Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Blogroll updated - it's not too late to join the Viking Pundit revolution! Update your blogroll too!
Moe at Occam’s Toothbruth forwarded me these Random Thoughts from Thomas Sowell. Any article that mentions the seminal “The True Believer” by Eric Hoffer starts out with two thumbs up. I liked this one:

There are basically only two ways of reducing a deficit -- cut spending or collect more taxes. When you see liberals in politics and in the media going ballistic about the deficit, you know that they are not thinking about cutting spending.

Do they ever?
Yankees lose - Red Sox fans are happy

Twins Beat Yankees, 3-1, in Game 1 - NEW YORK -- Those pesky Minnesota Twins quickly put the big, bad Yankees in another postseason funk.
The name of Plame needs to be explained

Gosh, judging by the electrons that the blogosphere is dedicating to the Plame affair, I feel compelled to comment. (The lefty bloggers talk about nothing but). But, honestly, Best of the Web summed up everything I would have said, so just go there (see: “Plame-Out”).

One thing that Taranto fails to note is that the Plame Affair has reached a critical mass among the Dems and lefties and others who are desperate to equivocate this to the moral and legal failings of the last administration. So, no matter what the truth is, there will be cries of “treason” and allegations of cover-ups and calls for impeachment.

It’s all they’ve got.
Religiosity on television

You would have thought that after the long-running success of “Touched by an Angel” television networks would take a second look at shows that deal with spirituality. But, if I could be a little cynical here, I don’t think religion is much on the mind of the Hollywood set. (“That’s flyover country stuff!”) So it was nice to see this little blurb in an article about the new TV season:

Still, there were bright spots [in the ratings]. Two surprise standouts came on Friday night: the ABC comedy "Hope and Faith," starring Kelly Ripa of "Live With Regis and Kelly" fame, and "Joan of Arcadia," a CBS drama about a teenage girl who regularly encounters God. "Joan" posted winning numbers in its first outing despite competing in the same time slot with an established comedy on ABC, "George Lopez," and a much-publicized new series on NBC, "Miss Match," starring Alicia Silverstone as a matchmaker.

God is good!

(C’mon Relapsed Catholic – you should be all over this story!)
Dean Esmay comments on the Common Sense of the Laffer Curve and how people will only take so much taxation before they rebel.
In a surprising move, Gray Davis has decided to go negative against a political opponent. Polipundit has the latest, via a Contra Costa Times article.
Pop quiz: Is it Paul Krugman or Al-Jazeerah?

No fair checking the hyperlinks first!

First excerpt:

Iraq's reconstruction, by contrast, remains firmly under White House control. And this is an administration of, by and for crony capitalists; to match this White House's blithe lack of concern about conflicts of interest, you have to go back to the Harding administration. That giant, no-bid contract given to Halliburton, the company that made Dick Cheney rich, was just what you'd expect.

Second excerpt:

Bush has swindled the American people by awarding massive boondoggles, tax loopholes, and tax cuts, to his corporate paymasters who put this corrupt regime in office-- and to the richest-of-the-rich. Meanwhile, we're being forced to dig into our pockets to enrich these crooks!
"We the People" should be rising up in outrage at the squandering of our hard-earned tax-payer dollars, that are obscenely funnelled to the immoral Bushies, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and, their criminals-in-arms, including Halliburton, Bechtel, Carlyle Group, Big Oil…

Tough call, I know! Matthew Hoy is first out of the gate today for the Krugman Truth Squad so check him out.
It’s never the crime, it’s the cover-up

Tom Oliphant in today’s Boston Globe flatly declares that Howard Dean was lying when he disputed Dick Gephardt’s Medicare allegation in the last Democratic debate: “Past Haunts Dean on Medicare Issue”:

The truth, however, is that as a conservative Democratic governor, Dean really did do what Gephardt says he did, and his shifting attempts to wiggle off that hook have made his conduct an issue in a Democratic race that grows more serious by the week.

Oliphant reveals a number of other Dean “inaccuracies” and suggests that the former Governor may have trouble expanding his base if the full truth of his past positions comes out.
In today’s NYT, David Brooks reveals how “The Presidency Wars” have supplanted the culture wars in America.

Monday, September 29, 2003

“Hey, I’d like you to meet my friend, Xerox

“Nice to meet you”

Because the last one was so good?

From Reuters: “Nobel Peace Prize Winner Chosen, to Be Named Oct 10

Stein Toennesson, director of the independent Peace Research Institute, Oslo, said the Pope topped his list of favorites this year followed by Brazil's Lula -- even though he thought the Nobel committee had been seeking a Muslim winner.

I guess once you’ve given the Nobel Peace Prize to Yassir Arafat, there’s no place to go but up.
LOL: From a comprehensive review on Winds of Change: “My friend S., who hails from Egypt, has a lot of hope for Iraq because "they're not lazy like the Saudis"”
Who can figure out Louisiana? It’s possible you couldn’t dream up a more improbable name for the next governor of Louisiana than: “Piyush Jindal.”
The Mask of Warka

How this Bill Safire article got inked onto the pages of the New York Times is a small miracle. Excerpt:

Acting on another tip, searchers were directed to a garden near Tikrit, where they found a buried cache of weapons, including 23 missiles capable of shooting down aircraft.

Intelligence is the tool we need to find out where to dig. Those now so gleefully certain we will find no weapons of mass destruction may be surprised if — someday — an Iraqi technician, no longer terrified of reprisal or eager for reward, directs us to an easily hidden sack of deadly germs.

Such a find would be treated with suspicion by the legion with a stake in failure. Planted by the C.I.A., they'd say; or, old viruses left over from a previous era. Nothing that helps justify our overthrow of this generation's bloodiest tyrant — not human rights, not even a major victory in the war on terror — will they find acceptable

Things are changing for the better in Iraq, much to the disappointment of the “failuremongers” (Safire’s invented word).
Kerry Vote Watch

The Senate had a quite-long week (for them) of four days, holding 14 floor votes. Kerry missed 'em all.

Days worked: 0
Votes missed: 14
America wins

Here's Deborah Orin in today's NY Post with some clear-eyed commentary:

Oddly enough, Saddam's exit has been most quickly accepted in the Arab world. The famous "Arab street" didn't erupt. Al-Jazeera TV lost some credibility. And post-Saddam Iraqi leaders were welcomed into OPEC and the Arab League.

It hasn't led to instant Arab-Israeli peace, but it has enormously reduced the potential support for Mideast terror. Saddam is no longer there to bribe the families of homicide bombers. No one but terrorists regrets his fall.

And others, notably Russian President Vladimir Putin this weekend, have joined Bush in warning the other two nations with Iraq in his "Axis of Evil" - North Korea and Iran - against any nuclear-weapons ambitions.

All of which suggests that Bush's action against Iraq strengthened America's credibility around the world, rather than weakening it as critics claim
. [Emphasis in original]

That's right: hear us now and believe us later.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Kerry can't pull together enough for a basketball team

From the Washington Post "Kerry plays catchup in online campaigning":

In July, about 3,000 Kerry fans attended 125 Meetup events across the country, while 352 were canceled. In August, about 2,100 fans attended 114 events, while 300 were canceled. And in September, only about 1,500 attended 89 events, while a whopping 481 were canceled because fewer than five people had confirmed their attendance.

Kerry can't get together five people plus he's trailing in New Hampshire, Iowa, and South Carolina. Appeals to check out his monogram are not working.
It's a lock: Arnold will be the next Governor of California

The latest USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll just came out this afternoon. In a stunning surge, Arnold has pulled way ahead:

One week before the vote to recall the two-term Democrat, 63% of probable voters say they'll vote to remove Davis from office. Three-quarters of the electorate is unhappy with his job performance, an approval rating that has been stagnant for months.

Schwarzenegger, a Republican making his first run for elective office, captures 40% of the vote in the poll. His closest pursuer, Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, gets 25%. A poll one week ago by the Public Policy Institute of California had the preferences reversed — Bustamante with 28%, Schwarzenegger 26%. That indicates that Schwarzenegger has gained support after last week's nationally televised debate in Sacramento

Of course, Garry Trudeau is freaking out.
If Clinton was the "Big Me" is Gore the "Mini-Me"?

Well, Matthew Hoy did find confirmation in perhaps the only link we'll ever see from the Country Music Television web site:

"If it had been up to Johnny Cash, I would have been the next president of the United States of America."

Matt's right - it's not about you, Al.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Sometimes I love Fark because they post the funniest headlines for linked stories. This one was classic: "Cubs win NL Central. Hell considers buying space heaters." Hey, and my Red Sox are in the playoffs too! What are the odds?

Extra: A simply stated pic on Duck Season.
Can’t possibly be true: Matthew Hoy refers to an upcoming story about Johnny Cash’s funeral where Al Gore made some comments. Some hard-to-believe self-immersed and inappropriate comments. I need confirmation.
Not WMDs but.... U.S. Troops Find Missiles Near Saddam's Hometown

Extra: Here's the Fox News report
The New York Times loses it

Wow. I mean, it’s fruitless to believe the Times’ editoral page isn’t Pravda-lite, but Republican control of Washington is really driving them around the bend. It’s not enough for the Times to criticize certain pieces of legislation moving through Congress; the Times shows its true colors in a paranoid rant condemning all things right of center:

The big Congressional stories this year have been big-ticket legislation, like Medicare prescription drugs and the pork-layered energy bill. But barely under the political radar, a long-sought, hard-right G.O.P. agenda has been quietly progressing. Proposals dear to the Republican leadership that would undermine gun controls, women's reproductive freedom, a citizen's right to seek court redress, and a vital array of other constitutional bulwarks are moving slowly toward what in some cases seems like almost certain passage.

And you’re going to blow our cover, damn you NYT! Shhhh!!! Look, there can be reasonable differences on gun control or tort reform or even (heaven help us) partial-birth abortion. But the Times seeks to delegitimize the conservative viewpoint by painting it as a vast conspiracy. Get a grip and argue the points.

Friday, September 26, 2003

Ah-nold surges: LOS ANGELES — Internal Republican and Democratic polls show Gov. Gray Davis has lost momentum in his fight to beat the recall and suggest Arnold Schwarzenegger might be pulling away from Democrat Lt. Gov Cruz Bustamante and Republican state Sen. Tom McClintock, sources told Fox News.
Speaking of Moe: A happy Rosh Hashanah to all my Jewish friends out there.

Lisa: Dad, there are many prominent Jewish entertainers, including Lauren Bacall, Dinah Shore, William Shatner, and Mel Brooks.
Homer: Mel Brooks is Jewish!?!

A blog to watch: Sasha Castel has added a number of co-bloggers to her blog, thus insuring fresh posts around the clock.

I'm starting to wonder if multi-host blogs are the wave of the future. I'd love to join Sasha, but I've already committed to Moe at Occam's Toothbrush just in case things don't work out here at Viking Pundit. However, things are going great here! For the first time ever, I averaged over 200 hits/week this past week. [In a Marv Albert voice] - "Yes!!!"
The perfect woman for the weekend

Two waitresses in their traditional Bavarian dirndl outfit carry several one-liter beer mugs at the start of this year's Oktoberfest September 20, 2003. Six million visitors from all over the world are expected to visit the world's largest beer festival and consume some six million liters of specially brewed Oktoberfest beer over the next two weeks.


We were right

While others cluck that this Administration is too high-handed, David Gelernter says in the Weekly Standard that Bush hasn’t been straightforward enough – “Bush’s Rhetoric Deficit”:

The president needs to attack his opponents head-on, on principle. Peace is good, but if you have to buy it by turning your backs on suffering--at least don't be proud of the fact. We're proud that we didn't. Yes, our intervention served a practical purpose too, but let's start with Morality 101. In Iraq we expected to find hard evidence of cruelty, terror, and mass murder, and we did find it, and we told you so.

I like that: “at least don’t be proud of the fact.” Looking at you, Chirac.
Poverty edges up, income down

As any reader of this page knows, I’m a staunch supporter of President Bush. But I try to be an honest commentator and the latest economic data doesn’t look good (the lefty bloggers are gleeful). Saying that the downturn was expected doesn’t soften the blow:

Experts had predicted that rising unemployment last year and the still shaky economy would increase poverty and lower income for most people, even though the recession officially ended in November 2001.

Bureau statistician Daniel Weinberg said the changes between 2001 and 2002 were consistent with changes following past recessions.

"The highest point in the cycle of poverty and the lowest point in income tend to come in the year after a recession," he said at a news conference at bureau headquarters in Suitland, Md.

But, honestly, what more could Bush have done to turn things around? When the economy is soft, the standard government tactics include 1.) lower taxes 2.) increased government spending and 3.) lower interest rates. Bush pushed through across-the-board tax cuts, he certainly spent enough money, and the prime rate stands at a historic low of 1%. The current estimates are that the economy will grow 4% in the last six months of 2003, but that employment and income will continue to lag.

Let’s be realistic: the Dems are going to be flooding the airwaves this weekend with the “miserable failure” meme. But the Dems remedy nearly always falls back on the old saw of “tax the rich” which takes capital from the very people who have the resources to create jobs. In that light, Bush’s economic plan may be, to paraphrase Churchill, the worst plan – except for all the others.
D.C. Voucher Fight

The school voucher filibuster begins to form: “Voucher measure bogged down in Senate

Senator Mary Landrieu (D-Georgetown Day) has been leading the fight against vouchers in the troubled D.C. school district.
Charles Krauthammer on Ted Kennedy: “Kennedy's statement marks a new stage in losing it: transition to derangement.”
Senator Splunge: Unserious about energy security

Here’s a question from the Democratic debate last night (warning: long transcript) that perfectly illustrates why the Dems need to be kept away from the White House. Energy independence is important to the country’s economic and geopolitical security. Here’s Kerry’s amorphous answer to a vital issue (with annotation by me):

SEIB: Let me switch to a different subject, which is energy and energy security, and address this question to Senator Kerry and Senator Joe Lieberman.

Just yesterday, OPEC announced a production cutback and the price of oil jumped immediately. How can you say on one hand that there is a paramount economic and national security need to reduce dependence on imported, and specifically Middle Eastern, oil, while on the other hand oppose drilling in one section of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska?

Senator Kerry, you first.

KERRY: Because the Arctic Wildlife Refuge won't provide a drop of oil for 20 years.

Isn’t that an argument to never start exploration? Output will always be 20 years out if we decide not to develop ANWR. In fact, isn’t the opposite more logical, that we should develop ANWR in anticipation for another 1973-type oil shock? Dumb.

And because the total amount of oil, if it were to come through at the level that some people in the oil industry predict, will amount to about a 1 to 2 percent reduction in the total dependency of the United States on oil.

Yes, and others have stated that ANWR could be the next Prudhoe Bay. Every drop of oil out of Alaska is money in American hands and out of the hands of the Saudis.

We only have 3 percent of the world's oil reserves, Gerry. There is no physical or metaphysical way for the United States of America to drill its way out of this problem. We have to invent our way out of this problem.

I can’t suppress a cringe whenever I hear this “invent” line. We can’t build an energy policy on the hope that some engineer will invent a way out of our dependence on foreign oil. That is no policy at all.

And the sooner that we have a president who understands that and begins to commit America to the science, the discovery, to the alternatives, to the renewables, to begin to press America toward the great journey toward energy independence, the better off America will be, the better our health will be, the more effective our economy would be and, frankly, the better our national security will be and the better world citizen we will be.

Said the man who rides an emissions-belching Harley to campaign functions.

I think the OPEC rise yesterday absolutely underscores the danger to the United States of this current dependency. We need to commit ourselves to energy independence now.

Yes! Right now! So let’s build that offshore wind farm off Martha’s Vineyard. Here’s Senator Splunge explaining why other people should commit to renewables:

Grist: Where do you stand on the Cape Cod wind farm controversy in your own state?

Kerry: I think we need a siting process. I think there has to be a legitimate siting agreement and we have to wait and see what the environmental impact statement suggests.

Grist: So are you undecided?

Kerry: No. I am generically in favor of wind power but I want to know whether this is the right place. There is a lot of opposition, obviously, a lot of people concerned about it. What's the impact going to be on the ecosystem? I want to know. I think we have to have a clear process by which we're going to get these things sited. I don't think we can let everyone run around plunking [wind farms] down wherever they want.

Certainly not in Walter Cronkite’s backyard!
Democratic howlers

William Saletan has some soundbites from the Dem debate last night, but he missed two classics:

BORGER: Again on jobs to Senator Graham and Reverend Sharpton, one way you both want to create jobs is by--through public works projects. You spoke about that just a moment ago.
But what's the evidence that you have that Washington spending our tax dollars is going to do a better job of creating those jobs than private employers could do hanging on to those same tax dollars?
First to you, Senator.

GRAHAM: Gloria, I believe in the rather radical idea that if you want to create jobs, you create jobs, and you use those jobs to build a stronger economy.

And here’s Senator Splunge:

We need to increase our commitment to science in America, to venture capital, to the kinds of incentives that draw capital to the creation of jobs.

Democrats can't love jobs and hate the people who create them

Those people being?

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Bothersome dinnertime phone calls update: Democratic presidential candidates John Edwards, Bob Graham, John Kerry and Joe Lieberman did not vote for the “Do-Not-Call” registry!

Fortunately, it just barely passed in the Senate. No thanks to them!
Bizarro World: Internet Sales Tax May Get Amazon.com's Support I buy a lot of stuff from Amazon (and Lands End) but that'll stop right quick if a sales tax passes.
E Pluribus Seussum

This new edition of the classic 'Green Eggs and Ham ' --written by the late Theodore Geisel, belovedly known as Dr. Seuss--has been rendered into Latin and retitled 'Virent Ova! Viret Perna!!' The target audience is 'people who took Latin in school and have fond remembrance of it, teachers and students who take Latin - and, of course, Seuss fans,' according to a spokeswoman for Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers Inc. of Wauconda, Ill.
Angry Edward Said

The AP obituary on Edward Said starts: “Edward W. Said, a Columbia University professor and leading spokesman in the United States for the Palestinian cause, has died, his editor at Knopf publishers said Thursday. He was 67.”

I’ve seen assorted essays by Said where he passionately and eloquently defended the cause of the Palestinians and the image of Islam. But the last essay I read by Said was in the July 2002 Harper’s magazine and it was clear that the backlash of 9/11 had muddled his thinking. He wrote two book reviews – really anti-book reviews – on Bernard Lewis’ “What Went Wrong? Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response” as well as Karen Armstrong’s “Islam: A Short History.” The majority of Said’s essay is dedicated to the Lewis book which, for obvious reasons, gained great popularity immediately after the terrorist attacks (although it was written months before). It would seem that the demand for the book as well as Lewis’ rise in stature after 9/11 drove Said into a bitter frenzy.

The “book review” is remarkable in that it spends precious little time on “What Went Wrong?” in exchange for an ad hominem attack on Lewis which reaches its nadir with this caustic characterization: “One can almost hear him saying, over a gin and tonic, “You know, old chap, those wogs never really got it right, did they?” As for the book itself, Said attacks Lewis’ ability as an Occidental to declaim on the issue of Islam. He attacks the lack or substance of footnotes. He assails spelling and grammar mistakes. It’s an icy tirade of shadow substance that utterly dismisses the notion (absurd!) that Islam could be out of step with the modern world. Here’s the opener for the abridged essay of “What Went Wrong?” published in the Atlantic:

By all standards of the modern world—economic development, literacy, scientific achievement—Muslim civilization, once a mighty enterprise, has fallen low. Many in the Middle East blame a variety of outside forces. But underlying much of the Muslim world's travail may be a simple lack of freedom.

Where is the untruth in that statement? Where is the hatred? I don’t mean to speak ill of the dead, but Said’s rhetoric was warmed-over intifada from a Columbia professor’s office.
California predictions: Mickey Kaus on Arnold: "not too bullying or too vague ... but it was close! Did well enough to win." And Real Clear Politics declares: "As far as who has the upper hand hand and is likely to win, very little has changed from our original analysis: Arnold Schwarzenegger is highly likely to be the next Governor of California."
Religion of Peace Watch: Nigerian Woman Avoids Stoning Death
Drop the thin mint, sir. Step away from the cookies.

From Fox News: “University Shuts Down Anti-Affirmative Action Bake Sale

DALLAS — Southern Methodist University shut down a bake sale Wednesday in which cookies were offered for sale at different prices, depending on the buyer's race or gender.

A sign said white males had to pay $1 for a cookie. The price was 75 cents for white women, 50 cents for Hispanics and 25 cents for blacks.

Members of the conservative group said they meant no offense and were only trying to protest the use of race or gender as a factor in college admissions.

"Oh look Elaine, the black and white cookie. I love the black and white. Two races of flavor living side by side in harmony. It's a wonderful thing, isn't it?" – Seinfeld

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

California debate: snap analysis from American Realpolitik, PoliBlog, and Outside the Beltway.

My take: Arnold did OK, and maybe a little better than expected. Naturally, all the buzz will be on his performance tomorrow and there's no such thing as bad publicity.
Wednesdays are for W

During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln was told that Ulysses Grant was a drunk. Lincoln's alleged response was "Find out what brand he drinks so I can send some to my other generals." A better verified quote from Lincoln is: "I can't spare this man; he fights."

And that's why I'm behind George W. Bush. I want a president who, above all, does the job of defending and protecting this country. I want security for my kids and (someday) my grandkids. I want a fighter.

I certainly don't see a fighter in the squishy crowd of Democrats who - in unison - have all but declared that it was an awful thing to depose Saddam Hussein. That we should have capitulated our security to the United Nations and France. That it doesn't matter that terrorists are on the run and that terror states are in retreat; America can't be so self-centered. Democrats fear a future with President Bush - I fear one without him.

Support President Bush and Vice President Cheney by visiting their re-election website. And be sure to check out PoliPundit who has links to all the bloggers supporting President Bush.

The "Wictory Wednesday" blogroll:

Bowling for Howard Dean
BushBlog.us (unofficial blog)
Bush-Cheney 2004 (unofficial blog)
The Hedgehog Report
Jeremy Kissel
Left Coast Conservative
Mark Kilmer
Matt Margolis
Southern Conservatives
Rub-a-dub-dub, here come the snubs

Well, that was my worst post title ever. Anyway, here’s the last paragraph in the Washington Post article on Bush’s U.N. speech:

A U.N. schedule for the day, later corrected, spelled the president's name "Busch." Annan took the unusual step of beginning his address in French. Just before Chirac addressed the assembly, Bush and his top aides -- Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John D. Negroponte -- left the hall. Chirac sat with the French delegation during Bush's speech and politely applauded. [Emphasis added]

Yesterday, I jokingly wondered why Annan had a translation earpiece on (see picture below) when we know he speaks English. Could it be that, like his French opening, it was a subtle way to snub the President? It’s odd, to say the least.
Do you think President Bush deliberately mislead America about a link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11? Donald Sensing says: "Prove it."

The top prize is a small amount of coffee at the One Hand Clapping Bush-bashing Invitational.
Duck Season links to Viking Pundit - a lot - so I'm more than happy to return the favor with this nice post by Nick called "Has Kerry Finally Found an Issue?" It appears that Senator Splunge has decided that the best way to attack Howard Dean is to brand him a *gasp* Yankees fan! The horror!

[Oops - permalink problems - hit "Duck Season" and scroll down]
Take your phone off the hook tonight: U.S. Court Blocks Anti-Telemarketing List
News roundup

Some days I check the news and there’s nothing exciting and I’m forced to go trolling on Fark or Free Republic to find some interesting stuff. Today isn’t one of those days – lots of fresh goodies that I’ll encapsulate here:

Orrin Hatch defends Miguel Estrada in a letter to the New York Times

Arnold Schwarzenegger makes his strongest case yet for governor in the Wall Street Journal with “My Economic Policy.”

Andrew Sullivan declares both Clark and Kerry unfit for higher office.

And Pete DuPont attacks school voucher opponents in “Liberals Against Choice.”
Clark surge reveals the truth: Dems don’t like Kerry

William Saletan has a “Dear John” letter for Senator Splunge in Slate:

When nine candidates have been running for a party's presidential nomination for nearly a year, and a 10th candidate jumps in with widespread support from party leaders and the public, it's a rebuke. It's a message that none of the nine candidates has measured up. In the case of Wesley Clark, it's a message that the candidate with the war record, the candidate who was supposed to keep the party in the center and fend off the standard-bearer of the left, hasn't measured up. That candidate is John Kerry.

That's gotta hurt.
Best way to save Social Security

Timothy Penny, a former Democratic congressman from Minnesota, makes a persuasive case for personal accounts in the Christian Science Monitor:

Personal accounts may not be a perfect solution to government's lack of discipline in managing Social Security money for the future. But when it comes to saving, which is crucial if Social Security is to survive the retirement of the baby boomers, the nonpartisan CBO found that personal accounts are the best alternative available.

The article is remarkable – especially for a Democrat – in that Penny states that the government cannot be trusted with money. The surplus that has built up in the Social Security trust fund has been spent away and government-owned assets under a market-based plan would lead to the same problems. The only answer is to get the cash out of the hands of the politicians.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Why does Kofi Annan need a translator earpiece? Doesn’t he speak Texan?

The Economist steps into high-gear and turns around an excellent review of the scene at the United Nations today in “Bush’s Stark Message.”

IF THE opening day of the United Nations General Assembly is any precedent, the rift created by the American-led war with Iraq will be slow to heal. Speaking to assembled world leaders, President George Bush defended America’s invasion of Iraq, saying that the Middle East was a more stable place following the removal of Saddam Hussein’s brutal regime. While acknowledging pre-war differences—many in his audience opposed the war—he called on countries to look to the future rather than the past, and to provide aid to Iraq. He did not offer a speedier timetable for providing Iraqi sovereignty, as some (especially France) have advocated: America, he said, would listen to the needs of Iraqis and be “neither hurried nor delayed” by others’ wishes on the matter.

Kofi Annan warned against pre-emptive action and further noted that the structure of the United Nations needed to change to reflect the present state of the world instead of the post-World War II power structure. (Sounds to me like India may be invited into the Security Council). Jacques Chirac also gave a speech with the expected theme.
Western Massachusetts update: I’ve told my kids that they can go to any college they want, except for the University of Massachusetts. Exhibit A: this hysterical screech from the UMass Collegian “George Bush must go” is typical for the Happy Valley. There is hardly a sentence that isn’t flatly wrong or badly misrepresented – a rebuttal would be ten-times longer than the original article (some have tried in the comments).
Judges rule to hold California election as scheduled

LOS ANGELES — The California recall election will go on as scheduled, a full panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously Tuesday in a decision that brings the Oct. 7 election closer to reality.

Of course that unanimous decision won't stop the DNC partisans from moaning "unfair" elections.
Jane Galt in a "Clark Snark": "That said, this little brouhaha-in-a-bottle should be worrying Democrats who have fallen on General Clark as the "Help us, Obi Wan Kenobi! You're our only hope!" candidate."
Wesley Clark – up, up, and away

I haven’t written about Wesley Clark because I’m absolutely convinced that he will flame out in a couple of weeks. Sure, he’s up now, but Dick Morris knows why:

Clark's rise is clearly a media-inspired flavor of the week. When Dean graced the front pages of Time and Newsweek, he was similarly honored with a first-place rating. Clark's surge is not so much a testament to his strength as to the weakness of Bush on the one hand and the Democratic field on the other.

Clark is little more than that mythical, perfect, “unnamed” Democrat that will always beat the incumbent. When the general gets a little more exposure, Americans may not like him so much and Clark, in turn, may not like the results:

Clark is no Al Haig, but during our time together I began to suspect that he might have difficulty switching from general to candidate. When discussing whether he would run, he spoke often of "seeing if people want me"; he seemed to have in mind the candidacy of another former general and NATO commander, Dwight Eisenhower, whom the Republicans drafted in 1951. Although Clark has fans in the Democratic establishment, he has nothing like Eisenhower's stature in his party, and there is no chance that a similar draft movement will arise from the Democratic leadership. His hope that there might be one hints at a certain lack of political acuity, which could become evident if he runs. Though he is a talented, even inspirational, speaker on issues dear to him, Clark's manner when he's probed about subjects he'd rather not discuss is very much like that of a general at a military briefing—he's curt, sure of himself, and not overly concerned about the impression he leaves.

Clark is particularly thin-skinned, still bridling at slights from Republicans and fellow military officers during the Clinton Administration. A polarizing figure in the military who often drew the ire of the brass, Clark was forced to retire early when Secretary of Defense William Cohen and members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff organized a coup to replace him. One night, over drinks in a Capitol Hill bar, he told me that he believed himself to be "the most maligned general since William Westmoreland." Perhaps imagining the criticism he would have to endure as a candidate, many of Clark's admiring friends with whom I spoke confessed in protective tones that they hoped he wouldn't run.

Which brings to mind a quote by Harry Truman about Eisenhower:

When contemplating General Eisenhower winning the Presidential election, Truman said, “He’ll sit here, and he’ll say, ‘Do this! Do that!’ And nothing will happen. Poor Ike—it won’t be a bit like the Army. He’ll find it very frustrating.”

"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly" - Rest in peace, Big Guy.
California update - best Freudian slip of the day

Dahlia Lithwick has a great review of the 9th Circuit legal arguments over the California recall yesterday. Money quote:

In the 30 seconds given to him for rebuttal, Rosenbaum offers a heroic attempt to consolidate the thousand firing synapses in his brain into three cogent points about election law. He gets as far as point three before the technology seems to backfire: "This is the strongest case," he points out, "that has ever been in this circus."

"Um, circuit." He tries to correct himself, but the bench is in stitches, and one of the justices laughingly suggests that he "quit while you're ahead." "Guess who's the biggest clown," Rosenbaum laughs back, packing his papers back into his briefcase. That issue isn't exactly before the 9th Circuit either, but they'll probably decide it this week.

Good one.

Monday, September 22, 2003

Class warfare again

I rarely read Matthew Yglesias but his name popped up as an “updated weblog” so I clicked on over to see what was poppin’ fresh. Unfortunately, it was more same ol’ same ol’. Apparently some poor soul (Steve) wrote to Matt saying that the government needs to cut spending. Matt responds with the slovenly logic of a Hobson’s Choice:

The last proposal was to cut Department of Education funding. I don't really know the specifics here so maybe there are things that should be cut (again, e-mail me the line item proposals and I'll look into it) but ask yourself this question:

The primary problem facing America today is:
A: The schools are bad.
B: Rich people don't have enough money

My answer is "A" and I'd be very interested to here Steve justify "B."

Way to set up an argument in your favor, Matt. You could put pretty much any societal problem in for “A” and essentially demand the “rich” pay for it with “B”. For good measure, he insists: "We need to raise taxes.” [Emphasis in original]

In one of P.J. O’Rourke’s books (I have to find this quote), he said that the sum total of the Democrats philosophy is “give me a dollar.” The liberal mindset doesn’t care how you came about that dollar, whether through stock dividends or hard work – they just want it. The Democrats from have used this cudgel of class warfare to appeal to the worst emotions in people, most notably covetousness. “Why should they have so much while you have so little?”

Well, since fairness is all the vogue nowadays, let’s look at the idle rich. As Daniel Drezner notes in this post, they’re not so idle.

One statistic best sums up the changes that have taken place: in 1929, 70 percent of the income of the top .01 percent of income earners in the United States came from holding of capital -- income such as dividends, interest, and rents. The rich were truly the idle rich. In 1998, wages and entrepreneurial income made up 80 percent of the income of the top .01 percent of income earners in the United States, and only 20 percent came from capital. Seen another way, in the 1890s the richest 10 percent of the population worked fewer hours than the poorest 10 percent. Today, the reverse is true. The idle rich have become the working rich!

And as Tony Snow noted on Fox News Sunday this past weekend (to Senator Joe Biden), they’re the people next door trying to run a business:

SNOW: All right, Senator, you probably haven't talked to guys who run 7-11 or a gas station or a dry cleaner because, guess what, they also qualify as the rich.
Here's a question other people would have...
BIDEN: By the way, that's not true, Tony. You've got to make $365,000 a year to get into my game here. Now, if they're making $365,000 a year running a 7-11, God love them, and they should pay.
SNOW: Well, as you know, businesses are taxed as individuals, and therefore they come under the plan that you're outlining.

And the “rich” pay an inordinate amount of taxes already:

• The top 10% of returns ($88,000 and up) paid 66% of all taxes, yet made only 45% of all income.
• The other 90% of all returns (below $88,000) paid only 33% of all taxes, yet made 55% of all income.
• And 48% of all returns required no payment of tax at all, or received a tax credit.

But the Kerrys and Kennedys and Yglesias of the world don’t really care for people like Bill Gates. Bill Gates dropped out of college, took a risk on computers, started a company that today provides employment to thousands of Americans, and has used his well-earned wealth to support many notable charities. Let’s punish him.

Why not just take it all? Economist Milton Friedman answered that question in an interview with John Hawkins:

John Hawkins: Fast forward to today and there are a lot of Democrats & people on the left out there who say, "Why don't we just have exorbitant taxes on the rich and minimal taxes on everyone else"? What would that do to the economy?
Milton Friedman: That would eliminate the rich.
John Hawkins: Right. Would it have a negative effect on economy overall?
Milton Friedman: Well, who would provide the funds, the capital, and the entrepreneurship for the new industries? In a world in which there were no rich people, how would you have ever gotten the capital to produce steel mills or automobile plants? You can do it through the state, but the world tried that with the Soviet Union.
It's an interesting thing. If you ask yourself, "what tax system would be best for the low income group," it's the opposite of what they're saying there. It would be a system with a maximum amount of taxation rather than a minimum. If you look at the taxation system in China for example, which is now doing very, very, well, that's exactly what it is. In Russia you now have a 20% flat tax which is having the effect of increasing revenues rapidly and also stimulating production. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.

Ah, but class warfare feels SO good, right Matt?
Nantucket wind farm update

I saw that creaky old Walter Cronkite was on the Emmys last night and wondered: “Whatever happened to that wind farm project he had been opposing?”

Well, I had totally missed this Boston Globe story: “Judge rules for Army Corps, proponents of Cape Wind project”. Looks like the wind farm is going forward, much to the consternation of Cronkite and the yachting set of Martha’s Vineyard.
John Hudock links to a Neal Boortz collection of statements about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. These partisan Republicans are all in brainwashed lockstep, parroting the lies of the Bush administration.

What? They’re Democrats?!? Nevermind then.
The anger of the left: Robert Bartley on why Democrats “hate Bush as much as Republicans once hated FDR.”

The pathology of the left: Right Wing News has the latest in leftist “humor”.
Rantburg has the story (with snarky annotation, of course) “Last American Combat Troops Quit Saudi Arabia.”
The Washington Post is in full-throated support for school vouchers in D.C. Yet another Senate filibuster is threatened by the tools of the NEA.
I call it a bargain – the best I ever had

Former White House economic advisor Larry Lindsey writes in today’s USA Today that “Iraq costs require some perspective” and puts the Iraq conflict into historical and realpolitik context. A good review with ample statistical support.
Emmy roundup

I didn’t watch, but I got the lowdown from Tom Shales this morning:

Best drama writing (The Sopranos) + Best drama actor (James Gandolfini) + Best drama actress (Edie Falco) + Best supporting actor (Joe Pantoliano) = Best drama show? Nope…that would be the liberal wet-dream “The West Wing” which, except for the writing and acting, must be a better show.

I’m sorry I missed Wayne Brady (above) winning an Emmy for his outstanding work on “Whose Line is it Anyway?” Allegedly, he was very shocked and happy and gushed about how he worked his way up from playing the Black Power Ranger at bar mitzvahs.

Unintentionally humorous/embarrassing moment of the evening (which I did see): the nominees for best miniseries were “Hitler”, “Napoleon”, and “Steven Spielberg’s Taken”. So when the envelope was opened, there was a one-in-three chance that the presenter would have to say “The Emmy goes to Hitler.” But, alas, that award went to Spielberg and the SciFi network.
Mondale on taxes

From today's NY Post Page Six:

September 22, 2003 -- FORMER presidential candidate Walter Mondale is proud he favored taxes, rather than tax cuts, even though he lost in a landslide in 1984. In D.C. Wednesday at a conference with Jimmy Carter to discuss the Camp David accords, former Carter adviser Leon Charney asked Mondale, "When you were running for president, why did you mention that you would raise taxes? That was the kiss of death." Mondale responded, "I already knew that the race was lost, and I just felt an obligation to warn Americans of an impending financial crisis. When you're just a private citizen, no one listens. So I took the opportunity while I still had the podium." Mondale must have forgotten how Ronald Reagan, after beating Mondale, cut taxes and created the biggest economic boom in history.

Oh yeah....forgot about that.
Kerry Vote Watch

It was a truncated workweek at the U.S. Senate last week, in part due to Hurricane Isabel. The Senate only met for two days and voted on six floor votes. Kerry missed ‘em all anyway.

Days worked: 0
Votes missed: 6

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Senator Splunge: Looking for Loopholes

The Washington Times says there are "Problems for John Kerry". Dean continues to lead, Clark is crowding out the spotlight, and money is starting to get tight. The problem is that the current campaign financing rules state that Kerry's wife Teresa Heinz can only give $2000 to her hubby's campaign. So, it's time to start searching for ways around the law:

Speaking of fortune, the political strategists are busy devising scenarios about how an increasingly desperate Mr. Kerry could get his hands on his wife's $550 million Heinz-ketchup inheritance. According to the consensus interpretation of campaign-finance law, Teresa Heinz Kerry is limited to contributing $2,000 to her husband's campaign. If he had to draw upon his own resources, Mr. Kerry told The Washington Post in March that he could "put a certain amount into [the campaign], but when you talk about self-funding, could I do an entire campaign? The answer is 'profoundly no.' " In June, the Kerry campaign told the Associated Press that it had concluded that the Massachusetts senator could not legally use any of his wife's fortune for his presidential race. Today, there is speculation that Mrs. Kerry may try to transfer Heinz trust assets into a joint account, half of which he could divert to his campaign. Such an action would certainly be challenged in court by his competitors. Another possible loophole would be an "independent expenditure" campaign waged by his wife, who in the past has indicated she would open her coffers if she felt she and the senator had come under personal attack.

She's set the bar pretty high, no? I'm guessing there's a fair chance that an American politician will wage personal attacks on another politician. After all, when the definition of your career is to impose your judgment and opinion onto public policy, how can it not be personal?

My feeling is that Kerry will start sponging up the ketchup cash when Dean announces he's foregoing federal matching funds. He'll have 57 varieties of reasons why he has to tap into the Heinz fortune so he can respond to the Dean juggernaut. If he does, however, Teresa will have to contend with a high-publicity stink over the circumvention of campaign laws and a potential boycott of Heinz products. I, for one, will be listing them all (did you know they own Weight Watchers?) Stay tuned.
Too good to be true

I'd like to believe this story: "Desperate Saddam Offers American Deal" - for his surrender, that is.

It's from a UK paper, so who knows. But here's one interesting note: the article says that Hussein's "negotiations" are being closely monitored by Condi Rice. She was a scheduled guest on Fox News Sunday this morning, but didn't show up. Hmmmm........
Evolution revisited: We’re all monkeys! Gimme gimme gimme!

Why is the New York Times held in such high regard? Their editorials are hopelessly bent on statism; to them, there is no problem that couldn’t be solved with more government intervention (and taxes to support it). With the possible exception of Tom Friedman, the opinion page is a mish-mash of leftist thinkers who always – always – frame their debate in a visceral manner. There’s very little inclination to convince an audience. Instead, it’s perpetual moralizing with every issue viewed through the prism of liberal thought.

Nothing could illustrate this blindingly obvious point than the brainless article: “What the Monkeys Can Teach Humans About Making America Fairer” in the Sunday Times.

Give a capuchin monkey a cucumber slice, and she will eagerly trade a small pebble for it. But when a second monkey, in an adjoining cage, receives a more-desirable grape for the same pebble, it changes everything. The first monkey will then reject her cucumber, and sometimes throw it out of the cage. Monkeys rarely refuse food, but in this case they appear to be pursuing an even higher value than eating: fairness.

So a monkey trades something of limited value (a pebble) for something of greater value (a cucumber). But when another monkey is given a grape for the same pebble, unfairness occurs. Too bad the monkey didn’t have a free market to trade his pebble elsewhere…but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The capuchin monkey study, published last week in Nature, has generated a lot of interest for a scant three-page report buried in the journal's letters section. There is, certainly, a risk of reading too much into the feeding habits of 10 research monkeys. But in a week when fairness was so evidently on the ropes — from the World Trade Organization meeting in CancĂșn, which poor nations walked out of in frustration, to the latest issue of Forbes, reporting that the richest 400 Americans are worth $955 billion — the capuchin monkeys offered a glimmer of hope from the primate gene pool.

We laugh at that risk! Let’s plow straight ahead and make comparisons to world trade and income inequality. Furthermore, let’s be clear: Bill Gates could learn a thing or two from the monkeys.

In the interest of space and because it’s ridiculous, the author makes a specious comparison between the amorphous issue of “fairness” and Supreme Court decisions that are viewed as “conservative” because (in my opinion) they enforce the letter of the law. Here’s the bathetic concluding paragraph of this dung-heap:

In Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey," an ape-man throws a bone he has just used as a weapon into the air and it is transformed into a spaceship. The discovery of weapons was certainly, as the movie indicates, one of our key evolutionary moments. But the capuchin monkey study is a welcome reminder that the first time an ape-man angrily picked up his food allotment and threw it into the air because it was unjust was no less pivotal to the emergence of what it means to be human.

Yes, surely the cucumber-refusal incident was a turning point in the history of mankind.

A couple of thoughts:

First of all, on the issue of “fairness,” in a typical NYT fashion, the author cannot conceive of issues that might be viewed as “unfair” in a conservative viewpoint. These issues simply do not exist. For example, is it fair to tax people at a higher rate simply because they work harder and make more money? Is it fair to allot more points to a student applying to college because he or she is a minority? Is it fair to condemn kids to rotten schools because certain special interests are intent on maintaining the monopoly of public education?

I saw “2001” also. When the ape-man discovers that a bone can be used as a weapon, there’s a sequence of shots showing water buffalo falling to the ground, followed by images of the ape-tribe eating heartily. Could it be possible that the chief ape-man, the bone-wielder, would be entitled to a greater portion of the meal?

Or would that be “unfair”?

Anyway, read the article and tell me the NYT hasn't become a parody of itself.

Update: Radley Balko has his monkey thoughts.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Friday, September 19, 2003

"North Korea's leader Kim Jong-il was immediately informed"

"Dear Leader Kim! There was a bank robbery in our blessed country!"

"Why would anybody resort to crime in our Communist paradise? Seek out these criminals."

"Yes Dear Leader! Since we've interrupted your porno video, what shall we do about the famine?"

"What famine? I'm fine right here."
The Guardian swoons over Krugman

It would be hard to find an article more fawning than this ass-kisser from the Guardian-UK:

The letters that Paul Krugman receives these days have to be picked up with tongs, and his employer pays someone to delete the death threats from his email inbox. This isn't something that can be said of most academics, and emphatically not of economic theorists, but Krugman isn't a typical don. Intercepting him in London on his way back home to New Jersey after a holiday in France...

Stop right there. Obviously, PK didn't see Tom Friedman's article. Let's skip down.

"It's an accident," Krugman concedes, addressing the question of how it came to be that the Bush administration's most persuasively scathing domestic critic isn't a loudmouthed lefty radical in the manner of Michael Moore, but a mild-mannered, not-very-leftwing, university economist, tipped among colleagues as a future Nobel prizewinner.

Sweet mercy. Surely it will be the most well-earned Nobel Prize since Arafat.

Extra: Sullivan on Krugman via Pejman. He's nuts (Krugman, that is).
The ship is going down: Kerry loses another staffer to Clark.
I like this story, via One Hand Clapping: Guards of Arlington Unknowns refuse to abandon post in hurricane (with pic)
In a nice follow up to my “feckless U.N.” post below, Steven Taylor on Poliblog notes “The U.N. needs a make-over
The feckless trifecta: The United Nations, France, and the Democrats

First, Charles Krauthammer criticizes the Democrats, on bended knee before the cheese-eating surrender monkeys:

The whole French proposal is unserious -- almost as unserious as the Democrats, whose only alternative to Bush's $87 billion is to get bailed out by France.

And of course, the Gauls’ willful obstruction to all things American is the reason why regard for the United Nations has fallen to an all time low:

Gallup recently polled the U.S. on attitudes toward the U.N., and the poll, excerpted below, made news because the "poor" rating of 60% put the eminent international organization at its lowest ebb ever in America. Only 3% had no opinion. Want to guess why?

The run-up to the Iraq War earlier this year was serious business, but one of the recurring leitmotifs was the French government's opposition to anything American. So much so that two days didn't pass without a new vintage of French jokes pouring into the inbox. Jay Leno: "Why did we ever think the French would help us kick Saddam out of Iraq? They didn't help us kick the Germans out of France."

As Tom Friedman noted yesterday, the obtuse and peevish policies of the French will lead to repercussions if they refuse to confront terrorism:

What is so amazing to me about the French campaign — "Operation America Must Fail" — is that France seems to have given no thought as to how this would affect France. Let me spell it out in simple English: if America is defeated in Iraq by a coalition of Saddamists and Islamists, radical Muslim groups — from Baghdad to the Muslim slums of Paris — will all be energized, and the forces of modernism and tolerance within these Muslim communities will be on the run. To think that France, with its large Muslim minority, where radicals are already gaining strength, would not see its own social fabric affected by this is fanciful.

No matter: the French are for France and France is for the United Nations to keep the United States in check. But yet we’re the unsophisticated cowboys because we refuse to play along.
Update from Centcom

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Sultan Hashim Ahmad Al-Jabburi Al-Tai, number 27 on the coalition’s list of most wanted government officials, is now under custody of coalition forces.

Here's the Fox News writeup.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Survivor update: I'm such a sucker for this show.
Best moment: Rupert (Team Drake) steals all the stuff from the other team's raft
Worst moment: Chesty Nicole (Team Morgan) gets voted off. We'll miss them...I mean her.

More: Damian Penny also watches Survivor (guilty pleasure) and is rooting for Michelle. Sure, why not?
Crank it up, hurricane people!

Cranking up for Emergencies: From cell phones to generators, an increasing number of household products now run on hand power.
Gray Davis: Pandering to the Martian vote

From today's SF Gate:

Davis answered some questions with personal stories, including one about his ill mother, and with apt anecdotes from the past, but, surprisingly, he got caught up when someone asked him to explain his "vision for the state."

"My vision is to make the most diverse state on earth, and we have people from every planet on the earth in this state. We have the sons and daughters of every, of people from every planet, of every country on earth," he said.

Upon leaking the secret, numerous Men in Black were dispatched to the scene.
Spoke too soon: Lileks will have the top spot on Blogdex tomorrow. A must read screed. Go.
Happy Birthday to Silent Running!
Rand Simberg has a screen capture from Fox News. “Fair and Balanced” my ass!
Our War with France

Thomas Friedman tells it like it is in today's NYT (hat tip to Tim Blair):

It's time we Americans came to terms with something: France is not just our annoying ally. It is not just our jealous rival. France is becoming our enemy.

...there is only one conclusion one can draw: France wants America to fail in Iraq.

This has been obvious to the blogosphere for some time now.

Update: Wow, it was unfair of me to credit just Tim Blair. Everyone is posting on this one. It'll be #1 on Blogdex tomorrow, for sure.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

The New York Times vs. the Real World

From Smart Money:

NEW YORK -- New York Times Co. (NYT) Wednesday issued third-quarter and full-year earnings guidance below Wall Street expectations, citing a weak advertising environment in July and August.

The newspaper publisher said, however, that it is better prepared to deal with the slower-than-expected advertising recovery because it has lowered its capital spending level and cut expenses. The company added that September, the last month of the third quarter, is seasonally stronger than the prior two months and has been trending better.

Wait...the Times was facing economic problems, so it cut spending? Why not just hike the price of the paper and raise more revenue? Cut expenses? - that's crazy talk!
Wednesdays are for W

Check out President Bush's web site, offer to volunteer, or donate - it's important for America and the world.
Locksmiths get locked out of their own van

Coat hangers are deployed. Hilarity ensues for bystanders. (Via Fark)
What a classy bunch: Via Political Wire, you'll find out that the Democratic National Committee has launched their own blog (no, I'm not linking). In the fine tradition of American political statesmanship and debate, it's called "Kicking Ass".
The Boston Globe is not impressed with Kerry

After yesterday’s hatchet piece (see below), Scot Lehigh of the Globe piles on with today’s “The Two Minds of John Kerry”:

Last Tuesday, during the Democratic debate in Baltimore, Kerry was asked about his vote to authorize the use of force (or "to threaten the use of force," as Kerry has tried to characterize it) against Iraq. Replied the candidate: "If we hadn't voted the way we voted, we would not have been able to have a chance of going to the United Nations and stopping the president, in effect, who already had the votes and who was obviously asking serious questions about whether or not the Congress was going to be there to enforce the effort to create a threat."

To call that answer incoherent is to pay it a fulsome compliment. Kerry, a close friend of John McCain, must know that voters want someone authentic, direct, genuine. Can he honestly imagine he is within a country mile of meeting that standard?

With Lehane gone, there's now some talk that Kerry may install someone to supersede campaign manager Jim Jordan.

Given the candidate's recent performance, here's a better idea: The campaign should find someone to supersede John Kerry.

So says the largest newspaper in Senator Splunge’s home state.
Our “friends” the Saudis

The least surprising story so far today: “Flow of Saudis’ Cash to Hamas is Scrutinized

At least 50 percent of Hamas's current operating budget of about $10 million a year comes from people in Saudi Arabia, according to estimates by American law enforcement officials, American diplomats in the Middle East and Israeli officials. After the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the Saudi portion of Hamas financing grew larger as donations from the United States, Europe and other Persian Gulf countries dried up, American officials and analysts said.

And the Saudis are getting money from us. But – whatever we do – let’s not disturb the caribou in Alaska and boost our domestic oil production.
Working time needed to buy a Big Mac - just 10 minutes here in America, over three hours in Kenya. No wonder they always win those marathons.
Carnival of the Vanities - it's the one-year annivesary edition over at the blog that started it all. Check it out.
From the "Don't Tax You, Don't Tax Me, Tax the Guy behind the tree" department

By an over 2-1 margin: Seattle Voters Reject Espresso Tax in Starbucks' Hometown

So Seattle has joined Alabama in an overwhelming refusal to raise taxes - what will Krugman say? Is everyone duped?

More: from N.Z. Bear on the espresso tax.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

These coffee metaphors are grounds for dismissal

From Fox News: SEATTLE — Voters in this caffeine capital were deciding the fate of a proposed 10-cent tax on espresso drinks Tuesday, an initiative that has jolted an otherwise sleepy, off-year primary with a double shot of controversy.

I'm curious to see if famously-liberal Seattle approves this latte tax. Can cappuccino speakeasys be far behind?
He was pretty funny in that movie with Hitler

Mussolini Wasn't That Bad, Says Berlusconi

Even some of Silvio Berlusconi's own supporters and allies were last night squirming with embarrassment at their leader's latest extraordinary gaffe.

In an interview published yesterday by the Spectator, Italy's prime minister appeared to defend the actions of his country's fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini.

"Mussolini never killed anyone," the magazine quoted him saying.

"Mussolini sent people on holiday to confine them [banishment to small islands such as Ponza and Maddalena which are now plush resorts]."

Italy's fascist leader ordered the brutal 1935-36 occupation of Ethiopia, led Italy into the second world war and headed a Nazi puppet government which rounded up and dispatched Italian Jews to Hitler's concentration camps.

Ah, those sophisticated Europeans.
Reality: increasingly an option for Democrats

William Saletan excoriates “lies and the lying liars who attribute them to the other party” in Slate:

And it was Clinton, not a Republican former president, who asserted at the Iowa steak fry that the other party "tried to put more arsenic in the water."

Andrew Sullivan fills in the details:

Who repeated that hoary old canard? None other than former president Bill Clinton at the Iowa State Fair, saying that the Republicans "tried to put more arsenic in the water." He knows that it was his administration that delayed new, tighter arsenic standards for eight years, and that all the incoming Bush administration did was to review the last-minute directives from the Clinton White House, before enforcing a standard that was stricter than was the case for all of the Clinton administration.

In a related story, Charles Krauthammer comments on Democrats unhinged, frothing up doomsday scenarios in a mad-grab for power:

Which is why the Democratic candidates are scrambling desperately to out-Dean Dean. Their constituency is seized with a fever, and will nominate whichever candidate feeds it best. Political fevers are a dangerous thing, however. The Democrats last came down with one in 1972--and lost 49 states.

Sounds good to me.
Hurry Kevin! - nobody has claimed the domain for "tendwarfs.com" yet! Wesley Clark enters Presidential race.
Hard to pull for Kerry

That’s the title of this brutal article by Brian McGrory in the Boston Globe. I suspect he won’t be having dinner with Senator AWOL again anytime soon.

The unvarnished truth is, I want to like him. I want to write positively of him. I want to highlight his great potential, his uncanny ability to grasp the human plight. But then he whines or haplessly hollers or passes blame as he feels every bump, every conceivable slight, along an uncommonly gilded path.

In this campaign, his answers on the famous Iraq vote aren't nuanced, they're ridiculous. His overall message isn't muddled, it's nonexistent

This is from somebody who likes Kerry (or at least used to).
California Schemin’

(To the tune of “California Dreamin’” by the Mamas & the Papas)

All the polls are closed
And we still have Gray
The court shut ‘em down
We can’t have our say
“You’re too dumb to vote”
“Cause you live in L.A.”
California Schemin’
On such an autumn’s day

No votes to cast for Arnold
Or Bustamante
Or even Gary Coleman
No chads to punch away
“The cards were OK last year”
“But no good today”
California Schemin’
On such an autumn’s day

[flute solo]

All the polls are closed
The 9th ordered delay
“Punch cards are confusing
Like Florida Y2K”
Maybe they were fearful
They’d hear the newsmen say
“Pat Buchanan’s the Governor
of Californ-i-a!”
On such an autumn’s daaaaaaaaaayyyyyy

Monday, September 15, 2003

Judge N. Sanders Sauls from the Florida recount - and California today

I haven't read through the ruling by the wacky 9th Circuit yet, but allegedly they cited Bush v. Gore to support their rationale for halting the California recall election. But before the case went to the Supreme Court, the recount mess was decided by Judge N. Sanders Sauls who said the following in his ruling:

As the state's chief legal officer, I feel a duty to warn that if the final certified total for balloting in the state of Florida includes figures generated from this two-tier system of differing behavior by official canvassing boards, the state will incur a legal jeopardy under both the United States and state constitutions.

Of course he was right, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the two-tier system was a violation of the equal protection clause (the oft-cited 5-4 ruling was that there was no time for additional recounts). No matter! said the Flori-duh Supreme Court who said "Keep counting."

But Judge Sauls also gave his reason for stopping the recounts: there was no compelling evidence that the voting system used - no matter how imperfect - would have changed the outcome of the election (right again, as numerous media recounts later proved).

It is not enough to show a reasonable possibility that election results could have been altered by such irregularities or inaccuracies. Rather, a reasonable probability that the results of the election would have been changed must be shown.

In this case, there is no credible statistical evidence and no other competent substantial evidence to establish by a preponderance a reasonable probability that the results of the statewide election in the state of Florida would be different from the result which has been certified by the state elections canvassing commission

The ACLU (plaintiffs in the recall suit) and the 9th Circuit would have us believe is that an election has to be perfect. Furthermore, there is no responsibility on the voter to mark a ballot correctly. I can only hope that the U.S. Supreme Court once again overrules this activist court and allows the people of California to vote in this lawful election.
The S.S. Kerry is sinking....

...and communications frontman Chris Lehane just jumped ship. PoliPundit has this and more.
Breaking News: Federal Appeals Court blocks California recall

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that the vote can't proceed as scheduled -- because some of the votes would be cast using outdated punch-card ballot machines.

The 9th! Of course.
Be afraid

Now I see why Matthew Hoy is all worked up over Dick Gephardt - I just read the transcript from Gephardt's appearance on Fox News Sunday yesterday. This man cannot be allowed into the Oval Office, even on a tour.
Prison Fire in Saudi Arabia

The Greatest Jeneration isn't so sure it was an accident:

"Those wacky Sauds...they don't dare execute their own Islamist terrorists for fear of the backlash it would create and they don't dare let these guys go to bomb the "Kingdom" again the way they used to."

Interesting...in a chilling kind of way.
"Ray, whatever you do, don't tell anybody we're counting cards"

Wired magazine first carried the story a couple months back but now ABC News is picking up on the math teams from MIT who rake in the cash from Vegas casinos by counting cards. Fascinating stuff.
If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck

And if everybody says your campaign has stalled and you’re looking desperate, that’s probably true too. Here are some choice quotes from today’s Boston Globe: “Kerry responds to Dean, seeks one-on-one debate

One of the key differences at the moment is that Dean's campaign has momentum, and Kerry's does not.

"It's an understandable statement on the part of a candidate who's trying to crawl his way back into the top tier," said Erik Smith, spokesman for Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri. "They're looking for gimmicks to try to revive his campaign. The Kerry campaign has clearly stalled."

Kerry's goal, [Lieberman spokesman Jano] Cabrera said, is clear. "Senator Kerry is trying to respark the rivalry that once existed between Kerry versus Dean, when Kerry was dominating Dean in New Hampshire and Iowa."

Advice to rival Democrats: bring jumper cables to Kerry rallies.
The forgotten disenfranchised voters of Florida

Robert Bartley’s article in today’s Opinion Journal “Angry Democrats: Florida and Beyond” does the old pot-kettle turnaround on Democrats angry about election losses. But Bartley also resurrects an issue that I always think of as the great unreported story of the Florida mess: the disenfranchised voters of the Florida panhandle.

The media recounts found that Mr. Bush won by 493 votes. Mr. Bush also won, this tally determined, under an honest recount of votes in the counties the Gore lawsuits had selected. It did construct a Gore victory scenario if you counted spoiled ballots. But if you entertain "what if" scenarios, you have to remember that many Republican voters were dissuaded from voting when the television networks called the election for Gore before the polls had closed in the western panhandle counties. While the Florida election was excruciatingly close, it is simply not true that the Supreme Court let Mr. Bush steal it. [Emphasis added]

Sure enough, there were probably only a couple dozen voters in the western Florida counties who decided not to vote because the state had been called for Gore (although some have claimed the premature call cost Bush 10,000 votes!) But imagine the outrage if these counties were heavily minority and liberal instead of white and conservative (the FL panhandle lies right below Alabama and Georgia). Voters would have claimed they didn’t vote because the state had already been decided for their candidate. And if the state had been erroneously called for Bush? – oh boy. The caterwauling would still be going on.

Suck it up Dems – Gore lost.
Kerry Vote Watch

The Senate met for only two days last week – Kerry managed to work about half of Wednesday, making a couple of votes in the morning before skipping out for the rest of the day. His main motivation for actually working last week seems to have been to avoid the embarrassment of missing a vote for an issue he’s been agitating on: overtime pay. So Kerry voted for the Harkin Amendment then pretty much left the Capitol so he can get back to campaigning. As such, he missed an afternoon vote on an amendment offered by John Corzine “to restore cuts in student aid.” It passed without Senator AWOL’s vote anyway.

Days worked: one-half out of two
Votes missed: 14 out of 18

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Looks like I'm not the only MadSwede out there: "Swedes Resoundingly Reject the Euro"
Link maintenance: Sasha Castel has moved here and Tom at Just One Minute moved here. Update your blogrolls and - while you're at it - why don't you add Viking Pundit? Great!

Saturday, September 13, 2003

The unintentional humor of the New York Times

In tomorrow's (Sunday's) New York Times there's a note from the Letters Editor Thomas Feyer:

Contrary to the impression of some readers, the letters page, unlike the editorials with which we share a home, does not have a political coloration of its own. We are eager to print all points of view — liberal, conservative and anything in between — expressed according to the rules of civil discourse.

And to show how unbiased we are, here's a letter from a director of the ACLU!

I imagine the NYT's idea of variety is the same as that woman in the Blues Brothers who says they have all kinds of music at the Country Bunker: "Country and Western."
Even more on the unemployment-productivity paradox from Insults Unpunished (which, by the way, has a great Jefferson quote on top).
The Big Me warms up Iowa Democrats

Bill Clinton was the opening act for the Seven Dwarves in Iowa today and once again showed his classless side by attacking a sitting president. Criticizing Bush in front of hardcore Democrats (the event was reported to be in a cornfield under a cold rain) is the equivalent of hearing "Are you ready to party!?!" at Spring Break - a predictable reaction. Bill, Bill, Bill, are you that desperate for attention?

In any case, the Big Me showed that he wasn't above a little humor:

"I get tired of people saying this field can't beat the incumbent president," Clinton said. "This is the best field of candidates we have put forward in decades."

The New York Times - always looking for the black cloud

Maybe it's just me, but this story in the NYT has a weird cadence. The headline "Rapid Growth Seen for U.S. Economy" would seem like good news, but the Times can't bear to let a single sentence in the article go by without reminding readers that job growth is still projected to be flat.

And why is job growth stagnant? For the same reasons I cited below - U.S. worker productivity is way up:

The incongruous pattern of rapid growth with a stagnant job market stems primarily from an extraordinary gain in productivity, which has allowed companies to produce far more goods with far fewer people.

If companies can produce more and increase profits, eventually it will lead to increased wages and hiring. Employment has always been a lagging economic indicator - just so long as it doesn't lag too much.

Friday, September 12, 2003

Writing writing, always writing

But I love it! The latest edition of the Smarter Harper's Index is available. Go see.

By the way, if you look closely on the Smarter Harper's page, you can see I'm wearing my 9/11 T-shirt with the graphic pictured here.
I don't have much to say about Johnny Cash, but the fine folks at Blogcritics are filling up the Internet with tributes. It would be nice to see a kind word for John Ritter also, whom I've always liked.
Gotcha! Polipundit catches Howard Dean.
Two views on employment but one common theme

CNN-Money has an article titled “This Time’s Different” about how the job market should have improved by now, but hasn’t, and lists a number of possible reasons why.

Growth in productivity is making it so that companies simply aren’t going to need to hire until the economy has been growing at a strong clip for some time. Thanks in part to improved technologies, companies have found that they are able to do more with less.

And here’s MSN-Money’s article “7 Reasons the Job Market is About to Take Off”:

Economists love productivity, which is how living standards improve and why we Americans enjoy the world’s highest standard of living. As companies become more productive, the same workforce can be used to produce more goods.

The MSN-Money article is (obviously) more optimistic on job creation and makes a political prediction:

This politics-as-usual approach [by the Democrats] will backfire very badly, in my judgment. I anticipate that the economy, a negative for the administration right now, will be a significant positive for the president’s re-election hopes by this time next year. Those Democrats, who don’t seem able to look very far ahead, will end up being hoisted by their own petard.

Of course, I very much hope that the economy continues to improve and that jobs come roaring back. Does the Democratic Party feel the same way? Somehow I suspect not.