September 2004 Archives

The Results Are In

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Chris Nandor    110    99.10%
Write-In    1    0.90%
Total ...    111    100.00%

Damn you, Write-In!


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There's a move afoot to use Article III, Section 2, Clause 2 of the Constitution, which states:

In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.
Say what?

That means, basically, that Congress has the authority to tell the Supreme Court what its juridictional authority is. Which means, for example, that Congress can tell the court it may not hear cases about gay marriage or the Pledge of Allegiance, which is what some members of Congress are, indeed, trying to do.

Now, for a moment, let's set aside the meaning of the Constitution in this particular case, and whether that interpretation is valid. I do welcome comments on the matter, but I want to get to something a bit more interesting to me.

In an article on CBS, attorney Andrew Cohen says that this is wrong not because the Constitution says it is wrong, but because of the "Constitutional principle" of three coequal branches of government that does not allow for Congress to tell the Court what cases it can and cannot hear.

It is popularly understood that the three branches of government are coequal. But as is often the case, popular opinion is incorrect.

It's self-evidently incorrectly from any reading of the Constitution. Every important executive act requires Congressional approval, or can be overridden by Congress. The only court that can exist without Congressional approval if the Supreme Court, and even then, they only judge what the law says: if the Congress dislikes the decision, they can change the law (with or without the help of the executive branch, including amending the Constitution itself [although that requires the States]).

And this legislative "predominance" was recognized before the Constitution was ever ratified, as James Madison wrote in Federalist 51:

But it is not possible to give to each department an equal power of self-defense. In republican government, the legislative authority necessarily predominates. The remedy for this inconveniency is to divide the legislature into different branches; and to render them, by different modes of election and different principles of action, as little connected with each other as the nature of their common functions and their common dependence on the society will admit.
Note that the title there, "The Structure of the Government Must Furnish the Proper Checks and Balances Between the Different Departments," is not Madison's. It was added much later. In fact, the words "check" and "balance" do not appear together in the Constitution, and neither does the word "coequal," which also does not appear in the Federalist.

Indeed, "check" and "balance" appear together in the Federalist only once, in No. 9 by Hamilton, and he -- just as Madison is above -- is talking about the two houses of Congress checking and balancing each other.

Let's collectively face the facts: the three branches have never been equal, have never balanced each other, and were never intended to. They do perform various checks on each other, but Congress still predominates.

Now, back to Article III, Section 2, Clause 2. I am undecided about this. We know that the court has previously ruled that when Congress has authority, it should be interpreted broadly. And we know the Constitution says the court's jurisdiction is subject to exceptions and regulations from Congress. Taking that, I don't see how one could rule this is an abuse of Congress' power, since that power is specifically granted by the Constitution. And all the arguments against it that I've seen amount to ridiculous whining about a Constitutional principle of coequality and balance that does not exist.

Note that this power has been exercised before, and was respected by the Supreme Court. (I especially like the part where Senator Byrd tried to do almost the exact same thing, 25 years ago.)

Now, I know that there are fears this power could be abused. But that is beside the point here, which is what the power is, and whether or not it is Constitutional. Whether that power should be exercised is, for my concern here, largely tangential, and would be framed primarily by a greater understanding of the power at issue, which I do not yet have.

Push Polling

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I think maybe I was just push polled.

I was asked a long series of questions about various candidates for office in WA, and then given a bunch of positive statements about the Democrat candidate for Attorney General, Deborah Senn, and asked to respond to each whether it was convincing.

At that point -- these questions went on for a few minutes -- I was fairly convinced it was positive push polling. But then they gave me some negative statements about Senn. OK, so maybe not. And then some negative statements about her Republican opponent, Rob McKenna.

The tally was about 5 positive statements and 3 negative about Senn, and 3 negative about McKenna. No positive statements about McKenna. So maybe it was some positive push polling for Senn. (For the record, I told the pollster I had no strong reaction to any of the given statements about any of the candidates, positive or negative. I don't tend to be swayed by short marketing phrases. :-)

Now, it could be that the pollster just wasn't very good. He got a bunch of the names wrong (he never once said Mark Sidran's name properly), and he botched many of the questions (trying, but failing, to say "accreditation"). So maybe he just made a mistake.

Also, I wouldn't guess push polls would last this long (>10 minutes). So I dunno.

I was waiting for the question about my race ... that came at the end, and I, of course, refused to answer it.

The other question I didn't answer was whether I thought the state was headed in the right direction. My answer is, "if Dino Rossi gets elected governor, then yes; if not, no." But that wasn't one of the options.

Bundle-Slash-2.35 Released

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Bundle-Slash-2.35 has been released. Download it from the CPAN or

(Note: it may take time for the release to propagate to the various download mirrors.)
Posted using release by brian d foy.

Mythical Tax Cuts

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John Kerry says, "When John Kerry is president, middle-class taxes will go down. Ninety-eight percent of all Americans and 99 percent of American businesses will get a tax cut under the Kerry-Edwards plan."

First, let's be clear about what this actually means: the 98 percent getting a tax cut refers to keeping taxes exactly where they are, by extending the existing tax cuts. So he's using "cut" very loosely, at best.

Second, most of the cuts were just extended by Congress, and are not set to expire any time soon. The marriage penalty relief, the tax rate and bracket changes, the child tax credit increase, are all through 2010. So even if you could consider an extension of a cut to be a cut, the cuts are already extended through his potential first term in office, and beyond. Maybe he is making promises for a second term already? I wouldn't count on it.

Third, the middle class taxes will not go down. They will stay the same for almost everyone. He does want to give some tax cuts for health care and education expenses, but these affect only a minority of people, not "the middle class," let alone 98 percent of Americans.

Don't believe the hype. He has no plan to cut taxes for the middle class, let along 98 percent of Americans. It simply isn't true.

Sunday Thoughts

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On NOW with Bill Moyers, Moyers interviewed George Farah of Open Debates, the anti-CPD group I've mentioned many times before. Farah is the guy who wrote No Debate, the book I've lauded many times before.

It was a pretty good story, and they covered most of the main points of why the CPD is illegal, undemocratic, and generally bad for everybody except for the two candidates.

It is becoming increasingly too late to change anything for this year, but if enough people tune out and complain this year, maybe things will change for next year.

To be fair, some things have changed for the better. The Memorandum of Understanding was made public, and the candidates did not select the moderators. But they still had the power to change the moderators if they wanted to, and the CPD selected largely inoffensive moderators to begin with (although Bob Schieffer offends me, but largely because he is inoffensive and otherwise not very good at what he does ... if you are unfamiliar with him, watch Face the Nation some Sunday morning on CBS, or just wait until his debate comes up over the next few weeks; maybe in this space I'll review the moderators of each press conference^W^Wdebate instead of the debates themselves).

I'll miss Thursday's debate (well, I wouldn't say I'll be missing it!), as I'll be fishing off the coast of Vancouver BC, but that's what TiVo is for.

Predicting Winners

Also on PBS on Friday was a story (Real audio) on NewsHour about some unorthodox ways of picking the winner. There was one I've heard many times before in different forms, predicting a winner by economic conditions.

One guy also said weather is a decent predictor, that bad weather (such as a particularly bad hurricane season) reflects poorly on the incumbent. That same man, however, advocated a broader approach, using many different methods and averaging them together.

A third method was to use a market, like a stock market. If Bush "stock" is higher than Kerry "stock," he is more likely to win. They illustrated the point by asking 20 people on the street how many jelly beans were in a jar. The guesses ranged from about 300 to 10,000, but the average -- about 1400 -- was closer to the actual number -- about 1350 -- than any of the individual guesses.

All three methods picked Bush as the winner, although they were careful to note that the methods were not necessarily reliable (duh).


In a democracy, you must be able to criticize your leaders. But is there a line between criticizing and undermining?

John Kerry has slammed Bush incessantly over his handling of the war in Iraq. Fine. But is it fine to slander our allies who have chosen to go along with our war in Iraq ("Coalition of the Bribed") or the prime minister of Iraq ("you can almost see the hand underneath the shirt today moving the lips"), whose support we and the people of Iraq need to accomplish the goals?

The reason I say these things cross the line from criticizing to undermining is not merely because they are exceptionally harsh of our allies, but because they seem designed to actually harm the mission, to ridicule people into not wanting to continue. Does Kerry think these things will only affect American voters? Does he think people in Great Britain or Australia might be more or less likely to support their respective government's actions in Iraq after saying their countries were bribed? Does he think people in Iraq might be more or less likely to support Allawi, in both words and deeds, after saying he is a mere puppet of the U.S.?

Can he see at all past the effect his words are having on the election, and does he care? As I've noted before, his rhetoric in recent weeks seems to be focused more on getting out of Iraq than completing the mission there, and this only adds to my concern over the matter.


I am still optimistic about our chances for success in Iraq. When I say that, people look at me like my head is spinning around. How could you possibly think that, I'm asked. I cited Senator John McCain, from the Armed Services Committee -- who knows a lot more than any of us do, and is largely regarded as a straight-shooter, about Iraq -- who said a week or so ago that he believes elections are still possible by January.

This week, General John Abizaid, head of Centcom -- who knows a lot more than any of us do, and is largely regarded as a straight-shooter, about Iraq -- said he read the intelligence estimate of July and that he believed it was "overly pessimistic," that elections were still possible, that the people are not on the verge of civil war or turning against the Americans, that the insurgents have not won a single engagement against the US or Iraqi forces.

At least I am in good company, if people think I am crazy for being optimistic.


I heard quite a bit about that windsurfing ad with Kerry, without paying any real attention to it. From what I heard, I believed the ad was from Bush or the GOP. Then I saw the windsurfing ad, and it wasn't: it was from some random 527. I was annoyed that people were saying it was from Bush ... but then I saw it again, and it was from Bush. There's two completely different windsurfing ads.

The 527 ad was considerably more silly, with computer animation, goofy fonts, and complete with a surfer girl doing the voiceover. My confusion was broadened by Capital Gang, which showed this 527 ad opposite a Kerry ad, that claimed Bush was running "a juvenile and tasteless attack ad." So someone on Capital Gang is lying to its viewers, saying this far more juvenile ad from a 527 is what Kerry is referring to. Nice job, CNN. You fooled me, at first.

Regardless, Kerry's statement is asinine. He appeared on several comedy shows -- The Daily Show, Letterman -- in recent weeks making juvenile comments about the President, and he runs attack ads against Bush all the time. Heck, this "Juvenile" ad is itself an attack ad, and juvenile ("Waaaah! I'm telling mom!").

(I don't address whether any of what Kerry says is "tasteless" because I think one could easily believe all, or none, of these ads are tasteless ... it's pointless to even discuss.)


This is still such a huge media story, it is not going away any time soon. It covers media bias, dirty tricks, elections, anonymous sources, and truth.

I am still waiting for Mapes -- a left-wing partisan whose goal was to get Bush with a story she was convinced was true, regardless of the facts she could prove -- to get fired. It can't happen soon enough.

Movie Trology of the Beast

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The extended editions of the first two Lord of the Rings movies are 208 minutes. The third will be 250 minutes. Combined, they are 666 minutes.

Are You Registered?

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If you are eligible to vote, are you registered to vote? And will you vote? If not to either, why not? Keep your answers as short as possible, please.

If you need help figuring out how to register, ask here and we'll try to help. Voting is important! Learn about the issues and candidates and vote, or I'll take away all your karma! ;-)

Don't Be a Hater

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With elections approaching, it is useful to look back to where we've been, to give us perspective about where we are now.

Once war began, our President became the object of many attacks.

He was often compared to an ape.

The Chicago Times wrote that Americans must be filled with shame because of a speech he gave during the war, describing it as "silly, flat, and dishwatery."

In London, the capital of our closest ally, it became accepted as simple fact that the President was brutal, a warmonger, a nightmare.

The U.S. itself split in two, with half the country despising the man and his war of aggression.

He was blasted for using unappropriated money to wage the war, and accused of lying when his projections of the cost of the war were proven woefully inadequate, and debt continued to mount dramatically.

He was slammed for demolishing the Constitution, abridging civil rights in favor of security.

The war I am speaking of is the Civil War; the President, Lincoln; the speech, the Gettysburg Address.

Our current President has, of course, been through much of the same, now 150 years later. As with Lincoln, the short-term pain of Bush's war was inevitable, but it is the long-term -- and currently unknowable -- effects that he will be judged by.

Lincoln's actions helped preserve the Union and made it stronger. Will Bush's actions help transform the Middle East, making it more free, more prosperous, and more peaceful? What fate awaits Bush in history books of the future?

Only time will tell, and none of us may be around to find out. In the meantime, it might serve us well to keep some perspective, lest our own words become similar fodder for writers 150 years from now.


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When you hear about people like this, realize they are not representative of most homeschooling families. But he says he is not a lunatic.

Credit Card Scams

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I will usually use unique email addresses for every web site I give an email address to. I recently got three credit card scam emails to an email address I have only ever used for

These are the kinds of emails that say "click here to verify your account information for eBay/Amazon/PayPal". You go there, it looks like the right site, you put in your CC#, and bam.

So how did this happen? Either Focus Camera broke its word and sold my email address to someone, or it had my email address stolen, which could mean my credit card information was also stolen.

I don't know because they have twice neglected to respond to my queries about the problem. I am contacting the Better Business Bureau -- whose logo appears on their site -- today if I don't hear from them in the next few hours.

Update: BBB says to wait 10 days to hear back from the vendor, I've waited only 7. I'll catch them middle of next week.

Stupid Polls

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Check out this CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll from October 1998, a full two years before the 2000 election, and well before Bush or Gore announced they were running for President.

Note how in the questioning, they only match two candidates from opposing parties head-to-head: Bush and Gore. Note that this is the first question.

And then wonder to yourself, would this influence the later questions, about who you would vote for in the respective parties?

Duh. The numbers for Gore vs. rest of field, and Bush vs. rest of field, are invalid, because the previous question already told the respondents who the pollster considers the most likely candidates to be, and many people are more inclined to vote for who they perceive to be the winner.

This is one of the many reasons you should treat poll results with skepticism, especially if you can't see the actual questions asked, and their order.

Presidential Power

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There's a story on Slashdot right now that links to a page that tries to show that most Presidents were against the President using force without Congressional approval, implying that Bush did go to war without that approval:

Before 1950, no President or member of Congress believed that the executive branch could  wage war without debate in Congress, when such debate was possible.

But this is an entirely ridiculous notion. Congress approved the use of force in Iraq. Period. End of story. Read the bill that was passed in October 2002. Kerry and most of the rest of Congress voted to authorize Bush to use force in Iraq. This is not debatable. You can debate the wisdom of that decision, but you cannot debate whether Congress approved the use of force, unless you want to be laughed at for not knowing what you're talking about.

Yousef Islam

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<User1> A plane was diverted so a dangerous passenger could be detained & deported
<User1> the Artist formerly known as Cat Stevens
<pudge> ooh yeah
<pudge> i read
<User1> I want to see Muzak, Inc. being shut down for supporting terrorism
<User1> every time they play "Morning has Broken", it buys a bullet for Al-Queda
<pudge> heh
<pudge> i have several Cat Stevens records
<pudge> er, CDs
<pudge> NP: Morning Has Broken - Cat Stevens (Teaser And The Firecat)
<pudge> if Muslims can like some of what Jesus said while disagreeing with the rest, i can do the same with Cat Stevens :)
<User1> hehe. moral relativism rears its ugly head
<pudge> "yeah, i dig Christ's older stuff, but after his transfiguration, not so much"
<User1> hehe
<User1> I liked him when he was still underground
<User1> but ever since he took off, it's just ot my thing anymore
<pudge> he's such a sellout

Command Lines and Window(s) and BBEdit

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My sentiments about BBEdit's new feature to allow opening files into the same window are similar to John Gruber's. The difference is, I rarely use the Finder for opening files, compared to how often I use a terminal.

I wrote to Bare Bones asking them to add a feature to the bbedit command line program allowing opening of multiple files to a single window, but in the meantime, I ported John's AppleScript to perl (which also allows it to be used, unchanged, with Big Cat).

use warnings;
use strict;
use Mac::Glue ':all';
my $bbedit = new Mac::Glue 'BBEdit';
my $win = $bbedit->make(new => 'window');
$win->prop('show documents drawer')->set(to => 1);
my $docID = $win->prop(id => document => 1)->get;
my $doc = $bbedit->obj(document => obj_form(formUniqueID, typeLongInteger, $docID));
$bbedit->obj(file => \@ARGV)->open(opening_in => $win);

[Implementation note: by default, Mac::Glue would try to guess that the number in $docID is an index (document 1) instead of an ID (document id 1). The obj_form() syntax, while bulky, makes it explicit.]

Washington Primary System

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In Washington State, the primary has for many years been a blanket primary: vote for any candidate you want to, of any party, for any office. Vote for a Republican for governor and a Democrat for Senator and a Libertarian for Congress.

Because the purpose of the primary is for the parties to determine which of their candidates should be on the general election ballot, the two major parties sued and the courts agreed that the blanket primary was unconstitutional: the parties should get to choose their own general election candidates.

Long story short, in the Washington primary this year, each voter chose one of the three parties, and voted for candidates only in that party. Some people are extremely angered by this, because they feel their choices are being taken away. And they are right, but their choice is not the point: the choice of the parties is the point. The parties are the ones deciding who they will endorse.

(As a side note, many people are also outraged at the idea of having to "choose" a party, because you do not register a party affiliation in Washington. According to one survey, 30 percent of people lacked confidence their selection in the primary would remain confidential, but that's extremely unlikely. Anyway, it goes back to the main point, that the parties should be able to choose their own candidates with people who choose to identify with that party.)

So out of this anger arises Initiative 872, the Grange Initiative. In it, the primary would revert to a blanket primary, but instead of the top from each party advancing, only the top two -- irrespective of party -- would advance to the general election.

It is the worst of all worlds.

First, it is probably illegal, because it has the same problems as the original primary the courts found unconstitutional.

Second, it is probably illegal for additional reasons: now a group that has enough signatures to get a candidate on the general election ballot would be denied access (third parties, or a minority second party).

Third, and most importantly, even if not illegal for the second point, it is certainly undemocratic, and while it claims to increase choice in the primary, it necessarily significantly reduces choice in the general election. You get only two choices, period. The primary is not a pre-election, it is the election.

Fourth, it will probably end up reducing choice in the primary election, too: the parties do not have to use the primaries, and very likely, if this becomes law, the parties would choose to select most of their candidates at the conventions instead, so the primaries would have only one candidate from each party.

It's a horrible idea, and I can't figure out why it was introduced. It doesn't make any sense, on any level. I know why it is being supported, though; hopefully, voters won't vote for it just because they are angry.


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I've been accused of taking a Kerry statement out of context. Fine, so here's the full transcript.

Frankly, I think the full transcript here is more damning than what I initially recorded, especially in Dean's rebuttal of Kerry's position on the war at the time, using the same words Kerry uses to describe the war now; and in the final exchange where Stephanopolous and Dean wonder if Kerry is trying to have it both ways.

At the very least, I think it is unreasonable to say I am being unreasonable in my interpretation of what Kerry said, since fellow Democrats Stephanopolous and Dean apparently thought it could be interpreted similarly.

And Senator Kerry, the first question goes to you. On March 19th, President Bush ordered General Tommy Franks to execute the invasion of Iraq. Was that the right decision at the right time?

SENATOR JOHN KERRY (D-MA): George, I said at the time I would have preferred if we had given diplomacy a greater opportunity, but I think it was the right decision to disarm Saddam Hussein. And when the president made the decision, I supported him, and I support the fact that we did disarm him.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Now Governor Dean, you've criticized Senator Kerry on the campaign trail, saying he's trying
to have it both ways on the issue of Iraq. Was that answer clear enough for you?

GOVERNOR HOWARD DEAN: Let me be very clear about what I believe. I'm delighted to see Saddam Hussein gone. I appreciate the fact that we have a strong military in this country and I'd keep a strong military in this country. But I think this is the wrong war at the wrong time, because we have set a new policy of preventive war in this country and I think that was the wrong thing to do, because sooner or later, we're going to see another country copy the United States, and sooner or later we're going to have to deal with the fact that there may well be a Shi'a fundamentalist regime set up in Iraq, which would be a greater danger to the United States than Iraq is.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: But do you believe Senator Kerry is still trying to have it both ways?

GOV. DEAN: That's not up to me to judge that. That's up to the voters to judge that, and I'm sure they will.

Sunday Thoughts

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Louisiana voters passed a Constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage. But some claim that a Constitutional amendment can be unconstitutional. I am not talking about the Federal Constitution, either, but that an amendment to a state Constitution can be violative of that Constitution.

Constitutional amendments can in fact be unconstitutional, if they would repeal or hamper rights that our Constitution defines as inalienable. Amendment #1 would repeal several inalienable rights set forth in Article I of our State Constitution, and therefore, it should not be allowed on the ballot.

It sounds crazy to me, but that's what they are saying. It seems to me that the new amendment takes legal precedence over what came before it. If this amendment goes against something in Article I, then it seems to me that, quite simply, that part of Article I is therefore being amended. That seems like a reason to vote against it, not a reason why it is illegitimate.

The case being made is that one cannot infringe on the rights granted by the state Constitution, even by amendment of that Constitution, which effectively means the Constitution is, in part, non-amendable. Since the Constitution itself does not explicitly state that, I don't see how anyone could reasonably conclude this. I doubt they even believe it, but hey, it's worth a shot, right?


CPD executive director Janet Brown was on Fox News Sunday, as their "Power Player of the Week." I wrote a letter to FNS about it.

I wish you had asked your guest about how the CPD was formed by the two main parties, continues to be controlled by them, and yet calls itself 'nonpartisan.' FEC regulations require that the CPD -- in order to receieve donations to pay for the debates -- be nonpartisan, but it is not. It is bipartisan. And FEC laws are being clearly violated.

I also wish you'd have mentioned the Citizens' Debate Commission, which is trying to end the CPD's control over the debates, or the League of Women Voters, whose control was the basis for the heads of the RNC and DNC creating the CPD in the first place. She complains that the CPD has little control, but the CPD was created to give the two parties the control that the LWV didn't offer them.

It further would have been nice to ask her -- following up with her claim that "people want" what the CPD offers -- why the viewership of the debates has consistently declined since the CPD took them over. Of course, we know the reason: because when the parties control the debates, they control the message, and the events become nothing more than novel forms of the stump speech we've already been seeing for months.

Slashdotters for Truth

Following the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, sponsored the Texans for Truth. Now there is the Football Fans for Truth, an actual 527 group that is out to show the world how Kerry is a poser football fan. There followed a joke Red Sox Fans for Truth, but FFT has included other sports among their complaints.

Divine Retribution

If this is true, 1. why did God wait so long if not to disrupt the election? 2. why would He not have waited a little bit longer?

CBS To Admit It?

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The NY Times is reporting that CBS is preparing to admit that the documents were forgeries, and that officials inside CBS are "beginning to believe" the entire 60 Minutes report never should have aired with what they had.

As to the supposed source of the documents, the Washington Post is reporting that Rather interviewed Bill Burkett on camera about the whole thing. It was likely he was the source before, but according to the Times piece, he convinced producer Mary Mapes of the material, so now it is even more likely.

I imagine we will find out a lot more this week ... but whatever happens, I think Mapes and Rather should resign.

The only real question I have left is who supplied the documents to CBS; if it was Burkett, who put CBS in contact with him. Burkett said he gave some information to the Kerry campaign last month, and advocated using dirty tricks, and was apparently the source of these forgeries, so wondering if the Kerry campaign or DNC supplied some of this information to CBS is not mere speculation: it's a question that demands answering.

CBS Did Not Verify Documents

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CBS News released some statements about the forged documents. In them, one document examiner (Matley) says he verified the signatures. The other (Pierce) concurs. CBS consulted two other experts, both of whom could not verify the signatures or documents. No other pre-broadcast verification is discussed in any of the statements, except on the actual content.

We already know that Matley has said it is not possible to verify a document from the signature if it is a photcopied document. And since the only verification done pre-broadcast was on the signatures, we are left with the conclusion that CBS simply did not verify these documents prior to broadcast.

But it gets worse. Matley's obsevations about the signatures are that there are some inconsistencies, but that they could be explained by stress, which is indicated by the content of the documents. But he cannot verify the content. He does not know -- by his own admission -- that the signature was originally applied to the document in question. His entire analysis that the signatures are authentic is based on the flawed assumptions.

In the statement, CBS writes: Before the report was broadcast, it was vetted and screened in accordance with CBS News standards by several veteran 60 MINUTES Wednesday senior producers and CBS News executives. That is the most damning criticism of the network I've yet seen.

Search Engines

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We are looking for a new search engine for Slashdot. Right now we use live searching in MySQL, which, well, sucks. I've been told to look into Plucene and Swish-e. Any other suggestions, or comments about those?

Plucene looks like a great, flexible, system, though I am concerned about performance and scalability (those are concerns with any system, but Simon says Plucene is "much slower" than its cousin Lucene, and I can find no info on scalability). I am beginning to look into Swish-e now, and have no comments about it yet.


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I was poking around jobs data tonight, mostly on the BLS web site.

Two of the most commonly reported statistics in the news are the total nonfarm employment and the unemplyment rate. The former has become a major talking point for the Democrats, as Bush took office with a 132.4m nonfarm jobs in January 2001, and there are 131.5m now, which is a net loss.

Although when I look at total civil employment, I see a different story: 143.8m in January 2001, and 147.8m now. Why is nonfarm more important than total?

All of this is seasonally adjusted too, which also doesn't make much sense to me. More questions than answers, I'm afraid.

Regardless, one point that most Democrats have conceded is that Bush did not cause the recession, as he couldn't have: it hit in March 2001. We already had a net job loss for the year by April 2001 (132.2m), and it never came back up.

The recession ended in November 2001. In November 2001, the employment was 130.9m. Again, today, it is 131.5m, which is a clear net gain since the end of the recession.

Yes, I know that somewhere between 100,000 and 150,000 people, on average, enter the labor force each month, which is somewhere between 3.5 and 5 million since November 2001. Just to keep up with that, we should have even more than the 132.4m we started with. No doubt. Job growth, while mostly steady (June and July were anemic, August was a little bit low, so we'll what the next month brings), has not been great.

But the point is that if Bush is not to blame for the recession, then it is hard to swallow the line that he is to blame for a net loss of jobs, since there's been a net gain since the end of the recession.

I Won

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OK, maybe that is premature since voting won't begin for a few hours, but I am on the primary ballot in Washington, as the Republican precinct committee officer for my local voting precinct, and I am unopposed. (If I were opposed, I likely wouldn't run at all ... if someone else wanted the job more than me, they could have it, and I could do other things.)

The organization of the state party works like this: the state party consists of committeepeople from each county, elected by the county central committee. The county central committee consists of the PCOs, which are elected by the voters of that precinct on the primary ballot. So the PCO is the basic unit of the state party. The party is comprised of them, and their function is, beyond that, to support the party at the precinct level: getting the vote out, supporting candidates, etc.

I'm PCO right now, because I was appointed to fill the vacancy. At least, I think I am. I was told I was, and I filled out all the paperwork, though I never saw anything that proved it, and I saw some list of PCOs as of August 2004 and I wasn't on it. Not that I really care either way.

In Massachusetts, I was also on the primary ballot, in 2000. Instead of per-precinct PCOs and county committees, we had town committees for each party, with the towns getting a number seats by population. There were 35 people on the ballot for that position, which made coming in 35th place seem not so bad. From there I was chosen as a delegate to the state convention in 2002, though I was not able to attend.

Some have asked how I got involved. Basically, I just showed up. I went to the caucuses and conventions and met people and eventually paid a $1 filing fee to get on the ballot. Don't be discouraged from getting involved: like much of life, most of it is just showing up.
No, I don't mean to register to vote because there's less than 50 days left until the US elections. I mean, register for The Fool and his Money, the long-awaited sequel to the classic puzzle game, The Fool's Errand. It's shipping Halloween Eve. It was supposed to ship last Halloween Eve. And then last April Fool's Day. So I am hoping it doesn't slip again.

Sunday Thoughts

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Kerry on Iraq

Kerry is trying to convince the American people that he would be better with the War in Iraq. How?
  • He would get more from our allies. Which allies, and what? Military support, maybe, despite none of our allies who have given troops having more to spare, and none who have not given troops showing any willingness to the idea of putting them in Iraq. People claim some of our allies won't because Bush pushed them aside and acted "unilaterally," but France, Germany, and Russia said they would not provide any troops long before those things happened, and they've shown no willingness to change their minds. So where is this military help coming from? And what other help?

  • He would get the troops out of Iraq in some months. I've heard "six months" and "a year" from Kerry's campaign, and Richard Holbrooke -- a Kerry advisor -- said today that a re-elected Bush would still have the troops in there four years from now, implying Kerry wouldn't. He's given no indication how this would be feasible without abandoning the mission, apart from getting help from our allies (addressed above) and increasing the effectiveness of the Iraqi military (and he's not said how he would do this differently from Bush).

  • He would save us money. Presumably, by pulling troops out. This is despite his saying last year that he would spend more money in Iraq, whatever it took to get the job done.
Or, in other words:
  1. Elect someone our allies like more.
  2. ???
  3. No more troops in Iraq!
It's one thing to criticize Bush's handling of Iraq -- many have done it, including many on the right -- but it's another to not talk about a real plan, to just handwave at the solutions.

But the worst of it all is that Kerry's main criticism of the war in Iraq is summed up thusly, in his words: It was "the wrong war, in the wrong place, at the wrong time." But last year, less than two months after the war began, he said: "I think it was the right decision to disarm Saddam Hussein, and when the President made the decision, I supported him, and I support the fact that we did disarm him," which to me seems that he agreed with the what, where, and when at the time.

To sum up: Kerry says he would do better than Bush in Iraq, without giving any real indication of how, choosing instead to criticize how we got into the war, which Kerry now says was wrong, but which Kerry said at the time he agreed with.

Color me unconvinced that a man such as this would do better than Bush. Maybe he would, of course, but without any specifics, it's kinda hard to trust his judgment.

I know this whole thing isn't exactly new, but Kerry keeps sending people out to say he would handle it better, including underpants gnomes with real credentials like Madeleine Albright and Holbrooke, but even they can't do better than handwaving at "our allies will like him more."


Speaking of not exactly new, Kerry was also last week slamming Bush because real wages have gone down. What he doesn't tell you is that real wages have increased under Bush, 2.1 percent from January 2001 to June 2004 (for comparison, they were up 0.4 percent under Clinton for the same relative time period in his first term).

"Real wages" are adjusted for inflation. That's not at all unreasonable to do, but the problem is that higher oil costs are directly responsible for most of the inflation, and of course wages won't immediately reflect that. Nominal wages (not adjusted for inflation) generally move gradually, and any steep changes in prices won't be reflected in wages on a month-to-month basis. And nominal wages have actually increased over the time period that real wages have decreased.

That's not to say this isn't a problem, and that there are not other numbers in the picture, both positive and negative. But the greatest cause of lower real wages is inflation, not the type of jobs people are getting, not offshoring, not the kinds of jobs people have. And this inflation -- in energy prices -- is something that Kerry probably could not do anything about, and has no plans to fix (except in the long term, lowering our dependency on foreign oil, which is precisely what Bush wants to do, too).

It's more of the same thing, blaming Bush for something that Kerry wouldn't do differently. Like when Kerry says Bush has chosen to support a tax code that rewards outsourcing without himself even proposing to change it. In the PDF on that page, he says: "They have never once considered ending these breaks."

Apparently Kerry has "considered" it, but has decided against it, because he won't end them either: his plan will merely eliminate tax deferments for overseas income -- not the tax credits for outsourcing -- and there's no evidence that this would decrease outsourcing at all. But let's assume these deferments do encourage outsourcing, and eliminating them would decrease outsourcing, just for the sake of argument. Kerry's plan calls for NEW deferments to replace the old ones, as long as the income for the company is from servicing overseas markets. If deferments encourage outsourcing, then Kerry's plan encourages outsourcing, just in one particular sector of American business: exports.

Maybe Americans who work in exports aren't good enough people to have their jobs protected. If this were Bush proposing the same thing, Edwards would be out there screaming about the two Americas: the importers, and the exporters! Bush's immoral tax code is dividing us!

Non-Forgery Forgery News

OK, CBS, I dig that you have issues about Bush's service irrespective of the forged memos. But to pretend that this distraction is the fault of the people attacking you over the forged memos is ridiculous. You messed up, and people are only attacking you because you messed up, and most of them would be attacking you regardless of the topic of the story you messed up. This was one of your biggest scoops in months, and you promoted the heck out of it, and it turned out to be largely a fraud, and you have the gall to blame everyone else. It's pathetic.

What's also pathetic, in my opinion, as I've mentioned, is all of this focus on both the right and the left over what happened in and out of the U.S. over 30 years ago. I only hope that these forgeries will only aid my aforementioned efforts toward furthering our collective amnesia.

Off-topic alert: Do not discuss here whether the documents are forgeries. I have other journal entries or discussing that, and will probably have more. Go there instead.


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I am convinced the memos are forgeries. There's a negligible possibility they are not, sorta like the chance monkeys might fly out my butt. Feel free to read yet another in a long list of analyses that show how unreasonable it is to think these are not forgeries.

Here's a quick summary, for those not paying much attention: CBS did a story last week, in which they had some memos from a man named Killian, who died in 1984.

An overwhelming number of experts have offered strong testimony that the typography of the documents is inconsistent with what was available in 1972 and 1973.

CBS said experts verified them, but produced only one expert, who at CBS' request is not answering questions from anyone else, who could verify the signature belonged to Killian, and who could not verify they were originally affixed to the actual document in question, since CBS has only a photocopy.

One other expert came forward, but he only testified what was already essentially conceded, and is irrelevant: that typewriters did exist that could print a "th" superscript and use proportional spacing (which is essentially the only rebuttal CBS has offered to the tyopgraphical evidence, as well). So far, no other experts have come forward supporting the authenticity of the documents.

CBS produced two men who were apparently there, but both testified only that the contents of the memos reflected what Killian thought, not that they were authentic documents. One of the men never saw the documents, and upon seeing them, said he thought they were forgeries.

CBS interviewed members of Killian's family who said they were not authentic, but did not mention this in their report.

CBS has so far refused to give people access to their copies of the documents, or say where they got them.

In their followups, CBS has misrepresented experts who believe the documents are probably fake, and have refused to address all of the most important evidence against their authenticity.

There's more, but these are some of the main points.

My sincere hope is that this causes Americans to stop caring about who did what in Vietnam, but even more, to be much more critical of what the news media (and web sites) claim. Oh, and I hope some editorial staff at CBS and the Boston Globe (who was also misrepresenting the experts, and had their own parallel story about Bush's service record) lose their job over the stonewalling and misrepresentations.

How Many Debates?

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The Democrats are attacking Bush for supposedly wanting only two debates, dropping the third debate proposed the CPD.

In 1996, Clinton wanted only two debates, and dropped the third debate proposed by the CPD. FWIW.


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Dan Rather is attacking his attackers, saying the criticisms of potential forgery include "many who are partisan political operatives" and that "the public is smart enough to see from whom some of this criticism is coming and draw judgments about what the motivations are." He said the questions he asked -- some of which are supported only by these documents -- are not being answered, but instead the focus is on the documents that "were part of the support of the story."

The problem is that his story's lead was all about the documents: they were the main focus of his story. The problem is that the most substantive criticism is coming from family members and nonpartisan experts, many of whom were called in by fellow mainstream news agencies: AP, ABC, Washington Post. The problem is that the evidence against the documentary evidence against the memos is far greater than the evidence for it (heck, the only typographic evidence they even attempted to debunk was incorrect or missed the mark, and their only named expert is a handwriting expert, not a typography expert; and they still have not said whether they even have originals, and they have not released the better copies they claim to possess).

The problem is that CBS is now in the position of making a difficult case for something instead of trying to get to the truth of it. The problem is that CBS is rapidly losing credibility. The problem is that Dan Rather is unravelling and that his career may be in jeopardy.

(Note: this, like the previous JE, is under the News topic, not Politics. Please respect that and stay on topic. :-)

What Are You?

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The reason why Time and Newsweek have Bush 11 points up and others have him only a few points up is because of polling methodology differences.

You see, some people would have you believe polling is an essentially exact science. You get a good sample, ask good questions, and boom! You have your answer.

But real life is not that simple. Political pollsters weight their results based on different demographic factors. If 6% of respondents are black, but 12% of voters are black, then they increase the black respondents vote in the results accordingly. That mostly makes sense to most of us, I imagine.

They do the same thing with party affiliation. The thing is, we don't know party affiliation numbers. We have to guess. So what Zogby did is guess 39% Democrat, 35% Republican, 26% Independent (last three elections were, in order, 34-34-33, 39-34-27, 39-35-26). So Zogby is doing a reasonable scientific thing, and he comes out with results far closer than Time and Newsweek did. Newsweek had 31-38-31.

But just because it is a reasonable scientific thing, does that mean it is correct? No, because he's only guessing. Zogby says he came closest to outcome in 1996 and 2000, but that doesn't mean he is closest now. Maybe Time and Newsweek really did discover a party shift in the electorate. But the point is that party is not a constant like the other demographic figures are, and we can't assume it does not change, and in the end, they are all only guessing.

Only time will tell who was right. Less than 60 days' time, actually.


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It seems likely those Bush memos are forgeries. At the very least, that's where the evidence overwhelmingly points, and the burden of proof now rests with CBS to show they are not.

This has gone from a major CBS event one night, to -- all in the next 24 hours -- the independent journal sites, then to the independent news media (CNS News, WND), then to the major news (MSNBC, AP, CBS), including a front page story on the Washington Post.

Howie Kurtz contributed to the Post article, and he is the host of CNN's Reliable Sources, a program that airs on Sundays that critiques the news media. So I imagine CNN will be picking up the story too, and I am so gonna TiVo that show this week.

They have typographical evidence (looks like word processor), they have documentary evidence (questionable signatures), they have personal evidence (family and friends denying it). There's only one person who somewhat verified them, and he said only that the contents reflected in the memos were accurate, not that the memos themselves were authentic.

To me, this has almost nothing to do with Bush or Kerry. My degree is in journalism, and for years one of my little crusades is attacking improper and irresponsible use of sources: anonymous, unreliable, forged, whatever. I love seeing reporters slammed when they badly break the rules because it helps all of us see how we put way too much faith in what we see and hear, without critically examining it.

So I really want CBS to eat it hard on this one.

And I hope this causes more people to say, "the only reason we found out about these fakes is because they were so poorly done; we just as easily could have been fooled. So why are we believing all of this other junk about what happened 30 years ago that we can't verify?"


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Remember that video I made? The guy getting punched in the face called me today. It wasn't about the video or him getting punched, it was about volunteering for the Bush campaign. He was working at GOP HQ or something. But he called and told me his name and I recognized it. Hey, aren't you the guy ... ? And he was.

No, I didn't tell him about the video, although I do wish I had asked him what he said to the guy before he got punched.

Nader/CPD Update

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I heard Nader on radio tonight. He talked about the CPD, and how OpenDebates and the CDC were trying to get alternative debates.

He noted that the Democrats are using a lot of dirty tricks, including various lawsuits. In one, they said he should not be on the ballot, despite meeting all the requirements and getting all the signatures, because his campaign doesn't have much money in the bank! I missed that part of the election requirements, I guess ...

He said the GOP were gathering signatures for him in a few states, but that he turned them down.

When asked why the GOP didn't do this to Buchanan etc., Nader said he thinks it is because the GOP is used to third party candidates who make a run, while the Democrats aren't, so they try to fight it.

Vietnam Never Happened

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Every day a new story comes out damning Bush's or Kerry's record during the Vietnam War.

I don't know about you, but I just couldn't care less about any of it. Both sides are fully capable both of lying about themselves and their opponents, and it was before I was born, and none of it has any significant bearing on what is going on in the world today.

So, to save my sanity, as far as I am concerned -- for the time being -- the Vietnam War never happened.

Please join me in this crusade to be amnesiacs. We could temporarily change the name to Southeast Asia War Memorial, and pretend it is about the Korean War. We can do this, if we have the collective will!

iTunes Bias

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In iTunes Music Store, you can download, for free, speeches from the Republican and Democratic conventions. Not only are there a lot more "tracks" for the Democrats (30 vs. 21), but there's more than twice as much running time (12.5 hours vs. 5.5 hours).

I know Steve Jobs loves Democrats, but this blatant bias is a bit much.


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We have some new people here on the journal ... I'd just like to note we have some rules here. Basically, stay on topic, be rational, don't flame. I don't care what your views are as long as you follow those rules. Persistent violation will result in you being made my foe, which will prohibit you from posting new comments here.

I suppose "be rational" requires a bit of explanation: that essentially means don't use fallacious arguments ("It's Bush's fault the stock market crashed in March 2000, 10 months before he took office!"), and be prepared to provide sources and evidence for your claims.

Sunday Thoughts

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On Fox News Sunday, Bush advisor Matthew Dowd said yes, we need to make more progress in the economy, but asked what the alternative is. Would more taxes create jobs, give more home ownership? Kerry's advisor Tad Devine said:

The alternative is whether or not we want to go in a new direction or continue the failed policies of George Bush. Today, this country is spending $200 billion in Iraq. And that's why we can't begin to address the domestic agenda that the President puts forth in his ads. Until we stop spending $200 billion there of taxpayers money, we won't be able to address the problems here at home.
Kerry has said:

As complicated as Iraq seems, we've got three basic options:  one, we can continue to do this largely by ourselves and hope more of the same works; two, we can conclude it's not doable, pull out and hope against hope that the worst doesn't happen in Iraq; or three, we can get the Iraqi people and the world's major powers invested with us in building Iraq's future.
The problem is that Bush has been trying to do the third option as much as possible, and there is absolutely no indication whatsoever that Kerry could improve on that (pop quiz: name one country that might provide troops who has thus far refused).

Let's just note for the sake of argument that it is very possible that Kerry will be unsuccessful at getting the troops out as he plans. Is he saying that if he is unsuccessful, that he won't be able to, as President, address domestic problems? Why yes, he is.

It's a neat strategy: preemptive excuses. As President, I can't fix your problems, because I was saddled with this war! But he has been saying he can fix the problems created by the war, and now he is saying maybe he can't. So why vote for him, if the only way he can fix our problems is to rely on the help of allies who have consistently refused to help, and have given no indication they are willing to change their minds?



No one has ever won the Presidency being down in the polls by more than a point or two in September. On the other hand, no televised convention has ever been held this late in the season. On the other hand, the few polls we've seen don't even fully reflect the result of the convention (Kerry's final "bounce" numbers didn't come in until Tuesday or so following his convention speech, IIRC). On the other hand, the results of the Time and Newsweek polls that put Bush ahead by 11 points are being questioned (I'd dig up a link, but we'll find out how reasonable they are over the next week or two anyway, as more polls come out).


Preliminary ratings showed Fox News Channel (+7 million viewers) beat NBC, ABC, and CBS (+5m each). CNN (+2m) and MSNBC (+1m) followed. I watched mostly CSPAN and MSNBC. CSPAN does the best coverage of the speech, since they just show the actual event. MSNBC has some of the more interesting commentary IMO (I like the mix of Chris Matthews' shows, and they also had J.C. Watts).

I like the analysis on Fox too, but to a lesser degree, mostly because I have to work to avoid O'Reilly, and TV watching shouldn't be that much work (he says as he is taking notes while watching the Sunday shows ... :-).

Regardless, a cable channel beating the big three is pretty impressive.


Letterman: "On Monday, President Bush said we can't win the war on terrorism. Then on Tuesday, he said we will the war on terrorism. And earlier today, he predicted a tie."


Kerry's web site has 143 "lies" and "deceptions" from the GOP convention. The stench of desperation on this thing is so think it's triggering my gag reflex. The Democrat convention was probably pretty close to as full of the same kinds of "lies" and "deceptions," give or take a dozen.

(I am not saying the claim is false just because they do it too; that would be a fallacy. I am saying that the Democrats have no reasonable standing to make the claim, because they are just as guilty of it [just like their claim about Bush and illegal coordination with SBVT]. That is, maybe it's true, but I just don't care when it comes from them.)

Update: More Crazy

I forgot one more thing: on Meet the Press, new Kerry advisor James Carville addressed Zell Miller's speech last week at the RNC. Carville, who became a household name as an advisor to President Clinton, ran a campaign for Miller in the 90s, and Miller officiated at Carville's wedding to right-wing politico Mary Matalin.

Carville, wanting to attack the Republicans but not wanting to attack his longtime friend, blamed the Republicans for Miller's speech, saying they put him up there, they put words in his mouth, in the twilight of his career, and made him look like a fool. It's so sweet of him to avoid attacking his good friend by saying his a senile old man who couldn't possibly have really meant all those things. Matalin rolled her eyes and said Miller wrote his own speech.

Color Blind

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I was diagnosed with color blindness as a child. I was told I was red-green color blind. However, this never made much sense to me, because I can tell the difference between red and green ... or can I?

OK, yes, I can. But reds seem duller to me. I have what is sometimes called "red weakness." There are three basic photopigments (colors) we humans see: red, green, and blue. People with normal sight are trichromats, whereas people we normally think of as color blind are monochromats: they see no pigment at all, or only one color (usually blue, the shortest wavelength).

Then there's dichromats, who cannot see one of the three wavelengths. I'm a trichromat like most people, but an anomalous one. Specifically, I am protoanomalous trichromat, which means my red photoreceptors are abnormal.

This explains some of why my wife says I can't tell the difference between various colors, but she thought it was all in my mind, because I can tell the difference between red and green, despite my story about what the doctor told me when I was a kid. I showed her two pictures, showing what a normal person sees, and what someone like me sees. My problem isn't very acute, and I can see the number "2" in the normal picture, but I have to strain for it. I can see some difference between the two pictures, but it is very slight. My wife sees a significant difference between the two.

(BTW, I got these pictures from a web site that created them using a color filter from wickline.)

Paying for Bush's Proposals

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Bush has been criticized a lot for not really having a plan to pay for his proposals. This is a fair criticism.

The problem is, most of the people making this criticism are Kerry supporters, and Kerry has the exact same problem.

Kerry's plan is to repeal the income tax cuts on incomes over $200K, and give a 5% tax cut to all corporations. I've not seen any breakdown on the net of these two, but surely they cancel each other out quite a bit. And Kerry wants to increase spending a lot more than Bush on two of the biggest expenditures, education and Medicare. So he is proposing not much more revenue, and a lot more spending, than what we have now, and still says he will significantly cut the deficit.

I've not seen a real breakdown of who would spend more, Bush or Kerry, but neither one of them is proposing significant cutting or additional revenue that would counteract their spending. Both are promising big handouts and tax cuts for businesses and telling us they will pay for it by an improved ecomony that will make businesses more profitable which will increase the amount they pay in taxes, which would be nice, but is something that's hard to count on, since the President can't just will that to happen.

So yeah, Bush can't pay for his proposals, but neither can Kerry. They are both selling the farm. Us fiscal conservatives are weeping. But we knew what we were getting when we voted for Bush in 2000, so it's not like we're surprised, but we still think he was better than Gore would have been, and better than Kerry would be.

Civil Rights and Republicans

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On PBS News Hour tonight, they interviewed some voters, and one black man said of the GOP: "I don't trust their party. I look at historically ... they were not for civil rights, they were not for women's rights ..."

Dammit, this is just false. More Republicans -- as a percentage -- than Democrats supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964. There were more Democrats in the House, but 79% of Republicans (136-35), as opposed to 63% of Democrats (153-91), voted for the Act, and it never would have passed without the support of the Republicans. And Eisenhower laid the groundwork for the civil rights act, in the 60s.

As to women's rights, the GOP *started* women's rights, first proposing the ERA in the 20s, and included it in their platform for many years. It was the Democrats who blocked it. The GOP reversed and opposed it in the 80s, largely because it was no longer necessary: not that women were treated equally, but the law and precedent was clear enough that the ERA was rightly considered redundant.

"Historically," the GOP actually has a much better overall history than the Democrats on civil rights. Of course, the question is: what have you done for me lately? And here, the GOP has had a bit of a rocky road (for many reasons, both good and bad). But so have the Democrats; they just do a better job of faking it.


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I was chastised today because I told a joke about Kerry. I won't repeat it here, because the reason I told it there and not here in the first place was that many people would take it the wrong way, either getting mad at me for perpetuating something of questionable truth, or use it as a vehicle to launch attacks against Kerry, and I don't want any of that. It's not worth the trouble.

So I was accused of being susceptible to propaganda just because I told a joke that may or may not have been based on truth. Truth doesn't matter, though: it's just a joke! It is funny because it is based on our perceptions, not on truth.

The Daily Show does this all the time. Last night it showed four men who spoke at the RNC on Wednesday night, including white congressmen and senators Rick Santorum, Rob Portman, Bill Frist, and Mitch McConnell. Jon Stewart introduced the segment by saying, "the GOP stepped back from their celebration of diversity to offer their more traditional pageant of 'whiteosity.'" Ha, funny, because it plays on our perception of the Republicans as a bunch of white people. But what he didn't mention or show was that following McConnell was Elaine Chao. She is McConnell's wife, she's Asian, she's the U.S. Secretary of Labor, and she spoke for longer than Santorum, Portman, or McConnell. Nor did they mention that the evening's presiding Deputy Permanent Chair of the Convention was Michael Steele, a black man, and Lt. Gov. of Maryland.

What TDS did last night, and on many other nights, was no closer to the truth than what I said about Kerry, so why take issue, or look to deeper meaning? Granted, I am not a professional comedian. On the other hand, neither is Samantha Bee (oh, she is? huh, color me fooled!). Regardless, it was still obvious I was joking.

I am not saying The Daily Show sucks. Sometimes I think they go too far against the right wing, but whatever: they are jokes. Some work, some don't, but they should not be confused for the truth.

There are two related problems here, both centering around the problem of people taking jokes seriously. The first is that people get mad at you for telling a joke that isn't accurate, if they are somehow the butt of it. The second is that if the joke is in line with your existing biases, then you believe it's true, even if it is not.

I'm not picking on my friend who chastised me. I only spent time writing about it because I see a pattern out there. I'm sure a lot of viewers of TDS will walk away thinking, hey, everyone speaking at the convention on Wednesday night was white! That's because people are stupid. We all need to stop taking jokes so damned seriously, and stop taking seriously people who do take jokes seriously. Or something.

CPD Again

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I know he's trolling, but this is just too funny. He attacks me, so I ban him (as I have banned him before ... hell, the fact that he is evading a ban by changing nicknames is reason enough to ban him, but I decided to let him have a second chance).

So he says, "Many of us believe ... that you and those who hold your political opinions are not only incorrect, but dangerously neglegent (sic)." That "many of us" is him. He's said it before. Then he says, "If that's true ... you are not intelligent ... blah blah." His defense is that he used the conditional IF that is true. But he says it IS true, so the conditional is irrelevant to whether or not it is attacking of me: he is saying, "I believe you are not intelligent." This is too funny.

Then he tries to suck me in by attacking my employer and family, which just proves he is either trolling or insane. I am not sure which, and I don't much care. He's clearly proven himself incapable of not being attacking, insulting, and irrational, so he is gone. He's been discussed here several times before, and this is the last time. :-)

But the real reason I posted this is because he is completely delusional about the Commission on Presidential Debates! Now the conventions are over, and I wanted to bring them up again, and his lunatic ranting provides the opportunity. Look, this is simple fact: the CPD was created by the two parties, and it exists to serve them. There is no CPD apart from them. The CPD doesn't even attempt to enforce anything on the parties.

That they announce the debate dates is only a way to try to feign compliance with federal regulations about how the debates are sponsored. The way this works every election year since 1988 is that the two candidates get together and negotiate all the terms of the debate. Everything. Including the dates and number of debates. The CPD does not make that decision, and never has. Sometimes they accept the numbers and dates offered by the CPD, sometimes not.

Even in 1992 when Perot was in the debates, it was only because Bush wanted him in, and Perot was not allowed to negotiate. He was an invited guest of the Bush and Clinton campaigns, who made all the decisions, down to the sizes of podiums. Then in 1996, Dole's people gave Clinton everything he wanted -- including allowing one of the debates to be moved to the same night as the baseball playoffs, so fewer people would see it -- just to keep Perot out of the debates.

The CPD doesn't care, as long as the two candidates are happy. This year will be nothing different. It's not Bush's fault, anymore than it is Kerry's, or Clinton's, or Dole's, or Bush's, etc. It's a problem with both parties that needs to be fixed.

Pre-Weekend Thoughts

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I had a busy week. On Wednesday I went to the Evergreen State Fair, manning the booth for the Snohomish County GOP. A lot of foot traffic went by -- especially when the rains came down hard -- and there was a lot of positive response.

One of the main goals was to get people registered to vote. Almost everyone I talked to was registered, except a 20-year-old kid who was registering for the first time, and a Canadian woman who liked the Bush buttons (she didn't seem to have much opinion either way about Bush, but wanted one because she knew it would tweak many of her fellow Canucks back home).

Some people were undecided, and wanted to pick up some information, especially about local races. I noted that the big local candidates for the GOP are Dino Rossi for governor and George Nethercutt for Senate (I am voting for Reed Davis in the primary, but I have no illusions about who's going to win it). A woman asked if Rossi was pro-small business. Oh yeah. So many people are aching for some sanity in the state's policies toward business and taxation, and Rossi is the candidate for that. And being a social moderate, I think he has a great chance to win.

There were very few negative responses. One older man, a Democrat, complained that Bush is dividing the country. He can't talk to his Republican friends anymore, and won't let another Republican on his boat. I wanted to ask him if Bush sent him a personal letter telling him to not let Republicans on his boat, else how is that his fault? But I smiled, said yes, the country is divided, that people on both sides are angry, and left it at that.

On Thursday I had a Party for the President at my house. I signed up at Bush's web site, and invited some friends, and other people could go to the web site and ask to be invited, which some did. There weren't a lot of people, but it was worthwhile for those that did. A family in town showed up and a friend from further south came. Some more people wanted to come, but couldn't, including a couple across the street who thought they were the only Republicans in the neighborhood until they saw our yard signs. This is what I'm talking about.

The speeches at the convention were very good. I think Bush is gonna get a big "bounce" out of this, especially considering the job news today: 144,000 new jobs in August, a drop of 0.1% in the unemployment rate (to 5.4%). This is not great job news, but it is not bad news, which for Bush right now, is good news. It makes it look like the much lower numbers of June and July were not a trend, and that the economy is still moving forward.

But the speeches ... man. McCain, Giuliani, and Arnold all hit home runs. Cheney was solid. Bush was very good. And Zell Miller ... look, if you're on the left, you think he sucked because he was attacking you. But most of the rest of the country, who is not already on your side or against Bush, loved it.

The left is trying to make Miller look like Dean, and actually complaining that the media is not portraying him the same way. But the difference is that almost everyone, right or left, who saw Dean on TV thought he looked crazy. Miller's speech was not like that at all. He was powerful, summoning a convincing righteous anger with a purpose. You may think he was crazy, but most people don't see it that way, so complaining that the media doesn't portray him as crazy is just dumb. Don't be dumb.

Don't forget: you can get all the major DNC speeches and most of the RNC speeches (more to come today, I'm sure, as they finish preparing them) on iTunes Music Store, for free.

Ron Silver

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I was watching MSNBC post-convention, and Jeaneane Garofalo was on, so I fast-forwaded through it, until I saw her talking to Ron Silver. Hoping he would smack her down, I watched a bit. She started by flattering him, saying how smart a guy he is, but she's been listening to him, and she just couldn't see how he could think, you know, it drives her crazy that ...

He interjects, "I'm not smart enough to agree with you?"

This is what I'm saying.

Not that I want to dwell on her, because she is not worth my time, but I just wanted to say: thank you, Mr. Silver.

John Kerry Major Slip

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Tonight John Kerry said the Red Sox are 2.5 games behind the Yankees. They are behind 3.5 games. This is just more of John Kerry either lying to make things look worse than they are for his opponents, or simply not knowing what he is talking about. And frankly, the latter is a lot worse, because every Red Sox fan on the planet knows exactly how many games back the Sox are right now, and he says he's a Red Sox fan. That kind of slip-up could lose him MA's electoral votes. And I am only half-kidding.


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From kikta: SMS messaging for the protestors.

From jamie: 'a mob is chanting "Shut up!" at the Fox News Headquarters' ... now that's protest
<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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