Monday, June 30, 2008

That was then - The Hill gives away the game in their story "Obama criticizes in patriotism speech": "Obama did not vote last year when the Senate approved a measure condemning the controversial Petraeus ad." As Charles the K notes, the "nutroot lefties" no longer need to be seduced.
Enabling OPEC

Via Gateway Pundit, a Qatari minister tries to use logic and common sense on the Democratic Party of the United States: "The Congress should look to increase exploration inside the United States." This lesson on supply and demand does not take hold.

Powerline adds: "OPEC is a cartel whose members agree to limit production to keep gas prices artificially high. They think this is in their economic interest. I understand their motives, but why would Democrats in the U.S. government want to enable OPEC's fleecing of the American consumer by joining in the effort to limit production?"

With gas over the tipping point of $4/gallon, the Democrats in Congress seem intent on instituting do-nothing policies that only exacerbate the energy problem: suing OPEC, a "windfall profits" tax on domestic oil companies, ethanol subsidies (but not from Brazilian sugarcane!) that drive up food costs, and so on. Yet I'm convinced that they would also block even a new survey of potential reserves in Alaska for fear of upsetting the caribou.

Gas prices are a top-to-bottom drag on the economy but the Democrats are still talking about putting solar panels on the White House. John Maynard Keynes famously quipped: "When the facts change, I change my mind - what do you do, sir?" Gas could be heading towards $6/gallon yet we're still outsourcing our energy and national security. It's time for policies that put oil revenues into American banks instead of Saudi emirates and Venezuelan social experiments.

More - Whoops, forgot about the "use it or lose it" silliness.
Sexism banned at Boston sporting events - Boston Globe: "No broad inspections at Fenway, Garden."
Not much magic at the Magic Mile

It didn't rain for most of the race. That's the nicest thing I can say about yesterday's NASCAR race at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, NH.

Let me preface this by saying that I had a great time at last year's race (my first). Yesterday, there was some exciting jockeying for the lead between Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., before Tony Stewart blew to the front and held on for 132 laps. I like Smoke, who hasn't had a win all year, and it looked like he might finally go to Victory Lane. But in the last ten laps, all heck broke loose: Jr. got wrecked coming onto pit road, Clint Bowyer was dumped by Sam Hornish, then Juan Pablo Montoya intentionally rammed Kyle Busch under caution. The leaders came into pit road but a handful of scrubs stayed out and, before they could restart, the rain started pouring down. So instead of a win for Stewart, a Bizarro World second-place finish for Michael Waltrip and third for J.J. Yeley. (Kurt Busch ended up with a rain-shortened victory).

As Tony Stewart grimly joked afterward: "I guarantee you there's a crew chief down there that they're hiding sharp objects from right now."

One other thing: we left the track almost two hours after the race was called and still hit unimaginable traffic. C'mon, NHMS, you have to do better than just hiring more cops.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Please don't rain

Going to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway Sunday for the only NASCAR event in New England. Be back Monday, traffic allowing.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Working at the car wash blues - Sorry about the dearth of posting lately but I've been confronted with yet another financial burden. Our 15-year-old washing machine started dumping about five gallons of water onto the floor between cycles. Tonight, we headed to the appliance store to spend another grand on a new LG front-load washer (less water and energy required.) This comes on the heels of braces for my kid and, a couple months ago, a new-used car to replace my beloved Subaru. I'm starting to think that tapping into my 401(k) may not be such a terrible idea after all.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Any resemblance to the guy to the left is coincidental - The Boston Globe has a photo essay on "The American Nerd" that's pretty humorous. Apparently we rule the world.
Now that the horse is firmly out of the barn, part 2 - Boston Globe: "Mandela ends silence, blasts Mugabe"

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Even more on Obama's Social Security plan

First from Ramesh Ponnuru on the Corner:

Obama would continue to leave wages between $102,000 and $250,000 untaxed -but levy a tax on wages above $250,000. He has not, however, specified what rate those high-end wages would be taxed at or whether people would earn higher benefits for making higher payments, among other things.
And here's Donald Luskin in Opinion Journal:

Throughout the history of the Social Security program, there has always been a connection between what you contribute in taxes and what you get back in benefits. If Mr. Obama uncaps the wages subject to tax, but doesn't uncap benefits, then he has severed the link between them. Social Security would stand revealed not as a work-related contributory retirement system, but simply as a tax-funded welfare and income-redistribution program.
As Luskin points out, even if Obama plans to boost benefits for those paying above the $250,000 cap, Social Security actuaries estimate this would only close about one-third of the program's long-term shortfall. Look, none of these plans is perfect and John McCain hasn't made much movement on his proposal, if one exists. But the fundamental problem with Obama's approach is that he needs to decide whether Social Security will maintain its traditional role as a "universal" program available to all, or whether it will head down the slope towards another system of income redistribution.
Speed dressing - AdAge "J.C. Penney upset at racy Cannes-winning ad": "A racy viral ad created for J.C. Penney that took home a prestigious award from the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival last week has been blasted by the client and ordered removed from circulation, with the retailer livid that the spot -- which gives the impression J.C. Penney condones teen sex -- was produced without its consent." Whoops! Video here.
Guilty of murder one

I meant to write something yesterday about the Neil Entwistle double-murder trial here in Massachusetts. The British citizen was accused of killing his daughter and wife and the substantial trail of evidence left little doubt that he was guilty. What was noteworthy about the defense was that it used the old "the state didn't meet the burden of proof" tactic. The Entwistle defense called no witnesses and fabricated an alternate scenario that nobody could possibly believe. The prosecution could have objected to this "hail mary" but it seemed they were content to give the defense all the rope they needed to hang their client.

Has this tactic of claiming the state failed to reach the burden of proof ever worked? I need a legal mind to give me some background here. In any case, it took the jury all of two days to review Entwistle's internet searches (e.g. "knife in neck kill") to find him guilty on two counts.
Now that the horse is firmly out of the barn - Boston Globe: "UN says fair Zimbabwe poll impossible." Thanks for the update, boys!
It's the American way - A contractor for Boston's $15 billion Big Dig underbids other companies, performs shoddy work, and cashes in with multiple extensions. Now, when the Bay State seeks some refunds from said company, it files for chapter 11. What a country.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The always-rational environmental wing - Fox News: NASA wacko defines free speech that he disagrees with as 'high crimes against humanity.' Reality based.

More - From Newsbusters.
He had a hand in the photocopying

Writing in the Corner, Yuval Levin notes that Barack Obama is claiming in ads that he "passed laws" to extend healthcare to U.S. soldiers. As it turns out, Obama didn't write the bill and didn't pass any amendments to the 2008 Defense Authorization Bill.

Oh, and he didn't vote for it, either.

But he hoped for it!
Who will pay for all these neat programs the government provides?

In the second part of a (short) series, Jeff Jacoby ponders negative population growth and the impact on an aging population in "A world without children"

Result: a dramatic and inexorable aging of society. In the years ahead, the ranks of the elderly are going to swell to unprecedented levels, while the number of young people continues to dwindle. The working-age population will shrink, first in relation to the population of retirees, then in absolute terms.

Now a determined optimist might take this as good news. In theory, fewer people in the workforce should increase the demand for employees and thus keep unemployment low and the economy humming.

But the record tells a different story. In Japan, where the fall in fertility rates began early, the working-age population has been a diminishing share of the nation for 20 years. Yet for much of that period, unemployment has been up, not down.

"Similarly, in the United States, the number of people between the ages of 15 and 24 has been declining in relative terms since 1990," demographer Phillip Longman observed in the Harvard Business Review. "But the smaller supply has not made younger workers more valuable; their unemployment rate has increased relative to that of their older counterparts."

Far from boosting the economy, an aging population depresses it. As workers are taxed more heavily to support surging numbers of elders, they respond by working less, which leads to stagnation, which reduces economic opportunity still further. "Imagine that all your taxes went for nothing but Social Security and Medicare," says Longman in "Demographic Winter," a new documentary about the coming population decline, "and you still didn't have health care as a young person."
Jeff Jacoby blames the Sexual Revolution (in part) for the drift away from the traditional family but I wonder if there isn't a finger to point at the Green Revolution and its push to limit large families. Here's a re-typed excerpt from P.J. O'Rourke's "All the Trouble in the World"

"Malthus," says Vice President Al Gore in Earth in the Balance, "was right in predicting that the population would grow geometrically." Al, as the father of four children, should know.
Everything you need to know about long-discredited Malthusian theory you can find in the Paul Ehrlich-Julian Simon wager. The Left wants fewer kids but they also want expanded government entitlements; as they say, something's gotta give.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Mugabe wins, Zimbabwe and democracy lose - Fox News: "Mugabe's Opposition Pulls Out of Election, Paving Way for Dictator to Stay in Power"

More - From the Corner: "He [Mugabe's opponent] is quoted to the effect that the U.N. is supposed to protect him and guarantee fair elections. But somehow the U.N. didn't."

Friday, June 20, 2008

Random music commentary - You know what song I heard today that I hadn't heard in a long, long time? "Stick Up" by Honey Cone. What a great tune.

"Boom boom shackalacka boom boom boom shackalacka"

Hot Wax!
"Brothels struggle?" - The crisis, documented: "A complete list of things caused by global warming"
One week to the runoff election in Zimbabwe

From Yglesias:

Police officer is called into HQ with the rest of his unit and told everyone's supposed to fill out mail in ballots right in front of three superior officers. He fills it out, puts it in the envelope and then:

They opened his ballot and saw that he had voted for Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC. He was followed by the Police Internal Security Intelligence (PISI) who attempted to kidnap him that night at his home. He has been on the run ever since. This officer told me another story of another officer in his unit who actually voted his ballot out in the open, on the table, in front of the three senior Police officers, and was immediately arrested and taken to one of the detention centers that are now being called "Reeducation Camps".

I asked him what "reeducation" means? He told me "People are only taken there to be beaten".
Refresher link - "How to kill a country: Turning a breadbasket into a basket case in ten easy steps-the Robert Mugabe way."
Now you know - Via Ambinder, John McCain's Secret Service codename is "Phoenix." Barack Obama's is "Renegade."
What media bias? - I did not imagine this and I wonder if anybody else caught it this afternoon: describing Scott McClellan's tell-all book on the Bush White House, Wolf Blitzer noted it was "#2 on the New York Times hardcover fiction list." Oh, Wolf, you shill for the GOP.
It's not good: again on Obama's Social Security plan

Hey, I know this is a "minor" blog but it would be nice to get a byline or a writing credit every once in a while. Just a little kudos, you know? Anyhoo, writing in Opinion Journal, Lawrence Lindsey goes a little further into Barack's SS scheme:

There is a very good and principled reason why Social Security taxes are paid on just $102,000 of income: Benefits are calculated based on that same $102,000 of income.

The fundamental principle of linking taxes and benefits was established when Roosevelt designed Social Security. He wanted to make sure that it was not a welfare system, calling Social Security "a base upon which each one of our citizens may build his individual security through his own individual efforts." His instincts have generally proved sound. Had Social Security been considered "welfare" rather than a return on taxes earned, it probably would never have had the popularity or the staying power that it has enjoyed for the last seven decades.

Although the formula connecting benefits to tax payments or "contributions" has evolved slightly over time, it still adheres to this basic message. Today, what Social Security terms a "low-wage" worker will pay (in present value terms) $77,197 over his or her lifetime and get $112,261 in benefits. A median-wage worker earning $42,000 will pay $171,550 and get back $187,085. A "high-wage" worker making $67,000 will pay $274,480 and get back $245,085.

Under the current formula, lower-wage workers get a slightly better deal than do higher-wage workers, assuming the same life expectancy. But the principle remains that as workers' wages rise so do the taxes they pay, and so do the benefits they will get from the system.

Sen. Obama would do away with this principle by requiring higher-end workers to pay taxes without getting any extra benefits linked to their higher contributions. This would be a big step toward turning Social Security from a contributory pension scheme into just another welfare program.
Lindsey goes a little further into the tax ramifications to find that entrepreneurs - the engine of the economy - would take a disproportionate hit that would depress projected tax revenues well below what Obama claims could be collected.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Robin Hood mentality

A very familiar notion from the American Thinker: "Obama's latest proposal to raise taxes"

Moreover, under current rules, Social Security caps both benefits and earnings. Thus, unless Obama also favors paying more Social Security benefits to the wealthier earners -- highly unlikely -- then his plan undermines Social Security's historic role as a basic social safety net rather than a program that redistributes income. This realization has triggered criticism even from Democrats, including Henry Aaron of the liberal Brookings Institution and former Rep. Charles Stenholm of Texas. "When you say you're going to begin means-testing the program," Stenholm noted, "you begin to convert Social Security from an insurance program to a welfare program."
Social Security's saving grace as a government program is the notion that it's "universal" in that everybody gets back something proportional to what was "saved." As a conservative who thinks it's all a big Ponzi scheme, Obama's proposal affirms the idea that all government programs, eventually, morph into a Robin Hood default. This program is going to wither functionally and politically. Thank heaven for 401(k)s.
If it drives like an amphibious vehicle, it must be a duck tour

From the Boston Globe: "Judge says a duck tour is a duck tour"

If it looks like a duck and swims like a duck, it probably is one. And if it carries tourists on land and sea, it can be called a duck tour.

A federal Appellate Court judge yesterday overturned a year-old trademark infringement ruling that barred Super Duck Tours LLC from using the words "duck tours" in its name and a logo of a cartoon duck splashing in water in Greater Boston, where the longer-established Boston Duck Tours LP argued the similarities confused customers.
I took the family on a Boston Duck Tour the last time were were in Beantown. They're fun, for sure, but I think they cost about $4000.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Demography is destiny, once again with feeling

In the first of a two-part column, Jeff Jacoby discusses "The coming population bust." Forget about peak oil, have we reached peak population?

Human fertility has been dropping for years and is now below replacement levels - the minimum required to prevent depopulation - in scores of countries, including China, Japan, Canada, Brazil, Turkey, and all of Europe. The world's population is still rising, largely because of longer life spans - more people live to old age than in the past. But with far fewer children being born today, there will be far fewer adults bearing children tomorrow. In some countries, the collapse has already begun. Russia, for example, is now losing 700,000 people a year.

Even in the United States, where birth rates are still (barely) at replacement level, there are hints of the dislocations to come: In Pittsburgh, reports The New York Times, deaths now outnumber births and hospitals are closing obstetrics wards or converting them to acute care for the elderly. Pittsburgh's public school enrollment was 70,000 in the 1980s. It is 30,000 today - and falling.
Lotsa old people and fewer kids (i.e. workers). You can see where this is going.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Credit cards for everyone! - CBS Chicago: "Christiansen said she decided to allow [her six-year old son] Bennett to fill out a credit card application from Bank of America. He accurately wrote in his birthday in 2002, his annual income of $0, and the fact that he is an "other," that is, neither a homeowner nor a renter. He signed his name in writing that was obviously that of a child, she said." (HT: Fark)
Obama's Social Security proposal - Some background here. I'm less interested in the debate over raising the income cap than whether Obama plans to pay that money back.

As I've written time and time again, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt set up Social Security, he understood the program would have no support if Americans knew that John D. Rockefeller was receiving a huge check every month proportional to the payroll taxes he paid into the system. Thus, the annual income that could be taxed - and thus the payroll taxes collected - was capped, limiting the maximum benefit that could be paid out to any American.

Social Security has always been a program where benefits have been proportional to the payroll taxes paid into the system. Is Obama going to maintain the proportional system and send huge monthly checks to Warren Buffett? Or does he plan to appropriate the new taxes and turn Social Security into another government welfare program? It's an either/or question, really.

Extra - A Stitch in Haste notices the same dilemma: "Will the additional taxes paid by those earning above the donut hole earn them additional Social Security benefits upon retirement?" There goes "universality."
Great moments in high-caliber calligraphy

"The pen is mightier than the sword" - Edward Bulwer-Lytton

"How can a ballpoint pen fight with a gun?" - Zimbabwe tyrant Robert Mugabe
The "winners" shall be punished for their winning ways

From the Wall Street Journal:

WSJ: "What about the role of taxation? ... For the most part, the way I look at your tax policy, seems to me that you look at it and say, tax policy over the past decade, and maybe even before that, has produced an outcome that has benefited people mostly at the top, and your goal is to try to redistribute it in a different fashion."

Sen. Obama: "Here's what I would say: I do believe the tax policies over the last eight years have been badly skewed towards the winners of the global economy."

In other news, they keep giving that Stanley Cup to the hockey team that scores the most goals. Is that fair, America? I mean, c'mon!

Monday, June 16, 2008

We're all Maxine Waters-crazy now - By way of Q&O, a disturbingly large percentage of Americans thinks we should nationalize the oil industry. The mind reels.
Obama should just slap Hillary across the face with a mackerel and be done with it

We get it already, he's not going to pick her for the VP slot. From the Trail "Clinton Insiders Take Umbrage at Solis Doyle Move"

"It's a slap in the face," Susie Tompkins Buell, a prominent Clinton backer, said in an interview. "Why would they put somebody that was so clearly ineffective in such a position? It's a message. We get it." She said it was a "calculated decision" by the Obama team to "send a message that she [Clinton] is not being considered for the ticket."

Other Clinton insiders also seethed. "Who can blame Obama for rewarding Patti? He would never be the nominee without her," one person who has worked for both Clintons and remains close to them said. The sentiment reflected what another person in the immediate Clinton orbit described as "shock" that Obama would send such a strong signal that he is not considering Clinton as his running mate so soon.
I knew it was over for Hillary when Obama surrogates were floating the pre-condition that Bill Clinton would have to reveal the donors to his Presidential library. That's not going to happen.
We need energy - U.S. News & World Report: "7 Ways McCain Can Use Energy to Beat Obama"
Sorry for the spotty service - We've been having a series of thunderstorms here and they appear to disable my DSL connection. Catching up now.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Happy Father's Day - Just a note for my handful of readers: I did all my chores today so that I can relax and watch NASCAR tomorrow. Blogging will resume soon. Love you, Dad.
Rejoinder of the day

At a fundraiser today, Barack Obama said: "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun."

Tom Maguire responds: "Uh huh. I hope he also brings a gun permit, a trigger lock, and a good lawyer."
Quote of the day - It's tyrant Robert Mugabe, explaining how democracy works in Zimbabwe: "These pathetic puppets taking over our country? Let's see. That's not going to happen."

Frankly, it's a wonder that Morgan Tsvangirai is still alive. I'd guess he has two more weeks above room temperature (the presidential runoff election is June 27th.)
Hey, wasn't that the plot of "Muriel's Wedding"? - Bridal shops now charging fees to dissuade "schoolgirls" from wasting their time trying on wedding gowns. (HT: Fark)
Sunday morning - The dean of NBC News, Tom Brokaw, will be getting together with some of Russert's favorites on a subdued "Meet the Press." James Carville and Mary Matalin will be there and I'm reminded that Russert would always invite their young daughters on the show.
Take it as you will - From the Economist: "Is it turning the corner?" - "By all the main measures - military, political and economic - Iraq is now improving, from a dire base. But that does not yet mean it is headed for peace and prosperity."
McCain and Obama spar for Grandma

From the Boston Globe: "Candidates offer Social Security plans"

McCain's plan is: "I won't privatize Social Security, although maybe a little for younger workers."

Obama's plan is: "Tax the rich and then destroy the universality by turning it into a welfare program."

As a matter of policy, McCain's approach does the least amount of harm.
Humans are the worst, especially you - From the Plank: ""The Happening": The Most Morally Abhorrent Film Ever Made"

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tim Russert, gone at 58 - Sudden and shocking. His son had just graduated from Boston College and he'd returned from a celebratory trip to Italy.

I couldn't find the clip on YouTube, but one of my favorite Tim Russert moments was about 3 a.m. in the morning on election night 2000. Al Gore had withdrawn his concession and the Presidency was still up in the air. A visibly exhausted Tim Russert - who had probably been up for 24 hours straight at this point - turned to an equally tired Tom Brokaw and asked "now what do we do?"

Well, during the next commercial break, they went to bed.

Update - Appropriately, the Buffalo Bills website has a tribute.

More - At Memeorandum.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Boumediene v. Bush

A day's perspective seems to be in order whenever there's a major Supreme Court decision. Without delving too deeply into the decision, one of the legal minds over at the Volokh Conspiracy makes the following observation:

In Boumediene, the Court challenges congressional power as well as the executive. It strikes down as unconstitutional several provisions of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 and the MCA. This is a nearly unprecedented situation where the Court rejected an important assertion of wartime power backed by both of the other branches of government. To my knowledge, virtually every previous case in which the Court ruled an important wartime policy unconstitutional was one where the policy in question was adopted by the executive acting alone.
And here's another perspective from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts:

So who has won? Not the detainees. The Court's analysis leaves them with only the prospect of further litigation to determine the content of their new habeas right, followed by further litigation to resolve their particular cases, followed by further litigation before the D. C. Circuit-where they could have started had they invoked the DTA procedure. Not Congress, whose attempt to "determine-through democratic means-how best" to balance the security of the American people with the detainees' liberty interests, has been unceremoniously brushed aside. Not the Great Writ, whose majesty is hardly enhanced by its extension to a jurisdictionally quirky outpost, with no tangible benefit to anyone. Not the rule of law, unless by that is meant the rule of lawyers, who will now arguably have a greater role than military and intelligence officials in shaping policy for alien enemy combatants. And certainly not the American people, who today lose a bit more control over the conduct of this Nation's foreign policy to unelected, politically unaccountable judges.
I haven't seen Antonin Scalia's dissenting opinion, but I'm sure it will be a barn burner.
Right so, Capt. Fantastic - Just as I passed a gas station this morning, Elton John started singing "When are you gonna come down?" from "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road."
Harry Reid, you're no LBJ - Bob Novak does some reminiscing in "The decline of the Senate" about the deterioration of "the world's greatest deliberative body."
Welcome! - According to Conservative Grapevine, Viking Pundit is the site of the day. So I got that goin' for me. Thanks for the traffic, John.
Cheap gas!

From CNN: "ExxonMobil to sell 2,220 gas stations"

Forget about that! Where can I go to get $2.95 gas?!? Tell me, CNN!

In related news, this Wall Street Journal editorial, titled "$4 gasbags" sounds suspiciously like my post of last night:

Anyone wondering why U.S. energy policy is so dysfunctional need only review Congress's recent antics. Members have debated ideas ranging from suing OPEC to the Senate's carbon tax-and-regulation monstrosity, to a windfall profits tax on oil companies, to new punishments for "price gouging" - everything except expanding domestic energy supplies.

Amid $135 oil, it ought to be an easy, bipartisan victory to lift the political restrictions on energy exploration and production. Record-high fuel costs are hitting consumers and business like a huge tax increase. Yet the U.S. remains one of the only countries in the world that chooses as a matter of policy to lock up its natural resources. The Chinese think we're insane and self-destructive, while the Saudis laugh all the way to the bank.
This could be a huge opportunity for John McCain to show that he grasps the long-term implications of soaring demand for petroleum on the world market and the need to control our own destiny. Instead, there isn't a whit of daylight between his position and Obama's; do nothing to boost supply and hope for the best.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The feeling is mutual - This emailer to the Corner is spot on. John McCain also "drives me crazy" on energy policy. (Earlier post here)

When the United States was shocked by the 1973 oil embargo, we were only importing 28% of our oil. And what have we learned from history? Nothing: oil imports now account for 55% of our total consumption. We have utterly outsourced our energy, and therefore economic, security to Hugo Chavez and the Al-Qaeda supporters in Saudi Arabia.

Heaven forbid we should disturb the caribou in ANWR and the 0.2% of the land we would have to develop for energy independence. Suck it up, America, and learn to love $5/gallon gas.
Brave, brave Gov. Patrick - According to the Boston Globe, MA Governor Deval Patrick is going to take on the teacher unions and support "readiness schools" which allows more local control over schools. Let's hope this courageous stand goes farther than his avowed stand against the police unions.

Related stuff - Joanne Jacobs: "Charter schools score well in L.A."

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

What media bias?

Maybe I'm being conspiratorial here, but I just got my Newsweek with the cover story: "A new kind of recession" with "recession" spelled out in large letters over a gas pump. The rest of the cover is a melange of negative connotations including "war", "death", "nerd", and - coincidence, I'm sure - "McCain." Compare this to the fawning covers for Saint Obama, where a halo of light never fails to hover around his glorious head.

Extra - Found this after my post: "When does Newsweek officially change it's name to Obamaweek?"

More - From Betsy here and here.
You say tomato, I say salmonella - Today at Subway, they had signs prominently displayed informing they would not put tomatoes on sandwiches. So I got a meatball with onions. Will the tomato industry be able to ketchup?
Mission accomplished

It looks like the glorious rule of Robert Mugabe will live on in Zimbabwe. From the Boston Globe: "Violence dooming revote in Zimbabwe"

Persistent violence by government agents and supporters in Zimbabwe is making it impossible to hold a fair presidential runoff election later this month, according to a report by Human Rights Watch.

In interviews with victims, the study detailed violence against opposition supporters across the country, with the creation of "no-go zones" in rural areas surrounded by roadblocks to prevent foreign journalists and human rights workers from witnessing the abuses.

The report said Zimbabwe was suffering the worst election violence in its history, overwhelmingly perpetrated by the ruling ZANU-PF party against activists and supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in advance of the June 27 runoff vote.
In the same article, a testament to the Second Amendment, and what happens when only the government has guns:

Zimbabwean military officers handed out a bullet to every villager called to compulsory political meetings in April, in an ominous threat that they should not vote opposition, according to the report.

"Each villager would be given a bullet to hold in their hands, then a soldier would say, 'If you vote for the MDC in the presidential runoff election, you have seen the bullets, we have enough for each one of you, so beware,' " the report said.
Robert Mugabe was a founding father of modern Zimbabwe, a modern-day George Washington. Now he's the poster child for the occasional virtue of assassination.

Monday, June 09, 2008

It's funny because I was just watching "WarGames" on TV - CNN "Government unveils world's fastest computer": "Scientists unveiled the world's fastest supercomputer on Monday, a $100 million machine that for the first time has performed 1,000 trillion calculations per second in a sustained exercise."
You're not reading this - I know this isn't a high-traffic site, but according to SiteMeter nobody's been here since 2pm. It's just me, talking to myself again.
What're you in for?

Today's Boston Globe has a tale of come-uppance in "Disabled placard abusers targeted"

He lives in one of Wellesley's most exclusive neighborhoods, owns a $1.8 million Nantucket vacation home, and has a small fleet of luxury cars at his disposal. But when Gerald Hamelburg drives downtown, he doesn't like to pay his way, according to investigators with the state inspector general's office.

The Boston lawyer, they say, uses his deceased mother's handicapped placard to park his Mercedes convertible, free of charge, at meters near the High Street firm that bears his name.
Public humiliation, a $500 fine, and a 30-day suspension apparently wasn't enough for Mr. Hamelburg; our feckless governor has to go one step beyond:

The Patrick administration also filed a bill making it a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, to use a counterfeit or altered placard. That bill was given initial approval Thursday by the House.
That's a proportional response.
It doesn't make for a snappy bumper sticker - Here's editorial page editor Fred Hiatt in the WashPost: "On weapons of mass destruction overall (a separate section of the intelligence committee report)? "Generally substantiated by intelligence information." Delivery vehicles such as ballistic missiles? "Generally substantiated by available intelligence." Unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to deliver WMDs? "Generally substantiated by intelligence information." Add "Bush lied" to "Gore won" in the pantheon of Leftist legends. Much more here.

Extra - The Anchoress has more and Gateway Pundit spoke with Senator Kit Bond of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Not even trying - If the people answering this Rasmussen poll are all in the bag for McCain, he's going to win by a landslide. By a huge margin, Americans believe the media isn't even trying to be objective and will actively try to help Obama. Do tell.
Stay classy - Mark Hemingway responds to the charge that John McCain is playing the "torture" card: "But hey, support the troops, right? You know, provided that one of those "troops" didn't serve their country in the most difficult situation imaginable and then have the temerity to run for president as a Republican. In which case, screw 'em." Where have I heard that before?

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Unsurprising - Remember that crane that toppled over in New York City last week, killing a couple people? From the NY Times "City's top crane inspector is arrested": "The city's chief crane inspector was arrested Friday and charged with taking bribes to allow cranes under his review to pass inspection and for taking money from a crane company that sought to ensure that its employees would pass the required licensing exam, the authorities said." (HT: Memeorandum)
Kids! - Patterico has some analysis on why the unemployment rate jumped and how the minimum wage is (partially) to blame, complete with a personal anecdote. (HT: Wizbang)
Ambitious, yet humble, like this guy - Mark Steyn: "Obama the humble savior" (HT: Betsy)
The untouchable entitlement

Hey, I haven't had a Social Security post in a long time. One reason I focus on Social Security, aside from the generational inequity it represents, is that at least the Social Security program has achievable - if painful - solutions. But Medicare is the program that simultaneously cannot be cut (due to the power of the elderly voting bloc) but cannot be paid for (due to runaway medical costs). The Weekly Standard frames the problem in: "The Train Wreck Ahead - Medicare is rolling toward disaster, and there is no easy way to fix it."

Social Security reform plans are a dime a dozen, but credible Medicare reform proposals are scarce. Why? Because Medicare's financial problems are so immense as to seem beyond resolution, and the policy environment is complex. Would-be entitlement reformers decry the lack of courageous leadership from politicians, but, truth be told, even the so-called experts are at a loss over how to begin closing Medicare's yawning financing gap.

The most recent report from the program's board of trustees, issued in late March, only adds to the sense of hopelessness. Medicare's liabilities are expected to exceed revenue dedicated to paying for the program by $36 trillion over the next 75 years, and the trust fund that pays for hospital services is expected to go bankrupt in 2019. Total Medicare spending is projected to more than triple as a share of the national economy, rising from 3.2 percent of GDP in 2007 to 6.3 percent in 2030, 8.4 percent in 2050, and 10.7 percent in 2080. Federal individual income tax collections amount to only about 8.5 percent of GDP. Covering just the increase in Medicare spending expected by 2030 would require a 36 percent across-the-board individual income tax hike.
Man, don't look at me. At least for Social Security, we can gradually increase the retirement age or pare cost-of-living adjustments. Medicare spending is nearly beyond control and an aging population will have little patience for program cuts. What this means is that, on top of Social Security shortfalls, younger workers will have to bear an ever-growing burden of spending on the elderly. A 36% tax hike (i.e. going from a 30% rate to 41%) on top of a 12.4% payroll tax edges into the twilight zone where people refuse to pay their taxes. As Herbert Stein sagely noted: "If something cannot go on forever, it will stop."

Friday, June 06, 2008

Democrats trying desperately to orchestrate their own defeat

Have they gone insane? CNN: "Poll finds majority of Dems want Obama-Clinton ticket"

Right now, Obama is a slight favorite for the presidency and possibly he feels that the blue-collar vote would mobilize behind him if Hillary happened to be on the ticket. But traditionally people don't vote based on the Vice President and the downside is that nothing would mobilize Republicans to the polls like a Clinton on the ballot.

Also, this is the zenith of message mixing: Obama's whole campaign has been based on "change" and now you're resurrecting nostalgia for the Clinton years. Then there's the "too much history" angle that could turn off a lot of voters who (maybe) view the ticket as a big gimmick.

So, there's a minor upside to a Obama-Clinton team that comes with a much larger downside. I hope they do it!
Advantage: Viking Pundit!

Me, five days ago: "Hillary's campaign debt is now over $20 million, including $11 million of her own money. She wants that money back."

The Associated Press, today: "Clinton expected to look to Obama for help on debt" Or else, Barack.
So what's the good news?

Unemployment soars, as does the price of oil.
The Dow drops nearly 400 points.
As Tom Bevan notes, the listing economy is creating headwind for McCain.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

It's going to be a nailbiter

MSNBC's First Read makes an early estimation of an electoral vote breakdown and (suspiciously) finds it a 200-200 count with 138 toss-ups.

Base Obama: CA, CT, DE, DC, HI, IL, MD, MA, NY, RI, VT (153 electoral votes)
Lean Obama: ME, NJ, MN, OR, WA (47 votes)
Toss-up: CO, FL, IA, MI, NV, NM, NH, OH, PA, VA, WI (138 votes)
Lean McCain: AR, GA, IN, LA, MS, MO, MT, NE, NC, ND (84 votes)
Base McCain: AL, AK, AZ, ID, KS, KY, OK, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, WV, WY (116 votes)

I think this is the first indication that the 2008 election is going to be the absolute worst in terms of media bias for the Obama-messiah. Florida is merely a "toss-up"? Virginia, too? Georgia is only a "lean" state for McCain? Give me a break. To be fair, I think Pennsylvania will go to Obama, but by the same coin I think a traditionally Republican state like Ohio will go to McCain.

For future reference, bookmark Election Projection for the most comprehensive (and honest) estimation of the state-by-state contests.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Invasion of the body snatchers - With the conviction of Tony Rezko, Barack Obama is once again surrounded by associates he "doesn't know": "Obama seems to suffer from a singular inability to "know" his most intimate associates. One day soon, will a "saddened" Obama tell us that the Michelle Obama we see on video is "not the Michelle Obama I knew?" Time will tell."
Global warming update - There is none. Check back next month.

In related news, I just noticed that Tim Blair moved his site.
Hillary to quit Friday

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Hillary's "not making any decisions tonight" - As predicted, no concession speech. Instead, she's going to confer with party leaders and her staff. Which is something like standing on the deck of the Titanic, waiting for the "right" time to board the lifeboat.

Extra - From the Stump: "That outrageous, delusional Clinton speech." So he didn't like it.
The "donut hole" slams the blue states - Via Maggie's Farm, the Tax Prof Blog has the winners and losers under Obama's proposal to lift the wage ceiling on payroll taxes used to pay for Social Security.
South Dakota goes to Clinton - Her last hurrah, as it were. It's telling, though, that even though Obama had essentially clinched the nomination, people in the Coyote State still took the time to vote for the non-Obama candidate. Protest? Pique? You make the call.
Irrational Obama-mania

As Barack sews up the nomination tonight, it's worth reviewing something I've been saying for a while: how did a guy who just four years ago was reviewing zoning laws in Chicago now poised to become Leader of the Free World? Obama's been in the U.S. Senate for just four years and he's been running for president for two on a non-existent resume. Does anybody have any idea what he's done...or what he'll do? Here's Bill Bennett:

And thus the Democratic party is about to nominate a far left candidate in the tradition of George McGovern, albeit without McGovern's military and political record. The Democratic party is about to nominate a far-left candidate in the tradition of Michael Dukakis, albeit without Dukakis's executive experience as governor. The Democratic party is about to nominate a far left candidate in the tradition of John Kerry, albeit without Kerry's record of years of service in the Senate. The Democratic party is about to nominate an unvetted candidate in the tradition of Jimmy Carter, albeit without Jimmy Carter's religious integrity as he spoke about it in 1976. Questions about all these attributes (from foreign policy expertise to executive experience to senatorial experience to judgment about foreign leaders to the instructors he has had in his cultural values) surround Barack Obama. And the Democratic party has chosen him.
There's no there there.
The gang that couldn't shoot straight - The state of the Republican Party in Massachusetts is embarrassing, infuriating, and laughable at the same time: "In a major embarrassment to Republican leaders in Massachusetts and in the U.S. Senate, Jim Ogonowski, the party's anointed candidate to challenge Democratic Senator John F. Kerry, failed by a razor-thin margin today to qualify for the GOP primary ballot." Great job, guys!

Monday, June 02, 2008

And mend that wall while you're at it - CNN: "Call it poetic justice: More than two dozen young people who broke into Robert Frost's former home for a beer party and trashed the place are being required to take classes in his poetry as part of their punishment." (HT: Fark)
The long slide at the NY Times - Power Line writes "It sounded right to them" when the historians at the Ol' Gray Lady declared that the U.S. had employed biological warfare. In their defense, that's what Jayson Blair told them, that fink.
Hillary's denouement?

Marc Ambinder has been a touchstone of inside information on the Presidential campaign and I tend to agree with his speculation that Hillary will not drop out tomorrow night. But the fact that she's summoning "major donors" leads me to believe that Hillary's endgame is not political, but financial.

Hillary's campaign debt is now over $20 million, including $11 million of her own money. She wants that money back. So tomorrow night after the polls have closed and all the superdelegates gather behind Obama, I think Hillary's going to make a none-too-subtle play to shake down the Democratic party. There will be a bit of humble "help me out" with the undercurrent of "if you don't I'm taking this to Denver."

Because there are two things to remember: the Clintons love their money and they expect other people to pay for their expenses.
Zimbabwe's dictator looks for food in Rome. His countrymen are not invited.

CNN: "Mugabe's presence at food summit 'obscene'"

Western leaders attacked Zimbabwe's president for participating in this week's U.N. summit on the global food crisis while his people are going hungry.

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said it was "obscene" that the man "who has presided over the starvation of his people" would be attending the three-day conference.

Mugabe is blamed for the economic collapse of a country once considered a regional breadbasket.

Zimbabweans increasingly are unable to afford food and other essentials with agriculture paralyzed by land reform and the world's highest rate of inflation.
They need to invent new calculators to estimate inflation in Zimbabwe which is somewhere around a Googolplex kajillion.