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Saturday, June 28, 2003

Party of the People vs Party of the Fat Cats ...

This is from a Washington Post article, Democrats Discovering Campaign Law's Cost
...A report released yesterday by the Center for Responsive Politics, a watchdog group, found that, contrary to common perceptions, Republicans have a big advantage over Democrats in donations from small donors, while Democrats are king among only the biggest.

The study, analyzing donations during the 2002 campaign cycle, found that those little guys giving less than $200 to federal candidates, parties or leadership political action committees contributed 64 percent of their money to Republicans. By contrast, those fat cats giving $1 million or more contributed a lopsided 92 percent to Democrats. The only group favoring Democrats, in fact, were contributors giving more than $100,000...
It might seem odd that fat cats are Democrats. But think of it this way: The Dems are the party of opportunity--the opportunity to feel superior to the common man. Superiority is implicit in the idea of doing things for people, of helping the wretched masses who can't help themselves.

Republicans, (though not necessarily Republican politicians) still cling to a few shreds of the American traditions of helping oneself and getting ahead. That's somewhat unpalatable to those who have already gotten ahead--they are not too keen to think that hordes of little people might rise up and jostle them.

And it's a rather Republican thing to think that ordinary people can make a difference. Hence, the large numbers of small contributions. Seems to be working...

* Frank Vannerson writes: "...What struck me was how it obliterates the NY Times dream of using a soft money ban to achieve a monopoly for themselves (as the "paper of record") on media speech in the last 90 days of an election. It probably never occured to them how $2,000 per person of undeniably legal cash can add up.

I wonder what plan B is at the NYT?"

Friday, June 27, 2003

Is that the name of a book?

I just pleased Charlene very much. I mentioned that the new Harry Potter, in English, is the #1 bestseller in Germany. She replied, "So where's living history? My response was a bewildered "Huh? What?"

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

P. Krugman
#106: Close to Boiling Over

Paul Krugman's frustration is close to boiling over in Toward One-Party Rule(06/27/03). But he doesn't know quite whom to blame for the "writing" he is seeing on the wall. Is it the venal Republicans, the clueless Democrats, the rich Plutocrats or the complacent pundits of the media? The only group he does not blame is the electorate. Apparently the voters just go with the amount of money spent wooing them. Only PK can save us!

Needless to say, we are loving this.

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. ]

Thursday, June 26, 2003


Not much time for bloggiting lately. I'm deep into a big job. I'm filling an office with desks, and lining its walls with bookcases and cabinets, and various extras, such as a window-seat with storage inside, and a TV cabinet with pocket-doors and a slide-out TV shelf. A couple run a successful business from this home office, in a sunny room at the top of a fine old SF house. They've been working there for years amidst clutter and improvisation, and are finally building the office they want.

This is just a rough early sketch that doesn't show you the interesting details and trim. But it will give you an idea of the scope of the project. Perhaps I'll post pictures of the completed work later...if I ever get there.

The drawing, by the way, is made with the program SketchUp, which is simply the most thrilling software I've ever encountered. It is sort of like a CAD program, but instead of drawing in 2-D, and then rendering a 3-D image, in SketchUp you are modeling in 3 dimensions all the time. And it's marvelously easy to can grab surfaces and pull them out like taffy, or squeeze them smaller. You can rotate the model any which way, add colors, textures, shadows that move with the time-of-day. A lot of architects are going nuts over this program...

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

P. Krugman
#105: It's a scary prospect

Krugman is becoming a little tiresome on the Iraqi war and the search for WMDs. We are tempted to say "go your way" and let him wander off to self-exile on the political fringes. But in Denial and Deception (06/24/03) he charges that the Bush administration "deceived us into war" and then asks the rhetorical question "Why are so many people making excuses for Mr. Bush and his officials?" His answer is that potential critics fear they would be bowled over "by a powerful, ruthless political the face of a country not yet ready to believe that its leaders have exploited 9/11 for political gain. It's a scary prospect." So once again Krugman has cast himself in the fantasy role of a lonely hero, out in front of the witless masses who consistently ignore his warnings of impending doom. What self-indulgent BS!

Meanwhile, back in the real world, we think the true answer to his question is obvious. The existence and potential danger of Saddam's weapons program prior to the war was as close to being universally agreed to as any public proposition we can recall. The Clinton administration was aboard from the president on down, any nation with an intelligence apparatus agreed as well and the United Nations had documented WMD violations in Iraq on many occasions. That's why so many people are refusing to criticize Bush. They are on record as agreeing with him!

To be sure there were different opinions with regard to the stage of Iraq's weapons development, how operational it was and, in general, the timing of the threat posed, but there was very broad agreement on the basic facts. So Krugman's histrionics come down to the narrow point of whether the Bush administration "sought to convey an impression about the Iraqi threat that was not supported by actual intelligence reports." In other words, they may have hyped threat to justify the war.

This exact issue was put in perspective just a few days ago on the NY Times op-ed page by Kenneth M. Pollack, a former member of the National Security Council in the Clinton administration. The contrast with Krugman's ranting makes for some remarkable reading.

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. ]

Monday, June 23, 2003

Hold still, Gulliver, while I tie this string...

Natalie linked to this article by Naomi Klein, Now Bush wants to buy the complicity of aid workers:
...According to InterAction, the network of 160 relief and development NGOs, Natsios [Andrew S. Natsios , head of USAID ] was "irritated" that starving and sick Iraqi and Afghan children didn't realise that their food and vaccines were coming to them courtesy of George Bush...
It's not courtesy of George Bush, it's courtesy of the US taxpayer, voted by Congress. That's ME, lady. I'm paying, and yes, I do mind that the impression is being given that aid comes from the sweet generosity of non-profit-land, unsullied by contact with Americans.
...For aid workers, there are even more strings attached to US dollars. USaid told several NGOs that have been awarded humanitarian contracts that they cannot speak to the media - all requests from reporters must go through Washington. Mary McClymont, CEO of InterAction, calls the demands "unprecedented" and says: "It looks like the NGOs aren't independent and can't speak for themselves about what they see and think."...
Gee, I wonder why we might do such a thing?...
...The best NGOs are loyal to their causes, not to countries, and they aren't afraid to blow the whistle on their own governments. Think of Médecins Sans Frontières standing up to the White House and the European Union over Aids drug patents, or Human Rights Watch's campaign against the death penalty in the US...
Hmmm. Sounds a bit like what happens when Ruritania sets up a "war crimes court." Who are the defendents presumptive? Start with Bush, Rumsfeld, Sharon... Never a Mugabe or a Saddam or a Chirac. Same with NGO's. I bet it doesn't even occur to her that it is odd that all her examples of "independence" involve criticizing the United States.
...That is the message of "NGO Watch", an initiative of the American Enterprise Institute and the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies that takes aim at the growing political influence of the non-profit sector. The stated purpose of the website, launched on June 11, is to "bring clarity and accountability to the burgeoning world of NGOs". In fact, it is a McCarthyite blacklist, telling tales on any NGO that dares speak against Bush administration policies or in support of international treaties opposed by the White House. [here's the link to NGO Watch she didn't include. Also, "telling tales" isn't a "blacklist," it's just telling what's happening.]

This bizarre initiative takes as its premise the idea that there is something sinister about "unelected" groups of citizens getting together to try to influence their government...
WELL, I'm glad she is candid about the purposes of her NGO's, but there is the little matter of them pretending to be humanitarian organizations, not advocacy groups, and asking for MY money under that label. They remind me of our 'anti-poverty' groups that use the taxpayer's money for lawsuits against the government for not providing enough anti-poverty money..
...Coming from the AEI, this is not without irony. As Raj Patel, policy analyst at the California-based NGO Food First, points out: "The American Enterprise Institute is an NGO itself and it is supported by the most powerful corporations on the planet...
There's no analogy. The AEI is not a "relief and development NGO." They are openly in the idea and advocacy business. They publish their notions and expect them to be openly debated. Your NGO's also have ideas they are pushing, but they very much do not want them debated. In fact they are not very keen on the idea of the masses debating or voting on anything.

But there is another big thing going on here. The Bush administration doesn't want to ameliorate the suffering in places like Iraq, they want to solve it. They want to turn Iraq into a prosperous and free country that doesn't need anybody's aid. (You may read about the shocking plot here, in an article by Paul Bremer himself, Success in Iraq depends on the birth of a vibrant private sector.) This puts the US in deep conflict with the NGO's, who like to settle into a humanitarian crisis like pigs into a nice warm mud puddle. Many of the problems we've had fixing things in Afghanistan stem from NGO's, who are still 'studying' the problems they are supposed to solve. (Of course the blame goes to guess who.)

If we are going to achieve our ends we will have to crack the whip over the NGO's, or do without them. That we now hear them squealing is a very good sign.

Sunday, June 22, 2003

Bush gets sunburn to discredit solar power ...

I've been irked at how the leftizoid kitchen has been dishing up any problem that can concievably be blamed on Bush and Rumsfeld, and serving it to us flambé, with a procession of waiters and cooks. But it has also been satisfying, because they are obviously desperate!

Still, there's desperate and desperate. This one is tipping over into Ezra Pound territory... John Hawkins links to this USA Today article:
...President Bush meant to fall off his Segway. Oh, I'm sure of it. What we've got here is a clever conspiracy — a pre-emptive strike to save the oil industry from a technology that could sap its power...