Saturday, May 31, 2003

You just have to wonder what the FCC is thinking. This media-consolidation bill is probably going to go through. It's really hard to believe it. Despite 97% of public comment being against the proposal (in a volume that has shut down the FCCs internet and phone message services, nationwide street protests, and opposition from every organization from the NRA to NARAL, the 3 Republicans on the 5-man board are all expected to vote for the measure. They've been fighting dirty from the beginning, trying to prevent any public comment at all. See the above articles. I'm really at a loss as to what they're doing. I almost have to beleive the conspiracy threories, as in the BusinessWeek article above or this interview with a former FCC commissioner. There are a lot of people who stand to gain a lot of money and a lot of power if they can control the nation's media. Those people already have a lot of money and power to work with. It's not that far-fetched that they could have taken control of the agency tasked to monitor them. I'm very worried. Who's going to break the next Watergate when Nixon owns the Washington Post?

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Just completed a move from Pennsylvania to California. Explains why I've been out a few days, right? Anyway, the world doesn't stop moving for me, as it turns out. First thing I see is that Ari Fleischer is resigning. Thank goodness. I won't miss hearing him speak. He's got to be the least credible government spokesman since Spiro T. Agnew (alright, so he wasn't a press secretary, but he certainly spokesmanized enough). We'll have to see whether the next guy proves any better.

Another good one is the DoD proposal regarding bunker-busting nukes. This one has just been woefully underreported. In fact, I can't find a CNN article on it. Here's one from UPI. I saw the press conference on the news today, but they kept cutting away to get commentary on the terrorist threat alert, which I really just don't care about. Anyway, during this press conference, Rumsfeld was very clear with the reporters on exactly how they would report this. "We want to study it. We don't want to build, or deploy, or anything else. We just want to study." When a reporter asked "why would you study it if you're not interested in pursuing it?", Rumsfeld burst out "I can't believe you just asked that!" I will admit that Rumsfeld and Myers laid out some good reasoning behind the proposal. For example, hitting a chemical or biological stockpile with convertional weapons would be disastrous, while a low-yield nuclear strike on such a bunker would effectively eliminate the threat. Nevertheless, doesn't the idea of using nuclear weapons make him just a bit nervous? As of right now, the department is banned from even thinking about tactical nuclear wepons by an act of congress. Rumsfeld wants a waiver. Let's hope someone realizes that leaving the age of nuclear buildup was a good thing, before these guys bring us back into it.

Monday, May 12, 2003

This has got to be a new record in filibustering. Most of the democrats in the Texas state assembly have disappeared and likely fled the state, which brings the assembly below quorum and effectively shuts it down. Tom Craddick, the Texas Speaker of the House, has ordered them arrested and brought back to legislate. They left a message with a state senator, protesting their treatment at the hands of the republican majority.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

Now this is getting interesting. After President Bush appointed Paul Bremer, a diplomat, as General Jay Garner's boss in Iraq, now he's recalled Garner altogether among Iraqi complaints that he was making no headway toward restoring basic services or the rule of law. Is this a sign of the State Department finally taking the lead in Iraqi reconstruction as opposed to Defense? Stay tuned (to the news, not me! What do I know?)

Saturday, May 10, 2003

Notes on chemistry - Boy, there sure is a lot of it to memorize before a final.

Friday, May 09, 2003

This page pretty much sums up why I'm not a Republican.
A quick opinion on the whole Dubya-Top Gun thing. I think it was a great photo op move for Bush. I think he's using a war and the deaths of thousands for his own political gain. I don't think that by flying out to the USS Abraham Lincoln he did anything illegal. I don't think he did anything egregiously unethical. It's just the kind of grandstanding politicians do all the time. And frankly, I'm sure the sailors on board felt really great about having the president there. Even if his motives were "impure", so to speak, it's always a good thing for the man on top to spend time with the people who are risking their lives for his ideals. So, in short, I think it's about time for the congressmen calling for investigations into the cost of the trip to find something more valuable to do with their time. This one just isn't worth fighting over.

If he starts using the footage in campaign ads with the slogan "George W. Bush - War Hero", then you can draw your guns.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

The Colorado Hiker definitely gets my vote for toughest guy ever. I'm talking Aron Ralston, the guy who cut off his own arm to free himself from a fallen boulder and then hiked 8 miles to safety. Man, what I'd give for his autograph.
Remember Granny D? The 80-some-odd year old woman who walked across the country to raise awareness of Campaign Finance Reform? Well, she's got a website at grannyd.com. She's given quite a few speeches (archived on the site), mainly for assorted liberal causes, which in my opinion are both reasonable and eloquent. I highly suggest taking a look.
New tax cut plan got Olympia Snowe on board. This one has a dividend tax cut, but only on the first $500 of dividends per person (although there are of course a few loopholes for the rich). I heartily agree. While I'm against any form of dividend tax cut, this one strikes me as about as fair as one can get. After all, as Snowe pointed out, the $500 cap is above what 84% of investors make. This bill would cost $400 Billion over 10 years, saving $150 Billion over the house's proposal and $350 Billion over Bush's original request. With Snowe's support, it might make it past Voinovich and his $350 Billion limit. Then, of course, it'll have to go to a conference... we're still seeing the beginning of this. I have to put my trust in the moderate Republicans to do the right thing.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

So now Mitch Daniels, head of the OMB, is resigning. He was the last member of Bush's original economic team, after the pres sacked Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and economic advisors Lawrence Lindsey and Glenn Hubbard, and SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt resigned (along with financial oversight board chair and accused corporate crook William Webster) after making a complete embarrassment of himself. The initial reports suggested Daniels was looking to make a run for Indiana governor. More recently, however, it's come out he's just been subpoenaed in a case involving IPALCO, a company on whose board he served. He also recommended shareholders vote for a merger, and sold all his stock for a few million just before it went through. The company's shares subsequently fell from $49.60 to 92 cents, and he rode merrily off into the sunset. Do you HAVE to either be a criminal or be best friends with Ken Lay to be in the Bush administration?
"Oh yeah, we forgot to tell you!" As it turns out, the Army Corps of Engineers didn't just non-competitively award Halliburton the contract to put out Iraq's oil well fires, it awarded them, well, everything. And when I say everything, I mean everything: "put out oil well fires and assess the facilities; clean up oil spills or other environmental dangers at the sites; repair or reconstruct damaged infrastructure; operate facilities and distribute products." In other words, they get to run the entire Iraqi oil industry. Total cost? "No set time limit and no dollar limit." Current estimate is $7 Billion. Graftocracy in action, folks!

Monday, May 05, 2003

This really caught my eye. It's a page of letters to the editor regarding a recent Salon.com review of Enough by Bill McKibben. In very short summary, the book is a warning about the dangers of human genetic engineering, and the review is cool to it, accepting the validity of its premise while pointing out a number of flaws in its execution. The reason the reader responses caught my eye was their invariable outright rejectection of the book's message. Every single letter they printed either claimed that "perfection" through genetic engineering was the destiny of mankind and something only a fool would oppose, or that the dilemmas posed are simply nothing we need to worry about right now. Personally, I have not formulated an opinion on the issue, but I do recognize it as one of utmost importance. Perhaps, as one reader claims, "humanity will not survive as awareness takes control of genetics away from sexual breeding. But this will be a totally natural, completely normal, and itself just another step in the evolution of the universe." But I, for one, am not prepared to make that admission without thinking very long and very hard and listening very carefully to every possible viewpoint. If humanity is to be extinguished by human hands, at least we ought to talk about it first. Right?

...Right??

Saturday, May 03, 2003

What if they held a debate and nobody came? Tonight was the first Democratic presidential debate, and I couldn't find it anywhere. ABC, who sponsored it, wasn't showing it. It wasn't on C-SPAN. Wasn't on ABC radio, or NPR. It just wasn't on. Geez. My roommate drew the obvious conclusion: "Maybe it's a sign. The world is telling you to go out and get drunk." Yep, I'm of a nearly-extinct breed, the guy who'd rather learn something than have mindless fun. I thought the school I picked was one of the world's few remaining preserves for my kind, but I'm beginning to think those reservations were quietly closed down long ago.

Friday, May 02, 2003

This would make a great celebrity deathmatch: Rupert Murdoch vs Ted Turner. Of course, it'd be even better on Celebrity Boxing, but it'd probably be hard to get them on there...
Oy. I've been majorly sick. I think I finally came over the hump of it today, but who knows... Tonight kicks off haverfest, to days of drunken revelry. It figures I'd be in no partying shape come this time of year, when I was healthy through the rest of it. But honestly, I don't much like drunken revelry. Like holidays, it puts me in a bad mood. Maybe I'm just a sourball. I'm in no position to psychoanalyze myself, but I know my own happiness is often inversely proportional to how happy I'm told I ought to be.

In other news, the kind I'm told I ought to be ignoring, a federal court struck down most of campaign finance reform. This one's going straight to the Supreme Court. I'm worried that this absolutely critical law will be struck down at the highest level on legitimate 1st Amendment concerns. Legitimate, but wrong.