ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Update from the Front Lines: Return Date Confirmed

Well, my brother-in-law is set to return from Iraq/Afghanistan/Qatar (wherever he is!) on October 14th. We're anxiously anticipating his return...Every night when my 3 year old son goes to bed, we all pray for his safety and the safety of all of our soldiers serving this great country. I know that my son desperately misses his uncle and can't wait for him to be back.

Here's a recent dispatch from his trip to Afghanistan. (Click on each of the pics to see a larger version)

Not much to tell about my trip. I flew in to Kandahar airport and stayed there for a day training and briefing their medical staff. Then I took a Chinook to Kabul for the same thing. The Chinook is a twin rotar helo design for troop or heavy loads. Pretty cool ride because the back stayed open the entire flight. Had to ride C-130 the rest of the way to Bagram Air Base which is close to Kandahar. From there I rode out back to Qatar. Things were pretty hectic, so I slept mostly on the plane rides. I got some good pictures from the tower where one of the doctors says he spends most of his down time. The Mountains in Afghanistan were beautiful.
Previous posts about my brother-in-law are (in chronological order):
  1. Digital Camera for Iraq
  2. Happy Memorial Day (which turned into a shouting match with a Lefty in Illinois (see here and here)
  3. Example of a True Patriot to the Left
  4. Update from the Front Lines; and
  5. A Photo Update from the Front Lines

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler


Mountains of Afghanistan


Small Farms



Houses



Kandahar International Airport


An Afghani Market


Australians thinking of home

Friday, September 23, 2005

MontereyJohn is Discontented and Jonah Goldberg Has the Reason

I have not been blogging much in the last few weeks, to the probable relief of many. I wondered whether that was a function of other things being more important to me be it my new grand daughter or the hurricanes on the Gulf Coast. There was just no zest in sharing opinions or even reading other's opinions.

Then I read Goldberg's column at NRO this morning, and he put his finger right on it, it just isn't any fun supporting much of what is coming from the administration these days.

Here is what Jonah had to say:

"On the home front, while I obviously think much of the criticism of George W. Bush from the Left often amounts to a form of paranoid delirium heard from muttering autodidact vagrants at the public library, slow-poisoned monarchs, and two thirds of the contributors to the Huffington Post, I have to concede that as you move closer to the center the criticisms have enough heft of fact to them to make defending Bush less fun. And even if you win these arguments, they tend to be pretty small victories."
That pretty well sums up how I feel.

I have grown increasingly tired of the administration and the Republicans in Congress acting as if the Democrats have won the last several elections. They keep trying to make nice with the Democrats. They keep appealing to the "reason" of their opponents though there is absolutely no evidence the Democrats are motivated by anything reasonably proximate to reason.

Then there is the response to the disaster in New Orleans. $250 billion???!!! Who says so? From where did that number come from? Does anyone have any idea how much money that is? We are running a war over a whole country for less money than that, not to mention rebuilding that same country. Who is watching the bank here? Lousiana politicians?

Where are our conservative principles here? Someone has to say "Whoa, holding everything, we need to take a look at what we are doing here." Maybe the Speaker of the House had a point when he said that it might not be a bad idea to take a look at the wisdom of rebuilding a city below sealevel before spending a huge portion of the national budget on such an enterprise.

This morning the levees in New Orleans failed again when the city took a glancing blow from Hurricane Rita. Is the handwriting on the wall here? Should the destroyed areas of New Orleans, those below sealevel, not be just left alone until we figure out what to do over the long term? Is it totally unreasonable to ask the question and enter into the process of arriving at sane answers? Must we run from the hard questions merely because The Left says we are heartless just for making the inquiry?

There is more that has left me disgruntled. Do not start me on Arlen Specter trying to maneuver the timing of the next appointment to the Supreme Court. I really fear that the next appointment is not going to be what I would like to see.

Shall I go on?

Jonah, you got me thinking here... damn it.


Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

Taxation, Borrowing, & Spending

H/T Ace of Spades

The American Thinker has a great post discussing this NYTimes editorial calling for (surprise, surprise) higher taxes to pay for Katrina (and Rita?) relief. Here are some relevant points:

Cutting taxes for the rich is the most glaring of the wrongheaded reasons to pile debt upon debt. Since 2001, Congress has passed tax and spending legislation totaling $1.7 trillion. Of that total, tax cuts for people who make more than $200,000 a year, the top 3 percent of the income ladder, have accounted for nearly 20 percent - or about $330 billion.

High-end tax cuts were not a wise policy during the shallow recession of Mr. Bush's first term and they're certainly not called for now. Unpaid-for tax cuts only cause more government borrowing. That takes money from government programs and taxpayers of tomorrow and gives it to the rich of today.
[...]
The tax-cutting agenda is breaking the bank for our descendants, while impairing our ability to borrow responsibly today. Every dollar that is saved by letting the tax cuts expire as scheduled is one less dollar the nation will need to borrow for Katrina.

A day after his speech from New Orleans, Mr. Bush ruled out tax increases to help pay for Katrina. That's unrealistic. And in any event, letting temporary tax cuts expire on schedule is not a tax increase. It's the law of the land, which Congress wants to change.

Unfortunately for the Times, consistent with most of its reporting, the facts are counter to the conventional wisdom (which they promote on a daily basis). And yes, if tax rates increase (either due to expiration of a previous tax cut or by an overt act of Congress), it is still an increase. The cause for the increase does not change the fact that it's an increase. It seems that the Times still hasn't grasped the fundamentals of math. Perhaps this would come in handy.

It's also important to know that the tax cuts did not cause government borrowing, but over-spending did. From The American Thinker:
[...]
[The US was] deep in hock before Katrina – for more than 70 years before. The United States has been consistently in debt since the Depression, and especially since World War II, when it annually borrowed more money than was received as income tax receipts. As a result, debt has been a fiscal reality for the U.S. government for seven decades, and has not once prevented the country from spending money in response to an emergency without necessitating higher taxes.
[...]
Tax cuts don’t create debt; overspending does.

Based on current estimates, the federal government will bring in almost $2.2 trillion worth of income tax receipts in fiscal 2005. This is more than it received during the final stock market bubble year of 2000, and is guaranteed at this point to be an all-time high. If Congress spent the same this year as it did in 2000, there would be about a $400 billion surplus. Unfortunately, spending is estimated to be almost $700 billion more this year than in 2000 - a 39 percent increase. As tax receipts are coming in at a record level this year after two economic stimulus packages, it would be devoid of budget acumen to conclude that the projected $330 billion deficit is caused by anything but overspending.

Having gotten to the main course, the Times then evoked a little fear:
“The resulting deficits could create deep economic distress, including higher interest rates, slower economic growth, future tax increases and constraints on the government's ability to be responsive, both to crises and to everyday needs, like health care. Growing deficits also pose a security threat because increasing foreign indebtedness risks eroding the nation's position in the world.”

Deficits don’t lead to higher interest rates

For several decades, economists and policymakers have debated the causal relationship between budget deficits and higher interest rates. As Lawrence Kudlow wrote in the summer 2003 issue of International Economy magazine, “While there may be a link between deficits and rates, it is a very weak link.” Supporting this view is recent history. When Ronald Reagan entered the White House in 1981, the 30-year Treasury bond was paying about 14 percent per year. When he left office in 1989 with significantly higher budget deficits, the 30-year T-bond was paying less than 8 percent.

More recently, as illustrated by this T-bond chart, interest rates actually rose in the budget-surplus years of 1999 and 2000. Yet, as fiscal indiscipline has returned to Capitol Hill along with rising deficits since then, interest rates have not only declined, but to levels not seen in 45 years.

So much for deficits causing interest rates to rise. And so much for the tax increase the New York Times wants to foist on us.

As other members of the VRWC/Rovian Conspiracy have pointed out, tax cuts actual increase federal tax receipts due to the increase in economic growth. The fact that the Times thinks that taxes should have been held constant (or perhaps increased?) during the economic recession in 2001 is indicative of their poor understanding of economics.

Can someone explain to me why it is that the old Gray Lady sets the stage for the news every single day?

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Bustin' Pork - Item 1


Well, I figure this little budgetary item can be wiped from the face of the earth, never to return.

Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis, for the establishment and maintenance of an archive for materials relating to the Congressional career of the Honorable Richard A. Gephardt

Is there really a national public outcry to spend $1.5M for Gephardt's memos to be archived and stored for posterity? Should this take precedent over aid to the hurricane ravaged Gulf Coast?

I think not!

*** FYI - I accidentally selected District 1, when this activity is most likely in District 3

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

The Dilemma of the Dems

H/T Raw Story (Lefty Moonbat News Source)

The Democratic leaders are in the same dilemma that they've been in since 2002. Until they have a Sistah Souljah moment with the Moonbat Extremes of their base, they're going to continue to face this problem.

Top Democrats won't attend anti-war rally in Washington
BY STEVEN THOMMA
Knight Ridder Newspapers

WASHINGTON - (KRT) - As the anti-war movement arrives in Washington this weekend, many top Democrats are leaving.

Nationally known Democratic war critics, including Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Russell Feingold of Wisconsin and John Kerry of Massachusetts, won't attend what sponsors say will be a big anti-war rally Saturday in Washington.

The only Democratic officeholders who plan to address the rally are Reps. Cynthia McKinney of Georgia and John Conyers of Michigan.

Today's leading Democrats head a party divided over the war, and many leaders are wary of standing with anti-war activists, who represent much of the party's base. The divide between anti-war activists and Democratic leaders underscores a challenge the party faces in the 2006 congressional elections and beyond. Some activists say that Democrats such as Clinton and Kerry who criticize the war but refuse to demand a timetable for withdrawal are effectively supporting the status quo - and may not merit future support.

En route to Washington for the rally, anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan protested outside Clinton's New York office. "She knows that the war is a lie, but she is waiting for the right time to say it," Sheehan told about 500 cheering supporters. "You say it or you are losing your job."

Spokesmen for the Democrats who are skipping the anti-war event all said they had schedule conflicts. But some leading anti-war activists aren't buying it.

"There are a lot of people here who are wondering, where are the Democrats?" said Tom Andrews, a former Democratic House member from Maine who's now the national director of Win Without War, one of several groups that are organizing three days of protests against the war in Washington starting Saturday.

"The Democratic Party has an identity crisis on this issue. We need voices. We need leadership," Andrews said. "But fear is driving them."

As MoveOn.org pointed out, it's "their party now." Unfortunately for those that have to run for office, MoveOn & the Kossacks don't exactly have a large base of support in the heartland or amongst swing voters. [sarcasm on] It's good to see that Cynthia McKinney, a serious politician and leader in the Democratic Party, is going to be able to attend. [sarcasm off]

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Thursday, September 22, 2005

And so it begins

BATON ROUGE, La. - Police found cases of food, clothing and tools intended for hurricane victims at the home of the chief administrative officer for a New Orleans suburb, authorities said Wednesday.

Officers searched Cedric Floyd's home because of complaints that city workers were helping themselves to donations for hurricane victims. Floyd, who runs the day-to-day operations in the suburb of Kenner, was in charge of distributing the goods.

Police plan to seek a charge of committing an illegal act as a public official against Floyd, and more charges against other city workers are possible, police Capt. Steve Caraway said.

Surprising?

A few more stories like this and the FEMA/RedCross-Debit-Cards-for-Strippers and the compassion of the American people will evaporate.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Oliver Willis is Articulate AND Stuck On Stupid

Oliver Willis made this post about Michael Steele (Lt Governor-R in MD) and I quick challenged him by posting a comment. As has happened numerous times before, my comment was deleted within 15 minutes. Oliver has since followed up with another, more comprehensive post on the subject of how using positive adjectives to describe a person can be offensive. I've commented there as well. This time, however - I've saved the comment here on ARC.


Race & Blogging

As anyone can see from a simple cursory glance at my picture, I happen to be black. That shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone, though if you’ve only ever heard my voice: trust me, I can understand. Now one of the interesting things about blogging is that I got into it very early and have made it to the point where people know who I am, whether they like me or not. I made a conscious decision early on that I wouldn’t be a “black blogger”, that is I made it clear that I was not going to be the blogger of record on racial issues (there are people much more gifted than I writing such material). Over the 5 years that I’ve written my blog, less than 1/10 of 1% of my writing could be remotely considered an opinion on race. One reason I’ve stayed away from that is that my opinion on issues of race are considerably more conservative and in the minority among black Americans. Let’s just say I share more ideology with Bill Cosby than Michael Eric Dyson. And I don’t want to be the “voice of black America” because quite frankly I’m not.

But that doesn’t change what people will decide to pigeonhole you with anyway. I’ve written two posts about what I think is a clear indictment of the insular and relatively monochromatic world that conservative bloggers inhabit, and the usual cackling from the cons is that I am a racist. I’ve had this idiotic label applied to me before from many of these same folks, and I sort of understand that I should go ahead and talk about these things because even if I may not be in the mainstream of black American opinion on these issues, it sure makes more sense coming from me than a guilt-ridden white liberal.

So yeah, I’ll reiterate - “stuck on stupid” has long been used by black Americans and the giddy school girl novelty that it’s been greeted with in the con world is indicative of their inability to echo beyond the same usual idiotic outlets while slapping each other on the back for being enlightened.

And yes, declaring that being “articulate” is a black politician’s virtue sounds bad regardless of whether the speaker had any racial intent or not. There are too many black professionals and politicians in this country in this day and age to have the fact that they all don’t sound like they come out of the ghetto be treated as a miracle of some sorts. And I’m going to say it.

4 Responses to “Race & Blogging”
4. stwendeler Says:
September 21st, 2005 at 10:43 pm

Bush = Inarticulate (HAHA)
Steele = Articulate (RACIST!!!)

Yep, makes sense… To Orwell perhaps. (By the way, you’re very articulate as well… unfortunately, the ideas that you so clearly and expressively convey are totally bonkers…. or, to borrow a phrase, Stuck on Stupid.)

Please don’t delete this comment like you’ve deleted all the others. Don’t you like a debate with various points of view?

Oh, and congrats on the Redskins’ win on Monday… ruined my pickem pool. ;-) (Can’t believe you root for that offensively named team…)

Regards,
St Wendeler

# stwendeler Says:
September 22nd, 2005 at 11:24 am

“Articulate” does not mean knowledeable, passionate, or humorous. The one thing these words share in common is that they are positive attributes.

Perhaps you would prefer an Orwellian re-write of the sentence:
“Reagan was articulate, knowledgeable, passionate, and humorous. Steele, unlike Bush, shares all of those qualities.”


Jeff Goldstein and Ace are on this one... I should know better than to try and post a comment on an intolerant lefty's blog.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

SCOTUS News from Specter & Leahy

H/T Drudge

Specter did a good job at the Roberts hearings... but he seems to have lost his way in my book.

Specter Urges Delay in Replacement of O'Connor at Supreme Court

Sept. 21 (Bloomberg) -- The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said he urged President George W. Bush today to delay nominating a replacement for retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, said he talked to Justice O'Connor about staying on the high court. ``She's prepared to do that'' through the court's term ending in June, Specter said. The president ``was noncommittal,'' Specter said. ``The body language was not very positive,'' Specter said.

Specter said the delay would give Congress and the rest of America more time to know John Roberts as chief justice. ``When we know a little more about Judge Roberts it's going to be easier with the next'' nomination, Specter said.

This is just idiotic...

And I hope that Leahy's backing of Roberts (take note ,Kossacks) isn't an indication of who's going to be nominated for O'Connor's slot.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Germany's Future

Great editorial today in the Wall Street Journal regarding Germany's troubles...

But more important than these nuts-and-bolts political questions is the larger picture and its international consequences. What road will Germany take? Will it continue on the path of Franco-German social protectionism, driving Germany (and thus Europe) into permanent economic crisis and foreign-policy isolationism? Or the path of Anglo-American deregulated economies, which will finally free up Germany's enormous growth potential -- and thus inspire all of Europe and tie it more strongly to a Western alliance? The election in Germany has set things in motion. Nothing is clear and anything is possible: Weimar or "Wirtschaftswunder."

The socialist Left had as much success with class hatreds and social fears as the FDP did with its concept of greater personal responsibility and less bureaucracy. Where will the next government's compass point? Who will find the words to tell people the truth and excite their enthusiasm for change? Things are in motion, and the forces of freedom need one thing above all: faithful international friends who retain their interest in Germany. There is no alternative to the European-American relationship: Germany must not lose. It must win.

The FDP's rise is important... And the fact that the Linkspartei (the former commies & socialists who don't think Schroeder is statist enough) is engaging in nationalism should be frightful to anyone. The Germans had a clear choice - individualism and protection of the rights of the individual (promoted by the CDU/FDP) or increased submission of the individual to the state (in the form of the Left Party and the SPD)?

For now, they've chosen neither... But expect the fight over the future of Germany to continue.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Bustin' Pork

It's time to make sure that the GOP knows who brought them to the dance. I cannot stand to listen to Kerry and the Dems claim that they're more fiscally responsible. Let's show them just how responsible the GOP can be...

Cuts for Katrina
September 21, 2005; Page A26

Last week we suggested that cancellation of $25 billion in pork projects -- euphemistically known as "earmarks" -- in the recently passed Highway Bill would be a good first step to offset some of the cost of rebuilding the infrastructure in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast.

The idea of a pork-for-reconstruction swap had already been denounced as "moronic" by a spokesman for Don Young of Alaska, Chairman of the House Transportation Committee and proud father of the now-infamous $223 million "bridge to nowhere" near Ketchikan. Since then the White House and Congressional Republican leadership have been acting as if the cost of Katrina relief should have no impact on the course of an administration that has presided over the fastest growth in discretionary spending since Lyndon Johnson.

But thankfully, a grassroots Internet campaign and a handful of House GOP conservatives have refused to give up on the idea that spending cuts should be found to defray the estimated $200 billion federal price tag for hurricane relief. In the Senate, John McCain is proposing a similar pork-for-Katrina swap.

The Internet campaign picks up on the idea of revisiting the earmarks in the Highway Bill. A Web site called Porkbusters (www.truthlaidbear.com/porkbusters.php) helpfully lists these projects by state and directs readers to the appropriate Representatives and Senators to ask what they would cut. Around the country a flood of letters to local newspapers has echoed the theme.

And if revisiting the Highway Bill is too much to ask, how about a one-year moratorium on all non-defense earmarks for fiscal 2006? Rep. Ron Lewis (R., Kentucky) proposes just that in a "Dear Colleague" letter dated Monday. Other suggestions include across-the-board spending cuts at federal agencies of 2.5 cents on the dollar and delaying the introduction of the Medicare drug benefit by a year. We should be hearing more today when members of the House Republican Study Committee -- led by consistent spending hawks such as Mike Pence, Jeb Hensarling and Jeff Flake -- announce "Operation Offset" and a list of specific options to find savings in the budget.

I fear that the base won't turn out in 2006, if all they get is a bunch of Borrow and Spend GOPers that aren't willing to push through needed reforms (such as Social Security and Tax reform).

Visit N.Z. Bear's Porkbuster page and report any committments from your Reps / Senators in Congress. I know Talent & Bond will be hearing from me!

***UPDATE***
Forgot to mention that here's a list of Pork by state...

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Re-Arranging the Deck Chairs at Microsoft

Well, Microsoft is in trouble and has bet the farm on a reorg within the company. Unfortunately, I don't see how this is going to change the course of the company...

Be sure to check out blogger Mini-Microsoft, who reports "from the inside" on these changes.

Three-Part Harmony for Microsoft?
The software giant is undertaking a major reorganization, down from seven divisions to just three. More power is now in fewer hands

On Sept. 14, Microsoft (MSFT ) CEO Steven A. Ballmer sat in an empty conference room at Las Vegas' Venetian Hotel and vigorously told BusinessWeek that the company wasn't getting bogged down by bureaucracy. "We have the healthiest company in the world," Ballmer said at the time. Sure, Microsoft has a series of hoops that managers have to jump through as they coordinate efforts across divisions. But, Ballmer insisted, that wasn't getting in the way of producing great software (see BW, 9/26/05, "Steve Ballmer Shrugs Off The Critics").

Just six days later, Ballmer announced Microsoft's biggest reorganization since 2002, in part to help the company move faster. Microsoft's seven divisions will be merged into three groups -- Platform Products & Services, which includes Windows, MSN, and the Server & Tools division; the Business group, which includes Office and Microsoft Business Solutions; and the Entertainment & Devices division, which includes Xbox and the mobile devices group.

"Our goal in making these changes is to enable Microsoft to achieve greater agility in managing the incredible growth ahead and executing our software-based services strategy," Ballmer wrote in an e-mail to employees announcing the change.

Unfortunately for Ballmer, it's tough to get ahead when your key talent is heading over to your competitors. I happened to read this BW article on Monday, which gives some insight into the problems which prompted this re-org:
Troubling Exits At Microsoft
Once the dream workplace of tech's highest achievers, it is suffering key defections to Google and elsewhere. What's behind the losses?

When Microsoft Corp. (MFST ) hired computer scientist Kai-Fu Lee away from hardware maker Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI ) in 1998, the move underscored how thoroughly the software giant dominated the computer industry. Not only did it monopolize PC operating systems and hold an edge in Web browsers, but it was also vacuuming up the world's brightest technologists. Lee's expertise was in speech recognition, considered one of the next big leaps in computing. With people like him flocking to Microsoft's labs, it seemed that the digital world's reigning champion had a lock on the future.

Things didn't turn out that way. In July, Lee bolted from Microsoft for Web search king Google Inc. (GOOG), and once again his personal journey is emblematic of a shift in computing's balance of power. These days it's Google, not Microsoft, that seems to have the most momentum. Microsoft sued to stop Lee from working for the upstart, citing his noncompete agreement. But on Sept. 13 a state judge in Seattle ruled that Lee could work for Google, with some restrictions, pending a January trial. Microsoft said it was happy the judge limited the type of work Lee could do. Yet when court adjourned, Lee smiled broadly and threw both arms in the air. "I feel great," he said outside the courtroom. "I can't wait to start work tomorrow morning."

Contrast that with how Lee felt about Microsoft. During the two-day hearing he painted a distinctly unflattering picture of the company's inner workings. Lee, who opened Microsoft's research lab in China in 1998 and moved to headquarters in Redmond, Wash., two years later, fretted over what he saw as repeated missteps. In court he detailed how the more than 20 product-development centers in China tripped over one another, duplicating efforts and even fighting over the same job candidate. Lee called the company "incompetent." After the ruling he praised Google, noting, "the culture is very supportive, collaborative, innovative, and Internet-like -- and that's bottoms-up innovation rather than top-down direction.

One of the key things that Ballmer is quoted as saying in this article is the following:
"If you take a look at where we're going with innovation, what we have in the pipeline, I'm very excited. The output of our innovation is great," says Ballmer. "We won the desktop. We won the server. We will win the Web. We will move fast, we will get there. We will win the Web."

I'm sorry, but I don't think the Google execs are saying "we will win the web." And not to mention that he's full of B.S. when he says that the output of their innovation is great... keep reading for info on that. Another point of contention is that Microsoft has "won the server." I'm sorry, but Linux is making a serious charge against MSFT o/s dominance? And in the Web Server space, Apache far outstrips MSFT's IIS (68% to 21% of the market)? Likewise, Sendmail has a larger share of the mailserver market than MSFT's Exchange (41% to 10%)...

As hinted above, Microsoft has other problems. It spends a TON of cash on R&D, but can't seem to find any business value from their projects. This Fast Company article points to some of the problems (which I don't see being addressed by this re-org).
It was on November 12, 1990, in a speech at the Comdex/Fall show in Las Vegas, that Microsoft chairman Bill Gates first proclaimed his vision for "information at your fingertips" -- software that would let people easily find the data they wanted, wherever it was on their computer or office network. The new system, he promised, would arrive within three years.

Those three years passed, of course. Then another 10. Today, Microsoft is still promising information at our fingertips, now in the guise of powerful search technology built into the next generation of Microsoft's operating system, code-name Longhorn. But Longhorn, originally expected this year, remains just beyond our grasp: It now isn't likely to reach customers until 2006.
[...]
But when it comes to online search, arguably the hottest technology of the past five years, Microsoft has missed the boat. Heck, it hasn't even been near the dock.

Say the same for the Web browser (created by Netscape), the streaming media player (by RealNetworks), the game box (Sony), interactive television (TiVo), so-called smart phones (Nokia, Ericsson, and Motorola), and digital-music distribution (Napster and now Apple). Once the bellwether of the computing industry, Microsoft has watched from the sidelines as comparatively smaller, poorer companies brought to market virtually every important technical innovation of the past decade.

It's not the sort of track record that inspires confidence about Microsoft's prospects. "It's not good enough. And it's not just the incremental product innovations that matter. Microsoft's inability to create leadership in entirely new product areas . . . is a real problem," says Adrian Slywotzky, strategy guru at Mercer Consulting. "If they didn't have $61 billion in cash, if they had only $40 billion but they had dramatically stronger strategic positions in games, or [digital] music, or technology in the home -- which is where they really want to be -- then people would think very differently about this company."
[...]
Redmond, Washington, has never been a great cradle of invention. In fact, Microsoft's research labs, though enormous and enormously well funded, are also strikingly inefficient. Beyond missing big opportunities, the company has placed some very poorly conceived bets (digital toilets -- no kidding -- come to mind) and poured hundreds of millions of dollars into technologies with neither sizzle nor apparent commercial prospects (SPOT Watch, anyone?).

Given the track record of Microsoft's execs over the past... oh, 8 years (?), I'd say that something rotten is in the state of Redmond. Fortuntaely, they've got the Office and Windows cash cow to keep them afloat. However, as these positions receive challenges, MSFT must continue to invest in defending these products and forego market-making innovations.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Chafee, Roberts, and the Kossack wing of the Democratic Party

Unfortunately for the Kossacks, I don't know think that any ad can be honest about Roberts and damage Chafee - barring some ruling on Roe v. Wade before the mid-terms. However, that won't keep the Kossacks from blustering...

Chafee makes it official: Yes on Roberts
by JamesB3
Wed Sep 21st, 2005 at 07:16:19 PDT

Gear up those campaign ads
Chafee told the Providence Journal that he will vote for Roberts even though he has been concerned that Roberts would try to restrict, or get rid of, legal abortion.

The senator explained his decision by noting that Roberts would replace another opponent of abortion, the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Given that, Roberts' addition to the court should not disturb the narrow majority that favors legal abortion, Chafee said.
The questions are, at least in reference to Chafee:
  1. Will this hurt him with Rhode Island voters? They have elected liberal senators for years, but their current governor, Carcieri, is socially conservative and popular.
  2. How much will this help Whitehouse or Brown?
  3. Will NARAL rescind their endorsement, or are they going to wait and see how he votes on O'Connor's replacement?
He seems to be hinting that he may not vote for O'Connor's replacement if he/she/it is anti-abortion.

Chafee said his decision would have been tougher if Roberts was replacing retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. O'Connor has been a swing vote in abortion and other privacy-related cases.

This also pretty makes it pretty likely that Olympia Snowe will go along, since Collins and Specter are also supporting Roberts. So that gives him the full 55, if that was ever in doubt.

Well, actually JamesB3, it is likely that Roberts will get some Dems to vote for him... So, Chafee's counter-ads in Rhode Island will be pretty effective. And I think FactCheck.org will have a field day with all of slander that NARAL & Co will put into an ad attacking Chafee for his vote on Roberts.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

SCOTUS Pick - Part Deux

Despite Harry Reid's protests, John Roberts will be confirmed. I just hope that the Dems go ballistic and try to filibuster Roberts so the "Gang of 14" will vanish. The country recognizes that Roberts is qualified and no one - not Ralph Neas or anyone else - knows how he'll rule on restrictions to abortion.

But, let's talk about the next nominee - which has a much greater impact on the shape of the court, since Roberts might be a carbon copy of Rhenquist. Given the Dems' willingness to scream bloody murder over ANY nominee Bush puts up there, it seems that Bush should put up another extremely well qualified with conservative bona fides. I'm not sure why Reid & the Dems can't explain to People for the Socialist American Way that Roberts isn't the nominee to get all blustery about. Roberts demonstrated that he is imminently qualified and it's hilarious to see Harry Reid dance like a puppet to Neas manipulations.

Some are echoing my comments that Michael Luttig should be the pick... (The fact that the Kossacks have a "file" on him is instructive.) However, the pressure to nominate a women or minority are so great that it will be difficult for Bush to not take that into consideration. I would suggest Edith Clement... or Edith Jones. (Clement is the better pick in my opinion.)

I am seriously concerned about Alberto Gonzalez (current Attorney General) being put into that slot for several reasons, but primarily because he might be hearing cases that he was involved in as Attorney General. I would prefer to see Miguel Estrada as the pick or Janice Rogers Brown (what a great bios!) However, they may prove problematic, which is why I'm calling for Luttig, Clement, or Jones.

By the way, Wikipedia has a great resource for prospective picks. Also, check out Confirm Them... great blog!

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Signs that Mayor Ray Nagin isn't up for the Job


Nagin: "Everybody back... You can go BACK to your homes! All is well!!!"



FEMA's Thad Allen: "Hey, Mayor - There's another storm out in the Gulf. I wouldn't recommend that... but it's your city."



Nagin: "HOW DARE he tell MY citizens what to do."



FEMA's Thad Allen: *crickets chirping*


Nagin, 1 day later: "HOLY CR@P!!!! THERE'S A STORM COMING!!! EVERYONE OUT!!"

Rita Prompts New Orleans to Close Again
Sep 20 12:01 PM US/Eastern
By MICHAEL RUBINKAM
Associated Press Writer

NEW ORLEANS

Bars, restaurants and shops had just begun showing signs of life when the mayor suspended the reopening of the city and ordered nearly everyone to leave town again as a new hurricane headed toward the Gulf of Mexico.

The call for another evacuation came after repeated warnings from top federal officials, including President Bush, that New Orleans was not safe enough to reopen. Federal officials warned that Tropical Storm Rita _ upgraded to a hurricane Tuesday morning _ could breach the city's weakened levees and swamp New Orleans all over again.

There appeared to be little effort to enforce Mayor Ray Nagin's new evacuation order Tuesday morning, and some National Guard units were withdrawing from the city. The troops have been living tents in the city's Algiers section near a levee that officials fear could break.

Jill Sandars, a 55-year-old contract paralegal and Web site designer who lives in the French Quarter, did not evacuate before or after Katrina but said she may leave this time if New Orleans appears threatened. She said she is tired of the conflicting information from city officials about whether people should come or go.
[...]
The dispute over the reopening was just the latest example of the lack of federal-local coordination that has marked the disaster practically from the start.

Nagin saw a quick reopening as a way to get the storm-battered city back in the business of luring tourists. But federal officials warned that such a move could be a few weeks premature, pointing out that much of the area does not yet have full electricity and still has no drinkable water, 911 service or working hospitals.

With the approach of Rita, the president added his voice, saying he had "deep concern" about the possibility that New Orleans' levees could be breached again.
2 things regarding this story:
  1. It's unfortunate that the press muddles the timeline and the back & forth that took place over 2 days related to Rita's approach. Clearly they're trying to minimize the amount of incompetence that Nagin is displaying on a daily basis; and
  2. If Rita does hit and the people mentioned in this story DO NOT leave the city for safer ground, all good will towards the city of New Orleans will likely evaporate.
Perhaps not... It likely will depend on what happens as Rita approaches. I just can't imagine ANOTHER outpouring of money for "the victims of Rita."

and yes, it really is an example of the lack of Federal-State coordination. The mayor doesn't listen to the Feds and then attacks the feds.

Check out WizBang as well.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

The DUers Clarify Rather's Comments

Well, Dan Rather is looking silly:

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather said Monday that there is a climate of fear running through newsrooms stronger than he has ever seen in his more than four-decade career.

Addressing the Fordham University School of Law in Manhattan, occasionally forcing back tears, he said that in the intervening years, politicians "of every persuasion" had gotten better at applying pressure on the conglomerates that own the broadcast networks. He called it a "new journalism order."

He said this pressure -- along with the "dumbed-down, tarted-up" coverage, the advent of 24-hour cable competition and the chase for ratings and demographics -- has taken its toll on the news business. "All of this creates a bigger atmosphere of fear in newsrooms," Rather said.

And the DUers think that Old Danny Boy is right on track... check out these comments:
I wish there were more people willing to speak up about this. It's a dangerous situation for all of us.
Dangerous, indeed. Herr Rove has tracked this post and is on his way right now...

I wish he'd say it - The GOP machine controls the corporate media. Rather couches it as "politicians had gotten better at applying pressure" but we all know he really means the GOP has near total control of the corporate media.
Yes, that rabid right-wing media.

i think he was, only picking his words carefully (eom)
Yes, otherwise the sharpshooters would have taken him out.

And it's the corporate-owned media that got Dan fired, since he told the truth about 9/11 being an "inside job."
Watch the videos...of Building Seven of the World Trade Center complex when it falls. It is Dan Rather's voice you hear in his news broadcast as he says it looks just like the controlled demolitions we have seen before.

Mr. Rather had some problems with previous administrations and in his personal life before this, but I think his comment about what was clearly controlled demolition sealed his fate as a marked man with the Bush administration. There was no way that he would get anywhere with his story - even though it was true - about Bush being AWOL when he should have been reporting for his duties as a Texas Air National Guardsman.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Monday, September 19, 2005

But What About the Film Actors Guild?

Well, this is good news (From WSJ) or you can view this AP story.

North Korea Vows to Give Up Nuclear Programs
U.S., Asian Nations Offer Economic Aid and Security;
Final Deal Is Long Way Off
By GORDON FAIRCLOUGH in Beijing and CARLA ANNE ROBBINS in Washington
Staff Reporters of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
September 20, 2005

After three years of threats and stalemate, North Korea pledged to give up its atomic weapons and abandon its existing nuclear programs in exchange for economic aid and security guarantees from the U.S. and its Asian neighbors.

A final deal is a long way off and will require sweeping concessions from Pyongyang, including intrusive inspections to ensure the dismantling of its entire nuclear complex.

It will also require important concessions from the Bush administration. As part of yesterday's preliminary agreement, the U.S. said it would forswear all hostile actions against the North, eventually move toward normalizing relations and "discuss at an appropriate time" its demand for a light-water nuclear reactor.

That last-minute commitment, brokered by the Chinese, salvaged the talks. Until now, Washington had argued that the North forfeited all rights to a civilian nuclear program, warning that it might try to divert even limited technology to weapons use.

All sides' sincerity will be severely tested. A new round of talks scheduled for early November will grapple with contentious questions, including the timing and sequencing of the North's dismantlement steps versus the rewards it will reap and the intrusiveness of outside verification. A deal could founder on any of those questions.

Notably, yesterday's declaration made no specific mention of the North's alleged uranium-enrichment efforts. Pyongyang insists that its weapons program is solely plutonium-based. The U.S. insists it also has a program to secretly manufacture weapons-grade uranium -- and that, too, will have to be verifiably dismantled.

The best part about this is the fact that the reputation of the Chinese is on the line. If Kim makes them look foolish on the world stage, there would likely be serious repercussions as China does not like to lose face. Of course, this whole things is dependent on our willingness to trust the Chinese, and given some of the recent things that they have said, there's a (slim) chance that they're playing us. Unfortunately, only time will tell whether that's the case and that is one thing that is in short supply.

The biggest question on everyone's mind is what will the Film Actor's Guild do now???

See Ace, ProteinWisdom, and Austin Bay as well.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Bush, Katrina, & the WPA

Well, it looks like the big-government spending that Bush proposed last Thursday is flying like a lead balloon - at least among Bush's supporters.
(H/T NewsBusters)

Bush Katrina Ratings Fall After Speech

Survey of 1,000 Adults
September 16-17, 2005
President Bush Response to Hurricane Katrina
Excellent 17%
Good 18%
Fair 23%
Poor 41%

Favor Federal Funding for $200 Billion New Orleans Reconstruction?
Favor 50%
Oppose 27%

September 18, 2005--Thirty-five percent (35%) of Americans now say that President Bush has done a good or excellent job responding to Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. That's down from 39% before his speech from New Orleans.

The latest Rasmussen Reports survey shows that 41% give the President poor marks for handling the crisis, that's up 37% before the speech.

Fifty percent (50%) of Americans favor the main proposal from that speech--a federal commitment of $200 billion to help rebuild New Orleans. Twenty-seven percent (27%) are opposed and 23% are not sure.

The spending plan has not been well received by conservative voters--just 43% favor the huge federal commitment partisan while 37% are opposed. This is especially striking given how supportive the President's base has remained throughout his Administration.

The President's reconstruction plan is favored by 66% of liberal voters. Still, only 10% of liberals give the President a good or an excellent rating for handling the crisis

Interesting to note that only those Leftists suffering from Bush Derangement Syndrome (which I estimate to be 40% of the Dem party) are against Bush's proposal. I think the devil is in the details, so Bush & Co. have their work cut out for them. Stories about Red Cross debit cards being used to buy Louis Vitton purses for $800 and FEMA debit cards being used at strip clubs won't make things any easier. Add to that DeLay's idiotic remark that the Fed Budget is "too lean" and the GOP could be in some serious trouble.

Have they forgotten who they brought to the dance?!?!?

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Still with the buses!!!

H/T to the cr@ppy website, Raw Story.

It seems that Blanco really isn't that smart. Of course, Mary Landreiuauxouux didn't look to bright as she tried to deflect the issue of the submerged buses, either. But it's now been 3 weeks since the event and Blanco still doesn't have a clue.

Blanco says feds pledged buses
By MICHELLE MILLHOLLON
mmillhollon@theadvocate.com
Capitol news bureau

Nearly three weeks after Hurricane Katrina raged ashore, Gov. Kathleen Blanco still wants one question answered.

Where were the buses?

Hours after the hurricane hit Aug. 29, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced a plan to send 500 commercial buses into New Orleans to rescue thousands of people left stranded on highways, overpasses and in shelters, hospitals and homes.

On the day of the storm, or perhaps the day after, FEMA turned down the state's suggestion to use school buses because they are not air conditioned, Blanco said Friday in an interview.

Even after levees broke and residents were crowding the Louisiana Superdome, then-FEMA Director Mike Brown was bent on using his own buses to evacuate New Orleans, Blanco said.

During the delay, misery and mayhem mounted in the Dome, thousands gathered in desperation at the nearby convention center, and Americans watched in shock as dead and dying New Orleans residents were broadcast on national television.

The state had sent 68 school buses into the city on Monday.
[...]
Blanco is less emphatic in taking blame for the breakdown.

She said she takes responsibility "for assuming that help was on the way" when it wasn't.

Blanco said she's also learned a lesson.

"In the end, in a really dangerous, life-threatening situation, there is no army that's going to be there to save you," she said. "It's going to be person-to-person, helping each other. Some people are putting their lives on the line to help other people whose lives are at risk. And that's the bottom line."

Frankly, this sounds like she's covering her rear 3 weeks after the event. Shame that there are pics of buses that could've been used... The Army could've been on its way, but she wouldn't authorize it... without that, the President would've been violating the Constitution (an impeachable offense?) if he were to send troops in.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler