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The Babe Theory Of Political Movements.
Mar. 21, 2005 11:50 AM

Iran's Sham Election In Houston.
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Yes, Kanye, Bush Does Care.
Oct. 31, 2005 12:41 AM

Health Care vs. Wealth Care.
Nov. 23, 2005 3:28 PM

Americans Voting With Their Feet.
Nov. 30, 2005 1:33 PM

Idea Majorities Matter.
May 12, 2006 6:15 PM

Twilight Zone Economics.
Oct. 17, 2006 12:30 AM

The "Shrinking" Middle Class.
Dec. 13, 2006 1:01 PM

From Ashes, GOP Opportunities.
Dec. 18, 2006 6:37 PM

Battle Between Entitlements & Pork.
Dec. 21, 2006 12:31 PM

Let Economic Freedom Reign.
Dec. 22, 2006 10:22 PM

Biggest Health Care Moment In Decades.
July 25, 2007 4:32 PM

Unions Antithetical to Liberty.
May 28, 2008 11:12 PM

Right To Work States Rock.
June 9, 2008 12:25 PM



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Social Security Reform Thursday.
March 13, 2008

Caption Contest: Enter Today!
Due: July 29, 2008

The Carnival Of Classiness.
Mar. 14, 2006

Quotational Therapy: Obama.
Apr. 4, 2008

Mainstream Melee: Wolfowitz.
May 19, 2007

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Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 155 -- Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR)-

The Bush administration announced that it would tap into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to alleviate some of the supply disruptions caused by Hurricane Katrina. Shortly after 9/11, President Bush ordered the SPR filled. Over the past year or two, President Bush caught plenty of flak when his administration continued to fill the SPR when oil was 50 dollars a barrel. But filling the reserve was a priority for national security, so today the reserve is as full as it has ever been and near capacity (727 million barrels).

If OPEC (and the rest of the world) shut down oil shipments to the U.S., we could tap into the SPR for roughly two months and be just fine. The idea there is that two months is plenty of time to liberate a country or two and get the oil flowing again. Two months of no petroleum shipments to the U.S. would also put the serious hurt on the economies of those implementing the embargo. Thus, the existence of the SPR forces countries to think twice before using oil as a geostragetical weapon against America.

Some quick facts on the SPR:

* Average price paid for oil in the Reserve - $27.25 per barrel

* Maximum drawdown capability - 4.4 million barrels per day

* Time for oil to enter U.S. market - 13 days from Presidential decision

* Investment to date - More than $21 billion ($4 billion for facilities; $17 billion for crude oil)

* When did it first open? - On July 21, 1977, the first oil - approximately 412,000 barrels of Saudi Arabian light crude - was delivered to the SPR. Fill of the Nation's emergency oil reserve had begun.

Interestingly, the SPR is stored not in large above-ground tanks but a series of salt formations along the Gulf Coast. We pump oil into the ground, in other words:

Stockpiling oil in artificially-created caverns deep within the rock-hard salt costs historically about $3.50 per barrel in capital costs. Storing oil in aboveground tanks, by comparison, can cost $15 to $18 per barrel - or at least five times the expense. Also, because the salt caverns are 2000-4000 feet below the surface, geologic pressures will seal any crack that develops in the salt formation, assuring that no crude oil leaks from the cavern.

This is another neat national security feature: underground salt caverns, dispersed geographically. No single terrorist attack or other incident could knock out the SPR.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Consumer Confidence.

Posted by Will Franklin · 31 August 2005 10:48 PM · Comments (4)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 21.

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:


The actual caption:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (R) and US civil rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson shake hands at a press conference at the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, 29 August, 2005. President Chavez said he hoped to improve rocky relations with the United States(AFP/File)

There must be a better caption out there for this photograph.

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, September 6. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at WILLisms@gmail.com.

Last week's photo:


Winners from last week:



Months of training had paid off as Mark led the field going into round two at the regional Nun Tossing Finals.


Mr. Michael:

A stage crew member for the acclaimed live performance of "Inflatable Nuns" works to inflate one of fifty display Nuns before the main performance begins. Shows run through Saturday. (Stringer/Reuters)


Jim Rose:

Belgian sister Johanne Vertomme proves that virgins are, indeed, very uptight.

Captioning makes you 47% classier. Enter today!

Posted by Will Franklin · 31 August 2005 09:44 AM · Comments (31)

Some Call It A Bonfire/Carnival Of Classiness...

We call it "Classiness, All Around Us."


Click to explore more WILLisms.com.

In no particular order, WILLisms.com presents classiness from the blogosphere:


The 'F' Word In School.-


Red State Rant explains the utter silliness coming out of a school in its once-proud English education system, which is now allowing a certain number of F-bombs per student directed at teachers:

I do know that in the interest of "connecting with students", allowing or even condoning these words will make these young people sound like idiots who do not have the capacity nor inclination to expand their vocabularies.

Quite sad really.


I mean, really. Come on. If I am a 15-year-old rascal and am allowed a certain number of F-bombs directed at my teacher, I am going to take full advantage, going just under the limit (5 times PER LESSON), if only to force the teacher take the time to mark them down next to my name on the chalk board.

Seriously, WTF?


Sheehan Mania-


Citizen Smash (a.k.a. "The Indepundit") offers a pro-Bush infiltrator's take on Camp Sheehan in Crawford:

But just a few minutes later, she emerged from the trailer, smiling, and performing for the cameras. Like the chicken at the local carnival that plays tic tac toe, she eagerly performs for any microphone. She is relentless, and professional, well financed and on message.

And the message is “All things bad are America’s fault”.

Once again, the left shoots and misses. Cindy Sheehan's warped anti-Americanism is so thoroughly objectionable that whatever sympathy she might have inspired has become moot. Supporters of finishing the job in Iraq dodged a bullet with Mrs. Sheehan. Had her mind not been so polluted with anti-semitic and anti-American conspiracy mumbo-jumbo, and had she not been so closely allied with disreputable groups, her story may have resonated better with average Americans.


The Summer Of Rove, The Summer Of Sheehan-


Blogs For Bush spots an interesting pattern in the news this summer:

As you can see, the popularity of the Cindy Sheehan story in the blogosphere is panning out in very much the same way as the Karl Rove story. Both have peaked with the same percentage of bloggers discussing them and then saw a drop in popularity. Karl Rove is naturally going to be a continued topic of conservation, primarily because, with or without a fake scandal, he is one President Bush's top advisors... and it seems his popularity in the blogosphere has returned to normal. Cindy Sheehan's rise from total obscurity is likely to end back into near obscurity.

And Matt (of Blogs For Bush) followed up with a few more posts on the subject [Part I, Part III, Part IV]. An interesting pattern, to be sure. And after this week, Sheehan's 15 minutes will almost certainly be up... about 16 minutes too late.




Right Wing News blog offers some answers to some questions people may be having on Iraq and its Constitution:

...not only does the Iraqi Constitution not create a theocracy, it has numerous clauses that guarantee the religious rights & freedoms of all Iraqis.


The Constitution also condemns terrorism, guarantees freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and property rights. It may not be a perfect document, but in many ways it's better than many people may have expected.

Iraq's Constitutional hang-ups have not really centered around whether Sharia law should govern Iraq or not. The overwhelming majority of Iraqis don't want that. The disagreements have centered around how to divide the natural resources and how decentralized or centralized the government ought to be.


No Dice For Aussie Sharia-


Speaking of Sharia law, Gates of Vienna blog notes that Australia is just saying no to special, separate, carved-out legal jurisdictions for fundamentalist Muslims:

It doesn’t look like there will be any Ottawa-style Sharia courts in Sydney real soon. And don’t hold your breath for the Law schools to start hiring Sharia professors.

Sounds like Australia has made a firm commitment to reality. How refreshing.

Canada could indeed learn something from this. When I investigated the Iranian elections here in Houston and spoke with a regime agent at length a couple months back now, he assured me that Islam would conquer the entire globe. He boasted particularly proudly about how Canada is moving toward a dual-judiciary, with special Sharia law jurisdiction for Muslims.

Wake up, people. That's not tolerance, it is submission.


The Bizarro Constitution-

Mr. Right offers up the dream U.S. Constitution for liberals:
Amendment I

Congress The Courts shall make allow no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech but only if it agrees with the progressive point of view, otherwise it is hate speech...

A truly horrific vision for America. But one that is shared by the far left.


Dr. Rangel, Medicine Man-


Angry in the Great White North blog (via Michelle Malkin) notes Charlie Rangel's weird comments on Vice-president Dick Cheney:

I wonder if Charles Rangel will introduce some kind of legislation requiring administration officials to submit to a physical in the case of excessive grunting.

Charlie Rangel is a perfect example of majority insurance for the GOP. If the Democrats were to somehow take the House, Congressman Rangel would become one of the top 5 or so important individuals in shaping American economic policy.



Fox News Dominates Cable News-


The GOP Vixen blog notes that Fox News is destroying its competitors:

CNN's final gasp that they remain relevant has been the spike in ratings they've enjoyed during major news events. In other words they found shelter in the idea that, "when it matters people turn to CNN." Yeah, well, final gasp no more. For Big Events people are now turning to FOX by nearly 2 to 1. MSNBC's numbers are just laughable.

In launching Fox News nearly a decade ago, Rupert Murdoch and company understood that there was a vast and untapped market in the United States for presenting the news in a unique way. After all, far more Americans call themselves conservative than liberal, and far more Americans vote for Republicans than Democrats.

That worked for a while in terms of grabbing market share, but lately Fox News has grown a little too tabloidy for my taste. Sure, that gets the ratings, but as long as Fox News has a reputation for being "right wing," it would be nice if it worked a little harder to advance the conservative agenda.

Because Fox News spends so much time on missing persons and such, it allows the rest of the mainstream media to drive the agenda, and it's a liberal agenda they are driving (Rove, Sheehan, etc.).




Patrick Ruffini's straw poll concluded with a mild amount of controversy for being unscientific, but the results are still moderately useful:

As of 7 a.m. EDT on August 26, with a whopping 16,437 votes cast, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani wins the Big One with 30.0%. Virginia Senator George Allen places second with 20.1%, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is a strong third at 14.3%, and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney finishes fourth with 9.1%. On the fantasy ballot, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice laps the field with 37.7%, with Vice President Dick Cheney at 14.0%, Florida Governor Jeb Bush at 9.2%, and former Senator Fred Thompson at 8.1%.

I would have liked to see a poll with South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, just to name a couple who were not included. While the poll is entirely unscientific, it is interesting that conservative blog readers are far less likely to support John McCain than respondents to establishment media polls. Right-of-center blog readers also seem more willing than one might imagine to accept someone who is not a proven conservative on cultural/social issues, such as Rudy or Condi.

In terms of predicting the 2008 race, I tend to lean toward a relative unknown, and an outsider, emerging with a lot of fresh excitement and enthusiasm. Someone who has some legislative experience in Washington and/or executive experience in the real world, but is not necessarily on every short list today.

As we get closer to 2008, I will try to spotlight a few individuals who might fit those criteria.


Condi For President-


Speaking of 2008, Rudy Rummel has given his endorsement to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice:

She has the knowledge, experience, will, organizational ability, values, and the spine to be president. And she is an avid supporter of the democratic peace and freedom.

I could easily get behind the Condi '08 phenomenon, but I don't see the "Draft Rice" grassroots surge happening with so many other attractive candidates crowding the field.


Oozing Uzbekistan-


Gateway Pundit notes that the U.S. military leaving Uzbekistan was something entirely expected and planned for in advance:

Rumsfeld secured approval from Kyrgyzstan to continue using the Manas airbase there, and from Tajikistan to maintain overflight and refueling rights for U.S. aircraft.

Last week, U.S. Central Command chief Gen. John Abizaid another regional country, Turkmenistan, for talks with senior political and military figures.

This is actually a win for the "democratic revolution crowd." When we "depended" on the Uzbeki regime's good favor, we were-- out of necessity-- relatively muted when the regime massacred roughly 500 pro-democracy demonstrators and silenced the media. We objected anyway, with the full knowledge that it would lead to the U.S. being expelled from the country, militarily.

It's another example of putting our money where our mouth is, backing up our values over short-term stability, and it could allow us to promote democracy in Uzbekistan without tempering our words.


Chinese Democracy-


In The Bullpen blog notes that China is worried that people might start getting crazy ideas in their heads from voting on a reality TV show:

I still predict China to have a revolution within the next three decades and a move towards a democratic state. Who knows. Maybe reality television will help lead the way.

It is difficult to imagine a thriving Chinese middle class participating in the global economy and observing the rights the citizens of other nations have, not demanding gradually higher level of democracy and freedom at the very least. China's concerns with reality television voting ought to indicate a sense of insecurity the regime has over its long-term survival prospects.




Kip Esquire notes a complementing decision to the Kelo ruling:

Of course, restricting private development is nothing new -- property rights infringements such as zoning and historic preservation have a long and sordid history. But now such laws are almost extraneous. Local governments can simply invoke Kelo, or more correctly, "reverse-Kelo."

Because at the end of the day that's Kelo's true holding, which might actually be dubbed "Kelo-plus" -- "public use" now means anything and everything that the local hack politicians want it to mean.

If you are a Republican planning on seeking the 2008 nomination, get on this. Now. Especially if you are a Governor. The GOP base will reward you for your proactive efforts on protecting property rights.


Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.-


Sunny Sidhu, of Students for Saving Social Security, notes the weirdness that is Rock the Vote:

One has to wonder why an organization that claims to be so "non-partisan" is going ridiculously out of their way to show that they're as partisan as it gets. The youth of America deserve true representation, not disingenuous representation from political hacks who blindly tout one particular side's views while smearing, distorting, and misrepresenting the other side's views.

On the bright side, at least we now get to laugh at hilarious arguments from RTV bloggers like Terrence. You can't argue with a little bit of entertainment!

I had not even visited Rock the Vote's website in months now, but their new guy is seriously hilarious. And if you notice the comments on the RTV blog, they are still as pro-reform (and anti-Rock the Vote) as ever.

Liberals don't quite get that when they become caricatures of themselves, the vast majority of regular and fair-minded people will revolt in revulsion. Rock the Vote is an old and creaky organization, an aging, senile former rock star with ever-diminishing relevance to the youth vote. It is only a matter of time before Rock the Vote gets the kind of critical scrutiny and negative attention it deserves, in a larger forum.


Move On, Already-


Andrew Roth, over at the Club for Growth blog, notes the eerie similarities between the rhetoric from the left 150 years ago and today:

MoveOn.org and Karl Marx — two peas in a pod

Marxism is indeed the driving intellectual force behind the modern Democratic Party. And MoveOn.org is the organizational force behind the intellectual force.


Also, don't forget to check out all the old Trivia Tidbits Of the Day, the Reform Thursday series, the Quotational Therapy sessions, and the Wednesday Caption Contest (entries are due each Tuesday at 11:59 PM Central Standard Time).

Last Week's Classiness Certification from WILLisms.com:

*Aug. 23, 2005.

WILLisms.com offers a weekly classiness roundup as a weekly feature, every Tuesday, with 15 blog posts deemed classy. The criteria for submissions: incisive original analysis, quirky topics nobody else is covering, fantastic graphics, or other posts that took a lot of work. We love to spread the word on upcoming blogs, being that WILLisms.com also fits that description. If you would like to nominate a post on your blog or another blog for inclusion, email us at WILLisms@gmail.com. Write "Classy Nomination" in the subject. You can also utilize this page to make your submissions. The deadline is each Monday at 11:59 PM Central Time.


Posted by Will Franklin · 30 August 2005 06:52 PM · Comments (3)


Just talked to the Mrs. on the... delayed... phone.

She made it safely to Angola. And she has officially been to more countries than I have, especially if you include her refueling stop in Cape Verde.

She's there three weeks on, three weeks off.

I would say the blogging pace will pick up again, but I may primarily utilize the three weeks to work on my thesis, so I can't promise anything.

In about a month, incidentally, I will need some guest bloggers to take over for about 10 days.

Posted by Will Franklin · 30 August 2005 02:20 PM · Comments (9)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 154 -- Consumer Confidence Index.

Consumer Confidence Resilient-

The experts believe that higher gasoline prices necessarily lead to lower consumer spending. But consumer spending has remained strong as the price of a barrel of oil has surged near/above $70. And the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index actually rose in August:


Interestingly, the August Consumer Confidence Index survey pointed to an important milestone:

The employment picture was also upbeat. Consumers saying jobs are “hard to get” decreased to 23.2 percent from 23.8 percent, while those claiming jobs are “plentiful” rose to 23.5 percent from 22.9 percent. For the first time since October 2001, consumers claiming jobs are plentiful outnumber those claiming jobs are hard to get.

Hurricane Katrina, however, could pound away at more than lives and property. It could negatively affect consumer confidence, as well, if energy supplies are disrupted by the storm.

But the Consumer Confidence Index has remained stoic thus far in the face of record after record close for the price of oil. Why?

The partial explanation is that oil prices are still far below true inflation-adjusted records. Second, energy prices were unusually low for much of the past several years. Third, even if oil prices do reach inflation-adjusted record highs, our economy is far less dependent on oil than it was in the 1970s.

Contrast that with some of the emerging economies in Asia, which are now facing rationing and long lines at the gas pump:

Asia is a land of artificially cheap energy. With few exceptions (most notably Japan and South Korea), the region's manufacturers and households aren't paying full fare for the fuels needed to cook their meals, cool their homes, power their cars or run their factories. Instead, those costs are now borne by governments or state enterprises mandated to sell power on the cheap. But the logic of this largesse could easily backfire, and magnify rather than dampen the energy shock.

Take India. Oil subsidies could backfire in a big way:

The government, which draws critical support from anti-free-market leftist parties, has raised energy prices just 20 percent since June 2004, but the cost of importing crude oil has jumped 60 percent over the same period. The result: state-run oil companies incurred losses of more than $281 million during the first quarter of fiscal 2005-06. Today India relies on imports for 70 percent of its crude, and unless the global price falls, the cost that subsidies impose on Indian oil companies is forecast to hit $9.15 billion this year. Economist D. H. Pai Panandiker calcu—lates that for every $10-a-barrel increase in global crude-oil prices, India's gross domestic product shrinks by 0.5 percent.

Then, there's Indonesia, which faces the prospect of getting kicked out of OPEC, despite its vast oil resources:

Despite huge energy reserves, the sprawling island nation is now a net importer, due to inefficient efforts to exploit its resource, and the fact that subsidized prices artificially increase demand. Jakarta buys oil at the global market price and sells it domestically at the equivalent of $30 a barrel. The cost of subsidizing oil is expected to reach $14 billion, or 2.4 percent of GDP this year, up from 1.3 percent last year—sparking fears of a broader financial impact.

Thus far, the American economy has responded well to higher energy prices, running against the conventional wisdom. It will be interesting to see how oil-dependent economies respond to persistent elevated energy prices.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Unemployment and Government Spending.

Posted by Will Franklin · 30 August 2005 11:00 AM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 153 -- Global Unemployment.

Unemployment and Government Spending-


Centre for the New Europe (.pdf).

Incidentally, the most recent standardized unemployment rates are:

United States: 5.0%
United Kingdom: 4.7%
European Union: 8.0%
Germany: 9.5%
Italy: 7.8%
France: 9.7%


OECD (.pdf).


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Supreme Court Nominations.

Posted by Will Franklin · 29 August 2005 07:35 PM · Comments (3)

Korean Revolution.

One Free Korea blog is hosting this week's Carnival of Revolutions, and it is a good one. Go check it out.

Posted by Will Franklin · 29 August 2005 10:10 AM · Comments (0)

Quotational Therapy: Part 40 -- Karl Marx, On Free Trade.

Karl Marx, On Free Trade-


Karl Marx had quite a lot to say on the issue of free trade during his life. Free trade, in the mid-19th century, was not a new concept in the grand scheme of history, but it was frightening and new to those, such as Marx, without a grasp on reality. Take a look at what Marx said in a speech to the Democratic Association of Brussels at its public meeting of January 9, 1848:

In 1829, there were in Manchester 1,088 cotton spinners employed in 36 factories. In 1841, there were no more than 448, and they tended 53,353 more spindles than the 1,088 spinners did in 1829. In manual labor had increased in the same proportion as the productive power, the number of spinners ought to have reaches the figure of 1,848; improved machinery had, therefore, deprived 1,100 workers of employment.

Update a few of those numbers, and it is the same rhetoric we hear from a significant portion of the Democratic Party today.

It was foolish then, and it is foolish now. The economy is not a zero-sum game. Rich nations must not grow wealthier at the expense of poor nations. Today, each part of the integrated global economy grows wealthier, together.

Progress can be temporarily painful for some, but imagine if Manchester had protected the jobs of all those spinners, for the rest of their lives. All that would have done is provide disincentives for innovation, disincentives for the creation of newer and better jobs, and a lower standard of living for the society as a whole.

And, obviously, those lost jobs in 1830s Manchester eliminated inefficiencies and lowered prices, while allowing the creation of new jobs. Today, Manchester has lower unemployment, better jobs, and a higher average standard of living than Marx could have ever imagined.

But Marx was a tyrant and thus incapable of conceptualizing the power of freedom, both politically and economically. And he made his feelings on freedom perfectly clear in the same speech:

Gentlemen! Do not allow yourselves to be deluded by the abstract word freedom. Whose freedom? It is not the freedom of one individual in relation to another, but the freedom of capital to crush the worker.

Why should you desire to go on sanctioning free competition with this idea of freedom, when this freedom is only the product of a state of things based upon free competition?

We have shown what sort of brotherhood free trade begets between the different classes of one and the same nation. The brotherhood which free trade would establish between the nations of the Earth would hardly be more fraternal. To call cosmopolitan exploitation universal brotherhood is an idea that could only be engendered in the brain of the bourgeoisie. All the destructive phenomena which unlimited competition gives rise to within one country are reproduced in more gigantic proportions on the world market. We need not dwell any longer upon free trade sophisms on this subject...

The recent rise in anti-free trade sentiment among elected Democrats is troubling, to be sure, but it is fairly predictable given that Marxism is the intellectual soul force of the modern Democratic Party.


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Patrick Henry's "Give Me Liberty" Speech.

The right quote can be therapeutic, so tune in to WILLisms.com for quotational therapy every Monday and Friday.

Posted by Will Franklin · 29 August 2005 09:49 AM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 152 -- Supreme Court Nominations, Burger Through Breyer.

Supreme Court Nominations, Burger Through Breyer-

With Congress returning to Washington soon to begin work on the Roberts nomination, here is a little perspective on Supreme Court nominations through the years:



If Robert receives an up-or-down vote by September 26 of this year, the time frame from nomination to confirmation will match the average of the past three dozen years.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Peacetime Military Deaths.

Posted by Will Franklin · 28 August 2005 03:34 PM · Comments (1)

ABC's This Week, With George Stephanopoulos.

I rarely watch the ABC program This Week, With George Stephanopoulos. Increasingly, I avoid the traditional Sunday morning talk shows I've been watching since I was a wee lad.

But at the gym this morning, it was on the television in front of me, and it got me thinking about how on earth this show remains on television. Sure, its ratings are abysmal and shrinking, especially relative to NBC's Meet The Press; sure, newsmakers rarely choose George Stephanopoulos' show to make news; and, sure, the weakness of the George Stephanopulos likely carries over into the cheapening of the overall ABC News brand name.

But it still irritates me that this show remains a driving force in politics today, due to its prominent time and prominent network location.

So here is the formula for This Week:

Host- George Stephanopoulos.

Democratic Party operative, Clinton campaign guy. Liberal, through and through.

Contributor #1- Cokie Roberts.

Feminist. NPR-nik. Establishment 1960s liberal. Washington insider, through and through.

Contributor #2- Fareed Zakaria.

Pessimistic "realist" foreign policy guy. Part of the international relations establishment. Skeptic on the march of liberty concept. In the right-of-center to middle, ideologically; frequent critic of Bush; not a fan of the GOP.

Contributor #3- George Will.

Conservative. Almost libertarian. But very insider establishment Washington. Outnumbered often, and part of the elite media, he often caves to pressure, conceding arguments when and where he shouldn't. One of the more important conservative proponents of the past couple of decades. Not a loyalty-to-GOP kind of guy.

Guest #1- Joe Biden or his equivalent.

Guest number one is typically the Democrat most willing to call for the firing of Rumsfeld or Rove or whomever else in the Bush administration the establishment is targeting that week. Closing Guantanamo is another standard topic.

Guest #2- Kinky Friedman or his equivalent.

Guest number two is usually the irrelevant outsider. It could be an author, a third party candidate running for Texas Governor, or any other number of outsider types. This guest fulfills the "thinking outside the establishment" requirement.

Guest #3- Chuck Hagel or his equivalent.

Guest number three is there to balance the first guest, thus a Republican. But not just any Republican. A Republican typically peeved with Bush or the administration for one reason or another. This week, it was John Thune, who had fought hard-- and won-- to keep South Dakota's Ellsworth Air Base open against the recommendation of the Pentagon. So he was a perfect complement to the "fire Rumsfeld" jive from Biden.

Then, near the end of the program, there are three "funnies" from talk shows.

Funnies #1- Jon Stewart doing some anti-Bush, anti-Iraq bit. Typically, he just plays a clip out of context, then opens his eyes wide, then puts his face in his hands, then sighs profusely, then shakes his head around like he's doing a quadruple-take. Never funny.

Funnies #2- Something from Bill Maher or his equivalent. Who even watches Bill Maher? I didn't even realize his show was still on the air. Typically anti-Bush or anti-GOP. Marginally funny.

Funnies #3- Something from Conan O'Brien or Craig Ferguson or Jimmy Kimmel or Jay Leno or David Letterman... Usually very funny. Typically not partisan sniping. More traditional political humor. Stuff that is funny to anyone watching, no matter the political stripe. This week, it was Donald Rumsfeld edited to seem like he was solving a Rubik's Cube with his famously active hands while he was fielding a question at a press conference.

In Memoriam-

Then there's the list of deaths from the past week. Quasi-famous people (politicians, actors, artists, musicians, athletes, and inventors) first, then soldiers second, because quasi-famous people are more important, obviously.

And based on the Trivia Tidbit yesterday, I can't help but wonder if the Stephanopoulos show would even be showing all of the deaths of soldiers that would still be happening without any Iraq war.

Who knows. Personally, I am not the kind who has gotten upset at the alleged politicization of war casualties on Nightline, for example.

Is Ted Koppel making an anti-war political statement? Likely.

Is Stephanopoulos? Almost certainly.

But it is still a legitimate way to honor the sacrifice of those who gave their lives for the cause of freedom. I tend to react the way most Americans during World War II probably reacted to casualty reports. Not "let's cut and run."

More: "Let's finish the job. Let's not let their deaths be in vain."


During the show at some point, there is also always a discussion of polls, but only liberal-leaning establishment media polls, never the more accurate Rasmussen poll or any poll that may show support for Social Security reform or Bush or the GOP.

And that's the formula. And it is awful.

Posted by Will Franklin · 28 August 2005 12:23 PM · Comments (6)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 151 -- Peacetime Military Casualties.

War and Peace-

From 1983 to 1996, more than 18,000 soldiers died. That averages to more than 1,300 a year, far more than have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan each year.

Read Sgt. Joe Roche's entire op-ed in The Washington Times.

And more tidbits, including the fact that the military represents roughly 1% of the American workforce, hardly evidence of some sort of fascist, jingoistic military-industrial complex overrunning our culture:

At present, there are 1.4 million active-duty military personnel in all branches, combined. That's down from 2.2 million in 1986, a one-third reduction. We had 3.5 million in 1968 during the Vietnam War, 3.6 million in 1952 during the Korean War and more than 12 million in 1945 during World War II.

Interestingly, it is typically those on the left more than the right calling for a universal military draft today.

I wonder why?

[That was a rhetorical question.]


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Unemployment Gap.

Posted by Will Franklin · 27 August 2005 10:40 AM · Comments (3)

Quotational Therapy: Part 39 -- Patrick Henry's "Give Me Liberty" Speech.

Patrick Henry, "Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death" Speech-

They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable--and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace-- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

Read the entire March 23, 1775 speech here.


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

McCain On Terror.

The right quote can be therapeutic, so tune in to WILLisms.com for quotational therapy every Monday and Friday.

Posted by Will Franklin · 26 August 2005 01:18 PM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 150 -- Shrinking Unemployment Rate Race Gap.

Historically Low Unemployment-



National Review Online

An interesting and underappreciated trend, to be sure.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Housing Bubble.

Posted by Will Franklin · 26 August 2005 10:03 AM · Comments (1)

Social Security Reform Thursday: Week Thirty -- Reform Is A Better Deal Than The Status Quo.


Thursdays are good days for reform, because they fall between Wednesdays and Fridays.

That's why WILLisms.com offers a chart or graph, every Thursday, pertinent to Social Security reform.

This week's topic:

Social Security Reform: A Better Deal Than The Broken Status Quo.

When Congress returns from recess in the coming weeks, they will take up the issue of Social Security reform. Right now, there is significant inertia behind GROW Accounts in the House of Representatives (.pdf).

GROW Accounts should not be the ultimate goal of Social Security reformers, but they are a great first step.

Here's why.

Take a look at the problems with Social Security:


For the next decade, there is a temporary surplus in the Social Security trust fund (which isn't really much of a trust fund). Suddently, after 2017, the surplus becomes a deficit. In the meantime, that surplus money is being raided by Congress to pay for highway pork-- and war-- and other projects Congress deems worthy at the moment.

So why not pass something to stop the raid on the temporary surplus, putting the funds into personal accounts, owned by individual Americans?

It is a no brainer. Stop the raid. It's also politically astute. It creates personal accounts, which will prove to the skeptics out there that "privatization" is far from a risky scheme. It will please elderly Americans who will not see a change in their benefits, paving the way for more significant reforms in the near future.

And personal accounts are just a better deal than the broken status quo.

Right down the road from me, in Galveston, Texas, the city took a "risky gamble" years ago, a gamble that paid dividends, literally.

Galveston was one of a few cities in the early 1980s that opted out of Social Security in favor of personal accounts in the market:


And it worked. Like clockwork.

And it will work for the United States.

Let's build some momentum behind more serious reform with GROW Accounts. And let's do it A.S.A.P.

The clock is ticking.


Previous Reform Thursday graphics can be seen here:

-Week One (Costs Exceed Revenues).
-Week Two (Social Security Can't Pay Promised Benefits).
-Week Three (Americans Getting Older).
-Week Three, bonus (The Templeton Curve).
-Week Four (Fewer Workers, More Retirees).
-Week Five (History of Payroll Tax Base Increases).
-Week Six (Seniors Living Longer).
-Week Six, bonus (Less Workers, More Beneficiaries).
-Week Seven (History of Payroll Tax Increases).
-Week Seven, bonus (Personal Accounts Do Achieve Solvency).
-Week Eight (Forty Year Trend Of Increasing Mandatory Spending).
-Week Nine (Diminishing Benefits Sans Reform).
-Week Ten (Elderly Dependence On Social Security).
-Week Eleven (Entitlement Spending Eating The Budget).
-Week Twelve (Benefit Comparison, Bush's Plan versus No Plan).
-Week Thirteen (Younger Americans and Lifecycle Funds).
-Week Fourteen (The Thrift Savings Plan).
-Week Fifteen (Understanding Progressive Indexing).
-Week Sixteen (The Graying of America).
-Week Seventeen (Debunking Myths).
-Week Eighteen (Debunking Myths).
-Week Nineteen (Reform Needed Sooner Rather Than Later).
-Week Twenty (Global Success With Personal Accounts).
-Week Twenty-One (GROW Accounts: Stopping The Raid).
-Week Twenty-Two (Millions of Lockboxes).
-Week Twenty-Three (Support for Ryan-DeMint).
-Week Twenty-Four (KidSave Accounts).
-Week Twenty-Five (Latinos and Social Security).
-Week Twenty-Six (AmeriSave).
-Week Twenty-Seven (Cost Of Doing Nothing).
-Week Twenty-Eight (Chile).
-Week Twenty-Nine (Entitlement Spending Out Of Control).

Tune into WILLisms.com each Thursday for more important graphical data supporting Social Security reform.

Posted by Will Franklin · 25 August 2005 09:42 PM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 149 -- Housing Bubble.

Housing Bubble-

Yesterday, the Commerce Department announced that new home sales increased by 6.5% in July, and a 27.7% increase since July 2004 (.pdf). This came on the heels of news on Tuesday from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) that existing home sales dipped in the month of July by 2.6% below the record pace in June (.pdf).

The Tuesday slowdown spooked "the market/Wall Street" a bit, which is sort of silly, considering July was still the third strongest month on record for existing home sales, after June and April of this year.

All of this brings up the spectre of a housing bubble.

So is there a housing bubble in the U.S.?

The Dallas Fed notes that Texas, for one, is not at risk for a housing bubble burst:


USA TODAY, meanwhile, notes:

Fifty-three metropolitan areas representing 31% of the total U.S. housing market are considered extremely overvalued and confront a high risk of future price corrections, a study conducted by National City Corp. says. The study determines a market extremely overvalued if prices are 30% above where the study estimates they should be based on historic price data, area income, mortgage rates and population density.

The top 10 overvalued areas, according to National City Corp.:


The bottom 10 overvalued areas (or, the top ten undervalued areas), according to National City Corp.:


Economics Professor Gary Wolfram of Hillsdale College cautions against housing bubble hysteria, and explains why some areas have seen explosive housing price growth:

If you look closely at such studies, you will find that housing markets in cities that are becoming bedroom communities for larger, wealthier cities, or are becoming a substitute location for another high-priced housing market, will have prices that are higher than you would expect from current residents. But this is simply a reflection of the fact that higher-income people from nearby areas are taking advantage of the low housing prices in the target city and moving in, bidding up the price of the houses that are for sale. Since the housing prices used in these studies would be the value of the houses that are sold, but the incomes of the city will be the incomes of the current residents, it will appear that housing prices are very high relative to income.

An example should make this clear. Suppose there are 1,000 families in Suburbia. The average income of people in Suburbia is $40,000, and the average house value is $100,000. Suburbia is located 50 miles from Big City, which has 500,000 residents, an average income of $250,000, and an average house value of $500,000. Ten residents of Big City decide to take advantage of the low housing prices in Suburbia and move in. Since there are only a few houses for sale in Suburbia, they end up paying $150,000 for each of the 10 houses. It will then appear that houses in Suburbia are now worth $150,000.

The 10 new residents will only increase the average income in Suburbia by a small fraction, but it will appear that houses are now much more valuable there. Thus a study would show housing prices are rising much more rapidly in Suburbia than incomes are, and that a “housing bubble” exists.

Nearly every day, the net effect of the economic indicators (good minus bad) remains surprisingly strong. Interest rates are still historically low. Job growth has been robust. GDP growth has outpaced expectations. As long as the Fed does not suddenly jolt interest rates upward, and as long as we have a growing population and growing economy, with a limited number of places to live in the hottest housing markets, the fears of a housing crash/correction are legitimate but greatly exaggerated.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Net Migration (Immigration/Emigration).

Posted by Will Franklin · 25 August 2005 09:42 AM · Comments (3)

Carnival of Crazy.

Some amazingly crazy stuff over at File It Under. Go check out the Carnival of Crazy.

Posted by Will Franklin · 24 August 2005 08:57 PM · Comments (5)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 20.

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:


The actual caption:

Belgian sister Johanne Vertomme (L) 29, from Loppem, Belgium is seen dancing with Mark (no surname given), a missionary, during the Catholic World Youth Day, in Cologne Germany, August 20, 2005. The Belgian nun's acrobatic and indecorous dancing with the missionary during the Catholic World Youth Day in Germany over the weekend earned her a reprimand from her mother superior, a Belgian paper said August 22, 2005. 'I wouldn't do this at home but at such occasions I get carried away by the enthusiasm of the group,' the 29-year-old told the paper later. 'My mother superior raised the issue today: she thinks I should watch out a bit and bear in mind that I represent our community,' Vertommen said. Pope Benedict attended the celebration at the Marienfeld, outside Cologne, in the presence of some 700,000 people. Picture taken August 20, 2005. QUALITY FROM SOURCE BELGIUM OUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY NO THIRD PARTY SALES (Stringer/Reuters)

There must be a better caption out there for this photograph.

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, August 30. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at WILLisms@gmail.com.

Last week's photo:


Winners from last week:


Ben Evans:

The Say Dez School of Safe Driving proudly announces the opening of their new drive thru window.


Rodney Dill:

"As fate would have it, Mr. Joel, you have come to the right place."


Darin Hauser (via email):

From the producers who brought you TLC's "What Not to Wear" comes the new hit "How Not to Drive" Thursdays at 9

Honorable Mention #1-


Dez regretted the wording of his "Drive In Special" sales ad.

Honorable Mention #2-

Kyle Sykes (via email):

"While he admitted responsibility for the accident which occurred at approximately 1:30am on Wednesday, Ted Kennedy didn't report it to authorities until 10:30 the following morning."

Captioning is a fashionable and worthy endeavor, and it will make you attractive to members of the opposite (or same, if that's your thing) sex. Enter today!

Posted by Will Franklin · 24 August 2005 10:05 AM · Comments (17)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 148 -- Net Migration Rate.

Immigration/Emigration Ratios-


Notice how low France is, even with significant and well-known inflows of immigrants from North Africa and former French colonies. Sort of validates this article:

FRANCE is facing an unprecedented new-generation exodus as many of its disillusioned younger people leave in search of a better life abroad.

French organisations offering help to those seeking to emigrate have reported an increase in requests for assistance from young people.

Fed up with a country they describe as rigid, racist and old-fashioned, French youngsters are opting for a new start in Britain, Canada, America or New Zealand where they can find housing and jobs more easily than in France.

Unemployment among the under-25s in France stands at 23.3 per cent, and 40 per cent of 18-30 year-olds describe their financial state as "difficult".

So sad.

And, just for the record, I have no idea how (or if) this figure measures illegal immigration, particularly into the United States. I presume this is exclusively legal immigration.

Others of note:
Net immigration-
Russia: 1.03
Sweden: 1.67
Switzerland: 3.58
Denmark: 2.53
Belgium: 1.23
Croatia: 1.58
Singapore: 10.30
Hong Kong: 5.24
New Zealand: 3.83
Canada: 5.90

European Union: 1.50

Net emigration-
Mexico: -4.57
Cuba: -1.58
Bolivia: -1.27
Brazil: -0.03
Colombia: -0.31
Dominican Republic: -3.02
Ecuador: -6.07
El Salvador: -3.67
Guatemala: -1.63
Honduras: -1.95
Nicaragua: -1.19
Panama: -0.86
Peru: -1.03
China: -0.40
Saudi Arabia: -3.85
Pakistan: -1.67



Previous Trivia Tidbit: The U.S. Senate, Hard At Work.

Posted by Will Franklin · 24 August 2005 10:00 AM · Comments (2)

Seriously, Go To The Buzz.

Go to The Buzz.

It's just about the only first person Cindy Sheehan coverage worth anything. Awesome.

Posted by Will Franklin · 23 August 2005 05:43 PM · Comments (4)

Some Call It A Bonfire/Carnival Of Classiness...

We call it "Classiness, All Around Us."


Click to explore more WILLisms.com.

In no particular order, WILLisms.com presents classiness from the blogosphere (100% more classy, this week only!):


Vietnam Syndrome-


WunderKraut examines the Left's obsession with Vietnam:

...I really hope the Left can put aside their sickness long enough to see that they do not want one either. For common decency and respect for human life, we have to stay. Even if you feel that Bush is the biggest terrorist threat to the world and we should have never invaded Iraq, can’t you see that we have to stay? Lives of hundreds of thousands depend on Iraq being stable before we leave.

Chuck Hagel's recent parallel between Iraq and Vietnam was not helpful. At all. That kind of foolishness plays right into the "useful idiot" strategy the insurgents/foreign terrorists/former regime elements in Iraq are counting on. The bad guys don't have to win, militarily, or strategically, they just have to win over a few unprincipled, flippant individuals like Hagel.


Fisking An Overrated Right-Of-Center Blogger-


Bryan Preston, guest-blogging for Michelle Malkin, is one of the few high-traffic bloggers willing to rip the blogosphere's worst conservative blogger for his limp-wristedness on Iraq, although Preston does so far too respectfully:

This is straight out of the WhyCan'tTheyJustMoveOn.org playbook--all the left's anti-war canards are there. WMD weren't the only cause for war, as the Prof surely knows by now--human rights and the attempt to break the back of tyranny in the MidEast were part of the deal from the beginning.

I don't get this Bainbridge character, and why he occasionally gets the attention of the entire right-of-center blogosphere. Is it because he is a rare conservative in academia?

He opposed Social Security reform earlier this year, based on flawed, nonsensical reasons. He's now buckled under the pressure (maybe from drinking too much wine) on Iraq. And now he's worried that the Iraq war has distracted from the advancing of conservative movement?

Newsflash for the Professor: Social Security reform was your chance to move the conservative movement forward, this year. You missed the train. You, therefore, have no right to complain about the conservative movement's lack of progress (which is not even an accurate assessment, given the recent successes of the conservative movement).


The Jew Couple-


He's not a law professor who opposes Social Security reform, but if you want right-of-center analysis on legal issues, choose A Stitch In Haste blog instead. Try this post out on the "Jew couple" kerfuffle:

The couple was not denied service. They were not charged a different price. They were not publicly embarrassed (until they themselves chose to go public). Where exactly is the discrimination?

There is no evidence, absolutely none, that any crime was committed. The state attorney general therefore has no authority, absolutely none, to subpoena the restaurant's records....

My father always used to say that Richard Nixon should have taken the tapes, walked out into the middle of the White House lawn, poured gasoline on them and struck a match.

I feel much the same way for the restaurant and their register receipts.

Completely absurd situation.


People really need to get over themselves sometimes.


No Israeli-Made Items Allowed-


Speaking of Jews, Tim Blair (via GOPINION) points out a legitimate reason for outrage among Jews and Gentiles alike:

First it was deadly Jewlasers. Then came the poison Jewbananas. And now ... paper cups of vicious Jewishness:

Paper cups with Hebrew writing disturbed both employees and medical staff at King Khaled National Guard Hospital on Saturday. The catering subcontractor for the hospital coffee shops began using them on Saturday after their usual supply ran out.

“We were shocked and angry,” said an employee. “How can Israeli products be allowed and how did they enter this hospital?” he asked.

To the "Jew couple": save the drama for your mama. And think about what you can do to address real examples of anti-Semitism in the world.


Vehicular Jihad-


Speaking of actual anti-Jewish sentiment in the world, can you guess where this car was wholly designed and built?

The answer may surprise you.


Streamlining The Death Penalty-


Urban Grounds examines the efforts to streamline the death penalty:

Very few habeas corpus appeals have anything do with establishing the convicted killer’s innocence—rather it is their lawyers attempt to get them off-death row (and into a life-sentence, because they know their client is still guilty, regardless of the alleged ineffectiveness of previous counsel).

We should be exceedingly careful in assigning the death penalty, and in carrying it out. But the average number and length of death penalty appeals has become absurd.

With some death-row inmates spending decades in the appeals process, streamlining is a good step. And fortunately, the efforts to streamline the process would still protect civil liberties and allow a reasonable appeals process.




Marginal Revolution blog points out an interesting tidbit:

In July the Spanish-language Univision was No.1 among all networks for 18 to 34 year olds, a critical demographic for advertisers. The station averaged 1.2 million nightly viewers from this age group; Fox was second.

This likely has a lot to do with the proliferation of cable networks and will likely not continue into the Fall Season, but it is an eye-opening social marker and worth some discussion.


The Fair Tax-


Dan Mitchell, writing for C-Log, explains his preference of the flat tax over the fair tax:

To be sure, we should fight for what is right, regardless of what appears more popular. But if I have a choice of two great tax reform ideas, I'd rather pursue the one that has the best opportunity of crossing the finish line.

As I mentioned before, I am going to buy the Neal Boortz book at an upcoming book signing, and my mind remains open to the idea of a national sales tax to replace the income tax.

But right now, if it comes down to flat income tax versus a national income tax, I tend to favor the flat tax.


Who Needs The White House Press Corps?-


Dean Esmay makes the case for firing the White House press corps:

We, the people, do not need any self-appointed "interlocutor" to the President. The White House can issue its statements, and the Congress can issue its statements, and the people can weigh them. When the next election comes around, we will make our choice at the ballot box.

The comments section is also lively, so check that out, as well.

An interesting idea, getting rid of the formal White House interlocutors and one I have agreed with for years now, dating back to President Clinton's tenure. What is the point of the clique-ish White House press gaggle? In today's ongoing media revolution, why do we allow the monopolization of-- and filtering of-- information?

As a blogger, I prefer to link directly to a primary source rather than a news article about a primary source. And bloggers almost always back up their assertions and characterizations with links directly to sources. You can go examine the information for yourself.

The establishment media rarely offer that courtesy (which is rapidly becoming an expected necessity in the blogosphere). They rarely link directly to the "study" or "survey" they are citing to prove their point; they almost never link to the full text of the speech from which they pulled a quote.

And that's just part of why they are losing relevance, slowly but surely.


The Life/Death Of English Cities-


Ed Driscoll offers a fantastically thorough and fascinating post on architecture and centralized urban planning:

What's remarkable is how universal the negative effects of what American bureaucrats in the 1950s dubbed "urban renewal" have been....

...modern architecture designed to benefit the poor has been a disaster of hugely epic proportions. Ironically, most of the modernist architects of '20s never envisioned that they'd be best suited to be either builders of spaces for enormous corporations, or of villas for the wealthy bourgeois patrons they (somewhat ironically) relied upon to launch their early careers. Amidst the rubble of post World War I Europe, they wanted to entirely rework the landscape to match the tabla rasa that Freud, Marx and Lenin all saw the modern man to be.

Bravo, Ed.

It's a long piece, but it is well worth it.


Productive Productivity-


The Econbrowser blog examines the underreported phenomenon of increased productivity:

If you focus too much on the latest statistics and speculation about what could go wrong, it's easy to lose sight of some very important long-term trends. The solid growth of U.S. productivity is one piece of very good news that's not getting sufficient attention....

So why doesn't that get more attention in the press? I guess the headline, "decade of good news continues" just doesn't sell as many papers.

Let's just hope that poor reporting on the economy does not become a self-fulfulling prophesy.


Freedom For Western Sahara-


Winds of Change blog picks up on efforts by the U.S. to achieve freedom and independence for the Saharawis:

So why is America so interested in pushing for peace there now? Well, if you've read your Zinn and Chomsky, you know to look for the natural resources. Sure enough, the Western Sahara, which can boast of little else, is rich in phosphates. And there may be oil off the coast. Hear that sound? The wind in the sand dunes seem to be whispering "Halliburton."

But wait. Morocco still is one of our chief and most reliable allies in the region. And Morocco right now is firmly in charge of Western Sahara, de facto. So why don't we just do the usual imperialist thing and stick with the strong horse, in defiance of international legitimacy, and get what we want out of it?

Putting our money where our mouth is, walking the walk, it's a reason to be proud of America's current foreign policy. The Bush administration is serious about promoting liberty and democracy over the flawed status quo. A long-term vision for a free and democratic world is replacing-- bit by bit-- cynical, short-term, ad hoc alliances with dictatorships.


How 9/11 Changed Everything-


Patrick Ruffini examines New Jersey's swing toward President Bush from 2000 to 2004:

Most of the map is red, although the state is blue. This map isn't about who won in what areas, but the degree of Bush gains or losses since 2000. The reddish tint is courtesy of New Jersey coming in with the third strongest pro-Bush swing in the country. The right GOP candidate could put New Jersey's 15 electoral votes in play in '08.

Giuliani, perhaps?


Sheehan, Sheehan, Sheehan-


The Texican Tattler blog (via Eric Pfieffer) offers a couple of fantastic first-hand posts (part 1, part 2) on the madness that is Crawford, Texas:

As I walked back to my car, I couldn’t help but notice the sheer professionalism of the protestors. I wonder how many of them do this for a living? As I mentioned earlier, this was not a spontaneous event. This was well organized and well managed. Frankly, those of us on the right could learn quite a bit from them when it comes to organizing demonstrations. I also couldn’t help but wonder if the explanation for the smaller number of pro-Bushie’s is that we actually have jobs and a life with responsibilities while the anti’s flit from one Grateful Dead concert to another?

Fun times. Although, Jerry Garcia died long ago now.

What is the preferred hippie jam band today, Phish? Or are they back from hiatus?


Class Warfare-


The Heritage Foundation blog notes that in America, the rich are getting richer, but so are the poor and middle:

...everyone is getting richer. Pundits complain about the shrinking middle, but the middle is shrinking only because so many from its ranks are getting wealthier (this graph, from an October article in Washington Post, serves as an example of both these facts). According to the Census Bureau, those making below $50,000 decreased from 75.1% of the population in 1967 to 55.9% in 2003. In some ways, the debate ends there. The economic pie is getting bigger, and though the rich’s slice is growing faster than the poor’s, there is no obvious way to equalize this rate of change without reducing the absolute size of the poor’s piece.

The post is so full of great facts on the economy that I might just have to make a Trivia Tidbit out of one or more of them.


Best Hillbilly TV show-


Don Surber offers an examination of which oldschool TV show was better:

Gal: Daisy vs. Ellie. Both could kick butt. Gotta admit Elly knew her critters. But Daisy Dukes rule. I never heard of no gal wearin’ her Elly Maes. Point: Dukes.

Good point.


Grieving Mothers-


The neo-neocon blog looks at grieving mothers in two posts (part 1, part 2):

Sheehan and the media have a symbiotic relationship. Each needs the other right now: the media needs Sheehan for the sensationalism and the anti-Bush rhetoric she offers, and Sheehan needs the media for publicity for the cause that is driving her so strongly. So while there is exploitation, it goes in both directions, as each uses the other for their own purposes....

And so you have deeply antiwar parents, children of the Vietnam era, frustrated and puzzled by their children's desire to join the military (I myself have a friend in exactly that position). Even for the ones whose children return unharmed, you can almost hear them asking themselves, "Where have I gone wrong?" These parents, in turn, had rebelled against the previous generation, their parents, whose formative war experience was World War II and who had a very different take on military service. This accounted for a large amount of intergenerational conflict during the Vietnam era, with protesting children causing parents to ask themselves, in turn, where they (or their children) may have gone wrong.

A great couple of takes on the situation. This is the kind of fair, well-reasoned stuff that ought to be in mainstream magazines, read by hundreds of thousands (or millions) of people.

Incidentally, please note that military recruitment is stronger than you might imagine, and re-enlistment is also robust.


Pat Robertson-


Jeff Harrell, rather than offering the standard rebuke of someone from "his own side" who says something outrageous, offers a refreshing and unique perspective on Pat Robertson's injudicious comments about Venezuelan tyrant Hugo Chavez:

The United States isn’t just-another-country. We’re the world’s only superpower. We have a responsibility to lead the world not because we choose to, or because we deserve to, but because we can, and God knows the world needs leading. The Venezuelan people got themselves manipulated into installing an expansionist autocrat as their absolute dictator. Like the guy who sees that his neighbor’s house is on fire, we have a responsibility to run over there with a bucket and help him put it out.

And if the best way to put out the fire is to kill a power-mad dictator, then so be it.

So yeah, as much as I disagree with Pat Robertson on some things, I think he’s doing a valuable service today by calling national attention to a huge geopolitical time bomb ticking away on our own back steps.

1. Robertson's comment was not really helpful to the actual situation; 2. it puts Bush in a tight political spot; and 3. it may even produce a slight rally-around-Chavez effect. Ultimately, no matter how valid or not valid the concept of regime-change-through-assassination is, it's not the kind of idea that should be promoted on television by a former candidate for president.

That being said, I know it is the obligation of all right-of-center bloggers to rebuke "our own" when they go off the deep end (unlike the left-wing blogs, who glorify the craziest crazies on "their side"), but Jeff Harrell's particular rant is just really worthy of a link.




Charmaine Yoest offers a review of the movie Alexander:

Worst. Movie. Ever.

It's a three word post. But for whatever reason, it cracked me up.

Oliver Stone is making a 9/11 film. Yeah, that's going to work. Not.


Israeli Settlement Evacuation-


Rob Port is amazingly skilled at finding subtle-but-absurd headlines and assertions in the media, and this one is no different:

The Jewish residents of Gaza put up one hell of a fight against the government as they were forced out of their homes, even crossing the line of decency with the use of violence in some cases. Hamas didn’t make things any easier by promising to keep up their terror attacks and telling their followers that Jerusalem is next.

But hey, moving these settlements was “easy.” Reuters said so.

Unfortunately, it appears as if Israel will get far too little credit for its extraordinary efforts.


Also, don't forget to check out all the old Trivia Tidbits Of the Day, the Reform Thursday series, the Quotational Therapy sessions, and the Wednesday Caption Contest (entries are due each Tuesday at 11:59 PM Central Standard Time).

Last Week's Classiness Certification from WILLisms.com:

*Aug. 9, 2005.

WILLisms.com offers a weekly classiness roundup as a weekly feature, every Tuesday, with 15 blog posts deemed classy. The criteria for submissions: incisive original analysis, quirky topics nobody else is covering, fantastic graphics, or other posts that took a lot of work. We love to spread the word on upcoming blogs, being that WILLisms.com also fits that description. If you would like to nominate a post on your blog or another blog for inclusion, email us at WILLisms@gmail.com. Write "Classy Nomination" in the subject. You can also utilize this page to make your submissions. The deadline is each Monday at 11:59 PM Central Time.


Posted by Will Franklin · 23 August 2005 04:40 PM · Comments (4)

Another 2008 GOP Straw Poll: Go Vote.

Yet another straw poll. Go vote. Seriously. Fun times.

Posted by Will Franklin · 23 August 2005 10:50 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 147 -- U.S. Senate Productivity.

Senate Statistics, 1984-2004-

The total number of measures passed by the U.S. Senate, year by year:


Now look at the total number of measures passed, referenced to the number of days the Senate was in session:


Now look at the total number of measures passed, referenced to the number of hours the Senate was in session:



United States Senate, Senate Daily Digest - Office of the Secretary (.pdf)

Not that more is better, but it is interesting to note that the Senate doesn't necessarily get more accomplished when its members stay in Washington for longer periods of time.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Corporate Profits.

Posted by Will Franklin · 23 August 2005 09:41 AM · Comments (1)

College Football's AP Poll.

Some interesting facts about the Associated Press NCAA football pre-season poll.

Posted by Will Franklin · 22 August 2005 03:12 PM · Comments (1)

Got To Revolution.

Coming Anarchy is hosting the Carnival of Revolutions this week. Go check it out.

Posted by Will Franklin · 22 August 2005 11:28 AM · Comments (0)

Quotational Therapy: Part 38 -- John McCain On The War On Terror.

Arizona Senator John McCain, Speech To The 2004 Republican National Convention-


For all the criticism John McCain receives from Republicans for his misguided campaign finance reform crusade (and other things he does to irritate the GOP base), Senator McCain is one of the more effective and important members of "the team" when it comes to advocating the War On Terror. In that spirit, McCain talking about Iraq:

This week, millions of Americans, not all Republicans, weigh our claim on their support for the two men who have led our country in these challenging times with moral courage and firm resolve.

So I begin with the words of a great American from the other party, given at his party's convention in the year I was born.

My purpose is not imitation, for I can't match his eloquence, but respect for the relevance in our time of his rousing summons to greatness of an earlier generation of Americans.

In a time of deep distress at home, as tyranny strangled the aspirations to liberty of millions, and as war clouds gathered in the West and East, Franklin Delano Roosevelt accepted his party's nomination by observing:

"There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny."

The awful events of September 11, 2001 declared a war we were vaguely aware of, but hadn't really comprehended how near the threat was, and how terrible were the plans of our enemies.

It's a big thing, this war.

It's a fight between a just regard for human dignity and a malevolent force that defiles an honorable religion by disputing God's love for every soul on earth. It's a fight between right and wrong, good and evil.

And should our enemies acquire for their arsenal the chemical, biological and nuclear weapons they seek, this war will become a much bigger thing.

So it is, whether we wished it or not, that we have come to the test of our generation, to our rendezvous with destiny.

And much is expected of us.

We are engaged in a hard struggle against a cruel and determined adversary.

Our enemies have made clear the danger they pose to our security and to the very essence of our culture...liberty.

Only the most deluded of us could doubt the necessity of this war.

Like all wars, this one will have its ups and downs.

But we must fight.

We must.

The sacrifices borne in our defense are not shared equally by all Americans.

But all Americans must share a resolve to see this war through to a just end.

We must not be complacent at moments of success, and we must not despair over setbacks.

We must learn from our mistakes, improve on our successes, and vanquish this unpardonable enemy.

If we do less, we will fail the one mission no American generation has ever failed ... to provide to our children a stronger, better country than the one we were blessed to inherit.

Remember how we felt when the serenity of a bright September morning was destroyed by a savage atrocity so hostile to all human virtue we could scarcely imagine any human being capable of it.

We were united.

First, in sorrow and anger.

Then in recognition we were attacked not for a wrong we had done, but for who we are -- a people united in a kinship of ideals, committed to the notion that the people are sovereign, not governments, not armies, not a pitiless, inhumane theocracy, not kings, mullahs or tyrants, but the people.

In that moment, we were not different races.

We were not poor or rich. We were not Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative. We were not two countries.

We were Americans.

All of us, despite the differences that enliven our politics, are united in the one big idea that freedom is our birthright and its defense is always our first responsibility.

All other responsibilities come second.

We must not lose sight of that as we debate who among us should bear the greatest responsibility for keeping us safe and free.

We must, whatever our disagreements, stick together in this great challenge of our time.

Read the entire speech here.

If John McCain wants to win the 2008 Republican nomination, he needs to focus on the two 'T's on which he is most strong, Terror and Taxes. But he also needs to work on another 'T'-- trust. Republican primary voters, today, wouldn't be able to trust John McCain to fight for their ideas, their values, and their policy preferences. But John McCain could certainly earn that trust over the next couple of years.

Earning the trust of Republican primary voters will not require a move to the right. Senator McCain is already far more conservative than many on both sides of the political spectrum give him credit for. McCain's problem with GOP voters is that the "mainstream" media adore him, that he tends to do bipartisan things (even just symbolic gestures, sometimes) for the sake of being bipartisan, and that he has taken positions on a few prominent issues of our time that are just plain annoying.

If he wants to win in 2008, he'll have to make a high-stakes gamble, potentially agitating, or losing entirely, his fawning establishment media. But Republican primary voters, as of right now, are not going to accept McCain "as is."

Incidentally, I guarantee that if John McCain were president today, the left would hate him with roughly the same intensity as they hate President Bush. And if he does become president, McCain will likely not be able to maintain his love affair with the media.


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:


The right quote can be therapeutic, so tune in to WILLisms.com for quotational therapy every Monday and Friday.

Posted by Will Franklin · 22 August 2005 11:27 AM · Comments (4)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 146 -- Corporate Profits.

Corporate Economic Profits, Share Of GDP-

Yet another strengthening economic indicator (how many of these do we need to have before the case reaches its critical mass?):



CBO (.pdf).

Notice how, in the late 1990s, the economy was a classic "great on paper" bubble. The economy was growing. GDP was growing. But businesses were not making more money, because they weren't really selling anything.

Of course, that's a bit of an overstatement and an oversimplification, but think about it. How could profits have lagged at the time when the economy was roaring? How could the economy have been at its strongest, in the history of the world, without producing increased profits?

And notice how in the current economy, corporations are profiting more, commensurate with the pace of economic growth. Productivity is up. GDP growth is up. Jobs are being added. Inflation is relatively low, even with high energy prices. Profits are up. Yet some Democrats think they're going to run on the weak economy in 2006 and beyond?

Good luck with that.


John Kyl with more on the strong American economy.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Business Fixed Investment.

Posted by Will Franklin · 22 August 2005 10:22 AM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 145 -- Business Fixed Investment

Business Investment, As A Share Of GDP-

Business fixed investment has been robust during the past two years: since the first quarter of 2003, real business fixed investment has expanded at an average annual rate of nearly 11 percent—a pace that far exceeds such investment’s long-run average and is about the same as the average rate of growth during the investment boom of the late 1990s. In particular, real spending for equipment and software has been quite vigorous, climbing at an average annual rate of more than 13 percent since the beginning of 2003.

Congressional Budget Office (.pdf).

Business fixed investment is a good way to read how and what the "doers" of the economy feel about the economy. Notice how this important indicator began to drop off in 2000 and did not really recover until after 2002 midterm elections.

But since that point, growth in business fixed investment has been strong, indicating that although Americans tell pollsters they are down on the economy, the business community is investing for the future. Those making decisions on whether to purchase expensive business infrastructure (which typically improves productivity) believe it is worth it.

And even with the pessimistic polling data, most Americans (consumers, etc.) are behaving optimistically about the economy, whether or not they tell pollsters they are optimistic.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Suicide.

Posted by Will Franklin · 21 August 2005 10:56 AM · Comments (0)

Tax Reform: Flat Tax Or Fair Tax?

The Democratic Party derives electoral and financial support from a piecemeal coalition of African-Americans, unions, gays, Jews, trade protectionists, anti-Semites, environmentalists, abortion-rights advocates (mostly single women), college professors, the media establishment, artistic urban hipsters, socialists, and peaceniks. Often the categories of support overlap, but, just as often, the interests contradict each other.

That's where the GOP has a decided advantage. The Republican Party has disparate and distinct groups represented under its tent, to be sure (and we could brainstorm and identify a commensurate number of interests), but generally the modern Republican coalition boils down to three 'T's, TERROR, TRADITION, and TAXES.

Terror is a no-brainer. It's why many Democrats, libertarians, and fence-sitters became Bush Republicans after 9/11. The War On Terror has a way of making people more Republican, with or without intentional politicization of the issue.

Tradition is a little more complicated. It's both vague and specific, all at once. It is the "morals and values" that garnered so much attention in the 2004 election. But it could mean anything from opposition to gay marriage, to being tough on crime, to being pro-life on abortion, to a general sense that our culture is moving forward too rapidly-- and not always for the better.

Taxes, meanwhile, are a crucial part of the GOP triumvirate. In 1998, President George H.W. Bush (41) told a roaring crowd of partisans that they could read his lips, "no new taxes," and they rewarded him with a landslide victory over Michael Dukakis. Then, in an unfortunate political (as well as policy) move, Bush the elder succumbed to pressure from a Democratic Congress to break his now-infamous pledge and raise taxes. He lost-- decidedly-- in 1992.

President Bush has pledged to fundamentally reform the tax code. He, and others charged with the task, if they care about the political legacy they will leave in their wake, ought to consider the (Steve) Forbes Flat Tax proposal:

My flat tax plan has one simple rate, on the federal level: 17% on personal income and 17% on corporate profits. There would be generous exemptions for individuals: $13,200 for each adult; $4,000 for each child or dependent, and a refundable tax credit of $1,000 per child 16 or younger. A family of four would pay no federal income tax on its first $46,165 of income. Exemptions for a family of six--mom, dad, four kids--would be $65,930. No anti-risk-taking capital gains levy; the capital gains tax would go to zero. The abusive Alternative Minimum (really maximum) Tax would be abolished. No more death tax: You'd leave the world unmolested by the IRS. No taxation without respiration!

Corporate profits would be taxed at a rate of 17%. Companies could expense all investments at once: no more depreciation schedules. If these instant write-offs produce a loss, that could be carried forward to use against future profits for as many years as necessary to use it up. And businesses would be taxed only on income made in the U.S.

Steve Forbes, a nerd, does not and could not really inspire the "Terror Warrior" image Republican primary voters now demand. He's not really believable as a Commander-In-Chief. Strike one. Not a Terror Republican.

Meanwhile, Forbes does not really seem like someone who has a genuinely-held position, one way or another, on values issues. He is not a Tradition Republican.

But he did raise millions of dollars in both 1996 and 2000, garnering relatively broad grassroots and electoral support for a candidate running on essentially a single issue, the flat tax. He is a Taxes Republican. And his flat tax idea remains popular with the GOP rank-and-file.

Some left-wingers mock the idea as yesterday's news, but no idea as meaningful as a flat tax moves from conception to implementation overnight. In the past 10 years, the global economy has changed in a dramatic way. In the past 10 years, the American political landscape has changed in a dramatic way. And over the past decade, people have had time to think about the flat tax, if only in the very back of their minds. It's no longer some radical proposal by some rich dude; the flat tax is a system that has been tried internationally, with great success:

Other countries are getting the message, even if we have yet to. Hong Kong has successfully had a variation of the flat tax for 60 years. Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia enacted flat taxes in the 1990s that have been hugely successful. Russia put in a flat tax four years ago, and revenues have more than doubled in real terms. Ukraine, Slovakia, Romania, Georgia and Serbia have also successfully enacted flat taxes. How ironic that onetime Communist nations have been reaping the benefits of a flat tax before that bastion of free enterprise, the U.S.

And, by every indication, a flat tax would be a boon to the American economy, especially as our workers and our businesses compete directly against flat tax nations in the global marketplace:

Experience demonstrates time and time again--the Harding-Coolidge tax cuts of the 1920s, the Kennedy cuts of the '60s, the Reagan cuts of the '80s and the Bush reductions of 2003--that lower tax rates lead to more economic activity, which leads to more government revenue. Fiscal Associates of Alexandria, Va., an economic consulting firm, did an analysis of the flat tax. Its findings: Between 2005 and 2015, the Forbes Flat Tax Plan would generate $56 billion more in new government revenue than the current income tax. More important, an estimated $6 trillion in additional assets would be created, an immense boost to our nation's balance sheet. This study also predicts that that flat tax would lead to nearly 3.5 million new jobs by 2011--jobs that otherwise would not exist.

Indeed, as we've seen in recent months, the Laffer Curve lives. Lower taxes can actually produce higher revenues for the government. It's not hairbrained to believe that a flat tax could end up supercharging the American economy.


The history of tax tinkering bears out the idea that lower taxes typically lead to more robust economic growth. It's not brain surgery. It is common sense. And it gets to the nature of our economy. Are we empowering the free enterprise system, the greatest engine for economic growth in the history of the world, to work at full capacity? Or even close to it? Or are we resigned to antiquated Marxist ideas about a "heavy" and "progressive" income tax around our necks, holding us back?


Tax cuts work, and tax simplification is a political winner. It's just good policy. A flat tax makes sense on so many levels, and it makes perfect sense to the average apolitical American.

But, unfortunately, the debate will become politicized by the still-eminent establishment media and status-quo worshipping socialist Democrats in Congress. It will become a "tax cut for the rich," a giveaway to Bush's rich buddies. It will "cost" "us" x billion dollars over x years. It will "bankrupt" the government.

And the flat tax will compete with the fair tax (essentially a national sales tax, and an idea certainly worth considering) for political turf on the right. Conservatives and libertarians, who agree that taxes ought to be lower, will derail serious tax reform by fighting over nuances, rather than uniting behind a single proposal.

Ideally, we could have some sort of caucus/primary process, where the fair tax and the flat tax battle it out for supremacy. The losing side would agree to get behind the winner, in the spirit of unity. Then, we could all go to battle together against the forces of higher taxes. And win. Handily.

In about a week, I am going to pick up a copy of Neal Boortz' The Fair Tax Book at an upcoming book signing in Houston. Right now, I tend to favor a flat tax to a national sales tax, but I am going into it with an open mind.

I would hope that other conservatives would do the same.

And when President Bush's Tax Reform Commission reports back, I hope the fiscal conservative movement behaves like the majoritarian force that it is and rallies behind fundamental tax reform, one way or another.

Posted by Will Franklin · 21 August 2005 01:52 AM · Comments (10)

Welcome Back, Zsa Zsa.

Zsa Zsa has informed me that she is home from vacation in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I know everyone will look forward to the return of her witty and to-the-point comments on this blog and other blogs.

Welcome back, Zsa.

Posted by Will Franklin · 20 August 2005 04:49 PM · Comments (8)

Public Opinion Polling On Cindy Sheehan.

From the pollster with the best track record in recent history:

Cindy Sheehan, the grieving mother who maintained an anti-War protest outside of President Bush's ranch, is viewed favorably by 35% of Americans and unfavorably by 38%.

But what about support along party lines?


Clearly, she is not a figure that garners any sort of bipartisan support. We recently had an election centered around this very issue. Anti-war folks gave it their best shot. They outspent Republicans, via the 527s. They "won" the nightly news cycle almost every night of the campaign. They turned out record numbers to vote against President Bush.

And yet President Bush was reelected with 62+ million votes, more than any other individual in the history of our nation.

And what about gender differences?


And what about people with a pre-existing opinion on the war? And what about military families?

People who think we should withdraw troops from Iraq now have a positive opinion of Sheehan (59% favorable, 12% unfavorable). Those who do not think we should withdraw troops at this time have a negative view (15% favorable , 64% unfavorable).

Among those with family members who have served in the military, Sheehan is viewed favorably by 31% and unfavorably by 48%.

Clearly, Cindy Sheehan is not the magic bullet the anti-war movement had hoped for, against which the supporters of the War On Terror would have no defense. She is too polarizing and too much of a nutjob to be the cosmic force she proclaimed herself to be.

Her 15 minutes needed to be up 16 minutes ago.

Forty-two percent (42%) of Married Americans have an unfavorable opinion of Sheehan while 33% have a favorable opinion. Among those who are not married, Sheehan's numbers are 38% favorable and 30% favorable.

Fifty-five percent (55%) of Americans say they are following the Sheehan story somewhat or very closely. That is a lower level of interest than Americans have in stories about Iran's nuclear capabilities. It is roughly comparable to the interest in stories about Supreme Court nominee John Roberts.

Enough with the Sheehan. She doesn't remotely represent mothers of fallen soldiers. She doesn't remotely represent any sort of mainstream political thought. And she isn't really convincing anyone, either way, of anything.

Posted by Will Franklin · 20 August 2005 03:16 PM · Comments (13)

Signs Of Life On Social Security Reform.

A great read. Don't give up hope just yet. Signs of life abound.

Posted by Will Franklin · 20 August 2005 02:19 PM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 144 -- Suicide Rates.


-click for larger version-


World Health Organization (WHO)


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Air Travel.

Posted by Will Franklin · 20 August 2005 10:26 AM · Comments (5)

The Gaza Pullout and Sharon's Pending Nobel Prize.

A quick look at one of the more important developments in the Middle East (meaning Israel/Palestine) in the past couple of decades.

First, here's an interesting look at precisely where the settlements are:



Next, what are the odds of a Nobel Peace Prize for Ariel Sharon? Probably not all that great, but this piece captures the history and the present moment rather well:

What we are seeing this week in the withdrawal from Gaza of 8,000 Israeli citizens is as noble an act on behalf of peace as has been recorded in modern history. No peace demonstration on record has involved so much personal sacrifice. Nor has any peace demonstration involved so much trust.

We're living through a time of profound change in the greater Middle East (including but not limited to Israel/Palestine). It may be pie-in-the-sky, but there is very real reason to believe that the Middle East is changing for the better.

It is now incumbent upon the Palestinians to step up to the plate.

Posted by Will Franklin · 19 August 2005 02:09 PM · Comments (6)

Quotational Therapy: Part 37 -- Kennedy On Liberty.

JFK's Inaugural Address-

We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom--symbolizing an end as well as a beginning--signifying renewal as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forbears prescribed nearly a century and three-quarters ago.

The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe--the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans--born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage--and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

This much we pledge--and more.


In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility--I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it--and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country.

-President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, January 20, 1961.

Read the entire Inaugural Address here.

For all of John Forbes Kerry's efforts in drawing parallels between Jack Kennedy and himself during the 2004 presidential campaign, it is exceedingly difficult to imagine Senator Kerry even conceiving of giving a speech like this.

For that matter, can you imagine Hillary Clinton-- or Joe Biden--- or Howard Dean-- or any other prominent Democrat today inspiring people the way Kennedy did?

Can you imagine how Democrats would respond if President Bush gave a nearly identical speech? And can you imagine a Democrat today taking office and lowering taxes--- for "the rich"?


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Federalist Papers.

The right quote can be therapeutic, so tune in to WILLisms.com for quotational therapy every Monday and Friday.

Posted by Will Franklin · 19 August 2005 11:31 AM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 143 -- Air Travel.

Air Travel On-Time Rates-

Just another anecdotal piece of evidence pointing to a rebound in the economy:




Through the month of June, year-over-year, American air travel has rebounded, bigtime, since the post-9/11 decline.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: America's Crime Rate.

Posted by Will Franklin · 19 August 2005 10:33 AM · Comments (0)

Social Security Reform Thursday: Week Twenty-Nine -- Entitlement Growth.


Thursdays are good days for reform, because they fall between Wednesdays and Fridays.

That's why WILLisms.com offers a chart or graph, every Thursday, pertinent to Social Security reform.

This week's topic:

Entitlement Spending Growth, Eating Away Ever More GDP.

The Congressional Budget Office released its budget projections earlier this week, and on the front page of the 75-page document (.pdf) is the following graphic:


The graph is found again in the body of the report.

Why would the CBO's Budget and Economic Outlook feature such a graph on the front page, in lieu of a classic "cover page"?

Well, because the entitlement crisis is real, and it is now (not "2041"). Social Security reform is not something that can be infinitely delayed. For all the whining and gnashing over the recent Highway Bill, let's put it into perspective, please. Entitlement spending is going to swamp the Federal Budget and put a damper on America's economic growth engine.

And it's not rocket science. When Social Security was created, the demographic situation was drastically different. You had many workers supporting few retirees, collecting small benefits, for a short period of time. Today, you have proportionally fewer workers supporting many more retirees, who receive more benefits, for longer periods of time.

Without serious reform to handle the changing demographics we face, we'll almost certainly have to raise taxes, to the detriment of the economy. Raising taxes, however, is not a permanent and self-sustaining solution. And it's something we've done far too much over the past seven decades.


The history of raising the cap is no better.

Raising the cap, rather than scaling back the growth in benefits, would also be a serious cop-out, particularly with no personal accounts to offset the tax hikes.

Some otherwise intelligent conservatives, libertarians, and Republicans failed to get whole-heartedly behind Social Security reform, because they believed Medicare reform to be more imperative.

How lame. And utterly foolish.

Medicare and Medicaid reform will fail, guaranteed, if Social Security reform fails. Shame on those who played the "but that other problem is worse, so we shouldn't do anything about this problem" game. Does anyone really believe that railroading Social Security reform is the ticket to Medicare reform?

I mean, it's just mind-boggling stupid.

Because the conservative movement, including many Republican members of Congress, and including many of the conservative mega-bloggers, failed to coalesce behind the President on this tough, up-hill battle, we now face the likelihood of watered-down and/or delayed reforms.

At this point, the most likely near-term outcome is the passage of "GROW Accounts." GROW Accounts, as noted previously, are a great step in the right direction. Politically, they will be nearly impossible for even the most cancerously obstructionist Congressional Democrats, to oppose. And policy-wise, they begin the legitimization of private accounts, while protecting the Social Security trust fund surplus that will exist over the next 10-12 years.

The clock is ticking.


Previous Reform Thursday graphics can be seen here:

-Week One (Costs Exceed Revenues).
-Week Two (Social Security Can't Pay Promised Benefits).
-Week Three (Americans Getting Older).
-Week Three, bonus (The Templeton Curve).
-Week Four (Fewer Workers, More Retirees).
-Week Five (History of Payroll Tax Base Increases).
-Week Six (Seniors Living Longer).
-Week Six, bonus (Less Workers, More Beneficiaries).
-Week Seven (History of Payroll Tax Increases).
-Week Seven, bonus (Personal Accounts Do Achieve Solvency).
-Week Eight (Forty Year Trend Of Increasing Mandatory Spending).
-Week Nine (Diminishing Benefits Sans Reform).
-Week Ten (Elderly Dependence On Social Security).
-Week Eleven (Entitlement Spending Eating The Budget).
-Week Twelve (Benefit Comparison, Bush's Plan versus No Plan).
-Week Thirteen (Younger Americans and Lifecycle Funds).
-Week Fourteen (The Thrift Savings Plan).
-Week Fifteen (Understanding Progressive Indexing).
-Week Sixteen (The Graying of America).
-Week Seventeen (Debunking Myths).
-Week Eighteen (Debunking Myths).
-Week Nineteen (Reform Needed Sooner Rather Than Later).
-Week Twenty (Global Success With Personal Accounts).
-Week Twenty-One (GROW Accounts: Stopping The Raid).
-Week Twenty-Two (Millions of Lockboxes).
-Week Twenty-Three (Support for Ryan-DeMint).
-Week Twenty-Four (KidSave Accounts).
-Week Twenty-Five (Latinos and Social Security).
-Week Twenty-Six (AmeriSave).
-Week Twenty-Seven (Cost Of Doing Nothing).
-Week Twenty-Eight (Chile).

Tune into WILLisms.com each Thursday for more important graphical data supporting Social Security reform.

Posted by Will Franklin · 18 August 2005 01:50 PM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 142 -- U.S. Crime Rate.

America's Crime Rate-

The crime rate in the U.S. is way down over the past decade.


Interestingly, it has fallen particularly precipitously among male victims. I am no criminologist, but it seems like this would indicate a drop in gang violence, perhaps.


And it's not just violent crimes. Property crime is down, as well.


Potential reasons for this decline are the expanding economy, tougher laws, tougher sentencing, more prisons, the aging of the Baby Boomers, and better enforcement of laws on the books. What about drug arrests?


Causation? Correlation? Who knows. Could the drug war have been more successful than we've been led to believe? And did the drug war have certain positive externalities on the overall crime rate?

And how about the overall incarceration rate?


More people are in prison. Some headline writers, who write things like "Despite Drop in Crime, an Increase in Inmates" receive derision from conservatives (particularly James Taranto of OpinionJournal.com) for their silly lack of understanding that there is a connection between locking criminals up and less crime. The two indicators do not necessary move in tandem on a graph.

Even more interesting is the fact that this goes against the global trend:

Crime has recently hit record highs in Paris, Madrid, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Toronto, and a host of other major cities. In a 2001 study, the British Home Office (the equivalent of the U.S. Department of Justice) found violent and property crime increased in the late 1990s in every wealthy country except the United States. American property crime rates have been lower than those in Britain, Canada, and France since the early 1990s, and violent crime rates throughout the European Union, Australia, and Canada have recently begun to equal and even surpass those in the United States. Even Sweden, once the epitome of cosmopolitan socialist prosperity, now has a crime victimization rate 20 percent higher than that of the United States.

Americans, on the other hand, have become much safer. Preliminary 2001 crime statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation show America's tenth consecutive year of declines in crime. While our homicide rate is still substantially higher than most in Europe, it has sunk to levels unseen here since the early 1960s. Overall reported crime rates have dropped almost 40 percent from their all-time highs in the early 1970s. Reported property-crime victimization rates have dropped even more: In 1973, nearly 60 percent of American households fell victim to such crimes, by 2000 victimization had declined two-thirds to around 20 percent.

Among the economically powerful democracies in the Group of Seven, only the Japanese now have a lower victimization rate than the United States.

Fascinating trends. The author(s) of Freakonomics, of course, attribute the falling crime rate to the legalization of abortion a generation earlier, which eliminated "at-risk" young men from ever entering the population and becoming teen/adult criminals.


The NoSpeedBumps blog offers more potential reasons.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: America's Economic Outlook.

Posted by Will Franklin · 18 August 2005 10:47 AM · Comments (4)

I Love The Feedster.

Feedster is on crack. And I love it. I've been given the distinction of having the #16 blog on the entire internet. No way is that even remotely accurate, even in my dreams, but it is neat. And from it, I have received a relatively small but definitely noticeable boost to traffic, even as I have posted less lately.

Sort of like the "Bank Error In Your Favor, Collect $200" Community Chest card in Monopoly.

Posted by Will Franklin · 17 August 2005 04:31 PM · Comments (4)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 19.

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:


The actual caption:

A van sits in the front window of 'Say Dez School of Safe Driving' after an accident in Hamilton, Ontario, Friday, Aug. 12, 2005. The elderly couple driving the van was shaken up after the accident. (AP PHOTO/CP, Hamilton Spectator-Sheryl Nadler)

There must be a better caption out there for this photograph.

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, August 23. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at WILLisms@gmail.com.

Last week's photo:


Winners from last week:


Buckley F. Williams:

Enraged after not being selected for the lead role in Gigli II, Jude Law challenges Ben Affleck to a fight to the death.


Rob B.:

" The Orange jackets, who never really liked the Yellow jackets, hated David the most. That is why Bill was so excited about the new "taser feature" on his blackberry."



"That's it, now. Come at me with that banana." (You've got to know your Python.)

Captioning is guaranteed to improve your ninja skills. Enter today!

Posted by Will Franklin · 17 August 2005 11:24 AM · Comments (17)

The Carnival Of The Vanities.

Welcome to THE CARNIVAL OF VANITIES (part 152).


The booths are arranged entirely chronologically, in order of receipt of submission. Every single submission is included. I rated the posts on a 0-10 scale.

0 = One of the most awful posts I have ever read.
1 = Don't waste your time on this post.
2 = Awful post.
3 = A very poor post.
4 = A poor post.
5 = Average post.
6 = A good post.
7 = Recommended post.
8 = Strongly recommended post.
9 = A must-read post.
10 = One of the best posts I have ever read.

A quick word on how and why I rated the posts-

I gave higher ratings to posts with original analysis, rather than cutting and pasting from news articles. I gave higher ratings to posts with multiple sources, with multiple layers, and so on. I gave higher ratings to posts that were easy to read, that flowed well, that graphically just looked good, etc. I gave higher ratings to posts that the average Carnival reader would find interesting and worthwhile. I gave higher ratings to ideas that might not be found anywhere else and posts that involved original legwork.

Don't be offended if I didn't recommend your post. The typical Carnival reader will only have the time to read a handful of posts (maybe just one or two), so this is just a helpful way for people to find something worth clicking on. Feel free to ignore the ratings, or click on the ones I found less worthwhile. You may have different tastes than I do.

Welcome, and enjoy--

Submitted August 10:

Mister Snitch! blog offers "The Blogosphere: a Giant Engine for Finding Meaning."

Rating: 7

Free Money Finance blog offers "Don't Give Up on Index Funds Yet."

Rating: 5


Submitted August 11:

Stop the ACLU blog offers "ACLU Wants All Drugs Legal."

Rating: 6

The Unrepentant Individual blog offers "Bigger is better."

Rating: 8

Critical Mastiff blog offers "The Weaponization of Tragedy, And Its Cost."

Rating: 7

IAM(also)CANADIAN blog offers "France’s Secret North American Invasion Plot Exposed!"

Rating: 6

Global Democratic Revolution blog offers "Michelle Malkin Stinks."

Rating: 0

Et Tu Bloge blog offers "Decision-making and Our Well-Being."

Rating: 6


Submitted August 12:

Political Calculations blog offers "Do You Have a Bad Job?"

Rating: 7

Camp HappyBadFun blog offers "What Women REALLY Want."

Rating: 8

The Idiom blog offers "Why Casey Sheehan Died."

Rating: 9

Different River blog offers "Ethnic Cleansing and the World’s Oldest Double Standard."

Rating: 7


Submitted August 13:

Libertarian Leanings blog offers "Gorelick's amazing powers."

Rating: 6

Searchlight Crusade blog offers "Illegal Immigrants in the Border Patrol."

Rating: 6

The Other Bloke's Blog blog offers "No Child Left Behind and Andre Agassi."

Rating: 5

Below The Beltway blog offers "Free Judith Miller."

Rating: 6


Rating: 5


Submitted August 14:

The People's Republic of Seabrook blog offers "Tune in at 11 when we'll have live team coverage of Jennifer Wilbanks trimming her toenails."

Rating: 5

Quibbles-n-Bits blog offers "Two if by Sea."

Rating: 4

Kira Zalan Blog blog offers "Prevention and Profiling."

Rating: 7

Chicken Fried Life blog offers "Would You Call This A Gift?"

Rating: 7

Mean Ol' Meany blog offers "Working on My Personals Profile."

Rating: 4

Don Surber blog offers "More NYT Corrections."

Rating: 7

Desertlight Journal blog offers "VAWA – the Threat to Working Women."

Rating: 6

Big Picture, Small Office blog offers "Far From the Madding Crowd."

Rating: 5

Science And Politics blog offers "It is strange not being OCD."

Rating: 5

Cliopatria blog offers "Infantalizing Students or Disciplining Institutions?"

Rating: 7

The Nose On Your Face blog offers "Blogosphere Survey Results."

Rating: 8


Submitted August 15:

Steve Pavlina's Personal Development Blog blog offers "Getting Organized."

Rating: 6

ROFASix blog offers "What your son died for Ms. Sheehan."

Rating: 8


Rating: 5

Conservative Friends blog offers "Fetal Stem Cells – The New McCarthyism? ."

Rating: 7

Multiple Mentality blog offers "100 Reasons I Miss The 80s."

Rating: 7

The Unalienable Right blog offers "Newsweek - Breaking: President Bush is not a heartless automaton."

Rating: 5

You Big Mouth, You! blog offers "Terrorism: Rochester Moslems Call for Cure."

Rating: 7

Mad Kane's Notables blog offers "Ode To Cindy Sheehan."

Rating: 2

Boxing Alcibiades blog offers "Huntington, Vindicated."

Rating: 9

The Right Place blog offers "The 9/11 Commission, Part 2 - Electric Boogaloo."

Rating: 7


Submitted August 16:

Wordlab blog offers "Names Behind the Dukes of Hazzard."

Rating: 8

Stop The ACLU blog offers "Putting The Fear Of God Into The ACLU."

Rating: 5

Blog Business World blog offers "Business blogs: Spread the word."

Rating: 4

Conservative Cat blog offers "News."

Rating: 6

Mark Nicodemo blog offers "Jeb on the PC-NCAA."

Rating: 9

GoD: blog blog offers "GoD prepares."

Rating: 4

Musings from Brian J. Noggle blog offers "Where Angels Fear to Tread."

Rating: 6

Ideas In Progress blog offers "Transporter Philosphy Poll."

Rating: 3

The Skwib blog offers "US Drug Enforcement Agency Asks Canada to Extradite Cows."

Rating: 7

Rightwing Nuthouse blog offers "RUM, ROMANISM, AND REBELLION."

Rating: 8

Wunderkraut blog offers "You Never Know Until…"

Rating: 8

Western Resistance blog offers "Islam is PEACE, LOVE , FAMILY and CHARITY Terrorism it doesn't teach...."

Rating: 7

TMH's Bacon Bits blog offers "Atta, Gorelick’s Wall, and Berger’s Bumble."

Rating: 6

Classical Values blog offers "'"Nothing to start a civil war over"'

Rating: 7

Cutler's Yankee Station blog offers "Who is the Enemy?"

Rating: 8

Blog d'Elisson blog offers ""Interesting" Food."

Rating: 8


Submitted August 17:

Confessions of a Political Junkie blog offers "The Withdrawal From Gaza."

Rating: 6


Next week, August 24, 2005, the Carnival will be hosted by The Big Picture. You can make your submission here. For more information, visit Silflay Hraka.

Posted by Will Franklin · 17 August 2005 10:47 AM · Comments (38)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 141 -- Monetary and Financial Conditions.

Index Of Monetary And Financial Conditions-

The American economy is strong, and nearly every economic indicator points to continued expansion in the near term. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), in developing its most recent budgetary projections for the remainder of the year, expect robust growth moving ahead (.pdf):


The Congressional Budget Office believes the economy is primed for growth, even with high energy prices, as long as interest rates do not jolt upward suddenly.

I tend to agree. So, it seems, do the folks at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas (hat tip to Ironman of Political Calculations blog):


And yet, interestingly, Americans believe the economy is getting worse, not better.

Eventually, in the face of such overwhelming evidence of a thriving economy, that disconnect must shatter. But the stock market(s), in which more Americans than ever before are invested, must trend upward significantly-- and remain there. Energy prices must stabilize, if not come down somewhat. And it must look like geopolitical circumstances in Iraq and elsewhere are stabilizing or improving.

But in the end, the media must start painting a more accurate picture of the economy, or none of those things will matter. At the same time, although we can count on the media failing to report on the burgeoning American economy as long as a Republican occupies the White House, it will be impossible for anyone to ignore month after month of undeniable economic progress.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Deficits/Surpluses As A Share of GDP.

Posted by Will Franklin · 17 August 2005 10:39 AM · Comments (0)

Grandpa Franklin-- Sulphur, Oklahoma.

This is a picture of my dad's dad's dad's dad:

-click for larger version-

He fought in the Civil War. I have no idea when this picture was taken, but I saw it for the first time on Saturday.

Posted by Will Franklin · 16 August 2005 04:53 PM · Comments (6)

In the meantime...

... go check out the History Carnival, if you are into that sort of thing.

I am hosting the Carnival of the Vanities tomorrow, as well, so be sure to make your submissions.

Posted by Will Franklin · 16 August 2005 02:30 PM · Comments (0)

Some Call It A Bonfire/Carnival Of Classiness...

No Carnival of Classiness this week. I am trying to meet an upcoming deadline for my thesis.

Next Tuesday, it'll be twenty items long. Fun times.

Posted by Will Franklin · 16 August 2005 11:28 AM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 140 -- Historical Deficit/Surplus As Percentage Of GDP.

Deficits and Surpluses-

Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office released its analysis of the federal budget, noting that the deficit will be smaller than expected, and smaller than last year. The expectation is for shrinking deficits into the future, as well.


As a percentage of our national economy, the current deficit is well within a reasonable historical range.


Into the future, it is difficult to project spending and revenues, but the CBO tried to offer a range of possibilities, based on scenarios which may or may not come true. Some factors may jolt the projections one way or another. The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), making tax relief permanent, whether the economy continues to grow (and how rapidly), entitlement reform or not, and other geopolitical circumstances could move the line up or down.

But if the economy continues to grow, and we keep spending growth somewhat in check, it is very much within the realm of possibility that we could see a balanced budget-- or surpluses-- again soon.

Congressional Budget Office (CBO), August 2005 Budget Outlook, (.pdf).


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Jobs.

Posted by Will Franklin · 16 August 2005 10:51 AM · Comments (1)

Quotational Therapy: Part 36-- Federalist Papers.

Federalist Papers, No. 10 & No. 51 (1787-1788)-


No. 10:

Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.

-James Madison.

No. 51:

But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.

-Alexander Hamilton or James Madison.

-"Publius," from OurDocuments.gov.


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Teddy Roosevelt's "The Strenuous Life".

The right quote can be therapeutic, so tune in to WILLisms.com for quotational therapy every Monday and Friday.

Posted by Will Franklin · 15 August 2005 11:08 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 139 -- Jobs.





In the past 24 months 3.5 million more Americans have found work, which is the equivalent of a new job for every worker in the entire state of Indiana. Every single job that was lost during the bursting of the technology bubble and stock market collapse of 2000-01 has been matched by a new job, often in a new industry. As the nearby chart shows, the bottom of the jobs recession hit in mid-2003--and the recovery began at the very point that the Bush marginal-rate tax cuts were enacted into law.

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Research & Development.

Posted by Will Franklin · 15 August 2005 10:22 AM · Comments (5)

Revolutionizing Revolution.

Am I A Pundit Now? blog is hosting this week's Carnival of Revolutions. Go check it out.

Posted by Will Franklin · 15 August 2005 09:35 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 138 -- Research & Development.

Research & Development-


American Association for the Advancement of Science (.pdf).

Correlation does not necessarily mean causation, and there could be any number of things happening in this graph, but it does seem to be the case that the private sector will gladly spend the bucks on research and development if the government mostly stays out of it. When the government monopolizes science, it stifles the competitive spirit that so many scientists might otherwise have. And large levels of public funding on certain projects might dissuade private entities from taking the plunge with their dollars.

That being said, certain scientific projects have costs that are so great, and benefits so nebulous, far-flung, and intangible, that the government must do what the market will not. In general, however, it's best that public dollars go toward building a scientific infrastructure, of sorts, upon which other scientists can base their research and development.

Next, and totally unrelated to the previous point, this research and development explosion roughly correlates with the rise in personal computing power. The beginning of the information technology revolution is vaguely like the beginning of the first printing press. People can share information, and more of it, more efficiently than ever before. People can also make calculations and create intricate three-dimensional simulated models that once might have been inconceivable on paper.

One of the mysteries economists have been attempting to solve in recent years is how American productivity growth was so robust immediately following World War II, then so flat for an extended time, and now so robust again today. R&D dollars likely have at least something to do with that.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Religions In Congress.

Posted by Will Franklin · 14 August 2005 11:33 AM · Comments (3)


This is ridiculous:


I didn't believe it, so I went into Photoshop, used the eyedropper tool, and discovered that yes, the two boxes are the same shade of gray.

Click to see the proof:

Read More »

Posted by Will Franklin · 13 August 2005 04:19 PM · Comments (13)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 137 -- Religious Denominations In The U.S. House Of Representatives.

Religion In The U.S. Congress (House of Representatives)-


In the U.S. House of Representatives, the following faiths and denominations are represented:

3 - African Methodist Episcopal
65 - Baptist
1 - Christian Church
2 - Christian Reformed Church
5 - Christian Scientist
1 - Community of Christ
1 - Disciples of Christ
3 - Eastern Orthodox
32 - Episcopalian
26 - Jewish
18 - Lutheran
51 - Methodist
11 - Mormon
4 - Pentecostal
36 - Presbyterian
33 - Protestant, unspecified
1 - Quaker
129 - Roman Catholic
2 - Seventh-day Adventist
2 - Unitarian
3 - United Church of Christ and Congregationalist
7 - Unspecified

Congressional Quarterly (.pdf).


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Senate Religions.

Posted by Will Franklin · 13 August 2005 10:14 AM · Comments (0)

Quotational Therapy: Part 35 -- Teddy Roosevelt.

Theodore Roosevelt, "The Strenuous Life"-


This is one of the more relevant quotational therapy sessions yet. Be sure to read the entire text if you have the time:

I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.

A life of slothful ease, a life of that peace which springs merely from lack either of desire or of power to strive after great things, is as little worthy of a nation as of an individual....

We do not admire the man of timid peace. We admire the man who embodies victorious effort; the man who never wrongs his neighbor, who is prompt to help a friend, but who has those virile qualities necessary to win in the stern strife of actual life. It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed....

When men fear work or fear righteous war, when women fear motherhood, they tremble on the brink of doom; and well it is that they should vanish from the earth, where they are fit subjects for the scorn of all men and women who are themselves strong and brave and high-minded.

As it is with the individual, so it is with the nation. It is a base untruth to say that happy is the nation that has no history. Thrice happy is the nation that has a glorious history. Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat....

If we are to be a really great people, we must strive in good faith to play a great part in the world. We cannot avoid meeting great issues. All that we can determine for ourselves is whether we shall meet them well or ill....

We have a given problem to solve. If we undertake the solution, there is, of course, always danger that we may not solve it aright; but to refuse to undertake the solution simply renders it certain that we cannot possibly solve it aright. The timid man, the lazy man, the man who distrusts his country, the over-civilized man, who has lost the great fighting, masterful virtues, the ignorant man, and the man of dull mind, whose soul is incapable of feeling the mighty lift that thrills "stern men with empires in their brains"—all these, of course, shrink from seeing the nation undertake its new duties; shrink from seeing us build a navy and an army adequate to our needs; shrink from seeing us do our share of the world's work, by bringing order out of chaos....

We cannot sit huddled within our own borders and avow ourselves merely an assemblage of well-to-do hucksters who care nothing for what happens beyond. Such a policy would defeat even its own end; for as the nations grow to have ever wider and wider interests, and are brought into closer and closer contact, if we are to hold our own in the struggle for naval and commercial supremacy, we must build up our power without our own borders....

If we drove out a medieval tyranny only to make room for savage anarchy, we had better not have begun the task at all. It is worse than idle to say that we have no duty to perform, and can leave to their fates the islands we have conquered. Such a course would be the course of infamy. It would be followed at once by utter chaos in the wretched islands themselves. Some stronger, manlier power would have to step in and do the work, and we would have shown ourselves weaklings, unable to carry to successful completion the labors that great and high-spirited nations are eager to undertake.

The work must be done; we cannot escape our responsibility; and if we are worth our salt, we shall be glad of the chance to do the work—glad of the chance to show ourselves equal to one of the great tasks set modern civilization. But let us not deceive ourselves as to the importance of the task. Let us not be misled by vainglory into underestimating the strain it will put on our powers. Above all, let us, as we value our own self-respect, face the responsibilities with proper seriousness, courage, and high resolve. We must demand the highest order of integrity and ability in our public men who are to grapple with these new problems. We must hold to a rigid accountability those public servants who show unfaithfulness to the interests of the nation or inability to rise to the high level of the new demands upon our strength and our resources....

Read the "Congressional Record." Find out the senators and congressmen who opposed the grants for building the new ships; who opposed the purchase of armor, without which the ships were worthless; who opposed any adequate maintenance for the Navy Department, and strove to cut down the number of men necessary to man our fleets. The men who did these things were one and all working to bring disaster on the country. They have no share in the glory of Manila, in the honor of Santiago. They have no cause to feel proud of the valor of our sea-captains, of the renown of our flag. Their motives may or may not have been good, but their acts were heavily fraught with evil. They did ill for the national honor, and we won in spite of their sinister opposition....

A man's first duty is to his own home, but he is not thereby excused from doing his duty to the State; for if he fails in this second duty it is under the penalty of ceasing to be a freeman. In the same way, while a nation's first duty is within its own borders, it is not thereby absolved from facing its duties in the world as a whole; and if it refuses to do so, it merely forfeits its right to struggle for a place among the peoples that shape the destiny of mankind.

In the West Indies and the Philippines alike we are confronted by most difficult problems. It is cowardly to shrink from solving them in the proper way; for solved they must be, if not by us, then by some stronger and more manful race. If we are too weak, too selfish, or too foolish to solve them, some bolder and abler people must undertake the solution. Personally, I am far too firm a believer in the greatness of my country and the power of my countrymen to admit for one moment that we shall ever be driven to the ignoble alternative....

I preach to you, then, my countrymen, that our country calls not for the life of ease but for the life of strenuous endeavor. The twentieth century looms before us big with the fate of many nations. If we stand idly by, if we seek merely swollen, slothful ease and ignoble peace, if we shrink from the hard contests where men must win at hazard of their lives and at the risk of all they hold dear, then the bolder and stronger peoples will pass us by, and will win for themselves the domination of the world. Let us therefore boldly face the life of strife, resolute to do our duty well and manfully; resolute to uphold righteousness by deed and by word; resolute to be both honest and brave, to serve high ideals, yet to use practical methods. Above all, let us shrink from no strife, moral or physical, within or without the nation, provided we are certain that the strife is justified, for it is only through strife, through hard and dangerous endeavor, that we shall ultimately win the goal of true national greatness.

Read the entire speech here.

This is an amazing speech, given by President Theodore Roosevelt, on April 10, 1899. The U.S. had interests in Hawaii, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines, and there were insurgencies and other opposition groups of various sorts in each location. Much of the American nation wanted to cut and run, especially in the Philippines. Isolationism was a profound force in U.S. politics at the time, and Teddy Roosevelt's call for American resolve was a daring political move, not the easy way out.

President Bush probably needs to give a speech like this soon on the issue of Iraq. Squishy Americans-- the ones who supported the Iraq war in the beginning but now are peeling off-- need to be slapped around a bit, rhetorically. Their comfort zones need breaching.

Unfortunately, because of the steady, left-leaning media drumbeat of "the-sky-is-falling" coverage that is still so pervasive and influential in America today, people need reminding of why the Iraq mission is just, why it is noble, and why it is necessary.

And this is so hard to understand for someone who tries to put any individual development in a long-term, ecumenical context.

It seems like the American people "get it" from time to time, immediately following an important speech by the President on Iraq. But then, over a few months, they begin forgetting, or changing their minds, or going wobbly, or otherwise flip-flopping.

The ones who have changed their minds on Iraq must be made to feel embarrassed for such weak-knee-edness, but reassured that there is a place for returning fair-weather fans in the home team stadium.

They must be reminded that the U.S. is going to finish the job, and that we'll be better off for it, that the Iraqis will be better off for it, and that the world will be better off for it.

The American people need to be poked a bit, reminded that we're in a war we didn't start, a war that we must finish. Fighting the Global War On Terror is not optional. War requires resolve, and sacrifice, and determination, and stoicism, and dedication, and seriousness. And we'll lose the war if Americans fail to embrace those values.


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

President George W. Bush On The Global War On Terror.

The right quote can be therapeutic, so tune in to WILLisms.com for quotational therapy every Monday and Friday.

Posted by Will Franklin · 12 August 2005 01:32 PM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 136 -- Religious Denominations In The Senate.

Religion In The United States Congress (Senate)-


In the United States Senate, there are the following numbers of members/followers of the various denominations and faiths:

7 - Baptist
2 - Eastern Orthodox
10 - Episcopalian
11 -Jewish
3 - Lutheran
12 - Methodist
5 - Mormon
14 - Presbyterian
5 - Protestant, Unspecified
24 - Roman Catholic
1 - Unitarian
6 - Church of Christ/Congregationalist

Congressional Quarterly (.pdf)


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Shrinking Budget Deficits.

Posted by Will Franklin · 12 August 2005 11:42 AM · Comments (1)

Pick The Hottest 2006 Senate Race.

Which Senate race are you most looking forward to?

Or, I should say, to which Senate race are you most looking forward?

Go, vote.

Fun times.

Posted by Will Franklin · 11 August 2005 10:12 PM · Comments (1)

Social Security Reform Thursday: Week Twenty-Eight -- Reform In Chile.


Thursdays are good days for reform, because they fall between Wednesdays and Fridays.

That's why WILLisms.com offers a chart or graph, every Thursday, pertinent to Social Security reform.

This week's topic:

Chilean Social Security Privatization.

The University of Pennsylvania's "Knowledge @ Wharton" web feature profiles Chile's successes with Social Security personal accounts:

Chile enacted its national defined contribution pension system in 1981 after the prior government-run systems collapsed. The core element of the plan is that workers are required to set aside 10% of their earnings into private savings accounts. Eleven other Latin American countries have copied elements of the Chilean approach, in which bankrupt state-run pension plans are replaced by defined contribution-funded individual accounts. "This reform model has been exported all around the Americas and it's been held up by many as a fine example of a well-functioning national personal accounts system," says Mitchell. Overall, the Chilean system has provided savers a 10% real rate of return since its inception. "That has made the system very popular, but it's not clear whether this can persist in the future, or whether others can replicate it," she adds.

Indeed, it's been successful, it's been replicated successfully, but reformers should never try to promise 10% in annual returns. Fortunately, no serious reform advocate is making such a heady promise. Most of us just believe even low estimates of 3 or 4 or 5 percent would work better for workers than the current system.

Chile's success with personal accounts is an important bit of evidence that we in the U.S. can and should reform our Social Security system according to free market principles. Pay-as-you-go (pyramid scheme) funding is just untenable in our demographic pattern.

Meanwhile, the Democrats have teamed up with the LaRouchers in opposing reform. Some critics of Social Security modernization also try casting Chile's overwhelmingly successful reform as a failure. The LaRoucher take on the situation is just so mind-bogglingly dishonest. It's trash. But the Democrats now walk hand-in-hand with LaRouche on this issue.

As Chile's Social Security reform architect notes:

The pension funds have now accumulated resources equal to 70 percent of Chile's Gross Domestic Product (the equivalent in the U.S. would be about $8 trillion). That huge pool of savings has helped finance Chile's economic growth. By improving both our capital and labor markets, this reform helped double the growth rate of Chile's economy.

When the system was inaugurated, one fourth of the eligible work force signed up in the first month. Today, 95 percent of covered workers participate. For Chileans, their retirement accounts represent real property rights. Their accounts, not risky government promises, are their guarantee of future security. The typical Chilean's main asset is not his house or car but the capital in his retirement account.

But what about the transition costs? And what about all the people who chose to stay in the old system? How did Chile deal with those issues?


Our numbers would look quite different, as Chile's pre-reform pension system ate up more of its GDP than ours does today. And again, let's remember that transition costs are really just an acknowledgement of obligations that already exist. And ultimately, the transition costs are a drop in the bucket relative to the cost of doing nothing.

On Sunday, Social Security turns 70, which means the 1930s-era program should have already retired. It's time to reform. It's time to modernize. It's time to hire a newer, more productive Social Security program that works for us.

The clock is ticking.


Previous Reform Thursday graphics can be seen here:

-Week One (Costs Exceed Revenues).
-Week Two (Social Security Can't Pay Promised Benefits).
-Week Three (Americans Getting Older).
-Week Three, bonus (The Templeton Curve).
-Week Four (Fewer Workers, More Retirees).
-Week Five (History of Payroll Tax Base Increases).
-Week Six (Seniors Living Longer).
-Week Six, bonus (Less Workers, More Beneficiaries).
-Week Seven (History of Payroll Tax Increases).
-Week Seven, bonus (Personal Accounts Do Achieve Solvency).
-Week Eight (Forty Year Trend Of Increasing Mandatory Spending).
-Week Nine (Diminishing Benefits Sans Reform).
-Week Ten (Elderly Dependence On Social Security).
-Week Eleven (Entitlement Spending Eating The Budget).
-Week Twelve (Benefit Comparison, Bush's Plan versus No Plan).
-Week Thirteen (Younger Americans and Lifecycle Funds).
-Week Fourteen (The Thrift Savings Plan).
-Week Fifteen (Understanding Progressive Indexing).
-Week Sixteen (The Graying of America).
-Week Seventeen (Debunking Myths).
-Week Eighteen (Debunking Myths).
-Week Nineteen (Reform Needed Sooner Rather Than Later).
-Week Twenty (Global Success With Personal Accounts).
-Week Twenty-One (GROW Accounts: Stopping The Raid).
-Week Twenty-Two (Millions of Lockboxes).
-Week Twenty-Three (Support for Ryan-DeMint).
-Week Twenty-Four (KidSave Accounts).
-Week Twenty-Five (Latinos and Social Security).
-Week Twenty-Six (AmeriSave).
-Week Twenty-Seven (Cost Of Doing Nothing).

Tune into WILLisms.com each Thursday for more important graphical data supporting Social Security reform.

Posted by Will Franklin · 11 August 2005 01:10 PM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 135 -- Shrinking Deficit.

More Government Spending, But Way More Revenue-

Some good news, and some bad news.

First, the bad news:

Government spending in 2005 is up by 117.8 billion dollars (6.1%) over what it was at this point in 2004.

Now, the good news:

Revenues to the government are up by 211.6 billion dollars (13.8%) over what they were at this point in 2004.

[These numbers are improved from the first three months of the year, when spending and revenues were up by 7% and 10%, respectively.]

So, revenue increases are far outpacing spending increases. This is a recipe for one thing: reduced deficits.

The projected 2005 deficit now stands at 332,654,000,000 dollars. 333 billion dollars is lot of money, to be sure, but it's down significantly from the 412 billion dollar deficit in 2004.

At the end of July 2004, the annual budget deficit stood at 396.3 billion dollars; at the end of July 2005, it stands at 302.6 billion dollars, a 24% decrease, year over year. As a percentage of our economy, the recent deficits are far from any "record," and they are falling.

Which is good news.

Now, back to the bad news. Spending growth is still too high, and we're going to have to tighten the fiscal belt soon or face negative consequences.

So, just how is the government spending our money? What specific parts of government grew by $117,825,000,000 from Jan.-Jul. 2004 to Jan.-Jul. 2005?


Entitlements, mostly.

*Nearly 1/5 ($22.4 billion) of the increased spending this year is on Social Security.

*18.2% ($21.4 billion) of the overall increase, meanwhile, is due to added spending on national security.

*Rounding out the top six increases, 14.5% ($17.1 billion) of the increase is additional net interest, 14.4% ($16.9 billion) is due to increased Medicare spending, 7.6% ($8.9 billion) is due to increased agriculture spending, and 5.9% ($7.0 billion) is due to increased spending on international affairs.

But what about the increased revenue? Where did it come from, thin air?

No, obviously not.

46.9% ($99.1 billion) of the increased revenue in the Federal Treasury this year is from increased individual income tax collections; 28.7% ($60.6 billion) is from boosted corporate income tax revenues.

Lower taxes leading to economic expansion, leading to increased revenues for the government, who would've thunk it?


U.S. Department of Treasury


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Productivity.

Posted by Will Franklin · 11 August 2005 09:51 AM · Comments (5)

Several Thousand Words.

A great and worthy photography website for your perusal:


And the photographer, Marian Jordan Lewandowski (of Poland), unlike so many artists, is a supporter of the U.S. fight for freedom and the Global War On Terror.

Posted by Will Franklin · 10 August 2005 09:25 PM · Comments (2)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 18.

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:


The actual caption:

David Saethre works in the Euro Dollar Pit at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, after the U.S. Federal Reserve raised a key U.S. interest rate a quarter-percentage point August 9, 2005. The U.S. central bank's policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee unanimously voted to lift the benchmark federal funds rate, which can sway borrowing costs throughout the economy, to a four-year high of 3.5 percent. REUTERS/John Gress

There must be a better caption out there for this photograph.

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, August 16. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at WILLisms@gmail.com.

Last week's photo:


Winners from last week:


Rob B.:

"Seriously John, you need to try this. The email was right. I've gained 2 inchs in lenght and 1 inch in girth."


Zsa Zsa:

No no I'll pay!... No I insist!... Okay!


Rodney Dill:

"Keep practicing your version of "She Bangs," John. You've got that William Hung beat hands down."

Captioning is one of the seven healthiest things you can do for yourself. Enter today!

Posted by Will Franklin · 10 August 2005 11:08 AM · Comments (21)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 134 -- Productivity Growth.

American Productivity Growth-

Yesterday, the Labor Department announced that nonfarm productivity grew at a rate of 2.2% in the Second Quarter of 2005. This is a healthy rate, historically.

Some post-war perspective:


Over the past few years, productivity growth has outpaced the post-WWII average, particularly the stretch of the 1970s and 1980s.


Some economists believe the "jobless recovery" the U.S. experienced (notice: past tense) was, in part, due to exploding productivity gains. Ridiculously rapid productivity gains are great for any economy in the big picture. Rising productivity causes wages, standard of living, and GDP to rise.

It's good, all around, to see rapid productivity growth, but it's not necessarily the best news for the incumbent's short-term political fortunes, as employers have little reason to hire additional employees in times of high productivity growth.


When productivity growth goes hand-in-hand with job growth (even manufacturing job growth), you know the economy is in good shape, for now and for the foreseeable future.

Joint Economic Committee
, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, and the U.S. Department of Labor (.pdf).


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Inflation.

Posted by Will Franklin · 10 August 2005 07:22 AM · Comments (0)

Japanese Privatization: A Political Earthquake.


In the spirit of bringing you underreported (but thoroughly significant) news, Riding Sun explains the significance of recent political events in Japan:

As the Japanese say, seiji wa issun saki ga yami — in politics, one step ahead is pitch black. Koizumi's political earthquake is coming. Whether the LDP can withstand it remains to be seen.

Go read the entire post. The headlines may seem boring or insignificant, but this is about far more than the mere privatization of Japan's postal system. It's about a central bank with assets 50% larger than the entire British economy, and whether that bank will continue its central planning and graft, or whether those assets (3 trillion dollars worth) will be applied to their full potential in Japan's market economy.

This is a the kind of moment that could determine whether Japan remains a global economic power in the next half century, or whether Japan continues to handicap itself, dooming its economy to stagnation and relative decline. The U.S. needs a strong and vibrant free-market Japan, so let's hope they get it right.

It's also an interesting parallel for Social Security reform (but let's not get carried away with the analogy). You have entrenched interests fighting hard to oppose any change from the broken status quo, based on cynical short-term political calculations.

Ultimately, we need our leaders to focus on solving long-term policy problems. And ultimately, good policy is good politics.

Posted by Will Franklin · 9 August 2005 02:12 PM · Comments (2)

Some Call It A Bonfire/Carnival Of Classiness...

We call it "Classiness, All Around Us."


Click to explore more WILLisms.com.

In no particular order, WILLisms.com presents classiness from the blogosphere (now with 50% more classy!):




Hugh Hewitt notes that the Presbyterian Church is shooting itself in the foot and defying its membership:

Leave it to the Louisville bureaucrats to get everything exactly wrong. You can oppose the Israeli pullout from Gaza, or you can support it as a wild gamble for peace, but attempting through corproate divestment to put more pressure on Israel is just revealingly ignorant.

The church I attend most often, Northwoods Presbyterian Church, is part of PC(USA), although I don't consider myself a "Presbyterian." Because this is so objectionable, I am working on getting some answers from the leadership of the congregation before making a decision on what to do next. But I will say that it'll be difficult for me to continue associating with such objectionable absurdity. And I'm not alone. Just look at PC(USA)'s membership decline from 1984-1994 and 1994-2004 (.pdf). It's bad enough to inject controversial, contentious politics into the church (especially when the church's actions are, at best, empty gestures and meaningless posturing), but to take the wrong side in the dispute is just indefensible.


The Schmidt/Hackett Race-


Gerry Daly trains an eye toward the recent special election in Ohio's Second Congressional district:

One lesson the GOP can take away from the race is that fiscal conservatives are very important for driving turnout, and they are losing patience. A GOP that is the party of God and guns is barely big enough to win even in OH-02. They must also be the party of lower taxes and smaller government.

People trying to extrapolate too many conclusions from this single race in an odd-numbered year are chasing after some bit of insight that just isn't there; some may even be worth of outright mocking and derision.

But this race does support the notion that Democrats running in "red" states and districts can benefit somewhat from weak, tax-hiking Republican opponents. As long as the Democrats are willing to fire up the left-wing base with some surreptitious red meat while simultaneously projecting a moderate (or even conservative) image publicly, RINO (Republican In Name Only) candidates will struggle.


George Galloway-


Austin Bay notes the similarities between George Galloway and British Nazi propagandist Lord Haw Haw, pointing out:

After World War Two Lord Haw Haw was tried for treason — and hanged.

George Galloway's recent comments have become so egregious that it's hard to argue he isn't guilty of treason. This is not a term I throw around lightly, either, but Galloway has crossed the line from crazy, fringe lunatic to seditious, crazy, fringe lunatic.


Libertarian Follies-


The Louisiana Libertarian offers criticism of the Libertarian Party for its crass anti-war ridiculousness:

For all the anger I could have at the Republican Party over spending and its authoritarian stances on certain social issues, I can never consider the Libertarian Party a viable if it continues to put out press releases that would make various International ANSWER seem classy by comparison.

I have definite sympathies for the libertarian point of view. Freedom maximization. Smaller government. Keeping the government out of our lives rather than inviting them in. And there is ample reason to be disappointed by the GOP's profligate spending (although sometimes the case is overstated). But the big 'L' Libertarian Party truly is a disgrace; it will never be a viable alternative to the Republican Party as long as it keeps its kooky leadership around. More unfortunately, because the Libertarian Party is so irrelevant and marginalized, it won't even keep the Republican Party "honest" on spending issues. Which is a shame.


The War On Terror-


The Nose On Your Face blog offers nine alternative names for the Global War On Terror:

7. The Minor Series of Disagreements with Our Middle Eastern Brethren

Read them all. They're laugh-out-loud funny.


The American Economy-


Bizzy Blog (via Atlas Shrugged) notes that the economy must be good since you're not hearing about it:

The economy’s performance is consistently being underplayed by the mainstream press; if you don’t hear it or see it, you don’t know it.

Over the past year or two, I have been constantly amazed by the partisan Democrats who continue to talk down the economy as if it were Hooverian, in the face of such overwhelming evidence to the contrary. If you want to be a ballah or a shot-callah, now's the time to get in the game.


National Communists Against Athletics-


File It Under takes note of the new NCAA policy against Indian mascots, and suggests that the NFL is next for the P.C. police:

In the AFC: The Bills: Thier logo is a buffalo, which the white man killed all of just to starve off the Indians. That's gotta change. The Bengals: Bengal tigers have killed Indians in India, where the mistaken name Indian comes from that was given via Columbus to the native Americans. That is a reminder of how the white euro's have ruined Indians lives. The name and logo have to go. The Browns: Like our Indian skin? Gone. The Broncos: Like the ones you stole from us and killed, white man? Gone.

Go read them all.

This new policy is truly an outrage. Completely ridiculous. The NCAA is a shameful organization. And I say this as a card-carrying Creek Indian.

The good news is that not everyone is going down without a fight.

Today, we're all Seminoles.


The American Tax Code-


The Conservative Cat offers a chuckle-worthy post on the American tax code:

When you submit your tax documents, you are wagering your full and complete understanding of those regulations against jail time and possible bankruptcy. Compared to that, going out and killing a bear to prove your manhood is a cakewalk.




China and Russia-


Vodkapundit thinks about what the joint military exercises of China and Russia could mean:

It's true: China and Russia don't have many aims in common. It's difficult to picture those two countries fighting together, unless the impossible happens and Japan becomes all militaristic and expansionistic again. Yet China and Russia do share one problem: us.

Next week's joint exercises are a very public recognition of that fact, and a very public warning, too.

It's a good and largely underappreciated thing, meanwhile, the U.S. is cultivating such close and favorable relationships with India, Japan, and Australia.


The Da Vinci Code-


Art Chrenkoff (who is, unfortunately, hanging it up soon) offers some thoughts on Dan Brown's widely-read book:

Brown's ideas don't stand up to any historical scrutiny. But in our brave New Age, all the ingredients are present - distrust of organized religion, quest for pseudo-religious "spirituality", obsession with conspiracies - for the acceptance of the Gospel According to Dan as, well, the gospel truth.

I read the book and enjoyed it. But I was disappointed to learn that many people have treated the book as some sort of scholarly and well-researched tome, rather than the fun ahistorical romp that it is.


Israeli Weather Machine-


GOPINION Page Two blog notes some crazy conspiracy theorists on the Aljazeera.com website:

What I want to know is, do the United States and Israel share the weather machine? Or do they each have their own?

Included in the Global War On Terror is a propaganda war. Generally, we're reluctant to sell ourselves, our values, our aims, our successes, and our good deeds, as well as we ought to; meanwhile, the Islamic fundamentalists have poisoned the minds of countless millions with hyperbolic (and somewhat flattering) propaganda. If we're serious about winning the War On Terror, we've got to get serious about combatting the anti-civilization, anti-American propaganda so rife today.


The 2006 Senate Races-


Jayson of PoliPundit looks at the likely stable of GOP Senate candidates for 2006, and grades National Republican Senatorial Committe (NRSC) Chairman Elizabeth Dole on her recruitment:

I’d give Liddy a C+ at this juncture. With a chance – Johanns, Hoeven, Capito – for a B+ at the commencement of next year’s election cycle.

A few potential candidates still need encouragement. Let's hope they make the right decisions.


Robert Byrd-


Patrick Ruffini examines the upcoming Senate race in West Virginia:

Bottom line: Given the clear forward-or-back choice, West Virginia seems ripe for an "exurban strategy" premised on turning out the fast-growing D.C. exurbs in the Panhandle.

Robert Byrd is increasingly his own worst enemy. If he finds himself in a heated, vigorous campaign, I am not sure he'll be able to cut it. Robert Byrd is just not "all there," and it wouldn't be a dirty trick or crossing any line for Republicans to accentuate Byrd's own increasingly awkward behavior. Just get him in the ring. He'll self-destruct. He'll embarrass himself. It'll be sad. It will be difficult to watch. We may feel strangely guilty or icky just being opposite the aging legend as he crumples into all out senility, in full view of the electorate. And it will happen entirely of his own doing. But we have to be willing to apply persistent pressure and risk yet another Max Cleland type of myth concocted by the left regarding "mean-spirited, dirty GOP tricks."

In the past, Robert Byrd has delivered astounding levels of pork for West Virginia. In the past, he was also a member of the Ku Klux Klan. But none of that matters if he is not all there, here and now.


The Hispanic Vote-


Tim Saler looks at the Democrats' strategy for courting the Latino vote:

Hispanics do not necessarily align themselves with or identify with illegal immigrants. Most came to this country legally and have a deep respect for this country’s laws. It is offensive, in fact, to link legal residents of this country who happen to be Hispanic with the illegal immigrants who are pouring over our borders daily, simply because they share the same ethnic classification.

It's clear Howard Dean and the Democrats plan to label the Republicans "racist" for their support of stronger measures against illegal immigration. It's not going to work. The Latino unemployment rate is about as low as it has ever been. The Latino middle class is growing-- and becoming more Republican. Latinos took note of which party supported CAFTA. Latinos share the GOP's respect for faith and family. Latinos (the ones not in unions and/or the Los Angeles County political machine) prefer capitalism to socialism. And Latinos are more sophisticated and politically astute than Howard Dean is giving them credit for, and they will not sell their souls to a single party, let alone the party of Howard Dean.


Liberal Media-


The Belmont Club examines Stalin's plans for a Soviet holocaust:

The attraction of exploring Communist archaeology is based in part on the fascination for the grotesque. It is what morbid minds study in the absence of real alien monster artifacts. It is a tableau of the inconceivable, made all the more startling because it was real....

The landscape of Communism from East Germany to Cambodia, from North Korea to Cuba deserves to preserved as a monument to the greatest act of hypnotism in history.

And yet, there are still people who fail to understand the evils of communism, even after the fact, even after prodigious and voluminous evidence on the matter. Meanwhile, there are people who, today, fail to understand/acknowledge the evils of the enemy we face today.

History always repeats itself, even when people are aware of it.


Also, don't forget to check out all the old Trivia Tidbits Of the Day, the Reform Thursday series, the Quotational Therapy sessions, and the Wednesday Caption Contest (entries are due each Tuesday at 11:59 PM Central Standard Time).

Last Week's Classiness Certification from WILLisms.com:

*Aug. 2, 2005.

WILLisms.com offers a weekly classiness roundup as a weekly feature, every Tuesday, with 15 blog posts deemed classy. The criteria for submissions: incisive original analysis, quirky topics nobody else is covering, fantastic graphics, or other posts that took a lot of work. We love to spread the word on upcoming blogs, being that WILLisms.com also fits that description. If you would like to nominate a post on your blog or another blog for inclusion, email us at WILLisms@gmail.com. Write "Classy Nomination" in the subject. You can also utilize this page to make your submissions. The deadline is each Monday at 11:59 PM Central Time.


Posted by Will Franklin · 9 August 2005 11:18 AM · Comments (8)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 133 -- Inflation And The Misery Index.

The U.S. Inflation Rate-

High oil prices are killing the American pocketbook, despite economic growth, so the nattering nabobs of negativity would have us believe. Inflation is out of control!

Well, although energy prices have boosted inflation concerns, inflation itself has been tame:


And do you remember the Kerry campaign's bogus new misery index, rigged to make the strong economy seem like a disaster?

Yikes, that was a bomb, even as campaign gimmicks go.

Meanwhile, the real misery index is also historically low:


Inflation is low, unemployment is low, GDP growth is consistent and strong. It's time to start calling B.S. on people still bad-mouthing the economy. Just call B.S. Just call B.S. and leave it at that. The evidence is too one-sidedly staggering anymore to pretend like there's even a debate to be had.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: American Tourism On The Rise.

Posted by Will Franklin · 9 August 2005 05:19 AM · Comments (1)

Liberty Today, Liberty Always.

The Carnival of Liberty is up for this week. Some great posts for your perusal.

Posted by Will Franklin · 9 August 2005 01:06 AM · Comments (0)

You Want A Revolution?

Blogrel has the Carnival of Revolutions this week. Go check it out.

Posted by Will Franklin · 8 August 2005 11:37 AM · Comments (0)

Quotational Therapy: Part 34 -- President Bush On The War On Terror.

President George W. Bush, Addressing Congress, September 20, 2001-

On September the 11th, enemies of freedom committed an act of war against our country. Americans have known wars -- but for the past 136 years, they have been wars on foreign soil, except for one Sunday in 1941. Americans have known the casualties of war -- but not at the center of a great city on a peaceful morning. Americans have known surprise attacks -- but never before on thousands of civilians. All of this was brought upon us in a single day -- and night fell on a different world, a world where freedom itself is under attack....

These terrorists kill not merely to end lives, but to disrupt and end a way of life. With every atrocity, they hope that America grows fearful, retreating from the world and forsaking our friends. They stand against us, because we stand in their way.

We are not deceived by their pretenses to piety. We have seen their kind before. They are the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century. By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions -- by abandoning every value except the will to power -- they follow in the path of fascism, and Nazism, and totalitarianism. And they will follow that path all the way, to where it ends: in history's unmarked grave of discarded lies....

Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success. We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime....

This is not, however, just America's fight. And what is at stake is not just America's freedom. This is the world's fight. This is civilization's fight. This is the fight of all who believe in progress and pluralism, tolerance and freedom....

Great harm has been done to us. We have suffered great loss. And in our grief and anger we have found our mission and our moment. Freedom and fear are at war. The advance of human freedom -- the great achievement of our time, and the great hope of every time -- now depends on us. Our nation -- this generation -- will lift a dark threat of violence from our people and our future. We will rally the world to this cause by our efforts, by our courage. We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail....

The course of this conflict is not known, yet its outcome is certain. Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war, and we know that God is not neutral between them.

Read the entire thing here.

Some of President Bush's critics really need to go back and think about this speech (and many others made in the aftermath of September 11).

One common criticism of the President from the left is that Bush did not prepare the American people for a long haul sacrifice in the war on terror. Another is that President Bush made up the whole "freedom" thing only after the U.S. found no warehouses full of nuclear warheads and biological agents in downtown Baghdad. Another is that Bush is too unilateral and disdains the idea of help from other countries.

Each of these criticisms fails to pass the smell test.

Within a week of 9/11, President Bush articulated: 1) that fighting terrorism would be unlike any war in our modern history; 2) that freedom was at war with fear; 3) that we need-- and seek-- the help of our friends and allies around the globe.

And make no mistake, President Bush set the tone for the long-term war against terrorism. Imagine President Gore trying to give that speech. President Bush, for all of the flak he takes for bumbling over his words, has given some of the best presidential speeches in modern American history, and not just right after September 11, 2001, either.

On Comedy Central, argue that Bush has given some of the best presidential speeches in modern American history, and you'll be met with derision and giggles. But go back and listen to some of them. Read them. Unlike some, who pontificate at any given chance, President Bush knows when to be folksy and monosyllabic, when to be technical and precise, when to be focused and succinct, and when to be soaring and profound.

After some of his soaring and profound speeches, President Bush often gets credit from media skeptics, temporarily, for delivering rhetorical greatness. But that impression never lasts, drowned out by the unimportant, day-to-day minutiae about which Washington is so obsessed.


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Hayek On Social Security.

The right quote can be therapeutic, so tune in to WILLisms.com for quotational therapy every Monday and Friday.

Posted by Will Franklin · 8 August 2005 11:07 AM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 132 -- Tourism In America.

Tourist Dollars Rebound, Following 9/11 Slump-

--click for larger version--
In the first quarter of 2005, total tourism-related sales consisted of $571.3 billion of direct tourism sales – sales of goods and services sold directly to visitors, and $426.9 billion of indirect tourism sales – sales of goods and services used to produce what visitors buy. The highest sales growth was in ‘passenger air transportation’ at 20.4 percent. Sales of 'recreation and entertainment' grew 14.5 percent, and sales of 'traveler accommodations’ grew 14.1 percent.

In 2004, tourism employment was also up for the first time since 2000. These are the kinds of anecdotal pieces of evidence that are contributing to the overwhelming body of evidence pointing to an expanding, robust economy.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: U.S. Rate of Saving.

Posted by Will Franklin · 8 August 2005 09:40 AM · Comments (0)

Getting Recharged.

Thanks to my most loyal readers for putting up with the slower blogging of late. A few reasons (excuses):

1. It's summer. It's hot. Computers emanate heat. I like to be away from the computer, if possible. Plus, "politics" is somewhat on vacation right now. There are interesting and important stories, to be sure, but none of them are as urgent or significant as the ones that will re-emerge in about a month from now.

2. My wife is hot. And fun. And she's going to Africa for three weeks on, three weeks off, beginning very soon. So I want to spend lots of time with her now, while I can.

3. Reading. I got a little behind on my leisure reading over the past few months. I'm catching up somewhat.

4. My thesis. This one might be number one, actually. I don't want to be one of those people who spend eight years "writing" a thesis before finally finishing up.

5. Baseball, football, etc. I've been following the Astros a little more closely. And, I've been salivating at the idea of football season approaching, so I've been trying to cram all sorts of life-or-death important (I'm being facetious) statistics into my head before then.

All that being said, I'm rapidly recharging the battery. A less "light" blogging regime will return soon. I promise. How soon, I don't know. It could be tomorrow, or it could be another week or so. But in the meantime, I will definitely keep posting all my regular features (trivia tidbits, quotational therapies, caption contests, reform Thursdays, and classy carnivals). And maybe I will jot out a few random (and hopefully, entertaining/interesting) thoughts whenever they pop up.



Oh, and I should add cooking to the list. I just made this grilled Asian pork tenderloin thing. Ridiculously good.

Posted by Will Franklin · 7 August 2005 08:03 PM · Comments (6)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 131 -- America's National Savings Rate.

Rate of Savings, United States-

Americans are not saving their money. The importance of the savings rate is often overstated, but it recently hit rock bottom.


U.S. Department of Commerce.

There are a variety of reasons for this phenomenon. And a variety of ramifications. Without going into all of them, there is one overriding conclusion we can draw from America's abysmal rate of savings:

Personal Savings Accounts, as part of a comprehensive Social Security reform package, are crucial to the long-term health of our economy.

As Alan Greenspan noted:

The major attraction of personal or private accounts is that they can be constructed to be truly segregated from the unified budget and, therefore, are more likely to induce the federal government to take those actions that would reduce public dissaving and raise national saving.

Want to boost the national rate of saving?

Reform Social Security.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Job Growth.

Posted by Will Franklin · 7 August 2005 11:35 AM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 130 -- Jobs.

American Job Growth-

The American economy just continues to pump out one strong indicator after another. Yesterday, it was yet another strong employment number (.pdf):

Nonfarm employment grew by 207,000 in July, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.0 percent; meanwhile, May and June numbers were revised upward by 42,000 total; meanwhile, average hourly earnings in July were up 0.4% over June.

The unemployment rate, at 5% (which many economists consider "full employment"), is down significantly over the past couple of years:


Logically, as the unemployment rate has fallen, total employment is up in the U.S.


This marks 26 straight months of job growth, with the U.S. economy adding roughly 4 million jobs over that period.


Joint Economic Committee, U.S. Senate.
Bureau of Labor Statistics (.pdf), U.S. Department of Labor.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: The Gender Gap.

Posted by Will Franklin · 6 August 2005 09:10 AM · Comments (1)

Quotational Therapy: Part 33 -- Hayek On Social Security.

Friedrich Hayek, On Social Security-

Though all insurance involves a pooling of risks, private competitive insurance can never effect a deliberate transfer of incom from one previously designated group to another.

Such a redistribution of income has today become the chief purpose of what is still called social "insurance"-- a misnomer even in the early days of these schemes. When in 1935 the United States introduced the scheme, the term "insurance" was retained-- by "a stroke of promotional genius"-- simply to make it more palatable. From the beginning, it had little to do with insurance and has since lost whatever resemblance to insurance it may ever had had. The same is now true in most of those countries which originally started with something more closely akin to insurance.

Though a redistribution of incomes was never the avowed initial purpose of the apparatus of social security, it has now become the actual and admitted aim everywhere. No system of monopolistic compulsory insurance has resisted this transformation into something quite different, an instrument ofor the compulsory redistribution of income....

It is essential that we become clearly aware of the line that separates a state of affairs in which the community accepts the duty of preventing destitution and of providing a minimum level of welfare from that in which it assumes the power to determine the "just" position of everybody and allocates to each what it thinks he deserves. Freedom is critically threatened when the government is given exclusive powers to provide certain services-- powers which, in order to achieve its purpose, it must use for the discretionary coercion of individuals.

The difficulties which social insurance systems are facing everywhere and which have become the cause of recurrent discussion of the "crisis of social security" are the consequence of the fact that an apparatus designed for the relief of poverty has been turned into an instrument for the redistribution of income, a redistribution supposedly based in some non-existing principl of social justice but in fact determined by ad hoc decisions....

It seems to be the fate of all unitary, politically directed schemes for the provision of such services to be turned rapidly into instruments for determining the relative incomes of the great majority and thus for controlling economic activity generally....

It has been well said that, while we used to suffer from social evils, we now suffer from the remedies for them. The difference is that, while in former times the social evils were gradually disappearing with the growth of wealth, the remedies we have introduced are beginning to threaten the continuance of that growth of wealth on which all future improvement depends.


The Constitution of Liberty
, 1960.

We talk so often of the nuts and bolts of Social Security, of the solvency crisis and the projected outlays and deficits, that we sometimes neglect the philosophical argument for Social Security reform. From a freedom maximization standpoint, Social Security reform would allow our economy to actualize more of its potential, while removing a major wealth confiscation/redistribution technique from the leviathan government's arsenal.

Hayek, it should be noted, believed in a safety net for the poorest among us. So does President Bush. So do I. So do most conservatives. But to the extent that the safety net becomes a program used for social engineering, and to the extent that people stop viewing a program as last-resort insurance and instead begin depending on it because it is there, the program is a failure.

It is really no wonder, then, that the American personal savings rate is so low. People who are perfectly able to save for their own retirement are consciously deciding to save less (or nothing at all), because the government, in theory, is already taking about 1/8 of every dollar earned and setting it aside in a savings account, to be returned with compounded interest at retirement. Unfortunately, that's not how it works. At all.

And we can do better. Social Security can and should live up to its intentions, without the recess of personal freedom of Americans; but we must remove the federal government's monopoly on the system, giving individuals personal choice and control. Hayek knew it in 1960. We know it 45 years later. It's time for reform.


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

John Adams.

The right quote can be therapeutic, so tune in to WILLisms.com for quotational therapy every Monday and Friday.

Posted by Will Franklin · 5 August 2005 12:36 PM · Comments (8)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 129 -- The Gender Gap.

Gender Politics-

The shrinking of the Democratic margin among women voters was the most important – and perhaps the least noticed – development of the 2004 election. In the two previous presidential campaigns, the Democratic candidate triumphed among women voters by 16 points (Bill Clinton) and 11 points (Al Gore). In contrast, John Kerry won women voters by a mere 3 points, 51 to 48 percent. Not only did the democratic candidate garner less support among women than in the past, but the overall size of the gender gap narrowed as Bush maintained a solid 11-point margin among men. The small gender gap is consistent with the results of the 2002 congressional elections, when Democrats and Republicans essentially broke even among women, in ontrast to 1998 and 2000 when congressional Democrats won women voters by 6 and 8 points respectively.

To the extent that there is a "gender gap," it's specific to single women. Married women are on board with the Republican message. The next presidential candidate to win in a true landslide will need to bring that single white women number down below 50%, and keep the married white women under 40%.

The shift in the female partisan loyalties becomes even more clear when looking at the more frequent Congressional elections.


Interestingly, Republicans had a lousy showing with single white women in 1994, but still won an overwhelming mandate. Thus, it might be said that to the extent there is a gender gap, it hurts Democrats. Indeed, while Republicans certainly appreciate the soccer (or security) mom vote, the Democrats' "man problem" is far more significant than any "woman problem" Republicans face.


Clearly, being married with kids is an important factor in party preference. An interesting demographic trend to watch may be the rise of (usually liberal) women in America choosing not to have children. If having children becomes a Republican-oriented activity, the political landscape could turn sharply against the Democrats in the next few decades, as parents tend to pass political and cultural values down to their children.

Meanwhile, if married women with children turn against the GOP for whatever reason, it could mean serious trouble.

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research Inc., "Moving Beyond The Gender Gap" (.pdf).


Previous Trivia Tidbit: The High-Performance United States Economic Engine.

Posted by Will Franklin · 5 August 2005 08:30 AM · Comments (0)

Social Security Reform Thursday: Week Twenty-Seven -- The Cost Of Doing Nothing.


Thursdays are good days for reform, because they fall between Wednesdays and Fridays.

That's why WILLisms.com offers a chart or graph, every Thursday, pertinent to Social Security reform.

This week's topic:

The High Cost Of Social Security's Status Quo.

Critics of Social Security reform like to harp on the alleged trillion dollar "transition" costs of the system. They say it's just too expensive to introduce personal accounts. They are lying, or ignorant, or both.

Social Security already has built-in costs over the short-, medium-, and long-term time frames. President Bush's reform ideas do not pile on additional new debt onto the Social Security system; indeed, recognizing existing obligations and paying them off sooner rather than later actually eases the Social Security crisis.

Let's take yet another look at a contributing problem to Social Security's insolvency (.pdf):


Over the next quarter century, the number of American workers will rise by about 13%. Meanwhile, the number of retirees will increase by 90%, roughly 7 times faster.

There is little room left for debate on the Social Security's problems. Whether you want to quibble about whether Social Security faces a crisis or a looming/potential crisis, there can be no mistaking the structural flaws currently in the system.

But even worse is what doing nothing would cost the American economy. As Harvard economist (and short-list candidate to replace Alan Greenspan) Martin Feldstein noted:

A number of research studies have been done on the extent to which Social Security wealth depresses saving and replaces real wealth. Although none of these is a definitive study that establishes a precise measure of the substitution of Social Security wealth for other household wealth, taken together these studies do imply that the Social Security program causes each generation to reduce its savings substantially and thereby to incur a substantial loss of real investment income. Even a conservative estimate that each dollar of Social Security wealth displaces only 50 cents of private wealth accumulation implies that the annual loss of national income would exceed 4 percent of GDP....

Conservative assumptions imply that Social Security privatization would increase the economic well-being of future generations by an amount equal to 5 percent of GDP each year as long as the system lasts.

That's a huge handicap, and a gi-normous misssed opportunity.

We're tying one hand behind our backs with our current Social Security system. In a fight with China and other emerging economies, it would be nice to have both economic fists available.

But what about the Trust Fund? Won't it take care of our problems?

No, for two main reasons.

1. The Trust Fund is being raided and spent by Congress on bridges and stem cell research and war and welfare and other programs and projects entirely unrelated to retirement security.

2. Even if the Trust Fund were more than a series of IO-Me slips from the government to itself, sitting in a filing cabinet in West Virginia, the trust fund does not have enough to cover Social Security's liabilities.

An important figure to remember in the Trust Fund debate (.pdf):

The associated federal resource shortfall—that is, the shortfall including federal liabilities to the Social Security Trust Fund—amounts to $12.8 trillion. Those estimates have received little attention in the media—presumably because many people do not appreciate their meaning or implications. Simply stated, the federal government must come up with $12.8 trillion of resources for Social Security—either from the Social Security program itself—by reducing its future benefit commitments—or from other programs—through tax increases or spending cuts.


Very ouch.

One likely solution, knowing the propensity of Congress to avoid cutting benefits to a key constituency in every district in the land, is to raise payroll taxes yet again (.pdf):


So, if we are to believe that "there is no crisis," we will likely see payroll taxes increase by more than 5 percentage points, with no end in sight.

And it's really so stupid to do that, given that we have an opportunity to avoid it. We can do better. Let's do it.

Bottom line (.pdf):

The current annual cost of maintaining the status quo in Social Security is staggeringly higher than the present value of the 10-year cost of adopting personal accounts.

Every year we fail to reform Social Security, the cost grows by hundreds of billions of dollars. There's no excuse for doing nothing. The cost is simply too high.

The clock is ticking.


Previous Reform Thursday graphics can be seen here:

-Week One (Costs Exceed Revenues).
-Week Two (Social Security Can't Pay Promised Benefits).
-Week Three (Americans Getting Older).
-Week Three, bonus (The Templeton Curve).
-Week Four (Fewer Workers, More Retirees).
-Week Five (History of Payroll Tax Base Increases).
-Week Six (Seniors Living Longer).
-Week Six, bonus (Less Workers, More Beneficiaries).
-Week Seven (History of Payroll Tax Increases).
-Week Seven, bonus (Personal Accounts Do Achieve Solvency).
-Week Eight (Forty Year Trend Of Increasing Mandatory Spending).
-Week Nine (Diminishing Benefits Sans Reform).
-Week Ten (Elderly Dependence On Social Security).
-Week Eleven (Entitlement Spending Eating The Budget).
-Week Twelve (Benefit Comparison, Bush's Plan versus No Plan).
-Week Thirteen (Younger Americans and Lifecycle Funds).
-Week Fourteen (The Thrift Savings Plan).
-Week Fifteen (Understanding Progressive Indexing).
-Week Sixteen (The Graying of America).
-Week Seventeen (Debunking Myths).
-Week Eighteen (Debunking Myths).
-Week Nineteen (Reform Needed Sooner Rather Than Later).
-Week Twenty (Global Success With Personal Accounts).
-Week Twenty-One (GROW Accounts: Stopping The Raid).
-Week Twenty-Two (Millions of Lockboxes).
-Week Twenty-Three (Support for Ryan-DeMint).
-Week Twenty-Four (KidSave Accounts).
-Week Twenty-Five (Latinos and Social Security).
-Week Twenty-Six (AmeriSave).

Tune into WILLisms.com each Thursday for more important graphical data supporting Social Security reform.

Posted by Will Franklin · 4 August 2005 01:52 PM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 128 -- America's Ridiculously Big Economy.

The World's Greatest Economic Engine-


The United States economy (using 2004 World Bank numbers) is larger than the second (Japan), third (Germany), fourth (United Kingdom), and fifth (France) largest economies, combined. If you add the sixth (Italy), seventh (China), eighth (Spain), ninth (Canada), tenth (India), eleventh (South Korea), twelfth (Mexico), thirteenth (Australia), fourteenth (Brazil), fifteenth (Russia), sixteenth (Netherlands), seventeenth (Switzerland), eighteenth (Belgium), nineteenth (Sweden), and twentieth (Turkey) largest economies together, the sum is still smaller than the United States economy.

The disparity becomes even more stark when you compare the relative population sizes.

This explains how the United States can spend such a relatively small amount of our GDP on our military and still have, far and away, the largest military force in the world. It also explains how the U.S. can offer, far and away, more than any other country, in economic aid to poorer countries, yet still get criticized for not doing enough.

It is also worth noting that the American economy has now experienced 9 straight quarters of GDP growth over 3% (with some quarters much higher). At consistent 3% growth, with an economy so gargantuan, the U.S. will grow by roughly 350 billion dollars in a single year. That's like adding an entire Croatia (a great country to visit, incidentally) in a single year. Compound that 3% growth rate for a few years, and it's like adding a Canada, a Turkey, and an Ireland, combined. Of course, those economies are also typically growing over that time, but you get the idea.

-World Bank (.pdf).
- CIA.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Protectionist Democrats.

Posted by Will Franklin · 4 August 2005 06:52 AM · Comments (6)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 17.

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:


The actual caption:

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, right, picks up a translation device that fell off of U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow during a meeting at the Presidential Palace, in Brasilia, Brazil, on Monday, August 1, 2005. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

There must be a better caption out there for this photograph.

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, August 9. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at WILLisms@gmail.com.

Last week's photo:


Winners from last week:



On a busride to the nations capital, the Senate Democrats unveil their suggestions for suitable judges to replace outgoing Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.



Returning from Connecticut, the dogs are now considering suing "Foxwoods" for false advertising. "We sniffed everywhere but there were no foxes at all..." said one disappointed canine on the charter bus.


Buckley F. Williams:

Things have been far different in the world of dog travel since PETA successfully pushed their "No Puppy Left Behind" bill through Congress.

Honorable Mention 1.


MoveOn.org picks up "newly registered" Democratic voters for the 2006 election.

Honorable Mention 2.


Greyhound Bus Lines caves to diversification litigation brought about by Jessie Jackson.

Honorable Mention 3.

Mr. Right:

The Jane Fonda "Crisco" powered bus tour against the Iraq War gets underway. As anticipated, the group is heavily populated by "yellow dog" Democrats of all breeds!

Captioning does a body good. Enter today!

Posted by Will Franklin · 3 August 2005 09:18 AM · Comments (19)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 127 -- Free Trade.

Free Trade Partisanship-



More useful is the proportion of the party:


Clearly, partisanship and the "Washington scoreboard" played a role in these decisions. Presumably, when President Clinton was in office, more anti-trade Democrats voted against their ideological leanings in order to give the President a political win; some free-trade-inclined Republicans, meanwhile, attempted to hand Clinton a political loss.

But if that's the case, then it seems that Democrats are either less true to their principles (and, accordingly, Republicans are more true to theirs) OR that Democrats are more cynical about political gamesmanship. Sure, some Republicans behaved badly during the Clinton administration, opposing WJC merely to score political points, but Democrats have taken it to a new and unprecedented low.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Recess Appointments.

Posted by Will Franklin · 3 August 2005 09:09 AM · Comments (0)

Some Call It A Bonfire/Carnival Of Classiness...

We call it "Classiness, All Around Us."


Click to explore more WILLisms.com.

In no particular order, WILLisms.com presents classiness from the blogosphere (now with 50% more classy!):


Tobacco Coincidence-


Division of Labour blog points out an interesting coincidence.

It's not exactly the Virgin Mary, but it's still interesting.


Overcoming Negative Emotions and Boosting Motivation-


Steve Pavlina offers a bit of motivational therapy:

Just like physical exercise should be a daily habit, I feel daily emotional conditioning is at least as important. Whenever I’ve fallen out of this habit for weeks or months at a time, I’ve invariably gotten sucked down into negative emotional states. Then I remember my solution, plug back in, and my attitude and productivity shoot back up again.

If you've ever been around a "Debbie Downer" type, you know that it's easy to get dragged down with a pessimist. A little bit of conscious "mood exercise" might be helpful if you're constantly around those types.




The Right Wing Nut House blog ponders whether NASA has become obsolete:

Flying below the public’s radar are a host of NASA successes that have transformed everything from physics to engineering. NASA missions in the last decade have opened up brand new scientific vistas using space based gamma ray and x-ray telescopes, rovers on Mars, a probe to Saturn’s moon Titan, and most recently, the extraordinary achievement of the Deep Impact probe. This is what NASA does best – build and launch probes that private industry wouldn’t touch.

It's been time, for quite some time, to retire the Shuttle and instead build ad hoc space vehicles to suit each mission. It's also time to introduce a little competition into the mix-- somehow.




Fred Fry International Blog offers the signs that Allah is not on your side:

*Out of the five sides of the Pentagon, you manage to hit the side that was just renovated, - and reinforced, - and still half empty

A list worth some thought. One of the reasons jihadists use to justify their evil deeds is that they have God on their side. But if you look at the history of even successful terrorist attacks, it doesn't seem like terrorists can catch a break. Unfortunately, it only takes a terrorist being right once, while we have to be right every time.


Random Searches-


I AM (also) CANADIAN blog offers a humorous take on a terrible situation:

Imagine the freedom! With this pack you can not only run when stopped by authorities, but yell religious statements all with the confidence of knowing that you will not be shot.

On a more serious note, it seems completely absurd to a waste precious Homeland Security resources stopping and searching 80-year-old Swedish women for the sake of neutrality and fairness.


Geopolitical Base Realignment and Uzbekistan-


Daniel Drezner analyzes the recent very underreported developments around the world, including German and Korean base realignments and getting kicked out of Uzbekistan earlier than expected:

Another way of interpreting the data is that the administration is actually willing to put its emphasis on democracy promotion front and center, even in regions considered of geostrategic importance. The willingness to leave nondemocratic Uzbekistan while maintaining bases in democratizing Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan suggests that the U.S. is recalculating the requirements to be a long-term partner of the U.S.

Exactly. Walking the walk is far more difficult than talking the talk, but on so many of these developments, the Bush adminstration is doing just that.


Stem Cell Research-


Patrick Ruffini notes that that What We Have Here Is A Failure To Communicate:

Americans like their social issues framed in black-and-white absolutes. Overturning Roe -- on the lukewarm day in hell it would ever come to pass -- is not letting the people, through their elected state legislatures, decide this thorny issue -- potentially giving California more liberal abortion laws than exist today; it is the outright banning of abortion in America. Likewise, opening up federally funded stem cell research to nineteen existing cell lines is not, well, just that. It is an Orwellian prohibition on all research.

This issue is often mind-boggling to me. You have "libertarians" supporting massive government funding of stem cells, just to stick it to "religious conservatives." Meanwhile, Bush is the first president ever to authorize federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, but somehow he is blamed/credited with bannning it?

I distinctly remember Michael J. Fox coming out and saying how excited he was that President Bush had taken his stand in favor of stem cell research. I recall certain members of the media wondering whether this would be Bush's "No New Taxes" Waterloo that would erode his support from social conservatives.

Then, somehow, the issue gets twisted beyond recognition.


Hugo Chavez Channels Nancy Pelosi-


Daly Thoughts notices the uncanny similiarities in rhetoric between Nancy Pelosi and Hugo Chavez:

I do not think it is far-fetched to suggest that Chavez got his ideas from Pelosi.

Our leaders need to be more cognizant of how their words are used as propaganda by unscrupulous foreign entities. And the American people need to pay close attention when that happens, and vote accordingly.


Recess Appointments-


Joust the Facts blog shreds to pieces the various arguments against John Bolton, and wonders if anyone remembers Bill Lann Lee. The best part is the thorough and swift dismantling of the Moderate Voice's bland, predictably safe, and entirely uninspired take on the non-controversy:

8/1/05 2045: Joe Gandelman notes the appointment, and makes several points worthy of discussion.

The bottom line: it is NOT an illegal move.

No, it's not. Nor is it an "abuse of power."

The other bottom line: Bolton doesn't go to the United Nations as someone who enjoys widespread support in the Senate. Nor in opinion polls. Nor, if you believe the testimony, among many people who worked with him.

Well, he actually enjoys support of a majority of Senators. You should have pointed that out. Opinion polls don't matter, in that there's been so much sound and fury signifying nothing expended against him that, of course, the opinion polls are divided. And it would be great if all his people like him, but if he's demanding he will make some enemies. There are people I work with who don't like me. Why? Their job performance has lacked, and I've pointed it out.

Earlier, I was on the phone with Blockbuster, because they erroneously sent me a card saying I had failed to return a movie. I was nice. I was cordial. And then, after about 25 minutes of dilly-dallying and otherwise wasting my time, I raised my voice almost to a yell.

Wham. The situation was resolved.

Unfortunately, Bolton is is not the caricature that Democrats have painted. Because that's what me need.




The Pink Flamingo Bar & Grill asks a series of very straightforward questions:

Simple question for Clifford May, exactly how was Islam spread? Was it spread by armies? If that bit of history is too obscure then explain how Islam is being spread in the Sudan this very second? Is Islam called the religion of the sword for nothing? Does Islam have bloody borders? Did Muhammad himself strike off 800 heads of the unbelievers in Medina? Please explain how that sort of behavior is explained by a religion of Peace? Please explain this startling list of the battles fought by Mohammad's followers over the course of a mere 200 years.

While many followers of Islam do believe, genuinely, that Islam is the religion of peace, and while I think Pierre overstates the case a bit (for example, some Imams HAVE denounced Osama bin Laden), we do need to stop the naive sunshine and lollypops attitude about the war on terror. More of these moderate Muslims we hear so much about also need to stand up, en masse, and be counted.


War For Oil-


Fishkite blog notes that the war for oil meme makes very little sense, given the facts:

Hmm… ya think maybe we had better reasons to confront Saddam Hussein?

Wait, don’t tell me, I’m afraid your answer to that question is:

No… blood for oil.

It was never about oil.


Paul Krugman-


Donald Luskin, in a link-rich post, examines the Francophilic family values of Paul Krugman:

Even with all that unemployment, the French jobs picture is worse than it seems. What Krugman calls the "choice" to work less is, in fact, a case of the employed being underemployed. When the economy can't produce more work for them to do, they couldn't work more than their 1,441 hours a year if they wanted to.

Not that we should ever aim to compare our economy with France's, but it is rather amazing how the U.S. is leaving France in the dust-- and even more amazing how the Paul Krugmans of the world try to argue otherwise.


Haley Barbour-


Riding Sun blog reports on Haley Barbour's visit to a Republicans Abroad event in Japan:

During a cocktail reception after his speech, I asked Gov. Barbour if he had been hinting that he plans to throw his hat in the ring.

"Ha!" he laughed. "There are lots of successful governors."


The respective D and R fields are already looking crowded, so why not? As long as the clear losers withdraw with enough time to size up the legitimate candidates, the more the merrier.


Iran's Nukes-


Roger L. Simon notes that the American media is a little too non-chalant in its reporting on Iran's nuclear program:

When I see a quote atttributed to something like a "U. S. source," I would trust my Aunt Fanny in Nome, Alaska over the speaker or the writer of the article - even though I don't have an Aunt Fanny in Nome or anywhere else. It's time for the Washington Post and the rest of the Mainstream Media establishment to put an end to this nonsense.

Iran is extremely close to "going nuclear." Closer than the reports thus far in the media have indicated.

How do I know? An Iranian agent let it slip. And when Iran announces its capabilities, it will have had them for several months.


Liberal Media-


Oxblog takes on the "he said, she said" defense liberals use to defend the integrity of their biased media:

Only by prentending that American journalists aren't already analytical and interpretive can liberals defend the media from the charge of bias. If they admit that "he said/she said" is a myth, they will begin to understand why the center and the right are so frustrated with the media.

Exactly. There are several defenses of the liberal media that pop up in these sorts of debates. Many of them are contradictory, and most of them are clearly untrue. The he said/she said argument is one of the weaker justifications/denials/excuses for the media's current left-leaning bias.


Also, don't forget to check out all the old Trivia Tidbits Of the Day, the Reform Thursday series, the Quotational Therapy sessions, and the Wednesday Caption Contest (entries are due each Tuesday at 11:59 PM Central Standard Time).

Last Week's Classiness Certification from WILLisms.com:

*July 26, 2005.

WILLisms.com offers a weekly classiness roundup as a weekly feature, every Tuesday, with 15 blog posts deemed classy. The criteria for submissions: incisive original analysis, quirky topics nobody else is covering, fantastic graphics, or other posts that took a lot of work. We love to spread the word on upcoming blogs, being that WILLisms.com also fits that description. If you would like to nominate a post on your blog or another blog for inclusion, email us at WILLisms@gmail.com. Write "Classy Nomination" in the subject. You can also utilize this page to make your submissions. The deadline is each Monday at 11:59 PM Central Time.


Posted by Will Franklin · 2 August 2005 11:30 AM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 126 -- Recess Appointments.

Recess Appointments, Carter to Bush-


The Los Angeles Times, and C-SPAN.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: The American Economy.

Posted by Will Franklin · 2 August 2005 09:19 AM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 125 -- The Amazing American Economy.

The U.S. Economy-

In several recent Trivia Tidbits, WILLisms.com has offered a look into the American economy. The bottom line: it's looking pretty darn good.


On Friday, GDP growth numbers were released, indicating that in the Second Quarter of this year, the American economy, despite relatively high energy prices, expanded by 3.4%. But did you realize how Inventories affected GDP growth in Q2:

...were it not for a significant drawdown of inventories during the April-June period, the economy's growth rate last quarter would have been much higher. Final sales of domestic product, which represents GDP less inventory changes, grew at nearly 6 percent last quarter. Firms will need to replenish their inventories, and that process will contribute to a growing economy.

Indeed, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, low inventories shaved 2.32% off 2nd Quarter GDP growth. Most analysts do not expect low inventories to last.

To make an analogy, low inventories are one of the few parts of GDP growth that are only bad news in the very short term. Think of it like a tightly-twisted coil. It may seem like it's significantly contracted (and it is, for now), but it's really just getting ready to spring forth.

And with today's strong manufacturing numbers, American businesses are clearly replenishing those inventories in this quarter.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: NBA.

Posted by Will Franklin · 1 August 2005 12:07 PM · Comments (0)

Quotational Therapy: Part 33 -- John Adams.

John Adams, Inaugural Address-

When it was first perceived, in early times, that no middle course for America remained between unlimited submission to a foreign legislature and a total independence of its claims, men of reflection were less apprehensive of danger from the formidable power of fleets and armies they must determine to resist than from those contests and dissensions which would certainly arise concerning the forms of government to be instituted over the whole and over the parts of this extensive country. Relying, however, on the purity of their intentions, the justice of their cause, and the integrity and intelligence of the people, under an overruling Providence which had so signally protected this country from the first, the representatives of this nation, then consisting of little more than half its present number, not only broke to pieces the chains which were forging and the rod of iron that was lifted up, but frankly cut asunder the ties which had bound them, and launched into an ocean of uncertainty.

-John Adams, March 4, 1797.

And that uncertainty is something that we take for granted. It took nothing less than a series of miracles for the infant America to seize-- and maintain-- its independence.

The U.S. Constitution was largely an experimental document. It followed on the heels of the defunct Articles of Confederation. While optimism certainly abounded, there were likely few who genuinely believed the American experiment would last as long as it has.

We should never forget that out of uncertainty, great things can materialize. The Middle East is in a transitional phase today. We don't know if there are any Adamses and Jeffersons and Washingtons and Hamiltons to guide the region through the uncertainty, but we do know that defending the 20th century status quo in that region was and is a recipe for perpetual turmoil and strife.


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Thomas Paine.

The right quote can be therapeutic, so tune in to WILLisms.com for quotational therapy every Monday and Friday.

Posted by Will Franklin · 1 August 2005 11:23 AM · Comments (2)

The Carnival Of Revolutions.

Sophistpundit, the original Revolutionizer, is once again hosting the Carnival of Revolutions. Go check it out.

Posted by Will Franklin · 1 August 2005 10:59 AM · Comments (0)

The Carnival of History.


Welcome to the 13th installment of the History Carnival, appearing one week only at WILLisms.com. Let's get right into it.

First, a bit of historical humor from the Skwib blog.

There's been quite a debate over Jared Diamond's works and the Guns, Germs, & Steel production on PBS.

Some participating in the debate:
Savage Minds blog.
Brad DeLong.
Easily Distracted.
Frog in a Well.
Crooked Timber.

The no great matter blog, meanwhile, explains why critiques of Diamond are inherently difficult to accomplish.

Across the Bay blog offers us Ethnohistory, Ideology, and Modern Politics.

PaleoJudaica blog examines the historiocity of the Gospels, and posits:

It is heartbreaking to think of how many ancient sources have been lost over the centuries.

Cliopatra blog examines The Strange Career of Alleys, Avenues, Boulevards, and Interstates.

Giornale Nuovo writes on The Empire of Vegetables (and some really neat pictures).

Acephalous blog writes about the problems of historical generalizations.

Rebecca Goetz takes issue with the notion that bloggers are damaged goods in academia.

Alun blog takes note of ice age phallus symbols and the history of sexual artifacts.

Snail's Tales also offers an Ephesian example of phallus-happy art.

Alan Allport at the Horizon blog gives us a five-part take on "Some damn fool thing in the Balkans: the origins of the Peloponnesian War" (Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five).

Philobiblion offers a new use for footnotes.

Respectful Insolence blog believes that too many people compare situations to Hitler's Nazi Germany, far too often.

The Little Professor takes on Lumping and Splitting and the struggle between generalizations and specificizations.

Pearsall's Books profiles the Irish in Canada.

Frog in a Well blog takes a gander at Japanese representations of Asian history.

The Volokh Conspiracy looks at the fascinating history of the (in)famous Scopes "monkey" trial.

Just how smart are those hominids, anyway?

Coffee Grounds blog asserts that the New World has a uniquely screwed up class consciousness.

The Rhine River blog offers a three part look at Tristan and the Sites of Gerrman Memory (Part One; Part Two; Part Three).

Searchlight Crusade offers an interesting take on Islam, Historical Christianity, and Reform.

Antti Leppänen's notes on Korea profiles the holocaust and Japanese occupation.

Early Modern Notes looks at Early Stuart Libels, and an oldschool fart joke.

On the Commons blog looks at Newton, Camden, and Common Things.

And last, but certainly not least, is the Fascinating History blog's take on the history of tuberculosis.


The next History Carnival, on or near the 15th of August, will appear at Philobiblon. Email Natalie Bennet at natalieben[at]journ[dot]freeserve[dot]co[dot]uk.

If you're interested in hosting in the future, contact the History Carnival's Sharon Howard sharon[at]earlymodernweb[dot]org[dot]uk.

Posted by Will Franklin · 1 August 2005 10:43 AM · Comments (4)