mahdi Army has left Najaf, but remains in control of Sadr City, with its two million people. The Christian Science Monitor reports that "interviews in Baghdad suggest that Sadr is walking away from the standoff with a widening base and supporters who are more militant than before."
George Bush has an odd definition of "victory", doesn't he? We appear to have lost control of a significant chunk of Iraq, with no real hope of regaining it. And our control over the rest of the country looks tenuous at best.
:: Morat 9:53 AM :: ::

The worm turns..

Top Story on Yahoo, under the headline "Bush Now Saying 'We Will Win' Terror War":
President Bush (news - web sites) said Tuesday "we will win" the war on terror, seeking to quell controversy and Democratic criticism over his earlier remark that victory may not be possible.

In a speech to the national convention of the American Legion, Bush said, "We meet today in a time of war for our country, a war we did not start yet one that we will win.

That statement differed from Bush's earlier comment, aired Monday in a pre-taped television interview, that "I don't think you can win" the war on terror. That had Democrats running for the cameras to criticize Bush for being defeatist and flip-flopping from previous predictions of victory.
Flip-flop, flip-flop....

To my mind, all this does is drive home a fundamantal truth: You can't fight terrorism, anymore than you can "fight" guerilla warfare or kidnappings. You can expunge a tactic. All you can do is hit hard at those who use that tactic. But that's hard work. It requires resolve, and leadership, and patience. Terrorists, after all, like to hide. They're not easy targets.

Which is why Bush invaded Iraq. Because fighting terrorism was too hard for George. Too complex. It's easier to attack Saddam. At least we can find Iraq on a map.
:: Morat 9:48 AM :: ::

What terrorists have learned from Bush

Since the speeches last night talked about how tough Bush was on terrorism, I thought I'd sum up the lessons terrorists have learned about George Bush and attacking the United States:
  1. If you attack the US, George Bush will make a half-hearted attempt to catch you, then invade an unrelated country.
  2. Get weapons of mass destruction. If you have nukes, Bush leaves you alone (North Korea). If you don't have them, he pretends you do and attacks (Iraq).

That's it. That's what Bush has taught terrorists: We'll use any attacks as an excuse to fufill a pre-existing foreign policy agenda that does not involve you, except to increase your ability to recruit, and if you have nukes, we'll kiss up to you.

:: Morat 9:09 AM :: ::

RNC Convention

I only watched bits and pieces last night (I had better things to do, like learn to play the bongos), but I have a couple of notes. First, it seems that Michael Moore was right on the money. George Bush's re-election campaign appears to be heavily based on "be afraid".

Something of a risky move, to my mind. It invites questions of why, after three years, we should still be terrified. Why hasn't Bush fixed the problem? Why is Osama Bin Laden still running free? (Speaking of, I no longer worry as much about his capture being an October Surprise. If nothing else, Kerry has a very powerful defense: "What did he plan during the three years Bush let him run free?"). Why haven't we had more of a success dealing with terrorism? What, exactly, has Bush been doing all this time?

Secondly, John McCain seemed to phone it in (aside from the Michael Moore bit. Moore's reaction was perfect).

Thirdly, I don't think the mockery and assaults on Kerry are really going to work. The public seems sick to death of negative campaigns. Openly indulging in one risks backlash. After the SBVT thing, I would have expected Bush to take -- or at least fake -- a higher road. Then again, I understand Bush is heavily involved in his campaign planning, which explains a lot.
:: Morat 8:56 AM :: ::


Now that my pipe is repaired (pinhole leak, but it was the hot water pipe, of course), how long does it take ceiling plaster to dry out? I'm a bit paranoid about my piping now, especially since it's become obvious that my hot water pipes are corroded as hell. Not to mention 30+ years old. So I'd like to know when I can expect those lovely new water spots in my ceiling to be dry to the touch, so I can tell if I spring another leak....
:: Morat 8:29 AM :: ::

:: Sunday, August 29, 2004 ::


I had another pipe break. It's like I have a new hobby called "Find out where the hell the water is coming from".

Luckily, the damage seems minimal. My sister-in-law noticed a new series of water stains, and after popping up into the attic, I could clearly hear the "drip-drip" of the leak, and traced it to a cracked pipe right under the eaves. Why on earth did people build houses with the water lines in such inaccessable places?

I managed to shut off the water to the house, and had a friend over to look at it today. He's pretty certain he can fix the pipe without cutting into the ceiling (when I say it's "under the eaves" I mean it. he's got maybe a foot of room above the pipes. If it's as rusted as the stuff near the hot-water heater, he may have to cut into the ceiling just to get leverage). He'll be back tomorrow to fix it.

I have learned that my attic is a mess. Bits of ductwork, insulation tossed carelessly around, strange holes in the framing for vents that don't exist....

The guys replacing my AC (guy's supposed to be out tomorrow for an estimate) are in for a fun time. Must remember to tip.....
:: Morat 10:44 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