Friday, October 28, 2005

An Explanation for George's Policies

From the BBC:
Chimps fall down on friendship
Captive chimpanzees fail to help others in their social group, even when it causes no inconvenience, a behavioural study in Nature journal has found ... Humanlike attributes shown by chimps include tool use and maybe rudimentary language skills, but this study suggests altruism is not among them.
But other researchers said that captive chimps may be less socially inclined. A team led by Joan Silk of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), set captive chimpanzees tests in which they obtained a food reward.
The chimps were presented with two reward options. One option allowed a chimp only to serve itself with food. The other secured the same reward, but also delivered food to another chimpanzee in an enclosure next door.
Dr Silk's team found the 29 chimps tested in the study were no more likely to pick the second option than the first, even though it allowed them to do a "good deed" at no cost to themselves.


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A Richness of Embarrassments

The tale of Harriet Miers and George W. Bush just gets more and more entertaining. Today came the revelation of admiring notes written by Ms. Miers to that dashing devil W. The content makes it clear that Ms. Miers has what amounts to a schoolgirl crush on the president.
The New York Times reports that Ms. Miers comments included patently absurb statements such as, "You are the best governor ever," and "Hopefully Jenna and Barbara recognize that their parentsare 'cool' -- as do the rest of us," and "The state is in great hands."
All of this sounds like Ms. Miers spent her evenings kissing George's yearbook picture and hoping against hope that he would ditch Laura and ask her to the Homecoming Dance.
It's ugly. And scary. And further proof that this woman does not possess a mind that belongs on the U.S. Supreme Court.
I loved Bill Maher's comment the other night that, "You know her as TV's 'Hazel'," although I was a little dismayed that he wasted five minutes agreeing with Ann Coulter on the subject of Ms. Miers' lack of qualifications.
The worst thing about that segment was that I had to recognize that the ghoulish coke-whore Ms. Coulter made one good point: She conceded that Ms. Miers is a nominee who would likely vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade, but noted that there are so many other constitutional questions she would be asked to consider that we really do need a constitutional scholar in the job. Not a profound point, but a good, solid one that I would not have expected from Ms. Coulter, despite the fact that she claims to be a lawyer.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

One Pill Makes You Small

Interesting post on Watching the Watchers suggests that one reason people aren't as likely to be outraged by the war today as they were in the 1960s is the prevalence of antidepressants and other mood-altering pharmaceuticals. Harder to be outraged when you're on a drug that prevents you from being enraged at all...

Why Not The Worst? Part III

Here's what Dan Coats, the former Republican Senator tasked with ensuring Harriet Miers' ascendency to the Supreme Court, had to say about her to CNN (as quoted in The New York Times this morning):
If great intellectual powerhouse is a qualification to be3 a member of the court and represent the American people and the wishes of the American people and to interpret the Constitution, then I think we have a court so skewed on the intellectual side that we may not be getting representation of America as a whole.

Whew. Is this man really promoting the idea that we should be ruled by the stupid?
While I find this comment hilarious, I also am frightened by it. Are there really people who do not understand that when it comes to interpreting the Constitution, we need the best, brightest, most experienced legal minds our nation can produce?
Do people really not understand that elevating stupidity -- or even ignorance and inexperience -- puts all of us in danger (what have they been doing for the past five years?)
If we want stupid judges, shouldn't we also demand stupid doctors, stupid accountants, stupid architects, stupid engineers? After all, it seems that the goal of people like Mr. Coats is to have the halls of justice come crashing down on our heads. When that happens we would want bad doctors to botch our emergency care so that we could go to court represented by a stupid lawyer for a damage settlement that would then be lost to arithmetic errors made by an accountant who can't count.

Why Not The Worst? Part II

If Bush's recent female appointees are "work mommies," his male appointees throughout his 5 years in office have mostly been in the mold of fraternity brothers.
The latest frat bro to hit the headlines is Timothy Flanigan, who withdrew his nomination as Deputy Attorney General on Friday because of growing questions about his relationship with indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Preznit Bush's All-Fun DC Fraternity seems to consist largely of the circle of friends around Abramoff and Grover Norquist. Alberto Gonzales is in there, along with Mike Brown, Mike Chertoff and a whole band of other nincompoops that Bush has elevated to cushy, highly paid positions designed to keep them off the welfare rolls for another three years -- except that his strategy seems to be falling apart.
Work mommies and Frat boys. What's the connection? Many would say it's a simple matter of surrounding himself with sycophants. I think there's another explanation: Bush wants to be surrounded by people willing to take a paddle to his presidential butt.

Friday, October 07, 2005

A New Fed Chief? Why Not The Worst?

So today we hear that Bush is "close" to announcing a new chairman of the Federal Reserve, to replce Alan Greenspan. Well, W has had an extraordinary record recently in naming nanny-ish women to top jobs -- the bovine Karen Hughes insulting Middle Eastern women at State, Harriet Miers poised to wear her choir robes to Supreme Court hearings. Now he has a chance to name a new chairman of the Federal Reserve.
While the effort to promote women into important leadership roles in government is generally to be applauded (and I will clap my hands raw when Hillary becomes president), Bush has made a mockery of the idea. If Condi Rice is Bush's "work wife" as has been said, Hughes and Miers are more in the mold of "work mommies," fiercely loyal yet hectoring substitutes for Big Babs.
I recommend he continue the trend. We need a "mommy" to oversee the Fed. My choice: Jean Stapleton, formerly Edith Bunker of "All In The Family." She carries a big purse, knows a lot about money from balancing the family budget, and managed to make ends meet on her husband's blue-collar salary in pricey New York City. And hey, the New York aspect of it should make her a shoo-in for Blue-Staters.