Tonight, we play for all the marbles.

Something else could happen. Osama bin Laden could magically appear. A terrorist strike could occur. But, assuming that neither these things, nor giant shenanigans occur, tonight’s the night.

Tonight is the night we see whether Democrats were right to pick John Kerry. Tonight is the night when we see what the national media has really become. Tonight is it.

History Unfolds Tonight

Usually, when you are certain you are witnessing history (not just the day-to-day mechanics of living, but an event of vital importnace) as it happens it is because you are seeing something very bad such as the 9/11 attacks. Today is one of those rare instances when one can expect to witness crucial history unfolding. Tonight’s debate is the most important in the history of the institution since the get-togethers began to be televised in 1960, and given that this is the most important election since 1860, these are the most important debates since Lincoln and Douglas met seven score and four years ago.

Simply, these debates are John Kerry’s last, best chance to create a substantial swing in the electorate that could make him the front-runner. A draw or marginal victory would leave him within striking distance, but racing against the clock, and a marginal or clear loss might well have him figuratively counting the klieg lights. Because, in all likelihood, at least the medium term (next 5 – 20 years) sustenance of America as a viable Democratic-Republic depends on this election September 30, 2004 is forever amongst the most crucial dates in American history.

The efficacy of America’s democracy is already ebbing. Regardless of how one feels about George W. Bush’s governance of America, no one can deny that it has brought radical change upon America’s economy and foreign policy. That a presidential electoral campaign, a basic exercise in democracy, now 33 days from its completion has not produced any meaningful discussion of these changes demonstrates a harrowing failure of our current system of governance.

Unique amongst TV-age presidents, Mr. Bush has not had to account for the decisions he has made in his tenure, except for a late-summer interview with Tim Russert. Even Mr. Bush’s most ardent supporters considered that interview a failure. It is not for nothing that Mr. Bush has not had to answer for his colossal failures and blunders thus far through the campaign. Beyond the normal “chance for a comeback” dynamic, Senator Kerry has a unique opportunity to force Mr. Bush to answer for his actions, and therefore has a far better chance of staging a comeback then challengers like Bob Dole or Walter Mondale ever had.

I am far too partisan to make an honest assessment of the “winner” or to offer any predictions. Tonight I plan on consuming a massive quantity of gin and hope that history transpires for the better.

The Pledge and the Imperial Congress

Without doing background research to citate the point, I think it’s pretty well established that, though a balance of powers was sought between the three branches, the finger was put on the scale a little bit to give Congress a little bit more power.

Congress can remove the President. Under the original constitution, the Congress could have removed the president and the vice president, and then ruled by enactment, with a Speaker/Prime Minister. Congress can also remove Justices from the Supreme Court and outright destroy the inferior Federal Courts.

The check on Congress was meant to be the people, who (as first set-up) would act through their state legislatures and their direct vote to temper the acts of their representatives and senators.

So, how then can the other branches react to Congress’s largest power-grab since the impeachment? It’s not clear that they can, but there is room.

The House has passed a bill limiting the jurisdiction of the Federal courts, excluding them from hearing cases about the pledge of allegiance. Other bills have been introduced with these jurisdictional limiting elements, including one on gay marriage.

Balkanization presents this argument based on the idea of “two-tiered Article III.” Essentially, this would mean that Congress can’t in fact remove jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to hear cases arising under the Constitution. It’s a textual argument based on a structural one.

I’m not sure I think the Supremes will buy it. No worries, I have something they are probably even more loathe to accept, but the weight of precedent may be much more forceful in this case.

The upshot of this law is to relegate to state courts the interpretation of this particular aspect of federal constitutional law. I believe this violates due process. The due process clause of the Fifth Amendment applies to the Federal government and its enactments, so we’ll be considering it here (it has been held to be parallel to the state limiting clause in the 14th amendment).

First, if there are 50 different rulings, that might be enough. Crossing over state lines with different federal rights could implicate the privileges or immunities clause as well, but I’m not going to get into that–I’m already out on a limb, so I’ll stay off the twigs. It’s not a frivolous argument that 50 different first amendments deny a person to their single right under the constitution.

But here’s my thought. It is established that there are extreme limits on the jurisdiction of a state court to issue orders to federal agencies (I think it can’t be done unless there is aprovision expressly allowing it). So, if someone sought a remedy against a federal agency, no relief could issue from a state court. A right with no remedy violates due process.

So, at least to that extent these jurisdiction limiting acts should be unconstitutional. I think after that it’s a matter of line drawing, and you could build on that predent that there absolutely must be some forum for adjudictaing federal constitutional rights–a backdoor, if you will to the two-tiered Article III argument above.

Kyoto vs. WTO: Inconsistent Approaches

I have been engaged in the trade debate for a long time. Long ago, people were told to buy American cars. This was before the foreign auto makers had much in the way of factories here. (And if you think Wall Street was what made them put the factories here, you’re wrong.) My initial instinct was that this was ridiculous. If US automakers didn’t make a product that people wanted, that wasn’t sufficiently reliable, and fuel efficient, then why should I?

This is the guy-on-the-street level argument to sell free trade. You get more for less. Same thing at Wal-Mart. The thing is, it really only costs you less out of pocket. The externalities are there, you just don’t pay for them. And that I believe is the real effect of conservative economic policies: tax cuts, lower interest rates, and lower prices by putting off all of the cost into externalities. It may cause a famine, a genocide, and a pandemic later, but that’s later. It’s the ultimate it irrational hedonism.

But consider a different case. The Bush administration has rejected the Kyoto treaty under the two wrong don’t make a right theory. I agree with them actually, that there are several bogus arguments in Kyoto. The first is the constant comparison of the US’s population to its consumption of fuels and production of carbon. Whatever our percentage of gross worldwide product is should be what percentage of carbon we are allowed. After all, if we make it and they can buy it, why shouldn’t it count against their (whoever they are) carbon quota? All that would do would force each country to have a gross worldwide product exactly the same as their population percentage wise. That’s an egalitarian dream even Marx never contemplated. Second, why should developing nations be allowed to develop at the expense of all of our health?

All of these are good arguments. Kyoto was the best that could be done, and so it should have been accepted as a starting point, but the Bush people used the above arguments as cover for their real agenda which was to externalize the costs onto nature to create fleeting temporal prosperity, then use that to keep power and profit from it. What a heist.

And why do we do that? Because we can — we’re the US, you have to accept our bargaining position as stronger, right?

But with the WTO we make no such pretensions. We act like we’re at the same basic level of bargaining as Brazil or Indonesia. Why? Well, of course the answer is that it’s about making profits — and if we can get the minimum labor cost, the minimum environmental overhead, and put off the externalities on these other countries it’s better than god forbid raising taxes to keep American workers healthy and educated and clean and safe.

So, perhaps the approach is consistent after all: do whatever to put off the costs on others or nature.

But I wonder why we couldn’t strike a better bargain with the WTO. If you want access to the best market in the world, you’re going to have to pay a tariff that will phase out over many years, which we will use to reeducate workers, provide for pensions, and whatever else needs to be done… and each phase will only phase in if we see that things are going well.

Trade is a more controversial issue than is presented. The Democrats may have to accept fault on this too… but can’t this be a winning issue for whichever candidate picks it up and asks “Why could we be given a better deal?”

Between Iraq, oil slavery, and trade, being a hyperpower just isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, I guess.

What if Bush Wins…

September’s Washington Monthly explores a second term for Bush. If I, in my wildest dilusions of granduer, had been asked to write an article to respond to that prompt, here’s what it would be:

The End of America as You Know it

By Jon-Erik G. Storm

Sometimes fundamental shifts in our nation are marked by wars. Sometimes they are marked by Constitutional Amendments. Sometimes, they aren’t memorialized by any one thing you can point to in a book. The passing of Middle Class America will be marked more by the absence of action than any one answer to a future trivia question such as “The Civil War,” or “The Fourteenth Amendment.” Indeed, sometimes the reverse groundswell is stronger than even the most firmly established law or institution, no matter how hard it was won.

Consider the Fifteenth Amendment–the Maginot line of Constitutional law–which was subsumed by 100 years of Jim Crow. Consider also the volumes of laws passed to implement FDR and his successor’s middle class America. Despite being successful in reversing the Great Depression, and winning the Cold War and World War II, a focussed and small, yet rich, opposition can finally look down on the Promised Land of its final ouster.

For a while, people won’t notice because inertia will carry forward the Middle-class society for a while. But it won’t last.

First, Bush’s re-election and the GOP’s continued control of Congress and the Courts will allow Preisdent Bush to institute his “Ownership Society.” Social security will be privatized. Pension plans will all be converted to 401(k) style plans. There will be no tax on capital gains. Labor unions will mostly cease to exist. Things unimaginable will be privatized (did you ever imagine a privatized military like that in Iraq?).

Instead of the so-called Nanny state trying to prevent racial animus, old-age poverty, and provide education and health care in line with the rest of the industrialized world, the Sibling-Rivalry state will tell you to put it all in the stock market and use the earnings to pay for private schools, retirement, trash service, health care, and private toll highways.

And it’s quite possible that this will work–at first, anyway. In fact, it will probably be wildly successful and popular at the outset. Because just like in the 1990s, when low interest rates dramatically raised the amount of captial avaiable for the markets, the Ownership Society will likewise cause a capital glut; and the Fed is unlikely to tame the impending bubble.

Just like the last time, and the time before, and the time before that, it won’t be until the bubble bursts that people wonder what hit them and why. The fallout will be the end of the middle class as we know it, and, as a result, America as we know it.

When the financial plight of a large portion of any society dramatically plummets, that society becomes unstable and predicting what comes next is very difficult. There was never a power so rich, with such a destructive arsenal to undergo such a meltdown. The Soviet Union was close, but its people were used to suffering, not to our spoiled by comparison way of life.

All of the debates we have now about health care, education, the environment, etc. will be mooted when the fallout from Bush’s reforms begin to pollute the air.

In a twisted, delusional leap of bizzaro-egalitarianism, we will all pretend that we are capable of enjoying the benefits of massive wealth, even when the goal is illusory for most. Yes, it appears envy, avarice, and myopia will be the sins that undo us, when everyone was expecting pride. It will be long after President Bush leaves office that this process begins, but when the day comes there will no doubt be a deep regret an any sighting of a “Don’t Blame Me — I voted for Kerry” bumpersticker.

Because we can’t accept that not all of us can be millionaires, not all of us can tolerate the risks of the stock market, and not all of us can keep up with Joneses, very few of us will.

A Return to Gilded Age Social Darwinism

Despite clever “message structuring” and the occasional defeat the over-riding objective of post-Reagan Revolution Republicans has been to cancel the progressive economic reforms of the twentieth century. In “What’s the Matter With Kansas” Thomas Frank argues that the reforms of the 60s and 30s have already largely been eroded and that by creating a flat tax the reforms of the 10’s will be undone as well. After all of the tax cutting for the wealthy balloons the defecit then Social Security will default at around 2012 when many of the Baby Boomer generation retire and suddenly, for all intents and purposes, in terms of the economic climate, it will be 1888 again.

The social side of this transformation was revealed at the Republican National Convention when Arnold Schwarzenegger derided people who are unsatisfied with America’s lethargic economy for being “economic girlie men.” By implication, those who are having difficulty making ends meet these days are not decent folk doing their best to get by, but weak, damaged losers who do not have what it takes to prosper in the land of opportunity. Schwarzenneger’s “economic girlie men” derision is the most direct statement of the Gilded Age style Social Darwinism that the Republicans want to return to. That the enver popular actor-turned-governor made this statement is also telling, for this social structure only works if the masses of the new poor can be convinced that the social order is cool and that the wealthy are wealthy because of their skill and good looks, not nepotism.

Polls indicate that a majority of Americans favor the repeal of the estate tax (Or “Death Tax” as the conservatron messege-spinsters have dubbed it) even though it only effects a fraction of the very wealthy because they are convinced that they, one day, will be amongst that elite two tenths of one percent of the populations and when they are they do not want the Fed taking their money.

The Genesis of the progressive reforms of the twnetieth century were poor farmers who, despite their ethic of self-reliance, realized that they had to organize and use their power to fight interests that were too large for them to fight as individuals. The government was alread big back then. All that the progressives accomplished was to make government big for both railroads and for typical citizens. When government becomes big only for vested interests once again will hard working, proud, independent Americans band togehter to take on forces that are too big for them to face alone, or well they be so mesmerized by the one in five hundered thousand successes of athletes, rappers, lottery winners and other modern Horatio Alger characters and so bothered by the spectre of abortion and gay marriange that they will not want to be “economic girlie men” by demanding a better lot in life?

Worth quoting fully…

From Altercation:

Name: Tim Kane

Hometown: St.Louis

A Game Theory Review of the Neocon/Isreal problem is most disturbing:

The overlooked and most troubling aspect of the Israeli/Neocon phenomena is

the fact that Neocons benefit from extremism. Moderation and rational

policies are going down the tubes in a self feeding frenzy of extremism begeting

the need for more extreme policies untill we end up in tyranny. And

extremists on both sides cooperate to keep extremism going at the expense of


All of this is best understood through the eyes of Game Theory:

Most lay people were introduced to Game Theory by the movie “A Beautiful

Mind,” a story about the mathematician John Nash who’s work provided proofs for

certain aspects of Game Theory. The major concept behind Game Theory is

explained in simple language in a seminal work titled “The Evolution of

Cooperation” by Robert Axelrod, an economist at University of Michigan.

Axelrod asks, then answers, the question, “When (under what conditions) does it

pay cooperate?” In short cooperation is a rational response when two

egoist (parties) are in a prolonged game (relationship) with an indeterminable


Axelrod demonstrates that cooperation will often break out (and is a

rational response) under these conditions between two parties, even when they do

not communicate, even when they are hostile to each other, even between species

in nature. Using a simple game scenario, he then asks the question, “What

is the second best strategy to cooperation under these conditions?” The

answer is the similarly simple “tit-for-tat” strategy which often will lead

parties back to cooperation. Another and very important finding is that if

one knows that a game will end (that is if one can foresee the game ending, even

if it is many moves from now) it pays to stop cooperating immediately.

Those who see their end coming are thus likely to be the first to end

cooperation. (It is important to point out that Game Theory explains much

about human behavior, but not all, ideology and belief systems can alter

otherwise rational responses).

Game theory explains a lot. It explains why I can trust my grocer, or the person who cuts my hair, or a neighbor to not cheat me, but why I have to be guarded about someone selling me a used car: ongoing relationships encourage civility and cooperation, short term relations don’t. It explains why religion can cause persons who might otherwise not be virtuous to be virtuous: relationships between each other and between the self and God don’t end at death, without a determinable end, the rational reaction is to be civil, cooperative and virtuous. It explains why term limits have spawned animosity in my state of Missouri’s state politics: All politicians know that there is a future determinable end to their relationship in the

legislature, so their is little reason to cooperate.

Game Theory also explains why Mutually Assured destruction theory in the cold war facilitated detente: Since neither party could prevail against the other party, and both parties rationally pursued survival, it meant that both parties would be in a

continuous relationship with an indeterminable end -thus bringing about

cooperation and a lessoning of tensions. Game Theory also explains the

animus of domestic politics characterized by the neocon movement:

(Perhaps) they saw their (near) end (extermination) in the 1964 election –

facing termination they abandoned civility (cooperation) in political discourse

and started playing an extremist game of elimination or hegemony over their

opponent (a hallmark of arriving at this point is when one suddenly

characterizes the enemy as Evil [singnaling a desire to terminate] [as Grover

Norquist has of the Democrats], and reacts by going into a fundamentalist world


Game Theory also explains why hostility breaks out or can’t be solved:

In the Israel/Palestine situation – events are being driven by extremists

(meaning end game strategists) that want to eliminate the other party. In

fact extremist on both sides seem to be cooperating to eliminate moderates, as

when an extremist Israeli Jew killed Prime Minster Rabin. Worse, in the

Israeli/Palestine situation we get little to no news on the active efforts there

towards nonviolent, civil disobedience and moderate efforts at peace that are

currently going on both sides (following the Gandhi/Martin Luther King model for

peaceful nonviolent change). There are sizable numbers, if not majorities,

on both sides that seek a rational Game Theory accommodation, sizable because

this is a rational approach to the conditions there. The lack of news

coverage of the nonviolent civil disobedience movement there implies that

extremists are emplaced in the establishment, blocking awareness: nonviolent

civil disobedience’s power is the appeal to a broad, almost universal,

collective conscience. If it is denied publicity it cannot succeed –

condemning the participants to a bloody “tit-for-tat” outcome.

The most

frightening thing is that extremism is in Bush’s best interest – as demonstrated

by Cheney’s “Vote Bush or Die” platform. We see now that Putin is leaning

towards this same position. Create war to generate job security. It

seems there are no reasonable problems to deal with real issues today.

Just a fanning of the flames of extremism. Most troubling – nothing for

the white rabbit to do but run and hide in a very deep hole and pray for rain to

put the flames out.

The Mother of all Flip-Flops

At first, I was startled that Bush was giving what seemed to be an honest assessment: we cannot win the war on terrorism. Even if we construe that to mean what it really means–a geopolitical “warm” war between secular western technocracies and reactionary Islamic jihadists–it could not be won militarily absent the greatest genocide in recorded history.

Bush’s mistake was that he framed this “war on terror” as something that could occupy his entire eight-year term, thinking it would be a political capital ATM, when instead its very vagueness has rendered it a road with no mile markers, except for the capture of Osama bin Laden. If he had simply said, “We will destroy al-qaeda” he could have made history as fighting a not-hot, yet not-cold “warm” war against non-state terrorist groups that could have defined 21st century American triumphalism.

Instead, Bush followed a Victorian-era riff of imperialism. And why not? This isn’t really about defeating terrorism. When was the last time we concerned ourselves with Preuvian terrorists, or even the goings on in Central America, much less Africa?

No, even if this isn’t directly about oil, it’s only about terrorism near oil.

But instead, Bush engaged in the mother of all flip flops (“MOAFF-2004”). He declared today, that we will win the war on terror. Even the John Kerry of the imagination of late-night comics never made anything to compare with the MOAFF.

But, snickering a haw-haw I told you so, and he does it too isn’t going to do any good in a double-standard media world. (Where the outing of a New Jersey governor dominates several news cycles, and the gay-sex-chat of a homophoic bornagain congressman makes no headlines.)

There are two places we can be in, say, 2030. The democratic nations of the world, having rejected the use of fossil fuels, are mainly engaged in suppressing environmental security threats–such as the illegal importation of oil by developping nations–and other non-military destabilizing forces like poverty, water-scarcity, and ethnic strife. Or … we can be living in a time when the twentieth century is looked back upon as a Gold Age that frittered away in a Gilded one, where two different non-state actors, corporations and terrorists, war against each other.

Is Iraq The End of Globalization?

I’ve never been able to fully commit myself to either a pro- or anti-globalization position. On the one hand, I find it hard to believe that we will ever return to an era of isolationsim, and I do believe that trade can open up societies. On the other hand, you don’t have to look very far to see the negative consequences at home or abroad. Plus, any free-trade regime inevitably drifts toward oligopoly, in a sort of Aristotelian way (ie the way pure democracies become oligarchies etc.)

So, in the end, I come down supporting “fair trade” or some variation of it, whereby we keep the trade but have the kinds of international institutions that we have in the US. To the industry side, this is the same as isolationism, because it denies the benefit of multinational status: limited regulation

But, one of the unofficial “institutions” that has had to enforce trade arrangments, formal or informal, has been the US military. Protest all you want, but the only reason Iraq is on our radar, the only reason that Islamists might target us, is because of our history of exploitation in that region, which is, at least over the last 100 years or so, been connected with oil (as opposed to slavery before).

And to be sure, once we’re done fighting over oil, we’ll find something else… water maybe, to fight over, so long as there is a growing population in a limited and ever more used-up world.

But, given the present situation, there will probably have to be another 9/11 level event with a clear source to get the US politically ready to mobilize for another trade-poicing action again.

Given that, I ask, is the Iraq situation the end of globalization? Is it (if Viet Nam wasn’t) the end of American exceptionalism?

Willie Horton Was Real; SBVFT Aren't

Michael Dukakis, perhaps the Jove of the 20th century pantheon of Democratic losers, didn’t think he had to reply to Bush’s Willie Horton ad. He could have pointed out, for example, the furlough program that the federal government had used. He could have pointed out a dozen other ugly things about Bush, and, in the end he might have preserved his 20 point lead. But, he was a douche. Just like Mondale, just like Gore, just like McGovern… and the rest of the crew up on Loserlympus.

The image of a [fnord] black [fnord] felon [fnord] getting out of prison to desecrate your milky-white daughter was enough to forget Iran-Contra, the “Wimp,” the deficits, and Black Monday.

The thing is, whether or not that should have been, anyone with a brain knows that that kind of image would terrify white America. It was an effective, if dirty and racist, ad.

John Kerry is a different kind of Democrat. First of all, he has some balls. He’s killed people within a small radius of himself. I think the last Democratic presidential candidate to have done that was … ok, I’ll ask KenJen from Jeopardy, but I’d guess you’d have to go back a ways. (Submariners and air force pilots don’t count. I’m talking shooting someone with a gun). Well, ok, besides Vernon Jordan, if you’re a Republican.

In fact, I think Kerry baited the Republicans into attacking his Viet Nam record — how could he lose as long as anyone was smart enough to compare Bush’s [lack of[ service? They took the bait. And now Bush is, I daresay, flip-flopping on his response to the ads.

Above all else, these ads are simply untrue. Kerry saved that guy. Kerry had war wounds. End of story.

Apparently people agree. Look at the latest Zogby poll. If the election was held today, Kerry wins in a landslide.

Restore the Hetch-Hetchy.

The Sacramento Bee, which is quickly becoming my favorite paper for all things California, starts a series today on restoring the Hetch-Hetchy valley. (Depending on how you look at it, Hetch-Hetchy is either the other Yosemite valley, or San Francisco’s Mono Lake.)

I’ve been interested in this cause since I was younger than 10. It makes sense on many levels, and it may actually be reality one day. It may not even signify a single step towards a saner water policy in the west, but it at least remedies one of the ill-effects of the myopic decision to abandon the riparian system. (Too much water in Hetch-Hetchy, water at all in the Central Valley, no water in the Owens Valley, and the existence of Los Angeles are some of the bizarre effects of this policy.)

Update: This article was actually posted yesterday. The next in the series should be next Sunday.

EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it! NEWS NEWS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – One-third of President Bush (news – web sites)’s tax cuts have gone to the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans, shifting more burden to middle-income taxpayers, congressional analysts said on Friday.

Gee, I was just waiting for someone to announce this, since I had no idea.

Time to worry.

I think Kerry’s strategy of sitting back and let Bush screw up is going to start costing him in the coming weeks. I’ve seen encouraging polls from Florida and Michigan today, but I can’t help but freak out a little bit. It’s looking too good and there’s still too much time left.

The Bush attack machine is getting traction on Kerry’s war record. Stupid, yes, but they are.

I’m going to predict this: we’re close to tied after the RNC, and the debates better do some good for Kerry in Florida (I don’t see how Bush can win without Florida and Ohio).

Fed Hike: Call me "Stunned in San Luis"

Back in the days when you had to wear a tin-foil hat, hang out with Ayn Rand, and despair at the over-regulated ways of the Hoover administration, it was considered mainstream to believe in the twin pillars of the Fed: price stability and full employment.

Now, of course, every economist looking to make his name post-Keynes has developed more and more Ptolemaic gobbeldygook that has old Occam, rolling in his grave, despairing that his razor can’t be used to kill him again. And a big part of that theory is that full employment is really secondary, after all, to inflation control.

Because if you’re on the side of capital (as all supply siders are) you don’t want your capital to bleed away into oblivion. And, ahem, the richer the capitalists, the more money there is to trickle down, if only we could quit paying those silly taxes!

Of course all of that is nonsense, and none of the economic models that these ideas are founded on hold up to the data without above-said Occam-sickening epicycles.

Eventually we are just going to have to realize that we have to pay for some things. If we don’t want full employment, then we have to have a Euro style safety net. Otherwise, America will be a sewer.

That said, I haven’t seen him in a tinfoil hat lately but I know that he hung around in [sic] Ayn Rand, and I have seen Hoover restored in him: Alan Greenspan. The pure insanity of yesterday’s rate hike has me stunned here at home in San Luis Obispo.

Of course, not doing it after he had signalled he would would have made it clear that this is no soft patch, and probably cancelled irrevocably Hoover II’s second term (oopse, I mean Bush II).

Nader's Prophecy Comes True For Everyone – Except Nade

When he was not asserting that there is no difference between Al Gore and George W. Bush during the 2000 Presidential election, Ralph Nader presaged the radicalism of a Bush presidency by arguing that it would unite progressives and this would be a benefit of a Gore loss.

Now, almost four years later, it is safe to say that Mr. Nader was correct. Progressive groups that did not even prominently operate in 2000 like Americans Coming Together and are making Herculean efforts in the 2004 elections on behalf of John. Michael Moore is backing Kerry, even a non-progressive like Howard Stern is on the bandwagon. From environmentalists to union members, from Hollywood to to the Bronx, from veterans to hippies everyone is lining up behind John Kerry to end the Bush (P)residency.

Everyone, that is, except for Mr. Nader who is engaging in another foolhardy presidential campaign that will, at best make the 2004 campaign too close to call (but close enough to steal), and at worst will guarantee that Mr. Bush, who embodies the antithesis of everything that Mr. Nader believes in, will be able to extend his occupation of the White House. That Mr. Nader needs Republican support to get him on any ballot should tell him all he needs to know about his candidacy. It is time for Mr. Nader to admit that he was right and do all that he can to make sure that George Bush loses this election – that is, he should be doing nothing.

The Fractal Nature of Geofinance.

Benoit Mandelbrot, the author of the epoch-making The Fractal Nature of Geomerty, recently released a tome entitled The (Mis)Behavior of Markets: A Fractal View of Risk, Ruin, and Reward.

This book challenges some of the first principles of economics and finance that underpin modern theory. If you’re a finance or a math geek, this book is for you. But there are also radical implications for politics contained in these shifts of the postualtes of financial theory.

Over the coming weeks, I will explore some of these implications including:

  • How we finance the national debt
  • Social security
  • Regulation of corporations and the security markets
  • Labor
  • The explosion of the efficient market theory and laissez-faire.
  • Globalization

I believe that this work will form the economic basis of a new progressive ideology, much the same way that “butterfly” economics have.

Stay tuned.

A Tie?


Bush: AK, ID, MT, WY, UT, AZ, CO, ND, SD, NE, KS, OK, TX, MO, AR, LA, IN, OH, KY, TN, MS, AL, WV, VA, NC, SC, GA, FL = 269 electoral votes.

Kerry: HI, WA, OR, CA, NV, NM, MN, IA, WI, IL, MI, PA, DC, MD, DE, NJ, CT, MA, RI, NY, VT, NH, ME = 269 electoral votes.

That’s a pretty plausible scenario. It’s 2000 with the updated 2004 electoral vote distribution, NH and NV to Kerry, where he has at times led in the polls.

Then it goes to the House, be delegation that would be 30-16 for Bush, unless there’s a big change. If the Senate swings Dem, John Edwards would be VP.

Imagine: a two term president with each term having an asterik next to it!

Justifying the internment.

Right-wing cunt-witch Michelle Mankin’s latest Coulteresque toilet-screed, In Defense of Internment, tries to defend the internment of the Japanese during WWII. She alleges that intercepts of Japanese messages were used to intern the Japanese, nevermind Generals claiming they couldn’t tell the good Japs from the bad, and Idaho governors demanding concentration camps for them, and Wyoming governors promising many a bended branch with hanging yellow man should concentration camps not be used–all of whom had no access to the Japanese intercepts.

(Wasn’t there something in the Right-Wing Bitching Guide® about “revisionist history?” Oh, I forgot–element one of the Right-Wing Bitching Guide® is that the standards contained herein do not apply to attacks from the Right.)

But to get lost in the historical inaccuracies of any toiletribe of this kind is to chase the stinkiest of red herrings. You do not destroy such a tapestry by pulling it apart thread by thread. You have to burn the whole damn thing.

This book is digging up old wounds under the shield of Anti-Politically-Correct Political Correctness and analogizing the evil liberal mistake to present times. Not only was it correct to intern them darn Japs, we should be using racial profiling against Arabs in the present day. Ah! Them libruls are week on terrur! The meme strikes again! Of course, anyone who doesn’t want to kill every Arab is “weak on terror.”

I could go on about the ineffectiveness of racial profiling, and the fact that ultimately, AQ will come up with terrorists of other nationalities (perhaps those Indonesians that bombed a night club?) , but why bother?

If it takes an analogy to the internment of the Japanese in WWII to justify Mankin’s solution to the war on terror, then she’s discredited the whole concept by doing so.

Another Failure on Terror

“We must understand that the kind of information available to us today is the result of the president’s leadership in the war against terror.”

-Tom Ridge Announcing a Terror Alert about possible attacks on New York City, Washington DC And Newark, New Jersey.
Is this terrorist alert in earnest? Or was it timed perfectly to scotch John Kerry’s post-convention momentum? No one can know for sure, but the fact that the question exists in most everyone’s mind and that Mr. Ridge has to defend his annoucement <

A Conservatron Pounces then he Bounces

Yesterday, on the HBO show Real Time with Bill Maher David Drier, the conservatron Congressman from California (who is, unfortunately, my former representative during my college years) duked it out with Michael Moore. In the middle of the fray was the former Prime Minister of Canada, whose name I do not remember. Their exchange, and Mr. Drier’s reaction to it, reveals what happens to conservatrons when they are thrust into a situation that has not been pre-choreographed to be advantageous towards them.

The fun began when Mr. Drier asserted that Mr. Moore’s notorious documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11, was based on “patently false information.”

“Have you seen the movie,” Mr. Moore asked.

“No,” Drier replied, and the apparently majority left-of-center audience howled in laughter.

Mr. Moore and Mr. Drier leaned towards each other and began hollering over each other as though they were in a Robert Altman movie as the former Canadian PM sat in silence between them.

Mr. Drier attempted to assert that one of the Congressmen, whom Michael Moore asked to volunteer his children for Iraq War II, apparently had a nephew who is serving. Simultaneously, to the delight of the crowd, Moore continuously asked Drier, “Would you send your child to Iraq?” Mr. Drier never answered.

Eventually Maher and the Canadian PM cut off the argument and segued into a conversation with Bill Owen, the Governor of Colorado who is being groomed as the next faux-moderate conservatron to run for President. Although Mr. Owen successfully parried Maher’s questions about why the GOP are keeping their demon piglet standard bearers like Tom Delay out of sight at the convention whereas the Democrats gave prominent speaking slots to Ted Kennedy, Al Sharpton and other liberals, his discomfort was evident in his shifting shoulders and uneasy smile. The sight of seeing a Conservatron cornered and taken to task was rare and seemed to have made Mr. Owen’s pulse rate rise.

The next segment of the show focused on the famous seven minutes of Bush sitting in a Florida elementary school classroom staring into the camera like a lost fawn after being told of the terrorist attacks. Mr. Drier tried to stick to the talking points about Bush not wanting to scare the children and deciding that he needed to project calm for the nation. The prescient arguments of Moore, Maher and the Canadian PM, however, had Mr. Drier tap dancing as though controlled by a puppeteer on meth: “He is the President; he is target number one, every second he stayed there he was endangering those children.” “Would you be calling Clinton a stern leader if he had stayed for seven minutes?” “He is the President; it is his job to know what to do in that situation.” Mr. Drier stuck hard to his pre-recorded script and then pleaded that the situation was too tough for anyone. But there was no out for him in that studio. Maher is more of a libertarian than a liberal, but he has a stand up comic’s BS-detector and he was not about to let Drier off the hook, Moore was obviously going to let him have it, the Canadian PM was not acerbic, but she was clearly unsympathetic, and the crowd was not on his side. By the end of the exchange, Mr. Drier’s face was flushed and he was visibly flustered.

Ralph Nader was the next guest, and after a hilarious scene where Moore and Maher got on their knees and begged him to exit the race, Maher finished the show with his “New Rules” segment. As the camera pulled away Drier’s seat was empty, and not even tucked in. Somewhere between Nader’s introduction and the of “New Rules,” he bounced.

What was refreshing about the exchange is that for once it was the conservatron who had to beat back the forthright rhetoric of several liberals. When most cable and radio talk shows are not featuring a group of conservatrons talking amongst themselves; they generally have a lone liberal put into the position that Mr. Drier found himself in. If it is a one-on-one tet-a-tet then the moderator will never press either side on their argument. It is very easy to deal with the media for a Republican, all you have to do is memorize your talking points, say them and let the echo-chamber repeat them. It is too much to say that Drier cracked or in anyway made a fool of himself. His argument that Mr. Bush was being assuring and resolute by staring blankly into a camera during one of America’s darkest hours was, however, revealed as the nonsense that it is, and Mr. Drier’s flush face and subsequent retreat was proof positive that Conservatrons have to sweat when they are forced off their game.


Why does “libertarian” really mean conservative who’s too brainy and elite to watch NASCAR? If I said I was a lower-case “green” would anyone take that to mean a left-wing environmentalist that doesn’t eat organic foods?

Forget the drug "war"; win a battle first.

From the immigrant neighborhoods of Hawaii, to the rural states of the Mississippi heartland, there is a scourge besetting America, especially it’s lower middle Class areas: methamphetamines.

Of course, America has been at war with drugs for decades, and the problem has only gotten worse. Years of racist sentencing laws, spy-on-your-family Gestapo tactics, and almost incomprehensible failure to understand the pressures of child- and adolescenthood combined with an obscene failure to communicate with our kids have netted nothing and given up much. How many billions are spent each year imprisoning non-violent drug offenders? how many familes riven by the prison sentences?

Before 9/11, an agitprop campaign against ecstacy—legal in the overregulated UK until 1985—began as its use spread. Shortly after 9/11, around the 2002 Super Bowl, the inevitable conflation of drug use and terror began from the ONDCP.

Yes, as long as it’s “illegal” (read: used for pleasure) a drug must be dangerous and supportive of terrorists. Bullshit.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t dangerous illegal drugs. Heroin. Cocaine or Crack. Methamphetamine in any form. These drugs can turn you into a wraith, destroy your moral compas and your life; yet to our drug warriors, there is no difference between these killers (and nicotene for that matter) and marijuana.

Terrorists have never devised a scheme so ruthless and destructive as the pox on our house that is methamphetamines. Spend an hour anywhere near a courthouse and you’ll know what I mean. And the fact that the nation’s anti-drug energies are spent at all on a few teenagers smoking joints, or a few upper-middle class college kids at raves is sickening.

You can pretty much count on market forces and geography to keep heroin and cocaine expensive and limited; but meth is made from household ingredients, and requires none of the exotic ingredients of heroin, nor the chemistry-skill of ecstasy. Marijuana, as study after study reveals, is benign and would be a welcome replacement for alcohol and nicotene.

This is not to dismiss the problem of crack in inner-cities; it is equally as threatening. However, because, again, of the narrow channels of its originating ingredient, police should be able to enforce crackdowns on the supply.

But what do we do about this? I don’t know. I’m not a drug policy maker. I’m not in law enforcement. I just know that the people that might know the answer, or who are capable of coming up with one, are too busy figuring out how to bust Tommy Chong.

Forget the drug war, we lost that one. Try fighting a small focussed battle that might be winnable, or at least do some good first.

And so it begins

[Again my apologies for the meta-blogging, but this is just an exemplar]

Over on DailyKos reactions to Kerry’s speech are mixed. Far from the politically-savvy crowd that can be present on dkos, this crowd was pissed that there wasn’t enough of the right kind of class warfare…

Katrina van den Heuvel at of The Nation is also starting to show cracks in the Kerry coalition. The more assured Kerry’s victory is, the more this kind of commentator is going to be critical.

Republicans aren’t wrong to suggest that the base of the Democratic party is far to the left of Kerry’s speech. They’re just hypocritical, because Bush was far, far, far to the right of his own campaign rhetoric. However, the truth is, more real Democrats support a guy like Howard Dean and know that they have to accept this kind of dialog because of wishy-washy arrogant, superior whiny, demanding of cock-suckery “independents.” (ie those to whom both political parties are supposed to pander because they, despite their lack of interest the rest of the time, control elections in a two-party system)

But in our present situation, we aren’t faced with a choice between a centrist and a progressive like we might have been in 1952. We are faced with the most right wing president ever, and a centrist. In order to pave the way for a progressive movement of any kind, we have to restore sanity first. So, on behalf of Democrats everywhere, I would like to apologize to whiny constituencies in all wings of our party for our attempt to build a winning coalition (ie rebuild the Clinton coalition that abandoned the Democrats in 2000).

Howard Dean would have probably build a movement not unlike Barry Goldwater–but do we really have 16 years for a movement to come to fruition the way the conservatives did? How stupid were Democrats in 1968 to squabble when they could have had a debate within their party without giving up on everything else that was important to them. How stupid were they to nominate McGovern, Dukakis, and Mondale?

We’re supposed to be the educated ones aware of history, right? So let’s act like it. We need to get control first, and then have a debate within the governing party. This idea that we can only have ideologically pure candidates is fucking bullshit.

So, in the mode of Bill O’Reilly, shut the fuck up Katrina.

Will they get away with this one?

This article appeared in The New Republic four weeks ago:

A third source, an official who works under ISI’s director, Lieutenant General Ehsan ul-Haq, informed tnr that the Pakistanis “have been told at every level that apprehension or killing of HVTs before [the] election is [an] absolute must.” What’s more, this source claims that Bush administration officials have told their Pakistani counterparts they have a date in mind for announcing this achievement: “The last ten days of July deadline has been given repeatedly by visitors to Islamabad and during [ul-Haq’s] meetings in Washington.” Says McCormack: “I’m aware of no such comment.” But according to this ISI official, a White House aide told ul-Haq last spring that “it would be best if the arrest or killing of [any] HVT were announced on twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July”–the first three days of the Democratic National Convention in Boston.

And then this happens today.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) — Pakistan says it has captured a high-level al Qaeda suspect in a stand-off involving hundreds of police.

Fortunately, this didn’t spike Kerry’s speech, but the question remains: will they get away with it?

A Brief History of the Party Convention

All of the commentators who are dismissing this years party conventions as unimportant are ignorant  of the  of the party convention. Over 175 years the meaning of the conventions has changed, but it is normal for an institution to flux over the course of decades. Today the conventions are just as pertinent as they were 175 years ago.

The history of the party conventions is the history of the competing American tenets of Democracy and elitism writ small. In 1824 Universal Male Suffrage ended the political reign of land-owning disinterested (meaning, in today’s parlance, not belonging or beholden to an interest group} gentlemen, who previously comprised the government. In the place of disinterested gentleman were democrats who responded to a “call from the people” to take higher office, rather than an obtuse “calling” to reluctantly leave their property and lead for the good of the country.

By 1840 the elites came upon the convention system as a means to have greater control on the presidential selection process. Rather than putting their party support behind a candidate who had demonstrated his popularity with the public at large, the parties would hold a convention where they would select a candidate and then present him to the people with the full backing of the party’s organizational apparatus. To garner the backing of a party a candidate would have to develop relationships with key party leaders in each state rather than with the general citizenry.

After the progressive era reforms of the early twentieth century citizens had an increasing influence on the convention by having primaries where they could make their desires known. These primaries were not, however, absolutely binding. So the romanticized “smoky room” still largely determined who the candidates would be. Another important aspect of conventions was the determining of the party platform. This was done openly and it allowed an avenue for little know figures to influence the national party. The most compelling example of this occurred in the 1948 Democratic Convention when Hubert H. Humphrey, who was then the mayor of Minneapolis, made an impassioned speech for a strong civil rights plank. Mr. Humphrey’s speech succeeded in placing a civil right’s plank in the Democratic platform, launched his national career, and ultimately began the process of making Democrats the party of Civil Rights and Republicans the party of drugstore truck drivin’ men. Today, with the emphasis on “unity” in the conventions, it is unlikely that a lesser-known figure like Lincoln Chafee could make a speech at the Republican Convention that would lead to a reversal of their extraction-oriented environmental policy.

The birth of the modern Convention came in 1972 and 1976 when delegates began to be firmly appropriated according to the results of the primaries and caucuses. Now, the only way a convention could truly decide the presidentail and vice-presidential nominees is if the assigned delegates were split amongst several candidates and no one had a majority.

In their history conventions have transformed from a way to take the choice of presidential candidates out of the hands of “the people,” to being a place where party factions would argue out their differences, to being a rehearsed coronation of the people’s choice of their candidate. This does not mean that the conventions are not important. In 1992 the exuberant Democratic Convention and an excellent acceptance speech catapulted Bill Clinton past President Bush the First into a lead that he never relinquished. In 2000, Al Gore’s acceptance speech injected some mojo into his foundering campaign and helped him to a win that was stolen by the GOP putsch in Florida.

Critics kvetch about how the “packaged” quality of the convention, but they do not give enough credit to an American populace that has taken in countless commercials. Americans know that how a performance is packaged can be revealing. In 1992 the Republican Convention’s emphasis on “culture war” terrified many Americans, so in years since their conventions have turned into soft-focus minstrely shows. This year, the Republican’s ability to “package” their convention’s pomp with the patriotism of the third anniversary of 9/11 in manner that is not too obviously cynical and nauseating will have an important influence on the election.

The most important feature of the modern convention is that they are an event. Because they are an event, people watch them. That means that in this disengaged, short attention span era, they are the only chance that most Americans will get to hear ideas from their candidates that are more complicated than a five-second sound byte and more intelligent than the amorphous praise and venomous fnords of commercials. For the GOP this means that the conventions are just one more hollering voice in their media echo-chamber, but for Democrats the conventions are a once-every-four-years opportunity to get their message across essentially unmolested by the Conservatron Hate Machine. For that reason, Senator Kerry’s acceptance speech tonight, in midst of the most important election sicne 1860, will be the most pivotal moment of the party convention’s modern history.

Labor Reform

Sorry for the meta-blogging, but Kevin Drum raises an interesting issue about labor.

Labor is an important issue, but, this blogger believes that labor requires some serious 21st century reforms; not pro-industry reforms, but reforms nonetheless. I plan to make progressive labor reform a central issue in my future writings from Polemic.

Kevin talked about card-counting versus elections, under the Employee Free Choice Act. There are a lot of reasons why this is and isn’t a good idea, but this will probably only be received as a fradu-prone countermeasure to declining union membership.

I believe there are a lot of cases where collective bargaining is a positive thing, and some where it’s not. A great incentive for employers to accept unions would be to allow collectively bargained contracts to trump any provision of wage and hour law, or even any provision of any employment law. Leave the protections in place for unorganized workers, but let the union folks agree to whatever they want, but in exchange, ask for some agility in companies in return. It could work, but you’d have to leave old models behind. Unfortunately, the only reform models I’m aware of are either so sickeningly pro-industry or old-school that they don’t advance the issue at all.

If only it were somehow possible to unite shareholders and employees… (oh, wait! There is!)

The fact is this: there is a strong correlation between historical trends in real wages and union membership.

Genius idea.

My wife had a genius idea (spurred on by The Man’s speech tonight):

Change the 22nd amendment from 2 terms max to 2 terms, then a mandatory term off, then you can have two more. The term off provides the kind of check on a long, long term. And if the people want the guy back, why not?

Perhaps just nostalgic for Bill, but it sounds like a reasonable change to the Anti-FDR amendment.

An Important Convention

As usual whiny media Baby Boomers and their elders are lamenting the loss of the political convention as a dramatic spectacle that actually decided who the presidential nominee of a given party would be. Today, the conventions are truly no more than political infomercials and usually present little more than empty calories.

This is no ordinary time, however, the election of 2004 is the most important that America has faced since 1860 not because of what vision may be realized should Mr. Kerry win the election, but because of the terrifying dystopia that would result from another Bush conquest. This convention marks Senator Kerry’s best chance to present himself to undecided, or uncertain voters, and position himself for victory. If opinion polls are to be believed much of the electorate is uncertain about Mr. Kerry, but Mr. Bush’s failings have left them willing to give Mr. Kerry a once over, and this is an opportunity that previous challengers like Bob Dole and Walter Mondale were never afforded.

So, by all means, keep your eyes glued to the infomercial. Although it will do nothing to determine the Democratic Presidential nominee, it may help decide whether or not he becomes president. 

Liberal Porn Reviews

Farenheit 9/11 – This is the Long Dong Silver of Liberal Porn. It covers all the biggies except the environment: race, class, war, and corporations, but it does so in a way that’s compelling. It’s a well put together flick, that grabs ahold of you and doesn’t let go. Five Peace-sign dildos.

The Corporation – An ivory-tower psychological deconstruction of the corporation that touches on all of the usually Chomskyish attacks on the corporation: limited liability, no conscience, and externalities. I would have like to have seen some economic data on limited liability. I have never seen, from either side, any extensive study that confirms the proposition that limited liability benfits society by encouraging entrepreneurship. It’s just an accepted postulate of economics. This move is laden with liberal fnords, and it is just preaching to the choir. Two Peace-sign dildos.

The Hunting of the President – This movie starts out great. It has great interviews with important figures. But it seems to need to be twice as long; it seems to just stop at the end. I would have liked to have known more about the “vast right wing conspiracy.” Two Peace-sign dildos.

Outfoxed – This doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. Fox is run with an agenda; is anything but fair and balanced; and is anything but journalistic. The only thing that really adds any meat to this are internal Fox memoranda and interviews with ex-Fox employees. I got bored with this one, because, again it wasn’t shocking to me, and I had the feeling that, unlike F911 it has little chance of reaching the audience on whom it would have an effect. Three Peace-sign dildos.

Uncovered – Like Outfoxed, the audience for this movie is the choir and MoveOn is doing the preaching. Everything in this is to be found in the pages of the Washington Post or the New York Times, if you’re looking for it.  Two Peace-sign dildos.

All of these movies except F911 suffer from the same flaw: they are echo-chamber fnord flicks.  Until a slightly diet-cola version of one of these makes it onto Dateline, don’t expect many minds to change.

AP Strikes Again

The AP strikes again.  

Their speeches, designed to rouse Democrats for a tough campaign, are sure to bring comparisons between the aloof, wooden Kerry and forceful, charismatic Clintons.

At least they have apparently received permission to stop bashing Clinton.

Electoral College and the "new math"

“The race is still fundamentally tied, and the Electoral College map reflects that,” said Bush strategist Matthew Dowd. “But there is beginning to be a slight tilt toward us with Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri and Arizona no longer being seriously contested.”

…the AP reports.

Funny then that a July 10 Zogby poll shows Bush leading by only 2% in Arkansas, another Zogby poll on July 1o shows Tennessee tied at 48% each, and a July 20 Market Research Institute poll from July 20 shows Kerry leading in Missouri 46%-44%, and a July 18 ASU poll shows Kerry leading 42%-41% in Arizona.

None of that is a convincing win for either side. To say those starts are no longer being seriously contested implies that Bush has them locked up. The data do not support than contention.

Neither do they support the AP’s headline: Kerry Trails Bush in Electoral Votes.

The report goes on to add, ominously, that:

Of the states won by Gore, Pennsylvania is by far Bush’s top target. The president has spent millions of dollars in the state on commercials and has visited it more than any other contested state — 30 trips since his inauguration.

For Kerry, losing Pennsylvania would create a virtually insurmountable electoral vote gap.

Of course, a July 21 LA Times poll shows Kerry with a 10 point lead there. If you follow the actual recent polls, the loss of PA still leaves Kerry in the win column. And this is all pre-convention, with most of the undecideds likely to break to the challenger. Nice spin by the Bush people.

Clinton said in his book that he wished that the survey data showing his giant lead in October 1996 hand’t come out, and that he feels that probably cost him the 50% lead he wanted. Spinning it that way, this could be just what Kerry wants: his supporters to continue to feel a sense of urgency. As for me, I’m tired of bullshit from the media.

Kristof & Environmentalism

From the NYT today (Kristof):  

Yet the environmental movement is wrong to emphasize preservation for the sake of the wolves and the moose alone. We should preserve wilderness for our sake – to remind us of our scale on this planet, to humble us, to soothe us. Nothing so civilizes humans as the wild.

This has to be the environmental theory of a new progressive ideology. While E. O. Wilson and others have shown the delicate web woven by evolution and how we depend on other species for the biosphere we live in, this will never come to pass unless people understand that it is as much for our sake as for the sake of the owls, the whales, or the wolves that we are preserving the Earth. Man may not be the measure of all things, but for most voters that is their measure.

We need these species and they need their habitat; it’s tantamount to farmland. Without it, the web of life cannot persist, and we will not be able to grow food. It’s really that simple.

Of course environmentalism is not ab ovo a progressive or left-wing movement. It requries the consolidation of property and the limiting of resources, especially for the working class. Of course, in the last 40 years, environmentalism has replaced labor as perhaps the most identifiable lefty proposition. That has more to do with the who and not the how or the why. So, in some sense, it’s difficult to work out a theory that doesn’t undo or limit the basis of underclass prosperity.

The place to start, however, is to figure out, like the quote above, how to relate it to the benefit of man, and not man versus wolf.


Sometimes we have some good ideas and discussions that we’d like to get down quickly, and out there. We evolved the Polemic design after experimenting with blogging, but this new interface is so slick and simple that it’s impossible to say no to.