I think there is definitely room for a third-party candidacy in 2008, but I don’t think Bloomy is the right guy to fill that void. Any successful independent candidate needs to appeal to those disaffected voters whose views are generally to the right or center-right on fiscal issues but center-left on social issues: i.e., generally small-government, federalist/libertarian-ish folks. Those voters, on both sides of the aisle, are the ones who feel the most alienated by the two parties right now, IMHO. And I think most of them will react to Bloomberg the same way Glenn Reynolds does: “I’d like to see a third-party candidate, but I’d like one who stands for more freedom, not less, and the nannyish Lee Kuan Yew-wannabe Bloomberg clearly doesn’t fit that description.”
Maybe Bloomberg can position himself as a staunch states-rights (and cities-rights) guy, arguing that our federalist system leaves plenty of room for both types of state and local officials: the ones who are nannyish, and the ones who are more hands-off. In other words, maybe he can take the edge off his history of nannyism by convincing people that although he was a nannyish mayor, he wouldn’t be a nannyish president because he respects federalism. But I doubt that would work, even if it’s true (which I have no reason to believe it is).
P.S. Admittedly, maybe the reason I think an independent candidate needs to appeal to the demographic I described is because I’m a member of that demographic. :) But I don’t think so. I think that loosely described group — which is also mostly hawkish and generally tough on immigration — is the most susceptible of any large ideological group (other than the far left- and right-wing fringes, who aren’t large enough by themselves to support a serious, non-Nader/Buchanan-ish third-party candidacy) to the siren song of an independent candidate. I mean, what’s the alternative, really? If Bloomberg runs as liberal on social issues and nannyish on economic/regulatory issues, doesn’t that make him… a Democrat?
Glenn Reynolds has been blogging today about Comcast and their general suckitude. He calls the company’s representatives “rude and inept,” which pretty well sums up my encounters with them as well. I’ve held off till now from blogging about my own recent craptastic experiences with Comcast, for fear of letting the blog get too mired in my petty complaints about miscellaneous companies. (I’ve been dealing extensively with customer-service frustration on many fronts recently: Comcast, Apple, my insurance company, and more.) But since it seems to be a hot topic… in the past month, various Comcast employees have, in no particular order:
1) Told me that my standard-issue D-Link cable modem, which I bought at a Best Buy or some such retail giant, wouldn’t work because it’s an “Indiana modem”;
2) Forced me to drive all the way to their office to return an unnecessarily rented modem once I quickly ascertained, after the installation guy left, that my modem did indeed work fine;
3) Tried to overcharge me for installation, in direct contradiction of what the Comcast website said installation would cost;
4) Refused to fix the overcharge by phone, forcing me to (again) drive all the way to their office, with printed screenshots in hand, to prove to them what’s on their own website;
5) Told me that my high-speed Internet service was set up properly when, as a phone technician later acknowledged, there was an “obvious” error preventing it from working;
6) Failed to notice, despite available evidence, that the wiring in back of our apartment building was mislabeled, such that “our” cable input really wasn’t ours at all. This resulted in considerable confusion, whereby the technicians would look at their readouts and declare that our signal was strong enough, while ongoing experience with the TV and cable modem showed that it was clearly not strong enough. The whole thing took weeks to sleuth out, when it should have taken mere minutes, if only the installation guy had been competent.
Speaking of which, 7) the installation guy, after completing his work, handed me his phone so that his supervisor could ask if I was satisfied with his work — while he was standing right there! Now there’s an effective employee-evaluation tool! No chance of biased answers at all! Coming soon: Gallup hires Barack Obama to personally call you and ask who you’ll be voting for.
Oh yeah, and 8) even to this day, after two visits from techs, numerous phone calls, and a whole lot of independent effort on my part, the digital cable signal still isn’t working properly. Long story, not worth explaining in detail here, but basically, although we can watch TV, it’s not working the way it’s supposed to, and our TiVo experience is suffering as a result. I haven’t yet summoned the energy to call Comcast (which is always an adventure) yet again, and try to get it fixed, because frankly I have better things to do with my time than deal with their incompetence. But that doesn’t mean I’m not annoyed about it.
Yesterday afternoon, Jay called to tell me that Tennessee men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl was scheduled to make an appearance at a nearby mall that evening to sign autographs and such. Now, admittedly, I’m a Knoxville newbie, and the UT men are only sixth or seventh, at best, on my list of
bandwagons of the moment favorite teams. But I’ve been a Bruce Pearl fan ever since his “kick Florida’s ass” speech, and my appreciation for his unique style and crazy antics has only grown with time. So, considering the mall is no more than a six- or seven-minute drive from where Becky and I live, I figured, what the heck? As a result, I’ve now met two Knoxville celebrities:
Bruce Pearl is a lot tanner than I am, isn’t he? Not that it takes much…
Anyway, I got a couple of things autographed and had the above picture taken. I also chatted with Coach Pearl briefly, mentioning (among other things) that I was subjected to the “infernal Florida fight song” far too many times at the Midwest Regional, so I’ll be rooting for the Vols especially hard when they play the Gators. (He responded with something noncommittal like “it’s always exciting when we play them.”)
He’s a great promoter for the program. The line wasn’t excessively long — there were maybe 20 people ahead of me when I got there — but it moved quite slowly, which was actually a good thing, in a way (even if it did make me a few minutes late for dinner… sorry, Becky) because it meant he was taking time to talk personally to each person who lined up for an autograph. He came off as very friendly and likeable. If I were a lifelong UT fan, I’d be very happy to have him as my team’s coach. (Of course, it also helps that the Vols have been winning. At one point, some guy walked past the end of the line and remarked, referring to the merchandise that people had bought to be autographed, “You’ll throw it all out if they don’t win 20 games this year.” Heh.)
Anyway, thanks to Jay for the tip. Now the question is, if the opportunity arises to meet Pat Summitt, will I take it? I’d say probably yes, but I’d definitely have to wear a UConn shirt. :)
Brief update to my ongoing PowerBook saga: it turns out Apple’s repair technicians really did need information from me; the woman who told me their request was an error, was herself in error. It only took five days, four phone calls to AppleCare and two trips to the Apple Store to figure this out. :|
Anyway, apparently the information they needed from me was, “Uh, what did you want us to fix again? Your computer’s working fine!” Yeah, it seems my dead laptop magically resurrected itself en route to the repair center, and is now booting up without any difficulty (whereas before, neither I nor the Skeet Ulrich lookalike at the Genius Bar could get it to start up at all). So I guess the “POP!” sound must not have been the motherboard? Or the fried circuits somehow re-aligned themselves and started working again? Or a temporal anomaly in the Devron System has created a collision between time and anti-time, causing time to run backwards and thus fixing my computer? (Sorry, I just watched the Star Trek: TNG series finale on TiVo…)
Anyway, I have a question for our resident techno-geeks. According to the latest person I spoke with at the repair dispatch center, the most recent notation in my file states, “Unit powers on fine and loop AMT.” He didn’t know what “loop AMT” means, and neither do I, so I’m just wondering if anyone here does?
More than half of all
Republicans Americans self identify that they are, indeed, dumb as dirt.
“I did some stupid things. It started with my sense of entitlement, the belief that I deserved whatever came to me, that everything was about me.” –Former Connecticut Governor John G. Rowland, reflecting on the corruption that brought down his administration and sent him to prison, in a lengthy Washington Post article published Sunday. (Hat tip: my dad.)
ABC News reported yesterday that a newly obtained videotape of an Al Qaeda “graduation ceremony” suggests that teams of suicide bombers have been dispatched to the U.S., Canada, England and Germany. But counterterrorism officials say it’s all propaganda:
The U.S. counterterrorism official who spoke with CNN said the tape is “consistent with the more sophisticated propaganda” that these groups have been using, but said it is a “bit of a stretch” to conclude from the tape that people have been sent to carry out attacks.
There is “genuine concern,” the official said, whenever threats are made against the West from that part of the world, however, and the training camps present a “real potential source of operatives.”
Whether the tape’s threats are genuine or mere propaganda, I’m somewhat baffled as to why we haven’t been hit already by suicide bombers. Anyone who thinks it’s because our security measures have made such attacks impossible is kidding themselves — only Al Qaeda’s obsession with “spectacular” attacks stands between us and a wave of suicide bombers blowing up in the streets of American cities. It is simply impossible to prevent all such attacks, and their cumulative effect (even if we managed to thwart, say, 50% of them, which is probably a generous estimate) would be to sow an enormous amount of terror in the populace. As the reaction to the Beltway sniper shootings proved, Americans do not naturally let these things roll off us like Israelis and Brits do; we’re not very good at rationally calculating risks and continuing to live our lives in the face of ongoing danger. I suppose we’d eventually adjust if we had to, but in the mean time, I believe that a string of successful suicide attacks could well nigh paralyze us for a good long while, and lead to all sorts of severe civil-liberties erosions that would make the Patriot Act look like something Thomas Jefferson would have approved of. So I hope this report is indeed mere propaganda, but to be honest, I’m not sure what’s stopping our enemies from making it a reality.
Indiana Unviersity’s head football coach, Terry Hoeppner, died this morning of complications from a brain tumor that he’s been fighting for the last year-and-a-half. He was 59.
Nine firefighters died fighting a fire at a Charleston, South Carolina, furniture store, according to Mayor Joseph Riley.
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