Sour Grapes
Of course we're Fair and Balanced!


Last night's Presidential news conference

I had two strong reactions.

First, with regard to torture, President Obama said:

What I've said�and I will repeat�is that waterboarding violates our ideals and our values. I do believe that it is torture. I don't think that's just my opinion; that's the opinion of many who've examined the topic. And that's why I put an end to these practices.

I am absolutely convinced that it was the right thing to do�not because there might not have been information that was yielded by these various detainees who were subjected to this treatment, but because we could have gotten this information in other ways�in ways that were consistent with our values, in ways that were consistent with who we are [emphasis added].

I generally liked this repudiation of torture. But I was disappointed in the rationale he used (the italicized bit). I wish he had said instead that we do not torture because it is morally wrong. That's why it's illegal. At first I was thinking that he had missed an opportunity to make the moral case, but then I realized I was presuming that he really agreed with me. Maybe he doesn't.

Second, I was surprised that President Obama seemed to tip the government's hand on their approach to the danger of Pakistan's nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands. His initial response to the relevant question was:

I'm confident that we can make sure that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is secure. Primarily, initially, because the Pakistani army, I think, recognizes the hazards of those weapons falling into the wrong hands. We've got strong military-to-military consultation and cooperation....

We want to respect their sovereignty, but we also recognize that we have huge strategic interests, huge national security interests in making sure that Pakistan is stable and that you don't end up having a nuclear-armed militant state.

The first half of his response to the follow-up�that he was not going to engage in hypotheticals�was what I expected. The second half, giving reassurance as to what was not going to happen, only seemed to emphasize the existence of contingency plans.

Q: But in a worst-case scenario...

OBAMA: I'm not going to engage in...

Q: (OFF-MIKE) military could secure this nuclear...

OBAMA: I'm not going to engage in�in hypotheticals of that sort. I feel confident that that nuclear arsenal will remain out of militant hands.

I have no doubt that such contingency plans exist. I am not surprised that they do. I am surprised that the President was willing to talk about them.


Order return rip-off, not!

Last month I posted about my expectation of being ripped off by TigerDirect for the cost of shipping me the wrong product, which I returned to them. While it was true that they only credited me with the cost of the part�$14.99�rather than that plus the shipping and handling�an additional $6.99�I'm happy to report that after I wrote them a letter of complaint they credited my account for the additional $6.99 and sent me a letter:

Thank you for contacting us regard your concerns. We apologize for any inconvenience you experienced. Please be advised that as of 04/01/09 a refund in the amount of $6.99 has been processed for your original shipping charges... has a longstanding service commitment to our customers and their satisfaction is very important to us.

Once again we apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your patience.

When does GM count its cars as being "sold"?

In recent discussions of General Motors' plan to shut down factories for up to nine weeks this summer, I heard that GM recognizes revenue when vehicles are manufactured, not when they're sold. If I heard correctly, this practice is in accord with reporting standards set by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), who proclaim�apparently on every page of their website�that they are "serving the investing public through transparent information resulting from high-quality financial reporting standards, developed in an independent, private-sector, open due process."

I just have a couple of questions. The ability to report revenue in this way serves the investing public how? Do we need any more evidence that big business is vastly under-regulated?

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