Thursday, June 30, 2005

Black Republicans prepare for 2006 - “GOP back blacks to run to lure votes”: “In Maryland, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, black Republicans - all of whom have been groomed by the national party - are expected to run for governor or the United States Senate next year. Several other up-and-coming black Republicans are expected to run for lower statewide offices in Missouri, Ohio, Texas and Vermont in 2006.”
Mr. Cranky reviews War of the Worlds: “At one point, Tom Cruise's character is asked by his son, "What do you know?" and he answers, "Everything." It's like Cruise's interview with Matt Lauer all over again.” Heh-heh. Only two bombs from Mr. Cranky, which is like a rave.
Speaking of Dean - Who benefits when Howard Dean plans a fundraiser in South Carolina? The Republicans! Strange but true.
Democracy Corps poll: Dems have no core beliefs

Hey, this is from the Democrats’ own polling group:

The latest Democracy Corps survey, conducted June 20-26, found that Democrats are "not doing very well," Mr. Greenberg said at a Monitor breakfast.

Some 43 percent of voters said they had warm feelings about the Republican Party, while only 38 percent had positive feelings about Democrats. "Republicans weakened in this poll ... but it shows Democrats weakening more," Greenberg said. He attributes the decline to voters' perceptions that Democrats have "no core set of convictions or point of view."
Howard Dean responded: "Yeah, whatever."
Raging Swede out for some Viking justice

Here’s another article on Ulf Hjertsröm – “Swede held hostage vows revenge”:

A Swede held hostage in Iraq for 67 days and released a month ago has vowed to take revenge on his captors and has hired bounty hunters to capture them, Swedish media reported today.

"I have now put some people to work to find these bastards ... I invested about $50,000 so far and we will get them one by one," he told Channel 10.
This is one wacky story - stay tuned. (More here)
PBS in an age of surplus content

Here’s the Boston Globe’s Jeff Jacoby expanding on a topic I touched on the other day:

But despite the argument made by some Republicans, the reason to defund ''public" television is not its liberal political bias. It is that it has no legitimate claim on taxpayer dollars. Maybe it did back when public broadcasting was a lone oasis in a vast wasteland of mediocrity, but that is no longer the case. Thanks to cable, satellites, and the Internet, viewers now have access to an incredible array of offerings, much of it of very high quality. From ESPN to A&E to the Learning Channel, today's private broadcasters more than fill the need it was once said only public broadcasting could meet. They manage without a federal handout. Big Bird can, too.
Several of the cable stations for children also run without commercials (during the show) indicating that a channel can stay profitable with other sources of income such as licensing and merchandising.

Extra – David Broder notes that the $100 million restored to PBS came out of funding for health education: “The victory that public television won last week when the House restored the committee-mandated 25 percent cut in its funds came at a price. That price will be paid, as is so often the case in today's Washington, by the people who depend on government help for essential health care and education and job-training services.”
You can’t do it, we won’t help – Just like Social Security (and any number of issues) the Democrats have plenty of criticism but no solutions for Iraq.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Flop, turn, river – Four-flusher James McManus is writing an online journal from the World Series of Poker.
They’re gonna give it a try: “House GOP pledges fall vote on Social Security
An apostate in the Church of Gaia

Robert Samuelson is having none of it in “Global Hypocrisy”:

Almost a decade ago I suggested that global warming would become a "gushing" source of political hypocrisy. So it has. Politicians and scientists constantly warn of the grim outlook, and the subject is on the agenda of the upcoming Group of Eight summit of world economic leaders. But all this sound and fury is mainly exhibitionism -- politicians pretending they're saving the planet. The truth is that, barring major technological advances, they can't (and won't) do much about global warming. It would be nice if they admitted that, though this seems unlikely.
It’s funny that the same people who hold an unshakable belief in global cooling warming also reject the mathematical certainty of Social Security’s insolvency. Too much arithmetic, I guess.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

That’s one Mad Swede – “If a conservative is a liberal who's been mugged, what do you call a Swede who's been kidnapped? Somebody you wouldn't want to cross, that's for sure.”
Speaking of snap polls – Gallup says that reaction to Bush’s speech was mostly positive. Considering that you’re starting out with a hard floor of one-fifth of the country opposed to everything Bush does, a 74%/24% positive/negative split is pretty good.
Snap analysis of Bush’s speech

First off, here’s the transcript and here’s the link to America Supports You.

I thought it was passing strange to mention Osama Bin Laden since it’s a tacit reminder that after almost four years we haven’t captured or killed the most wanted man on the planet. Still, Bush must have thought it was critical to remind Americans that even the top terrorist believes that Iraq is the new battleground.

Best line: “chaos for the cameras” makes the point that the enemy wants to break the resolve of the allies with a hundred mini-Tets. The Madrid bombing may have shaken the Spaniards, but Bush made it clear that we won’t be so easily scared off.

The political Left will complain about the 9/11 references but they can’t deny that terrorists are bringing the fight to Iraq, and not Dubuque.

UpdateHugh Hewitt thought that Osama’s words were key: “That is the key point in the speech, the key point in the debate, and the president's clarity in making it made it a very successful speech. Over and over again he and his Administration, his supporters and the military must make that point again and again: It is all one war.”

More - Lorie Byrd, Mort Kondracke, and John Hindraker thought it was an excellent speech.

Finally, what media bias? – Here’s a roundup of statements from both Congressional Democrats and Republicans via the Washington Post. In a typical representation of opinion by the MSM, there are quotes from seven Democrats and three Republicans. What a surprise.
Very Dilbertesque – From Winds of Change here’s five corporate fables
The occasionally rational Tom Cruise

We all know Tom Cruise isn’t playing with a full deck, but you have to give him some grudging respect for this move:

While filming in a residential neighborhood in Howell, New Jersey, residents lined up for autographs. Tom Cruise said if anyone pushed or shoved or acted rudely he would stop immediately. One woman pushed her way through and Cruise stopped, just like he warned.
While filming "War of the Worlds" Cruise also dropped $5000 into one of those charity jars at a Lexington, VA Dairy Queen. Good for him. (BTW, he's getting 10% of all profits on the movie.)
Who asked you?

Presidential loser John Kerry reprises his campaign stump speech and writes in the NY Times “The speech the President should give.” Essentially, his solutions to Iraq involve everything we’re doing now, only faster. Here’s the best part of the article:

John F. Kerry is a Democratic senator from Massachusetts.
That’s as far as you’re going to go: Ted Kennedy’s understudy.

Extra - Little Green Footballs on the pretender to the throne: "In an example of truly monumental chutzpah, John F. Kerry’s editorial for the New York Times spews the same nonsense that lost him the election, laughably dictating to the elected President what he should say in tonight’s speech."

Monday, June 27, 2005

Don’t do something, just stand there!” – From National Review: “There are three Democratic plans for Social Security – and all are bankrupt.”
Another great blog calls it quits - After 4+ years, Dodd on Ipse Dixit packs it in. So long, buddy.
Full faith and credit” expires in 2026

Scrivener links to a study on Tax Analysts about the current state of debt in America and how the crush of entitlements will change the ratings of U.S. government bonds in the future. The bottom line is that, while the national debt is high in dollar amounts, it’s relatively low historically and compared to other industrialized nations as a percentage of GDP. But the effect of entitlement spending will send treasury bills – once considered the safest of all investments – into a tailspin:

Standard and Poor's has projected the future credit rating of the U.S. government -- specifically, of U.S. government bonds, currently considered the "risk free" investment -- on the basis of current law and standard economic projections:

Year – rating
Until 2016: AAA
2017: AA+
2019: AA
2020: AA-
2022: A+
2023: A
2025: BBB+
2026 and later: Speculative (i.e. "junk")
One of the greatest strengths of the United States has been our ability to borrow in times of war or economic hardship. When the wave of Baby Boomers start collecting checks there will be no political escape route to a problem that has no fiscal sensibility. Delay on entitlement reform is not an option; otherwise, it’s going to be a hard ten-year drop into junk-bond status and fiscal turmoil.
Filled with heartache alert - Ace moves the Sully Freak-Out meter to red and catches him with his own pronouncements here.
Schizophrenic Democrats - Here’s Michael Barone with “A Fundamental Split in the Democratic Party”: “Democrats are watching with glee as Bush's job approval stays stuck below 50 percent. But a party that happily allies itself with the likes of and many of whose leading members have lost the ability to distinguish between opposition to an incumbent administration and rooting for our nation's enemies has got serious problems. Especially when it is called on again, as it will be sooner or later, to govern.”
Supreme Court watch

Keep your browser close to Bench Memos, How Appealing, Volokh, and SCOTUS blog. Also, here's the Boston Globe with "Drama to shadow high court’s last day"
The tips are getting lean at the Hollywood Starbucks

From the AP: “U.S. box office hits longest modern slump” Let’s get one thing straight: it’s not the $10 popcorn or the sticky floors. It’s the rotten product. Here’s the list of the top 10 movies from last week, with my commentary:

1. "Batman Begins" – What is this, the 20th Batman movie?
2. "Bewitched” – Coming soon: “The Jeffersons – Movin’ on up to the moon”
3. "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," – Pretty people with guns
4. "Herbie: Fully Loaded," – Another Disney rehash
5. "George Romero's Land of the Dead” – Another horror rehash
6. "Madagascar," – Cartoon animals, ‘nuf said
7. "Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith," – The end at last
8. "The Longest Yard," – No commentary necessary
9. "The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D," - ?
10. "Cinderella Man," – This actually looks like a watchable movie

There’s a scene in the movie “The Player” where one suit proposed that the studio get rid of the writers and just slap together movies based on newspaper stories or old concepts. That’s where Hollywood is today.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

$2.21/gallon: “Gas jumps 8 cents, back near record high” Yikes. High worldwide demand (China) is driving up crude prices which in turn is hiking prices at the pump.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Be sure to check out U2’s new album “Live at Red Rocks

Mark Kilmer has the Sunday morning talk show lineup and I have to poke fun at his attempt to be hip:

Host Tim Russert will talk to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld about Iraq. And Bono, the lead singer for the British rock band U2: “Sunday, Bloody Sunday.” (His cause is Africa.)
Ahem. Well, the Irish band U2 has had a couple of hits in the two decades since “Sunday Bloody Sunday.” We’re living in the 21st century now, Mark. Get with the times.
Walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, but I never said it was a duck

John Cole over at Balloon Juice has the vapors over Karl Rove’s speech and inadvisably turns his attention back to the statement of Dick Durbin. He posts the key part of Durbin’s speech that got him in trouble and declares:

No matter how many times you say it, he did not call our soldiers Nazis. He just didn't. It was a stupid remark to make given that he had to know it would be distorted, but there is no way to claim he called the troops Nazis unless you just see whatever you want to see.
Now if I read this to you and didn’t tell you that it was a blogger describing Dick Durbin’s speech, you most certainly believe this must have been posted by a half-baked hack who listens to Michael Bolton records and has no concern for the tenets of logical rhetoric. Sadly, this is not the case.

See that?: I never actually called John Cole a half-baked hack who listens to Michael Bolton records. Free and clear, baby! (BTW, at my peril, I defended Cole's free-speech position last week).
Iran elects a new president – “Iran's newly elected president says his goal is to make the country "a modern, advanced, powerful and Islamic" model for the world.”

One of these words is not like the other. Can you guess which one? I knew you could.
Sign-off for the Capital Gang - The final show was tonight after 17 years on the air. I used to love the show but they made two critical mistakes: 1.) the half-hour show never should have been extended to a dragged-out hour 2.) the ideological representation on the show should have remained two conservatives and two liberals.
The ole’ switcheroo

Opinion Journal suggests sending National Security advisor Steven Hadley to the United Nations and appointing (not subject to Senate approval) John Bolton as NSA:

The White House temptation will be to cut its political losses with a recess appointment. But while Mr. Bolton was the immediate target, the worst damage here has been to Mr. Bush's own political prestige and foreign policy. One of his most loyal supporters is being denied confirmation for nothing more than promoting Mr. Bush's policy too vigorously. He shouldn't take it lying down.
Last week I said it was virtually certain that Bolton would receive a recess appointment but now I’m not so sure. Notwithstanding the Democrats’ obstruction, Bush is deferential to the role of Congress as a whole, as evidenced by his incapability to veto a single bill so far. Maybe Bill Frist will work out a deal but I doubt it. It’s either a recess appointment next week or nothing.

ExtraStrata-Sphere says the recess appointment is coming and it’s “all win” for Bush.

Friday, June 24, 2005

The Superficial: “Tom Cruise passionate about life. Also crazy as hell.” Sounds about right. (Also, Jessica Simpson is so hot OMG)

Extra – More on Scientologists vs. psychiatrists from Slate. If you don’t understand the anti-psycho passion of high school dropout Tom Cruise, go here for more information.
BTW - Any top 100 movie quotes list that doesn’t include “This one goes to 11” and “You’ll shoot your eye out” is a complete fraud.
Ten songs you never get tired of

Normally I ignore these lists/meme challenges, but Dr. T got my blood up with his rotten list. Those cloying Five for Fighting songs? Annie Lennox’s plodding “No more I love you’s”? Ugh.

Well, without thinking about it too much, here’s my list with (as proscribed) five different music genres and ten different artists:

Rock: “Sick of Myself” – Matthew Sweet
“The Mayor of Simpleton” – XTC

Pop: “Deep Purple” – Nino Tempo & April Stevens
“Undun” – Guess Who

R&B: “Without Love” – Clyde McPhatter
“Papa was a Rolling Stone” – The Temptations

Country: “I’m so Lonesome I could Cry” – Hank Williams
“Blue Moon of Kentucky” – Elvis Presley

Classical: “Polonaise in A-flat major” – Chopin
“Jacksons Monk and Rowe” – Elvis Costello and the Brodsky Quartet

Karl RoveBoy Genius (here’s more from RCP)
That’s the second biggest table I’ve ever seen

BBC – “A table and chair the size of a house have been captivating visitors to north London's Hampstead Heath. The 30ft (9m) sculpture, The Writer, will be on Parliament Hill for four months before returning to Italy.”
Liberals are conservatives and vice versa

Here’s Charles Krauthammer with “A party without ideas”:

What has happened to the Democrats over the past few decades is best captured by the phrase (coined by Kevin Phillips) "reactionary liberalism." Spent of new ideas, they have but one remaining idea: to hang on to the status quo at all costs.
And here’s George Will commenting on the Kelo case with “Damaging Deference”:

Liberalism triumphed yesterday. Government became radically unlimited in seizing the very kinds of private property that should guarantee individuals a sphere of autonomy against government.
The one constant in life is the Congress will continue to spend too much money no matter who’s in charge.
The Iraq generals - Lorie Byrd on the Kennedy-Rumsfeld showdown

Also, the Corner is reporting that President Bush will be doing a primetime address on Iraq next week.
Round and round – I haven’t been following the whole Rove-Democrats thing because it already seems like old news. Karl Rove says something disparaging about the Democrats; feeling hurt, they demand an apology. Dog bites man. Captain Ed, however, has a long, annotated post on the brouhaha: “That the party of Harry Truman has descended to this jaw-dropping level of political cowardice and sheer crybaby status boggles the mind.” Heh-heh. (Hat tip: Grapevine).
What’d he say? – Why I got a “D” in Introduction to Electrical Engineering: “Unclear on American Campus: What the Foreign Teacher Said
For Viking Pundit fanatics - Now that I have DSL, I'm currently in the process of shedding my ties to America Online (changing settings on Amazon and Ebay, etc.) If you were sending messages to MadSwede10 - at - aol - dot - com, direct your hate mail to ealindholm - at - msn - dot - com. Thank you. (I expect to cut all ties to AOL around August.)
Most cliché attack line award

This one goes to Massachusetts rep Ed Markey, on the battle over PBS funding:

''Republicans, keep your hands off of Big Bird," said Representative Edward J. Markey, a Malden Democrat. ''There are very few issues that touch ordinary families as passionately and clearly as public television. People love it."
Yes, people do love it. People also love gummi bears; shall the government subsidize them also? Tomorrow Markey and his drinking buddy Ted Kennedy will be griping about the budget deficit instead of asking why the government needs to own a television network or a national rail service that loses millions of dollars a year. Whatever happened to Gramm-Rudman anyway?

Here’s the lesson for fiscal conservatives and libertarians alike: always oppose any new spending programs because they will (almost) never go away.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

We’re from the government and we’re here to…seize your home

I know I’m coming into this topic pretty late (had to mow the lawn) and there are already extensive roundups on the Kelo decision on Instapundit and Michelle Malkin. The Volokh Conspiracy adds some thoughts and also links to Justice Thomas’ dissent, which is eloquent in its jurisprudence:

I cannot agree. If such “economic development” takings are for a “public use,” any taking is, and the Court has erased the Public Use Clause from our Constitution, as Justice O’Connor powerfully argues in dissent. Ante, at 1—2, 8—13. I do not believe that this Court can eliminate liberties expressly enumerated in the Constitution and therefore join her dissenting opinion. Regrettably, however, the Court’s error runs deeper than this. Today’s decision is simply the latest in a string of our cases construing the Public Use Clause to be a virtual nullity, without the slightest nod to its original meaning. In my view, the Public Use Clause, originally understood, is a meaningful limit on the government’s eminent domain power. Our cases have strayed from the Clause’s original meaning, and I would reconsider them.
I recall some clown said that Clarence Thomas’ opinions are “poorly written.” Wrong again, loser.
Quote of the Day – From Jeff Jacoby’s “The power of presidential solidarity”: “It is fashionable in some circles to invoke the United Nations as the touchstone of moral authority, but realists know better. They look to the United States, not the UN, as the great moral engine in world affairs. Like the Lebanese who waved a US flag during the demonstrations in Beirut earlier this year, like the ''Goddess of Liberty" in Tiananmen Square in 1989, the young Azerbaijani with his poster is a reminder that America and its message of freedom and individual dignity have an almost limitless capacity to inspire those who are denied them.”
Nancy Pelosi’s acid trip to an alternate reality

House minority leader Nancy Pelosi and whip Steny Hoyer have a letter to the WashPost, objecting to the recent editorial “Where are the Democrats?” In Bizarro World, it’s the Democrats who recognize Social Security’s solvency problem:

Democrats have repeatedly and unequivocally stated from the start of this debate that Social Security faces a long-term challenge that must be addressed.
And have solutions:

We are eager to discuss how to make Social Security strong into the next century, and we have many ideas on how to do so.
Many, many, many ideas. Boy howdy, you wouldn’t believe the ideas we have! Oh my stars, the ideas. Wait until you hear them, these ideas, which we have. It’s an embarrassment of ideas. Whew.

Extra: More ideas and positive feedback from Democrats Schumer and Bingaman, who won’t let some stupid reporter get in the way of their ideas. No sir!
Urban legend comes to life - Lotus Esprit Turbo auctioned on Ebay for a half-pound (about 90 cents) by angry wife. Wicked cool.
Not your parents’ Democratic party – Funny propaganda video over at, esp. the Jon Stewart riff at the end. (Overheard on Bill Bennett.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Rehnquist to retire on Monday? – That’s the rumor over at Red State.

Update - Or is it O’Connor?
A waste of timeHouse backs ban on flag burning

LGF agrees: “More free speech, not less. Always the best policy, for so many reasons.” Preach it, brother. The Supreme Court has already ruled that - as repulsive as it might sound - flag burning is a First Amendment right. Let the hippies burn 'em - nobody cares what they think anyway.
Slouching towards reform - From the WashPost “New Plan for Social Security endorsed”: “After watching the Social Security debate from the sidelines, House Republican leaders yesterday embraced a new approach to Social Security restructuring that would add individual investment accounts to the program, but on a much smaller scale than the Bush administration favors.”
Social Security: “Where are the Democrats?”

From a must-read editorial in today’s WashPost:

No doubt Democrats' political instincts will be against engaging at this point: Why bail out Mr. Bush now, the strategists will argue, and let him claim that he led the way to putting Social Security on the path to solvency? Why endorse spinach when it's so much more fun -- and politically useful -- to point out the spinach in the other side's plan? To a certain extent, Mr. Bush is reaping what he's sowed here: Having given Democrats no credit when they cooperated with him -- indeed, having campaigned against them -- he's not entitled to much sympathy when he now complains of their obstructionism.

But there is also the little matter of what's right for the country. Failing to act now will make the problem harder to fix down the road; cuts or tax increases will have to be steeper the longer the problem goes unaddressed. Yes, Medicare is a bigger, thornier problem, but that's a reason to get Social Security done, not to ignore the issue and let it fester.

Democratic lawmakers keep insisting that they take the Social Security problem seriously and want to deal with it. This seems a good time to start.
I said months ago that taking private accounts off the table would be the Democrats’ worst nightmare because it would finally lay bare the fact that they care less about saving Social Security than scoring political points.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

We’re only beginning to comprehend his impactRest in peace, microchip inventor Jack Kilby
Young Americans say “Let my payroll tax go”

I don’t know how I missed this Social Security poll the other day. Rich Lowry summarizes here, but this graf really gets to the heart of the issue:

But the sharply polarized debate over Social Security's long-term solvency, which has waxed and waned for more than a generation, has left its mark, particularly on the young. Fifty-one percent of respondents said they did not think Social Security would have the money to pay the benefits they expect when they retire; 70 percent of those under 45 felt that way.
Poll after poll shows that pessimism rising inversely with age. But, as I like to say, Social Security is the retirement plan so good they had to make it mandatory.
The pol can’t help it – Let me, very briefly, say something in defense of Dick Durbin who apologized for his remarks today. He’s not really in the top #10 of the people “screwing up” America, he’s not even important enough to make the top #100. As Ace points out in this post, he’s a victim of the liberal cocoon that envelops the Democrats and urges them to call Republicans evil, white Christians and compare U.S. soldiers to Nazis. We should regard them more out of sorrow than anger.
Witten’s Dog, Bending Unit #1729 and P=NPThe mathematics of Futurama
Up, up, up! - From the Heritage Foundation: “The NOdometer display shows the outstanding debt owed to the Social Security Trust Fund. Congress will have to raise taxes, reduce Social Security benefits, reduce other spending, or borrow more when it comes time to repay the Trust Fund--starting in 2017, according to the Social Security Administration.” (Hat tip: Southern Appeal)

Monday, June 20, 2005

John Bolton: the rocks upon which the Democrats wreck their ships

Here’s an analysis of the whole Bolton issue via Fred Kaplan on Slate. I’ve emphasized a critical part:

Will Bush escalate this battle to the next level and simply brush aside the Senate? My guess is, he will. Otherwise, why would he have taken the fight as far as he has? Why would he have kept today's cloture vote on the schedule? Surely he and his whips knew they didn't have enough support to win. The Senate Democrats had made a case against cloture on two grounds—not just on Bolton's dreadful qualifications for the job, but also on Bush's refusal to turn over documents relevant to the Senate's investigation. It was clear that, since last month's motion, the White House had lost—not gained—ground. Most likely, the president and his spokesmen will now repeat, with renewed intensity, what they've been saying for a while now—that the Democrats are obstructionists, that a majority of the Senate favors Bolton, and so he should simply be placed in the job if need be.
I’d like to believe that the American people agree with the concept that a President should be able to choose the members of his administration. Executive branch nominees are rarely rebuffed. I think you have to go all the way back to John Tower in the first Bush administration who was rejected for the Secretary of Defense position under a cloud of allegations concerning ties with defense contractors and (alleged) alcoholism. John Bolton doesn’t come close to the level of disqualification and it’s become obvious in the words of John Podhoretz that “The Democrats have decided that blocking Bolton is the test case of their continuing relevance.”

Just so, but Kaplan misses the big picture. By staging another failed cloture vote by the Senate Democrats, Dubya is setting up “filibuster fatigue.” Between the chronic blocking of democratic up-or-down votes and the agreement to only filibuster nominees for “extraordinary circumstances,” it will be extremely difficult for Democrats to block a Supreme Court nominee. While the Democrats expend energy blocking that all-important position of U.N. ambassador, Bush is keeping an eye on the judicial branch.

In other words, given that John Bolton is almost certain to get a recess appointment, it’s time to chill once again.
Update on the Cedar Revolution - "Lebanon votes for Hariri and an end to Syrian influence": “Voters have emphatically rejected Syria's hold over Lebanon by giving the anti-Syrian opposition a majority after the final election round.” Good news.
Another filibuster – “Senate Democrats block Bolton confirmation” Jayson predicts we’re heading for a recess appointment. Normally I would hope for an up-or-down vote but Biden and Dodd are completely irrational. Any information they’re demanding has already been vetted by the Senate Intelligence Committee. It’ll never be enough.
Not a chance – Senator Joe Biden (D-“Meet the Press” green room) wants to be President. He’ll have to beat the Senate curse and the Rule of 14.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

The Democrats’ image problem

Here’s Kate O’Beirne on the Capital Gang:

Senator Durbin issued a stunning premeditated slander of American troops that will be enormously helpful as it gets repeated throughout the world and used by our enemies. The politics of this I really don't understand. The Democrats have a real image problem. We can agree or disagree, and we have over the years, about whether or not it's legitimate, but we all agree, I think, they got an image problem. They are soft on national security. They're soft on crime -- in this case, terrorism. They're sort of hostile to the military. And they have this instinct where they want to blame America first.

Dick Durbin this week was the embodiment of that problem the Democrats have, and then Nancy Pelosi argues Guantanamo should be closed because to do so would give us a clean slate in the Muslim world. Now, she can't possibly believe that. What do we have, a clean slate, September 10, 2001? I don't get the politics of it. No wonder the Democrats complain about the distraction of having the media cover what so many leading Democrats are saying these days that so damage the Democratic Party.
And here’s Mark Steyn again:
In the hermetically sealed echo chamber between the Dem leadership, the mainstream US media, Hollywood, Ivy League “intellectuals” and European sophisticates, the gulag cracks are utterly unexceptional. But, for a political party that keeps losing elections because it has less and less appeal outside a few coastal enclaves, Durbin’s remarks are devastating. The Democrats flopped in 2002 and 2004 because they were seen as incoherent on national security issues. Explicitly branding themselves as the “terrorists’ rights” party is unlikely to improve their chances for 2006.
A Democratic pollster (who worked for John Kerry) confirms the “Michael Moore” faction is damaging the party:
Americans now give the Republican Party a 15-point edge on national security, according to the Century Foundation poll; only 51 percent of Democrats say they trust their party more on "maintaining a strong military."

Many factors affect party reputations, but the perceived passivity of the Democratic base contributes to this security gap, which Republican campaigns are happy to use.
Which leads me to John Bolton’s nomination, scheduled for yet another vote today. I have argued, along with others, that U.N. ambassador is a “fairly insignificant post.” As Robert Novak details in “The Bolton Charade” it’s become obvious that Senators Dodd and Biden have no genuine concern for more information, they’re just seeking to block Bolton’s nomination, no matter what.

But to what end? I supposed they can claim they thwarted Bush’s choice for a minor administration position (although Dubya may do a recess appointment in July). In the process, the Democrats will appear obstructionist and more concerned about preserving the status quo at a dysfunctional United Nations. By giving more deference to the U.N. over our own commander-in-chief, it's no wonder that Americans distrust the Democrats on matters of national security.
Happy Father's Day

Today's Boston Globe had an article about the "men's movement" as framed in the "Iron John" books by Robert Bly. I don't get all this touchy-feely idea of men (men!) getting in touch with their feelings. Give me "Dad" from "The Wonder Years": always angry, unwavering, and unambiguous. Runner-up: "Red" from "That 70s Show."
Viking Pundit: Addicted to rhetorical questions? I just noticed my last three posts all contain a question mark in the title. I'll work on that.

Or will I?
Who doesn’t love getting cash? – The NY Times published a lengthy, tendentious article about how wonderful the Social Security benefit is to a whole cross-section of Americans. I’ll admit, I couldn’t read the whole thing. Who doesn’t love government benefits? We all love shiny new aircraft carriers, prescription drug benefits and Pell grants. But, as taxpayers, we’re paying for this stuff anyway.

Americans really need to ask a fundamental question about retirement benefits: would you rather plow 12.4% of your income into payroll taxes for your entire life or place that money into a mutual fund that you control? And if – God forbid – you should die before you turn 65 (or 67) that nest egg will be passed on to your family. Anyway, the Ankle-biting Pundits have a response to the NYT editorial news analysis.
Can we question your patriotism now?

Mark Steyn unloads:

The senator from Illinois' comparisons are as tired as they're grotesque. They add nothing useful to the debate. But around the planet, folks naturally figure that, if only 100 people out of nearly 300 million get to be senators, the position must be a big deal. Hence, headlines in the Arab world like "U.S. Senator Stands By Nazi Remark." That's al-Jazeera, where the senator from al-Inois is now a big hero -- for slandering his own country, for confirming the lurid propaganda of his country's enemies. Yes, folks, American soldiers are Nazis and American prison camps are gulags: don't take our word for it, Senator Bigshot says so.

This isn't a Republican vs Democrat thing; it's about senior Democrats who are so over-invested in their hatred of a passing administration that they've signed on to the nuttiest slurs of the lunatic fringe. It would be heartening to think that Durbin will himself now be subjected to some serious torture. Not real torture, of course; I don't mean using Pol Pot techniques and playing the Celine Dion Christmas album really loud to him. But he should at least be made a little uncomfortable over what he's done -- in a time of war, make an inflammatory libel against his country's military that has no value whatsoever except to America's enemies. Shame on him, and shame on those fellow senators and Democrats who by their refusal to condemn him endorse his slander.
I’m still opposed to an official censure of Durbin for his inane statements, but I wholeheartedly support and encourage harassment and ridicule. For example, if you’re in an air-conditioned room with the Senator, you could say: “Man, it’s colder than a Siberian forced labor camp in here!” Stuff like that.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Is there a problem, officer? - Pizza parlor owner transferred money to bounty hunter to kill Osama: “The owner of a pizza parlor here illegally transferred money to a bounty hunter on a rogue mission to kill terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, federal authorities said.”
Free speech includes the right to say stupid things

I don’t approve of the heavy profanity in this post, but I certainly agree with the sentiment. John Cole condemns the pack mentality call to censure Dick Durbin for something he said:

Put down the kool-aid for a second. Do ill-received remarks really rise to the level of censure? Of course not.
Whatever happened to first amendment rights? Durbin has the Constitutional right to make a complete ass out of himself in the well of the Senate. He succeeded and almost certainly supplied talking points to our enemies in the world. But this knee-jerk reaction to punish speech is beyond the pale. Settle the matter at the polls in November.
Sounds like a bad law firm: Biden, McCain & Dodd - The lineup for the Sunday shows is on Red State and once again, these three will appear. How depressing.
Dora the Explorer is backstage, warming up - Sean from American Mind finds nothing wrong with cutting back on federal funding for PBS. The days where Sesame Street was the only kids show around have long since passed.
Ayn Rand wins – “A Jolt for Europe: Failed talks expose problems”: “The leaders of the 25 European Union nations went home after a failed two-day summit meeting in anger and in shame, as domestic politics and national interests defeated lofty notions of sacrifice and solidarity for the benefit of all.” As well they should. Grow up.

Extra – More on French-English tensions via Expat Yank.
DSL rules - You're right, Ryne. How did I live before broadband? Tonight I loaded the Zoom page (PBS) for my kids and asked: "Did you notice any difference?" The response: "Oh yeah!" Just like Kool-Aid.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Bizarro World update

Black is white and up is down - Marty Peretz of the New Republic praises Bush & Bolton:

Which brings me to John Bolton. Whatever his would-be tormentors say, he is hardly being opposed because he's a nasty man or because he delivered a speech not vetted by the State Department or because he played rough with people lower on his totem pole or because he didn't believe some intelligence emanating from the CIA. (This last is actually a sign of his wisdom. The CIA has been peddling feeble and dangerous intelligence for decades.) Bolton's offense is to believe that American democracy has enemies; that words alone will not hinder their weapons; and that the United Nations is an alliance of those too weak-willed to stand up and fight for the good. Bolton believes in the sovereign power of democracies because they are responsive and responsible to their peoples. The United Nations cannot even pretend to embody such legitimacy.
Wow. Peretz even throws in a dig at Hillary at the end. He’s not going to be a popular figure around TNR for a couple of weeks.
Over thereEurope’s painful summit and What Europe really needs "The Continent has turned its back on both the past and the future"
Dick – Michelle Malkin has a comprehensive roundup of reaction (and non-reaction) to Senator Dick Durbin’s comments equating Gitmo to the Khmer Rouge. And here’s an extra that Michelle may have missed: did Durbin change his official remarks in the Senate record? Conspiratorial minds want to know!
The class struggle - Dale Franks has a long, somewhat complicated, but compelling counter-counter-analysis of David Cay Johnston’s article on class structure in the NY Times. Also, here’s Larry Kudlow with “History tells folly of rich hunts.”

Thursday, June 16, 2005

BRB - I was going to get caught up on all the latest news tonight, but I just received an E-mail that my DSL service is now active. Verizon finally wore me down with their relentless pitch. So we'll see how this works out. Later.

Follow-up (11:30pm) - Success! I'm styling at high-speed.
Viking Pundit falls to #548 on new Ecosystem, resorts to desperate measures

Here’s a story about Hooters: “Trio says Hooters stole their business plan” – “Three former aviation students sued Hooters Air on Wednesday, claiming the startup carrier used their business plan from a class project as the blueprint for launching the airline but never compensated them.”

Wow, that’s hot! Do you know who I’d like to see in a Hooters uniform? Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Jessica Alba, Aishwarya Rai, Jessica Simpson and Angelina Jolie, who may or may not be dating Brad Pitt.

Link Viking Pundit for happy extra good luck! Go [regional sports team]! Beat [arch rival]! Wheeeee!!!
That girl! – The evolution of Katie Couric
Things that can’t go on forever, don’t – Here’s Jeff Jacoby on GM’s healthcare dilemma: “Is General Motors an automobile manufacturer that provides healthcare benefits for its workers? Or is it a health insurance provider that also happens to make cars?”
Where are the Daniel Patrick Moynihans?

Forget about the 435-member House of Representatives, which has always resembled a rugby scrum. The U.S. Senate is supposed to be the home of statesmen with solomn demeanors, serious men weighed down by the responsibility of government. Where is the quiet dignity of a Moynihan, or a Bill Bradley, or even JFK? It’s been supplanted by Democrats who have been driven half-insane:

Sen. Dick Durbin refused to apologize Wednesday for comments he made on the Senate floor comparing the actions of American soldiers at Guantanamo Bay to Nazis, Soviet gulags and a ''mad regime'' like Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot's in Cambodia.
Now the Senate minority party is represented by Durbin, “Loser” Reid, that crazy coot Byrd, and wannabes Kerry and Clinton. The Wall Street Journal can’t find a voice of moderation among them: “The Doughnut Democrats Whatever happened to the party’s middle?”

Many conservatives have watched the left's hostile takeover of the Democratic Party with great joy. We don't share that enthusiasm. The country would benefit from two vibrant parties competing on innovative freedom-enhancing initiatives. The problem is that the Democrats are running on empty when it comes to policy ideas other than big government, and this lack of competition has had deleterious effects on Republican behavior, as witnessed by their lack of any spending discipline.

Howard Dean observed recently that he hopes to "galvanize the Democrats into being the party of individual freedom and personal responsibility." That's a wonderful idea--just the kind that would put the Democrats back on the road to national viability. But that leaves unanswered the question of how a party that opposes voluntary personal accounts for Social Security, school choice for parents, tax and welfare reform, free trade and limited government broadly defined can sell itself as the freedom and responsibility party.
Senate Democrats should take a hard look at this graph and consider whether an idea-free ideology and endless filibustering have any chance in reversing recent trends.

Extra - More on the left wing crackup by Mark at Decision08.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Frequent fliers oppose lifting cell phone ban – “But passengers oppose lifting the ban because they fear it would invite obnoxious babble in the close confines of a jet cabin.” Exactly right.
Preserving an inequitable system

From Reason - “Social Security: Bad for the Democrats

The overwhelming support for the status quo from the political left is shocking, and should be appalling to members of the Democratic Party or anyone who holds the liberal values that [Democratic congressman Robert] Wexler extols. Bringing the system into solvency through tax hikes on labor and productivity will do untold damage to America's economic growth in order to protect a system that systematically discriminates against core constituencies of the Democratic Party, a system that disproportionately benefits white women who have never worked a day in their lives over all other groups. Is that a status quo that the Democratic Party wants to be associated with?
I’m sure they haven’t thought that far ahead.
Canada – the new Saudi Arabia?

Interesting article in the WashPost on petroleum extracted from tar sands in Canada – Where oil is mined, not pumped – High demand for petroleum makes a boomtown in northern Alberta: “Factoring in the oil sands, Canada's proven oil reserves are reported to be nearly 180 billion barrels, second only to Saudi Arabia.” That's a lot of oil, eh? Technological advancements have made the process profitable when oil is over $20/barrel...and it is.
Europe can’t save itself

As much as I fixate on entitlement spending and America’s economic future, at least I can console myself that whatever problems exist in the USA, they pale in comparison to the train wreck of Europe. The fiscal strain of an aging population is much worse on the Continent where the economic growth and birth rate are too low while the unemployment and tax rates are too high. Robert Samuelson surveys the landscape in “The End of Europe”:

A few countries (Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands) have acted, and there are differences between Eastern and Western Europe. But in general Europe is immobilized by its problems. This is the classic dilemma of democracy: Too many people benefit from the status quo to change it; but the status quo isn't sustainable. [n.b. AARP - ed.] Even modest efforts in France and Germany to curb social benefits have triggered backlashes. Many Europeans -- maybe most -- live in a state of delusion. Believing things should continue as before, they see almost any change as menacing. In reality, the new E.U. constitution wasn't radical; neither adoption nor rejection would much alter everyday life. But it symbolized change and thereby became a lightning rod for many sources of discontent (over immigration in Holland, poor economic growth in France).
Some economists have suggested that generous retirement programs encourage workers to retire early, which places a burden on young workers, who then put off having children due to the financial strain of a family. The depressed birth rate has set up a demographic crisis; see “Europe’s population implosion” in the Economist:

Combine a shrinking population with rising life expectancy, and the economic and political consequences are alarming. In Europe there are currently 35 people of pensionable age for every 100 people of working age. By 2050, on present demographic trends, there will be 75 pensioners for every 100 workers; in Spain and Italy the ratio of pensioners to workers is projected to be one-to-one. Since pensions in Germany, France and Italy are paid out of current tax revenue, the obvious implication is that taxes will have to soar to fund the pretty generous pensions that Europeans have got used to. The cost is already stretching government finances. Deutsche Bank calculates that average earners in Germany are already paying around 29% of their wages into the state pension pot, while the figure in Italy is close to 33%.

Governments are in a bind. It is no accident that in the past year France, Austria, Italy and Germany have all experienced angry outbreaks of labour unrest, sparked by attempts to make their pension systems less generous. But the longer governments wait, the worse the problem. Pension obligations will only get more onerous; and as voters age it will become ever harder to persuade them to cut pensions back. A struggle for resources will emerge between generations. Pensioners will press for higher taxes to fund the pensions and health care they believe they have been promised. Younger workers will demand cuts in increasingly onerous taxes.
Or these younger workers will immigrate to America for the economic opportunity coupled with a lower tax rate. Of course a tide of young, skilled, European workers would only deepen Europe’s problems while alleviating ours.
The unDean - Sometimes I think former congressman Martin Frost is running a stealth campaign for Howard Dean’s position. Here’s his rational article on Fox News titled “Democrats must reconnect with middle class.”
I would add “Stacy’s Mom” by Fountains of Wayne – The 25 essential summer songs by Kris at Dummocrats. (Anyone suggesting “Soak up the Sun” will be shot on sight).

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The party of the common man

Tonight, the Democrats sent me (me!) a fundraising letter criticizing the Republicans for, um, fundraising:

While Republican leaders wine and dine the super rich, Chairman Dean will spend his day today talking with ordinary Americans. He will be calling regular folks who have given $25 -- not $25,000 -- and listening to what you have to say about our party, our country, and our future.
A latter-day convert, Howard Dean is on the rubber chicken circuit in flyover country because campaign finance laws have cut back the ability of the Democrats to take unlimited soft money from George Soros and the Hollywood set. In fact, as this USA Today article details, the GOP is the party in touch with the common people:

The law requires the political parties to survive solely on regulated "hard money" donations, with a limit of $25,000. They must wean themselves from the six- and seven-figure "soft money" donations that they used to solicit from corporations, labor unions and wealthy individuals.

That task is proving easier for the Republicans because they have a much larger base of small donors, built up over the decades they were out of power in Washington. Democrats, on the other hand, had become more reliant on the now-banned big donations, which they reaped from labor unions and Hollywood liberals.
It’s bizarre, really, that everyday Americans are failing to respond to the Democrats’ slogan of “Vote for us you drooling morons!”
Noting this study on widening income disparity in Canada, Scrivener asks: "Did the Reagan tax cuts cause income inequality in Canada too? " The global reach of our 40th President is truly astounding.
Coming soon to the WB - I’m only linking this because I thought the exact same thing: “Michael Jackson and Mike Tyson should do a reality TV show together to bail themselves out of debt.”
The tipping point – Bench Memos surveys the D.C. Circuit now that Thomas Griffith has been confirmed.
Dean Democrats vow to fight for against ideas

Here’s Mort Kondracke in “Negative 'Deanism' Hurts Democrats' Rebound Prospects”:

All this evidence suggests that what the public wants from Washington is action on the issues that concern it most - the economy, gasoline prices and Iraq. Bush has policies and proposals for dealing with the problems, even if the public doesn't necessarily like them.

To the extent that Democrats do have alternatives, no one knows about them because they spend so much time going negative, and, going over the top. If there's one thing that turns off independents and moderates, it's negative name-calling. It may work in the thick of a campaign, but Deanism is a turnoff for party-building.
Ex-Donkey links to a Third Way study indicating that the middle-class is trending away from the Democrats because the conservatives’ “ability to win the war of ideas”:

As the Democrats grapple with their party's identity and try to come up with new and clever ways to attack President Bush and the Republicans, the GOP is growing its base with an optimistic and positive message of "growth, hope and opportunity."
Finally, here’s David Broder on “Meet the Press” this past Sunday:

MR. RUSSERT: Let me show you one last poll number. And this is approval of U.S. Congress: approve, 31; disapprove 64.
David, is it enough for the Democrats to say, "Let's just hold on and hope that they want to throw the bums out," or do the Democrats have to come forward and say, "Mr. President, you have your Social Security plan. Here's ours. Mr. President, you have your vision of Iraq, here's ours"?
MR. BRODER: The Democrats need to be able to say something positive to the American people, which they have largely failed to do so far. And this takes us back to Howard Dean because by focusing so much on his own comments rather than looking for a way to give the party a policy voice, he's really done them a disservice.

Follow-up – Bush slams obstructionist Democrats at fundraiser.
Today’s Social Security must-read

John Tierney in the NY Times: “The Old and the Rested”:

Americans now feel entitled to spend nearly a third of their adult lives in retirement. Their jobs are less physically demanding than their parents' were, but they're retiring younger and typically start collecting Social Security by age 62. Most could keep working - fewer than 10 percent of people 65 to 75 are in poor health - but, like Bartleby the Scrivener, they prefer not to.

The problem isn't that Americans have gotten intrinsically lazier. They're just responding to a wonderfully intentioned system that in practice promotes greed and sloth. Social Security is widely thought of as a kumbaya program that unites Americans in caring for the elderly, but it actually creates ugly political battles among generations.

With the help of groups like AARP, the elderly have learned to fight for the right to retire earlier and get bigger benefits than the previous generation - all financed by making succeeding generations pay higher taxes than they ever did themselves.
Tierney sums up with the example of Chile where personal accounts have created incentives for people to work and save, not retire and tax.
Just like clockwork

Sure as the sun rises in the East whenever there’s a heat wave you can depend on the New York Times to write an editorial about global warming. Everybody knows it’s a problem! President Bush is dragging his feet! Why won’t he take steps now to prevent calamity in the future?!?

Then you tell the Times that the mathematical insolvency of Social Security meets the same criteria of a long-term problem and she looks around and whistles.

The editorial is an object lesson in moralistic grandstanding: “something must be done!” But what and at what cost? Betsy Newmark links to Bjorn Lomberg’s review on the cost and tradeoffs of climate policies which – at best – spend billions to delay global warming by a couple of years. It’s a fundamental question that fails to penetrate the NY Times editorial page: should we spend $150 billion a year to implement Kyoto or should we spend that money for agricultural development and disease research? Unfortunately, the Cult of Kyoto more resembles a religion than an objective movement.

Monday, June 13, 2005

At a loss for words - I feel like I've been running out of topics lately. Social Security is stalled somewhere in Congress. There has been little progress on the domestic agenda; Iraq is on autopilot. I'm not writing about that freak, or the Screamer, or Senator Splunge. I'm bored with Hillary and tired about John Bolton. There's nothing good on TV. Eh, let me look around the blogs.
Iranian women stand up for their rights – Hey, isn’t that Eva Longoria? (second pic from the bottom)
Lileks goes full screed ahead on Time magazine’s description of “torture” at Gitmo. It involves stern women, puppet shows, Christina Aguilera and “light pushing” …just like junior high.

Extra – More from InDC and Quick.
Social Security roundup

Yes, they’re still talking about reform on Capitol Hill – “GOP looking for agreement on Social Security.”

From the Christian Science Monitor – “Security is missing from the Social Security debate”: “Developing more inclusive asset building policies is a prerequisite to offering each American the opportunity to increase their security.”

In USA Today, Robert Pozen writes: “Why my plan to fix Social Security will work.” He correctly concludes: “Once the baby boomers begin to retire in 2012, it may be too late to modify their benefit formulas. The window for Social Security reform is open, but it's closing fast.”

And the NY Times gives us the quote of the day from “In Overhaul of Social Security, Age Is the Elephant in the Room”:

Glen Bolger, a Republican pollster, agreed: "Forty might be the new 30, but they don't necessarily believe that 70 is the new 65."
If 6 was 9.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

You’ll never out-Satan America

Mark Steyn wryly notes that Islamics (and Amnesty International) freak out over Koran handling at Gitmo while dismissing reports of mosque destruction in Zimbabwe and elsewhere: “Quran desecration crock a win for Jihad spin docs

The point is the world's Muslims seem entirely cool with Infidel Bob razing a mosque. Unlike the fallout over Newsweek's fraudulent story about the Quran being flushed down a toilet, no excitable young men went bananas in Pakistan; no western progressives berated Mugabe for his "cultural insensitivity." And sadly most of the big shot Muslim spokespersons were still too busy flaying the Bush administration to whip their subjects into a frenzy over Hatcliffe Extension's pile of Islamic rubble.
Karl Rove was probably behind that anyway.
A good day to sleep in – Via Mark Kilmer, here’s the Sunday morning lineup. Joe Biden again and Brad Pitt. Is this a joke? Yes, yes it is.

Follow-up – Here’s the Sunday morning review via Red State.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Consensus congealing

Fred Barnes joins the Coalition of the Chillin’:

When the agreement on judicial nominations was struck in May by seven Republican and seven Democratic senators, many conservatives agreed with Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid that it was a victory for Democrats. They were wrong. Since the agreement, the three prime targets of Democrats--Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown, William Pryor--have all been confirmed, plus two other less controversial nominees. And more conservatives are in the confirmation pipeline. So while Bush's chances of creating personal investment accounts [for Social Security] have faded, his goal of shifting the ideological tilt of the federal judiciary is closer at hand.
Barnes notes that the feckless tactics of Harry Reid and the senseless antics of Howard Dean are just icing on the cake.
Star Wars: ROTS

Finally managed to see Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith tonight. Funny moment with about five minutes left: the film jammed in the projector and burned on screen, which is something I've only seen in movies about movies (e.g. Cinema Paradiso). Well, the projector must be on a power switch such that when it's turned off, the slideshow projector with movie trivia and such turns on automatically. At the very moment they turned off the movie projector, the next slide loaded in the machine was "Now Hiring!" The whole audience erupted with laughter.

Then they fixed the movie, we got to see the last five minutes, and they gave us "rain check" tickets anyway! Nice.

Friday, June 10, 2005

WILLisms asks: “Whatever happened to that emerging Democratic majority?”
Libertarian Leanings excerpts a column from the Wall Street Journal on how many Iraqis have been killed by terrorists - ordinary people going to work or praying in mosques.
The Big Mac Index – A $3 Big Mac in America costs only $1.27 in China but over $5 in Switzerland. The Economist regularly reviews the purchasing power of currency around to world versus the fast-food staple to determine true valuation.
Speaking of carnivals – I was watching a documentary on old-style American amusement parks (think wooden roller-coasters) and they said that European merry-go-rounds turn clockwise while American merry-go-rounds turn counter-clockwise. Know why?

Answer: on European merry-go-rounds, they wanted kids to mount the horses on the left, just like a real horse. Early American merry-go-rounds added the feature to grab for a brass ring and, since most people are right-handed, it made sense to turn the merry-go-round to the right.
Yo, yo, yo! – It’s the Carnival of the Chillin’

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Big man

From CNN – “Reid: No documents, no Bolton” – “Senate Democrats will not allow a vote on President Bush's choice for U.N. ambassador unless the White House hands over records of communications intercepts Bolton sought from the secretive National Security Agency, Minority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday.”

I get it: every time the Democrats are rolled on legislation or judicial nominees, they come back and beat up on Bolton. Then they pout: “we are too relevant!”

Somebody needs a time out. Or a blankee.
I’m tired – I mowed the lawn in 90 degree weather, if only because thunderstorms are forecast all week. Very humid. Very hot. Oof.
If Durbin’s unhappy, I’m happy

From the WashPost: “Three more appellate court justices approved by the Senate

The 14 Senate negotiators, who signed a two-page agreement last month, have said two other contested appellate court nominees -- William G. Myers III of Idaho and Henry W. Saad of Michigan -- will remain blocked. That is relatively small consolation, some Democrats said yesterday. "It is bitter medicine," Democratic Whip Richard J. Durbin (Ill.) said of the confirmations of Pryor, Brown and Owen. "I'm not happy with it."
Since the judicial agreement, five long-stalled nominees have all been confirmed by majority votes. The Democrats might have had better luck arguing against the nominees themselves instead of expending energy on their invented redefinition of the advice and consent clause in the Constitution.
Do you know what would be a cheaper way to fix Boston’s Big Dig?

They should paper-mache $100 bills to the tunnel walls to plug up the leaks. Here’s the latest Boston Globe article: “$37 million OK’d for Big Dig repairs

A preliminary review in November by State Auditor A. Joseph DeNucci and state Inspector General Gregory W. Sullivan determined that the Turnpike Authority had already authorized $35 million in leak-related payments that they termed ''only the tip of the iceberg."
Fifteen BILLION dollars later. Thanks Ted Kennedy!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Kris at Dummocrats on those filthy, filthy rich who pay all the taxes. Well, it seems that when taxes are cut, they get to keep some of that money. Meanwhile Americans who don’t pay taxes, don’t get any money back. Where is the justice in that?!?
Factoid of the day: “In addition, Harbour, a manufacturing and management consulting group based in Troy, Mich., reported it takes 27.9 man hours per vehicle to build a Toyota at one of that company's North American plants. For GM, the figure is 34.3 man hours, driving up costs and vehicle price tags.” That extra time means extra quality.
The benefit of perspective on the judicial compromise

Me, last month: “The GOP gained three up-or-down votes and the Democrats gained…what? The opportunity to (maybe) filibuster a Supreme Court justice. It’s a small-v victory for the Republicans, that's all.”

Dave Wissing, today: “I still don’t see exactly what the Democrats gained other than a temporary return to the status quo after being forced to allow votes on three nominees they absolutely hated.”

And now the WashPost has “Liberals rethinking Senate filibuster deal”:

Several conservative commentators described the "Gang of 14" deal as a setback for Frist (R-Tenn.). Frist reinforced that notion with speeches describing his disappointment that two of the renominated judges -- William G. Myers III of Idaho and Henry W. Saad of Michigan -- appeared unlikely to be confirmed. But others say several sharply conservative judges are now being seated, and it is far from clear that the "extraordinary circumstances" clause will enable Democrats to block future conservative nominees to the Supreme Court or elsewhere.

"It looks like in some ways Frist is seizing the initiative," said Carl W. Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond. Moreover, he said, liberals may be deluded in thinking the bipartisan deal will thwart another contentious nominee -- Brett M. Kavanaugh, the White House staff secretary -- who is not named in the two-page agreement.
UpdateJanice Rogers Brown confirmed (56-43) Extra commentary on the judicial votes today by Flip and here’s the official vote from the Senate. All 55 Republican senators plus Ben Nelson from Nebraska voted for confirmation.
Reforming Social Security

Robert Wexler: “Don’t cut benefits
Mike Pence: “Don’t raise taxes

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

It’s a bluff - Democrats say have votes to delay Bolton vote: “Senate Democrats back from a weeklong recess said on Tuesday they were holding firm against allowing a vote to confirm John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations until the Bush administration turns over more information on him.”

Ugh…more of this childish foot-stomping by the Democrats. There is no chance that the White House is going to put up with this game anymore. If the Democrats obstruct an up-or-down vote on Bolton, Bush should either give him a recess appointment or leave the seat empty. The debating club known as the United Nations will have to continue without us.
Chillin’ and winnin’

According to Roll Call (subscription required) the filibuster fight may have helped Bill Frist and the Republicans while forcing the Democrats onto their heels:

GOP pollster David Winston has a different take on where the country is headed than most major papers and pollsters would indicate. While most are looking for intra-party fighting on right, Winston finds:

The real story of the last month is the implosion of the Democratic Party — Reid in strategic retreat on judges, Democrat defections on key issues, Dean making headlines for all the wrong things and party fundraising in the tank.”
Advantage: Coalition of the Chillin’!

Update - Janice Rogers Brown will get her up-or-down vote now that the cloture vote passed today (65-32). She is certain to be confirmed by the Senate tomorrow (sorry, Washington Post!)
Senator Slacker – What can I say about John Kerry’s college grades or his Navy records that hasn’t been said already? That picture is just hideous.
Not good with money – Ex-Donkey explains why Howard Dean has been driving away big donors to the Democrats: they don’t trust the guy who raised a record amount of cash and then blew it all in Iowa.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Commercial radio is now officially dead

Growing up in northern New Jersey, I listened to the New York radio stations including the legendary rock station WNEW and the oldies station WCBS. WNEW flipped formats a couple years back and now WCBS has succumbed to market pressures and changed to an “Ipod on shuffle” format.

This past Friday afternoon, WCBS-FM 101.1 played their last song – “Summer Wind” by Frank Sinatra – and, without warning to their baby boomer audience, launched into “Fight for your Right (to Party)” by the Beastie Boys.

On Blogcritics, Michelle Catalano has an “obituary for a radio station.” (BTW, here’s my old review of “FM: The Rise and Fall of Rock Radio”). Viacom’s Les Moonves was taken aback by the response to the change: “God, it seemed like we had shot somebody when we changed the WCBS-FM format.”

Satellite radio, my cousins. That’s the way to go.
Free trade windfall

Two economists calculate the benefit of trade liberalization in “The Payoff from Globalization”:

Since World War II the United States has led the international quest to liberalize world trade and investment. With leadership from the White House, Congress has slashed the simple average tariff rate from 40 percent in 1946 to 4 percent today, and other industrial nations have done much the same. After a half-century of steady liberalization it is fair to ask, what do Americans have to show?

As it turns out, quite a lot. Using four different methods, we estimate that the combination of shrinking distances -- thanks to container ships, telecommunications and other new technologies -- and lower political barriers to international trade and investment have generated an increase in U.S. income of roughly $1 trillion a year (measured in 2003 dollars), or about 10 percent of gross domestic product. This translates to a gain in annual income of about $10,000 per household.
One of my favorite anecdotes on laissez-faire economics is about John Cowperthwaite, a British officer sent to oversee the post-World War II economy in Hong Kong. As P.J. O’Rourke detailed, Cowperthwaite’s strategy was to do…nothing. In fact, he took steps to avoid any government interference of Hong Kong’s economy which eventually grew to be one of the richest on earth.
I did not know that! - Via Tim in Phoenix here’s Amazing Race winner Joyce Agu (of Team Africa, Uchenna & Joyce) in her previous life on Star Trek: TNG. Thanks, Tim!
Slapping the invisible hand

As the coffin lid was being nailed down on the EU constitution, columnist Tom Friedman suggested that the Europeans were trying to hold back the tide of globalization: “It is interesting because French voters are trying to preserve a 35-hour workweek in a world where Indian engineers are ready to work a 35-hour day. Good luck.” The Wall Street Journal’s Opinion Journal chided the Europeans for clinging to a welfare state that produces both a high unemployment rate and anemic growth: “In sum, European nations penalize work and subsidize non-work, and, no surprise, they have gotten a lot of the latter and far too little of the former. By contrast, the U.S. model--allegedly cruel and "laissez-faire"--has done much better both by economic growth and worker opportunity.”

The problem with business opportunity in France is highlighted in this WashPost article: “What’s American and envied in France?” (Hat tip: Arts & Letters).

But there's one area in which France would love to emulate that place across the Atlantic -- the ability to foster small businesses and turn them into big ones.

It's not exactly haute culture , but these days this is a vital topic here in France, where the unemployment rate has been stuck between 9 and 10 percent for a quarter of a century and where not a single enterprise founded here in the past 40 years has managed to break into the ranks of the 25 biggest French companies. By comparison, 19 of today's 25 largest U.S. companies didn't exist four decades ago. That's why France is looking to the United States for lessons. And it's why it was meant as a compliment when the French media dubbed the former finance minister, newly appointed interior minister and potential president Nicolas Sarkozy "the American."
That’s remarkable: there is no French equivalent to Microsoft. No Home Depots, no Verizons, no Intels, no Pfizers. The socialist states of Europe have stunted the “creative destruction” of capitalism:

Capitalism, then, is by nature a form or method of economic change and not only never is but never can be stationary. And this evolutionary character of the capitalist process is not merely due to the fact that economic life goes on in a social and natural environment which changes and by its change alters the data of economic action; this fact is important and these changes (wars, revolutions and so on) often condition industrial change, but they are not its prime movers. Nor is this evolutionary character due to a quasi-automatic increase in population and capital or to the vagaries of monetary systems, of which exactly the same thing holds true. The fundamental impulse that sets and keeps the capitalist engine in motion comes from the new consumers, goods, the new methods of production or transportation, the new markets, the new forms of industrial organization that capitalist enterprise creates.
A flourishing, free-market economy drives out the old and ushers in the new. In France, where the same 25 companies have reigned since 1965, they seem locked to a marketplace of horse carriages and typewriters.

Extra: Pejman adds some thoughts on the same issue.
Ad-Pop - There’s a great discussion on Slate on what is the worst ad song ever. The conclusion: Iggy Pop’s paean to drug use “Lust for Life” used by Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. Have they ever listened to the lyrics?

Follow-up - After thinking about it, the worst song-commercial combination I could think of was Queen's "We Are the Champions" for one of those erectile-dysfunction pills. So inappropriate, even creepy.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Still another article on how you can’t depend on Social Security or private pensions, this time from Michael Barone: “Future Shock
Instapundit: “I wonder what would happen if Donald Rumsfeld should charge Amnesty with being in the pay of Al Qaeda, and then later say that "It would be fascinating to find out. I have no idea."”
Howard Dean – loved by some

Here’s Republican senator Mitch McConnell on Late Edition: “Yes. I would say to my good friend Chris [Dodd], I can't think of anybody we like better to have heading your party than Howard Dean. I hope he serves a long time. We like him right where he is.”

Meanwhile, the Democratic bigwigs are less than thrilled.

Follow-up – Boston Globe: “Dean doesn’t speak for whole party, some Democrats say” Funny, I thought that’s exactly the role of a party chairman. Also, Patrick Ruffini writes “Woe is Dean.”
Taxachusetts is no place for business

I live in Western Massachusetts but commute to Connecticut to work. I’m getting very weary of the daily ride, but thanks to Massachusetts business climate, it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to find anything closer to home. From the Boston Globe – “Number crunchers agree: Massachusetts is no bargain for employers

Massachusetts is an expensive place to do business. No argument there. But are we the most expensive place in the country to do business, with wages far above the national average and far above other expensive places like New York? says yes. The Pennsylvania forecasting firm came out with a study last month that identified Massachusetts as the country's most expensive state and Boston as the most expensive city.
A Northwestern economist disputed the numbers but he still found veracity in the study.
The reclusive Joe Biden speaks – Mark Kilmer has the Sunday morning talk show lineup. I was wrong about Woodward and Bernstein, but a handful of other Watergate-era figures are making the rounds including Liddy, Dean, and Ben Bradlee.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Rooting ‘em out - Marines find insurgent lair outside of Baghdad: “Hundreds of Iraqi and U.S. troops searched fields and farms Saturday for insurgents and their hideouts in an area south of Baghdad known for attacks, and the Marines said they discovered 50 weapons and ammunition caches and a huge underground bunker west of the capital fitted out with air conditioning, a kitchen and showers.”
More on the filibusters – Here’s Senator Jon Kyl on “Judicial appointments and extraordinary circumstances
Closer?Al-Zarqawi deputy arrested in Northern Iraq

Friday, June 03, 2005

They really ought to get Dean a red rubber nose and a dribble cup – Echoing many of my brilliant points, here’s an excellent post on Howard Dean, Social Security and company pensions over at Q&O.
The quick rules on giving a speech: Be short, be funny, be gone.

Advice unheeded by Erica Jong (hat tip: Instapundit)
The horror of the American gulag

Well now the Pentagon finally admits that there was desecration of the Koran at Guantanamo Bay: one Koran was kicked by a U.S. soldier while others got wet from water balloons. What will Andrew Sullivan say?

We know what Charles Krauthammer thinks: “Gitmo grovel: enough already

On the scale of human crimes, where, say, 10 is the killing of 2,973 innocent people in one day and 0 is jaywalking, this ranks as perhaps a 0.01.

Moreover, what were the Korans doing there in the first place? The very possibility of mishandling Korans arose because we gave them to each prisoner. What kind of crazy tolerance is this? Is there any other country that would give a prisoner precisely the religious text that that prisoner and those affiliated with him invoke to justify the slaughter of innocents? If the prisoners had to have reading material, I would have given them the book "Portraits 9/11/01" -- vignettes of the lives of those massacred on Sept. 11.
Read the whole thing. The Islamofascists scream when a soldier carries a Koran with one hand, but shrug when a mosque is destroyed by a suicide bomber.