January 2008 Archives

The Best

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Yesterday Brett Favre beat Tom Brady out for Fedex Air Player of the Year, an award voted on by the fans for the best quarterback of the year.

Now, I love Brett Favre. He is perhaps my favorite non-Patriots football player of all time.

So this isn't about him, specifically.

And frankly, I don't even care about these awards, no matter who votes for them. They are meaningless to me, specifically because they obviously don't mean anything.

Because no matter how you slice it, Tom Brady was the best quarterback of the year. And not even just of the year: he arguably had the best season any quarterback has ever had. More wins, more touchdowns, least interceptions versus touchdowns, in history (his TDs-over-INTs is even greater than the total TDs any other QB has ever had in a season, except for Peyton Manning and Dan Marino). Second best passer rating in history. Third most yards in history.

And oh yeah: HE NEVER LOST.

It's a similar situation for the Motorola coach of the year, which the Packers coach won. Again, fan voting. And again, I have nothing against the coach (mostly because I don't even know his name). He did a fine job.

But Bill Belichick had not only the best season this year, but arguably the best ever, for any coach. Again: HE NEVER LOST.

I am a big Pats fan, and have been all my life. But I am no fanboy. Until this season, I thought Brady was a great QB, but not necessarily The Best QB. But this year, without a doubt, he was The Best QB.

I can really see only two rational explanations for the voting.

The first is the obvious: the voters are stupid. We can beat around the bush, but I prefer to call a spade, a spade. Again, it's not personal, but the facts could not be more clear.

The second makes more sense, but is probably less likely: the fans recognized the Patriots were great, loved them for it, and wanted to give them even more motivation for Sunday's game, as if any were needed.

Yeah, it's a stretch, but at least it makes some sense, unlike Favre and Packers Coach beating out Brady and Belichick.

Earmark Reform

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In his State of the Union address last night, President Bush said all future earmarks that are not passed as law will be ignored by the Executive branch.

This is clearly his right: Congress can pass laws, but they have no other power to dictate how the Executive does its job. If a bill's report says "give $30 billion on Acme Inc. to make anti-terrorist widgets," but that is not in the actual bill, then it is not law, and not binding on the Executive.

A spokesman for Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) says:

It is hypocritical that President Bush is considering issuing an executive order on a spending bill passed by a Democratic Congress with bipartisan support while failing to do so with spending bills passed by Republican Congresses in the past.

I don't know if hypocritical is quite the right word (it depends on his reasons for not doing so before), but I mostly agree: my first reaction was "finally, even if it is several years late." And it may not have any effect at all, if no more spending bills reach Bush. So it is an essentially valid criticism of the President, to my eyes, but it doesn't argue against what he did (just what he didn't).

That's OK, the Republicans offer such criticism, via spokesman for Thad Cochran (R-MS):

Just as Congress takes the president's budget request under very careful advisement, so should the president honor the report language Congress writes to accompany bill text. Requiring all budget specifics to be included in bill text would be highly inefficient and would cripple an already difficult budget process.

I don't have any sympathy whatsoever for someone who complains that following the Constitution is inconvenient. Congress takes action through passing bills. There should be no shortcuts, period, because every shortcut they take is less power the citizens have.

For what it's worth, my second favorite moment of the address was when Bush said, "On matters of justice, we must trust in the wisdom of our founders and empower judges who understand that the Constitution means what it says." And then during the applause, he looked down with disdain toward the front row, at Justice Stephen Breyer, who wrote a book explaining why he ignores the Constitution.

OK, I am the one who looked at Breyer with disdain at that moment, but still. slashdot.org

Your Other Right

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Boston vs. New York

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The last time a New York team beat a Boston team was was November 24, 2007, two months ago today. The NY Islanders beat the Boston Bruins 2-1. The Bruins are 6-1 against NY teams this season, including four in a row, and three in the last week.

The last time a NY team beat the Boston Celtics was also November 24, but in 2006. The Knicks won 101-77. That sounds like a lot, until you realize that just over a year later, the Celtics beat the Knicks 104-59. Ouch. The Knicks lost again to the Celtics a few days ago.

In baseball, the Yankees beat the Red Sox in their last meeting of 2007, on September 16th, 4-3. The Yankees even won the season series 8-10. However, the Red Sox won the division and, of course, the World Series, and the last time they faced in the playoffs, the Red Sox won 4-3, in the greatest comeback/choke in American sports history.

The Patriots last lost to a NY team last season, also in November 2006, when the Jets won in Foxboro, 17-14, though the Patriots later that year beat them in the first round of the playoffs, 37-16. It was the first NY win against the Patriots since December 2002. That win put the Jets into the playoffs instead of the Patriots. It was the only time the Patriots didn't go to the playoffs since winning the Super Bowl in 2001.

All told, since the last year a NY team won a title (the Yankees in 2000), Boston teams are a combined 113-103-10 against NY teams in the regular season, and are 8-7 against them in playoff games (2-1 in playoff series), with five titles, and they have not lost to any New York team in two months, with a combined 19-11 record over NY teams in the most recent and current seasons.

Now, don't you feel better informed?

Sorry LT

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Impeachment Revisited

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Washington State legislators want to impeach the President. Some say this is not the state's business, but it is true that House rules allow states to submit requests for impeachment. So that's all fine.

What isn't fine, however, is that this bill is nonsense. Now, of course, Congress can impeach for any reason it wishes. But that doesn't mean those reasons can't be bad ones. And the three cases it attempts to make are uniformly bad.


Indeed, the author of the bill tells a half-truth right off the bat: the bill claims that a bipartisan Senate investigation into the use of prewar intelligence (S.Rep. 109-330) found that Bush was "misleading" and "deceptive." In fact, most of the Republicans disagreed with the report's conclusions (the "additional views" section of the report takes up 40 percent of the report: 125 pages vs. 83), and the Chair of the committee -- in a virtually unprecedented move -- wrote an addendum to the report that essentially called the Democrats liars. How is that bipartisan, let alone conclusive?

Here is what Chairman Roberts wrote, in his dispute of the findings, on page 130 (his emphasis), and joined by five of the other seven Republicans on the committee:

The adopted conclusions are not supported by fact. Taken as a whole, they misrepresent the [Iraq National Congress'] relationship to the Intelligence Community, leaving the impression that the INC (with the knowledge and acquiescence of intelligence officials and policy makers) intentionally provided the Intelligence Community with false information in an effort to push the United States to war with Iraq. These conclusions -- and the misconceptions they support -- are a myth.

Obviously, the implication that the conclusions stated by Senator Rockefeller are "bipartisan" is misleading at best. Yes, it was a bipartisan commission, but most of the Republicans disagreed with its conclusions. And Roberts is right: the evidence of deceit simply isn't there.

The second and third claims feed off the first: Bush and Cheney lied to Congress and the public. Again, there is no serious evidence to back this up.


The fourth and fifth claims are about warrantless wiretapping. This brings us to two fundamental flaws of logic. For starters, they are asking Congress to impeach the President for something that the Congress knew about beforehand, and did not try to prevent. That is nonsensical on its face.

But additionally, there is a real legal disagreement about whether the wiretapping program was legal. This is something that should be decided by the Supreme Court, not Congress. And if the Supreme Court finds against the President, then impeachment should not follow unless the President continues in that course of action. If we allow Congress to threaten impeachment over a valid legal disagreement, then we are in effect ceding the President's obligation and authority to interpret the law and the Constitution for the Executive branch to the Legislative branch, which is a serious violation of the separation of powers.

There's a reason why the Democrats never took the warrantless wiretapping to the Supreme Court: it didn't want to lose. I personally think that the case is significantly stronger against wiretapping than for it, but the Democrats didn't want to turn this into a legal dispute. They wanted to keep it rhetorical.


The sixth claim has the same flaw, except that in this case, it did go to court, and the President lost: the Supreme Court ruled that a citizen cannot lose his rights by being declared an enemy combatant. However, again, this was a reasonable legal dispute, as Bush pointed to lots of precedent that supported the position. I disagreed with Bush's position, and am glad that the Supreme Court overruled him, but it would be a violation of separation of powers to say that Bush should not have done it just because Congress said so.


And that's it: half-truths, complaining about things the Congress conceded to beforehand, and attempting to violate the separation of powers. That is what all of the articles of impeachment I've ever seen drafted against Bush amount to.

Now, bill sponsor Eric Oemig would likely object and say, especially in regard to the first claim, "there's a lack of evidence, but that is what impeachment is for, to investigate." He argues in the text of the bill, "if the President and/or members of his administration committed such offenses, ignoring these offenses would undermine core American values of truth and justice." But this has already been investigated. And there remains no evidence.

Ths is not about "core American values of truth and justice." It's about attacking President Bush. And that's fine and all, but trying to couch this in facts that don't exist, and arguments that are not logical, is not. slashdot.org

Fool Me Once ...

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Members of the IVAW (Iraq Veterans Against the War) are claiming that their unit commanders encouraged them to commit war crimes, and that these decisions are coming from the top down. They are having an event in March, and calling it "Winter Soldier."

This may remind you of 1971, when members of the VVAW (Vietnam Veterans Against the War) claimed that their unit commanders encouraged them to commit war crimes, and that these decisions were coming from the top down. They had an event called Winter Soldier, in which they presented these claims.

The problem is, the Winter Soldier event in 1971 contained many half-truths and even downright lies. That's not to say everything was a lie, of course; indeed, we know some of it was true. But you couldn't know from listening which was which, and without evidence, none of it could be trusted. We have many examples of incorrect and unverifiable claims, as well as claims that soldiers were pressured into saying they saw things they didn't see.

And the events themselves are only part of the story. VVAW, as IVAW is doing now, tried to create a larger narrative for which absolutely no evidence existed. For example, you may recall John Kerry saying the atrocities were "not isolated incidents, but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis," and that they were committed "with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command." No evidence exists to support either claim. Nor is there evidence to support his claim that black soldiers died more than whites.

My point is, of course, not that IVAW members are lying. My point is that nothing they say is to be trusted without verifiable facts. This is, of course, no different from anyone else. We should always demand proof. But when the honor of the other vets is at stake, we should be even more cautious than usual.

It's very simple. If the IVAW, or anyone else, complains about atrocities, ask for evidence. If they provide none, or if what they provide is weak and insufficient for belief, then ignore their complaints. slashdot.org

On Up Front with Robert Mak, Governor Gregoire was asked if the replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct is the biggest public safety threat in Seattle, why has nothing been done for the last seven years, including three years with her as governor?

Gregoire said, yes, it is the most threat, and that there were two reasons why it's not been fixed yet: first, because Transportation was not reporting directly to her until 2005, and second, because if they didn't do environmental impact studies, they'd get sued.

Unfortunately, she does not take the next logical step and say that our current environmental impact study process is clearly doing more potential harm than good. So we'll continue to waste time and money and, potentially, lives, by bowing to the altar of Gaia. Of course, that's not to say that we should completely ignore the environment. But we clearly take it way too far, often doubling the time and cost of projects, for no clear benefit whatsoever. slashdot.org

As Eric Earling noted the other day, Maralyn Chase (D-Econuts) has been busy. But her ban on plastic grocery bags is just the beginning.

You may have heard about her carbon tax, or her use of the carbon tax to subsidize other businesses. But that sort of socialist redistribution of wealth is old hat, right?

You may also have heard of her bill to ban plastic water bottles; why should grocery bags have all the fun? She also wants to ban non-recyclable fast food packaging.

But by far, my personal favorite is requiring retailers of small-scale gas-powered equipment to give equal or greater shelf space and signage to electrical or battery alternatives, plus requiring that all state government agencies purchase the non-gas alternatives, and pays local governments to follow suit. The department of general administration will cease use of all gas-powered lawnmowers, string trimmers, and weed blowers by October 1, 2008. Oh, and it levies an additional six percent tax on all such gas-powered equipment.

If you have enough land such that electric and battery equipment is impractical, well, you shouldn't have that much land, of course! And if you sell a lot more gas equipment than electrical or battery equipment because there's many more gas models and no one wants the others, well, don't worry: the six percent tax will make up for your wasted floor space. That's how it works ... right?

And if any of you are passing by a Home Depot or somesuch, please count the number of different types of lawnmowers available. I'm curious. slashdot.org

"A Few Words in Defense of Our Liberals" is a combination parody/response to Randy Newman's song, "A Few Words in Defense of Our Country," performed at the keynote for Macworld Expo 2008.

Let me say up front that if you have a problem with anything in here, well, blame Randy, because nothing I said was any worse, or any less reasonable, than what he said.

I am not the musician he is, but hey, I get paid a lot less. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OldToIF5ZGs for the original video for his song, from last January. The slightly different lyrics were posted in the NY Times that same month as an op-ed, at http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/24/opinion/24newman.html .

Enjoy! And laugh a little! Just because Randy's ticked off, doesn't mean we have to be, no matter what your political persuasion.


Lyrics:

I'd like to say a few words
In defense of our liberals
Our liberals ain't bad, nor are they mean
The liberal leaders they have
While they are pretty bad
Are hardly the worst this poor world has seen

Let's turn history's pages, shall we?

Take Mao, for example
Why, within the first few years of him
He had criminalized free speech
Ruled from the side of his Forbidden City swimming pool
And presided over the executions of millions of people

A few years later
He outlawed private food production, and millions more died
That's like, single-payer agriculture, or something
That's not a very good example right now, is it?

But here's one
The Eastern European Soviet occupation
Put people in a terrible position
I don't even like to think about it
Well, sometimes I like to think about it

Just a few words in defense of our liberals
Whose time at the top
Could be coming to an end
Now we don't want their love
And respect for their views is out of the question
But in times like these
We sure could use a friend

Hitler
Stalin
Liberals who need no introduction
Fidel Castro, that's right
Liberals think he's so great
Well he took control of Cuba
He jailed and killed thousands of people
Just for speaking their mind
Or being suspected of having one
But hey man, now Cubans are equal
And desperate

A president once said,
"A man has a property in his opinions"
Now you are required to agree to give your property to someone else
It's patriotic in fact, and compassionate
And if you don't play along?
There's the government men with the guns
That's what the Second Amendment is for, isn't it?
That's what it used to be for


The end of socialism is messy at best
And this plunderous state is ending
Like all the rest
Like French automobiles, engulfed on the streets
We're engulfed in the land of the brave
And the home of the free

Goodbye. Goodbye. Goodbye.

As reported in the Herald, Rep. Dan Kristiansen has proposed three bills to raise revenue to fix "safety corridors," including U.S. 2. A key passage in the article -- damning to Democrats, if only people will wake up and pay attention to what's going on -- is this: "... Kristiansen is a Republican operating in a Democrat-controlled Legislature whose leaders know that he's opposed the last two increases in gas taxes for road projects around the state. Neither one contained funds for U.S. 2 partly because of his opposition."

Again, the simple fact of the matter is that the state has been able to fix U.S. 2, but has failed to do so, and people have been dying because of it. That's indisputable, and bad enough. But that Democrats are failing to fix U.S. 2, and therefore allowing people to die, over partisanship -- not just in the opinion of Republicans, but stated as fact by reporters at the left-leaning Herald -- is simply unconscionable. slashdot.org

If you like laughing at Tom Cruise and/or Scientology, this video is for you. slashdot.org

Chug Chug Chug

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A science teacher got in trouble for asking some of schoolkids to drink a gallon of milk. I am not entirely sure, but I think the point was to show that it would make you sick.

I once, in high school, tried to drink a half gallon of ketchup, during lunchtime. That's 64 ounces. A gallon of milk is, therefore, 128 ounces. The human stomach can hold maybe a gallon, but don't bet on it. I could only get in about 60 ounces of ketchup on an empty stomach. Shortly after I gave up, I ... gave it up. The acid in the ketchup didn't play nice with the acid in my stomach and I vomited most of it into a garbage can.

After lunch the dean of students called me into his office and tried, but failed, to reprimand me. He first said it was gross, I said well yeah, but I didn't know I'd vomit it up. Maybe I should have, but I didn't. He said it was dangerous. I asked how, and he said I could get have gotten sick. Well, first, I'd survive, and second, I threw it up anyway. Then he said I could have inhaled it. Trying to stifle my laughter as much as possible, I informed the dean that I'd been drinking liquids all my life and was pretty good at it by now.

I've many times ingested large quantities of milk, including whole quarts in mere seconds (I think my record was 8 seconds). But two quarts -- which I tried -- didn't get all the way down and made me ill.

So anyway, short story just a little bit longer, that teacher should have known better. It was only going to result in sick kids and bad news for the teacher. slashdot.org

First National Change Party

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I know it's long over -- a whole five days ago -- but just for fun, I wanted to count the uses of the word "change" in the Democratic debate last weekend.

(No, I didn't count by hand ... I'm a Perl programmer!)

The exact word "change" appears 68 times, out of 16,786 words (0.4 percent of all words used). After removing common words -- "the," "to," "and," "I," etc. -- only four words were used more often than "change": "know," "think," "people," and "President." If you add in variants ("changes," "changing"), then "change" appears 80 times, beating out "President."

The scorecard was: Clinton 27, Edwards 18, Obama 16, Richardson 7, WMUR anchor Scott Spralding 7, ABC anchor Charles Gibson 5.

And yet, the only things I know of that any of them want to change is increasing the amount of government control over our lives.

It's not that I am against change. But I am against a philosophy of change for the sake of change. And that is what I am hearing, especially out of Edwards and Clinton. Most things do not need change. Most things are just fine. Most things are better than bad: they're good.

It is, frankly, intellectually offensive to me to be running on a platform of "change," because I don't want someone who is going to be for change, I want someone who is going to be for specific changes ... and will leave everything else alone.

Clinton says, "I am offering 35 years of experience making change and the results to show for it." It brings to mind the old SNL skit for First Citiwide Change Bank, a bank that does nothing except make exact change: "All the time, our customers ask us, 'How do you make money doing this?' The answer is simple: Volume. That's what we do."

Or, at least, it's what they want to do. slashdot.org

Washington GOP Caucuses

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The Washington GOP precinct caucuses are coming up on February 9th, four days after "Super Duper Tuesday." If the GOP nomination is still up for grabs after February 5th, Washington becomes very important.

However, it is even more complicated here than in Iowa.

In Iowa, the Democrats select delegates by precinct based on which candidate they support. The Republicans just straight-up vote for their candidates.

But in Washington -- speaking for the Republicans, not sure about the Democrats -- we elect delegates as individuals. We can consider their presidential preference if we want to (the rules state that each delegate nominee shall state their preference, or declare themselves uncommitted), but we still elect the delegate, and the candidate preference is not binding.

Further, this only determines who goes to the county convention. Even if 1/4 of the precincts send all Ron Paul delegates, those delegates then have to get elected at the county convention to get to state, and it is theoretically conceivable that none of them would go. Same thing at the state level, to be a national delegate.

And to top it all off, this only accounts for half of Washington's national delegates to the Republican convention; the other half are determined by the statewide primary on February 19.

The Democratic part of that primary, however, does not count for anything. At all. It's a big waste of taxpayer money and time. The Democratic delegates are selected entirely by caucus/convention.

Washington state law requires a Presidential primary be held, but -- because it would be an unconstitutional infringement on the right to association -- does not require that it actually have any meaning. Indeed, it states right in the law (not that such permission is needed, as it is a First Amendment right) that a party may base its allocation of delegates based in whole or in part on the party's caucus and convention process.

And, of course, the Democrats have chosen to do that in whole, and the Republicans to do that in part.

So there's a state law that says "we must have a presidential primary, even if it is not used for anything." Kinda silly. And it also makes the primary results very unpredictable, since many Democrats, knowing the Democratic primary is meaningless, may vote in the Republican primary instead (as is happening in Florida right now, for different reasons, but the same result: the Democratic primary means nothing, and the Republican primary counts for only half).

There is an oath you must sign to vote in the primary, however, and someone who is a Democrat, or who has participated in the Democratic caucus in 2008, cannot vote in the Republican primary unless they lie on their oath.

Complicated. slashdot.org

Hot on the heels of passing R-67, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is now trying to pass universal health care for everyone in the state of Washington.

Now, I go in skeptical, for two reasons: first, I despise the idea of universal health care, and second, Kreidler has already proven he is a bit loose with the truth.

And I wasn't disappointed. Well, I was, but only because I wasn't.


On Upfront with Robert Mak, Kreidler described the plan for state-controlled coverage for catastrophic care, "something over 10 or 20 thousand dollars in a given year, along some minimal level of what might be considered preventive such as an annual physical, immunizations, cancer screening, that type of minimal level, guaranteeing for everybody in the state of Washington that level of health care."

Mak's first question was about cost. Kreidler responded, "well it's not cheap, that's for certain, but we're all paying for it right now, it's not as if we're adding new money to the system; what we're doing is making sure that we have some form of assessment so that it's fair and it's equitable and broad-based, and whatever mechanism that might be, payroll tax or whatever it might be, is essentially supplanting what we're paying for already."

When Mak asked about employer-offered care, Kreidler responded, "I think what employers will find ... is that it's going to be easier for them to provide routine health care by virtue of the fact that the major medical -- the unexpected, catastrophic-type costs -- are taken care of."

Kreidler added, "this is going to be done ... all the way through private insurance ... if you like the insurance you have today, keep it and stay with it ... you will effectively have a regular routine health insurance, and then you would have the catastrophic coverage that is guaranteed to everybody in the state of Washington."


Wow. So, to recap to this point, based on what Kreidler said:

1. It won't cost any more money than what it costs right now. Raise your hand if you actually believe this. Then slap yourself with it.

2. It won't actually replace employer care, because it is not complete. It just covers most reasons you would go to the doctor, not all. And Kreidler thinks that it will free up money by your employer to use for expanded health care or other benefits for you. If you believe this and your hand is still upraised, slap yourself again. (Not even Kreidler believes this, since he already said we're not adding new money to the system.)

3. If you have an out-of-state employer, as I do, then you're in even worse shape: there is virtually no chance that I'll get any increased benefit or salary adjustment due to decreased health care cost to the company. In fact, I'll probably have to pay the same amount for my health care, because it's a group cost: every employee in every state pays the same, so chances are, people like me will be paying twice as much -- the same as before, plus the new taxes -- for health care.

4. If you want to "opt out" you're in the same boat: you still have to pay the taxes, of course. Plus, Kreidler also wants to try again to get control over the individual coverage market, which means you'll probably have a lot fewer choices there.

5. It will likely require an income/payroll tax. Rage ... growing ...

6. It applies to everyone in Washington, apparently including non-citizens, and people here illegally.

7. It is a separate insurance policy. Not only will this be a logistical nightmare, with your insurance policies battling out which policy covers something -- and yes, this will happen even if it is the same insurance company, because the policies are paid by two different payers -- but it relies on the private insurance companies actually deciding to play this new, complicated, game. Don't count on it; the companies might decide to just not play. You might lose your insurance company.

Feel free to add to the list.


One thing I don't know is how much control the governor has over any of this. Basically, how much can Governor Rossi do to help fix the problems? slashdot.org slashdot.org

New Hampshire Debates

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Edwards says that every time you talk about change, the "forces of status quo" come out to attack you, and directly implied that because he was for change and Hillary was attacking him, why, she must be for the status quo!

And then he said -- this is just boggling -- that the issue of lobbyists is very personal to him. Lobbyists. I can see abortion, or war, or taxes, or many other issues being very personal to you. But ... lobbyists? There is nothing inherently good or bad about lobbyists. Everyone who petitions the government on behalf of others is a lobbyist. That is part of any representative system.

I said it four years ago, and I'll say it again: Edwards is either really stupid, or he really disrespects the intelligence of the public.

The Democratic debate last night most prominently featured the candidates arguing about which of them had the best self-narrative. "I am for change," "I am for experience," "I am for freedom of choice," "I am for helping everyone." They really didn't talk about the issues much, it was mostly an argument about who has the best way of approaching the issues, who has the best story, who has the best image.

And incredibly, Hillary closed her comments with a claim that the Democrats covered the issues better than the Republicans.

Not that the Republicans were great, but they mostly stuck to the issues and ideas, and not to the personalities or personal stories or narratives.

Shrug.


Oh well, I expect a lot less tonight, not because I think Chris Wallace isn't as good as Chuck Gibson (I think he is quite a bit better), but because the fix is already in. They have excluded Ron Paul, signifying that this debate is for the nation, not for New Hampshire, and the New Hampshire GOP thus withdrew its support of the debate. Very poor decision by Fox, and undermines the whole thing.

Heck, if I were a GOP candidate attending, I would consider not going at all, and absolutely would speak out against the decision. slashdot.org

The Davos Question

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My response to The Davos Question.

http://youtube.com/thedavosquestion

Desperation Breeds Delusion

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John Edwards said that because of the Iowa results, it is now a two-man race -- literally, two men, Edwards and Obama.

That doesn't even make sense on the surface: Edwards only beat Clinton by 0.28 percent, and she actually leaves Iowa with MORE national delegates than Edwards, because of her strong showing in Iowa's Fifth Congressional District. So even though she came in a very close third, she actually did better than Edwards, who came in second.

So in fact, Hillary came in second in the way it counts: she has the second most national delegates in the state. And that is not even counting "super delegates," where she is far outpacing both Edwards and Obama.

But even if none of that were true, even if Edwards had left Iowa with more delegates -- in, or out, of Iowa -- than Clinton, it is still nonsensical to count her out, as obviously she is far stronger in many other states than she is in Iowa.

Of course, if you are reading this, you probably already know that. And that's the point: everyone knows that. So why would Edwards say that she is out of the race? It can only be for one reason: he's desperate, so he is resorting to baldfaced lying in the hope he can peel off some more votes.

And that typifies Edwards. He pretends he is the antiwar candidate, despite cosponsoring the authorization for the use of force. He pretends he defends the "little guy," when his extremely lucrative career was made on exploiting the "little guy." He acts like he is experienced, when he has spent only one term in the Senate. Then he acts like he is an unknown outsider (a speech he gave yesterday bragged about coming in second against two "rock star" candidates) despite being on the national ticket just over three years ago.

I've said it before, and it is unfortunately true: I would much rather have Hillary as President than Edwards. Those who know me -- even a little -- know that this isn't much about Clinton, but a lot about Edwards, and nothing good. But I would love to see him win the nomination, because he is such an easy target for the GOP. Too bad he has no chance. slashdot.org

The State Over The Individual

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So WillAffleckWU says I am "a Royalist and avowed hater of our Freedoms and Rights, after all, not to mention a combat avoider" and that I have "ill-informed neoconservative opinions."

I am about the farthest thing from any reasonable definition of "royalist," for whatever he could possibly mean by that. I've never in my life taken a single action to avoid combat. None of my opinions are neoconservative, and as to ill-informed, well, no moreso than anyone else's. I tend to not form opinions at all until I do get significant information. Funny, though, that his opinions of me are obviously ill-informed.

As to being an "avowed hater of our Freedoms and Rights" ... WillAffleckWU denys property rights in favor of his view of the "common good." For example, he favored a recent proposition to take massive amounts of money from citizens in order to force those citizens into using a mode of transportation they overwhelmingly don't want to use.

He wants to take away our freedom and rights, both coming and going: take away the fruits and the mechanism of our liberty (our money and property) in order to take away the expression of our liberty (the ability to drive from place to place). And as a Green, this is his normal M.O.

Another "winner" recently said that I put "the power of the state over that of the individual." I can't think of any example where I do that, and neither could he: his one example was about preservation of natural resources, but he takes the side of the government over the individual on that issue. And I don't take sides on that issue at all out of a specific context, which he didn't provide, so it wasn't an example that fit me anyway.

So the reason I bring all this up is because I was hoping maybe one of you can help me come up with examples of where I put the power of the state over that of the individual. I can't think of any. The only time I can think of that I favor the power of the state over the individual is when that power is used to directly defend other individual rights -- such as arresting someone for assault -- which obviously doesn't count.

But maybe I am missing something. Help me out! slashdot.org

Ur Stupid

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In her lawsuit, Stacie Somers makes three claims.

First, that Apple is "constricting the market" by choosing to not license a propietary licensing technology. In other words, because a third party decided to make music files that only certain players can play, Apple is somehow to blame for not paying for that privilege. Because apparently, everyone has the right for someone else to provide them with every proprietary technology that a third party comes up with. It's in the Constitution.

Second, she says that while Apple must license the other proprietary technology, that it is not allowed to have its own properietary technology. Because, um ... it just can't. It's totally a different thing.

Third, she claims Apple can only buy music from iTunes Music Store, which contains the aforementioned proprietary technology. Because apparently she's never heard of this marvelous device called a "Compact Disc" that you can buy -- like your iPod -- in places with names like "Target" and "Amazon" and "Fred's Gas Station." And there's also Amazon and other retailers that sell downloadable music you can put on your iPod.

Even without even getting into the actual claims, which have no merit, it's clear that she has suffered no damages whatsoever -- potential or otherwise -- and therefore has no standing anyway. slashdot.org

Studio Tour

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Here's a tour of my studio that some people have asked about. If you want to know the specifics of the hardware and software see the web page:

http://pudge.net/tunes/equipment.html

So I tried connecting our Jabber bot to our new Jabber server (OpenFire). It wasn't happy.

At first I thought it might be SSL, and after wrestling with that and many other things, I finally decided to randomly comment out things I didn't understand. Well, not randomly: one of the errors I kept seeing when I was pretty sure I had everything right was:

Can't use an undefined value as a HASH reference at
/usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.10.0/XML/Stream.pm line 1165.

But I don't know what the heck is going on in there. Poking around though, I see that $self->GetRoot($sid) is returning undef, and right above that, there's a call to delete($self->{SIDS}->{$currsid}). And GetRoot($sid), in fact, accesses $self->{SIDS}->{$sid}.

So I add in some print statements and see that, in fact, $sid and $currsid are the same.

So, I says to myself, comment out the delete call. And so I do. And so it works.

I don't know why that was necessary. And I should send this to the XML::Stream author. Tomorrow. use.perl.org

Pop Quiz

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Pick the statement below that makes the sentence true.

There is only one correct answer.

"The Constitution of the United States ..."

a. "... requires a complete separation of church and state."

b. "... creates three coequal branches of the federal government."

c. "... limits the federal government to using only those powers which are defined (or implied) by the Constitution."

d. "... gives a minority in the Senate the authority to block Senate action by filibuster."

e. "... provides that the accused shall be tried by a jury of peers." slashdot.org

<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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