Just wanted to wish you all a terrific night. Drive safely. Hope you have a wonderful November, 2008!
Archives for 2007
It seems to me that a lesson from the Dean-Kerry race is that it’s not enough to be the first choice of a lot of Iowans. It seems equally important to rank well as the second choice of people who support other candidates. As I recall John Kerry went into that state with far from a commanding lead in the overall polls, but he crushed Dean largely because he was the second choice of many more voters. It also matters that Kerry had well-connected operators while Dean had a larger number of young volunteers doing this for the first time, but that’s the game.
Given that, it seems weird to me that nobody (that I know of) is polling Iowans’ second choice in the race. I suppose it doesn’t much matter much in the Democratic field since the second tier doesn’t have that many supporters to throw around, but the bizarro Republican field could go anywhere right now. I for one would love to know where Huckabee’s supporters, or Thompson’s or Giuliani’s would go if their guy failed to make the cut.
Or maybe this has already been done and I don’t know about it. Discuss.
The word from the comments is that Edwards consistently polls as the top second choice of Iowans, by a wide margin. Based on that, and given the three-way photo finish for first choice, I predict that Edwards will take the state.
I have a hard time understanding why anyone would support any of the Republican candidates this year, which makes handicapping difficult. But since McCain seems like the only candidate with[out] some glaring disqualification hanging over his head (fringe loony, criminality, fake like Pam Anderson’s boobs) I will have to go with McCain.
Just in time for the New Year, Andy Borowitz has a few New Year’s predictions:
January: After paying five billion dollars for The Wall Street Journal, Rupert Murdoch will reduce the size of the paper by removing the facts.
June: Population experts will warn that the world’s population will soar in 2008, largely due to the Spears sisters.
August: Sen. Edward Kennedy will abandon plans to write his memoirs, explaining, “I can’t even remember what I did last night.”
More here. Leave your own in the comments.
Consider this an open thread.
I guess Doug Feith was unavailable, so I see that Bill Kristol has a new gig:
William Kristol, one of the nation’s leading conservative writers and a vigorous supporter of the Iraq war, will become an Op-Ed page columnist for The New York Times, the newspaper announced Saturday.
Mr. Kristol will write a weekly column for The Times beginning Jan. 7, the newspaper said. He is editor and co-founder of The Weekly Standard, an influential conservative political magazine, and appears regularly on Fox News Sunday and the Fox News Channel. He was a columnist for Time magazine until that relationship was severed this month.
The Politico notes:
The New York Times’ hiring of Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol to write for its op-ed page caused a frenzy in the liberal blogosphere Friday night, with threats of canceling subscriptions and claims that the Gray Lady had been hijacked by neo-cons.
But Times editorial page editor Andy Rosenthal sees things differently.
I guess there are two ways of looking at this- one is that people are afraid of opposing viewpoints, the other that people see Kristol for what he is, a complete imbecile who has (take your pick) either been completely wrong about everything or lying about everything, and thus unworthy of the column. On the upside, letting Kristol’s views out in public might be a good thing, as people unaccustomed with the the two-bit rag the Weekly Standard will now get a good look at what the current Republican party looks like. From a blogging standpoint, this is the equivalent of hitting the Powerball.
As a side note, I would just like to point out that the past decade has completely demolished the concept of the Peter Principle, described here by Wikipedia:
The Peter Principle is a colloquial principle of hierarchiology, stated as “In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.” Formulated by Dr. Laurence J. Peter in his 1968 book The Peter Principle, the principle pertains to the level of competence of the human resources in a hierarchical organization. The principle explains the upward, downward, and lateral movement of personnel within a hierarchically organized system of ranks.
If the Peter Principle were true, George Bush and Bill Kristol would be the street-cleaner and dogcatcher in Crawford, Texas.
Kevin Drum helpfully knocks down the weirdest anti-Hillary argument coming from the kneejerk Hillary haters, the idea that her support comes just as much from hatred and revenge fantasies as does the opposition. If that were true then the political netroots, famously home to the angriest liberal fringe, ought to be teeming with Clintonistas. Yet that just isn’t true. In our own poll Hillary failed to break two digits, and that was better than she ever did on Kos’s tracking poll.
It’s not that online liberals aren’t angry. Believe me, we are. Imagine that you care about the country like you care about your family. Now imagine that somebody raped your sister and then argued with a self-satisfied smirk that it was your fault. That more or less describes it. And believe me, the physical pain that another Clinton presidency would cause the strong executive torture-and-surveillance conservatives (ha ha, sigh) is not lost on me. But she’s still my last choice. I think that the other two frontrunners would govern better, and I think that Chris Dodd would govern much better, and that matters more to me than making Bill Kristol cry.
A quote poached from Sullivan:
“It’s gone. The breakup of what was the Reagan coalition — social conservatives, defense conservatives, antitax conservatives — it doesn’t mean a whole lot to people anymore,”
– Ed Rollins, Ronald Reagan’s political director and Mike Huckabee’s national campaign chairman.
I have written on the same topic here and here. Regarding issues like immigration or the Huckabee campaign, you really see diametrically opposed camps that won’t settle anymore for sweeping their differences under the rug.
A surprising admission from Barack Obama on why he will not run for president again if he loses this go round. A conversation he had with his wife, Michelle:
“And she said, you know, eight years from now we will have lost a little bit of touch with regular ordinary families . We will still be good people, hopefully. But we will be in a different orbit, a different circle….We’re already there. But we still remember what that was like.
“And I thought that that was a wonderful insight,” he concluded. “We still remember what it’s like to be normal. And I think that’s part of what happens when you’re in Washington for a very long time. You lose touch with that. And then it becomes harder to relinquish power. Because you think that your worth is high up or there’s this title or chauffeur or people open doors for you.”
While I appreciate the honesty, this actually reduces the respect I had for the man. If he doesn’t get the nomination, or if he gets it and loses, then he’s just given everyone the sound bite they need to ensure he doesn’t have a chance at remaining a Senator. I know he’s just being honest, but for a person to say he knows he’ll lose touch with his constituents is politically stupid. I know I wouldn’t vote for a person who makes such an admission. I wouldn’t be surprised if this gets played out in a Clinton ad.
Along with writing 2001: A Space Odyssey, proposing the geosynchronous satellite and a questionable pedophilia charge, Arthur C. Clarke once famously observed that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Clarke undoubtedly had in mind a visitor from the mid 19th century or earlier, but things move faster now. For example, the other day I remarked to an undergraduate student on her third reading through Ender’s Game that the book was more than just a cool read; as far as I can tell Card predicted the internet and the town square zeitgeist of blogging almost verbatim before anybody else. She gave me a quizzical look. After a minute I realized that she had no tangible sense that people wrote books before email and instant chat. I suppose I would have a similar reaction to a book predicting the telephone.
Point being that Ray Kurtzweil and Moore of Moore’s law had it right. While I’m only a tangential expert in one topic and not any sort of expert in the other, stem cells and metamaterials jump out as two techs with the same kind of game-changing potential as radio and the internet. Growing back limbs or damaged organs, bringing back motor control to paraplegics, cloaking devices, “perfect” microscopes that can (theoretically) magnify down to infinity all seem like silly science-fiction stuff. All but the microscope show up as plot devices in the Harry Potter books. Yet these applications have all passed the proof-of-principle stage.
Of course a proof-of-principle is not the same as an invisible plane. Take that astounding report that scientists could make embryonic-like stem cells out of ordinary adult skin cells. If that isn’t magic, right? There was some debate about the usefulness of the technique, which I deferred since the technical details were not available to me yet.
Well, the paper came out in the print magazine just before Christmas and the skeptics were right. The technique knocks in four genes using a lentivirus vector using (as far as I can tell) artificial promoters, and one of the genes (c-myc) is a doozy of a cancer gene. That won’t help with FDA approval.
The stem cell news isn’t even a little bad, unless you expect difficult problems to solve themselves in one step. In fact other news in the same vein is just awesome. In a good example of the unexpected new angles that stem cell treatment will take, doctors working in a mouse model have developed an entirely new way to treat sickle cell anemia.
This is a bad camera phone pic, but this is how my roommate’s dog sleeps.
He’s Buddy, and he’s a good dog.
I officially am sick of pea soup. Until lunch tomorrow.
“There’s a lot of similarities in that it is about the pursuit and you have to be patient and you have to persevere and you have to realize that sometimes you can hunt all day and it doesn’t look like you’re gonna come out with a thing and then the biggest buck in the whole woods comes out and you take it two minutes before the end of shooting time.”
He continued: “In our campaign, a lot of people didn’t think we were even in the game, and here we are at the end of the time leading up to caucuses and we proved that if you just stay out there in the woods, keep your gun ready, it might turn out okay.”
He then went on to do something no responsible hunter would ever do. He fired shots over the heads of the reporters:
In the first 30 minutes, Huckabee, Saltzman and a friend shot three birds. Their last shot flew over the heads of reporters, one of whom cried out: “Oh my God! Oh my God! Don’t shoot. This is traumatizing.”
Even Dick Cheney would probably forgo a hunting trip with Mike Huckabee. I feel slightly embarrassed for candidates who do things that so obviously pander to a population. Watching John Kerry in his hunting gear was painful, as was his trip to a country restaurant, while waiting for his catered lunch to arrive. Watching Democratic candidates show up at gay and lesbian events, when they rarely do at any other time, is patronizing to say the least. Etc., etc., etc. It’s all about what they can do about useless issues.
The biggest issues for me are:
- The national debt. Tell me how you’re going to reduce that. I haven’t heard a thing from anyone on either side about it that shows me they have a clue about what to do or how to do it.
- The war. Don’t just tell me you’re going to bring the troops home, or that George Bush is a bad CinC. tell me HOW you’re going to bring them home, and how you will do it in a way that leaves Iraq in a position to at least have a small chance at success.
- Immigration. Again, don’t tell me you have a solution. Don’t tell me you’re going to seal the borders and kick out all the illegals. Both are impossible. If you have a solution on immigration, tell me, point-by-point what your plan is. Even if I don’t agree with it, I’ll respect you if I know you thought beyong the sound bite.
- Healthcare. Most candidates have a plan. But beyond the sound bite or the talking point, they don’t explain it. If you tell me we’re going to a single payer system, tell me how you are going to accomplish that without bankrupting the system. If you can do it, I’ll be all for it. If you can’t, then I won’t. Again, I’ll respect your position if I know you can explain exactly how you plan to accomplish it.
- Education. We desperately need education reform in this country. No Child Left Behind is a farce. The only thing it accomplishes is forcing teachers to “teach to the test.” It produces students that are dumber than a bag of hammers. So far, the only person who has said anything I even remotely like is, *gasp*, Mike Huckabee. I think one of the most tragic changes in education is the virtual elimination of music and art programs.
So, take off the hunting garb. You look stupid. Don’t tell us Washington needs change. We know that. tell us how you would change it. Don’t tell us you’re the most experienced and then refuse to open up the record on your 8 years int he White House to actually show us what you did. And don’t tell me you’ll stand up to corporate interests unless you can tell me exactly what needs to be done to stand up to them, and how you’ll do it. What’s sad is that candidates who do speak to very specific points about their platform are the ones who don’t get elected. Those who just spout off the talking points and don’t get into specifics are elected in what amounts to a likeability contest.
Finally, when someone asks you who you have in mind for cabinet positions, tell us. Don’t bullshit us. We know you know and it would be very helpful to know not just about you, but about the people you’re going to surround yourselves with.
The electorate has become so dumbed down because we just accept the talking points, sound bites, and he said/she said of politics. We accept that candidates are going to waffle, flip-flop, refuse to answer, or tell us what we want to hear. And then we’re totally surprised when they get into office and we realize we elected a complete moron.
Update: By the way, I set this up so you can only vote once. So it should be pretty indicative of how the contributors to the blog feel.
Update II: Looks like an Edwards/Obama ticket for Balloon Juice readers so far.
Split Pea Soup.
Ham hock, split peas, carrots, etc.
For whatever reason, I skipped the French Onion soup idea I had been tossing around.
*** Update ***
In another crock pot thread, it was mentioned that turnips are an under-appreciated vegetable. Is this true? I love turnips, and try to find as many excuses as I can to eat them with a meal (if you haven’t had hashed turnips, you have not lived). But then again, I always was weird. As a kid, my favorite vegetables were lima beans and brussel sprouts, and I love beets, so maybe I am atypical as I have a lot of friends who don’t like any of those.
BTW- sorry for the lack of substantive posts, but I am unmotivated and will start again on 2 Jan.