David Kirkpatrick

January 31, 2008

Another take on US torture

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:35 pm

Here’s more on Attorney General Michael Mukasey’s testimony yesterday before the Senate Judiciary Committee from Scott Horton writing at Harper’s. It’s a great dissection from a legal philosophy bent.

From the article:

Watching Mukasey was a painful experience. What the public hoped for with his appointment was simple enough: that someone would occupy the office of attorney general who possessed integrity, common sense, independence and the basic skills that accompany a sound legal mind. The essence of what a lawyer owes his client is independent professional judgment.

Elihu Root, a close friend of Theodore Roosevelt’s and one of the titans of the New York Bar, put it bluntly and in terms that could not be better suited to the current predicament. “About half of the practice of a decent lawyer is telling would-be clients that they are damn fools and should stop.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee put Michael Mukasey to the test yesterday. And he left the hearing room as an embarrassment to those who have known and worked with him over the last twenty years, and who mistakenly touted his independence and commitment to do the right thing, come what may. On the other hand, Vice President Cheney, the principal author of the torture system, must be elated and relieved. Indeed, Cheney’s lawyer Shannen Coffin rushed to National Review Online to give Mukasey’s performance an enthusiastic seal of approval. Mukasey flunked the simple test that Elihu Root posed for all lawyers: he doesn’t have the gumption to tell the president that his torture program is unlawful and needs to be shutdown. Moreover, he’s fully bought in to the cover-up.

From all accounts Mukasey, as described above, was considered an independent and strong legal intellect. The equivocation over torture coming time and again from various members of the Bush 43 administration, and now Mukasey, makes you start to wonder what exactly they now know.

It’s an old dodge to get someone into a difficult position by allowing them information that must be kept secret or their head might be served up on a platter as well.

If this subject if of any interest to you I heartily recommend reading the entire article linked at the beginning of the post. Let’s just say Horton sums things up with, by all appearances the current US stance on torture is it’s fine when we do it, bad when other countries do it. Comically playground-style reasoning, but very depressing since it seems to be current US policy.

Another (?!) Fed rate cut

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:16 pm

I didn’t get to this yesterday, and still find it more than a bit odd and very disconcerting from an economics perspective. The Federal Reserve cut the Fed funds rate by a half point dropping the rate to three percent.

This was the second cut in eight days with a three quarter point cut last week. Even though this latest cut was somewhat expected the move strikes me as desperate, and maybe even a bit reckless, market manipulation. Basically the Fed is telling everyone it didn’t trust last week’s pretty drastic move to percolate and do its job.

The rationale is policymakers are worried about housing and jobs and indicated there could be future cuts. From an economic perspective I like to see the market largely sort itself out through difficult times, and certainly be given time to react to a strong move like last week’s cut.

This cut, barely a week later, gives me a certain amount of pause and makes me wonder what the Fed knows, fears to the point of this move, and hopes to forestall.

Here’s some numbers from the AP article linked above:

The benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell 17/32 to 104 8/32 with a yield of 3.73 percent, up from 3.68 percent late Tuesday. Prices and yields move in opposite directions.

The 30-year long bond lost 1 14/32 to 109 6/32 with a yield of 4.39 percent, up from 4.36 percent late Tuesday.

The 2-year note dropped 1/32 to 99 21/32 with a 2.29 percent yield, unchanged from Tuesday.

The Fed has reduced rates by 2.25 percentage points since September when financial markets began seizing up in response to the subprime mortgage crisis.

More Clinton misinformation

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:05 am

You know that meme going around? The conventional wisdom being repeated all across every type of media that Latinos won’t support black candidates? Hold your horses — it might not be correct. In fact it may merely be an ongoing spin fabricated in the bowels of the Clinton campaign.

The above link goes to a Gregory Rodriguez Los Angeles Times column. Rodriguez cites hard numbers showing Latino voters having no qualms supporting black politicians. He goes on to break down how Clinton’s campaign could even inject the idea into the media.

From the column:

So, given all this evidence, why did this notion get repeated so nonchalantly? For one, despite the focus on demographic changes in America, journalists’ ignorance of the aspirations of Latino America is pretty remarkable. They just don’t know much about the biggest minority in the nation. And two, no Latino organizations function in the way that, say, the Anti-Defamation League does for Jewish Americans. In other words, you can pretty much say whatever you want about Latinos without suffering any political repercussions.

This political strategy of the Clinton camp might have longer legs than just this campaign if Rodriguez is correct.

He writes:

But the social costs of the Clintons’ strategy might end up being higher than the country is willing to pay. According to Stanford Law professor Richard Thompson Ford, who just published “The Race Card: How Bluffing About Bias Makes Race Relations Worse,” such political stunts can be “self-fulfilling prophecies.”

“It could make black voters more hostile to Latinos,” he said. “And Latinos who hear it might think that they somehow ought to be at odds with blacks. These kinds of statements generate interracial tensions.”

(Hat tip: Daily Kos)

January 30, 2008

The US and torture

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:33 pm

This post from TPM Muckraker does a nice job of illustrating just exactly where the United States stands vis-a-vis torture.

This subject is a part of a dark period in US policy following 9/11, and will possibly stand as the true legacy of the Bush 43 regime. John Negroponte, the former Director of National Intelligence, has already gone on the record admitting we did utilize the torture technique of waterboarding.


McCain playing (and winning) political poker?

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:39 pm

More teeth gnashing from the right after McCain’s decisive victory in Florida. The Corner is resorting to getting lucky/beating all odds poker analogies to explain the senator’s status as likely GOP nominee.

From the post by Rich Lowry:

… McCain is close to the presumptive nominee GOP nominee without having won self-identified Republican voters anywhere. What an extraordinary—and utterly unlikely—path to the nomination. Presumably, with his front-runner status enhanced, McCain will now begin to win self-identified Republicans, but he has pulled the political equivalent of an inside-straight to get here.

For those a bit poker lingo challenged, here’s a description of pulling an inside straight.

And then there were two

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 8:33 am

In something of a surprise John Edwards is dropping out of the Democratic presidential nomination race.

He pulled only 14% of the vote in the meaningless Florida primary yesterday (meaningless because the state was stripped of its delegates for holding the primary too early) and hasn’t really threatened Obama or Clinton.  Even though he failed to win any primaries, he has garnered delegates — 26 compared to Clinton’s 48 and Obama’s 63 (according to CNN.com).

It will be interesting to see what his next move will be and who, if anyone, he throws his support behind. It’s been widely speculated which of the two front-running candidates would most benefit if Edwards left the race. Looks like we’ll all find out on Tsunami Tuesday next week.

“Paper” — a work of short fiction

Filed under: Arts, Media — Tags: , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 8:00 am

Following is a piece of short fiction. I originally posted this to my website davidkirkpatrick.com January 17, 2002.

Here’s how I introduced the story then:

“Paper” was written after the stumble, but before the fall of the new economy. Its theme fits nicely with today’s cautionary stock market news, headlined by Enron’s troubles.

What is interesting is how this short bit of dialog was written to reflect the tech crash and how many people ended up overextended with paper, rather than liquid, assets. In some ways it’s even more apropos today with the ongoing mortgage crisis.

Without further adieu, the story …



By David Kirkpatrick

“You making any money on the market?” A. asked.

“Nothing spectacular. I’m in for the long haul. I make it a personal rule to not even take a peek anytime the Dow drops over 200 points. How about yourself?”

“Took an absolute bath at the end of last week, but it did get me to move a large chunk out of techs. I’m starting to see the value in the long haul myself,” said A. He waved his nearly empty scotch glass in the bartender’s direction and received a nod in return.

“Techs are wild. The best story I know from last week’s little correction comes from a tech stock. An acquaintance of mine works for a B2B software firm. Not a dotcom, but still overvalued. When they IPOed last year, her stake in the company made her an instant millionaire, one point or two point something or other. Fourth quarter they announced a growth rate way over the projections and she doubled her wealth overnight.

“Around the same time the company moved her out to the valley to the main headquarters. She went to California and her equity finally reached about six million with all signs pointing to doubling within the year.

“And I can see why she would take all this information and feel good about it–everything was simply going up and up. Her paper, the earnings, everything….”

“I see something bad coming here,” said A.


January 29, 2008

GOP Florida roundup

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 9:51 pm

McCain wins the Sunshine State and all 57 awarded delegates. He is in the GOP driver seat heading into Tsunami Tuesday. Giuliani avoided a fourth place finish, but his vote combined with Huckabee’s didn’t match Romney’s second place total.

The final figures (taken from CNN.com — 99% reporting):

  • McCain            36%     693,323
  • Romney           31%     598,083
  • Giuliani            15%     281,744
  • Huckabee        14%     259,651

Ron Paul managed a very distant fifth with three percent of the vote. It looks like a two man race for the Republican nomination from here on out considering the margin between second and third place coupled with Rudy and Huckabee’s money problems.

Update: It looks like the right leaning blogosphere is already giving the nomination to McCain. Mostly grudgingly.

Update pt. 2: Make that very grudgingly, particularly at the Corner, Ace of Spades, Power Line and Hugh Hewitt’s Town Hall. Captain’s Quarters is a bit more circumspect. And rumors of Rudy leaving the race look like they will come true as soon as tomorrow followed by a McCain endorsement from the ex-NYC mayor.

Bill Richardson pondering Dem endorsement

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:51 pm

The New Mexico governor, and one time Democratic presidential candidate, is deciding whether to go public with an endorsement, or not. He says if he does endorse either Clinton or Obama it’ll come by the end of this week.

His stamp of approval is highly sought by both candidates.

From the article:

As the highest-ranking Hispanic in the Democratic Party, Richardson’s endorsement is being aggressively sought by the Clinton and Obama campaigns. California, Colorado, Arizona, Utah and New Mexico are among the 22 states voting next week, and each have sizable Hispanic electorates. Richardson, who cruised to re-election as New Mexico governor in 2006, is a popular figure in the Hispanic community.

(Find an update here.)

Pipe’n n bloggin’

Filed under: et.al. — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:21 pm

Spent part of this afternoon relaxing with a nice bowl of Peter Stokkebye’s Luxury Twist Flake and reading some fun pipe blogs like A Passion for Pipes and Pipe Lore.

Luxury Twist Flake is about as topped as I can handle pipe tobacco (that is, not very much) but is a solid Virginia and a great example of a lightly flavored Danish blend. I actually prefer Stokkebye’s Bullseye Flake, but the Twist Flake is a nice change of my usual pace.

I had this bowl in the first pipe I ever bought — a no-name black, rusticated lovat stamped “Made in London, England.” Probably a second (or third) from one of the known British brands and it’s been a great smoker for many, many years. The Twist Flake went in that pipe because of the topping. Years ago, like most beginning pipe smokers, I exclusively bought a heavily cased aromatic blend.

These days I’m much more partial to straight Virginias, Virginia/perique blends and various latakia and oriental blends.

Fake gecko feet

Filed under: Science, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:40 pm

This a cool development. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, created an adhesive that mimics the easy attach and easy release of gecko foot pads. The material is said to be ideal for hanging posters, but I’m guessing there will be many uses to come out of this tech.

From the release:

Unlike duct tape or glue, the new material is crafted from millions of tiny, hard, plastic fibers that establish grip; a mere square two centimeters on a side can support 400 grams (close to a pound). While tape sticks when it presses onto a surface, the new adhesive sticks as it slides on a surface and releases as it lifts — this is the trick behind a gecko’s speedy vertical escapes.

The study appeared in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

Obama making gains in Cali

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:52 pm

Interesting Dem poll numbers and analysis from California. These results show the Clinton lead is much more narrow than previously thought (down to 11 points from what some polls had in the 20 point range.)

Maybe even more interesting is Obama is beginning to get a real bounce from the South Carolina blowout, and analysis of the raw poll numbers point to the race being more close than even 11%.

(Hat tip: the Daily Dish)

Spysat reentry

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:55 pm

Yowza. A US spy satellite is coming home the hard way in February or March. What makes this event exciting (not the good type of exciting) is we’ve lost control over the craft so it can’t be guided safely into the ocean.

The real trick is satellites don’t completely disintegrate on reentry, they dump some amount of debris on Earth’s surface. And they tend to leave a trail of various chemicals through all the layers of the atmosphere.

All this means is this is an event to at least keep up with because there is some measure of danger, however very, very tiny that danger might be. Odds are high any debris will hit one of the oceans anyway.

Very unlike the overhyped TU24 asteroid event which poses absolutely no threat to our beautiful planet.

(Find an update to the spysat story here.)

Rudy to leave race …

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:58 am

… if he comes in the highly expected distant third, or even fourth today in Florida?

This rumor has been kicking around for a few days (link goes to Ace of Spades), and to me is based on some pretty scanty evidence. Basically that on the back of his campaign plane Giuliani said the winner of Florida would go on to win the GOP nomination. The kicker is Rudy said this knowing he is polling very far behind both McCain and Romney in the Sunshine State and in a dead heat with Huckabee for a left-in-the-dust third place at best.

The implication of the statement is he wouldn’t continue even to Tsunami Tuesday and is, in fact, done as a candidate.

Lego bricks turn fifty

Filed under: Arts, et.al., Media — Tags: , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:50 am

Sadly I somehow missed this. The patent approval for the original Lego brick turned 50 yesterday.

I don’t mess around with them as much as I should (you know, it’s therapeutic or something), but I proudly own multiple large blue tubs of various basic pieces.

Negroponte admits use of waterboarding

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:06 am

John Negroponte, the former Director of National Intelligence, admitted the United States used the waterboarding torture technique in 2002 and 2003. Various administration officials have danced around the subject of whether the US government actually waterboarded anyone we took into custody, but none have ever come out and directly confirmed using the interrogation technique.

Negroponte, in an interview published last Friday by the National Journal, had this to say, “We’ve taken steps to address the issue of interrogations, for instance, and waterboarding has not been used in years. It wasn’t used when I was director of national intelligence, nor even for a few years before that.”


January 28, 2008

Feminists on the rampage

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:25 pm

This is heading out there toward dangerously unhinged. I’d describe the tone as shrill, but they might turn those sights onto me.

The above link goes to a Ben Smith post at Politico.com on the NY State chapter of N.O.W.’s reaction to Ted Kennedy endorsing Obama over Clinton. Smith confirmed the statement with the president of the organization.

Here’s the entire statement (linked, and reproduced below). It seems to me these type of attacks do nothing to promote women in any arena, and do little to help Hillary’s presidential bid.

Women have just experienced the ultimate betrayal. Senator Kennedy’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton’s opponent in the Democratic presidential primary campaign has really hit women hard. Women have forgiven Kennedy, stuck up for him, stood by him, hushed the fact that he was late in his support of Title IX, the ERA, the Family Leave and Medical Act to name a few. Women have buried their anger that his support for the compromises in No Child Left Behind and the Medicare bogus drug benefit brought us the passage of these flawed bills. We have thanked him for his ardent support of many civil rights bills, BUT women are always waiting in the wings.

And now the greatest betrayal! We are repaid with his abandonment! He’s picked the new guy over us. He’s joined the list of progressive white men who can’t or won’t handle the prospect of a woman president who is Hillary Clinton (they will of course say they support a woman president, just not “this” one). ‘They’ are Howard Dean and Jim Dean (Yup! That’s Howard’s brother) who run DFA (that’s the group and list from the Dean campaign that we women helped start and grow). They are Alternet, Progressive Democrats of America, democrats.com, Kucinich lovers and all the other groups that take women’s money, say they’ll do feminist and women’s rights issues one of these days, and conveniently forget to mention women and children when they talk about poverty or human needs or America’s future or whatever.

This latest move by Kennedy, is so telling about the status of and respect for women’s rights, women’s voices, women’s equality, women’s authority and our ability – indeed, our obligation – to promote and earn and deserve and elect, unabashedly, a President that is the first woman after centuries of men who “know what’s best for us.”

McCain takes lead in Florida polling

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:21 pm

In more endorsement news, Florida governor Charlie Crist appears to have pushed McCain over the edge in that state.

From the Reuters article:

McCain gained 3 points overnight after winning the Florida governor’s backing on Saturday. The shift broke a tie at 30 percent and pushed McCain, an Arizona senator, into a 33 percent to 30 percent lead on Romney before Tuesday’s primary.

The margin of error in the poll is 3.4 percentage points.

The backing of Crist particularly helped McCain with conservatives. He wiped out a 6-point lead for Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, among voters who describe themselves as conservatives.


Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:10 pm

Obama’s momentum keeps on rolling after Saturday’s impressive blowout victory in South Carolina.

Here’s a quote from a Washington Post article announcing Ted Kennedy is endorsing Obama. An endorsement the Clintons worked to avoid.

The Kennedy stamp of approval was one of the most sought-after prizes of the Democratic nomination battle, and it represents a coup for the Illinois senator, adding an establishment seal of approval to what began a year ago as a long-shot White Housebid. Obama had cultivated Kennedy’s support for months. So had Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), who along with her husband, former president Bill Clinton, had pressed Kennedy in recent days to at least remain neutral.

Sure Obama was expected to handily win South Carolina, but the final numbers — 295,091 votes and 55% to Clinton’s 141,128 and 27% — were a much larger margin than anyone expected.

January 26, 2008

Wild 2 comet results surprising

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:05 pm

The Stardust mission to examine the comet Wild 2 returned some surprising results. The comet did contain expected materials, but it also resembles an asteroid belt meteorite more than an ancient comet.

From the release:

“Wild 2 doesn’t look like what we thought all comets should look like,” Ishii said. “The Stardust mission was a real success because without it, we would never have learned these things about our solar system. The sample return was vital for us to continue to unravel how our solar system formed and evolved.”

January 25, 2008

80 million nouns as a mosaic

Filed under: Arts, Science — Tags: , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:02 pm

This is simply cool.

(Hat tip: the Daily Dish)

Nanny state in action NYC style

Filed under: et.al., Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 8:37 pm

The Village Voice has an article covering a proposed New York City law to outlaw any device monitoring air quality (for pretty much any toxin) without prior approval from the police in the form of a permit.

From the article:

Damn you, Osama bin Laden! Here’s another rotten thing you’ve done to us: After 9/11, untold thousands of New Yorkers bought machines that detect traces of biological, chemical, and radiological weapons. But a lot of these machines didn’t work right, and when they registered false alarms, the police had to spend millions of dollars chasing bad leads and throwing the public into a state of raw panic.

OK, none of that has actually happened. But Richard Falkenrath, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner for counterterrorism, knows that it’s just a matter of time. That’s why he and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have asked the City Council to pass a law requiring anyone who wants to own such detectors to get a permit from the police first.

(Hat tip: Hit & Run)

More GOP money problems

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:06 pm

First Rudy, now Huckabee.

It seems the preacher’s top staff isn’t getting paid right now. He’s not advertising in Florida, and maybe even more damning is he’s no longer providing transportation for the press. The press pays their own way, but most campaigns offer planes, buses, etc., to and from events. Huckabee’s contingent of press corps followers isn’t large enough to justify the expense of even offering transportation.

Romney, of course, will not face these issues since he can self-fund all day long if necessary.

The long Democratic road

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:58 pm

There’s a thorough analysis at Tapped, the American Prospect’s blog, covering the Democratic primary delegate count. The gist is neither Obama or Clinton is expected to leave Tsunami Tuesday with more than a 10% lead in delegates.

The relatively delegate-light primaries over the rest of February and through March — about 1000 delegates added compared to 1688 awarded February 5 — means a drawn-out struggle for the nomination. And will stoke the fires of all the observers hoping for a brokered convention.

January 24, 2008

The Dem field narrows

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:57 pm

Dennis Kucinich is latest presidential race casualty. His campaign had zero momentum and he was pulling an insignificant number of votes. Kucinich says he will not endorse any of the other hopefuls.

Afghani justice

Filed under: et.al., Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:18 pm

Here’s a post from Jacob Sullum over at Reason mag’s Hit and Run on a blasphemy case in Afghanistan. In no way can this action from Afghan officials be considered part of the enlightened, modern world.

From the article:

An Afghan court has sentenced Sayed Parwiz Kambakhsh, a 23-year-old journalism student, to death for downloading and distributing an article critical of Muhammad’s views on women’s rights. Disturbing as that news is for anyone who thought the U.S. had freed Afghanistan from the oppressive rule of brutal theocrats, the reaction of Kambakhsh’s defenders is in some ways even more troubling ( )

January 23, 2008

Missing White House email

Filed under: Politics, Technology — Tags: , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:47 pm

This story has been playing out for a long time now, and I’m still dismayed it hasn’t received more attention.

Essentially, at the end of the day either the Bush 43 administration is supremely incompetent, or it has systematically engaged in cover-up for quasi — or more likely il — legal activities.


Filed under: Arts, Media — Tags: , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:02 am

Last night we were invited by the recording label to check out MGMT, an up and coming band with something of a retro-sixties psychedelia sound. They played the Granada Theater on Greenville Ave. in Dallas with a relatively quick and tight set.

Expect to hear much more about this group because I was told they are getting the same amount of support and push the Strokes received when they debuted.

January 22, 2008

And then there were five

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:57 pm

The rumors Saturday night turned out to be correct. Fred Thompson has officially left the GOP presidential race.

Danger: light blogging

Filed under: et.al. — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:20 am

Expect light blogging in this space for the immediate future. I’m experiencing some technical difficulties with the main box.

(Edited 10:07 PM — Problem solved.)

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