Saheli*: Musings and Observations
Wednesday, March 31, 2004
 
Very Big Blog by Jen Segrest stuck me as well designed.
 
 
Scott just reminded me about The Sneeze, an infrequent and goofy blog. Its humor is not for everyone, but if you have a strong stomach and a high tolerance for profanity, it can be very funny. Don't read Steve Don't Eat it! when you're about to eat, but it will give you a nice appreciation for fresh fruits and vegetables later. This other entry is one of my favorites.
 
 
Hmm, before I forget, I want to mention quickly what I think would be a brilliant set of moves for an elected (and inaugurated) John Kerry. Because the Clinton-Gore team was so young, we have an unprecendented number of high level statesmen sort of just sitting around, working for corporate boards and foundations. We could still use them in public office. If John Kerry is self-confident enough to run his own White House even with these talented people underfoot, he could draft them back. That includes some of the people he ran against. Unlike most, I say leave John Edwards alone--the Democrats need him in the Senate. But how about Howard Dean or Bill Bradley for Secretary of Health and Human Services? Dick Gephardt for Secretary of Labor? Bill Clinton for Secretary of State? I'm not saying this should definitely happen, I'm just saying--let's think out of the box.
 
 
[insert images of Saheli scheming here] How to get my resume to Al Gore, new owner of digital cable channel Newsworld International . . .
 
 
The Medacity Index from the The Washington Monthly looks at some key fibs from our last four presidents. While I don't give much importance to actual digits gleaned from such small number statistics, the list itself is an interesting walk down memory lane, with such notable stunts as President George Bush Sr.'s Drugs from Lafayette Park and this great quote from Ronald Reagan:
"A few months ago, I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that's true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not."
 
Monday, March 29, 2004
 
Someone sent me this story about how the outgoing Spanish Defence Minister, Federico Trillo, and the incoming one, Jose Luis Fernandez, have together decided to increase the number of troops they have in Afghanistan while decreasing the number in Iraq. They linked it with the sentence, "Spain decides to fight terrorism where the terrorists are." What a concept.
 
 
Superman and Seinfeld!!!

This is da bomb. The shiznit. The right stuff. Fabuloso. Really awesome. Very, very cool. I wish I didn't have an American Express card just so I could apply for one just to let them know how much I love this website. I'll calm down soon. I'm a sucker for anything Superman.
 
 
And we have another addition to the list of morons this morning. This is the man who has nothing better to do than spoil what little unspoiled environment we still have, by painting an iceberg red.

""We all have a need to decorate Mother Nature because it belongs to all us," Danish artist Marco Evaristti said Thursday. "This is my iceberg; it belongs to me.""

 
 
Grumble, grumble --- I liked the old look better!

So I guess the search engine wars have begun in earnest. Google's redesign is just part of a whole package of changes that was released today, and Microsoft has announced it's getting into the blog game.
 
 
Idiots. That's all I have to say about National People's Action storming Karl Rove's front yard.
 
Sunday, March 28, 2004
 
Hey! Google looks. . .different!?! The tabs are gone! Ruchira!
 
 
Virus Smackdown!

Wow. Check out this New Scientist article by Phillip Cohen: Being coinfected with a Hepatitis-c like virus called GBV-C may actually help people infected with HIV fight off AIDs, according to a recent study from The New England Journal of Medicine authored by Jack Stapleton of the University of Iowa and colleagues.

"Those results suggest GBV-C infection is as powerful a protective agent against HIV as some genetic factors that have been linked to slow progression of AIDS. Exactly how GBV-C can accomplish this is not clear.

Stapleton says some tantalising hints will be revealed by experiments his team has conducted in which the two viruses compete for infection in a test tube. They hope to publish that data in the next few months.
"


 
Saturday, March 27, 2004
 
Great blog-essay on Richard Clarke's testimony before the 9/11 commission by Scott Rosenberg:

"The stonewalling of responsibility has made it impossible for the nation to figure out what went wrong and make the changes we need to insure it never happens again."
 
Friday, March 26, 2004
 
Note to my readers about loading problems

If, when you load, "It sort of stops after about two screens worth. As though that were the end of the page," you can try hitting refresh again. I'm not sure what is causing this. Please let me know if this doesn't work. Thanks!
 
 
Talking Points Memo finds another gem of unintentional Republican humor.
 
 
Found in Translation

I came across the following links recently, and I wanted to talk about them because translation and translators are near and dear to my heart. Well, one translator in particular, but I'd be happy to make friends with more.

Words Without Borders: MARCH 2004 is an online magazine that "undertakes to promote international communication through translation of the world's best writing--selected and translated by a distinguished group of writers, translators, and publishing professionals--and publishing and promoting these works (or excerpts) on the web. [They] also serve as an advocacy organization for literature in translation, producing events that feature the work of foreign writers and connecting these writers to universities and to print and broadcast media."

Juan Cole, a professor at the University of Michigan and blogger about events in the Middle East, has recently started a projected called The Global Americana Institute, the main goal of which will be to translate the classics of American literature into Arabic. This reminded me of Salon article that came out last year, more of an essay, really about how books inspire violence. It tangentially mentioned the apparently unsubstantiated theory that OBL was inspired by Asimov's Foundation series, since Al Qaeda means The Foundation in Arabic. While that seems highly unlikely, it is interesting to speculate what a cross pollination of literature might mean to bastions of the two languages.

Blogalization is an index of blogs which are in more than one language--the idea being that the blogger finds information in one language and posts it in another. At the Gawker talk SPJ had earlier this year, Jeff Jarvis of Conde Nast told me that after English, the biggest blogging language is Persian. The opening session of the Chinese parliament apparently prompted the government to shut down Blogbus.com and its 15,000 blogs, the biggest provider in the People's Republic. Multilingual blogging is a big deal.

With no linguistic training or real sense of evidence, I have to say I believe in an extremely weak form of the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis--i.e., that it is definitely easier to think certain thoughts in some languages than in others. I do not, however, think that translation is impossible--only that it is difficult. All the more reason to support it and celebrate it. As humans, of course, we are divided into many groups. The pain and suffering caused by our divisions is readily apparent. The solution is not to retreat into our different groups, nor is it to attempt to homogenize them into a bland sort of unity. Translators and translations, and learning different languages, allow us to jump borders and dip into many pools, to crosslink our groups in a net of understanding and connection that can, potentially, defy sectarianism without sacrificing pluralism or flavor. Cross pollination is a grand thing--to cite a quote a friend sent me a couple days ago:

"Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than in the one where they sprang up."

- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., US Supreme Court Justice (1841-1935)

 
Thursday, March 25, 2004
 
Pandasthumb.org featured a book review today from the president of the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science, and organization I had never heard of. Generally, I shy away from such things, since I like to think of religion and science operating on mainly orthogonal planes. Intelligent Design is a perfect example of what can go wrong when people start mixing the two at an institutional level. But since IRAS seems to be coming out swinging against that, and since it's an affiliate society of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, I'm considerably less suspicious and considerably more intrigued.
 
 
Go, stranger, and tell the Lacedaemonians that we lie here in obedience to their laws.

I just came across this organization,Spirit of America, which collects money and supplies to help American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq in their informal, self-initiated projects to make friends with the local people, and help rebuild the communities that they are occupying on our behalf.

It goes without saying that I'm not in a position to investigate or report on the realities of these projects, nor am I able to report on the efficacy of this organization. Hopefully a little later I'll have time to google a bit more, and see what I can learn about this. If you know anything, please comment! But in the mean time I wanted to put it out here, because if it is what it appears to be, it's a very good thing. And assuming it is what it appears to be, I'd like to comment a bit on why it's a very good thing.

I was against the American invasion of Iraq, though not against the military push in Afghanistan. My main problem with the current occupation, given the irrevocable realities of the past year, is not that it exists, but that it is still being lead by an administration whose philosophy and modus operandi have not changed. My guess is that this philosophy, inasmuch as I understand it, is innately harmful to efficiency, national and international security, and our future foreign relations. See the post below about the Department of Homeland Security. Indeed, my biggest reason for being against the war in Iraq was the lamentable position we had left Afghanistan in.

If we are going to go into a country and take down their leadership, then I think we have a moral obligation and more importantly a fundamental national interest in making sure that we do the best possible job to make that country as stable and and as prosperous as possible. We have a moral interest and a fundamental national interest in doing as much as possible to sincerely make real friends with the people we have bombed and occupied. We cannot just turn back the clock on a political mistake we disagreed with; we must actually fix it. To cut and run now, as many anti-war activists are suggesting we do, is not just irresponsible to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, it is irresponsible to our own future.

I'm not a pacifist, and I have the utmost respect and admiration for my fellow citizens who have decided, in some sense, to submit their individual liberty to the will of the republic, for the good of the republic. These are the people who make it possible to defend the republic, and who make it possible for writers like me to even formulate moral or national security obligations like the one above. As soldiers, they are beholden to the policies and representatives and executives and judges voted in by the rest of us. (Yes, they get to vote, but there are far fewer of them than there are of us civilians.) Our founding-fathers went through great pains to make it difficult for the military to dominate the country, thank goodness, but the flip side of that is that its rank and file are dependant on the rest of us to look after them. Like the Spartan soldiers who died at Thermopylae, their lives lie in obedience to our collective political will.

Stribley had a post a few weeks ago about conscientious objectors:
"In order to be a conscientious objector, you apparently have to declare that you're against fighting in all wars. So what happens if you go to war in Iraq, for example, and decide, 'You know what, this isn't right. I could defend my homeland against foreign invaders. But I just don't think this pre-emptive stuff is right anymore. Plus I'm seeing a lot of innocents killed here. Nope, just can't do it anymore.'
Guess what? You can't claim to be a conscientious objector. Guess the idea is your country wouldn't go to war without good reason. So you're either for serving in all or none."


I understand why this is so, though I sympathize greatly with any soldier who is suddenly convinced he is killing and "dying for a mistake." A basic necessity in having a military is having one that is obedient. In my comments I quoted from the Charge of the Light Brigade:

"Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Their's not to make reply,
Their's not to reason why,
Their's but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred."

--Tennyson

That is why the act of dissent and of intelligently questioning a war is one of the most patriotic things that a civilian can do. If we will not make sure that the wars our fellow citizens (my friends and schoolchums! the loved ones of my loved ones!) are going to be asked to die in, and to kill in are just and well-run, then who will? (Let us not forget what it means to ask someone to kill for us.) The soldiers, generally, cannot. Questioning a war's intent or execution is not the same as questioning the ability or dedication of the troops, or being unsupportive of the fact that they have to follow orders in the vast majority of cases. I can support the troops without supporting the strategic philosophy they are being used to implement, and one of the best ways to do this is to support their individual efforts abroad.

Unfortunately too many commentators only pay lipservice to that idea, and their tone and rhetoric make it clear to the average citizen trying to piece toegether a position that they really don't support the troops all that much. We aren't logical creatures, and when we're trying to decide what we think, we often end up trying to decide whom we agree with instead, or whom we like. It is vital to make it clear that patriotic dissent and supporting the troops go hand-in-hand, and what more agreeable arena to do it in than this? If we really want to change the way America is perceived abroad, it's not enough to criticize those currently and officially in charge of doing that. We also have to work at it ourselves.
 
 
Just discovered an interesting blog called the american street. Today's entry is priceless--a heads up about Businessweek and Harper's articles which describes the Department of Homeland Security's priorities pretty well. Turns out CEO's have a secure, directl line to Tom Ridge and DHS, but not first responders, doctor, governors, or public utitilities.
 
 
I've decided I like the word polyblog to describe blogs that regularly get contributions from more than one (preferably more than two) people.
 
 
The Panda's Thumb is a new multi-contributor blog about evolution. While the comments are already laced with a bit of the vitriol I would like to see purged from this kind of discussion, this is definitely a blog to keep an eye on. The multi-scholar or multi-scientist blog (see Crooked Timber) strikes me as a great way to move Academe out into wider society.
 
Wednesday, March 24, 2004
 
The Blogger formerly known as Calpundit points out that Tom Delay might have to step down temporarily as Majority Leader if he is indicted by a Texas grand jury of campaign finance violations. I didn't even know a grand jury was considering charges. The mind reels at the possibilities, and mentally reaches for music and heels and a fancy dress . . .
 
 
Ah, the shining sea.
 
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
 
This story aboutBob Edwards being ousted from the position of hosting NPR's Morning Edition made me sad. It's been a while since I listened to Morning Edition, but even if the show does need some refreshing I don't see why they couldn't wait until November's 25th anniversary celebrations. I like NPR partially because it's tasteful and civil, and this doesn't seem very tasteful.
 
Monday, March 22, 2004
 
What a lead. Once again, from Slate. The best line is the third. Hugo Mialon sounds like a very interesting scholar, and between the sex, the money, and the constitutional law, Landsburg makes me wonder if I should go for more degrees after all.
 
 
GO BEARS! LBNL's Particle Data Group makes Dave Barry's Blog. I think they just wanted to have an entry for the How Berkeley Can You Be? Parade.
 
Sunday, March 21, 2004
 
And now, apparently, you can go back and comment on my entire blog if you want. I'm sure that's exactly what you want to do. Oy.
 
 
Oh, how I wish I could get out of the City and into the countryside. Not until April 2036 will we be able to see all five planets visible to the naked eye.

 
Saturday, March 20, 2004
 
As a test, I'm going to try turning on comments, thanks to Haloscan. Don't be alarmed if they disappear as suddenly as they appeared. Comment away!

UPDATE: I screwed up the way I originally did comments, but I'm leaving the extra one here since someone actually used it.

|
 
 
You are a human shadow. If a loved one needs you,
you are always right at his or her heels! Your
deep social connection with human beings
produces your qualities of genuine caring and
charisma. However, at times you are naive to
the true nature of your loved ones. Remember
that humans' gift of free will does not always
lead them in wise directions. But your essence
of love and friendship represent the other
precious gifts of humanity. Overall you are a
strikingly valuable and innocent being who has
a lot to give.


What Kind of Shadow Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

(Update: I got rid of the picture of the Anime Chick because it was an external link which I think was slowing down the loading.)
 
Friday, March 19, 2004
 
In the so funny it makes me want to cry department:

An article from The Onion: Raving Lunatic Obviously Took Some Advanced Physics.

It's funny, except it's not, because it's probably true, somewhere.
A lot of homeless people are mentally ill, and lot of them are probably perfectly smart and once had bright and promising careers. "There, but for the grace of God, go I" is the sincere sentiment rarely expressed in these kinds of situations--the humility and compassion necessary for that sentiment is usually subsumed in horror and fear. In reaction to that horror and fear we make jokes.

I'm not remotely complaining about The Onion piece; on the contrary I think this kind of dark back-handed humor is what they do best--it will, hopefully, make someone, somwhere think about the reality of the mentally ill when they're done laughing.
 
 
Nifty: GasBuddy Organization Inc - Find cheap gas prices in your city.
 
Thursday, March 18, 2004
 
Selective Service preparing for a hypothetical special draft of young men with computer science and foreign language skills.

This article from SFGate (well, from Hearst papers), courtesy of Nick, seems like it merits further attention from somebody. I certainly know a lot of young men who fall into this category.
No wonder they're considering a draft. They kicked out perfectly skilled and willing people just because they're gay.

 
Wednesday, March 17, 2004
 
This article about flexitarians, "vegetarians" who actually eat meat and meat eaters who mostly eat vegetarian, was heartening in that it pointed to a decrease in meat consumption. People eating less meat and being open to vegetarian protein sources is always going to make me happy. But I'm not too thrilled about people calling themselves vegetarians when they're willing to cheat. I prefer the way most of my friends deal with it--if they're not willing to give up the meat, they don't call themselves vegetarians, and just decrease their meat-intake without all the labeling. Why does this matter? Because for a vegetarian like me, who basically cannot make exceptions, the idea that vegetarians can pick and choose the times they eat vegetarian is not helpful. I have a hard enough time convincing people of my need to be vegetarian without flexitarians muddying up the waters. But it probably won't be much of an issue. I also don't like the idea of, say, Vegetarian Times eventually including meaty recipes. I go to magazines like that so I don't have to read recipes with meat in them. But overall I'm glad people are eating less meat, period.
 
 
Just got my copy of this week's Newsweek, featuring the article American Masala about how we desis are making our mark in the United States. The hardcopy version has more pictures and a list of "people you should know about," one of whom is Columbia's own Sree. Viva! Oh, I mean, uh, Jai!

 
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
 
Wow. G.I. seeks conscientious objector status. Man grappling with his conscience. I wish I could interview that guy.

 
Saturday, March 13, 2004
 
A beautiful photograph of spring in Kashmir, courtesy of Nick.
 
 
The Pain of Homecomeing

Well, it's good to be home for a bit. But it's getting increasingly difficult to land without getting all bleary eyed and weepy from the excruciating ear pain, particularly when I'm already a bit tired. So while Cirrus Earplanes are better than nothing, please let me know if you know of any other solution.
 
Thursday, March 11, 2004
 
Student Press Freedom & Discretion

Thisstory about a Long Island University student paper that published the bad grades of the resigning Student body president raises a number of interesting issues. Back home in Berkeley, I think the editors of the Daily Cal would laugh at the notion of having a faculty advisor--or the notion that the University had any relationship other than landlord to its offices in Eshelman Hall. The Daily Cal declared independence from the University in 1971, after the University attempted to fire three senior editors for daring to write an editorial supportive of student plans to reclaim people's park. While it may have had a motley record since then, I think the ideal of full fiscal independence from the university you're covering is pretty good.

But don't students enjoy the full protection of the first amendment? I must say I'm not quite sure, and am suspicious of my first gut reaction--"of course!"--in case it reflects my own super liberal education. At my college preparatory high school, when I restarted the "newspaper" (it ended up being more of a literary zine) I remember that the faculty advisor, the impassioned Carl Fredricksen, put essay after essay on the necessity on student free speech in my box, with FIRST AMENDMENT! scrawled across the top in his strident handwriting. Considering some of the things I ended up publishing (shudder), I can emphatically say that censored I was not.

According to the Student Press Law Center's FAQ on high school press:

Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, the 1988 U.S. Supreme Court decision, gave public high school officials greater authority to censor some school-sponsored student publications if they chose to do so. But the ruling doesn't apply to publications that have been opened as "public forums for student expression." It also requires school officials to demonstrate some reasonable educational justification before they can censor anything. In addition, some states (currently Arkansas, California, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas and Massachusetts) have passed laws that give students much stronger free expression protection than Hazelwood. Other states are considering such laws.

From their FAQ on college press:

Q: But if school officials or student governments fund a student publication, radio or television station, can't they censor it like any other publisher or owner could?
A: Not at a public school. The courts have ruled that if a school creates a student news or information medium and allows students to serve as editors, the First Amendment drastically limits the school's ability to censor. Among the censoring actions the courts have prohibited are confiscating copies of publications, requiring prior review, removing objectional material, limiting circulation, suspending editors and withdrawing or reducing financial support.


That's a little less clear. If a public university is the publisher, I'm guessing they cannot prevent one issue from going out, but they can decide they don't like the editor and they no longer want him "working for them." The problem with this case is that it's pretty icky--should they decide such a thing? On one hand, it can be seen as censorship. On the other hand, were they just a real publisher, and not a university, I might agree with them. Needlessly publishing a student's bad grades seems to be in the poorest of taste. Just because there's no law against doesn't mean you should.

And for that matter, I wish CNN hadn't reprinted the offending quote. I certainly hope my college grades never make it into print.
 
 
Terrorist Attack in Spain Kills at least 186 people, wounds more than 1000.

The International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies may need your help again. Right now the Spanish Red Cross says it does not require international assistance; keep an eye on it, however.
 
 
Woohoo! Made it into Dave Barry's Blog--Thanks to Dave Barry! And to Scott, for pointing that out to me. Oh, and to Felix Salmon for blogging the little knife at Memefirst. Hehheh.
 
Wednesday, March 10, 2004
 
Longer than 1 hour or not, Mr. President?

From Talking Points Memo, Yesterday morning's White House press gaggle: the press start showing their teeth. Check out the tenacity of Helen.
 
 
Stock Options & Executive Accountability.

TOMPAINE is common sense indeed..
On how to prevent executive stock options from encouraging executives to pump up the stock at any cost: "The real answer: Prevent executives from selling shares in their companies for at least five years from the time they acquire them. This way, they have an incentive to take a longer-term view. And that means, they're more likely to act for the benefit of their shareholders. "

 
 
Chechnya.

Read this from Slate:

""Our neighbors came out to see what was happening. They cocked their heavy machine gun and said: 'Stop or we'll shoot!' " Soltukhanova recalls. The men then checked the family's passports and documents. They then bundled Davletukaev into one of the jeeps; that was the last time his family saw him alive.

Davletukaev's murder fits a definite pattern. As in many cases, the armed men had no insignia on their uniforms; the unit markings on their vehicles were obscured.

According to Shakhman Akbulatov, a representative of the Russian human rights organization Memorial in Nazran, it's difficult to know who is doing the abducting in Chechnya. In many cases, he tells me, federal units are involved; more recently, though, the disappearances are attributed to "Kadyrovtsy"—militias loyal to Akhmad Kadyrov, the Kremlin-backed president of Chechnya."



 
 
Check out Steven Chen's In Spite of Everything, another Columbia J-schooler Blog.
 
 
George Bush, Bill Clinton, the Lincoln Bedroom, and the Old Boys Club.

Got this link to It's a Crock from Calpundit, discussing GWB's invites to the Lincoln Bedroom. I think they both leave out the most interesting bit of the story (from AP, via Yahoo!), which is the White House Defense. First the summary of the Clinton-era practice:

"Some guests spent a night in the Lincoln Bedroom, historic quarters that gained new fame in the Clinton administration amid allegations that Democrats rewarded major donors like Hollywood heavyweights Steven Spielberg and Barbra Streisand with accommodations there."

GWB in 2000:

"In a debate with Vice President Al Gore (news - web sites) in October 2000, Bush said: "I believe they've moved that sign, `The buck stops here,' from the Oval Office desk to `The buck stops here' on the Lincoln Bedroom. And that's not good for the country." "

What GWB's White House is doing now:
"Bush's overnight guest roster is virtually free of celebrities — pro golfer Ben Crenshaw is the biggest name — but not of campaign supporters.


At least nine of Bush's biggest fund-raisers appear on the latest list of White House overnight guests, covering June 2002 through December 2003, and-or on the Camp David list, which covers last year.
...
"Some of these guests are old classmates, some of them have been friends of theirs for many, many years," White House spokeswoman Erin Healy said. "They enjoy the opportunity to spend time with them." "


In other words, George Bush is allowed to keep the friends who grew up with him in the lap of luxury, treat them to a night in the White House, and take money from them without consideration of their patently relevant business interests---but a self-made man like Bill Clinton is not allowed make friends with other self-made people like Steven Spielberg, even though Steven Spielberg has cultural as well as monetary appeal. Ask yourself--if you managed to get to the point where you were an elected President, are there any directors that you might like to have over for a dinner and a movie in the White House first run screening room?

GWB: Man of the people.

Update from CNN, courtesy of Nick: CNN runs the same story, but their graf makes the difference clearer:

"But administration officials told CNN there is a difference: the Bushes' guests were all close friends or family members, and not just major donors and members of the Hollywood elite."

I wonder who used the phrase "Hollywood elite"---the White House or the writer. Yeah, those Texas oilmen are so much more salt-of-the-earth than artists and musicians.


 
Tuesday, March 09, 2004
 
Woke up. Closed a couple of windows. A mention of this on Making Light caught my eye. Read or Die (2001) (V). I want this. I think I will start making a wish list, if nothing else, for my own memory's sake. And besides, Graduation is not so far away. . .of course, I'm a sucker for the combination of MacGuffin & Beethoven.
 
 
Why I Want To Work For Slate

Rishi practically hollers across the country--the Pickup is here! Fred Kaplan neatly dissects George Bush's speech claiming that John Kerry wanted to gut intelligence spending. Asking for a refund on an unspent 1% of the total intelligence budget is not gutting.
 
 
Wow, this is quite an amazing journal from Slate: A week in the lif of an assistant professor of biomedical ethics who happens to have cystic fibrosis and just received a double lung transplant. I was under the impression that cystic fibrosis patients rarely made it to adulthood, and I never knew that double lung transplants were possible.
 
Monday, March 08, 2004
 
Chasing the Pickup, Part I: Kerry, Bush, Intelligence & the nuances of appropriation votes


Rishi points out a possible "Pickup" on the Appropriations Bill below. Another Slate Article, from a week-and-a-half ago.

If the following refers to the same Intelligence Spending bill Bush was talking about:

"Another bit of dishonesty is RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie's claim, at a news conference today, that in 1995, Kerry voted to cut $1.5 billion from the intelligence budget. John Pike, who runs the invaluable globalsecurity.org Web site, told me what that cut was about: The Air Force's National Reconnaissance Office had appropriated that much money to operate a spy satellite that, as things turned out, it never launched. So the Senate passed an amendment rescinding the money—not to cancel a program, but to get a refund on a program that the NRO had canceled. Kerry voted for the amendment, as did a majority of his colleagues."

Then the Pickup has been taken care of, and Bush didn't describe it very well. But giving Bush the benefit of the doubt, let us assume that there exists a spending bill cutting 40 programs (not just 1 satellite--though the above quote gives us a good idea of the scale of numbers we're talking about) that Kerry submitted to the clerk or whatever the procedure was, which was either abandoned by him as so many bills are or which in fact was met with the derision and scorn Bush wants us to contemplate. If such a bill exists, I would like to know more about it.
 
 
Pickup, Please: On Kerry, Bush, Intelligence Spending & Appropriations Bills.

Here's the AP report detailing the first major slug of the real campaign that I know of: Bush blasts Kerry over 1995 intelligence proposal

"Bush, during a fund-raiser in Dallas, called attention to a 1995 bill that Kerry sponsored to trim intelligence spending by $1.5 billion over five years.

. . .

Kerry spokesman Chad Clanton said the senator's bill was about opposing "business as usual in our intelligence community" and that he has supported $200 billion in intelligence funding over the past seven years -- a 50 percent increase since 1996. "



Okay, a straight AP story. He said, she said. I want the pick up, and I hope I get it soon. Let me know if you spot it.

What 40 programs were being cut in this massive spending cut bill? Why did no one else cosponsor it? Was it because they really didn't agree or because he immediately abandoned it for a similar bill that was more viable? Were similar bills introduced by anyone else in 1995? Between 1995 & 2001? How were the $200B in increased intelligence funds Clanton alludes to allocated? How does Kerry's votes on those funds compares to other Senators, on either side of the aisle?
These are questions I would like to know the answers to. If I had time I'd dig for them myself--they should all be a matter of public record.

An interesting anecdote about GWB fundraising buried at the end of the article:

"In between the money events, Bush was to stop by the popular Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo to meet with cowboy champions and peruse the cattle on display. Despite the political benefits of Bush's attendance -- it offered a more colorful photo opportunity than the two fund-raisers and allowed him to appeal to the sport's mostly white male fans -- the White House considered it an official event. That means taxpayers will foot the bill for at least part of the trip. "
 
 
A country I didn't know existed before today. Learn something new, every day.
 
Saturday, March 06, 2004
 
Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam: The Whole Earth is One Family

In the spirit of giving to others in the celebratory mood of this festive weekend, I wanted to highlight a few good causes that I've come across in the last few weeks.


Feed the Hungry

Scott sent me the following quote from Gandhi recently: "There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread."

  • If you're in college, check out the Collegiate Click Drive, started by my friend Benjamin Brandzel.

  • You can support Oxfam directly. "To achieve the maximum impact on poverty, Oxfams link up their work on development programs, humanitarian response, lobbying for policy changes at national and global level."

  • You can support the UN's World Food Programme directly. "In 2002, WFP fed 72 million people in 82 countries, including most of the world's refugees and internally displaced people. "

  • If you're so inclined, check out Food Not Bombs and Food For Life, which both provide vegetarian meals worldwide. The latter has done some particularly impressive work in South Africa and Russia, and its goal is "to not allow anyone within a ten mile radius of the temple to go hungry."

    This may not be the world's best cutting board, but I thought it looked kind of neat.

    Shelter the Cold

  • On February 24, 2004 a devastating earthquake hit Morocco, killing over 500 people and making thousands homeless. Dave writes from Morocco, "It's been amazing watching the outpouring of help from Moroccans." On Dec. 26, 2003 an earthquake hit Bam, Iran, killing 41,000 people; injuring approximately 30,000 and leaving upto 75,000 homeless. You can help the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies help others survive freezing nights. You can also read about how great donkeys are.

  • Habitat for Humanity builds houses for the homeless. The National Coalition for the Homeless maintains a directory of local service organization.

  • The United Nations High Commission on Refugees helps displaced people fleeing from war, genocide, and civil unrest. Current crises include attacks and bombings in Sudan, civil unrest in Haiti, and the constant turmoil of Afghanistan.

    If you even pick just one of these links and give a few dollars, you'll be making a big difference---remember that when it comes to food and shelter, especially in the developing world, a little money goes a long way. But even if you can't spare any change right now, keep them in mind for the next time you're flush with cash or need to celebrate something--and pass them on to your friends and family who might have better resources. Your time is also valuable, and maybe by clicking around some of these links you will be inspired to come up with ways to share a little of it with the world. It is my humble opinion that one should try to help because it's the right thing to do, and not let oneself get all worked up about how it still won't save the world. Yes, that's right, it won't. All of these problems will continue. But if one does good out of a sense of innate duty, for the cause of goodness itself, rather than doing good solely as the cause of some anticipated (and potentially obstructed) effect, one both avoids the cynicism that results from disappointment and, in a sense, at least helps goodness itself to be in the world.

    Well, it's worth a blog at least. Happy 518.
     
  •  
    Holi, NYC24.org, Alexandra Huddleston's New Site, Best Wishes on a Purnima

    Yes, I've been gone for a while. I have an awful lot of work to do. Just a few quick notes.

    Happy Holi! If you're in the Bay Area, I'm about to make a rare and unusual plug for a Stanford event. Please consider buying tickets for one of Asha's 2004 Holi Celebrations. All proceeds go to supporting a great cause--literacy in India--and it should be a lot of fun. May you have a colorful and festival weekend, and a beautiful spring.

    Check out www.nyc24.org, the new home of Columbia Journalism's web magazine, NYC24, staffed by yours truly among others. In particular, please check out this week's new Food issue, and a story on Comfort Food by yours truly and Jennifer Esty.

    Alexandra Huddleston, one of my class's most talented and prolific photojournlists, has launched her new site. She has some great pictures there.

    Vrinda Normand, a friend of mine, wrote this article for San Jose's Weekly Metro paper about the marriages in San Francisco.

    I feel the need to point out a TalkingPointsMemo post and an Electrolite post.

    A note to those in the know, with best wishes for all: It's the full moon of the month of Phalgun. Here's to the well-being of the world. Happy 518.
     
    Saheli Datta started this when she was a journalism student at Columbia in New York. Now she lives in the Bay Area. *Old people call me R. New people, call me Saheli. Thanks! My homepage. Specifically, my links. Email me: Saheli [AT] Gmail [dot] Com

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    Blogs I Read (Or Try To)
    113th Street
    american footprints(Nadezhda & Praktike)
    ANNA's Diary
    Apartment Therapy
    Armchair Generalist
    Back To Iraq 3.0 (Chris Albritton)
    Dave Barry
    The Bellman
    Mine's On The 45 (Brimful)
    Campaign Desk (CJR)
    ChennaiCentral
    ClimateBoy
    Combing the Sphere
    Crooked Timber
    Daily Dose of Imagery
    The Daily Rhino (Bong Breaker)
    Dark Days Ahead
    The Decembrist
    Brad DeLong
    Atanu Dey on India's Development (Deeshaa)
    Daniel Drezner
    Ennis
    Ephemera
    Cyrus Farivar
    Finding My Voice
    Forsv
    Neil Gaiman
    Ganesh Blog
    Geeky Chic 2.0 (Echan)
    Geomblog
    Green Ink!
    Heliolith
    Alexandra Huddleston
    Iddybud (Jude Nagurney Camwell)
    Indeterminacy
    India Uncut
    InSpiteOfEverything
    Intel Dump: Phillip Carter et al
    The Intersection (Chris Mooney)
    Jesus Politics
    John and Belle Have a Blog
    Mark A. R. Kleiman
    KnowProse (Taran Rampersad)
    1Locana
    Maenad (Nori Heikkinen)
    Scott McCloud
    Mind Without Borders
    Electrolite: Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden
    Corey Pein
    Political Animal(Kevin Drum, formerly Calpundit)
    Kevin G. Powell
    QuakeHelp (South Asian Quake)
    Radiation Persuasion (Nick)
    Reneebop
    Rhinocrisy
    Scott Rosenberg(Salon.com)
    Rox Populi
    Felix(&Rhian)Salmon
    samVaad
    Nick Schager
    Idea Spout: Daniel Sanchez
    Sepia Mutiny
    Amardeep Singh
    Snarkmarket (Robin Sloan & Matt Thompson)
    South-East Asian Earthquake and Tsunami Blog
    SreeTips: New To Sree
    Steprous (Bear)
    Robert Stribley
    Subjunctive.net:klog
    Talking Points Memo: Joshua Micah Marshall
    Tech Policy
    TiffinBox
    A Tiny Revolution
    To The Teeth
    TreeHugger
    Unfogged
    VatulBlog
    Venk@
    Manish Vij
    Vinod's Blog
    War and Piece
    Nollind Whachell
    Wonkette
    WorldChanging
    Matthew Yglesias:Old
    Yglesias:Tpmcafe
    Zoo Station:Reuben Abraham
    Ethan Zuckerman
    Zwichenzug



    Some Categories

    Blogs focusing on policy, politics, and national security:
    Armchair Generalist
    Back To Iraq 3.0 (Chris Albritton)
    The Decembrist
    Brad DeLong
    Daniel Drezner
    Eschaton(Atrios)
    Green Ink!
    Iddybud (Jude Nagurney Camwell)
    Idea Spout: Daniel Sanchez
    Informed Comment: Juan Cole
    Intel Dump: Phillip Carter
    The Intersection (Chris Mooney)
    Irregular Analyses
    Jesus Politics
    Mark A. R. Kleiman
    Liberals Against Terrorism(Nadezhda & Praktike)
    Political Animal(Kevin Drum, formerly Calpundit)
    Talking Points Memo: Joshua Micah Marshall
    War and Piece
    Wonkette
    Yglesias:Tpmcafe

    Photo Blogs
    Daily Dose of Imagery
    Ephemera
    Alexandra Huddleston
    Radiation Persuasion (Nick)
    TiffinBox

    Columbia Journalism Folks
    Apartment Therapy
    Back To Iraq 3.0 (Chris Albritton)
    Campaign Desk (CJR)
    Ranajit Dam
    Cyrus Farivar
    Alexandra Huddleston
    InSpiteOfEverything
    Corey Pein
    Nick Schager
    Zoo Station:Reuben Abraham

    Literature, Fiction and Entertainment
    Dave Barry
    Neil Gaiman
    Electrolite: Patrick Nielsen Hayden
    Scott McCloud


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