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Saturday, January 24, 2004

Another one from Faolin... 

Thanks to chica mia Faolin for this one...Rats take over school.

Rat problems that forced the shutdown of 13 school cafeterias have led officials to order a top-to-bottom cleaning of all 600 Chicago public schools.

Now we know what the Friday lunch, "sloppy Joe's", is really made of.

Of course, there is another perspective on all this...

It was ordered after inspectors found rat and mouse droppings in some school kitchens, classrooms and boiler rooms in recent months and suspended food service at 13 schools.

How different from a Cheny Dick dropping is a rat dropping? Nope, I don't know either...maybe they've targeted the wrong rodent.

On a more serious (sane?) note, reason #3,673 to homeschool.

-Vulf

Reversal of Cause and Effect 

This one pointed out to me by my hero, Faolin...

Apparently all that hair dye leads to cancer...or is it that someone dumb enough to dye their hair for 24 YEARS is roadkill on the evolutionary highway already.

Effect and Cause? Cause and Effect? I can't say. But I also can't say I'm surprised.

-Vulf

They just don't get it... 

Here's the latest on how Bush can save the economy by printing more money (they even show him watching money print with a slobbering look on his face...Aw, how cute).

Now, with an election looming in November, another $50 billion to $60 billion will end up in consumers' hands, creating more manufactured magic. But will the stock market get the same lift from a wave of tax refunds now filling Americans' wallets?

"It will definitely help consumers hold up their end of the economy," said Jay Mueller, economist for Strong Capital Management. "But that doesn't mean we're going to see a repeat of last year in the stock market."


Not unless you want to see a repeat of 2001-2002 when the "vapor" in the stock evaporated off. Printing money to solve a nation's problems leads to inflation...if a private citizen does it, we call it counterfeiting.

Names matter, but let's look past the obvious cheap shots for now (i.e. the "counterfeit election" of 2000, the "counterfeit reformed alcoholic", etc.) and look at this economically.

Right now, the U.S. economy, the world's most robust when Clinton left office, is the most precarious it has been since 1929. Deflation will destroy the economy, because the rampant consumer focus (read the Reuters article above...it is telling how the built-in assumption is that ever-increasing consumer spending is good and needed) has led to an unprecedented amount of home equity borrowing (ratio of home equity loans to the GDP). If house prices drop, bankruptcies will skyrocket.

Inflation will also destroy the economy, because the trade deficit is skyrocketing, and any further loss in U.S. dollar power may actually make the U.S. government default. As in go bankrupt.

Nice job, "W". Get a new economic model. Yours is balanced on a razor's edge. There is no more play in the Fed. We are, however, "Fed" up.

-Vulf

Dean's Late Night Top Ten 

Here Dean's Top Ten list on the "Ways, I, Howard Dean, can turn things around."

10. Switch to decaf.
9.Unveil new slogan, "Vote for Dean and get one dollar off your next purchase at Blimpie."
8. Marry Rachel on the final episode of "Friends."
7. Don't change a thing, it's going great.
6. Show a little more skin.
5. Go on "American Idol" and give them a taste of those pipes.
4. Start working out and speaking with an Austrian accent.
3. I can't give specifics yet, but it involves Ted Danson.
2. Fire the staffer who suggested I do this lousy Top 10 List instead of actually campaigning.
1. Oh, I don't know -- maybe fewer, crazy, red-faced rants.


Okay, which one should he follow? I go for #4!

-Lupus

Thursday, January 22, 2004

A rebel yell that calls to me. 

The political pundits of oPinion have penned the demise of Dean's prospects after Iowa. His rebel yell speech served as an example to them of his unpresidential behavior leading to his loss. I saw the speech and had the same reaction as monad did in his post THAT was "the speech"? huh? .

There were two observations to take away from the speech and the media reaction to it. One was the inevitable media reaction to blow it out of proportion. In the article The Phony Dean 'Meltdown' Russ Baker describes the process of taking a relatively innocuous event and spinning it negative:

As far as I can tell, the worst Howard Dean has done is to try to be himself. (And, when criticized for that, to show some willingness to alter his demeanor.) But neither of those is good enough for a media that smells a good story—allegedly about personality, much more interesting than issues.

We saw and see nearly every news outlet playing the footage of the rally again and again. We see headlines in the less-cautious papers about Dean "imploding," and gleeful spin from Republican strategists that Dean is "finished."

From Slate magazine ("Mean Dean Loses Steam") to The New York Post ("Dean's Ballot-Box Conspiracy Theory"), it's all about painting him as unseemly, unstable and irrationally angry, rather than focusing on his ideas. And yet, carefully scrutinized, virtually everything the man has said accords with the beliefs and understanding of a significant portion of the American populace, and, significantly, of what has been reported in the media.

But once something like this "meltdown" story gets started, the media go into a kind of inexorable black hole, and the pull is so great it becomes hard for thinking journalists and editors to resist. And not just journalists. It takes extraordinary mettle for anyone in the limelight to resist this. Once the howl of the pack gets loud enough, questioning the seriousness of Dean's so-called 'problems' becomes tantamount to downplaying allegations against Michael Jackson.


Personality matters more than substance with the media dictating the need for Democrats to have gravitas, seriousness and demeanor at all times. Which of course leads to Democrats who are dull, out of touch, and wimpy.

Dean's passion at least shows a Democrat who cares enough to show it(I have seen Clark explode out of expected Ken-Barbie doll look of mindlessness to the same effect). His passion rather than alienating me actually made him more appealling. Why? As Paul Vitello put it, There's A Little Bit Of Dean in Me:

Dean has spoken for me. Whether I ever get to vote for him or not, Dean has captured the real frustration in me, and I suspect millions of people, as citizens of a country gone nuts.

I have liked the campaigns of some of the other Democratic candidates. Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich, in particular, spoke well. But Dean is the only one who ever voiced the level of anger and alienation I've felt since the launch of the war in Iraq.

For that, I thank him. He pulled me back from the brink. You can't be truly alienated from the political process if there is someone running for president on your platform of indignation.

In psychobabble-speak, Dean validated my sense of betrayal and, by extension, my sense of patriotism; because when I look in the mirror, I don't just see an angry guy - I see an angry, patriotic American guy.


Dean has his faults, but passion is not one of them. If you need Democratic Ken-Barbie dolls as a model, look no further than the Senate where these types got rolled again on the Spending Bill. This phrase says it all, Congress snuffed out Democratic opposition Thursday. It seems to be a pattern. Sigh!

-Lupus(the sleeper has awaken)

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

The smartest man I know... 

Has got to be Lupus.

The German study is considered to be the first hard evidence supporting the common sense notion that creativity and problem solving appear to be directly linked to adequate sleep, scientists say.

Loopie, I stand in awe. I always thought you were gifted mentally, now I have confirmation of the cause.

Sleep well...for the next 11 hours, I suppose.

This is not JUST a gentle working over of Lupus...

From the perspective of longevity, sleep may turn out to be more important than most people think. There is plenty of compelling evidence supporting the argument that sleep is the most important predictor of how long you live, perhaps more important than whether you smoke, exercise or have high blood pressure or cholesterol levels

Loopie, you'll have a long, healthy, intelligent life, methinks. I guess the human body must be built to last a certain number of waking hours...

-Vulf

The Value of Dean... 

Like him or not, Dean has changed the whole election perspective, and I will let the good doctor say it in his own words here...[my emphasis, his words]. Bottom line, if Dean is not the right man to beat Bush, he sure was a necessary influence on whoever it will turn out to be.

Dear Vulf,

Two years ago, I got into this race to change the Democratic Party, and to change the country.

I drove down Interstate 89 from Vermont to New Hampshire to meet with voters face to face, with a handful of brochures in my pocket and a conviction that our country can do better.

Something had gone wrong in our country, and Democrats were caving in to the President and failing to offer the American people a real choice. We had lost our way as a party.

Someone needed to stand up to President Bush on issues that matter - to stand up against the war, against his reckless tax cuts, and against a culture of catering to special interests at the expense of our environment and our children.

Standing up for what I believe is what I've always done and always will do - even when the polls say it isn't popular. I did it on civil unions in Vermont and in opposing the war in Iraq. And I've done it in this race for President.

Now it's time to talk more about the change that we need in our country, and who's best positioned to make that change happen.

This race is about the future. It's about fulfilling the Promise of America for our families and kids. And it's about which candidate has a proven record of delivering results.

For eleven years, as Governor of Vermont, I balanced budgets; provided health care for nearly every child in our state; expanded prescription coverage for seniors; created 20% more jobs; and raised the minimum wage.

We invested in Vermont's children. We lowered child abuse rates and raised graduation rates. Teen pregnancy went way down; childhood immunization went way up.

We did all this for Vermont's children, and now, by acting together, we can show how to do it for all of America's families and children.

I am a doctor who's delivered health care. And as governor, I delivered results, not just speeches.

Now the other candidates have adopted our message - they have adopted our position on Iraq, our criticism of No Child Left Behind, and our opposition to Bush's tax cuts.

I'm glad they've joined me. It's good for our party and good for our country. Our message has changed the nature of this race, and our campaign has changed American politics. And finally our party - formerly in retreat - is standing up and offering a real alternative to George W. Bush.

But the true test of leadership is having the courage to stand up for what you believe when it counts - even when it's not popular. That's the test by which I've measured my public life. And it's the test by which I will measure my Presidency.

I hope you will stand by me as we enter this critical period in the 2004 campaign.

Governor Howard Dean, M.D.

http://www.deanforamerica.com/revolution


That is a net positive, whoever wins the Dem primary. We will have a choice. Gephardt and Lieberman, the supine duo, are done. Yippee

-Vulf

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

+1 on offshoring of US engineering/science jobs... 

Talk about a mixed message...

The National Science Board and a think tank of tech executives recently warned that the economic vitality of America is threatened by a lack of U.S. graduates in science and engineering. Also, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says demand for science and engineering workers will increase three times faster than all job categories this decade. Eighty-six percent of those jobs - 2.2 million - will be in the computer field.

That's great, point your kid to engineering and science, then, right?

Think again...it continues...

Yet unemployment in engineering occupations rose in the third quarter of 2003, say BLS data. The unemployment rate was 6.7%, up from 6.4% in the second quarter and five times higher than it was in 2000.

So, what do they think is the cause of this? Try these...

For starters, the BLS was wrong the last time it projected job demand for engineers. The BLS updates its job forecast every two years. The last time it made projections, "it was way off," said McClure. "Their crystal ball isn't much better than the rest of ours." To be sure, these are still tough times in tech. Despite the recent increase in U.S. employment overall, the tech industry is still losing jobs - down 3.9% in November.

The article goes on to cite declining interest in math and related "hard" subjects after about fourth grade. So, the US loses its competitive edge and instead of focusing on education here, it ships the jobs overseas.

There's another, more insidious, reason to ask for more children to go into math and science, though, and it relates to the offshoring of the jobs. Only if there is a surfeit of these "nerds" can their salary be kept below those of the know-nothings who get to hire, fire and wire them. Offshoring just happens to be an excellent way of ensuring such a surfeit.

Too bad none of the "know-nothings" can look beyond the next quarterly results. Ship it offshore, it has no obligation to come back. But I guess by definition they don't know that, either.

-Vulf

Seems? I know not Seems 

Avast, Claudius-Lupus. I have not abandoned Dean, merely suggested his temperament is (perhaps rightfully) getting him into trouble. Until he recovers the strength of ideas and purpose he had before he was beaten bloody on a daily basis, he will have no focus. With Gephardt out of the way, this is quite possible, especially if the rest of the pack starts attacking Edwards (here his lack of a track record benefits him, but it also benefits Bush). I want the next leader of the U.S. to have energy--so Edwards and Dean are preferable to Gephardt and Lieberman. With the latter two gone or nearly gone (I certainly hope Lieberman is nearly gone, anyway), the whole field becomes immensely preferable to the Texecutioner.

So, all I was trying to say...Dean, Edwards, Clark, Kerry...I'll take any of them. My wish was to see Gephardt and Lieberman go.

Dean is at a turning point right now. I have assumed all along he would move more central at some point, and he may still do that. If he does not, he is--as the Iowa Caucus pundits speculated--unelectable against Bush. Edwards' self-professed foci--quality health care, better schools, protecting civil liberties, preserving the environment, saving Social Security and Medicare, and reforming the ways campaigns are financed--sounds ALL GOOD to me, but he is still a relative unknown. Now that he's at the front, I hope he shows to be less testy than Dean and Clark have been. You have to be really thick-skinned to put up with the massive volcano of crap that will be slung at you by the deep pockets of the right. A literal merde jokulhlaup, to quote from the French-Icelandics out there.

-Vulf

Round Mound of Rebound for Edwards 

Well the knashing of teeth and tearing of hair has come and not quite gone. My thoughts on the Iowa primary. Not much, except for suprise at Dean's showing and Edwards strength. It seems like Vulf has abondened Dean for Edwards. Voters, like lovers, are a fickle lot or just plain crazy.
The just extended primary will be a plus and negative for the Democrats. On the plus side, it will help to suck out some of the attention from the Bush White house and keep the focus on the Democrats. On the negative side, the Democrat who emerges might be too bloodied to be viable. One thing for certain, the snapshot of today will not be future of tomorrow(I have no idea what that means.)

Here's another interesting supporter of Edwards, Charles Barkley. This should be a surprise. Charles Barkley has been pretty open about his party affliation. He has often discussed running for governor of Alabama on the Republican ticket. But he supports John Edwards. What happened?

"Charles, I thought you were a Republican."

"That was before they started screwing all the poor people!"


Couldn't say it better.
-Lupus

Check your facts... 

This is a great website, pointed out to me by an excellent friend in Canada:

http://www.factcheck.org

Gives a whole new perspective on Gephardt's failure...glad to have him out of the race, as it appears most of his assualts on Dean and others were fabricated at best.

However, Dean's ad hominem attacks have also grown old. As has Clark's imitation of Ross Perot. Methinks Dean will still fare well in NH, but Clark can kiss the race good-bye. Edwards is going to take away his voter base entirely...if you're going to vote for a smart Dem from the south, Edwards is the man. I doubt the two gentlemen from the South will collect 50% of NH when Kerry is riding high and from next door. And Dean, savvy though rancorous, will probably land on his feet for awhile.

Edwards does offer an interesting possibility...a guy with REAL ENERGY in the White House. Sign me up. But these things tend to come full circle, and so it will be no surprise if the early favorite (Kerry) carries through. Four more years of Bush and we're toast. Good to have friends in Canada, just in case.

-Vulf


Monday, January 19, 2004

Let the race begin 

With 77% of the caucus votes in Iowa, Kerry and Edwards are the big winners and Dean may be left in the dust for good.

I've always respected Kerry and really like Edwards message about there being two Americas. It's a perfect message because when he talks about two Americas people think in terms of commonality as opposed to based on race or geographic location. The message brings up the idea of an underclass but without the socialist undertones and when people think about it, most folks are a part of this second America-- the one that is unemployed, struggling to access health care and attending dilapitated schools.

The question now is whether Lieberman and Gen. Clark placed themselves out of the race by skipping the caucus. Do New Hampshire folks care whether or not they skipped Iowa since they were there, kissing babies for the last week?

My political crystal ball predicts the following results in New Hampshire:
1) Gephardt will drop out tomorrow
2) Kerry will finish first with 40%
3) Edwards and Clark will duke it out for second around 25% each
4) Lieberman and Dean will flounder, neither getting no more than 7%

Hockey codes of conduct for fighting? 

Fighting in hockey always mystified me. As an outsider to the game, I could never get a handle on fighting in hockey like I could with boxing. For me it was the abused adage, "I went to a boxing match and a hockey game broke out." Imagine to my surprise to discover a code a conduct governing fighting in hockey:

Do ... Respect your opponent
Do ... Pick your spots
Do ... The right thing for the team

Don't ... Pick on a smaller guy
Don't ... Keep at it if your opponent's hurt
Don't ... Fight a guy who is clearly at a disadvantage
Don't ... Just talk
Don't ... Worry about being afraid
Don't ... Bite or eye-gouge


It almosts seems chivalric. Contrast this to Bush's policies in general and guess which one wins for being the most civilized.

-Lupus

P.S. Wilk, Vulf or Lobo one of you should post on how Bush is like professional wrestling. All of you have a way more satiric tone than I do.


White Whale harpooned again... 

I never thought of Cheny Dick, the white whale, as being a comedian, but perhaps I'd better re-think this opinion.

Amongst the more rib-splitting one-liners he delivered at his "rare" interview:

He's not worried about his image as the secretive sculptor of Bush policies as he takes a more public role in the campaign. "What's wrong with my image?" he asked with a laugh.

Nothing, if you don't mind looking like the Emperor in the Return of the Jedi

And another:

Cheney said he's effective working behind the scenes and doesn't believe voters will choose the next president based on running mates. "Am I the evil genius in the corner that nobody ever sees come out of his hole?" he said. "It's a nice way to operate, actually."

Nice try, Dick. Just because you're trying to associate the obvious and banal fact that you're evil with the unlikely possibility that you're a genius doesn't mean we'll swallow that hook. Evil, yes, but real genius doesn't self-proclaim. Try evil and powerful.

And, finally:

He believes Democratic presidential candidates are "having trouble" finding ways to attack Bush. "They started out with an effort to try to use the economy against us. The economy's looking pretty good," he said. Progress in Iraq, particularly the capture of Saddam Hussein (news - web sites), has "to some extent taken the wind out of their sails."

Maybe the Dems are focused on each other right now. We "left-leaning" Independents can find plenty to attack Shrub on. The economy is not looking good. It's had a coat of fresh paint sprayed over it by tax cuts that have led to epic debts, near-bankruptcy in most states, and hell to pay in the next year or two, recovery or no. Nice erosion of the Middle Class, too. How is the "war" in Iraq being funded? With the extra $87 Billion on top of nearly that associated with the "major action" that took 1/4 of the lives lost so far, it amounts to more than $5000 for every Iraqi citizen. Nice job.

And we all know how safe it is in Iraq with Saddam captured. Apparently, the White Whale isn't talking to any of the soldiers in Iraq. Not his job, I guess.

-Vulf

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Like I said... 

Continuing to do so...
Just imagine how unsafe it'd be if they hadn't captured Saddam.

-Vulf

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