mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Cost-benefit analysis...

I was an undergrad econ minor, so I tend to be a big fan of cost/benefit analysis. One of the classes I took was Environmental Economics, and choices in Enviro Econ are all about cost/benefit analysis. People in surveys tend to say things like "we should reduce pollution, regardless of cost" - never mind that human existance causes pollution, so the only way to reduce all pollution is for us all to die off.

I get the same kind of vibe off the war - except that unlike the environment, people on the left are looking only at the costs without any of the benefits. That leads to signs like this one. Never mind that "peace" has it's costs - uncertainty about what weapons Saddam had or would have, thousands of Iraqis tourtured and killed by Saddam, even more Iraqi children killed by Saddam's corrupt food-for-oil program, which was literally stealing food from starving children, the risk of Saddam pulling another attack like on a neighboring country like he did to Kuwait. But none of these things get looked at by many in the anti-war community - only the cost in lives lost in the war.

I think people on the right realize that the war has costs, but feel that the benefits outweighed the costs. People on the left refuse to see that there were any benefits to the war.

What motivated this post? In terms of Iraq, this post from VariFrank was very emotional.

But one of the most powerful things I read was in George Will's lukewarm Bush endorsement where he discusses freedom in Afganistan:

Tuesday's winner will not start from scratch but from where we are now, standing with the women of Bamiyan, Afghanistan. Back in Washington recently, Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, said those women were warned that Taliban remnants would attack polling places during the Oct. 9 elections. So the women performed the ritual bathing and said the prayers of those facing death. Then, rising at 3 a.m., they trekked an hour to wait in line for the polls to open at 7 a.m. In the province of Kunar an explosion 100 meters from a long line of waiting voters did not cause anyone to leave the line.

Think about that. These people went to the polls feeling that there was a good chance they would die for their desire to participate in the democratic process. And they still voted. And they could vote because of what the US did. Would you go to your local polling place if you felt there was a good chance you wouldn't make it back?

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Ways the election can become a disaster...

Via NRO's The Corner comes this article on 14 ways that the Presidential election could turn into a total mess including a tie in the Electoral College, a terrorist attack on or near election day, and the death of a candidate. It also looks at would would happen to resolve those situations.

The interesting thing about Edision is that they will be doing much of the backend research on how the election is called - and they will be doing it from Somerville, NJ (pdf) - one town away from where Mad Anthony grew up. I know the building they are talking about it where Edision is headquartered - I used to do my Christmas shopping there when it was a Woolworth's - and I have to say it doesn't look like the headquarters for a major media research.

Cut to the videotape...

Well, the latest buzz is over the new Bin Laden tape.

To be honest, I was surprised that it came out, because I was pretty sure he was dead and all. I think other people did too, so I wonder what the reaction will be in the elections. The Kerry Spot at NRO seems to see it as likely to turn the election to Bush. I hope so, but i'm not so sure. It does remind people that terrorism still exists and that AQ would like to kill us all. The fact that OBL says he hit the towers should quash all but the most crazy of the "why did Bush knock down the towers" conspiracy nuts.

What worries me is that some people may find comfort in OBL's claims that his attacks was brought on by US action, and that the US following a Swedish-type policy will let them off the hook. It seems that some on the left seem to be acting like OBL is just a rational guy with a different and legitimate point of view. The headline of the early edition of the Sunday Baltimore Sun is "Bin Laden urges US policy shift" -as if OBL was the leader of a legitimate country and not a madman who orders planes full of vacationers to crash into towers full of of secretaries and bond traders. OBL isn't "urging policy shifts" - he's using violence against innocent US citizens to try change the US from the world's only superpower into an Islamic theocracy.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Choices, choices...

I got my "specimen ballot" from Baltimore City. This is the first time I've ever voted in Baltimore City (and if my plans to buy a house in the next year or so work out, possibly my last). I've always voted absentee in NJ when I was in college. I was living with my parents the year after I graduated college, and I didn't bother voting last year.

Coming from Somerset County, NJ (a mostly Republican county in a fairly Democrat state), the ballot was pretty balanced. So it's wierd for me to look at a Baltimore City ballot, which except for President doesn't have a whole lot of choices. For example, the President of City Council position has two parties on the ballot - Democrat or Green. (I'm seriously thinking of voting Green, just because I have no desire to vote for a Dem, and I think the Green candidate has as much chance of winning the election as I do of winning the lottery - and I haven't bought a lotto ticket in about 3 years). Circuit Court judge has 5 choices - for 5 positions. There are a bunch of ballot questions that I've never thought about like changing the name of the Baltimore City Personel Department to the Department of Human Resources and giving loans to such Baltimore institutions as the Walthers Art Gallery and giving health care to the Homeless (brilliant. Health care funded by real estate taxes as a benefit to people who by definition don't pay real estate taxes. I think I may vote against them all, just to spite the city.

One other observation - the Greens have had a hell of a time getting Nader on the ballot. (He did make it on the Maryland ballot though) - and the Republicans may have done more than the Greens to get him on the ones he is on. So it's pretty interesting that the other fringe parties - the Libertarians and the Constitution Party (whose candidate graduated from my alma matter), for example, seem to be on most state's ballots - they are on MD, they are on the controviersial Ohio ballots and a student employee who works in my department mentions that they were on the NJ absentee ballot. Interesting that these parties seem to be able to get on ballots, but don't get nearly the attention that the Greens seem to. I'm not sure what that proves, except possibly that a lot of people don't like Nader much these days and that the Libs and Constitutionals have a loyal base.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

I'm a rare breed...

I'm a rare breed that the City of Baltimore is trying to recruit - a registered Republican who is a Baltimore CIty resident. Right after I registered to vote I got a postcard looking for election judges who were registered Republicans, and I got another one a couple days ago. It's not surprising that it's hard to find judges, considering that the data for Baltimore seems to be something like 92% Democrat.

I thought about doing it, but aside from not wanting to have to take a day off from work to do it, I don't really feel comfortable being the only Republican in a sea of Democrats (especially given the number of anti-Bush - not Pro-Kerry, but "international terrorist" with a picture of Bush - bumper stickers I see). The financial rewards - $125 for the day, which runs from 6am until polls close - isn't exactly enough to make me take the risk. Asuming that the polls close at 8, that works out to about $8 an hour. And I don't know if I want to be responsible if a controversy errupts.

I'm wonder if the low pay and weekday schedule is part of the trouble with them finding recruits - in addition to being rare, Republicans usually have jobs that pay more than $8 an hour.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Strange bedfellows...

I recently found an online coupon for Barnes and Noble, so I decided to buy James Lilek's new book, Interior Desecrators. I was surprised to see the last book listed under other people have bought this item. The last item is Michael Moore's Stupid White men (screenshot here if it changes).

I'm not sure what this means - it seems hard to imagine that any fans of Lilek's political writings are Moore fans. Possible explanations:

1) Lileks has lots of crossover appeal among Moore fans who have never read his political writings

2) Lots of Lileks fans like to buy Moore books so they can make fun of them

3)Barnes and Noble's scipt for "what other people buy" sucks.

Monday, October 25, 2004

No pork for oil...

the latest edition of Maxim Magazine has an article on government pork (not online sadly). Lots of good stuff - making fun of local projects, PBS, and other things that get libertarians and Reganites steamed.

There was one I took issue with though - beating up on the Halliburton military contracts. One thing they said was pork was prices like "$45 for a case of soda". Of course, the first reaction is "I could get 2 12 packs of Coke at Target for $5 every other week when it's on sale". The fact is that what the government is spending money on isn't just a case of soda - it's a case of soda delivered to freakin' war zone.. They aren't just paying for the Coke - they are paying to compensate for the fact that the guy delivering the soda is also dodging land mines and light artillery fire. When you consider that most movie theators, concerts, and sports stadium will charge you at least $2 for a soda (which is about what a $45 case of soda would work out to if you assume a 24-can case), and people aren't shooting at the pimply-faced teen behind the concessions stand, the Halliburton soda price doesn't seem like that bad a dea.

40oz to freedom...

From NRO's The Corner comes an article that Ward 4 in DC has banned 40's, tall boys and other beer sold in single bottles. The idea is to reduce the number of drunks in the street.

While I understand the desire not to have drunk homeless people around, I get nervous when the government starts making policy to prevent people from doing certain activities, like smoking and drinking, that people enjoy doing but some people don't approve of. What the government seems to be saying is that if wealthy people want to get drunk, that's fine, but not the poor.

Maybe it's just the fact that I drank 40's frequently in college (there's something about a 40 of Bud Ice, some Chinese food, and a movie on a Friday night when you don't feel like going out) but I'm not a big fan of this law.

There is another effect as well - some better liquor stores sell single bottles of "better" beers, giving novice beer drinkers a chance to try different beers without commiting to a sixer of a beer they might not like - but this law prevents that as well.

Sell out with me tonight, sell out with me, oh yea..

U2 has signed a deal with Apple to distribute a special U2 edition iPod that will be black instead of white and come with the latest U2 album as well as a bunch of their old catalog. U2 fans are not too happy about it.

From the article:
She says, "Some pockets of U2 fans will rankle at the band aligning themselves with a major corporation such as Apple, but yet also aligning themselves with AIDS charity work."

What the heck? Aside from the fact that it's hard to consider Apple, always a quirky fringe company run by ex-hippies with less than 5% market share in computers, as a big evil multinational corporation, what is so odd about being involved in charity work and making money? Lots of wealthy people (think Carnigie, Heinz, ect) have made buttloads of money and given it to charity. And it's way easier to do good by making money and donating it than being poor and not being able to donate anything.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

No blood for oil.... for other people's cars, anyway...

Last week, I spotted something amusing while pulling into a Shell station after work to gas up my car.

It was a vehicle with a number of political bumper stickers, one of which was "No Blood For Oil". Which wouldn't have been that odd, except the vehicle it was on was a Jeep Cherokee SUV.

Now, maybe I'm wrong here, but if you are that concerned about the effect that oil consumption has on world geopolitics, maybe you shouldn't have BOUGHT A FREAKIN' SUV.

(Yes, I know the Cherokee isn't the most gas-guzzling of SUV's, and that it's not like it was on a Hummer or Excursion or something - but it's still an SUV, and it still seemed kind of out of place).

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Mmmm... pie

Conservative author Ann Coulter was assaulted by pie-throwers during a speech on Thursday at an Arizonia college.

Thanks the the internet, you can watch the video as well as see pics of the assailants and read the police report, in which the pie throwers refer to themselves as "Al Pieda". They also claim that they "were throwing the pies at her ideas, not her".

Now, Ann Coulter can be a little out there - she says some good stuff, but she also says some nutty stuff. And I'm sure most liberals are against pie throwing (although maybe we need to pass some pie control laws to keep pies out of the hands of criminals). But it's interesting that liberals are often willing to go out of their way to defend free speech on their side, while trying to silence the speech of unpopular ideas on the other side.

Turn that TV back on right now...

a California man is selling a remote to turn off TV's in public places. The remote sends power commands for most brands of TV's, and has one button - power. He designed it because he didn't like TV's that were in public places, and wanted an easy way to turn them off.

What an elitist jerk. Can't have people doing something that he doesn't approve of, so he designs a device to stop it.

I'm kind of annoyed by people who like to act that watching TV is a horrible evil that rots people's brains. Sure, it's not perfect, and there is a lot of crappy shows on, but there are also some good ones.

I watch a lot of TV - I own a RePlayTV DVR, so I always have stuff that I want to watch. But I rarely just sit and watch TV. There are a few shows that demand my full attention - The Wire, for example - but most of the time the TV is on in the background while I'm surfing the web, blogging, typing descriptions of stuff I'm selling on eBay, cutting out coupons, ect. I don't see how having the TV on is any worse than having the radio or a CD on.

My family has a wierd relationship with TV. My parents stopped watching it years ago, and no longer own a TV, while my Aunt is one of those people whose TV's is never turned off. I'll admit it's annoying when we visit her and have to compete with the TV, but TV-B-GONE guy didn' design the remote for annoying reletives or roomates - he designed it for TV's in public places, that people usually watch because, quite frankly, they don't have anything else to do.

Dear Friend, I need your help. My country is corrupt..

Nigeria is complaining about a recent report that ranks them the most corrupt country in Africa. They claim that the report doesn't take into account recent efforts to fight courruption.

Look, guys, when your leading export and the thing most people associate your country with is scam emails trying to get money from suckers who think that they can steal money from a dead king, you can't complain about your corruption rating.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

I don't have the heart...

According to Drudge, Dems are complaining because Dick Cheney got a flu shot. They are saying that he should have saved it for someone healthier.

WTF? The guidelines are that the shots should be reserved for the elderly and sick - and Cheney's history of heart problems is well documented. The guy goes in for heart surgery as frequently as Mad Anthony goes on beer runs. Griping over this only makes the Dems look petty and vindictive (more than normal).

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Mistakes were made?

In a recent Edwards speech in Oregon, he critized President Bush for not admitting any mistakes in the second debate.

He criticized Bush for failing to acknowledge any mistakes he has made while in office when he was asked to do so at a press conference and later during Friday's presidential debate.

"You can't fix a problem 'til you see a problem and George Bush can't see what's happening," he said. "After Nov. 2, we're going to give him all the time in the world to think about the mistakes he's made."

I thought this question was unfair at the time, and I think this proves it. If Bush had given an actual answer to this question, I would guess that Edwards would be bringing that up as proof of his mistakes. When the answer to a question can be used against a candidate no matter what he responds, I consider it a rather unfair question.

Coalition of the bribed and coerced?

The Baltimore Sun has a front-page article (at least it was on the front page of the First Edition that I purchased on Saturday) about a deal with Poland that allowed them to purchase F-16 fighters from Lockheed Martin, as well as promised Poland $6 Billion in buisness investment. The contention is that Poland based it's decision to participate in the coalion in Iraq on the deal. It quotes a California Republican who refered to that type of payment as an economic bribe, although it doesn't provide much supporting evidence that there is a direct link between Poland's participation and the deal.

They do say that the deal illustrates the benefits - both political and economic -enjoyed by a country that chose to fight beside the United States.. Yes - we take care of those countries that help us. That isn't exactly a bad thing or a scandle.

What is most interesting about this article is that it somehow merited front page placement on the Sunday paper, despite little content - while I never remember seeing the Iraqi Oil-For-Food scandle, where the UN and France stole tons of money from starving Iraqis with Saddam's help, on the front page of the Sun. The countries that had financial incentives NOT to participate in the war are much closer to bribes than deals the US gave to those that did.

Then again, this isn't surprising considering that the Sun ran a headline in the Sunday paper last year comparing the Iraqi invasion to Vietnam less than a week after it started.

Today's medical tip of the day...

The last two weeks or so I haven't been feeling well - seems to be a touch of bronchitis brought on by my allergies. End result is Mad Anthony has spent most of the time he isn't at work or studying sleeping.

Last night I decided to watch some TV off my RePlay. Didn't feel like watching one of the 10 episodes of Law and Order, and I noticed that it had taped the poorly namedMedical Investigation - like CSI without the murders, plus it has the cute chick from The Handler..

My suggestion - don't watch this show if you are the least bit of a hypocondriac, or if you aren't feeling too well - you will suddenly think that every ache and pain is a sign of a debilitating but rare disease.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Dude, let's totally like rock the vote!

Blogger, Dennis Miller guest, and occasional Playboy defender Cathy Seipp has a great Wall Steet Journal article up about the stupidity of Rock The Vote and other youth get out the vote drives, especially of the type spearheaded by celebrities.

She includes a great quote from the winner (imagine what the losers must have written) of MTVU's rock the vote contest:

"Sometimes I feel that no matter how I vote, there will still be war, crime and poverty," ... "And I have other things on my mind. I am worried about skin cancer, drunken drivers, eating disorders . . ."

Sounds like a libertarian in the making - she understands that government doesn't, and can't, solve all problems. Well, she doesn't really seem to understand it, but she kind of realizes it. It makes me wonder if I was that dumb in college. I don't think I was - I mean, I was dumb in a "get drunk and knock down doors" kind of way, but I think I was a little better in my understanding the role of government thing.

There are a few things I've never understood - first of all, why people listen to the viewpoints of celebrities when it comes to politics - these are people whose talent comes from acting or singing. They have no better - and frequently worse -understanding of politics than the average plumber, doctor, lawyer, or PC technician. The second thing is the emphasis on voting - not on voting well, or thinking before you vote, but rather just making sure to vote for someone.

The last thing is that celeb get out the vote campaigns usually operate under the assumption that all youth, or most youth, vote Democrat. This is not always the case, and may backfire on the get out the vote types.

My biggest beef with Rock the Vote, though is their insistance on playing up the rumors of the draft from the "internets" has been totally discredited

It's the economy, stupid...

One of the big factors in this election has been the economy. Kerry is blaming Bush for every person in the US without health care or a job. I've always thought that the idea of blaming or crediting the president with the number of employed people was a little odd - it's not like the president goes out and hires people. Rather, private employers - usually businesses -do. Thus, one of the few things the government can do to create jobs is to help businesses - but when they do that, they get accused of being in big business' pocket. (Yes, I realize not everyone works for a for-profit company, myself included. I work for a private college, however, and much of our funding comes from corporate donors or executives).

I also think that the stats don't always tell us everything. For example, Kerry has been trotting out the "5 million unisured" line. Without knowing the breakdown of those groups, though, it doesn't tell us much. Between the time I graduated college and could no longer be covered under my parent's policy, and the time I got my current job, I didn't have health insurance. That's bad, but temporarily uninsured people are a far cry from people who don't have insurance - and won't any time in the near future.

That leads me to two interesting articles. The first one relates to the above. People who want to complain about the distribution in wealth in this country frequently site movement of income in the quintiles (top 20%, bottom 20%, ect) as proof that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Conservative economists usually reply that there is a lot of movement between the quintiles - the college student working part time, and thus in the bottom quintile (but not "poor", since he's most likely being subsidized by his parents) graduates, gets a job, and becomes middle class. Now there is also evidence that immigration also pulls down the income stats for the bottom 20%. Because immigrants tend to be poor, their entry into the US makes income for the bottom quintile appear to go down, when in reality it hasn't for those who aren't recent immigrants. Of course, recent immigrants are probably better off in the US than where they were, or they wouldn't have immigrated in the first place.

The second interesting econ thing is this post from MyPetJawa debunking the claims that Bush is the only president to lose jobs during his administration. Part of this has to do with time periods - ie Clinton lost jobs in the first 4 years he was in office, but gained more than that back the next four.

A bad rap on 9/11

Via OpinionJournal comes this article about Rapper KRS-1 saying that Blacks cheered 9/11.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that there are many African-Americans who disagree with that - including the families of the families of the African-Americans killed on 9/11 profiled in this article from EBONY magazine.

I used to have a certain amount of respect for KRS-1, who was one of the godfathers of rap. Not anymore. He's someone who can't seem to realize that terrorists hate all Americans, of all races, all religions, all economic backrounds, because they are American. And he can't seem to realize that 9/11 didn't just kill white people.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Teresa's health plan drives me to drink...

You know, a Kerry presidency makes me nervous - I think he would raise my taxes, make the country less secure against terrorism, and make the health care system resemble the DMV. However, there is an upside - more brilliant comments from his wife.

She has said some interesting stuff at a recent campaign stop (hat tip Will Collier).

First of all, she opposes drug advertising because it Personally, I think it creates a dilemma.” “It’s like cereal (advertising),” she said. “The more sugar, the more toys, the more kids want it.”

I may be wrong, but I think there are restrictions on advertising for prescription drugs that limit what can be advertised - and most of the ones that are "lifestyle drugs" - drugs that aren't for life-or-death problems, but rather ones that improve the way you live. Think social anxiety drugs, erectile dysfunction drugs, and heartburn. Many of these are things that people wouldn't know they have or wouldn't know they have drugs that help. I think that this helps people, because it lets them know that there are drugs available to help problems that they otherwise wouldn't know about. However, these aren't the life-saving drugs that 89-year old ladies are being denied. They may drive up the cost of medicine, but they also drive up the quality.

More amusing, however, was her other remedy - raisins soaked in gin as a cure for arthritis. I've heard of this before, and maybe it does work - supposedly the sulfur helps releave the pain - although I'm guessing enough gin may make you forget about your pain as well. If this is the Kerry healthcare plan, I am a little worried.

Although I wonder if it will allow me to pound a sixer of Natty Boh before work, and then tell my boss that I was "just taking my medicine". Also, would gin be covered by insurance under the THK plan?

Are you calling me fat?

When I used to work nights with BSOM, we would usually grab dinner during work. We had a running joke (which probably seems really stupid in print) where one of us would make a food related comment and the other would go "Are you calling me fat?". For example, we got chinese food one time and I had two bags, each with our orders in them. I go "this bag must be yours, it's heavier" and he goes "Are you calling me fat?".

The fact is that I am fat. I try to eat better, but I tend to fall off the wagon, I lead a sedentary lifestyle, work at a job where I rarely get up, and eat a lot of fast and convinient food. While it's obvious looking at me that I have a 30-pack instead of a six-pack, most people are polite enough not to point it out.

Until today. I was working with Dave, my coworker (and occasional co-drinker) to set up some machines for some specialized software that has for reasons I don't understand become partly my responsibility. We were lugging the empty boxes to the dumpster when we bumped into the guy who fills the vending machines at the college where I work. He complemented Dave for losing a ton of weight (which he has), and then goes to me "and you, what's up with you? You look like you've gained a bunch of weight" (or something to that effect). Which sadly is true, but most people are a little too polite to point it out. But yup, he basically called me fat.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Anti-social (security)

One other point I forgot to make in my last post before Mad Anthony goes nighty-night. Bush touched on what is probably my second-favorite issue after security/terrorism, It's the one government program that burns me up the most - more than socialized medicine or pork barrel spending that gets most of West Virginia paved with concrete named after Robert Byrd. That program of course is Social Security. Bush gets it in a way that Kerry doesn't.

Bush has proposed a 2% savings account, so that people can actually take some of the money that they earn, and that the goverment takes by force from their paychecks and gives to other people, and let them keep it. Kerry is against it.

I don't remember Kerry's exact words, but he talked about how he "saved" social security in the 90's, and how he will step in and do that again if he needs to. He doesn't seem to grasp a simple fact - social security will eventually collapse. You can't have a system where you pay out more than you pay in and expect it to go on for any length of time. This is the buisness plan that's had, and there is a reason that the ones that practiced this kind of spending don't exist anymore. Social Security wasn't "saved" in the 90's - it's just that it's death was put off a little. The reason for that was less Kerry's brilliant work and more the booming economy/ bubble that increased the amount of money going in.

Now, I don't think Bush's plan goes far enough - I would love to see Social Security scrapped altogether, but old people are a powerful voting block and that isn't going to happen anytime soon. However, at least Bush sees a problem and has a solution. Kerry doesn't seem to grasp that the question is "when will social security fail", not "will social security have problems".

I think if people my age thought more about social security, they would be angry - because most of us are intelligent enough to plan for our retirement, and aren't happy that a huge chunk of our hard-earned money goes to the government. Because half of the money that goes to social security is "employer's contribution" (in reality money that your employer would have paid you but instead paid the government), people don't see how much they are taxed. I also think that social security is unfair to people who die young, and never get back the money that the government took (Since African-American men have the shortest lifespans statistically, they lose out the most).

Social security is a system that was designed for a small number of people - it was designed when it was rare that people lived long enough to make it to retirement age. It was never intended as a retirement plan, and it will collapse at some point. It's basic economics. Bush on some level realizes that. Kerry doesn't.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

One last evening spent master debating...

Like the last debate, I spent this one in the chat room at the Command Post. Lots of trolls out tonight, but also lots of good commentary.

I thought Bush did very well tonight. He was strong, he connected with the audience, he didn't make too many silly faces, and didn't say anything too stupid. Kerry didn't do too badly - he managed to keep the Halliburon/ outsourced Bin Laden/ Vietnam references down, which is good for him. He didn't really say anything brilliant, though,

I think it's interesting that you don't usually see Bush name dropping, except to say that Kerry is more liberal than Ted Kennedy. Kerry, on the other hand, kept dropping names - mostly Republican names, like Ronald Regan, Dick Cheney's daughter, and John McCain. Bush did point out that despite what Kerry and McCain agree on, McCain is supporting Bush.

I thought it was odd that Kerry talked about how the assault ban was a good idea, and used as an example finding a drug dealer with an AK - since the drug dealer had the AK during the gun ban. Obviously the assault weapon ban doesn't work.

Bush dropped a lot of numbers - almost too many. I like theory more than I like numbers. It's great that Bush studied before the debate, but numbers bore me.

I thought most of the questions sucked. The "can you make America safe again" question seemed pointless, the flu question seemed irrelevant, and too many of the questions were too much about being personal than about policy (why are people gay? and the religion questions). The gay question also seemed irrelevant, since both candidates are against gay marriage, and the support of the marriage amendment seems pointless since it's dead in the water.

There seems to be a lot of controversy on FOX and on the web about Kerry bringing up Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter. I don't know if I agree that it is a plot on Kerry's part to get the vote of people who hate gays... but it did seem like a stupid answer. It didn't really answer anything, and it didn't have a whole lot to do with the question.

More thoughts later, maybe.

Credit where credit is due...

MSN has an article about using credit cards for "survival debt" like groceries and fast food.

Now, much of the article is legit - if you are are putting groceries on your credit card and carrying a balance, it's probably a sign that you are in financial trouble.

Some companies are even rewarding consumers for putting their living expenses on credit. “American Express was giving double points for groceries,” McKinley says...
In fact, credit card companies are doing their best to help consumers feel comfortable acquiring debt at any point in their daily lives

I don't know if the sole reason for this is that credit card companies want you to go into debt. They also want the processing fee that is incurred every time you use your card. They also hope that if you get used to using that credit card, you will use it other times for larger purchases.

I'm one of those people who charges almost everything - groceries, gas, fast food, beer, ect. There are a couple reasons I do this. First of all, it means I don't have to carry cash around, not a small thing when you live in my neighborhood. Secondly, I get "float" - I charge stuff, but I don't get billed for it until up to a month later - that's basically an interest free loan. Why give up money now when I can wait a month to give it up? Thirdly is rewards - I primarly use a card that gives me cash back on everything (including a bonus for groceries and other everyday spending), with another card that gives 5% back for gas (and occasionally has other promos, like 5% back on groceries for a limited period). That's free money, and I don't leave free money on the table.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

I'd kill for a Nobel peace prize...

Looks like the Nobel guys got it right for once. They have a tendancy to make some odd choice. For example, in 1994 they gave a Nobel prize for Peace to terrorist Yassir Arafat. This year one of the peace prize winners claims that the AIDS virus was designed by the West as a means of biological warfare.

But I like this year's pick for Nobel prize winning economist. He dislikes Bush's tax cuts... because he feels that they aren't large enough. He thinks a larger tax cut would stimulate the economy more. I like this guy.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Guess Kerry needs to do some reading...

Mark Styrn has another excellent article about Kerry. He does a great job of poking fun at Kerry's debate comment that Hussain would "not necessarily" be in power:

That's John Kerry: the "not necessarily" candidate. Saddam might not necessarily be in power. He might have been hit by the Number 37 bus while crossing the street at the intersection of Saddam Hussein Boulevard and Saddam Hussein Parkway in downtown Tikrit. He might have put his back out with one of his more vigorous concubines and been forced to hand over to Uday or Qusay. He might have stiffed Chirac in some backdoor deal and been taken out by some anthrax-laced Quality Street planted by an elite French commando unit.

But he also makes a good point about Kerry's plan (yes, Kerry has a plan!) to cut taxes for those earning less than $200,000 while raising taxes for those earning more than $200,000.

Now the $200,000 cutoff doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me for a number of reasons, only one of which is my belief in trickle-down economics. Why $200G? Is there some reason to reward those who make $199.999.99 with tax cuts while punishing those making $200,000.01 with a tax increase? Move the tax burden a couple percentage points up for the latter person, and he could wind up paying way more than the first guy for the sin of earning an extra two cents.

The other thing is that people - especially people with a lot of money - can do things to avoid taxes. My guess is that there are going to be a lot of people in a Kerry-governed America whose income magically drops to $199,999.99 or less. One of the chief problems with our tax system is it's complexity and vast number of loopholes - and the rich will take advantage of those loopholes, as well as having an incentive to work less since they keep less of their money. My guess is Kerry is looking at income earned statically (assuming that income will be the same as it is now under his higher tax plan), but the tax increase will mean that more people will earn less and the amount collected will be less than he expects.

It also seems to me that $200,000 as a definition of rich is very dependant on a number of things, like where you live. $200,000 a year in a place like DC or NY (home of the $70 million dollar apartment) is a smidge over middle class, while that kind of income in say, Arkansas or New Hampshire could let you live like a king.

But as Steyn points out, Kerry's claim that nobody in the audience makes more than $200 grand a year is questionable - and show's he's out of touch with America:

Kerry, on the other hand, was accomplished only in media-smoothie terms. At Friday's debate, the Senator pledged that he wouldn't raise taxes on families earning over $200,000. Then he gazed out over the audience and said: "And looking around here, at this group here, I suspect there are only three people here who are going to be affected: the President, me, and Charlie, I'm sorry, you too," he added, chuckling clubbily with the debate moderator, big-time ABC News anchor Charles Gibson.

Well, he has a point. Bush is a millionaire, Gibson's a zillionaire, and Kerry's a multi-gazillionaire. But how can you tell by looking at people that they earn under 200 grand? And, even if you can, is it such a great idea to let 'em know they look like working stiffs and chain-store schlubs? But, when you've married two heiresses, it's kinda hard to tell where the losers with mere six-figure incomes begin: it's like the 97-year-old who calls the guys in late-middle age "sonny". In America, quite a few fairly regular families earn 200 grand and an awful lot more families hope to be in that bracket one day. And, more importantly, the sheer condescension of assuming that the room divides into the colossi of the politico-media ruling class and everyone else sums up everything that's wrong with the modern Democratic Party.

Sounds like Kerry needs to read The Millionaire Next Door, an interesting book where an author interviewed and surveyed a number of people who have net worths of over a million dollars. He found that most of these people were average in other ways - they lived in middle-class suburbs, shopped at Sears, drove Buicks and other less-than flashy cars (frequently bought used), and otherwise did nothing to display their wealth. In fact, they accumulated their high net worth precisely by living non-flashy lifestyles - by earning lots of money, but also by not spending it.

The other thing that's dangerous about flat figures of what rich is is that inflation will eventually make it to the point where $200,000 is not the top 1% of income, but more like the top 10% or so. We've seen this happen with other tax cutoffs like the Alternative Minimum Tax, which was originally intended to cover a small number of rich people, but now covers a much larger group of people who make a mere $75,000 or so. Much like there is nothing in Washington as permenant as a temporary program, there is nothing as far-reaching as a law meant to cover a small number of people.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

HiJack This!

Like most of my posts, this is a bit out of date, but something I thought was worth posting. As everyone knows, Cheney said instead of in Tuesday's veep debate. wound up sending people to billionair Bush-basher George Soros' site.

It turns out that's owners decided to redirect the traffic to Soros' site after the slipup. And when you read articles this one, you get the impression that the switch was made by a poor website operator deluged with unintentional traffic after Cheney screwed up.

In reality, it looks like's owners wanted to trade on people's screwups - they just never bargained on Cheney sending a bunch of traffic their way. It looks to me like is a cybersquatter - a site owned by someone who takes a name that is easily misspelled or typed with the wrong suffix in the hopes of getting visitors to click on their ads - or worse. See, many of those cybersquatter sites also do things like install spyware or adware on your computer that delivers popup ads, tracks your internet activity, routes clicks on sites through their commission programs, changes your homepage, and a host of other fun stuff. They want people to click on their site, because that's how they make money, and they choose names that people will mistype or get wrong.

Now, I don't know this for sure, but the Newsweek article describes the site as a, a for-profit advertising site based in the Cayman Islands.. And we all know legitimate internet companies love the Cayman Islands for it's, umm, robust network infrastructure, and not it's banking and other privacy laws. Plus, it's interesting to note that was registered in September of 2003 while was registered February 2004 - so it seems reasonable that their registration was influenced by the existance of the legit and popular site, in the hopes of catching people who mistyped it.

It's interesting that in addition to taking a load off their servers, the cybersquatters also say that they did it to make a political point. The political point seems to be that Kerry is the president of choice for cybersquatters and adware pushers. Now there's a ringing endorsement!

EDIT: I noticed a lot of people have come to this post looking for the spyware removal tool HiJack this - you can find it here

Stop! He's got a gun!

I don't agree with a lot of what Mickey Kaus says - he has said that Bush has forced the clash of civilizations with Muslim extremism, while I think it's the other way around, and he called my car vulgar.

But sometimes he totally gets it right (scroll down to September 8 1:20am, Kausfiles is stupid! - amazing that blogspot can handle permalinks, but Microsoft's Slate mag can't)

1) If a man says he has a gun, acts like he has a gun, and convinces everyone around him he has a gun, and starts waving it around and behaving recklessly, the police are justified in shooting him (even if it turns out later he just had a black bar of soap). Similarly, according to the Duelfer report, Saddam seems to have intentionally convinced other countries, and his own generals, that he had WMDs. He also convinced much of the U.S. government. If we reacted accordingly and he turns out not to have had WMDs, whose fault is that? Why doesn't Bush make that argument--talking about Saddam's actions in the years before the U.S. invasion instead of Saddam's "intent" to have WMDs at some point in the future? (It wouldn't necessarily make the Iraq war prudent, but it would make Americans feel more comfortable about it than what Bush has been telling them.)

It amazes me that the debate seems to be between either a)Saddam had WMD's or b)Bush made the whole WMD thing up as an excuse to go to war. I'm not entirely convinced that Saddam didn't have any WMD's, but I'll accept it for the sake of argument. Even if we accept that he didn't have them, he sure acted like he did. He kicked the inspectors out, and when he allowed them back in he kept refusing them to let them inspect a ton of places like his palaces. He was making every effort possible to make it appear that he had them. Keep in mind what the debate was before the war - it wasn't if Saddam had weapons or not, but rather if we should go to war or if "inspections would work". For inspections to "work", one of two things would have to happen - either weapons would be discovered or we would conclusively know that there were no weapons to be found. But with Saddam refusing to allow inspections in many of the places that seemed likely to contain weapons, there was no way that inspections would "work" by definition. Saddam was hoping that he could get the benefits of people thinking he had weapons (power/fear) without actually having them. With that as Saddam's plan, there was no reason for him to ever allow inspections -they would only prove that the emperor had no clothes.

In many states (at least this is the way it was in NJ when I took driver's ed there), if you are pulled over for suspected drunk driving and fail the field sobriety tests) you have to take a breath test. Refusing to take the test carries the same penalty as taking the test and failing - it's assumed that you were drunk unless proven otherwise. If that kind of standard is good enough for American drunks, it seems reasonable enough for murderous dictators as well.

If only dreams could come true...

Kerry is getting some much deserved grief from Republicans for Telling NY Times magazine that he wants to view terrorism as a nuisance. (towards the end of the article)

From the article

"We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance." He appeared to equate terrorism to prostitution and illegal gambling, saying they can be reduced but not ended.

I would like to live in a world where terrorism was just a nuisance - but getting back to that way of thinking means Americans will die. Thinking of terrorism as a nuisance is the way we reacted to previous attacks - it's the way we acted after the first World Trade Center bombing, after the African embassy bombings, after the USS Cole bombing, after the capture of the plotters of the attempts to blow up LAX and the NY tunnel system. That kind of pre-9/11 mentality is what will make 9/11 style attacks possible.

Kerry is right that terrorists will always exist, of course - that is what Bush meant when he said that the war on terror was unwinable. But we should still approach it as a fight that we can and must win, because if we adopt an attitude that "shit will happen", it will. It is accepted that some level of drugs and prostitution will occur because for the most part they are "victimless" crimes, or at least crimes where much of the damage in inflicted on a small group of people (ie most of the victims of drug-related shootings are drug dealers or drug users). Terrorism is not a "victimless" crime - it is the opposite, where all the victims are innocent, where all the victims were at the wrong place at the wrong time. It is fight that we can't accept that stuff will happen, because if we let our guard down we will be open for further attacks.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

I just don't understand how people can disagree with me...

A coworker of mine pointed me to this letter from Sean Penn to Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of South Park and of Team America: World Police.

When I first started hearing about Team America, I thought it was going to be a stab at Bush and conservatives - but after hearing more about it, it sounds like it's going to offend everyone.

Anyway, Sean is mad because Trey and Matt said that if you don't have an opinion about the election, it doesn't matter if you don't vote. Which seems like a reasonable statement. I've always thought that generic "get out the vote" drives like Rock the Vote don't make sense, because if the group of people who are voting mirrors the general electorate, it will increase the number of votes but not change the outcome. The assumption, of course, is that voters will vote a certain way, and the general (but not necessarily true) conclusion is that young people will vote liberal.

So when Sean is saying that there is shame in not voting, what he means is that there is shame in not voting for Kerry. Because he can't seem to realize that some people have different opinions of the world, based on their own observations and value judgments, and that those opinions are not inherently wrong.

Sean also tells us that anyone who has a child needs to vote - playing up the patently false draft rumors. But the children who are at war now signed up for the military by choice - and most of them support Bush. So Sean is defending those who either don't want to be defended (Bush-supporting troops) or don't need to be defended (young people who aren't going to be drafted, no matter how many internet rumors the dems start).

And don't forget this:

Not so well, to encourage irresponsibility that will ultimately lead to the disembowelment, mutilation, exploitation, and death of innocent people throughout the world. The vote matters to them. No one's ignorance, indcluding a couple of hip cross-dressers, is an excuse.

He's right, of course. Which is why I'm voting for Bush, who I think will do the best job of defending the US and others against Muslim extremists who are all about killing and exploiting innocent people in a quest to kill everyone who doesn't agree with a Muslim theocracy.

Also, Mad Anthony's tip of the day: When you write a letter/memo and end it with the phrase "F**k you", don't expect to be taken seriously.

I just can't stop master debating...

I haven't read any of the blog commentary on the debate - I wanted to post my thoughts before they became swayed by opinion (although since I hung out in the Command Post chat during the debate, that may have colored my opinions).

I thought Bush did a better job than the previous debate - not perfect, but better. I thought Kerry did a good job of avoiding certain points that got on my nervers the last time - I don't remember any mentions of Vietnam, compared to a half-dozen in the first debate. He didn't mention Halliburton until the end. He still talked about Tora Bora, but he didn't use the silly term "outsourcing" like he did in Debate 1.

I'm guessing that Bush saying he didn't own a timber company might get him in trouble. I don't think it's unreasonable for him not to know - I don't even do my own taxes (my Dad does them for me), and my finances aren't exactly complex. If you asked me off the top of my head what mutual fund my 401k is in, I couldn't tell you. Since Bush has more money and more important things to do than I do, his not knowing about the timber company doesn't strike me as a big deal - but it was a good talking point for Kerry.

I get a kick out of Kerry saying that "you know things are bad in Iraq because you see it on your TV." To me, and lots of other conservatives/moderates, that shows more about what gets on TV (if it bleeds, it leads) and to a lesser extent the bias in the main stream media, more than it shows that things are actually bad.

I wish Bush would grow some balls on the whole Canadian drug thing and point out how stupid it is. Canada has cheaper drugs because they have a socialized health care system and price controls, not because Viagra grows better during harsh Canadian winters. People in the US are basically subsidizing the R&D for those Canidian drugs, and it's unlikely that drug companies would allow for mass exportation. Megan McCardle has an excellent post on why price controls on drugs are a bad thing for people's health.

I was puzzled by Kerry on stem cell research - he almost sounded like he was accusing Bush of being immoral/wishy-washy for his compromise - which seems ironic for a guy whose position on abortion is exactly that.

Supposedly the questioners were people who were undecided voters. Some of them didn't sound very undecided to me (ie the lady who asked about the bad image of America overseas, the guy who asked about Bush's environmental record). I thought the last question addressed to Bush - name three mistakes you've made - was a horrible question. It was like asking "when did you stop beating your wife?". There is no answer Bush could give that wouldn't be taken as a sound bite by Dems saying that he made mistakes, has poor judgement, or flip-flops. Bush totally avoided the question, and that's probably the best thing he could have done.

Oh, and if I had taken a drink for every time Kerry said that "I have a plan". I would have died of alcohol poisioning. He didn't do a very good job of describing any of his plans (his Iraq plan seems to be "I will do what Bush is doing, but I';l fly the Iraqi police to another country to train them, and maybe suck up to France"). Kerry is a good speaker (except for the stumble where he was trying to descibe diseases treatable with stem cells), but there isn't a lot of substance to what he says much of the time.

Friday, October 08, 2004

More Master Debating...

Just finished watching the debates. Decided not to liveblog it this time. Hung out in the chat room at The Command Post, which was fun.

I'll probably post some thoughts tomorrow, but right now I'm ready for some sleep. Gotta be at work in 8 hours.

I'm not addicted to coffee, I can quit anytime

Ok, the title to this post is false. I'm an addict. I probably drink about 30 to 40 ounces of coffee a morning, If I don't drink it, I suffer both mental confusion and crushing headaches. While I will occasionally purchase a Starbucks or Borders gourmet coffee drink, I usually stick with homebrewed or workbrewed canned coffee, interspersed with the occasional RoFo or Dunkin' Donuts brew.

But as an addict, I found this Slate article on the addictive power of Starbucks interesting.

There are two major bones I have to pick with it, though. The first is the dramatic begining where he compares the price of coffee - a dollar at the convinience store, $4.39 for a Java Chip Frappacinio. That seems to me to be comparing apples to oranges - it seems obvious that a plain cup of coffee is going to cost less than a complex chilled coffee beverage. Drinks like lattes and Fraps cost more partly because people are willing to pay extra for them, and partly because they are much more labor intensive. As the classic Bud Light ad says, they call it a latte because it costs a latte money and takes a latte time to make it. A more valid comparision would be between a cup of coffee from a convinience store and from Starbucks. The largest size cup of coffee from RoFo costs $1.09. The largest size coffee from the on-campus Starbucks at the college that signs Mad Anthony's paycheck charges $1.79. It does cost more, but not as dramatically more as the comparision would make you think. Plus, the Starbucks doesn't get robbed on a regular basis the way the nearest RoFo does.

The other questionable statement is this one:

The Wall Street Journal earlier this year sent samples of coffee from Starbucks, 7-Eleven, and Dunkin' Donuts to Central Analytical Laboratories. The lab reported that a 16-ounce Starbucks house blend coffee contained 223 milligrams of caffeine, compared with 174 and 141 milligrams in comparable amounts of Dunkin' Donuts and 7-Eleven coffee, respectively

True, but how many Starbucks customers actually get brewed coffee, compared to the fancy (and more expensive) lattes and the like? Those drinks are heavy on milk, so they have less caffine. The CSPI caffeine chart seems to bear this out (and also tells me that those pre-class Mocha Lattes aren't helping me much).

Well, I gotta stop writing and grab some coffee.

That article is gay!

This article's a couple days old, but I really wanted to post it. It's an opinion coulumn by a Guardian reporter about FOX NEWS.

The article does two things. It bashes FOX for being "too openly opinionated" and it says that by making comments about Kerry being a metrosexual, that they are saying that he's gay. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I am of the mind that the quotes accidently put on FOX's website was an honest mistake, that the fact that FOX news reporters have biases is not shocking, and that I'm sure other writers for other stations have said the same kind of thing or far worse about Bush. I also think those who complain about the partisianship of FOX are often looking at the commentators or commentary-centered shows as opposed to the hard news anchors, who are more balanced. Who would want to watch an opinion show hosted by someone with no opinions?

I think the meterosexual thing is a little more interesting, though. I don't think metrosexual necessarily means gay. I tend to think it means more that someone is overly vain, and it seems that is a valid criticism of Kerry, considering his rumored Botox treatments. It also tends to indicate culture - which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but you get the sense that Kerry is a guy who only appriciates culture and never mingles with the little people - like his Wendy's visit in NY a few months back that was followed by his real meal of shrimp vindaloo catered by a yacht club.

Bush, despite being wealthy, feels like a guy you can hang with, someone who isn't vain, someone that people can relate to. People don't feel that way about Kerry. He doesn't look like he would be comfortable in a frat house full of beer posters or in the backyard of a family barbeque in a small town.

I don't think the average guy - who sports a bit of a beer belly, and whose morning prep consists of a quick shave and shower, and who has never exfoliated - can relate to Kerry and his Botox treatments.

It's a fair argument if that's a good reason to pick a candidate - but I think Kerry's vanity and out-of touch vibe is a fair thing to look at, and that pointing it out doesn't mean that you are calling him gay.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

When liberals attack...

The latest news about attacks on Republican headquarters is this claim of attacks on the Wisconsion Repubs. This happened at the same time as the Florida riots and the shooting at the Tennessee campaign shootings.

I think the Wisconsin thing may be blown out of proportion a bit, but the Florida thing seems pretty serious.

I'm not going to say that all liberals are raving nuts, at least when they aren't talking about Halliburton. But there seem to be some nutty elements in the Democratic ranks.. If the Dems expect to be taken seriously, they need to speak out and control these elements. The left has a habit of forgetting that the people that they need to vote for them are swing voters - people who are seriously thinking of voting for Bush - and when they see a mob running through Bush headquarters, it's probably not going to make them side with the mob. Which is great for Republicans like myself.

One common thread with the Orlando and Wisconsin attacks, and other ones like the one in Boston in March is that they were all union members. I've never been a big fan of unions, who are nothing but rent-seekers who go as far as possible to take money from others and give it to themselves.

There is a quote in the Orlando article that We want to send a clear message to Bush, we want him to take his hands off our overtime pay. How touching. Too bad that it's not true. The Bush changes in overtime benefit low wage workers - the people that lose government mandated overtime pay are white collar workers like computer programers - which I doubt that the Orlando rioters were.

Fake, but accurate...

Cheney is getting some bad press for his comment about never seeing Edwards before the debate.

OK, I will grant that the statement is factually innacurate. There are 3 documented times where Edwards and Cheney met - a 2001 prayer breakfast, a 2001 TV interview, and Liddy Dole's swearing-in ceremony.

But notice something - none of these times are actual sessions of congress. Cheney's point isn't that he doesn't know Edwards or never met him, his point is that as Senator he hasn't bothered to show up to work on a regular basis - which is a valid critique, and one that bumping into Cheney at a TV interview doesn't refute.

I'm not wearing any underwear...

Republicans in Michigan are asking the state to file charges against Michael Moore for handing out underwear, ramen noodles, and other gag gifts to voters who promised to vote for Kerry.

Now, I dislike Michael Moore as much as the next guy (unless the next guy is, say, Jimmy Carter), but I think that the Republicans might be going a bit too far. I think the "gifts" were handed out as a joke, and I can't imagine too many people turning their back on their political beliefs based on a 25¢ bag of Ramen noodles. This makes the Republicans look like they have no sense of humor. I think it's a bad move on their part.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

One more thought on the state of the economy....

Edwards kept bringing up the economy, jobs lost, ect. He paints a picture of the U.S. as a place where most people are miserable, where nobody has a job or healthcare or any hope for the future - two Americas, if you will.

First of all, I'm not of the mind that the President does a whole lot in the creation of jobs. Clinton was president during a period of economic growth that was heavily impacted by the boom. Bush was burdened with the collapse of the afformentioned boom, plus the fact that 9/11 was an attack whose largest target was 2 towers full of businesses - something that hurt business in general.

I know that there are people out there who don't have jobs, or don't have great jobs - but I think it's a smaller chunk than the impression that you get from KerryEdwards. I remember a survey a while ago that people thought the economy is doing badly overall - even though they felt they are doing pretty well themselvs. I do wonder if when people will vote, they will look at their own lives or about the fearmongering of the Dems.

Debate blogging followup

Well, I was almost too busy blogging to form any dramatic opinions, and I haven't checked the rest of the blogs for feedback. Overall, I wouldn't say that there were a lot of surpises. The talking heads are on fox now (I got my sound back by turning off recording on the RePlay). Mort Kondrack things it got dull. Can't really disagree.

I think that Dick did a good job of pointing out Kerry's senate record, getting No Child Left Behind out there, and showing his experience. I wish that he had been able to give a better response to Edwards than visit to the Halliburton complaints - but I think the time frame made it hard to do that.

I was also surprised how much Edwards beat on Iran, especially after he wanted to send them nuclear materials.

May have some more thoughts later.

Live blogging - the veep debate...

8:55 - ready to go - got my beer, my remote, and my trusty XP machine. Not really sure what to expect - I never saw the last vp debate. Dick's not known for much speaking wise, but he does toss some zingers out. Edwards is usually slick, but with his recent "anyone who doesn't vote for me is crazy" line, he may well snap.

9pm - I'm watching it on FOX. Still have the talking heads going as they pan on the two sitting at the table with the moderator. Different format this time- sitting instead of podiums.

and we're off

9:02 - sponsored by, rules, ect from the moderator. Two will enter, only one will leave... if only

9:04 - first question, something about why we were in Iraq (my roomate walked in, missed the question). Lays out why went into Iraq, no shockers but nothing out of line either.

Owww, Edwards on the attack, accuses him of not being straight - they see it on their television that it's not going well. Maybe that tells you something about what you see on TV. Throws in McCain, mess, worse, incompetant administration. no alliances. Kerry will speed up training

Dick: not a lot of time, things getting better, democracy coming soon.

Edwards – CIA says links tenuous, no proof

9:09 – Edwards if we had more time, would have found no WMD’s via inspections (I guess the ones that didn’t work for 12 YEARS)
Another complaint about not capturing OBL – “diverting attention”, listen carefully, no links between 9/11 and AQ – Which the VP never said, has said link between AQ and Iraq/terror

And dick says it, brings up "global test" and Kerry's UN comments, cutting defense, against Desert Storm - always on the wrong side of defense issues. SNAP!

9:12 – next question – how to capture OBL (can we capture him if he’s dead – mod doesn’t ask that). We took down Taliban. Calls Edwards out on being negative on Afganistan with elections coming up. Will keep troops there and change, but getting better. Women voting, going to school – Dick is good for the ladies.

Edwards jumps on the giving to Afgan warlords, . Rejects global test – and brings up Kerry’s vietnam record. Afganistan not good, providing Opium and country under drug lords

9:16 - Dick - El Salvador, dedicated , free elections helped and will help.
Edwards calls out Iran's nuclear weapons program (didn't Kerry want to send them freakin' nuclear fuel - and Edwards just said he wants more sanctions)

Moderator just read Kerry's global test line - Edwards says that test means we will tell the truth... and the world ?

9:22 – Edwards talks about Kerry’s strength, Dick replys that Kerry’s record speaks for itself.
Moderator – would Kerry be dangerous as president? Dick – not challanging patriotism, but question judgement. Not aggressive against terror. Was against weapons. Against desert storm. No conviction. Says Kerry’s vote against troops was in response to Dean

9:24 – long resume does not mean won’t make misjudgements – not the best response to a list of misjudgements. Now says that the weapon systems Kerry voted against were the ones Dick didn’t want. No plan to win the peace (Edwards doesn’t seem to grasp that war is dirty). First Halliburton reference by Edwards

Dick says that Kerry was for the war when was good – didn’t respond to the Halliburton bait.

9:27 – mod calls out Kerry on coaltion, since coalition has said wouldn’t join.

We have a plan for Iraq – training Iraqs, train outside of Iraq. Good, but not exactly a huge plan. UN needs more people for election, success breeds coalition – (but once we have success, why do we NEED a coaltion?)

Dick – brings up the coalition of the coerced and bribed comment, points out that we have 30 countries on our side. Disses Kerry for dissing Allawi

:31 – 90% of coalition allies, Dick says he won’t credit the Iraqis (he has a point, the Iraqis are dying for their country, and he’s the one who wants to train more of them. The fact that they are doing their own security seems relevant)

9:32 – American intell question – would you have accurate intel?
Edwards: Dick insinuating connection between 9/11 and Hussain (which he has explictly said he isn’t) – once again brings up TV, beheadings (if we base our policy on the beheadings, aren’t we doing just what the beheaders want?)

Edwards – 9/11 changed things, but Repubs against 9/11 commision, homeland security ( maybe because comittees suck).

Dick – still possible links, zarquowi sucks

9:36 - you were for business with Iran when with Halliburton, now aren’t. Dick – says that with Unilateral sanctions, useless b/c other countries step in (like France and food for oil). Says UN sanctions good because lots, also Iran not as big a deal, no resolutions violated. Korean coalition. Success with Libeya/Quadafi thanks to Iraq attack.

Edwards – Iran moved forward with nuclear weapons progam, Kerry wants to strengthen sanctions (I thought he wanted to send them nuclear weapons). Brings up Halliburton, compares to Enron, business with Libya and Iran

Dick asks for more time, mod says no. Dick says go to for info. Edwards repeats his Halliburton claim.

9:41- Israel. Was US absent from peacemaking process. Edwards– Israel can defend itself (gee thanks). I was in Israel when Sbarros pizzaria blown up, think of the children. Needs to crack down on Saudis.

9:44 – Halliburton a smoke screen for poor attandance for senate. I’m in senate there as VP, never saw you there. Hussain funded suicide bombers. Support for 2 state solution – first president ever,

Edwards – distortion of records, says he was agains MLK day, meals on wheels, eduction funding, ect

9:47 – what will you do for poor cities like Cleaveland? (I thought it rocked)
Dick – people need jobs, taxes, medical care, litigation cost (lets see what Edwards says to that), education – no child left behind – even Ted Kennedy liked no child left behind.

9:49 – Edwards says question was on jobs but Dick talked about Education (because you don’t need an education to get a job). Says other presidents created jobs except this one . Against outsourcing (through tax changes? Not likely to do a whole lot).

Dick – tax cuts, medicare, education helped people. President got prescription drugs. Data doesn’t include this year.

Edwards – medical costs up (brave words coming from a guy who was a freakin’ TORT LAWYER)

9:52 – how can you cut tax and deficit? Edwards – roll back tax cuts for people who make over 200k per year, tax cuts for middle class, cut spending, get rid of corporate loopholes, can cut deficit in half

Dick – Kerry loves taxes, Dick wants people to keep there own money and have control over it (w00t!). Small businesses pay personal taxes, will be hit, and small businesses create jobs. Edwards said during primary that Kerry’s plan would drive up deficite (nice shot!)

Edwards will cut that stuff, voted for taxes. No tax cuts for multi-millionaires (since when did making $200k make you a multi-millionaire?)

9:56 – you like same sex unions in the past, why did your adminstration back FMA. Dick says can do what you want, but doesn’t mean government endorses it. Wants it up to states. President felt shouldn’t be up to state courts, and he endorses it.

Edwards – people who get dividends by swimming pools pay less taxes (maybe because their income is already taxed under corporate income taxes).

9:59 – from Mass, which likes gay marriage, but aren’t for it. Are you trying to have it both ways? (huh – odd question). Edwards wants partner benefits – funeral arrangements hard for gay couples (maybe they should plan in advance?).

Edwards – states don’t have to recognize marriages (never mind that they ALWAYS have in the past), don’t need amendment.

10:02 – lawyers cause medical costs, edwards a lawyer, is he part of the problem?
Dick – I don’t know Edward’s cases, but malpractice insurance is way too high and putting people out of business, docs passing up high rate patients. Cap noneconic damage and trial lawyers share (nice). Reform blocked by Kerry 10x.

Edwards – proud of work agains big insurance/HMOs (but malpractice insurance companies get their money FROM THE DOCTORS YOU WERE SUING AND PASS IT ON TO THEIR PATIENTS). Against frivoulous lawsuits. But I sued swimming pool companies!

10:06 – do you feel personally attacked when he disses trial lawyers (which seems like a stretch considering how much time he spent berating Dick for Halliburton). Says malpractice insurance is not the big problem – but goes on to talk about it. Says medical cost has gone up a bunch (but how accurate is that – quality isn’t fixed – the quality of the medical care has also gotten better, he’s comparing apples to oranges).

Dick – insurance a big problem, I was in Minnesota (funny how they are always in swing states). Yells at Edwards for setting up S corp to avoid medicare costs.

Edwards calls out Halliburton for offshore companies (but no specific examples)

10:10 – black women get AIDS, what are you going to do in America?

Dick tells us AIDS is bad (we know). President concerned. $15 billion international effort. In US, overall progress. Education. Great new drugs

Edwards – Africa – will double AIDS funding, Africa – AIDS and genocide are bad, kerry spoke about it ellequently (he did?). lots of people without healthcare.

10:14 – to Edwards – you have the least political expereince of any VP candidate.
Edwards- you can trust me. I like killing terrorists. I’m against nuclear weapons, more active duty troops
Dick – you want me to answer a question about his qualifications? Moderator – that was the question. Dick says he was picked for experience,

10:18 – brings up Kerry’s vietnam experience again. Dick – global conflict, Bush understands it, reaches to Jakarta (huh?)

10:19 – moderator – how are you different from opponent?
Dick – similarities, modest circumstances, union member, no health insurance. Personal stories similar. Careers different. Public service. Terrorist threat. 9/11 sucked.

Edwards – saddam didn’t do 9/11, names Kerry (mod calls him out), coalitions rock! Kerry mention again, but he catches himself this time. No unified terrorist watch list (welcome to bureocracy). We don’t screen cargo (I though we screened the cargo, but not the holds

10:23 – flipflops – Kerry on war, Bush on homeland security.

Edwards - Kerry consitant about Iraq – coaltion, plan. We said it (right….)
For and agains homeland security, 9/11 (in the same voted before it/voted against it voice). For patients bill of rights, but didn’t sign it.

Dick – I can think of a lot of words to describe Kerry on Iraq. Consistancy not one of them. Lists Kerry flipflops (spending, war vote, ect). Says that more troops aren’t the answer, getting Iraqis to do security is the idea (I thought that was Kerry’s plan too?)

10:27 – Edwards – didn’t fund mandates, plan to give incentives to teachers – blacks dropping out of school (is Bush forcing them out? Is this a change from Clinton time?).

Dick – calls edwards out on voting for it and beginning


10:28 – very deeply divided electorate – how will you bridge the divide in way didn’t in last 4 years

Dick – disappointed have not bridged gap. Early success (no child…). Misses the good old days when people worked together (hard to believe).

10:30 – shit, my sound just went out. Missed Edwards statement

10:33- turned on radio. Canada – we need drugs from there (edwards) – he doesn’t seem to grasp that canada’s socialised medicine system means the US pays for Canada’s stuff.

Missed edward’s closing statement, except that he likes kitchen tables.

Dick – we like jobs, I have experience, 9/11 shows President important, conflict unlike any one ever known. President finds terrorists. We’ve done a bunch of good in Iraq, Afagainistan, ect.

Live blogging

I'm going to take a stab at this whole liveblogging thing. Never done it, not sure how it will go, and based on my experience with Blogger, I'm not expecting the software side to make things smooth. But I'll try.

Dominion wheat ale sitting in front of me (with orange zest!), but no cigar - I've been coughing like crazy lately.

what are you smoking?

The following smoking policy was posted on the website of the satellite collge campus where I work on Saturdays:

We've had several complaints from students who are questioning our support of the "No Smoking within 30 Feet of the Building" college policy.

In an effort to respond to these complaints in an appropriate manner, we have removed the cigarette urns from the front step area and have relocated them on the first island in the parking lot and the lower bay side of the building. Please note that we have also made a bench available at both locations to encourage a smoker-friendly atmosphere.

We are currently looking at ways to promote smoking activities away from the building in a positive way. An inclement weather overhang, attractive signage, and easy access are all items for review.

First of all, let me say that I only smoke cigars, smoke them rarely, and can count the number of cigars smoked on the job on one hand. But are we taking this no smoking thing a bit too far? Yes, it's reasonable not to have smoking indoors - lots of people don't like the smell, it bother some people, ect. But what is the point of saying smokers can't stand outside the door? You walk past them for a few seconds - it's not like you are breathing smoke for hours on end. Sure, smokers are engaging in what most people would say is a bad habit, but are they really so evil that we need to make them stand outside in the parking lot in the rain so we don't have to smell a few seconds of smoke? Why do we seem to have more respect for people who use illegal drugs than people who smoke?

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Global Test!

Is this Kerry's Global Test

h/t InstaPundit

Saturday, October 02, 2004

City mouse, country mouse

I loved this Lileks defense of suburbia as well as this Jane Galt post against "smart growth".

I'm unusual - I live in Baltimore City, a couple miles north of Downtown, but I don't really like the city. When I shop, it's usually in the county, and if I go through with my plan of buying a house, it will most likely be in the suburbs. I've lived in two other places within Baltimore City, but they were literally blocks away from the city line and felt like the suburbs. The one thing I really like about living in the city is my commute - I live about 10 minutes from work, and since I actually live south of where I work, my commute is easy because everyone else is going the opposite direction towards downtown. Plus, it's cheap. I do escape one of the advantages of city life in that we have head-in parking spaces on one side of the street, which makes it easier to park than in most places - but we only have the spaces because my landlord petitioned the city to get them for years.

I was reminded how the ideal cityscape excludes things that people want, like parking, when I went to a concert in Federal Hill last night outside the Cross Street Market. Notice that while "historic federal hill" has a stylish website/Moveable Type blog, it doesn't mention anything about parking. There is one garage in Federal Hill, and it was full by 8:15. I literally drove around for at least 45 minutes looking for a parking space. I finally found one about 7 blocks away, and luckily it was a head-in spot with a meter that wasn't enforced after 10, located in front of an office building that was closed for the night.

Of course, the ideal urban cityscape has no cars in it, and planners like to imagine that people don't drive - but they do. People like the historic aspect of places like Federal Hill - they are great to visit for the historical architecture as well as the ability to go from bar to bar. But most people don't want to live there - they want to live somewhere where they can easily park their cars, where they can feel safe, and where their kids have a backyard to play in.

Of course, there is one group that loves the lack of parking - traffic enforcement. While looking for a spot I saw a traffic guy writing tickets, and when I left the bar we were in, nearly every car parked along the block had a ticket on it. Great system - create an impossible parking situation, then punish everyone for trying to park their car somewhere.

The new al-Zawahri mixtape dropped this week...

Via Drudge comes the latest Zawahri tape. He says that if Muslims don't start blowing stuff up now, they will be "devoured" one country at a time. We can only hope.

He urges attacks on U.S. and British interests worldwide. One of the interesting quotes is this one:
In addition to the United States and Britain, al-Zawahri singled out Australia, France, Poland, Norway, South Korea and Japan, saying they had all participated in occupying Afghanistan, Iraq or Chechnya and gave Israel the "means of survival."

See, that whole not about being involved in Iraq has really spared France the wrath of the terrorists. So much for John Kerry saying that Iraq made OBL hate us more - OBL hates everyone who isn't a radical Muslim extreamist. Also, note the "means of survival" thing about Israel. See, radical Islam doesn't want to peacefully coexist with Israel. They want them dead, they don't want them to survive.

The other interesting thing is that it's Zawahri, not OBL, who keeps making the tapes - which lends credibility to the idea that OBL might be taking a dirt nap right now. Which of course makes Kerry's debate points about the problems of "outsourcing" our attempt at capturing him, and his criticism that Bush's focus on Iraq took away front he hunt for OBL seem hollow.

Nukin' it....

One thing that really puzzled me in the debate was John Kerry's preference for bilateral talks with North Korea compared to Bush's preference for multilateral ones. I have to admit that after a few minutes of hearing the two talk about it I was about to start banging my head into my desk.

Captain Ed and his coblogger Whiskey have good analysis here and here.

It strikes me as an odd position for Kerry since
a)most people don't know the difference between bilateral and multilateral, or care. Nobody is going to change their mind and vote for either candidate over their stance on this issue and
b)Kerry talks on and on about building coalitions, calling our current Iraq coalition fraudulent, getting more UN involvement, ect. - but in an area where Bush has brought together all the interested parties, Kerry would rather have us act like cowboys by going it alone, as the left wingers like to say about Bush

Kerry wants to disagree with Bush on as much as possible so that he can run as the anti-Bush. That might make sense when he's debating controversial things like the war in Iraq - while I support it, war does have high costs and intellegent people can debate if the benefits will be worth the cost. But Kerry seems so focused on always disagreeing with Bush that he'll to it even when it seems clear that Bush's stance is reasonable and noncontroversial.

Friday, October 01, 2004

bag of crap, part 3

Got my bag of crap today - actually bags, they sent me an extra order that had my name on the shipping label but the name of Cathy from Fresno, CA on the packing slip. Not wanting to jack Cathy's shit, I emailed w00t, and recieved a one line reply - "don't worry about it". So now I've got 2 bags of crap.

Both boxes contained:
-an Iomega bag (with a peerless tag on it, originally designed for Iomega's line of peerless drives)
-3 kensington Priority Pucks - a small blue plastic sorter for papers (which would be great, except it doesn't hold a whole lot - I can hardly fit my credit card bill in one of the slots
-a Gateway camera accessory kit consisting of a mini tripod, a small bag, a battery charger with 2 AAA batteries, a lanyard, and a cleaning cloth
-a "cellular pen" (this one) that lights up when your cell phone rings - totally the answer to a question nobody ever asked.

here is a picture of my craptacular glory.