Musings of a Philosophical Scrivener...
Idle ramblings of an intermittently philosophical nature... Apologies to Martin Gardner, whose The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener is one of the best books you've (probably) never read.

An Idle Thought...
What a misfortune, and injustice, for the University of Tennessee College of Law that [Glenn "InstaPundit"] Reynolds should now be their best-known faculty member.
--Brian Leiter, Professor of Law and Philosophy, University of Texas, Austin

About Me (the condensed version)
A member of the tail end of the boomers; a middle aged recovering lawyer turned professional computer geek. Native of St. Louis, Missouri, transplanted to Memphis, Tennessee. Avid reader, amateur philosopher, St. Louis Cardinals fan, one of the last Renaissance men.

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A bit about me (The uncondensed version) Memorial to a dear friend
Frederick W. Benteen
The Web of Leonards
The St. Louis Cardinals
The Memphis Redbirds
BlogMemphis (The Commercial Appeal's listing of Memphis blogs)
The Guide to Life, the Universe, and Everything
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Listed on Blogwise

And in case you're interested, here's how many other 'net denizens need a life, or at least more compelling reading:

A blog worth reading:

Bloggus Caesari (Julius Caesar's Warblog)

Two blogs worth reading that I'll plug because the blogger is another Linux geek and a fellow Cardinals fan besides:

Frankly, I'd Rather Not

Other links of interest (to me, at least), in no particular order:

The Daily Howler
Bill Maher Blog
The Progressive
The O'Franken Factor
Majority Report Radio
The Gadflyer
Daily Kos
Steve Gilliard's Blog
Whiskey Bar
Just a Bump in the Beltway
The Village Gate (formerly The Right Christians)
Juan Cole *Informed Comment*
Christopher Orlet
The Online Gadfly
The Crisis Papers
Ted Rall Online
The Smirking Chimp
Talking Points Memo
Molly Ivins
This Modern World, By Tom Tomorrow
Tom the Dancing Bug, by Reuben Bolling
Bob the Angry Flower
Conservatively Incorrect, by Rack Jite
Media Whores Online
Butterflies and Wheels
The Leiter Reports
Nathan Newman
Brief Intelligence
Half the Sins of Mankind
The Swing State Project
Glorfindel of Gondolin
Turquoise Waffle Irons in the Back Yard
Missouri Liberal
different strings
Shock and Awe
Gotham City 13
Pen-Elayne on the Web
Empty Days
Censored Story of the Day
Roger's Profanisaurus
Rhonda & Jane present: 525 Reasons to Dump Bush
The Bush Scorecard of Evil
Sherman P. Wright's Moderate Weblog
Quaker in a Basement
World Phamous
NLSO Subic Bay (Navy unit alumni blog.)
Iraq Coalition Casualty Count
Bracing against the wind
Rants Vitriol and Spleen – JRI
Apostate's Weekly
Redbird Nation
Go Cardinals
The Cardinals' Birdhouse
The Birdhouse Minor League Report
The Cardinals Fan Site
St. Louis Cardinals Ultimate Fan Site
RedBird Central
Get Up, Baby!
Royalties and Cardinalate (an all-MO baseball blog)
Pro Sports Daily: St. Louis Cardinals St. Louis Cardinals news
Rob Neyer's column
The Hardball Times
The Baseball Widow
Management by Baseball
The Nashville Files (RTB member in waiting?)
Madeleine Begun Kane's Notables Weblog
The Select Group of Toys
Pesky the Rat
I, Cringely
The Gripe Line Weblog, by Ed Foster
The Register
Evil Empire
Watching Microsoft Like a Hawk
Three Years of Hell to Become the Devil
Public Defender Dude
Punishment Theory
Savage Cruel Bigots
Treason Online
Hell for Halliburton
Hollywood Lost and Found
Popdex Citations

Rocky Top Brigade:

RTB Lounge
NationStates Region

A Little More to the Right
A Moveable Beast
A Smoky Mountain Journal
Beyond the Whispers
Big Stupid Tommy
Bjorn, Again
Bully Pulpit
Busy Mom
Celtic Grove
Classless Warfare Jane
Conservative Zone
Dagley Dagley Daily
Damn Art Diary
Damn Foreigner
Democratic Veteran
Doc B
Doug McDaniel
Drawing Dead
Elephant Rants
Filthy Hippy Speak
Frank Cagle
Free Speech News
Granny Rant
Growth Spurt
Guy Montag
Hypotheses Non Fingo
In a Mays
Inn of the Last Home
Jaded Journal
Johnson City Stories
Lay Lines
Lean Left
Les Jones
Loco Parentis
Long Pauses
Mike Hollihan
Mike Reed
Mind Warp
Missives Anonymous
Mr. Lawson
My Quiet Life
Newton's Kumquat
No Quarters
One Hand Clapping
Pathetic Earthlings
Philosophical Scrivener
Queen Medb's Castle
Rebel Yell
Rex Hammock
Rich Hailey
Road Warrior
Sick of Bush
South Knox Bubba
Southern Reporter
Straight White Guy
Team Rock
The Golden Calf
Up For Anything
Voluntarily in China
Wandering Hillbilly
William Burton
InstaPundit (link removed, because I think Reynolds is an idiot, and he doesn't need the linkage. If you really want to waste your time reading his drivel, you know where to find him.)
Adam Groves (MIA)
Fat Ass Politics (MIA)
Oz's Lion (MIA)
Rapmaster (MIA)
Rush Limbaughtomy (MIA)
Secret City Scene (MIA)
Twelfth Parsec (MIA)
Uncommon Sense (KIA)
Underground Man (MIA)
Xyon's Rambles (MIA)

Memphis Blogs not in the Rocky Top Brigade

Signifying Nothing
m e m p h i s . c o o l (Jon W. Sparks's personal blog)
Sparks on Memphis (Jon W. Sparks's CA blog)
Peggy Phillip
Tread lightly on the things of earth
Rachel and the City
Well, I think I'm funny
Voice of Golden Eagle
when you're 21, you're no fun

The League of Liberals:

Democratic Veteran
The Spy Game
Cosmic Iguana
People's Republic of Seabrook
Philosophical Scrivener
The Mahablog
WTF is it NOW?
blunted on reality
Happy Furry Puppy Story Time
All Facts and Opinions
Dubya's Daily Diary
ARMACT Action Alerts
Cup O' Joe
Grateful Dread on the Web
The Poison Kitchen
Indigo Ocean
The Felonious Elephant
Sick of Bush
Arms and the Man
Rick's Cafe Americain
A-Changin' Times(ACT)
Estimated Prophet
Gotham City 13
Officially Unofficial
The Gunther Concept
The Mudshark
Screaming Points
Ink from the Squid
Left Is Right
Byte Back
The Huck Upchuck
The Sesquipedalian
DeanLand - Dean Landsman's Weblog
Turquoise Waffle Irons in the Back Yard
Wilson's Blogmanac
Ayn Clouter
Anarchy Xero

The Liberal Coalition

01/01/2003 - 01/31/2003
02/01/2003 - 02/28/2003
03/01/2003 - 03/31/2003
04/01/2003 - 04/30/2003
05/01/2003 - 05/31/2003
06/01/2003 - 06/30/2003
07/01/2003 - 07/31/2003
08/01/2003 - 08/31/2003
09/01/2003 - 09/30/2003
10/01/2003 - 10/31/2003
11/01/2003 - 11/30/2003
12/01/2003 - 12/31/2003
01/01/2004 - 01/31/2004
02/01/2004 - 02/29/2004
03/01/2004 - 03/31/2004
04/01/2004 - 04/30/2004

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Tuesday, September 30, 2003

And from a random reader...
of Media Whores Online (today's edition):

Last night I flipped on Tim Russert on CNBC and there was my man Al Franken hammering away on the unelected fraud and his minions. Unfortunately, they then went to a wide shot and there was Tucker, fixing his hair and snickering at Al. Carlson's main point of attack on Franken was that he was partisan and therefore his analysis was rendered useless. Huh? Whore Tim jumped in to help by pointing out that Bob Novak once mentioned he thought Carlson was not sufficiently to the right - they seemed to imply that this certified Carlson as a non-partisan analyst. Frankly, having Bob Novak say you're not far enough to the right is like Eugene Debs telling me I'm not far enough to the left. It doesn't make me a centrist, it just means I'm not quite insane.

Um.... didn't the Dixie Chicks catch holy hell for saying the same thing?
Clark: Americans 'embarrassed' by Bush

Mind you, I'm in total agreement with General Clark there...

Wesley Clark does his Ike impression
"I will go to Iraq." --Wesley K. Clark

He then does it one better:

"I will fire Don Rumsfeld."

Details here.

A great analysis by Eric Margolis
No wonder America has so many enemies

President Bill Clinton was impeached by a Republican-controlled Congress for lying about sex. President George W. Bush and aides lied the United States into a stupid, unnecessary colonial war that has so far killed more than 305 Americans and seriously wounded more than 1,400. It has also cost many thousands of Iraqi dead, and $1 billion US weekly.

Lying about sex is an impeachable offence; lying the nation into war apparently is not.

I was no Clinton fan, but give me his iffy morals any day over Bush's Mussolini-like strutting. Sen. Edward Kennedy is absolutely correct when he calls Bush's Iraq war a "fraud" concocted to win the next elections.

A fraud and an epic blunder.

Last week, Bush received a glacial and scornful reception at the United Nations that symbolized the world's contempt and disgust for his administration. Not since Nikita Khrushchev pounded his shoe on the speaker's rostrum has a major leader so embarrassed himself and his nation before the world body.

In his UN speech, Bush again claimed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and "ties" to terrorism. Days later, U.S. intelligence teams that scoured Iraq for four months reported no traces of weapons or terrorism links - the pretext used by Bush and his neo-conservative handlers for unprovoked war against Saddam Hussein.

The White House was left choking on its own grotesque lies.


Unfortunately, many Americans still do not understand how gravely the Bush White House has damaged and sullied their nation's once noble reputation.

Dangerous aggressor

Recent polls show that even among traditional friends abroad, America is no longer regarded as a champion of freedom, democracy and human rights, but increasingly as a dangerous aggressor bent on imperial domination and exploitation.

America's most precious and proudest asset, its moral reputation, has been gravely damaged by the Bush White House. The only positive note: rising anti-Americanism is largely associated in the eyes of non-Americans with the persona of George Bush, a man who projects almost all the negative stereotypes foreigners hold of Americans.

Bush's blinkered core supporters in middle America simply don't understand or don't care what the rest of the world thinks of their nation, which, since 9/11, has wrapped itself in a cocoon of xenophobia and self-righteous rage.

The White House's mouthpiece media, led by Fox News, have simply blanked out world opinion and endlessly chorused administration war propaganda.

A fascinating March study of network TV news by New York's Fairness and Accuracy in Media shows how Americans were misled into war by outrageously biased programming on Iraq.

The analysis found: a) 76% of all commentators about Iraq on TV were present or former government officials; b) only 6% of commentators expressed skepticism regarding the need for war - when 61% of the public supported more time for diplomacy and inspections; c) on the four TV networks, less than 1% of sources were identified with anti-war groups.

And more than two-thirds of commentators were from the U.S., 75% either present or former government or military officials. The small number of foreign commentators mostly came from nations like Britain and Israel which were backing Bush's war policy.

In short, the major networks, under White House prompting, beat the war drums and blatantly excluded commentators with contrary views, giving Americans a badly warped view of world events.

No wonder so few Americans understand what is going on abroad, how the outside world really sees them, or why America has so many enemies overseas. Small wonder many Americans are turning for balanced news to the CBC, BBC and the Internet.

Some excellent reportage from Helen Thomas
Hussein link was sales job

Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, according to President Bush.

But don't blame Americans for thinking otherwise.

When reporters asked him last week, Bush said: ``We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September the 11th.''

Poof! In an instant, the president knocked the stuffing from one of his stated reasons for leading the United States to war against Iraq. Earlier casualties in the administration's sell-the-war campaign were Hussein's weapons of mass destruction (still missing despite five months of searching by U.S. troops) and Iraq's nuclear arsenal (cancelled out earlier this month by Vice President Cheney.)

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., says that the administration's case for attacking Iraq was a fraud, ''made up in Texas,'' to help Republicans in next year's election. After all, a war-time president is by definition a popular president.

Kennedy says that the administration's sales job was based on ``distortion, misrepresentation, a selection of intelligence.''

The record shows that Kennedy is right on target. A stream of administration rhetoric has skillfully linked Hussein with 9/11 as part of its two-year sales campaign.

Now go read the rest of the article: she provides the proof.

It's not what you know, it's what you don't know and won't find out that matters...
From Project Censored: Censored 2004: The Top 25 Censored Media Stories of 2002-2003

Not only a list, but links to to lists of sources as well. Scary....

Interesting takes on l'affaire Plame
Specifically, why it won't go away. From Steve Gilliard's News Blog:

Bush knows the truth. He wants to know what to do about it. Which is try to bury it.

Which isn't gonna happen.


For nearly 50 years, the CIA has been cast as international villian number 1. They were formenting coups, ordering assassinations, playing tango with the KGB. Even in the US, the CIA turned from hero to goat in a few short years. This is the first time in the Agency's history, where they have the moral high ground and widespread public support. In a war against a shadowy terrorist group, people want an effective CIA and one which can protect Americans. To do that, they must be protected and able to work in anonymity. Anything which undermines that will not play well.

If 9/11 changed anything, it is respect for the CIA. People want the Agency to work. Exposing a CIA officer's name, especially one who tracked WMD, is treason. That person is trying to prevent a nuclear attack, fear of which Bush used so skillfully to wage war against Iraq.

The CIA is not going to miss the chance to exploit this chance to play the victim. Hard working secret operative exposed by sleazy political hack for spite. The fact that they have the chance to get revenge on Team B's players, well, that's icing on the cake.

Of course, one could overplay their hand, but Bush's troubles are not diminishing.

And then Billmon weighs in:

Speculation is probably futile, unless you're one of the 20 or 30 people actually inside the decisionmaking loops out at Langley or in the White House right now. Certainly, as I noted some months back, administrations that mess with the agency usually do so at their own peril. But the urgency with which Tenet and Co. have pushed this scandal back up from the depths of the sea is still eyecatching.

Whatever role the CIA played in bringing down the Nixon White House, or in pulling the plug on the Iran Contra operation, was very much in the background -- a few secrets whispered here, a draft presidential finding there. The agency may have left fingerprints, but the fingers themselves were not visible until well after the fact.

Not this time. These guys almost literally detonated a bomb beneath the Justice Department -- then followed up with a coordinated campaign of press leaks apparently designed to flush the White House perps (and their journalistic contacts) out into the open. We'll see over the next few days how well that game plan works, but the fact that the CIA has been so
obvious about executing it really gives me pause.

So why has the agency gone to Defcon 1?

I started out thinking this was just another round in the mother of all bureaucratic turf wars -- with Tenet striking preemptively to keep the White House and its congressional allies from tagging
him with responsibility for the missing WMD debacle. And maybe that's it. Maybe this really is about nothing more complicated than one man's fight to keep his job.

But the more I watch the story unfold, the more I think something deeper and darker is at stake. It seems the top career elite at the CIA, plus Tenet, has pulled out all the stops to try to bust up the Rove machine. That suggests they're worried about something much bigger than just bureaucratic turf or the WMD blame game.

In fact, if this were a Third World country, I'd say we're witnessing the early stages of a coup d'etat -- or of a desperate effort to prevent one. But of course, those kind of things never happen in America.

It's still creepy, though. In a democracy, intelligence agencies generally aren't supposed to undermine elected governments. But of course, elected governments also aren't supposed to go around outing intelligence agents for fun and profit.

So should we make an exception in this case, and cheer for the spooks? Under the circumstances, it's hard not to. But it also suggests an argument for the creation of a Special Counsel that conservatives might want to think about. Because if this investigation remains with the Justice Department, and the spooks decide the fix is already in, how will they react? What else might they spill, and who might they spill it to?

thinking about these things puts us a long step towards Alice's looking glass world. But so have the events of the past few days. If the CIA and the White House really are going to duke it out here, it would probably be good for both sides -- and for the country -- if we at least had a neutral referee.

But let's give the last word to BartCop:

Trust me - The Monkey has all the deniablity in the universe.
He doesn't know
nothing about nothing, and I could testify to that.

Bill Maher on David Kay coming up empty handed:
President Bush said he still believes, as he's maintained all along, that Saddam had an active program to begin thinking about a scenario whereby at some point in the future he might establish a program with the ultimate goal of building weapons of mass destruction.

That gem from the Bill Maher Blog.

If I hadn't been an assistant public defender, I wouldn't believe it
From the AP via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Mom goes to jail; toddler survives almost three weeks alone on ketchup, mustard and dry pasta

Ok, I'll link to another "recovering lawyer"
Here's Madeline Begun Kane, and her magnum opus: "That's What The Law's About". I won't reprint the whole thing; go follow the link.

You have to dot those i's.
You've got to cross those t's.
You have to seem so wise.
You must justify those fees.
And if you're smart and lucky
You will turn your case around.
That's what the law's about.

You sing it, of course, to the tune of "The Hokey Pokey".

Go follow the link, dammit! There's much more than that to the song. :-)

Are we paying O'Reilly, Faux News and their ilk too much attention?
Maybe, if this study of Chicagoland viewing habits is any indication (note: free link will expire on October 2 and move to the Tribune's paid archives):

Somewhere into the old maxim about lies, damn lies and statistics, one ought to be able to shoehorn television ratings. Networks and stations can do amazing things with A.C. Nielsen's little numbers to prove to advertisers that their outlet is, indeed, the best way to reach house-proud housewives in their mid-40s with medical anxieties on Tuesday nights in November.

So we decided, in offering this tableau of what news Chicagoans watch, to set aside all the hairsplitting. These numbers, individually, represent intact hairs, as it were, averages for total weekday viewers derived from one or several sweeps months, and the charts, collectively, represent the whole 'do.

While the result may look like the bastard stepchild of the TV listing and the sports agate pages, it is actually full of telling detail.

Much of what it tells is very bad news for cable news, which gets reams of publicity but doesn't have one show whose Chicago audience is large enough to fill Wrigley Field.


Cable: Heat or hype?

Probably the most striking fact in this set of statistics is the illustration of a complaint that television networks have been making for years: that we in the media write way too much about cable news.

At 6 p.m. weekdays in the Chicago area, the audience for all the national cable news programs combined can't equal the viewership of PBS' stodgy old "NewsHour." Way up ahead, like an Olympic miler facing a Sunday jogger, are the numbers that the local news stations draw at the same time, or that the national newscasts do in the preceding half-hour.

The same is true at 7 p.m., where WTTW-Ch. 11's newsmagazine "Chicago Tonight" not only kicks Bill O'Reilly's booty but that of all the national cable channels combined.

The most popular evening cable program is O'Reilly's hour of argument at 7 p.m., with 36,250 average viewers over the last four major sweeps months. By contrast, the least popular broadcast news program after 6 p.m. is WMAQ-Ch. 5's "NBC 5 Chicago News at 6," with 186,000 viewers.

The least popular evening cable program is CLTV's "Chicagoland News at 6:30," with 3,000.

That last is not a misprint: 3,000 viewers, the student population of one midsize high school, in a market with 3.4 million television homes, 68 percent of which are wired for cable.

But the schedule for CLTV (part of Tribune Publishing) is not alone in being full of sub-10,000 audiences. CNBC and MSNBC don't do much better here.

Big names, small audiences

CNBC shows "The News With Brian Williams" at 6 p.m. nightly, a solid informational hour drawing on the resources of NBC News and anchored by the anointed heir to Tom Brokaw at the big network. All that firepower lures just 6,625 Chicagoans to the set.

MSNBC's Chris Matthews, parodied endlessly on "Saturday Night Live"? Fewer than 10,000 viewers tune in for his "Hardball" (in any of the time slots his show has aired during the periods surveyed here), which means his biggest audience, by far, is in comic imitation.

CNN's Larry King, a broadcasting icon, talks to celebrities? 33,000 viewers.

And I'll steal this from Redbird Nation...
because it expresses exactly what I've thought of the man since the first time I heard him in the broadcast booth (from the same source as the Pujols item below):

Joe Buck is no Jack Buck. Joe’s usually great, but don’t you find something a little snarky about the guy? He’s got that Letterman Lite routine that Bobby Costas often pulls, and it gets a little annoying now and again.

Joe's gotten better over time, but when he first stepped into the Cardinals booth, it was clear to me that the only reason he got the job when he did was because he was Jack's son.

More fawning Pujols worship
Regular readers of this blog (all two of you ;-) ) know that I tend to lose my reason when I start thinking about Albert Puljols and his career prospects. So I steal this from Redbird Nation's Year End Lists, Part 1:

Some categories in which Pujols was among the league leaders
1st in runs, hits, doubles, batting average, runs created, total bases, and extra-base hits
2nd in slugging, offensive winning percentage, and OPS
3rd in home runs per out and on-base percentage
4th in home runs and RBIs

A sad comment....
From today's Steve Gilliard News Blog:

The condescention towards Iraqis, many of whom seem to be fairly well educated, is absolutely stunning. Just stunning. Little brown monkeys who need our guidance to become human beings seems to be the theme. When they videotape middle class Iraqi homes, they seem to look like anyone living in Dearborn or on Atlantic Avenue. They have computers and sattelite TV's and the women have modern haircuts and modern clothes and wear makeup and the men have suits and shirts and pants. They look no different than the Yemenis who run the local newsstand. But our racism and contempt for these people is simply amazing. The idea that we treat these people as if they're mindless children is insane and deadly.

Could this be the end of Limbaugh's career?
Nah... Even I'm not that stupid. But this might be the end of his football commentator career, if he keeps this up. From the Philadelphia Inquirer's Phil Sheridan:

The sick thing is, this is exactly what ESPN had in mind when the all-sports network hired veteran provocateur Rush Limbaugh for its Sunday NFL pregame show. You can imagine the meeting. The ESPN bigwigs must have needed drool cups to handle the runoff when they discussed the controversy Limbaugh would generate.

Well, here it is. Just be advised, ESPN, that you're not fooling anyone. You brought this tired act out of his radio closet, where he rants to people who already agree with him, to stir things up. Prepare to get spattered.

The smart thing would be to ignore it. Thing is, nobody ever called sportswriters smart. So there you have it.

Limbaugh's idea of commentary Sunday involved an absurd attack on Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb and on "the media" that have overrated him because "the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. There's interest in black quarterbacks and coaches doing well." McNabb, Limbaugh said, isn't "as good as everyone says he has been."

Here's your mistake, Rush. You stepped out of your radio comfort zone, where "Dittoheads" either echo your twisted view of America or you can cut them off. You stepped into a place where your bluff - and that's all it ever has been - is easily called.

Precious.... Just precious
KaAzA sues RIAA for copyright infringement.

Turnabout is fair play I suppose.

Taking a gander at Joe Conason's Journal on Salon...
I see an ad for something called "Extreme History" on The History Channel. Sundays, 9:30 PM (Central). Hosted by, of all people, Roger Daltrey.

Might be worth a look.....

News quote of the Day:
Background: Sunday night, in Alton, Illinois, a pleasure boat rammed into a gate of the Mel Price Locks and Dam at full speed, killing four people and severely injuring two. The cause of the crash has investigating authorities puzzled, since it's basically the boating equivalent of the pilot of a perfectly functional airplane just going into a power dive and crashing into the ground, just for the heck of it. (Actually, that happens a lot more often than people realize; in fact, it happens so much that the National Transportation Safety Board has a real live official term and four letter abbreviation for it: "Controlled Flight Into Terrain", or CFIT for short.)

This comment, from Captain Mark Ottis, investigating officer for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, caught my eye:

Ottis said he doesn't understand how the driver of the boat could have missed seeing the gate.

"Everybody keeps saying maybe they didn't see it, and maybe they didn't. But those things are kind of hard to hide," Ottis said.

Source here.

From Bernie Miklasz
Cards need to rethink philosophy that led to another wasted season

Cardinals owners didn't get value for their payroll dollars in 2003. General manager Walt Jocketty and manager Tony La Russa were given an $83 million payroll, the eighth-highest in the majors. But the brains behind the birds on the bat produced an underachieving also-ran that failed to make a timely September stretch run.

Another season was wasted in St. Louis. For those keeping score, the Cardinals haven't won a World Series since 1982, or appeared in one since 1987. And despite having what is usually the highest payroll in the division on a yearly basis, Jocketty and La Russa have mixed results.

In eight seasons as manager, La Russa has guided the Cardinals into the postseason four times, and he's taken the Cardinals to three National League Championship Series. That's all good. But during his extensive run as the boss, La Russa hasn't reached the World Series. And that's bad. Actually, it's virtually unprecedented in franchise history.

No Cardinals manager has really lasted as long as La Russa without advancing to a World Series. Starting in 1919, Branch Rickey managed the Cardinals for six-plus seasons without reaching a World Series. Under Red Schoendienst, the Cardinals were shut out of the World Series for eight consecutive seasons (1969-76). But Schoendienst deserves an asterisk, because his 1967 and '68 Cardinals got to the World Series, winning in '67.


If we're going to have a mediocre record, can't we do that for $45 million or $50 million in payroll? What's the justification for spending $83 million?

Before the Cardinals ministers of information in the broadcast booth and other media apologists start whining about thin pitching, injuries and bad luck, let us remind the cheer squad that La Russa and Jocketty assembled this pitching staff and did so without having a pistol aimed at them. They just made poor decisions. And this time around, the owners refused to bail out their baseball men; the late-season acquisitions of pitchers Sterling Hitchcock and Mike DeJean weren't nearly enough.

Injuries hit every team. And are all of those one-run losses - the Cardinals were 14-25 in such games through Saturday - really the result of bad luck? Or could it be questionable managing? Or maybe an overrated offense that declined by 20 points in batting average, 12 points in on-base percentage and 48 points in slugging percentage in the second half of the season?

The Cardinals could be in for another grueling summer in 2004. This year they had baseball's oldest team, averaging 31 years 226 days. That's slightly older than three other teams (Yankees, Boston and Seattle) who average 31-plus years. They couldn't win a pedestrian division even though Albert Pujols, Edgar Renteria and Scott Rolen drove in at least 100 runs.


They need to dangle some of their big names as trade lures. They have no choice. Because of La Russa's win-now philosophy, the farm system is low on marketable prospects. Jocketty, who makes excellent trades, has a chance to put his golden touch to work again, but he's running low on tradable pieces. And Jocketty must do a more astute job of identifying, and signing, free-agent bargains.

And 2004 should be an ultimatum year for La Russa. His contract expires after 2004; it will be his ninth season. If La Russa can't get the Cardinals to a World Series in nine seasons, with all of the power and resources that he's been granted, then it's time for him to move on.

And I don't know whether to be happy or disgusted....
The Bad News: the unspeakably horrible TV show "JAG" has spawned a spin-off: "Navy NCIS" (a title that is redundant in the same way "ATM Machine", or "PIN Number" is, so right there it's going to grate on my nerves, though series creator Donald "let me suck at the Navy's tit some more" Bellisario promises to drop "Navy" from the title soon).

The Good News: "Navy NCIS" does feature the return of David "Illya Kuryakin" McCallum to series TV, albeit in a role as a forensic pathologist type.

Interested? The St. Louis Post-Dispatch TV critic has some details here: Illya Kuryakin returns to big time TV 35 years after 'Man From U.N.C.L.E.'

I elect to close with a favorite Illya line from "U.N.C.L.E.":

Sending assassins to kill me is in very poor taste.
--Illya Kuryakin

Oh, fuck it, let's go for two:

Solo: Illya, are you free?
Kuryakin: No man is free who must work for a living. But I am available.
--The Man From U.N.C.L.E., "The Bow Wow Affair"

Interesting Juxtapositions Department:
According to my usually impeachable sources, today is the mutual birthday of both Angie Dickenson and Fran Drescher.

The mind boggles....

There are some arguments so stupid, only a lawyer can make them with a straight face
From Randy Cassingham's This is True newsletter, we hear of the resolution of a school disciplinary case in Pennsylvania. Apparently a couple junior high school students (Randy gives the age of both parties as 13), a boy and a girl, got themselves expelled; apparently the girl was giving the boy a blow job on the school bus. So far, the expulsion (unlike the behavior of the boy and girl) is pretty unremarkable. Then, as Lewis Black would say, "things took a turn...." The mother (according to Randy's account; this leads me to believe that she's a single mom) of the girl apparently sued the school board to overturn her daughter's expulsion. Her argument? The expulsion is obviously illegal, quoth Mom (or quoth her lawyer, which is the same thing in the courtroom) because the school board never instituted an explicit policy prohibiting girls from giving boys blow jobs on the school bus.

This is probably the most bizarre argument I've heard since the discussion, in the wake of the "Monicagate" revelations, of whether oral sex constituted adultery....

But rest easy (for now, at least), the judge who heard Mom's moronic argument for her daughter's reinstatement dismissed the suit...

UPDATE: Before someone gets after me, thinking this is fictional or an urban legend, I took a little time on the Web and managed to find this story, from the Beaver County Times online: Pupil's expulsion appeal denied The facts of the case, from that bastion of Journalism:

School administrators suspended the girl and a seventh-grade male classmate, also 13, for 10 days on May 19 after several other pupils reported that the pair had oral sex that day on a bus while returning from a field trip to Independence Marsh in Independence Township.

The Times is not identifying the children or their parents because of the nature of the case.

Both children admitted to middle school Principal Thomas Ralston that they had consensual oral sex on the bus in front of other pupils.

During an expulsion hearing June 2 before the school board, the girl said her behavior was the result of peer pressure.

According to a transcript of the proceedings, the girl said that before leaving the marsh, she and another girl had discussed performing oral sex on the boy, and the other girl said they should do it.

"She said because she thought it would be cool and she thought all of her friends would look up to us," the girl told the board.

On the bus, the second girl tried to get a second boy to let her fondle him, the expelled girl said.

Meanwhile, the girl who was expelled was sitting next to the first boy. She said several other boys sitting around them began egging them on, one calling them chicken and other names, and another saying he wanted to see some action.

"Then I looked at (the boy) and said, 'Well, what are we supposed to do?' and he said we were going to lose our friends if we didn't," the girl said.

Neither the bus driver nor two chaperones noticed what was going on. Administrators learned of the incident after several pupils told a guidance counselor, who reported it to Ralston.

When confronted by Ralston, the girl and boy were remorseful and ashamed about what happened. Prior to the incident, neither child had been disciplined at school.

Both were expelled until Oct. 29. They were offered admission to the school district's alternative-education program and can be reinstated to mainstream classes as long as they comply with the conditions of their expulsion.

They also have to be examined by the school's student assistance team to determine whether they should be referred to the county's mental health agency for counseling. If they are referred, they must complete the counseling. They also are banned from all school functions during the expulsion.

Phone calls placed Tuesday from The Times to the parents of both children; Kurt Winter, the attorney for the girl's mother; and Diane Z. Buchanan, an attorney for the school board, were not returned.

Thought for the Day:
Families, when a child is born
Want it to be intelligent.
I, through intelligence,
Having wrecked my whole life,
Only hope the baby will prove
Ignorant and stupid.
Then he will crown a tranquil life
By becoming a Cabinet Minister
--Su Tung-p'o

Monday, September 29, 2003

You aren't the only one, Marc....
I'm scared too. This is a random letter to BartCop:

Subject: Bush low poll numbers scare me

It scares me when Bush's poll numbers drop below 50% because the only things that drive Bush's poll numbers up are terrorist events and war. Once the cloud of terrorism and war subsides the voters start to notice that the economy is collapsing, the deficit is soaring, education and health care systems failing, and the governments wants to spy on everything we do. So what scares me is with the presidential election heating up - Bush needs a war or terrorist event to distract America from his failed presidency. And I get nervous when Bush needs war.

Marc Perkel

My guess is that next summer, around the time of the Republican National Convention, the Neocons are going to figure it's a great time to invade Iran. Or Syria... Or....

More misAdministration lies and deceit
From the WaPo: Data Reveal Inaccuracies in Portrayal of Iraqis And of course, as noted by Bob Somerby in today's Daily Howler, the Post buried this one on page A14.

Top Bush administration officials in the past weeks have been citing a pair of public opinion polls to demonstrate that Iraqis have a positive view of the U.S. occupation. But an examination of those polls indicates Iraqis have a less enthusiastic view than the administration has portrayed.

For example, in testimony before Congress, L. Paul Bremer III, the U.S. administrator in Iraq, and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz both cited a recent Gallup Poll that found that almost two-thirds of those polled in Baghdad said it was worth the hardships suffered since the U.S.-led invasion ousted Saddam Hussein. Bremer also told Congress that 67 percent thought that in five years they would be better off, and only 11 percent thought they would be worse off.

That same poll, however, found that, countrywide, only 33 percent thought they were better off than they were before the invasion and 47 percent said they were worse off. And 94 percent said that Baghdad was a more dangerous place for them to live, a finding the administration officials did not discuss.

The poll also found that 29 percent of Baghdad residents had a favorable view of the United States, while 44 percent had a negative view. By comparison, 55 percent had a favorable view of France.

Similarly, half of Baghdad residents had a negative view of President Bush, while 29 percent had a favorable view of him. In contrast, French President Jacques Chirac drew a 42 percent favorable rating.

Earlier, on Sept. 14, Vice President Cheney on NBC's "Meet the Press" discussed findings from a Zogby International poll of 600 Iraqis done in August in conjunction with American Enterprise magazine. He described the poll as "carefully done" and said it found "very positive news in it in terms of the numbers it shows with respect to the attitudes to what Americans have done."

"The U.S. wins hands down," Cheney said, when Iraqis were asked what model of government they would prefer among five choices. Cheney's information, according to an aide, came from the American Enterprise essay on the poll that said 37 percent of respondents chose the United States, and 28 percent selected Saudi Arabia.

But a look at the raw data from the poll on the magazine's Web site revealed different figures. According to the data, only 21.5 percent chose the United States, while 20 percent refused to select any model, and 16 percent selected the Saudi government.

Cheney also said, "If you want to ask them do they want an Islamic government established, by two-to-one margins they say no, including the Shia population." He said that when asked how long they want the Americans to stay, "over 60 percent of the people polled said they want the U.S. to stay for at least another year."

But the poll also found that half of respondents said Western democracy would not work well in Iraq, while 40 percent said it would. Asked whether the United States would help or hurt Iraq over the next five years, 35 percent said the U.S. would help but half said it would hurt Iraq. Also, on the question of an Islamic government, the alternative offered was "or instead let all people practice their own religion," which implied that could not be done under the former.

Y'know, if George W. Bush told me the sun was shining I wouldn't believe him until I verified it myself.

Somerby on the Plame affair...
Bob's at his usual incomparable best in today's Daily Howler:

BY THEIR SILENCE YE SHALL KNOW THEM: After conducting his own internal probe, George Tenet has asked the Justice Department to investigate a possible crime—the revelation that Joe Wilson’s wife was an undercover CIA officer. But don’t miss the remarkable back-story here—the amazing silence of the Washington press corps over the past three months. This story broke in Robert Novak’s July 14 column, in which Novak said that "two senior administration officials" had called him to out Wilson’s wife. Because this startling report came from Novak, it plainly wasn’t a case of the heinous "Bush-hating" that has Americans so deeply troubled. And it was obvious that these "senior officials" may have committed a serious crime. But over the course of the past three months, have you seen a word—have you seen one word—from Washington’s pundits about this story? Of course not! Instead, pundits did what they do best—they hid beneath their mahogany desks, pretending not to have heard this report. Did any pundit ask for a probe? Did any major Washington pundit try to keep this story alive? Your pundit corps was quite expert at gimmicking up Clinton-era pseudo-scandals. But when this highly credible report appeared, bearing Novak’s imprimatur, all of Washington’s brave, brave scribes knew they should head for the hills. By the way: Even in this morning’s New York Times, this story is given secondary status, folded into another story. It doesn’t even rate its own headline. The Times was brilliant at ginning up Clinton "scandals," including Whitewater, the mother of all fake and phony flaps. Now it fiddles, diddles and blathers in the face of acknowledged White House crime. (In yesterday’s Post—linked to above—another “senior official” says that White House officials did make the phone calls in question.)

Final question: Should President Bush’s Justice Department be investigating President Bush’s "senior officials?" We’re waiting to hear the press corps’ calls for an independent investigation. And of course, pundits will know that this special counsel should be a lifelong insider Democrat. Scribes made this a point of principle at the time of Ken Starr’s appointment. We’re sure that they’ll yell loudly now. You know just how moral they are.

Way to go Albert!
Pujols wins the NL batting crown, by the skin of his teeth:

After all his extra-base hits, Albert Pujols won the closest batting race in NL history thanks to an infield single.

The St. Louis slugger went 2-for-5 and barely held off Todd Helton as the Cardinals beat Arizona 9-5 in their season finale.

Pujols finished at .3587 while Helton hit .3585 for Colorado - a difference of .00022.

"I mean, how close can it get?" St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said.

If Pujols had not been able to beat pitcher Brandon Webb's throw on that dribbler down the third-base line in the third inning, Pujols would have lost the title to Helton.

Pujols was 0-for-9 in the series going into that at-bat.

"I was hustling no matter what," he said. "I knew if I could get a hit, I was going to get another one."

He doubled down the left-field line in the seventh inning, but when he struck out looking in the eighth, he had to wait for Helton's final at-bat in San Diego. The Colorado slugger was walked intentionally in the eighth inning, and the celebration began in a corner of the Cardinals' clubhouse.

"Can you imagine? You get 590 at-bats and it comes down to one at-bat the last day," Pujols said. "This is unbelievable."


Going into the day, Pujols led Helton by .35836 to .35751.

The previous tightest NL edge came in 1931 when St. Louis' Chick Hafey beat New York's Bill Terry by .00028, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Overall, it was the majors' third-closest finish for a batting title.

In 1945, the Yankees' Snuffy Stirnweiss beat Tony Cuccinello of the White Sox by .00009 in the AL. In 1949, Detroit's George Kell edged Boston's Ted Williams by .00016.

Pujols is the youngest player to win the NL batting title since Tommy Davis of Los Angeles in 1962. The St. Louis star is 23 years, 255 days and Davis was 23 years, 196 days.

Pujols also is the first right-hander to win the NL title since Andres Galarraga in 1993.

"Third year in the big leagues and winning a batting title I think is amazing," Pujols said, "but this is over already. I need to take two months off and get ready for a new season."

Pujols also led the majors with 51 doubles and was among the leaders with 43 home runs.

Unfortunately, Albert only tied Ralph Kiner, finishing with 114 homers for his first three seasons. Oh well....

What we want is mature and trustworthy technology for voting.....
and that says to me, "paper ballots". This comment by "Meteor Blades" in yesterday's Daily Kos:

Every day, more and more, the idea of returning to paper ballots appeals to me. This would provide a few more seasonal jobs for counters, recounters and auditors. It would give the media days instead of minutes to speculate on what the final count will be. It would even let the hemp lobbyists campaign to require all ballots to be made of their favorite renewable crop. Best of all, with checks and balances provided by all those redundant eyes in the counting rooms, it would give our democracy an accurate measure of the desires of the voters.

Let's get everything on the table
From the Boston Globe:

If Democrats have their way, Senate debate this week on President Bush's $87 billion plan for U.S. operations in Iraq will boil down to garbage trucks, area codes and taxes on the rich.

With the political stakes rising for Bush and both parties, the Senate Appropriations Committee plans to write its version of the bill on Tuesday, followed by full Senate debate. The House is not expected to develop its alternative for at least an additional week.

Work on the plan comes as polls show a steady slippage in Bush's popularity and in the public's confidence in his Iraq policies. GOP control of the White House and Congress are up for grabs next year and Democrats hope to use the Iraq debate to fan doubts about Bush.

The fight will be the ''the defining issue for this session of Congress,'' said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.

Bush's proposal which also has funds for Afghanistan is dominated by $66 billion for the Pentagon that has support from Republicans and Democrats.

It is the $20.3 billion portion for rebuilding Iraq's economy and government that Democrats are calling attention to, piece by piece.

There is $164 million to improve the curriculum for training Iraq's new army. With Iraq's oil industry in shambles, there is $900 million to import petroleum products into the country believed to have the world's second largest oil reserves.

An additional $4 million is to start telephone area codes and a 911-type emergency number. There is $19 million to begin setting up wireless Internet service.

Bush wants $100 million for 2,000 sanitation trucks at $50,000 apiece. He wants $400 million for two new prisons housing 8,000 additional prisoners, at $50,000 per bed.

''I have a lot of constituents in my state of South Dakota who live in homes that don't cost $50,000 per bedroom,'' said Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., testing lines that Democrats are sure to use in the debate.


In what could be a major embarrassment for Bush and the GOP, some Republicans say there could be a close vote on an amendment by Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., paying the bill's costs by canceling some scheduled income tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans.

Bush and GOP leaders have refused to reconsider any tax reductions, arguing they are a pivotal part of the administration's plan to spark the economy.

Democrats hope that facing record federal deficits, moderate Republicans might help push Biden's proposal over the top.

Even if they lose, Democrats will be happy to get Republicans on record refusing to pay the bill's massive $87 billion price tag by rolling back tax cuts on people earning at least $360,000 annually.

I'm all in favor of this; let's have a nice, vigorous debate on these tax cuts. And perhaps the American electorate should get in touch with their senators and urge some rollbacks of these irresponsible tax cuts, before it's too late?

So funny I'm crying....
though I'm not sure the tears are tears of joy. From Harper's Magazine, Sam Smith gives us "The Revision Thing: A history of the Iraq war, told in lies".

Thought for the Day:
[N]ow it is time to take a short breather and consider what I learned by selling my Bowflex home gym on eBay. It is a lesson that could be worth billions. My reason for selling the Bowflex was simple: I am a slug. Six weeks to a fitter body only works, I learned, if you actually use the machine. Muscles are apparently involved.
--Robert X. Cringely []

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Thought for the Day:
I don't want to give people the idea that I spend all my time on the Internet, but in the right hands the Internet is a wonderous tool, and in the wrong hands it is an even better one.
--Cecil Adams

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Oh wow.... I'll need this printed out next time I watch....
my copy of "Bull Durham": Apparently, the script of "Bull Durham" has made it out there to the 'net.

Just scoping a few pages I see some changes from the actual movie; I may have to watch the flick with one eye on the script just to note all the changes.

Interesting speculation by Matt on Redbird Nation
Not that it's any of our business, but it makes a bit o' sense....

WOMAN IN RED Anybody who watched the Fox broadcast last night knows that great looking women must have flocked in droves to Arizona since the banishment of Beau Duran. As usual, the Fox cameramen provided us with more than adequate supporting documentation. The greatest of the greats was a woman in a red bandana and red shirt who was sitting several rows back between home plate and third base. After cameras lingered on her for the 2nd or 3rd time, I realized that it was 1998 Playboy Playmate of the Year Karen McDougal. No kidding.

As anybody who's read Flynn's private diaries knows, there's a reasonably good chance that a great looking woman – and probably even greater chance that a Playboy Playmate – sitting that close to the field is a girlfriend or mistress to one of the players. My first thought was that old Gracie had done it again. But then I focused on the obvious – she was wearing a red bandana and red shirt: she's got to be with one of the Cards.

Which one? My money's on Taguchi or Miklasz, but we're open to any suggestions from Redbird Nation readers. If you have any guesses along with reasons why, please send them in.

On the other hand, is it possible that she might only be a Cards fan, but with someone else? Either on the D'backs, or some Mover and Shaker in Phoenix?

As a close friend of mine would say....
"Even a blind hog finds an acorn once in a while." And even the New York Times's Thomas Friedman can make sense once in a while.

President Bush went up there [to the United Nations] last week, hat in hand, looking for financial and military support for the war he chose to launch in Iraq. I would summarize the collective response of the U.N. to Mr. Bush as follows:

"You talkin' to us? This is your war, pal. We told you before about Iraq: You break it alone, you own it alone. Well, you broke it, now you own it. We've got you over a barrel, because you and your taxpayers have no choice but to see this through, so why should we pay? If you make Iraq a success, we'll all enjoy the security benefits. We'll all get a free ride. And if you make a mess in Iraq, all the wrath will be directed at you and you alone will foot the bill. There is a fine line between being Churchill and being a chump, and we'll let history decide who you are. In the meantime, don't expect us to pay to watch. We were all born at night — but not last night."


As if this weren't enough for one week, the U.S. public also got a lesson in wars of choice. It was administered by David Kay, the former U.N. weapons inspector who has been leading the U.S. team searching for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Last week Mr. Kay gave an interim report indicating that in four months of searching in Iraq he has found none of the W.M.D. that President Bush cited as his principal reason for going to war.

What this means for the American people is this: The war to oust Saddam Hussein was always a war of choice (a good choice, I believe). But democracies don't like to fight wars of choice, and, if they do, they want them to be quick sprints, like Bosnia, Kosovo or Grenada — not marathons. Knowing this, the Bush team tried to turn Iraq into a war of necessity by hyping the threat Saddam may have posed with W.M.D.

With Mr. Kay's interim report, it is now becoming clear that this was not a war of necessity at all, it was a war of choice, and, on top of it all, it was a war of choice that is going to be a marathon, not a sprint. And, because the Bush team chose to start this marathon largely alone, the free-riding world is going to let us finish it, and pay for it, largely alone.

This is the cold, hard reality and U.S. politics will now be about how we manage it. So far, notes Jeff Garten, dean of the Yale School of Management, "the politics of the day, whether by Republicans or Democrats, has not been up to the magnitude of the task. There is disparity between the words people use to describe the challenge and any honest appraisal of what it's going to take to succeed."

President Bush is deeply morally unserious when he tells Americans that we can succeed in this marathon and still have radical tax cuts for the rich and a soaring deficit, and the only people who will have to sacrifice are reservists and soldiers.

Eye opening
Find out how your state would make out if it got its fair share of Bush's requested $87 billion for the Iraq war: National Priorities Project: The Cost of the War by State

And from Dumbya's interview with Brit Hume on Faux News...
a transcript of which you can find here: know I'm a man of peace...I've got a job to do, and I'm going to be judged upon whether or not the world is more peaceful and whether or not America is more prosperous and more compassionate.

Let's leave aside the obvious falsehood (" know I'm a man of peace"--how the bastard can say that with a straight face is more than I can figure out); I agree with "President" Smirking Chimp that he will be judged on whether the world is more peaceful (it isn't, and won't be if his puppetmeisters invade Iraq, Syria, et. al. like they were planning) and whether or not America is more prosperous (how can that be when Bush is likely to be the first president since Hoover to have his economy lose jobs) and more compassionate (how can that be when Dumbya's puppetmeisters plot to trigger an economic crisis so that popular social programs like Medicare and Social Security can be dismantled?).

Judged by those standards, George W. Bush is a miserable failure. Just like he's been a miserable failure at everything else he's ever tried in his wretched, worthless life.

That reminds me....
I need to become a "card carrying" member of the ACLU again.

The ACLU is suing the U.S. Secret Service for it's complicity in Dumbya's stifling of the right of free speech and dissent. As you may be aware, George Dumbya Bush is so insecure and snitty about criticism that he has the Secret Service round up protesters at his public appearances and put them in "First Amendment zones" far away from him, so that he doesn't need to be threatened by seeing that there are Americans who think he's an incompetent prick. The ACLU is suing the USSS because of their complicity in this. Quoth an ACLU spokesman:

“There is nothing more American than raising your voice in protest, and there is nothing more un-American than a government that attempts to hit the mute button when it doesn’t like what it hears,” said Witold Walczak, Legal Director of the ACLU of Greater Pittsburgh and a member of the national ACLU legal team that filed today’s lawsuit.

Still, the quote is on the mark
Even if the source is a wingnut web page devoted to "revealing" "liberal bias" in the media....

If Bush managed the Texas Rangers like he's managing government, you'd just see this whole group of people on the field, including lots and lots of coaches, lots of deputy coaches, and under deputy coaches and assistant deputy coaches. But you wouldn't be winning very many baseball games.
--Professor Paul C. Light, Wagner School of Public Service, New York University

As usual, we need to go overseas for the real news....
Per an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, Australian journalist John Pilger claims to have evidence that the White House knew that Saddam Hussein had no WMDs but deliberately seized on the 9/11 attacks to justify a decision to invade Iraq.

Australian investigative journalist John Pilger says he has evidence the war against Iraq was based on a lie which could cost George W Bush and Tony Blair their jobs and bring Prime Minister John Howard down with them.

A television report by Pilger aired on British screens last night said US Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice confirmed in early 2001 that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had been disarmed and was no threat.

But after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on September 11 that year, Pilger claimed Rice said the US "must move to take advantage of these new opportunities" to attack Iraq and claim control of its oil.

Pilger uncovered video footage of Powell in Cairo on February 24, 2001 saying, "He (Saddam Hussein) has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbours."

Two months later, Rice reportedly said, "We are able to keep his arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt."

Powell boasted this was because America's policy of containment and its sanctions had effectively disarmed Saddam.

Pilger claims this confirms that the decision of US President George W Bush - with the full support of British Prime Minister Blair and Howard - to wage war on Saddam because he had weapons of mass destruction was a huge deception.

What a wonderful sight....
Daily Kos today takes up the story that the CIA is requesting a formal Justice Department investigation of who in the misAdministration "outed" Valerie Plame (wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, the investigator of the "Nigergate"/yellowcake allegations (the linked DKos post has a link to the MSNBC story).

I hope that Wilson gets his wish:

At the end of the day, it's of keen interest to me to see whether or not we can get Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs. And trust me, when I use that name, I measure my words.

Well, the season's over (save for the shouting)....
The Cards lost to the D'backs yesterday, which eliminates them. Oh well... Wait til next year.

Thought for the Day:
Chris: You forget one thing. We took a contract.
Vin: It's sure not the kind any court would enforce.
Chris: That's just the kind you've got to keep.
--"The Magnificent Seven" [film]

Friday, September 26, 2003

I don't believe it....
The Cardinals are still holding on.... All it takes is one Cubs win or one Cards loss to eliminate them, though, and the game with the D'backs is still going on...2-2 in the top of the 6th according to

Makes me wonder..... should I admit I'm from St. Louis
It figures... It has to be a St. Louis born rapper who markets an energy drink called "Pimp Juice". Makes me glad that I can't even elect to see "The Nelly and Marshall Faulk Show" on Fox Sports Midwest.

Dolan investigation ordered....
Seems that in Missouri, which recently passed a concealed carry law not long ago, a state senator from Lake St. Louis, Jon Dolan (R--of course) was allowed to take a very irregular "leave" from his active duty in Guantanamo Bay in order to return to Jefferson City for a veto override vote. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Army has ordered an investigation of whether Dolan's leave was properly granted.

I'd love for Dolan to get court-martialed for it, but most likely it'll probably be found to be an innocent impropriety. Oh well. Life ain't just.

Billmon may have hit upon the answer
From Whiskey Bar:

A Modest Proposal
Census Bureau: Poverty Up, Incomes Down

Poverty rose and income levels declined in 2002 for the second straight year as the nation's economy continued struggling after the first recession in a decade, the Census Bureau reported Friday.

     The poverty rate was 12.1 percent last year, up from 11.7 percent in 2001. Nearly 34.6
     million people lived in poverty, about 1.7 million more than the previous year.

It seems to me that if we just shipped America's poor to Iraq, we could alieviate the Army's manpower problem, decrease the surplus population here at home and raise average income levels in both countries.

You know: The "compassionate conservatism" thing.

"We didn't mean to be offensive...." Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigggggggghhhhhhhttttttt.....
This reference from Anthony Rickey at Three Years of Hell to be the Devil: apparently a Young Conservatives group at SMU held a bake sale where the price you paid depended on your race or gender. From the CNN article:

The sale was organized by the Young Conservatives of Texas, who said it was intended as a protest of affirmative action.

A sign said white males had to pay $1 for a cookie. The price was 75 cents for white women, 50 cents for Hispanics and 25 cents for blacks.

Members of the conservative group said they meant no offense and were only trying to protest the use of race or gender as a factor in college admissions.

Similar sales have been held by College Republican chapters at colleges in at least five other states since February.

Anthony and I are on opposite sides of the aisle politically, but I'm in total agreement with him here:

But for the record, someone ought to point out that whatever the First Amendment, the actions of these students were rude, vulgar, and a cheap, sophmoric stunt. Like most 'non-verbal speech,' the differential pricing could have multiple interpretations and was almost certain to offend. It shouldn't have been shut down--but someone should have told their parents, because their parents should have taught them better.

UPDATE: Then, for a bit stronger response, we have this commentarry from Steve Gilliard:

Poor little peckerwoods whining about those darkies getting ahead.

How in God's name could they thing anything is unfair in their tiny little lives? They go to an expensive private university in one of the world's wealthiest cities in one of the world's wealthiest countries and they think something is unfair? What, they might not be able to get one of their crony buddies a job in the future?

Notice, despite every statistic that Hispanics are poorer than blacks, blacks were charged the least amount. Racist? You make the call. They don't have the balls to say "we hate niggers, spics and uppity white women, especially those who fuck niggers and spics", so they have a cute little bakesale.

What boils my balls is that these kids are lucky. They are rich, white and live in Texas which means no one will ever question them for being in the wrong place at 2 AM. They should have no worries beyond a good supply of condoms and fresh beer. No one yanked them from class for 16 months of fun in sunny Iraq. You wanna talk unfair, that's unfair. Nothing happening to these spoiled little brats is unfair. If SMU has 19 percent minorities, it's because it's in fucking Dallas, which has a lot of blacks and Mexicans. I know they long for the days where coloreds just swept up at SMU, but those days are over. What? Cousin Billy Bob had to go to Baylor instead? Texas A&M? Sorry. It's Southern Methodist University, not Southern Klan University. These little assholes have never had a job to lose, much less lost a job to anyone, they're at freaking SMU.

Free speech my ass. I have a free speech solution, let's discuss every black person lynched in Texas from 1865 and see how unfair Affirmative Action really is. They had to march the first black student in to law school at UT Austin. These folks and the parents and grandparents just walked right in. And now they think someone is taking their "rights" away? The right to what? White supremacy? They want unfair, ask their National Guardsmen classmates about unfair. They're experts on the subject.

Shumakergate: the saga continues
Another story from the Commercial-Appeal: Shumaker's credit card use at U of L was within limits

From the article:

University of Louisville officials said the audit showed the effectiveness of the school's financial controls and should allay fears that Shumaker had engaged in the type of spending that brought him to grief at Tennessee.

"The processes and controls that we have in place are good, and I think that the audit has verified that," James Ramsey, the University of Louisville's current president, told reporters after the audit was submitted to university trustees.

In other words, blame the victim: UT brought it all on themselves, didn't they?

And speaking of the Commercial-Appeal...
In a rare display of motivation this morning I got the bug up my butt to write a letter to the editor in response to a guest op-ed in the paper: Why marriage is not a civil right to be redefined. I just got a phone call from a "Kim" at the paper to verify whether I did in fact write the letter in question, and confirming the spelling of my last name, so they may be planning on running it. I'll have to keep my eye on the "letters to the editor" for the next couple days.

Ok, I know, y'all want to read the damn thing, regardless. It ain't that much, really....

To the editor:

Mark Powell's guest column, "Why marriage is not a civil right to be redefined" misses a very important point which should be considered by opponents of "gay marriage". There are two aspects to the marriage relationship. The aspect which Powell concentrates on is the religious, moral, and psychological aspect of ordering one's moral relations with other human beings (one's spouse and the children of that marriage). However, there is also the aspect which is the focus of the civil law: the ordering of legal relationships between human beings. When two individuals get married, the law thereby governs the rights of and responsibilities of the parties to that union, establishing such things as obligations to support and the right to recieve support (both spousal support and child support to any child born to or adopted into the union), the right to receive dependency benefits as a condition of employment, the right to hold property jointly, and the right to inherit property of the spouse in the event of death. All of these rights and responsibilities are important, and by denying gay persons the right to get married we are denying them these rights (and, even more importantly, absolving them of obligation to live up to the responsibilities which these rights entail).

Allowing gay people the opportunity legally to enter a civil relationship which is the legal equivalent of marriage is simply giving them the chance to order their lives in a manner identical to the way straight people can order their lives (and have ordered their lives for many hundreds of years). Giving legal recognition to these relationships in no way denigrates or lessens the value of religious marriage between a man and a woman. Powell's column, far from demonstrating a threat to such relationships, merely demonstrates how shaky and insecure a foundation his beliefs must have, since he perceives such a threat where none exists.

Leonard R. Cleavelin
Memphis, TN

UPDATE: This is a recent post from Whiskey Bar, to show you how off the wall and out of touch I am (along with others, like Howard Dean) with good American values:

Traditional Values
Like "fairness," for example.

According to that notoriously wacko leftist news organization Fox News, a plurality of Americans now support the idea of allowing gay civil unions:

     Q: Do you support or oppose allowing homosexual couples to form civil unions that
     are not marriages, but would give gay couples rights such as inheritance, insurance
     and hospital visiting privileges?
        Support: 46%
        Oppose: 44%
        Not Sure: 10%

Proving once again just how out of touch that crazy liberal Howard Dean is with "mainstream" America...

Note to Jerry Lee....
next time, just find a woman you hate and buy her a house.... This from the Memphis Commercial-Appeal: Lewis's estranged wife moves birthday party

And now, for a little levity....
Atrios has fun with Arizona:

Now, I'm not quite sure who let Arizona in, but obviously it was a big mistake. Only one third of the residents of that pinko state think our president should be re-elected. I'd like to think that's fine, but we're at war. You can't change pitchers in the middle of the game. Well, okay, wait, you can, but you only do it when the pitcher sucks. It isn't the way the Levittown Little League did business, back in my humble days during my humble upbringing. Mom, apple pie, and the flag. That's all we knew. Where'd all this talk about Negroes come from? It's wrong I say, wrong. Why can't they just be white like us? Come on, people, they're just milking this race thing. We didn't have these problems in Levittown. If only they'd just shut the hell up, everything would be fine.

But as for Arizona, they haven't had the balls to come on my show. Scared of Mr.O'Reillly they are. But it isn't about me - they're scared of real Americans, the people who watch my show.

Interesting take on the Clark campaign, for now.
This from the Daily Kos weekly "Cattle Call":

Solid debate appearance. He may have said nothing of substance, but he sure sounds good saying nothing. In politics, that's a gift.

Kos had a couple other interesting comments, too....

On Dick Gephardt: His attacks on Dean ("he stood with Gingrich") are clearly designed to strip Dean's increasingly strong labor support. Whether they are successful remains to be seen. Lieberman's attacks seemed to backfire. But then again, so much is going wrong with Lieberman it's hard to pinpoint the exact causes, and the level of impact each of them had.

On John Edwards: He was able to "stay above the fray" in last night's debate, which is always helpful. But that's because everyone else ignored him. The rest of the field is clearly not spooked by Edwards just yet.

On Al Sharpton: The Mike S. of the Democratic primary field -- trying to keep the candidates from eating our own. And people thought he would be divisive!

On Dennis Kucinich: At least he was the only one who proposed truly unpopular proposals when asked in the debate. (Lieberman's unpopular policy? Winning the war on terror.)

Of course, the questioner asked for one unpopular policy he would pursue, and Kucinich responded with three items. Kind of suggests that he isn't really trying that hard to get elected.

Maybe he's trying to build a Nader-like progressive network. Start a think tank. That sort of thing.

Sounds like business as usual to me....
Got this via Jo Fish at Democratic Veteran: Microsoft Critic Forced Out; Firm does business with Microsoft

Don't surprise me in the least; I remember working for Solutech/Quilogy where we were so enthusiastically urged to be Microsoft evangelists that I got sick of it; I felt like I was a whore for Microsoft and Quilogy was merely pimping me. Thank you, Quilogy, both for giving me my start in the tech industry, and for laying me off in time to go to the job at UT. I feel so much cleaner now.

My comments at Democratic Veteran, for what they're worth:

This doesn't strike me as at all surprising.

My first job in the tech industry after my career change (I was a lawyer for about 10 years before that) was with a Microsoft Solution Provider and MS certified training center. During the time I worked there we were always strongly urged to be Microsoft "evangelists" and to always urge Microsoft solutions to our client problems, even when there were obviously superior non-Microsoft solutions available. After a few years I got tired of being a whore for Microsoft and began criticizing MS outside the office (on 'net chat boards and the like), openly identifying myself as a disgruntled Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer/Microsoft Certified Trainer. Not a surprise, about 6 months later, that I was laid off. I have no doubts that the layoff was legitimate and not retalitory (the company had been hit hard by the "dot bomb", and I did mostly training, which was very hard hit by the Bush economic "miracle"), but I'm sure my Microsoft anti-evangelism wasn't "a career enhancing move" as we used to say in the USN.

I'm so happy to be working where I am now; while we're a Microsoft shop my boss doesn't hold my Linux enthusiasm against me, and I can scream "Microsoft sucks!!!!" in public without worrying that my job is in jeopardy now.

Today's "Buzzword of the day":
From the mailing list:

MENTAL PEZ: To be hit with so much information that it becomes impossible to focus on one thing, so stuff goes from top-of-mind to tip-of-tongue, only to eventually fall out of our head completely … sort of like a mental Pez. (From the "Sally Forth" comic strip.)
Nominated by Mark Worden

John Walston

To see the full Buzzword Compliant Dictionary,
just click here.

Thought for the Day:
There are two general rules of health that I've thought of, that I think work. First is that the good die young, and pricks live forever, and if you masturbate--and I know this for a fact because I did the work in my own lab (I was wearing a lab coat at the time)--if you masturbate 20 times a day, you'll never get out the door. You may get out the door but then you'll fall down.
--Lewis Black

Thursday, September 25, 2003

A perceptive analysis by Josh Marshall
in yesterday's Talking Points Memo.

Presidents can do a lot worse than 49% approval a year before they face reelection -- as NBC is reporting for President Bush tonight.

In fact, I'm pretty sure the last two presidents who won second terms (Reagan in 1983 and Clinton in 1995) were doing worse a year out. But the key here is that the president's numbers seem to be in something close to free-fall. His approval ratings have fallen roughly 20 percentage points in four months. And both Reagan and Clinton were on the rebound at the time.

Even with all the context which may be fairly provided (like the fact that the 70+ numbers were part of a post-war spike), the president's rapid descent is undeniable. And it's not clear he's hit bottom.

I'm hearing many conservatives say now that the White House political office is off their game. But I see no real evidence of this. The problem is more fundamental. For quite some time this White House has functioned like a heavily leveraged business, an overextended investor that suddenly gets a margin call. To extend the business metaphor, the White House has been surviving not on profits but expectations of future profits or, in other words, credibility. The White House has been able to get the public to sit tight with a lot of objectively poor news (a poor economy, big deficits, bad news from abroad) on the basis of trust.

But a combination of the manifest incompetence of the planning for post-war Iraq and the dishonesty of the build-up for the war have become increasingly difficult to defend or deny. And that's struck a grave blow against the president's credibility.

Credibility of course is unitary. And the erosion has ricocheted from foreign policy to domestic policy and back again in escalating fashion. Suddenly the White House's explanations for why the country has fallen back into half trillion dollar deficits are ringing hollow.

As we've seen recently, a hollowed-out company can push along for some time so long as no one takes a good look at the books or calls in their loans. But when it happens the fall can be dramatic.

Another take on "Bush haters"
The incomparable Bob Somerby in today's "Daily Howler":

Are today’s “Bush-haters” far, far worse than anything we ever saw with Clinton? The notion is foolish, as York surely knows. But for conservative spinners, it’s getting harder to attack Bush’s critics as unpatriotic. So they’re trying to say something equally pleasing—they’re trying to say that Bush’s critics are kooky, crazy, crackpot, unbalanced. Why, you’d have to be crazy to criticize Bush! That’s the official new RNC spin. Spinners like York churn examples.

Sounds like my kind of guy
This little blurb comes from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (scroll down to the "He wants a Democratic funeral" item):

Actor Tony Randall has a fantasy: When he dies, President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney show up to pay their respects but they're turned away - because his family knows he didn't like them.

Randall, 83, made his remarks to the National Funeral Directors Association.

The only down side to this is that, with Randall being 83, that funeral may be coming much sooner than we would like.

Too good not to link....
Thank you, Big Stupid Tommy....

Roger's Profanisaurus

Gotta concentrate on core competencies
I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who thinks that cell phones that do everything are a waste of money and material. From today's Bill Maher blog:

New Rule: I Don't Need my Cell Phone to Play Video Games or Take Pictures or Double as a Walkie-Talkie--I Just Need it to Work

Why is getting to level four of Tomb Raider no problem but, to have a simple conversation, I have to stand on a hill with one hand on a flagpole? Thanks for all the bells and whistles, but I could communicate better with actual bells and whistles. Let’s not lose sight of the cell phone’s primary purpose: to annoy other people in the restaurant.

France: Friend or Enemy?
Here's a good take on the issue, from Bush, France, and Drunk Driving

A trendy theme among U.S. pundits and inside the Bush administration is that French opposition to the invasion of Iraq has turned France into America’s new enemy.

Click here for printable version

In the run-up to the Iraq invasion, George W. Bush showed his disdain for France by having Air Force One serve French toast as “freedom toast,” while Dick Cheney confronted French Ambassador Jean-David Levitte with the blunt question: “Is France an ally or an adversary of the United States?” [Washington Post, Sept. 23, 2003] New York Times foreign policy columnist Thomas Friedman penned a recent column entitled “Our War With France,” which stated “It’s time we Americans come to terms with something. … France is becoming our enemy.” [NYT, Sept. 18, 2003]

But the more relevant observation about France and other longtime allies that opposed Bush’s decision to invade and occupy Iraq may come from the slogan of the popular anti-drunk-driving commercial: “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.” The key question may not be whether traditional friends have turned into enemies but whether these U.S. friends were right to counsel Bush against a self-destructive action.

Following that analogy, Bush’s putative allies, the likes of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, may have played the role of enablers, the weak-willed friends who lack the courage to stand up to an inebriated pal who is staggering toward the driver’s side of the car. One could argue that France and Germany were giving Bush the kind of realistic advice that could have spared the United States the worsening debacle in Iraq and saved the lives of more than 300 U.S. soldiers.

Still, like the drunk driver who won’t admit that the accident was his fault, Bush continues to slur facts and logic, blaming anyone but himself for the geopolitical pile-up in the desert. Yet, as his excuses and deceptions become more apparent, the disconnect between Bush’s words and reality are also harder to conceal. To walk away from responsibility for the mess he's made, Bush needs even more enablers, especially inside the Washington news media.

Considering that Bush is an alcoholic (maybe a dry one, but remember, once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic), this is a stunningly accurate analysis.

More on hating Bush....
This from Ted Rall:

It's the Stolen Election, Stupid

NEW YORK--"Have the Democrats totally flipped their lids?" asks David Brooks in The Weekly Standard, quasi-official organ of the Bush Administration. "Because every day some Democrat seems to make a manic or totally over-the-top statement about George Bush, the Republican party, and the state of the nation today."

True, Democrats loathe Dubya with greater intensity than any Republican standard-bearer in modern political history. Even the diabolical Richard Nixon--who, after all, created the EPA, went to China and imposed price controls to stop corporate gouging--rates higher in liberal eyes. "It's mystifying," writes Brooks.

Let me explain.

First but not foremost, Bush's detractors despise him viscerally, as a man. Where working-class populists see him as a smug, effeminate frat boy who wouldn't recognize a hard day's work if it kicked him in his self-satisfied ass, intellectuals see a simian-faced idiot unqualified to mow his own lawn, much less lead the free world. Another group, which includes me, is more patronizing than spiteful. I feel sorry for the dude; he looks so pathetic, so out of his depth, out there under the klieg lights, squinting, searching for nouns and verbs, looking like he's been snatched from his bed and beamed in, and is still half asleep, not sure where he is. Each speech looks as if Bush had been beamed from his bed fast asleep. And he's willfully ignorant. On Fox News, Bush admits that he doesn't even read the newspaper: "I glance at the headlines just to kind of [sic] a flavor for what's moving. I rarely read the stories, and get briefed by people who are probably read [sic] the news themselves." All these takes on Bush boil down to the same thing: The guy who holds the launch codes isn't smart enough to know that's he's stupid. And that's scary.

Fear breeds hatred, and Bush's policies create a lot of both. U.S. citizens like Jose Padilla and Yasser Hamdi disappear into the night, never to be heard from again. A concentration camp rises at Guantánamo. Stasi-like spies tap our phones and read our mail; thanks to the ironically-named Patriot Act, these thugs don't even need a warrant. As individual rights are trampled, corporate profits are sacrosanct. An aggressive, expansionist military invades other nations "preemptively" to eliminate the threat of non-existent weapons, and American troops die to enrich a company that buys off the Vice President.

Time to dust off the F word. "Whenever people start locking up enemies because of national security without much legal care, you are coming close [to fascism]," warns Robert Paxton, emeritus professor of history at Columbia University and author of the upcoming book "Fascism in Action." We're supposed to hate fascists--or has that changed because of 9/11?

Bush bashers hate Bush for his personal hypocrisy--the draft-dodger who went AWOL during Vietnam yet sent other young men to die in Afghanistan and Iraq, the philandering cocaine addict who dares to call gays immoral--as well as for his attacks on peace and prosperity. But even that doesn't explain why we hate him so much.

Bush is guilty of a single irredeemable act so heinous and anti-American that Nixon's corruption and Reagan's intellectual inferiority pale by comparison. No matter what he does, Democrats and Republicans who love their country more than their party will never forgive him for it.

Bush stole the presidency.

The United States enjoyed two centuries of uninterrupted democracy before George W. Bush came along. The Brits burned the White House, civil war slaughtered millions and depressions brought economic chaos, yet presidential elections always took place on schedule and the winners always took office. Bush ended all that, suing to stop a ballot count that subsequent newspaper recounts proved he had lost. He had his GOP-run Supreme Court, a federal institution, rule extrajurisdictionally on the disputed election, a matter that under our system of laws falls to the states. Bush's recount guru, James Baker, went on national TV to threaten to use force to install him as president if Gore didn't step aside: "If we keep being put in the position of having to respond to recount after recount after recount of the same ballots, then we just can't sit on our hands, and we will be forced to do what might be in our best personal interest--but not--it would not be in the best interest of our wonderful country."

Bush isn't president, but he plays one on TV. His presence in the White House is an affront to everything that this country stands for. His fake presidency is treasonous; our passive tolerance for it sad testimony to post-9/11 cowardice. As I wrote in December 2000, "George W. Bush is not the President of the United States of America." And millions of Americans agree.

Two months after 9/11, when Bush's job approval rating was soaring at 89 percent, 47 percent of Americans told a Gallup poll that he had not won the presidency legitimately. "The election controversy...could make a comeback if Bush's approval ratings were to fall significantly," predicted Byron York in The National Review. Two years later, 3 million jobs are gone, Bush's wars have gone sour, and just 50 percent of voters approve of his performance. If York is correct, most Americans now consider Bush to be no more legitimate than Saddam Hussein, who also came to power in a coup d'état.

And that's why we hate him.

From Ed Foster's GripeLog
From Ed's update email. The subject is a Microsoft plan to develop a system to make their product updates mandatory:

My favorite comment though was from a reader who imagined how security initiatives like Microsoft's might be applied in other businesses: "Yes, sir, you bought and paid for that automobile, but you only licensed the engine management system (EMS) software. Due to unfounded reports in the press -- which violate the EUDA (End User Driver Agreement) for publishing test results not sanctioned by our company -- that these engines will self destruct when driven over 50 mph, we have re-certified the upper speed limit for your vehicle to 49 mph. As per the EUDA you agreed to the first time you started your car, for your safety and the safety of others using the same roads you do, we require you to bring your car into our service location to allow your EMS to be updated so that it can restrict the top speed of your vehicle to conform with the new specifications. This servicing will take between 4 hours (if you live along the interstate) to 4 days (for rural locations) to perform, at which time you will be without the use of your vehicle (and as per the EUDA we are not required to provide you with a loaner). Please note that EMS in your vehicle will be remotely disabled if you do not have this update installed prior to the expiration of the product life cycle for your vehicle, which may have changed since when you purchased it."

Thought for the Day:
How can I help being a humbug when so many people want me to do what they know can't possibly be done?
--The Wizard of Oz, to Dorothy

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Interesting contemplation
Anthony Rickey over at Three Years of Hell to Become the Devil posted a most interesting reflection on Legal Depression (not, he most emphatically noted, his own), on the fact that there aren't that many lawyers who are very happy or are satisfied with their careers. Generating some interesting comments in the comment section. What I did find very interesting was a reference to Patrick Schlitz's Vanderbilt Law Review article On Being a Happy, Healthy, and Ethical Member of an Unhappy, Unhealthy, and Unethical Profession (this is a link to a .pdf file; Adobe Acrobat reader required).

Schlitz's article seems to me on first reading to be a pretty good one; his thesis seems to me to be (oversimplified, perhaps unfairly), that the root cause of attorney unhappiness appears to be overwork. And why are attorneys overworked? Well, basically because attorneys are competitive people in a competitive profession, because time is (for attorneys, literally--attorneys sell their time, basically) money, and because money (as in how much do I make?) is the universal scoring system for the legal profession. (I know; you can argue that money is the universal scoring system for life, period, but that represents a view of life that I never bought into, myself.) Well, to be more accurate, the universal scoring system for the big firm segment of the profession, however, Schlitz points out, due to certain social pressures the value systems of big firm practice are being pretty well universalized into the value system of the entire profession.

Schlitz is pretty good at diagnosing the malady, I think; I wish I were more sanguine about his prescribed cure, which is basically to not buy into the big firm value system, and trade money for more free time and a saner lifestyle. I'm not sure that this is going to be the panacea that Schlitz thinks it is. Money isn't the issue; basically I think it's the competitive nature of the legal profession--remember that under Schlitz's analysis money isn't really a good in itself, but is made valuable because it's the scoring system. If you make more money than me, that means you're a better attorney, and you've won the law game (or at least you're winning it relative to me, who is losing it).

All I can say is that this analysis, that it's the competitive nature of the profession that is the root problem, comports with my own experience. I didn't opt into the big firm lifestyle; I went from law school into the Navy JAG Corps, followed that with a small (15 lawyer or so) St. Louis firm, moved to the St. Louis Public Defender's office, into another small-medium (about 16-20 lawyers) Clayton firm, and then finished my legal career as the Legal Counsel to the Juvenile Officer of St. Charles County, Missouri. None of these options paid tremendously well, compared to big firm practice (in descending order the Juvenile Court paid the best, followed by the the JAG Corps, the Clayton firm, the St. Louis firm, and then the Public Defender last), but none of them required the intense investment in time that a big firm would have; I had time to have a private life and a few hobbies, but I was still miserable. The misery, I think, was largely because lawyers were such damn unpleasant persons to associate with; very little "professional courtesy", very little honesty in their dealings with other lawyers, very little honesty in their dealings with clients, witnesses, or other outsiders. In two words: it sucked. (The fact that I never was very much interested in the law as a subject matter probably had a lot to do with it too; the subject never caught my interest in law school--probably a very bad sign to begin with--and it bored the living hell out of me when I was in practice.)

Then again, I may be biased because that was my particular personality quirk; I'm very sure that I should never have gone to law school, and I was probably very poorly suited for it. Can I generalize that to the rest of the profession? Probably not, but in my experience I'm not that unique.....

And from a random BartCop reader:
Condi knows irony

I just read this AP story and fell on my butt laughing...

"France and Germany have been pushing for a much quicker handover to Iraqis as well as for a larger role for the U-N itself.

Condi Rice is criticizing any plans to rush the transfer of power, saying it has to come in "an orderly process." Rice says the French plan would transfer power to what she calls "an unelected group of people." She says that just wouldn't work."

Well, I guess she would know!!

Andy P

From Jay Leno, via BartCop:
So, Wesley Clark is running for president. Pretty amazing guy. Four star general, first in his class at West Point, supreme commander of NATO, saw combat in Vietnam, won the bronze star, silver star, the purple heart for being wounded in battle. See, I'm no political expert, but that sounds pretty good next to choking on a pretzel, falling off a scooter and dropping the dog.

We can only get the truth from news orgs outside the US
From the BBC: No weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, says Bush misAdministration spokesperson.

Quoth the Beeb: No weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq by the group looking for them, according to a Bush administration source who has spoken to the BBC.

This will be the conclusion of the Iraq Survey Group's interim report, the source told the presenter of BBC television's Daily Politics show, Andrew Neil.

Counters the wingnut: "Saddam sent them to Syria."

Refutes the Beeb: Mr Neil said the draft report - which the source said is due to be published next month - concludes that it is highly unlikely that weapons of mass destruction were shipped out of the country to places like Syria before the US-led war on Iraq.

Apparently Neil does say that the survey group report will point to some evidence that Iraq was attempting to develop a WMD program, but that's far, far removed from the "strike within 45 minutes" claim that Chimpy and Blair used as a justification for the war. On the contrary:

Mr Neil said that according to the source, the report will say its inspectors have not even unearthed "minute amounts of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons material".

They have also not uncovered any laboratories involved in deploying weapons of mass destruction and no delivery systems for the weapons.

Music to my ears...

George W. Bush is in the worst political trouble of his presidency, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Wednesday night. Bush’s approval rating now stands at 49 percent, the lowest point of his tenure. Whether Democrats will be able to exploit Bush’s woes is unknown, since they are four months away from their first primary, but party activists say they are ever more determined to find the candidate who can go toe to toe with Bush in a debate and reduce his standing to political rubble.

Poppy and Skippy, this country's only father-son one term Presidents.

I rather like the sound of that.

Another reason to be glad I don't work for St. Charles Juvenile Court anymore
According to this story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 7 sophomore boys at Fort Zumwalt South High School managed to videotape and photograph two girls in what was once charmingly called "a compromising position". From the article:

Kuppler [spokesman for the St. Peters, Missouri, Police Department--LRC] said the incident started when the two girls decided they were going to get together to experiment sexually and "word got out." Five boys came over to one of the girls' homes in St. Peters and wanted to videotape the encounter.

The tape shows the girls kissing, Kuppler said. The group then went to the wooded area, where one of the girls took off her clothes and posed for the camera in various positions, he said.

The next day, one of the boys asked his friends to come to his home, and the taping resumed in his bedroom. This time the tape shows the girl not only posing nude, but also letting two of the boys touch her genitals.

Police say the girl originally told them that she was coerced into participating in the sex act, but a review of the tape indicated she was a willing participant. The tape is less than 10 minutes long, Kuppler said.

About 10 days later, one of the boys started showing the picture around school, and two students reported it to the school resource officer. He contacted the administration, and police began an investigation, Kuppler said.

An absolutely wonderful tribute to Mike Shannon
graces the pages of Redbird Nation. I have to confess a special fondness for the Moonman--my mom attended grade school with him way back when--but he's as much a St. Louis institution as Jack Buck and the Cardinals themselves.

I'm going to violate copyright again....
Because when Molly Ivins speaks, people should listen, and I'm going to do my little bit to help:

Fear and loathing in America
Novak and Krauthammer get it wrong -- it's not about hate, it's about bad policy

AUSTIN, Texas -- Among the more amusing cluckings from the right lately is their appalled discovery that quite a few Americans actually think George W. Bush is a terrible president.

Robert Novak is quoted as saying in all his 44 years of covering politics, he has never seen anything like the detestation of Bush. Charles Krauthammer managed to write an entire essay on the topic of "Bush haters" in Time magazine, as though he had never before come across such a phenomenon.

Oh, I stretch memory way back, so far back, all the way back to -- our last president. Almost lost in the mists of time though it is, I not only remember eight years of relentless attacks from Clinton-haters, I also notice they haven't let up yet. Clinton-haters accused the man of murder, rape, drug-running, sexual harassment, financial chicanery and official misconduct, and his wife of even worse.

For eight long years, this country was a zoo of Clinton-haters. Any idiot with a big mouth and a conspiracy theory could get a hearing on radio talk shows, "Christian" broadcasts and nutty Internet sites. People with transparent motives, people paid by tabloid magazines, people with known mental problems, ancient Clinton enemies with notoriously racist pasts -- all were given hearings, credence and air time. Sliming Clinton was a sure road to fame and fortune on the right, and many an ambitious young right-wing hitman -- like David Brock, who has since made full confession -- took that golden opportunity.

After all this time and all those millions of dollars wasted, no one has ever proved that the Clintons did a single thing wrong. Bill Clinton lied about a pathetic, squalid affair that was none of anyone else's business anyway, and for that they impeached the man and dragged this country through more than year of the most tawdry, ridiculous, unnecessary pain.

"The puzzle is where this depth of feeling comes from," mused the ineffable Krauthammer. "Whence the anger? It begins of course with the 'stolen' election of 2000 and the perception of Bush's illegitimacy." I'd say so myself, yes, it would. I was in Florida during that chilling post-election fight and am fully persuaded to this good day that Al Gore actually won Florida, not to mention getting 550,000 more votes than Bush overall.

The night Gore conceded the race in one of the most graceful and honorable speeches I have ever heard, I was in a ballroom full of Republican Party flacks who booed and jeered through every word of it. One thing I acknowledge about the right is that they're much better haters than liberals are. Your basic liberal is pretty much a strikeout on the hatred front. Maybe further out on the left you can hit some good righteous anger, but liberals, and I am one, are generally real wusses.

To tell the truth, I'm kind of proud of us for holding the grudge this long. Normally, we'd remind ourselves that we have to be good sports, it's for the good of the country, we must unite behind the only president we've got, as Lyndon used to remind us. If there are still some of us out here sulking, "Yeah, but they stole that election," well good. I don't think we should forget that.

But, onward. So George Dubya becomes president having run as a "compassionate conservative," and what do we get? Hell's own conservative and zilch for compassion. His entire first eight months was tax cuts for the rich, tax cuts for the rich, tax cuts for the rich. Then came 9-11, and we all rallied. Country under attack, most horrible thing, what can we do? Ready to give blood, get out of our cars and ride bicycles, whatever. Shop, said the president. And more tax cuts for the rich.

By now, we're starting to notice Bush's bait-and-switch con. Make a deal with Ted Kennedy to improve education, and then fail to put any money into it. Promise $15 billion in new money to combat AIDS in Africa (wow), but it turns out to be a cheap con -- no new money. Bush comes to praise a job-training effort, then cuts the money. Bush says AmeriCorps is great, then cuts the money. Gee, what could we possibly have against this guy?

Then suddenly, in the greatest bait and switch of all time, Osama bin Laden doesn't matter at all, and we have to go after Saddam Hussein, who had nothing to do with 9-11. But he does have horrible weapons of mass destruction. So we take out Saddam Hussein, and there are no weapons of mass destruction. Furthermore, the Iraqis are not overjoyed to see us. By now, quite a few people who aren't even liberal are starting to say, "Wha' the hey?"

We got no Osama, we got no Saddam, we got no weapons of mass destruction, the road map to peace in the Middle East is blown to hell, we're stuck in this country for $87 billion just for one year, and no one knows how long we'll be there. And still poor Krauthammer is hard-put to conceive how anyone could conclude that George W. Bush is a poor excuse for a president.

It is not necessary to hate George W. Bush to think he's a bad president. Grown-ups can do that, you know -- decide someone's policies are a miserable failure without lying awake at night consumed with hatred. Poor Bush is in way over his head, and the country is in bad shape because of his stupid economic policies. If that make me a Bush-hater, then sign me up.

I have been most derelict....
in my duty to provide the latest SCO vs. Linux coverage. This just in (well, just in this morning, from La Reg): HPaq to indemnify their Linux users. Tony Steidler-Dennison remarked favorably on this story on his blog, speculating that it's an indication that HPaq's lawyers have examined SCO's claims closely and found them wanting....

Good news for us penguinistas, to be sure.

UN to Bush: Eat shit and die!
Well, not quite, but I was pleased to read that the UN isn't going to roll over and give Bush everything he wants. From the WaPo:

President Bush's appeal for greater financial and military support for the reconstruction of Iraq failed to elicit fresh pledges today as members of the United Nations demanded that the United States yield greater power to the U.N. and the Iraqis.

The cool reaction to Bush's address by delegates at the opening of the U.N. General Assembly's general debate reflected concern at the United Nations that a larger military force in Iraq will not enhance security in the country unless authority also is transferred to a transitional Iraqi authority with real power.

Representatives from Brazil to South Africa used the General Assembly podium to underscore the limits of U.S. military action in resolving the dispute in Iraq and elsewhere. They said the obstacles faced by U.S. forces in Iraq prove the need for a greater U.N. role.

"Let us not place greater trust on military might than on the institutions we created with the light of reason and the vision of history," President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil said in a speech to the 191-member body moments before Bush delivered his remarks. "A war can perhaps be won single-handedly, but peace, lasting peace, cannot be secured without the support of all."


The debate over Iraq in the General Assembly today revealed a deeper unease over the United States' increasing use of force to defend its national interests. "Naturally, the powerful will set the agenda for all residents of the global village," South African President Thabo Mbeki said. "Because we are poor, we are partisan activists for a strong, effective and popularly accepted United Nations."

Delegates welcomed Bush's decision to launch new negotiations on a resolution that would assign the United Nations a specific role in helping to write an Iraqi constitution, training an Iraqi civil service and preparing for free elections. But they said the president's proposal does not go far enough.

French President Jacques Chirac continued to seek support for an amendment to the U.S. draft resolution that would endorse the transfer of power to an Iraqi transitional government within 90 days.

Bush and his top foreign policy team -- who filed out of the General Assembly hall shortly before Chirac delivered his speech -- favor the establishment of a constitutional process and elections before sovereignty can be handed to the Iraqis.

The French position has gained broader acceptance in recent days. The temporary president of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, Ahmed Chalabi, and Annan indicated that the United States must accelerate the handover of power to the Iraqis.

I wonder if Chalabi is deluding himself into thinking that the UN will turn over power to him.

More on this story from the UK's Independent (isn't it a pity you have to go outside the US to get real news instead of US government approved propaganda?): Bush's plea for UN help in Iraq sparks hostile response

President George Bush was accused at the United Nations yesterday of undermining the system of multilateral security by going to war in Iraq without authorisation from the Security Council.

The criticism was led by the French President, Jacques Chirac, who used the annual General Assembly of the UN, the first time world leaders had gathered in New York since the invasion of Iraq, to blame Mr Bush for the crisis of confidence facing the world body. By extension his criticism was also directed at Tony Blair, who did not attend.

"The war, launched without the authorisation of the Security Council, shook the multilateral system," M. Chirac said. "The UN has just been through one of the most grave crises in its history."

M. Chirac's sentiments were echoed by Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, who warned that pre-emptive unilateral military action without the authorisation of the UN risked a move to the law of the jungle.

"My concern is that it could set precedents resulting in a proliferation of the unilateral and lawless use of force, with or without credible justification," Mr Annan told the assembly to sustained applause. He did not mention the United States by name. As a result of the Iraqi crisis, the UN, he said, was at a "fork in the road".

Mr Bush, for his part, defended the war without apology, despite the continuing violence in the country and absence of any evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

Indeed Mr Bush raised the issue of the weapons once again: "The regime of Saddam Hussein cultivated ties to terror while it built weapons of mass destruction. It used those weapons in acts of mass murder, and refused to account for them when confronted by the world."

Face it George: they hate you. They really hate you. Do us all a favor and go FOAD.

And from Daniel Gross
Comes an interesting suggestion: Don't jail corrupt CEO's, let shareholders sue their pants off.

Gross cites some research by Ivy League economists--Dartmouth's Rafael La Porta, Yale's Florencio Lopez De Silanes, and Harvard's Andrei Shleifer--that suggests that markets work better when the government concentrates less on prosecution, and more on providing disclosure about corporate shenanigans and eases the strictures on shareholder suits. For those of you interested, you can read the abstract of their study here (there's also a link there to allow you to download a complete copy of their paper; don't know if you have to pay for that or not).

Frankly, I'd like to have it both ways; the government should both prosecute and make it possible for shareholders to sue to make these bastards cough up their ill-gotten gains. I really don't care what makes the markets work best; there's an issue of making sure that we teach a very important lesson, namely that despite the belief of President Chimpy and his puppetmeisters otherwise, you're never too rich to become Bubba's prison bitch.

Frankly, the thought of Ken Lay being anally raped by some big, burly convict is quite satisfying.....

But absent some movement on that front, facilitating civil lawsuits against these thieves is better than nothing. One of the most scandalous parts of this whole fiasco is expressed well by Gross:

Samuel Waksal has gone to jail, Martha Stewart has been indicted, and several of the smaller fry in the Enron case have copped pleas. But the corporate scandals' big fish—Enron's Jeffrey Skilling, WorldCom's Bernard Ebbers, Tyco's Dennis Kozlowski—are still swimming free and still enjoying their millions in ill-gotten gains. [my emphasis--LRC]

Two days ago...
I blogged that somebody was getting the message. According to Fred Kaplan in Slate, obviously it isn't President Codpiece:

Has an American president ever delivered such a bafflingly impertinent speech before the General Assembly as the one George W. Bush gave this morning?

Here were the world's foreign ministers and heads of state, anxiously awaiting some sign of an American concession to realism—even the sketchiest outline of a plan to share not just the burden but the power of postwar occupation in Iraq. And Bush gave them nothing, in some ways less than nothing.

In the few seconds he devoted to that subject, he cited only three areas in which the role of the United Nations (or any other nations) should be expanded: writing an Iraqi constitution, training a new corps of civil servants, and supervising elections. None of these notions is new.

Otherwise, Bush's message can be summarized as follows: The U.S.-led occupation authority is doing good work in Iraq; you should come help us; if you don't, you're on the side of the terrorists.

The speech seemed cobbled from the catchphrases of last year's playbook, as if Bush were trying to replicate the success of his previous appearance before the General Assembly—his September 2002 speech, which roused the Security Council to warn Saddam Hussein of "serious consequences"—without showing the slightest recognition that the old words have grown stale and sour.

Bush dredged out the familiar formula—weapons of mass destruction plus terrorism equals the enemy in Iraq—forgetting, or perhaps not caring, that it didn't persuade the United Nations back in November, when Saddam was still in power, and couldn't hope to win backers now.

He described the guerrilla war, still ongoing, as a battle against "terrorists and holdouts of the previous regime"—ignoring a recent finding of the U.S. intelligence community that the main, and most rapidly growing, threat these days comes from ordinary Iraqis, resentful of the occupation.

He laid out the context of the battle as a contest between "those who work for peaceful change and those who adopt the methods of gangsters." Yet it is hard to see how Bush's pre-emptive-war doctrine fits the former category, and it's painful to observe that many Iraqis would say the U.S. occupation—whose soldiers have pounded down so many doors in the middle of the night—fits the latter.

He acknowledged no mistakes, either in the intelligence that preceded the war or in the planning (or lack thereof) that followed it.

He did acknowledge that "some of the sovereign nations of this assembly disagreed" with his decision to go to war, but added that it is time to move on. "Every young democracy needs the help of friends," he said. "All nations of goodwill should step forward and provide that support."

He painted the United States as following the true principles of the U.N. charter, which call on all nations to "stand with the people of Afghanistan and Iraq," as they build freedom. As for a timetable for turning over power, he said only that the process should be "neither hurried nor delayed."

"The United States of America is committed to the U.N.," Bush added, "by giving meaning to its ideals"—but not, apparently, by sharing authority with its constituents.

The more I observe Bush in action, the more I am struck by what seems to be the man's two most ingrained character traits:

1) He doesn't want to take the time or effort to learn anything new (according to a psychologist friend on a mailing list I'm subscribed to, Bush is the most stunningly incurious man ever to occupy the Oval Office in recent memory).

2) He doesn't seem able to admit that he's made some very bad mistakes. Or as Fred Kaplan put it in another Slate column: he'd rather appear to be omniscient then to appear to be honest; the pity being that at least appearing to be honest is within his power.

Kaplan's close strikes me as most depressing, however:

One section of Bush's speech is worth very serious note. "Success of a free Iraq," he said, "will be watched and noted throughout the region." A free and democratic Iraq would provide a shining example that could transform the Middle East, and "a transformed Middle East would benefit the entire world."

Bush is absolutely right on this point, which is why he needs to get over his hang-ups about France, the Security Council, and the diplomatic disasters of last November, and to get serious about working out a common solution to the much bigger disaster that looms in Iraq. His speech could, and should, have signaled a new opening. Instead, it seemed to close off every option.

Thought for the Day:
Here is a dirty little secret in two parts. First, data files that can be compromised are most often compromised by criminals called "employees." Sometimes, they just take data home as did Department of Energy scientist Wen Ho Lee, who went to jail, or former CIA director John Deutch, who didn't go to jail. Second, look at the folks who are getting caught stealing secrets. They aren't Rush Limbaugh "liberals" who are arrested as spies. They're right wing conservatives who all passed the security checks. As a result, too often we have the inmates guarding the asylum.
--Robert X. "The Real Bob" Cringely []

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Brilliant analysis by Bill Maher
From the Bill Maher blog:

No Teen Politics

According to a new study, teenagers aren’t interested in politics because the schools aren’t teaching civics anymore. “Poppycock,” I say, pounding the desk like a cranky senior citizen. Teenagers have never cared about politics – and they shouldn’t, because the whole point of being a teenager is that the only thing you care about is being a teenager. Put another way, teens don’t care about politics because
politics won’t get them laid. Of course, this doesn’t apply to the student council types, who have already given up all hope of sex and therefore are free to turn their attention to other things. (Right, Tucker Carlson?) But for your average binge-drinking, music-downloading mall rat, Howard Dean is just another old guy who thinks he’s hip because he likes Wyclef.

Fascinating graph.....
showing Bush's poll numbers graphed over time. Note how his numbers were hanging around 55% or so, then spiked just after 9/11/01. They then steadily plunge to about 55% or so, spike with the start of the Iraq war, then plunge steadily to Bush's current 50% or so.....

A criminal who thinks for a change...
Randy Cassingham, in this week's This is True newsletter tells the story of a female purse-snatcher who, after snatching the purse, turned to the witnesses and flashed her breasts at them. Randy hit the obvious tagline: "Well, did you notice that none of the witnesses could describe her face?", but if you think about things, you realize that this is most likely exactly the ploy here--by performing such an unusual act, she definitely drew attention away from her face. What strikes me as a stroke of brilliance about it though, is that the distraction isn't just the obvious sexual aspect--of course male viewers would ogle her breasts to the exclusion of her face--but even female witnesses would be distracted by how bizzare the thief behaved.

And from InfoWeek's Bob Evans we get this...
under the heading, "Tech takes strange turns". Not all that long ago someone (I forget who, so sue me), wrote an article in the Harvard Business Review with the provocative title, "IT Doesn't Matter", suggesting (Doh!) that information technology investments are less critical than we've been led to believe. Quoth Bob:

Not since Columbus landed in America has anyone reaped such rewards for being so wrong: The guy who penned the misguided "IT Doesn't Matter" piece earlier this year for the Harvard Business Review is now extending his fantasy into an entire book. (Note to self: After it comes out, monitor closely to see which section it's placed in--fiction or nonfiction.) This is the undoubtedly intelligent and persuasive but still off-the-mark guy over whom BusinessWeek recently fawned, offering up an extensive overview of his mythical musings and in effect saying he's the one person brave enough to tell the emperor that he's naked as the day he was born. Apparently, the author's sticking by his hypothesis and is tilting it even more bizarrely away from hardware infrastructure and toward the realm of software. Yes, software. You know, that stuff in which data and information and knowledge and processes and applications and community reside; that commodity stuff that does not matter. Which makes me wonder why Nicholas Carr would write a whole book about something that doesn't matter--if you write a book about something that doesn't matter, does the book matter? But I'm probably just jealous and simply don't understand.

The Chimp in the Bubble....
From Whiskey Bar (though a number of other voices in the blogosphere have picked up on this one too):

Bush said he insulates himself from the "opinions" that seep into news coverage by getting his news from his own aides. He said he scans headlines, but rarely reads news stories...

"... the best way to get the news is from objective sources, and the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what's happening in the world."

Emperor: Is my new suit not lovely?
Courtier: Yes, my Lord, and the people think so, too!

It's banned books week again....
So time to celebrate our freedom to read. But as this article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch shows, St. Louisans have to get crazy about it:

Nationwide, most objections center on sexually explicit content. Marjamaa [director of the St. Louis County Public Library bookmobile program--LRC] said the most common objections she hears locally have to do with witches or topics viewed as satanic

From the Newly Revised Standard Version:
(Stolen from a random .sig quote on the ERRANCY mailing list:

Psalm 2003
Bush is my shepherd, I shall be in want.
He leadeth me beside the still factories,
He maketh me to lie down on park benches,
He restoreth my doubts about the Republican party,
He guideth me onto the paths of unemployment for the party's sake.
I do fear the evildoers, for thou talkst about them constantly.
Thy tax cuts for the rich and thy deficit spending
They do discomfort me.
Thou anointeth me with never-ending debt,
And my savings and assets shall soon be gone.
Surely poverty and hard living shall follow me,
And my jobless children shall dwell in my basement forever.

Thought for the Day:
The English were the first atheists. Other peoples around the world were worshipping the sun god, and here in England we doubted the existence of the sun.
--Steven Carr, on the English weather

Monday, September 22, 2003

From Joe Bob Briggs's "Week in Review" email:
Donald Rumsfeld, while touring Afghanistan and Iraq, told reporters that news reports in the Middle East, especially on Al Jazeera, are making it difficult to win the war on terrorism. He said that some foreign news networks report the remarks of American senators opposed to the war, as well as documentaries on past situations in which Americans withdrew from battle after taking a blow--in Somalia, Lebanon, Haiti, etc. This makes it easier to raise money for terrorist organizations. Summing up all his remarks: those darn Middle Easterners have TV sets, too!

And tonight, on "Stargate SG-1"...
they are showing "The Warrior", a pretty good episode where they're making some good points about charismatic religous leadership inspiring suicide warrior types. If only some of us learned that lesson.....

More proof that CEO compensation has no relation to performance.
Over at Rush Limbaughtomy we get this depressing report:

CEOs at companies with the largest layoffs, most underfunded pensions and biggest tax breaks were rewarded with bigger paychecks, according to a new report, “Executive Excess 2003: CEOs Win, Workers and Taxpayers Lose.”

Median CEO pay skyrocketed 44 percent from 2001 to 2002 at the 50 companies with the most announced layoffs in 2001, while overall CEO pay rose only 6 percent. These layoff leaders had median compensation of $5.1 million in 2002, compared with $3.7 million at the 365 large corporations surveyed by Business Week.

At the 30 companies with the greatest shortfall in their employees’ pension funds, CEOs made 59 percent more than the median CEO in Business Week's survey. The General Accounting Office has labeled the Pension Benefits Guaranty Corporation, the federal agency that insures the nation’s private pensions, “high risk.” Meanwhile, many companies are protecting executives with guaranteed golden retirement packages.

From Big Stupid Tommy today:
And as a dog owner, I can just imagine this....

You haven't seen a rock and a hard place until you've seen a pug who really has to take a crap, but doesn't like to go out into the rain. He would look at the rain, then he would look at his ass. As pensively as possible.

More sterling good sense...
from the Texas who should be in the White House instead of the chimp-faced twit. This from Molly Ivins in Working for Change:

If you will recall just three short years ago, this country was a going operation. Eight years of peace, prosperity and the busy, busy Republican scandal machine trying to convince us it was all an illusion.

Since then, we've started two wars, still don't have Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein and have spent millions on people who make us take off our shoes at the airport, and we are still as vulnerable to terrorist attack as ever. The Republican response on that is their favorite ploy, "Blame Bill Clinton," but the record shows that the Clinton administration was a lot more active in going after Al Qaeda than the Bush administration before Sept. 11.

Perhaps you have noticed, the only terrorists we have actually rounded up have all been caught through police operations, often with the cooperation of the Pakistanis, the French, the Spanish, even the Saudis, sometimes. Bombing two countries doesn't seem to have done anything to Al Qaeda except reinforce and reinvigorate it. A connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda at last! They moved in after we got rid of Saddam Hussein.

Meanwhile, the economy is in the toilet; even the optimists who think it will recover are predicting a "jobless recovery." Won't that be nice -- we can certainly look forward to whatever that is. And when we get our "jobless recovery," the government's in the hole for $500 billion this year and most of the upscale Bush tax cuts haven't even kicked in yet. As we march bravely toward oceans of red ink (leaving behind no problem for future presidents or future generations), we also face a looming crisis in Social Security.

Oh wow! Pretty good news, especially if it's a trend....
According to Daily Kos, The Gallup Poll has Bush's approval numbers at 50%; a nine point drop in the past three weeks!

The Gallup poll has always been friendly to Bush. Nothing ideological or nefarious. But whatever methodology they used always gave Bush some of his highest numbers amongst the various polling outfits.

So it's amazing to see a 9-point drop in Bush's approval numbers over the past three weeks. That's no typo. The floor is collapsing under the Bush presidency.

A most excellent webpage....
On the longest standing misconception in the history of the conflict between proponents of creationism and proponents of evolution. From the page:

In recent reading of Dembski and other ID proponents I saw them make a claim which has been made for over 40 years. This claim is one that the young-earthers have been making. The claim is that the theory of evolution (or major supporting concepts for it) is increasingly being abandoned by scientists, or is about to fall. This claim has many forms and has been made for over 178 years. This is a compilation of the claims over time. The purpose of this compilation is two-fold. First, it is to show that the claim has been made for a long, long time. Secondly, it is to show that entire careers have passed without seeing any of this movement away from evolution. Third, it is to show that the creationists are merely making these statements for the purpose of keeping hope alive that they are making progress towards their goal. In point of fact, no such progress is being made as anyone who has watched this area for the last 40 years can testify. The claim is false as history and present-day events show, yet that doesn't stop anyone wanting to sell books from making that claim. Now for the claims in chronological order.

The entire page is well worth a read, though. Go read it now.

Richard Dawkins goes on the warpath...
In this essay in Wired, Richard Dawkins fires another shot in the skirmish over using the term "bright" as a new synonym for us godless heathens. Quoth Dawkins:

How is a meme created? You can sit back and observe the spread of a new fashion, a new slang word, a new way of walking or talking - and let a meme burst onto the scene in its own good time. An example would be the current epidemic of "basically", which, as a synonym for "er", has infected a ludicrously high proportion of sentences now uttered by English speakers. But the ultimate test in science is experiment: You don't just wait for something to happen and observe it, you make it happen.

I don't know whether gay - meaning homosexual - just happened, or whether it was launched. Either way, it has been a successful meme. The new definition is in the dictionary, and it is used more or less universally by heterosexuals. Did some syndicate deliberately release gay into the memosphere? Or did it spring up spontaneously, then take off as a brush fire? I don't know how, or when, gay got its start, but 2003 is seeing the deliberate launch of a new meme. It is "bright", and we are at its birth. The bright meme is intentionally imitating gay's provenance in the explicit hope of copying its success.

The gay meme improved the image and, I dare add, the happiness of a once unpopular minority. Similarly, bright is intended to come to the aid of another beleaguered community in the US: those who, in the most religiose country in the Western world, have no religion, who are variously labeled atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, philosophical naturalists, secularists, or humanists. A Gallup poll in 1999 asked American voters the following question: "If your party nominated a generally well-qualified person for president who happened to be an X would you vote for that person?" X took on the following values: Catholic, Jew, Baptist, Mormon, black, homosexual, woman, atheist. Six out of the eight categories secured better than 90 percent approval. But only 59 percent would vote for a homosexual, and just 49 percent would vote for an atheist. Bear in mind that there are 29 million Americans who describe themselves as nonreligious, secular, atheist, or agnostic, outnumbering Jews tenfold and all other religions except Christianity by an even larger margin.

The same questions had been asked by Gallup in 1978, and there are revealing differences. In 1978, only 26 percent of the American electorate would contemplate voting for a homosexual. Is it possible that the word gay, and the gay pride movement that came with it, has been partly responsible for the improvement to 59 percent by 1999? If so, all the more reason for the despised 29 million to seek their own "gay."

I am a bright. You are (quite probably) a bright. Most of the people I know are brights. The majority of scientists are brights. Presumably there are lots of closet brights in Congress, but they dare not come out. Notice from these examples that the word is a noun, not an adjective. We brights are not claiming to be bright (meaning clever, intelligent), any more than gays claim to be gay (meaning joyful, carefree). Whether there is a statistical tendency for brights (noun) to be bright (adjective) is a matter for research. I would dearly like to see such research undertaken, and I know the result I am betting on, but it is no part of the definition of the noun.

The noun "bright" was coined in March by Paul Geisert and Mynga Futrell of Sacramento, California. In April, I heard them give a presentation on the new word in Florida, and they launched soon after. The new meme was almost immediately given a boost by two enthusiastic articles in large-circulation newspapers. On June 21, I wrote "the future looks bright" for the Guardian, one of Britain's leading national dailies. And on July 12, the distinguished philosopher Daniel Dennett followed up with "the bright stuff" for The New York Times op-ed page.

So, the bright meme is launched. Will it spread, like gay, and basically, and the backward baseball cap? Or will it nose-dive into the sand? I'm hoping it will take off. I'm even betting that it will, despite the hostility of those who misunderstand the humble noun as an arrogant adjective, and those who, notwithstanding the success of gay, resent all such coinings out of hand. But mostly, I am simply curious, as a disinterested scientist, to see what will happen.

I hate to disagree with such an eminent "bright", but I'll wager that the meme will nosedive into the sand. At best. There are a couple problems with the project here.

First, the "gay meme" wasn't a deliberate coinage. Dawkins should do some basic etymological research. A simple search at The Straight Dope website would come up with a Cecil Adams classic, "How did 'gay' come to mean 'homosexual'?", in which Unca Cecil sets us ignorant breeders straight:

Hate to tell you this, Tom, but the "good-natured word 'gay'" has been leading a double life. Although many people believe "gay" simply meant lighthearted or cheerful until it was shanghaied by the preverts, the truth is the word has long had a secondary connotation of sexual licentiousness. As early as 1637 the Oxford English Dictionary gives one meaning as "addicted to social pleasures and dissipations. Often euphemistically: Of loose and immoral life"--whence, presumably, the term "gay blade." In the 1800s the term was used to refer to female prostitutes; to "gay it" meant "to copulate."

By 1935 the word "geycat," meaning a homosexual boy, had found its way into print, giving a clue as to the direction things were starting to go. Sure enough, by 1955 "gay" had acquired its present meaning, as P. Wildeblood notes in
Against Law: "Most of the officers had been "gay' ... an American euphemism for homosexual." Actually, gays had probably been using the term among themselves long before.

Related to this, while I can't point to any evidence to support this, my instinct is that a meme isn't something you can deliberately create and push into the collective consciousness. That suggests to me that the attempt is doomed from the start. But, as Dawkins says (and my boss, a pharmaceutical scientist by profession, says it all the time, too), "I'm a scientist, dammit, and I'm going to experiment!" (well, maybe not exactly in those words). I'll be interested in seeing the results, and I could be wrong; Dawkins, after all, has more brains in his left little toe than I have in my whole body.

Second, even though Dawkins disclaims the motivation that "bright" is playing on the sense of "bright" as "intelligent", the fact of the matter is that religionists are still going to think that the brights are putting on airs, and affecting a superiority complex of sorts. Most likely the term is going to put off a lot more people than it attracts. But then again, I'm biased: I'm put off by "bright", and I'm one of the folks the "meme" is targeted at.

Forgive me if I'm less than cartwheel-springing enthused.

If you need a special class to "learn" this....
you have a lot more problems than the class would help you with, I think....

According to this article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a student at the gun safety course mandated under Missouri's new carry concealed law found it most enlightening:

Toohey and some classmates said the liability lessons were extremely valuable.

"I learned that you can't pull a gun on someone just because you feel threatened," Toohey said.

Jesus H. Tap-dancing Christ!!!! If this comes as a revelation to this bozo, the peacable citizens of the Great State of Missouri are in deep kimchee.

A nun walks into a bar....
Sounds like the first six words of a bad joke, right? According to this article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, it's the first six words to a real story:

A nun walks into a bar, goes to the women's restroom and comes out miffed.

Did you realize, she asks a waiter, that there's an advertisement for birth control in there?

No, of course not, the waiter responds. He tells the owner, who orders it removed immediately.

That's a true story, according to Vito LaFata
[hmmmm.... I went to high school with a LaFata; I wonder if Vito is any relation?] of Vito's Trattoria, 3515 Lindell Boulevard. He recalled it when asked about a recent advertisement extolling the benefits of a medication for yeast infections, which was neatly framed inside a ladies' room stall.

The contraceptive ad might not have offended anyone in other bars or restaurants around town. But Vito's sits near the city's Catholic nerve center - St. Louis University is across the street, the Cathedral Basilica and the chancery of the archdiocese are only a few blocks west.

Given that the nun objected to a contraceptive ad, I can only hope that she's associated with the chancery offices or the Cathedral--I would have hopes that anyone associated with St. Louis University would be more tolerant than that. sigh

Fun facts to know and tell:
A Technical Summary of the Major Presidential Candidates' Web sites

More IIS sites there than I like to see (and keep in mind that administering an IIS server is one of the things I do for a living)....

Why didn't I think of this?
If I had, I'd have had some more blog entries the past couple weeks. This from South Knox Bubba:

Generic blog post...

The SKB compound is in complete disarray this week as it has been for the past few days. So, this generic blog post will have to do for now...

A lot of stuff happened. Some of it was mentioned in the newspaper and on the TeeVee and Cable news. Some of it is good, but most of it pisses me off. The rest of it is just depressing.

Bush and his cabal are morons. The economy is looking better, no wait, it isn't, oh wait, it is. A lot of Democrats are running for President. Bill O'Reilly is a major tool. Christie Whitman is the Bruce Cutler of organized environmental crime. Terrorists are active all over the place. Some of them are getting caught. Some are talking.

Saddam engineered 9/11. No, wait, he didn't. Saddam and Osama are still at large. More American soldiers are killed in Iraq, but the rebuilding is going swell and is right on schedule. The WMD, er, evidence of WMD, er, WMD programs, er, evidence of WMD programs, er, memos suggesting evidence of the possibility of suspected WMD programs will be found any day now.

There was a big storm, a bunch of people got killed, thousands are homeless, and millions are without power. Tom Ridge was on the scene, passing out duct tape and lame assurances.

There were some TeeVee awards last night or something. Some celebrities were getting married, or maybe not.

Nuclear waste from Oak Ridge is polluting area lakes, rivers, and groundwater. Bush pal Bechtel, who is being paid millions to clean it up, isn't exactly sure what to do. Maybe they are waiting for the EPA to just raise the danger limits, or swap nuclear contamination credits with a state that doesn't have any. Mission accomplished, here's your invoice.

Eddie Haskell Bill Haslam knocked on some more doors and said something or other stupid. Madeline is looking better and better. SayUncle had a heart attack. No wait, thankfully for him and the Mrs. it was a false alarm. Oh, and the Vols rose to number eight in the rankings.

I will leave it to you, dear reader, to Google up your own links...

OK, then.

Hmmmm...somebody's getting the message....
From The Miami Herald:

"The course we were on - insisting that we must prevail in Iraq and that Congress and the allies must give us whatever we ask for - wasn't sustainable," one senior administration official said.

The official continued: "The allies have made it clear that they won't pay to dance to whatever tune that we call. The Congress is alarmed by what Iraq is costing and fed up with officials who go up to (Capitol) Hill to give orders instead of consulting and answering questions. When you think about it, the Congress and the French have about the same reaction to our Iraq policy: 'You didn't ask us, so why should we pay?'"

Meanwhile, back at the ranch (the same article, continued):

A CBS News poll, released Wednesday, found that 47 percent of Americans disapprove of the president's handling of Iraq and 46 percent approve. In April, 79 percent approved and 17 percent disapproved. Even more troubling for the administration, only 26 percent said they thought the United States should spend $87 billion to rebuild Iraq, as Bush seeks; 66 percent said it shouldn't.

The president's own ratings were more resilient, however, with his overall job approval falling only to 52 percent from 55 percent in August, a dip that's within the poll's sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Nevertheless, one senior official said: "The numbers aren't that worrisome, but this isn't the trend we want to see going into an election. Some changes are in order."

Jo Fish at Democratic Veteran points us to this:
Soft Economy Aids Army Recruiting Effort

Obviously, that's part of The Master Plan; Dumbya wants to keep the economy sluggish so he'll get more cannon fodder.

Thought for the Day:
MANAGEMENTSPEAK: It pays to be flexible in determining your needs.
TRANSLATION: Want what we give you.
--Bob Lewis [InfoWorld's "Survival Guide" column]

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Thought for the Day:
The lawgiver, of all beings, most owes the law allegiance. He of all men should behave as though the law compelled him. But it is the universal weakness of mankind that what we are given to administer we presently imagine we own.
--H.G. Wells

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Don't screw with librarians...
From Bob Park's "What's New?" newsletter:

In a speech on Monday the Attorney General ridiculed the concerns of librarians. "Do we at the Justice Department care what you are reading? No!" he scoffed. "People are being led to believe FBI agents dressed in trench coats are surrounding libraries." Librarians get pretty testy when government officials make light of free speech. So why did they put language in the Patriot Act giving Federal authorities the right to access library records, the librarians want to know? In Maryland, as in 38 other states, library circulation records are treated as confidential, and federal authorities must have a search warrant to get at records. They'd better hurry, librarians around the country are shredding circulation records. Seeking to calm the furor, the Department of Justice released an accounting showing the library records provision of the Patriot Act had not been used a single time. Bad mistake. So why, the librarians demanded to know, does the Justice Department need this authority if it's not going to use it. Librarians are a lot tougher than they look.

Frankly, I trust librarians a lot more than I trust Attorney General Asscrack.

Something to give you pause...
This was quoted on the SKEPTIC mail list. The source is The Austin Chronicle:

Sometimes I wonder why anyone aspires to be a public politician with a high profile. The United States is starting to gear up for the presidential elections in 2004, yet an examination of presidents in the year 2000 showed '18 men...two assassinated in office...four escaped attempted assassinations (one wounded) dead in office by stroke, one by incapacitated by weakened by heart resigning in disgrace...two resigning in effect by not running again, because they became so appointee humiliated in bid to be elected...four one-termers humiliated in bids for impeached, disgraced but not convicted. Of the 13 who are deceased, eight didn't live to be 70, and six didn't live to their 65th birthday. In terms of on-the-job safety, physical/mental health and reputation, it's the most dangerous job in America. Only one (Coolidge) appears to have escaped the office unscathed --though that's about the sum of his achievement.'

Thought for the Day:
Matching his off-kilter outfit was the odd thing he had to say. After name-checking a bunch of Angels' employees, Eisner stammered, "You never can count Orange County out!" The crowd dutifully cheered, but they had to be wondering what the hell he was talking about. This type of line might work in, say, Buffalo, a place that has had its share of hard knocks and does tend to get counted out. But who counts out Orange County? Eisner's neighbors in Beverly Hills, perhaps? It made me realize what a sensational job the Angels have done in packaging themselves. Here we have a team that is owned by one of the world's most powerful media conglomerates, that is situated in one of the wealthiest areas in the country, and they successfully seized the role for themselves of romantic, over-achieving underdogs. Now, that is some serious imagineering. And just in time for Disney to unload the team-think it's a coincidence that Eisner finally got a handle on the baseball business at the same moment he put the club on the block?
--Hugo Lindgren [ "Sports Nut", on Game 7 of the 2002 World Series]

Friday, September 19, 2003

Alabamans: Your tax dollars at work!
Another item from The Progressive Review mailing:


CHANNEL 13, AL - Images from a traffic camera that was used instead to monitor passersby near the University of Alabama led to the arrests of three people allegedly misbehaving on the street, police said Tuesday. Meanwhile, officials said they were still investigating who had diverted the focus of the camera from traffic -- where it normally is used to monitor vehicles -- to pedestrians, particularly young women.

The remote-control camera, located at an intersection near a row of nightclubs, usually shows traffic. But officials said someone in a state trooper office diverted the camera to focus on pedestrians in the pre-dawn hours last Friday.

Footage broadcast citywide on a cable TV channel showed several people, and the camera zoomed in on the breasts and buttocks of several young women walking past. A 22-year-old woman was charged with public lewdness about 4:10 a.m. after baring her breasts in front of the camera, said Capt. David Hartin, and a 25-year-old man was charged with disorderly conduct moments later after allegedly grabbing his crotch as cars went by. A 28-year-old man was accused of public intoxication and resisting arrest after dancing in the street along a row of bars called "the strip," said Hartin. . .

Chris Ellis, a spokesman for the state trooper office in Tuscaloosa, said the camera was being used for surveillance after a report that a man had exposed himself. "Our officer was absolutely not inappropriately following young women," Ellis said. "The trooper was using the camera to monitor traffic and some type of criminal activity." But Joe Robinson, director of the city transportation department, said he was frustrated and angry over what he saw as the misuse of the camera, one of 31 traffic monitors in Tuscaloosa.

By God, Alabama schools still suck, but the state police can use traffic monitor cameras to scope the babes--and the rowdy guys.

"I've got a bad feeling about this." --Han Solo
From the email newsletter of The Progressive Review:

En route to his first campaign stop as a candidate, a high-energy rally at a local restaurant, Clark said he has few specific policy ideas to offer voters right now and offered a few thoughts that might surprise Democrats flocking to his campaign. As recently as Sunday night, he was unsure if he should run for president, so Clark said voters need to give him time to think things through. . .

Sorry Wes. The American electorate, afflicted as they are with a particularly virulent form of ADHD aren't going to give you time to think things through; for that matter, they'll probably resent the fact that you want to think at all.

UPDATE (9/23/03): Clark better pay close attention to Bob Somerby at The Daily Howler, or even better yet, he should read everything written in the Howler for about the last three years (basically, everthing written during/after the 2000 election). Somerby does an excellent job of documenting how the pundit corps pretty much torpedoed Al Gore's campaign via innuendo, misdirection, and outright fabrication--all because, even though Gore was ideologically closer to many of their views, Bush provided better food on the press plane and joked around with them. If Clark doesn't watch it, the press may just decide to "Gore" him, too.

What happened to the concept of a resume?
This is the kind of stunt that would, I'm sure, have gotten me blackballed by the placement office at Northwestern:

Plaintiff's First Request For An Interview

The more I think of it, the more I think that it'd probably get him quickly shitcanned by any silk-stocking firm in any city he's contemplating practicing in.

But this has to take the cake:

Noting that, "I am VERY hungry right now," Toll promised prospective employers that, "If my mother's funeral was the day of a key deposition, I would do the eulogy via teleconference after the deposition." And if his wedding was on the date of a key trial, "the wedding would be postponed. If the wife to be did not like it, I would inform her that work comes before EVERYTHING ELSE and that if she does not like this, she is free to find a competing husband." And, considering the tight job market, the kid is not afraid of getting his hands dirty: "If a piece of evidence was accidentally dropped into the garbage, I would have no problem going to the local dump and spending days covered knee-deep in the worst foul-smelling sludge imaginable to search for the evidence." When TSG caught up with him, Toll said he was not embarrassed by the letter and had good relationships with his mother and girlfriend, though Mom ribbed him, "So, you're not gonna come to my funeral?" As word of his letter ricocheted through the legal community this week, Toll began receiving phone messages and e-mails offering criticism and job interviews. While Toll said the "vast majority" of the feedback has been negative, "I don't care if everybody hates me, I only have to get one job."

Frankly, Matthew, if you'd skip your mother's funeral and your own wedding in order to slave for your legal masters, you are a failure as a human being, an arrogant prick who'll fit right into the legal profession. I hope you starve to death soon, so you don't reproduce, but knowing the legal profession like I do, you'll probably get that one job. And the community you live in will be the lesser for it.

Dammit, I'm going to violate copyright again....
but this is too damn good not to share in total. From the Carolina Morning News:

Surviving the 6-to-8'er
by John David Rose

The autumnal ritual of the 6-to-8 cocktail party is about to renew itself. Well-to-do Hilton Head Islanders are finding their way back from "up North," conservative juices revitalized with lobster and bracing dips in 65-degree water.

Invited to rub elbows with Beaufort County's movers and shakers, you can enjoy your wine and cheese quietly or add a little zest to the evening.

Lean into a gaggle of conservative geese and cluck sympathetically: "Isn't it a shame? Bush's approval rating dropped another six points in just the last two weeks."

While they're choking on their cabernet, you add the coup de grace. "The Sept. 6 Zogsby Poll asked people who they'd vote for in the next presidential election. Forty-nine percent said 'Anybody but Bush.' Only 45 percent said they'd vote for Bush. Tsk, tsk, tsk. What can the American public be thinking?"

Wander over to the next group and drop this little billet-doux. "My son graduated from MIT last year and is still looking for a job. What are we going to do? The economy lost another 93,000 jobs in August."

When someone leaps to the defense of the White House saying that we can't blame the lousy economy on Bush, smile knowingly: "It's hard to find an economic indicator that supports the notion that today's economic troubles can be properly explained as the backwash from 9/11. At least that's what Lee Price, the director of research of the nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute wrote."

Twist the knife with: "Price said our depressed economy is the result of rising federal deficits caused by the first tax cut and the anticipated $500 billion to $600 billion deficit caused by Bush's second tax cut. And now there's another $87 billion for Iraq on top of that."

When someone pokes his nose in your face and says, "Whaddya want us to do, kiss Saddam Hussein and make up?"

"Actually," you retort, "that would have made the U.S. safer. After all, Hussein didn't have any weapons of mass destruction now did he? Foreign policy experts such as Ivan Eland, senior fellow of the nonpartisan Independent Institute, say the War on Terrorism has succeeded in only one thing. It's 'drawn a bull's eye on the American people and caused rogue states to speed up their weapons program.'"

Draw them in a little with: "So what would you do if you were the leader of Iran? Iraq didn't have any nuclear weapons and got invaded. North Korea has them and is getting concessions."

Wander over to another group and in the next lull: "Have you ever wondered why Bush is ringing up all those deficits? Is there some sort of secret plan to bankrupt the country so they can finally get rid of Medicare and Social Security?"

Before someone has apoplexy and blames it on you, drop one final bomb and run. "When Bush said the War on Terrorism required sacrifice, you don't suppose he was thinking of asking us to give his tax cuts back?"

Brain-dead conservative fanatics will not awaken quickly. It takes a little jolt or shock to the system. Your objective is to provide a glimmer of reason. Once they question one conservative cliché, they'll start questioning more. Voila! Another independent thinker is born.

John David Rose is a long-time Hilton Head Islander and political observer.

Bad news for us, good news for the rest of the world
The end of U.S. economic supremacy is in sight, according to this analysis by Hussain Khan in Asia Times.

It is beginning to appear that the events of September 11, 2001 have had such an impact that it could end American economic supremacy in the world. The peril to the US economy has been compounded by fiscal actions taken by the administration of President George W Bush.


Not only the IMF but the Republican-controlled Joint Committee on Taxation as well, using a variety of dynamic scoring assumptions, was forced to acknowledge that these cuts are likely to reduce the economy's long-term growth. Explaining the reason as to why the committee has come to this conclusion, Laura d'Andrea Tyson, dean of London Business School writes:

"Any positive business-investment incentives from lower taxes will be outweighed by the curtailing of national saving and investment caused by mammoth budget deficits. To the extent that larger deficits diminish domestic saving, they eat into productive investment. To the extent that larger deficits are funded by borrowing from the rest of the world they raise the nation's foreign debt and drive future income into servicing this debt. Contrary to the claims of administration ideologues, larger deficits mean lower future living standards.

"The administration argues that its tax cuts are necessary to stimulate growth in a sluggish economy. But this argument is specious. The economy may have needed a temporary infusion of additional demand during the past three years. But temporary tax cuts or spending hikes for hard-pressed working families, unemployed workers, and state governments would have stimulated demand much more effectively than tax cuts for the rich."

The tax cuts were designed to increase demand and employment opportunities, but they have backfired. The average tax cut is said to be about $1,000 per person. But half of the taxpayers will get a nominal tax cut of $120 only and one-third receive no benefit at all. The average refund is much higher because the benefit to the few rich taxpayers is very great. When more than half and the additional one-third do not benefit significantly from the tax cuts, how are those blessings going to come about that the supply-side theorists claim in the form of increased overall demand or in the purchasing power of the majority, while the number of the unemployed has peaked to a nine-year high level?

The increase in unemployment is a scourge in itself. A lot of companies like Enron and some airlines have been bankrupted. Those that survived dismissed a lot of their workers as a result of the September 11 events. The Clinton administration had created millions of new jobs and reduced unemployment to less than 4 percent. The events of September 11 reversed this trend. Unemployment is 50 percent higher than the Clinton administration figures, rising to a nine-year high of 6.1 percent. It has remained above that level for the last few months, despite slight negligible monthly adjustments.

The US had just emerged from recession in the beginning of 2001. But September 11 drove growth down again. Growth of at least 3 percent is needed to encourage hiring, say economists, but such growth has not occurred in consecutive quarters since the final six months of 1999. The economy grew only 1.4 percent annually in the first quarter of 2003. In an attempt to boost growth, the Federal Reserve cut short-term interest rates to 1 percent, their lowest level in 45 years.


On the contrary, under the so-called jobless recovery, more than 2 million jobs have disappeared since Bush took office in January 2001, reviving memories of 1929 depression. Bush could be the first president since Herbert Hoover, who was in the White House from 1929 to 1933, the years of the Great Depression, to oversee a decline in total US jobs during his term. By contrast, 22 million jobs were created during the Clinton years.

With presidential elections looming next year, Democrats have focused on the economy as Bush's weak spot. Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader, has described Bush's economic record as "$3 trillion deeper in debt, three million fewer jobs".

As long as fiscal deficits continue to increase and erode savings and investment, there is no possibility of creating new jobs to significantly reduce unemployment. In addition to the increasing large fiscal deficits, unemployment, slow economic growth and falling living standards, other problems are hovering. One is in the form of the fall in federal revenues. Usually, with yearly growth, however small, revenues also continue to grow every year. But the war adventures of the Bush administration have reversed this historic trend.

In 2003, federal revenues are expected to fall to as far back as the 45-year-old level. The forecast is that the American economy will regress to the level of the 34th American president, Dwight D Eisenhower (1953-61). Federal revenues include a variety of sources of income, one of them tax revenue. If only tax revenue is compared, it is going to fall to about the 60-year-old level of 1943.

The present state of social security is such that one third of the dollars in this account have to be borrowed from outside, as internal revenues are not sufficient to cover costs. This is the largest share of deficit-financed spending in the past 50 years. This deficit spending is forecast to increase $400 billion by 2008. If no cuts are made in social security, medicare, defense and debt service, government spending on everything else - from education to homeland security - would have to be slashed by more than 80 percent to restore budgetary balance. The United States is in for a rough ride.

Speaking of Cheney...
The U.S. Constitution, in effect, requires that the President and Vice President be "inhabitants" of different states; as the Eleventh Amendment puts it:

The electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves...

Obviously, if the President and Vice President are inhabitants of the same state, then the electors of one state are going to be disqualified pursuant to the provision that at least one of the candidates "shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves.

Whatever happened to that little tidbit of information that was very nicely suppressed during the election: that Cheney, while he was running Halliburton, was living in Houston, Texas? Though he claimed to be a Wyoming resident, he'd not been back there to live for years, between his years of sucking off the public trough in Washington, and his years running Halliburton. We have Two Texans running the country, contrary to the explicit requirements of the Constitution.

Oh well, another reason then needed the Supreme Court to appoint their corrupt asses into office.

How much contempt does Cheney hold you and me in, that he can so blatantly lie to our faces?
From the Boston Globe's Derrick Jackson:

ON "MEET THE PRESS" last Sunday, Vice President Dick Cheney said, "Since I left Halliburton to become George Bush's vice president, I've severed all my ties with the company, gotten rid of all my financial interests. I have no financial interest in Halliburton of any kind and haven't had now, for over three years."

That is the latest White House lie.

Within 48 hours, Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey pointed reporters toward Cheney's public financial disclosure sheets filed with the US Office of Government Ethics. The sheets show that in 2002, Cheney received $162,392 in deferred salary from Halliburton, the oil and military contracting company he ran before running for vice president. In 2001, Cheney received $205,298 in deferred salary from Halliburton.

The 2001 salary was more than Cheney's vice presidential salary of $198,600. Cheney also is still holding 433,333 stock options.

Flushed into the open, Cheney spokeswoman Catherine Martin said the vice president will continue to receive about $150,000 a year from Halliburton in 2003, 2004, and 2005. If President bush wins a second term, that means Cheney will make at least $800,000 from the company while sitting in office.

Martin said the payments did not represent a lie. She said Cheney had already earned that salary. She said Cheney took out an insurance policy that would guarantee the money would be paid to him no matter what happened to the company.

Five years ago, America was in a tizzy over President Clinton's "That depends on what the meaning of is, is." That was over lying about sex. For that, Clinton was impeached. Now, we have a vice president who tells America he has severed his ties even as his umbilical cord doubles his salary. To him, it depends what the meaning of i$, i$.

We know what the meaning of i$, i$ to Halliburton. It is by far the largest beneficiary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. With no-bid, no-ceiling contracts, the company has already amassed $2 billion in work. It is doing everything from restoring oil facilities to providing toilets for troops. A year ago Halliburton was staring at nearly a half-billion dollars in losses. In the second quarter of 2003 it posted a profit of $26 million.

No conflict of interest has been proven between Cheney's salary and Halliburton's Iraq work, but even before the invasion and occupation, Cheney's concern about the public's perception led to years of deception.

In the summer of 2000, he told Larry King that quitting Halliburton for the vice presidency means "I take a bath." He gave up a $1.3 million annual salary, but most people would have settled for mere shower droplets of his $33 million "retirement" package. By strange coincidence, at the time of the Republican National Convention, Halliburton gave about $280,000 to Republican candidates for office in the first half of 2000. It gave less than $10,000 to Democrats.

At the time, Cheney said: "I will take whatever steps I have to take to avoid any conflict of interest. That is to say, by the time I'm sworn in on January 20, I will have eliminated any possibility that I have a continuing financial interest in Halliburton stock or share price. . . . I will do whatever I have to do to guarantee that there's no conflict."

Cheney has set up the 433,333 stock options in a charitable trust. But his whole vice presidency has been a general conflict of interest, symbolized by his secret industrial society known as the Energy Task Force. Cheney has resisted all efforts by the General Accounting Office and advocacy groups to provide documents that detail the proceedings of the task force. In the two and a half years since the task force was convened, the White House has been on a rampage to slash or gut environmental measures.

Cheney's latest attempt to play Americans for fools came in the very same interview during which he was forced to say "I did misspeak" about Saddam Hussein having nuclear weapons, a falsehood that whipped up support for the invasion. The question is how many more misspeaks and lies Americans will tolerate. Back when Clinton was in trouble, Cheney's wife, Lynne, said, "The Clintons are very good at defining and creating new realities that are based not on absolute truths, but on what they believe to be true at any given moment."

Clinton will be forever tarnished for "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." Dick Cheney's continuing salary from the top profiteer of an invasion fueled by his sexed-up claims of Saddam Hussein's weapons is the creation of a new, mad reality. Cheney has said in so many words, "I did not have financial relations with Halliburton." Americans must determine whether that lie is as sexy as lies about sex. With nearly 300 American soldiers dead, one would hope so.

Our favorite "liberal" Catholic priest speaks out.
Big lie on Iraq comes full-circle, by Andrew Greeley

Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda chief (director of communications, in the current parlance), once said that if you are going to lie, you should tell a big lie. That may be good advice, but the question remains: What happens when people begin to doubt the big lie? Herr Goebbels never lived to find out. Some members of the Bush administration may be in the process of discovering that, given time, the big lie turns on itself.

The president has insisted that Iraq is the central front in the war on terrorism, a continuation of the administration's effort to link Iraq to the attack on the World Trade Center. While almost three-quarters of the public believe that Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the attack, the polls after the president's recent speech show that less than half believe that Iraq is the ''central front'' of the war on terrorism. Moreover, the majority believe that the war has increased the risk of terrorism. A shift is occurring in the middle, which is neither clearly pro-Bush nor clearly anti-Bush. The big lie is coming apart.

There is not and never has been any evidence that Iraq was involved in the 9/11 attack. None. The implication of such involvement was an attempt to deceive, a successful attempt at the big lie.


Why, then, did the United States invade Iraq if the reasons given for the war were so problematic? It would seem that the answer was the same as the reason as for climbing Mt. Everest: Iraq was there. The administration recited the ''war on terror'' mantra as a pretext for doing something that its intellectuals had wanted to do for years. No one in the administration expected that such a war would lead to more dangers of terrorism rather than less. The mantra has been used as an excuse for many things, from the Patriot Act to drilling for oil in Alaska. It won the 2002 election for the Republicans. It is supposed to win the presidential election next year. Will the big lie work? Perhaps, though it would seem that some are growing skeptical about its constant repetition.

Moreover, the corollary mantra, which says that Americans must make sacrifices to win the war on terror, is also in trouble. Who makes the sacrifices? The rich Americans celebrating their tax ''refunds''? The Republican leadership who have few if any sons and daughters in harm's way? Giant corporations like Dick Cheney's Halliburton or Bechtel? No, the sacrifices will be made mostly by the sons and daughters of the poor and the working class who must fight the war. Jessica Lynch joined the army so she could get money for a college education. Her roommate Lori Piestewa, who was killed in action, joined because she was a Native American single mother who needed the money to raise her two children.

Kennedy: Bush misAdministration bribing foreign governments to send in troops
From an AP article as published in the Baltimore Sun:

The case for going to war against Iraq was a fraud "made up in Texas" to give Republicans a political boost, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy said yesterday.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Kennedy also said the Bush administration has failed to account for nearly half of the $4 billion spent each month for the war. He said he believes much of the unaccounted-for money is being used to bribe foreign leaders to send in troops.

He said the Bush administration's Iraq policy is "adrift."

As much as I hate Dumbya and his whole misAdministration, I would like to think that Kennedy is exaggerating here--perhaps making the claim in the hopes that this would provoke the misAdministration into actually performing an accounting. However, given the perfidy and deceit of Dumbya and his puppetmeisters, I daresay Kennedy is much more on target than we would think.

Oh crud...
This book review from Unix Review reminds me that the fourth editions of both Running Linux and Linux in a Nutshell have been released recently. Which will set me back about $80 or so, but that's probably going to be a worthwhile investment; the third editions of each are among my most well used reference works. Just wish I had the money now, rather than later.

And I wonder how Big Stupid Tommy feels about this:
Cubs fans had better root for rival Cards

The point being, of course, that we're playing Houston this weekend, and the Cubs need the Cards to spank the 'stros like a red-headed stepchild in order to have a good shot at the postseason. Rather than the 'stros spanking us, as happened back in Houston the last time we faced each other.

Meanwhile, of course Time-Warner had to pass on the Fox Sports Midwest feed from St. Louis yesterday; that guaranteed that the Cardinales would whomp on the Brewers, which they did, 13-0 according to my sources. However, it doesn't look like Albert tied Kiner's record yet, much less beat it. sigh

Recall: Bad idea then; bad idea now.
An interesting take on the California farce: a guest op-ed from the Commercial-Appeal written by a Shelby County (TN) Circuit Judge who actually lived through a recall back when he was a Berkeley (CA) city councilman.

Californians appear condemned to repeat history because they refuse to learn from it. Witness the Berkeley recall of 30 years ago, now being repeated, although postponed, statewide.

On Aug. 21, 1973, I became the only person ever recalled from the City Council in Berkeley, and one of the few black elected officials, if not the only one, ever recalled in California history.

No one learned from the Berkeley experience that recalls start with those who lost the election and always play on the fears of a nervous populace. Moreover, recalls allow 25 percent or less of voters in the last election to force an elected official to get a majority of votes in his or her defense. Although as many as 49 percent of those voting may favor the targeted officeholder, without a majority he or she loses - and the minority that started the fight wins.

More on the WMD front:
U.S. Team Finds No Smallpox In Iraq

Top American scientists assigned to the weapons hunt in Iraq found no evidence Saddam Hussein’s regime was making or stockpiling smallpox, The Associated Press has learned from senior military officers involved in the search.

SMALLPOX FEARS were part of the case the Bush administration used to build support for invading Iraq — and they were raised again as recently as last weekend by Vice President Dick Cheney.

But a three-month search by “Team Pox” turned up only signs to the contrary: disabled equipment that had been rendered harmless by U.N. inspectors, Iraqi scientists deemed credible who gave no indication they had worked with smallpox and a laboratory thought to be back in use that was covered in cobwebs.

Fears that smallpox could be used as a weapon led the Bush administration to launch a vaccination campaign for some 500,000 U.S. military personnel after the Sept. 11 attacks, and to order enough vaccine to inoculate the entire U.S. population if necessary. President Bush also was vaccinated against the disease, which kills about a third of its victims.

The negative smallpox findings reported to U.S. intelligence agencies come nearly six months after the administration went to war to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction that Saddam long denied having and the military hasn’t been able to find.

Damn. We weren't just had. We were really bamboozled.

Dumbya and his puppetmeisters get my vote, hands down. Most deceitful U.S. presidential administration in the entire history of the country. Nobody else even comes close. Not even Reagan and Nixon. And given that, as Harry Truman said, "Every time Richard Nixon opens his mouth, a lie comes out, and every time he closes it he bites a lie that was trying to get out in two", that's really saying something.

Interesting Juxtapositions Department:
According to my usual impeachable sources, today is the mutual birthday of both Twiggy and Adam "Batman" West, two 60's icons.

Thought for the Day:
A vacation in Bermuda is over in two weeks, but a divorce is something you always have.
--Woody Allen

Thursday, September 18, 2003

"Criminals are dumb; that's why they get caught." --Jon Waltz, Professor of Law, Northwestern University, August 1979

Bank robber goes to strip club, brags to waitress and strippers about robbery. (You have to scroll down the page a bit to get to this story.)

The thing that gets me is that if the bastard hadn't gotten drunk and disorderly at the club, he'd have probably walked out a free man. Didn't sound from the story like the strippers and waitress were taking his brags seriously.

I thought pharmacists were smarter than this...
In the St. Louis Post-Dispatch today we have the heartwarming story of a pharmacist who traded some Xanax for sex with two young women. Unfortunately for him, he also dispensed ethanol along with the Xanax. I'm not a pharmacist (I just work for a lot of them), so I don't know how Xanax and ethanol mix, but I can't imagine that the combination improves one's ability to drive, which is (apparently--the story isn't at all clear on the details) what the young ladies decided to do next. Of course, you can see what is coming next: the girls are involved in an auto accident and one dies.

The story continues:

Today, assistant U.S. attorney Allison Behrens urged a longer sentence for Roberts, contending that his actions led to the young woman's death.

But U.S. District Judge Jean Hamilton ruled there was not enough evidence to support the claim that Roberts' actions caused Bailey's death. She meted him the 6-month sentence that was the maximum term under federal guidelines, and she ordered him to pay a $10,000 fine.

The judge also ordered him to pay $8,017 to cover the costs of Bailey's funeral.

Diana Bailey, the dead woman's mother, broke into tears after the sentencing, saying she was unsatisfied with the length of the sentence: "I think it's unfair...because my daughter died."

At the risk of sounding unsympathetic... People die every day. Rarely is it fair. Some salient facts seem to me to be (1) Your daughter decided to be a prostitute for the afternoon or evening (trading sex for drugs would definitely consitute an act of prostitution under Missouri law), (2) and then decided to mix the Xanax with alcohol, which seems to me definitely contraindicated. Doesn't she bear some responsibility for her own actions? Those are really the only facts that the story leaves us with; we don't know whether the dead woman was driving after her drug/alcohol/sex party, or whether she was merely riding in a car driven by someone else. If she wasn't driving, the connection between the drugs/alcohol and the death is even more tenuous.

Ms. Bailey's understandable reaction highlights a frustration of mine during my law practice days. Sorry, Mr./Ms. Victim or Victim's Relative, but the criminal justice system doesn't exist to vindicate your rights, or to provide you with some sort of satisfaction; it exists to vindicate the rights of society as a whole. There are a lot of issues riding on that, and whether the victim feels satisfied enough with the sentence is, basically, irrelevant.

Why do some people fail to realize that?

UPDATE: Today (9/19) The Post-Dispatch has a slightly more informative article about the case; for example we learn that Nicole Bailey was in fact the driver of the car in question, and that there was expert testimony in the trial that the combination of Xanax and alcohol, as I surmised, ain't exactly going to improve your ability to drive a car. I do have to confess that I agree with the defendant's lawyer here; it's interesting that the judge (Jean Hamilton, who I knew back when she was a mere Missouri Circuit Judge; not exactly a flaming liberal by any means) found that there wasn't enough evidence to conclude that the pharmacist's behavior here contributed to the accident that caused Ms. Bailey's death, but still ordered the pharmacist to reimburse the family for at least part of the funeral expenses. Sounds a bit Solomonic, I suppose. Or it's that Judge Hamilton is cutting some slack to the defendant (in Federal court in St. Louis? What a concept!!!) because after all, he's a white suburban professional (to judge by name and residence as given in the Post)?

And more from Bill Maher
Also from today's blog entries:

Must Be Doing Something Right

Wesley Clark declared his candidacy yesterday, and you know he’s being taken seriously because he’s already under attack. It’s the usual suspects, of course – Limbaugh, Fox News, hate radio. Clark’s a decorated veteran, so he should at least be afforded some respect. But I suppose that’s too much to ask from the party that admonishes everyone to support our military men and women. Of course, if Wes Clark came out as a Republican these same simpletons would be calling you traitors for refusing to elect him God.

Maybe Dumbya's really trying to reduce the deficit....
From the Bill Maher Blog for today (9/18/03):

Soldiers Foot Their Food Bill

Here’s a real morale builder: it turns out that American soldiers wounded in Iraq are being billed for their hospital meals. Talk about adding insult to injury. Perhaps the next time President Bush holds one of those $5,000 a plate fundraisers, he could slide a little of that cash over to the Pentagon so legless soldiers
don’t have to pay for their own pudding cups.

For those of you who want sources, Maher links to this article on the Stars and Stripes (DoD's official fishwrap) website: Congressman: Wounded troops shouldn't be billed for hospital meals

The incomparable Bob Somerby's....
apparently had the schedule from hell the past several weeks, hence The Daily Howler has been a bit sporadic in its publication. But he's in top form today, skewering Richard Cohen of the WaPo for not coming clean about why Al Gore lost (or tied) the Election of 2004:

Why did Gore "lose to or tie" George Bush? Because he wasn’t likable, Cohen says. This seems to be his basic explanation for the outcome of Campaign 2000.

Gore, of course, got more votes than Bush, a point our pundits toss aside when they offer such deep explanations. But there’s something else our pundits do when they discuss Campaign 2K—they ignore the role their own cohort played in that tightly-fought race. At this time four years ago, the Washington press corps—Cohen included—was conducting a ludicrous jihad against Gore... But they’d rather eat live worms in hell than recall their astounding conduct—even though their cohort’s astounding conduct almost surely decided this race.

No, the Washington press corps doesn’t self-tattle.

As a native Missourian, it makes me proud...
to know that the U.S. State Documents--the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights--are encased in a rare marble from Missouri.

This could be profitably read in conjuction with the Krugman interview I linked yesterday
In this column, Slate's Timothy Noah makes the same case that Paul Krugman did in his interview in CalPundit: the Bush tax cuts need to be repealed in their entirety if we're to have any hopes of paying off the budget deficit anytime soon--and that's under the rosiest assumptions one makes!

Chatterbox has been looking at the numbers. Scaling back the tax cuts, it turns out, won't do the job. They have to be eliminated entirely.

When you add Bush's $87 billion request, which will almost certainly be approved, to a budget deficit that the Congressional Budget Office had already estimated at $480 billion for fiscal year 2004 (which will begin Oct. 1), that pushes the deficit up to $567 billion. This $567 billion estimate assumes that the economic recovery will accelerate. It does not take into account additional spending for the likely introduction of a prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients. Still, for simplicity's sake, let's say next year's budget deficit will be $567 billion.

According to Robert McIntyre, director of Citizens for Tax Justice, a labor-backed nonprofit whose data on tax policy have proven extremely reliable over the years, the combined revenue loss from Bush's three tax bills for fiscal year 2004 will be $266 billion.

Even if the Bush tax cuts are fully repealed, then, the budget deficit for fiscal year 2004 will still be a not-inconsiderable $301 billion. Given the enormous size of the Bush deficit, there seems little point in presidential candidates John Kerry and John Edwards proposing that we cancel some of but not all the Bush tax cuts.

What would middle- and lower-income people lose if the pre-Bush tax code were restored? Not much. According to a June 4 study by Citizens for Tax Justice, by the end of this decade the average combined Bush tax reduction for everyone
except the richest one percent of the population would be only 5 percent. (That's less than a third of the average combined Bush tax reduction for the richest one percent of the population.) The fact that Bush's tax cuts were heavily tilted toward the rich makes it relatively easy for most of us to ponder giving them up. As for President Bush's worry that a tax hike right now would spoil the current fragile economic recovery, a $301 billion budget deficit ought to provide sufficient stimulus. Besides, aren't we supposed to make sacrifices during wartime?

I suppose that Dumbya will want to put this "achievement" on his resume.
From Fred Kaplan's very excellent "Give Iraq to the U.N. (sort of)"; do take the time to follow the link and read the whole thing though:

If President Bush doesn't play these next few weeks very carefully, he could wind up losing not just Iraq but Western Europe. On Saturday, the leaders of France, Germany, and Britain will meet in Berlin to discuss how to deal with the U.S. request for postwar assistance. This news flash bears repeating: Our key allies over the past half-century are meeting to form not a common Western position on how to deal with Iraq but a common Western European position on how to deal with us—and in a form that does not include any Americans. Meanwhile, France, Germany, Belgium, and Luxembourg are putting together a European defense force independent of NATO (i.e., free of U.S. control).

Not since World War I has the Atlantic Ocean seemed so wide.

Pretty far cry from September 12, 2001, isn't it?

Thought for the Day:
The dog has seldom been successful in pulling man up to its level of sagacity, but man has frequently dragged the dog down to his.
--James Thurber

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

By God, now it all makes sense!!!
A letter to Media Whores Online today:

Dear Horse,

The Occupant and his minions are now saying that making Iraq a terrorist magnet, or "flypaper," was the real plan all along. Well, that may be part of it, but it just hit me what the REAL real plan is.

You know how they say that the terrorists hate us because we are so free and successful that it makes them jealous and they want to attack us? Well, I think the Occupant's plan is to so wreck the United States with economic collapse and environmental disaster that nobody will be jealous anymore and they'll leave us alone. It's brilliant! Talk about fighting fire with fire!

Of course they're way too clever to admit it. Whaddya think?


Ambassador Joe Wilson tells it like it is.
From an op-ed in the San Jose Mercury News Monday:

President Bush's speech last Sunday was just the latest example of the administration's concerted efforts to misrepresent reality -- and rewrite history -- to mask its mistakes. The president said Iraq is now the center of our battle against terrorism. But we did not go to Iraq to fight Al-Qaida, which remains perhaps our deadliest foe, and we will not defeat it there.

By trying to justify the current fight in Iraq as a fight against terrorism, the administration has done two frightening things. It has tried to divert attention from Osama bin Laden, the man responsible for the wave of terrorist attacks against American interests from New York and Washington to Yemen, and who reappeared in rugged terrain in a video broadcast last week. And the policy advanced by the speech is a major step toward creating a dangerous, self-fulfilling prophecy and reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the facts on the ground.

Great Days in History Department:
Today is the 62nd anniversary of the major-league debut of one Stanley Frank "Stan the Man" Musial.

Of course, if I were still living in St. Louis I'd have gotten today off work as a holiday.


And even more from Steve...
Also from today's (9/17) Steve Gilliard blog:

Do they think we're retarded?

Jon Stewart asked that rhetorical question last night after a rant about Darrel Issa whining about the stay of the California Recall. But it seems to be a much larger question.

CNN's John King just asked Bush if there was a link between Saddam and 9/11 and he just admitted there was no proof there was.


After months of conflating the two, combining the two, confusing the shit out of the American public on purpose, allowing a judge to conclude Iraqi links to 9/11 with scant evidence, now he says that there's no link?

What? The Atta story didn't hold up? Saddam funded Hamas, right? So he had to back Al Qaeda. There's Ansar-al Islam, they're Al Qaeda and they were technically in Iraq, even though Saddam didn't control that part of the country.

They have to be kidding.
They used 9/11 as a cudgel for every half-wit idea they wanted to pass and now they say ooops, all that leading language, sorry about that.

Every day, the Bushies lie and lie and then add new lies to their old lies and alter those lies to another set of lies and then modify those lies to conform to new lies. What political philiosophy is this? Orwellism? Even Nixon didn't lie like this. My God, they lie more than Clinton did when he had his dick in that girl's mouth. I mean, I've seen guys cheating on their wives lie less and lie more coherently

I almost wish I'd been watching CNN to actually hear Bush concede that there's no proof of any connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. That would have made all this suffering worthwhile.

But of course, Steve pegs the source of Bush's pathology:

Bush lies like an alcoholic, anything to prevent the intrusion of reality into his little world and his co-dependents are also liars. This is an outrageous level of conduct. Neither Nixon nor Reagan had such a blatent disregard for the fundamental truth of matters. They lied about their actions, not the reasons for their actions. They are lying so badly, so blatently, the media has to contradict them daily. In any other country, where politicians were not assumed to be liars, parliament would demand the whole lot be tossed out. This is a level of patent dishonest which should shock and awe the average American because of the consequences: 6000 dead, wounded and sick from Iraq. In less than six months, a $480B deficit. At every level, in every way, the Bush Administration is a group of pathological liars.

UPDATE: just ran across an article on the website of the Dallas Morning News confirming that by Gawd, the Smirking Chimp in the White House did indeed admit that Saddam Hussein wasn't involved in the WTC attacks.

And nobody wants to get the lying bastard? sigh

A guest post at Steve Gilliard's blog....
Has me wondering if things aren't going to get a shitload worse, at least in the tech industry, before they get better. This is from: The State of Technology Shows at the Javits Center: Code Blew (look for this title in the listings for 9/17/03). The author is Jen Runne.

On the other hand, given the amount of space that was given over to overseas "outsourcing" companies, there may soon be more of an overlap between the homeless and tech workers than previously anticipated. Most of the mini-receptions, raffles, and "fair and balanced views of outsourcing" pep talks were being given by companies whose employee bases were entirely in Eastern Europe, the former USSR, or India. Apparently, even Nepal is getting into the game. One lone pro-technology-union organization bravely set up a tiny table near one of the larger foreign interests, where he was being politely ignored by his neighbors. Almost a third of the floor space of the entire show was taken up by companies extolling the cost savings of having someone else in another country replace your current worker base. I didn't take so much as a free candy from any of these booths, and I won't. I did not enter their raffles for bottles of Russian vodka or other exotica.

Before you start pointing at me and yelling "BIGOT," just remember this: "Global Business" means only one thing-companies get to move out of the States. Workers do not. Slashdot recently had an article that covered the travails of a man whose US job was replaced by an Indian outsourcing company. He point-blank asked said company if he could work for them, and was told point-blank that he could not be hired by then because he wasn't an Indian citizen. Now, if I took a few month's rent-about 4K, let's say-I think it's fair to say that I could do fairly well for myself living in Romania, or the Ukraine, or India-but you know what? I can't go there and start a business because I'm not allowed to.

Dear readers, please try to imagine a trade show in the European Union which devoted one-third of its floor space to US companies, whose sole pitch was "No more annoying month-long vacations or pesky health-care taxes! American workers will work for almost no benefits or perks, and for half the pay!!" Also imagine that this show was at least partially sponsored by the State. Keep imagining-because it ain't never gonna happen. To the best of my knowledge, we are the only country on Earth stupid enough to undercut our own core industries at the roots. Remember--companies get to move out of the U.S. Dell can outsource its tech help to India, and still enjoy massive tax breaks and the golden halo of being a "U.S. Company." The single parent in Des Moines who used to do second-shift tech help doesn't have the same transborder mobility. Note that all of this avoids the whole H1-B visa issue altogether-most of the outfits at the show today are companies whose employees are working overseas, in their home nations.

After Jen's contribution, Steve adds some of his usually perceptive comments:

Note: The large number of outsourcing companies is surprising, because while foreign companies sold software and hardware in the past, few sold bodies. This is not the kind of thing which should inspire confidence in booming economy in the next year or so. American companies have become bottom-feeding scum and disciples of cheap labor conservatism. Henry Ford said he had to pay his workers enough to have them buy his cars. Too bad people forgot that simple lesson.

Our new secret weapon in the war against terror
From the Bill Maher Blog for today (9/17):

How are Camp Delta interrogators down at Guantanamo getting enemy combatants to talk? Sleep and sensory deprivation? Rubber hoses and testicle electrodes? Nope. The “wholesome goodness” of Twinkies cream-filled sponge cakes. It turns out the one thing these death-to-America al-Qaeda-types love almost as much as Allah and suicide is our junk food. Gitmo prisoners, bored stiff and craving sweets, are beginning to exchange information for McDonald’s Happy Meals and Hostess cakes.

There’s no denying these poor people, brainwashed in maddrasses, do hate America but they sure love our crap. Maybe we should withdraw our interrogators and send in the Kool-Aid guy, the Trix Rabbit, the Doublemint Twins and the Frito Bandito. The maddrasses exploited their hunger – maybe Mr. Peanut and Mrs. Butterworth can deprogram them. And then we can all sit down and talk this thing out over a cup of General Foods International Coffee.

Hans Blix's take?
Iraq destroyed its weapons of mass destruction 10 years ago.

For some reason, I'm reminded of this quote in my Big File of Quotes for All Occasions:

So, which lie should be an impeachable offense? A personal fib to cover-up a blow-job, or an elaborately orchestrated web of deceit, forgery and Big Internationally Broadcast Whoppers about Vast Stores of End-Times Armaments, for the clear purpose of terrorizing Americans into supporting war, even when all the evidence showed us that Saddam, Evil-Doer that he was, hadn't developed any major weapons since the Gulf War I. So what if Saddam acted like he had something to hide? A lot of men do. Like I explained, almost a year ago in these pages, "Saddam is the kind of guy who brags he's got nine inches, then won't let you unzip his pants for fear you'll laugh at his actual four and a half (and he'd have to kill you for that)."
--Susan Block

A most excellent interview of Paul Krugman....
is over at CalPundit. Go read it now. And then be afraid. Be very afraid:

Purely on an economic basis, what's wrong with income inequality? Does it hurt? And why?

Well, I think you can't do it on a pure economic basis, you have to think how it plays through the social system and the political process…

Suppose it keeps going up. What happens?

One thing that happens is you have an adversarial kind of society, you have a society in which people don't share the same lives at all, don't share the same values. Politically, it leads to erosion of the support for public institutions that we need.

Take this catastrophe in Alabama just now. It was a dispute about taxes, but what's ultimately at stake is, are they going to do anything to improve that dismal primary education system in Alabama or is it going to get even worse because of the budget crisis? And the answer is, it's going to get even worse.

It's funny, some of the businesses in Alabama were supporting Riley's tax plan because they actually are starting to understand that a decent education level is more important to them than a couple of points off their taxes. But it gets harder to have that sort of enlightened social policy when you have a society that's so radically differentiated. Think of Latin America. The characteristic thing in Latin America is that they have lousy infrastructure and lousy education systems because they're so polarized on income, and in turn that leads to low development and polarized income. You get this kind of downward spiral. And there's something like that happening here.

But despite 20 years of this, starting in the early 80s, there's actually remarkably little class envy among the working class in America.

Yeah, and that's partly because people don't know. There's a funny thing that happened when I had that piece on inequality from the Times magazine a year ago. I had no control over the artwork and didn't see it until everyone else saw it, and they had this big picture of what they thought was a mansion. But it wasn't a mansion, it wasn't what the really rich are building now, it was a roughly $3 million house of about 7,000 square feet, and there are a few of those in Princeton just down the road from me. The people doing the Times magazine artwork just don't realize how rich the rich are these days, what the real excesses look like, and I think that's the general thing. I think most people are not well informed, and after all who is going to inform them? It's the power of propaganda: 49% of the public thinks that most people end up paying the estate tax.

Why is the Bush administration doing what they're doing economically? Obviously they want to get reelected, and they know a strong economy is important to getting reelected. So why deliberately follow policies that aren't going to help?

I think they were betting that the economy would spontaneously strengthen. They were betting that they would get their recovery — and they might still be right, though I think it's almost impossible that Bush will end this term with more jobs than when he came in — but in any case the trend might be up enough that they can still pull it off.

But they've been shocked by this, they expected that it would turn out OK, and their strategy has been to play to the base. They've just thought that that's what maximizes reelection chances. God knows. After all, on what issue have they actually said, here's a problem and we have to solve it? There have been none of those, there have just been, here's a problem and how can we use it to advance the base's agenda? And it's still better than even odds that they will get reelected regardless.

Beyond that, obviously Grover Norquist and the Heritage Foundation see all this as a way to radically downsize government by creating so much red ink that it becomes politically possible to chip away at Social Security and Medicare. I doubt that Bush understands that that's where it's going, but in effect he's allowing himself to be used by people who have those sorts of goals.

And they honestly think they can do that? I don't think politically you can cut those programs.

Train wreck is a way overused metaphor, but we're headed for some kind of collision, and there are three things that can happen. Just by the arithmetic, you can either have big tax increases, roll back the whole Bush program plus some; or you can sharply cut Medicare and Social Security, because that's where the money is; or the U.S. just tootles along until we actually have a financial crisis where the marginal buyer of U.S. treasury bills, which is actually the Reserve Bank of China, says, we don't trust these guys anymore — and we turn into Argentina. All three of those are clearly impossible, and yet one of them has to happen, so, your choice. Which one?

Well, how about your choice? What's your best guess?

I think financial crisis, and then how it falls out is 50-50, either New New Deal or back to McKinley, and I think it's anybody's guess which one of those it is. It's crazy stuff, but think about where I am on this. My take on the numbers is no different from Brad DeLong's, it's no different from CBO's now, and we all look at this and we all see this curve that marches steadily upwards and then heads for the sky after the baby boomers start retiring. I don't know what Brad thinks, I think he's open-minded [actually, it turns out he's optimistic that voters will eventually come to their senses and raise taxes on the rich. —ed.], but the general view is: yes, but this is America, it can't happen, so something will come up. And I'm just willing to say I don't see any noncatastrophic solution to this, I don't see an incremental stepwise resolution. I think something drastic is really going to happen.

How does all this feed in to the current account deficit? Will China keep financing that forever?

They're financing both the current account deficit, and, as it turns out, directly financing the government deficit. We were running a big current account deficit that accelerated through the late 90s, but there you could say that it was due to the strength of the U.S. economy, it was all this investment demand, technological revolution, and after all, the government was in surplus.

Now, we're back in twin deficits territory, and there are two related issues, the solvency of the federal government and the solvency of the United States per se, and both of them are now somewhat in question.

Maybe I'm a captive of my own model, but I think that what happens when the world loses faith in the U.S. as a place to invest is that the dollar plunges, but that in itself is not so bad because the lucky thing is our foreign debts are in dollars, so we don't do an Indonesia or an Argentina. But the federal government's solvency is a much more critical thing because it needs to keep on borrowing more and more just to pay its bills.

What happens if these foreign countries do stop buying U.S. bonds? Is this a real concern, or a tinfoil hat kind of thing?

Oh, I don't think China is going to do it to pressure us. You can just barely conceive of a situation where they're mad at us because we're keeping them from invading Taiwan or something, but more likely they just start to wonder if this is really a good place to be putting their money.

So what happens is a plunge in the dollar when they decide to stop buying and start cashing in, and a spike in U.S. interest rates. But you might also get in a situation where the interest rates the government has to pay to roll over its debt become so high that you get an accelerating problem, which is what happened in Argentina. What happened was that suddenly no one would buy Argentine debt unless they paid a twenty something percent interest rate, and everybody says, but if they have to roll over their debt at a twenty percent interest rate, there's no way they can pay that back. So the whole thing grinds to a halt and the cash flow just dries up.

And do you think that's a serious possibility for the United States?

Yeah, just take the numbers as they now look, and that's where it heads. And you might say, OK, we can easily handle it. U.S. taxes are 26 percent of GDP in the U.S., in Canada they're 38 percent of GDP. If you raise U.S. taxes to Canadian levels there's plenty of money to cope with all of this. But politically we've got a deadlock, and it's hard to imagine that happening.

So you say, but this can't happen, this is America, and I guess my answer is, is it? Is this the same country that we had in 1970? I think we have a much more polarized political system, a much more polarized social climate. We certainly aren't the country of Franklin Roosevelt, and we're probably not the country of Richard Nixon either, so I think we have to take seriously the possibility that things won't work out this time.

If you were king of the economy, what's the Krugman plan?

A phased elimination of all the Bush tax cuts, plus some additional taxes. I'd probably look first at some way to make the corporate profits tax actually effective again — the nominal rate is 35% but the effective rate is only 15% or so. Look at some cuts, maybe you start to talk about retirement age, and possibly some means testing of Medicare, and that's enough to bring the budget under control. And meanwhile you have to manage the economy, you have to talk about what we can do to actually get demand going faster, and there are lots of things you can do….

Are there? We're running a $500 billion deficit, interest rates are at one percent…

We're running the wrong kind of deficit. We need aid to state and local government, more checks to lower and middle income people. We need some WPA type of projects, and as it happens the homeland security stuff would be a perfect candidate. I just looked to find out how much of that $20 billion New York has actually gotten so far, and the answer is $5.6 billion. Two years after September 11th New York has gotten less than $6 billion in aid, so how about a little bit more on all of that?

In terms of a classic Keynesian stimulus, homeland security is a perfect fit.

Yeah, but they don't want to do it. Partly because they don't like government, partly because a lot of it would be going to New York and they don't like New York. It's pretty amazing.

Added a new daily read....
On the recommendation of fellow Rocky Top Brigade member Big Stupid Tommy, checked out Redbird Nation, a self described "St. Louis Cardinals Obsession Site". Some good writing and some insights on my beloved Cardinals. Check it out.

The latest left-of-center fad: The Clark candidacy
Slate's "History Lessons" column has an interesting take on the Wesley Clark candidacy, comparing its start with the campaigns (successful and unsuccessful) that other generals have undertaken for the Presidency. It'll be interesting to see how the Clark candidacy plays out; frankly I have trouble at this late date taking him seriously as a presidential candidate, and I'm still thinking that when the dust clears after the convention he'll wind up in the Veep's slot.

Doin' the Phoenix thing?
Interesting piece by Chris Suellentrop in Slate on Quentin Tarantino, who is apparently set to release his long awaited next flick "Kill Bill". For some reason it's slipped my attention that Tarantino hasn't done a movie in a long while--especially puzzling to me since I really liked "Jackie Brown" and was eagerly awaiting his next outing.

Almost 10 years after Pulp Fiction, and six years after Jackie Brown, it's easy to forget the Tarantino craze that struck the nation—and the world—in the mid-1990s. For several years after Pulp, you couldn't attend a movie without hearing the characters yammer about the finer points of mass culture. (The nadir may have been the animal-crackers exchange between Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler in Armageddon.)


Now, for the first time in his wunderkind career—at 40, he's actually past the wunderkind stage—Tarantino is facing real questions about his skill as a writer and a director. Like: After
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and The Matrix movies, will yet another kung fu movie choreographed by Yuen Woo-Ping seem tired? Given Tarantino's time in the wilderness and the middling box office gross for Jackie Brown, are there enough Tarantino fans left to make Kill Bill a big hit? How will it fare in the Oct. 10 critical face-off with the Coen brothers' Intolerable Cruelty? Is Tarantino becoming a cult director, or will he again achieve mass appeal? But the most interesting question has gone largely unasked: Will this movie finally put to rest the whispers that Tarantino can't write a screenplay by himself?

The thing that I'm wondering though, is why has Suellentrop ignored that most wonderful of Tarantino movies ;-): "From Dusk Till Dawn"? Ok, yes it is schlocky, but by God the dialogue crackles:

Seth Gecko: I may be a bastard, but I'm not a fucking bastard.


Sex Machine: So what's your name, darlin'?
Kate Fuller: Kate. What's yours?
Sex Machine: Sex Machine, pleased to meet you.


Seth Gecko: [talking to Jacob Fuller about his wife's death in a car crash] Died instantly?
Jacob Fuller: Not quite. She was trapped in the wreck for about six hours before she passed on.
Seth Gecko: Whewww! Those acts of God really stick it in and break it off, don't they?


Jacob Fuller: Are you so much a fucking loser, you can't tell when you've won?
Seth Fuller: What did you call me?
Jacob Fuller: Nothing. I didn't make a statement. I asked a question. Would you like me to ask it again? Very well. Are you such a loser you can't tell when you've won? The entire state of Texas, along with the F.B.I., is looking for you. Did they find you? No. They couldn't. They had every entrance to the border covered. There's no way you could get across. Did you? Yes, you did. You've won, Seth, enjoy it.


Kate Fuller: Are you okay?
Seth Gecko: Peachy! Why shouldn't I be? The world's my oyster, except for the fact that I just rammed a wooden stake in my brother's heart because he turned into a vampire, even though I don't believe in vampires. Aside from that unfortunate business, everything's hunky-dory.


Carlos: What, were they psychos, or...?
Seth Gecko: Did they look like psychos? Is that what they looked like? They were vampires. Psychos do not explode when sunlight hits them, I don't give a fuck how crazy they are.


[Richie Gecko has just blown up Benny's World of Liquor.]
Seth: Low profile. Do you know what the words "low profile" mean?


Jacob Fuller: Every person who... chooses the service of God as his life's work has something in common. I don't care if you're a preacher, a priest, a nun, a rabbi or a Buddhist monk. Many, many times during your life you will look at your reflection in a mirror and ask yourself: am I a fool? I'm not going through a lapse; what I've experienced is closer to awakening.


Seth Gecko: Do you think this is who I am? I am a professional thief, I don't run around killing people I don't have to.


[Jacob, having been bitten, is waiting to turn into a vampire. Meantime, he can still take as many out as he can.]
Seth Gecko: So what are you, Jacob? A faithless preacher? Or a mean motherfuckin' servant of God?
Jacob Fuller: I'm a mean m... m... servant of God.

And of course, how can you forget one of the all time great movie monologues:

Chet Pussy: Allright! Pussy! Pussy! Pussy! Come on in pussy lovers! Here at the Titty Twister we're slashing pussy in half! Give us an offer on our vast selection of pussy! This is a pussy blowout! Allright, we got white pussy, black pussy, Spanish pussy, yellow pussy! We got hot pussy, cold pussy! We got wet pussy! We got smelly pussy! We got hairy pussy, bloody pussy! We got snappin' pussy. We got silk pussy, velvet pussy, Naugahyde pussy! We've even got horse pussy, dog pussy, chicken pussy! Come on! You want pussy? Come on in pussy lovers! If we don't got it you don't want it! Come on in pussy lovers!

Thought for the Day:
The difference between farce and comedy is about that between fantasy and science fiction: You don't remotely believe that fantasy could happen, and you never believe that anyone in the real world would do the things they are easily persuaded to do in a farce. Comedy may be improbable, but you can persuade yourself that it's possible.
--Jerry Pournelle

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

From this week's The Onion
Revised Patriot Act Will Make It Illegal To Read Patriot Act
WASHINGTON, DC—President Bush spoke out Monday in support of a revised version of the 2001 USA Patriot Act that would make it illegal to read the USA Patriot Act. "Under current federal law, there are unreasonable obstacles to investigating and prosecuting acts of terrorism, including the public's access to information about how the federal police will investigate and prosecute acts of terrorism," Bush said at a press conference Monday. "For the sake of the American people, I call on Congress to pass this important law prohibiting access to itself." Bush also proposed extending the rights of states to impose the death penalty "in the wake of Sept. 11 and stuff."

After my "Stargate" vacation....
I'm in the mood for some Cardinals baseball, and TV Time-Warner is obliging me by picking up the Fox Sports Midwest feed from St. Louis tonight, where the Cardinales are looking like they're fixin' to whale on the Brew Crew again (yesterday they beat up on the Brewers something like 11-2, or some other such ridiculous score). While I'm sitting here blogging with one eye on the toob, a few random thoughts cross my mind:

1) Fox Sports Net just now announces "The Nelly and Marshall Faulk Show". Yet Another [Excellent, IMHO] Reason to ignore both rap music and pro football.

2) We just got treated to the awe-inspiring sight of Bo Hart running back deep behind second base to make a diving catch of what should have been a perfectly placed Texas Leaguer, robbing some hapless Brewer (sorry, I wasn't paying attention to who was at bat at the time) of a hit. Which brings me to mind of something I've said several times to whoever will listen. I don't at all begrudge Bo Hart his "house afire" debut in St. Louis; if he doesn't pan out as a flash in the pan he can probably contribute to the Cards for a long while to come. What I do wish is that Bo would have shown us some of that brilliance when he was down here in Memphis. I know I've attended a couple games when he played for the Redbirds here, and he never impressed me as being more than a competent to slightly above average journeyman minor-league infielder. Then he gets called up to St. Louis, and his major-league career takes off like a house afire (though in fairness, I note that I don't see his name bandied about as a potential Rookie of the Year selection).

Must be something about that St. Louis water. Or maybe it's just that he can get the genuine, brewed-on-Pestalozzi-Street Budweiser in the clubhouse.

3) My boy Albert [Puljols] looks poised to set a new record, namely the record for number of home runs hit in a player's first three major-league seasons. That record, 114, is held by Ralph Kiner now, but Albert is second with 113, and there are 11 games left to go in the season. I have no doubt that, barring a catastrophic injury, Albert will break Kiner's record this season. Al Hrabosky, teaming with Joe Buck on tonight's telecast, was predicting before the game that Albert would hit two homers to break the record tonight. That's probably wildly optimistic (after all, I'm watching the game now, and nothing historic ever seems to happen when I'm watching), but two homers within 11 games is well within the realm of possibility.

Hrabosky just pointed out that Pujols and Rogers Hornsby are the only two Cardinals to hit over 40 homers and over 200 hits in one season.

The boy's phenomenal.


UPDATE: Al Hrabosky just quoted Dusty Baker (Chicago Cubs manager) as saying, "You don't want to pitch inside to Albert. It only wakes him up." I rather like that line....

UPDATE 2: Well, it's the bottom of the 8th, and Pujols will bat this inning only if someone gets on base (or will lead off the bottom of the 9th if the Cards blow their lead (6-5 Cards right now) in the top of the 9th. He hasn't hit a homer yet, so Hrabosky's prediction that Pujols would break Kiner's record seems exceedingly unlikely. On the other hand, 'tain't like Albert's had a bad night; he's gone three for three with a double and four total bases....

UPDATE 3 (Wednesday morning): Jim Edmonds walked, bringing up Albert in the bottom of the 8th after all, where he proceeded to strike out. But 3 for 4, with a double and four total bases. Not bad at all....

Funny, it doesn't seem counterintuitive to me...
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently published a story on a study of tipping by psychologists at Washington University. According to the investigators, people don't tip at a uniform rate; it actually seems that they tip more (as a percentage of the total bill) on smaller bills than they do on larger bills. According to the investigators:

When the psychologists analyzed the data, they found that tipping patterns run contrary to standard economic theories.

In a rational world, the percentage of tip should remain the same, regardless of the absolute amount of the bill. For instance, a customer who leaves a $2 tip on a $10 bill should tip $20 when the bill totals $100 - both are 20 percent tips. But it doesn't happen that way, Green found. Instead, people who leave 20 percent tips on small bills might give only $12 or $15 on their $100 meal.

"Equal ratios are not psychologically equal," Green said. "It's contrary to standard microeconomic theory. In fact, it's irrational."

I suppose it's not rational if your definition of rational is absolute consistency, but I contend it is understandable--hell, I've noticed this about my own behavior for years. To me, it's perfectly "rational" given that I don't want to give a waitron a tip which seems to me to be trivial. To give an exaggerated example, let's say I buy a cup of coffee somewhere for $1.00 (I know, you can't get a decent cuppa joe anywhere for less than $1.75, but bear with my limited mathematical abilities). By "standard" tipping rules I should leave a $0.20 tip. This strikes me as being insufficient; if the waitron has been reasonably good and attentive, I think he/she deserves more than a mere 20% tip. On a $1.00 bill I'd probably tip at least $0.50--maybe more if the service was good or I'm feeling especially great that day. Generally, on a "single meal" type order (say, if I go to breakfast or lunch by myself--or if I'm splitting the bill with someone) I find it difficult to leave a tip of less than about $1.50 or $2.00, regardless of how small the actual bill is. I don't eat out enough at expensive places (or pick up the tab for a party of more than two--I'll pay for a date, thank you, but not for other freeloaders (except for my girlfriend's child(ren) the times I've steadily dated single mothers)), but I can see where the standard tip on a large bill would start to get to be big enough that I'd start to balk at it, and would probably reduce the percentage to 15% (or lower, if the bill got big enough).

Yep, this kind of behavior is irrational, according to economists. But then again, you know what they say about economists: an economist is the kinda guy who'd marry Elle MacPherson for her money.

Welcome to life in our Newly Secure Republic
Hmmmmm.... Now it seems one can't take pictures of a public building in a public area anymore: WARNING! Be very aware of WHERE you are shooting in the United States!

From this page:

I'm writing this to alert all of you to be very aware WHERE you are shooting while in the United States! Yesterday I was out doing some street shooting and apparently I wandered a little too close to our Federal Building downtown with my camera and I was immediately ran down by four officers, detained and questioned for over an hour.

I currently live in Akron Ohio. A city of about 200,000 people in the northeast United States. During my lunch hour I went out on a beautiful sunny day excited to do some photography. I wandered down main street shooting various subjects for about a half hour and without finding much I wandered a little further down than I normally go which brought by our federal building. I wandered up in front of the building in the courtyard where they have a sculpture. I took several photos of the sculpture (shooting away from the building) I wandered around looking at a memorial they have there and then continued on my way. I crossed the street via the crosswalk and continued down the other side of the street. I took a picture of a woman in a car, a really old TV set in a window and a view of the construction of our new library being built downtown. Soon after I arrived at this spot I heard someone yelling. Being downtown I ignored it. They kept yelling and eventually I looked back and I saw 3 uniformed officers and one plain clothes man running toward me. I was very surprised that they closed in on me and the man asked me to step back over by the officers and he immediately told me to give him my bag and to put my hands above my head. By this time I was surrounded by men with guns and standing on the sidewalk in public view feeling embarrassed and confused without a really good reason since I was clearly out just enjoying the day and minding my own business.

The officer at this point proceeded to quickly go through my bag and he arrogantly asked me "why I was talking pictures of the Federal building and the businesses across the street?" I immediately realized where I was and why they were on me. I was blown away that it did not even cross my mind where I was on the day after September 11th. The officer asked me for my I.D. and proceeded to ask me a few more questions and then told me that I needed to come with him into the federal building so they could check my identification. I was immediately surprised that this had gone on as long as it had because I had a good explanation for what I was doing, I had proper I.D., I don't look like a suspicious person, I am clearly born and raised in the United States, I was being more than cooperative AND I was in a public place minding my own business!

So I was interested to see how far this was going to go so I went with him. Mostly because I was curious and because I am a quiet, non-confrontational person. I'm not sure I really had a choice though and soon I found myself in the bowels of the basement in a grungy hole in the wall office surrounded by mold and security guards. At this point he asked me a few more questions, he asked me if there was anything that I needed to tell him before he started a background check and then he left me with an armed guard for about 15 minutes.

Once he returned he was looking at me funny and acting more and more accusatory. He asked me again if there was anything else I wanted to tell him and then made a phone call. At this point I was getting a little nervous. I have nothing to hide but the way he was acting was very strange. While on the phone he kept asking the person on the other end questions and finally he said "No, it is 298, not 297!" Apparently the person with the 297 Social Security number was wanted for 3 felonies! After this was cleared up he gave them the order to do another background check. This time on the right person! Over the next 15 minutes he continued to go through my wallet and cameras and asked me everything from family information, where I worked, how long I've been doing photography (twice), why I had a tape measure in my bag, he went through every item in my wallet, and then told me that he was going to keep the film that was in my camera so they could develop it. I was told after 30 days I could contact them to get my film back IF everything check out ok. If not they would be contacting me!

The day has come when an innocent citizen can't do an innocuous activity in public without being harassed.

Let's give it up. The terrorists won.

Decided to catch "Stargate SG-1" on SciFi last night...
with the result that I missed (assuming Time-Warner picked up the Fox Sports Net Midwest feed last night, which I remember them saying they would) the Cardinals beating up on Milwaukee. However, keep in mind that it was Milwaukee, after all.

With the Cards mired 5 games behind in the NL Central, and 7 games behind in the wild card race, I fear it's going to be a bleak postseason this year. sigh However, last night my boy Albert [Pujols] hit his 42nd home run, which ties him with Barry Bonds. Frankly, I'd like to see Albert beat out Bonds this year; in fairness I should point out that I still haven't forgiven Bonds for beating McGwire's home run record so quickly (nothing against Bonds personally; I just wanted to see McGwire stay on top longer than he did. After all, look at how long Ruth and Maris got to hold the record... ).

Nothing for me to look forward to this season (I fear) until gets around to posting Puljol's stats for this season. I'll be curious; with the kind of year Albert's been having I'll bet that his Hall of Fame metrics get pushed over the "likely to be elected to the HoF" level.

An interesting incentive to get people to file claims in the Microsoft California class action...
From La Reg: Get overcharged by MS, win a free PC, says

Basically, if you file a claim, you get free Lindows software, and a lucky 10,000 claimants will win a free PC.

Erm, so why would you want to do this? Well, first take a look at the values involved. The settlement puts a $16 value on each Windows or Dos licence, $29 for Office, $5 for Word, Home Essentials or Works, and $26 for Excel. So three copies of Windows plus two of Excel bought between 1995 and 2001 gets you a whole $100 in vouchers from the settlement, anything else gets you less, and to what extent can you be bothered? The more people who can't be bothered the less Microsoft has to pay, argues's Michael Robertson, but if you can raise sufficient enthusiasm to file with, you'll at least get the Lindows software pile.

As I say, let's make that bastard Gates pay!!!


And what did I say about being glad not to be back in St. Louis?
I somehow managed to miss the news that those fools managed to finally pass a carry concealed law (actually, I noticed an article talking about criticism of Gov. Holden for having the balls to veto it, though the idiots in the General Assembly managed to come up with enough votes to override the veto; actually it was a really bad day for Holden, who managed to have three of his vetoes overriden (a new league record, apparently, that never having happened in the history of Missouri before)). I was interested in seeing this mention of Margo Green, who I knew briefly and very tangentially during the years I misspent practicing law in St. Louis (from Where Concealed Weapons Are Allowed Is To Be Decided):

The law firm of Green, Cordonnier and House in Clayton will soon have a new sign posted on their door. 'No Guns Allowed.' It's in response to Missouri's new concealed weapons law. Margo Green is a divorce attorney at the firm. "For me to think about posting a sign outside saying' No Guns Allowed' you kind of feel like you're back in the wild west, but that's what society has come to." Green says she thinks guns and the kinds of emotional issues she deals with are a bad mix. "I think as a divorce lawyer we deal with people that are highly emotional. And, in order to protect my staff here I think it's going to be a good idea to post a sign saying 'No Guns Allowed.'

And, Green is not alone. Businesses throughout the state are also considering how to deal with the new law. Concealed weapons will have to be checked at the door before going into any city owned or leased building. And, that could include elected officials too, if St. Louis Board of Alderman President, James Shrewsbury, gets his way. That's the idea behind a new bill he plans to introduce Friday. "There's no logical, rational reason for any elected official or any city employee other than a Marshall, a detective, or a police officer to carry a firearm. And given what happened in New York City several months ago I think the board of Alderman will act swiftly on this." Shrewsbury says he expects the measure to pass within a month or two.

I do hope that the members of the General Assembly will allow themselves to carry concealed weapons in the legislative chambers. Then, once a few heated debates turn into firefights, maybe those bastards will kill enough of themselves that some sensible lawmakers will get elected and repeal that ridiculous carry concealed law.

Then again, it'll probably never happen. The voters of Missouri obviously are so disappointed that the Lord gave them such small dicks that they feel the need to carry blue gun metal substitute dicks. sigh

When thinking of handgun controls or carry legislation, wander back in life and recall all the confrontations you have witnessed or been part of. Now ask yourself if any of those situations would have been better resolved had one or both parties a gun in their hand.
--Rack Jite

Ouch! Then there are days I can be glad I'm not back in St. Louis....
Pieces of Millenium Center Facade Fall. Of course, we have a lovely piece of drama (pedestrian almost taken out, but hears the piece of the facade break away and is able to dodge it by mere inches), ahd thankfully nobody was hurt. Not only that, but some law firm workers in the affected building got an unscheduled day off (improving the general quality of life by not having to slave for their wicked, evil masters. :-) ).

I don't recall this "mainstay at Sixth and Olive" either as the Millenium Center or as the Executive Building, though I'm sure that I've been by it hundreds of times during the years I worked downtown.

A big win for Linux? Go Tux!!!
From La Reg: Motor giant Ford to move to Linux

How much is $87 billion?
From and the Center for American Progress, via Michael Moore's newsletter:


If you can't get through this list without wanting to throw up, I'll understand. But pass it around anyway. This is the nail in the Iraq War's coffin for any sane, thinking individual, regardless of their political stripe (thanks to and the Center for American Progress)...

To get some perspective, here are some real-life comparisons about what $87 billion means:

$87 Billion Is More Than The Combined Total Of All State Budget Deficits In The United States.

The Bush administration proposed absolutely zero funds to help states deal with these deficits, despite the fact that their tax cuts drove down state revenues. [Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

$87 Billion Is Enough To Pay The 3.3 Million People Who Have Lost Jobs Under George W. Bush $26,363 Each!

The unemployment benefits extension passed by Congress at the beginning of this year provides zero benefits to "workers who exhausted their regular, state unemployment benefits and cannot find work." All told, two-thirds of unemployed workers have exhausted their benefits. [Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

$87 Billion Is More Than DOUBLE The Total Amount The Government Spends On Homeland Security.

The U.S. spends about $36 billion on homeland security. Yet, Sen. Warren Rudman (R-N.H.) wrote "America will fall approximately $98.4 billion short of meeting critical emergency responder needs" for homeland security without a funding increase. [Source: Council on Foreign Relations]

$87 Billion Is 87 Times The Amount The Federal Government Spends On After School Programs.

George W. Bush proposed a budget that reduces the $1 billion for after-school programs to $600 million -- cutting off about 475,000 children from the program. [Source: The Republican-dominated House Appropriations Committee]

$87 Billion Is More Than 10 Times What The Government Spends On All Environmental Protection.

The Bush administration requested just $7.6 billion for the entire Environmental Protection Agency. This included a 32 percent cut to water quality grants, a 6 percent reduction in enforcement staff, and a 50 percent cut to land acquisition and conservation. [Source: Natural Resources Defense Council]

There you go. In black and white. A few million of you will receive this letter. Please share the above with at least a half-dozen people today and tomorrow. I, like you, do not want to see another approval rating over 50%.

Who says Bush never learns anything?
According to Daniel Gross of Slate, he learned quite a bit from Enron. Like how to spend money without acknowledging it's spent:

I guess President Bush was paying attention during all those corporate scandals. After all, his latest budget strategy is pure Enron: If you leave $87 billion in spending out of the budget, the rest of your balance sheet will look a lot better—at least until the bill comes due. Investors learned this the hard way from Enron, which hid billions of dollars in liabilities on off-balance-sheet partnerships. The president has also been inspired by those companies that take "nonrecurring" charges against earnings for unforeseen, unplanned events—an acquisition, a plant closing, excess inventory—over and over again. Between 1999 and 2001, woebegone Motorola took such charges in eight straight quarters. While presidents have done this on a small scale for years, President Bush is using supplemental spending to fund his most cherished initiatives.


Spending is rising so rapidly largely thanks to the chicanery of supplemental budget requests, through which the president has proposed spending more than $150 billion on the war alone. Budget resolutions cap discretionary spending for a given year. So when needs arise midyear, Congress passes emergency or supplemental appropriations. But like Motorola's perennial charges, supplemental requests—which are theoretically one-time events—have emerged as a way for presidents (not just this one) and Congress to bust the budget while sticking to the projections they present to the public. In the 1990s, according to this CBO study, there were 19 supplemental appropriation laws—or about two per year. The annual totals ranged from $48.6 billion in 1991 to $4.5 billion in 1996, and the measures funded everything from the first Gulf War to relief from hurricanes, earthquakes, the Los Angeles riot, and the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.

Of course, it's difficult to calculate how much it will cost to respond to a sudden emergency or to a contingent event like a war. But not all "emergency" spending deals with unforeseen emergencies. Throughout the spring, as debate on the latest tax cut package heated up, the administration continued to act as if efforts in Iraq wouldn't require any more funds beyond what had already been requested for fiscal 2004. Would Congress have approved the tax cut if it actually had to pass an honest budget—one that raised discretionary spending by more than 10 percent just to pay for the war?


The process of exceeding spending caps with supplemental measures is a little like an overweight person going to a dietitian and dutifully agreeing to adhere to a strict daily intake of 1,800 calories in three meals—and then eating a supplemental cheese steak to feed the emergency hunger pangs that set in every afternoon. And then charging the food to his kid's credit card.

Thought for the Day:
The good Lord was good to me. He gave me a strong body, a good right arm, and a weak mind.
--Dizzy Dean

Monday, September 15, 2003

Some down home common sense from Texas, for a change...
To my mind, this is the Texan who should be in the White House. I realize that I shouldn't reprint the whole thing (copyright violation), but it's another one of those pieces which should get widest dissemination.

How dumb do they think we are?
By Molly Ivins
Creators Syndicate

Sigh. You write an article advocating what you think would be useful, constructive suggestions about Iraq, and you get an avalanche of right-wing reaction about "failure-mongers" and "nattering nabobs of negativism."

Bill Safire is back at the same old stand after all these years, de-nouncing "merchants of dismay" trying to justify their "decade of appeasement."

Great. Anybody who opposed this war in the first place was accused of lack of patriotism, and now anybody who points out that it's not going well is guilty of defeatism.

If you raise your hand and ask, "Where are the weapons of mass destruction that we were told were the reason for this war?," you're instructed to just Get Over It.

Well, I ain't gonna take it anymore. I am not shutting up for Bill O'Reilly or anyone else.

I opposed our unprovoked, unnecessary invasion of Iraq on the grounds that it would be a short, easy war followed by the peace from hell. I predicted that every terrorist in the Middle East would be drawn to Iraq like a magnet.

I was right, and I'm not going to apologize for it.

I also realize that the future in Iraq is a lot more important than any petty "I was right" vindication. I don't know if the glass in Iraq is half-empty or half-full, but what is clear is that the situation is deteriorating. That's why the Bush administration has changed course 180 degrees and is now asking for help from the United Nations.

But naturally, we're not supposed to mention that the administration has reversed itself -- no, no.

As Paul Wolfowitz, who now has all the credibility of Ken Lay, explained, the new U.N. resolution "didn't sort of emerge out of nowhere a few days ago. It's been on our agenda ever since the fall of Baghdad." He said the bombing of U.N. headquarters was "a breakthrough -- a sad one. The bombing, I think, changed the atmosphere in New York, and it looks like we can move forward in that area."

Right. The United Nations changed its position; we didn't change ours. How dumb do they think we are?

I am tired of being asked to swallow lies by this administration. For $87 billion bucks, the least we deserve is some candor. I want to know who was responsible for the whole weapons of mass destruction fiasco, and I want to see some accountability for it -- resignations and firings.

In May, President Bush said, "We found the weapons of mass destruction." No, we didn't.

Bush's entire speech Sunday night was devoted to Iraq as "the central front" of the war on terrorism.

The biggest bait-and-switch move of this whole administration has been to substitute Saddam Hussein for Osama bin Laden. Iraq had nothing to do with the acts of terrorism perpetrated against the United States. The real villains, both al Qaeda and the Taliban, are now regrouping in Pakistan and Afghanistan, while we're stuck in the quicksand in Iraq.

I am trying hard to be a responsible citizen here; I don't think the choice is between "staying the course" or "cut and run." I think we need to change course and be honest enough to admit it to ourselves and everybody else.

The security situation in Iraq is deteriorating because we had a poorly planned and badly botched postwar strategy. We need help, and we need to ask for it nicely.

The eeriest part about Bush's $87 billion request is that it may not be enough; $67 billion will go to the military and intelligence, leaving a relative pittance for actually rebuilding Iraq.

According to most experts, getting the lights and water back up, not to mention the oil industry, is crucial to the security situation.

Meanwhile, indications are that homeland security is still pretty much a pathetic shambles. With al Qaeda stirring around again, we might do some rethinking in that area as well.

I've been taking off my shoes at the airport to make us all safer, but don't you think we need to work on the ports, start screening container shipping and take a look at our chemical and nuke plants?

Makes me glad I got out of the Microsoft training business:
This from InfoWorld's Robert X. "Not the Real Bob" Cringely (TM):

Off-the-job training: Rumor has it Microsoft Learning (formerly Microsoft Training & Certification) has axed 30 workers, all involved in producing content. According to my spy, Microsoft fired all the creatives but kept the managers. The scuttlebutt has Bill & Co. moving content creation offshore, possibly to India, where Microsoft opened a support center in April. My spy asks, "Will MCSE [Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer] soon stand for Microsoft Curry Seasoning Expert?"

The Unreal Bob also gets the Groaner of the Day award for this one (pay close attention to the "title"):

The summer of my disc contents: The owner of an unnamed online adult video store says a DVD licensing group is trying "to SCO" him. attorneys for the DVD6C Licensing Agency (which includes AOL Time Warner, IBM, and Toshiba) have demanded proof that the discs he sells are covered under its DVD licensing agreement. Apparently the attorneys couldn't reach the makers of the videos, so they're going after the retailer instead, demanding royalties of 5 cents per disc. Sounds like the corporate types are trying to grab a piece of the action.

Online Microsoft complaint form:
Go to: and follow the link.

Come on, let's nail that bastard Gates, once and for all.


Kay report to be suppressed because they couldn't find a trace of WMD programs
Remember when the various members of the Bush misAdministration were on TV telling us how they were just sure that Saddam Hussein had chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons?

Well now, the same misAdministration's suppressing the report of the Iraq Survey Group, headed by David Kay, because.... [drum roll here]


Not even the slightest evidence that there were any.

Apparently, not even the slightest evidence of any programs to develop the damned things (forget about the actual weapons themselves).

The misAdministration must think that we'll just forget everything they told us before the war.

And the sad thing is, they may be right. Thank heaven the economy's tanking, or we'll never be rid of the bastards. Problem is that too many good people will have to suffer before we give Bush the boot.

Makes me wish I'd gone home last weekend...
But anyway: Happy birthday Washington University!!!

I'm just sorry I missed the party.

But here's the sobering part of the article:

Today, the university is spread over more than 2,200 acres on all of its sites, with more than 150 major buildings. Enrollment is more than 12,700 students, tuition is more than $28,000 per year and room and board adds another $9,000. [my emphasis]

When I went to Washington (Class of '79), I don't think my four years there (which I'm still paying off, along with my three years at Northwestern) cost $28,000 in total. How can anyone afford to go there anymore?

As I've said, I only need one reason....
but for those who think that nothing succeeds like excess *grin* here's Rhonda and Jane present: 525 Reasons to Dump Bush.

Still a few bugs in the system.
I was briefly surfing, and decided to go to the "Leonard's Favorite Stores" page to see what Amazon thought I was interested in reading today. By now, I've bought enough books at Amazon that they have a pretty good idea of what I like, and today's particular recommendation--War under Heaven: Pontiac, the Indian Nations, and the British Empire by Gregory Evans Dowd--wasn't at all a bad call (it's a bit outside the historical periods I normally focus on, but it looks rather interesting nonetheless).

What amused me though: Amazon has a system of "sponsored links"--based on the title you're looking at, the page for that title serves up a number of links that advertisers have paid them to push on to you. Obviously, it's based on a keyword system pinging on the appearance of certain keywords in the title of the book/record/etc. that you're looking at, but there's room for someone to go in and tweak it a bit. Under the heading "Customers interested in this title may also be interested in...", Amazon's sponsored link server served up--surely you guessed it--three (apparently) GM sponsored links relating to Pontiac automobiles.

Thought for the Day:
Life is like a B-movie. You don’t want to leave in the middle of it but you don’t want to see it again.
--Ted Turner

Sunday, September 14, 2003

A bit about the new digs.
For some reason, I don't put a lot of myself into the blog. Or rather I do, but I don't put a lot of personal stuff into the blog. But I'm tempted to mention my recent move, if for no other reason than to explain why I haven't been contributing to this very much.

Anyway, I had been living across the river in Marion, Arkansas for the last two and a half (or so) years. Nice little town; converting into a bedroom community for Greater Memphis, but still set out in the country a way--everyday I'd drive past cotton fields (or maybe winter wheat, soybeans, or other crops, depending on the time of year). While life there was pleasant, it wasn't exactly home for me; I'm much more an urban boy.

Anyway, for personal reasons I decided to move to an apartment in Midtown Memphis. I've taken a week or so to settle in, but so far everything is going well. I'm living in the Gilmore Tower, which is at the corner of McLean Boulevard and Madison Avenue here in Midtown. For the past week or so my dog, Joli, and I have been exploring the neighborhood, and so far I like everything I see.

Big plus: the Bar-B-Q Shop is within easy walking distance. The Bar-B-Q Shop advertises itself as "the best Bar-B-Q in Memphis", and given that a business's own puffery should be taken with a grain of salt, I have independent evidence (my own patronage at the place) that if it isn't the best in Memphis, it's certainly one of the top 3-5 contenders. Not like I've had a whole lot of barbecue in Memphis yet (something I'll have to do something about, since Memphis is one of barbecue's Holy Cities), but it's easily the best I've ever tasted. Better, even, than the barbecue I've had in Kansas City (though I've yet to make it to Arthur Bryants; until I've made it there I'm not making any pronouncements about Memphis barbecue vs. Kansas City barbecue).

Other pluses: within walking distance I have a good Mexican restaurant (Molly's), a number of bars and eateries (Applebee's, TGI Friday's, Memphis Pizza Cafe, Bosco's, both Zinnies), some good New Orleans based cuisine (61 On Teur), an excellent deli (forget the name, but I know it when I see it; right next to 61 On Teur), and a couple bookshop/coffeeshops (the Deliberate Literate on Union, and a place that I've passed on Madison a number of times but will have to try out shortly... well, when I have money to spend on books, which may be a while sigh).

Reminds me of what I've missed of city living. It's good to be back home.

Is Iraq the new Vietnam?
In an interesting article at Whiskey Bar, Billmon notes that "I've been going over the coalition casualty reports from Iraq, and I have to say, Operation Feed Halliburton may not be the next Vietnam, but it looks like it's already a lot closer to becoming the next Vietnam than I had realized. It would appear the U.S. Army is now caught in a classic war of attrition -- precisely the kind of war the Pentagon has tried to avoid for the past 30 years."

What strikes me as especially scary:

It's also important to remember that today's Army is a capital-intensive Army, which means a lot of it can't be run by unskilled labor. The amount of time and money it takes to recruit, train and equip a reasonably proficient combat soldier has grown considerably since Vietnam.

The payoff -- soldier for soldier -- is a more lethal force, but also a more leveraged force. Each individual cog in the machine is more important -- and harder to replace. So even a relatively modest attrition rate, sustained over a period of time, could raise hell with combat effectiveness.

And that's not including the impact of the constant attrition on the capital side of the ledger. The unexpectedly high tempo of operations is already beginning to wear down the war machines.

Finally, there's absolutely no guarantee the combat attrition rate in Iraq will stay as low as 4%, and many reasons to think it may go higher as the insurgents continue to refine their strategy and tactics.

We have to realize we don't have as many resources to spend.

Why isn't....
"Bubba Ho-Tep" being given a showing in Memphis? You'd think that a movie which casts Bruce Campbell as Elvis Presley would excite some degree of interest down here. sigh

Thought for the Day:
Captain Edmund Blackadder: Baldrick, what are you doing out there?
Private Baldrick: I'm carving something on this bullet sir.
Captain Edmund Blackadder: What are you carving?
Private Baldrick: I'm carving "Baldrick", sir.
Captain Edmund Blackadder: Why?
Private Baldrick: It's a cunning plan actually.
Captain Edmund Blackadder: Of course it is.
Private Baldrick: You see, you know they say that somewhere there's a bullet with your name on it?
Captain Edmund Blackadder: Yes?
Private Baldrick: Well, I thought if I owned the bullet with my name on it, I'd never get hit by it, 'cos I won't ever shoot myself.
Captain Edmund Blackadder: Oh, shame.
Private Baldrick: And, the chances of there being two bullets with my name on them are very small indeed.
Captain Edmund Blackadder: That's not the only thing around here that's "very small indeed". Your brain, for example, is so minute, Baldrick, that if a hungry cannibal cracked your head open there wouldn't be enough inside to cover a small water-biscuit.
--"Blackadder Goes Forth"

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Now I've seen everything...
As I was taking my dog for our pre-bedtime walk I beheld a sight I thought I'd never see as long as I live.

A stretch Hummer.

I am not joking; I'm not creative enough to make this shit up.

Thought for the Day:
"Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" was released on June 17, 1970, a day shy of my 28th birthday. The critic John Simon found it was "rather like a Grandma Moses illustration for a work by the Marquis de Sade." Vincent Canby wrote in the New York Times: "Any movie that Jacqueline Susann thinks would damage her reputation as a writer cannot be all bad."
--Roger Ebert

Friday, September 12, 2003

The New Big Growth Industry: Identity Theft
This week's column by Robert X. "The Real Bob" Cringely is downright terrifying....'nuff said.

Thought for the Day:
I will concede that Saudi Arabia is just about the most xenophobic place on earth with the possible exception of Southport, North Carolina.
--anonymous U.S. aircraft maintenance contractor, on the 'net

Thursday, September 11, 2003

This bothers me....
From today's Progressive Review mailing...

NY POST PAGE SIX - The last thing the Clintons want is for a Democrat from Arkansas to defeat Bush next year," says our spy about the ex-general who is expected to announce his candidacy next month. . . Our source adds, "The Clinton master plan is for a Hillary candidacy in 2008 and they will subtly sabotage the Democratic candidate in 2004.That's why they insist on keeping their personal operative, Terry McAuliffe, in charge of the Democratic committee."

The thing is, the implication of this is that the last thing that the Clintons want is any Democrat to defeat Bush next year. Are Bill and Hillary really that Machiavellian? And do they hate the American people that much?

How do you tell when an RIAA spokesdroid is lying? When his/her lips move...
RIAA associates file sharing with child porn.

Jeez.... What next? Blindness and hairy palms?

And yet another threat to Micro$oft's evil hegemony...
From La Reg: Open Source Windows replacement, MPEG coming out of the East

The Japan news daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun last week revealed that China, Japan, and Korea are planning to jointly develop a new open-source operating system aimed at replacing Microsoft's Windows, something that the Linux community has been trying to do for years. Given that most of the major Japanese firms feel enslaved in their PC efforts by Windows and that the Japanese electronics firms have virtually pledged their future to some form of embedded Linux, it is likely that the outcome will be Linux derived.

Specifics of the deal will be hammered in private by the end of 2003 after initial discussions began back in March when an inaugural meeting was attended by more than 100 software engineers from the three countries.

Perhaps significantly the Far Eastern Bloc can do what no anti-trust suit has so far managed and re-introduce innovation at the PC level, where constant bundling activities by Microsoft have held it at bay. Japanese electronics firms such as Matsushita, Sony and Toshiba are used to establishing standards that leave a level playing field, and lets them build their own product differentiation at a higher level

I'd like to see Sony get in on this. It's not a secret that the CEO of Sony hates Gates's guts, and would do anything to gut Microsoft like a trout. I wish them luck....

Something to think about, here...
Bush's Many Miscalculations, by Fred Kaplan


Painful as it is to recall those planes smashing into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon two years ago this week, it's nearly as heartbreaking to think back on the moment of nascent harmony that ticked in the wake of the attack—until President Bush decided to reject the opportunity that History thrust before him.

Remember? The French newspaper
Le Monde, never one for trans-Atlantic sentimentalism, proclaimed, "We are all Americans." The band outside Buckingham Palace played "The Star-Spangled Banner" during a changing of the guard, as thousands of Londoners tearfully waved American flags. Most significant, the European leaders of NATO, for the first time in the organization's history, invoked Article 5 of its charter, calling on its 19 member-nations to treat the attack on America as an attack on them all—a particularly moving gesture, as Article 5 had been intended to guarantee American retaliation against an attack on Europe.

But the Bush administration brushed aside these supportive gestures—and that may loom as the greatest tragedy of Sept. 11, apart from the tolls taken by the attack itself.

Ever since the crumbling of the Soviet Union, foreign-policy specialists had been wondering how to create a new world order for an era that lacked a common enemy. Now, suddenly, here was that enemy. And here was a moment when the world viewed America with more empathy than it had in the past half-century. An American leader could have taken advantage of that moment and reached out to the world, forged new alliances, strengthened old ones, and laid the foundations of a new, broad-based system of international security for the post-Cold War era—much as Harry Truman and George Marshall had done in the months and years following World War II.

But George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Condoleezza Rice did not take that path.


As late as a year ago, around the time of the attack's first anniversary, the bloom had not yet entirely worn off. On Sept. 8, 2002, the French president, Jacques Chirac, repeated the words of
Le Monde as if they were his own—"We are all Americans"—and added that these feelings "haven't disappeared," that "when the chips are down, the French and Americans have always stood together and have never failed to be there for one another."

Two months later NATO held a summit in Prague, mainly to expand its membership to include several nations of the former Warsaw Pact, but also to devise what planning documents called "a comprehensive package of measures" to combat terrorism and other threats. Among these measures would be the creation of a "NATO Response Force"—the documents even envisioned an acronym, the "NRF"—consisting of "a technologically advanced, flexible, deployable, interoperable, and sustainable force … ready to move quickly to wherever needed, as decided by the [NATO] Council."

A week before the Prague Summit, Lord George Robertson, NATO's secretary-general, gave a glowing speech about its prospects to the NATO parliamentary assembly in Istanbul. "Prague," he said, would "give us the chance to demonstrate that not only our security environment has changed, but that NATO has changed with it." The summit would confirm that NATO was becoming "the focal point" for the fight against terrorism. And it would "debunk the myth that has crept into the trans-Atlantic relationship after 9/11—the myth that the US and its Allies are no longer able or willing to cooperate as a military team. … It will demonstrate that Europe and America are on the same wavelength—both mentally and militarily."

Of course, the summit did no such thing. Bush's delegates used it only as a vehicle to rally support for the impending war against Iraq. Rumsfeld exacerbated the growing rift by going so far as to tout the new members of the alliance—the small nations of the former Soviet empire, whose leaders tended to endorse the war—over the traditional and much larger Western allies, whose leaders tended to oppose it.

The centrist
Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin editorialized, "Rarely has a NATO summit been dominated by the United States as much as in Prague." De Financieel-Economische Tijd of Brussels reported, "More and more, the Americans view NATO as a useful toolbox," choosing their partners "as a function of their loyalty and obedience."

By the summer of 2003, it could fairly be said that most of the world hated the United States, or at least feared the current U.S. government. A particularly disturbing poll commissioned by the BBC revealed that the vast majority of Jordanians and Indonesians consider the United States more dangerous than al-Qaida. A majority in India, Russia, South Korea, and Brazil see us as more dangerous than Iran. An international poll by the Pew Research Center reported that over 70 percent of citizens in such generally friendly countries as Spain, France, Russia, and South Korea think the United States doesn't take into account the interests of others.

Two years ago, according to the Pew survey, three-quarters of Indonesians had a positive view of America; now, more than four-fifths have a
negative view. In the summer of 2002, two-thirds of French and Germans viewed America favorably; now the share has dropped to less than half. Even support for America's war on terrorism—a cause that should transcend politics—has dropped in France, Germany, and Russia from more than 70 percent a year ago to less than 60 percent now.

I forget if it was Bertrand Russell who originally said this, or if he was quoting someone else, but he once voiced the comment that by definition, the electorate in a democracy had to be more stupid than the elected leaders, since no matter how stupid the leader was, the electorate had to be more stupid to elect him/her.

Well, hard to believe that the majority of the Supreme Court (the only relevant electorate in the 2000 election) is as stupid as George W. Bush, much less more stupid, but that appears to be the case. Let's hope that the American public gets its act together and decides to depose Bush next year.

Thought for the Day:
This abysmal lack of quality is particularly apparent in the closest thing mankind has created to the Borg collective conscious, the Internet. I truly believe that we should start punishing dangerous criminals by strapping them into a chair, clipping open their eyes ala "Clockwork Orange", and forcing them to surf through the "Hello Kitty" webring for two hours every day. Believe me, they'll be asking to trade up to the electric chair inside of a month.
--A.J. Axline

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Watching the Cardinals play the Rockies (Time-Warner decided to pick up the Fox Sports Net Midwest feed from St. Louis tonight), and Albert Pujols just hit his 40th homer of this season.

Damn, the more I see this boy play, the more I enjoy it. He's an absolute Hall of Famer. No question of it in my mind (as long as he stays healthy).

Good idea, but I'm not going to do it.
I recieved this from the Progressive Review newsletter today (9/10/2003):


[Your editor received the following and plans to follow to follow the instructions by leaving one copy of each his books at random locations. We encourage others to leave a book for someone else to read in memory of September 11]

On Sept. 11th, join a "poetical happening" and free a book!

Because a book is a symbol of freedom, sharing and tolerance.

On Sept. 11th, 2003, take a book which is important for you, a book that has changed your vision on the world, write in it a dedication, a few words, an address, or a drawing, and free it!

Leave it on a roadside bench, a bus stop or in a cafe making it available for any unknown reader!

In this way Sept. 11th will be not only an anniversary of tragedy. Together let us affect this global sorrow with creative and generous action!

A general mobilization from Bruxelles, Paris, Florence, San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, New York, Seattle, Whidbey Island and more! Almost all over the world readers, artists, writers, poets, and publishers of vision and heart will free books that are important for them on Thursday Sept. 11th 2003.

I like the idea, but I'm not going to do it. The book that is probably most important to me in terms of my philosophical and personal development is Walter Kaufmann's Critique of Philosophy and Religion, which is the book which finally pushed me off the fence of non-Christian "unitarian" theism into outright atheism (ok, agnostic atheism, but hey, it crushed my belief, which is what counts). Leave a copy of that in Memphis? No thanks, I'm not going to be accessory to a book burning....

Makes you stop and think...
According to an article in the Washington Post, Bush's spending for the Iraq war exceeds the cost (adjusted for inflation) of a number of our wars combined, and is about to match or exceed the inflation-adjusted cost of World War I:

With $166 billion spent or requested, Bush's war spending in 2003 and 2004 already exceeds the inflation-adjusted costs of the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Spanish American War and the Persian Gulf War combined, according to a study by Yale University economist William D. Nordhaus. The Iraq war approaches the $191 billion inflation-adjusted cost of World War I.

But even more depressing, from my perspective:

To put it in perspective, Bush hopes to spend more in Iraq and Afghanistan than all 50 states say they need -- $78 billion -- to finance the budget shortfalls they anticipate for 2004.

The request is higher than the $74 billion the Defense Department plans to spend on all new weapons purchases next year, and higher than the $29.5 billion the Education Department hopes to spend on elementary and secondary education plus the $41.3 billion the administration plans to spend to defend the homeland.

We had no right to initiate to change governments in Baghdad when we have such a need to change the government in Washington first.

SCO v. Linux: some straight talk
An open letter to SCO Linux licensees.

For a start, if you are using Linux and it turns out to be illegal, it is like reading a photocopied book. Reading it is not illegal - it was the copying and distribution that was illegal.

And that's not my argument, that's the very well informed legal opinion of Eben Moglen, a professor at Columbia Law School and general counsel for the Free Software Foundation.

In Moglen's recent paper,
Questioning SCO: A Hard Look at Nebulous Claims, he writes: "the Copyright Act doesn't grant the copyright holder the exclusive right to use the work; that would vitiate the basic idea of copyright. . . . Software users are sometimes confused by the prevailing tendency to present software products with contracts under shrink-wrap; in order to use the software one has to accept a contract from the manufacturer. But that's not because copyright law requires such a licence. This is why lawsuits of the form that SCO appears to be threatening - against users of copyrighted works for infringement damages - do not actually happen."

And Moglen is not alone with this opinion. Lawrence Rosen, general counsel for the Open Source Initiative, writes in his paper
Q&A re: SCO vs. IBM: "Assume the very worst: Assume SCO wins its case against IBM and IBM writes a big [cheque] for damages. Assume SCO proves that some portion of Linux is a copy or derivative work of its trade secret software. Assume SCO gets an injunction to prevent anyone from using any version of Linux containing infringing code. . . . Long before that happens there will be a new open source version of Linux omitting any SCO code. . . . The SCO vs IBM lawsuit is not likely to have any real impact on Linux users. It is a battle of big companies that will be resolved in due course by the court, perhaps by the payment of money. In the meantime, and forever, Linux is available for free."

Civilization arrives in Tennessee
Tennessee to get a large multistate lottery (either Mega Millions or Powerball) by next July.

I still don't know why they don't bite the bullet and get an income tax, then redistribute the tax burden a bit more fairly (i.e., lower the sales and property taxes a bit).

RIAA's masculinity reaffirmed
Music industry dick is now as large as anyone else's!

Honestly, I hope they're proud. The first settlement of an RIAA lawsuit against a file sharer is for a suit against a 12 year old girl.

I hope this comes back to bite the music industry in the ass.

Thought for the Day:
We never thought we'd hear a real coach for a real major-league baseball team utter this sentence, but Mickey Hatcher really did say: "I don't think we use The Monkey enough."
--Jayson Stark [, on the Anaheim "Rally Monkey"]

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Why I hate being forced offline:
While I was moving, Tony Steidler-Dennison had great article in Uptime about the Linux desktop, which said a lot of sensible things about whether or not Linux is truly "ready for prime time" for the non-techie user. Of course, Tony had to write this one when I wasn't able to read it. sigh

Hooray, hooray... time to rejoice
After spending an hour (if I count the 10 minutes I took to walk Joli, which I do, since I was close enough to let the guy in if he showed up) waiting in vain for the Time-Warner rep to come and configure Road Runner for me, I spent an hour on the phone after work with Road Runner tech support. The bottom line: we have my cable connection working now, and I'm posting this, the first blog entry from my new Midtown Memphis apartment.

Sometimes life is good. Now, to catch up on all the crap I missed while offline...

I got another email yesterday...
from my good friend Mrs. Mariam Abacha. For some reason Mrs. Abacha, the widow of former Nigerian strongman Sani Abacha, has been soliciting my assistance getting a large sum of money moved from Nigeria to the U.S. I'm really gratified to see that despite the economic turmoil in the world today, Mariam is doing just fine financially. This time she's asking for my assistance in moving $180 million, which is the most that she's ever asked me to help her with.

Meanwhile the 419 scam spreads; just today I've received a variant claiming to be from the brother of a late president of South Korea....

SCO v. Everyone Else in the Linux World: the waters keep getting deeper and muddier
According to an article in The Age (Australia), who knows where various bits of System V code originated?

Greg Rose raised the query during a forum discussion on "Who owns Unix" at the ongoing annual Australian UNIX and Open Systems User Group. SCO Group regional general manager for Australia and New Zealand, Kieran O'Shaughnessy, was on the panel as were AUUG president Greg Lehey and Open Source Victoria founder Con Zymaris.

Said Rose: "I was in the University of New South Wales way back in the '70s and we wrote code and contributed to the Berkeley Software Distribution. Later on, I found that some of my code had made its way into Sys V Unix. The attribution had been removed."


"I don't mind it at all. But this raises the possibiliy that code of that vintage - stuff written by people like Ian Johnson and Chris Maltby - has also made its way thither. There's no credit, and nobody has signed licences to give it away. In fact, I'm pretty sure I saw my own code in Sys V in 1984," he said.

"This raises a big question about SCO's claims," said Rose. "They may well be guilty of the very same thing which they are accusing others of - using code which does not belong to them."


Steve Jenkin, a veteran Unix sysadmin who is also attending the AUUG conference and was a student at the UNSW in 1977, said a lot of the code which went into 2BSD had come from the UNSW. "About 60 percent of the code is from UNSW," he said. "But when (the University of California at) Berkeley started coordinating all efforts at development, the copyright notices were taken out and replaced by their notices."

Jenkin said the very first USENIX conference was literally one where everyone brought in their own contributions on tape and then put then whole lot together. "If you go into copyrights as far as Sys V is concerned, it's a terribly tangled mess," he said.

Interesting fact here...
A RAND study notes that in order to put the same effort (in terms of numbers of troops) into keeping peace in Iraq as we did in Kosovo (one of the more successful efforts we've done in recent history), we'd have to commit 494,000 troops now, rising to 526,000 troops by 2005. The problem? There are only about 480,000 troops in the entire United States Army right now.

Are you perhaps getting the feeling that arithmetic wasn't exactly the administration's best subject back in grade school?

Thought for the Day:
Yet O'Reilly, like many other people, clings to the fantasy that he is a stiff among the swells. He plays this chord repeatedly in the book, a potpourri of anecdotes and opinions about life in general and his in particular. He had a very strange experience as a graduate student at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government (which let the likes of Bill O'Reilly through its ivy-covered gates, he is careful to note, "in an effort to bring all sorts of people together"). Other Kennedy School students, he says, insisted on being called by three names, none of which could be "Vinny, Stevie, or Serge." Their "clothing was understated but top quality... and their rooms hinted of exotic vacations and sprawling family property. Winter Skiing in Grindelwald? No problem." They tried to be nice, but Bill was nevertheless humiliated, in a Thai restaurant, to be "the only one who didn't know how to order my meal in Thai." I should explain this last one to those who may not have been aware that Thai is the lingua franca of the American WASP upper class. The explanation is simple. American Jewish parents only one or two generations off the boat often spoke in Yiddish when they didn't want their children to understand. Italian-Americans used Italian, and so on. But WASPs only had English. (They tried Latin, but tended to forget the declensions after the second martini.) So they adopted Thai, which they use in front of the servants and the O'Reillys of the world as well. (At least it sounds like Thai after the second martini.) When they turn 18, upper-class children attend a secret Thai language school, disguised as a ski resort, in Grindelwald.
--Michael Kinsley [on Fox News Net fool Bill O'Reilly]

Monday, September 08, 2003

Not having my home Internet connection sucks....
and explains why I've not updated this thing since Wednesday morning. Supposedly, Time-Warner is on the case, and things should be online by tomorrow afternoon. We hope.

Thought for the Day:
The universe is a strange and wondrous place. The truth is quite odd enough to need no help from pseudoscientific charlatans.
--Richard Dawkins

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Thought for the day:
There are 10 kinds of people in the world: those who understand binary and those who don't.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Political humor
Don't know if the below quoted lines were really said by the individuals they're attributed to (for example, the alleged Bill Maher quote is, to the best of my knowledge, a variant of a line first said by Molly Ivins when she was describing Pat Buchanan's keynote address at the 1996 Republican National convention), but what the hell, they are good lines. For the most part.

"Finally, a candidate who can explain the Bush administration's positions on civil liberties in the original German."
-- Bill Maher, on Schwarzenegger running for Governor.

"President Bush is supporting Arnold but a lot of Republicans are not, because he is actually quite liberal. Karl Rove said if his father wasn't a Nazi, he wouldn't have any credibility with conservatives at all."
-- Bill Maher

"They're saying Arnold will get 95% of the vote. At least according to his brother, Jeb Schwarzenegger."
-- Craig Kilborn

"President Bush has been silent on Schwarzenegger. Of course, he can't pronounce Schwarzenegger."
-- David Letterman

"Here's how bad California looks to the rest of the country. People in Florida are laughing at us."
-- Jay Leno

"Well, we're all excited because President Bush has started his 35-day vacation. He's down there in Crawford, Texas and on the first day of his vacation he went fishing. He didn't find any fish but he believes they're there and that his intelligence is accurate."
-- David Letterman

"The United States is putting together a Constitution now for Iraq. Why don't we just give them ours? It's served us well for 200 years, and we don't appear to be using it anymore, so what the hell?"
-- Jay Leno

"President Bush held his first full press conference in over 5 months this week. He announced that the war on terrorism is continuing, much, much more work needs to be done on the economy, and Saddam Hussein has not yet been captured. And then he said, 'I'm going on vacation for a month.'"
-- Jay Leno

"President Bush is leaving to go to Crawford, Texas, for a 35-day working vacation. This should go over big with all the people taking a can't-get-work vacation."
-- David Letterman

"The White House says that the vacation in Texas will give President Bush the chance to unwind. My question is, when does the guy wind?"
-- David Letterman

"President Bush's economic team is now on their jobs and growth bus tour all across America. I think the only job they created so far is for the guy driving the bus."
-- Jay Leno

"President Bush has refused to declassify portions of the congressional 9/11 reports about the Saudis, because he says it will help the enemy. Not Al Qaeda, the Democrats."
-- Jay Leno

Why I can't wait to be moved...
and return more regularly to the blogosphere. Somehow, I missed this piece of info. This gem is from Baghdad Burning:

Today, September 1, 2003, is an important day. Ahmad Al-Chalabi has finally achieved the epitome of his political aspirations. All the years of embezzlement, conniving, and scheming have paid off: he is the current rotating president. He has officially begun his ‘presidential term’.

To be quite honest, I’ve been waiting for this. I watch all his interviews and read any article I can get, in an attempt to comprehend what hidden charms, or buried astuteness, made the Pentagon decide to so diligently push him forth as a potential leader. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say he was some sort of elaborate, inside joke in Washington: “We’re blighted with Bush- you deserve no better.”

For the record, Baghdad Burning (or the Riverbend blog, as it's sometimes known after its URL: purports to be the blog of an Iraqi (I think a resident of Baghdad, though I've not paid enough attention to it, being entirely preoccupied by my own problems and opportunities right now). Some folks have expressed a bit of skepticism about that, though (claiming that Riverbend's command of English and his/her prose style is too good (better than a lot of native English speakers, for sure)). Just so you've been warned. Read it and decide for yourself.

Been a long, long time....
since I cited The Register here. According to a story in La Reg this morning, August, 2003 has been the worst year ever for viruses/worms. Having lived through the nightmare, I believe it completely.

Thought for the Day:
Some people just have the knack of being annoying and will use whatever implement is at hand to achieve that goal.
--Carlton Vogt

Monday, September 01, 2003

Life is in a bit of turmoil right now...
Between the start of the school year, the ravages of various worms and viruses, and the need to find a new apartment, I've had little time to contribute to this continuing saga. However, it's looking like the light is at the end of the tunnel. I've got my new apartment, and the start ot the year projects are getting done. Probably the posts will be sporadic until I get settled in my new place. Bear with me until then.

Thought for the Day:
Third, a qualm about the method of argument used by apologists. I often have the feeling that apologists, whether scholarly or popular, are willing to use any argument no matter how dubious as long as it stands a chance of convincing an unbeliever. Whatever the evidence might suggest in and of itself, the apologist's faith make him subconsciously assume that the truest interpretation of the facts must be the one which best fits his convictions. However, he proceeds to offer this interpretation as the one which makes the best inductive sense of the facts themselves. This ground-shifting no doubt goes unnoticed by the apologists themselves, who have sincerely good intentions.
--Robert M. Price