diet coke for breakfast


Friday, August 29, 2003

Posted by Jake
CNN.com - Shiites report top leader among bombing victims - Aug. 29, 2003

This is huge. The last thing we need is a war between Sunnis and Shia. Also, al-Hakim was more of a moderate -- he didn't like us but was willing to cut a deal. No good can come of this.

Matt -- I wouldn't say "no good can come of this." Even the horror of 9/11 had some positive repercussions: the liberations of Afganistan and Iraq. This could help the growing awareness among the people of the middle east that terrorism is a cancer of the region that needs to be excised from within, and not a purely anti-Zionist/anti-American movement that they might otherwise encourage. I agree a war between the sunnis and the shia would be devastating, but it might yet be averted.

Of course its small comfort to the people who died and those who loved them, but we must make do with what life deals.




Posted by Tanstaafl
A raunchy interview bedevils Schwarzenegger / 1977 chat includes blunt talk on drugs, sex

I don't know how to react to this. I never like the "I don't remember giving that interview" response from politicians. It's a "non-denial denial". Who cares if you gave the interview, what people want to know is whether you did the things they say you did. For me, I'd be much happier if he just said, "yeah, I did those things, they were mistakes. I was young and embroiled in a culture in which it wasn't inappropriate conduct. I didn't hurt anyone but myself, but I would tell kids not to do drugs or have promiscuous sex, and I would never do any of those things again."




Posted by Tanstaafl
CNN.com - Authorities to arrest teen in Internet 'Blaster' attack - Aug. 29, 2003

I love it when they catch virus authors. There's a special place in hell reserved for these people.



Thursday, August 28, 2003

Posted by Jake
TCS: Enviro-Sci - Bjorn Lomborg's Groundhog Day:

Whatever happened to Bjorn Lomborg, the Skeptical Environmentalist? Read this.




Posted by Jake
CNN.com - Mississippi covets neighbor's monument - Aug. 28, 2003

Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove volunteered Thursday to join neighboring Alabama in the fight over the Ten Commandments monument by offering to display it in his state's capitol building for a week starting September 7.

Isn't there a commandment about coveting?




Posted by Matthew


Posted by Tanstaafl
CNN.com - Revealed: How RIAA tracks downloaders - Aug. 28, 2003: "Copyright lawyers said it remains unresolved whether consumers can legally download copies of songs on a CD they purchased rather than making digital copies themselves. "

A lot could hinge on resolving this issue.

Matt -- That was the first thing that struck me when I read this article yesterday on another site. I'd wager fair-use rights would support it in a court challenge. Which in turn would cause every RIAA case to be a nightmare. With a large enough circle of friends you could probably borrow enough CDs and purchase the remainder to cover a reasonable sized collection (and thus avoid a costly battle).

Not only that, it would render mute attempts to "break" computer manufacturers into crippling their hardware to prevent ripping which is a tactic currently under consideration. It would mean that you would still only need one guy to figure out how to make it happen, then everyone could "legitimately" dl the goods.



Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Posted by Tanstaafl
CNN.com - Schwarzenegger for president? Not so fast, poll finds - Aug. 27, 2003: "The national poll found that 42 percent of all Americans -- not just Californians -- would vote for Schwarzenegger as governor in their state -- not enough to win but a hefty chunk of votes for a political newcomer. "

Why isn't that enough to win? Gubenatorial contests often have three candidates. If a third-party candidate won 20% (tough, but not out of the realm of possibility considering Jesse Ventura won in Minesota) of the vote and Arnold won 42% as the poll suggests, the there would only be 38% left for his main opponent. Stranger things have happened.




Posted by Tanstaafl
CNN.com - Canada frowns on passport smiles - Aug. 27, 2003

Only the Canadians and the UN would discourage smiling. I guess they aren't interested in the "pursuit of happiness".




Posted by Matthew
Birthday Party Gone Bad

Try explaining this one to your psychiatrist.




Posted by Tanstaafl
CNN.com - Study: Female gamers outnumber boys - Aug. 27, 2003: "Challenging the stereotype that video gaming is the domain of teenage boys, an industry group Tuesday reported that more women over 18 than young boys are playing games and the average age of players has risen to 29. "

How could this be right? I can only think of one girl at school who could have been considered a "gamer". I can think of tons of guys.

Matt -- Its plausible, but I think some more polling needs to be done... I think what they are saying is that the number of girls 18 and older is greater than the number of boys under 18... which seems reasonable since the 18 - 30 demographic is the fast growing among both girls and guys. There were way more girls in my video game character design class than I expected... still outnumbered by the boys of course, but it is growing... hell, the prof was female... Then there is also the "solitaire" factor: Girls play the "desktop time waster games" way more then guys and get very addicted... Even my Mom has to get her FreeCell fix and she just discovered them in the last 6 months.




Posted by RFTR
Yale Strike - FOXNews.com: "Some workers and students had started a picket line Tuesday in front of the school's investment office and yelled slogans such as 'What do we want? Decent pensions! When do we want it? Now!'"

I go to the best school in the world. Just to let you all know, this is the chant they chose, and below is the pension offer made to them, as summarized in an open letter to the Yale Community from Yale President Richard Levin:

Unlike faculty whose contributory pension accounts fluctuate with the stock market, unionized staff members have a "defined benefit" pension plan, wholly funded by the University. This assures them a guaranteed annual pension that is linked to their highest salary in the five years prior to retirement. All staff members also receive Social Security, because Yale and each individual make contributions every pay period. After Yale's increased offer last week, an employee retiring with 30 years of service at age 65 or older will have after-tax retirement income, from the defined benefit plan and Social Security, between 83% and 93% of his or her final after-tax salary.

Altogether, Yale's offer represents a 16% to 20% increase in the multiplier used to calculate the defined benefit pension. When combined with the salary increases we have offered, this means that an employee retiring the day after new contracts take effect would receive a Yale pension that is 23% to 31% larger than it would have been the day before new contracts take effect.

In addition, Yale is offering to keep in place the supplemental voluntary retirement program that it introduced in 1996. In this plan, the University matches the contributions of individuals dollar-for-dollar up to 4% of salary. Employees participating in this plan for thirty years could expect, conservatively, to see an additional after-tax retirement income equal to 15% of final after-tax salary from Yale's contributions alone.


That sounds like a pretty sweet deal, and I think significantly better than just about any other union labor gets.




Posted by Tanstaafl
In Wal-Mart's America (washingtonpost.com): "Indeed, polling has consistently showed that a clear majority of the American people have been dubious about the benefits of free trade -- but these are the only polls that the political elite, so poll-driven on other questions, has consistently ignored."

I always love it when people talk about polls without including numbers or sources. I also would like to know more about his claim that Walmart has intimidated people from unionizing. As for blocking Walmart's expansion, do it with boycotts, not regulation. If people won't buy Walmart's products because of their labor practices, then they'll have to change. Otherwise, you're just depriving Americans of an economic choice, which is rarely a good idea.




Posted by Tanstaafl
A 60-Year Credit Binge (washingtonpost.com): "In 1940 only 44 percent of Americans were homeowners; now homeownership is edging toward 70 percent."

I think that's a pretty great comment on the American dream. The biggest point in this article should be the statistical modeling, coupled with the ability to customize payment terms and interest rates to credit risks. It has allowed lenders and credit card companies to extend credit to people who couldn't have gotten it 30 years ago.




Posted by Tanstaafl
Think Strategy, Not Numbers (washingtonpost.com): "Looking back on America's military defeat in Vietnam, the late CIA director William Colby concluded that the United States had fought the wrong kind of war.

Rather than using special forces and intelligence operations to combat a shadowy enemy, Colby argued, the United States decided to wage 'an American-style military war' with more than 500,000 troops whose job, as the conflict dragged on, increasingly was protecting themselves rather than securing the Vietnamese. "

David Ignatius makes some very good points in this piece from yesterday's WashPost. I've read elsewhere that special forces teams with training geared toward hunting these madmen and terrorists are frustrated that they're not being used to their potential. We don't need more troops there. More troops make more targets. We need to do a better job utilizing the skills of the ones who are there.




Posted by Jake
Political Wire: Dean Fundraising Soars

Howard Dean's campaign said it will likely raise $10.3 million in the current quarter and "plans to match the highest amount ever raised by a Democrat in three months during a year without an election," the New York Times reports. (via Political Wire)

But sadly is not even in the same ballpark as Bush's. Did I tell you I have 20 bucks on him getting the nomination? Somebody's going out drinking on Democratic Primary Day.

James-- Hope you have 3 to 1 odds or better, because you can't go drinking for $20 in the city.



Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Posted by Tanstaafl
Which has more Aspartame, Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi?




Posted by Tanstaafl
Netgear flaw triggers 'accidental' attack | CNET News.com

I own an RP614 and an MR814. I wonder if my hardware contributed to shutting down U. of Wisc's time server.




Posted by Tanstaafl
Zellman v. Simmons-Harris

The Supreme Court has already settled the issue of the Constitutionality of vouchers. My concern is more that people will use the "Separation of Church and State" argument in their debates, not in court.

I disagree completely with the notion that "the authority given, even if by the State Constitution, is what violates the clause..." I would contend that is impossible since the 1st Amendment says, pretty clearly, "Congress shall make no law." Congress did not set up the process for choosing Alabama's judges, Congress did not make a law saying who can decorate the rotunda, and Congress did not write the Alabama State Constitution. If Congress didn't violate the establishment of religion clause, how could anyone have? It doesn't limit anyone else. I'm willing to concede that judicial precedent has come down on Matt's side over the last 40 years. However, that is my primary complaint. The judicial activism was less this one federal judge, and more federal judges over the last half-century. By time the issue was before Scalia and Thomas, the phrase "Congress shall make no law..." was already being ignored, and I think that's a huge problem. The reason that is the VERY FIRST PHRASE in the Bill of Rights is an issue of federalism. The Federal government should be very careful in how it endorses or reacts to religion, mostly so people in different States or regions can make up their own minds. I was watching a repeat of West Wing last night. Toby and Sam were tearing into a prospective Supreme Court nominee over his rejection of the "Right to Privacy". Toby asked if he denied the existance of "Natural Laws". The judge responded that there are "Natural Laws" but that as a Judge, he had no place in enforcing them. I think the separation of powers is more important than the separation of church and state. By failing to preserve the separation of powers, we risk letting one branch of our government trample rights, without a counteracting force by another branch.

Matt -- Yeah the constructionist in me wants to agree with you on that point. For reference sake, which I mentioned earlier, the 14th amendment is what seems to be responsible for all this. It's been decided that the "due process" clause necessitates the entire bill of rights be applied all the way down to the lowliest municipality. In effect, amending the first phrase to "Nobody shall make a law....." This is of course why the 14th amendment is the most probably the most contested of the entire constitution.




Posted by Jake
The Ten Commandments Monument Opinion

I thought it might help to read the opinion issued by the Alabama Supreme Court.

The critical point in this brief is that the monument contradicted the Establishment clause:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment
of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

By their definition a government action violates the Establishment clause if it violates something called the Lemon test:

For a practice to survive an Establishment Clause challenge, it "must have a secular legislative purpose, ... its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion, ... [and it] must not foster 'an excessive government entanglement with religion.'" Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602, 612-13, 91 S. Ct. 2105, 2111 (1971) (citations omitted).

There are some critics of the Lemon test. However, the judges in this case assert that this monument fails even the tests of the critics:

In County of Allegheny v. ACLU, Greater Pittsburgh Chapter, 492 U.S. 573, 109 S. Ct. 3086 (1989), Justice Kennedy, writing for himself and Justices Rehnquist and Scalia, two of Lemon's strongest critics, suggested that religious endorsement was not enough to establish an Establishment Clause violation, that there must be more, such as "proselytization" or "coercion." Id. at 660, 109 S. Ct. at 3136-37 (Kennedy, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part). As he explained, "coercion need not be a direct tax in aid of religion or a test oath. Symbolic recognition of accommodation of religious faith may violate the Clause in an extreme case. I doubt not, for example, that the Clause forbids a city to permit the permanent erection of a large Latin cross on the roof of city hall. This is not because government speech about religion is per se suspect, as the majority would have it, but because such an obtrusive year-round religious display would place the government's weight behind an obvious effort to proselytize on behalf of a particular religion."

Comments:

-- It is still unclear to me how the Establishment clause which particularly specifies Congress would apply to a Judge. In Alabama law, the Chief Justice is empowered to decorate the rotunda of the courthouse as he sees fit. In this capacity is he acting as a judge or in a capacity in addition to his judicial powers?
(Matt -- Doesn't matter what capacity he's acting in. I believe, the authority given, even if by the State Constitution, is what violates the clause... i.e. you can't get around the establishment clause by making a 'secular' law that says, "Bob runs the schools." knowing full well Bob will teach everybody Scientology. Then the law would be in violation. But if Bob just acts secularly, then the law isn't in violation. /Matt)

-- While I agree with James concern about the overextension of this decision to later decisions concerning school vouchers, it would appear at least outwardly that school vouchers would withstand scrutiny. School vouchers towards religious schools could be justified by saying that the primary purpose is secular -- education -- and that no one religion is advanced over the others. I am no constitutional lawyer but that is how it seems to me.

-- I haven't read the entire opinion, but from what I read it seems that what concerned the justices the most was two issues:

1. While American law is clearly based on a religious understanding, it was never suggested that religious law would trump secular law. (Most of the founders thought they would meet their maker, but they never thought their maker would meet them in the public sphere. Remember this was during the Enlightenment.[Matt -- They were mostly what they called "diests". /Matt]) This assertion -- the God's law overrules secular law -- is one the defendant has made repeatedly.

2. They express concern at the enshiring of a Judeo-Christian religion over all the others because they see this monument as essentially the same as placing a cross up in the courthouse.

This is a thorny legal issue (and one I am woefully unqualified to tackle). But I do think that the Justices in this case make some reasonable arguments. I am interested in seeing whether the Supreme Court will take this up.

Matt -- I rather doubt they will... an argument over separation of church and state right now would be of little benefit to anyone (save for that Judge) and might cause issues later... precisely because that debate should be happening, as James pointed out, during the inevitable voucher discussion. That's the debate that has any meaning. I tend to agree with your above statement that vouchers should be able to withstand scrutiny if they are used to meet the clearly secular goal of education. However, a real thorn to think about is that to "guarantee" the achievement of the "secular goal of eductaion" the state would have to specify standardized curricula that schools would have to teach to be eligible. That will really get some panties in a knot. But that's all for a future thread... I can't wait :-)



Monday, August 25, 2003

Posted by Jake
Monument backers go to court

An interesting quote:

At Frazer Memorial United Methodist Church, worshipers said they wanted the Ten Commandments in public life but had reservations about Moore and his handling of the dispute. "It was forced down our throats,” Debbie Stack said of the marker. “This has taken the focus off of God and put it on a man.”




Posted by Jake
Poll: Schwarzenegger Trails in Calif. (washingtonpost.com)

The way the media is talking about this poll, I smell hype. The Weekly Standard has some explanation for why this poll might be questionable.




Posted by Jake


Posted by Jake
Gilligan barred from reporting duties

Andrew Gilligan, the BBC correspondent at the centre of the storm over allegations that the Government 'sexed up' intelligence to make a stronger case for war against Iraq, has been removed from reporting duties...

BBC executives denied that Gilligan's departure from day-to-day reporting on the Radio 4 Today programme was linked to revelations last week that he sent emails to two MPs on the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee suggesting questions they could ask Kelly that would be 'devastating' for the Government.


Tisk, tisk, Gilligan. Planting questions. You are supposed to report the news not make it. Fortunately enough the Hutton inquiry is shedding some much needed light on the BBC.





Posted by Jake
BBC launches public attack on Murdoch 'imperialism'

The controller of BBC1 launched an unprecedented attack on Rupert Murdoch yesterday, calling the media billionaire a 'capital imperialist' who wants to destabilise the corporation because he 'is against everything the BBC stands for'. (via OmbudsGod)

Ouch.




Posted by RFTR
In God I Trust - OpinionJournal Featured Article

Worth reading all the way through. I hadn't really followed the arguments in this case, but as Moore sets his out, I can't see how the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court justified ruling against the monument.

Jake -- Having also not read the decision of the Alabama Supreme Court, I can't really speculate on what they said. However, I will say that I agree with the outcome. The decision to enshire religion, particularly as a monument in the courthouse or any other public area, is a decision to be made by the public and their representative the legislature.

This guy accuses the Alabama Supreme Court of being activist. Well if there is somone who is being activist in this situation it is him. He was the one who took matters into his own hands by setting up a monument that is clearly not accepted by a large portion of the public.

On a side note, isn't Attorney General Bill Pryor the guy who is being held up in the Senate for being to far right. I seem to remember them questioning his willingness to uphold the law. Now he is the one getting rid of the monument.

James -- I don't particularly care whether there is a monument to the 10 commandments in a court house in Alabama. First, I don't believe that having such a monument enshrines religion. There are monuments all over this country, on public land, with which people disagree. There are monuments to fallen Confederate soldiers. That doesn't mean that the federal government approves of the confederacy. At the same time, if the people of a state dislike a monument strongly enough, then they should be able to voice that objection through their legislature and have it removed. But, not being "accepted by a large portion of the public" does not make it wrong, or mean it should be taken down. That's political correctness gone awry. Furthermore, I would be wary of a judge's ability to divine what the public "wants". "Congress shall make no law..." How was that violated? From where did the federal judge take the authority to tell the Alabama State courts what they could and couldn't display? Our Constitution does not say that there may be no religion in Government. It says that the government can not establish an official religion, and may not prevent others from practicing their own. How was that violated here? Did they sit each person down in front of the monument and make them swear an oath to it? I don't know if a particular judge exercised judicial activism, but judicial activism in general has gotten us to a point where "separation of church and state" is not examined for what it really means Constitutionally. People hear the phrase and think that all religion must be banished from Government. If that's what people truly want, then take "In God We Trust" off the money, but let the Congress decide that, not a Judge.

Matt -- As always, its not that simple. Now I'm not a judge, but his opening thesis: "the issue in this case is: 'Can the state acknowledge God?'" doesn't seem to be quite right. The State can, and does... frequently, acknowledge God. Now the validity of this is debatable, but its generally considered acceptable practice to "call upon God's favor" when making decisions, etc. While there have been challenges to this, its generally protected as freedom of speech. Now the instances where God is "officially" enshrined in our codec are acctually rather minimal, and usually secular or otherwise non-specific to Christianity. Most often these are in the form of "oaths" and usually optional (again, a free speech thing), or preambles of state constitutions: none of which call for any specific action. The most signifcant of the remainder are "one nation under God" and "In God We Trust" both by-products of McCarthyism which are being reconsidered in the courts. So by and large the "acknowledgement of God" has well established legal and ethical boundries in Government. As for federal jurisdiction, that acctually comes from the 14th amendment's due process provision (yeah I know, its the most debatable provision in the Constitution, but that's another issue).

So now we come to the issue of the 10 comandment monument itself. Generally, most religion related works of art are acceptable on public lands only when there is something of a historic or deep cultural value to enshrining (I'm sorry James, but 2 1/2 ton monument placed in a rotunda is about as "enshrined" as you can get... I know what you meant, but still...) the artwork. The cultural value of the 10 commandments isn't at issue, but the cultural value of the monument is at issue, and its value is pretty low.

But fact that this was a courthouse presents the biggest ethical (if not legal) snag. We must be honest with ourselves, to what purpose is a brand new two and a half ton, it is a dangerous precedent. I'm as against political correctness as just about anyone, but this whole snafu was a bad idea from the start.

James -- I repeat, I don't really care whether the 10 commandment monument is at the Alabama Supreme Court House. I have a hard time getting worked up about it. If the people of Alabama don't want it, then they should voice their opinion, and if that's strong enough, it should go. But, that doesn't seem to have happened; it seems that a few people have litigated it out. I may be wrong but my understanding is that this thing has been there for several years. If people were really angered by it, they could have mounted enough political pressure to get rid of it long ago. Should it have been put there in the first place? Probably not, the Judge probably knew that he was picking an unwinable fight, but the guy WAS elevated to the Chief Justice position after having been part of a controversy of having the 10 commandments displayed in his court room as a lower court judge. It should have been obvious that he would pull a stunt like this, but he was promoted with out sufficient objections to prevent his appointment.

As for the legality. I don't think the "due process" provision has much bearing. No one is being deprived of "equal protection under the law". No one was prosecuted for being an infidel or for breaking any of the commandments. They're simply being displayed, albeit in an obnoxious and ostentacious way. In terms of the first amendment, the freedom of religion part can be broken into to sections. First, Congress did not establish a religion. For that matter, Chief Justice Moore did not establish a religion. People make a giant leap and assume that because he put up this monolith (or decalith?) that he is making Christianity part of his court rulings. Well, I hate to break it to those people, but in that our legal system borrows heavily from Judeo-Christian ethics, it's already in his rulings. Furthermore, in that he's a Christian, it's probably in his rulings. Now, if his Christianity is causing his rulings to contradict the law or go further than the law allows, there's a problem and grounds for appeal. But again, the monument has nothing to do with that. In the second section, it says that Congress may not abridge the right for someone to exercise his or her own religion. Neither Congress nor Judge Moore has done this either. Just because the monument is there doesn't mean that a Hindu must pretend not to be a Hindu in court. If the Hindu wants to pray according to his religion in court, the 10 commandment monument doesn't stop that either. The Hindu may object to the fact that the monument tells everyone who can see it to worship no other God, but there's nothing in the Constitution that says that he has a right to be comfortable. Now, that brings me back to Matt's final point. He's right, it wasn't a good idea. There's no good reason to put up the monument and offend people like my Hypothetical Hindu. But, that doesn't mean that a Federal court has the power or the right to stop him. Moore wanted a fight, he got one, and and no matter what he was going to lose big, but it should have been the people of Alabama that defeated him. The Federal court engaged in judicial activism; Judge Moore engaged in Judicial ridiculousness.

Finally, the only reason that I think this issue is at all important is it's implication in OTHER debates. The monument's going to be taken down. While I think the result's probably a positive step, I didn't like the process that achieved it. My main concern is in the school vouchers debate, which I do think is important. Although the Supreme court pretty resoundingly said that vouchers can go to religious schools, I can envision people trying to extend that debate, which I believe, for many of the reasons I listed above, is bogus.



Sunday, August 24, 2003

Posted by Jake
Thousands Gather in Washington to Remember 1963 March and Plan for the Future

The Rev. Al Sharpton, activist and Democratic presidential candidate, drew rousing cheers when he urged those present to 'take down the dream busters.' Harking back to Dr. King's reference in the original march to the 'bad check' America had given to the Negro people, Mr. Sharpton said, 'Today that check has bounced again, but it's not for insufficient funds.'

'The check has been marked `stop payment,' ' he said.


Under what circumstances do you think the civil rights organizers of today would say, "OK, that's good, we won"?

Because that it is what a lot of their members are saying. They are not showing up in droves.

The NAACP won many of its important agenda items during the 1960s and 1970s -- and that is unequivocably good. But somewhere along the way it seems to have morphed into an organization more concerned with its own existence than with confronting genuine problems.

It's funny that Al Sharpton is saying basically the same things they were in the 60s. The change of issues from voting rights and institutional segratation to economic parity and racial profiling (two issues which are more or less taking care of themselves no thanks to them) highlights the fantastic steps that African Americans have made -- but no seems to have noticed.

Al Sharpton looks like he doesn't want to be out of job, and he is willing to convince millions of people they are oppressed to do it. Maybe this is why.




Posted by Jake
Political Wire: Simon Drops Out of Recall Race

That is turning out to be the big question. Most polls have showed little support for keeping Gov. Gray Davis in office. But a new Los Angeles Times poll says the recall is now a dead heat, with 50 percent in favor and 45 percent opposed. And while he's still losing, this is the first good news for Davis in a long, long time.

I don't the Davis people have any reason to be pleased. 50 percent of people still want to see him out on his ass and a lot of those people are in his party.



Saturday, August 23, 2003

Posted by Matthew
Simon to drop out of governor's race

Crushed, driven before Ah-nuld, ad mist the lamentations of his women.




Posted by Jake
ScrappleFace: Alabama Monument Stays, Commandments Repealed

'This case isn't about a big chunk of stone,' wrote the unnamed federal judge. 'The real problem is the commandments themselves. I hereby repeal all 10 of the commandments.'

Give me chisel. I will have this whole thing fixed in a couple of minutes.




Posted by Matthew
SUVs vandalized at dealerships

I gotta admit, while I believed eco-terrorists existed, I never acctually heard of them doing anything substantial... but apparently the Earth Liberation Front is real and they are asshats. They torched a friggin' dealership! How was this a good idea? Their beef is about air pollution... well a FIRE pollutes! Or don't they realize this? Okay now this particular dealership happened to be previously owned by family friends of mine (retired and sold a few years back, but it still bears their name) but regardless, these eco-freaks are just sick. I mean there is no excuse for this... these are the sort things that cost a lot of people jobs, and wreck a lot of lives. I mean where do these fagtards (the most politically incorrect perjorative known to man) come from?

Jake -- This is interesting because I was under the impression that ELF was actually composed of elves -- angry tree hugging elves directed by some hippie Santa.

The Earth Liberation Front is an international underground organization that uses direct action in the form of economic sabotage to stop the destruction of the natural environment. Since 1997, the ELF in North America has caused over $100 million in damages to entities who profit from the destruction of life and the planet.

An "underground organization"? They have a friggin' website. Find that guy and ask him where his friends are.

Doesn't want to talk? Well we will just make him watch some guy from Newark eat cheeseburgers until he loses it. We have ways of making you talk.



Friday, August 22, 2003

Posted by Jake
CNN.com - Fox lose over Franken's 'Lies' book - Aug. 22, 2003

I am not really planning on buying this book. I have found that most of the humor books written by people with a clear left agenda -- or right for that matter -- are really not that funny.

But this is ridiculous. I will get a cold call from Sean Connery asking me to cure cancer before anyone confuses Al Franken with Fox News.

1) Al Franken is a person. Fox News is a network that has people and flags on it.

2) Al Franken is only sometimes funny. Fox News is hilarious 24/7.

3) Al Franken is not owned by Rupert Murdoch...yet. Fox...well you get the point.

Given these clear differences I cannot concieve of how people could become confused no matter what title he gives his book.

Closing Message to Fox: Come on. Be a little hipper than that. I know that you field women commentator with Bouffant hair cuts, but it is time to lighten up. I appreciate your multimillion dollar attempt to highlight the liberal media, but you always knew it was going to draw criticism. Take it like a man, er, a network.




Posted by Tanstaafl
CNN.com - 'Star Wars Kid' born out of private moment on tape - Aug. 22, 2003

I haven't seen it yet, but I already feel bad for this kid.
Matt, do we have any video of Jake that we could put up on the web?
A Squirrel video perhaps? :-)




Posted by Tanstaafl
CNN.com - Race to stop SoBig virus next move - Aug. 22, 2003: "By Thursday, one in 17 e-mails contained SoBig.F worldwide."

This is unbelievable.




Posted by Jake
Gephardt offers a stark contrast

No major Democratic presidential candidate is promising to change the country more dramatically than Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (Mo.).

What about Howard Dean?

“This election needs to be about choices — big choices,” Gephardt said in an interview this week. “If it’s just a little different than the incumbent . . . people will choose the incumbent. It is my belief we need have to give a real contrast.”

Well I am glad there will at least be a choice.




Posted by Jake
Security May Not Be Safe Issue for Bush in '04 (washingtonpost.com)

Headline reads: Press jumps the gun.

Security is definitely going to be an election issue, but it is going to depend strongly on how things look on election day. 15 months from now, no one is going to remember today.





Posted by Jake
KSAT.com - Education - New Texas Pledge Law To Cost School Districts

A new Texas law mandates that students recite the Texas pledge after reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag.

At a convocation Wednesday for teachers in the Northside Independent School District, teachers were given a card that has the words to the Texas pledge.


What?!




Posted by Jake
Kerry using ship in campaign kickoff

Kerry comes to the following conclusion: I can't beat him, so I had better join him.

Hypocritical?




Posted by Jake
The High Stakes of 2004

Imagine the two most likely outcomes in 2004: a Bush victory, almost certainly accompanied by increased GOP majorities in both houses of Congress, and by a pickup of gubernatorial and legislative seats, leaving Republicans as the true governing party for the first time since the New Deal; and a Bush defeat, which would mean that the Democrat would have received more votes than the Republican in four straight presidential elections. In the latter case, even if the GOP hung onto majorities in Congress, moderate Republicans would suddenly be interested in working with a Democratic president, and bitter fights would emerge among Republicans and conservatives, rather than among liberals and Democrats.

This could get very interesting.




Posted by Jake
The Poor Like Globalization

Well isn't that interesting. Apparently it is the people in the West and Europe that are the most ambivalent.




Posted by Tanstaafl
August 2003, Part 3 - Jim Miller on Politics: "[Thursday]morning, Washington state's Democratic party chairman, Paul Berendt, said, on the Dave Ross talk show, 'We just want to use our Constitutional rights to free speech while we still have them.' When Ross challenged him on this, he cited the protests against the Dixie Chicks as an example of attacks on free speech, and never really backed off his original claim."

For the record, no one ever infringed upon the Dixie Chicks right to free speech. The right to free speech does not mean that private organizations like radio stations must provide you with a forum no matter what you say. If that's the case, I'd like to speak at next year's Democratic convention. The right to free speech simply means that the GOVERNMENT (not Clear Channels Communications) must not prevent you from speaking. You can't be thrown in the Gulag for speaking your mind. If the radio stations' listeners don't want to hear your music, no matter what their reasons may be, the radio stations have NO obligation to play it. The amazing thing to me, is that these same people who complain about this attack on free speech shout down conservative speakers on college campuses on a regular basis.




Posted by Tanstaafl
CNN.com - Democrats start group to try to 'recall' Bush - Aug. 20, 2003:

This is ridiculous. There article says that these people understand that the constitution has no recall provision, they simply want to raise money for "issue ads" by confusing voters who don't have a strong understanding of the consitution.




Posted by Tanstaafl
CNN.com - Parents group: 'CSI' is TV's worst - Aug. 21, 2003: "The organization's 10 best shows: 'Touched By an Angel,' CBS; 'Doc,' Pax; 'Sue Thomas F. B. Eye,' Pax; '7th Heaven,' WB; 'Life with Bonnie,' ABC; 'Smallville,' WB; 'Reba,' WB; 'Star Search,' CBS; 'George Lopez,' ABC and '8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teen-age Daughter,' ABC.
The PTC's 10 worst: 'CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,' CBS; 'Kingpin,' NBC; 'Fastlane,' Fox; 'NYPD Blue,' ABC; 'Fear Factor,' NBC; 'Angel,' WB; 'Girlfriends,' UPN; 'Will & Grace,' NBC; 'Friends,' NBC and 'Big Brother 3,' CBS. "

Does a show have to be lame in order to be on the 10 Best list?



Thursday, August 21, 2003

Posted by Matthew
In offices, supplies vanish at back-to-school time

So if all this money is trotting out the door, why aren't companies doing something about it? The reality is that most businesses don't have the foggiest notion of how to contend with the situation. For small companies, it's a minor irritation. A glue stick here. A ruler there. Nothing you'd fire anyone for.

I never really thought about it... but its kind of funny... unless you are an office manager.




Posted by Tanstaafl
OpinionJournal - John Fund's Political Diary: Schwarzenegger "has also told friends that if the legislature balked on his budget proposals--without offering anything constructive--he would visit the districts of key legislators. There, the Terminator would turn up the political heat by holding rallies in support of his budget. He could even hold fundraisers for opponents to run against offending legislators."

I love this strategy. I've been advocating it as a strategy for President Bush for a while now, especially on Senators that are giving him a hard time with judicial nominees.




Posted by Tanstaafl
CNN.com - Heat deaths: Chirac pledges action - Aug. 21, 2003: "The French funeral directors association said 10,416 had died during the first three weeks of August because of the heat wave and projected the death toll for the month from the heat wave would be 13,632.
France, which normally has temperatures in upper 20s Celsius (80s Fahrenheit) was hit with temperatures in the upper 30s (90s to over 100 Fahrenheit). "

This seems really odd. Is their health-care system really in such disrepair that they can't combat heat? As for these 10,000 or so deaths, how many are truly due to the heat? Finally, they've obviously identified the problem, why don't they act, and prevent those last 3,200 deaths?




Posted by Tanstaafl
‘Chemical Ali’ detained in Iraq:

"Ali Hasan al-Majid al Tikriti, a feared cousin of Saddam Hussein nicknamed “Chemical Ali” for his use of poison gas in attacks, has been captured by U.S. forces in Iraq, military officials told NBC News on Thursday."

King of Spades: 5th on the US wish list.



Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Posted by Jake
Judge refuses to delay recall vote

Hmmm. I wonder if they NAACP and the ACLU would be suing to stop a Republican governor from getting recalled. It's funny how nonpartisan organizations tend to end up on one side of the debate.




Posted by Tanstaafl
Walmart.com to sell more Linux software | CNET News.com

I've said for a while, the only thing that can unseat Windows is an easier to use O/S that will run Windows applications. Otherwise you've got a chicken or the egg situation. Users won't adopt an O/S with few applications, and software developers won't write software for an O/S with few users.




Posted by Jake
U.N. to stay in Iraq despite bombing

Annan, speaking at a news conference in Stockholm on Wednesday, vowed that the world body “will not be intimidated."
"We will persevere. We will continue. It is essential work,” Annan said before heading to U.N. headquarters in New York.


It shouldn't force them out. It should force them in.




Posted by Jake
Chaos as an Anti-U.S. Strategy

'In hitting the United Nations, it could put into a rather tough position those in the U.N. who might have opposed what the United States is doing in Iraq, and even opposed our entry into the war to begin with,' Mr. Shultz said.

In other words, by attacking the United Nations the bombers may have made it easier for President Bush to convince European and Arab nations that they have a stake in a peaceful, stable Iraq.


This is the big point even though it is hidden at the end of the article. The point once we get past fingerpointing is that the people we are fighting do not in any way distinguish between the supposed "good guys" -- the UN and the well meaning establishment that wants to help the Iraqi people -- and the supposed "bad guys" -- the US who foolishly forced us into an unnecessary war. Rather, the people we are fighting see us as the monolith. They fight the West without respect to our politics.

Once you realize this, the narrative of emerging resistance to the imperialist power breaks down. Not antagonizing the terrorists is no longer a satisfactory strategy.

It is time to drop the prewar debate and do this right. No more cross-Atlantic bickering about international institutions. It is time for everyone to throw in their chips and see this through to end.



Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Posted by Tanstaafl
CNN.com - Why suing college students for illegal music downloading is right - Aug. 7, 2003

While I believe Ms. Hamilton is correct for the most part, I would like a better understanding of how the idea of "fair use" applies to MP3's. If I hum a Loretta Lynn song, I'm not breaking the law. If I start selling copies of her albums without paying royalties, I'm stealing. If I xerox a page out of my text book, so that I can highlight on it, I'm not breaking the law. If I xerox whole copies and then sell them outside the campus bookstore, I should be fined and sent to jail. The question is, where in the middle is the line? If I xerox a page from my text-book, make notes in the margin, and then lend those notes to my friend, am I breaking the law? Similarly, if I buy a Loretta Lynn album, like one of the songs, and make a mix tape or CD for a friend, am I breaking the law? I think that before the RIAA subpoena's and sues college students, they should educate on where the line is, what counts as "piracy" and what does not.

Brian -- In all of your examples, the difference is the copying results in a profit. Now, from the intellectual property legal classes I've taken, I don't think this legitimately falls under "fair use" law, but, the fact that mp3 sharers are not making a profit mitigates the harm, and the legitimacy of a a court ordered injunction.

Matt -- Articles like this always worry me. While this author is certainly well educated, there are some serious problems here. Her claim regarding copyright protecting the "creation of culture" while superficially valid, neglets certain factors, particularly regarding distribution and profit taking from mass consumption media. Both audio and visual media have (for starters) a promenent "free" variety notably TV and Radio, the value of a recording is thus, by the producers own volition, devalued in the eyes of the end user. Secondly, each has an alternate revenue stream motivating the production of the media: TV sells advertising, and Radio sells advertising and live performance (as well as recordings). In the case of music specifically, the profit of record sales is predominately taken by a third party (the recording industry) which due to technology is of decreasing necessity to both production and distribution of the product. In otherwords, a needless middleman which economic forces may eliminate. This also weakens her premise about the production of "art" in which the technology has made cheap and simple for ameteur artists to produce quality work. Rock and Roll will not simply wither and die. Another premise is the creation of what she calls the "anti-copyright culture" again, no such thing exists, at least not beyond fringe fanatics. As both of you brought up, few argue the SALE of materials shouldn't be the sole providence of the artist. Its the "sharing" that is the sticking point. Simply put, the material could not sell if it was not shared since nobody would know about it. This is radio 101. The bigger issue here is that the "share" which has always been considered "fair use" is now much larger in scope. Finally, her advocacy is for greater monitoring... she doesn't seem to realize it, but what she is calling for (given what we know about the technology) is Orwellian measures on the general public.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating rampant piracy or a police state, but it troubles me when "smart" people fail to see some obvious facts, especially when those relate to new technology. Okay end rant.




Posted by Tanstaafl
WSJ.com - The Fed's Thermostat:

"Central banks the world over performed badly prior to the '80s not because they lacked the capacity to do better, but because they pursued the wrong goals according to a wrong theory. Keynes had taught them that the quantity of money did not matter, that what mattered was autonomous spending and the multiplier, that the role of monetary policy was to keep interest rates low to promote investment and thereby full employment. Inflation, according to this vision, was produced primarily by pressures on cost that could best be restrained by direct controls on prices and wages.

That Keynesian vision was thoroughly discredited by experience in the '70s and '80s. It has since been replaced by what has become known as New Keynesian Economics, which incorporates some key quantity theory (monetarist) propositions: that inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon; that monetary policy has important effects on real magnitudes in the short run but no important effects in the long run (the long run Phillips curve is vertical), the crucial function of a central bank is to produce price stability, interpreted as a low and relatively steady recorded rate of inflation. Once the banks adopted price stability as their primary goal, they were able to improve their performance drastically." -Milton Friedman Aug 19th 2003. WSJ


Unfortunately, this link requires a subscription, but picking up a copy of today's Journal might be worth the dollar, for this article alone. I'm not sure how much of this article will make sense to someone without an Economics degree, but a decent understanding of mathematics should suffice. Friedman is a bit modest. I would rewrite the phrase "the Keynesian vision was thoroughly discredited by experience in the '70s and '80s," as "Friedman's research and theories thoroughly discredited Keynesian notions throughout the '70s and '80s." Also, his description of Open Market Operations, the big-stick of monetary policy, is clear and concise.




Posted by Jake
Hit & Run: Nothing if Not Inconsistent

Someone (Matt Welch) caught Arianna Huffington praising Prop 187. Not like she isn't a write off candidate anyway. (via InstaPundit)




Posted by Jake
The Neoconservative Persuasion

Considering that half of Americans still haven't heard the word outside a Krugman rant, this summary is worth reading.




Posted by Jake

Sunday, August 17, 2003

Posted by Matthew
Incumbent Protection Racket

This is the same sort of rational article that crops up every now and then, and is decidedly ignored. I tend to be one who can spot the virtue in our political systems when people start to complain, but as far as I can tell, there really isn't any virtue in gerrymandering. I suppose you could say it provides a certain degree of stability... but it seems to be the sort of stability that breeds waste more than anything.

I've heard mention of Iowa's "independent commission" which consistently results in competitive elections... a simple factor of having districts determined by geography rather than political affiliation. If we want the house to be "reactive to a constituency" which seems a reasonable goal, then gerrymandering really needs to stop... Do any of you know anything about Iowa's system?

Not that I'm in favor the cowardly Dems in Texas... under the current system to the victor go the spoils, and they lost.



Saturday, August 16, 2003

Posted by Jake
ScrappleFace: Bloggers Among Hardest Hit by Massive Blackout

With no electricity, many "bloggers" were forced to post their latest musings to the Internet by candlelight. Some resorted to using old-fashioned kerosene-fueled personal computers. Others wrote their thoughts out longhand on paper then ran through the streets reading them aloud to the passing crowds of stranded commuters. (ScrappleFace)




Posted by Jake
CNN.com - Iraqis' top 10 tips for enduring blackout in the heat - Aug. 16, 2003

My favorite is number 5 and 2: 5. Check for bitter-enders and 2. Use foul language.




Posted by Matthew
Kinder, gentler New Yorkers

This is a remarkable evening. When I think of the city, my hometown, civility is not the first phrase that comes to mind. It's an impatient city. Last night, I took a walk from CNN's bureau across Penn Station all the way up 8th Avenue. It's a five-mile walk, and you go through five different kind of neighborhoods-- commercial hotels, grungy hotels. And the theme all the way of that walk was a sense of civility.

This whole power outage thing kinda amuses (sarcastically of course) me on a variety of levels. First let me start with the disclaimer: Power outages suck, major ones cost millions, a few people may acctually die or otherwise suffer because of them, etc etc etc... But in the grand scheme of things, for most people, a power outage is just a damn frustrating annoyance... and that's about it. Humans lived without power for a million years or so and by and large got along fine. Sure life was hard, but I should hope modern man can make it a couple days without juice. Now in a major city, things like sanitation, and food preservation become an issue, but there are ways to deal. So what amuses me? Here's a list:

- First and foremost, its a F***ing power outage... Everybody's been in power outages before. Yeah its a big one, and people are right to be concerned about terrorism or a even be a little indignant towards their provider for poor handling, but c'mon, we're talking about one of the very most complicated systems man has ever managed to invent which simply could not function efficiently without a few fragilities here and there, and every once in a long while, one breaks. (Now I know I know, analysts calculated the probability of such an outage being very low, but it was, and always will be possible) People freaking about all this and rushing to play the blame game (probably blame Dubya) are either a) directly loosing oodles of money or b) idiots.

- The media going nuts and trying desperatley to drum up a good riot for the evening news. Man, I hadn't seen news casters so excited and dare I say it, blood thirsty. When one didn't happen, they switched to the tactic of this article: Its a miracle there were no riots, or New Yorkers are just such fantastic people, etc etc. Oh wow! Heck, most groups of people when faced with a minor crisis will tend towards being a little more civil to eachother since a) we all like to comiserate with eachother (comraderie and all that) and b) we may need the other guy's help.

- Everyone just got a minor day off... take 'er easy, settle down with a good book or a good woman... sure there are things that need to be done, but otherwise what an opportunity to let life slow down for a little bit. I wonder if there will be a baby boom next May?

Okay okay enough of a rant from the guy on the otherside of the country with the computer, TV, fans, lights, and refrigerated drink at hand... I hope I haven't put my foot in my mouth when you all get back online and have stories of gross inconveniences... but really, the amount of coverage this is getting out here is getting absurd. So how did you all fair? Post your stories if you got any...

Jake -- I don't know about the news because I have been out of the loop for about 48 hours, but power outages are hell on hospitals. Every hospital in New York was on back up power and for a while our backup power failed. This means things like ventilators need to be done by hand which is a tall order when you are understaffed because Manhattan is a parking lot and none of the subways are running. Furthermore, backup power can only be used for critical tasks so all the elevators are out.

Meaning: Me and a lot of other medical students just spent the last 24 hours running up and down stairs carrying stuff. My personal favorite was cases of water that had to be taken up the 11th floor. But, hey, at least the backup came back so I wasn't hand venting a baby. I have no idea what the rest of the city was like. But in the hospital it was a mess.

Matt -- That's pretty cool Jake (not the hell, but you getting to help out). I've always wondered how things like hospital get the extra staff they'll need, I guess med students are top of the call list. Case of water eleven floors eh? Rough... that musta taken awhile.



Friday, August 15, 2003

Posted by RFTR
WSJ.com - Arnie's Money Man: "The would-be tax terminator has chosen as his chief economics adviser a tax perpetuator -- Warren Buffett."

Yeah, when I heard he'd selected Buffett, I first thought "Jimmy Buffett?" Then I was corrected that, no, it was in fact Warren. In some ways, I think Jimmy might be a better choice. Sure Warren has made some great financial decisions in his life, but what happened to the Arnold that was going to be socially liberal and fiscally conservative? If he's still socially liberal, then we might have a genuine liberal running on the Republican ticket, or just as bad, a moderate.




Posted by RFTR
WSJ.com - My Tall Thin Greek Candidate

You've got to read this if you haven't already. I'm sorry, it's subscription only, but if you want the text, let me know and I'll send it to you. This is absolutely scathing, and hilarious.



Thursday, August 14, 2003

Posted by Tanstaafl
I'm listening to Arianna Huffington on CNN's web site right now. The reporters are tearing her apart, on her tax returns, on where she sends her kids to school, and her cooperation with the media. It's really strange.




Posted by Jake
Best take yet on the California recall

Not that the California Recall Election And Performance Art Festival isn't a cracking good show. A screaming Greek harpy, a black midget, a power-hungry Austrian millionaire, a porn lord in a golden wheelchair and a dangerously over-endowed blonde with a faintly erotic name— Is this an election or a reunion of James Bond movie villains. ("Vote Odd Job in '03!") (via OmbudsGod)

Best quote ever.




Posted by Jake
EPA Nominee Plans to 'Conquer and Dominate' Nature

(200-08-14) -- Utah Gov. Michael O. Leavitt, President Bush's nominee for director of Environmental Protection (EPA), said he plans to drain and pave the nation's swamps, open all federal lands to vigorous strip mining and permit visitors to Yellowstone National Park to "harvest" one grizzly bear per day.

...He suggested environmental protectionists "should be released into the wilderness where they can struggle for survival side-by-side with the bugs, grubs, weeds and vermin they love so well.
(ScrappleFace)




Posted by Jake
Josh Chafetz, blogger for OxBlog, publishes the Immutable Laws of Maureen Dowd in the Weekly Standard.

THE FOURTH IMMUTABLE LAW OF DOWD: The particulars of my consumer-driven, self-involved life are of universal interest and reveal universal truths. Nowhere was this law more clearly illustrated than in Dowd's reaction to last fall's anthrax attacks. On October 17, 2001, for example, she opened her column with the line, "I am typing this wearing long black leather gloves." Dowd went on to explain that she had been wearing latex gloves, but she "felt the need for a more stylish sort of sterility" (a Dowd-like commentator might note ungenerously that this line describes her writing almost perfectly).

Another reason why the NYTimes editorial staff could use a shakeup.




Posted by Tanstaafl

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Posted by Matthew


Posted by Tanstaafl
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education: Press Release:
"The OCR statement is a vindication of the truth that no governmental regulation, law, or policy may override the First Amendment.
“For too long, colleges and universities have used OCR’s anti-harassment regulations as an excuse for passing restrictive speech codes and punishing students and faculty for ‘offensive’ speech,” said FIRE co-director and Boston attorney Harvey A. Silverglate. “By issuing this letter, OCR has clarified once and for all that OCR regulations cannot and do not trump the First Amendment.”"

While a nice thought, this will change very little. I've seen schools censor their students because of a political bias and not even think twice about it. This will not change the type of person making those types of decisions at leading Universities.




Posted by Jake
Blah Blah Blog

Did Dowd read any blogs besides the ones run by Democratic candidates? Come on. The establishment is not going to be where the action is. It is like when network TV started using kitschy rap jingles to appeal to a younger audience: it got really old really quick and no one ever considered it real music.

Glenn Reynolds on Instapundit summarized this best: "MAUREEN DOWD IS READING BLOGS, but not, alas, learning from them."




Posted by Jake
Steel of the Century -- President Bush can undo his worst economic mistake.

I remember going "wha?" when I first heard about the steel tariffs. It is sort of mystery to me why they ever set it up in the first place. Not only are the Steel Workers not really a Republican constituency, but they also have a really easy out now: compliance with a WTO ruling.

There is a difference between being pro-business and pro-market. Time to embrace the later.

James--
Although I think the tariffs were and are a bad idea economically, there was an understandable but weak political rationale. There may also have even been a market/trade rationale. First, policitally: steel union leadership is not a typically Republican consituency. Steel rank and file is a bit more ambiguous, however, the way one wins elections is by stealing your opponent's constituents. Reagan won because a signficant number of Democrats found his outlook appealing. Pennsylvania, home of America's steel manufacturing carrys a large number of electoral votes. The Administration probably made the assessment that it couldn't hurt them in PA to impose steel tariffs. If they could carry a few more democrats, Bush might win the state in 2004. The market rationale, may have been more simple. Bush wanted fast-track trade authority. It had expired during Clinton's Presidency, and Congress had refused to renew it for several years. The only way that Bush was going to get it was to placate protectionist liberals (and a few on the FAR right) who oppose the idea of all-encompassing free-trade. It seems to have worked in the sense that he's gotten fast-track trade authority, but I think he probably would have won that vote, even without the tariffs. Moreover, his success in that endeavor is all the more reason why he should repeal the tariffs now; they're no longer necessary.




Posted by Jake
Bring C-SPAN to Iraq

I agree with this premise, but do we really want to bring boring television to Iraq. I mean other than watching the British Commons C-SPAN is pretty dry. How about a "bring Crossfire to Iraq" push?

Brian --I think there's probably already enough crossfire in Iraq...



Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Posted by Tanstaafl
CNN.com - Driver study: Cell phones not major distraction - Aug. 6, 2003

Ok, so I've heard a couple people use this as evidence of why there's no problem with people on cell-phones in cars. The problem is, the design of the study is one huge flaw. They just measured whether a person was distracted or not and for how long. From what the news media are saying, there was no measure of HOW distracted someone was. I would contend that changing the radio station and dialing your cell phone are totally different scenarios. For that matter, if you're changing the station and need to react, you can easily put your hands back on the wheel. Not as easy when you're holding a cell phone to your ear. I still think people on cell-phones while in the car are much bigger hazards than most other driving activities.




Posted by Tanstaafl
CNN.com - Experts: Web worm attacks Windows, spreads fast - Aug. 12, 2003: "Blaster, which zeroes in on Windows 2000 or Windows XP operating software, has been timed to attack a Microsoft security Web site distributing the patch needed to stop the worm in its tracks before it hits millions of users. "

This may be a silly thought, but why don't they move the site? If they know what the virus is going to do, maybe they should try to prevent it. Or maybe CNN figured it out first. Or maybe they just want August 16th to be exciting. I know some anti-globalization nutz who probably think Bill Gates built the worm so that he could sell more software when all of the hard-drives in the world are erased. We know he'll know who's got the worm because he's been using that email tracking program of his (ya know the one he uses to give free trips to Disney Land). It's all part of his evil scheme.

Brian -- The problem with moving the site is, every windows client on the planet is designed to go to that site and look for automatic updates. The page is down right now, presumably because they're throwing up every firewall they possibly can, but this is going to be a nasty little virus for a while, despite the fact that it's supposed to be one of the worst written in a long time.




Posted by Jake
Bush Seeks Overwhelming Advantage

President Bush "is building the earliest, most aggressive campaign organization by an incumbent president since Ronald Reagan won re-election in 1984," USA Today reports. "Bush is aiming to have such a strong head start that Democrats will have trouble catching up after they choose their nominee." (via Political Wire)

You gotta love that headline. As opposed to what? "Yeah well this election we thought we would just half-ass it and see what happens."




Posted by Jake
Yet another reason to invade the UN

NEW YORK — The United Nations, under pressure from the Bush administration, has decided to move a stash of submachine guns out of the organization's New York City headquarters.

The MP5s, made by Heckler and Koch of Germany, are to be moved to U.N. peacekeeping operations overseas, State Department sources said.

The United Nations purchased the restricted weapons for the personal protection of Secretary-General Kofi Annan in his travels around the New York metropolitan area.

The weapons often were visible in the support van of Mr. Annan's motorcade as it moved throughout the city.

It was not clear why Mr. Annan's bodyguards needed such weapons, said sources within the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service (DSS)...

Key factors were the U.N. security department's lack of formal status as a law-enforcement agency and the risk of non-U.S. citizens gaining access to the weapons, State Department sources said.
(via InstaPundit)


James -- See, they know that we're sending Rudy Giuliani and the NYPD to evict them, and they're stocking up on munitions.




Posted by Matthew
No Cakewalk

At the end of the article, there is this little snippet:

"He's got to show 'here's the beef' on how he would govern California or some will accuse him of being just a beefcake candidate," says Melanie Morgan of KSFO radio in San Francisco.

That beef may already be on the grill. Financier Warren Buffett, a close friend of Mr. Schwarzenegger's, is providing advice on economic development. Friends of Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman are urging him to appear in a commercial for Mr. Schwarzenegger, much as he did for Proposition 13 a quarter century ago. Mr. Schwarzenegger has been quoted as saying that for years his favorite Christmas present for friends was Mr. Friedman's book "Free to Choose." Other prominent economic figures who are talking with Mr. Schwarzenegger about a role in the campaign include Steve Forbes, Larry Kudlow, Art Laffer and Steve Moore of the Club for Growth. This week, Bob White, the former chief of staff for Gov. Pete Wilson, took over the campaign's reins as senior manager. Mr. White has extensive experience in formulating public policy, which is unusual for a campaign manager.


As I was ranting earlier... its the connections that matter most for being an effective politician, and those are some hefty connections.



Monday, August 11, 2003

Posted by Jake
Taegan Goddard's Political Wire

The 11 Texas Democratic state senators encamped in New Mexico 'have called on President Bush to intervene in the impasse over congressional redistricting, saying he alone has the power to end 'this embarrassing chapter in Texas history,'' the Dallas Morning News reports.

'The debacle, they said in a letter Friday that they individually signed, is damaging the former Texas governor's credibility as a bipartisan leader. And, they said, his top adviser, Karl Rove, is largely to blame.'


Oh, I am sure Bush is going run right down there to fix this. Karl too.




Posted by Jake
Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | US lifestyles blamed for obesity epidemic sweeping Mexico

1) Europeans are fat too.
2) We learned how to be sedentary from the Europeans.
3) The Mexicans can eat what the Mexicans want to eat. I am not down there with a stick force feeding them hamburgers.




Posted by Tanstaafl
CNN.com - Davis, Bustamante build strategies to beat Schwarzenegger - Aug. 11, 2003:

"Bustamante presented his relative lack of wealth -- and lack of screaming fans begging for an autograph -- as a different kind of strong suit.

'I am an average guy trying to do an above-average job,' he told CNN. 'I think there is a clear distinction between me and many other candidates. ... I'm the only Democrat in the race, and if you look at the folks on the other sides of the aisle, the other candidates, I am probably the only non-millionaire in the race.'"

So Bustamonte's "winning" strategy is to make the following points:
1) I'm only average, but I want a job that's way over my head.
2) At a time when fiscal discipline is CA's biggest problem, I'm the best guy because I'm the only candidate who has NOT managed my personal finances well enough to accumulate millions.

In fairness, you don't have to be a millionaire to be good with money, but by trying this average joe routine, Bustamonte is only going to emphasize that Schwarzenegger IS good with money. The guy didn't inherit his wealth, he was an imigrant who built a vast empire from scratch. But by all means, Mr. Lt. Governor, keep pointing that out.




Posted by Tanstaafl
Court blocks some file-trading subpoenas | CNET News.com

I think this lends credence the idea that the RIAA is just going for scare tactics as opposed to a coherent legal strategy.




Posted by Tanstaafl
CNN.com - Bustamante says he's an 'alternative' for Calif. voters - Aug. 11, 2003

I've been saying that Arnold needs to get some position papers out there, and start giving policy speeches if he wants to translate this surge of popularity into a fighting chance at an actual Governorship. I'm changing my mind. There's already buzz about what I'll call his moderation on social issues. That leaves the one big $38 billion issue. After having read this interview with Bustamonte, I don't know why Arnold should be the first one to announce a plan to fix the State budget. Davis hasn't been able to articulate one for years. Bustamonte doesn't even seem like he's going to try. The Dems are going to have a hard time portraying Arnold as knee-jerk conservative, and unless they come up with a fiscal plan, they can't criticize him for not having one of his own. Unless the Dems get serious, Arnold doesn't have to, and can win with a fluff campaign.




Posted by Tanstaafl
ESPN.com - MLB - Braves' Furcal turns unassisted triple play

This has only happened 12 times in the history of MLB.




Posted by Tanstaafl
Devalued Doctors (washingtonpost.com)

This is a fairly disconcerting anecdote. She doesn't even mention malpractice insurance costs. There's an incentive problem. I would still go with the straight A's over the three-point shot, but I wouldn't recommend practicing medicine to anyone. Business or law school sound like better options. I think one of the things that needs to happen in what's called managed competition. A Stanford professor named Alain Enthoven is a big proponent of this. The idea is that governments and businesses create much bigger lists of insurance plans from which their beneficiaries/employees can choose. Right now there's a bit of an oligopoly. A few plan providers dictate prices to doctors who won't get any business if they don't accept the prices and won't make any money if they do. If there were more plans from which to choose, the doctors would only sign up for the plans that would allow a profit. Patients would choose those plans from their companies since they would have the most physicians. As long as the economic power is the hands of just a few insurance providers, they will squeeze their profits out of the doctors.




Posted by Tanstaafl
CNN.com - Poll: Californians set to recall Davis - Aug. 11, 2003

I think the best thing in this entire article is that Soon-to-be-California-Governor-Elect-and-Terminator-Extraordinaire Schwarzenegger owns a robot skull valued at $1,000.




Posted by Jake
The Random Ballot

The ballot to replace California Gov. Gray Davis could include 158 names, the Los Angeles Times reports. The final candidate list 'will be certified Wednesday by the secretary of state.'

Then, Political State Report says the secretary of state will then 'draw a random alphabet to determine ballot order. Then, that random alphabet is rotated through the state assembly districts, meaning that ballots will not only differ by ballot design, but order as well.'

'So, in one county, Schwarzenegger could be on the first page, and Bustamante on the last page. The good news is that the randomized alphabet is consistent throughout the state, it just starts at a different point in each assembly district.'
(via Political Wire)

A random order for a random group of candidates.




Posted by Jake
Taking 'Cides -- Fox News should drop the term "homicide bomber."

I agree completely. Here's a note for you Fox News: We all know you think that suicide bombing is wrong. We all know that you think people are equivocating with suicide bombers by calling them militants. Get over it. You sound like idiots when you repeat a redundancy (just look at that one) over and over again.




Posted by Matthew
An Actor, Yes, but No Ronald Reagan

Well this little article is the "most official" ("official" as in its from the NYT, via CNN) of the inevitable Schwarzenegger/Reagan comparisons. There were a few points where insomnia and I felt the need to comment on:

The author is painting Reagan as very conservative, and Arnold as not conservative enough for CA Republicans. Conservative enough for whom? Granted there is a "traditional" group of Republicans in this state, and they represent a non-trivial voting block, but I think perhaps they think too highly of themselves:

"If he gets elected, and the recall is a convenient adjunct to his candidacy, then it is not going to work," said Mr. Khachigian, who was advising Mr. Issa. "He has to realize that this is a true rebellion. It is a Republican and conservative rebellion."

Now I don't mean to go off on a rant here, but for the last time: NO IT ISN'T! There is no "Great Republican Uprising" in California. The ideological nature of the state's electorate has not changed. It is, and will continue to be a little left of moderate. Just left enough that we fear bible-thumping "traditional" Republicans and won't usually elect them, but when times are tight, we tend to vote in a conservative governor because we all believe the stereotype that Republicans are good at accounting. When times are good, we let the Democrats spend unless they break the bank, which they did. Neither party seems to understand this. There is constant talk of "mandates" and "rebellions" and its not going to get either party anywhere. So along comes the Terminator, a (gasp!) social moderate fiscal conservative who happens to be popular, and people freak out like his politics are some sort of dangerous anomaly, when in reality, he's just identified the same way as the majority of people...

So go ahead, and vote for looser Bill Simon, and divide the republican voting block which for once has the opportunity to get votes from the huge moderate voting block in Schwarzenegger.

At least this guy gets it:
Kenneth M. Duberstein, who served as Mr. Reagan's White House chief of staff, is less pessimistic about Mr. Schwarzenegger's ability to romance the conservatives. Victory for a Republican, Mr. Duberstein said, trumps ideological purity.

Okay the second thing that's annoying me is the whole "Ah-nuld isn't qualified" chant that keeps getting repeated:

Mr. Schwarzenegger also steps into the political ring with virtually none of the preparation of Mr. Reagan.

When Mr. Reagan ran for governor in 1966, he had not only been a well-known actor, the host of a popular Sunday television show and a dashing figure around Los Angeles, but a visible Republican activist across the country.


Um... hello? Ah-nuld has been stumping for the GOP for a well over decade... granted he hasn't exactly been making political debate or setting the Republican agenda, but he's been a part of many campaigns and fundraisers: he's got the connections and inside knowledge. As for people skills, he's a seasoned pro... As an actor you have to be able to sell yourself. I've even heard people describe Arnold the same way they've described Bill Clinton: "personable, charming, intelligent, the willingness to talk to anyone about anything, and the knack for making people feel like they have his complete attention." Lastly, from an administrative point of view, he's a successful businessman (he was even doing quite well for himself before acting with businesses and investments). What else does one need to be a politician at any level? It's not like you need a formal education in political science to be governor. As far as I can tell, all you need to be governor is a willingness to make decisions and people willing to support your decisions. In that perspective, Arnold is already more qualified than Davis.

At least the general electorate is getting that idea: Seventy-three percent of those polled said they regard Schwarzenegger's candidacy seriously

Okay, end rant.... I know I'm starting to sound like a fanboy, but the more I think about it, the more enthusiastic I am for the Terminator.



Saturday, August 09, 2003

Posted by Jake
One More and That Makes Ten

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark 'appears to be getting close to throwing his stars into the 2004 Democratic presidential nominating contest,' the National Journal reports.

'Clark recently phoned one close adviser, who spoke on condition of anonymity, and said, 'Crank it up.' The Clark adviser said that the former NATO chief is smart to stay out of the race until after Labor Day, but not much longer after that. He pointed to the number of debates and forums that the Democratic hopefuls have on tap and the chance that these encounters will do little to clarify the race -- as was the case in the recent AFL-CIO forum in Chicago. The Clark adviser speculated that the general will be better positioned for a run if he has a message that seems fresher for not having been part of the clutter.'
(via Political Wire)

It's a shame. I was really pushing for Dean.




Posted by Jake
Name-calling in the Democratic presidential race (8/8)

I emailed this response to the writers of Spinsanity:

It is unfair to characterize this behavior as purely a phenomenon of the right. Bush has spent practically his entire presidency ignoring aspersions on his intelligence (see any column Maureen Dowd has written in the past two years). Furthermore, should we characterize an entire election or a party based on the behavior of some extremist members? I would not characterize the Democratic party as all like Al Sharpton, and we shouldn't characterize the Republicans by Ann Coulter. Finally, you were citing anonymous Bush advisors. That was what got the NYTimes into trouble in the first place, and it is not fair to say they represent Bush's views.

I will post it if I get a response.



Friday, August 08, 2003

Posted by Jake
Economist.com | Terrorism in South-East Asia

One witness said he had trained in the Philippines at a camp of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a local Muslim secessionist group, before bombing a McDonald’s restaurant in Indonesia.

Somebody in Indonesia is having some fun with acronyms.




Posted by Jake
Ashcroft Orders Tally Of Lighter Sentences (washingtonpost.com)

OK. I admit it. John Ashcroft is beginning to scare me. I was willing to write off what he was doing before as necessary for the war against terrorism, but now he is really starting to freak me out.

I agree with Rehnquist on this issue: Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, the American Bar Association and others strongly objected to the amendment. In a letter to Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), Rehnquist said that the measure "would seriously impair the ability of courts to impose just and reasonable sentences."

Judges are supposed to do just that: judge. I am more than willing to allow them a good bit of discretion on the subject because people get local judges who represent their views on how stringent sentencing should be.

Then there is this other crap about the "Victory Act" which includes:

Increase sentences for drug kingpins to 40 years in prison and $4 million in fines. (via InstaPundit)

What the hell does that have to do with fighting terrorism? Ease off there killer. You are scaring the children.

Furthermore, homeland security and civil liberties is one of the issues that I think the Republicans are the most vulnerable on. Bush should really be paying more attention to this.




Posted by Jake
danieldrezner.com :: Daniel W. Drezner :: Thoughts on the Iraqi resistance

Daniel Drezner has some interesting points about our attempts to fashion a narrative out of an event, when maybe no coherent narrative exists.

My all-time favorite Simpsons line comes at the end of an episode when Marge repeatedly tries to offer what the moral of the story was. At which point the following exchange takes place:

Marge: Well... Then I guess the moral is the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
Lisa: Perhaps there is no moral to this story.
Homer: Exactly! Just a bunch of stuff that happened.

I bring this up in the wake of recent attacks, bombings, and assorted mayhem in Baghdad. Military spokesman, pundits, journalists, and yes, bloggers, are trying to fashion a coherent narrative to events on the ground (e.g., 'Islamic terrorism is on the rise')when there may not be one...
Evidence provided.

I like to trash the BBC and the anti-war left for pushing the quagmire narrative. But while I could very well argue for a competing narrative, the most apt description would probably be that there is no narrative -- or no one narrative.

What is going on, on the ground in Iraq is much too complicated for any one spectator to understand. We are just going to have to trust our benevolence and ride it out.




Posted by Jake
Bush Misuses Science, Report Says (washingtonpost.com)

While I find most Administration tampering with science reprehensible, I think this article is sort of ignoring the fact that scientists are really political, and astonishingly Liberal.

I have read some of the editorials they are citing in Science. Really with any major science journal their is a weekly editorial trashing the Bush Administration.

Partly this is because scientists in general has accepted conclusions the Bush Administration denies: global warming, etc. But also this is because scientists are becoming more and more political and they have selected a different party.

You shouldn't pretend that scientists are apolitical, and more often than not their research reflects this.




Posted by Jake
Liberals Form Fund To Defeat President (washingtonpost.com)

I love how people have finally admitted that they are campaigning to oust Bush. No particular replacement in mind, but Bush has to go.

Why don't they have campaign buttons? Instead of like your normal "Bush, Cheney" or "Gore, Liberman" they could just say "Not Bush 2004."

Sadly enough they may actually have to find someone to run.




Posted by Jake
It All Depends on What You Mean by 'Have' -- Steve Martin

Steve Martin's OpEd in the NYTimes

Let me try and clear it up for you. I think what you were trying to say was, 'At any time, did anyone in Iraq think about, wish for, dream of, or search the Internet for weapons of mass destruction?'

Of course they did have. Come on, Iraq is just one big salt flat and no dictator can look out on his vast desert and not imagine an A-test going on. And let's face it, it really doesn't matter if they had them or not, because they hate us like a lassoed shorthorn heifer hates bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

Finally, all this fuss over 16 lousy words. Shoot, 'Honey, I'm home,' already has three, with an extra one implied, and practically nothing has been said. It would take way more than 16 words to say something that could be considered a gaffe. I don't really take anything people say seriously until they've used at least 20, sometimes 25, words.


Read the whole thing.




Posted by Jake
Ariarnold Schwarzenopoulos! - Plus: Post-Leno recall questions. By Mickey Kaus

Mickey Kaus may have lost his mind. He is suggesting a conspiratorial link between Arianna Huffington and Arnold Schwarzenegger's candidacies. Here's his justification:

1) Arianna's a smart operator, and this could be a good way to snatch a dignified semi-victory from the jaws of defeat; 2) The rationale for the alliance could be their joint interest in ousting Gray Davis and fighting the 'special interests' in Sacramento; 3) They are similar types--witty, ambitious, entrepreneurial, foreign-born celebrities with colorful pasts. They probably both shop at the same Pain Quotidien on Barrington Avenue; 4) There is an obvious link between the two camps--namely, celebriphilic left-wing L.A. Times columnist Robert Scheer, who is Arianna's ill-chosen guru on domestic policy matters but who leapt to Schwarzenegger's defense in 2001 when a now-famous Premiere magazine hit piece on the actor was distributed to reporters by the Gray Davis camp.

My favorite is the link between them being Robert Scheer. First of all, Robert Scheer is a nut, and if you don't believe me read the 8/6 post on Spinsanity. Second, despite the cited "pro-A.S." column I doubt sincerely that Scheer really agrees with Arnold. Maybe he is just reading something I am not.

Arianna is running for Arianna. She is not going to be forming any strategic alliances.




Posted by Jake
Comic Relief in Cairo (washingtonpost.com)

Thank you Washington Post for pointing out the ridiculousness of this international institution.

Perhaps if Iraq had a corrupt and repressive Saudi-style monarchy -- one that forbade women from driving and that sponsored charities that promoted Islamist extremism worldwide -- it might be eligible for recognition. Or maybe the league would be mollified if a coup brought in a military dictatorship like that of member-in-good-standing Libya. Or if the Baath Party somehow returned and installed a leader like Bashar Assad or simply brought back Saddam Hussein, whose "legitimacy" the Arab League never paused to question and whose regime it spared little effort to save. Few organizations demand less democracy as a condition of membership or serve as a bigger tent for thugs and tyrants than does the Arab League.

The Arab League was created for one thing and one thing only: keeping bad people in power. Better the Iraqis stay out of it completely.




Posted by Tanstaafl
WSJ.com - Study Suggests Surge In British Measles Cases:

Nationalized Health-Care: The Wave of the Future. (sorry link requires subscription)

"Measles is posing a growing risk to children in Britain as parents decide against vaccinations for fear of side effects, and researchers warn the disease could become endemic, a constant threat to health.
British researchers report Friday in the journal Science that the level of vaccinated children in Britain has dropped below 80% and that the nation is experiencing more frequent and larger outbreaks of measles."

Brian -- How can they possibly criticize the wonder that is socialized healthcare? It's such a good idea to give everyone free medical care, and it has the best of intentions, so we really ought to be able to ignore the fact that it doesn't work. Measle epidemics and people dying while waiting for surgery are small prices to pay for easing our guilt that there are poor people in the world.

James -- Easy big guy. If you criticize their systems with your sarcasm, Canada and Britain might team-up and invade.

Brian -- Yes, it probably would take both of them to properly get their asses kicked by us.



Thursday, August 07, 2003

Posted by Jake
Public trust in BBC plummets

Trust in the BBC has been so deeply damaged by the weapons dossier affair that the corporation has lost the faith of a third of the British public in less than a year.

Just nine months ago the corporation's main news channel, BBC1, commanded the trust of 92% of the public. A new survey by Mori, however, has put trust in the BBC at only 59% - a massive 33% drop.

The report is believed to be the lowest ever level of trust recorded for the BBC, which has traditionally been the nation's touchstone for truthful and accurate news.


Let's hope for regime change at the Beeb.




Posted by Jake
ScrappleFace

Gore's Major Policy Speech Called 'Instant Classic'
(2003-08-07) -- In his first 'major policy speech' since his Saturday Night Live appearance, former Vice President Al Gore today laid out 'a statesman-like vision for America'.

Political scientists and Constitutional scholars have already dubbed the speech a 'classic' calling it the 'Trousers Ablaze Manifesto.'

'Mr. Gore demonstrated his towering intellect,' said one unnamed scholar. 'He essentially said to the President of the United States, 'Liar, Liar, pants on fire!' But it was the way he said it that will ensconce this address in the annals of majestic oratory.'

At a pace reminiscent of a digital metronome, Mr. Gore analyzed the policies of the Bush administration, and concluded 'everything Bush says is a big fat lie, or rather a pattern of big fat lies.'

Scholars continue to lament the passing of this 'policy genius' from the political scene. As one noted, 'Mr. Gore sounded very ex-vice-presidential.'


A good analysis about why Gore is full of s-- is provided by Brian Carnell. As if you didn't know.



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