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Wednesday, January 14, 2004
Moving Day
It's time. The Gap is moving to http://www.18minutegap.com. I'm going to leave things here as long as blogspot will let me, but I've also imported all the old content into Movable Type at the new place. Comments, unfortunately, have been lost in the import process. Check it out, let me know what you think.

P. S. If you read the Gap through an aggregator, our new syndication address is http://18minutegap.com/index.rdf.

Monday, January 12, 2004
For everything else...
via Josh Marshall:

Waiting for the announcement of the investigation after the Bob Novak column outing Valerie Plame: 74 days.

Waiting for the announcement of the investigation after the 60 Minutes interview with Paul O'Neill: 1 day.

Realizing the administration is a gaggle of hypocritical goons: timeless

Gotta get a new boggle-o-meter.
This time the extended range version with overload protection.
George W. Bush tells New Yorker writer Ken Auletta: "No President has ever done more for human rights than I have."
Excuse me? More than freeing the slaves? More than defeating the Nazis? Is there supposed to be a "this week" at the end of that comment or something?
Once more for the Rocket
I'm not terribly surprised. 1 year, $5M. It's got to be hard for a guy like Clemens to walk away from the game feeling like he can still pitch. This gives the Astros a terrific rotation for next year: Oswalt, Miller, Clemens, Pettite, warm body. Meanwhile, the Yankees have lost 3/5 of their rotation from last year, with Clemens and Pettite in Houston and Wells in San Diego.
Your papers, comrade?
With this sort of system under consideration, how far can we be from "internal passports" or some other similarly evil idea?
More on O'Neill
From, of all places, the NY Post:
Vice President Dick Cheney once dismissed talk of federal fiscal worries by saying, "deficits don't matter," former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill says in a controversial new book on his two years in the Bush White House.

O'Neill was brought into the administration by Cheney. When he became unhappy with the shallowness of economic discussions at the White House, he went to see the Vice President, he says in the book, "The Price of Loyalty," by Ron Suskind.

At one point after the 2002 elections, O'Neill said he told Cheney about the dangers of further tax cuts and the huge deficits they would cause, according to Time magazine, which interviewed the former Treasury Secretary.

"Reagan proved deficits don't matter," O'Neill quotes Cheney as saying.

O'Neill, who sat on the National Security Council, also says the Bush team began planning the Iraq war long before 9/11. He added, "In the 23 months I was there, I never saw anything I would characterize as evidence of weapons of mass destruction."

Bush's aides have dismissed the book, and an administration official told Time he would not "have been in a position to see" WMD evidence.

So, um, we're supposed to believe that someone on the NSC wouldn't have been in a position to see WMD evidence? Could that be because it didn't exist?
Four years ago today....
Oh, come on.
At least tell us the good lies.
"The tax relief the president has given to this economy is working," Commerce Secretary Don Evans told CNN's "Late Edition." "On three separate occasions over the last three years, he's provided additional tax relief for American workers, American families, businesses across America, and guess what? It's working. The results are showing that it's working."
Now the only question I have is this: what would it take to prove to these lunatics that the tax cuts aren't working? It's a trick question. All it would take is the loss of one job. Bush's.
Sunday, January 11, 2004
So, um, what you're saying is...
"Nobody listened to him when he was in office. Why should anybody now?"

That's a "senior administration official", quoted anonymously in the Washington Post about the charges in Paul O'Neill's new book. So is he saying that they made a dumb choice for Treasury Secretary? Just asking....

Friday, January 09, 2004
But, of course, the real problem with "political hate speech" is on the left
This, from Ann Coulter's latest at Townhall.com (I'll spare you the link):
Then about a month ago, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press released a poll showing that people who regularly attend religious services supported Bush 63 percent to 37 percent, and those who never attend religious services opposed him 62 percent to 38 percent. When you exclude blacks (as they do in Vermont), who are overwhelmingly Baptist and overwhelmingly Democratic, and rerun the numbers, basically any white person who believes in God is a Republican.

The only Democrats who go to church regularly are the ones who plan to run for president someday and are preparing in advance to fake a belief in God.

Though Dean is pursuing the Jesus thing with a vengeance, the results so far have been mixed. In Iowa last week, Dean said, "Let's get into a little religion here," and then began denouncing Christian minister Jerry Falwell. "Don't you think Jerry Falwell reminds you a lot more of the Pharisees than he does of the teachings of Jesus?" I don't even know what Dean means by that. I am sure his audience doesn't.

Personally, if I'd been on the fence about Dean, that last paragraph would have convinced me to vote for him.
Unemployment update
The "good" news: the unemployment rate dropped by .1%.
The bad news: payroll employment only increased by 1,000, so that rate decrease looks like people dropping out of the workforce.

Not much progress on those 1.4 million new jobs we were promised, eh?

Thursday, January 08, 2004
Why I'm for Howard Dean
Straight talk. This from an interview with David Catanese on KFYR in North Dakota:
Dean - Historically it should be an uphill battle, but the truth is, there are a lot of jobs that have disappeared in North Dakota. Tell me what Republicans have done for North Dakota lately. I can't think of much. They've lost jobs. They've gone elsewhere. No Child Left Behind passed. It's costing North Dakota a ton of money. Property taxes are going up. 7 schools have already closed. I don't see how these Republican initiatives help North Dakota.

[interviewer] - If Republicans don't do anything for North Dakota, why did Bush win it 61-35?

Dean - Well, now they have a chance to take back that mistake.

Four years ago today...
Reporting on last night's Republican debate, the NYT had this to say:
A day after an aggressive and sometimes vitriolic encounter in New Hampshire, the Republicans went easier on each other in debate last night, this time turning much of their fire on President Clinton and the Democratic candidates for president.
Bush has said repeatedly that he believes that South Carolinians should be left to decide the fate of that flag and that a candidate for president should not meddle. But Williams asked him if he was personally offended by the banner.

Bush did not bite.

"What you're trying to get me do is express the will of the people of South Carolina,'' he said. "I believe the people of South Carolina can figure out what to do with this flag issue.''

Who says there's no plan to Bush's policies?
Terrorist threats, unorthodox division
This is ...disturbing.
A she-bomber planned to blow up British Airways Flight 223 over Washington with plastic explosives hidden inside her body, a chilling new report says.

U.S. security services told Scotland Yard that the woman - almost certainly linked to al Qaeda - planned to hide 8 to 12 ounces of the material tucked inside her reproductive region, London's Mirror newspaper reported.

When the flight was over the nation's capital, the bomber would go to the bathroom, remove the explosives and detonate a blast that would blow the aircraft out of the skies.

A Homeland Security official said he was unaware of a specific threat of a female suicide bomber who would hide explosives in her body.

But he added, "We've had concerns about IEDs" - improvised explosives devices.

As a result, airport security screeners check for women wearing loose clothing and other signs the official declined to talk about.

"Smuggling a bomb onto a plane by this method is one of our worst nightmares," a senior Scotland Yard source told the newspaper. "If you do not have specific information about the suspect, it would be impossible to carry out an intimate body search of every female passenger."

Wednesday, January 07, 2004
Irrelevancy Alert
The real world definitely needs an irrelevancy alarm like the one on Schickele. Mix. In this case, it would be installed in a permanently "on" position at the offices of The New Republic, a once-great magazine, to commemorate their choice to endorse Joe Lieberman inthe Democratic primaries.
In memoriam...
Thanks to Andrew, who pointed this out in comments, but I wanted to bring it out here:
Thomas G. Stockham Jr., a pioneer researcher of digital-sound recording who won a technical Oscar and helped investigate President Nixon's mysterious 18-minute tape gap, has died from complications related to Alzheimer's disease.

The 70-year-old former University of Utah professor died Tuesday in Salt Lake City.

Stockham, an electrical engineer, and the late Robert B. Ingebretsen, who had been his graduate student, did pioneering work in the 1970s on converting analog sound into a digital format. Their work helped lead to the development of compact discs, and they received a Scientific/Engineering Academy Award in 1999.

In 1972, Stockham was one of the experts hired to try to examine the 18-minute gap on one of Nixon's secret White House tapes.

OK, this is a winner.
Ad from San Diego-based hosting service cari.net.
Bush lied. 500 US soldiers died. Thousands of Iraqi civilians died.
From the Washington Post:
But investigators have found no support for the two main fears expressed in London and Washington before the war: that Iraq had a hidden arsenal of old weapons and built advanced programs for new ones. In public statements and unauthorized interviews, investigators said they have discovered no work on former germ-warfare agents such as anthrax bacteria, and no work on a new designer pathogen -- combining pox virus and snake venom -- that led U.S. scientists on a highly classified hunt for several months. The investigators assess that Iraq did not, as charged in London and Washington, resume production of its most lethal nerve agent, VX, or learn to make it last longer in storage. And they have found the former nuclear weapons program, described as a "grave and gathering danger" by President Bush and a "mortal threat" by Vice President Cheney, in much the same shattered state left by U.N. inspectors in the 1990s.

A review of available evidence, including some not known to coalition investigators and some they have not made public, portrays a nonconventional arms establishment that was far less capable than U.S. analysts judged before the war. Leading figures in Iraqi science and industry, supported by observations on the ground, described factories and institutes that were thoroughly beaten down by 12 years of conflict, arms embargo and strangling economic sanctions. The remnants of Iraq's biological, chemical and missile infrastructures were riven by internal strife, bled by schemes for personal gain and handicapped by deceit up and down lines of command. The broad picture emerging from the investigation to date suggests that, whatever its desire, Iraq did not possess the wherewithal to build a forbidden armory on anything like the scale it had before the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

David Kay, who directs the weapons hunt on behalf of the Bush administration, reported no discoveries last year of finished weapons, bulk agents or ready-to-start production lines. Members of his Iraq Survey Group, in unauthorized interviews, said the group holds out little prospect now of such a find. Kay and his spokesman, who report to Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet, declined to be interviewed.

Read the rest.
Bush lied. 500 US soldiers died. Thousands of Iraqi civilians died.
Tuesday, January 06, 2004
The shape of things to come....
Zed at MemeMachineGo tipped me off to this one.
Domain impeachdean.com:
  Sunlane Media
  PO Box 231789
  Encinitas, CA 92024 US

Administrative contact:
Technical contact:
Billing contact:
  Sunlane Media
  Tim Lyman
  PO Box 231789
  Encinitas, CA 92024 US
  Phone: +1.877 849 6203
  Fax: +1.877 849 6203
The same person also has registered impeachclark.com. The other candidates appear to still be available, though.
Just a heads up...
...I'm in the process of registering a new domain and will be moving over to http://18minutegap.com sometime in the next couple of weeks. The exact timing will depend on how much I feel like I need to monkey around with movable type to get it "good enough". It looks like I'll be able to drag over some of the recent posts here to provide some context. More news as it happens.
Good thing I didn't get that boggle-o-meter fixed yet...
...because this would have blown it right out again.
The Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 grants the FBI unprecedented power to obtain records from financial institutions without requiring permission from a judge.

Under the law, the FBI does not need to seek a court order to access such records, nor does it need to prove just cause.

Previously, under the Patriot Act, the FBI had to submit subpoena requests to a federal judge. Intelligence agencies and the Treasury Department, however, could obtain some financial data from banks, credit unions and other financial institutions without a court order or grand jury subpoena if they had the approval of a senior government official.

The new law (see Section 374 of the act), however, lets the FBI acquire these records through an administrative procedure whereby an FBI field agent simply drafts a so-called national security letter stating the information is relevant to a national security investigation.

And the law broadens the definition of "financial institution" to include such businesses as insurance companies, travel agencies, real estate agents, stockbrokers, the U.S. Postal Service and even jewelry stores, casinos and car dealerships.

The law also prohibits subpoenaed businesses from revealing to anyone, including customers who may be under investigation, that the government has requested records of their transactions.

Ah, who needed that pesky old Fourth Amendment, anyway?
...to new Baseball Hall of Fame members Dennis Eckersley and Paul Molitor.

And a second round of boo, hiss to Pete Rose for the utterly no-class way he timed the sudden recollection that "oh, yeah, I did bet on baseball!" just before the announcement of the Hall election results. Just one more reason to dislike him, as though you really needed it. And, according to ESPN radio, Tommy Gioiosa and Paul Jantzen say that Pete's still lying when he says he never placed bets from his office.

...to new Baseball Hall of Fame members Dennis Eckersley and Paul Molitor.

And a second round of boo, hiss to Pete Rose for the utterly no-class way he timed the sudden recollection that "oh, yeah, I did bet on baseball!" just before the announcement of the Hall election results. Just one more reason to dislike him, as though you really needed it. And, according to ESPN radio, Tommy Gioiosa and Paul Jantzen say that Pete's still lying when he says he never placed bets from his office.

...to new Baseball Hall of Fame members Dennis Eckersley and Paul Molitor.

And a second round of boo, hiss to Pete Rose for the utterly no-class way he timed the sudden recollection that "oh, yeah, I did bet on baseball!" just before the announcement of the Hall election results. Just one more reason to dislike him, as though you really needed it. And, according to ESPN radio, Tommy Gioiosa and Paul Jantzen say that Pete's still lying when he says he never placed bets from his office.

Time to get a new boggle-o-meter.
This just broke the old one.
In what the White House is billing as an important speech on immigration policy, President Bush will unveil a plan Wednesday that would allow immigrants to enter the United States if they have jobs.

The proposal also is expected to put illegal workers already in the United States on a path toward legal status.

"There is an economic need, and it is important that we have an immigration policy that meets those economic needs," said White House press secretary Scott McClellan in a preview of the speech.

Let me repeat that: There is an economic need.... So it's not enough that the miserable failure in the White House has watched 3 million jobs disappear, now he wants to allow illegal immigrants to fill more of the ones that are left?

It's so true. This administration has no philosophy beyond "what can I do today to bribe a few more people into giving me money."

Is this supposed to make us feel better?
From the Contra Costa Times:
The federal government has decided to kill 450 quarantined calves from a Washington state herd that includes the offspring of the animal found to have the nation's first known case of mad cow disease.
Officials said the herd will be destroyed because they were unable to determine which young bull was the offspring of the diseased cow.
Officials know the diseased mother's calf is about six weeks old and living on a Sunnyside, Wash., feedlot, but they have not found records that would identify which of the 450 animals it is.
I don't know about you, but that doesn't speak well of their record keeping. And why can't they do DNA testing to find out which one it was? Or, for that matter, test all 450 of them for BSE?
Do as we say, not as we do...
While the RNC is wailing and gnashing their teeth over the fact that two of the hundreds of ads submitted to moveon.org for their Bush in 30 Seconds contest (go see the 15 finalists) dared to compare the miserable failure in the White House to Adolf Hitler, one of their fellow travelers contributes this via the New York Post:
IT'S fashionable in left- wing circles to describe anyone who admires America as a fascist. But the real totalitarian threats of our time come from the left. And no public figure embodies the left's contempt for basic freedoms more perfectly than Howard Dean.
Yep, it's that same Howard Dean who supports people's rights to own guns and to marry whomever they choose. Apparently Mr. Peters has some unusual definition of "basic freedoms".
But Howard Dean and his Deanie-weenies do all they can to restrict the free speech of others. I can predict with certainty that Dean's Internet Gestapo will pounce on this column, twisting the facts and vilifying the writer, just as they do when anyone challenges Howard the Coward. Hey, I guess that's me. I think I'll leave the vilifying up to the reader, though. Got to go pick up my brown shirt from the cleaners.
Then there are Dean's endless "Big Lies": Liberating 25 million Iraqis was "wrong." Saddam's capture doesn't make any difference. Osama bin Laden should be presumed innocent, despite his own admission of responsibility for the 9/11 attacks. Bush knew in advance about the 9/11 attacks. The Global War on Terror is a failure. The economy's a disaster. And the administration is hiding terrible secrets.
Hm. Looks like we've gotten to the "twisting the facts" portion of the festivities. Unfortunately, Mr. Peters doesn't seem to believe in waiting for us "Deanie-weenies" to do it. But just to poke at one that particularly gets my goat, Dean never said that capturing Saddam "doesn't make any difference". He said it doesn't make us safer. And you have to be engaged in a particularly creative sort of denial to look at the Orange Alert and the number of US soldiers killed since his capture and say that he was wrong.
There's more, but out of consideration for the fact that some of you may be eating, I'll skip it.

I do want to remark on the fundamental bizarreness of attacking people for saying that someone should get a fair trial, though. Even Goering and Speer got fair trials at Nuremberg.

Oh, and one more thing: how much of an asshole do you have to be to trot out the Hitler comparisons against a man who's married to a Jew? Have you no shame, Ralph Peters?

Nudge, nudge, wink, wink...
From the AP, via Corrente:
A proposed Labor Department rule suggests ways employers can avoid paying overtime to some of the 1.3 million low-income workers who would become eligible this year.

The department's advice comes even as it touts the $895 million in increased wages that it says those workers would be guaranteed from the reforms.

Among the options for employers: cut workers' hourly wages and add the overtime to equal the original salary, or raise salaries to the new $22,100 annual threshold, making them ineligible.

The department says it is merely listing well-known choices available to employers, even under current law.

"We're not saying anybody should do any of this," said Labor Department spokesman Ed Frank. (emphasis mine, insanity theirs)

Let's just drop the doublespeak and change the name to the Business Department, eh?
Monday, January 05, 2004
Have you stopped beating your wife?
The Manchester Union Leader, who are so far right they think Reagan was "probably not a Commie", has published a list of 20 questions to ask your candidate. Here's one, just so you can join in the "what are these people smoking" contest:
19. In every other nation in which health care is paid for by the national government, that care is rationed and citizens must wait months, even years, for treatment. How would you avoid this outcome in the United States?
Of course, care is never rationed in the US. Just ask your HMO. And nobody ever has to wait more than 15 minutes for any treatment up to and possibly including brain surgery.
I'm not sure what to make of this.
"Inspired" is the first word that comes to mind, but then I'm not sure what it would have been inspired by. But if you think "baseball is a metaphor for life" is much too limiting to baseball, check out the Cosmic Baseball Association. It's sort of two parts W.P. Kinsella, one part George Will, and one part Thomas Pynchon. All of whom I recommend. Except for Will.

Thanks to Zed at Meme Machine Go for pointing it out.

"Go Read It" for January 5
This essay by Paul Graham seems very apropos for the current moment. Here's a sample:
Let's start with a test: Do you have any opinions that you would be reluctant to express in front of a group of your peers?

If the answer is no, you might want to stop and think about that. If everything you believe is something you're supposed to believe, could that possibly be a coincidence? Odds are it isn't. Odds are you just think whatever you're told.

Go read the rest.
Endangered Species Alert!
Save The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus!
Perspective: 4 years ago today
Sunday, January 04, 2004
Opinions wanted...
I'm thinking about moving to a new host with movable type for the blog. I'm interested in hearing from anyone who has opinions about whether
  1. it's a good idea,
  2. is it a bad idea to change the name?, and
  3. iany suggestions for a new name?
A Rose is a Rose is a Rose...
Pete Rose apparently finally admits to betting on baseball in his new book. Somehow, in the eyes of a number of people, this makes it all OK. Even though Rose has been bashing John Dowd, whose evidence was enough to convince former Commissioner Bart Giamatti and a lot of the rest of us, for the past 15 years while refusing to admit his guilt. And the part I really don't understand, some people seem ready to put him right in the Hall of Fame.

Let me be very clear about this: Rose had some very, very significant achievements as a player. Mementos from his career definitely belong in the museum attached to the Hall of Fame (and, in fact, are there). But when they put a plaque in the hall, they're inducting the person. And while there are some real SOBs already in the Hall (Cap Anson and Ty Cobb come to mind), that doesn't excuse putting another one in. In my opinion, Anson shouldn't be there because of his role in keeping baseball segregated. The realiity is that during the time Anson came up for a vote, that was never going to be the kind of issue it is today. Rose broke a 100-year-old rule of baseball that's posted in every clubhouse. And then spent 15 years slandering the man who proved he did it. This is not a person who belongs on a plaque in the Hall of Fame.

To their credit, players seem to have a bit more sense than a lot of the writers about this. I heard on ESPN yesterday that a number of current HoF players have said that if Rose is inducted, they will never go back to Cooperstown. I'll go, but I'll probably get thrown out for spitting on his plaque.

On Edit: Thanks to Tom for pointing out that I confused Hal Chase (who isn't in the Hall) with Cap Anson (who is).

Cephalopod update...
Aren't you always on the lookout for information about how squid do it? Oh, by the way, there's a new Tako the Octopus episode available.
Let the Jew-baiting begin
Apparently finding Howard Dean insufficiently Christian, some moonbat named Matt Grills and well-known moonbat Cal Thomas (warning: follow links only if you have a strong stomach) seem to find it pertinent to mention that Dean's wife is Jewish. Here are the lowlights; Grills first:
Brace yourselves, people: Jesus wasn’t at all like Gandhi, Confucius or even Martin Luther King Jr. He didn’t have a “dream,” and he didn’t walk around talking about love and peace – at least not liberals’ idea of love and peace. [Jesus didn't talk about love and peace? Oh, wait, I get it. This is not about Jesus, this is about "liberals' idea of love and peace".]

Howard Dean’s comments place him squarely in the “Jesus of convenience” camp. His wife and children are Jewish. Cool. But I have to wonder: if Howie’s faith in Jesus Christ is so important to him, why didn’t he marry someone with the same faith? Why didn’t he insist on raising his children in that faith? Say it with me, on three: because what faith Howard Dean has in Jesus isn’t central to his life.

And after that appetizer, Cal Thomas:
In the Globe interview, [Dean] said Southerners understand religious talk better than his fellow New Englanders. Yes, that "vast Unitarian wasteland of the Northeast," as Charles Colson has jokingly called it, is the latest target of Dean's regional stereotyping. [Beyond the obvious truth of Dean's statement, I'm baffled at either Thomas or Colson. Unitarian? This would be the same Northeast that contains the Catholic stronghold of Boston and Rhode Island, the only state which is actually majority Catholic? The same Northeast with Congregationalist churches on every village green?]

Dean is from a Congregationalist background, a liberal denomination that does not believe in ministerial authority or church hierarchy. Each Congregationalist believes he is in direct contact with God and is entitled to sort out truth for himself. [Huh? I think he's still got the Congregationalists confused with the Unitarians.]

Dean's wife is Jewish and his two children are being raised Jewish, which is strange at best, considering that the two faiths take a distinctly different view of Jesus. [And what's "strange" about it? Being Jewish is "strange" now?]

The rest of Thomas' article is just garden variety smears, but I find something a bit more...sinister...behind this notion that there's something "strange" about being Jewish, or that it's somehow wrong for a Christian to marry one or let his children be raised in that faith.
Friday, January 02, 2004
Well, that will save us a lot of bother.
SFGate reporting:
Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson said Friday he believes God has told him President Bush will be re-elected in a "blowout" in November.

"I think George Bush is going to win in a walk," Robertson said on his "700 Club" program on the Virginia Beach-based Christian Broadcasting Network, which he founded. "I really believe I'm hearing from the Lord it's going to be like a blowout election in 2004. It's shaping up that way."

Robertson went on to say that we should repeal the endangered species act because God told him "look, if I didn't want them to be endangered you'd be tripping over them, OK?" and that God's favorite SUV is the original Hummer, because the H2 is just "too little and wussy. You could never project divine wrath from one of those."
The Universe Next Door
Reason Magazine online immanentizes Robert Anton Wilson. If you've never read him, you can get a mega-dose from our book-peddling friends at Powells:
The Illuminatus! Trilogy
Robert Anton Wilson
If globalization is good for us....
Why shouldn't it be good for the White House? Why not outsource the President's Council of Economic Advisors? It's not like they've been doing such a bang-up job, anyway.
Thursday, January 01, 2004
Well, it wasn't cattle futures
Presidential brother and S&L criminal Neil Bush made a tidy $798,218 trading stocks in a small high-tech company where he was a "consultant", including a single-day profit of over $170,000. Says Bush:
"Any increase in the price of the stock on that day was purely coincidental, meaning that I did not have any improper information," Bush said in e-mails to The Associated Press. "My timing on this transaction was very fortunate."

Now, I recall the outright disbelief on the part of many right wing pundits when Hillary Clinton gave a similar explanation about how she'd made a $100,000 profit on trading cattle futures. Somehow I suspect a similar level of outrage about this deal will be striking by its absence.

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