Another link to Media Minded, this time to a reply to a bloviating "indy media" type who took offense to MM's first dismantling. This time, MM pulls no punches, and the results are devastating. Check it out.
Totally devoid of original thought.
Friday, June 07, 2002
Global Capitalism foes overwhelmed by counterdemonstrators
Link is here.
A quote from ExxonMobil's chairman quietly blows away the anti-globos arguments:
ExxonMobil chairman Lee Raymond told CNSNews.com that he was unfazed by the protesters. "We operate in over 200 countries around the world and for some reason that is bad," Raymond explained. He said ExxonMobil is a good corporate citizen throughout the world, hiring citizens from the countries in which it operates to satisfy 95 percent of its labor needs.
"If that is what they mean by globalization, then frankly everybody should support it," Raymond said.
Refute that, anti-globalization fanatics.
Campaign Finance Reform bad for Democracy
No, I am not quoting Limbaugh or National Review or Mitch McConnell, I am quoting everyone's favorite left-wing blog, Tapped.
Tapped read a brief Alterman post about campaign finance reform (he doesn't understand the topsy-turvy politics behind it), and pumped out this screed. I, of course, have to add my own comments to their post.
First of all, it was not "obvious" that the recently passed reform bill was going to benefit Republicans more than Democrats, as Alterman suggests. Or rather, it was obvious but no one wanted to talk about it. Only TAP's campaign finance expert was saying such things publicly (and had been for years).
Well, that's not the fault of the GOP, as Tapped is alluding.
But no one else wanted to discuss the obvious political implications of the bill because that might have rocked the boat. The reform groups were so committed to achieving some kind of reform that they didn't want to do anything that might jeopardize its passage. In fact, Common Cause willingly accepted (some have gone as far to say they suggested) the compromise of raising the hard money limits in exchange for a partial ban on soft money. (The ban is "partial" because it only effects national parties -- state parties can continue to raise soft money, as can the myriad of other political committees that will be established just for that purpose.) Meanwhile, the Democrats in the House and Senate lulled themselves into thinking that they could keep pace with the Republicans in raising hard money (in spite evidence to the contrary). And the editorial boards of the Post and the Times stayed above the political fray. Finally, the Republicans in the Senate, House, and White House were hardly going to squeal.
Again, it was not the job of the GOP to point out that the pet project of so many Democrats (and a few McCain acolytes) was likely to hurt the Democrats more than the Republicans.
That's an important part of the explanation of the politics behind this reform. But there's more: Congress and the White House, in the wake of Enron, felt something had to be done to free themselves from the taint of special interest money. It became a way to get out from under the political scandal. After all, both parties and both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue had been bought off by Enron and Andersen. They figured as long as they could get a bill that didn't disturb the status quo all that much, why not pass it to provide political cover?
Enron provided the excuse to pass this turkey; it has been kicking around (in a similar form) for quite some time now.
There's also another political axis on this issue -- incumbents vs. challengers.
This new reform works well for all incumbents. After all, they are not running against each other, but against challengers who already operate at a disadvantage in the money game. There's no way challengers can keep up with incumbents in raising those $ 2,000 contributions. And the reform is perfect for President Bush (another soon-to-be incumbent lest we forget, and one who broke the bank the last time on money from wealthy individuals). It will make his job of running for president even easier the next time around. He'll once again call himself "a reformer" (stealing that mantle from John McCain). Moreover, Bush knew -- as did every Republican in Congress -- that overall the bill plays to the GOP's fundraising strengths.
Well, if the Democrats cannot count, then the GOP shouldn't prevent them from running off a cliff. Or perhaps, it was political principles at work here (The GOP had a few too many members who blinked, and therefore prostituted themselves to supporting a law that will likely be found unconstitutional. Bush should be lumped in with that group for signing it. If it were simply a matter of looking at the numbers, why would Mitch McConnell (R-KY) work so tirelessly to defeat a bill that would benefit his party? (Conversely, why would loyal Democrats such as Russ Feingold work to pass a bill that would harm their party? There are principled members of both parties, although Tapped would probably disagree with me on that, or on who in each party qualifies for that label).
Reformers should have been fighting -- and should continue their fight -- for reforms that strenthened democracy. Unfortunately, this new law won't improve the sorry state of the "American experiment," which is why Alterman is right: The strum und drang wasn't about principle, it was about posturing. One of the most interesting articles written near the end of the debate came from Fred Barnes in the Wall Street Journal (sorry, no link), a piece debunking Republican fears about the campaign finance bill. Its title? "Armageddon for the GOP? Hardly."
I posted a suggestion for REAL reform in April, and sent a copy of it to TAPPED earlier this week. They have not responded to it, so it apparently does not strike their fancy, as it would result in a severe clamping down on political posturing. <sarcasm> It's unconstitional, but we're far too interested in progressive feel-good policy to worry about little details like that. </sarcasm>
I think the line Reformers should have been fighting...for reforms that strenthened democracy would read more accurately if the last two letters were changed from "cy" to "ts", as that is what Tapped is really trying to say.
Media Minded has a lot to say about today's newsroom culture (and I use the term loosely) after reading a Kathleen Parker column. Go see what he has to say in this entry. His last paragraph is a fairly scathing indictment, and I cannot imagine that his newspaper is vastly different from all of the others.
Headline of the day
Goes to the San Diego Union-Tribune for this one:
Mental review scheduled for naked suspect
There's so many different lines of attack on this headline...
Thursday, June 06, 2002
Take a look at what the growth boundary created
King County, in which the city of Seattle is located, has had a growth boundary in place for about 10 years. Land outside this boundary cannot be subdivided for housing. As the city's population has increased, the amount of land available upon which to build has dwindled, and homes have become very expensive. Bruce Ramsey, editorial columnist for the Seattle Times, discusses this anti-populist populist measure, and its unintended consequences, in this column. A telling statistic:
A typical single-family lot — 6,000 square feet, flat, no view — costs $140,000 or $150,000 in King County.
This is Seattle, mind you, not New York or San Francisco. Eventually, when it becomes impossible for the average worker in Seattle to ever hope of owning a home, perhaps the policy will be rethought. On the other hand, slow-growth ordinances only pass in one-party People's Republics, and I've never heard of one being repealed (if you read this and know of one, please let me know), so it appears that housing will continue going up in neighboring counties, increasing commute times (and incidentally increasing pollution, since the transit systems don't do a lot of linking from county to county, decreasing the attractiveness of mass transit).
United States Recognizes Russia as a Market Economy
Interesting article in today's Seattle Times. I was surprised to discover that private enterprise accounts for 70% of Russia's economic output. Granted, it's 70% of a much smaller pie, but it's still far higher than I would have guessed, had someone asked me. Although it has caused a few howls from some industries that are not competitive with Russia, it is a good deal for Russia, and for us, I think, because a cementing of economic ties will allow more stable investments in Russia by US companies.
(This will get rewritten for editorial purposes when the caffeine buzz wears off and I can think clearly.)
Wednesday, June 05, 2002
U.S. Unveils Fingerprint Plan, Angers Arab Groups
This is a step in the right direction, but of course, the usual suspects are already lining up against it. "It's profiling!" the scream. Yes, it is. Guess what? All 19 of the perpetrators of the WTC/Pentagon/Attempted White House hijackings were Arab immigrants. That's not profiling, that's not conjecture, that is FACT. Zogby can bitch and whine all he wants, but that does not change the fact that 19 Arab men killed 3000 people, most of them Americans, on American soil.
I really hope that some of the EUnuchs criticize this move, because it will be a chance to shove facts into their sanctimonious faces. France, for example, requires long-term visitors to register within seven days of their arrival, every 12 months after that, and whenever they move.
Tapped's brains in a lockbox?
Yesterday, Tapped had this to say about Social Security:
THE "SCARE CAMPAIGN" IS WORKING. Against the Republicans, that is, who are apparently pretty worried about Democrat attacks on their Social Security and prescription drug plans this summer. Tapped has always found this particular complaint -- Oooh! The Democrats are scaring old people about their Social Security payments -- rather funny. It not only infantilizes senior citizens. It assumes that something besides common sense and a cursory attention to fact is required to know that the Republican privatization plans will force either tax hikes or benefit reductions (thanks to Bush's tax cut). As The Prospect's Nicholas Confessore reported recently, Social Security and prescription drugs look to be pivotal in November. And the House Republicans are just on the wrong side of these issues.
Well, sometimes the truth hurts. The Democrats have been very successful in portraying Social Security reform as sure death for all the old people out there, and many of them have bought into it. But what caught my eye is the line about privatization. Bush's tax cut has nothing to do with privatization, and unless you start prattling about the non-existent "lockbox", there is no connection. Tax hikes or benefit reductions are two possible choices, but Tapped overlooks the obvious spending cuts that could be made.
Even more deceptive is the link that Tapped provides, to the "Campaign for America's Future". CAF is , according to their website:
Over 100 Prominent Americans - citizen activists and policy experts concerned about our country and our planet - have joined together to launch and build the Campaign for America's Future. We are challenging the big money corporate agenda by encouraging Americans to speak up - to discuss and debate a new vision of an economy and a future that works for all of us.
"America's Future will insist that the question of falling wages and rising insecurity be placed at the center of our national debate. We will challenge those who suggest that nothing can be done and expose the conservative agenda that has made things worse. America's Future will work to revitalize a progressive agenda, and fight to make this economy work for working people once again. We will engage citizens, activists and political leaders in a renewed debate about the kind of country - and the kind of world - we want to build for the generations yet to come."
Which should make it clear where their priorities lie.In any case, they discuss benefits in 2032, 2058, and 2075, failing to note that the Social Security Administration is projected to become insolvent in 2032, unless steps are taken to repair it, steps such as Bush's privatization plan. As it stands right now, I won't be drawing any benefits from Social Security, even though I have already paid into it for the past 18 years or so.
The Democratic Party's deceitfulness is demonstrated by their warnings to America's seniors, who will never see the effects of privatization. Bush's plan does not address current receipients, nor does it address those who will begin receiving benefits within a few years. This obvious fact doesn't stop Serpenthead Carville or his elected lackeys from demogoging the issue.
As to the snivel about prescription drugs, see my post from Friday which addresses the issue. Better yet, read the article in Reason from which most of the rebuttal is derived.
Tuesday, June 04, 2002
Los Angeles Times Editors vs. Scheer
The sound of one hand clapping is eminating from the editorial page of the Los Angeles Times.
Today's editorial is a measured dissent against the hand-wringing from the left about the new investigatory powers afforded the FBI, and how John Ashcroft is going to trample our civil rights and turn us all into Pentecostals. They point out that most of the limitations are an overreaction to J. Edgar Hoover's excesses, and note that as long as we don't have an FBI director who terrifies politicians, Hoover's transgressions will not be repeated.
Contrast that with Robert Scheer's latest tirade, which is every bit as bad as the editorial fears. It's rather interesting that these two pieces would run on the same day, without a deliberate "pro/con" slant. (The LAT used to run "Column Left" and "Column Right" which featured, respectively, a liberal and a conservative columnist, but they never included the paper's own editorials in those columns).
Paging Eric Alterman
This article may be just what Alterman was asking for when he make his snide comment about finding bin Laden's "Cheney".
Monday, June 03, 2002
Opinions are like... Dept.
Robert Jensen, professor at University of Texas--Austin, is responsible for this odious article in last Wednesday's Newsday. One line really sets me off (he is discussing patriotism):
At its best, it is self-indulgently arrogant in its assumptions about our uniqueness.
This is for what I am defending the country? Sure, he has the right to say it. I have the right to say he is an asshole.
Way too much time on his hands...
NZ Bear, over at The Truth Laid Bear, has a fascinating project that he started, one that keeps track of who links who on the blogosphere. He has a map, and a chart on the side. He also somehow managed to miss me (he must have blinked as he whizzed by), so don't look for me on the map (maybe next week). Check it out, and see where you (or your favorite blogger) dwells on the "food chain".
Virginia's New Commemorative License Plate
Virginia appears to be the first state that intends to issue plates recalling the 11September attacks upon the Pentagon and World Trade Center (and the foiled attempt upon the White House). This article discusses the plates and has a picture of the approved design. A minimum of 350 plates need to be ordered before they can be printed.
How much do you want to bet that some anti-American group (in the SF bay area, most likely, or the Upper West Side of Manhattan, or Hollywood) will protest these plates, calling them jingoistic and insulting? I'm sure that it will occur, if it hasn't already. Ms. Pollitt, phone call on line one.
(Link courtesy of Midwest Conservative Journal.)
Sunday, June 02, 2002
About my pseudonym
After seeing yet another google search on my name (this is about the tenth one), I have come to realize one of two things. Either "scutum" is a very popular search term, or people are looking for the meaning behind my name. I think it is safe to assume that the latter is the case. For those who wonder, here is the skinny on my name.
When I first ventured onto the internet, my roommate had a cable modem (what can I say--I started late). In order to use the one modem, all of the computers in the house (we had four) had their own names, and they were all astronomical names. Each time one of the computers was replaced, it got a new name. By common agreement, they all began with a sibilant (s or soft c). We went through Sirius, Cygnus, Centaurus, Sagittarius, Sagitta (the arrow fired by Sagittarius), and a few others. When I got this computer, even though the roommates were gone, I kept the tradition alive. Scutum (The Shield) was one of the few constellations we had not used. In addition, I liked the symbolism behind the name--it has a militaristic aspect, and it serves as a "shield" to hide my identity.
There are differing opinions about the proper name of the constellation, although "Scutum" is the official IAC name. I have seen "Scutum Sobieski", "Scutum Sobieskii", and "Scutum Sobiescianum" given. I went with Sobieski because it is the first form I ran across.
Oh, yeah, he did that too...
Another article in the New York Times had this interesting description:
The letter was also signed by Raymond L. Flynn, a former ambassador to the Vatican who now leads the Catholic Alliance, a national Roman Catholic political organization.
He was also the mayor of Boston for nine years. I wonder why that fact was left out. Maybe it is because it doesn't mesh well with the hed of the piece--"Two Conservatives Tell Bush They Oppose Plan for Police". It's just a bit odd that they overlooked his mayoral career.
Study Shows Building Prisons Did Not Prevent Repeat Crimes
I don't ever recall seeing that argument presented before. Constructing more prisons reduces crime because it allows us to keep more criminals behind bars. However, The New York Times is spinning a new direction for its old refrain against more jails, and I'm sure that the chorus of the usual suspects (ACLU, PAW, prisoner's rights groups, et al) will seize the results of this study and run with it, even though it demonstrates nothing with any real meaning--"Gee, more jails don't create a bigger deterrent." In any case, the whole article is here.
You thought the 2000 election was strange...
When it comes to election oddities, things don't get much stranger than in Long Beach, where Tuesday's runoff for mayor features three--not the customary two--candidates.
And just one name on the ballot.
Read the whole article here. (LA Times; registration required)
Beyond Memorial Day
This is a letter to the editor in yesterday's Seattle Times. I have included the writer's name because he deserves recognition for his letters, both of them.
One year ago I wandered through the parking lot at the University of Washington Hospital. I noticed a truck parked in the disabled section with Pearl Harbor Survivors license plates and stickers showing life membership in the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the U.S. Marine Corps. I was disappointed someone had placed a parking ticket on the windshield, because it was obvious the owner was there for some emergency.
The next day I wrote a letter that thanked you for your service to this nation in wartime. The Times printed my letter on Memorial Day, May 28, 2001, and you read it. You called me and I was amazed as you described how you survived the attack on Pearl Harbor while aboard the USS Maryland (BB-46). You told me that you were seriously wounded while attacking the defenses at Sugar Loaf Hill on Okinawa with the 6th Division two days before the island was declared secure.
Your country needed your dedication and sacrifice during World War II. We need to know why you were willing to pay such a great price to preserve our freedom. We need to listen to your wisdom.
— Dale Taylor, Buckley
Yucca Mountain and Transport of Nuclear Waste
Today's issue of the Seattle Times had an editorial regarding Yucca Mountain, storage of nuclear waste, and the transport of same. It's worth a read, as some of the most egregious lies about the project are dismissed with facts instead of hysteria. A sample:
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission-approved containers are designed to be virtually indestructible with standards much higher than those for other hazardous materials. The government has run diesel engines into them, dropped them onto cement, and burned them in aviation fuel for 90 minutes. Not once has a container failed.
Not that it will shut the greens up, but it is reassuring to know that research and empirical testing have been conducted to ensure our safety.
(or, something to post without getting mad or depressed)
George Bush: When you rearrange the letters: He bugs Gore
Dormitory: When you rearrange the letters: Dirty Room
Evangelist: When you rearrange the letters: Evil's Agent
Elvis: When you rearrange the letters: Lives
Desperation: When you rearrange the letters: A Rope Ends It
The Morse Code: When you rearrange the letters: Here Come Dots
Slot Machines: When you rearrange the letters: Cash Lost in em
Animosity: When you rearrange the letters: Is No Amity
Mother-in-law: When you rearrange the letters: Woman Hitler
Snooze Alarms: When you rearrange the letters: Alas! No More Z's
A Decimal Point: When you rearrange the letters: I'm a Dot in Place
The Earthquakes: When you rearrange the letters: That Queer Shake
Eleven plus two: When you rearrange the letters: Twelve plus one
President Clinton of the USA: When you rearrange the letters: To copulate he finds intern