Saturday, October 25, 2003

Marlins Win

Yankees not win.

Krugman on Book TV

You can watch it here. Originally they weren't going to post the video - something about needing to have political balance - but the folks at pkarchive convinced them otherwise.

Dick Cheney with the Rope?

Pass the Blame:

A new round of partisan finger-pointing over who's to blame for misjudging prewar Iraq erupted Friday, as the top Democrat on the Senate Select Intelligence Committee said the panel's Republican chairman was trying to make the CIA the fall guy to deflect criticism from the White House.

The Senate Intelligence Committee is preparing a report evaluating why U.S. intelligence about the threat that Saddam Hussein's Iraq posed to U.S. interests exaggerated the severity of the threat. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., the panel's chairman, was quoted Friday as saying the White House was served badly by the CIA, which provided "sloppy" prewar intelligence.

Sen. John "Jay" Rockefeller, D-W.Va., responded Friday by saying that Roberts was trying to "lay all of this out on the intelligence community and never get to any other branches of government; in particular the White House and associated high and visible government agencies."


A senior administration official, who agreed to speak only on the condition of anonymity, said Roberts' CIA comments were issued with Cheney's encouragement. The official said Cheney is trying to shift the blame for the lack of progress in Iraq, which is becoming an issue in next year's presidential and congressional elections, from the White House to the CIA. The Roberts aide denied that encouraged Roberts to criticize the CIA.

And Roberts is now saying the WaPo mischaracterized him....

Anyway, I'm really a bit confused by this whole strategy. It seems to be that they're trying to claim that the CIA talked them into going to war while simultaneously saying that they were absolutely correct in their decision to go to war.

A Modest Proposal

People are always wanting to means test things like Medicare. I suppose it's not a bad idea - you can let people lose their entire fortunes on medical bills and then let them qualify for insurance. But, why do they stop there? Why don't we means test police and fire protection? Why don't we means test public university tuition (aid formulas do that somewhat, but full tuition payers are still heavily subsidized)? All of these things, too, are "entitlements." Hey, how about we means test all government services, including national defense, by enacting a shockingly progressive tax system?

But, more seriously, all of these discussions about what to do about those expensive programs for old people are just fantasies. As I say over and over again, the reason that Medicare is going to get increasingly expensive is that a greater percentage of the population is going to be over 65. That also means that a greater percentage of the voting population is going to be over 65. If you think these programs are the "third rail"of politics now, just wait a few years. There will be more generous medical benefits. The only question is when and how we pay for it (before or after these people retire) and how it's administered. Seniors are going to get their Medicare and their prescription drug program. Odds are, they're going to get a whole bunch of other stuff too - huge expenditures on making communities more liveable for them. More expensive and better nursing homes. Free or subsidized taxi programs. A proliferation of golf cart paths. etc...

Identity Politics

Jim Henley says James Taranto and I are soulmates. Haha. Actually, Jim's right, that aside from the inevitable "it's all the liberals fault" sniping, Taranto is roughly right on Easterbrook. Easterbrook was engaging in a particularly insidious form of "philo-Semitism," which isn't "anti-Semitism" in the sense that Easterbrook hates Jews. But, nonetheless, it's still a form of anti-Semitism in the general sense which, combined with his bizarre appeal to the historical stereotype of money-worshipping Jews, got him in well-deserved hot water. And, since Easterbook's apology ignored the main issue, and included his statement that he stands by all of the thoughts, it's unclear why he should be out of hot water.

But, Jim is only getting one half of the identity politics issue. He writes:

I should note that eventheliberal Atrios rebuked Easterbrook for placing group duties on individuals. That means Taranto is too hard on liberals as a class, and that Atrios and Taranto are secret soul mates.

What Taranto and Henley are missing is that when it comes to group identity and duties, such pressures come from two sources. The first is internal pressure and the second is external pressure. The external pressure is at worst extreme bigotry and at best inappropriate paternalism. This is the road that Easterbrook was walking down.

I'll admit that the paternalistic part comes from liberal quarters at times, but it's far less destructive than the bigotry-motivated version which mostly emanates from the Right. However, for minority groups "practicing" identity politics, the internal pressure to make their ethnic or racial identity an organizing principle and a centerpiece of a political movement is a response to the external grouping from the dominant power group (the exception perhaps being some extreme ethnic nationalist movements. And, no, that doesn't include MEChA).

Look, if you're an African-American you can close your eyes and put your hands of your ears singing "la la la"and pretend to ignore the fact that every single person you meet (black, white, asian, latino, whatever) is going to saddle you with a group identity, no matter how you live your life or who you choose to associate with, or you can recognize it as a fact of life and act accordingly.

Critics of "identity politics" seem to want minorities to experience all of the negative aspects of their race/ethnicity without allowing them the use their race to further either individual or group causes. Those who engage in it realize that right now, you can't escape your group identity, so you may as well try and use it. Whether or not that's a practical strategy or not is subject to debate, but critics seem to always blame the victims of bigoted identity politics for its existence. The biggest practioners of identity politics are white people, though one rarely hears it lablelled as such - being the dominant power group, what whites do is simply "normal,"as opposed to "special interest politics"or "identity politics."

Irish-Americans ran Boston for years. It isn't as if this never received any notice or criticism, but by and large it was recognized as the inevitable outcome given the demographics of the place.

One day, perhaps, with a bit more pro-creative racial deconstruction, a bit more blurring of the clear lines between racial/and ethnic groups, and most importantly a bit more enlightenment and a bit less racial demagoguery by politicians wanting to exploit bigotry, "identity politics" as such may go away. Plenty of immigrant groups who were lumped together - Poles, Hungarians, Irish, Italians - have largely transcended their original status as downtrodden ethnic groups. But until it goes away we should stop pretending it emanates from minority groups. It doesn't.

(ditto, of course, for sexuality).

Bach Against Bush

Tristero is starting a movement. If you're a classical musician and want to join up, get in touch with him.

Two Dollars per Day

That's what some of the illegal immigrants who were cleaning Wal-Mart were being paid.

Feel the Love

Republicans mourn Wellstone's death, one year later.

Kudos to John Lewis

Powerful pro-gay marriage editorial.

I know some people think this is an electoral loser, so Democrats should stay out of it. Now, I'm all for practical politics - if you can't win elections all the principles in the world don't matter much. But, it isn't Democrats who are making this an issue, frankly, it's Republicans. They're making immoral homos the centerpiece of their '04 election strategy. Democrats can either be on the right side of this issue, or the wrong side. If they're on the wrong side, it won't win them any votes. Just as MSNBC can't out-Fox Fox, the Democrats can't out-gaybait the Republicans. They should all fall in line behind John Lewis. Right now.

In a way it's like the crime issue. "Everybody knows" that Democrats are soft on crime, so the only way to counter that is to be a complete bastard - support the death penalty, increased minimum sentences, refuse to parole anyone (as Gray Davis did), etc... Likewise, "everybody knows" that Democrats are pro-buggery and the buggerers who bugger, so the only way to counter that perception would be to be somewhere to the right of Pat Robertson on this issue. They just can't do that, so they shouldn't try. Do the right thing, and explain why.

Pierce at Altercation


Caught your appearance on CNN with Rich Lowry of National Review. (Can I just say that the drop from Bill Buckley to him is like waking up one morning and finding out that Ferris Bueller is the pope?) I notice that Rich has paid a visit to Ye Olde Regnery Costume Shoppe and will be going out for Halloween dressed as A Historian. I guess all the Power Ranger suits were booked. Anyway, my favorite moment was he offered to show you the “documentation” that there was no plan to combat al Qaeda presented by Sandy Berger to the Gumball Rally when it took office. I’m sure that he’s delivered that documentation already, so I’ll be able to give him some candy when he stops by next week.

Teen Spirit

Rock Against Bush.

...Here's NOFX's Idiot Son of an Asshole.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Read Your State Constitutions

An amusing thing about the rabid states' rights crowd, is that they always think that the evil Fedrul Govmint is preventing them from enacting whatever theocratic nonsense they want. Dwight Meredith tells us what's in many state constitutions.

A Tale of Two Soldiers

From BET:

Posted October 24, 2003 -- Army Spec. Shoshana Johnson, the African American women who was held prisoner of war in the U.S. invasion of Iraq, was looking forward to a quiet discharge from the Army in a few days.

Battle scarred and weary, she has said not a word as her fellow POW comrade in arms Jessica Lynch cashes in with book and movie deals and a celebrity status in the media.

But it is the Army that is forcing Johnson to break her peace.

A few days ago, military brass informed her that she would receive a 30 percent disability benefit for her injuries. Lynch, who is White, was discharged in August and will receive an 80 percent disability benefit.

The difference amounts to $600 or $700 a month in payments, and that is causing Johnson and her family to speak out. The are so troubled by what they see as a "double standard," that they have enlisted Rev. Jesse Jackson to help make their case to the news media.


Johnson was shot in both legs and is still traumatized by her war experience. In addition to walking with a limp, she suffers from bouts of depression.

Flippity Floppity!

Off with his head! Wait, no re-attach it quick!

Gotta love the wacky folks over at NRO.


On last night's Olbermann:

LOFTUS: Well, you know, it’s a funny story. About a year-and-a-half ago, people in the intelligence community came and said-guys like Alamoudi and Sami al-Arian and other terrorists weren’t being touched because they’d been ordered not to investigate the cases, not to prosecute them, because there were being funded by the Saudis and a political decision was being made at the highest levels, don’t do anything that would embarrass the Saudi government. So, of course I immediately volunteered to do it and I filed a lawsuit, against al-Arian charging him with being a major terrorist for Islamic Jihad, most of his money came from Saudi charities in Virginia.

Now, Alamoudi’s headquarters were in the same place, he was raided the same day, on March 20. An hour after I filed my lawsuit, the U.S. government finally got off its butt and they raided these offices. And, the stuff that they’re taking out of there now is absolutely horrendous. Al-Arian has now, finally been indicted, an along with Alamoudi, today.

But, who was it that fixed the cases? How could these guys operate for more than a decade immune from prosecution? And, the answer is coming out in a very strange place. What Alamoudi and al-Arian have in common is a guy named Grover Norquist. He’s the super lobbyist. Newt Gingrich’s guy, the one the NRA calls on, head of American taxpayers. He is the guy that was hired by Alamoudi to head up the Islamic institute and he’s the registered agent for Alamoudi, personally, and for the Islamic Institute.

Grover Norquist’s best friend is Karl Rove, the White House chief of staff, and apparently Norquist was able to fix things. He got extreme right wing Muslim people to be the gatekeepers in the White House. That’s why moderate Americans couldn’t speak out after 9/11. Moderate Muslims couldn’t get into the White House because Norquist’s friends were blocking their access.
OLBERMANN: How does this tie back into the thing that apparently pulled the stopper out of the drain, if you will-The developers at Guantanamo bay? How rotten is the system of the interpreters and the chaplains-the Muslim Chaplains that Alamoudi was involved in setting up?

LOFTUS: It’s as rotten as it gets. Think of the Muslim chaplain’s program that he set up as a spy service for al-Qaeda. The damage that’s been done is extreme. It wasn’t just sending home mom and dad messages from the prisoners. These guys, this network in Guantanamo, stole the CIA’s briefing books. Everything that the CIA knew about al-Qaeda is now back in al-Qaeda hands. That’s about as bad an intelligence setback as you can get.

OLBERMANN: John, how does this end up? How far will the investigation into this necessarily have to go to get to the bottom of it?

LOFTUS: There’s a lot more to go. Norquist had a lot of other clients. There’s a whole alphabet soup of Saudi agencies that funded terrorism in this country. They had an awful lot of protection. And, one of the things we may find about 9/11 is that people out in the field weren’t allowed to connect the dots and questions will be asked whether guys like Grover Norquist were part of the problem?

Republican Grass Roots

A Cautious Man has the details of the spontaneous eruptions of worship of Dear Leader over at the official Bush Blog.

Funding of the Fundies

This Washington Post article tepidly touches on the funding sources of the opposition to the Episcopal "Gay Bishop." Mike Signorile got the ball rolling on this, and I and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune also wrote about it during the attempts to smear the guy.

It's a very tepid article because as usual it doesn't really tell us what the actual theocratic agenda of some of these people is.

Angry Ex-CIA

On CNN today:

HEMMER: Tell me why you think it is such a big deal.

JOHNSON: Was 9/11 a big deal? It's a big deal in part because we saw the planes crash into the buildings and we saw the images and horrible vision of people jumping from those towers. We saw it. If we didn't see it and didn't read about it, we wouldn't know it happened.

The problem with this is a lot of the damage that has occurred is not going to be seen. It can't be photographed. We can't bring the bodies out because in some cases it's going to involve protecting sources and methods. And it's important to keep this before the American people. This was a betrayal of national security.

HEMMER: Larry, tell me, what's the damage, though. Be specific, as best you can right now. Have lives been lost? Have people been sacrificed?

JOHNSON: I don't know if lives have been lost yet, but we have to start with the damage to Mrs. Wilson. Her life has been put at risk. The people that she was working with overseas who were spies, they are potentially at risk. You could potentially have people dead because of this. But the odds of finding that out as far as the CIA coming forth and detailing it, we are not likely to hear that because they have to protect the sources and methods.

HEMMER: Jim, you appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday. Can you tell us what happened.

MARCHINKOWSKI: First off, the hearing was held by Senator Rockefeller and Senator Roberts on 72-hour notice. They were receptive to our request to have a closed session of the Intelligence Committee. Obviously it was a closed session, but I can say this. I believe all the members were very concerned. They were very sincere in their concern and I have confidence that they are going to do the right thing.

HEMMER: After listening to Larry, it sounds like, essentially the sky is falling in terms of the CIA around the world. Do you see it that way and did you get that sense in the hearing?

MARCHINKOWSKI: Yes, I did. I think the message is out there. This is an unprecedented act. This has never been done by the United States government before. The exposure of an undercover intelligence officer by the U.S. government is unprecedented. It's not the usual leak from Washington. The leak a week scenario is not at play here. This is a very, very serious event.

HEMMER: You are both registered Republicans, right? How concerned are you about the political gain that one side or the other may seek in this?

JOHNSON: That's what we have to get out of this. I don't know, Bill if you have any kids, they've gone to school on "opposite day" where they wear their clothes inside out and wear their shoes on the wrong feet. I feel like we're seeing opposite day. If a Democrat had done this, we would see the Republicans up in arms.

As a Republican, I think we need to be consistent on this. It doesn't matter who did it, it didn't matter which party was involved. This isn't about partisan politics. This is about protecting national security and national security assets and in this case there has been a betrayal, not only of the CIA officers there, but really a betrayal of those of us who have kept the secrets over the years on this point.

HEMMER: Do you think the leaker will be caught?

JOHNSON: I'm doubtful.

MARCHINKOWSKI: I have a little more hope. I hope that they will find this person and maybe they'll be exposed.

These guys don't quite get it. If a Democrat had done it - the press would be up in arms. Tweety would be on full-spittle mode. Fox News would trot out fancy news graphics and cool music (a lovely death march), etc...etc...

Lying Liars

Byron York of NRO distorts.

The Moonie Times distorts.

Alternative Universes

Many of Brad DeLong's commenters are unable (or simply being willfully obtuse) to understand his "alternative universe" post in which Scalia mocks his fellow justices for their Loving v. Virginia decision, which nullified miscegenation laws way back in 1967.

Brad's point, obviously, is that the legal principles that Scalia appeals to in order to mock the recent sodomy case would apply equally to Loving v. Virginia, and likely Brown v. Board of education and Dred Scott as well, at least according to this non-lawyer.

Conservatives rarely pipe up and say what they think about those decisions these days...

Better Journalism, Please

Okay, I know it's just a college paper, but on no planet does Hardball reach "millions per viewers" unless by that you mean "millions of viewers per month." But, good for Kucinich. All Democrats should boycott his show.

Insurance II

Yes I know it's the most anticipated event of the year, but I'm too lazy. Tomorrow...

Thursday, October 23, 2003


More fun with Tony:

WASHINGTON - Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (news - web sites) ridiculed his court's recent ruling legalizing gay sex, telling an audience of conservative activists Thursday that the ruling ignores the Constitution in favor of a modern, liberal sensibility.

The ruling, Scalia said, "held to be a constitutional right what had been a criminal offense at the time of the founding and for nearly 200 years thereafter."

Scalia adopted a mocking tone to read from the court's June ruling that struck down state antisodomy laws in Texas and elsewhere."

I'm sure some of my smarter readers can come up with some other fine examples of things which had been a criminal offense for a very long time but have since been ruled unconstitutional....

....ah, the good old days.

When black servants were reduced to slavery, the colonial governing classes redoubled their efforts to stamp out racial mixing. Miscegenation in this era was not only a serious breach of Puritan morality, but also a serious threat to slavery and the stability of the servile labor force.
The earliest record available against the cohabitation of black-white servants was the case of Hugh Davis, a white servant in Virginia who was sentenced to a public beating on Sept. 17, 1630, before an assembly of blacks and others for defiling himself with a Negro. It was required that he confesses as much the following Sabbath (Burger 10).
The first law to deter racial intermarriage was enacted in the early colonial period. The General Assembly of the Colony of Maryland in 1661 deplored the fact that there were many cases of intermarriage between white female servants and black slaves. It legislated that if any free born white woman intermarried with a black slave; she would have to serve her husbands master as long as the slave lived (Burger 10-11).
In 1681, a new Maryland law decreed that any freeborn white woman who married a black slave with the permission of the slave''s master could retain her freedom. However, the master or mistress of the intermarried slave and the clergyman performing the ceremony were to be penalized by a fine. This law was an attempt to deter racial intermarriage by shifting the penalty to those allegedly responsible for the action of slaves (Burger 11).
Some other colonies also legislated against black-white marriages. North Carolina in 1715 set up a heavy fine and a period of servitude for any white woman who married a Negro. It also provided a 50-pound fine to the clergyman who officiated. Massachusetts in 1705, and Pennsylvania in 1725 also passed similar legislation (Burger 11).
In the legislatures of several of the states which had no prohibitive laws to prevent black-white marriages, bills to prevent such, were introduced several times in states such as WI, MASS, CONN, WA, KS, MN, IA, IL, MI, OH, PA, NY. Congress also considered bills to prevent this in D.C. The states which had laws against black white marriages followed a similar pattern, mostly southern and western states, while northern ones had no laws. After the U.S. became a nation, eventually 33 states prohibited one or more forms of interracial marriage (Burger 13).
After the adoption of the 14th amendment to the constitution, July 28, 1868, the question immediately arose whether or not state laws prohibiting intermarriage denied colored people the equality guaranteed to them by the amendment. Most cases were decided in State courts and the laws were upheld (Burger 13).

In 1883, the United States Supreme Court upheld a state statute upholding a larger penalty for adultery or fornication when committed by members of different races (Pace vs. Alabama). A similar Florida statute was overturned in 1962, but even as late as 1964 (just 35 years ago folks), 19 states still had these laws existing (with Indiana and Wyoming being the two non-Southern states with laws against miscegenation) (David 1).

I look forward to Scalia reading from Loving v. Virginia in a mocking tone in front of Clarence and Virginia Thomas.

Santorum Supports Gay Marriage

No lie:

"And I'm not suggesting that single men -- heterosexual, homosexual -- [or] single women -- heterosexual, homosexual -- without children should get married. I mean that's -- if they want to get married, if that's the time of their life they want to do that, that's fine."

(thanks to jk)


Finally, someone points out the obvious inconsistency in the moral posturing of the jeebofascists - their lack of care about fertility treatments:

None of this matters if you believe that a microscopic embryo is a human being with the same human rights as you and me. George W. Bush claims to believe that, and you have to believe something like that to justify your opposition to stem-cell research. But Bush cannot possibly believe that embryos are full human beings, or he would surely oppose modern fertility procedures that create and destroy many embryos for each baby they bring into the world. Bush does not oppose modern fertility treatments. He even praised them in his anti-stem-cell speech.

The rest is pretty good too.

Identity Politics

Republican style:

When he replaced Sen. Trent Lott (Miss.) as Majority Leader, Sen. Bill Frist (Tenn.) was supposed to usher in a new era of good relations between GOP leaders and black voters.

But Democrats are howling about an e-mail Senate Republicans sent out in advance of Wednesday’s confirmation hearing for Janice Rogers Brown, a black woman who has been nominated to a federal judgeship.

The e-mail invited “black journalists and reporters” to participate in a conference call on the nomination battle, according to The New York Post.

Apparently realizing the odd nature of limiting the call to scribes of one skin color, the GOP quickly fired off a slightly improved — but still tortured — e-mail inviting all “reporters on the judicial nominees beat as well as African-American journalists” to join the call.

60 Years From Now...

Whose Pulitzer will get pulled for simply parroting administration propaganda?

The executive editor of the New York Times said Wednesday that the paper has no objection if the Pulitzer Prize board wants to revoke an award granted to one of its reporters 71 years ago.

Stepping into a simmering controversy over whether Walter Duranty deserved the prize for his largely favorable reporting on Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union, Bill Keller said the paper has notified the board that the Times considers Duranty's work "pretty dreadful ... It was a parroting of propaganda."

After a review conducted by a history professor, Keller said, the Times essentially told the board in a letter that "it's up to you to decide whether to take it back. We can't unaward it. Here's our assessment of the guy's work: His work was clearly not prizeworthy."

Hey, Bill, why don't you spend a little time looking at more recent history?


You sure don't hear much about the Chi-Coms anymore, do you. Bush says that "We see a China to secure the freedom of its own people."

Aside from the absurdity of this, it shows how Bush thinks. He's talking about China's involvement in the "war on terra." As long as you are with us in the war on terra, you are working to secure the freedom of your people, regardless of the human rights abuses of your own government.

La La La La

All's well in wingnut land.

All Hail the Clenis

Still comitting acts of horrible destruction all around the planet:

Former President Bill Clinton has secured a deal with four generic-drug companies to provide low-cost AIDS drugs in the developing world, an aide to the former president said Thursday.

The agreement, which was to be announced at a news conference later Thursday, will cut the price of a triple-drug regimen to about 38 cents a day.


The deal, brokered by the William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation, was reported Thursday in The Wall Street Journal and confirmed by the Clinton aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The companies involved -- three Indian companies and one South African firm -- opened their books to a group of Clinton advisers, who then worked with the companies to cut costs.

Patented versions of the regimen run at least $1.54 per day. Where available, the discounted generic regimen costs 55 cents per day.

Fox vs. Fox

Man, this is horrible. That was a great episode:

Fox News loves lawyers all right. Cartoonist and The Simpsons godfather Matt Groenig tells this story on Terry Gross' Fresh Air today (and repeated tonignt on KERA at 7 p.m.) Seems The Simpsons did a Fox News parody, including use of the news crawl on the cartoon segment. Fox News threatened to sue. (Sounds like Al Franken all over again.) The Simpsons stood firm. Fox News backed down. Mr. Groenig figured Fox mobul Rupert Murdoch saw no percentage in the suit: Fox News suing a program appearing on the Fox Network. Hmmm. But if I heard the interview correctly, you won't see any new episodes with the Fox News crawl under Homer and Bart's antics: as a policy matter the network asked the cartoon to drop the concept because viewers might be confused that they're watching real news. I did not make this up.

Shows what Fox thinks about the intelligence of its viewers.


The World's Greatest Living Author, and teabagging afficianado, Neal Pollack will be on the Daily Show this evening.

Move On

Go give some money to Move On.

You can give here.

New Alterman Column

Alterman has a new gig editing/writing a media column for the Center for American Progress. Check out the debut.

New Unemployment Claims Drop for Second Week

Well, not really. Only through the magic of revisions does this happen. Wampum explains.

Congratulations, as always, to the 386K new jobless, as well as the 6,000 we neglected to congratulate last week.

Lucky Duckies, every one.

Pop Quiz

While we're on the evils of big government, under which administration was the (essentially) national drinking age of 21 implemented:

Was it:

a) Carter
b) Reagan
c) Bush I
d) Clinton

Bonus points for the (now) Senator who came up with the idea.

I suppose it doesn't matter. As Instapundit has taught us, it only matters who is popularly identified, through the creative use of propaganda, with the policy.

Easterbrook Email Maybe Not Fake

The person who originally posted the Easterbrook email which has since disappeared claims it was legit. (see comments) I have no way to judge the veracity of this, either way. Someone is lying, someone isn't.



YORK: Well, not at all. Actually, he stressed he did not want to compare Bush to Hitler in a genocidal sense. If you can compare someone to Hitler in a non-genocidal sense, I suppose that is what he is doing. But he seemed to firmly believe that the Bush family fortune had indeed come from Nazi investments made by George W. Bush's grandfather, Prescott Bush.

And you know, this is something that you normally see on the farthest fringes of the political debate, on both sides. The interesting thing about Drobny's writings is that this is someone who's really quite in the mainstream of what is perhaps the premier liberal outreach effort, which is the talk radio effort. And he's put in a lot of money and has been quite praised by a number of liberal commentators for his work.

You know, I don't think the Prescott Bush thing is a big deal, at least as it relates to his grandson. But, it's basically an established fact that some of the Bush family fortune did indeed come from illegal dealing with the Nazis.

Facts are like kryptonite to these people.


Reader pd writes in:

What do you think of this InstaPundit guy? I had astrange encounter with him that I thought you mightfind humorous. I did.

InstaPundit wrote a column for somthing called TechCentral Station ( He linked to it from That's how I found it.)

I won't get too far into the details of the argument he made in the piece -- basically he likened weblogsto CB radio in that they both were a response to government overreaching. You can check it out yourself. Anyway, what I found interesting was that he built his whole argument around the "fact" that Jimmy Carter has instituted the 55 mph speed limit. He called it "Jimmy Carter's 55 mph speed limit." Then he went on to say, "Like CB, [weblogs] may well vanish from public attention, if not from the actual world (plenty of CB radios still get sold, after all). And they'll probably be replaced, or absorbed by, new technology within a few years. But they're popular right now because people want to get around Big Media's stranglehold on news and information, just as Bs were popular with people who wanted to get around Jimmy Carter's speed limits. And, like Jimmy Carter, Big Media folks seem largely clueless about what's going on."

So I wrote an email to InstaPundit and told him that the speed limit was signed into law by Nixon and that it was law for 21 years -- only four of which were Carter years, and 14 of which there was a Republican in the White House. So what did InstaPundit do? I figured he'd take the whole column down, since it was clearly a load of hooey. But no! Without noting that he had made the correction, he changed the sentence that credited the law to Carter from "Jimmy Carter's 55 mph speed limit" to "Actually passed in 1974, but popularly identified with Jimmy Carter's 'moral equivalent of war'..." And he changed nothing else! He kept all that stuff about Carter this and Carter that. He kept the stuff about how the speed limit and CBs might have had something to do with Reagan being elected (nevermind that Reagan spent 8 years in office and the speed limit remained law the entire time).

Can you believe this? I don't know. I'm getting the idea the guy is a bit of a fraud. Even on his main site,, he's got updates to his original link to this column on TechStationWhatever, but he doesn't note that he made a crucial error in the piece and then corrected it. He doesn't say anywhere he made an error! He reminds me of some big media outlet that doesn't think it has to acknowledge its mistakes or be held accountable. I don't know Maybe I'm being harsh.

Instapundit writes:

In fact, it's probably not too much of a stretch to say that this combination of resentment over Big Brother intrusiveness, coupled with the means of resisting those intrusions, laid the groundwork for the anti-government explosions of the 1980s. A lot of people used CB radio to evade the unpopular speed limit, and Carter wound up losing to Ronald Reagan, who preached individual freedom and deregulation. It's hard to know which way the causality runs here -- did CB make Reagan's election more likely, by fanning the flames of anti-bureaucratic sentiment? Or was it just an early indicator of that sentiment? Who knows?

But either way, it was something important. And so it is with weblogs. Like CB, they may well vanish from public attention, if not from the actual world (plenty of CB radios still get sold, after all). And they'll probably be replaced, or absorbed by, new technology within a few years. But they're popular right now because people want to get around Big Media's stranglehold on news and information, just as CBs were popular with people who wanted to get around Jimmy Carter's speed limits. And, like Jimmy Carter, Big Media folks seem largely clueless about what's going on.

UPDATE: In email, CCd to me, Instapundit claims he fixed the error. You be the judge.

I suppose this is similar to, "Saddam Hussein, popularly identified with the 9/11 attacks..."

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

An Insurance Primer

When talking about the issue of health insurance, I'm startled about the degree of ignorance about just what insurance is for. Leaving aside the issue of how insurance should be provided, I've noticed that there are plenty of people who seem to object to the very concept of insurance. It's as if they see insurance, even private insurance, as an opportunity for people to get something they didn't pay for.

I. Insurance in General

Why do we buy insurance (Life, Auto, Homeowner's, Health, etc...)? The reason we buy insurance is that we don't like risk and uncertainty. Individuals are risk averse - that is, all things being equal, we prefer certain outcomes to uncertain ones. Suppose you had two choices -- either you could choose a job which gave you an income next year of $100,000, or one in which you had a 50% chance of receiving an income of $50,000 and a 50% chance of receiving an income of $150,000. Risk aversion leads to individuals choosing the former. The expected, or mean, income in both cases is the same, but the second choice increases uncertainty.

We buy insurance to remove risk from our lives. We care about it - but insurance firms with a lot of customers don't. If we think about, say, theft insurance - if a company has a portfolio of 10,000 customers, each of whom has a 20% chance of having $2,000 stolen from them - then an actuarially fair price for theft insurance would be .2*2,000 or $400. With enough customers, the insurance company faces no risk - about 2000 customers get robbed in any given year, give or take. By having a pool of customers, the insurance company has no risk (well, perhaps some -- see tomorrow's entry in this fascinating series), and the insurance buyers have paid money to remove the risk from their lives. Each year they will "lose" $400 to the insurance company, and if they get robbed the company will cover their losses. Obviously, in the real world actuarial tables are more complicated than this, but the basic rule applies.

II. Why Insurance is Different

The market for insurance can, roughly speaking, satisfy some of the requirements for being a competitive market, but nonetheless the insurance market will always be different from other markets for two key reasons - moral hazard and adverse selection.

Moral hazard is the more obvious one. Insurance doesn't just remove the risk of things we have no control over - it also removes the risk of things we do have some control over. If we don't suffer the consequences of riskier behavior, we'll be more likely to engage in it. The standard example is that collision damage loss waiver on that shiny new rental car. Check that box, and beat the hell out of the thing. Who cares? It's a rental and it's insured.

Adverse selection brings out another key difference of insurance - the fact that insurance markets operate under imperfect information. Generally, the buyer of insurance has a better idea how risky his/her behavior is, and therefore how costly they will be on average, than does the seller. Let's assume there are two types of individuals - high risk and low risk. High risk individuals have a much greater probability of experiencing a costly event than do low risk. People know their own types, but the insurers do not. So, an actuarially fair (and competitive) insurance price would be based on the average level of risk. The problem is, this price is a *very* good deal for high risk types, but generally a *bad* deal for low risk types. In other words, only high risk individuals buy insurance and low risk individuals don't.... but, since only high risk individuals buy insurance, the "actuarially fair" price will reflect the fact that the risk pool only includes these individuals.

Continuing tomorrow with why health insurance is different...

Chickenhawks Speak

It isn't their kids/husbands/wives/parents.

Symbols, Signs, and Portents

Remember all the silly puff pieces that were written about how the coronation of the boy king would usher in a new era of Texas Chic in the nation's capital?

Guess not...

Memo Not Leaked

Eric from Is That Legal is correct - the Rumsfeld memo wasn't leaked, but handed out. what a tempest in a teapot.


Maybe doin bizness at home ain't so bad after all:

A woman in Pakistan doing cut-rate clerical work for UCSF Medical Center threatened to post patients' confidential files on the Internet unless she was paid more money.To show she was serious, the woman sent UCSF an e-mail earlier this month with actual patients' records attached.

The violation of medical privacy - apparently the first of its kind - highlights the danger of "offshoring" work that involves sensitive materials, an increasing trend among budget-conscious U.S. companies and institutions.

U.S. laws maintain strict standards to protect patients' medical data. But those laws are virtually unenforceable overseas, where much of the labor- intensive transcribing of dictated medical notes to written form is being exported.

"This was an egregious breach," said Tomi Ryba, chief operating officer of UCSF Medical Center. "We took this very, very seriously."

She stressed that the renowned San Francisco facility is not alone in facing the risk of patients' confidential information being used as leverage by unscrupulous members of the increasingly global health-care industry.

Break Fast


People close to the president say that his conversion to evangelical Methodism, after a life of aimless carousing, markedly informs his policies, both foreign and domestic. In the soon-to-be-published The Faith of George W. Bush (Tarcher/Penguin), a sympathetic account of this religious journey, author Stephen Mansfield writes (in the advance proofs) that in the election year 2000, Bush told Texas preacher James Robison, one of his spiritual mentors: "I feel like God wants me to run for president. I can't explain it, but I sense my country is going to need me. . . . I know it won't be easy on me or my family, but God wants me to do it."

Mansfield also reports: "Aides found him face down on the floor in prayer in the Oval Office. It became known that he refused to eat sweets while American troops were in Iraq, a partial fast seldom reported of an American president. And he framed America's challenges in nearly biblical language. Saddam Hussein is an evildoer. He has to go." The author concludes: " . . . the Bush administration does deeply reflect its leader, and this means that policy, even in military matters, will be processed in terms of the personal, in terms of the moral, and in terms of a sense of divine purpose that propels the present to meet the challenges of its time."


Bush was in an expansive mood on the flight from Indonesia to Australia, wearing an Air Force One flight jacket, snacking noisily on a butterscotch sweets and chopping the air for emphasis.

(thanks to sdent)

Gene Lyons

Nice one:

Either Rush Limbaugh’s former housekeeper has been doping my morning coffee or we are living in Bizarro World. If you don’t recall the old DC comics, Bizarro World was created accidentally by the mad scientist Lex Luthor in a futile quest to clone Superman for evil purposes. Bizarro Superman turned out to have most of the Man of Steel’s powers, but none of his intelligence. Greenish in hue and speaking pidgin English like Tarzan or George W. Bush, he showed up at the Daily Planet and began stalking Lois Lane. Needless to say, the real Superman defeated his rival in aerial combat, although Bizarro World adventures became a continuing theme, a distorted mirror image of the Caped Crusader’s preferred reality of "Truth, Justice and the American Way." So has Lex Luthor cloned the GOP? The State Department’s battling the Pentagon over Iraq, the CIA’s at war with the White House over who leaked a covert operative’s identity, Rush Limbaugh’s a junkie, a steroid-enhanced masher’s governor of California, a threestar general’s making speeches claiming that God appointed George W. Bush to fight a holy war against Satan’s Islamic allies, and what’s the big problem worrying conservative pundits? Why, a scourge of irrational "Bush haters."



An Adult Republican

Thank Jeebus one of them behaves like one every now and again:

The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee called yesterday for the temporary reassignment of a Pentagon official who made church speeches casting the war on terrorism in religious terms.

Senator John W. Warner, Republican of Virginia, said Lieutenant General William G. Boykin should step aside during a Pentagon investigation of Boykin's comments.


The letter from Warner and Levin warns that Boykin's comments could endanger US soldiers. "Public statements by a senior military official of an inflammatory, offensive nature that would denigrate another religion and which could be construed as bigotry may easily be exploited by enemies of the United States and contribute to an erosion of support within the Arab world, and perhaps increased risk for members of the US Armed Forces serving in Muslim nations," the senators said.


Down, Down, Down...

Yummy polls:

10/15-19/03 50 42 8
9/17-22/03 55 36 9



10/15-18/03 49 51
9/22-24/03 50 49 1


Instapundit, May 7, 2003:

"Donald Luskin is stalking Paul Krugman..."

Instapundit, Yesterday:

PAUL KRUGMAN'S UNRAVELLING: He's accusing Donald Luskin of being a stalker, in the literal, not figurative sense.

I believe the actual term is "critic."

(thanks to a comment by Tim Lambert over at Crooked Timber)
Does this mean that Glenn Reynolds has already unravelled?

Still Crazy After All These Years

Charles Dodgson takes a look at Safire's latest.

Does Affluence Fuel Spirituality?

By Gregg Easterbrook.

Pentagon II

The USA Today article about this leaked Rumsfeld memo emphasizes how the grim picture painted in it is at odds with Rumsfeld's public "Shiny Happy Iraqi People" public pronouncements. But, the paragraph that jumped out at me was this one:

DoD has been organized, trained and equipped to fight big armies, navies and air forces. It is not possible to change DoD fast enough to successfully fight the global war on terror; an alternative might be to try to fashion a new institution, either within DoD or elsewhere — one that seamlessly focuses the capabilities of several departments and agencies on this key problem.

In other words, nothing is Rumsfeld's fault and in fact he probably needs his own personal para-military strike force under his personal command to avoid all those pesky DoD people whose advice he keeps ignoring.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Rush's Rehab

Oh man, here's some karma:

From "psychodynamic role-playing and yoga" to "adventure therapy," "Climbing Wall," "the desert experience" and "equine-assisted therapy" (yes, bonding with horses), Limbaugh may just think he died and went to "feminazi" hell. The website depicts photos of people with a decidedly Berkeley look sitting around on the floor in what seem like consciousness-raising sessions. Picture Rush holding his fellow travelers’ hands and singing Kumbayah. Surely he’ll be reciting a line from the very president he lambasted for years: "I feel your pain." How many on the right would have thought that Bill Clinton would be getting the last chuckle, out there aiding his feminazi wife’s successful political career while their man Rush is wandering the desert reciting New Age mantras?

"Self-discovery often crystallizes during an experience that requires physical and mental exertion in the face of a potentially fearful activity," the description for the Climbing Wall says. "With its height and verticality, the Climbing Wall serves as an important therapeutic metaphor."

Yes, I’m sure some of you would pay to watch Limbaugh scale that wall. But me, I’d like to observe him during "creative expression therapy," which includes "art therapy, journaling, meditation" and "clap outs, historygrams, reading assignments" as well as…"sculpting." These techniques, the website explains, "deepen the journey to self-discovery."

But it’s the horse-bonding that really may change Rush’s life.

"Equine-Assisted Therapy is an interactive therapy modality in which participants work one-on-one with horses in a metaphoric experience." Sounds kinky, but apparently there is an adult present. "This program utilizes a trained equine therapist to help interpret behaviors, ask questions, and facilitate the experience."

Another Victory for the Doctrine of Pre-Emption

If the Moonie Times (and drudge) is to be believed, Pakistan is going to give Saudi some nukes.

If you were SA what would you do? The only deterrence to preemption is having the thing it's trying to preempt.

Easterbrook Email a Fake

Not too surprised. It did set off the bullshit detector, which I should have heeded a bit more. My post implied a small degree of skepticism, but not nearly enough. Apologies all around.

Gay Bishops are Just Like the Rise of Hitler


Three weeks after announcing their marriage in St. Luke's, Jean and Toby are back at church again -- and this time it is Toby who is nervous. In news that made headlines across the country, the Episcopal national convention recently decided to approve an openly gay bishop and voted to recognize that some dioceses hold blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples. Those votes have split the St. Luke's congregation. "This is a challenging time for a lot of really solid churchgoing Christians," says Father Marcia, "and I'm aware of that on a very definite level." At St. Luke's, some parishioners are angry that their bishop voted to approve the ruling, and though Father Marcia agrees with the bishop's decisions, she has called a meeting of the congregation after the Sunday service to talk about it. One of the issues to be discussed is Toby. Currently, St. Luke's parish does not have a sacrament blessing same-sex marriage -- and although Toby accepts and does not expect that to change with the recent ruling, many in the parish don't know that. A change would be disastrous, says church member Annie Holmes, one of the few Democrats in the parish. "If the new pastor wants to institute some kind of sacrament," she says, "that will really drive people into the arms of a more conservative church." Financially, St. Luke's can't afford to lose a single member.

The meeting is held after service in the ugly, grayish community room. Father Marcia's white collar peeks out from under her flowered dress as she sweeps past the rickety folding chairs and round tables filled with people. Bill Gausewitz, the senior warden and meeting officiant, stands. "I want to explain what the rulings actually were," he says. "They confirmed an openly homosexual bishop. They authorized local dioceses to establish rites of blessing gay marriages, and recognized that parishes are dealing with this in their own ways." He clears his throat. "I want St. Luke's to be open and welcoming to anyone who wants to come here ... Some people say they don't want to keep going to this church if the convention is going to ... I say that the convention doesn't change anything for our diocese." A few people glance surreptitiously at Toby, who looks only at the warden.

"Besides, there was a time when Father Marcia wouldn't be here," Gausewitz says. "Somehow that's worked." The room erupts in laughter and the tension eases -- for all except one older woman, who is visibly shaking with anger as she stands up. "There's no comparison," she says, "between the ordaining of a moral woman and a twice-divorced man who's been living with another man. We've got to protest. I remember Germany in the '30s and nobody protested and you know what we got from that."

Matter Meets Anti-Matter

The end is near.

Not so Rosy

Looks like the Bushies are changing their tune:

On October 21, The New York Times reported that Treasury Secretary John Snow projected that the economy will generate two million additional jobs, about 200,000 per month, before next year’s election. This new number is a huge retreat from the administration’s previous projection made when it was selling its tax cuts. In February the Council of Economic Advisers projected 344,000 per month job growth starting in mid-2003 if the tax cuts were passed and roughly 250,000 jobs created per month without the tax cuts.
Monthly job creation of 200,000 and maintaining unemployment at its current level is far from a satisfactory economic performance. It takes 170,000 new jobs each month just to provide jobs for an expanding population and workforce and 300,000 new jobs each month to lower the unemployment rate by one percentage point over the course of a year.


The Florida lege is behaving as expected in all this. I propose a simple solution to this - just tell all the Freepers that her medical care is being paid for by taxpayers and they'll stop caring.


30 soldiers have followed the lead of their commander in chief.

The military is fuzzily claiming that there are extenuating circumstances and official permission for some, but...

Pedophile Porn

There's really no other way to describe the media fascination with Elizabeth Smart.

The Economist Gets Letters


SIR – You take to task the spies and politicians in Britain and America who have, you say, misled their publics about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction (“Wielders of mass deception?”, October 4th). Should you not also include yourselves? In making the case for war, you repeatedly spoke of those weapons as though it were a proven fact that they existed. You asserted that Saddam Hussein “has been building stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons for 20 years, and is trying to develop nuclear weapons too” (“Pre-empting threats, threatening pre-emption”, September 28th 2002). Earlier you had said: “To those who, when told that Iraq is a mortal threat to the peace of the world, say ‘prove it’, the only sane reply is: what more proof could anyone need?” (“Confronting Iraq”, September 14th 2002). You dismissed anybody who might “swallow” Mr Hussein's plea that he had no proscribed weapons as “either a fool or a knave” (“Burden of proof”, February 8th). Now you coyly say that The Economist was not among the very few people who believed that Mr Hussein had given up his weapons. Shouldn't you have the guts to admit that you helped to propagate the very “exaggerations” that you now lay at the door of spies and politicians?

Michael Alvear

If a Tree Falls in the Woods...

If no one sees any dead soldiers, do they really exist?

To this problem, the Bush administration has found a simple solution: It has ended the public dissemination of such images by banning news coverage and photography of dead soldiers' homecomings on all military bases.

In March, on the eve of the Iraq war, a directive arrived from the Pentagon at U.S. military bases. "There will be no arrival ceremonies for, or media coverage of, deceased military personnel returning to or departing from Ramstein [Germany] airbase or Dover [Del.] base, to include interim stops," the Defense Department said, referring to the major ports for the returning remains.

A Pentagon spokeswoman said the military-wide policy actually dates from about November 2000 -- the last days of the Clinton administration -- but it apparently went unheeded and unenforced, as images of caskets returning from the Afghanistan war appeared on television broadcasts and in newspapers until early this year. Though Dover Air Force Base, which has the military's largest mortuary, has had restrictions for 12 years, others "may not have been familiar with the policy," the spokeswoman said. This year, "we've really tried to enforce it."


A White House spokesman said Bush has not attended any memorials or funerals for soldiers killed in action during his presidency as his predecessors had done, although he has met with families of fallen soldiers and has marked the loss of soldiers in Memorial Day and Sept. 11, 2001, remembrances.

500 million for 500 Jobs

Those pesky small government Republicans are at it again.

Bush Haters

From the owner of Free Republic, from which Brit Hume graciously accepted an award:

I believe that as long as Bill and Hillary Clinton and their like minded socialist minions have any influence or power over the government or either of the two major political parties, our nation and all of our freedoms are in extreme danger.

Free Republic was created in 1996 as a place where liberty-minded individuals could gather and share the news and discuss the Clinton scandals and other government abuses. I had hoped that the truth of the Clinton corruption would come out in time to prevent his re-election in 1996. Didn't happen. So we moved on. If we couldn't block his re-election, well, perhaps we could help with his impeachment. He was impeached, but we could not remove him.

So next, we decide to do all in our power to ensure that his second in command does not get to the Whitehouse. Even though GWB was not my first choice, once he won the Republican nomination, most of us rallied behind him and fought like the dickens to get him elected. Then we fought again to block the attempted Gore coup d'etat. Our Free Republic chapters mobilized all across the nation and there were thousands of rallies and protests in hundreds of cities objecting loudly to Gore's attempted takeover.

Then we all thanked God when Bush was finally declared the winner and off to Washington we went to celebrate at the Free Republic George W. Bush Inaugural Ball


I see the Democrat Party as domestic enemy number one of the Constitution and therefor it is my sworn enemy. And, in my eyes, anyone who helps to elect members of the Democrat party are aiding and abetting the enemy.


One of the main purposes of our government is to defend, preserve and protect our liberty. It has been doing just the opposite. Therefore, it is our right and duty to alter or abolish it. I propose doing so by destroying enemy number one of the Constitution, the corrupt socialist Democrat Party.

Free Speech

By Gregg Easterbrook:

In this time of semi-war, is free speech threatened when those who denounce U.S. foreign policy or sympathize with America's adversaries are themselves denounced? Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D., Ga.) complained last week that she was being "attacked for speaking" because she made an overture to a Saudi prince with anti-Israeli politics. Several college instructors around the country have been assailed by editorialists and students for condemning the U.S., reactions Ruth Flowers, an official of the American Association of University Professors, told the Washington Post "harken back to McCarthyism."

Set aside the hypersensitivity of equating mere criticism with the darkness of McCarthyism. What's at work here is fundamental misunderstanding of the First Amendment. It guarantees a right to free speech, but hardly guarantees speech will be without cost.


And so, though Robert Jensen has the right to say what he does, his university's president has an equal right to call him a fool. When talk show host Bill Maher says the September terrorists were brave and American pilots are cowardly, his comments fully merit First Amendment protection. But the advertisers who yanked support from his show were also within their rights: That A may speak hardly means B must fund A's speech...

But the fact that Mr. Berthold has a First Amendment right to say that he wishes the Pentagon destroyed does not mean such speech comes without cost. Students, administrators and local leaders have a First Amendment right to find his views repulsive. Taxpayers have a First Amendment right to call for his dismissal. (No one has a right to send Mr. Berthold threats, and he has received some; "true threats" are crimes that should be prosecuted.) Writers have a First Amendment right to use Mr. Berthold as an example of the ingrates who benefit from American freedom while disparaging its guardians.

Speech must be free, but cannot be without cost.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Every time I try to get out...

They pull me back in. Okay, I just have to link to this post which supposely contains an email from Easterbrook. Linked without comment.

...see also the antic muse who isn't on the blogroll for some reason...

A Beautiful Mind

Barbara Bush to Democrats: You're a sorry group.

Barbara Bush to soldiers:

"Why should we hear about body bags and deaths and how many, what day it's going to happen, and how many this or what do you suppose? Oh, I mean, it's, not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?"

Hitchens on Bush

People do not like to admit that they have been gulled or conned, so a vested interest in the myth was permitted to arise, and a lazy media never bothered to ask any follow-up questions.


Forgotten were the elementary rules of logic, that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and that what can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence. More than that, we witnessed the elevation and consecration of extreme dogmatism, blinkered faith, and the cult of a mediocre human personality.

Well, okay, not about Bush, but...

(from reader dd)

TNR Apologizes

Anyway, I'm going Easterbrook free for awhile before I start sounding like Gollum Luskin. I'll just say that my reaction to this should be rather obvious given what I've already written.

Okay, one more thing. Shorter Jack Shafer: Though we spend our entire careers judging politicians for minor slips of the tongue and inconsistencies during countless stump speeches and off the cuff remarks, it is unthinkable that we, as journalists, could be held to the same standard.

Feel the Love

Slyblog has some comments on double standards regarding bigotry.

Super-Sizing the Snark

I like what Big Media Matt has been doing over at the American Prospect. He's always channeled a bit of that understated Kinsley-esque snark, and surprisingly it seems to come out more on their weblog than on his own.


It was too late last night so I didn't pick up on it, but Brad DeLong notices the absurdity of recent Treasury official comments.

Apparently, interest rates can rise and not rise. Must be a quantum mechanics thing.

If only I had tea and no tea...

All Hail King Me

Thanks, Tom.

Some Context

Awhile back Democratic Congressman Jim Moran was almost condemned, and forced to step down from his (rather minor) leadership position, over these remarks:

"If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq we would not be doing this," Moran said, in comments first reported by the Reston Connection and confirmed by Moran. "The leaders of the Jewish community are influential enough that they could change the direction of where this is going and I think they should."

At the time Instapundit called it a "Trent Lott Moment for the Democrats." Of course, unlike Trent Lott who was demoted to the 4th or 5th most prestigious job in the senate, Moran was given the boot.

Compare this to the "get Easterbrook his old job back!" movement which he now seems to be spearheading.

Moran is an elected representative and Easterbrook is a journalist, so the two things aren't perfectly comparable. But, Easterbrook's comments were to me as bad as Moran's, and both of their subsequent apologies were also bad (Easterbrook's was worse). Easterbrook likely lost his job basically for criticizing the boss, and as I said previously this shows the dangers of big media consolidation. I have no real opinion on whether in some ideal world he should still have his ESPN gig, but in the real world you don't criticize your boss the way he did and keep the job. The Mouse is known for its sensitivity about anyone who dares tarnish their brand. But, in any case I find the rallying around him rather creepy.

More on Insiders

Josh Marshall responds to what I posted last night. I want to add that it wasn't meant to be an attack on him for his response to the Easterbrook thing, or a specific attack on Alterman, or anyone else. Was just trying to comment on the general issue.


Reader am writes in:

I wrote to the BBC Online asking why they were reporting casualties as killed rather than killed/wounded/captured - why the word is not being used as in the English language. Attached is their response, and I find it informative. Apparently, US Central Command gets to redefine words as they please and the BBC, on bended knee, conforms to USCC usage.


Begin forwarded message:

From: "NewsOnline"
Date: Mon Oct 20, 2003 7:57:46 AM US/Eastern
To: [x]
Subject: RE: Factual Error report.

Dear Sir/Madam

Thank you for your email. We use US Central Command's definition of
casualties in the war in Iraq, which only refers to those who have been
killed. Thank you for your interest in the BBC News website.

Pet Peeves

One of my pet peeves is that there is a class of opinion journalists who seem to be immune from harsh criticism from either "mainstream" or "leftist" media critics. Roughly speaking, that's the center right crowd including, but not limited to, the merry gangs at TNR and Slate. People like the folks at TAP, or Josh Marshall, or Eric Alterman, have no problems taking potshots at genuine movement conservatives like Jonah Goldberg, etc... But, for some reason they usually (but not always) balk at taking a harsh look at people like Easterbrook, or Jack Shafer, or Kaus, etc... I'm not entirely sure why -- these people never give the center-left to left crowd any quarter. And, more importantly, the Right usually lays off because they serve their purposes well -- they help to mainstream some truly poisonous beliefs.

So, when the inner bigot of someone like Easterbrook comes galloping out it causes me to react. I mean, in the last few weeks Easterbrook has declared that legally "no" shouldn't be enough to mean "no," he's stated that the ADL criticizes anti-Semitism for financial gain, he's glossed over the real controversy in Mel Gibson's film (I'll agree that reasonable people - particularly reasonable people who haven't seen the film - can disagree on this one, but Easterbrook provides a dishonest coverage of this issue), and of course did his bizarre bit to hold Jews to a higher standard and then subsequently providing a non-apology for it.

I understand why journalists tend to be hesitant to go after each other. It's easier when the objects of criticism are movement partisans - there's really no way Jonah Goldberg is going to lose his job at National Review regardless of what he says or what is said about him. But, when the ideological allegiances are less clear, I can see how journalists get nervous. No one wants to lose all their writing gigs over one dumbass thing they wrote one day. No working journalist wants to see the precedent of that happening to someone else.

I'm not one who thinks Blogging is going to revolutionize the universe. I tend to be skeptical about the degree of bloggers' influence, even when it's being acknowledged by Big Media. But, I do think that genuine media criticism is all but impossible for people "in the business." Ideological disputes, sure, but not actual criticism.

Back when I started blogging I had a generous invitation from Brian Linse to go to a blogger party out in LA. The main reason I didn't go was because Little Mickey Kaus was going to be there, and I knew that once I met him and discovered that he seemed like a nice enough chap, and he had a delightful macrame hobby, and that, well, he was human, I'd find it very hard to maintain the appropriate level of contempt.* I know not all journalists actually know each other, but there's great overlap in the circles in which they run, and they can all empathize with each others' plight to a greater or lesser degree.

Anyway, I don't know if Easterbrook should lose his job at ESPN or anywhere else, but I am shocked at the lame defenses/mute condemnations of his truly disgusting belief system.

*Sadly, I missed my chance to meet Warron Zevon, but...
**Creepily, Charles Johnson was there too, although that was before the world's longest meltdown was in full swing...

Sunday, October 19, 2003

The Return of PLA

Dwight Meredith will be the occasional guest poster over at Wampum.

...and there was much rejoicing throughout the land.


Maybe the more experienced Fedwatcher Brad DeLong will correct me, but I don't think it's really normal for the Treasury Sec. to be commenting on expectations about the Fed's actions.

Enjoy the ride on bond prices tomorrow..

...Revise and resubmit:

BANGKOK (Dow Jones)--A senior Bush administration official Monday sought to clarify comments on interest rates made by Treasury Secretary John Snow and said Snow was talking about general economic theory and not about U.S. policies.

The Times of London interviewed Snow and quoted the Treasury Secretary as saying he would be "frustrated and concerned" if U.S. interest rates did not begin rising at some point in the future.

The senior administration official said that Snow was only pointing out that when economies begin picking up steam, there is an increased demand for money which naturally pushes interest rates higher.

The U.S. official said Snow was not talking about U.S. monetary policy nor was he indicating Treasury yields would rise.

The U.S. Federal Reserve sets monetary policy, and it is independent of the Bush administration.

Snow's comments initially triggered a rise in the dollar on foreign exchange markets after some market players came to the conclusion he was talking about U.S. policy in his comments.

Even if the reporter muddled the story, if the quotes are correct he went far beyond what is being said in this "correction."

The Strike that Isn't

Inspired by this Calpundit post, I went searching for some more information about the California supermarket "strike." While the liberal media portrays this as a strike by the workers, the majority of the 70,000 or so who are "on strike" were actually locked out by management.

Left Behind

Slacktivist is reading it so we don't have to.

Real Life Sucks

Particularly when it prevents Jim from blogging.

I suggest clicking here:

The Red Menace

Health Care poll:

By almost a 2-1 margin in this poll, 62 percent to 32 percent, Americans said they preferred a universal system that would provide coverage to everyone under a government program, as opposed to the current employer-based system.

That support drops significantly, however, if universal coverage would mean a limited choice of doctors or longer waits for nonemergency treatment.

When people were asked the question slightly differently in a poll a year ago, they were less enthusiastic. Asked if they wanted a taxpayer-funded, health care system run by the government, fewer than half said yes.


The issue with Boykin isn't that we have a crazy bigoted End Timeser who is a Lieutenant General, the issue is that we have a crazy bigoted anti-Muslim End Timeser who has a key role in our current "crusade." The fact that he had his job in the first place, and the fact that he isn't being reshuffled to some less sensitive position demonstrates that the people running the show just don't give a damn about how many of our soldiers get killed. The cute little kids over at Little Green Footballs seem to think the pronouncements of our militant Mullahs are somehow A-Ok, but I guarantee Boykin has done wonders for Al Qaeda's latest pledge drive.

Arthur Silber has more.

UPDATE: The cute kids at LGF don't even like being linked to anymore. Strange people.

If you're desperate to read it, you can probably manually C&P this:


Sullivan discovers that his church doesn't like gay people, even the hairy bear ones like him.

There are moments when I wish to credit Sullivan for his desire to change institutions from within, but his periodic naive realizations that "hey, they really do hate me!" serve to demonstrate that his alliances are opportunistic, not strategic. No one is that stupid.

I do assume his faith, at least, is genuine, so I have some sympathy there. But, on the other hand, he seems to have little respect for other's religions, or lack of, so...

Excess Capacity

For some reasons many conservative deep economic thinkers tend to confuse microeconomic incentives and macroeconomic outcomes. Case in point - the notion that providing tax reductions to businesses and tax cuts for rich people would lead to "greater investment," which would lead to new jobs, which would lead to more paychecks, which would...finally...lead to more demand for the crap the firms were trying to sell in the first place.

It's sort of putting the cart before the horse - arguing that firms will invest in greater capacity anticipating that if every other firm in the economy does the same, the increased incomes for workers will lead to greater demand.

But, the problem is that we have serious excess capacity in this country. Why build more factories when the existing ones aren't operating?

Help is on the Way


My unit, C Company, 44th Signal Battalion out of Mannheim, Germany, has been in Kuwait and Iraq since April and we won’t be returning to Germany until next April. We were recently informed by our chain of command that we would be alloted 21 days of leave. I and others got our leave forms approved in August. My father talked on the phone with me and my chain of command and he was told it was safe for him to purchase my tickets. The chain of command informed all of us here that nothing would change with our leave. The only thing they put out was that we could be recalled from leave if something happened. So everyone’s motivation here is their leave.

Recently, we were all told that our leave had been shortened to 14 days. So now I have $1,100 plane tickets that I can’t use. I work 12-hour days and don’t get much time off. We pull many details on top of our regular shift work.

I just want people to know the way the soldiers are repaid by the government for their hard work.

Spc. Randall Blake Johns
Camp Virginia, Kuwait

Freedom of the Press

Iraq style:

IN BAGHDAD, OFFICIAL control over the news is getting tighter. Journalists used to walk freely into the city’s hospitals and the morgue to keep count of the day’s dead and wounded. Now the hospitals have been declared off-limits and morgue officials turn away reporters who aren’t accompanied by a Coalition escort. Iraqi police refer reporters’ questions to American forces; the Americans refer them back to the Iraqis. Reporters and government officials have always squabbled over access; but the news coverage of the messy, ongoing conflict in Iraq has worsened the already tense relationship between the press and the administration. American officials accuse reporters of indulging in a morbid obsession with death and destruction, and ignoring how Iraq has improved since Saddam Hussein was toppled. Reporters grumble that the secretive White House and Pentagon hold back just how grim and chaotic the situation really is.

NPR and CNN were just filled with "happy Iraqi children" stories all week. It's not that I object to these stories, but I object to their clear attempt to follow administration orders.

Don't forget to take the poll.

Shorter Tom Friedman

Oh, it's late and I don't even feel like reading it. Put your suggestions in comments.