skip the darfur stuff

We all know terrible things are happening to lots of people in Sudan. That's old news. What could we do, anway?

What's really interesting about this article covering a recent protest at the Sudanese Embassy in Washington is who escorts the arrested representatives to the van (yes, even members of congress can get arrested for unlawful assembly). Not DC police. The article takes the time to specifically mention that they were "led to a white police van by U.S. Secret Service uniformed officers."

Not that it's a particularly new practice (at least, I don't think so), but enough to make you wonder why the representatives chose the Secret Service to do the arrest and take them to the DC station where they paid the $50 fine. Energy company executives can steal money from taxpayers in secret meetings that Dick Cheney doesn't even reveal but yet the founder of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus can't give a speech on the steps of the Sudanese Embassy condemning the present situation in Sudan?

Who runs the Secret Service?

(That's actually a very interesting question in itself, by the way)

It's also possible that I am so exhausted from blues stuff all weekend that this isn't really that interesting at all. Who knows.

Oh, but this is interesting: Doing a little background on the Secret Service, and their website is still active at Treasury. I guess that whole Department of Homeland Security thingy is coming along real well.


gotta love cnn

Props to CNN for covering the fun over in Nepal. (There's an actual revolution of people wanting real political power instead of being ruled by an autocratic, violent monarch).

This is priceless, though. The bolded headline says this:

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) -- Soldiers killed six villagers Wednesday after thousands of civilians tried to overrun an army camp in southwestern Nepal, a military official said.

Then, the next sentence says this:

The killings were not believed to be connected to the political turmoil that has gripped Nepal for weeks.

Yeah, right. Completely unrelated.


yay enron

At least, yay Enron movie. It came from Blockbuster this weekend, and it was very good! The real title, the Smartest Guys in the Room, makes me laugh because that kind of short sightedness is hubris and idiocy, not brains. That's the difference between Microsoft's monopolies and Enron's. One of the two companies is run by smart people with real vision. The other by controlling, politically well-connected executives who need people to think they're smart.

Wait, why is it that Microsoft let this guy take over? Hmm...

At any rate, it was supremely timely as Ken Lay is just now testifying in his trial. I will never forget Murray Weidenbaum, an economics professor of Wash U's Weidenbaum Center, talking to our Honors class senior year about government regulation and energy markets and entertaining a few questions about Enron. It was amazing how Professor Weidenbaum essentially shrugged off Enron's collapse as if nothing had gone wrong. It was basically a PR problem for why people had such a skewed impression of what Kenny Lay was really doing. The problem in California was that they did deregulation badly (not that it's an illegitimate claim, but it is a little misleading, or at least driven by a particular agenda) not that Enron acted illegally. He is extremely knowledgeable and experienced; I still wonder why he was so willing to almost personally assure that there's no way there were improper things going on, particularly the intimate relationship between Enron's executives and the Bush family. Was it a man willfully blinding himself to avoid facing the brutality of a catastrophic failure of such a hands off approach by government which he has spent a lifetime advocating? Or perhaps a not so naive attempt to convince the next generation of business people that this almost fanatical market ideology should be pursued even in the face of real world results to the contrary? I would love to sit down with him for a few minutes and chat about energy markets after Enron. And speaking of professors I would love to have follow up conversations with, I had some fun discussions with Professor Roberts about the invasion of Iraq (among other issues). I wonder what he would have to say now?

And check this out. When Googling Weidenbaum, I came across this great letter about different schools. Apparently Wash U has tons of libertarian students. Maybe that's one of the things that attracted me subconsciously to the student body?

/end nostalgic glance at college wondering if I should be in an econ Phd program right now


buh bye

I go to work and our tree out back is beginning to show signs of spring.

I pull in tonight to find it chopped up in pieces! How sad, no more squirrels jumping back and forth from our deck to the tree limbs. It sure opens up the space now between the deck and the trees lining the metro.


family is great

Who else can you have feed you and they think they're the ones getting a grand deal out of the whole thing? If only all of life worked that way.

Speaking of life, my ever so responsible parents have filled out paperwork for me to be their healthcare proxy if something happens to them, and well, my mother "misplaced" her notebook from the workshop they went to. She can tell you to put the deck of cards back in the right drawer yet managed to create exactly the kind of situation that gets fun if something really does happen to her before she finds it or fills out more paperwork for me.

What? Your mother doesn't want to be operated on if she's going to die in two days regardless? She prefers alleviation of serious pain even if there's a chance it might reduce her chance of living longer? Gasp! You can't possibly know her wishes. You don't have her form!

You know, that last paragraph won't seem so funny if something actually does happen to her. Now I've done it.

Needing a quick change of subject, let me relate something else funny this weekend. I will not source this quote as it is somewhat, uh, revealing, but it must be recorded for posterity (after all, they may not even know what the "internet" was):

Everything I know about dating I learned from the internet.

And speaking of the internet, what a great waste of time it is, too. As if I didn't already know this:

See what Care Bear you are.

Now, technically, I tied with Wish Bear, but come on. I am clearly grounded in reality, not naive about it.


thanks christa

Yay, I'm pretty normal. Although, is the desire to be normal pathological itself? Oh well, that's for a serious post. This one's just for fun:

You Are 20% Abnormal

You are at low risk for being a psychopath. It is unlikely that you have no soul.

You are at low risk for having a borderline personality. It is unlikely that you are a chaotic mess.

You are at low risk for having a narcissistic personality. It is unlikely that you are in love with your own reflection.

You are at medium risk for having a social phobia. It is somewhat likely that you feel most comfortable in your mom's basement.

You are at low risk for obsessive compulsive disorder. It is unlikely that you are addicted to hand sanitizer.

And in the spirit of going home this weekend, take this hs peeps:

All American Kid

Popular but not plastic. Athletic but not a jock. Smart but not a brain.

You were well rounded and well liked in high school.


ding ding ding

It has occurred to me that it actually works out pretty well that turning 24 is pretty much a non-event birthday for me because both my brother and sister have big birthdays this spring. I was feeling a little old this evening realizing not so much my age but that my younger brother will be in his twenties in a few hours. Ouch.

And my little sister will get her driver's license next month. Ouch.

Well, she'll be eligible; maybe she'll fail or won't want to drive or something for a while. Yeah, that's it.


6 degrees

I have to brag a little. My mother and sister have all the dramatic impulses in the family. (My brother and I woefully disappoint when it comes to anything artistic). Anyway, they were involved in a project a couple years ago with a film guy at KU called Confederate States of America (CSA). Lovely irony, by the way, having such strong, liberal women participate as such racist and ignorent characters! Essentially, CSA is one of those 'what if' kinds of mockumentaries, shoveling heaps of humor and absurdity on top of its point to make it somewhat palatable. The 'what if' involves political capitulation of the Union to the Confederacy in the mid 1860s (as opposed to the reverse, which is what actually happened, for all you peeps who fell asleep in history class).

After having difficulty lining up a distributor (PBS, after providing a few initial seed dollars, apparently balked when they were shown a draft script, hehe), the film garnered some attention at the 2004 Sundance, and IFC picked it up. Today, I noticed that AlterNet, a political site I check out every once in a while, had a rather detailed review of the film on their home page.

How cool is that!?! I don't even know if their scenes made the cutting for US distribution, but nonetheless, Eric, I expect you to use my mother whenever playing your dumb (I mean, um, way cool) 6 degrees of separation game.



After a wonderful time avoiding runners surrounding my neighborhood, finding that Planet Smoothie's credit card thingy doesn't like my Discover card, remembering how long it's been since Jodi and I have played tennis, and otherwise enjoying this fabulous day, I leave you with a fun little game.

It's amazing how much talking heads make to spew junk. Actually, not that amazing, considering that selling your soul and any semblance of pride or dignity is involved. They're actually rather underpaid, when you think about it; well, maybe they are or maybe they aren't. I for one would demand significantly more moolah. Nonetheless, click the link below, and follow the rather simple instructions of guessing whether the pundit is referring to Iraq in 2002 or Iran in 2006. Enjoy!

Iraq or Iran?


on constitutional governance

(P) I'm not sure why I haven't written much seriously lately. Maybe I'm tired, too busy with other things, or just too overwhelmed by current events to even know where to start. Yes Doug, I heard your thoughts on the matter: laziness.

Regardless, this week's public disclosure of details related to the Libby defense in Mr. Fitzgerald's investigation serves as a particularly potent reminder of the gravity of the path upon which the Bush Administration has embarked our country. This is not about building bases in Iraq, giving subsidies to energy companies, gutting environmental legislation, reducing taxes on income and dividends, or any of the other major policy victories of the Administration. Those are interesting public policy debates, and where discussion should occur, but that discussion can only happen when the country is operating within a framework of clearly established rules and decision-making processes. That is the purpose of our Constitution and the rule of law as it has developed within our own particular system.

Rather than suggest a different rule, or a change to an existing one, the Bush Administration has worked tirelessly, and amazingly effectively, toward demolishing the notion that rules even exist. At least for the President, and other wealthy and powerful individuals that agree with him. In short, the very existence of our Constitutional structure is at stake. Maybe that's for the best. Maybe in this post-9/11 world, the cost of living is our liberty and prosperity. Or at least, that of our less fortunate neighbors and rabble-rousing activists who surely had it coming to them.

What is glaringly, painfully missing from the public discourse is an impassioned, vocal defense of the Constitution and the way of life it protects. Partly, I would suggest this is due to the fact that some of the most vocal principled defenders of limited government enshrined in the Constitution are Conservatives who have put their lot behind Bush and the corporate wing of the Republican party the last few elections. It's a little difficult in our system to knock your own guy too much. Also, there's the opposition response. Financially and tactically, they have chosen to copy the strategy of the Republicans rather than trying something else. Hence, passionate and well-intentioned defenders on the left have been ignored and marginalized as much by their own party as anyone else. Mix in the blandness which consolidation and corporatization of information creates, and you have an environment lacking diverse perspectives.

Our Constitution is worth protecting, and perhaps the lasting effects of the Administration will be a political response strengthening our system of governance to enhance our freedom and prosperity. Or, we might get a chance to see what happens when feudalism and fascism combine in the 21st century. Either way, this is the time for big ideas. The ability of the Administration to make people think this is about body armor and the difference between misleading and lying is perhaps their greatest feat. Once we agree as a country on whether or not the rule of law applies, then we can get to the mundane fun that is tax policy and climate change.


fun times

If you're not nerdy enough to know what's exciting about this particular moment in time, well, I'm not going to embarrass myself by elaborating. Just know you're missing out.


tax fun 06

(R) 2005, if you want to be technical. This gets an (R) instead of a (P) because I'm not going to offer serious solutions, just complain. That's what Mondays are for, after all, even if it is opening day!

First a compliment, though. It took the Cardinals about the same time to score 8 runs as it took me to do my taxes. Not too shabby. Usually, the people who complain about taxes are the ones with all those annoying things like houses and stock portfolios. Or the ones trying to hide cash in offshore accounts. To assets I say pish posh.

The ranting part is that for all the crap certain "family values" political operatives spew about marriage penalties and whatnot, the tax code takes aim squarely at young single filers, because our main expenses are things like rent, food, transportation, and work clothes, none of which are deductable. In 2005, I paid 9.4% of my total income to the feds (well, just the income tax portion) and 3.1% to the state (not to mention the 1% that went to the city of St. Louis, and again, just income taxes. The regressive nature of consumption (sales) taxes are a whole separate issue.).

Now, I guarantee you that my parents made more money than me in 2005. I would wager a lot that they paid less than 12.5% of their income in state and federal income taxes. Any takers?


in between bites

Mmm, Ghirardelli brownies so chocalately they coalesce into a blob...then smothered by icing and ice cream. My roommate is trying to kill me.

But while celebrating so sinfully, let's not forget the fruit. Somebody turns especially old today (well, technically yesterday by now, assuming life begins at the submission of paperwork for articles of incorporation). Happy 30th Apple!


on my birthday no less

Check out what fantasy info central had to say about the upcoming baseball season yesterday. Now, it's not all bad. It's good to see the respect being heaped upon the Central division for once, even to the point of proclaiming, "it would be a shock not to see this division produce the wildcard winner in 2006, thus hanging whoever falls short in the AL East out to dry."

But here's the juicy birthday present:

"If I were a Royals fan, I’d drink……… a lot!"

What happened to hope springing eternal? You can't lose 100 games in March! In fact, the Royals haven't lost any games.