Thursday, September 30, 2004
* Debate

OK, there are a billion words about the debate on the Net today, and I'm sure it's the same way on TV. Nobody gives a shit about my two cents, but I will put down my prediction for posterity:

I don't agree with the conventional wisdom that Kerry needs to win the debate to win. I say that Kerry gets the poll bounce from the debate even with a tie or narrow loss on the merits. Just being on stage with Bush will give him the gravitas he needs to win over a percentage of the undecideds. Moreover, he will benefit from becoming a bigger celebrity by virtue of having 40 million people watch him for 90 minutes. Since Bush is already a celebrity, he won't get this benefit.
Monday, September 27, 2004
* Blogging

Finally some news on Billmon. See today's DailyKos for various articles, including a link to a piece that Billmon did for the LA Times. Seems that he's not going to resume blogging at this point, which is a huge loss particularly given the state of the election.
Thursday, September 23, 2004
* Cat Stevens

All I know about this controversy is that it's going to be great for his record sales. In fact, I think I'll listen to his Greatest Hits on the way to work today.

Seriously, though, I'm sure that there's a large segment of the public that thinks it is a good idea to keep all muslims out of the country and especially Cat Stevens, but I have to think that the average swing voter must see this as kind of ridiculous.
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
*** Iraq

This must-read piece from Juan Cole is making its way through the Blogosphere, but in case you somehow missed it, here's another opportunity to put Iraq into perspective.
Monday, September 20, 2004
* Iraq

Juan Cole on whyit's a bad idea to attempt to conquer Fallujah and similar cities.
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
* Music

Yahoo bought Musicmatch for $160 million.
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
** Russia and the War on Terror

In response to "Russia's 9-11", Vladimir Putin has issued orders that will basically overhaul Russia's political system to consolidate all power in the executive branch.
Under Mr. Putin's proposals, which he said required only legislative approval and not constitutional amendments, the governors or leaders of the country's 89 regions would no longer be elected by popular vote but rather by local legislatures - and only after the president's nomination. Seats in the lower house of the federal Parliament, or Duma, would be elected entirely on national party slates, eliminating district races across the country that now decide half of Parliament's composition. In elections last December, those races accounted for all of the independents and liberals now serving in the Duma.
The ostensible reason for this is that he needs to unite the country to fight terrorism. He is using state-controlled media to push this message to the Russian people.

After reading this article, my first thought was that this is similar to Bush's response to the attacks in America -- i.e. enacting the "Patriot Act". The Patriot Act, of course, was simply a wishlist for authority, and the Bush Administration was able to ram it through with hardly any dissent while the public was still in shock from 9-11.

On further reflection, however, it is clear that America still has a long way to go before we reach Russia's level of totalitarianism. Can you imagine what the response would be if George Bush suggested that from now on, all state governors will be appointed by the President? I like to think that even our supine media and public would utterly reject this.

But what if there's another, worse attack? What will be the next step from the Bushies?

Putin is going to get away with this. At least for now, that is. Russia is in awful shape right now and once Putin has utter and complete control of the country, it will be hard to pin the blame for problems on other forces. On the other hand, this hasn't necessarily been problematic for other dictators (e.g. North Korea).

Could Bush get away with something similarly absurd if there is, say, a real bioterror attack?
Monday, September 13, 2004
** More on Iraq

And for the current state of the debacle, check out today's NYTimes article on yesterday's various attacks and assaults.

The passage that jumps out at me is that we're now facing an average of 87 attacks per day. This is up from something like 20 - 40 per day during the summer.

What a shocker -- giving up entire cities to the insurgents isn't leading to a decrease in attacks against the coalition. I guess, maybe, just maybe, they are using these cities as bases to set up for more and more attacks. How can this be?
** Iraq

Don't miss this Washingotn Post article on the ill-conceived attack on Falluja in the Spring. The article is significant because it contains criticism by the Marine general in charge of the area against the civillian leadership of the military.

We're still reaping the "benefits" of that bungled mission today. For example, we provided local Iraqi National Guard battalions (who were supposedly on our side ... right!) with 800 AK-47 assault rifles, 27 pickup trucks and 50 radios which promptly ended up in the hands of the insurgents.

Not that the insurgents really need our weaponry anyway, given the large stockpiles of weapons that are still sitting around in Iraq waiting to be looted.

Thursday, September 09, 2004
* Movies

Salon is running an interesting review of a movie called What The Bleep Do We Know?! From the review:
The intersection of quantum physics and spirituality might seem an unlikely subject for a feature film with any chance of commercial success. But there's nothing usual about "What the Bleep Do We Know?!" The word-of-mouth sensation that kicked off in a small town in Washington state was recently scooped up by Samuel Goldwyn and Roadside Attractions, the distribution team behind "Super Size Me," who will take it to 100 screens nationwide Sept. 10, with more to follow.

"What the Bleep" mixes elements of documentary, drama and comedy -- as well as animation and live action -- and features Academy Award-winner Marlee Matlin, a dozen scientists in various fields, and a slew of wacky animated characters. Its aim: to show audiences what they're made of and to introduce them to their untapped potential.
It's playing in the East Village, and I think I will try to see it this week.

Thursday, September 02, 2004
* Politics

It's been very entertaining reading the blogosphere today regarding Zell Miller, expecially since I (intentionally) missed it last night to watch first round US Open action. For a good summary, I recommend checking out this story on Kos, and this graphic on the increasingly essential Corrente is funny as well.
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