Monday, March 15, 2004

The Socialist victory in Spain

The ruling Conservative party was trounced by the Socialists days after terror attacks had killed 200 and wounded 1500. It looks like the principle that the Islamic terrorists want to establish has gained some credibility: kill Westerners, change their government.

9/11 didn't happen because Osama bin Laden wanted George W. Bush to declare war on terror and depose the Taliban and the Iraqi Ba'ath party. It happened because Osama bin Laden wanted George W. Bush to be impeached and replaced for mishandling the crisis.

What really rankles is that critics of the war and occupation of Iraq who had dismissed Spain as another one of Bush's "poodles" that offered no credibility and only token assistance to the Bush administration will now proclaim the removal of Spanish troops from Iraq as a grand failure of Bush's foreign policy.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Very interesting...

Paul Krugman beat me to an administration source behind that "8 million jobs in the hole" talking point in his column titled Promises, Promises last Tuesday.

The interesting thing is that the Economic Report of the President seems to be just as inaccurate for Democratic administrations as well as Republicans. Bush's figure of 138.3 million nonfarm payroll employment forecast for 2004 in the 2002 report is practically the same as Clinton's figure of 138.2 forecast for 2004 in the 2001 report. Bush's figure of 135.2 million forecast for 2004 in the 2002 report is the same as Clinton's figure of 135.2 million forecast for 2004 in the 2000 report. When I put the Clinton 2000 and 2001 figures on Krugman's graph, I get two parallel lines just as the Bush 2002, 2003, and 2004 figures give three parallel lines after 2003, so it looks like a forecast for the rate of increase in employment is just pulled out of the air for both administrations.

I'd be willing to bet that:
  • Every economist worth his salt knows the Economic Report's forecast is not particularly reliable too far into the future.

  • The Council of Economic Advisors takes the available data, assumes economic improvement in the years to come, and plugs and chugs to develop a forecast.

  • A President Kerry's 2006 Economic Report of the President will come up with the wrong figures for employment in its forecasts just like the previous ones
It all makes me wonder if Krugman considered this sort of thing propaganda when the Democrats did it?

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

That woman down at Schine Student Center LIED to me...

The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, advertised as the inspiration for Mel Gibson. If you're handing out free copies of the book that inspired "The Passion of the Christ", this is the one I want. I already had a copy of the other one.

I just realized that I haven't had a single orbital mind control laser post yet either. Heres a FAQ to get you started.

The Body (2001)

Vacuum Energy rating: no stars
Background information about "The Body" is available at The Internet Movie Database

We begin with an excavation digging yards down into the rear yard of a Palestinian storekeeper in Jerusalem and lead by Israeli archeologist Sharon Golban. A tomb has been uncovered, with a conveniently placed coin right inside the entrance for dating purposes and a secret room containing human remains. The remains bear marks of a crucifixion. Sharon is the scientifically minded type, but her colleague Father Lavelle immediately deduces from the Pilate-era coin that a highly provactive find of the remains of you know who has been made and, upon visiting the tomb and examining the body, he emerges visibly shaken. Terrible, terrible discoveries are at hand, so much so that Father Gutierrez, a faithful priest with a past in military intelligence, is sent out to Jerusalem on a mission to pre-emptively debunk the discovery.

(Note: the discovery for the most part debunks itself for those of you who have been paying a little attention to current events. The moment Sharon decides it was one nail through the feet instead of two for our poor victim, the game is up.)

Now that you've got the basic storyline, the rest of the movie plays out like a American liberal's wet dream. We have discussions about the interactions between religous faith, scientific honesty and pragmatic politics, scheming Israeli politicians, conniving Roman Catholic priests, sneaky Palestinian terrorists, and power struggles between shifiting alliances of political factions. For every unflattering character there is an equal and opposite sympathetic character. And to top it all off, all of the action depends upon those "nuances" of scientific fact that become more and more convincing as more and more evidence is deduced. The action is a little asymmetric, in the sense that the Israel government is, still, basically, the Israeli government, while our main Palestinian terrorist leader seems to think that having two or three goons to boss around makes him some kind of globe-spanning terrorist mastermind; I've seen bad guys from "The A-Team" that have more firepower at their command.

On the other hand, "The Body" is also a movie reviewer's wet dream because you can pretty much call this one in advance. Antonio Banderas' job as Father Gutierrez is to get paired up with the fairly attractive Olivia Williams as Sharon Golban. He first makes a token effort to debunk the excavation while she complains about political agendas getting in the way of her work. As more and more evidence of the identity of the remains is uncovered, Father Gutierrez is logically forced to question his beliefs to a greater and greater degree until he breaks down and bonds emotionally with Sharon, who by this time is attracted by his good looks and intellectual integrity. The one brownie point the movie earns is that Father Gutierrez at least doesn't sleep with her because he is still a priest, but he at least avoids the inexplicable case of histrionic movie-madness that afflicts Father Lavelle.

Friday, March 05, 2004

Does 2.2 equal 7?

An interesting pair of factoids in an article entitled Whack Job in The New Republic Online caught my attention today. First the writer quotes Senator John Kerry on job creation during the economic recovery:
I think when you're seven million jobs in the hole, step number one is pretty simple: stop digging.
Later the writer observes that:
Of course, the economy has actually lost, on net, many more jobs than [between a million and a million-and-a-half] since 2000--some 2.2 million according to the Labor Department's payroll survey, historically the most reliable measure of employment.
The "7 million jobs in the hole" quote is still available at the John Kerry for President website. Assuming that the Labor Department is correct, where the heck is Senator Kerry getting 7 million from? Until I figure out where Bush claimed to add 4 million jobs to the economy with his tax cuts, one possible way of getting a figure of 8 million jobs "in the hole" (along with a convenient debunking) has already been blogged by Donald Luskin here.

Monday, March 01, 2004

The game continues...

Andrew Sullivan's latest comparison of Bush to a world leader is here: Bush is Churchill.

It's not technically an entry into the "Past Presidents Game" since Winston Churchill was a statesman in the United Kingdom. The comparison is also pretty lousy given that Churchill's deep reservoir of unpopularity after World War II might have been created during the Gallipoli campaign of World War I. Churchill, if I remember correctly, also switched political parties twice, which isn't exactly a textbook way to make friends and influence people.

Sullivan is starting to look a little passive-aggressive towards Bush in his hunt for metaphors that make Bush sound like a loser, although I probably would come across the same way if I were selling articles to Time magazine on a regular basis. But is the list of relatively mediocre presidents to compare to President Bush so exhausted that we have to start looking to foreign leaders to make a decent comparison?