Sunday, August 21, 2005

because we're all touched by his noodly appendage

Here's the petition to get FSM (Flying Spaghetti Monsterism) theory to get taught along side evolution and inteligent design in Kansas schools. Also, the site shows concrete evidence that global warming is caused by a decline in Pirates. You can help! go check it out ;)

Friday, August 19, 2005

Science discussion topic

It's been a while since we've had a good old-fashioned physics debate, so let's have one now. Would a swimmer swim faster in H2O or D2O? Assume a 400m Olympic race.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

John Roberts & the marginalization of the Democrats

As I watch the nomination of John Roberts move forward, I am constantly amazed by how the Democrats have managed to completely marginalize themselves in the process. I'm sure the Republicans are grateful for the assistance, but I would like to see a modicum of competence from the other side of the aisle. Given that nothing has come out yet that would remotely stand in the way of the nomination, I'm shocked by the opportunities the Democrats let slip by.

The Democrats had a golden opportunity when Bush noinated Roberts to steal all or part of the credit. Roberts is about as moderate as the Dems could have reasonably hoped for-- Roberts's name even came up when one of the Gang of 14 was questioned about what sort of centrist candidate he was looking for. Rather than crowing about the fact that their firm stand for the judicial fillibuster forced Bush to nominate a moderate, rather than one of the more hard-line options, the Democrats just sat on their hands.

Actually, it was worse than sitting on their hands because they chose to start griping about the quality of the consulation they had with the President before the nomination. Leaving aside the fact that there aren't a lot of Senators that can pull that sort of complaint off without sounding like a petulant child, and the there are at best a couple of handfuls of voters who would care, that sort of complaint was a huge lost opportunity. Imagine if the Dems had come out instead and said that they were pleased with the degree to which they were consulted before the nomination and that they were pleased that their principled stand and their suggestions had lead to such a quality nomination. There is no way that Bush could realistically deny such a story without seeming petty (er, we did talk to Senators, but we didn't consult with them, and they didn't suggest Roberts), and this sort of story line portrays the Democrats in the Senate as an equal partner with the President rather than a relatively impotent check on presidential authority.

Now, in the run-up to the hearings, the Dems have utterly failed to articulate any coherent objections to Roberts. Yes, they've nitpicked a couple of briefs hes written and have made some noise about getting additional memos, but there is certainly no coherent idea that ties together whatever objections they might have. What we've heard in the press so far is that he's a particularly nice guy with a distinguished resume and a history of supporting a variety of causes. If the Democrats have any objections, they really ought to voice them before we decide to push for canonizing the guy.

Even better, a NYTimes article a few days ago discussion Sen. Leahy, ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, points out that "Senate Democrats remain divided about how hard to challenge the nomination". Its like the Democrats are conditioned to such a deliberate pace that they always lose because they can never make the first move. Roberts was on most everyone's short list once the vacancy was announced, so this was hardly a shocking nomination. The Democrats needed to know whether they were going to put up a stiff challenge or whether they were going to co-opt Bush's thunder. Either approach would probably have worked when the nomination was made-- waiting a month neuters either argument and makes the Dems look like idiots.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The 50-State Strategy

In case you missed the news, Democrat Paul Hackett lost the by-election in OH-02, but did extremely well in an extremely red district. (For details, look here.) In a Congressional district that the Dems lost by 44 points in the 2004 elections, Iraq War veteran Hackett lost this election by a mere 4 points, thanks in large part to a strong candidate who wasn't afraid to speak his mind, weak Republian opposition, and unprecedented support from the netroots.

If a serious effort can swing a race 40 points our way, there are few 2006 races that won't be competitive, but we've got to fight them all. We can't allow any more FL-07's or SC-03's, where the Republican wins by default because he's unopposed. My challenge to Qian and Bdean: If no one runs for the Dems in your district, file papers and run yourself.

Challenging every single district is important for three reasons. First and most obvious, you can't win a district you're not running in. Second, even if you would ordinarily have no reasonable chance of winning a district, you make your opponents defend home territory, which leaves them fewer resources to attack you where you're weak or where the race is close. And third, downticket support is important for Presidential races. Get somebody to vote for a Democrat now, and they'll be less afraid to pull the lever for a Democratic candidate in the future.

As for the rest of us in red ridings, it behooves us not to just sit back in 2006 when it looks like public opinion might finally be turning against the Republican party. NM-02 is only -20, and even ID-01/ID-02 are only about -40, not impossible to turn (which CD are you in, jocave?). Letters to the editor, political contributions, GOTV efforts, talking to your neighbours... s'all good, and all helpful. Even if you live in a heavily blue area like Massachusetts, CA-09, or MD-04, there's always something that can be done to help out the cause of the last major US political party that's grounded in reality. (As for Maryland, there's an important Senate race next year....)

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

So, no one's posted anything about that 10th planet yet. Is it big enough to be what they're looking for?