Saturday, March 01, 2003

This is your Commander in Chief:

President George Walker Bush (the guy in office right now) said -
"I feel the comfort and the power of knowing that literally millions of Americans ... say my name to the Almighty every day and ask him to help me."

"My friend, Jiang Zemin in China, has about a billion and a half folks, and I don't think he can say that."

"And my friend, Vladimir Putin, I like him, but he can't say that."
Thanks to Atrios for the incredible find.


Never give up:

U.S. Looks at Alternative War Plans Without Turkey (news item)
"Officials say the Pentagon had already drawn up contingency plans in case Turkey balked."

UPDATE: This is a joke. We were making fun of the fact that Bulgaria was one of the Vilnius 10 (Eastern European countries expressing support for Bush).


White hoods and white balls:

The leader of a Ku Klux Klan splinter group plans to demonstrate in support of Augusta National Golf Club's all-male membership during the Masters, whether the club likes it or not. (news item)

UPDATE: Augusta National, a private club that hosts the Masters each year, issued a statement disavowing any group that seeks to use the tournament as a political soapbox. "Anyone who knows anything about Augusta National Golf Club or its members knows this is not something that the club would welcome or encourage," club spokesman Glenn Greenspan said.

Thanks to Counterspin Central for the tip (which originally came from Oliver Willis).


What a network!

We don't get cable, but with all the talk about Donahue being tossed from MSNBC and the hiring of Michael Savage, we decided to take a look at their schedule. It's pathetic. Here, for example, is what's being broadcast this Saturday night - Sunday morning:
8:00 P.M. ET MSNBC INVESTIGATES - Captured:Busted in the Big Easy On the job with New Orleans Vice. Their practice- perhaps unorthodox. Their results - stunningly successful.

9:00 P.M. ET MSNBC INVESTIGATES - Hollywood Vice As the police of the Hollywood Vice Unit try to stop street prostitution, a new generation of call-girls uses the Web to avoid getting caught. A look at the police of the Hollywood Vice Unit & their attempts to stop street crimes.

10:00 P.M. ET MSNBC INVESTIGATES - Red Light Survivors A look at prostitution -- both legal & illegal -- in the U.S. today.

11:00 P.M. ET MSNBC INVESTIGATES - Captured: Busted in the Big Easy On the job with New Orleans Vice. Their practice- perhaps unorthodox. Their results - stunningly successful.


12:00 A.M ET MSNBC INVESTIGATES - Hollywood Vice As the police of the Hollywood Vice Unit try to stop street prostitution, a new generation of call-girls uses the Web to avoid getting caught. A look at the police of the Hollywood Vice Unit & their attempts to stop street crimes.

1:00 A.M. ET MSNBC INVESTIGATES - Red Light Survivors A look at prostitution -- both legal & illegal -- in the U.S. today.

2:00 A.M. ET MSNBC INVESTIGATES - Captured: Busted in the Big Easy On the job with New Orleans Vice. Their practice- perhaps unorthodox. Their results - stunningly successful.

3:00 A.M. ET MSNBC INVESTIGATES - Hollywood Vice As the police of the Hollywood Vice Unit try to stop street prostitution, a new generation of call-girls uses the Web to avoid getting caught. A look at the police of the Hollywood Vice Unit & their attempts to stop street crimes.

4:00 A.M. ET MSNBC INVESTIGATES - Red Light Survivors A look at prostitution -- both legal & illegal -- in the U.S. today.
Nine consecutive hours devoted to hookers. And on the eve of a war, no less.

Also, two hours immediately before this block of programming - and two hours after - there is "an in-depth look at The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show" - which probably is better suited for the Animal Channel.

Who's surprised at the low ratings? MSNBC is airing 13 hours of flotsam and jetsam (2+9+2) at a time when there is big news out there (Iraq, Turkey, UN, military preparations, protests, Hans Blix,...).


Friday, February 28, 2003

Say what?

Bush's $674 billion tax plan, centered on a proposal to eliminate taxes on corporate dividends, and which was formally introduced on Thursday, generated the following comments:
Treasury Secretary John Snow - ... said the tax package would create "millions of new jobs"     "This is a tax policy that will stand up to scrutiny. This is economics that will stand up to scrutiny."

Georgia Sen. Zell Miller - "The president has come up with a bold, well-thought-out plan that will let virtually every American who pays taxes keep more of their hard-earned money"
Well, virtually every American pays taxes, so by Miller's logic, this tax bill will allow virtually every American to keep more of their hard-earned money.

Of course, that's completely false. A significant number of Americans will be paying more for stuff as benefits programs are scaled back, and they won't get a dime as a result of Bush's proposed legislation. So, it is not true that "virtually all Americans" will be keeping more of their money.

As far as John Snow is concerned, we never thought we'd say it, but, please, bring back Paul O'Neill.


Thursday, February 27, 2003

Does this inspire confidence?


Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Inspired by this nonsense:

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court cleared the way Monday for an Indiana state law that places some of the nation's most severe restrictions on eating meat, including requirements that a diner be counseled face-to-face about the cholesterol risks and offered pictures of what the animal looked like in the slaughterhouse.

The high court turned down an appeal from restaurateurs in Indiana claiming the in-person counseling sessions would force some people to forgo lunch or risk their equilibrium by postponing dinner far into the night.

"This is an outrageous law that leaves many diners without access to red meat, or certainly places a heavy burden, an undue burden, on a customer's right to choose the Chef's Special," said Kate Michelman, president of the rights group SNARL! Pro-Carnivore America.

But Mike Fichter, executive director of Indiana Right to Lettuce, an anti-meat group, said, "For the first time chefs in Indiana will be required to give diners information about the risks. We're glad that the court battles look like they're finally over."

The high court action means that Indiana may begin fully enforcing a law passed eight years ago that requires in-person counseling and an 18-minute waiting period before a customer can order a T-bone steak.

In practice, the Indiana law and similar measures on the books in four other states require customers to make two trips to talk with the maître d'. Opponents said that makes Polish sausage especially difficult to obtain for impatient people, or those who must climb back up stairs to reach the reservations desk.

Making two trips often means leaving the dinner table for twenty minutes, finding a place to stand in the lobby and arranging something to keep fidgety children occupied, said Janet Crepps, staff lawyer for the Center for Ribeye Rights. Customers may also have a hard time explaining their absence from power lunches, or a husband or partner who does not know about an iron deficiency, Crepps said.

Opponents of the Indiana law said research showed that similar laws in Mississippi and Utah forced customers to put off eating delicious meals because of scheduling difficulties or to drive down to the supermarket in order to get something decent to eat.

Louisiana and Wisconsin also have similar in-person counseling requirements.

The Supreme Court did not comment in rejecting the case, which could have offered a new opportunity to review when state restrictions on eating meat become unconstitutional. Nearly every state places some restriction on ordering pork chops, including requirements that women wait a hour or so after requesting an meat-lover's pizza and that they receive certain culinary information beforehand.

The high court has allowed a variety of restrictions, so long as they do not place an "undue burden" on a person's ability to order a basket of fried chicken.

Waiting periods and laws requiring customers to get information ahead of time are not new, but Indian's law goes further than most states in combining the two restrictions.

Meat-eaters claim such restrictions are meant to chip away at the right to a flank steak secured by the Supreme Court 30 years ago. Vegetarians generally support such restrictions as reasonable ways to make sure everyone is bummed-out at the table, although for many they do not go far enough.

"Waiting periods will not end All-you-can-eat Ribs Night," said Erik Whittington, spokesman for the American Legume League. "Although these bills may be well intentioned, they do not address the fact that London Broil means killing a bovine and should never be served under any circumstance."

In Indiana, a 1995 law required that women give what the state called "informed consent" before getting a side order of Vienna Sausage. That means waitresses must tell customers about alternatives to hamburgers and about the availability of Pepto-Bismol if they order the large Caesar salad.

The state Legislature said it intended to inform diners about Sweet'N'Sour Pork and to try to persuade fewer customers to order it. A spokeswoman for the state attorney general was out to lunch and did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

Seven restaurants and a sausage-maker challenged the law in federal court, and the requirement for an in-person interview has never taken effect. Until Monday, diners who ordered beef Stroganoff could avoid making two trips to the kitchen by agreeing to hear the state-mandated information over the telephone when making a reservation.

Testimony before a federal judge in 2000 showed that the required information did nothing to change customer's minds, Crepps said. That judge found that requiring face-to-face meetings would deny pastrami sandwiches to an estimated 10 to 12 percent of customers who wanted them but wished to avoid the hassle.

"It is demeaning to hungry people to suggest they are ordering entrées in haste and without careful thought," Crepps said.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found the in-person counseling rule constitutional last year. A majority of a three-judge appeals court panel said (after wiping their greasy chins) that the law does not create too great a burden for diners, in part because it would waive the counseling requirement if they are really, really hungry.



Actual Congressional Democrats with actual criticism of Bush!     Who knew?

Go to this web page.

Thanks to chinese food is good for the tip.


Birthday Bob:

Robert Novak turns 72 today. He was born exactly two years before ground was broken for the Golden Gate Bridge. That's a long time ago (and might explain Bob's preference for pre-FDR policies).


Tuesday, February 25, 2003


1. Make sure you
are buying drugs
from a dealer
you can trust.
2. There are some
pretty neat things
being brewed up
these days.
3. Smoke or
swallow: choose
what works best
for you.
4. Party at home
or hop in the car?
5. If driving, wait
for Aerosmith.
6. Look at that cool
sunset. Better
pull off before
getting really
7. If staying home,
for God's sake,
have an exit
route in case
John Ashcroft
comes to arrest
8. And remember to
put a towel next
to the door
to prevent
smoke from
getting out.
9. If you're loaded,
time may appear
to slow down
and make watching
TV or listening
to the radio
extremely boring.
10. Oops, overdid

Boy, am I wasted!
11. This is worse
than last year's
Halloween party.
If you're going
to go out
afterwards, be
sure that you're
not showing red-
eye, and wash
your hands to
remove that
dope smell.



Monday, February 24, 2003

Let's see them go at it:

Saddam Hussein wants to debate President George Bush (news item).

Some facts about the al-Samoud 2 missile can be found here.


The Washington Post is kissing up:

The Rittenhouse Review alerts us to this article in the Washington Post about Jeb Bush
The Patience of Jeb
While Others Talk of the Presidency, Bush Focuses on Florida and Family
By Mark Leibovich
and has some choice comments to make as well.

We took a look at the article in question, and were surprised by much of the content.

The following items are not remarks made by friends or associates of Jeb Bush. They are those of the Washington Post reporter:
  • He is the Bush with the angst gene, who seems to labor through even his pinnacle moments. His capacity for public tears is impressive even by the weepy standards of the Bush family. He cried four times at his inaugural events last month -- one fewer than he did during "Forrest Gump."

  • He is a shy public man who seems destined to suffer in the open. He is the Bush who has acknowledged marital strife, who cries while discussing his daughter's drug problems on the "Today" show ...

  • Jeb Bush can be warm and approachable.

  • He projects vulnerability, with a mopey posture and fleshy face that seems to cry out for caretaking. He is the Bush with soft eyes ...
But Jeb is no slacker. No sir!
  • To Jeb Bush, the governance of Florida is a precious space of his own authority, blissfully apart from everything else. "Florida, Florida, Florida," he says, declaring his focus. This is how he steers conversations away from national matters, especially those that concern his brother.

  • He hired driven, policy-oriented aides, usually under 40 years old, to better endure his round-the-clock demands. Bush can be a head-banging micromanager. [Which makes us at uggabugga wonder how much he micromanaged the 2000 election. Apparently, a lot.]
Wow! What kind of access did Leibovich have in order to get those insights? We read:
  • He declined to be interviewed for this article ...
and then there are these two lines:
  1. Bush is 6 feet 4 and slightly heavyset ...
  2. George W. calls Jeb my "big little brother" during appearances (Jeb is five inches taller) ...
That would make George W. Bush 5 feet 11 inches. What happened to our 6 foot tall president?


Sunday, February 23, 2003

A name you can trust:

Cecil Adams over at The Straight Dope steps up and answers the question "Was President Bush's great-grandfather a Nazi?"

The short answer (by Cecil):
So, did Bush and his firm finance the Nazis and enable Germany to rearm? Indirectly, yes.


Why (some) progressives hurt the cause:

In the New York Times, there is an essay about Ethnomathematics. We'll cut to the chase, and quote from one of the books that takes a multi-cultural outlook:
From 'Ethnomathematics: A Multicultural View of Mathematical Ideas,' by Marcia Ascher

A critical issue is that, as it stands, much of mathematics education depends upon assumptions of Western culture and carries with it Western values.
That is complete nonsense, as anybody familiar with the history of the calculus would know. Carries Western values? Like the use of negative numbers, which were grudgingly accepted by the West long after the Hindus were using them? The Western values as expressed by Bishop Berkeley, who challenged Newton's use of infinitesimals in the book "THE ANALYST; OR, A DISCOURSE Addressed to an Infidel MATHEMATICIAN WHEREIN It is examined whether the Object, Principles, and Inferences of the modern Analysis are more distinctly conceived, or more evidently deduced, than Religious Mysteries and Points of Faith" (they had long titles in the 1700's):
And what are these Fluxions? The Velocities of evanescent Increments? And what are these same evanescent Increments? They are neither finite Quantities nor Quantities infinitely small, nor yet nothing. May we not call them the Ghosts of departed Quantities?
When the Ethnomathematicians spout nonsense, it gives people like Lynne Cheney ammunition to do real damage in academia (and not just in the mathematics department).

UPDATE: We could go on and on about this issue. "The West" was hostile to non-Euclidian geometry at first. There were heated arguments over the reality (and utility) of infinite numbers. The West inherited the Greeks' notion that there could never be a "completed infinity" but instead, only a "potential infinity". That contributed to the opposition to Cantor's work. Then there was the wrestling match that took place around 1900 between the Formalists (probably the most "Western" of the trio), the Intuitionists, and the Logical School, concerning the foundation of mathematics.

The point is that mathematics proceeds along its own path, and in doing so, has faced opposition at times from philosophers of many schools - including those of the Establishment West. And of course, at other times mathematics was congruent with Western Philosophy. But the notion that mathematics carries "Western values" is absurd. The values of mathematics are consistency, test by proof, and an axiomatic structure. At times, even though the mathematics was legitimate, it was deemed beyone the pale (most notably with non-Euclidian geometry, for Euclidian geometry was thought of as the way the universe was set up, perhaps by God).

'nuff said.