Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Zbigniew Brzezinski rewrites history

Until de Gaulle came to power, the government was getting all the time the same kind of advice we now are hearing about the situation in Iraq. It may get better. Yes, three years have been wasted, but maybe we can go on for another three years. And we’re going to do better; we’re going to control Algiers.

[snip]

And then a man came along, de Gaulle, who instead of listening to the same degree of timid consensus — “Gee, we are stuck, but we don’t know what to do, so let’s continue being stuck and maybe we’ll win” — he realized that this is a wrong war.



Brzezinski, is right about Iraq, but his history is seriously twisted. His version of France and Algeria is exactly like writing "Until Nixon came to power, the government was getting all the time the same kind of advice we now are hearing about the situation in Iraq. It may get better. [snip].

And then a man came along, Nixon, who instead of listening to the same degree of timid consensus — “Gee, we are stuck, but we don’t know what to do, so let’s continue being stuck and maybe we’ll win” — he realized that this is a wrong war.

Like Nixon, de Gaulle was in power for about half of the war. He came to power (in a rather less regular way which was not his fault*) at a time when most other politicians were much more nearly convinced that it was time to leave. In the end, he came around too (really has a way of getting real on you).

From the old Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Gaulle#1958.E2.80.941962:_Founding_of_the_Fifth_Republic

" In December, de Gaulle was elected President by the parliament with 78% of the vote, and inaugurated in January 1959.

[huge snip]

In March 1962 de Gaulle arranged a cease-fire in Algeria and a referendum supported independence, finally accomplished on 3 July 1962."

Brzezinski's "then this man came along" ignores over three (3) years of war and death under de Gaulle (hmmm do I read three years in Brzezinski's bit). He is rewriting history. Interestingly, there is no possible advantage gained by his distortion. de Gaulle is hardly popular among those Americans who have to be convinced we should leave Iraq.

I assume he is simply honestly ignorant (no surprise).


*The odd way de Gaulle came to power is that a prime minister was elected who wanted to get out of Algeria. Various generals attempted a coup. Extremely powerful executive President de Gaulle was a compromise between following the constitution and a military dictatorship.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "11/21/2006 11:57:00 PM":

Hi people
I do not know what to give for Christmas of the to friends, advise something ....


Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "11/21/2006 11:57:00 PM":

De Gaulle seized power in a popular coup engineered by the French of Algeria to whom he had promised (via General Massu, who was later retired just as he was contemplating a coup) he would put up a real fight Algeria, and he did for a while, torturing and killing hundreds of thousands to show his good will, then he threw the towel in, and was forever considered a traitor by the French of Algeria, as well as by types like Le Pen...

Anonymous doesn't know what to get people for Christmas but he (or she) seems to dislike De Gaulle even more than I do. Has bad taste in music though

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "11/21/2006 11:57:00 PM":

Hello. Good day
Who listens to what music?
I Love songs Justin Timberlake and Paris Hilton
Past Time for a Primary Challenge

Look I too think Duke Cunningham does not belong on the floor of the house, but there is no reason Democrats have to put up with someone like Jim Moran in Northern Northern Virginia.


Via David Kurtz but why is some guy in Missouri writing about a congressman elected from (partly) inside the beltway ?
Professor Barnett coronates himself Dean of the "Leave No Congressman Behind education plan".

McJoan is very pleased that Dean Barnett recognises that Kos is an asset to the Democratic party.

I am very amused by the Dean's interesting approach to the English Language.

FAQ - Republican Congressional Leadership
Posted by: Dean Barnett at 4:23 PM

[snip]


5) Back on topic – how disastrous were the Republican leadership choices?

Eh. It would have been nice to have seen a new Newt Gingrich coronated, but I’m not sure there’s such a being in the Republican caucus. Besides, the congressional leadership just won’t be all that important over the next couple of years.

6) Now you tell me, after I waste a week of my life on conference calls with these guys who seem to think “book larnin’” is beneath them. Why’s that?

[snip]

7) But how about legislation? Won’t the lack of leadership hurt us there?

Well, we’ll probably cut-and-run on the minimum wage, but other than that I don’t see any Democratic boondoggles that will pass with a veto-proof majority. So all in all, it should be two years of stasis in Congress, which incidentally will beat the hell out of the last four years. (See “prescription drug benefits” for more details.)

[snip]

9) What’s been the reaction in the blogosphere about the same Republican congressional leaders being re-signed for the 110th congress?

The reactions that I’ve read and that have come in my inbox have ranged from panic to outrage to outraged panic. Doesn’t seem like anyone is very happy today.

10) And yet you’re not on the verge of despair?

Not at all. Despair was last week with the election results, the shameful timing of the Rumsfeld firing and the Gates naming. The dye was cast then. There’s nothing that could have happened in the Republican leadership conference that could have put lipstick on this pig of a month.

Besides, I’m very excited about my Leave No Congressman Behind education plan.


I'd say the dye that was cast last week was indigo.

Now I hope that it is the height of absurdity for me, Robert Waldmann,to comment on the Dean's spelllin in a post which announces his crownation as Dean of the Leave No Congressman Behind education program. As loyal reader of this blog knows, I think our purpose is to reach the nadir of idiocy, and my commenting on someone elses speling is as close as I have gotten.

I am honestly impressed that someone who thinks very highly of Newt Gingrich recognises that gridlock will be an improvement over the Republican assault on the US treasury.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Milton Friedman an Encominium

I never understood why Friedman considered the quantity theory of money to be the belly button of the universe. I agree with Paul Krugman and Brad DeLong (who tend to know what they are talking about) that monetarism was actually a very minor aspect of Friedman's contribution to economics.

He was brilliant (it is strange and painful to use the past tense). His contributions include the accelerationist critque of the Phillips curve (independently made by Phelps who just won a nobel prize for that), the permanent income hypothesis, the description of what a "peso problem" is, the serious observation of the need to look at prices which are actually paid not list prices etc etc etc.

He was often brilliant. He obtained his god-like status for some economist (and demonic mystique to the others) because he bet his reputation on a hotly contested prediction again and again and again and won each time. Might have been a long long string of luck, but, personally I doubt it.

Friedman was three things, an economist who was strangely brilliant (or maybe he sold his soul to the devil), a monetarist fanatic with a fetish for MV=pY, and a libertarian pro-market extremist out there with Hayek and Rand. I see these three Friedman's as separate (I want to admire the first and ignore the other two).

Friedman saw a connection. The only one I see is that he reliably opposed a Keynsian consensus which I don't even remember. He is so influential that, in the UK, "monetarist" is used to mean "pro-market" or maybe "indifferent to the needs of the poor."

In many fields, it is difficult (to put it mildly) to find intelligent thoughtful intellectually serious conservatives. Economics is not one of those fields. Many brilliant thoughtful economists are free market fanatics. However, even with such competitors for the crown of the profession's leading opponent of state intervention in the market, Friedman clearly stood head and shoulders above the others.
He was a genius and (perhaps because) he could explain all of his thoughts to ordinary people.

update: I get a link from a libertarian site (didn't you guys notice that I wanted to ignore Friedman's free market fanatacism).
Chickenhawk George Bush finally in Vietnam

I doubt he noticed that the flags don't look quite like the on they posted at www.whitehouse.gov

Friday, November 17, 2006

This comment is too good to bury with the post.


Kynn has left a new comment on your post "11/10/2006 10:13:00 AM":

Not a typo -- Russ Dove has very poor spelling skills, which is ironic for someone who claims to judge others' English ability.

As for voting, Arizona allows convicted felons to vote again once they have served their time. Dove told me that he voted in the election, and he had an "i voted!" sticker, so it seems that he probably did vote.


Wowwwww. noww i am in a week posishun to komment on sumwun ho laiks to judge others' English ability and has purr speling skils beins such a one myself. But, I mean like wowwwwwwwww that is one awesome catch Kynn.

Now as to the state of Arizona, it seems that "Must not be a convicted felony, unless your civil rights have been restored" is not only ungrammatic but also misleading (perhaps deliberately so) if it is SOP to restore civil rights to felons who have done their time.
Time for some culture

Reading this reference to Shakespeare "Once More Into the Breach!
The “breach” being the President’s ass, his head being what’s going in “once more.”"
(via Brad) I recalled an English translation of the last line of the 21st canto of the Divine Commedy "and he made a bugle of his breach." and thought it was time to consider the strange link between war, warriors, the heart of darkness and the place where the sun doesn't shine.

Hence Culture Time

History

What do Julius Ceasar, Alexander the Great, Richard the Lionhearted, Frederick the Great and Ernst Rohm have in common ?

Literature

A guy asks much younger guys for something

"Once more into the breach dear friends"

Henry V by William Shakespeare (not Mark Foley)

God's plan is explained

ed elli avea del cul fatto trombetta.

Io vidi già cavalier muover campo,
e cominciare stormo e far lor mostra,
e talvolta partir per loro scampo;

corridor vidi per la terra vostra,
o Aretini, e vidi gir gualdane,
fedir torneamenti e correr giostra;

quando con trombe, e quando con campane,
con tamburi e con cenni di castella,
e con cose nostrali e con istrane;

né già con sì diversa cennamella
cavalier vidi muover né pedoni,
né nave a segno di terra o di stella.


L'inferno Cantos 21 and 22 by Dante Alighieri
(not Ted Hagard).

The English translation of the first line of the quote (last line of canto 21) which was clearly an embarassed effort to Bowdlerize Dante (the correct tranlsation of "culo" is "ass" as confirmed by a laureata of the scuola normale superiore).
The unfortunate translater may have had good reason to believe that he knew better than Dante what was and was not appropriate, but he should have remembered his Shakespeare.

Finally the supreme expression of this literature, the telos towards which Dante and Shakespeare were drawn is, of course, Keyboard Kommando Komics

I assure the alarmed reader that I am absolutely not homophobic and I even have an open ... mind about S&M. I just wish those guys would work out their fantasies with consenting adults.

update: The poor man explains (with a further kultural reference)

Basically, this is why when people whine about “civility,” I photoshop talking assholes on their foreheads. I’m trying to drag down the level of political discourse in this country - I’m really, really trying - but it’s like farting in the Augean stables.


I laugh out loud. My 9 year old daughter asked why I laughed. I said because I just read something funny written by Andrew Northrup. She asks if that is anyone important. I reply, very important and run to the hamper to put on my order of the Shrill t-shirt, which is slighly smelly but remains my most prized possession.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Robert's Stochastic Thoughts Reader DWS writes


> Quoting Robert Waldmann :
>
> > .... but they don't even keep track of the ratio of hot low cap
> > stock tips to penis enlargement advertisements

I got one spam item not long ago with the
all-purpose subject line "watch it grow !"

(think that one was a stock tip, actually)...
- Hide quoted text -

DWS

Robert adds

Look like some spammer just figured out how to trick the gmail spam filter. I trust google will figure out how to block them (it) tomorrow. La lotta continua.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

To me, the desire to be President of the United States in itself means you're a psychopath who should never be President of the United States. Unfortunately, of course, this desire is a job requirement. You have to be Catholic to be Pope, and you have to be dangerous and sick to be president.

Via Glenn Greenwald

Jonathan Schwarz is going on my hotlist (even though he is a Yalie).

and how about this

Will our efforts be Mayagüez sized? Or bigger, like Grenada? Given all the humiliation America's foreign policy cadre will (believe themselves to) experience, it's quite possible it will be larger still. Watch out, Mars.
That's Nice

HARTFORD, Conn. - Democrat Joe Courtney's victory over Republican Rep. Rob Simmons in their U.S. House contest was confirmed Tuesday [snip]

Recounts showed that Courtney won by 91 votes instead of the 167-vote margin counted on election night, according to results tabulated by town clerks and reported to The Associated Press. Nearly 250,000 votes were cast.

Both parties monitored the recount and confirmed that Courtney had the final edge, although their figures differed. Republicans said their count showed Courtney winning by 96 votes, while Democrats had the margin at 93.


I like the result, but the really wonderful part is the fact that the Republican's calculate that they lost by 3 more votes than the Democrats and 5 more than the town clerks. This shows that there are still honest Republicans (at least in New England).

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Beyond 1984

Emanuele Millemaci explained to me that lo stato Italiano is following me.

Big Brother only watched Winston Smith when he was at home. Now they can follow you if you have your cell phone on.

Modern cellular technology would have ruined the book. Since there would have been no hope of hiding, Smith and Julia* would never have tried anything.

don't try to call me. I'm keeping my cell phone off.

*thanks Arwen
Below I Praise an Article in the Washington Post
but this is ridiculous.

Caught in the Web
More People Say Heavy Internet Use Is Disrupting Their Lives, and Medical Experts Are Paying Attention
by January W. Payne


Sure I surf a lot, but I'm not addicted. I can quit any time I want to.

I just don't want to.

Hey who are you to snear. You are addicted to "the real world" whatever that is (can't find it with google must not exist).
Uh Oh
A Very Good Article in the Washington Post Written by John Fortier of the American Enterprise Institute.

Wonders will never cease. The article notes that the principle intra party shift due to the November 7 election is that there is now only one Republican reprentative representing New England and that New York is so dominated by the Democrats that "After Tuesday, if you get into a car in Manhattan and drive north out of the city, you would have to go nearly 200 miles until you reached territory represented by Republicans."

Fortier looks at districts by Presidential vote "Before Tuesday's elections there were eighteen House Republicans who represented districts that John Kerry had won in 2004. Ten of those eighteen lost." and looks at ideology "Among the House seats that changed hands, nine out of the twenty most liberal House Republicans lost, using the rankings of political scientists Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal (voteview.com). And nineteen seats that changed hands had been held by Republicans in the more liberal half of their caucus."

The article is substantive and to the point. It shows the utter idiocy of the more recent of these two magazine covers. The center is definitely not the place to be.

All in all, this one article in the Washington Post reaches the level one would expect of a much more serious news source such as www.washingtonmonthly.com

To me, the amazing thing is that I am amazed. I really think that the article by John Fortier is the exception that proves the rule. I really honestly don't know why there are so few articles like this one in daily newspapers. It is by no means too technical for Washington Post readers and contains much more information than, say, an average weeks worth of op eds. Also, since the claims are supported by data (indeed they simply summarize data) they are, for what they are worth, definitely true. Most analyses of the elections do not come close to this standard.

Why not ? What is the problem ?

And as for Joe Klein, why doesn't he stick to fiction ... uhm let me rephrase that, why is his fiction published in a news magazine ?

update: Real Clear Politics jumps the shark

via Kos

Jay Cost writes "This is the Democrats' major limitation this year. They just have relatively few Republican-held districts, about 15, where Kerry beat Bush in 2004."

recall "Before Tuesday's elections there were eighteen House Republicans who represented districts that John Kerry had won in 2004." Now 18 is, indeed, about 15, but why couldn't Cost have done the calculation ? Too much work ? It would take me a while, but he should know where to get the info in a minute.

update 2: My mistake. It would take me about a minute too.
Here is presidential vote by district
via Wikipedia via my very first google search (also first link on which I clicked after googling).

Elapsed time around one minute.

Maybe the problem is the Cost (polidata wants money). Also the House makes me look up members by district clicking on states one by one. Sooo much work maybe it would be quicker to google and it would certainly be quicker to just pull a number out of my hat.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Well beyond Parody

Over at Daily Kos Kynn Bartlett describes voter intimidation in Tucson Arizona.
He followed up a MALDEF press release


In the morning on voting day, two men -- anti-immigrant crusader Russ Dove and his cameraman -- showed up at precinct 49 in Tucson, at the Iglesia Bautista church, 4502 S. 12th St. Their plan: To harass and intimidate Spanish-speaking voters by using an "English-only" petition to screen for "illegal immigrants" trying to vote, videotape them, and post their likenesses on the Internet. Roy Warden also came, armed with a gun -- as he usually does -- and the trio started approaching a small number of people. MALDEF monitors were there, to observe the effect of Arizona's new requirement for ID to vote, and observed the attempted intimidation tactics.


Russ Dove's idea is that voters are required to speak English because the ability to speak English is required for naturalization. Mr Dove is apparently not aware that there are US born US citizens who do not speak English. I guess he has heard of Puerto Rico, but I don't know if he doesn't know that the principle language used in Puerto Rico s Spanish or if he doesn't know that Puerto Ricans are US citizens who are perfectly free to move to the mainland and vote whenever they want to. Also there are US born US citizens on the mainland who speak only Spanish. Only an idiot could honestly believe that all US citizens speak English. Also English fluency is not always required for naturalization as explained by Kynn in his post.

The part I like best (which could easily be a Kynn typo) is this

But back to Russ Dove's plan.

He asked for people who agree with him to fill out an online application form to watch the polling places:

1) FILL OUT THE FORM BELOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS
1-A) I WILL CONTACT YOU TO DISCUSS PRECINCT ASSIAGNMENT
2) PRINT OUT 2(TWO) COPIES OF YOUR PRECINCT ASSIAGNMENT


Russ Dove also wrote "No speak English - No Vote! ".
I for wun am reel gladd he didn't say "can't spel kant voute" cause I wuld be in truble tooo.

Since Dove is a convicted felon, he can't vote in Arizona so he is probably jelous of non English speaking US citizens who can.

I quote the web page of the Arizona Secretary of State

Q: What are the qualifications to register to vote?

Answer:

* Must be a Citizen of the United States of America
* Must be a resident of Arizona
* Must be 18 years of age or more on or before the day of the next regular
General Election
* Must not be a convicted felony, unless
your civil rights have been restored
* Must not been adjudicated incompetent


Wholly fuc we need some more immigrants, so that there will be some people in the USA who can write English korektly.

Roy Warden has left a new comment on your post "11/10/2006 10:13:00 AM":

Listen up, Pendejos and the Left Wing.

Your days in the sun and a "free ride" are over. The Gringos who are watching me Burn Mexican Flags and listening to my speech are waking up.

If you are illegal, sometime en la noche I will find you. I will turn you in to La Migra and you will be gone, "poof!", just like that.

Beware Cinco Cosas: La Noche, La Chupacabra, La Migra, The American Rule of Law, and Warden, the Notorious Mexican Flag Burner.

Illegal aliens, eschuame. Beware la noche. We are coming for you and you are going back to Mexico.

http://www.wardenburnsmexicanflags.com


I am sooo scared Roy. By the way, how did you know that I spent 3 hours in Tijujana in 1975 ?

update:

Kynn has left a new comment on your post "11/10/2006 10:13:00 AM":

Not a typo -- Russ Dove has very poor spelling skills, which is ironic for someone who claims to judge others' English ability.

As for voting, Arizona allows convicted felons to vote again once they have served their time. Dove told me that he voted in the election, and he had an "i voted!" sticker, so it seems that he probably did vote.


Wowwwww. noww i am in a week posishun to komment on sumwun ho laiks to judge others' English ability and has purr speling skils beins such a one myself. But, I mean like wowwwwwwwww that is one awesome catch Kynn.

Now as to the state of Arizona, it seems that "Must not be a convicted felony, unless your civil rights have been restored" is not only ungrammatic but also misleading (perhaps deliberately so) if it is SOP to restore civil rights to felons who have done their time.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

District the Thirteenth Part II

You have got to be kidding me. The race to replace the dread Rep. Katharine Harris (you know the one who stole the 2000 election for Bush) is in a recount.

Democrat Christine Jennings lost to Republican Vern Buchanan by 368 votes

that's hundreds of votes (with an h) just like old times.

No more pregnant chads of course, they used touch screen voting machines, but confused voters complain that the butterfly ballot has made it into the digital age

A review of Sarasota County voting results shows that

[snip]

More than 18,000 voters who showed up at the polls voted in other races but not the Buchanan-Jennings race.


many voters say the unusual undervote was caused by badly designed touch-screen ballots, which they say hid the race or made it hard to verify if they had cast their vote.

More than 120 Sarasota County voters contacted the Herald-Tribune to report such problems, almost all regarding the Jennings-Buchanan race.


Needless to say, Sarasota County is a Democratic strong hold. If the 18,000 missing votes had split the way counted votes did, Jennings would have won.
Ewing *owns* Dallas. Not J.R. but Darlene

Dallas County still calls its historic courthouse Old Red, but on Tuesday it went "blue."

[snip] Democrats retook the courthouse in a similar, surprising sweep.

"We didn't expect it, but it's fun," Democratic Party Chair Darlene Ewing

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The world's most august deliberative body has no Talent at all.

as the Jackie Gleason (whose talent I am not questioning said) "how sweet it is".
Licenced to Thrill

It is currently Webb by 0.07% which is now my most favorite fairly small number in the whole world (or at least Italy and Virginia).

Also the WAPO has McCaskill ahead which would ... result in a hypothetical possibility which depends on many precincts in Missouri, absentee ballots and lots and lots of lawyers.

Got to take 90 minute breaks from looking at election results more often.
I am obsessively following the official unofficial numbers for the Virginia senate race
(Makaka vs Webb).

At the moment, with 97.42% of precincts reporting it is *still* too close to call.
Allen is ahead by 4,722 votes but the remaining few precincts to report include precincts in Richmond City (way for Webb), one in Arlington county (so way for Webb tht one precinct can be worth net hundreds of votes) and, mostly, Prince William county, which really ought to be more for Webb since it is in Northern Virginia and I have actually set foot in it.

Update: midnight EST Allen's lead is now 3,163 or 0.14 % of votes cast (recall the Italian center left won by 0.07% and don't mentione 2000). The new reports are mostly Prince William county and some from Richmond. Assuming that non reporting precincts have vote proportions equal to those alaready counted, I calculate Allen by 700, way back when he was ahead by 4,722 I calculated Allen by 600, so things are (sadly) on course.

update 2: Blogged too soon. Results coming in. at 12:05 Allen was ahead by good old 0.07% at 12:10 by 0.08% = 1,868. My rough calculation implies Allen by 100 (that would be 0.005 %). Do *not* mention 2000 to me.

Update 3: Well that was a pause that refreshed. Note a calculation under silly assumptions is not a prediction. Note also that with 100% of precincts reporting that Webb has 2,726 more votes than Allen.

Absentee ballots, especially overseas absentee ballots like mine, might reelect Allen. The numbers are horribly similar to numbers I saw in 2000 (and more pleasantly similar to percentages I saw in 2006).

Wowwwwww. Got to try this disconnect from the internet approach to election watching more often.

update 4 unofficially officially 0.37 % of precincts haven't reported and Webb is only 0.33% ahead so it is possible that Allen could be ahead when all precincts report (rotflmao).

Update 3 stands corrected.
CNN Early Exit Polls

via In the Details

VIRGINIA

D: 52
R: 47

RHODE ISLAND

D: 53
R: 46

PENNSYLVANIA

D: 57
R: 42

OHIO

D: 57
R: 43

NEW JERSEY

D: 52
R: 45

MONTANA

D: 53
R: 46

MISSOURI

D: 50
R: 48

MARYLAND

D: 53
R: 46

TENNESSEE

D: 48
R: 51

ARIZONA

D: 46
R: 50
Tradesports offers me the graph of the price of a contract which 100 if the Republicans keep control of the senate (so is the percent probability as perceived by the marginal tradesports bettors)


alt="Price for Republican Party 2006 Mid Term Election Control at TradeSports.com"
title="Price for Republican Party 2006 Mid Term Election Control at TradeSports.com" border="0">

you can see a drop in the prob Repubs keep senate around 6:00 pm EST roughly the time of the first leaked exit polls at political wire (I can't get on the site it is flooded).





This is the long view showing responses to polls.


alt="Price for Republican Party 2006 Mid Term Election Control at TradeSports.com"
title="Price for Republican Party 2006 Mid Term Election Control at TradeSports.com" border="0">
Early Exit Polls From Taegen Goddard's Political Wire

Via Americablog

be warned they were misleading in 2004. I am ignoring my own warning and celebrating.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Looks like lots of people are looking for leaked exit polls.

Too bad I don't know anything you don't know. However, this is the first time
I have ever managed to trick google.

I guess you have already read what Kevin Drum has to say.

The interesting bit is that www.gop.com is claiming exit polls are unreliable.

I just hope they will be the ones complaining about Deibold machines when the night is over.
Bet On It

For those like me who can't wait for exit polls, you can look at betting odds.

go to the iowa market or www.tradesports.com (registration required)

I got this from Mark Kleiman and Glenn Greenwald

also betfair (registration required) has only Senate prob and House prob and they are down anyway.
CNN reports on roboscam 2006 Crooks and liars has video

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

yep that's Josh Marshall's image being broadcast world wide. Maybe there is some justice after all. I don't know if Marshall just saved the Republic, but that's mainly because I don't know if the Republic is currently saved or doomed all the same.

I do know that Josh Marshall is what every journalist should try to be, which is what every active citizen should try to be, which is what every ... well in any case very good.
Is This on the Air or just on ABC's blog ?

Wish I knew.

update: Now it is on the air. Note the deceptive subtitle which accuses Democrats too even though the article reports on a Republican dirty trick.

Monday, November 06, 2006

What I Learned from my Ballot

I have voted my 2006 general election Massachusetts absentee ballot. There are no nail biters in Massachusetts this year, but it was fun to vote for an African American candidate for governor. Also I wasn't sure that an amendment to ban gay marriage hadn't gotten on the ballot by citizens initiative some how (I know I would have heard of it but just to be sure). I learned there was no such ballot question although there were three. John Kerry advised me to vote yes on question 3 the day after I mailed the ballot back (with yes on 3 marked).

I had a choice in my vote for congressman. Michael Capuano has a competitor nominated by the socialist workers party. I voted for Capuano. In the past I have been amused to have a choice between Michael Capuano.

Oh yes and I also discovered that Kennedy is running for re-election this year. I have been following the campaign obsessively and have found no mention of him, no articles, no polls, nothing.


I marked and mailed my absentee ballot with plenty of time to spare. We Massachusetts voters now get 10 days grace just like Floridians. In 2000 it was due by 5:00 PM election day,that is, before polls closed. This made me rather irritated about Republicans talking about the right of absentee voters whose votes arrived within 10 days of election day to have their votes counted (the result of judicial activism since no such provision was in Florida electoral law) and simultaneously that all votes had to be counted 3 days before the last valid vote arrived and ... can't get started on that again (thank god I didn't have a blog in 2000).

update: There have been polls on the Massachusetts Senate race. Note the plural, there have been three.
Nailed to the Wall by Do Not Call

Martha Child, an independent who generally votes for Democrats, said she received five calls from the National Republican Congressional Committee in two days despite having her number listed on a federal "Do-Not-Call" list. Under state law, delivering pre-recorded political messages to numbers on any federal do-not-call list is a violation, punishable by a fine of $5,000 per call.

But a spokesman for the NRCC said the group did not violate the law.

"Because we're not a state entity, that law does not apply," said Alex Burgos.

Jim Kennedy, an election law attorney in the Attorney General's civil bureau, said it doesn't matter where a group is located or who is making the calls -- if they are being made to New Hampshire citizens, they are illegal.


music to my ears. $ 5,000 a pop.

And it's not just New Hampshire. Getting chilly for the RNC in Bismark

BISMARCK, N.D. - Recorded calls recently made from the Republican National Committee to the homes of GOP supporters were illegal, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said. An RNC lawyer disagreed with the Republican attorney general, but said the calls would stop.

Stenehjem's Democratic opponent, Mayville attorney William Brudvik, demanded a formal investigation and said the RNC should be fined $2,000 for each call, which featured the recorded voice of the party's chairman, Ken Mehlman


Note RNC not NRCC. Only 2,000 a pop but still very very nice. I love the bit about hwo the Attorney General is a Republican.

Ooooops not just for Republicans.

INDIANAPOLIS -- Attorney General Steve Carter filed a lawsuit in Harrison County yesterday against American Family Voices for making automated, recorded telephone calls to voters that he said violate state law.

Carter also is seeking a preliminary injunction to force the group, which has ties to Democrats, from making future calls.


I say throw American Family Voices to the wolves even if they are just normally evil telemarketers and not deliberately irritating deceptive telemarketers.

Indiana is the state of a test case. Free eats better find some way to eat for free.

links from flying hampster.

This is out of date but promising.

Maybe someone understands this. I don't see the "political exemption" in the description of Federal law, so I don't know what to make of it. Still you can check your state for a political exemption.

update: The federal law is very clear on one point and the RNCC broke the law.

47 CFR 1200 (b)(1) provides that prerecorded telephone messages must “[a]t the beginning of the message, state clearly the identity of the business, individual, or other entity that is responsible for initiating the call.”


That is from a letter to the AG, the head of the FCC and the head of the FEC by John Conyers ranking member of the justice committee and John Dingell ranking member of the energy and commerce committee.

Very good John and John. Publicity will make this scam backfire. Other Johns like say John Kerry should denounce the calls as should a couple of Clintons
$ 1,000,000,000 fine (in my dreams).

I note a little math booboo over at DailyKos

Republic not Empire writes

Well, there is a big difference here. The NRCC was calling Granite Staters on the Do-Not-Call list, which is a violation of state law, carrying a penalty of $5,000 per violation. To date, the NRCC admitted to 200,000 robocalls.

That means the NRCC is potentially facing a $100 million dollar penalty.


Actually no. $ 5,000 x 200,000 = 1,000 million = one Billion with a B.

OK OK a typo is more likely than a math error and not everyone is on the do not call list. Still looks like the NRCC might be bankrupt this time next year.

I was trying to calm my racing heart by telling myself that they will just appeal up to the supreme court which will do the dirty deed (again) for the good of the REPUBLICan party. Then I read this

The Supreme Court, by not hearing an appeal, upheld a North Dakota law banning robocalls by telemarketers — and others, such as political advocacy groups.


Oh myyyyy that is nice. I don't think even the current 9 would be willing to overturn a precedent so quickly.

What to do ? Get "gotvoice" and nail them. Someone calls you at 6:00 AM and you really would like them to pay a $ 5,000 fine ? Get GotVoice. It's not just New Hampshire either.

Looking forward to dirty tricks from the ARCC (American Republican Congressional Campaign Commmittee) after the NRCC ceases to exist.

Come on let me dream.

update: Not a typo a math boo boo. The potential possible conceivable fine is $1,000,000,000

says the ap.
Under state law, delivering prerecorded political messages to numbers on any federal do-not-call list is punishable by a fine of $5,000 per call.

Jim Kennedy, an election law attorney in the attorney general's office, said it doesn't matter where a group is located or who is making the calls if they are being made to New Hampshire residents, they are illegal.

It is estimated that more than 200,000 of the calls were made.


Among other things, fines of "up to $1,000,000,000" could get a lot of attention. The scam will backfire if it is publicized. Got to get the news to TV viewers.

Update: Some confusion it seems about total calls and calls in New Hampshire. I mean either that or serious trouble with the place value number system. Current estimate 2,000 calls not 200,000 so dream of $ 10,000,000 not $ 1,000,000,000.

State statue allows for a civil penalty of up to $5,000 for each call. The NRCC allegedly made more than 2,000 calls.

Or, on the other hand, 200,000 > 2,000 so the reports are consistent.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Michael Ledeen (suspected Iranian agent) has staked out a solid position as the craziest of the crazies. He has also managed the most absurd invasion of privacy in the defence of extremist idiocy.

Evidently, he is convinced, based on one book she wrote years ago, that Lynn Cheney is lesbian (and cuckholded too)

Michael Ledeen (the most powerful people in the White House are "women who are in love with the president")
This Wasn't Important the First Time,
but I am pulling it out of the archive Because there is a new comment which does not appear to be spam. The comment on an 18 month old post (in the blogosphere that is imortality) !

"Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "5/21/2005 06:26:00 PM":

Yours is a great blog. "

The Post

Rejecting the Alternative II

Elementary Statistics on the Front Page of the New York Times again.

Rejecting the alternative hypothesis is an elementary error in statistics. In the Neyman Person framework (hypothesis testing) the null hypothesis can be rejected against an alternative. A failure to reject the null is not evidence against the alternative. I have mentioned this error before here.

Todays case is very blatant.

Benedict Carey writes

But in the only rigorously controlled trial so far in depressed patients, the stimulator was no more effective than surgery in which it was implanted but not turned on.



and

In the study, doctors implanted the device in 235 severely depressed people. The stimulator sends timed pulses of electricity to the vagus nerve, which has wide connections throughout the brain.

Half of the patients then had their stimulators turned on. The investigators did not know which of their patients had their stimulators on.

After three months, researchers "unblinded" the study and compared levels of depression in the two groups based on standard measures of disease severity, the F.D.A. documents show. They found that 17 of the 111 patients who had implants turned on and completed the trial showed significant improvement. But 11 of 110 who had no stimulation and completed the trial also felt significantly better. The difference between the two groups was small enough to be attributable to chance.



It appears that Mr Carey is unaware of the subtle mathematical point that 17/111 is greater than 11/110. The arithmetic error is made worse by the fact that the false claim that the two proportions are the same is made before the jump and the actual numbers which are not the same only appears after the jump.

Now the difference does not reject the null that the two rates are the same, that is, that the treatment is ineffective. The probability that 17 or more of 28 positive responses are in the treatment group is (roughly using a normal approximation to the binomial) 13 %. To be careful people tend to use a two tailed test, that is, ask what is the chance that 17 or more of postive responses are in the treated group plus the chance that 17 or more are in the control group. That would reject the null at the (very roughly) 26% level. This is far above conventional significance levels.

It is, indeed, very strange that the FDA is considering approval of a treatment supported by such weak evidence. Like various experts quoted in the article, I would have expected that FDA advisory panel to tell Cyberonics Inc., the Houston company that makes the stimulator that the device would only be approved after they performed a larger study and then only if the pooled results were significant. If the point estimate of the benefit were exact (roughly a 50 50 chance) the study would need to be quadrupled, so the new sample would have to be about 330 patients half treated and half controls. If the device happened to be almost exactly as effective as (weakly) suggested by current data, this would have a 50 50 chance of resolving the question.
At the cost of $ 15,000 per patient mentioned in the article it would cost about 5 million (rounding up a bit for the cost of keeping FDA quality records). I suspect that Cyberonics claimed that they couldn't afford such a study.

It seems to me that it might be reasonable to give the FDA some money to finance studies of promising but unproven treatments. The current approach of having firms pay all of the cost of testing seems to me to be a false economy, since firms can choose not to release negative data.

Still my basic point stands 17/111 > 10/110, weak evidence in favor of the alternative is not proof that the alternative is false, don't reject the alternative that a treatment is better than nothing unless there is significant evidence that it is worse than nothing. If you can't know, don't write nonsense like 17/111 = 10/110.

posted by Robert permalink and comments6:26 PM

Comments:
Dear Robert,

The blog is a joy, but I really did not find this article confusing or poorly written. Quite the opposite :)

Anne
# posted by Anonymous : 1:19 AM

I repeatedly use the New York Times as a writing model, and this at "our" school :)

Anne
# posted by Anonymous : 1:21 AM

I agree that the article, taken as a whole, was clear and interesting.

However, the journalist interpreted insignificant evidence that the treatment worked as evidence that it did not work. Also note the text I quoted. The journalist said that 17/111 is less than or equal to 10/110 which is simply false, not unclear, false.

This post was second in a series about how insignificant evidence that a treament works is treated as evidence tht it does not work. This is a very common practice. It is also an elementary error.

In each case the NYT did not draw a false conclusion, but they did not explain what hypothesis testing is and isn't.

Rejecting the alternative is a major pet peeve of mine. Pointing out this error is one of the things I do for a living.

Thanks for your comments. You are very very kind. In fact, one of the things that convinced me I wanted to blog was a comment which you wrote on Brad's blog about his post about a coyote.

(just checked it was you or at least someone named Anne who is very kind)
# posted by Robert : 4:01 AM

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "5/21/2005 06:26:00 PM":

Yours is a great blog.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Yep Stupid is a la Mode.

Unfair to blame Reynolds and Johnson. It is clear that they were just following orders. The official line is that the New York Times' clumsy reference to 14 year old (clearly bogus) claims is the news of the day.

Hans has left a new comment on your post "11/03/2006 09:39:00 PM":

interesting times: my bloglines feed shows today 6 posts by robert vs 1 post by brad.

Yeah but Hans they are all different edits of the same post. Thanks though.
TG 2 Blogging.

I just saw this video on Italian national television. The subject of the service was how George Felix Allen's campaign is a disgrace to Democracy. Kinda makes me proud to be an American.
Some Semi New Thoughts on the Idiocy Epidemic Discussed Below.

For one thing, I live among feminists and have waited for years for a chance to write
"Dumb Broad."

For another thing, dumb Broad seems to agree with dumber Reynolds and dumbest Johnson that genuine experts "say that at the time [1991], Mr. Hussein’s scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away".

Obviously the claim that the Iraqi bomb was "as little as a year away" was an early effort in Feith based analysis. Anyone who knows anything must understand that it was a flat out lie. The reason is simple. You can't make a bomb without Plutonium or highly enriched Uranium. Saddam had neither.

In 1992 as in 2003, someone decided to deceive the American people by conflating how long it would take to make a bomb *if* the appropriate fissionable material was available with how long it would take Iraq to make a bomb.

In 1992, experts on bombs might have imagined that there was such material hidden in Iraq and/or that there was a huge Uranium enrichment plan somewhere. By now, even non experts like me know that Iraq was not so close to making a bomb.

In fact, common sense makes it clear that the "as little as a year" line was nonsense in 1992. Saddam Hussein is an insane evil idiot, but he is not idiotic enough to pick a fight with most of the rest of the world one year before getting the bomb.

What kind of idiot would invade Kuwait without an a-bomb to deter the world's respons instead of waiting for "as little as a year" to move ?

That really would be the ultimate abyss of idiocy. Why are people willing to believe such a story in spite of subsequent proof that it was always nonsense ?
update posing as a new post.

I can't equal Instapundit's idiocy no matter how hard I try.

Just below, I commented on a badly written sentence before finishing the article which I just finished reading. When I posted, I had already read the very clear sentence
In September, the Web site began posting the nuclear documents, and some soon raised concerns. On Sept. 12, it posted a document it called “Progress of Iraqi nuclear program circa 1995.” That description is potentially misleading since the research occurred years earlier.


Which undoes the not really possible honest confusion due to the badly written sentence and makes it clear, again, that Iraqi efforts to construct the bomb ceased years before 1995 and, thus, years before 2003.


Clicking on the link to instapundit I notice an update. It is clear that Reynolds can't stand the idea that the New York Times has outdone him in idiocy even for one day and concludes

Kind of undercuts that whole "Bush lied about WMD" thing. Reader Eric Anondson emails: "It surely must have been a Rovian plot to somehow get the Times to admit that Iraq has a nuclear weapons program on the verge of an atomic bomb by as early as 2003... and right before an election where the Iraq War is listed as the top election concern among likely voters."

TigerHawk: "Seems that the New York Times owes Judith Miller an apology. Or at least a hat tip."


Dear Prof. How about, just once, reading the whole article before discussing what it means ? It will be a new experience for you. Try it, you might like it.

Try as I might, I just can't keep up with Reynolds in the quest for the ultimate abyss of idiocy.

Update to update

Infectious idiocy

Via Atrios of course

http://lefarkins.blogspot.com/2006/11/charles-johnson-genius.html

OK Chuck, how about reading the article ? Does make clear, as the poorly worded sentence doesn't, that the (alleged) year of risk was 1992 not 2003. Sort of like How the sentence before Kerry's poorly phrased joke made it clear that the slacker student he was talking about is named George W Bush.

Quoting out of context is the new black.

Heeeeyyyyyy Charles and Glen why don't you quote me out of context ? I could use the traffic and I personally was about to construct an H-bomb for Saddam in 2002 and I admit it.
To err is human to perservere is stupid

Atrios writes: ".and it's even funnier because of this. Our discourse is truly controlled by the stupidest people on the planet." - Atrios

JIM GERAGHTY writes: "I'm sorry, did the New York Times just put on the front page that IRAQ HAD A NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM AND WAS PLOTTING TO BUILD AN ATOMIC BOMB?"

William J Broad writes: "Among the dozens of documents in English were Iraqi reports written in the *1990 S* and in **2002** for United Nations inspectors in charge of making sure Iraq had abandoned its unconventional arms programs after the Persian Gulf war. Experts say that at *the* time, Mr. Hussein’s scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away."

Atrios writes: "Our discourse is truly controlled by the stupidest people on the planet."

Robert Waldmann writes: "Heh indeed."
Find Stupid.

Atrios discusses an important article in the New York Times. It shows that irresponsible Republicans who can't hide the fact that they care more about winning debating points than national security are idiots (as well as being moral idiots). That they thought that Feith based intelligence analysis was not aggressive enough and they want to use web based conspiracy theorys to cloud the gross intelligence failure and grosser deliberate distortions in the run up to the invasion of Iraq.

Click the link and read the whole thing. They are always worse than you imagine possible even after you take into account the fact that they are worse than you imagine possible.

Atrios also has an amusing closing line "...and it's even funnier because of this. Our discourse is truly controlled by the stupidest people on the planet."

The link leads to Instapundit quoting a commenter

JIM GERAGHTY writes: "I'm sorry, did the New York Times just put on the front page that IRAQ HAD A NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM AND WAS PLOTTING TO BUILD AN ATOMIC BOMB?"


There is some 200 proof idiocy here. Before reading the New York Times article, I thought that Mr Geraghty was a grade A idiot. It is universally agreed that Iraq had an actice nuclear weapons program in the 80s. After the gulf war, it was discovered that the program was much more advanced than expected. It was universally agreed during the run up to the invasion that, if Iraq obtained purified Plutonium or highly enriched uranium, Iraq could make a bomb quickly. It is now (almost? ) universally agreed that Iraq did not reactivate its nuclear weapons project after 1991 and that Iraq made no (significant?) further efforts to obtain nuclear weapons after the Gulf War. The question "did the New York Times just put on the front page that IRAQ HAD A NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM AND WAS PLOTTING TO BUILD AN ATOMIC BOMB" ? demonstrates that there is some highly enriched idiocy going around. It is not news that before 91 "IRAQ HAD A NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM AND WAS PLOTTING TO BUILD AN ATOMIC BOMB," there is no evidence that after 1991 "IRAQ HAD A NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM AND WAS PLOTTING TO BUILD AN ATOMIC BOMB." Did the new York Times assert that after 1991 "IRAQ HAD A NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM AND WAS PLOTTING TO BUILD AN ATOMIC BOMB."

Yes it did.

If anyone has actually read the article, as instructed, that person will know that the idiocy is right there in the New York Times and I quote

"Among the dozens of documents in English were Iraqi reports written in the 1990s and in 2002 for United Nations inspectors in charge of making sure Iraq had abandoned its unconventional arms programs after the Persian Gulf war. Experts say that at the time, Mr. Hussein’s scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away."

This is, for one thing, grammatically incorrect. At least two dates are listed 2002 and an unspecified number of dates between January 1 1990 and December 31 1999, the the article goes on the refer to "THE time" in THE singular. A good faith effort to interpert this mangled sentence would be to pick one of the 11 years in the interval (with gap for 2000 and 2001) as the year of "THE time". The only semi specific time mentioned is 2002 and the only reasonable grammatical correction of the garbled sentence is

"Experts say that in 2002, Mr. Hussein’s scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away."

Major error in English communication in the New York Times. It's going on my refrigerator door.

As far as I know JIM GERAGHTY's comment might just be a complaint about sloppy writing in the NY Times. If so I agree completely. I don't see why he felt the need to waste 10 seconds of his time pointing it out, and I certainly don't see why I felt the need to waste 10 minutes of my time exploring the non issue.

Yep you just found stupid. He is named Robert James Waldmann and he has better things to do with his time.

update: by the way, I commented on the badly written sentence before finishing the article which I just finished reading. When I posted, I had already read the very clear sentence
In September, the Web site began posting the nuclear documents, and some soon raised concerns. On Sept. 12, it posted a document it called “Progress of Iraqi nuclear program circa 1995.” That description is potentially misleading since the research occurred years earlier.


Which undoes the not really possible honest confusion due to the badly written sentence and makes it clear, again, that Iraqi efforts to construct the bomb ceased years before 1995 and, thus, years before 2003.


Clicking on the link to instapundit I notice an update. It is clear that Reynolds can't stand the idea that the New York Times has outdone him in idiocy even for one day and concludes

Kind of undercuts that whole "Bush lied about WMD" thing. Reader Eric Anondson emails: "It surely must have been a Rovian plot to somehow get the Times to admit that Iraq has a nuclear weapons program on the verge of an atomic bomb by as early as 2003... and right before an election where the Iraq War is listed as the top election concern among likely voters."

TigerHawk: "Seems that the New York Times owes Judith Miller an apology. Or at least a hat tip."


Dear Prof. How about, just once, reading the whole article before discussing what it means ? It will be a new experience for you. Try it, you might like it.

Try as I might, I just can't keep up with Reynolds in the quest for the ultimate abyss of idiocy.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Undermining America's Morals and Proud of it

Zack Exley boasts "Voters are doing it in their living rooms with people they've never met before"

James Dobson should be so scared he's peeing his sticky pants.

"come together, right now" - Paul McCartney & John Lennon

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Whatever it Takes

"They also noted that a person would have to drink at least 100 bottles of red wine a day ... to get the levels given to the mice, which may not be safe in humans."

Blogging might be irregular around here for a while. Also my spelling might get worse hard as that is to believe.
Dolcetti Scherzetti in Frascati

That is the Italian translation of "trick or treat". Yesterday October 31 I had an amazing experience. As usual we had a halloween party. However Kathy (age 9) thought it ended too soon and saw kids in costumes walking around Frascati (just South of Rome)so she insisted that we go out to trick or treat.

She rang a door bell and said "Dolcetti Scherzetti" to my utter amazement a window opened and a nice couple of people tossed candy down. Halloween has spread to Italy. Now I had noticed that little stores have been selling Halloween junk for the past few years, but selling and giving are rather different activities.

We continued to walk around. She was dressed as a pumpkin, I occasionally wore a rubber jackolantern face mask (occasionally because there were no nose holes). I was a bit shy about attempting to introduce the concept of trick or treat to unsuspecting households in Italy, so we joined a group of girls age slightly more than Kathy who were supervised by two very young looking women who must have been a generation older but struck me as big sisters with very nice hair (and who might read this).

They were ringing door bells and almost consistently getting candy. In fact, sad to say, the bells belonged to relatives of the girls and I suspect that there was some advanced planning. The indirect approach of tossing candy down from a 3rd floor window was widely used leading to a rush to collect it.

A further amazingly wonderful thing is that the girls whose group we joined insisted on sharing their candy with Kathy. First house the candy was all in a bag lowered in a basket on a string. They offered it to Kathy who took one piece. They insisted she take more.

Kathy concluded that it was the best Halloween of her life.


Giampiero M. Gallo has left a new comment on your post "11/01/2006 08:26:00 AM":

Well, after a while, we tracked you down (not a hard feat). We were thinking of you guys the other day and wondering how old Kathy may be. As per Halloween, there is an American friend of ours who buys candies (or rather imports those fluorescent radioactive Halloween candies from the US) and distributes them among her neighbors. Our kids go around and visit these enlisted neighbors to collect them. A good tradition - one neighbor even attempted a 'scherzetto'.
All the best. A very entertaining blog.