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July 26, 2002


Say Again?!
Deloitte Consulting wants to change its name to what?

Greg G. @ 3:06 PM | # |


You Can Run, But You Can't Hide
Jennifer 8. Lee -- I swear, she has the greatest name at the New York Times -- has an article in Circuits this week about the ineffable weirdness of googling. Thanks to Earth's favorite search engine, you see, with just a few seconds people can get data on anything or anyone. Including, well, us.
In June, Ms. Crick, 24, who works part time as a computer tutor, went to a Manhattan apartment to help a 40-something man learn Windows XP.

After their session, the man pulled out a half-inch stack of printouts of Web pages he said he had found by typing Ms. Crick's name into Google, the popular search engine.

"You've been a busy bee," she says he joked. Among the things he had found were her family Web site, a computer game she had designed for a freshman college class, a program from a concert she had performed in and a short story she wrote in elementary school called "Timmy the Turtle."

"He seemed to know an awful lot about me," Ms. Crick said, including the names of her siblings. "In the back of my mind, I was thinking I should leave."
I'll second that. As much as easy access to information has made parts of my life -- research, shopping, and newsgathering, for instance -- a breeze, when I stretch that access to its outer limits, I feel like a creep.

I know how, for instance, to track down a campaign contributor's undisclosed address through his phone number. But why should I do that? If the contributor wanted us to know where he lives, wouldn't he simply have told us?

Well, he could have -- but Google's speed can kill your perspective, or your judgment, all too easily. Why wring hands over the ethics of a search when you can click first and ask questions later? I can get the skinny on that gal I met last night while I was bowling at the Lucky Strike -- why the heck shouldn't I?

Because some facts are better left unfound -- and because Google, with its smorgasbord of links, can make the slope from curiousness to invasiveness slick and steep. Besides, let's be honest: how would _you_ rather have someone start to learn about you? On Google or on a date?

Greg G. @ 1:47 AM | # |


Required Reading
Appearing on the cover of the next New Republic: passages from a forthcoming book called The Emerging Democratic Majority. [Nice nod to Kevin Phillips in the title.] From what I can tell, the authors use the economic and lifestyle trends depicted in The Rise of the Creative Class and Bobos in Paradise as a jumping-off point for some solid conclusions about where the electorate wants to go today.

Here's the money quote:
According to [Michael] Barone, Republicans enjoy an advantage in "the fastest-growing parts of the United States." The United States, he writes, is "moving, slowly, toward the Bush nation."

But Barone's--and by extension, perhaps, [Bush advisor Karl] Rove's-- reading of the nation's changing demography is dead wrong. His argument about the GOP's advantage in the "fastest-growing parts" rests on a simple confusion between the rate of growth and the size of growth. Yes, Bush did better than Gore in the 50 counties that grew the fastest during the '90s, averaging 62 percent of the vote, compared with 33 percent for Gore. But these pro-Bush counties are relatively small--averaging just 109,000 inhabitants--so their high growth rates translate into only modest increases in actual Bush voters. By contrast, in the 50 counties with the largest overall population growth--metropolitan counties averaging 1.46 million inhabitants--Gore won by a decisive 54 percent to 42 percent.

What Barone's numbers really reveal is that Bush and the Republicans enjoy an advantage in rural areas and in the "collar" counties on the edge of metropolitan areas being formed primarily by white emigres from rural areas. If history were running in reverse, and if the United States were becoming a primarily rural nation, the GOP would enjoy a distinct demographic advantage. But rural America is shrinking--its share of the country's population has declined 17 percent over the last 40 years--while densely populated metropolitan America is growing and, with it, Democratic prospects.

If you like keeping up with demographic voting trends -- or just like watching Republicans squirm -- give the article a look.

Matthew Yglesias doesn't buy it -- as nice as those predictions look in the short run, he says, "you can't predict the future." He's got a point. But can't a man dream? =)

Greg G. @ 12:00 AM | # |

July 25, 2002


Earth to Greens, Come In
Remember that Ralph Nader guy? The one who ran for against Gore and Bush two years ago and helped make a hash out of the whole election?

He's still on the scene (he never leaves), but at a time when more Americans than ever thought possible would take to a diatribe against corporate power as though it were the Sermon on the Mount, his colleagues in the Green Party are off talking about . . . solar power. Well, that and the World Court.

As much as I can't stand the Greens, I'm slackjawed -- just when they finally have some insight to offer, they sidetrack themselves talking about running VWs on vegetable oil? Hello? Anybody home?

Tom Tomorrow has some great details on this in his weblog today. You should give it a read.

Greg G. @ 10:58 PM | # |


News Brief: Economist Abandons Bush
Brad DeLong, an Economist-reading economist, found a scarcely believable editorial today in which the Bush stalwarts at the helm of the magazine confessed, abashedly, that a Democratic Congress might be the wise choice:
The Economist endorsed Mr Bush two years ago, and we have given strong support to America's war against terrorism. After September 11th, he proved a brave leader, sometimes magnificently patient and determined, surpassing this newspaper's expectations of how he might handle such a crisis. But there have also been disappointments. His economic policy has too often been amateurish and rigid. His fiscal policy still seems to be based on making his gigantic tax cut permanent after 2010 rather than worrying about stimulus now. His trade policy—notably his steel tariffs and farm subsidies—has been discouraging. Abroad, his foreign-policy successes have been undermined by a needlessly self-centred strain: allies have been pointlessly antagonised, domestic lobby groups cravenly indulged.

From this perspective, “gridlock”, with different parties in charge of the Congress and White House, might not be bad for America. A Democratic Congress might enlighten a few of his more blinkered urges in foreign policy and may even bring his economic policy into line . . . .
Who's next? The Wall Street Journal?

Greg G. @ 10:31 PM | # |

July 24, 2002


Witlessness Personified
Harvey Pitt, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, has a problem.

No, not that problem -- God himself could tell the President that Pitt should resign, but it still wouldn't matter. Bush is too stubborn to heed advice like that. I half suspect that if Washington were wiped out with a nuke, Pitt would still be around.

Still, with half of Washington calling for his head, is the man keeping his head down? Well, no -- in fact, he's calling for a raise. And he wants Congress to write it into the very same bill that contains all those accounting and investing reforms that, until his deathbed conversion, he so kindly and gently refused to admit made sense. [As a side effect, he would also end up ranking ahead of the head of NASA, the head of the EPA, and the civilian armed services chiefs -- but who's counting?]

So, let's see: he's repeatedly recused himself, his troops are underpaid, and Congress is roasting him on a spit -- sounds like a perfect time to ask for a raise, eh?

We Bush critics could be barking up the wrong tree. Why question his probity if he'd rather make sanity the issue? =,

Greg G. @ 8:50 PM | # |


More About Steve Earle
Jim Henley at High Clearing talked a little more about the tizzy over Earle's new Johnny Taliban song, and he fished out a great quote on patriotism after September 11 from Steve Earle's website:
This is a political record because there seems no other proper response to the place we're at now. But I'm not trying to get myself deported or something. In a big way this is the most pro-American record I've ever made. In fact, I feel URGENTLY American. I understand why none of those congressmen voted against The Patriot Act, out of respect for the Trade Center victims' families. I've sat in the death house with victims' families, seen them suffer. But this is an incredibly dangerous piece of legislation. Freedoms, American freedoms, things voted into law as American freedoms, everything that came out of the 1960's, are disappearing, and as any patriot can see, that has to be opposed.
Okay, people -- what's so revolting about that?

I also have to agree with something else Henley said:
This is a political weblog because there seems no other proper response to the place we're at now. Surely other weblogs, even those with vastly different viewpoints, could say the same.
They could indeed, Jim -- they could indeed.

Greg G. @ 7:55 PM | # |


Someone Take the Wheel
The Post has a great inside look into White House thinking on the economy today, but the view ain't pretty. On an expedition for some hint of wisdom or courage inside the West Wing, the writers instead see hallways full of advisers scampering willy-nilly, whimpering in corners, squinting for silver linings, or praying to God and Adam Smith for salvation. You'll come away from the article feeling like Dorothy after getting a look behind the curtain.

Josh Marshall wrote some brilliant, er, talking points today about the Bushies meltdown:
Remember the big tin robot in those early sixties sci-fi films? Remember how there'd come a point at the end where the hero would outwit the robot or set him on some problem he couldn't solve and the robot would slip into a feedback loop and smoke would start coming out of his ears?

The White House is the robot.

It's really that bad.
Just read the whole post. It's really that good.

In the meantime, maybe we need to click our heels three times. "There's no place like home. There's no place like home . . ."

Greg G. @ 5:44 PM | # |


From the 'Better Late Than Never' Department
Attorney General John Ashcroft, a power-mad grandstander? We here at the Green[e]house have known that for a while, but -- hold on to your hats -- now, even conservatives are admitting it.
Many religious conservatives who were most instrumental in pressing President Bush to appoint John Ashcroft as attorney general now say they have become deeply troubled by his actions as the leading public figure in the law enforcement drive against terrorism.

Their dismay comes as several Bush advisers have begun complaining that Mr. Ashcroft, with his lifelong politician's fondness for attention, has projected himself too often and too forcefully. More significantly, they say privately that he seems to be overstating the evidence of terrorist threats.

Most striking, however, is how some conservatives who were Mr. Ashcroft's biggest promoters for his cabinet appointment after he lost his re-election to the Senate in 2000 have lost enthusiasm. They cite his anti-terrorist positions as enhancing the kind of government power that they instinctively oppose.

You don't say?

It's a great article as far as it goes, but I keep waiting for Republicans to quit darting away from the main issue. As Matthew Yglesias aptly put it:
Ashcroft isn't some random occurence on the American political scene; Bush appointed him over some very strident objections, and could fire him at any time he wants to. Ultimately, Ashcroft is George Bush, just as the rest of Bush's cabinet is. It's really time for conservatives (who, unlike we liberals, might be able to exercise some influence on the administration) to name names and say that Bush — not Ashcroft, not Powell, not Mineta, not Ridge, not Rove — is doing bad things and ought to stop.
Amen, brother.

Greg G. @ 4:39 PM | # |

July 23, 2002


Lightning Strikes Twice
Well, it's not every day that you can walk up to your car and see one of the wheels almost falling off -- but who says that can't become an annual event?

It happened this morning for the second time in recent memory, just as I was pulling into work. The first instance came last March, just as I had gotten back home from church. And wouldn't you know that the same tire buckled both times?

First off, I know I ought to be grateful -- better to have a falling wheel in a parking lot than when you're flying down the interstate, right? What makes me cringe, though, is that I've been waiting on two lost paychecks for weeks and this doesn't help matters. The last repair cost me $700; I hope that the price doesn't repeat itself.

[The fact that the same wheel failed both times should help a little. Is that serendipity? I don't know, but I'll take it.]

In the meantime, does anyone out there care to buy me one of these?

Greg G. @ 6:21 PM | # |


Artist Writes Controversial Song, Film at 11
Grammy-winning alt-country artist Steve Earle is the talk of the web today -- he's taking a beating over a new song he wrote from the perspective of John Walker 'American Taliban' Lindh, and every blogger but RuPaul seems to have weighed in. Since there's so much eloquence all over the web on this subject, I'll keep this short.

Lindh may be a deplorable git, but he's still worth writing about; men have tried to see into the minds of far worse than him. Recording a song about him does not, bloviation aside, make the songwriter an ingrate, a traitor or anti-American. Earle's just out to write a good song. People can judge for themselves whether he succeeded.

Besides, if this controversy is enough to land Earle in the Washington Post, then the attention just might have helped him sell a few more records. =,

Greg G. @ 11:59 AM | # |


The Cheney Chase (cont'd)
Wondering where to find the veep? Try Montgomery, Ala. The vice president flew there Monday for the dedication of the Blount Cultural Park, named after an aging benefactor of state and national Republican candidates.

The park, by the way, plays host to the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, which deserves a far wider reputation than it has. Any Southerners interested in something more stimulating than the ordinary Shakespeare-by-numbers should find time to make the journey -- maybe a weekend trip, with a Saturday night stay at Callaway Gardens. Come to mention it, that sounds like one great time. I think I just might go find myself a date. =,

Keep on coming back to the Green[e]house Effect, where you hear about Cheney sightings first.

Except when Blogger eats my posts. It's gotten so rickety these days that Yogi Berra comes to mind: "the place is so popular that nobody goes there anymore." Ev?

Greg G. @ 1:41 AM | # |


'Oh Waiter! Another Serving of Crow!'*
Yuval Rubinstein has a great little post today about the most ridicule-worthy books of the 'long boom' years of the 1990s. Only three books on the list, though? Three? There's just so many to choose from . . . =,

* With apologies to Jeff Greenfield.

Update: New York Times columnist Paul Krugman zings the silliest book of them all. Mr. Glassman, your order is ready!

Greg G. @ 1:01 AM | # |

July 22, 2002


The Dean Advantage
Here's the one odd thing about Howard Dean: he doesn't give a whit about gun control. He just doesn't care. Given the pasting Al Gore took in the last election in states like West Virginia and Tennessee, that probably works in Dean's favor, but someone at Matthew Yglesias' weblog disagrees.
[Dean's] ardent pro-gun views are, shall we say, a hindrance going into the Democratic primaries. Even if this stance helps him with conservative Dems in W. Virginia, Penn, etc., he's going to get killed on this issue in NY, Illinois, and California.
Wrong -- Dean's bulletproof on this. Guns won't pose a hazard. Here's why.
  • With Dean outflanking the field on health care and taxes, he's neutralized the gun issue. Can any Democrat seriously run to the left of a candidate who supports national health care and a tax hike?
  • As long as the market stays in the tank, vaporizing 401(k)'s and forcing retirees to go back to work, bread and butter issues will have far more relevance to voters than handguns.
  • Besides, considering how extreme the Bush adminstration looks on guns, Dean's position -- which would have been beyond the pale for a Democrat six years ago -- looks outright sensible.
Advantage: Dean.

For the record, I'm still a John Kerry man. But Dean looks more and more credible by the day.

Greg G. @ 11:09 PM | # |


Blaming the Messenger
With the White House totally out of subject-changing tactics now that wall-to-wall terror warnings have lost their punch, the Bush administration has called in lie detectors to stamp out pesky leaks about breathtakingly awful policies -- for instance, visas on the quick for Saudis -- before they happen.

This wouldn't be the first White House to make war on leaks, but polygraph machines? Bush could squelch the leak temptation in an instant; he could just follow policies that aren't so ridiculous or impossible to defend. That he would rather devote White House attention to an enormous plumbing effort instead of taking a step that simple says something about how rigid and stubborn Bush is.

Speaking of rigid and stubborn: The Immigration and Naturalization Service still wants to deport the British widow of a WTC victim, in spite of the American citizenship of her two kids. Charming, eh?
[Link courtesy of The Big Pun.]

Greg G. @ 5:40 PM | # |


Speaking the Truth on Taxes
Prepare for a shock: A leading Democrat is actually saying that the Bush tax cut has to go. Who would have thought?

The man in question, Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D) -- a dark horse candidate for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination -- said on Meet the Press yesterday that he favored a total rollback of the President's tax bill, with half the proceeds taken to pay for universal health care.

Although that last part scares me [didn't this guy learn anything from Harry and Louise?], there hasn't been a better time for a Democrat with courage to call Bush's economic agenda the Gilded-Age farce that it is. Unraveling markets and niggling about Bush and Cheney's corporate shenanigans are priming the public to make a turnaround on how to handle the economy; 48 percent of Americans now believe the country is on the wrong track, a new CBS/New York Times poll says, outnumbering the 42 percent who say we're on the right track. A Democrat willing to give Americans a vision of what the right track is could make an early name for himself in the 2004's presidential stakes.

Update: Matthew Yglesias seems just as impressed.
2d Update (4:30 p.m.): So does The American Prospect.

Greg G. @ 4:12 PM | # |


Back and refreshed from a warm, peaceful weekend. Maybe it's the rest that's got me bouncing -- or maybe it's the Vanilla Coke I've got in my hands right now.

The taste reminds me of drinking a float -- it goes down with the same half-creamy, half-foamy texture. Of course, since it's a coke, it washes down fast, so I keep wishing the taste would stick around longer. Or that I'd stopped at Baskin-Robbins.

Wyeth Ruthven's page is getting hammered today, thanks to a link from Glenn Reynolds to a great piece he wrote on Ted Turner's apparent land grab on the Carolina coast. I saw the story in the Atlanta paper about his suit against the Gullah living there, but it completely slipped my mind that a title problem or forced sale could have put their land in Turners hands. Kudos to Wyeth for digging that up.

On another note, Wyeth: Martin Luther King III couldn't even win an election in substantially black Fulton County, Ga., against a guy named Skandalakis. I wouldn't expect heroics from him if I were you.

Greg G. @ 2:59 PM | # |