March 2, 2001 

My sources tell me that there's an excellent chance that U.S. Senator Zell Miller (D - GA) will switch parties in the coming weeks. Besides Miller's own tepid, equivocating denials, the best evidence of this is how Republicans are lining up for a 2002 challenge Georgia's other Democratic Senator, Max Cleland, but not one of them has even hinted at challenging Miller, also up for a re-election in 2002.

Miller was appointed to fill the remainder of the late Senator Paul Coverdell's term, and must win the special election to stay in Washington. W

Recycled LinkSeems like everyone's thinking about speeding tickets nowadays. Coincidentally, after I discussed yesterday Virginia's plan to enforce speed limits from the air, I saw on Backup Brain a link to George McCalip's Help! I Got a Ticket! page.

George gives some solid advice - if you've got the facts on your side, argue the facts. If you don't, argue the law. George isn't a lawyer but obviously has a sound grasp on how to beat a ticket, at least in California. As you will soon glean from reading his tales of the judicial system, most states have strict procedural requirements for proving speeding tickets, and it is quite common for prosecutors, police officers, and judges to make a mistake that will allow you to get radar evidence thrown out or your ticket dismissed.

McCalip correctly hints, but doesn't quite say, that if it's just your word against a cop's and you have no supporting evidence, the judge will believe the cop more than 95% of the time. If you fight, you'd better come to court prepared. W

What a great time to be going to Ireland: they just called off St. Patrick's Day celebrations for fear of spreading foot-and-mouth disease.  W

Didn't I say exactly this just the other day?

"It seems like to me we need to be careful about any trigger mechanism," Bush told legislators... "It ought to be on spending to make sure that we don't over-spend surpluses."

I think our chimpanzee president is smarter than we gave him credit for - he's reading WOIFM for pointers. (Reuters: Bush Touts Tax CutW

 March 1, 2001 

Yesterday morning, someone hacked into the Congressional Quarterly distribution list and spammed it. And of course, everyone insisted on replying to the list, resulting in dozens of pointless e-mails between the hours of 9:00am and 9:30am. W

A couple of thoughts on yesterday's Washington Post story about airborne speed limit enforcement in Virginia. The idea has been around forever - Florida has been doing it, or at least posting road signs about doing it, for decades. The crux is that a law enforcement officer in a plane clocks a vehicle on the roadway below, then signals a trooper on the ground who then issues the ticket.

Besides the obvious cost inefficiency of this scheme, a ticket issued by plane ought to be the easiest speeding ticket to beat in court. In order to make it stick, the Commonwealth would have to prove that the citation was issued to the proper vehicle. Because of the multiple officers involved, this task is twice as complex as an ordinary speeding case. First, they have to prove that someone was speeding, which means the officer in the plane must come in and testify that the speed-tracking equipment (usually VASCAR, according to the Virginia State Police) was properly tested and used. Then they have to prove that the speeding someone is the same person who got the ticket, which means the officer who wrote the ticket has to come in and testify as well.

There are some complicated hearsay problems here - the officer writing the ticket doesn't know what the vehicle's speed was; the officer in the air can't determine the identity of the speeder. The only way to connect the speeder with the ticket is by virtue of what those two tell each other, and I'm not yet convinced that a clever lawyer couldn't get those statements excluded at trial. In any event, the level of proof is much trickier for the state and ties up at least two law enforcement officers, in addition to the expense of flying the plane itself. At the end of the day, it's probably not worth it.

If anyone in the Northern Virginia area gets a ticket this way, let me know - I'd love to try to beat one of these in court. W

This is for Rick: The real story behind the pardon of Casper Weinberger.

That's when Walsh indicted him. He charged Weinberger with, among other things, obstructing Congress. Both Republican senator Warren Rudman and Democrat senator Daniel Inouye, who co-chaired the joint congressional investigating committee, came to Weinberger's defense and disputed that Weinberger had lied to Congress. The court dismissed quickly the charge as failing to allege a prosecutable criminal offense. It was utterly frivolous.

Hmmm. Charges were dismissed. Hmmm. Frivolous. Hmmm. W

In his pitch for his tax cut plan, President Bush showed a deftness that may have surprised many of those who still think of him as stupid:

In the slyest part of the speech, he decided to portray some anxiety of his own: If we don't cut taxes, Congress will spend so much they'll endanger Social Security! This drew a horrified gasp from the Democratic side of the aisle, but you couldn't help think they were thinking not, "Oh no, he is incorrect!" but "Oh no, the kid knows how to dance!'"

A Serious President by Peggy Noonan. W

Mike promised he'd post this, but since he hasn't I will:

Him (watching Bush's address): Wow, I haven't heard that good of a political speech since Reagan!
Me (derisively): That's because the Reaganites wrote it.

[posted. And you were hardly "derisive" - you just thought you were clever. -Mike] W

 February 28, 2001 

The Hideous Jabbering Head of David Arquette!! W

Recycled LinkThis may be some of the silliest criticism I've heard yet about the President's speech impediment:

Take the phrase, "My pan plays down an unprecedented amount of our national debt . . ." Bush makes a slip here which is revealing. While he may have intended to say he wanted to "pay down the debt," he reveals inadvertently that he wants to "play down debt." He wants to minimize the significance of the debt, which enriches the banks at the expense of the taxpayer.

And when you take the part about faith-based charitable groups and play it backwards at half speed, you can clearly hear the President saying, "Paul's dead man, miss him miss him..." It's all subliminable.

Besides the silly Freudian stuff, the writer displays an amazing ignorance of who actually holds the national debt. The government doesn't borrow money from banks or put purchases on credit cards. In order to borrow money, the government issues T-bills, savings bonds, and the like, mostly held by private individuals and investors. When you talk about "paying down the national debt" you're talking about the government cashing out all those T-bills and savings bonds - which it must do according to the terms of the instrument, not just on its own whim.

Link from OnlovinW

Last night President Bush gave us a glimpse of how he became the first Texas governor ever to win a second term, and by a lopsided 68% - 31% at that. Despite some small problems with delivery, the speech itself was one of the best sales pitches on policy we've heard from an American president since Reagan.

Bush solidly positioned himself in the center on just about every issue. With almost every sentence, he anticipated and cut off the possible angles of attack. One of these was the best moments of the night, when he deflated the most common argument against testing schoolchildren:

If you test children on basic math and reading skills, and you are "teaching to the test," you are teaching ... math and reading. And that is the whole idea.

One could almost see him biting back the next words: "Well, duh!"

Some of his proposals really pleased me - hopefully he's serious about ending racial profiling, and not just paying it lip service. Some reasonable payments towards the national debt, but nothing that'll suck the air out of any investor who depends on T-bills. Then there's the tax issue. W looks like he's not going to back down a bit on his tax plan - not on retroactive marginal rate changes, not on fixing the marriage penalty, not on killing the death tax. All these are good news. For those Democrats who cry scared that the surpluses might not materialize... the only reason that could happen is if the economy starts to tank, and that makes a significant tax cut even more urgent.

I'm not pleased that the President seems willing to create a handful of new entitlement programs. While they are probably meant as a political sop to the left, they are the most dangerous part of his budget proposal. After all, Social Security started out as just a tiny little program, too.... now it's a monstrosity funded by a hugely regressive payroll tax, and until significantly reformed, it threatens a vast budgetary train wreck in the next decade or so. Entitlement programs are ticking time bombs - why are we adding more dynamite to the pile?

To all the liberals who demand triggers in the proposed tax cuts "just in case" the expected surpluses don't materialize, here's a better plan. Let's throw some triggers in your pork-barrel spending instead. Because it's runaway spending, not tax cuts, that threaten the surplus.

In any event, last night Washington saw its agenda for the first time... and it is his. W

 February 27, 2001 

Recycled LinkFrom about a dozen different blogs: File not found! Bummer. W

Inspired the the tagline over at Pith, I went a-searching for the meaning behind the phrase "my hovercraft is full of eels." Unsurprisingly, it comes from a Monty Python sketch.

Props to the Huh? glossary. W

Recycled LinkLink from Jason: The Standard reports that Judge Jackson's candid four-hour interview with a reporter during the thick of the Microsoft trial may not just have been a violation of judicial ethics, and a clear demonstration of his bias against Microsoft, but it might also slap a big fat "Reverse Me" sign on his back and could even get him thrown off the case entirely.

The more I learn about Judge Jackson, the less I think he is fit to occupy the bench. W

 February 26, 2001 

More fun with satellite imagery: GlobeXplorer Viewer.

The interface allows to to look up specific U.S. addresses and then zoom in on them. I checked my parents' back yard... looks like the grass is getting a little tall. W

Sean has a sweet new look to go with his sweet new domain: W

Michael Wertz, who runs DogBlog, posted an artistic rendering of TuckerW

The Miami Herald: BUSH WINS. The paper concluded that the [illegal and unconstitutional] recount in Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Volusia counties would not have changed the outcome of the election: it would simply have confirmed George W. Bush's win in the state of Florida, and the Presidency. [UPDATE: The Herald link will go away soon, but Missy found a more durable - pending bankruptcy at least - link from Salon]

"There were many people who expected there was a bonanza of votes here for Al Gore, and it turns out there was not," Herald executive editor Martin Baron said Sunday.

Can we all go home now? W

Newsweek crashes the weblog party about two years too late, and manages to paint every weblogger as deeply disturbed. The article quotes Noah Grey:

It just thoroughly astonishes me that anyone could give a damn about this insecure and fundamentally frightened guy who still sleeps with a teddy bear every night.

But sadly, there is no mention of Noah's widely-acclaimed work with GreyMatter, his own blog-publishing tool that is the post-Blogger rage, just the slant on his psychological problems.

Congrats to Meghan for getting some press as well, and not looking too much like squirrel bait. W

 February 25, 2001 

Congratulations to Lyn and Steve, who are now engaged to be married "sometime this calendar year." W

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