Friday, August 27, 2004

Iraq in retrospect - Retiring GOP congressman breaks ranks on Iraq - Aug 18, 2004

When Doug Bereuter, R-NE, submitted a 4-page statement about why in retrospect and after much consideration, he feels the military action in Iraq was a mistake, some make accusations that the retiring vice-chair of the House Select Committee on Intelligence from Nebraska is just bitter and spiteful for "having been passed over ... to head the intelligence and international relations committees." But others disagree: "Doug has been exceptionally self-sacrificing, not noisy (or) abrasive, and certainly not self-serving. His focus has been on serving the best interest of the country and his district, and not on self-promotion."

Kerry won't say he regrets his vote authorizing Bush to invade Iraq, but Bereuter says given what he knows now, he would have voted differently. He also felt it was still inconclusive as to "whether intelligence was intentionally miscontrued to justify military action."

Whether or not you believe the war was justified, here are some ways we could've really supported our troops 100%:
  • If we didn't disband the Iraqi Army we wouldn't be fighting so many of them as insurgents (and losing men doing so).
  • It was also wrong to place reconstruction and the interim governement in the hands of the DoD rather than the State Department (not sure why he says this, but maybe because the State Department would've done a better job and looked better doing it).
  • We could have not "ignored military leaders who warned many more troops would be needed in Iraq to maintain the postwar peace." (Franks himself said he was expecting 150,000 international peacekeapers. I wonder if Bush knew that when he asked the UN inspectors to get out and declared his 48-hour deadline.)

  • So, Bush might have declared the WoT, but he's certainly not doing a mighty fine job of it.

    SOURCE: The Online Beat and CNN
    First posted in my Xanga

    Wednesday, August 25, 2004

    Kerry Wins Backing from Nobel Economics Laureates

    This is what I'm talking about!

    I was at a store today with my mom and she complimented an employee's outfit. The woman replied with a smile, "Well it's one job to the next." That struck me as being very poignant. I've been living life thinking about what I want to do for a living in the future and here's someone thinking about how many jobs she needs to work to support her family.

    From Reuters via
    PHILADELPHIA - John Kerry won the endorsement of 10 Nobel Prize-winning economists on Wednesday as he attacked President Bush for policies that he said have led to the creation of only low-paying jobs.

    The Democratic presidential nominee released a letter from the economists saying the Bush administration had "embarked on a reckless and extreme course that endangers the long-term economic health of our nation."

    They cited "poorly designed" tax cuts that instead of creating jobs have turned budget surpluses into enormous budget deficits, a "fiscal irresponsibility threatens the long-term economic security and prosperity of our nation."

    The endorsement, in the form of an open letter American voters, was signed by George Akerlof and Daniel McFadden of the University of California at Berkeley, Kenneth Arrow and William Sharpe of Stanford University, Daniel Kahneman of Princeton University, Lawrence Klein of the University of Pennsylvania, Douglass North of Washington University, Paul Samuelson and Robert Solow of MIT and Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University.


    A 'disengaged' president?

    When we vote this election, in many ways it's not a vote for Bush or Kerry but for the Republicans or Democrats. Now I know this is old news but in Suskind's The Price of Loyalty, interviews with Bush administration insiders (primarily with Paul O'Neill) among other things, shed light on how powerful members of the administration use various means to sway the president, from repitition of ideas like 'the upper class are the entrepreneurs' to 'Stick to principle':
    “He asks, ‘Haven't we already given money to rich people? This second tax cut's gonna do it again,’” says Suskind.

    “He says, ‘Didn’t we already, why are we doing it again?’ Now, his advisers, they say, ‘Well Mr. President, the upper class, they're the entrepreneurs. That's the standard response.’ And the president kind of goes, ‘OK.’ That's their response. And then, he comes back to it again. ‘Well, shouldn't we be giving money to the middle, won't people be able to say, ‘You did it once, and then you did it twice, and what was it good for?’"

    But according to the transcript, Karl Rove jumped in.

    “Karl Rove is saying to the president, a kind of mantra. ‘Stick to principle. Stick to principle.’ He says it over and over again,” says Suskind. “Don’t waver.”

    An interesting characterization of the way this works is an analogy to:
    "a praetorian guard that encircled the president" to block out contrary views.

    They invoke President Reagan:
    "...Cheney, at this moment, shows his hand,” says Suskind. “He says, ‘You know, Paul, Reagan proved that deficits don't matter. We won the mid-term elections, this is our due.’ … O'Neill is speechless.”

    Here's another example of Bush's transformation. Before the election, he was saying that we've got to change the policy of being the world's policeman, going around nation-building:
    "If we don't stop extending our troops all around the world in nation-building missions, then we're going to have a serious problem coming down the road. And I'm going to prevent that."

    Right after Cheney, et. al. got a hold of him, it was all Iraq, all the time:
    “From the very beginning, there was a conviction, that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go,” says O’Neill, who adds that going after Saddam was topic "A" 10 days after the inauguration - eight months before Sept. 11.

    “From the very first instance, it was about Iraq. It was about what we can do to change this regime,” says Suskind. “Day one, these things were laid and sealed.”
    Souce: CBS News

    Saturday, August 21, 2004

    What's a political hack? Click to find out.

    Watch this video from Election 2000 dated February 15, 2000. Keep in mind that two weeks prior, Senator McCain won the third Republican primary in New Hampshire with an 18 point lead. What happened after that is history.

    I really feel bad for John McCain. I also feel bad for George Bush. I honestly don't think that he was unscrupulous enough to inflict such emotionally harming and dishonorable damage to a friend who to this day campaigns for him. However, I certainly don't hold it above his political advisors.

    Karl Rove (who'll probably say he was misquoted): "Political hacks like me wait a lifetime for a guy like this to come along."

    UPDATE 9:19 PM EST: I swear I posted this before I got the email blast from Mary Beth Cahill.

    UPDATE 10:09 PM EST: This ad was released in conjunction with a petition calling on President Bush to condemn the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth ad (the first one was taken off-line and replaced with a newer one that makes different charges) that sought to cast Kerry as someone who lied to receive his medals and lied about war crimes in Vietnam. These allegations are disputed heavily by both sides. Bush has gone out of his way to not personally criticize Kerry's record and refuses to condemn the ad even at the request of Sen. McCain. My personal contention is that Bush's advisors instructed him to take the moral highroad to avoid further scrutiny of his own weak Vietnam record.

    Thursday, August 19, 2004

    A screen shot of a dialog offering SP2.

    Thursday, August 12, 2004

    I'm a student that said yes to CS...

    Students saying no to computer science | CNET

    A Rutgers professor that taught me Computer Architecture, Dr. Saul Levy, is quoted in this article that highlights undergraduate enrollment drops all over the country including at Rutgers, MIT, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon. Ph.D. programs are hit as well.

    This doesn't come as a surprise at all with tales of the IT bust and off-shoring scaring students away. You see people who don't major in Computer Science, or don't major in it exclusively being perfectly capable of doing what we expect CS undergrad majors to do. Make web pages, code scripts and programs, etc. The article doesn't exactly refer to people majoring in CS only to go to work writing business applications, but expresses a concerns or disconcern that our leadership in the Computing field is at stake. The drop in interest also means less people conducting research and advancing the science, solving problems and not just applying learned concepts.

    I'm again reminded as to the problem of how I want to proceed with my college career. Am I motivated enough to succeed in the field or industry? Am I talented enough? Should I dual major as several of my peers have chosen to do? CS/Business isn't exactly out of the question, but will surely require a fifth year. CS/Chinese, CS/PoliSci and CS/Biology are three possible branches of my academic growth.

    I'm too good at putting things off...

    Last minute warning about Google's IPO registration

    Google IPO Update

    Techdirt and the disgruntled investor in this story have it wrong as to why Google rejects bidders, casting some blame on the underwriters. They can't seem to figure out why after answering a bunch of questions in the registration process truthfully, the investor gets a "...we find you are ineligible..." message. They think it might have to do with his net worth not being high enough.

    He tells us his responses to the questions posed by the online form and I bet it's because he told them he was a speculative investor. If he would have just read the prospectus or other stories about how Google is trying to discourage speculative investors (those who are in for quick, risky, and high profits) from participating and increasing the instability/volatility of their stock price, he would have got his bidding registration accepted and by possibly tomorrow night, he'd have his shares of GOOG.

    So... if any of you want to try your hand, remember that when they ask whether "your investment objectives include speculative investments," consider saying NO. By the way... the more I think about this, the more I realize I have no right to give advice of this kind... I not sure that any one answer will really disqualify you. Just read the prospectus, have realistic expectations, trust Google, and answer honestly.

    From Google's Prospectus: "Many companies going public have suffered from unreasonable speculation, small initial share float, and stock price volatility that hurt them and their investors in the long run. We believe that our auction-based IPO will minimize these problems, though there is no guarantee that it will."

    Wednesday, August 11, 2004

    Portable Windows Media Center Edition devices

    I something think and wonder what would happen if I had an eye for design. Would I be able to draw? Would I think up neat web template ideas? Would I be able to turn this (some will say this is old news but I was re-inspired):

    into this?

    The first picture is an earlier prototype and the second one is a redesigned version of iRiver's new Portable Media Center device. Portable Media Center devices are Microsoft's attempt to dominate even more of the consumer electronics market, a relatively new one at that. Although I don't think I would carry another device in my pocket in addition to my phone and Pocket PC (made by Microsoft I might add), but it goes without saying that I thought the new design was really fantastic. It looks sturdy and pocket-safe —almost XBox and toy-like. I guess in that light it looks quite 'Microsoft'.

    It runs Windows CE and has the same interface as its Windows XP: Media Center Editions computers. Unfortunately, it seems to do everything but let you watch live TV. The iRiver does have a radio tuner, though. Although it does have a built in hard drive, it doesn't necessarily compete with the iPod, because it's a whole different device with a different purpose.

    I read that Steve Jobs was talking about the speculation that a future iPod would have a color screen and play videos. Steve wasn't so sure that would be a good idea. He talked about how people listen to iPod (notice the lack of a definite article) when they live out different parts of the very cool lives. These include active tasks such as working out, running, driving, relaxing, as well as the docile tasks such as sitting, waiting, commuting. When people watch movies or TV, they do just that and become absorbed in doing it. But cool, sociable, and often sedentary people will find a use for the TV-out capabilities of these devices to output to a big TV.

    SOURCES: and

    Monday, August 02, 2004

    A breakdown of the deficit

    So, maybe we've been too hard on Bush about the deficit.

    The New York Times:
    Mr. Bolten attributed the worsened government balance sheet to 'an extraordinary confluence of adversity: the stock market downturn that began in 2000, and the subsequent recession that the president inherited as he took office; the terrorist attacks on America, and subsequent spending for homeland security and the war on terror; and the crisis in confidence produced by corporate scandals years in the making.'

    He did not mention the effects of Mr. Bush's tax cuts. But the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has calculated that about half of the budget turnaround was caused by the weaker economy, about a quarter by higher spending and about a quarter by lower revenue because of the tax reductions.
    The reasoning is supposed to be that people will take their tax cuts and improve the economy. With increased spending and the tax cuts, Bush can only be responsible for $223 billion of the deficit, +/- depending on how effective his policies (tax-cuts) were on the economy.

    The other thing we need to consider is that record deficits don't seem so bad when you look at it as a percent of our GDP, which of course is always "record-breaking" when we aren't in a depression.
    ...the figure projected on Friday is 3.8 percent of the gross domestic product, "well within historical range" and much lower than the record 6 percent reached in 1983.
    Source: Brad Delong says that they don't know what they're talking about because the previous estimate already figured in the effect of Bush's "tax relief". This means that the lowered deficit forecast is just the result of an overshot estimate.

    UPDATE 9:41 PM August 7, 2004: My appreciation of the situation is was entirely facile. Here is a look at the decision-making process and the critique from a former Treasury secretary compounded with that of an economist concerning the administration's fiscal policy. I didn't quite understand what was going on (why am I reading DeLong anyway? Oh, right, because he's an accessible expert), I can tell that that I was the one being simplistic when I dismissed's Bush in 60 seconds winning commercial with little kids working off the national debt as shying from controversy.

    Forget uplifting our economy, our people from the recession. In the meeting notes, O'Neill was pushed aside in his efforts to prevent others in the administration from letting/making Bush endanger the economy in all but the short term with an onslaught of tax-cuts. I haven't read, The Price of Loyalty, but the didn't we already help them out at the top quote has new context and meaning.