September 29, 2008

Covering Your Fannie?

This is a little long, but very enlightening. I know that politicians generally think that we have short memories, but when you consider what the Democrats have been saying lately, this goes to the extreme.



Thanks to Ken for alerting me to this.

UPDATE: Here's a quote from Stephen Labaton's September 11, 2003 article from the New York Times:
Among the groups denouncing the proposal today were the National Association of Home Builders and Congressional Democrats who fear that tighter regulation of the companies could sharply reduce their commitment to financing low-income and affordable housing.

''These two entities -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- are not facing any kind of financial crisis,'' said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. ''The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.''

Representative Melvin L. Watt, Democrat of North Carolina, agreed.

''I don't see much other than a shell game going on here, moving something from one agency to another and in the process weakening the bargaining power of poorer families and their ability to get affordable housing,'' Mr. Watt said.

This seems to fly in the face of Democratic claims that this crisis is a result of Bush Administration policy. (I would have linked to the article, but the Times requires registration, and I have it in a .pdf file.)

September 27, 2008

But I Could Be Wrong...

I'm not just some guy who lives to bash the media (see below). I call 'em like I see 'em, and here's two that I think the AP did all right with.

Fact Checking the Debate
I have small issues with a few of the things said, but overall, I thought it was fair.

Who Won Debate? TV Pundits Don't Agree On a Winner.
Again, pretty fair overall.

For my money (I watched it twice) I thought it was mighty close. In the end, I have to give the smallest of margins to McCain for a couple of reasons:

  1. He finished strong. He got better and better while Obama just seemed to become more and more flustered.
  2. Unlike some others out there, I didn't think McCain had to wow people over with this debate. In fact, I think that although Obama was more eloquent "off-the-cuff" than he usually is, I'm not sure if he rose to the expectations people had for him. That performance was a far cry from a candidate who is supposed to lead us into the promised land, or send a tingle up our legs, or whatever. Is that, then, a failure? A letdown? I don't know. I'm not sure I want to watch either one of them for the next 4-8 years, honestly.
  3. One moment that really stood out to me. After McCain talked about the bracelet from the soldier's mother, Obama tried to counter with his own "I have a bracelet" story. Unfortunately for him, he couldn't remember the soldier's name, and had to look down at his notes. It was a cringe-worthy moment, and made McCain look genuine while making Obama look too rehearsed and phony.
  4. One last thought. It worries me that Obama argued that going into Iraq to remove Saddam created our problems today with Iran by taking away an enemy of theirs. I'm sure it's true, of course, that Iran becomes stronger when you take away their aggressive enemy, but is Obama really implying that we should have left a guy who was not only torturing and killing hundreds of thousands of his own people, but also participating in the largest scam in history (oil-for-food) in power simply because he might have kept his neighbor in line? That's genuinely scary. That's like the FBI saying "let's not bother going after Al Capone because he keeps the other families in check." First of all, I could make the argument that if we were to leave Saddam in power, that would have been an even more risky move as Iran still would have had plenty of reason (if not more reason) to pursue nuclear weapons with a psychotic dictator just over the border. Add to that that Saddam would likely have become even more aggressive in return, and you have a bit of a powder keg. Not good. Second, the only reason that Iran is stronger with Saddam gone is because the country (Iraq) is "in between" governments right now. I think the argument can be made that once a new government is firmly established in Iraq, especially one that is on friendly terms with the west, not only will Iran lose any strength they may have gained, they will lose some of what they originally had. Of course, all this is speculation, but as I said, that kind of logic, that kind of thinking, from someone about to take the oval office, really scares me. I'm surprised I haven't seen anyone else comment on it yet.

That Explains A Lot About The AP

They can correct the article to reflect the release date of The Silver Chalice, but can't manage to run a corrected headline.

"The Films of Actor Paul Newsman"

Really? One of the most famous actors, I don't know...EVER, and you couldn't spell his name?

BTW: This may be corrected by the time you check it out, but take my word for it--they screwed it up.

UPDATE: Yep, they corrected it.

Sometimes Nothing Can Be A Real Cool Hand

Paul Newman lost his battle with cancer yesterday.

"Is that your answer, Old Man? I guess you're a hard case, too."

I didn't always agree with his politics, but I always loved his acting.

R.I.P., good Sir.

September 22, 2008

The Proof Is In The Pudding...I Mean Voting

So you think McCain doesn't know much about the economy? Think he's out of touch with what the people want? Just in case you'd better take a quick look at this. It's a report on the Senate, put out by the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW).
The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) is the lobbying arm of CAGW. The CCAGW mission is to advocate the elimination of waste and inefficiency in government through nonpartisan public education programs and lobbying activities. Each year, CCAGW tabulates its Congressional Ratings, evaluating how each member of Congress measures up on key tax and spending votes.
The report on the Senate covers 35 key votes from last year, explains whether the taxpayers "won" or "lost" the vote, and follows up by tabulating how often each senator was on the side of the taxpayers. Some very interesting results:
  • Obviously, Sarah Palin is not on the list since she isn't a senator, but John McCain? On the side of the taxpayers 100% of the time. That's right--he voted against waste and to benefit the taxpayers every single time. And his lifetime record is 88%. Not too shabby. In fact no other senator had a 100% rating for last year.
  • Barack Obama, who claims to be on the side of the taxpayers, measured fairly close to the bottom of the barrel at 10% (18% lifetime). But that's not even the worst percentage...
  • Obama's running mate, Joe Biden (along with a bunch of other senators) came in at 0% (22% lifetime). That means in every single vote that he cast for those 35 key votes, he voted on the side that would hurt you, the taxpayer. Every single time.
I think it's pretty clear who's really got our best interests in mind.

*To be fair, though, most Democrats score consistantly poorly on these rankings, mainly because they always want to--you guessed it--raise taxes. They're generally for bigger government, also. So if you see the government taking more of your money and spending it to spread its influence into more and more of your life as a good thing, then maybe you're all right with the Obama/Biden rankings.

September 17, 2008

The Coolest Thing I've Seen In A While

You know how when you were young, you believed in cool things, like Santa, and the Easter Bunny, and Playboy models? And then some adult told you none of them were real, and pretty much ruined your life? This totally makes up for it.

September 16, 2008

Why Brian Austin Green Is The Luckiest Man Alive

Gulp!

For those following the "Brian Austin Green luckiest man" Google search here, I apologize. The above link was to a smoking hot picture of Megan Fox. It's no longer there. But I have confidence that you can find any number of smoking hot pictures of Megan Fox out there if you try.

September 14, 2008

I'm Sure It Won't Be Long...

before we see a headline like this:

We're Pretty Sure Palin Would Be Lying If She Had Said Some Stuff That We Were Hoping She Would.

The latest, from CNN (big surprise there) has the headline "Palin Never In Iraq, Campaign Now Says."

As NewsBusters points out, though, she never actually claimed she was ever in Iraq!

This is getting ridiculous, and it's beyond excusable. Palin never claimed she was in Iraq. "Palin officials" never claimed she was in Iraq. It seems that the only one who ever actually claimed she was in Iraq is an unnamed "Palin aide in Alaska." So, let me get this straight--the credibility of the entire story rests on someone who could possibly be some high-schooler doing an internship in the governor's office after school and most likely didn't know the difference between Kuwait (where Palin did visit) and Iraq?

The Boston Globe has a little more, and handles it a little better:
Following her selection last month as John McCain's running mate, aides said Palin had traveled to Ireland, Germany, Kuwait, and Iraq to meet with members of the Alaska National Guard. During that trip she was said to have visited a "military outpost" inside Iraq. The campaign has since repeated that Palin's foreign travel included an excursion into the Iraq battle zone.
They still don't report when these things were said, or by whom, but I noticed that in one case, they use the term "Iraq battle zone," which it appears she did, by visiting a military installation on the border.

At least the Globe makes it clear that she only went to the border because she wasn't allowed to go any further.
But she did not venture into Iraq, Osborn said. "You have to have permission to go into a lot of areas, and [the crossing] is where her permissions were," he said.
The last thing that struck me is that both papers seem to imply that her occasional claim of traveling to Ireland, although technically true, should be discounted because it was only a refuelling stop. In nearly the same breath, though, even though she was in a potentially dangerous area on the border of Iraq, visiting troops that, as a matter of course, had to go into Iraq, she somehow can't count that because she technically didn't cross the border, as if she had somehow managed to do a hokey-pokey and put her left foot in and shook it all about, all of this wouldn't be an issue.

If anyone has any legitimate story with quotes from Palin herself or a named source, saying that Palin went into Iraq, would you send them to me, or post the links in the comments section?

UPDATE: I guess I need to read more carefully. It looks like Palin did cross into Iraq, however briefly. The NewsBusters uses a quote from the CNN article that appears to have been changed (another "stealth edit"?). The line in question, as quoted by NewsBusters, says
"The Boston Globe reported Saturday that Palin visited the Iraqi side of a border crossing -- but never journeyed past the checkpoint."
The CNN version?
"The Boston Globe, however, reported Saturday that in response to questions about the trip, Alaska National Guard officials and campaign aides said Palin did not go past the Kuwait-Iraq border."
I have no proof that CNN changed their copy, but the Globe article seems to indicate that she did, in fact, enter Iraq proper.
"Her visit to Iraq itself..." (bold mine)

"Palin did not stay the night in Iraq..." (bold mine)
Why say that unless she was there during the day?

Whatever. Maybe we should stop being nit-picky and look at the candidates for president. Can we start listing the trips that they've made? I guess we could start with Obama's vacation to Bali, where he worked on his book, or maybe his trip to Germany to speak in front of the Germans while electing not to meet with actual Americans...wait, do those count?

Eh...

So I watched the season premiere of Saturday Night Live last night. Random thoughts:

1) Tina Fey really does look a lot like Sarah Palin. It freaked me out a little at first.

2) Speaking of Sarah Palin, they didn't give her too hard of a time. I think there was maybe a half-dozen or so. And I could count the Obama jokes on one hand. Oh no, wait...no I couldn't BECAUSE THERE WEREN'T ANY!! Not one. (Maybe I missed one...anyone?) I find that a little strange that this close to a presidential election that SNL chose to poke fun at only the Republican VP candidate. Granted, the opening sketch also made fun of Hillary "third place" Clinton, but she's not running, is she.

3) Casey Wilson is hot in that "Will you be my girlfriend and wear oversized tee shirts and white socks a lot?" kind of way.

4) What was going on with that camera work? Whoever was running things seemed to have them on the wrong person, and things seemed to be framed oddly.

5) The joke they stole from themselves (the locker room pep talk, originally with Peyton Manning) was weak. It's a long drive to the punchline, and when you know what's coming it's even longer.

6) Phelps stumbled once or twice, but did better than I thought he would. He's no Manning, though. (Manning's fake United Way commercial for SNL is hysterically funny.)

7) Really? No Obama jokes? In the couple of months you've been off the air, you couldn't come up with one thing to poke fun at? You couldn't get Tim Meadows to come back and do a bowling sketch or something?

8) Making fun of home schooling AND public education...sweet.

September 13, 2008

Google This! Some More

UPDATE: Ever since installing Google's new browser, Chrome, the Google Installer continues to try to connect to IPs for everyone but Google. The last two IPs were for Yahoo! and Amazon.

This sure seems like some kind of data mining to me...

UPDATE UPDATE: Looks like Google is going to be a little to busy with this and this to "fix" their browser any time soon. (Interesting...that second article about the partnership with Yahoo! seems to make my discovery above seem even more suspicious.)

UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE: Here's a copy of Chrome's privacy policy. I just buzzed through it quickly, but I didn't see anything about trying to send or get information when the browser isn't open, or is uninstalled.

UPDATE X 4: Okay, this morning, it finally tried to connect to an IP owned by Google; however, about five minutes after that, it tried to connect to a website apparently owned by the credit reporting company Experian, and which is apparently trying to sell you a "protect your credit" service. That's the scariest thing yet, I think.

UPDATE X 5: A little more searching tells me consumerinfo.com is apparently also known as freecreditreport.com (I bet you're singing the song right now...) They've been in trouble with the FTC and had a number of consumer complaints.

September 12, 2008

This Is News???

I really expected more from The Washington Post.

I mean, really? The thrust of the headline and the opening is that Palin somehow made a gaffe in her statements.
Gov. Sarah Palin linked the war in Iraq with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, telling an Iraq-bound brigade of soldiers that included her son that they would "defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans."

The idea that the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein helped al-Qaeda plan the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a view once promoted by Bush administration officials, has since been rejected even by the president himself.
Yeah. Except that's not what she said. She said that they would defend people from the enemies (not the Iraqis) who did those things. The paper is making the assumption (or hoping that readers will) that since the troops were "Iraq-bound" that she was talking about "the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein." Obviously that's not true for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that that government, and Saddam Hussein, no longer exist. So she's clearly not talking about them. The paper knows this, though, as the very next line explains:
But it is widely agreed that militants allied with al-Qaeda have taken root in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion.
Oh, so you mean al-Qaeda, which did plan, carry out, and rejoice in the deaths can actually be found in Iraq, where those Iraqi-bound troops seem to be bound for? And so the troops might defend the innocent (which I would argue includes the Iraqi people/government themselves) from al-Qaeda in Iraq?

Isn't that what she said???

Shit like this really pisses me off because it preys upon ignorance of both facts and language. And the Post should know better.

The rest of it has problems, too, but not as bad as this.

UPDATE: Ace (and others) beat me on this because I was doing stupid things, like e-mailing this info to Ken and going to work. As it turns out, that line about al-Qaeda taking root in Iraq? It was a stealth edit. It wasn't there in the first draft.

Google This!

Okay, so I downloaded the new Google browser, Chrome, and installed it. First off, I'm not all that impressed. I haven't had much time to play with it, but so far, I'm doing everything that Chrome can do with Firefox and a few add-ons. And frankly, it seems a bit slow when loading pages. But I am really concerned about one thing, though. After installing Chrome, I've noticed that every half-hour or so, my firewall reports that Google Installer is trying to connect to the Internet. I let it through at first, figuring it might be trying to update or something. After a half-dozen or so times, though, I began to get a little suspicious. The program seemed to be working, and I checked manually for updates, so why did the installer need to connect to the Internet (and sometimes my trusted zone...trusted zone?? Stranger Danger!!!) I've also noticed that the IPs seem to be different every time.

To be frank, whether or not this behavior is intended, I don't like it. I traced a couple of the IPs and so far, not one has actually led to Google. There have been a few related to other, non-Google software that I have on my Computer. Anyone out there more knowledgeable than I know what might be behind this behavior? Is it some kind of data mining?

As you can see, I'm not the only one who's noticed this. In the first link a Google rep (at least I think it's a rep) says that it needs to connect to download the rest of the Chrome package. Yes, it does, but we're both beyond that step. We've downloaded and installed the complete package. We're up and running. In the second one, the poster says that even after uninstalling Chrome the Installer is still trying to connect, so I'm skeptical that that explanation is valid.

Considering that I'm not seeing any major difference with this browser as opposed to others, and the constant attempts to connect my computer to various IPs even after uninstalling (which I'm guessing would have been done without my permission, had I no firewall) I would advise you all to be a little wary about downloading and installing Chrome.

September 06, 2008

Some Of Us Never Thought He Went Away

Mickey Rourke is getting good reviews as a washed-up wrestler in Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler:

Talk about comebacks. After many years in the wilderness and being considered MIA professionally, Mickey Rourke, just like the washed-up character he plays, attempts a return to the big show in "The Wrestler." Not only does he pull it off, but Rourke creates a galvanizing, humorous, deeply moving portrait that instantly takes its place among the great, iconic screen performances.
Diner is one of my favorite movies. Best Rourke line: when Rourke's (uncultured, ladies-man) character, Boogie, asks an upper class young lady with whom he has been flirting, her name.

"Jane Chisholm. As in the Chisholm Trail."

After she rides off on a horse, he turns to Kevin Bacon's character Fenwick.

"What fuckin' Chisholm Trail?"

September 05, 2008

When Did Bill Maher Become Such An Asshole?

I used to like the guy. The last couple of years, I haven't been able to stand him. He used to be witty, and insightful. Now, most of the time he comes off as smug and condescending. Oh, well...maybe he's learned who his audience is.

Regardless, I happened to run across this op-ed piece of his in Salon. It's fairly offensive and demonstrates a significant amount of prejudice and ignorance. Bill thinks that all Republicans are dumb? Wow. Does he subscribe to any other insulting or degrading stereotypes that we should know about? Does he think all black people like watermelon? Does he think that all Mexicans are shiftless and lazy? Does he think that all women are weak-willed and emotional? The whole "Republicans are stupid" line is old. It was old in 2000, it was old in 2004 and it's still old. Worst of all, it's not true. I posted on it a while back. Here's the highlights.
The Democrats in this country do not have a stranglehold on intelligence, or culture, or diversity of thought. For them to even think that they do, much less speak or write it, is the worst kind of prejudice.

So, for those of you out there who voted for George Bush, and are tired of the aspersions being cast on your intellect, here's what you do: The next time someone states, or even hints, that Bush won because the people who voted for him are ignorant, hit them with some facts from the people at Gallup.

* If the uneducated people of the country had NOT voted, not only wouldn't Bush have lost, he would have actually won by a larger margin. According to Gallup, nearly a third of all voters had an education described as "high school or less." Of that third, 54% voted for Kerry, while only 46% voted for Bush. Yes, that's right--more uneducated people voted Democrat than Republican.

* Bush kicked ass among those voters (48%) who had "some college" or "college graduate (no postgrad)," winning the first group by 12 percentage points, and the second by 16 points. That's nearly half the voting pool.

* To be fair, Kerry did win the "postgraduate education" bunch, but they were only 20% of the voting population, and he won them by only 6 percentage points. So, it appears that the Democrats would have you think that 47% of Americans who have made it to the highest echelons of our educational system, still managed to keep from picking up any smarts.
Here's the link to the rest. (NOTE: The original link to Gallup is gone, so I updated it here and in the original post. You might notice that the numbers for the 2000 election were essentially the same as for the 2004 election.)

September 03, 2008

There Are Probably A Few Sarah Palin Bikini Photos Out There Somewhere...

...but this isn't one of them.

The picture, allegedly of Palin in a red, white, and blue bikini, holding a gun has been "making the rounds." In the digital age, people should really know better, but I've already seen a number of posts on various sites describing the photo and then demanding "explain that!"

One word...photoshop.

Right Wing News has the goods on the fake and the original.

It's All In The Numbers

I saw this by Roger Simon over at Politico:
It is not an unfair question. While the standard that the vice presidency is “only a heartbeat away from the presidency” has become a cliché, it is also accurate. Four vice presidents have become president through the natural death of a president, four through assassination and one through resignation. That’s quite a number considering we’ve had only 43 presidents.
I guess it's all in how you frame the issue. I'm already a little sick of the "only a heartbeat away" line, especially when you consider that the other side of the aisle is trying to put someone who is (I think, anyway) just as inexperienced less than a heartbeat away--in the oval office itself.

I'm not sure you can count Ford, who became president after Nixon's resignation. The "heartbeat" issue--at least when I've heard it used--has always been in regards to the possibility of the death of a sitting president (generally a jab at McCain's age). Of the other eight, four have been "promoted" by the natural death of a president:
John Tyler (William Henry Harrison)
Millard Fillmore (Zachary Taylor)
Calvin Coolidge (Warren G. Harding)
Harry Truman (FDR)

And four by "unnatural" deaths:
Andrew Johnson (Abraham Lincoln)
Chester A. Arthur (James Garfield)
Teddy Roosevelt (William McKinley)
Lyndon Johnson (JFK)

You'll notice that only three of those happened in the last hundred years. I'm not sure that's "quite a number." We've had more wars in that time period. People living today may have seen it happen once...maybe twice. (I've never seen it happen--again, I'm not counting Ford.) Even the "natural" deaths are exceptional circumstances. Harrison, serving in his late sixties, died of pneumonia and its complications before medical treatment had advanced enough to even be aware of microorganisms. Taylor also died in his sixties (65) of a mysterious illness. Harding died at 57 from either heart attack or stroke while also apparently suffering from pneumonia as well. And FDR, also in his sixties, suffered from (most likely) Guillain-Barre Syndrome, which can be fatal. I'm not a doctor, so I don't know the likelihood that it may have caused the cerebral hemorrhage he died from. The point being that advances in medicine have extended life expectancy and the effectiveness of the Secret Service has reduced the chances of assassination. Three in the last hundred years isn't that frequent, and with the aforementioned advances, I would argue it's likely to be even less frequent in the future.

Look at it this way--you may be able to name the four presidents who were assassinated. Did you know the VPs who succeeded them? Could you have named the first four, who followed the natural deaths? Do you think most people could? Try this--ask friends and family to name more than four vice presidents from, say, 1850-1950. That's a hundred years. If Simon is right, and the possibility of a vice president taking over the presidency is so common, five shouldn't be a problem, right?