Archives for August, 2004

Pleasure Boat Captains for Truth

Are the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth on the level? Was John Kerry ever in Cambodia? I couldn’t care less. But this disturbs me.

(Hat tip MeFi)

Update: OK, I thought it was funny. But maybe this episode in the annals of stupid human tricks is more to your liking. Warning, not for the squeamish. Punchline in diary entry 4/19. (Hat tip Marginal Revolution.)

Posted on Aug 30, 2004 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Furling USA

Anyone who is not using Furl, the webpage filing cabinet, is either uninformed or a schmuck. Here are “10 cool things you can do with Furl.” You’ve been informed. Don’t be a schmuck.

I write this with some trepidation because one of the benefits of Furl is that very few people use it, and those few early-adopters seem to be a smart bunch with good taste. So if you check out popular articles being furled, they’re generally very good. As more and more people start using the service, that quality’s likely to be crowded out by people furling pictures of Beyonce’s ass and suchlike. But I trust my readers, all 10 of them, are a smart and discriminating lot, and you won’t ruin it for the rest of us. So furl away.

Posted on Aug 29, 2004 in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

“Ron Brown’s Body”

I was thinking the other day that people who think GWB is subject to unusual vilification for a president have pretty short memories. Remember the “Ron Brown murder” plot? A quick Google search reveals that that old story is still circulating on the Right. See this recent Worldnetdaily column, plugging a new book on the subject.

It’s not that I think presidents, as a rule, are always above such behavior (Kay: “Now you’re being naive, Michael. Those men, presidents and senators, they don’t have people killed.” Michael: “Oh really? Who’s being naive, Kay?”). But I prefer presidential murder plots that make at least a lick of sense. Tell me something: if you’re going to kill the Commerce Secretary, wouldn’t it suffice to fly his plane into a Croatian hillside? Would you really have to shoot him in the head before you crashed the plane?

Posted on Aug 25, 2004 in Uncategorized | 12 Comments

We’ve Got Ourselves in Our Sights


Bizarre picture from the WaPo today.

Posted on Aug 24, 2004 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Make Outsourcing Work for You

Says a programmer on who outsourced his job: “About a year ago I hired a developer in India to do my job. I pay him $12,000 out of the $67,000 I get. He’s happy to have the work. I’m happy that I have to work only 90 minutes a day just supervising the code. My employer thinks I’m telecommuting. Now I’m considering getting a second job and doing the same thing.”

Smarter techies are working for three to four companies at the same time, outsourcing all the coding and just supervising them for few hours a day. This way they are able to earn four to five time more than what they used to.

Posted on Aug 24, 2004 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Questions on Iraq and the GWOT

Given that our intelligence agencies have a dearth of Arabic speakers, who’s been reading Al Qaeda email traffic since the fall of 2002? I assume quite a few of the folks with the necessary language skills have been shifted from that task to dealing with Iraq. Who’s reading it now while we’re busy trying to deal with Moqtada al-Sadr or whoever the next enemy of the month is?

If the “flypaper” theory is true, and there is a fixed number of terrorists and it’s all about whether we want to fight them here or abroad, then why don’t we invade Saudi Arabia, put mouse ears on the Kabaa, and start charging admission to fat Christian tourists? That would really rile up the terrorist monolith, at no extra risk to us domestically!

More seriously, if the “flypaper” theory is true, then why do we need to “drain the swamps” by democratizing the Middle East? Doesn’t the latter theory depend on the idea that there aren’t a fixed (or relatively fixed) number of terrorists? (See the Rumsfeld memo.) If there’s a fixed number of terrorists, what important war-on-terror goal is served by turning Iraq (and later, Saudi Arabia, Syria, et al) into secular liberal democracies? Surely it can’t be the case that already-practicing terrorists are going to lay down their arms in gratitude when democracy comes to the Arab world. Or is the theory that since they hate us because we’re free, once they’re free, they’ll hate themselves, and be too busy to bother with us?

Posted on Aug 22, 2004 in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Free Your Tech

Check out Technology Liberation Front, a cool new tech policy blog featuring several of my colleagues: Adam Thierer, Thomas Pierson, and Tim Lee.

Posted on Aug 18, 2004 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Bush LIED!!!

Virginia Postrel links to the recent Washington Post series on the (comparatively) restrained approach to regulation under Bush. If you’re looking for a reason to vote for Bush, I guess this qualifies as a point in his favor. Most of the other reasons that limited government folks have advanced are sneer-inducing. Grover Norquist wrote a “case for Bush” piece in American Spectator on Dead Tree in which the lead reason is contracting out unconstitutional government functions to private companies. There’s something to man the barricades for.

But no one is forced to vote, or to vote for a major party candidate. And there ought to be some point at which you say, ok, Kerry is worse than Bush on some things, but Bush doesn’t deserve my vote anyway. At some point, the fact that the other guy may be marginally worse (a point I do not concede) has to lose its sting for you. I reached that point a long time ago, but if you haven’t yet, consider that George W. Bush treats his oath to uphold the Constitution with all the seriousness and sincerity with which Clinton held to his marital vows. Bush admitted McCain-Feingold was unconstitutional. He admitted that the president has an independent duty not to sign unconstitutional legislation. But he signed it anyway.

As Justice Kennedy noted in his dissent in the McCain-Feingold case, the law “makes it a felony to take one example for an environmental group to broadcast an ad, within 60 days of an election, exhorting the public to protest a Congressman’s impending vote to permit logging in national forests.” There are hard questions in constitutional law. This wasn’t one of them. As Justice Scalia said, the act strikes at the very heart of the First Amendment: the right to criticize the government.

On campaign trail 2000, candidate Bush made a big deal out of raising his right hand and swearing to uphold the honor and integrity of the office. You’d think that would include upholding his oath to preserve the Constitution. Is the spectre of John Kerry in the White House so appalling that it’s worth rewarding that kind of behavior?

Posted on Aug 18, 2004 in Uncategorized | 15 Comments

Shaddup Already

“The Venezuelan people have spoken and the people’s voice is the voice of God!” said Hugo Chavez, celebrating the Venezuelan recall’s defeat. I’m not religious, but that strikes me as the height of blasphemy. If the voice of the people is the voice of God, why does God continually say such unoriginal, nasty, and stupid things?

Posted on Aug 17, 2004 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Bumper Stickers

Seen on the commute home through Mount Pleasant this evening: Hispanic male, late thirties, driving a car with a “Viva Bush!” bumper sticker. No outward indications of irony.

Of course, it was a Lexus.

Also seen: minivan parked on Brown Street. Bumper sticker: “My Kid Is a Mensch.”

Posted on Aug 16, 2004 in Uncategorized | Comments Off



This is the logo of the D.C. Department of Health. I got a letter from them with this logo the other day, telling me about their efforts to fix the city’s lead problem. It strikes me that it’s probably not the best logo for an error-prone municipal bureaucracy.

Posted on Aug 16, 2004 in Uncategorized | 51 Comments

I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone

Ramones Name Generator.

Posted on Aug 16, 2004 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Al Qaeda at the Office

This is absolutely fascinating–almost too fascinating to make political points with it. It’s an Atlantic Monthly article written by a WSJ reporter who lucked into buying Ayman al-Zawahiri’s abandoned laptop in Kabul in Fall 2001 in the wake of the US invasion. It’s just surpassingly strange to read Bin Laden’s chief deputy bitching out a subordinate for abusing the company credit card:

6- Please explain the cell-phone invoice amounting to $756 (2,800 riyals) when you have mentioned communication expenses of $300.

7- Why are you renovating the computer? Have I been informed of this?

I said “almost” too fascinating to make political points with it. But not quite. So, for starters, “The computer did not reveal any links to Iraq or any other deep-pocketed government.” What a surprise!

And, in the “calm down, get ahold of yourself” category, there’s this:

In 1999 al-Zawahiri undertook a top-secret program to develop chemical and biological weapons, a program he and others referred to on the computer as the “Yogurt” project. Though fearsome in its intent, the program had a proposed start-up budget of only $2,000 to $4,000. Fluent in English and French, al-Zawahiri began by studying foreign medical journals.

Among those are such up-to-date tracts as “mid-twentieth-century articles from, among other sources, Science, The Journal of Immunology, and The New England Journal of Medicine, and … such books as Tomorrow’s Weapons (1964), Peace or Pestilence (1949), and Chemical Warfare (1921).”

Of all the things to keep us up at night, perhaps AQ’s homegrown dog-poisoning arsenal shouldn’t be one of them.

Of course, they do seem to have a decent grip on grand strategy:

Like the early Russian anarchists who wrote some of the most persuasive tracts on the uses of terror, al-Qaeda understood that its attacks would not lead to a quick collapse of the great powers. Rather, its aim was to tempt the powers to strike back in a way that would create sympathy for the terrorists. Al-Qaeda has so far gained little from the ground war in Afghanistan; the conflict in Iraq, closer to the center of the Arab world, is potentially more fruitful. As Arab resentment against the United States spreads, al-Qaeda may look less like a tightly knit terror group and more like a mass movement. And as the group develops synergy in working with other groups branded by the United States as enemies (in Iraq, the Israeli-occupied territories, Kashmir, the Mindanao Peninsula, and Chechnya, to name a few places), one wonders if the United States is indeed playing the role written for it on the computer.

Posted on Aug 12, 2004 in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Help Is on the Way

I encourage the less-scrupulous among you to feign a social consciousness and try your luck.

Posted on Aug 12, 2004 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Profiles in Courage

People are spinning this Kerry-on-Iraq admission as if JFK said that he was in favor of the war in Iraq. That’s not what he said. He said that he was in favor of someone besides Congress making the final decision about it, and taking the heat for it. That’s a different thing, and far more contemptible. But it’s not a flip-flop. He was in favor of not being held accountable for the decision before the invasion, and he’s in favor of not being accountable for it now.

Of course, he also bravely proclaimed that he was not in favor of royally effing the whole thing up like we did.

Posted on Aug 12, 2004 in Uncategorized | Comments Off