Re: Have a ball


I am a fount, but not a font, of trivia on odd topics. I am a river to my people. I know a lot about a little, and a little about a lot; the true key is knowing the difference.

Mind, I re-emphasize that I can't say the documents aren't forgeries; there are open good questions on them, including the kerning question. I just know that that CNS article was too full of horse manure to be taken seriously by some who did. I also know the difference between wanting something to be true, or false, and believing it is, regardless of what side one is on, or what issue is engaged.

You've become a perspicacious blogger, yourself, FL, demonstrated by your linking to me.

Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 09- 9-04 7:44 PM
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Typewriter history factoid: Richard Nixon's FBI may have forged an entire typewriter to convict Alger Hiss.

Posted by: Lindsay Beyerstein | Link to this comment | 09- 9-04 10:06 PM
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Oh please. The typography experts have spoken, and it's greater than 90% chance (by their estimation) that these docs are fakes. The dumbass who perpetrated this hoax continues the liberal tradition of lying to advance their cause, just like John Kerry did with his "XMAS in Cambodia" fairytale and just like Micheal Moore did in F911. Your boy Kerry is going down in flames because of this crap. Actually, though your pathetic explanations of all this stuff is annoying, the downward spiral and your whining is quite entertaining.

We've seen the demise of the Soviet Union as evidence that communism is bad policy and freedom is good policy. When will you people give up on supporting these pro-communist/pro-socialist dingbats and support a political system that works?

Posted by: ronnie | Link to this comment | 09- 9-04 10:27 PM
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For the record, there's more or less no doubt that Alger Hiss was guilty, as anyone who has studied the modern record, and the Venoma documents, has concluded.

But meanwhile I do want to confess that it's only because I'm a communist that I think George W. Bush has been an unsatisfactory President, and thus I work to undermine him, under orders from my communist masters. Kerry, as we know, wishes to institute communism in the U.S., or something indistinguishable from it. Hoorah!

Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 09- 9-04 10:36 PM
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I think the wheels are falling off the wagon on this.

See the ABC story here

Let me cite one passage:

"These documents do not appear to have been the result of technology that was available in 1972 and 1973," said Bill Flynn, one of country's top authorities on document authentication. "The cumulative evidence that's available indicates that these documents were produced on a computer, not a typewriter:"

Among the points Flynn and other experts noted:

The memos were written using a proportional typeface, where letters take up variable space according to their size, rather than fixed-pitch typeface used on typewriters, where each letter is allotted the same space. Proportional typefaces are available only on computers or on very high-end typewriters that were unlikely to be used by the National Guard.

The memos include superscript, i.e., the "th" in "187th" appears above the line in a smaller font. Superscript was not available on typewriters.

The memos included "curly" apostrophes rather than straight apostrophes found on typewriters.

The font used in the memos is Times Roman, which was in use for printing but not in typewriters. The Haas Atlas the bible of fonts does not list Times Roman as an available font for typewriters.

The vertical spacing used in the memos, measured at 13 points, was not available in typewriters, and only became possible with the advent of computers.

Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 09-10-04 4:21 PM
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To Lindsay Beyerstein , above,


History Factoid

Nixon probably won the 1960 election against JFK.

One side was sleazy the othe less so. As much as you might hate Nixon Dems are more sleazy. In a slime-wiggly way.

Off topic but still a gem:

911 memorial pics (NSF Leftists):

Posted by: abc123 | Link to this comment | 09-10-04 4:55 PM
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To Baa,

Even if it is all true it cannot compare.

The left is diseased.

An upset Democrat:

Posted by: abc123 | Link to this comment | 09-10-04 4:58 PM
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"even if it is true, it would not compare"

I tend to agree, abc123. I would vote for Bush even if incontrovertible proof emerged that family connections got him into the guard.

But your comment raises a more interesting question: what is the set of evidence that would cause me to change my vote to Kerry? I often think this kind of counter-factual musing is a crucial part of mental health. Decent, intelligent people are going to vote for the (lugubrious, vacillating, dovish wet) John Kerry. What must they believe that I do not? And how could I come to believe it too?

What would it take for you to flip, abc123? And Kerry voters, what would you need to believe to vote for the (warmongering, lying, chimp-resembling) GWB.

Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 09-10-04 7:13 PM
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Bush plays to religious fundamentalists and appoints them to high office. That is my overriding issue and due to it no belief can flip me to vote for Bush. Until the Republican Party throws Robertson, Falwell, and Jones overboard, they could only win my support by depositing six figures directly into my savings account. We all have our different criteria, I suppose. Your mileage may vary.

As for the documents, I'd recommend Stirling Newbery's take. No idea whether he's on to something or not, but there are details that make the forgery angle problematic as well. I don't think either side of this contretemps has gotten to the crux of the matter yet.

Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-10-04 7:37 PM
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Kerry voters, what would you need to believe to vote for the (warmongering, lying, chimp-resembling) GWB.

I don't think this is a very good question, ben, because those of us here are voting on past peformances. I'd don't believe there's anything important that can be added to my knowledge of Bush's past performance for the past 3 1/2 years. As for Kerry, the belief I've formed of him is that he is a hard worker, is decently intelligent, understands nuance, and will try to be the best president he can be. I'm not saying I think he's a rock star, but in light of the competition, he doesn't have to be. I genuinely don't believe that Bush even cares to work hard at being a good president. That character issue enough is reason for me to vote against him, but I also have issues with what seems like just about everything he's done in office.

Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 09-10-04 9:03 PM
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Bush plays to religious fundamentalists and appoints them to high office. That is my overriding issue and due to it no belief can flip me to vote for Bush.

I am an atheist, and state-supported religion really frosts my ass. However, I realized a long time ago that I'm in the minority; consider that every human culture that has ever existed has had religion(s) to explain the things that they cannot understand. This fact is not changing anytime soon, and so most people will embrace religion and I will not judge them for it. When GWB implements policies such as "faith-based initiatives" it bothers me, but not as much having a weak-kneed liar in the white house attempting to implement every failed liberal policy ever dreamed up. I don't like GWB's immigration policies; I don't like it that .gov can find out what books I'm buying; I don't like how he's handled some budgetary issues. But he is head and shoulders a much better choice than Kerry.

Posted by: ronnie | Link to this comment | 09-11-04 8:42 AM
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What are examples of failed liberal policies?

Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 09-11-04 10:46 AM
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Oh c'mon, Michael, it's a *great* question. You've said: personal presidential competance, followed by policy (on which you lean Dem-wards). That's helpful, because it would allow a interlocuter to interrogate (lookit me, I'm Homi freaking Bhaba!) the assumptions you have made about Kerry's and Bush's personal leadership qualities. Also, you clearly do think it's a good question, as you've asked ronnie to list the "failed liberal policies" he fears. You cealrl want to understand why he considers these policies failed/likely to be endorsed by Kerry. Karl Popper wins again!

Apostropher, I'm a bit more puzzled by your response. What are the specific policies you fear fundamentalists will implement. Or is it just that you find religious conservatives so morally loathesome that anyone who is endorsed by/associates with/fails to denounce the more extreme elements of that group can't get your vote?

Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 09-11-04 12:22 PM
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I share apos' antipathy towards religion, particularly fundamental religion, mixing with the state. Our deep mistrust of religion on this issue, is wll-grounded in history, I think. But, on the philosophical issues, fundamental religion and tolerance/questions don't mix. You might argue that this isn't necessarily true, but I would counter that, nevertheless, it's what always seems to happen. There seems to be a natural progression from, "this is what we believe and why" to, "this is what is, do not question it"

On the other issues, sure, I'm quite puzzled when well-informed people such as yourself are willing to vote for Bush. I believe you may have mentioned that your vote is based primarily on the war on terror. I tend to be sympathetic to Kevin Drum's account.

I'm eager to hear about failed liberal policies.

Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 09-11-04 12:49 PM
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What are the specific policies you fear fundamentalists will implement.

Overturning Roe vs. Wade, banning birth control, anti-gay laws (not just maintaining the status quo, but actively attacking), funding of religious schools, defunding public education, censorship of the arts, teaching of creationism, codification of anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish discrimination, religious loyalty tests ("I don't know that atheists should be regarded as citizens, nor should they be regarded as patriotic." - George H.W. Bush, 1987), fomenting Middle Eastern war in order to hasten the Second Coming, et cetera. If you think these are far-fetched, come spend a little time in the NC mountains.

Ronnie, I'm not hostile to religion as a whole. My father was a minister and I grew up in Baptist churches in NC. Some of my closest friends are ordained ministers and many others are devout (if liberal) Christians. I wouldn't call myself an atheist because I think that's as big a leap of faith as theism, but I'm a pretty committed agnostic (how's that for an oxymoron?). Anyhow, having spent my entire life in the South, I'm well-acquainted with the fundamentalist mindset and I have no illusions about it: given enough power, they'd be the Taliban without the beards and the aversion to pork.

In a democratic society, they have the right to try to codify their vision of America. I retain my right to work actively to block it. I firmly believe Christian fundamentalists pose an entirely more immediate threat to America than Muslim fundamentalists do. Everybody has their pet issue; that one happens to be mine.

Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-11-04 1:18 PM
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Short version: I don't find them morally loathesome, I find them dangerous. I'm content for them to live their lives according to whatever creed they choose. I'm not content with them trying to force it on me through legislation.

Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-11-04 1:24 PM
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You have said enough. This swamp is too deet for me.

Typo intended. SN? SN Is a moron.


Posted by: abccc | Link to this comment | 09-11-04 6:55 PM
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The only thing that could convince me not to vote for Bush would be if his administration had wanted to make an agent of Iran the leader of Iraq, or something on that level.

Oh, wait. Lemme get back to you.

Posted by: EH | Link to this comment | 09-12-04 3:51 AM
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Failed Liberal Policies:

Treating terrorists as criminals vs. treating them as enemies of our country. This is a pretty broad claim, and you could probably nitpick various aspects of it, but there's no doubt that GWB's response to 9/11 has been strong and effective. How many attacks have we had in our country since?

Taxation. Liberals are historically more inclined to take more from people in taxes to spend on grand social programs like Social Security and welfare (even though these programs are usually failures). Yet the real reason people are inclined to get up in the morning and go to work is to improve their own position and that of their families. People are not naturally inclined to sweat for the common good. This is illustrated by the fall of the Soviet Union. Their culture was bland, their products inferior, their people unmotivated. The amount of motivation a person has is directly proportional to the amount of pay they receive for their own labor. And the tax burden a person bears is inversely proportional to their motivation.

Nationalized health care. As can be seen in Canada, this policy leads to mediocre health services and long waits for standard procedures. You think health care costs are high now? Wait until it's free.

Social Security. Another well-intentioned program that is now proving to be nothing but a pyramid scheme. Today, a portion of my wages and the wages of 2 others go to keep some old milkshake out on the golfcourse. All while the financial planners tell me to stick more into my 401K because Social Security isn't going to be there when I need it. It's wealth redistribution, pure and simple.

Gun Control. England banned civilian ownership of firearms, and crime's gone through the roof. When individual states in the USA allow people to carry concealed weapons, crime in those states decreases.

Minimum Wage. Why are companies outsourcing to India and other countries? Because of government intrusions into the marketplace such as minimum wage. It should be abolished.

Americans with Disabilities Act. From John Stossel's book "Give Me a Break":

Well-intended but complicated and unpredicatable

laws like the ADA eventually hurt the people they

were intended to help. They cause employers to

avoid the disabled. One poll found that since the

ADA was passed, the percentage of disabled men who

were employed dropped. Why? Some employers told us

it was because their lawyers tell them disabled

people are "dangerous" because they can become legal

liabilities. "Once you hire them, you can never fire

them. They are lawsuit bombs," one told me. "So we

just tell them the job has been filled."

This unintended consequence of the ADA shouldn't have

been a suprise. If you give some workers extra power

to sue, employers avoid those "lawsuit bombs."

So the disabled get fewer job offers, while the lawyers

get richer.

Business Regulation. Business regulation is often implemented by a regulatory board which grants licenses. These boards usually consist of people in the business. These people are not naturally inclined to distribute new licenses to new businesses, because that means new competition for them. So consumers get less choice.

Posted by: ronnie | Link to this comment | 09-12-04 7:32 AM
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Belated additional comment on this: "Richard Nixon's FBI may have forged an entire typewriter to convict Alger Hiss."

Allegations that the FBI built a typeweriter have, of course, been around since the Fifties, and were amplified with the additional curlicue that Nixon is alleged to have said as President "we built one in the Hiss case."

But at the actual time of the Hiss case, Nixon was Senator from California, so referring to "Nixon's FBI" is a very odd and misleading locution.

Bottom line is that contrary to the liberal orthodoxy of the 50's-70's that I grew up with, modern research in the 90's pretty much proved Hiss guilty to a point of near-irrefutability. (I realize no one else is talking about this, but it struck me when I re-noticed the odd "Nixon's FBI" mention.)

On other fronts: " doubt that GWB's response to 9/11 has been strong and effective. How many attacks have we had in our country since?"

Oh, good logic. This "proves" that Clinton's response to Islamic terrorism was even stronger, because how many attacks did we have in our country in his terms? And, gee, Jimmy Carter was even stronger!

Attacks outside the U.S. don't count, of course, nor botching Tora Bora or the Iraq occupation with no reasonable excuse. Strong rhetoric will defend us!

"Liberals are historically more inclined to take more from people in taxes..."

Yet, strangely, the last Democratic President gave us eight years of a strengthing economy, and brought us not just the first balanced budgets in decades, but vast reductions in the national debt. Clearly borrowing and spending, while increasing government spending and size of government, at unprecedented rates, is a brilliant new Republican economic policy that is far, far better!

The idea of defending the Bush 43 Presidency on economic grounds -- any economic grounds -- is quite hilarious, and it's more than difficult to find an economist of any brand who would do so (just check with any conserative-minded or libertarian-type economist; check with the Cato Insitute).

Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 09-12-04 9:59 AM
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ronnie, thanks for responding. I'll do my best to respond to what Gary hasn't already.

Nationalized health care: There are other models besides Canada. Look at the French. Right now, the US has one of the lowest rations of dollars/effectiveness. It's not that we need more money for health care, the program just needs a total overhall. Also, think of this: Some of the biggest business costs are pensions and insurance. A national health care plan would reduce those two costs, unburdening businesses, especially small businesses.

Social Security. Your financial adivser wouldnt be telling you to invest in a 401k if the Republicans hadn't spent all the money. Anyway, it's been shown by people smarter than me in this stuff that SS isn't in that much trouble. I get the feeling, however, that you dislike the whole idea of any socialist legislation. In our country, there is no material lack of food or basic goods. Quite the opposite, we are engaged in actively reducing production. So, why do we allow so many people to go hungry? Insofar as you might believe we are fellow human beings, you must believe this is shameful. What we need is a better distrubitive network of basic needs. You might say, if people aren't starving, they'll lose the motivation to work. Certainly true to some extent. But so what? If a small percent are willing to live on meager handouts, I really don't care. It just really doesn't cost that much. I certainly think it's worth it. It'll keep their kids fed.

Gun Control. I know Kerry is for banning assault weapons, but that's it, I think. It's a minority of liberals that are for banning guns.

Minimum Wage Would you really want to see people in this country working for $1 a day? Ridiculous. People can't even live on minimum wage right now. Do you support yourself working? Even heartless capitalist owners know better that to do what you suggest! An evil factory owner may believe in keeping his workers hungry, but knows he has to at least pay him enough so that he can raise some children who will fill in his place on the line when he dies! Your idea, which won't even allow him to support children, is disasterous in the long run! Besides, the supposed negative effects of raising minimum wage (such as businesses will just raise their prices so the effects are illusory) have never happened.

Business Regulation. I don't know anything of the regulatory board which you're referring to, but I do know this: Republicans are for more of two things: Deregulating business, and corporate welfare. These two policies have the effect of encouraging big businesses, and large coporations who try to obtain as much of a monopoly as they can. This is not a productive environment for small business, or new, innovative, entrepeneurship.

I'll have to research the ADA, but I see positive effects of this bill in my daily life. On campus, they're being forced to make buildings handicap accessible (although they're doing this very slowly) so that kids in wheelchairs can get to class. We've still got a long way to go.

Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 09-12-04 11:51 AM
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