Home / 2003 History
November 20, 2003
I told you. I told you twice.
International lawyers and anti-war campaigners reacted with astonishment yesterday after the influential Pentagon hawk Richard Perle conceded that the invasion of Iraq had been illegal.
In a startling break with the official White House and Downing Street lines, Mr Perle told an audience in London: "I think in this case international law stood in the way of doing the right thing."
"They're just not interested in international law, are they?" said Linda Hugl, a spokeswoman for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, which launched a high court challenge to the war's legality last year. "It's only when the law suits them that they want to use it."
War critics astonished as US hawk admits invasion was illegal -- The Guardian
Link Courtesy of INDYMEDIA UK
And there's even a site dedicated to following Bush through his trip.
November 19, 2003
Twisty Twisty Press, or
TONIGHT'S FOCUS HAS CHANGED: The DA and Sheriff from Santa Barbara have just held a press conference, announcing that there is an arrest warrant for Michael Jackson on multiple counts of child molestation, and they are negotiating his surrender with his attorneys. We are going to switch topics to cover this tonight, we'll report on President Bush's visit to Britain and the situation in Iraq tomorrow."
Twisty Twisty Stairs
Stairway of the Car krAP. Okay, It's the Parking Garage in Palo Alto between High and Alma, near University.
November 16, 2003
I wish I'd said that...
The president wants to remove taxes on inherited wealth, invested wealth, and put the entire burden on workers while at the same time, remove their incentive to work hard even further by decimating overtime pay. I know he's never had to work for a living, but some of the rest of us are starting to get a little pissed off.
Eric Alterman in Altercation
"Her majesty's view throughout was that since there are going to be 5,000 British police officers involved in the security operation for the president, it's not unreasonable to expect her guests to have some faith in their abilities."
Home Secretary David Blunkett has refused to grant diplomatic immunity to armed American special agents and snipers travelling to Britain as part of President Bush's entourage this week.
The issue of immunity is one of a series of extraordinary US demands turned down by Ministers and Downing Street during preparations for the Bush visit.
These included the closure of the Tube network, the use of US air force planes and helicopters and the shipping in of battlefield weaponry to use against rioters.
Contrast these stories with this photo of Russia's Putin riding in an open coach this summer at Buckingham Palace, or the photos here of Carter walking home (from the Capitol to the Whitehouse) after his inauguration.
November 12, 2003
Is Texas America?
Molly Ivins writes about Texas.
One thing is for sure, Texas is a wonderful place for having given us Molly.
Night Panoramas of Japan
November 11, 2003
9 Speeds and a Healthy "Click"
This is the only picture I have of the business end of my old bike. Bike experts might want to take a close look at this, you're not likely to ever see another again.
Yes, that's a 3-speed shifter chain dropping into the center of a Sturmey - Archer 3 speed hub, which has been equipped with an after market triple gang gear set and a jury-rigged derailleur. (That hub may have been state of the art for the early 70's, but it looks like SA has in the decades since gone to 7 speeds and added a coaster brake!)
It may look ugly, but it worked great, and the total gear ratios worked out to a wider range than the 10-speeds of that era - which made it a great wheelie bike.
Over the years I put thousands of miles on that bike. It changed colors from time to time as I replaced cracked frames—those old 3-speed frames were nice and light, but you could just feel them bend in a tight turn, and they didn't stand up to to sort of abuse that I put on them. Just about anything that moved eventually wore out and was replaced. I went through yards of brake and shift cables, not to mention all the John Bull brake pads. In the end about the only parts left from the original (2nd hand) "English Racer" were the handlebars (The old fashioned 3-speed kind) and maybe the brake handles.
Update -- A few minutes with google and I've found a similar bike. It looks like I my hub came from a "Cyclo conversion kit", but my derailleur was junk-picked bottom-of-the-line Shimano Lark that I modified to accept wider 3-speed chain.
I love Google.
November 3, 2003
I spent part of the day scanning negatives and printing up some arty photos to go on the back wall of the living room. It's taking a while, but I'm pretty pleased with about 1/2 the prints, I'm hoping to raise that average as I get more experience with matching the on-screen preview to the final prints. Today was nothing fancy, just color balance and exposure adjustments. But back in the old days....
The Becker County Record
When I was in Jr. High, my freind Glenn had a part time job taking photos for the local newspaper, (Two issues a week) and as a result we had after hours access to the darkroom.
One weekend, after we'd finished the regular prints I showed Glenn an enlarger trick I'd read about in a magazine. I tilted the negative so that it was no longer flat to the enlarging lens, tilted the paper the other angle so that the image would stay in focus across the page. None of the negatives that he had shot that day seemed a fit to the technique, but the sports photographer had been to the dirt track motorcycle races that day and had left a strip of Tri-x on the drying line, and some of those looked pretty good stretched out, so we printed a few of them.
The next day the sports photographer gave us a ribbing about "the strong winds" blowing the image around, and but surprisingly enough, we didn't get yelled at for wasting paper.
Better yet, guess which photo made the front page the day after? (The Sports Photographer got the photo credit, and Glenn and I got credit for darkroom manipulation.)
I was pretty much next in line for the Jr. Photographer position when Glenn went off to college, but we moved out of state that fall, so it didn't come to pass.
Yes, that's my trusty Nikon FTn, I've had it for 30 years now, and it's still going strong. I must admit it hasn't seen much film since I've gone digital, Sorry eBay, I just can't quite let it go yet.
I sometimes wonder if things had been different that I might have ended up at a small town newspaper instead of designing computers in Silicon Valley. Naw.
I've had a few nudges lately about finishing "Yellow"...
1. Yes, I'm going to finish it, if it's the last thing I do. (And at this rate, it may be...)
2. No, even I don't even know exactly how it's going to end. I don't even know exactly whats going to happen next.
3. I'll concider bribes. ^_^
I also was asked about advice on writing and formatting, both subjects near and dear, so I will probably write up same notes on the subject and publish them here. (But then again if I don't release another chapter soon, I'm likely to lose my Fanfiction Guild Card).
November 2, 2003
It still cracks me up.
Dave does a lot more than comics too, his Russian Ridge Photos are spectacular.
November 1, 2003
Danger inc. moved into it's new building this week. I've always gotten a kick out of working for a company called Danger, Inc., and it was a real kick to turn the corner and see the company name in big letters on our own building.
October 24, 2003
More Ranma Fanart
October 22, 2003
There's a nice collection of Japan photos over at hunkabutta.com. Looking at them brought to mind another little story:
The Tokyo Prince Hotel
On my first trip to Japan I spent a couple of nights at the Tokyo Prince. I had a nice room in the back, with a comfy bed a great view of the Tokyo Tower.
I awoke at about 2:00 AM to the sound of mototcycles. First a few, then what must have been a hundred or more. But they didn't sound like your typical Yamahas or Suzukis, They sounded more like Harleys, but with a difference. As the bikes streamed by they were accompanied by music, but the music was modulated by the sound of the engines so that it sounded as if the speakers were inside the exhaust system. The sound was so strange I got up to go to window to watch. From my vantage point it sounded like this throbbing music was coming from multiple cycles in the pack, sometimes the same song synchronized among a number of bikes, other times a different song from one bike or the other.
The whole parade took two or three minutes to pass, like I said, it was hundreds of bikes. I crawled back into bed wondering if it had really happend.
A couple minutes later a lone police car rolled past, all siren an lights, but traveling at a speed calculated to assure that he would not catch up.
By the way, the Tokyo Prince shares a parking lot with a Temple that figures prominently in the anime movie Tenchi Muyo in Love, and it also appears in one of the last Patlabor episodes.
October 18, 2003
I've been thinking about adding another section to my site for 'little stories', things that I've come across in my travels which are not really part of a chronology, but are just things I'd like to publish.
Rather than add another column or sidebar, I'm planning to insert them inline in this column, and they will be archived as part of the sequential history, but because of their nature I'm thinking I'll also copy them out into a separate collection.
The Incident at the Bank Vault.
Up near my home town of Detroit Lakes in Minnesota there was a bank that was undergoing renovation, and part of that extensive work was to replace the old vault with a newer and much larger one.
Finally the day came to demolish the old vault, so the work was scheduled for an early Saturday morning so as not to inconvenience the customers. The construction crew arrived early and prepared for the days work, dragging in heavy sledge hammers and rock bars and chain saws, ready to attack the task that the 50 year old blueprints promised to be a formidable; a structure of concrete, steel, and even a layer of railroad ties.
As they waited for the bank president to arrive to disable the alarms, one of the workers gripped a sledge hammer that was leaning against the wall and joked, "Well, I guess I'll just knock a hole in this wall while we're waiting." He lifted the head an inch or two from the floor and swing it outward like a pendulum, then let it swing back towards the wall.
The hammer smashed though two layers of drywall and into the old vault.
October 18, 2003
I love this comic
I'm not sure why, it just cracks me up.
October 14, 2003
Anime Fanfiction Links from www.pherenike.net Very nice Graphics!
October 12, 2003
Go Ahead Charlie Brown, Kick the Ball!
Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger is preparing a push to deregulate the state's electricity markets -- a move embraced by business leaders and some energy analysts but criticized by many Democrats and consumer advocates as a return to the failed policies that sparked California's energy crisis.
Schwarzenegger's energy strategy is being driven by some of the same members of former Gov. Pete Wilson's team who led the push for energy deregulation in the mid-1990s. The governor-elect, for example, picked for his transition team Jessie Knight, a former Wilson appointee to the Public Utilities Commission and a leading proponent of deregulation.
October 11, 2003
Now We're Stylin'
Style.org has an interesting look at Mapping Votes by County, re-drawing California so that each county is represented by population, rather than sqare miles.
They missed one chart though, It would have been interesting to Map "No" on the recall (3,668,076) vs Schwarzenegger votes (3,850,804), which is what the match up would have been in a real election had Schwarzenegger even made it past the Republican Primaries.
It's disconcerting that so many social conservatives voted for Schwarzenegger, apperently just because 'he can win', if you mirror that flexibility of thought to the Democrats, you'd have people voting for a candidate who wants to teach creationism in schools, make reproductive choice illegal, freely mix church and state. It's inconciveable.
It remains to be seen just what kind of leadership we will see from der GROPEnator — he claims to be moderate conservative, but then Dubya claimed to be a compasionate conservative.
Dude, Where's My 380,000 Ballots?
More than 380,000 ballots cast in the recall election did not have a valid vote on whether to recall Gov. Gray Davis, and most of them were made on punch card systems, according to two independent studies.
Even if the 4.6 percent of Californians whose ballots did not answer the recall question had voted against it, Davis would have lost. The recall passed by a margin of 10.8 percent, and Republican actor Arnold Schwarzenegger enjoyed a comfortable victory.
On the other hand, since those ballots were lost in large, progressive counties that voted against the recall, it's likely that "No" on the recall would have had more votes than Schwarzenegger.
It's the Future, Stupid.
This means, that between now and 2053, the world will consume 2.377 trillion barrels of oil - exactly what the USGS gives as the amount of oil we can definitely count on. And that super-optimistic vision of 5 trillion barrels? All of it gone by 2078.
Decades before then, of course, oil will be hugely expensive, and that alone will reduce consumption. People who today worry about the potential economic effects of $40 per barrel oil will be praying for a drop to $140 per barrel long before I'm dead.
I'm being conservative here. Many experts think grave impacts from the effective "end of oil" could be closer than two generations down the road. Two of them, Colin J. Campbell and Jean H. Laherrère, have updated the predictions of M. King Hubbert. For the technically minded, here's a chart-filled look at their scenario.
Hubbert developed the theory now named for him, Hubbert's Peak. The short version: Oil is finite. Eventually, each country will get to the halfway point in its oil-production potential. After that, it's all downhill.
When Hubbert predicted in 1959 that this would happen to the United States in the late 1960s, he was ridiculed. U.S. oil production peaked in 1970. In Russia, it peaked in 1980. By 2000, it had peaked in 37 other countries. Laherrère and others say the global peak may come as soon as 2010.
October 10, 2003
Over at Mark Crispin Miller's site he has some interesting data from Tulare County (A Diebold Machine County).
It is a little odd, don't you think that some down-ballot candidates did especially well in Diebold counties, for example, Kunzman received 91.75% of his (her?) votes from the less than 18% (Statewide) of votes cast on Diebold machines.
This effect may well be the result of the 'candidate randomizing' that is required by state law, but even assuming that, it's not a good sign that even with the fancy new machines it looks like a number of people either voted incorrectly, or perhaps voted for the first name on a page. Worse yet, perhaps Kunzman was near the "Done" button on the page with one of the major candidates.
I'm not saying we've 'thrown a rod' on these new voting machines, but 'the oil light is on', and we should pull over and find out why, BEFORE the next election.
October 7, 2003
Total Recall 2
Coming soon to a State near you.
October 5, 2003
Hoom! Maps - Walking Directions
Starting from: Bag End, Hobbiton, The Shire
Arriving at: The Cracks of Doom, Mordor
Get your Directions to Mordor Here.
October 4, 2003
Proof That Faux News Makes You Stupid.
80% of people who watch FOX had one or more misperceptions of key facts about the Iraq War, compared to 23% of those who look to NPR/PBS for news.
Whata week. Rush is on Drugs, FOX distorts the news. you don't suppose Arnold Schwarzenegger is Ken Lay's Pocket do you? Well... One Reporter thinks so....
Now, thirty-four pages of internal Enron memoranda have just come through this reporter's fax machine tell all about the tryst between Maria's husband and the corporate con men. It turns out that Schwarzenegger knowingly joined the hush-hush encounter as part of a campaign to sabotage a Davis-Bustamante plan to make Enron and other power pirates then ravaging California pay back the $9 billion in illicit profits they carried off.
Arnold Unplugged - It's hasta la vista to $9 billion if the Governator is selected (Greg Palast)
You think Enron might be one of those companies that Arnold wants to help by simplifying regulations? Maybe California's Civil Code provision 17200, the "Unfair Business Practices Act"? Hmmm.
I have a bad feeling about this.
October 1, 2003
Happy Birthday, Hiptop!
Matias left this happy birthday message in the conference room. (Now if He'd only add some content to his website, hint... hint...)
Hard to believe is was only one year ago.
September 27, 2003
Paul Krugman Webcast
You can view the webcast from the archive, no, make that you should view the webcast.
Roger Karraker has transcribed some chilling quotes.
This train wreck is heading for one of 3 destinations; Cuts in Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid, or Raising Taxes, or Bankruptcy.
With Dubya's luck, we'll hit the trifecta.
This news this week is that Iraq is to become a test case for Neocon economics.
First, was the opening of Iraq to foreign investment and ownership. Iraq for sale. All of it. Well, not all... Halliburton et.al. has the Oil. And when the Halliburton of the world have had their way, very very, little will be left over for the Iraqis. (Can you say Islamic Revolution? I knew you could.) Which brings me to baseball.
Why Baseball? because the rebuilding plan for Iraq looks like the business plan for the Texas Rangers. The Neocon Model is to have the taxpayers pay to build the stadiums, so that the private investors can become heinously wealthy. Meanwhile, back to Iraq, the economy has been so impoverished by years of abuse that there isn't enough tax base to build the neocon baseball stadiums. But they have oil, right? Can't they build the baseball stadiums with oil income? Bzzzt. Wrong. Halliburton was there first. So a little light blinks on* and the Neocons slap themselves on their foreheads, crying out; "Of course! We'll get our Iraqi baseball stadiums from the same place we always get our baseball stadiums, from the American Taxpayers!"
You know, there's a part of me ready to give them the money to turn Iraq into a Neocon Disneyland, but only if they all move there, and stop running this country into the ground.
* Not a high-efficiency compact fluorescent bulb, to be sure.
September 24, 2003
Nothing to see here. Move on.
No weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq by the group tasked with looking for them, according to a Bush administration source who has spoken to the BBC.
The source told the presenter of BBC television's Daily Politics show, Andrew Neil, this was the conclusion of the Iraq Survey Group's interim report, which the source said was due to be published next month.
Mr Neil said the draft report says it was highly unlikely that weapons of mass destruction (WMD) were shipped out of the country to places like Syria before the US-led war on Iraq.
It will also claim that Saddam Hussein mounted a huge programme to deceive and hinder the work of UN weapons inspectors, he said.
Mr Neil said, according to the source, the report will say its inspectors have not even unearthed "minute amounts of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons material".
So here's a question; why wasn't ABC/NBC/CBS/CNN/FOX/CNBC/MSNBC talking to that source?
September 22, 2003
Darrell Issa, the political terrorist who lit the fuse on the California recall debacle, is having second thoughts. It seems that he's done the math and realizes that if Grey Davis is recalled, that the Democratic front runner is Cruz Bustamonte, who is more liberal than Davis, and Bustamonte would win if the two leading Republicans remain on the ballot.
He now councils that voters wait for the last second to make up their minds, hoping that the game of chicken being played between the anything to win and far-right wings of the GOP will be resolved before the election. If not, he's now saying Vote NO on the recall.
September 19, 2003
Arrr. It be national talk like a pirate day.
Backhits - Paper Planes
September 15, 2003
What makes the Bush-haters so mad?
Whence the anger? It begins of course with the "stolen" election of 2000 and the perception of Bush's illegitimacy. But that is only half the story. An illegitimate President winning a stolen election would be tolerable if he were just a figurehead, a placeholder, the kind of weak, moderate Republican that Democrats (and indeed many Republicans) thought George Bush would be, judging from his undistinguished record and tepid 2000 campaign.
Bush's great crime is that he is the illegitimate President who became consequential — revolutionizing American foreign policy, reshaping economic policy and dominating the political scene ever since his emergence as the post-9/11 war President.
Before that, Bush could be written off as an accident, a transitional figure, a kind of four-year Gerald Ford. And then came 9/11. Bush took charge, declared war, and sent the country into battle twice, each time bringing down enemy regimes with stunning swiftness. In Afghanistan, Bush rode a popular tide; Iraq, however, was a singular act of presidential will.
By CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER at CNN
Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe. ceehiro.
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT
You can read the PDF of the court ruling in the California recall here.
Plaintiffs' claim presents almost precisely the same issue as the Court considered in Bush [vs Gore], that is, whether unequal methods of counting votes among counties constitutes a violation of the Equal Protection Clause. In Bush, the Supreme Court held that using different standards for counting votes in different counties across Florida violated the Equal Protection Clause. 531 U.S. at 104-07. The Plaintiffs' theory is the same, that using error-prone voting equipment in some counties, but not in others will result in votes being counted differently among the counties. In short, they contend that a vote cast in Los Angeles or San Diego is entitled to the same weight as a vote cast in San Francisco.
No voting system is foolproof, of course, and the Constitution does not demand the use of the best available technology. However, what the Constitution does require is equal treatment of votes cast in a manner that comports with the Equal Protection Clause. Like the Supreme Court in Bush, "[t]he question before [us] is not whether local entities, in the exercise of their expertise, may develop different systems for implementing elections." 531 U.S. at 109. Rather, like the Supreme Court in Bush, we face a situation in which the United States Constitution requires "some assurance that the rudimentary requirements of equal treatment and fundamental fairness are satisfied." Id.
It is virtually undisputed that pre-scored punchcard voting systems are significantly more prone to errors that result in a voter's ballot not being counted than the other voting systems used in California. As the Supreme Court observed in Bush: "This case has shown that punchcard balloting machines can produce an unfortunate number of ballots which are not punched in a clean, complete way by the voter." 531 U.S. at 104.
In addition to difficulties with punching the card, there are mechanical and software anomalies that compound the error rate. In California, the Secretary of State's decertification is almost dispositive of the question of the viability of prescored punchcard voting systems. In banning the systems from use in California, the Secretary was required by state law to find that a voting system was "defective" and "unacceptable" before issuing an official proclamation of decertification.
I wonder what the Supreme Court will make of this. I looks like the district court tied their hands with their own ruling. Hoist on their own petard.
P.S. I was a little surprised when I looked up the dictionary meaning of that phrase, I'd always known it meant something like "undone by one's own devices" but somehow the the original French seems more appropo to this case; The Supreme Court may soon find themselves again stewing in the effluvium of Bush v Gore.
September 14, 2003
Iraq WMD report shelved due to lack of evidence
London: After failing to get any evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the US and Britain have decided to delay indefinitely the publication of a full report on the controversial issue, media reported today.
Efforts by the Iraq Survey Group, an Anglo-American team of 1,400 scientists, military and intelligence experts, to scour Iraq for the past four months to uncover evidence of chemical or biological weapons have so far ended in failure, The Sunday Times claimed in its report.
It had been expected that a progress report would be published tomorrow but MPs on the British Parliaments security and intelligence committee have been told that even this has been delayed and no new date set.
British defence intelligence sources have confirmed that the final report, which is to be submitted by David Kay, the survey groups leader, to George Tenet, head of the CIA, had been delayed and may not necessarily even be published, the paper said.
Check your local paper tomorrow. If this isn't front page news, then the only thing David Kay has uncovered in Iraq is the power of the vast right wing media in the USA.
September 13, 2003
But skeptics say that rapid growth after 1982 proves nothing: a severe recession is usually followed by a period of fast growth, as unemployed workers and factories are brought back on line. The test of tax cuts as a spur to economic growth is whether they produced more than an ordinary business cycle recovery. Once the economy was back to full employment, was it bigger than you would otherwise have expected? And there Reagan fails the test: between 1979, when the big slump began, and 1989, when the economy finally achieved more or less full employment again, the growth rate was 3 percent, the same as the growth rate between the two previous business cycle peaks in 1973 and 1979. Or to put it another way, by the late 1980's the U.S. economy was about where you would have expected it to be, given the trend in the 1970's. Nothing in the data suggests a supply-side revolution.
Does this mean that the Reagan tax cuts had no effect? Of course not. Those tax cuts, combined with increased military spending, provided a good old-fashioned Keynesian boost to demand. And this boost was one factor in the rapid recovery from recession that developed at the end of 1982, though probably not as important as the rapid expansion of the money supply that began in the summer of that year. But the supposed supply-side effects are invisible in the data.
The Tax-Cut Con New York Times Magazine.
September 12, 2003
Yamanote29 a website dedicated to the Yamanote Line, including audio of the little songs that each station play when the trains close their doors.
I have great memories of riding the Yamanote line. On one train, the conductor or engineer who made the live announcements sounded just like Popeye. Really. Ask My wife. I walked arround the rest of the day doing Popeye impressions. "Ueno Station - Ueno, yuk yuk yuk". (Okay, It's way better in person. I do a passable Popeye.)
On another trip, 5 school girls, maybe 7-8 years old, boarded together and began to practice the play they were going to do the next day. They left the train, one at a time, at different stations. They wore their passes in little plastic holders that hung on strings over their heads. Clearly, they commuted to school by themselves every day on the Yamanote line. I can't imagine a scene like that in the USA.
Saddam didn't lie; there are no WMDs, UN inspectors say
The UN's senior weapons inspectors now say they believe Saddam Hussein was telling the truth when he claimed he had no weapons of mass destruction.
In addition, the Iraqi nuclear program was in such a shambles it was unlikely to be able to produce atomic weapons any time soon.
The Dalai Lama said Wednesday that the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan may have been justified to win a larger peace, but that is it too soon to judge whether the Iraq war was warranted.
A subtle distinction, that, but one critical under international law.
Back in late May Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz admitted: "For bureaucratic reasons we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on."
Such an imminent threat is the only reason recognized for going to war under international law. "bureaucratic reasons?" you bet. Going to war for any of the other reasons the administration has since dredged up after the fact is a war crime.
Note to Mr. Wolfowitz: The Hague can be very cold in the winter. Bring a sweater.
September 11, 2003
Two Years On
It seemed as if two great tides emanated in response to the tragedy of that Tuesday. One was a sense of generosity, a deep compassion that expressed itself in immediate acts of cooperation and support. The other was a sense of patriotism, a strong consciousness of our American identity. When those two tides overlapped, as they often did in the months after 9/11, the result was impressive and profoundly moving. But we have also seen, in the past two years, a regrettable narrowing of our idea of patriotism. It has become, for some people in some ways, a more brittle expression of national sentiment — a blind statement of faith that does more to divide Americans from one another than to join them together.
BUZZFLASH: As a professor, if you were giving a lecture and you had to define the economic policy of the Bush administration, could you get your arms around it? How would you define it?
KRUGMAN: There is no economic policy. That's really important to say. The general modus operandi of the Bushies is that they don't make policies to deal with problems. They use problems to justify things they wanted to do anyway. So there is no policy to deal with the lack of jobs. There really isn't even a policy to deal with terrorism. It's all about how can we spin what's happening out there to do what we want to do.
Now if you ask what do the people who keep pushing for one tax cut after another want to accomplish, the answer is they are basically aiming to create a fiscal crisis which will provide the environment in which they can basically eliminate the welfare state.
And you can listen to another interview on Fresh Air (NPR)
Fireworks cancelled: Be, Microsoft settle
However, the lawyers had a rich source of additional material on which to draw. The proceedings would have been enlivened by controversy surrounding the re-pricing of Be stock shortly before the 1999 IPO, and the timing of visits by Microsoft executives to OEMs and the subsequent cancellation of Be appliances by OEMs.
Andrew Orlowski in The Register
And this week also comes the news of yet another security hole in Microsoft Windows. You know, if Microsoft made submarines, they'd come with 500 secret hatches, some of which cannot be locked, and would open inward. This particular vunrability is a bit like finding that one of the hatches can be opened by a garage door opener — from 3000 miles away.
September 8, 2003
The New World Disorder
"Without an overwhelming effort to prepare for occupation, the United States may find itself in a radically different world over the next few years, a world in which the threat of Saddam Hussein seems like a pale shadow of new problems of America's own making."
U.S. Army War College (from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
September 7, 2003
Dubya Reads a Speech to the Nation.
"Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah 87 BILLION dollars blah blah blah blah blah blah blah"
Okay, I guess that makes it 150 BILLION after you pay the interest on the debt. Say hello to a 600 BILLION dollar deficit in 2004.
You know, only one(1) of those BILLIONS goes to Afgansitan. You remeber Afganistan? That's where the [unprintable] who attaked us on 9/11 are.
September 6, 2003
Wesley Clark on Realtime
I'm just wondering, of all the people who has the credentials to say liberal is not a bad word, I'm wondering if I could get you to say that.
General Wesley Clark:
Well I'll say it right now. We live in a liberal democracy. That's what we created in this country. That's our declaration of independence and our constitution. Let me follow on this, okay?
I think we should be very clear on this. You know, this country was founded on the principals of the enlightenment. It was the idea the people could talk, reason, have dialog, discuss the issues.
It wasn't founded on the idea that... that.. that... someone could get stuck by... by a divine inspiration and know everything right from wrong.
I mean, it... people who founded this country had religion they had strong beliefs, but they believed in reason, in dialog, in civil discourse, we can't lose that in this country, we gotta get it back. I gotta follow that, can I follow that?
Because, because, you know a lot of people have said, 'What are you interested in, why would you even consider running?' And they say; "Isn't it just about Iraq?" It really isn't. Iraq is part of it I think the foreign policy has serious problems, but I think the economy and the way that the administration's dealt with the economy has serious problems.
But More fundamental than that, it's about what kind of country you want to live in.
I think this nation wants open, transparent government I think it likes a two party system I think it likes to hear reasoned dialog, not labeling name calling and hateful politics. I think 2004 is the election that the voters have to put that back in.
Wesley, you had me at "it's about what kind of country you want to live in".
Please run. We need you.
Microsoft Settles Be Antitrust Suit
Former competitor wins $23 million, Microsoft admits no wrongdoing.
Microsoft will pay Be more than $23 million after attorneys' fees to settle an antitrust lawsuit that the maker of the Be operating system filed against in February 2002, the companies have announced.
Stephen Lawson, IDG News Service in PC World
Meanwhile, over at MSN, the headline was "Microsoft Settles Suit by Failed Rival". I thought you had to go to Faux News to get that sort of fair and balanced reporting.
I thought the words "Microsoft admitted no wrongdoing" were particularly poignant.
A Google news search for BeOS.
September 3, 2003
Drawbridge Operator -- From the Black and White Photo Album.
September 2, 2003
Pencils Down; or The Day the Magic Died.
Okay, so Finding Nemo was the best movie I saw this summer, but it was the best because it had a great story, great script, great caracters, great pacing, great acting, and great heart. It really had little to do with 3D computer animation vs 2D. (Final Fantasy: The Spirit Within is (un)living proof that 3D animation is no cure for a 1D script.)
In any case, I'd still rate Little Mermaid, a 2D production ahead of Finding Nemo. I remember sitting in my seat, thinking, "The magic is back!" I was thrilled to tears that after a generation of uninspired animations, they'd re-discovered that same magic that made the classics classic.
September 1, 2003
Scans - We got scans
The other day I saw a collection of B&W photos taken in Tokyo in the 60's, and It inspired me to drag out my old 35mm B&W negatives from the 70's and drop a few of them through the scanner.
I'll be putting together a gallery or two, but for today I'm just thrilled that what used to take hours at the enlarger now takes moments in Photoshop.
August 31, 2003
Remember when conservatives supported sound fiscal policies and limited government? The current administration, which is theoretically "conservative," is plunging the country into unprecedented debt and operating the largest secret police force the nation has ever known. If that's conservative, then so was the Soviet Union.
In the meantime, the word liberal has been used by the right to mean "anyone who disagrees with us" or "anyone opposed to the policies of George W. Bush." That brings such noted liberals as Pope John Paul II and Osama bin Laden into the big liberal tent along with Howard Dean and Ralph Nader.
But let's try to salvage something from these two concepts. What fair generalizations can we make about the current division between conservatives -- represented by the Bush administration and its supporters -- and liberals? How about this: Liberals support the idea that individuals are more important than corporations, that as long as there are welfare programs for corporations there should be welfare programs for individuals, that we all have a right to be safe in our homes from government and corporate spies and that corporations that break the law should be punished with the same degree of severity as individuals who break the law.
Jon Carroll in What do liberals really want?
August 28, 2003
Listen to this little anecdote. One of my cousins works in a prominent engineering company in Baghdad- we'll call the company H. This company is well-known for designing and building bridges all over Iraq. My cousin, a structural engineer, is a bridge freak. He spends hours talking about pillars and trusses and steel structures to anyone who'll listen.
As May was drawing to a close, his manager told him that someone from the CPA wanted the company to estimate the building costs of replacing the New Diyala Bridge on the South East end of Baghdad. He got his team together, they went out and assessed the damage, decided it wasn't too extensive, but it would be costly. They did the necessary tests and analyses (mumblings about soil composition and water depth, expansion joints and girders) and came up with a number they tentatively put forward- $300,000. This included new plans and designs, raw materials (quite cheap in Iraq), labor, contractors, travel expenses, etc.
Let's pretend my cousin is a dolt. Let's pretend he hasn't been working with bridges for over 17 years. Let's pretend he didn't work on replacing at least 20 of the 133 bridges damaged during the first Gulf War. Let's pretend he's wrong and the cost of rebuilding this bridge is four times the number they estimated- let's pretend it will actually cost $1,200,000. Let's just use our imagination.
A week later, the New Diyala Bridge contract was given to an American company. This particular company estimated the cost of rebuilding the bridge would be around- brace yourselves- $50,000,000 !!
Baghdad Burning riverbendblog
August 26, 2003
www.okonomiyaki.to/ A site dedicated to Okonomiyaki. (In Japanese)
Jonathon Delacour the heart of things Brilliant musings on Myazaki's Sen to Chihiro No kamikakushi (Spirited Away).
Summer of my Discontent
I'm undergoing a minor crisis of bloging. From last year, leading up to the war, I'd linked lot of political and economic news. During the war I found I had little to add to the discussion, and in the weeks following the war I'd taken some comfort in the Corporate Mainstream Press finally waking up and noticing the mess we were in--enough comfort to take a break from frequent linking.
Unfortunately, it seems that the CMP's interest in the future of America might just have been a summer fling, a pre-vacation story to be replaced by Kobe and the Governator.
ANYWAY. On to the news of the day...
WASHINGTON (AP) - The federal government faces another record deficit in 2004 - possibly as high as $500 billion - and will have a tough time trying to carve out a surplus while the country is saddled with the rising twin costs of war and homeland security.
The Congressional Budget Office is expected to issue a forecast Tuesday that would likely put the federal deficit for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 at near $500 billion, Democrats said. That would be up from the record $401 billion the nonpartisan budget analysts have projected for this year.
The estimate could exceed $500 billion if the war and rebuilding efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan are included, they said.
Analysts to Predict Record $500B Deficit in the Guardian (UK)
If the war and rebuilding efforts are included? IF? Who do you think is going to pay for it? That same "coalition of the willing" who did not send one tic-tak of food aid, not one band-aid of medical aid, not one pooka-shell of financial aid? Fugetaboutit. It's you, and your children who will pay.
August 15, 2003
It's Fair and Balanced Friday, so it must be...
A Fair and Balanced England and Netherlands Photo Gallery
I've weeded through the very best of the over 700 photos I took on vacation this summer in London, Bath, Amsterdam and Haarlem. The result is this Photo Album.
I'd been working on the html format for this for some time, and it leans quite hard on CSS, but I'm pretty happy with the results.
I've tested it with Mozilla, IE and Opera.
It seems to work perfectly with Mozilla, but IE and Opera seem to insist that the page (Which I think is 100% tall) needs vertical scroll bars. I'm not going to special case this, but I'll be happy to change the codes if someone can show me that I'm abusing the CCS.
A Fair and Balanced Look at the Blackout
To pull off this grand theft by kilowatt, the NiMo-led consortium fabricated cost and schedule reports, then performed a Harry Potter job on the account books. In 1988, I showed a jury a memo from an executive from one partner, Long Island Lighting, giving a lesson to a NiMo honcho on how to lie to government regulators. The jury ordered LILCO to pay $4.3 billion and, ultimately, put them out of business.
And that's why, if you're in the Northeast, you're reading this by candlelight tonight. Here's what happened. After LILCO was hammered by the law, after government regulators slammed Niagara Mohawk and dozens of other book-cooking, document-doctoring utility companies all over America with fines and penalties totaling in the tens of billions of dollars, the industry leaders got together to swear never to break the regulations again. Their plan was not to follow the rules, but to ELIMINATE the rules. They called it "deregulation."
What Fair and Balanced People do in the Dark...
WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon wants to cut the pay of its 148,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, who already are contending with guerrilla-style attacks, homesickness and 120-degree-plus heat.
The Defense Department says its budget can't sustain the higher payments amid a host of other priorities. But the proposed cuts have stirred anger among military families and veterans' groups and even prompted an editorial attack in the Army Times, a weekly newspaper for military personnel and their families that is seldom so outspoken.
Tax cuts for the top 1%, pay cuts for our troops in harm's way. That's what I call Fair and Balanced.
August 9, 2003
Don't panic, the old entries have been shuffled off into the 2003 History page
August 8, 2003
The recall mess here in California really has my blood boiling. I really don't know much about Darrell Issa, other than he planned, set, and paid for this fire, and now he's walking away.
It's important to remember that this recall was based purely on the popularity of Grey Davis. There was no charge of illegal activity, there were no blue, red, or any other color dress' involved. Mr. Issa saw an opportunity to use his riches to break down the back door into state office, without all that bother of winning a genuine election. (Hey, Democracy is SO pre-2000.)
In this case (like so many others) the law is seriously flawed, since the mechanics of the recall are: Davis must win 50% +1 Vote to remain governor. If he fails, the candidate with the most votes wins, and Davis can't run. There's a lot of candidates, and no primaries to weed them out, so should Mr. Davis loose, the next governor of California is likely to be elected with as little as 10% of the vote.
Thanks loads, Darrell. You've dropped out of the governor's race, now why don't you resign your seat in Congress? (The timing is good, after all there's an election right around the corner, and you bought it.)
August 7, 2003
Rall's Rule of Ideological Counterbalance.
Try to imagine an ideological 50-yard line, a perfect middle-of-the-road position that represents the median of American political thinking at any given time. George W. Bush falls as far to the right of that line as any president in memory. Bill Clinton sat a little to the left of that line; FDR was about as far to the left as Bush is to the right. In modern history, challengers have been most likely to beat incumbent presidents or vice presidents when they seemed to reside the same distance from that 50-yard line as their opponent. If you're trying to unseat a moderate, swing voters are key. Your best bet is to run as one yourself. But moderates don't beat extremists--extremists do, by motivating their base.
Ted Rall in Yahoo News
Oh, and you remeber Mahdi Obeidi, that Iraqi scientist who kept some 12 year old gas centerfuge parts and hopelessly flawed blueprints buried in his back garden? Just the sort of guy you'd want to ask about those high-strength aluminum tubes, right? He ought to know...
Well, they asked him.
August 2, 2003
A suspect in the Gulf war (1) syndrome
The illness known as Gulf war syndrome looks likely to have been caused by an illegal vaccine "booster" given by the Ministry of Defence to protect soldiers against biological weapons, according to the results of a new series of tests.
Scientists in the United States found that symptoms of the illness were the same for service personnel who received the injections whether or not they served in the Gulf.
Illegal vaccine link to Gulf war syndrome From The Guardian
July 30, 2003
Hullabaloo Hits a Home Run
(Here speaking about Democrats)
It. Does. Not. Matter. What. We. Actually. Do.
We could sign on to a 0% tax rate for millionaires, repeal of Social Security, prison terms for homosexuality and oil rigs in the middle of San Francisco Bay and they would still say we are liberal, tax and spend, tree hugging, treasonous pacifists because it is in their interest to do so. Until we stop tugging our forelocks and sniveling around like beaten dogs, thereby validating their lies, they will be believed by a fair number of Americans. People who turn the other cheek when they are being unfairly and relentlessly attacked are either saints or pussies ... and the DLC aren’t saints.
* Re-districting in Texas.
I have to wonder if the Republicans examined the demographics of The Emerging Democratic Majority and decided that they'd better get everything in their agenda they can, while the getting is good.
At least I sincerly hope that's just the political strategy. After all, if you follow a line through: gutting environmental law, overturning labor laws, breaking nuclear non-proliferation treaties, rending the constitution through the USA-PARTIOT act, basing foreign policy and war on overcooked intelligence, redistricting coup in Texas, recall coup in California… What kind of country does that line end in?
July 17, 2003
Tech TV Screen Savers
I've started to log a bunch of paper airplane hits from the Tech TV Screen Savers Website.
I wonder if it will make the show? (July 17, 8AM Eastern, DirecTV 354)
July 13, 2003
20 Lies About the War
If we really had a free press, they'd be writing this.
1 Iraq was responsible for the 11 September attacks
2 Iraq and al-Qa'ida were working together
3 Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa for a "reconstituted" nuclear weapons programme
4 Iraq was trying to import aluminium tubes to develop nuclear weapons
5 Iraq still had vast stocks of chemical and biological weapons from the first Gulf War
6 Iraq retained up to 20 missiles which could carry chemical or biological warheads, with a range which would threaten British forces in Cyprus
7 Saddam Hussein had the wherewithal to develop smallpox
8 US and British claims were supported by the inspectors
9 Previous weapons inspections had failed
10 Iraq was obstructing the inspectors
11 Iraq could deploy its weapons of mass destruction in 45 minutes
12 The "dodgy dossier"
13 War would be easy
14 Umm Qasr
15 Basra rebellion
16 The "rescue" of Private Jessica Lynch
17 Troops would face chemical and biological weapons
18 Interrogation of scientists would yield the location of WMD
19 Iraq's oil money would go to Iraqis
20 WMD were found
The Independant adds this:
Tony Blair insists the weapons will be found. Never mind that the Foreign Secretary seems ready to admit they never existed. Never mind that bereaved parents say their sons were betrayed. Never mind that President Bush made false claims. Andy McSmith opens a seven-page report on how the absence of WMD is destroying the case for war
July 10, 2003
Falsus in Unum, Falsus in Omnibus*
But this year, when President Bush used his State of the Union address to make his case for war on Iraq, a central claim in his argument was false. And he had every reason to know it was false.
Contrary to what the president told the American people, the Iraqi government had not recently attempted to acquire uranium from Africa. But that false assertion was fundamental to backing the president's larger claim that Iraq posed a nuclear threat to the United States, which we now know it did not.
The question then arises: Did Bush make an honest mistake, or did he and his administration intentionally deceive the American people, in effect leading us into war under false pretenses?
Jay Bookman in The Atlanta Journal Constitution
* A legal term meaning "False in one thing—false in everything." In practice, it means that a juror may discount the entire testimony of a witness who makes a single false statement in that testimony.
Prior to the war, I didn't believe the aluminum tubes story, because given the task of making rockets to fit an inventory of launchers ranging from showroom-new to decrepit, the best practice would be to over-engineer the tubes. It may have been inelegant to over-engineer, but was hardly a cause for war.
Now the Uranium from Africa evedence, critical to the argument for war, is little more than one of those Nigerian scam spams.
And don't get me started on those British made mobile hydrogen trailers for artillery balloons
July 9, 2003
Houses of the Holy
On a steaming summer night, thirty years ago, I awoke from a deep sleep to the sound of background static on my radio. Thinking that the station had gone off the air for the evening, I reached to turn it off, but stopped when I heard the first haunting chords of a song I'd never heard before. I listened in wonder to the melodic guitar and poetic lyrics as the song built and grew;
It is the springtime of my loving, the second season I am to know
There was a long instrumental part, first with acustic guitar doubled with electric, then with keyboards; a tinkly piano and a melotron wash of strings, then the drums, expert and sparing.
...These things are clear to all from time to time...
Then the song srinted to a strong bridge that built up to an emotional crest.
I felt the coldness of my winter, I never thought it would ever go...
It then it road the crest back down, as if it were catching its breath.
Upon us all, upon us all, a little rain must fall.
The melody continued, striping away the instruments one by one until only the guitars remained, ending in an unforgettable trickling sequence of notes.
I bring this up today because it was, literaly, a warm summer night 30 years ago, and that trickle of notes marked the exact moment where my obsession with music turned from passive listening to what became decades of callused and aching fingers.
It was weeks before I heard the song again and was able to identify it, so all these years later, I'd like to thank Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, and the late John Bonham (known as Led Zepplin) for The Rain Song
July 7, 2003
Happy Million Hits Day, Rak!
Rakhal's Penultimate Ranma Fanfic Index reached 1 million hits today. Congradulations!
July 6, 2003
The houses of Parliment and the tower of Big Ben
Every time I visit a new place, I begin to think; "I could live here." I don't normaly go for big cities, but London was friendly and comfortable, and getting around on the underground was great. Sorry to be off the air for a bit, but this was a computer-free trip. I did get take something over 750 photos, watch this space.
June 20, 2003
Tokyo? I wish I could go...
June 18, 2003
You thought SARS was bad? Wait till you meet "CD".
A third of the American public believes U.S. forces have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, according to a recent poll. Twenty-two percent said Iraq actually used chemical or biological weapons.
War poll uncovers fact gap By Frank Davies, Philadelphia Inquirer, Washington Bureau
Something is very, very wrong in America.
How can it be that the simple truth—the truth that not one spore of anthrax, not one molecule of poison gas or enriched* uranium has been found in Iraq?
How can it be that these three simple facts are so illusive to neary every third person you see on the street?
In the article, Steve Kull is quoted, suggesting the condition is "cognitive dissonance". He might be right. Good. Now we have a name for it, not a good name though, since nearly one in three Americans can't remember three simple facts, (even when the answer, "none", is the same for all three), it's clear that they can't be expected to remember that they have cognitive dissonance, so I suggest we rename it "CD", a pandemic disease, fatal to democracy, carried by one in there.
Think about it. In newsrooms all over America editors have to decide what to print or broadcast. I can see it now:
The editor stands before a whiteboard, "Okay, we got Lacy and Scott, and we got Martha, what else we got?"
"What about WMDs in Iraq?", asks a young impressionable reporter.
"Got flim of them finding them?" replies the editor.
"No...." answers the reporter sheepishly.
The editor points to the reporter with his marker, "Then that's not news, bring it up again when you've got film."
Another reporter tests the water; "I read about this cognative dissanance thing, maybe whe could do a story on it."
The editor scratches his chin. "Maybe.. disease-of-the-week sort of thing, it might work, but it sounds more like something related to noisy railroads..."
Imagine instaid, if that reporter had suggested:
"There's this new disease, called "CD" thats affecting one in three Americans. It causes them to belive things that are not simply not true..."
*There's plenty of 'depleted' uranium. We sent it there, at high velocity. Funny thing about 'depleted' uranium, it's really just pure uranium, with the most usefull (to weapons production) Isotope removed. But somehow 'depleted' uranium sounds like uranuim without any uranium in it.
June 16, 2003
Colors in Spanish
Back on the first of June I got a nice guestbook entry from "I-Kun", who did much of the work of translating my colors stories into Spanish.
Unfortunately, the URL he (she?) left didn't work, and the URLS of the translations I'd linked over the years have stopped working. After a little detective work I tracked down the new, prettier website at http://www.elportalfic.com/ I've had a little trouble getting the site navigation to work with Mozilla, so here are the direct link URLS to the stories.
I-kun, Thank you for all the work you've put into this! J.
June 14, 2003
It looks like France was right all along about Iraq, does this mean that I need re-evaluate my opinion of Jerry Lewis?
June 10, 2003
The Duping of America
So while John Dean mulls over whether or not Bush should be impeached [LINK] , many are either unaware or unconcerned about a multitude of Bush sins. If polls are to be believed, most Americans don't care that he lied. It's not as if he misled us about something really serious, like sex with an intern, for God's sake. At this point, Dan Rather could report outright that thanks to Bush administration stonewalling, victims' families will never get a serious investigation into September 11; that John Ashcroft hopes to declare the Bill of Rights null and void; that the Iraq war has been planned since 1992; that many in the Bush administration are reaping huge profits from forever war; and that the White House tried to hide Halliburton's $7 billion in no-bid contracts and many Americans would shrug and wait for the next American Idol.
A Buzzflash Editorial by Maureen Farrell
Does he think we don't notice?
The promises of candidate Bush, who pledged to bring a new tone to Washington and packaged himself as a compassionate conservative, are unmet. On issue after issue the Bush administration is not what it claims to be. Since coming into office, the president has dragged the Republican Party into short-sighted positions that maximize short-term gain while neglecting the long-term needs of families and the nation.
Pundits asked after last November's election: will the president over-reach with his Republican majorities in the House and Senate? Well, President Bush hasn't just over-reached, he has set a new standard for extreme partisan politics that on many occasions has been supported by the Republican-controlled Congress.
In place of thoughtful policy we now have superficial and cynical sound-bites. Instead of confronting pressing national problems, our president lands airplanes while Rome burns.
While our troops search for WMD in Iraq, we have found our own WMD right here in Washington -- at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. They are President Bush's weapons of mass distortion, or better, distraction. The Bush administration says one thing and does another to take the focus off the present realities.
From a speech by Sen. Jim Jeffords delivered at the National Press Club on the second anniversary of his becoming an Independent.
June 2, 2003
Now All Media is Faux
The FCC just put in the ruling.
May 31, 2003
Tonight at 9:00 (PDT) Book TV: BookExpo America Convention Book and Author Luncheon:
Al Franken "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them"
Molly Ivins "Bushwhacked"
Bill O'Reilly "Who's Looking Out for You?"
I caught the last half earlier. Every time I hear Molly Ivins speak I feel better about the world.
May 28, 2003
Photos, Like Butta..
www.hunkabutta.com is an amazing photo weblog from Tokyo
Found in an article on ex-pat weblogs in Japan Media Review
May 27, 2003
There's signs of life over at MatiasDuarte.com!
What if someone gave you this choice: Enact the tax plan just approved by Congress, with its bogus gimmicks for tax cuts that are supposed to expire soon after they take effect and its windfall for investors like Vice President Dick Cheney, who stands to save six figures on his own taxes.
Or secure the future of Social Security and Medicare.
No one in Washington will make you this offer. That's because no one wants to admit that's the deal. No one - at least no one with a big enough microphone - has laid out the numbers in a way that reveals the bottom line. Making permanent the 2001 tax cuts and adding billions of new cuts on top of those, as Congress has done, costs more than fixing the two retirement programs for the next 75 years.
We're Sailing Right Into a Fiscal Hurricane By Marie Cocco in Newsday
May 21, 2003
Let me, as a member of that non-endangered species, give you an example of how the scales are currently balanced. The taxes I pay to the federal government, including the payroll tax that is paid for me by my employer, Berkshire Hathaway, are roughly the same proportion of my income -- about 30 percent -- as that paid by the receptionist in our office. My case is not atypical -- my earnings, like those of many rich people, are a mix of capital gains and ordinary income -- nor is it affected by tax shelters (I've never used any). As it works out, I pay a somewhat higher rate for my combination of salary, investment and capital gain income than our receptionist does. But she pays a far higher portion of her income in payroll taxes than I do.
By Warren Buffett (One of the richest men in America) in The Washington Post
May 20, 2003
On my radio show a few weeks ago, I suggested the answer was simple - it was all about June 2nd.
That's the Cinderella date for the giants of the media business, the day when Republican activist and FCC Chairman Michael Powell will announce whether or not the FCC will allow further mergers in the media business - mergers that will help wipe out the few remaining small, local radio/TV stations and newspapers, and, most significantly, make literally billions of dollars in profits for the industry's giants.
This is all about paying forward, I said. The industry giants are ignoring markets and passing up profits over the short term in order to make bigger money over the long term. It's not politics - it's just good business. If Gore had been in office and his FCC chairman was inclined to approve further industry mergers, Gore would have suddenly found himself equally bulletproof in the media, much to his delight. At least until the mergers were approved.
Move Over, Right Wing Radio - the Liberals Are Coming by Thom Hartmann in http://www.commondreams.org/ Common Dreams
May 12, 2003
House Financial Services Committee
Peter G. Peterson, president of The Concord Coalition testifies before the House Financial Services Committee, April 30, 2003:
Tax Plan Argument Five:
Let's be honest. The ultimate purpose of the Administration's tax cut plan has nothing to do with economics. It's about politics or political philosophy. The purpose is to starve the government of revenue so that, in the long run, Congress will have no choice but to cut back spending and, with that, diminish the size of government.
Some Republicans argue that tax cuts are the only way to reduce government spending in a world in which powerful interest groups, allied with the opposition party, stand ready to punish any attempt to cut off the flow of government largess. A direct approach, they say, is futile. The only practical option is to pursue the indirect but more popular course of revenue reduction, choking off government's resources at the source. True, deficit financing can keep outlays flowing for a time. But as in the famous story of Solomon, these strategists hope that Democrats will agree to cut spending rather than punish our children by smothering them with debt.
This is a seductive apologia. But I have three objections to it: It is unfair, it is cynical, and it is hypocritical.
It is unfair because no end, however legitimate, can justify such means. Nothing excuses holding the next generation hostage—any more than your own children—on the dubious bet that another party will have the good will to relent. What if instead they employ your strategy in reverse? What if they call your bluff, raise your ante, and allow a floodtide of debt to sweep forth? What next step do these partisans suggest?
It is cynical because it assumes that our democratic process is broken and that we can no longer directly advocate a policy for the common good, but must instead rely on subterfuge to achieve our purpose. It assumes a political system in which the two parties are so polarized that they no longer share any common values or aspirations on which open agreement can be reached. I, for one, refuse to accept this dismal view. (Emphasis Added -- j.)
And it is hypocritical. One could take the ostensible goal of the tax cuttersï¿½—smaller government—more seriously if we saw that the party pushing the tax cut were also trying with great energy and diligence to reduce government spending in the near-term and especially in the long term with genuine reform of what OMB itself calls our unsustainable entitlement programs. But we see nothing of the sort.
Peter G. Peterson is Chairman of The Blackstone Group and President of The Concord Coalition. He is also Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the Institute for International Economics. He was Secretary of Commerce in the Nixon Administration.
There is much more in the Full Testimony and It's well worth your read.
May 10, 2003
I have been a avid paper plane flier for the last 35 years. Your designs are the very best! My passion is to fly them from lookouts on the cliff edge in the Blue Mountains west of Syney where it is like a small version of the Grand Canyon. My family and some close friend are now converts and love to partcipate in the paper plane contests. The cliff face launch sites provide free air space and good updraft conditions for planes that are straight flyers and well balanced, so great care is taken in the construction of each competitors entry. Nothing is more entertaining and exhilarating than a perfect flight (which can last up to 45 minutes) as the plane slowly wings its way to the tree clad valley floor below or until one loses sight of the plane spiraling out of sight high into a clear Australian blue sky. On some occasions wedge-tailed eagles are seen accompanying the intrepid paper explorer high above the rugged cliff tops. On behalf of my family and I please accept of warmest congratulations on your excellent designs and for the many hours of fun they have afforded us.
Nick -- Sydney, NSW Australia
May 9, 2003
Virus. Change your Admin Password Now.
There's a really nasty new computer virus going around, and one of the ways it can infect you is by logging in as "Administrator" on your windows machine. Most folks leave the Administrator password blank and the virus logs right in.
So how does the House bill, which is broadly similar to the administration's proposal, stay within that $550 billion limit? Sunset clauses! Many of the provisions would supposedly expire in 2005, others in 2012. Otherwise, it's a bigger tax cut than the administration proposed. And the sunset clauses, like those in the 2001 tax cut, are clearly a mere gimmick: as soon as a tax cut becomes law, the administration will begin demanding that the whole thing be made permanent.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that the true cost of the House bill, without the sunset scam, would be $1.1 trillion over the next decade. You know, $550 billion here, $550 billion there, and pretty soon you're talking real money.
You'll note that I've linked the The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities website. Time after time, the CBPP has been proven right in their analysis, and is concidered to be fair and balanced in their calculations.
Shadowy evil threatens our democracy
Now that President Bush wants to bring democracy to Iraq, it appears he means to dismantle our democracy and then cart the chipped and cracked remains of what used to belong to us off to Baghdad.
Bush's ironically named "Patriot Act" and its successor will undermine the rights of citizens in ways that would make earlier fascist governments smack their foreheads for not thinking of it first. This will become more obvious as Bush's minions begin to pry into the affairs of regular citizens.
By Curt Andersen Green Bay News-Chronicle
I spent my high-school years in Green Bay, it was a sleepy place then, more interested in the Packers than the ouside world (unless they had a team too).
That was many years ago, and I've been gone for a very long time now, but it still strikes me that this sort of article appears in a Green Bay paper. Canaries and coalmines come to mind, but in this case the canary sings when it detects trouble, and Green Bay (at least the one of my youth) seems very, very, far indeed from the depths of the political coalmine.
Now that's supporting our troops
The Bush administration's original fiscal year (FY) 2004 budget called for $1.5 trillion in tax cuts over the next decade, while technically increasing the VA medical budget by 7.7 percent to $27.5 billion. However, this growth was illusory - sustained only by raising veterans' annual fees and copayments while denying coverage to 360,000 of them - and the House of Representatives FY 2004 budget dispensed altogether with any pretense of civility. The $726 billion tax cut of their original version, passed on March 21, was paid for in part by a 10-year, $15 billion cut in mandatory veterans benefits and health coverage.
Mindful of the slowdown in what was once a high-tech symbol of US economic might, Bush's handlers carefully chose his stop in Santa Clara. The President avoided the traditional walk-through at Intel, Cisco Systems or Apple. Instead, as reported by David Sanger of the New York Times, Bush "pulled into the well-protected grounds of United Defense Industries, which produces the Bradley fighting vehicle, tanks and other equipment that became familiar to television viewers watching the 350-mile race to Baghdad last month."
There, standing before an array of weapons used in Iraq, Bush made his stand for a $550 billion tax cut that Republicans pray will revive investment, cut the deficit and bring back thousands of jobs lost over the past eighteen months. He thanked the assembled United Defense workers for their products, especially the Bradleys, which he boasted "were responsible for a lot of tank kills" in Iraq.
But Sanger, along with every other reporter covering the speech, neglected to mention a crucial fact about United Defense. It is majority-owned and controlled by the Carlyle Group, the Washington, DC, merchant bank in which Bush's father, George H.W. Bush, has a direct financial interest and serves as a trusted adviser. Yet the American public was kept in the dark about this relationship by the newspaper of record, along with the Washington Post, CNN and every other major media outlet. To people who follow these things, the silence was deafening.
By Tim Shorrock in The Nation
The Other "F" word
"Fascism is an extreme right-wing ideology which embraces nationalism as the transcendent value of society. The rise of Fascism relies upon the manipulation of populist sentiment in times of national crisis. Based on fundamentalist revolutionary ideas, Fascism defines itself through intense xenophobia, militarism, and supremacist ideals. Although secular in nature, Fascism's emphasis on mythic beliefs such as divine mandates, racial imperatives, and violent struggle places highly concentrated power in the hands of a self-selected elite from whom all authority flows to lesser elites, such as law enforcement, intellectuals, and the media." -- Mussolini
Even taking the President at his word, each new job would cost the government five hundred and fifty thousand dollars in lost revenues, which is about seventeen times the salary of the average American worker. It would be far cheaper for the federal government to give private firms subsidies to hire more people, or to give money to the states, which are facing their worst financial crisis since the Second World War, and which at this moment are being forced to fire teachers, troopers, and health workers. Parks, museums, and libraries are closing; cultural programs are being cut.
The talk of the town in the New Yorker
Hiding The Dots
...President Bushï¿½s chief lawyer has privately signaled that the White House may seek to invoke executive privilege over key documents relating to the attacks in order to keep them out of the hands of investigators for the National Commission on Terror Attacks Upon the United Statesï¿½the independent panel created by Congress to probe all aspects of 9-11.
May 8, 2003
Brezhnev, Bush and Baghdad
Last night I got an email from a Dubya supporter who commented politely on my website, and my "comunitst/socialist" views. (His words) I was civil in my response, and urged him to do his own website.
BYW, here's some comments from people who lived in the USSR...
Many Russians who fled Brezhnev's USSR because they could not speak freely are in a state of shock in today's America. One is Roman Kaplan, an intellectual from Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) and the owner of the "Russian Samovar," a famous New York City restaurant for Russians and East Europeans (visitors and immigrants alike), which he opened in 1986 together with two icons of the Soviet immigration, the late poet Joseph Brodsky and the dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov. "America was our dreamland, the last frontier of freedom," Kaplan said. "Where do we go now? I can't believe I left the Soviets thirty years ago to end up in Brezhnevland here!"
By Nina Khrushcheva in The Nation
May 6, 2003
Let's fervently hope that tomorrow we find an Iraqi superdome filled with 500 tons of mustard gas and nerve gas, 25,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, 29,984 prohibited munitions capable of delivering chemical agents, several dozen Scud missiles, gas centrifuges to enrich uranium, 18 mobile biological warfare factories, long-range unmanned aerial vehicles to dispense anthrax, and proof of close ties with Al Qaeda. Those are the things that President Bush or his aides suggested Iraq might have, and I don't want to believe that top administration officials tried to win support for the war with a campaign of wholesale deceit.
Missing in Action: Truth By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF in the New York Times
Screams of Injustice
The second richest man in the world, Mr Buffett, known as the "Sage of Omaha", criticised plans for tax cuts that he said were designed to fleece the poor and reward the rich.
"I am not for the Bush plan. It screams of injustice. The main beneficiaries will be people like me and Charlie," he said, referring to the Berkshire Hathaway vice-chairman Charlie Munger. Mr Buffett said the tax plan was equivalent to "us giving a lesser percentage of our incomes to Washington than the people working in our shoe factories".
Warren Buffet in The London Times
I bet you didn't see THAT in your local news.
May 5, 2003
America: It's hard to connect the dots when you have Amnesia.
Dubya visited San Jose last week, so some of my local tax dollars went to pay for local police security instead of schools, parks, and roads. I guess he forgot that California has a huge budget crisis, (Causes: Bursting of the Internet Bubble, failure of the Republican economic dogma, and the sack of the Califonia Treasury by Enron et. al.)
But on his way here he made a dramatic if unnecessary Landing on an Aircraft carrier. It must have brought back memories of his time in the National Guard. I wonder if it brought back memories of where he was between Aug '72 and 1 Oct'73? I was at work, so I didn't get to see him speak about Iraq, and what weapons of mass destruction have been found there. (or not)
Well, It's par for the course, I suppose, that Dubya would come to the heart of Silicon valley to visit United Defense Industries Inc. (Major Shareholder: The Carlyle Group, where 41, GHW Bush works). I guess he forgot that United Defense (Once known as FMC, and before that Food Machinery Corporation) had a little trouble developing that Bradley Fighting Vehicle.
May 1, 2003
It looks like the BeBox Zone has been busy collecting loads of BeBox info and images. Give it a look!
April 30, 2003
Cheap News is Good News
And I am very concerned that the same thing is about to happen with Iraq, because we're going to have another Gary Condit, and we're going to have another Chandra Levy and we're going to have another Jon Benet, and we're going to have another Elizabeth Smart, and here we are in Laci Peterson, and these stories will dominate. They're easy to cover, they're cheap, they're fast, you don't have to send somebody overseas, you don't have to put them up in a hotel that's expensive overseas, and you don't have to set up satellite time overseas. Very cheap to cover domestic news. Domestic news is music news to directors' ears.
But is that what you need to know? Don't you need to know what our personality is overseas and what the ramifications of these campaigns are? Because we went to Iraq, according to the President, to make sure that we were going to be safe from weapons of mass destruction, that no one would attack us. Well, did everything all of a sudden change? The terror alert went down. All of a sudden everything seems to be better, but I can tell you from living over there, it's not.
MSNBC's Banfield Slams War Coverage By Ashleigh Banfield in alternet.org
April 29, 2003
Numb and Number
This week Thomas Friedman came to the numbing position that "we do not need to find any weapons of mass destruction to justify this war". (The Meaning of a Skull - NYT)
I am a great fan of Mr. Friedman, but I cannot follow quite that far. In the weeks and months leading up to the war, I took my civic duty very seriously - I ignored the corporate network news, instead watching with my own eyes, and listening with my own ears to each UN security council meeting.
It's perfectly clear to me that the this administration, when faced with any diplomatic choice, chose the path most likely to lead to war, most likely to foreclose paths leading towards peace, all the while claiming that UN-directed disarmament was its goal. (Oh and regime change, but that wasn't added until it was clear that disarmament was achievable)
Over and over again our citizenry was presented on the front page, above the fold, or in prime time backed with colorful graphics evidence! of the imminent threat that an impoverished third world nation was preparing to do mortal harm to the world's remaining superpower. Time after time the evidence simply evaporated, and that fact was then duly reported on page 23A, next to the tire advertisements.
All winter we held a gun to Hussein's head, demanding that he empty his pockets of weapons of mass destruction. We pushed. He backed down. We pushed again, He backed down again. And again. Our friends and allies tried to calm the situation, to no effect. In the end, we, the most powerful nation in the world, pulled the trigger.
Mr. Friedman, I've seen that movie, and it wasn't the guy in the white hat that pulled the trigger. You may well be right that Iraq is immeasurably better off without Hussein, the question is; has our position in the world been immeasurably harmed?
The View From Down Under
But then in America, uttering any threatening remark about the President is illegal and likely to land you in jail. Writer Jonathan Freedland, looking at America's history of tolerance and diversity, said in the Guardian that the country was turning into a very un-American America, "where the limits of acceptable discussion have narrowed sharply and anyone commenting negatively on the war or the President is denounced as unpatriotic".
Barbara Sumner Burstyn: Americans have good reason to be afraid of their leaders
April 28, 2003
Rolling Back the 20th Century
This is a failure of left-liberal politics. Constructing an effective response requires a politics that goes right at the ideology, translates the meaning of Bush's governing agenda, lays out the implications for society and argues unabashedly for a more positive, inclusive, forward-looking vision. No need for scaremongering attacks; stick to the well-known facts. Pose some big questions: Do Americans want to get rid of the income tax altogether and its longstanding premise that the affluent should pay higher rates than the humble? For that matter, do Americans think capital incomes should be excused completely from taxation while labor incomes are taxed more heavily, perhaps through a stiff national sales tax? Do people want to give up on the concept of the "common school"--one of America's distinctive achievements? Should property rights be given precedence over human rights or society's need to protect nature? The recent battles over Social Security privatization are instructive: When the labor-left mounted a serious ideological rebuttal, well documented in fact and reason, Republicans scurried away from the issue (though they will doubtless try again).
Mr. Greider is not afraid to comment on the elephant in the living room. If we follow the course laid in by the right wing, we will find ourselves living in a neo-Dickensonian society.
The right-wing has been mute on its vision of the future, and it's time to demand that they tell us where they would take us. Thier vision is more in tune with the isolated days of 40 acres and a mule, but most of us (who cannot afford ranches in Crawford) have given over 39 1/2 of those acres for the advantages of living in a civil society, and we simply cannot go back.
April 21, 2003
We're Better Than This.
A reader of this column, irate over my criticisms of the Bush administration, e-mailed me a warning the other day. Pretty soon, he said, people won't be allowed to write the kinds of things you are writing.
The way things are going, he could be right. This attitude - that you'd better not criticize the government, and if you do you're unpatriotic and deserve to be shipped off to a country where they chop people's hands off - is gaining currency here. It's emboldened by the message that's emanating from Washington to Americans and to other countries, and says: "We're in charge now, and you'd better watch what you do and say."
Sheryl McCarthy in Newsday
The fact that both Saddam and his weapons were still missing made for some uncomfortable conversations in Washington—particularly when Saddam popped up again on TV. Virtually an entire air wing of Soviet-made MiG-25 fighters was found hidden in the desert, and more gold-plated AK-47s turned up in Saddam's palaces. But there was no sign yet of the buried nerve gas or a proven biowarfare lab. Polls in America are reflecting relief that the worst is over, more than concern at what remains to be done. But failure to achieve all the ends for which the war was launched may exact a higher cost over time.
By NANCY GIBBS in TIME
Both sides now...
That was then...
You are really messed up. Dude. You need to come out in the real world and see what the other end of the Microsoft gun looks like.
This is now.
Oh, now that I've announced, I want to tell you that I know of yet another well-known weblogger that has also joined Microsoft. Is this a start of a trend? This other person has sworn me to secrecy, though (he says he'll announce on Monday or so). I can't wait! We'll have a big party when we get settled.
I guess Scoble will soon be seeing what the other end of that Microsoft gun looks like.
I wouldn't have mentioned this except that I bumbled into smart tags twice today, once when I was working on my format document, and the second time looking for something else in my 2001 History (where his expressive quote caught my eye). Microsoft Is getting yet another great and passionate mind. He was, and still is right about smart tags. (Listen to him!)
I also wonder which of my public statements (no, I don't scrub my old entries) will tap me on the shoulder when I least expect it.
April 20, 2003
HTML Formatting for Prose 2.0
Over the years I've been puttering with HTML in an effort to create an HTML format for the pleasant presentation of prose.
A couple years back I'd published a how-to guide: (Version 1.0 2001) but since then, browsers have improved, the W3C Validator has improved, and my understanding of XHTML and Style Sheets has improved. I kept tinkering with the format, and received no complaints after switching "Yellow" over to the new format. (Of course, perhaps that's because nobody is reading...)
ANYWAY, without further adeu, I present the new and improved: HTML Formatting for Prose 2.0
Let me know what you think.
April 17, 2003
Let's cancel this green charade
We have an EPA director who has disappeared (has anyone checked to see if Christie Whitman is even alive?), an interior secretary who spends more time in corporate board rooms than she does overseeing our natural treasures, and an administration determined to gut 33 years of progress since Earth Day 1970. Seven states, including ours, are having to sue the EPA just to get them to enforce the law (Clean Air Act). What kind of con game is this?
If I were to list the anti-environment acts that George W. Bush and his GOP lackeys have done, I'd fill my next two column spaces. Lately, though, he and Interior's Gale Norton have been obsessed with drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Despite several defeats, they keep bringing this bill up for a vote. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), in the hateful spirit of these times, has vowed revenge against all who vote against it.
War appealed to Americans' fear
"Bush won his support for this war through deception," observes MSNBC commentator Eric Alterman, "and the media helped." He cited a Los Angeles Times report that despite the CIA's evidence to the contrary, nearly 80 percent of Americans believed the administration's claim that Saddam Hussein had "close ties" to Al-Qaeda, while 60 percent said they believed Hussein had some responsibility for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
"If 60 percent of Americans believe something we know to be false, and are in support of the war for that reason," Mr. Alterman said, "isn't that a significant aspect of the story? How did they get that view? Who has been misleading them? What are the media doing about setting them straight?"
April 16, 2003
Time To Get Angry. (No, Long Past Time.)
And in the midst of all this madness, where is the political opposition? Where have all the Democrats gone? Long time passing, long time ago. (Applause.) With apologies to Robert Byrd, I have to say it is pretty embarrassing to live in a country where a five-foot- one comedian has more guts than most politicians. (Applause.) We need leaders, not pragmatists that cower before the spin zones of former entertainment journalists. We need leaders who can understand the Constitution, congressman who don't in a moment of fear abdicate their most important power, the right to declare war to the executive branch. And, please, can we please stop the congressional sing-a- longs? (Laughter.)
In this time when a citizenry applauds the liberation of a country as it lives in fear of its own freedom, when an administration official releases an attack ad questioning the patriotism of a legless Vietnam veteran running for Congress, when people all over the country fear reprisal if they use their right to free speech, it is time to get angry. It is time to get fierce. And it doesn't take much to shift the tide. My 11-year-old nephew, mentioned earlier, a shy kid who never talks in class, stood up to his history teacher who was questioning Susan's patriotism. "That's my aunt you're talking about. Stop it." And the stunned teacher backtracks and began stammering compliments in embarrassment.
'A Chill Wind is Blowing in This Nation...' Transcript of the speech given by actor Tim Robbins to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on April 15, 2003.
Have we no shame?
This budget resolution is a sham. The spending and deficit numbers it contains are phony; and I doubt that there is a member in this body who believes the assumptions included in this budget.
We haven't even figured out yet how we are going to pay for the war -- a war that began three weeks ago, and that this Administration has been eyeing since it took office two years ago. The budget is in deficit. Under this so-called balanced plan, the national debt will almost double in just 10 years, reaching $12 trillion by 2013. That's trillion, with a capital "T". We are borrowing hundreds of billion of dollars and exhausting the Social Security surpluses to just finance the current operations of government.
April 15, 2003
Fun with Math -or- The Price you Pay
This article at News.com contains a couple of interesting factoids:
...an antitrust battle that attorneys estimate may have cost as much as $100 million in legal fees...
Today, Microsoft continues to dominate the PC software industry, holding more than $52 billion in cash and short-term investments despite the stagnation in high-tech spending.
So, unless my calculator is broken, Microsoft spent one dollar out of every 520 they had in the bank to defend the anti-trust case. (Remember, they were found in violation of anti-trust laws, and anyway, that was before the market bubble, they probably had a lot more in the bank.)
Just for fun, if you made minimum wage in Washington ($7.01) and worked 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year—you'd make $14,580.80 What if you were hit with a similar scale legal bill? It'd set you back $28.04, or four hours work.
As the war began, members of the House of Representatives gave speech after speech praising our soldiers, and passed a resolution declaring their support for the troops. Then they voted to slash veterans' benefits.
Some of us have long predicted that the drive to cut taxes on corporations and the wealthy would lead to a fiscal dance of the seven veils. One at a time, the pretenses would be dropped — the pretense that big tax cuts wouldn't preclude new programs like prescription-drug insurance, the pretense that the budget would remain in surplus, the pretense that spending could be cut painlessly by eliminating waste and fraud, the pretense that spending cuts wouldn't hurt the middle class.
There are still several veils to remove before the true face of "compassionate conservatism" is revealed, but we're getting there.
If memory serves, congress waited to the dead on night to cut the veterans' benefits.
Maybe it's all part of Dubya's re-election plan. Pay off the big contributers—big time, simultaniously leaving our economy in such a mess that no one else would want the job.
April 14, 2003
Good Fences Make Good Neighbors
Photo: DC Independent Media Center
This 8-foot double fence has been erected near the Whitehouse and Lafayette Park in Washington D.C. I'm not sure why this particular image got my attention, perhaps it was the empty streets.
April 13, 2003
At the same time coalition forces are bringing liberty to Iraqis, organizations on both the left and right of the U.S. political spectrum say members of Congress led by Sen. Orrin Hatch are trying to strip precious rights from Americans.
Utah's senior Republican lawmaker last week quietly proposed and then retracted an amendment to eliminate the Dec. 31, 2005, expiration date of the expanded electronic surveillance authority given to the Justice Department under the USA Patriot Act, the sweeping anti-terrorism legislation quickly passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center.
There is growing debate over the complex law's full implications to privacy and civil liberties. Some Republican members of Congress now openly express regret they voted for the bill that Hatch had a direct hand in crafting. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, recently called it the "worst act we ever passed . . . stupid, it was what you would call 'emotional voting.' "
A big chunk of this bill, sections 203(a), 203(c), 205, 208, 210, 211, 213, 216, 219, 221, and 222 are already exempt from sunset.
I don't think it was a good idea to enact this highly complex, 342 page bill in the blinding heat of the moment (when literaly, if I recall, there was still smoke rising from ground zero.
It is time for cooler heads to prevail, for quiet debate and analysis. It's time to fully fund the 9-11 commission so it can do its work.
BTW, It looks like the 9/11 Commission was originally allotted 3 million for the investigation. In comparision, Ken Starr spent upwards of 42 Million (The Washington Post pegged it at 52 Million, that's $52,000,000.00) investigating Clintons pants.
P.S. The Electronic Fronteer Foundation has a few things to say about the USAPA
April 10, 2003
I especially enjoy dragon hunting. I don't go out at special times and I am not a morning person. I have about 3 acres that are about 15 minutes from a river and there are some marshlands in between. This, I am told, is why I am inundated with dragons at certain times of the year. Water seems to be a key when it comes to the dragons.
April 9, 2003
What is happening to our country?
Two old friends of mine—a Jewish couple in their 80s, both retired university professors who fled Nazi Germany in the late 1930s and eventually became U.S. citizens—made a stunning remark to me a few months ago: "You know, all our lives we have blamed our parents and our parents' generation for allowing Hitler to gain control. Now we're beginning to see how powerless they must have felt to stop what was happening all around them."
My friends' melancholy comment came back to me and a palpable chill ran down my spine when I read about the Gestapo-style arrest of U.S. citizen Maher "Mike" Hawash. Two weeks ago, police took the 38-year-old Intel software contractor from his Hillsboro home and put him in solitary confinement (according to his wife) in a federal prison. No charges have been filed against him, and his attorneys reportedly are forbidden to discuss the case. What is happening to our country?
April 8, 2003
I've been "off the air" for three weeks. Partly It's because I've been busy at work, and partly because once the war started, I was unsure of what I wanted to say. I suppose I still am.
I tried to follow the ebb and flow of the war on the web, but there was something wrong and discomforting about it, but I just couldn't put my fingers on it, until Josh Marshall of www.talkingpopintsmemo.com put words to my discomfort. He said:
It's sort of like our national debate over the war is a big Iraq-war office pool, like with the NCAA championships or the NFL playoffs.
I watched CNN, but found it more disorienting than informative, with its 24 hour Baghdad webcam, (Don't look away!) juxtaposed with repeats of the most photogenic explosions and fires of the day or, as often as not, from the day before.
From time to time I'd try to think of a theme for this space worthy of the historic moment, but having never been in the military, I didn't feel that I had the background to comment, and besides there were plenty of ex-generals, both on TV and on the web who had plenty to say.
I also made note of the hostilities that broke out between the weblogs on either side of the issue. I even got one Email and one Guestbook entry lobbed at me from "the other side". I haven't replied to either one, mostly because they arrived after the troops crossed the line into Iraq. I'm not sure why that made a difference to me, but it did, and still does.
It bothers me though, because it reminds me of 9/11, when many of my freinds blacked out their websites for 24 hours. I chose not to, partly in defiance, and partly because although there was a defining event that might cause me to shut it down, I simply could not forsee the mirror-image event that would mark the appropriate time to turn it back on. I though that such a blackout would feel like an empty gesture.
This three week pause in posting didn't start out to be a protest, or a rememberance, or anything purposeful at all, but here I am, without a mirror-image to the start of war, turning my weblog back on again.
I still don't have a lot to say about what's actually happening in Iraq, I'm not there, and all I know is what I hear on the radio, see on TV, and read on the web. In other words, I don't know what's actually happening in Iraq.
Of course, its not like I know what's actually happening in Washington D.C., either, but from time to time the fog of politics clears, and the horrifing damage can be assesed:
In 1944, millions of Americans were engaged in desperate battles across the world. Nonetheless, a normal presidential election was held, and the opposition didn't pull its punches: Thomas Dewey, the Republican candidate, campaigned on the theme that Franklin Roosevelt was a "tired old man." As far as I've been able to ascertain, the Roosevelt administration didn't accuse Dewey of hurting morale by questioning the president's competence. After all, democracy—including the right to criticize—was what we were fighting for.
It's not a slur on the courage of our troops, or a belittling of the risks they face, to say that our current war is a mere skirmish by comparison. Yet self-styled patriots are trying to impose constraints on political speech never contemplated during World War II, accusing anyone who criticizes the president of undermining the war effort.
Last week John Kerry told an audience that "what we need now is not just a regime change in Saddam Hussein and Iraq, but we need a regime change in the United States." Republicans immediately sought to portray this remark as little short of treason. "Senator Kerry crossed a grave line when he dared to suggest the replacement of America's commander in chief at a time when America is at war," declared Marc Racicot, chairman of the Republican National Committee.
Notice that Mr. Racicot wasn't criticizing Mr. Kerry's choice of words. Instead, he denounced Mr. Kerry because he "dared to suggest the replacement of America's commander in chief"—knowing full well that Mr. Kerry was simply talking about the next election. Mr. Racicot, not Mr. Kerry, is the one who crossed a grave line; never in our nation's history has it been considered unpatriotic to oppose an incumbent's re-election.
The Last Refuge By PAUL KRUGMAN
I try not to quote so much of an article, but I fear that a smaller quote would have left the wrong impression.
March 19, 2003
It just doesn't make any sense for the Senate to be discussing drilling in ANWAR today.
It just doesn't make any sense for the House to be discussing bankruptcy reform today.
Oh never mind, C-Span 3 is talking about domestic voilence. Now I feel better.
March 18, 2003
Byron Dorgan, Democratic Senator from North Dakota is making some critical points; the Republican leadership is pushing through the budget resolution (including giant tax cuts) this week, before the cost of the war on Iraq has been added to the budget.
That chart above? It doesn't yet include the cost of the war.
What I don't understand is, what kind of country is Dubya (un)making?
By the way, Orin Hatch is a dangerous idiot. What is he thinking, scheduling another vote on Estrada for today? Shouldn't the war come first?
Hey! John McCain just said "I can not in good concience vote in favor of tax cuts, irespective of their size, or to which segment of the population they are targeted..." Oh my, call the CDC, there's a breakout of thinking in the Senate!
The Rest is Darkness.
It is as if in recent months we've been watching a Shakespearean king who is deaf to all but his own whispering advisers. He plunges recklessly toward a disaster that everyone except him can see, a disaster that is sprouting wild arms and smashing things it was never meant to smash. He seems willfully to be choosing not to see because to acknowledge what is ahead would mean reconsidering his path. And reconsidering his path would, he believes, show weakness.
A weakness parading as strength By Joan Ryan in SFGATE.com
The View from Down Under
Just last month, forty three of Australia's most senior international law experts signed a letter declaring that "the initiation of a war against Iraq by the self-styled "coalition of the willing" would be a fundamental violation of international law" which could "involve committing both war crimes and crimes against humanity". They warned that Australian military personnel and government officials faced the threat of being hauled before the International Criminal Court if they took part.
It's legal, believe me By Margo Kingston in smh.com.au
Oh—I've got such a very bad feeling about this. Even if some costume of legitamacy could be found for this war, most of the world will forever see it as a fundamental violation of international law and involve committing both war crimes and crimes against humanity.
But there's more...
John Howard has lost it. At his press conference today, he cut off war questions, turned his back and walked away. Then someone said "Steve Waugh". Howard bounced back to the presidential lectern, grinned widely, showing his teeth for what seemed like an eternity, and settled in for a rave about the great man. Australia is about to go to war, for God's sake.
John Howard's government has been lying to the Australian people about his intentions for so long now that even its most senior ministers are fluffing their lines. In an interview yesterday, Peter Costello refused to speculate about the leadership because "We have a war on".
A question of legitimacy By Margo Kingston in smh.com.au
Notice Someting? The Australian Press still asks hard questions. You know if we really had a free press, we wouldn't be in this mess.
Maybe one of the things that I find so depressing about this is that this is the first real "Internet war", and information is no longer contolled by the evening news, and yet a shocking number of Americans still believe basic untruths.
March 13, 2003
Industrial Park: Ignoring the facts to give you the truth
March 11, 2003
Where have you been?
Oh my. ABC woke up and discovered that this war has been on the agenda since 1989.
Who knows, maybe next year they'll they'll get arround to looking into that whole 2000 election thing.
Can you say Voter Roll Ethnic cleansing? I knew you could.
March 10, 2003
Tonight our local CBS affiliate has been teasing about "weapons Blix is Hiding"
To put it in perspective, this new drone the inspectors found has a wingspan of 24 feet 5 inches, which is 8 feet 9 inches less than a Cessna 150.
P.S. Yesterday I'd said it was 7'9", smaller. Oops. Now you know why I do all my work in metric.
hopes of peace in the Middle East would be ruined if a war with Iraq were not backed by international unity.
Bush Sr warning over unilateral action In the (London) Times Online
Yup, 41 was "a former US Ambassador to the UN and comes from a family steeped in multi-lateralist traditions."
Bombs or Alka-Seltzer?
The Progressive magazine (February 2003) referred to Bush's belief he can purge the world of evil at the point of a gun as "messianic militarism." Bush has referred to his mission to "democratize" the Middle East as his "crusade," calling perceived enemies "evildoers" and members of an "axis of evil."
The Progressive quotes reporter Bob Woodward as saying that Bush characterizes his "mission" and that of the U. S. "in the grand vision of God's master plan." According to Woodward's book, BUSH AT WAR, Bush often states he operates mainly by gut instinct. He told Woodward, "I'm not a textbook player. I'm a gut player."
'Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man' by Carla Binion
Somehow, when I read this passage I was reminded of another...
"Because," said Scrooge, "a little thing affects them. A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!"
A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens
Can it be that we are about to go to war over MACHO NACHOS?
And Now, for Something Completely Different...
Mr. Bush is right, Saddam Hussein is a nasty man and nobody I know has the least objection to Mr. Bush killing him. It's just the way he proposes doing it that worries me. Dropping 3000 bombs in 48 hours on Baghdad is going to kill a lot of other people who, as far as I am aware, are not nasty at all.
That's the bit of the 'moral' argument I don't follow. It's a bit like the police saying they know a murderer comes from the south of England so they are going to execute everybody in Epsom.
Then again why does Mr. Bush need to drop 3000 bombs on Saddam Hussein? I would have thought one would have been enough to take him out, if he knows where Saddam is. And if he doesn't know where he is, what on earth is the moral justification for dropping any bombs at all? Doesn't Mr. Bush realise they are dangerous things and tend to kill people when they land?
Terry Jones writes regularly for The Observer. To all those readers who have written in to ask if this Terry Jones had anything to do with Monty Python, the answer is yes.
Mr Bush goes for the kill There is a "moral case" for taking out Saddam. But what about everybody else? By Terry Jones
March 7, 2003
Thank you, Johns Hopkins!
C-Span did replay Mr. Friedman's lecture last night, so I caught the whole thing. You can listen to a Real Audio stream of New York Times Columnist Thomas Friedman giving the Rostov Lecture on March 6, 2003, courtesy of Johns Hopkins University.
BTW, Mr. Friedman leans toward action in Iraq, but makes eloquent arguments on both sides of the issue.
Mr. Friedman's lecture crystalized my position on Iraq.
When Americans are asked, they fall into three groups; the 20% who say "Now, no matter what", the 20% who say "Never, no matter what", and those in the middle, who say "It depends". I fall into that middle group.
It depends on doing it for the right reasons;
Friedman said it best, Hussein's real threat to the United States is diminimus. The trouble is that the Bush Administration's has made many accusations of Hussein's connections to terrorism, but in case after case, the evidence breaks down. There is a concept in law, Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus, it means "False in one thing, false in everything." By presenting red herrings, one after the other, or in this case, herrings dipped in red paint, the administration undercut its own argument for war.
It depends on doing it together.
War is so terrible, so serious, so final that the cause for war must be so clear, so free of falsehood, as to overcome the revulsion of civilized nations. That case was made for Desert Sheild/Storm (although we later found that some of the evidence presented was false) and the community of nations stood up to take unified action against Hussein. I like to say that I'm just a simple country engineer, (much to the consternation of my old boss Jean-Louis), but as such don't have access to the same intellegence, as world governments, so I must trust them to evaluate the evidence, and come to a decision. I know those descisions are not made in a vacuum, that the local interests of each country are entwined into the thought process. The lack of international support, especially the lack of support from Iraq's closest neighbors undercuts the case for war.
It depends on who is doing it.
The who here is not so much the roster of the states supporting action, the who speaks more to morals and ethics of those states, specifically those of the United States. Friedman nailed it, if we're going to go in to "fix" Iraq, if we are going to "fix" things in the world, we need to be consistant. We cannot point to Hussein and say "we shall fix this" then point to global warming and say "nevermind, we'll keep our humvees". In case after case, from Kyoto to the Test Ban Treaty, the Bush administration has sent the wrong message to the world. For the US to "go it alone" would be seen as another humiliating slap in the face of the powerless, from Abu Dhabi to Zimbabwe.
March 6, 2003
I just happend into the last few minutes of a speech by Thomas L. Friedman (New York Times Columnist) on C-span 2. All I can say is this man is brilliant, and has an incredible grasp of the world. I really, really hope C-span makes it available online.
Dubya's speech left me with a knots in my guts, Friedman's speech helped untie the knots. It's comforting to know that there are still wise and thoughtful minds in this world.
BTW: This bit from Dubya's press conference (the subject was North Korean nukes) gave me pause:
They may end up in the hands of dictators, people who are not afraid of using weapons of mass destruction, people who try to impose their will on the world or blackmail free nations. I'm concerned about it.
March 5, 2003
What Liberal Media? no, What Lazy Media.
Tyndall says that until the peace demonstrations, the Big Three networks concentrated heavily on the Bush administration.
Of 414 stories on the Iraqi question that aired on NBC, ABC and CBS from Sept. 14 to Feb. 7, Tyndall says that the vast majority originated from the White House, Pentagon and State Department. Only 34 stories originated from elsewhere in the country, he says.
March 5, 2003
Chess, Parcheesi or Tic-Tak-Toe?
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer accused Iraq of concealing the existence of the Al Samoud missiles until now, as part of the gaming of inspections by Baghdad. But Mr. Fleischer was wrong, because the Iraqis revealed the existence of the missiles in their December report to the U.N. Security Council. Iraqi officials have argued that they aren't required to destroy those missiles under Resolution 1441 or earlier U.N. resolutions, yet they have begun to do so under orders from U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix.
The complication is that the Iraqis may refuse to complete the destruction of the missiles because they believe that invasion is imminent regardless. Why should they accede to the demands of Dr. Blix, and weaken their own defenses, if the Bush administration intends to enforce "regime change" no matter what the Iraqis do?
March 4, 2003
I have no idea why I find this so amusing.
March 3, 2003
Peace is Inevitable
Now another poisonous idea is driving us to an insane, destructive catastrophe. Actually, it's more than an idea - it's a "meme," a kind of "mind virus" that has infected America like a predatory cold virus. We hate the virus, we know it's weakening us, but we all keep spreading it by infecting others with it. This mind virus is that WAR IS INEVITABLE, so let's hunker down and accept it and hope that we get lucky and don't set off World War III.
The Bushies have done everything in their vast powers to spread this virus. They've engaged in "serial lying" to grow and nourish the virus. You know all the lies by now. SADDAM HAS A NUCLEAR PROGRAM! (Ooops! No he doesn't. Even the Bushies have given up on this one.) SADDAM AND OSAMA ARE BEST BUDS. (Proof? Anyone? CIA? FBI? Anyone? Hellooooooo...) SADDAM IS DEFYING THE UN (Turns out Saddam believes more in the UN than Bush does.)
Perhaps it's just my naive optimism, but I'm sensing a shift away from war. It doesn't seem like there's time to put together a veil of legitimacy in the UN this week, and by next week the new moon is lost, making the initial attack more dangerous for our troops.
Over the weekend the strongest argument on the Sunday Barkfests for attack was that we have all those troops there anyway, so we'd better or we'll look like the sissy.
The trouble is, if we go in without UN support, and without the support of the countries in the region, we'll be the bully.
The best image of the weekend? Think wasp nest vs baseball bat. There's little hope for the nest in that match up, and no hope that the wasps won't sting—again and again and again.
March 2, 2003
It's Good to be the Cat.
Oh Yeah? Well, Deregulate This!
A report to be delivered to federal energy regulators Monday will provide new and extensive evidence backing up claims that a wide range of power companies manipulated California's energy markets and reaped at least $7. 5 billion in unfair profits, sources told The Chronicle.
Compiled by a team of California lawyers who have had unprecedented access to internal company records for the last three months, the report will show that power traders used Enron-style manipulation strategies to gouge the state during the energy crisis. Costs to the state's consumers also soared because power plants were deliberately idled to drive up prices, according to the report, which will be filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Energy report claims vast cheating of state Evidence to feds cites $7.5 billion in overcharges By Mark Martin, Christian Berthelsen in SF Gate.com
March 1, 2003
Terry Gross has done a couple of terrific interviews last week: Paul Krugman, Professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University, and Eric Alterman, Author of What Liberal Media? The Truth about BIAS and the News. Mr. Alterman also runs a great weblog called Altercation
I forgot to mention, the interviews (Follow the links above) are archived and available online in Real Audio format.
February 28, 2003
I keep hearing that the timetable for Attacking Iraq is "mid-March".
New moon is Next Monday, March 3, at 02:35, UTC.
Operation Desert Storm began at 3 a.m., Baghdad time, Jan. 17, 1991, two days after the New Moon.
New moon is prefered for hight attacks, especially early on when taking out emplaced air defenses.
It don't take Nostradamus to figure this one out.
Shell Strikes Again
The Bay Area has some of the highest gas prices in the nation.
Part of the reason for this is that the local refineries are tuned to take the "sour" crude from Iraq, and the futures on that are a bit sketchy. California also demands cleaner buring gas (With all the cars, we need it) and the refineries are getting set to do the winter/summer formula switch.
Hubbert Peak provides a more sobering possibility; It's only 2003, and we've used up about half of all the economically recoverable oil.
February 27, 2003
Matias Strikes Again
Matias left me another cool sketch today. I do wish he'd add more content to his site.
February 26, 2003
The George W. Diet
Suppose you had a friend who was grossly overweight for years but lately had been looking very trim. Suddenly, though, he puts on 30 or 40 pounds and is waddling around like his old porcine self. He explains that he's found a marvelous new diet: "You eat like a pig and stop exercising until you get so fat that you just have to lose weight." Would you say that your friend is kidding himself?
Michael Kinsley in Slate
Meanwhile, Back at the Hill
On Cspan-1, (In the US House of Representatives) a debate on replacing for three years the image on the back of the nickle with one commemorating Lewis and Clark.
On Cspan-2, (In the US Senate) Senators fillibuster on the confirmation of Estrada for Judgeship.
What planet are these people living on?
Nevermind. Cspan-2 has switched to Dubya talking about faith based initiatives.
I feel better already.
February 25, 2003
Sleeping Dogs Lie
They listen to Perle beat the drums of war. It leads to a discussion of democracy. He says that it would be good if Israel were surrounded by democracies. He says it would be good if Iraq were a democracy.
"Democracies," Perle says to Russert, "do not engage in aggressive wars."
The dogs awake.
"What? Is this guy smoking crack?" one reporter nearly shouts. Everyone laughs and nods in agreement. The reporter expressed the frustration and outrage that millions of people around the world know, and what many journalists understand, but almost never articulate.
As I watched the interview, I wondered if Russert was also thinking, "What is he smoking?" I hoped he would say, "Well, Mr. Perle, either the laundry list of foreign aggressions in U.S. history (covert actions like those in Guatemala in 1954, proxy aggressions like in Nicaragua in the 1980s, and overt aggressions including Vietnam and Panama) are make-believe, or the United States is not a democracy. Which is it?" Russert never questioned the core of Perle's arguments: his assumptions on democracy, power, and violence. He moved on to the next topic. His silence spoke volumes.
The dogs go back to sleep.
February 20, 2003
February 18, 2003
Fuzzy, Fuzzy Math
Scratch the surface and you find this sort of thing all over the "news." Democratic complaints that the Bush tax cuts only benefit the "richest one percent" of Americans are duly reported, but leave out a definition of the term. Did you know that you have to earn more than $330,000 a year to be in the top one percent? Nineteen percent of Americans don't. They told Time that they think they're in that top one percent.
A Dissection of U.S. Media Censorship By Ted Rall
No Basis in International Law
Exactly how moral is it, as is now the US-British plan in the next fortnight, to gerrymander UN backing for war by buying votes with US financial largesse? Blair's new concept of the "unreasonable veto" and the quaint idea of claiming a "moral mandate" from a simple majority UN vote has no base in international law. Nor, for that matter, does the concept of an offensive war, as opposed to collective, defensive action. The US and Britain have no moral right to try to reinterpret and thus subvert the UN charter in this way.
Blair's 'moral' case for war in Iraq is shot full of holes By Simon Tisdall in The Guardian
There is little doubt that Saddam Hussein is a war criminal, and that he should stand in the dock before the World Court in Brussels.
I have grave doubts that the United States should undertake an offensive war against Iraq. In such a war, thousands of innocent Iraqis would lose thier lives, and those innocents that live would face another generation of ruin. (Such ruin is the nesting ground of terrorists.)
Suppose he has WMD, and we continue with the inspections: For now its seems that having an invasion force minutes from his border is enough to keep the inspectors in the field, and enough to cause him to give ground on each new demand of the UN. He has a country to loose. An unrelenting pressure would discover the illegal weapons, and erode the threat.
Suppose he has WMD, and we attack, with the intent to "take him out". He has nothing to lose by using the WMD against the US forces, and in the fog of war, some of those weapons would surely dissapear into the hills of Afganistan, to be postmarked for the USA.
Suppose he has no credible WMD, and we continue with the inspections: He remains effectivly nutralized as a threat.
Suppose he in fact has no credible WMD, and we attack. Here is the case most terrible, an offensive war, launched by the US against the will of the UN. In the opinion of the world, It would not be Hussein who should then appear in the dock before the World Court.
February 15, 2003
Frodo has failed, Bush has the ring.
Here's a short list of anti-war slogans found on the web
Stop Mad Cowboy Disease
A Village In Texas Has Lost Its Idiot
Save America, Spare Iraq, Make Texas Take Him Back
War Is SO 20th century
When Bush Comes To Shove
Brains Not Bombs
If War Is The Answer We're Asking The Wrong Question
Killing Innocent People Is The Problem, Not The Solution
Real Patriots Drive Hybrids
There Is No Path To Peace - Peace IS The Path
Tame The Tyrant In The Mirror, Then The One In Iraq
Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld: Axis Of Weasel
Go Solar, Not Ballistic
How Many Lives Per Gallon?
Make Alternative Energy Not War
More MPGs, Less MIAs
Rich Man's War Poor Man's Blood
Has Anyone Seen Our Constitution Lately?
Let's Try Preemptive Peace
Our Grief Is Not A Cry For War
We Have Guided Missiles And Misguided Men
All Humanity Is Downwind
Relax George, Who's The Unelected Tyrant With The Bomb?
If You Are Not Outraged You Are Not Paying Attention
Look, I'll pay more for gas!
Draft dodgers shouldn't start wars.
War is sweet to those who haven't tasted it (Erasmus).
grief is not a cry for war.
You don't have to like Bush to love America.
$1 billion a day to kill people -- what a bargain.
Big brother isn't coming -- he's already here.
An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind(Gandhi)
We can't afford to rule the world.
War is so 20th century!
9-11-01: 15 Saudis, 0 Iraqis.
Don't waive your rights while waving your flag.
I asked for universal health care and all I got was this lousy stealth bomber.
America's problems won't be solved in Iraq.
War is not a family value.
(Picture of the peace symbol) Back by popular demand.
February 14, 2003
$674 billion (thats with a B)
The president wants a $674 billion tax cut. In the first year, 50 percent of that tax cut would go the richest 1 percent of Americans and three-quarters of it would go to the richest 5 percent. In the years beyond that, the concentration at the top actually gets worse, according to citizens for Tax Justice. To pay for that, he wants to raise the rent on subsidized housing for the poorest people in the country and break up Head Start, sending it down to the states, where governments are frantically cutting everything they can. Money to pay for everything from cleaning up Superfund sites to leaving no child behind is being slashed to pay for this obscene tax cut.
You know, I was impressed when Dubya earmarked 1.2 Billion Dollars in debt to develop a hydrogen Car. But it's only a start. I heard a radio interview with a reporter covering the auto industry, he put to into perspective. It cost 2 Billion just to bring the the original Ford Tarus to market. The Tarus was a fine design, but contained no radically new technologies, it was just a good engineering and design refresh on a long established platform.
I have a better idea. How about borrowing $674 billion for a an 'energy-shift' program? The money would go to bring the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Auto to showrooms, and finance the building of hydrogen refineries and distribution infrastructures.
However, not all of the money should would go to Hydrogen, some should be invested in solar power. Some should go (Perhaps as zero interest loans) to build cell factories, and some to basic reseach (Which is paying great dividends).
Some should also go to energy storage; (Flywheel storage looks like a promising technolgy here, a device smaller than a washing machine can provide the average home with enough storage)
So why go $674 billion into debt for energy?
In the '60s, investments the space program were paid back many-fold as the technologies initialy developed for spacecraft found applications through out the economy.
An energy program would have similar benefits:
Jobs would be directly created in the renewable energy industry.
Jobs would be created in the existing indusrties that support the energy indusrty. Someone has to build the factories and pipelines, someone has to make the pipes, someone has to drive the tucks, and so on...
We'd have a cleaner environment.
We'd be energy independant.
It would not only pay for itself, but would have positive effects in other areas; The air and water would be cleaner, we'd be healthier, and our relations with the rest of the world would not be based on oil
And last, but not least, we would be leaving the world a far better place for future generations. That's worth $674 billion. (Would a tax cut do that?)
In your initial remarks you more or less acknowledged the grim fiscal outlook. As your discussion of "accrual" accounting made clear, you know that if the federal budget took into account the future liabilities of Social Security and Medicare—as it should—it wouldn't show the "modest" deficits the White House talks about; it would show a government deep in the red.
February 13, 2003
For a few hours today my website update script was mis-behaving and I lost all of the entries in my weblog.
Thanks to the Google Cache I got everything back but one entry (Which wasn't that clever anyway.)
February 10, 2003
Terrorism, the CIA veterans said, is like malaria. "You don't eliminate malaria by killing the flies. Rather you must drain the swamp. With an invasion of Iraq, the world can expect to be swamped with swamps breeding terrorists. In human terms, your daughters are unlikely to be able to travel abroad in future years without a phalanx of security personnel."
Not that Dubya ever spent much time out of the country anyway...
It's Still the Ecomomy, and He's Still Stupid
Here's an extract from Generating jobs and growth An economic stimulus plan for 2003:
The point of stimulus is to increase economic growth and thereby generate more jobs. We already have the capacity to produce much more than we do, since capacity utilization is only at about 75% and there are many unemployed workers ready and willing to work. What is missing are customers. As the Business Roundtable Chairman, John T. Dillon of International Paper, has said, we need to "stimulate demand and ignite the economy." With wages growing more slowly and household debts high, we cannot rely on consumption maintaining its current growth.
It's going to be an interesting week; France, Germany, Russia, and China are all opposed to the War, Blix is headed back to the UN, and Alan Greenspan will be back up on the hill.
My Tivo's going to be busy!
February 9, 2003
The Big Lie
I've been interviewed hundreds of times. By broadcasters, publications, newspapers, magazines, school papers. You name it, they've interviewed me.
Not once, ever, has the result been factually correct.
Adam Curry May 8 2002
Remember that. Bun it into your brian. Each time you see a story on the news, something in that story is factually incorrect. Think about it. Think about stories you've seen where you might qualify as an expert on the subject. Did they get it right? Did they miss the point?
BTW, yes, it's that Adam Curry who was one of the early "VJs" on MVT, way back when MTV was MTV. I miss him, and I miss MTV.
He has a point, the Big News outlets frequently get it wrong. Tragically wrong.
I heard an interview with Gerald R. Baron, author of Now Is Too Late: Survival in an Era of Instant News on c-span's booknotes yesterday. He mentioned that 55% of US households get news from the internet, and that people who read the news online are likely to drill deeper into the story, and read additional stories on the subject.
He also mentioned that in France, 75% of households read news from the internet. 55% to 75%. I wonder if there is a connection between this ratio, and the ratio of support for war on Iraq.
February 7, 2003
I came across this graffiti in downtown Palo Alto this morning.
It made me sick.
It made me think.
February 5, 2003
Fooled on the Hill
"This tax relief is for everyone who pays income taxes. ... Ninety-two million Americans will keep this year an average of almost $1,100 of their own money."
One third of all Americans will never see a dime of that tax cut. Half of all taxpayers will get less than $100 from the Bush tax cut. Those who make more than $1 million a year will get an average cut of $92,000. That may average out to $1,100, but it ain't going to the average family. As The New Yorker recently noted, if Bill Gates walked into a soup kitchen serving 60 bums, the average worth of the people in that room would be $1 billion each. But it would still be Bill Gates and 60 bums.
Fooled on the Hill by Molly Ivins
The loss of Columbia was to me like a little part of the island of my life breaking off into the sea.
On the day I was born, Sputnik I, the very first artificial satellite, was circling the globe. As a child, I'd get up early to watch the Mercury launches, then Gemini, then Apollo. I still remember stepping outside on a warm summer night to stare in wonder at the moon, while Neil Armstrong stared back in wonder at the Earth.
Like many children of the space program, I'd day-dreamed about becoming an astronaut, read dubious and optomistic science fiction about space travel, but then got swept into the flood of technology developed for the space program.
I'd like to say we belong in space, that it's our destiny, but space isn't a destination, it's just what's between the places we want to go. We belong on the Moon, and on Mars, and perhaps one day, beyond. Space is just the ocean between the islands, and for too many years we've stayed too close to shore.
NASA and the space program once drove the development of technologies from velcro to the microprocessor, but now the crew's laptops are more powerful than the onboard computers. NASA has made more than 100 flights in the shuttle, on a platform designed a generation ago. There have been improvements in the design over the years, but the shuttle no longer drives new technology.
It's time to task NASA to develop new technologies for a new generation of space vehicles. That's what NASA does best. They will have engineering challenges, and solve them. They will need new materials, and develop them. They will drive new manufacturing processes, and perfect older ones. After all, NASA has spent no money in space, every dollar is spent here on Earth*, and I'd rather see the NASA budget go to developing technologies for the future than to maintaining the technologies of the past.
We should ease the shuttles out of the commercial lift business, to encourage private ventures. (Although some caution must be maintained, among the plans of some private space ventures was one that would simply dump their trash out the airlock, not a good idea ™ in orbit.)
In the meantime, I suspect we'll still need to fly the shuttles, and even with future vehicles there will be great risk, and sometimes failure. I'd take the risk.
* I hope in my lifetime that this will not be true. In fact I'd love to be the first person to float into a diner to buy lunch in space.
February 4, 2003
Matias has a website, but I wish he'd put more of his creativity online. He scribbled the image above on a post-it note for me one day two years ago when I was looking at about 30 hours of CAD work that needed to get done in the next 24, and it inspired me to finish on time.
January 31, 2003
Revista Wired premia a creador de Talca
Matias Duarte was interviewed on the front page of the Santiago newspaper!
For those (like me) who's Spanish skills are wanting, you can ask Google to Translate the text.
Edward Monks, a lawyer in Eugene, Ore., did a report for the newspaper there last year on the prevalence of right-wing hosts on radio talk shows. "The spectrum of opinion on national political commercial talk radio shows ranges from extreme right wing to very extreme right wing -- there is virtually nothing else." Monks notes the irony that many of these right-wing hosts spend much of their time complaining about "the liberal media."
On the two Eugene talk stations, Monks found: "There are 80 hours per week, more than 4,000 hours per year, programmed for Republican and conservative talk shows, without a single second programmed for a Democratic or liberal perspective. ... Political opinions expressed on talk radio are approaching the level of uniformity that would normally be achieved only in a totalitarian society. There is nothing fair, balanced or democratic about it."
U.S. falls to 17th on worldwide index of press freedom
by Molly Ivins in Working For Change
January 29, 2003
Distortion of the Union.
A liberal and a conservative were sitting in a bar. Then Bill Gates walked in. "Hey, we're rich!" shouted the conservative. "The average person in this bar is now worth more than a billion!" "That's silly," replied the liberal. "Bill Gates raises the average, but that doesn't make you or me any richer." "Hah!" said the conservative, "I see you're still practicing the discredited politics of class warfare."
This tax relief is for everyone who pays income taxes, and it will help our economy immediately. Ninety-two million Americans will keep this year an average of almost $1,100 more of their own money.
Dubya, January 28, 2003 State of the union
Hey, maybe Bill Gates will buy me a drink with his tax break....
January 28, 2003
It's a small world after all...
I got an email from a cousin yesterday, he teaches course where they happen to use paper airplanes as the "product". It seems that some of his students have been telling him that they found paper airplanes at a website which had a curiously coincidental name. (I'd been named after my cousin's father.)
Well, as it turns out, his students have been using my planes in his class for the last couple of years.
Now just try and get that "Small World" song out of your head.
January 27, 2003
Newswire/ -- Danger, Inc., the provider of the hiptop(TM) wireless solution, today announced that the company was honored as Industrial Designer of the Year at last week's prestigious Wired Rave Awards. Danger and its collaborators were awarded for the design of the hiptop(TM) communicator -- an innovative wireless communications device that is marketed to consumers as the T-Mobile Sidekick. Danger led the design team that included Lunar Design, Meyerhoffer Design and Function Engineering. Honorees for "Industrial Designer of the Year" were Matias Duarte and Joseph Palmer from Danger, and Andy Johnston from Function Engineering.
Danger's competition in the industrial design category was tough, and included Apple for the iMac, General Motors for the Hy-wire and AUTOnamy concept car, Sony for the Vaio and Muji (Naoto Fukasawa and IDEO Japan) for the Muji CD player.
"Danger's hiptop represents a new generation of wireless devices," said Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired magazine. "Every month we see incrementally better smart phones, multifunction communication gadgets, and combo PDAs. But the hiptop offers several functions with grace and ease of use."
18.104.22.168 stopped pinging at 13:30 EST. Thank you! ^_^;
Hey. 22.214.171.124. knock it off.
I update my site on average less than once a day. You don't need to check it 360 times a day.
January 25, 2003
Heyo, Deleware. Patch your SQL servers.
Looks like the flood of hits from the Deleware Schools proxy Server is actually coming from a new Internet worm.
Thanks LOADS, Microsoft.
January 24, 2003
Heyo, Deleware. What's up?
I'm getting a lot of hits from what appears to be a gateway for the Deleware school system. Welcome!
January 23, 2003
Meme Watch: Tax Rates Are Already Flat
Now the Times has provided a more precise accounting that shows that those in the bottom quintile (people earning on average $7,946) pay almost exactly the same percentage of their income in taxes as people in the top quintile (people earning on average $116,666). The bottom fifth pays 18 percent, the top fifth pays 19 percent, and the three groups in between pay between 14 percent and 17 percent-which is to say, roughly the same. Obviously there's some individual variation, but on average Americans pay approximately 17 percent of their income in taxes, no matter what income they earn.
By Timothy Noah in Slate
It's something I've suspected for a while, and new here's some evidence that it's true. Make sure to follow the links.
Americans don't shoot first.
Of late, Ron Owens, one of my favorite radio talk show hosts had been describing some of the people who oppose war with Iraq as (Paraphrasing) the sort of people who wouldn't support Dubya, no matter what he did. It bothered me a bit, because I respect Mr. Owens, and I wondered if I was becoming one of those people.
Being a contrarian, I mirrored the question in my mind; What exactly has Dubya done that I support?. Okay. So I'm not In Karl Rove's Rolodex. (At least not in the "Supporters" section.) I'd describe myself as center-progressive, part of the "lunatic middle" who just simply want things to work. I want jobs, clean air, good schools, trade, peace, and life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
From environment policy, to foreign policy, domestic policy, to economic policy, to educational policy, to the erosion of our personal freedoms, very nearly every action of Dubya's administration is in opposition to my ideals.
Ron, for someone like me, there's really not a lot to support.
Ron Owens is heard on KGO radio AM 810 weekdays from 9:00 to Noon. He has come down solidly behind the attack on Iraq, even without the support of the UN.
January 21, 2003
Small-business owners have been using the $25,000 equipment deduction to help finance purchases of trucks and SUVs. With vehicles in the $47,000 price range, such as the Ford Excursion, more than $30,000 of the purchase price can be deducted, reducing a small business tax bill by about $12,600. Raising the cap on business equipment to $75,000 will make it possible to write off the entire cost of vehicles such as the Hummer H2 or BMW X5 in the first year. A small-business purchase of a car, by contrast, might take 10 years to 20 years to fully depreciate.
...Under the Bush plan, the total deduction for a Hummer H1 will go up to a potential $88,722.
SUV tax break may reach $75,000 By Jeff Plungis in The Detroit News
Free? Right. Only in America can you get a "free" 6.8 Miles per gallon*, 6000+ pound SUV. Your Tax Dollars at work.
It makes me want to spit. In fact, if you should find spit on your Hummer, it might just be mine.
January 19, 2003
Dave Bort. Comics. Brilliant.
One of my co-workers (and one of the smartest people I've ever met) has put some of his comics on the web. Read and enjoy.
January 18, 2003
Inspect. Verify. Disarm.
All over the USA, people of conceince have taken to the steets in opposition to launching an attack on Iraq.
I add my voice to theirs. There is no evidence that we need to attack Iraq at this time, and to do so now would kill innocents, damage our position in the world, and would nurture the cause of terrorists.
At least we have inspectors in Iraq, (we have none in North Korea, and they have restarted their nuclear weapons program) we should let them inspect, and should banned weapons be found, dismantle.
January 17, 2003
Off the Wagon
It's O.K. to run a deficit during a recession, as long as the deficit is clearly temporary. But both the numbers and the administration's search for excuses tell us that there's nothing temporary about the red ink. On the contrary, we'll probably be on a deficit bender until the baby boomers retire - and then it will get much worse.
Trust me: we're going to miss Rubinomics. Maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of our lives.
By Paul Krugman in the New York Times
Dubya's Dividend Delight
But the administration apparently prefers the conservative-derided "Keynesian" view that the government can stick a dollar into the economy, stir up many dollars' worth of activity, and get its dollar back. This could be done by building $364 billion of rapid transit systems or buying $364 billion of land for national parks. But that, of course, would be big government interfering with the economy. Better to just try to manipulate the stock market.
By Michael Kinsley in Slate
The strongest evidence that Dubya will have his way is that Microsoft (Who gave more in political conrtibutions in the 2000 elections than Enron) has announced its first ever stock dividend. If this passes, Bill Gates would receive $0.16 per share on his MSFT stock—tax free.
Later in the day.....
Microsoft chairman Bill Gates would own about 1.2 billion shares after the stock split -- giving him a $99.5 million dividend payment.
Connors said the Bush administration's proposal last week to eliminate the federal dividend tax was "just coincidental in timing." But that proposal was certain to increase shareholder pressure.
January 15, 2003
The United States of America has gone mad
America has entered one of its periods of historical madness, but this is the worst I can remember: worse than McCarthyism, worse than the Bay of Pigs and in the long term potentially more disastrous than the Vietnam War.
The reaction to 9/11 is beyond anything Osama bin Laden could have hoped for in his nastiest dreams. As in McCarthy times, the freedoms that have made America the envy of the world are being systematically eroded. The combination of compliant US media and vested corporate interests is once more ensuring that a debate that should be ringing out in every town square is confined to the loftier columns of the East Coast press.
John le Carré in the (London) Times Online
January 14, 2003
Wired Rave Awards
We won! Matias Duarte, Andy Johnston, and myself took home the award for "Industrial Designer".
I'm really thrilled to get the award, but the Hiptop is so much more than the industrial design, or the device itself. The real power of the Hiptop is in the user interface, and device side software, and the back end service that connects each one to the rest of the world.
After all, the 'flip' is only used for a few seconds out of the day....
January 8, 2003
Umm, About that Revolutionary war thing — can we talk?
Britain is pressing for war against Iraq to be delayed for several months, possibly until the autumn, to give weapons inspectors more time to provide clear evidence of new violations by Saddam Hussein.
Ministers and senior officials believe that there is no clear legal case for military action despite the build-up of American and British forces in the Gulf.
By Anton La Guardia and George Jones in the telegraph.co.uk
"It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our freinds." — Albus Dumbledore by J. K. Rowling
I've been worried a lot about the historic mess we are in, and one of the few comforts left to me is that we Americans still have friends in the United Kingdom. Thank you.
And there's a lot of other fences that are going to need mending too...
Caddy's Big and Tall
Cadillac's brand manager says, "Cadillac research showed that there was a real need for the EXT." A real need for a Cadillac pickup? Really? If so, then here are a few things that I really need: An air-conditioned front yard. Iguana-skin patio furniture. Stigmata. Mint-flavored Drano. Gold-plated roof gutters. A 190-hp MerCruiser SaladShooter. A dog with a collapsible tail. An office desk that converts into a Hovercraft. Chrome slacks. A lifetime subscription to Extreme Fidgeting. A third arm. A fourth wife. A smokeless Cuban Robusto. Reusable Kleenex.
BY JOHN PHILLIPS in Car and Driver
No, It's not news, but it's one of the funniest reviews ever written.
January 6, 2003
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January 4, 2003
Now Corporations Claim The "Right To Lie"
Corporations are created by humans to further the goal of making money. As Buckminster Fuller said in his brilliant essay The Grunch of Giants, "Corporations are neither physical nor metaphysical phenomena. They are socioeconomic ploys - legally enacted game-playing..."
Corporations are non-living, non-breathing, legal fictions. They feel no pain. They don't need clean water to drink, fresh air to breathe, or healthy food to consume. They can live forever. They can't be put in prison. They can change their identity or appearance in a day, change their citizenship in an hour, rip off parts of themselves and create entirely new entities. Some have compared corporations with robots, in that they are human creations that can outlive individual humans, performing their assigned tasks forever.
In the 1886 Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the state tax assessor, not the county assessor, had the right to determine the taxable value of fenceposts along the railroad's right-of-way.
However, in writing up the case's headnote - a commentary that has no precedential status - the Court's reporter, a former railroad president named J.C. Bancroft Davis, opened the headnote with the sentence: "The defendant Corporations are persons within the intent of the clause in section 1 of the Fourteen Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
Oddly, the court had ruled no such thing. As a handwritten note from Chief Justice Waite to reporter Davis that now is held in the National Archives said: "we avoided meeting the Constitutional question in the decision." And nowhere in the decision itself does the Court say corporations are persons.
by Thom Hartmann in common dreams
January 3, 2003
Centennial of Flight
2003 is the centennial of Orville and Wilbur Wright's first powered flight. Here's a nice website put together by the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission
January 2, 2003
Price of the 'Liberal Media' Myth
The notion of a "liberal" national news media is one of the most enduring and influential political myths of modern U.S. history. Shaping the behavior of both conservatives and liberals over the past quarter century, the myth could be said to have altered the course of American democracy and led the nation into the dangerous corner it now finds itself.
By Robert Parry in consortium news
One example of this bias came through just this morning. Senator John Edwards of North Carolina announced that he is a candidate for president in 2004, and one of the reporters asked how he could possibly overcome Dubya's popularity.
Well— Dubya's popularity had soared to historical 90% levels after 9-11, but were around 55% and falling on 9-10. They have fallen back down to around 55%, and continue to fall. (Dubya's numbers are at this moment well below Clinton's when he left office.)
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