Sunday, October 31, 2004

To quote Snopes:
The Washington Redskins have proved to be a time-tested election predictor. In the previous 15 elections, if the Washington Redskins have lost their last home game prior to the election, the incumbent party has lost the White House. When they have won, the incumbent has stayed in power.

This election year, that deciding game takes place on Sunday, October 31 ... vs. Green Bay.

Green Bay just put it away 28-14.

Thursday, October 21, 2004 - Kerry promotes science, technology as job engines - What I want to know is why in the HELL hasn't he been pounding this as a central part of his economic plan from day one? It lets him unify his environmental and economic policies, and gives him an economic plank completely outside of Bush's world. He can say "If the economy doesn't improve, Bush will give the rich another tax cut. And if that doesn't work, he'll try giving the rich another tax cut. And if there's still no improvement, he has an ace in the hole - give the rich a tax cut. I've got a better idea. If nothing else, at least this idea hasn't been proven to be completely useless." He should have been pushing science as a central ideological difference from day one. "I support stem cell research because it could save thousands of lives; he opposes it because of some vague idea that it kills babies, which anyone with even a passing knowledge of the subject knows it doesn't. I support an economic policy based around moving our economy into the future; he supports one based around taking CEOs word for it when they tell him they need a tax cut. I support an environmental policy that will protect the vital ecosystems that keep our planet, and all of us, alive; he supports slashing, burning and drilling our way into a future that may or may not be able to actually support human life. Now, you can take your pick here, but it's not just a difference of opinion. I make my decisions based on evidence; he makes his based on faith."

Thursday, October 07, 2004

With all the absolutely justified celebration about SpaceShipOne and the potential for private space flight, this comic makes a good point that is easy to forget. SpaceShipOne was not designed in a vacuum. It is built with off-the-shelf technology. None of that technology would have existed but for the decades of ludicrously expensive and complex research and development done by NASA. Private spaceflight is a brave new frontier, but let's not get carried away with the "abolish the government" stuff while we're at it.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The Veep Debate:

Well, here were the fireworks. Edwards and Cheney were at each others throats, at least in the beginning. It got more collegial toward the end.

Advantage first 30 minutes: Cheney. Unlike Bush, Cheney actually has a basic grasp of the issues. And unlike Kerry, Edwards seems much more comfortable talking about domestic than international issues. While I don't agree with what he was saying, Cheney had a coherent message (this is important, the world is behind us, and we can't fail) that he presented forcefully. He manipulated the statistics mercilessly, in terms of the size of the coalition and the proportion of costs and casualties, and Edwards' refutations were lacking. Saying that Cheney is manipulating the statistics isn't enough. Saying he's manipulating the statistics and providing your own is not enough either. You have to say he's manipulating the statistics, provide your own, AND explain why yours are more relevant. Saying "we've taken 90% of the COALITION casualties" was half what he needed to say, but leaving it there did not refute what Cheney said, that it ignored the sacrifices of the Iraqis. The second part of the sentence needed to be "you said we had a grand coalition. That fact that you've also managed to get a bunch of Iraqi police killed does not change the fact that the Republic of Tonga, whose contribution is of course appreciated, is not a substitute for Germany."

Advantage second 30 minutes: Edwards. It all started with Halliburton. Edwards prosecutorial instincts kicked in, and he started drilling Cheney to the floor. When they traded attacks on their records, Edwards came out on top by far. We've all heard about the $87 Billion. But Cheney voted against the Department of Education? He was one of 4 people that voted against MLK Day? He voted against freakin' Meals on Wheels? Edwards was absolutely rolling, and the auditorium I was sitting in was by far the loudest it would get. This segment closed up with the Gay Marraige segment, which Edwards pursued unenthusiastically, but Cheney basically refused to argue. That comes out to an advantage Edwards, as Bush/Cheney is counting on the religious right vote, and if they're no tougher on them immoral gays than Kerry/Edwards...

Advantage last 30 minutes: Draw. No one had anything going here. Cheney was running on a record of failure and he knew it. Edwards, despite his clear comfort level here, was not hitting the issues. He kept saying "we have a plan" and "we'll improve health care", but he didn't say how until the very end, and even that was kind of halfass. The point on TV ads was critical, but totally opaque to anyone who hasn't studied the issue. He needed to elaborate on "standing up to big insurance and big pharma", and he didn't. What does that MEAN? He needed to break out the figures on the money big pharma spends on research versus advertising versus what they bring home in profits, along with big insurance's tendency to jack up rates just because they can, and then say what he's going to do about it.

Advantage closing statements: Cheney by default. Cheney's closing statement was dull and uninspiring. Edwards' was horrid. You never, NEVER say "the light of America is flickering". You say "the light of America is in danger" or something like that. Never, EVER suggest that America has been weakened, because if America has been weakened, then Americans have been weakened, and no one wants to vote for a guy that called them weak. And John? We know your #$(@*%! daddy worked in a mill, OK?

Overall advantage: TBA. A lot of punches thrown, not sure how many landed. This was not the Luke Skywalked/Darth Vader match I hoped for, but neither did Edwards come off looking like a chump. Probably no big whoop either way.

Meals on Wheels!?

Monday, October 04, 2004