Okay, so I knew one half of story about the Laffey-Chafee (mmm, sounds like candy!) primary in Rhode Island: That in a near-perfect mirror image of the Lieberman-Lamont Democratic primary next door, a moderate incumbent is being targeted (and probably successfully) by an opponent on his less-moderate flank. But what I did not know was that the Republican senatorial re-election committee also decided to throw their full support behind the incumbent, despite his imperfect loyalty to their cause:
The National Republican Senatorial Committee has pumped an astonishing $536,420.41 into the Rhode Island Senate race to date this year in an effort to rescue GOP Senator Lincoln Chafee from conservative primary challenger Steve Laffey. You can find the figure in the NRSC’s filing today with the Federal Election Commission. And yet, as we reported below, Laffey is crushing Chafee in the latest poll. Yep, the NRSC is sinking huge sums of cash into a primary which they’d of course rather spend in GOP-versus-Dem races. But even those huge sums aren’t working.
Despite these similarities, I can think of at least four significant differences between the two New England primaries – five if you count the enormous amount of money the Republicans spent to prop up Chafee (I’m pretty sure the DSCC didn’t give Lieberman anywhere near that kind of money, but I couldn’t find a dollar total on Google):
1) The challenger is being backed principally by the Club For Growth, an ultraconservative organization, rather than by netroots/grassroots/those venomous rabid crazy bloggers. In other words, he’s not exactly “people-powered.”
2) The other party has a viable candidate and a home-field advantage in the state, so there is a much higher probability of losing the seat outright.
3) The incumbent has not pledged to ignore the will of the primary voters.
4) The media doesn’t care. No-one is wringing their hands over the Republican party’s destructive jihad against ideological impurity. No-one even seems to be reporting on it.
To me, the first three (or four, if you count the NRSC funding) make the fourth (or fifth) ever so much worse. The incumbent is not thumbing his nose at the voters, while the challenger does not reflect a popular movement, is jeopardizing his party’s Senate majority, and is wasting a whole bunch of their money as they attempt to beat him back. His challenge is far more damaging, and has far less legitimacy (by the pro-Lieberman hand-wringers’ standards) than Lamont’s, and yet no-one seems to mind.
So… the Republican-dominated punditocracy, whose presumed goal is to advance the fortunes of the Republican party, are outraged by Lamont’s challenge and not Laffey’s. I can only conclude that they believe such challenges against moderates are healthy and beneficial for the party involved.
Which kinda worries me, because, well, they’re always wrong.
Huzzah! Hello/BloggerBot is finally working again, so I can upload photos quickly and easily. Which I will now proceed to do.
Wedding photos in Balboa Park. I like how the reflector thingy looks like it has legs, and how the bride and groom are kind of limned in light. (When was the last time I used the word “limned”, I wonder…)
A church in La Jolla.
More fun with fern fronds.
Superman on his, um, Minaret Of Solitude at the Model Train Museum.
The railroads have been around for a very long time…
(Note the wee man tied to the stegosaurus’s tail for no apparent reason)
7 commentsAugust 31st, 2006 at 01:22amPosted by Eli
Only 12 players today, so we ended up playing some kind of bizarro game with three four-person teams rotating through Infield, Outfield, and Batting. I went an incestuous 4-for-5 with a double, 2 runs, and 2 RBI. Through the miracle of ghost runners, I actually drove myself in from third base twice…
Not much action in the outfield, but I handled what I got, which was basically a mile-high fly ball, and cutting off a a sharp hit down the line to hold it to a single. I botched a couple of grounders in the infield, but that’s to be expected.
For years, the United States military has been exploring various ways of improving its arsenal. Only recently, however, did Weekly World News learn exclusively of the existence of a top-secret branch called the Magic Militia.
“We seek out materials and weapons with supernatural properties that can give us an edge,” said Sgt. Frank Wand.
In July, the Magic Militia managed to collect a potentially invaluable tool that would dramatically increase the military’s offensive power….
“We’ve obtained a small amount of pixie dust,” confided Sergeant Wand. “I can’t tell you the precise location from which it was recovered. Suffice to say we flew our choppers toward the second star on the right and then straight on till morning. We took some casualties from pirates, but the pixie herself was dispatched with a carefully hidden bomb.”
…Dr. Al Chemy first tested the dust on lab mice. After he sprinkled a small amount on the rodents they began to bounce all over their cages — the sides and the top.
“They also sneezed a lot,” he said. “The mice were able to defy gravity,” Dr. Chemy went on. “If we can duplicate this powder we could overcome all kinds of limitations on the battlefield. Tanks could sail over obstacles too difficult to drive across. Jeeps wouldn’t have to worry about getting sand in the engine when crossing desert terrain. Swampland and jungles would no longer be an impasse.”
But the dust is considered to be most valuable to the infantry.
“Imagine thousands of troops soaring through the skies just by ‘wishing it,’ ” said Sergeant Wand. “Flying soldiers would have an incredible tactical advantage before and during combat operations.”
Unfortunately, scientists have not yet succeeded in replicating the small amount of pixie dust they’ve obtained.
“We made a prototype powder which permits flight but not control,” said Dr. Chemy. “It seems there’s a component to pixie dust which allows the flyer to will himself to move in one direction or another. In fact, just getting the volunteers down has proved to be quite a problem. We’ve had to use butterfly nets and bolos, which are very undignified.”
While the pixie dust is being prepped, the Magic Militia is also searching for a crystal ball.
“It would save a lot of American lives if we could spot the enemy in their lair and take them out,” said Ward. “While we’ve been over the rainbow and back, we’ve had no luck so far.”
There’s really a lot to dislike about Rumsfeld’s attack on those who think that, y’know, maybe invading a country for no reason and with no plan was a bad idea, but this one little morsel just jumped right out at me and won’t let go:
[Rumsfeld added] that part of the problem is that the American news media have tended to emphasize the negative rather than the positive.
He said, for example, that more media attention was given to U.S. soldiers’ abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib than to the fact that Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith received the Medal of Honor.
He did acknowledge that the U.S. military has its own ”bad actors — the ones who dominate the headlines today — who don’t live up to the standards of the oath and of our country.” But he added that they are a small percentage of the hundreds of thousands of troops who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Arrrgh. That part I bolded is just insane. Please explain to me how one soldier getting the Medal of Honor is a bigger story than a whole bunch of soldiers colluding to torture and humiliate Iraqi prisoners?
Just how much coverage can you give a Medal of Honor story? It is by its nature very limited in scope, with no conspiracy or chain of command to unravel, no legal repercussions to address, no ethical dimensions to analyze. “Sgt. Smith performed this act of heroism and got a medal, The End.” I don’t mean to denigrate Sgt. Smith’s service, I’m just trying to point out that it’s a pretty simple, straightforward formula.
As for that last paragraph, well, the bad actors in any group will always dominate the headlines. I never hear Rummy complaining about how the media never talks about all the good Muslims (aside from the administration’s pets in Iraq and Afghanistan, of course). What’s significant is what those in charge do about their own bad actors, and in BushCo’s case, the answer is as little as possible. They refuse to take any responsibility for enabling them, failing to hold them accountable, or lowering Army standards to the point where they’re actively recruiting them.
Remember, for the Republicans, failure and criminality are never the problem; reporting on failure and criminality is. And you know what? Rummy and Bushie are getting off easy.
3 commentsAugust 29th, 2006 at 07:46pmPosted by Eli
It’s actually a pretty interesting story about the finer points of improving the astronauts’ culinary experience. Emeril even gets into the act, although “Bam!” is probably just about the last thing you want to hear when you’re in outer space.
Commissioner Gordon, Batman’s lone friend on the Gotham police force, never had it so good. The Port-O-Rotary, which comes in red or black, holds a secret – and no, it does not turn on a signal in the Batcave. It’s an old desk phone that has been rewired to work as a cellphone, keeping the loud, clanging ringer.
The Port-O-Rotary, from Spark Fun Electronics, works with most G.S.M. networks, including those of T-Mobile and Cingular….
The Port-O-Rotary weighs about two pounds and is available online only at www.sparkfun.com, where its creators have posted a play-by-play on how they morphed a 50-year-old phone model into a wireless wonder.
Okay, so it weighs two pounds and costs $400-500, but think how cool it would be to plunk down a clunky old-school phone wherever you are, and have it actually work.
No word on whether there’s a belt clip for it yet…
2 commentsAugust 28th, 2006 at 12:29pmPosted by Eli
MODERN medicine embraces many forms of therapy, from acupuncture and herbal treatments to visiting-dog services and swimming with dolphins. But when a head-on crash in 1978 nearly ended his life, Ralph Marano found his own alternative for persevering through a lengthy recovery: a 1937 Packard.
Weeks before his accident, in which a speeding drunken driver smashed into his Dodge Challenger, Mr. Marano had placed a deposit on a Packard 120 coupe, a gleaming black beauty with a silver stripe down its side. “It had all the gingerbread – eight cylinders, extended rear trunk and rack, dual sidemounts and a ‘flying goddess’ hood ornament,” he said.
That Packard 120 would be the start of a collection that now includes 33 Packards, including treasures like design studies that the company had built for the auto show circuit and rare models with custom bodies by the coachbuilder Darrin.
I’m more of a Cord/Duesenberg guy, but I still like Packards, and 30s cars in general.
Astronomers made the decision at their version of the winter meetings, the International Astronomical Union in Prague. The news was announced to inhabitants of our own planet on Thursday, possibly the biggest news story in our lives (think about it) but a crushing blow to the hopes and dreams of the little guy.
Pluto is now officially a “dwarf planet”…. Relatively speaking, it only had a cup of coffee in the big leagues. It was discovered in 1930 by a birds-eye scout named Clyde Tombaugh. But Pluto had its chances, coming back year after year just like a Major League Baseball season.
It could never be Mercury, leading off and constantly hot. Venus was all about love and self-sacrifice, a natural 2 spot in the order. Earth, the prototypical No. 3 hitter, the ultimate fantasy pick, the people’s choice. Mars, the oft-feared big red machine. Jupiter always had the sweet spot in the lineup. Having Saturn in the order always meant a ring. Uranus, always the team prankster and playing jokes to keep it fun.
Year after year, Pluto tried to leap past Neptune at the end of the order. Because of its eccentric orbit, Pluto actually was able to reach closer to the sun than Neptune during a portion of its orbit. But again and again, Neptune, the savvy veteran (discovered in 1846), would deny the kid. Pluto never really had a legitimate chance.
Pluto, it’s been nice knowing you. The former planet will now hang out with its closest friend, and moon, Charon. They’re sure to forever spin yarns about how Pluto once played in the bigs.
Crikey. Who thought that was a good idea? They called Mars “the big red machine,” fachrissake!
2 commentsAugust 24th, 2006 at 09:47pmPosted by Eli
Because nobody could have predicted it – Joe Lieberman will be campaigning with GOP candidates Jodi Rell and Rob Simmons today at the Groton sub base (the one that Holy Joe claims to have singlehandedly saved). Simmons, you’ll remember, is the GOP candidate running against Democrat Joe Courtney for one of those hotly contested Connecticut House seats. You know, the ones where the Democrat is supposed to be helped by Lieberman’s indy bid, right?
This is completely, utterly unacceptable. This is Joe Lieberman, who claims to be a “petitioning Democrat” (whatever that means), actively campaigning against a Democratic majority. This goes waaaay beyond “bipartisanship” or “centrism” or any of those other cute little DLC codewords for kicking the ball into your own net.
Joe has made it crystal clear where his allegiance lies, just as Zell Miller did when he delivered the keystone address at the 2004 Republican convention. He is all but daring Harry Reid to strip him of his seniority, and all but daring Chuck Schumer and other prominent Democrats to actively campaign against him.
I really, really do not know what they’re waiting for. Is Rahm Emanuel on the phone screaming at Schumer and Reid, or is he shaking his head, chuckling ruefully and saying, “Oh, that Joe – what a scamp! Who knows what wacky idea he’ll come up with next?” Someone needs to deliver a figurative horse’s head to Joe’s figurative bed, and soon.
5 commentsAugust 24th, 2006 at 01:35pmPosted by Eli
Well, I have some time to kill before the vendor treats my peers and I to dinner, and the Blogger image upload tool appears to be working, so here are some more shots from my big fat California vacation:
HOUSTON, Tex. — NASA officials were embarrassed this week to announce the Space Station is infested with mice.
Project Manager Terry Duckworth told Weekly World News, “The female mice escaped from one of our onboard experiments and the male mice came up on a Russian supply ship, hidden in the cargo hold. Now we have a big predicament — what we call UMP, or Unauthorized Mice Pairing. You might say, ‘Houston we have a pest problem.’ But I won’t.”
The mice have chewed through wires and insulation, and the patter of their feet has disturbed astronauts as they’ve slept.
For NASA, the solution was refreshingly lowcost. He may look like an ordinary housecat, but Charlie carries the fate of the multibillion dollar project on his tiny shoulders. “Charlie is my Aunt Ethel’s cat and he’s a great mouser,” said Duckworth.
NASA has developed and manufactured a specially designed space cat suit for Charlie’s imminent launch. He will be hoisted spaceward as soon as the shuttle returns to service.
“You might say we’re hoping this will ‘Kill the UMP,'” Duckworth said. “But I won’t.”
Have I mentioned lately that these people are my heroes?
3 commentsAugust 23rd, 2006 at 12:02amPosted by Eli
Well, I tried to post some more vacation photos, but now I can’t even get the Blogger image upload tool to work. So, for the five of you who have not seen this already, a more aesthetic (and equally informative) alternative to the standard Windows error messages…
7 commentsAugust 22nd, 2006 at 02:48pmPosted by Eli
Across the United States, from New York City, to Portland, Oregon, the pirate movement has spawned pirate bars, social circles, bands, festivals, magazines and apparel.
Devotees are attracted by pirate fashions, the spirit of rowdiness and the opportunity to engage in anti-establishment behavior. It’s unclear where it began, but pirates are clearly in vogue.
“Pirates have always been cool,” said Raja Azar, 26…. “You can project more with pirates, more so than with robots or ninjas,” he said, wearing a striped tank top, black studded pants and boots with bare feet as he stood aboard a boat before the gig.
Okay, back to the vacation photos. Today’s theme is… Birdies!
This was terribly overexposed, and when I tried to pull the brightness back down I thought it actually looked kinda cool.
If you want to see what a pelican in flight really looks like…
Just chillin’. No big whoop.
In Soviet Russia, birdie watches you!
Did anyone ever have an easier gig than Yakov Smirnoff? I mean, how hard could that schtick be? I wonder if he was like the Russian Jerry Seinfeld before he defected? “And what is with all these tractor quotas? Don’t we have enough tractors already?”
Or maybe he was the Russian Gallagher, and he defected because beets and potatoes spatter so poorly…
2 commentsAugust 20th, 2006 at 09:04pmPosted by Eli
Well, the hot streak finally came to an end. Not a terrible day at the plate, though: 5-for-9 with a double, 2 runs, and an RBI. Didn’t get a whole lot of action in left field, unless you count watching home runs sail over my head…
In case anyone’s wondering why I haven’t posted many vacation photos, my preferred upload tool (Hello/BloggerBot) is hosed, and I really don’t like Blogger’s Upload Image tool, because it makes resized images look like total crap. But since the last time BloggerBot broke, it stayed broken for weeks, I guess I have to live with it.
I recommend clicking on the pictures for full-size versions that don’t look like total crap.
Today’s installment is from some botanical gardens at Balboa Park in San Diego:
Consider the lily.
Or, if you’re not quite up to that, consider the lily pads.
I’m pretty sure this is what Alien Space Potatoes look like.
Oh, I’m being followed by a fern shadow…
Fern shadow, fern shadow…
9 commentsAugust 19th, 2006 at 07:59pmPosted by Eli