Monday, July 31, 2006

Rove vs. truth, fairness, justice

Presidential adviser Karl Rove said Saturday that journalists often criticize political professionals because they want to draw attention away from the "corrosive role" their own coverage plays in politics and government.

In a blatant use of newspeak, Rove attempts to draw attention away from the corrosive role political professionals play in politics and government and tar journalists with it. Spectacular. It's difficult to know whether he actually believes what he's saying--but I bet he does, because I think he really does hate the press.

What's certain is that Rove has been effective in raising the ire of American voters and turning it into Republican votes. I wish the Democrats had a Rove. I hate my life.

Who decides what's science?

I'm not sure what spin I want to put on this. In one corner, we have Ken Ham and John Morris, somethings, who had this to say:

"Americans just aren't gullible enough to believe that they came from a fish," he said.

And in the other, we have Mary Dawson, scientist:

"Genesis is a tale that was handed down for generations by people who really knew nothing about science, who knew nothing about natural history, and certainly knew nothing about what fossils were."

I mean, don't get me wrong, it'd be cool to watch creation unfold in a 180-seat special effects theater...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Second-Rate Dictators Club!

This article both amused and depressed me: amused because you have to wonder if Chavez and Lukashenko really take themselves seriously or are just being ridiculous to look good for their people; and depressed because of the way they're hurting the average Venezuelan and Belarussian. Seriously, though, if you were going to write an Onion article about the posturing of irrelevant countries, you'd probably pick these two. You'd write something like:

Venezuela, Belarus form strategic alliance in order to combat US hegemony

And then you'd have quotes like these:

"After a day of intensive work, we have created a strategic alliance between our countries," [Chavez] said, speaking through an interpreter. "It is absolutely vital to protect our homeland, to guard against internal and external threats. The jaws of imperialism and hegemonism have both us and Belarus in their grip."

Wait, those quotes are real? I see...

This is not good, either.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Webb v. Allen

Allen: Reagan inspired me to get involved in politics. Reagan would come to Rams football practices. As Governor, I wanted to bring forth a renaissance like Reagan did. Strong national defense, strong economic security, high academic standards. Reagan was criticized for calling the Soviet Union the Evil Empire. Yet millions today are tasting the "sweet nectar of liberty."

Webb: Ronald Reagan didn't bring down the Soviet Union by invading Czechoslovakia. I have another Presidential hero - Andrew Jackson. Jackson's precept was that you measure the health of a society not at its apex but at its base. I think Ronald Reagan would be wondering what's happening to the average American worker today.

You can see Webb subtly trying to appeal to both Republicans and Democrats. He's not out of the woods yet, but Allen can't like the poll numbers: one I saw had him with an 8-point lead over Webb, down from 20+ just a few months ago. Take that, Christian Kantianists!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Public and private

My company subscribes to a number of magazines about the federal IT marketplace. They have names like "The Federal IT Marketplace" and "Government IT Federal Computer Contractor Synergistic Marketplace Monthly." The latest issue of one such magazine had this gem:

Two employees sit in neighboring cubicles working on the same project. Both have comparable responsibilities and are equally effective. However, the similarities end when it comes to what motivates them. The first empoyee works for the government and believes the work has intrinsic value and that there is a duty to serve the American public as well as possible. The second employee, a contractor, enjoys the job but needs to work 60-hour weeks, split between this project and two others, to earn a bonus this year. The contractor also wants consideration for a future promotion up the corporate ladder.

Wow. I mean, wow. I'm glad our federal IT managers think like this. Aren't you? Curse those mercenary contractors.

More X's and Y's: CEO pay

This article carries the headline

"Study: Tech CEO Pay Doesn't Match Performance"

which is, I think, underwhelming. I wonder in how many industries CEO pay maps accurately to anything, really--stock price, employee morale, growth, profits, market capitalization, anything.

A tracking firm executive said, carefully and correctly:

"We don't know exactly the reason why a company does things," says Dolmat-Connell. "A company may be in the midst of a major business transition--we don't know the intricacies of the situation to know whether [a compensation package] was right or wrong."

He is implying in this statement that compensation packages should be tied to something, contra jackscolon (look at that fiery red hair!) who thinks that CEOs occupy an echelon of humanity in which nothing they can do is unjust or, really, is subject to judgment by we lowly bloggers at all. If Larry Ellison wants to pour hot soup in my eye and park his yacht on my face, he should be able to.

In conclusion, the data so far is inconclusive.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Rich Lowry can do better than this

The National Review is a well-written, insightful and fair publication.

Rich Lowry's current article is none of those things. The things j. morgan said in his sleep when he was 4 are more intelligent. There's this:

"After the 2004 election, then-New Republic editor Peter Beinart wrote an influential article calling on liberal hawks basically to purge the antiwar zealots from the party. Instead, the anti-war zealots are conducting a purge of the liberal hawks."

I used to like to play the Protoss in Starcraft, because one of their units was an anti-war zealot. You'd get a group of those together and they were unstoppable. And this beautiful turn of phrase:

"[Ned] Lamont is a straight Deaniac, not just in his opposition to the war, but in his demographic profile: white, well-off and highly educated."

Yeah...white, educated, well-off people who oppose the war...I call them "straight Deaniacs" too...I think everyone does...anti-war zealots, they are, whose burning, all-consuming zeal to oppose war leads them to...change their minds about things...

This just goes to show that not all X's are Y's.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Physics makes me strong

Now, I'm no geographist, but I did just read a hyperbole-laden article about physics.

The article's headline is

"Scientists Question Nature's Fundamental Laws "

Which, as far as I can tell, scientists have always been doing. So what part of this is news? This part:

"Public confidence in the "constants" of nature may be at an all time low. Recent research has found evidence that the value of certain fundamental parameters, such as the speed of light or the invisible glue that holds nuclei together, may have been different in the past. The observed differences are small-roughly a few parts in a million-but the implications are huge: The laws of physics would have to be rewritten, not to mention we might need to make room for six more spatial dimensions than the three that we are used to."

George W's approval rating: 35%

Public confidence in the constants of nature: 14%

Rewriting the laws of physics?! Can we DO that? Johnny, your report on invisible glue? F-! Where's the evidence?!

Well, I'm going to go rock some Starbucks while I jam to my iPod--and tomorrow I'm going to get a heart transplant and fix my air conditioning. If I suddenly float up to the ceiling, I'm going to be VERY angry. Easy on the rewrites, gentlemen.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Time: grasping at straws

The author or authors of this article either totally don't understand the Bush administration, or badly needed material for a cover article. You decide. What follows is a long quote and then my destruction of their argument.

"In the span of four years, the administration has been forced to rethink the doctrine by which it hoped to remake the world. Bush's response to the North Korean missile test was revealing: Under the old Bush Doctrine, defiance by a dictator like Kim Jong Il would have merited threats of punitive U.S. action. Instead, the administration has mainly been talking up multilateralism and downplaying Pyongyang's provocation.
The Bush Doctrine foundered in the principal place the U.S. tried to apply it."

This implies that behind closed doors, Team Bush is sitting down and having a heart to heart. Rummy leans over to Cheney and says, "Gosh, Dick, that whole unilateral War on Terror thing just didn't pan out. We're going to have to take a different approach."

I don't think so.

This "new" approach to North Korea doesn't represent a policy shift. The war in Iraq was a unique event precipitated by another unique event (9/11), and a long history (a father's invasion.) Whether or not Team Bush is taking a different approach to North Korea than the Middle East is irrelevant to it being a policy shift. Had North Korea gone forward with its missile tests before, during or after 9/11, there would never have been an invasion like the one into Iraq. (Had they shot Japan or Alaska in the face with a missile, sure, there might have been action taken. But firing a missile that failed two minutes after launch into the ocean is a different matter.)

In sum: there's no rethinking; there aren't any heart to hearts; there's no policy shift. The War on Terror was the War on Terror, and North Korea is North Korea.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Shades of gray?

Thanks to columnist Ben Shapiro for this nuanced view:

"Those who burn the flag are no less traitors than those who renounce their citizenship to fight with our enemies."

Got it--heading over to Afghanistan to kill American soldiers is morally equivalent to burning a flag in protest.