Willisms
Navigation

Buy WILLisms

XML Feed


Featured Entries

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

Iran's Sham Election In Houston.
June 20, 2005 5:36 AM

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



Donate





Links

Blogroll Me!







Search



Archives

July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004




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

Pundit Roundtable: Leaks.
July 9, 2006

A WILLisms.com(ic), by Ken McCracken
July 14, 2006




Credits

Powered by Movable Type 3.17
Site Design by Sekimori




WILLisms.com June 2008 Book of the Month (certified classy):











The WILLisms.com Gift Shop: Support This Site

giftshopbanner.gif











This Week's Carnival of Revolutions: carnivalbutton.gif



Carnival Home Base: homebase.gif

























Willisms

« August 2005 | WILLisms.com | October 2005 »

Blame Is Not A Plan

You got to love the way the Left operates. *cough*

9-11 happens and Bush takes out the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Iraq is still in violation of UN sanctions, so we invade and remove Saddam from power.

President Bush acted. Because he acted he is blamed and will be blamed from now until the end of time by the Left.

If Afghanistan stays in the dark ages and stays embroiled in conflict, then the Left will say we failed and it is all Bush's fault. He must not have had a good enough plan or he lacked the required leadership. If terrorism rises or if extremists take over Pakistan, again the Left will blame Bush. Even if it all falls apart 10 or 20 years after Bush leaves office, it does not matter to the Left. Bush is to blame.

If Iraq falls into civil war, the Left will blame Bush. They will claim all the above things I have already written. The same holds true if terrorist attacks continue or if Iran exerts undo influence on the Iraqi government. Bush will be to blame. Again, even if all these things happen years down the road, Bush will be to blame. All because he acted.

This same scenario holds true for all the other pressing issues confronting Bush. If he acts in any way to rein in the North Koreans or if he takes action against a belligerent Iran or if he sells weapons to the Taiwanese. If whatever action he takes turns out to not work or have adverse consequences, the Left will blame him.

I guess one cannot fault them too much. After all, if you act, you do take on the responsibility for the consequences of that action.

However.

The Left wants it both ways. If Bush acts they are waiting to hit him upside his head if he fails. But he doesn't act...well then they will blame him for not taking action. Follow that?

Bush is already blamed for not taking action prior to 9-11. If he had not taken action in Afghanistan, the Left would have said he was weak and he should have attacked our enemy. If he had not taken action against Iraq and Saddam launch a chemical attack against Israel or invaded another country or gave WMD's to terrorists, the Left would have blamed Bush for not acting.

This line of thinking is carried out with Iran and North Korea as well.

The Left and by proxy, Democrats, have no plan for anything. The ONLY thing they have a plan for is to blame Bush and Republicans for anything that turns out not quite like we had hoped. If it is because of action or inaction, they will blame. But ask them what their plan would be for say North Korea and you will get some gobbly gook about seeking allies and the UN. Didn't we already try that and they basically gave the whole world the finger and did what they wanted anyway? The same for Iraq. Ask them what they would have done and they will claim they would have kept pressure on Saddam through continued enforcement of UN sanctions. Gee, we saw how good that worked. Ten years after the First Gulf War the Left was trying to end the sanctions and were praising the Oil For Food Program.

They have no plan. Leadership, real leadership means taking risks. It would have been so much easier for Bush, in the short term, to leave Iraq alone. Same with dealing with the Iranians and North Koreans. But he took the action he felt was in the best long term interests of the U.S. Have there been mistakes? Plenty. Could there have been better planning? Don't get me started. Could the President have used the bully pulpit better? Amen to that. Regardless, Bush led. He didn't have too, look at Clintons halfhearted attempt at fighting terrorism, but Bush took the risks.

I am open to criticism of Bush. There are many places that I am highly critical of him, but I will not fault him for leading the country. That is why we elected him and re-elected him. You may not like Bush, you may hate him, you may be so blinded by hate of the man that you do not see why he had to do what he has done, that is fine, this is America, but instead of blaming him from now until the end of time, why not have some realistic plans for how YOU would handle things. You never know, you may get a chance to be in power again. It sure would suck to find out that you had no plan. Being against Bush is not a plan.

Mike controls the world from his blog WunderKraut.com

Posted by Wunderkraut · 30 September 2005 07:14 PM · Comments (5)

U.S. Won't Relinquish the Internet

Let's see, the UN wants the US to relinquish control of the internet traffic governance.

Umm... NO.

Sorry, those guys couldn't manage a Jiffy Lube. I don't think that international oversight by, say, China, is in the best interests of free flowing information. For some reason, I don't see a reason to share this with the international community. It seems that Gross, the coordinator for international communications and information policy, doesn't see a need for it either.

"We will not agree to the U.N. taking over the management of the Internet....Some countries want that. We think that's unacceptable."
I think he sounds a little ambigous. What else does he say?
"The genius of the Internet is that it has been flexible (and) private-sector led."

"We've been very, very clear throughout the process that there are certain things we can agree to and certain things we can't agree to," Gross said. "It's not a negotiating issue, this is a matter of national policy."

Now while this has ruffled a few feathers at the UN, (I know it's hard to believe that the US isn't universally liked there) I have a feeling that this isn't going to change.

Information, and the control of it, secures our superpower status for the future. Just like Russia lost out to the US in the cold war due, in part, to economic power, we can now control a vast amount of the worlds economic power via information. You have to know that China, who is trying to ramp up, is very aware of this and would love nothing more that to regulate that flow both inside and outside that country. Likewise, other countries would as well.

This is something that will contine to creep along in the backpages of the news, but make no mistake it is an issue that is as important as the ones me make on North Korea, Afghanistan or North Korea.

Rob B. usually usurps the UN over at File it Under.

Posted by Hoodlumman · 30 September 2005 12:33 PM · Comments (10)

Wow, This Blog Is Much Classier Than Mine....

Greetings WILLisms readers!

Just a quick post to introduce myself to everyone. The other guest bloggers have been here before, but today is my first day.

My name is Mike and I blog over at WunderKraut.com. I have only been blogging since this past February, but I have had my site for several years. After reading all of Will’s stuff, go check me out.

In addition to the blog, I have a collection of essays and a couple of guest essays. I am always looking for new essays to post. If you have one burning a hole in your pocket, send it on to me.

A brief background on me: I am a Civil Engineer and my wife of ten years and I live in a small town in South Georgia. We have three biological children and are in the process of adopting our daughter from China.

That about sums it up. I will be posting my first real post later this evening. Just because it is the weekend, do not forget about us. With all the guest bloggers, we are bound to have something remotely interesting to say.

Mike is the proud parent of WunderKraut.com

Posted by Wunderkraut · 30 September 2005 11:25 AM · Comments (8)

The Future (finally) Is Now (sort of...)

Remember growing up and reading those "futuristic" books of how the future would be?

The books were probably printed in the 60's or 70's but they still were in public school libraries when I checked and rechecked them out, repeatedly, in elementary school in the early-mid 80's.

I loved the animated drawings of "Cities of the future" with all the futuristic things they entailed - robots, automated walkways, lots of tubes and really shiny buildings that didn't have things like... edges.

But the coolest thing of all was flying cars.

Between these books and Hollywood movies (Bladerunner had flying cars and it took place in 2010-ish Los Angeles; Back to the Future had flying car modification and it took place in 2015 Hill Valley) we should be on the brink of commuter skyways.

Where are our flying cars? We have no flying cars.

Or do we?

Flying Car of the FUTURE!

For a mere $3,500,000.00 you can own your very own flying car.

And as an added bonus, this baby runs on cleaner alcohol-based fuel and actually gets 21 miles per gallon - in case gas pump prices are taking their toll.

The fact that this sucker gets better economy than most SUVs and trucks is impressive.

Buyers must clear regulatory requirements, including International Traffic in Arms Regulations and Federal Aviation Administration authorization.

And then there's the issue of parking. But, hey... baby steps, right?

I'd just find it hugely entertaining to see the face of a state trooper as s/he clocks you going about 340 mph.

I think that we're still a long way off from affordable flying cars. Once again, technology, economics and real-life trump hollywood. But maybe that's a good thing. We've all seen morons not able to handle simple things like traffic signs, HOV lanes and not putting down their cell phones.

putitdown.jpg

Do we want these people in aircraft?

Hoodlumman normally crash lands over at File it Under.

Posted by Hoodlumman · 30 September 2005 09:15 AM · Comments (6)

Vacation: Guest Bloggers.

The illustrious Mrs. WILLisms.com and I are flying to Los Angeles on Friday morning to pick up her 93-year-old Oma's car and drive it all over the country- ultimately to Houston-- where she is moving.

We're doing the winery thing in Napa, then Las Vegas, then Zion National Park in Utah, then somewhere yet to be determined in New Mexico, then my Meem's house in Oklahoma City, then down through Texas to Houston.

But we've got a great team of guest bloggers lined up for ya.

Ken from Am I A Pundit Now? blog.

The guys from File It Under blog.

And Mike from Wunderkraut.

Should be a fun time.

Thanks to all those guys for their help over the next 10-11 days or so. They'll take care of y'all "real nice like."

I will be gone until October 10-ish. When I get back there'll be some big site news. And I will choose 5 or 6 blogs to add the ole blogroll, as well, when I return. So keep the suggestions coming.

All of the regular WILLisms.com features will pick back up when I get back. Awesome.

Posted by Will Franklin · 29 September 2005 10:20 PM · Comments (9)

The Ole Blogroll.

In the interests of keeping the blogroll healthy, up-to-date, and meaningful, I think I am going to take off a couple or few blogs. Right now I am leaning toward taking off The Jawa Report. The somewhat new black background makes it difficult to read. And I am not a fan-- at all-- of "bedwetting conservatives" who would sell their own up the river because it might be temporarily expedient. I don't like that at all. And it's been happening far too much lately.

But I'd also like some suggestions for blogs I should add. I am thinking I want to add maybe 5 of them. Which must-read blogs don't I have on there? Feel free to nominate your own blog, even.

UPDATE:

I went ahead and de-blogrolled The Jawa Report. I am just fed up with people piling on the clearly in-the-right good guys who need our support. I am sick of "conservatives" opposing Social Security reform. I am sick of "conservatives" rushing to pile on good people on our side who happen to be under fire from Democrats and the establishment media.

I was never The Jawa Report blogroll anyway, so I am not sure why it was ever on mine.

And, for the record, there are other prominent conservative blogs out there that also want DeLay permanently gone, for equally weak and short-sighted reasons. But I am willing to give some of them a pass, because they actually offer compelling content on a regular basis, unlike the weak, lame, and increasingly difficult-to-read The Jawa Report.

Posted by Will Franklin · 29 September 2005 11:25 AM · Comments (24)

Social Security Reform Thursday: Week Thirty-Four -- People Living Longer Straining The System.

reformthursdayblue.gif

Thursdays are good days for reform, because they fall between Wednesdays and Fridays. And reform is a long-haul process, not a fleeting event.

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

This week's topic:

Growth In Life Expectancy Makes Social Security Untenable.

The Urban Institute notes that longer life expectancy, while certainly a good thing, means that people will receive Social Security benefits for much longer (.pdf):

morethantenyears.gif

Not only are more people beginning to collect Social Security benefits, they are projected to collect it for far longer than anyone in the early days of the program.

Unfortunately, resources are limited. We can't afford this profound growth in entitlement spending (and let's not forget that most spending growth in the Bush administration, 2001 to 2005, has come not from the dreaded pork barrel, but from large automatic increases in entitlement spending).

Meanwhile, the Baby Boom ended nearly half a century ago. Lower birthrates mean slower labor force growth today than when Social Security was set up in the 1930s. And labor force growth is projected to get even slower in the future (.pdf):

laborforcegrowth.gif

This is why reform is so imperative. More people, collecting more benefits, for longer, with less workers to pay for those benefits. It's not a recipe for a sustainable program.


Here's a terrible idea: let's put off passing GROW Accounts or any other reform of the program "because of Katrina." Because that makes so much sense. Not. A short-term negative economic jolt means we should let a rapidly approaching long-term economic drag fester and boil? Hmm.

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).
-Week Thirty (Reform Better Deal Than Status Quo).
-Week Thirty-One (Social Security As A Labor Cost).
-Week Thirty-Two (Social Security And Dependence On Government).
-Week Thirty-Three (Social Security, Currently A Bad Deal For African-Americans).

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 29 September 2005 10:22 AM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 180 -- Best Places To Do Business.

The Best Business Climates-

The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and World Bank copublished Doing Business In 2006. You've maybe already seen the data in the report (.pdf), but it is certainly interesting.

top30economies.gif

And if you want a closer look, with sortable tables, try this.

Good for the good guys, but we can do better.

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, countries in which it is easier to do business, the unemployment rate is also lower (.pdf):

unemploymentease.gif

Also interesting but not surprising, smaller informal sectors (also known as "the black market") are found in countries in which it is easier to do business (.pdf):

informalsector.gif

Seems like a no brainer, right? Offer disincentives for starting a business, and people will either not start businesses or go underground entirely.


-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Religion.

Posted by Will Franklin · 29 September 2005 08:31 AM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 179 -- Religion.

Religion, It's A Good Thing-

Whether you are Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, atheist, agnostic, or anything else at all, everyone should respect your right to worship or not worship as you please. That's what America is all about.

Some Americans on all parts of the political spectrum (but mostly on the left) are increasingly hostile toward religion. They want it entirely removed from the public square. Religion is just inherently offensive to some Americans.

Many religion-skeptics in this country make blanket statements about religion being at the root of the world's problems. If only we could take away religion, organized or otherwise, people would all just get along. There would be no war, no strife, and so on.

Well, they may have a point about some world religions (you know which one I mean) being more inherently resistant to modernity than others. And some religions may have been abused by elites for nefarious and violent purposes throughout history.

But even if you are not at all religious, it is important to acknowledge the impact of religion on modern society. One can be ethical and moral without religion, and religious people can be unethical and immoral, but it is hard to deny that religion is responsible for a net positive in character development for young people. And religious individuals make a disproportionately positive and important contribution to the fabric of American society.

So let's look at the role of religion in America. How does "being religious" affect the behavior of Americans? What impact does it have on our society?

Heritage relays the results of a University of Chicago study on the matter:

Of those who report having compassionate feelings for the disadvantaged, religious respondents were 23 percentage points more likely to donate to charities at least once a year than were their secular counterparts (89 vs. 66 percent) and 32 points more likely to donate every month (50 vs. 18 percent).
religiousdonations.gif
Likewise, they were 34 percentage points more likely to volunteer at least once a year (63 vs. 29 percent) and 22 points more likely to volunteer each month (28 percent vs. 6 percent).

Civic involvement by individuals is the key to healthy and productive communities, and it is necessary for the functioning of any democracy.

religiousvolunteering.gif

And it cuts across party lines.

After controlling for demographic variables, religious people who expressed compassion were 12 percentage points more likely to donate to charity each year and 35 points more likely to volunteer than were their secular counterparts.

What's more:

In the year 2000, on average, religious people in this sample donated $2,210 and served as volunteers 12 times annually; making up 33 percent of the sample population, they accounted for 52 percent of the charitable donations and 45 percent of the times volunteered. On average, secular individuals in this sample gave annual charitable donations of $642 and volunteered 5.8 times annually; While making up 26 percent of the sample population, they contributed 13 percent of the money given to charity and accounted for 17 percent of the times volunteered.

Now, it does not make someone a better person for donating time and money to charity, nor is someone a bad person if they do not donate time and money to charity.

But if I were down on my luck, I would clearly prefer the help of a faith-based organization to that of a bureacratic government program. And let's not forget that religious folks are happier than secular people.

Religion, it would seem, is a force for good. The "Armies of Compassion" should be unleashed, not maligned or marginalized.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: U.S. Refineries.

Posted by Will Franklin · 28 September 2005 03:47 PM · Comments (8)

FLASHBACK: Ronnie Earle & Tom DeLay.

U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has been indicted (.pdf) by Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle. Roy Blunt of Missouri will take over as Majority Leader as DeLay steps down, pursuant to the GOP caucus rules.

Note in this flashback post: Earle is a very liberal partisan hack.

A few things to keep in mind:

1. Texas has an odd system, where the Travis County (very liberal Austin) District Attorney has jurisdiction over the entire system of state politics.

2. Former Congressman and ethics violator Chris Bell (D), who plans to run for Governor, is salivating about this. He intends to run as the "anti-DeLay" next year. That's sour grapes. Same with Martin Frost. Same with all of the folks thrust out of power due to redistricting. They feel like they are entitled to power, even though the public has rejected their ideas. They are wrong.

3. Some folks, meanwhile, argue that Earle indicted more Democrats than Republicans in his career. Well, Texas used to be a one-party state. And it was a one-party Democrat-controlled state. So of course he indicted Democrats back in the day.

4. Earle also indicted Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison in a disgraceful bit of partisan hackery. Those charges were eventually thrown out, and Earle was disgraced and embarrassed.

5. Read the flashback post linked above, but don't forget about Ronnie Earle's "dollars for dismissals" business.

6. Let's not forget what this is really about. It's about sour grapes. It's about Tom DeLay's profound effectiveness at winning elections and winning legislative victories. It's about the shift of power in Texas from the Democrats to the Republicans. It's about the advancement of the conservative movement.

And let's remember that Democrats mangled the Congressional districts for many decades. Although Republicans won every single statewide race in Texas, by huge margins, year after year, Democrats still controlled the state delegation to Congress, 17-13. That was blatant gerrymandering. Tom DeLay helped un-gerrymander those districts so the delegation would reflect the will of Texas voters.

Does anyone remember when the Texas Democrats ran away to Oklahoma? That's what this is about. They ran away to prevent a quorum on entirely necessary redistricting. Democrats are desperate to regain the power they have lost in Texas over the past decade. Democrats just can't accept that Texans have rejected their ideas.

Think about it for a second.

Had Bush v. Gore gone to the House of Representatives (which votes by state delegation in such a situation) in 2000 due to continued gridlock, Texas would have voted for Gore. Texas would have gone for Al Gore! All because the Democrats drew the districts to eliminate Republican representation in Congress.

The actual charges focus on relatively silly fundraising violations, and the minutiae of them will quickly bore people, after an initial media-driven anti-DeLay, anti-GOP hullabaloo/hatchet job.

And it seems like DeLay is being punished, politically, for merely being indicted by a partisan prosector for something that may or may not be legitimate.

Thus, there was almost an incentive for Earle to hand down an indictment, any indictment, on this, the last day of this Grand Jury's term. Because even a poor indictment on a relatively routine campaign finance violation (or "conspiracy" to commit a campaign finance violation, not even the actual violation itself) would lead to DeLay having to step down as Majority Leader. That's just one part of why this seems so fishy.

The weirdest thing about all of this nonsense is that Republicans would have won those seats in the state legislature with or without those relatively meager amounts of (allegedly illegal) campaign money.

But let's keep this in perspective. The criminal justice system should not be a place to wage political battles. But this is certainly what we're seeing today.

Posted by Will Franklin · 28 September 2005 12:22 PM · Comments (9)

September Straw Poll.

I am always interested in how my readers feel about certain political issues and politicians. Go check out Patrick Ruffini's latest (and best, thus far) straw poll. If you click on that link and vote, it will take note of how the WILLisms.com crowd voted.

Posted by Will Franklin · 28 September 2005 08:53 AM · Comments (0)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 25.

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:

bushpoint.gif

The actual caption:

US President George W. Bush shakes hands with members of a search and recue unit in Lake Charles, Louisiana. US President George W. Bush this month toured areas hit by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in a vain quest for a 'bullhorn moment' that would recall his leadership after the September 11 strikes(AFP/File/Jim Watson)

There must be a better caption out there for this photograph, particularly considering how seethingly biased it is. Geez.

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, October 11 (a two week time frame this go around). Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at WILLisms@gmail.com.


Last week's photo:

rumsfeldeyes.gif

Winners from last week:

1.

John (appreciate the Seinfeld reference):

Defending Gen Honore's recent comments about the press being "Stuck on stupid," Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld wearily rubs his eyes as NBC's David Gregory shreiks, "Well, the jerk store called, and they're running out of YOU!"


2.

Hoodlumman:

After catching a glimpse of Helen Thomas in an appallingly short skirt, Donald Rumsfeld contemplates gouging his eyes out.


3.

Zsa Zsa:

I have seen London. I have seen France. I really didn't need to see Helen in her underpants!


DIShonorable mention.

Gus Garciaton:

Donald Rumsfeld explains to the visiting Kyrgyz press corps, "Me Rumsfeld. Me play joke. Me put pee pee in your coke."

Captioning is so awesome it hurts.

Enter today! Or tomorrow, whatever. You have two weeks this time around.

Posted by Will Franklin · 28 September 2005 08:45 AM · Comments (29)

Hate Mail Time.

It's Hate Mail Time!

hatemail.gif

I get the occasional hate mail and hate comment (like this one, a while back), and usually I just ignore them, but this one was just too absurd not to share.

It's pretty weird, it's got some rough language, and you may feel dumber for having read it, so read on at your own peril...

Read More »


Posted by Will Franklin · 27 September 2005 09:34 PM · Comments (14)

Some Call It A Bonfire (Or Carnival) Of Classiness...

We call it "Classiness, All Around Us."

certifiedclassy.gif

Click to explore more WILLisms.com.


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

1.

Faith-Based Groups-

faithbased.gif

Ankle Biting Pundits notes that some on the left are angry about faith-based organizations receiving reimbursements from the government to help cover their costs in responding to Katrina:

It's people like Barry Lynn who are making it damn near impossible for the Democrat party to convince people they are on the side of religious people, and are not reactionary secularists who scream bloody murder at the mere mention of religion.

There's a good reason why the public does not trust liberals on these issues. Some Americans certainly fear or distrust the "religious right." But far more Americans are worried about radical secularists and their anti-religion agenda.


2.

Iraq-

iraqbases.gif

Am I A Pundit Now? blog makes the case for permanent military bases in Iraq:

Far from being the neocon imperialist nightmare envisioned by the overly-imaginative Left, permanent bases in Iraq will be tangible evidence of our continued commitment to a free and prosperous Iraq, and don't let the symbolic value of that for Iraqis and all the peoples of the region be underestimated either.

And it's not about projecting American empire. It's about protecting liberty. When Iraq is a free, independent, and prosperous nation, it will be a formidable and strategically-located ally in the spread of liberty in the world.


3.

Fake Ashamed Republican-

notashamed.gif

Wizbang blog notes that an self-proclaimed Republican individual, protesting, and promoted by the media, is no Republican at all:

The San Francisco Chronicle has fallen for this guy's act on more than one occasion, which should hardly come as a surprise.

It is still hard to believe. But it does fit the "Republican voters are disgruntled" narrative the media are pushing today.


4.

Vicious Racists-

bullconnor.gif

Michelle Malkin points out that the Bush=Hitler thing is sooo 2004. This year's analogy is Bull Connor:

Sadly, so-called civil rights leaders abandoned the high road for cheap demagoguery years ago.

The good news is that few people really buy into these sorts of ridiculous comparisons. In fact, the sum of these turns off most reasonable and genuinely on-the-fence types of voters, to the extent there are any left.


5.

Krugman, Disrobed-

krugmanunraveled.gif

Don Luskin annihilates the absurdity of left-wing columnist Paul Krugman:

With Paul Krugman's lies exposed by the Times' own "public editor," with TimesSelect hiding his columns behind a wall of fees, and with the Times Company faltering financially, one thing is for sure. The opinions of America's looniest liberal pundit are worth exactly what his online readers have been paying for them all these years -- nothing. Even Times loyalists, it seems, would rather have a few martinis, instead.

Krugman: increasingly marginal. But still influential among the media establishment.


6.

Hill-

hillaryclintonpic.gif

Rightwing Nuthouse notes that Hillary Clinton is eschewing months of hard work cultivating a moderate image:

Indeed, Clinton has been caught in a trap that every Democrat since 1972 has found themselves. In order to get nominated for the office of President, a Democrat must be liberal enough to energize the base of the party so that primary voters will come out in the dead of winter in Iowa and New Hampshire to support their candidacy and lefty donors will open their pocketbooks to supply enough funds to buy the TV time necessary to have a viable candidacy. But once nominated, the putative candidate then must scramble toward the middle of the political spectrum in order to woo the independents necessary to win the Presidency.

Hillary has no chance in the general election in 2008. I hope, however, that she is the nominee.

7.

Louisiana's Clean Slate-

louisianaleadership.gif

The Louisiana Libertarian has some thoughts on evacuating Louisiana, as well as the failure of local leadership:

...in order to get better leadership, we must change the political culture of this state. Since the election of Huey Long to Louisiana's governorship in the 1920s, Louisianians have been conditioned to rely on government for everything....

To do this, we must change the political climate of the state and move it to a more fiscally conservative/libertarian persuasion. Unfortunately, that will have to be in a forthcoming essay.

In every disaster, there is room for opportunity. The people of Louisiana have an opportunity to start over. Unfortunately, it's difficult to see the kinds of changes that need to happen, happening.

8.

Forbes 400-

upwardmobility.gif

Asymmetrical Information points out, despite some weird reporting in the establishment media, just how mobile wealth really is in America:

I had to look elsewhere to discover that there were 33 new members this year, for a turnover of 8.25% in one year, and that Google's founders were shaking up the list. Instead of providing stagnation statistics, however, Munk simply marks her ennui with the astounding observation that the richest people in the U.S. are, apparently, filthy rich. It's all so...dreary and repetitive!

Far more self-made fortunes today than before.
Far fewer inherited fortunes than before.
More immigrants than before.
More without a college degree.
Fewer with Harvard or Yale diplomas.

The American Dream is more accessible than ever.

9.

Global Warming-

globalwarminghyperbole.gif

TMH's Bacon Bits blog takes on bad science and bad journalism:

Bad journalism was on display in the reporting of Disaster Katrina, as it will continue to be with regard to Iraq, judicial appointments, and other touch-button issues in which liberals have an axe to grind. Does bad journalism — not only the Blair/Rather variety, but the subtle brand we see every day — ever really get corrected?

Journalism is decaying today. But out of that decay may arise something new.


10.

Weakest crowd ever-

hippiesjunkiescommies.gif

Silent Running notes that recent Sheehan-driven anti-war protests fell ridiculously short:

So, 100,000? 300,000? 500,000? This motley assortment of clowns and buffoons didn’t come anywhere close to the size of any of those crowds.

These lame protests garner an inordinate amount of media coverage. But, honestly, that's not such a bad thing. The more America sees of these weirdoes, the less they like their ideas.

------------------------------------------------------------


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:

*September 20, 2005.

WILLisms.com offers a weekly classiness roundup as a weekly feature, every Tuesday, with 10 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.

Classy.

Posted by Will Franklin · 27 September 2005 02:55 PM · Comments (5)

The Kerry Campaign: Inside The Bubble.

John Kerry once wondered publicly how he could have been losing to "this guy" (President Bush). There were a lot of reasons Kerry lost, but the overriding reason was quite simply that George W. Bush won. John Kerry and his liberal allies outspent, outmanned, out-news-cycled, and otherwise outresourced the Bush campaign; Kerry received a remarkably high number of votes. But President Bush received more votes than any other candidate in American history. Win the most votes, and you win the election. It's not brain surgery.

There is a new documentary that goes inside the Kerry campaign. And there's no way I am not going to see this thing:

It features, among other not-ready-for-prime-time moments, Clinton scowling and rolling her eyes over an apparent Kerry gaffe during a presidential debate; Kerry pretending to interview himself and babbling in Italian while waiting for a real interview to begin; Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) cursing at reporters during a campaign stop, and Kerry message guru Robert Shrum confidently declaring a few days before the 2004 election: "Zogby [a prominent pollster] just announced who's gonna win. Us!"

And it's not a partisan hatchet job. Inside The Bubble is the creation of Steve Rosenbaum, a life-long Democrat and Kerry supporter in 2004. But it looks like it'll be a hilarious peek into the dysfunction of the Kerry campaign.

Some sample clips:

VIDEO: The New York Times cover (.mov file).

loftus.gif

In this one, Jim Loftus, Kerry Communications guy, frantically declares that The New York Times is out to get the Kerry campaign.

A choice quote from the film:

"By any objective standard, what the f*** is that? This is the f***ing New York Times f***ing Magazine! Look at the f***ing picture! Look at the inside! They're not trying to f*** us?"

Ridiculous.


VIDEO: The Pony (.mov file).

lovinlamb.gif

In this one, Jim Loftus works on getting a pony in a hotel room for a birthday celebration.

A choice quote from the film:

When I was an advance guy if someone said, 'Get a pony on the 10th floor of this hotel in four hours -- I want a pony on the 1028 floor in four hours,' I would have said, 'What color eyes should it have?' All I got -- I gave these guys four days, 'Find me a pony, get it in the g***amn room...' -- 'Where am I gonna find a pony?' I said, 'Go to the f***ing phone book, you're an advance guy!'"

These are both so absurd, I don't know where to begin. You have to watch them to believe them.

Posted by Will Franklin · 27 September 2005 11:34 AM · Comments (7)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 178 -- Refineries.

Refineries In America-

The Gulf Coast oil refineries were largely unscathed after Rita, thank goodness.

usrefineries.gif
...there are 21 refineries, making up 27.5 percent of the domestic refining capacity, between Lake Charles, Louisiana and Corpus Christi, Texas.

U.S. Refineries are heavily concentrated along the Gulf Coast for a number of reasons, a primary one being that 29% of domestic oil production occurs in the region.

So where is the rest of the refining in America?

United States Refinery Capacity by State (barrels per day)
Alabama: 130,200 bpd
Alaska: 375,900 bpd
Arkansas: 76,800 bpd
California: 2,090,401 bpd
*Los Angeles: 1,433,300 bpd
*San Francisco: 541,801 bpd
*Bakersfield: 115,300 bpd
Colorado: 87,000 bpd
Delaware: 175,000 bpd
Georgia: 28,000 bpd
Hawaii: 147,500 bpd
Illinois: 896,000 bpd
Indiana: 433,000 bpd
Kansas: 296,200 bpd
Kentucky: 227,500 bpd
Louisiana: 2,945,800 bpd
*New Orleans: 1,305,000 bpd
*Baton Rouge: 882,500 bpd
*Lake Charles: 702,000 bpd
Michigan: 74,000 bpd
Minnesota: 335,000 bpd
Mississippi: 364,800 bpd
Montana: 181,200 bpd
Nevada: 1,700 bpd
New Jersey: 728,000 bpd
New Mexico: 117,800 bpd
North Dakota: 58,000 bpd
Ohio: 551,400 bpd
Oklahoma: 474,000 bpd
Pennsylvania: 770,000 bpd
Tennessee: 180,000 bpd
Texas: 4,609,500 bpd
*Houston: 2,291,900 bpd
*Port Arthur: 1,122,000 bpd
*Corpus Christi: 676,000 bpd
Utah: 163,600 bpd
Virginia: 58,600 bpd
Washington: 609,000 bpd
West Virginia: 19,400 bpd
Wisconsin: 33,000 bpd
Wyoming: 152,000 bpd

Source:
Joint Economic Committee, U.S. Senate (.pdf).

First, the bad news on refineries: it has been 29 years since the last refinery was built in the United States.

Now, the good news: the existing refineries have become more efficient. But there's still a need for more refining capacity in this country. It's a national security issue:

There were 325 oil refineries in the U.S. in 1981, only 149 today. Since 1976, domestic refining capacity dropped from 18.6 million barrels of oil a day to 16.8 million barrels of oil today.

Part of why there have been no new refineries are NIMBYism and environmentalism. People don't want refineries in their area. And environmental regulations have strangled the incentives for building these exceedingly expensive new plants.

A large oil refinery costs $4 billion to $6 billion to build. This is not something to be taken lightly, especially in such a cyclical boom-and-bust industry.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: The Remarkably Awesome Houston Evacuation.

Posted by Will Franklin · 27 September 2005 09:04 AM · Comments (3)

Texas A&M Aggie Joke Of The Day.

Aggie Is As Aggie Does-

Of those who read WILLisms.com with any sort of regularity, I know the Big XII is very well represented. There are Sooners and Longhorns and Aggies and just about everything else who chime in anytime I post anything about The University of Texas.

So, before I post this, know that this is all in good fun. And Aggies are good people.

Also know that the Aggie Joke Of The Day will not become any permanent sort of feature on WILLisms.com. This, however, is just too good to pass up.

The best Aggie jokes are often not really jokes at all. They just... are.

I present--- Loupot's Bookstore, in College Station, Texas (via the SciGuy):

atmbookstore.jpg
-click for larger version-

Boarding up the windows, from the inside. Many, many, many miles inland. Hmm, yeah.

Aggie engineering at its finest.

I guess the boards stayed dry, at least. And all of those terrible looters would have been deterred from plundering all of the wonderful maroon-colored gloriousness within.

Something like that.

UPDATE:

More Hurricane Aggie joke fun.

Posted by Will Franklin · 26 September 2005 12:00 PM · Comments (9)

The Carnival of Revolutions.

This week's Carnival of Revolutions is up and running.

We also need some hosts for upcoming weeks. If you want to host the carnival, shoot me an email.

Check the HOME BASE for upcoming open weeks.

Posted by Will Franklin · 26 September 2005 10:43 AM · Comments (0)

Quotational Therapy: Part 47 -- Barry Goldwater, On Freedom.

Barry Goldwater, On Freedom-

Nobody should be surprised or perplexed when George W. Bush, conservative, talks about the spread of freedom in the world. This is nothing new in our nation's history, and certainly nothing new in the conservative movement.

Barry Goldwater, for example, believed accomodation of Soviet designs on the world was the wrong approach. Barry Goldwater, unlike so many Americans of his time who feared the inevitability of Communist domination of the world, believed in the amazing power of his own ideas:

barrygoldh2o.gif
"I ask your help, and the help of all Americans, so that an American president can tell Nikita Khrushchev: 'You are wrong! Our children will not live under communism--your children will live under freedom!"

-Barry Goldwater, 1964.

Listen to the speech here.

-----------------------------

Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Vince Lombardi.

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 26 September 2005 07:55 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 177 -- No Comparable Evacuation In History.

The Evacuation Of Houston, Texas-

Texas was ready.

So many Texans were even thinking it after Katrina:

"BRING IT ON. We can handle it. Just let us prove it."

Texas missed the big one, and there will certainly be lessons for next time, but the evacuation of Houston, Texas was nothing short of spectacular. And I am confident the relief and recovery efforts would have been the same.

Just to put the evacuation of Houston in perspective, think about this:

There exists no comparable evacuation effort in world history. Texas safely evacuated approximately 2.7 million people – equivalent of the population of Kansas – in harm’s way in 36 hours. By comparison:

* Berlin Air Lift – evacuated 177,000 people and moved 2.3 million tons of cargo over 11 months
* Three Mile Island - 200,000 evacuated
* Chernobyl - 135,000 evacuated

Using the world’s largest commercial airliner, the Boeing 747 which typically can carry 400 passengers, it would have taken 6,750 capacity flights to move 2.7 million people. There are roughly 1,000 Boeing 747s in existence, less than 15 percent of the needed capacity.

In other words, there was no simple answer, here.

Some folks complained that Texas' aversion to commuter rail, and our preference for mega-highways, proved to be some sort of Achilles heel. If only we had some rail, we could have moved all of those 2+ million people efficiently and without any of that telegenic gridlock.

Hmm. I don't think I need to do the math on that one, do I? The number of rail cars and tracks necessary for such an evacuation is staggering. And, meanwhile, what do you do about people wanting to take stockpiles of food and supplies, or their firearms, or their furniture and photo albums and other household items, or their pets, or their cars themselves, all out of harms way? Do they all get to ride the choo-choo, too?

Come on.

And the ticket situation gets complicated. And then there's the people going to stay with grandma-- who doesn't drive-- in Small Town, U.S.A. Does the train really go there, too?

Get real. High-speed rail might be a viable (and maybe even profitable) form of transportation between Texas cities one day, but as for today, get real people. Get real.

Some people complained about the "contra-flow" being too little, too late. Well, the contra-flow is a mammoth undertaking itself:

During the evacuation, TxDOT contra-flowed 400 miles of highway. Some 250 miles of interstate leaving Houston was contra-flowed by 1 p.m. on Thursday - a full 36 hours before the hurricane landed. This entailed placing more than 100 highway barriers and sending 1,299 troopers to the southeast part of Texas, or 35 percent of all 3,700 commissioned DPS officers statewide.

Contra-flow was not some fun little game. It was a massive undertaking. In a little pow-wow outside my house on Thursday afternoon, one of my neighbors complained about the contra-flow not happening on Highway 59 running SW out of Houston.

Seriously? At that point, Rita still could have wobbled her way SW of Houston.

Contra-flow is a serious undertaking, not something you can snap on and off. It was ordered plenty early. And let's all remember that the roads were entirely clear, clearer than usual, with many, many hours to spare.

I mean, seriously, people, get a grip.

Like a run on a bank, you can't really stop groupthink. There aren't a lot of great public policy strategies, or private sector responses, for lemmings behaving out of the ordinary in a time of potential crisis, especially one that is following a recent and real crisis.

Similarly, people running out of gasoline was unfortunate. It is possible that we'll see some sort of last-resort system in place for future evacuations of major cities to get stranded vehicles gasoline. Maybe we'll see fuel tankers staged along evacuation routes in advance.

But let's remember that Houston was also burgeoning from Katrina evacuees. Hundreds of thousands of them. Maybe 1/3 of the cars we spotted heading East on I-10 toward Beaumont on Thursday had Louisiana plates.

Let's also remember those images of Katrina. Even without New Orleans-style flooding, many Houstonians did not want to be left behind in any sort of Mad Max landscape, with no utilities, no food, no nothing. So people who shouldn't have left, left.

All of those extra people on the road, and a very small proportion ran out of gas. And nobody remained stranded with their vehicles for too long, and certainly not as the storm approached.

And you can't blame people for topping their vehicles off with gas, even when they didn't need it, but that was a major part of the problem.

The typical daily consumption of gasoline for the entire Houston area is roughly 531,000 gallons. Exxon Mobil alone delivered that much gas to just 14 locations on Saturday alone. Clearly people were filling up, topping off, and otherwise doing things they wouldn't normally do. Just like a run on a bank.

Strange, unpredictable group psychology led to the gas shortages, more than an any actual lack of preparedness:

Gasoline retail purchases since the storm are up by 40 percent, said Shell Oil Co. President John Hofmeister, but the average size of the transaction was down by 50 percent. That means people are topping off their tanks, the last thing they should do in a situation like this.

So you had this perfect storm leading to gas shortages. But think about this very underreported fact:

...more than 25,000 gallons [of gas were] dispensed directly to over 5,000 stranded motorists.

A brilliant response. And I can attest that we did not see any stranded vehicles on the road Saturday morning heading back to our house. They had all been removed from the side of the road. Rescued, presumably. And that doesn't even include all the civilian "sheepdogs" we saw bringing gas cans to stranded motorists on Friday.

And where was all the price gouging? I didn't see any. In fact, to the extent gas was available, it was cheaper than usual.

Meanwhile, for having so many people moving all at once like that, I expected dozens of separate deaths from wrecks and heat stroke, etc.

The only fatalities had very little to do with the actual evacuation and more to do with flukish, tragic accidents. A woman slipping and hitting her head after spending the night in a car wash. A bus full of elderly folks in Dallas fanning those explosive flames with their oxygen tanks. Both sad events. But it is astounding how safe and sound this evacuation really was.

Was it frustrating? Yeah. But that had more to do with the hurricane itself and the disruption to the normal routine of life than anything else.

Let's hope we don't have to do it ever again, but at least now we know we can do it.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Gas taxes.

Posted by Will Franklin · 26 September 2005 07:53 AM · Comments (2)

RITA: Houston Returning To Normal.

Houston is very much still in flux. We're not going to be back to normal for a few more days, but we're rapidly getting there. We were almost out of gasoline, so it was a relief to get gas near downtown a couple of hours ago. It was a Chevron near the intersection of Louisiana and Hadley in midtown Houston. They only had premium, but that was fine.

We noticed restaurants opening up all over the place. And grocery stores are also opening. We ate brunch buffet at Pappadeaux seafood restaurant on Richmond. They never lost power, so we had a nice brunch there, although it was somewhat abbreviated due to lack of shipments coming in this past few days. Still, it was nice to have hot muffins, fresh salad, fruit salad, rice, crawfish etouffee, cold peel-and-eat shrimp, seafood gumbo, grilled snapper, veggies, and all sorts of other good Cajun-style stuff. And there was a shorter wait than there usually would be.

Getting back to normal, but it may be a few more days before we'll be able to pull up to any gas station, guaranteed, and get plenty of gas. It may be a few more days before every grocery store will have every normal item, every time.

At least the local channels have ended their 24/7 coverage. They needed to have done so Saturday at about 11 in the morning. Yesterday's college football experience was certainly lacking.

Packing, unpacking, battening down our hatches (including moving all of our furniture and other items away from windows), evacuating, then not evacuating, then packing up again, and unpacking, then packing, then unpacking, then un-battening down our hatches... well, it's been laborious. We're tired. We're glad we dodged the bullet. But it may be a day or two more before I am back in regular blogging mode.

Katrina raised awareness and made people freak out and evacuate; Rita will neutralize that the next time around. It is hard to imagine so many people evacuating next time around.

As far as public policy responses/changes, I have nothing but good things to say about everyone who helped facilitate the evacuation. One long-term project in the works is the Trans-Texas Corridor. It'll have rail. It'll have ridiculous numbers of lanes, with separate lanes for cars and large trucks. All this on top of the current infrastructure.

Otherwise, there's not much else that you can do to prevent a hurricane. Or even mitigate the damage from one. You can build flood walls and levees. You can build buildings stronger. And you can help evacuate everyone you can. You can predict that hurricane cone with marginally greater certainty. But you can't stop the forces of nature. And people need to remember that, re: the ongoing Katrina recriminations.

Posted by Will Franklin · 25 September 2005 02:31 PM · Comments (3)

RITA: Twigs On The Ground In Houston.

Well, let's call it a fire drill. And we passed.

Can we do better?

Yeah. Always.

But this was an amazing success story, evacuating so many millions of people on finite road space.

Houston prepared for a prize fight, only to win by forfeit. It's a relief to win. It's always good to win. But some people will definitely feel like they've been robbed of the chance to prove that we can handle it, that we're ready and equipped to handle a major hurricane.

We're now back home at our house in between Montrose, River Oaks, and The Heights, near downtown Houston. The roads are fine. Our power never went out. No clocks are flashing. Our fridge is still cold. Our air conditioner is turned on again. We've gone from 84 to 77.4 degrees in here in the past hour or so.

Nice.

We've also unpacked yet again and moved almost all of our furniture back into place (we had moved it away from windows). We've put our wedding crystal back into place, made the beds again, and otherwise tried to go back to normal as soon as possible.

Mrs. WILLisms.com finally can let her guard down a bit. She spent 15-16 hours traveling from one of the poorest countries in the world back to Houston (after a 3-week assignment), only to spend the next three days packing, unpacking, evacuating, not evacuating, and otherwise stressed out.

The roads have some twigs and leaves in them, and a few of those micro-thin shingles here or there. But these are nothing to write home about. The roads are clear. There is no flooding. No power lines are down. People are out walking their dogs and driving around looking at the damage.

I've been through maybe 50 or 100 much stronger storms, with more rain, more wind, and so on. I've driven and been driven through much, much worse.

The irritating part is that everything is still closed up, boarded up, and so on. It may be a day or two before gas stations have gas again and restaurants and grocery stores and pharmacies are all open once again.

The only actual damage to our place was to a wooden cross-hatch lattice deak with a rose bush growing through it. Minor damage. We'll drive a nail into it and fix it. And on our back patio, our bougainvillea is also growing through our neighbor's lattice/fence. And that lattice was precarious to begin with. It fell apart enirely, but it is still tangled up in the dangling two-story bougainvillea plant.

I'd say that the roads heading back into Houston are going to get very congested in a hurry, especially with the sporadic rain. Our drive back to our house (we came back the same way we went out) was far less enjoyable and empty than yesterday. All of those abandoned vehicles we saw yesterday were gone today. I guess they were towed or retrieved somehow.

Pretty wild Rita ended up hitting Louisiana harder than Houston, given that so many tens or hundreds of thousands of people evacuated from Houston to Louisiana. I think most folks in Louisiana got out after the 'cane tracked Eastward. So let's hope the loss of life is marginal and property damage is minimal.

Thanks for all of your prayers and thoughts and concerns.

Posted by Will Franklin · 24 September 2005 12:59 PM · Comments (7)

RITA: Calm.

So I am at the house of my parents-in-law, in far NW Houston. On dial-up internet.

Last night was sort of anti-climactic. Low winds. Hardly any rain. Power still on (although it turned off a couple of times for a few seconds, and could still do so again).

What Katrina was for raising awareness and freaking people out, Rita will be to un-raising awareness. All those millions of people who evacuated are going to return home and feel silly their homes were not even touched. Branches didn't even fall around here. Pine needles hardly fell off pine trees.

As Rita "hit," we were playing basketball outside. Years ago, in Midland, Texas (which is West Texas) or Ponca City, Oklahoma (North Oklahoma), when I played basketball outside constantly, there were days-- and many of them-- with far greater winds than even the gusts last night. I played soccer as a little kid in far worse conditions than this.

I hope everyone in the storm's path is okay, but I can pretty much guarantee there will never be an evacuation of Houston so early and so complete.

Kristel's mom: "We're extremely disappointed. Poor excuse of a hurricane." But she is glad it got us to come over. Honestly, for all the preparation everyone around here did, including boarding up windows and stockpiling food and water, and otherwise running around paying way too much for things they don't need, there will be a lot of disappointed folks. I know it sounds weird, but if you've been bracing for a punch to the gut for a few days and it doesn't come, you'll just feel gypped.

Signing off for now, but I will try to report a little more on this before it's all said and done.

Posted by Will Franklin · 24 September 2005 09:09 AM · Comments (2)

HURRICANE RITA: Latest Track -- Looking Like Port Arthur.

The latest track is up.

ritaportarthur.gif

Right now, the strike probabilities are thus:

Port Arthur, Texas: 53%
Galveston, Texas: 48%
Freeport, Texas: 33%
New Iberia, Louisiana: 30%
Port O Connor, Texas: 13%
New Orleans, Louisiana: 11%
Buras, Louisiana: 6%
Gulfport, Mississippi: 6%
Mobile, Alabama: 5%
Corpus Christi, Texas: 4%
Pensacola, Florida: 3%

The wind is picking up. And it's HOT outside. Just waiting it out West of Houston, pretty far inland.

Posted by Will Franklin · 23 September 2005 04:31 PM · Comments (3)

RITA: Abandoned Cars, Abandoned Roads, In Houston.

We are at my parents' house in West Houston. More like Katy (West on I-10). The roads getting far out of town are empty. If anyone still wants to evacuate, they could. They shouldn't. But they could if they wanted to.

The blame game squads have already been trying to blame Governor Rick Perry or Mayor Bill White or the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) or anyone else for the gridlock seen on television. But patience paid off for those who really needed to get out. The roads are now clear. The evacuation was an unparalleled success story. MILLIONS left the area on limited roadspace. And millions got out just fine.

Bravo to all the people who got the contra-flow going. Bravo to those responsible for this evacuation.

Think about this for a minute.

I'd estimate that 1/4 or 1/3 of the license plates heading EAST on I-10 yesterday from Houston to Beaumont were Louisiana plates. Maybe more. Then you have hundreds of thousands of far-inland Houstonians who had no business evacuating, evacuating. Then you add all the hundreds of thousands who did need to evacutate, evacuating. These are MANY THOUSANDS more people than the infrastructure was ready to handle. But it was handled. Just fine.

Sure, some ran out of gas. It was hot. People were stranded, temporarily. But people got out. And the people left behind are hunkering down. Shame on the media for continuing to show OLD images of gridlock, giving the impression that this gridlock is ongoing. It's not ongoing.

While driving NW (toward Austin) on Highway 290, we made record time. I-10 inside Houston was pretty much abandoned. Almost no vehicles on the road. There were maybe 40-60 abandoned vehicles on the side of the road, with green stickers on the windows. But no people were stranded with the cars. Last night, we saw City of Houston buses loading up with water, and they were going to head out on the shoulders of the roads with police escorts to pass out water on evacuation routes and pick up people who are out of gas.

And clearly, SOMEONE picked up all of the stranded folks, if not those city buses. We also saw evidence of Good Samaritanism. Today we passed a gas station with no gas, and 6 or 7 cars were parked there, stranded. And we saw a few other folks bringing red gas jugs to them so they could get back home or to shelter.

But the good news is that most people are out of harm's way. And those who aren't yet still have plenty of time to get to shelter.

The evacuation was a stunning success. Now let's hope the response to the damage is similarly successful.

UPDATE:

The latest Rita track:

ritapath.gif

Posted by Will Franklin · 23 September 2005 02:48 PM · Comments (2)

RITA: Houston Hurricane Ghost Town.

Houston is quiet and empty. We just went on our standard 7-8 mile bike ride around Buffalo Bayou, near (just West of) downtown Houston. You may see Buffalo Bayou on the news in the coming days. It'll likely flood.

It had to be one of the more enjoyable riding experiences I've had in Houston. No cars on the roads. The weather was cool. There was a breeze. The clear clue sky with white wisps above us indicated something was coming. Go away, it said. We're warning you.

But it beckoned, as well.

Yet, it was the sort of weather that could make someone head for the beach. Or just sit outside and enjoy the weather. It was the nicest morning Houston has had in months. Months.

We saw bunnies hopping around everywhere, around the bayou. And dogs and puppies with their owners without leashes. Why worry about a leash? It's one of those days.

Even the bayou didn't have that smell... that... bayou smell. It was fresh and clean and beautiful.

For a hurricane bearing down on the Houston area, there were plenty of joggers and bike riders and dog walkers out and about. Almost as many as usual.

We passed several news trucks with satellite hook-ups and fairly large crews and large caches of equipment... generators, vehicles, everything. They are prepared. We didn't notice or recognize any local or national news logos. But they seemed like pros.

Mayor Bill White is on live television right now telling people not to evacuate if they have not yet done so. Mayor White was a major figure in the Texas Democratic Party apparatus, but, unlike Mayor Nagin, I am fully confident in his leadership right now. I am also confident in Houston Judge Robert Eckles, Harris County Commissioner, who is actually more responsible (by law and custom) than Mayor White for the evacuation/rescue plans.

While there have been problems with gridlock and people running out of gas (and the sad story of elderly folks in that burning bus near Dallas), I think most everyone in the actual evacuation zone who wanted to get out was able to get out. And I think Houston will be ready to weather-- and respond to-- this storm.

In a few minutes, we're headed for Kristel's parents' house in NW Houston. They're far from any flood zone. My parents also live in West Houston, so we may see about getting to them. They are all prepared. So we're going to hunker down. We're battening down the hatches. Hopefully we'll have some internet access and power to report on what's happening.

Posted by Will Franklin · 23 September 2005 09:22 AM · Comments (10)

RITA Traffic Jam: It's Amazing How Little We Drove Today.

We drove and drove and drove and drove. And went nowhere.

Kristel (my wife): "It's amazing how little we drove today."

We spent roughly 6 hours heading EAST on Interstate 10. And under an hour back home. We passed refineries and chemical plants, pristine and beautiful marshlands, beaches, beer factories, and hundreds of gas stations with no gas.

15 miles WEST of Beaumont, we made an important decision. We determined, via cell phone calls to people in the know, and listening to Fox News and The Weather Channel on Sirius radio, that Rita may head much further EAST than anticipated. Maybe.

Meanwhile, looking at all those empty lanes heading back into Houston was tempting. And since our house, at the regular speed limit, was only an hour away, we turned back. And now we're in our home. Our neighbors did the same thing.

We wouldn't have, in our wildest imaginations, wanted to go to Louisiana in this situation. But we had a wedding to attend, of a good buddy from high school. And I am very sad I won't make it for that. Not just to see him, but all my high school buddies.

A few observations:

1. There were TONS of cars with Louisiana license plates heading into Louisiana. I am pretty sure if Katrina had not sent all of those folks our way to begin with, the roads would have been far less congested.

2. Some Houston roads are as empty as I have ever seen them. Others are jam-packed.

3. This may very well turn a lot of people off from evacuating in the future. Katrina scared people into evacuating, but this kind of road gridlock (and running out of gas, stalling out, and so on) is just not worth it for most people. Meanwhile, if Rita does veer EAST to Beaumont or Lake Charles, all those millions of Houstonians will feel great that they've dodged the bullet, BUT they may think "why go through all of this?" next time around.

4. I now know what it feels like to evacuate for a hurricane. For 6 hours today, I was an evacuee. AND what it is like to go against the flow of a major evacuation.

5. Many people were trying to save gas by turning their air conditioners off. It's 100 degrees and about 100% humidity. Yeah. We had our air conditioner blasting.

6. In the future, we'll hopefully have better information. Information is priceless out there in the middle of nowhere, with bugs the size of sparrows buzzing around. It would have been great to have internet-enabled gadgets in the car. GPS. Information about where gas is available. Information about how traffic is, here and there, and everywhere. Information about everything. I missed my Wi-Fi connectivity. Information is power, baby. I was lucky to have Sirius radio and two working cell phones. But it would have been better to be able to look up the hurricane tracks ourselves. It would have been nice to have more information about the ridiculous traffic, and what the local news stations in Louisiana and East Texas were telling people. That way, we could have made our decision to return sooner. I have a feeling thousands of folks may be

We're glad about our decision. It was a stressful day. A stressful night. We packed up so much of our stuff. We prepared our home for the hit. And we sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic for far too long. It was just unreasonable.

Our new plan, depending on the storm track, will be to head to Kristel's parents' house in NW Houston. I think we'll be fine. Thanks for all your prayers and support and well-wishes.

Posted by Will Franklin · 22 September 2005 02:10 PM · Comments (13)

RITA: Well, Dang.

4:38 in the morning on Thursday, and, well, dang.

rita.gif

The hurricane now seems to be peeling directly toward Galveston. Just a continued shift to the East. So our so-stupid-it-is-ingenious contra-flow-to-Louisiana plan is looking a little less ingenious.

At least our escape route on I-10 looks clear (green is good):

evacuation.gif

So we're going to leave our 77006 zip code in the 5 AM zone... before the 6 AM we had planned before. This is a monster. To the people trying to ride this thing out, please be prepared. And take every precaution.

Posted by Will Franklin · 22 September 2005 04:38 AM · Comments (7)

The Tragedy Of Germany.

I love Germany.

I mean, what's not to like? Any culture that could invent and proliferate something so timeless as the dirndl is right by me:

dirndl.gif

My childhood down-the-street proximity to a humongous, annual Oktoberfest in Ponca City, Oklahoma (a small town where such an event was a HUGE deal) doesn't hurt, either. Nor does Mrs. WILLisms.com's fairly recent German heritage.

I even rooted for the German invaders at a showing during college of the 1939 Russian masterpiece, Alexander Nevsky.

The German nation, however, has often been on the wrong side of history, politically. We really don't need to go into the litany of German mistakes through history. They are well-known. Common knowledge, even.

But let's think about the Cold War for a moment. Following World War II, after the Russians trampled into Berlin and found a very dead Adolf Hitler, Germany was suddenly thrust onto the front lines of the greatest and most enduring geopolitical struggle of the 20th century.

The Cold War divided a nation without much of a history of togetherness. The concept of Germany, as we know it today, was not a particularly entrenched notion at the end of World War II.

But it was certainly a triumph when that wall, the Berlin Wall, came down in 1989. It was more than symbolic. It contributed to the unraveling of the Soviet Union's Iron Curtain lockdown on Eastern Europe. And as the wall fell, so did Russian Communism.

Unification. Re-unification, even!

And the entire free world celebrated. Germany was finally on the right side of history. And at the center of attention.

Back together again, after generations of Soviet-induced separation, the German people could finally recreate the German economic miracle that had taken place in West Germany during the post-War for the GDR (East Germany). That economic miracle, incidentally, propelled Germany to the top of Europe.

But, unfortunately, when Germany rekindled its relationship in the 1990s, it was hot and heavy-- and hurried. And there was a legitimate concern about inequality between East and West. Massive economic support (tax ----> welfare state) from the West went to the East to balance the playing field. The capitalists in the West gladly did their part for their brethren. But the playing field, more than a decade later, remains unbalanced.

The confiscation and redistribution of wealth from West to East demonstrated a failure of Germany to learn the lessons of the Cold War. West Germany prospered because it was relatively free, economically, mostly unemcumbered by a lavish welfare state (although it was trending slightly toward socialism-lite by the 1980s). East Germany languished because it was unfree, economically.

Let's go back for a moment to what can happen to two similar economies, separated into 1% and 3% growth rates over the period of 40 years. Clearly, comparable economies can diverge-- drastically-- due to relatively small GDP growth rate differences.

And that is precisely what happened to East and West Germany during the Cold War.

Tragic.

And reunification pursued a similarly tragic path. The Cold War's shining victory unfortunately spawned an even colder, and quieter socialist insurgency. Almost completely under-the-radar over the past 15 years or so, Germany's economy went from "miracle" to "quagmire."

And now, because of its sluggish economy, Germany can't even really afford its Easterly wealth transfer the way it could fifteen years ago. Since 1990, there has been a constant discussion-- and delay-- of so-called "painful reforms."

Meanwhile, in countries like Estonia, they endured the painful post-Soviet reforms and today flourish. No flood of welfare state aid from the West. Just free market reforms. And a brief bit of pain. Then... prolonged and overwhelming success.

Germany, sadly enough, might be approaching the point of no return. That's why this week's election was so important. That's why an Angela Merkel mandate was so necessary.

But no. While our good buddy (not) Herr Schroeder lost the election, so did Merkel.

Just one example of the trouble:

...in a country of 82 million people, only 26 million are working now.

This is just remarkably low.

Meanwhile, there are no signs of it turning around:

Germany, for about the last twenty-five years, has had one of the world’s lowest birth rates. So, with people retiring as early as the age of fifty, you’re now reaching a state where nearly one out of two people is retired, on a fairly generous pension. Coupled with women and children, and others who may not be in the workforce, you have a lower rate of people working now than ever before in German society.

Concurrently, meanwhile, you have another ongoing transformative process in Germany:

There are about 7 million foreigners inside Germany, of which about 3 million are Turks.

Immigration can fortify and enrich a country, if immigrants follow the wisdom of T.R.:

In the first place we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the man’s becoming in very fact an American, and nothing but an American…There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag, which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization, just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile…We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language…and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.

This is not happening in Europe. And not in segmented Germany, where Islamic extremism flourishes under-the-radar (Hamburg ring a bell?). And even if the foreigners in Germany were assimilating, the adoption of sclerotic European socialist values might not be such a great thing after all. The tragedy of German immigration is that as the German population plummets, the Islamic population will become proportionally far greater. FAR greater.

Islam itself wouldn't be such a problem, but the segmentation of Islam from the rest of society breeds resentment going in both directions. Germans are famous for their resentment toward foreigners. Not a good situation, there.

Mark Steyn frames the sad situation rather well:

Germany is dying, demographically and economically. Pick any of the usual indicators of a healthy advanced industrial democracy: Unemployment? The highest for 70 years. House prices? Down. New car registration? Nearly 15 per cent lower than in 1999. General nuttiness? A third of Germans under 30 think the United States government was responsible for the terrorist attacks of September 11....

by 2050, there will be more and wealthier Americans, and fewer and poorer Europeans. In the 14th century, it took the Black Death to wipe out a third of Europe's population. In the course of the 21st century, Germany's population will fall by over 50 per cent to some 38 million or lower - killed not by disease or war but by the Eutopia to which Mr Schröder and his electorate are wedded.

On Sunday, Germany's voters decided that, like that Frenchman, they can live with the stench of death as long as the government benefits keep coming.

A tragedy. A self-induced tragedy, at this point. Before, we could pin the blame on Germany's elites. But now, the cause of death is a slow, steady, self-inflicted poisoning.

Interestingly, the election was a referendum on the status quo. And people did reject the status quo. But German voters didn't quite seem to know how to channel that wonderful angst (angst MUST be a German word, right?).

Angst. Pent up angst.

Angst directed not at Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democratic Party (SPD), where it should have been, but at both major parties, including the opposition Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of Angela Merkel.

deutschland.gif

Schroeder's party dropped off by 4.2% and 29 parliamentary seats.
Merkel's party, however, dropped off by 3.3% and 23 seats.

Where did those votes and seats go?

First, the good news.

The Free Democrats, the Cato Institute types, gained 2.2% and 14 seats.

The German Green Party, meanwhile, lost 0.5% and 4 seats.

Now, the bad news.

The Left Party, tragically, gained 4.7% and 52 seats (although there was some coalitional maneuvering at play there).

The Left Party makes Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Howard Dean look like Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and Winston Churchill. Schroeder's party is already to the left of American Democrats. So just imagine how far out there these folks are.

Lunatics.

The Left Party is the brainchild of a former left-wing Social Democrat who bolted the party and set up this new party together with the former Communist holdouts of Eastern Germany.

And they are largely responsible for the gridlock Germany faces today. The Left Party (underlining mine):

...won over a quarter of the vote in eastern Germany. But neither major party is willing to go into coalition with them. So the nationwide showing of 8.5% by the Left Party has created the gridlock that leaves neither party able to form a coherent parliamentary majority to pursue its program. Without the votes cast in eastern Germany, the conservative coalition of the CDU and the pro-market Free Democrats would have won a clear majority.

A closer look at the election results (via Patrick Ruffini) demonstrates just how segmented the voting really was (and forget the usual blue-red dichotomy for now):

pinkgermany.gif

The darker the pink, the better the Left Party did.

Sort of gives "commie-pinko" a new meaning, doesn't it?

And it is just tragic. Tragic that West Germany played the enabler to the East. Tragic that East Germans, unlike so many other Eastern Europeans, who are far more fond of free markets and America, were coddled and allowed to keep and perpetuate old Marxist habits.

And this was not some "a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush" kind of situation. Those pinko votes were complemented with a reaffirmation of Gerhard Schroeder's party. Angela Merkel, the East German, was destroyed in East Germany.

David Frum explains why the decay of Germany is such a tragedy, even for us:

German voters have just elected a parliament that will not address the country's most important problems, that cannot make strong decisions and that will put off until tomorrow actions that desperately need to be taken today.

That's bad news for Germany's five million unemployed. It's bad news for Europe as a whole, slumped in economic malaise. And it's bad news for North Americans, who are facing a future in which the democracies of Europe will matter less and less--and an aggressive and possibly hostile China will matter more and more.

Two years ago, the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies published an alarming study of the German economy's long-term problems. Since 2002, it has not grown at all. In the 10 previous years, from 1992 to 2002, it grew at the dismal rate of 1.4% per year, after inflation. Germans cannot fairly blame the costs of reunification for their troubles: In the last decade before reunification, 1980-89, the German economy grew at a rate of only 1.9%--far behind the United States and the United Kingdom, and below average even for Western Europe.

That anemic growth was because of ridiculous and outmoded rules, regulations, and other economic policies. And there is no end in sight with this election. The country that gave the world Karl Marx now languishes in mediocrity because of his ideology.

Just tragic.

Posted by Will Franklin · 21 September 2005 09:52 PM · Comments (6)

Shave And A Haircut...

So I am here in Houston. The wife is back from Africa, as of this morning.

Just went to the Avalon Barber Shop to get my scruffly and scraggly beardlet cut off, and my scruffly and scraggly mop trimmed up, so I can be presentable for this wedding on Friday in Baton Rouge.

Houston Mayor Bill White (the mostly bald one) was there, as well, getting his scraggly and scruffly quasi-mop trimmed. I've been hard on him in the past, but I've admired his efforts over the past few weeks. Earlier today, when I saw him on TV this morning, splitscreen, with him on the left, the hurricane radar map on the right, I told my wife, "If he's trying to bore the hurricane to death, he's sure succeeding."

While I was there at the barber shop, News2Houston (the local NBC affiliate) was on the tube with Rita coverage. Mayor White came on the television screen about 6 times in the 15 minutes he was there. He said something like, "ugh... wow, I needed a hair cut," at least twice. Said something about it having been 5 weeks since his last cut. I am watching him live right now, and he looks pretty much the same as earlier this morning.

Before he left, he walked around as a politician does, and I told him that I hadn't voted for him, but I didn't vote against him, either. And that he's doing a good job. Keep up the good work. Something like that.

I felt like telling him that I was glad he was calm and cool and collected. I wanted to tell him, "don't pull a Nagin on us."

But I limited my antics to the "..didn't vote for..." line.

So, freshly shaved, I went to get some gas. I have 3/4 of a tank right now, but I wanted to top it off for the drive tomorrow. Nope. Every gas station in my immediate area was out of gasoline. These are stations with dozens of pumps. Big stations. All out.

So then I went to Walgreens pharmacy. And there was a run on certain items, especially fluids. Every last drop of fluid. Water. Juice. Gatorade. Everything, except for one six-pack of Fruit Punch Gatorade (which I purchased). Was gone. And the ice was all gone.

So I got some cash back. And walked over the 100+ degree street to the bank across the street. Got some more cash. Hundreds, just to be safe. Then went to the Kroger grocery store across the other street. Same thing as the Walgreens. Picked over. People scrambling to buy up all the batteries and toilet paper and chips and nuts and crackers, but most of all, fluids. Nearly every drop of fluid, gone.

But I grabbed some duct tape to finish taping up my windows, and grabbed some pre-made orange and strawberry JELL-O packs. MMM. Gel.

So yeah, we're going to leave for Louisiana (of all places) early Thursday morning. And we'll play it by ear in terms of returning or skedaddling in the other direction for a bit. There are a ton of possibilities that could arise, so we're not committing to anything just yet.

We're not going to panic. But posting may be slim for the next few days.

Posted by Will Franklin · 21 September 2005 03:23 PM · Comments (8)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 176 -- Gasoline Taxes.

Gas Taxes-

Feeling the pain at the pump?

Well, let's turn our attention to gasoline taxes.

First, the rise of the Federal Excise Tax on gas over the past 70-something years:

...the federal gas tax alone equals 18.4 cents for every gallon purchased.
gastaxesclimb.gif

A brief history of the federal gas tax:

In 1932, the federal government imposed the first federal gas tax. It began as a temporary levy with a rate of just 1 cent per gallon. Over the years, the tax burden has increased significantly. The Revenue Act of 1941 made the federal gas tax permanent and increased the rate to 1.5 cents per gallon to help fund the war effort. A decade later in 1951, the tax was increased to 2 cents per gallon to assist in the funding of the Korean War.

After President Eisenhower’s idea of an interstate highway system had been instituted, the federal gas tax was raised to 4 cents per gallon in 1959. As recent as 1981, the federal gas tax remained at 4 cents per gallon. Significant tax increases in 1982, 1990 and 1993 increased the federal gas tax by 14.4 cents per gallon, or 360 percent from 1981 levels.

But wait, there's more!

There are also state gas taxes. Let's look at the worst and best:

gastaxmap.gif
-Click for larger version (.jpg)-

Those darker-shaded ones are the ten highest gas-tax states:

Today, the combined burden of federal, state and local gas taxes costs American drivers an average of 45.9 cents on every gallon purchased....

...that amounts to an annual gas tax burden of roughly $271 for every man, woman and child in the United States. In these times of concern over high gas prices, American consumers should remember that gasoline taxes have a significant impact on the amount they spend at the pump.

Bravo to those repealing, even temporarily, their state gasoline taxes.


-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: A Failing European Social Model (Especially Germany).

Posted by Will Franklin · 21 September 2005 08:33 AM · Comments (3)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 24.

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:

rumsfeldeyes.gif

The actual caption:

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld pauses to rub his eyes during a press briefing at the Pentagon, in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2005. Rumsfeld commented on the elections in Afghanistan and the use of the American military to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

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

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, September 27. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at WILLisms@gmail.com.


Last week's photo:

nakedrambler.gif

Winners from last week:

1.

Kevin:

Hiker Stephen Gough, "I knew I should have taken a left at Albuquerque."


2.

Bart Harmon:

Realizing, at last, that he had mistakenly transposed his wife's promise to "take him on a hike for his birthday" for encouragement to "take a hike in your birthday suit," British subject Stephen Gough finally resolved to seek treatment for his ever-worsening aural dislexia.


3.

bullwinkle:

Stephen Gough looks to the skies, always desperate to keep tabs on the weather. He always faced ridicule from people he passed on the road, but a cold front passing inevitably brought jokes about his "little hitchhiker", those were the cruelest of all.

Captioning is Rumsfeldeliciously rad.

Enter today!

Posted by Will Franklin · 21 September 2005 01:54 AM · Comments (21)

RITA: Houston Hurricane Evacuation Zones And Routes.

With Rita approaching the Gulf Coast, we can only hope it loses intensity and fizzles out. But that's not probable.

So we can only hope it hits land in the least-populated zone possible.

But if it does strike Houston, here is the evacuation zone:

houstonevacuationzone.gif

The green star is my house. Incidentally, I will be in Baton Rouge for a wedding on Friday night, and the current plan is to drive back on Saturday morning... right when the 'cane is supposed to hit. And our path getting back would include I-10, which is in the red zone.

Which could all complicate things quite a bit.

Posted by Will Franklin · 20 September 2005 09:37 PM · Comments (3)

VIDEO: General Honore: "You Are Stuck On Stupid"

Greatness. General Honore busts out the line of the year, smacking down a reporter, saying what we were all thinking:

"YOU ARE STUCK ON STUPID."

Watch the video of it here:

honore.gif

Bravo!

The establishment media is decaying. We need more folks like General Honore to put the increasingly tabloid-sensationalistic media out of its misery, once and for all.

Posted by Will Franklin · 20 September 2005 08:49 PM · Comments (1)

Some Call It A Bonfire (Or Carnival) Of Classiness...

We call it "Classiness, All Around Us."

certifiedclassy.gif

Click to explore more WILLisms.com.


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

1.

I.D. To Vote-

votingbooth.gif

Fishkite blog examines the politics of election reform:

You know, it’s no surprise that liberals, socialists, anarchists, racists and ignorant, anti-American groups are banding together against sensible election reform, but it is impressive that Jimmy Carter, for once, isn’t standing with them.

Spot on. Jimmy Carter was a terrible Commander-in-Chief, and a worse ex-president, but he is making sense on this one. Why? Because it's not about ideology. The only reason certain Democrats are opposing sensible election reform is that they still have elections to win, Carter doesn't. And in so many parts of the country, Democrats can only win when they cheat.


2.

Medieval Islam Today-

derkaderkaburka.gif

Jihad Watch (via Michelle Malkin) notes that CAIR (the Council on American-Islamic Relations) is doctoring photos of women:

Why do the mainstream media and many government organizations still give CAIR a free pass as a neutral civil rights group when its commitment to the truth is so manifestly tenuous?

CAIR is "moderate" and "mainstream."

Yeah, sure.


3.

Katrina Damage-

katrinarecovery.gif

Red State Rant reports, first-hand, on the rebuilding efforts on the Gulf Coast:

The churches are so much more nimble and agile at helping the community. There is no beauracracy involved, no layers and layers of paperwork. Just food for the hungry and water for the thirsty and a kind prayer for everyone who passed through the door.

Donating to the Red Cross is great, but if you want to get the most bang for your donation buck, why not give to a faith-based organization?

More pics from Lance at Red State Rant here.


4.

Fleeing Venezuela-

outofvenezuela.gif

Gateway Pundit compiles a great deal of evidence that Venezuelans are fleeing in droves from the reign of Hugo Chavez:

A poll in 2001 found that more than 30 percent of Venezuela's 24 million inhabitants would emigrate if they had the opportunity. This figure is reported to be even higher -- 51 percent -- for those aged 15 to 24. After four more years of Hugo Chavez, one can only imagine what that number would look like today in 2005.

A commenter stole my line: Chavez might end up having to build a wall.


5.

Isolated Ghettos-

femavilles.gif

Marginal Revolution blog notes what a bad idea it is to try to house Katrina victims in far-flung trailer parks:

Why are we interring people in government camps? Housing vouchers are a much better policy. Let evacuees use their vouchers in any city in the United States. Let them begin to rebuild their lives with decent housing in places where they can find jobs, schools and community.

Public housing doesn't work. I understand the concern is that people may get settled in other cities around the country and never return to New Orleans, but 300,000 trailer homes is just such a terrible idea.


6.

Federal Election Communism-

clubforgrowth.gif

The Federal Election Commission (FEC), an independent government agency charged with enforcing increasingly ridiculous campaign finance regulations, has sued the Club For Growth:

The FEC, under pressure from liberal organizations that want to regulate free speech, is attempting to regulate organizations through the Courts when the Congress and the agency itself have rejected additional regulations on 527 groups such as the Club.

The Club will vigorously defend the rights of our members, and all Americans, to organize and speak out about our government’s policies. The FEC’s outrageous lawsuit will further boost our members’ determination to work harder than ever before for free speech and free markets.

Amazingly foolish. If there was ever an example of a principled organization that eschews partisan hackery, it is The Club For Growth. The Club For Growth often irritates the Republican establishment in the name of ideological purity.

When conservative Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and President Bush supported left-of-center Republican Arlen Specter's primary bid, The Club For Growth was right there, opposing the Republican-In-Name-Onlyism that pervades much of the oldschool Washington political culture.

The Club For Growth is an odd choice to single out, but let's hope that this absurdity not only ruins the FEC, but also ultimately provides a boost for The Club For Growth's reputation and fundraising efforts. America needs The Club For Growth.

Let's rally to its defense.

7.

Disgraceful-

shamelessliar.gif

Blogs For Bush notes that Parish President Broussard's tearful diatribe on Meet The Press, which any reasonable person must have suspected at the time, was BOGUS:

There is something exceptionally disturbing in all of the reporting and accusations swirling around the Katrina issue - it is a bad time for America when a tragedy, long before even bare facts are in, is turned into a political club. This tears it for me - I'll never, ever watch television news again; not even Fox, which also failed pretty miserably in it's coverage. There's just too much at stake in times of crisis for a person to allowed their judgement to be warped by half-truths, innuendos and outright lies presented on television.

It wasn't even the bogusness that bothered me so much as Tim Russert's failure to challenge the blatant bogusness. Tim was on a mission that day, however. An angry anti-Bush partisan advocacy mission. "Yeeeaaaaarrgh!"

8.

German Indecision-

germanelectionmess.gif

Jim Rose tries to make heads or tails of the weird election that took place in Germany over the weekend:

So, here's what happened in this weekend's election:

Christian Democrats (Merkel): 225 seats
Socialist Democrats (Schroeder): 222 seats
Free Democrats (Free-Market Capitalists): 61
Green Party (Environmental Wackos): 55 seats
Left Party (Commies and extreme nutjobs): 54 seats

So as you can see, no one party got over 300 seats, so a coalition must be formed. The Christian Democrats and the Free Democrats get along and would gladly form one, but that's only 286. The Socialist Democrats and the Greens like each other, but together they only make 277, and all four parties agree on one thing: they'd rather die than work in a coalition with the Left Party.

Thank goodness for our Electoral College and two-party system. The election, touted beforehand as Germany's most important election in 4 decades, ended up meaning almost nothing.


9.

The Biological Clock Is Ticking-

motherhood.gif

Charmaine Yoest points out a pigs-flying moment:

In today's world, thinking outside the box involves constructing a life outside traditional male career paths. For both men and women, but especially for young women.

It is precisely the female inclination to think outside the box -- sequencing, part-time work, entrepreneurial innovation -- that is enlivening the 21st century work world.

Elite females wanting children?

I won't mention names, but a certain female someone I know is always telling me about the "women mentoring" programs at her company. The mentors are always somewhat older, sad/bitter, career-obsessed women, with no family and no life outside of work. That is the progress the 1970s-era feminist movement fought so hard for.

I suspect that in the coming years, we'll see a new feminist movement, a more reasonable one, led by today's 20-somethings. And it will include time for motherhood, one of the more meaningful biological experiences a female human can have.

10.

Donate Now To Katrina Politicization Efforts-

neworleanssuperdome.gif

Iowa Hawk blog offers this wonderfully layered satirical commentary on the ravages of Katrina:

Two weeks ago, millions of Americans watched in horror as the city of New Orleans was savaged by the relentless, pollution-fueled fury of Hurricane Katrina. Later, we witnessed the human rights atrocity as George Bush's incompetent racist henchmen dynamited the levees, unleashing a tidal wave of contaminated Halliburton turdwater which forced thousands of our fellow citizens to flee into the dank slave ship-like bowels of the Superdome.

What is so sad is that it is not that far off from some of the left-wing blogs out there. And the fundraising solicitation also fits the modern left's modus operandi.


------------------------------------------------------------


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:

*September 13, 2005.

WILLisms.com offers a weekly classiness roundup as a weekly feature, every Tuesday, with 10 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.

Classy.

Posted by Will Franklin · 20 September 2005 03:34 PM · Comments (4)

Revolution!

The Carnival of Revolutions, that is. At Commoner Sense.

Posted by Will Franklin · 20 September 2005 09:29 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 175 -- What Is Europe's Deal?

Failing Europe-

Europe is in trouble:

Nearly one third of Germans under 30 say that the U.S. government ordered the 9/11 attacks. In France, a book insisting that Americans carried out the assault themselves to increase defense budgets becomes a huge bestseller. In Britain, major newspapers carry headlines like "The USA is Now the World's Leading Rogue State."

Asked which countries are the biggest threat to world peace, Europeans name the U.S as often as North Korea and Iran (each are picked by 53 percent). Countries characterized by Euros as less menacing than the U.S. include Syria, Iraq, Russia, China, Afghanistan, Libya.

In Germany in particular, anti-Americanism, which transcends Bush-- or Republican control of Congress-- is an effective campaign tool. Sure, there are limits to how far the German left can ride the anti-American train, but there's no doubt there is a very tangible font of electoral support there.

Tapping into that well will eventually make little or no sense, as the European left continues its failed economic policies. The German left is clearly not getting the job done, but for now anti-Americanism remains a powerful political force.

But America picking up the slack of limp-wristed Europe is nothing new:

Truth be told, continental Europeans have been making themselves scarce during times of crisis for more than two generations. Their current claim is that lack of a U.N. mandate is what has prevented Europe from standing shoulder to shoulder with the U.S. since the 9/11 attacks. But the Old World’s failure to make any proportionate contribution to the war on terror is actually part of a long historical pattern. Consider their response the last time a large U.N.-commanded force went to war—in Korea.

After North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950, the U.N. responded militarily. Of the 340,000 troops sent under U.N. control, how many of these do you suppose were European? About 5 percent. In the crunch, only Britain provided meaningful help, sending 14,198 soldiers at the Korean War’s peak. The next biggest European contribution? Greece, with 1,263. France followed, providing all of 1,119 troops.

The U.S., meanwhile, provided more than 300,000 fighters. Do the math and you’ll see something interesting: The Korean War alliance included 16 nations, and America supplied 88 percent of the military manpower. The Iraq War coalition included 32 nations, and 85 percent of the G.I.s were Americans. (Poland, Holland, and the Ukraine each contributed more soldiers to the Iraq War coalition than the French did to the Korean War.) See a pattern?

...the stark reality is that only 3 to 5 percent of the 2.5 million personnel under arms in Europe today can be deployed, even for a short time.

Even if France and Germany had supported the liberation of Iraq, they just wouldn't have had the manpower to do anything about it. Old Europe has been living under the protective shield of the United States for so many decades now that it no longer has any concept of reality. Threats are something to cry about after they have struck, not something to snuff out beforehand.

The worst offender is Germany:

Europe’s economic trauma can be seen most clearly in Germany, which has performed miserably since edging away from the American free-market model and toward the French socialized-market alternative. Unemployment in Germany has reached the potentially destabilizing level of 12 percent. More shockingly, about a third of those unemployed have been jobless for more than a year. This is not some recessionary blip; over the last decade and a half, economic growth in Germany has averaged only a little over 1 percent. This miserable performance has allowed the people of other nations to pass the Germans in standard of living.

As Europe’s locomotive runs out of fuel, the whole train slows. French unemployment rates are nearly as high as in Germany. Across the 15 nations of the European Union, the proportion of the jobless who have been unemployed for more than a year now exceeds 40 percent.

Europe is failing. And the recent muddle in the German election is a sad reminder that the problem with Europe is not exclusively a problem of snooty European elites bucking the will of the people.

The people marginally prefer failed Euro-Marxist policies; they are addicted to the generous welfare state benefits. And it is driving up unemployment:

In France, Italy, Germany, and Belgium, approximately a quarter of all workers under 25 are currently unemployed....

And the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates that economic growth will slacken even further in the countries employing the Euro as currency. From an anemic growth rate of 1.3 percent per year between 2010 and 2020, OECD economists forecast a decline to under 1 percent annual growth during the decade following. Those little gray numbers are more than marks on paper—over time they will translate into notably pinched lives. Already, higher U.S. growth over the last generation has given average Americans a standard of living about 40 percent richer than average continental Europeans. Continue that a few more decades and we will no longer be peers, but two very different cultures.

This final point is very important to think about. If, over the next few decades, Europe grows at 1% and the United States grows at 3%, we will have two starkly different societies. STARKLY different. To demonstrate this, let's turn to the Political Calculations Future Value Calculator.

The American economy is roughly 12 trillion dollars large.

Now, let's take that 12 trillion dollars, with a 1% annual rate of return, compounded daily, for forty years: $17,901,798,281,182.28 - Nearly 18 trillion dollars.

Now, let's take that 12 trillion dollars, with a 3% annual rate of return, compounded daily, for forty years: $39,839,438,447,474.09 - Nearly 40 trillion dollars.

1versus3percent.gif

Incidentally, the U.S. GDP growth rate was 3.1% in 2003 and 4.4% in 2004.

The German GDP growth rate, meanwhile, was -0.1% in 2003 and 1.6% in 2004.

The gap in the longer trends are just as pronounced, so I will spare Germany any more humiliation.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Economic Liberty Freakin' Rules.

Posted by Will Franklin · 20 September 2005 09:03 AM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 174 -- Economic Freedom Coincides With Political Rights.

Economic Freedom (Part III)-

As promised before, more benefits of economic freedom (.pdf):

I. Greater economic freedom coincides with greater political rights and civil liberties:

freedomcivilliberties.gif

II. Greater economic freedom coincides with less major political upheaval:

freedomstability.gif


III. Greater economic freedom coincides with higher levels of democracy:

freedomaccountability.gif


Economic freedom, people. Economic freedom. Unleash the glorious fury of the 21st-century free enterprise system, and create a better society. Want to help the poor? A booming economy is the best antidote to poverty. Want to project power in the world? A roaring GDP can get you there.

There is a strong correlation between economic liberty and personal and political liberty. Let's go to it.


More economic freedom:
Part I.
Part II.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: The Flat Tax Works.

Posted by Will Franklin · 19 September 2005 03:48 PM · Comments (1)

Quotational Therapy: Part 46 -- Vince Lombardi, "Number One" Speech.

Vince Lombardi, "#1 Speech"-

vincelombardi.gif
"Winning is not a sometime thing; it's an all the time thing. You don't win once in a while; you don't do things right once in a while; you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

"There is no room for second place. There is only one place in my game, and that's first place. I have finished second twice in my time at Green Bay, and I don't ever want to finish second again. There is a second place bowl game, but it is a game for losers played by losers. It is and always has been an American zeal to be first in anything we do, and to win, and to win, and to win.

"Every time a football player goes to ply his trade he's got to play from the ground up — from the soles of his feet right up to his head. Every inch of him has to play. Some guys play with their heads. That's O.K. You've got to be smart to be number one in any business. But more importantly, you've got to play with your heart, with every fiber of your body. If you're lucky enough to find a guy with a lot of head and a lot of heart, he's never going to come off the field second.

"Running a football team is no different than running any other kind of organization — an army, a political party or a business. The principles are the same. The object is to win — to beat the other guy. Maybe that sounds hard or cruel. I don't think it is.

"It is a reality of life that men are competitive and the most competitive games draw the most competitive men. That's why they are there — to compete. To know the rules and objectives when they get in the game. The object is to win fairly, squarely, by the rules — but to win.

"And in truth, I've never known a man worth his salt who in the long run, deep down in his heart, didn't appreciate the grind, the discipline. There is something in good men that really yearns for discipline and the harsh reality of head to head combat.

"I don't say these things because I believe in the "brute" nature of man or that men must be brutalized to be combative. I believe in God, and I believe in human decency. But I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle — victorious."

There's a reason the Superbowl trophy is named after this guy.

And Lombardi's point about the point of political parties (to win elections) is well-taken.

It's also lesson Democrats haven't quite taken to heart in recent years:

theelectoralbasedcommunity.gif

If elections matter, then wins in elections should matter accordingly. While the lack of respect from the establishment media for recent Republican poll victories is frustrating, it shouldn't get those of us who prefer economic liberty down. Instead, it ought to supply the impetus for increasing those majorities. And not just increasing those majorities, but filling thoes supermajorities with true small-government conservatives.

Let's strive to win, win, and win some more. We shouldn't fear overreach or backlash. We should respect and trust in the power of our own ideas. And win some more.


-----------------------------

Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Bush Katrina Speech From Jackson Square, New Orleans, Louisiana.

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 19 September 2005 11:34 AM · Comments (3)

THE CARNIVAL OF THE CAPITALISTS.

Welcome to THE Carnival of the Capitalists.

carnivalofcapitalists.jpg

When hosting traveling blog carnivals, it is customary for the host to rank, rate, profile, hide, categorize, and otherwise filter the entries. Sometimes the better posts are near the top or are given special treatment of some sort. Sometimes the poorer posts are "accidentally" forgotten or tucked away in the muddle and mash of posts.

I had planned to give ratings based on one, two, three, or four Marx-busters buttons. These:

fourmarx.gif

Great posts would have gone here.

-----------------------------
threemarx.gif

Good posts would have gone here.

-----------------------------
twomarx.gif

Average posts would have gone here.

-----------------------------
onemarx.gif

Poor posts would have gone here.

-----------------------------

But because the feelings of a few bloggers were hurt the last time I rated posts in a Carnival, and because the zen guru master of the Carnival specifically asked me not to rate the posts, I hereby present every post submitted to the Carnival, in completely random order (no, seriously, it's completely random, but fortunately they are almost all very good or better):

-------------------------

David Foster at Photon Courier presents The Hologram Factory.

Ironman at Political Calculations blog presents Financial Markets in a Catastrophe.

Michael Cage at Local Small Business Marketing & Advertising presents presents Niche Marketing - growing your business w/small numbers.

Jonathan Wilde at Catallarchy presents Anti-Gouging Laws Must Be Expanded in Scope.

Henry Stern at InsureBlog presents Another CDHC Post...

Barry L. Ritholtz at The Big Picture presents Gas Futures -- but not retail prices -- Returns to Pre-Katrina Levels.

Joseph Weisenthal at The Stalwart presents Bill Gates and the Future of Computing.

mad anthony at mad anthony blog presents I just wanna fly..

Christopher Bailey at the Alchemy of Soulful Work presents Trickle-Down Organizational Behavior.

Steve Pavlina at Steve Pavlina's Personal Development Blog presents How to Go From Introvert to Extrovert.

Jim Glass at Scrivener.net presents Bad news for the IRS, and good news from it.

Joe Kristan at Roth & Company Tax Update presents IRS MOVES TO LIQUIFY ESTIMATED TAX RECEIPTS.

THC at The Happy Capitalist presents Widgets and free credit reports.

Jim at Bizinformer presents Would You Take Flight Lessons From An Instructor That Never Piloted A Plane?

David St Lawrence at Ripples: post-corporate adventures presents Promoting and selling your book in a changing world.

DeputyHeadmistress at The Common Room presents Reputation.

Tom O'Neill at Buyout Blog presents Beyond Spam and Telemarketing--Eliminating Vaguemail.

cehwiedel at Kicking Over My Traces presents DRM.

Big Picture Guy at Big Picture, Small Office presents The Price is Right.

Frank Scavo at The Enterprise System Spectator presents Big eyes, big stomach: Oracle buying Siebel.

John Dmohowski at Drakeview presents Presenting to VCs.

Barry Welford at The Other Bloke's Blog presents Listening To Customers May Not Be Customer-Centric.

Elisa Camahort at The Worker Bees Blog presents Note to Hollywood: What you can learn from The Daily Show.

N Kelly at SOHO Business Credit presents Which Business Entity Is Best For Building Credit?

Stephen Bainbridge of Professor Bainbridge presents Cost-Plus No-Bid Contracts.

Mark at SportsBiz presents First in Thirst, A Review.

Mike Pechar at Interested-Participant present Flight Attendant Fired for Blog Now Suing.

Abnu at Wordlab presents Lego: whose name is it, anyway?

Sandeep Srinivasa at DAtum presents Ebay + Skype = Semantic Web - Google ?

James Hamilton at Econbrowser presents Who cares about core inflation?

Don Surber at Don Surber presents Samuelson Goes Krugman.

Mark A. Rayner at The Skwib presents Stan Wrestles with Smart Software.

Dan Melson at Searchlight Crusade presents Lender Discrimination and Shopping for a Home Loan.

Clyde Smith at ProHipHop - Hip Hop Business News presents 50 Cent and the Violence of Money.

Rosa Say at Talking Story with Say Leadership Coaching presents No Room for Mediocrity.

J Random American at Ideas In Progress presents Fan Films Foreshadow Future.

Tony Gill at Gill Blog presents Connecting Real Estate Strategy to Business Continuity.

Jeff Cornwall at The Entrepreneurial Mind presents Good Intentions, But Wrong Plan.

Andrew Hughes at Anyletter presents Real Estate Boom in Baton Rouge.

Dan Meyer of Tick Marks presents Starting a Business on a Shoestring (well, maybe a fat shoestring).

Different River at Different River presents Do as the Union Says, Not as the Union Does.

Skip Angel at Random Thoughts from a CTO presents Can a company be great at both product and service?.

Neal Phenes at Et Tu Bloge presents Sacrifice Should Come From Government.

Keith Casey at CodeSnipers presents Open Source and Freeware Vs. Paying the Bills.

Grayson at recursive progress presents Musing about the future, looking at the past.

Yvonne DiVita at Lip-sticking presents A New Media Fit by Five from Jane.

Brian at Financial Reference presents Dividends.

Ezzie at SerandEz presents E-Bay & Skype to Revolutionize E-Commerce.

Barak Moore at IRIS Blog presents Bush's Breathtakingly Economically Literate Proposal to Alleviate World Poverty.

Stephen Karlson at Cold Spring Shops presents Reclaiming Principles.

FMF at Free Money Finance presents Best Financial Tips from FMF Readers, Part 1: Never Pay Retail

Sean Hackbarth at The American Mind presents eBay Buys Skype.

Brian Gongol at Gongol.com presents Solving Iowa's Budget Problem.

Mike Landfair at Mover Mike presents What's Wrong with Fiat Money?

Susan Getgood at Marketing Roadmaps presents Blogher takeaway: Blogs need a Code of Ethics.

Josh Cohen at Multiple Mentality presents What Can We Do About Gas Prices?

Martin Lindeskog at EGO presents TECH TUESDAY: MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS.

-------------------------

A great mish mash, indeed. Surely you'll find something fantastically awesome to read and ponder.

Just remember:

antimarxsocialismlame.gif

And don't you forget it.

Next week's Carnival, September 26, 2005, will be hosted by The CIO Weblog.

Submit your relevant posts for future Carnivals of the Capitalists here or here, or submit directly via the email address: cotcmail -at- gmail -dot- com. More information and guidelines regarding submitting and hosting and such located here.

Posted by Will Franklin · 19 September 2005 12:47 AM · Comments (15)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 173 -- The Flat Tax Works.

Flat Taxes In Eastern Europe-

COUNTRIES that have adopted a flat tax are growing twice as fast as those that haven't, research out this weekend confirms.

Since 1995, eastern European countries with a flat tax have enjoyed an average annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of 5.3%, compared with only 2.6% among those without, research by the Reform think-tank shows. A weighted average of the flat-taxers confirms this finding and reveals they have grown faster in eight out of the past 10 years.

The research also reveals cutting tax rates need not mean a collapse in tax receipts, thanks to positive growth effects and a reduction in tax evasion.

In Slovakia, the most developed of the flat-tax nations, total revenues fell in the first flat-tax year by only 0.2% of GDP, from 25.5% to 25.3%, according to Jaroslav Belas, professor at the Economic University of Bratislava, in a separate paper on the Slovak reforms to be published by Reform next month.

Source:

The Business Online
(via Club For Growth blog).

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Economic Freedom Is The Answer.

Posted by Will Franklin · 18 September 2005 10:22 AM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 172 -- Benefits Of Economic Freedom.

Economic Freedom = Better Lives-

As promised, more benefits of economic freedom:

I. Greater economic freedom coincides with lower infant mortality (.pdf):

freedominfant.gif


II. Greater economic freedom coincides with lower adult mortality (.pdf):

freedomadult.gif


III. Greater economic freedom coincides with less child labor (.pdf):

freedomchild.gif


IV. Greater economic freedom coincides with greater access to improved water sources (.pdf):

freedomwater.gif


V. Greater economic freedom coincides with greater human development (.pdf):

freedomhuman.gif


VI. Greater economic freedom coincides with lower rates of poverty (.pdf):

freedomhumanpoverty.gif


VII. Greater economic freedom coincides with less corruption (.pdf):

freedomcorruption.gif


VIII. Greater economic freedom coincides with a smaller black market economy (.pdf):

freedomblackmarket.gif

More on economic freedom here.


-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Katrina Evacuees.

Posted by Will Franklin · 17 September 2005 10:35 AM · Comments (2)

If I Were Hiring A National Political Consultant...

...I'd prefer someone with a near-perfect score on this:

perfectamerica.gif

Something above 80%, at least, with a low average distance error. I think I lucked out with a perfect score on the first try. It would be more difficult if you had to begin with Kansas or Colorado or Tennessee or Kentucky. Incidentally, I had no idea I was being timed.

Posted by Will Franklin · 16 September 2005 05:40 PM · Comments (8)

Quotational Therapy: Part 45 --Bush On Katrina.

President Bush-

jacksonsquare.gif


...tonight I also offer this pledge of the American people: Throughout the area hit by the hurricane, we will do what it takes, we will stay as long as it takes, to help citizens rebuild their communities and their lives. And all who question the future of the Crescent City need to know there is no way to imagine America without New Orleans, and this great city will rise again.

....

Americans have never left our destiny to the whims of nature -- and we will not start now.

These trials have also reminded us that we are often stronger than we know -- with the help of grace and one another. They remind us of a hope beyond all pain and death, a God who welcomes the lost to a house not made with hands. And they remind us that we're tied together in this life, in this nation -- and that the despair of any touches us all.

....

In this place, there's a custom for the funerals of jazz musicians. The funeral procession parades slowly through the streets, followed by a band playing a mournful dirge as it moves to the cemetery. Once the casket has been laid in place, the band breaks into a joyful "second line" -- symbolizing the triumph of the spirit over death. Tonight the Gulf Coast is still coming through the dirge -- yet we will live to see the second line.

-George W. Bush, September 15, 2005, Jackson Square, New Orleans, Louisiana.

Read the entire speech here.

Or watch it here.

This was an important speech. It was not President Bush's best, or most soaring, speech. But it was certainly one of the top few most important speeches of his presidency. And he delivered in a big way.

The speech was optimistic and hopeful, and the nuts and bolts of it were very exciting. A Gulf Coast Opportunity zone, for one, will go a long way in getting New Orleans and the surrounding area back on its feet.

Let's empower individuals, not permanently and arbitrarily expand the federal government.

-----------------------------

Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Eugene Debs.

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 16 September 2005 10:03 AM · Comments (6)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 171 -- An Ownership Society Beckons.

A Profile Of Gulf Coast Evacuees-

The Washington Post, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health conducted interviews of 680 randomly selected evacuees, overwhelmingly from New Orleans, living temporarily in the Astrodome, Reliant Center, George R. Brown Convention Center, and five other Red Cross shelters in the greater Houston area.

Some interesting tidbits:

Forty-three percent of these evacuees plan to return to New Orleans, the survey found. But just as many -- 44 percent -- say they will settle somewhere else, while the remainder are unsure. Many of those who are planning to return say they will be looking to buy or rent somewhere other than where they lived. Overall, only one in four say they plan to move back into their old homes, the poll found.

....most of those who do not plan to go back to New Orleans are already living in their new hometown. Fully two in three of the 44 percent who won't return say they plan to permanently relocate in the Houston area, the city that now is home to about 125,000 New Orleans evacuees.

Even more interesting tidbits:

Seven in 10 currently do not have a savings or checking account. Just as many have no usable credit cards.

Seven in ten have no checking or savings account. Seven in ten.

More:

...six in 10 evacuees had family incomes of less than $20,000 last year. Half have children under age 18. One in eight were unemployed when the storm hit.

None of this is especially shocking or surprising. It sort of reinforces what we already knew, that New Orleans was a decaying city prior to Katrina's fury.

But let's try to think straight about all of this for a minute. The big picture.

Okay.

There's something called the "ownership society." And it's not a catch phrase. It's not an abstraction. It doesn't mean that the rich get richer, the poor get poorer. It means that every American owns something. Every American has assets.

Let's go back to that 7-in-10 factoid. If you are reading this blog, there is a very good chance that you have a checking and/or savings account. It is difficult to fathom that 7-in-10 members of a community could have no bank account.

But this fits right into yesterday's Social Security Reform Thursday. While African-Americans have made profound strides over the past century, far too many were left behind by the New Deal and Great Society spending sprees.

Social Security reform would promote the personal ownership of savings, of assets, and of wealth, not just for the "fatcats" or "Wall Street" but for everyone.

Everyone.

The cure for the diseased that ravaged pre-Katrina New Orleans, and currently ravages several communities in every region of the country, is a healthy dose of the Ownership Society agenda. Thank goodness we have a President who understands this.


-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: The U.S. Poverty Rate.

Posted by Will Franklin · 16 September 2005 09:55 AM · Comments (0)

Social Security Reform Thursday: Week Thirty-Three -- African-Americans Need A Better Deal.

reformthursdayblue.gif

Thursdays are good days for reform, because they fall between Wednesdays and Fridays. And reform is a long-haul process, not a fleeting event.

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

This week's topic:

The Current Social Security System Is A Bad Deal For African-Americans.

Astoundingly, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, some on the left are arguing that this (and this) proves the failure of small government conservativism.

Which is funny, considering how much entitlement spending has grown in the past several years.

Only a left-wing partisan kook could look at the Katrina situation and conclude that:

1. The federal government (and only the federal government) failed miserably.
2. Thus, let's expand the federal government.

It makes no sense.

Hurricane Katrina could be yet another page in the book of evidence pointing to the necessity of an end to the stranglehold Democrats have on the African-American vote. But Democrats are not entirely clueless. They moved swiftly to politicize Katrina-- and make the alleged government failures about race.

Some, such as Senator Hillary Clinton, are even claiming that this hurts the case for Social Security reform. To many liberals, stuck in the 1930s/1960s, reforming Social Security really means destroying it with no replacement or improvement or anything. It means leaving people out in the cold, on their own, with no retirement benefits. Every man fending for himself. Robbing the poor to pay the rich. "Fatcats" laughing all the way to the bank. And so on. It would have meant that the thousands of displaced Americans would have no Social Security check to count on in a time like this, they erroneously assert.

But no plan put forth by President Bush or any other Republican in Congress does this, or anything remotely like it. Social Security reform is not about taking anything away from poor people, it is about empowering them. Social Security reform is about providing incentives for the poor to work, and save, and accumulate real assets, real wealth. The average African-American would receive much greater benefits under the President's plan than under the current system. For many liberals, though, if the benefit is not explicitly paid out by the government (and instead is paid by an interest-earning personal account), it doesn't count.

It is important to note that, despite the progressive structure in the calculation of Social Security benefits, the average African-American woman receives far less in Social Security retirement benefits than a white woman. And not only that, but less African-American women receive Social Security retirement benefits (while more receive disability benefits) in the first place:

blackwomenss.gif

Incentives at work. Or, not at work. But isn't Social Security supposed to be a poverty program? Or is it a retirement program? An insurance program? Who can even remember anymore.

Incidentally, concerns about Social Security reform wrecking the disability claims of millions of sick and poor Americans are misplaced. Every Social Security reform plan on the table today keeps the disability portion of Social Security untouched.

Right now, African-Americans in particular are getting the raw end of the stick on Social Security. Before it became a politicized, polarized partisan issue earlier this year, most African-Americans supported Social Security reform.

After all, black Americans, like all Americans, must see that Social Security is a broken system. Not only is it a bad deal for poor and middle income individuals, sucking away opportunities to invest, build, and pass on wealth, but (and, perhaps, more importantly) Social Security is facing a demographic iceberg that threatens the entire American economy.

Social Security reform (with personal accounts), however, would benefit poor minorities most of all, proportionally (.pdf):

monthlybenefitafricanameric.gif

Poorer elderly Americans, rather than depending on a monthly check in the mail, paid out entirely at the discretion of Uncle Sam, would accumulate a nest egg they could pass on to their children and/or spouses. Rather than spending an hour of every 8-hour workday working just to contribute to a failing system with miniscule (or even negative) returns, Americans will be able to take the money earned during that hour and convert it into meaningful compound-interest-earning wealth.

Let's get real, here. Poverty is way down in America. Wealth is up. Inflation is low. Interest rates are low. Crime is down. More people are working than ever before. Our economy is something to behold, and something nearly every country on earth could and should emulate.

But in some communities, both rural and inner-city, poverty lingers. And it lingers in a big way. Despite a progressive benefit structure in Social Security (and exponential growth in other poverty entitlement spending), elderly African-Americans, many of whom may have worked their entire lives, still face poverty rates around 30%.

And that's because the incentive structure is all wrong. It's also because we are robbing poorer Americans of the power of compound interest. The system, right now, is stacked against African-Americans:

...because of differences in life expectancies and marriage rates, on a life-time basis the income transfer from blacks to whites is as much as $10,000 per person.

It makes no sense.

And while the prospects of a comprehensive reform plan passing this year, or even next year, are not particularly great, the chances of GROW Accounts passing is exceedingly high.

If you haven't been paying attention, GROW Accounts essentially take the surpluses the Social Security Trust Fund will run over the next decade and put them into personal account lockboxes. Lockboxes owned by individual Americans, not subject to the spending whims of Congress. Lockboxes that will prove to skeptics that personal accounts are nothing like gambling retirement away on the craps table.

In the wake of Katrina, there are calls from many to fundamentally change the way the government works. I couldn't agree more. But let's apply proven and successful stimuli, not revert to antiquated and failed European-style socialism.


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).
-Week Thirty (Reform Better Deal Than Status Quo).
-Week Thirty-One (Social Security As A Labor Cost).
-Week Thirty-Two (Social Security And Dependence On Government).

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 15 September 2005 04:14 PM · Comments (3)

Wow, Just Speechless...

Amazing.

Read More »


Posted by Will Franklin · 15 September 2005 11:04 AM · Comments (12)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 170 -- U.S. Poverty Rate.

America's Poverty Rate-

Hurricane Katrina is forcing many Americans to deal with the uncomfortable issue of poverty. But it is also spawning quite a bit of erroneous demagoguing and misinformation on the subject.

First, let's take America's official poverty rate, which climbed from 12.5% to 12.7% betweem 2003 and 2004.

Well, it might be reason for great concern, until you consider that the official poverty rate is a broken yardstick:

According to the latest poverty rate estimates--released by the Census Bureau on Aug. 30--the total percentage of Americans living in poverty was higher in 2004 (12.7 percent) than in 1974 (11.2 percent). According to that same report, poverty rates for American families and children were likewise higher last year than three decades earlier.

Does this make sense?

Is poverty really worse, or at least more widespread, than it was 30 years ago?

No.

And here's why the official poverty rate is increasingly worthless:

Per capita income adjusted for inflation is over 60 percent higher today than in 1974. The unemployment rate is lower, and the percentage of adults with paying jobs is distinctly higher. Thirty years ago, the proportion of adults without a high school diploma was more than twice as high as today (39 percent versus 16 percent). And antipoverty spending is vastly higher today than in 1974, even after inflation adjustments.

Americans, by nearly any reasonable measure, are far better off than they were in the 1970s:

The soundings from the poverty rate are further belied by information on actual living standards for low-income Americans. In 1972-73, for example, just 42 percent of the bottom fifth of American households owned a car; in 2003, almost three-quarters of ''poverty households'' had one. By 2001, only 6 percent of ''poverty households'' lived in ''crowded'' homes (more than one person per room)--down from 26 percent in 1970. By 2003, the fraction of poverty households with central air-conditioning (45 percent) was much higher than the 1980 level for the non-poor (29 percent)....

All strata of America--including the disadvantaged--are markedly healthier today than three decades ago. Though the officially calculated poverty rate for children was higher in 2004 than 1974 (17.8 percent versus 15.4 percent), the infant mortality rate--that most telling measure of wellbeing--fell by almost three-fifths over those same years, to 6.7 per 1,000 births from 16.7 per 1,000.

Americans are healthier and wealthier than they have ever been.

But some poverty does indeed persist.

So let's think about how best to ameliorate poverty in America. Is it through an expanded welfare state and forced, feigned equality, like in France and Germany?

Non. Nein.

We need to have a serious discussion about poverty in this country, but we can't have that discussion if we focus on the same old class and race warfare, with the same old 1930s and 1960s solutions (i.e. MORE PUBLIC FUNDING!). We have to think about how to empower the disadvantaged to become entrepreneurs and small business owners, how to lift the ghetto-dwellers from soul-destroying public housing units and into homes they own, how to empower every parent of every child in every failing educational institution with the choice of attending a better school, how to snuff out corruption and mediocrity in every local law enforcement unit, how to incentivize investment in poor communities, and how to encourage every American in every square inch of America to thrive and succeed.

For most of America, thriving we are.

But for those remaining in chronically failing communities, we must take a different approach. More of the same simply will not work.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: The History Of Immigration To America.

Posted by Will Franklin · 15 September 2005 10:36 AM · Comments (3)

Random Thoughts While Riding My Bike.

I recently purchased a new bike. A Trek hybrid 7200 FX bike.

And when I ride around town, which I have tried to do daily for the past couple of weeks, there's a lot of time to think, at least when I am not dodging rampaging vehicles and zig-zagging runners/walkers and other PAPERBOY-esque obstacles.

Today, as I was riding around, I passed a large townhouse with five large SUVs (an Escalade, a Hummer, two Suburbans, and one of the big Fords, Excursion, I believe) parked in front of it. Each of those SUVs had one kind of strange thing in common. Each vehicle had a blue bumper sticker with the following slogan in white lettering:

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON, ONE TERM AND HE'S DONE

Four had supplementary stickers, as well. A 'W' with a circle around it and a line through it was on one. Two had Kerry/Edwards stickers. One of those with the Kerry/Edwards sticker also had a Chris Bell sticker. And one had the "somewhere in Texas a village is missing its idiot."

And for the other one, the blue sticker about Bush being a one-termer was sufficient.

I can only imagine what was going on in there. Maybe it was Texas' own vast (but exhaustingly futile) left-wing conspiracy. I wanted to knock on the door and see what was going on in there, but I pressed on. But it made me wonder what could possibly possess five friends/coworkers/associates to keep such an embarrassing slogan on their vehicles, 10 months after Bush was elected to a second term. Was it some sort of demonic pact? A dare gone horribly wrong?

The Kerry sticker is odd enough as it is, but to boast that President Bush is going to be a one-termer, even as he serves his second term, is just mind-bogglingly weird.

But it is enlightening. For many liberals in this country, the campaign never ended. It is a permanent campaign, and they will not rest until they have defeated President Bush.

But that's not going to happen. In 2006, when Democrats once again fail to take back the U.S. Senate or U.S. House of Representatives, we'll once again see articles about folks seeking psychiatric treatment for their anti-Bush derangement. We'll once again see media stories with lines like, "but, but, but... how could this have happened? EVERYONE hates Bush. Didn't you see our polls?"

For that group of five SUV-driving Texas liberals, they have likely been hating Bush for more than a decade, going back to his six years as Governor. They know nothing else but Bush-derangement. Their Bush-derangement is the only thing that feels right. It is institutionalized.

What could compel a self-respecting man-- other than an "THE END IS NEAR" millenial type-- to maintain a sticker with an embarrassingly incorrect prediction on his otherwise nice car, nearly a year after the foolish prediction was smashed into smithereens?

The gang of five might have just been old campaign buddies, getting back together to reminisce on old times, to brainstorm what went wrong on the creation of those fake memos, and such. Or they could have been Democratic Party activists celebrating this wonderful influx of Louisiana evacuees, plotting and planning how to take down the dreaded Tom "cue the Star Wars empire music" DeLay and other Texas Republicans.

Who really knows what was going on in there. But it couldn't have been meaningful. After all, it is just impossible to take a man seriously with IDIOT tattooed across his forehead. Those bumper stickers are the equivalent. They just scream, "I am a spoiled brat, why can't daddy make big bad Bush go away!?!" They evoke pity. I pity such self-loathing individuals. They must be miserable human beings.

All five of those SUV-driving Texans need to seek the help of the nearest mental health professional. And in a hurry. Or just take those silly stickers off their car.

----

Later in the ride, and totally unrelated, I saw two ridiculously skinny (what I presume to be) meth freaks, a man and a woman, making out under a bridge where millions of sleeping bats (they still squeak during the day... and smell) live. I nearly vomited.

I think I may need to start bringing a digital camera with me to capture some of these moments.

Posted by Will Franklin · 14 September 2005 07:53 PM · Comments (8)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 169 -- U.S. Immigration.

U.S. Immigration-

After a brief lag following 9/11, immigration to the United States is booming. This decade could very well break the all time record. Take a look at the history of U.S. immigration, by decade:

immigrationtousa.gif

Source:

Yearbook of Immigration Statistics.

Indeed, America still beckons (underlining mine):

Europe may be a great place to visit, but U.S. emigration to the continent is paltry—while the reverse flow from Europe to the United States remains at consistently high levels even with the somewhat bothersome screenings imposed after 9/11. While Europeans are no longer the primary immigrants to the U.S. (that role having been taken over by Latin Americans and Asians), they remain an important factor in the continuing re-invention of America.

As in the past, immigrants from France, Italy, Germany and other parts of Europe continue to come to America to participate in an economy that is more dynamic, healthier, and generally more open than what they are leaving behind. America’s economic appeal has been broadened by Europe’s long-term competitive decline; its portion of world GDP dropped from 34 percent to 20 percent between 1913 and 1998, while the United States held its own at about 22 percent of global GDP (even amidst the Third World boom of the last generation).

Most recently, Europe’s position has weakened considerably. Since the 1970s, America has created some 57 million new jobs, compared to just 4 million in Europe (with most of those in government). For the last quarter century, the United States has enjoyed consistently higher rates of economic growth and productivity than European countries, and the gap has been widening....

...the United States remains a tremendous lure for many Europeans, especially younger, educated individuals. This is particularly true in technological fields, where Europe’s best brains are leaving in droves. Some 400,000 E.U. science and technology graduates currently reside in the United States, and barely one in seven, according to a recent European Commission poll, intend to return....

America’s superior per capita income, its leadership of critical global industries, and its higher quality of life are reflected in everything from housing space to consumer prices. This is all the more remarkable given that the country continues to absorb poor migrants from across the globe. America’s demographic vitality makes it nearly one of a kind among modern nations.

Thanks to significantly higher fertility rates and immigration, America’s population is growing far faster than Europe’s, particularly Spain’s, Italy’s, and Germany’s. Europe has far more old people than the United States, and a shrinking workforce. Even amidst high unemployment, there remain persistent shortages of technical workers. Overall labor-force participation in the E.U. is well below that of the United States.

Europe’s percentage of the world’s population has now fallen below 7 percent, down from 12 percent in 1950. It is expected to drop to barely 4 percent by 2050. These are not auspicious conditions either for future sales or the supply of ambitious workers. In some European countries, such as Italy, the number of deaths already exceeds births. By 2025, the average age in Europe will be 45, six years older than in the United States. By 2050 many European countries—including those of the former eastern bloc—could suffer loss of population.

Europe remains home to the world’s greatest historic cities, but many of them are losing people, too. Many American cities have enjoyed healthy population increases—not just sunbelt capitals like Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Houston but also older cities like New York City (largely due to immigration). Growing communities are generally friendlier for both employers and job-seekers.

These demographic factors place Europeans at a disadvantage. Since much of the immigration to Europe comes from poorly educated (for the most part) workers from Africa and the Middle East, it has not appreciably increased the continent’s supply of skilled workers. There is also deep-seated hostility to the newcomers among natives; nearly a third of E.U. citizens describe themselves as decidedly “prejudiced” against the continent’s current immigrants. In addition, the powerful welfare state mechanisms in Europe tend to keep both newcomers and displaced native workers out of the workforce and on the dole, further exacerbating the pressures on the economy and the social resentments.

To a large extent, Europe has also turned its back on new industries and younger people, choosing security for the current population over future opportunity. So despite large numbers of retiring workers in France, for instance, unemployment among the young has been rising—with joblessness among workers in their twenties now well exceeding 20 percent. The European welfare state also forces younger workers to pay heavily for a radically escalating number of pensioners and benefit recipients. Since 1970, Germany’s ranks of unemployed and retired have soared by some 80 percent, while the working population grew by a mere 4 percent....

All told, European immigration to the United States jumped by some 16 percent during the 1990s. Europe’s percentage of total immigrants to the U.S. rose crisply between 1998 and 2001. Visa applications dropped after 9/11, but then increased last year by 10 percent. The total number of European-born Americans increased by roughly 700,000 during the last three years, with a heavy inflow from the former Soviet Union, the former Yugoslavia, Romania, and France. These new immigrants have dispersed across many parts of the country, but have been especially drawn to New York, California, and Florida. Today’s westward human flow across the Atlantic is more critical to the future of the United States than mere numbers can indicate. In contrast to many of our other immigrants, newcomers from Europe, particularly those under 40, tend to be highly educated....

An analysis of recent census numbers indicates that white immigrants to New York (the vast majority of whom are from Europe) represent the largest number of contributors to the net growth of educated young people in the city. Without the disproportionate contributions of these young Europeans, New York would actually have suffered a net outflow of educated people under 35 during the late 1990s. Overall, there are now half a million New York City residents who were born in Europe.

The United States is still the shining city on the hill.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Economic Freedom.

Posted by Will Franklin · 14 September 2005 12:12 PM · Comments (6)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 23.

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:

nakedrambler.gif

The actual caption:

So-called 'naked rambler' Stephen Gough, seen here in June 2005, who was arrested 01 September while attempting to walk the length of Britain in the nude was jailed for two weeks for his antics by an Edinburgh court(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 20. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at WILLisms@gmail.com.


Last week's photo:

couchorleans.gif

Winners from last week:

1.

bullwinkle:

After Dallas was canceled Patrick Duffy really let himself go, longing for the days before Larry Hagman overshadowed him on TV, the glory years of Man From Atlantis.


2.

Hoodlumman:

Eric had regrets on using his last wish to fill his house shin-deep with Hershey's chocolate syrup.


3.

Kevin Turner (via email):

"The Democratic Party, in desperation to win votes, has discovered a new slogan in the aftermath of Katrina, 'A swimming pool in everyone's living room!'"


Honorable Mention #1

Patrick Carver:

"Maybe I should have gone a little easier on the Pine-Sol."


Honorable Mention #2

Hoodlumman:

Eric patted himself on the back for getting Teflon-Guard[TM] stain protectant when he bought his new couch.

Captioning is delicious, and nutritious.

Enter today!

Posted by Will Franklin · 14 September 2005 10:44 AM · Comments (23)

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

We call it "Classiness, All Around Us."

certifiedclassy.gif

Click to explore more WILLisms.com.


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

1.

Tearing Apart America-

angrylibs.gif

Patrick Ruffini (who has a lot of good stuff this week, and whose blog was also knocked out by the Los Angeles mini-blackout) ponders who really divided America:

Bush hasn't changed since 9/11 -- in fact, he's been lambasted for staying so consistent despite changing facts on the ground. But the Democrats have. And it's only fair to call a spade and spade. If they're the ones who changed, then the nation's "divisions" can be laid at their doorstep.

I've noticed this for some time now. Politics, for some, is all about undermining the other guy's campaign slogan. Well, one of President Bush's slogans in 2000 was that he was a uniter, not a divider. He brought Democrats and Republicans together to get things done in Texas. And he gave it his best shot in Washington, despite the disputed election results in Florida.

But Washington is intractibly petty. And Democrats are primarily responsible for the divided nation today. They actively divided America so they could point at Bush in 2004 and say, "he broke his promise."


2.

"Hey, where the white women at?"-

katrinablack.gif

Paul, of Wizbang, notes that the media coverage of Hurricane Katrina might lead one to believe that only poor minorities were hurt by the storm:

The media coverage really has been amazing. 80% of what the national media has reported thru all this was flawed in some non-trivial way. I know better because I live there but for Joe Six-pack living in Iowa, he has no clue what really happened in New Orleans.

After watching the media bungle the coverage in New Orleans, I can only imagine what is really happening in Iraq.

Increasingly, citizen-journalist bloggers will be able to report on events, but not in these sorts of natural disasters. In the aftermath of Katrina, the establishment media once again, ever so briefly, had a monopoly on the news, and they took advantage.


3.

9/11 Changed Everything-

911changedeverything.gif

The neo-neocon explains how she changed her entire outlook in one instant, on 9/11:

I knew immediately and intuitively that a watershed event had occurred. I didn't know the exact parameters of it, nor any details of the direction in which we were headed, but I knew that this moment felt like a break with everything that had gone before. Assumptions I hadn't even known I'd held were dead in a single instant, as though their life supports had been cut. I didn't know what would replace them.

It's always a pleasure to read her thoughts on the world. There are thousands just like her, too. But for many Americans, unfortunately, nothing at all changed on 9/11. Or, if it did change, the old habits have since creeped in.

4.

Iraq -

iraqmission.gif

Iraq has taken a definite back seat in the national media. But that doesn't mean the mission is over just yet. File It Under, which is wonderfully free of cat-blogging, puts Iraq in perspective:

The cost of lives has decreased since the early days of the introduction of the fire arm to the battle field in proportion to the increase of medical ability.

The Iraq war does not reflect a unfair burden of any race.

The cost of lives is still proportionately smaller than that of historic conflicts in part due to the increase in technology.

Despite intense spurts of activity, the insurgency has begun to lose it's effectiveness at claiming American lives.

Iraq can and will go down in history as an amazing success story, but only if we have the will to finish the job. And we're more than halfway there.

5.

Katrina Vultures-

vultures.gif

Protein Wisdom blog takes issue with those cynically using Katrina (such as Terry Neal) to bust on President Bush:

And now, like a bayou gator, he’s hoping to feast on the carcasses of Hurricane Katrina’s victims—though his hunger has little to do with a biological imperative and everything to do with a petty and vicious partisan streak that Neal, try as he might, is unable to hide.

When the story of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath are told, I promise to portray what I find honestly, as I’ve tried to do throughout this national nightmare. In the meantime, though, I will continue to document the politicized excesses of the sensationalists and partisans—nowhere so unseemly as in this latest desire on their part to turn thousands of dead humans into rotting, emotionally charged political props, all under the guise of “respect” for the “Truth.”

The good news: the New Orleans death toll will not be anywhere near 10,000 or 20,000. It might not even get close to 1,000. And that is good news.


6.

Katrina Chickenhawks-

chickenbeavers.gif

Winds of Change blog coins a great, mocking term for the left-wing armchair rescue/relief workers:

So let's keep playing chickenhawk; let's apply it to another situation. "Don't advocate government actions that will involve sacrifice unless you're also putting yourself directly in the place of those who may be asked to sacrifice."

....

Looks stupid to me, too, but put up or shut up, chickenbeaver! Hey, your game, not mine.

Incidentally, some idiot instant messaged me quite a bit in the thick of the rescue and relief efforts, telling me how Bush is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths and untold destruction, as he likely sat behind his computer screen shoveling Cheetos and Dr. Pepper down his throat. I called him a Katrina chickenhawk. Chickenbeaver is a bit better, though.


7.

Exploiting Grief To Advance Unpopular Pet Causes-

munchausen.gif

Ankle Biting Pundits blog explains that liberals are using Katrina to recast their failed sales pitches on a variety of political issues:

I think I've diagnosed their illness. They're suffering from political version of Munchausen By Proxy Syndrome.

They know they've lost the battle of ideas. So they keep hoping for some sort of White House scandal or slip-up will help them achieve their political aims. And it's not going to work.


8.

Ukraine-

orangerevolution.gif

Publius Pundit examines Viktor Yushchenko's decision to sack the entire government and start over in Ukraine:

The Orange Revolution was about change, not simple government stability. It’s a good thing that the old government has been sacked, as their infighting was damaging the country. Investors are liking the makeup of the new government, but the fact is, Yushchenko’s government has not fulfilled a great many of its promises to clean up pervasive corruption from the top down. If the intention of the new cabinet is to clean up the country where the old government wasn’t able, then this is indeed a necessary move.

Bizarrely, antiwar.com picked up this story as some sort of evidence that peaceful democratic revolutions are bad. How pathetic. Change the name on the website, already, "antiwar.com."

Change it to "commie-loving scum." Change it to "anti-capitalists 'r' us." Change it to anything, but stop pretending you are really just anti-war. Or else, stop acting so gleeful and smug about a potential setback in the peaceful march of freedom and democracy around the globe.


9.

Heat Wave-

heatwave.gif

The reliapundit notes that the death toll for Katrina is actually miraculously and remarkably low:

BY COMPARISON: the 2003 heat-wave in Europe killed 35-40,000, (14,847 in France alone; 20,000 in Italy). [More HERE.]

And Hurricane Katrina was a HUGE natural cataclysm which wreaked huge damage to 90,000 square miles!

Oprah Winfrey said right after the hurricane that America owes the people of New Orleans an apology.

For what, Oprah? Not building a magical hurricane machine to stop a hurricane from smashing into the coast?

Let's get serious, here.


10.

French Newscasters-

frenchnews.gif

Rob Port of Say Anything blog offers some advice to CNN:

Want to fix your ratings? Her name is Melissa Theuriau. Hire her. Now. We don’t care if we can’t understand her, its not like anyone pays attention to your “reporting” any more anyway.

Worked for Fox, to some extent. Could work for CNN. And her French leanings would fit in nicely at the left-wing network.


11.

Bush's Hurricane-

hurricanegwb.gif

The Nose On Your Face political satire blog notes that the Bush family has had connections to disasters throughout history:

The Black Plague (6th century AD)- Acting on a dare from drinking buddy Alaster Kennedy, hard partying Barclay Bush releases a boxful of infected English Black Rats in his town's marketplace. This sophomoric prank unwittingly causes millions of deaths and forever drives a wedge between the two dynastic political families.

Blaming Bush for anything and everything bad has become over-the-top in absurdity, but it has also simultaneously become amazingly predictable.

12.

Rail-

railtravel.gif

Political Calculations blog examines a proposed rail line in the West:

Economically speaking, of all the ways to transport people between cities, rail is perhaps the stupidest. Nowhere else do we see the confluence of extraordinarily high infrastructure costs (land, construction, equipment, facilities, etc.) and extraordinarily high operating costs (labor, maintenance, fuel, utilities, overhead, etc.) combine with extraordinarily low demand by commuters to produce such little tangible benefit.

Rail is so 19th century.


13.

Business Week scandal-

dnchackery.gif

Powerline blog notes that Business Week allowed a DNC hack to write an article, without noting his status as a hack:

So there you have it: Business Week published a vicious attack on President Bush by a man whom the magazine blandly represented as a telecom executive, writing in his field of expertise. But the magazine not only forgot to mention that Hindery was the CEO of Global Crossing; it also omitted the highly-relevant facts that Hindery is a Democratic Party activist and fundraiser, and was, fact, a contender for the Chairmanship of the Democratic Party.

Sadly, this isn't all that surprising.


14.

The Media Tsunami-

mediacreations.gif

Roger L. Simon notes how members of the establishment media have failed us:

It is the media too that fanned the flames of partisanship here, looking to assign blame before anyone could possibly understand what was happening. They are an increasingly reactionary force in our society, driving people toward partisan reactions and further and further from the ability to reason with each other. People like Nancy Pelosi, screeching for the head of the President during a natural disaster, are essentially creatures of the media. They are nothing more.

And when Republicans win policy victories or victories at the polls, the media always seem so astonished. There is reality. And there is the liberal media reality.


15.

Sharia-

islamiclawincanada.gif

In The Bullpen notes that Canada made a good move on carving out special Islamic law jurisdictions for Canadian Muslims:

Sharia Law will not be used in Canadian courts.

Good.


------------------------------------------------------------


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:

*September 6, 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.

Classy.

Posted by Will Franklin · 13 September 2005 06:00 PM · Comments (3)

Spending Up, Receipts Way Up.

The U.S. Treasury Department's Monthly Treasury Statement for August 2005 (.pdf) is out.

From October 2004 through August of 2005, federal spending in the United States rose 6.8%, relative to the same time frame last year.

Meanwhile, revenues coming into the government from October 2004 through August of 2005 rose by 13.7%, relative to the same time frame last year.

The good news: the growth of government receipts is far outpacing the growth of government spending.

The bad news: to begin with, government spending was already much larger than government receipts.

Thus, we're still running a deficit. Just not as large as projected.

augustmts2005.gif

Through August 2004, the annual federal budget deficit was 437,455,000,000 dollars.

Through August 2005, the annual federal budget deficit is 352,562,000,000 dollars. This marks a decline of 19.4% from last year. The gap between government outlays and government revenues is shrinking.

If you are a bit confused, just understand that fiscal years (FYs) begin in October of the previous year and end in September. Right now, we are at the tail end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2005. Last September, the Treasury ran a surplus, reducing the annual deficit from 437 billion to 412 billion.

This year, Congress and President Bush have already approved tens of billions of relief aid for Hurricane Katrina, which will complicate the progress of cutting down the deficit. But it remains important to note that tax relief has grown the American economy, which has generated more tax revenues, even at a lower rate. This has allowed us to cut down the deficit, although spending growth remains far too high.

And speaking of spending growth, it has grown 144 billion dollars this year over last. Here are the 12 most significant items causing growth in federal spending this year over last (notice how much of it is entitlements and other non-discretionary spending):

1. National Defense: $30.1 billion more than last year.
2. Social Security: $25.3 billion more than last year.
3. Medicare: $23.0 billion more than last year.
4. Net Interest: $18.1 billion more than last year.
5. Education: $11.9 billion more than last year.
6. Health: $9.7 billion more than last year.
7. Agriculture: $9.5 billion more than last year.
8. Income Security: $9.3 billion more than last year.
9. International Affairs: $8.0 billion more than last year.
10. Veterans Benefits & Services: $7.5 billion more than last year.
11. Community & Regional Development: $6.4 billion more than last year.
12. Transportation: $2.1 billion more than last year.
13. Energy: $1.2 billion more than last year.
14. Science, Space, Technology: $1 billion more than last year.

Spending decreased in some areas, too:

1. Administration of Justice: $6.1 billion less than last year.
2. General Government: $5.3 billion less than last year.
3. Natural Resources & Environment: $2.9 billion less than last year.
4. Commerce & Housing Credit: $0.5 billion less than last year.

This information ought to reinforce just how important it is to reform entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare. This data also ought to underline the importance of pro-growth tax reform, which will help us grow our economy, which will ultimately spur greater receipts of tax revenues.

Posted by Will Franklin · 13 September 2005 03:13 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 168 -- Economic Freedom.

The Power Of Economic Freedom-

Economic freedom is a powerful force. The Cato Institute explains that economic freedom is a key that can unlock the greatness of a society. Indeed, there is power in economic freedom:

The experiences of Ireland, New Zealand and Iceland illustrate the importance of economic freedom.

In the mid-1980s all these countries were characterized by large and growing governments, high taxes and substantial restraints on international trade.

In 1985, Ireland's economic freedom rating was 6.2, New Zealand's was 5.9 and the rating for Iceland was 4.9.

Between 1985 and 1995, however, each of these countries moved substantially toward economic freedom and their ratings increased accordingly.

Today, each of the three ranks among the world's freest economic. And they have reaped substantial benefits.

During the last dozen years, the growth rate of per capita GDP of each of these countries has been more than double the rate of the 1980s. In recent years, the unemployment rates of Ireland and New Zealand have been about 5%, less than half the rate of most European countries.

And Iceland's unemployment rate is even lower, a minuscule 2.6%.

Estonia also vividly illustrates the power and potency of economic freedom. In this year's index, it ranks 9th (ties with Australia, Luxembourg, and the United Arab Emirates).

Thus, it is the freest of the former Soviet bloc countries.

A decade ago, inflation in Estonia was over 1,000%, the economy was declining, unemployment was over 30% and 95% of the enterprises were owned by the government.

But Estonia moved quickly. Government enterprises were privatized, a flat rate tax was adopted, government spending was sliced and trade barriers were eliminated. In the short space of eight years, Estonia's economic freedom rating rose from 5.3 to 7.8 on the 10-point EFW scale.

Today, inflation is 2.5%, Estonia's economy is growing at an annual rate in excess of 6% and unemployment is low.

And the rankings for 2005 are out. There's reason for optimism:

This year’s report notes that economic freedom remains on the rise. The average economic freedom score rose from 5.2 (out of 10) in 1985 to 6.4 in the most recent year for which data are available. In this year’s index, Hong Kong retains the highest rating for economic freedom, 8.7 of 10, closely followed by Singapore at 8.5. New Zealand, Switzerland, and the United States tied for third with ratings of 8.2. The United Kingdom, Canada, and Ireland ranked 6th, 7th, and 8th, respectively. Australia, Estonia, Luxembourg, and the United Arab Emirates tied for 9th.

Economic Freedom of the World measures the degree to which the policies and institutions of countries are supportive of economic freedom. The cornerstones of economic freedom are personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to compete, and security of privately owned property.

While sometimes it may not seem like it, the good guys are winning.

And this is good news for more than just ideological warriors, who like the philosophy of smaller government. It is good news for the day-to-day lives of the citizens of countries moving toward greater economic freedom.

I. Greater economic freedom coincides with greater per capita income (.pdf):

freedomincome.gif


II. Greater economic freedom coincides with greater economic growth (.pdf):

freedomgrowth.gif


III. Greater economic freedom coincides with greater levels of investment (.pdf):

freedominvestment.gif


IV. Greater economic freedom coincides with lower levels of unemployment (.pdf):

freedomunemployment.gif


V. Greater economic freedom coincides with greater life expectancy (.pdf):

freedomlife.gif

But what about equality? Aren't all men created equal? Doesn't terrible inequality take root in nations with a great deal of economic freedom?

VI. Less economic freedom does necessarily lead to the poorest earning a greater share of national income (.pdf):

freedompoor.gif

The answer for poverty is not to destroy and constrain and shackle wealth. The solution is to grow the economy. With the growing economy, the poorest benefit accordingly.

VII. In countries with greater economic freedom, the poorest enjoy a far greater per capita income than in countries with less economic freedom (.pdf):

freedompoverty.gif

The poor in economically free countries have cars and televisions and cell phones; better yet, they have food and clothing and shelter. In economically unfree countries, the poor have just about nothing.


VIII. Greater economic freedom coincides with higher literacy rates (.pdf):

freedomliteracy.gif

Professor Rudy Rummel, meanwhile, has some issues with the claim that economic freedom is a more effective deterrent to war than democracy:

...there are NO (zero) wars between democracies over almost two-centuries. How can economic freedom improve on that, not to mention being 50 times better?

The information on economic freedom is still valid, but Rummel does make an important point about the Cato Institute's libertarian-inspired isolationist leanings in world affairs. The Cato Institute holds quite a bit of skepticism-- even hostility-- toward the liberation of places like Iraq. Those leanings likely made the Cato authors get a little carried away with themselves, rhetorically.

But it's hard not to get carried away. Economic freedom is truly awesome.

Stay tuned later this week for more benefits of economic freedom.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Senator Landrieu's 2008 Hopes.

Posted by Will Franklin · 13 September 2005 10:48 AM · Comments (0)

Los Angeles Power Outage Takes WILLisms.com Down With It.

If you were trying to get onto WILLisms.com over the past few hours and couldn't, it's because of the Los Angeles power failure:

A wide-ranging power outage, set off when a cable was accidentally cut, darkened large sections of downtown Los Angeles and many parts of the San Fernando Valley for a couple hours shortly after noon, authorities said.

Two million customers were affected before most power was restored about 2 p.m. During the blackout, elevators stalled, traffic lights either went out or burned steadily green, and teachers tried to soothe worried schoolchildren.

Ron Deaton, head of the city Department of Water and Power, said at one point two of the city's four power generating stations in the Los Angeles Basin had shut down.

Deaton said two stations that receive power from the generators malfunctioned as a result of the severed cable.

Results then cascaded throughout DWP's massive system, automatically shutting down the plants.

Annoying.

Posted by Will Franklin · 12 September 2005 07:29 PM · Comments (5)

Revolutionary Carnival.

Quid Nimis blog is hosting this week's Carnival of Revolutions.

Go support the spread of freedom in the world.

Posted by Will Franklin · 12 September 2005 10:48 AM · Comments (0)

200,000 Visitors.

On June 26, WILLisms.com hit 100,000 visitors on the ole sitemeter.

Earlier today, September 12, the sitemeter hit 200,000.

Posted by Will Franklin · 12 September 2005 10:43 AM · Comments (6)

Quotational Therapy: Part 44 -- Eugene Debs.

Eugene Debs, "The Canton, Ohio Speech"-

eugenedebs.gif
Socialism is a growing idea; an expanding philosophy. It is spreading over the entire face of the earth: It is as vain to resist it as it would be to arrest the sunrise on the morrow. It is coming, coming, coming all along the line. Can you not see it? If not, I advise you to consult an oculist. There is certainly something the matter with your vision. It is the mightiest movement in the history of mankind. What a privilege to serve it!

....

It has taught me how to serve — a lesson to me of priceless value. It has taught me the ecstasy in the handclasp of a comrade. It has enabled me to hold high communion with you, and made it possible for me to take my place side by side with you in the great struggle for the better day; to multiply myself over and over again, to thrill with a fresh-born manhood; to feel life truly worthwhile; to open new avenues of vision; to spread out glorious vistas; to know that I am kin to all that throbs; to be class-conscious, and to realize that, regardless of nationality, race, creed, color or sex, every man, every woman who toils, who renders useful service, every member of the working class without an exception, is my comrade, my brother and sister — and that to serve them and their cause is the highest duty of my life.

And in their service I can feel myself expand; I can rise to the stature of a man and claim the right to a place on earth — a place where I can stand and strive to speed the day of industrial freedom and social justice.

Yes, my comrades, my heart is attuned to yours. Aye, all our hearts now throb as one great heart responsive to the battle cry of the social revolution. Here, in this alert and inspiring assemblage our hearts are with the Bolsheviki of Russia. Those heroic men and women, those unconquerable comrades have by their incomparable valor and sacrifice added fresh luster to the fame of the international movement. Those Russian comrades of ours have made greater sacrifices, have suffered more, and have shed more heroic blood than any like number of men and women anywhere on earth; they have laid the foundation of the first real democracy that ever drew the breath of life in this world. And the very first act of the triumphant Russian revolution was to proclaim a state of peace with all mankind, coupled with a fervent moral appeal, not to kings, not to emperors, rulers or diplomats but to the people of all nations. [Applause.] Here we have the very breath of democracy, the quintessence of the dawning freedom.

Read the entire June 16, 1918 speech here. Actually, don't. But it's there for reference.

Factoid: Eugene Debs ran for president 5 times. He was the Socialist Party nominee each time. His popularity peaked in 1912, which had more to do with the political landscape's major upheaval due to former President Theodore Roosevelt's third party candidacy than any actual surge in popularity.

1900- 0.62%
1904- 2.98%
1908- 2.82%
1912- 5.99%
1920- 3.42%

It is funny to read Eugene Debs' comments in 2005, with the 20th century in our rear-view mirror. But it would not have been such a laugh-fest had American become a socialist paradise as Debs wished.

Today, the annual U.S. economy is nearly 12 trillion dollars (.pdf) strong. But it didn't get there by accident.

It could be an 8 trillion dollar economy. Or a 4 trillion dollar economy. Or a half a trillion dollar economy (as in the Russian Federation). Or a 20 trillion dollar economy.

Had we made different choices along the way, choices supported by Eugene Debs, the history of the United States could have been very different (and not in a good way). And thus, the present of the United States could have been very different. We could have been stronger. We could have been weaker. It all depended upon the choices we made along the way. Our future depends, likewise, on the choices we make today.

Sure, our economy was generally freer than any other throughout the 20th century. Thus, the American economy was generally stronger than any other throughout the 20th century.

But as ever-more of the world realizes the power of economic freedom, we can and must do better to remain on top. The world is in constant flux, with a perpetual flow of change. Whether we ride or outrun the wave, or get swallowed up by it, is up to us, right here, right now.

In an 11 or 12 trillion dollar economy, we can afford a healthy and growing population, living in safety and comfort and happiness. We can handle a natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina without sinking into economic catastrophe.

Many Americans are upset by Hurricane Katrina and her aftermath because it made us feel like we were but a third world country. It forced America to recognize the uncomfortable fact that the New Deal and Great Society failed to eliminate poverty in America.

Unfortunately, some are drawing the wrong conclusions from this. They think it verifies the nanny state. They want higher taxes. They want more socialism. They believe a larger government could have somehow prevented Hurricane Katrina and/or its aftermath.

How wrong that lesson would be. You do not grow an economy by throwing shackles onto it. And you do not improve the lives of your citizens with a smaller, stagnating economy.

In a few more years, that 11,667,515,000,000 dollar economy America boasted in 2004 will become 14 trillion, which will become 20 trillion, which will become 40 trillion. This will happen in our lifetimes.

It is this growth that will allow us to eradicate poverty. It is this wealth that will allow us to project power in the world. It is our wealth that will pull us through crises.

Let us not follow Eugene Debs, nor his modern day torch bearers, into ruin. Let's instead continue to find ourselves on the winning side of history.

-----------------------------

Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Huey P. Long.

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 12 September 2005 09:50 AM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 167 -- Mary Landrieu's 2008 Hopes.

The Louisiana Democratic Political Machine May Be In Trouble-

Truth:

"If Sen. Mary Landrieu were as good at busing black people to safety as she was at busing them to the polls to vote, none of them would have died."

In 2002, Republicans across the country made significant gains in Congress, even in traditionally Democratic bastions such as Minnesota. But not in Louisiana, a state that has been trending away from the Democrats for the past several years. Mary Landrieu defeated Republican Suzanne Terrell in a run-off election a month after the nationwide November GOP surge.

Why?

Well, Louisiana politics are messed up. There's no other way to put it. There were 8 Republicans on the general election ballot in 2002, and in the general election, GOP candidates garnered 51% of the vote.

Thus, a run-off election (which nearly happened again in 2004 with Republican David Vitter's narrow election win).

In the run-off election, Mary Landrieu drove up turnout in heavily African-American areas of New Orleans, while turnout elsewhere in the state fell (because there was no national election happening to keep the interest of folks who were not specifically targeted for massive GOTV efforts).

More on the unfortunate December 2002 runoff race that sent Senator Landrieu to Washington:

...just one month ago, Landrieu had looked poised to lose the election after slogging through an unimpressive primary showing. But her shift in strategy during the last few weeks succeeded in bringing her base to the polls the second time around -- and contains some worthwhile lessons for Democrats looking to rebound from November's debacle.

In Saturday's runoff against Republican Elections Commissioner Suzanne Terrell, turnout in New Orleans -- where a large number of Louisiana's black, and largely Democratic, voters reside -- increased by 4 percentage points even as overall statewide turnout decreased by the same margin.

Winning Orleans Parish by a 4-to-1 ratio, Landrieu carried the day with 52 percent of the vote to Terrell's 48 percent. With a decisive 40,000-vote victory, she topped her 1996 performance, when she squeaked by Republican Woody Jenkins by a margin of less than 6,000 votes.

Susan Howell, a professor at the University of New Orleans, credited the city in which she teaches and its large African-American community for Landrieu's victory. "If you take out Orleans Parish," she said, "Terrell would have been elected."

Pundits all over the country are making assertions about Katrina's likely negative electoral effects for the Republican Party. They are wrong.

Texas, with our 20-something million people, can absorb hundreds of thousands of Democrats and hardly miss a beat. Meanwhile, if merely tens of thousands of New Orleans residents choose to settle in Houston or Dallas or elsewhere and not to return to the city between now and 2008 (a high likelihood), Mary Landrieu is done. For that matter, Democrats running in statewide elections in Louisiana will be done.

But what about the angry public, the nation over?

Well, don't count on that. People in West Virginia or Tennessee or Florida are not going to rise up, more than a year from now, in electoral anger, directed at the GOP.

And threats from the African-American community to vote straight-Democratic after Katrina ring hollow. Blacks (and white liberals, who would be the only other group outraged by the alleged lack of response to Katrina) already do vote almost unanimously for Democrats.

And Republicans still win elections.


Source:

The American Prospect magazine.


UPDATE:

Video of Landrieu losing her mind:

marylandrieu.gif

She knows how much political trouble she has ahead.

Oh, she knows.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: U.S. Corps of Engineers Funding, Louisiana.

Posted by Will Franklin · 12 September 2005 09:39 AM · Comments (6)

Koizumi Wins Mandate For Reform.

Chalk up yet another win for the good guys.

A little over a month ago, WILLisms.com noted Japan's looming election, which was to be a referendum on the Prime Minister Koizumi's plans for the privatization of Japan's lethargic postal system (and, to a much lesser extent, about Japanese foreign policy).

But this ain't about delivering mail. The Japanese postal system is more like a central bank, with trillions in assets. $3 trillion, to be exact. Just for reference, the entire British economy in 2004 was only worth a little more than 2 trillion dollars (.pdf).

In essence, the vote was about whether Japan would pursue a free market economy, or languish in pork barrel oblivion. It was about breaking out of a cycle of economic stagnation dating back more than a decade and competing more effectively in the global economy.

Koizumi promised major reform, a la Conan the Barbarian:

"I will crush the old LDP and create a new one. I will not join hands with the old LDP," the Yomiuri Shimbun quoted Koizumi as telling LDP leaders following yesterday's vote.

"I will be merciless. I will decide (candidates) depending only on whether they are against or for the plan to privatize the postal system," the Mainichi Shimbun paper quoted him saying.

And, judging by the results, Koizumi was merciless. His LDP hammered opponents into smithereens:

ldp.gif

After the results were tallied, Koizumi had won an impressive victory over his opponents:

The LDP's final tally stood at 296 seats in the Lower House, well above the 241 seats needed for a majority and the 249 seats it held when Koizumi dissolved the chamber last month. Optimism about the results sent Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei stock index surging 1.8 percent to 12,915.53 points in early trading....

The DPJ took a disheartening plunge on Sunday to 113 seats, from 175.

And Koizumi was the driving force behind the entire thing, having risked his entire political career on a single snap election:

koizumiwins.gif

Riding Sun blog explains:

Japan's political and bureaucratic structure is like a trapezoid, with no one person accountable at the top. A system like this, with no one to kick out of office when things go wrong, breeds apathy and inertia. True, Koizumi may not have been directly elected Prime Minister. And Japan's ministries, laden with unelected bureaucrats, are still immensely powerful. But by personally investing himself in a bold reform policy, Koizumi is turning the trapezoid into a pyramid.

Jim Rose notes:

You just have to admire Prime Minister Koizumi...he's got a set of grapes the likes of which Japan hasn't seen since Godzilla.

Absolutely.

And Koizumi's victory also strengthens U.S.-Japanese ties, and bolsters the American coalition in the War On Terror. Longterm, a stronger Japan is imperative for the United States in our looming geostrategic chess game with China. A win for the good guys indeed.

Posted by Will Franklin · 11 September 2005 11:07 PM · Comments (1)

09.11.01

A couple of thoughts on 9/11.

I. I had just been in the World Trade Center, only 2-3 weeks earlier, at the end of summer right before school started up again.

In the North Tower, even, the first one hit. And in the morning, even.

I ate lunch at the world famous Windows On The World, which was on the 106th floor.

I stayed across the street at the Millenium Hilton, which was badly damaged during the terrorist attacks and remained closed for 20 months.

Looking out from the hotel room dozens of stories up, the Twin Towers were larger than life.

Sadly, I remember talking about how tight security was and how these buildings, which survived a major terrorist attack in 1993, are living monuments to the power of America. And I recall noting how tight security was, in and around the facility. Nothing is going to bring these buildings down, other than a nuclear bomb, and that's not happening, I told my friends.

I had been to the WTC before, and for me, going to the rooftop observation deck was the coolest thing about visiting New York City. So I made a point to return whenever possible.

While on the roof, I thought, foolishly, how being up there felt like being on a mountaintop. A very safe and secure mountaintop. A castle and a temple, on the highest peak for miles. What place is safer than a very tall building, perhaps surrounded by a ring of other buildings included in the security zone? The buildings would have their own missile defense system, and layers and layers of security. Worst case scenario, I would just need to learn how to base jump with a parachute and/or hang glider in case the Vandal or Mongol or Goth hordes somehow overwhelmed the castle.

I have a few pictures with friends (including a cute gal who is now my wife) from the courtyard of the WTC. One with the fountain in the background, the one with the spherical sculpture that survived the damage, barely.

As is almost always the case, I rarely get film developed until weeks or months after I finish a roll of film. No particular reason. It's just what I do. So it was an eerie feeling, sometime in October 2001, getting back a roll of film with World Trade Center pictures.

I don't really think much about the fact that I could have dodged a bullet. The terrorists could have chosen to act in late August instead. But they didn't.

However, I do think a lot about how, if it could have been me had the calendar worked out a bit differently, it could have been anybody. This was truly an attack on all of America, and on the civilized world. For the barbarians who committed those acts of terror that day, the more indiscriminate and senseless deaths the better.


II. On 9/11 itself, I had a job at the Texas Attorney General's Office, working for now-Senator Cornyn. I was also in school at UT. So I worked from about 5:30 in the morning until 9:30, each morning. Incidentally, my job was to monitor the news. I compiled a big booklet of clips each day from newspapers around Texas and the country dealing with issues pertinent to the AG's office. This packet was sent out to hundreds of folks at the agency. But there was also a packet for John Cornyn to read on the way to work in the morning.

There was a TV I rarely turned on, because it was distracting from reading the papers. But I had it on that day. On CNN or Fox News. I can't remember. I had it on mute, or at least very, very low volume.

During that morning, they broke in with news about a plane that had hit the World Trade Center. Back then, breaking news banners were still used sparingly. So it caught my eye. I turned up the volume. Smoke was coming out of the Tower. The North Tower. The one I had just been in not too long ago.

The announcers were referring to it as an accident. As a small, private plane. This had happened back in the 1940s, with the Empire State Building and a military plane that was flying far too low in low visibility, they explained. People died in that incident.

How sad. People are dead. Maybe even a dozen. Wow, so sad.

I didn't think too much about it at first. But I lowered the volume again and tried to finish up some work. This didn't seem like big enough news to look anything up on the internet and print it out for inclusion in the clips. Not even close.

Then, suddenly, I look up, and I see a plane crashing into the South Tower.

Wait a minute. That's not possible. The other tower was already on fire. So... that means... a second plane? This was a big plane, though. Looked like a commercial jet. The guidance systems must be off. No. That's stupid. Two planes do not run into two buildings, side-by-side, in the same morning, unless someone meant for it to happen.

....


....

This is an attack on our country.

So I started walking around telling everyone in the office about it.

Come to the TV. This is a big deal.

And we all stood and watched the replay of the second crash. Again and again.

Then, the live shot.

A tower begins folding into itself.

Everyone in the office gasps. A woman begins to cry. Otherwise, silent. Staring.

I was just in there.

A little later, the other tower folds into itself.

News of dozens of hijacked planes, all over the country.

Unbelievable.

Crashes at the Pentagon. Maybe another crash somewhere else. All flights grounded by the FAA.


III. So I left work and put on some different clothes for school, and walked up to campus. So many people seemed so entirely oblivious, walking around. It was a beautiful Austin day. A picture of innocence. The pre-9/11 world.

But you could see the news spreading, by word of mouth.

"Did you hear?" "No, what?" "Crashed planes everywhere."

I lived in West Campus at the time in Austin, Texas. As the name indicates, it was just West of the UT campus. And I entered through the West Mall, which is the vibrant political and religious forum for individuals and clubs on campus to peddle their ideas. Some of the clubs were so specific and strange that they became almost parodies of themselves.

But it was a good place to meet up with people. Having visited many dozens of campuses across the country, there is nothing quite like it anywhere, the West Mall.

So I noticed someone from one of my classes. He approached and asked if I had heard.

Yep. Hard to believe.

So he proceeds to tell me, "I mean, they must've REALLY hated globalization. I mean, I hate globalization, too, but I don't think I couldn've gone through with that. I just can't believe they did it."

Me: "Wait a minute, you don't think Muslim terrorists did this?"

Him: "Stuff like this has been in the works for years now. I just didn't think it would be so big."

It became clear that this guy actually believed one of his weird left-wing buddies/colleagues, ferociously against global capitalism, committed the atrocities of 9/11. And he might have had some knowledge of other plans to target symbols of major corporations.

Me: "What do you mean, like, the anti-WTO people did this?"

Him: "I don't know. I don't know. It had to be, but I just don't know."

Another anti-globalization person approached and began saying the same sorts of things. I said I had to get to class, so I took off, wondering how anyone could be so stupid.

But, then again, why couldn't it have been ultra-leftist extremists? It would likely take a lot of education, a lot of expertise, a lot of wealth, and a lot of fanaticism to pull off something so grand. They could recruit right from college campuses, teach them how to fly planes, and set them into action.

Then I thought back to one of my worst classes I had ever taken at UT, with one of the worst, most worthless professors ever. In the class, we watched the movie Fight Club as an example of post-modernism. There was a significant bit of anti-corporate terrorism in that movie. And a few people in the class sympathized with such terrorism as a legitimate tactic. I mean, if it was good enough for the Palestinians, why, it is good enough for Americans against our corporate oppressors.

But I quickly eschewed the idea that these anti-WTO types could have pulled off such a thing. However, that conversation never left me. Just the fact that these people felt one of their own could have done such a thing is remarkable.

I just wonder what exactly it was they had in the works before 9/11.


IV. My class quickly turned into a discussion on 9/11. Lots of "American policy caused this" and "wars for oil caused this" and "Bush has angered the world" type of stuff, balanced out with, "you are an idiot, these people have no justification for doing this."

Amazing that the class was already so rancorous and divided. Not a good sign for the future, I thought.


V. Later that night, I wept. I cried like a little girl. I felt like I had been so strong, all day, helping to calm people down, helping to soothe some of the panic and hysteria many of my fellow college students were feeling. One girl in one of my classes was out of her mind. Her father recently moved to New York City. She had never even been to visit him up there. He lived "on the East Side." I had to explain that he was going to be fine. And he was.

Others worried the UT Tower would be next. Or the Texas State Capitol Building. Or any other number of residential towers around campus.

People were genuinely nervous. Many were away from home for the first time, they were confused and concerned and not-so-irrationally consumed with panic.

And I tried my best to put on a stoic face. And I did.

But that night, away from other people, I wept. My then-girlfriend (now-wife) was the only one to see me weep. I wept for a good 30 minutes straight. Hard.

It was just so much to think about. So many lives lost, instantaneously. So much trouble ahead. The post-Cold War dream world bubble was over. And if it could have been us, it could have been anyone. Thousands of normal people living their lives, destroyed by fanatical maniacs. It was just too much to handle. Weeping in sorrow. Weeping in anger. Weeping in confusion. Weeping in regret. Weeping in fear. Just weeping.

Weeping does a body good in a situation like that. It does a soul one better.

Our leaders, full of panic, weeping hysterically on national television during an ongoing crisis is another matter, though.

[Ahem. Cough. Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard. Cough.]


Everyone has a 9/11 memory or two. People will remember where they were and what they were doing. Those are pivotal moments in American history. Our memories of 9/11 are monumental and significant.

People will also begin to lose touch with those memories, especially if the establishment media want us to forget about 9/11-- and we allow them to "help" us forget. We can't let that happen.

Posted by Will Franklin · 11 September 2005 02:36 PM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 166 -- U.S. Corps Of Engineers Funding

Louisiana Had PLENTY Of Funding For Levees-

Before Hurricane Katrina breached a levee on the New Orleans Industrial Canal, the Army Corps of Engineers had already launched a $748 million construction project at that very location. But the project had nothing to do with flood control. The Corps was building a huge new lock for the canal, an effort to accommodate steadily increasing barge traffic.

Except that barge traffic on the canal has been steadily decreasing.

In Katrina's wake, Louisiana politicians and other critics have complained about paltry funding for the Army Corps in general and Louisiana projects in particular. But over the five years of President Bush's administration, Louisiana has received far more money for Corps civil works projects than any other state, about $1.9 billion; California was a distant second with less than $1.4 billion, even though its population is more than seven times as large.

And Mary Landrieu should be ashamed of herself:

...after a $194 million deepening project for the Port of Iberia flunked a Corps cost-benefit analysis, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) tucked language into an emergency Iraq spending bill ordering the agency to redo its calculations.

Meanwhile (emphasis mine):

Louisiana's politicians have requested much more money for New Orleans hurricane protection than the Bush administration has proposed or Congress has provided. In the last budget bill, Louisiana's delegation requested $27.1 million for shoring up levees around Lake Pontchartrain, the full amount the Corps had declared as its "project capability." Bush suggested $3.9 million, and Congress agreed to spend $5.7 million.

Administration officials also dramatically scaled back a long-term project to restore Louisiana's disappearing coastal marshes, which once provided a measure of natural hurricane protection for New Orleans. They ordered the Corps to stop work on a $14 billion plan, and devise a $2 billion plan instead.

But overall, the Bush administration's funding requests for the key New Orleans flood-control projects for the past five years were slightly higher than the Clinton administration's for its past five years. Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, the chief of the Corps, has said that in any event, more money would not have prevented the drowning of the city, since its levees were designed to protect against a Category 3 storm, and the levees that failed were already completed projects. Strock has also said that the marsh-restoration project would not have done much to diminish Katrina's storm surge, which passed east of the coastal wetlands.

It is simply a canard, an evil, dispicable canard, for people to assert that Bush "cut funding" to the levees, and therefore is somehow responsible for the flooding of New Orleans:

The Senate's latest budget bill for the Corps included 107 Louisiana projects worth $596 million, including $15 million for the Industrial Canal lock

Ridiculous amounts of money. Indeed, Louisiana is pork central:

Louisiana not only leads the nation in overall Corps funding, it places second in new construction -- just behind Florida, home of an $8 billion project to restore the Everglades.

So to those arguing that Louisiana just needed more funding, you all just need to shut your pieholes. Just shut your yappers and keep them that way. You should be ashamed of yourself. There are likely thousands of projects, all over the country today, that are "underfunded." In the event of a future terrorist attack or natural disaster in any number of locations around the country, the recrimination squads will rampage through and immediately declare that a lack of funding (or a "cut" in funding, which is often just a freeze or slowdown in the rate of growth) caused the disaster, or made it worse.

And these jerks, so predictable, will be wrong yet again. But their erroneous meme will have settled in to the national consciousness before sufficient facts are gathered to repudiate the nonsense.

Source:

The Washington Post, "Money Flowed to Questionable Projects".

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Men and Women.

Posted by Will Franklin · 11 September 2005 10:42 AM · Comments (3)

Texas... Fight.

The #2 Texas Longhorns go on the road and defeat #4 Ohio State 25-22.

Awesome.

sweed.gif

Texas made a lot of silly mistakes and turnovers but still eeked out the win.

[sigh of relief]

An amazing and classic game.

UPDATE:

Almost forgot about this picture that my wife's coworker sent her:

ftball.bmp

Ohio State did deliver some pretty nasty (but totally legal) shots to Texas Quarterback Vince Young, but I would just guess that they failed to knock him out of the Heisman race like they said they would.

Posted by Will Franklin · 10 September 2005 10:51 PM · Comments (5)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 165 -- Men & Women.

The Gender Gap-

Girls may now rule American high schools, academically, and make up increasing proportions of college populations. But they still have many trails to blaze in the elite levels of science, math, literature, architecture, medicine, and just about every other scholarly pursuit.

...in the 20th century, women got only 2 percent of the Nobel Prizes in the sciences—a proportion constant for both halves of the century—and 10 percent of the prizes in literature. The Fields Medal, the most prestigious award in mathematics, has been given to 44 people since it originated in 1936. All have been men.

Source:
Commentary magazine, "The Inequality Taboo."

Written by one of the authors of The Bell Curve, the points made in the above article are something we need to examine. If there are natural differences between men and women, maybe we need to take a new approach to educating and training and preparing our youth.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: The Federal Government's Remarkable Response To Hurricane Katrina.

Posted by Will Franklin · 10 September 2005 01:19 PM · Comments (2)

HURRICANE KATRINA: The United Methodist Committee On Relief (UMCOR).

If you have yet to give to a relief effort but still want to, here is another organization worth your money:

umcor.gif

It's called UMCOR (UNITED METHODIST COMMITTEE ON RELIEF), and they are extremely efficient in terms of converting donations into help on the ground. The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance rates UMCOR highly. And if you are concerned about the tax ramifications, UMCOR is a 501(c)(3) organization, which means contributions are deductible for income tax purposes.

The United Methodist Committee On Relief, along with myriad other faith-based organizations, are a bit neglected right now, and it is great to give to the Salvation Army and the Red Cross, but these religious organizations are uniquely equipped to handle these kinds of disasters. UMCOR, in particular, has worked in hurricane zones in recent years, helping people get back on track. They are very much worth your support.

Posted by Will Franklin · 9 September 2005 08:25 PM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 164 -- Katrina Rescue Efforts.

Government Rescue Efforts: An Admirable Response-

I wish everyone would stop wondering who is to blame for the "poor, slow response" to Katrina. I don't agree that it was a poor-- or slow-- response. Not at all. It was a hurricane that decimated an area the size of Great Britain. It knocked out water, power, communications, transportation, and just about everything else anyone would need to rescue and relocate hundreds of thousands of people. That the response from the federal government has been so thorough, so swift, and so overwhelming is a miracle. Call me a shill or a Bush apologist, but this goes beyond this president or that president, this FEMA administrator or that. In a free society, government can only do so much to prevent, mitigate, or react to a crisis. We like it that way. Our country has sacrificed for, and benefited from, limited and decentralized powers in our federal/state/local system.

But helicopters and people in boats were rescuing people almost immediately following the break of the levee. The "they waited 5 days" nonsense is just infuriating, given that so many people were working so hard to find and rescue people trapped by flood waters.

Indeed, the government relief efforts have produced admirable, tangible results:

- Federal disaster declarations are covering 90,000 square miles of affected areas.

- 71,100 unified federal personnel have been deployed

- 47,089 lives have been saved and rescued

- 35,000 evacuations have been made from New Orleans

- Commodities delivered to date include:


* 11.6 million MREs

* 19.6 million liters of water

* 1.7 million pounds of ice

* 32 tons of basic first aid supplies

* More than 600 buses to transport evacuees


- 736 shelters with a population of 234,646. This number fluctuates daily.

- The United States Coast Guard saved more than 9,500 lives in the wake of Katrina, nearly double the total number of lives saved by the Coast Guard in all of 2003.

Imagine that. You mean, they weren't "doing nothing"?

If anything, the federal government (and Bush administration) failed to respond adequately to the immediate and coordinated partisan attacks, because the federal government was too busy saving lives and otherwise acting like adults.


-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: New Orleans, Decaying Prior To Katrina.

Posted by Will Franklin · 9 September 2005 07:34 PM · Comments (5)

America's Resilient Economy.

The American economy is powerful, and resilient, both as a rule, and today specifically. And we will make it through Katrina without a recession. Bank on that.

Let's take a look at some of the pre-Katrina data, for perspective on just how much it would take to derail the economy.

JOBS-

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, another solid growth number came in, with little or no notice, other than from some bloggers here and there.

unemploymentlow.gif

America's unemployment rate fell to 4.9% last month, having added 169,000 net new jobs in August (July job gains were also revised upward).

Indeed, more Americans are working than ever before.

morepeopleworkingthaneverbe.gif

Not surprisingly, jobless claims are also significantly down in recent years.

joblessclaimsdown.gif

More than 4.1 million net new jobs have been created in America in the past couple of years.

newjobs.gif

Meanwhile, the Labor Department's Household Survey, which better measures self-employed entrepreneuers and small business activity, indicates even stronger job growth since 2003 than the Payroll Survey:

employmentsince2003.gif

The unemployment rate is not at all-time lows, but it could get there in a hurry at the rate we're going.

previouspeaks.gif

If 4.9% unemployment is evidence of a terrible economy, I can hardly imagine what double digit unemployment (in socialist-lite countries like Germany and France) would mean.

No matter how you cut it, America's job situation has improved markedly in the past 27 months.


GDP-

Gross Domestic Product continues to grow at a robust pace. Think about how significant this is. Our economy is already so much larger than any other, yet it continues growing at a faster rate than nearly every other "Western" country.

gdpgrowthcontinues.gif


HOME SALES-

The housing market just continues its atmospheric growth.

homesaleshigh.gif

Both new and existing homes continue to sell like hotcakes. And more Americans own their own homes than ever before.

Meanwhile, developers continue to build new homes, because there is such a persistently high demand for them.

housingstarts.gif


ENERGY-

In the wake of Katrina, many feared 100 dollar oil, due to the Gulf Coast's pivotal role in meeting America's energy needs.

However, because of the President's swift leadership in releasing millions of barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the price of a barrel of oil has actually fallen below pre-Katrina levels. The stabilization of energy prices is good news.


Katrina's Effects-

Katrina will hurt. And hurt a lot. There's no doubt about that. In addition to the staggering loss of life, losing New Orleans will mean the loss of property, of employment, and of Gross Domestic Product.

In an 11 trillion dollar (and growing) economy, though, Hurricane Katrina will not derail the progress the United States economy has made over the past 2 or 3 years. Our economy is simply too mighty for the R-word ("recession") to be in the cards. Unless we let it do so.

If we fail to repeal the death tax, or actually RAISE taxes, as some liberals are now demanding, we will turn Katrina into a true economic disaster. If tax relief, which freed the overburdened American engine of commerce from its shackles, was responsible for making America's last recession more brief-- and more shallow-- and was responsible for getting America's economy moving in the right direction (and it was largely responsible), then why on earth would we raise taxes, throwing the shackles restraining commerce right back on?

If we have a Gold-Medal Olympic athlete (the American economy) with a torn ACL (Katrina), do we cut out the other ACL (tax hikes) in order to replace the torn one?

No. That is ridiculous.

We heal the torn ACL, while applying therapy to keep the rest of the world-class muscles from experiencing atrophy during recovery. If we apply the right therapy, the body ends up as strong-- or stronger-- than it might have been to begin with.

Tax free empowerment zones, which Newt Gingrich and Jack Kemp have talked about quite a bit in recent days, could help get New Orleans (and the rest of the Upper Gulf Coast) back on track. We need school choice vouchers. We need to suspend gas taxes and other fees. We need to apply pro-growth therapy to the region.

While Katrina is a sucker punch to the gut of America's economy, there is very little prospect for the kind of catastrophic long-term damage it might have done to a lesser economy. 1998's Hurricane Mitch comes to mind:

...Hurricane Mitch devastated several countries in Central America. In Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador, the countries that suffered the greatest damage, 10,500 people died and close to another 10,000 disappeared. Overall, some seven million people were affected by Mitch.

In addition to the tremendous human tragedy, the hurricane was a genuine economic disaster for the region. "The GDP fell by approximately 20%," notes Martínez Lázaro. "The economic impact is much greater on small countries," he adds, comparing the impact of Mitch with the impact of Hurricane Katrina in the United States. While Katrina hit the Gulf coast area hard, "Mitch destroyed the economies of all those countries in every sector, not just in tourism. It was total and comprehensive, and it also led to an enormous wave of emigration." Furthermore, the U.S. "will be able to rebuild the devastated zones while Central America, in contrast, relied entirely on foreign aid. In the U.S., there will be refugees, but the people who have been displaced will be going back to their houses sooner or later. Katrina will not produce the same wave of emigration that occurred in Central America."

While Americans might feel impotent or helpless or that we're no better than a third world country, it is unlikely nearly any other country on earth could have responded as swiftly and overwhelmingly as the U.S. has, without the complete annihilation of commerce elsewhere. We will not see 20% of our GDP erased because of this tragedy.

It is also important to note that the U.S. has been hit by other high-magnitude hurricanes in the past. Hard. But we responded just fine:

There are several examples that indicate the gloom-and-doom scenarios won’t occur. For example, in August 1992 after Hurricane Andrew decimated Southern Florida, the media strongly suggested that this disaster would not only mean a poor employment picture in that area for many months, but also a weakened national economy.

Look at how wrong they were:

* Florida’s unemployment rate in August 1992 before Andrew hit was 8.9 percent. Twelve months later, it had plummeted to 7.2 percent as the state added 173,000 jobs.
* Nationally, 2.3 million non-farm jobs were created in the 12 months following Hurricane Andrew, dropping the unemployment rate from 7.6 percent to 6.8 percent.
* Despite all the gloomy predictions, the Gross Domestic Product grew by 4 percent in the 3rd quarter of 1992, and a vigorous 4.5 percent in that year’s 4th quarter.

But Katrina is not just any hurricane. Because of the lingering flood water in New Orleans and the total destruction of communities in Mississippi, there is no quick "Home Depot Effect" that will paradoxically generate jobs and commerce. But there will be in time. It is also unlike other hurricanes, in that it has dominated the national consciousness for nearly two weeks. This "news addition" ("TV shock") effect, with people glued to their televisions for the latest live updates, can have deleterious effects on consumer spending, as we saw after 9/11.

If the next few months of job numbers, GDP numbers, and other economic indicators lag, don't allow the hysteria about a looming recession to get the best of you. This economy is far too resilient. Even if the economic costs total 200 billion dollars or more, in an 11+ trillion dollar economy, we will survive. And we will rebuild. And our economy will be even stronger than it otherwise would have been.

Posted by Will Franklin · 9 September 2005 06:48 PM · Comments (3)

Quotational Therapy: Part 43 -- Huey P. Long, Socialist.

Huey P. Long, "Every Man A King" and "Share Our Wealth" Speeches-

hueylong.gif

Many of Louisiana's problems today are rooted in its long-term one-party rule. The notoriously corrupt Louisiana political machine has waned quite a bit over the past several decades, but it still lingers, particularly within New Orleans. We can look back to infamous Louisiana Governor (and Senator) Huey Long for insight into Louisiana's political culture:

Every Man A King-

It is not the difficulty of the problem which we have; it is the fact that the rich people of this country -- and by rich people I mean the super-rich -- will not allow us to solve the problems, or rather the one little problem that is afflicting this country, because in order to cure all of our woes it is necessary to scale down the big fortunes, that we may scatter the wealth to be shared by all of the people....

Every man a king, so there would be no such thing as a man or woman who did not have the necessities of life, who would not be dependent upon the whims and caprices and ipsi dixit of the financial martyrs for a living. What do we propose by this society? We propose to limit the wealth of big men in the country.

Read the entire February 23, 1934 "Every Man A King" speech here.


Share Our Wealth-

So in this land of God’s abundance we propose laws, viz.:

1. The fortunes of the multimillionaires and billionaires shall be reduced so that no one persons shall own more than a few million dollars to the person....

2. We propose to limit the amount any one man can earn in one year or inherit to $1 million to the person.

3. Now, by limiting the size of the fortunes and incomes of the big men, we will throw into the government Treasury the money and property from which we will care for the millions of people who have nothing; and with this money we ill provide a home and the comforts of home, with such common conveniences as radio and automobile, for every family in America, free of debt.

4. We guarantee food and clothing and employment for everyone who should work by shortening the hours of labor to thirty hours per week, maybe less, and to eleven months per year, maybe less. We would have the hours shortened just so much as would give work to everybody to produce enough for everybody; and if we wee to get them down to where they were too short, then we would lengthen them again. As long as all the people working can produce enough of automobiles, radios, homes, schools, and theatres for everyone to have that kind of comfort and convenience, then let us all have work to do and have that much of heaven on earth.

5. We would provide education at the expense of the states and the United States for every child, not only through grammar school and high school but through to a college and vocational education. We would simply extend the Louisiana plan to apply to colleges and all people. Yes, we would have to build thousands of more colleges and employ 100,000 more teachers; but we have materials, men, and women who are ready and available for the work. Why have the right to a college education depend upon whether the father or mother is so well-to-do as to send a boy or girl to college? We would give every child the right to education and a living at birth.

6. We would give a pension to all persons above sixty years of age in an amount sufficient to support them in comfortable circumstances, expecting those who earn $1,000 per year or who are worth $10,000.

7. Until we could straighten things out--and we can straighten things out in two months under our program--we would grant a moratorium on all debts which people owe that they cannot pay.

And now you have our program, none too big, none too little, but every man a king.

Read the entire March 7, 1935 "Share Our Wealth" speech here.

Karl Marx could hardly have imagined such an absurd "workers paradise." Unfortunately, that sense of "they" (rich people) are against "us" (citizens of Louisiana) still pervades society, to this day.

Huey Long was one of the mightiest forces in American politics in the 20th century. His legacy, thus, endures, 70 years hence. This legacy is the primary reason why Houston and Miami and Atlanta and other Southern cities have become bastions of commerce and culture and people, while New Orleans has been muddled in an anachronistic devotion to a fading culture, with lagging commerce and a shrinking population.

The race-based political machine of Louisiana must come to an end. It must. Or Louisiana will never recover.


-----------------------------

Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

George W. Bush's 1st Inaugural Address.

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 9 September 2005 12:29 PM · Comments (2)

Social Security Reform Thursday: Week Thirty-Two -- Dependency and Social Security.

reformthursdayblue.gif

Thursdays are good days for reform, because they fall between Wednesdays and Fridays. And reform is a long-haul process, not a fleeting event.

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

This week's topic:

Dependence On Social Security.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, it quickly became evident that hundreds of thousands of Americans would be completely at the mercy of other Americans, and wholly dependent on the aid of strangers, for a long time.

But just how many people were already dependent on government for their every need before Hurricane Katrina?

Lots.

Subsidized or public housing, public transportation, public schools, and public assistance for food and clothing and medicine. The works. But how many folks were dependent on a Social Security check for nearly their entire retirement benefit?

Lots.

And in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the United States Postal Service and the Social Security administration are scrambling to deliver benefit checks to displaced individuals:

In the days since the storm moved through, officials have handed out about 10,000 Social Security checks in Mississippi and 5,000 in Louisiana....

...for some 720,000 customers around New Orleans deliveries are not possible.

In Mississippi alone, approximately 100,000 people in Mississippi are still unable to get mail.

A nightmare. Many people who are now temporarily dependent on government (and churches and individuals and corporations and charities, etc.) for everything, were already dependent on government for nearly everything.

socialsecurityincome.gif

For one out of five Americans over the age of 65, Social Security is the only source of income. For one out of three, it is the source of about 90% or more of income. And nearly 2/3 of "chronologically enhanced" Americans depend on Social Security for more than half of their income.

That is astoundingly high.

It's no wonder a relatively high poverty rate persists for elderly minorities, in particular:

povertyforoldpeople.gif

Near poor, in the above chart, refers to those between 100% and 125% of the poverty line. Women are particularly hard hit, as are African-Americans and Latinos.

So many of the evacuees from New Orleans were already poverty-stricken, living day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month, depending on Uncle Sam for food, clothing, shelter, and medicine, just to name the necessities.

In some ways, it was an entirely rational decision to STAY PUT, even in the path of the hurricane. Why expend resources to get out of town, possibly for a false alarm or a measly Category 1 or 2 storm, when the Social Security check comes in the mail in just a couple of days?

And today, we see the mad scramble to divert Social Security checks to the proper individuals in the Astrodome and elsewhere scattered around the country. If that is their only source of income, they need those checks.

And this also explains why older Americans are so reluctant to reform Social Security. They worry they may not get their checks.

No checks, no money. No money, no necessities of life.

Now, imagine if FDR had set up a Social Security system with personal accounts, instead of the failed pay-as-you-go pyramid scheme system of funding we have today. Or even some sort of hybrid system. Anything but the way it is done now.

Not only would some of those elderly evacuees now have something in the form of assets to get them through this disaster and help them start a new life elsewhere, many of them would not have depended so exclusively on the government for aid, living from benefit check to benefit check, BEFORE Katrina even hit.

That's what Social Security reform is all about. Empowering individuals. Giving people a chance to grow assets that belong to them, not theoretical benefits that trickle in through the mail each month. Breaking the cycle of dependence on month-by-month checks from the government. And giving people the chance to pass the fruits of their lifetimes of labor onto their children and their children's children.

African-American communities would benefit disproportionately more than nearly any other group from Social Security reform with personal accounts. Today, according to the Cato Institute, the typical black household has 10% the level of assets (net worth) the typical white household has (.pdf) Social Security reform would certainly narrow that gap. Furthermore, African-Americans on average get a much poorer return on their Social Security contributions than whites, because of shorter life-expectancy rates. Indeed, many blacks see a negative rate of return on their lifetime of contributions.

One reason many anti-reform types often give for opposing modernization of Social Security is that it works so well, as-is, to eliminate poverty.

BZZZZT.

Wrong.

No it doesn't. Social Security is, as-is, a failure. Over the years, Social Security has mitigated some poverty, to be sure, but at the same time, it robbed each and every working American of the opportunity to earn compound interest in personal "lockbox" account. And it has fed into the cycle of dependency for the poorest Americans.

And in the coming years, without reform, Social Security will leave even more individuals in poverty than it does today.

In the future, if America is to remain on top of the world, economically, we must empower individuals. It is time to give all Americans a hand up, rather than a modest monthly handout. We must reform Social Security.

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).
-Week Thirty (Reform Better Deal Than Status Quo).
-Week Thirty-One (Social Security As A Labor Cost).

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 8 September 2005 10:59 PM · Comments (2)

The Louisiana Libertarian Lives.

Kevin Boyd, of Louisiana Libertarian fame, had not been heard of in a few days. But he is okay. Go check out his thoughts on Katrina.

Posted by Will Franklin · 8 September 2005 08:33 PM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 163 -- New Orleans.

Political Machine Politics Defeated New Orleans-

New Orleans can and should be rebuilt. It must be. But much about New Orleans needs to change. The race-based political machine of New Orleans should never return. The corruption, mismanagement, graft, and laziness of government officials in the Crescent City must become relics of the past, washed away by Katrina.

New Orleans must retain and regain much of its unique charm, but the city should also follow the lead of Houston or Miami:

In 1920, New Orleans's population was nearly three times that of Houston and nine times Miami's. It was the primary Southern destination for European and Caribbean immigrants. Now, both the Houston and Miami areas--despite their own ample experience with disasters of the natural as well as the man-made variety--have long since surpassed New Orleans, with populations more than three times as large. During the '90s, the Miami and Houston areas grew almost six times as fast as greater New Orleans, and flourished as major destinations for immigrants, particularly from Latin America.

These newcomers have helped transform Miami and Houston into primary centers for trade, investment and services, from finance and accounting to medical care, for the entire Caribbean basin. They have started businesses, staffed factories, and become players in civic life. Houston has taken over completely as the dominant center for the energy industry, once a key high-wage employer in the New Orleans region.

Instead of serving as a major commercial and entrepreneurial center, New Orleans's dominant industry lies not in creating its future but selling its past, much of which now sits underwater. Tourism defines contemporary New Orleans' economy more than its still-large port, or its remaining industry, or its energy production. Although there is nothing wrong, per se, in being a tourist town, it is not an industry that attracts high-wage jobs; and tends to create a highly bifurcated social structure. This can be seen in New Orleans's perennially high rates of underemployment, crime and poverty. The murder rate is 10 times the national average.

There is no good reason for Houston, in 2005, to have been a booming and thriving city, economically, culturally, and otherwise, while pre-hurricane New Orleans languished.

No reason, that is, other than political leadership.

Michael Barone adds that New Orleans must reform, because it was dying, slowly, even before Katrina:

The population of the central city declined from 484,000 in 2000 to 462,000 in 2004 -- one of the biggest percentage declines in the nation. It seems unlikely that many of the small wooden houses in neighborhoods dominated by the criminal underclass will be habitable after the waters recede, nor will it be worth anyone's money to rebuild them....

But New Orleans' heritages of upper-class complaisance and political corruption -- the result of the city's French tradition -- work against a more broadly based commercial and economic revival. Without changes in these attitudes, historic New Orleans may revive, but the city will become little more than a theme park, like Venice, and not the great commercial beehive it once was.

Indeed, some more tidbits on the pre-hurricane decay of New Orleans:

According to the Census, the population of New Orleans in 2000 was 485,000 of whom 326,000 were black, 136,000 white, and the remaining ten thousand or so each, Asian or Hispanic.

If 75-80 percent of the population evacuated the city safely before the storm hit, as everybody is reporting, that means that far more than half the black population escaped safely before the storm slammed into the city. Even if all those who did not evacuate were black — and that is manifestly not true — 25 percent of the total population is only 121,000. Twenty percent is 96,000. By far the majority of blacks in New Orleans, who numbered as the storm began some 326,000, evacuated in advance....

The Census report shows what that means in vivid detail. In 2000, there were only 25,000 two-parent families in New Orleans with children under 18. By contrast, there were more than 26,000 female householders with children under 18, and no husband present. In other words, slightly more mothers all alone with children than married-couple mothers.

In addition, there were more than 18,000 householders who were more than 65 years old and living alone. Of these, most would normally be female.

If you add together the 26,000 female householders with children under 18, no husband present, and the 18,000 householders more than 65 years old and living alone, that is an estimated 40,000 female-headed households. That explains the pictures we are seeing on television, which are overwhelming female, most often with young children. The chances of persons in this demographic being employed full-time, year round, and with a good income, are not high. The chances of them living in poverty, and without an automobile, are exceedingly high.

New Orleans must be rebuilt. But it must do so with an eye toward reform, not more of the same.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Israel, and the Jewish Vote.

Posted by Will Franklin · 8 September 2005 11:00 AM · Comments (8)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 22.

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:

couchorleans.gif

The actual caption:

Eric Leese sits on a couch in his flooded living room in Metairie, outside New Orleans September 5, 2005. Thousands of residents of suburban New Orleans returned on Monday to inspect homes wrecked by Hurricane Katrina and President George W. Bush went back to the disaster zone to quell a political crisis over bungled aid efforts. (Lee Celano/Reuters)

There must be a better caption out there for this photograph, especially considering how partisan and agenda-filled it is.

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, September 13. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at WILLisms@gmail.com.


Last week's photo:

hugojesse.gif

Winners from last week:

1.

Rodney Dill:

Chavez: "I'm please to have such a well known celebrity as Bill Cosby come and visit our beautiful country."


2.

Hoodlumman:

With the full support of Jessie Jackson, Hugo Chavez tries unsuccessfully to blow the winning bubble in the 'Hubba Bubba Chicle De Globo Espectacular.'


3.

Buckley F. Williams:

And then with the customary overly firm handshake, the "Quien Es Mas Macho" contest began.


Honorable Mention #1

bullwinkle:

While Jackson distracted Chavez with time-tested ploy of, "One, two, three, four, I declare thumb war!", he managed to lift his wallet with his free hand.


Honorable Mention #2

Kevin Turner (via email):

"The Reverend Jesse Jackson surprised Venezuelan Dick-tator Hugo Chavez with the NaMBLA 'left-handed secret handshake'."

Captioning is good, and good for you.

Enter today!

Posted by Will Franklin · 7 September 2005 10:15 AM · Comments (28)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 162 -- Partisan Support For Israel.

Republicans, Democrats, and Israel-

israelsupport.gif

Republicans are more likely to support Israel than Democrats (take out Jews themselves and the disparity becomes even more pronounced). Most American Jews, dating back to FDR, vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. President Bush did make gains among Jewish voters from 2000 to 2004, but the gains were relatively small. Only 1/4 of Jewish voters in 2004 went for Bush.

Something's got to give, here.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Improvements in America's Educational System.

Posted by Will Franklin · 7 September 2005 10:11 AM · Comments (0)

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

We call it "Classiness, All Around Us."

certifiedclassy.gif

Click to explore more WILLisms.com.


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

1.

Sheep, Sheepdogs, and Wolves... and Tribes-

sheepdogs.gif

Bill Whittle gives us the best essay of the year (a must-read) on Katrina:

Courage isn’t free. It is taught, taught by certain tribes who have been around enough and seen enough incoming storms to know what one looks like. And I think the people of this nation, and those of New Orleans, specifically, desire and deserve some fundamental lessons in courage.

Because we are going to need it.

You must go read this piece. It is not optional. Go. Now. Read it. Of everything I have read this year, nothing has impacted me as much.

2.

Closet Conservatives-

liberalmedia.gif

GOP Vixen details her experiences as a rare Republican journalist on election night:

Isn’t having a Republican in the newsroom a hoot? It’s also somewhat of a tourist attraction. One friend from the sports department stopped by later in the evening. “Did you really vote for Bush?” he asked solemnly. I confirmed his darkest fear. “You’re the only person I know who voted for Bush,” he continued, just staring down at me.

Sounds a little bit like graduate school.


3.

Weeping For New Orleans-

neworleans.gif

Cafe Hayek blog weeps for his hometown:

But damn it, isn’t it time people reject as a cruel hoax the notion that government possesses superhuman powers and is motivated by angelic intentions? That it can do things that non-political institutions cannot do?

Who can still believe that, when the chips are down and there’s no one left to count on, people can count on their government for basic help?

Katrina, in addition to stripping my hometown of life, unmasked the pretenses of government as savior.

In a hurricane, or any other disaster as broad as this, the government can't do everything. We live in a free society, and I doubt any of the critics are prepared to give the federal government more power to force people out of their homes and line up military forces any time a hurricane sniffs land.


4.

The Passing of William Rehnquist-

rehnquist.gif

Right Wing News catalogues some of the more choice comments from some weirdo left-wingers on the passing of America's Chief Justice:

I don't know if that should surprise anybody given the fanatical level of hatred for all thing conservative that seems to grip so many liberals today, but it's worth noting that Rehnquist wasn't a political animal or a bomb thrower. As a matter of fact, compared to Scalia and Thomas, he was fairly low profile despite the fact that he was Chief Justice. Give that, it's fair to say that the blinding hatred you're about to see was probably inspired by little more than the fact that Rehnquist was a conservative judge.

Go read some of the comments. Some people have just lost it.

LOST. IT. It is amazing.


5.

Hugo Chavez-

cubanization.gif

Publius Pundit blog explains how Venezuela is going down the tubes because of Hugo Chavez:

...Venezuela’s housing stock is already becoming ‘Cubanized,’ and more disturbingly still, a population is becoming radicalized and communized, a formula for dead-end poverty, which, in a communist state, strips a population of the mental means of ending its misery because their anger is so misdirected.

The Cubanization of Venezuela is being accompanied by the Venezuelanization of Cuba, as Chavez props up the bearded tyrant.


6.

Our Media-

24hournews.gif

Dean Esmay notes that the backbiting about a slow response to Katrina is not warranted:

...the recriminations about the Federal response are more about a) politics, and b) the 24 hour news cycle. When this is all over, mostly we'll look back and see that the response was fast and timely and effective....

But I go back to it: in a month, most will be looking at how impressively fast the first responders were and how much good was done in so short a time period. All those claiming it was too slow will look just a little crazy--driven crazy by the 24 hour news cycle.

It is times like these that show just how influential the left-leaning establishment media remain.

7.

African-Americans and Poltical Leadership-

lbj.gif

No Speed Bumps blog examines what was wrong with New Orleans and other predominantly African-American cities now and before the storm ever even hit:

Ironically, the most successful policy for helping the poor since the 1970s, after all the Great Society programs became fully institutionalized – is the 1994 welfare reform. This, in a way, is an anti-Great Society program. It recognized the limits of simply giving people welfare money as long as they did not earn too much. Common sense says that there is an incentive in welfare benefits to work less. The Great Society mentality had rejected this idea as being backward. The thinking was that people would work if they could – and it was nonsense to think that people would work less hard, or fewer hours, because you gave them some welfare money or other benefits (health care, food stamps, housing, etc.). Many still believe this.

Racial gaps in income, in employment, in academics, and just about every other indicator have also narrowed substantially in recent years, but one of these days, the African-American community must consider ending its exclusive contract with Democrats.


8.

Katrina Recriminations-

hurricanekatrina.gif

Red State Rant wants everyone to stop the Katrina recriminations:

What's the point of these recriminations? There is none. After the city has been evacuated and rebuilding begins, there will be time to assess the evacuation. This should be done in order to learn from our mistakes in the event of another disaster, not so we can identify the Great Satan behind the catastrophe.

I am constantly amazed how every issue can be politicized by the left. Just sad. I mean, it literally depresses me to think about how low they've gone, and how the media tolerate- no, facilitate-- their ridiculousness.

9.

Bush Calms Frantic Nagin Down-

bushandnagin.gif

Jim Rose notes that President Bush once again refuses to dive into the cesspools from which his critics attack him:

This is what you call confidence...a level of comfort with one's self that totally disarms a critic and helps one take control of a situation. Reagan had that ability, and it seems, so does Bush.

Bush is a better man than Ray Nagin. But he wasn't about to hold that over Nagin's head. Nor was our President about to sink to Nagin's level. Bush kills 'em with kindness, every time. And it is disarming, every time.


10.

Katrina Timeline-

katrinatimeline.gif

Rightwing Nuthouse blog offers a lucid and reasonable timeline of the situation in New Orleans over the past several days.

It is important to get this right. It is important to stop the revisionist history, even as it happens.


11.

Proposing-

soldiersengagement.gif

Wayne's mom of Wayne's World blog recounts her Iraq-deployed son's marriage proposal:

“Everything couldn’t have worked out more perfectly,” Wayne and Lauren agreed. “It was a memorable night we’ll treasure forever.”

A very neat story.


12.

Social Security = A Risky Scheme-

socialsecurityrisky.gif

Political Calculations blog explains the risks of Social Security:

Isn't the opportunity to have true ownership of a portion of one's lifelong contributions from their work combined with the reduction of risk to the individual that comes with diversification reason enough to support having personal retirement accounts within Social Security?

We need to reduce our risk. We need to reform Social Security.


13.

The Best and Worst-

worstofamerica.gif

The Conservative Outpost blog notes that Katrina, unfortunately, has brought out the worst in America:

Usually, here in America, it brings out the best in people. I was here in SC when Hugo came through in 1989 and, with few exceptions, that's exactly what happened. In the face of all the terrible stories we've seen coming out of New Orleans, I note that we don't hear the same type of thing coming from Mississippi or Alabama. Those communities seem to be pulling together and dealing with the situation. Not that they've got it good or anything. Devastation, no homes, no power, etc..., but they're dealing.

New Orleans is different. But why?

Because of a failure of political leadership on the left. They've gone off the deep end.

So much of the left in this country was just waiting for this moment. They thought it would be a terrorist attack. But it was a natural disaster. But they kept the same game plan and went on the attack, ferociously, immediately, and coordinatedly.


14.

Bush and Lincoln-

lincolnbush.gif

In a pre-Katrina post, Mr. Snitch blog notes the similarities between media coverage of Bush and coverage of Lincoln:

There is no doubt that if our greatest historical leaders had to deal with the modern 24-hour news cycle, and the modern partisan "objective" media, one wonders how successful they might have really been.

15.

The Krugster-

krugmania.gif

The Agitator blog explains why we can't let Paul Krugman and co. win the debate:

This is important. We lost the debate after 9/11. Massive government failure inexplicably led to a massive expansion of the government. One result of that expansion -- puting FEMA under the bureaucratic nightmare auspices of DHS -- likely contributed to the futility we've seen over the last week. A government-planned Brasilia-like New New Orleans would be an atrocity. The Paul Krugmans -- or the Jonathan Alters -- simply can't win this debate.

Indeed. It is astounding that Paul Krugman is even taken seriously anymore, but he is.


------------------------------------------------------------


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. 30, 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.

Classy.

Posted by Will Franklin · 6 September 2005 05:41 PM · Comments (5)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 161 -- Education.

Academic Progress-

First, the good news.

moremath.gif

Kids are taking more advanced math classes in school.

Meanwhile, young kids have improved math scores significantly in recent years.

age9math.gif

Incidentally, reading scores are also significantly up over the past 5 or 6 years for 9-year-olds. And the racial gap has gotten smaller, as minorities have caught up somewhat, all while each individual group has improved.

13-year-olds also have improved their scores in recent years, but not as rapidly as 9-year-olds.


There is less good news, though. 17-year-olds have not improved their numbers accordingly over the past few years.

Now, let's think about why that could be the case.

Why would scores, since 1999, improve for younger kids, but not for older kids? It could be an indictment of our entire education system. Even as more teens are taking high math, such as calculus, they aren't necessary soaking any of it in.

Or, it could be evidence that No Child Left Behind (NCLB) actually works. After all, No Child Left Behind targets younger students almost exclusively. President Bush wants to expand No Child Left Behind to upper grades.

Here's what I like about No Child Left Behind:

1. Accountability. But there needs to be more of it, so bad teachers can be fired, good ones paid more, and so on.
2. Results. It has delivered so far. It is hard to argue with success.

Here's what I don't like:

1. Federalized. It is a large federal program. It takes away some local control. It is expensive. Etc.
2. Griping. Every teacher I know hates it. And I don't know enough about the nitty gritty to respond.

Fortunately, the administration does not seem stubborn or dogmatic on the issue, and is willing to make adjustments to improve the program.

America's young kids score about the same or better than almost every other country on earth. By the time they graduate high school, they have fallen behind much of the rest of the world. Yet, our colleges and universities are the best in the world-- and the most plentiful.

If the U.S. is to remain the preeminent global superpower, with the mightiest economy in the world, we must improve our nation's education system. But more money is not necessarily the answer. The U.S. already spends more per student on education than nearly every other country on earth.

School choice is the optimal way to go. Force schools to compete with one another to be the best. No more complacency. No more NEA lockdown on the way schools are run.


Source:
NAEP Trends In Academic Progress (.pdf).

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Supreme Court Nominations.

Posted by Will Franklin · 6 September 2005 12:47 PM · Comments (1)

Quotational Therapy: Part 42 -- Bush's First Inaugural.

President George W. Bush's First Inaugural Address-

bush.gif
Civility is not a tactic or a sentiment. It is the determined choice of trust over cynicism, of community over chaos.

Read the entire speech here.

President Bush has always been classy, always gracious, and always above the fray, sometimes too much for his own good. In today's vicious political climate, with our ravenous 24-hour news cycle, not fighting back is often not a wise political option.

For the exacerbation of the crisis following Hurricane Katrina, George W. Bush could have easily directed anger and blame at the criminally inept Louisiana political machine. He could have blamed New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. He could have said "I told you so" to Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, or any number of other officials. He could have even come out and let the FEMA Chief Michael Brown or someone else take the fall.

But he didn't. He stayed above the fray. Unfortunately, he gets too little credit for this.

But that's not how he operates.

Because he is a leader.

And leaders lead.

-----------------------------

Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Sheehan, In Her Own Words.

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 5 September 2005 12:15 PM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 160 -- Supreme Court Chief Justices.

Chief Justices-

Some facts about Supreme Court nominations.

First, two simultaneous vacancies to the Supreme Court is rare but not unheard of:

It almost happened in 1968, when Chief Justice Earl Warren announced his retirement and President Johnson nominated Associate Justice Abe Fortas as chief. Johnson also nominated Judge Homer Thornberry to Fortas's seat, but that vacancy failed to materialize because the Senate blocked Fortas's nomination (in what reactionary liberals often describe, falsely, as a "filibuster"; see here for the real story), partly because of concerns about Fortas's ethics.

Three times in recent decades the high court actually has had two vacancies at once; on two of those occasions, Rehnquist was appointed:

* In 1969 Warren and Fortas both retired. President Nixon replaced Warren with Warren Burger. The Senate voted against Clement Haynsworth and G. Harrold Carswell for Fortas's seat before finally confirming Harry Blackmun.

* In 1971 Justices Hugo Black and John Marshall Harlan retired within days of each other. Nixon nominated Lewis Powell and Rehnquist, respectively, to replace them.

* In 1986 Burger retired as chief justice and President Reagan elevated Rehnquist and appointed Antonin Scalia to replace Rehnquist as associate justice.

Interestingly, as John Roberts' nomination becomes a nomination for Chief Justice, it is important to note that "of the 16 men who've served as chief justice, only three were elevated directly from the court."

Source:
James Taranto's Best of the Web.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Religion & Politics.

Posted by Will Franklin · 5 September 2005 11:30 AM · Comments (0)

Revolution.

This week's Carnival of Revolutions is up. Go take a peek.

UPDATE:

Also, the Carnival will need hosts for some upcoming weeks. Sign up for a week today.

September 19: Commoner Sense
September 26: OPEN
October 3: OPEN
October 10: Oneworld Media
October 17: OPEN
October 24: OPEN
October 31: OPEN
November 7: OPEN

Shoot me an email if you'd like to sign up. It requires some effort. You'll receive anywhere from 5 to 30 submissions, depending on the week (usually around 10, on average). But you'll need to patrol the blogs that focus on emerging democracy, revolution, and the spread of freedom around the world to find more interesting tidbits.

See the Carnival of Revolutions Home Base for more.

Posted by Will Franklin · 5 September 2005 11:05 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 159 -- The Separation Of Church And State.

Religion and Politics-

Some pundits make a habit of predicting the downfall of the Republican Party due to the "religious right." 2006 will see big gains for Democrats because of the Terri Schiavo controversy, or because of Pat Robertson's comments on a Venezuelan tyrant, or because Americans are just fed up with those nasty Republicans forcing their nasty Christian religion down the throats of America.

Back in the real world, it seems like it's the Democrats who have the religion problem with the American people:

democratsreligionproblem.gif

Fair-minded independents increasingly view Democrats as hostile to religion. And while some Americans certainly think religious conservatives try too hard to impose their values on the society, far more Americans believe that liberals have gone too far in their quest to eradicate all traces of religion from the public square.

religionnetloserfordems.gif

Notice how even African-Americans, even Democrats, even people living in the Northeast, and even secular individuals (not to mention religious folks) are much more likely to say that liberals go too far than they are likely to say that conservatives go too far.

Source:

Pew Research Center
.

Democrats are setting themselves up for yet another failure, if they believe they can play the religion card in 2006 and beyond. If Democrats do play that card, it will only remind Americans who may be moderately skeptical of the Christian conservative agenda that the alternative from Democrats is far worse. Ultimately, people want a balance between church and state, and clearly Americans perceive Democrats-- far more than Republicans-- to be responsible for promoting an unhealthy imbalance.

If Democrats are smart, they will "get religion" and stop the hostility toward religion in the public square. Furthermore, if Democrats are smart, they will stop thinking that religion is a net winner for them at the ballot box.

And they will respond, accordingly.

Why do I offer so much free advice to Democrats? Advice they never take?

No idea.

But it is fun to say "I told you so" after crushing electoral setbacks.


-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Medicaid Spending.

Posted by Will Franklin · 4 September 2005 07:45 PM · Comments (5)

Thoughts On The Houston Red Cross HQ.

I just returned home from volunteering at the Houston Red Cross battle station.

Just a few quick notes and thoughts.

First, the information revolution has not yet reached the Red Cross. No volunteer has a computer. Few would even know what do with a computer if they had one. I brought my laptop and grabbed the WiFi network coming from a nearby building. Why did I need a computer, you ask?

Well, because most of the people calling the Houston Red Cross are seeking their relatives or friends. They just want to know where they are. This is a diaspora the likes our country has not seen in generations. And nobody knows where anyone else is. The Red Cross has this website, and there is NOLA.com, and craigslist.com, and so on. But few have internet access. Just the process of processing everyone and providing a unified database for family and friends to know people are safe is going to take many days. The next step will be to process people, get them longer-term shelter, and so on. America is opening its heart. And there are websites galore devoted to that. There's KatrinaHome.com, KatrinaHousing.org, and Operation: Share Your Home.

The volunteering process, where I was, was interesting, because we were the information warriors. But the information with which people were fighting was lacking. Photocopied packets of shelters and phone numbers and such.

I can just imagine a 21st-century response center. Everything would be linked up. Everyone would have a computer. And information would flow back and forth, in and out, up and down... instantaneously. Updating lists and addresses and phone numbers and everything else, so everyone is on the same page.

A Baptist church in Texas City apparently geared up with doctors and nurses and cots and so forth for 200 people. They had 2 people show up, and only by accident.

Because the information technology was just lacking.

Even just simple requests from callers for, say, the phone number of the Red Cross of San Antonio, or the Red Cross of Mississippi, were not answerable without the ole laptop and WiFi connection.

I was a multi-tasking maven. Every response center, whether it be government, or charity, or anything else, needs multi-tasking mavens with laptops and wireless internet.

Along with the stone age communications and technology weakening the response from the Red Cross is the kind of thing that hurts every bureaucracy. Airlines want to donate tickets through the Red Cross, but they can't get in touch with the appropriate top brass at the Red Cross. Meanwhile, the appropriate top brass at the Red Cross can't get in touch with the pertinent people at the airlines.

So many stories like this. Puzzles. Unnecessary puzzles. Unforeseen puzzles. Unavoidable puzzles. But puzzles.

The situation is so fluid, and there will be puzzles unsolved until the situation stabilizes. There has just been nothing like this, ever before, in our nation's history. It is just a staggering jigsaw puzzle, the size of Great Britain. But many of the pieces of the puzzle are hidden, and bent, and broken, and strewn across our country.

Now, there are a few steps in this thing, and people need to try their best not to get ahead of themselves. One foot in front of another.

First is to get people the basics. Food, clothing, shelter, medical treatment, and so on. This is ongoing. And it will be ongoing for quite some time.

Just the basics. For countless people.

Finding long-term housing, jobs, and so on, and rebuilding the Gulf Coast, will come later.

This is just an amazing logistical puzzle.

In New Orleans itself, and in the rest of the "Upper Gulf Coast," communications are down. Power is down. Homes are destroyed. Transportation infrastructure is badly damaged. This is simply staggering, this entire deal.

The good news: lots of people want to volunteer, lots of people want to give money and clothes and food and other supplies, lots of people want to open their homes and their churches, and lots of people want to help in a variety of other ways.

If you can, give of your time, of your money... just do something. And shut your traps if you're not going to contribute something positive to the situation.

A lot of other interesting stories from tonight, and ideas bouncing around my head, but I am just beat.

Posted by Will Franklin · 4 September 2005 03:16 AM · Comments (7)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 158 -- Medicaid Spending.

Medicaid Spending Run Amok-

medicaidspending.gif

Source:
Cato Institute (.pdf).

{shudder}


-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Hurricanes.

Posted by Will Franklin · 3 September 2005 12:59 PM · Comments (1)

VIDEO: Kanye West Asserts "Bush Doesn't Care About Black People."

Kanye West, the low-talent rapper/producer, used NBC's Hurricane Relief telethon into a platform to criticize the war in Iraq. And apparently "George Bush doesn't care about black people."

kanyewest.gif
-click for video-

The look on Mike Myers' face was priceless. Same with Chris Tucker.

What is wrong with people?

Get a grip, America.

Posted by Will Franklin · 2 September 2005 09:11 PM · Comments (42)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 157 -- Hurricanes.

U.S. Hurricane Strikes, 1851-2004-

ushurricanestrikes.gif

The average number of hurricanes per decade is 17.7, with 6 "major hurricanes" (category 3, 4, or 5, on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale) over the same frame.

We may very well exceed the decade average from 2001 to 2010 at the rate we're going. But we're unlikely to hit the 1940s mark in serious hurricanes-- nor in overall hurricanes.

It is also pertinent to note that the general trend actually seems to be that of slight decline over the years. Imagine that.

Amazingly, from 1851 to 2004, the U.S. averaged only 1.2 category 4 hurricane strikes per decade, and only three category 5 hurricanes have hit the U.S.

181 (two-thirds of) hurricanes have been category 1 or 2.
92 (one-third of) hurricanes have been category 3, 4, or 5.

Source:

National Weather Service, National Hurricane Center.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Job Creation and Labor Costs.

Posted by Will Franklin · 2 September 2005 11:15 AM · Comments (10)

Politicizing Hurricane Katrina.

Petty partisanship has always been part of American politics. Always.

And people are typically just plain wrong when they assert that the tone of our politics is at an "all time low."

Well, we're now seeing actual new lows from much of the left today. In our history, the opposition has typically dropped the day-to-day pettiness, for a little while, at least, in times of ongoing national crisis. No recriminations. No backbiting. No Monday morning quarterbacking. No crazy conspiracy theories.. For a few days, usually.

Just a few days of unity.

The blame game always comes from the fringe, but even the fringe usually keeps their yappers shut for a few days, or until a crisis situation is stabilized.

We're seeing new, coordinated lows from some prominent partisans on the left. And it makes me sick.

Ken McCracken has a great roundup of the insanity, and offers this graphic that sums up the situation perfectly:

stfu.gif

Patrick Ruffini has another great roundup on the "Hurricane of Hatred," noting that the tackiness has emanated not from the fringe but from the Democratic National Committee itself.

And Art Chrenkoff adds more evidence of ridiculousness.

Hugh Hewitt, meanwhile, thinks this may be a "Paul Wellstone memorial/political pep rally" kind of moment. I concur that it should be, but something has changed for the worse since 2002 in our political climate. So Democrats likely won't pay a direct political price like they did in 2002.

It's just absurd, some of these theories. Much of the left is just throwing anything and everything, no matter how trashy or nonsensical or absurd, against Bush, and hoping something sticks.

At least former President Clinton is showing some class. Democrats today have a choice moving toward the next election(s). They can moderate (rhetorically, and image-wise, at least), emulating President Clinton's political strategy of the 1990s; or, they can go down the Howard Dean/Daily Kos/MoveOn.org route. It's their call, and it's not too late for them to turn back from this madness.

It's just so unfortunate for our nation that we have such a worthless and unloyal opposition. Sure, they've brought down Bush's poll numbers and blocked progress on certain issues, but Democrats are deluded if they think they will somehow benefit at the voting booth from this sort of tackiness.

UPDATE:

This is the kind of trash I am talking about:

bushkatrina.gif

I received this cartoon via email yesterday from the Center For American Progress, which-- led by John Podesta and funded by George Soros-- has become sort of a "shadow DNC," raising gobs of unaccounted-for money through its 501(c)3 & 501(c)4 status, elbowing out Howard Dean to represent Democrats on programs like Meet The Press, waiting in the wings.

Posted by Will Franklin · 2 September 2005 11:11 AM · Comments (9)

Quotational Therapy: Part 41 -- Cindy Sheehan, On America.

Cindy Sheehan, In Her Own Words-

cindysheehan.gif
"Thank God for the Internet, or we wouldn't know anything, and we would already be a fascist state."
"Our government is run by one party, every level, and the mainstream media is a propaganda tool for the government."
"Then we have this lying bastard, George Bush, taking a five week vacation in a time of war. You know what? I'm never going to get to enjoy another vacation because of him. My vacation probably -- this is really sad because I have a really cute dress I was going to wear to the banquet tomorrow night -- but I'm either going to be in jail or in a tent in Crawford, waiting until that jerk comes out and tells me why my son died."
"You tell me the truth. You tell me that my son died for oil. You tell me that my son died to make your friends rich. You tell me my son died to spread the cancer of Pax Americana, imperialism in the Middle East."
"And if you think I won't say bulls**t to the President, I say move on, cause I'll say what's on my mind."
"You get that evil maniac out here, 'cause a Gold Star Mother, somebody whose blood is on his hands, has some questions for him."
"The biggest terrorist is George W. Bush."
"If he thinks that it's so important for Iraq to have a U.S.-imposed sense of freedom and democracy, then he needs to sign up his two little party-animal girls. They need to go to this war."
"What can we do to get him out of power? And I'm gonna say the 'I' word: Impeach. And we have to have everybody impeached that lied to the American public, and that's the executive branch, and any people in congress, and we got to go all the way down... to the person who picks up the dogs**t in Washington because we can't let somebody rise to the top who will pardon these war criminals. Because they need to go to prison for what they've done in this world. We can't have a pardon. They need to pay for what they've done."
"It's up to us, the people, to break immoral laws and resist. As soon as the leaders of a country lie to you, they have no authority over you. These maniacs have no authority over us. And they might be able to put our bodies in prison, but they can't put our spirits in prison."
"Is there anyone in America who cannot yet see that Donald Rumsfeld is a liar, that he -- as with Hitler and Stalin -- will say anything so long as he thinks it will help shape the world to his own liking? Is there even one sane adult among us who cannot see that Donald Rumsfeld is a threat to our nation's security and to peace on our beloved earth?"
"Am I emotional? Yes, my first born was murdered. Am I angry? Yes, he was killed for lies and for a PNAC [Project for the New American Century] Neo-Con agenda to benefit Israel. My son joined the Army to protect America, not Israel. Am I stupid? No, I know full well that my son, my family, this nation, and this world were betrayed by George [W.] Bush who was influenced by the neo-con PNAC agenda after 9/11."
"We are waging a nuclear war in Iraq right now. That country is contaminated. It will be contaminated for practically eternity now."
"I was raised in a country by a public school system that taught us that America was good, that America was just. America has been killing people... since we first stepped on this continent; we have been responsible for death and destruction. I passed on that bulls**t to my son, and my son enlisted. I'm going all over the country telling moms this country is not worth dying for."
"Our country has been overtaken by murderous thugs... gangsters who lust after fortunes and power, never caring that their addictions are at the expense of our loved ones, and the blood of innocent people near and far. We've watched these thugs parade themselves before the whole world as if they are courageous advocates for Christian moral values... and for the spread of democracy. Yet we all know that they are now putting in place, all across this country, a system of voting that provides no way to validate the accuracy of the counting of the votes... and that, by its very design, prohibits recounting the votes. Our loved ones have been buried in early graves even as these arrogant thugs parade themselves before the entire world, insisting that democracy is worth dying for, killing for, and destroying entire cities for... In their secret hiding places, while celebrating newly won fortunes with their fellow brass, these men must surely congratulate themselves with orgies of carnal pleasure as they mock the dwindling multitudes who are yet so blind as to mistake them for God's devoted servants."

Source:
The American Spectator.

There's more:

"George is finished playing golf and telling his fables in San Diego, so he will be heading to Louisiana to see the devastation that his environmental policies and his killing policies have caused."

And even more:

Cindy Sheehan said she is "losing compassion" for those mothers who have lost children in Iraq but still choose to support the mission there. The mothers are "brainwashed," Mrs. Sheehan thinks.

It is no wonder this lunatic has not changed any minds. Indeed, she has made slightly more people more likely to support the war in Iraq than to oppose it:

sheehanpoll.gif

She is trash.

Finally, Sheehan:

"I look back on it, and I am very, very, very grateful he did not meet with me, because we have sparked and galvanized the peace movement," Sheehan told The Associated Press. "If he'd met with me, then I would have gone home, and it would have ended there."

So she didn't really care about meeting Bush a second time. It was just a handy way to get some publicity.

Fortunately, though, for all of us, the summer of Sheehan is coming to an end:

sheehanblogpulse.gif

Unfortunately, the left's Sheehan-anger is being diverted and parlayed into Katrina-anger.


-----------------------------

Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Karl Marx, On Free Trade.

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 2 September 2005 10:35 AM · Comments (5)

Katrina: Donate, If You Can.

If you can, give a little cash to the Red Cross:

redcross.gif
-click to donate directly to the Red Cross-

Call 1-800-HELP NOW if you prefer.

You can also donate through www.amazon.com.

That's really all the explanation necessary. God bless all the people touched by this disaster.

Posted by Will Franklin · 1 September 2005 05:16 PM · Comments (2)

Social Security Reform Thursday: Week Thirty-One -- Social Security A Burdensome Labor Cost.

reformthursdayblue.gif

Thursdays are good days for reform, because they fall between Wednesdays and Fridays. And reform is a long-haul process, not a fleeting event.

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

This week's topic:

Labor Costs and Social Security.

In an increasingly global economy, American workers and American companies, large and small, compete with workers and companies from every other nation on earth.

As noted earlier, labor costs are not simply wages alone. Labor costs include direct and indirect benefits. Social Security is one of those benefits that factors into the labor cost for an American worker. This labor cost hits small businesses particularly hard.

employercontribution.gif

Right now, we're in a decent position on overall labor costs, relative to other countries (our wages and benefits are higher, relatively, than our labor costs), but Social Security costs are a significant burden on both employees and employers. At one point, Social Security contributions made some sort of sense, because there was a perception that the contributions were an investment in retirement. But, as those against reform remind us again and again, Social Security is "not a retirement program," it is an "insurance program."

A really lousy insurance program.

A really lousy insurance program that is mandatory.

A really lousy insurance program that is mandatory and would be considered unethical, if not criminal, if any private insurance company operated it.

No longer can any rational person have confidence that Social Security contributions are going toward a worthy cause. But those contributions are a very real labor cost. This waste of a labor cost is increasingly problematic in a globalized world, with global labor competition.

We could do better. And we will.

Many would "just raise taxes and be done with it" to solve Social Security's looming crisis.

This would be a mistake, as it would unnecessarily raise labor costs for the United States (without really raising any benefit to the worker or employer), lowering the incentive to hire new workers and retain older ones.

We should consider how to lower the Social Security payroll tax, thus lowering the cost of labor, while parlaying the remaining tax into boosting meaningful benefits for workers. Higher wages, higher benefits, with lower overall labor costs. It is a recipe for attracting the best and brightest workers and businesses to the United States, while keeping existing businesses from seeking cheaper (but, increasingly, highly skilled) labor elsewhere.

Why Social Security Cannot Continue In Its Present Form-

In 1940, Ida May Fuller received the first Social Security benefit check, for $22.54, after having paid forty nine dollars and fifty cents ($49.50) into the system. She ended up receiving a 46,000% return on her contribution.

It was a suspiciously untenable system from the very beginning, but the system worked because the demographics worked:

In the 1930s average life expectancy in the U.S. was 57 years. Setting the age for retirement benefits at 65 years meant the majority of people would die before becoming eligible to collect. Today, the average life expectancy is 76 years. By the middle of this century, the average American will live to be 82.

The demographics no longer make sense.

But personal accounts do:

The long-term history of the U.S. stock market lends credence to the idea that personal accounts would work as suggested. Over the past 80 years, shares of stock in U.S. companies, on average, have grown in value by more than 10 percent per year compounded. The inflation-adjusted compound rate of return has been 7.6 percent per year.

If these types of historical returns on investment are repeated in the future, personal Social Security accounts would grow into enormous sums. If the current Social Security taxes for a person who worked at minimum wage for his or her entire working life (about 45 years) were invested at these historical rates of return, it would grow to nearly $500,000. This would be sufficient to purchase a lifetime annuity paying about $37,000 per year.

If the current Social Security taxes for a person who worked at the average wage for his or her entire working life were invested at these historical rates of return, it would grow to more than $1.1 million. This would be sufficient to purchase a lifetime annuity paying about $90,000 per year.

Both of these figures compare quite favorably to both the average ($11,460 per year) and the maximum ($22,500 per year) Social Security benefit over the same timeframe.

It's foolish that we're not taking advantage of personal accounts to lower (or at least stave off the rise of) labor costs while boosting benefits to workers and the overall economy.

It is foolish, but if you examine the motives of the most ardent status-quoers, it becomes clear the reform of Social Security is a major battle in the post-Cold War insurgency.

Is it any wonder the left-over socialists still fighting on behalf of Marxism have made opposition to Social Security reform their primary objective?

Ironically, the Labor movement in this country, in its irrational and intractable opposition to sensible Social Security reform, is really just-- yet again-- harming its own cause.

For the sake of American jobs, let's reform Social Security. Sooner rather than later.

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).
-Week Thirty (Reform Better Deal Than Status Quo).

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 1 September 2005 03:44 PM · Comments (4)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 156 -- U.S. Job Creation.

American Versus European Job Creation-

In the past couple of years, the American economy has added about 4 million jobs. The E.U. economies, meanwhile, have seen flat employment numbers.

But what about the past three decades or so?

Same general story.

jobcreationusaeu.gif

And taking a closer look at Germany, we can see that recessions drive unemployment upward, while stronger economic growth barely budges unemployment downward.

germanunemploymentgdp.gif

The primary causes of sluggish job growth in Europe are high labor costs, both direct and indirect, both financial and otherwise. Many people think of labor costs strictly in terms of wages and direct benefits, but labor costs entail so much more. The cost of terminating an employee tends to be much higher in Europe than in the U.S., so employers are cautious in hiring people in the first place.

Look at the coincidence between indirect labor cost growth and unemployment, in Germany.

indirectlaborcostsgermany.gif

In 2002, the labor costs for a German industrial worker were 22% higher than an American worker; simultaneously, though, after-tax take-home pay in Germany was 16% lower in Germany than in the U.S. (not to mention that Germany is just more expensive than America, so an American wage goes further than a German wage).

And the Germans are ready for some sort of change. Gerhard Schroeder continues to lag in the polls behind Angela Merkel in the upcoming German election. And Merkel has recently taken on the "Art Laffer of Germany," signalling she means to make very real changes in Germany's tired economy.

Astonishingly, Germany is debating the flat tax idea with some seriousness. Whatever Germany-- and the rest of Old Europe-- do, they need to think about how indirect labor costs affect employment.


-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Posted by Will Franklin · 1 September 2005 10:53 AM · Comments (0)