Archive for March, 2007

Quick Links

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

Bush is a conservative. Yeah, right. Conservatives start trade wars all the time!

Cheerleading is dangerous. So why can’t college cheerleaders get scholarships to balance out Title IX?

It seems to me Alberto Gonzalez is a in a tight position. If he admits that he talked about the USA firings, then he lied to Congress. If he maintains that he didn’t, that means the firings were organized not by the Attorney General but by the President’s Political Advisors. That would be, to say the least, disturbing.

Why am I not surprised. At least the NYT inflation-adjusted the figure. Now if they could only adjust it for increasing disposable income. This also means that the idea of a gas tax to decrease our emissions may not work.

Humor of the Day

Friday, March 30th, 2007

This is absolutely true.

On the Other Hand

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

As brilliant as Greenwald’s post is, I think he misses the point. The fundamental political philosophy of the GOP right now is the acquisition and maintenance of power at any cost. Every tactic they have pursued — from politicizing the Justice Department to massive spending hikes — has been designed for the sole purpose of keeping them in power. That’s why I don’t believe that Bush was serious about his Social Security reform package and why he never really pushed it very hard. That’s why I don’t believe he would ever endorse the Fair Tax. It would take too much power away.

And that’s the key to understanding this Administration. The Emperor has no clothes. Bush says a lot of things that are designed to sound good to conservatives. But these are all just ploys to get our support. In the end, he and his cronies will turn their reason upside down and backward if it supports them. If you look at his actions instead of listening to his words, you will see the naked political ambition.

As an example of what I’m talking about, Cato points out that Mr. Torture John Yoo has been caught contradicting himself. When Clinton sought executive privelege to stop investigations into his shennanigans, Yoo — and most of the Right — screamed bloody murder. Now that Bush is doing it, they think it’s OK. They’re going for the Clinton tactic of saying these are “pointless investigations” and “non-scandals” and the President should be allowed to “do his job”.

They have no principles. Only politics.

Greenwald Nails It

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

A brilliant post over at Salon.

It would maximize clarity in our political discussions if journalists could just ingest Brooks’ central point: the dominant right-wing political movement in this country that has spawned and driven the Bush presidency has nothing to do with — it is in fact overtly hostile to — the ostensible principles of Goldwater/Reagan small-government conservatism. Though today’s so-called “conservatives” exploit the Goldwater/Reagan mythology as a political prop, they don’t believe in those principles in any way. That movement is the very antithesis of those principles.

Read the whole thing.

Political Appointees?

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

Just to deal with one of the meme’s circulating in the Right:

“This US Attorneys scandal is garbage! These are political appointees!”

They seem to be missing a critical point here. The appointments are political but the office is not. Just as the Hatch Act prevents the political appointees who head the Departments of Defense or Labor or Health from using the office to advance political interests; just as it prevents the Drug Czar from his office for political interests (not that this stops him); the President is not supposed to use the US Attorneys for political means.

What we are talking about here is not the firing of eight lawyers but the use of the Department of Justice to advance the political agenda of the Republican party. I’m sorry, Neal Boortz. I’m sorry, Anne Couter. I’m sorry, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. This is not the Soviet Union. We do not have a poltiical office. We do not confound the business of government with the business of politics. And we now have ample evidence that the US Attorneys were being pressured to lay off Republicans and prosecute Democrats.

Suppose the Drug Czar were only prosecuting drug cases against Democrats and letting Republicans go free. Would that be OK? He’s a political appointee after all.

Two Stories

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

It’s not enought that we’re putting non-violent drug users into prison to be beaten and raped. Now we’re doing it with minors. Wonderful.

On another note, the poor have more free time than the rich. Slate asks why? Um, isn’t it obvious? It’s the public choice theory. People are willing to trade income for leisure time (I myself being a prime example). If you work harder and have less free time, you’ll be less poor!

1984

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

So how close was the infamous Hillary 1984 ad to reality? Pretty damned close. Remember. Hillary and Bush are like peas in a pod. There is no aspect of your life they don’t think the Feds shouldn’t be sticking there nose into.

Update: And as if things couldn’t get weirder, the owners of 1984 are bullying the poor sap who made the ad.

We really need to revist copyright law in this country. we really really need to.

Nixon and Bush

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

When I was growing up, all my teachers and most of my professors had a reflexive hatred of the Republicans. No matter what the Republicans did, they refused to even considered supporting them. It was amazing to watch otherwise intelligent people switch off their brains. Republicans were racists (after supporting the Civil Rights Act), sexist (fair enough) evil monsters who just wanted to put us under their bootheel (apparently by shrinking government authority).

But when you dug down, you’d find one of the big reasons they really hated Republicans. Richard Nixon. He was the candidate who wouldn’t go away who eventually crushed their bright boy in 1972 and continued a war they hated. He was also a pathological liar who crippled the economy with wage and price controls and thought the President should have the authority to do whatever he wanted. It eventually got to the point where the very sight of him would infuriate people. Read the works of Hunter Thompson or even Dave Barry and you’ll find that intense deep hatred that no amount of time can really take away.

Well, Bush is now doing this all over again. Polls are showing that young people are switching to the Democrat side in droves. The President has been revealed as an incompetent, authoritarian hypocrite. He lust for power and vicious politicization of everything on Earth has made the very sight of him infurating to a generation of Americans. He hasn’t crippled the economy like Nixon did. But the string of disasters — none of which are his fault! — is long and ugly. Iraq, Katrina, the budget, prescription drugs, the justice department, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. And his embracing of a radical religious agenda has made the GOP look stupid. Boortz is right. They are on the brink of permanent minority status.

The only hope of conservatives is that a conservative Democrat emerges to lead the nation. Someone like Bill Richardson out in New Mexico. He hasn’t got a chance once Hillary’s wolves set upon him. But he’s all we’ve got now.

Sigh. You have no idea how hard it is for a Child of Reagan to say this. But I am now a man without a party.

Breaking the Silence

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

I haven’t commented much on the US Attorney scandal because I haven’t been quite sure what to make of it. I’m rather annoyed at Boortz and his ilk dismissing this as a “non-scandal”. But the longer this goes, on, the more disturbing it gets.

First, I’m sick to death of hearing that the US Attorneys serve at the “pleasure” of the President. It’s a buzzword that’s driving up the fricking wall. He’s not a monarch, much as he has his supporters — his few remaining supporters — think that he is.

Second, I don’t think anything illegal was done here. But that doesn’t make it right. Lots of things are prefectly legal that ain’t right — American Idol, for example. I think it once again demonstrates the raw political machinations of this loathsome administration.

Third, we’ve found out that the Patriot Act gave the President the authority to appoint USA’s without congressional approval. This needs to be unpassed fast. And the fuck was that for, anyway? Is Al-Quaeda going to strike because Bush couldn’t get his partisan attorneys appointed?

Fourth, we’re getting a nasty nasty look into the Bush justice department at it ain’t pretty. Read the whole thing. One of the fired attorneys was gotten rid of despite an exemplary record because he wouldn’t prosecute pornographers, was saving his ammo in the War on Drugs for big dealers and was concerned about FBI interrogation techniques.

Some interrogation techniques “may be unsettling” for jurors in video or audio form, wrote the BATF, and therefore shouldn’t be recorded. Perfectly “acceptable” techniques may not “come across to lay persons as a proper means of obtaining information,” wrote the FBI, and recording those techniques could sway a jury—to which an unknown official added the handwritten annotation: “So we want to hide the truth? Don’t [sic] want jury to reach its own judgment?”

Apparently not. The Justice Department ultimately sided with the law enforcement agencies, noting that it’s best to hide “unsettling” interrogation techniques from juries, even when it was those techniques that extracted the confession.

As Greenwald explains, this is particularly disturbing, because interrogation techniques would only come up in those cases in which a defendant’s confession was in dispute. And in those cases, the agents would almost certainly already be asked about their techniques at trial. The very purpose of a video, then, would be to determine who’s telling the truth.

You know what? Now that I’ve typed out all my thoughts, I am angry. And I think that if the American people become familiar with this — if our lazy worthless media does their fucking job — Americans will get angry about it. (And despite Boortz’s bitching, 72% of Americans think this should be investigated, according to a poll I can’t find at the moment).

It’s just another example of the incompetence, political viciousness, authoritarianism and deception that has increasingly defined this Administration.

Milk!

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

Via Sullivan come this surrel surreal trip into an alternate universe.

More of the Same

Monday, March 26th, 2007

This won’t work. Various school districts are proposing to lengthen the school day in an effort to get higher test scores.

But the problem is fundamental. It’s qualitative not quantitative. Having the kids in the same shitty schools for thirty more minutes or thirty more years is not going to improve things.

It’s getting back to the fundamental problem of government. Since output can’t be measured, input is. And so we assume that if we’re spending lots of money, hiring lots of teachers and forcing the kids – who are already bored, resentful and negative toward education – to spend more time at it, that must be an improvement.

But it’s not – not for everone anyway. And we could be educating these kids effectively with less money, less time and less homework. We know this, because we did it in this country for decades and see it going on all over the world. If we introduce competition between schools, we would see more effective innovation and improvement.

I have a big post on education in the queue. I’ll post it soon.

There is one bright point in the article. And it emphasizes something I’ve said — education is best run at the level closest to the students. This innovation, whether it works or not, is being driven by the states and is tailored to the schools that need the most help. The “one size fits all” model that Big Education (and our President) have been ramming down our throats is breaking down.

If only we could give them a little more freedom.

It’s Working

Saturday, March 24th, 2007

I shouldn’t jinx it. But my anti-spam measures appear to be working. The hits on this site have slowly declined this month from the 40-50k range down to the 20-30 k range. Yesterday, I had only 2483 hits — this is good since 99% of the hits are spam. Today looks like it will bounce back up to the 20k range. But I’m making progress.

KSM BS

Saturday, March 24th, 2007

So what else did KSM do? Top Five is on the case.

Disclaimer

Saturday, March 24th, 2007

As the traffic increases, I should make sure that everyone coming here knows that the views expressed here are the author’s private opinion and do not reflect the views of the University of Texas, McDonald Observatory, the National Science Foundation, NASA, STScI, the University of Virginia, Cyberstrux, WordPress or anyone else I have ever been associated with in any professional capacity whatsoever.

Like the sign says, these are the random farts of an undisciplined mind.