Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Time to get a gun? - After reading shocking stories of looting around New Orleans, I've been wondering what I would do in the event of utter chaos. I mean, what could stop these people from looting nursing homes and children's hospitals? Only mortal threat, I fear.

Update – What the hell is wrong with these people? Shots fired at military helicopter assisting evacuation of Superdome.
Gas up

My car has been running a little rough on idle so yesterday I filled up on super unleaded at $2.88/gallon. I consoled myself at the time by saying that would probably be the cost of regular tomorrow.

Sure enough, today the regular at the same station was $2.91 and the super was $3.11. Ouch.
Oil away – “The government's emergency petroleum stockpile — nearly 700 million barrels of oil stored in underground salt caverns along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast — was established to cushion oil markets during energy disruptions.” I always thought the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was supposed to be tapped only in the event of war, but the Department of Energy says “in the event of an energy emergency.” I think this qualifies.
ABC News: “Poorest Hit Hardest By Hurricane Katrina
New York Times: “The Misery is spread equally
Bizarro World update – Ted Rall savages Cindy Sheehan that woman. (HT: Grapevine)

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

New Orleans

What can be added at this point? For a moment it looked like Katrina had weakened and turned east and everybody exhaled a little. Now the rooftops are filled with desperate people, the looters are rampant, and a city is devastated. Instapundit has a long list of flood relief agencies. This is a good place to start: American Red Cross.

Also – The New Orleans Times-Picayune is continuously updating.
The states take the lead - From Opinion Journal: “Medicaid reform could show the way on Social Security
Krugman: Americans are depressed. Americans: No we’re not

Paul Krugman last Friday: “The bottom line, then, is that most Americans have good reason to feel unhappy about the economy, whatever Washington's favorite statistics may say.”


The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, which had declined in July, rebounded in August. The Index now stands at 105.6 (1985=100), up from 103.6 in July. The Present Situation Index increased to 123.6 from 119.3. The Expectations Index edged up to 93.7 from 93.2 last month.

“Consumers appear to be weathering the steady rise in gas prices quite well,” says Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center. “In fact, consumers’ confidence in the current state Situation Index to its highest level in nearly four years (125.4 in September 2001). Expectations continue to suggest more of the same for the remainder of this year.”
Wrong again, Paul, wrong again. (Hat tip to Will who has more.)
80% of New Orleans is underwater – Michelle Malkin has a roundup

Update – The New Orleans Times-Picayune has an electronic-only version out. The headline is simply “Catastrophic” and the leadline is “Katrina: The storm we’ve always feared.”

Monday, August 29, 2005

How baseball sold its soul for manufactured popularity

From a book review of “Juicing the Game : Drugs, Power, and the Fight for the Soul of Major League Baseball” by Boston Herald reporter Howard Bryant:

Boston Herald sports columnist Bryant gives the full history behind the steroids scandal that has slowly but steadily enveloped major-league baseball over the past 10 years, a scandal that now calls into serious question the integrity of many of the records set during that time, if not the integrity of the game itself. Bryant begins with the disastrous strike of 1994, which cut short a memorable season and eliminated that fall's World Series. It was from the ruins of 1994 that baseball found salvation in the long ball, whose resurgence came as a result of smaller new ballparks, a reduced strike zone, and a ridiculously lax policy on performance-enhancing anabolic steroids. For example, offenders could be caught using steroids four times before finally receiving a one-year suspension. If players were the obvious culprits, the scandal, according to Bryant, was really the result of interlocking failures: a league that did not have the stomach in the face of record revenues to police itself, a players' union that fought every effort by the league to test its members, beat writers afraid to ask hard questions of the players they covered on a daily basis, and fans, who, fully aware their heroes might be juiced, still flocked to ballparks in record numbers. In presenting this thoughtful, detailed account of what one writer has called "baseball's Watergate," Bryant will bring baseball fans fully up to speed on both the steroids issue and the hoped-for reforms to come.
The buzz going around is that current Hall-of-Famers are going to throw up a wall to players who have been known to use steroids. Damn purists! Next stop: robots.
Hypocrisy, thy name is Air America: “To liberals, corporate double-speak and financial shell games rank as cardinal sins. That’s why it’s been jarring to see the progressive talk-radio network Air America accused of the kind of maneuvering that the Al Frankens of the world would normally rush to condemn.”
The new national pastime, part deux - NASCAR: America’s fastest growing sport: “TV ratings are soaring. Corporate money is flowing. And the crowds just keep getting bigger. NASCAR is racing ahead. The second-most-watched sport on television behind pro football, NASCAR has seen its ratings increase by more than 50% since it inked a six-year, $2.4 billion network deal five years ago; licensed retail sales of NASCAR-branded products have increased 250% over the past decade, totaling $2.1 billion last year alone; and is one of the most highly trafficked sports websites.” (Extended story here along with “NASCAR for neophytes”)
Katrina – What is there to say? They’re posting pictures of the devastation over on Free Republic.
Try to remember forget the soundtrack of your life

Through Damian Penny, the latest funtime list is the songs from the year you graduated from high school. Damian lists the good, bad and ugly from 1991 and, referring to a post by Eric Berlin, notes “I gotta admit, 1986 was even worse. Good Lord.”

Yes, it’s true: the eighties in general was a wasteland of music, but 1986 in particular was a black hole of suckage. From the top 100 songs of my graduation year too, here are the songs that I’ll classify as “wouldn’t necessarily change the station if they were playing.” (There are only 16):

10. Addicted To Love, Robert Palmer
15. West End Girls, Pet Shop Boys
19. Kiss, Prince and The Revolution
23. Sledgehammer, Peter Gabriel
28. Rock Me Amadeus, Falco
37. Something About You, Level 42
44. No One Is To Blame, Howard Jones
49. Walk Of Life, Dire Straits
61. All Cried Out, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam With Full Force
62. Your Love, Outfield
64. Perfect Way, Scritti Politti
65. Living In America, James Brown
68. Word Up, Cameo
78. Life In A Northern Town, Dream Academy
80. Sleeping Bag, ZZ Top
94. Dreamtime, Daryl Hall

As Kent Brockman might say: “What a sad, pointless decade.”

Update - Jed at Boots and Sabers reviews 1992. Pretty bad! But not 1986 bad.
Denzel Washington is awesome.

Update - As a commenter noted from Snopes, Denzel didn't pay for the "entire cost" of a new medical building but he did visit Army personnel and make a (smaller) donation. Still worthy of applause.
He-man woman hater – Here’s Cathy Young in the Boston Globe: “[John] Roberts's views on abortion and other issues may be a legitimate cause for concern for women's rights groups. Yet so far his critics have resorted to so many bad arguments that one must wonder if they have any good ones.”
Top ten Civil War generals

John Hawkins has his list, and here’s mine. Would now be a good time to brag that I’ve read the entire Shelby Foote history on the Civil War? I think so.

1) William Tecumseh Sherman – Except for one battle outside Atlanta (Kennesaw Mt.), almost never made a strategic error on the battlefield. His victories in 1864 paved the way for Lincoln’s re-election. Almost single-handedly broke the will of the South to continue the war.
2) Robert E. Lee
3) Nathan Bedford Forrest
4) U.S. Grant
5) Joe Johnston
6) Stonewall Jackson
7) Winfield Scott Hancock
8) Philip Kearny – Long-forgotten, one-armed Kearny was called “the bravest and most perfect soldier” by Winfield Scott. Fearless in battle, he led a series of charges during the Peninsula campaign and had the cojones to tell George McClellan that he was either a coward or a traitor for retreating. Already a superb general, Kearny would have gone on to greater fame if he had not been killed in 1862.
9) Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain – If only for his show of respect towards Confederate troops at Appomattox. Oh, and there was that Gettysburg thing when he was a colonel.
10) George McClellan – Yes, I know. He screwed up the Peninsula campaign, he failed to pursue the Confederate army after Antietam, he belittled Lincoln at every turn, etc. But in the aftermath of (first) Bull Run, he also assembled, organized and trained the largest army on earth and prepared them for the battle ahead.

Honorable mention: Herman Haupt. Another unsung hero of the Civil War, “General” (he refused a military commission) Haupt was in charge of the Union railroad system which played a critical role in troop transport, military supplies, and communication. He literally wrote the book on bridge building and Lincoln was known to have exclaimed: “That man Haupt has built a bridge across Potomac Creek, about 400 feet long and nearly 100 feet high, over which loaded trains are running every hour, and, upon my word, gentlemen, there is nothing in it but beanpoles and corn stalks.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

This ain’t no foolin’ around

This alert from the National Weather Service is almost hysterical:

Hat tip to Poliblog who notes: “it reads like a hoax.” It sounds like America’s going to have a tsunami-level disaster on hand very soon.
Cat 5

Looters take your marks: “Mayor Ray Nagin ordered an immediate mandatory evacuation Sunday for all of New Orleans, a city of 485,000 people, as Hurricane Katrina bore down with 160 mph wind. Ten refuges of last resort were set up including the Superdome."
The new American pastimeQuentin Tarantino “intoxicated” by NASCAR
A republic, if you can keep it

From the WashPost: “Iraq negotiators sign draft constitution

Shiite Muslim and Kurdish negotiators formally signed Iraq's new draft constitution Sunday, moving it toward a national vote over the strong objections of some Sunni Arabs in the talks, who rejected a final draft.

President Jalal Talabani was expected to sign the draft charter later Sunday, officially concluding the phase of writing the constitution and committing it to a referendum to be held Oct. 15.
Of course the Sunnis are still deep in denial: “We’re not in power anymore? The majority will govern? What’s up with that?” That aside, there’s a lot to like in this Constitution including freedom of religion and rights for women, including fixed representation in the government. We’ll have to see how the referendum goes, but it’s fair to say that a democratic government in the Middle East (maybe) is a good thing.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Joe Biden lives! – Mark Kilmer has the Sunday morning talk show lineup on his spiffy newly-designed blog.
Ain’t gonna drive your car no more – I know this will be of interest to only a couple of readers, but there’s a NASCAR race tonight in Bristol, TN. Through no fault of his own, Kevin Harvick wrecked his car, headed off for his RV, and basically said he was done. The car was repaired but with Harvick out they put Scott Riggs in to finish the race. Harvick had reportedly changed his clothes and headed off the track.

Harvick was on the bubble whether he would make the Nextel chase and now it looks out of reach. He’s probably heading out to slash Dale Jarrett’s tires or something (Dale started the wreck in a purely retaliatory swerve against the side of Ryan Newman’s car.) He was very unhappy with his crew chief and spotter, too.

Update: Matt Kenseth won the race. Dale Jarrett refused any interviews. That is all.
Avert your eyes, childrenComing soon: “Tribune Media Services columnists Victor Davis Hanson and Arianna Huffington will square off in a debate about whether the U.S. is "internationalist or imperial." Bill at Brain Droppings wryly characterizes this debate as "Bambi vs. Godzilla."
Lest we forget – Christopher Hitchens crams down your throat a gentle reminder of the progress the GWOT has gained in “A War to be Proud Of.” (Complete with handy list.)

At the pro-Bush rally several miles away, there were some heated moments when two members of Protest Warrior, a group that frequently holds counter protests to anti-war rallies, walked in with a sign that read "Say No to War — Unless a Democrat is President."
Many Bush supporters only saw the top of the sign and believed the men were war protesters, so they began shouting and chasing the pair out. One man tore up their signs. When Will Marean of Minneapolis kept repeating that he was on the Bush side and tried to explain Protest Warrior's mission, one Bush supporter shook his hand and apologized.
Protest Warrior has been known to confuse with their brand of satire. When Time magazine ran a story about Ann Coulter, PW were identified in photos as “protesters” against Coulter.
Let’s call it “junk science”

In January, Wired magazine ran an article called “Instant Detox” about a radical new procedure to clean up heroin addicts by putting them under general anesthesia and shock-cleaning the system. The kickquote: “Kick heroin in 24 hours - no willpower, withdrawal, or preaching required. Call it a cure. Call it junk science. Call it the one-step program.”

Now some serious doctors say, yes, it’s too good to be true: “An increasingly common method of heroin detoxification under general anesthesia is ineffective and unsafe, according to a study by psychiatrists at Columbia University Medical Center and the New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia.” (Hat tip: Good “stuff”)

Friday, August 26, 2005

Flash and crash – From Private Radio: “There is no anti-war movement
Right on urgency, wrong on solutions

Tonight on “60 Minutes II” there was a story about the behemoth known as AARP and how it's opposed Social Security reform. As this excerpt shows, they understand the need for action [emphasis added]:

[AARP head Bill] Novelli, and many economists, say Social Security will be solvent for another 35 years. And minor changes today will keep it solvent for decades beyond that.

"In your judgment," Rather asks Novelli, "is Social Security in dire straits, in deep trouble right now?"

"No, no. It's not in crisis. But, it does need to be strengthened … for future generations. And if we take steps now, it'll be a lot less painful than if we wait until later."
Unfortunately, the AARP won’t elucidate what these “changes” or “steps” might be but you can bet they’re not going to support benefit cuts for their 30+ million members. By default, that means more taxes on younger workers who are already surrendering 12.4% of their pay for entitlements.

When Social Security started, the payroll tax was a forgettable 2%. Would Franklin Delano Roosevelt approve of a system where young workers give up 6 times that amount in every paycheck? Where 80% of Americans pay more in payroll taxes than income taxes? Where every American under thirty today would pay into the system only to see it go bankrupt and able to pay only 72% of promised benefits? I think he’d be shocked at the monster he’d created, an anachronism anchored in Depression-era policy.
GOP straw poll

Patrick Ruffini has the results of his poll of Republican candidates for 2008. With over 16,000 responses counted, Rudy Giuliani was the winner with 30% of the vote. Interesting. Condi Rice was far ahead among the “fantasy” candidates.
No need to solve for X

Jay Tea over at Wizbang linked to a Boston Globe story about the math question that stumped the most students on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assesssment System (MCAS) test. Here it is:

Of the people in attendance at a recent baseball game, one-third had grandstand tickets, one-fourth had bleacher tickets, and the remaining 11,250 people in attendance had other tickets. What was the total number of people in attendance at the game?
A) 27,000
B) 20,000
C) 16,000
D) 18,000
Jay provides an extended answer and writes that he had the solution in “30-40 seconds.” Not to brag, but I had it in about one. One-third plus one-fourth makes up more than half of the baseball fans, so the remaining 11,250 comprises less than half. If that share is less than half, the total is more than double 11,250 making (A) the only reasonable answer.

Is that so hard? Still, with paper, pencil and calculator at hand, half of all Massachusetts students missed the question. Considering that random guessing would produce a 25% success rate, the 50% level is a little startling. What would Danica say?

As I like to say, there are three kinds of people in the world: those who can count and those who can’t.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Social Security reform - Whoops, I almost forgot to link to Will Franklin’s “Reform Thursday” post. Be sure to check out the colorful graph showing how private accounts in Galveston, Texas (where they opted out of Social Security in the early-eighties) are making everyone there rich:

These Texans have a retirement plan that not only lets them sleep at night but also gives them a far better pension than does Social Security. In addition, their plan provides life insurance and disability benefits that are far better for most participants than Social Security's survivor and disability benefits. This approach also has low administration costs.
Over the past 20 years, the Galveston residents have averaged a return of 8%, far above the current return of 2% for Social Security recipients. (Scroll down to the title reading “Stop shafting American workers”.)
Corrections? We don’t need no stinkin’ corrections – Paul Krugman admits he made a mistake (see bottom), but not really, and essentially he was right so never mind. Oh, and that historically low unemployment rate? That sucks too because a lot of people turned up to get a job at Wal-Mart the other day. So there.

More – Richard Baehr responds: “Why is the New York Times still employing a serial liar in its op ed pages? There are only a few answers, and none of them bodes well for the shareholders of the New York Times Company, the newspaper industry (which is virtually ignoring the scandal), or Krugman’s reputation.”
Any port in a storm

Mickey Kaus writes:

Recent multiple exposures to Westside L.A. liberals confirms that (as GeorgeWill and Kevin Drum suggest) Hillary Clinton is currently heading for a much bigger train wreck in her party than anticipated--a wreck all her cautious planning failed to anticipate, and probably exacerbated.
The crux of Kaus’ (and others) argument is that the emboldened and increasingly vocal anti-war Left will not support a candidate who voted for the war in Iraq; Hillary’s membership in the DLC is another deal-killer. I’m not so sure. After the 2006 midterms and at least two more years of GOP dominance ahead, the Democrats will be thoroughly whipped, searching for anybody who can bring them victory. Remember how John Kerry was the most “electable” candidate? In 2008, the Democrats will be looking at the built-in Clinton base, the money advantage, and wax nostalgic for the Bill years. They’ll nominate Hillary knowing that everything she says that sounds moderate will be just for show. Only too late will the Democrats come to the realization that there’s nearly no chance for Hillary to capture any additional states than Gore and Kerry won.
Moonbat alert – Ignoring James Lileks’ admonition against name-calling, Gary the Ex-Donkey calls the Kos crowd “a special breed of moonbat.” Meanwhile, George Will writes that the Democratic Party is in the grip of “a shrillness unlike anything heard, in living memory, from a major tendency within a major party.”
The definition of insanity

The history of price controls is long and predictable: they always fail. But that doesn’t stop government officials from making a bad situation worse. This Fark headline says it all: “Hawaii caps price of gas at $2.86 per gallon. Hilarity to ensue next when gas suppliers inexplicably refuse to sell gas to Hawaii for less than it costs them to buy it from refineries.”

Extra – Begging to Differ has “Price caps - how not to solve a problem
It’s about time somebody said it! – “Engineers don’t get enough respect
Spend spend spend baked beans spend spend spend

Indirectly making the case for divided government, Radley Balko wonders what happened to the Republican party in “Drunk with power, spending like drunken sailors”:

The Republican Party's wholesale abandonment of limited government principles has been on display since President Bush took office. Government spending under the GOP's reign has soared to historic highs, any way you want to measure it. And in stark contrast to President Reagan — or even the president's own father—President Bush refuses to rein in spending. He hasn’t used his veto a single time since taking office — the longest such streak in U.S. history.

What continues to amaze, however, is the sheer arrogance and hubris with which the Republicans have chosen to govern. As Congressman Jeff Flake — one of the few principled Republicans in Washington — told the Washington Post, "Republicans don't even pretend anymore."
Worse than fiscal year expenditures, President Bush and the GOP have expanded entitlement spending by adding that monster prescription-drug benefit. At least discretionary spending can be cut back; entitlements are forever.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Ryne has a Democratic friend who’s surprisingly lucid: “the kos kids don't get it. these guys are the same people who thought they could win an election on a bunch of college kids donating 10 bucks to howard dean.”

Speaking of Howard Dean, has anybody seen him lately? Maybe he's sharing the undisclosed bunker with Dick Cheney.
Monday: “Both Mark Steyn and Matt Margolis believe that Cindy Sheehan won’t return to the protest camp in Texas. I respectfully disagree.”

Today: “Sheehan returns to Crawford
It’s coming - Get ready for an onslaught of “Katrina and the Waves” references.
Update your lynx - Pejman Yousefzadeh is overloading my spellchecker by moving his blog to Chequerboard.
In which I (happily) admit I’m wrong

Just to show that I’m not above correcting myself: for months Jayson at Polipundit has been predicting that the GOP will pick up between one and three Senate seats in the 2006 election and I’ve been highly skeptical. Historically, the President’s party has never picked up Senate seats in the sixth year of his Administration and typically loses three or more seats. But the Democrats are in such disarray, fighting amongst themselves over policy, that they can’t mount a coordinated and credible campaign. Furthermore, as Mickey Kaus retells, political analyst Michael Barone thinks 2006 might be the election year to buck history: “In the long run, Republicans are well positioned to increase their numbers in both Senate and House.”

Extra – From Barone Blog, here’s “Bush’s gains and losses”: “Where did Bush gain most (6 percent or more)? In districts that can be characterized by the following labels: Italians, Jacksonians, Latinos, and Asians.”
Krugman lies. In other news: water is wet

That’s funny, I haven’t heard a rejoinder from commenter “Jeb” about the “actual people” turned away from the polls in Florida during Election 2000. Maybe he’s at Home Depot picking up wheelbarrows for all the affidavits. That said, Don Luskin (natch) has all the Krugman backlash and Patterico has his letter to the public editor of the NY Times. However, don’t expect Krugman to comport his opinion to the conclusions of his own newspaper. Here’s how former NYT ombudsman Daniel Okrent described Paul Krugman’s reaction to people telling him he’s wrong:

When he says he agreed “reluctantly” to one correction, he gives new meaning to the word “reluctantly”; I can’t come up with an adverb sufficient to encompass his general attitude toward substantive criticism.
My main criticism of Krugman is that, for an economist, he almost never feels the need to use numbers and statistics in his articles. Instead, he employs squishy generalities that are hard to pin down, so that he always has an escape route. By contrast, check out the WashPost’s Robert Samuelson who has an excellent article titled “Retirement at 70.” He presents a thesis (the government can’t support aging retirees), urges for a later retirement age, and lays out the allegations of age discrimination in the workplace. Samuelson is not an ideologue, but instead somebody who lays out a lucid argument with supporting data. Is that so much to ask? I think not.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

It’s not the marketing, it’s the product – From Bloomberg: “Democrats need new ideas, not new think tanks.
Oil shortage, schmoil shortage

The Sunday NY Times magazine had a long article by Peter Maass about the “peak oil” theory which suggests that petroleum shortages are inevitable and triple-digit oil prices are not far off. Scary stuff, if true. Steven Levitt at Freakonomics isn’t convinced:

One might think that doomsday proponents would be chastened by the long history of people of their ilk being wrong: Nostradamus, Malthus, Paul Ehrlich, etc. Clearly they are not.
And speaking of Paul Ehrlich, NY Times columnist John Tierney has just replayed Ehrlich’s famous wager with Julian Simon, betting analyst Matthew Simmons that a barrel of oil will be cheaper (adjusted for inflation) than the $65/barrel price today. Simmons – a real pessimist – is convinced a barrel of oil will be selling for over $200/barrel in 2010.

Yeesh. I think the only possible way that Simmons’ prediction could come true is if Saudi Arabia runs dry over the next five years, and that’s simply not going to happen. OTOH, if Simmons is correct, shouldn’t we start exploring and developing oil production in ANWR? Toodle-loo, caribou!

Monday, August 22, 2005

The greatest movie line ever? (Hat tip: Country Store)
Moonbats declare war on DLC

RNC chair Ken Mehlman must be living large. I mean, he’s gotta have his feet up on the desk, smoking a big cigar, with a mile-long smile, watching the Left Wing destroy itself. Now the liberal bloggers and presumably the MoveOn wing are going to attack the Democratic Leadership Council. David Wissing explains why this is a super tactic:

Since 1980, there have been seven presidential elections. Out of those seven, five were won by the Republican candidtae. The other two were won by Bill Clinton, a member of the DLC. No other Democratic candidate has managed to win a single presidential election since 1980.
Maybe the Democrats believe they’ll win the next election just because they can’t possibly keep losing. As Krusty the Klown kvetched after betting against the Harlem Globetrotters: “I thought the Generals were due!
Side note – Both Mark Steyn and Matt Margolis believe that Cindy Sheehan won’t return to the protest camp in Texas. I respectfully disagree. I think she’s addicted to the attention and self-martyrdom as evidenced by this mini-press release. She’ll return just in time for back-to-school and the John Roberts hearings; then nobody will be paying attention.
The myth that will not expire

Richard Baehr on The American Thinker systematically dismantles Paul Krugman’s wishful analysis of the “stolen” 2000 election today and recalls the disenfranchisement of Florida’s Panhandle voters:

The Panhandle was Bush's strongest section of the state. While turnout in Florida was up across the state from 1996 to 2000, it was up by a much smaller percentage in the Panhandle than in the rest of the state. Were voters less interested in the contest in the Central Time Zone counties of Florida or did some of them listen to and believe the reports that the polls had closed or that the race was decided in the state and not vote? Some analyses of the Panhandle vote have suggested Bush may have lost net between 5,000 and 10,000 votes due to the errors (presumably not deliberate) by the TV broadcasters, who seemed blissfully unaware that Florida is one of the states with two time zones. If this had happened and the Panhandle had been a Democratic voting area, there would have been screams of voter suppression from Krugman, Jesse Jackson, and Mary Frances Berry.
Absolutely correct. What does it say about NY Times columnist and sometime economist Paul Krugman that he needs to devote two columns in a row picking at the scab of the 2000 election? It’s an ordeal reading any of Krugman’s tendentious articles. As Baehr notes in his analysis, Krugman’s articles reveal him to be either lazy, stupid, or a liar. It’s a wonder the NY Times keeps him on the payroll as he embarrasses himself with instantly refutable scribbling.

Extra – More piling-on over at Ankle Biting Pundits and Brainster.
The end of the civil rights movement

Take a guess at the outrage detailed in this Opinion Journal article “Resurrecting Jim Crow for political gain”:

When the bill passed the Georgia House in March, black legislators sang slave songs and one even slammed a prisoner's shackles on the desk of the sponsor.
What great transgression of human bondage was perpetuated in the heart of Dixie? To combat voter fraud, the Georgia legislature passed a bill requiring identification before voting. That’s it. Even Juan Williams was aghast:

Juan Williams, a National Public Radio correspondent and author of "Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years," is "stunned" by such vituperation. He told Fox News that it is "reacting to devils that have been slain 40 years ago." He says that "in service to having no fraud elections, I think you could say to people, go and get a legitimate ID. I don't think that's too much to ask."
It’s not exactly “Mississippi Burning.” NASCAR is probably next on the list of violations against civil rights. Meanwhile, the NAACP conspires to keep minorities in rotten schools and burdened with payroll taxes they could invest with genuine Social Security reform. It’s no wonder that younger blacks are taking a second look at conservative policies and the Republican Party.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Sunday morning roundup

Mark Kilmer reviews the Sunday morning talk shows over on Red State and I have to quibble on one small matter. On “Fox News Sunday” New Mexico governor Bill Richardson did not say we need a “Marshall Plan” for energy independence. He said we needed an “Apollo mission Marshall plan” which caused me to laugh out loud: we’re going to rebuild the economy on the Sea of Tranquility?

Richardson, who used to be the energy secretary during the Clinton years, was a joke. I’ll have to find a transcript but his prescription for energy security bounced between the old “alternative fuels” saw to releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Here’s a tip: whenever a politician talks about tapping into the SPR, they’re engaging in populist nonsense (and everybody in D.C. knows it). I used to be concerned about Richardson as a Democratic governor south of the Mason-Dixon Line, but no more. He’s a hack with fewer answers than Kerry, if you can believe that.

Update - Fox News just posted the transcript:
RICHARDSON: Yes and only the president can do it. He can announce an Apollo-like Marshall plan to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and to deal with gas prices. Only a president can do it.
How do you do it? One, by jawboning OPEC and having them increase production. I would go into the strategic petroleum reserve, take 10 percent, put it out in oil markets to lower the price.
"Jawboning OPEC" - great plan. Does anybody else find it unseemly for the United States to go begging to Saudi Arabia or Hugo Chavez's Venezuela for help? Why not drill in the frozen tundra of Alaska? No, we can't upset the caribou. Oh well.
Not dead yet? – Mary Katherine Ham over at Townhall says that “Social Security reform lives again.” (Hat tip: B4B)
Delaware Senator Joe Biden dead - Just kidding. But how else can you explain his failure to appear on any of the Sunday morning shows? It's baffling, I tells ya!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Just one more minute....

Very little posting today. Know why? We went to the mall today and I picked up the updated version of Sid Meier's "Pirates" for my PC. This was a game I played nearly obsessively for years, until a "friend" of mine "borrowed" my CGA-graphics disk. Now it's the same game but in color. Oh, this is bad. Very bad. I need help, ye scurvy dogs.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Do not incur my fearsome wrath – I’m taking the family down to Disney World in a couple of months. Would it be wrong to mention that I’m a semi-popular (#218 on the Ecosystem) blogger? The impression I get from Instapundit is that I’d be foolish not to; more towels for the mighty Viking Pundit!
Amazing videoWatch this girl stack cups and don’t blink.
It’s come to this – With the economy growing steadily and unemployment at 5%, Paul Krugman has to reach back to the 2000 election in his latest rant. Mark at the newly-designed (nice!) Decision08 lays down the smack. What’s next for Krugman? Nixon taking America off the gold standard? Pathetic.

P.S. – Still waiting for the Social Security plan, too. Haven't forgotten.

Jessica Alba has an, um, interview in…Newsweek. And something, she says something. I’m sorry, I seem to be distracted.
Blogrolling is down again - Here's something to do to pass the time: get Daffy Duck to land on the target.
Quote of the Day – “Only nuclear power can halt global warming” – James Lovelock, founder of Greenpeace (found on the Economist)
The drift of the Democrats

Here’s David Ignatius in the WashPost with “What the Democrats should be saying”:

So where are the Democrats amid this GOP disarray? Frankly, they are nowhere. They are failing utterly in the role of an opposition party, which is to provide a coherent alternative account of how the nation might solve its problems. Rather than lead a responsible examination of America's strategy for Iraq, they have handed off the debate to a distraught mother who is grieving for her lost son. Rather than address the nation's long-term fiscal problems, they have decided to play politics and let President Bush squirm on the hook of his unpopular plan to create private Social Security accounts.

Because they lack coherent plans for how to govern the country, the Democrats have become captive of the most shrill voices in the party, who seem motivated these days mainly by visceral dislike of George W. Bush. Sorry, folks, but loathing is not a strategy -- especially when much of the country finds the object of your loathing a likable guy.
I’ve been saying most of this for a long time, esp. in the context of Social Security reform. Be sure to read the whole thing.
You are in error, sir! - Pat Hynes is wrong wrong wrong in this article: “That Old Feeling Again.” It was Paul Davis, not Barry Manilow, that had a seventies hit with “I Go Crazy.” Everything else is right.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Obscure Jessica Simpson joke ahead - John Roberts was raised in Buffalo, New York up until the second grade. Buffalo wings are made from chicken, not buffalo! Can we trust John Roberts on the Supreme Court when he grew up in a city that doesn’t interpret recipes in the literal sense? A city that spawned Tim Russert and a football team that lost the Superbowl four years in a row? He must be stopped!

Extra – The ABA gives John Roberts a unanimous “well-qualified” rating. Orin Kerr notes that if the ABA had a sense of humor, it would have rated him “over-qualified.”
The adults and the children

Here’s what I wrote [emphasis added]:

For the Crawford demonstrators, Casey must be a one-dimensional character, an unwitting pawn of the Bush/Israel cabal. He must be infantilized and subjugated to the Cause.
Mark Steyn in the UK Spectator (reprinted on Free Republic):

Ever since America’s all-adult, all-volunteer army went into Iraq, the anti-war crowd have made a sustained effort to characterise them as ‘children’. If a 13-year-old wants to have an abortion, that’s her decision and her parents shouldn’t get a look-in. If a 21-year-old wants to drop to the Oval Office shagpile and chow down on Bill Clinton, she’s a grown woman and free to do what she wants. But, if a 22- or 25- or 37-year old is serving his country overseas, he’s a wee ‘child’ who isn’t really old enough to know what he’s doing.
Steyn’s conclusion:

Cindy Sheehan is a woman whose grief has curdled into a narcissistic rage, and the Democrats cheering her on are cheering their own marginalisation. Most Americans will not follow where she’s gone — to the wilder shores of anti-Bush, anti-war, anti-Iraq, anti-Afghanistan, anti-Israel, anti-American paranoia. Casey Sheehan’s service was not the act of a child. A shame you can’t say the same about his mom’s new friends.
Indeed. (Hat tip: Ankle-biting Pundits)
Up up up - If it’s Thursday, it’s time for a Social Security post on Willisms. Today Will shows the projected growth of entitlement spending and the history of the payroll tax rate. (Hey, that graph looks familiar).
Quote of the Day – “But what are we going to do about him? We’re stuck with him.” - An “old-line Democratic loyalist” lamenting DNC chair Howard Dean (according to Robert Novak).
O No! - The “O” is all about the outraged CEO of
GROW accounts “certain” to come up for a vote – “The House will likely vote this fall on a Social Security bill to let workers put part of their payroll taxes into U.S. Treasury bonds that they would own, Republican leadership officials say.”
The inevitable Cindy Sheehan post

I’ve tried, oh how I’ve tried, to avoid adding to the cacophony of opinions on Cindy Sheehan, but this article today by Peter Beinart struck a nerve:

As the parent of a dead soldier, Sheehan has so much moral authority precisely because so few Americans (including so few of us who supported the war) risk sharing her plight.
It’s telling, perhaps, that Beinart doesn’t mention Casey Sheehan until paragraph 9 of an eleven-graf article, and even so only in through the prism of his mother’s grief. For the Crawford demonstrators, Casey must be a one-dimensional character, an unwitting pawn of the Bush/Israel cabal. He must be infantilized and subjugated to the Cause. We must never know that Casey Sheehan signed up for the military, re-enlisted three years later, and then volunteered (over the objections of his C.O.) for the mission that ended his life at Sadr City. If he had survived, he would have been decorated as a hero. But since he died, he’s no longer a hero, but a duped victim in the ghoulish ventriloquism of his mother.

But let’s face it: the MoveOn crowd doesn’t want to talk about Casey. They really want to focus on the “plight” of Cindy whose anguish waned enough during her first meeting with President Bush that she said relatively nice things about him to her local paper. Now Bush is the “top terrorist in the world.” It’s obvious that Sheehan has no goal beyond the unblinking television cameras, tracking her pensive gaze at a makeshift cross adorned with American flags.

I’ve avoided writing about Cindy Sheehan because I think she’s internalized her anguish such that it’s become bigger than herself and her family. (It’s noteworthy that not a single other member of the Sheehan family has joined her in Crawford, or even stepped outside their homes to make a public statement to the press.) But let’s not hear anything more about the “plight” of Cindy’s own making. “Mother Sheehan” wants to elevate her sorrow to national prominence for political purposes; unfortunately, unlike other mourning parents, she wants her son remembered with pity, not honor.

Follow-up – Here are some choice quotes and an appropriate editorial cartoon.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Family-sized Amazing Race starts September 27th – I’ve already picked my favorite team: the dad (from Massachusetts) racing with his three sons-in-law. That’s bound to lead to fireworks.
Air America update - Where in the world is Evan Montvel-Cohen?
There is no security - What he said: “If you're under 40 years old and you're counting on Social Security for your retirement, you're a fool.”

Do you know those “retirement worksheets” that are published regularly in Fortune or Money magazine? There’s typically a line for “expected Social Security benefits” which I always fill in as “zero.” The reason is that I’ve persistently saved a somewhat large percentage of my salary into a 401(k) account and I expect to have a nice nest egg when I retire. Furthermore, I am absolutely certain that the government will look at that accumulated savings and say: “You don’t need Social Security.” That is, I fully expect that the government will punish me for saving responsibly for my golden years.

Hey, I’ll be pleasantly surprised if I’m wrong. Heck, I’ll be happy just to receive the 72% level of my originally-promised benefits (once the Trust Fund is exhausted). But for now I’m anticipating the reverse “Ant and the Grasshopper” scenario complete with me sitting on a park bench, lamenting my failure to spend recklessly on Harley-Davidsons and big-screen TVs.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Alert – James Lileks has a brand-new screed up.
Of course we were! – AJ Strata says “The Coalition of the Chillin’ was right
A post that doesn't mention Cindy Sheehan - HBO has been showing re-runs of the original "Bad News Bears" and I always love the part where Tanner tells the Yankees to shove their trophy where the sun don't shine. Here's the wave file from the Daily Wave.
Future Supreme Court Justice John Roberts tells Jacko to “Beat It

Demonstrating remarkable foresight and judgment of character, John Roberts turned away publicity plugs for Michael Jackson at the height of the pop-star’s popularity:

In 1984, Mr. Roberts twice wielded his wit to stop other White House staff members from writing letters for Mr. Reagan lauding Michael Jackson for charitable work.

"I recognize that I am something of a vox clamans in terris in this area, but enough is enough," he wrote in a memorandum in June 1984, using the approximate Latin for "voice crying in the wilderness." He added, "The Office of Presidential Correspondence is not yet an adjunct of Michael Jackson's P.R. firm."

Three months later, Mr. Roberts was batting away a new request. "I hate to sound like one of Mr. Jackson's records, constantly repeating the same refrain, but I recommend that we not approve this letter." He noted that a press report that said some young fans were turning from Mr. Jackson "in favor of a newcomer who goes by the name 'Prince.' "
Heh-heh: “not yet.” I’ve heard a lot of conservatives worrying that Roberts may be “another Souter.” Not a chance. Nobody this funny could be a liberal.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Worst job ever – “A top aide to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, head of the Al-Qaeda operation in Iraq, who has played a key role in masterminding several high-profile suicide bombing in the country, has been killed by Iraqi security forces, defense officials confirmed Sunday.”

And there’s this – One of the Bali bombers shot dead.
Better than McAuliffe? - Howard Dean doesn’t disappoint on “Face the Nation”
Ben Affleck is a tool

From Slate:

According to the Star, the actor, who recently wed Jennifer Garner, "stunned the faithful" in an Idaho church by standing up during prayer services and saying, "My name is Ben Affleck and this is my wife, Jennifer, from Los Angeles!"
That’s right Ben: even in the Lord’s House, it’s all about you.

Extra – More Affleck news: “Good Will Stinking” Hey, now, I predict "Resistance" will be just as popular as "Commander-in-Chief." (That is, four episodes and out.)
Three score and ten years ago - Blog Americana notes that Social Security was structured during a time when most homes didn’t have electricity, yet it's impervious to modern-day restructuring.

Update – Just for the record, Paul Krugman wasted his Social Security article today with the typical sniping at the Bush Administration and (still!) not a single proposed measure that might extend the program’s solvency. Matt Hoy has updated his banner and it’s now been 217 days since Krugman first promised “in the next few weeks” to “suggest steps to strengthen the program.” Still waiting.
Hamilton, Gorelick and Kean, oh my! – The 9/11 commission part 2, Electric Boogaloo, over at The Right Place.
White House Hires First Female Head Chef – Charles Schumer immediately demanded that she release all of her recipes and declare whether or not she had ever baked “special” brownies while in college. Fortunately, Laura Bush gave the chef a recess appointment.
Sticking it to the man, by shopping

Retailers in Massachusetts were pleasantly surprised by the huge turnout this past weekend as shoppers took advantage of a tax free weekend:

Inundated with shoppers on a sultry, summer weekend, giddy retailers said yesterday that the state's first-ever Saturday and Sunday without a sales tax could end up being the most profitable weekend of the year, beating the $500 million in sales that shops usually reap during the final weekend rush in late December.
There’s a coalescing belief that Bay Staters may have rushed to the stores in a display of protest against Beacon Hill:

Customers said they had many reasons to shop yesterday, beating the government not least among them.
Many acknowledged a certain frisson at the idea of saving 5 percent from the state -- shopping as civil disobedience.
Some of the Freedom Shoppers were heard singing “We Shall Overspend.”

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Social Security’s insolvency is a “cold, actuarial fact

If there’s no reform of the system, get ready for either a 50% increase in payroll taxes or an automatic 29% cut in benefits. The government simply cannot squeeze any more revenue out of the already high 12.4% payroll tax rate, up from the original rate of 1%.

Is this what FDR had in mind when he signed the law 70 years ago, that all workers would have over 12% of their income stripped away? I rather doubt it. (HT: Social Security Choice)
Bay Staters don’t want their nickel back

According to the Boston Globe, Massachusetts residents are just chucking away bottles and cans rather than gather them up for the 5-cent deposit: “Is it still worth it for a nickel? Return rate declining for bottle, can deposits”:

Is the bottle deposit law half empty or half full?

That's the question that came to mind last week after the state Revenue Department released preliminary figures showing another drop in bottle and can returns.

The figures indicate consumers returned and recovered their nickel deposits on 65.7 percent of the 2.2 billion bottles and cans they purchased during the fiscal year that ended June 30. That's the lowest percentage since the bottle deposit law took effect in 1983 and way off the peak of 87 percent in 1995.
I wonder what special new law will be passed by the busybodies on Beacon Hill to force us to recycle. Save Gaia!
Air America update

I wanted to write about this the other day, but I plum forgot. Anyway, Friday morning I was flipping around my XM radio to AA’s “Morning Sedition” and one of the hosts was complaining that conservatives/Republicans “need to label people” so that they can attack them. I snorted. My God, do these guys hear what they’re saying? One of the hosts of MS (Mark Riley I think) regularly and reflexively refers to conservatism as a “neo-con death cult” and Christians as a “crypto-fascist zombie brigade.”

These guys are completely off the rails, living in that Bush Derangement Bubble that fixates on Diebold voting machines in Palm Beach. It’s not just that, in the words of Brainster: “It's painful to listen to: it's all doom and gloom. Everything's awful and getting worse.” Air America would still be an unentertaining, although passable diversion, if they had an iota of rhetorical integrity. But they don’t make the slightest effort towards reality; instead it’s 24-7 of preaching to the choir with tinfoil conspiracy theories, sloppy logic, and outright falsehoods. Who can listen to this bile more than a week? I can’t believe they’ve lasted as long as they have, even with interest-free loans from Boys and Girls clubs.

Extra – Speaking of transparent bias, here’s the Radio Equalizer on the New York Times’ coverage of the Air Enron story. Would the Times wait so long to report a story of embezzlement by Rush Limbaugh’s radio network? Ha-ha – good one.
Update your bookmark - One of my fave sites, Mark Coffey's Decision 08 has moved into new digs.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

A quiz

Guess who’s going to be on a Sunday morning talk show tomorrow? Specifically, “Meet the Press.”

He’s a U.S. Senator.
He’s a Senator from Delaware.
It’s not Tom Carper.

Give up? It’s Joe Biden. Yes, I’m as surprised as you are!
People hate taxes and love picking on the French – Tourism to France way down: “The Ministry of Tourism said at the end of July the 2005 summer season was set to be disappointing, despite better weather than the year before.” I believe the term for happiness at the misfortune of the French is "Chirac-enfreude."
Christmas in August – There’s a sales tax holiday this weekend in Massachusetts and shoppers are crowding into the stores: “Sales tax holidays have proved a catalyst to shopping, generating customer traffic in the dog days of summer that has been compared to the Christmas season.” All this for a 5% discount? It’s an indisputable fact of life: people hate taxes.

Friday, August 12, 2005

The Amazing Race jumps the shark – “If you haven't been following the early reports on the new season, here's the bottom line: According to online reports and some published stories, the cycle of "Amazing Race'' that begins Sept. 27 is, at best, disappointing and, at worse, a mess.” Oh dear. Well, Kris, Lorie and I will be covering the new season so set your bookmarks. (BTW, I’m getting caught up with the older episodes so I’ll be a true and thorough TAR fan by late-September).
Vast archive yields new view of 9/11: “Faced with a court order and unyielding demands from the families of victims, the city of New York yesterday opened part of its archive of records from Sept. 11, releasing a digital avalanche of oral histories, dispatchers' tapes and phone logs so vast that they took up 23 compact discs.”
Yeeeaaaahhhh! - Howard Dean will be on "Face the Nation" this Sunday, which also happens to be the 70th birthday of Social Security.

Here are my two predictions: 1.) Dean will not propose any potential solutions to Social Security's solvency problem but will insist that Democrats are willing to "come to the table" if only the President abandons personal accounts. 2.) Dean will use the poll-tested phrase "abuse of power" no fewer than five times (e.g. John Bolton to the U.N.)
Down at Camp Casey - Varifrank has a personal take on the Cindy Sheehan situation (hat tip to Betsy) Rick Moran has some thoughts also. All I’m going to say is that Sheehan’s characterization of her son as a reluctant warrior who was duped into service flies against the evidence that he enlisted of his own free will, re-enlisted at 24, then volunteered for the rescue mission where he was killed. That’s all.
France – A country so wonderful, with such a great economy, that people can’t wait to leave
Smashing the spammers

From the Economist here’s “Opening Pandora’s inbox

For overweight lovers of pornography in need of a cheap loan or a “boost”, the offers of slimming pills, Viagra, smut and the like that flood into e-mail inboxes around the world are a positive boon. For most consumers and businesses, however, “spam” has grown over the past few years from a mere nuisance into a costly and time-consuming threat. On Tuesday August 9th, business fought back. Microsoft’s case against Scott Richter ended in victory for the software giant after the “spam king” agreed to pay $7m to settle charges relating to a lawsuit filed in 2003 against his internet firm, OptInRealBig.
One study estimated that spam costs American businesses $17 billion a year in lost productivity and anti-spam defenses. Richter makes Dennis Kozlowski look like a piker.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Baseball is “a game in a crisis of faith

So says the Baltimore Sun in this article stating “players, fans at all levels question the integrity of baseball amid scandals.” Some disenchanted fans greeted Rafael Palmeiro on his return after a 10-game suspension:

Plenty of Orioles fans, though, weren't ready to turn the other cheek just yet. Scott Anderson, a police officer from Harrisonburg, Va., showed up at the game with three friends, all wearing orange-and-black T-shirts with Palmeiro's No. 25 on the back and "Hall of Shame" and a syringe on the front.

All four men sat in box seats just behind the Orioles dugout and cheered for their team. They said they'd be back tonight, with their custom-made shirts that cost $52 total.

"I was Raffy's biggest fan because he was the exception to all these other cases," Anderson said. "When I heard the news, I said to myself, 'Who do I believe anymore?'
Somebody owes Jose Canseco an apology.
Peanut farmer putdown – I’m a firm believer in the notion that ex-presidents should make their political thoughts known to their caddy, and that’s it. Deference should be paid to the executive office and this should be understood by former commanders-in-chief. But then again if you’re Jimmy (“history’s greatest monster”) Carter and you’re trying to live down a disastrous presidency then I guess you have to do all you can to reform your image. Unfortunately, sometimes you step over the line and invite a smackdown from George Will.
Tax them kids some more, we love free money – Today I was listening to C-Span on my satellite radio and they were broadcasting an AARP rally in celebration of Social Security’s 70th birthday. I was hoping to find some commentary at Social Security Choice, but here’s the summary. Everybody loves Social Security, at least everybody at the AARP rally. And every speaker recognized that the program faces a long-term solvency problem. Yet not a single person proposed a single action to address the problem. Oh there was much suggestion that a “bipartisan solution” should be drafted, but the AARP wasn’t prepared to do much beyond criticizing personal accounts. It was depressing, to say the least.
Your #1 is my #1! – Kris at Dummocrats picks her greatest TV shows of all time. I don’t have a list prepared, but I would agree on the top spot.
High self-esteem but low votes

Kevin Drum compiled a list of “10 reasons why Democrats aren’t getting votes” for the Washington Monthly blog. As Ex-Donkey notes, the funniest part are the comments to Drum’s list which roughly equilibrate to: “We’re too wonderful for ordinary Americans to understand.”

Equal time – John Hawkins has "11 reasons why people don’t vote for Republicans"
Baseball’s shame

Let’s face it: baseball was just asking for a slap-down. The sport is perpetually wrapped in a grainy Ken Burns mythos of America and apple pie, somehow elevated above other pursuits. Now that the baseball union has grudgingly agreed to steroid testing, it looks like every record book will be thick with asterisks. Except this time it won’t be for Roger Maris’ extended season but for the particular steroid a player has ingested to achieve a tainted benchmark. Here’s Harvey Araton in the NY Times with “Baseball swings and misses on accountability in drug testing”:

Believe me, Palmeiro pleaded, after a decade or more of the entire baseball industry lying to the public and even more to itself. When no one from the commissioner's office disputed the anonymous report identifying stanozolol as the steroid for which Palmeiro tested positive, suddenly the diversionary crime was the betrayal of confidentiality, the grounds for a potential grievance on Palmeiro's behalf - still being explored, according to a spokesman yesterday for the players union.

"One high-profile player tests positive, and look at the chaos," Dr. Gary Wadler, a professor of medicine at New York University and an expert on performance-enhancing drugs, said in a telephone interview. "The problem, once again, is in the system."
Baseball will soldier on, however, because the money is flowing in. Bud Selig will turn a blind eye as the syringes are unsheathed. But already the older players are wondering what’s become of the game:

And yet it remains to be seen what the eventual - and long-term - impact of the Palmeiro affair, and any future steroid revelations, will have on the business of baseball and the game itself. Now, Hall of Famers and other former stars seem to be taking more of a hard-line stance, boldly questioning records and statistics perhaps achieved under the influence.

These voices have impact.

Guys like Hall of Famer and ESPN analyst Joe Morgan, who told the Philadelphia Inquirer's Claire Smith: "The game doesn't belong to these players today. It belongs to all the players who have ever played - Henry Aaron, Willie Mays, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Frank Robinson - the guys who helped build the game, not guys who have hurt the game. Now these great players' numbers are being pushed back."
Baseball will still pull in viewers but let’s not shrink from the result of the steroid scandal: America’s pastime is dead.
The big tip off

When the Tennessee fugitives were making their getaway, they told the taxi driver taking them to Columbus that they were going to an Amway convention. The cabbie became suspicious because they weren’t nearly obnoxious enough:

"They didn't strike me as the Amway type because to be honest they weren't very pushy about their product and I've dealt with them before so -- that was my only real suspicion," Wagers said.
Get’s ‘em every time.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Two quick notes from Germantown, New York

I was visiting my moms the past couple days in Columbus County, New York and two stories jumped out at me. One was that there was an event at FDR's home in nearby Hyde Park to commemorate the 70th annivesary of Social Security. On hand to debate Social Security this coming Saturday are Michael Tanner of the CATO Institute and Paul Krugman of Loonyville. As Matthew Hoy reminds us, it's been over 200 days since the erstwhile columnist of the New York Times promised to reveal his plan to reform Social Security.

Second, all of rural New York was abuzz with the candidacy of Jeanine Pirro to challenge Hillary Clinton's Senate seat. Pirro may be way behind in the polls (this is New York, after all) but the challenge could put Hillary on the defensive, especially is Pirro makes an issue of pledging to serve out a full Senate term.
Breaking news - "Swat team nabs fugitive couple" in Columbus, Ohio.
Back in the saddle again

Finally and with con$iderable expen$e, I got my computer back from the Geek Squad at Best Buy. Long story short, my hard drive was dying and they installed a new one. However, this meant that they re-installed Windows XP and all else was lost, except for the data in the "My Documents" files. I need to re-install everything.

The only programs they installed were PC-cillin AntiVirus and SpySweeper; so far these programs have been the watchdogs of the system. I re-installed Office XP and I'll get to the other stuff tomorrow. Ciao.
Like a salmon swimming upstream...

Well, I tried to post from my sister's ancient computer with dial-up, but never in the three years since she got the Emachine has she checked her system for spyware/adware. Trying to get through her Internet connection was like slogging through mud as I desperately tried to close pop-ups as fast as they appeared. Eventually I figured out that her Netscape browser only had a fraction of pop-ups and I managed to download Ad-Aware. On it's first run, it found over 1100 bad files; after the definition update it found 200 more.

Still, I couldn't get onto Blogger and even now I'm editing a current post (the space shuttle got down) rather than make a new one. I'm not even sure if this will publish after I'm done. I'm on my wife's Apple Powerbook running an old version of AOL.

My computer is still at Best Buy, but the Geek Squad guy said they managed to clean the disk of all viruses but that they're having trouble moving all the data to the new hard drive and it will be a couple more days. (Sigh). Still, I was happy they took care of that virus/spyware attack and installed new security software. While I was away, I also downloaded SpyWall, Registry Mechanic, and Mozilla Firefox; I'll install all these after I get my computer back over the next couple days. The Best Buy guy said it'll definitely be done by Friday because they need to clear out for the big sale this weekend. Here in Massachusetts there's going to be a "sales tax free" weekend so everybody's holding off on major purchases until the weekend. It's funny but some people don't like to pay taxes.

Your favorite blogger will be back up to speed soon. [crossing fingers] As always, thanks for your E-mails and comments with comptuer advice. I think I'm almost out of the woods.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Breaking news - Peter Jennings dies at 67 - details at ABC News
Not that there’s anything wrong with that - From Fox News “Former Oil-for-Food chief quits U.N.”: “The former chief of the Iraqi Oil-for-Food program, Benon Sevan, resigned from the United Nations Sunday — just hours before the results of a probe are expected to accuse him of getting kickbacks from the $67 billion operation.” Of course, Sevan is admitting nothing and instead is blaming Kofi Annan for using the investigation for “political gain.” Who says the United Nations isn’t a mature and purposeful organization?
Speaking of the Sunday talk shows - There was a panelist on "The Chris Matthews Show" (somebody from "Vogue"?) who said there was a stealth campaign going on, especially among Southern Democrats, to "stop Hillary." She went on to say that the belief is growing that Hillary Clinton would do worse than Gore or Kerry in a general election because she could never swing some of the more moderate/conservative districts in Ohio and Pennsylvania, for example, over to the Democrats' side.

I only fear Hillary in the sense that she will spend the next year running to the middle, knowing that the nostalgia-driven liberal base will fall in behind a Clinton candidacy during the general election. Then again, the Senate has been a dead-end for Presidential asperations, so Hillary, noted recluse Joe Biden, and Evan Byah will have a tough time. I'm more worried about Democratic governors below the Mason-Dixon line such as Mark Warner of Virginia or Bill Richardson in New Mexico.
And Thomas Pynchon was on "Face the Nation"

Do you know who appeared on one of the Sunday morning talk shows this morning? Joe Biden! Wow. He was deeply concerned about something, yet not enough to offer any opinion on how to address the issue. Repeatedly, an eyebrow was furrowed.
As Bob Dylan once sang

It's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard drive's gonna crash.

Well, I just got the call from Best Buy's Geek Squad and they tell me that, yes, there are viruses on my computer and yes they can clean them, but that my hard drive also has damaged sectors which is making a bad situation worse. I asked them to clean the current drive as much as possible, copy my data to a new hard drive, and then install the PC-cillian and "Geek Squad" anti-virus programs.

Now a 100GB hard drive is on sale for $50 and the anti-virus programs are also in the Sunday flyer for $29. Throw in some labor. I asked the guy how much the damage would be and he said: $260. Phhhhh...... For heaven's sake, I can almost get a new computer for that. But what can I do? I can't lose all the data on that hard drive: pictures, ITunes, personal and professional documents. I guess I'm just going to have to chalk this up as an expensive lesson: pay more attention to security.

This thing better move like Flash when I get it back on Wednesday...otherwise it's Apple time.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

The national Ponzi scheme - I totally meant to link to this Willisms post: The high cost of Social Security's status quo. Scroll down to the graph showing the huge expansion of the retiree pool, and tremble.

Friday, August 05, 2005

The "reality based community" strikes again! - Moonbat Blog Taxonomy from Rightwing Nuthouse. Good stuff.
Catching up - What did Bob Novak do? Yikes.
Update the Krugman Cat Index - Employers expand payrolls by 207,000 jobs in July, umemployment rate steady at 5%. But then stocks slipped because traders were worried about inflation due to job and wage growth. Meh. I'm just happy that tax revenues will increase to narrow the deficit.
Computer agonistes

Well, here I am blogging on another borrowed computer, this time down in Pennsylvania. What follows may be boring, but I feel I should detail what's happened in case somebody else has a similar problem.

My Norton anti-virus detected a backdoor virus and tried to remove but judging from the history, it was only quarantined. No matter: the damage appears to have affected (surprise!) my Internet Explorer program. After I scanned for viruses with McAfee's Stinger and a Trojan cleaning program, I re-ran both AdAware and Search and Destroy to remove spyware. Finally, I was able to get onto my AOL account and Microsoft security asked if I wanted to update my virus definitions. Yes, yes I would, but instead of using the browser embedded in AOL, the security program opened a separate Internet Explorer page through the DSL service.

All hell broke loose. Pop-ups galore. Virtual Bouncer and AdDestroyer started to load automatically and take over the computer. CPU usage shot up to 99% and I was battling to turn things off but the computer couldn't respond. Eventually I killed the DSL, opened task manager and shut down the applications and processes.

Rebooted into safe mode and ran everything (virus & spyware scan) again. When I rebooted and merely turned my DSL modem on (did not connect to a service) all the spyware programs started loading again. Clearly something on my computer was calling for these downloads and no matter how much I scrubbed I couldn't get rid of the problem. Now my Norton Systemworks wouldn't even run and the AOL & MSN startups would crash immediately. [Do I want to send a report to Microsoft? No.]

So....since I was going away for the weekend anyway, I threw in the towel and brought my computer to the "Geek Squad" at Best Buy to get everything back to normal. I didn't want to micromanage the problem since I'm sure these guys have a standard procedure, but in hindsight I wish I had asked him to load FireFox or some other kind of browser.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Explainer answers my question

Yes, I actually sent an E-mail to Slate’s Explainer and Daniel Engber responded with “The Waking of the PresidentWho decides when to rouse the commander-in-chief?” Thanks, Slate!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Massive, painful virus attack

Despite all my safeguards, it looks like I've picked up some kind of virus last night as I was posting about the Ohio special election (which, thankfully, the Republican won). A "backdoor" message and virus alert from Norton flashed briefly and then it was the abyss. Multiple adware programs loading, pop-ups galore, and the CPU usage shot up to 100% meaning that I couldn't stop anything with the normal utilities.

In Task Manager, I shut down the processes using up 98% of the CPU but it was still dog-slow. A full virus scan revealed nothing and AdAware only picked up the malware such as Virtual Bouncer. Restarted in safe mode, which seemed OK, so at least I can get documents and pictures. But there's no way I'm turning my DSL back on until this is straightened out - (I'm on a borrowed computer right now.)

I'm going to try to get advice/patches/download fixes on this loaner but it's more likely that I'll interpret this attack as a sign that I should get professional help and, while I'm at it, update my processor speed to something in the GHz range.

So posting is going to be spotty over the next week or so. I'm visiting relatives over the weekend and I don't know how much access I'll have, unless I can find an Internet cafe in rural Pennsylvania. (Didn't there used to be a site called "Amish Tech Support"?).

These things happen.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Much too close for comfort in Ohio’s 2nd

Bizzyblog is live-blogging
Here’s the Cincinnati local news station
Minute-by-minute breakdown on Redstate
NRO’s Buzz is keeping track
And here’s the Free Republic thread

Republicans should breathe a sigh of relief if they pull this off. This was a district that went solidly for Bush in 2000 and 2004. Scary. Right now at a quarter-after-10, it's Schmidt by only 800 votes out of nearly 100,000 cast (shades of Washington state anyone?)

A good sign? They’re talking about recounts and election irregularities over at Kos.
Dropping like a stone - From Election Projection, here are some stats on the “submerging Democratic majority”: “For every two Americans who say they're liberals, three are conservatives. Democrats lost 97 of the 100 fastest-growing counties in the country last year. Small cities and most suburbs buried the Democratic ticket. Ditto married couples with children. The Democratic vote among the Hispanic population fell 40 percent from 2000. And it collapsed among voters earning more than $40,000 a year.” Hey, we haven't heard from Howard Dean in a while.

Extra – Powerline reflects on the loons.
Song parody time - Originally performed by the Strangeloves (not Bow Wow Wow): “I Want Condi” She’s so awesome.
Like snapping a Polaroid of Al Franken kicking a puppy

How much fun is the Air Enron scandal? I mean of all the things: stealing from widows and orphans! Every day brings a new set of embarrassing details, another backtrack from Air America, and more silence from the MSM. Michelle Malkin has the latest and Brian Maloney has been all over the story; also check out this pic from the Cracker Barrel Philosopher.
High-def TV, DVDs and microwavable popcorn – “Hollywood’s Death Spiral, part 2: Are movie theaters facing extinction?”
Cats and dogs living together – I agree with Joe Biden: we need to have better safeguards for chemical containers carried on rail cars. There are thousands of miles of track across the country, susceptible to sabotage or attack.

Monday, August 01, 2005

A mighty victory it was - Here’s Charlie Brown celebrating John Bolton’s appointment to the United Nations at, um, Stop Bolton: “For now, however, let us celebrate what we have accomplished. Congratulations and thanks for everything you’ve done to make today possible.” Hooray, we lost!
Special election in Ohio

Ohio’s second congressional district is having a special election tomorrow to fill the seat of Rep. Rob Portman who became a U.S. trade representative. The Air America crowd is beating the drum for Paul Hackett, an anti-war Iraq war veteran. He’s running against GOP candidate and former state legislator Jean Schmidt.

I don’t know how this will shake out (can’t find any polls) but if history is any guide, the Republican with some political experience will defeat the anti-war Democrat. Stay tuned.

Update – From Fox News: “Ohio special election could be bellwether for 06

For political junkies – The Ohio Secretary of State (HT: Dave W.)

Extra – Polipundit urges Ohioans to get out and vote for Schmidt. Lorie Byrd calls Hackett’s campaign ad “one of the most misleading I have ever seen.”

Bonus - John Hawkins sez: “Jabber all you want, Paul Hackett is going to lose
Our friends the Saudis - Here’s some background from Frontline: “The House of Saud” But hey, what’s this? “Saudi Al-Qaeda link to London bombers probed” Some things never change.
Ambassador John Bolton

John Kerry made a comment about John Bolton’s recess nomination and, essentially, lied:

“The president has the right to make this recess appointment, but it's the wrong decision. It only diminishes John Bolton's validity and leverage to secure America's goals at the U.N. John Bolton has been rejected twice by the Senate to serve as our Ambassador to the United Nations. This is not the way to fill our most important diplomatic jobs.”
As Captain Ed ably notes, President Bush was (temporarily) thwarted from choosing whom he wanted to represent the United States in the U.N. as Bolton was twice denied an up-or-down vote in the Senate.

But White House press secretary Scott McClellan wasn’t entirely honest either:

"Ambassador Bolton is planning on taking the oath of office today and he is also planning on going to New York today to get about doing the important work at the United Nations. The President began thinking about the -- a nomination, a recess appointment of Ambassador Bolton after it became clear that a handful of Democrats were going to continue engaging in partisan delaying tactics and prevent him from having a fair up or down vote on the floor of the Senate. This was despite the fact that he had a clear majority of support from the United States Senate. On two occasions, as Chairman Lugar noted in his statement, the Senate showed a clear majority was in support of his nomination to the United Nations."
Yes, it was very likely that John Bolton would have been approved by the Senate had he received a straight vote. But it’s also remotely possible that he would have been rejected. That is, it’s possible that the Republican Senators voted for cloture purely on the principal that the President's nominee deserved an up-or-down vote. But we’ll never know because the Democrats insisted on dragging out the nomination with paper chases and unfair characterizations. Say hello to the ambassador, boys.

Extra – From Decision08: “The top 10 reactions to the Bolton appointment
The stealth issue - Opinion Journal: “Filibustering judges has only hurt the Democrats
No-slumber in chief

The other day I saw a story about how President Bush was rousted from bed to place late-night phone calls to waving Republicans during the CAFTA vote. Then today, there’s this in the news story about King Fahd of Saudi Arabia: “Fahd died at approximately 2:30 a.m. EDT, a senior Saudi official in Washington told The Associated Press. President Bush was alerted within minutes of Fahd's death, the official said on condition of anonymity.”

So somebody has to wake up the President. A Google search on “woke up the President” suggests that it’s mainly White House chief of staff Andy Card’s job. But I’m pretty sure that Card doesn’t live in the White House. Does he have to rush over (as in “within minutes”) when he gets the news? Does he have to put on a suit? Is it entirely his discretion as to what topics are important enough to wake the President? (Hmmm…this might be a good question for the Explainer.)