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April 28, 2006

Air America loses flagship station

Huh. How do you like that? After all that time spent cultivating my informant within Air America, I have to find about this from Karol. Guess I need better sources.

Air America Radio will lose its New York flagship station, WLIB-AM, on Aug. 31. While the left-leaning radio network’s original lease for the Inner City station ran out March 31, AAR managed to get an extension which only lasts until Aug. 31, according to an informed source.

Hard to believe this can bode well for the network, if they can't even hang onto a 3rd-rate station in the biggest and most liberal city in the country. Granted, the root causes of this cock-up probably have more to do with inept management than poor ratings, but the end result may very well be much the same.

This is depressing

As if the rumor about Matt Damon and Ben Affleck redoing "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" weren't bad enough, now I have to contend with the prospect of Brangelina desecrating Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. I don't think you have to be a devout Objectivist to feel apprehensive about this project.

I'll confess that I have less patience for Rand's writings than I did in my college days. Her rigid, pedantic prose quickly wore thin on me. Moreover, despite Rand's personal hostility toward religion, she ironically managed to create a religion herself, one that's every bit as unyielding and dogmatic as any other kind of fundamentalism.

Still, if I'm being totally honest, she probably had as big an influence on my own political philosophy as any one, single person. When I first encountered her work some 20 years ago, it changed my way of thinking in profound ways, as only a small handful of books have ever done.

Despite her hidebound dogmatism, I still find her straightforward, across-the-board skepticism of the modern, collectivist state to be more appealing and intellectually honest than the convenient piecemeal antistatism of modern-day conservatism and liberalism, both of which can talk a mean game about individual liberties... except when it comes to all those unpleasant activities which they really, really want to regulate.

Rand still occupies a soft spot in my heart, and I have a feeling that her work deserves a better treatment than Mr. Pitt and Ms. Jolie are likely to give it. Bummer.

April 27, 2006

Vacations for moonbats

So you want to go on vacation, but you're a socially conscious progressive who grows absolutely faint at the very thought of exploiting the environment or indigenous peoples and cultures? Well help is on the way, in the form of "The Ethical Travel Guide" (printed on 100% post-consumer recycled glossy paper, no doubt.)

I think this is a great idea. I'm sick and tired of coming back from vacation tanned, rested and guilt-ridden for supporting the exploitative, Euro-centric post-colonial geo-economic patriarchy. Next year I think I'll just go to Rwanda and hold a snake.


Sell those shares of Google now! The country that brought the world MiniTel is now out to replace Google with something bigger, better and... French.

The French president, Jacques Chirac, yesterday unveiled what he hopes will be his great legacy to France's struggle against the global dominance of the US: a series of technological projects including a European search engine to rival Google.

Mr Chirac, who walked out of an EU summit last month when a fellow Frenchman committed the grave offence of speaking English, styles himself as the defender of France in the globalised world.

After the biggest street protests in decades forced him to stage a U-turn on employment reform last month, Mr Chirac is keener than ever to be remembered for doing something positive for French pride. Yesterday, he announced that he would provide €2bn (£1.4bn) in funding for a series of innovative grands projets, including a Franco-German search engine to compete with Google and Yahoo!.

Why do I doubt that Eric Schmidt is going to be crapping in his pantalons?


Yeah, this should make a mint. A couple of graduate students are developing a video game called "Peacemaker," in which the goal is to avoid blowing things up. The goal, in fact, is to establish peace in the Middle East between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Obviously I've never played this game before, so I should probably withhold judgment. But why do I get the sneaking suspicion that I know how to "win" this game? Take the 0.01% of the Middle East that the Jews control, divide it in half, and give half to the Arabs and Muslims who control the other 99.9% without receiving anything in return?

Yay, I win! What's the prize?

Something tells me it won't be outselling "Grand Theft Auto" anytime soon.

(Hat tip: Tami)

April 26, 2006

We need more Republicans like this

Libertarian bar owner Sue Jeffers is launching a Republican challenge against Minnesota's big-spending Republican governor Tim Pawlenty. Jeffers is a small-government fiscal conservative, and has recently made local news by opposing smoking bans and taxpayer funded sports arenas... and she owns a bar!!! What's not to like?

The GOP is trying to stop her, of course. Their reasoning? She's not a "real" Republican. Nothing to do with her ideology, mind you, they're just sore because she's run for political office in the past as a Libertarian candidate. That's the best they can come up with, apparently.

She'll end up like Paul Hackett, of course, but it's still refreshing to see small-government conservatives like Jeffers actually making an effort to jerk the Republican Party back on track. With any luck, she'll at least start a trend.


A television preacher I actually enjoy listening to. It defies description, really, so just watch it.

Just do it

Stop threatening, stop promising, and for once, just do it.

President George W. Bush threatened on Tuesday to veto a bill to fund the war in Iraq and U.S. hurricane rebuilding after conservatives from his own party complained it was becoming bloated with special interest projects.

I'm not holding my breath, however.

I'll be damned

Tony Snow, huh? This should be interesting.

You know what? President Bush spends much of his time these days doing a more credible Inspector Clouseau than Steve Martin, but every now and then he gets something extraordinarily right. Unfortunately, it's usually something he should have done years earlier.

Tony Snow will be a hoot as press secretary. He'll probably make me forget all about Ari Fleischer.

Meanwhile, courtesy of The Corner, here's a helpful compendium of Tony Snow quotes to clip and save against the thoroughly predictable charges that Bush only appoints obsequious sycophants.

Bush has “lost control of the federal budget and cannot resist the temptation to stop raiding the public fisc.” [3/17/06]

"George W. Bush and his colleagues have become not merely the custodians of the largest government in the history of humankind, but also exponents of its vigorous expansion.” [3/17/06]

President Bush distilled the essence of his presidency in this year’s State of the Union Address: brilliant foreign policy and listless domestic policy.” [2/3/06]

"George Bush has become something of an embarrassment.” [11/11/05]

Bush “has a habit of singing from the Political Correctness hymnal.” [10/7/05]

“No president has looked this impotent this long when it comes to defending presidential powers and prerogatives.” [9/30/05]

Bush “has given the impression that [he] is more eager to please than lead, and that political opponents can get their way if they simply dig in their heels and behave like petulant trust-fund brats, demanding money and favor -- now!” [9/30/05]

Hmm. The more I read, the more I wonder whether we should just give him Karl Rove's job in addition to Scott McLellan's.

April 25, 2006

Probing the free market

Caving to political pressure (in part) from fellow Republicans, Bush has ordered an investigation into... well, the law of supply and demand.

Once again I find myself asking the question: Why is it that we've elected a Republican government, exactly?

I'd expect this kind of empty, posturing theater from Chuck Schumer, of course, but the GOP? I guess it's not that surprising, actually. I've been saying for some time now that the Republican Party is no longer a conservative party, but a populist one. Granted, it's been a fairly successful formula up to this point, but at what cost? The party's fortunes may have prospered, but what about the ideas behind it? And without those ideas, what's the benefit in Republicans winning elections?

If, on the other hand, the government feels that the political pressure is irresistible and that it has to do something, then this strikes me as much more likely to have a meaningful impact on gas prices, but with limited interference in the market.

Crude oil and gasoline futures fell Tuesday after President Bush gave the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to relax regional clean-fuel standards to attract more imports of gasoline to the United States and to make it easier for supplies to be moved from one state to another.

Good leaks and bad leaks

So when is a leak good and when is it bad? Just when I thought I finally had it figured out, someone comes along and muddies the waters again.

I used to think the New York Times and other major newspapers not only loved government leaks, but lived by them. Then when they got so apoplectic over Valerie Plame's "outing," I realized it must be considerably more nuanced than that. After much study, I determined that "good" leaks were ones which were damaging to the administration, and that "bad" leaks are the ones that could be viewed as beneficial.

Duly noted, and so far so good, but now we've got CIA officer Mary McCarthy being fired for leaking classified information, and things get complicated again. John Kerry, on ABC's "This Week," had this to say about it.

"Classification in Washington is a tool that is used to hide the truth from the American people.... I'm glad she told the truth."

So maybe that's the new standard -- whether the leak is true or not. True leaks are good, but bogus leaks are pernicious. But is a false leak really a leak? Isn't that actually "disinformation?" When does one become the other? And when does a "leaker" become a "whistleblower?"

See, it starts to get confusing again, and John Kerry, in typical Kerry fashion, does little to help clarify the issue. It seems he was against McCarthy's leak before he was for it.

"A CIA agent has an obligation to uphold the law, and clearly leaking is against the law. And nobody should leak."

Then he added even more nuance.

"If you're leaking to tell the truth, Americans are going to look at that, at least mitigate or think about what are the consequences that you . . . put on that person."

According to Kerry, this might be the first ever case of an illegal leak of classified information that's both good and bad. Not especially illuminating, but pretty much keeping in character, I guess.

So what does Europe want, exactly?

All I hear from most Europeans is how awful it is that the terrible Israelis are cruelly occupying and oppressing the poor, hapless Palestinians. Naively, then, I would have assumed that the EU would welcome an Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories.

Well, I guess it's just not that simple. Must be my American, cowboy simplisme failing to grasp the nuance of my cultural betters. Apparently, withdrawal is only desirable if it's done exactly how and when the EU says it should be done (emphasis mine.)

In the only statement he was willing to make on the record last Wednesday, in his spacious office in EU headquarters in Brussels, the Spanish statesman said that he expects the government of Interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to invite PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) for political negotiations. Even after the Hamas victory in the parliamentary elections, and perhaps because of the victory, Solana considers Abu Mazen a lifeline for the political process.

In order to learn his opinion about the alternative -- unilateral steps -- he suggests perusing the situation analysis that he presented to the members of the European Parliament two weeks ago. Solana told them that the most worrisome thing about the peace process is that the Israeli elections indicate a strengthening of the desire for separation and a lack of willingness to speak to the Palestinians about the borders.

"That is not a solution for someone who, like us, supports negotiations," he said.

Solana did not make do with general declarations condemning unilateral steps that are liable to undermine a two-state solution. He announced that the EU intends to follow developments in the field closely, mainly in East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley, even after the construction of the fence. As he also told Olmert, he expects Israel to transfer to the PA all the tax money it has collected for them.

"This is Palestinian money," he said.

So I guess unless Israel enters into negotiations with a group dedicated to its own destruction, a group that even most European nations recognize as a terrorist organization, Europe wants the brutal occupation to continue. Sometimes nuance can be hard to follow.

April 24, 2006

How Kaavya Viswanathan got wild, stole a book, and got a career

Stuff like this can be frustrating for aspiring writers (a group that includes many, if not most, active bloggers.)

How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got A Life is the first novel of Kaavya Viswanathan, a Harvard sophomore.

The book was well received, and even made it into the New York Times bestseller list. Now, however, some disturbing similarities to a 2001 novel called Sloppy Firsts, by Megan McCafferty (isn't that a great title, by the way?) have been unearthed by the Harvard Crimson.

It's interesting that the MSNBC article about Ms. Viswanathan runs two whole pages without once mentioning the word "plagiarism," or any form thereof. One wonders why, since many of the "similarities" with McCafferty's book are, well, pretty damned similar. Here are some examples.

On page 213 of McCafferty’s book: “He was invading my personal space, as I had learned in Psych. class, and I instinctively sunk back into the seat. That just made him move in closer. I was practically one with the leather at this point, and unless I hopped into the backseat, there was nowhere else for me to go.”

On page 175 of Viswanathan’s book: “He was definitely invading my personal space, as I had learned in Human Evolution class last summer, and I instinctively backed up till my legs hit the chair I had been sitting in. That just made him move in closer, until the grommets in the leather embossed the backs of my knees, and he finally tilted the book toward me.”

Here's another:

McCafferty’s novel, page 23: “Though I used to see him sometimes at Hope’s house, Marcus and I had never, ever acknowledged each other’s existence before. So I froze, not knowing whether I should (a) laugh (b) say something (c) ignore him and keep on walking.”

Viswanathan’s novel, page 49: “Though I had been to school with him for the last three years, Sean Whalen and I had never acknowledged each other’s existence before. I froze, unsure of (a) what he was talking about and (b) what I was supposed to do about it.”

There are more examples in the article. Dan Brown was sued for much less.

My first reaction to reading this was to wonder what the hell Viswanathan was thinking. How do these people think they can get away with this kind of thing in today's world? But upon further reflection, I realized she did get away with it. She's got a bestselling book and a multi-book contract. She's already sold the movie rights to this novel, and now she's getting tons more publicity. There's a moral in here somewhere, but I'm damned if I know what it is.

No cause for alarm

All right, I'm back now, and as near as I can tell, this site remains safe from both hackers and radical Islamists (Allah be praised.)

The posts "disappeared" due to a default setting on my publishing software. This site was configured to display only posts from the past 10 days. Since I wasn't here much during that time, there wasn't much to show. I've changed it now to show the most recent 20 posts, regardless. Seems to make more sense.

I guess there was also some weirdness with the discussion board. These things always happen while I'm away, of course, but I think everything is (probably) back to normal now.

I've got tons of crap to plow through in my inbox, but I'm making surprisingly good progress, so I hope to get back into the swing of things ASAP.

April 23, 2006

Uh oh....

uh...where'd all the other posts go?

I think I may have crashed the car...should I skip town before he gets back?

April 17, 2006

Iran as a security threat

It seems to me that the more we learn, the more reason we have to want to pursue action against Iran should they continue as they are now.

When their national spokesman blatantly plots out Israel's destruction in public...well, anyway.

I honestly believe that political leaders who make threats of violence should be taken seriously; writing it off as political posturing is simply too dangerous. When they've set themselves up as a target like this guy's doing, there comes a time where you've really got to consider just taking the shot.

UPDATE: Apparently, the whole "annihilation" thing was a misleading translation error.

April 13, 2006

Now that the boss is out

The REAL party can begin.

let's start with Comedy Central.

Suffice to say, cynical though I may have grown on the issue of self-censorship where the image of Mohammed is concerned, I was honestly surprised to see it get this close to home. On a channel that has no ability to pretend that this is about not offending anyone.

Of course, Trey Parker and Matt Stone made that ingeniously clear.

My tribute to them:

All right, then!

Here's how the past two weeks of "hell life" are culminating for me. I'm going to spend tomorrow doing a thoroughly unpleasant errand, and then tomorrow evening I'm flying off to the Caribbean. I'll be back in about a week. In the meantime, CRB and Adam will post here as often or as seldom as they like. You're also free (as always) to amuse yourselves in the comment area. I will be no more or less superfluous here than ever. ;-)

So for now: Happy Easter, and Happy Passover. Enjoy yourselves a nice ham, a chocolate bunny and some yellow-capped Coke. I'll see you when I get back.

Take care,


April 12, 2006

The VIP room

Man, it's so strange to see behind the scenes here.

I mean, you guys wouldn't believe how much porn he has saved as drafts, just waiting for the moment he retires from blogging to be released so he can go out with a bang.

...no pun intended.

We're number one!!

Yeah baby, yeah!! After much hard work (okay, actually after almost no work at all) this site is now the number one Google search result for "Corzine sucks". I'm so proud.

April 11, 2006

Should I worry?

It looks like my wife just ordered this book.

April 10, 2006

Look for the yellow cap!

How did I not hear about this before? A month ago I wrote about the travesty of "Classic Coke," and how it's not really the same stuff we grew up with. It's a syrupy mess, because the cane sugar has been replaced by cheaper corn sweeteners.

Well it turns out that "high fructose corn syrup" isn't Kosher in the literal sense of the word -- not for Passover, anyway. So around this time of year, Coca-Cola actually markets a limited batch of "the real thing" specially for Passover. It's good, old-fashioned Coke with pure cane sugar, and it's identified by a yellow cap.

So stock up now! No need to smuggle it in from Mexico.

Smash the Party

A debate that has grown passive recently regards the reelection rate of incumbants.

I happen to believe that there ought to be a one-term limit imposed on both the Senate and the House. All the complaints of activists and lobbyists who have disproportionate power because our officials depend on them for fund-raising could be dealt a swift and powerful blow if we took this crucial step in killing that most detestable of phenomena; the professional politician.

Politics should never be a career. People of many professions, with very different experiences, should be encouraged to run for an office or two, do what they ran to do in the first place, and then leave to return to their real careers.

I can't say that I see a downside to this one. This would bring fresh blood and talent in regularly. It would remove the reelection incentive for pork legislation.

Best of all, it would destroy the political party structure that has dominated American electoral life for more than half of our history.

No, this is exactly what we need. No more Strom Thurmonds, vestiges of a bygone era who grow old and senile in office. No more concern over reelection.

It wouldn't purify politics, but it would certainly go a long way towards reforming it.

April 09, 2006

Israel's self-defense is an act of blackmail

Well, that's what they say, anyway.

Two Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip on Saturday killed at least eight Palestinian gunmen, part of an intensifying military campaign designed to stop rocket fire into southern Israel.

The first strike came just after noon in northern Gaza, the most common launch site for the homemade rockets that have been landing in southern Israel on a near-daily basis for weeks. Witnesses said two members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed wing of the Fatah movement, were killed.

Ok, the emphasis is added by me here. But keep that in mind when you read the following:
"This Israeli escalation aims to bring the Palestinian people on their knees and to blackmail the government in order to win over political concessions," Ismail Haniyeh, a leader of the radical Palestinian group Hamas who is now prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, told reporters in Gaza before the second airstrike. "We will remain loyal to the rights of our people, and we will not give anything that may harm these rights."
So when rockets are fired into Israel on a near-daily basis for weeks, the rights of the Palestinian people are being upheld. When there's a retaliation from the people those rockets are being fired at, then it's attempted blackmail.

It's not like I expect a government run by a terrorist group to be reasonable, mind you. But it continues to be disconcerting how articles like this, written by American journalists, frame the story. they talk about how children may have been killed by the Israeli strike, but mention nothing of who has or hasn't been harmed by the original Palestinian rocket attacks--in fact, the extent of these attacks is hardly mentioned at all ,except that they have been continual.

Oh well. At least Europe and the US are finally taking a stand on this.

The Barbarian Invasion

Many thanks to our supreme overlord for his invitation and warm welcome. I will try to hold myself to his half-assed standard. Hopefully, between CRB and myself, we may end up with a whole...on second thought, let's leave that metaphor alone.

Though I am partly to blame for CN mathblogging, I promise not to indulge in any of that myself while I'm here. Honest.

In any case, I look forward to taking the new pulpit for a spin :) Should be fun times for all.

Hey look, I can hide things!

New blogger here at CN

Well this doesn't happen too often, but I'm pleased to announce that Cynical Nation has a new author -- Adam Gurri of Sophistpundit. He's been a regular commenter here for some time, and so will probably be familiar to most of you already.

He's smarter than one should be at his age, but refuses to take any of this stuff too seriously, which is definitely a prerequisite here. Adam is partially to blame for my recent forays into math blogging, but try not to hold that against him.

I'm happy that he's chosen to post here, because he's already a pretty busy guy. In addition to his own site, he blogs with a bunch of other folks over at Creative Destruction.

Now is a good time to have him aboard, since I'm going to be going on vacation the week after next, and will be unable to give this board the kind of half-assed attention you readers have come to expect. Hopefully Adam and CRB will take up the slack, although (as always) I encourage both my co-bloggers to blog as often as they like, whenever the mood strikes them, and not just when I'm on vacation.

April 07, 2006


This guy is my hero.

Notes of interest

I have seven pounds of stinky cheese in my refrigerator. More importantly (perhaps), I'm still insanely busy with both workish and personal issues (they always come together, don't they?) Blogging may be light until the present storm passes.

April 06, 2006

By the way...

Am I the only person who doesn't give a rat's ass about Katie Couric, and which TV network she's working for?

My God, I can't believe this is such a huge story. Besides, it's hard to imagine anything less relevant than network news these days... unless it would be this site.

For the person who has everything

Why not a do-it-yourself home Lasik kit?

(Hat tip: The Corner)

Here's your 2008 GOP Ticket

John McCain and Kinky Friedman.

Kinky met with U.S. Senator John McCain and former President George Bush last night at a private reception held at the Texas A&M campus. During their meeting, Kinky and McCain discussed immigration policy and the pending legislation currently being debated in Washington. McCain characterized Kinky's immigration ideas as "better than anything that we've got.” McCain also said he would consider hosting a fundraiser for Kinky once he’s on the ballot. Kinky called McCain one of the few modern-day politicians he admires.

April 05, 2006

Sorry for the light blogging

The past couple of days have been crazy. Things should begin returning to normal now.

April 04, 2006

What's the point?

I probably shouldn't even blog about this but I just can't help it. Some scientists, evidently, have concocted an elaborate theory about how fluke ice floes in the Sea of Galilee could have allowed Jesus to appear to walk on the surface of the water, thus explaining the accounts in the New Testament.

All right, where to begin? Why in the hell would any scientist actually research this? Why would any peer-reviewed journal publish it? It seems to me that you either accept the miraculous or you don't. If you're of a scientific bent, and reject miracles, then why bother to postulate some one-in-a-millennium climatalogical fluke that just happened to coincide with the New Testament accounts of Jesus walking on the water?

If you're a scientist and you're trying to explain how a biblical account can be squared with the rational, scientific world, how about using Occam's Razor? How about speculating, "Hey, maybe that just made that up?" I mean, what am I missing here? Since when do scientists feel the need to explain the bible? And does this mean that they're also working on explanations for the burning bush, Lot's wife turning into a giant salt lick, and talking donkeys? Or do they allow for some miracles and not others? Or do they admit that some parts of the bible are mythological, but still feel compelled to concoct extremely improbably hypothetical situations to justify others?

I just. Don't. Get it.

Reporting on DeLay

Tom DeLay has long been nothing but a liability for his party, so the news of his resignation is welcome, if unsurprising. His departure was probably inevitable, and I never for one second bought the story that his resignation from leadership was "temporary."

Still, there's something in all the reporting of this that bugs me. In story after story, DeLay is referred to as an "unflinching" conservative, or a conservative "stalwart," or some other variation on the same theme. Well excuse me, but isn't this the same Tom DeLay who insisted with a straight face that there was no more fat left to cut in the federal budget? That's what passes for "conservatism" these days?

Back when my political identity was being formed, the primary, defining attribute of conservatism was controlling the size and the price tag of the federal government. Today, people like John McCain, who actually try to keep the budget from doubling every five seconds, are called "moderates" or "mavericks," while Tom DeLay is dubbed an "unflinching" conservative.

In short, the term "conservative" has become just as bereft of meaning as this one. People sometimes wonder why I'm hesitant to refer to myself as a conservative. Well this is why. I'm a proud, Barry Goldwater conservative, but such animals are so scarce these days that they're difficult to label. As Goldwater himself might say, that's too damn bad.

April 03, 2006

My new "mole" at Air America

This past Saturday a friend of mine informed me that he'd just landed a job with Air America. Needless to say, I thought this was an April Fool's joke at first. Turns out it's the truth, which means I now have my very own well-placed source within the fledgling network. This might prove to be a useful resource in separating truth from the pervasive rumors which always swirl around AA.

April 1, as you might recall, was widely predicted to be D-Day for Air America. The lease on WLIB, their New York City flagship, was due to expire with no prospects of renewal. Had it done so it would probably have dealt a mortal blow to the entire enterprise. According to my friend, AA was finally granted an extension to the end of the year, during which time they can work to formulate a long-term solution.

Evidently the early reports were not exaggerating, however. AA came very, very close to losing it all. Even after dodging the lease bullet, some fundamental problems remain -- low ratings, poor advertising revenue and continued bailouts from deep-pocket supporters. From a programming note, my source thinks AA should focus more on "the Truth," than strictly partisan politics, and needs to move beyond 24/7 "Bush-bashing" (his term.) He sees Randi Rhodes as a role model for what an AA host should be.

Although this probably doesn't even need to be said, my friend is a "true believer," a young progressive who drives hundreds of miles to take place in anti-war rallies whenever he can. His critique of Air America "Bush bashing" is not born of any love for the guy.

April 02, 2006

Back to normalcy

My lame April Fool's joke caused a bit of concern. My attempted Atrios parody was merely a bunch of open threads interspersed with a few posts consisting of a single, profane word. Note to self: Successful parody must actually differ from that which it attempts to parody, lest it not be recognizable as such.

Ah well, enough frivolity! Back to serious discussion of the issues.

So how can this French girl open her mouth so wide? Does she have the ability to dislocate her jaw or something?