Thursday, August 31, 2006

Let’s get adequately prepared to rumble

Labor Day is almost upon us, signaling the start of the silly political season. One political party is measuring the curtains (at least in the House of Representatives) while the other party is depressed. Let’s see where we stand in the polls:

Republicans have moved closer to the Democrats in a congressional voter-preference poll just as the election campaigns near the official Labor Day starting gate.
The surprising findings in a little-noticed Gallup Poll that were ignored by most of the national news media shows the Democrats barely leading the Republicans by just two points -- 47 percent to 45 percent.
So it’s all even from the start. Who has more gas in the tank?

But the flare-up underscores one of the Democrats' biggest worries about this fall's elections: money. Top party officials are fretting that the GOP will dominate the ad wars in September and October. "My greatest fear is there will be a wall of money coming in at the end," said David Plouffe, a Democratic strategist working on some of the House campaigns. House Democrats actually have almost the same amount of money as House Republicans, $33 million to $34 million, but the Republican National Committee has $43 million, compared to $11 million for Dean's DNC.
Plus, you can bet that Americans will be unnerved by the thought of “Speaker Pelosi” as we approach the five-year anniversary of 9/11. Then there’s this final twist from USA Today: “Gasoline prices could keep falling

"The only place they have to go is down," says Fred Rozell, gasoline analyst at the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS). "We'll be closer to $2 than $3 come Thanksgiving."
It’s gonna be interesting.
The new Oracle has spoken! – Ben Bernanke says four percent. This means something.
Surely this is some kind of Onion-type spoof: “Biden’s Iowa visit shows he’s a viable candidate.” Sure, sure he is.
More Americans: good or bad?

Some say bad: “The United States, now at nearly 300 million people, is the only industrialized country that has experienced strong population growth in the last decade, creating concerns that the boom and Americans' huge appetites for food, water, and land will sharply erode the nation's natural resources in coming years, according to a report released yesterday.”

How much growth?: “While some researchers focus on alarming fertility rates in poor countries, which grew by 16.3 percent from 1995 to 2005, the US population grew by 10.6 percent in that period, or 29 million people, the report noted. Europe during that time grew by 504,000 people, or less than 1 percent. The US population boom was attributed to high birth rates, immigration, and increased longevity.”

You’ll never go wrong with the Thomas Malthus view on population growth because of the intuitive “geometric rate vs. arithmetic rate” comparison. The only problem is that it’s been wrong for 200 years, and there’s no evidence that will change. With regard to my favorite issue, the high birth and immigration rates will alleviate the entitlement crunch over the next couple decades. Conversely, in Europe the flight of young professionals (i.e. taxpayers) to America will severely test the social safety net.
Big Dig delay – From the Boston Globe: “Months more of tunnel repairs Transit officials step up plans to ease traffic woes” MTA officials are adding extra trains, but they’re not taking my advice of eliminating fares.
Is there no bottom? - Bush Derangement Syndrome jumps the shark

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Air America update – The Radio Equalizer reports that “hot-headed extremist” Mike Malloy was unceremoniously dumped from the liberal network. At least their ratings are not dropping any further, so that’s something.
The downward spiral of Zimbabwe – From the WashPost: “Situation still dire for Zimbabweans” – “A new report by human rights activists Wednesday paints a grim picture of life in Zimbabwe, more than a year after authorities demolished urban houses, shelters and market stalls in a campaign called "Operation Drive Out Trash."”

Inflation is at 1000%, AIDS is killing 3,000 people a week, and food shortages are leading to stories like this: “Stampede for zebra meat” – “Hard-pressed Zimbabweans last week stampeded to have a chunk of zebra meat after the animal which had strayed from a farm on the outskirts of the city was knocked down by a car in the leafy suburb of Mabelreign.” Sad.
Political data – Scott at Election Projection is busy projecting elections. Bookmark this.
The economic tipping point

From Democratic Strategy, Anne Kim writes that the Democrats are stuck in a “Message of Misery” that alienates the middle class:

$23,700. That is the household income level at which a white person became more likely to vote for a Republican over a Democrat in congressional races in 2004. That's $5,000 above the poverty line for a family of four, less than half the median income of the typical voting household of all races, and an emphatic repudiation of all things Democratic among the white middle class. Obtaining a sustainable Democratic majority in either house will be impossible unless there is a significant change in this economic tipping point.
In a nutshell, most Americans in the middle class simply do not accept the doom and gloom of the Democrats. Hat tip: Real Clear Politics.
Quote of the Day – Investor’s Business Daily on the Plame/Wilson vapor: “From top to bottom, this has been one of the most disgraceful abuses of prosecutorial power in this country's history. That it's taking place at a time of war only magnifies its sordidness.” More from Q&O, Christopher Hitchens, and Opinion Journal.
Shut up, they explained – Today’s Boston Globe profiles “MIT’s inconvenient scientist” one Richard Lindzen who refuses to swallow whole Al Gore’s theory of global warming. Mind you, he does believe that global warming exists but since he won’t endorse the “end of days” scenario, the heretic Lindzen has been labeled a “shill” for the oil companies and a “hood ornament” for the automakers.
Big cash, little progress – From Opinion Journal: “The tragedy of New Orleans” – “Congress has approved $122.5 billion for the Gulf Region, a figure incomprehensible in size to anyone but, well, a politician. The real wonder is that anyone is surprised, much less feigning surprise, that things are going poorly.”
Because you can’t spell FORlorn Dad without “F-O-R-D” – Slate looks at “The Divorcemobile – Ford’s bizarre new SUV ad.” It’s the one where Dad is dropped off at the “recent divorce condo complex” while Mom drives away with the kids. Now let's all buy a Ford!

The most cringe-inducing commercial I ever saw was the one for the Chrysler Concorde. The mother is explaining to her pre-teen daughter that she and her sister were named for the places where they were conceived. "So that's why my name is 'Savannah'?" asks the girl. Yes, responds Mom, and it's suddenly obvious where little Concorde was conceived. Ugh. (Later versions of this commerical added a voice-over with Mom saying something like "Concord, Massachusetts, silly.")
Family sues over Big Dig death

From the Boston Globe: “Says profits were priority for Big Dig

The daughter and husband of Milena Del Valle , the Jamaica Plain woman who was crushed to death in July by falling ceiling panels in the Interstate-90 connector tunnel, filed a lawsuit yesterday against nine companies and the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority in a case legal observers believe could bring record punitive damages.
These facts are not in dispute:

The 14-page complaint alleges that Big Dig managers and contractors consistently chose to save time and money on the construction of the I-90 tunnel at the expense of safety by selecting concrete panels for the ceiling instead of lighter, more costly ones, and then suspending the 4,500-pound slabs over drivers' heads with bolts fastened to the tunnel roof with epoxy. Specialists have said that epoxy-and-bolt systems are seldom used to suspend such heavy ceilings without back up support.
It’s likely we’ll never know how much the Del Valle family will receive for Milena’s tragic and untimely death since most cases are settled out of court for large, undisclosed amounts.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Today’s least-surprising revelation

From the NY Times: “Details emerge in British terror case

Investigators say they believe that one of the leaders of the group, an unemployed man in his 20’s who was living in a modest apartment on government benefits, kept the key to the alleged “bomb factory” and helped others record martyrdom videos, the officials said.
Of course. “Death to the infidels” and “Where’s my check?”
The test is too long, the kids cried – Average SAT scores recorded the sharpest drop in 31 years and the College Board says it’s because the kids are tired from the longer test. Joanne Jacobs further notes that analogies are gone and the math is harder.
What’s another $15 million on top of $15 billion? – From the Boston Globe: “State set to seek $15m for tunnels” – “The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority board of directors appears poised tomorrow to authorize spending up to $15 million to repair two Big Dig tunnels, reflecting the unexpectedly widespread safety problems investigators have discovered since the fatal ceiling collapse last month.”
Circuit City sucks

I know nobody really cares about this but it’s my blog and I’m going to vent. Tonight I went to the Holyoke Circuit City (boy, I hope corporate picks up on those keywords: “Holyoke Circuit City”) for an MP3 player. Before I went there, I checked on the Internet and it was listed as “in stock” at the idiot-clogged Holyoke Circuit City.

But it wasn’t on the shelf. As the useless clerk walked away, I punched up the website and demonstrated that it was (allegedly) in stock. “Do you want it?” this moron asked. “No, dipshit, I just wanted to verify your inventory,” I thought. (Not a bad idea in hindsight). So five minutes later I get a “save ticket” with the promise that the item is in the store. Next, up to the inaptly named “Customer Service.”

Five minutes. Then, when a register opens, I get one of those “it’s time for my break” asswipes, who then walks over to chat with his buddy in digital cameras. WTF! Five more minutes as the two remaining retards behind the counter try to figure out how to fill out credit card forms. Finally, I get a cashier who makes sure she completes the only action that Circuit City really cares about: charging my credit card. Only then does she disappear into inventory to look for the mythical MP3 player.

Five minutes.
Ten minutes.

Here she comes: “there’s a discrepancy in inventory.” She checks the computer: “we have three units in Springfield.” Pause. “We can give you $10 off.” Pause. Me: “No. Give me my money back.”

I’ll never shop at Circuit City again. Screw you, ass-clowns.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Scaring Grandma – After sucking up to the anti-Walmart unions, there’s no biannual tradition more cherished among Democrats than telling seniors that the Republicans are itching to take away their Social Security checks. And speaking of tilting at windmills, here are Bob Kerrey and Warren Rudman of the Concord Coalition on “Securing Future Fiscal Health.”

Extra – Bulldog Pundit: “Bobby Casey, Jr. – Classless little twit
Tilting at the Wal-Mart windmill

Even Democrats who are former chairmen of the pro-business DLC (e.g. Joe Lieberman, Evan Bayh) are joining the anti-WalMart cause. Sebastian Mallaby writes that “none of these Democrats can resist dumb economic populism.” Here’s the evil that Walmart has visited upon our fair land:

For a party that needs the votes of Wal-Mart's customers, this is a questionable strategy. But there is more than politics at stake. According to a paper for theNational Bureau of Economic Research by Jerry Hausman and Ephraim Leibtag, neither of whom received funding from Wal-Mart, big-box stores led by Wal-Mart reduce families' food bills by one-fourth. Because Wal-Mart's price-cutting also has a big impact on the non-food stuff it peddles, it saves U.S. consumers upward of $200 billion a year, making it a larger booster of family welfare than the federal government's $33 billion food-stamp program.
Is this good politics for the Democrats? Here are Paul Gigot and Kimberly Strassel on the Journal Editorial Report:

Gigot: Democrats are picking another fight with business. At least a half dozen of the party's presidential contenders have appeared at protests across the country this summer, denouncing the retail giant Wal-Mart for what they say are substandard wages and health-care benefits. It's a rallying cry many Democrats believe will prove powerful in the midterm elections. But could it backfire?

Kim, explain this to me. This is a company that employs something like 1.3 million Americans; 127 million Americans shop there at Wal-Mart during the week. Yet Democrats think this is terrific politics. Why?

Strassel: I don't think it's terrific politics with the general public or the people who work at Wal-Mart. What it is, is it's meant to suck up to the unions who are powerful in elections. And this is a union issue. This hasn't been talked about enough in the Wal-Mart campaign. What you have here are unions that are very unhappy. They have never been able to organize the largest employer in the country. But more importantly, Wal-Mart's success, its phenomenal low-cost structure, is putting a lot of pressure on their own employers. And that is causing lost jobs, fewer stores, shutdowns. And so, what you have here are unions, who are now trying through laws, like these Wal-Mart laws you've seen around the country, and through political pressure, to force Wal-Mart to actually have to take on the high cost structure that their own employers have.
Point of note: more people shop at Wal-Mart every week than voted in the Presidential election. Thus, most Democrats will (as usual) say one thing to union supporters and another to the rank-and-file workers who depend on Walmart for low-cost goods.

More – Via New Editor: “Walmart’s a diversion
Accidentally Armitage

This entry on the Corner by Byron York helps to answer the question “Why Libby and not Armitage?” in the PlameGate thing:

Once the FBI started asking questions, in October 2003, Armitage told investigators he talked to Novak. Karl Rove told investigators he talked to Novak. The CIA's Bill Harlow told investigators he talked to Novak. Their stories, along with Novak's description of how he learned about Plame (Novak talked to investigators at the same time, describing the process, but not naming sources), all lined up pretty well.

And then came Libby. Libby wasn't Novak's source. But in his interviews, Libby clearly raised eyebrows when he told investigators he learned about Plame from Tim Russert. According to the Libby indictment, Libby said that "Russert asked Libby if Libby was aware that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA." The story didn't fit with the others, and that would most likely make investigators suspect that somebody wasn't telling the truth. In this case, it probably appeared that person was Libby.
York dispels the notion there was some grand cabal at work with secret handshakes and blood oaths. In the end, it was all just CYA office politics with the State Department, the CIA, the White House and cast of dozens trying to remember (or mis-remember) their contacts with the media.
How to get free airfare from Thailand – “Charges Against JonBenet Ramsey Murder Suspect Dropped
Al Gore shifts focus

What happened to global warming, Al?

Americans shouldn't expect Mother Nature to help with their heating bills this winter because it's going to be nippy, according to the Farmers' Almanac. This winter will be much colder than normal from coast to coast, the 190-year-old publication predicts in its latest edition.
Quick, what’s the next ManBearPig? Al says: Fox News is undermining democracy! Ah, it’s a golden oldie. You can’t go wrong with the ole “stolen election” schtick.

Extra – From Tim Blair: “Cruel Ice in Retreat

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Amazing Race update – The best reality show on television has justifiably picked up its fourth Emmy for “best reality show.” Long live Phil’s arching eyebrow!

Extra – And Kiefer Sutherland just won for best actor on “24.” It would have been awesome if he had stepped up the microphone, yelled “I don’t have time for this!” and rushed offstage while pulling out a 9mm.
Punishment enough – Saddam Hussein forced to watch himself on “South Park
History repeating itself

There were two stories in today’s Boston Globe that were chilling in their juxtaposition. First, in “Ex-Red Guard recalls China’s Cultural Revolution” a foot soldier in Mao’s guard recalls the movement that nearly destroyed China:

``We did what you see on TV or in films," Li said. ``We put up big-character posters and went around to the houses of the rich and landowners to get their stuff. We took their money, gold, silver, and things and gave it to the government. And of course, we also destroyed the stuff that belonged to the Four Olds category."

That included such cultural symbols and treasures as museums, paintings,sculptures, books, musical instruments, and anything associated with``superstitious" religious beliefs, including churches and temples.

As Mao goaded on the Red Guards over the next few months, they began attacking anyone deemed counter-revolutionary.

Millions of artists, writers, government officials, thinkers, and teachers were beaten, humiliated, and sometimes spontaneously lynched in public meetings known as ``struggle" sessions.
Two pages later comes the Venezuelan Cultural Revolution:

When a Venezuelan crime drama broke box-office records here last year, drawing critical acclaim and a cult following in the ghettos where it was filmed, the young director hoped the movie would spark a debate on how to address poverty, violence, and class divisions.

Instead, the nation's most successful home-grown film ever, which depicted the kidnapping of a rich, cocaine-snorting couple by barrio gangsters, ignited a furious backlash from the government.

Vice President José Vicente Rangel has denounced the movie, loosely based on the real-life kidnapping of the director, as ``a falsification of the truth with no artistic value."

The director is being sued for ``vilifying" President Hugo Chávez, though the president never appears in the film, nor is he mentioned.

In January, the hosts of a government television program accused the Jewish filmmaker of being part of a ``Zionist conspiracy against Chávez." The next morning, the president angrily called for laws to block the production of films that "denigrate our revolution."

Hours later, the 28-year-old director, Jonathan Jakubowicz, fled the country, fearing for his life.

The controversy over ``Secuestro Express" (``Express Kidnapping") is one chapter in a bitter tug of war over culture and image in Chávez's Venezuela.

Critics say the government is obsessed with promoting a perfect picture of life under Chávez, sponsoring art that feeds his personality cult and glorifies his populist revolution. Artists who criticize Chávez or portray anything negative about contemporary Venezuela say they are condemned or sidelined.
For the revolution is always right, the revolution is always good, and four legs may be good, but two legs is better.
The last 20 songs I downloaded from ITunes

Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue - Crystal Gayle
Time Passages - Al Stewart
Viva Las Vegas - Elvis Presley
The House That Jack Built - Aretha Franklin
Red Rubber Ball - The Cyrkle
Nothing from Nothing - Billy Preston
Hospital Food - David Gray
As Soon as I Hang Up the Phone - Loretta Lynn & Conway Twitty
Ain't No Sunshine - Bill Withers
Stranded In a Limo - Paul Simon
Junk Food Junkie - Larry Groce
Feel Flows - The Beach Boys
Aeroplane - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Lights and Sounds - Yellowcard
A.M. Radio - Everclear
Jane - Jefferson Starship
Here It Goes Again - OK Go
Weapon of Choice - Fatboy Slim
Heard It In a Love Song - The Marshall Tucker Band

Fox News journalists released.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Heavy (water) development – Iran has taken the next step towards nuclear weapons by opening a heavy water production plant. Jihad Watch notes: “Now it's a fait accompli. Will the West respond with a healthy sense of self-preservation?
Good news? – From the Jerusalem Post – “Kidnappers to free Fox newsmen”: “The kidnappers of the two Fox News journalists abducted in Gaza City on August 14 have promised to release them unharmed, Palestinian Authority officials said on Saturday night.”

More - Michelle Malkin is monitoring the situation.
Sunday morning lineup – A year later, it’s an all-Katrina roundup and a parade of Louisiana politicians. Oh, and Joe Biden.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Unbelievable moonbattery – From Ace: “HuffPo Poster (NOT Commenter) Pines For Another 9/11 To Force American "Regime Change"”

Extra - RedState: “Holy Lord, they are unhinged.” But don’t question their patriotism!
The laziest post

I’ve been a little under the weather with terrible allergies and I just want to veg out and watch the Busch series race from Bristol. Here are a couple of stories of interest I glanced over today:

Jonah Goldberg: “Wal-Mart drives Democrats batty
Amir Taheri: “Hezbollah didn’t win
Charles Krauthammer: “The perils of using the ‘allies’
Michelle Malkin: “The persecution of Lina Joy

I’ll be back after my son goes to bed and stops hogging the laptop playing “Rollercoaster Tycoon.”

Thursday, August 24, 2006

It stinks – Journalist Matthew Hoy can’t believe that the New York Times has hired a perfume critic: “the biggest waste of scarce journalistic resources in the history of mankind.”
My genius is empirically provenTaller people are smarter (Hat tip to Greg Mankiw via Jane Galt)
Deploy the magic wands – I was going to write a response to Joe Biden’s “plan” for Iraq, but I really can’t improve upon this Red State fisking. After criticizing the Democrats for being all gripe and no plan, I do need to give Biden credit for presenting something. But his “unity is separation” proposal is far-fetched while the “aid from oil-rich states” as well as the “international conference” is more wishful thinking boilerplate than usable policy.
Forget what you learned in the 4th gradeNow there are eight planets.

This screws up my mnemonic device: “My very easy method, just set up nine planets” which will have to change to “My very easy method, just sweep up nails” or something.
Racing to win for points

The WashPost details the perverse effects of NASCAR’s points system where it’s often more important to just finish a race than to win. Get ready for assembly line crashing at Bristol this week as 43 cars squeeze onto a half-mile course.
Keystone state politics - Opinion Journal asks: “Can Senator Santorum survive?” I think author Jason Riley misses a big factor in this question in the third-party candidacy of the Green Party’s Jim Romanelli. As the only pro-choice candidate, he could peel off enough votes from Bob Casey to send Santorum back to the Senate. This is why Pennsylvania Democrats are fighting so hard to keep him off the ballot.
Talk and talk some more, but take no action

Well, that can describe either Iran or the United Nations. From Opinion Journal – “Iran’s nuclear strategy is to divide and conquer the U.N.”:

Two months ago the U.N. Security Council offered Iran a choice: Stop enriching uranium in violation of its treaty agreements, and the world would negotiate better diplomatic and commercial relations. Keep enriching the fuel for nuclear weapons, however, and face isolation and sanctions. Tehran's rulers have now given their answer: They won't stop enriching uranium, but they're happy to keep talking about it.
Prepare for more stern warnings, sir!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The blank slate party

An editorial cartoon from yesterday’s Hartford Courant:

And from the Sunday NY Times Magazine, here’s the umpteenth article I’ve seen about how the Democrats have no core ideals: “What are the Lieberman foes for?”

If history were to repeat itself, this outpouring of new liberal passion would portend trouble for the party's establishment candidates in 2008 (especially one possible candidate whose last name happens to be Clinton). But there is at least one crucial difference between insurgents of the 1970's and today. When [Jeffrey] Bell ran for the Senate in 1978, he was so obsessed with his plan to slash taxes that he went to the extraordinary length of bringing in Arthur Laffer, the renowned conservative economist, to draw his famous Laffer Curve at a news conference in Trenton. By contrast, Lamont's signature proposal as a primary candidate - and the only one anyone cared to hear, really - seemed to be the hard-to-dispute notion that he is not, in fact, Joe Lieberman. He offered platitudes about universal health care and good jobs and about bringing the troops home but nothing that might define him as anything other than what he is: an acceptable alternative.
Which explains this:

Of the 11% of likely voters undecided in the US Senate ballot, 57% have a favorable opinion of Lieberman and 43% have an unfavorable opinion of Lieberman, and 4% have a favorable opinion of Lamont, 41% have an unfavorable opinion of Lamont, and 55% are aware of Lamont but do not know enough about him to have an opinion.
He’s not Joe Lieberman! Geez. What more do you need to know?
Easy money

Robert Samuelson writes that with the Fed steadily raising interest rates, the age of easy credit is coming to an end. Good thing, too:

In 1946 households had 22 cents of debt for each dollar of disposable income. Now they have $1.26. Behind these numbers lies a profound social upheaval: the "democratization" of debt. Everyone gets to borrow. But this process may have reached its limits.
The banks have done a superb job erasing the stigma of borrowing:

The origins of today's credit culture date to the 1920s and the advent of installment lending for cars and appliances (stoves, refrigerators, radios), says economist Martha Olney, author of "Buy Now, Pay Later." Attitudes changed. In the 19th century, "it was thought that only irresponsible families bought on credit," she says. "By the 1920s, it was only foolish families that didn't buy on credit and use it while they were paying for it." In the mid-1920s, 60 to 70 percent of cars were sold on one- to two-year loans.
PBS had a great Frontline special on the credit industry and the tactics they use to keep people charging and in debt. Ben (“Bueller?”) Stein said that he pays off his credit card every month and people like him (and me) are ironically called “deadbeats” by the credit industry.
Not a delaying tactic – WashPost: “Iran pushes for talks without conditions U.N. demand on freeze on nuclear work rejected.” France, Germany and England have been negotiating with Iran since 2003 but these new talks are sure to bear fruit.
Mystery solved

From Townhall: “Ideology 1, Law 0: Another strange decision

Who is Anna Diggs Taylor and what does she have against national security?

The answer to the first question is: a U.S. district judge in Detroit. The answer to the second is as mysterious as the decision she handed down Thursday.
Here’s the answer from today’s NY Times – “Conflict of interest is raised in NSA ruling”:

The federal judge who ruled last week that President Bush’s eavesdropping program was unconstitutional is a trustee and an officer of a group that has given at least $125,000 to the American Civil Liberties Union in Michigan, a watchdog group said Tuesday.
Taylor’s association with the ACLU may not have been a cause for disqualification from the case, but legal ethicists agree she should have disclosed the connection. Frankly, I don’t see how a trustee for the ACLU could have seen herself an unbiased arbiter of “ACLU vs. NSA.”

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Are Democrats the political version of the Shakers?

Last month, the Boston Globe magazine had an interesting article titled “The last ones standing” about the last four Shakers in the world. Since the religious group believes in a celibate lifestyle (depending in the past on converts to populate the flock) they have basically bred themselves out of existence. Now from Opinion Journal, Arthur C. Brooks reveals the “Fertility Gap” between conservatives and liberals:

Simply put, liberals have a big baby problem: They're not having enough of them, they haven't for a long time, and their pool of potential new voters is suffering as a result. According to the 2004 General Social Survey, if you picked 100 unrelated politically liberal adults at random, you would find that they had, between them, 147 children. If you picked 100 conservatives, you would find 208 kids. That's a "fertility gap" of 41%. Given that about 80% of people with an identifiable party preference grow up to vote the same way as their parents, this gap translates into lots more little Republicans than little Democrats to vote in future elections. Over the past 30 years this gap has not been below 20%--explaining, to a large extent, the current ineffectiveness of liberal youth voter campaigns today.
The gap continues to widen year by year so the general trend will always be towards a more conservative electorate.
The only cheese he knows is American – Rich Lowry: “You’ll never confuse George W. Bush for a Frenchman.”

Charles de Gaulle: “How can you govern a country which has two hundred and forty-six varieties of cheese?”
Social Security as a campaign issue

The Washington Times reports that in several tight races, the entitlement program is being used as a cudgel against Republicans:

Republican and Democratic candidates have been sparring over Social Security in key races in New Jersey, Florida, Colorado, Washington and Pennsylvania, with some Republicans distancing themselves from President Bush's idea to create personal retirement accounts.
I’d like to believe that the Republicans could make a case for the long-term solvency of the popular program, but it’s hard to fight back against the “privatization” lie. Better to put off reform until the program is bankrupt.

Extra – From President Bush’s press conference yesterday: “I'd remind people that pro-growth economic policies had helped us cut that deficit faster than we thought. I'd also remind people, if I were running, that a long-term problem facing the budget is Social Security and Medicare.”
A hole larger than the Big Dig - It’s the one that Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Christopher Gabrieli is throwing his cash into, trying to secure the Democratic nomination: “A month before the Democratic primary, gubernatorial candidate Christopher F. Gabrieli has poured almost $7.5 million of his own money into his campaign, shattering the record set by Governor Mitt Romney in 2002.” Good luck with that, Chris!

Monday, August 21, 2006

The grand bargain

Mickey Kaus responds to Josh Marshall who states that to “give up on Social Security…undermines progressive reform on every front.” Instead, Mickey believes as I do that unless we reform entitlements, they will crowd out all those “progressive” programs that people like Marshall hold dear:

It's just that a "universal" Social Security system costs hundreds of billions of dollars more than, say, a "means tested" system that doesn't send checks to the richest 25% of retirees. And I don't think Democrats will be able to afford both a) that expensive universal Social Security system and b) the national health care program they will rightly want. 'Defending' Social Security and achieving a decent health care system is less likely to 'galvanize and strengthen progressive reform as a whole' than it is to either bankrupt the government or require a larger tax burden than citizens are willing to bear.
Emphasis in original. Democrats have criticized means testing as a pathway to erode the political support of Social Security. That is, since everybody gets a check, everybody will (allegedly) support the program. But the bigger elephant in the room is the demographic imbalance that will force payroll taxes spiraling up to cover Social Security and Medicare expenses for an aging population. When that happens, not only can you kiss universal healthcare goodbye, you might as well say bon voyage to all discretionary spending.
Crowdsourcing – The Boston Globe had an interesting article today about some companies are using the power of the Internet and “online scientific talent” to solve problems. I liked this story when I read it the first time in Wired magazine two months ago.
Senator Splunge plunges to the antiwar fringe – Has there ever been a more transparent attempt to court 2008 primary voters than John Kerry’s attack against Joe Lieberman?

Kerry is trying to establish himself firmly as an antiwar candidate as he prepares for the possibility of another presidential campaign. Throughout his 2004 presidential bid, Kerry was dogged by a perceived inability to establish a clear, concise message on the war, and he maintained through the campaign that he did not regret his vote authorizing President Bush to invade Iraq.
Unless he did, which he does now, until some future poll time. Meanwhile, all those programs he wanted to initiate as President can't seem to find a foothold in the Senate. Instead, Kerry keeps the issues alive for fundraising. I can't wait for this clown to run again.

Extra – Mark comments on Kerry with, ahem, less nuance than me.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Just walk away, AJ – Over at Strata-Sphere, AJ gets all worked up over some “Lefty Lunacy.” Specifically, some nutter wrote that Flight 93 was shot down because it’s all part of the grand plan of “warmongering propaganda.” Sure, sure. Next up: a sterno and an old birdcage proves that the Towers were imploded by Tom DeLay.
You heard the man – USA Today: “Pope says working too hard bad for the spirit
The $15 billion hole-in-the-ground – From the Boston Globe: “Big Dig officials chose not to retest” – “Several ceiling bolts came loose in the Interstate 90 connector tunnel while it was under construction in 1999, even after they passed a safety inspection. But project documents show that officials overseeing the Big Dig chose not to retest most of the bolts in the tunnel, including those that would suddenly fail seven years later, causing last month's fatal ceiling collapse.”
Commitment or collapse – Rick Moran has a long, impassioned post over at Rightwing Nuthouse suggesting that Iraq is a failing state with little chance for redemption without a massive security effort: “...the reason I have come to this conclusion now is that the enemies of Iraqi democracy have established a clear upper hand in the country and it is uncertain at best whether the situation can be retrieved at this point.”

It’s certainly hard to be optimistic given the endless violence and it calls to mind the question of whether democracy can take hold in Iraq or whether sectarian hostility can only be quelled by a brutal dictatorship. I’d like to believe the unheralded and un-headlined progress in building a liberal democracy from scratch will, in the long run, have a transformative effect in the Middle East, but admittedly it’s hard to see through the blood. The Iraqis need to choose between peace and modernity or another millennium mired in tribal aggression.

Since I’m not a lawyer, I was curious to see how some legal bloggers reacted to Anna Diggs Taylor’s vociferous decision striking down NSA surveillance, especially after it was revealed that the ACLU judge-shopped all the way to Michigan for a sympathetic justice. Well, according to Willisms and Polipundit, even the liberal bloggers couldn’t pretend that the decision was based on identifiable legal reasoning. Anne Althouse noted that the NY Times loved the decision until nearly everyone outside the editorial board bubble admitted it was nonsensical.
That darn economy

From the Boston Globe: “Most states reporting big budget surpluses

It's tantamount to finding a wad of cash buried in the pocket of an old jacket -- utter euphoria at the windfall, mad money to splurge on a one-time extravagance.

Only this find is breathtakingly huge.

For first time since Sept. 11, 2001, the vast majority of states reported that they saved an average of 10 percent of their budgets, one of the highest percentages of unspent money in decades. The $57 billion in unexpected revenue has afforded states an opportunity to find all sorts of creative ways to spend and save their cash, according to a report released last week by the National Conference of State Legislators.

All but five states -- Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin -- reported surpluses this year.
New Mexico is going to blow their mad money on a launch pad for space commuters.
Back from camping - And boy are my legs tired from pedaling my bike. One story to relate: some camping novices from New York City parked in the campsite next to us. Many expletives were yelled. They packed up and left the next day.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Going camping - Be back in a couple of days. Play nice.

From the NYT: “A New Film Documents One Town’s Automotive Version of Graffiti” By the way, wasn’t Kurt Busch totally hosed with that pit road red light at Watkins Glen? He’s got a good record at Michigan, though, so there’s still a chance he’ll make the Chase.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Fun trivia – From Mental Floss: “The 25 most important questions in the history of the universe” For example: how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? It’s either three, 144 of 364, depending on who you ask (like that sneaky owl).
A call to arms

I’m going off the grid on a camping trip for a couple days but I wanted to throw something out for discussion. First of all, the United States is addicted to oil:

Petroleum products, especially motor gasoline, distillate (diesel) fuel, and jet fuel, provide virtually all of the energy consumed in the transportation sector. Transportation is the greatest single use of petroleum, accounting for an estimated 67 percent of all U.S. petroleum consumed in 2004. The industrial sector is the second largest petroleum consuming sector and accounts for about 23 percent of all petroleum consumption in the U.S. Residential/Commercial and the electric utility sectors account for the remaining 8 percent of petroleum consumption.

Demand for petroleum products in the United States averaged 19.7 million barrels per day in 2004. This represents about 3 gallons of petroleum each day for every person in the country. By comparison, petroleum demand averaged about 2 gallons per person per day in the early 1950's and nearly 3.6 gallons per person per day in 1978.
As consumption has risen, domestic production has dropped, leading to an increase in foreign oil importation:

The problem is that America's domestic petroleum production has significantly declined, from 10 million barrels a day in 1970 to about 5 million today. Our response has been increasing importation of oil, now more than 12 million barrels a day.
And where do these billions of dollars go? Right into the coffers of some of the worst regimes in the world such as Iran and Saudi Arabia who openly support Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad. Therefore, energy independence isn’t just a matter of economics but a factor in national security. It’s time to start thinking of energy policy as an extension of security policy and get serious.

And by serious, I don’t mean John Kerry’s amorphous call for a “Manhattan Project” for alternative energy (while blocking Cape Wind) or Hillary Clinton’s anodyne suggestion that more ethanol will solve everything. It’s time for solid action, so here’s the official Viking Pundit agenda for energy independence:

Increase the gas tax – Wow, this will be popular, but no other single action will reduce America’s oil consumption.
Open up ANWR for development – Charles Krauthammer calls ANWR the “poster child of cake-and-eat-it-too eco-petulance.” It’s time to put oil revenues in our own pocket instead of Iran’s.
End Saudi blackmailing – Saudi Arabia has agreed to keep the spigots open as long as they remain our top supplier. It’s time to steer clear of OPEC nations, consequences be damned.
Encourage tele-commuting – The Internet is here: no need to expend jet fuel and gasoline to get workers to and fro.
Develop nuclear – Hate global warming? Then let’s develop the only viable energy source that doesn’t produce carbon dioxide.
Stop the ethanol nonsense – We need an investigator unaffiliated with oil companies or environmental groups to assess whether ethanol is worth billions in federal subsidies.

But it is not clear that ethanol is a good economic or energy bargain. Producing it requires diesel fuel for tractors to plant and harvest the corn and fertilizers, and pesticides to allow it to grow, so it takes about seven barrels of oil to produce eight barrels of corn-based ethanol. But then more truck or rail fuel is required to deliver it, since there are no pipelines from corn country to urban areas, making shipping ethanol about double the cost of shipping gasoline. In the end ethanol may be a more expensive fuel. Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) says there is no policy reason for ethanol: "If the ethanol producers and the corn growers weren't benefiting from this, we wouldn't be doing it."
Some of these initiatives will be unpopular but they have the virtue of being effective. We have got to stop pouring money into Hezbollah’s pocket through Iran. That’s all there is to it.
Evidence of the so-called “moon landing” disappears – “Tape of first moon landing missing”: “The government has misplaced the original recording of the first moon landing, including astronaut Neil Armstrong's famous "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," a NASA spokesman said yesterday.” Two words of advice, NASA: Check E-Bay.
Stand-up surgery – Daniel Engber on Slate explains how doctors can perform “Twenty-six hours in surgery” during those conjoined-twins operations. Short answer: tag teams. Longer explanation: the lead doctors stay (mostly) awake and compare the ordeal to a marathon.
Give ‘em a blanket

A couple days ago, the WashPost ran an article about how Muslim charities have to face the “hardship” of non-monetary donations.

Now, from today’s WashPost - “Charity funds said to provide clues to alleged terrorist plot Officials say money for attacks came from earthquake relief”:

The transfer of millions of dollars from Britain to a Pakistani charity working on earthquake relief last year helped investigators uncover the alleged plot to blow up airplanes bound for the United States, according to two senior Pakistani intelligence officials.

The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation, said that a large portion of the money sent from Britain to the charity was siphoned off and ultimately used to prepare for the attacks. The officials said that about 5 million British pounds, or $10 million, was transferred to Pakistan, but that less than half was used for relief operations after the earthquake last October, which killed tens of thousands of people.

"We know charities are used for this kind of terrorist purpose very often," Wilkinson said.
People don’t want to give money to Muslim charities for the same reason commuters don’t want to give cash to homeless.
Do I know you? – Today I went to Supercuts. It’s not my regular barber choice, but I needed to get a trim before leaving on a camping trip. As I sat down, my cheery stylist said: “My name is _______, what’s your name?”

Am I being cynical and anti-social to think that this has nothing to do with our transaction? Why the forced familiarity? Let’s keep this an anonymous business transaction.

Monday, August 14, 2006

About those cell phones – Little Green Footballs has a picture of a rigged Nokia found in Iraq, along with the latest report of bulk cellphone purchases in Tucson.

Follow-up – “Terror cases tied to phones are crumbling”: “Terror charges against two groups of Arab-Americans arrested with hundreds of prepaid cell phones teetered in Michigan and collapsed in Ohio on Monday as authorities said they lacked evidence that the men intended to use the phones for evil.” Surely there’s a reasonable explanation why they’d need hundreds of untraceable cell phones.
It seemed like such a bad idea at the time – From the UK Telegraph “Mugabe admits land-grab failure”: “President Robert Mugabe admitted yesterday that Zimbabweans were "begging" for food because of his mass seizure of white-owned farms.” ‘Begging’ is the polite term for starving in what used to be known as the bread basket of sub-Saharan Africa.
Beyond ridicule – W.C. Varones calls Randi Rhodes “one of Air America’s top draws.” So, what, she has listeners in the double digits? Heh.
Tuesday to Thursday

Michael Barone notes how all the anti-terrorism criticisms dissipated once the London plot reminded us we’re still at war:

Our Left criticized George W. Bush when The New York Times revealed that the National Security Agency was surveilling telephone calls from al-Qaida suspects overseas to the United States. Now it appears that the United States surveilled the British terrorists, and that they made phone calls to the United States. The Left cried foul when The New York Times revealed that the United States was monitoring money transfers at the SWIFT bank clearinghouse in Brussels. Now it appears that there was monitoring of money transfers by the British terrorists in Pakistan. On Tuesday, the Left was gleeful that it was scoring political points against George W. Bush. On Thursday, it seemed that the supposedly controversial NSA surveillance contributed to savings thousands of lives.
Nothing to see here, move along. (HT: Gateway Pundit)

More – A perspective on the GWOT from the Kos Kids.
*Click* - The Democrats hung up on Brendan Loy: “It’s another great example of how so many Democrats have no interest in hearing alternative viewpoints and no respect for those with whom they disagree.”
People simply cannot be this stupid – Whenever I read stories like this, I’m always convinced that the perpetrator was searching for attention and/or a movie deal, just like 90% of the people on "America's Funniest Home Videos."
Civil rights silliness

If you want to understand why civil rights groups get little respect, look no further than this piece of nonsense from today’s WashPost. In “Still battling voter suppression,” author Jabari Asim indiscriminately raises the specter of Jim Crow, poll taxes, and compares the hardship of a Congolese man walking two hours to vote to an effort in several states to get voters to show identification.

It's easy to imagine, for instance, that in such a country, Mbaguna could have been stopped short of the polls and turned away for some untenable reason -- say, lack of a photo ID. In Congo, sure, but certainly not in the good ol' U.S. of A.
Oh the humanity! Asking a person to produce the same identification he/she would have to show to purchase a six-pack. Is this still America? Asim follows up with this inexplicable sentence:

Lower-income Missourians will have to fork over their feeble funds to buy the documents needed to get the ID cards, which will be free.
Huh? It’s a shame that Asim couldn’t make his case without resorting to the typical hyperbole of the modern civil rights business movement. When Martin Luther King was marching, blacks were being lynched for voting; Asim inadvisably tries to conflate this with showing a laminated card.

Extra – From GOP Bloggers: ‘Why MLK was a Republican

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Oddly, my Texas Instruments TI99-4A didn’t make the list – Via Outside the Beltway, here’s PC World’s 25 Greatest PCs of all time. If you don’t want to scroll through the screens, you can jump right to “The Machine that changed Everything.”
Hence the urgency – From CNN – ’Attack now’ signal from Pakistan”: Suspects in an alleged plot to blow up trans-Atlantic flights received a coded message from Pakistan to "attack now" as authorities there closed in on a suspected terror cell, security sources have told CNN.”

Friday, August 11, 2006

Was it that crybaby Phil Hellmuth? No? Awesome – Some guy wins the World Series of Poker.
Not 1994 but getting uncomfortable – Scott Elliott has updated his Election Projection and the way things are looking Dick Cheney may have to stay close to the Senate to break any potential ties. Fortunately, the Republican base is still plenty motivated to get to the polls in November.
The radical tipping point – Andy McCarthy knocks the NY Times (natch) for editorializing in a news story about the “radicalization” of the Muslim community. Apparently, it all started with the Iraq war and not when planes started flying into buildings.
We’re in a war. Let’s try to win it.

When did Newt Gingrich morph into such an erudite statesman? He has an excellent article in today’s WashPost today titled “The only option is to win”:

[Richard] Holbrooke represents the diplomacy first-diplomacy always school. We saw its workings throughout the 1990s, as Syria was visited again and again by secretaries of state who achieved absolutely nothing. Even a secretary of state dancing with Kim Jong Il (arguably a low point in American diplomatic efforts) produced no results; such niceties never do in dealing with vicious dictators.

The democracies have been talking while the dictators and the terrorists gain strength and move closer to having the weapons necessary for a terrifying assault on America and its allies.
Hope springs eternal among the talkers, as Charles Krauthammer noted in “Short term gain, long term pain”:

Lamont said in his victory speech that the time had come to "fix George Bush's failed foreign policy." Yet, as Martin Peretz pointed out in the Wall Street Journal, on Iran, the looming long-term Islamist threat, Lamont's views are risible. Lamont's alternative to the Bush Iran policy is to "bring in allies" and "use carrots as well as sticks."

Where has this man been? Negotiators with Iran have had carrots coming out of their ears in three years of fruitless negotiations. Allies? We let the British, French and Germans negotiate with Iran for those three years, only to have Iran brazenly begin accelerated uranium enrichment that continues to this day.

Lamont seems to think that we should just sit down with the Iranians and show them why going nuclear is not a good idea. This recalls Sen. William Borah's immortal reaction in September 1939 upon hearing that Hitler had invaded Poland to start World War II: "Lord, if I could only have talked with Hitler, all this might have been avoided."
To quote JFK: “Let us never fear to negotiate.” But what happens when negotiations break down and no consensus can be found? Robert Tracinksi writes that the clash between the liberal West and the Mideast mullahs is inevitable:

It is, indeed, "five minutes to midnight"—not just for Israel, but for the West. The time is very short now before we will have to confront Iran. The only question is how long we let events spin out of our control, and how badly we let the enemy hit us before we begin fighting back.
Unfortunately, I think it will take a nuclear bomb to awaken Americans to the idea that we’re fighting a global war on terror. Five years after 9/11, the slide back to the collective shrug of “acceptable losses” such as the occasional Khobar Towers or USS Cole is unmistakable. Yes, let’s talk, but let’s not be afraid to act.
Quote of the day – Lawyer Rolf Baumgartel: “These are all-American kids that unfortunately, in this day and age since 9/11, have names that call them into question.”

Something else that may have called Osama Sabhi Abulhassan and Ali Houssaiky into question: “Authorities said they found airplane passenger lists and information on airport security checkpoints in their car, along with $11,000 in cash and 12 [untraceable cell] phones.”
Voter fraud uncovered in Ohio!

Wait, it’s a left-wing group? Put it on page C23, under the Ziggy cartoon.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Secret agent man – From CNN – “Agent infiltrated terror cell”: “An undercover British agent infiltrated the group, giving the authorities intelligence on the alleged plan, several U.S. government officials said.” Also, from WashPost: “British authorities said Thursday they have disrupted a sophisticated and well-advanced terrorist plot to blow up U.S.-bound airliners using liquid explosives, arresting 24 people who police said had planned to commit mass murder over the Atlantic Ocean.” Keep checking Expat Yank for the latest directly from the UK.
Karl Rove planted those affluent black voters!

No more Lieberman stories for me. Let’s glance back fondly at the end of crazywoman Cynthia McKinney:

Her cheering supporters were clearly surprised by Representative Cynthia McKinney’s defeat in Tuesday’s Democratic primary runoff, but those who follow this city’s changing demographics were not.

Over the past few years, increasing numbers of affluent blacks have moved into southern DeKalb County, the base of Ms. McKinney’s district, and many were not impressed by her confrontational and occasionally erratic style.
This reminds me of the monologue of a Black Panther in “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka”:

Kalinga: Yes, we marched on the Federal building. Five hundred of us young brothers, full of outrage.
Kalinga: They were hiring that day. The brothers came with outrage; they left with jobs. Oh, yes, whitey is very tricky.
The best laid plans of mice and men...
Psychic blogging – How weird was it that just yesterday I linked to a story about a possible terrorist attack, an article about Muslim charities, and commentary from London-based Expat Yank? Put it all together and you have: “Britain thwarts major terrorist plot.”

Follow-up – Remember those Muslim charities? “Among those arrested were a Muslim charity worker and a Heathrow Airport employee with an all-area access pass, according to Britain's Channel 4.”

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Rumors and wishful thinking – Has anybody heard anything at all about Castro? According to Babalu Blog, everybody has a cousin’s wife’s aunt working in the hospital where the Maximum Commander had his surgery and he’s maybe a little dead. Or not.
Running the numbers – Jim Geraghty does the math on the assumed three-way race in Connecticut this November: “Feeling my oats, I'm now going to predict that between now and Election Day you're going to see polls showing Lamont up big. And yet, he's doomed.” Based on his analysis, Geraghty calculates that Lieberman would need to capture a little more than 10% of the Republican vote to win re-election, a share he could win “in his sleep.”
Another one joins us on the dark side

Robert Tumminello, aka the Expat Yank, writes that Harry Truman must be spinning in his grave:

I'm done as a Democrat now. It's taken me nearly five years to get to this point, as the party slid downhill from September 11, 2001….
For if Lieberman's out as a Democrat for espousing views Harry Truman would have approved of, the game is up. Essentially, Joe's loss has "turned out the lights". So, I'm now a Republican. I'm very sorry, Harry.
Well, Robert, the new-old cliché is that you didn’t leave the party, the party left you.
Air America update - Brian the Radio Equalizer reports that Jerry Springer is springing free of the liberal radio network. The former mayor of Cincinnati couldn't even gin up an audience in Ohio.
8/22 = 9/11? It sounds like August 22nd might be a good day to stay away from urban areas and major seaports.
Take your choiceLamont defeats Lieberman. Is this bad news for the Democrats or bad news for the Republicans?

Extra – Time magazine weighs in: “Why the Republicans Are Loving the Lieberman Loss - At a time when the GOP should be back on its heels, Connecticut voters' rejection of a centrist Senator gives the party a potentially powerful new weapon to use against the Democrats this fall.”
Least surprising quote of the day – From the Boston Globe: “[Massachusetts state treasurer] Cahill suggested the overall cost of the Big Dig may exceed the widely-used $14.6 billion price tag.”
Cry me a river of blood

From the WashPost - “Muslim charities say fear is damming flow of money”:

Charities prefer that people send money rather than food, medicine or other goods, because in-kind donations force the charities to pay for shipping, delay the arrival of the aid, and saddle relief workers with the task of sorting and distributing items that may not be needed.

The problem, according to relief groups, is that many people who are inclined to write checks for emergency aid and reconstruction in Lebanon are afraid of ending up in some government database of suspected supporters of terrorism.
Oh, really? So the primary fear is not that money donated to a Muslim charity will go to buy Semtex but rather that the government will update the homeland security database. Damn you, Michael Chertoff!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The mini-fridge is great – There’s nothing else but primary results tonight so let’s check out: pranking up a cardboard office (via Fark)
Private Democrats privately want to stop privatization of Social Security

Four days, ago, the WashPost ran an editorial castigating Nancy Pelosi for her “cynical” response Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s speech urging Social Security reform. A key excerpt:

The Social Security reform that President Bush pushed last year involved personal retirement accounts. But it did not involve "privatization": The accounts, which were to be optional, were to be designed and administered by the government, with no opportunities for Wall Street salesmen to foist enormous hidden fees on unsuspecting workers.
In response, Pelosi has a letter to the editor today that is comical in its risible repetition of the word “privatization.” Also conspicuously absent: the slightest hint at the Democrats’ reform solution. But she’s not being cynical!
Connecticut report – On my commute this morning through the towns of Bloomfield, Simsbury, and Avon, about three dozen “Vote JOE” signs had been planted overnight. Turnout at the two polling places (schools) I passed seemed light, whatever that means. I wish I could be as optimistic as some bloggers and commenters (that means you, Brian) but I get the vibe from my CT co-workers that there’s no enthusiasm left for Lieberman.
Thanks for all the illicit money - Anybody who has ever seen one of those undercover sting videos knows that the most incriminating evidence is when the criminal haggles over the payoff. Last year the mayor of Chicopee, Massachusetts faced charges when he accepted a bribe and said (loud and clear for the FBI tapes): “What, no envelope?” Now, some Boston cops have fallen into the same trap, taking a drug payoff and then telling the undercover agent that they’ll be discreet about flashing around all their new cash. You’d think they’d know better.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Bikini girls with machine guns

Well, not quite, but here’s a gender war story about how the girls at a New Hampshire summer camp have consistently beaten the boys camp in marksmanship since the Reagan administration.
All Lieberman all the time

On the last day before the Connecticut primary, here are some prime cuts:

Boston Globe: “In Connecticut Senate race, it’s all about war
NewsBusters: “Cokie Roberts Shocks George Stephanopoulos: Lamont Victory Disaster For Democrats
Andrea Peyser in the NY Post: “Stranded senator a dead man running
Martin Peretz writing on Opinion Journal: “The "peace" Democrats are back. It's a dream come true for Karl Rove.”
WashPost: “Lieberman confronts criticism over Iraq
More from MacsMind and Strata-Sphere.

One keen observation: if Lieberman loses tomorrow, that means that both Al Gore and his vice-presidential running mate will have been rejected by their respective home states.

(Must credit Viking Pundit for this fabulous bit of political trivia! And for using the future perfect progressive tense!)

Extra - The Hedgehog Report is having a Lieberman/Lamont prediction contest. Get your WAGs in.
Condi rules – A bunch of conservative bloggers (including yours truly) have picked their favorite people on the Right. Check out the results on Right Wing News.
Reload - A redesigned Red State relaunches and already I’m depressed by this post: “What motivates the Republican base?” Essentially, an internal GOP memo suggests that the base would be energized by the message of “we’re not worse than the Democrats.” Really? I don’t know how they could spend more taxpayer money. Or, as the first commenter notes: “We'll do the same as the Democrats, just not quite as badly.” Hooray.

Extra – Via Real Clear Politics: “Republicans' Best Hope? Stop Imitating Democrats

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The past, present and future of federal funding thanks to the Big Dig

From the Boston Globe – “Big Dig failures threaten federal funding - Future projects may be shortchanged

The past:

As deadlines passed and costs skyrocketed from $1 billion to more than $14 billion, the Central Artery/Tunnel project championed by the late Democratic speaker, Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill Jr., came to represent the worst excesses of pork-barrel politics. Many members of Congress cheered when the federal government finally moved to stop cutting checks in 2000.
The present:

In Washington, perhaps the most enduring legacy of the giant highway project is the perception that Massachusetts landed one of the biggest government handouts ever. When Governor Mitt Romney vowed last month to "ask for federal money" to help with the state's $20 million Big Dig safety review, the statement drew a harsh and swift response from lawmakers who are tired of sending Massachusetts money for a project that state officials seem to have failed to oversee properly.
The future:

Now the Big Dig's tortured history is haunting Massachusetts officials in the wake of the fatal tunnel accident. Not only does it mean that the Bay State stands virtually no chance of getting another federal dime for the project , it means the state's leaders could find themselves at the back of the line the next time they want a large-scale project from the federal government.
And why shouldn’t that be the case? Shuffling even more federal dollars to Massachusetts would send a signal that a project only needs to be started to milk it for five-times the original estimated cost. Furthermore, the Big Dig has poisoned the well for other states seeking federal funding for large infrastructure improvements since support will never again flow so freely, Tip O’Neill or not.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Greatest music video evah – The choreography in this OK Go video is the greatest thing since Napoleon Dynamite. Do check it out. (Good song, too!)
Democrats lying on Social Security - what else is new?

How did I miss this editorial in the WashPost on Friday? A hat tip to Tom who pointed the way to “Cynicism that needs to stop”:

You might think that a call from the new Treasury secretary for reform of entitlements would get a respectful hearing from Democrats. If entitlement programs are not reformed, they will squeeze out other spending programs that Democrats care about; they will create a budget crunch that no responsible party could want. But some Democrats do not appear to understand this. Yesterday an e-mail sent out on behalf of Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, dismissed Henry M. Paulson Jr.'s comments on "privatizing" Social Security, adding that this policy has been "soundly rejected by the American people."

The Social Security reform that President Bush pushed last year involved personal retirement accounts. But it did not involve "privatization": The accounts, which were to be optional, were to be designed and administered by the government, with no opportunities for Wall Street salesmen to foist enormous hidden fees on unsuspecting workers. Besides, the idea that the American people rejected Mr. Bush's plan is only half true. The president failed to get traction not least because Democrats were doing their best to scare voters into thinking that their retirement checks would be confiscated.
No, no, that won’t happen until the Trust Fund goes belly-up in 2040.
Sunday morning lineup – Condi Rice makes the rounds and Joe Biden will be on Fox News Sunday. If he says “Jack” (as in “listen here, Jack”), EVERYBODY DRINK.
Say it ain’t so, Joe – From GOP Bloggers: “Lieberman throws in the towel” Meanwhile, Bill Krisol thinks that President Bush should name Lieberman as secretary of defense. Recall that Bill Cohen, a Republican, was Bill Clinton’s defense secretary. (HT: Mark)

Extra – Robert Kagan calls Joe Lieberman “The Last Honest Man” because he refused to engage in “phony self-flagellation followed by self-righteous self-congratulation” that saved many other Democrats who were pro-war.
Hezbollah: the Corleone family of Lebanon

From the NY Times: “Charity wins deep loyalty for Hezbollah

They cover medical bills, offer health insurance, pay school fees and make seed money available for small businesses. They are invisible but omnipresent, providing essential services that the Lebanese government through years of war was incapable of offering.

Their work engenders a deep loyalty among Shiites, who for years were the country’s underclass and whose sense of pride and identity are closely intertwined with Hezbollah.
This underscores why the Cedar Revolution must succeed in Lebanon and establish a modern state.

Friday, August 04, 2006

An aside – Do you know what’s a really good song to kick off the weekend? “One Step Beyond” by Madness. It’s liberating, upbeat, silly ska.
The sea of red ink is much deeper - Captain Ed on the government’s cooked books: “We need to insist that the government start painting a realistic picture of our financial condition, using the same business practices they force the rest of us to use, and quit hiding behind a false image of financial stability. Until that happens, we will never acquire the political will to tackle the underlying roots of runaway budget deficits that may hide now but will become crushingly apparent all too soon.”
Short answer: no

Here’s David Brooks with “Can pleas for peace defeat a culture of terrorism?” (Free Republic link):

Many of those calling for this immediate cease-fire are people of good will whose anguish over the wartime suffering overrides long-term considerations. Some are European leaders who want Hezbollah destroyed but who don’t want anybody to actually do it. Some are professional diplomats, acolytes of the view that holds that “talks” and “engagement” can iron out any problem.

The best of them have a serious case to make. It’s true, they say, that Israel may degrade Hezbollah if it keeps fighting, but it may also sow so much instability that it ends up toppling the same Lebanese government that it is trying to strengthen.

They point to real risks, but if a cease-fire is imposed now, there won’t be only risks. There will be dead certainties. If Hezbollah emerges from this moment still strong, it will tower like a giant over the Lebanese government. Extremist groups around the world will be swamped with recruits. The defenders of nation states and the sponsors of Resolution 1559 will be humiliated. Israel’s deterrence power will be shattered.
Meanwhile, from Fox News: “Hezbollah Launches Deep Rocket Strike on Israel.” Those would be the rockets supplied by Iran, which will be receiving a strongly-worded letter from the United Nations very soon.
No matter who he brought in, he wasn't going to overcome the outrage over the war, and Lebanon made it worse.” – A Joe Lieberman supporter, as recounted by Rich Lowry.
I’m a Christianist too, full of truthiness - James Lileks lays a bleat-down on Andrew Sullivan. Who? Yeah, I know. (Scroll to bottom).
The ‘elderly orphans’ in Japan – The subtitle of this WashPost article is “Country tries to cope with aging population” and it details how an eldery population in Japan is causing a entitlement crunch that must be curtailed.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Oh, you don’t want to know

From USA Today: “What’s the real federal deficit?

The set the government doesn't talk about is the audited financial statement produced by the government's accountants following standard accounting rules. It reports a more ominous financial picture: a $760 billion deficit for 2005. If Social Security and Medicare were included — as the board that sets accounting rules is considering — the federal deficit would have been $3.5 trillion.
That’s not my problem. That’s a problem between my grandchildren and our Chinese creditors.
Today’s must read – Victor Davis Hanson on the Muslim dystopia in “It’s not just about the land.” Too good to excerpt, but here’s one passage that hits home:

For about the last half-century, globalization has passed most of the recalcitrant Middle East by -- economically, socially and politically. The result is that there are now few inventions and little science emanating from the Islamic world -- but a great deal of poverty, tyranny and violence. And rather than make the necessary structural changes that might end cultural impediments to progress and modernity -- such as tribalism, patriarchy, gender apartheid, polygamy, autocracy, statism and fundamentalism -- too many Middle Easterners have preferred to embrace the reactionary past and the cult of victimization.
In other words, get out of the 12th century.
Why Bill Kristol makes the big bucks, and I don’t

A couple weeks back on Fox News Sunday, Bill Kristol said something along the lines of (roughly from memory): “Joe Lieberman is in trouble in Connecticut. All the energy there is on the other side with primary opponent Ned Lamont.” Up until today, I dismissed the idea of Nutmeg State Democrats ejecting Lieberman has wishful thinking, but not anymore.

Momentum for Ned Lamont, the anti-war Connecticut U.S. Senate candidate, increases as he rolls to a 54 - 41 percent lead over incumbent Sen. Joseph Lieberman among likely Democratic primary voters, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.
Wow. Not only is Joe going to lose, he’s going to lose huge. The latest firestorm over the Jane Hamsher picture isn’t going to shift opinion among these primary voters of which 85% have reportedly made up their minds.

MoreHillary sez: “Hey, Kos Kidz, I’m really anti-war now. Honest. Rumsfeld stinks! Please.”
Welfare reform 10 years later

WashPost columnist Robert Samuelson calls it “A reform that works” and wishes that partisan politics could be put away for another much-needed reform:

The final lesson is the value of some bipartisanship. Although welfare reform was mainly a Republican project, President Clinton (who had pledged to "end welfare as we know it") provided general support, as did many Democrats who voted for the final bill. All agreed that the system was broken. Bipartisanship makes big changes in policies more acceptable to the public by signaling a broad consensus. But in today's poisoned and polarized climate, bipartisanship is almost a relic.
Samuelson specifically cites Social Security (a lot of alliteration!) and that if “we aren't more honest about other problems, they will simply get worse.” I think President Bush missed an opportunity to seek out a bipartisan solution to Social Security reform with the Democrats, but then they didn’t exactly meet him halfway. Cat food for everybody in 2040.

Extra – It’s Social Security reform Thursday over at Willisms.
CYA time on the MTA

From the Boston Globe: “Big Dig firm calls warning a fake

I called it.

More on the apparent hoax from Jay Tea on Wizbang. Meanwhile, Stephen Moore writes: "Tunnel to Nowhere" on Opinion Journal.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Wind power blows. Um, in a good way.

From the NYTimes – “Colorado resort to invest heavily in wind power”: “Vail Resorts, the big Colorado ski and recreation company, said Tuesday that it would make a huge investment in wind power, buying enough credits to offset all the power needed for its resorts, retail stores and office buildings.”

Meanwhile, back in Ted Kennedy’s backyard: “Backers of a plan to build the first large U.S. offshore wind-power farm said on Thursday they were confident the project would clear a regulatory review after being nearly derailed in Washington.”
Georgia debate – This account of the Cynthia McKinney/Hank Johnson debate is great if only for McKinney’s disjointed stream-of-consciousness closing statement.
Try your luck at the game of civil duty!

This is news to me: Arizona is voting on an initiative this fall called the Arizona Voter Reward Act where one lucky voter will be rewarded with a million dollars. This tawdry electoral ploy is all in the name of boosting voter turnout and Jeff Jacoby thinks it’s a terrible idea:

Such schemes have usually been premised on making voting (or voter registration) as easy and convenient as possible. But voting is already easy and convenient. Going to the polls once a year is considerably less onerous than buying groceries every week or taking the kids to school every day. Adults who care about government and public policy make it their business to vote. Those who don't care shouldn't vote. We are all better off when people with no interest in civic issues ignore elections and leave policy matters to those who take the responsibilities of citizenship more seriously.
In Arizona, there will be one winner while democracy loses.