Archive for August, 2008|Monthly archive page

PUMAs wooed by McCain

The last place Kathy Archuleta could have ever imagined she’d spend the first night of the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado, was at a happy hour sponsored by the Republican Party.

But the 54-year-old Democrat joined several other Hillary Clinton supporters, along with volunteers and officials from John McCain’s campaign, at a Happy Hour for Hillary.

And just as the Democrats’ convention was getting started in Denver, both the McCain campaign and the Republican National Committee unveiled four TV ads geared toward Clinton supporters.

The most recent McCain ad involves the famous Hillary Clinton “3 a.m.” spot and will be aired during the convention. The 30-second spot uses footage from Clinton’s original ad and declares, “Hillary’s right.”

That’s funny.  McCain’s people holding a pro-Hillary happy hour just a bit away from the DNC, and getting Democrats to come in.  McCain has audacity.  Who Dares Wins, it’s not just a pretty slogan.

There’s no doubt McCain will be courting PUMAs.  “Divide and conquer” is a tactic almost as old as war and politics.

h/t A Chequer-Board of Nights and Days, which is having a field day with the election recently.

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PUMA reaction to Palin pick

Riverdaughter at The Confluence opens the show with a take-down of Rebecca Traister’s article at Salon.com:

Post- electable Obama lovers, welcome to the General Election! Like it so far? Awwww…I know, I know. Grown-ups can be soooo unfair!

Because we believe that one person equals one vote, like, you know that thingy called “Democracy,” and not the “post-rational” thought of stealing votes to favor one candidates over another. By doing that, and we saw it live on national TV, the DNC coddling & vote stealing not one, but TWO DNC events makes Obama beyond “post-electable”

Well in reality, Hillary as VP wouldn’t have sat well with me at all, but to your non-news junkie, the “Hillary as VP” buzz inspired many Democrats to sigh relief if Obama were the nominee, given Hillary won 18 million votes and has 35 years of experience and will be right there holding Obama’s hand, babysitting his post-electability and cleaning up mess after mess.

There’s more, and it’s a pretty interesting read. I was unaware of the charge of vote-stealing, and I wonder what the story is on that. She has 176 comments on her post as I’m writing this, and they’re fun in their own right.

Next up, campskunk at Alegre’s Corner opens up the comments after the Palin decision and the comments are pretty straightforward.

Commenter Cal writes:

“… No, John McCain doesn’t get my vote, and neither does the coronated one. But I’d be fibbing if I didn’t admit I giggled right out loud today at McCain’s “audacity.”

Team McCain – 1
Team Obot – 0″

Commenter bmc writes:

“… I don’t give a damn about the Democratic Party anymore. I’ve been looking for a reason to vote for John McCain, and he gave me one this morning. It’s not just because she’s a woman; it’s because her personal story is compelling, and she’s the sort of woman who doesn’t just talk the talk; she walks the walk. She gave a brilliant speech, and she’s a reformer, with an 80% approval rating among the nation’s governors and her state. She’s able to work across the aisle, as McCain is, and her personal story is right out of Norman Rockwell. One son going to Iraq; her baby has downs syndrome. And, she’s very likeable. John McCain asked for my vote today. As it stands right now, he’s going to get it. I like Sarah Palin and I think this is an INSPIRED move by McCain. A stunning, stunning act of political brilliance.”

And it goes on from there, with attacks on McCain and Palin, praise for them, etc. Tons of interesting stuff.

For our third PUMA reaction, we turn to the PUMA PAC:

The Puma Movement is NOT in disarray. We are united in our goals:

1. No Obama for President
2. No more Howard or the other Architects of this FIASCO at the DNC
3. Support Good Guy Dems

Today is a tumultuous day. Don’t be afraid of a little disorder. It is inevitable — the McCain Camp just pulled a brilliant tactical move and we need to regroup. But as we do so, we must remain united.

Again, the comments are great. I don’t mean that facetiously. I really enjoy them, and I kinda sympathize with them. I have felt what they are feeling. I just felt it a decade or so ago.

There are also some new PUMA sites out there:

No We Won’t: PUMA Radio

No We Won’t

POC PUMA (People of Color PUMA)

Democrat in Exile (blogger)

PUMA Party (for all your ‘Democrats for McCain’ bumperstickers)

NObama Network (which seems to be a collection of links to PUMA groups)

welcome aboard, Sarah Palin!

best choice? I don’t know, but let’s add it up:

identity politics: female, young — if we look to Obama for youth, that gives Mrs. Palin a plus-plus; maybe pulls in some PUMAs

executive experience: of the four candidates (P & VP), she is the only one with executive experience as an elected official

(side-note, the Obama campaign’s reaction is a joke:

“Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency,” said spokesman Bill Burton.

we can play that card back to ‘Today, the Democratic Party put the former editor of the Harvard Law Review …’ or, even better, ‘Today, the Democratic Party put a man with zero executive experience …’ contrast it with McCain’s congratulatory message to Obama on his winning the nomination)

(which really, now that I think about it, this was an excellent opportunity for Obama to say something nice about a woman, cuz he kinda needs to, imho)

contrast: Obama picks an old white guy, a Washington insider prone to racist gaffes, as his vp; McCain chooses a young white woman and Washington outsider — who’s the candidate of change?

p.s. i guess there goes my dream of a Condi Rice vp slot …

p.p.s. also, no Mad Minerva vp slot, another shame, but I sense she’s young and may be better suited for the 2016 elections, when we’ll have to replace McCain-Palin, by which time I also suspect she’ll be half cyborg and therefore able to represent both New Overlord demographics

instapundit roundup of reactions (to the Palin pick, not to MM’s non-pick)

(and not to the non-pick of Rice, either, of course)

(care for some tea?)

things to do during the dnc

  1. blog about Wright, Rezko, and Ayers
  2. go eat burritos with your buds from former soviet states (we’ll get there one day, they assure me)
  3. wait around for the reviews to hit the blogs before deciding whether or not to watch it on YouTube
  4. wear a clown nose in sympathy with the protesters
  5. walk around campus muttering PUMA slogans at passersby
  6. gather hope & change from the burrito (here’s your change; hope you like it)
  7. design an armored suit capable of flying to Denver to take on the bald capitalist white guy — no wait –
  8. write a review of Obama’s outfit
  9. cartoon it all — try to get everything in four panels
  10. kung fu something (in a desperate attempt to distract yourself from the idea that Obama’s suit may indeed be president in five months)

Update: If you can’t stand to watch it yourself, Steven Green is drunkblogging it.  On #10, I should have quoted him:

9:00PM “President Obama and the Democrats.” I have… I need… I… Hold me, I’m scared.

lumpenscholar trapped in the tubular cinema

recently had the opportunity to see a number of movies on video, and since that lovely lass Mad Minerva has been my cinema guide all summer, thought i would post responses to her reviews and some assorted (or sordid) comments — after all, two of my movie selections were all her fault

haven’t seen these movies? then if you’re lucky, there aren’t any spoilers ahead. me, I’ve lost track. maybe there are, maybe there aren’t. so, what you gotta ask yourself, cinemaphile, is do I feel lucky? well, do ya, cinemaphile?

where to start?

IRON MAN! great movie. i heartily concur with much of MM’s reviews (and her sibling’s): great geeky fun and just plain funny, great special effects, feminine females, masculine males, AND intelligence, courage, and wit from all genders and sides; even the bad guys aren’t stupid or cowardly, which is nice

as she mentions, this movie could easily be taken as a criticism of the military-industrial bugaboo we’ve grown so tired of seeing slammed into the soil cinematically. Stark’s redemption is turning against the military industrial complex, and the ultimate bad guy Iron Man faces off against is a greedy capitalist white male eager to sell weapons to the enemy if it turns a profit. also, it seems our GCWM set up the ambush, so it wasn’t the insurgents’ fault, per se; capitalism did it. on the other hand, Stark’s decision to take the fight personally, to armor up, defend our own, and kill the enemy himself, was as good an endorsement of going out and enlisting to fight the terrorists as I’ve seen on celluloid, outside of actual recruiting video, and the insurgents are nasty and we’re glad to see them killed and the Afghan civilians saved.

i wasn’t as critical of the military aspects as MM’s friend: airmen do go out with the army on the ground as forward observers (someone has to talk to the fighter jocks giving close air support) and commo types, but not generally as drivers I think; one criticism in the ambush scene, why stop when the lead humvee is blown up? last I heard, humvee’s were ATVs, right? but this is all lead in. the thing I was most disappointed in on the military side was the failure of Lt. Col. Rhodes to clearly articulate why developing better weapons for the US military is a good thing

check out the fan art — cool stuff there, though sadly none seem to feature ms. potts in her silly footwear, a great loss for all the male fans. one laugh-out-loud line MM didn’t quote: “Sometimes I even take out the trash.” politics aside, i’ve got to see this again, preferably on the big screen this time — is it still playing? it’s just a lot of fun, and that’s what hollywood should deliver first and foremost, imho.

next up? Kung Fu Panda! yeah, you’ve seen the plot a million times. but that’s not the point in this kind of movie; it’s how you get from A to dragon warrior that counts, and this movie had me laughing out loud and cheering for a fat panda — and even tho’ i kno’ MM will never ever visit my site again for saying this, i am not a big panda fan, so that’s a good endorsement, i think; i’m not just cheering cuz of the cute hero.  it also had one of the best takes on hero enlightenment i’ve seen, i think. loved it; want to see it again.

bit of a side note, i’m getting tired of plot twists. it’s SO friggin’ predictable that there’ll be a plot twist that i don’t even notice it anymore. like Stane being the bad guy in Iron Man. bald, smooth-talking white capitalist, close friend of the hero — gotta be the evil mastermind behind it all, no other choice, unless you want to be called boring and predictable like Kung Fu Panda, right?

anyway, for real reviews, read MM.

on to non-MM-reviewed flicks. not that these will be reviews, either. but thought I should mention them.

The Visitor. basically, lonely widower meets a wonderful couple who just happen to be illegal aliens. they show him a new world and show him a way to recover from his grief, but the husband is caught and sent to detention for deportation. fine and good; i wish there had been two stories. this one, and another where an illegal immigrant murders an american couple for their car. that said, i liked it. richard jenkins does a great job playing prof. walter vale; i am right there with him on the drums. the rest of the cast was good, the plot believable, though I have to admit, for various reasons, I did not get to watch the last 15 minutes or so, so there may be a bizarre plot twist where we find out the bald white capitalist set it all up. i would watch it again to see that last 15 minutes, but would probably pass on a third sitting

Smart People. hate to say it. another way-left movie that i actually liked. basically, another widower / college prof movie. he has to deal with his teenage daughter (who’s rebelling by being in the young republicans, which gets treated as seriously as any teenage rebellion — she’ll grow out of it, we assume), a stoner brother (who won’t grow out of it, but that’s okay, we assume), a flagging academic career, and (simultaneously) a new love interest and his grief for his deceased wife. strangely, even though i’m not in any of those situations, i felt a lot of sympathy for chuck wetherhold, our erstwhile hero, and thomas haden church did a good job playing him. wouldn’t see it again unless a friend really wanted to see it and i had to get away from the books for a couple of hours. or there was free food and drinks.

luckily for my readers, that’s all the movies i’ve seen over the summer.

legalization will do what?

Fester over at Newshoggers proposes that we legalize all drugs and put high taxes on them in order to drive drug lords out of business. He makes an excellent point that drug lords are only becoming more and more powerful, and that Mexico is becoming destabilized, possibly to the point of becoming a criminal-controlled state, which would be a disaster for the US. This argument is good in theory, i.e., US pharmaceutical companies could make heroin and cocaine, etc., much more cheaply than the drug lords and could then drive them out of business.

What it fails to recognize is that drug lords don’t compete along capitalist lines, they compete along lines of both market and projection of violence. If big US pharmaceutical companies become competitors, then drug lords will have the executives executed, chemists murdered or kidnapped, and normal employees bullied and harassed. There will be no way the companies can provide sufficient security; they would have to secure every employee’s home. Also, if the companies have to greatly increase security, then that greatly increases their costs, meaning the drugs they produce won’t necessarily be that competitive against drug lords with established markets.

As a side note, high taxes will be counter-productive, decreasing the competitiveness of legally-manufactured drugs, as I noted earlier.

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h/t Instapundit, who seems to like the idea.

the beginnings of solutions to America’s injustice problem

It’s easier to point out the problems than to find solutions.  In the American injustice system, I pointed out the problems, and I have documented them in Law: See Also, a collection of links to articles on injustices, usually systemic in nature, perpetrated by our justice system.  In this post, I begin collecting and discussing possible solutions to what I consider America’s biggest domestic problem.

The Innocence Project (from their own statement)

The Innocence Project’s groundbreaking use of DNA technology to free innocent people has provided irrefutable proof that wrongful convictions are not isolated or rare events but instead arise from systemic defects. Now an independent nonprofit organization closely affiliated with Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, the Innocence Project’s mission is nothing less than to free the staggering numbers of innocent people who remain incarcerated and to bring substantive reform to the system responsible for their unjust imprisonment

Radley Balko and Roger Koppl make five suggestions for reform:

Forensic counsel for the indigent. In many jurisdictions, indigent defendants aren’t given access to their own forensic experts. As a result, the only expert witnesses are often testifying for the prosecution …

Expert independence. Crime labs, DNA labs, and medical examiners shouldn’t serve under the same bureaucracy as district attorneys and police agencies. If these experts must work for the government, they should report to an independent state agency, if not the courts themselves. There should be a wall of separation between analysis and interpretation. Thus, an independent medical examiner would, for instance, perform and videotape the actual procedure in an autopsy. The prosecution and defense would then each bring in their own experts to interpret the results in court. When the same expert performs both the analysis and interpretation, defense experts are often at a disadvantage, having to rely on the notes and photos of the same expert whose testimony they’re disputing.

Rivalrous redudancy. Whether the state uses its own labs or contracts out to private labs, evidence should periodically and systematically be sent out to yet another competing lab for verification. The state’s labs should be made aware that their work will occasionally be checked but not told when. …

Statistical analysis. The results from forensic labs should be regularly analyzed for statistical anomalies. Labs producing unusually high match rates should throw up red flags for further examination. For example, in 2004 Houston medical examiner Patricia Moore was found to have diagnosed shaken-baby syndrome in infant autopsies at a rate several times higher than the national average. This led to an investigation—and the reopening of several convictions that had relied on Moore’s testimony.

Mask the evidence. A 2006 U.K. study by researchers at the University of Southampton found that the error rate of fingerprint analysts doubled when they were first told the circumstances of the case they were working on. Crime lab technicians and medical examiners should never be permitted to consult with police or prosecutors before performing their analysis. …

This is just the beginning of this discussion.

more examples of the American injustice system

Radley Balko and Roger Kopple have an excellent article on the use of science in the courtroom, and how the current system biases supposedly scientific results toward conviction.  They make five suggestions for correcting the situation.

In 2007, Balko published an article about expert testimony gone very wrong:

During the last two decades, there have been more than a dozen high-profile cases in which dubious forensic witnesses conned state and federal courts, sometimes for many years and in hundreds of cases. The most famous example is probably the West Virginia crime lab worker Fred Zain, who from 1979 to 1989 tainted so many trials with false testimony about blood, semen, and hair evidence that the state’s Supreme Court ordered a review of every case in which he’d ever testified. It turned out he had introduced deliberately falsified evidence in at least 134 cases.

However, he really profiles one Steven Hayne, who from this article seems utterly unqualified to do forensic medicine and yet has provided expert testimony that has sent many to prison and possibly some to death row.

According to NAME [National Association of Medical Examiners], a single medical examiner should perform no more than 250 autopsies per year. At 325, the group considers a doctor to have a “Phase II deficiency”; at that point, it will not accredit a practice, regardless of any other criteria.

Hayne has repeatedly testified under oath that he performs more than 1,500 autopsies per year—a staggering number that dwarfs even the output of the prolific Dr. Erdmann. That’s more than four per day, every day of the year, for the 20 years Hayne’s been in Mississippi. In a 2002 deposition, Hayne put the estimate at 1,800.

The article doesn’t get any better from there.

Here’s an Orange County travesty:

Veteran forensic specialist Danielle G. Wieland made the charge last month during a civil deposition related to the December 2005 wrongful conviction and imprisonment of James Ochoa, according to documents obtained by the Weekly.

The allegation is just the latest in a series of sensationally callous screw-ups by law enforcement—police, prosecutors and judges—that aligned to raid Ochoa’s house, arrest him and steal his freedom. He spent 16 months in the Orange County Jail and a California prison. Later, DNA evidence fingered the real bandit, a career criminal in Los Angeles.

The Ochoa travesty didn’t happen merely because the Orange County district attorney’s office repeatedly ignored exculpatory facts. According to Wieland’s testimony, they actively sought to convict Ochoa as mounting evidence pointed to his innocence.

More from Orange County on fake evidence presented by prosecutors.

This is just a few minutes searching.  It’s not getting better.

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Cf. American Injustice System, Collection of related links

faking it — China’s opening ceremony

First was the report that TV viewers were shown CGI fireworks.

Now we have a report that nine-year-old Lin Miaoke, who sang Ode to the Motherland at the Olympic opening ceremony, actually didn’t sing it:

The recording to which Lin mouthed along on Friday was by the even younger Yang Peiyi. It seems that Yang’s uneven teeth, while unremarkable in a seven-year-old, were considered potentially damaging to China’s international image.

my life has been wasted

When Tallan “T-Man” Latz was 5, he saw Joe Satriani playing guitar on TV. “I turned around to my dad and said, ‘That’s exactly what I want to do.'”

Three years and countless hours of practicing later, 8-year-old Tallan is a blues guitar prodigy. He’s played in bars and clubs, including the House of Blues in Chicago, and even jammed with Les Paul and Jackson Browne. He has a summer of festivals scheduled and has drawn interest from venues worldwide.

From AP. *sob*

He’s living my life!!! And I’m stuck here reading my eyeballs out trying to get some piece of paper. Gah.

Hey, too bad about the bars, but, you’re eight, dude. You’ve probably got some time left to work that in, eh?