Friday, October 01, 2004


So far no lava, only steam. Here's to hoping that will be all it is. Local blog of it here.

Thursday, September 30, 2004


Kerry clearly won on points. He sounded more confident, poised, and dignified. Bush often sounded petulant, defensive, repetitive. Split screens showed Bush looking impatient, smirking etc.

I still have no clear idea what Kerry will do in Iraq that is different from what Bush is already trying to do (with the exception of the magic summit at which all the nations of the world fall under the hypnotic sway of Kerry and pledge to send tens of thousands of troops to Iraq).

Clear difference on North Korea. Bush: continue six-party tracks. Kerry: do both bilateral and multilateral talks. I think Bush is correct in asserting that once Kim Jong Il gets even a whiff of American willingness to pursue bilateral talks, multilateral talks will be thrown out the window.

UPDATE: A busy day looms ahead but I'll try to post some more detailed thoughts on the differing positions on North Korea a bit later.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004


As is always the case, some of these sound-bites are probably unfairly taken out of context. Still, the aggregate impact of this "Ultimate John Kerry Ad" is pretty powerful. "Hoisted by his own petard" may prove to be JFK's 2004 epitaph.


Kim Chong Nam Posted by Hello

The eldest son of DPRK leader Kim Chong Il, Kim Chong Nam made world headlines a few years' back when he appeared in Japan with a fake passport claiming he wanted to go to Tokyo Disneyland. Now he appears in Beijing with apparently little notice or fanfare. Of course there is no Disneyland in Beijing, so what about the Chinese capital attracts the gold-chain-sporting Kim? Who knows?


I was wondering the other day what, if anything, had happened with Bush's proposed plan to combat AIDS in the world. You know, the one Bush introduced in his State of the Union Address; the one that was praised by Bob Geldof who said "You'll think I'm off my trolley when I say this, but the Bush administration is the most radical - in a positive sense - in its approach to Africa since Kennedy," My fear was that this was all merely talk that would not translate into action. Well, not exactly. A recent Washington Post article chronicles the accomplishments to date:
The Bush administration's global AIDS plan has helped put at least 25,000 people on antiretroviral therapy since it began disbursing money in February to organizations and governments in 15 targeted countries.

That estimate is contained in an interim report delivered to two congressional committees last week. It covers only nine countries. An accounting for all 15 countries will be available late this fall.
Sadly, 25,000 is barely a drop in the bucket but I guess it is a start. And there are plans for more:
Over the five years of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the program aims to treat 2 million people with ART, prevent 7 million new human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections, and provide care for 10 million AIDS orphans and infected people who do not need ART.
There has been criticism of the Bush Administration's AIDS policies to date:
The Bush plan is using expensive, brand name drugs, rather than keeping its promise to use the lowest cost drugs available. The President's promised "expedited" approval process has yet to review a single generic drug for use in the US program.
"It's disappointing that a year and a half after declaring AIDS a global emergency, we are still just 1.25% towards the treatment goal that had been announced," stated Dr. Paul Zeitz, Executive Director of Global AIDS Alliance.
"If the Administration had not rejected emergency funding of its initiative last year we would certainly be further along."
The US Congress, in its AIDS authorization bill passed last year, set a goal of 500,000 people on treatment by September 30, 2004. The Administration's performance represents 5% of what Congress had called for at this stage.
I am uninformed and, therefore, agnostic on the issue of brand-name vs. Generic drugs but I agree that progress seems maddenigly slow.


Asks Tyler Cowen (quoting Jagdish Bhagwati):
Once, Mrs Joan Robinson, my radical teacher at Cambridge University, and Professor Gus Ranis of Yale University, a 'neo-liberal' economist, were observed agreeing with each other that Korea had been a great success. The paradox was resolved when it turned out that Mrs Robinson was talking about North Korea and Professor Ranis about South Korea!
I wonder when this conversation took place. I presume some time before 1994.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004


Jane Galt takes Jimmy Carter to task for suggesting that Florida could use some international inspectors to ensure a fair and open elections takes place in November. This "suggestion" is fairly representative of her argument:
If you are going to express outrage at the Republican-controlled machine's abuse of the felon purge lists, you might want to display some token outrage at the at least equally abusive Democratic drive to register people such as illegal aliens and, oh convicted felons, who are not legally allowed to vote. Surely, in your time as an election observer, you have seen that letting people vote too many times disenfranchises legitimate voters every bit as much as not letting them vote in the first place. Failing to address both sorts of fraud might give people the erroneous idea that you care less about fairness than about Winning One For the (Democratic) Team.
She also notes that John Henke raises similar questions about consistency:
In Ohio? Not so much.

The state of Ohio is stepping in to investigate possible voter fraud in Summit County. ... More than 800 voter registration cards in Summit County are under investigation, NewsChannel5 reported.
The Board of Elections said the voter registration cards in question are for addresses that don?t exist, spelling mistakes or have similar handwriting. Fifty of those questionable cards apparently came from the AFL-CIO central office in Cleveland, WEWS reported.

Hands up if you know which major party an AFL-CIO Union is likely to support.

For bonus point, try to find a story in which Jimmy Carter gives this 1/10th the attention he has given a Florida felon list that was old news two months ago.

This is all well and good if one is interesting in scoring (or rebutting) partisan points. But there is, I think, a deeper issue here. A significant chunk of the electorate still hasn't accepted the outcome of the 2000 election as is indicated by "selected, not elected," "re-defeat Bush," "stole the election" etc. Here's a recent example of this type of rhetoric:
It was the year 2000, and Democrats were running on a record of peace and prosperity stewarded by the capable, if morally imperfect, Bill Clinton. It was a race that should have been won by their candidate, Al Gore. In fact, it was won by Al Gore, but the Rightwing Noise Machine kept it close enough to be stolen by the Republicans and their allies at the supreme court.
To be sure, had the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Gore, many Bush supporters would have been screaming the same types of things about Gore. The author of this book screamed about it despite the fact that Gore lost! I find this kind of rhetoric to be troubling and potentially dangerous. 2000 ended in a tie, but it was a tie broken by normal, established (albeit hotly contested) institutional and political procedures. "Selected not elected" rhetoric challenges the legitimacy of those procedures. If enough people lose faith in the system, there isn't much left to prop it up. Should this election be as closely contested, I fear for the repercussions. I have pretty much made my mind up to hold my nose and vote for Bush. But I would far more welcome a Kerry landslide than a 2000-style Florida debacle. Whatever the case, whoever wins will be my president for the next four years. Peace.

UPDATE: Similar but far more eloquent expressions of this sentiment can be read here.


Ralph Cossa says "yes!"

He means this in two ways: first, Seoul should promise to come completely clean on its illicit nuclear activites and allow full inspections thus making it harder for P'yongyang to continue resisting:
Seoul has been disappointingly quiet in the face of the North's allegations - as it regrettably normally is - merely dismissing the charges and calling on the North to resume negotiations. A more appropriate approach would be to challenge Pyongyang to follow Seoul's example and invite the IAEA to investigate both sides' alleged transgressions, perhaps with representatives from both North and South accompanying each inspection effort.
Seoul's embarrassing revelations can provide a way out of the crisis for North Korea if it so chooses. If renegade scientists can be blamed for Seoul's transgressions, certainly they can be discovered (or manufactured) in the North. Diplomatic niceties (and a desire by all sides to move forward) would result in acceptance of almost any North Korean excuse if the end result was full disclosure by Pyongyang of its uranium- and plutonium-based programs.

Second, the ROK should take the lead in calling for the next round of six-party talks and promise to hold them regardless of whether the DPRK shows up or not:
President Roh should seize the initiative. He should ask Beijing to arrange another round of six-party talks for early October to allow Seoul to explain fully to the other participants the nature and extent of its past nuclear programs and the steps it is taking, including full cooperation with the IAEA, in order to ensure that they are verifiably ended. Beijing should then set a date for this meeting and invite all the other parties to participate, making it clear that the meeting will proceed as scheduled, even if not all participants choose to attend. This would put the pressure on Pyongyang to attend, rather than putting the pressure on Beijing to bribe it into to make another appearance.
This is similar to the "silver lining" proposal I mentioned earlier, complete with the nod-to-realpolitik "manufacture" of renegade scientists as a face-saving way for the DPRK to back down. Of course one can wonder what would happen if the ROK and the other members of the six-party talks call the DPRK's bluff and finds out that the DPRK isn't bluffing. What then? Still probably worth a try though.


Matthew Yglesias on academic bloggers:
Academics have real jobs and will only perform the great public service of blogging about what they know if they happen to be egomaniacs.
I knew there was a reason I can't seem to stop blogging.

Monday, September 27, 2004


To me, baseball is what fills the long dry space between the NBA playoffs and the first college football game. I'll watch a play-off game or two, especially if the Red Sox are involved (glutton for punishment). But I have to say that I can't disagree much with these suggestions for improvement from Ramble On.
Rather than WiFi my proposal to enliven the game would include shorter games, aluminum bats, and position rotation, and maybe more player on steroids. Or better yet, make the field a rectangle, lose the gloves add shorts, eliminate bases or bats and add goals, make the ball much bigger, only allow players to use their feet, and make the object of the game is to kick the ball in the goal.


and watch this. Very cool! (Thanks to The Shape of Days for the link).


Appearing in my backyard.

View out my back window Posted by Hello

UPDATE: The nascent autumnal colors are slightly more visible if you click on the photo to view the enlarged version.

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