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Take Back America


Updated: 2016-09-28T09:35:25.861-06:00


Its been a million years


Well, I'm a bit behind on my blogging, but I'm beginning to predict the future. For giggles, I recommend playing the "future" market -- by trading predictions on the "future" exchange ... at

For instance .... here are some of the "future' predictions you can trade:

Options President Bush - attack on Iran 7 Nov
Options Democratic Majority in the US House of Representatives 7 Nov
Options Democratic Seats in the US Senate 7 Nov

I hate any senator who does not support Russ Feingold


First, I'd like to welcome the senator to the "Eugene McCarthy, speaking the blatant, plain truth, and being called radical by the Washington entrenchment" club. Senator Feingold, you have my support. But I know, that isn't enough, you need the support of your peers. The peers who are just too weak to stand up to lies and corruption.

Asked at a news conference whether he would vote for the censure resolution, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., declined to endorse it and said he hadn't read it.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., said he had not read it either and wasn't inclined simply to scold the president.

"I'd prefer to see us solve the problem," Lieberman told reporters.

Across the Capitol, reaction was similar. Feingold's censure resolution drew empathy but no outright support from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Pelosi "understands Senator Feingold's frustration that the facts about the NSA domestic surveillance program have not been disclosed appropriately to Congress," her office said in a statement. "Both the House and the Senate must fully investigate the program and assign responsibility for any laws that may have been broken."

Bollocks. They can't investigate because the republicans on the committee to decide whether or not to investigate voted against it. Anyone who does not support this action simply hates the checks and balances built into the constitution. Its much easier to sit back and be complaisant. I'll do whatever the emperor wants.

This reminds me quite a bit of when we carried 50,000 signatures to Barbara Boxer's office asking her to censure the president for lying about pre-war intelligence. The senator responded it was a delicate subject in an election year. That's a great response to a public call for action. "Senator what are you going to do about 50,000 of your constituents who are upset that the President lied to start a war?" "Uh, I think I'll help him get re-elected -- Democrats can't be trusted to make decisions about intelligence"


I hope, genuinely hope, that these democrats who are falling down all over themselves to lay down and get out of the way find out that the voters do not like the DINO (democrat in name only) politicians, and want to see serious action. Tom Daschle learned that. I think Boxer and Feinstein may learn that in the next cycles. I certainly hope neo-con-con-democrat Lieberman learns as well.

Feingold's resolution accuses Bush of violating the Constitution and the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The coolest thing I've seen today


I found this over at (which I mention as she has a link to my page! Thanks EtherealGirl!)


Uh, I'll take two.
Support our troops. In a big-ass welcome-home party. Without guns. Or Improvised Explosive Devices.

The US Constitution, Revisited


I'm feeling the need to repost this posting because not enough people saw it and it seems to be relevant, again.One blogger has had enough. Bill Clinton lied about his sex life while under oath, an offense, while punishible, did not abdicate his duities as president specifically outlined by the constitution.While there is much discussion regarding whether or not Bush's policies violate our civil rights, violate the liberties ascribed to american life, or the entirety of the 4th amendment (and the 9th, but who's counting), there is little discussion of President Bush's failure to uphold his constitutionally mandated responsibilitiesUS CONSTITUTION, ARTICLE III, Section 3.He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.Regardless whether you are a liberal or a "strict constuctionist" there can be little interpretation of that last line. The president is mandated to see the laws of the United States faithfully executed. There is no exclusion for laws you find inconvienant in times of national crisis. In fact, our forefathers had quite a bit of experience with the necessity for such laws, yet the president upheld his duity.When you find a law that is inconvienant, one you are supposed to execute, what recourse do you have? Funny you should ask, Article III mentions just such a situation:Section. 1.The judicial Power of the United States shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.Section. 2.The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;--to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;--to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;--to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;--to Controversies between two or more States;-- between a State and Citizens of another State;--between Citizens of different States;--between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.Those guys thought of everything. So, if you are president, you are sworn to uphold the laws of the United States, and in the event you don't like the law, you can take it to the Supreme Court. Wait, there is something else in there as well ...The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their AuthorityWait, what is that about treaties? You mean that the president cannot rule independantly that a treaty (such as the Geneva Conventions) no longer applies to the United States?Article VI, Paragraph 2:This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.So treaties are treated by the constitution as federal laws. And[...]

Fascism, defined


In a recent rant against the National Review, J. Brad mentions the following (in re: Francisco Franco)

As to fascism: the German philospher Ernst Nolte's classic Fascism in Its Epoch set out six key characteristics of fascism:

  • Strong belief that--through social darwinism--morality is ultimately tied to blood and race, understood as descent and genetic relationship.
  • Strong rejection of the classical "liberal" belief that individuals have rights that any legitimate state is bound to respect
  • In its place, an assertion that individuals have duties to the state, seen as the decision-making organ of the collectivity.
  • A rejection of parliamentary democracy and other bottom-up institutions to assess the general will.
  • The assertion that the general will is formed by the decrees of the leader.
  • A strong fear of twentieth-century Communism, and an eagerness to adapt and use its weapons--suspension of parliaments, mass propaganda, rallies, street violence, and so forth--to fight it.

Ok I'll shoot.
1) Yes (Cronyism, think Michael Brown, Michael Powell)
2) Yes (NSA, Gtmo, torture, enemy combatants, rendition)
3) Yes (evidence is harder to conjur up, but faith-based initiatives?)
4) Yes (Distain and rallying against congress, CBO, GAO, etc)
5) YES (What the leader wants, end abortions, faith-based, increase immigration (yes, I'm actually *for* that one, but it should piss off the religious right)
6) Uhoh. Does it *have* to be communism that they are afraid of, and not terrorism? Because we used to equate anarchists, terrorists, and communists as fellow travellers.

Will he never learn? No, you say, I think you are right


The rumor going around in Judiciary Committee circles late last week was that Senator Kerry’s decision to filibuster was staff-driven. Speculation focused in one staff member in particular: Mirah Horowitz, one of Kerry’s chief legal advisors. Horowitz is a liberal lawyer and blonde braniac who previously clerked for Justice Stephen Breyer, before joining a decidedly less successful enterprise — the Kerry presidential campaign.

Um. Um. Ok, let's do this.

What was one of the great smears of the last campaign? What do we all remember about John Kerry? FLIP FLOP. He was for the war and then he's against it. blah blah.

Where did that impression come from? Well according to the behind-the-scenes Newsweek article (sorry, no link, I'm lazy today) from the week after Nov 2, 2004, the problem was created because Kerry listened to the advice of his staffers and campaign people, many of whom had conflicting opinions. And now this.

1) John Kerry is an idiot. Yes, I'm bitter that after I worked months on his campaign (really, against my will, I wanted Dean) he didn't even wait for the last poll to close in Ohio (voting irregularity) before conceding defeat. But that's not the point here. The point is he's an idiot.

2) Yes, political suicide is good, and we needed someone to say "Filibuster" but it would have been better had it come from someone with credibility. Kerry has zero.

3) There is no way, unfortunately, to block Alito at this point. The best thing to do is hope he and Scalia take to eating a high-fat, high-carbohydrate, high-salt diet and the next president (i.e. NOT John Kerry) will appoint Michael Moore and Al Franken to the court to replace them. I beleive both have significantly higher chance of attaining judicial independence then the Cheneyites.

Exxon Sees Record Profits for US Firm


IRVING, Texas (AP) -- Exxon Mobil Corp. on Monday posted a record profit for a U.S. company of $10.71 billion in the fourth quarter, as the world's biggest publicly-traded oil company benefited from high oil and gas prices and demand for refined products.

Hmm. So wait, why are gas prices high again if its just driving profits? Let's do some math ... 10.71 billion ... nicely divides into the 107 million households in the US ... I guess that's only $10 per household per quarter per oil firm.

REVISION. SOMEONE Pointed out that I can't add very well. That is $100 per household per quarter per firm. This negates the rest of my blog article where I pander to the interests of the oil companies.

Negated blog follows
Assume all 4 major oil companies are roughly equally profitable. So that's $40 per household per quarter. Assuming we burn about 125 billion gallons per year, thats 1168 gallons per household per year, 292 per quarter. That creates .14 per gallon of "profit tax," or a pure profit margin of 6.1% profit.

Ok, so when I started writing this article, I was angry at the unnecessary price gouging. Now, I kinda figure they really *are not* making extra-normal profits. We are just consuming extra-normal supplies of gasoline. I mean, I'd like to see their profit decrease to 4%, but that's not realistic given current circumstances. They *do* need to reinvest in future technologies.

Try again. $400 per household per quarter, or $1600 per year is paid per household to pure profit of the oil companies. Now, carrying on.

Holy profiteering batman! That is $1.37 of PURE PROFIT per gallon. Wait, that can't be right. It just can't be, thats a 60% profit margin.

Can someone tell me if I made a mistake here that I'm just not getting? Because this is really bad. My units are consistent, always using households. It seems right, but. Um. I'll be back. I'm going into the oil business.

"Attack on Iran Still and Option"


"A free world cannot allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon; not just the US, but those of us who value freedom” Bush told CBS television in an interview.

See, the US speaks for the free world, because the cat has their tongue. And perhaps more importantly, the Free World only wants states of which the US approves to have nuclear weapons. Say for instance, Pakistan or Israel. The Free World really wants Pakistan and Israel to have nuclear weapons. What's that you say? What about North Korea? Oh, well they HAVE a nuclear weapon, so its too late for them.

Wait, point #2, lets reconcile this with last week's Pentagon report (or for those for whom theChristiann Science Monitor is too "Liberal" how about Fox News) How can the military be, at the same time, stretched too thin by the overthrow of two smallcountriess (Iraq 26 million people and Afghanistan, 29 million people) ... both of which were crippled by sanctions and outdated cold-war era US weapons (yes, we sold them both the weapons they used against us, although, in fairness Iraq had MiGs -- which they donated to Iran before the invasion) ... and be ready to invade a (possibly) nuclear state with over 68 million people with a modern military and infrastructure? Honestly, I see our asses being handed to us.

But, it would fulfill the Christian Armageddon prophecy in which nuclear holocaust ensues after the combined armies of Russia and China are defeated by the sole army of Israel after the United States and Israel launch nuclear attack on (insert convienant Islamic nation Iraq, sometimes Syria, currently Iran). In this attack, all the Jews who refuse to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will perish along with the sinners and infidel Muslims.

You know, there are those who are working to replant the Cedars of Lebanon to regrow the necessary wood to rebuild the Temple of God in Jerusalem to begin Armageddon. What's this about a self-fufilling prophecy?

Anyhow, yeah, this is weird. Impeach him now. Before its too late.

Comics for a not very funny world





I'd like to give a shout out to Daryl Cagle and the folks at Slate for making me laugh.

Best Quote of the Day


Bush urges Abbas to remain in office despite Hamas victory

I don't even know where to begin with this one. How about, "This is a preview of November, 2008"

Hey, man, sucks that you lost, but you should really hold on to the presidency, cuz we like you. (Just not enough to help you get votes by providing things like food and economic development capital)

No, wait, its this one. "We support a democracy in the Middle East. As long as they do what America wants. If they don't, we support a dictatorship"

Bush is a flip-flopping liar. Impeach him now.

The Cold War Model of Washington Politics


Remember the cold war? How nice and easy it was? Very simple, a Us v. Them mentality of Good v. Evil, Right v. Wrong? Of course, it turned out to be much more complicated than it was represented, and most of the information that supported it turned out to be false ... but ... wait, was that the point?

Having a dualistic society is quite nice. You have the moral authority, the unabridged authority to do whatever is necessary to accomplish your goals.

Yes, I've been making the "War on Terror" comparison to the Cold War for a long time ... fighting a shadowy ideological enemy that may or may not actually pose a future threat to one's self. But how does this relate to the dualistic nature of the two party system?

The Democrats are just spinless whiners. (Yes, there are exceptions, Obama, Salazar, hmm, I'm sure there is another). The Republicans are thugs (Again, exceptions, McCain, Snow, Collins). But for the most part they power themselves by attacking their opponents. Few would support Republican policies, for the policy themselves, but rather they support them as the means to weaken their Democratic enemy. The same is MORE true for the Democratic "policies" because the only reason the Democratic party exists is because it gives people a voice AGAINST the Republicans. No one (and I'm not on a limb here) would actually support the "mainstream" policies of the Democratic party. What are they? Do they have a "Platform?"

So the Cold War rages on in Washington. And just like in the real cold war, its not going to stop until someone declares victory. I don't think the Dems are in any situation to do so. So, the Republicans declare victory, and then the second superpower breaks down ... and then power is shared across a wide swath of society.

Ok thats what I want, but its not likely to happen. The Republicans have a vested interest in seeing the Democrats struggle along. They will support the spineless, platformless entrenched Democrat interests (Think Barbara Boxer or Dianne Feinstein or Teddy Kennedy) just enough to keep them in power ... to supply their own power source.

I've seen a couple of rants on this topic today.

Dear god, look at that. "They" have pushed me from the ivy and glass halls of the Cato Institute pulbications to reading Arianna's paper. Come one guys, someone, anyone grow some balls.

Developing conventional ballistic missiles, Arkin misses the point


First, huge kudos to Arkin for pointing this out in his tin-foil-hat column "Early Warning." I used to think this was the mouthpiece for the paranoid conspiracy theorists. Now that so many of our leaders are clearly involved in conspiracy, (if you question this, please read some other blog), I believe these are conspiracy realists. That being said...Arkin discusses the conversion of Trident missiles to conventional warheads from their current nuclear status. He discusses the motivations for this, and finds them largely to be financial, pushed by the defense contractors and STRATCOM. I strongly disagree.Tony Capaccio of Bloomberg News has another scoop that probably portends the most important strategic military development of our generation.Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has given the Navy go ahead to develop a conventionally armed Trident missile. Two dozen existing nuclear-armed submarine-launched missiles will be converted to carry conventional warheads. The missiles will then be assigned "global strike" missions to allow quicker preemptive attacks.For the first time since intercontinental ballistic missiles were "captured" in arms control treaties 40 years ago as unique and potentially destabilizing weapons, the United States will muddy the waters by modifying an existing nuclear weapon for use in day-to-day warfare.The conversion of Trident missiles abandons the strict segregation of nuclear from conventional weapons.Were the United States ever to use its new conventional Tridents, the firing would also flirt with accidental nuclear war. Ballistic missiles aimed at targets in North Korea, for example, might falsely signal to China or Russia that the United States was attacking them.The arms control and strategic stability issues associated with this decision are momentous. But here is the tragic reality of opening this door: The United States just doesn't need the capability.The fiscal year 2007-2011 Department of Defense budget plan calls for building 96 conventional warheads for 24 Navy Trident II missiles, according to a Dec. 20 memo signed by Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, Bloomberg reported. Each missile would carry up to four warheads.U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), which is the sponsor of the global strike program, says that the conventionally armed missiles will add to the ability "for delivering prompt, precise strike globally.''"Increased precision may allow targets currently held at risk with nuclear weapons to be targeted with conventional weapons, providing options other than nuclear weapons for prompt global strike," STRATCOM says.In English, STRATCOM is not only looking to improve its ability to attack deeply buried enemy command centers, but also to decrease its reliance on nuclear weapons.On the surface, the impulse to find conventional alternatives to nuclear missions is laudable. Of course, we are hostage to accepting STRATCOM's calculations as to the need for nuclear weapons in the first place. These are purely physics calculations: We need so much tonnage and overpressure to penetrate this or that underground facility. Since we are required to provide a 90 percent probability of kill against these types of facilities, STRATCOM targeters and weaponeers argue, we need to develop other capabilities to reach those levels of guarantee. This same argument has been used to justify new nuclear-armed bunker buster weapons, but STRATCOM is not just pursuing one approach; conventionally armed Trident IIs is another approach to achieving the same goal.Of course it isn't STRATCOM's task, nor the Navy's, to wrestle with the arms control and political implications of developing a conventionally armed ballistic missile. And the lack of foresight or restraint on such technological determinism[...]

Class war?


I'm beginning to believe in the class war being waged by the Bush administration. However, its interesting to me that the Republicans are not representing the rich, but rather the poor. Specifically the uneducated poor.

So the class war is setup to be the uneducated poor against the educated and wealthy. What does this sound like? Any students of history out there?

Sign me up for the tin-foil hats


OH for the days when we could repel the forces of evil with just the use of a simple tin foil hat. Now they have so many ways they can get inside out heads. If you don't want to be scared, don't read this article published in last week's LA Times.You're being watched ... Efforts to collect data on Americans go far beyond the NSA's domestic spying program. By Laura K. Donohue CONGRESS WILL soon hold hearings on the National Security Agency's domestic spying program, secretly authorized by President Bush in 2002. But that program is just the tip of the iceberg.Since 9/11, the expansion of efforts to gather and analyze information on U.S. citizens is nothing short of staggering. The government collects vast troves of data, including consumer credit histories and medical and travel records. Databases track Americans' networks of friends, family and associates, not just to identify who is a terrorist but to try to predict who might become one. ADVERTISEMENT src=";sz=300x250;ord=btlogod,bbNslyudwNnnb?" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" hspace="0" vspace="0" bordercolor="#000000" frameborder="0" height="252" scrolling="no" width="302"> Remember Total Information Awareness, retired Adm. John Poindexter's effort to harness all government and commercial databases to preempt national security threats? The idea was that disparate, seemingly mundane behaviors can reveal criminal intent when viewed together. More disturbing, it assumed that deviance from social norms can be an early indicator of terrorism. Congress killed that program in 2003, but according to the Associated Press, many related projects continued.The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency runs a data-mining program called Evidence Extraction and Link Discovery, which connects pieces of information from vast amounts of data sources. The Defense Intelligence Agency trawls intelligence records and the Internet to identify Americans connected to foreign terrorists. The CIA reportedly runs Quantum Leap, which gathers personal information on individuals from private and public sources. In 2002, Congress authorized $500 million for the Homeland Security Department to develop "data mining and other advanced analytical tools." In 2004, the General Accounting Office surveyed 128 federal departments and agencies to determine the extent of data mining. It found 199 operations, 14 of which related to counterterrorism.What type of information could these mine? Your tax, education, vehicle, criminal and welfare records for starters. But also other digital data, such as your travel, medical and insurance records — and DNA tests. Section 505 of the Patriot Act (innocuously titled "Miscellaneous National Security Authorities") extends the type of information the government can obtain without a warrant to include credit card records, bank account numbers and information on Internet use.Your checking account may tell which charities or political causes you support. Your credit card statements show where you shop, and your supermarket frequent-buyer-card records may indicate whether you keep kosher or follow an Islamic halal diet. Internet searc[...]

Jim Hightower on "Ownership Society"


Now, normally, I think Jim Hightower is an ass. But this was so entertaining, I feel I just have to post it.



George W is fond of philosophizing about his vision of an "ownership society," organized not on a governmental model, but on the corporate structure. I wonder: Is George even aware that the "owners" of corporate America have no real power over the autocratic elites who run corporations?

The owners of corporations are the shareholders – those people who have bought the company's stock. But ownership in the corporate model buys you no democratic control. Take the board of directors, which is the official governing body of the corporation you "own." As a shareholder, you get to vote for the board members – but the ballot gives you no choices!

Only the candidates hand-picked by the CEO are listed. Your only option is vote for or against the corporate-dictated candidate. But – get this – even if you and 99.9 percent of the other shareholders get together and vote against the CEOs choice, the corporate candidate still wins, assuming the candidate is smart enough to vote for himself (and, by the way, they're nearly always men). Under the self-rigged corporate rules, it just takes only a single vote to elect the chosen candidate.

As if this soviet-style electoral system does not give corporate executives enough control over owners, CEOs are now taking extraordinary steps to assure that they get no interference from pesky shareholders. It seems that more and more of these shareholders/owners have been showing up at the annual board meeting to raise issues and even raise a ruckus about how the place is being run. So, to fend off even this minimal democratic intrusion, corporations have begun hiring surveillance firms to snoop on their own owners, targeting shareholders who might "cause trouble." Of course, the corporate interpretation of "trouble" is to have anyone dissent from what the top executives are doing.

This is Jim Hightower saying... On second thought, this sounds exactly like the kind of government Bush has in mind for us.

Couldn't have said it better



Josh Marshall is on a roll


Apparently, this is a good day for TPM.

Good stuff! Holding Republicans to account violates their rights.

You have to love this. Three and a half years ago members of the New Hampshire state Republican party, the Republican National Committee and others entered into a criminal conspiracy to disrupt Democratic get-out-the-vote activities on election day.

That's not just me using that language. Two of conspirators pled guilty. Another, a then-employee of the Republican National Committee, was just convicted on two counts stemming from the scheme. For almost two years now, the state Democratic party has been pursuing a suit against the state party seeking redress and, mainly, to find out what really happened since at the beginning the Justice Department wasn't seriously pursuing the case.

Now, in recently filed court papers, the Republican State Committee’s attorney, Ovide Lamontagne, is claiming that the Dems' suit is "in attempt to use the court system to interfere with the (GOP’s) constitutionally protected election activities." There's a certain amount of sense to this, I suppose, since the Republican party, in its current incarnation, does seem to rely heavily on law-breaking as an electoral tool. Still, I've never heard it alleged that such criminality is constitutionally protected.

I don't know how to make the links come from his blog to my blog using blogger. But I suggest everyone go to TPM and follow the links if you are in need of verification. We bloggers, unlike the pundits believeve in verification of facts.

Block the nomination of Samuel Alito


I have faith the Democrats (this is rare) and the moderate Republicans will do the right thing and block this man. I supported Roberts (although those eyes). Block I say.

Senators Collins, Dole, Domenici, Frist (?!), Jeffords, McCain, Santourm, Snowe, and Spector please do what's right for your country, not the party line.

Oh, and while you are at it, ever consider forming a new centrist party along with the 5 or 6 Democrats who aren't super flaky? (Bingaman, Bird, Clinton, Corzine, Feingold, Leahy, Levin, Obama, Reid, Rockefeller, Salazar, Schumer -- Hmm, there are more than I remember -- now I understand why I find myself preferring the Dems)

Remember: The real story here is Abramoff. Don't let this Alito thing get in the way as Time magazine suggests may happen if the spin folk get busy

A thought, RFC


For the uninitiated, RFC is request for comments. Frequently something scholars or engineers put forth when they have an idea they think is going in a good direction, but fear they are being one-sided or blinded to any opposing viewpoint.

An apt request.

I am starting to doubt the future of the pundit. Perhaps that rabble-rouser Michael Moore had a point. Perhaps the pundits are angry because they are losing power.

See, that last post, the one about Ollie North is typical. I, the blogger, get this email, get angry, research it, and send it back out, with corrections, to the person who sent it originally, with a request that he send the corrections to all of his friends, the ones he passed it to initially.

But the pundits do not do this. They take something like this and heat it up and pass it around. I even doubt the person who sent it to me will retract its damaging statements. And because of things like that, we, no, nearly everyone, is learning to distrust people who provide uncorrobrated evidence. Perhaps the greatest strength of a blog is the ability to include hyperlinks to our sources, ones that ... Demonstrate a) that we have done some research and are not just noisy and b) our claims are supported by evidence, which makes them harder to attack with anything other than "the liberal media" or "your liberal bias" I'm beginning to suspect "liberal" is a codeword for "true" and "liberal bias" is a verb, meaning "to research and report fact"

Just an idea ....

Ollie North, Osama Bin Laden, Al Gore, Mohammed Atta


Its that time again folks. It's time to play "reality" with the conservatives.Commentary follows story.I know that this isn't "new" news and has been out there before; nevertheless, it goes unremarked by the media. Nice to have both of these pieces of information together. Pass it along to anyone who may have never heard or forgotten about it.It was 1987. At a lecture the other day they were playing an old news video of Lt.Col. Oliver North testifying at the Iran-Contra hearings (ed: where we traded weapons to Iran for hostages) during the Reagan Administration. There was Ollie in front of God and country getting the third degree, but what he said was stunning! He was being drilled by a senator; "Did you not recently spend close to $60,000 for a home security system?"Ollie replied, "Yes, I did, Sir."The senator continued, trying to get a laugh out of the audience, "Isn't that just a little excessive?""No, sir," continued Ollie."No? And why not?" the senator asked."Because the lives of my family and I were threatened, sir.""Threatened? By whom?" the senator questioned."By a terrorist, sir" Ollie answered."Terrorist? What terrorist could possibly scare you that much?""His name is Osama bin Laden, sir" Ollie replied.At this point the senator tried to repeat the name, but couldn't pronounce it, which most people back then probably couldn't. A couple of people laughed at the attempt. Then the senator continued.Why are you so afraid of this man?" the senator asked."Because, sir, he is the most evil person alive that I know of," Ollie answered."And what do you recommend we do about him?" asked the senator."Well, sir, if it was up to me, I would recommend that an assassin team be formed to eliminate him and his men from the face of the earth."The senator disagreed with this approach, and that was all that was shown of the clip.By the way, that senator was Al Gore!Also:Terrorist pilot Mohammad Atta blew up a bus in Israel in 1986. The Israelis captured, tried and imprisoned him. As part of the Oslo agreement with the Palestinians in 1993, Israel had to agree to release so-called "political prisoners."However, the Israelis would not release any with blood on their hands, The American President at the time, Bill Clinton, and his Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, "insisted" that all prisoners be released. Thus Mohammad Atta was freed and eventually thanked the US by flying an airplane into Tower One of the World Trade Center. This was reported by many of the American TV networks at the time that the terrorists were first identified. It was censored in the US from all later reports.Now, let's pretend that there aren't any factual errors in this story, and it is exactly true as printed.Ollie North said Osama was the most evil man alive. If this is true, do you think, possibly, we should not have been selling him (and his Mujahadeen brethren) US weapons to fight the Soviet incursion into Afghanistan?But wait, there is more! Hold on, didn't we also, in the same period when we (the United States, also under President Reagan) sold Osama weapons (Including those lovely stinger missles they have so frequently used against US personnel in Afghanistan) ... didn't we also send Donald Rumsfeld to meet with Saddam Hussein and arrange weapon sales, INCLUDING the chemical weapons he used on the Kurds in Iraqi Kurdistan ... the very crime for which we are now holding him on trial?This could be an interesting tangent, and one which seems rife with inconsistancies, and inaccuracies. However, unfortunate[...]

Daily Fallacy


Because I have had way too much fun with these, I'm going to limit myself to identifying one fallacy in the story and running with it today.HOUSTON — Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, facing trial on charges of money laundering in a campaign finance scheme, officially filed Tuesday to run for a 12th term in his suburban Houston district.The filing was not unexpected.Republican DeLay, who has denied any wrongdoing and has accused Democrat Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle of conducting a political witch hunt, already has been campaigning against his likely general election opponent, former Democratic U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson. He still must deal with at least two GOP challengers in the March primary.DeLay filed by petition with the Republican Party of Texas, delivering almost 1,000 signatures collected by volunteers. Filing by petition, instead of paying a filing fee, requires 500 signatures from registered voters in his district.When DeLay disclosed his plans Tuesday at an appearance before a business group in the Johnson Space Center area of his district, he received a standing ovation from the overflow crowd of some 150 people.Asked about Lampson's challenge, he replied: "It's not a challenge."In his address DeLay touted the accomplishments of the most recent congressional session. He didn't mention his legal difficulties until a question-and-answer session afterward, in which he said there was a Democratic strategy to take him down."The record of this year is pretty amazing and we've been able to do it despite getting down into the gutter the Democrats have chosen to get into," DeLay said. "They have no agenda. All they have is the politics of personal destruction, and we understand what it is. We stay focused on our job to represent the views and values of our constituents and doing good things for the nation."Lawyer Michael Fjetland, defeated three times by DeLay, filed last week to enter the GOP primary. Pat Baig, a former teacher and political rookie, has said she'll join them and already has been campaigning.DeLay, the former House Majority leader who was indicted earlier this year, usually campaigns quietly without much concern for his re-election in a solidly Republican district.But with his legal troubles prominent, and with national Democrats backing Lampson, DeLay's ordinarily routine re-election has taken on a much higher profile, even drawing Vice President Dick Cheney to headline a recent fund-raiser in Houston.DeLay's announcement Tuesday came after State District Judge Pat Priest last weekend said he couldn't set additional hearings in the criminal case until after an appeals court ruling, dampening DeLay's hopes of regaining his House leadership post.DeLay, who has denied wrongdoing, wants to separate a remaining charge and proceed to trial on one count while others are being appealed so he can regain his majority leader job before his GOP colleagues call for new leadership elections.DeLay was forced to step aside as majority leader in September after he was indicted on state charges of conspiracy to violate Texas election laws. A second grand jury indicted him on charges of conspiracy to launder money and money laundering charges.Earle alleges DeLay and two co-conspirators funneled $190,000 in corporate contributions through the Texas political committee and an arm of the National Republican Committee to seven GOP state legislative candidates.Earle contends DeLay and his two associates tried to circumvent Texas' law barring spending corporate money [...]

Other People Getting on the Snoopgate Truck


Brad DeLong has a post today regarding why the NYT failed to report the Snoopgate story. He links to Jonathan Alter.

Btw, everyone should read Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal.

First logical fallacy news story


Why start with a hard one? I went straight to and picked the first story about Bush.WASHINGTON — President Bush on Monday defended the use of a domestic eavesdropping program and called for Democrats to stop their "delaying tactics" and reauthorize the controversial Patriot Act.In a year-end news conference at the White House, Bush called the leak of the National Security Agency's eavesdropping program, first reported in The New York Times last Friday, a "shameful act" disclosed in a time of war. The report said Bush had authorized the NSA to conduct surveillance of e-mails and phone calls of some individuals in the United States without court warrants."The fact that we're discussing this program is helping the enemy," Bush told reporters. "This program has targeted those with known links to Al Qaeda."The program will continue, Bush said, adding that he has reauthorized it more than 30 times. "And I will continue to do so for so long as our nation faces the continued threat of an enemy that wants to kill our American citizens."Holy crap this is rich. Ok, lets start easy. Democrats to stop their "delaying tactics" and reauthorize the controversial Patriot Act.The syllogism is:The patriot act has not been reauthorizedDemocrats do not approve of the patriot actTherefore democrats are using delaying tactics to prevent its passage Red Herring: There are enough republicans to pass the law, so the conclusion does not lead logically from the premises. Appeal to tradition: Democrats are more likely to vote against the president than Republicans Shifting the burden of proof: Prove its not just a tactic to delay and not a fundamental objectionIn a year-end news conference at the White House, Bush called the leak of the National Security Agency's eavesdropping program, first reported in The New York Times last Friday, a "shameful act" disclosed in a time of war.Lets look at this one:The (illegal) eavesdropping program is honorableSomeone leaked information about itTherefore the leak is shameful False premise: The (illegal) eavesdropping program is honorable. Invalid Proof: Leaking information on an honorable program is shameful Appeal to emotion: "In a time of war" Completely irrelevant to domestic spying"The fact that we're discussing this program is helping the enemy," Bush told reporters. "This program has targeted those with known links to Al Qaeda."Holy crap. This is so fun. We are only targeting people with links to Al QuedaWe are not targeting other peopleWe know who is in Al QaedaWow, that is rich. Well, why don't we arrest them if we know who they are? Afraid of stepping on their civil liberties? HA! But wait, here's moreThe free discussion of ideas helps the enemyThe US Constitution demands free discussion of ideasTherefore, the US Constitution helps the enemy-or- (my personal favorite)The free discussion of ideas helps the enemyRadical militant terrorist Muslims are the enemyRadical militant terrorist Muslims support free discussion of ideas Appeal to Probability: We probably aren't violating people who aren't terrorists, so you are not violated False Premise: We are only targeting people with links to Al Qaeda. Right. So we aren't targeting innocent Americans. And we know who these Al Qaeda people are AND we aren't doing anything! Negative proof: Proove we aren't targeting only people that are members of Al Qaeda! Guilt by association: If we are targeting you, you have links to Al Qaeda Post Hoc: I[...]

Syllogisms and Fallacies


I'm going to start having fun. I'm going to start analyzing the "brick and morter" news agencies false claims by idenfitying their logical fallacies. This is going to be great. While I get started, here is a (partial) list of the logical fallacies that an argument may contain. List of fallacies: Ad hominem (personal attack) ("John Kerry is a liberal, you can't trust him") Appeal to (false) authority (Judith Miller knows Saddam has WMD) Appeal to emotion ("9-11!! 9-11!!") Appeal to probability (DHS probably won't tap your phone if you are innocent, so you are free from search and seizure") Appeal to tradition ("We've never let gays in the military, lets keep them out") Argument from ignorance ("I'm not an expert, but it seems to me..") Begging the question (Circular) (If Saddam has WMD he is a threat to America therefore America needs to invade Iraq to protect itself) Suppressed correlative Equivocation (Two meanings for one word) (The constitution was based on liberal philosophy, so if you are conservative you don't believe in it) False analogy (The supposed relationship between premises does not exist) False premise (One premise is incorrect) Faulty generalization (All liberals believe in raising taxes) Guilt by association (Hitler was a vegetarian, so vegetarians are anti-semitic) Incomplete comparison (The better alternative is military action) Inconsistent comparison (This liter of gas costs less than that gallon, so this one is cheaper) Invalid proof (Paradox) Judgemental language ("If you weren't an idiot, you would see that ...") Juxtaposition (Irrelevent similarties -- First Hitler took away everyone's guns, so gun control leads to genocide...) Meaningless statement (Distinction without difference i.e. pornography v. erotica) Negative proof (Saddam can't proove he destroyed WMD so he must not have destroyed them) Non sequitur (Saddam hates America, Osama hates America, therefore Saddam and Osama are friends) Poisoning the well (Ridiculing before statement. If you don't support the president, you are unamerican. Do you support the president?) Proof by assertion (In Lenin's words, "A lie told often enough becomes the truth" -- Saddam has WMD, Saddam was behind 9-11, We are winning the war on terror") Post hoc (also called post hoc ergo propter hoc) (Event A occurred before B, so A caused B. I wore my new suit, I won the lottery, my suit won me the lottery) Red herring (also called irrelevant conclusion) (Saddam killed thousands of Kurds, and wanted nukes therefore he is a threat to America) Shifting the burden of proof (See negative proof) Slippery slope ("If we let one gay couple marry, everyone will become gay and get married") Special pleading (Its ok to violate habias corpus, because its a matter of national security) Straw man (Liberals want more civil liberties. They don't care that these liberties could cause millions of americans to die from a terrorist attack)[...]

Economics papers


I have posted a series of papers I have written on different economic issues on my website. I have posted them to attract comments on the methodologies, etc, from the academic community. I am looking to publish these papers eventually, so I retain full rights to these papers, and any reproduction in part or whole is expressly forbidden. That being said, take a look and see if you have any comments for me.

Note: I am looking for academic comments. Comments from pundits will be discarded. I know this is a pundit forum, but the writings keep it academic.