January 10, 2004

Lying since Day One?

There's been a lot of coverage over the weekend about Drudge (and now Reuters) picking up the story from Paul O'Neill that Bush and Company wanted to invade Iraq as early as the first days of Bush's administration.

Many on the Right and the general pro-war side might spin this into merely an affirmation of their support that, even during Clinton's term, the idea was on the table of ousting Saddam. (We'll skip the obvious difference, that of course being that whereas Clinton and Bush both noted the concept of invading Iraq and expending hundreds of American lives to remove Saddam, Bush was the one actually crazy enough to do it.)

But it occured to me earlier today that if Bush had from Day One the objective of removing Saddam Hussein, wouldn't it be feasable to ask if Bush, even during his 2000-and-earlier campaigning, desired regime change by military force?

The reason that is a significant question is because, should that also be the case, then we can clearly see that Bush was flat-out lying during the entire 2000 election campaign. To the best of my knowledge, having proof, or moreover reasonable justification for accusations, of lying, makes somewhat of a powerful campaign issue.

The exchange between Bush Now and Bush Then has been made famous by the Daily Show segment that contrasted quotes from a 2002 Bush press conference and then-Governor Bush's 2000 debate with then-VP Al Gore, but this transcript from the debate from 2000 exposes a more significant contrast to the new revelation that Bush planned the war from the get-go:

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: I thought the best example of a way to handle a situation was East Timor, when we provided logistical support to the Australians, support that only we can provide. I thought that was a good model. But we can't be all things to all people in the world, Jim. And I think that's where maybe the Vice President and I begin to have some differences. I'm worried about over committing our military around the world. I want to be judicious in its use. You mentioned Haiti. I wouldn't have sent troops to Haiti. I didn't think it was a mission worthwhile. It was a nation building mission. And it was not very successful. It cost us a couple billions of dollars and I'm not sure democracy is any better off in Haiti than it was before.
I think a story about Bush having always desired to go to war with Iraq might be a great time for those in the media to bring up the George W. Bush that, only a few months earlier, not only opposed a military policy of regime change, but opposed it because it might lead to over-extending our forces, too much money spent, and a failed attempt at nation-building. Don't you?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:04 PM

Who is responsible for this????

I want names. And then I want more coffee. To bathe in.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:36 PM

January 9, 2004

Lots of words!

Reader Kevin Wohlmut on tech companies shipping jobs overseas, with more detail than my offhanded commentary:

Back in 1996, Prof. David Gordon wrote a book about the wage squeeze, where he collated a fantastic amount of economic data and surveys and polls about job skills, wages and education.

He concluded that:

(As many other observers have noted), real wages for most workers (after adjustment for inflation ) have declined pretty steadily since 1972. Since this wage squeeze occurred well before the rampant computerization of the workplace, it seems unlikely that the decline is the result of a "skills mismatch" or poor education on the part of the American worker.

Since the wage pressure preceded the tech economy and not vice versa, this supports Scott Kirwin's comment in the news article, that the only problem tech firms have, is finding highly educated workers who want to work for minimum wage or below.

Survey data confirms what we all know anyway, that there is poor correlation between the skills we learn in school versus what we actually use at work. Jobs that require specific technical skills don't tend to pay more anyway, according to data, so education doesn't seem to affect the equation.

Gordon's studies reached the conclusion that the economic and political climate in America offers "perverse inducements to firms to compete on the basis of low wages rather than high skills."

(When I show this book to my economist friends, they say "Oh, seven years is forever, everything's totally different now." But they can't come up with evidence to contradict the seven-year-old conclusions. Unfortunately Prof. Gordon died in 1996, so there won't be a new edition.)

The Systems Policy Project complained that "Countries that resort to protectionism end up hampering innovation and crippling their industries, which leads to lower economic growth and ultimately higher unemployment."

On the other hand, it seems to me that protectionism only _indirectly_ "hampers innovation," a _secondary_ effect rather than a primary one. Underpaying one's workes would, IMHO, have a _direct, primary_ effect on "hampering innovation". If these tech firms are really worried about killing innovation, they should raise wages instead of lowering them.

Maybe I'm being uncharitable, but this whole argument seems so obvious to me, that I can't believe presumably smart people (e.g. those that run tech firms) are so totally oblivious to it.

This sort of thing has led me to develop a theory I call the "bad-faith argument." I believe that political discussion from the pro-corporate Right
today (arguably the religious Right as well) is not meant to be taken at face value. It's all a bunch of code words which are meant to confuse and distract the Left and the uninformed Middle. This allows the Right to communicate clearly among its various factions without using buzzwords that would alarm Leftists (nor, also, the less-politically savvy voters, whose jobs are about to be exported).

In other words, the Systems Policy Project wrote a report designed to send a message to (p)Resident Bush and the Republicans: "Don't crack down on our export of jobs, or we may be less generous donating to your campaign." The tech firms know that's the real core message; Bush knows that's the real core message -- but Leftists are now forced to waste time and energy explaining to the less-savvy general public (using boring, wonkish economic data and graphs) that the surficial phrasing of this report is false.

There's no way to win this argument because the argument we're debating is a decoy; it's not the message which is actually important to corporations or Republicans.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:42 AM

You've come up in a search for "thief," Sir

How stupid does one have to be to think you wouldn't get caught by a guy who started a stunt based on search engines?

I mean, really. You'd think that a right-wing radio host petty enough to want to "fight back" against the whole Bush "miserable failure" Google-bomb stunt would have been rational enough to not plagarize someone else's web site to do it.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:21 AM

Because I'm an ass, okay?

Kos posts newest NASA photographs of Lieberman fundraiser.

Look, Kucinich brought a pie chart to a radio debate, so he took his own turn for himself.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:46 AM

January 8, 2004

Ahh, zee majesteek luminositeeee...

Chris is an avowed fan of intriguing marine life (also, X-Men) so I'm sure he'll be even more amazed than I was about the discovery of a glow-in-the-dark squid.

While other luminous sea creatures are known, the reflective plates on the Hawaiian bobtail squid differ from those of other animals, according to researchers at Kewalo Marine Laboratory, University of Hawaii-Manoa.

The light itself is provided by colonies of luminescent bacteria that live on the squids, the researchers report in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

"Light organs are not uncommon in nature," observed Wendy J. Crookes, first author of the paper. "In this one the light organ does have a lens similar to an eye in some respects, but we don't really know its capabilities in terms of specifically directing light."

"The light is subtle, but it's there," she added. "We think it's a counter-predatory camouflage."

I have become increasingly convinced that, in the long run, humans got the shaft when we were dealt the whole opposable thumbs gig.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:57 PM

A Free Republic means you don't have to make sense

Okay, so here's what I don't understand:

Hillary Clinton has said, what- about 60 times now- on national television and public statements that she has no, nada, none, zinch, not a single incremental absolutely no friggin' chance whatsoever of running for president in 2004. And, as is the ambiguity of such clearly vague statements like this, the lunatic right has decided that this calls for interpretation into secret, dark nefarious plans for world domination.

Meanwhile, in the real world, Katherine Harris, former Florida Secretary of State who is serving her first term in Congress, is very likely going to announce a Senate run for the 2004 race.

Now, one would think that if you likewise went to the same bastion of conspiracy theories about power-hungry politcal lunatics (occasionally referred to by non-Freepers as "women") you would expect a similar declaration of how a woman who as Secretary of State used the power of her office to subvert local election laws and thereafter begged for an ambassador position before seizing a Congressional seat in a GOP-locked district wanting to go for the Senate after only one term might... might... be construed as a similar sign of personal ambition over substance.

One would think that, but of course they would be wrong. Half the hard-right embraces the idea of getting Harris into the Senate, while the other half shows dismay over the realization that, amidst all the ranting, Katherine Harris is ten times the self-serving opportunist that any fictional composite of Hillary Clinton ever could be... but only in the context that it could lose votes for Bush in 2004.

So, clearly, it's full speed ahead for Katherine Harris, who will either make a great Senator if she runs, or will be agreeing to the logic and rationale of the Bush Republican Party if she doesn't. Because, no matter what, she's clearly more rational than the duplicitous schemes of Hillary Clinton, blatantly poising herself to do whatever she wants even though she's said a few dozen times she's not.

Good lord, this is going to be a long eleven months.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:53 PM

What he said

Jesse sums up perfectly the argument for restoring voting rights to ex-felons.

People who have committed crimes, been sentenced, and have fully served their debt to society should be fully allowed back into that society; that includes the basic personal liberty of the right to vote.

To permanently strip one of the right to vote is to permanently sentence someone to a removal of one of their basic rights... something which, given how the majority of the prison sentences in this country are for minor and non-violent crimes, is a clear case of cruel and unusual punishment.

Update: Calpundit weighs in as well.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 5:52 PM

Children: the perfect accessory!

Back in the earlier days of American industry, people created new products and chose, as a lasting symbol of their family line, to name some of the products after their family. (The ill-famed Edsel was the name of Ford's deceased son, for example.)

We now have the reverse of this, in which parents are deciding which brand name would be best for their child to establish a linkage not to how good your family is, but how good your favorite fashion designer is.

In recent years, more children are being named for luxury products. According to the Social Security Administration's database of popular names given to babies, in 2000 there were 353 Lexuses, 298 Armanis, 269 Chanels, 24 Porsches and 3,285 Tiffanys.

Psychology professor Cleveland Evans of Nebraska's Bellevue University has found other brand-inspired names not listed by the Social Security Administration's as among the 1,000 most popular baby names. They include Timberland (6 boys) and Cartier (6 girls). Some of these names have alternative meanings, of course: Porsche, for instance, is a variation of the Latin-derived name Portia, meaning "offering." And Tiffany has long been a name for girls and so may not be linked to the luxury-goods chain. But others on the list don't seem to have anything to do with anything but brands that are popular in the automotive, apparel and cosmetics industries.

"We live in an era of the power of the brand name," says Pamela Redmond Satran, author of the baby-naming book "Beyond Jennifer & Jason, Madison & Montana." "People are conscious of marketing, where 10 years ago they might not have known what marketing was" when it comes to baby names.

For now, the mass marketing of certain upscale brands ensures an immediate link between a luxury product and a child named for it. Says baby name author Bruce Lansky: "Here's the cool thing about names: At no cost to you, you can acquire the same designer and a part of that cachet."

Look, name your kid Chanel because you think it's a pretty name, but if you're naming your baby to honor the perfume you love to wear, that might, just might, be one of the signs you're not smart enough to be a parent just yet, m'kay?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 5:42 PM

Oh, so now they use a simple, understandable voting method

If you go to MoveOn's Bush in 30 Seconds site you can vote for "runners-up" in a few different categories. One of them is "best animated ad," which has four really good participants, none of which are me. Oh well.

I'll look into ways to put my ad up on this site sometime in the near future. Thanks to everyone who voted.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:29 PM

January 7, 2004

Stupeeed Americanos!

Tech firms blame everyone else for screwing over American labor force:

Leading technology companies urged Congress and the Bush administration Wednesday not to impose new trade restrictions aimed at keeping U.S. jobs from moving overseas, where labor costs are lower.

The companies said such policies would do little to resolve long-standing problems more broadly affecting America's global competitiveness, such as low-scoring schools and inadequate research spending. Erecting barriers, they said, "could lead to retaliation from our trading partners and even an all-out trade war."

In a report by a trade group for some leading technology companies, executives argued that moving jobs to countries such as China or India � where labor costs are cheaper � helps companies break into lucrative foreign markets and hire skilled and creative employees in countries where students perform far better than U.S. students in math and science.

Shorter Tech Firms: Preventing offshoring would force our companies to hire Americans who we suddenly discovered are much stupider than the people we coincidentally can pay much less.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:05 PM

Newest comic - "Lowering the bar a bit"

Given that most people link to the larger files anyway and the bandwidth (and posting) is annoying for two different sizes, I'm splitting the difference and posting comics from now on in one size of 700 px in width. Please adjust your lives accordingly.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:58 AM

January 6, 2004

But some animals are more equal than others

A longtime political activist was fined $500 Tuesday after a judge found him guilty of entering a restricted area during a presidential visit.

Brett Bursey, 55, was charged in March - five months after he was arrested during a visit to Columbia by President Bush. The president visited Columbia in October 2002 to gather support for Republican candidates heading into November elections.

Full article here, as well as here. Bursey was arrested for holding up an anti-Bush sign in a crowd of Bush supporters- none of whom were arrested for not being in a "Free Speech Zone."

(via Metafilter)

Posted by August J. Pollak at 5:22 PM

Obey the floating pig

Pork 4 Kids.

That's right. It's a kid's activity page sponsored by the National Pork Board. I put this on Metafilter the other day and I think I'll concur that one of the more frightening aspects is the ominous presence of a happy, floating pig demanding that you build virtual sandwiches.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 3:00 PM

Sometimes, you just can't make this stuff up

Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul & Mary endorses John Kerry.

Okay, the Globetrotters thing was supposed to be funny, but man.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:26 AM

Random thought

Bill Bradley's gonna be on TV today endorsing Howard Dean... is anyone else going to find it amusing that there's probably about two feet in height between the two of them?

Update: Okay, almost.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:11 AM

January 5, 2004

MoveOn update

Via Metafilter there's links to see all 15 Bush In 30 Seconds finalists (scroll around for them) in one file. (Thanks, Matt!)

As I'd indicated earlier, I'm not one of them. However, I see on MoveOn's site that there's apparently some kind of runoff for various special categories, one of which is animation. So you'll hear about this from me as soon as I hear about it from them.

Update: If you go here and register your e-mail address, MoveOn will apparently send you a link through e-mail on January 8 to vote on the animated ads. (Yes, I believe you have to do it again even if you registered for the main contest.)

Do what you will, which I for one hope is, you know, related to my ad and watching and voting for it and stuff.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 5:03 PM

A view into the mind of a terrorist

Salon prints an excerpt from an essay by Chuck Spingola, member of the anti-abortion terrorist group Army of God, in regards to Clayton Waagner. Waagner, one of the FBI's 10 Most Wanted, was convicted in 2003 for sending anthrax threats to abortion clinics across the country.

I have heard it said that Christian terrorist Clay Waagner did some things wrong during his 10-month reign of terror and that he does not deserve hero status because he was a bank robber and a car thief. But it should also be noted that this bank-robbing, car-thieving terrorist is directly responsible for saving the lives of 5,000 innocent babies. What great things have brother Clay Waagner's detractors done to qualify them to stand in judgment of his deeds? Prudence would suggest we leave his wartime actions for God to judge and give honor to whom honor is due -- and for those who don't believe a war is going on, it's only because you don't hear their screams. Chalk up another hallelujah and a hip, hip, hooray for the Christian who terrorized the entire nation's abortion industry without firing a shot.

The wicked civilian and the federal government appear to be co-conspirators in their coup to overthrow Christ and his people. For the most part the wicked are no longer terrified of the God-fearing man. Those blessed few that actually do terrify the wicked are vigorously denounced and punished by the government "of the people." I often weep over the persecution of the Christian terrorist in this country, for their oppression accomplishes three goals. First, it comforts and strengthens the wicked. Second, it discourages the would-be Christian terrorist from action. Third, it makes the Christian terrorist feel alone in his cause.

Most of the time when I leave the killing place my self-esteem diminishes, as I have failed where others have succeeded. Pleading, politics and pandering have done precious little to stop the holocaust against the innocent. But the Christian terrorist is not so inadequate. Dead abortionists don't kill babies, and a fire-bombed death camp can no longer facilitate the holocaust against them.

I hate to bring such a frightening dose of reality to those who think nothing is more important than stopping all of the evil brown people across the ocean from being an imminent threat to us with their non-existant WMDs, but people might want to take note that this man is a terrorist. He advocates killing people and mass destruction. He lives right here in the United States. Who are you more afraid of?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:17 AM

Post-holiday mailbag

Digging through the inbox, there's a few e-mails that were lain fallow with all the busy work lazy consumption of food and partying done over the last few holiday weeks. So here's a few e-mails I read, liked, and was as always too much of an ass to respond to.

Two e-mails came in from readers on my post last week about the minimum wage. From "Mr. Royko:"

If you are advocating a federal minimum waged of an amount determined on a state to state basis (via some formula, kind of like gas mixtures), that sounds like an interesting idea. If you are advocating that states should independently decide their own minimum wages, then I'd be a little concerned.

My concern would be that an individual state would lower or drop a minimum wage to lure more industry. I mean, they already give massive
tax-exemptions to get businesses. Industries would go to that state, and
some of people there would be screwed. Sure, they could move. But perhaps they don't want to. Or, if so many businesses have moved to that state,
perhaps they would have trouble finding work elsewhere.

Maybe I'm just paranoid. But I wouldn't want to see a battle between low/non-minimum wage states and high minimum wage states. I think there
would be significant pressure on states with higher minimum wages to lower them. I'd prefer at least to have one national, rock bottom, minimum wage (and $7 is pretty much that anywhere) to ensure that at least workers could
count on something.

Ryoko has a point, though I had meant that the state-by-state review of minimum wage would not allow "lowering to affect industry appeal" as a factor in calculation. It's funny that making the wage higher- thus implying that this was a state where there would be more people with more money to spend- could be a detracting factor, but that's the beauty of Capitalism, so says Mr. Lay. The other e-mail is from Erich Heckscher, who proves he knew more about this than me to begin with:

Point well-taken regarding the disparity of cost of living levels in America. However, the city of San Francisco recently passed a measure raising its minimum wage to $8.50 an hour in order to compensate for the higher cost of living there. The federal minimum wage is just that: a federal minimum. I believe your and Kevin's ideas can both work. Congress always cites cost of living when they vote to raise their pay, so this is, if nothing else, a guarantee that the minimum wage would trend upwards with more regularity. I think it is a good idea to set the federal minimum at 10% or so of what Congress pays itself (that doesn't sound like much, especially without the 2 week "recesses") and allow the states to adjust upwards from there as necessary. $7.50 an hour in rural Mississippi is probably reasonable to support one's self, especially once Wal Mart is forced to raise its prices.

This might be a shock to all of you, but it turns out I'm not the only person in the world who dislikes Rush Limbaugh. Based on my earlier post analyzing Limbaugh's recent legal defense (a.k.a. "The Butler Did It," a.k.a. "lying his ass off") readers offered tidbits as:

If Limbaugh took painkillers to avoid surgery, then how could he stop taking painkillers now? Shouldn't he be in even more pain, seeing as painkillers don't halt, much less retard, degeneration of the spine? (Burton Radons)
My wife used to work at a rehab center, and it's her experience that:

1) 30 days isn't long enough to get clean of a script drug habit, particularly oxycontin; and

2) Anyone who does 30 days rehab and professes to be clean will backslide.
(Timothy J. Miller)

Update: A reader wishing to be anonymous explained to me that states already set their own minimum wages. So, admittedly, I sort of didn't know part of what I was talking about. I think we can still all stand by the idea though that it's too low no matter where you go.

And no matter where you go... there you are. Sorry.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:09 AM

They're allowed to say that?

Hey, did you guys know that U.S. soldiers are actually dying in Iraq?

American newspapers apparently found out this weekend.

Obviously I'm being a bit snarky here, but I don't recall the last time Yahoo headlined their news with an article in which the actual subject- not just a stat blurb- focused on how soldiers are constantly dying for just being there and how, "transport tube" administration desperate to whitewash it aside, this is, you know, a really, really bad thing.

Smith had been driving for 15 hours with little break, and the Humvee's radio, speedometer and seat belts were not functioning, said his lone passenger, Lance Cpl. Antonio J. Delk. One of its low-beam lights also was out, and Smith was using his high beams sparingly so as not to blind oncoming traffic. When the trailer suddenly materialized, there was no time to react.

Months later, Smith's mother said her son's loss would somehow be easier to accept if he had been killed by hostile fire.

"It was a stupid accident; it shouldn't have happened," Patricia T. Smith said. "He'd be ticked off because he would think he didn't die the way a Marine should die."

With all due respect to Smith's family, to whom I send my condolences, there's a lot of stupid things that shouldn't have happened long before this. Unfortunately, we have a country that decided Bush's loss of Osama would somehow be easier to accept if we declared war on Saddam Hussein.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 1:29 AM