Monthly Archives: January 2004

Being Funny is Hard Work

I think there is something wrong about these bonding rituals in which Presdients go to formal dinners and make off-the-record funny speeches to white house correspondents and others. It's not just the elitism, although that's part of it. It feeds the press's idea of its self-importance.

That said, who knew how much work it can take to get a President to be funny in the Washington-approved way.

Posted in Politics: US | Comments Off on Being Funny is Hard Work

Scalia Recusal Issue (cont)

Much has been made of the Scalia line quoted in the Los Angeles Times that, “I do not think my impartiality could reasonably be questioned.” As I've already stated, I disagree. What's more important, however, is just how this comment of Scalia's was inappropriate and damaging. I'll set out some reasons below. But first, some detours.

The full text of Chief Justice Rehnquist's Jan. 26, 2004 short letter to Sen. Patrick Leahy clears up an ambiguity caused by the press reports. Recall that the Chief Justice was quoted as saying that,

“Anyone at all is free to criticize the action of a justice—as to recusal or as to the merits—after the case has been decided. But I think that any suggestion by you or Senator Lieberman as to why a justice should recuse himself in a pending case is ill-considered.”

On its face, this is a really, really odd claim.

Continue reading

Posted in Law: Ethics | 3 Comments

Biting Satire: The GW Bush C.V.

This Bush Resume thing is really making the rounds of the Internet. In addition to getting it by email, a quick Google suggests that different versions are poppping up all over.

Update (2/3). Here's a version with hyperlinks to the sources.

Continue reading

Posted in Politics: US | 7 Comments

More style sheet weirdness

This time I didn't change the style sheet. I just updated my copy of IE. And now, at least under win xp, the right column is off center and renders partly under the center. It looks fine in Mozilla. Data points from the Mac crowd or other browsers most welcome (or even IE under other OS's).

There may be a slight delay in fixing this one—both because I can't figure out what's causing it, and becasue my DSL connection is out at home. We're knocking down the back part of the house to rebuild it, bigger and better (we hope), and that includes the place where the DSL hits the house. We've cut the electricity to that section, so the modem — the last thing left over there — won't be able to do its stuff.

Until the nice people from Bell South come to move the service — which could be tomorrow with any luck, there will be less going on here. Indeed at some point I may lose dial-up too…

Posted in | 4 Comments

What David Bernstein Doesn’t (Want to) Get

It started with a pretty silly post by David Bernstein about why he thinks liberals should love G.W. Bush (because he spends lots of money). It's an argument that can only be made by applying a caricatured, no, a cartoon version of liberalism, in which spending is good per se, regardless of what you spend the money on, balanced budgets are irrelevant at all times in the business cycle, long run economic planning is of no importance, and, oh yes, whatever you do don't mention the war. Oh those silly liberals, caring about our troops, about the damage to our Army and Reserves, worrying about paying back the deficit, the looming pensions crisis, health care, not to mention equity and progressive taxation, the environment, the hinting about amending the Constitution to prevent same-sex marriage (or is it domestic partnerships, it's vague), the crony capitalism, the attack on the rights of labor, Guantanamo Bay, John Ashcroft, and I could go on.

I mean, the post was so silly that I wasn't even going to blog it. Even though I suppose it's possible that some knee-jerk Republicans might not take the trouble to work out what was wrong with it, I think most of them are smarter than that.

But the dang thing has legs.

Matthew Yglesias, who is usually pretty sharp, swallowed it whole.

And Brad DeLong, who is always sharp, swatted back in Matthew Yglesias Misses the Point, but too gently.

There is absolutely no reason a liberal should like GW Bush, and it has very little to do with the atmospherics. (As for the ranch, it would be fine if it weren't so faux.) It's about civil liberties, the environment, the war, the budget, and the continual campaign of routinely lying to the American people (see, e.g. under “Cheney”). The argument is infinitely weaker than when it was applied, only somewhat plausibly, to Nixon.

Posted in Readings | 4 Comments

Compare and Contrast (Or, Another Reason Why the Bush Administration is Loathsome)


Administration Plan Would Alter Rules at Nuclear Sites (1/29):The Bush administration is moving to replace safety requirements at federal nuclear facilities with standards written by contractors, according to a draft regulation.

Critics contend that under the proposal government standards at more than two-dozen Energy Department nuclear weapons plants and research laboratories could become unenforceable. Department officials say the intent is to give contractors more flexibility without compromising safety.

The proposal comes in response to a directive by Congress to start fining contractors at the plants for safety violations. Senator Jim Bunning, Republican of Kentucky, who wrote the legislation, accused the administration this week of distorting Congress's intent with a plan that “will likely decrease worker protection.”

Assistant Secretary Beverly Cook said, “The department believes the proposed rule seeks to fully protect our workers.”


U.S.: Nuclear Plant Cheated During Drill ( 1/27): Security guards at the nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge stunned inspectors in June by successfully repelling four simulated terrorist attacks — a feat computer programs predicted wouldn't be done.

That apparent success was tarnished, according to the Energy Department: Employees of an outside security contractor were tipped off about the impending simulations, making the tests a costly waste of time.

A broader investigation uncovered more evidence of cheating during mock attacks at the plant over the past two decades, including barricades being set up before the test to alter the outcome and guards deviating from the established response plan to improve their performance.

I suppose if people will play politics with national security, there's no particluar reason to expect them not to play politics with workers safety at nuclear power plants…

Posted in Politics: US | Comments Off on Compare and Contrast (Or, Another Reason Why the Bush Administration is Loathsome)