The Angry Cyclist

A fleeting grasp of civil, well reasoned discourse.
This blog will comment on topics of interest like politics, business, taxation, the War with Islam / Islamofascists, road cycling, football, and others.


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Opinion of The Angry Cyclist:

"Irrelevant...macho ravings"-
Marc Herold,
Grand Seigneur, University of New Hampshire

"Deranged"-
An idiot relative from Canada

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Monday, October 28, 2002
 
The Case Against Marc Herold

Professor Marc Herold of the University of New Hampshire made news last year by conducting a tally on the number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan during our Special Forces operations to get rid of the Taliban and al-Queda terrorists who claim responsibility for the September 11th attack against our country.

Michael Bellesiles made news this Friday by resigning his position at Emory College, effective 12/31/2002 because of academic fraud.

How are these two professors related? By exemplifying a steady erosion in the quality of what currently passes for academic scholarship at major universities. Bellesiles was charged with four counts of "intentional fabrication and falsification" and one of "serious deviations from accepted practices". Herold's work with the Afghanistan civilian casualties may not reach such a level, but there are serious deficiencies of research nonetheless.

First: What kind of background is necessary for conducting research into this subject? I would think a familiarity with military operations or munitions would be a prerequisite qualification, or perhaps previous research which would exhibit some level of expertise in this area. Being a Professor of Economics, International Relations and Women's Studies does not appear to meet this criteria, loosely defined as it is. I could not find any previous studies by Professor Herold in this or a related field.

How about Professor Herold's justification for performing his research? From the Common Dreams website, Herold is quoted thusly:

"I decided to do the study because I suspected that the modern weaponry was not what it was advertised to be. I was concerned that there would be significant civilian casualties caused by the bombing, and I was able to find some mention of casualties in the foreign press but almost nothing in the U.S. press."


Professor Herold therefore starts his research with an apparently predetermined conclusion, that 'modern weaponry was not what it was advertised to be' without mention of what standard that advertisement was supposed to entail. Professor Herold does not bother to tally enemy combatants killed and compare those against civilian deaths, nor does Professor Herold attempt to compare this military performance against others, for example Gulf War I or Kosovo, a logical and necessary step when ostensibly comparing the effectiveness of one military campaign against another. This 'study', at its' conception, is an effort to establish that 'modern weaponry is not what it's advertised to be' because civilians are killed by them.

In a limited e-mail correspondence with Professor Herold, I mentioned that approximately 17.5 percent of his data points contained multiples of ten, extremely strong evidence of rounding, and, in my estimation, rounding up. I also mentioned that numerous data points contained ranges of deaths, evidence that there was no serious attempt to determine an exact number of casualties. At the Common Dreams link noted above are some examples of such cavalier tabulation:

On October 11, two U.S. jets bombed the mountain village of Karam, comprised of 60 mud houses, during dinner and evening prayer time, killing 100-160 people. Sources: DAWN, (English language Pakistani daily newspaper), the Guardian of London, the Independent, International Herald Tribune, the Scotsman, the Observer, and the BBC News.

On October 13, in the early morning, an F-18 dropped 2,000 lb. JDAM bombs on the Qila Meer Abas neighborhood, 2 kms. South of the Kabul airport, killing four people. Sources: Afghan Islamic Press, Los Angeles Times, Frontier Post, Pakistan Observer, the Guardian of London, and the BBC News.

On October 31, in a pre-dawn raid, an F-18 dropped a 2,000 lb. JDAM bomb on a Red Crescent clinic, killing 15 - 25 people. Sources: DAWN, the Times of London, the Independent, the Guardian, Reuters, Associated Press, and Agence France Presse.


Having a study based solely on reports like this is research in name only. In the first example, there is no effort on anyone's part to determine the actual casualties, so an extremely wide range is provided instead. The mention of being bombed during dinner / prayer time serves absolutely no purpose to establishing how many people actually died other than to evoke scorn at the insensitive act of bombing during dinnertime. The second example mentions bombs but does not make a determination as to how many were actually dropped. The third example gives a range of fifteen to twenty five people, once again with little or no attempt to determine unambiguously how many civilians did perish in that raid. A mention of accepting such reports from potentially biased sources such as the Afghan Islamic Press, Pakistan Observer and the Guardian of London, to name the most obvious, was also brought to Professor Herold's attention.

Professor Herold's comments at this site contain blithe dismissals of criticism of his methodology, conducted a half a world away solely by reciting newspaper accounts. To quote Professor Herold, in part:

"Note: Since I have published the above tabulation, a question has been raised about whether the sources for a particular incident I cite might all be relying upon a single news agency report. As far as I know---and frequently newspaper articles do NOT mention the particular news press release or particular possible on-site reporter---I have NOT deliberately engaged in such practice."


Professor Herold stands by his data collection method by disavowing the need to check the source for each civilian casualty report he cites. Or, as I also mentioned in my e-mail to him, "So if two papers report it, it must be true?" There's a total absence of due diligence here, and Professor Herold brushes it all off because he has "NOT deliberately engaged in such practice", whatever that practice was supposed to be. Let it be known, though, that whatever Professor Herold is alleged to have done here, rest assured that it was NOT deliberate.

I wonder why Professor Herold turned down requests for TV interviews? Does Professor Herold not wish to defend his work?

Mr. Herold refused to reply on these and other points that I raised with him. It appears to me that this study is little more than a boutique of newspaper clippings where a person can shop for the number he or she desires. Having one's research glowingly quoted by the Traprock Peace Center does not bring to mind an independent, unbiased research methodology.

The items mentioned above reflect a fair criticism of Professor Herold's research. There are other people who have raised questions about Herold's research and conclusions, none of which have been directly refuted by Professor Herold. It's worth noting that Professor Herold is said to have backtracked somewhat from his original estimate and once again gave a (lowered) range of numbers, 3,100 to 3,800. A more recent discussion by Professor Herold with respect to his tabulations can be found here and backtracks even further, with 2,650 and 2,970 reported deaths, and a predictable number of half-truths, writeoffs of other authors' research and accusations of 'war crimes'.

To summarize, Professor Herold, not noted as an expert in this field, conducts research based on a predetermined conclusion from half a world away, solely by newspaper accounts with nary a hint of circumspection about the sources cited and no hint whatsoever of a peer review process. As an alumnus of the University of New Hampshire, I am not at all pleased with the notion of being the butt of jokes and derision based on such a sloppy and slanted study passed off by Professor Herold as serious scholarly research. It is my sincerest hope that this matter is reviewed by the powers that be at the University of New Hampshire and subject Professor Herold's research to the same level of peer review that Michael Bellesiles' work was afforded. I will update on this site my correspondence with University officials and their efforts, or lack of efforts, toward this end.


 
This Guy's Toast

It's because he's grabbed the third rail of New Hampshire politics.

Farewell, Fernald.

 
They Got High Hopes

Four Republicans and a Libertarian are running Congressional campaigns here in the heart of Kennedy Country.

Good luck, all. You'll need it.

 
Business As Usual?

Joan "No Corruption in Massachusetts Government" Vennochi is spot on once again.

Nope, no corruption here. Everybody vote for Shannon O'Brien, because she's female.

 
Ronmey Finds His Stones

Heartening news of Romney getting his act together from Jim Nuzzo in today's edition of National Review online. Let's hope it's enough.

Sunday, October 27, 2002
 
What A Surprise

Not really. The Boston Globe today endorsed Jeanne "Dumb as a Box of Rocks" Shaheen for New Hampshire Senate. It takes the usual form of 'government is good' pablum that passes for wisdom in the editor's minds, while Sununu's stances are sniffed at as 'doctrinaire' and hence unworthy of consideration.

One thing that jumped out at me is this paragraph:

Sununu favors a flat income tax that would end the deduction for home-mortgage interest, a mainstay of the middle class's ability to buy a home. He supports making permanent the Bush tax cuts, a gift to the rich that would cripple government's ability to finance basic responsibilities, from defense to Medicaid.


A few points need to be made in response. There's an old saying "Never let the tax tail wag the investment dog". I've prepared hundreds of tax returns for various people, and in discussions with them I have NEVER heard a single person state something like "You know, if it weren't for that itemized deduction for home mortgage interest, we'd never be able to afford it". When doing calculation on the cash flow of multi-family homes (rental income less all expenses), this calculation is rarely, if ever, performed. This is as red a herring that I've seen in a while. In short, the home mortgage deduction does not make or break the decision to buy property. Studiously avoided, naturally, is the calculation on one's taxes before and after the imposition of the flat tax, where the overall burden of taxation might actually decrease. Stephen Moore floated a proposal a few years ago to take the lesser of the two. Makes sense to me.

And last but not least, any tax cut is "a gift to the rich."

Now, if you'll excuse me while I light this expensive cigar with all these Benjamins growing out on the tree in the backyard..

 
Kuttner's Teach-In

Earlier this week, hippie apologist Globe columnist Robert Kuttner pined for those thrilling days of yesteryear, to a simpler, more wholesome time. He lays a long shot hope on the circus freaks anti-war protestors at yesterday's ANSWER rally in Washington, DC.

Bob says:

A mass Washington demonstration is planned for Saturday. But like the early anti-Vietnam protests, this one is organized by radicals who will likely scare off the mainstream.

Bob also used the word "Marxist" later on in the article to describe a subset of the early antiwar types from the 60's. This is instructive, because not much has changed in the anti-Americanwar left of the modern day.

Luminaries of the event include Ramsey Clark (legal counsel for Saddam Hussein and North Korea), Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton (professional racists), Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (D - Saudi Arabia), the Original Howard Zinn (tenured radical at Boston University), Mumia Abu-Jamal from his prison cell (cop killer / cause célèbre for the extreme Left), Greens/Green Party USA (anti everything) and the International Longshore Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10 Exec Board (who closed the docks in CA because $110K / year is tough for its' members to live on in these harsh economic times).

Bob, how could this have happened, ther lunatic fringe of the DemocRATS left co-opted yet another anti-war rally? It's because the Jackson / Sharpton Axis, the Zinn / Chomsky kibbutz, etc. are not the fringe but rather represent the major artery in their body politic.

I think Bob wrote this off because he doesn't want to admit an unpleasant truth - the Left doesn't stand for anything, it's that they're against everything, real or imagined.



 
Vote Yes on Question 1 in MA

The Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby has the definitive article on why it should be passed. Notice the derisive snort from Shannon "Bitch" O'Brien, who doesn't want to give you that $3000 back, because then...

''they can't build a road. They can't build a school. Three thousand dollars is not enough money to educate your child, to send your parent to a nursing home, to make sure we build good roads and bridges.... All these things are supported by our government.''


What is never discussed is why the government needs to (badly) educate children or to provide care for the elderly, and they have these devices known as toll booths and the gasoline tax that purportedly go for the construction and maintenance of Rhoads and bridges.

Just goes to show the mentality of the DemocRATS, who feel it's the government that gets first claim to your hard earned dollars.

Vote Yes on Question 1. Tell them to fuck off next Tuesday, fellow Massholes.

(The following was NOT a paid political advertisement for the Mitt Romney for Governor Campaign).

 
Product Review

John N. from CA sent me some hardware for my home computer. It's a Belkin 4-port router / switch (F5D5130-4) with firewall capabilities. It took all of 15 minutes to install and configure. It works with cable (my connection) or DSL. You also have to get a firmware update from their website (www.belkin.com), but that's about it. It's small, but do the port lights have to be so god damn large? I think something about the size of a hard drive light is fine for most purposes (and takes less power away from the router as well), but do they need to be half the size of a runway light at Logan? Come on now.

Next up - a modem (don't laugh, I need it for work and to send faxes) because an old US Robotics 56K external from three years ago doesn't work with XP. It doesn't meet the newer v.92 standard anyway, and I'm switching to an internal to save on the power cord (imagine a computer setup with 2 power strips and every one's in use. That's why).

Saturday, October 26, 2002
 
The Politics of Race

A wee bit of backlash at the spoken idiocy of Harry Belafonte and his ilk.

Can someone explain to me how or when intelligence, hard work and sacrifice became non-black concepts?

I believe it started with LBJ's War on Poverty. As Reagan said, "We declared a War on Poverty, and Poverty won".

 
The Warm and Fuzzy Left

Christopher Hitchens, former columnist at the Nation, gets the Horowitz Treatment upon his abandonment of the Left's ideology. The author of the above letter, a compassionate fellow, weighs in with his 'feelings'.

Ad Hominems = 20.
References to Alcoholism = 6.
Use of profanities = 5
References to Hitchen's Big Ass = 6.
Losing 'friends' like this = Priceless.

 
A Religion Of Peace

Quite the ally we have in Egypt. Here's what state-sponsored television plans on showing during the holy month of Ramadan.

We give these rat bastards 3 billion a year in aid, and this is what we have to show for it?

Religion of Peace, my ass.

Friday, October 25, 2002
 
No Corruption Here

I had no idea how rampant voter fraud has become so suddenly a major problem.

Right.

One candidate actually ran on a anti-fraud platform.

He's a Republican. Knock me over with a feather.

But no DemocRATS. Why's that?

 
Raw Fucking Arrogance

These sons of bitches are NOT in a position to bargain with us.

Governments that oppress and starve their own citizens need to be told in no uncertain terms that their days are numbered.

This is best dealt with by ignoring these Stalinists until we dismantle the Iraq threat. I believe Bush will do a Good Cop (Powell, diplomats) / Bad Cop (everyone else) routine with these bastards.

Is that too judgmental?

 
The Monolithic Al Hunt

His ossified viewpoint on Senator Captain Hairdo John Kerry is demolished cleanly and quickly by Ramesh Ponnuru of National Review. I opined earlier on the junior Senator from Massachusetts, but Ramesh has the connections to expose Kerry's rank hypocrisy for the crap that it is.

Two birds with one stone. I'm impressed.

If I started a Public Service Award on a periodic basis, Ramesh is the first recipient.

 
Bye Bye, Bellesiles

I'm very happy that dishonesty in academia is finally being punished.

Why did they wait, until he became eligible for a pension or something?

Does this start the ball rolling further in the direction of academic honesty? What's going to happen to frauds like this perpetrated by poseurs like this one?

Anyone? Ferris?

 
NFL 2002, Week 8

Home team in CAPS:

KC +3
Det +7
Cle +3
BAL +2.5
CAR +7.5
Az +8
Hou +10.5

Last week = 2-6-1
For the year = 10-10-1

 
Tour de Lance 2003

OK, maybe I'm being presumptive, but they announced the course for 2003 yesterday. Nice job on redesiging the site, guys!

Thanks to some of my friends who dropped by last night and wanted to watch baseball instead, I couldn't catch it on OLN. It's the centennial of the tour (but not the 100th race because they skipped 1915-1918 for WWI and 1940-1946 for WWII). It looks like a normal TDF, 3 time trials with one team TT, 7 mountain stages with 3 mountain top finishes, and the whole route is to pay homage to the first Tour by retracing the first course. This was when they rode heavy steel fixed gear bikes (as in one gear), fixed all their own flats & other mechanical problems, and had to deal with climbing stuff like the Tourmalet, the highest ascent of Le Tour, on that fixed gear. I don't envy these guys.

The only question for cyclists - will Jan Ullrich show up this year?

 
Fact-Checking Vennochi's You Know What

It was a tough call between picking apart this one and this one, but I chose the former because it seemed so interesting that Joan actually did some research for one of her articles. I was skeptical as soon as I laid eyes on it. Let's review it, shall we?

Questions Romney shouldn't dodge


By Joan Vennochi, 10/24/2002

WHICH QUESTION is more important? Should Shannon O'Brien have gone to the state ethics commission in 2000? Or, can Mitt Romney cut $2 billion out of the state budget in 2003 without hurting people the way he hurt them in the private sector?


Here's a bogus rhetorical trick - ask a leading question to bring your reader to a predetermined conclusion.

In 2000, O'Brien, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, failed to disclose connections between her husband - lobbyist Emmet Hayes - and his construction trade clients when she proposed that the state loan more money to cities and towns looking to build water treatment plants.


Who would have thought, a DemocRAT accused of an ethics violation? Surely she can blame this on her secretary or something?

There is no evidence O'Brien pushed the change, which was rejected by a 2-to-1 vote, to help her husband's clients. But why not go to the ethics commission? That is a fair question for an elected official whose marriage to a registered lobbyist raises legitimate issues. O'Brien says she went to the ethics commission before she was sworn in as treasurer and was told no conflict existed. If she had gotten it in writing then, there would be no issue now.


Whether there's evidence or not, you're supposed to steer clear of conflicts of interest. Period. We know, however, mentioning O'Brien merely provides Joan with the pretext to proceed with her real target, Mitt Romney.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Romney, meanwhile, is dodging questions about his past business dealings, specifically during his tenure as CEO of Bain Capital. Bain's takeover of Ampad Corp., a paper company in Marion, Ind., snagged Romney in 1994, when he unsuccessfully challenged Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy.


I wonder if this is in the same league as steering business to your husband's clients?

Is Ampad relevant in 2002? Yes,


Because Joan says it is...

according to Marc B. Wolpow, a former Bain Capital executive. Wolpow and another Bain partner sat on Ampad's board of directors and carried out the brutal downsizing that cost hundreds of workers their full-time jobs and benefits.


Let's introduce the concept of precision here. The number of laid off workers total 250. What's also not mentioned is the presence of the United Paperworkers International Union Local
154
. Unions are always fun to bargain with.

Why, this is almost as bad as conducting questionable fundraisers on O'Brien's behalf.

''Mitt's employees executed that transaction. We carried out the business plan. He was CEO of the firm,'' says Wolpow, a registered independent voter who now runs a private equity firm, Audax Group.


A "a registered independent voter", Wolpow serves on committees like this one so he can 'give back' to his alma mater, Penn State, Wharton School. Sounds like he might be a Democrat in sheep's clothing, no?

In 1994, Romney tried to distance himself from the Ampad controversy, since he was on a leave of absence during the initial downsizing. But Wolpow, who came to Bain in 1990 from Drexel Burnham, the infamous junk bond company, says: ''I reported directly to Mitt Romney ... You can't be CEO of Bain Capital and say, `I really don't know what my guys were doing.'''


Since Wolpow reported to Romney, shouldn't he have informed Romney what was going on with Ampad, or is he now saying that he weren't part of that controversy?

And what were Romney's guys doing? ''My job was to maximize the profits to Bain Capital's partners from the Ampad transaction,'' says Wolpow, who left Bain in 1999 when Romney left for the Olympics.

To maximize profits at Ampad, Wolpow says, ''we implemented an aggressive plant closing and cost-cutting program.''


That's business speak for "Let's put some lipstick on this pig", or "The paper industry isn't real profitable, let's cut and run". Capitalism sure can be cold hearted.

In 1996, Bain took Ampad public and immediately sold more than 40 percent of its share. Bain reportedly made $49 million on that stock sale.

In January 2000, Ampad declared bankruptcy. Wolpow says he has no problem with the ending, because he served only one master - the investors, who profited royally. Romney, he says, is trying serve two masters: the investors and ''public opinion.''


That's pure bullshit. Wolpow was just quoted as saying ''I reported directly to Mitt Romney". Do I detect some dissembling with that statement? Also take a look at the lawsuit I linked to above. You'll find Wolpow's, but not Romney's, name on it. Care to clarify this, Joan / Marc?

Oh, that's right - 'serving' and 'reporting to' are two entirely different things. Right.

Ampad is not all that Romney should answer for. For example:

Romney wooed disgraced Staples executive Martin Hanaka to be CEO of Florida-based Sports Authority, after Hanaka was arrested for allegedly assaulting a female secretary with whom he was having an affair.


Read the last sentence here. The charges against Hanaka were dismissed. Nice smear, Joan.

Romney, who sat on the Sports Authority board at the time, recently left it to his press aide to proclaim that Hanaka deserved ''a second chance.'' Will Romney apply this private sector standard when it comes to hiring public employees in a Romney administration?


There's a big difference between giving one person, for whom the charges were dropped, a second chance and letting thousands of hacks public employees keep feeding at the trough.

Romney was a director and part owner of Damon Clinical Laboratories, a Needham-based medical testing company that in 1996 incurred what was then the biggest criminal penalty for health care fraud in US history. The company pleaded guilty to billing Medicare for more than $25 million worth of patient lab tests that were not medically necessary. When Romney sold his interest in Damon, he personally made $473,000; his company made a $7.4 million profit. But what specifically did he know about the fraud, when did he know it, and what did he and the board do to stop it?


Which happened 3 years after Romney's group sold Damon to Corning. I don't know, Joan. Perhaps you should read an article or two that mention inconvenient facts such as:

Romney, Bain's co-founder, and Damon's other board members were never implicated in the federal investigation.

"We took action based on what was told to us by the law firm," Romney said in Lawrence, after speaking to several hundred employees at New Balance, an athletic shoe and clothing company.


...which might answer the " what did he and the board do to stop it" part of your rant. Or maybe you could read this one, or this one,which reach the same conclusion. This one states that Romney helped to find the fraud and the "prosecutors gave Corning sole credit for cleaning up the fraud.", which mostly answers the other two sub-inquiries.

Romney sat on the Marriott International board from 1993 until April 2002. He sat on Marriott's audit committee from 1997 to 2001 and chaired it in 1997 and 1998. Marriott's funky accounting procedures are now being challenged by investors, including some in Massachusetts, who question whether profits were accurately reported. Over the last year, Marriott stock lost nearly one-third of its value. Did Romney fulfill his affirmative responsibility as a Marriott director and audit committee chair?


I think she's talking about this, where it's an issue of transparency, not nearly as nefarious as Joan's trying to make it sound. I know she's not talking about this, because fending off lawsuits, in this case successfully, is an unfortunate cost of doing business in our society these days. Of course, had this article been written October 8th, I'd bet good money that our star columnist would have snuck it in somehow. This search didn't turn up any smoking gun, so if it's not that first link in this paragraph, I don't know what she's referring to. At least in the Blogosphere, you're obligated to provide links to prove your point, which I've done here.

If you don't understand what those "funky accounting procedures" are, Joan, why not just say so? Are you afraid to get your nails dirty by digging some facts up? Not to sound flippant, but this investment did a whole lot better than O'Brien's Enron call, didn't it? And there's one more fact Joan isn't too keen on: people involved in accounting fraud will go to great lengths to prevent the board of directors from discovering any shenanigans with the accounting at a large company?

According to these nonpartisans, Marriott International is alleged to have hidden $85 million in losses, but one allegation in that is patently false is the one that Romney hired Anderson, the proof for which can be found here about 1/3 of the way down. Naturally, it's not sourced anywhere on this page. It's the part about Andersen being Marriott's auditor for the past 43 years, so how was Romney to have 'appoved the hiring' of Andersen when they've been Marriott's auditor since Romney was a teenager? I'd take the rest of the massdems.org document with a huge grain of salt.

This was all business as usual in the private sector, as recent headlines show. But is it any way to run the public sector? Romney faces some legitimate questions - just as O'Brien does. Voters will have to decide which questions matter more.


This article is all about reporting as usual with the lazy, incompetent and / or ideologically slanted columnists that typify the Boston Globe editorialists. In my opinion, this article is so deviod of research that should have been conducted when looking into these allegations issues that it borders on the libelious. I'm going to see what Christine Chinlund, Ombudsman at the Globe, thinks about this sloppy hatchet job. I expect this request to get whitewashed / ignored.

Joan Vennochi's e-mail address is vennochi@globe.com.

This story ran on page A19 of the Boston Globe on 10/24/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.


 
Forrest Gump's sister

Maybe that's a better description of this columninst than Maureen Dowd Jr.

Attack ad-itus


Catchy, isn't it?


By Ellen Goodman, 10/24/2002

EVERY ELECTION YEAR, I have the same theological insight: If God had meant for me to watch political ads, He never would have invented the remote control. Click.


Deep Thoughts, by Jack Handey


Nevertheless, occasionally something penetrates the glaze that comes over my eyes when one candidate is bashing the other. This year, it's an ad running in the Massachusetts governor's race. The 30-second cartoon features a watchdog asleep on the job while some very corporate-looking men loot a vault marked ''State Treasury.'' They put the dough in a truck marked ''Enron.'' Bye-bye, pension funds.


What, no WorldCom bashing?

Now what's funny about this attack ad is that a Republican is tarring a Democrat with the Enron brush. More to the point, a venture capitalist, Mitt Romney, is smearing the state treasurer, Shannon O'Brien, with corporate greed and fraud.


Yep. That IS funny! You don't like it when the tables are turned, do you?

The not-so-subtle implication of the ad is that O'Brien - not to mention her husband, a former lobbyist - is personally responsible for the loss of pension funds in the Incredible Collapsing Market. The subtext is, of course, that Romney, the former top dog - as opposed to sleeping dog - at Bain Capital will protect us from the corporate mess.


Uh, that's the way business works, Ellen. If you're CEO or State Treasurer, accountability is usually associated with the position.

Don't you love this stuff? In Massachusetts the Republicans are linking Shannon O'Brien with Kenneth Lay. In New Hampshire there's an ad calling Governor Jeanne Shaheen, Democratic candidate for the Senate, ''a corporate flunky.''


My cousin met Shaheen a few years ago. "Dumb as a box of rocks" was the phrase he used to describe her. He's amazed she holds any political office higher than a board selectperson. Besides, isn't that a bit off-topic?

Have you looked at your 401 (k) recently? It arrived just in time for Halloween. They only thing scarier is the way Republicans have either defused the issue of corporate misbehavior or downright stolen it.


That's politics, Ellen. Swiping a few plays from the DemocRARTS is galling, indeed.

Readers beyond my TV signal may only know the Massachusetts candidates for governor from cameo appearances on the national stage. O'Brien was tapped last week by the Democratic National Committee to answer President Bush's Saturday radio address because, said one DNC official, ''we like her.'' They'd ''like her'' to become the first Democrat in the State House in 12 years and they'd ''like her'' to beat Mitt Romney.


More like "We didn't have anyone else and we know O'Brien's in trouble". Or did I miss the memo where politics is all of a sudden about "being liked"?

Mitt - or as he is described in every press release, ''Former Winter Olympic Chief Mitt Romney'' - is either the golden boy of Massachusetts Republicans or the ''Stepford Candidate,'' depending on your point of view. He rode back here from Salt Lake City on a full tank of entitlement, casually knocking the Republican acting governor, Jane Swift, out of the race.


That's because Jane Swift is currently in it over her head, or to be more precise, she's not ready yet. Give it time, Ellen, and you'll get your female in office so we won't have to listen to your nonsense on this subject anymore.

Romney, who once ran for the Senate against Ted Kennedy and is the father of five grown sons, won the swimsuit contest for governor in an early ''love story'' ad that chronicled his marriage. The ad ended with a shirtless shot of him swimming with his sons.


Yeah! Beefcake! Is this why Romney's doing OK with women, besides yourself?

O'Brien, the mother of a 3-year-old, has no intent of matching that pin-up pose ... but she is trying to match his attacks. Her campaign tags Romney as a player in the high-profit and downsized economy. Which, for better and for worse, he was.


That's because she looks like Rosie O'Donnel's sister. Next.

The end result, or the near-end result, is that this close race comes down to a duel over who is more worthy of economic mistrust. But it's not just in Massachusetts that Republicans are trying to close the Enron gap.

This is the year CEOs stopped being stars of anything but the evening news. When the folks at WorldCom and Adelphia were taking the perp walk, it looked like a scandal made for midterm elections.


Yes. So what happened?

This is the most CEO-filled White House in memory.


Would you prefer all lawyers?

You want an administration that's friendly to big industry and bigger rich folks, you got it. After the stock market tanked, the economy slumped, and older Americans postponed their golden years into their 80s, some thought an outraged public would turn the perp walk into a Democratic cake walk. It's not happening.


Then maybe it's not about "big industry".

In part, as everyone in Washington will tell you, Iraq ''sucked the air'' out of the domestic debate. War trumps everything in the hierarchy of anxiety.


''sucked the air'' - that applies here as well.

At the same time, the Republicans put forward so many itsy-bitsy proposals with labels like ''corporate fraud'' or ''prescription drugs'' or ''pension reform'' that it's harder to pin the tail on the elephant.


Wrong, Ellen. I remember Al Bore Gore being the first politician to bring up the bribe to seniors subject of prescription drugs. Try researching your subjects next time.

While we are at it, the Democrats haven't presented anything close to a strong progressive alternative. In the drift toward the middle or the third way, if you prefer, all but a handful of candidates seem afraid of appearing anti-business or of being accused of ''class warfare.''


Well, that part's right. When you're the party of BIG GOVERNMENT, what is it that you prescribe? Right. MORE BIG GOVERNMENT. Not very original thinking, methinks.

In Massachusetts, O'Brien doesn't make a very convincing robber baron. Romney's preemptive strike may not win him any Olympic medals. But corporate scandals emptied out a whole lot of pocketbooks and a whole lot of state coffers. That memory is already fading from politics.


Uh, remember that there was a stock market crash, Ellen. Any calculation of having "emptied out a whole lot of pocketbooks and a whole lot of state coffers" must take that into consideration, which you don't.

The real dozing watchdog? I think he's named ''us.''


Right again. That makes it twice in one article.

Ellen Goodman's e-mail address is ellengoodman@globe.com.

This story ran on page A19 of the Boston Globe on 10/24/2002.

© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.



Thursday, October 24, 2002
 
Taxachusetts?

I was hesitant to write about this (link via Instapundit) because I still think the elimination of the state income tax will come when hell freezes over. I'm voting for it in part to protest the 'temporary' increase in the state income tax from 5 to 5.5 percent by our former commander-in-chief. It's been incremented to 5.6 percent since then.

This article quotes a poll pegging popularity for Question 1, as the initiative is known, at 40 percent. It's convenient to remind readers that this article points out why Massachusetts residents ought to vote for this measure:

Massachusetts state government spending has more than doubled in 10 years. $10 billion under Michael Dukakis in 1991 to $23 billion today.

At least with this measure passing, we could finally have a serious debate on the size and scope of the state government.


Wednesday, October 23, 2002
 
On The DC Sniper

Of course, by the time Blogger feels like posting these articles, this might be old news, but I just turned on Fox News and the FBI is searching some property in the Tacoma, WA area with metal detectors in connection with the DC Sniper case.

Interesting. I hope this leads to something, and soon...

UPDATE: They were looking for shell casings at that Tacoma house.

 
The Modern Antiwar Movement

It certainly has retained all its' relevance, hasn't it?

War protests, then and now


By Robert Kuttner, 10/23/2002

AL LOWENSTEIN, where are you now that we need you?


Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?


Allard K. Lowenstein, as much as any other person, turned anti-Vietnam war protest into a mainstream cause. Lowenstein, a longtime organizer who later served in Congress, was murdered in 1980 by a mentally ill man who was obsessed with the antiwar leader. During his shortened life, Lowenstein fought for civil rights, liberty in South Africa, and above all an end to the Vietnam War.


OK. So what?

Analogies between the impending Iraq war and the Vietnam War are slippery but instructive. In the Vietnam case, war came first, and it took a decade for protest to prevail. In the case of Iraq, if an ill-considered war is to be averted, effective protest needs to be telescoped into a matter of weeks.


So already we see that he feels this war is 'ill-considered'. Do we play some protest music now?

In Vietnam, protest slowly built on campuses and streets. With a few notable early exceptions, elite dissent followed. Today, campuses and streets are relatively quiet, but there has already been plenty of elite protest.


This guy thinks we're Number One, Bob. Care to comment on this love-in?

Former and current officials of the diplomatic corps, retired and active-duty military officers, CIA officials, and academic experts express doubts about the realism of the administration's war scenario and its larger risks. Indeed, the most penetrating journalism on the subject, by James Fallows in The Atlantic and by Nicholas Lemann in The New Yorker, reveal that it is defense hawks outside the narrow Bush circle who offer some of the best-informed skepticism.


The Atlantic and the New Yorker. There's a pair of unbiased sources for you.

The congressional resolution authorizing President Bush to make war got 23 no votes in the Senate and 133 nays in the House. That's not enough to block war, but it is a surprisingly large degree of dissent, given America's post-Sept. 11 psychology and the ability of a president to define a national-security crisis.


This is a cute way of stating 73 Seantors voted for it and 296 House members voted for it. Shall we discuss how many nay votes, and a few examples of each, were cast by the DemocRATS?

Popular support for war is surprisingly thin.


I'd call it a fairly large majority, Bob.

Polls suggest that a slender majority of Americans support the president, but the support evaporates when the question is qualified to include nonsupport of America's allies or large numbers of American battlefield deaths or even Iraqi civilian casualties. Public opinion, as political scientist Benjamin Barber has observed, is eerily disengaged. Rather than a passionate national debate, Bush confronts neither dissent nor consent. If ever there were an impending war that cried out for a teach-in movement and extended Senate hearings, it is this one.


President Bush calls for the elimination of a psycho tyrant who has lots of chemical and bilogical weapons, and who is working on nukes, and has expressed a desire to use them on US and Israel. Bob's best response: Teach-ins. Are we in a time warp, Bob?

Realities on the ground in the Middle East are complex, and the grand designs of Bush's warmakers are simple bordering on simple-minded.


Getting rid of Saddam is simple, as in straightforward. Getting a functioning democracy is complex.

The more that Americans learn about this misadventure, the more doubts will grow. Reportedly, there have already been teach-ins on some 200 campuses, but they have neither been widely reported nor galvanized into a movement. Congress, disgracefully, held a few token hearings and went home.


We've had a year since 9/11, more than adequate time to make up our minds, even grown Congressmen. Interesting use of the word token. Did you mean toke instead?

A mass Washington demonstration is planned for Saturday. But like the early anti-Vietnam protests, this one is organized by radicals who will likely scare off the mainstream. The keynote speaker will be Ramsey Clark, the onetime US attorney general turned radical. Clark founded the International Action Center, a group which defends, among others, Saddam Hussein and North Korea. It's one thing to believe this is a dangerous, opportunistic, and ill-considered war. It's another to consider America the font of most of the evils in the world. The former view is held by countless well-informed people who wish America well. With some organizing and education, it could become the majority view. That latter position is hopelessly fringe.


Think about this for a second. Ramsey Clark, defending Saddam Hussein and North Korea. Other worthy clients of Mr. Ramsey include Slobodan Milosevic, FBI agent killer Lemoard Peltier, radical Muslim cleric Sheik Omar Abd El-Rahman of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and other assorted dirtbags. Great example, Bob.

I think of Al Lowenstein because in the mid-1960s it was radicals who were the first wave of antiwar protest. Far more Americans, however, wanted to end the war because it was so clearly ruining our own country. It was Lowenstein and then-student leader Sam Brown who conceived the ''dump Johnson'' strategy in the summer of 1967 - and amazed themselves and the country when Lyndon Johnson announced less than a year later that he was standing down. Teach-ins, meanwhile, acquired their own momentum. Lowenstein, Brown, and others, visiting scores of campuses, went on to fashion a strategy of inquiries and protests that were not hate-America affairs. By late 1969, many millions of clean-scrubbed Americans had attended peaceful marches. They took protest away from the radicals, to the point where most Americans eventually soured on the war, not as Marxists but as patriots.


Well, I'm not going to argue too much about what happened in Vietnam other than to say, if the war were properly executed, we might not be having this debate.

America today is in a very patriotic mood, as it deserves to be after 9/11. It is as patriots that we should oppose George W. Bush's disastrous war.


It is as patriots that we should finish what we started eleven years ago and, at a minimum, free the people of Iraq? Isn't that what all patriots want, freedom?

Robert Kuttner is co-editor of The American Prospect. His column appears regularly in the Globe.

This story ran on page A19 of the Boston Globe on 10/23/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.




Tuesday, October 22, 2002
 
The Vennochi Papers

Bill Bratton's star trek


The space between Joan Vennochi's ears. The Final Frontier.

By Joan Vennochi, 10/22/2002

STARS ARE BORN in Boston. But often they go elsewhere to shine.


Like other self-important blowhards, its all about Boston.

Bill Bratton's career trajectory makes that pretty clear.

Boston is too small for Bratton and always was. Still, New York City's ex-police chief and Los Angeles's next police chief keeps coming back to show us what he thinks we are missing: a man who ''will go down in history as the greatest law enforcement figure of the century,'' according to his wife, Rikki Klieman.


So that's why he came back to Boston in 1992?

Bratton and Klieman touched down briefly last week, to say goodbye, again, to the city that launched him and rejected him, most recently for the job of overhauling security at Logan Airport. The latest rebuff, coming in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, clearly stings.


So why's he supposed to stick around, then?

The Massachusetts Port Authority ''didn't get it.... Bill is a change agent,'' says Klieman. ''They didn't think he was good enough to replace a chauffeur?'' she adds, in a reference to Logan's former head of security, a state trooper who once had a job driving around then-Governor William F. Weld. It didn't take Bratton long to land another glamour job. Next week he officially takes over the trouble-plagued LAPD. His wife says he will take ''people of substance in the LAPD and raise them up to where they should be.''


That's because Massport's full of hacks, who don't want change. So off Bratton goes to Los Angeles, where at least one officer appreciates Bratton's background.

For sure, making fun of Bratton's Big Apple-burnished cockiness is easy and legitimate sport. Asked how he thinks Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City, will fare as a consultant to the Mexico City police force, Bratton quickly notes that officials of that city asked him to take a look at the department back in 1996. It was so corruption-riddled he took a pass on the opportunity and ''I have no sense anything has changed.'' If Bill Bratton can't fix it, good luck, Rudy.

Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez is already reveling in the prospect of having the Bratton ego as a regular inspiration, writing recently: ''Before you unpack your bags and close a deal on the house in Brentwood, Billy Boy, be aware that we aren't looking for another star. We already have enough of those.''


What that's supposed to mean is anybody's guess. Sounds like Lopez thinks of himself as a star too, no?

Boston doesn't have LA's galaxy of stars, but it still has its own orbit of contempt for Bratton-like star power. And that says something good and bad about this city.


And the Orbit of Contempt has its' center of gravity right here, folks.

Egocentric brashness is not appreciated. That's good. But neither is speaking your mind. And that's bad.


Nope, can't tell the truth in Boston. Might ruffle too many feathers.

Headline-grabbing showiness is frowned upon. That's good. But so is stepping even a little outside the box of conventional behavior. That's bad.


Nope, innovation is frowned upon, too. Someone's brain might explode from the excess thought processes.

The formula for Boston-approved success in business and politics is always to be safe rather than to risk being sorry. The speaker of the House calls and leans on you to contribute money to support a ballot referendum? You contribute. The mayor wants a national convention in Boston? You help him make the case even if you think it is an expensive case of misplaced priorities.


In other words, Business As UsualTM.

There is plenty of ego in Boston,


There's plenty of it here...

but the fighting between them plays out behind the scenes. For the most part, you don't challenge those in power in business, politics, and religion. It took overwhelming evidence of wrongdoing to turn Boston's power brokers against Cardinal Bernard Law, and, with the exception of Attorney General Thomas Reilly, the political power structure is still fairly silent about the clergy sexual abuse scandal.


And that's bad.

Who will be successful and who won't can be pretty predictable in Boston. If you don't talk a certain way or look a certain way, you are winnowed from the ranks of acceptable rising stars.


Yes. Good looks always help when "A beautiful young woman was selling me too much expensive makeup at a swank Boston department store.", right?

Michael Bloomberg of Medford is mayor of New York City; H. Carl McCall of Roxbury is running for governor of that state.


Is this good or bad?

In a recent Globe profile, McCall, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in New York, said he had a sense he had to get out of New England to achieve great success. ''Boston was nice,'' he said, ''but I guess I kind of felt my career in Boston would have been somewhat predictable.'' That is probably a polite way of saying he did not see a path to political success in Massachusetts on the same level it exists in New York.


Well, you just pointed this out, Joan, yet you sound surprised. Why is that?

Boston doesn't need more New York. It doesn't need Bill Bratton, either.


It doesn't need bad business writers, either.

But it can't be so small in spirit and mind that it drives homegrown stars to a bigger universe. If it does, it will lose big dreams and big ideas along with their owners' big egos.


Man, that was touching. I think I'm going to cry...

Joan Vennochi's e-mail address is vennochi@globe.com.

This story ran on page A21 of the Boston Globe on 10/22/2002.





 
In Defense of Free Speech

For those who aren't regular readers of blogs, there's been a flare-up over at Charles Johnson's LGF site because of a link that was provided to MSNBC, directly or indirectly from a disgruntled LGF reader, known in the parlance as a 'troll', named Anil Dash. From this and an e-mail attack by Anil's possee, MSNBC editor Will Femina felt LGF was, well, a hateful and racist site. Which is the pot calling the kettle black, except that the kettle's not black. In his articles, Charles Johnson simply points out what the imam's are saying in Gaza, Sanna, Yemen and Doha, Qatar. Anil then does some sampling of the comments section of certain articles to show what a bunch of hate-filled gutter racists we posters are. Anil's followers, a Sunday School bunch if I've ever seen one, show their contribution to civil discourse here. Look for 'mookie' for some classic hysterics, or just read the whole thing if you're killing a beer or two.

James Taranto weighs in on the issue at OpinionJournal.com and sides with Charles, pointing out that Islam isn't a race, so the charge of racism is a non-starter. The other logical inconsistencies are too numerous to mention here; go get your feet wet if you wish.

I'm glad that, slowly but surely, the Politically Correct crowd is losing their ability to smear and intimidate opponenets as well as stifle honest and open debate by the use of such goon tactics. Uncle Joe would have been proud of you, Anil.
8:29 PM

Monday, October 21, 2002
 
Take The Test

Found this while on Grouchy Old Cripple's website (link is on the left).

I'm 10% dipshit. Which is, of course, much better than being 100% dipshit.

 
Carter Fell for These Clowns?

As far as I'm concerned, these bastards can go pound sand.

Look at this guy. I couldn't even buy a used car from someone like that.

 
The Party With No Balls

Yes, I'm talking about the DemocRATS. Ancient political dinosaur Frank Lautenberg refuses to debate Doug Forrester in the race for New Jersey's open Senate slot.

"Running out the clock", indeed.

 
When Ballot Stuffing Fails...

Fine, call me a cold-hearted bastard, but I can't help noticing the timing of this with the shenanigans in South Dakota.

All by DemocRATS. Not that there's a pattern or anything...

 
Herold Watch

I wonder if stupid fuck Marc Herold's going to adjust his Afghanistan statistics when he learns about this investigation?

Just give him some time, I suppose...

Sunday, October 20, 2002
 
Stale Statism, or More Gruel

Because you asked for it!

Democrats blast GOP on economy


Which is all they're good for, because I don't see any coherent alternative to tax cuts and a slowdown in entitlement spending. Will the DemocRATS surprise me here?

Saturday, October 19, 2002 Posted: 12:16 PM EDT (1616 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Republicans have failed to take responsibility for the souring economy, and won't work with Democrats to help revive it, the Democratic candidate for Massachusetts governor complained Saturday.


So Shannon Bitch O'Brien is now qualified to speak about national economic policy? With her track record in business?

"As I've traveled around my state over the last year and a half, men and women of all ages and all racial and ethnic groups have expressed to me profound anxiety about their economic futures," Shannon O'Brien, the state treasurer, said in the Democrats' weekly radio address.

But Republicans have ignored Democratic proposals such as boosting the minimum wage and extending unemployment benefits, she said. Instead, they granted tax breaks benefiting corporations and have sqandered the nation's budget surplus, O'Brien added.


Wrong again, Shannon. Didn't Bush's tax cuts also help individuals? My only problem with it is that the cuts weren't deep enough and immediate enough to make an immediate impact, which is what's needed during a recession to have an impact. Boosting the minimum wage only leads to fewer jobs, precisely what's not needed during a recession.

In September, Sen. Robert Soprano Torricelli, D-N.J., accused the Bush administration of transforming a budget surplus of $5.6 trillion into a deficit of $400 million.


You know you're in a weak position when you rely on a quote from this corrupt fucking scumbag to bolster your argument. How about not spending money when you're in a bind?

Although the president has labored for bipartisan backing for a possible attack on Iraq, "when it comes to economic policy, he has no apparent interest in working with Democrats to put the nation back on the road to prosperity," O'Brien said.


Why bother, when crap like this is all the DemocRATS can come up with?

"More than ever before, national security cannot be separated from our economic security."


As demonstrated above, what noxious, sanctimonious bullshit this quote is.




 
If I had a Nickel...

More like if I had to pay for the privilege of criticising others.

Is this an Onion like site?

Whatever. Good luck collecting on it, guys.

Friday, October 18, 2002
 
Five-Minute Major

One of my pet peeves is the concept of a hate crime. Let's look at this particular case. Four almost teenagers beat the crap (maybe) out of someone from their junior high school and stand accused of calling the kid "a homosexual". What is unfortunate is our current PC climate, afraid to actually use the word or words in question (i.e., not mentioned in the article).

But this is my blog.

Did the kids beat the other kid up and taunt him with "You're a homosexual" during the fisticuffs, or is it more likely that the kids called him names that as a youth I never thought about using twice, like "faggot' and 'pussy', the monikers more directed at the assailed's inability to defend himself than at the pre-pubescent's as yet undetermined sexual orientation? Does the writer want me to believe the kid is indeed homosexual? I don't buy it.

To me, this represents nothing more than piling on, a ham-handed attempt to throw the book at individuals of all ages of committing politically incorrect crimes. I find the act of getting my ass kicked a lot more bothersome than the reason why it happened. I therefore separate the motivation behind the act from the act itself. Liberals simply want to add additional punishment on those crimes they disagree with and excuse the rest via lighter sentences. Yes, a carjacking's much more pleasant when I don't have to use or hear the "N-Bomb'. What's worse is making examples of 12 and 13 year old kids. I think it only serves to highlight the unjust and illogical nature of charging "hate crime" upon normal crime, another sickening device to divide Americans by race, class and gender.

Here's one of the parents, last paragraph:

In the Dover case, the mother of one of the boys charged has told Foster's Daily Democrat the name-calling went both ways and that police blew the incident out of proportion.


Surprised?

One might want to tke comfort in the fact they're not using knives & guns on each other, sad as that is to say.

 
Digging for a Corpse

The Boston Globe continues its' mudslinging campaign with a nice cheap shot a few weeks before Election Day.

I'm sure the Globe will treat this issue fairly and with equal compassion on both sides.

In tomorrow's headlines: Why is Shannon O'Brien supporting the Catholic Church?

(ok, it's half-aped from OpinionJournal, so there.)

 
Now, be a good sport and take it like a man...

This is one reason I've stopped going to baseball games. Between that and the '94 strike, my attitude's pretty much "fuck these donkeys".

 
Robert Kuttner, Intellectual Stalinist

As mentioned previously, I don't think much about this withering dinosaur of Keynesian economics. Kausfiles links to Chris Caldwell, who does a fine job explaing why:

All TAP writers who have shown a twinkle of wit, a scintilla of originality, a dash of political incorrectness, the slightest inclination to rethink anything--Joshua Micah Marshall, Joshua Green, Laura Secor, Nicholas Confessore, for starters--have either fled or been fired. They've abandoned the precincts to the deft but distracted Robert Reich, and that dinosaur of American liberalism, Robert Kuttner. Despite its ability to curry favor with corporate and foundation boardrooms (the interlocking directorates of the liberal-left elite), despite subventions from the Schumann foundation that amount to $10 million (according to the Washington Post), the task of maintaining both a serious left politics and a sense of fun has proved beyond them.


Maybe Kuttner's going to partner with that other successful publisher, Rosie? Maybe the 3 worthless columns he writes for the Boston Glob(e) will cut it?

Nahhh.

 
There They Go Again

Sean Penn, who hasn't had a decent movie in eons, takes on Geoege Bush. Sean, you might remember this theory of fighting from Bad Boys: Don't bring a knife to a gunfight. This guy's idiocy is amazing.

Uh, no, it's not.

Sean Penn takes on Bush over Iraq

Friday, October 18, 2002 Posted: 1:33 PM EDT (1733 GMT)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Actor Sean Penn on Friday weighed in on the international debate over a possible war with Iraq, paying for a $56,000 advertisement in the Washington Post accusing U.S. President George W. Bush of stifling debate and threatening civil liberties.


Paying that much to run a full page ad in the Post? How is Bush stifiling debate when you can counter with that? And all I have to counter you with is my teeny, weeny blog. Maybe you're stifling my debate with your big budget.

In an open letter to Bush taking up most of a page in the main section of the daily newspaper, the Oscar-nominated star of "I Am Sam" and "Dead Man Walking," urged the president to stop a cycle where "bombing is answered by bombing, mutilation by mutilation, killing by killing."


Sean, who started this? Maybe you can have a nice talk with the Butcher of Bahgdad. Yes, that's a time tested, winning formula.

"I beg you, help save America before yours is a legacy of shame and horror," Penn wrote, echoing voices of caution from around the world that have called for a measured response to allegations Iraq is developing weapons of mass destruction.


I'd rather have the legacy of defeating evil, psychotic, genocidal maniacs before they get the chance to boff us.

The letter was signed "Sincerely, Sean Penn, San Francisco, California." A spokesman for the Washington Post confirmed that it was placed by the Hollywood celebrity, who has starred in more than 40 movies.


And has never read a history book, apparently. Chamberlain was wrong to appease Hitler, and Churchill was right; The Chomskyites were wrong to appease the Soviet Union, and Reagan was right; Clinton and Carter were wrong to appease North Korea, and John McCain was right. Appeasement simply doesn't work, never has and never will. The absence of brainpower from the Hollywood set is appalling, but expected from self-absorbed narcissists.

The definition of Insanity is repeating the same act over and over and expecting a different result. Your position is insane, Sean.

Quoting Bush's declaration that the world was either "with us or against us" in the war on terrorism launched after the September 11, 2001, attacks, Penn, 42, said Bush was marginalizing critics, manipulating the media and promoting fear.


Mr. $56K Advertising Budget is accusing Bush of marginalizing his opinion and manipulating the press? What rank fucking hypocrisy. The only thing I fear is doing nothing to check Hussein. Would you rather wait until he has nukes, Sean?

Those actions and "your administration's deconstruction of civil liberties all contradict the very core of the patriotism you claim," wrote Penn.


Do you have at least one example of this 'deconstruction', Sean? Why is it every time I see this argument, there's nothing to back it up? Where's the beef?

"Sacrificing American soldiers or innocent civilians in an unprecedented preemptive attack on a separate sovereign nation may well prove itself a most temporary medicine," he said.


Do you have a counterproposal, or are you going to continue preening on your moral high horse? If you bothered to read anything, Sean, we intervened in Kosovo a few years ago in a preemptive way because the EU lacked the balls to do it themselves. That "unprecedented preemptive attack" didn't seem to raise many hackles with the Limousine Liberal crowd, did it?

Sorry, Sean. Am I marginalizing you?

Thursday, October 17, 2002
 
NFL 2002, Week 7

Home team in CAPS:


KC +3
Min +3
Tb +3.5
Sea +5
DET +3
Sd +7
Hou +9
Was +7.5
Ind +4.5

Last week = 5-2
For the year = 8-4


 
Lonely Guy

I kind of feel bad for Jeff Jacoby, the token conservative at the Boston Globe, a partisan rag I stopped buying about six years ago. If only I could pay a quarter for just the Sports section. I'm willing to bet no other columnists even talk to him.

Jeff has a great read on peanut farmer former president Jimmy Carter. Interwoven in the Globe's online is this diametrically opposite opinion piece by Ellen Goodman, whose writing style and content is best described as "nice house, but no one's home".

I'd give Goodman the Tim Blair TreatmentTM, but Jacoby does an impeccable job at refuting her Carter toungue bath. Thanks for the night off from Fisking, Jeff.

Read Jacoby and Goodman and tell me which columnist is blinded by ideology.

 
I Buy, You Fly?

The Democrats, who likely have committed voting fraud in South Dakota, are now hitting the road, destination Minnesota.

Wellstone's going to need a lot of help. And he'll get it, from the proud members of the Saddam Hussein Voter Influence crowd.

 
Open Mouth, Insert Foot

Woody Harrelson shoots his mouth off one more time.

Tired of trashing cabs, Woody?

Here's a suggestion - If America is so bad, why don't you stay there, and ask Alec Baldwin to join you?

Wednesday, October 16, 2002
 
Tom Oliphant, Man Of Honor

Mr. Oliphant, professional bootlick for Democratic Presidents, is naturally irritated at military activities after a Democrat is no longer in charge.

How many articles have you written about this General before today, Tom? I haven't been able to find much in my search. Maybe you can help me here.

Wish I could find some stuff on your Torkildsen debacle. That will come.

 
Rantburg Rules

The best reason I can find for not voting for these completely amoral scumbags.

Nope, no corruption here. Everybody vote for Tim Johnson, whether you're dead or alive.

 
The Kuttner Files

Robert Kuttner, co-editor of the highly successful American Prospect, weighs in on a well thought-out essay (snicker) on why we should hold off on invading Iraq:

A more effective ultimatum to Iraq


By Robert Kuttner, 10/16/2002para

THERE IS AN alternative to invading Iraq that deserves serious consideration. The United States, working with the United Nations, should give Saddam Hussein one last chance to grant unimpeded access to weapons inspectors. If he refuses, the United States should bomb suspected weapons sites.


Do tell, Robert. What exciting, innovative proposal do you have for us?

Critics of President Bush's plan to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam's regime have one strong argument and one weak argument. The strong argument has nothing to do with whether Saddam is an appalling dictator, whether he is trying to acquire nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, or even whether he'd use them.


Those seem like pretty good arguments to me. OK, I'll bite.

The strong argument is that the aftermath of war would not be worth the cost. The United States would have fewer friends in the world and a more militant terrorist movement to contend with. It would have set a precedent for unilateral military action. We would have a prolonged occupation of a country whose inhabitants would be far less hospitable to GI Joe than the defeated Germans or Japanese were. Invasion of Iraq and the toppling of Saddam Hussein could well destabilize the geopolitics of the entire Middle East region. That is the realist argument against this war.


So you propose to do... nothing? Hasn't that been tried before? To paraphrase Shakespeare, wouldn't it be better to have tried and failed, than never to have tried at all?

The weak argument is that Saddam isn't such a bad guy or that other bad guys have nuclear weapons or that we should just work with the UN under current inspection plans. The problem with that argument is that every time President Bush seems reined in by the process of working through the UN, Saddam keeps making a liar out of Bush's critics.


Saddam's such a popular guy who has never harmed anyone. He's someone you could knock down a few pints with.

Doves like myself should recall that Saddam, after invading Kuwait and being beaten back by a US-led coalition, agreed to an armistice that required renouncing weapons of mass destruction and admitting weapons inspectors to confirm that he was in compliance. In return, he was allowed to stay in power. By now, it's clear that Saddam has no intention of giving inspectors even the kind of access that the stronger UN inspection force had prior to 1998.


Right. So why are we dicking around with the UN? You think our friends the French will sign on for that?

A much-discussed plan in Washington is one proposed by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace for ''coercive inspections.'' Under that plan, weapons inspectors would have full access to any site they desired, backed by a multinational military force that would come in with the inspectors.


It would be a fine plan if Saddam actually agreed to it. Which he won't.


It's a fine plan and a good alternative to the disruption and slaughter caused by war. The only problem is that Saddam is extremely unlikely to agree to it.


I'm still waiting for the punch line.

Our usual allies who are resisting Washington's grand design for Iraq are not doing so out of love of Saddam Hussein, out of cowardice, or because they have made separate oil deals. They are resisting for fear of the chaos that war would bring to the entire region and out of concern for the severe setback to international cooperation and international law.


And if we don't do anything after the war, chaos will ensue, another dictator grabs the reins and we'll be seen as weak, which is a bad thing to be perceived as in the Islamic community.

The other members of the Security Council will very likely go along with a tougher set of inspection demands, but in the end they will be stymied when Saddam refuses to cooperate in good faith. This will leave the Bush administration in the position of saying, ''I told you so,'' and the US-led invasion will proceed.


Bush is a pretty smart guy after all, isn't he?

But an ultimatum to Saddam, to let in armed inspectors or face the bombing of weapons plants and sites, would have several advantages over other approaches.


You mean like these ultimatums?

First, it would spare a lot of casualties among US troops and Iraqi civilians.


American troops in GWI: 148 killed in action, 458 wounded, 121 killed in nonhostile actions and 11 female combat deaths, confirmed here.

Unfortunately, this is what happens to troops in times of war. As for the Iraqi civilians, I leave it to this dumb fuck to do the counting. If / when Herold does any counting in Iraq, I'll turn this site into Herold Central and stick to him like a fly on shit, fact-checking his ass from Day One.

Second, it would get rid of the weapons of mass destruction that are Bush's rationale for full-blown war. If Saddam refused, he would face the demolition not just of known weapons plants but of the ''presidential palaces'' that have long been suspected as hiding weapons development.


Inspections for weapons are one thing. Removing or destroying them is altogether different. The reason we'll never get to that point is because Saddam will string us along as long as he can, aided by the likes of Robert Fisk, who blocks punches with his face.

Third, this approach would prevent the need for a prolonged US occupation.


Think Domino Theory, Robert, which is discussed elsewhere here.

Fourth, there would be far less damage to the fabric of multilateral cooperation and international law.


You seriously expect cooperation from France and Saudi Arabia? Please. International law is another way of saying "UN Approval". What about US law, that old, withering parchment called the Constitution? Don't we have a right to protect ourselves?

Fifth, it would neutralize Iraq as a military threat to the region without the disruptive side effects that might prove more disastrous to world peace and US interests than Saddam himself.


Then we'd have Iran, unchecked, right next door. Am I rude in suggesting Donald Rumsfeld knows a lot more than Boy Robert about what should happen in this region?

Finally, bombing weapons sites would indicate that the United States is very serious while stopping short of all-out war. That, in turn, might allow for one round of diplomacy that could result in a viable inspection system. If Saddam is denied weapons, one way or another, we can avoid all-out war.


The problem with that approach is that Robert expects an incremental approach to work. What worked in Afghanistan, where Kuttner types tossed around words like 'quagmire', was a relentless campaign which led to a collapsing of the Taliban in about a month, and swabbing the deck thereafter.

Invasion of Iraq would mark the failure of US power to use its influence in proportion to achievable US goals. There are military alternatives that add up to more realistic defense policy than going to war.


Here we have a serious contortion of logic. How else can someone read tripe like "There are military alternatives that add up to more realistic defense policy than going to war." and not scratch your head, seeing as our military's always been pretty good at what it does?

We've gone over why additional requests for inspections won't work. This guy's a complete idiot. Stick to writing about subjects you suck a lot less at.

Robert Kuttner's is co-editor of The American Prospect. His column appears regularly in the Globe.


Robert Kuttner's is co-editor of The American Prospect. His column disappears regularly at the Angry Cyclist.

This story ran on page A15 of the Boston Globe on 10/16/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.




 
Fact Checking Vennochi's Ass

So Joan Vennochi would like you to believe there's no graft or other forms of corruption in Massachusetts government.

Nope, no corruption here. Everybody vote for Shannon O'Brien.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002
 
Marty on Economics

Marty Meehan, man of his word, imports economic wisdom on the masses.

The challenge our state faces


By Marty Meehan, 10/14/2002

HAVING A VISION to improve the economy and create jobs in Massachusetts should be the number one campaign issue in this year's governor's race. Shannon O'Brien and Mitt Romney, in their public statements and policy papers, have different visions when it comes to the economy.


Yes. One likes Big Government and one does not.

Romney views the governor as the state's top ''salesman,'' whose job it is to attract business to relocate in Massachusetts by offering whatever short-term incentives are necessary. O'Brien, on the other hand, has a plan to invest in public education, worker training, and infrastructure that will help local small and midsized businesses expand in Massachusetts.


That's the basic premise, tax cuts as 'short-term' while increased funding for inefficient schools, wasteful worker training programs and other DemocRATic sops get painted with Goodness. Are we forgetting big dinosaur companies, Marty?

I serve as co-chair of the bipartisan Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition founded on the principle that our regions should work together to invest in the long-term economic health of all our states. This philosophy runs contrary to the discredited notion that states can compete only by engaging in cross-state poaching through escalating corporate welfare schemes.


This could be read as 'differeing tax structures' are no longer welcome, but we're short on details here.

The Bay State's own experience is instructive. Over the past decades, Massachusetts has emerged as a hot spot in the New Economy. While other states have pursued corporate giveaways, Massachusetts has instead invested in research and development, education, and worker training. It is a proven path to economic success.

Despite the difficulties we face in this present recession, Massachusetts's long-term economic performance has been exceptional. Statistics from before the downturn show our strength.


That reads like a self-contradictory statement. "We've done well in the past, but we're getting slammed right now." It's not me, right?

According to the US Department of Commerce, our state ranked 13th in the country for economic growth from 1991 to 2000, expanding its output by 48.1 percent compared with 40.8 percent nationally. Massachusetts ranked 8th for manufacturing productivity in 2000, with production workers adding $100.07 in value for every hour worked, compared to a national level of $83.42. And Massachusetts ranked fourth among states for research and development expenditures, at 4.6 percent of its gross state product in 1999 compared to 2.5 percent nationally, according to the National Science Foundation.


So during the Clinton years, we were in the upper quartile.

It is no surprise, then, that Massachusetts is consistently placed on lists of great places to work and live, alongside other locations such as Seattle, California's Silicon Valley, and the Twin Cities in Minnesota.

What is surprising, however, is the persistent cry by some, including Romney, for a series of state tax incentives as a strategy for economic prosperity. While portrayed as a new idea, it actually has its roots 70 years ago. Back in the 1930s, Mississippi ushered in the modern age of smokestack-chasing economic development programs when it rolled out a series of generous tax incentives to attract manufacturers to the state. It was the same idea then as now - slash costs to attract businesses. The firms that did relocate there were low-wage, low-skill operations.


He's implying that a Romney administration would bring back "smokestack-chasing economic development programs", which was what, so Manchester of an idea? As I'm writing this, I'm losing a lot of respect for Mr. Meehan.

Meanwhile, the tax incentives undermined Mississippi's ability to invest in the education and infrastructure necessary for homegrown wealth creation.


Because they were busy with target practice.

Since then, every state has attempted to use corporate tax giveaways and corporate welfare to attract businesses from elsewhere or to prevent local businesses from moving. But, this is a zero-sum game: one community gains jobs at the expense of another community that loses jobs. Perhaps it is worse than a zero-sum game, because the ''winner'' must forgo corporate tax revenue that otherwise could be invested in public education, infrastructure development, and quality-of-life improvements.


Marty forgets that switching states might mean the difference between survival and bankruptcy.

A better economic development paradigm is one that emphasizes investment.


Right. Investments "in research and development, education, and worker training". Government spending, in other words. That's so Carter, Marty.

The fact is that states with high-performing economies are not low-cost locations, such as Mississippi, North Dakota, or Montana. Instead, the most vibrant economies are in states like Massachusetts, Washington, California, and Minnesota-states that have invested in universities, schools, roads, parks, arts and people.

Congress can complement such investment plans with national tax cuts aimed at all small businesses. For example, I supported the Renewal Communities initiative, which provides small business tax cuts in eligible cities such as Lowell and Lawrence based on objective criteria - not haphazard gimmicks.


You mean, like haphazard gimmicks tax cuts for everybody?

Similarly, the Northeast-Midwest Coalition fought to pass Brownfields legislation that encourages private investment in environmental clean-ups-for all eligible small companies.

Massachusetts would do well to continue on an investment path that fosters economic growth.


Inefficient government spending isn't the best way, comrade.

Our state has benefited from firms that tap our well-educated and trained workers to produce high-value products and services. The low road of corporate tax giveaways threatens the infrastructure necessary to promote innovative, inventive economic development.


Never met a tax cut I liked.

Democratic congressman Marty Meehan represents the 5th District of Massachusetts.

This story ran on page A15 of the Boston Globe on 10/14/2002.

© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.



 
You're a Rich Girl, 'cause you shop at Sak's

I vow to Fisk this idiot on a periodical basis, maybe once a week.

Billion dollar question faces the next governor


By Joan Vennochi, 10/15/2002


What, no woman on the street interview at "a swank Boston department store"? It must be getting closer to the election!

SHE IS FRESH from slicing another $202 million from the state budget. So, it seemed like a good time to ask Acting Governor Jane Swift the $1 billion question: as in, is it really possible to eliminate $1 billion in state spending due to ''waste, fraud and mismanagement,'' as gubernatorial candidate and fellow Republican Mitt Romney breezily insisted is ''absolutely'' possible, during one recent debate?

''The value of being a candidate is that you don't have to demonstrate in hard numbers your hypothesis,'' replies Swift. ''If there is anybody out there with a good idea on how to save millions, that isn't going to impact people, I'm all ears.''


Mitt Romney, caught with a right hook. Ow, that hurts!

Translation: in a word - no. One billion dollar bills are not available for easy plucking out of the state budget, however tempting and voter-pleasing that thought might be.


"that isn't going to impact people" - just use the word layoffs, OK? Layoffs and bankruptcies impact people, it's a fact of life. I was impacted once, and I'm far better for it. Maybe some people are afraid of change, but that's not an excuse to do nothing and run deficits.

That budget truth frames the real values debate that should be the underpinning of this gubernatorial campaign. The next governor, Republican or Democratic, will not be able to pull $1 billion in easy, magical savings out of a hat. (Romney, by the way, also pledges to repeal this year's $1.2 billion tax hike and avoid budget cuts.)


Because if he or she could, they'll share the stage with these guys.

But there is a real $1 billion question; in fact, it could be a $2 billion question.


Alex, I'll take State Budget Cuts for $2 billion, please.

The next governor faces at least $1 billion gap - possibly $2 billion - between tax collections and planned spending. That was the figure put out by Michael Widmer, the highly credible president of the nonprofit Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, during an economic development conference sponsored last Friday by the University of Massachusetts.

Widmer says that closing the gap in the fiscal 2004 budget means either deep program cuts, more revenue or both. More revenue means more money coming into state coffers from somewhere - higher taxes, lower lottery pay-outs, casino gambling, whatever. The next governor will have to plug that gap in the budget proposal that will be due out by the end of January 2003.


Deep cuts it is, then.

Asked if the new governor will be able to trim $1 billion in waste, fraud, and mismanagement, Widmer responds ''absolutely not.''


Care to expand on that, learned elder statesman of high credibility?

Widmer credits Swift for doing the best job of budget-cutting she can do, given the hand she was dealt. State legislators passed a budget they knew would require further cuts, and left it to Swift to make them. Given that major portions of the budget cannot be touched, such as aid to cities and towns, ''she is left with human services as the main target. In that sense, she has been backed into a corner in terms of the possibilities,'' notes Widmer.


So now it's Birmingham's fault? Cool.

He also gives her credit for trying to produce a balanced budget for the remainder of the current fiscal year - saving her successor from dealing with that problem.

Indeed, as her term runs down, Swift is doing what Romney and Democrat Shannon O'Brien only talk about doing: making tough choices to close the growing gap between spending and revenue.


So what? Won't they inherit a worse mess?

''What we're looking at now is eliminating services,'' says Swift, bluntly. ''... Most of the decisions we've had to make have come after carefully going through the budget and had to do with expanding or allowing access to certain services. There are other things I could cut that would be extraordinarily painful and would have a large impact on a lot of people. '' She is calling upon the Legislature to come back into session to deal with the rest of this year's deficit, or else she will have no choice but to make more cuts in human services.


How will we deal with it, Jane? A tax hike? What happens if Question 1 passes? Glad your political career's at an end yet?

Look at the cuts Swift announced last week: $7.8 million from community health centers; $3.7 million in antismoking programs; $6 million in aid to hospitals; $6 million from higher education. She also demanded that all 3,152 managers of executive agencies take five-day unpaid furloughs for $3 million in savings. How many of us would be unable to make a mortgage payment, if our employers did the same thing?


Five days is one unpaid week for the year, a pre-tax 1.9% decrease in pay. It's not on our collective guilt to bear if such a person cannot endure this kind of economic hardship.

Some will undoubtedly say, so what?


Uh, like me?

Who cares about the people hurt by such cuts?


Uh, not me, not anymore, anyway. I was once affected. Why shouldn't that opinion count?

That is where the values debate comes in. That is where the voters of this Commonwealth get to choose a path. So, let's choose it.


Some debate. I'm supposed to continue to pay for hack managers' salaries so they don't lose their homes.

Talking about a nonexistent $1 billion in waste, fraud, and mismanagement is a dead end. It is nothing more than a rhetorical device that sidesteps the real $1 billion question.


So Joan would have you believe there's no such thing as waste, fraud and abuse in government programs, especially in Massachusetts? Then why are all these people dedicated to its' prevention?

Preying on ignorance. How noble, Joan.

Joan Vennochi'se-mail address is vennochi@globe.com.