Saturday, August 30, 2008

More camping for me - Hope everybody has a great Labor Day weekend. Be back soon.
The Biden-Palin cage match

During the primaries, whenever Hillary flashed her national security credentials, Obama would simply retort: you voted for the war in Iraq. Well, so did Joe Biden. For all of his foreign policy bona fides, he's, well, he's really no damn good:

Biden chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but experts in the field do not consider him a heavyweight. His authority comes from his chairmanship, not vice versa.
More specifically, Biden went "all-in" against the surge in Iraq:

While Biden was busy supporting partition, he was opposing the plan by Gen. David Petraeus to use a new strategy to win the war and hold the country together. Petraeus wanted to deploy more troops to Baghdad to clear, secure and hold neighborhoods. Biden's response, in June 2007, was strong and unequivocal: "The surge isn't going to work either tactically or strategically." John McCain risked his political career to take the opposite view. He will not let Biden off the hook easily.

In what promises to be a tight, hard-fought race, Biden's foreign-policy expertise is not the asset Obama was seeking for victory in November.
Who will have the upper hand in the Vice Presidential debate? The thoroughly unlikable Joe Biden is going to be put back on his heels by Sarah Barracada. Bet on it.
Let's talk about experience!

My favorite comment from the WashPost Fix:

Picking a VP mainly because of her gender rather than her credentials is insulting and Americans should see through it .. I hope.
Picking a PRESIDENT because of HIS half-race rather than HIS credentials is INSULTING and Americans should see it through!....ALL HOPE!
Also from Q&O: "The irony impaired Obama campaign has reacted by saying they're surprised that John McCain would pick someone so inexperienced to be a heart-beat away from the presidency."

Friday, August 29, 2008

On Obama's speech

Lately I feel like I've been playing "forever catch-up" on this blog. Really, is there any point commenting on Obama's acceptance speech? Well, I'll give it a shot and keep it brief, or not.

The mawkish gushing of Andrew Sullivan aside, it was essentially his stump speech with some new specifics thrown in. But those specifics were all the nifty things the government is going to do for you. (Government! Is there anything it can't do?) How will Obama pay for universal healthcare, Social Security, paid sick days, whiter teeth, better teachers, and new roads?

"Now, many of these plans will cost money, which is why I've laid out how I'll pay for every dime - by closing corporate loopholes and tax havens that don't help America grow. But I will also go through the federal budget, line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less - because we cannot meet twenty-first century challenges with a twentieth century bureaucracy."
Puh-leeze. The unfunded liabilities of entitlement spending alone is measured in the tens of trillions of dollars. The chimerical savings from closing loopholes or paring the federal budget (a political minefield) would be puny. The Moderate Voice touched on this issue:

Obama talked about tax cuts for 95 percent of Americans and then talked about a bevy of programs. He said that he would get money from closing tax loopholes and making government more efficient. Okay, but you are also going to have to raise taxes on those other five percent quite dramatically if you are going to provide all these government programs.
And soak the rich, Obama will. But Robert Samuelson points out that even that won't satiate the government's appetite for spending:

OK, let's whack the rich. Obama would restore the 36 percent and 39.6 percent income-tax rates for couples with taxable incomes above $200,300 and $357,700. He's suggested higher capital-gains taxes and Social Security taxes for those with incomes exceeding $250,000. Together, these changes might generate about $80 billion of revenue in 2010, says the Tax Policy Center. By contrast, the 2008 budget deficit is reckoned at $389 billion. Even adding a $125 billion saving on the Iraq War-highly optimistic-wouldn't erase the deficit.
David Brooks made a similar observation several months ago:

Both [Obama and Clinton] promised to not raise taxes on those making less than $200,000 or $250,000 a year. They both just emasculated their domestic programs.
Returning the rich to their Clinton-era tax rates will yield, at best, $40 billion a year in revenue. It’s impossible to fund a health care plan, let alone anything else, with that kind of money. The consequences are clear: if elected they will have to break their pledge, and thus destroy their credibility, or run a minimalist administration.
So, really, what's the point of delineating all the new or enhanced government programs in an Obama administration if he can't pay for them? I'm not excusing the profligate spending of the Bush administration. The United States is fast approaching a tipping point where fiscal policy is going to be dictated (pun intended) by Chinese lenders and/or the bank presidents who fund our expanding deficit. We can't afford all this new spending because we've already spent our old money away.

Obama is promising things he can't deliver, because the federal government can't pay and can't borrow much more. Strip that away from his "substantial" speech and, just like the man, there's no there there.

Extra - AJ Strata and Maguire have similar criticisms of Obama's speech.

More - Brothers Judd: "No matter Mr. Obama's reputation for naivete, let's give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that this absurd claim is a function of cynicism rather than a genuine belief that there are hundreds of billions of dollars a year just waiting to fall into his lap by closing a few loopholes."
A good time to invest in teleconferencing stocks - Fox News "As summer ends, flyers brace for airline changes": "Executives acknowledge that despite the economic downturn, fares will rise, discounts currently available will be scarce, and routes and frequencies of flights will be reduced as domestic capacity is cut through the end of the year. The changes starting in September come on top of a litany of new charges - for luggage, drinks, pillows and other amenities - announced by some airlines earlier this year."

I can't foresee any vacations in the future that involve extended driving, much less airline travel. My last vacation was a camping trip in New Jersey. The gas expense and the kennel costs for my geriatric dog were way more than the campsite fee.
Joe Biden = Amtrak. Sarah Palin = sled pulled by polar bears.

She steers with her teeth. Other stuff you didn't know about Sarah Palin:

- We don't know who would win in a Chuck Norris - Sarah Palin cage match because they've never invented a cage that can hold Sarah Palin.

- Global Warming doesn't kill polar bears. Sarah Palin does - usually with her bare hands.

- Sarah Palin paid her way through school by hunting for yeti pelts with a slingshot.

More here.
The anti-Costanza

George Costanza: "It's not you, it's me."

Obama: "But I stand before you tonight because all across America something is stirring. What the nay-sayers don't understand is that this election has never been about me. It's been about you."

I love this little trope of "modesty": by voting for Obama, you empower yourself to change the world, and he'll promise to think about you in the White House. Yes we can!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

No commentary tonight - I have to get up extra-early so I can get out of work before the Labor Day traffic becomes unbearable. Nite!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Bill! I love you so, I always will - Boy, the Democrats in Denver adore the Big Me.

Sorry, though, just saying "Barack Obama is ready" doesn't make it so.
Gridlock forever - Jeff Jacoby tracks the relationship between Congress and the stock market: "Between 1965 and 2007, on days when Congress was in session, the S&P 500 Index posted an annualized gain of 1.6 percent - versus a whopping gain of 17.6 percent when lawmakers were out of town."
Domestic terrorism update

Hey, remember this guy? Boston Globe: "Man gets 33 years for plowing SUV into UNC students"

A former student was sentenced to up to 33 years in prison yesterday for plowing his sport utility vehicle into a crowd at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in a self-professed bid to avenge Muslim deaths overseas.

Mohammed Taheri-Azar, 25, pleaded guilty earlier this month to nine counts of attempted murder for the March 2006 attack at a popular outdoor gathering spot known as The Pit.
During the sentencing hearing, Taheri-Azar declined to make a comment but his sister used the ol' "This is not the brother I know" defense. No dice.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

That's it? - Hillary's "zinger": "No way, no how, no McCain."

Really, Hillary? Aside from that, it's a object lesson in solipsism so far. I me mine my I.

Stuff I didn't know - We "give" windfall profits to the oil companies. I never noticed that deduction on my pay stub.

Well, I have to go to bed but Ann Althouse is live-blogging Hillary's speech. I don't know why they started so late; local affiliates on the East coast are going to cut out for the local news. Nite.

Update - Hillary finished just a second after I posted that. Overall, it was a good speech, and if there were any cracks in the unity facade, I didn't notice them. Effective and rousing.
Somebody page Mario Cuomo - Mark Warner just gave one of the most boilerplate, passionless, forgettable speeches in convention history. As Winston Churchill said of his pudding: "it has no theme."

Update - Ah! Mark Shields on PBS stole my line. He just said something like "it was no Mario Cuomo." For the record, former NY Governor Cuomo was the (unforgettable) keynote speaker at the 1984 DNC.

Extra - Linda Chavez on Contentions: "Mark Warner is doing nothing for Barack Obama - he’s using his slot as keynote speaker to advance his own senatorial ambition. This is the weirdest convention in my memory."

On that note, all the speakers seem so tepid and humorless. Warner had a self-deprecating line about following Hillary Clinton - I think it was a joke - but nobody laughed. I feel like Peter on "Family Guy" watching the Chekhov play "Uncle Vanya": "Somebody throw a pie!"

More - Montana governor Brian Schweitzer is getting some people off their seats now. Lots of smiles and waving signs.

Final word - Andrew Sullivan: "I'm not judging their accomplishments, merely noting that Mark Warner and Bob Casey were terribly mediocre speakers, their speeches unfocused, their themes muddled, and their style close to non-existent."
Not up - Gallup measures the post-Biden bounce: negative 2%.
Quote of the day - It's former Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson: "We should be led by Osama bin Laden," he said, then quickly corrected himself. "I mean Obama and Biden."

To his credit, he saved himself somewhat: "McCain's policies would be "nonsense," he said. "Just like that last statement." Heh. (HT: RCP Blog)
Asked and answered

Politico: "Denver drama: Can Clintons get over it?"

The Hill: "Bill Clinton in Denver again undercuts Obama"

And Hot Air previews Hillary's speech: "Obama who?"

Monday, August 25, 2008

Speeches and funny hats - Smithsonian Magazine: "Parties to history: Four political conventions that changed history"
Always switch cases - Tonight on "Deal or No Deal" the overly-excitable contestant managed to get down to her chosen case and a single case on stage. One held $5000 and the other had the million-dollar prize; she chose "No Deal."

But before they opened the woman's briefcase, Howie offered her to switch her case with the one remaining unopened case. Foolishly, she stuck with her original case. But if she understood the Monty Hall problem, she would have known that her original case had only a one-in-26 chance of having the million dollars while the case on stage had an excellent 24-in-25 probability of having the top prize.

Hard to believe? Nope, simple math.

The final word - Dave at Hedgehog Report: "I hope to some day be in a position in my life where I could turn down a guaranteed $530,000 for at best a 50/50 chance at $1,000,000."
I barely knew that domestic terrorist - Honestly, do you know who knew about Barack Obama's association with radical Bill Ayers? Bloggers. But now the Obama campaign is bringing up Ayers in an attack ad which raises a profile nearly buried by the MSM. Great stuff.

More - Minuteman: "I doubt that soccer moms or anyone else will be thrilled to learn that Obama hung with unapologetic terrorists, talked about school reform, and achieved nothing."
McCain's VP pick prediction - I thought I had another week, but the rumors are that he'll make his choice by the end of this week. So let's go with Charlie Crist of Florida: an executive from a must-win state. I just don't see Romney on the ticket.
He's probably said something about you - I tend to agree with the Professor here: Joe Biden's former praise of John McCain means close to nothing. First of all, Joe Biden talks so much, he's bound to say something about everybody. And, as Dr. T points out, do we really want a Washington where politicians are unable to praise a colleague for fear that it will boomerang back in the future? Most Americans understand this (I hope.)

Extra - David Ignatius, circa 1995: "Listening to Biden, you sense how hungry he is to be president, but you have little idea what he would do, other than talk...and talk." See?
The Socialist was less liberal - National Journal: "Obama most liberal Senator in 2007" His buddy Joe Biden was third and Vermont independent Bernie Sanders was fourth.
The Clintons and their party

"I don't say he's a great man. Willie Loman never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper. He's not the finest character that ever lived. But he's a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid. He's not to be allowed to fall in his grave like an old dog. Attention, attention must finally be paid to such a person."

- Linda Loman,
Death of a Salesman
Well, that didn't take long. Already the Clintons are seething at their scripted roles in Denver, giving Bill no outlet to defend his administration:

This is an especially sore point for Bill Clinton, people close to him say, because among many grievances he has about the campaign Obama waged against his wife is a belief that the candidate poor-mouthed the political and policy successes of his two terms.
Meanwhile, the Obama campaign is complaining that the Hillary "bitter enders" are acting like they still have leverage.

Know why? Because attention must be paid!

Update - The Dems release a joint statement: "No disunity here!"

Extra - Boston Globe opinion "Breaking the cord with the Clintons": "I saw an ad that offered a "free Obama button," and I thought - now there's a slogan: "Free Obama." This week, what Barack Obama must be freed from are the Clintons."

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Heard on NPR this morning

I had no idea that "El Rey del Timbal" Tito Puente saw battle in the navy at Midway and Guadalcanal, studied at Juilliard, and also played the whole range of instruments from piano to clarinet to saxophone.

He even got Oscar the Grouch to dance, although he'll probably be best remembered for his appearance on the Simpsons.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Throw it to the House - How much fun is this? Election Projection is showing a 269-269 electoral vote tie between Hussein Obama and McCain.
Or it might just be the Domino's guy - CNN political ticker: "Activity at the Bidens." Well, I'm sure he's not watching tonight's NASCAR race.

Update - The AP says it's Biden. What a terrible pick. We now have the "all talk" ticket and Americans are going to wonder why the candidate of "change" picked one of the most old-school Senators in Washington.

More - Did I mention he's an arrogant jerk? So he's a good fit for the Obama ticket.
Keep your eyes on the fries - Slate: Best and worst Olympics advertising

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Discuss - Fark survey: You can erase five bands from music history.

My choices: Aerosmith, Black Eyed Peas, Limp Bizkit, Goo Goo Dolls, R.E.M. after "Document."

Honorable (non-band) mention: Tommy Roe, who produced the most excruciating songs ever submitted to recording media. Awful times infinity.
Reality crashes up against theory

One day in my college years, I got my copy of Foreign Affairs (yes, I was a nerd even back then) with the article titled: "Dwindling options in Panama." My roommate and I joked that the burden of reading the article was lifted when the U.S. launched Operation Just Cause only a day or so after the magazine arrived.

I got my new Atlantic magazine yesterday and there was an article with the lead: "Obama and McCain both say they want to usher in a new, less divisive brand of politics."

Yeah, I think I'll skip that one, too.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tyrants don't play well with others - It's a Zimbabwe update in the Wall Street Journal: "Mugabe has no intention of sharing power."
Cats and dogs living together

Or, in which I agree with Big Tent Democrat:

Boy, is John Zogby shameless. He'll massage his numbers anyway he can to get attention. And he does so in his latest Presidential poll.
There's no doubt that Obama's numbers have slipped, but John "Kerry will win!" Zogby is just looking for a headline. Again.
The kinda, sorta, maybe successful Massachusetts health plan

According to the Boston Globe, the Patrick administration is telling everybody that Massachusetts' health care mandate is a big hit:

Nearly three-quarters of previously uninsured Massachusetts residents now have medical coverage under the state's landmark campaign to extend health insurance to virtually all Bay Staters, according to a report released yesterday by Governor Deval Patrick's administration.
Reading on, one suspects it's all a PR effort to pry some more money out of the federal government:

Still, the economics of the ambitious campaign remains uncertain. Massachusetts is locked in delicate negotiations with federal authorities to determine if the state will continue getting billions of dollars in special assistance to help make the experiment work.
There are savings to be made:

For example, from July through September 2007, the most recent period for which data is available, the number of visits to hospitals and community health centers by the uninsured declined by 37 percent, compared with the same period a year earlier, the report said. That drop translated to a $68 million savings in the pool of money the state sets aside to cover the uninsured.
And bills to be paid:

Massachusetts has requested more than $11 billion in federal support during the next three years to pay for dozens of healthcare programs, including its crown jewel, its nearly universal health coverage system. The federal payments, which are crucial to keeping the landmark program afloat, were set to expire June 30, but the state has received four extensions.
Let's review the numbers: the Bay State wants $3.66 billion/year in federal cash (not including the cost to Massachusetts taxpayers) to save - by the latest quarterly estimate - $272 million/year, for a 7.4% return on investment. That's the kind of "success" that only the planner of the Big Dig could love.

Just for kicks, let's put it another way: the Boston Globe article estimated that before the new health care mandate, there were 600,000 uninsured Bay Staters. Splitting up $3.66 billion/year among them is a fat check for $6100.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A quickie because I had class tonight (for once!) - From the Boston Globe, here's a photogallery of your favorite snubbed TV shows: Emmy shame edition. Donald Faison and "Friday Night Lights" are well-represented.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Pack up and get out! - Associated Press "California Dems kick rep out of Capitol for disloyalty": "A Democrat in the California legislature has been kicked out of her Capitol office for not supporting the party's state budget proposal."
Time to earn my punditry creds - The word on the street is that Barack Obama is about to pick his vice president.

Here's the official Viking Pundit prediction: Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island.

Reasons: As a former Army Ranger and member of the Armed Services Committee, he brings national security credentials. He brings age balance, geographical balance, and (importantly) he won't overshadow Obama. He's a relatively new face (elected in 1996) so he fits in with Obama's message of "change."

The oracle has spoken.

Extra - Right Wing News has the VP rundown but my choice isn't on there. So I'm probably spot on! Stay tuned.

More - Evan Bayh? Free Republic finds a scrubbed CNN story of an Obama aide who "accidentally" revealed Obama's pick. Disinformation or real? You make the call.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Oil's Manhattan Project - Via Blue Crab Boulevard comes this story of Shell engineers who achieved a 65% recovery rate from oil shale. Colorado could be the next Texas.
What media bias? - The WashPost ombuds-person: "Democrat Barack Obama has had about a 3 to 1 advantage over Republican John McCain in Post Page 1 stories since Obama became his party's presumptive nominee June 4. Obama has generated a lot of news by being the first African American nominee, and he is less well known than McCain -- and therefore there's more to report on. But the disparity is so wide that it doesn't look good."
Michael Phelps' dad - He's kinda estranged from his famous son, but cheering for him from Baltimore.
Obama's glibness at Saddleback

It sounds like I missed a good debate/Q&A session while I was camping. In my mind, this response from Obama on the abortion question reveals everything you need to know about the not-yet President:

"Whether you are looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade."
Bulldog Pundit and many others have stated the obvious: there's nothing above the "pay grade" of President of the United States. But, more seriously, Obama's response revealed a lack of preparation that borders on insouciance for the political process. Did his staff really allow him to go into this debate without preparing for the abortion question? Or did he decide to just wing it?

...after all, how would he have possibly known a question about abortion and the moment of conception would come up at an evangelical leader's faith-based joint appearance?
I'm loathe to use the word "presumptive" but can Obama really be serious when he hints that Clarence Thomas was unqualified for the Supreme Court? Victor Davis Hanson explains the depths of Obama's self-regard:

In tonight’s Rick Warren interview, I don’t know why Obama chooses to insult a Supreme Court Justice at a religious forum, but his comments that Justice Thomas was not qualified to be on the Court were revealing. Why would Obama think, given his own credentials, that he was better qualified for President than Clarence Thomas was for the Supreme Court?
Yes, Thomas was a federal judge, but he was short on "changyness" and "hope-litude." Finally, Jennifer Rubin writes that if this is a warm-up for the Presidential debates, Americans may prefer the paternal professionalism of McCain to the flashy motivational speaker:

What the event suggests is also something much more fundamental and more troublesome for Obama. Of all the opponents he could possibly have drawn, McCain is probably the most difficult for him to handle. Obama’s lack of experience, his glibness, his absence of depth and personal gravitas might not be as noticeable against another type of candidate. These deficits are glaring, shocking almost when McCain is the opponent, in a way they were not against Hillary Clinton and might not have been against one of the other GOP contenders. A side-by-side comparison leaves Obama seeming lighter than air. It will be hard to disguise that from the voters.

And this suggestion is dead on: McCain doesn’t need to wow the crowds; he only needs to remind them that he possesses a seriousness of purpose and depth of experience his opponent does not.
So far, so good.

Extra - In "How McCain won Saddleback" Byron York cuts Obama some slack: "Obama had nothing to win on the question; if anything, he seemed wary of saying something that might anger his pro-choice base." Well, I didn't see the video but it sure sounds like a cop out to me.
Litigation nation

Well, I just got back from camping in New Jersey. The campground we've been visiting for the past three years has a new policy: no bicycles. They've been operating since 1954 with no problems but last year there were two claims made and the insurance company told the campground to get rid of the bikes. In addition, a whole range of activities have new restrictions such that (for example) my kid can't go feed animals at the farm without an adult present. Or play billards. Or rent sports equipment.

The place had a lifelessness without kids biking around. Plus, I noticed quite a few of the seasonal campers (those who leave their RVs at the campground all summer) had packed up, leaving empty spaces. It's a shame.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Weekend hiatus - Be back Sunday night. Thanks for visiting!
Mary Lou Retton is cute - Photoessay: "Greatest U.S. Summer Olympians"
Innumeracy at the Times - Do you know what's the problem with newspapers? They're full of newspaper people who got into journalism because they couldn't do simple math.
Looking for cover

Forbes: "America the Old"

By 2042, America will be much older and more diverse, and Social Security will be broke.

Those are the big lessons from new U.S. Census Bureau projections of the country's future population, released today. The data reminds us that demographics aren't in Social Security's favor, and big changes are needed to help today's young workers retire in 2050. Too bad that beyond promised "bipartisanship" from the presidential campaigns--a truly daring pledge--there's barely a plan in place from either camp to fix it.
Both political parties are looking for cover in the form of a Ronald Reagan-Tip O'Neill deal so that everybody can share the blame. The main problem is that every year that slips by without reform means that more drastic measures will need to be taken down the road. As the stakes grow larger, the opportunity for gamesmanship will prove irresistible on both sides.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Covered in welts - I played paintball today and now I feel like I've been beat up by a bunch of Teamsters wielding Wiffle ball bats. This was an outing coordinated by my church, so I really shouldn't have yelled "Jesus!" when I got hit in the shoulder.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Does anybody remember democracy?

Bob Herbert and John Kerry say that offshore drilling is useless.

The Washington Post editorial board insists it is part of a long-term energy policy.

I have a crazy idea: why doesn't Congress propose legislation to allow drilling, debate the issue, maybe take a poll of the citizens, and then vote.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Smoke more: the government needs the cash - From the "can't possibly be true" file: "The Maryland pols are so afraid [people are buying cigarettes in Virginia] that they've made it a crime for residents to carry two packs of cigarettes that weren't purchased in the state." Good luck enforcing that, Maryland.

I'm hot on your tail, Bandit, and your two packs of Marlboros!
Move along, nothing to see here, pay your taxes

I love the "hey, it could be worse!" tone of today's Boston Globe editorial "Taxachusetts no more." There's a middling chance that fed-up Bay State voters will repeal the state income tax in a ballot question this November. The Globe thinks it's a rotten idea.

Not to worry, Boston Globe, everybody knows we don't really live in a democracy here:

An initiative petition is intended to be binding if it passes, but the Legislature has found ways to buck the will of the people in the past. In 2002, lawmakers halted a gradual income tax rollback approved by voters two years earlier, prompting howls that they were bucking an edict from the populace. And though voters passed a ballot question in 1998 that called for publicly funded campaigns, the Legislature famously refused to pay for them.
Citizens trying to set public policy? Go back to England, Puritan!
Find the time - Advice from novelist Allegra Goodman in the Boston Globe: "So, you want to be a writer? Here's how."

My favorite quote about writing is from Gene Fowler: "Writing is easy; all you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead." (Lifted from this excellent writing guide from my English major days.)
Stop in the name of light - This semi-serious/semi-humorous article "5 scientific theories that will make your head explode" omitted one recent head-shaker. From Harvard: "Researchers now able to stop, restart light." Take that, laws of physics!
What media bias?

OK, I swore I wasn't going to write about John Edwards, but Stephen Green has a great post over at Pajamas Media on our bete noire, the New York Times:

It's understandable when Democrats want to sweep the story under the rug - Mickey Kaus valiantly excepted - but isn't the MSM in the business of providing news in exchange for money? Not at the New York Times, they aren't. NYT "Public editor" Clark Hoyt freely admits that his paper "never made a serious effort to investigate the story." Hoyt goes on to say that he doesn't think that "liberal bias had anything to do with it." However, in the very same column he admits that the Times freely reported totally unsubstantiated rumors about an affair involving John McCain. If you treat a Republican one way and a Democrat another and it isn't liberal bias - then what is it? A Sulzberger family suicide pact?
It's surely a sign of mass dementia that many on the Left are convinced the media is in the bag for John McCain. As if.

Extra - From three weeks ago, but still relevant: "Belief Growing That Reporters are Trying to Help Obama Win"
Nuf said - Krugman's wrong.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The emasculated Swedes - Dr. Helen: "Where have all the Vikings gone?"
Ignoring the elephant in the room - The Boston Globe has an editorial today lamenting that rising oil prices will put a squeeze on people who use heating oil this winter. Their proposed solutions: Massachusetts government subsidies, federal government subsidies, and a federal program to update oil burners.

That's it? There are no other conceivable options? If the Globe wanted to be honest about heating oil shortages, it would at least address the supply issue. Apparently that option is completely off the table.
Beijing Olympics - Simply stunning. The 2008 drummers, the unrolling scroll, the torch lighting, Yao Ming, a visual experience for the ages. Wow, the Chinese really outdid themselves for the opening ceremony. Bravo!

Extra - Cool pics from Maggie's Farm.
Backward transfer - Scrivener: "What would FDR think of today's Social Security?"

Friday, August 08, 2008

So that's why John Edwards needs two Americas

One for his wife and one for his girlfriend. Matt Welch found an old Edwards' tut-tutting over Bill Clinton:

"I think this President has shown a remarkable disrespect for his office, for the moral dimensions of leadership, for his friends, for his wife, for his precious daughter. It is breathtaking to me the level to which that disrespect has risen."
John Edwards probably won't be invited to Denver.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Great Escaper

Via the Corner, the Times UK notes the passing of Great Escape tunneller Eric Dowling: "Eric "Digger" Dowling, who forged passports, made maps and helped to dig the one tunnel that the Germans did not discover before the Great Escape from Stalag Luft III, has died, aged 92."

Of course, this gives me an opportunity to cite one of my all-time favorite trivia questions: What became of the motorcycle that Steve McQueen used in that famous chase scene?

Answer: It became Fonzie's original bike on "Happy Days." Ayyyyy!!

Here are a couple of stories that caught my attention but I never got around to posting.

WSJ - "Boston Tax Party": "Massachusetts is about the last place one would expect a tax revolt, but that's what's brewing in Beantown. The state board of elections recently certified that citizen activists have gathered the 125,000 signatures required to qualify an initiative for the November ballot to eliminate the state income tax."

A book review of "Ahead of the Curve" about Harvard Business School: "He [the author] hasn't found a suitable job yet, though, and readers will be happy to see that he retains a hint of skepticism about the whole HBS enterprise -- enough, at least, to include this wonderful bit of data from a study by a banking analyst who tried to track the American equity markets in relation to the number of HBS graduates who chose to go to work in finance each year. If the figure was less than 10%, the market went up not long after. More than 30% and the market was headed for a crash. In 2006, Mr. Delves Broughton reports, 42% of the HBS grads went to work in finance. Right on schedule."

Instapundit - Plug-in hybrids gotta get their power from somewhere.

The Washington Post calls Obama's windfall profit tax and opening up the Strategic Petroleum Reserve "gimmicks."

Political unrest in Pakistan means somebody better secure the nukes.

Karl Rove's advice to John McCain: use the term "Where's the beef?" Most Obama supporters won't get the reference, I think.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

We're broke (Bonus "Mad magazine" reference within)

GMTA again as the Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby excoriates both Presidential candidates for ignoring the looming entitlement crisis:

This is the year that the first of nearly 80 million baby boomers become eligible for Social Security payments; within three years, they will begin drawing Medicare benefits as well. Those two programs alone already account for one-third of the federal budget - 42 percent if you add Medicaid, which is also focused largely on the elderly. But in the years ahead, their costs will explode. If nothing changes, the Concord Coalition warns, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and interest on the national debt will consume every penny of federal revenues in less than 20 years.

Clearly, things will change. They have to. Either taxes will be hiked to unprecedented levels, or spending - especially on entitlement programs - must be forcefully reined in. There is no other alternative short of continuing to run up the national debt, thereby loading our children with an unconscionable financial burden.

But where is the presidential candidate who will talk honestly about this? McCain insists he will balance the budget and "provide the courageous leadership necessary to control spending." Yet his economic plan is devoid of details, offering little more than windy promises to "stop earmarks, pork-barrel spending, and waste" and freeze nondefense discretionary spending for a year while spending programs are reviewed.

Obama won't even go that far. His campaign touts a "Plan for Restoring Fiscal Discipline" that is as vague as McCain's, but he rules out balancing the budget - "because," he told reporters last month, "I think it is important for us to make some critical investments right now in America's families." The National Taxpayers Union Foundation, tallying the promises made by the presidential candidates, calculates that Obama 's "investments" would cost taxpayers another $344 billion a year. McCain's add up to an extra $68.5 billion.

We are awash in a sea of red ink, and the tide is coming in. Alfred E. Neuman isn't worried. Are Obama and McCain?
As Bizzy Blog points out in this meticulously-researched post, the strains of entitlement spending will start to show in only two years when the surplus going into the Social Security Trust Fund starts to shrink: "In 2010 (perhaps 2009, if the economy slips into recession), that subsidy to the rest of the government will get smaller with each successive year. Every year in which the subsidy decreases will be a year with three stark choices: cut spending, raise taxes, or issue more debt."

That's why it's silly for either Presidential candidate to talk about new spending proposals. Sooner than you think, the government will have to honor the $9+ trillion dollar debt sitting in the Social Security Trust Fund. New federal college loans? We'll be lucky if we can avoid selling Alaska back to the Russians.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Rule #1 of a heist: get a driver - UK Telegraph: "Jewel gang foiled as shoppers take getaway car keys" (HT: Fark). I think this was the plot and/or lesson of "Snatch."
This always happens when you have six dozen eggs in your trunk - Gateway Pundit got caught up in a pretty serious car accident today, but it looks like he's OK.
Fixing Social Security - US News & World Report: "The American Academy of Actuaries says it's time to raise the retirement age again to keep up with ever increasing life expectancies."
Spend, spend, and no tax (!) in Massachusetts

Boston Globe "Patrick signs $3b bill to fix bridges":

The condition of roads and bridges has been a perennial problem in Massachusetts, which has one of the oldest transportation infrastructures in the nation, with 200 bridges that were built in the 19th century. In addition, payments for the Big Dig have sucked maintenance and repair money away from repair programs.
Of course, it's easy to spend money. Will Deval Patrick have the fortitude to take the Globe's advice and "Veto this pension ploy"?

The expensive cost-of-living increase in public employee pensions passed in the waning hours of this legislative session is even more fiscally irresponsible than it first seems. Although most state workers and teachers are not eligible for Social Security and deserve pensions that sustain them in their retirement, the Legislature's proposal is just too expensive for the state to afford. Governor Patrick should veto the legislation and take another look at a possible adjustment next year.
If Governor Patrick can't hold the line on Massachusetts' out-of-control pensions, he should prepare for a tax revolt.
Doomed from the start

Maggie's Farm has "Why Obama cannot win the election": "The point is that Obama is not a man - he's a boy. He's an Icarus who bought his own hype."

George Will has been making the rounds and taking note that in 1980 Ronald Reagan needed to present himself as an "acceptable alternative" to Jimmy Carter. According to Will, the turning point was the final Presidential debate only a week before the election when Carter's small lead in the polls vanished. It's hard to believe that Reagan - governor of the largest state in the Union - needed to pass some minimum threshold for executive office.

Well, Obama is no Reagan. To quote George Will once again, he has the thinnest resume of any major party nominee since Wendell Willkie, and a long line of non-achievements. Of course I'm biased, but I doubt Obama can convince America he's ready for the Oval Office. After three more months of airy "this is your moment" platitudes, dive-to-the-middle policy shifts and empty rhetoric, Obama's act isn't going to play in Peoria anymore.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Abandon all hope, Obamaniacs - First Rasmussen and now Zogby show John McCain with the lead. Bwahahaha!

More - And there goes Florida. That means Election Projection: time to recalculate!
Candy everybody wants

I'm currently reading a book on the journey of petroleum from the oil fields to the gas pump and one stop on the tour was the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The author observes that SPR has become a "highly politicized tool" and there have been only a handful of releases over the past decade: President Clinton tapped the reserve in 2000 during a heating oil crunch, the first President Bush released oil when prices spiked at the start of the Gulf War, and Dubya released 12 million barrels immediately after Hurricane Katrina.

The SPR was started in the mid-seventies after the 1973 oil shock made it clear that the U.S. needed a hedge against large-scale supply disruptions as well as a minimum supply in case of war or some other calamity. As the examples above indicate, Presidents have used very small releases from the 700 million barrel reserve to tamp down prices. The author writes: "When the reserve released a comparatively puny 17 million barrels of oil in January 1991, for the first Gulf War, prices fell from $27 a barrel to $21."

So we have war, a hurricane, and people freezing in the winter. Now the once-responsible Barack Obama has flipped his position on tapping into the SPR and called for a release of 70 million barrels. Why so much and why now? There's been no national calamity (except for a complete disregard for the supply side of the oil equation) and no sudden spike to justify such a large release from the SPR. Quite to the contrary, we've watched as oil prices have drifted skyward while Washington dithers, then skips town.

But gas prices are high and Americans don't like it. So instead of proposing legislation or real answers, Obama panders to this dissatisfaction and offers the easy answer: let's just take some from that big pile. I can't imagine a ploy more cynical than if he just offered to send every American a big check from money seized by those evil oil companies.

Oops, too late.

Extra - I was incorrect to characterize Obama's change in position on SPR as a "flip-flop." As Gateway Pundit notes, it was "a redefining of a previous inartful position."
That's hot! - The Corner on America's favorite socialite in political discourse: "We will now wait for liberals to explain the political etiquette of Paris Hilton references: Okay when Obama uses them to condemn tax cuts, but not okay when anybody else uses them to criticize Obama."

Extra - Newsbusters: "McCain not the first to compare Obama to Paris Hilton"
The Frier Club? - Tim Blair discovers the National Federation of Fish Friers. Everybody's gotta belong somewhere.
The consequences of a no-drill energy policy

Boston Globe: "A grim forecast for heating costs": "Massachusetts residents who heat their homes with natural gas or oil could end up paying nearly $1 billion more this year than they did in 2007, about a 30 percent increase, according to a University of Massachusetts report set to be released today."

If only there was some way to increase the supply of oil here in America. Oh well! Time for August recess.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

The first and last times these three words have been put together - "Sumerian fart joke."

But let's give a silver medal to: "Castro hates Edmonton."
A historic opening for Saudi women

Good news and (hopefully) a chance for further freedom in Saudi Arabia. From the Boston Globe: "Saudi students pave way in quest for women's rights"

Saudi women were barred from diplomatic careers, and until recently could not even study international relations or political science at Saudi universities. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs opened jobs to women in 2005, but few landed coveted foreign policy positions.

That could soon change because of a unique partnership launched this year by The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and Dar Al-Hekma College, the first private college for women in Saudi Arabia. This week, 13 Saudi women completed a crash course in international diplomacy, blazing a brazen path for the future of their country, where women still can't drive or vote - nor, in many cases, travel, work, or see a doctor without permission from a male guardian.
As it stands, the Saudis may have the smartest housewives in the world:

Baghdadi pulled up pie charts on her laptop computer of government statistics showing that women make up a higher percentage of college graduates. Although women make up 56.5 percent of college graduates, they account for only 14 percent of the workforce.
Why am I suddenly thinking of "Laverne and Shirley"? Huh.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Even a cat has only nine lives

Fox News sez Zawahiri may be dead again:

Al Qaeda’s second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, may be injured or even dead, according to a CBS News report based on an intercepted letter that urgently requests a doctor to treat Zawahiri.
To be fair, the first place I saw this rumor/development was the Jawa Report. Strange that all this would occur only a day after the anthrax guy offed himself.
Microsoft does it again - Tonight I downloaded some huge new patch for my XP. Of course, when I fired up MSN, there were pages that would not load, including my own blog. Great job, guys. Now I have to update through the superior Firefox platform which, come to think of it, isn't so bad.

Update - I was forced to download IE7 to get my MSN browser to work right but I've noticed certain features have disappeared (such as SiteMeter). Meanwhile, Firefox works flawlessly. This is exactly the reason why I've avoided getting a new computer: I don't want MS Vista. By the same token, Windows XP is now so laden with security measures that it's got all the nimbleness of a supertanker. I would get a Mac if I had 2-large. Which I don't.

Update again - It looks like I'm not the only one with problems. My Sitemeter button has disappeared on IE7 (but not Firefox) and the word on the street is that something in the code is causing IE7 to go haywire. Whatever.