Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for June 10th, 2007

Solid, liquid, gas—and other states of matter

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I knew about plasma, but there are so many more.

Written by Leisureguy

10 June 2007 at 3:29 pm

Posted in Science

Big “oops” on keeping secrets

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An on-line PowerPoint presentation reveals the total budget of the 16 US intelligence agencies: $60 billion, 25% more than was generally thought.

Read about it.

Written by Leisureguy

10 June 2007 at 1:55 pm

Studies of class differences in the U.S.

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Interesting article—alas, my library has none of her works.

Written by Leisureguy

10 June 2007 at 1:48 pm

Posted in Daily life

Joe Lieberman, “centrist” and crazed

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Glenn Greenwald:

The consensus of pundits holds that Joe Lieberman is one of Washington’s true centrists, a real independent, someone who eschews the extremes in favor of sensible, non-ideological solutions. As but one example that I coincidentally included in a recent post, Mike Allen, in the aftermath of Lieberman’s defeat in the primary, warned in Time of the doom Democrats faced as a result of their “rejection of a sensible, moralistic centrist.”

In our political culture today, this is what passes for a serious, sober, foreign policy centrist:

Lieberman Favors Military Strike on Iran Sen. Joseph Lieberman said Sunday the United States should consider a military strike against Iran because of Tehran’s involvement in Iraq.

“I think we’ve got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq,” Lieberman said. “And to me, that would include a strike over the border into Iran, where we have good evidence that they have a base at which they are training these people coming back into Iraq to kill our soldiers.”

“If they don’t play by the rules, we’ve got to use our force, and to me, that would include taking military action to stop them from doing what they’re doing.”

Lieberman said much of the action could probably be done by air, although he would leave the strategy to the generals in charge.

The video of Lieberman issuing these “centrist” war cries is here. The very idea of starting a new war with Iran is so obscenely irrational — to say nothing of its morality — that it is difficult to put into words. A vast consensus of military experts across the ideological spectrum have all been warning for several years that no viable option exists for the military glory which the great and serious Churchillian warrior, Joe Lieberman, seeks. Just fathom how quickly and how completely whatever lingering shreds of moral credibility America has left would disappear if we commenced a military attack on that country.

Joe Lieberman cares about none of that — issues of American credibility and American security could not be any less important to Lieberman — and the same is true for his fellow band of warmongering ideologues who have long been hungry for war with Iran as the next step in their grand vision that brought us the invasion of Iraq. Over the last year, they have been gradually increasing the explicitness with which they urge a war with Iran, and yet they are treated with as great a respect as ever.

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

10 June 2007 at 11:11 am

Posted in Congress, Iran, Media

The quality of argument from the Right

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It’s very, very low and shows a remarkably high level of ignorance combined with general hostility and meanness of spirit. The Anonymous Liberal dissects a good example.

Written by Leisureguy

10 June 2007 at 11:09 am

Posted in GOP

How it happens

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Good observation:

In reading an excellent book, Satanic Purses: Money, Myth and Misinformation, by R.T. Naylor, I suddenly realized why Adolf Hitler was so popular during the first years of his administration.

The funny thing is that the book is not about Hitler or Germany, but about the U.S. and the bogus war on terror. It is an outstanding book, carefully researched and footnoted, and written in a reasonable manner, though with delicious dollops of sarcasm.

It’s the carefully detailed accounts of injustices committed by the U.S. government against American Muslims that gave me the insight about Hitler. In the early days of the Third Reich, if you weren’t a criminal, a communist or a Jew, you never saw the dark side of the Nazi government. You saw an economy being revitalized, superhighways being built, Germans being put back to work, the disgraceful Versailles Treaty being scrapped. It must have looked a lot like morning in Germany to the people who had suffered through runaway inflation, economic depression and street riots.

Similarly, if you are not a Muslim or an Arab-American who has been a victim of the PATRIOT Act and other laws carelessly passed in the hysteria following the attacks in 2001, then the Bush administration probably looks perfectly normal. You probably even believe that it is really protecting you from terrorists, just as many Germans believed Hitler was protecting them from the “bad guys.”

What Naylor’s book demonstrates is how often this is pure nonsense, and at the same time what terrible damage is being done to the rule of law and America’s traditional respect for human rights.

Typically, the government will swoop down and seize an organization’s records and computers, while making public accusations of the people being “involved” with terrorists. The important point is that this is done before any determination of guilt or innocence has even begun. By the time a defendant gets to court, if he ever does, he’s ruined. Quite often then, the fearless feds will say, “Well, never mind about this terrorist business, just plead guilty to a minor immigration violation.” Often defendants are bullied into admitting guilt they don’t deserve by threats of being declared an enemy combatant, which means indefinite imprisonment, probably for life.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

10 June 2007 at 11:04 am

Gouging the middle class

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Kevin Drum this morning:

Daniel Gross writes in the New York Times about growing income inequality:

Two professors — Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics and Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley — have found that the share of gross personal income of the top 1 percent of American earners rose to 17.4 percent in 2005 from 8.2 percent in 1980.

….Public policies have played a significant role in contributing to the growth of income inequality. That’s the argument made in a recent, brilliant National Bureau of Economic Research working paper by Professor [Frank] Levy and Peter Temin….[Since 1980] unions have weakened, the minimum wage hasn’t come close to keeping up with inflation, and marginal income tax rates have been cut — the top marginal rate is now 36 percent, down from 70 percent in 1980. A result has been declining bargaining power for workers and the rise of a winner-take-all environment.

….It is commonplace to hear that the current set of arrangements and policies is the only possible way the economy can work, given trends like the rise of China and global economic integration. As Professor Levy said, “That’s a very convenient argument for people to make if they’re doing very well.”

On a related noted, today the LA Times prints this year’s list of the 100 highest paid executives in California. For the first time ever they’ve started listing CEO pay as a percentage of total corporate profits. Why? Because CEO pay has finally gotten so out of hand that shareholders are starting to notice that it’s making a serious dent in earnings all by itself. Just think what they’d find out if they took at look at the top dozen executives instead of just the CEO.

The CEO paid the greatest percentage of his company profits took home 14% of the total company profits of $51.8 million.

Written by Leisureguy

10 June 2007 at 11:01 am

Posted in Business

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