January 31, 2006
Jeff Goldstein shows that Islamic fundamentalists have no possible response to this free-market discovery: "Smart Balance Spread has introduced a new microwave popping corn with NO trans-fats and NO hydrogenated oils -- and an Omega 3 blend that may in fact REDUCE cholesterol "
Which is sad, because this IS a delicious, buttery-tasting popcorn that literally cleans your arteries while you enjoy its tasty crunchy cornbuttery goodness we’re talking about—versus, like, mandatory prayer, sand, and chicks rolled in burlap like scratching posts. So, y’know—you might not wanna put all your eggs in that “rebuilding the Caliphate” basket just yet, holy warriors.
China, Google, Democracy
I was going to link to this TCS article from James V. DeLong because he echoes several of my themes. And I have been badly outnumbered in the blogosphere of late.
And given this Chinese view, what should Google do? Google should do what Google does, which is search engines. Google is not a Chinese leader, and it is not the role or duty of Google to tell China how to rule itself, or to tell the Chinese leader dedicated to the betterment of the people how to act, even when what the Chinese government does goes against the grain of American views of free speech.
Perhaps more interesting are his projections of anti-democratic forces. If I read him right, he is suggesting that China might be more free than the US in a half century or so. Looking for democracies for China to model itself after, DeLong predicts that Europe will NOT be democratic in fifty years -- and he's not too sanguine about the States:
From an economic point of view, the whole U.S. is turning into a massive anti-commons, where everyone has veto power over every form of productive investment. It has shut down much of its manufacturing and extractive industries. A good symbol is that is a nation with an energy crisis that cannot even find a spot to build a refinery or an LNG terminal. It is now turning on even such innocuous industries as Wal-Mart, for heaven's sake!
He suggests that China is correct to "Focus on perestroika above glasnost." To add freedoms without devolving into mob rule. To establish rule of law before democracy.
It is NOT a Sharansky-esque philosophy and as such it falls roughly on my ears. But it is a serious pro-freedom view that answers the concerns of Fareed Zakaria and others who believe in freedom and self-rule while fearing their possible consequences.
The nearly year long odessey of endless Supreme Court yammering is over.
Justice Alito is now the 110th Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
I for one eagerly await the continued strip searches of 8 year old girls, the addition of boys to the list, coathanger abortions and warrantless phone tapping.
Let's throw in checking my library withdrawls too.
Who appreciates capatalism?
The Wall Street Journal Ed Page (paid link, sorry!) quotes an interesting survey and concludes "No wonder Mao isn't smiling."
In a poll conducted for the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes between June and August last year, fully 74% of Chinese citizens said they agreed with the statement "the free enterprise system and free market economy is the best system on which to base the future of the world." The Philippines, at 73%, and the U.S., at 71%, were second and third. The poll, which surveyed 20,791 people in 20 countries, seems like a pretty good snapshot of current sentiment, as such things go.
I cannot help but feel that China is headed in the right direction with attitudes like this. Personal liberty will follow economic liberty.
The Eurosclerocis is indeed disturbing. With India and China advancing, most countries will now be able to ignore Europe as a major market and allow it to fade away into a dystopia with elderly Europeans and unassimilated Muslims.
January 30, 2006
Joining the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the People's Republic of Philadelphia will be receiving oil from Venezuela courtesy of Hugo Chavez.
Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-Philly) was a part of the negotiations.
The program, which the Congressman brokered with CITGO and Citizens Energy Corp. of Boston as partners, will be available to residents who have exhausted their benefit under the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program for this heating season.
The government of Venezuela, which owns CITGO through its national oil company, will make 5 million gallons of heating oil available for 60 percent of the retail price. Up to 200 gallons of oil will be available to each eligible resident.
“We have developed an extraordinary partnership involving the public sector, the private sector and the nonprofit sector,” said Congressman Fattah. “It will produce real help in the depths of the winter heating season for tens of thousands of people in Philadelphia and the nearby counties.”
The public sector involves the Congressman’s office and the government of Venezuela, which has provided the oil through CITGO, a century-old U.S. petroleum company owned by the Venezuelan state oil company, PDVSA.
Actually it's not Philadelphia, but also the surrounding counties. Not that that really changes the deal.
Though I'm sure there are homes in Philadelphia that are oil heated, I thought the vast majority were heated with natural gas, courtesy of the city owned Philadelphia Gas Works.
And an obligatory link to the left.
...How about when leaders of other Countries start sending places like Philadlphia foreign aid, in the form of oil to heat the homes of poor people?
Imagine a President forcing a company to give their product away at a steep discount.
A taste of the comments.
How much of Chavez's actions are more a stick in the eye to Bush and Americans vs being humanitarian?
The Recreation Crisis
John Merline at TCS has a contrarian view of the soi disant health care crisis. He posits that a 362% increase in health care expenditures is not a sign of runaway costs as much as it is a sign of a wealthy populace choosing to devote its discretionary income toward quality of life. Look at all these crises (Spending increase, 1984 to 2004, courtesy of the Bureau of Economic Analysis);
He admits that third-party payer arrangements have impeded market forces, and he fails to admit that more expensive health care is less avoidable than more expensive recreation. But it is incontestable that the bulk of the increase is truly just the choices of a wealthy nation. Hardly a crisis.
It appears that it has been almost three years since I linked to an article from Walter Russell Mead. A self-described Democrat, Yalie, and college professor whom I truly admire.
This week, he writes in the Weekly Standard (free link) about Ice Cream and Spinach. Political parties have to offer some amount of good for you but less fun "Spinach," to accomplish long term goals, but to get elected, they must combine it with "ice cream" that voters want now. Mead suggests that the current GOP is providing large doses of wartime spinach, and he suggests some ice cream for the Republicans. Each is, in his estimation. conservative in principle.
The first is one of Silence's favorites: telecommuting/telecom infrastructure.
For New Yorkers, transit strikes aren't the only hazard. Since 9/11 we have lived in a city that knows what catastrophe is. Last summer's terror attacks on the London transit system reminded us that even attacks on a much smaller scale can paralyze a major metropolitan area.
I am a telecommuter myself and a believer. Hours of commuting time every week are now under my control, I will save big money not replacing the granolamobile, I use very little gas, and I feel secure that I will be able to work even as my MS gets worse, and I am around as my wife gets better after her stroke.
I don't want to be stingy sharing these benefits with my fellow Americans, but I don't know why Federal involvement is necessary. My company saves office space and depreciation on furniture, and gets me at a lower salary than some previous positions because the arrangement is favorable to me. Infrastructure? I have my choice of DSL or cable internet (I have Comcast(r)) and my company has Juniper Networks's SSL VPN (very cool!).
Silence and Johngalt used to work at this place and know it's not a spendthrift organization -- yet all of this is in place without government assistance.
His second idea is a very conservative reduction in paperwork and transaction viscosity in real estate transactions. No argument there.
His third is the least conservative. He wants the government to enter the education business and provide certifications to compete with private colleges. This is conservative in a Charlotte Simmons, down-with-Ward-Churchill way, but reeks of nationalizing higher education to me.
His basic point is valid. Americans are forced to endure wartime sacrifices and cede powers to the executive. Tax reform is off the table, tax cuts are unlikely. The President needs to have a little butter brickle in the SOTU tomorrow night.
Speechwriting web pages are usually pretty lame.
Tip to smedley log
I'm not a big fan of polling. But it's always an easy news story and generally blog fodder.
The President earns approval from 82% of Republicans, 25% of Democrats, and 41% of those not affiliated with either major political party.
He's actually up for the month.
I heard this last night radio news.
The line? "Bush prepares for State of the Union, as polls show his approval rating down 12 points from a year ago."
January 29, 2006
Going too Far
Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy, whose agency switched to "Smurf Blue" silhouette targets from black ones two years ago, said: "Nowadays, you can never be too sensitive."
You have got to be kidding me.
I expect some sort of a backlash from the Smurf-American community now.
The Government You Deserve
There's an old saying that you get the government you deserve. It sounds like there's some buyers' remorse in the formerly "occupied" areas of the nascent Palistinean nation.
As one goes, all police stations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have been ordered shut because all complaints must now be filed directly to God.
Invoking God and Islamic tradition is the mainstay of all the quips that have been spreading by word of mouth and mobile phone text messages in the past few days.
Until elections Wednesday, Hamas' goal of installing an Islamic state in the West Bank, Gaza — and Israel — was held in check by the ruling Fatah, which had no religious program.
For what it's worth, I don't understand how this new nation is going to run. Is it really a nation?
Where is their capital?
What is their currency?
Outside of victimhood, is there some sort of unique culture?
I would expect that the United States cuts off it's funding of the PA's government. Since we pay 25% of the UN's budget as well, I would expect that some of that would be cut. Can we expect the same from the EU?
Additionally, I would posit that the change in government is just going to result in continued status quo. There will still be suicide bombers. There will still be hemming and hawwing about the situation. Someone will skim all the money off the top and get rich while the regular people will continue to live in squalor. Yes, Fatah was inept at running the "country," and that won't change overnight.
"Tiananmen Square" in a free country...
"Tiananmen Square" in an oppressed one.
Market Cap: 128.12B
Discuss Among Yourselves.
A comedy this week. Any political overtones were way too subtle for me.
But I really enjoyed "The Man" with Eugene Levy and Samuel L. Jackson. You know the script: two opposites are drawn together by chance in a cop "buddy" picture and hilarity ensues. Yet this one is well done and you must confess -- you can't get much more opposite than these two.
A good rental, jk gives it pi stars.
Posted by John Kranz at 7:43 PM
More Google Flogging
"Falun Gong" at the American Google.
"Falun Gong" at the Red Chinese Google.
Discuss amongst yourselves.
Iconoclast? Or complete Git?
Forty-five entries in Pajamas Media's China Syndrome as I write this. That's 42 admonitions to Google, calls for boycotts, divestiture and general net opprobrium -- and three suggestion for ways to circumvent censorship.
I'm not nearly cool or popular enough for PJM, but I wish one person would take up my mantel. I do realize that I may disagree with every one in the world because I am wrong, but I still think they are missing several things.
1) As mentioned too many times by me before, Google as a corporation has a fiduciary responsibility to its shareholders. Having ZERO presence in the fastest growing market in the world is not an option.
2) More information will be better to Chinese Internet users than less information.
3) The comparisons between rejecting government calls for porn queries and its Chinese policy is specious. Acceding to government inquiries could reduce profits (shareholder value again) and whether you agree or not, it seems easy to imagine serious opposition to the DoJ request. The Chinese fiat (small f, not a car) is a positive to valuation. The comparison only serves those who use it to flog Google.
The last guy. I'll turn out the lights when I leave.
Happy Valentine's Day
January 28, 2006
As threatrened, I played around with a redesign of the blog.
January 27, 2006
I am guilty of derisively dismissing a lot of boomer liberals as being stuck in the 60's. It is particularly easy living in Boulder County.
Arnold Kling suggests that many of today's leftists are stick in the Conventional Wisdom of 1968, which he defines as:
His great article shows that these were decent assumptions before Woodstock but that, since that time, we have seen empirical evidence to contradict all of these. Yet, these beliefs seem rather fixed in a lot of people I encounter.
I thought that I was the only guy on the Internet who did not want to do shock & awe on Google headquarters. I may be, but VodkaPundit has some comments that bolster my case. Stephen Green points out that they are ultimately hurting their own competitiveness.
In a high-tech economy, the free flow of information defines how competitive a people can be. Less freedom, lower competitiveness. There's more to it than that, however. More information means less opacity, and that means more corruption. This, in turn again, means lower competitiveness.
That's his point. Mine is still that this company is justifying a 50 multiple to its shareholders. If you pay $40,000 for 100 shared of GOOG, you are probably not too keen on their missing an in on the fastest growing market in the world. Just a thought.
Chinese New Year
I'm a frequent flier, and have been in some cramped conditions... but this has never crossed my mind.
The problem arises from the need to sell twice as many tickets as there are train seats. Those without seats must find some place -- any place -- to put themselves, including in toilets.
I'm not understanding why there's a need to sell 2X the seats.
Here's a question: Will the Google News's Chinese version report on this news? Depends, I guess.
January 26, 2006
Drudge and CNN both are flashing that former Presidential candidate Senator John Kerry is going to initiate a filibuster.
A link off of Google News confirms it.
. . . of the SCOTUS nomination of Alito. His office is rounding up support now.
I have confirmed this with John Kerry's office staff.
With Senator Byrd going for Alito, I believe the number of Senators for Alito stands at 54. Certainly filibusterable.
What remains to be seen is how the Gang of 14 will act.
By filibustering Alito, Kerry is definately pandering for the angry left vote.
Not Just for SPAM anymore
Virginia Postrel and I know Bayesian filters for their implementations in SPAM avoidance. She links to an article that discusses its promise in clinical trials.
Not many ideas of 18th-century Presbyterian ministers attract the interest of the pharmaceutical industry. But the works of Rev. Thomas Bayes have improved greatly with age. The paper that made his name was published in 1763 (two years after his death), where he proposed a method to decide the likelihood of an event while taking into account one's prior knowledge of what might occur. This idea bounced around through the mathematical literature for the next century or two, but it fell out of favor in the 1930s with the advent of the statistical methods that have been used ever since. For decades, no one heard very much about Bayesian statistics at all. One reason for this was they're much more computationally demanding, which was a real handicap until fairly recently.
I'm a math guy but not a stats guy ay all. I will try to find some rudimentary documentation on this as it has really caught my eye. The current methods in trials are broken, and cannot keep up with subtle interactions. Placebo trials are flat out irresponsible in chronic or terminal illnesses, yet the FDA still demand them.
Hat-tip: Don’t call her “Ginny…”
Byrd to Vote Yea
My brother-in-law just called with the news that WV Senator Robert Byrd will vote to confirm Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. He decried the politicization of the confirmation process and said that it should be about integrity and qualifications.
I hate to spoil the moment, but he will be facing reelection this year in a state that is getting redder by the minute. There may be some politics, but there is more honor. His history in the august body paid off here. Bravo Senator Byrd!
New Sheriff in Town
President Bush reminded Ford & GM that President Carter is writing poetry, building houses and comforting tyrants -- and that he will not be as quick to bail either firm out as our 39thpresident did for Chrysler. "I have been very reluctant -- I'm mindful of the past where at one point in time, a predecessor of mine was faced with that same dilemma," he said. "I would hope I wouldn't be asked to make that decision."
This from a WSJ (News Page) report of an Oval office interview, where the president was cool to the idea of intervention.
Asked if the government should take any pre-emptive action, he said: "I think it's very important for the market to function." He suggested he felt optimistic about the companies' prospects.
This blog has been rough on the GOP of late. I take this and the recent nominations of Chief Justice Roberts and presumptive-Associate Justice Alito as signs that we voted for the right guys (all but Silence anyway...).
Rather than shovel money at the failed business models of the two firms, this president will use their difficulties as a springboard to push market-based reforms of health care. Life is good.
January 25, 2006
Ian at Banana Oil is closer to Chinese Google than I am, but he wonders whether anybody at the hypervalued company has read Sun Tzu:
Abject surrender is not the way to foster cultural change for the better.
I join the blogosphere in disappointment, but I cannot work up the high dudgeon. I wish Google had given the ChiComs a lecture; I wish Microsoft had told the EU to fuggedabout it instead of phony gestures such as hobbled versions and limited source distribution.
But both Google and Microsoft have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders that must supersede a company's desire to change the world. I'd say the same to Ben & Jerry.
In the case of China, I have to think the more information the merrier. The more people on even a bowdlerized Internet, the better chance that the benefits of freedom -- if not Falun Gong movements -- will be understood.
Firefly Season 2
Scandal Rocks DC
Christopher Orr at TNR bemoans the loss of what he calls the B+ movie; you know, a decent film that does not aspire to blockbuster status. I've always sensed this. I'm not a film buff in any sense of the word, but I saw Burt Lancaster in "Come Back Little Sheba" and thought how that movie could never ever be made today. It has a literary feel, solid acting from Lancaster and Shirley Booth, (spoiler!) and an unsettling and unhappy ending. Orr:
There was a time when Hollywood excelled at producing such solid but unexceptional fare--Westerns are the classic example--but no longer. These days, almost every movie needs to have a special hook, a tease, something that will make it new and different and (in theory) better. No one wants a base hit; it's all about swinging for the bleachers.
He answers his own question at the end of the piece. These "films" have gone to the small screen. He uses the example of the "Law & Order" franchise. I've always thought most Buffy/Angel/Firefly episodes to be small films more than TV shows. With the DVD distribution and syndication, the business models have likely blurred.
Posted by John Kranz at 1:35 PM
Jay Leno Again
It is pretty much the apogee of lazy-ass blogging to paste in Jay Leno routines two weeks in a row, but there are some good ones in here. And the Tonight Show is way past my bedtime.
The government is still analyzing Osama bin Laden's latest tape. On his most recent release he called Bush a liar and said that he was just after oil. It's the usual stuff we have heard before. Like at the Golden Globes. ... On the tape, bin Laden has three demands: That we pull our troops out of Iraq, that we pull the troops out of Afghanistan, and he wants to see actual stars on "Dancing With the Stars." ... New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin is being criticized for saying that God wants New Orleans to be a chocolate city and that the hurricanes were because God was mad at us. The good news, he was nominated for the Pat Robertson Lifetime Achievement Award. ... Here's your government at work. This week, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a recall for thousands of Christmas lights that they say may pose a risk of electric shock. They're recalling Christmas lights. Good timing. What is it, January now? You think this is maybe where the ex-head of FEMA wound up? ... The "National Inquirer" has reported that Ted Kennedy has a 21-year-old secret love child. Is that really the most accurate term, "love child"? Isn't "drunken fling child" a bit more like it? ... Senator Kennedy wasn't available for comment on the love child—he was overseeing a hearing on ethics. ... NBC has cancelled the "West Wing." That's when you know things are bad—when even fictional Democrats aren't doing well. Can't even get elected on TV anymore.
January 24, 2006
Screw Stare Decisis
Judge Alito's recommendation from the Judicial Committee was given today 10-8, and his nomination now heads to the Senate for likely confirmation.
Justice Alito will no doubt vote differently from Justice O'Connor and overturn very soon, the worst Supreme Court decision of my lifetime. I can hardly contain my enthusiasm.
Roe who? I am talking about McConnell v. FEC., where the court determined that First Amendment rights apply only to Illinois Nazis (man, I hate Illinois Nazis) and child pornographers. Those of us who care about the direction of the country and its polity will have to live under McCain-Feingold.
A case is perhaps headed to SCOTUS in time for the next election :Wisconsin Right to Life v. FEC that could curb McConnell or give the Roberts Court a chance to revisit it. The WSJ Ed Page sez:
A far better result would be for the Supreme Court to use this as an opportunity to revisit McConnell altogether. There is some hope that this could happen. Let's not forget that the deciding vote to uphold McCain-Feingold came from Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who may now have heard her last case. Judge Sam Alito is likely to replace her soon, and his track record suggests he is more sympathetic to free-speech arguments.
McConnell is, of course, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell who braved scorn from the elites, media and many of his fellow Senators in a brave attempt to defend our rights.
Mrs. Sheehan Heads South
BOTW runs the Political Diary today as Mr. Taranto is off. For what it's worth, I really enjoyed Political Diary and pleaded with the good folks at Dow Jones to make it web based. Alas, you can only get it by email and their systems are extremely unreliable. I cancelled some time ago.
Today, Latin America reporter Mary Anastasia O'Grady highlights the inconsistencies in Cindy Sheehan's "Peace Activism" and her decision to attend a possibly violent, anti-globalization moonbat fest in Caracas:
Indeed, the Sheehan tour to Caracas belongs in the "you-can't-make-it-up" category: A bitterly outspoken American citizen who has made a career of lambasting her president, she travels abroad to celebrate with a dictator who has thrown his own critics out of work and even put them in prison, stripped the press of its freedom, destroyed property rights and militarized the government. His political supporters are known to be armed and dangerous and many Venezuelans in poor neighborhoods have reported that they are afraid to dissent from the Chavez agenda. Venezuela's arms build-up is frightening his neighbors and threatening regional stability.
January 23, 2006
Shape Up With Sam's Club
I'm NOT a Wal*Mart basher. I am a Sam's Club member and I defend the colossus from my "folk Marxist"* friends frequently.
But I have to laugh at this week's email circular. January is National Fitness Month, so we are told to "Shape Up With Sam's Club!"
Put down the bratwurst and potato salad buddy, it's time to get fit -- and Sam's Club is here to help with these invigorating selections:
I am beat from all that typin' -- open me up a Little Debbie snack cake to get my energy back...
Arnold Kling provides some valuable phrases to better categorize ideas and beliefs that we encounter frequently.
His piece on TCS suggested that we have internalized the writings of John Locke (folk Lockeism) and Karl Marx (folk Marxism).
Folk Marxism looks at political economy as a struggle pitting the oppressors against the oppressed. Of course, for Marx, the oppressors were the owners of capital and the oppressed were the workers. But folk Marxism is not limited by this economic classification scheme. All sorts of other issues are viewed through the lens of oppressors and oppressed. Folk Marxists see Israelis as oppressors and Palestinians as oppressed. They see white males as oppressors and minorities and females as oppressed. They see corporations as oppressors and individuals as oppressed. They see America as on oppressor and other countries as oppressed.
Like Michael Barone's "Hard America-Soft America," this is a useful difference. While I know few who publicly profess fealty to Marx's economic ideas (I do have a niece proud to share his birthday), I know a lot of people who have this internal predisposition. In fact, in present society, you get folk Marxism inculcated by default. The only people I know who do not exhibit it in large quantities make a conscious effort to understand the benefits of the other side.
I bought the DVD to Wonderfalls last year after Tim Minear of Angel & Firefly fame recommended them to Professor Reynolds at Instapundit. The topic has resurfaced on Insty, and a quick search shows that I have not discussed them.
My wife and I really enjoyed the show. When she got her video iPod, it was the first thing she wanted ripped. Fox, in its infinite wisdom, cancelled the show and there are 13 episodes on the DVD. I wouldn't say that it's as good as Angel or Firefly, but it is still better than anything else out there. I would not hesitate to recommend it.
The long tail of TV is here. You don't have to watch what they schedule for you. (By the way Silence, I have been watching Veronica Mars on your recommendation. It's pretty good but it has not captured my heart.)
Notes from the plantation...
The junior senator from New York is unsurprisingly chastised from the WSJ Ed Page today. Shelby Steele lets her have it for pandering to a black audience on MLK Day.
When political pandering goes awry, it calls you a name. On an emotional level, many blacks will hear Hillary's remark as follows: "I say Republicans run the House like a plantation because I am speaking to Negroes--the wretched of the earth, a slave people--who will surely know all about plantations." Is this a tin ear or a Freudian slip, blacks will wonder? Does she really see us as she projects us--as a people so backward that our support can be won with a simple plantation reference, and the implication that Republicans are racist? Quite possibly so, since no apology has been forthcoming.
More surprising is a brief TNR "Notebook" piece:
When the Daily News asked on Tuesday night if she regretted the comment, she said, "Absolutely not. As I have said many times before, Congress is run in a top-down way." The last time we checked, an overly hierarchic corporate management style was not the biggest abomination of slave plantations, but perhaps congressmen have been separated from their families, chained together, forced to work for tobacco farmers, and publicly bought and sold during those mysterious closed-door sessions. And Clinton has been fond of the plantation metaphor for a while now: In a November 2004 interview on CNN, she said, "[T]hey're running the House of Representatives like a fiefdom, with Tom DeLay ... in charge of the plantation." Plantation, fiefdom: We see a rhetorical style developing here. Why doesn't she reach out to Jews, who've sometimes been wary of her, by comparing GOP K Street's intimidation tactics to pogroms in the Pale? And, come to think of it, why haven't any intrepid Democratic candidates seized the opportunity to describe Jack Abramoff's hustling of Indian gaming tribes as a "Trail of Tears"? Oh--because most of them have better taste, that's why.
I would have thought Senator Clinton to be the only/most likely candidate to appeal to the moderate, DLC-wing , New Republic.
This is a smackdown from a friendly corner -- not a good sign.
January 22, 2006
I'm in hormonal confusion today. My wife has purchased the BBC adaptation of "Pride and Prejudice" and we are following the romantic and personal trials of the five sisters. 'Tis a lovely literary repast which does speak to the pedant in me. To compensate, I will watch the football playoffs.
It has been a most meritorious drive, Mister Darcy. But as it remains third and long after that willful and obstreperous holding call, I daresay if Coach Shanahan does not implement the draw, or send Mister Plummer onto the bootleg, I shall be most aggrieved!
January 21, 2006
January 20, 2006
TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH!
Am I beating a dead (hybrid) horse? Perhaps but I am pretty grouchy with the Hybrid phenom.
Richard Burr at The Daily Standard, points out the insanity of tax cuts for
SO, HYBRIDS have become the environmental equivalent of driving an Escalade or Mustang. Who cares if they deliver on their promises as long as they make a social statement?
So, like recycling, you have a liberal shibboleth that cannot compete in the marketplace (until we get $10 gas). But -- darn it -- it just feels so good we're going to adjust tax policy to make it happen.
HYBRIDS ARE ALSO failing to pay for themselves in gas savings. A study by the car-buying website Edmunds.com calculates gasoline would have to cost $5.60 a gallon over five years for a Ford Escape hybrid to break even with the costs of driving a non-hybrid vehicle. The break-even number was $9.60 a gallon for a Honda Civic hybrid.
Kinda makes me wonder whether it is a good idea to have the government tampering in the free market...
My librarian niece sends me this alleged book report from an alleged student who was allegedly assigned to read both "Titanic" and "My Life, by Bill Clinton."
To save paper, he wrote one report to compare them:
Titanic: $29.99 Clinton: $29.99
Cheers, and Happy Friday!
January 19, 2006
I've admitted before to a capriciousness in blogging.
I have recently installed MoveableType Version 3.x for a commercial site, and am thinking that it's time to update this Model T blog. At the same time, I thought I would revisit the design. I was pretty impressed with Andrew Sullivan's new site on Time. The dark type on white is an easier read than his old (and our) reverse design.
Please feel free to leave suggestions on design, blogroll, look and feel, whatever.
Goin' to the Candidates' Debate
The Wall Street Journal has provided a real service by opening its Editorial page to each candidate for Majority Leader:
No surprise that I like Shadegg best in title, text, and concept. Rep Blunt opens his piece with complacency:
WASHINGTON--As readers of this page know all too well, excessive government regulation, taxation and spending strangle economic growth as frequently as runaway litigation and soaring health-care and energy costs do. What politicians say about these issues does not matter much, but what we do about them does. I'm proud of what House Republicans have accomplished on this front over the last several years, but I know that much remains to be done.
This reminds me of Leader DeLay's remark that the GOP had already cut all the pork out of the budget. I feel that the House GOP has more to fear from complacency than from scandal. Abramoff will come and go -- granted with much racket in between. But if the GOP house chooses too run on its accomplishments and not its ideas, we will have to endure Leader Pelosi.
ThreeSources readers will be shocked, shocked, to learn that European nations are "all mouth and no trousers (as the brits say)" when it comes to treaties. In this instance, it is Kyoto.
President Bush garnered howls from the "International Community," environmentalists, and his domestic political enemies when he admitted that the US was not going to sign (the 0-95 vote in Al Gore's Senate was deemed inconclusive).
Yet the WSJ Ed Page reports that the US is doing much better than the signatory countries in reducing the rate of growth of CO2:
Let's go to the latest numbers from the European Environment Agency in Copenhagen. Most European countries have seen an increase in greenhouse gas emissions since signing Kyoto with great fanfare in 1997. No fewer than 13 out of the 15 original EU signatories are on track to miss their 2010 emissions targets -- by as much as 33 percentage points, in the case of Spain.
US emissions are up 15.8%, far less than the countries that are berating us -- although we've the highest economic growth. And that is the real problem:
The nonsense that passes for debate at U.N. gabfests isn't news. But it is newsworthy that Kyoto's arbitrary targets were mainly cant. Countries that reduce those emissions potentially damaging to health or property do so by investing in cleaner technology. That is possible because of policies that promote economic growth and business investment. Unhampered by Kyoto targets, America's economy is more nimble and better able to adapt to changing technology. We knew Kyoto was bad for the global economy. It turns out it's bad for the environment as well.
January 18, 2006
Occasionally there's some discussion of Jazz music on these pages but I've gotta say that anyone who doesn't listen to country music is missing out on some serious "flyover country philosophy lessons." Take the latest release from Trace Adkins, for example. (Links include sound clips) In 4:01 he explains the subtleties of male motivation in virtually all of life's endeavors, boiling it all down to a single word: badonkadonk.
Now Honey, you can't blame her
Pure poetry (except for finding nothing better to rhyme with "goin' on" than "donkey kong.") Trace integrates the individual rational components of this and the other two verses thusly:
That's it, right there boys; that's why we do what we do. It ain't for the money; it ain't for the glory; it ain't for the free whiskey; it's for the badonkadonk.
I can make some more recommendations as well. Off the top of my head...
Songs About Me (same album)
Real. American. Glorious.
A buddy emails this from Jay Leno:
Senator Ted Kennedy announced that he and his dog Splash are writing a children's book. Is Splash the best name for Ted Kennedy's dog? Isn't that a bit like Jack Abramoff naming his dog Bribe? ... Have you watched any of these confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sam Alito? Senators are given thirty minutes to question the guy: thirty minutes exactly. Senator Joe Biden's question took 23 1/2 minutes. And Alito is smart. He's brilliant. Do you know what he said? "I'm sorry, could you repeat the question?" ... Ted Kennedy got pretty contentious, after he pointed out that Alito once belonged to a club that didn't allow women, it was discovered that Senator Kennedy also once belonged to a club that wouldn't allow women. Of course, with Kennedy those were club rules in place purely for the safety of women. ... Ted Kennedy questioned Judge Alito's integrity when Alito was at Princeton. As you may know, Kennedy was kicked out of Harvard for cheating. So when it comes to questionable integrity in college he knows what he is talking about. ... As you know, Governor Schwarzenegger was caught riding around on his motorcycle without a motorcycle license. I just hope this doesn't encourage other people in California to drive without a proper license. You'd hate to see something like that catch on here.
Posted by John Kranz at 3:36 PM
Carnival of the Clueless
My "Good Taste" - A Children's guide to Politics post from earlier in the week made it up on to the "Carnival of the Clueless."
Which is either clueless or incredibly sensitive.
Go check out the rest!
January 17, 2006
Happy TriCentennial, Ben!
Ben Franklin was born 300 years ago today. I blogged about a new book, but there are several articles today celebrating Silence's hero:
The American Apostle of Thrift, by David Blankenhorn at The Daily Standard
B Franklin, Moralist, by Timothy Lehmann at The Daily Standard
Better Than Well Said, by Pete DuPont at OpinionJournal.com
Revolutionary and Conservative, by Christopher Hitchens at the Wall Street Journal.
Since that last link is paid, I'll excerpt (holler if you want it via email)
In how many dimensions can one observe this figure, on his tercentenary? Unlike most philosophers, he was also an eminently practical man, schooled at first in the most charming and useful of trades -- that of a printer -- but wise in the ways of business and some distance ahead of his time in matters of science. If he did not exactly discover electricity, he did establish beyond doubt that it was a principle at work in the natural universe. And for him, discovery of this kind was intuitively linked to the possibility of the useful: for the lightening of the human load and, more important, the enlightening of the human mind.
Agog at Kos & Co...
Senator Lieberman's former communications director, Dan Gerstein, pens a guest editorial in today's Wall Street Journal (paid link, sorry!) He says the left-wing blogosphere is "agog" that the Democrats were not more vicious, truculent, or obstructive.
He feels, contrarily, that they did real damage to their selves and the party's standing with moderates.
And that's the heart of the problem with our party and its angry activist base. It's not so much that we're living in a parallel universe, but that we have dueling conceptions of what's mainstream, especially on abortion and other values-based issues, and our side is losing. We think that if we simply call someone conservative, anti-choice and anti-civil rights, that's enough to scare people to our side. But that tired dogma won't hunt in today's electorate, which is far more independent-thinking and complex in its views on values than our side presumes.
Will the last sane Democrats leaving the party please turn out the lights?
January 16, 2006
I Rebuke Thee II
"Surely God is mad at America. He sent us hurricane after hurricane after hurricane, and it's destroyed and put stress on this country," Nagin, who is black, said as he and other city leaders marked Martin Luther King Day.
"Surely he doesn't approve of us being in Iraq under false pretenses. But surely he is upset at black America also. We're not taking care of ourselves.
Shortly after the official political rebuking, I would expect groups like the ACLU and People for the American Way to do the same.
At the time, the most powerful man in the blogosphere, JK, commented...
We may have to add "teller of futures" to his resume. ;)
More realistically, we'll hear the following from the Democrats...
Cookies for Troops!
Silence's daughter is selling girl scout cookies -- and you can have them shipped to the troops in Iraq.
Cool idea -- enabling the young ladies to pry money out of the patriotic Atkins crowd. If you don't have a closer relative, email jk [at] threesources [dot] com and I will help you hook the troops up with some Samoas and Trefoils...
I started that chant yesterday. All three contenders for Rep DeLay's Leader position were on FOXNews Sunday. FOX -- not the NYTimes -- put charts on the screen of filthy Abramoff-related lucre gained by Reps. Blunt and Boehner. Shadegg was not clean as a whistle, but he was magnitudes off the other contenders and it is unlikely that anybody has zero to hide (this was all legal, folks).
Today, Stephen Moore writes in the WSJ Ed Page (free link) that conservatives do have a candidate, and he concludes that the GOP will be in grave danger of losing its majority status if they fail to heed his message.
Still, it is Mr. Shadegg who is unquestionably the primary change agent in this field. He wants the party, in effect, to make a declaration of independence from pork spending and the government-for-sale corruption that has become its abiding image. "The American people are with us on our substantive policy agenda and our Reaganite values, but are becoming repulsed by our behavior," he told me. With a truthful message like that, don't expect him to corral any votes from the Old Bull Republicans or the College of Cardinals appropriators who have turned pork into haute cuisine of late.
I have no GOP rep (sniff) to write. But those of you who do: "Shad-egg, Shad-egg, Shad-egg!"
January 15, 2006
Needing a Clue by Four
If the Nobel Foundation offered a prize for Stupidity, this would be a nomination.
The assignment asked students to research pornography on the Internet and list eight facts about pornography. Students also were asked to write their personal views of pornography and any experience they had with it.
I'm pretty sure I know how the boys would answer this. If only the kids were taught more than just putting condoms on cucumbers! They wouldn't have to go to pornography for source material.
I have no doubt that the teachers union would mount a vigorous defense.
Can we please! have the same officials for the AFC Championship game in Denver next week. I like the crew in Indianapolis today -- they obviously hate the Steelers!
I'm glad to be hosting but that has got to be one of the worst officiated games I have ever seen. Glad the Steelers won in spite of it.
Posted by John Kranz at 4:30 PM
Friedrich, at 2blowhards, ponders the impetus for the American Revolution. He makes a good point that in the global scheme of things, the colonists did not seem to be aggrieved on the order of other oppressed peoples. Okay, Stamp Tax Bad, tariffs, yadda yadda. We have MUCH more oppressive taxation today and my musket is in its case.
He examines a book with economic and biometric data, William Fogel’s “The Escape from Hunger and Premature Death, 1700-2100.” ($65!) and discovers that the colonists were taller, ate better and lived longer.
Given that most Americans of the Revolutionary War period were of British extraction and could hardly have been ignorant of conditions there, it must have been as plain as the nose on their faces that people lived far longer, ate far better and grew up more sturdily in the Colonies than in the Mother Country. So when the British government started tightening the screws on the colonies in the wake of the French and Indian wars, the mental calculation of the colonists must have been pretty simple: “Let me get this straight: you British aristocrats, in your infinite wisdom, want to make us Americans more like the average British working man? In short, you want us to live as poorly as you do? I think not, if I have anything to say about it. Martha, what did you do with my rifle?”
Interesting post. Good Comments. Hat-tip: Pajamas Media
After being corrected on an earlier post, I am a little fearful to pan another film...
But I think I am fairly safe. I watched "Crash" this Friday on the recommendation of a very liberal physical/occupational therapist I know. I would have steered clear without the tip; with it, I spent my $1 with trepidation.
In short, it's Hollywood's idea of race in America. shorter, it's "Do The Right Thing" without any of the humor or grace. We're all racists down deep, the good people aren't really good and the bad people aren't really bad. We are all racists, but that's okay 'cause everybody is. From the movie, I have concluded that I dislike white people, black people, Asians (PacRim and Persian). The Mexican guy was allright.
That's my synopsis; IMDB sez:
For two days in Los Angeles, a racially and economically diverse group of people pursue lives that collide with one another in unexpected ways. These interactions are always interesting, and sometimes quite unsettling. The film explores and challenges your ability to judge books by their covers.
Save your dollar, save your two hours. jk gives it zero stars.
Posted by John Kranz at 12:48 PM
Earlier in the week, I was hearing some grumblings of Senator Kennedy (D-Glenfiddich) writing a childrens book.
And that's fine.
But how classy is it that it's a book about his dog?
His dog named "Splash."
No. I'm not kidding.
Scholastic Inc. will release the book in May.
"I am very excited about the opportunity to create a book for young readers and their families that will deepen their understanding of how our American government works," Kennedy said in a statement Monday issued by Scholastic.
With some illustrations, here's how I would write a children's book about how government works.
(Click Read More, to see the story)
The names have been changed to protect the innocent.
"See Dick lose an election."
"See Jack win."
"See Dick & Dick's friends (also Dicks) pout for years about how we wuz robbed."
"See Jack deal with getting problems solved. We call Jack an adult."
"Go Jack Go!"
"See John. John is Dick's old colleague. They are friends. See John's wife Jane. She makes ketchup."
"See John try to beat Jack."
"See Jack continue to the run the country."
"See John's friends go out of their way to help John win."
"Meet John's friend John. They have nice hair."
"See John lose."
"See John's friends also pout."
"See Jack and his friends continue to lead this nation. He is an adult."
"See John and his friends in the Senate get in the way of every thing Jack and his friends want to do. They do it because they are children."
"Iran triggers nuclear armageddon in the Middle East because Jack and John's friends in far away places could not agree on how to deal with bullies."
It could use some editing.
January 14, 2006
If I had money, I'd forget the Mercury and I would endow a "Robert Bartley-Milton Friedman Award," complete with a generous stipend. The award would be for those rare journalists whose reporting includes good economics.
The award would go to ABC's John Stossel for his work on 20/20. This is primetime, broadcast TV, not a right wing blog or cable show -- and Stossel frequently airs courageous stories. His New Year reprisal of myths is a good example: no, we're not drowning in trash, choking on chemicals, and dying of overpopulation.
But last night’s "Stupid in America" was the bravest, most honest, and most courageous thing I have seen on TV. Stossel suggests (Friedman-style) that revenue should follow the student and not the schools. He blasts government monopoly, sclerotic teachers; unions, and complacency for their parts in preserving this abysmal status quo.
I think that ThreeSources readers have heard all the arguments, but this was packaged up in a moving broadcast with video of children who won -- and lost -- a lottery to get a good education in a charter school.
Stossel doesn't join me in going back to John Quincy Adams, but he does ask us to go back to our youth and remember how things have improved with free-market competition: how the telecom industry blossomed when it was deregulated.
This show is a work of art. I will post if it is rerun, and if any of you would like it, I can make a DVD off my PVR. It's an outstanding program.
UPDATE: Stossel also compares US students’ achievement to Belgian students (hint: ours don't win) It reminded me of Michael Barone's "Hard America Soft America" The Belgians are given an outstanding and rigorous education for a dead-end life in a sclerotic socialist society; their American counterparts are given a substandard education and then thrown into a dynamic, opportunity-driven work culture. The Belgians seem to have Barone upside-down...
January 13, 2006
Getting the Job Done
Praise God for men like this one.
His quarry stood nonchalantly in the fourth-floor bay window of a hospital in battle-torn Ramadi, still clasping a long-barrelled Kalashnikov. Instinctively allowing for wind speed and bullet drop, Shadow's commander aimed 12 feet high.
A single shot hit the Iraqi in the chest and killed him instantly. It had been fired from a range of 1,250 metres, well beyond the capacity of the powerful Leupold sight, accurate to 1,000 metres.
"I believe it is the longest confirmed kill in Iraq with a 7.62mm rifle," said Staff Sgt Gilliland, 28, who hunted squirrels in Double Springs, Alabama from the age of five before progressing to deer - and then people.
"He was visible only from the waist up. It was a one in a million shot. I could probably shoot a whole box of ammunition and never hit him again."
The More Things Change
I've been listening to the greatest American speeches that I blogged about last week.
Here's a speech that's over forty years old. Yet is still relevant.
But we're against those entrusted with this program when they practice deception regarding its fiscal shortcomings, when they charge that any criticism of the program means that we want to end payments to those people who depend on them for a livelihood. They've called it "insurance" to us in a hundred million pieces of literature. But then they appeared before the Supreme Court and they testified it was a welfare program. They only use the term "insurance" to sell it to the people. And they said Social Security dues are a tax for the general use of the government, and the government has used that tax. There is no fund, because Robert Byers, the actuarial head, appeared before a congressional committee and admitted that Social Security as of this moment is 298 billion dollars in the hole. But he said there should be no cause for worry because as long as they have the power to tax, they could always take away from the people whatever they needed to bail them out of trouble. And they're doing just that.
A young man, 21 years of age, working at an average salary -- his Social Security contribution would, in the open market, buy him an insurance policy that would guarantee 220 dollars a month at age 65. The government promises 127. He could live it up until he's 31 and then take out a policy that would pay more than Social Security. Now are we so lacking in business sense that we can't put this program on a sound basis, so that people who do require those payments will find they can get them when they're due -- that the cupboard isn't bare?
Ronald Reagan's "A Time for Choosing"
It seems the Senior Senator from Massachusetts, who didn’t know how Judge Sam Alito could be part of "that reprehensible club" meaning CAP, is part of a club that does not celebrate diversity. The Washington Times reports:
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy belongs to a social club for Harvard students and alumni that was evicted from campus nearly 20 years ago after refusing to allow female members.
Neither this man, nor his party will pay the slightest price for this stunning hypocrisy, but all four of this blog's readers can enjoy it.
Double Hat-tip: NewsMax.com email & Taranto
A center-right coalition of the willing bloggers seeks to influence the GOP leadership elections. Their petition is well written (you won't be surprised when you see the main co-authors).
We are not naive about lobbying, and we know it can and has in fact advanced crucial issues and has often served to inform rather than simply influence Members.
I agree and sign: John Kranz (jk) ThreeSources
This week's Weekly Standard carries a review (free link) of a book that looks interesting if a bit turgid. Silence's hero is the target of "Benjamin Franklin Unmasked: On the Unity of His Moral, Religious, and Political Thought"
Franklin was a political creature, but one whose philosophical cast of mind inured him against the anger and indignation typical of politicians. He was also a benevolent free spirit, whose aim in writing was nothing less than liberation from the shackles of ignorance for all who would think for themselves. This useful volume has the virtue of being an education in itself, and will pay rich dividends for those willing to learn from this charming American Socrates.
Let me know if you get it, Silence, and I'll give it a shot.
Joe Biden, Time Traveller
D'ja catch this? Senator Biden goes on the Today Show (daring to face the fierce political onslaught from Katie Couric) and complains that Judge Alito didn't answer his question.
Fine, but he hadn't asked it yet:
Three hours later, in Round 4 of the hearings, Biden finally got around to asking the question he used as a defense to Couric three hours earlier. Again, check out the time stamp.
This might be the funniest blonde joke ever.
January 12, 2006
Saw this on Drudge's page today.
The department said in its monthly budget report that government receipts surpassed spending by $10.98 billion last month. A year ago, the government ran a deficit of $2.85 billion in December.
The improvement reflected the fact that government receipts were up 12.1 percent from a year ago to $241.88 billion while government spending rose by a slower 5.6 percent to $230.9 billion. The figure for outlays still represented an all-time high for spending for any month.
Tax cuts are generating more tax revenue. This is a good thing. (tm)
What I don't like is that government doesn't know how to stop spending. Congress and the President are to blame for that. Drives me nuts.
Having more money doesn't you can or should spend it. Who runs their household that way? Irresponsible people do.
Can't we expect more from our government? Shouldn't we?
Ups and Downs
Picks and Pans, Tony or Tacky, Ups and Downs. I have some thoughts from the hearings:
UP Chairman Arlen Specter. No, I can't believe I am writing this. But he was good as Chairman and provided as I suggested the most balanced questioning during his allotted times. He was neither sycophantic nor aggressive. I thought I had lost it, but a friend emails similar thoughts:
I've not seen all of this, but what I've seen of Specter has been impressive. He is engaging in substantive debate, remaining respectful and demonstrating how these things might be conducted if serious people participated. [...] The upside is that most people don't get or care about legal trivia, but they all understand the wife's tearful exit after watching her husband savaged by the compassionate, caring party. Alito wins, and you are right, Democrats, thoughtful ones, have to wonder what kind of hands they are in with leadership like Kennedy, Schumer, Leahy, et. al.
Down Senator Kennedy. I had forgotten just how bad he is. I heard him on the radio (NPR in my rental car) saying that he still can't come to terms with how Judge Alito could have joined "that reprehensible organization" twenty or thirty years ago. Senator, I don't know how you left Mary Jo Kopechne to die thirty years ago. I guess it's all just water over your car after a while. (I apologize to those who expect more reasoned debate from me. A day with the Dems has poisoned me.) I asked my emailer "isn’t anybody in Massachusetts or the Democrat party embarrassed about this man?"
UP Senator Lindsey Graham Senator Graham has not been a team player nor reliable on conservative economic principles. But I was crying as much as the Judge's wife when he did his brilliant defense. My brother-in-law called and insisted that I tape the replay so I could catch Graham. I'm glad I did.
Up with a bullet President Bush and Judge Samuel Alito What a great nominee. I remain pleased by this nomination (and Chief Roberts's)
Level: Schumer, Leahy, Biden, &c. I didn't expect any better; I didn't get any better.
Fight the Power
Gentlemen's clubs employees took it to the streets in Trenton NJ this thursday to protest government meddling.
There were far less than the 100 strippers promised by New Jersey 101.5 shock jocks, "The Jersey Guys."
The women waved signs saying, "Defy Anti-Smoking Nazis" and "Tobacco Control Is Out of Control."
In the background, a loudspeaker blared the songs, "Girls, Girls, Girls" and "Highway to Hell."
The strippers say they oppose the ban on smoking in restaurants, bars and other public establishments because it would drive away customers.
I always thought that leaving a "gentlemans' club" stinking like stale beer, cigarettes and perfume was part of the experience.
New Jersey is also the state where you can't pump your own gas for fear of the catastrophe that might result. The N in NJ should be changed to "Nanny."
Freedom of Speech
I post the picture in the hopes of noting the irony of holding up signs attacking the goverment which doesn't prohibit you to hold up those signs.
If only this planet had see signs saying "Mullah Omar is go to Hell!" or "Wahabbism is Hypocrisy" would not be finding ourselves in this mess.
But alas, 'tis only a dream.
Welcome To The Blogroll
Blonde Sagacity. Shifting the Pennsylvania/Colorado axis a little to the east, we have added yet another Philly blog.
AlexC has linked here frequently and it is a very good blog.
Posted by John Kranz at 10:58 AM
January 11, 2006
Here's an idea from YoungPhillyPolitics.
It goes on to list all of the ways....
So the plan is to spend a billion dollars a year to cover a billion dollars a year in debt using money that might come from tax revenue based on new jobs!
I guess compounding interest never figured in to the calculations. To be fair, Ray did admit to some guessing in his calculations.
Nevertheless, I still have a philosophical problem with centrally planned problem solving like this. It would be a total and complete racket. It's begging for mismanagement and graft.
If the objective is to lure better paying jobs BACK into the city, I guess getting the city on the correct side of the Laffer Curve isn't in the cards.
In related news, a new paper from the Cato Institute came out last week.
The effectiveness of local transit systems is undermined by federal subsidies, which encourage the construction of highly visible and expensive services such as light-rail trains to suburban areas despite the chronically low number of riders on those routes. Federal subsidies to transit advocacy groups and misguided environmental and labor regulations also encourage a large investment of taxpayer money in wasteful transit systems.
Public transit is a tricky question. In urban areas, you have to have it.
Mass rail-transit has pretty much been a financial loser since automobiles were invented, and were heavily subsidized by freight reciepts when real railroads has shiny classic passenger trains. However, when your entire income stream is based on passengers themselves that need to get from point A to point B as fast as possible, it becomes very difficult to do.
Subways, "El"s and trolleys, as light rail used to be called, are in that same vein. The physical plant maintenance is high, and you can only make money in high volumes, but even then with government subsidies.
Buses have always been expensive to run, but cheaper than rail, as the "tracks" are someone elses problem.
I think the solution to transit funding is that we need to abandon the idea of public transit monopolies.
With regards to rail, the government should offer tax incentives (not subsidies) for self-contained railcar development and passenger service companies to run them. Though some lines would need to be improved for the additional traffic, they can co-exist with freight traffic when properly dispatched.
But here's my twist.
For example on the Northeast Corridor from Boston to Washington, why not allow multiple companies to run the operations? Not just Amtrak sharing with NJ Transit, MTA or Septa, but with an airline style model. The service can either be contracted out by the municipality OR companies could run them on their own schedules, offering first-class, upscale or economy style service. Additionally, premium slots during rush-hour can be sold to the companies. In addition to frequency or quality of service, competition could also be based on speed of service. Trains could make the local stops or the bigger city stops (express), or some mix (limited).
For those locations where rail service might not exist, or exists on terrible economics, why not contract the service out? Instead of completely wasting money, there would be a better return. The competitive bidding process still works... Since we're already paying for some service to these areas, can't we pay less? I'm sure we can.
We can do something similar with buses. It would actually be better than trains. There's a lower cost for the infrastructure. Another government bureaucracy is maintaining the roads. Heck, we could fold some of the rails into the DOT's as well. In any case, a bus can go anywhere. Greyhound, Martz, et. al. do it now.
With unmonopolized public transit any bus company can run a bus from anywhere to anywhere. I bet they would do it at far better efficiency than a "transit authority."
Free our transit.... either that or perfect "tube technology" ala Logan's Run. Except we all know how that turned out.
Kennedy & Alito
The hits just keep on coming.
Aides immediately alerted Sen. Kennedy that he had co-mingled two major Supreme Court decisions in his question, but Judge Alito chose to answer it anyway.
“Sen. Kennedy, I appreciate that question,” said the federal appeals court judge. “At no time have I ever opposed the right of a fetus — without regard to political affiliation, race, or sex — to cast a ballot once he or she has reached legal voting age. You raise issues of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, freedom of choice and civil liberties. Far be it from a judge, or anyone else, to ever interfere with those unalienable rights.”
Oh wait. That was Scrappleface. The best satire often has an element of harsh truth.
Alito Should Know Better
Ack. One of my personal pet peeves has been tweaked by Judge Alito.
Courtesy of Powerline, to which John Hinderaker, comments "Wonderful."
"I think the Framers would be stunned by the idea that the Bill of Rights is to be interpreted by taking a poll of the countries of the world," Judge Alito said. "The purpose of the Bill of Rights was to give Americans rights that were recognized practically nowhere else in the world at the time. The Framers did not want Americans to have the rights of people in France or the rights of people in Russia or any of the other countries on the continent of Europe at the time; they wanted them to have the rights of Americans."
The first part, I totally agree with... in terms of the first paragraph, I agree with Hindrocket. It is wonderful.
It's the second part of the statement that torques me off.
The Framers DID NOT GIVE US ANY RIGHTS the Constitution DID NOT GIVE US ANY RIGHTS and the Bill of Rights certainly did not "give us" any rights.
Rights are endowed by the Creator, or if your an atheist, at birth. No one gives them to you. They can only be taken away. The Bill of Rights sought to enumerate a certain set of rights, that the government has no ability to take away.
Don't believe me? Check the Preamble to the Bill of Rights.
The first ten amendments (twelve originally proposed) were to restrict government, not to give us anything! The Framers had the idea, and the personal knowledge, that governments eventually constrict the freedoms of their people. They wanted to hamstring, for lack of a better term, the government from doing so, or even attempting to do so.
Judge Alito, soon to be Justice Alito, should know the difference.
He better know the difference.
A government that can give you a right is the same one that can take it away.
That's a disappointing answer in an otherwise phenomenal performance.
Reply From Senator Salazar
C-Span reran the hearings last night and I was able to see quite a bit more.
I think my prize for tenor goes to Senator Arlen Specter. The Democrats I saw were in attack-dog mode. They have a powerful constituency to oppose any nomination from this President and are looking for any flaw they can hang an opposition movement upon. That is not serious governance.
The Republicans counterbalance this by throwing softballs and highlighting the Judge's achievements. Senator Specter nicely grilled the nominee, which I think is correct. They can have questions, too, and should.
The nominee is very impressive to me. I thought he handled himself with grace and flair.
I hope I live long enough that the court becomes something more important than "The US Board of Abortion Regulation." That all it is now to most of these folks. I didn't hear a question on Kelo v. New London (I didn't listen to it all), I didn't hear a question on McConnell v FEC and the only I time I heard about Raitch was when Sen. Hatch used it to compare Alito to Justice O'Connor (they are both on the correct side of this).
Lastly, it strengthens my resolve to be a pragmatist. We cannot make Senator Leahy Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. We cannot put Senators Schumer, Kennedy and Biden in charge. If that means we have to put up with RINOs like Snowe, Collins, and Chaffee, so be it. The other guys are not ready.
January 10, 2006
Being a political junkie, it breaks my heart that I just can't get into the Alito - Supreme Court goings on.
But the general meme from the blogosphere has been that Alito is competent, highly intelligent and killing the Senators. Especially in light of an exchange like this one.
A: Yes, Senator, the First Amendment protects free speech.
Q. Well, why can you give me a straight answer on that issue but not give me a straight answer on abortion?
A. Because the text of the Constitution explicitly includes the term "free speech".
Case closed. It's like watching the Washington Generals play the Harlem Globetrotters.
Wow. Judge Sam "Alioto" should have thrown a brick at the Senator. It would have hurt less.
Hopefully this video turns up.
Update: The transcript has appeared.
ALITO: Certainly it does. That's in the First Amendment.
SCHUMER: So why can't you answer the question of: Does the Constitution protect the right to an abortion the same way without talking about stare decisis, without talking about cases, et cetera?
ALITO: Because answering the question of whether the Constitution provides a right to free speech is simply responding to whether there is language in the First Amendment that says that the freedom of speech and freedom of the press can't be abridged. Asking about the issue of abortion has to do with the interpretation of certain provisions of the Constitution.
Not quite the same brick as originally described but a good answer, nonetheless.
Heaven, They Name Is...
I bought my first Macintosh in 1995, a PowerMac 8100/80 Mhz with 1Gb hard drive. That machine lasted me through college and in 1999 I ended up back on the Windows platform. Rueing the days. Nothing was simple anymore. It was work just to do work. (of course, I was being paid to do the work too)
Three years ago I took delivery of my Powerbook G4, and 867Mhz machine with 60Gb of RAM and fell back in love. Everything just worked.
Eventually wear and tear set in. On a laptop you use everyday, these things happen. First was a hinge, then a key, then the powersupply.... and the battery release... and the other hinge. A month ago was the hard drive.
It was tragic.
All I had backed up were my contacts and schedules to my iPod. I had a new HD and enclosure shipped and got back "running." I finally, finally this week got the machine to recognize the old hard drive and copied the archived emails, songs, and most importantly the pictures, from the past three years. I was looking forward to getting a new laptop.
And here it is.
Obviously, in the intervening years Windows got better. I look forward to dual-booting this PC to do those things I just can't do on the Mac yet. Mostly play the latest games.... but this will be awesome.
January 9, 2006
This may be one of the craziest things I've seen in the New York Times, ever.
Headline: Tax Breaks Drive a Philadelphia Boom
The construction, fueled by tax breaks, has succeeded in halting the city's 40-year population decline. Center City, which has the nation's third largest downtown residential population, behind New York and Chicago, is experiencing its fifth straight year of increased housing starts, both new and rehabilitated units. Center City's population grew to 88,000 by the end of 2005 from 78,000 in 2000. Even more striking, the number of households rose by 24 percent, according to figures compiled by the Center City District, a business-improvement group.
Cut taxes, and faster please.
Chronic of Narnia Rap
From SNL -- very funny!
Hat-tip: Galley Slaves, who point out the quote "You can call us Aaron Burr from the way we're dropping Hamiltons."
The Cost of Regulation
2005 was a very expensive year for gasoline. And thanks to Washington, 2006 could be even worse.
I feel better, you? The two regs in this TCS article, for those playing the home game, are mandatory ethanol requirements from last year's energy bill and sulphur restrictions from the Clinton era that just kicked in.
As Mr. Pragmatist, I would trade these for ANWR in the great legislative Sausage match, but to get these without domestic drilling is hard to bear.
Proponents of the bill regulations are eased for new/expanded refineries and other domestic drilling. I hope this is true but have the sinking feeling that we got rolled again.
Joanne Tosti-Vasey, president of the National Organization for Women in Pennsylvania, said Sunday that she was "appalled" by Paterno's comments last week and that they represent an institutional insensitivity that endangers women.
What did JoePa say?
I'm not going to discount the allegations, they're no joke.
NOW's statement goes on...
You seriously have to consider what the actual position of the National Organization of Women is in light of their response to the claims of Jennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky, Dolly Kyle Browning, Kathleen Willey, and Juanita Broderick.
Where were the press releases? Who asked the President to step down? At least the President committed those acts.. (well, allegedly), Joe Paterno had misfortune of being the kid's football coach.
Iran Breaking Nuclear Seals
Iran has announced that they will be restarting their nuclear research on Monday.
However, Mr ElBaradei, the head of the IAEA, disputed Tehran's assertion that 90 per cent of issues related to the resumption of research had been solved.
Mr ElBaradei has some tough talk for Iran.
I read the entire linked article and a question remains in my mind.
What happens if Iran gets back to work? What is the IAEA and Mr Elbaradei's next steps?
Actually, it's not a hypothetical. Iran will resume work. This will be followed by caterwauling from old-Europe about credibility and playing nice. Israel will then strike. Old Europe will sigh with relief, though privately.
Then we'll have a big mess on our hands trying to set things straight again.
So what to do? Instead of endlessly sealing these facilities, they should be plowed under by an agency or entity willing to solve problems. All we're doing here is kicking the can down the road.
January 8, 2006
AmericanRhetoric.com has a listing of the Top 100 speeches and many of them are available in MP3 format.
Now you listen to our nation's greatest speeches AND be trendy.
What a country.
My downloads so far?
Liberté Chérie is the name of a French, libertarian think tank. In "An Australian in Paris," Paul Belien interviews its leader and popular member (to the media) Sabine Herold.
The article is a good look at French thought that changed my mind about many things.
For many French, ‘liberal’ remains a pejorative. The French Revolution didn’t just lop off the king’s head, it enshrined the State in his place as the new sovereign. In some ways, perhaps, it was easier to kill the king than it was to kill the notion of kingliness. In France, someone is always in charge. Today, the bureaucracy is bloated and all-powerful. Bureaucrats rule their petty fiefdoms like little Napoleons, and the state regulates everything it can see. Welfare rules the lives of millions, and entrepreneurialism as understood in Australia or America is almost non-existent. People don’t just go out and do things, people wait to be told what to do. The king is dead, long live the king.Okay, that's not surprising. But that only 7% of the French workforce is unionized? That nobody really knows how they are funded?
Very good article. In the lede, he points out that "After all, if one couldn’t believe three contradictory things simultaneously, [liberté, égalité, fraternité] one wouldn’t be French.
Like liberty minded people everywhere, they suffer from a paucity of candidates that really believe.
January 7, 2006
jk Causes Trouble
I've often mentioned how much I enjoy the quality of Samizdata's commenters (Perry calls them "The Commentariat"). They're a bright and articulate lot and for such a large community have very few trolls.
A post about allofmp3.com caught me eye: "The Future of the Music Business is Here". The poster and first comments were praising this Russian MP3 site for its good front-end, pricing structure, &c.
I commented that "I hate to ruin the party but..." I thought Samizdats in general would be extra sensitive to property rights. And that, as this is not sanctioned by the RIAA, it is likely stealing music, even though you pay ~0.12/track. Thanks to the time zone difference, I went to bed to find the discussion thread taken in many directions, including the Russian Mafia (makes me think of "Blues Brothers 2000), the validity of copyrights, the state's function in preserving intellectual property. Very good stuff
Enough chatter that Perry DeHavilland created a second post directed exclusively toward the property rights issue.
In fact I would say that notion is exactly the wrong way around. Like it or not, music is now a commodity that is traded by weight in an international market and therefore the creator has only residual rights to how that commodity is subsequently resold. The model allofmp3 uses does indeed pay something to the creators of the music and refusing to acknowledge that things have changed and that recorded music is no long a physical good is pointless.
I strongly disagree. Because consumers wish to set their own price does not mean that the producers have to accede. One comment asserts three different ways he will buy music (attend gigs, donate to buskers, donate on your site where you offer free mp3s) and that’s certainly his right. But it is the right of the music producers to tell him whether that model will be honored for a specific artist.
The comparison to resale does not hold because a music sale is a incense to use. Purchasing one of my CDs does not give you rights to rerecord Hoagy Carmichael tunes or to resell my versions on a Russian Web site.
Lastly, he makes a funny point comparing the Russian Mafia to government.
I would say even if it was true that allofmp3 is paying 'protection' to the Russian Mafia and/or using their political influence to shield their business model, the Russian Mafia fulfils certain roles that in other countries are filled by governments and lobbyists to much the same effect, thus I am not sure it makes a company like allofmp3 any different to a company (say Sony) using the force of the state to enforce its business model.
Clever, but we still get to vote on our government, flawed though the process may be, and as I recall from Blues Brothers 2000, nobody gets to vote on the Russian Mafia.
By opposing allofmpo3.com on property rights grounds, I was lumped in with the RIAA as unwilling to embrace new business models. Anybody who’s ever read ThreeSources will know that to be untrue. I wrote about eMusic.com on the Berkeley Square Blog in July of 2003 that "Supporting a legal distribution method might bring Schumpeterian-gales of reform to the big-bad music Industry."
I'm all for hating "Big Music" and I am all for mp3 models. But they have to have the acceptance of buyer and seller -- as many sites do -- before I will embrace them
Someone call Pres Carter!
Democracy is at stake!
"We are sorry to tell you that you must leave Jenin as soon as possible," said a statement Saturday from the Jenin branch of the Brigades received by AFP.
Well, at least they were polite about it.
Nevermind. They WANT elections to take place.
I expect the "international community" to have no problem with that.
However, I'm more curious about the rest of the series of demands.
January 6, 2006
Training the Insurgents
Well, it's pretty clear we're still being lied to.
Lies! Imperialist lies!
Again, there were no connections! Do not believe the evidence! There are still no Americans in Baghdad.
"We have commitments for about 25 signatures. The letter calls for a leadership election for a permanent majority leader," said Matthew Specht, a spokesman for Rep. Jeff Flake (news, bio, voting record), a conservative Arizona Republican.
They are only about halfway there to forcing a vote.
Here's to hoping for Indian Representative (and fiscal conservative) Mike Pence.
UPDATE: The AP is reporting (Jan07,2006) that DeLay is indeed stepping down.
I Rebuke Thee
That was a reference to last year's Gaza withdrawal, which Sharon engineered.
White House spokesman Trent Duffy calls the remark "wholly inappropriate and offensive." And speaking to reporters as President Bush flew to Chicago, he said it has no place "in this or any other debate."
Robertson's comment has already been called "outrageous and shocking" by the Jewish Anti-Defamation League. And Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid branded it "insulting."
Why does the White House feel it's even necessary to make a statement on Robertson's statement?
He doesn't work in the White House. He doesn't work in government. The Bush White House is not responsible for what Rev Pat Robertson says anymore than it's responsible for what Rev Al Sharpton or Rev Jesse Jackson say in their speeches.
It's not like this is the first time either. I think there was a Chavez / Robertson kerfuffle a while back too.
What's the point? All it does to do is serve to reinforce the idea that there is some sort of connection.
Just ignore him. You can't tell him to STFU.
Requiescat in Pace
As I moved from being a fan of blues and Motown soul into more of a Jazz (snob, some say), I lost interest in a lot of artists.
Lou Rawls, however, was always hip, always cool. He could hang with Jazz cats or belt out a sweet, baritone pop song.
Thanks for the good tunes, my friend.
January 5, 2006
Talking about Estonia made me look for a blogger in Esonia that I used to read and correspond with.
Holy cow! Sam (Unigolyn) now has a Serenity/Firefly themed blog called "Kojinshugi." It'll be on the blogroll later today.
I felt I should blog about Mark Steyn's long, depressing, and completely correct exegesis yesterday in the Wall Street Journal. I needed at least a day to digest it, though Hugh Hewitt staged a carnival of sorts of commentary about it.
Lileks resuscitates the Screedblog today to comment on it and it is of course great:
I know, I know: I am a hopeless reactionary. I believe in judging a culture on the liberties and prosperity it affords to its people. I believe that the West is an anomaly in human history, and that it is a rare thing to have what we have: information without boundaries, freedom unimagined by those who have gone before, women’s equality instead of the black Hefty-trash-bag dress, respect for gays instead of death-by-stone-walls, and all the other remarkable accomplishments like space probes and plumbing and overnight delivery of Omaha Steaks (track the UPS code in your browser, if you wish.) But it didn’t just happen. As Felix Under said to Oscar Madison: you have to make gravy. It doesn’t just come.
I wanted to sound a more hopeful note. Steyn is correct on the philosophical concerns (highlighted by Lileks) and he's no doubt correct on the Demographics and trends. I have heard many mention this and do not doubt that "Western Europe as we know it" is in serious jeopardy.
But I am reminded of the Population Bomb (which he quotes) and former Governor of Colorado Richard Lamm. Remembering these folks (and a college professor at CU who got to me) I question the extrapolation into dystopia. Might not these Muslims discover the benefits of freedom and plurality?
I hesitate to oppose the piece. We truly need to understand and defend the society we have created -- and it is probably too late for Denmark, The Netherlands and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. But I do not concede that it is all over. Arnold Kling has suggested that rising productivity might allow u to fund entitlements. The US birthrate is equal to reproduction.
The Senator from Nevada
"Anyone who can't see that Las Vegas is a high-risk area doesn't deserve to serve in a position like that," Reid said.
"We had more visitors on New Year's Eve than they had in Times Square and we're not a high-risk area? For heaven's sakes.
In related news, perhaps Senator Reid would have liked Jack Abramoff to "lobby" Mr Chertoff in favor of Nevada funding.
I'm starting to rethink my ideas on "those in glass houses" when it comes to politics. As long as you destroy your opponents glass house more spectacularly than your own, it's fair game.
That's all that it can be.
I have to side with the folks at NRO (holy cow! write this date down!) that Leader DeLay is damaged from the Ronnie Earle imbroglio and will soon be ensnared in the Abramoff contretemps. Whether there is a yet undiscovered kerfuffle, who knows?
I should be serious because this is sad. Rep DeLay, as NRO points out, has done a good job for the GOP. He gets the administration agenda through the house (JohnGalt pointed out that we needed "The Hammer") and he drives Silence crazy; he must be a good guy.
I think he is blameless in the Earle indictment and likely pretty clean, legally, with Abramoff. But we are facing an election year and he will be viewed as damaged goods by the media and moderates.
I don't think it was fair that Senator Lott was forced to step down but he did it for the good of the party. DeLay must now do the same.
We hope Delay clears his name, and it is notable that he wasn't explicitly referred to in the plea agreement. The winds frequently shift in Washington and it might be that a year or two from now — leadership elections are held every two years — a clearly innocent DeLay will be poised for a comeback. It will certainly help earn the goodwill of his colleagues if he realizes the wisdom of remaining, for now, a backbencher.
Another point -- a tipping point -- is DeLay's assertion that years of GOP rule have trimmed all the pork out of the budget. I'll wait for you to get up off the floor now and clean up a bit.
Were he just the victim of un-provable charges, he should stay. But in fact he is emblematic of the shift toward incumbency that we've seen in the GOP house between the 104th and 109th Congress. Thanks, Mr. Leader. Bye.
January 4, 2006
We're Number Nine!
The 2006 Heritage/Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom is out. As I've mentioned, the individual rankings confuse me. I love the Republic of Ireland and cheer her lowered tax rates and European Freedom. But this country has nationalized health care and a frightening phalanx of targeted tax cuts and regulations which dictate much of a firm's hiring and trading practices.
But the macro view of prosperity's matching freedom is unassailable. Mary Anastasia O'Grady writes in the WJ Ed Page:
Take, for example, the difference between the wealth of "repressed" economies and "mostly unfree" economies. The per capita GDP of the former is $4,239 while of the latter it is a tad lower at $4,058. This suggests that reforms that move a country one step up in economic liberty, on average, produce no material benefit to the population.
O’Grady compares the Latin American countries which are her beat to the eastern European countries which have improved substantially under free-markets and flat taxes.
Call Jesse Jackson!
I cannot imagine how people can equate requiring a photo ID for voting with poll-tax-style disenfranchisement. A vote stolen by fraud is as much of a theft as stopping another from voting. You need an ID to board a plane or buy beer.
Well, much as I have celebrated TNR as a responsible voice from the other side, today's web article by John B. Judis is insane. Ballot Blocks: The Republican Bid to Suppress Minority Turnout.
Republicans have been working hard to nullify Democratic support from blacks and Hispanics. But instead of promoting programs that might appeal to these voters, they are trying to pass legislation that, while ostensibly aimed at reducing voting fraud, is in fact intended to depress turnout among minorities.
Imagine! The executive branch actively trying to reduce voter fraud!
All the diatribes are in there: no DMV offices in Atlanta, a $20 fee, percent of drivers' licenses by ethnicity.
Voter fraud is a huge problem in this country and the race card is played against any effort to fix it. Maybe we should just go to purple fingers...
Privatize the FDA
I think new media may be the answer to the FDA. I don't know whether overblown rhetoric will help or hurt but I contend that they kill a lot more people than hurricanes, wildfires and mudslides put together.
Instapundit links to "Fckng Ralph Nader, fckng Public Citizen" on the Making Light Blog. How's this for a Christmas Present from Ralph Nader and the FDA:
Cylert (generic name “pemoline”) has been the most effective treatment for Teresa’s narcolepsy in 24 years since she was first diagnosed. She’s been taking it for most of that time. Now it’s gone.
I am stunned to read about people traveling to the Pacific Rim to get procedures not allowed here. Take a minute and read some of the comments (there are a lot!). This seems common on this site and some of the MS blogs I get on.
Abolish the FDA. Privatization is the best option. Hands off our bodies! How's that for a motto?
UPDATE: I should have mentioned that I hijacked the discussion from blaming Mr. Nader to blaming the FDA. The delightfully subtitled "Armed and Dangerous" blog challenges her on this exact point.
Teresa, even as I feel your pain, I’m wondering if you’re going to learn the right lesson. The Cylert ban isn’t an accidental failure of the system, it’s an essential one. It wasn’t perpetrated by villains, but by well-intentioned people working the levers of a system designed to elevate “public safety” above individual choice. That system functioned as designed; it’s the design that’s broken.
V for Vendetta
Whilst waiting in the lobby of a theater after viewing 'The Chronicles of Narnia' (don't wait for a review from yours truly) I perused the posters for coming attractions. One caught my eye. It read - "PEOPLE SHOULD NOT BE AFRAID OF THEIR GOVERNMENTS. GOVERNMENTS SHOULD BE AFRAID OF THEIR PEOPLE." Hey, this could be my kind of movie, I thought to myself! The title was 'V for Vendetta' and it was billed as, "An uncompromising vision of the future from the creators of the Matrix trilogy." Yeah, the Wachowski brothers... red pill, blue pill. Very interesting, I thought.
Here's what they offer by way of synopsis on the official site:
Set against the futuristic landscape of totalitarian Britain, V For Vendetta tells the story of a mild-mannered young woman named Evey (NATALIE PORTMAN) who is rescued from a life-and-death situation by a masked man (HUGO WEAVING) known only as “V.” Incomparably charismatic and ferociously skilled in the art of combat and deception, V ignites a revolution when he urges his fellow citizens to rise up against tyranny and oppression. As Evey uncovers the truth about V’s mysterious background, she also discovers the truth about herself – and emerges as his unlikely ally in the culmination of his plan to bring freedom and justice back to a society fraught with cruelty and corruption.
Other than the fact that totalitarian Britain isn't very futuristic, this idea has promise. We'll see. It's at least worth keeping an eye on leading up to the March 17 premiere.
January 3, 2006
Thought for the day
Is Samizdata's quote of the day:
Last century over 170 million people were murdered by their own governments, and your government doesn't want you to have a gun. Doesn't that bother you just a little?
or "The Second Amendment ain't about duck hunting" -- Redneck bumper sticker
I resolve in 2006 to figure out how the trash business works. I have a Tuesday pickup, but if Monday is a holiday, it's bumped to Wed. I assume they pay double time on Saturday to make up, but why not pay more on the day and keep the schedule? Where does the extra day come from?
Plus, you never know if you'll be bumped or not. I was surprised when they showed up on the right day after Christmas; now they have not showed after New Year. From this I conclude that my trash is picked up by godless, heathen party animals...
I don't mind, I just don't get it -- anybody know how this works?
New Year at the VFW
From the red part of the purple Midwest, I found this email very moving.
Sugarchuck was playing a gig at a VFW and they were doing karaoke while the band set up and:
They had some sort of Karaoke thing going while we were bringing stuff in and they sang that Lee Greenwood song, "Bless the USA." Anyway, everyone on the dance floor formed a circle and held hands, raised their hands in the air and swayed back and forth singing at the top of their lungs. everyone else in the bar stood as well and raised their hands and sang.
Happy New Year to all who serve or have served.
Do Teachers Object?
The lead WSJ Editorial today (free site) suggests that the new accountability rules will hurt the Teachers' Unions. When members see how their dues are spent, they will demand reform.
If we told you that an organization gave away more than $65 million last year to Jesse Jackson's Rainbow PUSH Coalition, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Amnesty International, AIDS Walk Washington and dozens of other such advocacy groups, you'd probably assume we were describing a liberal philanthropy. In fact, those expenditures have all turned up on the financial disclosure report of the National Education Association, the country's largest teachers union.
I am all for transparency and I am all for anything that might harm a Teachers Union.
But I spent time over Christmas with some of my family members who are public school teachers. I don't know if it's a good sample or not. The people I am referring to are not "political" like I am. They don't read books, contribute, participate in GOTV drives. What they are -- frighteningly to me -- are complete Marxists. "How can we spend billions in Iraq and not provide a free ride to any kid at any college?" and "I am owed health care for life with no personal contribution because I've done a good job for my employer."
These people are kind and decent and intelligent. I cannot see any of them complaining about millions for Jesse Jackson and they will all applaud the donations to AIDS Walk and Transgender education.
The public unions do not require subterfuge -- they have successfully inculcated all private market instincts out of their members.
Let The Games Begin
WASHINGTON -- Lobbyist Jack Abramoff was expected to plead guilty to federal charges in Washington and Miami, clearing the way for him to cooperate in a massive government investigation of influence peddling involving members of Congress, lawyers said Tuesday.
I'd suggest everyone buy a fresh supply of barf bags. The moral preening from those who feel they can hurl stones from a safe distance will be nauseating.
But some key Republicans are going down on corruption charges in an election year with a media that is quite friendly to the opposition.
January 2, 2006
Madison and the NFL
Not sure where he would have come down on the DH or the infield fly rule, but I posit that President Madison would have appreciated the structure of the NFL playoff system. If nothing else, it proves the importance of the structure of laws and governments.
I heard a commentator discussing the playoffs yesterday. Some Kansas City players are understandably upset at fielding a great team, finishing 10-6, and watching the wild card games from their barcaloungers. They probably deserve a shot. But LaDanian Tomlinson of San Diego thinks they deserve a seed as well at 9-7.
Said commentator pointed out that every game counts in the NFL and that strikes me as true. The wild card brings in good teams who did not win their divisions, but the league has not devolved into the NBA/NHL world where you play all year to decide which two teams won't make it.
I think the NFL has structured it correctly. (Oh, and go Broncos!).
UPDATE: To tie my self-serving football post back to politics I offer this link. Jay Cost at RCP suggests that he President did not appreciate the structure of Congress any better than Mr. Tomlinson grasped the wild card. Good Read, hat-tip: Insty.
Posted by John Kranz at 11:54 AM
January 1, 2006
Respecting Your Mom
I pity tha fool that doesn't respect his mother.
But in this case, I kind of pity Mr T. I can't imagine this was his idea.
New Years Resolutions
I resolve to:
I've been paying for it all day, and I didn't even get drunk last night.
Oh, and Pepto-Bismol is the worst tasting and feeling medicinal product to yet cross my lips.