Saturday, October 30, 2004

Contingency plan

171 pounds. Damn. If Bush wins, I plan to get liposuctioned and pie him with all the fat I gained fighting his stupid candidacy.

Update: actually 171 is way too low, I was thinking 181, but that's what it said. I don't know what happened. Bush is sabotaging the scales in my sister's house.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Seeing twigs instead of forest

Got home at midnight tonight, and 10:30 yesterday. I don't know when I expected to have free time to do some work. I have to go to the climbing gym at least once, or my evil finger muscles will use the absence to collapse into nothingness.

As to how the campaign's going, darned if I know. I knew much more about the overall campaign when I wasn't volunteering. I don't even listen at the staff meetings for local news, when I can work in that time. I'm trying instead to figure out why we put a volunteer attorney in two polling stations at the same time. I argued that she volunteered, so it's her fault if she can't pull it off, but deputy counsel overruled. That's the twig level I'm on, I have no idea about the forest view.

Max Cleland came through the office yesterday. I shook his one hand and said, "you're doing a great job, Senator", and he said "no, you are." He hugged and kissed about every woman in the office - a Southern charmer. Kirsten Dunst came through this a.m., but I was too late - not sure if she hugged and kissed every man there.

So we may have an idea for what the Republican game plan will be, and it could be nasty. I hope to write more about this later before next Tuesday, but I probably won't have time to write too much more. We'll see.

Avoiding the scale in my sister's bathroom...

Monday, October 25, 2004

My fall and rise

Yesterday I showed up at Kerry HQ prepared for my exalted position of lackey to deputy counsel. Counsel was gone, and had the documents with her that I was going to use. So I got demoted, from lackey back to flunky. After calling absentee voters for 4 hours, counsel showed up and I returned to power, putting lawyers in their places.

Getting serious for a moment, I'd guess about half of the homes I called were African-American families. It's something of a mark of the racial separation of the country that my voice was in far more black households yesterday than I've ever visited personally. It probably shows I haven't done very much to overcome that racial divide on a personal level.

Got in a run yesterday, and the food doesn't seem out of control. Maybe I'll come out of this without looking like the girl who ate the piece of gum in Willy Wonka.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

First day on the job

The Kerry folks are very nice and very happy to have an extra lawyer volunteering, especially one that's here fulltime until Nov. 2. I am catupulting up the ranks to the position of lackey to deputy counsel for Central Florida, with the likely job of organizing the part-time volunteer attorneys to make sure they're going to the right places where they're needed.

At first glance that seems kind of like semi-important work, the only problem being one that can be described by my friends, that "organizational skills" are not my strongest points. I'm thinking I can do this though. So there.

Sister's weight scale says 176. So far, so good.

This blog is going to go in a little different direction for the next 10 days. I'm sitting in the San Francisco Airport now, about to head off to Orlando to volunteer for the Kerry campaign until election day. Since this might be an interesting time, I'll try and do a more diary-like blog.

This may also help in my more typical shallow pursuit: keeping off weight. I've had a lot more time free to exercise in the last 2 months, and it's been great. I've been eating a lot AND losing weight. That's already changing as I've gotten busy recently. I weighed 173 last week, and 177 last night. I'll use the blog to try and control eating and get some exercise, or by Nov. 2 I'll be too huge to get down to the polls.


I'm supposed to join an anti-dirty tricks legal team tomorrow. They don't know anything about me, and I expect some inefficiency with all the new manpower flooding in. We'll see what happens.

Meanwhile, I'll be checking out this website,, to try and get caught up on whatever dirty tricks might be out there.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Modelling his America after Putin's work

Bush's support and admiration for Russia's Vladimir Putin is well-known. One concept making its rounds is the gradual "Putinization of America" as the Bush Administration and its allies show decreased belief in civil rights, and in some cases like Karl Rove, outright contempt for democracy.

If any reporter has a chance to ask Bush a question, it would be interesting to ask him what lessons America should draw from Putin's "war against terror". Bush might show his admiration is more than an arms-length relationship.
Bringing "Question Time" to the US government

Kerry could make an interesting promise that would attract press attention: that he would bring some form of the British parliamentary "Question Time" to the US government if elected. Question Time gives parliamentary members the chance to ask questions of government ministers, including the prime minister. Kerry could do something similar in either or both houses of Congress. It would show the contrast between him and Bush, who is unwilling to be exposed to differing viewpoints. The Republican leadership in Congress also couldn't reject this offer out of hand without looking like Bush sycophants. And it would be a good idea.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Still more short items

From Media Matters: news media more concerned about Mary Cheney fake controversy than Bush flip-flop over Osama Bin Laden. (Thanks Melinda for the tip).

Video shows Bush debating-style deterioration over the last ten years. I watched this, and it's pretty remarkable. One linguist speculated Bush is deliberately acting stupid. I have trouble believing that he would dumb down his style from whatever worked in Texas.

Homo sapiens may have interbred with homo erectus in Asia in the last 50,000 years. Maybe this explains some aspects of the current president. It seems pretty doubtful to me though, considering how little evidence exists for our interbreeding with Neandertals, which are much closer relatives than H. erectus.

Heck, two more items from the Post:

For the first time in years, foreigners are disinvesting net dollars from the US. This could lead to a globally-disastrous run on the dollar, if some country loses its nerve and tries to sell all its dollars first. I hope it doesn't happen, but if it does, let it happen now so Bush can get his fair share of blame.

Greenspan says high household debt not a problem. He says people can handle the high debt, even if there's a housing bubble. How about those people with the adjustable-rate mortgages he's been advocating? He should read the previous article - what's going to happen to those rates when there's no foreign money coming in to keep them low? Greenspan is a bozo, and I'm getting cranky.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Bush hatred for UN more important than Iraq or US soldiers' lives

Bush rejected a plan to bring in several hundred Muslim troops, apparently including Arab troops, because of the condition that the troops operate under UN command. (Tip from Obsidian Wings, another great blog). Rather than admit that the UN has any use, Bush told the troops to stay away. Their purpose was to guard the UN compound. Without their help, the UN will not put a large ground team in Iraq to help prepare for January election. Bush stinks.

I wrote earlier that I think something like this might actually be Kerry's plan for Iraq: a split US-UN military command (scroll to August 7). The scenario: Kerry convenes a summit, a group of countries offer thousands of troops if they're under UN command, and Kerry tells America that we'd be stupid not to take the deal. Split commands are stupid militarily, but here they are smart politically, and they're better than not having any friends at all, which is Bush's plan.

Boy, I'm smart in calling this one. And anyone who claims I said last winter that Dean had the Democratic nomination locked up was talking to my stupid twin, not me.

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Saturday, October 16, 2004

Short pieces:

The draft
Kerry is really stretching credibility in claiming that Bush may bring back the draft. That could only happen in an extreme emergency, under which Kerry might also have to bring back the draft. To be fair to Kerry, his enlarging the military and plan for Iraq would make the draft somewhat less likely under his presidency.

All that being said, Kerry might feel he is doing the nation a service by either locking Bush into the "no draft" position, or making Bush pay a high price should it happen. This would be the Bush counterpart to Kerry being locked in on not raising taxes for people earning less than $200,000. I don't think saying Bush will create a "great potential" for the draft is the appropriate way to lock Bush down, however.

A Bush quote:
''Sometimes a show of force by one side can really clarify things."

That quote was favoring leaving Ariel Sharon alone to use military force in the West Bank and Gaza. The result has been less than clarifying. I think though that the real reason that Bush and his administration have stayed out is because they knew they couldn't match Clinton's personal ability to negotiate a deal, and didn't want the comparison to be so obvious.

Another excellent analogy, from the same website:
"If America were Iraq, What would it be Like?"

An ethical dilemma
A Democratic Congressman in a tight race in Oregon, David Wu, was involved in some kind of assault on an ex-girlfriend 28 years ago, as a college student. Neither Wu nor the woman will discuss the details - the woman never pressed charges. The question is whether this disqualifies him from re-election. Wu apologizes for his "inexcusable behavior" but is otherwise non-forthcoming. My take is he should either cooperate fully with questions so the world can judge him, or the woman could (anonymously, through reporters) let the world know what she thinks of him now, but absent either thing occurring, he's disqualified.
Hard questions equal trick questions

I'm still amazed by Bush's refusal to admit ever making a mistake other than appointing certain people he wouldn't name. Recap is here:

Bush, who had said during an April news conference that he could not think of a mistake, did not point to anything specific when asked again on Friday. He said that there are "lot of tactical decisions" in war that historians may question, and that he has "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."

I'd run these clips on commercials if I were in charge at the Kerry campaign, with an addition like "We all know someone who cannot admit a mistake. Would you give that person a position of responsibility? Do you want someone like that for President?"

For what it's worth, here's the conservative response, from the Free Republic website:

I think President Bush sidestepped this landmine deftly, but it clearly show's a moderator bias in attempting to give Kerry a powerful parting shot

Other conservative responses are at the link above. Along with Bush's refusal to answer hypothetical questions, it shows the line of thought is to say any hard questions are trick questions, and refuse to answer them.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Science news, starting with the very good news

Malaria vaccine proven effective. This could save millions of lives ever year, including some people in America when global warming makes the American South more habitable for the malaria-bearing mosquitoes.

Bad news about amphibians. They're disappearing everywhere.

Giant virus qualifies as a living organism. Unlike other viruses, it can produce many of its own proteins. Snobbish biologists have denied viruses are organisms, even though they reproduce and evolve, just because they require other cells to function. This virus puts a hole in that theory. Now biologists just need to admit that computer programs are also alive.

The science blogs on the left side of this page always have good stuff to look at too.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Extreme fact-checking

Kevin Drum has a great post, doing detailed analysis and evaluation of the distortions by both Bush and Kerry in the last debate. Result: both candidates lied, but Bush was far worse.

My minor addition is from my own post back on April 23, regarding Bush's wetland promises:

"The not-so-good article that's half-worth mentioning is an AP report carried by the Washington Post, saying Bush plans to recreate, improve, and protect 3 million acres of wetlands [UPDATE: link doesn't work now - try this site instead for the same information]. The fine print is that one million of the three million acres is slated to be "protected." The government already has the job of "protecting" wetlands, so that is an empty promise. "Improving" applies to another million, but large improvement projects are already in the works, so he could be taking credit for something already planned. Improvement could also be extremely marginal and still count under his plan. The million new acres could be good, unless he's counting the wetland restoration projects already in the works."

Kevin is over-generous in rating the debate statement "I've got a plan to increase the wetlands by 3 million" as a minor lie, when it was only 1 million acres.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Yet more interesting political-ish blogs

The best is Fafblog, a great satire site, featuring the authors Fafnir, Giblets, and The Medium Lobster. It's not easy to describe - you're better off reading it.

Also interesting is Rudepundit, where "rude" is an understatement. Its posts are incredibly profane, violent, well-written, and knowledgeable. Unfortunately, I'd also consider it somewhat offensive to women.

I'm looking for a funny conservative blog. I can make myself read opinions I disagree with more readily if they can make me laugh. The best I've found so far is the Politburo Diktat, but there's got to be something better out there.

Friday, October 08, 2004

A dangerous bus driver

After graduating from college, I spent six summers driving buses in Denali National Park in Alaska. It was a well-paying job, partly because it involved driving a difficult, narrow dirt road with dangerously soft shoulders.

I remember talking to a fellow driver one time and telling him that I considered this other driver "most likely to roll a bus [down a hill]." He asked me why, and I said "nothing is ever her fault," that she never admits a mistake. The next summer, she drove a bus off the road. It didn't roll, thank God, but it did turn mostly on its side. People were lucky to just have minor injuries.

In tonight's debate, Bush refused to admit that he's made a mistake in the last 4 years, other than some people he's appointed but refused to name (apparently those stupid underlings make mistakes). This really struck me - he isn't qualified to be a bus driver. I don't know if it would affect Bush supporters or undecideds.

No real stylistic gaffes from either candidate. Too bad.
Post-law school careers

My law school classmate Junichi has a post about another classmate of ours who has allegedly become a high-class prostitute to pay off school loans (risque picture at the link). Junichi is right, there were lots of rumors about this woman when she came to campus, partly because she used to be on the TV show, Baywatch. It's funny how different (as in normal) someone looks in real life than in modeling pictures.

Federal prosecutors were going after her on criminal charges for prostitution and tax evasion, but are now "only" trying to use civil forfeiture to keep all her money that they had seized in the investigation. My main question is, why are the feds wasting time on this? Local police don't prosecute prostitution for the most part unless it involves streetwalking, human smuggling/slavery, or other more serious crimes. I would think federal investigations would prioritize even more carefully than city investigations, and stay away from the closest thing to a victimless crime.

I suspect the reason why they might be going after her is because the high-end aspect means she has money that they can seize. It all comes down to economics.

An additional note: she seems clearly guilty of tax evasion, which is bad. I don't see why they have failed to prosecute her for that.

Second note: Junichi laments that this option for paying off loans is unavailable to him. Don't be so sure.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

One for international democracy

The European Union recently agreed to begin negotiating with Turkey for membership in the EU, a move that credited Turkey with significant improvements in human rights and the democratic process. A major reason and impetus within Turkey for improving its record was to get the chance to join the EU.

I think this shows the advantage of bringing democracy to international institutions. I've been a long-time supporter of international federalism, the idea of transforming or creating international institutions like the EU on a broader scale. Many years ago I was heavily involved with a group called the Association to Unite the Democracies. They've worked for exactly this idea - international democracy, an end to war, no more armies. Their history goes back to the 1930s, when they advocated a federation of America with the European democracies to stop Hitler from taking over the world. The group was also interesting in how its support cut across traditional left-right divisions. And on a personal level, both my grandfather and father were involved with the group over the decades.

I still think it's the right idea, but I just don't see it happening anytime soon. The EU could be a model, something that's far more democratic and hopeful than what many broader institutions like the World Trade Organization have become. Maybe someday they'll learn...

Monday, October 04, 2004

A thought experiment for Bush

Suppose in 1999 that Clinton, with Gore's approval, had started a war that Bush believed was the wrong war, in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Would Bush have refused to criticize the Clinton/Gore decision in the 2000 campaign?

Of course Bush refuses to answer hypothetical questions, so he could avoid this question. Too bad that it means we have no idea how he will act under hypothetical situations. We can guess though.