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Everything posted by Pangloss

  1. You mean the debt, not the deficit, right? I think it was a lot more than a trillion, even before 9/11, but I'd have to check.
  2. What I mean is that in general I place a little more blame on the deficit problem on Bush than on the Democrats. He submits a budget, and they generally follow it. And of course the tax cut was all Bush, as is part of the spending increase (mainly in defense). Defense is up an average of $25 billion a year over the last ten years. It took 225 years to go from zero to $250 billion, but only TEN to go from that to $500 billion. But we've got to do something about spending outside of defense too. John Kerry and Bill Frist are about to blow the lid off entitlement spending with the upcoming healthcare compromise (which we will likely get whether Kerry is elected or not, since he's still a senator), which will see taxpayer dollars going to 20-30 million Americans at 1500-2500 bucks a pop. That's $30 billion a year *minimum* right there, and possibly as much as $75 billion -- MUCH more than the average defense spending increase. Iraq is only $20 billion a year. In the long run the hope is that it will SAVE us money because we're spending that much in indigent healthcare already, but that's private spending, so in the short run it means a GODAWFUL amount of additional entitlement spending at a time when we're ALREADY in a nasty deficit. It's funny, we used to say "a billion here and a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money". Now we have to say "twenty billion here...." That $20 billion number actually seems to be a common baseline for big spending packages. It's incredible.
  3. Hehe. It's funny how much email I've been getting with jokes and gags about the hurricane. The funniest was a modified path projection that had been skewed to look like someone was giving Florida the finger.
  4. You really can't count on that. You break the law in a foreign country, you are on your own. The embassy can help you in a lot of ways -- finding a lawyer for example -- but they can't just get you out of there. You do not have "diplomatic immunity". Well, unless of course you are an official diplomat.
  5. Something original would be cool. Those are great, Phi.
  6. Yes, absolutely. Of course, in order to do that, you first have to look at a few factors that Bush was not entirely responsible for: 1) Defense spending was already on the rise as Clinton left office. His final defense budget was $50 *billion* higher than it was just a couple of years earlier. One reason for this was a lot of deferred spending that took place during the early part of that administration. (Contrary to Republican-promoted perception, defense actually *grew* during the Clinton administration.) 2) 9/11 cost a fortune. $20 billion bailout packages were being passed out like candy for months afterwards. (By the way, I believe Kerry voted for every single one of them.) 3) The country was in a recession well before Bush took office. In fact I believe the recession (which is indicated by three consecutive months of downturn in the LEIs) actually began before the 2000 election. But all of that having been said, the surplus was still there, and still believed to be growing, when Bush submitted his first budget, which was *after* 9/11, and his tax cut (also post-9/11) was based on that surplus. It was both seen by the public and promoted by the administration as "giving something back" from that surplus to the taxpayers, and the impression was very strong that it would only make a small dent in that surplus. That turns out not to be the case. The budget deficit, in fact, is almost identical to the cost of the tax cut. Heck, the surplus was gone by the time we got our tax-cut rebate checks. But my point here is that the part of this that was forseeable can also be blamed in nearly (but not entirely) equal measure on House and Senate Democrats. I wonder if international observers really get a good sense of this, and whether a lack of perception of this issue countributes to the general befuddlement I sense from folks who don't understand how any American can vote for Bush (that's not a comment aimed at anybody here, mind you). Economic policy is generally perceived as just as important as foreign policy, and often more so. And there's a STRONG perception in this country that you can't trust ANY of these bastards to fix this stuff honestly. Remember: If I don't vote for Bush, I've got to vote for Kerry. Is that really better? (Just to clarify, because I know the above might come across as pointless equivocation, I do give the nod to the Democratic side of the debate here. It's just not much of a nod. This may not mean much to you folks in Europe, but we Americans have GOT to do something about special interest group control over the House of Representatives in the country. GOT to.)
  7. Yah, that would be a good example of BOR giving solid airtime to the left point of view. He's shown a healthy respect for Holbrooke in the past as well as this time, and for good reason. I was a pretty anti-Holbrooke guy; BOR changed my mind about him, which says a lot. The flip side of the coin perhaps being that I think BOR sometimes can be just a little superficial in determining who he shows respect to, and why. Sometimes it seems like he decides (almost arbitrarily) that he just *likes* a guest in spite of his or her history. Not really a complaint, just a purely subjective observation.
  8. By the way, I didn't mean that subject line to sound so... antagonistic! I hope it didn't come across that way, but when I went back and looked at it it actually sounded kinda provocative. I'm really interested in what you guys think, but I wasn't trying to push any buttons here.
  9. Last night on Bill O'Reilly, Richard Holbrooke, Kerry's likely choice for Secretary of State, said that there was "no way" the US could allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, and that a military response must be considered if diplomatic solutions fail. He also pointed out that the Israelis would likely not allow it, and that the US has sold 300 "bunker buster" weapons to Israel, which they don't exactly need to go after the Palestinians.
  10. There used to be a great quandry in physics called "Olbers' Paradox". The general idea of it was that if space is infinitely big, and the number of stars in it is infinite, then why is the sky not permanently lit with uniformly bright, white light? But of course since then we've discovered that space is not infinitely big, stars are grouped into galaxies (which greatly condensces the area of "coverage", obscuring stars behind other stars), and there aren't an infinite number of them either. There's also lots of matter out there that's not lit, but which still absorbs light when hit (so it can block stuff behind it from being seen). So in a practical sense, all we can actually see in the night sky are stars in our own galaxy and a handful of other galaxies just barely bright enough to see with the naked eye. But I've always thought that the paradox is interesting, and it's a fun question to ask an astronomy novice and see if they can puzzle it out.
  11. We agree on this, atinymonkey. In fact I've not said anything to the contrary, and quite a bit to support that position.
  12. Lol! Isn't that the Iraqi information minister? (hehe)
  13. Apologies if this has been posted before: The Tao that is seen Is not the true Tao, until You bring fresh toner.
  14. Skepticism is good, especially when it comes to special interest groups with 501 tax-exempt status, a formal Political Action Committee and an address in the Beltway. (grin)
  15. I wondered if it might be. The other one was Locke wasn't it? I read the "shadow" series not long ago, about Bean, which was interesting. A rather odd approach to a SF series, to re-do the entire first novel from the perspective of a different character going through the same events. Strange, but it seemed to work really well. I'm not a big fan of the latter books in either series, but I do think Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead are classics.
  16. Centrists.org has a good, non-partisan look at the deficit, along with a number of articles discussion scenarios regarding how to deal with it, on their web site here: http://www.centrists.org/issue_summaries/budget_tax_baseline.html Yes, it's two terms total for a US president. I got a chuckle out of an anti-Bush extremist the other day when I suggested that if what he said was true, and Bush didn't actually get elected 2000, then he ought to be eligible to run again in 2008. He turned a bright shade of purple and I had to quickly find him a chair... (hehe)
  17. Sorry, just not interested in the ad hominem. As for whether I have given evidence that Hans Blix believed in 2003 that there might still be weapons in Iraq, I again refer you to this quote, *in his own words*. Do you have a refutation for this, or do you not?
  18. http://www.wweek.com/story.php?story=5539
  19. I'm sorry you feel that way, but it was not my intention to threaten you, just to point out that the fact that I mis-spelled his name doesn't mean I know nothing about him. If I gave you that impression then I humbly apologize. I don't understand why you feel a need to continue to insult me and my opinion, but that's your prerogative and I respect your position on the issue, if not your method of defense. You asked me to defend my assertion, and I've done so (as did another person). I don't know what else I can really tell you. You're obviously looking for a hate partner, but I can't help you with that. It's not what I do.
  20. I agree with Lucid's main point, though not some of his specifics, and for slightly different reasons. I believe Bernard Goldberg's claim that the liberal media bias is there, but it's not deliberate. (It's much more complicated than that, but that would be straying off the subject at hand.) Because we KNOW about liberal media bias, a conservative bias is automatically a *deliberate* thing. Fox News Channel compensates for it by having a lot of liberals on their programming, but they have the ability to make agenda points whenever they need to. A "normal" liberal-based network never (in theory) makes a conscious spin attempt. And as we all know, power corrupts. So even if Fox has never abused this, it's still a more serious (albeit potential) problem than liberal media bias. But that having been said, I believe that Fox News Channel, as a *sole* right-leaning news outlet, and so long as they remain fairly close to the center, still serves a useful role of its own, balancing that liberal lean in the rest of the media. I don't think you'd have seen Memogate get cleaned up by CBS nearly so quickly in the climate we had ten years ago.
  21. It also *threads* email messages, which is an interesting twist, because it lets you collect a string of messages-and-replies conveniently.
  22. That sounds like an interesting hypothesis. In what way?
  23. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card Snowcrash or The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson The Mote in God's Eye by Niven and Pournelle Anything on this list: http://listsofbests.com/list/29/
  24. Google email. It's still in beta but some folks want it because it'll be the Next Big Thing. It gives you a gigabyte of storage, for example, and has some nice features that you don't normally see in free email. On the down side, it puts up advertising, and the ads are actually based on the content of your email, as automatically detected by software (much like the adds in this forum), which makes some folks a little nervous.
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