diet coke for breakfast

Friday, October 31, 2003

Posted by RFTR
From today's Political Journal (sorry, subscriber email only):
"Comedian Dennis Miller's high-profile involvement in the California recall election -- he performed political spin duties on TV on behalf of Arnold Schwarzenegger after the only debate involving all the candidates -- was apparently just a warm-up act for his own political talk show.

CNBC announced yesterday that the edgy comic will host his own five-nights-a week talk show starting in January. It will be taped in Burbank.

Mr. Miller was briefly touted as a possible GOP candidate against Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer next year, but he has apparently decided to bench those ambitions. It's just as well. He would have had to curb his over-the-edge humor on the campaign trail."

This is legitimately disappointing to me. I think he could have had a sincere shot, and at the very least, made the election interesting for non-Californians. Oh well.

Posted by Jake - Girls pummel man who exposed himself - Oct. 31, 2003

A man described by authorities as a known sexual predator was chased through the streets of South Philadelphia by an angry crowd of Catholic high school girls, who kicked and punched him after he was tackled by neighbors, police said Friday.

That'll teach him.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Posted by Jake
Yes, He Warned Us

Sullivan debunks the circulating myth that the President played down the difficulty we would have in post-war Iraq:

Our victory in Iraq is certain, but it is not complete. Centralized power of the dictator has ended -- yet, in parts of Iraq, desperate and dangerous elements remain. Forces of our coalition will engage these enemies until they surrender or until they're destroyed. We have waged this war with determination and with clarity of purpose. And we will see it through until the job is done. As we press on to liberate every corner of Iraq, we are beginning the difficult work of helping Iraqis to build a free and stable country. -- Bush, April 15th

If you are going to misrepresent what the President said, at least read it or listen to it so you can come up with something halfway believable. This is the same as that imminent threat crap. He said it wasn't you yoyos. Read the speech.

Posted by Matthew
More on Lasers: "Warfare at the Speed of Light"

You had mentioned a couple posts back that laser missile defense still seemed too difficult to make work, but was still worth a try. I agree, but actually the technology is more promising than you might think. There is a quiet arms race going on right now, trying to develop cheap solid-state lasers (as opposed to big expensive chemical lasers) which are powerful enough to shoot down missiles or be used as weapons.

Posted by Matthew
End of the world.

Yeah, its gonna happen something like this. (Flash animation, lots of profanity)

Posted by Tanstaafl
GDP growth posts strongest growth in nearly 20 years - Oct. 30, 2003

Well look at that. That's not bad as a metric for recovery.

Posted by Tanstaafl

Posted by Tanstaafl
Vietnam It Isn't (

Mr. Cohen is not often very generous to the Bush administration, which makes this piece all the more important. I can think of several people who I'd like to read it.

Posted by Tanstaafl

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Posted by Tanstaafl

Posted by RFTR
Ananova - Downing Street 'mystified' by Bill Clinton claim

How did we miss this?? There are two explanations: Clinton lies easier than he tells the truth, or, Blair forgot that this had happened to him before. Which do you think is more likely?

Posted by RFTR
Right-Of-Center Bloggers Select The Books That Have Had The Biggest Impact On Their Thinking - Right Wing News (Conservative News and Views)

I got this link through Jake's new favorite site which I think might also be my new favorite site. But this list is certainly interesting...

Posted by Tanstaafl - Anti-rocket laser cannon gets funding - Oct. 29, 2003:

"The laser beam system was successfully tested at the U.S. White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, in February 1996. However, since then, development of the project had been held up by skeptics in the U.S. Congress, said an Israeli security official. "

It works, but I'm still skeptical, so I'm going to cut the funding. Sounds like Congress.

This sounds like the first real step toward a workable National Missile Defense. I had a conversation once with a classmate who is now a Lt in the Navy. He opposed a missile defense shield because he said it was technologically impossible. Sure, but once upon a time, manned flight was impossible, portable telephones were impossible, and flame-less light was impossible. The only way these things became possible was by experiment. So why wouldn't we continue to experiment, and then when it works, set the thing up?

Brian -- Because, James, if logic were suddenly introduced to Congress, the entire system would collapse...

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Posted by Jake
Bush a big man on campuses, says Harvard survey - The Washington Times: Nation/Politics

Sixty-six percent said they trust the president as much today as they did a year ago, while 88 percent of the students described themselves as patriotic.


The poll also gave Mr. Bush the lead in a matchup: 39 percent of the respondents said he had their vote; 34 percent favored a "Democratic candidate"; 9 percent would vote for an independent and 18 percent were undecided.

This story is sufficeth to say being spun in a variety of ways. The one I buy: don't write-off the young vote. Voter turnout is going to be huge in the next and election, and the Dems can't rest on their laurels, assuming that students are always going to be hippie activists.

Welcome back to the revolution.

Posted by Jake
My New Favorite Website

So the terrorists attacked the Red Cross on their own frick'n holy month. For those of you who are behind the curve, these people are evil. EEEEEEEvil. It would be morally wrong of us not do everything we can to splatter these bastards despite the whining of the hippies. Do you want to have to explain why the terrorists aren't dead to your children?

'Daddy, why aren't the bad people dead'

'Because of Demi-crats and Europeans.'

Posted by RFTR
True Believers, Please Rise: "The main critique is that it is ridiculously expensive to lease planes, rather than buy them. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the leasing option will cost taxpayers an extra $5.6 billion, though scandal connoisseurs will appreciate that the deal also involves the use of 'special purpose entities,' the accounting mechanisms used by Enron executives in their glory days."

Brooks gives a serious critique of this whole process. James, do you have any insight that might help me understand if this is true or not?

James --

I don't know the specifics of the deal, but I certainly can speak to leasing in general. By and large, Brooks is correct that leasing would be more expensive than buying the aircraft. So, why would anyone in their right mind lease an aircraft? There are several reasons. One, which is probably irrelevant in this case, is concern over residual value risk. Some companies might be worried that they'll be stuck with a worthless plane that they can't sell, so they lease it, and at the end, it's the leasing company's problem to deal with. The other reason is availability of funds. Remember, a 767 can cost upwards of $100 million. Chances are, an airline or cargo carrier doesn't have that kind of cash on its balance sheet and would need to borrow in order to fund a fleet of new 767s. A lease is essentially the loan of equipment instead of money. Because the lessor still owns the plane, and could always take it back if the lessee defaults, the lessor might not need to charge as much interest in order to make the risk of lending profitable. Therefore, it might be less costly for an airline to lease an aircraft instead of borrowing the money to purchase it. But, the government works a little differently. For all intents and purposes, no one borrows more cheaply than the US Government. The rates on US bonds are often used as a baseline interest rate or a "risk-free rate". Boeing had to borrow (probably in the form of corporate bonds) in order to pay to build the planes. You can safely bet that the rate used to calculate the Air Force's lease payments was higher than the Boeing bond rate (otherwise the leases wouldn't be profitable), which in turn is higher than US Treasury rates. Brooks, the GAO, the CBO, and the OMB are probably right, this looks like a bum deal for the tax payers.

Posted by Jake
LILEKS (James) The Bleat

Watched “28 Days Later” and I’m here to tell you: if you see but one blood-vomiting zombie movie this year, let it be this one. It’s “The Omega Man” again, more or less, but better. I wondered why our heroes were defending themselves against the zombies with baseball bats - guys, why don’t you just shoot them? Oh - right. England. Well, this’ll learn you. Never give up your guns. There might be zombies about. In any case, why is it whenever you find yourself the last man on earth, you have to worry about zombies? It would be nice if once - just once! - the plague / bomb / solar flare / secondhand smoke that wiped out 99.4% of humanity left, oh, only supermodels and portrait painters alive. Or engineers and chefs. Then the survivors could look around, say, well then! and enjoy the rest of their lives without worrying about the living dead.

Posted by RFTR - Universal health care is not a viable option: "It is essential, however, not to let emotion cloud logic."

Written by a good friend of mine, and worth a close read.

Posted by Jake
lgf: Krugman Meltdown

LGF tears Krugman a new one for his new piece on Lt. Gen. Boykin.

I don’t have time to fisk the whole thing (it pretty much fisks itself anyway), but one sentence really sticks out:

Why won't the administration mollify Muslims by firing Lt. Gen. William Boykin, whose anti-Islamic remarks have created vast ill will, from his counterterrorism position?

“Mollify?” This sentence makes more sense if you substitute the first synonym for “mollify” listed at Merriam Webster’s dictionary: “appease.” He excuses the noxious hatred of Mahathir Mohamad, while at the same time calling for General Boykin to be fired for creating “vast ill will” ... it’s just sick, and totally ignores the fact that Islamic ill will toward America and Israel existed long before these charges against General Boykin were trumpeted around the world by our feckless, self-hating media.

Good point.

UPDATE: Kevin Drum at CalPundit defends Krugman and asks for Lushkin at NRO's resignation for pointing out Krugman's self-evident double standard.

I got news for you Drum. You can poke holes in the weakest argument Lushkin made (I will leave you to decide whether you believe him), but Krugman will just provide the world with thirty more examples in his next column. Endemic racism in the Muslim world gets a pass, but a general makes a comment and the PC police storm the building.

Posted by Jake
Defending the idle rich?

These pop culture sneers do reveal a libertarian dilemma: to put it delicately, defending the right of the idle rich to inherit their wealth in its entirety is one of the knottier positions to advocate in public. This resentment of the inheriting class is particularly acute during a slow economy. It's easy to defend property rights in the abstract. It's harder to defend the property rights of those who are perceived to be dumb-ass dilettantes.

Take me. Readers of this blog know that I think concerns about economic inequality are misplaced. However, whenever I see a promo for the Hilton sisters on television, I find myself reflexively muttering under my breath, 'they'll be the first ones up against the wall when the revolution comes.'"

He goes on to explain why he doesn't buy some of the arguments for the estate tax. I will give you one more. We need the idle rich. Why? Because there is no schadenfreude sweeter than realizing that being rich doesn't make you happy, that someone born with everything can still find a way to think they have nothing.

It's like watching Jerry Springer. It just makes you feel so much healthier.

Posted by Tanstaafl

Posted by Jake
Miller Time?

And there's this, from a "Tonight Show" appearance back in February: "I say we invade Iraq and then invade Chirac. You run a pipe--you run a pipe from the oil field right over this Eiffel Tower, shoot it up and have the world's biggest oil derrick. . . . Yeah. Listen, I would call the French scum bags, but that, of course, would be a disservice to bags filled with scum."

I want to post this whole article. You will note that we have been watching Mr. Miller for some time (here, here, here, and here). This is like a dream come true. Hey, I like politics, but who knew it would actually be fun to watch.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Posted by Tanstaafl - Daily Dish:

"Recent Stanford grad Craig Albrecht says most of his young Bush-supporter friends 'absolutely cherish' South Park–style comedy 'for its illumination of hypocrisy and stupidity in all spheres of life.' It just so happens, he adds, 'that most hypocrisy and stupidity take place within the liberal camp.'"

Anybody know Albrecht?

Jake --

I want to post the rest of this because I think it is really interesting:

SOUTH PARK REPUBLICANISM: It's all part of a new wave in the culture wars in which conservative ideas are making real headway. From Fox to blogs to Cartman, it's a phenomenon, according to Brian Anderson in the new City Journal. It's a long, complex piece, but here's one money-quote:

Talk to right-leaning college students, and it’s clear that Sullivan is onto something. Arizona State undergrad Eric Spratling says the definition fits him and his Republican pals perfectly. "The label is really about rejecting the image of conservatives as uptight squares—crusty old men or nerdy kids in blue blazers. We might have long hair, smoke cigarettes, get drunk on weekends, have sex before marriage, watch R-rated movies, cuss like sailors—and also happen to be conservative, or at least libertarian." Recent Stanford grad Craig Albrecht says most of his young Bush-supporter friends "absolutely cherish" South Park–style comedy "for its illumination of hypocrisy and stupidity in all spheres of life." It just so happens, he adds, "that most hypocrisy and stupidity take place within the liberal camp."

Further supporting Sullivan’s contention, Gavin McInnes, co-founder of Vice—a "punk-rock-capitalist" entertainment corporation that publishes the hipster bible Vice magazine, produces CDs and films, runs clothing stores, and claims (plausibly) to have been "deep inside the heads of 18–30s for the past 10 years"—spots "a new trend of young people tired of being lied to for the sake of the 'greater good.'" Especially on military matters, McInnes believes, many twenty-somethings are disgusted with the Left. The knee-jerk Left's days "are numbered," McInnes tells The American Conservative. "They are slowly but surely being replaced with a new breed of kid that isn't afraid to embrace conservatism."

But not the humorless, puritanical conservatism of the religious right.

These are the kind of people the Republican party needs to court: young, energized, and leaving the Democrats in droves. The issue for many people our age was and remains that the Republican party can look really lame. Pop culture is always way to the left, leaving young people with an unfortunate choice of following their gut and being uncool or falling into the mainstream. Hopefully as a younger generation come in this will be less of an issue.

Here is the link the full story that Sullivan was posting about. Haven't read it yet.

Posted by Jake
Suicide Attacks Kill Dozens in Baghdad (

The attack stunned employees of the Red Cross, a non-political humanitarian organization that has generally been immune from attacks in other hostile areas. 'We're shocked,' said Nada Doumani, a Red Cross spokeswoman here.

'We were always confident that people knew us and that our work here would protect us,' she said. 'This is completely un-understandable.'

This is very unfortunate, but it is not un-understandable. These people are not fighting the Bush administrations illegal occupation of Iraq, leaving those Westerners who are opposed to it untouched. They are fighting the West as whole, and the Red Cross is thrown in with it.

I can understand this woman's frustration. She is there to help. I hope that this doesn't contribute to the already problematic exodus of aid workers.

Brian --There's another factor that I'm surprised no one has brought up. The Red CROSS is a christian-based organization. It's largely secular at this point, but those were its beginnings. There is a related organization in the muslim world known as the Red Crescent, which does the same sort of work from a muslim standpoint. Should this really be all that surprising?

Posted by Tanstaafl - At least 10 dead in Baghdad blasts - Oct. 27, 2003

I can remember several instances when Muslims prevailed upon the US to suspend military operations during Ramadan. It's interesting that the Baathists would attack now in such a devastating way.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Posted by Jake
The division of labor in the blogosphere

Drezner has an interesting post on how blogs mostly fit into two categories:

First, some blogs can act as focal points for information provision. Now, by definition, there can only be one or two focal points. Glenn Reynolds generally acts as one for bloggers. During concentrated crises -- Josh Marshall in the case of Trent Lott's downfall, or Kelley for Operation Iraqi Freedom -- others can spring up. These blogs serve the useful purpose of collecting and distributing already available information to interested readers. In doing so, these individuals help to frame and propel debates of the day. They also reduce search costs for the rest of us....

Second, most bloggers provide value added in the form of criticism and commentary. We don't generate new facts so much as put already existing facts into a larger framework. We then look at other people who do this and comment and critique their efforts. This is my comparative advantage, at least.

A glance at the Blogosphere Ecosystem suggests this division of labor is more stable than Cowen's post suggests. Consider the top ten blogs:

1. Instapundit
2. Eschaton (Atrios)
3. Talking Points Memo
4. Daily Kos / Political State Report
5. The Truth Laid Bear
6. Andrew Sullivan
7. Little Green Footballs
8. CalPundit
9. USS Clueless
10. The Volokh Conspiracy

I'd characterize five of these blogs (Instapundit, Atrios, Daily Kos, N.Z. Bear, and LGF) as primarily portals or focal points. The other five (Marshall, Sullivan, Drum, Den Beste, and Volokh) are more commentary than portal. Given that by definition one would predict portal blogs to be clustered among the top ten, it looks like commentary blogs aren't going anywhere.

Baude is also correct that newcomers to the blogosphere will have to go the commentary route.

Read the whole thing. I would add one more category though: the freaky angry diarist blog. Every so often I run into one that seems to be one protracted act of emotional exhibitionism. Here is an excellent example.

Posted by RFTR
Presidential Debate
John Kerry, in reference to Boykin's comments: "When Boykin talks about 'The Almighty' he gets the White House all confused: Bush thinks he's talking about Cheney, Cheney thinks he's talking about Halliburton, Ashcroft thinks he's talking about him."

HAS THE POLITICAL DEBATE IN THIS COUNTRY REALLY SUNK THIS LOW? I'm appalled that John Kerry could actually feel comfortable saying that in a policy debate. Oh, and by the way, this was in response to a question about American troop strength around the country.

Posted by Jake

Posted by Jake

On the one hand we have this and right next to it we have this.

The first is good news shining through even the NYTimes's lens (despite the requisite dwelling on fears and attacks):

No incidents were reported in Baghdad on Saturday. Still, everyone interviewed complained that they felt unsafe at times, though "things are getting better in a visible way, day by day," said Ali al-Sharif, a restaurant manager.

Behind him in the Alsaah Restaurant, six college girls sat at a table eating lunch — sandwiches and kebab. They said this was the first time they had been out together since the war.

"Life is getting back to normal; we are adapting to the situation, but we are still afraid of bombs," said Rana al-Bidhani, 22, a linguistics student. "It's good to go out again."

The second is these yoyos:

"Don't give Bush 87 billion dollars — don't give him 87 cents," implored the Rev. Al Sharpton, a Democratic candidate for president, referring to the administration's spending plan for military aid and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Give our troops a ride home."

The demonstration borrowed heavily from the imagery of 1960's peace protests over Vietnam, as young people in tie-dyed shirts and bandanas waved placards bearing peace signs and exhorted the White House to "make love, not war."

Here is my favorite:

It's just cool when people come together like this," he said of the antiwar demonstration. "It shows the rest of the world that we're thinking about this stuff and not just going along with it."

So apparently for one to understand what is happeninng in the world one need not necessarily read the news. You just have to "not just go along with it". Nice. It fascinates me how much these protests have to do with these people feeling cool and how little they have to do with the administration's Iraq policy.

InstaPundit linked to these pictures from the protest. This observation from Lileks clearly applies:

If Clinton had risen to the occasion, wiped out al-Qaeda, sent Marines to kick down the statues and put bullets in those filthy sons’ brainpans, this would be the most noble effort of our time. We would hear clear echoes of JFK’s call to bear any burden. FDR, Truman, Marshall Plan, forbearance, patience - the editorial pages of the land would absolutely brim with encouragement and optimism every damn day, because the good fight was being waged, and the right people were waging it. (via the protest post)

Posted by Jake
A Resolution! -- The U.N. is "seized of the matter." Hallelujah.

Vapidity has its fascinations. The resolution EXPRESSES condolences to Iraqis on terrorist attacks (sympathy rarely extended to Israelis, but that's another matter), TAKES NOTE of upcoming meetings of the Governing Council in Iraq, APPEALS for strengthened efforts to be benevolent, and EMPHASIZES, REMINDS, REQUESTS and AFFIRMS all manner of good things. However, it spends not one euro, equips no soldier and dispatches no relief worker.

Read the whole thing.

Posted by Jake
VodkaPundit notes Democratic candidate whining

Not all the Democratic presidential candidates are happy with the hectic primary debate schedule:

"I think the crowded field allows the most shrill, conflict-oriented, confrontational voices to be heard," Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts said Thursday in Iowa, "and not necessarily the person who might make the best candidate or the best president."

Kerry then added that he believes that "elections are just a big popularity contest, and grossly unsuited to picking the best nominee."


Posted by Jake
Democrats give up gun control issue

Howard Dean, the early front-runner this year, proudly tells audiences that the National Rifle Association endorsed him as governor of Vermont. As president, Dean said he would leave most gun laws to the states. The federal government, Dean said in an interview here, should not “inflict regulations” on states such as Montana and Vermont, where gun crime is not a big problem. New York and California “can have as much gun control as they want,” but those states — and not the federal government — should make that determination, he said.

Gee that's odd. I wonder if they are going to start embracing federalism in other areas.

Posted by Jake

Some bassquacker sent in a email criticizing this post on InstaPundit: "But I must also ask, Mr. Reynolds, is this (the woman is the red bikini) all that the United States of America has to offer the world? Is this picture what America is all about?"

Ummm, yeah.

I love Reynolds' response:

As for the rest, I'm not a "conservative." I'm strongly pro-bikini. I don't believe in "traditional family values" as a political platform. I'm more in the Democracy! Whiskey! Sexy! category. If that bothers, you, too bad. There are plenty of other blogs out there.

Damn right.

Posted by Tanstaafl - Attackers target Wolfowitz's Baghdad hotel - Oct. 26, 2003

Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard pulled an injured man out of one of the rooms that had been destroyed by rocket fire. Just thought that someone should mention that heroism.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Posted by Tanstaafl - Clinton brokers AIDS drugs deal - Oct. 24, 2003:

"Former President Bill Clinton announced Thursday that his foundation and four pharmaceutical companies have reached an agreement to reduce the cost of HIV/AIDS drugs by at least 45 percent in about a dozen Caribbean nations and four African countries. "

I think this is an extremely worthy effort for a former President. Admirably, President Clinton has not done much pontificating on policy issues. It looks like he's using his influence and political knowledge to help people in a non-partisan way.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Posted by RFTR
National Review Online ( "For some reason or another, a series of enormously important issues — the future of the Middle East, the credibility of the United States as both a strong and a moral power, the war against the Islamic fundamentalists, the future of the U.N. and NATO, our own politics here at home — now hinge on America's efforts at creating a democracy out of chaos in Iraq. That is why so many politicians — in the U.N., the EU, Germany, France, the corrupt Middle East governments, and a host of others — are so strident in their criticism, so terrified that in a postmodern world the United States can still recognize evil, express moral outrage, and then sacrifice money and lives to eliminate something like Saddam Hussein and leave things far better after the fire and smoke clear. People, much less states, are not supposed to do that anymore in a world where good is a relative construct, force is a thing of the past, and the easy life is too precious to be even momentarily interrupted. We may expect that, a year from now, the last desperate card in the hands of the anti-Americanists will be not that Iraq is democratic, but that it is democratic solely through the agency of the United States — a fate worse than remaining indigenously murderous and totalitarian."

Whether you agree or not, you must admit it's a good point.

Posted by RFTR
Talking Presidents: Ann Coulter Talking Action Figure (via Andrew Sullivan)

This is unbelievable. Jake, I know you're gonna get one ASAP.

Posted by RFTR
Did I Violate the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban? - A doctor ponders a new era of prosecution By Warren M. Hern: "Then I inserted my forceps into the uterus and applied them to the head of the fetus, which was still alive, since fetal injection is not done at that stage of pregnancy. I closed the forceps, crushing the skull of the fetus, and withdrew the forceps. The fetus, now dead, slid out more or less intact. With the next pass of the forceps, I grasped the placenta, and it came out in one piece. Within a few seconds, I had completed my routine exploration of the uterus and sharp curettage. The blood loss would just fill a tablespoon."

I'm sorry, but this column did the opposite of persuade me that partial-birth abortion should remain legal. The fact of the matter is, I'm not worried about whether or not the woman described here came out ok or not. The image of a doctor crushing the skull of a fetus with forceps is a barbaric one, and solidified in my mind an opinion on which I had previously been anything but decided.

Posted by RFTR | North Fulton | Student expelled over diary

This was blogged on Best of the Web today. Roswell High School is a Bakers Dozen tour stop on every spring tour. Our musical director from two years ago attended Roswell High, as did a current sophomore in the group. I have been to this high school twice. Small world.

Posted by RFTR
OpinionJournal - Xtreme Politics

I'm a little worried about Mr. Henninger, if I'm reading this column correctly. The overall tone here seems to be one of frustration, helplessness, and futility. Did anyone else see it this way?

Posted by Tanstaafl
Anti-Terrorism Prescience

Daniel Drezner is commenting on the debate between TAP's Matthew Yglesias and TNR's Rich Lowry about whether the Clinton Administration should have known enough to fight terrorism more aggresively and whether conservatives were advocating such a policy at the time.

Drezner shows that the Weekly Standard was fairly prescient on the issue, but so was Paul Bremer. Bremer's piece is definitely worth reading, if for no other reason than it's an instructive peak into the mind of the man running the CPA in Iraq.

Posted by Tanstaafl
CIA rebuffs Senate criticism on Iraq:

"The CIA on Friday rejected Senate criticism of its prewar reports on the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, saying it’s too soon to conclude the intelligence was unfounded while the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq continues."

About time.

Posted by Tanstaafl

Posted by Tanstaafl
Krugman ignores tax cut stimulus effects:

"If that $300 billion had been used to employ workers directly — a new W.P.A., anyone? — it would have created six million jobs."

Sure, at $50K a year, $300 billion leads to $6 million jobs. But is it efficient job creation? Are they jobs we need? If you want to employ people to add to public goods like building highways, that's fine, but I doubt that would keep $6 million people busy. I wasn't there in the 1930s, but my understanding is that the WPA had a lot of people just digging ditches. By forcing the people to give less money to the government in the form of taxes, you give them the ability to spend it on things that they truly want or need, and that $300 billion still makes it back into the economy. Sure some of it people will save. But what happens to money when people save it? In America, we typically open a bank account and deposit the money. The bank then takes that money and either invests it or lends it to someone who needs it to say start a company (employing people) or to build a new house (employing people). I thought Krugman was a noted economist; he never seems to follow the money.

UPDATE: Econopundit has a more technical critique of Krugman.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Posted by Matthew
Office 2003 Editions: Compare Them to Previous Versions

All in all, I generally like microsoft's products... but this highlights their seemingly compulsive need to interpret "innovate" to mean adding craptacular features that cause problems or "enhancing" previous versions craptacular features to cause even more problems.

Posted by Tanstaafl
Re: Something Witty for Breakfast

Knowing you and your friends, it should be "Beer for Breakfast". That aside, why would you want the name to be a spin-off of this? Why don't you come up with something completely original?

BTW, the orange on your site is a bit jarring. You might go with something a little more pleasing to the eye.

Brian --Ok, I've got a working title now, and the offensive Blogger-Orange is gone. Still hosted at, so let me know what you think...

Posted by Tanstaafl
How to Lose a Friend (

"It does not help German-American relations that Germany has been proved right on the case for war."

I don't think so.

Posted by RFTR
I need a witty title for a blog that is a spin-off of diet coke for breakfast. Any suggestions?
If you're curious as to why, I'm going to build a blog in a similar vein with my friends at yale, and I'd like it to make reference to diet coke.
It's currently hosted here with the stupid name of "Something Witty For Breakfast" until I (or you) come up with something better.

Posted by Tanstaafl - Democrats vow to block prescription drug compromise - Oct. 23, 2003:

"Forty-one Democratic senators have signed a letter to President Bush saying they would oppose the Medicare prescription drug compromise now being negotiated by a House-Senate conference committee."

Is blocking a COMPROMISE popular with anyone except your extreme base? Why do politicians (Republicans and Democrats alike) always forget that the swing voter in the middle is who controls policy in the end?

Posted by Tanstaafl
LILEKS (James) The Bleat

Maybe it's just because I read it early in the morning, but I found this entire column hilarious

Posted by Tanstaafl - Muhammad blames toothache for lawyer switch - Oct. 23, 2003:

"John Allen Muhammad said in a bench conference with the judge in his murder trial Wednesday that he decided to return to his court-appointed counsel because of a toothache, according to a court transcript. "

Maybe he's trying to build evidence for an insanity plea.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Posted by Jake
What have we learned today?

1) Keep a copy of the template on your hard drive.
2) No one screw with it because you will turn the blog orange (you know who you are).

Posted by RFTR

Posted by Tanstaafl
Bowling Ball Mortar Page:

Bursar should have one of these. Matt, please make sure he sees it.

Posted by RFTR
Full Disclosure on Leaks: "The most serious kind of leak is the unauthorized disclosure of national security information. Robert Novak's revelation that the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson was a C.I.A. 'operative' falls into this category. Mr. Novak's source, by revealing the wife's name without approval from the C.I.A., has potentially compromised national security."

I'm lost. Why did the NYT publish this today? This story is weeks old and floundering. This piece doesn't say anything that hasn't already been said in every newspaper across this country at least 10 times. Am I missing something?

Posted by RFTR
OpinionJournal - OpinionJournal's Political Diary: "The former Vermont governor now has the clearest path to the Democratic nomination of any candidate. If he wins in Iowa, he knocks out Dick Gephardt. If he wins in New Hampshire, he knocks out John Kerry. By then he'd likely be unstoppable, notwithstanding the inevitable Joe Lieberman, Wesley Clark or John Edwards claim to be the 'stop-Dean' candidate. The only way to stop Dean is to defeat him early, which is why we've seen Messrs. Gephardt and Kerry pounding away at him on perceived weak spots, like Medicare and trade, from the left."

Granted, I haven't been conscious for many presidential primary seasons, but does Dean winning Iowa and New Hampshire really knock out Gephardt and Kerry, respectively?
Also, the 'stop-_____' character, to my thinking, never seems to be an effective candidate. Positioning yourself like that automatically says "he's more liked than I am, but we've got to stop him anyway." It's like assuming you'll get a C on a test and trying to do better instead of shooting for the A from the start.

Posted by Tanstaafl - Lawyer: State has no right to rule in Schiavo case - Oct. 22, 2003:

"'Each of us -- and the Florida Supreme Court has said this -- has a right to control our own body,' said George Felos, who represents Michael Schiavo. 'We have a fundamental right to make our own medical treatment choices, and the state doesn't have a right to override our wishes.' "

Sure, however, my understanding is that she did not leave instructions. So, maybe we should help keep her alive until she wakes up and then ask HER what she wants to do. This lawyer's argument doesn't seem to justify the husband's case.

Posted by Tanstaafl
Leaked Rumsfeld Memo to DoD "Sr. Mgmt"

Read the memo. It doesn't say what the headlines claim. You can tell that Rumsfeld still thinks like a CEO.

Posted by Tanstaafl - Husband sues Liza Minnelli for $10M - Oct. 21, 2003:

"Producer David Gest sued Liza Minnelli for $10 million Tuesday, accusing his estranged wife of alcohol-fueled violence that caused neurological damage and headaches. "

So what you're saying is that she beat you up...

Posted by Tanstaafl - Brothers sue Net company, win $4.3 million - Oct. 21, 2003: "Three brothers were awarded $4.3 million -- and stand to win more in punitive damages -- after accusing X10 Wireless Technology of trying to bully them out of business."

The X10 camera guys have to pay out to the guys who invented the "on-close" pop-up. What a crazy world.

Posted by Tanstaafl
A Dose of Reform ( "We could not agree more. Why should low-income families pay 75 percent of the bill for Ross Perot to have a checkup? Under our proposal, 98 percent of seniors would continue to pay only 25 percent of their Part B premium, as they would under current law. "

I'm not clear on how Medicare works, but would Ross Perot even be using it, or would he have medical insurance as part of a retirement package?

Posted by Tanstaafl

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Posted by Tanstaafl

Posted by Tanstaafl

Posted by Tanstaafl
The Advocate - Monkey business causes chaos in Stamford:

"'I don't think it's a good idea to be driving around with a chimpanzee in your car that can easily escape,' DellaBianca said. 'An animal like this could easily kill a human.'"

Posted by Tanstaafl

Instapundit's web host is under attack, so Glenn Reynolds is posting here for now. I think Daniel Drezner might be under a DOS attack as well, but I haven't seen anything on it and I'm not sure if he's on "Hosting Matters".

Posted by RFTR
Iran to Suspend Uranium Enrichment, Permit U.N. Inspections of Nuclear Program (
Bush Says Pact With N. Korea Possible (

Wow. The Bush team is really messing up foreign relations. Iran has promised to stop its Uranium enrichment, and North Korea is willing to take steps to halt its program in exchange for the US promising not to attack them. What could have created the fear that we might attack? Certainly not the case where we attacked another country (Iraq, was it?) for the same reason. No, it must have been Bill Clinton's promise of food and cash for them to stop--which they flaunted and ignored before demanding more appeasement. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Ms. Albright, before you shout more criticism in French, from France.

Posted by Tanstaafl - Sci-Fi channel may sue NASA for UFO documents - Oct. 21, 2003:

"Last year Sci-Fi joined forces with an investigative journalist, a Washington, DC law firm, and former President Clinton chief of staff John Podesta, to gain release of documents relating to an incident it calls 'the new Roswell,' a UFO sighting in Kecksburg, Pennsylvania in 1965. "

Interesting that a former White House CoS would be involved in something like this.

Posted by RFTR
GOP Sees Gephardt as Toughest Rival for Bush ( "In interviews with nearly two dozen Republican strategists, lawmakers and state chairmen across the country, including several close to the White House, Gephardt was portrayed by a majority as the Democratic candidate best prepared and positioned to defeat President Bush in a head-to-head matchup next year. The reasons, they said: Gephardt consistently supported the Iraq war, enjoys unrivaled support among union leaders and hails from the Midwest, where many Republicans believe the presidential election will be decided. They also cited his health care plan, experience and discipline as key factors. "

I've been thinking this for a while, and I'm glad to hear it laid out so plainly. Were he to win the Democratic nomination, Gephardt might have the highest chance of beating Bush. We'll obviously have to wait for Iowa, New Hampshire, and the rest of the primaries, but at the moment I don't think he's poised to overtake Dean or Kerry. (I think Clark is a passing fad who will never win the nomination.) But, were he to come out on top, I think Bush will have his hands more full than he would with any other contender.

Posted by Tanstaafl

Posted by RFTR - France's NATO Gambit (sorry, subscribers only): "NATO is the ultimate coalition of the willing. An alliance of democracies, it can only exist if its members agree to remain united. That's why the French effort to create an independent European defense organization, with a separate headquarters, needs to be understood as an attempt to undermine the only official institution that binds the West."

As much as I hate this idea, thanks to France, I'm becoming increasingly isolationist. My instinct when I read this paragraph was to say "Fine, screw you. See how well your organisation works when we stop providing any of your defense, and running to your pet causes in Africa. Create your own organisation, we'll withdraw from NATO and form a new group with the Italy, Spain, Britain, and the Eastern European Block that wants to join us. Oh, and that missile shield we're building that we were going to include Europe under? If we see a missile heading for France or Germany, we wish you the best of luck."

I realize that this is a very immature view, and we do need foreign relations, but we have to draw the line somewhere. We have done, and continue to do so much for the stability of the world, and France, and to a lesser extent Germany, continue to ignore that fact. The entire purpose of the Bush Doctrine is to keep the world safe from a threat before it becomes imminent. Up to this point, France has been a minor annoyance, but if Chirac continues to behave the way he has been, he could threaten the future of the planet. Maybe one more "unilateral" action is in order?

Posted by RFTR
The Volokh Conspiracy: "Can North Korea blackmail us? Assume that the North Koreans want nuclear weapons to blackmail the United States, and not just for deterrence. They offer to sell us a nuclear weapon for $100 billion, or, if we decline to buy, to sell it to al Qaeda for $1 million. Would we buy?"

This is an interesting and terrifying possibility. To put this in perspective, you might also like to read this, from today's OpinionJournal:The Terror Ahead: A nuclear attack? Be very afraid.

Posted by Tanstaafl
The Volokh Conspiracy:

"Now I'm not a smoker and I don't like cigarette smoke, but I hate it when they do this . . . and what's more galling is that this statewide ban is justified by the need to create a level playing field so those cities (like Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville) that have instituted such a ban don't lose business to neighboring cities.

One time I went home to L.A. and somehow (how???) I got talked into going out to a club; it was so pleasant that there was no cigarette smoke, but in my soul, it wasn't worth the knowledge that regulation is at work. "

Having lived in CA for several years and then returning to the East Coast, one of the most dramatic changes was smoking in bars. I hate cigarette smoke, but I understand that bars are the last public, social refuge for smokers. When CT announced it's ban (which has gone into effect for restaurants and will begin for bars in April), I was dismayed at the paternalism of the state government. Now that there's no smoke in restaurants, I'm still frustrated on principled and ideological grounds, but am very pleased on a selfish, practical level.

Posted by Tanstaafl

Monday, October 20, 2003

Posted by Tanstaafl - Barbara Bush calls Democrat line-up a 'sorry group' - Oct. 20, 2003:

"However, Mrs. Bush said the current president frequently declined to do what she said. 'He still doesn't take my advice, that dirty dog.' "

Posted by Jake
Laser Weapons (via VodkaPundit)

In theory, that means a liter of everyday Army diesel fuel costing as little as $1 will generate enough rapid-fire laser pulses to destroy a standard airborne missile. The job now falls to Patriot missiles costing $3 million apiece.


Posted by Jake
2 Top Democrats Will Not Contest Iowa's Caucuses

For one thing, they said, the large number of candidates still in the race means caucuses will be less decisive in winnowing the field. In addition, the Democratic calendar would appear to give candidates other ways to get onto the field, and Mr. Lieberman and General Clark are looking to Feb. 3 to make their mark. The scattered geography of that day's voting will put a premium on television advertising, not on the time-consuming barnstorming that is required in Iowa and New Hampshire.

I disagree completely. The large number of candidates still in the race means winning the early caucuses is absolutely critical. If Dean wins Iowa, he is going to become even more of the media's darling and the press is not going to give the others the time of day.

Lieberman and Clark are counting on their standing in national polls to carry them to a primary victory, but it doesn't work that way.

Posted by Tanstaafl
Sniper suspect to act as own lawyer

Sounds good to me. Anything that will make this trial go more easily sounds like a good idea.

Posted by Tanstaafl
The Iraqi Monkey Trap ( "'The Bush administration has stuck its hand into a coconut called Iraq, grabbed a fistful of oil and control, and now is finding it difficult to get out. It is trapped by its power and its greed. Now it screams for help from the United Nations (which it had earlier dismissed as irrelevant and inconsequential). And all the administration would have to do is to turn loose some control, and it might be able to withdraw with dignity.
'But like the monkey, it places greater value on the spoils of war than on freedom for the Iraqi people, reconciliation with the world order and what might very well be the soul of our nation.'"

This works on the assumption that UN or European control would be good for the Iraqi people. I think that's a highly questionable premise.

Posted by Tanstaafl - Latest Posts

I heard Bill O'Reilly advocate a Bush-Rice ticket in an interview a few months ago with Tim Russert. I remember thinking at the time that for once O'Reilly had a really good idea.

Posted by Tanstaafl
The Volokh Conspiracy

Ridiculous. Obviously, the point of patents and copy rights is so originators can make a reasonable profit on their work before someone else scoops it up and steals the market. That way, originators keep originating. But 95 years? That seems a bit excessive.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Posted by Jake

Posted by Jake
A Dislike Unlike Any Other? -- Writer Jonathan Chait Brings Bush-Hating Out of the Closet

Mainstream journalism, with its traditional parameters, has somehow failed to connect with the notion that there are lots of Americans who walk around sputtering about Dubya -- despite fairly healthy approval ratings for a third-year incumbent. The press was filled with stories about Clinton-haters, but Bush-hating is either more restrained or more out of control, depending on who's keeping score.

Why is the WaPo just putting this together? There is no closet here. This has been happening for like the last three friggin years.

Posted by Jake
America Must Let Iraq Rebuild Itself

From Ilad Alawi, current rotating president of the Iraqi Governing Council:

First, it is vital to call up the Iraqi Army and the national police force, at least up to mid-officer level. The coalition's early decision to abolish the army and police was well intended, but it unfortunately resulted in a security vacuum that let criminals, die-hards of the former regime and international terrorists flourish. And the coalition's plan to build a 20,000-member lightly armed force mostly responsible for security and border control would make poor use of a valuable resource: the 300,000 Iraqi soldiers who simply went home with their weapons in the face of the American-led invasion.

Most of these soldiers are Iraqi patriots who chose not to fight for Saddam Hussein. Americans should not confuse the Iraqi Army with the hated Republican Guard, which Saddam Hussein created precisely because he distrusted the legitimate military. In one simple process, the coalition authority can support the governing council to call the army back to its barracks for retraining and, ultimately, for redeployment. Most soldiers and their officers will proudly return to their units and contribute to their country's future.

We didn't do this in the first place because we were concerned that the existing military would be to associated with the ancien regime to be accepted. Maybe we were wrong. I have been reading about the ex-soldiers protesting lack of jobs. With a reasonable vetting processing to get out the bad apples and a whole lot of retraining, we could kill two birds with one stone. It would certainly speed the withdrawl process (and this).

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Posted by Jake
The fur flies and crawls and bites

The roundup, though, triggered a grisly secondary crisis — cannibalism.

Minks have been raised on farms in the United States and Europe for more than a century — and farmed minks make up about 80 percent of the fur content in mink coats and stoles. But unlike cows or pigs, minks are not even close to being domesticated. The short-legged, needle-toothed members of the weasel family remain wild predators in their cages. They will bite just about anyone who tries to touch them.

Farmed mink get along reasonably well with each other, but only if they grow up as littermates in the same cage. When minks from different cages are tossed in together — as happened with the animals released and captured here — they often have an insatiable desire to kill and eat each other.

“There is no way to stop it, because you can’t tell who is related to who,” Roesler said. “Ten to 20 a day are still eating each other.”"


About 1,000 or so minks remain unaccounted for — and it is the fate of those missing minks that foments an especially heated animal rights debate.

The Animal Liberation Front, in its claim of responsibility that was e-mailed to local news media, declared that farm-raised mink, once free, can “survive and flourish in the wild.” The group’s Internet missives insist that it is a self-serving canard to suggest otherwise.

Where do these people come from?

Now granted they say at the end that some of the mink are doing quite well destroying livestock, eating endangered species, and molesting citizens. In fact, "Jeffery Weaver, who owns a pair of night-vision goggles, has observed them adapting, with apparent aplomb, to life on the wild side. He said he has sat up all night on his wooded, creek-braided three-acre property and, wearing his night-vision gear, watched minks nibble on ripe blackberries, catch small salmon and kill his ducks."

This is of course after the vast majority of them were killed by the locals or ate each other.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Posted by Jake

Posted by Jake - Security Council passes Iraq resolution 15-0 - Oct. 16, 2003

Key points:

1. Symbolic recognition of the Iraqi Governing Council as the government of Iraq by the UN

2. Diplomatic cover to countries that would want to send troops to Iraq but needed a resolution, France, Germany, and Pakistan won't be giving us any aid or troops (who really cares)

3. Deadline of December 15th for the Iraqi Governing Council to issue a timeline for a constitution and elections

Take home: No real concessions by the US and the people who weren't going to give us money and troops anyway still aren't, the Iraqi governing council gets some legitimacy, and some other countries (like India for troops and Japan for money) might jump in

Bully for us.

Posted by Tanstaafl

Posted by Matthew
Great Moments In Socialized Medicine

Synopsis: England - Granny has bad hernia. Waits seven months in pain for operation. Gets fed up, whips up a batch of fake bloody vomit and calls the paramedics. Duped, they take her to the hospital, she is examined, and surgery takes place the next day. Afterwards, doctors say it was a good thing too because she would have died soon otherwise.

Posted by Tanstaafl :: Daniel W. Drezner :: Is it about the schools?:

"As fate would have it, John Sviokla and Marvin Zonis have a Chicago Tribune op-ed today that says we should be in Iraq to reopen schools. The highlights:
While security is crucial to meet these challenges, the most effective means for making Iraq a future democratic and market-oriented country that will serve as the exemplar for other Arab states is its education system."

One of the major points that last year's UN report on the Arab world and it's problems was the region's lack of focus on academic education as opposed to religious education:

"The Arab Human Development Report, released today in Cairo, says the oil-rich region has wasted its great potential because of its failure to permit political freedoms, its suppression of women's rights, and its falling education standards."

As the reports Executive Summary States:

"These have their roots in three deficits: freedom, women’s empowerment, and knowledge. Growth alone will neither bridge these gaps nor set the region on the road to sustainable development. The way forward involves tackling human capabil ities and knowledge. It also involves promoting systems of good governance, those that promote, support and sustain human well-being, based on expanding human capabilities, choices, opportunities and freedoms (economic and social as well as political), especially for the currently poorest and most marginalized members of society. The empowerment of women must be fully addressed throughout."

Posted by Tanstaafl
LILEKS (James) The Bleat: "I mean, if you called a movie “Kevin Bacon Gets A Harpoon in the Groin, and Deservedly So” people will line up around the block. It’s not because people necessarily harbor any great burning hate for the fellow, but there had to be some payback for “Footloose,” and this is it. "

Yikes. Read the rant about Tarantino and "Kill Bill"

Posted by Tanstaafl
KRT Wire | 10/15/2003 | Cubs fan who caught pop-foul ball a marked man in Chicago:

"The Chicago Tribune did not identify the fan in Tuesday's edition amid a national debate about whether it would endanger his safety. It was decided to use his name after Bartman issued a statement that explained his actions and apologized."

Seems like a bit of a tragic figure at this point.

Posted by Jake :: Daniel W. Drezner :: The post-war debate about the pre-war rhetoric -- part III

Drezner tears apart dissembling about Bush's pre-war speeches.

You are correct that Bush states that we cannot know whether the threat is imminent. But the conclusion you draw from that is not supported by the actual text, nor is supported by the context of the debate about war against Saddam. He is arguing that the concept of imminent threat is inapplicable to the problem of Iraq. He is saying that we cannot know if the threat is imminent, but that given what we do know about Iraq, it doesn't matter. He then immediately goes to show why it doesn't matter by saying that if we permit the threat to fully emerge, if we allow the threat to become imminent, we have waited too long.

Posted by Jake - Iraq resolution picks up key votes - Oct. 16, 2003

CNN) -- Russia, France and Germany will vote for the new U.N. Security Council resolution on Iraq despite some reservations, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said Thursday.

But Schroeder made it clear Germany and France will not be sending troops to Iraq.

Who cares? This resolution has nothing to do with getting more troops and everything to do with Bush getting domestic cover about not "internationalizing" the war. If they send troops great, if not we will do the job without them. Let's see what concessions the US gave when the resolution comes out.

Posted by Jake
The Marriage Buffet -- When it comes to commitment, a lot of options is not a good thing.

David Frum issues this rebuttal to an earlier piece by Andrew Sullivan. I like David Frum but I don't agree with his reasoning. The thrust of his argument, indeed the thrust many arguments against gay marriage is summarized in this statement:

Let's start with a basic premise: The gay marriage debate is perceived by many as a debate about gays. It is not. It is a debate about marriage.

And he's right. Marriage as an institution is not what it was 25 or 50 years ago. To ignore that would be to ignore the research of thousands of sociologists. This change in the institution also has consequences for children, for the individuals involved, and for society as a whole. On these points I also completely agree with Mr. Frum.

I differ from him in how these observations would apply to homosexual marriage. Frum argues that because gay civil unions are unlikely to be the same in the existing political climate as straight marriages a plethora of different systems would arise in different states and municipalities. Such a process has already begun. Because different systems provide different rights and privileges and have different expectations of the individuals involved, it would further blur the "bright clear line" that separates married people from unmarried people, from people who should have children and those who should not. This blurring would not only have deleterious effects on gay unions but also on straight marriages.

I don't buy this argument for a couple of reasons:

1. The bright clear line was blurred way before we started talking about gay marriage. Straight people did that, and I don't think that gay people should have to pay for it.
2. Just because something is politically untenable, doesn't me it isn't right. I would oppose a different system for every city because Frum is right: it makes marriage a lot less of a clear commitment. But this doesn't mean I wouldn't advocate for a clear enunciation of what marriage is for both straight and gay people on a national level.
3. Frum still has not dealt with the social conservatives reluctance to incorporate gay people into society. Andrew Sullivan deals with this waffling in his piece:

The majority of social conservatives oppose gay marriage; they oppose gay citizens serving their country in the military; they oppose gay citizens raising children; they oppose protecting gay citizens from workplace discrimination; they oppose including gays in hate-crime legislation, while including every other victimized group; they oppose civil unions; they oppose domestic partnerships; they oppose . . . well, they oppose, for the most part, every single practical measure that brings gay citizens into the mainstream of American life.


It is one thing to oppose gay marriage (some, but not all, conservative arguments against it are reasonable, if to my mind unconvincing). But it is another thing to oppose any arrangement that might give greater security, responsibility and opportunity to gay couples. At times, the social conservative position is almost perversely inconsistent: Many oppose what they see as gay promiscuity; but even more strongly, they oppose any social measures that would encourage gay monogamy, such as marriage. What, one wonders, do they want?

I think that social conservatives should welcome this debate because it segues away from gay marriage and into just plain marriage. But there continued insistence on holding gay people to a perversely high standard for what would be an acceptable affiliation -- a standard not attained by most straight couples -- continues to baffle me.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Posted by Gina

Posted by Tanstaafl - Author with murky past wins Booker - Oct. 15, 2003: "He promptly pledged to give his 50,000 pound ($82,930) prize to his creditors after one of the most startling prize-givings unfolded on Tuesday in the 35-year history of the famed prize. "

A worthy cause to be sure.

Brian -- really needs to try and become an actual news source. These two lines are 3 paragraphs apart:
"British writer Peter Finlay" and "the 42-year-old writer who was born in Australia, spent time in Mexico and now lives in Ireland."
Explain to me, how is he British?

Posted by Tanstaafl

Posted by RFTR - The Democrats Can Win on Taxes

To be fair, I don't read a lot of Democratic strategy, because I don't want them to do well; I'm much more focused on Republican strategy. However, I have to complement this piece on its clearness of vision. Unfortunately, I find it extremely unlikely that any of the current candidates will adopt it - it's too straighforward.

Posted by Tanstaafl
Germans as Victims ( "One book, by a former German government minister, argues that the planes that hit the World Trade Center may have been secretly steered from the ground. Another -- translated from the French and titled 'The Appalling Lie' -- says that the Pentagon was never hit by a plane at all but was instead deliberately blown up with a bomb. Germany's establishment press has studiously debunked these theories, to little avail: Recently, an opinion poll showed that one in five Germans believe them. "

Is that because 20% of Germans watch Fox News?

Brian -- Slow day at work, James?

Posted by Tanstaafl
Fact-Free News ( "Fully 48 percent of Americans believed that the United States had uncovered evidence demonstrating a close working relationship between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. Another 22 percent thought that we had found the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And 25 percent said that most people in other countries had backed the U.S. war against Saddam Hussein. Sixty percent of all respondents entertained at least one of these bits of dubious knowledge; 8 percent believed all three. "

This guy should read the Kay report. Then we can talk about how "dubious" this knowledge is.

Posted by Tanstaafl
Political Wire: Edwards Will Vote Against Iraq Money: "Dan Conley sums up campaign 2004: 'No matter how much candidates talk about tax cuts, health care, jobs, the nomination is basically a civil war between the Congressional Democrats who voted to authorize the war and the former Governor and former General who, to different degrees, opposed the war. The issue has dominated every debate and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.'"

Not to mention the fact that the Democrats who voted to authorize the war have a real credibility gap when shouting about how "Bush lied". Either they were complicit in his "deception of the American people," or they were gullible enough to be taken in by Bush, even though they have better access to intelligence data than the average citizen. Or maybe, their votes weren't principled in the first place, and just expedient politically.

Posted by Tanstaafl - Gaza bomb kills 3 Americans - Oct. 15, 2003: "No group has claimed responsibility. "

Wonder why that is? Maybe we've got a reputation for hitting hard when American lives are threatened?

Posted by Tanstaafl
Marginal Revolution: Carpets for sale: "Have you ever wondered why Persian carpets always seem to be for sale? Why the stores are always having 'liquidations'? Why the stores are always 'going out of business'?"

Gina noticed this phenomenon when she was shopping for a bed. Why was Sleepy's having its "Best Sale of the Season" on a random Monday? And what counted as a "Season", since they had another equally good sale a few weeks later?

Posted by Tanstaafl - Tech heavy hitter likes Schwarzenegger - Oct. 14, 2003: "On the political front, Ellison applauded the decision to replace California Gov. Gray Davis with actor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
''Commando' is one of my favorite movies,' Ellison said. 'I think [Schwarzenegger] is a very smart guy and his [proposed] policies are a substantial improvement over the former governor.'
Oracle became entwined in a political tempest last year after an audit concluded a $95 million software contract sold to the Davis administration would cost the state $41 million more than if it had stuck with its old software. California signed the contract five days before Oracle submitted a $25,000 campaign contribution to Davis. "

These are the last three paragraphs of this article. The rest of the piece is about Oracle and its "appetite" for acquisitions. So why is the headline about Schwarzenegger?

Posted by Tanstaafl
The Stanford Daily Online Edition

A tradition worth protecting? I suppose I have a slightly vested interest in the event.

Posted by Tanstaafl - Anti-JAG policy quashes law students' free speech rights

This just in: Pierson Sophomore smarter than Law School students and professors.

Brian -- I hate to admit it, because I really don't like him, but Jamie Kirchik is actually a pretty smart kid.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Posted by Tanstaafl
L.A. man: Labels have the wrong guy | CNET "Plank said he has several kinds of proof, including numerous e-mails sent to his clients that include Web-routing information showing that his computer was not using the Internet address identified by the RIAA as linked to file-swapping. Nor are the songs he's listed as sharing--which include a large number of Spanish-language titles--the type of music he'd be likely to listen to, he added. "

Sounds to me that the RIAA doesn't really understand how to use the technology. Of course at this point, that should be obvious. If they knew how to use it, they'd have found interesting and creative marketing applications for it.

Posted by Tanstaafl
The Knowledge Problem: "“Poor Countries Should Not Open Their Markets If Rich Countries Maintain High Trade Barriers”

Big mistake. As the late British economist Joan Robinson once remarked, “if your trading partner throws rocks into his harbor, that is no reason to throw rocks into your own.” "

Posted by Tanstaafl
Medical pot laws survive challenge: "The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that physicians should be able to speak candidly with patients without fear of government sanctions, but they can be punished if they actually help patients obtain the drug. "

I'm not sure how the Supreme Court's affirmation of the 9th Circuit decision "cleared the way Tuesday for state laws allowing ill patients to smoke marijuana if a doctor recommends it," as the article suggests. It's still illegal for the patients to smoke marijuana.

Posted by Tanstaafl
OpinionJournal - Leisure & Arts: "Mr. Rumsfeld, [when he was] 41 years old and U.S. envoy to NATO, took a family vacation to Spain, where he ran with the bulls of Pamplona until forced to seek refuge on a lamppost."

Brian -- I'm surprised he didn't just turn around and stare them down...

Posted by Jake - Daily Dish:

"THE CONSERVATIVE CLOSET: 'With respect to your comment, 'imagine being a right-of-center student at his school': well, imagine working there, or at any other academic institution in the Bay area. I teach at Stanford, which is supposed to be more conservative - when I accepted a position here I was razzed by my liberal friends for my new proximity to that vortex of neocon evil, the Hoover Institution - but here, as everywhere else in the Bay (and academia in general), there is a hegemony of leftist ideology that permits no dissent.

I keep my opinions to myself (I do have an instinct for self-preservation) and can 'pass for liberal,' which means that I get to hear how academics really feel about the role they think conservative ideas ought to play in public discourse (none). Their public line is that they are committed to untrammeled free expression and don't know what all this fuss about 'political correctness' is about -- it's all a plot of Fox News to delegitimize public dissent. Their private stance is that, since the Bush administration is 'evil' (I have heard this exact characterization many times) it doesn't matter how one treats the enemy and his ideas; it's a battle of good against evil, after all. It is taken for granted that any sign of conservative politics will ruin a professor's career. If you get an interview, you will not get hired; if you are hired, you will not get tenure. My colleagues will casually allude to this fact, but it does not trouble them unduly. After all, no-one they know is a conservative.'"

Andrew Sullivan has this letter from a Stanford Prof. I wonder who it is. Stanford really is PCU. I like Sullivan's allusion though. Conservativism in some places has become the new closet. I was having a conversation with someone the other because I was mad they outed me. I actually used the word "outed." I had to spend the better part of two hours convincing the newly aware person that I was not a fascist thug. If people here didn't know already I would have a party.

Posted by RFTR
OpinionJournal - Featured Article

Pity us. Gina and I have to deal with these people on a daily basis. Can't you just picture him reading this in Larchmont Lock-Jaw?

Monday, October 13, 2003

Posted by RFTR

Posted by Matthew
The Fark headline reads:

Note to thieves: If you're going to burglarize a home, make sure it doesn't belong to a Chinese martial arts master nicknamed 'the doctor'

I didn't think things like this acctually happened... this guy is my new hero.

In the Fark comments thread: "I can imagine this "doctor" guy spending his life waiting for a moment like this. All trained and deadly, waiting for a chance to use his violent mojo in a situation where he gets to be a hero."

Posted by Tanstaafl
Saudi Announces Plans to Hold First Elections: "Saudis cannot hold public gatherings to discuss political or social issues, while press freedoms are limited. "

So how will they know how to vote? I know, the Saudi royal family can tell them how to vote.

Posted by Tanstaafl - Men bare all for their local schools - Oct. 13, 2003: "The calendar, which is being sold online for $17, is the latest gambit to raise money for local schools in a state where teachers already have lined up to sell their blood plasma and ranchers have auctioned off the rights to hunt for buffalo and antelope on their property"

Posted by Tanstaafl - MLB - Martinez, Ramirez, Zimmer and Garcia fined - Sunday October 12, 2003 9:22PM: "Then, in the bottom half of the inning, Ramirez took offense to a pitch by Roger Clemens that was slightly inside at most. Ramirez started yelling and walking toward the mound, bat in hand. The benches and bullpens emptied, and Zimmer charged at the 31-year-old Martinez, who threw the 72-year-old coach to the ground."

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Posted by Jake
Rice Fails to Repair Rifts, Officials Say (

WaPo has an inside summary (composed mostly of off the record statements) of the ideological divisions and bureaucratic issues in the Bush foriegn policy. (via OxBlog)

If this stuff is true it is time for shakeup. If you are going to do what we would like to do in Iraq, if you are going to what we would like to do in North Korea, there is no room for two messages.

Posted by RFTR
OpinionJournal - Featured Article: "Then came the shock of this summer's heat wave, which claimed about 14,000 lives. Much of the blame for those deaths, mostly involving the elderly, fell on the 35-hour law, which depleted hospital and nursing home staffs. "

But I thought it was global warming....

Posted by Tanstaafl
Free Jude Shao - An American Unjustly Imprisoned in China: "Jude Shao, an American citizen, is unjustly held in Shanghai Qing Pu prison after wrongly being convicted for Tax Evasion and falsely issuing VAT invoices. He is serving a 16-year sentence. "

A friend mailed me the LA Times article on this man. I don't know if any of the major blogs happened to notice this story, but I think it deserves some attention. I'm as big a proponent of free-trade as you'll find, but in our efforts to open up trade with China, we can't moderate our stance on their treatment of their citizens, or as it turns out, their treatment of OUR citizens.

Posted by Gina - Suspect in backyard burial deaths escapes - Oct. 11, 2003: "Hugo Selenski, who was charged Monday in two of the deaths, and another inmate used bedsheets to escape from the Luzerne County Correctional Facility around 9:30 p.m., officials said. "

I didn't think that this happened any more...

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Posted by RFTR

Friday, October 10, 2003

Posted by Jake
More Good News via Andrew Sullivan (from the CPA's official website)

Six months ago there were no police on duty in Iraq. Today there are over 40,000 police on duty, nearly 7,000 here in Baghdad alone. Last night Coalition Forces and Iraqi police conducted 1,731 joint patrols.

Today nearly all of Iraq’s 400 courts are functioning. Today, for the first time in over a generation, the Iraqi judiciary is fully independent.

On Monday, October 6 power generation hit 4,518 megawatts—exceeding the pre-war average.

Today all 22 universities and 43 technical institutes and colleges are open, as are nearly all primary and secondary schools. Many of you know that we announced our plan to rehabilitate one thousand schools by the time school started—well, by October 1 we had actually rehabbed over 1,500. Six months ago teachers were paid as little as $5.33 per month. Today teachers earn from 12 to 25 times their former salaries.

Today we have increased public health spending to over 26 times what it was under Saddam. Today all 240 hospitals and more than 1200 clinics are open. Today doctors’ salaries are at least eight times what they were under Saddam. Pharmaceutical distribution has gone from essentially nothing to 700 tons in May to a current total of 12,000 tons. Since liberation we have administered over 22 million vaccination doses to Iraq’s many children.

This is what some in this country want to stop. This is what would never have happened if we'd let Saddam Hussein stay in power. It's simply beyond me how anyone can describe this war as about "oil" or about "imperialism" or about "greed" or "militarism." It remains one of the most humanitarian acts in modern history. And, if successful, it could turn an entire region around - a region that has been the main source of real danger to itself and to the West in my lifetime.

Posted by RFTR
OpinionJournal - Wonder Land: "If this is true, Arnold Schwarzenegger upended two other longstanding shibboleths--media bias and the 'litmus test.' "

This is the second time in as many days that I've seen the word "shibboleth" used in a political column. Is this really that well known a term, or did we all just see it on the West Wing a few years ago?

Jake -- The article also had this juicy quote about Arnold:

There's one last, large intangible that Arnold has slipped into the political waters: He's cool.

Like it or not, the force field of celebrity is part of the cultural physics of our era, and it looks as if the first party to get totally wired-in to a mega-celebrity is, incredibly, the GOP. Something weirdly attractive was coming off the Schwarzenegger camp's victory stage on TV round about midnight Tuesday--Arnold, Maria Shriver (a get-out-of-jail-free card for many centrist Democrats feeling trapped in an inhospitable party), Jay Leno's funny introduction, Rob Lowe nearby, Eunice and Sargent Shriver, the extended Shriver clan, and a sea of young, attractive faces. Liberal pundits will mock this scene unmercifully, but in terms of mass-market politics it was as hip as any politician could ever hope for. Arnold, with all that media reach and the aura of living wholly inside the country's popular culture, may be changing ideas of who can live comfortably on election day among the Republicans.

One of my big complaints about being conservative was always that I am surrounded by a pop culture which by and large embraces liberalism. Most producers of cultural consumption are liberals. So what's someone who likes pop culture to do? Arnold is great because he changes the image of a conservative from an uninteresting old, white guy to something so much cooler.

Posted by Matthew
L.A. Times Feeling Backlash From Arnold Story

"More than 1,000 readers of the Los Angeles Times have canceled their subscriptions over the newspaper's reports that Arnold Schwarzenegger had groped or humiliated women over a period stretching to the mid-1970s."

"Between Oct. 2 and Election Day, the Times also logged 1,600 telephone calls, Goldstein said. About two-thirds were critical of the Times' coverage, she said."

Hey, while its only a miniscule dent in their readership, in a market when newspapers are struggling to get and retain readers there is a chance the high-ups at the LA Times are going to think twice about pushing puke stories like this.

Posted by Tanstaafl - Parents: Special ed kids used as janitors - Oct. 10, 2003: "'I don't believe that there's anything wrong with the program, and I don't believe that the staff has done anything that it shouldn't have done,' Melching said. 'The entire situation wouldn't have arisen if it weren't for the fact that we don't have enough community-based worksites in the Heritage High School attendance area.' "

So you didn't realize that the parents of special education children would be upset if you made them clean up the school? And these are America's educators?

Posted by Tanstaafl
Student faces suit over key to CD locks | CNET "Several civil and criminal cases based on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act have been filed against people who distributed information or software aimed at breaking through antipiracy locks."

Well this happened a bit faster than I predicted.

Posted by Tanstaafl
The Deficit Chicken Hawks ( "Congress should gradually raise the eligibility ages for Social Security and Medicare to 69 or 70; make benefits less generous for the well-off elderly; fully tax all Social Security benefits; and eliminate unneeded or wasteful federal programs -- from Amtrak to farm subsidies."

If Amtrak EVER showed up on time, people might use it and it might pay for itself. High fixed costs and low utilization are a recipe for disaster... unless Uncle Sam props you up.

Posted by Tanstaafl
WMD In a Haystack (

Nicely persuasive.

Brian -- It boggles the mind that this is the first piece I've seen clearly lay out these issues.

Posted by Tanstaafl
OpinionJournal - Wonder Land: "Anyone who thinks George Shultz, who was at the Schwarzenegger victory party, would put himself behind an old-school Republican moderate has been overdosing on medical marijuana"

Henninger is sometimes a little arrogant, but boy can he turn a phrase.

Posted by Tanstaafl

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Posted by Jake
Iraq Aid Figure Gives Donors New Confidence

The Japanese are talking in the billions,' said a senior administration official. 'The Europeans are revisiting their earlier numbers. They're all beginning to look at this as a security issue, not a development issue, and they're scrounging for money from other places in their budgets.'

Administration and international aid officials say that after intense American pressure, the initial European pledge of $230 million could expand to several hundred million dollars. If that happens, one official said, the administration will press the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia 'to make sure they are not left behind,' one official said. The administration's senior Middle East envoy, William J. Burns, visited the United Arab Emirates last week to press them for greater contributions.

Even a sum of a few billion dollars for 2004 — only a fraction of the $55 billion identified as needed by Iraq over the next four years — could be trumpeted as a success if it is accompanied by a World Bank report that says that only about $6 billion could be spent on Iraq. In developers' jargon, the $6 billion figure rests on calculations of Iraq's 'absorptive capacity,' meaning that it takes months or years to plan for projects.

Good news is good news.

Matt -- This is good news indeed. I'm kinda surprised at how much people are complaining about the money for this. Granted, it is a lot of dough. Okay a whole lot of dough, but a good investment any way you look at it. The financial and security return on investment will be incredible, every country should be clamoring to scrounge up as much as they can afford to buy in.

James-- Ah Matt, you've been out of the game too long. There shouldn't be any surprise "people" are complaining. They're complaining for purely partisan reasons. The complaint is not "This is going to cost too much", the complaint voiced most often is some variation of "Bush lied about how much this is going to cost," or "We can't afford this because of the Bush tax cut."

Posted by Tanstaafl

Posted by Tanstaafl - Bill Gates answers cop's child porn plea - Oct. 8, 2003

Another example of how profit motive and public service don't need to conflict.

Posted by Tanstaafl

Posted by Tanstaafl
Jobless Claims Lowest in Eight Months ( "For the first time in eight months, the economy actually added jobs in September - 57,000 of them - helping to keep the nation's unemployment rate at 6.1 percent, the government reported last week. "

McAuliffe is going to have his hands full arguing that Bush is to blame for an economy that began souring before he took office and has turned around by the end of his 4 years, even after a massive terrorist attack at the heart of our financial system. His minions will try to make the argument though.

Posted by Jake
Anger Management

Democrats hope to accomplish two things by playing up the 'angry voter' theory. They want to characterize Schwarzenegger's success as the product of irrationality. Californians are so blinded by their rage, say McAuliffe and his colleagues, that they aren't thinking straight, and somehow wound up with the Terminator as governor.

Second, they want to whip up more 'anger' and give it direction. Democrats are banking on being able to convince California--and the rest of the country--that the real target for their anger should be George W. Bush in 2004.

I don't think anyone is buying the 'angry voter' theory -- unless of course you are living in San Francisco. This outcome was a repudiation of a completely Democratic administration that had gotten out of control. I am not ready to call it a shift in California politics to the right -- because that probably is not going to happen, but I will say that the voters have issues the following rebuke: "If the Democrats don't do a good job, we will elect a Republican."

This can't be anything but good for Bush. The economy is improving. As it does, it is the litany suggesting that 'Americans are mad as hell and they are not going to take it anymore' will be revealed as more and more irrational.

Posted by Jake
Political Wire: Quote of the Day

"I made a bet with Gov. George Pataki on the outcome, and the winner gets Connecticut."

-- Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA), in the Boston Herald, on the Red Sox - Yankees playoffs.

Brian -- See, this puts me into a dilemma: I'm a Red Sox fan; but New York doesn't have any blue laws. Either way, I'd like to see Mitt Romney come and try it (thank you Second Amendment).

James-- Hey MA had the minute men. The 2nd Amendment was written for THEM... I wouldn't want to mess with them. They'll dump your tea.

Posted by Tanstaafl
I'm sorry to hear about Reichenthal. He was one of a kind. Let me know if there's anything I can do.

Posted by Matthew
I'll be ba.... hey! I'm back!!!

Ah... finally... getting settled in... lots of ups and downs, but things are looking up all in all...

Short Version beginning mid August:
Two roommates moved moved out to college back east (that's bad)
Needed cheaper place to live (that's good)
Matthew looking for job (that's bad)
One new roommate joined search bringing total to three (that's good)
Housing market for our needs is sparse (that's bad)
Matthew finds job as video game tester at Electronic Arts (that's good)
Lease ran out, Matthew calls Bursar: "Hey Jon, remember how you said I could crash with you for awhile? How about three weeks?" (that's bad)
Jon says, "Er... okay" (that's good)
Can't run internet to my computer at his house (that's bad)
Assigned to play SSX3 at work (that's good)
Searched high and low for a place to live (that's bad)
Found something decent (that's good)
Then old roommate not sure about future in CA (that's bad)
Matthew says "errr......" and reconsiders options (that's good)
Reichenthal gets sick (that's bad)
Matthew starts looking for 1 bedroom apt on his own, finds place (that's good)
Reichenthal passes away (that's awful)
But he goes out with style, sushi was served, asks parents to give his room to Matthew (that's heartwarming)
Matthew begins doing most of his moving on his own out of storage, after work (that's tiring)
Yesterday, Internet was installed (delerium tremors stop)

Well there you have it... Exhausting month and a half, no?

So a few things on the agenda:
1. Happy Birthday Jake!!! I'll try giving you a call on my lunch hour tommorrow, around 1pm, 4 pm eastern.

2. I've got a new address if any of you all care:

723 Marsh Rd #8
Menlo Park, CA 94025

3. Thank you James for the Colusa shout out... at least they vote properly. Unfortunately, Mom was one of the 50 who voted for Camejo... sigh...

4. I've been listening to talk radio, NPR, etc. out here... boy oh boy are people upset. Fear for their life sort of thing. At one point on my morning drive, the crazy voting trends of the bay area were brought up when a commentator said, "Well I know most of our listeners didn't vote for him." I almost had to pull over I was laughing so hard....

Now back to our regularly scheduled program.

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