Friday, September 7, 2007

B.F. (Before Fred)

I didn't watch the Republican “debates” the other night, I admit it. I just can't see spending my time listening to this lineup of creepy old white men. All they seem to spout is self-righteous pablum about what America should be doing — while standing before us as the marriage-challenged (divorced), (divorced), (divorced), dysfunctional parent, law-breaking, animal abusing, lying liars that they are.

Sorry, is that too harsh? Remember, this is without Newt Gingrich in the race!

Instead, I suggest that you join me in visiting after any of these debates, Republican or Democratic. They have a team of researchers checking on the many fantastical claims these candidates make. And boy do they make some claims!

  • Rudy Giuliani said 2,000 illegal immigrants was the most the federal government deported from New York City during any of his years as mayor. That doesn't square with Department of Homeland Security figures. Giuliani also took a little too much credit for a drop in New York's welfare rolls.

  • Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas tried to link gay marriage with an increase in children being born out of wedlock. His statistic, however, doesn't do that.
Check out the rest of the debate facts here.

Feeling a little sceptical about the upcoming Iraq Report? You're not alone

According to a new poll by Rasmussen Reports,
... just 39% believe the report will honestly and accurately reflect the General’s true assessment of the situation in Iraq. Thirty-five percent (35%) say it will not while 26% are not sure.

In other words, that more than have of us (65%) either don't believe it will be accurate or are doubtful.

When Condi Can't Play Golf, Do the Terrorists Win?

From Princess Sparkle Pony:

This is an outrage! Who knew that in Australia, as in Iraq, Bush 'n' Condi must be kept safe within a tight perimeter of barbed wire, lethal PR flaks, and symmetrical-placed Humvees. It's basically a fun-kill zone, and that includes golf!

But what I really love is what the article doesn't quite get to: the situation presents us with a fantastic conundrum: the golf-thwarting security measures are in place because George and Condi are there, and that means that Condi can only play golf in Australia if Condi isn't there! It's a paradox! Yay!

Tee hee. Read the rest here.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Statistics 101: It all depends on the numbers you choose

From today's Washington Post comes the news that the US military's questionable claim about a decrease in sectarian violence is due mainly to the fact that those doing the counting have a specific way of categorizing deaths:

Intelligence analysts computing aggregate levels of violence against civilians for the NIE puzzled over how the military designated attacks as combat, sectarian or criminal, according to one senior intelligence official in Washington. “If a bullet went through the back of the head, it's sectarian,” the official said. “If it went through the front, it's criminal.”

Yeah. That sounds scientific. Read more here.

Michael Vick: We Ain't Buyin' It

Here I am, getting ready to draft my fantasy football players, and one of the most talented QBs in the league is going down in flames as a heartless, dishonest thug. analyzed 300 Americans' reactions to Michael Vick's public apology, and Mike, we ain't buyin' it.

With a major hat tip to Shakespeare's Sister: had 300 Americans watch Michael Vick's apology and rate his sincerity as they watched. Make sure you watch the whole thing, because the best bit is at the very end.

Pooky's Book Club recommendation (look out Oprah!)

This morning on The Writer's Almanac, I heard that today is the birthday of Robert Pirsig, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

That really took me back, as the book was published in 1974, and I believe when I read it, I was a senior in high school in 1978. If you haven't read this book, you must do so now. It is a classic odyssey narrative, the story of a motorcycle trip Pirsig took across country with his 12-year old son. Yet interspersed in the account are Pirsig's incredibly insightful thoughts. To quote
The 1974 book describes a journey across the United States, punctuated by numerous philosophical discussions (many of them on epistemology and the philosophy of science) which the author refers to as chautauquas.

I am so glad I was reminded of this wonderful book. I bet I still have my beat-up high school paperback copy somewhere ....

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

I Heart This Puppy!

I know, it's almost too cute. But says its true, and what a nice way to end a Wednesday ....

Md. Gov. O'Malley Supports Living Wage for Workers

From the Baltimore Sun: Stadium cleanup workers postpone hunger strike

Preaching the importance of respect, dignity and justice for low-wage workers at a Labor Day prayer service and rally, the men and women who clean Camden Yards called off a planned hunger strike today to give the Maryland Stadium Authority a few more days to sign a binding “living wage” agreement that the workers have demanded.

Organizers with the United Workers Association, a human rights group founded by homeless day laborers in Baltimore, said they were encouraged by public remarks Friday from Gov. Martin O'Malley and Frederick W. Puddester, chairman of the stadium authority.

Both expressed support for a living wage for the part-time workers who clean the state-owned Orioles and Ravens stadiums on game days.

Read more here.

Coffee with that extra “kick”

I sure am glad I don't go to Fourbucks Starbucks anymore. They've just announced plans to start using coffee grown in China.

Yes, a vente soy latte — with extra lead, please!

Wednesday Poetry Break: Langston Hughes

A reminder to all of the presidential candidates: I, too, am America.

I, Too

I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”

They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed —
I, too, am America.

— Langston Hughes

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Think the surge is working? Ask the 1,773 Iraqi civilians killed in August

While the Bush Administration paints a rosy picture in Iraq, civillians continue to die at an increasing rate. In August alone, 1,773 Iraqi civilians were killed. According to the LA Times, the July civillian death toll was 1,753, and in June it was 1,227.

Yet in his remarks to the troops, Bush said, “The surge of operations that began in June is improving security throughout Iraq. The military successes are paving the way for the political reconciliation and economic progress the Iraqis need to transform their country.”

The military succeeds, and while more civillians die. This is progress?

Dr. Ferragamo: Hey girl! It's better to look good, than to be right

BagNewsNotes has an interesting analysis of The New York Times piece on Condoleezza Rice. Turns out the Dr. doesn't like to “self-reflect.” Huh. Who knew?

My favorite quote from the NYT article:

In fact, her friends say that she rarely questions whether she is right or wrong, instead choosing to believe in a particular truth with absolute certainty until she doesn’t believe it anymore, at which point she moves on.
How nice that she can just “move on.” I'm sure everyone affected by her disastrous foreign policy appreciates and understands that.

Exactly who did Bush meet with in Iraq?

As you have no doubt heard by now, President Bush made a scret trip to Iraq over the Labor Day weekend. The question is, who did he meet with in Anbar Province? To quote AmericaBlog:
“Wait. Is George Bush in Anbar meeting with the very militia groups who were killing U.S. soldiers just months ago?”
Read more here.