June 30, 2003

Don't worry, we're on it

While the Administration is cutting taxes (and thus government revenues), a new report from the Council on Foreign Relations says the country is dangerously unprepared for terrorist attacks. Two members of the panel which issued the report were on the News Hour last night: Senator Warren Rudman and former NSC counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke. They recommend spending 98 billion dollars to improve emergency response infrastructure, from people to equipment. Some choice bits:

FORMER SEN. WARREN RUDMAN: We took a number of months talking to every emergency group in America: Police chiefs, firemen, fire chiefs associations, hospitals, emergency medical technicians and so forth. And we simply asked the question: if a chemical or a biological attack were to occur, or a nuclear or radiological attack, are you prepared to deal with it? The answer was universally no.

I want to make it clear we're not here to criticize anyone: the Congress, the administration. It's not surprising that even coming up on two years that we're not prepared, but the firemen and policemen, who are our first line of defense certainly are entitled to the same kind of equipment going into their form of combat that our troops had in Iraq. They need interoperable communications equipment. They need chemical and biological protective gear. The public health agencies need ways to decide what we're dealing with.

And the fact is that these people - and this is where all the information came from - told us unequivocally, they are not yet prepared and they're a long way from it. And that really is almost indisputable.


MARGARET WARNER: But let's go back to their criticism that the numbers you came with, for what's needed, are inflated. How did you come up with that? How did you prevent all the people on your task force - police and fire fighters and so on - just from giving pie in the sky wish lists?

RICHARD CLARKE: Well, they did. We worked with them. Senator Rudman used to work on the Appropriations Committee. He knows how to ask the tough questions. The fire associations gave us requests for $85 billion. We worked it with them, and we went through and we knocked it down and knocked down to 30-something billion dollars. The number doesn't include any number for police departments.

And we're firing 80,000 police around the country. It's hard to believe this. But in an era of terrorist threat, 80,000 police around the country are being given their pink slips. We don't include any money for that in this. We really low-balled the number. (My emphasis)

Go: read the entire segment. Then ask yourself if the country is spending its money wisely by cutting taxes rather than helping out the states with their budget crises, so they can pay for those EMTs, cops, and firefighters. A spokesman for the Dept. of Homeland Security said the council's new study contains little new information except for the huge sums of money it recommends, and added that many of the report's other recommendations have already been suggested by the Bush administration or are being implemented. The folks on the ground who spoke to the CFR panel haven't been told about those recommendations or plans, it seems. DHS seems to be treating this like just another partisan attack against the Administration, rather than the findings of a blue-ribbon panel; don't forget that Rudman chaired, with Gary Hart, a similar panel before September 11. That one concluded the country wasn't prepared for a terrorism attack back then, too.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:21 PM | Comments (1)

Here's a helluva real estate deal

About affirmative action: Republicans profess to hate it, right? So how come they demand not just equal but favored hiring at lobbying firms? It's not subtle pressure, either; "hire our side or lose access" appears to be the favored approach for Delay and his K Street Project. Nicholas Confessore has just amplified on this idea far beyond what I'd thought of in this month's Washington Monthly. If you like the idea of a one-party government, you'll enjoy his article; if you think that's a lousy idea, like I do, you need to get electorally active in a hurry.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:27 AM | Comments (1)

June 29, 2003

Authors needed

I used to get compulsive about genre fiction writers. If I found one I liked, I used to buy every new book they wrote. Some of the authors whose books I've bought in thrall to this obsession include Alistair MacLean, John D. MacDonald, Dick Francis, Rex Stout, Louis L'Amour, Manning Coles, Robert Heinlein, and E.E. "Doc" Smith (the Lensman and Skylark series). Then there are the authors who were so prolific it would be nearly impossible to collect them all without a serious addiction and a bottomless wallet, like Philip Jose Farmer, Clifford Simak, Arthur C. Clarke, and Isaac Asimov.

I haven't found any new authors over the past 10-15 years who have made me feel this need; I've tried Elmore Leonard, but his work doesn't grab me quite the same way.

Anybody got any suggestions?

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:11 PM | Comments (12)

June 28, 2003

No help required, thanks

Remember Yellowstone National Park? The first national park ever created? The park Batty (go see her photos) just visited? Well, the Bush Administration says that it no longer merits endangered status on UNESCO's World Heritage List. It was declared endangered in September of 1995 for water, sewage, and mine-related problems.

"Yellowstone is no longer in danger," Paul Hoffman, an Interior Department official, wrote in an April 7 letter to the World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

But there is one hitch: The professional staff appears to disagree with the administration's assessment that the government is addressing all the problems that put Yellowstone on the endangered list in 1995. A draft report by the staff earlier this year identified continuing threats to the quality of the park's streams, bison herd and cutthroat trout populations -- and to visitors' overall experience of the park.

The final report sent to the international committee by the Bush administration had toned down or deleted these concerns. Copies of both reports were provided to the Los Angeles Times by the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, a regional conservation group.

Hoffman, deputy assistant interior secretary with responsibility for the national parks, said in an interview that the administration was not trying to "sugarcoat" Yellowstone's condition. He stressed that the serious threats to the park had been or were being addressed.

Well, maybe so, Mr. Hoffman, but given the Administration's editing of the EPA's climate report, forgive me if I don't believe you.

"Tinkering with scientific information, either striking it from reports or altering it, is becoming a pattern of behavior," said Roger G. Kennedy, a former director of the National Park Service. "It represents the politicizing of a scientific process, which at once manifests a disdain for professional scientists working for our government and a willingness to be less than candid with the American people."

Anyone remember Adlai Stevenson being called a "pointy-headed intellectual?" This Administration doesn't like science or scientists unless their views conform to its own world view, and it's not reluctant to suppress alternate opinions and facts if there's a disagreement.

This is Yellowstone, the oldest national park in the United States, and we don't want to fix the damn sewer problems? What the hell kind of stewardship is this? This should infuriate every individual who has ever been to a national park; your favorite one could be next.

Posted by Linkmeister at 02:48 PM | Comments (3)

June 27, 2003

Offshore High-tech

As long as I'm talking about labor issues, at the 2003 Outsourcing Conference (man, the name itself offends me), a group of high-tech workers (some with advanced degrees) picketed to protest the loss of jobs to places like India. I can't vouch for the accuracy of these data, but:

A recent study by Forrester Research Inc. estimated that by 2015, 3.36 million jobs, worth about $136 billion annually in wages, will have moved offshore as U.S. employers look for ways to reduce salary costs and office rents.
Oh, and check this out: Proponents say "as American companies grow stronger, profits will trickle down (that phrase again) to create new jobs in this country at everything from restaurants to car dealerships to universities." Good; instead of manufacturing and IT jobs, we'll get more bus-help, commission-only auto salespeople, and what, college professors? Why would college professorships be created through strengthening American companies? Will there be a dramatic increase in endowed chairs? Do these guys really believe this kind of nonsense?

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

War on labor continues

Under the radar, the Dept. of Labor wants to reclassify jobs to eliminate overtime pay; the public comment period ends Monday. "In 78 job classifications that the group (that being the Economic Policy Institute) examined out of 257 white-collar occupations, an estimated 8 million workers would lose their right to overtime pay," including emergency medical technicians, paralegals, licensed practical nurses, draftsmen, surveyors, reporters, editors, chefs, cooks, dental hygienists and health technicians. (My emphasis.)

No danger of any members of those professions reaching the top 400 taxpayers mentioned below anytime soon, I'd say.

Updated to Add: As you might expect, DOL disputes EPI's findings.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:20 PM | Comments (1)

A Classless Society?

If the President wants to talk about class warfare, he and his contributors have been firing cannonshots for quite a while, a new IRS report shows.

The data, in a report that the I.R.S. released last night, shows that the average income of the 400 wealthiest taxpayers was almost $174 million in 2000. That was nearly quadruple the $46.8 million average in 1992. The minimum income to qualify for the list was $86.8 million in 2000, more than triple the minimum income of $24.4 million of the 400 wealthiest taxpayers in 1992.


Over the nine years reviewed in the new report, the incomes of the top 400 taxpayers increased at 15 times the rate of the bottom 90 percent of Americans; their average income rose 17 percent, to $27,000, from 1992 to 2000.

But the tax rate for those top 400 increased at a much slower rate, "from 1 percent of all taxes in 1992 to 1.6 percent in 2000, when their tax bills averaged $38.6 million each." Progressive taxation, huh? And this data doesn't include the Bush tax cuts from 2001 through 2003; when those are factored in, "the average tax bill for the top 400 would have been about $30.4 million — a savings of $8.3 million, or more than a fifth, according to an analysis of the I.R.S. data by The New York Times. That would have resulted in an average tax rate of 17.5 percent." As Bush the First used to say, "Don't cry for me, Argentina."

We need another revolution.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:13 AM | Comments (1)

June 26, 2003

My way or the highway

Amidst all the sound and fury about the Supreme Court's decision striking down the Texas sodomy law, this qualifies as the most hypocritical remark I've heard so far (paraphrasing): Ken Connor of the Family Research Council said, on NPR's All Things Considered, "we are increasingly being ruled by judicial oligarchs, not by the will of the people."

Didn't bother you much when Bush v. Gore went your way, did it, Mr. Connor?

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:48 PM | Comments (1)

June 25, 2003

Fun with Google

Here's a fun game. What ads would Google place on your blog (click and enter your URL), if you signed up for AdSense? (Found over at Buzz Machine).

For the record, it thinks Poliglut, HIV/AIDS Resources, Hectoring Hegemons, and AIDS Prevention would be good ones on mine. The AIDS ones probably relate to the link to the Link and Think project; Poliglut is a political news and commentary site, and Hectoring Hegemons is a link to an article defining the Project for a New American Century at something called the Scottish Political Discussion, which appears to be a group political blog.

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:47 PM | Comments (0)

What do you know?

Was this just another example of the current Administration's disdain for the policies of the previous one, or an interagency dispute over who could/should do what, or both? It would appear that the Bushies had a few chances to get OBL prior to September 11, but couldn't or wouldn't pull the trigger.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- When President Bush took office in January 2001, the White House was told that Predator drones had recently spotted Osama bin Laden as many as three times and officials were urged to arm the unmanned planes with missiles to kill the al-Qaida leader. But the administration failed to get drones back into the Afghan skies until after the Sept. 11 attacks later that year, current and former U.S. officials say.


Nearly a dozen current and former senior U.S. officials described to AP the extensive discussions in 2000 and 2001 inside the Clinton and Bush administrations about using an armed Predator to kill bin Laden. Most spoke only on condition of anonymity, citing the classified nature of the information. Two former national security aides also cite some of the discussion inside the Bush White House in a recent book they published on terrorism.

The officials said that within days of President Bush taking office in January 2001, his top terrorism expert on the National Security Council, Richard Clarke, urged National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to resume the drone flights to track down bin Laden, citing the successes of late 2000.

The drones were one component of a broader plan that Clarke, a career government employee, had devised in the final days of the Clinton administration to go after al-Qaida after the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole. Clinton officials decided just before Christmas 2000 to forward the plan to the incoming Bush administration rather than implement it during Clinton's final days, the officials said. (Emphasis added)

Newsweek reported a while back (as did NPR) that Clarke, who was not just "a career government employee" but in fact chair of the Counterterrorism Security Group at NSC, briefed Rice and White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card on July 5, 2001, telling them "something spectacular is going to happen." Yet nothing was done.

Now, all of us have taken over a job from somebody in our own work lives; whether you thought your predecessor was an idiot or not, haven't you at least examined what it was that individual was focusing on and tried to determine the importance of that issue? Why then were Clarke's warnings and recommendations ignored? Was the ABC (Anything but Clinton) doctrine firmly in place, making all opinions of those connected to his Administration suspect? I know what I think.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:38 PM | Comments (1)

June 24, 2003

R.I.P. Leon Uris

Leon Uris has died. Thirty-five years ago, after reading "Exodus," I was on a mission to read all his books. I think I stopped just before "Trinity" was published; maybe I should go back and read that. Two folks in the article are quoted as saying "Uris remains a reader's writer and a critic's nightmare." I can't speak for the critics, but for this reader, I'd say that was accurate. "Exodus" might have been my first exposure to Israel's national story, and I suspect I read it either shortly before or shortly after the Six Days War, which captured the imagination of a high-school student. In Northern Virginia, that war also made me aware that I had some fellow students who were Jewish; I'd never consciously known that before.

From Uris's books I went on to read Chaim Potok's "The Chosen" and other Jewish authors like Leo Rosten, Irving Howe, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and Saul Bellow; in fact, I should probably credit Uris with triggering my lifelong interest in World War II history. It's because of that initial interest that I eventually read William Shirer's "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich," his "Berlin Diary," and many other histories of the period.

Thank you, Mr. Uris. I have had many enlightening hours of reading thanks to your books.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:42 AM | Comments (3)

June 23, 2003

The Baghdad Bulletin

Well now. Here's an English-language independent semi-weekly (soon to be weekly, the publisher hopes) newsmagazine published in Baghdad. Its mission: "The Baghdad Bulletin is committed to covering the issues surrounding the redevelopment of Iraq after Saddam Hussein's rule."

That's a positive development, I'd say; it provides voices from the ground. The content is pretty sparse at the moment, but we'll see. It has sections for Baghdad, Basrah, Kirkuk, and Mosul; there's nothing for Basrah yet, but they appear to be working on it. If you, like me, have been wondering why it's taken so long to get power back up and running, check out the "Utilities" section.

Posted by Linkmeister at 04:48 PM | Comments (1)

Cats and filters and wizards

What's the truth about cats landing right-side up?

Requiring pornography filters for library computers can be within the purview of Congress, the Supreme Court ruled today. The majority felt that as long as adults could ask that the filters be removed for their use and libraries could do so, free speech was not infringed upon. That could be a little chilling, I suppose, and in practice I suspect it won't work, particularly when budget cuts are forcing libraries to reduce staff; what library has enough help to go turn the filters on and off?

Speaking of books, I confess I own one of the 5 Million copies of Harry Potter sold on Saturday. I'm only up to chapter four, though, and if anyone tells me anything beyond that I shall be furious.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:07 AM | Comments (1)

June 22, 2003

Get your access here

Mr. Bush kept emphasizing the tax benefits for people with modest incomes, not the more extensive tax relief he wanted for the well heeled. He often had onstage with him a couple with two children and an income of $40,000 or $50,000 whose taxes would be cut by more than $1,000, mostly because of the increase in the child tax credit.

But the indisputable fact is that the bulk of the tax cut will go to the wealthy. A study by Citizens for Tax Justice, a liberal research institute whose calculations have gone unchallenged, found that half of all taxpayers would get a cut of less than $100 a year this year and that by 2005, three-quarters would get less than $100.

On the other hand, almost two-thirds of all the tax savings will go to the wealthiest 10 percent of taxpayers, and the richest 1 percent will get an average tax reduction of nearly $100,000 a year.

That's from an article in yesterday's NYT, entitled "Bush May Have Exaggerated, but Did He Lie?" Here's another opinion about that.

The first article is relatively kind, explaining that FDR occasionally stretched his language a bit; the second is more politely angry. Read 'em and think about the amount of money this President is raising from the beneficiaries of those tax cuts. He expects to get $5 million in Manhattan this weekend, in addition to the $2 million or so he got last week in Georgia. I'm willing to bet there were very few of those average Americans in attendance at either event.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:39 PM | Comments (1)

June 20, 2003

Big Brother has allies

Apparently the NGOs are supposed to stand up and salute the Bush Administration like everybody else. NGO Watch, cited in that article, has the following on its home page:

NGOWATCH.ORG is a collaborative project of the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research and the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies.

Recent years have seen an unprecedented growth in the power and influence of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). While it is true that many NGOs remain true to grassroots authenticity conjured up in images of protest and sacrifice, it is also true that non-governmental organizations are now serious business. NGO officials and their activities are widely cited in the media and relied upon in congressional testimony; corporations regularly consult with NGOs prior to major investments. Many groups have strayed beyond their original mandates and assumed quasi-governmental roles. Increasingly, non-governmental organizations are not just accredited observers at international organizations, they are full-fledged decision-makers.

Throughout much of the world, non-governmental organizations are unregulated, spared any requirement to account for expenditures, to disclose activities or sources of funding or even to declare their officers. That is not the case in the United States, where the tax code affords the public some transparency about its NGOs. But where is the rest of the story? Do NGOs influence international organizations like the World Trade Organization? What is their agenda? Who runs these groups? Who funds them? And to whom are they accountable?

In an effort to bring clarity and accountability to the burgeoning world of NGOs, AEI and the Federalist Society have launched NGOWATCH.ORG. This site will, without prejudice, compile factual data about non-governmental organizations. It will include analysis of relevant issues, treaties, and international organizations where NGOs are active. There will be cross-referenced information about corporations and NGOs, mission statements and news about causes and campaigns. There will be links to NGOs and to articles and authors of interest.

NGOWATCH.ORG is a work in progress. AEI and the Federalist Society will continue upgrading and improving this site. Suggestions are appreciated. Non-governmental organizations are a time-honored tradition, in the United States and throughout the world. With greater transparency for NGOs, there will be greater accountability, and with that, we hope, greater responsibility and effectiveness for the many who are engaged in great work.

The italics are mine. "Without prejudice?" "Full-fledged decision-makers?" It's to laugh. What are AEI and the Federalist Society if not decision-makers in this Administration? NGO Watch is yet another attempt on the part of two very influential organizations to discredit the work of non-governmental organizations like CARE International, Human Rights Watch, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Rainforest Alliance, NOW, and OXFAM. If you click on the "Media Guide" button on its home page, you will find a list of its members, including Robert Bork, Jeane Kirkpatrick, and Richard Perle. I guess there's no question as to the agenda of those folks, now is there?

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:10 PM | Comments (4)


Screw the science, the White House says. Smokestack and tailpipe emissions? Those have nuthin' to do with climate, according to a new EPA report heavily edited by the Administration. This is another example of politics and ideology overriding facts by the President and his advisers. It happened with the WMDs (hey, if CIA won't tell me what I want, the Pentagon's in-house intelligence people will; even one of the chief apologists is now admitting evidence may have been slanted) and it's happening with global warming. Oh, and the September 11 probe is being hampered by a lack of information as well. Is anyone seeing a pattern here?

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:52 AM | Comments (2)

June 18, 2003

Here's to the teachers

I am hard-pressed to remember the names of any of my college professors, at least from the University of Arizona. When I was going there I wound up in 1000-student lectures in the auditorium three days a week, with one discussion section led by a grad student. Later at Hawai'i Pacific I had classes small enough to get to know the instructors (we'd have an evening stats class, and afterwards the prof and a couple of us went downstairs to the bar and shot the breeze while having a couple of beers and doing the homework for the following week). I remember an International Business class taught by the Dean of the College to five other students and myself. But mostly, the college profs have faded from memory. High school, though...

The best teacher I've ever had taught French levels III, IV, and V and Russian I and II. He was so good that when he announced at the end of French III that he would be starting the first Russian classes in the state high school system (this was 1966), two-thirds of the French class immediately registered for Russian I for our junior year. Most of us stuck with it through our senior year as well. Mr. Adair R. McConnell was good.

What brought this on? Well, I was over at Mig's place, and I ran across a poem he posted the other day; I'm not sure where he got it, but I tracked down the author's web site. It goes like this:

What Teachers Make, or
You can always go to law school if things don't work out
By Taylor Mali

He says the problem with teachers is, "What's a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?" He reminds the other dinner guests that it's true what they say about teachers: Those who can, do; those who can't, teach.

I decide to bite my tongue instead of his
and resist the temptation to remind the dinner guests
that it's also true what they say about lawyers.

Because we're eating, after all, and this is polite company.

"I mean, youčre a teacher, Taylor," he says.
"Be honest. What do you make?"

And I wish he hadn't done that
(asked me to be honest)
because, you see, I have a policy
about honesty and ass-kicking:
if you ask for it, I have to let you have it.

You want to know what I make?

I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
I can make a C+ feel like a Congressional medal of honor
and an A- feel like a slap in the face.
How dare you waste my time with anything less than your very best.

I make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall
in absolute silence. No, you may not work in groups.
No, you may not ask a question.
Why won't I let you get a drink of water?
Because you're not thirsty, you're bored, that's why.

I make parents tremble in fear when I call home:
I hope I haven't called at a bad time,
I just wanted to talk to you about something Billy said today.
Billy said, "Leave the kid alone. I still cry sometimes, don't you?"
And it was the noblest act of courage I have ever seen.

I make parents see their children for who they are
and what they can be.

You want to know what I make?

I make kids wonder,
I make them question.
I make them criticize.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them write.
I make them read, read, read.
I make them spell definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful, definitely
over and over and over again until they will never misspell
either one of those words again.
I make them show all their work in math.
And hide it on their final drafts in English.
I make them understand that if you got this (brains)
then you follow this (heart) and if someone ever tries to judge you
by what you make, you give them this (the finger).

Let me break it down for you, so you know what I say is true:
I make a goddamn difference! What about you?

So here's to the teachers I know: to Batty, Platypus, Shelley, Scott, Skatemom, Dave, and Skarlet. I admire you. Without you folks and the profession you follow, the world would be a lousier place.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:00 PM | Comments (8)

Bits and pieces

Remember the idea of allowing DEA to campaign against ballot initiatives for medical marijuana? Good sense and a few Democrats prevailed, at least so far.

Federal taxes are shifting away from the investing class to the working class with every successive year, and Mr. Bush keeps complaining about his opponents using "class warfare!"

Did the press whitewash its coverage of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq?

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:51 PM | Comments (0)

June 17, 2003

Whine, whine

Now this one is new: "Our password server failed; that's why you can't sign on to the ISP. Try in an hour or two."

Oh, good. Can you folks (those folks would be Southern freakin' Bell/Yahoo; you'll all concede those aren't small fry, right? Right.) spell "redundancy?"

So I try the alternate ISP and learn (after 40 minutes on hold) that they've changed the password scheme, and my old one won't work because it now needs a couple of prefixed letters and a special character. Never mind that the old one works fine on the website of the alternate ISP. Has the alternate ISP (that would be a large telephone company whose name begins with V) ever thought of communicating this to its customers? Apparently not.


Posted by Linkmeister at 09:39 PM | Comments (3)

June 16, 2003

Harry Potter

Knee-jerk fundamentalist response to Harry Potter:

It's satanism!

Knee-jerk liberal response to Harry Potter:

The new book is slightly under 900 pages; Ms. Rowling may single-handedly be condemning a generation to spinal curvature! Scholastic, issue the book in multiple volumes!

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:40 PM | Comments (13)

June 15, 2003

Senator Jeffords speaks up

Senator Jim Jeffords gave a speech at the Nat'l Press Club June 5, on the second anniversary of his departure from the Republican party; he laid out some hard truths about many things, from foreign policy to taxes to education to deficits. Here are some excerpts:

His polls and famous advisors tell him to talk about compassion and job growth, and how he is helping Main Street. But that is all it is, talk.

In reality he adopts hard-right proposals that favor those who need help least and neglect those who need help the most. In reality we are now in the longest period of continued job loss since the Great Depression. Since the beginning of this Bush administration, 2.7 million private sector jobs have been lost and the number of unemployed Americans has increased by over 45 percent. In the first three months of this year alone, America has lost another half-million jobs. President Bush has said his tax plan is a "jobs growth package." But the only thing guaranteed to grow is the federal budget deficit.

He says one thing and does another. Does he think we don't notice?

We will be paying for his tax cuts with borrowed funds, money borrowed from our children and grandchildren who will be forced to foot the bill. And, according to reports, the Bush administration intends to ask for more tax cuts next year. The effect of these tax cuts will be enduring -- and enormously damaging. These tax cuts will widen the gap between rich and poor. These tax cuts help those who need it least and do nothing for those who need it most. These tax cuts provide a $90,000 tax cut for millionaires, while millions of parents with incomes under $26,000 will see no benefit from the increased child credit. This is compassion? Again, he says one thing and does another.

Does he think we don't notice?

Go. Read that speech. Senator Jeffords has more facts at his fingertips than many of us, and he makes excellent points. (via TalkLeft).

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:44 PM | Comments (3)

June 14, 2003


I just realized that the new monitor I purchased has a larger screen than both the television in my bedroom and the television in the kitchen. What does this say about my priorities?

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:32 PM | Comments (13)

June 13, 2003


I got the old drive into the new machine at the expense of the CD-ROM drive; I think I should get a CD-RW to put in there anyway, just so I have some form of media to back up data to. I managed to get my mail program up and running with the addresses and all the old mail files, although I inadvertently installed a blank copy of the thing on the C drive in the process. The virus program was successfully reinstalled, also on the C drive, so now I have an outdated copy on the D drive. My old Office programs reside on the D drive, and every time I open the program (Excel or Word) I get "file missing" or "registry" errors; fortunately I can still access the old data files despite that. And apparently I have to reinstall the FTP program, although it worked just fine on the same drive it still resides on. Weird and unpleasant surprises abound.

I've had a lot of fun this week; how about you?

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:12 PM | Comments (1)

June 11, 2003


Too old for theatre, too young for children, and too bitter for anything else, Julie Powell was looking for a challenge. And in the Julie/Julia project she found it. Risking her marriage, her job, and her cats' well-being, she has signed on for a deranged assignment.

365 days. 536 recipes. One girl and a crappy outer borough kitchen.

How far will it go? We can only wait. And wait. And wait...

What the hell is this, you ask? Well, if you missed the CBS Evening News this evening, you missed some video of The Julie/Julia Project. This is a hoot. She's trying to make every recipe in Julia Child's cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

In a year. With a day job. And a husband. And cats.

And she's blogging it.

She started August 25; read the archives.

In other news, I'm having trouble getting my old hard drive out of the Packard Bell case it's in; those idiots (now NEC) seemed to delight in making things hard to get at. It has two screws holding the drive in place in such a position I need a Phillips-head screwdriver in the shape of an Allen wrench to get at them. I'll keep you informed.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:01 PM | Comments (5)

June 08, 2003

Uh-oh--suggestions wanted

My Windows 95 machine failed today. Symptoms were a screen which showed me nothing but diagonals, no matter how many times I rebooted and scanned the disk. The funny thing was it would show me the entire scandisk process and then fail when it completed.

At first I thought this was a monitor error, since it's been trying to die (I've had to leave the power on to the screen for months because it was unreliable when I powered it down), so I went down to Office Depot and bought a new 17" flat-screen monitor for $118 ($88 post-mfr. rebate), which I thought was a pretty good price. But when I got home and plugged the new monitor in, the same error occurred, so it was time for Plan B.

My good friend Ali and her husband Tom sent me a rehabbed tower a while back (Tom does this kind of work for friends, and they assured me this was one that was "just lying around," so I accepted. It was a bolt from the blue when it arrived, though). Thanks again, guys! It has both Win98 and Win2000 Pro installed, so I hooked up the new monitor to that one, unplugged and replugged all the other peripherals (oops, printer...gotta do the printer), and tried again. Eureka; the bugger works.

However, for reasons as yet undetermined, when I got back onto the web this evening and called up this blog, none of the right-hand side pictures/buttons and blogroll shows up. Once I saved this entry, the right side appeared. Too weird.

Oh, and I also think I'm gonna try to remove the hard drive from the old machine and put it into an empty slot on this one, since with no operating system on the old one I see no way of copying data from that one to this (this machine has no USB port, so don't bother suggesting that, thanks). I have tons of Office documents, my Eudora mail files and addresses, and miscellaneous stuff to the tune of about a gigabyte on there, much of which I need).

Help! Any ideas?

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:58 PM | Comments (13)

Iraqi museum news

Apparently the number of missing artifacts, originally thought to be 170,000, is far less than that. That number was, logically enough, extrapolated from the total number of artifacts formerly kept in the museum. Since there were none to be seen at the time of the initial reports, all of them were presumed to be looted and gone, according to John Russell of the Mass. College of Art on NPR's Weekend Edition today. It turns out that was an error. Many of them had apparently been stored in bank vaults, some as far back as the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, and were no longer on public display. The number of artifacts still thought to be missing is around 3,000, still a lot, but far better than 170,000. That's extraordinarily good news.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:38 AM | Comments (3)

June 07, 2003

Ou est la bibliotheque?

Budget problems are causing our state libraries' hours to be curtailed, as they apparently are all over the country. This is not a good thing. I remember riding my bicycle down Olympic Boulevard in West LA to my neighborhood branch library every Saturday morning when I was ten. It was a ritual. Why was I not mowing the yard instead of indulging myself, you ask? Ha! The front yard was all dichondra, and the back yard was the size of a postage stamp; it needed raking to pick up fig and apricot leaves more than it did mowing. Anyway, libraries have always been one of those civic institutions I admired, and it's distressing to see access being limited and acquisitions being delayed or reduced in number. I wanted to read Kevin Phillips' 2002 book Wealth and Democracy, so I reserved it (online...is that neat or what?); unfortunately it took six weeks to get what appears to be the only copy in the state into my hands. Then I hadn't quite finished it by the due date, so I tried to renew, and was told I couldn't because it was "on hold" for someone else. Hard to argue, since my hold had probably done the same thing to someone else, but it's a fine state of affairs when a system of 50 circulating libraries has only one copy of a major non-fiction title.

In the brave new world of ordering books through Amazon, anyone else still use the library?

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:44 AM | Comments (7)

June 05, 2003

Alternate universes?

Hmm. Looks like my cursory analysis of military families as non-recipients of those tax cuts was accurate. Bills are being bandied about to try to fix this "oversight," but in order to get House Republicans to go along, credits may have to be given to married couples making $110,000 to $150,000 as well. Senator Grassley has this gem:

"They're middle-income families," he said, explaining why the credit should be given to families making $150,000. "And why should you eliminate a deduction? Because eventually a deduction becomes not a deduction."
Somehow I don't think the statistics bear out the concept of a $150K annual income as being in the middle of American wage scales. (Full disclosure: the highest-paying job I've ever had was Assistant Info Systems Manager for an 800-room hotel: $27K per year).

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:10 AM | Comments (0)

June 04, 2003

Live from Baghdad

If you've been too busy to read the political blogs, you may not be aware that Salam Pax (aka Where Is Raed) has inked a deal with The Guardian to write a "fortnightly" column. The first one is up, and it's worth the read for the "blogger on the street" perspective it offers. Among other things, there's been a media explosion; all those American Revolutionary War pamphleteers would be proud.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:23 PM | Comments (1)

June 03, 2003

Is this legal?

Whether a government agency can use public funds to directly weigh on referenda and ballot initiatives should be a decision that Congress deliberates openly and candidly. When a back door is opened for an agency to quietly slip through and challenge historical precedents on federal electioneering, someone has to blow the whistle. It's disturbing that the bill has gotten this far without a voice of protest: This bill should be halted and discussed, and should not breeze through the markup process.

Huh? What's that about? Well, the House is marking up a bill reauthorizing the mission of the nation's anti-drug agency to "give the drug czar authority to use taxpayer dollars to pay for media campaigns directly targeting state ballot measures."

This is aimed at referenda calling for the medical legalization of marijuana for patients with AIDS, cancer, and some of the other illnesses the nasty weed has been proven to help. So a citizens group may manage to get a referendum on the ballot (usually a difficult struggle in itself) asking the voters if the medical use of marijuana should be legal, but the federal drug agency can advertise heavily (the dollars could add up to as much as $1B) against it. States rights, anyone? (via TalkLeft).

Lest you think that's enough questionable behavior on the part of federal law enforcement, DOJ's own Inspector General issued a highly critical report about the detention of immigrants post-September 11 today. Among other things, INS rules governing the length of time a suspect can be held while his/her bona fides are being examined were apparently changed to suit Justice's timetable.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:14 PM | Comments (0)

June 02, 2003

What hath Colin's son wrought?

Krugman writes in today's NYT:

It's long past time for this administration to be held accountable. Over the last two years we've become accustomed to the pattern. Each time the administration comes up with another whopper, partisan supporters — a group that includes a large segment of the news media — obediently insist that black is white and up is down.


The public was told that Saddam posed an imminent threat. If that claim was fraudulent, the selling of the war is arguably the worst scandal in American political history — worse than Watergate, worse than Iran-contra.


But here's the thought that should make those commentators really uncomfortable. Suppose that this administration did con us into war. And suppose that it is not held accountable for its deceptions, so Mr. Bush can fight what Mr. Hastings calls a "khaki election" next year. In that case, our political system has become utterly, and perhaps irrevocably, corrupted.

And that is why the FCC decision to relax its ownership rules today is so wrong.

...more stations gives the networks more power over their affiliates in negotiations over fees and what programs to show. It also enables the biggest companies to consolidate the advantages of size over their smaller competitors.

And the 500-channel argument? Only 80%-85% of the nation has cable available to it, and where it is available, how many people have to choose between a $40 per month cable bill and other more necessary monthly items like prescriptions or meals or car insurance?

The Senate Commerce Committee is holding hearings Wednesday to discuss the new rules; if your Senator is on the committee, let him or her know your feelings about this.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:11 PM | Comments (2)

June 01, 2003

Top this...

Addictive frivolity (courtesy Solonor). If you have plans for the day, do not click that link!

HATS!!! How do they get those championship hats ready-to-wear for the winners of the Super Bowl at the final gun? Now we know.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:05 AM | Comments (0)


In case you didn't click that WMD timeline link mentioned below, TomPaine.com has it listed in full, along with a letter from current and former CIA analysts requesting that the President immediately form a commission to look into possible misuse of the intelligence data presented to Congress to gain a vote for war in Iraq. I don't know if such a letter is unprecedented, but I can't remember anything quite like it from such a source.

Regarding the events described below, Kristof writes about the atmosphere inside the intelligence agencies which prompted that letter, while Krugman brings up the "Wag the Dog" script, last seen when Clinton took military action (might even have been against OBL); of course, then it was the Republicans in Congress who brought it up, but all's fair, huh?

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:59 AM | Comments (0)