Later On

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

Archive for September 21st, 2008

Rethinking John McCain

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Written by Leisureguy

21 September 2008 at 2:23 pm

Posted in Daily life, Election, Media


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Same route. 1 hour 0 (zero!) minutes 27.12 seconds.

Written by Leisureguy

21 September 2008 at 2:08 pm

Posted in Daily life, Health

Bush spends money like a drunk

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Yesterday, President Bush announced his $700 billion plan to buy out troubled financial institutions. Demanding enormous faith in his administration’s stewardship, the plan “would place no restrictions on the administration other than requiring semiannual reports to Congress, granting the Treasury secretary unprecedented power to buy and resell mortgage debt,” and to hire outside firms “to help manage its purchases.” Further, the proposal provides no oversight mechanism:

Sec. 8. Review: Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

Bush is demanding unprecedented control over billions of dollars — with no oversight. His history of mismanaging taxpayer dollars should make Americans skeptical of his buyout plan:


$142 million wasted on reconstruction projects that were either terminated or canceled. [Special Inspector General for Iraq, 7/28/08]

“Significant” amount of U.S. funds for Iraq funneled to Sunni and Shiite militias. [GAO Comptroller, 3/11/08]

$180 million payed to construction company Bechtel for projects it never finished. [Federal audit, 7/25/07]

$5.1 billion in expenses for Iraq reconstruction charged without documentation. [Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction report, 3/19/07]

$10 billion in spending on Iraq reconstruction was wasteful or poorly tracked. [GAO, 2/15/07]

Halliburton overcharged the government $100 million for one day’s work in 2004. [Project on Government Oversight, 10/8/04]


Millions wasted on four no-bid contracts, including paying $20 million for an unusable camp for evacuees. [Homeland Security Department Inspector General, 9/10/08]

$2.4 billion in contracts doled out by FEMA that guaranteed profits for big companies. [Center for Public Integrity investigation, 6/25/07]

-An estimated $2 billion in fraud and waste — nearly 11 percent of the $19 billion spent by FEMA on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita as of mid-June. [New York Times tally, 6/27/06]

“Widespread” waste and mismanagement on millions for Katrina recovery, including at least $3 million for 4,000 beds that were never used. [GAO, 3/16/06]


A $50 million Air Force contract awarded to a company with close ties to senior Air Force officers, in a process “fraught with improper influence, irregular procedures, glaring conflicts of interest.” [Project on Government Oversight, 4/18/08]

$1.7 billion in excessive fees and waste paid by the Pentagon to the Interior Department to manage federal lands. [Defense Department and Interior Department Inspectors General audit, 12/25/06]

$1 trillion unaccounted for by the Pentagon, including 56 airplanes, 32 tanks, and 36 Javelin missile command launch-units. [GAO, 5/18/03]

Given Bush’s history of gross fiscal mismanagement — including an unprecedented number of no-bid contracts and Bush’s resistance to closing fraud loopholes or increasing oversight of contracts — why should Americans trust another $700 billion to his care? Paul Krugman writes, “Let’s not be railroaded into accepting an enormously expensive plan that doesn’t seem to address the real problem.”

Update: Matt Stoller has some reactions from anonymous Democratic members of Congress.

Written by Leisureguy

21 September 2008 at 11:56 am

Posted in Daily life

Unsafe computer practices

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Good list at Download Squad.

Written by Leisureguy

21 September 2008 at 11:45 am

Posted in Daily life, Technology

Candidate car ownership

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According to Newsweek:

When you have seven homes, that’s a lot of garages to fill. After the fuss over the number of residences owned by the two presidential nominees, NEWSWEEK looked into the candidates’ cars. And based on public vehicle-registration records, here’s the score. John and Cindy McCain: 13. Barack and Michelle Obama: one.

One vehicle in the McCain fleet has caused a small flap. United Auto Workers president Ron Gettelfinger, an Obama backer, accused McCain this month of “flip-flopping” on who bought daughter Meghan’s foreign-made Toyota Prius. McCain said last year that he bought it, but then told a Detroit TV station on Sept. 7 that Meghan “bought it, I believe, herself.” (The McCain campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment.)

Obama’s lone vehicle also is a green machine, a 2008 Ford Escape hybrid. He bought it last year to replace the family’s Chrysler 300C, a Hemi-powered sedan. Obama ditched the 300C, once 50 Cent’s preferred ride, after taking heat for driving a guzzler while haranguing Detroit about building more fuel-efficient cars.

McCain’s personal ride, a 2004 Cadillac CTS, is no gas sipper, but it should make Detroit happy because it’s made by General Motors. “I’ve bought American literally all my life and I’m proud,” McCain said in the interview with Detroit’s WXYZ-TV. But the rest of his fleet is not all-American. There’s a 2005 Volkswagen convertible in the garage along with a 2001 Honda sedan. Otherwise, there’s a 2007 half-ton Ford pickup truck, which might come in handy on the Sedona ranch; a vintage 1960 Willys Jeep; a 2008 Jeep Wrangler; a 2000 Lincoln; and a 2001 GMC SUV. The McCains also own three 2000 NEV Gem electric vehicles, which are bubble-shaped cars popular in retirement communities.

Only the Cadillac is registered in the candidate’s name. Cindy McCain’s name is on 11 vehicles, though not the one she actually drives. That car, a Lexus, is registered to her family’s beer-distributor business and is outfitted with personalized plates that read MS BUD.

Written by Leisureguy

21 September 2008 at 11:35 am

Posted in Daily life, Election

The Surge didn’t work

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Violence is down after the Surge, so it worked. That’s a perfect example of the post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy. It’s true that violence is down, but adding 30,000 troops to a country of 30,000,000 wasn’t the cause: it was ethnic cleansing that did it. Daniel De Groot explains.

Written by Leisureguy

21 September 2008 at 11:22 am

Injunction to keep Cheney from destroying records

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Interesting post by Daniel De Groot. It begins:

A promising start:

A U.S. federal judge on Saturday ordered Vice-President Dick Cheney to preserve a wide range of records from his time in office.The decision by U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly is a setback for the Bush administration, which has been pushing for a narrow definition of materials that must be safeguarded under the Presidential Records Act.

Don’t celebrate yet, but CREW (who are the plaintiffs) have won the first round in the battle to get the Judicial branch to agree that the Vice-President, is, in fact a member of the executive branch, which is actually what Cheney’s defence hinges on here.  However, the injunction is an extraordinary measure while the Court considers the matter.  Kollar-Kotelly might end up ruling in Cheney’s favour, but at least for the time being, Cheney can’t fax his records to Shredderville quite so easily.

The 22 page ruling itself is largely focused on the legal grounds for when a court should consider a preliminary injunction on pending litigation.  Basically, the plaintiffs, CREW were able to establish that they had a reasonable chance at success, and that irreparable harm could be caused to their action without the injunction (since Cheney might nuke a bunch of records preemptively if his lawyers felt they were going to lose).Apparently the Judge was alarmed that Cheney’s people would not even agree to preserve records while the Court was considering the case, even though the Court expects to have ruled on this prior to Cheney leaving office.

Cheney’s position is a creative interpretation of the post-Watergate Presidential Records Act (PRA) in which …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

21 September 2008 at 11:11 am

Interesting point

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Written by Leisureguy

21 September 2008 at 11:05 am

Secular parenting

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Very interesting post by Colin, which begins:

A few weeks ago, I recommended the book Parenting Beyond Belief, a compilation of essays on secular/atheist parenting edited by Dale McGowan.  Well, I just came back from a Cincinnati seminar by Mr. McGowan himself, and I’m so glad I went.  Dale offered up a really practical and accessible workshop on how to respectfully raise good children in a religious world.

I want to focus on Dale’s recommendation for secular parents on how to relate to evangelical family members, the kind who are judgmental or fearful of the influence of atheism.  I’m personally lucky to be raised by semi-secular parents who are both accepting and open to my lack of belief.  But there are some out there who feel as if they are rowing upstream against the current of their christian families.  Some of you even have a religious spouse or religious children.

Dale gave a great suggestion…

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

21 September 2008 at 11:04 am

Posted in Daily life, Religion

The Shock Doctrine in action

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Via Crooks & Liars:

Crooks & Liars provides a transcript of the video, with this note appended:

Make sure you buy: “The Shock Doctrine

It’s so chic of conservatives like Sullivan to blame the American people for the economic crisis, because as Sullivan stated on Real Time, millions and millions of people took out loans on homes that they couldn’t afford. Yes, the Kudlow Thesis of the market housing crisis. Don’t blame the lenders and grifters that came upon us like a biblical plague of locusts, blame the  people.

Naomi Klein, God love her, told him that it was the Wall Street profiteers that preyed upon society. His ideal conservative world is completely fictional. And as she says, what comes next is the real disaster. Today was Christmas morning to the fat cats on The Street, but what happens next to all the debt we the people have just incurred? Whoever is elected president will have a major role in deciding our fate. …

… Andrew, the lenders told them they could get the houses for nothing and then lied about how they would pay for it and what they would pay, then bundled the cash and passed it on… And it’s not the government’s role to tell people what they cannot do. That’s why we used to have regulations and background checks and down payments and mortgage lenders to oversee the system. It weeds out the people that can and cannot afford a home. He tried to deconstruct her argument because apparently he wasn’t getting enough air time at that point (he filibustered the entire show after that) with nonsensical rationalizations on the current state of affairs. I lived through it and saw it up close and personal. Yea, he supports Obama, great, but his conservative ideology is a sham.

Andrew Sullivan has been conned by a fictitious notion of what conservatism really is. He states his Utopian vision of conservatism, but leaves out the part where conservatives want to deregulate everything and get rid of oversight and government so they can reap a magical harvest of cash like they have been doing during the entire Bush administration. Now we are seeing the results of conservatism. It’s a failure. Does Sully really believe that conservatism exists without the fat cats expanding their pie of wealth in America to 1920’s or pre-New Deal proportions? They’ve been trying to undo the New Deal ever since it was instituted and by the way which brought the country back from the brink of destruction.

Do you want Barack Obama or John McCain to make these decisions? I think the choice is easy. Conservative rule rains Armageddon down upon our heads—whether it happens in two years or twenty. It’s inevitable.

Written by Leisureguy

21 September 2008 at 10:58 am

The ghastly bail-out plan

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I’ve been reading articles on the bail-out plan that Paulson has announced: it’s beyond awful, is the considered judgment of people who know what they’re talking about. I’m not going to attempt to summarize the discussion, but the following posts are definitely worth reading. Let me begin, though, with the email from a Democratic lawmaker that Matt Stoller received:

Paulsen and Congressional Republicans, or the few that will actually vote for this (most will be unwilling to take responsibility for the consequences of their policies), have said that there can’t be any “add ons,” or addition provisions. Fuck that. I don’t really want to trigger a world wide depression (that’s not hyperbole, that’s a distinct possibility), but I’m not voting for a blank check for $700 billion for those mother fuckers.

Nancy said she wanted to include the second “stimulus” package that the Bush Administration and congressional Republicans have blocked. I don’t want to trade a $700 billion dollar giveaway to the most unsympathetic human beings on the planet for a few fucking bridges. I want reforms of the industry, and I want it to be as punitive as possible.

Henry Waxman has suggested corporate government reforms, including CEO compensation, as the price for this.  Some members have publicly suggested allowing modification of mortgages in bankruptcy, and the House Judiciary Committee staff is also very interested in that.  That’s a real possibility.

We may strip out all the gives to industry in the predatory mortgage lending bill that the House passed last November, which hasn’t budged in the Senate, and include that in the bill.  There are other ideas on the table but they are going to be tough to work out before next week.

I also find myself drawn to provisions that would serve no useful purpose except to insult the industry, like requiring the CEOs, CFOs and the chair of the board of any entity that sells mortgage related securities to the Treasury Department to certify that they have completed an approved course in credit counseling. That is now required of consumers filing bankruptcy to make sure they feel properly humiliated for being head over heels in debt, although most lost control of their finances because of a serious illness in the family. That would just be petty and childish, and completely in character for me.

I’m open to other ideas, and I am looking for volunteers who want to hold the sons of bitches so I can beat the crap out of them.

Boehner: Treasury’s Bailout Package Should Only Help Wall Street, Not Main Street

Reformers – hilzoy (includes McCain’s role in creating the crisis)
Reformers, take 2 – hilzoy

A pig without lipstick – Steve Benen

Finance lobbyists get to work – Steve Benen (money without reforms is what they want)

Lipstick on a pig in a poke – David Kurtz

Before we jump in – Josh Marshall

Put on the brakes – Josh Marshall

Paulson: nothing for homeowners – David Sirota

What Wall Street should do to get its blank check – Robert Reich

After the bailout – Kevin Drum

The complete … elite consensus over the financial collapse – Greenwald

Hank Paulson’s raid on the treasury – Firedoglake

Better bailout ideas – Paul Glastris

Bailout reactions – Kevin Drum

Paulson bailout plan a historic swindle – William Greider

Petty and childish – Kevin Drum (what reforms are needed)

The European banks – Kevin Drum (they’re too big to save)

Hedge funds next? – Kevin Drum

Written by Leisureguy

21 September 2008 at 10:52 am

Trying to blog while playing Go

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I have some fast-moving games on, and I keep bouncing back from reading articles to making moves. Soon I’ll actually be posting…

Written by Leisureguy

21 September 2008 at 10:12 am

Posted in Daily life, Go

Comment on pundits re: McCain

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As you probably have seen, there’s been a great conversion in the punditocracy’s view of McCain—much talk now of how much he’s changed, of how he’s no longer the straight-shooter, honorable, friendly guy he once was.

It’s very rare for people to have a significant change of personality once they reach full maturity—say, after 45 or so. When there is a significant change in personality, it’s often due to trauma: head injury, open-heart surgery, or the like. McCain has suffered none of that.

So I’m thinking that his personality hasn’t changed one whit, but that the pundits are unwilling to admit that their take on him (on anything, for that matter) was simply wrong. That can’t be! So he must have changed.

Yet when you look at his record—his full record, including his Naval Academy class standing, the several planes he wrecked, his dailliance with a wealthy woman while still married (to a now disfigured and, alas, unwealthy woman) that led to his second marriage, his work on behalf of Keating, and so on—it doesn’t seem he’s changed at all. The pundits were just wrong about who he was.

That’s one view, anyway.

Written by Leisureguy

21 September 2008 at 8:58 am

Posted in Daily life, GOP, Media

New largest known prime number found

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It’s a Mersenne prime, of course: 243,112,609-1. Here’s part of the article:

It is a prime number. Indeed, it is the largest prime number ever found.

The Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search, or GIMPS, a computing project that uses volunteers’ computers to hunt for primes, found the prime and just confirmed the discovery. It can now claim a $100,000 prize from the Electronic Frontier Foundation for being the first to find a prime number that has more than 10 million digits. …

As pointed out in the article, the newly discovered prime has 13 million digits.

When I was in grad school at Dartmouth, Prof. Kurtz, in any conversation about the largest known prime, would ask, “What’s the largest known power of ten?”  🙂

Written by Leisureguy

21 September 2008 at 8:46 am

Posted in Daily life

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