Sunday, December 28, 2003

I'm leaving to Israel tonight and will be returning to America on January 27th. Though I may have time to post during that time, please don't expect much.
Hope to see y'all in a month.

Thursday, December 25, 2003

The French Attack...

Well, not yet. According to The Washington Post, three Air France jets bound for Los Angeles were cancelled when authorities found that some of the passengers might have been connected to terrorists. The French connected to terrorists? When did this happen?!?

More interestingly-if you can call it that-is the fear by some authorities that terrorist sympathizers might have infiltrated foreign flight crews...let's hope that's not true.

...Just four days until my own trip aboard the wonderful thing we call an airplane. For security reasons-unless I've already posted it-I will not tell you which airline I'm departing from, or which airport I'm leaving from...but I'm going to Israel so if I can't stomach these security threats how will I be able to handle those? Wish me one's commented in a long while though the site counter keeps jumping higher and higher so I know someone must be reading this!
Happy Chanuka [and all other holidays celebrated today] to all!
Osama Vs. Santa

Why is that we can track Santa on NORAD but we can't find Osama?

Monday, December 22, 2003

Terror Level Raised...Again

According to this WashPost article, the US government has raised the color coded terror threat level yet again.

Aside from causing traffic delays at the bridges and tunnels through which I'll be traveling this week, as well as at the airport I'll be departing from on my way to Israel next week, what does this do for me?

Don't get me wrong. I'm very concerned about security. Personally I think the government could be doing more, especially considering the level of security they promised in comparison to the level they've actually provided.

But what difference does raising the level make to me? Am I going to be more aware of the crazy drivers around me? The pedestrians walking along side me on the sidewalks of New York City? How can I know who's a terrorist and who's not? We like to feel secure in our surroundings; not believe anything's wrong even when presented with evidence to the contrary. How will this change us? I've got my plans already, as do millions of other Americans. It's the "holiday season", there's too much at stake. You can't just change plans because the government has detected increased chatter again. It's happened before, it will most likely happen again. G-d forbid if they're right. But even if something does happen, my question-in my opinion-is still very relevant.

The only rationale I've heard-one mentioned in the article I mentioned above-is that a public declaration might deter the terrorists from carrying out their attacks. I'm not satisfied with that. If they're really planning an attack on the super-grand scale we predict they are, will the extra policepeople at the bridges, tunnels, airports, malls etc. really make that much of an impact? It seems like such things are largely immaterial when considering an attack on this scale. Especially if the attackers come from within like they did last time...and even more so if they come from outside the US, where the security might not have been 'beefed up' quite as much.

If anyone has any intelligent insights, feel free to comment on this.
Atkins: The Aftermath

Considering all the people who've been eating eggs and steak for breakfast because of the Atkins craze, it seems that this WashPost article is right on target.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Sen. Lieberman Challenges Gov. Dean

On "Meet the Press" this morning, Sen. Lieberman said that "if Howard Dean had his way, Saddam Hussein would be power today, not in prison." Interesting to see how Dean responds to this success. A good point. Though, as BOTW points out, had Gore-Lieberman won in 2000, Saddam would probably still be in power also.

Also, in addition to being the day that Saddam Hussein was captured by US forces, it is also the three year anniversary of Al Gore's final concession to George W. Bush. Coincidence???

[I have much more to write, especially given my meeting this morning with Rep. Anthony Weiner, but I'm in the midst of finals and hope to pick up blogging more once they're over on Wednesday evening. Till then these infrequent updates will have to do. Again, thanks for reading! -Michael]
Prince Bandar-A Jew?

The Associated Press has a delightful quote from the Saudi ambassador to Washington:

"It's amazing how people who were doing everything possible to derail the success" of the Iraq war now "feel they have the right" to reconstruction contracts, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan said. "It just takes so much chutzpah."

Did he say "chutzpah"? Who knew Prince Bandar was Jewish?

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Forbidden Fruitcake?!?

The Canadian Broadcast Corp. reports from Montreal that "the federal and provincial governments have contributed close to $700,000 for a series of studies at McGill University in which a psychiatry professor is offering people $500 to use cocaine."

But Canada takes a less tolerant approach to some other substances, reports Canadian Television: "According to the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, fruitcakes are being banned because they are notoriously difficult to identify on the X-ray scanners used to inspect air travellers' luggage."

If Dennis Kucinich needs to get from Toronto to Ottawa, he'll just have to take the bus.


Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Stats on the 108th Congress-1st Session

The official numbers are in, and once again the House leads in output and the Senate in input. The Congressional Record's summary of the first session of the 108th Congress, complete through Nov. 30, shows that the Senate was in session for 166 days compared with 132 days for the House since Congress convened Jan. 7, 2003. But the House passed 664 measures to the Senate's 575. The combined total represented only 18 percent of the
6,915 bills and resolutions introduced by Nov. 30. And the number of measures enacted by that date -- a grand total of 159 -- added up to just 2 percent of those introduced. That success rate is identical to that of the 107th Congress in 2001, though both chambers were in session more days that year. For the third year in a row, President Bush has not vetoed a
single bill as yet.

-CQ Midday Update
Howard Dean on Israel:

I'm sick and tired of everyone saying how conservative Howard Dean is, how he's so great, his positions are so much better for America than the other candidates [especially in light of David Brook's excellent op-ed in today's NYTimes.]

Here's some of his utterances regarding Israel while on the campaign trail:

1) We're trying to broker a truce, and then ultimately a peace settlement, between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Israel is a long-time ally of the United States. But in order to be an honest broker, we have to take a very middle path. I actually think the president has done that in his words. The two-state solution is a solution that I support and I believe is the ultimate way to peace in the Middle East. And we're going to have to be the honest broker. The Americans are the only people who can broker that, and I wish the president had spent more time on the Middle East and less time on Iraq."
2) Most Israelis recognize that they will have to give back occupied land and give up settlements."
3) There is a war going on in the Middle East, and members of Hamas are soldiers in that war, and, therefore, it seems to me that they are going to be casualties if they are going to make war.

Thomas Friedman Gets Violent

-An interesting article [I can't vouch for its validity] someone emailed to me today from Jewsweek.

The Jewish Ombudsman: Sippin' Geneva Juice

Inside the surreal world of the Geneva Peace Accords, out-of-power politicians are leaders, their supporters carry weight, and the peace expert Tom Friedman gets violent. Nothing is as it seems in the Electric Kool-Aid Peace Accord Test, where Steven I. Weiss stops to take a drink.

I run over to the stage to catch Tom Friedman for that question-and-answer he promised I'd get after his speech. Harvey Schwartz, a Manhattan lawyer, greets Friedman and with a smile on his face tells him he learned two things from Friedman that night: That the columnist, "Supports drilling in ANWR," and is, "willing to sacrifice Israel on the altar of Iraq."

Friedman yells "F**k you," hits the guy with his right hand, and then shoves him into a small crowd of people with their backs turned. Schwartz has a good foot and 100 pounds on the diminutive Friedman, but he went about three feet backwards from Friedman's push.

Friedman turns around and sees me with my notebook and tape recorder. Deer in the headlights. Schwartz goes, "Did you get a picture of that?" Still under the lull of the truth is untrue/up is down nature of the event, I consider for a moment whether I'm a photographer. Friedman runs over to an IPF executive, the one who said he does "the most unbelievably insightful reporting ever," (sans an adjective) to tell on Schwartz. Like those wimpy nerds in grade school, he hits first, tattles second, screaming about "that asshole," who apparently is so mean that his innocuous comment deserves a whack.

Finally, I have Friedman cornered. Can he answer some questions? "No, no." But I've got one question I think he'll have a cool answer to: What do you think your role is for the Geneva Accord? "I'm a journalist, I'm a columnist," he says and then runs away. Sure, he is those things, but only in the loosest sense: more, he's an actor, a trader, and a fighter.

The man who spent the past few hours pronouncing how we need to see past the present, the rhetoric, and the attacks to achieve peace has just gone violent on some random guy.

You couldn't ask for a more fitting ending.
DEAN CASH MACHINE: Ex-Gov. Howard Dean (D-Vt.) tapped into his massive grassroots Internet campaign to raise more than $50,000 for Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa) this week. On a phone call Thursday with reporters, Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi said Dean will consider raising money for other lawmakers: "It's hard to find members of Congress who don't want money raised for them." Trippi said he doesn't know who is next on the list for Dean's largess, but indicated that there is a large number of interested candidates. The earliest Dean could show his ability to make a difference with his money is in January, when voters in Kentucky's sixth congressional district will hold a special election to succeed GOP Rep. Ernie Fletcher, the governor-elect.

BOXER REBELLION: Former California Secretary of State Bill Jones has filed election papers to challenge two-term Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer next year. Republican politicians and pollsters view Jones -- the last Republican to hold statewide office until Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) took over last month -- as the party's best hope to unseat Boxer. The Fresno Republican spent the past several weeks soliciting White House support. That may be a tough challenge: Jones supported Arizona Sen. John McCain over President Bush in the 2000 GOP primary.

MIXED NUMBERS: When the campaign season began in earnest, the Democratic presidential candidates collectively made what appears to be a strategic mistake: They predicted that President Bush will be more vulnerable on the economy and less vulnerable on Iraq. That gamble seems to have backfired. While the administration's expectations in Iraq have fallen, the economy appears to be humming along. Consumer demand remains high; quarterly GDP rates are expected to continue rising; and the Dow Jones and Nasdaq are flirting with 10,000 and 2,000, respectively. All that's missing are the jobs. Despite modest recent gains, Bush remains open to sustained attacks on unemployment.

But now two of the most potent job-creation areas - the manufacturing and industrial sectors - are poised for strong recoveries. Despite gains in services and retail, these widget-churning sectors have been the slowest to respond so far. But thanks to continued strong consumer spending and considerable manufacturing downsizing during the slowdown, inventories are shockingly low. Since September, factories have been churning out more and more goods to restock those bare shelves, and American workers are being pushed to the breaking point: Wednesday saw a remarkable four-week 9.2 percent productivity rate. This pace can't hold, and come 2004, financial analysts expect some serious expansion.

But this isn't necessary good news for Team Bush. In the short run, the Democrats' key argument against Bush's economic stewardship will still likely hold true: Unemployment is rising. What's more, the stronger the economy rebounds, the higher it will likely rise. That's because as firms expand and the good times loom, more and more Americans who gave up on finding a job over the last three years will decide to look again. But since many of them won't find jobs immediately, the unemployment rate will still continue to rise - never mind the new hiring.

Bush has until mid-summer to show that that jobless number climbs down. As political analyst Charlie Cook notes, one of the best determinants for whether an incumbent president is reelected is the state of the economy in the second-quarter of an election year as measured by GDP, change in real disposable income and unemployment. And of those, it's that last two that are particularly important - a bad GDP hurts, but a good one generally fails to resonate with voters personally. Thanks to low interest-rates, tax cuts, a heavy-dose of Keynesian spending and the economic improvements those have spurred, Bush will be inured on the disposable-income front. But with enough noise from Democrats on rising unemployment numbers, the carping may be enough to sow doubts among swing-voters.

MASS EXODUS: Even though it's only been two weeks since the Medicare reform bill passed, some of the key players in the negotiations have already resigned. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services chief Tom Scully and one of his aides, Tom Grissom, have quit. Colin Ruskey, a top Senate Finance Committee health aide, joined the firm Alston & Bird this week - where former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.) hangs his hat. Expect more key figures to follow suit in the next several weeks. Lobbying firms will monitor the implementation of the bill closely and pay a high price for administration and congressional representatives who helped craft the landmark legislation.

FRIENDS AGAIN: Expect Democrats and the AARP to get over their differences over the prescription drug benefit in an attempt to reduce the cost of prescription drugs next year. But a GOP-led Congress, the pharmaceutical industry's lobbying machine and savings for seniors through a prescription drug discount card will doom the effort.

LOTT'S RULES OF ORDER: Look for Senate Rules Committee Chairman Trent Lott (R-Miss.) to push for a broad review of the chamber's rules when Congress returns in January. Lott, who says the rules haven't been reviewed in years and believes some may be antiquated, is likely to attempt to eliminate secret holds, which lawmakers have long employed anonymously to delay or defeat nominations and legislation.

OUT OF ENERGY: The 1,200-page national energy bill is dead for the year, and although supporters are only two votes short of passing the legislation, energy lobbyists aren't confident they can be found short of another disaster like the Aug. 14 blackout. Look for the groups with goodies in the bill - such as the ethanol, coal, oil and gas, nuclear and renewable industries - to try to break out their language and attach them to other legislative vehicles, after spending the last three years trying to pass a comprehensive energy policy.

GEPHARDT CONTROVERSY: Democratic presidential hopeful Richard Gephardt (Mo.)
faces a revolt of union leaders as he tries to diffuse an escalating controversy about recent alleged actions of one of his senior advisers. Two powerful union presidents who have endorsed former Gov. Howard Dean (D-Vt.) maintain that the Gephardt aide, Joyce Aboussie, threatened to retaliate if they campaigned for Dean in Missouri. Gephardt's campaign has so far declined to respond directly, but this issue will not fade away. Look for Aboussie to resign or apologize in the next week.

SOUTHERN WOOING: Expect Democratic presidential hopefuls to ratchet up their
wooing of Congressional Black Caucus members for endorsements as the primaries draw near. For example, with South Carolina hosting a crucial primary following New Hampshire and Iowa, black voters are anticipated to make up nearly 50 percent of Democratic primary voters. For months now, Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) has been talking up his feelings about race based on his upbringing in a small southern town. So far, four members of the black caucus have endorsed Edwards: Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson (Texas), Mel Watt (N.C.), Al Wynn (Md.), and Frank Balance (N.C.).

HOUSE HOUSEKEEPING: House Administration Committee Chairman Bob Ney (R-Ohio) said his committee will focus on revamping committee hearing rooms after Congress returns from its December recess. The panel will discuss "how will we get the rooms to the 21st century," Ney said in a late October interview.

The Hill, "E-Notes" "Tip Sheet"--December 5, 2003

Monday, December 08, 2003

Russian 'Democracy'

So after this article, I'm starting to wonder if Russia is just sliding down a slippery slope back to the Communist era.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

"I Love New York"

This piece is short enough to post the whole thing instead of just providing you with a link.

If my city is collecting revenue in such ridiculous ways, why can't they find the money to plow my street!?! At least salt it on the day after a storm that provides us with over a foot of beautiful white snow? Granted, I got home at 10:30AM the day after the storm, but I saw ZERO plows today!

Anyway, here's the story from the New York Daily News.

The most un-pop-ular bust of all?
Just when you think you've seen the silliest of summonses, here comes another bang-up ticket.
Police wrote Queens hospital worker George Pulido a summons for making unreasonable noise because his son Christopher's Winnie the Pooh balloon popped on the street.
"I couldn't believe it," Pulido, 29, of Queens Village, said last night. "It was just a normal-size party balloon and it was an accident. You'd make more noise closing the door of a police car."
Pulido's trip into the ticket twilight zone began innocently the afternoon of Nov. 22 when he took his wife, Christina, 27, an accountant, and sons, Chris, 9, and Brandon, 19 months, to a kid's birthday party at a friend's home in the neighborhood.
Chris was holding a party balloon on a string as the family walked home when it suddenly got away from him at Parsons Blvd. and 105th St., hit the sidewalk and popped.
"Three cops were at the curb in a car and one of them called me over and said he was giving me a ticket," Pulido said.
He said he asked the cop, "Are you serious? You're gonna give me a ticket for balloon popping?"
"The cop gave me a hard look and asked me, 'Do you think popping a balloon is funny?'" Pulido recalled. "At that point I just said just give me the ticket...whatever."
When it was over, Pulido said, "My whole family was upset, especially Christopher because he thought the cops were going to take me to jail. How do you explain what happened to a kid when you don't understand it yourself?"
Police declined to comment on the case last night.
Pulido hopes to clear things up when he appears Queens Criminal Court to answer the summons tomorrow.
A rash of silly summonses made headlines earlier this year for transgressions such as using multiple subway seats or sitting on a milk crate on the sidewalk. A pregnant woman was even ticketed for resting on subway steps. Police brass have consistently denied there is a ticket quota.
Originally published on December 4, 2003
Metrosexual...Part II

Apparently I was weeks ahead of my time. First was my post several weeks ago asking someone to explain what it one posted, thanks guys!
Then it came up during a discussion in my Poli-Sci class this week during a discussion about homosexuality [ya know, homosexual, metrosexual, same thing, right? ;) ].
Now William Safire weighs in in his magazine piece, "On Language."

Saturday, December 06, 2003


And who says prayers are never answered?

Friday, December 05, 2003

A new phone bill charge called "Oops"

This is soooo true! We actually discussed this in my accounting class this afternoon! A firm that overcharges its millions of customers by a mere nickle per month will, over time, end up with tons of money they were never meant to have in the first place!

And while we're on the topic of cell phone bills...
Why do people buy fancy cell phones? Why should we be paying for service and then paying for the very instrument we use so they can charge us?
Can someone please explain this, I've been wondering about this for a while.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

And Lastly...

The Louisiana Purchase was a defining moment in the shaping of America, and the Bayou State has spent three years planning for the Dec. 20 bicentennial celebration in New Orleans. The acquisition of 828,000 square miles of French-controlled territory from Napoleon Bonaparte will be commemorated in the very room in the Cabildo, a historic building in the French Quarter, where representatives of France signed over the land on Dec. 20, 1803. But something -- or, rather, someone -- will be missing: President Bush and President Jacques Chirac of France. According to the Los Angeles Times, representatives for both men said this week that they will not attend. The state's party plans fell victim to the hard feelings between the United States and France over Bush's decision to wage war in Iraq. Chirac reportedly wanted to attend, but no invite from Bush was forthcoming, the paper said.
Model "Old European" Citizen:
"A man who killed another man and then ate his victim's flesh was put on trial for murder in Germany Wednesday," Voice of America reports.

"Tough legal questions"? Call us a simplistic American, but we'd say what to do with this guy is pretty simple: Lock him up and put him on a strict diet of bread and water. But in Germany they're much more sophisticated:

Federal prosecutors have charged Mr. Meiwes with "murder for sexual satisfaction." If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in jail.

But his lawyer wants a verdict of "killing by demand," arguing his victim wanted to be killed. That crime carries a five-year jail term. The lawyers also argue that cannibalism is not a crime under German law.

Fifteen years is the most this guy will spend behind bars?

VOA also reports that psychiatrists say the defendant is "sexually disturbed." What would we do without psychiatrists?
The Bird Was Perfect But Not For Dinner

This is just ridiculous...must have been a slow news day, huh?
But of course we still have the professors on campus insisting the media is far too conservative, to the point that it's the media's fault that Al Gore lost the 200 election.
If Geology Is Destiny, Then Russia Is in Trouble

An op-ed by Moses Naim, Editor-in-Chief of my favorite magazine, Foreign Policy. Click here to read it off the NYT website.
When googling "the slippery slope blog" this website comes up #13! YAY!!!
Global Warming...

From the BOTW:

Global warming has always struck us as a dubious hypothesis, a myth propounded by busybodies looking for an excuse to run everyone's lives. And even if we're wrong, it was barely over 20 degrees in New York when we got up this morning. We could use some warming!
Long Trip for Hot Stuff

Some companies -- Southern California Edison, to name one -- will go to great lengths to get rid of their junk. The utility company has won federal approval to ship a 770-ton decommissioned nuclear reactor vessel from its San Onofre, Calif., plant to a dump for low-level nuclear waste in Barnwell, S.C., the Associated Press reports. The 11,000-mile trek around the tip of South America will be the longest journey for a piece of nuclear waste in U.S. history. But the environmental group Greenpeace International opposes the trip. "There are definitely some environmental risks if the barge were to sink," Tom Clements of Greenpeace's nuclear campaign said today. "Those waters off Cape Horn are very treacherous. We just think it would be safer to leave it on site." No word yet on when the voyage will begin.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Milosevic Up for Election

FORMER Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, currently on trial for war crimes before the Hague-based UN tribunal, will run for parliament in Serbia in this month's election, a senior party official said today...
Jimmy Carter's Final Solution

From today's Best of the Web:

Jimmy Carter thinks that if he had been re-elected in 1980, he could have solved the Middle East problem. The New York Times reports Carter employed an interesting turn of phrase in making the argument. He said: "Had I been elected to a second term, with the prestige and authority and influence and reputation I had in the region, we could have moved to a final solution."
Saddam Watch
Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Ill., definitely got the attention of the editorial board at The Pantagraph in Bloomington, Ill., yesterday. During an hour-long chat at the newspaper, the five-term lawmaker held his thumb and
forefinger slightly apart and said, "We're this close" to catching Saddam Hussein. A quick-thinking member of The Pantagraph editorial board -- not really expecting an answer -- asked LaHood, "Do you know something we
don't?" The congressman, a member of the House Select Intelligence Committee, replied, "Yes I do."

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

William Safire has coined a new term: same-sex marriage can henceforth be refered to as "S-S-M."
Personally, I'm quite surprised that he's in favor of gay marriage. While some of his "pro-choice" examples in the beginning of the article are conservative views while others are more liberal, I was-on the whole-surprised and disappointed. Oh, well.
Foot in Mouth Award

A comment last year by Defense Secretary Donald L. Rumsfeld on the hunt for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was awarded the "Foot in Mouth" prize today by Britain's Plain English Campaign. Reuters reports that
Rumsfeld, renowned for sometimes distressingly straight talk, received the
prize for the most baffling comment by a public figure. "Reports that say something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know," Rumsfeld told a news briefing. "We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns -- the ones we don't know we don't know." John Lister, spokesman for the Plain English campaign, said: "We think we know what he means. But we don't know if we really know."