Thursday, February 19, 2004

Not a statistician

Schwarzenegger should really stop running ads during West Wing, he does not come off well. But my favorite political ads this week were an ad against Prop 56 followed, in the same commercial break, by one on the other side beginning with an image of the first ad, then asking who paid for that ad. (I won’t keep you in suspense: the answer is “special interests.”)

The head Australia’s Labor party, Mark Latham, once described the current government, in its support of Bush in Iraq, as a “conga line of arselickers.”

If Bush loses the election (a big if; the election is Kerry’s to lose, I think, but he’s just the man to do it [lose, I mean]), it will have been Howard Dean who loosened the pickle jar. No D was going to win without criticizing Bush, and no D was willing to take the risk. One problem with the D’s the last 4 years has been that they actually believe R policies and even Smirking Chimp Boy are popular, or at least they have acted as if they believed that, until Dean showed the popularity of taking him on.

And the R’s are getting nervous; lying is beginning to make them nervous, and without self-confident lies, they really have nothing to say. Look at this thing with the forecast on jobs. One week they claim in a report to Congress that there will 2.6 million jobs created in 2004. This claim was blithely issued on the false premise that this was still 2003, when they could say anything and it would be swallowed whole. Then suddenly they realized that they’d be in trouble when the jobs proved as much a fiction as Iraqi WMDs. So they ditched it. McClellan wouldn’t admit that the report hadn’t been passed by Bush’s economic advisers, who might fight being falsely blamed in the way that the CIA has, (read another hilarious press-gaggle transcript here.
Scroll down, if necessary, to “Beating Scotty like a rented mule”)
and he sure as hell wouldn’t admit that Bush had anything to do with it. “The president is not a statistician.” Hell, the “president” isn’t a rocket scientist either, and he isn’t the president either. What is he? Rodeo clown, would be my guess.

Looking back at that transcript, and today’s, McClellan keeps talking about “policy.” Bush stands by his policies, discussion should be of policy and not numbers, etc. He actually suggests that focusing on what the policies are supposed to achieve is avoiding the issue (“Some don't want to discuss the policies.”)

Laura Bush says gay marriage is “a very, very shocking issue to some parts of the American people,” but does not say which parts.

The US is releasing some Guantanamo detainees. Coincidentally, the ones it is releasing are plaintiffs whose case about their illegal detention was due to reach the Supreme Court soon. The release of the 2 British plaintiffs (after 772 days), but not the 4 British non-plaintiff detainees, removes the pressure on Blair to declare a position on the case.

I’m told the CBS website headline for that story was “Gitmo Guests Released To Brits.” Guests.

Who says Western-style democracy hasn’t reached Russia? The Guardian: “Vladimir Putin's leading opponent in next month's presidential elections has accused the Kremlin of orchestrating a vicious media onslaught which has compared him to Hitler, made lurid charges about his sex life, and said he is funded by some of the businessmen against whom his campaign is focused.”

A USO performance in Iraq featured cheerleaders and some girl group none of us have ever heard of dressed in burqas, which tore away to reveal skimpier clothing. Oy.

Rebels in northern Haiti have declared independence. The new country is named Artibonite, which sounds like something from the periodic table, an element discovered by a guy named Artie, maybe.

AP: “An Armenian officer attending a Nato peace programme in Budapest was hacked to death yesterday by an Azerbaijani participant with a knife and an axe.”

Reuters: “A German bondage fetishist became so chained up he had to ask the police to free him, the authorities said yesterday. The police called to a house in found a heavily chained man dressed only in black leather and white socks. It was unclear how he became ensnared.” I’m pretty sure black leather and white socks is a fashion no-no.

AP: “An Italian woman, Beretta Molla, who became a symbol for abortion opponents after giving birth despite warnings that continuing her pregnancy put her life at risk, was approved for sainthood by the Pope yesterday. She died in 1962 a few days after giving birth.”

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