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Friday, October 31, 2003

 
Crappy Movies From The Future I recently stumbled across this website, which is perfect for someone like myself who likes to know well in advance which truly bad movies they can expect to see. Actually, they have references to a whole range of movies, good and bad, but it’s the crappy ones that I like to find out about. How else would I have found out that there’s going to be a movie pairing the Alien monster against the Predator, in a film titled, appropriately enough, “Alien vs Predator”? Kind of reminds me of a lot of bad movies from years past like “Dracula vs The Wolfman” or “King Kong versus Godzilla”. My all time favorite in the “villain vs villain” genre has to be “Billy The Kid vs Dracula”, which actually was a real movie. Plot: While travelling through the American West by stagecoach, Count Dracula meets landowner James Underhill and becomes captivated with a picture of Underhill's niece Betty Bentley. After Dracula drinks the blood of an Indian girl, Indians attack the coach, killing all. Dracula then poses as Underhill and takes over his Double Bar B ranch. But as Dracula moves in on Betty to drink her blood, two European immigrants realize that Dracula is really a vampire. It is up to the reformed Billy the Kid, who is working as Double Bar B’s foreman and in love with Betty, to stop Dracula. In a matchup between Alien and Predator, I predict the loser will be the career of any actors signed to appear in the film. I also found out about a new movie that Jennifer Lopez is looking into, “Dance Lesons”. It’s described as a cross between Footloose and The Full Monty, whatever the hell that means. Perhaps John Lithgow will make an appearance as Jo Lo’s father, a minister who frowns on male strippers. Meanwhile, Lopez’s soul-mate Ben Affleck is apparently set to star in ”Glory Road”, a drama about the a basketball coach. Not just any coah, but Don Haskins, who led the first all-black team to the NCAA championship. Jerry Bruckheimer will produce, repeating the relationship he had with Affleck for Armageddon and Pearl Harbor. It’s not immediately clear how they’ll work a whole lot of explosions into a movie about college basketball, but I’m sure Bruckheimer will find a way. What else, what else? It seems that Rob Schneider is trying to develop an R-rated sequal to “Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo”. Apparently the “artiste” Schneider is miffed at the restrictions cased by attempots by studios to make him adhere to a PG-13 type script, and wants the added freeedom that an R rating would allow. An example: One example is a date in the second film with a veil-wearing Katrina, who tells Deuce she was the survivor of a car accident that killed her twin brother. She was sewn back together with some of his parts and suffice to say, the nose came from him and the veil rises each time Deuce touches her. Yeah, hilarious. Just the kind of stuff we’d expect from Schneider. Anyway, wouldn’t this gag only make sense if Katrina’a brother was gay? Am I missing something? Finally, I already knew about this, but it seems like such a bad idea that it merits revisiting. Jim Cary’s been signed to do ”The Six Million Dollar Man”, which would turn a cheesy TV drama into a cheesy big screen comedy.

posted by gunther at 3:47 PM Link

 
Why Am I Not Surprised They Won’t Call It A “Black List”? A group of conservative college students at the University of Texas has announced what they call a ”watch list” of faculty who they accuse of excessive ideological bias. The Young Texas Conservatives have posted a list of 10 UT faculty on their website who they claim push a biased political agenda in their classrooms. While the group claims that professors aren’t targeted because of their politics, nine of the ten people listed are leftish/liberal, and there is only one token conservative. A University of Texas student group has put the names of 10 faculty members on a watch list designed to warn students about professors that the group thinks push a political agenda in their classrooms. UT's chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas created its Professor Watchlist in time for spring registration, which began this week and continues through Nov. 7. The group distributed the list Thursday at a West Mall table. The list also is posted on the group's Web site. "It's not a blacklist. It's a watch list," said Austin Kinghorn, a senior government major who is chairman of the UT chapter. "This gives students a little bit more control in their education to help understand what ideology a professor is pushing before they go to class." … The Young Conservatives say their list is the only one of its kind at UT. It is similar to one on a national site called NoIndoctrination.org, which offers faculty evaluations based on perceived political biases…. Some of the group's 50 or so members provided information based on class visits or classes in which they were enrolled. Kinghorn asked for nominations via the Web site, including details on the teacher, department, specific classes and examples of bias. The Web site also lists some faculty members on an "honor roll" for their perceived neutrality. The first three are government professors Bruce Buchanan, J. Budziszewski and Rhonda Evans-Case. The watch list blasts Bob Jensen, a vocal anti-war activist who teaches courses in media law, ethics and politics, saying he introduces students "to a crash course in socialism, white privilege, the 'truth' about the Persian Gulf War and the role of America as the world's prominent sponsor of terrorism." Jensen said he's not surprised. He describes his political philosophy as left-progressive. "There are students who thank me for bringing up these issues and being straightforward," he said. "I have also had complaints and comments from those who think I'm pushing a certain political agenda in class." Comments about government professor David Edwards say he "teaches one side of the story." Edwards, who has taught at UT for 39 years, said the critique is "selective perception." "It is true that most of the examples I use are from the Bush administration because that is the current administration," he said. "Any attentive student may have heard criticisms of the Clinton administration, as they may have heard about the Bush administration." Most of the faculty members were chosen for perceived liberal bias, but Kinghorn said the list is nonpartisan. He described economics professor Stephen Bronars as "economically conservative." "The group decided to do this because the majority of professors who push an agenda are liberal," he said. "That's not to say there aren't conservative professors out there doing the same thing." Indeed, the YCT criticism of Bronars is mild compared to the rhetoric used to describe it’s other nine targeted faculty. And since part of the basis for evaluating a faculty member’s alleged bias is “classroom visits”, it reasonable to assume that one could get on the watch list based on the opinions of someone who wasn’t even a student, and had done none of the readings for the course. The Young Conservatives of Texas recently attracted attention when in late September they had a bake sale. Actually it was a YCT chapter at Southern Methodist University, not UT, that held the controversial “affirmative action” bake sale, which was criticized at the time for being racist and offensive. University officials closed the event down early because they feared a potential confrontation between bake sale organizers and other students who might have taken exception to the message being sent. The sign said white males had to pay $1 for a cookie. White women: 75 cents. Hispanics: 50 cents. Blacks: a quarter. The event Tuesday at Southern Methodist University was no PTA bake sale. It was a conservative student group's attempt at making a political statement, and it caused such a stir that SMU shut it down after 45 minutes. The Young Conservatives of Texas chapter ran its so-called affirmative action bake sale to protest the use of race or gender as a factor in college admissions. Conservative groups have held similar sales at colleges around the country since February. Group leaders say they were only making a point while exercising their freedom of speech, but a black student who filed a discrimination complaint with SMU said the bake sale was offensive. SMU officials said they halted the event because it created a potentially unsafe situation for students. "This was not an issue about free speech," said Tim Moore, director of the Hughes-Trigg Student Center. "It was really an issue where we had a hostile environment being created that was potentially volatile." During the bake sale, students were crowding around the table outside the student center, and several began to get into a shouting match, Mr. Moore said. David C. Rushing, a second-year SMU law student and leader of the conservatives' group, said the event didn't get out of hand and that at the most, a dozen students gathered around the table of sugar and chocolate chip cookies and Rice Krispie treats. "We copied what's been done at multiple campuses around the country to illustrate our opinion of affirmative action and how we think it's unfair," said Mr. Rushing, chairman of Young Conservatives of Texas at SMU and for the state. Chapters of the group held similar bake sales at the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University this month. Both schools allowed the events, citing free speech policies. Mr. Rushing, 23, said the events strive to give students a sense of the inequality he says is created by unequal college admissions policies for whites and minority groups. Matt Houston, a sophomore, said the group's sign, which listed prices for the treats by the race and sex of buyers, was not a learning tool. It was offensive, he said. "My reaction was disgust because of the ignorance of some SMU students," said Mr. Houston, who is black. "They were arguing that affirmative action was solely based on race. It's not based on race. It's based on bringing a diverse community to a certain organization." He and Kambira Jones, a 20-year-old junior, both expressed their concerns to SMU officials. "When I saw this, I was like, 'I can't believe they let you guys post this,' " she said. "I felt they were attempting to make Hispanics and blacks feel inferior. We jumped over the same hoops to get there." SMU's freshman class this year is one of its most diverse ever – 20 percent are minorities. Overall, minority enrollment among the school's 10,000-member student body is 19 percent. Before the bake sale brouhaha, SMU already was planning a forum so students and others could debate the aftermath of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action. The court ruled in June that universities could use race as a factor in admissions under limited conditions. The ruling changes the landscape in Texas, where universities have been banned from using race as a factor since 1996. "We value free speech, and I think our record here shows freedom of expression is important to the academic community and especially this one," said James Caswell, SMU's vice president of student affairs. The students organizing the SMU event said they meant no offense. To get permission for setting up, students said only that they were holding a bake sale. The YCT chapter at UT did hold an “affirmative action bake sale” of their own in September, as their website documents. Their version seemed to be slightly more politically correct than the one held at SMU. The price list used at the SMU event gave its most expensive prices to white males ($1 per cookie), and least expensive to blacks (25 cents). At the UT bake sale, the price list dropped the gender factor completely, lumped whites in with asians and indians, and had as its most expensive price category that of “humans – if you prefer to be judged by the content of your character rather than the color of your skin”. Other photos of the YCT bake sale at UT are here and here. Oh, and Austin Kinghorn, the leader of the UT chapter of Young Conservatives of Texas. A bit more on him here: [Ed: letter to the editor in a college publication]Hi. I was a participant (antiwar) in the debate you mention at UT-Austin. While there was certainly some disrespectful behavior on both sides of the aisle, you (and CNN) misrepresent what actually transpired. Here's the real "fistfight" story: An antiwar person was being particularly obnoxious and a member of YCT - Austin Kinghorn - told him to shutup. The antiwar guy responded by grabbing his crotch. Kinghorn then got up out of his seat and started walking back to the antiwar guy with his fists raised. Kinghorn was swearing and was clearly enraged. His friends held him back from attacking the antiwar guy. That was basically the entire incident. Thought you should have the actual facts. -xxxxxx Posted by xxxxxx on May 11, 2003 07:04 PM

posted by gunther at 3:02 PM Link

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

 
Is Bush A Moron VII: Press Conference 10/28/03, and Democratic Debate 10/26/03

Bush held a press conference today and the results from analyzing his speech were as follows (debate 2000 numbers in italics):

Reading Ease = 65.2% 72.8%

Grade Equivalent = 7.9 6.9

BRI-2 = .043 .040

A little bit better than normal on the traditional readability measures, but still lagging on grammatical errors. Examples of some of the errors found:

We're trying to determine the nature of who these people were.

It is dangerous in Iraq because there are some who believe that we're soft, that the will of the United States can be shaken by suiciders -- and suiciders who are willing to drive up to a Red Cross center, a center of international help and aid and comfort, and just kill.

In other words, an Iraqi policemen did their job.

The tactics to respond to more suiciders driving cars will alter on the ground;

I have said the fence is a problem to the extent that the fence is a opportunity to make it difficult for a Palestinian state to emerge.

-- I value her judgment and her intelligence -- but her job is also to deal interagency and to help unstick things that may get stuck, is the best way to put it.

She's an unsticker.

In other words, we've got very close alliances now as a result of not only winning a war, but doing the right things in the postwar period.


And in the category of “just plain stupid” are the following:

There are going to be new textbooks coming, which no longer glorify the tyrant, Saddam Hussein, but glorify basic education -- or, at least, promote basic education.

She's doing -- the role of the National Security Advisor is to not only provide good advice to the President, which she does on a regular basis -- I value her judgment and her intelligence -- but her job is also to deal interagency and to help unstick things that may get stuck, is the best way to put it. She's an unsticker.

In America, we love the fact that we are a society in which people can pray openly -- or not pray at all, for that matter.


Also included today are the figures for the Democratic candidates debate held on Sunday, 10/26. The main things that jump out are that the Dems as a group still tend to perform better than Bush, and Kucinich (hard to understand and ungrammatical) and Gephardt (easy to understand and makes few grammar errors) are basically on opposite ends of the spectrum, at least in terms of English useage. An odd finding was that on the readability measures, Wesley Clark actually does worse than the Bush baseline, while he excels in grammar per se. Possibly an oddball result but he might be taking lessons in how to “dumb down” his speech so that he appeals to a wider audience. Time will tell… Anyway, the numbers (with Bush’s 2000 debate performance for comparision):

Reading Ease

Kucinich 57.6%
Dean 64.3%
Kerry 66.4%
Sharpton 66.4%
Edwards 66.7%
Lieberman 67.4%
Moseley Braun 68.1%
Gephardt 71.6%
Bush 72.8%
Clark 76.8%

Grade Equivalent

Kucinich 10.4
Dean 8.7
Sharpton 8.3
Moseley Braun 8.1
Kerry 7.9
Edwards 7.6
Lieberman 7.2
Gephardt 6.9
Bush 6.9
Clark 5.7

BRI-2 (Grammar Errors)

Edwards .000
Lieberman .000
Gephardt .000
Clark .000
Kerry .015
Dean .019
Moseley Braun .021
Sharpton .022
Kucinich .024
Bush .040



posted by gunther at 1:24 PM Link

 
Four Little Words Something strange occurred yesterday, which I learned of only because I happened to catch a bit of Monday’s press briefing between Bush and Bremer. It wasn’t a formal press conference, but the two of them sat in chairs and answered a few questions from reporters. What struck me about the briefing was something that I heard just before I turned off the TV and went out the door to work. An unidentified reporter tried to ask a followup question of Bush, and was cut off in a manner that I thought was rather rude and discourteous. What I heard was Bush saying something about something (I tuned it out), and then after he’d finished, a reporter started to ask a followup. Bush said (and I remember this very clearly) “That was your question”, ignored them, looked very annoyed, and proceeded to solicit a question from someone else. I remember thinking “What an asshole.” It struck me as a display of the kind of attitude you’d expect from someone who’d been catered to by servants his whole life, someone who resents it when the press is anything other than subservient. What really struck me as odd was that when I went to the Whitehouse web page later in the day to read the transcript of the entire briefing, I couldn’t find any evidence of the exchange. After reading the entire transcript over twice, it was nowhere to be found. The closest I could see to what I had witnessed earlier was the following: THE PRESIDENT: Deb, you've got a question? Q Yes, sir. Mr. President, the attacks are getting more brazen, they're getting more frequent. What do you know about who is behind these attacks? Is it Saddam? And what steps did you all discuss this morning about better protecting U.S. personnel there? THE PRESIDENT: The best way to describe the people who are conducting these attacks are cold-blooded killers, terrorists. That's all they are. They're terrorists. And the best way to find them is to work with the Iraqi people to ferret them out and go get them. And that's exactly what we discussed. What was the other part of your question? Q What steps did you discuss this morning about better protecting U.S. personnel? THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think if you -- we've hardened a lot of our targets for U.S. personnel there. And today's attacks were against places like the Red Cross, or police stations. These people will kill Iraqis. They don't care who they kill. They just want to kill. And we will find them, exactly what we discussed on how best to do so. The Iraqi people understand that there's a handful of people who don't want to live in freedom, aren't interested in their children going to schools, aren't -- don't really care about the nature of the health care they get, aren't pleased with the fact that the electricity is coming back on line, aren't happy about the fact that Iraq is now selling oil on the world markets and people are finding work. And they'll do whatever it takes to stop this progress. And our job is to work with the Iraqis to prevent this from happening. That's why we're working hard to get more Iraqi policemen; that's why we're working hard to build up the Iraqi armed forces; and that's why we're working hard with freedom-loving Iraqis to help ferret these people out before they attack and strike. And – Q But, sir – THE PRESIDENT: Randy. Q Mr. President, much of the aid offered for Iraq at the Madrid conference was in the form of loans, rather than grants. What impact might this have on your threat to veto the U.S.-Iraqi aid bill if part of the reconstruction aid is in loans? … It continues from there. I’m convinced that what Bush actually said was “That was your question -- Randy”, but the transcript apparently was cleaned up so that this small section, just four little words, were removed entirely. Why? One can surmise that the original exchange doesn’t put Bush in such an attractive light, making him appear either unwilling to answer followup questions, or arrogant and condescending. If so, then someone at the Whitehouse took it upon themselves to do some creative editing. Just four little words. But they say so much about the focus this administration has on controlling every aspect of it’s image. p.s. – The CNN website has a link to a transcript of the briefing, but the link doesn’t work.

posted by gunther at 9:40 AM Link

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

 
Is Bush A Moron VI: Democratic Debate 10/9/03

A couple of new updates on the IBAM project. Bush today had a roundtable Q/A session with reporters aborad Air Force One while en route to Australia. I‘ve analyzed the transcript of his speech, and the results are as follows: Reading Ease – 69.2%; Grade Equivalent – 7.2; BRI-2 = .046. Pretty much par for the course for Bush. Give him credit for remembering a long list of strange-sounding names of foreign leaders, but I’m sure he practiced a lot.

Also today are the figures from the last Democratic presidential candidate debate, which took place October 9th. Included are their accompanying numbers from the previous debate in italics. Along with Bush’s values from the 2000 presidential debates for comparison.

Reading Ease

Gephardt 76.4 71.7
Sharpton 73.3 67.8
Bush 72.8
Kucinich 72.4 59.5
Dean 69.7 62.4
Clark 68.9 68.2
Edwards 68.2 67.1
Kerry 67.1 63.8
Moseley Braun 63.2 53.9
Lieberman 62.4 61.4


Grade Level Equivalent

Moseley Braun 9.9 11.3
Lieberman 8.7 8.8
Kerry 8.3 8.3
Edwards 8.1 8.4
Dean 7.5 8.7
Kucinich 7.3 8.9
Clark 7.1 7.2
Sharpton 7.1 8
Bush 6.9
Gephardt 5.6 6.5

BRI-2 (Grammar) Index

Kucinich 0.061 .024
Bush 0.040
Gephardt 0.027 .011
Kerry 0.022 .000
Moseley Braun 0.021 .020
Edwards 0.013 .014
Dean 0.011 .000
Clark 0.010 .019
Lieberman 0.000 .014
Sharpton 0.000 .025


In the first Dem debate analyzed, the only Democratic candidate who did worse than Bush's baseline performance was Gephardt, on grade leval equivalent. In the most recent debate, Gephardt continued to perform worse than Bush on Grade, and now also did worse than Bush on reading ease (Al Sharpton also was worse than Bush). On the BRI-2 (grammar) index, Kucinich was worse than Bush.



posted by gunther at 6:06 PM Link

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

 
Just in Time For Christmas Via World O’Crap, via Tbogg, comes the latest contributions from the good folks at Talking Presidents dot com. There are the folks who brought us the George W. Bush Top Gun action figure a while back. They now feature, in addition to Presidential figures for Bush I, Bush II, and Clinton, new additions to their increasingly kitschy product line: Ann Coulter Donald Rumsfeld Personally, I don’t know how I’ll be able to contain myself waiting until the Paul Wolfowitz version comes out. I’ll have to make do with these in the meantime. If action figures aren’t your thing, there’s always art, whether it be Richard Nixon, or this “There’s a new president in town” poster of George W. Bush, which manages to make him look both clueless and simpering at the same time. Check out the rather bizarre “Don’t Mess With Texas” version listed below this one, and the “Bowling Nixon” poster as well.

posted by gunther at 11:35 AM Link

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

 
Republican Staffer’s Leaked Email Gets Attention From DNC The Democratic National Committee’s website has posted what they say is a verbatim copy of an email celebrating the Republicans victory in the Texas redistricting fight. the email was written by Joby Fortson, who is a staffer in the office of Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), and was sent to a number of other Republican staffers in the House of Representatives. Fortson goes over each congressional district, with editorial commentary provided. The email is notable for the blunt way in which it address the way in which minorities were shunted from district to district, squeezing them out of districts to favor republicans where the vote was close, or else putting them into overwhelmingly republican districts where their voting power wpuld be diluted. Here is the full text of the email, as posted on the DNC website. The typos are from the original: From: Joby Fortson Subject: R's will pick up 6-7 seats now in Texas The maps are now official. I have studied them and this is the most agressive map I have ever seen. This has a real national impact that should assure that Republicans keep the House no matte the national mood. http://www.tlc.state.tx.us/research/redist/pdf/map_plan01374c.pdf A quick rundown 1 - Sandlin - it gets more republican by throwing Tyler into the district. The heart of Turner's district goes to this distrioct. A solid state rep or senator could bat Sandlin/Turner in a tight race. The district is over 60% GOP but Sandlin has roots. (prediction lean staying Dem) 2- Turner - the distrcit is moved to the Houston area in an open Republican seat in northeat Harris County. It is new territory made of Brady, Lampson and a little Turner land.= but over 60% Republican (switches to Republican) 3 - Johnson - this Plano based diestrict stays the same (remains R) 4 - Hall - Hall will win this distrcit again IF he runs. However, having the area around Texarkana instead of Tyler ight discourage him. If he retires (as inidcations are he will) this will flip. (switches to R) 5- Hensarling - the district is shrunk and becomes more urban picking up East Dallas and becomes more republican (stays R) 6 - Barton - my boss actually was drawn into a district with both Frost's and Turner's homes however, if they would like to commit political suicide, be my guest. The district has gone from 57% R to 63% adding more Republican territory in Tarrant County. (remains R) 7 - Culberson - the Houston Memorial "old money" dsitrict remains the same (remains R) 8 - Brady - Brady keeps staunch Republican Montgomery County as his base north of Houston and goes north tyo chop off the other half of Turner's rural district that the 1st gobbled up. Montgomery County keeps this VERY republican (remains R) 9 - Lampson - This is a new majority minority african American district drawn for Rep Wilson around Houston Hobby Airport. Lampson is not in it and Bell is effectively drawn out in favor of Wilson (Remains D) 10 - Doggett - ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha - The district goes from North central Austin (NOT liberal Hyde Park but more north conservative Plugerville area) and stretches to Katy Texas outside of Houston. Robert called this the 290 district. It is very Republican and will be where my friend Brian Walters will be likely running. Littelfield already is a consultant. (sweitches to R) 11 - Edwards - This is the "new" Midland seat drawn for Speaker Craddick protege Connaway who lost a close one of Neugebauer in the Combest open seat. This is very Republican. (Switches to R) 12 - Granger - Granger's district continues to be a dafe Ft. Worth R seat (remains R) 13 - Thornberry - Thornberry remains pretty muich the smae but the map is very wacky at points to appease Speaker Craddick and State Senator Duncan. (remains R) 14 - Paul - Ron Paul and Nick Lampson are drawn together in a republican district. This could be trickier than thought given Paul's unusual behavior. It IS republican though centered around Lake Jackson south of Houston, but Brandon can attest that Galveston is a lean D area. Lake Jackson and points south though are HEAVY R. Tus, the district is 60% R. (remains R) 15 - Hinojosa - I do not know if if Hinojosa will take this one or another of the "stripe" districts. One of these is new and part of the voting rights protection element. They run from Austin area to the border side by side. (remains D) 16 - Reyes - this El Paso seat remains relatively unchanged (remains D) 17 - Stenholm - Really its the one Chet Edwards will run in and . . . bye Chet. Chet loses his Killeen-Ft. Hood Base in exchange for conservative Johnson County. They will not like the fact he kills babies, prevents kids from praying and wants to take their guns. State Rep Arlene Wohlgemuth come on down, you are the next Congressman from Texas. To be fair, while Edwards will likely lose, at least he has a fighting chance as Waco is the population center (but hasn't he been LOSING Waco lately - yep!) (switches to R) 18 - Jackson-Lee - as much as we despise her, she cannot be drawn out. She still has the 5th ward and downtown Houston. The Queen lives!!!! (remains D) 19 - Neugebauer - thsi is easily the wackiest district and evidently was the last one drawn. It places Stenholm and Neugebauer in the same seat but most of it is Neugebauer's Lubbock based territory. Stenholm has a chnace because it is very Ag oriented. Abilene just simply replaces Midland as the other population center. Once you see the map, you will shake your head at this one. The overwhelming R nature of it gives the freshman the edge, but Tim Holden in Pennsylvania showed that is not necessarily all it takes. (remains R in a close member-member battle) 20 - Gonzalez - The Alamo still will keep its rep in a similar district. Tony Zafirini's boss is safe (Remains D) 21 - Lamar Smith - this district still has Alamo Heights (rich San Antonio), Westlake (rich west Austin) and San Marcos - (remains R) 22 - Tom DeLay - DeLay, the supposed architect of this map according to Dems, still has his strong R base in Sugarland but gives away enough R's to give Paul and even greater edge in the 14th. (remains R) 23 - Bonilla - half of Webb County (laredo) goes to Hispanic districts and he gets more of Bexar Copunty (north San Antonio) in return to shore up this slowly more Dem growing seat. (remains R) 24 - Frost - ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Hello Congressman Marchant (a state Senator). His distrcit disappeared as Burgess takes inner city Ft. Worth, Eddie Bernice Johnson takes his part of inner city Dallas, Sessions takes his hispanic voters in central Dallas and Barton takes his home in north Arlington. It simply disappears in a Coppell centered district in the VERY republican mid-cities area between Dallas and Ft. Worth. This is the D's best legal challenge as inner city Ft. Worth will now be outnumbered in a Rpublican suburban district (see CD 26). However, the creation of a new african american seat in Houston so that new map should pass the challenge. (switches to R) 25 - Bell - this seat is removed from the Houston area (in its place is the new african american district) and this is one of the new "stripe" districts running from Austin to the border. It takes hispanic east Austin and runs to the border. (remains D) 26 - Burgess - the old Armey seat takes on 150,000 inner city Ft. Worth residents but is paired with 450,000 fervent republicans in Denton County. Lewisville, Denton and other VERY republican areas north make it, over 60% R despite the presence of inner city Ft. Worth. (remains R) 27 - Ortiz - This district still has the Texas coastline from Corpus Christi to Brownsville in the beginning of the strpie districts. (remains D) 28 - Ciro Rodriguez likely will still run in the final "stripe" district that runs from Chinagrove (the little town outside of San Antone from Doobie Brothers fame) all the way to the border. (remains D) 29 - Gene Green - this is still a hispanic seat that gets even more hispanic in Houston. I expect Gene Green to keep it but watch for the primary challenge (remains D) 30 - Eddie Bernice Johnson - she takes Frost's african American population in Dallas and lets her republican precincts (like las colinas) go. Her district finally for the first time make perfect sense geographically. (remains D) 31 - Sessions - still has the Park Cities (rich Dallas) and north Dallas. However, he pciks up some hispanic voters from the old Frost district. This is still a VERY republcian seat as people from the Park Cities vote in great numbers. remember this is the infamous 75225 zip code which raise alomst 20% of Bush's presidential money and voted in the largets precinct 97% Bush-3% Dukakis. This district does not just have people who vote republican but people who ARE republican. (remains R) 32- Carrter - the final district is another gem. Edwards loses the republicans that suppiort him and they now are with John Carter in a Williamson County centered district. This is made for Carter and is still very safe republcian territory. (remains R)

posted by gunther at 3:52 PM Link

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

 
Dems File Lawsuit to Block Redistricting Well, that didn’t take long. Democratic lawmakers have filed suit in Tyler, Texas to prevent implementation of the newly redrawn congressional district map that Republicans approved on the weekend. The Democrats argue that the map violates the voting rights of minorities. The motion was filed on Sunday, and Dems chose Tyler because it was that court that drew the congressional redistricting map that is now in effect. The court redrew congressional lines in 2001 after lawmakers failed to come to an agreement on redistricting in the wake of the last census. After the bill passed, the Democrats alleged that there were at least three federal Voting Rights Act violations in the map. Democrats said Republicans turned a previously Hispanic district into a non-minority district by splitting Webb County, where Laredo is located, because it cuts from one district tens of thousands of South Texans living along the Mexico border. Democrats also complained about the destruction of the minority district held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Martin Frost in the Dallas area and a district that starts in Central Texas in Travis County, home to Austin and the state Capitol, and snakes its way to the Mexico border. …Democrats wanted to keep the existing map and fought the bill's passage, staging two boycotts of the Texas Legislature and forcing Perry to call three special sessions before the bill was approved. The text of the motion filed by Democrats is here. They are in effect calling for the court to maintain the current congressional map for the 2004 election cycle, until legal issues regarding the legality of the new map have been settled. They also bring up the issue of the rescheduling of the primary elections from March 2 to march 9, which would move the Democrats presidential primary until one week after super Tuesday. The full brief is 42 pages long and is too detailed to summarize here. I’ll get to a more in depth analysis some time soon. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b), Plaintiffs Mayfield, Stanley, Cottle, Lee, and Woods (“the Mayfield Plaintiffs”) respectfully move this Court for an order (1) prohibiting the Defendants from implementing Plan 1374C, the congressional redistricting plan passed by the Texas Legislature on October 12, 2003 (House Bill No. 3, 78th Legislature, 3rd Called Session, 2003), unless and until they have sought and won an order from this Court lifting its 2001 injunction requiring use of Plan 1151C, and (2) establishing an orderly process for consideration of such a modification request. In support of that motion, we make four basic points. First, there is an injunction currently in place requiring use of the 2001 Court-drawn map (Plan 1151C), and Defendants would have to seek relief under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) to Implement the new plan. Second, in assessing such a motion, the Court would be called upon not only to determine the legality of the new map but also to weigh equitable considerations in which the public interest plays a significant role. In particular, Defendants should be required to show some public benefit produced by use of the proposed Plan 1374C that outweighs the disruption caused by using a radically new districting plan for the third election in a row, especially if there is some chance that legal developments will require yet another map before 2006. Proposed Plan 1374C would be particularly disruptive, as it moves more than 8.1 million Texans into new districts. Moreover, as the State has now conceded, Plan 1374C can only be implemented by moving the primary elections – including the presidential primary – from March 2, 2004 (“Super Tuesday”), back to March 9, by which time the Democratic presidential nomination contest will likely have been resolved by primaries held in other States (including California and New York). Third, there are very strong arguments that the new map violates federal law – arguments that would be impossible to resolve without a full evidentiary hearing. Fourth, the Court has been presented with this complex set of questions only weeks before the commencement of the electoral process for 2004, leaving little time for appropriate consideration. For these reasons, the Mayfield Plaintiffs respectfully suggest that the Court leave the current map in place for the 2004 election cycle and adopt a schedule allowing for orderly consideration of the possibility of putting the Legislature’s new map into effect thereafter. Alternatively, it will be necessary to litigate the relevant issues on a very expedited basis. Under no circumstances, we submit, should the Court allow the new map to take effect without a prior determination that it is lawful and that the balance of relevant equitable considerations justifies a new map at this point in the decade.

posted by gunther at 4:56 PM Link

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

 
Is Bush A Moron V: Comments After Cabinet Meeting 10/7/03

Bush’s brief interaction with the press after today’s cabinet meeting was particular entertaining. He managed to squeeze in multiple subject-verb disagreements, unknown words and just plain mangled English into a small amount of time. His score on the BRI-2 index for grammar was among the highest seen yet. Grade Level 7.4, reading Ease 66.8, BRI-2 = .102. Some examples:

There's just too many lawsuits, junk lawsuits which drive up the cost of health care.

There's all kinds of experts, you'll probably find all kinds of opinions.

Now, this is a large administration, and there's a lot of senior officials.

This is a country which recently was attacked by a suicider that killed innocent children and women, people that were celebrating in a restaurant.

…How many sources have you had that's leaked information that you've exposed or have been exposed?

But I do know that the actions we have taken were necessary actions and that are good -- they were good actions for economic vitality and growth.

But we are also mindful when we make decisions, as the Prime Minister should be, that the -- that he fully understand the consequences of any decision and that while he defends his people that there is not -- that he doesn't create the conditions necessary for -- that would cause the escalation -- the violence to escalate.



posted by gunther at 12:46 PM Link

Monday, October 06, 2003

 
Is Bush A Moron IV: The Democratic Candidates Debate

In the interest of showing some balance, and providing more context for the continuing Bush series, today’s version of IBAM presents the results of an analysis I ran on the performance of the 10 Democratic presidential candidates. This was done following the most recent debate of about 10 days, ago, which was the first one that Wesley Clark participated in. For comparison purposes, the results I previously posted for Bush and his performance in the 2000 debates against Al Gore are included as well.

Reading Ease

The following table shows the reading ease scores for Bush and the 10 Democratic candidates. Bush has the highest reading ease score, meaning that his language is extremely easy to follow. Gephardt is next, with a bunch of the remainder clustered in the 60’s. The lowest score, i.e. the most complicated speech, was that of Bob Graham.

Reading Ease Bush 72.8%
Gephardt 71.7
Clark 68.2
Sharpton 67.8
Edwards 67.1
Kerry 63.8
Dean 62.4
Lieberman 61.4
Kucinich 59.5
Moseley Braun 53.9
Graham 50.5

Grade Level

This measure shows that Bush and Gephardt again are at the extreme, with the two lowest grade level equivalents. Clark is third, as he was with the reading ease scores. Once again, it is the threesome of Graham, Moseley Braun, and Kucinich who use the most complicated language, with Graham at the extreme.

Grade Level
Graham 11.7
Moseley Braun 11.3
Kucinich 8.9
Lieberman 8.8
Kerry 8.7
Dean 8.7
Edwards 8.4
Sharpton 8
Clark 7.2
Bush 6.9
Gephardt 6.5


BRI-2

This measure, which more directly reflects the number of actual grammatical errors made when speaking, sees Bush getting one of the higher scores. But not the highest, however. That honor goes to – Bob Graham. All other candidates do better than Bush, with Dean, Kerry and Gephardt doing the best. Dean and Kerry did not make a single grammatical error during the debate. Gephardt seems to have the best of both worlds, in the sense that he makes few errors but at the same time speaks in a style that most people can understand. The real loser here is Bob Graham, who used the most complicated language but stillmade more grammatical errors (percentage-wise) than Bush. He also dropped out of the race tonight. Will Kucinich and Moseley Braun be next?

BRI-2
Graham 0.046
Bush 0.040
Sharpton 0.025
Kucinich 0.024
Moseley Braun 0.020
Clark 0.019
Lieberman 0.014
Edwards 0.014
Gephardt 0.011
Kerry 0.000
Dean 0.000


posted by gunther at 11:23 PM Link

 
Poetry Day So who knew that George Bush could write poetry? Well, after reading the poem he allegedly wrote for his wife, as reported in this CNN story, I’m still not convinced that English is his strong suit. At a gala Friday night kicking off this weekend's third National Book Festival, Mrs. Bush celebrated the written word in an age of visual media, thanking American authors for their "tales of mystery, history and heroism." "A good book is like an unreachable itch; you just can't leave it alone," she said at the Library of Congress, repository of 126 million books, recordings, photographs, maps, manuscripts and more. She revealed that President Bush had penned a poem for her when she got back from a five-day solo trip to Europe, where she attended a book festival in Moscow and visited France -- getting two kisses on the hand from French President Jacques Chirac. "Roses are red/Violets are blue/Oh my, lump in the bed/How I've missed you." Bush sometimes refers to his wife as a lump in the bed. Mrs. Bush went on: "Roses are redder/Bluer am I/Seeing you kissed by that charming French guy." And then the finale: "The dogs and the cat, they missed you too/Barney's still mad you dropped him, he ate your shoe/The distance, my dear, has been such a barrier/Next time you want an adventure, just land on a carrier." Wait, I thought that he dropped the dog. Now he’s blaming her? Seems like it’s always someone else to blame for his mistakes. Counterspin is sponsoring a poetry contest, with submissions required to be in the style of G. W. Bush. I’ve submitted the ones below, two of which should qualify. I doubt if the haiku would be considered “in the style of Bush” but I’m including it here for your edification. 1. A Bush Haiku Oh, lump in the bed. When you are gone I suffer. Chirac should be dead. 2. A Poem Roses are red. Oil is black. And you are in France with that bastard Chirac. Roses are redder, And blood is the same. Who the hell put the finger on Valerie Plamme? Uranium cakes are yellow, not grey. Least that’s what I’m told by my buddy Ken Lay. I’ll ask his advice when I can find the time, on how to commit felonies without doing the time. 3. A Poem The flag it is red, and it’s white and it’s blue. Oh, lump in the bed, What they’re saying’s not true. The war with Iraq, It was fair! It was just! Between me and some lefty, now who would you trust? The evil doers must not be allowed to bring suiciders to ‘merica’s ground. We’ll stomp them. We’ll crush them. But if they escape, We’ll capture Bin Laden at an opportune date.

posted by gunther at 3:48 PM Link

Thursday, October 02, 2003

 
Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Drug Addict And David Frum is Just an Idiot I was going to do a post on Rush Limbaugh’s bad week, but it’s been done to death, and I came across another guy who needed to be beat up on. So I decided to write about David Frum instead. The American Prospect has a brief blurb referring to Frum’s recent article in the National Review Online, in which he chooses to bash his former home of Canada. The prospect points out, correctly, that Frum was in error when he claimed as he did that there was never any slavery in Canada. In particular, they refer to the statement: “They have created a situation in which Canada, a society uncursed by slavery, now has an out-of-wedlock birthrate as high as that in the United States.“ The prospect, correctly, took Frum to task for asserting that slavery had never existed in Canada, since it had (although it never reached the dimensions it did in the States). There are numerous other criticisms that his piece of drivel deserved, however, that I’m more than happy to offer here. Frum’s article is basically an attempt to show that Canada is not all that great. The specific point he wanted to makes in the section including the sentence quoted above is that crime is increasing in Canada faster than it is in the U.S. because of an excessively high birthrate among single mothers. You see, all those single, poor mothers are raising kids who develop into criminals. ”The fatherless boys of the 1980s and 1990s are the muggers of the 2000s.” There are so many things to criticize about this section. The attempt to relate out-of-wedlock births to slavery is a patently racist statement, and an incorrect one at that. He’s implying that the supposedly high rate of single motherhood in Canada can’t be explained by race, but this presumes that it can be explained by race in the U.S. This is not the case. According to the CDC, blacks do have a higher rate of nonmarital births than do whites, but this gap has narrowed significantly in recent years. In fact, blacks don’t even have the highest nonmarital birth rate in the U.S.: Hispanics do. Nonmarital birth rates differ considerably by race and Hispanic origin. Rates for unmarried black women have historically been higher than for white women, but the disparity has narrowed in recent years. The rate for black women was 7 times that for white women in 1970 but, by 1998, this differential was just under 2. The rate for unmarried Hispanic woman is the highest for any race/ethnicity group, consistent with the overall higher birth rate for Hispanic women. So Frum is dead wrong in his insinuation that nonmarital birth rates in the U.S. are somehow linked to a history of slavery or race. And he’s wrong about what’s actually happening in Canada. He also claims that Canada… “has an out-of-wedlock birthrate as high as that in the United States.” I thought this was an absurd statement to begin with, and so I checked (maybe Frum should have before writing). The Clearinghouse on International Developments in Child, Youth, and Family Policies at Columbia University has a wealth of statistics on this and other related issues; David, I highly recommend it. The particular statistic I was interested in shows the percentage of working age parents with dependent children who are single mothers. The percentage in the U.S. is 23%. In Canada, it’s 14%. Of course, this is not birth rate per se. What about actual birth rate for single mothers? According to the CDC, the percentage of births to unmarried women in the U.S. was 32.8 in 1998, while comparable data for Canada showed a rate of 28%. In terms of teenage pregnancy, the U.S. also has higher numbers than Canada; 57 teen births per 100 in the U.S. versus 24 per 1000 in Canada. So Frum’s explanation of the greater increase in Canada’s crime rate is a piece-of-crap argument with no factual basis. What about his claim that property crime rates are higher in Canada than in the U.S.? True and not true, as it turns out. This claim comes from Eli Lehrer, who is a senior editor at the American Enterprise Institute. I suspected that they probably wouldn’t be reliable and decided to check them out myself by going to the United Nations Survey on Crime Trends. The data comparing crime rates in the U.S. and Canada are from 1999, the last year for which they listed current data for both countries. What does the data show? Crimes against individuals are almost universally higher in the U.S. than in Canada; homicide (4.55 per 100,000 in the U.S. and 1.59 in Canada); assault with a firearm (2.97 per 100,000 vs 0.54); major assault (805 vs 758) and common assault (329 vs 8). The only category in which Canada had higher numbers was rape, with a rate of 78 per 100,000 versus 32 per 100,000 in the U.S. (of course this refers to reported crimes, so this alone might account for the difference on rape). Were property crimes really higher in Canada? Not really. There were some categories in which Canadian rates were higher; burglaries (952 per 100,000 vs 755); fraud (278 vs 133 per 100,000); and auto theft (520 vs 412 per 100,000). But there were others in which rates were higher in the U.S., specifically theft (2502 vs 2279 per 100,000), drugs (560 vs 285 per 100,000) and robberies (147 vs 87 per 100,000). In fact the overall statistics show a higher rate of property crimes in the U.S. than in Canada, exactly the opposite of what Frum claims. I shouldn’t even bother going over the arguments he makes in the rest of his article, but as long as I’ve started, I’ll touch on a couple: 1. The gap in "living standards" between Canada and the United States is not 15%. Frum claims the gap is actually higher, because Canada has higher tax rates. Thus people have less money in their pockets. This ignores the fact that the higher taxes pay for a lot of things that give Canadians things that Americans don’t have, like free health care. 2.Canada has not "begun to close" this gap. The argument here is that Canada has not begun to move closer to the U.S. in terms of living standards. Here he is simply in denial. Canada’s economy has been doing better than that of the U.S. in recent years, and this has helped the living standards improve relative to those in the U.S. Frum’s only argument against this is to assume that things will somehow get better, ignoring the likely ramifications of the huge deficit the U.S. will be faced with, compared to the budget surpluses that Canada currently enjoys. 3. Canada does not protect the environment better than the United States. In fact, almost all Canadian environmental legislation is copied from previously enacted U.S. legislation, and for ten years, Canada has been catching up to superior U.S. standards. It’s hard to believe that anyone can take this claim seriously with the current crowd in the White House. The last I looked Canada wasn’t trying to start drilling for oil in the arctic. His claims refer to a website sponsored by the “Urban Renaissance Institute”, which is headed by someone named Lawrence Solomon. Some samples from his articles in the National Post (a right wing rag): On Cuba: “…Though he was corrupt, Batista made Cuba into an economic powerhouse with a thriving free press. In the hands of Fidel Castro, the island's economy, and the voice of the people, have both been throttled.” On The World Bank: “…The Bank is clear despite misinterpretations: Full-bore privatization remains the best course for any country concerned about its citizens.” On Provincial Governments: “…The provinces ruined our resource sectors and stymied free-market reforms. For the good of Canada, they should be weakened or abolished.” I won’t dwell on the arguments that Solomon makes regarding the merits of NAFTA, and how it forced Canada to adopt the higher environmental standards of the U.S. Historically, this might be true. It might be the only accurate thing Frum includes in the entire article, and since I’m not an expert on environmental policy I’ll let that one pass. Despite this, the article demonstrates again why anything David Frum writes should be either ignored or fact-checked.

posted by gunther at 3:50 PM Link