Friday, August 13, 2004

Rising stars 

In June I congratulated friend Brian Welsh when he became manager for Ginny Schrader's campaign (PA-8). It's been an exciting couple of months since, with the incumbent dropping out, and then Brian having to mollify Democratic Party leaders who were tempted to insert their own nominee into the race and/or co-opt Ginny's operation (using party funds as leverage). However, Brian hurdled those potential obstacles, and then today he tipped off MyDD about another Louisiana addition to the Schrader campaign:

Brian Smoot, Rodney Alexander's former chief of staff, will join Schrader's campaign after they finalize the details on Sunday. Just in case you hadn't heard, Smoot resigned along with the rest of Alexander's staff, when Alexander switched parties last week.

Running a campaign is a frantic, exhilirating, and brutal experience-- like being in a pressure-cooker on a rollercoaster. The two Brians, like all top campaign ops, will be working nearly 24/7 until election day. I think it will pay off, and they'll taste a sweet, well-earned victory in November.
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W shoulda been a Framer 

A while back, Kevin Drum noted Bush's support for-- at least-- five amendments to the constitution: flag burning, victim's rights, abortion, balanced budget (ha!), and Gay marriage. Now that he's "interested" in replacing the income tax with a national sales tax of 30% or so, that will require ANOTHER amendment to repeal the 16th.

As Drum said, "He really seems to think the constitution is just a rough draft, doesn't he?"

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Thursday, August 12, 2004

Need a 6- letter word for F**k? 

Michael, in top metaphorm today, patiently explains to the 2nd Lady that a word can have various meanings. For example, her last name.

Update: Also, Damfacrats reviews Dick's sensitivities.
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Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Sportsmanship died today. Or, maybe yesterday, I cannot be sure. 

Albert Camus once remarked that his "only lessons in ethics" occurred on the soccer field. Perhaps he embraced absurdism after playing against a rake like this one.

There is only one serious political question: should one vote, or should one carry rocks up a hill forever?

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I detest what you do behind closed doors 

... and I think about it a lot.

Ian gets it right.
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In 1996 I witnessed Michael Johnson's record breaking sprint in the 200 meter finals-- one of the greatest sports performances ever. After he finished, he took a victory lap as EMF's "Unbelievable" rocked the house (at the time the song seemed appropriate in a way I'd never later understand). But I had to leave the stadium after that event, really quite overcome by what I saw. Without exaggeration, on that night Johnson expanded the concept of "human being". My guess is that his record will stand for decades.

See it here, and realize that Fredericks-- who ran a distant second--- would have won the gold in any other Olympics.

Hopefully our athletes will perform brilliantly and honorably in Athens, regaining some of the worldwide admiration that's been lost in recent years.
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When Comedy writes itself 

From US News & World Report:

The team looking for a Texas site to put President Bush's library and museum seem to have trimmed the list to Dallas and Waco. Insiders say Dallas gets top billing because first lady Laura Bush went to the city's Southern Methodist University, but others like Waco because it's close to Bush's Crawford ranch.
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Choices Made 

Sixty New Orleans schools have been classified as "failing," and now must allow pupils the right to transfer to a better performing school. (Officials had actually expected a worse report, and were somewhat encouraged.) I've yet to hear a compelling argument for how school choice could work in New Orleans, given current conditions. Since we do technically have it, I've been interested to find out if it was anything more than a government sponsored lottery. Turns out, no; that's exactly what it is:

Although more than 35,000 New Orleans public school students were eligible for transfers, only about 1,000 requested a switch. Limited space meant just 400 of those students were transferred.

Ah. So 35,000 students are grossly underserved, and of the few who request a switch (where?) even fewer are able to do so. At most, school choice in New Orleans assists 1% of those who need help. Listen New Orleanians, we are all in this together. If we don't unify towards solutions for the common good, we'll keep paying the price for willfully neglecting the infinite potential of this city's youth.

Now Superintendant Amato has to clean up a $20+ million school system software mess, which seems to have worked only for those eager to defraud kids:

In an interview after the meeting, Amato said the district has a plan to address its financial problems but acknowledged that the plan has to be somewhat malleable to deal with unforeseen financial pitfalls....

The School Board bought the Oracle system in 1999, in part over fears of the Y2K computer glitch. Almost immediately, the system's payroll office began fouling up paychecks. On one memorable payroll, all the teachers at one school received checks for 2 cents, which they then had enlarged to make signs for a protest at a School Board meeting.

Then this absurdity:
The Oracle software itself has never been the problem, Amato and others repeatedly have said. The failure is that of the district, which has employed an expensive but unsuccessful mixture of staff hires, consultant contracts and training regimens in trying to adapt the system's Byzantine financial practices to the software.

Thanks a sh-tload for that clarification, guys! I had assumed Oracle's Silicon Valley design team was the source of incompetence, not our ultra-capable New Orleans bureaucrats.
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Tuesday, August 10, 2004

What is Noble? 

Both the Nazarene and the anti-Nazarene provide more instruction on nobility than one could possibly capture in a lifetime. However, I also relish this tale from the animal kingdom:

On a late October day on the Canadian tundra next to a gray, cold but unfrozen Hudson Bay near tiny Churchill, Manitoba, it looked like a beautiful young Husky named Hudson was about to become one dead dog. The black, gray and white male belonged to hunter/trapper Brian Ladoon's 40 dog pack. Hudson was comfortably lounging on a fresh bed of snow, tethered on a long chain.

Suddenly, out of the nearly featureless, white horizon, there appeared a twelve hundred pound wild male polar bear. A very hungry polar bear. Biologists had been tracking and recording the movements of this and other bears in the area with video and still cameras. They had observed that this particular bear and his companions had not eaten for nearly four months (not unusual) because ice had not yet formed on the bay, preventing it from being able to hunt its favorite prey seals. Under such circumstances polar bears have been known to make do with a sled dog snack.

The biologists were stunned when Hudson and the polar bear did not fight a deadly battle. As the bear moved toward him, Hudson, who obviously had never been warned about hungry polar bears, didn't try to flee, bare his teeth, or howl in terror. Instead, Hudson wagged his tail, grinned a doggy grin, and crouched in a bow to the bear, signaling an invitation to play. To the amazement of the biologists, examination of the encounter photographs showed that the bear approached Hudson also signaling his intention to play with a characteristic loose walk, playfully inviting gestures and facial expressions.

Within seconds, the enormous bear and North America's luckiest dog were wrestling and cavorting in the snow in front of the cameras of the amazed scientists. At one point, the bear wrapped himself like a white wool comforter around the Husky in an embrace. They played until the polar bear collapsed in pleasurable exhaustion, at which point Hudson came over and gave him a friendly pat with his paw, just to make sure his new playmate was okay. The polar bear returned several times to play with Hudson over the next few weeks, until the ice formed on the bay and he was able to hunt a hearty seal meal.

The link concludes with a cute note of how ribald humor saved the day for Bonzo and Gorby at Reykjavik.
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"Patrick Fitzgerald appears to be a heat seeking missile pointed directly at Scooter Libby."
Posted by Hello

Billmon's predictions have been so ahead of the curve recently, I see no reason to get off his bandwagon now. Remember, trend is your friend.
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Monday, August 09, 2004

The power of Beignets  

Here's an NPR audio report by Timshel-approved columnist Chris Rose on how Cafe du Monde beat back a home turf challenge by Krispy Kreme. Another fact to be proud about: the French Quarter has successfully inoculated itself from the Starbucks virus.

(Thanks to Suddenly Routine.)
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Does this state love food, or what? 

At a restaurant the other day, a family was eating lunch and the daughter didn't like her appetizer. When the server came to pick up the plates he asked if she was finished with her hardly-eaten dish. The mother answered, "Yes, you can take it-- she's finished."

Now, several tables away, there was a group of burly guys who had yet to get their food. One of them (no doubt ravenously hungry) had been keeping track of these developments across the dining room. As the server was passing by with the plates, he called: "Hey, don't let that go to waste. Bring it over here." And after only a moment's hesitation, the server complied!

This episode probably violated numerous food service codes, but it charmed me to no end.

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Sunday, August 08, 2004

Drink your whiskey, drink your grain 

A group calling itself Not So Swift Drunks for Truth has courageously brought this fine moment in presidential (pre)history to my attention:

In earlier years, when he was drinking heavily, [George W.] Bush's public behavior could turn downright nasty. In early April 1986, for instance, Bush was angry about a prediction from Wall Street Journal columnist Al Hunt that Bush's father would lose the Republican nomination.

Bush spotted Hunt having dinner at a Dallas restaurant with his wife, Judy Woodruff, and their four-year-old son. Bush stormed up to the table and started cursing out Hunt. "You f**king son of a bitch," Bush yelled. "I saw what you wrote. We're not going to forget this." [Washington Post, July 25, 1999] (my emph)

No retractions yet, but the night is still young. Now go out and fight, fight...
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