Saturday, September 29, 2007

A-mazing maze of maize

It was a beautiful day here in Western Massachusetts and we took a ride over to Sunderland to walk through Mike's Maze at the Warner Farm. This year's maze was in the likeness of Louis Armstrong and the clever twist was that there were musical trivia clues throughout the maze. They were set up in a sequence of tubular bells that were spaced out such that when you walked in a steady pace and hit the tubes with a metal "baton" they would play out recognizable tunes. Lotsa fun. (We got 18 out of 20)

Friday, September 28, 2007

There are those unintended consequences again - From the NYT: "As Prices Soar, U.S. Food Aid Buys Less" - "Soaring food prices, driven in part by demand for ethanol made from corn, have helped slash the amount of food aid the government buys to its lowest level in a decade, possibly resulting in more hungry people around the world this year." I blame Al Gore.

Extra - From TCS: "Gore Dodges Repeated Calls to Debate Global Warming"
"I didn't have to go out to a field with my friends and have 18 beers" - From CNN: "Author: Letting kids drink early reduces binging"
Math is hard

From No Left Turns: "Acceptable and unacceptable ways to scam the rich"

Just because liberals never have paid a political price for Social Security taxes doesn't mean they never will, however. Abolishing the Social Security Wage Base would be a huge tax increase - a 12.4% surcharge on all income over $100,000. It would affect one in every six households. It would, additionally, be quite awkward, given that the liberal party line on entitlements is that Social Security is fundamentally sound, and entitlement reform really means health care cost controls to bail out Medicare and Medicaid. That’s a big tax increase to fix what we've been assured is a very small problem. If conservatives can’t turn such contradictions into a teaching moment, we deserve a long walk in the wilderness.
This blog post has a problem. It assumes that the liberals will raise taxes on the "rich" but, somehow, the general American public will rise up in outrage at what would be one of the largest tax hikes in history. The Republicans have played "Whack-A-Mole" long enough on this issue. Let the Democrats do the dirty work or let them do nothing and watch the whole program slip into insolvency. More Americans than ever, through 401(k)s and IRAs, understand the long-term strategies of saving for retirement. When they're getting pennies on the dollar for their Social Security benefit, political support will wither away.
Think of the children - When you can't convince the public or pass legislation to do what you really want to do, there's always the tactic of incrementalism. By the way, do you know how to capture wild pigs?
Too good to excerpt - The Seattle Post editorial board gets it: "Social Security: No easy fixes"
The French rattle their sabers against Iran

Talk about role reversal. From Charles Krauthammer: "France flips while Congress shifts"

Ahmadinejad at Columbia provided the entertainment, but Sarkozy at the U.N. provided the substance. On the largest possible stage -- the U.N. General Assembly -- President Nicolas Sarkozy put Iran on notice. His predecessor, Jacques Chirac, had said that France could live with an Iranian nuclear bomb. Sarkozy said that France cannot. He declared Iran's nuclear ambitions "an unacceptable risk to stability in the region and in the world."

His foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, had earlier said that the world faces two choices -- successful diplomacy to stop Iran's nuclear program or war. And Sarkozy himself has no great hopes for the Security Council, where China and Russia are blocking any effective action against Iran. He does hope to get the European Union to join the U.S. in imposing serious sanctions.

"Weakness and renunciation do not lead to peace," he warned. "They lead to war." This warning about appeasement was intended particularly for Germany, which for commercial reasons has been resisting U.S. pressure to support effective sanctions.
Krauthammer goes on to opine that Congress has slowly moved towards a similar policy of containment in the Middle East: "It takes time for reality to seep into a Washington debate." In a peripheral fashion, this is why I've always thought it was better to let Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have his say: because it exposes him, for all the world to see, as a nutcase head of a regime that has invited international sanctions.

Eyes wide open.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Say nothing

From AP: "Dodges undercut Clinton image"

Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign slogan is "Ready for Change, Ready to Lead" yet she has adopted the time-honored, front-runner strategy of dodging tough questions, contradicting the image of a strong leader.

The former first lady and New York senator refused to take a position on a range of substantive issues during Wednesday night's debate, from Social Security reform to U.S. troop deployments in Iraq to whether Israel, if threatened, has the right to attack Iran.

She even ducked the question of which team she'd root for if her hometown Chicago Cubs met the New York Yankees in next month's World Series. "Well, I would probably have to alternate sides," she said.
For the record, here's her non-stance on Social Security:

She dodged when asked what she would "put on the table" to save Social Security, such as a proposal to raise Social Security taxes on incomes above $97,000. "I'm not putting anything on the proverbial table until we move toward fiscal responsibility," she said, adding, "I don't think I should be negotiating about what I would do as president.
There's a word for that folks, and it's "leadership." What? It's not? Nevermind.
Effusion for "The Confusion" - Well, today I finally finished book two in Neal Stephenson's Baroque trilogy which was just about the best historical fiction I've read since "The Right Stuff" (and much better than "Quicksilver.") Who knew that a book on monetary policy in the late 17th century could be so interesting?

Extra - From Wired magazine: "Clearing up the Confusion"

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Playing in a whole different league - Via Wizbang and "Silence in Syria, panic in Iran" comes word that the Syrian air defenses were utterly neutralized before the Israelis made their Sept. 6th raid. Cool.
We don't know nothin' about no MoveOn - The New York Times has situational amnesia about how discounts are given on advocacy ads.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Social Security trajectory: up then down down down

From Congressional Quarterly "Congress to Lose Its 'Cash Cow' Soon"

The annual Social Security cash surpluses that have long offset other federal expenses likely will peak in 2009, one year after the first baby boomers become be eligible for this retirement benefit. By 2017, the surplus will be gone and the federal government will be on the hook to find new funding for Social Security as more and more Baby Boomers age into the program.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson included estimates on the surplus in a report released yesterday, widely seen as his attempt at a Social Security wake-up call. The report reinforces the message sent by Social Security Trustees earlier this year - Congress will soon lose the annual Social Security surpluses that lawmakers have used to fund other government activities.

The annual Social Security cash surpluses likely will peak around $99 billion in 2009. About a decade after that, Social Security could have a deficit rivaling its peak surplus, according to a chart in the report.
What's to be done?

Social Security has three options for its future financing, according to GAO Chief David Walker, who, like Paulson, has been pushing for Social Security reform. The U.S. government will have to raise taxes, cut spending or borrow more from the public. "Treasury will honor those claims - the United States has never defaulted," Walker said in a January testimony to Congress. "But, there is no free money."
True that. But don't expect any straight talk from the Presidential candidates who have no intention of putting forward any painful, yet honest, solutions for the entitlement problem. Are there any leaders in Washington or are we just going to keep kicking this can down Pennsylvania Avenue?

More - The Treasury Department's report on Social Security: "Not taking action is thus unfair to future generations. This is a significant cost of delay." Also, from the WashPost: "The longer policymakers wait to address the problem, the more severe the tax increases or benefit cuts will have to be, the report said, echoing warnings made by others, including Social Security trustees and congressional researchers."
Praise the Lord, pass the carbon offsets

If environmentalism is the new religion, can carbon indulgences be far behind? From American Spectator: "A Pardoner's Tale"

Are you a carbon-using Christian? Feeling guilty about all that carbon dioxide (CO2) you pump into the atmosphere by such awful things as breathing, heating and cooling your home, lighting your work or study space, or driving to church? Now, like traditional sinners whose only mistake was breaking the Ten Commandments, you can atone for your carbon sins by buying carbon offsets from the Evangelical Climate Initiative -- though I thought it was pre-Reformation Roman Catholicism, not Protestant evangelicalism, that endorsed indulgences.
Well, they certain like the color green.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Those numbers don't add up - In a complement to my previous post on Social Security, here's Ramesh Ponnuru with "The Democrats on Social Security."
At Columbia - From the Corner: "Eyewitness to nonsense"
Not the sharpest scimitar in the drawer

I think Columbia's Lee Bollinger might have stumbled onto something here:

Bollinger levied repeated criticisms against Ahmadinejad, calling on him to answer a series of challenges about his leadership, blasting his views about the "myth" of the Holocaust as being "absurd," and saying that he doubted he "will have the intellectual courage to answer these questions."

"You are either brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated," Bollinger told Ahmadinejad about the leader's Holocaust denial. "Will you cease this outrage?"
Ahmadinejad has gained this undeserved reputation as being "crazy like a fox" but I think he's simply crazy...and maybe a little dim. His answers are impenetrable and immune to any kind of logic but why should we attribute this to some kind of guile? Maybe he's just a dope. Sometimes the simplest explanation is the right one.
It shortened my commute, so there

Here's an astonishingly self-centered view of the disaster that is Boston's Big Dig:

The result was a colossal two-decade-long inconvenience and staggering costs of at least $14.6 billion. As far as I am concerned, it was worth every dime - even the graft, bribes, and corruption.
Don't forget about the deaths!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Steven Spielberg finds his sequel to "Munich" - Damn, this is something: "Israeli Forces Seized Nuclear Material During Syrian Raid" - "Israeli commandos seized nuclear material of North Korean origin during a daring raid on a secret military site in Syria before Israel bombed it this month, according to Sunday Times report citing informed sources in Washington and Jerusalem." Wow.
What liberal media?

Hello, New York Times, have you met the petard? The NY Times' ombudsman declares that the newspaper violated its own policies to publish MoveOn's attack ad on General David Patraeus:

Did get favored treatment from The Times? And was the ad outside the bounds of acceptable political discourse?

The answer to the first question is that paid what is known in the newspaper industry as a standby rate of $64,575 that it should not have received under Times policies. The group should have paid $142,083. The Times had maintained for a week that the standby rate was appropriate, but a company spokeswoman told me late Thursday afternoon that an advertising sales representative made a mistake.

The answer to the second question is that the ad appears to fly in the face of an internal advertising acceptability manual that says, "We do not accept opinion advertisements that are attacks of a personal nature." Steph Jespersen, the executive who approved the ad, said that, while it was "rough," he regarded it as a comment on a public official's management of his office and therefore acceptable speech for The Times to print.
The New York Times justifies their actions by mouthing about the "tough choices" they must make but these choices consistently find favor on one side of the political spectrum and not the other. Watch that stock hit a five-year low.

Extra - More details from Althouse.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Number 5 was a surprise - The top 15 languages in the world, via Dr. X. Do they speak Javanese at Starbucks?
Sunday morning talk show lineup - Hillary! She's everywhere! Gaaaaa!!!
Obama's innovative new way to save Social Security: tax the rich

Who says the Democrats recycle the same tired ideas? From ABC News: "Obama floats Social Security tax hike"

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., is considering a major tax hike on the rich to shore up the nation's Social Security system.

"If we kept the payroll tax rate exactly the same but applied it to all earnings and not just the first $97,000," Obama wrote this week in an Iowa newspaper, "we could eliminate the entire Social Security shortfall."
Brilliant concept. Except that when FDR was formulating Social Security, he knew the program would have no political support if Americans knew that the super-rich were going to get back a benefit proportional to their larger income. So the cap on earnings taxed (which, adjusted for inflation, is now $97,000) was also a cap on the maximum benefit any American could expect.

By eliminating the cap, Obama (and Edwards and other Democrats who have floated the idea) will alter Social Security from an entitlement that taxes all and benefits all to a welfare program that funnels money from the rich to the poor. But when you have no real solutions, taxing "the other guy" is always a crowd pleaser.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Stop thief! - When seagulls give in to peer pressure
Quote of the Day

Dilbert Blog on firefighters removing a 900-lb. man from his apartment:

This is the sort of publicity that makes it hard to recruit firemen. It's a noble profession, but there's nothing good that happens after your boss says, "Kenny, get the forklift and a tarp."
Say it with me: "incarceration" - Via Stratasphere, MIT student straps fake bomb to chest, walks into Logan Airport, calls it "art." I call it "communal shower."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Bizarro world update: I agree with Josh Marshall

Talking Points memo: "Grow up"

A president with some dignity and sense of the greatness of his country would say, good he [Ahmadinejad] should go there. Maybe he'll learn something about us and our loss.

If we as a country were a person, I'd say grow up. Act like a man. Have some self-respect.
By golly, I concur. Ahmadinejad should be allowed to go to Ground Zero so we can show him the hole in the ground where his fellow Muslims murdered 3,000 people. Let him soak in the hard glares of hundreds of New Yorkers who have not forgotten. I don't see what "victory" Ahmadinejad gains by laying a wreath; quite to the contrary, it forces him to come to grips with how his religion is viewed by Americans and much of the world.

Some say it would be an insult to the memory of the 9/11 victims and their families and I don't presume to speak for them. But we should think about whether we have more to gain or lose with that crazy Iranian at Ground Zero. If he's turned away, I think he engineers himself a greater propaganda win. He'll return to Iran and stir the pot: "See how the Americans refused your President? They're filled with hatred!" Keep in mind that many Iranians are sympathetic to the United States; why give this guy ammunition?

Ahmadinejad's a nutter. Let's be the adults in the room and send the message that we're made of stronger stuff.

More - Sister Toldjah takes the opposite view. Respect.

And this - But Dr. T appears to lean towards my view.
That's a relief - From Scrappleface: "Hillary promises no new health bureaucracy, just new bureaucrats"
The Soviets hold a grudge - Interesting story from a different age: "The KGB's long war against Rudolf Nureyev" (HT: Arts & Letters)
Rolling back socialism, ringing in personal freedom - It's happening here in America and across the pond in France. Viva la difference!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A respectable 50 out of 60 - And you better believe I got question #60 right: American Civics Test. Via Betsy, who claims she got 59 out of 60, the show-off.
Wally's modus operandi

Positivity Blog: "7 habits of highly ineffective people" (HT: Maggie's Farm)
No wonder we can't find Osama - Even with the incentive of a substantial reward, searchers simply can't locate millionaire Steve Fossett, somewhere in Nevada. Not Pakistan, the U.S. state Nevada with Google Earth mapping every square inch.
Neat-O - A rendition of M.C. Escher's "Relativity" in LEGO form.
The joy of E-ZPass - Dave just got his transponder for what I often call "the greatest invention ever." Last Thanksgiving, on our way to Pennsylvania, we passed fifty cars in each cash line and sailed through the E-Z Pass lane. I couldn't resist yelling: "So long, peasants!"
Same package, different bow - Opinion Journal "Hillarycare's new clothes": "What's striking about all this is how little new thinking there is. Like the other Democratic proposals, HillaryCare II would mark another major government intrusion into health care. It would keep all of the system's current problems, most of them created by government policies, and entrench and expand them. The creativity is all in the political repackaging."
Suckers - From the Boston Globe "Liberal gaming critics feel betrayed by Patrick plan"
The return of Krugman - The single-minded NYT columnist has started a blog and wastes no time in shading the facts to make his case. Can he seriously claim that the "great compression" in income through the mid-1940s was based solely on FDR's New Deal, without a word for World War II when the top tax rate hit 94%? Are there no other factors aside from federal policy (e.g. globalization) to explain widening income disparity today? Puh-leeze.
Democrats dance to MoveOn's music

Here's Jeff Jacoby with "Pandering on the left":

So this is what the Democratic Party has been reduced to - wobbling and weaving for fear of offending the moonbats in far left field. Do Clinton, Edwards, and Obama really have no idea of the esteem in which most Americans hold military officers? Did they learn nothing from the "botched joke" that ended John F. Kerry's presidential hopes? Is retaining MoveOn's good will so important to them that they will look the other way even when the integrity of a distinguished American general is recklessly trashed?

"If you are not tough enough to repudiate a scurrilous, outrageous ad such as that, then I don't know how you are tough enough to be president of the United States." So said an indignant Senator John McCain the other day. You don't have to be a Republican to feel the same way.
General Petreaus was affirmed by Congress without a single dissenting vote and, at the time, Democrats praised him as a straight-shooter who could shift tactics in Iraq for the better. His transformation from respected military mind to traitor was complete when he failed to deliver the news that MoveOn wanted to hear.

Extra - From Wizbang: "Antiwar left yanks leash on Harry Reid"

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Standing proud - No flippin' way! I have to learn how to embed videos.
How to tell you're a music lover

A song came on my satellite radio today and, without looking down, I knew the XM display read:
I think that's all I have for tonight. I really don't care about that Tasered kid in Florida, OJ is in deep trouble but Phil Spector might get off. Hillary's health care plan will cost at least five times what she estimates, so she'll bury the details.

Monday, September 17, 2007

"Oh Lizzie
You frightened me with your Right viewpoints
So I'm staying away
Oh Lizzie
You watch Fox News and you're scary
And I need Rosie back, oh Lizzie"
Casinos in Massachusetts - we have no choice!

From the Boston Globe: "Would-be hosts, foes rev up for casino bid"

But others insist that the state has run out of ways to find new sources of revenue as Patrick tries to undertake a $1 billion life science initiative and a $1.5 billion capital spending plan, among other economic developments.

"This is the last true revenue source, absent taxes," said Senator Michael W. Morrissey, a Democrat from Quincy. "We've done some creative things, but this is really the last frontier of revenues."
Seriously, what is wrong with these people? Here's a wacky idea: stop spending money you don't have! Lottery, gas tax, sales tax, casinos; the only thing left is to license out public buildings to Taco Bell.
OJ tries again - Does anybody besides me think that OJ Simpson's latest escapade is some kind of bizarre attempt to see how far he can go, only to be cleared by the legal system again? "How can you be this dumb?" Yeah, it's really inconceivable.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

That IPod song - It's "1234" by Feist and here's the pretty cool video. Nice choreography!
I hate Massachusetts

There were two stories in today's Boston Globe that have caused me to seriously doubt whether I want to remain in this state. The Bay State is now so overextended with liabilities and prolific in spending promises that it is resorting to new methods of direct and indirect taxation.

Proof positive that "elections matter" is that, after decades of Republicans in the governor's office, we now have the perfectly awful Deval Patrick who has decided to bring in the easy cash of casinos:

Governor Deval Patrick plans to propose as early as tomorrow that the state sell licenses for three full-scale resort casinos in Massachusetts, citing their potential to spur economic growth, create jobs, and generate new government revenue, according to State House officials who have been briefed on his plan.
Hey, why stop at casinos? Why not bring in some whorehouses which will also "create jobs" and "generate new government revenue." Aside from the social issues and crime that a casino invites, there's the new image of Massachusetts. Old and busted: Plymouth Rock, USS Constitution and Tanglewood. New and hot: slot machines and the "hard eight."

Second point: as I may have mentioned, I commute a hundred miles a day (50+50) to Connecticut because I can't find a decent job in Massachusetts. However, I pay income taxes to both states and property taxes in Massachusetts. Clearly, I must be punished: "Major hike in gas tax, fees urged"

A special state commission looking for ways to keep the state's roads and rail systems from falling into disrepair will recommend that the state raise the gasoline tax by 11.5 cents a gallon next year and impose a "user fee" of 5 cents a mile to drive on major state highways, according to an outline of the panel's recommendations.
In true "Big Brother" fashion, the user fee would be assessed by forcing motorists to use a GPS system to track mileage, and the tax would be imposed at gas stations. But the tax would be used to "fix the highways," which is a fancy way of Beacon Hill saying that "we spent everything on the Big Dig."

I think this guy might have the right idea: lower taxes and I'd be closer to Loudon for the NHIS races. I've been in Western Massachusetts for sixteen years, but now that the Democrats control every level of government, there are no checks against socialist legislation, the subversion of democracy, and unfettered taxation. It might be time to "vote with my feet."

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Hello Cleveland!

This is an improbable story for the normally-stodgy Economist: "Turning rebellion into money - Why old rockers are squeezing back into leather trousers meant for men half their size":

Ageing rockers are almost indecently keen to shout to the world through towering speakers that they have still "got it". Many claim that the mid-sixties to around 1980 were unsurpassed golden years in the history of rock music. And so audiences are given opportunities to judge for themselves - again and again. The 55-year-old Sting has laid down his lute to reform The Police, currently on a worldwide tour. Genesis, never scared to over-extend a tune, recently got back together for a belated encore. In recent years, and despite the inevitable losses to the rock‘n’roll lifestyle, the Eagles, Queen, Pink Floyd, Cream and a host of other music-makers have hit the road again.

Despite the riches accumulated by these titans of rock in their heydays most commentators suggest that cash is the motivating force. "Musical differences" generally precipitated the acrimonious splits that took the bands off the road in the first place. But time and money - and there is plenty of profit to be made - are great healers.
The list of acts appearing at the Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun casinos read like the Top 40 list from Billboard, circa 1986. Hall & Oates? Check! Joan Jett? Check! Deborah ("Debbie") Gibson? Check!

As in "where's my check?"
All bets are off in '08 - Writing in Time magazine, Bill Kristol notes that 2008 is a volatile and atypical election year. For example, this will be the first election since 1952 that an incumbent President or Vice President will not be on the ballot. (Hat tip: RCP)
I got a fever for stopping trucks from ramming into low overpasses and the only cure is more cowbell.
All too true

Speaking of Greenspan...from the Chicago Tribune "Greenspan says GOP deserved to lose":

Alan Greenspan's new memoir is tough on Republicans and President Bush and it could be turned into a campaign manifesto for Democrats in certain respects.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the former Federal Reserve chairman writes that the GOP deserved to lose power in Congress last fall because it abandoned its small-government principles and let the budget get out of control.

Congressional Republicans "swapped principle for power," he wrote. "They ended up with neither. They deserved to lose." And though he urged Bush to veto bills to exercise fiscal discipline, the president did not follow through, and that was a "major mistake."
Yes, the deficit is much lower than predicted, but certainly not due to any kind of drop in spending. In fact, President Bush made the government's institutionalized liabilities much worse by pushing for the Prescription Drug Benefit on top of the pile of entitlement spending. The big bill will be coming due soon and all of Washington glances away, whistles, and hopes somebody will reach for the check.
The chairman shrugged - Alan Greenspan *hearts* Ayn Rand.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Massachusetts flunks economics - Demand is up, supply is down, and health care costs in the Bay State are rising 50% faster than the rest of the country. New England Republican suggests it's our demand for high quality health care but doesn't mention the artificial demand set up by the new requirement that everybody have health care insurance.

Here's how I think the required health care coverage experiment is going to play out: remember years ago when AOL dropped their minute-by-minute billing and just went to a flat, unlimited rate? A week later, they were shocked to discover that people were logging on and never logging off. The system was overloaded, other customers couldn't connect, and AOL had to scramble to add capacity.

Watch what happens when everybody rushes to the hospitals because - why not? - somebody else is going to pay. Primary doctors are going to head for the hills and the whole system will go into de facto paralysis.

Extra - Q&O: "The ultimate end of nanny state health care"
Assemble the circular firing squad - From the NYT "U.A.W. Picks G.M. as 'Strike Target'": "The talks are focused on the creation of a health care trust, the chief demand by G.M., the Ford Motor Company and Chrysler. G.M. has pushed the most heavily for such a trust because it faces a health care liability of about $55 billion for its workers, retirees and their families."

The Detroit automakers are just coming out of an extended slump and the unions are going to stick by their antiquated notion that promises made a half-century ago are valid in a 21st century economy. Good luck with that.
They just needed the cash - Don Surber has a slide-ways take on the NY Times/MoveOn ad controversy: "Maybe the NYT was desperate."

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Second verse, same as the first - Unable to save the old retirement entitlement, Democrats seek to carve out a new one. And just like Social Security, you'll be thrilled to hand over another 2% of your salary in exchange for the 1% annual gains.

Graph from CATO: "The hidden burden of taxation."
Quote of the day - From an abrasive Mike Gravel: "I'm prepared to tell you that Americans are getting fatter and dumber." Refreshingly honest!
That was unnecessary - President Bush's speech tonight seemed like a perfunctory follow-up to General Petraeus' testimony. The Democratic response was just as predictable with amorphous grandstanding acting as a substitute for doing anything. No wonder Osama is cross with them.
What liberal media?

Only a day after Media Matters claimed that conservative columnists were over-represented in newspapers, a claim quickly diffused by the New Republic, there's this gem from the NY Post: "Times gives Lefties a hefty discount for 'betray us' ad"

The New York Times dramatically slashed its normal rates for a full-page advertisement for's ad questioning the integrity of Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq.

Headlined "Cooking the Books for the White House," the ad which ran in Monday's Times says Petraeus is "a military man constantly at war with the facts" and concluded - even before he testified before Congress - that "General Petraeus is likely to become General Betray Us."

According to Abbe Serphos, director of public relations for the Times, "the open rate for an ad of that size and type is $181,692."

A spokesman for confirmed to The Post that the liberal activist group had paid only $65,000 for the ad - a reduction of more than $116,000 from the stated rate.
So while the liberals whine that the top newspapers carry two more conservative columnists than progressive columnists, what we have here is nothing short than a direct political contribution by the New York Times for an anti-war group.

Extra - The legal minds on the conservative right are massing.

More - Rudy Giuliani forges his own ad and asks for the discount rate.
Governor Moonbeam - Red State nominates Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick for a 9/11 tribute suitable for second-graders. Can't we all love each other? No, no we can't, hippie.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Whatever pays the bills - Hey, I'm getting caught up on the past week's events and I can't not mention Britney Spears. Know why? Because "Britney Spears" and "Lindsay Lohan" = cheap traffic from errant Google hits. This account from the Superficial is hilarious because it claims that an inconsolable Britney ran off stage after the VMA awards because the camera added ten pounds. Or fifty.

BTW, Britney was recently cleared of dog abuse charges. However, I'm pretty sure her kids are surviving on Pixy Stix and Red Bull.
White House declares Certs a breath mint, Harry Reid insists it's a candy

How cartoonishly reactionary is the Democrats' own Senator Harry Reid? If President Bush announces he'll pull back 30,000 troops from Iraq, it's not enough! If Ted Olsen is proposed as the next attorney general, he shall not be confirmed! If George Bush prefers vanilla ice cream then - consarnit! - chocolate shall be the only choice for Americans. The great Oz Reid has spoken!
I'm back from Boston! - Aren't you thrilled? No? Oh.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Six years later

The movie "Swordfish" was on the other night, and this speech by John Travolta's super-patriot character struck a nerve:
Stanley: War? Who are we at war with?
Gabriel: Anyone who impinges on America's freedom. Terrorist states, Stanley. Someone must bring their war to them. They bomb a church, we bomb 10. They hijack a plane, we take out an airport. They execute American tourist, we tactically nuke an entire city. Our job is to make terrorism so horrific that is becomes unthinkable to attack Americans.
So, is American policy: you destroy two towers and we'll invade two countries?

Just sayin'.

Update - Oops, forgot about the Pentagon. Better make that three countries.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Boston trivia - Well, I'm here in Boston for the Optics East conference and things are kinda slow on Day 1. I considered going to the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum, but settled for football. Here's a fun fact though: you get free admission to the art museum if your name is "Isabella."

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Everybody loves a list

Well, I'm off again to another business conference so blogging will be sporadic at best until a week from now. Such are the pitfalls of the solitary blogger; fortunately, few readers will be devastated. However, just to keep things rolling, here's my list of the best and worst band names. Feel free to add your own choices in the comments. Ta-ta for now.

Best band names:

1. The Undisputed Truth
2. Dropkick Murphys
3. Led Zeppelin
4. Big Brother & the Holding Company
5. The Velvet Underground
6. Three Dog Night
7. Devo
8. Booker T. & the MGs
9. Squirrel Nut Zippers
10. The Rolling Stones

Worst band names:

1. The Bee Gees
2. Duran Duran
3. The Polyphonic Spree
4. Bad Company
5. Maroon 5
6. Ronnie & the Daytonas
7. The O'Jays
8. Kiss
9. Timbuk 3
10. Boston, Berlin, Chicago, America, Europe, Asia, etc. (tie)


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Race and homicide - Jeff Jacoby stirs it up in the Boston Globe: "Destruction in black America is self-inflicted" Thank heaven that the NAACP is stepping up to address these critical issues of the day.

Extra - From yesterday's WSJ Online "NAACP at a crossroads": "The highlight of the NAACP convention in Detroit this summer was a symbolic burial ceremony for the n-word. In other words, the nation's oldest, largest and once-fierce champion of civil rights has been reduced to staging publicity stunts."

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Blogger news - Steven Taylor over at Poliblog finished his manuscript today. How about that? Congrats, Dr. T!
Hillary on Social Security: lies and obfuscation

From First Read:

She focused heavily on the issues of Medicare and Social Security, saying, "Now you don't have to worry - when I'm president, privatization is off the table." Clinton added that reducing benefits and raising the retirement age is not the answer. "We need to get back to the fiscal responsibility that we had in the 1990s," she added. (If reducing benefits or raising the retirement age isn't the answer to making the system solvent, then what is -- raising taxes?)
It's not Hill's job to say what she would do, just what she wouldn't. Besides, Hillary would invoke pixie dust and divine intervention before she said the words "raising taxes."

While Clinton made a point to draw upon nostalgic pictures of the time the former President Clinton spent in office, she only mentioned him directly once. "When my husband left office, we had a secure Social Security system until 2055, and then, all of a sudden, the Bush Administration took us back into deficits."
Wait a second: Is that right? A 2001 Social Security Board of Trustees report said the program would remain solvent until 2038, not 2055. The Clinton campaign has yet to respond to messages First Read left seeking comment.
Don't wait by the phone.

Extra - Some background from International Business Times: "Introduction to Social Security"

More - From Captain Ed: "Obviously some action will need to be taken -- and if Hillary takes all of the other options off the table, then the only action left will be massive tax increases to pay for the shortfalls."
A New Yawker falls for NASCAR - Mark Kriegel on Foxsports: "As it happened, I didn't learn much about Junior, who finished fifth in absurd triple-digit heat at the California Speedway. But I might've learned a little something about NASCAR. It doesn't suck. Not at all."

Dude, that California race sucked, but glad you liked it. Now let's head back to Richmond for some real racing.
Parents of the year - The loving Moms and Dads to the children on "Kid Nation" waived the right to sue CBS if their kids died and signed away their right to decide medical treatment if their kid got hurt. I've said it before and I'll say it again: people will do anything to get on TV.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Give that kid a drink

Interesting story on Opinion Journal: "A family that wines together, shines together" on the relationship between social drinking within a family and problem/binge drinking when kids get older.

Several studies have shown that the younger kids are when they start to drink, the more likely they are to develop severe drinking problems. But the kind of drinking these studies mean--drinking in the woods to get bombed or at unattended homes--is particularly high risk.

Research published in the Journal of Adolescent Health in 2004 found that adolescents whose parents permitted them to attend unchaperoned parties where drinking occurred had twice the average binge-drinking rate. But the study also had another, more arresting conclusion: Children whose parents introduced drinking to the children at home were one-third as likely to binge.

"It appears that parents who model responsible drinking behaviors have the potential to teach their children the same," noted Kristie Foley, the principal author of the study. While the phrasing was cautious, the implication of the study's finding needs to be highlighted: Parents who do not introduce children to alcohol in a home setting might be setting them up to become binge drinkers later on. You will not likely hear this at your school's parent drug- and alcohol-awareness nights.
Once at a college party, I saw a freshman (a freshwoman, actually) get absolutely blitzed on two beers. Granted she weighed about 80 pounds, but it was obvious that the world of social drinking was new to her.
What's your second guess? - From Fox News "Iraqi Prime Minister Expects Favorable Report on His Government": "Iraq's prime minister said Monday he expects the U.S. ambassador and military commander to give his government favorable marks when they report to Congress next week and predicted passage of a law soon that could return more Sunnis to government jobs."

Update (8/4) - From Fox News: "Government Accountability Office Report Says Iraq Has Not Met 11 of 18 Benchmarks"

And an opposing viewpoint: "What's wrong with the GAO report"

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Takin' the weekend off - Everybody chill
America's deep in the red - From the federal government to your Aunt Tillie, everybody's spending more than they have