The Jaker

Mostly rational politics, with occasional rants about how a few crazy Republicans are ruining the country.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Eating Meat: Cognitive Dissonance... or... Let's Grow Meat in Labs!
I listened to this Will Saletan Slate article on Podcast, and it had a lasting impact, so I'm linking to it here.

Saletan argues that there's a cognitive dissonance (classic science term for something we do that don maka no sensa, when you think about it) between the way we regard certain animals (Barbaro, for example) and the way we treat the ones we eat. He says there's very little substance to merit the different ways we treat dogs and pigs, or horses and cows.

He also goes as far as to call our treatment of animals the moral outrage of our time, similar to, but on a much different scale than, slavery, women's subjugation, etc., (I hope this means that we're getting better as a society... we don't have as many overt discriminations against humans anymore).

Now here's the interesting part: Saletan says we can't get over our cravings for meat, so we should learn to grow it in a lab from stem cells. That way we never have to harm a living, thinking, feeling animal.

Is this turning into a sci-fi movie? Perhaps. But worth pursuing at least, I think.
posted by CB @ 1:07 PM   0 comments
Thursday, May 25, 2006
2008 Presidential Odds Update
Hillary Clinton 5:3. I have to knock Hillary down a little, from 5:4 to 5:3, in light of some bad press lately. As people talk more about Gore, they talk more about why they think Hill can't win it. And there has been increased discussion of her marriage, even overtaking very good policy speeches she makes. She's still the frontrunner, but it won't be a cakewalk.
Al Gore 4:1. Having now seen the movie, I'm slightly more convinced that Gore will run. He had creative control, and it's as much a Gore life story movie as a Global Warming movie. So I'm upping Gore from 7:1 back to 4:1, in second place, where he debuted in my rankings.
John Edwards 5:1
Mark Warner 5:1
Evan Bayh 10:1.
Bill Richardson 11:1
Russ Feingold 11:1. Continues to be the darling of the DailyKos straw poll. So I'll begrudgingly move him up to 11:1 from 12:1, but I don't think he can win it.
Wes Clark 13:1. Fade continues. From 12:1 to 13:1.
John Kerry 14:1.
Barack Obama 14:1. This is juicy. Obama is hiring some nationally-known consultants. And some other pundit, can't remember where, said he and Gore are the only two that could shake up the race. Upping him from 15:1 to 14:1. More signals, and he'll shoot higher.
Joe Biden 15:1
Tom Daschle 20:1.
Tom Vilsack 24:1
Chris Dodd 25:1
Mike Bloomberg 33:1
Dick Gephardt 35:1
Bill Bradley 38:1
Brian Schweitzer 50:1
Bill Nelson 50:1
Howard Dean 65:1
Janet Napolitano 70:1

John McCain 2:1.
Rudy Giuliani 7:1.
George Allen 9:1.
Newt Gingrich 12:1.
Mitt Romney 15:1.
George Pataki 16:1.
Chuck Hagel 10:1.
Condoleezza Rice 18:1.
Bill Frist 18:1.
Mike Huckabee 20:1.
Sam Brownback 20:1
Jeb Bush 24:1.
Colin Powell 35:1
Tom Ridge 35:1.
Bill Owens 40:1
Haley Barbour 40:1
Mike Bloomberg 60:1.
Dick Cheney 125:1
Christie Todd Whitman 150:1

posted by CB @ 5:09 PM   0 comments
Big News Day
1. Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling were convicted in the Enron Case. Burning question: Will Bush pardon Lay on his way out the door on January 19, 2009? I give it a ~25-30% chance, much bigger than it should be.

2. Mahmoud Abbas is pushing for a referendum, expected to pass, that would accept a Palestinian state alongside Israel, thus recognizing Israel's right to exist. That would be a big and bold move.
posted by CB @ 1:33 PM   0 comments
Movie Review: "An Inconvenient Truth"
Last night I saw the movie "An Inconvenient Truth". The movie capitalizes on what I'd call the Farenheit 9/11 phenomenon - that it's often easiest to make a point in a movie, because you have a captive audience for over an hour, you can edit everything together as you like, etc.

"An Inconvenient Truth" is a movie version of a powerpoint presentation that Al Gore has been giving, on and off, for about 15 years. Apparently Laurie David, Larry David's wife and a leading environmentalist, saw Gore's presentation and decided that a movie would be an effective medium to get more people to see it. So a lot of the movie is Al Gore, in an auditorium, giving his presentation to a group of people, with a large screen behind him. [Never fear: it not just a taped version of a presentation at some college... this presentation was clearly put together for the movie filming.]

It might sound boring, but I didn't find it to be. And neither did the rest of the audience, from what I could tell. The person behind me kep gasping, for example when Gore shows a chart of CO2 emissions and average global temperature for the past 650,000 years... they are extremely correlated. And we are today at a level of ludicrously higher CO2 emmissions than any time in those 650,000 years.

Then he shows what can happen when a tipping point is reached and a large glaciar (Greenland, for example) melts, which can occur over a period as short as 10 years. Basically, good bye Holland (almost all under water) and parts of India including Calcutta. Over 100 million people would be displaced.

While Becca (my wife) found the movie depressing, I found it alarming and empowering. He shows, at the end, what various policies would do to cut down our CO2 to a normal level, and they are all possible, but they require government leadership. For example, increasing our mile-per-gallon requirements on new cars to the level of China or any other industrialized nation (we are currently about 1/2 of most countries, China included) would make a substantial difference. Gore points out how ludicrous it is that we think the technology is difficult to produce higher mileage cars when China has those requirements today.

All in all, I highly recommend seeing it. It is a fantastic education, and hopefully will inspire all of us to contact our representatives, and give governmental leaders the authority they need to prioritize this problem.
posted by CB @ 10:28 AM   1 comments
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Hillary narrows gap on McCain
According to a new Fox News poll (so be suspicious), Hillary Clinton trails John McCain by only 4 points, which is down significantly from other polls I've seen in the last 6 months.

Granted, these are early, so they mean little.

Interestingly, Rudy Giuliani does better against Clinton - 49 to 40. About 8 percent of women switch to Giuliani that would vote for Clinton against McCain. Strange. Giuliani has very high favorable ratings. Perhaps we need to remind people of some of the crazy things he did in NYC before 9/11.

Hillary also does better against both of them than Gore. But that should change starting tomorrow when his movie gets a lot of press and opens nationwide.

And here's a long cover story in New York magazine on Al Gore.
posted by CB @ 5:11 PM   0 comments
From the "Mildly Interesting" Category
Chris Dodd, Senator (the better one) from Connecticut, is running for President. I figured, which is why he's been in my odds for awhile.
posted by CB @ 2:56 PM   0 comments
Friday, May 19, 2006
Friday 2008 President Odds Update
Hillary Clinton 5:4
John Edwards 5:1. The main reason he's on top here, next to Hillary, is because these are the only two candidates that have a clear (though unspoken) strategy for 2008. Hillary's is to court the political middle. And JRE's is to court the middle and lower classes, and generate support in the labor community. This will definitely help him.
Mark Warner 5:1
Al Gore 7:1. Gore's movie, "An Inconvenient Truth" debuts Weds May 24th. Go see it. As noted in an earlier post this week, Gore also said there's a chance he could "relapse" into politics again. As such, upping him from 9:1 to 7:1.
Evan Bayh 10:1.
Bill Richardson 11:1
Russ Feingold 12:1. Walking out on the same-sex amendment will endear him further to the grassroots left (Daily Kos people love Russ), but not likely to help in Iowa. Keep him steady.
Wes Clark 12:1.
John Kerry 14:1.
Barack Obama 15:1.
Joe Biden 15:1
Tom Daschle 20:1. This week he was pretty honest about his plans - gauging support for a run - and about the challenge that Hillary presents. Since he's in, I'll up him from 22:1 to 20:1.
Tom Vilsack 24:1
Chris Dodd 25:1
Mike Bloomberg 33:1
Dick Gephardt 35:1
Bill Bradley 38:1
Brian Schweitzer 50:1
Bill Nelson 50:1 This is more realistic. Down from 35:1.
Howard Dean 65:1
Janet Napolitano 70:1

John McCain 2:1.
Rudy Giuliani 7:1.
George Allen 9:1.
Newt Gingrich 12:1. Said on MTP that he doesn't expect to run, but moderated somewhat from a previous stance.
Mitt Romney 15:1.
George Pataki 16:1.
Chuck Hagel 10:1. So critical of Bush. I love it. But the base (if there is one left) probably won't. Moving him down to Pataki land... from 10:1 to 16:1.
Condoleezza Rice 18:1.
Bill Frist 18:1.
Mike Huckabee 20:1. Huckabee is "seriously" preparing for a run. Also says he wouldn't mind being labeled a populist. You know what I like about Huckabee? He's not rich. He's pretty normal. The more I see super-rich presidents and senators, the more disgusted I am with the state of politics. That should not be a requirement to run for office.
Sam Brownback 20:1
Jeb Bush 24:1.
Colin Powell 35:1
Tom Ridge 35:1.
Bill Owens 40:1
Haley Barbour 40:1
Mike Bloomberg 60:1.
Dick Cheney 125:1
Christie Todd Whitman 150:1

posted by CB @ 3:06 PM   0 comments
To be fair, a Dean misstep
In an effort to torture me as I praise him left and right, Dean still has the annoying capability of screwing up. In an appearance on Pat Roberts's The 700 Club, Dean said that the Democratic Party platform said "marriage is between a man and a woman".

It does not (and should not).
posted by CB @ 11:16 AM   0 comments
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
An Inconvenient Truth
Here's the website for the Al Gore / Global Warming movie, and Inconvenient Truth, opening May 24th. It's going to be a big deal. See it.
posted by CB @ 5:59 PM   0 comments
Dean on the Daily Show
Howard Dean appeared on the Daily Show on Monday night, and it made me remember everything I love about the guy, which I'll try to boil down into 2 bullet points:

1. He talks like a regular person. Not afflicted with Senate-speak. Doesn't use the annoying buzzwords that politicians think get through to us (eg. "relief at the pump", etc.). It's the same kind of political conversation you might have with a friend over dinner, EXCEPT...

2. Dean is extremely smart, and can immediately think of the correct response to anything you throw at him.

I wish I could find the transcript from Monday's show (anyone who can gets my praise), but so far I've been unsuccessful. Suffice it to say that whenever Jon Stewart put on his playful "I'll play devil's advocate and say a Republican line" hat, Dean had an immediate and effective response.

The Democrats don't have ideas? Here's a list of 10 things we've been knocking on doors telling people about.

The ideas are broad things everyone will agree with? Here are three specific examples of ways the Democrats would implement Broad Idea #1.

He's also honest, like a normal person. So rather than saying, the Republicans are in disarray and we're going to take the House and Senate in November, Dean said something like "I think we're going to have a good shot at taking the House or Senate, or maybe both". That's what we need more of... honesty from politicians.

So I'll continue to sulk about the fact that the country just couldn't quite get there with Dean. I take consolation in the fact that he's putting himself to good work at the DNC, and I totally agree with his 50-state strategy.
posted by CB @ 5:56 PM   0 comments
The latest from Al Gore
“Gore was pressed on the 2008 issue in Atlanta after a screening of his new global warming movie. His response:

"Like I said, I’m a recovering politician. But you always have to worry about a relapse"

Folks, he's hearing the buzz. Let's keep it up.

Run, Al, run.
posted by CB @ 10:04 AM   0 comments
My history with Howard Dean
I first came across Howard Dean in January 2003, when his bandwagon was still pretty small. A year later he was the leading money-raiser and poll leader for the Dem nomination, but then a few months later it came to a screeching halt.

Before I started this blog, I had a similar space on an Amherst College proprietary website (only accessible to students and alumns). I recently went through my old posts there, to see what I had to say about Dean in the early days. Here's a sample:

Jan 15th 2003 [To my friend Josh]
what's the story with howard dean? good guy, right? seems like he's got good ideas, but jesus what circumstances of events could ever get the guy elected?
[turns out he came very close, but my initial instinct was pretty on]

Jan 16th, 2003:
kerry has the gore problem. totally unexciting guy. plus, i'm not sure people will like his wife - inherited republican senator john heinz's fortune, then turned around and married another (democratic) senator. i think the guy with the best shot of beating bush (though i'm not sure he'd make the best pres) is edwards. the whole southern thing - last three democrats elected (four if you count gore) have been from the south. i also hope bradley enters the race and runs a better campaign. still love that guy. similar in idealogoy to dean i think. and please here's hoping
gephardt gets nowhere.

hey man, i hope dean wins. i signed up for the newsletter, i'll work on the campaign, whatever. but he just won't get enough money. what these guys are doing RIGHT NOW matters a shitload. dean will be out of the race in 6 months when gephardt and edwards and lieberman
and kerry each have $5 million +. he needs to get the VP job or something big needs to happen whereby people learn his name and where he stands.

[well, i was basically right about kerry. and i do still think edwards would have had a better shot at bush. but i was dead wrong about dean raising money. i definitely did not see the power of the internet the way joe trippi harnessed it. "something big" did happen]

July 23, 2003
almost nothing on the internet is more fun than giving money to howard dean and watching the bat go up. this is the second time he's inspired me to give him some $.
[i'd give him money a lot more than twice before the year was over]

One of the conclusions I made from all of this is that candidates really do need to be getting in gear now. Dean, a come-from-nowhere candidate, was making waves large enough for me to see in Jan 2003, analogous to Jan 2007. So whoever is planning that dark horse run better be setting up his shop in the next few months. Very soon it will be the time to come public with your campaign.

In my next post, I'll explain why I went to look this up. Dean, 3 years later, still strikes me as a brilliant guy that we need in government somewhere.
posted by CB @ 9:31 AM   0 comments
Monday, May 15, 2006
Everyone loves Gore lately... where've you been?
Very soon I'm going to have to start taking credit for being one of the first in the blogosphere (if this little blog counts) on the Gore 2008 bandwagon.

Among those joining me lately:
Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo
Andrew Sullivan

When I started my 2008 odds in January 2005, I initially had Gore in 2nd place behind Hillary (though because of the way I did the site then I can't tell where I had them). I do know I moved Gore to 5:2 in Feb '05.
posted by CB @ 2:22 PM   0 comments
Gore on SNL
Check out Gore rip on Bush in the video... really funny.
posted by CB @ 12:11 PM   0 comments
I'd Rather Be Fishin
The Washington Post, at least one writer, agrees with me that President Bush probably doesn't like his job. You can't be that intellectually uncurious and enjoy the Presidency, a job in which you are tasked with understanding nothing short of the cohesive workings of the global economy, the geopolitical balance, and subtle matters of diplomacy.

But Bush can't come up with a moment of his Presidency that he enjoyed more than fishing in his private lake.
posted by CB @ 9:53 AM   0 comments
Friday, May 12, 2006
Friday 2008 Presidential Odds Update
I haven't done an odds update in awhile (my apologies). Starting today I'm going to change the format somewhat of the updates.

Previously I would just comment on the people I was changing, and then the update would be reflected in the column to the right (which is part of my blog template). The problem with that system was that I couldn't see the changes in my odds over time... specifically I couldn't go to a certain date and see what my odds were.

So starting today, in my Friday updates (which hopefully will go back to an every week or two schedule), I'll be publishing the full list in the body of the post, and make my comments directly next to the name. This should work better.

I'm also going to cull the list a little. Removing people about whom no one has yet speculated.

And now on to the changes...

Hillary Clinton 5:4 . HC has courted Rupert Murdoch, among others to help her raise money. The question remains: can she satisfy the liberal wing of the party and avoid being attacked by everyone starting in December? Still, no one even comes close to her collection of advantages. Upping from 3:2 to 5:4.
John Edwards 5:1
Mark Warner 5:1
Al Gore 9:1. For my Gore in 2008 theory to be successful, his coming-soon global warming movie has to generate a new groundswell of love for Al this summer. This will be the key period to see if the country remembers the great parts (that he filtered out in 2000) and decides it wants to see him run again.
Evan Bayh 10:1. Rumor has it he's raising lots of money quietly. Swapping him with Billy R.
Bill Richardson 11:1
Russ Feingold 12:1. People keep saying that Feingold will be the Dean of 2008 (the good part), but I just don't buy it. Yes, he's more critical of Bush than most, which is great, but I don't see him putting it together like Dean did. I think he'll be more of a Wes Clark type.
Wes Clark 12:1. Speaking of which, he's been somewhat active lately. But I have yet to see any reason why he'll do any better this time around.
John Kerry 14:1. Winning favors in the party by donating money to lots of Congressional candidates. But not many people want to see him run again, according to polls.
Barack Obama 15:1. At a Loyola U speech, someone "requested" that he run in 2008. All he said was that he's flattered. Leaving it open to be the VP nominee? Perhaps. I'm going to knock him from 12:1 to 15:1.
Joe Biden 15:1
Tom Daschle 22:1
Tom Vilsack 24:1
Chris Dodd 25:1
Mike Bloomberg 33:1
Bill Nelson 35:1
Dick Gephardt 35:1
Bill Bradley 38:1
Brian Schweitzer 50:1
Howard Dean 65:1
Janet Napolitano 70:1

John McCain 2:1. How will his speech at Falwell U go over? Probably no big fallout. But he continues to gain momentum, and now insiders are tapping him as the likely nominee. I'm upping Johnnie to 2:1 from 7:2.
Rudy Giuliani 7:1. Rudy is experiencing a little bit of a backlash... movies, blog posts, etc. Plus his friends say they don't know if he'll do it. I'll leave him at 7:1.
George Allen 9:1. Gotta knock him down on all this stuff about his love of the Confederate flag. Hell, he might even lose his re-election to the Senate. And the insider poll that a year ago had him the frontrunner among those in-the-know gives that label to McCain now. Taking him from 6:1 to 9:1.
Chuck Hagel 10:1. Could Hagel fill the void? He's railing against the party lately, which is potentially both good and bad. But if not him, then who else could challenge McCain? For now, Hagel stays at 10:1.
Newt Gingrich 12:1. I think Newt has a chance to be the trustworthy conservative that the right wing gets behind to battle McCain. So I'm upping from 20:1 to 12:1.
Mitt Romney 15:1. See Pataki. Upping to 15:1 from 22:1
George Pataki 16:1. Without doing anything himself, I think Pataki (and Romney) are helped by George Allen's foibles. Moving to 16:1 from 20:1.
Condoleezza Rice 18:1. If she was running, she'd be 3:1 with McCain, or maybe better. But she's not (we think).
Bill Frist 18:1. Immigration bill and tax cuts might help. But not much.
Mike Huckabee 20:1. I think Huckabee could be the dark horse of this race, at least to make a long run. I'm going to take him to 20:1 from 25:1.
Sam Brownback 20:1
Jeb Bush 24:1. Both 41 and 43 say he should run someday, but he says not in 2008. Leave him at 24 for now.
Colin Powell 35:1
Tom Ridge 35:1. Haven't heard a peep.
Bill Owens 40:1
Haley Barbour 40:1
Mike Bloomberg 60:1. More likely to run as a Dem or 3rd party, if he were going to at all. Would be very hard to win the GOP primary.
Dick Cheney 125:1
Christie Todd Whitman 150:1

posted by CB @ 12:16 PM   8 comments
Thursday, May 11, 2006
An interesting idea for 2008
A CBS analyst has presented a plan for a third party run in 2008, led by Michael Bloomberg. He is pretty darn popular.
posted by CB @ 2:31 PM   0 comments
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Newark's long march starts today
Congratulations to the residents of Newark, NJ for making the right decision (4 years late) and electing Cory Booker mayor.

I wrote about Cory in May '05, saying "Cory will undoubtedly win the mayoral election in Newark in May 2006" and tagged him as my first highlighted Up and Coming Democrat (did I ever have a second?) in November '04.

Cory, a Rhodes Scholar, Yale Law grad, All-American football player at Stanford, who chose to live in a housing project and work to rejuvenate Newark, is exactly the type of politician places like Newark need. I hope that he can get a lot done there in a short time, because his skills are needed more broadly.

I predict the NJ governorship in 4 or 8 years, and then a run for President around 2016. And he'll have my support all the way.
posted by CB @ 9:41 AM   2 comments
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
The Iran Letter
Read it here

Without going too far, I just wonder what George Bush & company really think about a letter like this. Does it get them thinking at all? Or is thinking beneath them?
posted by CB @ 12:30 PM   0 comments
Good for you Robin
This article by Robin Toner in the NYTimes is the best description of the realities of the opportunity/challenge facing the Democratic party this November.

What's great about the article is that it does not rely on the mainstream stereotype that's been bandied about for the last year or two because it's easy and funny - that Democrats are incompetent and have no ideas.

In other words, this is real reporting and real writing.
posted by CB @ 11:48 AM   0 comments
Monday, May 08, 2006
Defying the critics
Check it out: The Democratic Party has a legislative agenda!

Among the bills planned for the "legislative blitz during their first week in power":
- increase in the minimum wage (nice)
- roll back parts of the Republican presciption drug law (necessary)
- homeland security controls (vital)
- reinstate lapsed budget controls (necessary)

Not mentioned is rolling back part of the Bush tax cuts, but probably best not to propose that, as it's all the media would focus on.
posted by CB @ 4:29 PM   0 comments
Friday, May 05, 2006
Death penalty's death blow?
This may be the first hard evidence that someone executed in the U.S. was actually innocent.
posted by CB @ 12:35 PM   0 comments
Thursday, May 04, 2006
New Presidential Polls are out
New 2008 Poll from American Research Group.

And they somewhat match my odds at right.

For Democrats, Hillary Clinton is way ahead, with Edwards in second, and Kerry/Gore/Clark the next tier down.

For Republicans, John McCain is way ahead, with Giuliani in solid second, and Gingrich/Romney the next tier.

What surprises me:
- George Allen is quite low in all the polls
- Same for Mark Warner
- Newt Gingrich gets more respect than I thought he would, though it's totally deserved.

People like Frist and Pataki should just drop out right now.
posted by CB @ 10:22 AM   0 comments
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Lethal Injection is cruel
See why at Talk Left
posted by CB @ 6:20 PM   0 comments
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
By the way
I'm glad the public called the Republicans on their stupid "here's $100, aren't we great" gas-tax relief plan. The Democrats' plan for a "gas tax holiday" is equally stupid and pandering.

What should we do? Expand clean energy related tax incentives to the exact tune of how much extra in gas tax the government is receiving over say two years ago. The price of gas should be allowed to go up (and I'd argue should be taxed higher) to penalize for the environmental and geopolitical impact that our consumption of oil has. But we should try to combat the regressiveness of the tax (for example on people that can't afford to live close to where they work) by expanding tax breaks in other areas.
posted by CB @ 6:16 PM   0 comments
Thank you indeed, Stephen Colbert
At the White House Correspondents Dinner over the weekend, Stephen Colbert gave one of the most courageous and necessary speeches of the Bush presidency. With Bush 5 ft away, Colbert railed on him for about 30 minutes. His jokes weren't meant to provoke laughter so much as disgust, and for me, they really hit home.

For those of you who haven't seen it, here's the video.
posted by CB @ 4:54 PM   0 comments
Whoop De Do
Here's what I don't like about the Catholic Church... when they recognize that the world is changing and that some long-held tenet needs to be modified or abandoned, they make the change in a serious of tiny, unimportant, quarter-steps forward that ends up condemning progress to an interminably slow march.

Take the condom ban. It's totally absurd, dates from when people didn't understand biology, and needs to be changed. I believe even the ultra right-wing pope understands that. But rather than taking the bold step of saying condoms are often the wise solution, the Pope instead decides to consider relaxing the ban on married couples' use of condoms when one partner has AIDS.

The ludicracy of this is: does the Pope really think there are actual people in the world for whom this ban matters? Married couples, one with AIDS, who aren't having sex because they can't use condoms, or who are having unprotected sex and resigning themsevles to both getting AIDS because the Pope says condoms are bad? What the hell is the point of this intermittent step???

I've become convinced that we need to put political pressure on the Vatican to reform the way the Pope is elected. Right now a Pope can name whatever Cardinals he wants, even if they don't match the populice. That should be amended so that Cardinals for various places much match the makeup of parishioners. So if Latin America really is where the most Catholics are these days, they should get the most Cardinals.
posted by CB @ 9:23 AM   1 comments

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