Monday, March 31, 2008

Random Reader Poll

Yes, yes, any reader we get is probably "random" in the sense of "accidental." I think most of our traffic comes from assorted fluid fetishists who mistyped "thosethingswespray."

Be that as it may, I hear from the kids that the Internets are all about "interactivity" and "participation" (you know, like democracy used to be). In that spirit, here's another of my ongoing series of random poll questions. Check out the link and vote in the comments section.

Is it:

1) A site run by and for women with an interest in soccer players' hot bodies, chiseled jaws, and strangely dressed wives and girlfriends,


2) A site run by and for "women" with an interest in soccer players' hot bodies, chiseled jaws, and strangely dressed wives and girlfriends?

Evidence for #1: Well, they all sign on with women's names. And many of the ladies do like hot men. I hear.

Evidence for #2: They all sign on with women's names. If this weren't camp-central, wouldn't there be more self-identified gay men posting?

Oh, and if you want to be all safe and lame, you can refuse the false dichotomy and vote "3) Some of both."

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Seriously? (v. 2.0)

Okay, so the Bush Administration just explained to Chinese Premier Hu Jintao that in 2006 the US military accidentally sent Taiwan not the intended helicopter batteries but rather nuclear fuse triggers. Also, it took them eighteen months to notice.

The horrifying thing is that, while I think Hilary Clinton was just lying about her sniper adventures in Bosnia, I'm at least willing to entertain the possibility that the Bush administration really did manage to accidentally send nuclear weapons parts abroad.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Really? Seriously?

From the BBC:

[Clinton's] aides earlier admitted she "misspoke" in claiming she and daughter Chelsea "ran with our heads down" when arriving in Bosnia in 1996.

In her speech last week, Mrs Clinton said: "I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base."

But a video clip played by CBS on Monday showed Mrs Clinton and Chelsea walking across the tarmac smiling and waving before stopping to shake hands with Bosnia's acting president and meet an eight-year-old girl.

Mrs Clinton said in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday: "So I made a mistake. That happens. It proves I'm human, which you know, for some people, is a revelation."

Okay. Seriously. I can see a Green Beret getting confused about when he did and didn't take sniper fire. But how often do you come under sniper fire if you're the daughter of an affluent Park Ridge family who goes to Wellesley as an undergrad, to Yale for law school, to Arkansas to live in the governor's mansion, and then to D.C. to live in the White House? How on earth do you "misremember" that or "misspeak" about that?


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Thursday, March 20, 2008


Michael Mink would like a NAFTA post and since he represents our readership (by himself) we would do well to say "yes!" when he asks for something. Michael Mink has great powers. But that's a post for another time.

a post
Mike M.

It's really difficult to post about NAFTA because the issue was picked to death when it became law in the 1990s and because it's clear a decade later that both its adherents and its detractors were wrong. It did cost American manufacturing jobs. But it created jobs in other industries including shipping, retail and high tech. Some of those jobs are not as good as the jobs that were lost, some are better. Most people say it's a wash. One of the tough things that Clinton and Obama have had to deal with is that if you're campaigning in Texas, people tend to like NAFTA. If you're campaigning in Iowa, not so much. NAFTA didn't represent a loss or gain of wealth so much as a transfer of wealth or a transfer of opportunity if you prefer.

The ability to import cheap manufactured goods allowed our economy to grow like gangbusters during the 1990s without sparking inflation. Cheap goods are deflationary. We're partly in trouble now because our falling dollar is making cheap goods less cheap. That's why everyone's so worried about inflation now. The price of oil is going up partly because the dollar is so weak and people are using other competing currencies to buy it. Still, cheap goods are deflationary. If we didn't have access to them right now, the economy would really crater.

Now this is a mixed bag but on the subject of NAFTA and trade in general -- it's somewhat good that we send our dollars away in exchange for cheap goods. It really does help people improve their lives. India and China and Brazil are really developing middle classes because of this. Less so in Mexico, though. Because it is a mixed bag. Some countries get middle classes. Some countries get to make cheap goods while being treated as virtual prisoners in sweat shops. And don't get me started about the environmental impacts of low cost production facilities.

Which means that NAFTA and all trade agreements need labor and environmental standards. This is a no brainer. Unfortunately, these standards are never implemented in trade agreements. Ever.

I believe that international trade is good. I also believe that you have the right to purchase goods from outside of the US. I am drinking an Argentinian wine right now. That's a good thing. It's tasty and a good deal. Yay for me.

But having that right doesn't mean we should let the invisible hand take over. We have a tremendous amount of influence because we are the world's largest customer.

Take Michael Mink, this blog's only reader. He wanted a post on NAFTA. He got a post on NAFTA. He has tremendous influence as he is this blog's largest customer. My big mistake was waiting for days to fulfill his request. It really was a mistake. I might have lost his loyalty. That's not good.

The US is the same way. Our trading partners might complain but in the end they really will meet labor and environmental standards if it's their only way to get our money. They will do it. Everyone knows it. Problem is, it's the multinational corporations that are based here in the US (or Bermuda, for tax purposes) who don't want us making an issue out of that. Heck, most of the time that we find companies behaving badly in other countries (putting children to work in factories or dumping sludge in rivers) those companies are either subsidiaries of US multinationals or working to fulfill contracts to US multinationals.

Will labor and environmental standards make cheap goods less cheap? No. That's where the market really will come into play. Clever business types throughout the world will find ways to make their products cheaply without abusing their workers or the planet. They simply will. Capitalism is not a system that hates regulation. It dies without it. Capitalism actually loves regulation. It loves rules. Because it can generate the most efficient solutions only when the rules are known and enforced. Capitalism tells you how to best make Y out of X under rule Z.

Because a capitalist is not the same think as a free market adherent.

So there you have it. NAFTA and trade in general is largely the moral thing to do, largely a good thing to do, but needs to be implemented according to clear and intelligent rules. Labor and environmental standards would be a start.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008


This blog is biased.

Against things that suck.

I just want to be clear on our editorial policy here.

Well, prostitutes suck and we're not biased against them.

We're biased against things that suck as an adjective, not as a verb.

We'll be having a meeting to clarify our opinion about NAFTA.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Spitzer? I Hardly Know Her!

You know, the only reason I care about in the Eliot Spitzer sex scandal is that it once again makes me giggle to hear that paying a sex worker to cross state lines is a violation of the Mann Act. I just think that's hilarious.

Otherwise, I dunno. I don't really care about sex scandals. Sure, I'm always willing to say, "Live by the sword, die by the sword" when some gay-bashing conservative Senator gets caught licking crank off some nineteen-year-old twink's cock. And I'll be willing to say the same just as soon as some straight-bashing liberal Senator gets caught settling down with an opposite-sex spouse to form a family. But Spitzer's whole schtick has always been fighting corporate corruption. So until we find out that Goldman Sachs paid the sex worker in question to goldman his sack, I don't think I care.

Nope. I don't.

Does anybody else? I mean, I'd hate to harsh a good moment of outrage

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

7.5 Tons of Angry Steel

The US Navy just christened a new amphibious assault ship the USS New York, which will interest most people primarily because 7.5 tons of the ship's steel was salvaged from the 9/11 Ground Zero.

You know, I'm always glad to raise the one-finger salute to al-Qaeda and its affiliated ghouls. But I have mixed feelings at best about this particular gesture, especially since the dedication for the ship took place in Louisiana (where the ship was built). It seems to me like a more fitting gesture would have been put that steel and that money into rebuilding the levees and the other storm-mitigation infrastructure in New Orleans. Because ultimately I think it's better to tend to one's own than to spite one's enemy.

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