Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Who's in charge of really bad ideas?


‘So Bad They’re Good,’ Rumsfeld Says

The Pentagon has named Retired Admiral John Poindexter, the man responsible for the recently abandoned idea of a “terrorism futures market,” to head the newly created Department of Bad Ideas, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced today.

Washington insiders saw the appointment as a major promotion for Mr. Poindexter, since in his new role he will oversee, develop and authorize funding for all of the Pentagon’s bad ideas, believed to number in the millions.

But Secretary Rumsfeld, while acknowledging the importance of the Department of Bad Ideas (DBI), attempted to put Admiral Poindexter’s appointment in the proper perspective.

“For as long as I’ve known John, he’s been all about bad ideas,” Mr. Rumsfeld says. “This just makes it official . . .”

-The always amusing Borowitz Report

Posted at 10:25 AM in Current Affairs, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

The Buck Stops Here

Mid-level Bureaucrat Caused Massive Job Losses, President Alleges

Stephen Hadley, the mid-level bureaucrat who last week took the blame for the controversial sixteen words in President Bush's State of the Union Address, suffered another setback tonight as Mr. Bush blamed Mr. Hadley for the struggling state of the U.S. economy.

Mr. Bush made the extraordinary accusation during a nationally televised speech devoted to the failings, errors and screw-ups of the beleaguered Mr. Hadley.

"Every President must tell the nation where the buck stops," Mr. Bush said. "In this administration, the buck stops at Hadley."

-The always amusing Borowitz Report

Posted at 06:13 AM in Finance, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 25, 2003

Stocks Rally as Noose Tightens

Wall Street Hails So-called 'Hussein Bounce'

Stocks rallied for the second straight day as the U.S. took the unusual step of announcing the deaths of Qusay and Uday Hussein a second time.

""We looked at what the announcement of their deaths did for the markets yesterday and we figured, hey, it couldn't hurt to announce them again,"" one White House aide said.

Given the extraordinary rally that greeted the second announcement of Uday and Qusay's deaths, the White House is considering re-announcing their deaths at least once a day, and possibly several times a day, until the Dow and the Nasdaq climb to pre-bear market levels.

On Wall Street, traders and analysts alike hailed the so-called ""Hussein bounce"" and predicted Uday and Qusay's deaths could sustain the rally well into the fall.

On Capitol Hill, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan had been expected today to testify before Congress about interest rates and the monetary supply, but instead devoted his entire testimony to the demise of Uday and Qusay.

""I'm very happy to report that Uday and Qusay Hussein are both dead,"" Mr. Greenspan said, sending the Dow rocketing another 900 points.

For his part, President Bush acknowledged that the deaths of Uday and Qusay were providing just the lift that the economy has needed.

""I never thought I'd say this, but killing those two bastards is even better than a tax cut,"" Mr. Bush told reporters.

-The always amusing Borowitz Report

Posted at 03:00 PM in Finance, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)

Watching the Crumble

Quote of the day:

"Funny how the BS can wear you down. Funny how it can make you feel like someone's been piling huge rocks on our collective chest for the past three years and stomping on them with ugly polished right-wing loafers until we can hardly breathe.

And all you have to do is ask any schoolteacher or grandparent or health-care worker or conscious sensual attuned soulful organism anywhere, and the answer is unavoidable: The nation is gasping for air.

Cities are desperate, basic services are being slashed, schools are broke, the environment's molested, the GOP has promised a ridiculous array of cuts and dedicated billions they can't possibly deliver in light of inane tax cuts and the biggest deficit in U.S. history. Hey, how's your portfolio doing?"

--Mark Morford, SF Gate
Watching BushCo Crumble, July 25, 2003

Posted at 01:22 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

CBS Marketwatch: "Rebates Suck"

Rebates that reek
Money-back rules can be obstacles, or even fraudulent

I'm still waiting for rebates from Sprint/Amazon (Christmas '02 -- only one of the two phones we bought ever had the rebate show up) and TiVo (October '02).

I no longer calculate rebates when price comparison shopping. Given the choice between two items, one $150, the other $175 plus a $50 rebate, I have determined that the rebateless one is the better deal.

Rebates are simply a giant pain in the arse, and often times in my experience, a scam.

Posted at 11:31 AM in Shopping | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Inmate Register Number: 53803-054

Federal Bureau of Prisons: National Institute of Corrections

Inmate Information for SAMUEL WAKSAL
Inmate Register Number : 53803-054
Age : 55
Race : WHITE
Sex : MALE
Projected Release Date : UNKNOWN
PO BOX 700
Phone Number : (570)544-7100

Here's the WSJ's take on it:

"A Cell for Sam Waksal: Today was a day of reckoning for Sam Waksal, and - it isn't too much of a stretch to say - for corporate America as well. The 55-year-old founder of ImClone Systems reported to a minimum-security prison in Pennsylvania, where he began serving a seven-year prison sentence for insider trading and related charges. Mr. Waksal is the first chief executive caught up in the recent wave of corporate scandals to begin doing time, and he isn't likely to be the last. Federal prosecutors have brought criminal charges against several executives they hold responsible for the cases of accounting fraud and Wall Street conflicts of interest. And even Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has blamed the corporate-governance scandals for making boards and chief executives unhealthily risk-averse. Perhaps the most high-profile defendant is Mr. Waksal's friend, Martha Stewart, who was indicted last month on charges akin to Mr. Waksal's that she lied about selling shares in ImClone just before the company unveiled some bad news."

Posted at 11:08 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lebowskifest 2003


Dude! How is it possible? I missed the 2nd annual Big Lebowski film festival.

Oh, well. There's always next year. The WSJ reports that there may be a third installment of this annual -- well, twice in a row so far -- get-together. They called it "a mild hobby turned into a tasteful gathering. While some of this weekend's festivalgoers were somewhat rabid in their devotion, most haven't devolved into a level of groupiedom akin to "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."

But who knows what a few more rounds of White Russians and a few frames of bowling could bring . . ."

Shomor Shabbos, Dude!

Posted at 06:36 AM in Film, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

3 Guys Smokin' and Drinkin' and . . .

A very very funny clip from what looks like a British sitcom:

Posted at 10:13 AM in Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)

No Patience for the Ignorant

I have no patience – absolutely zero – for ignorance. Most especially if it’s borne of laziness. I’m a big believer in doing your homework, turning over rocks, chasing down a lead, and ultimately, making informed decisions. This applies to planning a vacation, purchasing a bike/CD player/computer/car, getting long (or short) a stock, etc.

It especially applies to voting in National election.

I felt a weird mixture of amusement and annoyance of a new website which popped up:

The author, like many other voters in the 2000 election, voted for Nader because they claimed they "perceived little difference" between the 2 parties:

“Before the last election, we agreed that the Bush Administration would look much like the Gore Administration.”

This is a frighteningly ignorant statement; Yes, its true that the parties have moved closer together in the middle of the political spectrum. Both parties have an exceedingly open ear to to corporate interests, especially those that write large campaign contribution checks. That said, there has not been two candidates from the Dems/Repubs more different than the Gore-Bush battle in the 2000 election. This was a left right battle the likes of which had not been seen since the Reagan-Mondale race in 1984.

That people this delusional are allowed to vote – indeed, were instrumental in electing a President – has forced me to reconsider my views on installing a philosopher king/benevolent dictator.

Before proceeding any further, understand this: I’m a registered Independent; I have to be, otherwise it impacts my performance professionally. Jingoistic money managers who cheerlead one party or another eventually get slaughtered in the markets. I cannot afford the luxury of partisanship, so I force myself to read all sides of an issue, and fully evaluate candidates.

If you must know, I’m a libertarian; I believe in individual liberty and personal responsibility (See "Taking Responsibility"), within the framework of a free-market economy. I'm against governement intervention in both the marketplace and the bedroom. I guess that makes me fiscally conservative and socially progressive. I have a natural contrarian streak that often puts me at odds with whoever is occupying the White House. I’m more pragmatic than dogmatic. Call it results oriented.

I’ve agreed with some stuff Bush has done (everyone affiliated with the market loves any capital gains tax cut), and disagreed with others. I thought we should invade Iraq (see this report), but not for any of the publicly stated reasons. I like encouraging corporate dividends; However, it should have been done on a corporate level, rather than carving out a unique individual income tax bracket for dividends. Thus, we replaced one odd tax permutation with another.

All that said, it’s simply incredible to me that anyone could claim to see little differences between the two candidates in the 2000 election. I don’t expect many people to do all the “homework” I do (i.e., See Popular Loss, Electoral Victory?), but they should at least have a passing familiarity with the issues. On most of the major campaign platform planks, Gore and Bush had very, very different positions. Look at Governor Bush’s record in Texas, look at Senator Gore’s record from Tennessee; This was a race between a classic Liberal vs a classic Conservative. Perhaps if you were living in a cave prior to 1999 you had an excuse for failing to see that basic truth.

Sure, the spin was that Gore was a technophile, while Bush was a "compassionate conservative." If you looked past the spin, the differences were damned obvious -- this was a race between two very different men.

Say what you will about Gore and Bush voters, at least they understood where there candidate stood, and cast their vote accordingly. Not so, apparently, with Nader voters. Theirs was a vote not for a candidate, but for a concept.

Here we are 2 1/2 years later, Summer 2003. Sure, a few things about the Bush Administration were surprising – 9/11 was a surprise, Ashcroft getting appointed was a stunner, the record of soon to be departing FCC Commish Michael Powell was also. But Bush . . . well, Bush was Bush. If you understood his background, followed his career, looked at his record, then you can’t really be all that surprised at who he is or what he’s done.

Along comes this group of voters who belatedly are regretting their cavalier ways. Voting is serious business. These guys didn’t take it that way.

Hey, that’s the history of 3rd party voting in the modern United States: You are simply throwing away your vote. We do not have a parliamentary system; We haven’t had viable 3rd party President since Millard Fillmore was a elected as a Whig, serving from 1850-53. Want your vote to matter ion a two party system? It’s a Democrat or a Republican. Period

Do your research . . . Choose wisely . . . Vote for the candidate who is closest to your belief system. The more ambitious of you can join the party of your choice, and influence them from within. If the far right wing of the GOP scares you, fight the policies of the religious zealots. If the left wing of the Democrats frightens you, move the party away from control of the unions.

At least do some research before voting. Look beyond the headlines as to who the 2 candidates are. If all that seems like too much work, well, you have a third option: You could always waste your vote.


Posted at 06:52 AM in Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Strom and the "N" Word

Regarding the use of the "N" word in from "Dead Centagenarians"

I must respectfully disagree with the "modern" way some people are hearing Strom's 1948 speech. I'm not the first one to the offensive word, nor am I the 1st to notice the cleansing of Strom's actual language (see below). Not only does Strom clearly utter that infamous word (at least its clearl to my Yankee ears).

Indeed, there are several mentions of a modern cleansing of Strom's language prior to his death.

The Baltimore Times Online noted the politically correct editing: "Media Cleans Up Strom Thurmond's Racist Quote" by Hazel Trice Edney (NNPA Washington Correspondent) seven months prior to his death. (posted here on 1/2/2003).

"In the wake of the controversy surrounding racist language recently used by former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, news outlets and web sites have focused on the words spoken in 1948 by retiring Senator Strom Thurmond.

Publications such as The New York Times and the Washington Post and all national news networks have purported to quote Thurmonds views at the time regarding the Negro race. There is only one problemthats not exactly what Thurmond said.

According to an excerpt of the speech, which was posted on, Thurmond says:

And I want to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that theres not enough troops in the Army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and admit the nigger race into our theatres, into our swimming pools, into our homes and into our churches.

That speech was made July 17, 1948, as Thurmond championed his platform of racial segregation. At the time, he was accepting the presidential nomination of the States Rights Party, more accurately called Dixiecrats."

Indeed, the editing caused one journalism professor to comment:

A. Peter Bailey, who teaches a journalism class at the University of District of Columbia in Washington, says he first heard the recording last week on The Joe Madison Show on WOL-AM in Washington, D.C., hosted by civil rights activist Joe Black Eagle Madison. The thing that the newspapers do that absolutely violates Journalism 101 is putting it in quotes, Bailey says, referring to the word Negro. They might say, you know, We didnt want to use the n-word or whatever. But there are times when you have to tell the truth.

Even before that, Tom Gorman at counterpunch observed on December 13, 2002:

". . . These accolades are given to a man who said, while running for President in 1948, "All the laws of Washington and all the bayonets of the Army cannot force the nigger into our homes, our schools, our churches." (Most recent media accounts of this speech have been sanitized, replacing the word "nigger" with "Negro." Audio recordings of the speech have Thurmond saying the more offensive term. This in itself shows that Lott's desire to look at Thurmond's record through rose-colored glasses is by no means idiosyncratic.)"
-The Hypocrisy of Lott's Critics

Slate's Timothy Noah, who pens the "Chatterbox" column (Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics) also questioned the transcriptions:

"Pedantic aside: Standard accounts of the speech render "Nigra" as "Negro," but when listening to an NPR sound clip, Chatterbox wondered whether the word Thurmond uttered was "nigger." In transcribing, Chatterbox gave Thurmond, who even in his worst days was not known publicly to throw that ugly epithet around, the benefit of the doubt. To judge for yourself, click here.)
-The Legend of Strom's Remorse

Supporting Noah's assertion that "even in his worst days was not known publicly to throw that ugly epithet around is the the book "Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word," by Harvard law professor Randall Kennedy. The Washington Post excerpted it:

Partly to distance themselves from this ilk, some whites of higher standing have aggressively forsworn the use of [the word] nigger. Such was the case, for example, with senators Strom Thurmond and Richard Russell, both white supremacists who never used the N-word.
-Randall Kennedy, Washington Post, January 11, 2001

I give Strom credit for learning to change as he aged, and how he became more accountable to his black constituents; However, his flagrantly hateful speech, even though its 50 years old, simply cannot be ignored . . .

Posted at 09:00 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)