Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Coral Calcium Update

A while back, I commented on an amusing informercial in which the makers of “Coral Calcium” made this claim:

“DNA can’t work unless it’s smothered in calcium”.

Turns out, the FTC was reading Angry Bear:

The Federal Trade Commission is asking a U.S. court in Chicago to shut down an operation that sells Coral Calcium Supreme, a product advertised with one of the most widely run infomercials on cable television this year…”The danger here is using an ineffective treatment for a really serious condition. Calcium is good stuff; it builds strong bones, but it doesn’t cure cancer.”

Ok, maybe they noticed this somewhere other than Angry Bear.


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Pathetic Democrats

Previously, I speculated that the Republicans were adding an exta layer to the tax cuts by excluding the lower middle class. I wrote that “I figured the plan was to hit the $350 target, via the chicanery of sunsets, exclude popular taxes, and then force the Democrats and moderate Republicans to insist on inserting more tax cuts.” To his credit, I suppose, Tom DeLay is opposing anything for the lower middle class.


UPDATE: Max has more.

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More on Polls

Today, I received a “poll” from the Interfaith Alliance, an association that promotes the worthy goals of religious diversity and tolerance. The cover letter leads off with quotes from Jerry Falwell (blaming “the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians” for 9/11) and Pat Robertson (on the necessity for women to subjugate themselves upon marriage), and then asks me to complete a poll and give them money. Like the GOP poll, the penultimate question even asks me, should I elect not to give, to submit $10 to cover the cost of processing and tabulating the survey. But at least there is not a box saying “No, I favor restarting the Crusades”.

In another mailing, Bill Clinton sends me his regards, writing inter alia

Whatever qualms you might have about how strongly Democrats stand on this issue or that one pale in comparison to the across-the-board damage four more years of right wing Republican policies would do to everything we believe in.


Maybe you’re not sure we can win. That was the conventional wisdom when I took on a President named George Bush…[we won and] our 1992 campaign helped launch an era of Democratic leadership and Democratic values in the White House.

Clinton then asks me to give to the Democratic Party’s “Victory in 2004” campaign, which I will probably do. You can do the same here. This makes me realize another problem with the Republican ascendancy: it’s costing me money. Sure, I’m saving a lot in taxes, but I’m giving a lot more to political causes than I otherwise would, which probably explains the ever-increasing number of solicitations I receive.


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More on the Poll

I mentioned before that I am apparently listed somewhere as a Republican, causing GOP Chairman Marc Racicot to send me a letter. I asked my readers if I should fill it out with far-right (to pull the GOP further from the center) or far-left answers (to confuse them). Upon reflection and inspection, I don’t think it matters. The “poll” does not have many questions that the GOP doesn’t already know the answers that registered Republicans will give.

Instead, the poll seems designed to make people think these are potential issues to the GOP, drumming up a little bit of fear–fear that the Republicans will move left, but more importantly, fear that the things that the Democrats would implement the policies that the pollees clearly oppose. This fear likely encourages the polled Republicans to send the poll back to the GOP, which I suspect dramatically increases the odds of the pollee sending a check at the same time. Rather clever, actually.

Here are some examples, with a little Fisking (full poll here):

1.1. Do you support President Bush’s initiatives to promote the safety and security of all Americans?
No, I’m sure 95% of Republicans polled are, like me, solidly against promoting safety or security, much less both.

2.3 Should small businesses be encouraged to grow and hire more workers?
No, this should be opposed at all costs.

3.1 Do you support President Bush’s plan to make our schools more accountable to parents and to restore local control of education?
Schools accountable to parents? Nonsense!

3.2 Should students, teachers, principals and administrators be held to higher standards?
No, standards must be reduced as far as possible.

3.3 Do you agree that teaching our children to read and increasing literacy rates should be a national priority?
No, if they can read, they’ll get an education and then be much more likely to vote Democratic.

5.1 Do you think U.S. troops should have to serve under United Nations’ commanders?
Yes, this will lead directly to a One World Government, hastening the Apocalypse, and then the Rapture.

5.2 Do you think that the U.S. should modernize our national defense to meet the challenges of the 21st century?
No. Our air power is overused, we need more trench warfare.

6.1 Do you support the election of Republican candidates across the country and rebuilding our majorities over the next ten years?
I think this is the definition of a Republican.

And now for my favorite part of the poll:

6.3 Will you join the Republican National Committee by making a contribution today?

Yes, I support the RNC and am enclosing my most generious contribution of: $______

Yes, I support the RNC, but I am unable to participate at this time. However, I have enclosed $11 to cover the cost of tabulating my survey.

No, I favor electing liberal Democrats over the next ten years.

That’s a nice dichotomy: give money now or you’re in favor of electing liberal Democrats. It needs a nice picture juxtaposing Tom Daschle and Saddam Hussein, though.


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Grover Norquist

There’s a pretty interesting piece in today’s Chicago Tribune, Pipeline leads to White House, that centers on Grover Norquist’s weekly meetings with conservative leaders and the interaction between Norquist’s group and the White House. Norquist, as you may recall, recently said “Bipartisanship is another name for date rape”. By that I suppose he meant that there’s no point trying to act nice (the date) with Democrats when you’ve got something else entirely in mind. Here are a few highlights from the piece:

  • “Senior presidential adviser Karl Rove, who is in regular contact with Norquist, always sends an emissary and sometimes personally attends the weekly meetings. George W. Bush sent a representative for a full year before he even announced he was running for president.”
  • “Norquist began pushing for Congress to pass annual tax cuts well before the White House said it would press Congress to do the same thing.”
  • “‘The goal is to reduce the size and scope of government in half over the next 25 years’, Norquist said.”
  • “Among Norquist’s goals is placing former President Ronald Reagan’s name on buildings across the country.” [Note: oddly enough, presumably financed with tax money.]
  • “…the White House asked Norquist for help in pushing Congress to confirm judicial nominee Miguel Estrada. Norquist used his national network of contacts to successfully push 10 state legislatures to pass resolutions calling for the nominee’s confirmation.”
  • “Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy and a Pentagon official in the Reagan administration, raised concerns in a speech about anti-American Muslim groups penetrating the White House…Norquist responded by sending Gaffney a letter denouncing him and demanding he apologize to the president and his staffers. He also banished Gaffney from the Wednesday meetings, which Gaffney had attended for the last five years.”

That last one is to Norquist’s credit. I don’t have any particular problem with the Republicans having meetings like this and attempting to influence policy, as there seems to be a lot of transparency. I just wish they weren’t so good at it.


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Happy 49th, No Sense of Decency!

From the NYT, today is the 49th anniversary of the beginning of the end for Sen. McCarthy, which started with Army counsel Joseph N. Welch confronted Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy during the Senate-Army Hearings over McCarthy’s attack on a member of Welch’s law firm, Frederick G. Fisher. Said Welch to McCarthy,

“Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”


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Al, Bill, and Molly

I finally watched the CSPAN coverage of the book expo featuring Franken, O’Reilly, and Ivins, and I can genuinely say that the reports of its high entertainment value are not exaggerations. Franken did go long, but as he put it in response to O’Reilly’s complaining, “I went long because I was getting some laughs” (he was). Sans producer and mute button, O’Reilly’s level of discourse devolved to “Shut up! Just shut up!”, “This guy’s an idiot”, and “we can have a bagel”. I guess that if Franken were from Mexico or parts south, O’Reilly would have invited him over to swim a river. Or perhaps if Franken were black, O’Reilly would have invited him over to steal some hubcaps. The acrimony was actually greater than I anticipated. Franken was also great in a digression on Ann Coulter.

More substantively, Franken and Ivins are both really entertaining and I think either one could draw a nice talk radio audience, because they combine insight with humor. I wouldn’t want them making policy; both a bit too left and too anti-corporate for me. But neither one is “out there”, either. They would be great for exciting the proverbial base, yet entertaining enough to draw from outside the NPR audience.


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New Links

I’m discovering some pretty neat tools in my effort to gizmo up the blog. First, given that maps of blogs are popular lately, take a look at who is in my blog neighborhood. Continuing with the theme of me being a Republican, InstaPundit is one of my nearest neighbors! The others are all fairly reasonable: Talking Points Memo, MaxSpeaks, Rittenhouse, Eschaton, and a few I haven’t seen but plan to take a look at. On balance, I’m keeping pretty good company, although CalPundit, Yglesias, Barlow, and a some other bloggers who I’d gladly have a beer with are not in my blog-neighborhood.

Also, I found a few glaring ommissions in my blogroll. Please welcome the following additions:

Body and Soul
Nathan Newman
Neal Pollack
Skippy the Bush Kangaroo
South Knox Bubba
Thinking It Through


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