Talking Points Memo sums up the inconsistencies mind-boggling dishonesty of the Bush Administration's economic claims as adroitly as I've ever seen:
The Bush administration promised their fiscal policy wouldn't lead to deficits. When it did they made excuses and said it wouldn't be for long. Now that the deficits are huge and there as far as the eye can see, they say deficits never really mattered in the first place. Bad policy, bad character, and eventually -- one has to assume and hope -- bad politics.
Don't you hate it when you're planning a wedding, and one of you wants it outdoors and the other wants it in a church? Well, these fine folks have the perfect solution: the world's only inflatable cathedral! You pick the location, they put a church there for you. I wonder if it converts into a moonwalk for a fun activity at the reception...
Despite living in Indianapolis, I haven't really followed college basketball lately. I'm gratified to learn, however, that my alma mater is doing really well with former UK coach Rick Pitino at the helm.
GREENVILLE, N.C. -- Louisville coach Rick Pitino has preached the importance of defense to his players. It's obvious they're listening. [Ed.: The latter fact alone is a refreshing change, as one of my frustrations with the latter years of coach Denny Crum's tenure was hisapparent inability to motivate his team...but that's a rant for another time.]
Marvin Stone had 23 points and nine rebounds, and Reece Gaines added 22 points as (No. 18 ESPN/USA Today, No. 15 AP) Louisville used its fullcourt pressure to beat East Carolina 87-70 on Thursday night. [Ed.: Great googly moogly! They're #15?!]
The Cardinals (11-1, 3-0 Conference USA) won their 10th straight and are off to their best start since the 1996-97 season. It was also their fourth road win, already surpassing last season's three.
They played a terrific all-around game, shooting 58 percent and moving the ball well on offense while using their suffocating defense to shut down the Pirates.
Stone and Gaines combined to shoot 18-for-23 from the floor. Ten players scored for the Cardinals, who committed only nine turnovers.
"Our team played a great game at both ends,'' Pitino said. "We're very excited about this win. It's not an easy place to come into and we played dominating basketball.''
Today promises to be another slow day, blogging-wise; there are several projects I'm trying to finish up before the weekend. Today's Washington Post editorial page alone has several things I'd like to comment on, and I haven't even touched my blogroll, but those may have to wait until lunchtime at least.
There are plenty of things to criticize about the University of Michigan's admissiosn policies, but why is the President calling it a "quota system" when it's really, really, really not a quota system. If Michigan had established, say, a fixed number of black students (a "quota," as it were) to be admitted each year, then that would be a quota system. That's just what quota means. Wouldn't it be possible for this administration to make an honest argument once? Aren't conservatives embarrassed by the fact that their president never makes one?
Over the objections of their own ethics committee chairman, the leadership significantly weakened the "gift ban" that Republicans had adopted with much self-congratulatory fanfare after winning control of the House eight years ago.
Once again lobbyists will be permitted to send catered meals, worth up to $50 per person, to members and staff working late. House leaders suggested that their only concern is for their hardworking young employees; the change will allow "low-paid staff" to "eat pizza ethically." What a relief! But $50 a head can buy a lot of toppings. And unlike a business lunch, which at least has the veneer of offering a chance to exchange information, these corporate meals on wheels are designed for a single purpose: to curry favor. The Post's Juliet Eilperin last year recounted the case of a lobbying firm representing drug companies that sent dinner to the speaker's office as the House worked late on a prescription drug bill; many more such episodes go undisclosed. Some Hill offices have even been known to phone K Street when the hunger pangs hit.
A second change sounds benign but may be even more pernicious, as it restores the ability of lobbyists and lawmakers to cavort together at lavish resorts. This is the kind of practice that led to the adoption of the gift rule in the first place. Members, who in any case still had ample opportunity for subsidized travel, now will be free to accept all-expenses-paid trips to charitable events such as golf and tennis tournaments, so long as the charity pays. Again, the leaders cloak their retreat in piety: Who could be against helping out a worthy cause? But the new exception is so broadly worded that special interests will be free to earmark charitable donations to pay for a member's travel and lodging. The lobbyist can then enjoy both the tax deduction and the pleasure of the lawmaker's company on the links, while the member will know full well who is footing the bill.
I didn't get around to commenting on the brewing dust-up over the allocation of Senate committee funding and office space in the closely-divided chamber. At long last rediscovering their collective spine, Democrats promised troublt for the GOP unless the latter agreed to the same allocations they enjoyed when the split was 51-49 in the Democrats' favor. This morning the GOP agreed to the arrangement, paving the way for the Republicans to attempt to enact their agenda.
This exhibition-round victory for the Dems is significant, though, in that it presages stiff opposition to the GOP's hopes to act as if they enjoyed an overwhelming mandate. Folk might whine about obstructionism," but by this time it's pretty clear that the public is quite comfortable with divided government, thank you, with plenty of skepticism of everyone's agenda to go around.
This brouhaha raises the interesting question of, now that the precendent has been twice cast aside, just when it might be re-invoked. For example, what if the Democrats gain a 52-48 majority in 2004? Or the GOP a ? Or would Congress eventually decide it's comfortable with a more balanced distribution of resources? I'd expect we won't see a return to the old system until one party obtains a filibuster-proof majority (not necessarily 60-40, if support on either side is wobbly enough).
The Supreme Court today decided a landmark copyright case in favor of artists, writers and the entertainment industry, upholding a 1998 federal law that extended the life of copyrights by 20 years.
A loose coalition of independent scholars, publishers and Internet archivists had argued that, by lengthening existing copyrights, the law, known as the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act in honor of the late singer-congressman, effectively made those copyrights perpetual--in violation of the constitutional provision that says Congress may spur intellectual productivity by granting copyrights for "limited times."
But by a vote of 7-2, the court held that Congress enjoys essentially unfettered power to determine the length of copyrights, as long as they are for some specified period. Congress had a number of good reasons to pass the Bono Act, including encouraging more creative activity and harmonizing U.S. and European intellectual property law, the court said, and it is not up to the judiciary to second-guess such policy judgments.
I've always opposed the provisions of the Copyright Term Extension Act; its passage amounted to depriving US citizens of material that would have been in the public domain to the benifit of parties that either have little to do with a work's creation, or would have enjoyed decades of opportunity to profit from it. However, the SCOTUS decision is correct--the Constitution gives Congress to make these decisions. The proper venue for fighting this reprehensible legislation is not through the courts but in Congress. Congresscritters should be encouraged to repeal this law, and those responsible for its passage should have the fact that they place corporate interest above the public interest trumpeted far and wide.
Update:Matthew Yglesias agrees: "It's pretty clear that the law in question was terrible public policy, but the lawsuit on the subject strikes me as an excellent example of a good policy initiative casting about for a legal rationale."
The Republican ticket is a lock. Bush has matured into a masterful and commanding leader, and Dick Cheney is a widely respected policy heavyweight who has become the most active Vice President in American history. Combine this with high approval ratings, an untouchable war chest, a friendly Congress and an upcoming romp to victory in Iraq, and you've got an unbeatable combination for four more years ... and beyond!
Or do you? I remember the election, and the thing that struck me, and most of the voting public, about Dubya, wasn't that he was a "masterful leader" so much as that he was an "embarrassing fool". A cartoonish, empty-headed serial idiot with a resume made up entirely of draft dodging, tequila shots, and gifts from daddy and a political platform composed entirely of lies, impossible promises, and stunningly, shockingly, record-breakingly empty rhetoric. And don't tell me that this is some liberal propaganda - I watched the debates, I watched every step of the way, I watched you babbling on with a smirk on your face like some 4th grader giving the class his book report on a book he didn't even read. Every time you spoke it was a breakthrough in the field of stupidity, opening up unexplored vistas of idiocy beyond anyone's wildest imaginings. You don't even read the paper, you don't even have a single clue what's going on in the world, and you don't even [bleep]ing care. Knowing who is in charge of Pakistan isn't like knowing the square root of pi - it's in the paper every day, it's not like some outrageously esoteric thing that only super big nerds know about. If you are going to be President, it’s something you might want to look in to.
...But you know what? Stupid's not a passing thing. Stupid's not some phase in life, like when you were really into MC Hammer or when you abused alcohol and cocaine for twenty years, which you suddenly recover from and no one is supposed to talk about anymore. Stupid's forever, my friend, and you can't get away from it. Stupid sticks. Stupid shows.
The first lesson is that linkrot is incredibly rapid. The second lesson is that it thus becomes critically important not just to link but to quote--and to quote extensively. The third lesson is that not even fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency can defeat linkrot. If you want your links to be worth anything in two, three, or five years, download *all* the pages you're linking to to your hard disk.
I've been writing this blog for less than a year, and I've already noticed link rot, especially among the news sources I cite. Often, as the essay states, the content still exists but is much more difficult to reach. Earlier I decided against downloading everything--although I do save much--but I'm reconsidering.
It's also a sobering reminder that we're hardly living in a color-blind society. The Administration may well have its reasons for opposing affirmative action, but to paraphrase an earlier GOP mantra, I don't see them offering any alternative plans.
Seriously, folks, cutting taxes may be all well and good if you're really going to cut spending along with it. (And yes, a case coul be made for running a temporary deficit during a recession.) But the plain fact is that spending hasn't decreased at all under Bush II, in part because of the so-called War on Terror, and the coming fracas with Iraq is going to carry a big price tag (even if the White House did revise the numbers downward), most of which the US gets to pay by itself this time. The bottom line, so to speak, is that however much the Administration talks up how important it thinks these things are, it has not the slightest intention of paying for them.
Cutting government revenue while increasing government spending is a recipe for massive government debt, and those bills are going to come due someday--it isn't free money. The dishonesty of Bush's economic plans are self-evident.
Democratic Veteran has it right: "Borrow and Spend, the conservative philosophy for the 21st Century, brought to you by your friendly Credit-Card Conservatives."
I certainly agree that North Korea giving up its nuclear ambitions is a vital US interest, and I applaud the US action. Given that this crisis situation erupted in October, it seems to me, though, that the Bush administration could have avoided the collateral damage to US credibility inflicted by its evident lack of a coherent policy. And hardline rhetoric hardly enhances US prestige when it proves hollow.
As Kevin Drum put it, "The Bushies sure have had a steady hand on the tiller during this whole Korea deal, haven't they? Remember when Winston Churchill said: "We will never parley; we will never negotiate with Hitler or any of his gang. We shall fight him by land; we shall fight him by sea; we shall fight him in the air, until, with God's help, we have rid the earth of his shadow and liberated its people from his yoke." See, the difference is that he actually meant it. But with the Bushies it's always just about playacting, and someday it's going to catch up to them."
Last week, Republican senators had a sit-down with White house Chief of Staff Andrew Card for a beginning-of-the-session "retreat." Several senior Republicans used the occasion to put Card on notice about their unhappiness with some Bush administration actions. Here's Robert Novak in the Chicago Sun-Times:
...they complained bitterly of arrogance by the Bush administration, especially the Pentagon, in treatment of Congress along the road to war.
Two years of growing discontent boiled over during the closed-door meeting at the Library of Congress. White House chief of staff Andrew Card was there to hear grievances from President Bush's Senate base that it is ignored and insulted by the administration, particularly by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, in preparing for war against Iraq. Recital of complaints began with Sen. John Warner, a pillar of the Senate GOP establishment.
This is a disconnected time in Washington. Republican senators appreciate that they have returned to majority status thanks to George W. Bush's bold midterm election strategy and his popularity leading the war against terrorism. But their unease about a divided administration on the brink of attacking Iraq is deepened because they are neither consulted nor informed about war plans.
...Warner had his colleagues' attention when he addressed Card. ''I will not tolerate,'' he boomed, ''a continuation of what's been going on the last two years.'' He cited cavalier treatment that denies information even to the venerable top Senate Republican on Armed Services.
Then there's this juicy bit:
Sen. Kit Bond of Missouri next got up to tell Card that the administration had better put out more information justifying military action against Iraq as part of the war against terrorism. ''What is the connection between Iraq and al-Qaida?'' Bond asked. ''Don't worry,'' replied Card, indicating the information would come along.
I can't believe I'm the first to think of this idea--it seems elementary spycraft within the reach of anyone who's read a Tom Clancy novel. Now, maybe there's a reason this plan wouldn't work, but absent such a suggestion, one could draw the conclusion that the Administration could provide the inspectors with some gold- (or at least bronze-) plated intelligence, yet for some reason chooses not to.
Another reasonable conclusion, of course, could be that the Administration doesn't really have the evidence it says it has.
Now, when folks like me and anna use a phrase like "burden of proof" or "reasonable doubt," hawks generally take umbrage, noting--correctly--that Saddam is not a US citizen and does not enjoy those rights. True enough, but it isn't about Saddam; the citizens of this country are entitled to see the evidence the Administration claims it has.
Consider: A wacky bunch called Clonaid claimed to have produced the world's first human clone, repeatedly promised to pony up the proof, and then repeatedly ducked doing so. After a while, people stopped taking them seriously. Now, Bush's bunch have been making a lot of claims with regard to Iraq with no more evidence to show, and for a lot longer. The time must come when they no longer deserve the benefit of the doubt.
The problem is, as much as I'm not at all inclined to give this Administration the benefit of the doubt, the notion of protecting intelligence sources is a genuine one. The more specific the information you release, the better the likelihood that its source will be rumbled. Even among allies, intelligence agencies often carefully launder information, passing data along through a series of third parties in a kind of "telephone" game; by the time the info reaches its intended recipient, there's been enough distortion that the source can be obscured.
Of course, this genuine concern doesn't excuse the Administration from keeping the evidence it claims it has a total secret form everyone. Fortunately, I'm here to help.
I propose that the Administration give the international weapons inspectors a list of, say, two dozen sites to visit. Some ought to be obvious choices--chemical factories, previously inspected plants, what have you. A couple ought to be goodprospects from failty safe intelligence sources--satellite flybys, Predator drones, cargo manifests and the like. A few should be totally random and puzzling--maybe a candy factory, the Baghdad TV station, or an apartment building (the latter two carrying a bonus opportunity for a little PR along the way, if they play it right). And then one, just one, would be the jewel--the one site where the Administration knows Iraq has its WMDs (assuming, of course, such a site truly exists).
But before hitting that one, the inspectors operating from the US data would establish a camoflaguing pattern--even a few complete misses would leave the Iraquis guessing what the US knows, or thinks it knows.
Sure, turning the inspectors loose on one or two sure-fire sites would carry the risk of blowing a source. But porfessional intelligence agencies are accustomed to disguising the source of information. If we gave the UN inspectors a list of 24 sites, knowing that we really only care about one, it's hard to see where the Iraquis could draw any meaningful conclusion from the presence of any particular site on the list.
When I observed the 30th anniversary of the first moon landing, I commented, "it's a complete shame that it hasn't been repeated since." Late Night Thoughts takes that sentiment a bit further, noting that back in 1969, we expected to be able to walk on the moon ourselves someday, and yet that promise seems to have been deferred at best.
I don't want to sound like I'm denigrating all the magnificent science you do; I'm not. I also understand that you compete for funding with other, more human and more pressing, needs. But by scaling down your vision to the possible, you have made it easy for all but the most hardened of us to turn away. You have forgotten something: in order to hold people's attention, there must be something grandly human about your plans. True adventure involves humans. Risking, suceeding, failing, and yes, sometimes dying.
Russian tennis star Anna Kournikova has denied rumors that she sports a tattoo on the small of her back. "I don't think I have anything on my body, no," she said. She claims that the bandage-like patch she wears is intended to treat lower back pain. "My skirt is a little lower this year which is why you can now see it," she pointed out.
A 15-ton section of the ill-fated Titanic's starboard hull, recovered from the ocean floor in 1998, is to be installed in a California museum as part of its display of artifacts from the sunken liner. The hull section, known as the "Big Piece," formerly enclosed first-class cabins C-79 and C-89 and is the largest single piece recovered from the wreck.
Australian police have been baffled by the discovery of a ghost ship--a 30-foot fishing boat found drifting 185 miles west of the port of Broome, bearing a cargo of rotting fish but no sign of the crew.
A massive search in the area has turned up no survivors, life rafts or clues, but the presence of up to three tons of rotting mackerel and tuna in the hold has convinced police the boat was used by fisherman, not people smugglers.
"There weren't any indications on board that anything untoward had happened. The conditions on board were quite good," said a spokeswoman for the Australian Federal Police in Perth.
She said the long-line fishing boat, which would have a crew of around 12, appeared well-equipped and seaworthy.
The weather in the area has been calm for weeks.
In 1872, the vessel Marie Celeste was spotted drifting off Portugal, with food on the table but no one aboard. In 2001, scientists discovered the remains of the ship, which had been scuttled after no trace of the crew could be found.
This is simply unspeakable: A vacationing family is pulled over on a mistaken carjacking report. They're ordered to leave the car and handcuffed. Besides protesting their innocence, they plead for the officers to shut the doors of their vehicle so their dogs don't escape, but to no avail. When one of the dogs does leave the vehicle, one of the cops blasts the pooch's head off with a shotgun as its horrified family looked on. A spokesperson for the THP called the incident "unfortunate" and wished it "could have been avoided."
I certainly don't think this behavior is typical of police everywhere or even of the Tennessee Highway Patrol. But I think it's clear that one particular officer proved to be, in Digby's words, a trigger-happy paranoid moron, and that isn't a type I'm comforable with having on the force.
So far I haven't seen any evidence that he has disarmed. Time is running out on Saddam Hussein. He must disarm. I'm sick and tired of games and deception.
Given that weapons inspectors have so far found "no smoking gun" and say they need more time to conduct a proper scrutiny, I for one am sick and tired of the constant assertions emanating from the White house backed up by no evidence at all. Couple this conspicuous lack of evidence with a history of disingenuousness on Iraq, and Bush has close to zero credibility with me. As Michael Kinsley said in Slate, the decision for the US to go to war is a grave matter of concern to all citizens, and far too important to hinge on the President's mere say-so.
I got this link courtesy of Musashi...it sems that a recent study shows that children under 10 aren't usually equipped to percieve the humor--or insults--sarcastic comments are intended to convey.
The results have implications for everything from the content of children’s television programming to interpreting bullying behavior, University of Calgary psychologist Penny Pexman said on Thursday.
“Our study suggests that the 5-year-olds are beginning to understand the simplest form of sarcasm and are getting better at it, but still by the age of eight they really don’t find it funny, so there’s still a dissociation there,” said Pexman, who has been studying sarcasm for the past six years.
“They can appreciate that the person means the opposite of what they’re saying, but they don’t find it humorous.”
Non-authoritative answer: members.aye.net internet address = 126.96.36.199
Authoritative answers can be found from: aye.net nameserver = CASSIOPIA.aye.net aye.net nameserver = ORION.aye.net CASSIOPIA.aye.net internet address = 188.8.131.52 ORION.aye.net internet address = 184.108.40.206
It's no secret that Dodd and I disagree on many things, but one of his recent posts had myself and several others chiming in with accord in the comment thread. Riffing on this article about the tolerance shown by Japanese publishers of anime and manga to dojinshi, or fan-generated fiction and art based on their work. THat tolerance is largely practical: The fans' work serves as a form of free advertising, generating extra interest in the original work and therefore boosting sales. Dodd comments:
The lessons for copyright-obsessed American media, especially as regards digital music, are pretty plain. Given how media companies have abused and twisted the DMCA to suit their ill-considered purposes rather than examine and adapt to the changing world of digital media, I will not hold my breath waiting for the scales to fall from their eyes.
That tolerance would be especially welcome in light of the fact that studios have been known to crack down on fan Web sites that have displayed images from series such as The Simpsons, Star Trek, and The X-Files; even pro football has gotten into the act. Most reasonable people would agree that copyright deserves protection, but such heavy-handed action by studios seems an assault on fair use, especially in light of the fact that other recourses--such as insisting on a copyright disclaimer and a link to the official site--are available.
Though I haven't been impressed by a Gibson book in quite some time (having moved on to the more flavorful prose of Neal Stephenson), I really like to read his non-fiction.
I actually met Mr. Gibson once, when he was on a literary tour for Virtual Light. He spoke briefly at the Mercantile Library in downtown Cincy, read from Virtual Light, and signed books. (I got my well-worn paperback copy of Neuromancer and a new copy of Virtual Light inscribed...). I mention this because in reading his blog entry regarding meeting fans, it reminded me of how I felt when meeting him. Standing in line with the fifty-odd others who had shown up for the event, I had this odd feeling that we were collectively ambushing the guy, even though he'd come there specifically to do what he was doing. After an all-too-brief chat with Mr. Gibson, I left with the distinct impression that I'd been part of some wierd objectification ritual.
Never fear, I'm still here! Planet Swank is back online after a weekend of server woers. Aye.net, which hosts this blog, has apparently resolved the DNS difficulties that rendered this site inaccessible and prevented us from getting email to boot.
There's been several things I've noted over the weekend; I'll post as much as I can as time permits. Thanks for your patience, and tell your friends Planet Swank is back!