Tuesday, October 31, 2006

no no no.

Ok, so some people have decided that Christmas starts before Thanksgiving. Ok. I mean, not ok, but, I understand that this is now the case, unfortunate as this may be. But Christmas starting before Halloween??

(Duane Reade, 460 8th Ave -- 10/30/06)

no no no.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Not to be over-optimistic, but...

Sunday's Post features a run-down on the latest on the Senate and paints a surprisingly optimistic picture for the Dems.
"The Democrats are going to gain somewhere between four and seven seats," said Stuart Rothenberg, author of an independent newsletter that tracks campaigns nationwide. Of the battlegrounds of Tennessee, Virginia and Missouri, he said, "They need two of the three, and they have a pretty good chance" of winning them.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Feingold rules. again.

On Tuesday morning Bush finally got around to signing the military commissions act, the thing congress passed a couple weeks ago or so that lets the U.S. commit torture and hold almost whoever it wants, etc. The administration had said it was urgent to pass it, but then they waited a while till the bad news around the Woodward book cleared up to have a fresh day to do a nice signing ceremony. Urgent, shmurgent.

Most Democrats were silent. But Feingold released a good statement, concluding that "We will look back on this day as a stain on our nation's history."

Dodd also released a critical statement. Clinton, Biden and Kerry said the right thing at the time of the vote, but didn't push it any further now.

Friday, October 13, 2006

You bet

Regular readers of bsom may know that I'm in to looking at futures markets (betting) as a way to predict the, uh, future. That didn't turn out so well for the football playoffs, but whatever. We've got an election coming up, and academic studies have shown that the futures markets do a pretty good job predicting outcomes -- they generally do better than polls in the months before an election (in the very final days before an election, the polls become about as accurate as the betters).

On Tradesports.com, the Republicans currently have a 39% chance of retaining a majority in the House, and a 74% change of retaining the Senate.

The bets on the Iowa Electronic Markets are vaguely similar, with the GOP having a 42% change of retaining the House and about a 71% change of holding the Senate.

Here are the IEM links for the House and Senate betting history, continually updated. The blue line is the chance that the Dems win; the Green and Red lines, when added together, are the chance that the Republicans win.

Oh, BTW, don't forget to vote. Especially if you live in a more interesting state than this one.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Minutemen, Columbians and free speech?

So for those missing the hoopla here in NYC, on October 4th, the head of the Minuteman Project was speaking at Columbia when demonstrators stormed the stage. To put it safely, conflict ensued, and the event ended. Free speech stifled??? Liberal wackos?? FOX et al have been playing it big, and Columbia is finding itself in a bad PR scene once again.

It all raises interesting questions about the limits of free speech. Do the Minuteman go into the realm of 'hate speech' -- whatever that means? Is there a point where one has the 'right' to try to shut speech down? And tactically, is shutting down speech a good idea?

How, practically, can we stop this idea that people in power need to have their speech 'defended', just as people not in power actually do need to have their speech defended?

And does that really apply here? The Minuteman Group gets plenty of play in the U.S. They have disproportionate power given their numbers, certainly, but still, the world is rather far from what they'd want it to be.

President Bollinger's statement lays out the argument that free speech is paramount and shouldn't be shut down.

The demonstrators -- led by the Chicano Caucus at Columbia -- have taken a bit of an odd stance. While fiercely criticizing Minuteman (saying it is hate speech, that they shouldn't have been allowed on campus and that it must be confronted forcefully, etc), they simultaneously are trying to maintain that their intention was not to shut the speech down. This is what Monique Dols implies in the NYT piece, and also what Karina Garcia says in the Democracy Now inerview:
"We never asked for the university or for anybody, for that matter, to ban this man from speaking."

So basically they wanted to disrupt the speech, but did not intend to block it, and insist that Gilchrist, the Minuteman guy, could have kept going. Mmm, okay. But that's a pretty tricky line to credibly argue.

For what it's worth, here are the videos:

Last but not least, does anyone really spell 'protestor' this way???

Friday, October 06, 2006

yo, chill out!

BOCA really needs to get over itself..

Sunday, October 01, 2006

wooo torture

Oy. If you're familiar with what congress passed last week with that detainne treatment / military tribunals bill, take a swing through the NYT editorial, which outlined what the law does.

They conclude that it's "a tyrannical law that will be ranked with the low points in American democracy, our generation’s version of the Alien and Sedition Acts."

Here's the roll call.

One Republican (Chafee) voted no, and 12 Democrats voted yes. It was generally some of the usual suspects, but included Lautenberg, Menendez and Stabenow. Clinton, Biden and Schumer all voted the right way...

And lastly, on a lighter note, Art Buchwald's essay on spinach as torture.