February 2008

So Huckabee is resisting the calls to bow out:


 Good for him.  I find this insistence of party elders (in both parties) on a coronation to be quite insulting.  People like to participate, to make a choice.  How many voters feel alienated because they didn’t even get a chance to vote for their best candidate?  And isn’t our campaign season too damn long already?  Do we need to have six months of the two nominees attacking each other rather than three?

 Besides, it’s really entertaining to watch the Republican base express its unhappiness.


Apparently Mao offered Henry Kissinger women… a few thousands, even a few million.  China was poor, he explained, and women were just increasing the population.


 And Kissinger, the fool, didn’t take him up on it. 

Found this in my junk folder…

…We have been having a meeting for the passed 7 months which ended 2 days ago with the former  secretary to the UNITED NATIONS.

This email is to all the people that have been scammed in any part of the world, the UNITED NATIONS have agreed to compensate them with the sum of US$ 500,000,00 This includes every foriegn contractors that may have not received their contract sum, and people that have had an unfinished transaction or international businesses that failed due to Government problems etc.  

You are advised to contact Mr. Jim Ovia of ZENITH BANK NIGERIA PLC, as he is our representative in Nigeria, contact him immediately for your Cheque/ International Bank Draft of USD$ 500,000,00 This funds are in a Bank Draft for security purpose ok? 

 The letter is signed Kofi Anan, who apparently can’t spell his own name.

Nigerian scam letters are usually pretty entertaining, with elaborate tales of woe…  but this one just spits on credibility.  The UN is sending out half-million-dollar checks to “all the people that have been scammed”?  The UN?  And the former secretary is in charge?  And for some reason Annan, who is Ghanaian, is working from Nigeria?  

I’m also entertained, somehow, by that final “ok?”  This is a really official letter that’s totally from the former secretary (UNITED NATIONS) ok?

(I wish, by the way, that WordPress could handle simple carriage returns.  It seems random whether it’ll remember a paragraph break or not.)

Andrew Sullivan has a nice analysis of the Republican and Democratic fields, focussing on how the winning candidates are largely defined by not being Bush:

And now we have the three potential Bush replacements: John McCain, the man who ran against him in 2000, voted against his tax cuts, excoriated his torture policy and assailed his Iraq occupation; Hillary, the wife of the man Bush succeeded and who beat his daddy; and Barack Obama, a young, charismatic JFK-liberal whose eloquence and erudition are almost textbook negatives of Bush’s folksy, faux-ignorant charm.


Interestingly, Sullivan is hot for Obama.  He likes the way Obama gets people fired up across party lines, and he thinks Hillary will be both too cautious and too divisive.

I forget if I’ve plugged Chainmail Bikini before:


It’s written by Shamus Young (who did the equally hilarious DM of the Rings) and drawn by Shawn Gaston.  Unlike Rich Burlew, who is pretty much just telling a comedy-laced adventure story now, Young still fills the comic with D&D jokes.  Part of the fun is the little comment by Young or one of the players at the end of each panel, offering somewhat cynical advice about gaming.

 As a world creator and sometime DM, I particularly like Young’s comments that emphasize the disconnect between the DM’s and the players’ understanding of and interest in the plot, to say nothing of the world.  Young points out that if you ask the players to summarize the story, their version will be completely unrecognizable (and leave out all your carefully worked out names).

What is your informed opinion of McCain? Personally, I think that for a Republican, he’s not that bad. He has reputedly said that Democrats are OK and that he can do business with Democrats – which I personally think is a good thing, because you guys must all be tired of having an essentially divisive president. How would the internal political climate of the States develop under McCain, in your opinion? Would this undeclared Dem-Rep civil war stop?
–Panu Petteri Höglund
Anyone hated by Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, James Dobson, and Rick Santorum can’t be all bad.  McCain is definitely a grown-up and he’d certainly be a huge improvement on Bush.
 On the plus side, he voted against Bush’s first two sets of tax cuts, he’s squarely against torture and has vowed to shut down Guantanamo, he’s known for trying to reform campaign financing, he has a reasonable position on immigration, and he worked closely with John Kerry to normalize relations with Vietnam.
How conservative (pink line) or liberal (blue line) McCain has been
The graph (from Wikipedia) shows an interesting change in the mid-1990s; McCain moved substantially to the left.  However, I think moderates and liberals may be easily deceived, because they personally like the guy, as to how centrist he really is.
On the minus side, he served quite happily as Bush’s pit dog on the Iraq war, voted to extend Bush’s tax cuts, tried hard to court the religious right, supports banning abortion, and opposes universal health care. 
I lost a lot of respect for him when he started cheerleading for Bush, because he’s smart enough to know better.  It was obviously politically expedient as a Republican for him to court the base, but his reputation was precisely as a maverick who didn’t bow to political expediency.
At this point McCain has painted himself into a corner with Iraq.  He’s recognized that things have gone wrong, but I don’t see any evidence that he has a plan to make things any better.  I can’t see him getting elected by promising to ramp up the war, but I can’t see his projected decades-long occupation working without such a ramp-up. 
As for political acrimony– it would lessen if the White House wasn’t orchestrating it.  But the right was noisy and nasty all through Clinton’s presidency without being in power, and they haven’t gone away or mellowed out.  If anything they may get nastier, since raging and ranting are easier to do when you’re out of power and don’t actually have to run anything.  If the Democrats keep control of Congress, which seems likely, however, their ability to influence events will be much smaller, and McCain will, like it or not, have to govern more from the center– he’d probably look more like Bush I or Nixon than like Reagan or Bush II.  I’d guess we’d get smaller deficits, more civil rights, incremental progress on the environment, maybe some agreements on immigration and campaign finance reform, and no health reform.

I’ve been slowly discovering Christopher Moore.  I enjoyed The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror a few years ago, and I just finished Bloodsucking Fiends: a love story.  I recommend both for good frothy fun.  Moore is funny in a slightly edgy, slackery way, without any real nastiness.  In Swatoons terms he is more of a Lore than an Agto.

But that means I should go finish A New Green History of the World, which is pretty depressing reading.  (Synopsis: It was a mistake to stop hunting/gathering and we’re all doomed.)

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