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The Third Estate
What Is The Third Estate?
 Everything
What Has It Been Until Now In The Political Order?
Nothing
What Does It Want To Be?
Something

Oh No!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Molly Ivins has passed away. Goodbye Molly! I'll miss you!
Posted by Arbitrista @ 8:42 PM

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Joe Klein Does A Pinata Impersonation

I don't hate Joe Klein as much as some people, but for sheer comic delight you cannot miss the comments on his latest blogpost. Yegads!
Posted by Arbitrista @ 4:21 PM

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Bad Biden! No Biscuit!

As promised, I am going to defend Clinton, Edwards, and Obama from Biden's critique. I am not going to obsess about the controversy about Biden's remarks - I listened to the tape, and I think people who are accusing Biden of being a racist are being a little harsh. Instead, I want to focus on his other comments slamming his rivals.

Biden calls Hillary's plan to cap troop levels in Iraq a disaster, claims that Barack Obama doesn't have the experience to be President and lacks specificity in his Iraq proposals, and says that Edwards' plan to withdraw 40,000 troops will result in chaos and the end of American influence in the region.

Other than the jibe at Obama's experience, all of Biden's critiques revolve around the competing Iraq policies. Given Barack's speech yesterday, it is unfair to say that he lacks specificity - he wants a phased withdrawal and benchmarks. That's as clear as any other proposal out there.

Hillary, Obama, and Barack are each clearly trying to prevent a surge and apply pressure to the Iraqi government through a variety of means. This seems like a reasonable policy as far as it goes. I fail to understand why their strategies are prima faciae any less realistic or responsible than Biden's plan of de facto partionment. The difficulty with Iraq policy (other than the risks of political demagogy) is that every plan carries with it the possibility of intensified civil war or even a regional war. I see no reason to call any of the plans a "disaster" or claim that the people proposing them "don't know what they are talking about."

Some civility with your fellow Democrats, and a little humility regarding your own policy please Senator.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 3:28 PM

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The Media Have Learned Nothing

Tuesday, January 30, 2007
The press's total inability to cover politics in this country with anything remotely approaching discretion or judgment is already on display with respect to the 2008 Presidential race.

Exhibit A: Barack Obama is a cypher.

Exhibit B: Hillary vs. Barack is neat.

Exhibit C: John Edwards is shady.

Exhibit D: Hillary Clinton is rude.

Exhibit E: Hillary Clinton thinks her husband is evil.

It's going to be a very long 2 years.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 3:26 PM

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How Not To Reduce the Deficit

Andrew Sullivan to liberals:

Some things the left won't tell you:

Current tax revenues of 18.4% of GDP are now above the historical average.

The 2006 tax revenues of $2,407 billion were $47 billion above the level projected by CBO before the 2003 tax cuts, and just $58 billion below the level projected by CBO in 2000, before the 2001 tax cuts.

Capitals gains tax revenues have more than doubled to $103 billion since the 2003 capital gains tax cuts.

We don't need tax hikes; we need spending cuts, especially on middle class entitlements, corporate welfare, and agricultural subsidies.


This liberal to Andrew Sullivan:

I was curious about your information regarding the tax burden as a share of GDP and took a look at the data myself. The CBO indicates that in 2000 taxes as a share of GDP were 20.9%, while spending was 18.4%, while in 2006 taxes were 18.4% and spending 20.3%. This indicates that tax receipts have fallen since 2000 to the tune of two and a half percent. The Heritage Foundation's argument rests on the estimates of future tax revenue and spending rather than the reality, but every reasonable person knows how wildly optimistic these estimates usually are. The reality is that federal tax revenue as a share of GDP is down considerably. If it had remained constant (if there had been no tax cuts) we would still be in surplus. If there had been no tax cuts and no Iraq War, we would have a very substantial surplus, particularly when one considers net lower interest payments.

You claim that we must cut spending. I would certainly agree that reducing corporate welfare would be handy, but why to I suspect that this reduction would be used to justify another corporate tax cut? I don't know much about agricultural subsidies, but I know they run to the tune of 35 billion - a lot of money, but if you eliminated it entirely you would still have a 200 billion dollar deficit. But what I find most troubling is your suggestion that we "cut middle class entitlements." Given the generation-long stagnation of middle class incomes, does this strike you as wise? Even a cursory examination of the data reveals that the major "middle class entitlement" driving budget spending are medicare and medicaid, which together increased from 17% to 25% of the budget. But this is not a free-wheeling Congressional pork barrel orgy or an "entitlement" craze, but a health care policy problem.

It's not "entitlement spending" per se that's causing our budget problems. It's a broken health care system and irresponsible tax cuts targetted to those who have already enjoyed dramatic income gains. Furthermore, I see it as irresponsible budget policy to demand that the only acceptable method of reducing the debt is cutting programs or benefits with massive political support. If you are waiting for dramatic reductions in farm subsidies, corporate welfare, and medicare to balance the budget - you're going to be waiting a very, very long time.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 3:22 PM

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The Democrats Must Act

The 2006 elections were not a victory. They were an opportunity. While we may breathe more easily knowing that we are no longer subject to reactionary one-party rule, all we have truly gained is the potential to prevent further harm to the country. It will take political will on the part of our new Democratic majority if matters are to improve. And more, it will require a recognition that any meaningful opposition to the Bush administration's reckless policies is likely to lead to a constititutional crisis.

Not to say we are not in such a crisis already. We have been, and for years. The difference is that now rather than an creeping crisis - the kind easy to ignore - we will have a dramatic one.

Yesterday's executive order is a good example. The Bush administration has issued an executive order requiring federal agencies to rout all public statements through a political appointee. These party hacks closely resemble the "Deputy on Mission" during the French Revolution and the Party Officers under the Soviets. Their mandate is to enforce ideological purity on their charges, to make sure that nothing contradicting His Master's Voice will ever reach the public.

Bush's latest maneuver represents a number of dangers. The most obvious is that by muzzling federal agencies and distorting their reports, he will be able to further his agenda of selling government policy to the highest (corporate) bidder, gutting environmental laws and perverting scientific research.

This is also a part of an effort to convert the federal service into an arm of the Republican party. For years they have worked to gut civil service protections, suborning federal agencies where they could not pack them. Their radical policy is to return to the corruption and incompetence of the spoils system.

But the most serious consequence of this action is to further concentrate power in the hands of the executive. No President - not even Nixon - has done more to undermine the constitutional balance of powers than Bush. Signing statements, warrantless spying, the attack on the Courts, the smothering of dissent, the gross expansion of the role of "commander in chief," and now the annexation of independent federal agencies - all of these are of a piece: unconstrained executive power. It would be redundant to explain how antithetical these imperial ambitions are to the principle of free government.

Every President has attempted to control the bureaucracy, and every Congress has resisted such encroachments. Every Congress but the last one. It is now up to the Democratic Congress to right the balance. It is inevitable that Bush will oppose every effort to constrain his power, but the Democratic majority can take confidence in the fact that the American people have long since abandoned this President. He is alone, and must be reduced to the discredited triviality that the will of the people and the defense of the Constitution requires.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 8:01 AM

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But I Don't Like Next Generation!

Monday, January 29, 2007
via Canada.


Jean-Luc Picard

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?


An accomplished diplomat who can virtually do no wrong, you sometimes know it is best to rely on the council of others while holding the reins.

There are some words which I have known since I was a schoolboy. "With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censored, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably." These words were uttered by Judge Aaron Satie -- as a wisdom, and warning. The first time any man's freedom is trodden on, we're all damaged.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 2:20 PM

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People Who Irritate Me Today

Sunday, January 28, 2007
1) Rick Jacobs, who thinks that Californians should have more influence over presidential nominations. His solution is moving the primary to February - the implicit aim being to replace Iowa and New Hampshire with California as the nominating kingpin. Tell me Rick, what is so damned special about your state - or any other state - that it should be able to determine presidential nominees? I hate it when people criticize others for a sin they themselves would gladly commit.

2) Andrew Sullivan, who appears oddly obsessed with testosterone. Sullivan furthers the silly idea that the Democrats' problem is that they haven't been butch enough. Tell me Andy, what good has all the preening frat boy "masculinity" of the current administration gotten us? James Webb isn't impressive because he's manly. He's impressive because he has forcefully and cogently laid out the Democratic critique of the Bush administration. Anyone who thinks that Webb's military background somehow protects him from attacks on his patriotism have entirely forgotten the 2004 election. Oh, and Andrew also asserts that Webb doesn't "sound like a Democrat" because he's got medals and comes from a military background. Quick Sullivan - give me a head count of the number of congressman who are veterans in both parties. Who's got more? You guessed it - the Democrats.

3) The drivers of my state, who are completely unwilling to use their turn signals. I am not exaggerating. It happens every. single. day.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 10:05 PM

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Huckabee Flare-out

I've been reading a lot about how Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas is the dangerous "sleeper" candidate for the Republicans. I'm watching him get dissected by Tim Russert on Meet the Press right now, and all I can say is - color me not impressed. He's raised taxes every year in his second term and wouldn't rule out an increase if elected, supports Bush's policy in Iraq (except for his use of the national guard - gee Mike, are you expanding the army?), and comes off as a religious nut who wants to ban abortion.

Still looking for a Republican candidate I'm scared of.......
Posted by Arbitrista @ 10:13 AM

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Get Well B.B. King

Saturday, January 27, 2007
The King of the Blues is in the hospital. Here's hoping for his speedy recovery, because the thrill is most definitely not gone.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 9:35 AM

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Boycott CNN

Thursday, January 25, 2007
Recently CNN personality used the word "faggot" on the heir and has refused to apologize for it. I hadn't really focused on the story, because I just assumed that CNN would say it was sorry, and then lean on Beck until he said he was sorry, and that would be the end of it (until Beck's next contemptible comment).

But now it turns out that CNN is actually defending Beck. This is a remarkable boneheaded move, but I don't know why I'm surprised - CNN has been a pretty boneheaded company ever since Ted Turner sold them. There's the obvious economic implications - gays will put pressure on advertisers, who will freak out and tell CNN to fire Beck or else. And of course there's the simple moral objections - CNN shouldn't support a homophobe.

For me what's particularly discouraging is CNN's flagrant disregard for the public debate. Over the last several years they have worked busily to imitate FOX News, with splashy graphics, slanted coverage, lazy reporting, and obnoxious right-wing hosts. I fell out of love with CNN a long time ago, still watched it sometimes.

Not any more. If they want to be FOX News, I will treat them accordingly. Until they fire Glenn Beck, I will never watch that channel again. Ever. I suggest you do the same.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 6:29 AM

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Good Help Is Hard To Find

Wednesday, January 24, 2007
I'm a liberal, a grad student, an office peon. I get it, I know oppressed. But when somebody agrees to a contract in which he agrees to work 40 hours a week, takes the data he's supposed to code, and then disappears......well that just pisses me off. This guy did some work the first day, no problem. Then he kept "forgetting" to email his daily results. Then he stopped responding to my email and phone calls. Then he refused to respond to my boss's email and phone calls. So as far as I know, he's gone and he's not coming back.

Guess who's going to end up doing all of his work?
Posted by Arbitrista @ 6:28 PM

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National Primary? More Like End Game

Tuesday, January 23, 2007
With California and Florida considering moving their presidential primaries to February and Hillary Clinton's wholesale abandonment of the public financing system, our system for electing Presidents is now finally and completely broken. The McGovern-Frazier/public financing system set up in the 1970's is now quite irretrievably dead.

I am a liberal, and therefore think that change need not always be for the worse. But when it comes to nominating Presidents, every new system seems worse than the one before. I wasn't in love with the current system, but this new development is just a disaster.

If you thought that wealthy interests and the press had influence over the campaigns before, you'd better strap yourselves in - because you ain't seen nothin' yet. The new "national primary" will make money and media attention the sole criterion for political success. Sorry Kos, but you're dead wrong about this:

I know lots of people cling to some romantic ideal of the "retail politics" that early small state primaries and caucuses allow. Me, I want a nominee who 1) can wage an effective media war, and 2) can raise gobs of money. That's how a general election is won, and I want a candidate that has the proven skillset necessary to win the November contest. And people-powered politics means that a true grassroots candidate (e.g. Dean) can compete with establishment candidates.


Kos is the one engaging in romanticism. His guy lost, remember?

The system Kos is supporting would allow the mainstream media and big party donors to have complete power to pick the nominee - a fact betrayed by Kos's own emphasis on "waging the media war" and "raising gobs of money". Funny, I thought the "netroots" hated those people.

A grass roots candidate would only have an opportunity in the new system if he or she was the only one running, and could monopolize a source of support in the way Dean did. That's a heck of a gamble. It's just as likely that we'll have one "establishment candidate" competing against multiple insurgents - precisely what we are seeing now.

Even if there were a "brokered convention," it wouldn't be the grass roots that would pick the nominee, but the very establishment Kos so loathes. That's the way the old "open" conventions always worked.

The new money primary + national primary system being created combines the worst of the pre-1960's and post-1960's systems. It will combine all the insiderism and backrooms of the party boss era with the big money and media influence of today.

Sounds like heaven - if you're a Republican.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 3:24 PM

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Why I Am Pro-Choice

Monday, January 22, 2007

Blog for Choice Day - January 22, 2007


It's Blog For Choice Day. I've written many many times about why I am a defender of abortion rights, why I am a feminist, and why I think women are people. Of course, those are all identical statements. But aside from the philosophical irresistibility of the pro-choice position, I have one very simple set of reasons to be a pro-choice liberal:

It could be me.

If I were a woman and got pregnant today, I would get an abortion. It's not because I can't afford one (though I can't). It's not because I'm not married (I am). It's not even that I wouldn't like a kid (I would). It's just that I don't want one right now.

End of discussion.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 9:31 PM

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You Can Pick Up All Sorts Of Things Without Trying

via Seeking Solace

You know the Bible 79%!
 

Wow! You are truly a student of the Bible! Some of the questions were difficult, but they didn't slow you down! You know the books, the characters, the events . . . Very impressive!

Ultimate Bible Quiz
Create MySpace Quizzes

Posted by Arbitrista @ 11:12 AM

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A Hopeful Sign?

Saturday, January 20, 2007
I'm watching CSPAN right now waiting for Brazen to wake up, and 3 callers in a row from both sides of the political aisle just said that we need public financing of elections. I know that people who call into CSPAN at 7AM are scarcely representative, but it's still nice to see that there are people who care about this as much as I do.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 7:10 AM

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Pushing On A Wet Noodle

Do you remember when the U.S. used to make stuff? Y'know, things other than houses (built with illegal immigrant labor) and fast food?

Neither do I.

I grew up in the 1980's, by which point it was common knowledge that American-made products were of inferior quality and higher price than foreign goods. If you wanted the latest electronic equipment, it was made in Japan. If you wanted to buy a fancy car, it was German. If you wanted to buy the coolest clothes, they were made in someplace strange-sounding like Pakistan.

Given 2 decades of consuming experience, I'm just not surprised that no matter how much the dollar falls, the trade deficit remains stubbornly high. The theory is that if the value of the dollar is lower, then American-made products will be less expensive, and thus will gain in market share due to their lower price. But this hasn't happened. The NY Times thinks its a mystery. But to me it's perfectly obvious.

It doesn't matter how much the dollar falls if foreign workers are getting paid 1/10 as much as Americans (are you going to cut 90% of the dollar's value? I didn't think so). And it really doesn't matter if no one wants to buy any of your crap. Seriously, what can we sell to other countries that they would want? Our non-existent consumer electronics? Our crappy cars?

Unless American companies stop killing themselves with incompetence & greed, and unless we start re-examining our trade and industrial policies, the next generation of Americans is going to grow up in a 3rd world country. Because you see, that's what happens to indebted nations who have nothing anybody else wants to buy - you become poor.

But hey, who cares? We'll all be under water anyway.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 6:24 AM

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Premature Swiftboating

Friday, January 19, 2007
Fox News had a story claiming that since Barack Obama went to school in Indonesia when he was 6, he is a Muslim. After all, his father was Muslim (actually he was non-practicing, but who maybe that was just a cover, right?. They then imply that he's a "mole" for muslim extremists who want to destroy America - an idea recently propagated on fringe right-wing websites. I am not making this up.

I've noticed that over the last few years smearing the other party's candidates is getting just as frontloaded as the primary process. Used to be Democratic candidates got attacked when they were the nominees. Then they started getting attacked when they were the frontrunner. Last cycle the Republicans attacked every major candidate in the primaries. Now they're going after people who haven't even officially announced yet.

I think what's really going on is that the Republicans are scared shitless. They're going to throw everything they can think of at every Democrat they can find and hope something sticks. I'll tell you what though. If we're still in Iraq in 2008, none of it will.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 1:49 PM

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How the Fuck Does This Guy Have A Law Degree?

Attorney General Albert Gonzalez claims that the Constitution gives no explicit right of habeas corpus. Either he is a spectacularly brazen liar, or he honestly doesn't know that Article I Section 9 states that:

The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.


In either case, Gonzalez should be disbarred - either for manifest incompetence or active subversion of the law. He should then be tied up in a room, fed with a feeding tube, and left there without due process. Just so he knows the consequences of his policies.

Unbelievable.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 11:49 AM

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Yesterday Was A Good Day

Thursday, January 18, 2007
I have a brand new MacBook!

IMG_1808

Hussy finally got as tired of hearing about my crappy PC as I was of owning it, so on Monday she said "How about you just get a MacBook?" My response? "Let's go to the store!"

Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha!
Posted by Arbitrista @ 7:23 AM

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2008 Ground Rules

Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Absurdly enough, the 2008 elections have already begun. The media is breathlessly hyping (and denigrating) various potential presidents while candidates scramble for position and resources. And unfortunately the intra-party skirmishing has already begun. It's not even the end of January and liberal blogs are already energetically bashing candidates whom they may wind up supporting. I've heard it all already - Hillary is a sell-out, Obama is an empty suit, Edwards is insincere, blah blah blah.

Do I have a favorite in this race? Of course I do. But I find it foolhardy to viciously attack the other candidates simply because I find a different one preferable. The truth is that any of the candidates would make an acceptable nominee. Whether it's Clinton, Edwards, Obama, Gore, Vilsack, Biden, Richardson, Clark, Dodd, or any other serious candidate (i.e. not Sharpton or Kucinich) - if any of them should win the nomination, I will happily work for their victory in November. None of them are perfect - each of them is a mix of strengths and weaknesses. Which shouldn't be surprising, because they are human beings. None of them agrees with me on absolutely everything. Also not surprising, since they are not me.

Can we all please accept that each of the candidates are honorable people of good will, that each wishes the best for the country, and that each will likely do the right thing most of the time? All of them are liberals, all are Democrats, and all them are competent individuals who agree with the principles we adhere to: economic equality & security, international cooperation, social justice, and cultural tolerance. It is just silly to reach for our swords because someone has a slightly different take on these issues, or is a bit more cautious (or daring) than we would be.

In short, in our eagerness to find the non-existent "perfect" candidate, let us not forget what our true purposes. Let us not forget who the real enemy is. It is just juvenile and short-sighted to tear down the leaders of our party in the name of political idolatry or ideological purity. Attacking our own only makes it easier for the Republicans and D.C. pundits to ruin us.

In this spirit of intra-party charity, I am taking on my personal mission for the 2008 primary campaign. While I will choose one of the announced candidates to actively support, I will strive to never say anything derogatory about any of the other candidates. But I will go further: should any one else level an attack at another Democratic candidate, I will defend that candidate - even if it is my favorite candidate attacking one of his rivals. I will defend the integrity and qualifications of each of these candidates from one another, and I challenge every other Democrat to do the same.

And who knows? Maybe we could actually have a campaign about what is the best for the country, rather than about hairdo's and innuendo.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 8:23 AM

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At Least I Know Who My Beatrice Is

Monday, January 15, 2007
via Polyopia

You scored as Dante Alighieri. According to you most of humanity will spend at least some of their afterlife in hell. You have a high likelihood of being exiled, but anyone as bloody fucking romantic as you deserves what they get. You have an exceptional moral code, overshadowed by the fact that you yourself cannot uphold it.

Your existence bears a definite irony, although of fairly Christian morality, many pagans, satanists, communists, and intellectuals admire you and your works for all the wrong reasons.

Also, the brighest star in your sky is never going to be your lover...

It takes a lot of grief to be the cartographer of hell.

Dante Alighieri

92%

C.G. Jung

75%

Adolf Hitler

58%

O.J. Simpson

50%

Miyamoto Musashi

50%

Stephen Hawking

50%

Friedrich Nietzsche

42%

Jesus Christ

42%

Elvis Presley

33%

Mother Teresa

25%

Steven Morrissey

25%

Hugh Hefner

17%

Charles Manson

17%

Sigmund Freud

0%

What Pseudo Historical Figure Best Suits You?
created with QuizFarm.com
Posted by Arbitrista @ 9:39 PM

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Dynasty Watch

Friday, January 12, 2007
from the Boston Globe via MyDD:

No no no! Being the daughter and spouse of members of congress does not qualify you for the Senate! Start with something else! Run for the 3000-member New Hampshire state legislature or something!

Criminey.

P.S. Reflections from Ipodland: Does liking Duran Duran make me gay? Just asking.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 3:18 PM

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Sting Like A Butterfly, Float Like A Brick

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, my dissertation advisor thought I should go back and collect some more data. I started working on it and came up with an estimate of how long it would take - about 2 months, which would delay my completion date from fall of 07 to spring of 08 and probably cause my early death.

Okay, I didn't tell him the last part.

I was hoping his basic decency and consideration for the (delicate) state of my soul would bring him around to my point of view: better a half-ass dissertation today than a good one tomorrow.

No deal. Apparently my powers of persuasion leave much to be desired.

Now where's my bottle of Glenlivet?
Posted by Arbitrista @ 3:13 PM

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I've been BSOD'd

Thursday, January 11, 2007
That's "blue screen of death" for the uninitiated. It's happened a couple of times in the last few days, after periodic clicking noises from my computer. Scary stuff. I just know I'm going to spend all weekend trying to fix it.

As God as my witness, I'll never own a PC again!
Posted by Arbitrista @ 8:09 AM

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Making Me Laugh

The Washington Post discussing the difference between blogs and "real" journalism:

The common journalistic practices of verifying facts, seeking both sides of a story and subjecting an article to editing are honored mostly in the breach. Innuendo and rumor ricochet around the Internet as blogs link from one to another, at times making defamatory voices indistinguishable from the many others involved in this experiment of free expression.



Oh god. No. Stop. My sides are hurting. Can't stop laughing. It's just too funny. What a bunch of comedians. Ow.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 6:36 AM

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A Meme

Wednesday, January 10, 2007
I've never tried starting one of these, but here goes....

Listening to my spiffy new ipod (thanks Brazen!) while I work, I have realized that there are some songs that make you drop whatever it is you're doing and just listen. It doesn't matter how many times you've heard it, or how objectively "good" the song is. It's just that it speaks to you in some way.

So here's my question. Can you name 3 songs that always force you to stop and listen?

Here's my list:

1) John Lennon's "Working Class Hero"

2) Beethoven's "Moonlight" Sonata #14

3) U2's "One"

Your turn.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 12:48 PM

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Changing the Blogroll

I've been updating my blogroll a bit. If you're a reader and I don't link to you, let me know!

Among the political blogs, you might notice a few changes. I linked to Andrew Sullivan for a while, deciding he was the reasonable sort of Republican - and therefore interesting to read. I probably will still read him, but as Brazen said, a link is an implicit endorsement. Given Sullivan's recent embrace of escalation in Iraq, tired accusations that the Democrats are moving "hard left," and comments that social security privatization is a good thing - well, I can't in good conscience keep him there.

Which goes double for David Sirota. Sirota is a committed idealist, and I value his contribution to the cause of good government. But if there is anyone who resembles the caricature of the "angry liberal" it's Sirota. He bashes Republicans with a great deal of energy, which is fine. But he spends most of his time attacking Democrats - and I don't mean Lieberman types, either. For some reason he reserves special ire for liberal Democrats who don't think compromise is a dirty word. Just because you have an interest in actually accomplishing something doesn't make you a sellout. Barack Obama and Barney Frank are two of our brightest, most eloquent liberal leaders. Leave them alone.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 6:41 AM

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Liberty vs. Money

Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Let me see if I have this right: Bush & Co. think that while checking containers at the airport is too expensive and complicated, there's nothing wrong with reading our mail, spying on us, and detaining us without a warrant? So the so-called War on Terror is worth sacrificing our liberties, but it's not worth spending a little money?
Posted by Arbitrista @ 6:30 AM

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Things Have Returned To The Natural Order

Monday, January 08, 2007
Brazen Hussy is back. Yay!

P.S. I'm with OW. What the hell is Matt Stoller's (& David Sirota's) beef with Barack Obama? It's like a vendetta or something, holding him to a different standard than any other D in the country. What does Matt think would happen if the Dems cut funding for Iraq? We'd be crucified.

P.P.S I agree with everything Zach Roth says in this article. Oh and by the way, Stoller - did you notice that "Mr. Doesn't Lead" is leading on this subject?
Posted by Arbitrista @ 7:13 AM

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Do You Want To Know How To Identify A Frontrunner?

Saturday, January 06, 2007
(WaPo)

"...many Democratic organizations and candidates across the country have come to rely on Obama to draw a crowd."

P.S. Why am I up at 730 on a Saturday? Ask the dog. :(
Posted by Arbitrista @ 7:34 AM

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Psssst.

Friday, January 05, 2007
Hey. Over here.

I'm supposed to be working right now, but I really really don't feel like. So I'm cruising the internet instead. But I look like I'm working.

Don't tell anybody.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 2:47 PM

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Peace In Our Time

You might not believe it, but Misha used to hate the dog. A lot.

IMG_1743

Don't ask me what they were looking at. I never could figure it out.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 7:11 AM

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A Quick Policy Idea

Thursday, January 04, 2007
If Bush is so eager for tax cuts from small businesses to offset the cost of a hike in the minimum wage, how about we see him and raise? Since a tax cut would be permanent, let's have a permanent increase in the minimum wage too - by indexing it to inflation.

And just to make sure that the tax cut for small business really is a tax cut for small business, let's make sure the tax change is specifically for small businesses (by capping the effects based on size), and targeted to those that actually have employees (rather than the fake kind in which rich people self-incorporate to lower their tax bill). I don't know enough about tax policy to be able to say exactly what tax should be changed. I just know what I'd be looking for.

The Republicans get a lot of mileage pretending to defend small businesses. Of course they really don't care about small business at all - all they care about are big corporations and wealthy investors. Let's expose them for what they really are while helping working people at the same time.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 6:57 AM

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It's Still Possible

Actual journalism, I mean. Weird.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 6:51 AM

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Dissertation Blues

Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Dear Luckybuzz: I know how you feel.

I don't talk about it much, but I also have working on my dissertation. See, I'm a member of the club too! It's been dragging on for years now, in part because of the delays & inconviences that life has an irritating way of generating. But 2007 is supposed to be my big year, the year I finally finish. I'm this close to finishing my data collection. For the last few months I've been zooming merrily along, but now there are more of those predictably tedious obstacles:

1) My advsior (who is great, actually) has surprised me by suggesting I need to go back and collect some more data (and he NEVER says I need to do more! Whenever I suggest something else, he says I shouldn't do it.)

2) The stuff I'm doing at work right now is virtually identical to what I'm doing for my data collection. And there is just NO WAY I can do something for my job for 8 hours and then go home and do it for hours more. I would just go crazy.

So there goes another month down the drain.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 9:29 AM

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Teenagers 1, Arrogant Pundits & Fantasy Novelists 0

Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Happy New Year everybody! I hope everyone has sobered up from what I am sure was an extravaganza of partying. :)

Okey dokey, I'm just going to dive into one of the many things I want to talk about. I'm sure some of you saw this pretty elegant post by Skadhi (who is only 16!!!) at Lacrimae Rerum defending atheism (I found it of course on Pharyngula). Along with splash around Richard Dawkins' book The God Delusion (which I am seriously considering picking up), there is apparently some push-back against all the fundamentalist weirdness of the last few years.

I find it refreshing but also a little absurd that a teenager appears to have a better grasp of philosophical argument that Cal Thomas or C.S. Lewis. The obviously self-satisfied Thomas (will you look at his picture!) trots out the long-debunked Pascal's Wager - that if we believe in God and he's not there, we lose nothing, while if we don't believe in God and he is there, we're going to hell. The major problem being of course that this a) says nothing about the truth of any particular religion, and b) treats religious faith as a "get out of jail free" card. Come on, are you really going to have faith in something because of the goodies it might get you, or the harm it might avoid? Is that really faith at all?

The person that really cracks me up is C.S. Lewis. His trilemma asserts Jesus' claims to divinity either make him a liar, insane, or telling the truth. Um, Lewis? Jesus never explicity says "I am divine" in biblical text. And even if he did, how do we know what's written in the bible is an accurate representation of Jesus' words?

Frankly most of the arguments used by the Christian right gives theism a bad name. If there is going to be an argument about the existence of God, it should use the best arguments. Regrettably our current debate has been dominated not by quality but by volume and intimidation from the Christian majority. I'm sorry folks - a temper tantrum does not constitute logical validity.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 8:47 AM

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