Saturday, May 24, 2003

Santorum Becomes Major Gay Rights Donor

Well, sort of.

.S. Senator Rick Santorum, R-Pa., has become a "major donor" to New York's biggest gay rights organization, thanks to a gay comedian's off-Broadway show.

Seth Rudetsky, who stars in the one-man show, "Rhapsody in Seth," started the Sen. Rick Santorum Education Fund earlier this month by donating 5 percent of all ticket sales to the Empire State Pride Agenda (ESPA) in the senator's name.

The move was a response to Sen. Santorum's widely published remarks that compared homosexuality to polygamy and incest. The comments ignited protests from gay groups and Democratic leaders, but most Republican leaders, including President Bush, backed him.

On Friday, the ESPA said donations from the Santorum fund reached "major donor" status ($1,200 minimum), qualifying the named donor for the Empire Club. A letter thanking the senator and outlining the benefits of club membership was mailed and faxed to his office on Friday.

Sen. Santorum's press office did not return calls for comment

Always the fault of the Black Man

Apparently, affirmative action is to blame even when white reporters get in trouble.

This little explanation was used to defend Mike Barnicle also.

I'm still wondering who is to blame for the Utah reporters who got in trouble for fabricating stories for money, or the AP reporter who was caught fabricating parts of 40+ stories, or Glass, or Shalit, or Andrew Sullivan's deceptive writings about AIDS statistics, or...

Campaign Finance

You know, laws aside, there's just something kinda wrong-sounding about this:

A company controlled by Rep. Darrell Issa has donated nearly $450,000 to an effort to recall Gov. Gray Davis, a filing made public Friday shows.

Political aides to the Vista Republican said earlier this month that Issa planned to provide "seed" money for the recall and indicated he had given $100,000 to help finance a signature-gathering drive to place the recall on a statewide ballot.

Records posted on the secretary of state's Web site show that Greene Properties Inc. of Vista gave an initial $100,000 on May 8, and donated $345,000 this week. Greene Properties is owned by Issa and his wife, Katharine.

Battle of the Lesbian Daughters

Agenda Bender notes that the brain-dead K.Lo has decreed that since Dick Gephardt's lesbian daughter is going to be helping on his campaign he'll lose the "social conservative vote."

Special Saturday Krugman

Krugman explains what a liquidity trap is and why we should be very very afraid.

Wonder if They'll Dixie-Chick Neil Young

Or deport him.

DeLay's Got a Bit of a Problem

Or he would if we had a press, anyway. One can imagine how this would be playing if the party affiliations were reversed.

Friday, May 23, 2003

Clinton Wars, p. 348

If Vlasto was an apolitical scandalmonger at ABC News, Dorrance Smith, producer of This Week, was ultimately political. Smith had been President Bush's communications director, and his secretary in the White House had been Linda Tripp. "The Washington bureau was like an outpost of The American Spectator," an ABC News correspondent told me. "Dorrance was in constant touch with Tripp. He was calling the shots. He kept opposing views off the air and put views supportive of Starr on the air." (...Jeffrey Toobin, the regular ABC News legal analyst, was not permitted to appear on This Week.)

Clinton Wars, pp. 352-353

Nor did Starr tell Justice that he had already invaded the Jones case without authority: James Moody had faxed him a copy of Lewinsky's affadavit. All parties in the Jones case were under a court gag order not to disclose important information, a ruling that made Starr a party to Moody's contempt of court. Starr's copy of the fax, reproduced in the Starr report, bore the court stamp showing it came originally from Jones's lawyers.

Clinton Wars, p. 398

Numerous reporters, editors, and news producers freely told me of leaks they had received from Starr's office. Once, when I gave some information to a television network correspondent, explaining that of course she'd have to verify the material on her own, she said to me, "That's not how Starr's people do it. They give us everything. We don't have to do any work at all."

Busy Day

Normal service will resume eventually...

...though not until after happy hour.

The Liberal Media

Bob Harris over at Tom Tomorrow's place makes the obvious point that if the media were truly liberal then the usual suspects on the Right would be horrified at the prospect of media consolidation.


Just go read.

My Rebellious Child

Say hello to my rebellious child.

When Norah Vincent Starts Making Sense...

Jeebus, I don't know. It's never happened before.

Radioactive Piss

This is disturbing.

A small sample of Afghan civilians have shown "astonishing" levels of uranium in their urine, an independent scientist says.

He said they had the same symptoms as some veterans of the 1991 Gulf war.

But he found no trace of the depleted uranium (DU) some scientists believe is implicated in Gulf War syndrome.

Other researchers suggest new types of radioactive weapons may have been used in Afghanistan.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Bigot Eruptions

Man, this one even surprises me - not that I'm surprised by bigot eruptions but this one was pre-meditated.

WASHINGTON -- A congressional advocate of curbs on immigration was criticized Thursday for using an "anti-Hispanic" prop at a news conference to denounce the widening acceptance of Mexican identification cards.

Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., and several of his colleagues stood beside a large poster to dramatize their concern that more than 1 million IDs issued by Mexican consulates -- and accepted in the United States by many local authorities and banks -- are a form of amnesty for illegal immigrants.

The poster depicted a mock consular ID card with a picture of Mexican President Vicente Fox. It was captioned "Office for the Issuance of Illegal Alien ID." It listed Fox's occupation as "El Presidente," and the citizenship of his parents as "Unknown."

Bigotry aside, these guys are sure doing wonders for North American diplomacy.
(via Hesiod)

TNR has a surprisingly good article about Dean and the internet. It ends with this:

Maybe it's all a big waste of time, but Trippi doesn't think so. "In the way TV changed politics and took it away from the grassroots," he says with fervor, "the Internet is going to give it back."

Let's hope something does.

Scott Peterson

Okay, okay, I know there are more important things in the world than Laci Peterson's death. I do hope whoever did it is brought to justice, but I have to admit hoping that Scott is innocent just for the microsecond (and it would only be a microsecond) of discomfort it would cause Nancy Grace.

Lazy Horse

The last time the Horse took a long break Trent Lott pined for the days of legal lynching. One can only hope that the pictures of little Ricky giving the Santorum to his dog surface while they're gone.

Gay or Not Gay

Foley has issues:

U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, who is seeking the GOP nomination for Senate, took the unusual step Thursday of calling a news conference to denounce what he says are rumors spread by his political opponents that he is gay.

But the fifth-term congressman from West Palm Beach refused to answer questions about whether he is a homosexual, saying his sexual preference had no bearing on his duties as a lawmaker. He accused Democratic activists of trying to derail his candidacy for the Senate.

"In recent weeks, a number of Democratic activists have taken it upon themselves to push rumors about me," Foley said. "It is becoming apparent to me these Democratic activists have only one motive: They don't want me to run or have to run against me."

"Whatever their motives, I can only say I find these tactics revolting and unforgivable," Foley said during a 20-minute conference call with a handful of Florida political reporters. "These attempts to spread rumors about me I think will backfire."

Foley said he called the news conference in response to a column earlier this month in an alternative South Florida weekly paper and because he feared a major Florida daily was preparing to publish a story Friday about the matter.

Foley is seeking the GOP nomination for the seat currently held by Democratic presidential hopeful Bob Graham, who hasn't said whether he will seek a fourth term. Foley enjoys a large fund-raising advantage over Bill McCollum, his party's unsuccessful nominee in 2000.

While he lashed out at Democrats, Foley was not specific about his accusers.

Foley said he should be evaluated by voters on his work record, not his sexuality. He said everyone deserves some privacy, even public officials.

"People can draw whatever conclusions they want to," Foley said. "There are certain things we shouldn't discuss in public. "Some people may think that's old fashioned, but I firmly believe it's a good rule to live by."

Your record is that you joined with the bigots (Republican and Democrat) to support DOMA. And calling someone gay isn't "revolting."

Welcome to the Bush Economy

I think it's time to downsize your lifestyles, folks.

ALLEN – Mary Ann Knight thought she had seen and heard it all in the eight years she has worked at Allen Community Outreach, helping people make ends meet.

That is, until former upper-middle-class residents, hit hard by corporate layoffs that have rocked North Texas the last three years, began walking through the agency's doors, seeking help paying bills.

Mixed in their stacks of monthly bills that cover life's necessities are those that also cover lives the clients don't want to leave behind: $800 car payments, private school tuition that ranges from $1,200 to $2,000, mortgage statements up to $4,000, cable TV bills in the hundreds of dollars and country club dues, to list a few.


"It's not like we don't want to help. But it's just that there are no funds for folks like that. They're just living way above the level in which we can help them."


Since January, the Assistance Center of Collin County in Plano has helped 2,292 residents by paying for prescriptions, utilities, mortgages and rent. About one-quarter of such charitable agencies' clients are previously unserved middle-class residents who request assistance of $4,000 to $8,000 a month, agency officials say.

Agency directors call folks new to being needy "the situational poor." They've depleted their savings and retirement accounts and struggle to cling to a lifestyle they no longer can afford.

"Our clientele has changed so much," said Kimberly Girard, program coordinator at Frisco Family Services. "We used to serve the working poor. Now it's the CEOs and former executives of companies. They've tapped out their bank accounts and borrowed from family members."


At the Assistance Center of Collin County in Plano, Jackie Hall said cash-strapped homeowners today seek twice to three times as much in mortgage assistance than they did two years ago. Some are seeking as much as $4,000 in mortgage help a month, far exceeding most agencies' emergency assistance budgets for all their clients that range from $3,000 to $5,000 per month.
through the door.


"I've had people who paid rent that was almost $1,200. I had a gentleman that wanted us to help pay $4,000 in bills. Our measly $300 assistance wouldn't get him anywhere."

All those who voted for Gore have my deepest sympathies.

K. Lo and To. K

The ever clueless K. Lo wants us to know that the only reason people booed the Dixie Chicks was because one of them was apparently wearing a "F*** You Toby Keith" T-shirt. That certainly sounds like a mean-spirited thing for our Chicks to do, though K.Lo should perhaps understand why they might feel that way:

I found it deeply ironic that Keith expressed his frustration with "these big-mouthed celebrities who think anybody cares what they say," right before plunging into Red, White and Blue, a song that explains in no uncertain terms his view on retaliatory U.S. foreign policy.

Keith also put a doctored "family picture" of Saddam Hussein with the Dixie Chicks (one of whom recently criticized President Bush at a concert) on the giant above-stage video screen. It seems to me that, when you advocate the freedom of the Red, White and Blue, you don't get to choose what other people who live under those colors say.

(sent in by reader ab)

Does Clarence Thomas Advocate Terrorism?

I wonder if he's happy now that someone followed his advice:

Best anecdote from Suskind's Esquire story: In Thomas's office at the Supreme Court, he keeps a sign on the bookshelf. It reads: "SAVE AMERICA, BOMB YALE LAW SCHOOL."

Thomas should know. He's an alumnus.

(sent in by Jeff Hauser)

House Impeachment Manager Moron

From Lloyd Grove:

Former House impeachment manager James Rogan, who was appointed by President Bush to run the Patent and Trademark Office in Crystal City after losing his 2000 reelection race in California, apparently upset some employees last week with a couple of flip answers in his regular online chat.

On last Thursday's chat, someone identified as "Homing Pigeon" wrote in: "In the event of an emergency situation . . . if an evacuation is ordered, what is your advice for us getting home?" Rogan typed back: "run fast." To another questioner who wondered about proper "business casual" attire, Rogan replied: "People who dress like pigs will be required to eat out of the sty we're building in Carlyle," a reference to the new facility in Alexandria.

A veteran employee who asked for anonymity told us: "These chats give a glimpse into his lack of professionalism. . . . He also shows an amazing lack of sensitivity to the fact that over 200 federal employees perished not a mile from our office on 9/11."

Texas DPS

Josh Marshall wonders whether the Texas DPS's newfound love for civil liberties, which they used to justify the destruction of all records of their pursuit of the Texas democrats, has any basis in law at all. Skeptical Notion doesn't think so.

...and, nor does Josh Marshall in an update. In fact, they're very likely guilty of violating laws.

Go read the whole thing and come back, but now the DPS is claiming that it was a criminal matter until the Democrats left Texas jurisdiction. This is false - while the Texas lege has the power to compel absent members to show up, it is not a criminal matter.

Tracking Jobs

The Bush administration is claiming that there will average 306,000 net new jobs per month over the next 18 month. If that happens, I promise to vote for him. Now, what will he promise if it doesn't?

O'Reilly Apology Day

Will he keep his word?

Beato on Savage Weiner

Greg Beato comments on Weiner's network's lawsuits against various websites.

Sid Live Chat

At USA Today now. It's pretty good so far.


Jeff Jacoby writing about Jayson Blair.

Remember Jacoby's little problem...

More on Jacoby's inaccuracies here. This one was pretty funny:

Poor Jeff Jacoby! Boo hoo hoo: Jeff Jacoby's suspension is meaningless in itself. But it has allowed the press corps to showcase its devotion to copy-cat sloth (and inaccuracy). The air has been filled with angry scribes demanding that the Boston One be restored. Their conduct has revealed their deepest values. We'll review the case in detail next week.

But we thought we'd preview one matter. In July 1998, Jacoby—without any attribution—ripped off part of an April 1997 piece by Tucker Carlson in The Weekly Standard. Predictably, what Jacoby recycled (without attribution) was an ugly insinuation about Gore. And here comes the beauty part: Two weeks after Carlson's piece appeared, the Standard had run a detailed letter correcting what Carlson had said. Anyone reading Carlson's original piece could have seen that his charge had the sound of contrivance. But, at the time that Jacoby recycled the charge, it had stood corrected for over a year.

We wrote a letter to the Washington Times, which is where we saw Jacoby's column. The letter has been lightly revised for clarity. Article references follow:

July 30, 1998

Letters Editor
The Washington Times

To the editor:

How sad that you published columnist Jeff Jacoby's latest recycling of an old Al Gore-lacks-character canard, the one Jacoby expressed in his July 29 column. Jacoby says this about the 1996 Democratic Convention speech in which Gore described his presence at his sister's deathbed:

As for that dramatic deathbed scene, it was hard to see when he could have found time to squeeze it in: On the day
his sister died, records show, he was busy talking politics with a reporter from the UPI and addressing the Kiwanis
Club in Knoxville.

Jacoby implies what he was unwilling to say—that Gore was too busy campaigning to attend to his sister in the way he's described.

This suggestion was invented by Tucker Carlson in a May 19, 1997 Weekly Standard piece. But, in response to Carlson's insinuation, the Standard printed a detailed letter from Gore's driver in its June 2 issue. The driver explained how he drove Gore to Nashville from East Tennessee when word came that Gore's sister had taken a turn for the worse. If Jacoby has made any effort to know the truth about Carlson's insinuation, he surely must be aware of the facts which the Standard provided in this forum.

By the way: Jacoby and Carlson must be the only people on earth who haven't heard that it's possible to do more than one thing in a day. How does it feel to be publishing a writer whose grasp of reality is so slender?

Yours truly,

To our knowledge, the letter wasn't published. At any rate, Jacoby had recycled Carlson's year-old story, without attribution. Carlson's charge had long been known to be wrong.

Meanwhile, the weepy Jacoby has published a letter about the "nightmare" he has now undergone. Settle in for some real entertainment:

JACOBY: I joined The Globe as an op-ed columnist in February 1994. (The first line of my first column was: "So what's a nice conservative like me doing in a newspaper like this?") In the six and a half years since, I have produced close to 600 columns. I invite anyone to judge my integrity and my journalistic ethics on the basis of the work that I have done for The Globe. To my knowledge, the paper has never had any reason to question my work, or to doubt that I hold myself to the highest standards when writing for publication.

We're going to take him up on that offer. Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo.

Thursday is New Jobless Day

Congratulations to the 428,000 new jobless!

Get Over It - The Short Version

Some wonder why one might bother revisiting the Clinton years, a la Sid's book. From my perspective it has little to do with defending Clinton and has everything to do with attacking the media. The media attacks on Clinton weren't simply biased or inadvertently wrong, they were explicitly fraudulent. The perpetrators of the various frauds - Gerth, Myers, Greenfield, Stewart, Schmidt, Isikoff, etc...etc... were never punished for their sins a la Blair. In fact, they continue to be rewarded for their legacy.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Conason on Spikey Mikey

Frankly, Joe's too kind to him. In particular, here:

As a leading honcho in that posse, Isikoff insistently ignores arguments that might embarrass him now. An innocent reader of his review would think Blumenthal's only reason for doubting Whitewater was that Hillary Clinton claimed to be innocent. In fact, Blumenthal painstakingly dissects both the scandal allegations and the press coverage of those charges.

Spikey's deception goes slightly deeper than this. It is true that Blumenthal bases his early (and ultimately correct) rejection of the Standard Press Narrative of Whitewater on conversations with HIllary, it isn't true that his basis for doing so now has much to do with a conversation in 1994. Isikoff's claim doesn't simply ignore the later evidence, he also engages in a deliberate misrepresentation of Sid's book.

I've seen this trick elsewhere - such as when Maslin wondered how Blumenthal could claim that there were no "facts" to Whitewater, then subsequently argue it was his duty to communicate the facts to the press corps. The meaning is obvious - in the former Blumenthal is referring to the "facts" accepted by the press, the "facts" of the Clinton's guilt, and in the latter he's referring to their reality.

In any case, it's increasingly clear that Jeff Gerth has pictures of every single person in D.C.involved in some man-on-dog sex. I understand why they want to protect themselves, but the consistent desire to protect Gerth is downright creepy.

Poetry of the Times

At Medianews:

And so we discover with mirth
What a Times' apologia's worth
They pretend much to care
All about Jayson Blair
Wen Ho Lee wonders, "What about Gerth?"

Savage Crybaby

Michael Savage's network has started to sue his critics.

The Definition of Terrorism

I think it's time for the style departments, or whatever they're called, in the various news outlets to come up with a consistent definition of terrorism. I'm really quite tired of Blitzer and Dobbs wondering out loud if the apparent bomb at Yale is or isn't terrorism. By their rather obvious definition, terrorism is something done by "Muslims" against "Americans."

If someone plants a bomb, it's terrorism.

Sid and 24

Over at Salon, Charles Taylor discusses 24 in the context of the last 5 years of politics, Blumenthal's book, and people's reaction to it in a Frank Richish essay. Only having seen a couple episodes of 24, I can't comment on the 24 connection...

Explosion at Yale Law School

In or near mail room.

...blast likely from "device."

Thug Watch

Reader dt sends this lovely story in:

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. (AP) An Arab-American woman who was fighting a pair of parking tickets says she fainted in court after the judge asked if she was a terrorist.

The judge confirmed that he made the remark but said he was ''probably kidding with her.'' And he denied her claim that he also accused her of financially supporting terrorists.

There was no transcript of the proceedings. The woman, Anissa Khoder, has filed a complaint against the judge, Village Justice William Crosbie, with the state Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Khoder told The Journal News that as she approached Crosbie's table in court on Thursday, the judge considered her name out loud and asked if she was a terrorist. She said she was stunned and offended but kept that to herself.

She claimed that after giving the judge her explanation for why the tickets should be dismissed, ''He said something like, 'You have money to support the terrorists, but you don't want to pay the ticket.' I could not believe I was hearing that.''

Blow Blows

A few sharp letters to Salon note that Richard Blow's whining article about Stephen Glass is quite the self-indictment.


Blow writes, "I wanted Steve to show that celebrities were effective -- the story wasn't a story if they weren't -- and he came through, digging up a Virginia political consultant who'd studied this very question." This statement, more than anything Glass did, underscores the real problem with American journalism. Editors, like Blow, tell writers, "Tell a story that goes like this," before any reporting is done, before the facts are known. The intellectual process more closely resembles the way fiction is generated than the way facts are documented.


Yet by his own admission, he was anxious for dirt on a public figure who foiled him by not making himself an easy target (what, objectivity gone out of style these days?). And he tells an obviously insecure, desperate-to-please young man exactly what he is salivating for and -- what a surprise! -- he gets it in spades.


His meager mea culpa (worthy of Stephen Glass) for his desire to "dig up some dirt" on Vernon Jordan refers matter-of-factly to Clinton's "shenanigans." Blow blithely carries on in that Beltway alternate universe where there was something dastardly at the heart of Whitewater -- never mind that Ken Starr spent millions of dollars and couldn't find it. Even five years later he traipses right past the real reason he was so easily deceived -- he wanted to get Clinton, and the facts be damned.

Lelyveld the Deceiver

Joseph Lelyveld, the disgraced and disgraceful former editor of the New York Times, responds to some criticisms which Joe Conason had made of his original review of The Clinton Wars. Leaving aside some of his minor parsing, the real issue is that Lelyveld simply sidesteps Conason's biggest criticism - that Lelyveld and the Times ignored the RTC-Pillsbury report which fully exonerated the Clintons, who had turned over all their financial records, as far back as 1995.

End of Buffy

Ken Layne wonders if I'm sad. Well, the finale would have been good had it been stretched to two hours, and perhaps more generally if it had been stretched into the past few episodes. The all-too-brief return to some things I imagine most fans missed from earlier seasons provided a resolution and the quick reference to the first show provided a nice bookend. But, it was rushed and abrupt and more of a reminder of what should have been than a satisfactory ending.

Jim, at least, is thrilled.

Texas DPS Destroys Records

Throw them all in jail.

AUSTIN, Texas - (KRT) - One day before Democrats ended their boycott of the Texas House last week, the Texas Department of Public Safety ordered the destruction of all records and photos gathered in the search for them, documents obtained Tuesday show.

A one-sentence order sent by e-mail on the morning of May 14 was apparently carried out, a DPS spokesman said Tuesday. The revelation comes as federal authorities are investigating how a division of the federal Homeland Security Department was dragged into the hunt for the missing Democrats - at the request of the state police agency.

Addressed to "Captains," the order said: "Any notes, correspondence, photos, etc. that were obtained pursuant to the absconded House of Representative members shall be destroyed immediately. No copies are to be kept. Any questions please contact me."

It was signed by the commander of the DPS Special Crimes Service, L.C. "Tony" Marshall.

The head of a state House panel looking into law enforcement's role in the search expressed outrage at the order, obtained by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram under the Texas Open Records Act.

"That's unbelievable," said state Rep. Kevin Bailey, chairman of the House General Investigating Committee and one of the 51 Democrats who fled to Ardmore, Okla., during the walkout last week.

Sid in Salon


This saga was much more damaging to journalism than anything that Jayson Blair or Stephen Glass did --- the New York Times' and the Washington Post's persistent pursuit of the empty, politically manipulated story of Whitewater. The fact that these leading papers adhered to this hoax over the years by suppressing contradictory, relevant and exculpatory facts that disproved their premises, including the Pillsbury report and many other facts -- that's the real journalism scandal of the past decade or more. And the top editors at these newspapers arrogantly confused all efforts at correcting the facts with assaults on the integrity of their institutions. They couldn't think their way through the Watergate syndrome -- they'd lost their ability to reason. This was Watergate turned on its head -- they became part of the dirty tricks. When the Clinton administration objected to these groundless probes, these journalists simply got their backs up and redoubled their efforts.

The review of my book by [former New York Times executive editor] Joe Lelyveld that recently ran in the New York Review of Books was a defense of the Times' Whitewater coverage -- which he was responsible for. And in the course of the review, he repeated a number of the mistakes and errors made by the press during Whitewater. He used the review to justify one of recent history's most egregious cases of journalistic irresponsibility.

After their Wen Ho Lee debacle, the Times attempted to set the record straight. They did the same with Jayson Blair. It's long past time for the Times and Post to review their Whitewater coverage, and to learn from the experience, in order to avoid being used politically in the future.

There are many reporters and editors who share these sentiments within the Times and Post. But now we've moved from journalism to history. If journalism is a first draft of history, well, it was extremely rough. But now it's time for history to set the record straight on Whitewater.


Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Spikey Mikey

Is this a joke?

If you're in the mood, scroll down to the bottom of Spikey's rant and go play in the Fray.



Intervention Revisited

Heading over to the Sideshow I re-read what I had recently written about a liberal view of state intervention in the economy. I noticed that I had left one major point of necessary intervention in the marketplace - insurance markets - in particular health and social/pension insurance.

We tend to see market failure in health insurance markets because, absent regulation, insurers will expensive coverage to sick/old patients and cheap coverage to young/healthy patients. Or, another way to look at this is to realize that once you get sick - say, coming down with MS, come policy renewal time they'll raise your rates too high and no more insurance for you. Now, in theory everyone could choose to enter into a lifetime contract for health insurance when young and healthy, and lock yourself into actuarially appropriate rates before you're diagnosed with the chronic disease. However, as we see repeatedly such contracts depend on the long-term solvency of any particular business entity - so, if the company goes bankrupt you're S.O.L.

It's important to note that even if, say, pre-existing conditions are not allowed to affect rates, insurance companies can segment the market by offering different rates and plans, knowing full well which group (sick/old vs. young/healthy) will purchase which policy. This is increasingly becoming a problem for businesses that offer multiple plans to their employees - the full range from full-service POS plans to cheap high co-payment and high nuisance HMO plans. Young healthy patients purchase the cheap HMO plans, and old sick patients purchase the full coverage ones - causing the prices of the full coverage ones to skyrocket as only risky - and expensive - patients purchase them. Because of this, it's quite possible such plans will cease to be offered at all, and then no one will have comprehensive coverage. This is why some of us laugh at the idea that there should be so much "choice" for insurance plans - such choice segments the risk pool, and tends to leave only the crappy coverage standing.

Insurance markets are filled with such problems. But, even without that the question remains - what do we do about sick and dying old people who are unable to pay for insurance? We either let them die or we take care of it as a society. If we know we're going to take care of them, we should make sure to try and make them pay for it before the problem arises. I believe we call that Medicare.

Dogs Playing Poker


Mad Cow in Canada

Uh-oh. It was devasting to British farmers, and no small hit to the economy.

Journalism Problems on the Conservative Web

Where hypocrisy knows no bound.

Warren Says

Warren Buffett says:

When you listen to tax-cut rhetoric, remember that giving one class of taxpayer a "break" requires -- now or down the line -- that an equivalent burden be imposed on other parties. In other words, if I get a break, someone else pays. Government can't deliver a free lunch to the country as a whole. It can, however, determine who pays for lunch. And last week the Senate handed the bill to the wrong party.

Supporters of making dividends tax-free like to paint critics as promoters of class warfare. The fact is, however, that their proposal promotes class welfare. For my class.

Heh. Indeed.

A Day at the DMV

is not a fun day at all.

Government Bails Out Worldcom

Says shareholders must be paid $500 million over $9 billion in fraud, then hands them Iraq contract.

The Joys of Wireless

I'd highly recommend getting a wireless router if you have broadband/multiple computers. They're dirt cheap at this point, particularly the older 802.11b standard which, depending on the speed of your broadband connection, is probably enough. And, if you're in a dense city you can probably find a coffee shop with an open hot spot somewhere near by so you can do the uber-geek thing.

Mine always had this little problem that certain websites would cause it to reset and drop the signal - a bit annoying. Fortunately I finally got around to doing the firmware upgrade, and problem is magically solved.

Just thought I'd share.

Monday, May 19, 2003

Sister Christian Oh The Time Has Come

What Ted Barlow says. Scroll down until you see "pig-pile."

Poor Margaret Carlson

Amazon sales rank #9543.

A hat or a brooch or a pterodactyl

When the dust clears I wonder what the "conventional wisdom" explanation for Iraq's lack of WMDs will be.

80s Flashback

Bonzo Goes To Bitburg

Bonzo goes to bitburg then goes out for a cup of tea
As I watched it on TV somehow it really bothered me

Greg Beato Says Advertise Here!

Well, sort of. Greg has a post about how it seems that lefty causes don't seem to be spending much money advertising on lefty sites (you know, like this one). I suppose the real question is - what's the purpose of advertising? If you're making an issue ad, like Move On, and trying to get your message out to a general audience and gain a few converts, then hitting general audience media is probably the right idea. However, if you're trying to rally the troops or do fundraising for a particular cause, then advertising on a site like this is probably the right thing to do. Lefty bloggers, or places like Cursor or Buzzflash, reach a pretty targeted demographic. It's gotta be cheaper than direct mail (I have no idea if Cursor or Buzzflash want or have solicited advertising).

Domestic Abuse

What Jeanne D'Arc says.

Sunday Ratings

I wonder if it's ever occurred to anyone that This Weak's ratings are in the toilet because no one can stand to watch George Will. I mean, does anybody like that guy? He gives dishonest hacks a bad name.

Here's a flashback Will v. Will.

Buckley on Bennett

I have to say I was a bit surprised the old coot was pretty hard on him.

Advertise Here

Ads seem to be up and running. Prices are rising, but the rates are still quite cheap....

Scoobie vs. Drudge

Scoobie Davis had a little bit of fun with Drudge last night.

Speaking the Truth

Matt Labash of the Weekly Standard: Why have conservative media outlets like The Weekly Standard and Fox News Channel become more popular in the past few years?

Matt Labash: Because they feed the rage. We bring the pain to the liberal media. I say that mockingly, but it's true somewhat. We come with a strong point of view and people like point of view journalism. While all these hand-wringing Freedom Forum types talk about objectivity, the conservative media likes to rap the liberal media on the knuckles for not being objective. We've created this cottage industry in which it pays to be un-objective. It pays to be subjective as much as possible. It's a great way to have your cake and eat it too. Criticize other people for not being objective. Be as subjective as you want. It's a great little racket. I'm glad we found it actually.

Blumenthal On Insannity

Sid'll be on Hannity's radio show shortly.

You're My Obsession

So, I was thinking about Patrick Ruffini's contention that us liberals all march in lock-step and are united against Bush. He may have a point, I suppose. But, I decided to do a Google search of his site for the word "Clinton" and my site for the word "Bush." The former came up with 122 hits and the latter with 123.

Obviously this is completely flawed methodology, but someone sure does spend a lot of time talking about the Clenis, considering it's been out of office for some time now...

Supreme Court Retirements

There is nothing in the constitution which requires there to be 9 sitting S.C. judges. If two wish to retire, then we will have seven. Sounds good to me.

UPDATE: It is in federal statute however, as a reader reminds me. Doh, I thought it was just "tradition."

Isolation vs. Intervention

Arthur Silber wants to know why conservatives are, in theory, isolationists when it comes to domestic economic policy (or non-interventionists) but interventionists on foreign policy and why liberals are the opposite.

First of all, even ignoring the problems of over-generalization that I know Arthur is well aware of, in this century liberals have been, for the most part, interventionists in foreign policy, with conservatives in the Pat Buchanan mold being the isolationists.

But, aside from that I think it's just a faulty comparison. Minor interventions in the functionings of markets in order to (in theory) make them more competitive and deal with externalities, contracting problems, and assorted rigidities (I rarely hear many calls for the dismantling of the SEC) is something entirely different from thinking one can spread democracy by the sword.

Liberals aren't the statists we're painted as, aside from some minor appropriate interventions, most of us just think that contrary to the rhetoric from the other side the rules of the game have been rigged for the wealthy and powerful, and they have all the refs in their pockets. Or, another way to put it - government intervenes all the time, but from steel tariffs and agricultural subsidies feeding the pockets of large corporations down to corrupt town planners and zoning officials, it just tends to intervene in favor of the winning team. Plenty of industries - from oil to pharmaceuticals to aerospace to advanced electronics, etc... etc... - have lots of "special rights" and cozy relationships with the federal government. And, at the more local level plenty of wealthy developers have cozy relationship with state and local officials.

It's wrong to think that liberals are somehow enamored of government while conservatives aren't. It is true that conservatives and Republicans have adopted libertarian rhetoric, but aside from cutting taxes on capital and bringing down top marginal rates, there's very little follow-through elsewhere.

Howler on Sid and the Times

He gets it just right:

The New York Times has now published two reviews of The Clinton Wars. They make a comical pairing. Last Thursday, Janet Maslin did explain what Blumenthal said (the Whitewater story was “empty”) but pretended that his statements were nutty (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/16/03). By contrast, Dallek says that Blumenthal is right, but is careful to hide what he actually said! And so it continues, the disturbing decade which Blumenthal describes in his crucial book. Reading the Times is like reading Pravda. A skillful reader of Maslin and Dallek might begin to get the idea that something was wrong with the Whitewater “scandal.” But this reader gets only a glimpse. This reader will have to go elsewhere to find out what happened. More specifically, this reader will have to buy Blumenthal’s book to find out what he has said.

Dallek’s husbanding of the truth keeps him thoroughly safe for cable. He’ll go on those nets and sell plenty of books, giving us detail about Kennedy’s conduct forty years in the past. Meanwhile, readers of his Times review will remain in the dark about the present. Like Pravda, Dallek tells the truth very slowly. Blumenthal was right, he bravely says. Perhaps at some time in the mid-2040s, we’ll be told what he actually said.


Blumenthal was basically right—but instantly, Dallek changes the subject. At the finish, he once again dances away from particulars:

DALLEK (pgh 15): Blumenthal’s book may do more to stir old controversies than settle them. But participants in the Clinton wars would do well to understand that re-fighting 90’s battles will be of less benefit to the country than detached analysis explaining how we can avoid future unproductive quarrels over the personal weaknesses of our presidents. Still, for anyone who wants to revisit the political acrimony of the Clinton years, Blumenthal's book is the place to begin. [end of review]

Dallek’s advice? It’s time to move on! It’s time for “detached analysis” which looks to the future. In this way, the thoroughly corrupted insider press corps keeps you from knowing about what it’s done. They don’t want people to “re-fight old battles”—to say what occurred in the “Clinton wars.” Instead, Dallek is coming to cable near you. He’ll be discussing Jack Kennedy’s girl friends.

Book is shipping, go get yourself a copy...

Not Working

I rarely talk about I/P issues here for rather obvious reasons. But, let me try and stipulate a few things purely for sake of discussion, not necessarily because they're true. 1) Israel has a right to exist and a right to defend itself. 2) There is a genuine security threat to the Israeli population posed by Palestinian suicide bombers. 3) All actions Israel has taken since the Intifada began are justified by 1) and 2).

Again, I want these thing stipulated simply to narrow the range of discussion, as such discussion inevitably boils over into 500 different issues.

So, here is what I want to discuss - at what point do people start asking whether the tactics taken by Israel, if justified, are productive or counterproductive? At what point does it become rather obvious that the security measures of the Sharon government aren't working, and in fact might be counterproductive? At what point should we ask whether smacking a hornets' nest works?

Now, here is where someone jumps in and decides that I'm blaming the Sharon government for the suicide attacks. That's ridiculous. Sharon campaigned on the security issue, implicitly blaming Barak for his failure to ensure the safety of the Israelis. How many successful suicide bombings can there be before Sharon is branded a failure?

The point is, I'm asking to evaluate the success of the Sharon govermnent in purely utilitarian terms from the point of view of Israelis. My larger point is that Barak's attempts to negotiate and make nice eventually led to a new wave of suicide bombings, and no one had problems linking cause and effect there. Sharon's tough approach has led to multiple waves of suicide bombings.

Bye Bye Ari

On one hand he was a loathsome liar, on the other hand the press had finally started to notice that.


Ads may be in an out during the day, but hopefully will be back and fast by the end of the day. For anyone who bought an ad I basically owe you another week - so please get in touch with me so I can make good either by extending your existing ad or giving you a new one.

Matrix 2

Saw it tonight. I'm really not sure why so many have criticized it so much. I loved the first one even though I never thought it was anything but a stylish and somewhat original action flick. This one had some minor pacing problems, and a couple cringeworthy Bondish stunts, but otherwise was a worthy successor. I didn't think its detours into philoso-babble were any better or worse than in the first one - they seemed to serve the plot without being too much of a distraction. But, I didn't find any depth in the first one so maybe I just missed something...

Dean Town Meeting

I caught most of Dean's town meeting in Iowa on C-span today (I'm sure you can find it online if you hunt for it). He showed his strengths there I thought - not ducking questions, answering forcefully, bashing Bush without getting caught in the trap of only bashing Bush. He was pragmatic yet managed to communicate some idealism too. It was nice to see Tom Harkin up there with him - was always a fan of his, though he sorta disappeared throughout most of the Clinton years.

1 in 8 Leave Santorum Commencement Speech

Good for them.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Mirror, Mirror

Sometimes I think the blogosphere is somehow linked up to the Mirror, Mirror world from Star Trek. It's the only explanation for posts like this, and the subsequent comments...

Liberal Oasis Interviews Dean

Go take a look.

The Rise of Evil, and the Life of Irony

Hitler Miniseries:

NEW YORK (AP) -- "Hitler: The Rise of Evil" fulfills its mission: taking viewers on a grim guided tour through an era gone mad. And it's a trip well worth taking.


The film, therefore, is less an exercise in Hitler-bashing than a call for soul-searching: Would we let a latter-day Hitler gain a foothold in the here and now?


And the list of credits must also include Ed Gernon. One of the film's executive producers, he was recently quoted in TV Guide, where he said that fear was behind the German public's acceptance of Hitler's policies. Then he made the mistake of likening that fear to the atmosphere in the United States today.

For that, he was denounced by a New York newspaper. Then his views were jointly condemned by CBS and the production company he worked for. Then he lost his job.

Thus was Gernon's point confirmed more forcefully than he might have imagined. And, though comparatively slight, his punishment is underscored by that of Fritz Gerlich, who, imprisoned at Dachau prison near the film's conclusion, implores his wife to "urge others to speak out, even when what they have to say is not popular."

It becomes one more reason to watch this important film.

Meanwhile, in Texas...

HOUSTON — Two CBS affiliates in Texas are refusing to broadcast “Hitler: The Rise of Evil,” a two-part network movie set to begin Sunday night, citing concerns that the program could incite some younger viewers.

Bring on the Ketchup

Mess with Theresa Heinz, and she opens up her wallet:

Uh-oh, now they've done it. Critics of Teresa Heinz Kerry's unorthodox and outspoken views have the fabulously rich wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry reaching for her $550 million can of whup-ass. Originally reserved to counter GOP sniping at her hubby, Heinz Kerry is now open to spending some of her ketchup fortune on a counterattack. "The assumption," says a friend, "was always that the attacks would be on him, not her." But now: "The attacks on her have exponentially increased the likelihood of her tapping the fortune." Heinz Kerry, previously married to ketchup heir Sen. John Heinz, who died in a plane crash, has been ridiculed by Republicans for recent statements promoting Botox treatments, prenuptial agreements, and feeding rabbits to kids. One critic compared her to egomaniac Donald Trump, calling Mrs. H.K. "the Teresa." If Republicans don't shut up, warns one of her friends, she'll give Kerry a war chest that would dwarf anything President Bush could collect. "It would be George Bush's worst nightmare," says the friend.

Pollitt on Bennett in the Nation


I wish it had been sex, maybe some of that hot "man on dog" action that Senator Rick Santorum is so keen on chatting about. But let me not be picky. Since we are talking about that thundering sultan of sanctimony Bill Bennett, high-stakes gambling will do quite nicely. In eleven books, including the mega-selling Book of Virtues, a PBS cartoon series on morality for kids, countless speeches at $50,000 a pop, a slew of op-eds and more face time on TV than the man who squeezes the Charmin, Bennett has made himself our Cato, inveighing against everyone else's licentious, addicted, family-destroying ways. Abortion!, he growled. Drugs! Rap! Adultery! Homosexuality! Divorce! Single moms! The Simpsons! To the wall with you, feminists, gay priests and fornicating Democrats Bill Clinton, Jesse Jackson and Gary Condit! To prison, not rehab, any of you who've so much as looked hopefully at a nickel bag of weed! He's expatiated upon the joys of teenage shotgun marriages and the selfishness of having fewer than "six or seven" kids. (Bennett himself married at 38 and has two children--a hypocrisy tip-off right there, for those who were paying attention.)
If Bennett were a jolly, modest fellow, full of love for fallen humanity and the first to admit he was just another sinner like the rest of us--if he were less quick to impute the worst motives to perfectly ordinary behavior, like having two kids; if he spent less time promoting rigid, puritanical morals and more time promoting, oh, kindness and tolerance and looking into your own heart and cutting other people some slack because you never really know what demons they're contending with--no one would be piling on now.

But then, with a message like that, no one would have heard of him in the first place. You don't get to play Christian on TV, or amass real political power along with your millions, by urging people not to throw the first stone, especially if they live in a glass house. Jesus tried that, and look what happened to him.

The Bantus are Coming!

There was a NYT Magazine article a few months back about the tens of thousands of Bantu refugees who are about to start being resettled in the U.S. It's a really heartbreaking/hopefully heartwarming story. Many of these people have never seen indoor plumbing, paved roads, doorknobs, ... you get the idea. NPR had a piece on them recently which is worth listening to. And, if anyone knows of the aid groups that are helping with their resettlement please let me know as it sounds like a cause worthy of some charity dollars.

More Red v. Blue

Angry Bear has done a separate calculation of the amount the states get from the government. He's used a different data source, presumably a less massaged (for good or ill) one than the Tax Foundation's that I used - he gets a wider gap than I do.

Either way, end welfare for republican-voting hypocrites now!

....Uggabugga has the maps.