Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Moving On

Okay, I'm going to stop using Blogger now. I've decided that it's time to move on to my new site, and concentrate on that.

You can find my new site http://www.apathyincorporated.com.

Blogger has served me reasonably well, but it's time to move on. Turn the lights out when you leave, please.
A Thing That Bugs Me

It has become quite common for the right to criticize Europe as being many things. Lazy, economically stunted, uninvolved in world events, things like this.

Let’s set the record clear on a few of these things.

First, the lazy thing. They work shorter hours than we do. In fact, everyone works shorter hours than we do – even Japanese workers work fewer hours a year on average than American workers. In much of Europe, the 35 hour work week has replaced the 40 hour work week. And they get more weeks of vacation than we do.

Wasn’t the goal of progress to make life easier for people? So they’re basically more advanced on this issue than we are – our hours are closer to the start of the 20th century than the start of the 21st.

So, moving on to the economically stunted. Germany’s economy isn’t doing so hot. Neither is most of the world, mind you. Including us. If the bottom falls out of the housing bubble, and the retail sales numbers start to match the dropping consumer confidence index, the US is on the same downward spiral. In fact, the predictions of Germany falling into a Japanese-style depression could happen to the US, too…with interest rates already so low, and a government that’s only working one side of the Supply and Demand chart – the wrong side, currently. So there’s a good chance the US, barring a major change in national fiscal policy, is headed down the same slope. You want to blame our economic structure?

And, lastly, their lack of involvement in world events. This should be read “Lack of involvement in Iraq”, because that’s really it. French troops have been sent to both the Congo and Liberia - the former as a far too limited peace keeping force, and the latter in an effort to rescue US, UK, and other foreign nationals from the fighting there.

And yes, that does say US. As in, our countrymen. The French went in and pulled them out. But Glenn Reynolds calls the French “cowards”.

And then there were the 4 German soldiers killed recently in Afghanistan, where they were part of the multinational peacekeeping force.

So, while Europe is far from perfect, let’s stick to the factually defensible arguments, and let’s not ignore our own shortcomings, huh?
Middle East Happenings, Pt 2.

Yesterday, I looked into the situation in Iran, and gave a few opinions of what was going on there. I wrote it pretty late, so I’m not sure how coherent it is. Hopefully, this will be a little bit better.

Our topic this time? Israel and Palestine. Specifically, the Road Map, the positions that Sharon and Abbas put themselves in, and the efforts of Hamas and Islamic Jihad to stop the peace process.

We’ll start with the Road Map. Matt Yglesias has argued, quite soundly, that the Road Map is over-valued. He believes that it is too vague to be a serious plan – it offers no solutions or even ideas for solutions. All it offers are goals.

While that’s a good first step, more is needed. Issues such as borders, the settlements, and more all need to be worked out. Bush is leaving this up to Sharon and Abbas, it seems. While that’s certainly an option, I’m not sure it’s the best option. The only way these two are going to work together is if there’s heavy pressure from the major players in the region, plus the UN, US, and potentially, the EU.

Sharon, of late, had been doing a very good job of talking peace – calling the settlements the occupation that it is, for example. But the actions of Israel’s military doesn’t mesh with the statements coming out of Tel Aviv. The direct attacks they’re making at Hamas leadership is both destabilizing, and directly undermining the Palestinian Authority’s attempts to call for peace from the resistance/terror groups.

Today, there was a story in the Boston Globe about Hamas, as well as other militant groups, talking cease fire with Israel..

This is good news, but it continues to show that Israel has not learned the lessons of how to deal with terroristic resistance groups. Britain wrote the book on this in their dealing with the IRA over the last several decades, and any nation confronting terror would do good to follow their example (the US’s struggle with Al Qaeda could learn a few things, as well).

By fighting the terrorists with military force, Israel is just making the terrorists look more like soldiers. This, in turn, glorifies them in the eyes of the desperate, which means more volunteers. If you treat them like criminals, they gain no such legitimacy. Britain knew this. The US and Israel seem to have missed the lesson, unfortunately.

There’s also the fact that Sharon appears far too willing to react to Hamas’s efforts to disrupt the process. Every time they do something, he responds with ground incursions or helicopter attacks. This isn’t making Abbas any friends, and it isn’t helping the credibility of the Road Map.

The best thing that could be done about Hamas and the other militants, in my mind, is for Abbas to admit that Palestine doesn’t have the police infrastructure to find and arrest the people behind the attacks, and then to call for the joint cooperation of police and intelligence agencies from the US, Israel, Jordan, and Egypt…maybe even include the EU. This would be conditional on the apprehended individuals being tried by Palestinian courts, and not turned over to Israel or anyone else. It is paramount that Palestine takes steps towards sovereignty, and the help of international police and intelligence agencies would help build up Palestine’s law enforcement infrastructure, as well as instill some confidence in their court system (assuming that they currently have one – I’m not so sure on this point).

The US gets included because they have the most resources, and are something of a neutral party. Israel is involved because A) it shows a real commitment to Israel’s security, and B) Israel’s Mossad is probably the most informed intelligence agency in the region on these groups.. Jordan and Egypt get included because they’re Muslim nations with ties to the US and, theoretically, progressive governments, at least as far as the Mideast is concerned.

So, you have that coalition working to find and arrest the militants – under Palestinian guidance. Then you start working Sharon to start scaling back the settlements as a quid pro quo, and perhaps also reducing the Israeli military presence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

That, at least, would be an actual start, and not just a talking start, as we’ve mostly seen so far.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

More Putting the Lie to Republican Claims

Earlier this week, I wrote this post about how Republicans talk a good game when it comes to free market economics, but in the end, they tend to be supply-side interventionists (a term I never managed to put into the earlier post, somehow).

Well, it turns out that they aren't really all that much for supporting our armed forces, either. At least, not if it'll cost people making 7 figures yearly an average of about 7% of their latest tax cut.

See the report here. It's good reading. And one more issue that the DNC and various Democrats should be shouting from the rooftops. I'm gonna have to write a list of "Shout from the Rooftop Issues" soon...first, I'm tackling the Israel/Palestine issue. Expect that post later tonight.

Thanks to Jesse for finding this one.
Middle East happenings, pt 1

Sorry for all the navel gazing...I guess I spent too much time working on getting MT going (and keeping the readers apprized). But, with all that done, I'll get back to the various rants, news updates, and what not.

So I promised this over the weekend, but ended up not getting around to it.


There's three big situations going on in the mideast right now. There's the Israel-Palestine situation, the Iraq reconstruction/occupation/WMD search, and the situation in Iran.

We'll start with Iran, since that's probably the lease complex.

A majority of Iran's youth, who never knew the Shah, are completely fed up with the Islamic Republic concept. They want democracy. And they're starting to stand up and be counted.

This is key. If these protests and other efforts can gain a foot hold (they already have, to a degree, in the elected portion of the government - which answers directly to the clerics). This is an effort that is practically devoid of US support. In fact, there were arguments that the war in Iraq might make life harder for the dissidents in Iran...it would give the clerics an excuse to crack down on the most vocal groups, claiming that they were being controlled or sponsored by the US.

That, so far, has not really come to pass, thankfully. What has happened is not much better...recently, at protests where students were against the privatization of the university, a gang of thugs attacked several of the protestors. This wasn't a random attack, it was a violent take on the counter-protest. According to this report, at least one person has been killed since the protests started a week ago.

Iran is the key. If the main example of an Islamic Republic fails on it's own, and becomes a democracy - Islamic or not - then that would serve as a perfect example for the rest of the region. Countries rebuilt by the US could never serve as well, because of US action.

After Afghanistan, I wanted to see the US really concentrate on making it work. If Afghanistan could become a strong, successful democracy, then that would give the people of Iran far more support in their efforts to bring about true democratic reform. It would, in my opinion, be far better than some form of direct US support. The US is, currently, not seen as particularly trustworthy by the Islamic world. Rebuilding Afghanistan successfully would be an indirect form of support, which would limit the ability of the clerics to crush the opposition for their ties to America. It would also show the Iranians what they had to gain.

Unfortunately, Iran is now surrounded by two struggling US occupations - Afghanistan to the East, and Iraq to the West. And the US Government is making accusations of support for Al Qaeda, Saddam...all sorts of groups with no religious or political ties to Iran's leadership.

US policy is, obviously, quite flawed in most of it's efforts in the mideast of late - Afghanistan is descending into chaos, Iraq is becoming more violent by the day, Iran and Syria have regularly been threatened, and Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, the two nations considered to provide the most support for Al Qaeda, are our allies.

Our policy towards Iraq and Afghanistan need to be changed, obviously. But our policy towards Iran must be tied in to those two. With the proper work on all three, it's quite possible that a democratized, largely pro-US belt of successful nations could be formed right in the center of the Muslim world. Joined with Turkey, and a stable Palestinian state, these could be the basis of a democratic renaissance stretching from North Africa to the islands of Oceania. Is that overly optimistic? Maybe. It's certainly a very long term solution - it could easily take decades for Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan to stabilize into successful democracies.

Tomorrow: Israel/Palestine and Iraq - and maybe Afghanistan. This post is long enough for tonight.

Monday, June 16, 2003

Done and Done

The MT site is working and up. The calendar, sadly, is going to have to go...it only links to the last post of that day, and I usually post more than once per day.

You can find the new site at www.apathyincorporated.com. Who'd have expected me moving to that domain name, huh?

Please update your bookmarks/blogrolls, etc. All of my archives here have been moved over there, and the links will even work now!

Other than this post, which will be different over there, I'll be posting everything for the next few days to both sites, so as to catch any straglers.
Yay!

I think I've got MT figured out. Going to try to do that whole export/import thing now. Hopefully, this won't break anything.
Sigh...

Something isn't right in my MT usage so far.

Nothing I do changes the main index page. Editing the CSS, editing the index.html, nothing. It always ends up looking like the default weblog, minus any posts, with just my title in there. Nothing else I do changes, ever. And I don't know why. I really would like to know, tho. I've rebuilt several times...none of those changes seem to affect the index file, or the css file. Am I missing something?

Update: Indeed, I am missing something. Or, was. I had left two directories named incorrectly in my settings, and all the updated files were getting put into a secondary folder. This problem is now fixed. Time to make it look right...

Sunday, June 15, 2003

Working Under the Hood

Okay, I got MT installed. Fiddling with the templates and what not now. Questions may be coming soon...

Also, I plan on putting together an essay type piece on the Mid-East at some point...but I'm not sure when. Maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow after work. We'll see. It'll probably end up being pretty long...

Update: This MT thing might take a while. I was pretty good with HTML back in 98, but that was 5 years ago. These days, I just know the basics, and CSS, Javascript and the like are all pretty much over my head. I may enlist the help of a much more script-savy friend. I was hoping to find a set of templates that looked okay somewhere on the net that i could use as a base and then modify, but no luck there. And right now, MT isn't posting my first entry..not sure why.

Ah well, back to work...

Update II: Yup, I'm lost. My complete ignorance of css is going to make this hard. Anyway, it's bed time. I'll see what I can do tomorrow, after work.
Have you seen me?

Seen on the side of my milk carton just now:


Have you seen me?
Missing since 6/9/03


We miss you Kevin! Please come home!
Putting the lie to the free market republicans

Free markets suggest that businesses would survive, or fail, on the merit of the business model and the company's procedures.

So if companies are supposed to sink or swim on their own, why is the congress passing massive loan guarantees for nuclear power plants?

The loans are worth 16 billion. If the nuclear plant owners default, we, as taxpayers, are on the hook.

The Congressional Budget Office puts the risk of default at better than 50%. Knight Ridder is reporting that the Standard and Poor's considers it to be a bad risk as well.

It is expected that, at best, the plants will cost 2 to 4 times as much to build as comperable natural gas burning plants. Insurance, regulatory, and other costs are expected to be higher as well.

The market doesn't want to support nuclear power. There isn't a serious lack of providors of coal, natural gas, renewable, and oil burning sources.

So why are we on the hook for loans to businesses with models that the market doesn't want to support, especially if there's no pressing need? How is that a free market policy?

Saturday, June 14, 2003

Descisions, descisions...

So, I was checking out veiled4allah, which is a cool blog (and, apparently, was the first site to give me a permalink, even if it is way down near the end of a miles-long blogroll). Al-Muhajabah, the host of veiled4allah, is also a regular reader of my site (hence the link), as well as a somewhat regular poster. She posted an offer on another blog she reads, where the host would, for free, move me to a Moveable Type blog on Verve Hosting, all I have to do is buy a domain and sign up with Verve, and then contact him.

Here's what I know and don't know about MT: The commenting is built in, which means it can't be down, but I have to worry about bandwith (right now, that's not an issue at all, but...well, a guy can dream, can't he?). There's something called "trackback" which I still don't quite grasp. I have no clue how the backend looks like. I've got no clue how...well, any other part of it works. But I keep hearing good things. And I already have a domain and host for the business I was trying to start last spring (which fell through due to lack of available space in this town, sadly...not sure if I would have gotten the necessary loans...but I digress)...so I'm thinking that I'll install it over there, test it some, see if I can make it work. If I can pull it off, I'll take this guy up on his offer. I'd live my archives to work, I'd like to have more workable comments, and I'd like to figure out how to mess with the look of the site some - I'm not particularly thrilled with this look, but the blogger template isn't the easiest thing to figure out.

So...are any of my readers willing to help me out if I have trouble figuring out MT?

Oh, and speaking of readers, you're definetly sticking around, and I have to say, thank you. You don't have any idea how hard it would be to pound out that big Handicapping post with the knowledge that the odds of anyone seeing it were nil.

Update: Screw it, I'm gonna do it. I'm going to keep this going for now, at least until I get the new site figured out...so I'll keep everyone updated here for now.

Update again: And, of course, commenting died again, just making me feel better about this decision. Let's see how it works.
Handicapping

So, I figured it's about time I spoke about the Democratic primary races.

There's 9 candidates running (as of right now). Alphabetically, with title and links to websites: Governor of Vermont Howard Dean, Senator from North Carolina John Edwards, Representative from Missouri Dick Gephardt, Senator from Florida Bob Graham, Senator from Massachusetts John Kerry, Representative from Ohio Dennis Kucinich, Senator from Connecticut Joseph Lieberman, Former Senator from Illinois Carol Mosley Braun, and Reverend Al Sharpton - he's from New York, in case you're wondering.

Conventional wisdom has it that there's 3 groups of 3 out of these 9. The front runners, the dark horses, and the ones that never had a chance.

Those groups:

Front Runners:
Howard Dean
John Kerry
Dick Gephardt

Dark Horses:
Joe Lieberman
Bob Graham
John Edwards

Never Had a Chance:
Dennis Kucinich
Al Sharpton
Carol Mosley Braun.

I'm not familiar with several of these candidates yet, but I think that actually gives me a better idea of how the national electorate will respond to them. My gut feelings on them, combined with what I've picked up in discussions with my moderate-republican boss who wants to vote against Bush, too.

Howard Dean: He's getting tons of support from people who've never been involved in politics before. I think that points as much to his exceptional use of the web as much as his stance. Heck, I don't like parts of his stance. He's too attack-minded in public...in group appearances by the Dems, he's been fairly combative. I don't see that playing very well. Plus, he comes across to me (when I see him on TV) as really creepy looking. You know that won't work (not that it's a particularly attractive field in the Democratic party). Plus, he's the governor of Vermont. I'm from Massachusetts, and let me tell you - Vermont is a backwater. Sure, Jimmy Carter was from Georgia, and that's pretty back woods in many people's minds, but at least it has Atlanta. And Bush is from Texas, which is a fairly insane place, but it's big, so it seems like he did something important. Maybe if he had more national-level experience, it wouldn't be an issue.

So, to sum it up...I think Dean could do very good things for the party...but I really don't think that he can win a national election. The Dean-ites, who are practically fanatical at this point, will likely skewer me for this one, but I gotta call 'em as I see 'em.

John Kerry: He's got the war record. He's got years of experience in the Senate. He's got connections. He's got all sorts of things. But he's also got a credibility problem. John Kerry is ripe for a Gore-ing. And that means he doesn't stand a chance. Is it deserved? I don't know. He seems to be fluid on a few issues, but I'm not convinced it's because he's wishy-washy...but that's how it will be portrayed in the SCLM (So-Called Liberal Media, if you're wondering). So he can't win. Lots of people don't trust him (or will learn that they shouldn't). This happened in 2000, with Kerry it could happen again in 2004. That would be disastrous, to say the least.

Dick Gephardt: I like Gephardt. The big 3 all have proposals and stated policy views I like, but Gephardt has qualities that rank him over the other frontrunners. For starters, he's not from New England. That matters. There's an image in much of the country of the elitist New England liberal...Kerry is going to catch flak on that, too. Gephardt is from the midwest, which gives him a bonus. He also has tremendous Union support, and while some think unions might be outdated or something, you still need unions to win. His plan for healthcare is brilliant and he's got a solid war chest built up from his congressional runs.

So, let's see. Union support, solid money backing him up, really smart health care plan, no obvious weaknesses. He's the guy with the best chance to win vs Bush, in my mind. And that is the most important thing. On to the dark horses.

Joe Lieberman: The Daily Show sums this one up pretty well: He's the candidate for voters that like Bush, but don't think he's Jewish enough. Lieberman is one of the most consistently republican voters the democratic party has ever seen. The guy is pro-censorship, pro-big business....he's practically a republican. Let's just move on.

John Edwards: He's got the looks....and not much else. He's been very quiet so far, after a fairly hot start. I have yet to hear anything substantial from him. I'm willing to bet that lots of potential voters don't even know who he is. You have to get your name out there if you want to win, and Edwards hasn't figured out how to do that yet.

Bob Graham: He's from Florida. He's got boatloads of money, as I understand it. But he's a first-term senator, and apparently he keeps an utterly meticulous diary/schedule, one that covers literally every single thing he does. There's rumors that this might hurt him, or maybe there's something in there that can hurt him (I have no idea if there are copies in the possession of anyone trying to discredit him). He, too, has been remarkably silent on most of the issues. He might make a decent VP candidate, since he could help gain Floridian voters.

Nothing spectacular in that group. Let's move on to the Never had a Chance crowd:

Carol Mosley Braun. Her website is as spartan as her campaign efforts seem to be. I really know nothing about her, and neither do 90something percent of the people in this country. She's certainly done lots of work in government, but she just isn't making any noise. Plus, the odds of the first female president also being the first black president are so out-there as to be hard to fathom.

Al Sharpton: Well, first off, let me link to this. How did I find that? It's a paid sponsor on www.google.com. They're actually telling Republicans to change parties and vote for Sharpton.

Al Sharpton is a brilliant man, and a great American. But he's also a bit of a laughingstock. He shouldn't be...but he is. Part of it is his perm...part of it is his ties to Jesse Jackson. The man was ordained when he was 9, for crying out loud. Bush was probably still learning to spell George at that point...

Hopefully, Al Sharpton can help shape some of the debate in the Democratic party. The interests of blacks have been absent from the party's platform for some time, and the Dems need black voters to turn out in big numbers if they want to win...and Sharpton is a guy that can re-invigorate the black voters.

Dennis Kucinich: I've left Kucinich until last for a reason. I'm a big supporter. Dean has co-opted Paul Wellstone's line about representing the "Democratic wing of the Democratic party", but Kucinich is the one who really does. He's a real progressive. He's got lots of good ideas that the party as a whole should be considering. But he's getting crushed by a lack of publicity. After Gephardt, he has the strongest union support. He and Sharpton aren't running to win (well, they might say they are...but they have to know that they can't win). They're running to change the Democratic party, make it more like the party of FDR, JFK, and RFK than the party of Al Gore and Joe Lieberman.

Later on, I'll go into some of the reasons Kucinich deserves more support. Not yet, tho.

So, what brings this up? MoveOn.org is having a straw pole to find out where it's membership stands. The winner will get the financial and political backing of MoveOn, which has become a fairly large progressive PAC. If you aren't a member, you should join - and vote.
Stupid Work...

I have a couple fairly big posts I'd like to make today (one on the deteriorating situation in Palestine, another on my thoughts on the Democratic presidential candidates), but unfortunately I have to get ready for work. I'll try to get them written and posted this evening...check back after dinner time, EST, and hopefully I'll have something for ya.
Speaking of Guns...

Over at Unlearned Hand, I sorta jump started a discussion of the ACLU and the 2nd ammendment.

It started in the comments to this post, and ended up getting it's own post here.

It's an interesting debate, but that isn't exactly the point of my post now (altho I might get into it later).

No, the point of my post is this.

Logan Airport, the only airport in my beloved city of Boston (which I don't actually live in, but I live close enough...and with Matt Yglesias graduating and eventually moving to DC to take his new job, I think I'm the blogosphere's resident Bostonian), has become the first airport in the US to see security forces armed with sub machineguns. MP5-SD's, specifically. It's a hell of a weapon, as best I can tell (based mostly on extensive testing in Rainbow 6: Rogue Spear). The accuracy is good, it's quiet as all heck (the SD signifies the variant with the integral silencer. You can find more info here), and it's reportedly quite reliable. They've been equiped with the retractable stock, if you're wondering.

They've purchased 30 for use by a special anti-terror branch of the MA State Police that is charged with maintaining security at Logan. They cost $2500 a piece.

The silencers are to keep the airport from erupting in a panic if shots are, somehow, fired. According to a spokesperson I heard, no firearm has ever been discharged at Logan (I can't verify that, tho). The weapons do not have an option for full auto, which is good...full auto is not a good way to handle fire fights in crowded areas. The paper reports single and 2-round bursts, but that should be 3 round bursts, I think...I've never heard of 2 round bursts.
Big Guns Backing Me Up

Paul Krugman agrees with me on my take of the far right-wing-ification of the Republican party from the other day.

Makes me feel a little smart. And it makes me even more certain that I'm right.

My favorite quote:

There's no point in getting mad at Mr. DeLay and his clique: they are what they are. I do, however, get angry at moderates, liberals and traditional conservatives who avert their eyes, pretending that current disputes are just politics as usual. They aren't — what we're looking at here is a radical power play, which if it succeeds will transform our country. Yet it's considered uncool to point that out.


Read the whole thing, tho.
Narcisim Factor

Earlier, I mistakenly flipped to Fox News, only to catch O'Reilly use his "Talking Points Memo" segment (is he paying royalties to Josh Marshall? Someone should try to make that one happen).

His topic? A rumor based on a false report by a San Fran paper about his radio station, that had spread like wildfire on the net (reportedly...I haven't heard it anywhere). The paper claimed that the Radio Factor had been dropped, whereas O'Reilly says Westwood One had already made plans to move it, and that's why the station it was on had stopped broadcasting it.

I don't know any of the details. In fact, I don't care. But O'Reilly used probably a fifth of his TV show to rant about how his radio show isn't really doing bad (not sure if it is or isn't...and, like I said, I don't care). Then he attacked the people on the Net as being completely untrustworthy.

I haven't seen anyone reporting this, nevermind trumpeting it. Hesiod, Atrios, and Tom Tomorrow have all ignored this story, and they're some of the leftier sites on the blogosphere (Hesiod probably being the leftist of the larger blog sites). As far as correction issues, Andy Sullivan suggested that blogs allowed faster and more specific/pertinent corrections.

Then, as pointed out by Begging to Differ (via Unlearned Hand), Sullivan went and disproved himself by deleting a post he made and replacing it with an apology. It's impossible to find out what he's applogizing for, of course, since the original is somewhere at the bottom of the memory hole.

Calpundit and Atrios both dealt pretty fairly with the issue of the Guardian's misquotation of Deputy SecDef Woflowitz....especially Calpundit, who was perhaps the most reasonable voice on the issue in the blogosphere (at least, that I encountered).

Also, 3 days with 10+ visitors. Compared to weeks with 1 or 2 being good. Very nice. Now I just need to get back to posting...stupid Stargate SG1 premier sucking up my free time this evening....

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Delusions of Grandeur?

Found
this over at Pandagon (freshly added to the blogroll, which I should probably organize soon).

More people think that we're better off now than we were under Clinton?

How freaking crazy can you be?

The books now are subtitled "how to survive a nuclear bomb attack!" and such things. Back then, we had books about the dow hitting 36,000 and the potential that the business cycle had gone by the wayside. Unemployment is the highest it's been since not long after Clinton took office. The World Trade Center Towers in NYC don't fucking exsist anymore. The market is down more than 30% since 99/2000. How are these at all better?

The only improvements are more flags (as Jesse pointed out) and less public debate of blowjobs (as I pointed out in his comments). And less Linda Tripp and Paula Jones, I guess. Which is, all in all, a pretty good thing....but still.
Commenting Down

Enetation's commenting is down, again. I hate when that happens. Not sure when it'll be back up. If I ever start to get some real readership, I'll move to Moveable Type or something, but I'm still a good ways away from that. In the mean time, if anyone has any ideas on a new commenting provider, feel free to email me or, if they're up, leave a comment.

Update: Real readership? Did I just say that? Before a week ago, I hadn't gotten more than 5 hits in a single day after you take away my checking the site. Then I got a link on Calpundit, etc, etc, etc...I've told the story already. I've now gotten double digit hits for 2 straight days, which, even with the Calpundit link, I've never gotten before. So all of you who are reading me regularly, thank you very, very much. It's much easier to post when I know at least someone is reading.

Update, pt2: Commenting is back up, only about a half hour after I posted. So yay, and stuff.
I love the Daily Show

A republican congressman from California is pushing an amendment that would ban flag burning.

He even questioned the patriotism of congresspeople not supporting it with him: "Some people, I feel, are hiding behind the first ammendment."

Jon Stewart's response?

"Perhaps they're getting shot at by people hiding behind the second ammedment."

I've heard that The Daily Show routinely gets twice the ratings that Bill O'Reilly gets. Things like that give me hope for this country.

NB: I'm not against the second ammendment. See my post from a few days ago on Instapundit's gun control/Mugabe argument, and my feelings on how to deal with gun control in the US for a pretty good overview of my feelings on the issue.
The Note speaks

The Note is ABCnews.com's political news blog. It kicks ass, generally, despite it's longish layoff for the War in Iraq.

So, today, it was about journalistic integrity, sort of.

It starts:

With all those reporters covering politics and government in Washington and around the country, you would think that the press would be watching the powerful on behalf of the people pretty persistently.

But you would be wrong.


He goes on to blame a combination of "tight budgets, the evasiveness of those we cover, and the generally (sorry … ) lazy nature of some reporters". Another good quote

For instance, journalists are now routinely relying on the Republican National Committee's missed vote tallies of the Democratic presidential candidates in stories about the subject, as opposed to keeping the records ourselves.


There's more. It's really interesting. Go, read. But be warned, the Note is regularly over 10 thousand words, so make sure you have some free time.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Peace in the Middle East, y'all

So, I promised a complement of Bush. And here it is:

He's doing very good so far in his efforts to really change what's going on in the Palestine/Israel quagmire.

In fact, I haven't felt this good about the situation since Yitzak Rabin was assassinated almost a decade ago. Clinton was doing wonders around the world back then (See also: Northern Ireland), and things looked really good. They haven't quite looked that promising since Rabin was assassinated (by a hard line Israeli, as I recall). The peace process was stalled at that point. But Mahmoud Abbas looks like the best thing to happen to Palestine in 40 years, and Sharon is starting to say the right things.

At first, I was skeptical. Maybe Bush was making promises in back rooms to get Sharon to play along.

Then, there was this.

Bush actually came down against Israel for contributing to the cycle of violence.

Abbas can only do so much to stop Hamas. And it looks like he's really trying. And, on top of that, his message is getting out. Not long ago, Palestinians were protesting Hamas for launching an attack that brought Israeli troops into their town. These things are real progress, and must not be abandoned in the face of greater terror attacks. That is exactly the goal of the attacks.

Israel's government can control the military moves it makes. And they must be less reactionary, especially now. If they are seen as working towards a real peace, even more support for Hamas and similar groups will fall away.

My hope is that Abbas will request help from the Israelis and US in finding the leaders of these groups and apprehending them. Palestine is making efforts, but the infrastructure required to run real anti-terror operations just isn't there. The US and Israel have it. Perhaps Egypt could be involved, too, to make it look more acceptable to the every day Palestinian who still might not trust Israel or the US completely.

The other thing I'd like to see is increased aid to Abbas's efforts. The West Bank and Gaza Strip have been decimated over the years, and they need help. If the US AND Israel work to make things better there, then that would go even farther to help rebuild the trust between the two, and would do more to destroy Hamas's credibility than anything the Israeli military could shoot at them.
Niftyness continues

I checked out my stats on SiteMeter, expecting to have had no more than 1 or 2 hits today, as is usual. Turns out, I had my 2nd most ever.

Turns out, I am no on my first blogroll...on Unlearned Hand. And the story of how I got there seems to be a fairly convoluted tale.

It all started over on Matt Yglesias's site. He posted a link to a Volokh post by Orin Kerr. I read the Volokh post, took issue with it, and wanted to comment...but couldn't. So I went back and posted my frustration on Matt's site. Kevin Drum (aka < a href=http://www.calpundit.com>Calpundit) took up my post as a topic of discussion...do the big conservative blogs allow less commenting than the big liberal ones, or does it just seem that way? After I posted my two cents and a link here in Kevin's comments, he updated his post to give me a link (Thanks again, Kevin!). Then, Stentor Danielson, one of Kevin's readers, decided to use an older post by Kevin, a "map of the blogosphere", to check my hypothosis. Turns out I was wrong, sort of (the big 6 are largely comment free, but the medium-large blogs offer comments more often). But it got me a link on Stentor's site, Debitage - I posted earlier about that. That, apparently, got me into the Technorati database, which I'd never heard of, but seems to be a fairly useful tool for tracking who is linking to your site. Somehow, from my one link, Unlearned Hand found me, and liked what I had to say, so I got a permalink.

I'd heard of Unlearned Hand before, but hadn't checked it out. Now that I've got a fairly compelling reason, I gave it a look. He's pretty interesting. He concentrates mostly on legal issues, as best I can tell (being a law student would give one reason to do that, I imagine). So I'll be adding him to the list of blogs I read, and he'll get a spot on the blogroll (since it's made up entirely of sites I read).

A little bit on the mideast peace process later today. And be prepared: It will contain actual complements for George W. Bush!


Ranting Time

I haven't done this in a while. If anyone has stayed after the Calpundit link (the stats don't look so good), you might want to get used to this, I do it every so often.

So what am I ranting about this time? The right-wing-ification of the republican party. And also some of the hypocrisy of that right wing.

Let me state this first: I like republicans...real republicans, who have an ideology, but are also pragmatic politicians who do what's best for the country and try to work their ideology in, and not the other way around. Bush Sr and Clinton (not that he was a republican, obviously) were both pretty good on these accounts. Hell, Bush saw the budget problems he was facing, and passed a tax increase (heavier on the top bracket, but still not pushing it above the 2nd highest bracket’s rate...Clinton's tax hike put the top bracket’s rate back as the highest rate), because it was the right thing to do, economically.

My boss is another good example. We disagree on some policy decisions, but we debate them and try to compromise. He's a conservative, I'm a progressive...we don't treat one another like enemies...we debate rationally.

But, over the last decade, the Republican party has turned into a party run by people who see politics as a competition, and not a way to make things better for everyone. They have an ideology that they're going to fit the facts to, and not the other way around. And if you break lockstep, they'll come after you with someone who won't.

The best examples of this are Bush, Rove, DeLay, and Grover Norquist, who recently opined that "bipartisanship is daterape."

These guys aren't politicians. They're hacks. They believe that they have The Truth handed down to them from on high, and if they can't get what they want, they have to fight for it tooth and nail. To get it they'll spin the facts any way they have to (for example, tax cuts have become the answer to everything...which is insane).

When Bush calls for bipartisanship, he's really calling for everyone to support him. When his father did it, he wanted Congress to work together to get compromises on things, so they could get done.

As for the spin Bush puts to things...let's start with free trade. Bush is a huge backer of free trade, to hear him say it. Of course, he's passed massive subsidies for farms ($160k per cotton farm per year, for example), tariffs on steel....and that's not even getting into the corporate welfare for failing airlines, and all sorts of other smaller things.

That's not a free market. If our farms need help competing with the world, and we help them, we're tilting the market's playing field. It's no longer free. If an airline can't keep itself running, and we give them billions of dollars, that's not a free market weeding out the weaker companies. Bush supported all these things. Again, winning gets in place of rhetorical statements. But most republicans fall for it, and act like he really does want free markets. What he wants is free access for us to foreign markets, with little in return for those markets. That's a protectionary tactic used generally by poorer, underdeveloped countries that can't compete with the big industrialized economies. It works great for them. It's just insane for us.

And what about those farm tariffs? Aren't the republican people of the heartland supposed to be self sufficient? Isn't smaller government supposed to be their goal? Smaller states, especially agricultural ones, get more federal money from densely populated democratic states do. In fact, most republican states get more money from the federal government then they pay, while democratic states lose money. So while those farms get massive subsidies, (and most of them are big agro-business owned, not smaller family farms), and the FCC is taxing cable modem and DSL customers (most of whom live in democratic, densely populated areas) to pay for high speed access and other telecom infrastructure in sparsely populated states, etc, etc...those same people are arguing that government needs to be smaller. And, of course, at the same time, you see places like NYC that can't afford to keep all their fire houses open. You remember the FDNY, the heroes of 9/11? Bush sure as hell doesn't, since he isn't helping bail out any of the major budget crises in the states...he's just cutting taxes again. And again. And again.

Oh, and that war on terror? Well, we can't spend money to adequately protect the nation's harbors, etc...at least, not anything over 20 billion. The war on Iraq got almost 4 times that for 3 months..that's supposed to cover the costs of protecting the whole country?

What about gun rights? Bush is a big protector of that. Except in Iraq, where we plan to disarm the populace. Or socialized medicine, he's against that, right? Again, except for Iraq, where we plan on installing a nationalized health care system.

Security, war, the economy, everything...it's all tools in playing the game. That's the republican party's leadership right now. They play to win, and then they push their ideology, with heavy doses of spin to make things look better. The compliant (and some times cheer-leading) media help make it easy for them. And if you stand up to them, they'll come after you as hard as they can.

For example: Max Cleland. Cleland was a senator from Georgia, up until the 2002 election. He was attacked by republicans for not going along with Bush's position on Iraq. He was shown in adds as being a supporter of Bin Laden and Hussein. His patriotism was questioned openly.

Max Cleland fought in Vietnam (something that you can't say about many of the people currently leading the Republican party). Not only that, he lost three limbs there. Then he came home and became a senator.

There are few things that show your love of America more than losing 3 limbs (both legs and an arm) in an unpopular, poorly fought war, and then coming home and dedicating yourself to making things better. In fact, I'd be hard pressed to think of anything that any of the current republican leadership has done that's on that level (Colin Powell not included, since he isn't really part of the republican party's leadership).

And for the whole morality debate, keep in mind that the Clintons are both on their first marriage. Of the prominent republicans that ran against him or attacked him in Congress and the media, almost all of them were on their 2nd or 3rd marriage. Gingrich served his first wife divorce papers while she was recovering from surgery in the hospital, then left his second wife to marry a staffer he'd been having an affair with, Limbaugh had 3 wives, the 3rd he met on the internet, Bob Dole was on his second wife, and Reagan is, so far, the only President to have been divorced. This is the party of family values? Is it a family value to use violent rhetoric on your radio show or news column (and yes, I'm looking at you, Liddy, Limbaugh, and Coulter)?

Hypocrisy runs deep in the leadership of the Republican party. And the rank and fold republicans are the ones falling for the crap the leadership is saying, while they abandon most of those concepts in reality.

Real republicans, the ones I like to debate with, the ones who see politics as a way to make good government work through compromises, need to take the power back in the republican party. And soon.

And for those who think I'm seeing my side as good and the other as bad, I'm not going to argue that the DNC is perfect. Heck, I don't like it very much. But it's problems are doing more to keep it out of power than to get them in power. So that isn't a big problem. It's the opposite with the current republicans.

Sunday, June 08, 2003

Trying Again

This is a 2nd attempt at this post, which Blogger ate this morning.

Instapundit, arguing his disbelief in the whole "Bush lied" theory, stated the following about liberals reasonings about the war:

Well, it's better than admitting that if you'd had your way, Saddam Hussein would still be shoveling children into mass graves, I suppose. And that's what this is really all about. Having lost the argument about the war, and having had Saddam's brutality proven beyond any reasonable doubt, the anti-war folks have to do something to regain the moral high ground -- because, to them, the moral high ground is theirs by right, regardless of the nature or consequences of their actions.


So, first, find me anyone who thought Saddam was a good guy. Find me one.

Second, if we were really all about bringing freedom and democracy to terrorized people, wouldn't we be going into (or at least talking about) Zimbabwe or the Congo? Or Liberia? Or Burma (to be fair, this one got talked about by Powell).

The majority of the anti-war crowd were against the war because the reasoning for going in was bad...and Bush didn't talk about mass graves or Saddam's brutality until just before the war was launched. His pirmary reasoning was tied to Weapons of Mass Destruction.

And, as far as the Bush lied theory, here are the optoins I see:

1) An incredible failure of intelligence. This is possible, but if it were true, wouldn't Bush be doing something about it? Wouldn't he be demanding answers, and showing that he had what he took on good faith to be real proof, but turned out to be bad intel? Wouldn't George Tenet be fired? And the news stories like the ones I posted yesterday that keep popping up are turning out to put quite a crimp in this argument (altho, they could just be the intel community covering it's own asses..but that doesn't answer the question about Bush's inaction)

2) The WMDs were there, and are now gone, dispersed to super-secret bunkers, Syria, Palestine, al Qaida, whatever. If this is what happened, and Bush isn't doing something serious about it, then that's far worse than Bush lying. We fought this war to get those weapons out of dangerous hands. If they've moved to more dangerous hands, that's a failing of the highest order.

3) Bush lied about his case to justify a war that most of his advisors wanted anyway. If this were the case, there'd be a pretty solid attempt to sell WMD's to the people of America after the fact, and also to shift the justification....both of which have happened. Bush called 2 trucks (which the British press now reports were sold to Iraq by Britain (in 87) to produce hydrogen for filling artillery balloons) proof that Saddam had WMD. He's worked very hard to push how brutal Hussein was (which is true, but as I said, he's far from the only one, or the worst one).

4) Bush was lied to by the hawks surrounding him. Wolfowitz, Pearle, Rumsfeld, etc...The following Pearle quote was in the recent Vanity Fair article that caused such an uproar over some of Wolfowitz's quotes:

"Two things became clear. One, he didn't know very much. The other was he had the confidence to ask questions that revealed he didn't know very much... you got the sense that if he believed something he'd pursue it tenaciously."


This one doesn't sit well, does it? It's certainly in the realm of plausability...but nothing good can come of this option.

So those are the options as I see them. Someone should be investigating this (If Ken Star gets over $50 million to investigate White Water, Travelgate, etc, etc...then this is worth at least some investigation). Not that that will happen, tho...

stupid blogger...

Blogger just ate a fairly long post. I'll rewrite it later, I don't feel like it right now.

Saturday, June 07, 2003

Investigation Breakdown

It's easier to come up with blog post titles when you're only posting a few times a week...

Anyway, there's this story in the Boston Globe today, which states that DIA intelligence last fall stated that there was ''no definitive, reliable information'' that Iraq possessed NBC weapons (Nuclear, Biological, or Chemical - a much more precise name than WMD). And, via Atrios's guest poster Leah, I found Body and Soul, which seems like a pretty cool blog...and Jeanne, the blogger, has a list of news stories chronicling the disconnect between the inteligence and the administration, and also hints that the administration pressured the intel community to get the story they needed to justify the war:

Ex-Official: Evidence Distorted for War
Intelligence Historian Says CIA 'Buckled' on Iraq
Bush Certainty On Iraq Arms Went Beyond Analysts' Views
Some Iraq Analysts Felt Pressure From Cheney Visits

There's two possibilities here. The intel community is trying to cover it's own ass, and take down the president a notch instead. Or the intel community was pressured into playing along with the administration's war, and are fighting back now, with the evidence being in their favor. Someone in the Senate should start an investigation right now, but I doubt it'll happen. At the very least, Dems should be shouting from the rooftops over these things...
Mudders

That's what they call horses who are good at running in muddy conditions. Today's Belmont certainly over-qualified. Funny Cide, the horse with the amazing story, running for the Triple Crown on his home track, was unfortunately unable to win the coveted title. He finished 3rd, with Empire Maker getting the win.

In other sports news, Roger Clemens is still working towards win #300. With the Yankees in Chicago for a matchup with the Cubs (their first in 65 years). Clemens came out after getting one out and putting 2 on in the 7th, with the Yanks up 1-0. It took one pitch for the Cubs to go up 3-1 on a Karros homer - which had to be even sweeter for the Cubs, since Karros had to come in early in the game after the starting first baseman, Hee Seop Choi got knocked unconcious durring a hard fall to the ground caused by a collision between Choi and pitcher Wood while trying to track down an infield fly. Choi is in fair condition, but suffered a concussion, according to ESPN.

As an avid Red Sox fan, and an equally avid Yankees hater, I have to enjoy this. Clemens mailed in his last 4 seasons in Boston (he was 1 win over 500, and at least 40 pounds overweight), then demanded superstar money. When the Sox wouldn't give in, he got himself back in shape and tried to make the Sox look bad (and broke his word twice...he stated that the only other place he'd want to play is Houston or Texas, which would be close to home for him...then he went to Toronto and New York, both AL East teams). His troubles getting win 300 can be traced to his wearing a glove that proclaimed "300 wins" on it as he took the mound to face the Sox in his first bid for 300. I hope he never gets it. (4,000 strikeouts, however, is more or less assured..he's 4 shy).
WMD Hunting

Over at The Nation, there's a column up entitled How Their Big Lie Came to Be. In it is the following excerpt:

[L]eave it to a Marine to be blunt. When Lieut. Gen. James Conway, commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, was asked Friday why his Marines failed to encounter or uncover any of the weapons of mass destruction that US intelligence had warned them about, his honesty put the White House to shame.

"We were simply wrong," Conway said. "It was a surprise to me then, it remains a surprise to me now, that we have not uncovered [nuclear, chemical or biological] weapons" in Iraq. And, he added, "Believe me, it's not for lack of trying. We've been to virtually every ammunition supply point between the Kuwait border and Baghdad, but they're simply not there."


That's pretty simple, isn't it? And today there's more news that refutes Bush's argument that the two trucks were mobile bio-weapons labs.

One thing has become staggeringly clear out of all this. If Hussein had bio or chem weapons, they were not anywhere that frontline troops could have used them, and now they could be in anyone's hands. Odds are that, if they've been dispersed (to Syria, or Palestine, or whatnot...maybe al Qaida, but I doubt it). If that's the case, Bush should be clamoring to get every investigator he can in to Iraq to try and find the trail. The other option is that they weren't really there.

What's this all add up to?

There are two possibilities. Bad intel, or leadership that lies to the American public. If it's the former, you'd expect Bush to be demanding an investigation. If it's the latter, you'd expect a coverup. So far, we're seeing more coverup than investigation. Makes one wonder, doesn't it?
Site News

So, I tried (and succeeded, for a few weeks, at least) to post once a day. And that sorta worked. Then I stopped - partly because I started working again, and needed some time to get back into a work schedule while still fitting my normal news-hounding into the day, partly because I didn't think anyone was reading.

I spend hours a day reading blogs, news sites, etc. And I get multiple urges a day to post. So I'm gonna try something new, now that I've got my work schedule figured out, and can manage to post around it. I'm going to post here every time I feel I have something to add to a debate, and I'm going to post here anytime I catch a story that the blogs I follow are ignoring (the blogs I follow are all on the blogroll to the left). That's the explanation for the multiple posts the past few days. With luck, I can keep it up. I'll certainly try.

If you're reading this, that means that you've A) Found me via either Blogger, the comments fiasco thing that happened on Kevin Drum's site, or one of my comments on the handful of blogs I post comments on and B) hopefully decided to stick around. Here's what I ask (it ain't much). I'm going to try to post multiple times a day. I was inspired by seeing a link to me on calpundit, and the knowledge that I actually had readers, and I was hoping to keep a few. So, if I know I have readers, I'll post more. Of course, if I don't have readers, than there's not as much point to post. So here's what I ask. If you like what I've done the last few days, plus some of the stuff in the archives (sooner or later, I'm gonna pull out the good posts from the archives and put a list of them after the blogroll), then just come back regularly. I don't need direct feedback (but it's apprecaited greatly). If you want to comment on something I post, please do...I want, more than anything, a chance to debate these things. Basically, I just want to know someone is paying some attention, so I'm not just writing for my self (which I'd still do anyway, just not as much). I'll check my hit counts regularly (I check it regulalry anyway...if you're wondering, the number of hits I got the day Kevin gave me a link - Thursday - was about 11 times the number of hits I got Friday...and neither number is very big).

Also, this site is still very much in it's infancy, as far as layout, color schemes, etc go. If you'd like to suggest a change, please offer it in the comments. I'm not sure I'm happy with it, but I can't think of anything better...site layouts aren't my strong point. The only thing I'm really attached to is the name. I like the ring of it.

Friday, June 06, 2003

Bush cutting what now?

There was a story in the Boston Globe today. Hurry up and check it out before it gets locked in the pay-to-read vault.

In it, Bush is criticised by both Republicans and Democrats for supplying a budget of $0 to the HOPE VI program (which had a previous budget of $600 million). HOPE IV is considered to be quite the success by liberals and conservatives alike. Why? Because it does two things, and it does them pretty well.

It gives money to local public housing authorities to rebuild dilapidated housing complexes.

It requires those authorities to use said money as a seed to bring in private investment and create private sector jobs.

So basically, it's intelligently privitizing a socially beneficial goal. In other words, it's a very intelligent compromise between liberals and conservatives. For the record, this was passed by George H. W. Bush. Some of the better quotes:

'We've got a huge disconnect with the administration here,'' said Christopher Shays, a Connecticut Republican who is a member of the committee. ''It's a program they say works and works well, but they don't want to fund it?''

...

Some Republican staff members, speaking on condition they not be identified, said that the White House knew well that Congress would not back its push to eliminate HOPE VI and simply wants to have a scapegoat to blame if the president's budget increases the deficit.

...

Housing advocates have praised the goals of the program, but complain that it leads to a net loss of public housing because smaller, mixed-income housing is built where large complexes once stood. And the Bush administration pointed to delays in spending the grants housing authorities receive.
''That's the criticism?'' Shays said. ''They're not spending it fast enough? So kill the program?''

...

Public housing in Shays's district was rebuilt with a $26 million HOPE VI grant. ''It basically turned what was one of the most challenged communities in the district into an enormous success,'' said Shays's spokeswoman, Betsy Hawkins. ''[HOPE VI] is a program that works from our point of view.''

...

Republicans have embraced the program because it requires housing authorities to use the grants as a way to get additional private money, effectively turning the federal funds into seed money for large, job-creating redevelopment projects. Democrats like it because it rebuilds dilapidated public housing complexes where many of the nation's poorest residents live.

...

''It's very telling,'' Frank said. ''It shows the gap. It's easy to get people to denounce the government, but almost everything the government does is popular.''


Just to clarify, Shays isn't the only republican speaking out. Representative Jim Leach of Iowa and Senator Christopher S. Bond of Missouri are also against this. And the Frank listed above is Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass. I'm not in his district, but I must say, nearly every time he's in the news, I like what he's doing. Too bad he's from Newton...not my favorite town in the state...

This is just one more example of Bush's completely unsupportable economic policies. My boss, who I mentioned in the previous post, voted for him, and even he agrees with me that Gore would have managed the economy better, if not much better.
Packing heat

I don't read Instapundit as much as I think I should. Mainly because it seems like his morning rituals involve a frenchman pissing in his cereal. One really must wonder what he has against the french (granted, I'm not a big fan...but he's practically obsessed).

Anyway, one of the things I've seen on Instapundit lately was about Zimbabwe, and the fact that Mugabe (a true bastard of a man, just in case anyone starts to think I'm weak on these guys) disarmed the people of Zimbabwe. So that, in his mind, proves the NRA's case.

He's completely ignoring two problems with his argument: First, Iraq was heavily armed durring Saddam's reign of terror. That didn't do much to help those people. Second, we currently plan on taking as many weapons as we can away from the Iraqi people as we build up their democratic institutions.

So if Zimbabwe wouldn't be quite as bad if the people were armed (which is impossible to prove), why wasn't Iraq? And why would we (especially considering our supposedly pro-gun-rights leadership) want to disarm the Iraqi people? Wouldn't those weapons prevent a tyrant from corrupting the Iraqi democarcy, or even worse, using force to overthrow it?

Of course, I've seen Glenn argue for efforts to presure/force Zimbabwe and Burma to reform (which is a good thing, don't get me wrong). But I haven't seen any comments on the situation in the Congo (which, granted, I might have missed...I've only gone over the last few days, and I missed a couple weeks before that, so maybe I'm being unfair here). The civil war going on in the Congo (formerly Zaire) is the bloodiest conflict in the world since WWII ended (speaking of, today is the 59th aniversary of D-Day. If you know a WWII vet, take a minute and thank him...that was, as was pointed out on another blog, the most important day in the history of the 20th century). France is leading a UN effort to send peace keepers into the region, but they are incredibly undermanned (estimates of the force required are roughly 100 times the amount of troops being deployed). With these three problems, the Bush Administration has proven that nasty, tyranical dictators aren't really the ones we're going after, post-mortem justifications aside.

And, to clear up my view on gun policy (in case anyone read the above and just assumed I was a left-wing anti-gun type). I have three basic thougths with gun ownership: First, you should be required to learn enough to safely own a gun. You have to prove you can drive to get a car (legally), you should have to prove you can keep a gun safely to own a gun (legally). In Massachusetts, my home state, the rules require you to take 2 classes in safety, upkeep, and the like. That's it. My boss, who's an NRA member and owns 4 pistols, thinks it's a very sound setup. Second, if you're a known felon, you lose your right to own a gun. If you get caught abusing your right to drive, you lose that right. If you get caught breaking the law, you shouldn't be able to own a weapon. Sounds simple enough to me. And third, reasonable weapons limitations. I'm flexible on this one, but I can't believe that someone needs to own an assault rifle. I guess I can see collectors wanting them, and I'm sure there's a thrill to firing an AK 47 full auto...but they aren't hunting weapons, and they aren't particularly good at the personal defense thing, either. But, you give me the first two, and I'll let you own anything under 20 mm. Sound fair?
Oh, a quick update

The Nation has a great Robert Byrd speech. Somehow, he seems to be the only decent orator left in the Senate. But he's in his 90s and the right always attacks him for being in the KKK back in the 50s (were there any white guys not in the KKK in South Carolina in the 50s?). Of course, they also dismiss Bush's record from 30 years ago as "a long time ago" and "unimportant" and stuff like that.

Byrd makes a great point. Why isn't Bush upset about the WMD issue? He's the one that's going to look bad (and, by association, the rest of us). He's the one that used the argument the most. If they were there, where are they now? And if they weren't there, why was he told they were there?

There aren't many plausible answers, and none of them look good.
Lewis Black rocks

Lewis Black just gave his vision of how trickle down economics work (on The Daily Show, which should be required viewing.). It was pretty damn funny, which isn't shocking if you've seen him before. His explanation?

Rich people will have lots of money to spend. Talking about spending all that money will make you thirsty. You'll buy a soda, drink it, and throw out the can. Homeless or poor person picks up can, cashes it in, and bingo, a nickle has trickled down the economic waterfall.

Sounds about right.

Moving on...I mentioned in an earlier post, an exerpt from Savage's show that's pretty out there. I mentioned this post to a group of net-friends, and the one who's pretty conservative just floored me. He actually stated that he'd prefer Savage in the White House over Bill or Hillary Clinton. Because they're immoral.

Now, he's never struck me as a total idealogue before. Our debates are pretty level, altho he's always seemed a tad unwilling to accept anything that disputed his point of view, but I figured that was just scepticism in regards to news from the net. But this just was too much.

I was almost ready to ask if he though Bill had shot Vince Foster, or if Hillary had done it, but decided not to go that far (as it was going to really upset a friend who'd agree with me (being as he's a liberal from canada), but would rather prevent any debate, since it isn't really the place.

Seriously. I don't even think Clinton was all that great. But immoral? He lied about an affair. He also helped bring peace to Northern Ireland, presided over the biggest economic boom in decades, and if it weren't for the assassination of Rabin, he might have helpd bring peace to the Israel/Palestine. (I fault him for the DOMA, his fairly weak environmental record, and his complete abandonment of his national health care pledge). He was also the first president in like 25 years to have a balanced budget.

Of course, the same guy (who is ROTC) said that the military loved Bush because, and I quote, "he gave us all a pay raise"...or something very similar. Of course, he bailed on the conversation when I suggested that he had been bought off. So maybe I shouldn't have been so shocked...

Nevermind Bush's lies...I'd rather a president lie about sex than a Pres that lies about the reasons for a war, or his economic policies, for example...

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Four posts, one day, new record

I have no idea how Matt Yglasias does it. Maybe it helps to be in college. Gotta keep this one kinda short, leaving for work in 10 minutes (did I mention I hate night shifts?).

Apparently, my post on Matt's site about which blogs have comments and which don't, which got picked up by Kevin Drum, has now been debunked. Stentor Danielson, using the network map of left-right blogs, checked all the ones on the left and right for comments, and found that the left had 8 more blogs, but only 1 more that offered comments (22/42 for leftists, 21/34 for rightists). It's an interesting bit of research, and I guess it blows my point out of the water. I'd just like to point out a few responses, tho.

First, I only mentioned big blogs. Kevin Drum's original point, that the top 6 rightward blogs have far less commenting than the top 6 leftward blogs, is still true, and goes to my complaint (note that I originally said that it seems like no big conservative/libertarian blogs have comments).

Second, I knew I had far too small a sample from personal experience, and I mentioned that...Stentor's post suggests I was making it as a fact, when I was making it as something of a suggestion.

And third, I'm still frustrated by the lack of comments at the Volokh's place.

Anyway, more after work, probably. Oh, and a question for my readers (assuming anyone who checked me out thanks to Kevin's link - or now, Stenton's - is sticking around)...I found this think tank thanks to some comments on Atrios's site. They have an offer to volunteer for various positions, but there doesn't seem to be any info on how to actually volunteer. This is something I'd be interested in doing. If anyone with some free time wants to look around and see if they can find anything, I'd love to know. Post in comments, or email me. Thanks in advance.
Shielded?

So, in 2000, Bush promised a Balistic Missile Defense System. Everyone agreed that the technology was going to be wildly expensive, and many people were unsure who we needed to be defended from. Of course, these days there's North Korea, and the CIA reports that suggest that Kim Jong Il could launch a missile that can reach California, and also suggests he has the nukes to put on it.

In today's Washington Post, we have an article highlighting a GAO report that says, essentially, the system is being pushed too fast, without enough testing. And if it keeps up, and ends up getting deployed, it will be at great risk if it ever becomes needed, because it might not work as advertized.

Let's get metaphorical here. This is regularly referred to as a shield, so let's go with that. Let's say you're in a sword fight. You have a big, sharp, well balanced sword (the US military) and now you've added a special, very expensive shield, to help you defeat your opponent, who has a sword, but no shield. Now, this shield you have hasn't been tested much, and there's some holes in it, but you've been told that it's state of the art and you have to have it to prevent your opponent's sword from making contact with you. So you give that shield a try.

So, you're walking through the vilage with your great sword, and your fancy new shield. And one of the local bad guys, a fairly small time player with delusions of granduer, pulls a surprise attack. You've got your shield equipped, always ready for attack, but the villain still manages to get his rapier through the holes in your shield, and gives you a nasty stab. Can you still defeat the creep? Sure, you've got a great sword, and you know how to use it. But that shield cost a lot, and it was pretty useless. And that stab wound hurts, and it's going to leave a nasty scar.

This seems like it's a project that, if we're going to do it, we might as well get it right (I'm not even getting into the issues surrounding it, like pulling out of the ABM treaty, international destabilization, etc). This is another example of Bush answering the "Done right, done quickly, done cheap, pick 2." argument with B and C. One has to wonder how often he can do it before things start going wrong.
Rudolph, the clean shaven terrorist

Over at Orcinus (who's really the blogosphere's expert on the hard-core right, especially the militia movements and the hard line christian movements), there's a long post about Eric Rudolph and the way home grown terror is being dealt with, both by law enforcement, and the general public in the areas it sprouts up.

Orcinus (also known as David Neiwert, author of In God's Country: The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest) knows this stuff..he grew up around it, from the sounds of his posts. And his points are really, really good. My favorite quote is this one:

Another expert on such groups, Idaho State University sociology professor James A. Aho, said he is reluctant to use the phrase "Christian terrorist," because it is "sort of an oxymoron."

"I would prefer to say that Rudolph is a religiously inspired terrorist, because most mainstream Christians consider Christian Identity to be a heresy," Aho said. If Christians take umbrage at the juxtaposition of the words "Christian" and "terrorist," he added, "that may give them some idea of how Muslims feel" when they constantly hear the term "Islamic terrorism," especially since the Sept. 11 attacks.


This is a brillaint point.

Another great point he makes is comparing the way fundamentalist Islamic groups have moved into the mainstream of the Islamic world, and comparing that to fundamentalist Christian efforts to do the same. As he says, the Christian groups haven't made it quite as far...but they're making inroads, especially when the NY Times quotes one of Rudolph's neighbors as saying that they have similar agendas, and so she doesn't think he's a terrorist. What Rudolph did was scary. What that woman thinks is scarier. That's the stuff we need to worry about. Extremism seeping into more mainstream views is never, ever, a good thing.
Nifty

So, update on the last post, Kevin went in and gave me a link. Now I guess I have to post (btw - you rule, Mr. Drum).

So, to start, let's get this out of the way.

Chrstian, AKA The Mighty Reason Man had an interesting post today about Mikey Savage. Go read it, it's short.

Done? Good.

Keep in mind now, that that man has a book deal, a nationally syndicated radio show, and a national TV show (I think...is he still on MSNBC?). Freud would have a field day with that boy, I think....
Look Ma, I'm Famous

A comment I made on Matt Yglasias's blog was noticed by Kevin Drum and turned into a topic of discussion.

I might even get some traffic out of my response in Kevin's comments (Kevin left out a link in the main post, sadly). It'd be pretty cool to have readers.

Anyway, moving on. I'm watching CSpan 2 right now (roughly 1 AM EST) and they're showing the Senate hearing on the FCC rule changes. It's very interesting. Powell has come across as fairly earnest in his efforts (he's either a hell of a lawyer, or he really believes he's doing good for the people with this), altho a whole lot naive (e.g.: when asked by one of the committe members "who is celebrating your decision now, the people, or the giant media companies?" he responded with, essentially, "I don't know who's celebrating it"). He also seems to think the Net is a far bigger force than it really is. The net is becoming important...Howard Dean's campaign momentum is proof of that. But it's not available to everyone, and it can't be compared to TV, radio, or newspapers, yet. A PC costs far more than a TV or radio, and you don't have to pay a monthly fee to get ABC or NBC like you do for Net access.

Barbara Boxer, of California, put the wood to the majority of the committee on this issue, which was fun to watch. She had letters from all sorts of Americans on this issue, and she used their words to cut the legs out from underneath several of the assenting side's arguments.

A clarification I've heard tonight: Most reports say that one company can own 1 cable company, 3 tv stations, 8 radio stations, and 1 major daily newspaper in the same market. The rules on the TV stations are a bit more complex than that...it turns out that you can own 3, but you can only own one of the top 4. So you get one of the big 4, plus you can sweep up the independents. Or maybe Viacom (which owns CBS and UPN) can pick up some of UPN's stations. But it'd be impossible (under these rules) to pick up ABC, NBC, and CBS all in the same market.

Peter Fitzgerald, R-Illinois, has suggested that anyone could start a news website and compete with their local daily papers. I don't see that as being realistic. And the "with very little capital" part was really silly. In most PC owning households, the PC is the most expensive item in the house (it ranks 3rd on most people's list, after their house and their car, assuming they own their house).

An interesting point from Powell. The middle band of TV markets have 4-9 networks (the lower band has less than 4...that leaves the upper band with over 9, I guess). I live not far outside of Boston, which is, I believe, in the top 6 or so market wise (from a population standpoint)...and we have 8 stations, counting 2 PBS stations. Is there a large number of markets with over 10 stations? Or is there some sort of overlap in markets that I'm not aware of? There's a Rhode Island station I can sorta get in, which would make it 9, I guess. But that's still only 9.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Winnable Candidates

Most of the leftist type blogs I read have, at one point or another, touched on the fact that Dennis Kucinich is the Democratic candidate that offers the best plans on various aspects of domestic policy...especially his health plan (which would bring us in line with most of the industrialized democracies in the world, providing health care to every citizen). But all those opinions come with the conciet that he can't really win. So I ask this:

Why not?

The media has long held the power to declare who can and can't win (or at least seems to hold that power). But if most leftists agree that Kucinich is the best candidate, why not push harder for him? At the very least, if he got an unexpectedly large turnout, it could only serve to push the Democratic agenda towards his policies, and that, I think we can agree, would be a good thing.

A lot of people support Dean, and the ideas he's been pushing lately are making him appear far more interesting than the anti-war guy with no ideas that he was coming And it seems like the amount of interest he's getting is starting to affect the party in general. Support for Kucinich could do very much the same.

Update: One more reason to like Kucinich. Who else has the balls to even ask these questions?