William Burton
No Dumber Than I Look

Thursday, April 01, 2004

To Everyone Else

Sorry about the previous post, but it had to be done.

Can't believe they'd sell motherboards with a known conflict with all ATI video cards, then not tell people who called to specifically ask about a possible conflict.

BTW: It would make me very happy if any of you linked to that post with the words Asus tech support so it showed up on Google searches.


Dear Asus Tech Support

Fuck off, you lying bastards.

PS: Please don't breed.


Thursday, March 25, 2004


Continued horrid, frustrating, and painful computer problems.

Will be back when they are resolved. I apologize.


Thursday, March 11, 2004


Even though it's probably the ETA and not Al Quaeda, those people are still just as dead.

I've been worried for quite some time that terrorists would figure out how easy it is to hit soft targets in the West, and mass transit is actually more secure than many other places. Shopping malls, movie theaters, high school basketball games, office buildings, and crowded restaurants would all be good places to kill hundreds of people with one well-placed bomb.

Robert Kaplan has written about the way people react to ever-present danger in places like Lebanon and Israel. They basically have two choices:

1) Bunker down, keep out of public, and essentially close off most of life to avoid danger

2) Go on as if they weren't in any danger, even in the face of constant evidence to the contrary

Oddly, it's the people in #1 who end up the worse off, because every single one of them suffers the effects of terrorism. Every single one of them lives a shrinking, constricted life of limited opportunities, and making our day-to-day lives intolerable is one of the chief goals of terrorism.

Some of the people in #2 will end up being vicitms of terrorism, random street crime, or whatever else we worry about as we sit behind locked doors. Most victims will actually come from that group, as they're the ones in harm's way most often. But the vast majority of people who carry on with their lives won't become victims. That's what we need to keep in mind.

We can either take a small, calculated risk of becoming a victim; or we can guarantee that our lives are harmed. It's up to us.


Dear CNN, Fox, MSNBC, et al

Please, please stop replaying the video of the hockey player from the Canucks getting his neck broken. It's not as disturbing as your constant replays of the jet hittng the WTC on Sept 11th, but it's still really freaking me out.

On a side note, I'm glad my kid didn't want to play collision sports by the time he was old enough for me to let him (skateboarding and soccer are dangerous enough).

Thank you


Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Just as I thought

Reader Sheila was nice enough to provide a link to a study ranking each Senator on a liberal/conservative scale based on their rollcall votes.

I guess saying Kerry has the 22nd most liberal voting record in the Senate just doesn't have the same ring to it.
Was suprised to see Kerry tied with Lieberman and ranked as slightly more conservative than Edwards or Clinton.

Robert Byrd has the distinction of the most liberal voting record in the Senate, and also happens to have the single safest seat in the Senate (even as a Red State Democrat). To have a chance of losing an election in WV, Byrd would have to get caught in bed with a dead woman or a live boy, and even then it would be too close to call.

I was also surprised to see Lincoln Chafee ranked as more conservative than every Democrat but Zell Miller, and McCain as the 4th most conservative Republican. Makes sense, though. McCain tries to push his Party a bit towards the center verbally, but pretty much toes the line in voting.


Wednesday, March 03, 2004

First Line of Attack

Have noticed the exact phrase Most liberal voting record in the Senate being bandied about in regards to John Kerry (Chris Matthews used it last night at least twice). The wording is exactly the same every time I hear it.

This is not a coincidence. Much as the Republicans repeated invented the internet over and over again until it was conventional wisdom about Al Gore, they're gonna repeat most liberal voting record in the Senate over and over and over about Kerry.

Doesn't matter if it's not true (I'm thinking Kennedy, Feingold, Leahy, and quite a few others have more liberal records than Kerry). Doesn't matter if it's easily disproven (how easy was it to look up the exact quote of what Gore actually said about the internet?). All that matters is that it gets repeated.

You repeat something like this often enough and it gets planted in the mind, regardless of the facts (a good example is the constant repetition of Reagan won the Cold War over and over again).

Every single use of this phrase needs to be challenged, over and over again. If it doesn't, then the propagandists win.


Note to Arnold:

Borrowing $15 billion to avoid making difficult choices (most of whcih would break campaign promises) is not, in any way, fixing your state's budget crisis or solving any problem at all.

It is simply passing on your own problems to your children's generation (don't think for a minute that the debt will be paid off in your lifetime). It is also setting a bad precedent for dealing with, or more correctly, shirking future problems (much as Reagan set a precedent for Bush).

Welcome to Bush's America:

Faced with difficult choice?
Just pass it on to your kids


Thursday, February 26, 2004

What Greenspan Didn't Say

While I'm grateful that the Fed Chairman both embarrassed George Bush and pointed out a much needed truth by stating that the Federal deficits are a really big problem that we can't expect our selves to just grow out of, his framing of the debate was fundamentally dishonest.

Alan Greenspan seems to think that we should respond to the upcoming retirement of hordes of Baby Boomers by cutting their benefits. This, indeed, would disguise the size of our budget deficit (much as our current misappropriation of Social Security funds does). But it wouldn't really reduce that deficit.

The truth of the matter, and something you never hear on television, is that the Social Security fund is in surplus, has been for decades, and will be for decades to come. It's the rest of the Federal budget that is out of whack.

Social Security used to be pretty much a pay-as-you-go sort of deal. We'd take in roughly what we paid out, just like we claim to want to do with the rest of the government. But in the early 80's, Ronald Reagan ran into a problem. His tax cuts ans sepnding increases were inflating the Federal deficit ot unheard of levels. Instead of admitting the truth, that we couldn't afford to spend more money than ever before while drastically cutting taxes for rich people (sound familiar?)

Instead, Reagan and his budget people start, for the first time in their lives, expressing concern for the solvency of the Social Security system. The solution, of course, was to raise the payroll taxes on every single working person in the United States. This surplus, above and beyond what is needed to fund the program currently, is then loaned to the rest of the Federal government.

Conveniently enough, the government doesn't include this money borrowed from Social Security in its announced budget deficit. It's still borrowed, and it's still spent. But it's considered off the books, and doesn't go into the final number (I'm guessing that this will be somewhere short of $200 billion this year).

That's right, folks. The Bush deficits are a couple hundred billion dollars higher than announced, because this doesn't take into account that they're borrowing the Social Security surplus in addition to a crap-load of private funds. We only had a couple years where we were in a real surplus situation, and even them the surplus wasn't very big. Any intelligent person in the same situation would've used it to pay down their debt, not to fund a spending spree.

So when Greenspan tells us to cut Social Security benefits rather than dump Bush's tax cuts to balance the budget, he's really telling us Don't spend that Social Security revenue where it really came from, use it to continue hidng how fucked up our Federal budget really is.

For that's what we'd be doing. We'd be using taxes paid on earned income starting with dollar number one to offset tac cuts that only effect people who make hundreds of thousands a year (who, BTW, pay the same payroll taxes as someone who makes ninety thousand since the taxes are capped). Then we'd be cutting those same working stiffs' benefits when they retired.

This isn't too surprising. After all, one of the guys who came up with Reagan's end run around facing his deficits in the 80's was.....Alan Greenspan.


Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Quote of the Election

I'm going to do everything in my power to help re-defeat George W Bush.
- Jim Sasser (former Senator/Ambassador)


Why Kerry Should Want Edwards to Stay in the Race

There's been a lot of call lately for every Democrat to unite behind John Kerry as the Presidential nominee. This has some superficial appeal, but really isn't the best way to go.

The conventional wisdom is that a bruising primary with lots of mudslinging hurts a general election candidate, and this is true. Not only does getting slammed by people in your own Party weaken your support, but slamming them in return makes their supporters less likely to support you in the Fall.

But John Edwards has not run the kind of negative campaign that is actually going to hurt Kerry. Instead, Edwards has run a campaign based on the inequities in Bush's America and what he would do to redress them. This is exactly the kind of message the Democrats should want on the airwaves, and what they should want the voters thinking about. There is nothing in Edwards' message likely to hurt Kerry at all in a general election and quite a bit likely to help him.

The other reason Kerry needs Edwards in the race is that without viable opposition, Kerry stops being a story. Right now, John Kerry is a big deal wherever he goes and whatever he does. In fact, right now he's a bigger story than George Bush. Kerry can hog the limelight as long as he's in a competitive Primary. As soon as everyone else folds, Kerry's visits to swing states and policy speeches will get much less play.

There are plenty of Primaries left in swing states. It's in every Democrats interest that these Primaries get as much attention as possible and that the overall Democratic message gets out to the general public. They only do so as long as a viable opponent stays in the race, and John Edwards is the only one who hasn't gone negative on John Kerry.


Tuesday, February 10, 2004

John Kerry Should Thank Howard Dean Profusely

By claiming the left wing of the Democratic Party as his own, Dean created space towards the center for Kerry to emerge as a "moderate" alternative. Without Dean in the race, Kerry would've been the most liberal viable candidate; and centrist support would've drifted to the candidate who best positioned himself as the moderate alternative to that liberal Kerry.

I don't know if the voter perception of Kerry as a moderate will hold through the general election. Unfortunately, most of the swing voters and Reagan Democrats probably aren't paying enough ettention right now to form a lasting impression of Kerry before the Bush war machine gets cranked up.

This could've all been different. If Dean had emphasized his moderate record as Governor rather than running almost solely on the war (until just before the election), he might've actually emerged as the moderate alternative, rather than as the liberal sacrificial lamb.


Sunday, February 08, 2004

Political Notes

Judy Woodruff seemed really pissed the other day that all the Democrats spend more time bashing Bush than each other. I think the people saying that a long, contested Primary that focuses on how much Bush sucks and doesn't go bitterly negative is good for the Democrats are onto something.

Bush never seems more incomprehensible than when trying to explain away the whole WMD in Iraq thing. Admit it, George. There aren't any, and there weren't any when you invaded. Just admit it and change the subject.

Edwards and Clark both take a lot of the cultural wedge issues out of play, as neither is easy to portray as the elitist Yankee liberal the Pubbies like to run against. Kerry does. He defuses the national security issue pretty well, though. So expect a campaign based on abortion, gays and guns if Kerry gets the nod (with taxes and subtle appeals to racism thrown into the mix).

I really don't see how Bush wins a positive campaign based on the issues and on competence, so I don't expect one. Given how the Press loves to decry negative campaigning, they don't seem too upset that the Republicans will spend a couple hundred million dollars slandering the Democratic nominee. Of course, the Press will get most of that money as ad revenue, so don't expect an outcry anytime soon.

How the hell can anyone who gives a damn about the Bill of Rights not get pissed over the advent of First Amendment Zones. If you can stand on a streetcorner with a poster supporting a politician, then I should be able to stand next to you with one criticizing him. If I can't, then the 1st Amendment means nothing. I don't know how to make this enough of a political issue to get the Bushies to cut it out, but it needs to be done (and if it were a Democrat doing it, I'd publicly refuse to vote for him until he quit).

There are not words enough to state how pissed I am that my kids and grandkids will be paying off Bush's debt long after we're all gone. I was pissed at Clinton for cutting taxes in '96 as an election ploy when we still had a deficit, and I'm even more pissed now (cause the amount of money is much greater, not because of who's doing it).


Saturday, February 07, 2004


Curious Stranger has the lowdown on Chuck Robb, including drug use and sex with underage girls while Governor.

They just wanted a pliant Democrat, and they got one (I'm guessing they couldn't trust Hart or Nunn to take orders).


Monday, February 02, 2004

John Edwards for President

In these discussions about electability, we all talk about who would be the best candidate against George W Bush. This is very important, given that every viable Democratic candidate would make a far better President than Bush does.

Unfortunately, we often ignore the question of who we really want to become President. Last week I spent a good deal of time thinking about this and looking into the candidates stands on various issues. I came to a conclusion.

This is not a prediction of who will win, we'll know more about that tomorrow. I make this endorsement without concern for whether Edwards would make the best candidate against Bush (I acually think Clark probably would, with Edwards 2nd). This is simply about who would do the best job once in office.

I want John Edwards to become President.

I've often described myself as an old-school New Deal Democrat who puts more emphasis on economic than social policy. I also espouse a muscular, liberal interventionist foreign policy. Of all the candidates, John Edwards comes closest to my heart on the issues that matter most. But there is more to this as well.

Edwards is the only candidate who talks about the ongoing Brazilification of our society, its division into what he calls Two Americas. I'm very concerned that this division will become permanent, and that it will harden our society and make it both more violent and less stable as those who find the traditional paths to a comfortable life no longer there. He not only talks about it, he has very detailed policy proposals spelling out the myriad ways he would make America's promise available to all.

Edwards would make the tax code more progressive. One of the realities of the last 20 years is that the burden of taxation has been moving off of corporations and the rich and onto the backs of the middle class. By repealing those tax cuts that benefit the only the wealthy and leaving the rest, Edwards would help move the tax burden back to where it once was.

Edwards would make health insurance available for all children and for those adults who are otherwise uninsurable. To me, the logic of insuring all children is inescapable. They have done nothing to deserve either wealthy parents or poor ones, and their access to healthcare shouldn't be dependent on lucking into the proper parents.

Edwards would rebuild our relationships with our other nations, expand our commitment to humanitarian aid abroad, and do more to disrupt our enemies in Afganistan and elsewhere; while still leaving our capacity to act intact. Bush has done much to damage our international standing, much of it completely unnecessary. Edwards would rebuid this standing, which is absolutely essential to getting allies to help us abroad and to keeping America from becoming a target in the first place. He would take them into consideration in a way that Bush has not, but Edwards would not, however, allow foreign governments to have a veto over our use of force.

Most of all, John Edwards has the intelligence and adaptability to react to situations as they develop. If the last few years have shown us anything, it is that we don't know shit about the future. Remeber all those pundits saying the 2000 election really didn't matter much at all?

John Edwards is a man who can react to new situations, can think on his feet, and can be trusted to make intelligent choices.

For all these reasons and for many more, I want John Edwards to become President.

Feel free to comment one way or the other, and please take a look at Edwards' policy proposals.


Sunday, February 01, 2004

Well, I was close

Don't know if this counts as a good omen for Kerry or not.

It was like an entirely new game started with a couple minutes left in the first half. Went from a defensive struggle to a shootout.

Don't know if that's an omen for the Primary either.


Prediction: Carolina by 3

Just like the Democratic Primary, this is either going to be a quick blowout by New England or a slow slog to victory by Carolina.

I'm going for the slow slog, but that may just be wishful thinking.


Saturday, January 31, 2004


How's that $15 billion to fight AIDS in Africa coming along?