Saturday, July 19, 2003
The Six Wives of Henry VIII | PBS
How did I miss hearing about this series until today? Probably because I'm not currently watching any TV programs. I saw the book in a store this afternoon, which mentioned the TV tie-in on the cover, and just looked it up. Fortunately, WGBH will be repeating the first episode of The Six Wives of Henry VIII tomorrow at noon... [via BT!]
How fascinating. The White House is putting up obstacles to Internet users who want to contact the President (although the bad press has made them give increasing prominence to his email address). At the same time, Howard Dean is embracing "how the Internet can help us restore active participation in our democracy" as he blogged yesterday. Besides making effective use of Meetup and online fundraising, he's now tried his hand at guest-blogging and when a White House blog was proposed (presuming he wins the election) responded with an open-ended "Why not?"
The Bush Administration and RNC use the Web to disseminate information (including smears against opponents) but makes it harder for the people to communicate with them. Whereas Dean (and other Democratic candidates) have embraced the openness of the Internet and are listening to the people. It'll be interesting to see what happens between now and next November. Depending who wins, this could herald a major change to how campaigns are run.
And in this corner...
Get a load of this screen capture from CNN Headline News, as grabbed by The Voice Unheard!
The threatened Republican was not only younger and taller, but an ex-cop!? This is becoming almost too ludicrous for words; I'm glad CNN provided this picture.
Fruitcakes - no nuts
DailyKos is mocking the GOP for feeling so physically threatened by 72-year-old Rep. Stark (Dem) that they needed to call the cops:
So let's get this straight, the GOP is the party of macho tough men, yet they:
- refuse to serve our nation in uniform; and
- cower in fear from the "physical threats" of a 72-year-old?
I was reading this aloud to my husband, who replied that it had been clear for a long time that the Republican party's belligerance and frequent demands for large missile systems were overcompensating for certain... inadequacies... in their personal endowments.
And this makes sense. Especially when you consider how much trouble the GOP has in attracting and satisfying women voters.
In contrast, Clinton clearly had no trouble winning over the ladies. His problems stemmed from them refusing to leave.
And anybody remember in the 2000 election that Rolling Stone acknowledged they had to airbrush the front of Gore's pants, so not to scare the ladies. [The words "brought down a bit" was apparently used by staffers.] Or how about these photos. I know people have called Gore a big stiff, but still...
Can you imagine the Clintons, Gore, or any of the current Democratic nominees reacting like this to a 72-year-old congressman calling them a wimp and fruitcake? [Stark has apologized for his "intemperate words."] Heck, Jesse Helms threatened Bill Clinton that the general population of North Carolina might be a danger to him, and I don't recall any response from the President.
Whereas one Democrat in a room full of Republicans, and they call out the cops...
The GOP really are bullies who can dish it out but can't take it.
Friday, July 18, 2003
Latest Zogby poll not good for Bush
Daily Kos has the numbers, but I just want to share this money quote by Zogby:
What has been propping up the President in the past few months is his personal favorability rating. To me, what is most ominous is this alone has slipped 9 points in the past month. If he cannot count on a large majority of Americans to like him personally, this could spell doom for his re-election hopes because he has little support for his overall performance and how he is rated on the issues.
As Steve Gilliard explains in a subsequent post, "if someone is running for office and they don't clear 50 percent, even if they are leading their opponent, they can lose the election. Why? If less than half the public is willing to vote your after years in office, they are looking for a reason to replace you. They may not find it, but they are looking."
Pollkatz has been tracking Bush's numbers for ages now and has the trends. [via BT!]
Brilliant and pithy quote
The fundamental problem for the Republican leadership on foreign policy is not that they lie or misrepresent what's going on; it's that Americans are optimists and believe in a world that can aspire to good, and that in presenting us with a deeply cynical and dishonest case implying that the world is a terrible place fit only for American weaponry and power, they are depriving us of the ability to hope and be idealistic about what America means. That to me is offensive on a very fundamental level. America is based on an idea, on the concept that America is a new world that can change the old, that it can lead, and that prosperity and freedom can belong to anyone who is willing to subordinate him or herself to the rule of law and hard work. This isn't just pie-in-the-sky wishfulness, as it's true that most people really just ARE simple shopkeepers who want to be left alone to play with their kids. America harnesses that desire, and that's why America is so attractive. Bush does not believe in this version of America. His America is based the cold hard reality of force and the inherent viciousness of human nature, which is why he as governor of Texas made fun of people on Death Row before denying their stays of execution. He never has believed this version of America, and neither do his deputies. The Democrats are by and large incoherent on this, tactically reactive against lies but allowing the worldview of a big bad world full of meanies instead of hopeful shopkeepers to remain unchallenged.
By Matthew Stoller as seen on Democratic Veteran. [via BT!]
Flashback to last week's news on voting machines
Last Friday, I wrote two entries about how easily hackable the popular Diebold computerized voting machines are. I wrote:
Hopefully, these search results will change shortly, but right now, a Google News search [using several variant queries] shows only two stories on the topic -- Slashdot and the Inquirer. At first I thought that this story must've come too late for US newspaper deadlines, but isn't it even later in the UK???
Checking again, there's now exactly one additional story, by SciScoop, a science and SF community site.
I tried to raise awareness by contacting several tech writers I knew or regularly read. I never heard back from Hiawatha Bray, but I was apparently one of several readers who emailed Robert X. Cringely, with whom I had a brief email exchange in which I shared my Google News links. Here's what he wrote in this week's column:
I have no idea whether this claim is true or not, though the authors provided vast amounts of supporting evidence including source code. What is interesting to me is not so much that this could happen, but that we haven't read about it in the mainstream press. I didn't even bother investigating the story because it was sent to every reporter the authors could find. I figured that before I could verify anything the story would be in the Washington Post, yet it isn't. It isn't anywhere other than on a few obscure web pages and right here. It seemed to me to be newsworthy even if all the Post and the New York Times and the other big boys simply chose to debunk the story, yet they haven't done that.
Hopefully, the story is false. You can learn more about it under the "I Like It" link on this page. If it is true, then it may well be the case that massive voter fraud has put many of the wrong candidates in office, meaning we aren't a nation of laws at all. Even more disturbing is the fact that the mainstream press doesn't appear to be interested, which is scary. You be the judge.
Anybody know what's going on with the press? I'm not expecting unquestioning acceptance, but the silence is creeping me out. [via BT!]
House Democrats Storm Out of Ways and Means Committee
Quoting the Washington Post, "Months of political tension in the House of Representatives erupted into open warfare today when Democrats stormed out of a Ways and Means Committee session and the panel's chairman called in the Capitol Police. ... By any standards, today represented a low point in the history of congressional comity." [via BT!]
Lies vs. deceit
Eric Alterman puts it best:
The question regarding George Bush and Iraq is not whether he deliberately 'lied'; it's whether he deceived. Accusing Bush of 'lying' requires knowing what was in his mind. Knowing that he deceived us does not. And he did deceive.
White House & RNC using Drudge to smear enemies
Buried in my previous post was mention that the White House was unhappy with a story about troop morale, so outed him to Matt Drudge. The Washington Post got Drudge to acknowledge "someone from the White House communications shop tipped me to it"
Now, I rarely read Drudge, but I understand he's still considered popular and powerful. I guess earlier this week he tried to slam Democratic presidential candidate Graham as an elitist with a photo of him riding in a Jaguar. ooh. The Scrum traced the IP address to an RNC site and then RNC Communications Director Jim Dyke confirmed the RNC leaked it. [via The Hamster]
Twice within one week. This appears to be a trend. And how many other instances haven't we heard? Stay aware and wary of what Drudge is posting. [via BT!]
What's goin' on
- A philosopher discusses the nature of lies and deceit in the wake of Bush, Blair and WMDs. (via navrins)
- But it looks like this has woken up the attack Democrats. Try a spin of Bush Credibility Twister!
Mark Fiore's animations also effectively make the case with humor.
- I've always been puzzled by the notion that privatizating government functions will save taxpayer money without cutting services. See The Forest explains how that might be and strengthens my resolve against the notion.
- So first "[t]wo senior administration officials" exposed a CIA operative in an effort to discredit her husband (evidence here and here). In today's news, the White House was unhappy with a reporter's story about troop morale, so outed him to Matt Drudge. See a pattern?
- I was thinking of writing more about troop morale, but the veterans at DailyKos and To The Barricades are all over the issue, with news and insight into the military mind. I'm quite disturbed that there have been five suicides. In today's Globe, Jeff Danzinger explains how important a departure date is for combat troops, sharing his own experience in Vietnam. This is bad folks.
- The bandwagon for impeachment seems to be growing. However, Lambert makes a good strategic argument why we should be wary:
The one essential is to get a Democrat -- any Democrat -- into the White House in 2004. To do that, we're going to need all the resources we can get, and -- whether some of you like it or not -- we're going to need moderate voters. (If you want to think of a moderate voter as someone who hasn't done the hard work that you have, and therefore isn't nearly as committed or angry, that's fine. The point is to get their vote!)
Strategically, then, impeachment is both a diversion of precious resources, and a turn-off to voters we need to win.
- Similarly, Billmon warns folks to be wary of overplaying the death of David Kelly. Quoth Billmon:
Shades of Vince Foster!
Now if you remember, Foster's suicide was manna from heaven for the Clinton Conspiracy Crew, who concocted an almost limitless number of insane theories to account for his death -- most of them involving foul play on the part of the First Couple. It would be easy, way too easy, for partisans on the left to pull the same stunt now.
Don't do it. If, as seems likely, Kelly's death is ruled a tragic suicide, leave it at that. It probably is just that. And if it isn't, trust me: no one will ever be able to prove it.
The left needs to demonstrate that it's fundamentally different from the wing nuts of the right -- ethically as well as ideologically. They have lies and loopy conspiracy theories on their side; we have the truth. This is a chance to show the contrast. So let's stick to what we know, and can reasonably claim based on the public record.
With this adminstration, that will be plenty.
- Mark Kleiman has also been writing about lowering the drinking age (starting here and continuing here, here, and here). Over the weekend I'll try to write some more about the gin craze of the 18th century, taking the conclusions from Craze to update last week's post on Gin.
- Among the links I lost in my last crash, I saw an article pointing out that although Canada has no residency requirement for marriages (much to the delight of same-sex couples), they do have a one year residency requirement for divorce. Be forewarned, if you're planning a Northern honeymoon.
- I haven't bothered to register to view LA Times content, because I find their form more intrusive than most. But Atrios found a real disturbing nugget in today's paper:
Still, he and other Pentagon officials said, they are studying the lessons of Iraq closely ? to ensure that the next U.S. takeover of a foreign country goes more smoothly.
"We're going to get better over time," promised Lawrence Di Rita, a special assistant to Rumsfeld. "We've always thought of post-hostilities as a phase" distinct from combat, he said. "The future of war is that these things are going to be much more of a continuum
"This is the future for the world we're in at the moment," he said. "We'll get better as we do it more often."
- Economically, Whiskey Bar has some excellent analysis of the new Bush deficit as compared to previous budgets, while Angry Bear has gone over this year's numbers to allocate responsibility. Aren't you glad the National Bureau of Economic Research said the recession ended in November 2001. Don't you feel so much better?
- Quotes of note:
- Josh Marshall has an entertaining transcript of new White House press secretary refusing to answer questions like: "Isn't the President responsible for the words that come out of his own mouth?" and "And so when there's intelligence in a speech, the President is not responsible for that?"
- When personally asked whether he would take responsibility for his words, Bush gave a huge long rambling answer taking responsibility for putting troops into action (which constitutionally should be Congress's job) but never answering the question.
- OMB Director Joshua B. Bolten: "Restoring a balanced budget is an important priority for this administration, but a balanced budget is not a higher priority than winning the global war on terror, protecting the American homeland, or restoring economic growth and job creation."
Tresy of Eschaton: You know, guys, 1 out of 4 would be a start.
- Speaking of quotes, I've seen some wondering whether Bush's falsehood that the war was caused because Saddam wouldn't let [inspectors] in may have been intentional. Playing ignorant probably saved Reagan from implication (and impeachment) in Iran-Contra, so maybe the same Teflon can protect Bush...
- BuzzFlash interviewed Molly Ivins. She's known Bush better and longer than I have, but I have to wonder about this comment of hers:
George W. Bush is not stupid <snip> He is very limited, however. It's not stupidity as much as ignorance, and his inability and unwillingness to learn. He's not very curious. And it's not a first-rate mind. I mean, you get him to a certain point in a discussion, and if you ever hear him talk about "my instinct" or "my gut tells me," then you know we're in trouble. Then you know we have left the realm of facts and logic and where we're going is something else altogether. <snip> Okay, now this is a guy who thinks that that is as good as, or more important, than evidence, than fact. <snip> And he has that response to several things. Sometimes it's a generous response. Sometimes it's an idiotic one. But it's -? as I say, it's not a first-rate mind. He's not stupid. And the fact that he tangles up the language -? well, so did his father. It's some kind of vocal dyslexia. I think occasionally you find sort of dyslexic thinking in Bush.
If this is ignorance, but not stupidity, then how does Molly Ivins define stupidity?
Having spent over four years on end-user technical support meant gave me an opportunity to see a lot of ignorance up front. I often had to reassure customers who thought they were stupid. And this helped me define the terms more clearly in my own mind. The shortest explanation I came up with was:
Customers who started their support calls by apologizing and saying they were stupid generally weren't. Because they knew their limitations. They may have been ignorant, but just because they were never taught something doesn't mean they are stupid. Ignorant people acknowledge that they still have lessons to learn and show an openness to learning them.
"Stupidity is an attitude and ignorance a state.
Stupid people try to hide their ignorance rather than admitting or correcting it."
The stupid people are the folks who believe in their own infallibility. They want validation for their own opinions and won't take criticism from others. Since they aren't willing to acknowledge their ignorance, they can't learn or grow beyond their limitations.
Does that make sense?
Cheap books? I'm there!
75% off on books from the GPO. And we'll be in DC next Monday! Of course, if we do this, we'd have to park in a (safe) garage downtown rather than parking at a Metro station and riding in (so we won't have to shlep a mountain of books around with us), but I'm so tempted...
Have I mentioned recently that I am such a geek![via BT!]
In the life
So last night Ian picked me up promptly after work so we could get to the comic shop before it closed. Everything in our pull list was anticipated and worthwhile. [Let's see if I can recall them from memory: Amazing Spider-Man (by JMS), Amelia Rules, Death: At Death's Door, Dork Tower, Girl Genius, Teen Titans.]
Then we headed into Cambridge to MicroCenter where we got the $99 40GB external HD. I read online a bit last night before finally hooking up the drive (trivially easy) and trying to save a drive image.
It failed after an hour or so (though this time it didn't crash my computer) with the event log saying "Creating image file failed." Tried it again, failed again. Both files were exactly 4,193,280 KB, which was also the approximate size of my partial backup files from the night before. Worry and concern: maybe there's something bad on my machine at that spot??
So I emailed their support department [smart move for a file recovery company, having 24x7 email support] and much to my relief, they came up with a reasonable and non-scary explanation:
Probably you create the image on FAT32 file system which possesses 4Gb file size limitation. So larger files can not be created there. If this is the case we would suggest that you either use NTFS (through network or attaching the drive to Windows NT/2000/XP box if you are running Windows 9x/ME) or split your drive into regions each less than 4Gb, create their images, and make virtual volume set afterwards if you need to recover files from there.
I believe the packaging said it was FAT32, as is Ian's machine. <Whew> So, tonight I can just reformat the external HD to NTFS and I should be fine to back everything up.
For the weekend, both local drive-ins (Mendon and Milford) are showing double features of Finding Nemo and Pirates of the Caribbean, both of which we want to see. Probably tomorrow night, though.
We're also trying to prepare for our trip to Florida next weekend. We've finally found a way to get Boopsie to take her medicine -- by crushing it to a powder and either mixing it with (a) small cans of really smelly catfood or (b) gefilte fish balls. Unfortunately, last night around 11pm she pissed on the bed again after several weeks without incident. We discovered it before it soaked through to the mattress, but I think we're going to buy a rubber sheet for while we're away, just in case. We're also getting a blacklight flashlight, so we don't have to rely solely on our noses to detect these stains in the future. [As I was going over this shopping list with Ian this morning, I joked "blacklight and rubber sheets -- sounds kinky!" I only wish we had more entertaining needs for these products.]
I'm really starting to get excited about DC. The three places I want to see most -- Folger Shakespeare Library, Supreme Court and Library of Congress -- are all right next door to one another.
And, as long as we're going to be in DC, I'm suddenly considering whether we want to schedule an appointment with Arizona Rep. Flake to discuss his comments to the Washington Times:
"The federal government is pretty efficient at wasting money, but this may be a new low," Mr. Flake said. "Talk about being out of touch. How do you think the average taxpayer is going to feel about having $26,000 of their money spent on a conference to study sexual arousal?"
Although I haven't written much about this issue in my journal, but you can read Ian's letter to Rep. Flake, notes from a recent lecture we attended and a conversation he's having with a columnist to get a better understanding of our situation. At any rate, Ian and I have a very personal stake in this kind of research, and I'm wondering whether it would be beneficial to meet with him and put a human face on the problem. On the other hand, even if we can get in to see him, it'll be after a long journey and we won't be at our physical or emotional best, raising questions of whether we'll be up for this kind of confrontation and whether we'll make a good impression. And we're not his constituents, giving him even less reason to want to speak to us. On the more selfish side, this cuts into our time for leisure and would mean we have to dress up more than if we were just being touristy.
I don't know yet. Don't even know if he'll be in town and available on that day...
Anyway, I'm rambling. But that's what's going on in my life.
Thursday, July 17, 2003
Oh... my... Gd...
It's been very frustrating this last week (with my computer problems) because there are just so many things that I see in the news that I want to blog about, but I'm afraid of crashing my computer worse and/or losing my work. But this is a must read.
Washington, DC) Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption and abuse, said today that documents turned over by the Commerce Department, under court order as a result of Judicial Watch?s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit concerning the activities of the Cheney Energy Task Force, contain a map of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals, as well as 2 charts detailing Iraqi oil and gas projects, and ?Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts.? The documents, which are dated March 2001, are available on the Internet at: www.JudicialWatch.org.
If true -- and This Modern World provides further links -- this could be a bombshell. Honestly, I wasn't as shocked as some about Bush administration officials illegally exposing the identity of one of our undercover agents, probably costing her her job (whether or not she's an agent, her ability to do her job has been compromised) and possibly endangering her life, just to get at her husband.
But this... if we can't find suitable exonerating context... I'm speechless.
My home computer is still having problems
Advice to my last post seemed to be to backup now. Ian had enough room on his hard drive to hold all the used space of my computer. So he created a shareable folder I could write to, and I used Dantz Retrospect (which I already have) to backup all files to his machine. Somewhere about an hour into the process my machine crashed/rebooted without explanation. I tried it twice; same problem both times. Checking my events log, I see:
Event Type: Information |
Event Source: Save Dump
Event Category: None
Event ID: 1001
Time: 10:40:34 PM
Description: The computer has rebooted from a bugcheck. The bugcheck was:
0x1000008e (0xc0000005, 0xf96a044f, 0xb1a23adc, 0x00000000). A dump was
saved in: C:\WINDOWS\Minidump\Mini071603-01.dmp.
For more information, see Help and Support Center at
Event Type: Information |
Event Source: Save Dump
Event Category: None
Event ID: 1001
Time: 12:23:12 AM
Description: The computer has rebooted from a bugcheck. The bugcheck was:
0x1000008e (0xc0000005, 0xf958844f, 0xb21e5adc, 0x00000000). A dump was
saved in: C:\WINDOWS\Minidump\Mini071703-01.dmp.
For more information, see Help and Support Center at
This morning, I did a more selective backup to his machine of My Documents, Documents and Settings, and several other folders that (off the top of my head) I thought were most important. And that worked. [Thank heavens.]
RStudio has the ability to store a full drive image, which I would like to do ASAP, but first I need something large enough to store it on. Ian's machine doesn't have enough free space for that. Just searching online, I see 40 GB external drives as cheap as $100 (with rebate) but I know nothing about brands or reputations.
And then I call Sony. Thank goodness I decided to buy an extended warranty after the first year.
But I'm still very pissed, because (A) fixing this probably means I'll be without a home computer for several weeks. At this point, I read my morning comics off the web; I get most of my news and communication with friends online; I bank and pay bills online, as well as storing our personal financial records and the lease templates for our tenants... The idea of being computerless for several weeks does not appeal. Yes, I do sit in front of a computer most of the day at work, but I don't want to become dependent on using work resources for my personal stuff. I'm also pissed because (B) the computer is barely sixteen months old -- it should not be having such problems so soon.
And I'm feeling generally grumpy because it seems like a zillion things are all going wrong at once, and all need not only my attention, but expertise that I do not have.
Needless to say, despite some of the utterly amazing things coming out in the news and blogosphere, I haven't felt much like blogging lately.
In the meantime, I strongly recommend y'all read my husband's journal. He's been writing some utterly brilliant things lately which I think deserve wider distribution. Did you know that the British army paid more to compensate wrongful deaths of Iraqis than the US government pays families of its own soldiers who die in combat?
What threat to the Bush administration are you?
As seen on Suburban Guerilla.
Wednesday, July 16, 2003
My computer crashed again last night
Same weird clicky/grinding noise from the HD, then blue screen of death with a KERNEL_STACK_INPAGE_ERROR.
When I rebooted, the machine went into a chkdsk and found (and marked off) bad clusters. When I performed a second chkdsk /r, no new errors were found.
But I think last night's drive scans by R-Studio found more places giving read errors than last week's. And there are still areas on the drive that it and WinHex choke while scanning. I don't know if those programs ignore OS bad sector warnings, meaning those patches of drive are closed out to other functions, or if they're still a further crash risk.
This time, the only thing I (think that I) lost was a list I was making while browsing about things to blog. But this has happened twice within a week. I'm getting nervous.
I have this mental image of a physical fissure in the drive that's gradually widening -- like rock crumbling around the edge of the pit, gradually widening it.
So far I haven't lost anything too crucial, but I need to do some heavy-duty updating of my finances in Quicken, and I'm worried my next loss may be something both important and irreplaceable.
Anybody in the Boston area who knows a thing or two about troubleshooting Windows crashes (Vonbeck? Kyshwn?) willing to help me with this?
Thanks in advance for any advice or reassurance any of you can provide.
A matter of perspective
I've been looking at some of the tourbooks for our impending (one-day) trip to Washington DC. They all advised that (in the words of Frommer's) "parking lots are ruinously expensive."
I looked around the web and found one garage whose rates didn't seem too exorbitant. But given all the repeated warnings about parking in DC, I figured either the site must be incorrect or its one of those lots that fills up by rush hour or something.
Last night, driving around looking for parking near the BU Medical Center, I realized what the difference was. We live in Boston. A February Boston Globe article said that Boston parking rates are second-highest in the country (this is a victory NYC can keep). Looking at the actual surveys (from 2001 and 2002, both PDF), DC's daily rates are half what they are in Boston.
Needless to say, I'm no longer terribly concerned about parking in DC.
Tuesday, July 15, 2003
Tales to perturb
More tidbits from the day's news:
- Those waiting for the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to make its ruling on gay marriages will have to wait a little longer. They've announced it will be delayed past their usual self-imposed goal of issuing decisions within 130 days of hearings. They don't delay often, and when they do they generally don't delay long. But don't hold your breath.
- TalkLeft shares the disturbing story of Jesselyn Radack, a former ethics advisor for the Justice Department. She blew the whistle on misconduct in handling of the John Walker Lindh case and was fired. Since then, it looks like the DoJ is harrassing her and has hounded her out of another job. [Wow. The Bush administration isn't just passive about rising unemployment, it actively helps increase it!]
Impressively enough, she doesn't seem to be cowed by these setbacks. Instead she's spearheading a petition "if you feel that the United States' anti-terrorism effort is unduly sacrificing civil rights and democratic liberties in the name of national security." Brava!
- Speaking of unemployment, one of the "apostles of Reagan's tax cut policy" is saying that Bush's tax cuts are useless for growing the U.S. economy. In briefest he argues that tax cuts for the richest are creating jobs -- overseas. Manufacturing jobs moved offshore a while ago, and now our service jobs are too. Loss of employment and higher trade deficit!
Then again, this is an administration that not only kills efforts to close tax loopholes that allows companies to escape paying taxes by "moving" their headquarters to (maildrops in) Bermuda, but rewards them further by giving these cheats government contracts.
- The latest White House budget projections are out: $400 - $450 billion deficits. And those numbers do not include:
That's half a trillion dollars!
- $48 billion/year: costs of war in Iraq & Afghanistan
- hundreds of billions of dollars to make the temporary tax cuts permanent
What happened to the GOP as party of fiscal responsibility?
Forget Ralph Nader; I think we need Ross Perot to start pushing the candidates about the debt again.
More on this from DailyKos with chart courtesy of Atrios
- The latest administration talking point on the deficit is that dollars don't matter, we should look at it as a percentaage of the GDP. But Angry Bear, over at It's Still the Economy Stupid points out that's comparable to the worst years of Reagan/Bush and still higher than anything in the Clinton years.
- Also shading the truth, the National Bureau of Economic Research is changing its definition of recession (favorable to Bush).
Labor Secretary Elaine Chao says the latest increase in unemployment is because "611,000 people who'd previously given up looking for work had decided, what the hey, they'd give it another go. Which, she reasoned, proves they're feeling optimistic." [via Suburban Guerilla with more stats from ItsTheEconomy]
And the Bureau of Labor Statistics confuses cause and effect, saying 19.3% and rising unemployment for teens (highest ever) is because more kids are taking summer school.
- If you haven't heard, Howard Dean is guest blogging this week for Larry Lessig.
Bush has now completely changed his story on why we went to war.
[W]e gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in. And, therefore, after a reasonable request, we decided to remove him from power
This goes beyond revisionist history and into a baldfaced lie. Saddam Hussein did let the inspectors in. The inspectors didn't find any evidence and asked for more time, but the Bush administration pulled them out.
And in continuing bad news for Bush, the I-word -- impeachment -- is beginning to be spoken:
- Bob Graham said it before the NAACP:
''If the standard of impeachment that the Republicans set for Bill Clinton, that a personal, consensual relationship was the basis for impeachment, would not a president who knowingly deceived the American people about something as important as whether to go to war meet the standard of impeachment?'' Graham said.
- Take Back the Media suggests, in brief:
- Giving Congress the State of the Union is mandated in the Constitution as one of the duties of the president.
- Bush swore an oath of office to faithfully execute these duties.
- So therefore Bush lied under oath.
- And of course, there's still Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark's Vote to Impeach campaign, which has been in effect since at least February.
Compared to the flimsy charges offered against Clinton...
Well, as the slogan says, Nobody died when Clinton lied.
Two bad tastes that taste foul together
Two disparate facts that when should worry you when conjoined:
- Paul Krugman: More than half of the U.S. Army's combat strength is now bogged down in Iraq, which didn't have significant weapons of mass destruction and wasn't supporting Al Qaeda.
Stars & Stripes provides further evidence that the military is overextended.
- Washington Post [via Whiskey Bar]: Former defense secretary William Perry warned that the United States and North Korea are drifting toward war, perhaps as early as this year ...
Only last winter Perry publicly argued that the North Korea problem was controllable. Now, he said, he has grown to doubt that. "It was manageable six months ago if we did the right things," he said. "But we haven't done the right things."
He added: "I have held off public criticism to this point because I had hoped that the administration was going to act on this problem, and that public criticism might be counterproductive. But time is running out, and each month the problem gets more dangerous."
I've decided to go back to short descriptions for my RSS feeds. I know some people find it more convenient to read entries in their entirety in their own aggregators (and I include LJ friends' lists as aggregators) but it's causing me some annoyance so for now I'm going back to the old way.
Please comment if you disagree and wish to persuade me otherwise.
Monday, July 14, 2003
Many ways the cookies crumble
Hard to post any lighter news after hearing about the administration's flagrant disobedience and disrespect to this nation's laws and courts. I'm put in mind of Andrew Jackson's famed response to Worcester v. Georgia, in which he said "[Supreme Court Justice] John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it." Positively criminal behavior on behalf of the executive branch, in my opinion.
At any rate, earlier this evening I did notice a couple other stories I wanted to mention:
- Slate and Left Coaster trace how the administration's yellow cake stories have been falling apart left and right.
- Dwight Meredith wonders whether the zeitgeist may finally be changing, pointing towards recent media stories on other areas the Bush administration has shaded the truth.
- According to Road to Surfdom, Cadbury has gotten into hot water for an anti-obesity program in the UK: Children can earn sports equipment for their schools through candy wrappers. "children would need to spend more than £2,000 on chocolate and consume 1.25 million calories to earn enough tokens for a volleyball set for their school." Sounds like a win-win situation, doesn't it?
- On July 9th, news organizations reported the 3rd Infantry Division would finally be returning home in September. Today, that order has been rescinded, and they'll be staying in Iraq indefinitely. Five days -- is that a record for broken promises?
Back in May, Jim Henley wrote an angry rant on their behalf. And they still won't be home by September.
My heart goes out to them and their families.
Finally, since today was Ari Fleischer's last day on the job, I suggest we all ponder this quote:
"I think the burden is on those people who think he didn't have weapons of mass destruction to tell the world where they are."
Arthur Silber asks, how many philosophical -- and, more particularly, epistemological -- errors can you identify while Poison Kitchen holds an Ari for a Day contest (with prize!)
Put another law on the fire
Even after several court rulings all agreed that accused terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui should have the right to interview witnesses in his favor, the U.S. Justice Department is refusing to obey the judges' orders, possibly setting the stage to move him out of the criminal justice system and into the military tribunals:
South Knox Bubba writes "These guys are not only terrorists, they are criminals. If we have a criminal justice system that can no longer prosecute criminals with due process because we've decided the Constitution no longer applies then the terrorists have won."
But I find these quotes more persuasive:
- FOR depriving us, in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury
FOR transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended Offences:
- Declaration of Independence
- In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
- U.S. Constitution, Amendment VI
Reds, Blues and Greens
A coworker of mine has been saying that there's not much difference between the Democrats and Republicans, because they're both in the pocket of big business. I disagree, but I'd rather not get into potentially acrimonious political debates with people whom I otherwise like and will have to work closely with.
However, as I was telling my husband about this on the drive home, he pointed out that Grover Norquist has been trying to prevent lobbyists from donating to Democrats. As an article in Slate put it: "All those Greenies and Naderites who grumble about the permanent duopoly on political power in Washington, D.C., can take heart: It's over, according to an emerging consensus. The bad news: It's been replaced by a near-permanent monopoly. Of Republicans."
Confused? Let me 'splain about:
Bruce Freed, former chief investigator for the Senate Banking Committee, described them on Marketplace, back in January:
The effort is called the K Street project. Republican Representatives Tom DeLay and Bill Paxon created this beachhead in 1995 and named it after the street that's Washington's lobbying corridor. The goal? To ensure that corporate donations go only to Republicans, that DC corporate offices and associations hire only Republican personnel and that only Republican lobbyists go to Capitol Hill.
Grover Norquist, a key leader of the Republican right, is the project's current generalissimo. With full support from Republican congressional leaders, he's working to cleanse Washington of Democratic lobbyists altogether. 'It's all ideological,' Norquist told me recently. Bringing K Street under the thumb of the Republican right is critical to getting the Republican right's conservative, economic and social agenda through Congress and business is an integral part of that effort. There's just one little problem.
The Republican strategy of gaining exclusive control over political money is an assault on the Democratic process. Explicitly tying public policy decisions to party affiliation is extortion, plain and simple. It makes a mockery of business independence. Sure, there's always been a connection between money and
influence in Washington--people hold their noses and go about their business--but cutting off all corporate donations to one political party effectively leads to a far-right oligarchy, and that really smells.
You remember who Grover Norquist is, right? He's the one who said:
We are trying to change the tones in the state capitals -- and turn them toward bitter nastiness and partisanship.
Bipartisanship is another name for date rape.
Charming fellow, I'm sure.
More recent reports say the project is currently headed by Congressman Tom DeLay and Senator Rick Santorum.
So how are they endeavoring to do this?
Well, the K Street Project is building and maintaining public databases on who companies donate -- and then they punish those who give to Democrats. Back to Bruce Freed:
Just after the Republicans won back the Senate last fall, Senator Trent Lott had a bone to pick. Two big groups, the American Gas Association and the National Association of Realtors, had gone out of their way to help the Democrats with fund-raisers or even handed contributions to both political parties. So Lott threw a party and issued a warning. Any lobbyist giving money to Democrats will be persona non grata in his own office. And, oh, if lobbyists come to see him, they'd better be Republicans. It didn't used to be this way. When Democrats were in power, they rarely applied political litmus tests to lobbyists.
And is it working?
Take a look at these quotes:
- Washington Post
- An analysis of political donations by industry groups shows that, during the past decade, 19 major sectors have shifted from a roughly 50-50 split between the two main parties - or in some cases, a slightly pro-Democratic tilt - to a solid alignment with the Republican Party, which now enjoys advantages exceeding 5 to 1 in some of these sectors. The shift has produced at least $78 million in additional GOP support from these groups over 10 years, while donations to Democrats have declined slightly.
- NPR, Morning Edition, March 6:
- [B]rand-name companies in PhRMA now give overwhelmingly to Republicans, while their rivals, the generic drugmakers, give almost exclusively to Democrats. It's also notable that the brand-name companies outgive the generics roughly 10:1.
- Washington Monthly
- The upper ranks of its Washington trade group, PhRMA, are stocked with former aides to powerful Republicans, and its political behavior reflects it: The industry, which gave roughly evenly during the fight over Clinton's health-care plan, now contributes 80 percent of its money to Republicans. PhRMA has essentially become an extension of the GOP.
So, to sum up:
- Tom DeLay from the House, Rick Santorum from the Senate, and Grover Norquist
- Their goal is to make lobbyists exclusively donate to and hire from the Republican party
- By keeping public databases of the party affiliation and donation history of lobbyists and punishing those organizations that support or hire Democrats
I'll close with some other quotes that didn't fit into the rest of this piece:
- Business Week
- Norquist's dream is to create a master list of the political proclivities, campaign contributions, and past partisan jobs held by Washington influence-peddlers. When it's complete, White House and congressional Republican leaders would be able to check the handy-dandy list before deciding whether a specific lobbyist is worthy of an appointment. Or a piece of legislation. In effect, it would be a political blacklist.
- Associate Dean Martin Kaplan of the Annenberg School of Communication, University of Southern California
Their point is that they have the House, they have the Senate, they have the White House; they should also have K Street. The iron lock on policy includes the source of big money in Washington.
Anybody in the Boston area need three Zone 1 commuter rail rides between within the next month? I have two punches left on a 12-ride ticket plus one single ride pass. They were issued in mid-February and expire in 180 days, and I just don't think I will use them in the time remaining. No sense wasting 'em. Make me an offer (and making it easy for me carries a lot of weight) or just ask.
What are words for?
Whiskey Bar shows the evolution of the spin while Lambert parses the latest explanation. CalPundit explains why it matters and Talking Points is all over the story.
For those with short memories, Whiskey Bar also provides a searchable list of administration statements on WMDs. I would like to find an official explanation list of our reasons for invading Iraq. I mean, once we lost Saddam, they said it wasn't about finding and trying him. Now they're saying that WMD wasn't the reason...
Whiskey Bar hints that Dean made a brilliant move by saying the responsible party ought to quit. Brilliant, because it puts the administration in a bind: "if Tenet resigns, it will look like Dean has drawn blood" and if the White House keeps Tenet, they look like they're protecting somebody.
Meanwhile, contrast these quotes:
"I will return the highest standards of honor to the highest office in the land. This is my pledge. And it doesn?t depend on what the meaning of "is" is."
"I will bring honor to the process and honor to the office I seek. I will remind Al Gore that Americans do not want a White House where there is 'no controlling legal authority.' I will repair the broken bonds of trust between Americans and their government."
"I think credibility's important. It's important for the president to be credible with Congress, important for the president to be credible with foreign nations. And, yes, I think it's something that people need to consider."
"And certainly when I said, 'As the president said' in my statement and at the end I said, 'As the president indicated,' I believe and that's quite true.
If I'm reading that correctly, Rumsfeld acknowledged that:
- X is false.
- The president said X, which was false.
- But, when Rumsfeld said "As the president said, X" he was correct because the president did say X.
It looks like Condoleezza Rice was making parsing her words similarly, repeatedly insisting that sentence was "accurate."
The meaning of "is" is more clear to me.
I could go on, but I'll just close with the following:
|George W. Bush, August 3, 2000:|
"[T]o lead this nation to a responsibility era, a president himself must be responsible."
|Ari Fleischer, today:|
Q [D]oesn't the White House take any responsibility for that statement whatsoever?
MR. FLEISCHER: The statement went through the regular inter-agency process based on a document that was produced, deemed to be reliable, called the national intelligence estimate, where five of the six agencies had an opinion about whether it should be in there or not. So it was based on solid reporting, solid research by people here in the White House. That's why it was included in drafts. That's the exact purpose of drafts. And the drafts were provided to the Central Intelligence Agency and the other agencies. And the inter-agency process begins where they're reviewed. And some information falls out. Some information stays in. That's exactly how a vetting process should work.
Q You had at least some warning. You put it in anyway. Do you take responsibility?
MR. FLEISCHER: No, the warning was about a different topic. The warning was about, as I said earlier, information specific to one country with a specific quantity. There were other reporting about other countries in Africa that led to the broader statement about him pursuing uranium from Africa, which is a statement that also has much history attached to it, given the fact that this is where Saddam, indeed, got his uranium from before.
MR. FLEISCHER: [T]he President sees his job to be accountable and to be responsible.
Anybody care to ask this administration what the meaning of responsiblity is?
Lies like a rug
This yellow cake story may have legs. Two thirty-second ads -- by the Democrats (currently web-only) and the other by MoveOn (airing in NYC & DC) -- have been released. Both denounce the President's lies and include online petitions to demand a bipartisan investigation. [via DailyKOS and Washington Post]
Suburban Guerrilla (a recent discovery in the blogosphere) writes "The Bush lovefest to date was a combination of lazy reporters, inept or weak editors and management that's more interested in marketing demographics than real news." and "Here's why I think the Bush-uranium story won't die: Reporters lost their protective cover. The thing that allowed them to rationalize their laziness, their cowardice and their buddy-buddy relationships with sources got blown sky-high with this one, and now they have to punish Bush."
And of course, once the press starts digging, the administration made plenty of other dubious claims around that time that may not hold up too well under scrutiny.
Their Reaganesque attempt to protect Bush by portraying him as out-of-the loop in the creation of the speech won't hunt, given their lovely behind-the-scenes slideshow of his hands-on involvement. [via MediaWhoresOnline (which I don't think has permalinks) via Atrios.]
Ading to the pigpile, the 9/11 report should be out soon which may be more damning, the economy's still in the toilet, the GOP has ticked off the military voters (not just soldiers, but the families back home)... Obviously, we have to press him on the issues and can't ease up, but is this the beginning of the end for Bush?
Just to follow up on several things I said in conversation last night:
- Here's that analysis of military voters I told you about, WD.
- The Defense Department didn't develop any real postwar plans for Iraq because they believed that Iraqis would welcome U.S. troops with open arms. When the State Department and CIA disagreed with their optimistic scenarios, Pentagon planners simply excluded them from further involvement. The State Department led an eight-month-long effort to prepare for the day when Saddam's dictatorship was gone. The "Future of Iraq" project, which involved dozens of exiled Iraqi professionals and 17 U.S. agencies, including the Pentagon, prepared strategies for everything from drawing up a new Iraqi judicial code to restoring the unique ecosystem of Iraq's southern marshes, which Saddam's regime had drained. Pentagon planners ignored this, and had no backup plans when their ideas proved unworkable.
- Meanwhile, a retired Air Force colonel with an interest in satellite meteorology may have discovered evidence of a pipeline from the Iraqi oilfields to Kuwait.
Sunday, July 13, 2003
Timely and tasty tidbits
Have you ever had a chore that you know you have to do, but you don't want to, so you keep procrastinating until you run out of time? My whole weekend's been like that. Before I lost my job, I used to be religious about tracking my finances in Quicken. I still write everything down and save all my receipts, but I haven't updated them in the program in ages. And I really need to do so. I'm trying to figure out whether I'm being held back more afraid of the unpleasantness of the process or out of fear about what I might find in the results. <Sigh>
Anyway, here are a few tidbits I've found today
- You know you're a geek when you read this comic strip, and not only do you remember reading the comic book mentioned in the first panel, but you know who wrote the storyline and which issues it appeared in.
- I'll bet some conservatives will say this is just one more step on the slippery slope towards gay marriages. [See Dan Kennedy's article for how right-wingers make such connections rhetorically.]
- Priorities: $25000 bail and charge of felony aggravated battery for throwing a water balloon at House Speaker Hastert. Meanwhile, the maximum allowable sentence for domestic violence in Oklahoma is one year. Fortunately, the jury threw in a charge of placing bodily fluid upon a government employee which had a lifetime sentence.
- Here's a disturbing chart, from the Economist via CalPundit:
And some older links I've been meaning to blog since before my computer died:
- Add Matt Welch to the list of people who thinks Lawrence v. Texas will bite Bush come election day, if the press asks him about it!
- Ampersand/Alas a blog has an discussion on copyright and derivative works. People keep throwing around the argument that derivative works dilute the market and make people less likely to buy the real thing. From personal experience and based on an informal nonscientific poll of Harry Potter fans, reading fanfic has made me more eager to buy genuine Harry Potter books, not less. I've written more on this in the comments, which continue the conversation.
- Kip explains Why you don't read comics
- Bob Harris provides a handy table comparing Dean and Kucinich on the issues. One more difference, Dean is easier to say and spell than Kucinich. How do you pronounce Kucinich, anyway?
- Don Rumsfeld don't know much about history. Don't know much about the dictionary either.
- Speaking of language trouble, since when has adoption been a codeword for kickbacks? And are adoptees annoyed with the term being used for programs like "Adopt a Highway" and the like?
- America is still not prepared for terrorist attacks. Former Senators Rudman & Hart issued a report on terrorism preparedness in January 2001 which Bush ignored. In October 2002, Rudman & Hart co-chaired another report titled "America - Still Unprepared, Still in Danger." The latest report is titled "Emergency Responders: Drastically Underfunded, Dangerously Unprepared." Sense a pattern?
Has the Bush administration made you any safer since 9/11? Osama and Saddam are on the loose, al Qaeda and now Iraq are pissed off at us, and all we've got for "protection" are a pretty rainbow warning system and fewer civil liberties.
I'll stop now. With all the attention in the blogosphere regarding the Nigerian yellow cakes, Ian's making yellow cupcakes which we're frosting with little atomic symbols. They're just about ready to eat.
Added later: Nigerian delicacies: spam and yellow cake?
Readings and Restoration
Well, I finished reading Forever Amber. My earlier comparison to Gone with the wind is an apt one, as there were many times I half expected to hear Amber say "Fiddle-dee-dee!" [She never did; instead she uttered lines like "A pox on that jade!" and "Malapert slut!"] and her love interest Bruce felt like a cross between Rhett Butler (in personality) and Ashley Wilkes (mostly in terms of Amber's attitude towards him). I wonder if anybody ever studied what influence GWTW had on Forever Amber. All-in-all, if you liked the former you'll probably enjoy the latter and vice-versa. That said, the final denouement really left a sour taste in my mouth. [I don't want to spoil the ending, but if you've read the book I'd love to find somebody to talk about it with.]
I followed that up by reading Restoration, which is set during the same period, but with a slightly different focus. The writing style seemed a bit... affected... and took a bit of getting used to, but Robert Merivel makes an entertaining narrator. We also rented the movie adaptation of Restoration, and while it's beautifully costumed and I enjoy Robert Downey Jr. as an actor, it diverged from the book in the end and I didn't like some of the historical liberties it took. [The royal court did not return to London until after the plague was gone.] But it was nice to actually see David Thewlis in a film role, since he will be playing Professor Lupin in the next Harry Potter movie. Not quite what I had in mind, but he should do a fine job.
For my next books, I went to the library and got a biography of Charles II (because I feel I have a gap there) along with another book on the gin craze, which I may or may not actually finish since I read the other book so recently. [I'm hoping this will add some new angles, given the author's background as a scientist investigating addiction. Here's a NYT review comparing both titles.]
Although my interest in British history began with learning about Elizabeth's reign for Ian's RPG, by now I feel moderately comfortable with British court history from Edward VI (attempts to read about Henry's court feel too remote to be accessible) through all the Stuarts. Right now I'm looking for a good book on the Hanoverian succession. At some point I'd like to go through all the historical books I've read -- both novels and nonfiction -- in the last several years, make note of what dates they cover, and create a timeline chart...
While I'm on the subject of British history, I must say that the BBC History site is an utter delight. They have so many fascinating shows I wish I could watch or hear...
Speaking of books, recently I have seen several celebrated dismissals of adults reading Harry Potter, by Jennie Bristow (cultural infantilism) and A.S. Byatt. As somebody whose reading habits have shifted to YA books because I generally find them of higher quality than adult fiction, I found their arguments laughably pitiful. So imagine my delight to find today's New York Times Book Review includes a celebration of Harry Potter by John Leonard which includes this gem:
[L]east persuasive of all are the nitpickers who disdain children's literature to begin with, which just means that they are tin-eared, tone deaf and born dumb. (Where do they think we begin to care about stories?) Or the furballs who would prefer that we read instead Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Richard Adams, Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl or Philip Pullman. (As if we were choosing up for a secret society; as if we couldn't enjoy Hermione in the library while at the same time taking a bloodthirsty interest in Hazel the Warrior Rabbit.)
I don't know why, but I'm finding it hard to get back into the blogging habit this weekend, even though I've seen several stories worth sharing. Due to the past week's computer problems, I've also fallen incredibly behind in my LJ friends list (to the point that I may have to skip the past and jump directly into the new stuff -- if there's something you really want me to read, let me know) and in other blogs I read, which makes me somewhat reluctant to comment on things that may already be old news.
Final question: As far as my news posts are concerned, do you prefer reading long litanies of links or many many short posts on single topics? I'll probably continue to write whatever's easiest for me, but I'd appreciate knowing your tastes.
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