March 31, 2007

The Rich Races in the UAE

On this side of the Atlantic, the big horse race of the day was the Florida Derby, a key prep for the Kentucky Derby. Scat Daddy won that, and will try to follow in Barbaro's footsteps and follow a win in Florida with a win in Kentucky. But internationally today is best known for the Dubai World Cup, the richest horse race in the world, and several other top races run the same day in the UAE (like the UAE Derby, won by the Argentinian-bred Asiatic Boy, who "annihilated" the field). So who won the $6 million World Cup? Why Invasor of course. His wins, honors, and winnings just keep accumulating.

Invasor, who began his career in Uruguay, has now won 11 of 12 lifetime starts, including his last six consecutively. Saturday night's victory, worth $3.6 million, pushed the bay horse's earnings to $7,804,070. In taking Horse of the Year honors in the U.S. last year, he also won three three other grade I races besides the Breeders' Cup Classic. Last month, Invasor won the Donn Handicap (gr. I) in his tune-up for Saturday's effort.
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Drum Roll Please ... It's the US News Law School Rankings!

Is it wrong that these things matter? Probably. Do they matter? Yes.

Posted by armand at 11:25 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Tony Karon's "What's Iraq About Now?"

I found this piece by way of Yglesias, and it's quite good if you are looking for one brief post that hits the core points and problems with the war in Iraq in both 2003 and today.

Posted by armand at 10:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 30, 2007

Mazarr Brings Kingdon, Agenda Setting, Focusing Events and Policy Windows to the Decision to Go to War in Iraq

Since I was on vacation, I managed to catch up on my reading this week. That included 4 issues of The New Yorker and 2 issues of Foreign Policy Analysis. And the first article in the January issue of the latter is well worth your time if you are interested in that question I get asked all the time - "So Why Did We Go to War in Iraq?" And beyond that it's especially worth your time if you are interested in policy-making literature that brings together tools and approaches usually associated with American domestic politics (like Kingdon's) that can still inform our understanding of how the US state makes decisions in the realm of foreign policy. The article is "The Iraq War and Agenda Setting", by Michael J. Mazarr of the U.S. National War College.

Posted by armand at 02:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Egypt's Constitutional Reforms

Egypt slid even further away from democracy this week. One of the biggest recepients of US foreign aid has passed via national referendum a set of reforms that's been dubbed "a cancellation of the constitution". It appears that virtually no Egyptians actually went to the polls to vote for this, though the government has called the election a resounding success and has claimed that turnout was 27%.

Posted by armand at 01:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Final 4 Weekend

So it's come down to 4. I'm sure Binky will be pulling for Florida. Any of the rest of you have an outcome you want to see - or predict will happen? I'm pulling for Georgetown to beat UCLA in the final. Ah the wonders of bracket math - though I've got Georgetown beating Florida on my bracket, the only way I might still have a shot to win (on a tie-breaker) would be if the Hoyas beat the Bruins.

Posted by armand at 10:44 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Paralyzed by Pollen

That was a nice vacation in Savannah, but ...

I am someone who suffers from pollen. And while I was going to the land of cocktails, beaches, and Southern charm I also ended up stepping into the land of endless pollen. How bad was it? Well, I didn't have the news in front of me so I can't be sure. But apparently a reading of 120 pollen particles per cubic meter is considered extremely high in the Southeast. In Atlanta the reading on Monday (the day I arrived in Georgia) was 5,499. Needless to say, I was impaired by that all week long.

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March 29, 2007

The 2006 NIT Champion

It's WVU! The Mountaineers defeated Clemson, 78-73.

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Out of Town

Sorry for the light posting...all the members of the coup are out of town. One is returning from a few sunny days in Georgia, the other two are going to the rock show. Something resembling normal complaints about Bush should return in a few days.

Posted by baltar at 04:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 27, 2007

Why people think college professors are nuts

Not getting into the content of the crazy meltdown because plenty of other people are on it (here, here, here, and here, among others).

There is one thing that interests me though... what is Althouse doing with her eyes? Is she reading that rant?

Posted by binky at 02:38 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 26, 2007

"Child care linked to later behavior problems"

Not so much:

The researchers said that the increase in vocabulary and problem behaviors was small, and that parenting quality was a much more important predictor of child development.

But hey, that's not an exciting headline.

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President Bloomberg?

Did anyone else see this?

I guess we'll really find out if money can buy anything.

Posted by baltar at 10:31 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

March 25, 2007

Which Roman Emperor Are You?

I'm Hadrian, though I was almost Nerva. Not bad that - 2 of the 5 Good Emperors.

It's a long quiz, but for those of us who will soon be going into Rome withdrawal (the HBO series ends tonight), maybe it'll help take the edge off that blow.

Posted by armand at 04:55 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

March 24, 2007

Unsecured Munitions and US Casualties

So everyone's likely already seen this linked to at Kevin Drum's place, but in case not ...

Remember the president took us into war with too few troops to secure Iraq, and how the military left various sites around Iraq filled with dangerous munitions unguarded? Well, that has predictable had deadly effects - and the scope of those effects is horrifying. From the GAO:

The human, strategic, and financial costs of this failure to provide sufficient troops have been high, with IEDs made with looted munitions causing about half of all U.S. combat fatalities and casualties in Iraq and killing hundreds of Iraqis and contributing to increasing instability, challenging U.S. strategic goals in Iraq.
Posted by armand at 04:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Saturday Early AM Keeping Up with the Joneses

All the cool kids are doing it. And that means by the time I'm getting on the bandwagon, it's probably not cool anymore. Nevertheless, in preparation for the road trip to South Carolina next week:

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Holy Act of Congress


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March 23, 2007

Ooh! Don't you hate it when those Senators are paying attention!

Or their staff is, either way (emphasis mine):

In the runup to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in January, Gonzales' chief of staff Kyle Sampson lied to committee staff in order to convince them that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) "was wrong" to raise questions about the U.S. attorney firings.

The email was produced yesterday by Sen. Feinstein and demonstrates that the Justice Department did not turn over all documents relevant to the firings to Congress earlier this week, since the email was not among the 3000 pages.

Doh! And for the next phase of the scandal, Keystone Kops!

Posted by binky at 06:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

For Moon

Reasons to love lawyers:

Remember my previous post about an editorial in a student newspaper in Indiana that talked about how people should accept their gay friends when they came out of the closet? Believe it or not, the teacher who ran the student newspaper has now been suspended over it:

An Indiana high school journalism teacher has been suspended for two months after allowing an op-ed piece to run that advocates tolerance of gays.

Woodlan Junior-Senior High School teacher Amy Sorrell was placed on paid leave Monday while her job is under review, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

At least a reason to love the ones who are going to sue that school district into abject submission.

Posted by binky at 12:14 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 22, 2007

Just quote the President, why dontcha?

Somehow skimming over the disregard for the constitution, the false promises to actually produce subpoenas, and the lickspittle phone companies' rush to comply, my tired eyes hit and fixated upon the language used by AT&T t o defend their behavior.

[T]he FBI used the exigent letters in non-emergency situations and often failed to get subpoenas, the report said. In less than two years, the bureau sent out at least 739 exigent letters requesting information on around 3,000 different phone numbers.

So how did phone companies respond?

After all, AT&T and Verizon still have contracts with the FBI. They bureau pays them for their trouble in digging up data on customers. Here are some canned responses from an email from AT&T to Wired News and a Bloomberg story on Tuesday, respectively:

"ATT has a practice of complying in good faith with emergency requests from the FBI for information. We do that to help protect innocent life and prevent criminal or terrorist acts. We've always insisted any of these emergency requests be followed up by some sort of legal process, such as a subpoena, warrant or national security letter."
--Walt Sharp, AT&T spokesman

"Every day, Verizon's subpoena unit responds to emergency requests from federal, state and local law enforcement for particular calling records. After 9/11, of course Verizon responded to FBI emergency requests in terrorist matters, and we had every reason to believe they were legitimate emergency situations."
--Peter Thonis, Verizon spokesman

These responses are what we'd expect from big companies worried about their reputations. They deflect responsibility and play up corporate heroism. But they leave much to the imagination. We'd like to know how much the phone companies get paid for their terror fighting efforts. We'd like to know what evidence threshold the FBI must meet in the exigent letters.


Posted by binky at 11:44 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

"Dee-lee-shous leepy steecky"

OK, so my dog isn't white or fluffy, and my lip product brand was different, but what he did to it is pretty much the same as this.

I never knew lip goo was so tasty.

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Novak's Latest Partisan Hit Job on Valerie Plame

I don't know how I'd even begin to think about commenting on this. Why in the hell is crap like this published in major newspapers across the country (and not, sadly, in "the funnies")? And he writes an entire column (if you can call it that) on "was she covert?" without ever mentioning his own role and interests in these matters? I mean COME ON.

Of course the whole piece is a stunningly lame attempt at ass-covering. But his list of "questions" that should have been asked really takes the cake.

Was she not on an administrative, not operational, track at Langley? How could she be covert if, in public view, she drove to work each day at Langley? What about comments to me by then CIA spokesman Bill Harlow that Plame never would be given another foreign assignment? What about testimony to the FBI that her CIA employment was common knowledge in Washington?

Of course not a single one of those is relevant to her being covert. And, what? Novak's trying to argue that covert operatives shouldn't be allowed to drive or something? The man's a mendacious menace. Why he's still widely published is beyond me.

Posted by armand at 01:45 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Larry "Bud" Melman Is Dead

Calvert DeForest, that is.

But his eccentricities and the innocence he projected through the airways were real enough, and Letterman made the most of them, using Larry "Bud" Melman's combination of klutziness and guile to send up TV's insatiable thirst for content, whatever its form. It was a satirical experiment; Letterman was trying to see how little effort he could exert and still have the result be classified as entertainment.

And it was entertaining. More so than, say, an American Idol Results show.

Posted by armand at 10:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 20, 2007

Mutterings, links and what not

It's been light posting for me, due to midterm grading and prepping to take a group of students to Washington DC for a diplomatic simulation. I am remiss in not attending to my duties, especially having been tagged by the Stealthbadger to do the "Five Things" meme and Moon to deal with the nonsense about "hookup culture."

First, for the Stealthbadger, more stalling. And for Moon, I have Amanda and Ezra, as well as stalling.

There have been several pieces in recent weeks about the unconscionable treatment of women soldiers in Iraq. A summary from Feministing, the New York Times story it references (and some thoughtful commentary about the photo choices for that story), as well as this piece from Salon on the "private war" faced by women soldiers who not only can't rely on their "comrades in arms" but are forced to defend themselves daily from their enemies within the ranks.

Last but not least, another real winner for the bench... and he swears that the fact that he authored the "Human Life Protection Act" would have nothing to do with how he will make decisions. Uh-huh. Let's hope his confirmation process touches on that a little bit, eh?

However, in the meantime, today is the first day of the last year of my fourth decade (and yesterday was a similar celebratory day for Armand, the youngest member of the triumvirate). I'm taking the evening off.

Posted by binky at 06:43 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 19, 2007

1860 and the Consequences of the Electoral System

I tend to not care for the process by which we elect the president - to put it mildly. The electoral college is a trainwreck waiting to happen (again), and why peopole didn't push for reform of it after 2000 is one of the weirdest things in the last 10 years of politics. Well, that is until you consider the considerble level of apathy about politics in the country at large. Cokie and company whined for a week or two about how small states would object to the change, and any discussion of change ended then.

Anyway, I've long thought (yes, pre-2000) that given the good line we talk on democracy, one person one vote and such, that the national executive should be elected by the people, using direct election with an instant run-off mechanism. This doesn't mean I'd like the kind of candidate such a system would produce. But it seems the most fitting system given what Americans at large seem to believe about the way our system should work, and what the president should represent.

But like I said, just because that seems to be the best system given our national views about the way government should operate, that doesn't mean the result would often be something I (or the country) would love. Or, for that matter, expect. An example of the unexpected? I was reading through a comments thread at Matthew Yglesias' place and was reminded that Stephen Douglas (who would have likely won the presidency in 1860 under a system in which the president was selected by the median national voter) died 3 months after Lincoln took office. So if Douglas had instead been inaugurated in 1861, he would have been quickly succeeded by his Vice President, former Georgia Governor and Senator Herschel Vespasian Johnson. My, how history would have been different. Not least by having "Vespasian" enter the list of famous US political names.

Posted by armand at 10:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Absolute Power to Declassify

Emptywheel has an interesting post up on testimony by Knodell and Leonard before Rep. Waxman's committee. What stood out to me was that the White House believes the president has complete power to declassify information at a moment's notice in order to provide it to friendly media, while at the same time keeping the information otherwise classified. This isn't shocking to me, but still troubling to hear said outloud.

Hodes: Assuming that to be the case, is it your testimony that the President could choose to selectively declassify the National Intelligence Estimate and give directions that it could be used with three reporters but then still retain, and that document is still classified?

Waxman: The gentleman's time is expired, but we do want an answer.

Leonard: Sir, it’'smy testimony that it’s the President's absolute authority when it comes to the classification and declassification of information.

But what she picked up on, and it is indeed a quite interesting catch, is that in this White House that power extends to the Vice President (or so it appears). Consider this exchange involving Rep. Tom Davis (R-CA):

Davis: Mr. Leonard, let me ask. Does the President or the Vice President have the authority to declassify on the spot?

Leonard: As I mentioned earlier, Mr. Davis, the President’s authority in this area is absolute, pursuant to the Constitution, ...

Davis: So they can do it on the spot. Can they declassify for limited purposes?

Leonard: Absolute is absolute.

Curious game Davis and Leonard are playing at this point. Davis is clearly asking about the President and the Vice President. Yet Leonard is answering solely in reference to the President. (Perhaps, as a civil servant, he has forgotten that Cheney isn't really the President???) In any case, I'm struck by the way that Davis knew that this wasn't a question of just Presidential insta-declassification. Indeed, he came prepared to get Leonard to confim, kind of, that Bush's "absolute" powers extend to Cheney as well.

Posted by armand at 01:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Iran and Political Freedom

They might be nasty in many ways, but Ezra's got a good point about the Iranian regime. As messed up as it is, it still has room for more political dissent than a lot of our allies allow.

For all the talk of Iran's autocratic tyrants, here you have the president being burned in effigy, interrupted by firecrackers, and condemned to death, all while he's giving a speech. And he does nothing more than "smilie tightly" throughout it! In this country, if an activist exposes an anti-war t-shirt while the president is talking, she gets muscled out of the room.
Posted by armand at 12:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The 8th Circuit Rules on Insurance Coverage for Contraception

And seems to get it jaw-droppingly wrong.

I'll admit to not having read the opinions in this case, but great googly-moogly this sounds pretty open and shut if this analysis by Ann Friedman is accurate.

The female employees and Planned Parenthood (which joined the suit) alleged that failure to cover contraception is discrimination under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The language in the law says it applies to "women affected by pregnancy," not "pregnant women." They argued that every sexually active woman who is capable of becoming pregnant is a woman "affected by pregnancy." (I completely agree.) But the appellate judges rejected the argument on the basis that the PDA does not specifically mention contraception. How hard is it for judges to understand that 1) contraception is a basic, fundamental part of women's preventive and routine health care, 2) pregnancy -- which is the result of lack of contraception use -- disproportionately affects female employees, so 3) failure to cover contraception is discrimination against women? Seems clear as day to me.
Posted by armand at 10:08 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Presidential Candidates and Their Pets

Normally I'd file this kind of thing under the sort of pointless fluff pieces that deluge the national media during presidential campaigns, and in their own way encourage people to vote for president on matters entirely unrelated to their qualifications, or fitness to serve in the office.

Normally I'd say that. But after actually looking at the list I honestly wonder what's up with John McCain. Is he just this enormous animal lover and somehow that's escaped mention in the million profiles of him I've seen written in the last 8 years? Turtles, parakeets, a ferret and more! And if you like animals that much - does it say something about your personality that'll affect the way you govern? Maybe this list isn't as pointless as I thought. Though is the US ready for a turtle person in the White House?

Posted by armand at 09:50 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Spinning the Big Lie on "Covert"

Larry Johnson has a few things to say about the spinning going on about Plame's status.

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March 17, 2007

National Corn Dog Day

Today is national Corn Dog Day, and the three of us just celebrated it by scarfing corndogs, tater tots, and beer, at a party hosted by AWDog (note that there are 114 sites in 31 states, the District of Columbia, and international locations), our friend and one of the founders of this great event.

We are the picture of digestive health, let me tell you.

Go on over to the CornBlog to check out the consumption count, and how to make the perfect deep fried corn dog. Mmm mmm good!

And don't miss the annual commemorative posters.

Now, I'm off to take a nap.


Posted by binky at 04:10 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

McCain and Contraception - "Get Me Coburn's Thing"

In case you were still considering voting for John McCain, maybe this will put a stop to you considering such a thing. D-i-s-t-u-r-b-i-n-g. The groveling before the president and his (ineffective) policies. The painful unwillingness to say what he actually thinks (or, basically, to say anything). And he's seemingly turning to Sen. Coburn for expert advice?!? Crikey.

Posted by armand at 09:44 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 16, 2007


When it comes to this bit of popular cinema I have 6 words - Baltar should not see this movie. He'd have a stroke, and/or start frothing at the mouth.

You want more of a review than that? Eh, it does look pretty damn cool, especially the first hour or so. That is, until you just can't block out the dialogue, "plot", and ridiculousness any more. But while you can, it looks damn cool.

Posted by armand at 10:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Friday Evening Quiz

Would you like some wine with your cheese?

Yes, I went ten for ten.

Cheesy Rock Ballads Quiz No. 1

Score: 100% (10 out of 10)

Hat tip to mister ed.

Posted by binky at 06:17 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

The Conformist

So one of the Netflix discs I watched this week was so-so at best. The first disc of season 9 of South Park includes Best Friends Forever, and that's a pretty great episode - the Schiavo stuff, the Last Starfighter-ish PSP, utilizing the BFF concept - but I'm not a big fan of any of the other four episodes included on that disc. And the season premiere, Mr. Garrison's Fancy New Vagina, is one of the worst episodes in the entie run of the series.

However, while the offerings of Parker and Stone were rather disappointing, the same can't be said of Bertolucci and Storaro's The Conformist (1970). Wow. Structurally it could have been made yesterday. The intercutting of the different time periods works well in this tale of a Fascists desperate desire to be a normal member of society, and I imagine it was rather unusual for the time (and influential). But of course what really makes the film stand apart from so many others is the way it looks. It's beautiful, and the way it's shot launched Storaro's celebrated career as a cinematographer (he won Oscars for Apocalyse Now, Reds, and The Last Emperor). The lighting concepts and the colors ... the colors! ... and the use on Italian 1930's architecture, it's a great-looking film. I wouldn't say I loved it or will watch it over and over - but it definitely held my interest throughout, and is very well made.

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Ghosts from Armand's Past Promoted Within the Dept. of State

Interesting - I took Intro to International Relations from this guy.

Posted by armand at 03:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Who Could Replace Gonzalez?

Marshall's right - the president's likely never needed a friendlier AG than right now, but will it be politically possible to replace Gonzalez (when he eventually resigns) with such a person? And who else could he name? We know Bush loves his in-group of loyalists, but given that so many of them are implicated in scandals at the moment ...

I guess he could look beyond Gonzalez at Justice and pull in the solicitor general, or maybe one of his judicial nominees (Peter Keisler?). Given the support he's going to need in Congress it might be a good time to make nice with the congressional Republicans and name someone like Sen. John Cornyn (a former AG in Texas) or Rep. Dan Lungren (a former AG in California) - but would a senator want to give up his post to serve for a year and a half at the end of a scandal-tarred administration? It'll be a revealing choice, whoever it turns out to be.

Posted by armand at 01:43 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 15, 2007

How about a nice tasty little side to go with your main course of AG scandal?

The information coming to light on the attorney firings brings up questions raised during the Abramoff investigations, namely, was the Bush administration deliberately using non-government communications pathways to conduct shady business? (emphasis mine)

One email, sent to Justice Department Chief of Staff D. Kyle Sampson from J. Scott Jennings, White House Deputy Political Director, uses an email account,, on a server owned by the Republican National Committee. This raises serious questions about whether the White House was trying to deliberately evade its responsibilities under the PRA, which directs the president to take all necessary steps to maintain presidential records to provide a full accounting of all activities during his tenure.

A number of other emails from Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove's former assistant Susan Ralston to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff document Ms. Ralston's use of three outside domains: (used for the headquarters of the Republican National Committee), and In many of these emails Ms. Ralston is communicating inside White House information to Mr. Abramoff in response to Mr. Abramoff's efforts to broker deals for his clients and place specified individuals in positions within the administration.


Posted by binky at 08:29 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

If This Is True, Gonzalez is Toast.

Via TPM, the National Journal is reporting that Gonzalez asked Bush to end an internal Justice Department probe that was focusing on his own actions:

Shortly before Attorney General Alberto Gonzales advised President Bush last year on whether to shut down a Justice Department inquiry regarding the administration's warrantless domestic eavesdropping program, Gonzales learned that his own conduct would likely be a focus of the investigation, according to government records and interviews.

Bush personally intervened to sideline the Justice Department probe in April 2006 by taking the unusual step of denying investigators the security clearances necessary for their work.

If this is true (that's a big if: this is the National Journal, which isn't what I would call a wonderful source), then Gonzalez should resign. He should consider himself lucky if he isn't prosecuted.

Posted by baltar at 12:51 PM | Comments (28) | TrackBack

Round 1 of the NIT

And then there were 16. Say what you will about the NIT, but the seeding of it seems to be done prettty well. In the first 16 games the higher seed won 13. As to those other 3, it appears that 3 "bubble" teams that were bitter about being left out of the NCAAs didn't have so much to be bitter about. Yes I'm looking at you Oklahoma State (beaten by Marist), Drexel (beaten by NC State) and Missouri St. (beaten by San Diego St.).

Next up for WVU? We play U Mass tonight.

Posted by armand at 09:50 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 14, 2007

The Kagans as the Munsters

Attaturk is funny. The situation is not.

Posted by armand at 03:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Rudy G. - America's Mayor? As If. New Yorkers Prefer Bloomberg

From the files of the quite predictable - actual New Yorkers (those who actually had to deal with them) think Michael Bloomberg has been a better mayor than Rudy Giuliani was. And that's by a wide margin - Bloomberg leads Giuliani on that question in every borough, in every racial group - heck Bloomberg even leads Giuliani among Republicans.

New Yorkers would also rather see Bloomberg as president. On that question Republican New Yorkers would rather see Giuliani serving at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave - but in terms of New Yorkers as a whole, they'd rather see Bloomberg in the White House, by a margin of 46-31.

Posted by armand at 08:28 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 13, 2007

A Visual Explanation For American Foreign Policy

Via YouTube, an explanation for America's Iraq policy in about four and a half minutes.

Very close to accurate.

Posted by baltar at 09:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Lytle on the Film Adaptation of 300

The reviews mocking its history are coming so fast and furious that I'm increasingly wanting to see this thing. Ephraim Ltyle's discussion of its historical inaccuracies is interesting - and almost Baltarian in its cutting analysis.

Elected annually, the five Ephors were Sparta's highest officials, their powers checking those of the dual kings. There is no evidence they opposed Leonidas' campaign, despite 300's subplot of Leonidas pursuing an illegal war to serve a higher good. For adolescents ready to graduate from the graphic novel to Ayn Rand, or vice-versa, the historical Leonidas would never suffice. They require a superman. And in the interests of portentous contrasts between good and evil, 300's Ephors are not only lecherous and corrupt, but also geriatric lepers.
Posted by armand at 06:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 12, 2007

Oh, Those Kinky Israelis!

Via a lurking reader, we get this classic BBC headline: Israel Recalls "Naked Ambassador":

Israel has recalled its ambassador to El Salvador after he was found drunk and naked apart from bondage gear.

Reports say he was able to identify himself to police only after a rubber ball had been removed from his mouth.

A foreign ministry official described Ambassador Tzuriel Refael's behaviour as an unprecedented embarrassment.


Haaretz website reports that police found Mr Refael in the Israeli embassy compound where he had been found bound, gagged and naked apart from sado-masochistic sex accessories.

I have several independent one-liners:

1. It is rare that the word "unprecedented" is used accurately.

2. Ah, but what did Israel get out of the negotiations?

3. Now THAT'S foreign service.

4. Is this an example of Realism or Liberalism? (That's an IR politics joke.)

5. What were the police doing in the Israeli embassy?

6. Did he have assistance, or was this a solo mission?

Posted by baltar at 01:37 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Remembering a Hostage Taking in DC, 30 Years Later

The things you learn about where you've lived. I don't think I'd ever heard of this before today.

For 39 hours in March 1977 -- before the word "terrorism" entered our daily vocabulary -- 12 gunmen paralyzed the District in a three-point siege. The group of Hanafi Muslims held about 150 people hostage in three buildings, and before they surrendered, a young reporter was killed and dozens were injured, including D.C. Council member Barry. A shotgun pellet pierced his chest, right above his heart, nearly killing him ...

This morning, many who remember those three days and others who simply recognize their significance will gather in the Wilson Building's fifth-floor press room. They will unveil two plaques and dedicate the room to Maurice Williams, the WHUR-FM radio reporter who was shot as he stepped off an elevator in the District Building, the name of the city government's headquarters at the time.

The building was one of the three places targeted in the siege, along with the B'nai B'rith International Center, at the time on Rhode Island Avenue NW, and the Islamic Center, on Massachusetts Avenue NW.

Though that crack about terrorism being unknown in the 1970's - yeesh. Will reporters stop writing such nonsense? Please?

Posted by armand at 12:40 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Things Going Wrong In Iraq, Part 5,498,560.

If you didn't see Sunday's WaPo story on bureaucratic infighting, you should.

Long story short: DC based bureaucrats try to remake Iraq into their (ideological) image. Iraqis ignore silly Americans, continue to duck mortar shells.

As I noted before, my outrage meter has no more room to rise.

Posted by baltar at 11:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

If You Were Teaching American Foreign Relations Next Fall ...

Are there any readings (anything from Cambridge books to blog posts) that you'd definitely assign? Are there any particularly revealing cases that you would work off of?

Posted by armand at 11:18 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Gotta punish them illegal immigrants

...err, save money.

Posted by binky at 12:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 11, 2007

WVU Doesn't Make It

To the surprise of probably no one, the WVU Mountaineers will not be playing in the NCAA tournament this year. To the surprise of some, neither will Syracuse. There will only be 6 Big East teams in the tournament.

Posted by armand at 07:17 PM | Comments (21) | TrackBack

Ai yi, ai yi, have you ever danced in the tropics?

Os gringos se afinvam na folia.


Posted by binky at 07:03 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Are Targeted Sanctions Working in Zimbabwe?

Quite possibly, yes. That's great news.

Posted by armand at 12:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Maybe It Won't Be Sarko vs. Sego After All

The center-right's Francois Bayrou continues to inch up in the public opinion polls, and he's now tied Socialist candidate Segolene Royal for 2nd place. Given that polls have shown Bayrou could defeat either Royal or front-runner Nicolas Sarkozy in a run-off, the presidential race is very much up for grabs.

One interesting turn is that Ms. Royal is not doing particularly well with women voters. Sarkozy is leading with that (largest) set of the electorate. And as an example of that, he recently picked up the support of the famed Simone Veil.

Posted by armand at 10:54 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 10, 2007

This Is The Best Protest Picture I've Seen In Years

Click the photo for more.

Posted by binky at 06:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Darth McCain

Jonathan Chait:

He began as a crusader for justice. Soon he realized that he needed to acquire more power in order to accomplish his noble goals. But over time, his pursuit of power became the goal itself, and by the end he lost his capacity to differentiate between right and wrong. This is not Luke Skywalker here. This is Luke Skywalker's father. But at least Darth Vader attained his position before the Death Star exploded.
Posted by armand at 03:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BtVS Turns 10

Is it a holy day? Sure, I'll buy that.

Posted by armand at 11:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 09, 2007

Good for Kroger

Of course, it would be nicer if they would just make the pharmacists do their job, since their objections aren't based on facts, but "make accommodations to have that prescription filled" is good too.

Posted by binky at 09:33 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Ah, Yes, Trusting The Government Is Always The Right Thing To Do (Part 2,494)

Via the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The FBI underreported how often it used the USA Patriot Act to force businesses to turn over customer information in suspected terrorism cases, according to a Justice Department audit.


Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine's report says the number of letters was underreported by 20 percent, according to the officials.

Fine conducted the audit as required by Congress and over the objections of the Bush administration.

Yes, that's right, the FBI was using an unobservable technique (National Security Letters do not have to be requested from a court, as do warrants), and didn't even keep track of how many they sent out. Lovely. Just lovely.

Oh, and read that last paragraph again: this administration opposed the Congressionally-mandated audit (big surprise). My scandal-meter has been pegged in the red for so long I can't really work up much outrage over this. Just par for the course, really.

Posted by baltar at 09:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Abuse of Power

Or, when mods go bad.

At first it seems like a funny joke. Ha ha. Maybe a little passive aggressive trolling. The cool kids picking on the drama club.

And then it gets mean. And it probably doesn't feel funny anymore, but you have to laugh louder to your cronies to cover up that sick feeling inside that tells you you're acting like an asshole.

If you're lucky that is. Since the alternative is that you don't feel anything, and that's even more sad and pathetic than being a bully striking out because now you can when you couldn't before, demeaning people to make you feel big because even with your newfound success you still feel small. At least a bully feels fear, and maybe anger or guilt. Something.

Trying to feel like someone.

Sad, really.

And sad that as you try and try to cover your tracks, it becomes more and more obvious what is going on. And as you feel smaller and smaller, you act more and more recklessly.

And in the mean time, everyone else is seeing what you suspect. Your crony bragged about being part of the cool kids club, about picking on the poindexters, to try to prove to everyone else that cool kids are above everyone else, and that the kinda cool kids, well, they are cool because they have access to the really cool kids. And they don't really believe they are cool themselves. Otherwise they wouldn't have to brag, or threaten, or delete, or ban.

Too bad the kinda cool kids forget what this attitude shows... that they themselves are empty.

And we all know it.

Posted by binky at 01:21 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 08, 2007

I Can't Possibly Add Anything Beyond This Headline

Gingrich Had Affair During Clinton Probe.

Posted by baltar at 10:35 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Potty Parity

It's blog against sexism day, and I was thinking about the idea of critical mass and various professions. Even though we've been talking about law, and obviously I've written about academia, what I thought of was the profession of my eldest sister, who started in architecture at a time when women were a tiny fraction of the professional population.

There's an interesting intersection of women's professional advancement, women's health, and naturally, an incredibly stupid label: potty parity. Before women were significantly involved in planning, building and construction, architects didn't think about the particular health, accessibility, and other concerns of women when planning toilets. Potty parity argues that ignoring those needs, especially for pregnant women, not only is an inconvenience, but discriminatory especially towards women's health.

Kathryn Anthony has written an article (among a large body of work) about "potty parity," and why it's an important issue. Unfortunately, it's behind a subscription wall (and of course, our university doesn't pay into that journal). However, here is a brief summary of why this is an important issue:

Potty parity refers to equal speed of access to public restrooms for men and women. The absence of potty parity, a classic problem around the US and around the world, results in long lines for ladies' rooms but not for men's. This disparity mirrors the power structure reflected in the planning and design of restrooms that privileges men over women. Historically, architects, contractors, engineers, and building code officials rarely contacted women to learn about their special restroom needs. Only recently have women begun to be employed in these male-dominated professions and able to affect change. ... A significant number of females at most public places will be actively menstruating or pregnant, and waiting could lead to medical and health complications. Pregnant women feel an increased need to urinate and many suffer health consequences if they are forced to hold their urine.

According to the piece, potty parity laws have been on the rise since 1974 in the US, when the California Secretary of State publicized the issue by smashing a toilet on the state house steps. These laws call for increasing the ratio of men's to women's toilets to at least 1:1, up from earlier examples where there were 40% more facilities for men than women.

Thus, on blog against sexism day, let us champion the benefits of eliminating sexism in architecture and planning, and the benefits to women's health from potty parity.

Posted by binky at 02:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 07, 2007

I Studied All Night Long

Aspazia has a little something to warm the cockles of your midterm-grading heart.

Posted by binky at 05:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Catfight at One First Street!?!

I can't be talking about one among the justices as there aren't two women on the Court any more, so I must be referring to a clash between two titans of reporting on the Court - Linda Greenhouse and Jan Crawford Greenburg. And where would we be without David Lat to delve into the snarky details, and tell us what's written between the lines?

"You can speculate all you want in that pretty little head of yours. But THIS is what we call reporting, dearie. Try it sometime -- you might like it."

Score one for Greenhouse.

Posted by armand at 01:33 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

So Let Me Get This Straight

You don't want posters to be identified so their employers can pull up bad information on them (and it wouldn't be as much fun...:

Cohen said he no longer keeps identifying information on users because he does not want to encourage lawsuits and drive traffic away. Asked why posters could not use their real names, he said, "People would not have as much fun, frankly, if they had to worry about employers pulling up information on them."

But you don't care if those posters publish information that causes other people to have (untrue) bad information pulled up by employers (which is somehow fun for them?)...

She graduated Phi Beta Kappa, has published in top legal journals and completed internships at leading institutions in her field. So when the Yale law student interviewed with 16 firms for a job this summer, she was concerned that she had only four call-backs. She was stunned when she had zero offers.


"I definitely don't agree with a lot of the conduct on the board," Ciolli said in an interview. But, he said, only Cohen, who created the message board, has authority to have the comments removed. Cohen, in a separate interview, said he will not "selectively remove" offensive comments, and that when he has attempted to do so, he was threatened with litigation for "perceived inconsistencies."

Oh, and she was asking for it...

The two men said that some of the women who complain of being ridiculed on AutoAdmit invite attention by, for example, posting their photographs on other social networking sites, such as Facebook or MySpace.


"I didn't understand what I'd done to deserve it," said the student. "I also felt kind of scared because it was someone in my community who was threatening physical and sexual violence and I didn't know who."


Another Yale law student learned a month ago that her photographs were posted in an AutoAdmit chat that included her name and graphic discussion about her breasts. She was also featured in a separate contest site -- with links posted on AutoAdmit chats -- to select the "hottest" female law student at "Top 14" law schools, which nearly crashed because of heavy traffic. Eventually her photos and comments about her and other contestants were posted on more than a dozen chat threads, many of which were accessible through Google searches.

"I felt completely objectified," that woman said. It was, she said, "as if they're stealing part of my character from me." The woman, a Fulbright scholar who graduated summa cum laude, said she now fears going to the gym because people on the site encouraged classmates to take cellphone pictures of her.

And, on whether or not this behavior is ethical or moral:

In another comment, a user said a particular woman had no right to ask that the threads be removed. "If we want to objectify, criticize and [expletive] on [expletive] like her, we should be able to."

In another posting, a participant rejected the idea that photos be removed on moral grounds: "We're lawyers and lawyers-in-training, dude. Of course we follow the law, not morals."

So, let's summarize, shall we?

Stupid (yes, stupid) asshats suffering from a bad case of entitlement think it's funny to ruin other people's careers, threaten rape on the internet, and malign their own profession through their behavior yet are shocked SHOCKED that their targets are angry and stand up for themselves by calling for the slander and threats to end.

It's no wonder people hate lawyers.

Posted by binky at 12:54 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

The Most Hated Dukie

I strongly disagree with this. Sure, hating Laettner has been the norm for almost 20 years, but to me Bobby Hurley always seemed the more worthy of intense loathing. And if not Hurley, Coach K himself.

Posted by armand at 12:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Most Slippery Day of the Year

Not only did I arrive at the office today looking like I'd just spent 5 months in a 1960's freezer, I lost track of how many times I almost fell down, and I don't think I've ever seen cars downtown move slower. So if you are out and about today, but very careful.

Posted by armand at 10:03 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 06, 2007

I don't think Pat Robertson is going to like this

Nope. Not one bit.

Posted by binky at 07:50 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


Avast! Esmerelda the Burly Wench comes through again!

A Pirate Raider
You scored 4 Honor, 5 Justice, 7 Adventure, and 7 Individuality!
More than just the usual swabbie, you demand not only the life at sea, free from landlubbers and their rules, but also you require adventure and excitement. You're happiest when the guns are blazing, the risk high, the outcome uncertain, but the chance for reward substansial. Your kind are welcomed as allies and feared as enemies.

Put on your wooden leg and hook. You'll do just fine!

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Ninjinuity
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Knightlyness
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Cowboiosity
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Piratical Bent
Link: The Cowboy-Ninja-Pirate-Knight Test written by fluffy71 on OkCupid, home of the The Dating Persona Test

See how I kick ass on cowboyosity, ninjaness and piratical nature! And knightly too! I'm guessing not so many thirty-something chicks are taking this test.

Another one stolen from liberated, me hearties, from PZ.

Posted by binky at 06:40 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


Who knew?


Posted by binky at 06:28 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

A Climate Change Post (without comment, really, because of The Persisting Pestilence)

Yep! Gotta keep an eye on those scientists. Collecting data is so left-wing. Meeting in San Francisco. Suggesting further study is warranted and important! Harumph!

"We've found that there are substantial subglacial lakes under ice that's moving a couple of metres per day. It's really ripping along. It's the fast-moving ice that determines how the ice sheet responds to climate change on a short timescale," said Robert Bindschadler, a Nasa scientist at the Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland, one of the study's co-authors.

"We aren't yet able to predict what these ice streams are going to do. We're still learning about the controlling processes. Water is critical, because it's essentially the grease on the wheel. But we don't know the details yet," Dr Bindschadler said. "Until now, we've had just a few glimpses into what's going on down there. This is the most complete picture to date about what's going on," he said.

The findings, to be published in the journal Science, came from satellite surveillance of the surface elevation of the ice sheets, which found that they rise or lower depending on the amount of water flowing between the base of the ice sheet and the rock beneath.

The scientists identified many regions of the ice sheet either rose or deflated between 2003 and 2006 as a result of water movements below. Water would be capable of this because it is highly pressurised under the weight of the overlying ice, they said.

Glaciologists have known for some time that water exists under the Antarctic ice sheets - which can be hundreds of metres thick - but they were surprised to find how much water is involved and the speed at which it moves from one subglacial reservoir to another, said Helen Fricker at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego.

"We didn't realise that the water under these ice streams was moving in such large quantities, and on such short time scales. We thought these changes took place over years and decades, but we are seeing large changes over months. The detected motions are astonishing in magnitude, dynamic nature and spatial extent," Dr Fricker said.

The West Antarctic ice sheet is the second biggest on the continent, and the rate at which ice flows from it to the Ross ice shelf, and then ultimately into the sea, is critical in assessing the likely impact of climate change on global sea levels.

The study provides evidence that subglacial water is stored in a linked system of reservoirs underneath the ice and can move quickly into and out of those reservoirs. This activity may play a major role in controlling the rate at which ice moves off the continent, Dr Fricker said.

"The links between ice stream activity and the climate are not well understood. To predict how the ice sheets might respond to global warming, this new information is vital as it gives us a more complete picture of what is happening under the ice," she said.

Bring on the trolls to put words in my mouth!


Posted by binky at 05:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 05, 2007

Random Music Rambles for the 6th of March

I sure do like Helio Sequence. Maybe that contributed to me liking Stranger Than Fiction (I spotted a poster for a Rogue Wave/Helio Sequence show posted in Maggie G.'s bakery). Well, I liked that movie regardless - but that was a nice touch. And while everyone knows I like Belle and Sebastian too, I'd forgotten just how good that song "String Bean Jean" is. I hadn't listened to it ages, and ... well don't you love rediscovering old songs?

Posted by armand at 03:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Regional Strength - Another Reason to Support Obama?

I realize this is from a poll of Democratic partisans, not the country at large, but since the bulk of the "swing states" are in the Midwest, might it not make sense to nominate for the president the candidate who is most popular in that region (Obama) and not the candidate who's most popular in the rather uncompetitive Northeast and South (Clinton)?

Posted by armand at 10:47 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Running With Scissors, The Three Little Bops

So my latest Netflix rentals were Running With Scissors and The Looney Tunes Collection, Volume 2 Disc 4. I rented the first because I'd liked the opening of the memoir on which it was based (the book as a whole, not so much, but the first section is really funny albeit in a disturbing way) and I rented the latter because I wanted to watch "What's Opera, Doc?" again.

The Chuck Jones classic did not disappoint. It remains brilliant. Brilliant! Most of the rest of the cartoons didn't really grab me though (except to marvel at the level of racism). But there was one exception, a Freleng piece from 1957 called "The Three Little Bops". That one is marvelous - it's the Three Little Pigs as jazz musicians, and the wolf desperately wants to join the band but is too poor a trumpeter. It's not at all like most of the Warner Brothers cartoons of the era - the music is different (they brought in a jazz combo), Mel Blanc doesn't do the voices, the stylization in the design is unusual - but while it might be unusual, it's also extremely well done and quite entertaining.

Can't say the same about the film adaptation of Running With Scissors. It's painfully predictable and obvious while at the same time being hopelessly and tiresomely melodramatic. And sometimes it falls into both categories, as in that awful montage shown while you hear "Year of the Cat". Now there is some terrific talent in this film, and some fun design notes - so sure, parts of it I liked. But on the whole it didn't feel to me like it really captured the whimsy present in parts of the book, parts simply looked wrong (everyone was suspiciously clean given how filthy the house was; why were Augusten and Neil clothed when lying in bed?; etc.), and some of the acting ... ugh. Sure I had a problem with how believeable the lead was in a few scenes, and hated the way Joe Fiennes was directed, but of course the biggest problem was with the The Bening. I mean I love overacting and scenery chewing - hey, I'm a fan of the first season of Popular after all. Mary Cherry rules! But apparently there's a limit that can be crossed, even for me. And she crossed it. Though perhaps that stems, somewhat, from reading the book and she was not how I saw Deirdre in the book. Anyway, on the whole, it gets a thumbs down from me.

Posted by armand at 10:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 04, 2007

My favorite part...

...of the whole CPAC dustup comes from Bolton's biggest fan:

Now look, it may have been a poor choice of words but further my investigation reveals John Edwards' campaign has a mostly gay staff and rumors about his sexuality are rife. Just for knowing.

The fact is if there is any true to these rumors, that perhaps Edwards is gay, shouldn't we know that? Shouldn't we know if this man is deceiving his wife, children, country and living a lie? Shouldn't we know if a man that represents the party that celebrates gay rights is so ashamed of it, he lives a ginormous lie? Regardless of your position on gay marriage, regardless of whether you celebrate or merely tolerate the gay lifestyle, we ought to know if John Edwards is a liar and a hypocrite.


Posted by binky at 10:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Why Support Gay Marriage? It's the Economy Stupid

Cameron Scott has compiled this list of data on the economic benefits that would stem from legalizing gay marriage.

Posted by armand at 08:12 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The CPAC Straw Poll Results

The results of the straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference are in. Romney came in first with 21% and was followed by Giuliani, Brownback, Gingrich (who of course may not be running) and McCain. As for what any of that might mean - well, feel discuss it at your leisure.

Posted by armand at 11:14 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


My head feels like it's full of wet cotton.

Anyone got a plunger?

Posted by binky at 11:03 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Justice Breyer's Opinion in Philip Morris

Vikram David Amar discusses Supreme Court decision making, and specifically Justice Breyer's approach to Philip Morris, here. What is it with swing justices?

Posted by armand at 09:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 03, 2007


It definitely gets a "thumbs up" from this viewer. It has been described as a police procedural and that is very much what it is, even if sometimes the investigation isn't being conducted by the police. It's beautifully put together. Fincher's done an excellent job in directing this. I really liked the art direction a lot. And then of course there is the terrific cast - and they are just that. The movie's assembled some very fine actors (like Philip Baker Hall, Elias Koteas in what are fairly small roles (but then most of the roles are small, given that the cast is huge), and of course all the leads are great. Robert Downey Jr. is definitely my favorite, but the others do very nice work too. And Brian Cox is extremely funny as Melvin Belli. Love him. Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't compliment James Vanderbilt's screenplay - so there, I just did. It is a remarkable piece of work. Put it all together and you have a tense, compeling tale.

Posted by armand at 11:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A Princess is Born and Thousands Are Pardoned

Yeah they do things differently in other parts of the world. I really don't think President Bush would feel the urge to pardon several thousand people and commute the sentences of over twenty-four thousand more if Laura gave birth to another Bush daughter. But apparently things are different in Morocco.

Posted by armand at 05:41 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

A Draw Your Own Conclusions Link Post

Foreclosures rising on risky loans.

An old post of mine commenting on how housing sales partially masked declining income in the United States.

Wage growth slows, particularly for workers at lower pay levels.

Severe poverty hits 32 year high in the United States. Hmmm, the last one was 1975...

An illustration, via Bob Geiger (it's the second one).

Posted by binky at 11:18 AM | Comments (18) | TrackBack


If you're like me, watching the President tour tornado-ravaged areas and promise "I'll do my very best to comfort them," that doesn't fill you with certainty that the disaster relief will be well-managed. Instead, it reminds me again how the administration took one of the most effective and well-managed government agencies, FEMA, and drove it into the ground, wasting taxpayer dollars and leaving the citizens of the Gulf Coast out in the cold.

Tim F. of Balloon-Juice is similarly reminded by the Walter Reed scandal, another institution that like FEMA was turned into a model of good management under the Clinton administration, only to be neglected and dismantled in the last few years. That the country would come to need both of these, and that they would fail so spectacularly, is evidence for solid management practices. Tim F. shows that their failures are not evidence against having them, but rather evidence for good governance.

The lesson here is fairly simple. People who use our present circumstances to argue that government can’t manage its way out of a paper bag are either fooling you or fooling themselves. Of course government breaks down when it's run by people who don't care to do the job right. Contrary to the bill of goods that ideological partisans want to sell you, that is far from an argument that government shouldn't take the lead in fixing problems. Rather it is a rock-solid case for putting people in charge who care about doing the job right and have a decent sense of how to go about it.

It's worth remembering that these are failures of bad governance, as those who have been trying to "starve the beast" will now come out to argue that these failures show a problem with "big government" in general.

Posted by binky at 10:50 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Can the Folks in DC Please Remember Lieberman Is Not a Democrat?

I would have thought that given the fact that it's called the "Democratic response to the president's radio address" that it would be given by an actual Democrat. Silly me.

Posted by armand at 09:57 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 02, 2007

Late Nite Quiz

How will you die? I will die mysteriously:

You'll die Mysteriously...

You are a different sort of person and your death will be unexplainable.

'How will you die?' at

Via PZ.

Posted by binky at 11:31 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Guidance, political appointees and secrecy

Majikthise comments on the executive order which the Bush Administration has installed to exercise more control over regulatory interpretation:

These new "regulatory policy officers" will have the final say about whether the recommendations of experts found their way into official advisories about how to implement policy. Worse, the communications between the RPO and the agency would be exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. So, for example, if the experts at the Mine Safety and Health Administration issue some inconvenient guidance about the implications of an occupational safety law, the RPO will be able to secretly squelch that advice.

Posted by binky at 11:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Buffalo Creek

We just recently passed the 35th anniversary of the disaster. Do you think there are some people in Logan County who might not be thrilled with the "Friends of Coal" Bowl?

Posted by armand at 03:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

HRC Talks to the HRC, Privately

Hmmmm - what's with an address to hundreds at one of the best known gay rights groups in the country not being on Sen. Clinton's public schedule?

Posted by armand at 03:11 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Good, Short Primer on Who is Doing the Violence in Iraq

Via Danger Room (Wired magazine's new blog on defense and technology) comes this nice roundup of the various insurgent/terrorist groups in Iraq. Short but comprehensive.

Armand - any points of disagreements (he is the Middle East expert around here, after all)?

Posted by baltar at 01:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Sweeping Weightman (and Walter Reed) Under the Rug

So you have probably heard that the Army has relieved Major General George Weightman of his at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. And it apparently is now also asking him not to be a witness at Monday's subcommittee hearing on how US troops are being treated at that facility. Rep. Tierny (D-MA) who'll be chairing that hearing had this to say in response:

I think it is very curious that the Army, on the eve of our hearing, has not only relieved Major General George Weightman of his command but is also asking him to no longer be a witness.

Hmmm, yeah, it's "curious" all right - but it's also so incredibly predictable that it makes you want to cry.

Posted by armand at 12:46 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Is Justice Stevens a Conservative?

Given the comments thread going on at the end of another post, I thought I'd link to this Q&A on Confirm Them in which Jan Crawford Greenburg is asked about Justice Stevens asserting that he is a conservative. The specific question seems to say a lot about the questioner (self-involved and spiteful much?) and Greenburg's answer seems to convey she agrees with some of the premises of the "conservatives" at Confirm Them (and that she finds incredibly minor, some might say inane, things deeply fascinating), but I think it's entirely reasonable to hold the position that Justice Stevens does - that what qualified as "conservative" when he was appointed is vastly different from how that term is used today.

Posted by armand at 12:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tragically Stupid, Updated

As I noted yesterday, our intelligence that North Korea was enriching uranium in violation of 1994's "Agreed Framework" may have been wrong. Today we find out that we may have been wrong on other aspects of North Korea. Knight Ridder/McClatchy is reporting:

Now there are new questions about the administration's assertions that a bank in Macau knowingly laundered proceedings from North Korean narcotics trafficking, cigarette smuggling and counterfeit American currency.

An audit of the Banco Delta Asia's finances by accounting firm Ernst & Young found no evidence that the bank had facilitated North Korean money-laundering, either by circulating counterfeit U.S. bank notes or by knowingly sheltering illicit earnings of the North Korean government.

In a filing submitted to the Treasury Department last October, Heller Ehrman LLP, the bank's New York law firm, reported that an audit by the government of Macau also had found no evidence of money-laundering.

Did we get anything right? Do we even know who is running the place today?

Posted by baltar at 09:49 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 01, 2007

Stranger Than Fiction

It's official, I now love Marc Forster. First he makes Finding Neverland (which was so much more winning than expected, and so well constructed), and then he follows that gem up with his release from last year - Stranger Than Fiction. I'm really at a loss to understand why the latter only got mixed reviews. It's touching, beautifully shot (the guy has such an eye - he's one of the best directors working today), funny, witty and well-acted (especially by Emma Thompson). Why didn't more people get behind this film? Well, whatever - I can't explain everyone's questionable taste. For whatever it's worth, I recommend it.

Posted by armand at 08:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Hey, We're Officially A Lefty Blog, or People With Too Much Time On Their Hands.

Via Instaputz (nice name, by the way), we get this marvelous comparison (at GatewayPundit):

So, lefty bloggers swear about nineteen times as much as righty bloggers. We're such fucking potty-mouths!

In case anyone cares, this isn't a valid comparison. The chart shows only total word count for the listed blogs. In other words, all posts in the blog (for all the time the site has been operating) are counted. Thus, the results aren't normalized for profanity per post or profanity per day (or something). In other words, if (and this probably isn't the case, but IF) lefty blogs wrote nineteen times as much language as righty blogs, then it would make sense for there to be nineteen times as many swear words (and, in fact, the rate of profanity would be identical). I doubt this is the case (I'm perfectly willing to believe that lefties swear more than righties), but there is a methodological flaw here.

Posted by baltar at 01:30 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Circular Firing Squads

If anyone cares, a good chunk of the left-wing blogosphere is busy shooting itself in the foot here. It's entertaining in the same way that watching cars crash or William Huang sing is entertaining.

Posted by baltar at 01:01 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Tragically Stupid

Yes, of course, we're talking about Bush's foreign policy again. Just when you think you've reached the nadir of stupidity, something else comes down the pike:

For nearly five years, though, the Bush administration, based on intelligence estimates, has accused North Korea of also pursuing a secret, parallel path to a bomb, using enriched uranium. That accusation, first leveled in the fall of 2002, resulted in the rupture of an already tense relationship: The United States cut off oil supplies, and the North Koreans responded by throwing out international inspectors, building up their plutonium arsenal and, ultimately, producing that first plutonium bomb.

But now, American intelligence officials are publicly softening their position, admitting to doubts about how much progress the uranium enrichment program has actually made. The result has been new questions about the Bush administration’s decision to confront North Korea in 2002.

Yes, that's right, it turns out that (perhaps) North Korea's nuclear program has been overstated. Long story short, North Korea bought 20 centrifuges (necessary to make highly enriched uranium for a bomb, but also necessary to make moderately enriched uranium to power a normal electricity-generating nuclear reactor) from AQ Kahn (described in the article as a "rogue" Pakistani scientist - Kahn was about as rogue as Ollie North was). The US assumed that North Korea would take apart the centrifuges in order to learn how to make them, and then mass-produce a whole bunch (you normally produce highly enriched uranium by using hundreds of centrifuges; you could do it with only 20, but it would take a very, very long time). Now, it turns out, there was no actual evidence to back up the assumption that North Korea would mass-produce the centrifuges, and five years later that evidence still doesn't exist.

In other words, the US provoked the last five years of crisis by publicly accusing the North Koreans of something they weren't doing, pulling out of the "Agreed Framework" (the 1994 agreement that put inspectors in North Korea in return for oil), and then refusing to negotiate with them over something they weren't doing. This makes the North Korean response in 2001 (throw the inspectors out, open up the reactors, harvest the plutonium and make a bomb or six) more reasonable: the US wanted them to stop doing something they weren't doing, and wouldn't talk to them until they did. Then we invaded Saddam in order to stop him from doing something he wasn't doing. If I were the North Koreans, I'd build a bomb too.

Intelligence is wrong all the time. The track record of US intelligence in the last decade or so is pretty awful, and clearly something needs to be fixed (and the whole "Office of National Intelligence" they put in place a year or so ago isn't going to fix it). However, to make strong (and irrevokable) policy decisions (war in the case of Iraq, severing relations in the case of North Korea) on intelligence is really risky.

And this administration has driven us off a cliff.

Posted by baltar at 08:28 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack