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Friday, December 30, 2005

Downloading dollars

The comfort grift, that rancid dodge played on a soft public hungry for security in a violent world, was so easy for them. Did that mean that every gesture in the war on terror had to be empty? Some things would have been easier to do than swallowing a pretzel. But we all know how hard that can be.

Keep in mind, we're not just talking about al Qaeda's hackers, or insurgents in Iraq playing open-source warfare against our troops. Cybercrime isn't limited to the evilest doers. It's a growing scourge on an increasingly digitized society, attracting low-level scum and rank criminals too. It's not altogether surprising, knowing how the Bush Administration operates, that there was a cut in the Department of Homeland Security's 2005 research budget for cybersecurity of 7 percent.

No, the disturbing thing is this budget is $16 million total. That's right: million. Not billion. Million. Who can still feel cozy in this Potemkin-thick fort of Dubya-brand security?

Consider that even the numbskulls at Fox News had the sense to acknowledge last month that cyber crime is potentially, if not actually, more profitable than drug trafficking. The average taxpaying family in this country is far more concerned about someone electronically pilfering their assets, and their bedroom privacy, than whether Pablo Escobar's nephew is turning tricks in Miami. Now consider the staggering amount spent fighting the war on drugs.

While Bush is driving us to hell in a Humvee, it's not at all refreshing to know that Democrats are nowhere. They bitch that no one notices their security bona fides and claw their hair out when the public still gives the security nod rightward. How about actually crafting a security policy that makes sense to people where they live? Believe CHB, they're receptive.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Worst holiday break ever

We already know where all the teaspoons go. Now we know, definitively, where the crazy go. Thank you, Mr. President. The kid's a lock for "Most Likely to Fall Off Face of Earth" come yearbook time.

It's better than other possibilities, i suppose.

Santa don't need no stinkin' badges

First came the devastating "news" that Santa is a Republican. As the invaluable Gen. JC Christian patriotically asked: "Will the White House Santa promote an ownership society by taking toys from middle-class and poor children and giving them to the more deserving children of the wealthy."

Now CHB sees that Santa has more than America-hating Democrats to contend with...he also faces mask-wearing, dynamite-planting, Christmas-exploding terrorists. That's right, frightened children, your holiday (nay, your very living room) is on the front lines of the Global War on Terror.

Luckily, Santa and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms have your back.

Remember, the CCRKBA (which strikes me as verily Soviet, with all those cyrillic-looking consonants) is the common-sense gun lobby.

Be afraid. Verily.

Go Big Red

Nebraska 32

Michigan 28

Just when you thought nothing good could come out of Texas...

CHB husks up some links:



Lincoln Journal Star Huskers Extra

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

What's black and white and red all over?

No wonder he doesn't read the newspapers. It's far more fun to go waterboarding with their editors.
President Bush has been summoning newspaper editors lately in an effort to prevent publication of stories he considers damaging to national security. (WaPo 12-26)

It's not just people this guy loves torturing -- but logic too. The ugliest side of his administration is coming into a fuller public view. And Dubya's solution? Eliminate the view. It's pure rightwing escapism...or is that scaphism?

Update: Across the Atlantic, our car dealer/ambassador to the Court of St. James apparently hasn't yet received the newest set of talking points. Rather than trying to gag the press, Robert Tuttle continues to simply lie.

The U.S. doesn't ship folks to grim foreign locales for Q&A/S&M, Tuttle tutted.
It is the second time in recent weeks that Mr Tuttle has had to correct misleading statements about the actions of US forces, and provoked a fresh outcry from Labour MPs over the practice of extraordinary rendition. (Independent UK)

Maybe they know not their sins? No. They do. But the rest of us will continue paying the price.

Update II: the Updatery

NYPutzer (sorry, NYPoster) John Podhoretz and the groovy folks at Fox News are now claiming the NYT and other ``journalistic outlets'' are ``against the war on terror'' for spilling the truth.

Are they really so lazy that they have to recycle these totally tired lines? Yup.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Capable of telling two lies at once?!?

A rare photo of the fabled Bushtrout, that slippery catch able to contradict itself in real time?

No, humans. Just another fishtale from the homeland...

Clarence Olberding, 57, wasn't just telling a fisherman's fib when he called over another angler to look at the two-mouthed trout. It weighed in at about a pound. "I reached down and grabbed it to take the hook out, and that's when I noticed that the hook was in the upper mouth and there was another jaw protruding out below," said Olberding. He said in his 40 years of fishing, he's never seen anything like it.

We've never seen anything like Bushpotus, either. We wish we'd thrown him back a looong time ago.

More "fun" with quotes...

In the annals of sad, very bad, no good, altogether terrible days, we've had a few major tear-jerkers lately. Sure, 9-11 was right up there. Election night last year, not so happy-making either -- very much like the day we invaded Iraq, the day Bush decided it was okay to spy on Americans without a court's approval or even the day an inert Terri Schiavo was dragged through the gutters by politicians mad on morbid self-gratification. We could reach back further, back as far as 82 years, and find plenty more to be blue about.

Why 82 years? Because that's the age of Senator Ted Stevens, Kleptocrat from Alaska. As all 2 of you no doubt know, Stevens is the champion of the little guy -- the little billionaires and helpless oil magnates -- and as such, he pushed as hard as anyone not brandishing an AK-47 could push to open up the Arctic to oil drilling. He failed late Wednesday, and he's in a total funk.

``This has been the saddest day of my life,'' Stevens told the New York Times.

Really, Ted? Really? We're too numb at this point to know whether Stevens is criminally out of touch with what's going on in the country he claims to help lead or simply criminally on the take from Big Oil. Or both.

Update: Stevens was apoplectic last night, according to FOCHB (friends of Cornhuskerblogger).

He seemed on the verge of announcing his resignation, come reports. But the most eye-popping moment last night came when he denounced opponents of his measure as anti-poor. It's quite the measure of the man's compassion for the needy that he denounced his opposition and threatened to go to ``every one of your states and tell them what you've done'' by defeating oil drilling in the Arctic.

What have they done, Ted? They've denied home heating assistance to the poor, money for which would have come from selling some oil-drilling leases. This assistance couldn't possibly be funded by cutting back on tax cuts for the richest, right Ted? How about not spending a billion dollars to dig more holes in the Alaskan tundra for a missile defense system that doesn't work?

The fact is, Stevens is worried because Exxon-Mobil is worried -- the Alaskan pipeline isn't at capacity anymore. This means it's costlier per barrel of oil to pump crude through the pipe -- which drags on the company's bottom line. We know: your hanky is too wet to soak up any more tears for Big Oil.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Luttig, Padilla, and Impeachment

Well, I guess we can assume that Michael Luttig won't be getting nominated to any future SCOTUS openings:
WASHINGTON (AP) ? In a sharp rebuke, a federal appeals court denied Wednesday a Bush administration request to transfer terrorism suspect Jose Padilla from military to civilian law enforcement custody.

The three-judge panel of the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also refused the administration's request to vacate a September ruling that gave President Bush wide authority to detain "enemy combatants" indefinitely without charges on U.S. soil.

The decision, written by Judge Michael Luttig, questioned why the administration used one set of facts before the court for 3 1/2 years to justify holding Padilla without charges but used another set to convince a grand jury in Florida to indict him last month.

Luttig said the administration has risked its "credibility before the courts" by appearing to use the indictment of Padilla to thwart an appeal of the appeals court's decision that gave the president wide berth in holding enemy combatants.

Padilla, a former Chicago gang member, was arrested in 2002 at Chicago's O'Hare Airport as he returned to the United States from Afghanistan. Justice and Defense Department officials alleged Padilla had come home to carry out an al-Qaida backed plot to blow up apartment buildings in New York, Washington or Florida.
By the way---and I don't say this sort of thing lightly---George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Alberto Gonzales and all other relevant monarchists should be impeached for deliberately and repeatedly violating federal law as a matter of statute. They did this because, Gonzales says, they wouldn't have been able to convince Congress to change the law.

Got that? Break the law because you want to do something you're certain Congress won't make legal. Doesn't get any more flagrant then that.

I know no one lied about sex, but surely this offense is as impeachable as they come.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Not quite the eve of the hearings, but....

A friend in the MSM sends along the text of an email from Senator Schumer's office. The top part is a retort to a release from the office of Senator Cornyn (Rubber Stamp-TX), which is provided at the bottom:

'Twas a month after Miers, when all through the land,
Went a plague of amnesia 'bout how she was canned.

Now, Cornyn! Now, Sessions! Now Kyl and Frist!
Not one had some recall of how she was dissed.

They blathered and brayed about up-or-down votes,
They acted dismayed and gave virulent quotes.

They forgot how their own was battered and fried,
How an up-or-down vote on her was denied.

With her conservative views not patently clear,
They allowed a campaign of cynical smear.

On Alito, they say, he deserves confirmation,
But don't wait for the hearings, just accept coronation.

Don't ask if his views on the law are too cramped,
This substitute nom must be rubber-stamped.

So "advice and consent" gets thrown out the door,
When there's peace to be made with the right wing's hard core.


'Twas one month before the hearings, and all through the city
Not many Democrats were waiting, not even some on the Committee

The hard left was already distorting his rulings
Why wait for the hearings if you oppose all the President's doings?

Some Senators asked for privileged documents, no exception
So much for the "so-called" right to privacy protection

From strip searches to abortion, "he's an extremist!" they wailed
But we've heard it before-against Judge Roberts, it failed.

Of course the attacks will not turn the public
"Confirm him" they say, we want independent courts in our republic!
I have to say, the Cornyn thing is some of the worst poetry I've ever read. You'd think these guys never heard of meter (or maybe they just think it's a French term).

Thursday, December 15, 2005

It takes one to know one

The world's largest coocoo clock has chimed in again -- proving that even a broken timepiece is right twice a day.

Bushistan, that distant and out-of-touch land isolated along the wilds of Pennsylvania Avenue, "is made up of political imbeciles and master hands at faking up lies," according to the North Korean government.

Pyongyang's wordsmiths are among the clunkiest the world has ever read. How this zinger emerged, we'll never know.

Friday, December 09, 2005

32.3% Full or 67.6% Empty?

I just found out that my "Author Rank" at the SSRN is 17568 out of 54364. I don't know whether to feel happy, sad or indifferent about this news.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

For Shame: Clinton Edition

It seems Sen. Hillary Clinton (Party of Unprincipled Pandering - NY) is supporting (actually, co-sponsoring) legislation to ban flag-burning.

Given that the SCOTUS ruled in 1989 that a previous flag-burning statute was unconstitutional, it seems like this is just pure grandstanding on her part. But it does show you that Sen. Clinton can be just like President Clinton: why take a stand on principle when selling out might gain a couple points in the polls?

I expect this sort of garbage from (most) elected Republicans. It's a shame when Democrats join the illiberal party. I didn't expect to support Hillary in the primaries, but this pretty much seals it for me.

Gotta Love Those Freedom-Promoting Righties

Here's an excerpt from one of yesterday's NewsMax stories:
Michael Reagan, son of the late President Ronald Reagan, is blasting Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean for declaring that the U.S. won't be able to win the war in Iraq, saying Dean ought to be "hung [sic] for treason."

"Howard Dean should be arrested and hung [sic] for treason or put in a hole until the end of the Iraq war!" Reagan told his Radio America audience on Monday.

Reagan was reacting to Dean's comments earlier in the day, when the top Democrat said that the "idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong."

Gosh, and I thought the now-that-we-can't-find-any-WMDs storyline for justifying the Iraq war was to bring democracy and freedom to the middle east. I didn't realize that torture and hangings for political disagreement were part of that equation.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Estimating the Cost of the Iraq War

My friend Scott Wallsten over at AEI-Brookings has put together a website where you can estimate the present discounted value of Iraq war costs under alternative assumptions about various components (e.g., number of troops killed or injured, and date the US leaves Iraq).

In a nutshell, it seems Larry Lindsey was wrong about the costs of a US-led war in Iraq --- he way underestimated them.

This is a follow-up on a recent paper Scott wrote with Katrina Kosec (about which I posted a while ago).

Sunday, December 04, 2005


Well, it may not have been pretty, but Giants 17, Dallas 10 is what counts.

Here's a nice memento:

Don't tell the President about this picture, though, or he might suck up to James Dobson and try and amend the U.S. Constitution.....

Friday, December 02, 2005


Text of a letter I wrote to the NYT yesterday. No love from the Times, but CCM's editor/publisher has kindly agreed to give me a voice:
Last week Bernard Goldberg took the Times to task for publishing a sequence of pictures of President Bush depicting his inability to exit a room. Mr. Goldberg wrote that "this is precisely what gives your critics ammunition".

At the time I read Mr. Goldberg's letter, I wondered if he feels similarly bothered every time the Times prints a photo of Mr. Bush in front of one of those White House-created banners Mr. Bush uses.

Today we have means to test Mr. Goldberg's own unbiasedness: the Times ran a gigantic color picture of Mr. Bush with the equally gigantic words "Plan for Victory" made deliberately visible (indeed, the camera angle obscures the President to include the words). As Mr. Goldberg wrote, the Times could have run this picture "say, on Page B27".

To quote Mr. Goldberg again: "But on Page 1, whatever your editors' intentions, it sure looks like an editorial posing as news."

I hope you'll run Mr. Goldberg's second letter of complaint -- should it materialize.


Dr. Jonah B. Gelbach
Washington, DC
Professor of Economics
University of Maryland

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Oh, That Old Thing? Alito Ducks.

Gotta love this dodge by Alito, from his Senate questionnaire. The questionnaire asks him to
List all professional, business, fraternal, scholarly, civic, charitable, or other organizations, other than those listed in response to Questions 10 or 11, to which you belong, or to which you have belonged, or in which you have participated since graduation from law school.
By now just about everyone knows about Alito's membership in the group Concerned Alumni of Princeton -- a nice bunch of folks who were really "concerned" about the admission of women to Princeton; the large number of racial minorities on campus, compared to legacy students; and promoting birth control, among other bugaboos of the latter part of the 20th Century. Alito trumpted this membership in his bid to become a political appointee in the Reagan DOJ.

But apparently now he has no direct memory of this time of youthful indiscretions (as the elderly Henry Hyde once referred to his conduct of an extra-martial affair at the tender age of 46):
Concerned Alumni of Princeton: This was a group of Princeton alumni. A document I recently reviewed reflects that I was a member of the group in the 1980s. Apart from that document, I have no recollection of being a member, of attending meetings, or otherwise participating in the activities of the group. The group has no current officers from whom more information may be obtained.
Yeah. And Clarence Thomas had never ever thought seriously about Roe v Wade before he testified to the SJC.

I can't say it any better than Marty Lederman already has:
This seems very hard to believe. From everything I've heard, however, Judge Alito is an honest and straight-shooting fellow; so I'm willing to assume that his CAP membership and participation were so fleeting, so negligible, in the 1980s that he truly does not recall them now, 20 years later. But, if that's indeed the case, what does that say about his citation of his CAP membership on his OLC application back in 1985, in order to demonstrate how died-in-the-wool conservative he was? The whole incident is very odd.

P.S. Just to be clear: I'm not suggesting that being fond of the early-60's National Review as a teenager should disqualify someone for a Supreme Court seat forty years later. But going out of one's way in the mid-80s to emphasize how one's philosophy was formed by that youthful dalliance with such a periodical? And doing so in order to demonstrate one's fitness for an high-level OLC post? Well, that's something else entirely . . .
Honestly, I thought that conservatives (you know, the folks who proudly supported groups like the CAP back in the 80s, when it wasn't so cool) wanted a nominee who would deliver an honest, proud, chest-out kind of debate on their jurisprudential views. I was kind of looking forward to that debate.

But it looks like Alito's just going to try to duck when faced with his record, of which he was once so proud.