Monday, October 30, 2006

Partisan humor

Today's chuckle is ripped from the comments at Political Animal:

George W. Bush was out jogging one morning when he tripped, fell over a bridge railing and landed in the creek below. Before the Secret Service guys could get to him, three kids who were fishing, pulled him out of the water. Bush was so grateful he offered the kids whatever they wanted.

The first kid said, "I sure would like to go to Disneyland." George said, "No problem. I'll take you there on Air Force One."

The second kid said, "I really need a new pair of Nike Air Jordan's." George said, "I'll get them for you and even have Michael sign them!"

The third kid said, "I want a motorized wheelchair with a built-in TV and stereo headset!!" George Bush is a little perplexed by this and says, "But you don't look like you are injured or handicapped."

The kid says, "I will be after my dad finds out I saved your ass from drowning!"

Growing in influence

Today Kos discusses the growing influence of Internet news sources, including blogs, on the electorate. He cites an ABC News story which tells of more and more people turning to the Web for information:

The number of people who go online for political news is rising, with more than one-third saying they check the Internet for such information.

This group is more likely to be younger, better educated and male than the population in general, an Associated Press-AOL News poll found.

The most popular destinations are the news sites, such as those run by newspapers, networks and newsmagazines, with nine of 10 in the online political audience saying they go there. Just over one-third go to candidate's sites and almost half check out political sites.

The poll found:

Four in 10 men search the Web for political news, compared with three in 10 women.

About four in 10 of those under age 50 search the Web for political news, compared with fewer than two in 10 of those 65 and over.

More than half of those with college degrees look to the Web for politics, compared with one-third of those who have some college, and fewer than one in six with a high school education or less.

A lot of this is consistent with past studies showing that the more politically active are better-educated in general.

Of particular interest to bloggers is data Kos cites showing that of the 38 percent of registered voters that go online for political information, 24 percent of those say that they regularly read political blogs. With Census information counting 142 million registered voters in 2004, this crunches out to some 13,000,000 regular politcal blog readers, not counting the two or three who wander onto this site by accident.

I've been on record as saying that the political blogosphere is just a drop in the bucket, that even mega-bloggers like Kos and Instapundit are still relative small fry in the cyber-universe when compared to phenomena such as e-Bay and MySpace. Numbers like these, however, tend to argue otherwise. The political blogosphere is an ever-growing force, one whose influence is about to be felt on the electoral scene in ways the traditional media has a hard time fathoming. The future is arriving even faster than I thought it would.

Friday, October 27, 2006

On This Date In History: October 27, 1960

It was on this date at 12:05 PM Central time that a doctor at Scott Air Force Base Hospital outside of Belleville, Illinois delivered a male child into this world who would go on to become the proprietor of this humble blog. I thought it might be interesting to step into the time machine and see what else happened on this historic date.

With the elections less than two weeks away and a spirited fight between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon taking place, the campaign held center stage. JFK spent the day stumping in New York City, climaxed by a speech in Washington Square before 4000 NYU students. Kennedy closed his day by placing a phone call to the wife of Martin Luther King, expressing his support for the civil rights leader at that time in jail in Atlanta for violating tresspassing laws. Also, the New York Times announced their endorsement of Kennedy, their first for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1944.

Eleanor Roosevelt was particularly busy on the campaign trail in the Midwest; she made stops in Indianapolis, Champaign, Illinois, and St. Louis on behalf of Senator Kennedy that day. Another Democratic heavy hitter, former President Harry Truman, was in Seattle making a campaign speech for JFK.

Vice-President Nixon and his wife Pat appeared on CBS-TV's Person to Person program, while President Eisenhower spoke in Virginia at a ceremony honoring the late President Woodrow Wilson.

Also on this day, Ben E. King cut two of the all-time great R&B sides, "Stand By Me" and "Spanish Harlem" with producers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. And the American League admitted two expansion franchises, the second incarnation of the Washington Senators (today's Texas Rangers) and the Los Angeles Angels (known at various times as the California Angels, Anaheim Angels, and today, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim).

Through the miracle of the internets, we even know who appeared on The Tonight Show that night. Jack Paar hosted a star-studded lineup that included Jack Lemmon, Anne Bancroft, and Peggy Cass. Also appearing was someone known only as Genevieve; the only information available on her is that she once appeared as a mystery guest on What's My Line?.

A couple of other items that reflect the times: Declassified materials reveal that the Soviet Union had an "incident" involving one of their nuclear reactors that day. And an attorney in Lexington, Kentucky reported spotting a UFO.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Worst. Congress. Ever. Subjects for further investigation

Although not the exegesis promised to IrishWalsh, these handy links will give you something to chew on in between bouts of cursing your TV set for delivering you the latest round of gutter politics:

--AZ-Sen: Jon Kyl

--AZ-01: Rick Renzi

--AZ-05: J.D. Hayworth

--CA-04: John Doolittle

--CA-11: Richard Pombo

--CA-50: Brian Bilbray

--CO-04: Marilyn Musgrave

--CO-05: Doug Lamborn

--CO-07: Rick O'Donnell

--CT-04: Christopher Shays

--FL-13: Vernon Buchanan

--FL-16: Joe Negron

--FL-22: Clay Shaw

--ID-01: Bill Sali

--IL-06: Peter Roskam

--IL-10: Mark Kirk

--IL-14: Dennis Hastert

--IN-02: Chris Chocola

--IN-08: John Hostettler

--IA-01: Mike Whalen

--KS-02: Jim Ryun

--KY-03: Anne Northup

--KY-04: Geoff Davis

--MD-Sen: Michael Steele

--MN-01: Gil Gutknecht

--MN-06: Michele Bachmann

--MO-Sen: Jim Talent

--MT-Sen: Conrad Burns

--NV-03: Jon Porter

--NH-02: Charlie Bass

--NJ-07: Mike Ferguson

--NM-01: Heather Wilson

--NY-03: Peter King

--NY-20: John Sweeney

--NY-26: Tom Reynolds

--NY-29: Randy Kuhl

--NC-08: Robin Hayes

--NC-11: Charles Taylor

--OH-01: Steve Chabot

--OH-02: Jean Schmidt

--OH-15: Deborah Pryce

--OH-18: Joy Padgett

--PA-04: Melissa Hart

--PA-07: Curt Weldon

--PA-08: Mike Fitzpatrick

--PA-10: Don Sherwood

--RI-Sen: Lincoln Chafee

--TN-Sen: Bob Corker

--VA-Sen: George Allen

--VA-10: Frank Wolf

--WA-Sen: Mike McGavick

--WA-08: Dave Reichert

Courtesy of Chris Bowers.

ADDENDUM: It must be pointed out that in fairness, not all of the above listed are currently sitting members of Congress. Some are wannabees who have the potential to make the 110th Congress an uglier sight than the 109th.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Worst. Congress. Ever.

Earlier this year, Rolling Stone asked if George W. Bush was indeed "The Worst President In History?" The magazine publicized a History News Network survey of 415 historians whose majority opinion was indeed that Our Maximum Leader belonged on the bottom rung of US presidents; noted liberal historian Sean Wilentz provided analysis.

Now Rolling Stone returns with its verdict on Congress. The results: Worst. Congress. Ever. Author Matt Taibbi can be a smartass at times, but here he pens a sober analysis of the failings of the 109th Congress, relying on expert testimony from representatives, staffers, and academics from both sides of the aisle. As the man once said, you don't want to watch legislation or sausages being made; this article proves that old adage to be true as it exposes the bullying, greed, and illiteracy (yes, illiteracy) of those purporting to represent us in Washington.

Also check to see if your Congressman made the Ten Worst List. Bear in mind what I've said about such lists reflecting the prejudices of their authors, yet the behavior of the Ten Most Wanted is inexcusable regardless of party affiliation. Taibbi also provides a companion article where he expresses his fears that if the Democrats regain the majority in November, they may not do much better. Essential pre-election reading.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Public service announcement

A reminder from the Hill that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is an important subject to us since my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer and has been through the ordeals of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. The good news is that she is a survivor. She continues to grow stronger daily and is fast approaching the five-year mark where the doctors declare you to be cancer-free. Mrs. S. reminds the female readership to have regular mammography screenings, especially those who are over 40.

A Korean history lesson

The underpublicized and underappreciated Tom Hull has a good series of posts up this week on the North Korean situation. Of special interest is his history of US-Korean relations from World War II up to and including the Korean War. In his essay, Hull quotes liberally from Joyce and Gabriel Kolko's The Limits Of Power: The World and United States Foreign Policy, 1945-1954. A lengthy read, but essential for those who want to understand further how we got to where we got to with the North Koreans.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Five surgeons

Programming note: I've got a lot of overtime coming up in order to help pay the mortgage on The Hill; a good chunk of my scant off-time will be spent on internal issues needing my attention. Posting here the next few weeks may be more sporadic than usual...

Today's chuckle is courtesy of my father-in-law, who fills my inbox with tidbits he gleans from his corner of the internets:

Five surgeons are discussing who has the best patients to operate on.
The first surgeon says, "I like to see accountants on my operating table
because when you open them up, everything inside is numbered."

The second responds, "Yeah, but you should try electricians! Everything
inside them is color coded."

The third surgeon says, "No, I really think librarians are the best;
everything inside them is in alphabetical order."

The fourth surgeon chimes in: "You know, I like construction workers.
Those guys always understand when you have a few parts left over at the
end, and when the job takes longer than you said it would."

But the fifth surgeon shut them all up when he observed:

"You're all wrong. Politicians are the easiest to operate on.

There's no guts, no heart, no balls, no brains and no spine, and the
head and the ass are interchangeable..."

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Tricky Dick rides again

The poll numbers are down. The Middle East war is increasingly unpopular. One of your Congressmen shows an interest in boinking his pages, and the scandal may well reach to the Speaker of the House himself. What's a Republican to do?

Well, you can reach back in the playbook - wa-a-ay back. You can accuse a Democratic challenger for a House seat of being a Communist...

Friday, October 06, 2006

Making their quota

From today's Tennessean:

At least five apparently bogus voter registration forms were submitted to the Metro Nashville election commission by a worker with ties to the Republican National Committee, and up to 150 other registrations have been called into question, The Tennessean has learned.

And you thought that Republicans were the sophisticated party when it came to manipulating the vote, and that they left all that low-tech cheating to the Democrats...

State Election Coordinator Brook Thompson said the strategy behind the fraud was unclear, but that the system's safeguards appeared to have caught it.

"At first blush it does not appear that the problem lies with somebody doing something trying to falsify a vote," Thompson said. "It's more an issue of registration problems. The question is, why would they do that?"

Gee, Brook, I dunno - whoever would think of doing a thing like that?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Appropriate image

For those too young to remember, The Chief and his variants were a familiar sight in the early days of television, especially for insomniacs. He has faded off into the mists of time, his duties today being performed by the infomercial.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Keep your eye on the ball

Bob Corker,despite sacking most of his campaign staff leadership over the last few days, nevertheless remains neck-and-neck with Harod Ford in their race to replace Bill Frist in the U.S. Senate. Democrats predicting impending doom for the Corker campaign may want to keep the champagne on ice a bit longer.

What us political-junkie types and blog one-percenters seem to forget sometimes is that the average voter pays little attention to the insider jockeying that is a part of any campaign. Most people watching a football game follow the man carrying the ball and seldom notice the linemen doing the blocking.

Republican leadership in Tennessee is agitated, though - by this time, they figured Corker would be pulling away with the race. But Ford has proven to be a smooth campaigner thus far, while Corker sometimes looks like he's got a bit too much starch in his shorts. Ford has also gotten mileage out of the finding that Corker's construction firm used undocumented Mexican labor at a Memphis work site. Also, Corker has yet to fully reconcile with the hard right of the Tennessee Republican Party - his primary opponents, Ed Bryant and Van Hilleary remain cool towards him, and Tennessee Right To Life refused Corker their endorsement, choosing to remain neutral in the race.

Harold Ford is not my ideal Democrat - he spouts the same unrealistic "get tough on illegal aliens" talk as Corker; Nashville is in no danger of becoming Nuevo Laredo any time soon. And Ford even has commercials running this week saying he favors a federal balanced budget amendment, for Christ's sake. But Ford seems to have done a good job of gauging a Tennessee electorate that prefers its politicians neither too far left or too far right, and if Ford's supporters keep their eye on the ball instead of making too much of Corker's campaign staff troubles, this is one Senate seat that Democrats will likely flip over to their column next month.