/* Google Analytics Code asynchronous */

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

More Banana Peels for Sullivan's Clinton "Analysis"


... her Cheney-like refusal to allow any public daylight into her healthcare task force - AS
How far does one have to reach to come up with this stuff?

I'm not even 100% behind Hillary, yet I can see a smear campaign when one comes. (Just for reference, Clinton-42 is well within the law, but it is Cheney who has said he is outside it. See letter from Archives to Cheney's enabler, David S. Addington.)

Besides, I was very impressed with Hillary's command of the issues, during Lance Armstrong's Cancer Forum.

Where was Obama? Any of the Republicans? NO where ...

Flipping Chris Matthews out with the declaration of a new 'war on cancer' (cut off at the beginning of the clip, but still good).

Barack Obama on Social Security "Realism"

AS complains that no one left of him is willing to give the straight dope on social security.

Here's the straight dope, in 40 words or less (;-0):

How odd it isn't that AS doesn't seem to blame the Right for creating the kind of playing field that isn't conducive to "realistic discourse". This, after the guy he opposed, Al Gore, spoke so forcefully and eloquently on the topic and the guy he supported ditched (and derided) the congressional "pay-go" rules in favor of the GOP's pay-for-majority rules.
Right now, the US government takes in more on social security than it spends on social security, because of demographics, almost exclusively, but not completely.

Rather than put the excess money "aside" (i.e. "lock box" it, or technically pay off the Reagan era tax-cut debt, mostly), the undisciplined U.S. Ruling Class spends the excess and then some, so that we have a 'unified budget' deficit every year.

As part of this debt-spend two-step, the government passes an "I.O.U." to itself, where "itself" is called a "Trust Fund" (that's right, the Trust Fund doesn't hold any 'money', like normal Trust Funds, it just holds I.O.U.'s, sometimes thought of as inter-generational I.O.U.'s, in place of assets).

The key dates in Social Security.

Projected OASDI tax income will begin to fall short of outlays in 2017, and will be sufficient to finance only 75 percent of scheduled annual benefits in 2041, when the combined OASDI Trust Fund is projected to be exhausted.-2007 Report

In 2017, or thereabouts depending on economic growth (including immigrant supported growth in the labor supply), there is no longer an excess. The U.S. Government will have to actually raising cash to pay its bills, rather than having an excess "left over" (using debt issuance, most likely, but maybe they will cut spending).

That will bite in the financial markets. There will be a lead-up to that date, as the excess gradually shrinks to zero, then goes negative.

In 2041, technically or "actuarially", the program is "insolvent", in the sense that the Trust Fund doesn't have any more I.O.U's to collect on, so that the government would have to 'do something'.

Almost everyone serious is agreed that social security can be 'fixed' without serious dislocation. Everyone is also agreed that action sooner rather than later is, (a), easier, (b), more effective, and (c), the right thing to do.

Most progressives think that the Right, most recently, tried to scare everyone that there was a "crisis" in social security that required immediate privatization.

How odd it isn't that AS doesn't seem to blame the Right for creating the kind of playing field that isn't conducive to "realistic discourse". This, after the guy he opposed, Al Gore, spoke so forcefully and eloquently on the topic and the guy he supported ditched (and derided) the congressional "pay-go" rules in favor of the GOP's pay-for-majority rules.

Among the things you never hear from the Right:
  • Asking corporations to "design" jobs, specifically for seniors so that those who wish to continue to work, can do so with their unique needs met.
  • Improving economic growth by increasing legal immigration rates over the next 15 years.

The projections for OASI, or "Social Security".

Receipts-greater-than-payments peaks near 2017. However, the rate of change slows nearer to 2011, which is when it will slowly start to have a "bite" on the budget and financial markets, possibly, depending on the fiscal balance at the time.


Here is one estimate of why the "bite" from even the projected imbalances in the program are not as alarming as Obama suggested (see table). These amounts are small enough to suggest that Hillary is "right", that over the medium term, the picture for social security is one that probably could be handled by fiscal discipline.

In the worst case, the debt markets could handle an additional $10-15 billion a year, which is 0.01% of the current economy. I think even Greenspan was forced to admit this in open session, at one point, as best I recall.

Incremental funds required each year to "settle" social security payments, both in projected dollars and in 2007 dollars:

($ billions)
2010 -2 -2
2011 -1 -1
2012 -9 -7
2013 -14 -10
2014 -18 -12
2015 -19 -12
2016 -21 -13
2020 -28 -14
2025 -36 -14
2030 -44 -13
2035 -43 -10
2040 -37 -6
2045 -39 -5

OnLine Demand Growth

Did I read that right? BBC is up past 1,000 million page views per month.

I wish I knew what a "page view" is, technically speaking; but it seems an astonishingly high number.

A definite "Brezhnevization" of politics

Putin - Master of the Universe:

We are seeing a definite "Brezhnevization" of politics. This became obvious after United Russia's recent congress and President Vladimir Putin's elaborate 55th birthday celebration. This phenomenon continues to excite the media and the public. Radio stations Ekho Moskvy and Radio Svoboda have repeatedly commented upon state television's sycophantic coverage of Putin. They continue to receive calls from listeners disturbed by the praises on television that have clearly gone beyond all reasonable boundaries.

Sullivan's Slippery Clinton Crusades

She also lost that new-Clinton benign smile, that newly poll-tested glow. Instead we got an occasionally droning, lecturing, and unrelenting stream of tight-faced opportunism. -AS

See? All these people who say with a two-face that they want all the calculating and posturing to stop.

As soon as it may have, they are ready with a skewer. [Completely two-faced, I might add, if one considers that queen of studied "drone" and certainly of "lecture", Maggie Thatcher ... update: even, "unsmiling baroness" ]

It's like the Clinton "cackle". I didn't object to her laugh. I thought it was genuine. It showed exactly when/where she thought someone was spewing up a easily recognizable hypocrisy or spin, which she usually was able to spell out as to why.

But, the freakshow didn't like a 'knowing laugh' at the comedy of it all, a "cackle".

Now, the freakshow doesn't like her ... lack of a smile.

If nothing else, "Give 'em hell, Hill!", I say.

Right-wing Economists Howl into the Night


Check it out - someone claims to have made a 60 mpg car and appears to have the proof (via KOS).

These claims are not new, so one has to have a fair amount of skepticism. Still ...

Regulation as something that spurs innovation?

That will have right-wing economists howling at the moon!

Goulish: Fenway's Child

Halloween children of the corn ...

Secret War: "Immunity" Shield

Free Image Hosting at allyoucanupload.com

John Rockerfeller attempts to justify immunity for telcos.

He fails to explain why these programs "remain highly classified". We know we're being watched, so what gives?


After having rejected indemnification and all other approaches, one of his premises is, "The fact is, private industry must remain an essential partner in law enforcement and national security. We face an enemy that uses every tool and technology of 21st-century life, and we must do the same".

Well, if the government is so convinced of its case, including the effectiveness of its programs, and there is a circumspect telco who is not, the companies can be made to comply through the courts. That seems at least a good way to go about 'making the case' as is legislators selling off liberties for security in private.

The idea that lawsuits are 'unfair and unwise' is off the mark. So often, it is a right of action that keeps processes having the right incentives, that provides checks to abuse. On the other hand, immunity, as described, seems to put the possibility of redress of abuse into the realm of remote. How do you make a case that the AG abused authority, when you have no access to (a) his deliberations or (b) what was actually done on his approval?

No, this debate isn't over yet, I don't think.


At the heart of it, someone has to define what the role of courts is in the 'secret war'. We've had military commissions that have cut them out, except on appeal (limited mostly to procedural matters?). Now we are supposed limit the courts and to trust the AG with whatever this means?:

The bill authorizes case-by-case review in the courts only when the attorney general certifies that a company's actions were based on assurances of legality, and the court is specifically required to determine whether the attorney general abused his discretion before immunity can be granted.

You can't make this stuff up

Another effort to put a new sheepskin on ... "Heroic Conservatism" by Edith Hamilton.

Drive What You Eat

Martin Wolf kicks off the economics debate on biofuels (fossil fuels are, what, long-dead bio-fuels?), linking this study.

LA Times continues its series with this take-down of the false hope for Corn-in-America:

Then there are the environmental effects. Corn is a very water- and chemical-intensive crop. Ordinarily, farmers rotate crops annually to avoid soil exhaustion, but high corn prices encourage them to plant corn in the same fields year after year. The only way to make this work is to pour on more fertilizers, which seep into waterways and create algae blooms that suck up all the oxygen and kill everything else. Two "dead zones" caused by chemical fertilizers in the Gulf of Mexico are already the size of Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island combined. Meanwhile, herbicides used in cornfields seep into groundwater supplies and raise risks of cancer and birth defects.

Further, there's only so much farmland to go around. To meet the Senate's 2022 renewable-fuels mandate of 36 billion gallons using corn would take 96 million acres. Last year, the entire corn crop, most of which went to food, was grown on 80 million acres. The only source of unused farmland is 37 million acres in the federal Conservation Reserve Program, under which the government rents cropland from farmers for wetlands and wildlife conservation. Farming this land would destroy critically endangered Midwest wetlands and savannas and contribute to soil erosion, contaminated water and deadly algae blooms.

The "Scholarship" of Justice Thomas

Tom Miles and Cass Sunstein run the numbers on "judicial activism" at SCOTUS:

At the very least, it is impressive to see that the votes of Kennedy, nominated by President Reagan, show no political bias at all -- and that Breyer, nominated by President Clinton, has been the champion of modesty and restraint.

Healthy Halloween

Dana Summers
Orlando Sentinel

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Dem Debate Redux


Joe Biden
did the right thing, bringing it to the Republicans. He almost pulled a Jack Palance (who obliterated actor Bill Kristol one evening) on Rudy Giuliani, saying that his experience was bunk ("a noun, a verb, and 9/11").

I was deeply disappointed in the handling of the nuclear non-proliferation questions, especially from the Russert and Williams.

It is not what we will do unilaterally - these bogus 'red line' issues for a President. It's what we can get others to ask us to do.
Used to be that the media pundits would look to how a candidate managed a campaign to see what kind of skills they had. Clearly, Clinton is running the best campaign in the country right now. What's more, I cannot see how "meeting a payroll" is the qualification for measuring how to deal geopolitics ... It's a shame to see "the media" buy into the Republican line on that.

All the rest went to the non-frontrunners.

Kucinich deserves big kudos for taking the media to task on pressing the Iranian questions in a way conducive to pushing war forward.

Richardson showed that he has the ability to abstract in ways that are valuable, when he took a step back and said, "This isn't bash Hillary night", basically.

Senator Dodd is looking more like the kind of Senator you'd like to win over a Governor - one who knows the legislative history in a way that can be most effective. He seems to be finding a 'Presidential Voice', slowly, rather than that hopelessly deferential stuff that gets ingrained by Senate rules. Strong on energy, strong on education.

Obama looked abstract. He continually abstracts about policies and process. That's fine, but we know he can do this already. We need to see an ability to connect in other ways. (Oh, man, don't think I didn't catch that finger pointing with the right hand at Hillary, complete with ever so slight pivot, or Edwards' double hand 'finger point', that amounted to the same thing.)

I wish I could issue a 'team vote'. It's clear that, as a group, they each have distinct strengths, with no one clearly 'superior'. I like Edwards' confrontational style - he'd make a great majority leader in the Senate - and Kucinich's willingness to go a step farther.

I was deeply disappointed in the handling of the nuclear non-proliferation questions, especially from Russert and Williams. It is not what we will do - these bogus 'red line' issues for a President. It's what we can get others to ask us to do. It's what the Congress decides, too, right?


Mozart's great "Ave Verum Corpus".

Leonard Bernstein, 1990

Two other versions:

Probably my favorite of the three (listen to how the sopranos lead and shape the entire phrase with balance through the great crescendo of the 'mortis examine'):

Mozart's final completed sacred work was written on 17 June 1791, for the feast of Corpus Christi at the request of Anton Stoll, choirmaster at Baden where Mozart was visiting with his wife Constanze.

Salve, verdadero cuerpo,
nacido de María Virgen,
que fue inmolado en la cruz
por los hombres,
cuyo lado perforado manó sangre y agua,
dejanos degustarte
en el trance de la muerte.

Ave verum corpus, natum
De Maria Virgine,
Vere passum, immolatum
In cruce pro homine,
Cuius latus perforatum
Unda fluxit et sanguine,
Esto nobis praegustatum
In mortis examine.

Hail the true body, born
of the Virgin Mary:
You who truly suffered and were sacrificed
on the cross for the sake of man.
From whose pierced flank
flowed water and blood:
Be a foretaste for us
in the trial of death.

Roger Ailes Can Sink No Lower ...


The disgusting national disgrace called "FOX News" continues.

This time they are accused not of jeopardizing national security, but of breaking a court order on the blackmail of a British Royal.

Check it out in the Mail.

Bullet Through Chalk

[ed. note: there is no metaphysical significance to this.]


photos: Jeff Lieberman

"Happy Gays" are Mad at Obama

Sold down the river ... :-0

For the Record

Romney's Bain Capital backstory.

Live quote:

Only in America do audiences not burst out laughing when a guy worth $250 million gets up onstage and says he and his CEO buddies spend their spare time racking their brains to find ways to help people. Indeed, when you talk to people at Romney's events, they love to parrot what he has just told them about his fabled business background. "He strongly supports the private sector to solve our problems," gushes Terry Dussault of Merrimack. "That's very important to me."

The perception of Romney as a successful businessman who has made a vast fortune is seductive enough that it works for most audiences on the Republican campaign trail, even if they don't really understand how exactly he made all that money. But if Romney makes it through the nomination process to face the Democrats, they will be sure to turn his career into a referendum on modern business practices.

"There is no possible way I can justify your continued employment with the Trust ..."

Maggie Smith is a favorite. One of the few actors for whom it is no struggle to understand every word - near perfect delivery, in that respect.

Here she is in Lettuce and Lovage.

I thought she was inimitable in Gosford Park, just all the way through. Just a small part, rendered marvelously memorable.

One of those youTuber "tributes", nicely done:

Spying at $53 Billion

Return on investment = ???

After the post-9/11 emergency spying supplemental appropriation, which I think was in the range of $10-20 billion, we now know what the run-rate is, only after a recent law.

Just for perspective, that amount is four times the budget of the State Department, twice the size of the entire Federal Justice budget, and about the same as the entire Department of Homeland Security. Ten times the size of the National Science Foundation ...

The recent DNI has even begged off giving out unclassified parts of NIEs.

Turkey Introduces Resolution Condemning Waterboarding ...

Wouldn't that be tit-for-tat, eh? (Of course, they have a terrible reputation on "rights", but still ...).

AS is very upset that our 'national lie' will continue under Bush, because there isn't stomach for the kind of challenge that would be required to 'do something' while Bush is President, sadly. (I just knew this was the case, when the oversight committees didn't let fly the subpoenas on torture in January).


In some ways, it might be better to look into the matters after he leaves office, when he no longer has the power of the Presidency to abuse on his behalf

As a general proposition, beware of conservatives who come with a lecture about "realities", just before they ask you to do something unconscionable and excuse it, I say.
(pardons, privileged, etc.) ... and hopefully has no prospect of being pardoned himself.

Isn't it kind of salt in the wounds that the State Department gave immunity to the Blackwater people being investigated right away?


It brings up a whole new reason to end all deployments. The institutions to manage action have failed us.

You know it is time to stop at almost any cost when the Wall Street Journal is willing to toss the rule of law in favor of ... whatever it is they are in favor of, by writing something as bizarrely construed as this:

At least Mr. McCain is honest about the realities of the war on terror, in which surveillance and interrogation are two essential tools to prevent future attacks.

pffft. As a general proposition, beware of conservatives who come with a lecture about "realities", just before they ask you to do something unconscionable and excuse or like it, I say.

See, An Enemy Soooo Bad, We Need Torture - NOT!

More here, too, Conservatives Not Fit for Duty on National Security Matters

Real Effective Exchange Rate

One day, you wake up and find that you aren't 50% of the world economy; and, when you go into recession, the rest of the world doesn't follow.

Then, looking at your high debt loads, xenophobic immigration attitudes, war-mongering military spending, yawning structural trade gap, tax cutting in the face of adverse demographic changes that promise to stress the fiscal balance, you gulp and say, "We're so f----d", as your currency falls off the cliff and import goods inflation ... accelerates.

There is probably a 50% chance that the next President will start with a sluggish economy, if not worse.

Free Image Hosting at allyoucanupload.com

This Week In Astronomy

High altitude ballooning from private citizens.

hummm.... Dirka Dirka Mohammad Jihad!

Andrew Sullivan's Bogus Fascination with Genetics

In The Biology Of Sexual Orientation, AS writes:

Some intriguing new research in worms ..

Why 'intriguing'? The abstract says, ...

"We cannot say what this means for human sexual orientation ..."

Adding Turkey to List of GOP-Bush Foreign Policy Failures

Coupled with the mess in South America, including the failed policy on Cuba, Turkey joins the club. Andrew has the dope - don't miss it.

Not Ready to Harvest the Winter Wheat, Yet, Here

AS on the case for and against for both Hillary and Barack:

We cannot trust her. We can still trust him.

It's hard to figure out who "we" is, after Barack so flubbed it by willingly sharing the spotlight with anti-gay bozos. A better man might have found a way out of the mess that was created by him and his.

The problem with Hillary isn't "phoney", try as one may to make it stick, again, again, and again. It didn't work in the early stages, it's not going to work now.

Contrary to "looking harder" at these two, it seems an occasion to have a look at the others in the field.

Finding Non-Gay Transcendences

... listening to the transcendent message of the Gospels, which know no political party, and teach us to renounce earthly power, rather than to seize it. -AS
hummm... interesting that. It would appear that AS is ready to leave off his Catholicism, which most decidedly includes moving in the earthly realms, not being passive participants.

Global Nuclear Power

AS is on topic, but with the wrong conclusions.

First, the IAEA is already on top of the issue of global nuclear power. Institutionalizing something like the "Russian solution" that has been proposed for Iran is in order. Have you heard anyone the Administration set in motion the steps that need to be taken to get that done, however?

Iran is certainly very different than Pakistan. However, "the problem" is just as much with laxity among our "friends", namely India.

Finally, the far-Right's approach to non-proliferation, in which we pick and choose who is "allowed", is highly destabilizing. NO more are allowed. That is why so many nations have signed the non-proliferation treaty.

Farve for 82 yard pass

Monday night football lives on, with an 82-yard beauty to Greg Jennings from Brett to win in over time.

{youTube if I find it}

It's Now Safe to Move About the Country

However, "The Captain" requests that you remain ... er, "seated", so that He can better protect you ...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Don't look here, for your own benefit, please.

blogger tracks the secret war, the war of information:

So let's see. We have Dick Cheney refusing to allow the information that refutes his warmongering to be declassified. We have these curious stories that both clash and happen to coincide with some of John Bolton's earlier warmongering. And we have Israel's and the US' choice to bomb this site rather than allow the IAEA to inspect it and tell us what it really was.

Also from ACW, the IAEA sounds a lot less sure this is a nuclear reactor than all the people leaking to glued-to-Judy's-hip William Broad.

AP’s George Jahn, by the way, reports that the IAEA is now looking at commerical imagery but hasn’t seen anything that screams nuclear reactor

Overheard on the Internets



something called
-Portland Indy Media, ''I NEED 3 VOLUNTEERS: YOU, YOU AND YOU!''

T&A with Neil Cavuto

Larry Flynt reportedly in preparation to undress another sex scandal, as revealed to Fox Business Appreciation Channel:

War Statistics

ThinkProgress has the scoop on Brooke's reading of the President's body language, but I also heard this:

"First of all, you know, we look at the faces of the dead at the end of the programs here, 70 percent of those people are killed indirectly or directly from Iranian influence. "

Now, that's simply an amazing statistic to just pull out of your a--, undocumented.

It fits with what is going on in Bill Kristol land, however.

In the long line of excuses why we cannot finish and end the endless war, the recent one is "Iran", supplanting Muqtada al-Sadr, who was Yester-Weekly Standard enemy number one, just until he wasn't, any longer.


If you watch closely, the DoD's releases are using "extremist" more and more frequently, a trend picked up on here during the President's Petreaus Week speech (you remember the one in which he lied to the American public about troops already slated to come home by Christmas).

In this last iteration, the war can go on forever, since there will be no end to extremists, one might imagine.

Government Ethics Higher than Private Sector

How is it that some FEMA officials resign for doing something that FOX editors do everyday, namely, make sh-t up?

On the weekend, I heard some FOX commentator (one of their leggy ones) say that Columbia University welcomed Ahmadi-Nejad.

That's before we get to the recent ClearChannel participation in Rush's odious auction.

Rage Against the Machine

Years of being comfortable running defense appear to have withered the "Democratic Machine", so much that they are running scared on a far range of issues in which the GOP mouthpiece, including 'hate radio', has been successful moving opinion.

Latest casualty, "Dream".

On the other hand, they've done far, far more than the do-nothing 109th Congress, that's for sure.

Can you win in the trenches and lose the war? I dunno.

The Friendly Ghost of Gerald Ford

Tell it when I'm dead.


Are we allowed to speak ill of the dead if they wait to tell "it"?

Red Sox Get Lucky

You know, I'm really getting tired of this American League streak.

After having been beaten regularly during the season by the Rockies, luck smiled on the Red Sox.

Hopefully, the earth will have changed its polarity before it happens again.

L'affair Beauchamp, ... Ceci n'est pas ... joile.


L'affair Beauchamp appears to go on and on. News from TPM Horse's Mouth.

Monday a.m. Roundup

For Hilliary, AS writes, "Feel the fakeness: " But, you know, this level of 'message control' and staging is precisely what is required these days, arguably, in order to stay above the "freak show" that we all allow in American politics.

AS again uses a mouthpiece to ask, "What is the truth about racial differences?". Yet, despite the protests from the Right that this is what they are on about, we know that is not the question they are purporting to ask and answer. The evidence of such is overwhelming, IMHO. Can we ask, "What is the real truth about the Holocaust?". See what I mean.

In Fleeing Universal Care, AS gives up a textbook case of letting ideology influence your polemic/research, despite being of no party or clique. I wish he'd publish also the numbers of people "fleeing" the U.S. healthcare system for treatment (and I do mean real treatment, not those forced out of the system).

Apparently Conservative Souls like anarchy or at least have an "ideal of man" that is more bold than what they decry of "liberals", that man is so beneficent that he doesn't need governors and would live without offense in anarchy: "The intervention of a government is like that of a loud telephone ringing in the middle of an engrossing dinner conversation. It is inherently offensive."

No, the starting point of Conservatism, if there is just one, is that some, if not all, men are bad or potentially bad and therefore all of us need strong, intrusive Government. In our times, absolute government. Liberals tend to weigh that equation differently.

AS asks, "Che's hair auctioned. Not making this up. Next up: Hitler's fingernail clippings?"

No, but Rasputin's Knob is fast in the fray. (No, I'm not making this up either).

AS writes, "There are, to me, three core issues in this election: the Constitution, the war and the environment. All three are urgent, and the need for deep, radical change overwhelming."

Off the top of my head, I'd say that the problem with the Constitution is a problem with the Congress, who ceded authority/authorities and the public who let them. (Heck, we even had a Democrat who cast a vote with the Republicans to defeat by one vote the measure to defund the VP's office until he complied with standing order of the Executive).

"The war" ... I'm not sure either party has articulated how to fight global terrorism in a new way in the context of a new foreign policy. So, the danger is more of the same, from whomever is elected, because "losing" is not an option.

It's going to take a long time to turn the battleship on the environment. The Japanese have been planning their energy needs for a long time to get where they are, for instance. Of course, that involved government, which "free-market Conservatives" deplore.

Healthcare (The fight for this generation) and the fiscal soundness of the public safety net just doesn't make AS's radar screen. He just doesn't "get it", I guess. What else is one to conclude? That he's for hobbling together more of the same?

The fine art of the mustache: Resources


Wikistashenberdia allows you to properly play a game of name that 'stache or ("Mo", as they apparently say down under).

Check it out.

Something called a "ball-buffer", even - no doubt an obscure billiards reference. Pandering pogonologists will be delighted.

Meanwhile, a prodigious blog, "Mustaches of the Nineteenth Century" has been at it for a long while now.

Of note:

In fact, a man without a mustache is no longer a man. I do not care much for a beard; it almost always makes a man look untidy. But a mustache, oh, a mustache is indispensable to a manly face. .. I have thought over the matter a great deal but hardly dare to write my thoughts. Words look so different on paper and the subject is so difficult, so delicate, so dangerous that it requires infinite skill to tackle it.

-Mr. spare-no-details, Guy de Maupassant

Comes complete with a glossary, including something called "beardism", i.e. "The vile preference of raggedy beards over the clean and sublime mustache."

Last, a goochie-goochie-coo from a blogger who asks, "Who are the men who look like Graham Gooch?", and comes up with this, most recently, a.k.a. Nigell Mansell:

My Goochalike vote? It has to go to 'stach-from-the-past, Mark Spitz, posing here before it was fashionable to do so as such:

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Hard Cases

Dale is up with another of his no-responses allowed epistles.

Why does it seem that when gay conservatives sit down to write pieces that amount to gay sociology, they almost invariably seem to be on a different planet?

  • 1. How does a small group of elites somehow control 300 organizations? Seriously. It's hard enough to get six people in a room to agree on gay rights strategy, yet we are supposed to believe that "United ENDA" is part of a vast elitist control?
  • 2. All these people letting "GLB" slide off their tongue, as if it is was nothing.

    I wonder if Dale could outline just how "B" is like unto "G" and or "L"? Even a grade school effort would be welcome.

    Isn't it just a little self-serving to draw a line just wherever it suits you?
  • Last, SM at the same forum, just noticed that lesbians are ahead on the curve, compared to gay men. Should we drop gay men from ENDA, on Dale's calculous? The President hasn't refused to veto them...

Just the Numbers: Week 43

The weekly numbers are up at sister blogologalog.

A peek at the contracts on the electoral college. At lot of states 'in the middle'.

StateDEMREPChng Wk. Dem/RepBid-Ask. Dem/RepElec. Vote
Rhode Island908-2/0n.m./25%4
New York909-2/13%/11%31
New Jersey81.1151/-2.56%/33%15
New Hampshire7020-2.5/27%/50%4
New Mexico5040-1/0.520%/25%5
West Virginia2570-10/520%/10%5
North Carolina18801/-1.511%/6%15
North Dakota590-5/0100%/n.m.3
South Dakota585-10/0200%/12%3
South Carolina2900/0400%/n.m.8

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Matins: Chanting for Burma

Canadian monks, chanting at the time of the open repression in Burma:

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday Vespers: O Vos Omnes

Whether you find the Brokeback theme a distraction or not, it's one of the better recordings on youTube.

The youTubester writes:

I have set these clips from the movie Brokeback Mountain to the song "O Vos Omnes," which was composed by Tomás Luis de Victoria. Victoria's setting of "O Vos Omnes" is of the greatest choral masterpieces of the Renaissance, indeed of all Western music. The text itself, taken from Lamentations 1:12 is one of the most beautiful and moving Latin sacred texts:

O vos omnes qui transitis per viam,
attendite, et videte,
si est dolor similis sicut dolor meus.
Attendite, universi populi,
et videte dolorem meum,
si est dolor similis sicut dolor meus.

Here is the translation:

Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?
Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow.
Behold, all ye people of this earth,
to see if there be any sorrow
like unto mine.

P4P ... is not Me

Stark account of pay for treatment, instead of pay for wellness, from a 2006 award winning submission:

No one who reads the chart will know of my struggle [as the attending physician]. Not the billing department, not my boss, and I doubt even Mr. Nickels understood the nuances of our interaction. Anyone who reads the chart will see that I was compliant with the established practice guidelines: i.e., I practiced "good medicine." But I know differently—and now you do, too.

Should I start statins on the drooling demented to lower their LDL? Should I preach to paranoid schizophrenics that they must quit smoking? Doing so might help ease my burdens—will it ease theirs? Without a financial incentive, I treated practice guidelines as guidelines, and I treated patients as patients. With financial incentives, will the guidelines become my goal? Will I lose patience for patients who are just a means to my means?

Tenor Russell Watson Comes Through Brain Surgery

Watson has made it through a second round / bout of surgery.

English bloke trying to be ... Italian suave!:

Now for something serious. Russell's song, "Nella Fantasia"

Screw Lou Dobbs Show - Hug a Mexican

Medical Cost of "GWOT" Revisted

The bottomline is that the data are crap and few in the Executive appear actively trying to find out. There is a LOT more work to be done here to get good estimates and an accurate picture.

The CBO is out with new, if not the very first, government estimates (.pdf) of the on-going cost of medical treatment, related principally to OIF and OEF.

Their estimates are an order of magnitude lower than the low estimate from Linda Bilme's cost-based approach. (They do not adopt, however, the economic-cost-of-a-life approach). I've long been suspicious of Bilme's estimates (and only adopted the lowest one for use the in tables here), but there was no way to get data sufficient to a better estimate.


Neither researcher really lays out all their assumptions in a model format, making life especially difficult for those trying to judge soundness.

  • Unique Deployments: The CBO has a higher number of "unqiue troops" deployed than does Blimes' work, coming in at 1.4 million so far (surprisingly not counted to the man, however, as of December 2006). Blimes' low estimate was 1.4 million by 2010. So far, 690K have become "eligible for VA benefits", according to the CBO. It's not clear whether in-theater treatment, therefore, counts in the CBO's overall estimates (it may simply be added in with the other theater costs).
  • Claim Rate: The CBO has a lower claims rate ("sought care" or "seen by the VA"), at 33%, than Blimes, who guessed 44% (Blimes' net is at 38%, if you consider her assumption of an 87% approval rate for those who filed a claim). The CBO is restricted to VA claims, however. The unknown number of private-insurance claims makes the actual claim rate unknown. The ambiguity of what is meant by "seeking care" in the CBO terminology makes comparison of assumptions impossible.
  • High Cost Care: The CBO have slashed the average cost estimates for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), by cutting both the incident rate for TBI (to 8% from 20%) and limiting high expenses to just two-thirds of cases that are considered severe TBI (lengthy/costly) rather than mild (short/less costly).
  • Low Post-theater Hospital Utilization: the run-rates from the VA that the CBO adopts show just 3% of wounded and seeking care from the VA were hospitalized once. The out-patient nature of the treatment suggests a lower average claim cost, but it is not possible to compare these among estimates at the level of detail provided by either researcher.
  • Disability and survivors compensation: The CBO offers a total cash amount paid by the VA for both benefits in 2007, but doesn't break it down into a standardized estimate (per person), so it is impossible to compare with other assessments. Using a "run-rate" from 2007 payments (which may or may not be distorted - no detail is given), the long-term estimates come down by an order of magnitude, to discounted figures in the range of $8-$10 billion.


The CBO estimates that 229,000 OIF/OEF patients have been seen by the VA. That's circa 57,000 per year, if spread out evenly. Estimates for the wounded are considerably lower. Using DoD data, the CBO reports at most 32,000 requiring medical attention of any kind in total (not per year), with maybe just 10,000 not returned to duty from "in action" causes and fewer still with serious injury (circa 7,000).

Some of CBO statistics, therefore, look silly: "Of the total 229,000 OIF/OEF patients seen by the VA, 3 percent (fewer than 8,000) have been hospitalized in a VA facility at least once since 2002." Wouldn't it make more sense to express the hospitalized as a percentage of those wounded in theater or in action, i.e. compare some amount of the 8K with the 10K wounded in action? The rest of those seeking treatment ought to be compared to the general population of veterans, right?

Here's another. The VA reports an average cost, in 2006, per OIF/OEF patient of $2,610, supposedly lower than the system-wide average, because of the high incidence of out-patient treatment (mental health or otherwise, it's not specified). Taking 229,000 by the average cost of $2,610, gives a total cost for all years of $598 million. Yet, the VA is reported to be asking for circa $700 million per year, ongoing, for OIF/OEF costs. Something isn't adding up ...

More work, needed.

From the Dole-Shalala group:

2,200,000Number of deployments
1,500,000Number of service members deployed
37,851Air evacuated for illness or injuries [20/day on my calcs from 10/7/2001 start of OEF]
28,000Wounded in action
23,270Treated and returned to duty within 72 hours
3,082Seriously injured (TSGLI recipients)7
2,726Traumatic Brain Injuries
598Serious burns
94Spinal cord injuries

Awash in Riches

$1.6 Trillion or so to oil exporters as part of general rise in price of oil, "GWOT"-related and otherwise.

(at sister blog, Lube Job)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Between Triangulation and Audacious-in-Theory


Glenn Greenwald has had a flurry of great guest posts. One that caught my eye sums up my current frustrations with Democratic politics:

Barack Obama, last night:
Senator Obama has serious concerns about many provisions in this bill . . . He is hopeful that this bill can be improved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. But if the bill comes to the Senate floor in its current form, he would support a filibuster of it.
Hillary Clinton, last night:
I am troubled by the concerns that have been raised by the recent legislation reported out of the Intelligence Committee. I haven't seen it so I can't express an opinion about it. . . . As matters stand now, I could not support it and I would support a filibuster absent additional information coming forward that would convince me differently.
Chris Dodd, yesterday:
You don't decide to keep to something in a bill that's dreadfully wrong because the president threatens a veto. If it's dreadfully wrong, as this is in my view, to provide retroactive immunity, here, then you strip it out of the bill, and do everything you can to achieve that. The President vetoes it, you send it back that way again. You don't put, the constitution should not be monkeyed around with because you're afraid of a veto. That's the worst thing you could do, when it comes to that document.

That all speaks -- loudly and clearly -- for itself.

By the way, Dodd and Obama are on track with Cuba, and Clinton is triangulating. I'm glad Bush is 'doing something', even if it is not the engagement that is required; because it seemed to me that Castro might go by, without ne're a word from stuck-in-a-rut Republicans.

Couldn't we make the case that, once he's gone, the battle-of-wills with this one man who has so angered so many can finally mutate into a ... policy that might, like, actually DO something?

Mukasey On My Mind


(paraphrase) "Yes, I am a New York judge. As a judge, I've seen a lot of cross-examinations. It's not just the question that is before you, it's the next one and the others down the line."

So, what were the 'next questions' that the good judge didn't want to answer?

Maybe it went beyond just spelling out a list of will-dos in open session.

Perhaps, if he said, "Yes" to waterboarding-as-torture, then when he 'discovers' as AG that waterboarding occurred, he'd have to 'do something' to avoid being ... an accessory?

As it is, he can now safely 'assume the position' and become part of the National Lie, knowing but winking, as it were.

Such is the politics of power, I guess. I hope I'm wrong about that conjecture, by the way. I could be.

Circumsized Circumspection

AS writes:

My original concern with torture was moral and sprang from Abu Ghraib. It never occurred to me that the US would be doing it before. Poring over all the data, it became simply impossible to deny that Abu Ghraib was not an exception to the rule, but a horrible, predictable result of an existing torture policy that spread beyond the limits Cheney and Rumsfeld wanted.

See, this lack of circumspection is something that is not fathomable to me, except as a flaw, even a Conservative flaw. To me, it's a pitiably naive belief ... or worse.

What do you think it means to unleash the CIA, when done by a President who jettisoned the language of bringing terrorists to justice, the longstanding policy of all civilized nations, with aplomb and flair? If we're willing to let people "meet another kind of justice", as I recall the phrase the President used in a SOTU address, why on earth would anyone believe that torture was ... beyond them?

True, there were some mixed signals, with the President talking calmly about the blood-lust in the air post 9/11. But, still ...

Scaring Ourselves Into Submission

AS writes:

Fox News is actually broadcasting the notion that the Los Angeles fires were set by al Qaeda?

Well, that's better than what I was thinking. I'm not going to say, until someone else does.

(hint: who have the GOP recently pissed off in the country, besides LGBT?)

Joy in Mudville

LQQK What is Happening in that Horrible Canadian Socialized-medicine Wasteland!

Unlike the GOP, who seem intent to drive public finances to the brink of ruin rather than pay "entitlements", the debt-to-GDP ratio up north is declining:

With 2007 crude oil prices significantly in excess of the current average cost of production for the "tar sands" of $28 per barrel [2] all of these projects appear likely to be profitable.

Oil Up, Up, And Away!

AS, quoting that rag, The Economist:

Adjusted for inflation, the $100 barrel would not exceed the record set in 1980.

Oh, I feel sooo good about that:

Not only could the world withstand higher prices, some argue that further increases would be beneficial. ... Large and sudden increases are the ones that tend to create recessions.

humm... No and no.

Developed countries use half as much oil per real dollar of GDP as in the mid-1970s
In the U.S., the current figure is about 6.5%. Use that as your elasticity of demand and do the math for a xx% increase in cost (say 35-60%).

Tax Later, Spend Now Republicans

I just updated this data with the FY2007 data on the National Debt (the fiscal year ended September 28th).

Using CBO projections adjusted for where this year ended up (about $93 billion worse than they projected), one comes up with these facts.

Bush-43 may be be the most spendy President in the history of the Republic and that's hard to do, ever since Ronald Reagan insisted on buying the American Dream on credit. What's more, with all the war-costs discounted, Bush may yet reach near two-thirds of the cost of WW-II on a per-capita cost basis.

The GOP under Bush have also had the unique opportunity to spend away money that might have gone into a Gore-like "lock box" for social security. He's at ten times the amount Regan; four times his father (who raised taxes); and almost double Clinton, measured in 2006 dollars.

Big Debt SpenderCumulative Total Debt Per PresidentPer HouseholdPer Household - 2006$

Big Debt SpenderCumulative Trust Fund RaidPer HouseholdPer Household - 2006$

*source: Bureau of the Public Debt; GDP deflator from BEA; Houshold size from Census Bureau

Foot in Evangelical Mouth?

I've always found evangelism to be unspeakably rude. -AS

Oh, dear. I hope AS takes that back, swiftly, because he's gonna get NO END of grief associated with it. For one, it indicates (a) lack of understanding of 'evangelism' and (b) a dance with the fact that Christianity is, in fact, a proselytizing religion (no two ways about that, even if one doesn't emphasize it). Besides, the Catholic catechism is arguably *more* in-your-face than is most Protestant evangelism.

Oh, boy...

It'll be interesting to see whether this kicks up a storm.

Weekly Casualty Lists: Week 43

Groups: MFN-Iraq, MNF-Afghan, Iraqi Civilian Casualties Count, Journalists (Iraq)

August wounded: 558 [a new section for wounded forthcoming ... soon, I hope!]

On an ad-hoc reading, there seems to be an uptick in violence in Mosul.

[n.b. See Enemy Casualty Lists and Battlefield Digest on sister blogologalog.]


-------Name, AgeSrv BranchHometown

Rank, Unit

Location; Circumstance of Death

Anamarie Sannicolas Camacho, 20U.S. NavyPanama City, FL
Seaman, U.S. Naval Support Activity Bahrain
Bahrain; 22-Oct-07; Non-hostile

Genesia Mattril Gresham, 19U.S. NavyLithonia, GA
Seaman, U.S. Naval Support Activity Bahrain
Bahrain; 22-Oct-07; Non-hostile

Erik T. Garoutte, 22U.S. MarineSantee, CA
Corporal, 1st Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team Company, Marine Corps Security Force Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force
Baghdad; 19-Oct-07; Non-hostile

Wayne M. Geiger, 23U.S. ArmyLone Pine, CA
Specialist, 3rd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Division
Baghdad (eastern part); 18-Oct-07; Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

Jarred S. Fontenot, 35U.S. ArmyFontenot, LA
Staff Sergeant, 2nd BN, 12th Infantry Reg, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division
Baghdad (southern part); 18-Oct-07; Hostile - hostile fire - IED, small arms fire

Vincent A. Madero, 22U.S. ArmyPort Hueneme, CA
Specialist, 2nd BN, 82nd Field Artillery Reg, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division
Balad; 17-Oct-07; Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack


------Name, AgeSrv BranchCountry

Rank, Unit

Location; Circumstance of Death
Larry I. Rougle, 25U.S. ArmyWest Jordan, UT
Staff Sergeant, 2nd BN, 503rd Airborne Infantry Reg, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team
Sawtalo Sar Mountain, Kunar Province; 23-Oct-07; Hostile - hostile fire - small arms fire


Counted Civilian Casualties: 282 this week; 261 last week; 259 prior week.
Counted bodies found: 95 this week; 56 last week; 54 prior week.
Wednesday 24 October: 41 dead
Baghdad: roadside bombs kill 9, Jisr Diyala; 6 bodies.
Hibhib: mortars kill 3.
Zaghaniya: gunmen break into house, kill 3 (father and two sons).
Shalamga: landmine kills 7 -2 electricity workers repairing electricity line and 5 policemen accompanying them- near Basra.
Hilla: 3 people, including a child, killed during clashes between gunmen and police.
Baquba: civilian dies in shooting; 2 bodies.
Tuesday 23 October: 46 dead
Baghdad: gunmen kill 2 policemen, roadside bomb kills 1; 4 bodies.
Mikashifa: US forces kill 16 civilians, including 3 children, in air strikes near Samarra.
Baquba: roadside bomb blows up minibus carrying family to a wedding, kills 3 family members; gunmen kill 2; 1 bodies found.
Karbala: Iraqi police kill 2 young girls -3-year-old Mariam and her sister 18-month-old Ayat- in a house raid, while looking for their father.
Basra: 5 killed in clashes with Mahdi army; a woman is killed when a mortar strikes her house.
Mosul: 4 people killed, including a 5-year-old child killed by random fire and a woman struck by a random bullet inside her house.
Iskandariya: random fire kills girl.
Monday 22 October: 87 dead
Baghdad: roadside bomb in Zafaraniya, Karrada kill 7; during clashes with insurgents, 7 National Accord members have been killed, Fadhil; the driver of Radio Free Europe journalist has been found murdered, while the journalist is missing; 5 bodies.
Mahaweel: roadside bomb kills 2.
Iskandariya: an engineer is killed by gunmen; a man dies when a mortar hits his house.
Mosul: roadside bomb kills policeman; 6 bodies.
Kirkuk: 3 bodies.
Baquba: 3 bodies.
Anbar: mass grave containing 25 bodies is found.
Near Falluja: 15 bodies.
Sunday 21 October: 35 dead
Afghanistan:US forces killed 20 Taliban during a battle in the Korengal Valley in Kunar province on the border with Pakistan; three civilians were killed and eight wounded during the battle.
Baghdad: 17 reported dead in US raid (ground and air attack) over Sadr City -among the dead 3 children; mortar kills 3 inside a car, east Baghdad; 3 bodies.
Mosul: gunmen kill coach; 2 policemen are killed in clashes with gunmen; a former officer in the Iraqi Army is shot dead; a cement factory worker is shot dead.
Saklawiya: suicide car bomber attacks police checkpoint, kills 2 policemen, near Falluja.
Saturday 20 October: 31 dead
Baghdad: roadside bombs kill 2, Ghadir, Tobchi; 3 policemen killed during operations; 5 bodies; also 3 decomposing bodies of women found buried in Amiriya.
Iskandariya: roadside bomb strikes minibus, kills 3; roadside bomb strikes police patrol, kills 4 policemen.
Mosul: child killed in clashes between gunmen and Iraqi Army; 2 bodies.
Muqdadiya: US forces open fire at car, kill the driver.
Baquba: 3 bodies.
Basra: 1 bodies found.
Baiji: 1 bodies found.
Friday 19 October: 16 dead
Afghanistan:Four Afghan border policemen were killed in a roadside attack in south-eastern Afghanistan... three more policemen were wounded when their vehicle was blown up by a remote-controlled mine in Alinegar area in Khost province on Thursday morning...
Baghdad: 6 bodies.
Mosul: 2 bodies.
Muwailha: 2 bodies.
Mussayab: mortars kill 3 women.
Thursday 18 October: 26 dead
Baghdad: 5 bodies.
Baiji: US forces kill 4 civilians inside their car.
Basra: bomb blows up at school, kills 2 pupils.
Mosul: 2 policemen and a civilian killed by roadside bomb; another policeman shot dead by sniper; 2 bodies.
Dhuluiya: gunmen kill 3 tribesmen, members of 'Awakening' council.


None this week; 1 abducted, driver murdered (see above)

src: MNF-I, MNF-A, journalists from icasualties.org; Iraqi Civiilan: iraqbodycount.org; Afghan events from Bill Roggio, other sources