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Archive: November 2006

Security Theater

I'm traveling, which has inspired a few thoughts about the issue of air security.

First, I really hope that MoveOn.org decides to organize a campaign around the theme: "The election is over. Can we take liquids on planes again?"

Second, I really hope that a reporter asks the President something like: "Mr. President, we are fighting an all-out war against global terrorism, one that will require great sacrifices and likely last generations. Is it fair that the US government allow passengers that have paid for first class tickets go through better-staffed and shorter security lines than the rest of the American people?"

Third, I wonder what the response would have been if we had determined that terrorists were planning to use cell phones or cigarettes to attack planes? I just find it hard to believe that the US government would actually order people to check their cell phones; even harder to believe that the US government would confiscate people's cell phones if they inadvertently forgot to check them. Not to even contemplate the economic and political pressure that the tobacco industry would bring to bear if cigarettes were prohibited on board US flights.

It's like my brother says, most of it is not about actually making us safer, it's "security theater".

Webb meets Bush --Youch!

Today's Washington Post reports on a remarkable recent conversation between the newly elected Democratic Senator from Virginia, James Webb, and President Bush.

At a recent White House reception for freshman members of Congress, Virginia's newest senator tried to avoid President Bush. Democrat James Webb declined to stand in a presidential receiving line or to have his picture taken with the man he had often criticized on the stump this fall. But it wasn't long before Bush found him.

"How's your boy?" Bush asked, referring to Webb's son, a Marine serving in Iraq.

"I'd like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President," Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.

"That's not what I asked you," Bush said. "How's your boy?"

"That's between me and my boy, Mr. President," Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House.

Stop Corporate G[REED]

My cousin, Luke Klein, has launched a t-shirt line (well, OK, one t-shirt, but it's good) that parodies The Gap's Product Red campaign. If you really want to help fight AIDS in Africa, buy your Corporate G[reed] shirt at Luke's site: http://www.productgreed.com/.

Luke has also recently started a project to help children in Kadiogne, a small town in Senegal. The project, called "Kids of Kadiogne", is "a nonprofit organization that supports the education of children in northern Senegal, in the region commonly referred to as Fouta, while facilitating cultural exchange between Americans and Senegalese."

Flash Player 9 for Linux

One of the biggest hassles with running GNU/Linux is trying to view Flash-based web sites. Adobe's Flash Player is proprietary software and doesn't ship with most Linux distributions. Most large, well-supported distributions, such as Fedora Core and Ubuntu, however, have unofficial software repositories with easy-to-install versions of the Flash Player plug-in for your browser.

The problem is that until recently the latest version of Flash Player available to Linux users was Flash Player 7. Windows users are already on Flash Player 9. Normally, the lag in software version numbers wouldn't be a big deal, but a lot of sites using Flash have adopted Flash Player 8 or Flash Player 9 features that make the sites unusable with the older Flash Player 7.

Fortunately, Adobe has recently released a beta version of Flash Player 9 for Linux. You can download everything you need here. The download includes some very simple instructions. Basically, what you do is: download the compressed file to your computer; unzip it; then, either copy the Flash Player file to /home/yourname/.mozilla/plugins/ directory (assuming you use Mozilla's Firefox), or, as root, copy the file to /usr/lib/mozilla-firefox/plugins/ (again, assuming you use Firefox).

Newsweek on "Europe: The Great Jobs Machine"

Cover of Newsweek magazine, November 20, 2006

The international edition of Newsweek that hits the stands today has a very nice article titled, "Europe: The Great Jobs Machine". As the subheader summarizes: "Despite its laggard reputation, Europe continues to grow faster, and create more jobs, than America."

I especially like that the piece cites numbers from two of my recent reports for the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), "Whatever Happened to the American Jobs Machine?" and "Old Europe Goes to Work: Rising Rising Employment Rates in the European Union" (with Dean Baker).


I'm certainly not in favor of bipartisanship for the sake of bipartisanship. We bipartisanlly declared an illegal and idiotic war on Iraq, for example. But, at least this week, bipartisanship is also a euphemism for Republican acknowledgment that the elections were a call for a change in direction in the White House, and I'm all in favor of that kind of bipartisanship.

The first test of either form of bipartisanship is about to begin: the behavior of President Bush and the current all-Republican Congress in the lame-duck session. The Democratic congressional leadership, which may have finally risen out of obscurity (do you think 40 percent of Americans even know who Harry Reid is?), absolutely must make the public, the press, the Republican House and Senate, and the White House understand that the first major test of bipartisanship will be how the President and Republicans in Congress handle themselves in the lame-duck session. The Democrats need to educate the American public on what is at stake and persuade them that the standard for good will is whether on not Republicans start acting like this is not a one-party state --now, not just in January.

The New York Times has an excellent editorial today on the lame-duck session. Paul Krugman has an op-ed on what he sees as the end last Tuesday of "movement conservatism". Krugman's piece is remarkable for how relaxed he sounds. As if the results on Tuesday let him get a whole night's sleep because someone else (the American people) stepped up to steer the ship of opposition for a few hours.

Both of those pieces are behind the NYT's Berlin Wall, so I can't link. But, you can follow the ins and outs of the lame-duck session at LameDuckHunt.org.

Vote Often

It is election day today, so I wanted to call everyone's attention to some excellent election-related web sites. The 2000 and and 2004 elections exposed substantial problems with the democratic process in the United States. These sites seek to address some of those problems.

To report voting problems by phone:

Vote Early

Too nervous about tomorrow's midterm elections to post anything substantive. So I've decided to post a very entertaining video from YouTube, instead.

This is the first time I've linked to YouTube. After I made the initial post, I noticed that the XHTML code that YouTube recommends to embed the video is not valid XHTML:

<object width="425" height="350">
<param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/KTCYLbFxTpI"></param>
<param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param>
<embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/KTCYLbFxTpI"
type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" 
width="425" height="350">

Bernie Zimmermann at bernzilla, however, proposes the following code, which does adhere to XHTML standards:

<object type="application/x-shockwave-flash" 
style="width:425px; height:350px;" 
<param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/KTCYLbFxTpI"/>

I tweaked Zimmerman's code just a bit so that the video image would be centered in the post box. To do that, I added a "class" called "centered" to the XHTML:

<object type="application/x-shockwave-flash" 
style="width:425px; height:350px;" 
data="http://www.youtube.com/v/KTCYLbFxTpI" class="centered">
<param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/KTCYLbFxTpI"/>

And defined "centered" in the page's CSS file as:

object.centered 	{ display: block;
			margin-left: auto;
			margin-right: auto;
			margin-top: 1em;
			margin-bottom: 1em;
			border-style: none;