Archive for July, 2004

Some Kerry policies

July 30, 2004 Leave a comment

In my lack of posting anything positive about Kerry (and not 10 minutes ago saying he depresses me), I find this. Among the ideas I like:

Minimum wage. Conservatives have spilled a lot of ink attacking a minimum wage hike. The main gripes: a wage hike will raise unemployment, and will bite into profits and raise consumer costs, spurring inflation; and most minimum-wagers are wealthy teenagers working summer jobs. Don’t believe it. John Kerry’s proposal to raise the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to $7 makes eminent sense.

[Health care]Under John Kerry’s proposal, the government would pay for 75 percent of medical bills over $50,000 a year. Because the costs of covering catastrophic illness would be greatly reduced, insurance companies would no longer have incentive to avoid those who need health care the most. Insurance rates would fall, and younger, healthier people would be more likely to buy health insurance, since they no longer have to pick up the tab for the less fortunate. Kerry’s plan attacks the worst aspects of private insurance, while preserving its benefits. If Kerry can stress this point, and allay fears about a government takeover of health care, he could well convince moderate Republicans to sign on.

Sounds good to me, though his overall economic plan doesn’t strike me as great.

But what do I know?

Categories: 2004 election cycle

Hooray for me!

July 29, 2004 1 comment

CNN, from Angry Bear, via Kevin Drum.

computer science graduates make $49,691 a year, up 4.8 percent

Yay! That means, I could slack off, graduate with mediocre grades and still make, what 40k out of the gate? Right? Right?

Maybe I’m taking the wrong message out of that.

Good news in any case.

I say “in any case” a lot. WordPress says that phrase is in 34 of my 681 posts.

Categories: Economy

Just close your eyes and pick something!

July 28, 2004 Leave a comment

Seen those MTV voting commercials? The school one that’s been on lately, ends in “Vote for something.” That’s kind of a weird sentiment. It comes off as the act of voting is more important than knowing what you’re voting for. I realize if you get people to vote, they should take more interest, but it’s still odd to me.

Categories: 2004 election cycle

Defending Krugman

July 28, 2004 Leave a comment

My goodness, I’m disagreeing with Spinsanity! That’s pretty rare for me.

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has been one of the Bush administration’s harshest critics, especially on economic issues. But in two recent columns on Iraq, the economist has stretched the facts and made arguments that presume to know things that, in reality, he can’t.

In his July 20 column, Krugman enagaged in a series of accusations that impugn the motives of President Bush and his advisors without presenting evidence to back them up. He accomplishes through a rhetorical sleight of hand that frames all his accusations as hypotheticals, playing off “The Manchurian Candidate,” a movie in which Communists send a brainwashed agent to take over the US government.

“This time the enemies would be Islamic fanatics, who install as their puppet president a demagogue who poses as the nation’s defender against terrorist evildoers,” the columnist writes. “The Arabian candidate wouldn’t openly help terrorists. Instead, he would serve their cause while pretending to be their enemy.”

With this conceit in place, Krugman then impugns the motives of the Bush administration while still feigning to be talking about the hypothetical “Arabian candidate”:

Despite the setup, Krguman is clearly intending for readers to take these as serious accusations against the President. And by accusing Bush of outright indifference or sinister motives, he goes beyond any semblance of reasonable argument. Instead of arguing that the Bush administration’s planning for post-invasion Iraq was inadequate or incorrect, he claims it was non-existent. Similarly, he states that the President actively allowed the looting of Iraq, instead of failing to prevent it. And though he has no access to the evidence behind them, Krugman claims that terror warnings are “obviously timed to drown out unfavorable political news.”

The accusations may be true, but it’s also possible that Bush planned for post-war Iraq but did so inadequately; wanted to stop looting in Iraq after Saddam Hussein’s government fell; and has simply issued terror warnings when warranted by intelligence. Krugman doesn’t know what’s going on in Bush’s head or what the counter-terrorism intelligence is. His accusations are simply irresponsible speculation regardless of the hypothetical conceit.

First, Fritz seems to think that Krugman’s rhetorical device is misleading on it’s face, which is kind of silly. Next, I think they misread the points of Krugman’s article. A working article link is here. I won’t quote any of it; you have to read the whole thing. Here’s what I see Krugman’s points as:

1. That Bush’s performance has been so bad that it parallels the policy of an Islamic Jihadist agent as our president.
2. (the larger overall point of the two) That the conservative sentiment that bin Laden doesn’t want Bush to win (or wants Kerry to) is absurd.

Fritz sees the articles as a vehicle to impugn Bush’s motives. I see it as a vehicle to show that his policies, regardless of their underlying motives, are not that far off from some kind of Islamist double agent, debunking the notion that bin Laden would choose Kerry over Bush. His actual motives are irrelevent to the point being made.

Categories: Foreign Policy, The media

Move is complete

July 27, 2004 3 comments

Yep, completely switched over to WordPress. Very slick. Look at all the tag buttons I have! This whole no rebuilding thing is nice, and even though I had to enter almost all my links into their manager (well, I didn’t HAVE to), I think that’ll make things much easier. And sitemeter appears to be working as well. So, there we have it. The email link is now my name on each post and the About page is still around, but not linked. I’ll figure out what to do with that later. And the RSS feed has changed, though I updated the old one first to notify the 3 people (give or take) that use it for my site. The new link is at the bottom of the sidebar. All the old archive links will stay active and won’t send to the new links, unless I figure that out sometime.

And thanks to Heliologue and his group, where I first noticed WordPress.

Categories: Blogging

Hiding behind semantics

July 26, 2004 Leave a comment

And that word is “connection.” Let’s look at MRC‘s comments on the 9/11 report:

At the 9/11 Commission press conference on Thursday, Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard noted how the 9/11 Commission changed its language from the staff report’s statement of “no collaborative relationship” between Iraq and al-Qaeda the final report’s characterization of “no collaborative operational relationship with regard to the attacks on the United States.” Chairman Tom Kean confirmed that “there was no question in our minds that there was a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda.” Nonetheless, some prominent media figures distorted the Commission’s finding.

Ok, that’s the set up. Let’s take a second to define what they mean: “no collaborative operational relationship with regard to the attacks on the United States.” Ok, what does that mean? Iraq did not cooperate with al Qaeda on any attacks. What would that entail? Giving them weapons or passports used in preparation for a specific attack or safe haven, I would assume, since they’ve said they don’t know about weapons collaboration (I take that as them having no evidence) and they also say there was only thought that they would grant al Qaeda safe haven. Kean’s comments:

Tom Kean responded: “Well, there was no question in our minds that there was a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda. At one point, there was thought maybe even al-Qaeda would find sanctuary in Iraq. And there were conversations that went on over a number of years, sometimes successful, sometimes unsuccessfully. While we don’t know about weapons collaboration, particularly chemical collaboration, there was a suspicion in the Clinton administration that when they fired that bomb at that factory, that if in fact, there were chemicals there, they may have come from Iraq. So there was a relationship.
“Having said that, we have found no relationship whatever between Iraq and the attack on 9/11. That just doesn’t exist. So I think we are very careful in our wording in using that word �collaborative relationship.’ I mean, that’s what we found. It’s language that’s evidence-based.

Lee Hamilton says:

Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton, who last month scolded the press for mis-reporting on the subject, added: “In further response, I think there’s a very large distinction between evidence of conversations that might have occurred between Iraq and al-Qaeda, on the one hand, and an emerging strategy or emerging assistance — concrete — on the other. And what we do not have, as the Chairman said, is any evidence of a concrete collaborative operational agreement. Conversations, yes, but nothing concrete.”

What does “relationship” in the broader sense mean for the commission? Talks, meetings, discussions, etc.

Now, what has the Bush administration claimed as the extent of their cooperation? Cheney has said: “[Iraq is the] geographic base of the terrorists who had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11.” Bush has said:

We know that Iraq and the al-Qaeda terrorist network share a common enemy � the United States of America. We know that Iraq and al-Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade” and “we’ve learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases.

And this Congress and the American people must recognize another threat. Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications, and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al-Qaeda.

Senior members of Iraqi intelligence and al-Qaeda have met at least eight times since the early 1990s. Iraq has sent bomb-making and document forgery experts to work with al-Qaeda” and “Iraq has also provided al-Qaeda with chemical and biological weapons training.

The Bush administration was not simply claiming “relationship” limited to contacts and discussions, they were claiming a concrete, working relationship. This level of a relationship has become what the press calls a “connection:”

On Thursday’s Today, Matt Lauer told Tim Russert that “one of the Bush administration’s stated reasons for going to war with Iraq, Tim, was the connection between Iraq and al Qaeda. This report says they have not found that connection but they do talk about Iran…” Russert failed to clarify the matter.

MRC is attacking (though mildly: “over-simplify”) Lauer and Russert on an issue of semantics. What the press calls a “connection” is Bush’s aid assertions, which the Commission mostly denies (they avoid the chemical weapons claims), not simply “contacts” or meetings. What the commission refers to as a “relationship” or connection is exactly that, talks and contacts. The Bush administration’s claims plainly conflict with the Commission’s findings. MRC hides behind semantics and a willfull misreading of Lauer’s statement in it’s bashing of the press.

And one last thing:

Neither ABC’s World News Tonight nor the NBC Nightly News brought up the Iraq-al-Qaeda issue, but on the CBS Evening News, Jim Stewart ran through how the commission “debunked some 9/11 myths,” including how “the commission said emphatically that although Iraq may have once offered bin Laden safe haven, it found no connection between Saddam Hussein, al-Qaeda and 9/11.” Talk about shooting down a red herring, the Bush administration never claimed Saddam Hussein had a role in the 9/11 attacks. Stewart proceeded to run this clip from Kean as the press conference: “We found no relationship whatever between Iraq and the attack on 9/11. That just doesn’t exist.”

Of course, a large portion of the population (70% at one time) did believe that, and it’s still around 50% last I saw. So it’s not really a red herring, seeing as they didn’t attribute the statement to the Bush administration and it clearly is a 9/11 myth.

Categories: The media

I'm back

July 25, 2004 Leave a comment

Hiatus is over. There may be some weirdness, though; I’m going to be switching to WordPress.

Categories: Blogging, Personal