Sunday, July 30, 2006

The War That Pays for Itself

The Iraq war was supposed to use oil revenues to pay for itself. At this point, we all know that that's not going to happen.

However, what we weren't aware of was that the US government was going to unknown lengths to hide the costs of the war. The New York Times has an interesting article that appeared today, you should be able to read it here.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Haha to those taking the Bar


For real, though, good luck on the Bar everyone.

People who know me know that I like new electronic toys. It seems that my decision to wait until replacing my Razr has paid off. Motorola is ready to release two new phones, the succesors to the Razr. It looks like they both solve the one problem everyone pointed out with the Razr, that it was too wide. More here.

I want one. Heck, I want both. There are two versions: the Krzr and the Rizr. Stupid names - Motorola is taking this "drop a vowel, put in an unnecessary 'z' = autmoatic cool" thing a bit too far.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Transgendered Scientist not the Right Critic?

I get that Ben A. Barres has a unique perspective on gender roles in science because he has lived as both a male and a female while working as a professor at some of the top research institutions in the country. "Ben" used to be "Barbara" ten years ago before he had a sex change operation. You can read more about him in the New York Times here.

From what I understand, the point of the article is that Dr. Barres is in a unique position to criticize Dr. Lawrence Summers' comments last year, in which Summers (as Harvard's President) made comments about the different innate abilities of men and women to perform in the sciences.

My problem with the criticism is that, albeit from my incomplete understanding of transgender issues, Dr. Barres is exactly the wrong person to criticize Dr. Summers. Simply put, he became a man to make his outside match what he felt on the inside. That being the case, he was already a man, so his thoughts on the innate differences between men and women and their performance in the sciences is never actually informed by his "living on both sides of the fence". The only thing that he may actually comment on with any semblance of credibility should be people's differing reactions to men and women in the sciences, which he does.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Is Bush taking performance lessons from Janet Jackson?

Remember when Janet Jackson had her Superbowl "wardrobe malfunction"? She wanted everyone to believe that she didn't intend to bare herself on television, so she attempted to make it appear that the incident was unintentional. This required two things: some kind of pretense - well, she was performing, and the song was about getting naked, and, an assistant - Justin Timberlake, who removed the clothing, but says he was under the assumption that there was another piece of fabric under the one he removed. "How was he to know?" he said. The thing is, no one believed them, everyone pretty much assumed that both knew what was going on, and that both intended to use the publicity from the event to boost their careers. It didn't work, although the event became notorious.

I feel awful about what I'm about to do, but I believe President Bush is trying to pull off what Janet Jackson couldn't: he wants people to believe that his recent microphone accident was a "malfunction".

If you're not familiar with the story, look here. Basically, President Bush and Tony Blair were speaking after a luncheon, and Blair's mic was still on, and President Bush said "See the irony is that what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this s—- and it's over." At this point, Blair realized his mic was on and turned it off.

Now, Syria may very well support Hezbollah. One of the reasons I haven't written about the huge conflict between Israel, Hezbollah, and the Palestinians, is because I don't know much about the conflict, and have a hard time making myself care. If you want to know more, you could try reading this article, although I've had a hard time getting past the first paragraph without falling asleep. The point is, that people debate about if or how much Syria supports Hezbollah. But, if you were President, and you wanted people to believe you weren't trying to spin facts in your favor, you would create the appearance that you didn't think you were being overheard, and then say something you wanted people to believe, so that they think you're saying something in confidence to someone else. It's like being at the bar, and saying to your friend that you think some girl standing two people over is hot, but you say it just a little bit too loud, so that she overhears it.

I'll let you in on a little secret: The girl at the bar knows that you thought she could hear you. No one believed that Janet didn't want to appear naked. Things have gotten so bad in America that I have trouble believing that Bush didn't engineer this situation to try to pull the wool over American's eyes, once again. Maybe we'll overhear him talking about mobile biological weapon laboratories in Syria later this week.

Also, I thought this video was funny, especially because M is a Mac newbie, and can't stop talking about how awesome they are:

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Tucker Carlson

Tucker Carlson is an idiot. There, I've always wanted to say that.

I was watching him just now on MSNBC, and he said about 10 things that I not only disagreed with, but also thought were patently stupid (there's a difference) in the span of about 45 seconds. Jon Stewart was right to make fun of him when he visited Carlson's CNN show Crossfire.

I had to watch it again today, to cheer myself up. For you:

RUDY




The Post writes that Rudolph Giuliani is showing an increased interest in running for President in '08. Chris Matthews has been talking about this for awhile now on his show (not Hardball), and had thought that Rudy would wait until closer to the primaries to make a serious move. The thinking was that Rudy would want to keep the social conservatives away as long as possible.

I don't mind Rudy right now. And I certainly would like to see him enter the fray for '08. The nastier that primary gets, the better. Interesting to see where the Bush/Rove/Fox News insiders go.

From the article:

Perhaps most interesting was Giuliani's appearance yesterday with embattled social conservative Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), who is facing a tough reelection fight against Democrat Bob Casey Jr. Giuliani, who has often been criticized by conservative Republicans for his liberal views on abortion, gay rights and gun control, didn't mind sharing the stage with one of the Republican Party's most conservative senators. Could it be that Giuliani is hoping to mitigate his social views by lending his enviable fundraising skills to conservative GOP candidates in need?

---

When will McCain/Rudy figure out that people like them a lot more when they aren't courting the crazy/kool-aid/Bush/Santorum crowd?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

On Gitmo



I will start things off with a link and quote from a story in today's Washington Post. Here's the lead from the article: As Congress opened hearings yesterday on the treatment of terrorism detainees, the Bush administration's view was neatly summarized by Steven Bradbury, the Justice Department lawyer serving as lead witness. "The president," Bradbury said, "is always right."

So it seems that we are heading down the path of giving the President exactly what he wants in Gitmo. Unfortunately for Republicans in Congress, it's not exactly clear what Bush wants. Between shutting it down/keeping it open/applying Geneva/not applying Geneva- there is plenty to be confused about.

For as long as I can remember, the administration has said that the detainees in Gitmo had no rights- however, two days ago they announced that Geneva would apply.

Now add this to the confusion:

The witnesses were even dismissive of the new Pentagon memo applying the Geneva Conventions to all detainees for the first time. "It doesn't indicate a shift in policy," Dell'Orto said.

And in a veiled warning, Bradbury told Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) that Bush still didn't need Congress. "The court did leave open the theoretical possibility that the president could come back on his own," he said.

It was an aggressive performance for an administration that wants Congress to create a new legal system to deal with the 1,000 terrorism suspects in custody. But administration officials are confident that the legislative branch will do the White House's bidding -- in part because lawmakers who oppose Bush's wishes can be accused of coddling terrorists.

---

If that's not disgusting, I don't know what is.

Maybe...




Lebanon didn't read their political cartoons?

Believe it or not...




It seems that Republicans can't quite agree on the renewal of the Voting Rights Act- first passed in 1965 and signed by President Johnson.

The southern conservatives (joined by a few of the Midwestern colleagues) have decided that they are insulted by the treatment the act gives states with a tradition of racism.

The following is one of the most ridiculous quotes I have seen by an elected official:

One of the conservatives supporting changes to the Voting Rights Act said GOP leaders were "playing politics" with a law that is unfairly targeting his home region because of its past — and failing to account for progress in racial relations.

"Do you think we treat Japan or Germany differently [because of World War II]?" asked Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia. "Do we treat the British any differently because of the Stamp Act? … If we're going to do that, then let's go back to the Indians and say they butchered Custer.

"If we want to rely on everything we do in government based on history, then we'd have a screwed-up place, if you ask me," Westmoreland added. "Because what they're saying is nobody can ever do better."

---

If that's not funny I don't know what is.

Here is a link to the must-read article in today's LA Times.

Well, I'm glad the Dems aren't the only party that can't get their act together. This one seems like a no-brainer though, doesn't it? I mean- shouldn't we just go ahead and renew the Voting Rights Act? Come on Fox News- get the troops in line.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Good new show




This is only nominally related to politics, but, if you missed Showtime's new show Brotherhood, well then you really missed out. The politics in the show is great, and I haven't quite made up my mind about the criminal storyline quite yet. You should check it out.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Time cover story:



Not that we needed confirmation, but Time magazine will report the end of the Bush Cowboy Doctrine.

Drudge has a little blurb up on his site:

In the span of four years, the Bush Administration has been forced to rethink the pre-emptive "Bush doctrine" by which it hoped to remake the world, as the strategy's ineffectiveness was exposed by the very policies it prescribed, TIME's Mike Allen and Romesh Ratnesar report in this weeks cover story on 'The End of Cowboy Diplomacy' on newsstands Monday, July 9th.

President George W. Bush came to office pledging to focus on domestic issues and pursue a "humble" foreign policy that would avoid the entanglements of the Bill Clinton years. After Sept. 11, however, the Bush team embarked on a different path, outlining a muscular, idealistic, and unilateralist vision of American power and how to use it, TIME reports. They aimed to lay the foundation for a grand strategy to fight Islamic terrorists and rogue states, by spreading democracy around the world and pre-empting gathering threats before they materialize. And the U.S. wasn't willing to wait for others to help. The approach fit with Bush's personal style, his self-professed proclivity to dispense with the nuances of geopolitics and go with his gut. "The Bush Doctrine is actually being defined by action, as opposed to by words," Bush told Tom Brokaw aboard Air Force One in 2003.

The swaggering Commander in Chief who embodied the doctrine's aspirations has modulated himself too. At a press conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair in May, Bush swore off the Wild West rhetoric of getting enemies "dead or alive," conceding, "in certain parts of the world, it was misinterpreted." Bush's response to the North Korean missile test was equally revealing. Under the old Bush Doctrine, defiance by a dictator like Kim Jong Il would have merited threats of punitive U.S. action-or at least a tongue lashing. Instead, the Administration has mainly been talking up multilateralism and downplaying Pyongyang's provocation. As much as anything, it's confirmation of what Princeton political scientist Gary J. Bass calls "doctrinal flameout." Put another way: cowboy diplomacy, RIP.

Google Maps tracks the Tour




Quick note:

Google Maps has a new feature that allows users to track the Tour de France stage by stage. Link to CNET article.

Seems like it would be fun to check out.

The Granite State



The Union-Leader's opinion page calls on New Hampshire's Democratic congressional candidates to defend the state's first-primary-in-the-nation status. Link.

The DNC is devising a (bad) plan to dilute the New Hampshire primary. The state obviously doesn't like the direction that things look to be headed, and is calling on candidates to protect the primary while the nation's political/pundit/journalist/Washington-insider eyes are focused on New Hampshire.

From the Article:

The Democratic National Committee is moving to diminish New Hampshire's influence in the Presidential nomination process. Its Rules and Bylaws Committee has voted to schedule one caucus immediately before and one primary immediately after New Hampshire's Presidential primary. This attempt to tilt the playing field in favor of big-money, insider candidates has the backing of DNC Chairman Howard Dean, of all people. It also has the backing of many Democratic Party activists, including widely read left-wing bloggers, supposedly the champions of the little guy.

Count this blog among those not in support of the DNC plan.
Biden's mouth

Biden's big, fat mouth




In the interest of full disclosure- I like Joe Biden. I like him a lot. But his recent comments in New Hampshire (see video above) were flat-out dumb.

Gannett News Services ran an article that sums up Biden's problem perfectly.Link.

From the article:

It wasn't the first time Biden has talked his way into trouble in New Hampshire, which holds the nation's first presidential primary. During his first presidential bid in 1987, he told one New Hampshire voter who questioned his law school grades that: "I think I probably have a much higher IQ than you do."

Friday, July 07, 2006

See what had happened was

Earlier post was a mispost. When I said "expect a market bounce" I meant "expect the market to flop around on the floor like a dead animal". Sorry.

Prolific

Matt's been posting prolifically. A quick blurb about the market before I deliver a larger post that I've been thinking about.

The stock market is a weird animal. Earlier I wrote a post about how the market is so concentrated on what the Fed is doing, that it's taking its cues from them. Well, I think I was right in that post, we haven't seen an extended stock market rally, because the market is still worried about what the Fed is going to do in August.

Well, today we may have a little bit of hope. It was just reported that we had a non-farm payroll increase in jobs of only 121,000. Now, a rational person would say "Oh man, we didn't expand the economy enough, so the market will go down." But the markets are a strange animal, because from that number I think they will infer a business slowdown, which means a slowdown in inflation, which means that the Fed will probably not increase rates at their August meeting, which will cause the market to pick up steam.

Suffice to say, I expect the market to get a bounce today, and given that other economic data agree, to continue through to the meeting in August.

I'll actually put up a post that matters later. I doubt anyone but a trader cares about this, but I like having my predictions on record.

-B. Hammond

A blind man could have seen it.




The Times (along with many other media outlets) reports that Microsoft is no longer content letting sony/sanyo/casio/anyone else compete with Apple's strangle hold on the portable music/digital technology market.

Apparently Microsoft is making a device of there own that will NOT require a computer. The article also suggests that the device will let users "tag" music from other people on the same network and listen to it without purchasing it. Interesting.

From the article:

Entertainment industry executives who were briefed on the Microsoft music and video player said this week that the device was equipped with a wireless Internet connection and an advanced display screen, and that the company planned to release it before the holiday season, along with an online store.

--

I am inclined to say that the player will probably break down/freeze/fail/generally suck like everything that runs on a Microsoft OS. But it might surprise everyone- and the competition will certainly motivate Jobs and Co.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Quick McCain note #2-

The Washington Times reports that Aggie/ultra conservative/ex-Senator Phil Gramm has been writing speeches for McCain recently. Link.

The article also says that top aides to Republicans (who are at odds with McCain on some social issues) say that the '08 nomination is "his to lose".

From the article:

Now, one of the most widely respected conservatives in the country says he is ready to help pull the McCain campaign bandwagon whenever the senator makes his 2008 Republican presidential run official.

"He is the only person I know who is running and capable of getting elected who is tough enough to do what needs to be done," says former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm, who has quietly been helping to write Mr. McCain's speeches. "He will veto spending bills and earmarks and stand up to the Social Security and Medicare challenges that will fall in the next president's lap with the baby boomer retirement."

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Didn't this guy used to be a maverick?

McCainiac



The Union Leader has some interesting tidbits regarding the goings on in New Hampshire politics, but how about this interesting little blurb about John McCain's (in)famous temper:

The first person quoted is none other than former New Hampshire Sen. Bob Smith, who says, “I have witnessed incidents where he has used profanity at colleagues and exploded at colleagues. He would disagree about something and then explode. It was incidents of irrational behavior. We’ve all had incidents where we have gotten angry, but I’ve never seen anyone act like that.”

Smith also says, “He has very few friends in the Senate.”
---

I go back and forth on McCain. He used to seem a lot more genuine then he does now. His closeness to the administration is politically understandable from a infastructure standpoint, but closesness to this administration is well beyond inexcusable on any level. McCain has a lot of making up to do if he wants to get back in the good graces of moderates (let alone liberals). This temper may not help.

Here's a link to that article.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Hillary to support the "Democratic nominee"



Democrats have a problem with Joe Lieberman and rightly so. His support of the administration has been almost totally consistent. And (the argument goes) not only shouldn't a Democrat support the way the war has been run/mishandled, but certainly a Democrat from Connecticut doesn't do that. It has now become clear the Lieberman has his hands full in the Democratic primary in August. He recently announced that should he fail to secure the Democratic nomination, he will run as an independent (in name only/still caucus with the Dems).

This announcement has the Reid/Schumer/Clinton machine going in many different directions. Liberman has close personal relationships with many of his colleagues (seems like a very likeable guy), but he's been a sub-par Senator/Democrat/representative of the state of Connecticut.

So as Ned Lamont, Liberman's Democratic opponent, picks up steam in the polls and the donor wars- Liberman's fellow Senators have faced an increasing amount of questions regarding their support for Liberman should he fail to secure the nomination.

Senator Clinton has come out swinging (with what I believe the correct stand on the issue). She hopes/secretly doesn't hope that Lieberman will be the nominee. However, if he should lose- she will support Ned Lamont for Senate. That seems to be about right.

From the article in the Post:

"I've known Joe Lieberman for more than 30 years. I have been pleased to support him in his campaign for reelection, and hope that he is our party's nominee," the former first lady said in a statement issued by aides.

"But I want to be clear that I will support the nominee chosen by Connecticut Democrats in their primary," Clinton added. "I believe in the Democratic Party, and I believe we must honor the decisions made by Democratic primary voters."

(vote Lamont!)