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Monthly Archives: August 2003

49-State Loser Redux?

August 22nd, 2003 - 12:31 am

Did Howard Dean just have a Walter Mondale moment? Read this Dean op-ed column from today’s Wall Street Journal:

As president, my economic policies will be focused and clear. I will begin by repealing the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, and using the revenues that result from the repeal to address the needs of the average American, invest in the nation’s infrastructure and, through tax reform, put money in the hands of those most likely to spend it.

Yes, it’s true: Republicans have no heart, and Democrats have no goddamn brains at all.

Take ten percent off my taxes, and I get a couple hundred bucks. Maybe I’ll buy a new stereo receiver or, more likely, buy a few extra steaks each month at Sam’s Club. Or maybe I’ll get myself one of those cool Lego MindStorm sets for Christmas. Net result to economy? Negligible. The only way demand-side tax rebates are more economically-stimulating than government borrowing is, at least I get to choose what becomes of the extra money.

Take the same percentage off the amount owed by Bill Gates, and we’re talking millions of dollars. What’s he do with them? Why, he buries them in the back yard, of course. Hardly. You know the drill: he invests it, because he wants even more money. Smart investments mean future productivity gains. Net result to economy? Pretty damn big.

Let Uncle Sugar keep the money? Forget “infrastructure,” forget “the needs of the average American,” forget anything sane at all. We’ll get more of the same Washington spending, most of which would be more profitably used as kindling. Fire keeps us warm, at least, but I’ll be damned if I can figure out what we get out of sugar subsidies or Congressional junkets to Bermuda.

Scratch that last item. At least with junkets, we get a few Congressmen out of the damn country for a while. Let’em screw up some foreign place for a change.

And I’m talking about Democrats and Republicans.

Anyway, go read the whole thing and judge for yourself.

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Fab 6?

August 21st, 2003 - 12:55 pm

Arthur Silber has a spot-on analysis of what makes Queer Eye so entertaining — and fun.

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Made My Morning

August 21st, 2003 - 11:14 am

A fisking.

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It’s Alive!

August 21st, 2003 - 10:40 am

Hey, Scalzi’s AOL HQ-blog is up and running.

It looks good, and that makes me wonder — did he build it with AOL’s own tools? If so, then AOL is really doing something right. This is a big step up from Blogger’s limited template selection, and even more limited graphics options for non-Pro users.

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The Russians?

August 21st, 2003 - 10:08 am

JunkYardBlog has a juicy tidbit which might explain where Ali’s chemicals went.

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August 21st, 2003 - 9:48 am

From Bloomberg:

Former Iraqi General Ali Hassan al- Majid, known as “Chemical Ali” for his role in gas attacks on Kurdish villages, has been captured and is in the custody of the U.S.-led coalition, U.S. Central Command said.

Al-Majid, the former Revolutionary Command Council commander under Saddam Hussein, was No. 5 on the list of 55 most-wanted members of the ousted regime. He was the King of Spades in the deck of cards the U.S. issued to represent the list. Details of his capture weren’t immediately available.

There’ll be a party in Kurdistan tonight.

It looks like we’re rolling them up pretty quickly — faster than I’d dared hope. The only occupation this really compares to is Germany and Japan in 1945, where we had millions of pairs of boots on the ground, in a nation about the size of Washington State and Oregon combined, and four small islands. Today we have about 150,000 men and women looking for 50-some-odd people in a country twice the size of Idaho.

They’re doing an impressive job.

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August 21st, 2003 - 9:31 am

Click for the full picture.

UPDATE: We have a verdict, and this one is a fake.

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August 21st, 2003 - 1:03 am

Heads up.

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Unholy Alliance

August 21st, 2003 - 12:53 am

If you supported Congressman Bob Barr on the Clinton impeachment (my own feelings were mixed), then why not do a little deeper thinking about gay marriage? Read:

Make no mistake, I do not support same-sex marriages. But I also am a firm believer that the Constitution is no place for forcing social policies on states, especially in this case, where states must have the latitude to do as their citizens see fit.

No less a leftist radical than Vice President Dick Cheney recognized this when he publicly said, “The fact of the matter is we live in a free society, and freedom means freedom for everybody. . . . And I think that means that people should be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to enter into. It’s really no one else’s business in terms of trying to regulate or prohibit behavior in that regard. . . . I think different states are likely to come to different conclusions, and that’s appropriate. I don’t think there should necessarily be a federal policy in this area.”

It will happen in our lifetimes, Dave.

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Bad Weather

August 21st, 2003 - 12:44 am

The last summer I lived in St. Louis was 1988. By the new year, I was happy and poor in Northern (waaaaay northern) California.

That last summer, though, was a doozy. It’s easy to remember because I spent it interning at KMOX, a CBS-owned clear-channel AM news & sports station. I was as wired into the news as it was possible to be before Google, Drudge, and the InstaPundit came along.

Busy for news, too. It was the summer of Willie Horton and the Hollywood writer’s strike (remember Hal Gurney’s Network Time Killers?) and my hometown’s first howgrown canonization. And it was hot. How hot was it? Eggs actually cried uncle before you could drop them for the sidewalk test.

So, every hour or so, we’d announce where the A/C shelters had been set up, so that people could cool off a little. For the first time in real life, I saw firemen open up hydrants for kids to play in. Cute, sure — but no laughing matter. When you have ten days in a row well over 100, with the humidity not far behind. . .well, you couldn’t laugh, because sudden deep breaths induced gagging.

Yes, people died. Yeah, we kept a tally going. As I recall, over 30 people, mostly seniors, died from the heat. Then there’s this:

Undertakers in France estimate the recent heatwave killed more than 13,600 people.

Funeral home giant OGF say almost 3500 people will have died in Paris alone by the end of the month.

Their figures are almost two-and-a-half times the French government’s heat- related death toll. Health minister Jean-Francois Mattei conceded on Monday that it was “plausible” that up to 5000 people may have died in France, almost twice as many as previously feared.

However, he insisted that figure was a hypothesis and that the final toll was not expected for several weeks.

I find that upper number suspect as hell. 13,500 people dead, in a modern nation, due to a heatwave the would scarcely get notice in Texas? True, France isn’t prepared for the heat like Dallas is — but neither was my old home. Even 5,000 seems much, much too high.

Were there no emergency A/C shelters? Did the hydrants stay closed? Did the Seine dry up? Lord knows, the French know to keep their wine cool in cellars — so what about people?

What the hell went wrong?

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August 21st, 2003 - 12:13 am

This post contains absolutely no naked pictures of Georgy Russell.

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Required Reading. . .

August 21st, 2003 - 12:11 am

. . .from Tim Blair.

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Junk Science

August 21st, 2003 - 12:05 am

I spent bits of the last week or so, trying to figure out what to say, what to make, of the recent silliness from Michael Fumento. The guy always impressed me back when he was science editor at Reason, which made his outbursts that much more difficult to wrap my brain around.

But then the Professor went and wrote this, and made me wish I had.

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My Kind of Town

August 21st, 2003 - 12:02 am

Tonight, we finally watched Chicago. It came out last year while we were busy househunting, so we missed it on the big screen. But that’s little that a semi-giant Mitsubishi HDTV, wired to a progressive-scan DVD and better speakers than we could reasonably afford, couldn’t fix.

Verdict: Deliciously amoral. Just like the real world, but with a better soundtrack, leggier women, and not enough Queen Latifah. But as the Queen herself might say, “Honey, there’s never enough Latifah.”

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Conspiracy Theory

August 20th, 2003 - 5:04 pm

So why is bushrecall.org password protected?

What is Joe Lockhart trying to hide, hmm?

UPDATE: The site now loads normally. All hail the power of the blogosphere. Or somebody just fixed a small problem. Whatever.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I signed the online petition, as Anastasia Beaverhausen. Yes, a Will & Grace fan can be a warmonger, too.

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Odd Coincidence

August 20th, 2003 - 3:17 pm

Just as I finished the last post, I found another Robert Samuelson column, this one in my dead-tree copy of Newsweek. Good stuff, so I located it on the web. Here’s the primer:

America’s eager consumers have long been the world

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Shut Up Already

August 20th, 2003 - 2:45 pm

Robert Samuelson:

Whatever the sins of Enron and others in California, politicians and regulators committed the greatest blunders. Here’s a short list: (a) Approval was slow for new plants, creating an electricity shortage; (b) as wholesale electricity rates rose, state regulators insulated consumers from the increases (this worsened the shortage, because low rates stimulated demand); and (c) the state’s major utilities, forced to buy electricity from independent power producers, couldn’t sign long-term contracts and had to pay rising daily prices. Absent all the errors, the crisis wouldn’t have occurred.

Similar obstacles block new transmission lines. This has happened in California and elsewhere. In 1999 a group of utilities proposed a 220-mile line between Minnesota and Wisconsin to prevent a recurrence of local blackouts. The original cost estimate was $165 million, with completion expected in mid-2002.

The latest estimates are $420 million and 2008, although construction hasn’t started. It took Wisconsin about two years to approve the project, adding some costly environmental protections. Approvals are still pending from the National Park Service and the Army Corps of Engineers, which began their reviews after the state decision, says Bob Lindholm of Minnesota Power. (The companies “pleaded with the federal agencies to participate in the Wisconsin process — they refused,” he says.

Anyone still want to blame deregulatiton — which is uneven, incomplete, and, well, still pretty damn regulated — for our troubles last week?

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August 20th, 2003 - 2:11 pm

Email still working just fine. Web browsing still feels like a 56k connection. Yet ping tests come up fast and solid.

Go figure.

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And So It Is Blogged

August 20th, 2003 - 12:56 pm

Internet connection is still iffy. I receive email just fine, but web-surfing is not so good — which makes me think the trouble is on my end, not with Adelphia.

Troubleshooting now.

Meanwhile, caught Jeralyn Merritt on Linda Vester’s Fox show about an hour ago. The issue was the Pledge of Allegiance. While I don’t fully agree with Meralyn’s ACLU take (click on the link above), her counterpart was a frightening man.

I didn’t catch his name, but he was a wild-eyed talk radio host of the uber-Christian variety. “This is a Christian nation,” and all that. Well, yes, the vast majority of the country is Christian — some more so than others — but our Constitution is pretty dang agnostic. And on the issue of religion, the First Amendment is pretty dang clear. What part of “Congress shall make no law” don’t these jokers understand?

What irked me most, was the man’s willful ignorance of history when he claims the Founding Fathers were all staunch Christians, and meant for our laws to be Christian ones. By and large, the Founders were deists and Unitarians, which is about as close to agnostic as one can get while still claiming to be Christian.

Are our laws founded on Christian morality? Lots of them, sure — Christianity got lots of stuff right. But then we come back to that nasty old First Amendment, which makes plain that as a religion (although not as a private moral force), Christianity has no more legal standing than Judaism, Islam, Wicca, hopscotch, or banjo-worship.

Is their speech and writing peppered with Biblical language? You bet. Part of that was simply the way educated people communicated. And the other part just doesn’t matter, as we come back, once again, to the First Amendment.

The First Amendment doesn’t exist to protect the majority from softcore atheists like myself — the majority already has, well, the majority of the votes to do just that. Rather, the Founders wrote it to protect the minority from the “tyranny of the majority,” in all matters of conscience.

On any given Sunday, I’m willing to let slide “controversies” like the Pledge or posting the Ten Commandments in courtrooms, etc. I recognize that the vast majority are religious, and I’m strong-minded enough not to let my weettle feelings get hurt because not everyone thinks as I do. I’m also appreciative that I have the right, both legal and moral, not to take any of it seriously.

But at this point, I’m damn-near willing to reverse myself and take up Meralyn’s cause, if only to make certain people froth at the mouth.

UPDATE: For a better take on a similar issue, read this.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Even more here.

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August 20th, 2003 - 8:51 am

Adelphia Cable had a near-city wide outage last night, which meant no internent connectionn for me, and no West Wing rerun on Bravo for my bride.

Honestly, I was a little upset about the former…

Be back as soon as I’ve caught up with the news.

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Security Patch

August 19th, 2003 - 11:17 am

Then there’s this non-war story (?) from the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel:

A new computer “worm” that exploits Microsoft’s popular Windows operating system forced aerospace giant Lockheed Martin to shut down parts of its nationwide computer network this week, officials say.

The worm follows the so-called “Blaster” or “LoveSan” worm that infected hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide last week.

For Lockheed Martin, the new worm caused the most trouble in Valley Forge, Pa., and across the Denver area, where it infected 1,200 company computers.

Not just Denver, but their Colorado Springs Mission Systems facility, too. While it was nice to have Melissa home an hour early yesterday, it’s not exactly comforting to know that a major defense contractor shut down for an afternoon because of a worm.

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August 19th, 2003 - 11:12 am

More troublemaking from our Saudi allies:

Increasing numbers of Saudi Arabian Islamists are crossing the border into Iraq in preparation for a jihad, or holy war, against US and UK forces, security and Islamist sources have warned.

A senior western counter-terrorism official on Monday said the presence of foreign fighters in Iraq was “extremely worrying”.

A statement purportedly from al-Qaeda was broadcast on Monday by the Arab satellite television channel al-Arabiya. It claimed the al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and the leader of the Afghanistan’s ousted Taliban regime Mullah Mohammed Omar were still alive. But it also asserted that recent attacks on US forces in Iraq were the work of jihadis.

We don’t need their bases anymore, and it won’t be too much longer (probably months, not years) before we’re not so reliant on their oil — then we’ll have a fair shot at dealing with the primary sponsors of Islamic terror.

But will the Arabists in the State Department ever understand?

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No Rush

August 19th, 2003 - 11:09 am

It seems the Communist North Korean state is withering away — or at least its most important part:

There are many signs that the mighty million man North Korea army is fading away. North Korea is running into serious problems getting enough men for it’s armed forces. North Korea relies on conscription to maintain its 1.1 million man (and woman) forces. This is difficult with a population of only about 23 million. In the last twenty years the number of 17 year old males available each year for service had been declining, from about a quarter million in the early 1980s to less than 200,000 now.

But it’s worse than that, as the persistent famine over the last decade, along with the collapse of the economy, has reduced the number of 17 year old males actually fit for military service. There are more health problems because of the poor diet, and a lot of these kids, who should be there, have died from starvation and hunger related diseases.

There’s more. Read it — and understand why we’re in no rush to negotiate with Li’l Kim.

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August 19th, 2003 - 12:47 am

Remember when we used to fear Moammar Gaddafi? For a while there in the ’80s, he was the Arab boogey man. Or, as his own press releases called him, the “Bhu’ghi Mehn of Tripoli.”

True enough, back in the day he caused more than his share of death and destruction. There was the disco bombing in Germany, the Lockerbie bombing, even a small attack on Italy. Make no mistake: Gaddafi was a menace, a killer, and a very, very bad man.

But at some point we just stopped taking him seriously.

Maybe it was President Reagan’s famous quip, after two Libyan MiGs were shot down by American F-14s while he slept: “If our planes were shot down, yes, they’d wake me up right away. If the other fellows were shot down, why wake me up?” That must’ve taken a lot of wind out of Gaddafi’s sails. It certainly made my high-school self sleep a littler better, and with a little smile, too.

Or perhaps we couldn’t stop laughing at the “Line of Death” across the Gulf of Sidra. If you think back, you’ll recall that Moammar decided that some international waters belonged, I think, to him personally, and that anyone crossing it would meet Allah, pronto. So the US Sixth Fleet spent a few months dancing over and around the Line, swatting down the occasional MiG or sinking the odd patrol craft, until finally we all just thought it was all too silly.

Maybe it was because of the Gilbert & Sullivan-esque war against Chad. Frankly, it sounded like Libya had declared war against some guy in Connecticut for leaving his Polo shirt collar up. The issue, believe it or not, was over the Ouzou Strip

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This Is Almost John Galt Speaking

August 19th, 2003 - 12:07 am

I first heard of Chris Sciabarra nearly ten years ago, when he published Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical. Now he’s guest-blogging from Brooklyn over at Arthur Silber’s Light of Reason — and has lots to say about the blackout.

Check it out.

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Where Are They Now?

August 19th, 2003 - 12:00 am

Tonight marks the second, ah, interesting email I’ve received about National Guard deployments. Both hinted at assignments other than Iraq. Nothing classified, mind you, but nothing I’d like to talk about, either.

Anyway, I’m Googling for more, but don’t expect to find much. If, however, you’re interested in what our current deployments look like (along with a black hole or two), then click this link.

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August 18th, 2003 - 9:32 am

Taking a short summer break. In other words — chores call.

Meanwhile, read this.

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August 16th, 2003 - 9:31 am


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“One Last Thing”

August 15th, 2003 - 2:07 am

Colorado bloggers, don’t forget that tomorrow night it’s back to Wyncoop for more beer, pool, and debauchery.

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When We Were Young and Gay

August 15th, 2003 - 1:39 am

Those not completely annoyed by my previous post ought to read this.

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