Dear Tony,

Howdy. I’m honored you stopped by Whiskey Tango. I was going to do this in the comments, but it just got too long.

I gave you props in a previous post and in your comment you asked about “the letter idea.” One example I came across was your “Dear Avril” letter.

I found a letter to the NHL to be a good way to express my anger and frustration with the players’ union and owners.

I read your blog several times each day. I very much enjoy the personality of your writing voice. Your perspective on the different goings-on in our world lets me share a glimpse of life through the eyes of another.

The Busblog is great and inspired me to start Whiskey Tango. I learned about many of the sites I view on a daily basis from you. Raymi and Anti crack my shit up. And you know some really smart mofos with very informed opinions about many of the complicated issues in politics today.

So I hope you don’t mind that I copped a writing device from you.

And thank you. For the Busblog. For the photo essays. For sharing little bits of all the wonderful people in your life (Karisa, Tsar, et. al.) For giving LA a voice. For all the great links. For inspiring me to start documenting my inconsequential life.



dear eddie van halen + dear the pope + dear kids of afghanistan + dear diary + dear + dear michael jackson + dear God + dear la times

the instadebate will never die.

yesterday there was a question about the chart that i used from Reuters that accompanied my retort.

inflation, steve, the reader/commentor said, was not being accounted for in the chart. he repeated this claim in greater detail on his blog.

in the comments of both my post and his, i asked for a link to a more accurate chart. to which he wrote this:

I don’t think you understand the point of the objection. It isn’t the accuracy, but the units of measure. For example, if I say you weigh 150 is that good or bad? Depends on whether I am using pounds or kg. If it is pounds that isn’t that bad. If it is kilograms then it also means you weigh over 330 pounds. This is the inflation part of the objection.

Another problem is the context. If you are 5’4″ tall 150 lbs. might be a bit overweight. If you are 5’10” then that weight is pretty darned good. Further, there are things like muscle mass and so forth. This added “context” is the percentage of GDP.

Now, Tony, if you are still scratching your shaved head (and I don’t know why you are complaining about hot babes…the girl in those pics is pretty darned easy on the eyes), think of it this way. What will inflation do over the next 40 years? Double the prices? If so then a deficit of todays size in those future dollars is going to also be double. But is it really twice as big? No. It is the same size (assuming no economic growth, but economic stagnation). Further if GDP doubles then deficit is actually half as large as a percentage of GDP.

Basically it is all in how you measure things. Didn’t your grandparents ever talk about going to see a movie for $0.50 or something? Why does it cost $8+ no? Is it simply evil movie theater owners jacking up prices? Or is part of it that we have seen inflation causing all prices to increase?

to which someone else, sofla, typed this:

Steve, most everybody on your site here can understand the difference between a ‘nominal’ dollar record and an ‘inflation-adjusted and/or constant’ dollar record, and while they are different, both terms exist, and can be correctly or incorrectly used, on their own terms.

It is entirely correct to call the current budget deficit the record **nominal** deficit, as you well know. And it is obvious from the numbers displayed in the legends on the graph that nominal billions of dollars is the unit used for the y-axis. If the axis were labelled ‘1990 constant dollars’ or something, this graph would be inaccurate.

Since simply changing the heading to include the words ‘nominal’ or ‘current dollar’ before ‘deficit’ is enough to make this chart entirely accurate, what exactly is your beef, which, by the way, is not with this guy tony, but with Reuters?

In fact, just about all the media, including specialized business wires, Business Week, the Economist, etc., routinely call nominal record prices ‘records,’ and then mention how they stack up in real terms only toward the end of the piece, if at all, but with a headline that you claim is wholly illegitimate on any terms (I guess).

Have you broached this extreme and inflexible position of yours with the business and economic writers for BW, Fortune, Reuters business wire, etc.? Why do you think the specialized business press continues to make what you consider such an egregious and howling error?

Because they’ve never heard of, nor understand, the difference? Or just possibly that, although understanding the difference, there are purposes for which the uses of current dollars are more traditional, and have utility, although you disagree?

This insistence that a near-universal usage must be stopped makes you somewhat like King Canute, ordering back the tides. It’s eccentric, and has you insisting that something that is true (the nominal record status) cannot be mentioned, because it is false.

When people have the experience that a tankful of gas for the first time in their lives costs them over $40 (current dollars), that astonished feeling of sticker shock is only slightly diminished by explaining the $20 they paid in ’76 was more in real terms.

Beside the theoretical issue raised above, the chart shows unfortunate trends, even if you adjust it for inflation. A period of decreasing deficits, culminating in surpluses, was suddenly reversed, and the deficits are worsening, not getting better. Put it in nominal dollars, constant dollars, or by all means, in the gold standard, as a percentage of gdp, and this trend still exists, and will persist and worsen under this president’s economic policies.

Something need not be the worst of all time to be bad.

well today Steve put together a very civil post, which includes not one chart but Three!

and as promised, i happily link to his fine blog for you to enjoy his findings which are that this is not the worst deficit ever.


who said comments arent useful?

masslive + in whack + jay caruso

Fear and Loathing, Campaign 2004

by Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

an excerpt from his current Rolling Stone column

Armageddon came early for George Bush this year, and he was not ready for it. His long-awaited showdowns with my man John Kerry turned into a series of horrible embarrassments that cracked his nerve and demoralized his closest campaign advisers. They knew he would never recover, no matter how many votes they could steal for him in Florida, where the presidential debates were closely watched and widely celebrated by millions of Kerry supporters who suddenly had reason to feel like winners.

Kerry came into October as a five-point underdog with almost no chance of winning three out of three rigged confrontations with a treacherous little freak like George Bush. But the debates are over now, and the victor was clearly John Kerry every time. He steamrollered Bush and left him for roadkill.

Did you see Bush on TV, trying to debate? Jesus, he talked like a donkey with no brains at all. The tide turned early, in Coral Gables, when Bush went belly up less than halfway through his first bout with Kerry, who hammered poor George into jelly. It was pitiful. . . . I almost felt sorry for him, until I heard someone call him “Mister President,” and then I felt ashamed.

Karl Rove, the president’s political wizard, felt even worse. There is angst in the heart of Texas today, and panic in the bowels of the White House. Rove has a nasty little problem, and its name is George Bush. The president failed miserably from the instant he got onstage with John Kerry. He looked weak and dumb. Kerry beat him like a gong in Coral Gables, then again in St. Louis and Tempe — and that is Rove’s problem: His candidate is a weak-minded frat boy who cracks under pressure in front of 60 million voters.

That is an unacceptable failure for hardballers like Rove and Dick Cheney. On the undercard in Cleveland against John Edwards, Cheney came across as the cruel and sinister uberboss of Halliburton. In his only honest moment during the entire debate, he vowed, “We have to make America the best place in the world to do business.”

Bush signed his own death warrant in the opening round, when he finally had to speak without his TelePrompTer. It was a Cinderella story brought up to date in Florida that night — except this time the false prince turned back into a frog.

Immediately after the first debate ended I called Muhammad Ali at his home in Michigan, but whoever answered said the champ was laughing so hard that he couldn’t come to the phone. “The debate really cracked him up,” he chuckled. “The champ loves a good ass-whuppin’. He says Bush looked so scared to fight, he finally just quit and laid down.”

Ali has seen that look before. Almost three months to the day after John Fitzgerald Kennedy was murdered in Dallas, the “Louisville Lip” — then Cassius Clay — made a permanent enemy of every “boxing expert” in the Western world by beating World Heavyweight Champion Sonny Liston so badly that he refused to come out of his corner for the seventh round. This year’s first presidential debate was such a disaster for George Bush that his handlers had to be crazy to let him get in the ring with John Kerry again. Yet Karl Rove let it happen, and we can only wonder why. But there is no doubt that the president has lost his nerve, and his career in the White House is finished. NO MAS.

Presidential politics is a vicious business, even for rich white men, and anybody who gets into it should be prepared to grapple with the meanest of the mean. The White House has never been seized by timid warriors. There are no rules, and the roadside is littered with wreckage. That is why they call it the passing lane. Just ask any candidate who ever ran against George Bush — Al Gore, Ann Richards, John McCain — all of them ambushed and vanquished by lies and dirty tricks. And all of them still whining about it.

That is why George W. Bush is President of the United States, and Al Gore is not. Bush simply wanted it more, and he was willing to demolish anything that got in his way, including the U.S. Supreme Court. It is not by accident that the Bush White House (read: Dick Cheney & Halliburton Inc.) controls all three branches of our federal government today. They are powerful thugs who would far rather die than lose the election in November.

The Republican establishment is haunted by painful memories of what happened to Old Man Bush in 1992. He peaked too early, and he had no response to “It’s the economy, stupid.”

Which has always been the case. Every GOP administration since 1952 has let the Military-Industrial Complex loot the Treasury and plunge the nation into debt on the excuse of a wartime economic emergency. Richard Nixon comes quickly to mind, along with Ronald Reagan and his ridiculous “trickle-down” theory of U.S. economic policy. If the Rich get Richer, the theory goes, before long their pots will overflow and somehow “trickle down” to the poor, who would rather eat scraps off the Bush family plates than eat nothing at all. Republicans have never approved of democracy, and they never will. It goes back to preindustrial America, when only white male property owners could vote.

Things haven’t changed all that much where George W. Bush comes from. Houston is a cruel and crazy town on a filthy river in East Texas with no zoning laws and a culture of sex, money and violence. It’s a shabby sprawling metropolis ruled by brazen women, crooked cops and super-rich pansexual cowboys who live by the code of the West — which can mean just about anything you need it to mean, in a pinch.

Houston is also the unnatural home of two out of the last three presidents of the United States of America, for good or ill. The other one was a handsome, sex-crazed boy from next-door Arkansas, which has no laws against oral sex or any other deviant practice not specifically forbidden in the New Testament, including anal incest and public cunnilingus with farm animals.

Back in 1948, during his first race for the U.S. Senate, Lyndon Johnson was running about ten points behind, with only nine days to go. He was sunk in despair. He was desperate. And it was just before noon on a Monday, they say, when he called his equally depressed campaign manager and instructed him to call a press conference for just before lunch on a slow news day and accuse his high-riding opponent, a pig farmer, of having routine carnal knowledge of his barnyard sows, despite the pleas of his wife and children.

His campaign manager was shocked. “We can’t say that, Lyndon,” he supposedly said. “You know it’s not true.”

“Of course it’s not true!” Johnson barked at him. “But let’s make the bastard deny it!”

Johnson — a Democrat, like Bill Clinton — won that election by fewer than a hundred votes, and after that he was home free. He went on to rule Texas and the U.S. Senate for twenty years and to be the most powerful vice president in the history of the United States. Until now.

The genetically vicious nature of presidential campaigns in America is too obvious to argue with, but some people call it fun, and I am one of them. Election Day — especially a presidential election — is always a wild and terrifying time for politics junkies, and I am one of those, too. We look forward to major election days like sex addicts look forward to orgies. We are slaves to it.

read the rest of it on

bicycle mark + sk smith + kitty bukkake